Harry and Hermione have a little chat with McGonagall, and take a day off. He visits the queen, and explains the situation and then he and Dobby make a focusing crystal.
The excitable elf appeared without a sound.
“Dobby is here, Missy Hermyninny. How may Dobby serve you this morning?”
“Dobby, where is Harry?”
“Oh, the great Harry Potter is in the training room practicing with his lightsaber.”
“Oh. Thank you Dobby.”
“Dobby is happy to serve. Would Missy Hermyninny like some tea, you was not supposed to be awake for another hour yet.”
“I missed having my Harry to sleep on.”
“Dobby understands. Dobby loves sleeping with Winky, too. She is very…cuddly.”
He popped away and returned a few seconds later with a hot mug of tea.
As soon as she’d been situated, he announced: “Missy Hermyninny, Dobby must leave to speak with Professor Kittycat. Dobby will return shortly.”
Without another word he vanished as silently as he’d arrived.
Hermione stretched and rose from the bed. “Winky!” She called.
Winky appeared immediately and announced herself.
“Winky, do you know where Dobby has gone?”
“Winky does, but Winky is not supposed to tell. Miss Hermione will be told soon.”
“Alright, I suppose I can wait. Can you show me where the training room is?”
“Winky can. Does Miss Hermione wish to dress first?” Winky replied drawing Hermione’s attention to her less than adequately clothed condition. Hermione blushed and nodded.
Winky immediately had clothing laid out in the bed. Hermione selected from the three sets Winky had ‘recommended’. Pulling on some unders, she donned a snug pair of denims, and a light grey tee with a vibrant pink slash from one shoulder to the opposite waist. Slipping her feet into sandals, she picked up her tea again and announced: “I’m ready.”
In an ancient castle in Scotland, in an office on the second floor, Minerva McGonagall had a frightening thought.
~Miss Granger came to me last month asking me to check her for compulsions, but when I found them I never reported it to the authorities. Instead, I sent her to Albus. He never got back to me on this. Why?~
For most of her life she had seen Albus as the very epitome of the light, but many years before, her uncle Angus had told her that if something seemed to be too good to be true, it usually was.
On a hunch, she ran the same detection charm she’d taught Hermione in June, and nearly screamed in rage as she found more than a dozen compulsions. Worse, like many others, she recognized the magical signature.
~Albus? How could it be? He’s always been a champion the light. He defeated Grindelwald, for heaven’s sake. Why would he cast compulsions like that on me?~ Some of the compulsions were loyalty and trust, others forced her to speak the truth, and not keep information from him. One really unusual compulsion seemed tied to paperwork. That one she really couldn’t understand…until she saw the pile of unfinished correspondence on her desk.
Once again in her mind, she heard her uncle saying: “I’ sommat give’ t’ ye’ a pound fer a penny, what ye got thah, is a pound tha’ ain’t worth a penny!”
Albus had been so busy with trying to control the political damage from his audit, he’d forgotten to reinforce the compulsions, and now, it was too late.
Minerva was seething! How dare he! How dare he! She was going to march right up to that bewhiskered old fool and show him the business end of her family’s sword! She actually gripped the seven hundred year old Claymore, before heading out to do some major damage.
She hadn’t reached the door when a house-elf appeared soundlessly.
“You is must calm youself, Professor Kittycat.” He scolded gently. Minerva didn’t know this particular elf but he wore blue slacks and a white shirt, with three family crests. “Dobby can take you to someone who can explain everything.”
“Do you know what’s going on?”
“Dobby does, but Dobby cannot say.” He looked both right and left, and then leaned forward and in an exaggerated whisper added: “The walls has ears!”
Minerva immediately understood. She knew that Albus frequently used the portraits to spy…erm, gather information, on the goings on throughout the castle. Just now, the frames in her office were empty but she was not certain if that had been true only moments before.
“Please, take me there.”
Hermione was amazed. Simply amazed, at the grace and fluidity Harry showed while practicing his katas. He made the movements look like a graceful dance rather than the practice at combat it was. His energized blade swept, thrust and slashed like a living thing. Almost an hour after she’d entered the room, Harry brought his dance to an end. He was sweating heavily, but didn’t seem to be breathing hard at all.
“That was brilliant, Harry! Will you be teaching me to do that?”
“Mmhmm.” Harry replied. He kissed her lightly and bent to pick up a towel.
Hermione looked on fondly at the smooth muscles that stretched and flexed under his sodden shirt. She was less pleased with the fast array of scar tissue he displayed, and thought once again it was very fortunate she was not yet allowed to perform magic out of school.
Harry caught it anyway.
“Relax, luv. They’ll get theirs, and in a manner that makes simple revenge seem much too brief. I don’t just want to make them hurt, I want to make them suffer!”
Hermione could only agree with that. Still, if she happened to be walking along and saw any one of the Dursleys…
Harry interrupted her sadistic introspection by asking: “Are you ready to begin the training?”
“If you want. No later than next week, though.”
“Then, as much as I look forward to learning new things, let’s just have a day out. Breathe the fresh air, see the sights. That sort of thing. You’ve been cooped up in here, or performing your duties elsewhere, for too long.”
“OK, how about a trip into London?”
“Actually, I was thinking Cardiff or Brighton, or maybe Canterbury or Stratford?”
Well Cardiff and Brighton are out. It’s sunny and it’s July. It’ll be standing room only, there. Stratford is pretty smoggy this time of year, so how about Canterbury. Maybe we’ll find an inn with a sign that says ‘Chaucer slept here’.”
Hermione giggled. She hadn’t known that Harry knew of Chaucer.
“Would your parents like to join us…just to see I’m not ravishing their only daughter?”
“Harry, you are ravishing me…every chance you get!”
“Yeah, but they don’t know that.”
“Well, mum does, but not dad…for now.”
“You wouldn’t!” Harry paled.
“Not me, silly, but my mum and dad are both pretty smart. I’m sure he’ll put two and two together. After all, I have slept over…umm…eight times in the last three weeks.”
