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It's OK Not To Be OK (But I Promise, I'm Trying) by rayrae118 Chapter 6 Disclaimer: not mine When Minerva returned from seeing Poppy back to Hogwarts, she found a rather depressed Sirius waiting for her. Not wanting to find another chair, she simply sat down on the edge of the bed, lightly resting her hand on top of Harry's free one, mindful of the healing process taking place under the skin.

She allowed her stern mask to fall, showing the very real worry she felt for the son of two of her best friends. "Poppy said he'll be all right," Sirius spoke first, his voice sounding slightly raspy, and mostly like he was trying to convince himself.

Minerva just nodded, and Sirius cleared his throat, before speaking again. "She seemed rather calm, considering she was in the same room as a mass murderer." Minerva shook her head.

"She didn't require any persuasion to believe that you were innocent. Poppy was much fonder of you, Remus, and James than you may believe." Sirius snorted, and Minerva's smile widened slightly. "Since we are about to embark on a rather rough journey together, I feel I should let you know that I was too." Now Sirius shook his head in disbelief. He was fairly certain that a majority of the gray hairs on the Transfiguration mistress' head were his fault.

Minerva gave him a slightly severe look, as if she knew what he was thinking about. Deciding to get to the matter at hand, she squared her shoulders to prepare herself. "Mr. Black, we should discuss what we plan to do from here. As things stand, you are in no position to take care of your godson. I have begun the process of getting your name cleared, but I do not think it will be a fast process." Sirius nodded. There was nothing surprising in that.

"I would like to set up a meeting with Amelia Bones as quickly as possible, both to officially remove Harry from the care of his relatives, and to see about getting you a trial." Sirius contemplated his former professor. "What did you have in mind?" he asked curiously, wanting to hear what her plans were. Minerva bit her lip, suddenly nervous. Here's where her plan could fall apart. "I've already informed Amelia that I would like to become Harry's guardian.

I was thinking hoping, he would be willing. McGonagall Castle is rather lonely, and I thought Harry might like all the space. Particularly, the Quidditch pitch, though it hasn't been used in years.

I would like to extend that invitation to you as well. I don't believe the Ministry would look for you, there, and you would be able to spend some time getting to know your godson." Sirius was gob smacked. He had never imagined Minerva offering him such a great deal. He didn't even have to think about it before agreeing.

Minerva nodded, smiling gently at her former student. "As soon as Harry is awake, we'll talk with him, and hopefully see about moving him to his new home.

Once we know if this plan is acceptable with him, I will contact Amelia again." Sirius agreed with her outline, and the two settled down to watch over their charge, just waiting to see those brilliant green eyes once more. As they waited, they spent some time getting reacquainted.

Minerva learned just where it was they were staying for the time being, and Sirius learned more about Harry's first three years at Hogwarts. Minerva gave him her reasons for not doing more, and they both commiserated in their guilt over not being there for the young man who was so important to them.

XXX Harry awoke slowly, hearing voices before he could think clearly enough to put faces to them. McGonagall's Scottish brogue mixed in with the strict intonation he knew could only belong to Hogwarts' own mediwitch. He panicked for a moment, wondering what had happened and where he was, before a deeper baritone entered the conversation, and Harry recognized his godfather's voice.

And then he panicked again, worrying that Poppy would tell the authorities about Sirius. "Mr. Potter?" Harry groaned, so Poppy tried again. "Harry, I know you can hear me. Can you open your eyes?" It took a few moments, but eventually he was able to raise his lids just a little. Poppy's assuring smile swam into view, along with a good deal of light, causing Harry to groan and close his eyes again. A rustling sound followed by the blackness behind his lids getting darker informed him that someone had taken care of the light problem.

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He made another attempt to open his eyes, and was pleased to discover that it was much easier this time. Poppy was at his side, checking his vitals and doing something to his chest. He felt the same prickly pins and needles sensation that he would forevermore associate with Skele-Gro. The feeling was all up his left arm, down his right leg, and throughout his chest and shoulders. It was uncomfortable, but he had a feeling it would have been worse had he woken up earlier. "Ah, Mr. Potter, welcome back to the world of the living," Poppy smiled, which surprised Harry a little.

He couldn't remember the matron of the Infirmary being anything other than stern and unyielding. Some of his confusion must have shown on his face, because Poppy began to explain the current situation, as she finished up with her assessment.

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"You've been unconscious for a little over a day. You suffered from a moderate concussion and several broken bones. In addition to healing those injuries, I have also begun the process of dealing with several older maladies that went untreated, which is why you are feeling the Skele-Gro in your leg as well as the arm and chest." Her voice grew softer and more compassionate as she continued, "I can see what I can do about the scars, but we thought it would be best for the investigation if we got some photos of those first." Harry grimaced and looked down, ashamed.

A pressure on his right hand had him looking over, into the understanding eyes of his godfather. Sirius gave him a comforting smile.

"We've all been talking, Harry, and we've got what we think is a pretty good plan worked out, but we'd like to run it by you first, to see what you think. We'll talk about that when you're a little better, though, all right?" Harry nodded, his eyelids already drooping.

Poppy put her wand away and stood back, brushing herself off. "Why don't you get some more rest, Mr. Potter, and we will talk when you wake up." Harry nodded, but stopped quickly when his head began aching. The three adults watched as the teenager drifted off into a hopefully dreamless sleep. XXX The next time Harry woke, he felt much better. He watched with a bemused expression as Poppy checked him over, deeming him fit to get up, but warning him that he would tire out easily at first, before demanding that he eat something, and giving him a nutrient potion to take with the meal, all in the span of about one breath.

Sirius entered the room then, carrying with him a tray laden with toast, eggs, bacon, and potatoes, which he set down on Harry's lap. Minerva followed him carrying a teapot and several cups. Sirius smiled. "I know it's suppertime, but I figured, you haven't eaten in a while, so you probably wouldn't mind some breakfast foods." Minerva let out a chuckle.

"What he means is, he doesn't know how to do much more in the kitchen than make toast. When he tried to rationalize his breakfast decision, I took pity on him when he burned the water, and did the rest." The adults all laughed, and Harry let out a weak smile. He felt awkward with them all watching him eat, but he couldn't deny that he was ravenous. He polished off the entire tray in about five minutes, and looked up sheepishly as Minerva took it from him, setting it on the desk before returning to his bedside.

Without the distraction of food, Harry was becoming a little more nervous. Seeing both McGonagall and Sirius next to him, he didn't hold out much hope for being able to keep what had happened a secret.

Poppy had departed while he was eating, apologizing and telling them that she had a few things to take care of at school, but she would be back in the morning to check on him. She had given Minerva a rather interesting look, which Harry had seen but not understood, before leaving the room.

Minerva sat down on the edge of the bed, and Sirius once more claimed the chair. Harry swallowed, preparing himself for the inquisition he knew was to come. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. They seemed to understand what had happened, and Sirius' only question was to confirm whether or not it had been his uncle. Harry didn't have to do anything other than nod, looking down at his hands in embarrassment. Sirius set a hand on top of his, squeezing gently, before they moved on to this 'plan' they were so proud of.

It was Minerva who explained it, to the increasingly confused thirteen-year-old. "While Sirius is a wanted fugitive, he is not able to take care of you, in the public eye.

I have spoken with Madam Bones, but such things take time. While you were unconscious, we both agreed that this setting is not ideal for anyone to inhabit." Sirius snorted. No one in their right mind would actually willingly live in the Black Family Ancestral Home.

Minerva shot him a look, but didn't comment, simply turning back to Harry and continuing. "Therefore, I would like to invite the both of you to return with me to my home, McGonagall Castle.

I think you'll find that it is a very nice place to dwell, though a bit on the large side, particularly with just one person living there." Here Minerva stopped, taking in the boy's wide and disbelieving eyes. She saw some hope there, which made her so happy, and hoped that he would be somewhat amenable to what she suggested next.

"I have already told Amelia that I would like to become your formal guardian." Harry stared. His professor looked so nervous, it wasn't something he was used to seeing from his stern and serious head of house.

She also seemed so sure of her idea. She really seemed to want him. That wasn't something Harry was used to, so he looked over at his godfather. Sirius looked like he was on board with this plan, though he also seemed disappointed that he couldn't publically take over the guardianship of his godson. Looking back at the Transfiguration Professor, Harry swallowed again.

His eyes lowered almost of their own accord, and he asked quietly, his voice hesitant, "Why?" Even with no more elaboration, Minerva knew exactly what he was asking, and it broke her heart that he wouldn't understand why someone wanted to take care of him. She shifted forward slightly and rested a hand on his shoulder. "Harry," she started, and waited until he looked up. "I know you've always seen me as your professor, but I've never seen you as just another student, and it has nothing to do with that scar, Mr.

Potter," she clarified, and gave herself a mental pat on the back when she saw him relax slightly. "I will always regret not fighting harder when Albus made his decision to leave you with your relatives, and when I saw you again after ten years, I was struck by how much like your parents you were. Not only in looks," she smiled in remembrance.

"You do look so much like your father, it's true, but you have all of Lily's spirit, and James' sense of honor and duty. You have the best of your parents in you, Harry, and beyond that, you truly are an amazing young man that I am delighted to have the honor of knowing." Here, Harry looked down, very embarrassed. He wasn't used to his stern professor showing so much emotion or pride, especially in him. And apparently, she wasn't done. "And even if your grades don't currently reflect it, I'm certain that you have all of your parent's talent." Harry winced, but he had already figured the professor knew about that.

After all, why would a slacker be willing to study an entire year's worth of Arithmancy and Ancient Runes over the summer to try and get into the classes, dropping the 'easy O' in the process?

Minerva smiled. "I want to take care of you, Harry. It might be a little awkward at first, for the both of us, but I am confident that we can make it work. And as I already said, Sirius is welcome. I do not believe the Minsitry will think to look for him at my Ancestral Home, which incidentally has many layers of wards, added over the years.

My family was no slouch," Minerva smirked, an expression which looked quite odd on her, but Harry was oddly relieved. Minerva took a deep breath. "Does this sound like an acceptable plan to you?" she asked, bracing herself for his answer. Harry thought about it for a minute. Truthfully, it did sound like the best deal he could get. He loved staying with the Weasleys over the summer, but honestly, he always felt sort of like a fifth wheel there he was a guest, but he wasn't family.

