The Awakening Power


Story Summary:
Complete! Challenges fill Harry's busy sixth year: growing powers, Snape becomes defense teacher (and Harry's not in the mood for abuse), a new Potions teacher, a girl with a new crush on him, Quidditch, Voldemort, and a certain redheaded girl named Ginny who may help him through all of it. What are the goblins up to? Will Ron win Hermione back? And what exactly is Voldemort's diabolical plan to kill Harry and plunge magical society into anarchy? Lots of romance, drama, action and humor! Voted Phoenix Song's Best Novel-Length Story (along with Best Harry and Best Kiss).

Chapter 12

Chapter Summary:
Harry’s powers are growing very strong, and Dumbledore is worried about his control. Meanwhile, Snape has become the new Defense teacher, and Harry resolves not to take his abuse this year… Will Harry notice Ginny? Will Ron win Hermione back? Who has a new crush on Harry? Who is the new Potions teacher? And what exactly is Voldemort’s diabolical plan to kill Harry and plunge magical society into anarchy? Lots of humor, drama, action and romance as all these questions are answered and much more in Harry’s busy sixth year.
Author's Note:
Harry's sixth year, after OotP. H/G, R/Hr, PG-13 rating.

Chapter 12: Battles of Different Sorts

* * *

Hermione stared at her essay, trying to pay attention as she wrote another line. She was finding it difficult to concentrate after her conversation with Joseph, who was sitting next to her.

Had he really just asked her if she had a boyfriend? She had been wondering if he was really interested in her, but there wasn't much to misinterpret in that question. She wasn't sure if she had any reciprocal interest, but she had to admit it was nice to have a boy her own age be relatively direct about it.

Unlike certain people, she thought, annoyed. She wondered where Ron was right then. Probably off goofing around somewhere.

"Joseph, you know that we're going to start up Dumbledore's Army meetings again. It was kind of a secret club last year to practice defense, but this year it's more in the open," she said.

"Er, yes, I saw the posting on the Bulletin Board," he said.

"Do you want to come?" Hermione asked.

"Um, no, I don't think so, sorry. That isn't really my sort of thing," he said, a bit pompously. "In fact, I didn't even take the OWL exam."

Hermione blinked. "You didn't like the subject?"

"Well, I believe in peaceful solutions to problems. I mean, the early Defense years are useful, like learning to handle Boggarts, but later on it's all about violence. I mean, they call it defense, but most of it is really about attacking other people," he said.

Hermione thought this was a bit of an odd take on it, but decided not to push the subject.

"All right, then," she said, smiling uncertainly before turning back to her essay.

* * *

Harry felt tense as he walked into Snape's classroom with Ron and Hermione. It was the first time he'd seen Snape since their first class of the year, and he felt a kind of cold anger bubbling in him. Even though he had promised Hermione that he'd control himself, he was not going to take his abuse.

"Back, Potter?" said Draco snidely. "After your humiliation last time, I'm surprised you're showing your face. Interesting how poorly you do with a real teacher."

"Sod off, Malfoy," said Harry, irritated. He really didn't want to deal with Malfoy on top of Snape.

"What's the matter, Potter? Afraid that you're getting exposed for the fraud you are?" asked Draco.

"And what's your claim to fame, Malfoy?" said Ron. "Spending your father's money?"

Malfoy gave him cold look. "Someday you'll understand what family connections are all about, Weasley."

"What's that supposed to mean? That you'll use your father's connections in Azkaban?" said Ron.

Snape marched into the classroom and the room became instantly silent. After calling the role, he began the lesson.

"Your bludgeoning and shield spell work in the last class was unacceptable. Apparently we will require more remedial work that I had thought," he said, glancing at Harry with a sneer. Harry felt his temper rising as the Slytherins sniggered.

"I will demonstrate the proper shield techniques. Who would care to demonstrate with me?"

"Don't do it, Harry," Hermione whispered.

Harry ignored her as he raised his hand, looking defiantly at Snape. Hermione buried her face in her hands.

"Potter," Snape said smoothly. "Let's hope your bludgeoning spells are better than your shield spells."

Harry said nothing as he left his seat and walked over to the dueling area. He could feel all the eyes on him again, but he just didn't care this time.

"Feel free to use any bludgeoning spell you wish, Potter. You do remember the proper spells, don't you?"

