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SIYE Time:12:23 on 13th August 2022


Moody's Blues
By gryffins_door

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Category: Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Sexual Situations, Violence
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 31
Summary: The adults in Harry's life start acting more like adults; in the meantime, Harry discovers something special in Ginny. Starts late in OotP; mostly canon to that point. Total AU after Book 6. H/G, mentor Moody.
Hitcount: Story Total: 8611; Chapter Total: 790
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:

A/N: This story has recently become my second most favorited and followed - thanks to all; I hope I keep it up to your expectations. Several kind reviewers (in this and some other stories) have mentioned how they like my characterizations of Harry and Ginny - I just write them as I think JKR would have if she had let them be together more often, taking many of my cues from the "horntail tattoo" scene at the beginning of HBP chapter 25 (shameless promo: my fic "Body Art" expands on that). Welcome to my headcanon.

Ch 6 in which Harry thrives in confrontations…





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- 6 -
The Voice

Won't you take me back to school?
I need to learn the golden rule
Won't you lay it on the line?
I need to hear it just one more time

o

With your arms around the future
And your back up against the past
You're already falling
It's calling you on to face the music

- The Moody Blues

o o
o

"What do you mean?" asked Remus, alarmed. "Who's here?"

"Behind you," Harry said, still in pain, eyes wrenched shut. "Several rows back. I think it's the snake - his snake."

In Harry's mind, he was looking at the two men, Remus Lupin and Mad-Eye Moody, who had brought him here to this windswept graveyard in Godric's Hollow, turning from the headstone of James and Lily Potter to face his viewpoint. It still seemed odd that he was standing right between those two, but unable to be seen because of his invisibility cloak.

"Can you point me to it?" growled Mad-Eye, who already had his wand raised in defense of something he couldn't see.

Catching on quickly, Harry grabbed Mad-Eye's wand arm and reclosed his eyes. After a couple of misdirected attempts, he pointed it so that it was lined up with the source of the view he was seeing in his mind. It was like he was pointing the wand at himself.

"There! You're pointing right at it!"

Mad-Eye sucked in a quick breath. "Reducto!"

A jet of magical energy erupted from his wand, and in Harry's mind the view jumped abruptly to the side and was obscured in a cloud of earth as the blasting curse hit the ground nearby.

"We missed," Harry said, "but it was really close."

"I can see movement!" Remus cried, who began firing curses himself. "It must be disillusioned, but it's got dirt on it!"

"Right," agreed Mad-Eye, and together they rained a hail of lethal magic upon the spot where they thought the snake might be, moving between the headstones.

Suddenly, the pain eased in Harry's mind; he could no longer see the view from the snake's eyes. He opened his own eyes in time to witness a misty black cloud rise from a barely recognizable mass of a bloodied, thick ropey body. Its anguished scream was an unearthly reminder that this was no normal snake.

"Merlin," breathed Harry, as his minders looked on in wonder, "that was - "

But his thought was interrupted by a series of pops in the graveyard, and half a dozen dark figures with eerie white masks began firing curses their way.

"Get down!" yelled Mad-Eye, even as all three dropped behind the nearest headstone.

"Protego!" cried Harry, and a substantial shield formed in front of them, giving a momentary respite from the chunks of exploding headstone.

"Harry!" said Remus, "you aren't supposed to - "

"As a senior member of the DMLE," interrupted Mad-Eye, "I authorize use of underage magic for emergency defense. Keep that damn shield up!"

Harry poured out more magic to strengthen the shield as he watched Mad-Eye send off a pair of patronuses while Remus tried to return some nasty hexes of his own.

"They've blocked apparition and portkeys and have us outnumbered," Mad-Eye said. "We've got to defend ourselves until help arrives. I've notified Dumbledore and Thicknesse, let's see who gets here quicker."

Harry noticed that the Death Eaters were slowly moving closer to their position, but were staying relatively close together. He realized they would be upon them very soon if they didn't do something more offensive.

"Remus, do you think you could take my cloak and flank them?" He pulled out the decoy detonators he acquired at the Weasley twins' shop. "These set off some kind of fake explosion that may distract them. You take a couple and throw behind them, and I'll do the same from this side."

Mad-Eye nodded as he continued to fire his own curses. "Do it!"

Remus agreed and took the cloak from Harry. "You're sure?"

"I don't really wanna die on top of my parents' graves, so, yeah, go!"

"Once he starts moving," Mad-Eye said, "drop your shield and give 'em hell. He needs cover fire."