He didn't really belong. Not for more than a week or two at a time. Staying with McGonagall and Sirius might give him more of a sense of permanence. And he was grateful that she had extended the invitation to his godfather as well. He really wanted to get to know his parents' best friend. Finally, he looked back up and nodded. Minerva was struck by the quiet power he seemed to radiate as he watched her.

It almost reminded her of Dumbledore. "I'd like that, professor," he agreed quietly. Minerva couldn't stop the smile from spreading from one ear to the other. "I'm glad," she replied, "Though I think, if we are to live together, you should drop the 'professor' in private. You can call me Minerva." She saw Harry wince slightly, and knew that would be a challenge for him.

Her smile softened in understanding. "Perhaps 'Aunt Minerva' would be easier," she amended. "After all, as I told you earlier, that's probably what you would have called me, had circumstances been different." Harry nodded his agreement, though he knew that it would take some getting used to. With that decided, it was time to leave the depressing atmosphere of the Black home. Minerva made an effort to help Harry get out of bed, escorting him to the loo with a change of clothes, while Sirius made sure Harry's trunk, and the few items he had in the house that he didn't want to be parted from, were ready to go.

He didn't have a whole lot, especially in the necessities department, but Minerva had assured him that she had some things he could use. Her brother had been roughly his size, though he had had slightly more meat on his bones, and his wardrobe was still sitting in storage at the castle. So much had happened over the last twelve years, Sirius was still getting used to it.

Minerva had told him how her brother and his family had been killed by Death Eaters after the end of the war, while they were still trying to round the criminals up. Apollo and his wife Margaret, along with nine-year-old Maia, and little Diana. She had only been three when he had been locked up.

With Minerva's own children and husband dead from the war as well, it looked like the McGonagall line might have ended. Though Sirius had wondered if Minerva might be considering making Harry her heir it would be an acceptable thing to think about, considering she was planning on becoming his legal guardian. Inheritance laws were tricky, but there were enough loopholes to make Sirius very happy.

It was one such loophole that had allowed him to name baby Harry as his own heir in his will when the child was six months old. Since his father and brother's deaths, he had become the Lord of the Black family, and since there was no superseding will created after that first one, Harry was still his heir, though he would have to make it official with the Goblins at some point.

He knew it would infuriate his cousin Narcissa, who had probably hoped to claim the Lord Black title for her son. He wondered if they had tried at all over the last dozen years, but he trusted the Goblins to see to his wishes. He knew they didn't care about guilt or innocence. They would obey his commands because he was the rightful Lord Black. That, and he had a healthy respect for them.

Minerva and Harry entered the sitting room, Minerva looking slightly out of her depth, and Harry just looking embarrassed. Sirius figured he was a little uncomfortable with his professor taking care of him, though he hoped the young wizard would get used to it. They weren't going anywhere, and eventually, Harry would see that. Minerva went first, taking Harry's trunk and grabbing a pinch of Floo powder, calling out "McGonagall Castle" clearly, before vanishing in a mass of green flames.

Sirius motioned for Harry to go next, and soon enough, he was grabbing his own small suitcase and leaving the Black Home as well. He would have to see about getting it cleaned up at some point, but for the moment, he was quite glad to not have to look at those gloomy walls for the foreseeable future. XXX McGonagall Castle was a large, airy place, with many rooms, hallways, and corridors.

It wasn't nearly as large as Hogwarts, but it was much grander than anything Harry was used to. Watching him look around in astonishment, Sirius made a mental note to take him to visit Potter Manor at some point. Minerva called for a house elf to take their belongings to the rooms she had marked out, before giving the two a tour. She was amused to see the way both their eyes lit up at the sight of the Quidditch pitch. It was a little overrun by weeds, but the house elves should have no problem getting it ready for the two Quidditch fans.

Given that it was getting late, Minerva made sure Harry was settled in his new bedroom, telling him that they would redecorate it to his liking soon, before she surprised him by giving him a light hug, wishing him a good night.

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She left the room quickly after that, going to find Sirius in the family study, penning a letter. Sirius looked up at her entrance, and answered the unspoken question. "I thought Remus should know what's going on," he informer her.

"Don't worry, I'm being vague enough that no one will know your involvement, should the letter be intercepted." Minerva nodded her approval, and walked over to a shelf, pulling out a few pieces of parchment for herself, and a quill, before heading to the other desk in the room. "Mr. Lupin is welcome in this house any time. I don't doubt he would appreciate spending time with both Harry and yourself.

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I certainly have enough spare bedrooms." Sirius nodded his thanks, and turned back to his letter, adding that invitation, before focusing on Minerva again. "Whom are you writing to?" he asked, leaning back in his chair.

Minerva looked up briefly. "One letter is for Poppy, informing her of our change in location, so that she can come check on Harry tomorrow. The other notes are invitations for Amelia and Patricia Welding from the DCW, to come here and talk with Harry. We need to file a formal complaint so that it can officially be investigated and Harry removed from the Dursleys' care. Once that is done, I can file the claim to take over his guardianship." "Are you expecting any difficulties?" Sirius asked, concerned.

Minerva furrowed her brow. "There shouldn't be, from what Amelia's said. There should be no problem getting him out of that house, the only issues may arise over the question of guardianship. If we do this quickly and quietly, by the time anyone tries to protest, it should be all taken care of." Sirius nodded, and waited for Minerva to finish her missives, before the two headed up to the owlry together.

Minerva had told him that she had several owls, and one would certainly be able to deliver his letter. However, they both received a shock, in the form of a snowy white owl staring down at them from the rafters, looking rather pleased with herself.

"Hedwig!" The owl swooped down to land on Sirius' shoulder, and he chuckled. "I don't suppose you'd mind taking this letter to Remus Lupin for me?" he asked, still smiling. Hedwig just stuck out her leg expectantly. Sirius tied the letter, and watched as the smart bird flew off.

Once Minerva had sent her own letters on their way, the pair made their way back down to their respective bedrooms. It had been a long day, and tomorrow promised to be longer still. _ _ _ Chapter 7 This update comes in between my massive amounts of cooking for my mom's birthday party tonight, so I'm glad I was actually able to get it out!

I think we're going majorly overboard, but then, it's fifty people, and you don't turn 60 every day. My counter is covered in cupcakes =] Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns it all Waking up the next morning, Harry once more experienced the unpleasant sensation of not remembering where he was. It only took a moment before he recalled the events of the previous evening. He took a deep breath before sitting up, pleased to note the absence of pain.

Madam Pomfrey really was a godsend. Looking around the rather bare room, Harry bit his lip in thought. Living with a professor would be a bit of an adjustment, but he was happy to be able to see his godfather as well.

He didn't know what to expect for the rest of the summer, but it had to be better than the start. He looked over to where he saw his trunk sitting next to the dresser, waiting to be unpacked. He stood up and moved over to search for some clean clothes. Everything he had was at least four sizes too large, and most had holes in them as well. He grimaced, trying to find the least ratty t-shirt, slipping it over his head with a sigh.

Next, he decided to pull out his Ancient Runes textbook, thinking he'd be able to read a chapter or two before breakfast. His somewhat battered watch showed the time to be quite early. It was nearly an hour later when a house elf popped into Harry's room, startling him out of his Runes reading.

"Hello," he said, surprised, setting down the book and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. The elf looked slightly startled, but bobbed up and down eagerly. "Mistress sent Tibby to tell Mister Harry that breakfast is ready," it squeaked. Harry nodded. "Thank you, Tibby," he replied, smiling kindly. The elf reminded him a little of Dobby, though perhaps a more toned down version.

"I'll be down shortly." The elf nodded, looking awed at his kindness, and disappeared, and Harry put on his shoes, running a hand through his hair as he left the room, trying to remember the route to the dining room. He only got lost once, and was quite hungry by the time he found his way to the impressive room. The table could easily seat thirty people, with room to spare. There was gilding along the walls, and a remarkable chandelier was hanging from the ceiling.

Minerva and Sirius were seated at one end, with what looked like breakfast for ten surrounding them. As soon as Harry sat down, he was accosted by his godfather, who wasted no time in piling his plate with a traditional English breakfast. Harry looked down at the fried eggs, bacon, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, sausages, and baked beans, and winced.

He was hungry, but he wasn't sure he was that hungry. He turned pleading eyes on his godfather, who just smiled. "You need to eat more," he told his godson. He held out a vial to the young wizard. "Madam Pomfrey is setting up a plan for you, but it involves taking these nutrient potions for the next month.

It should help with your appetite, and it needs to be taken with a meal." Harry grimaced, but dutifully took the offered potion, downing it in one gulp, and turning to the loaded plate in front of him. Surprisingly, the more he ate, the hungrier he became. He figured that was the potion at work, and had cleared his plate within five minutes.

Both adults watched him with varying degrees of relief, pleased to see him with a healthy appetite. Sirius passed him some more toast and bacon, which he took with a rueful grin. Sirius returned the smile, before setting the plate of food down and turning to Minerva, indicating that she tell their young charge the plan for the day. Minerva gave him a soft glare, knowing that he just didn't want to have to be the one to break the news to Harry.

She sighed at his nonchalant attitude, and turned back to the soon to be fourth year. "I've set up a meeting with Amelia Bones and the head of the Department of Child Welfare, Patricia Welding. They should both be here at eleven. Poppy will be present as well, and will give them evidence of your mistreatment." Harry nodded, uncomfortable, staring at his plate. Minerva reached out with one hand, resting it on his shoulder reassuringly.

"We're all on your side here, Harry. I don't foresee any complications, so don't worry." Harry nodded again, before quietly asking to be excused. On Minerva's approval, he disappeared back to his bedroom. He still had a couple of hours, with any luck, he might finish the third year Ancient Runes textbook before the meeting he was beginning to dread. Not that he didn't believe McGonagall, but he didn't relish the idea of having to tell someone else about his humiliation at the hands of his relatives.