The Slytherins laughed loudly. Harry felt a cold anger rising in him. Any bludgeoning spell I wish, huh? he thought. There was a very advanced spell he had been practicing. It wasn't as accurate, but it was very powerful and difficult to block. The spell curved through the air, fooling the recipient into thinking it was going to miss, but then curved back in.

Snape had a slight smirk on his face as Harry assumed a formal dueling position in front of him. All of his concentration was focused on Snape... the room seemed to fall away as all he saw was his enemy who needed to be defeated...

"Battuere Arcus!" Harry snapped. The spell appeared to burst from his wand in slow motion as he saw it arch away from Snape and then suddenly curve back in. Snape's eyes were wide as he attempted to block the spell, but it slipped by his shield and slammed into his shoulder. Snape spun in the air as he flew ten feet backward and landed on his back with a dull thud.

There was a horrified silence in the room as everyone looked between Harry and Snape, wondering what would happen next.

Don't say anything. Don't say it. Don't say it. "Professor, do you need the hospital wing?" Harry asked innocently. I shouldn't have said it. He could see Hermione out of the corner of his eye running her hands through her hair in exasperation.

Snape looked at Harry with an expression of purest loathing and appeared that he was desperately trying to maintain control over himself. He got up and brushed off his robe. "I am - uninjured, Potter. Please take your seat."

Harry walked back to his seat. Ron was looking smug, while Hermione was looking fearful. He noticed Parvati was sitting behind him again, giving him a big smile. He also saw that Draco looked furious, which only made the whole incident sweeter.

He sat down, trying desperately to keep a neutral expression on his face as Snape walked back to the front of the class.

"Well, this demonstrates that as important as shield spells are, one must be prepared for even the occasional lucky hit," he said. "Still, I cannot deny that Potter's spell was effective. One point to Gryffindor," said Snape.

"Lucky?" Ron said with outrage, below his breath.

"Let it go, Ron," Hermione said warningly, in a low voice.

They spent the rest of the class practicing bludgeoning and shield spells, but Harry noticed that Snape's shoulder looked odd, and that he would grimace whenever he thought no one was looking. Harry felt a cold satisfaction and had to admit that it felt very, very good to pay back a bit of the abuse he had suffered over the years.

* * *

"Broken clavicle! That's what Justin Finch-Fletchley overheard when he was in the Hospital Wing getting his finger reattached," said Ron with a smirk.

"What happened to Justin's finger?" asked Hermione curiously.

"Something about a severing charm that got away from him," Ron said, shrugging his shoulders.

They were sitting in the Great Hall, having their lunch after completion of the morning classes. Harry was in high spirits so far that day, feeling like he'd finally scored a point off Snape for once. Part of him knew that it was still early in the year, and that he shouldn't get too overconfident, but he wanted to enjoy the feeling while he could.

"Er, where's the clavicle?" asked Harry.

"Dunno, but it sounds painful," said Ron.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "The clavicle is the bone in your shoulder; the collarbone," she said loftily, gesturing to her own shoulder.

"Look, Harry, this'll be it, right?" said Hermione, switching subjects nervously. "I mean, everything is even now."

Harry's expression grew angry. "It depends on Snape. I'm not going to back down to him."

"Don't you think this has a bit of potential to, er, get out of control?" said Hermione, biting her lip.

Harry stabbed at his lunch. "Hermione, you don't understand! I'm sick of Snape and his taking out his hatred of my father on me. I'm not going to put up with his rubbish any longer!"

Hermione looked unhappy as she looked for support from Ron, who in turn looked away from her. She sighed.

"All right, Harry," she said, looking like it wasn't all right at all. Harry had a feeling that the subject wasn't closed as far as she was concerned, and he would hear more later.

They finished the rest of their lunch in silence. As they were cleaning up their places, a small first year student walked up nervously.

"Er, Mr. Potter? Professor McGonagall wanted me to give you and Mr. Weasley this note," he said, seeming to try and keep a safe distance away from Harry.

"Thanks," Harry said, as he took the note. The student scurried away, looking fearful. Harry sighed, wondering if people would ever see him as a normal person.

Harry read the note. "McGonagall wants to see us in her office," he said, feeling anxious.

"McGonagall? I haven't done anything. Did you do anything?" Ron said, looking like he was searching his memory for any recent rule breaking.