Harry began with the most powerful blasting hexes he could muster, and the headstones which hid the Death Eaters soon became rubble, forcing them to retreat behind a further row, even with two of them holding shield spells. This went on for a minute or so before two new explosions were heard further back and their attentions were suddenly divided as curses now came from the side they hadn't been protecting.

Harry took advantage and tossed his two detonators out before resuming the barrage of blasting hexes, actually getting a good hit on one of them. Three of the Death Eaters were now down, and the others were yelling and scrambling, confused about where the attacks were coming from, and then a wash of magic overcame the graveyard.

They had dropped their portkey blocking enchantments and disappeared.

Shortly after, the red-robed Aurors and Albus Dumbledore arrived almost simultaneously to find Mad-Eye Moody standing over a collapsed Remus Lupin and Harry Potter, both of whom were bloody and bruised, yet laughing uncontrollably.

"Stupid pranks," Mad-Eye grumbled to the bemused group, "and these two knuckleheads saved our arses today."

o o o

"Sure you don't want me to kiss it again?"

"It's okay, Gin, but I'd rather have you kiss me here," Harry pointed to his lips, "because they like it better."

"And it has nothing to do with that little wince every time?"

"Maybe a little," Harry admitted. The left side of his head had apparently taken a beating from pieces of the exploding headstones earlier that afternoon. Ever after a visit from Madam Pomfrey, the Hogwarts school matron, it was still a little sore.

"Any more headaches?"

"No, thankfully Tom seems to have settled down a bit. He was so mad for so long…"

"You would be too if your 'cowardly minions' had been too late to save your creepy familiar who had been stalking a likely spot that your nemesis would appear, anticipating a preemptive sneak attack that would save you the trouble of embarrassing yourself again in front of said cowardly minions."

Harry fought a losing battle to keep his laughter quiet in the otherwise still house. "Well, when you put it that way…"

They held onto each other in their collective mirth, but as their tension released, they were reminded once again that Harry had survived yet another brush with death that day.

"Is it always going to be like this?" Ginny sighed.

"Merlin, I hope not. The prophecy said 'neither can live while the other survives' and I guess this is what that really means. Dumbledore is supposed to give me lessons on how to take down Tom permanently this year, if that works - "

"When it works…"

"Right," Harry grinned, "I just might be able to live - really live - a normal life for once."

"Harry Potter, doing normal?" Ginny said with a smirk. "The world might stop from the shock…"

o o o

The Godric's Hollow attack received little attention in the press since only a snake was killed and only Dumbledore knew of its true significance. He also pressed the Aurors into neglecting to mention the involvement of Harry Potter in their public report.

The rest of the summer passed in a blur of wedding planning, quidditch, packing for school, and secret late-night rendezvouses of the two teens who were comfortable enough to relax together, sharing warmth, comfort and kisses as they needed. Yet they still kept these meetings to themselves because Harry was determined that Ginny would not be connected to him more than she already was as a Weasley.

On the first day of September the teens arrived once again at Kings Cross station, escorted this time by a couple of surly Aurors who had little to say and even less humor about it. They made it through the barrier without any problems, but as usual they were running late and had very little time to board the train. Molly delayed Harry even more by giving him one of her mothering hugs and reminding him that he was invited to spend Christmas with them this year.

"It's all worked out with Dumbledore," she said, as Harry backed onto the steps.

Harry nodded with a grin, thinking he would be wherever Ginny was.

They remained on the steps as the Hogwarts Express commenced its northward journey, hissing and chugging. Molly jogged alongside, waving them off, until she ran out of platform.

Harry nudged Ginny, one step above him. "I remember you doing that on my first trip," he said with a teasing grin.

"We Weasleys will always see you off, Harry," she said, gripping his shoulder. "I better get going unless we want people to talk."

"Right," Harry agreed sadly, watching her disappear into the carriage. It was all part of the plan to keep their relationship secret - Ginny would spend plenty of time with her own friends on the train and at school. Harry knew she would still be around, but time alone together would be harder to find, and he could already feel the emptiness in his heart.

Harry entered the carriage as Ron and Hermione made their apologies, proceeding forward to the prefects' carriage where they had to participate in the start-of-year briefing.

He found himself alone in the aisle, suddenly aware of the many pairs of eyes looking his way with awe, fear, or something else even more frightening from the girls around him, like he was just plated up for their next meal.

Luckily, he found a friendly face further ahead. "Hey, Neville, wait up!"

Together they met up with Luna and half of the "Ministry Six" finally found an empty compartment they could share. They spent an enjoyable time catching up on their summer activities and thankfully Luna did not bring up Ginny at all.

That didn't mean they were left alone. The starstruck girls kept wandering by to say hello and even invite Harry to their compartments. A bold fourth year Gryffindor named Romilda Vane was particularly insistent, but Harry took offense when she made some unflattering comments about his compartment mates.

