The rest of the summer plays out, as Harry plans.
Note: You-Know-Who and her minions own the Potterverse. I just play here.
Harry reluctantly shook off the emotions he had felt with Hermione, emotions neither version of Harry had really admitted to before, and which this new Harry had certainly not expected. He took the Knight’s Bus to Hogsmeade. He quickly made his way to the fringes of the forest, making certain he was not observed.
There, Harry called, “Dobby!”
The house elf popped next to Harry. “Yes, Harry Potter, sir!”
Harry asked, “Did you consider what I asked you last night, Dobby?”
Dobby nodded, and bowed his head. Harry pulled a hair from the sparse scalp of the house elf. “Thank you, Dobby.”
“May Dobby watch, Harry Potter, sir?”
Harry shrugged. “If you want.”
Harry sat on the ground, and Dobby followed suit. Harry took three of the longest of his own hairs and combined them with one of Hermione’s to make a thread. Harry next did the same with one of Dobby’s and one of his own, before twining the two sets together. Harry next took a tail feather which Hedwig had donated and wrapped the combined thread around it. Harry had found a long straight woody bit of a rose bush he had trimmed the year before in the back shed at the Dursleys. Harry had been trimming and pruning that rose bush for many years, and had lost a bit of blood to it. He removed all the thorns but one. Harry placed the wrapped feather in the palm of his hand and placed the rose wood over it. Harry clenched his hand, pushing the thorn into his flesh. He muttered an incantation, and the blood, feather, and thread were absorbed into the rosewood.
Dobby gestured at Harry’s hand. “May Dobby?”
Harry wasn’t sure what the elf meant, but he held his hand out. Dobby placed the rough wand in Harry’s other hand and then healed the small tear in Harry’s palm.
“Thank you, Dobby.”
Harry then removed the thorn and sealed the wand with a special, almost-instantly drying magical lacquer. A few more coats, and it would be ready to test.
Dobby brought Harry lunch, which the two shared. By mid-afternoon, the wand was done. Picking it up, Harry snapped the wand towards a small rock, using a silent ‘reducto.’
The rock smashed in an explosion of dust. Harry next sent a much darker curse at another rock. It was almost transparent in day light, and usually invisible at night. Nothing happened.
Harry nodded thoughtfully, and then sent the same curse at a bush. Instantly, the bush started to wither. In less than ten seconds, it not only was dead, it looked like it had died months before.
Harry smiled nastily. “Cool,” he muttered. He wished he could launch such spells wandlessly, but despite having more talent in that area than nearly any other wizard, that really wasn’t saying much. “Thanks again, Dobby.”
Dobby nodded, and Harry disapparated to the far-side of Little Whinging. He had a dream catcher to finish, and a master plan to work out.
Most summers, the Grangers spent a few weeks on the Continent, usually in France. This summer, they would be spending the last two weeks of July there. Harry spent the first half of July studying and working out in the mornings and spending the afternoons with Hermione, much to her parents’ surprise.
Harry was up well-before the Dursleys every morning, mentally reviewing his magical knowledge, as well as knocking out his homework for fourth year. (That part surprised and pleased Hermione.) He was out running by 7:00 and was back by 8:15, thus avoiding Vernon entirely during the weekdays as well as mostly avoiding Petunia and Dudley. While Dudley was being fed, Harry was doing exercises in the cellar. Harry would never be overly-muscled, he just didn’t have the genetics for it. Despite the extra ‘help’ from Light Magic, Harry was still short for his age and would eventually only just hit ‘average.’ However, he did now have a physique that any gymnast or runner would envy. Then, after a long shower, Harry was ready to visit Hermione.
After the first few days, Hermione insisted that he come for lunch. She was determined that Harry would not be underfed that summer. While Harry’s appetite would never be in Ron’s league, Hermione was impressed by his better eating habits. Since Hermione did not cook and Harry did not want to add to the Grangers’ expenses, they ate out at various places in Norwich. On Saturdays, he even treated the Grangers, to their amusement.
Most parents of teenage girls wonder about the boys they bring home. The Grangers were an exception, in part because they trusted Hermione (perhaps too much), in part because they were delighted that their daughter actually had a social life, and also because Harry managed to impress them as well. As for Harry and Hermione, they happily spent the weekday afternoons lustily snogging in the back garden, which was well-protected from causal spying.