"No..." Harry said slowly. "Well, we'd best get it over with. We'll see you later, Hermione."

"All right. It's probably nothing," Hermione said, appearing worried but trying to give them an encouraging look. "Let me know what happens."

"Yeah, probably nothing," Ron said, trying to convince himself.

Harry and Ron headed out of the Great Hall toward Gryffindor Tower where McGonagall's office was located. They came up to the door, and Harry knocked softly, glancing at Ron.

"Come in," said McGonagall briskly.

Harry pushed the door open and peeked inside.

"Potter, Weasley. Come in, please," said McGonagall, gesturing toward some chairs in her office.

Harry and Ron took a seat in front of the large desk. Harry looked over to Ron, who seemed to wear the same nervous expression that Harry was feeling.

"For goodness sakes, boys, no reason to be so jumpy," said McGonagall, looking over her half-moon glasses. "Unless there is something I should know about?"

"No!" said Harry and Ron together.

"Good," she said, with the barest hint of a smile.

Her face took on a businesslike look as she continued. "Right then. There is the matter of the open Quidditch captaincy. I called both of you here, because Katie Bell turned down the position. You both are the next logical choices as the oldest players, and I wanted you both to understand the reasoning," she said.

Harry looked at Ron, who had an unreadable expression on his face. For Harry's part, he hadn't really thought about being Quidditch captain before. Did he really want it? Part of him was excited by the prospect, but another part really didn't want to. As Dumbledore said last year, he really had "enough responsibility to be going on with."

He also knew that it would mean much more to Ron than it meant to him. And wasn't Ron really the logical choice anyway? He knew more about Quidditch than Harry would ever know. Not to mention that as Keeper he was in a much better position to see the field and strategize effectively.

He had a feeling that McGonagall was about to hand him the captaincy, so he decided to head her off.

"Um, Professor McGonagall, I really think that Ron should be captain," Harry said.

Ron looked over at him in shock.

"Really, Potter?" said McGonagall, raising her eyebrows.

"Yes. Ron knows everything about Quidditch. He would make a great captain," Harry said.

"Well, I'm happy to hear you say that, Potter, since I've already decided to make Mr. Weasley captain, assuming he wants the job," said McGonagall.

"I do!" said Ron, eyes wide. He looked like he couldn't quite believe the whole conversation was taking place.

"I want you to know that I strongly considered you as captain, Potter, but I dislike Seekers as captain. And frankly, despite his short time on the team, I liked what I saw at the end of last year," she said. "You showed a lot of guts, Weasley. Are you ready to keep the Cup in Gryffindor?"

"I am, Professor," Ron said, his chest puffing out so far Harry thought it might burst open.

"All right, boys, dismissed," she said, looking back down to her paperwork.

Harry and Ron left her office and began walking down the corridor.

"Erm, Harry, did you mean what you said? About not wanting the job?" Ron said. "I mean, you've been on the team since your first year. You deserved to be captain."

"Nah, you know that Seekers don't make good captains. And you've been living and breathing Quidditch your whole life. McGonagall made the right choice; I shouldn't get it just because I've been on the team the longest. Congratulations, mate," said Harry sincerely.

"Thanks! Let's go find Hermione and Ginny and tell them!"

Harry was a bit surprised by just how sincere he was. It was one thing to think it in McGonagall's office, but the reality was another thing, and he really was happy for Ron.

They came to the Gryffindor portrait hole, giving the password, and entered the common room. They saw Hermione and Ginny talking at a table, and Ron ran up excitedly.

"Hermione! Ginny! McGonagall made me captain of the team!" Ron said proudly.

"Oh Ron, I'm so happy for you!" Hermione got up and hugged him excitedly.

"Oh fine, make you captain, what about me?" Ginny said sulkily, then grinned at him. "Congratulations, Ron."

"I can't wait for Quidditch season," Ron said, rubbing his hands together. "Our Beaters are a bit suspect, but they started showing a lot of improvement toward the end of last year. We'll have Ginny as a Chaser, so we'll need to pick up one more at the tryouts. Well, Ginny will need to try out, too. Can't show favoritism, right? But how can she miss with that new broom?"

"Erm, Harry, come to think of it," Ron continued a bit awkwardly, "you're not really on the team. I'll probably need for you to try out, too."

Harry smiled. "No worries, captain."

"I like the sound of that," Ron said, smiling back.