“Well, it’s been a pleasure knowing you, and please take care of Hedwig…and bury me with my Firebolt…as soon as Dumbledore returns it, of course.”
Now Hermione laughed out loud!
Harry had a quick shower, and dressed again in a fresh set of clothing. They stepped down the stairs into the parlor, to find someone unexpected.
Minerva McGonagall looked up and sighed. “I might have known.” Louder, she greeted the teens. “Good morning, Mister Potter, Miss Granger.”
Sniffing the air, she blinked, and sniffed again. Then with a smile she said: “Congratulations, both of you. You have won me a tidy sum of gold.”
“How did you know?” Hermione asked, immediately understanding Minerva’s reference.
“Miss Granger, Remus is not he only person who has augmented senses. As a cat…”
“Professor Kittycat!” Hermione interrupted, making he connection. She hadn’t seen McGonagall transform in such a long time, she’d forgotten.
“I trust you will keep that to yourselves?” She scolded lightly. “It would not do for my reputation at the school, to be known as a friendly tabby.”
Hermione blushed and nodded.
“Be that as may be, I received the oddest visit this morning. I had just realized something was badly awry when your elf Dobby…”
“Friend.” Harry corrected.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Dobby is bonded to me but he is by no means, my elf. He is a trusted friend.”
Dobby smiled brilliantly.
“I see. My apologies then. When Dobby came to me he told me that he could bring me to someone who could explain what had happened, I decided to join him.”
“You’ve discovered the compulsions, then?”
“Just so. How that man could place compulsions on anybody is beyond my ken!”
“He does it because he can. Dumbledore has been getting away with things like that for nearly a hundred years. He’s been seen as the great leader of the light for so long, that he’s begun to believe his own press. Problem is, he’s not as bright and shiny as he’d have you think.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you recall our last conversation? Before I asked you to make the power cells for my lightsaber?
“I do. You told me that Dumbledore had known that both Peter Pettigrew and Severus were death eaters and yet allowed them to remain free, because he could use them.
“You told me he invented the prophecy that he’d used to control you for so long and used Imperius to make Sybil speak it in the Hogshead Inn.
“Correct. He wanted Voldemort to come after me because he knew that Tom Riddle believed in prophesy, so he set me and my parents up to die, in the hopes that Riddle would be killed too, but he misjudged something. Now, because he did believe, Riddle made that prophecy real. What’s more, by coming after us, by killing my parents and marking me, he fulfilled the prophecy that night. Nobody knows to this day what really happened, but Dumbledore has been making a great deal of gold selling that ridiculous story about my mother’s love creating a shield that somehow rebounded the killing curse. That makes no sense at all. How many mothers have stood between Voldemort and their children, and how many of those children have ever survived?”
“What did happen?”
“I’ve developed a theory, but I need more information. Hermione, what rune do I always carry with me?”
“Rune? Harry you don’t carry any runes.” Hermione returned, puzzled by the non sequitur.
“If it helps, it’s right over my soul’s eye?”
She looked shocked, then blushed. “Sowilo” she whispered.
Minerva was also shocked. She was more than familiar with runes and yet, she’d missed it entirely!
“Mmmhmm.” Harry smiled warmly at his love. “A rune of…”
“Power, protection and strength. And your birthstone is ruby. Those go together. All we need now, is some juniper.”
“Holly will serve. It’s also an evergreen. Based upon what little Dumbledore’s allowed me to learn, I believe my mother was using blood magics to protect me. Everyone who knew her said she was a genius with potions…and charms. Runes are closely linked to charms, and so are blood magicks. I believe she’d prepared a ritual to protect me, beforehand, probably when they went into hiding, and when dad was facing Voldemort, she activated the ritual, cut herself and painted Sowilo on my forehead with her blood. I think that’s why my scar is shaped like it is. After all, the killing curse doesn’t leave a mark of any sort. It just leaves you dead. It also doesn’t matter where it hits. All it needs to do is touch you…so why would he’ve aimed at my head?”
Neither witch had an answer, though Hermione looked like she wanted to race to the library to research it. Harry derailed that idea by returning to the original topic.
“All that aside, you’ve discovered the compulsions Dumbledore’s placed on you. He’s done the same to my friends and far worse to me. I intend to deal with Voldemort first, and then, I’m going to take Dumbledore down. He’s really no better than Riddle and in some ways, a lot worse.”
“Worse?” Minerva was shocked. “How?”
“Voldemort is a murdering bastard, no doubt about that, but at least he keeps it up front. When he says something, you can believe him. When Dumbledore says something, you have to sift through a half tonne of dragon dung to find the tiny little speck of truth. As I told you at Hogwarts, all of your friends who died between 1976 and ‘81, died because of Snape, but understand this; Dumbledore was equally guilty. He knew what was happening and refused to do anything about it. Instead, he watched as good people were slaughtered, claiming ‘the greater good’ all he while. Voldemort kills and tortures, but Dumbledore allows people to be killed and tortured even his own, when he can put an end to it. He values Voldemort’s spy more than his own people.
It’s like a game to him, where the leader with the highest body count, wins!”
“Mister Potter…Harry.” Minerva could see Harry was getting angry. “I don’t think that Albus is quite as bad as you make him out to be…”
“Professor, how long have you known him?”
“Yes. How long?”
“I’d have to say a bit over fifty years.”
“And yet, he placed behavioral compulsions on you. His ‘friend of over fifty years’. Why would he do that?”
Minerva had no answer. Harry answered for her.
“As I said before, he did it, simply because he could. Like most of the purebloods, you and a few others excepted, he sees himself as above the laws. Even now, with his being audited by the goblins, he’s still plotting. He’s borrowing money as fast as he can from all his friends, but not for what he claims. He’s not using that money to support or succor anybody. He’s padding his own nest. How many of the people he’s borrowed from can actually afford to give it to him? I know the Weasleys can’t, and yet, he’s tried to hit Arthur up three times already. Fortunately, Arthur is both aware of what he’s done and hasn’t got any gold to spare.”