Harry was a bit worried about letting Ron know that he and Hermione were dating, although the thought never entered into Hermione head after that first day. However, this Ron’s jealousy, in this area at least, had not yet been aroused. That would have taken Krum, Hermione’s having her teeth fixed (Ron never consciously noticed, but the change had some affect on him), and the Yule Ball. This Ron had not yet figured out that girls around his own age might be as interesting and attractive in their own ways as the women in the Muggle men’s magazines floating around the dorms. Hermione was a sometimes-annoying chum, a resource, not someone to be interested in. If anything, Ron thought it odd Harry would date someone like Hermione but when he finally found out he thought that should mean Harry would not be interested in any girl that Ron might actually like. As far as Ron was concerned, Harry+Hermione=more possible action for Ron.
When the Grangers left for vacation, Harry kept up a similar schedule. However, his Sunday afternoons and the afternoons of the first week were spent under glamors, exploring some of the shadier stores in and around Diagon Alley, including Knockturn Alley. Harry was establishing a persona which would be acceptable in such places. He also bought a three compartment trunk, which few would guess had two extra chambers, both fairly large. He had no plans to ever be connected to the Dursleys after this summer, and needed space to store his new clothes, books, etc. He also paid for some very expensive phoenix-tear treatments for his eyes. Within three days, he no longer needed glasses, although he kept wearing the frames with plain glass in them for now.
Most importantly, although there were still a few weak spots, Harry thought he had a plan which should easily gain him control over Voldemort well before the Third Task (should things reach such a point – he hoped to avoid the Tri-Wizard as anything more than a spectator). The first step were all of Harry’s prep work and conditioning. Harry was now ready for the second step – which started with the correspondence he had been having with Sirius. He had managed to get Sirius to tell him about Grimmauld Place, and agree that Harry should someday visit. Using that vague permission, Harry was able to force his way through the wards and into the house the very afternoon the Grangers had left on vacation.
It took three days of talking to convince Kreacher that Harry wanted to help complete Regulus’ last plan. He took the locket out to the back garden, broke the Horcrux, and then gave Slytherin’s locket back to the half-mad elf. Harry recovered the Ring the next afternoon and broke the Horcrux in it as well. Harry remembered to shadow the caretaker of the Riddle House, casting a modified confundus charm on him, so that he would ignore odd lights in the house at night. Harry hoped that would be enough to save the old man’s life, as he didn’t dare do more.
Harry was fairly sure he could avoid both being in the Tri-Wizard, and being kidnaped either way, but he took the time to replace all the bones he could find in the various Riddle graves with transfigured chicken bones. (Harry half-hoped to see the result of those being used.) He had also been to Hogwarts, and managed to ‘converse’ with the Castle. To his slight surprise, it had not only easy for him to do so, she (for Hogwarts was very much a maternal entity) was if anything pushing Harry to be even more pro-active than he had planned.
At this point in the summer, Harry was surprised that the Dursleys had been so docile. Because of their good behavior, he surprised himself and his relatives by confronting them the evening before the Grangers were returning, which was a Friday night.
“I thought we had a deal,” Vernon accused.
“We did, and we do,” Harry answered. “Since you’ve kept to your side so well, I’m going to remind you of something you may have forgotten, or underestimated.”
“And what is that?” Vernon demanded.
“I am here to establish a blood protection. We all needed that while I was younger. These days, it does little for me, but protects you from magical attack from outsiders from ‘that world’. However, the protection disappears on my seventeenth birthday. That’s just three years from tomorrow night at midnight, because the wards will crash, not fade. Since the ‘evil wizards’ don’t know we don’t care for each other, they will sweep in, assuming their leader isn’t fully dead by then, and they aren’t either dead or in prison by that time, even if they know I am not here. They’ll kill you, and torture Aunt Petunia and Dudley in the hope that I’ll be stupid enough to try and rescue them.” While Dudley could not comprehend why anyone wouldn’t rescue him, neither Vernon nor Petunia were that dim. Vernon decided to ignore about the ‘fully dead’ part for now.
“The Old Man will somehow ensure you’re stuck here until nearly the last minute, especially if you try and escape early. You need to have a plan to move, a place you can go to in late July. Then put the house up for sale so it’s empty when the Deatheaters come to burn it down or worse. At least this way, no one would get hurt.”
Petunia looked horrified, Vernon angry.
“I’d make certain it’s well-insured,” Harry added.