* * *

Harry looked around the Room of Requirement, looking again like the perfect place for his D.A. meetings. Hermione looked with approval at the shelf of books, while Ron was inspecting a set of 'magic knuckles'; a set of four rings locked together that caused a person punched with them to be stunned.

They had arrived a half-hour beforehand, which Tonks had suggested for the first meeting so they could talk a bit about the D.A.

The door opened, and Tonks walked in, wearing what looked like some tight-fitting Auror training gear. Her hair was shortened to a very practical cut.

"All right, Harry?" she said brightly.

"Hi Tonks!" said Harry, as Ron and Hermione called out a greeting as well. "Thanks for being our advisor."

"No problem. It'll be fun! I'm looking forward to it. I can't guarantee that I'll always be available with my Auror duties, but I'll try and give you some notice when I can," she said. "If I can't make it, I'll find someone to come in my place. Trust me, there won't be any lack of volunteers."

"I understand. It'll be great to have you here to give us some experienced advice," said Harry.

"Let me just say going in that it's your show, Harry," said Tonks. "You let me know what you want me to do, and where I can be helpful."

"All right," Harry said. "By the way, that Auror training manual was really helpful in coming up with lesson plans."

"Good. That's one of the things I was thinking when I gave it to you. A lot of thought went into that manual, so I figured it would be helpful."

Tonks looked around the room. "Wow! This place is great. It's perfect for this purpose. I didn't even know Hogwarts had a training room like this."

"Well, it doesn't, really. It called the 'Room of Requirement'. It changes depending on your needs. A house-elf showed it to me when we needed a secret spot last year. It worked so well that we decided to keep it as our meeting room."

Tonks looked impressed. "I wish I had known about this room when I was at Hogwarts. I can think of a lot of uses," she said, giving Harry a little sly wink and causing Harry to blush a little.

They spent the rest of the time discussing Harry's goals for the year. Students began trickling in as they got closer to the appointed hour.

"There's a lot more people than last year," Harry said to Hermione, a bit nervous.

Hermione beamed at him. "Yes, I thought it might be quite popular now that it's out in the open."

Harry turned to Tonks. "I'm really glad you're here, now. It would have been hard to manage everyone all by myself."

"Um, Harry?" said a familiar voice behind him.

Harry turned around and was surprised to see Cho.

"Oh, uh, hi, Cho," Harry said awkwardly.

"Hi, Harry," she said shyly. "Er, did you enjoy your summer?"

"It was all right. And you?" Harry said. The small talk felt bizarre to him after everything that happened the previous year.

"It was nice," she said, looking as awkward as Harry felt.

There was a long pause, and then she suddenly blurted out, "I'm so sorry about what happened last year. Sorry about - everything."

Harry nodded, not sure what to say.

"I'd really like to be here, you know, if it's all right with you," she said, her eyes cast downward.

"Sure, I mean, I hope you don't think you need to avoid me or anything," Harry said.

She smiled for the first time. "I'm really happy to hear you say that, Harry," she said. She dropped her voice a bit and looked him in the eye. "You know - I'm feeling a lot better these days about Cedric."

"Uh, that's good," Harry said, wondering why she was bringing up Cedric.

"Well, maybe I'll see you around school?" she said.

"Sure, all right," Harry said. She gave a small wave as she walked back to her friends.

Although Harry couldn't find any feelings left for her, he couldn't help but notice that she had a nice smile. He wished he had seen it more often last year, rather than so many tears. He hadn't thought much about Cho over the summer, but it felt good to talk to her and get some of the lingering awkwardness out of the way.

As Harry waited for the start of the meeting, he noticed anxiously that the room was filling up rapidly. Harry looked over the crowd, estimating that there had to be over eighty students in the room. He didn't think that all were going to fit, but somehow they all found places comfortably.

"Hi, Harry," said Ginny brightly, having just come in with some other fifth year students.

"Er, hi, Ginny," Harry said weakly.

Ginny looked carefully at him, and then leaned over and spoke low so that no one could hear. "Feeling a bit nervous?" she said, smiling.

"Erm, well, yeah, a little bit," Harry said, actually feeling very nervous.

"It's just like last year, only with a few more students. At least we don't have to worry about the Inquisitorial Squad breaking down the door," Ginny said, grinning.