“Mister Potter how do you know what Albus is doing?”
“I have an intelligence system that actually works.” Harry nodded at Dobby, who grinned widely..
Minerva peered closely at the confident young man before her. She’d always seen him as the perfect blend of his parents, though without the drive of either. Now, she understood why he lacked that drive. If Albus had been interfering with Harry’s life, if he’d placed compulsions on him neglect his studies, she could see why the lad had done so poorly in class…and yet, Madam Marchbanks was practically dancing at the results from this years crop of OWL and NEWT students.
“Harry, can you tell me how you did so well on your exams, while being an average performer in class?”
Minerva just looked at him with questioning eyes. Hermione knew the tale and was trying not to weep. “Vernon and Petunia Dursley would beat me raw whenever I did better than their precious ‘Diddykins’, so I learned to not do better in class. With Ron being the jealous and unmotivated prat he is, I thought that I’d lose my very first friend if I did better than him in class, so I kept myself back. I’m no super genius like Hermione, here, but I’m a damn sight more intelligent than I’ve been showing. I expect to get O’s, in most of my classes, at least one being ‘with distinction’. I’ll pull an ‘Exceeds’ in Potions, but I really don’t care. I’ll never have to see that miserable Death Eater again. Divination is a bust, though I’d like to retake the Astronomy test over, given that that was when the ‘Toad-Woman’ decided to try to arrest Hagrid and you ended up being attacked by the Aurors. I’d suggest you sue for that, by the way, and History is the only class in the world, where the teacher actually bored himself to death. Even if it wasn’t, that’s when Ol’ Voldyface, decided to share his fondest thoughts with me. Kinda hard to do well on a test when your head feels like someone’s driving a red-hot spike through it. ”
“How could they…?” Minerva was more than shocked. Her family had been strict, but to beat a child for seeking to do his best, just to placate someone who wasn’t up to scratch was so far beyond offensive she wanted to kill!
Once again, Harry changed the subject. He began to pull his shirt off. Minerva was curious as to why he’d do that, until he turned his back to her. There she could see many hundreds of scars, some fine, some thick and ropey.
“Good heavens!” She exclaimed. “Whatever happened to you?”
“Dumbledore’s greater good.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You were there the night Dumbledore abandoned me on that doorstep.”
“Yes.” Minerva sighed in regret. “Much to my eternal shame, I did not protest strongly enough. Those muggles were the worst sort of people!”
“You could’ve fought tooth and nail. It wouldn’t have mattered. He’d already made up his mind, and when the all knowing Albus Dumbledore makes a decision, nothing in the world will change it.
And yes. They were.
Dumbledore knew when he left me on that doorstep…in the middle of the night…during the winter…that the Dursleys were ‘intolerant’ of anything they didn’t consider
‘normal’. He may not have known at the time that they were also abusers but he discovered that fact very quickly. He knew how I was treated, and he allowed it…encouraged it, even. My mother and Petunia were at odds from the second mum showed that she had magic and Petunia did not. Vernon was so anxious to appear perfectly and completely normal, upper middle class, that he’d do anything to make it true…including tying to beat the magic out of me.”
Harry launched into an abbreviated recount of his years at #4 Privet Drive. By the time he was done, Minerva was ready to go medieval on the three bigots…and her old ‘friend’ as well. Not because they were mere muggles and he was a wizard, but because he had been a child in their care and they had all forsaken their responsibility.
Harry’s next words brought her thoughts of murder and mayhem to a screeching halt. “I’d like you to set your anger aside, for the next year.”
“The next year?” Minerva repeated, not understanding his words.
“Yes. I’m not returning to Hogwarts this September. I, and about sixty students and former students are going to be training for war.”
“Not returning?” Minerva repeated slowly. ‘But what about your schooling?”
“Professor, if Voldemort wins, it won’t matter. I’ll be dead, Hermione here will be dead, or in a slave camp, you’ll be dead or on Voldemort’s most wanted list, Dumbledore will be dead for certain, the entire order will be dead because Snape will tell Voldy who they are. Only the blood purists who have aligned themselves with him will survive. Everyone else will be hunted down for sport, or because Voldemort wants them gone. The muggles don’t stand a chance against him, and if he’s not destroyed by this time next year, there’s no telling how high the death toll could get. I worked the figures over and over, and assuming we lose, within two years the casualties could be in the dozens of millions, in five, half the world’s population could be dead.
“Half?” Minerva wanted to faint.
“Exactly. That’s three and a half, billion people dead. We have to win this and it has to be done quickly. That’s why we’re taking a sabbatical. If we win, Madam Bones has promised me that she will ensure all the students will be reentered into school at their former year-levels. If for some reason, she can’t do that, I’ll personally finance their educations myself and petition the ICW to allow them accreditation.
Minerva didn’t have to think. She’d lost too many friends and former students to Voldemort, and before him, Grindelwald. Like she had in June, she came to a decision.
“All right. What do you want me to do?”
“For now, very little. I’ve arranged to have Gringotts keep Dumbledore busy and…”
“That was you!?! You were behind that audit?” Minerva was outraged, and more than a little amazed that Harry could have thought of such a tactic. The audit would keep Albus’ mind off his other responsibilities. That much she was sure of.
“Ep.” He smirked. “It’s nice to have an in with the goblins. Anyway, I’d like you to keep on with business as usual. Dumbledore is going to be hit from three sides. I cannot see him replacing your compulsions any time soon…but practice your Occlumency all the same. Compulsions and Obliviations cannot take if your shields are up.”
“Of course not, but Albus knows that.”
“He does, but he won’t expect anyone else to.” Harry smirked. “We’re going to be keeping him off balance until he does something both stupid and public. Since I’m working on gaining a controlling interest in The Daily Prophet, I can control how much the populace sees, and I’m going to let them see everything. I’m also going to place The Prophet under Fidelus so he can’t ‘influence’ anyone.”
