Hermione has a birthday, Dumbley orders a potion made, Voldy gives a special ingredient, Harry makes some Buckyballs, lightsabers are issued and training begins. Snape's potion has an 'accident a...
Cheers and well wishes resounded through the room, and Hermione flushed deeply.
“Tonight after supper, we’ll have a party.”
More cheers sounded. Harry waited them out, and then continued.
“I just thought of something. How many people here, are born in September?” Half dozen hands went up.
“October?” Five more hands, including Luna’s.
November and December showed similar results.
“That’s what I figured. Now, I can’t suspend training for each birthday celebration, but I can arrange for a mass party in the middle of each month, for all those born in that month. How’s that sound?”
The Jedi students all loudly showed their appreciation. Harry smiled. “OK, I’ll place a roster on my door. Put your names on the page with the corresponding month and we’ll arrange a party for the lot of you. Tonight will be the party for September. I know it’s short notice, but those of you, who want to buy presents for your friends, tell Dobby what you want, and where to get it. He’ll take your money and buy it, then bring it here. The same goes for Christmas, if you celebrate it.”
Again, cheers resounded throughout the dining hall. Dobby and several of his brethren were kept busy finding gifts.
That evening, Hermione was blushing as the birthday song was sung. She wasn’t alone. Kevin Entwhistle, Orla Quirke, Anna and Anika Montgomery, and Liam O’Lorcain, shared the spotlight. A huge cake with all of the celebrant’s names on it was cut and gifts were presented. Games and frivolity followed until Harry called a halt at ten, and sent them to bed. Relaxing bath salts and massage oils seemed to be a favorite gift.
Hermione kissed him soundly that night, saying: “Thank you, my love.” and they fell into bed together.
Needless to say, neither they nor Voldemort got much sleep that night. They shared in their love and once again, he used all the headache potion Snape had prepared for him.
Albus Dumbledore entered the dungeon at nine, to find his potions’ master instructing his selected Slytherin students, all children of Death Eaters, in the proper brewing of potions. This was a class he reserved for these few snakes, as his master wanted the mudbloods and blood traitors kept ignorant.
Albus watched for a time, and when a suitable point for pause had presented itself, he took the snarky head of Slytherin house aside and spoke quietly with him.
“Severus, I believe I have a way to return Mister Potter to my control.”
At the name ‘Potter’, Snape’s blood pressure began to climb. ~And it was such a lovely evening, too!~ He groused to himself.
“Head master, is that truly necessary? After all, he is in hiding, and until he is located, we can spend the time instructing more valuable students.”
Dumbledore sighed in frustration at his minion’s childishness. “Severus, without Harry to thwart him, Tom will win this war. Everything hangs in the balance. Should Voldemort win, the wizarding world as we know it, will end. You know as well as I do, that Tom is quite insane. Once he has consolidated his power here he will most assuredly turn his lust for conquest to the continent, and when he has Europe, he will want the rest of the world. He has long since abandoned his humanity, and so, left to his foibles, the future for all mankind, wizard or not, will be dire. Harry is the key to stopping him…but only if he follows my plan, exactly. For him to do otherwise would be disaster, for now that the bindings I had placed on him have been broken, he is as magically powerful as Tom or myself, and if he survives the destruction of Lord Voldemort, neither you, nor I would be able to properly control him. I must reassert my control now, and replace those bindings!”
Despite himself, Snape was appalled! That Potter of all people would be that powerful was beyond terrifying! Feigning the proper servility to his erstwhile master, Snape asked: “What would you have me do, Headmaster?”
“I want you to brew the Venenum Imperator.”
Snape was shocked. Even the dark lord had never asked him to brew the archaic and hideously complex potion. It was guaranteed, but there were many other cheaper and simpler to use methods to control his victims.
Venenum Imperator would render the imbiber a mindless hulk, subject to whatever commands the controller gave, but otherwise unable to act, even in the simplest of things. He would become, for all intents, a living automaton. After a month or so, it would also render the drinker quite dead.
Snape was positively giddy at the thought. Returning to the classroom, he dismissed his students and escorted the headmaster to his private potions lab.
Together the alchemist and the potioneer gathered the many dozens of items needed to create the controlling potion. It wasn’t particularly expensive, and Snape had all the requisite ingredients on hand, but it was horribly finicky, requiring a timing and precision that would put a Swiss watchmaker to shame.
For the next eight days, timing and attention would be absolutely critical. Dumbledore would teach his class, until he’d finished and rested sufficiently, for he’d have to be awake and functional for most of those eight days…using potions as needed, to keep himself going.