Harry laughed. The whole concept sounded ridiculous now that Dumbledore was back in firm control. "True, although I'd like to see you hit Malfoy with the Bat Bogey hex for myself. And I suppose we don't have to worry about getting terminal pimples that spell out rude words on our faces if we talk about the D.A."

Ginny laughed as well as Harry started to feel a bit more relaxed. Laughing seemed to ease some of his tension.

Finally the flood through the door slowed down. Harry walked to the front of the room, and the crowd grew quiet.

"Hello, everyone," Harry said. "I see we have quite a few new students here, so welcome to them, as well as people from last year.

"The purpose of the group is to practice defense. Just so you know, I don't pretend to know everything about defense, but I think together we can learn a lot. And this year we have a real advisor who is an Auror in the Ministry. Her name is Tonks." Harry gestured at Tonks, who waved to the crowd.

"Any questions?" Harry asked.

"I have a question," said Zacharias Smith.

Oh no, not him, Harry thought annoyed, but managed to keep his expression neutral.

"Yes?" Harry responded.

"Just what happened at the Ministry? We all read what was in The Prophet, but what's the real story?" Zacharias said, somewhat accusingly.

"Why don't you shut it?" Ron said, looking like he wanted to pound him.

"It's all right, Ron," Harry said quietly. It occurred to him that many people probably wanted more information about the Ministry battle, feeling fearful about Voldemort's return. He considered exactly what he should say.

"As many of you know, there was an - incident - at the Ministry. As Dumbledore said, Sirius Black was killed during the battle," Harry said. The room was dead silent.

"What you probably don't know is that Sirius Black was my Godfather. Voldemort used him to lure me to the Ministry to try and kill me. I'm going to be honest with you: it was stupid of me to fall for his plan. Sirius came to the Ministry to save me and died during the battle.

"I was lured there because I was careless. There are a lot of reasons it happened that aren't important right now, but the one thing I learned, and that everyone should learn, is to always be on your guard. Take nothing for granted and don't underestimate your enemy. I guess I know that sounds overly simplistic, but it's the truth."

Harry paused, letting his little speech sink in. "Any other questions?"

There was silence in the room.

"Right then. I think for our first meeting, practicing some basic stunning spells would be a good start. Why don't we split into pairs and practice stunning each other. If you have knowledge of shield spells, then try to block it as well," Harry said.

"Colin!" Harry snapped, smiling at him evilly. "Why don't you be my partner, and we can demonstrate for the others a bit?"

Colin looked very nervous as he glanced at his brother Dennis.

"Er, me, Harry? Are you sure?" he said.

"Quite sure, Colin. Come over here," Harry said, walking over and gripping his arm. "I have a couple of special spells, just for you."

"Oh, er, uh," said Colin, now looking outright fearful, but following Harry dutifully.

"Why don't you start, and I'll try and block it," Harry said.

Colin nervously aimed his wand at Harry. "Stupefy!"

Harry easily deflected the spell using a shield spell; barely moving his wand.

"You know, Colin, I saw the Chocolate Frog card with my picture on it," Harry said conversationally. Colin's face fell.

"Stupefy!" Harry snapped, using a wand motion that made the spell much more powerful.

Colin tried to block the spell, but was far too late, and he fell over with a loud thud. Harry cast Ennervate to wake him up, and Colin got back to his feet a bit shakily.

"Good try, Colin. Go again," Harry said.

Colin sent another spell that Harry again easily blocked. Colin looked at Harry fearfully.

"You know, it was funny," Harry continued. "I looked at that picture, and I asked myself, now how did that picture get taken?"

"Stupefy!" Harry shouted. Colin did a bit better at blocking, but still didn't manage to deflect as he fell backward. Harry grimaced a bit at the hard hit. He revived Colin again.

"Bad luck, old man. Another try?" Harry said.

Colin was definitely looking worse for wear. "Uh, Stupefy!" he shouted, his voice quavering. Harry deflected the spell once again as Colin bit his lip, looking around the room as if he was hunting for the best escape.

"Yes sir, a good picture of myself. But how did someone get a picture of me in my Quidditch gear? I didn't remember any odd photographers. Imagine my surprise when I read the caption. Oh, by the by, let me show you this new stunner I've been practicing," Harry said, his smile baring some teeth.

"Ready? Sopor Irrationalis!" Harry shouted, launching a highly powerful spell. It would take Colin days to recover completely.