“Thank you. If we’re lucky, the board of Governors will remove him, because of the stink his being audited will cause. If not, I want you to slowly but surely take over the running of the school. You do it anyway, but I want you to do it even more than you are now. Tell him it’s so he can focus on his other obligations. Keep your shields up but try not to make it look like you are…if you can. I want him off balance until I chop his legs out from under him. Oh, and leave Peeves alone. He’s working for me.”
“Now why did a shiver just run down my back?” Minerva asked dryly. And indeed, she had just felt a frisson of dread, trace it’s way down her spine. The idea of that poltergeist working for the son of one Marauder and godson of another; was too terrifying for words.
Don’t worry…” Harry laughed. “I’ve asked him to focus on the headmaster…although he’ll have to prank some of the students from time to time, just to keep Dumbledore from getting too suspicious.
“Very well. I shall do as you ask. I only ask that you not kill Albus. He was a friend for a great many years. He may have changed, but he was a friend.”
“I have no plans to kill him. I promise.”
Bidding them good-bye, Minerva took the ‘Dobby-Express’ back to Hogwarts.
When she’d gone, Hermione turned to Harry and said: “Well that went better than it could have.”
“You really aren’t going to kill him?”
‘Nope. It’s gonna be an accident. I have a banana peel all ready and waiting. He’s gonna slip.”
“I’m kidding. I really have no intention of killing him. What I plan to do is worse.”
“What about Professor McGonagall?”
“That was actually a lucky break. She could have agreed with him, and then we’d be stuck. With her on our side, keeping Dumbledore occupied, we can focus on what we need to do.” He replied then changed the subject to a more pleasant one.
“Speaking of doing something, what were we about to do?”
“We were about to invite my parents to join us for a walk through Canterbury.”
Because Hermione as still considered underaged, Harry apparated them both northwest from Grimmauld to Crowley to invite the Grangers out for a walk.
Alas, when they arrived, both Doctors Grangers were preparing to attend a short symposium on orthodontics.
Hugs and kisses were given and shared. Judith even included one for Harry. Before they got into their light blue Mercedes, she added with a smirk: “We’ll be home in a week to properly threaten your boyfriend sweetheart.” Mackenzie just glowered at his precious baby’s chosen.
Grinning, Harry again apparated them both from Crowley past London to the ancient city of Canterbury. They spent the entire day doing nothing but walking along the River Stour, touring the city’s historic landmarks, eating, kissing, visiting the castles and ancient inns there, and generally having a wonderful day.
Arriving at Grimmauld that afternoon, Harry asked Winky if his dress robes had arrived. She presented him with a beautifully tailored set of basilisk hide dueling robes of an iridescent black and dark grey, over a shirt and trous, in a softer grey. Matching boots completed the elegant outfit.
The following morning, a nervous Harry woke, had breakfast and dressed in his new finery, before realizing he had nothing to do for the next two hours.
Hermione wandered down the stairs an hour later to find Harry furiously writing something on a long roll of parchment.
“Whatcha writing?” She whispered from behind. It was a tribute to the force that he’d felt her approach; otherwise several hundred words would have been ruined. He turned to his lover and kissed her gently.
“It’s a will.” He explained. “Just a rough one right now, but I need to provide for my students, in a way that Dumbledore can’t obstruct.”
At just before Ten, Harry stood, donned and smoothed down his robe, hooked his lightsaber to his belt and kissed his love good-bye. Watching the clock, he counted down the seconds until he felt the annoying hook behind his navel, and vanished in a swirl of lights.
Harry Potter appeared in a small room, where he promptly fell on his face. Someone snickered. Looking up he realized that there were four automatic rifles pointed at him.
“Yeah, I’d like to see you try a portkey…see how well you do! Then you can laugh! Erm, I’m Harry Potter. I have an appointment.”
“Welcome to Buckingham palace, Lord Gryffindor.” A subaltern announced. With a snap, the rifles returned to high port arms. The sub held out his hand to help Harry to his feet.
“Please place your wand and that…is that a lightsaber?
“Yes Sir, it is.”
“And it works?”
“Yes it does.” Harry handed it to the sub. He tried to turn it on but nothing happened.
“It looks like it would make a nice club, but that’s about it.” The sub placed it on the table.
“That’s because you cannot touch the force.”
“The force? Like in Star Wars?” A new voice intruded, as a Captain of the guard entered the room.
“OK, I’ve heard enough.” The Captain sneered. “Let’s just beam you up to Starship ‘Cygnet Royal’, and see if they can ‘help’ you there!” He waved his hand forward, and a pair of heavy types advanced, only to find themselves gripping empty air. Harry vanished with a soft ‘pop’ and reappeared behind them. He placed one hand on either of their heads and said ‘sleep’. Both fell unconscious to the floor.
Rifles were brought to bear but before they were aimed, Harry had called them all to his hands. Immediately afterward, all the soldiers, officers included, found themselves being firmly pushed back to the wall, where they were mysteriously stuck. The rifles floated to the table.
“Now, will you listen?” Harry asked.
A laughing Lieutenant Colonel entered and introduced himself as Charles McVennon. Harry immediately liked him. He could feel through the force that McVennon was a decent sort. Ha also knew that the man was dedicated to his duty…and he carried a concealed sidearm.
“Lord Gryffindor, while I thank you for the demonstration, I must ask you to release my men.” He ordered, trying manfully to stifle his chuckles.
“As you wish.”
Harry released the hold on the men but cast a sticking charm on the weapons, to prevent…accidents. None of them looked happy.
Colonel McVennon ordered them to stand-down and then went on.
“Sir, you understand that you are considered a threat. Any wizard is, really, but you especially.”
“Let me guess.” Harry growled. “Albus Dumbledore has been telling tales.”
“I can’t really say as to that. I can tell you that at this moment, he’s not exactly happy with you, so please place any weapons you might be carrying onto the table before you. They will be returned shortly.”
Harry unbuckled the belt, and laid it across his lightsaber on the table. He did the same with his wand and stepped back.
“Have you any other magical items on your person?”
