During the train ride before third year Harry has a close encounter with a dementor that causes him to absorb the soul fragment within him, granting both knowledge and power. Features Harry with a ...
I I I
"Why do we call it yesterday, anyway?" Hermione spoke, trying to change the subject after wiping away her tears. The two others had tried to console her, but hadn't interrupted her cry, either. "Really, it's the same day as today, it's just we had regular classes then and Muggle Studies today. Tomorrow will be Arithmancy, but they're all the same day. So, really, we ought to call this Muggle Studies Day, to keep it distinct from Arithmancy Day, and Regular Classes Day."
Then she looked at Luna and gave a horrified gasp over what stress had made her reveal.
Luna smiled softly in reply, dragging the older girl to her feet. "Don't worry about it. I knew you were time traveling all along by the wrackspurt infection. They get most dreadful around those who are temporally displaced."
Harry coughed into his fist. "And... I sort of have been sharing my Time Turner with Luna, so she could get some extra study done."
Hermione paused and stared at them for a moment, before giving up and rolling her eyes. "Well, it is against the rules, but why should I care?If only the man who GAVE the rules followed them... but he doesn't, so why should I?"
"That's the spirit!" Harry gave her a spontaneous hug.
Hermione gave her loyalty fully. She was either for something, or against it (or didn't care one way or the other, but that was only the case on issues she felt didn't concern her) and whichever way she committed herself fully.
Just minutes ago she had been totally committed for Dumbledore. Now she was against him, Harry could read it in her thoughts. It had taken a great force of persuasion to change her mind, but that was the way she was.
That worked in his favor now that she was on his side.
Luna, however, didn't have his ability to passively read minds, so the blonde Ravenclaw had to check another way. "So," she probed delicately."Do you believe us? The quality of our instructors is his responsibility, and he's had the job too long to blame anything on his predecessor. Snape alone..."
"It's true!" Hermione interrupted, bursting into tears once more and shaking her head over the situation. "Insulting students in any way, shape, or form (such as referring to them as dunderheads) is enough to get a teacher fired by a school board and put a mark on their record! Calling a student'stupid' got my third grade teacher fired! That's enough all alone. But Snape is so much worse..." she drew in a ragged breath, "Before you even count all the not-teaching, man-handling, yelling, and assigning dangerous projects to first time students; things that explode over the slightest mistake and then not warning us about that possibility until after it happens!In the muggle world, Snape's behavior would have gotten him arrested... and Dumbledore as well, for allowing it to happen!"
"And that's just his teaching style. We've not even dipped into his little side projects and extracurricular activities, like belonging to a club of murderers. If he'd had any remorse over that he would NOT have been tacitly advocating that philosophy over all those years he's been at Hogwarts!" Harry insisted.
"And this goes SO far beyond Snape!" Hermione wailed, tears flowing."I think in your grand tally of Good vs Bad teachers you missed some of the worst of the lot! All the defense against the dark arts teachers, who not only include bad teachers, but those who've actively tried to kill Harry or other students! We start that count with a Voldemort possessed teacher, then a complete fraud ... and all this under the impression that the great Dumbledore has a phoenix to help him detect evil!"
"Not to mention his skill at legilimency," Harry added.
Hermione looked up, pausing in her tears for confusion, while Luna looked as though she'd been pricked by a pin. "Legilimency? What's that?" the love of his life inquired, while Luna looked on.
"The art of reading minds. If you're good enough, it can be done without any spoken incantation or wand movements at all - And Dumbledore is among the best of this century. He routinely uses it on staff and students. It would be impossible for him not to have known Quirrel was possessed or Lockhart was a fraud... or all of the stuff Snape does to students."
Hermione now looked downright angry.
'Yep,' Harry reflected. Dumbledore had lost what had to have been one of his most loyal and devoted followers - because Hermione's whole character was built around loyalty and devotion.
Well, knowledge and learning, too. She was nice like that.
"Need I mention that it is extremely illegal to use legilimency without the subject's knowledge and consent? Or that it is illegal to use on minors in any case?" Harry asked brightly.