XXX Minerva was the one to tell Harry that their guests had arrived. Sirius, they had decided, would be best to stay out of the way for the time being. They would meet with Amelia later, but while Ms. Welding was here, it would be best to not inform her of the situation. "Harry?" Minerva queried, knocking and opening the door hesitantly. Harry looked up from his book, and Minerva smiled, seeing how studious he was being.

It looked like he had blown through the Runes textbook. She would have to test him later to see how much he had understood. "Poppy, Madam Bones and Ms. Welding are here. Would you come join us please?" Harry nodded, marking his page and setting down the book, before joining Minerva for the walk down to the sitting room. He once more wished that he had clothes that fit him.

It would be bad enough having to tell complete strangers about his childhood, but it would have been better if he could be at least somewhat presentable. Unfortunately, that wasn't something he could remedy at the moment, so Harry just followed his possible future guardian. Once inside the sitting room, Minerva set up several privacy wards, and blocked off the Floo, on the unlikely but possible chance that someone tried to call on her while they were busy.

That act done, she turned back to the room. Harry was looking increasingly nervous, and both Amelia and Patricia looked characteristically serious. Poppy looked grim. "Harry, this is Amelia Bones, from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and Patricia Welding, from the Department of Child Welfare." Both women stepped forward to shake the boy's hand, running a critical eye over everything from the baggy clothes, to the rather remarkable black eye.

A questioning glance towards Poppy revealed why the bruise was still so prominent. "I thought it would be best for any investigation if we were to allow you to take photos before I did any more. I have a list of physical maladies over the years, and have begun to work on correcting them." She handed over a piece of parchment several feet long, causing Amelia's eyes to narrow, while Harry just looked like he wished the floor would swallow him whole.

Minerva's suggestion to sit down was welcomed by them all, and she guided Harry over to the sofa, while Amelia and Patricia took the loveseat, still reading over the rather impressive list of injuries, and Poppy claimed an armchair.

The detailed sheet of parchment began with a broken arm eleven years previously, and continued on, listing broken ribs, a broken leg, six separate concussions, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken wrist, just to name a few. When they were finished reading, Amelia conferred with Patricia for a moment, before deciding to get the pictures out of the way first. Harry was oddly detached throughout the process, following the gentle instructions mechanically, as he removed his shirt and stood up, allowing them to take photos of the bruises on his chest, and the scars on his back.

All four women were hard pressed to keep themselves calm as the current and previous injuries were exposed. Minerva wanted to go to Privet Drive and give those horrible excuses for human beings a piece of her mind, but one look at the young man in front of her, and she knew he needed her more.

As soon as Harry was told he could put his shirt back on, he complied, his face growing warm as no one spoke. He was surprised out of his humiliation when he felt a pair of arms around him, hugging him gently. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to stop the tears, as he leaned into his professor's steady embrace.

This hug was nothing like the ones he had received on occasion from Hermione or Mrs. Weasley. It wasn't even similar to the one he had received from Ginny, though it felt more akin to that than the other two. He didn't feel in danger of breaking in half, nor did he feel like she was deliberately being gentle out of a fear of injuring him. Instead, he just felt wanted.

He could feel her caring, her worry, and he knew that it was because of him. It was a strange feeling, but it was one he knew he would always cherish. Minerva guided him back to the couch, and everyone took a moment to regain their composure.

When she felt he was ready, Amelia leaned forward, taking out a piece of parchment and a quill to take notes, and asked Harry to tell them a little about his childhood. "You don't have to speak about anything you're not comfortable with, Mr.

Potter," she assured him. "I just want to know about your relatives." Harry nodded, looking at his lap, and began to speak. His voice was quiet and hesitant at first, until Minerva took one of his hands in hers, and leant him whatever comfort she could. He gained confidence from that, knowing with that one small gesture that she didn't think it was his fault, whatever his relatives may have told him.

And with the comforting presence of his new 'Aunt Minerva', and his godfather, he knew that eventually, their hold on him would diminish. It would take some time, but he could begin to understand, now, that everything his uncle had done was wrong. It wasn't his fault. It was a liberating experience and a new outlook that Harry knew would take getting used to. For over half an hour, Harry spoke about his childhood. He relayed the first memory he had of his uncle knocking him around, when he was two years old.

He had received a broken arm because he had dared to play with one of Dudley's toys. He told them of the days and weeks he had spent locked up in his bedroom of the cupboard under the stairs, with little to no food, and the periodic beatings he had received when he had performed some feat of accidental magic.

He told them of the bad days Vernon would take out on him, and of Dudley's eleventh birthday trip to the zoo, and the consequences of setting that snake free. He spoke of the summer after his first year, and the bars on his window that the youngest Weasley males had to break off in order to rescue him.

He once more talked about what had happened with Marge Dursley the previous summer, and why he had felt like running away had been his only option. Finally, Harry told them what had happened this summer. How he had been immediately locked up upon his return, only to be let out the next morning and forced into servitude for the entire day.

He told them about the week he had spent at Privet drive, with one, very meager meal a day, and the physical punishments. He explained how Vernon had come home one night, furious at having lost an important client, and how he had somehow decided that it was all Harry's fault. Him and his 'freakishness'. When he was finished, Harry closed his eyes, afraid of the reaction of the adults around him. He was relieved when Minerva's only response was to pull Harry closer to her, hugging him gently, trying to pass on her support and pride in him.

Patricia waited an extra minute until Harry seemed to regain some composure, before she pulled out a form she had brought with her in preparation. "Thank you for telling us, Harry," she said gently. Harry nodded, still not looking up. "I will waste no time in filing this change of guardianship form. Minerva has stated her desire to become your legal guardian. Is that acceptable to you?" Harry nodded again, glancing over at his professor, and now guardian.

A ghost of a smile made its way across his face, indicating his consent. Patricia nodded decisively, filling out a few lines, before looking back up and holding out the form. "I just need you to sign this, Minerva." The Transfiguration professor immediately did so with no hesitation, handing the form back once she had signed her consent to become Harry's legal guardian.

Patricia put it in her bag and smiled. "This is where my involvement ends, Mr. Potter, Professor McGonagall. I will file this immediately, and, as you asked, it will be done quietly. No one should know until and unless you tell them." She let out a smirk. "Being head of the department has some perks." She turned to Amelia. "Madam Bones, the rest is up to you." Amelia nodded her thanks towards her colleague, as Minerva stood up to unblock the Floo so that Patricia could leave, which she did with little delay, after saying her farewells.

Poppy asked if she was still needed, to which she was given a negative answer. She nodded, and stood up, setting the bag she had brought with her on the coffee table.

"This is a supply of potions and bruise balm for you, Mr. Potter. There are instructions inside, and these should last you for a month, at least.

I shall return next week to check on your progress." Harry nodded, and Minerva thanked her coworker, before Poppy, too, left. The Professor then blocked off the Floo once more before sitting back down next to Harry. When it was just the three of them, Amelia focused on Harry. "I think the next thing we need to do is decide what action to take against the Dursleys.

Harry, do you want to press charges?" Harry considered his options. Did he want to take this further? After all, he was away from them, and he would never have to see them again. Did he really want to drag it out? And because of his stupid fame, pressing charges would undoubtedly mean press involvement, and he really wasn't keen on the entire wizarding world finding out that he, the Boy Who Lived, Savior of the Wizarding World, hadn't even been able to defend himself from an overweight muggle.

Harry couldn't make this decision on his own, so he turned to his new guardian. "What do you think?" he asked hesitantly, still a little uncertain as to how to treat the formidable woman who had, until recently, been just another professor. Minerva was overjoyed that Harry was seeking her advice, and she was not shy in giving it.

"This needs to be your decision, Harry. However, I don't think Vernon or Petunia should get away with their actions. What they did to you was wrong, and they should be held culpable. That being said, I do understand that you may not want to draw this out, and I will stand behind you, whatever your choice." Harry nodded, still thinking. It was nice to know that she would support him, no matter what. His eyes grew more thoughtful as a new course of action occurred to him, one that might give him what he wanted, and still see Vernon punished for his crimes.

He turned back to the head of the DMLE. "Do you have investigators?" he asked curiously. Amelia nodded, confused, and Harry continued, "Would it be possible to investigate Uncle Vernon, before you take any action? I'd really prefer to keep all this out of the papers, but from what I've overheard from Uncle Vernon over the years, I think an investigation might uncover other crimes that are prosecutable.

If that information were to find its way into the hands of muggle authorities…" Harry trailed off, and Amelia understood the implications. It truly was a master stroke, she admired. Minerva also looked pleased, and proud.

"That is an almost… Slytherin idea," she commented, her tone neutral, though her gaze was approving. Harry looked down, embarrassed. "Well, the Sorting Hat did want to put me in Slytherin," he admitted, almost afraid of how she might take it.

Minerva's only response was a quirked eyebrow. "What made it change its mind?" she asked curiously. Harry looked up when he didn't hear any disgust in her tone.

He shrugged. "I had met Malfoy first. I didn't ask for Gryffindor, I just didn't want to be in the same house as that racist prick." Minerva's eyes danced as she commented, "I should reprimand your language, but I've spent enough time teaching that boy to know that your description is more than accurate." Harry grinned, and Minerva was quick to add, "But if you repeat that for anyone, you will be grounded until you are thirty." That caused Amelia to laugh, bringing their attention back to their visitor.

Amelia shuffled her notes on her lap, and brought the meeting back to the business they had to attend to. "Now that it is just the three of us, I was hoping to talk about Sirius Black. Mr. Potter, I have been informed that you have a way of getting in touch with him?" Minerva and Harry shared a knowing look, before Minerva excused herself for a moment. Harry and Amelia sat in awkward silence for a few minutes, before Harry asked, "You're related to Susan Bones, right?" Amelia nodded, perplexed.

"She's my niece. I am also her guardian, as her parents my brother and sister-in-law were killed in the war." Harry nodded.

"I'm sorry for your loss," he said compassionately. And Amelia knew he really understood. He had lost his parents as well. If anyone understood the crushing weight of grief, it would be Harry Potter. Harry shifted in his seat. "Would you tell her I said hello?" he asked, somewhat hesitantly. That surprised Amelia. "Of course," she agreed, "Though I wasn't aware the two of you were such good friends." Harry looked a little embarrassed.