Vernon suddenly smiled. “You’re a lot smarter than I ever gave you credit for before,” he admitted.
Harry merely nodded and left the room.
“So, we don’t hate the Freak?” Dudley asked, confused.
“We hate that he is a freak,” Vernon corrected. “He’s staying out of our way, there hasn’t been any freakishness, and in three years, we’ll be free of him.”
Harry, who was eavesdropping, walked to his room, satisfied. He then remembered to write the Weasleys; he did not want to disrupt the detente by having them send an over-stamped envelope.
Harry enjoyed his few birthday presents, but enjoyed having Hermione back more. So far, things were going well enough that he felt justified in enjoying his time with her. The greatest problem left in Harry’s ‘master plan’ was having no idea of how to get to the damn Cup in Gringotts. He had over two dozen ideas, but none stood out. If Harry had a plan for the rest of the ‘Voldemort problem’ and even some idea of how he wanted to change things in general, his other plans were still a bit loose. Still, he at least felt he had a good shot of dealing with them.
Hermione’s parents felt confident enough in her and Harry to allow them to go to Diagon Alley. Hermione was impressed that Harry had just enough wandless magic to cast some small glamors and other charms on them. Harry explained the treatment for his eyes, and without his glasses and with blue eyes, longer brown hair (under a bargeman’s hat, pulled low enough to hide the scar), and a plain dark blue robe, no one could recognize him easily. Hermione pulled her now dark blonde wavy hair into a pony tail and was given matching blue eyes. She wore shorts under her light blue robe to show off her calves and thighs, and had quickly varnished her finger and toe nails (showing through her sandals) to match the robe Harry had given her.
Harry picked up his dress robes, while Hermione ordered hers. They then spent three hours in Flourish and Blotts and two used book stores. After a shared sundae, Harry escorted Hermione home via the Knight’s Bus. Hermione rather wished she could have kept the hair as it was – very wavy was better, to her, than wildly bushy.
Mr. Weasley visited the Grangers two nights later, making arrangements for Hermione to visit the Burrow and to go to the World Cup. He accepted Hermione’s word that she could make the necessary arrangements with Harry, and Harry sent Hedwig off to the Burrow the next night, saying his family would arrange for Hermione and Harry to arrive. Harry didn’t want to risk any pranks on Dudley or exploding fireplaces. In fact, the pair wore their glamors to Gringotts and changed out of them just before stepping through to the Burrow hand-in-hand.
The pair endured a little teasing from the twins, a bit more heavy-handed teasing from Ron, and some hurt looks from Ginny and Mrs. Weasley. Still, none of it was malicious, and everyone kept within reason. This was especially true of the twins, after Harry had a private conversation with them about possible investment opportunities. Some teasing did occur when Hermione got Harry to sit and allow her, Ginny, and Mrs. Weasley experiment, trying to cover his scar with magical and Muggle makeup. They found that both needed to be used together, a Muggle base with magical makeup over it.
Soon enough, the group going to the World Cup made the trek to the portkey, although this time Harry landed well and helped Hermione do the same. By mid-morning, the youngest quartet were ready to explore. Harry had Ginny makeup his scar, and then he swore Ginny and Ron to secrecy. They were amazed at Harry’s wandless glamors. Ron and Ginny agreed to wear some as well, and Harry turned their hair blond, covered their freckles, and changed the colors of their robes (Ginny’s mint green and Ron’s, of course, Cannon orange). Harry lied, and said that Sirius had sent him a hundred galleons to distribute for fun, and so both Weaselys were willing to take twenty-five each. Each teen bought omnoculars, while Ginny bought sweets, Ron bought Krum souvenirs, and Hermione bought some pamphlets on different magic from buskers. Harry bought bags of hazelnuts for them to snack on during the game.
It took all of Harry’s will power not to stun Winky and the hidden Barty Crouch Junior once they reached the box that evening. Instead, he managed to whisper to the startled Winky, “Your charge is not as under the influence as your Master might think. Be very careful unless you want clothes.”
The little being gulped in terror, and managed to keep Barty contained all night. It wouldn’t help when Voldemort and Wormtail showed up at the Crouch house in thirty-six hours, but it gave Harry one less problem to think about. He was a bit surprised that the Veela had no affect on him, and that just being near the Malfoys was not even more-aggravating than it was. The fact that Harry managed to place a Tibetan sterility hex on both Malfoys as well as Minister Fudge which, if undetected for a week, would both be permanent and lead to full impotence within three weeks, probably kept him in a decent mood.