"They think you should have cooler friends," Luna said with her typical blunt honesty.

"I don't care what they think - you guys are cool; you came to the Ministry with me and that's the kind of friends that I want."

"Thanks, Harry," Luna said, settling down wearing strange-looking 'Spectrespecs' and reading the latest Quibbler upside-down, because special content was hidden that way. Harry never fully understood, but he did find her quirkiness endearing. It bothered him that her bullies were never dealt with in the past; maybe they could do something about that this year.

"Yeah, that means a lot," Neville added, "and what you said about my wand was spot on too. My new one works so much better -"

They chatted about the Ministry battle as the train clicked along the tracks, and Harry remembered that Dumbledore had mentioned it might have been Neville who could have been chosen as the subject of the prophecy, might have become the Boy-Who-Lived, and might have experienced these crazy situations instead of himself. He looked critically at his friend and felt he was finally growing into a formidable wizard, one he would be glad to have his back.

Ron and Hermione finally returned with news that Draco Malfoy was shirking his prefect duties, just sitting with the other Slytherins and being rude to all who passed.

"It's like he has this higher calling," Ron said, "as if he wasn't stuck up enough already."

"Yes," Hermione said, giving Ron a look of warning, "but who knows what he really thinks. He doesn't have his father around to threaten anyone this year."

"Maybe we did him a favor," Harry returned, and they all laughed in agreement. Harry was aware that they weren't supposed to spread any gossip about Draco gaining the Dark Mark, but Harry also knew that he would need to be watched carefully this year.

Ron began complaining about the food trolley not coming through yet when a young girl brought two invitations for 'a bite of lunch' with their new teacher, Horace Slughorn, one each for Harry and Neville.

"Why's he inviting me?" Neville wondered aloud. "I'm not you, Harry."

You could have been, thought Harry. "You're underestimating yourself, mate, but I don't really know why he's inviting me except I met him over the summer."

"Seriously, mate?" Ron laughed.

Harry grimaced. "I'd rather not be famous, you know."

"We know, Harry," said Hermione. "You'll tell us what he's like?"

What he's like, thought Harry as he shared some of the professor's pheasant and meat pies, is larger than life. Not only did his bulk dominate the space in the compartment but his boisterous personality overshadowed everyone else he had invited.

Slughorn was also some kind of collector of the rich, famous and well-connected members of British magical society. Everybody who was anybody was welcome to join his 'Slug Club' as he called it. Sharing the compartment were a couple of seventh years whose parents were known for something - Belby from Slytherin, and the arrogant berk McClaggen from Gryffindor, who kept trying to brag his way onto the quidditch team. Besides Neville and himself, Blaise Zabini was in their year from Slytherin and had a mum who was famous for her beauty and the number of times she had been widowed, leaving her quite rich.

The lone fifth year was Ginny, who was probably the only attendee there on their own merit, because Slughorn had witnessed her performing a nasty bat-bogey hex on Zacharias Smith who had been extremely annoying. Harry was secretly proud of her for that; he had no love for Smith either.

Slughorn interviewed each of them in turn, eventually trying to get Harry to admit or deny that he was indeed the 'Chosen One' as declared in the Daily Prophet and Harry would only admit to being in the confrontation at the Ministry of Magic in June, and Ginny and Neville backed him up.

The professor spent the rest of the afternoon in long random soliloquies about his time with the rich, famous, and otherwise well-connected wizards and witches of British magical society, and the students were eager to leave once he realized they were getting close to Hogsmeade station and dismissed them.

In the corridor, Harry spied Zabini walking ahead and realized he would be returning to the compartment with Draco Malfoy and friends, and he was always one to take advantage when opportunities presented themselves.

"Ginny," he whispered urgently, pulling out his invisibility cloak, "I'm going to try something crazy. I'll see you guys on the platform." And he disappeared before she could respond.

It was dicey getting into the Slytherin compartment, but Harry managed to hide on the luggage rack for the rest of the trip. Malfoy was at first curious about the meeting, but quickly bored once he determined the news was of little worth. He gave subtle hints that his status and responsibilities had improved beyond that of a simple student and left the others to make of that what they would.

Harry was so engrossed in the conversation that he was caught unawares when Goyle reached for his trunk and caught Harry hard on the side of his head. Malfoy noticed his gasp, just as he thought he had seen a flash of a white trainer as Harry first climbed up.

When the train finally pulled into Hogsmeade station, he told the others to go ahead and wasted no time sending a petrifying hex at the spot where Harry was hiding, causing him to topple and crash uncontrollably to the floor, defenseless before the angry Slytherin.