An hour after Dumbledore had retired, Snape grabbed another phial of the pain relief potion he’d brewed for the dark lord’s incessant headaches. This batch was nearly twenty percent stronger than the last. He slipped through the castle, avoiding the teachers on their patrols and most especially Filch and that thrice-benighted cat, until he reached one of the many hidden tunnels leading away from the castle. There, he pressed the stone unlocking the door, and darted inside.
Racing through the tunnel, he soon found himself in a small cabin, long deserted. He straightened his clothing and apparated to Riddle Manor.
There, he prostrated himself at his master’s feet, and awaited Voldemort’s pleasure.
“Rise, my friend.” Voldemort’s voice was somewhat shaky. “You have news?” He reached out his hand for the phial Snape carried, and as soon as it was in his palm, took a healthy swig. Severus was about to object due to the nature of the painkiller, but recalled all too clearly what had happened the last time he’d done so. He had no wish to relive that painful experience. After all, the dark lord was a big boy now, wasn’t he?
“My lord, Dumbledore has asked me to brew the Venenum Imperator!”
Not often surprised, Voldemort paused. “Truly?”
“Yes, my lord. He wants the boy back under his control by any means necessary.”
“I see. And what of the result, should he have his wish?”
“Potter would be under his complete control. He wouldn’t be able to visit the loo without instructions.”
“While no doubt, seeing that is one of your fondest dreams, tell me why this should be of concern to me.”
“Master, under that potion, Potter would become a mindless automaton. Dumbledore is most likely aware of your general location. I believe he has foregone his usual machinations, and has decided to take a more direct approach. A simple exploding hex on Potter’s body and he becomes a walking bomb. Once he is certain of your location, a portkey targeted to bring Potter to you would ensure that when Potter died, you would join him.”
“That does seem rather direct, doesn’t it? Not at all like Albus.”
“I believe with all the political and economic blows he’s taken lately…at Potter’s hand, I might add, he has at long last, slipped his grasp on reality. He no longer wishes to play the game and so, has taken steps to end it.”
“I agree.” Voldemort replied, then mused out loud. “I wonder if I can make the ending more ‘interesting’?”
“Wait here. I have a little gift for Dumbledore.”
Intrigued by his master’s statement, Snape remained behind as Voldemort left the room.
Within five minutes he was back bearing a small wooden box, the size of a deck of tarot cards. Opening it, he showed Snape some shriveled up fungi.
“This, my friend is an hallucinogenic fungus called psilocybin. As I recall, the Venenum Imperator is composed primarily of alkaloids. One more would not be amiss. As soon as Potter drinks the potion, you will give him some ‘colorful’ instructions. Dumbledore will have to destroy his own weapon in order to protect himself from its deadly effects!”
“As you wish, Master.” Snape replied calmly. Inside, however, he was dancing a happy dance that would have shocked the life from anyone who’d seen it!
“You may go.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Snape backed up and then turned to leave.
Behind him, Voldemort chuckled. “Excellent! All is proceeding as I have foreseen it!”
Hermione entered the lab, and saw Harry bent over the eyepieces of a small electron microscope. Next to the device, was an enclosed carbon arc. She could clearly hear the hum of the high-voltage device and through the heavily shielded window, she could see the actinic flare of the arc.
“Hey Harry.” She chirped. “What are you up to?
“Ooh! I’ve read all about those!”
“Probably.” He laughed, earning himself a swat.
“Why are you making Buckyballs?"
“Minerva sent me a note. Snape is being an arse…again. Through all of last week, he’s ‘accidentally’ bumped twenty-seven of the students’ potions samples to the floor. Interestingly enough, the only one’s he didn’t destroy were the Slytherins’ samples. Those who objected, lost house points and got detentions. I’d say the dungeon is as clean as the day it was built. Over the last month, he’s destroyed more than a hundred potions samples, none of them being for his snakes. The students have complained, to their heads of house, who’ve brought those complaints to Dumbledore, but Ol’ Twinkles has refused to take any actions whatsoever, telling the heads that Snape has the right to ‘deal with his students’ in any manner he wishes, just so long as the school rules are followed. Minerva asked him if it was allowable for a professor to be a bully and a coward, which led to Dumbledore chiding her for being unprofessional, pot and kettle territory there, y’ask me, and Snape taking even more points. Since he’s decided to continue to be such an arse, I’ve decided it’s time he learned how it feels to have a time-intensive potion ruined by someone.”
“Harry!” Hermione was shocked. Not at Snape, but at Harry. “Some of the potions he makes are very dangerous…” then she blushed, thinking about what she was saying.