"We're not, really," he admitted. "But even though we're in different houses, we're still in the same year, and Susan's always been nice to me. I'd like to try and cultivate better relationships with my classmates from now on. I've come to realize that I've sort of isolated myself the past few years. Ron and Hermione are my best friends, but there are a lot of other great people attending Hogwarts that I would probably want to get to know." Amelia was impressed, and she said so.

Harry's face turned a light pink color, though he also seemed pleased with the praise. The moment was interrupted by Minerva, returning to the room looking uncharacteristically nervous.

Trailing in behind her, looking grim, was wanted fugitive Sirius Black. _ _ _ Chapter 8 Wow, this has to be a record for me. Seven chapters, and over one hundred reviews already! Thank you guys so much! Disclaimer: not mine Amelia stared. She blinked once. Twice. Finally, she turned back to Harry. "Well, that's one way of getting in touch with him." Harry grinned, and Sirius let out a bark of laughter.

Amelia stood up from her seat, and hesitantly stepped forward until she was standing in front of the man she had known a long time ago. She hoped there was still some of that man inside the hardened survivor she currently saw. She searched his expression, looking for something. She seemed to find it, because she smiled, the years melting away as she leaned forward and grasped the man in a tight hug.

Sirius gripped her back just as tightly. "Lia," he whispered. Amelia felt her eyes moisten as she heard the nickname he had come up with so many years ago. He had been the only one to ever use it, and it had become so special to her. They had never been anything other than coworkers and friends, but she couldn't help but wonder what might have happened, had things gone differently.

She wondered if she could have tamed the playboy, given enough time. She sniffed lightly, and let go, stepping back and willing the tears away. She smiled. "You're looking pretty good, Siri," she said, giving him an assessing gaze. Harry watched the interaction with confusion.

That hug seemed to last slightly longer than was socially acceptable for two people, even if they were friends.

Which apparently, they were. Sirius returned the smile. This meeting was definitely going better than he could have hoped. Minerva watched the meeting with interest. She remembered hearing about his incessant flirting with the already established Auror, when he and James had just been starting out at the DMLE. James had found it rather amusing, but she had been waiting for Amelia to put him in his place; she remembered the Hufflepuff as a down to earth, no nonsense woman, and had expected her to put an end to the flighty ladies man.

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She had been surprised to learn that Amelia was giving it right back. Though it did make her wonder what might happen between those two.

Of course, Sirius' incarceration had put an end to any type of relationship the two may have pursued. Everyone sat back down, and Amelia made a point of getting right to business. She was used to locking up her emotions, and told herself that there would be plenty of time to talk after she got him a fair trial. Sirius was more than willing to tell her what had happened almost thirteen years ago, though he did get choked up a little, talking about the deaths of his best friends.

Amelia nodded, taking notes and listening intently. There was an ache in her chest, listening to his distress. When he paused at the description of what had happened during his confrontation with Pettigrew, she looked back up.

"Do you know how he managed to escape?" Sirius looked down briefly. When he met Amelia's gaze once more, he was comforted by the compassion he found there. No matter what, he knew that his relationship convoluted as it had been had not changed with the stern former Hufflepuff. He nodded, grimacing slightly. "We were all unregistered animagi. We figured out how to do it our fifth year. James was a stag," he looked over at Harry here, remembering his godson's rather impressive patronus, "I'm a dog, and Peter's form is a rat.

Rather fitting, don't you think?" Amelia could only nod, impressed to hell that three students had been able to accomplish such an amazing feat of magic at such a young age. Coming back to her senses, she queried somewhat rhetorically, "So can I assume that the mystery of how you escaped Azkaban has been solved?" What she really wanted to ask was how he had remained so sane for twelve years, but she felt that might be a bit insensitive.

Sirius nodded sheepishly. "Dementors can't sense animal emotions. When Fudge left me his paper last summer, I saw Peter sitting on a boy's shoulder on the front page, and I just knew I had to get out of there. He was at Hogwarts, with Harry." He smiled at his godson, an expression which was immediately returned. "I was skinny enough as a dog that I could slip through the bars. I swam back to shore and started making my way north." Amelia nodded her understanding, internally wincing at the idea that he could be skinny enough to slip through prison bars.

She bit her lip, looking down slightly. Not for nothing, though, had Sirius spent so much time studying the object of his affection all those years ago.

And it seemed, he could still read her quite well. His voice grew contemplative, and his gaze far off, as he spoke quietly. "I knew I was innocent.

It wasn't a happy thought, so the Dementors couldn't take it away. It was more of an obsession, but it kept me sane. I could remember who I was, so that when I saw that photo, I knew why it was important. It lit a fire inside me, and I was able to escape." Amelia nodded again, relieved that underneath it all, Sirius was still Sirius. Older, more careworn, more, well, serious, but she could see the spark of life in his eyes, the fire and passion, and the mischievousness that had drawn her to him all those years ago.

She smiled, much more relaxed, making all three of the castle's current inhabitants breathe quiet sighs of relief.

She pulled out a few vials from her bag. "In order to corroborate your story, I will need to take some memories from you. Would you be willing?" Sirius nodded immediately, and Amelia turned to Harry, who had remained quiet until now, looking pensive.

"I would also like to view the memory of your meeting at the end of term." Harry looked over at his godfather, and on receiving his nod, turned back to Amelia. "Anything that will help," he agreed.

Amelia smiled at him compassionately, and they wasted no more time. She collected Sirius' memories of his conversation with Peter and the Potters, where they decided to switch Keepers, and his memory of finding James and Lily dead she wanted nothing more than to give him a hug, seeing his distress, but held herself back until he finished and finally, his recollection of confronting Peter, and watching him escape, unable to do anything.

Next, she concentrated on Harry, and after explaining how to extract a memory, she watched as he pulled out a long, silvery strand. He deposited it in the vial, looking a little uncertain. Amelia capped the vial, before inviting him to voice his worries. Harry bit his lip. "I only put the meeting, until when the Minister came to the hospital wing. Do you need to know how Sirius escaped, too?" Amelia looked at the trio in front of her.

She had a feeling she might not like the answer she would receive. Minerva looked as confused as she felt, but Sirius also looked rather grim. She turned back to Harry. "Why don't you tell me what happened, and I'll decide if I need the memory." His distress intensified, so Amelia clarified, "I promise, whatever I hear, I won't take action unless it's absolutely necessary.

If you murdered someone, I can make no guarantees." She was pleased that her little quip at the end brought a small smile to the young wizard's face. Harry believed her, so he began to speak of the rather hard to believe tale, starting from waking up in the infirmary, telling the minister what had happened only to not be believed, or even listened to at all, and finally, to using Hermione's time turner to go back and not only rescue Sirius, but Hagrid's hippogriff as well.

When he finished talking, Amelia nodded. "I don't think that's something anyone needs to know," she informed them, much to their relief. She spent a few moments carefully packing the vials in her bag, and then stood up. Sirius, Minerva, and Harry were quick to follow. "I will start the proceedings immediately, but you understand that Fudge will not be agreeable to the idea of a trial. It looks bad for him, you see." They all nodded, keeping their thoughts on the incompetent moron to themselves.

"I will let you know any developments as soon as they occur. Hopefully, we can get this settled before the end of summer." They all nodded, and Amelia offered her hand to Minerva and Harry, before steeling herself to face Sirius.

He had no computations about grasping her in another hug, trying to pass along his continued feelings towards her. Stepping back, he thought he was successful when she gave him a watery smile, before turning back to Minerva.

"Is it all right if I come visit from time to time, even if I don't have any updates?" Minerva looked from between the pair of them, and smiled.

"Of course," she agreed. "You are welcome, any time." Amelia nodded, a little worried to know that a wanted fugitive was staying with the Boy Who Lived and a woman she respected completely, even if she knew he was innocent. The blowback, should it be discovered, could be catastrophic.

On the other hand, she knew Minerva wouldn't have invited him to her home if she hadn't had contingencies in place. McGonagall Castle had been around for a long time, much longer than the Bones Estate, and she knew the wards should be enough to protect them. Once Amelia had left, the inhabitants of the castle were somewhat uncertain of how to act.

Minerva glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner, and realized that it was past lunchtime. A call to Tibby informed them that the meal was ready whenever they were. Over lunch, the trio discussed their plans for the summer. Sirius was eager to relax and spend some time recovering from his ordeal.

Poppy had sent over a potions regimen for him as well. Hopefully, by the time a trial was scheduled, he would no longer look like a skeleton with skin. Harry looked eager to try out the Quidditch pitch, though Minerva slightly dampened the mood by asking about his summer homework.

Harry looked down, ashamed. "Uncle Vernon locked up my trunk as soon is we got back from King's Cross. I was able to read the textbooks for Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, but only because I owl ordered them from Flourish and Blotts the next day." Sirius let out a low growl, and Minerva looked likely to start hissing before she collected herself.

"Well, you will have no such excuse here. In fact," she set down her napkin and turned to give her new charge her full attention, "now that this arrangement has become official, I feel we should set out some ground rules." Harry nodded, a little confused, and slightly afraid.

He knew that neither she, nor Sirius, would ever raise a hand to him, but he still couldn't help the bubble of fear that rose up, before he ruthlessly quashed it back down. No. Prof Aunt Minerva's rules would be nothing like Uncle Vernon's. Minerva smiled, taking some of the sternness out of her gaze.

"Rule number one: I want you to spend at least an hour, every day on your schoolwork. Whether it is reading your textbooks or working on summer essays." Sirius let out a short laugh, and Harry couldn't help but smile at the obvious rule living with a professor would definitely take some getting used to, especially when he remembered having to sneak his textbooks out of his locked up trunk the previous summer, having to do his schoolwork in the middle of the night.

"Rule number two," Minerva continued, "You are to do your best, in every way. I don't expect you to be perfect, but you owe it to yourself to be the best you, you can be. And that includes in school," she added, with a stern look that told him without a doubt that she knew he had been deliberately underperforming in his classes. Harry gulped and nodded. Minerva's expression softened, and he understood that she probably knew his reasons as well.