Hermione now looked furious.
"We'll have to protect ourselves," Luna observed soberly.
"Yes, for now don't make eye contact with either Dumbledore or Snape- they both do it as a matter of routine." Harry shrugged. "I've got the books for Occlumency, the defense against legilimency, back in my room."
"Well, what are we waiting for?" Hermione grabbed both their hands and started back towards the castle.
Harry dug in his heels, bringing her to a stop. "Wait! There is a reason we are out here, and I'd prefer to get that done first. There's a clearing just ahead that I need to use, and I was hoping you'd use with me."
"What is it for?"
"The Clearing of Solstices and Equinoxes?" Luna asked, then informed her friend. "It's an Old Magic circle, dating back from before Hogwarts, but it's not anything tremendously special. It's only property is a simple one - every day or night there is, mystically or astrologically speaking, the same as the last solstice or equinox to pass. All it does is make timing less inconvenient for certain rituals. So," she turned back to face Harry,"the question becomes, what ritual are you hoping to accomplish there?"
"One requiring heat, and the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, so, mystically and astrologically speaking, a symbol of fire," he answered.
"So you would want to get there before the fall equinox, which is coming up, as the circle resets to the most recently passed solstice or equinox, and the end of September is fast approaching," the blonde reasoned.
"Which wouldn't do at all. Fall is the harvest, so a symbol for earth, not the sort of mystical connection I'm looking for," he agreed.
"Wait," Hermione objected. "They haven't covered this in Astronomy class, nor is it in any of my books. What are these elemental connections you're talking about?"
"They only come up in very old styles of magic," Harry reassured. "Nature based styles, for the most part. The Hermetic tradition taught at Hogwarts, which does not use it, naturally leaves that information out."
"But you know?" Hermione eyed Luna askance.
The girl smiled. "Most fairy lore comes to us out of the Celtic traditions. As Lovegoods are magical creatures experts, naturally I am more familiar."
"And... what's the difference between that and the Hermetic? That's not covered in our course material, either," Hermione explained.
All eyes went to him, and Harry shrugged. "Blame Magical History class, that is where this material is supposed to be covered. This is actually important to know, but instead even the texts he's chosen only cover the various goblin rebellions. In brief, the Hermetic Tradition is based on Natural Philosophy, which later grew up into science, and it still bears a very scientific approach you'd be able to recognize if the present practitioners weren't all idiots."
"It's named for the Greek God Hermes, who was later renamed Mercury by the victorious Romans when they stole that pantheon." Luna supplied."He was the messenger god, patron of thieves... and magicians."
"So, in short, Greco-Roman magic. It became the norm in Europe because, well, Romans had conquered all of the continent, and societies with different traditions largely died out or got subsumed." Harry added. "Everything the common muggle is likely to associate with a generic wizard is Hermetic: the books and tomes, candles and skulls, chalk circles and demon summonings."
Both of his audience paled at the mention of demon summonings.
"Some elements of other traditions did survive," he continued. "There was crossover and bleed through because the Romans never did pass up achance to steal a good idea when they saw one. But the parent philosophies are long gone, and the emphasis isn't there in the Roman stuff, who preferred magic out of their own roots on which they had a stronger basic understanding. Ancient Runes is actually one of those 'borrowed branches' so to speak. But where the Norse viewed Runes as their primary style of magic, and could accomplish great things with it, to us it is merely a sideline; one not too well understood, at that. Only a glimmer of the original potential peeks through. Although the use of wands is something we inherit from the Egyptians, who passed that on to the Greeks, then to the Romans, then to us."
Hermione was impressed in spite of herself at her friend's knowledge."So this is the sort of thing that is supposed to be covered in History of Magic?"
"Oh, absolutely!" he quipped back. "I've got some wonderful books I'd like to share with you on that subject, as well as others. But more of our classes than not are absolutely useless! For example, our Astronomy course skips over all of the reasons WHY you'd want to know that subject!And yet it is a core class! If it wasn't something absolutely vital, why do they make every student take it for at least five years? If it was something optional, why isn't it just an elective? But if it is vital, why is it that nobody knows any magic that uses what they learn there? Even I only know of stuff OUTSIDE of our current magical tradition, and that's after extensive study!"