Harry was surprised when Viktor managed to catch the snitch a bit earlier this time, resulting in a tie game. As the Cup could not end in a tie, the teams played ‘sudden death’ until a goal was scored. This should have favored the Irish, but under the special rules, the Seekers played as a fourth Chaser. Krum managed to get the Quaffle from the toss-up, and unassisted he scored the winning goal. Fortunately for the twins, since Harry given them hopes of securing investments from both Harry and Sirius, they had only placed a small bet with Bagman, which they had of course lost.
The startling end of the game meant most people were outside when the Death Eaters showed up. It was easy for Harry to disillusion himself with the rosewood wand and make his way towards the group. Most of the Death Eaters were ‘playing’ with the Muggles, but a few were terrorizing the crowd, although not hexing them severely. Harry decided to take out those waiting their turn to hex the Muggles. Three had fallen to his nearly invisible withering hex before the others caught on.
The Muggles fell to the ground, terrified from the experience and only receiving minor injuries from the fall. Harry took out three more Death Eaters on at a time before the rest retreated, in even more terror than the crowd had been in. He quickly made his way back to the Weasley tents.
“There you are,” a worried Arthur exclaimed.
“Sorry,” Harry answered. “I got split off. I just kept working my way away from the crowd and then back here.”
“Good job. The others are behind the tent. Let’s see if we can get out of here.”
Because of all the excitement and late hours, Harry did not come down to the kitchen until nearly noon, still beating everyone except Molly, Arthur, and Percy. The latter two were already at work.
“Good morning, dear,” Molly said. She smiled a bit and continued, “It looks like the rest will have to get a ‘good afternoon’ instead. Shall we have lunch? The other can have sandwiches.”
“Thank you.” Harry frowned. “I may be wrong, but is there something you’ve wanted to ask me or say to me since I first got here?”
“I admit, I’m curious,” Molly admitted. “Why Hermione?”
“Other than she’s always stood by me, and she’s bright, cute, and my best friend?”
“I thought Ron was your best friend.”
“You want me to date Ron?”
Molly gave Harry a stern look.
Harry ignored it. “What you meant is, why don’t I date Ginny,” he pointed out.
“I suppose,” she admitted. “And I do think Hermione would be good for Ron.”
“Hermione is bossy, okay, very bossy, but she’s not really controlling,” Harry responded. “The bossiness really irritates Ron, a lot more than it does me.”
“And how do you feel about it?”
Harry shrugged, “I listen to her and then make my own decision. But let’s be honest, Ginny is a bit more controlling, and a lot more possessive, than Hermione, and those things would irritate me a lot more than Hermione’s bossiness.” Harry also knew that Ginny would demand to be treated as a princess, and would be very irritating when not getting her way. “And Ginny has just turned thirteen. That’s a little young to date anyone, isn’t it?”
Molly was not about to publically agree about any of her children having flaws, although she acknowledged to her self that Harry was likely right about both Ron and Ginny. She had to agree that Ginny was certainly too young to date, and did so.
The rest of lunch was companionable, and after Molly refused help Harry took the newspaper to the back porch to read. There was a small stop-press notice about the attack, and Harry was glad there had been no Dark Mark. Unfortunately, the names of the Death Eaters killed had not been released in time to make the morning edition.
The rest of the family, led by Bill and Hermione, were eating sandwiches when Harry came back in, and he sat down to enjoy some lemonade with the others.
The evening paper came early. It turned out that the Dark Mark had disappeared from the Death Eaters’ arms after Voldemort’s downfall, which was how Malfoy and the others had been able to claim being under the Imperius. However, there were now faint Marks on all six of the Death Eaters the night before, proving that they all, despite having been excused in 1981, been Death Eaters. Harry knew all six names. Two of the people were low-level Death Eaters, even in 1997-1998. However the other four were the Carrows, Mcnair, and best of all Lucius Malfoy. Harry was surprised, that being the case, that the Ministry had released the names. Reading thoroughly, he saw that the names had been released over Fudge’s objections by Madam Bones. There was even an editorial calling for all those who had claimed Imperius as a defense to be re-examined.
Harry wondered if Fudge would stay in office long. His plans would work either way.
Well, there were ways. . . .