“Ummm, my family’s signets and this set of robes, my boots…and the portkey, of course.”
“Please remove those items and place them on the table as well. They will be returned shortly. I was informed that you wore glasses.”
“I can’t take the rings off. Once they’ve been put on, they stay until the wearer’s death, then they return to the proper vaults.” Harry stripped off the dueling robe and laid it on the table. “I’m sorry. It’s old magic and I have no control over it. It’s perfectly safe as long as I wear them. They have no offensive capabilities as far as I know, but they’ll likely hurt anyone who tries to forcibly remove them. As for the glasses, that’s part of the tale. Suffice it to say I no longer need them, though I would prefer Dumbledore not be made aware of that fact just yet.” He pulled off the boots, and placed them next to the cloak. The goblin portkey followed.
“I understand. Sun-Tzu?”
“Just so.” Harry affirmed.
“You won’t be meeting the queen for nearly an hour. Plenty of time to see to the robes and boots. As for the rings, I suppose you’ll have to keep them, though I wish it weren’t necessary. Please, have a seat.” Harry did as the Colonel bade him. Two men in livery offered him some tea. Thanking them, he sipped gratefully.
“Please return the guards’ weapon’s and I’ll have them leave us.”
“They won’t shoot me?”
“Not without orders, and I have ordered them to stand down.”
“Alright…but I’m trusting you. I’ll need my wand.”
McVennon chuckled again, and handed over the wand. Harry noted he kept his hand very near the concealed holster he wore. He released the sticking charm and returned the wand to McVennon. The guards retrieved their rifles, before they left the area. Harry ‘knew’ they were close. Colonel McVennon remained, and kept Harry company.
A woman wearing a pink smock, entered and said: “If you please, Lord Gryffindor, I’d like to try to smooth your hair a bit.”
“If you want to try, go right ahead, but I can tell you now, it’s a lost cause.”
“Well, I’ll try anyway.” She replied with a friendly smile, determined to make this young man presentable for the queen.
McVennon snickered. He had the same kind f hair. The only thing that kept it under control is that he wore it in a crewcut.
The next person to join them was the armourer, who arrived fifteen minutes later. He introduced himself as Michael Gibbons, and immediately groused: “I don’t even know where to begin with this! I’ve never handled a lightsaber before. How do I deactivate it?”
“What for?” Harry asked.
“Lord Gryffindor, you will be meeting with the queen.” McVennon explained. “We cannot allow an unsecured weapon in the room.”
“Oh. OK, let me see it.”
McVennon again rested his hand on his hidden holster. Gibbons handed over the energy weapon and Harry deftly removed the power cell. “There.” He handed the power cell to Gibbons.
Gibbons was dumbfounded. McVennon just roared his laughter.
Waiting in the doorway, was a man holding Harry’s robe. “What it this made of? Our scanners all blew up!”
“It’s the hide from a thousand year old basilisk. I’d say your scanners blew up, because it’s the most magically imbued skin I’ve ever come across…except for a phoenix, I suppose.”
“No. I killed it a few years ago.” That stopped the conversation entirely. This boy had killed a thousand year old snake, that from the size of these beautifully joined pieces of hide, had to be at least five feet across and probably more than sixty feet long!
“How did you kill it?”
“With Gryffindor’s sword. I stabbed through the roof of its mouth into its brain.”
“From inside the mouth…that means you were under it!”
“Not quite, but close. It was just about to bite me. I got it first.” Harry gave a wry smile. “I suppose you could say, it got me last.”
“Got you last? It bit you? Aren’t basilisks supposed to be poisonous?”
“Horribly.” Harry rolled up his right sleeve and displayed the puncture wound he’d gotten. The scarring, a whitish, ragged ‘X’ the size of a fifty pence coin, showed clearly against his skin.
“Before you ask, Fawkes cried into the bite. Phoenix tears have incredible healing powers. He’s the only reason I’m still alive.”
They sipped their tea, and chatted about inconsequentials for a time until a liveried man stepped in and announced: Fifteen minutes, gentlemen.”
“Ah!” McVennon said. “I suppose we’d best be on our way, then. The facilities are in there. If you have to go, I suggest you do so now. Her Majesty does not tolerate late arrivals, nor does she allow those in an audience to leave at their convenience for such mundane matters.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
As they rose from their seats, the hairdresser who had been trying so hard to tame Harry’s unruly locks, finally gave it up as a bad job. When Harry returned from the loo, he buckled on his belt, clipped the now-useless lightsaber to it and donned the cloak, settling it into place with a shrug. McVennon gestured for Harry to precede him.
“Lord Gryffindor, Due to the nature of the abilities you’ve shown and from what I remember of the Star Wars movies, we must consider you to be an exceptionally dangerous individual. Therefore, for the safety of the queen, when you enter the room, you will stop ten feet from Her Majesty, and kneel…both knees. Since you’ve shown yourself able to use the force, I will have my pistol out. Should you make any moves of aggression, I will shoot you immediately. Do you understand?”
Along the way, he had a rather disturbing thought. “Lord Gryffindor?”
“Will that cloak stop a bullet?”
“I’ve never tried, but it probably would.”
“Wonderful.” Came McVennon’s disgusted growl.
Harry was as nervous as he’d ever been. Before him, sat the monarch of Great Britain. He walked to the requisite ten feet and sank to his knees. “Your Majesty, I, Lord Harrison James Potter, Gryffindor, Black, upon my honor, upon my magic, and upon my life, do solemnly swear my personal fealty to the crown.” A brilliant golden glow surrounded Harry and the Queen.
Queen Elizabeth did something no one had ever seen her do. She stood, walked the ten feet to her kneeling subject, gently placed her palms on his head and intoned:
“Lord Harrison James Potter, Gryffindor, Black, we do hereby accept your oath of fealty upon your honor, your magic and your life.” Shocking everyone there, the glow returned, albeit of somewhat lesser brilliance.
The monarch bade him rise, turned to those in the room and ordered: “Clear the room, please! This conversation will be private.”