Colin managed to get his shield spell up, but the powerful stunner ripped through the shield, hitting him almost full force. Colin fell to the floor once again, landing directly on his face. Harry gave the wake up spell, but Colin was still only semi-conscious, so Harry gave the spell again. Finally Colin awoke, looking definitely wobbly on his feet now as he staggered around, unbalanced.

"So, like I was saying, imagine my surprise when I saw your name as the photography credit, Colin," Harry said.

Colin looked up, blinking his eyes as he seemed to only half understand what Harry was saying. He raised his wand, intending to take his turn.

"Uh, Stupefy!" Colin said, almost mumbling.

Harry blocked the spell and ricocheted it straight back to Colin, who dropped again with an especially loud thud. Harry started to feel a bit guilty, but not too much as he remembered again the Chocolate Frog card. He woke him up and decided to take pity as Colin staggered to his feet.

"All right, Colin?" Harry asked sweetly. Colin didn't seem capable of talking rationally any longer.

"Now, we won't have any more unauthorized pictures leaving Hogwarts, will we, Colin?" Harry asked.

"Um, no, no, right then, no pictures," Colin said shakily.

"Why don't you go practice with your brother a bit more; I need to check on everyone's progress," said Harry.

Colin shook and swayed as he walked away in a drunken manner.

Harry carefully avoided looking at Hermione as he could see her giving him a very disapproving look. He then noticed Ginny grinning at him and he gave her a small, secret smile as he began walking about the room reviewing everyone's progress.

Harry found Tonks invaluable as they both helped people practice. There were just too many people for Harry to give individual attention to, and he noticed that she was a patient and encouraging teacher.

As last year, Neville was showing remarkable progress as he noticed him practicing with Luna. The D.A. members from last year seemed to do better than the new members, but Harry felt very gratified with everyone's progress.

Toward the end of the meeting, Tonks walked over to Harry.

"Hey, Harry, how about a little fun here at the end?" she said

"Fun?" Harry asked.

"Sure. How about an Expelliarmus Duel, you and I?" said Tonks.

"What's that?"

"It's pretty simple. We just duel using Expelliarmus as the only offensive spell, but we can use any shield spell we want. It's great for building reflexes," she said.

"All right," Harry said, smiling.

Harry and Tonks faced off from each other. The other students started looking over curiously, and Harry saw them whispering to each other.

"We'll do a few warm-ups, right? Try and disarm me first," she said.

"Expelliarmus!" Harry said.

Tonks easily blocked the spell, moving astoundingly fast. Harry found himself extremely impressed.

"Okay, right back at you. Expelliarmus!" Tonks said.

Harry easily blocked the spell as well.

"Excellent, Harry! Wow, you're fast," Tonks said, causing Harry to blush a bit.

They traded a few more spells, each easily blocking the spell.

"All right, ready to launch at will? We keep going until one is disarmed," she said.

"Okay, ready," Harry said, assuming a dueling stance. Almost the entire room had turned to watch them.

"Expelliarmus!" Tonks shouted, as Harry blocked the spell. Harry launched one back, as they kept shooting them back and forth at each other. Tonks had a huge grin on her face as they traded spells, faster and faster.

Harry launched a spell, and Tonks deflected it straight back at him, causing Harry to throw himself out of the way.

"Ha! Almost got you, Harry," said Tonks.

Tonks launched a spell, and Harry did his own deflective shield, shooting it back at Tonks, who deflected it back at him. Harry was ready for the return shot, and easily deflected it. He started getting into a rhythm as they traded spells, sometimes volleying spells back and forth three or four times before they ran out of power or missed entirely.

Harry could see sweat on Tonks' face, and he was growing very weary as well from the constant concentration it was taking. Finally Tonks hit a well-aimed spell that slipped through his defense, causing his wand to fly out of his hands.

"Augh, damn!" Harry shouted, angry with himself. The students applauded the effort, causing Harry to remember that others were watching. He then blushed a bit at his outburst and grinned sheepishly. "I mean, well done, Tonks."

Tonks laughed. "Well, I'd've probably said about the same if you'd caught me," she said. "Are you sure you've never done this before, Harry? You did amazingly well, and I'm not exaggerating here."

"No, I've never done an exercise like that." said Harry.

"You know, Harry, you should know that Metamorphmagi can change our musculature as well as our appearance. It's a bit unfair against normal people," she said.