"Potter - I might have known," Malfoy laughed maliciously as he checked that the corridor was empty. "You think you're so smart sneaking in here, but you didn't hear anything I care about. But I have a message from Father for you…"

He brought his heel heavily down on Harry's face, breaking his nose and spurting blood across the compartment. He pulled Harry's invisibility cloak out from underneath him and draped it over his immobile body.

"They might find you when the train gets back to London, or they might not. I'm not bothered either way. Have fun, scarhead." With that, Malfoy took care to tread across Harry's fingers on his way out the door.

Harry could hear his steps fading away and cursed his luck. He was invisible, he couldn't move and had no way to let anyone know about it. Malfoy was going to lord this over him…

He thought he heard someone whisper a spell, followed by a muffled whump that he could feel through the floor. A moment later, the compartment door slid open and the voice of an angel called out to him.

"Harry? Are you here?"

Shuffling feet approached until they bumped his legs. His invisibility cloak was lifted away and that same voice called, "Finite incantatem."

Harry was finally able to stretch out and wipe the blood away that had been pouring into his open mouth. "Ginny! You are amazing, you know that?"

"Yeah, I know," she said with a smirk. "When you said you were going to 'try something crazy' I knew someone needed to watch your back. Here, let me fix your nose. Episkey."

"Ooh," Harry said as his nose returned to its normal shape, "that feels so much better."

They made their way down the corridor and stepped over the stunned body of Draco Malfoy.

"How did you get the drop on him?" Harry asked.

"He was gloating, not paying much attention or looking for hidden assailants, piece of cake, really…"

"Hey, there's still people on the platform. Do you wanna get under the cloak, just to be safe?"

Ginny shrugged. "Sure, I guess." She ducked under and vanished as they made their way off the train toward the carriages for the school.

"Hey, Tonks!" Harry said as they passed the young Auror providing security. "You should probably know, I just saw your cousin Draco back there; he didn't look so good. Someone may have cursed him or something."

Tonks frowned. "Wotcher, Harry, thanks for letting me know." She climbed onto the train muttering about blond ponces who deserved whatever they got…

Harry found Hermione, Ron, Neville and Luna waiting by one of the last carriages. As they all climbed in, Ginny suddenly appeared among them and only Luna noticed, giving her a big smile.

"Harry, what happened to you?" Hermione said. "You've got blood all over you." She quickly siphoned it off him with her wand.

"Thanks," Harry said in gratitude."Malfoy happened, and no, I didn't leave him any worse for wear. He's just stunned and I sent Tonks to look after him, so no harm done."

"Waste of a good opportunity, there," said Ron.

They talked and laughed the whole ride up to the school and just before they walked through the doors of the Great Hall of Hogwarts School, Harry took Luna's arm.

"Shall I escort you to your table, milady?" he said in an overly posh accent.

"Why thank you, good sir," she said, raising her chin to play along.

The procession caught the eyes of everyone - the newly self-assured Boy-Who-Lived, happily chatting with the odd girl known by many as Loony, followed by four scowling Gryffindors with wands held low but ready, focused on the wary Ravenclaw students with an unmistakable message:

Don't mess with our Luna, unless you want us to mess with you.

o o o

Despite the dark warnings by Dumbledore and the confirmation that Snape was indeed the new Defense teacher, Harry enjoyed returning to school and the company of friends. Yet he had a bad feeling that the incident with Malfoy on the train had yet to be resolved.

It was not until they were dismissed back to their common rooms that he received the summons to the headmaster's office.

"I'll see you back in the tower soon," he told Hermione and Ron, giving Ginny a glance that said I'll be alright and they can't pin anything on you.

Harry entered Dumbledore's office and was not surprised to find that Snape was already there, wasting no time to accuse him of attacking students on the train.

"Potter has gone too far this time! Chosen One or not, he should be expelled!"

Harry looked at the sour man with an icy expression. "Let me guess, it was Draco Malfoy that made this accusation?"

"It matters not -"

"Oh, I believe it does, because everyone in this room knows that he is a consummate liar. If it's not an outright falsehood he conveniently twists the truth so that it is hardly recognizable."

Dumbledore scowled from behind his desk, but he seemed willing to listen to Harry's argument. Snape, however, was another matter.

"This is not about Draco, you insolent boy!"

"No, no, of course not," said Harry, arms crossed, "it's about being attacked on the train. You obviously gathered evidence to support his claim. Did you wonder about the body-bind curse on his wand? Did you find my blood on the heel of his right boot? Did you peek into his evil little mind to see what actually happened? Oh, wait, apparently not, because you didn't realize that it was actually him who attacked me!"