All her retinue left immediately with the exception of the Queen’s guard.
“You too!” She ordered the small detail.
The Scotsman in command of the guard, one Major Malcolm Bowman, was torn between following his orders and his duty to protect the queen from any attempts on her life. He gestured his men to head toward the door, but bowed to this queen and said: “Your Majesty, I dinna’ mean any disrespect, but yon Lord Gryffindor has a wand, and as I understand, a lightsaber as well. He has displayed abilities we canna’ hope to match. It is our privilege and duty to protect you from all threats even to the cost of our lives and Lord Gryffindor is definitely a threat.”
“We are pleased to find such devotion to our safety, Major Bowman, however, as you said, you cannot hope to match his abilities, so does it really matter whether you are here or not? Moreover, Lord Gryffindor has sworn an oath of fealty, on his honor, his magic and his life. If he even thinks of harming us, his own magic will kill him before he can complete the thought. Please leave. We shall speak to you when we are done here.”
“Excuse me, Your Majesty.” Harry spoke up. “I can fully appreciate how Major Bowman would be nervous knowing his liege is alone with a person of unknown abilities. If it would make him more comfortable about your safety, I will surrender my wand and lightsaber to him, and he can stay here.”
“You wouldn’t mind?”
“Not at all. A faithful man at your side is the greatest comfort a warrior can have. More than that, unnecessary secrecy has already cost both our worlds far too much.” Harry drew his wand and unbelted his lightsaber, handing them both to the Major.
“As you wish. Major, will you bring us a tea?”
“Majesty.” The Scotsman bowed again and backed away, before having his men depart. The doors closed with a soft bump. He immediately made himself busy with the silver tea service.
“He loves you.” Harry smiled sadly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“He loves you. Not a romantic love, but the love of a devoted protector. He wasn’t lying about dying for you. I’d imagine he feels the same about your whole family.”
“Thank you, Lord Gryffindor. That is a great comfort to us. We shall mention his devotion to his commanding officer. In the meantime, please join us.” Harry seated the queen at her table and waited for her permission to sit. She smiled and nodded for him to take the other chair. “Please. Have a seat, Lord Gryffindor.”
“Thank you, Majesty.”
Bowman delivered the tea, filled two cups and departed the table, positioning himself at the doors, far enough away that he couldn’t possibly overhear their conversation.
“Lord Gryffindor, you are an enigma. Albus Dumbledore tells us you are a spoilt boy with delusions of grandeur, but other sources say that you are anything but. You have requested this meeting through channels long unused. Normally we would not even consider it, but Dak Graswold himself has both vouchsafed you as ambassador, and described you as a dedicated warrior. Which is the truth? Spoilt brat or dedicated warrior?
“It really depends upon whom you are asking. Dumbledore has been closely controlling my life since before I was born. Since he wants to maintain that control, he is all for denigrating me to his own ends.”
“Majesty, I’m sure you know my legend.”
“Well, I’m afraid there is much of that legend that has been left unsaid…”
Harry launched into his tale for what seemed the hundredth time, explaining the prophesy, his suspicions about it, and the most likely outcome should Dumbledore remain in control of the wizarding world. He told her who and what Voldemort was. He described his placement with the Dursleys in contravention of all known wizarding laws, by Dumbledore and his life with his abusive relatives, and then his life in the magical world. He told her of his adventures at Hogwarts and his suspicions that they were actually training of a perverse sort, to prepare him to sacrifice his life for Dumbledore’s version of ‘the greater good’. By the time he was done, Queen Elizabeth was seething.
“And knowing of this madman’s aims, he has intentionally kept this from me?” The queen was so irate she forgot the royal plural.
“Majesty, Albus Dumbledore appears to believe that he, and he alone, is wise enough to make the decisions for…pretty much all the world. He’s currently headmaster of the most prestigious school of magic in the country, has direct control over the judicial and legislative branch of the wizarding government and until recently, held an inordinate amount of control over the administrative branch. He is also the head of the primary legislative agency for the wizarding world…the ICW. It is my view that he holds far too much power, for any one person, and given what he’s done not only to me, but also to Riddle, and through the laws he’s written, the general magical population of Britain as well, I’d say he is definitely not working for the good of the community.”
“Very well. What do you intend to do?”
“I intend train a cadre of some sixty people in the Jedi arts to deal with Voldemort. They will be trained to call upon the force in battle and to use a lightsaber. They will also be required to maintain a stringent physical and mental exercise programme. When we are ready, hopefully by mid-June of next year, I will take the best of them and strike at Voldemort’s stronghold. Understand this, though. There will be no mercy. They will be given one chance to surrender and then they will be destroyed.”
“Why killed? Capital punishment has long been repealed”
“Your Majesty, you must understand. These people are arsonists, torturers, rapists and murderers, many times over. They each earned the ‘right’ to bear the dark mark, by first torturing a muggle, usually a young woman or girl, to near insanity, raping her repeatedly and then murdering her, in front of him. They got extra status if they could make it…interesting, for him to watch. Even if they’re caught, as purebloods, their position in society has prevented their being punished. If anything they’re a fined and released. More frequently however they pass a bag of gold to the sitting minister and claim 'Imperius', that's a mind control spell, by the way, or they ‘somehow manage to escape’ from custody. If they are left alive, even if their magicks are somehow drained away, their families will still have the social and political influence in the magical government and the magical world at large, to start over again. These are the same people who continue to introduce legislation to make it legal to hunt muggles for sport. The people who support Voldemort now, also supported Grindelwald, and Rasputin before him. This cannot be allowed to continue! This insanity has to end or the magical world will always be stuck in the eighteenth century, will always look upon the muggles as invading barbarians, and will always support anybody who says they can make the world better by wiping out the muggles entirely.
Dumbledore’s programme of reforming Death Eaters is naive at best and criminal at worst. One cannot redeem those who have deliberately placed themselves beyond redemption. I fully believe this is the only way to both win this war, and hopefully make Britain safe from people like Voldemort in the future.”