"How do you mean?" said Harry.

"Well, there is a special guild we go to train with other Metamorphmagi, to learn to use our abilities to full potential. Of course, there is a lot of study of anatomy. One of the things we learn is how to change our muscles. You see, there are two kinds of muscles in the body - muscles used for strength, called slow-twitch, and muscles used for speed, called fast-twitch. Everyone has a certain proportion of each. I can change the proportion, like I can change my appearance. When I do dueling exercises, I change my muscle proportion for speed," said Tonks.

"I noticed that you seemed really fast," said Harry.

"Of course, muscle isn't everything. You need the reflexes as well, which fortunately I came with naturally. Doesn't help with my clumsiness, of course," she said, rolling her eyes.

"But anyway, Harry," she continued, "almost no one can stay with me in a reflex duel like that. That you could your first time is almost unheard of. You know what? Let me try something."

She walked over and mumbled a long spell. Her wand glowed a white color, and she began waving it over Harry's body. "This is a muscle measuring spell, used for when we're learning to change our muscle proportion."

As she waved it over Harry's body, the wand glowed a bright red, especially on his limbs. Tonks whistled.

"Wow. I've never measured anyone with that high a proportion of fast-twitch muscles. Let me try something else." She mumbled another spell and waved her wand over Harry's head. "This measures someone's reflex neurology. I sometimes do Auror evaluations and this spell is used in the screening process."

The wand again glowed a bright red; Tonks eyes growing wide as she glanced between the wand and Harry. "You know, Harry, this explains why you're such a good Seeker. Your reflexes are much faster than normal, and your body is built to use them. Incidentally, it's also why you're a bit skinny," she said, winking at him. "You're built for speed, not for heavy lifting."

"So what does it all mean?" Harry asked.

"It means you were born to be an Auror, Harry," Tonks said.

* * *

"I'm really pleased with the progress tonight," Harry said to the D.A. students, as he wrapped up the meeting. "Thank you all for coming, and I'll see you next time."

The students began filing out as Tonks walked up.

"That was great, Harry! You're a pretty good teacher," she said.

Harry flushed a bit at the compliment. "Thanks again for coming. It was really helpful," he said.

"See you next time, right?" she said, waving and saying goodbye to everyone as she walked out.

Harry waved goodbye as well as he began to clean up the room.

"Um, Harry, I need to go," Hermione said nervously.

"All right, see you later, then," Harry said vaguely, grabbing some cushions off the floor.

"Go where?" Ron said suspiciously.

Hermione glared at him. "I'm going to go study!"

"Hmph. Study with the Runt, sounds like to me," said Ron.

Hermione said nothing, as she held her head up walking out.

"I'm going to go study, too!" he called after her. "My Transfiguration essay is already done, I'll have you know!"

Ron looked grumpy. "What does she see in that little twerp? Well, see you later, mate. I want to get that Potions assignment done."

"All right. I'll catch up with you in a bit," Harry said curiously, watching him walk out. Ron had been studying quite a bit lately, without Hermione even needing to nag him.

As he continued to clean up the room, more students filed out of the room until he noticed that only Parvati and Ginny were left. Ginny had been helping him clean up, but he saw her give Parvati a look of disgust and then stalked out of the room.

Ginny seemed a bit upset about something, he thought. He was about to chase after her and see what was wrong when Parvati walked up. They were alone in the room now.

"You know, Harry, you did really well tonight," Parvati said, smiling at him. "You're such a good teacher."

"Um, thanks," Harry said, fidgeting.

She took a step closer. "It was very... impressive... watching you dueling with Tonks, even though she got the better at the end."

"Well, can't win them all, right?" he said, looking anywhere but directly at her. She was wearing some sort of perfume that smelled very nice.

"You'll win next time, I'm sure of it," she said, in a slow voice.

"Maybe," he said, his knees shaking a bit.

"You know, I was having a little trouble with my wand motion, toward the end," she said, smiling coyly.

"Er, trouble? It looked like you were doing fine," Harry said, wondering what she was talking about. Her work had looked perfect to his eye.

"Sometimes I think my - flicks - are a bit too swishy," she said. "Would you show me again how it's done?"

"Um, all right." Harry pulled out his wand and demonstrated the proper movement. "Like that."

"Your - wand movement - is always so strong and confident, Harry," she said.