Hermione paled again at that thought.
Harry inhaled to sigh deeply. "People who don't know WHY they need to know something are generally very unlikely to put any real effort into learning it. So most of us graduate without any idea what makes that course so special or important - and so to most of us it feels neither special nor important. So, in the end, most people don't ever really end up learning it."
"Nor is that the only course that completely fails to do what it sets out for," Luna added. "Why is it 'the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world' has such terrible brooms for the students to learn on? A good, solid (and slow) broomstick, like the Comet 260, would be much better. With the hideous fees the school charges, they should be able to replace the brooms on a regular basis (or at the very least, on a rotating basis). Why don't they? There is money they get for the purpose of doing it, achunk of the tuition we all pay is earmarked for that. But no new brooms have been bought since Dumbledore became Headmaster. Anything new they get as donations. So where is all of the money going that ought to be spent on new brooms?"
"For that matter, most of the 'clubs and services' portion of our tuition bill has been dropped or had their funding cut to nothing, while retaining the full costs to students, as if we still had a dozen sports clubs, and equally funded subjects clubs. Charms and Transfiguration clubs once had budgets as large as Quidditch does now, and Quidditch used to have a dozen games a year. They still charge us as if they do. So where has all the money gone?" Harry asked. "The Potions club doesn't even accept non-Slytherin members."
Hermione was fuming. "When you put someone in charge of something, and everything goes to ruins, who is to blame?" she mumbled, shaking her head. Then she clenched her fists, "OOOOHH!! It makes me so ANGRY! Dumbledore ought to be SHOT for doing this to our educations! My parents are paying ruinous fees for this! I ought to at least be able to count on getting the good education this was billed as! Cheltenham Ladies College doesn't charge this much, and that was where I was going before my Hogwarts letter arrived!"
There was fire in her eyes, and they walked on a few minutes in invisible silence. Then the maiden visibly calmed herself, and went back to an earlier subject. "So, what are the symbols, and where can I read about this Celtic tradition you're talking about?" the bookworm grinned.
"The Celts had, unfortunately for anyone alive now, a largely verbal lore that did not survive their passing," Harry remarked. "Researching it can be a pain - but then, we don't know as much about Greece or Rome as most people tend to think we do, either. Our best bet would be to talk to a ghost. But good luck finding one that old."
"But the seasonal symbols?" Hermione reminded.
"Well, we've told you Earth and Fire. Winter should be obvious as the coldest and wettest..."
"Water," Hermione concluded, then puzzled. "But that would leave Air for Spring, and I've never heard a connection..."
"You've never heard the expression 'that lovely Spring Air'?"
"Alright, I guess I have heard of a connection between spring and air,"the bushy haired one backpedaled.
"It's also the season of flowers, when pollens and other scents are in the air. Scents are borne on winds. But you're right, the connection is not a strong one to the modern way of thinking," Luna demurely supplied, then smiled. "But that doesn't mean it isn't there, or wasn't obvious to our ancestors."
By now the party had arrived in the clearing, and the brunette's reaction was obvious. "It's Stonehenge!"
"Not quite, but similar. There are actually dozens of circles of stones built along those lines, it's just that most of them are inherently unplottable, so unknown to muggles." Harry agreed. "Stonehenge is known because it's broken. So it became a tourist trap instead of a power tap."
Luna walked up to a standing stone, put her arm on it, then turned back to beam at the group. "You have to admit, there is a certain appeal to magic objects you can carry with you, like wands, rather than travel cross country to visit, like large stone rings."
"Convenience trumps quality," Harry agreed. "It always has, and always will."
With that simple statement he crossed a part of the clearing to behind some bushes. Coming around to see what he was up to, the girls saw one of those large tortoises, the really large kind rather than the petshop'hold it in your palm' variety. This turtle was one of those big enough to ride, probably larger in mass than all three children gathered there around it.