"The last rule," Minerva concluded, "is that you need to ask questions. If you are unsure of something, you need to come to us. We cannot help if we don't know what's wrong. Are these rules clear to you?" Harry nodded, eyes still a little wide.

Oh yes, this arrangement would definitely take getting used to. Minerva rested a hand on his arm. "I know it's a lot to take in, Harry. We'll just take it one day at a time, all right?" Harry nodded again, and Minerva removed her hand, feeling his tensing muscles at the unplanned touch, and squashing down her anger at the reasons behind it.

"The first thing we need to do is go on a shopping trip," she informed them, with a sniff at Harry's loosely fitting wardrobe. Harry looked down, embarrassed, but Minerva just shook her head.

"I'm not blaming you, Harry. But as you are my charge, it falls to me to correct a grievous mistake." Harry started to protest her buying him anything, but Minerva overrode him. "I am your guardian now, Mr. Potter. It is my responsibility to take care of you. We will replace your wardrobe, and perhaps we can do something about the bare walls to your room. You live here now, and I want you to feel at home." Harry felt the heat rise to his cheeks, even as he recognized the pleasure at having someone take care of him for a change.

In one day, Pro Aunt Minerva had made him feel more at home than he had felt in almost thirteen years with the Dursleys. It was a heady and depressing thought. When she saw no more signs of protest, Minerva concentrated on Sirius.

She looked him over for a moment before nodding. "A few glamours should allow you to come with us," she said. "You are also in need of a few things as well. My brother's clothes are better than what you had, but you are much skinnier, and slightly taller." She glared at the space between the hem of the pants he was wearing, and his shoes. It was maybe an inch of bare skin, but she looked at it as if it had done her a personal offense. Looking back at the faces of the two men, she shook her head as she saw their amusement, but chose not to comment, mostly because it was the first time she had seen Harry really looking anything other than careworn or afraid in a while.

"I believe we might be better off in the muggle world, first," she decided. "Will that be a problem?" Both Sirius and Harry shook their heads. Harry, after all, had grown up there, and knew how to act. Sirius had spent a good deal of time with Lily, becoming comfortable with that world. She had said that, someday, his survival might depend on knowing how to act amongst nonmagicals, and had insisted he learn. Minerva nodded.

"Good." She stood up. "I expect you both to be ready to leave in half an hour." With that, she left the dining room, ostensibly to prepare herself for their shopping trip. Sirius and Harry looked at each other, a little unnerved to see the head of Gryffindor behaving so… motherly. With a sigh, Sirius also stood up. "Come on, pup, let's go get ready." Harry nodded, following his godfather up the stairs before disappearing into his bedroom.

He looked through his clothes for a moment, before deciding that the clothes he was currently wearing were about as good as it was going to get. He looked around the room for a few minutes. The walls were a neutral beige color, and devoid of anything decorative. There was a desk set in the corner, stocked with parchment, quills, and ink.

The bed was a comfortable full size, with plain sheets and a gray comforter. There was a mirror set in the opposite corner from the desk, and a dresser next to a window that showed a wonderful view of the Quidditch pitch.

Harry made a mental note that he would need to get a bookshelf. He had hidden his love of reading for a long time, but now that he had the opportunity, he wanted to showcase his books. There were also two doors he had yet to explore. One showed a rather large closet, completely empty for the time being, though if he had judged the gleam in Aunt Minerva's eyes correctly, it would not remain that way for long. Harry was surprised when the second door showed him his own bathroom.

It too, was rather bare. Harry moved his toiletries from his trunk to the bathroom, though he thought they would be better going into the trash. His toothbrush was starting to look rather worn.

A knock on his bedroom door reminded him of the time, and he immediately left to join his godfather in hurrying back down the stairs to join the third member of their strange little family.

XXX Shopping with Minerva was a strange experience. Before leaving the castle, she had done some tricky wand work, and now Harry walked beside a blond haired, brown eyed Sirius. He had trimmed his hair and beard, and so looked nothing like any of the pictures of him circulating.

They would still need to be vigilant, but Harry wasn't too worried, especially in the muggle world. Minerva and Sirius apparated Harry to an alley near their destination. Once Harry had regained his footing, they led him out onto the street, and into the store they had in mind. Harry's jaw dropped as he was led into Harrods. His eyes grew wide as he saw the designer clothes, and once more tried to protest. Minerva and Sirius steered him to a quiet corner for a moment, where they once more informed him that it was their duty to look after him.

When he tried to protest the cost, Minerva just shook her head. "Harry, the McGonagall's are an old and wealthy family. I have no family left, and so have no one to spend the family fortune on. You are more than worth it." Sirius put in his two knuts. "The Blacks, too, are a wealthy pureblood family. I haven't been able to get to Gringotts to officially become the head of the family yet, but once I do, I plan on doing my level best to spoil you rotten.

Minerva's right, Harry. You're worth it. Think of it as twelve years of missed birthday and Christmas presents." Harry looked at him. "I thought that's what the Firebolt was for?" he asked, though he was grinning as he said it, and both adults knew they had won. _ _ _ Chapter 9 Wow, I had no idea a simply nickname would be met by such opposition. Honestly, it's an acceptable nickname for Amelia, and it's something only Sirius calls her.

I think I use it once in this entire story, and it's only because it's the first time they've seen each other in years. I understand that Amelia has a stern reputation, but please consider the fact that when Sirius last used that name, they were twelve years younger. Please, don't have a conniption over it, anyone. And I know that it has been a while since we've seen or heard from Ginny it seems like longer than it is, but the last few chapters have taken place over the course of two days or so, so it really hasn't been that long, it just seems like longer because of the amount of chapters.

I believe the next update will have more Weasleys, so hold on, she's coming! Last annoying author's note: to all those people telling me what facts I've gotten wrong: as I stated in the first chapter, this is an AU story completely AU from Prisoner of Azkaban, but I did say that I was taking liberties from beforehand as well. I know that my backstory on Harry's parents and Sirius' job, as well as McGonagall's family, are different. I wrote it that way for a reason, and I did tell you all that it wouldn't necessarily match JK Rowling's world.

So please stop telling me how I'm wrong about various details. It's AU. Disclaimer: not mine As Harry soon discovered, not even the stern Professor McGonagall was exempt from that craze that seemed to envelop the female of their species, whenever shopping came into the equation. He watched, bemused, as she led him and Sirius to the junior's clothing section, and began pulling clothes off the racks. Sirius immediately joined in, putting down some of her selections, as she rejected some of his.

Harry was surprised that they seemed to actually have a good idea of what to choose, considering one was a relatively older female, and the other had been in prison for twelve years. It was only a few minutes later when they were approached by an employee, who asked them if they needed any help.

Minerva looked up from the clothes, and nodded. "Yes, thank you. My son and grandson here have need of a whole new wardrobe. Their house was recently destroyed in a fire. I am afraid I am a little uncertain of the current fashion trends. Perhaps you could do better?" The employee nodded, smiling. "I am very sorry for what happened. Hopefully nobody was hurt?" They all shook their heads, trying not to smile, and the woman continued, "My name is Shelly.

And from the looks of it, you seem to have had a good start. Are there any particular styles you're interested in?" Harry looked a little out of his depth. Truthfully, he had never been clothing shopping before. Actually, he had never been any kind of shopping before, unless it was for school.

He shrugged a little helplessly, glancing at his godfather before answering. "Comfortable, I guess. I go to a boarding school with uniforms, so I don't need a whole lot " He was cut off by Minerva.

"He needs a full wardrobe," she was adamant. "Jeans and t-shirts for day to day wear, some nicer slacks and trousers, a few button down shirts, pyjamas, underwear and undershirts, socks, belts, shoes, perhaps a suit jacket or two, should an occasion arise where he needs it." Shelly nodded, her eyes lighting up at getting to play dress up with the young man. Fashion was truly her passion. The commission she would make on this sale was also pleasing to think about, but she was more eager to help what seemed like a nice family bounce back after a horrible tragedy.

Wasting no time, she waded into the racks of clothes, pulling out a pair of jeans and holding it up, before deciding it wouldn't work and putting it back, choosing something else. Nodding decisively, she added it to the cart they had. She chose a few more pairs of trousers, before moving on to shirts.

Studying the younger man, she focused on his eyes. "Greens and dark blues are your color, I think," she decided. "You're definitely an autumn." She paused by a maroon button up shirt, and added it to the pile. "Earthy tones," she muttered, before doubling the size of their clothing pile within two minutes. When there was no more room in the cart, she led them to the fitting room.

"Now, I want you to try all those on, and come out here to show us," she informed Harry in a no nonsense voice that reminded him scarily of Minerva, strange since she couldn't be more than ten years older than him, and therefore at least forty years younger than the Transfiguration professor.

He nodded mutely, and accepted the pile of clothing, locking the door behind him. XXX The pile diminished quite rapidly, and they were left with about half of the clothes in the 'keep' stack. Shelly was quite busy putting back the discarded clothes, and bringing more to try on. She would run a critical eye over what he was trying on, and then making her choices known quite firmly. Minerva and Sirius, recognizing her experience, were quite happy to let her decide.

They quickly had a stockpile of jeans and casual shirts, and moved on to dressier clothing next. Harry preferred the semi-casual button up shirts to anything fancier, and Shelly seemed to agree with his choices, asking him what he thought of colors or styles. Harry thought he was doing quite well, considering it was his first time doing this.

Shelly smiled at his next outfit, a dark green button up over a gray t-shirt, with dark gray trousers. "Very nice," she approved. "This one's going to be a lady killer, I know it." Sirius laughed at Harry's discomfort, but it was Minerva who made the mortification complete.

"Oh, he's already taken, I think," she said with a decided smirk that made Harry think she had been taking lessons from the Marauders. Sirius' interest was peaked, and Minerva elaborated, "You should have seen how close he and a certain Ginevra Weasley were at the end of the term." Harry blushed right down to his toes, while Sirius just looked surprised.

"Arthur and Molly's girl?" At Minerva's nod, he looked back at his godson, approving. "Well, then, let's keep moving, shall we? You have a young lady to impress." He would definitely be bringing this up later, when they could speak freely. He made a mental note to have The Talk soon. He doubted that whale of an uncle had done it. Harry was growing quite tired by the time they deemed him outfitted with enough clothing. At that point, they moved on to other necessities.