"So you say, but you were seen riding in a carriage with your friends, while Draco had to be revived by Aurors on the train! You were the last to leave - he was attacked by you!"

Harry chose his words carefully, stating only the truth while hiding Ginny's involvement. "I was petrified on the floor of a compartment. There was no way for me to see who attacked him. When I was able to get up, I passed him laying on the floor of the next carriage. I told Auror Tonks about it as I left the train, as I'm sure she already told you if you bothered to ask."

Snape maintained full steam ahead. "You weren't injured when you entered the castle. That proves you are lying!"

"My friends know basic healing and cleaning spells. They took care of me on the ride up."

Snape continued on, insisting that Harry was fabricating his whole story without any evidence other than the word of a newly branded Death Eater, almost as if he was still working for Voldemort after all these years -

Snape's raving became a distant echo to Harry as the final piece clicked into place and a terrible, chilling picture formed, crystalizing in his mind.

"It was you."

The simple accusation brought a death-like silence to the room, if just for a moment.

"What nonsense is this?" Snape spat.

"In the Hog's Head, it was you that was caught trying to overhear Trelawny's interview -"

"Headmaster!" Snape protested in outrage, "you see that Potter is now trying to misdirect -"

"You're the reason they're dead!"

Snape went for his wand, but too late realized that Harry's wand was already in his face.

"Petrificus Totalus!"

"Mr. Potter!" Dumbledore said as Snape crashed to the floor. "That is quite enough!" He rose from his chair, reaching for his own wand.

Harry, however, was in complete reaction mode and whipped around towards Dumbledore.

"Expelliarmus!"< /p>

Dumbledore watched in horror as the wand that had done his bidding for the past five decades flew into the outstretched hand of a student so lost in his anger that he paid no attention to the shower of sparks the wand emitted.

"Tell me it's not true!"

"Mr. Potter," Dumbledore pleaded, "Harry, you must calm down -"

"You won't, because you can't!" Harry cried, and began pacing across the office, wildly waving a wand in each hand.

He stopped in front of Snape's rigid body, who looked up at him, eyes full of loathing.

"That's why he didn't kill her straight away, isn't it? He told her to stand aside because you asked him to spare her life, didn't you? A favor for delivering the prophecy, wasn't it?"

He leaned closer. "You miserable waste of flesh, you couldn't even do that right."

"Harry!" Dumbledore said, "I must insist -"

"Sir," Harry said, waving a wand back in the headmaster's direction, "this is not about you. I need to say this right now."

He turned back to his former potions professor. "You remember my mum's sister, Petunia, right? She remembers you. She doesn't like you very much. But I don't take much of what she says at face value, because she's a real piece of work, just like her whale of a husband and their bully of a son. None of them like me very much either."

Snape lay frozen, still fuming, but he was at least paying attention.

"But growing up with them," Harry continued, "I learned to hate bullies with a passion. So when I saw how my dad and his friends treated you, I was horrified. As the last remaining Potter, I apologize for everything they did to you, and I release any debts that you may owe. But I can't change the past.

"So I realized that while my dad was a bully, he must've grown out of it, or mum wouldn't have chosen him instead of you. You, on the other hand, still hold onto your old schoolboy grudges, insulting me from my very first day in your class - you called me a celebrity when I'd only known about magic and that my parents were not layabout drunks for a little over a month. You take Malfoy's side in every disagreement we've ever had, despite the fact that he is almost always the instigator.

"More important, you ignored us when we told you about Sirius' innocence because you were so focused on finally getting revenge. Later you taunted him for being useless stuck at headquarters, so I consider you partially responsible for his recklessness in going to the Ministry in June and getting himself killed.

"Headmaster, I request to withdraw from Defense Against the Dark Arts class this year."

Dumbledore sat back, looking worn and even more aged than his years. "I can probably guess why, but please state your reasons."

"The only reason I learned anything from this git in Potions was because I knew nothing at all. However, I am a decent student of Defense - it was my only Outstanding OWL - and despite his obvious talents and knowledge of the subject, I doubt I will learn much if his teaching is no better than it was in Potions."

"Harry, that's not -"

"But the main reason - I don't want to go to Azkaban when I kill him after he goads me once too often, nor do I want my friends to be collateral damage."

He glared at Dumbledore, who finally sighed in resignation.

"I think we should discuss this after time has allowed cooler heads to prevail. And you must realize there will be consequences for your actions tonight."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, I reckoned there would be."

He tossed Dumbledore's wand onto his desk. "May I go to my common room now?"

"Yes, I believe that would be wise."

o

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