Then they realized that it wasn't a turtle.
"Actually, it's a Fire Crab," Harry answered for them, seeing that the jewel-like shell had tipped them off. "They're native to the oceans around Fiji, and have to be protected not only against muggles, but against wizards who are tempted by their valuable shells, which make highly prized cauldrons- prized for very good reasons, I might add."
"I've read Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them," Hermione interjected primly, sucking in her bottom lip as she stared at the massive creature."So I know about them, and that a few each year are exported as pets. But how did you get the special license needed?"
Luna gave both of her companions a curious look. "They only export newly hatched ones. This one has got to be at least four hundred years old, by the size of it. Harry? Would you care to explain?"
The boy mentioned simply shrugged. "I have a contact within the Department for the Disposal of Dangerous Magical Creatures. Fire Crabs this big qualify, as even the littlest ones can shoot flame, and this one is so massive it could probably destroy a house in one blast. Anyway, it got discovered during a raid about a month ago and the wizard who owned it did not have a license for it. So, rather than see it chopped up and disposed of, which was what our ever-idiotic Ministry had eventually decided to do, I had him route it to me instead. And, yes, it came with an appropriate license for me to keep it."
Luna lofted an eyebrow at him curiously. "Considering that whoever wanted it chopped up almost certainly wanted its shell for a cauldron, that must be some contact."
"Quite," Harry agreed.
"Would you care to elaborate?" she asked, as Hermione looked on, curious.
Harry shrugged. "An ex-Death Eater who somehow escaped charges. I had evidence of his crimes. A simple case of blackmail, really."
Hermione's eyes shot wide. Seeing their gazes on her, Hermione shook her head. "No, I'm not actually surprised at the blackmail part. I think you did the right thing to bring this creature here alive, rather than see it destroyed. It's that Death Eaters are allowed to work at the Ministry that has me shocked."
Then she huffed a sigh, letting her hands fall to her sides. "Since Dumbledore is in charge there, as well as here at school, I shouldn't be surprised at that, should I?"
"No," Harry shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid that's the norm for him. He employs 'former' Death Eaters as a matter of routine. Don't ask me why. Say, on another subject, how would you like me to show you how to feed and clean a fire crab without getting burned?"
"Are you sure it's safe?" Luna cast doubtful eyes at Hermione, who stiffened in response.
"Not normally, no," Harry agreed. "However, I just happen to have agenius who follows instructions perfectly, and a budding magical creatures expert here with me; while I, myself, am already familiar with the procedure."
He waited a moment, and smiled at them still hesitating. "Plus, I've got some fire protection potions, and burn healing paste, should we need it." He held out two bottles to the girls.
Accepting one while Luna took hers, Hermione popped off the cap and asked, "Harry, why are you carrying this? How could you know we would come with you today? I almost didn't, you know. I left behind some fascinating reading."
The boy shrugged, taking his own. "You know those traps we encountered on the third floor in our first year? They convinced me that it might be a wise idea to start carrying some extra potions about, and I've been brewing since early summer."
"Oh?" Luna blinked. "What do you carry?"
Once again Harry shrugged, handing around tools to the girls. "I have four general categories: medical potions, enhancement potions, utility potions and weapon-like potions."
"Some examples?" Luna inquired softly.
The boy grinned at her. "Well," he drawled slyly. "I'm not done mixing them all yet, but for medicine I intend to carry various antidotes, blood replenishing potions, boil curing potions, bruise healing paste, burn healing paste, calming draughts, cough potions, drought of peace, invigoration draught, oblivious unction, pain reliving potions, pepperup potion, various remedies, skele-grow and wound cleaning potions."
Hermione choked on her fire-protection potion. Coughing a bit, she sputtered,"But Harry, WHY?! You sound like you want to carry everything Madam Pomfrey stocks in the Hospital Wing!"
"Exactly," he told her calmly, eyes steady. "And why does she stock them? To deal with any emergency," he answered his own question. "So why would I feel like there might be emergencies when Hogwarts has always been so safe and secure for us?"