Shelly looked him over critically, and then doubled his mortification when she decided, "Boxers," loudly enough for everyone to hear. They added several packs of underwear and undershirts to the cart, and Shelly let Harry pick out a few belts that he liked, approving all of his choices, which made him happy.

He was learning. Socks quickly followed into the cart, and then it was time for shoes. Here, Sirius joined in, and it didn't take too long for them each to have several new pairs of shoes some running, dress up, and Minerva even let Harry pick out a pair of converse, though she herself didn't see the allure.

But it made Harry happy, so she was more than willing to oblige. Finally, finally, Harry was done. Grabbing a second cart, Shelly led them all to the men's clothing section, where they repeated the process for Sirius. He had a much better idea of what he wanted, and so it didn't take nearly as long for his wardrobe to be complete. Shortly after that, they were checking out. Harry gulped as the total was added up, but Minerva didn't comment as she handed over a square of plastic.

Harry was confused as to why the Transfiguration professor would even know what a credit card was, let alone have one, but he waited until they were outside, back in the same alley and shrinking down all their bags, before he asked. Minerva smiled. "It was your mother's idea," she admitted. "Coming from two magical parents, I was unfamiliar with many recent developments in the muggle world.

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Your mother informed me of the use of credit cards, and how they didn't need to carry around bags of money in order to do some shopping. She helped me to set up an account with the Royal Bank of Scotland, so that I would have a way of living in the muggle world, should it be needed. I have not used it very often, but some things are easier, or better, to get in the muggle world." Harry nodded, not trusting his voice to speak.

He stiffened for only a moment, but relaxed quickly into the embrace she gave him. "Your mother was an amazing woman, Harry," she told him kindly. "She always saw the magic in the world, even the muggle parts of it. She was a kind and compassionate soul, and I see so much of her in you." Sirius nodded his agreement, smiling.

Harry truly had the best of his parents in him. When they had collected themselves a bit, Minerva led them towards a hardware store she knew was nearby. Here, she told Harry and Sirius to pick out the colors they wanted to paint their rooms. Sirius immediately decided on a light blue, but Harry dithered, unsure of what choice to make. His pleading eyes sought out Sirius, who looked over the various color options.

"What's your favorite color?" he asked his godson. Harry thought about it. He was about to say he wasn't sure, when an image of a fiery young girl popped into his mind. He imagined the way the light caught her red tresses, and he blushed. Sirius, of course, recognized that look; he had seen it every time he had caught James thinking about Lily.

He shook his head, chuckling. "What is it with Potters and redheads?" he asked rhetorically. Harry looked up sharply. Sirius just laughed harder. "I'm guessing you're thinking red, right?" Harry nodded, embarrassed. Sirius grinned. "Well, I think red might be a little overpowering for the walls, but our next stop is to the department store. So how about we get some nice red sheets there, and choose something more neutral for the walls?" He reached over to that section of colors, and picked out a light gray.

It had a silvery sheen to it, with a warm undertone. "Does this work?" Harry looked at the color his godfather had chosen, and immediately approved. He nodded, his face lighting up with a smile, and Sirius took their choices over to the counter. XXX After their paint was mixed and handed over, they headed to the promised department store.

This place was very different from Harrods. Though it also sold clothing, it was much larger, and included selections of bedding, bath, kitchen, and even furniture. Minerva looked at the two men she was in the company of, and smiled. "Pick whatever you want," she informed them, laughing a little as Sirius immediately dragged his godson over to the bedding department, and filling their cart with several sets of sheets and blankets dark blue for himself, and reds and maroons for Harry.

Then Sirius led them to look at some room decorations, picking out a few posters and pictures, some decoration he thought would look good in his and Harry's rooms. They added some towels next, before going over to the personal hygiene section, and stocking up on toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, and the like.

They were about done, and were heading to the check out counter, when Harry stopped by the furniture section. Minerva looked over at him. "Was there something you wanted?" she asked. Harry nodded, a little embarrassed. "A bookshelf?" he queried hesitantly, as if expecting her to say no. Minerva blinked, and then nodded her approval, and without further ado, headed into the aisle in question, and began looking through their options. Harry seemed to like a shelf in a nice cherry wood color.

It had five shelves, and would match the other furniture already in his room. Sirius immediately added the box to their cart, and they headed to the checkout with no further delays. XXX Finished with their shopping in the muggle world, Minerva hesitated, looking at Sirius.

"We'll need to head to Diagon Alley for a few things. It might be best if you were to return home. Even with the glamours, it's not safe." Sirius looked about to protest, but instead, glanced over at Harry.

He had made a promise to his godson to always be there, and that meant not taking unnecessary risks. After all, he should set a good example for the boy, right? He just nodded, and took all of their shrunken down purchases. He hugged Harry tightly, and smiled, stepping back. "Get me a few casual robes, would you? And maybe a Quidditch poster or two?" Harry and Minerva nodded, and with a pop, Sirius disappeared, and Minerva led her young charge down the street towards the entrance to the Wizarding shopping district.

XXX The Leaky Cauldron was thankfully mostly empty, it being too late for lunch and too early for dinner. Tom simply nodded to the Hogwarts professor as they made their way to the back alley and entrance to the alley. Minerva led Harry immediately to Madam Malkin's, insisting that he needed some casual and formal robes to add to his new wardrobe. Harry just sighed and nodded, hoping they would be finished soon enough.

Madam Malkin was eager to help the Boy Who Lived, chatting with her former professor all the while as she pinned and fitted several robes of varying colors dark blues, blacks, greens, and grays. Most were casual, but Minerva insisted on a few formal robes as well. Harry was, after all, the heir to an Ancient and Noble house, and he needed to be able to look the part when the situation called for it.

Soon enough, they were done, and Minerva made plans to come back in a couple of hours to retrieve the clothing. She also placed an order for some robes for Sirius, giving the madam his sizes and several pre-approved colors. Their next stop was to Quality Quidditch Supplies, where Harry enthusiastically jumped into the various wares.

Minerva just chuckled and sat back to watch as he picked out a few posters of various seeker moves and teams. He wasn't sure what Sirius would like, but he figured he couldn't go wrong with a couple popular teams, so he added the English, Irish, and Bulgarian national teams to the pile.

He hesitated when he saw a practice snitch, a ball used to train seekers. It could be set to fly within a specific distance, and to come with a command. He picked it up and looked at it wistfully, but decided that it was too expensive, and he couldn't let Aunt Minerva spend that much on him.

He was surprised when, after setting it back on the shelf, it was picked up again immediately by Minerva, who handed it back to him with a soft smile. "I said anything you want," she chastised him. Harry looked rebellious, so Minerva adopted her take no nonsense professor look.

"Harry, I don't have grandchildren of my own to spoil, so you'll just have to get used to this." Her expression softened, and Harry sagged, defeated. He continued to look around the store, choosing a snitch shaped pillow and a broomstick wall decal that could be activated once attached to the wall to fly around. He glanced through the team robes and shirts, and made a mental note to come back before the end of the summer to pick up something Cannon's related for Ron for Christmas.

He looked back at his guardian. "I'm done," he informed her. Minerva smiled and led him to the counter, where she paid for everything, before they headed to their next stop. Minerva knew that such a fine bookshelf as she had just bought for her charge needed to be filled. And the fact that he had asked for one told her that he would put those books to good use. So she led him towards Flourish and Blotts, where Harry's eyes truly lit up like a Christmas tree.

She watched with a fond smile as he moved methodically from section to section, seemingly taking to heart her rule about not underperforming in classes any more.

She simply followed with a basket, quickly becoming grateful that it had been charmed to be feather light. Harry added books on Transfiguration, Charms, Defense, Runes, Warding, Arithmancy, several different History books nothing on the Goblin Rebellions, she noted with an internal smile and a few on politics, which she approved of wholeheartedly. When they came to the Potions section, Harry stopped, a little nervous.

He had truly been looking forward to that subject, until the first class. He knew Snape would never be able to treat him fairly, but he wanted to do well in the subject, even if the professor was biased. He glanced over at Minerva, who simply picked out a few guides with a knowing look. She had been hearing complaints about the Potions master for years, and as much as she wanted to take the overgrown bat to task, it was up to Dumbledore to rein in his professor.

Harry looked at the titles, and knew immediately that they would be able to help him learn what he should have from first year. He would be his broomstick that A Beginner's Guide to Potions, A Complete Guide to Potions, A Textbook of Tables: Potions Ingredients, Potions Ingredients: Why they React the Way They Do, and best of all, the book he was fairly certain had to be written by a muggleborn, or someone with knowledge of the muggle world, Potions Making for Dummies, would help him more than any class with Snape ever would.

Minerva also added the fourth year textbook to the pile. They would return later in the summer to get his school supplies, but she knew this was a subject he would need a lot of help on, so it wouldn't hurt to get the book early. The employee at the counter raised his eyebrows at the quantity of books, but checked them out without a questioning word, thanking them for their business as he handed over the bag filled with books.

This, too, was charmed to be almost weightless, a true blessing, considering the library they had just purchased. By this time, Harry was truly done in, so Minerva led him back Madam Malkin's to pick up their robe purchases, before heading to the Cauldron, where they took the Floo back to McGonagall Castle. It was time for dinner, and they still needed to set up all they had purchased. _ _ _ Chapter 10 Wow, I got a record number of reviews for that last chapter.

Thank you all so much! Disclaimer: Not mine Minerva and Harry were pleasantly surprised when they returned, to find that Sirius had made good use of the rest of the afternoon. He had separated out their purchases, and cajoled two of the McGonagall house elves into helping him paint their rooms. Harry's room now looked much more lived in. His walls were a pleasant gray color, and his new red sheets and maroon comforter were on the bed. A soft plush blanket Harry had fallen in love with after touching it just once complimented the color scheme.

It was a medium gray with a maroon border, and was folded neatly at the end of the bed. The bookshelf had been built, and was sitting next to the desk.