Harry stopped, took a sip of his now-cold tea, and added: “This is just like a cancer, and like a cancer it must be excised completely.”
“And in the future?”
“Assuming I survive this, and that is not guaranteed, I intend to destroy Dumbledore’s political power base. He cannot be allowed to regain the control he has. Following that, I intend to try to force the wizarding part of Britain, to form a new representational government that truly supports every magical person in Britain, human or not. After that, I intend to set up a training academy for those who can touch the force. I intend to retrain all of those who joined me in battle into proper Jedi…if they so desire. I would form a council of Jedi and we will function as the Jedi were meant to, as ambassadors, and diplomats, and sometimes peacekeepers. At no time will we interfere with the sovereignty of any nation.”
“Laudable goals.” The queen was impressed. This boy had outlined specific tasks to be accomplished and had dedicated himself to accomplishing them. He’d need support.
“Would you be accountable to the crown?”
“No. That would allow far too much control to a single nation. Instead we would be accountable to a multinational group, consisting of ambassadors from all the nations.”
“The UN, then.”
“God, I hope not!” Harry blurted in distaste. He flushed at her thin smile, and continued: “I beg your pardon. As I was about to say, the UN is completely dominated by three nations, Great Britain being one of them, and seems unwilling, or incapable of taking any decisive action for anything. What I plan to do is locate my academy on an island I own, and train my Jedi there. We will entertain any requests from any nation as to international disputes, but we will not be the world’s police force.”
The queen was impressed by this young man, who bore such a weight on his shoulders. She could see that Albus Dumbledore was wrong. There was nothing at all spoiled about Harry Potter.
She too made a decision.
“Very well. We shall investigate your claims, and if they prove to be valid, how can the crown help you?”
Harry sagged in relief.
“For the most part, nothing. I’m going to be removing myself and my people to a place where we cannot be found, until I’m ready to strike. Madam Bones assures me she will be doing her utmost to discredit the Death Eaters, and has begun to reactivate retired Aurors, as well as putting new recruits through an accelerated training program in order to provide faster response times and to limit the damage the Death Eaters can do. She’s contacted Jean Claude Delacour of France and opened negotiations in case she needs more Aurors in a short time, than are available. Graswold has vowed to restrict their funding as far as feasible. He’s audited the accounts of all those we captured at the Department of Mysteries in June. That means most of Voldemort’s senior lieutenants are nearly penniless.
That’s why I’ve set a limit of a year for training. By June of next year, I intend to entice them to gather together and then hit them when they are. Still, when dealing with such people as Death Eaters, one can never tell if one or more might panic, or attempt to better his position by killing an innocent or holding a hostage. They are terrorists, after all. I will do my very best though. Madam Bones is aware of my plans and will have her Aurors ready to deal with any such last-ditch attacks.
Voldemort will likely execute some raids from time to time, but his senior lieutenants are in prison, and even if they weren’t, without any money, he’ll have a hard time prosecuting even a guerrilla war. It’s especially important to keep your police and military clear, or this could become a muggle/wizard war. That’s the last thing we want. The muggles would win…eventually, but the wizards would do so much damage, it would be a Phyrric victory at best.”
“While wizarding shields can stop an arrow or a musket ball, they’re absolutely worthless against modern automatic weapons, but if a single wizard is killed by a muggle using a gun, the entirety of the wizarding population, probably spurred on by the most influential of the Death Eaters, or even Dumbledore’s ‘carefully worded messages of non-aggression’…that can be taken in any manner the listener sees fit…would turn this into a license to hunt and kill muggles at will. Nobody would be safe. Not men, not women, and not children. Voldemort would certainly order his troops to cause wholescale destruction, rapine and murder wherever they went. Since the Death Eaters…and most adult wizards, for that matter…can make themselves invisible, or nearly so, there would be no stopping them. It would become a bloodbath.”
“I see your point.” Elizabeth was appalled. The death toll would be catastrophic! “What about casualties amongst non-combatants?”
“Until I return from training, that will be mostly in Madam Bone’s hands. She wants to liaise with your government and see how we can work together. When I do return, I will do my best to prevent any, but I cannot guarantee there will be none. As I said, we are dealing with terrorists.”
“Very well, Lord Potter. We shall investigate these claims, and shall give you a response within two weeks.”
“Thank you, Majesty. I have purchased a post owl for you. He’s waiting in the raven’s tower. He will leave the ravens there alone, but please ask the ravenmaster not to bother him. When you need to send a message, just call out the name ‘Horus’ and he will be here directly. If you leave a transom window open he can get through.”
“Thank you Lord Gryffindor. You have given us much to think about.”
“Then I must take my leave of you.”
When the queen nodded, Harry stood and offered his hand to her. She also rose. He backed the requisite three paces, bowed deeply, collected his lightsaber, belt and wand from the Scotsman standing behind him, then turned right and left the room, leaving the Queen with a great deal to think about.
Just after breakfast on the twenty second, Harry kissed Hermione and then descended to the Forge room of Potter Castle. When he’d arrived, a nearly bouncing Dobby, proudly presented the new forges. They looked nothing like the ones they’d put together the week before. They looked heavier and much larger, and were beehive shaped, where before, they were truncated cones.
“They is muchly stronger now. We has improved the ovens to be hotter and hold more pressures. The stones will be the same as before, but should be completed sooner, now.”
“Outstanding job!” Harry was amazed. Dobby flushed in the praise. He almost broke out in wails of praise for his wonderful and most generous master, but held himself back…barely.
“What are those?” Harry pointed to a group of doors at the side of the room.
“Those is ovens to allow the stones to cool slower and even-er.”
“I like it!” Such ovens, would allow the stones to cool without the risk of fractures.
So saying, Harry settled himself in the lotus that was to be his position for the next four or five days. Dobby was on the other side of the forge, nearly hidden by its bulk.
As Harry was about to sink into the force, Dobby ventured a question.
“Mas…Harry Potter sir?”