Hermione blushed at the inanity of her own question as the girls giggled at his sarcasm, then followed his lead and went to work, feeding and cleaning his giant magical pet.
"You mentioned weapon-like potions?" Luna inquired calmly as they worked.
He nodded, then explained, "When we were mixing a swelling solution last year I threw a firecracker into Goyle's cauldron to create a diversion. Where the solution splashed people's arms, noses, eyes, etc. were enlarged grotesquely. Goyle's eyes got to be the size of dinner plates before Snape gave him the antidote. But how many people, aside from myself that is, carry deflating draught as a matter of routine? Even Snape only has his in a supply cabinet in his classroom, and then only when he thinks he might use it. So it struck me that the next time I'm attacked, if I were to splash this over my enemies, it ought to really make it easy to get away from danger."
Both girls glowed at his wisdom and forethought.
"That's an excellent idea, Harry!" Hermione congratulated him, leaning down to help him maneuver the beast's water and food dish in front of it."And it gets me to thinking. There have been countless potions accidents like that one just in our last two years. Why think! The very first potion we brewed, one for curing boils, exploded and burned holes through shoes and clothes, while giving poor Neville, who got hit with some, angry red painful boils. That's also something that I'm sure would make a decent weapon."
"Exactly," he nodded, glad she had seen the point (although he had already mixed some of the one she was recommending, having seen the usefulness himself). "Spells cause damage that can easily be cured by other spells. But most potions cause damage that can only be cured by proper medical potions - and who do you know that carries any?"
"You," both girls chorused, then broke out into giggles.
"Yes, and mixing them has kept me busy for weeks and weeks," he admitted.
Luna stopped what she was doing, then calmly asked, "Harry, half of those potions you mentioned as cures are OWL level work, and most others are NEWT level. Only a handful are at third year or below."
Her response earned a casual shrug. "My mother was a potions prodigy and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. Most of these are surprisingly easy once you don't have Snape hovering over your neck. Besides, I was doing all of the cooking for my relatives since I was old enough to reach the counter, and the basic principles are all the same."
"Plus Harry found the most wonderful book!" Hermione broke in excitedly."It's called the Basics of Brewing by Vandergeist, and it explains things so well I KNOW I wouldn't have a problem on most OWL-level work!" she enthused.
"I've also got all of the advanced potions brewing manuals, and a little extra reading," Harry admitted. "It's really not hard to follow the instructions out of a book. That's all we ever do with Snape, anyway."
Smiling at his fellows, he then slapped the top of the fire crab's shell."Okay now! Who wants to help me get this creature's shell off?"
"Harry!" Hermione goggled in sudden outrage. "I thought you got this creature to SAVE its life, not murder it yourself!"
"Calm, Hermione," he soothed. "And I did, and am. But I also need its shell for this project, which is why it's out here waiting for us, rather than back at the Potter Manor menagerie with the rest of the creatures I rescued from the axe of the disposal department."
He waved to the now-slumbering tortoise look alike. "Part of the food we just gave it was a dose of sleeping potion. Another was a numbing draught, so it won't feel a thing. I have blood replenishing potions on hand for if we screw up and injure it, but I also adapted a shaving charm to peel flesh away from the inside of its shell, so we shouldn't hurt it at all during the removal. Then, after we're done, I'm going to give it a good, strong dose of skele-grow so when it wakes up in the morning it will have grown a new shell and hopefully will never know what happened. Now, are you with me?"
His best friend had relaxed considerably during this explanation. "Sorry Harry. I shouldn't have doubted you. I know you better than that."
"Yes, you do," he scolded mildly right before showing them the spell, and they all got to work.
I I I
Didn't go where I'd wanted it to go as quickly as I'd wanted it to get there, but we are getting there eventually.
Enough people complained, when I had Hermione going to Eton, that Idecided to change it. At first I was going with Heathfield, but then Cheltenham Ladies College got mentioned. As I know nothing about either, I went with the latter as it sounds a little more snooty.