The towels and toiletries had been placed in the bathroom, and the suits and nicer trousers and shirts had been hung up in the closet. His dresser had also been stocked. His trunk was the only thing still looking out of place. Sirius looked a little nervous. "I thought I'd set everything up, but if you don't like it, we can change it.

I left the posters and decorations for you to do with what you please, and I didn't want to go through your trunk." Harry nodded, choked up at the thoughtfulness. He didn't need to say anything; the huge hug he gave his godfather said it all.

Minerva smiled at the display of affection, before leaving them to continue setting up their rooms, after informing them that supper would take place in half an hour. XXX The days fell into a bit of a routine after that. Once they had finished their decorating Sirius had been very happy with Harry's choices of Quidditch decoration, and approved the robes Minerva had picked out they settled into summer.

Harry spent much more than the required hour working on his summer assignments and other studies every day, as the books he had acquired were quickly put to good use. He had learned more about Potions just reading the books Minerva had chosen for him than he had in three years of lessons with Snape. Harry also wrote to his friends, assuring them that he was safe, and telling them he'd see them soon. He wanted to ask Aunt Minerva about inviting his friends over, but was afraid she'd say no, or disapprove of the request for some reason.

After all, she spent most of the year around children, maybe she just wanted the summer to herself. Both she and Sirius were working on his insecurities, but it was slow going.

Sirius took him out flying every afternoon, and was thoroughly impressed by his godson's skills. The boy was a born flyer. Amelia came to visit at least four times a week, and Harry was somewhat pleased and surprised to realize that she seemed interested in Sirius. In a more than friendly way. Amelia had broached the idea of bringing Susan along, but was hesitant to guess at how she would take a meeting with an infamous murderer.

Still, she hoped that he would be free soon, and then she could introduce him to her charge. She would never consider taking their relationship to the next level unless Susan was all right with it. And if Sirius couldn't get along with Susan, they would never be anything.

Not that she was worried, watching him with Harry she knew he would be a great father. Or uncle. Harry also finally asked the question that had been gnawing at him since that conversation with Minerva before leaving Hogwarts. What he learned only made him more determined to get to know Neville. He knew what it was like to be parentless, and for Neville to still be able to see his, but not have them recognize him, was horrible.

Learning that his own mother had been Neville's godmother was also surprising. One morning, a week or so after their shopping trip, Harry finally felt sure enough to ask his guardian if he could have some friends over.

Minerva immediately agreed, and Harry leapt up with a grin, running to his bedroom to send off some invitations. Truthfully, he missed his friends, and now that he finally had a home, he wanted to show it off. Ron would love the Quidditch pitch, and he thought Hermione would drool over the library both his own, and the one McGonagall had on the ground floor.

It housed a truly impressive number of books, though Sirius informed him that Potter Manor had at least as many, and probably more. Learning that he had an Ancestral Home was a shock, and thus began daily lessons from Sirius on what he should have learned from birth the duties expected of him as the head of an Ancient and Noble House.

It was a lot to learn, but Harry thought he was keeping up. Sitting at his desk, Harry quickly penned notes to Ron and Hermione, going into more detail about what had happened at the beginning of the summer, though in very vague terms, and he informed them of where he was now living.

He asked them if they could come visit in a few days, mentioning the Quidditch pitch and library, respectively. The easiest letters done, Harry began to compose a note to Ginny next. His letters to her had been more frequent than to Ron and Hermione, and he had told her a lot about what had happened over the last few years.

She was as angry as him about his godfather's lack of trial, and couldn't wait to meet the man in person. He hesitated, unsure of what to say, and then just started writing. Like usual, the words just came. Dear Ginny, I know I promised you I wouldn't keep anything secret, but things have just been happening so quickly, I haven't really had time to think about it. I'm completely safe now, so you can stop worrying.

Aunt Minerva kept her promise, and she's now my official guardian. We're trying to keep it secret, so please don't tell anyone. I'll tell Ron and Hermione, but other than that, we just don't want the press to get involved. And since I'm the bloody Boy Who Lived, you know they would. Anyway, the first thing Aunt Minerva did after signing the forms to become my guardian was take me shopping. She disapproved of my previous wardrobe, and bought me my own mall! That's an exaggeration, but it seemed like it at the time.

It was exhausting. I got to decorate my own room, and this place feels more like home than Privet Drive ever has. McGonagall Castle is huge!

It's got so many rooms, a rather impressive ballroom and dining room included, a huge library, and&hellip. A Quidditch pitch! I've gotten to fly with Padfoot every day, so I'll be on top form when practices start next term. Amelia Bones has been by quite a bit I think she and the old dog had something going before the war ended.

She's a bit stern, but Padfoot seems to be able to make that go away. She reminds me a bit of Aunt Minerva, actually, though younger. It was a bit weird, at first, living with a professor, but Aunt Minerva has been really great, and so understanding. This is the first summer I've actually felt like I might be sad to see end. Anyway, I just wanted to ask if you'd like to come visit in a few days.

I'm inviting Ron and Hermione also, and I thought I might ask Neville as well. Did you know that, in addition to his mother being my godmother, my mother was his? I'd like to get to know him better, since this sort of makes us like godbrothers, right?

I'm also considering asking Susan Bones if she'd like to come, but I think that might be awkward. Amelia wants her to come over, but is concerned that she might not react well to meeting Padfoot. Neville might have some issues as well, but I know him better, and I think if I explain things, he'll keep it quiet. Let me know if you can come.

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I miss you, and I can't wait to see you again! Love, Harry Harry read back, and decided that it would work, and that he would explain more in person, when he told Ron and Hermione the truth. Next, he had to figure out what to say to a boy he had never really had a deep conversation with. He and Neville got along all right, but they weren't really close. He sort of felt like Neville was the odd man out. It was him and Ron, and Seamus and Dean, and Neville was just sort of there.

Harry was a little dismayed with himself for not taking the time to really get to know Neville. He had a feeling the other boy could be a great friend. Dear Neville, I know this might seem strange, since I've never written you before, and we don't spend much time together at school. I just learned this summer that your mother was my godmother, and that mine was yours. I also know what happened, and if you ever want to talk about it, I've been told I'm a pretty good listener.

I feel pretty guilty for not taking the time to get to know you before, since I think you could be a great friend, so I'd like to try and change that in the future. I mean, we're sort of like godbrothers, right? Anyway, I'm inviting a few friends over this week, and I'd like you to come as well. It'll just be you, me, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, and maybe Susan Bones.

Her aunt Amelia has been visiting a lot, so I thought I'd make the offer. Please let me know if you can come, the Floo address is McGonagall Castle it's a long story, I'll explain when (if) you come.

See you soon, Harry Harry sent off his letters, and picked up his Potions for Dummies book. Now that he understood more about why ingredients reacted the way they did, and why stirring and chopping a certain way was important, the subject was so much more interesting. XXX He got affirmative responses from all of his friends, including Neville, who sounded happy to be included, if not a little nervous. Amelia was slightly apprehensive, but agreed to bring Susan along on Thursday.

She wanted her niece to meet Sirius, and this would provide a good setting. Harry was also a little worried. He wanted his friends to see his new life, but he was afraid they would not listen to his explanation of Sirius' innocence, or in Ron's case be jealous that he was now living in a castle. He just hoped that inviting the boy over for some Quidditch would ease those feelings. XXX Thursday morning dawned bright and clear, and Harry was up early in anticipation. He called Tibby and made sure the brooms in the broom shed would be ready for use, should they desire to fly.

He also inquired about refreshments, and was informed that they would be well fed whenever they required sustenance. After breakfast, Harry moved himself to the sitting room with a book, waiting for ten o'clock, when his guests were due to arrive. He, Minerva, and Sirius had planned out what they wanted to do, and believed the best way to start would be to explain to Neville and Susan about Harry's godfather first, before they moved on to anything else.

The Floo flared promptly at ten, and Harry looked up from Intermediate Transfiguration to greet Amelia, who took in both his worried smile and tense posture, offering him a hand as she said hello. Her own nervousness was well hidden, though Harry was observant, and had gotten to know the formidable woman quite well over the last few weeks, so he could see some concern as he stood up, setting his book down on the end table.

The fire went green again, and Susan stepped out, looking around in fascination at her professor's home, before she greeted her classmate. Susan had been confused to receive the invitation from Harry, but when her aunt had told her she wanted to introduce someone to her, Susan was willing to go along with it. The fire once more flared, spitting out Hermione first, and then Neville a few moments later.

Ginny and Ron were the last to arrive, brushing off ash from their clothes as they took in the comfortable room they found themselves in. Minerva entered the sitting room at that moment, and smiled at the greetings she received.

Most seemed quite intimidated to be in the presence of the Transfiguration professor, but she did her best to set them at ease. Her students were surprised by how laid back she was here, away from the school. Minerva offered them all a seat, before she and Amelia turned to Neville and Susan. They had been told that Harry had already informed the youngest Weasley about Sirius, and Ron and Hermione had already met him. Asking for their patience, and to listen to the whole story before they reacted, they informed the two of what had happened all those years ago.

Susan and Neville listened, dumbfounded, as they learned about the massive failure of their justice system. It seemed so utterly unbelievable, yet when they looked at their classmates, they saw no sign of joking. None of the rest seemed surprised, so they figured the other Gryffindors had already known. Amelia took a deep breath. "I am working on getting Sirius a trial, but the Minister is unwilling to listen to the possibility of him being innocent.

I am confident that I can make it happen by the end of the summer, but it will take some hard work." Neville shifted. "Could you talk with my Grandmother?" he asked quietly, blushing when all the attention turned to him. "Gran's pretty important in the Wizengamot. If she knew about this, she would stand behind you.

Gran's a big believer in truth and justice." Amelia nodded. She hadn't thought about that possibility, but Madam Longbottom could be a big help. "I will certainly do that, thank you Mr. Longbottom." Neville looked over at Harry, to see a grateful expression on his classmate's face. He smiled, and Harry's returning grin was enough to set him at ease. Susan was the next one to speak. "Auntie, while I'm grateful to be in on the secret, why are you telling us?" Amelia looked over at Minerva and Harry, and then to the door.