Harry felt a considerable amount of heat moving up his neck, and his voice appeared to have stopped working.

"I'm not sure I quite have it. Would you hold my arm and show me?" she said, holding out her arm. Her dark eyes seemed to grow larger in the dim light of the room. Dim light? a small part of him thought. When did that happen? What is the Room of Requirement doing?

"Um," he said, his hand shaking a bit as he lightly took her wrist. She turned around so that he was behind her. He took a deep breath of her perfume despite himself.

Harry moved her wand hand in the proper motion. "Er, you see, you move the wand like this."

She leaned her head back a bit so that it was touching his chest; he could feel her hair tickling his neck. "I think I see, now," she said. "Maybe just show me a few more times. Also, where should my other arm be? Maybe you could show me where it should go?"

He reached around with his other hand, and took her other arm, now almost embracing her from behind. "Well, uh, your other arm you normally keep at your hip for good balance," he said.

Parvati's body felt very warm next to his as the light in the room seemed to grow even dimmer. He distractedly noticed that a large, very comfortable-looking couch had appeared in the corner, and some quiet, slow music had begun playing.

"That's - wonderful, Harry," she said, almost whispering.

She slowly turned in his arms until she was facing him; her hands lightly touching his chest. He looked down into her dark eyes, the pupils very large. She looked very, very pretty as her lips parted slightly. He could feel her warm breath, which smelled pleasantly of mint. Her head tilted a bit as Harry began to lean down...

Harry suddenly stopped, his lips inches from hers. Good God, what am I doing? he thought, panic rising in him.

He swallowed and backed away from her. She blinked and looked at him with a confused expression.

"Erm, I think you have it down, now. Uh, I really have some studying I need to do, so I better go."

"Oh! All right, Harry," she said.

He grabbed his bag and walked to the door, trying not to break out in a run. As he walked through the door and when she could no longer see him, he breathed a sigh of relief. He ran his fingers through his hair, breathing heavily, as he walked quickly down the corridor trying to get a grip on himself.

Wow, that was a close call, he thought. I can't believe I almost kissed Parvati. A huge conflict arose in his troubled mind. Part of him wanted to go back, but another part saw nothing but trouble.

She looked awfully pretty back there, a little voice said in his head. A little kissing never hurt anyone...

She fancies me! he thought. Wouldn't it be unfair to kiss her if I don't feel the same? As tempted as he was to kiss her, he felt like it wouldn't be quite right to lead her on.

Feeling extremely confused, he finally came to the portrait hole and gave the password, allowing him entrance to the common room. He stumbled into a chair next to Ron, who was busily working on his homework.

Ron looked up. "Took you long enough. Where've you been?"

Harry debated with himself about sharing his dilemma with Ron. He finally looked around the room and saw that no one could overhear.

"Parvati tried to kiss me after the meeting," he said quietly.

"Parvati?" Ron said, his face showing confusion. "She fancies you?"

"I dunno; I guess so. Nothing happened, but it was close," Harry said. "Way too close."

Ron smirked. "You sure seem to have a way with the ladies after meetings."

Harry looked at him sourly. "All right, all right. Look, just don't leave me alone in there after meetings, all right? It's too... er... risky."

Just then, the portrait hole opened up and Parvati walked in. She gave Harry a very warm smile as she walked up the stairs toward her dorm.

Ron blinked as he watched her walk up the stairs. "Er, yeah. I see what you mean," he said.

"What do I do?" Harry said, putting his hands to the side of his head.

"Avoid her, mate. She's looking mighty dangerous these days. She seems to have, er, filled out quite a bit this summer," Ron said, with a grin.

"I mean, she's nice and all..." said Harry. "But..."

"Say no more," said Ron, holding up his hand. "I understand. Besides, there are... other... girls around, right?" Ron said, giving him a shrewd look.

Harry's eyes narrowed. "What'd'ya mean?"

"Nothing. Say, have you done the Potions essay yet? You want to work on it?" Ron said quickly.

Harry looked at him for several seconds. "All right, let me run upstairs and get some parchment," Harry said, as he got up. He shot a suspicious look back at Ron as he headed up into the Tower.

Author notes: Thanks once again to my beta readers Allie Kiwi and DM. Please review!

New chapter notifications and sometimes even a little discussion are at my Yahoo group at, or just send an e-mail to [email protected].