“Dobby would like to make this first focusing stone for Dobby’s own lightsaber.”
“Really?” Harry was astonished. “You want to come with us?”
“Dobby could not bear to see the great Harry Potter go into battle without Dobby at his side.”
Harry grinned his affection for the odd little elf.
“OK, Dobby, take this.” He handed the lightsaber to the elf.
“Turn it to the side and press the black switch.”
Instantly the emerald beam surged to life. Harry was astounded and Dobby was grinning fit to split his face.
“Well, now that we’re sure, what color would you like your blade to be?” Dobby shyly indicated Harry’s lightsaber, as he shut down the weapon and handed it back.
“Fine. Green it is.”
With that decision made, they both sank into meditation. Harry centered himself in the force to find Dobby waiting. Together, they joined and stretched out their minds into the forge and the raw materials there. Harry showed Dobby how to mix a bit of beryllium oxide, aluminum silicate, corundum, chromium oxides and vanadium, into a white-hot slurry and together they controlled the temperature and pressure needed to turn the dust into a solid emerald.
Hours stretched into days as they two labored in the force. Winky was desperately concerned for her master and her bonded, but Harry’s strict orders to stay out unless the emergency alerts they wore sounded, left her with nothing to do but clean.
Hermione was as concerned, but as she held her lightsaber in her hand; she knew Harry was more than capable of handling this task. She tried to distract Winky with chat, exploring the house-elf bond and it’s ramifications, and eventually the little elf grew a bit calmer.
Dobby and Harry shaved the emerald to the proper shape, and then began to add the carbon. Like Harry’s this would be Dobby’s final stone. More pressure and more time passed before Harry proclaimed the stone finished. Together they ‘looked’ deeply into the crystalline structure of the composite gem. As with Harry’s first, the stone was perfect. He’d done this twice before and so, it was much easier, even having produced two different kinds of stone. Dobby committed all the information to memory and with Harry’s help, began to spin the stone along its axis while Harry used the force to shave it into a perfect cylinder with a truncated cone at it’s focusing end. He showed Dobby how to incise one of the six minute focusing lines along the sides of the cone, and had Dobby complete the other five.
Polishing the front to a crystal clear shine was easy for the elf, who’d grown up doing such tasks, and etching the back and sides of the crystal proved no trouble at all.
Harry shut down the forge and extracted the precious stone, placing it into a regular oven, set at 260º to cool. He’d have to hold it in mid-air for the next several hours until it was no longer able to melt metal, before allowing it to touch anything, lest the stone cracked. Dobby assured him he could take care of that little task and shooed his exhausted master off to bed.
Harry stumbled up the stairs and collapsed into a lounge. Hermione was immediately at his side, and Winky held out a restorative draught.
Harry took it and tossed it back without even tasting it. Kissing his love warmly, but told her: “No playtime today. I need sleep.” His eyes closed and both ladies knew he’d be out for a day or more.
Floating him to bed, Hermione stripped him and covered him in a blanket, before returning to her counterpart.
“Let’s see if we can get Dobby to sleep, now.”
In the Forge room, Dobby was nearly as spent. Winky spoke.
“Dobby. You must sleep! You is all wore out.”
“Dobby cannot sleep just yet.” He replied in a whispery voice. “Dobby must hold the gem in the air until it has cooled, before Dobby can sleep.”
“Fool elf!” Winky growled. “Winky is well able to do that. Give Winky the stone and you - go - to - bed!”
Dobby gulped, then showed her how to hold the stone before climbing the steps.
“Winky?” Hermione ventured. “Why didn’t Dobby just pop out like he usually does?”
“Dobby is very tired. Such concentration, even for a elf is wearying. He must rest, before he can pop.”
“Good morning, Harry Potter.” Dobby greeted his master a day later. Both had slept for nearly a day and had been force-fed restorative potions. Now they were both ensconced in the master suite of Potter Castle, being tended by their respective mates.
“Good morning, Dobby.” He returned, then groaned: "We need to figure out a way to do this without nearly killing ourselves each time.”
Hermione sat on the edge of Harry’s bed and ventured: “How about having two people do the work on each stone?”
“While that is a good idea, I don’t think it will work. While Dobby and I were in a mind-link throughout the process, it still took nearly the whole five days. Now you know I’m probably one of the most powerful wizards on Earth, but I’m nowhere near as powerful as Dobby. This wore us both out.”
“Harry, did you make the diamond encased citrine, or just the citrine?”
“Shit! You’re right! I forgot about that. Oh, by the way, it was an emerald. Dobby insisted on that. Making the inner stone only took a couple days. It was making the diamond shell that took so long!”
“That and you were teaching him. That means everything was done twice over. You’ll still have to show him how to make the single stone.”
“Yeah, but now we can finish them outside the forges, that’ll cut down the time too. After each stone is inspected for flaws, the elf making it can rest, while another takes over, spins and shapes it. That elf can also cut the focusing grooves and polish the lens. Then it can be removed from the forge and held in one of the ovens until it cools enough to leave on a surface. When that’s done, all that remains is etching and silvering the back and sides. The really hard stuff, can take the time, because the rest is assembly line work! Have I mentioned how much I love you?”
“Once or twice, I suppose.”
A/N: Cooler is purely relative. Since it requires 3500-4000º and five hundred tonnes to the square centimeter to create a synthetic gem, anything less than that is 'cooler'. 260º C is 500º F. It’s still hot enough to give a nasty burn…or broil a roast.
Cygnet Royal hospital is a psychiatric hospital in London.
The Art of War, by Su-Tzu, being considered a prime example of Taoist military strategy, business management, public administration and planning, is a guidebook of rules to follow for generals and the like who actually want to win a war with minimal casualties. It’s as appropriate now as it was when he wrote it.
The text outlines theories of battle but also advocates diplomacy and cultivating relationships with other nations as essential to the health of a state
In it, are three of my favorite thoughts: “All warfare is based upon deception.”, “Never leave the enemy anything he can use.” and: “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.”