It opened a moment later, and Sirius made his way into the gathering, looking uncharacteristically serious. Amelia took a deep breath as she stood up, Neville and Susan following suit. "Susan, Neville, allow me to introduce to you Sirius Black, soon to be head of the Ancient and Noble House of Black. Lord Black, Neville Longbottom, heir to the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom, and my niece, Susan Bones, heir to the Noble House of Bones." The introductions went smoothly, as both Susan and Neville had been trained in proper etiquette.

Neville bowed slightly before offering his hand for the Black lord to shake, after which Sirius turned to Susan. She gave a small curtsey, and offered her own hand, which Sirius lightly kissed, smiling. "It's a pleasure to meet you both," he said courteously. "All of you," he said, turning to the rest of the room. "Your parents were all great friends of mine, and I look forward to getting to know the next generation." Ron and Ginny seemed startled to know that their parents had been friends with Sirius, while Hermione obviously knew that she wasn't included in the 'parents' statement, but nonetheless was happy to see the man again.

Especially since Harry seemed so ecstatic. Neville almost grimaced, but held it in. He didn't want to talk about his parents, and hoped the conversation would steer clear. Susan just looked from her aunt to Sirius, and back, noting the way they seemed to be standing just a little too close, an idea niggling in the back of her mind. Amelia had said she wanted to introduce someone. She wondered if there was anything going on between those two.

She caught Harry's eye, and he grinned and nodded. Susan returned the smile, happy for her aunt. Sirius seemed like a nice man, and she knew her aunt got lonely sometimes. With the heavy explanations over, Harry led his friends on a tour of the house.

Hermione and Susan drooled over the library, while Ron couldn't wait to get out onto the Quidditch pitch. The ballroom received some appreciative whistles from Ginny, and Neville's eyes widened when Harry pointed out the greenhouse. Harry somewhat nervously showed them his room, which was met by approving nods from all his friends. Ron liked the broom decal he had found at Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Ginny was enjoying the muggle posters he had set up.

They didn't move, but some of the artwork was so beautiful it didn't need to. Hermione immediately moved over to the bookshelf and started reading the titles, much to Harry's amusement. When she turned back to him, he smiled. "Yes, I'm bringing most of them with me to school, and yes, you can borrow them." Hermione blushed a little, but was pleased with his response. She was especially eager to read his history books. Goblin rebellions got rather old after a while.

Ginny pulled Harry over to sit on the bed, while Ron claimed the desk chair. Hermione also sat on the bed, and Neville and Susan claimed places on the floor. When Harry had first arrived, the rug had been a rather dark brown. However, thanks to the wonderful world of magic, it was now a medium-dark gray, which set off the walls quite nicely.

"Spill, Potter," Ginny commanded, not letting go of his hand. She had a feeling he might need some comfort. Harry did look rather nervous, though he began speaking willingly, without any further prodding. Harry hesitantly began to tell them of what had happened at the beginning of the summer. He didn't go into much detail, unwilling to tell them all of it especially Susan and Neville, whom he liked quite a bit but didn't really know all that well yet but he told them about his uncle's lost client, and how Vernon had decided it was his fault.

He informed them of how he had woken up a day later on the floor of his room, and decided then and there that he couldn't stay any longer. He talked about how Sirius had found him dragging his trunk down the street, and how he had taken him to his family home, before calling Minerva.

Hearing Harry call her 'Aunt Minerva' was a very strange experience, Ron reflected. He wasn't stupid enough to not be able to read between the lines, and he knew that his friend's summer had been rougher than he had really explained, before he had left. He also couldn't ignore the tiny twinges of jealousy on that tour of the castle. But he squashed it down, just happy that his friend was now safe. After that, Harry quickly touched on the rest of his summer, the shopping trip, summer studies, flying, and the like.

For the first time, he truly looked carefree. He was still a kid in many ways, and for as long as he was able, he wanted to be able to act like one. XXX The friends stayed in Harry's room for a while longer, laughing and talking about all manner of things, from what they had been doing with their summers, to their schoolwork. Hermione, Susan, and Neville spent some time talking about the electives that Ginny - and hopefully Harry - would be taking, telling them what to expect.

Harry was surprised to learn that Neville was also taking Arithmancy, but was pleased that he would hopefully be able to share another class with him. Susan was interested to hear what Minerva had managed to do for Harry she hadn't known that it was possible to change electives, and she was impressed that Harry was managing to fit an entire year's worth of Ancient Runes and Arithmancy work into the span of one summer.

When Ron's stomach told them loudly that it was time for lunch, the six new friends made their way down to the dining room, where they found an impressive spread laid out for them. It appeared that the adults had already eaten, or so they were informed by Tibby, so they didn't wait before falling on the sandwiches, crisps, roasted potatoes, and salad with relish.

After lunch, they decided to do some flying, though Hermione and Neville seemed less than eager. Harry quietly pulled Ron aside, and suggested that before they discuss any Quidditch matches, they work on helping their friends get more comfortable in the air. Ron was willing, and took Hermione with him, while Harry watched, amused, before turning back to see Ginny looking at him knowingly.

He just shook his head, and together, they spent some time with Neville. Susan was more than willing to show him a few tricks that helped her, and soon enough, the two were in the air, circling slowly. Ginny was the next one up, and Harry was surprised by the amount of ease she showed on a broom. He pulled up next to her, riding his own Firebolt. "Where'd you learn to do that?" he asked, smiling. "According to Ron, you've never flown in any of the Weasley family Quidditch matches." Ginny scowled.

"They'd never let me play. I've been sneaking out to ride their brooms since I was six. I'm hoping to play chaser once Angelina and Alicia leave in a couple years." Harry nodded, his smile widening into a grin at her explanation of her prowess. Ginny suddenly looked concerned. "Please don't tell anyone about the whole stealing the brooms thing. I'd never hear the end of it if my brothers found out." Harry nodded his agreement, and the two flew off to join the impromptu game of aerial tag that seemed to be going on.

XXX It was probably an hour or so later when Harry and Ginny set down on the edge of the Pitch, near a few trees that provided some comfortable shade.

The rest of the group was still up there enjoying themselves even Neville and Hermione, now that they were more comfortable. Since they were alone, Ginny wasted no time in demanding a full explanation. Harry didn't even bother arguing. He took out his wand and set up a few basic privacy wards that he had learned from Common Wards Everyone Should Know, causing Ginny to raise her eyebrow. Harry just shrugged. "The wards around the property prevent anyone from telling when magic is used.

I've been able to get a lot of practicing done. Aunt Minerva just said that she or Sirius need to be present whenever I'm using magic, in case something goes wrong." Ginny nodded, and then gave Harry a look he understood completely. With a sigh, he began to tell her everything; from the moment he set foot into Number Four at the beginning of the summer, and through his escape.

He told her about how Amelia was investigating his uncle, and how he hoped that they could find something else to prosecute him with, since he really didn't want it to become known, as he knew the wizarding world would find out if Amelia had them arrested for child abuse.

Ginny listened in silence, offering her support as needed. She said nothing when he was done, just gave the boy a Weasley Hug, passing on all her feelings as best she could.

She somehow knew that Harry understood, as he hugged her back, before the two separated. They didn't really need to talk about what had just happened. The pair continued to talk for a while longer, before a shout from above drew their attention skyward. The rest of their friends were descending, so Harry took down the privacy wards, making sure his wand was once more hidden before Hermione saw and started in on him using magic over the summer.

The six of them put away their brooms and trooped inside, feeling tired but happy. They were met by the three adults, who invited them to have tea, and the rest of the afternoon disappeared in a whirlwind of stories and laughter. Sirius had them all in stitches as he recounted several pranks he and the Marauders had pulled. Minerva looked appropriately stern and upset at his rule breaking, but they could all see her lips fighting a smile.

Soon enough, it was time for everyone to head home. Amelia and Susan were the first to leave, thanking Harry and Minerva for their hospitality, and receiving an open-ended invitation to visit any time. Susan surprised everyone by giving Sirius a hug, whispering something in his ear.

When she stepped back, both of them were smiling. Amelia also surprised the group by giving Sirius a chaste kiss on the cheek, though if her look was anything to go by, there might be more where that came from soon.

Sirius' smile turned to a full-on grin. Hermione left next, saying goodbye to everyone and hugging Harry tightly, telling him how happy she was for him in a whisper that went unheard by everyone else.

After she called out "The Leaky Cauldron" and vanished, Ron and Ginny were next. Ginny spent longer saying goodbye, hugging Harry just as tightly as Hermione, and extracting another promise to keep writing. Harry nodded his agreement. "And you guys are welcome, any time," he told them, looking questioningly at Minerva, smiling when he received a nod from her. Ginny beamed. "And you're welcome at the Burrow," she invited him, not that he really needed the invitation. He had had a standing offer since the summer after his first year.

When it was only Neville left, Sirius and Minerva left the room, and Harry asked Neville to sit down. He had wanted some time alone to speak to the other boy, and so had asked for him to wait until last to depart. Once alone, though, he wasn't sure how to begin. Finally, he just decided to go with the truth.

"I'm sorry for the way I've treated you over the years," he said shamefully. Neville shook his head. "You didn't treat me badly, Harry," he replied earnestly.

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"You became friends with Ron, it's only natural that you would spend more time with him." "But I didn't really spend much time getting to know you. You're a good guy, and I'm sorry that I didn't recognize that earlier. I would like to correct my mistake, if you're willing." Neville looked confused. "What do you mean?" Harry leaned forward. "I want us to be friends. We've got a connection, simply because of our parents, but I want to forge that kind of bond with you. You heard Sirius.

Our dads were really good friends from almost the beginning. And so were our mums. From what he's told me so far, our families have always stood beside each other." Neville nodded. The Potter and Longbottom families were longtime allies. "I'd like that," he answered, somewhat shyly. Harry looked down. "I'd also like to know a little bit about my godmother," he admitted hesitantly.

"I know you don't know much, but maybe your grandmother could tell me a little? I know Sirius would be happy to talk to you about your parents." This was getting into uncomfortable territory, so Neville just nodded. "I could ask her," he replied. Harry grinned. "Thanks, mate," he said. Neville had to get home, so with a quick goodbye and a promise to write, and maybe visit again soon, he disappeared.

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