“And?” Harry drew out the word with a smirk.
“Mmm. Just saying.” She managed to stammer out, her face beetroot red.
Harry turned from his work and wrapped his arms around her. “That’s one of the things I love most about you, Hermione. You’re always thinking about others. Even those who don’t deserve your consideration. As it is, Dobby brought me the information that Snape is brewing a wholly illegal control portion for Dumblemort, called Venenum Imperator, intended for yours truly, so I really have no problem destroying this particular potion.”
“It’s also called liquid Imperius.”
Understanding what Harry was saying, Hermione’s temper flared. She struggled to control herself before asking: “Can I help?”
“Don’t ever change, love.” Harry laughed. He pulled her onto his lap and kissed her deeply as the Buckyballs continued to make themselves.
Seven minutes, thirty-two seconds later, a soft chime interrupted their snog.
Harry regretfully disengaged and turned to his machine. Seeing the requisite number had been reached, he dedicated the machine to creating several pounds worth of the frictionless molecules, and carefully removed a sample for his intended mayhem.
Dobby appeared during supper that evening and informed Harry that their special project was nearing completion. The special crystals had been grown and balanced and the three elves who’d done them were soundly sleeping. Harry thanked his friend and after supper they went to inspect this new device.
In the huge equipment shed, the tunneling machine waited.
“How long before it’s ready to use?” He asked Stokes, the elf with the most experience at machinery.
“A week.” The elf answered. Unlike most elves, Stokes was not sycophantic. He was helpful and friendly, knew his business and did it well, but he would not be hurried, especially with a device as potentially deadly as this one could be.
“Thanks, Stokes. I’ll be back in a week or so.” He smiled. Another of the many details was about to be taken care of. He and Dobby left the large machine and it’s builder behind as he returned to the castle.
On the morning of the 22nd, Harry stood and addressed his troops. He was amazed at their improvement, especially given such a short time in training. Each student there was standing tall, proud of their achievements…and those achievements had been many. Physically they couldn’t compete with the SAS, or even the regular army, but in a combat situation between themselves and the Deez, they’d win, hands down. Their mental discipline was nearly as impressive, and their ability to touch the force was improving by the day. Each and every one had begun the Occlumency training, and several already had some fine shields. A dedicated legillimens could break in, but each of them would know, and know what to do about it.
Yes, Harry was very proud.
“Today is Mabon. The autumnal equinox. Tomorrow, the darkness will begin to overwhelm the light. Dr. Granger tells me you lot, are in what he calls ‘merely poor physical condition’, which is a nice little step up from ‘utterly pathetic’.”
Chuckles followed, as Mackenzie had made it clearly understood how pathetic he thought they were. Still they could see ‘the evil, sadistic bastard’ was as proud of their achievements as they were.
“Since each of you has managed to run the ‘nature trail’ in under eight minutes, I have decided to do a few things. First, will be to make the trail…longer!”
Groans and curses greeted his announcement. Harry smiled. “Tomorrow, the trail will go from two kilometers to five.” Before the swearing could begin, he added: “In addition, we’ve added an obstacle course! It’s lots of fun! Swings and logs and ropes and ladders and such. You’re gonna love it!”
Several of the mugglebornes paled at the announcement. The rest of the students followed suit when they saw the nearly insane grin on Harry’s face! Behind him, Mackenzie was grinning as well…something they all knew could bode no good!
Now, third, I have a real treat for you.” Some of the students seemed to wilt at this. Harry’s idea of ‘treat’ usually involved lots of sweat and muscle aches. The last ‘treat’ had been the introduction, two weeks before, of the hand-to-hand combat lessons on their meditation days! Tonks was as brutal in her idea of training as Mackenzie was, and worse, Harry, Mackenzie and Remus were right beside her, grinning like lunatics!
“Bring them in, Dobby.”
The elf floated in a large tray loaded with sixty of the silver and black weapons, and set it on the table. Hermione opened a notebook and grabbed a pen, Judith held a sheaf of paper forms, and Dobby stood by the tray of weapons.
The room fell deathly quiet.
Harry picked up one of the Jedi weapons, and continued.
“Each of these lightsabers is identical. It was faster and more efficient for me to make them all from a single pattern. When I decide you’re ready, your final exam, as it were, will be to build one of your own.
As it is, these are loaners. When you’ve built your own, you will return the one you were issued to me, for refurbishing and re-issue to the next group.
Functionally and mechanically, they are the same as mine, though you’ll notice they have yellow blades instead.” He thumbed the weapon’s activation switch. With it’s usual snap-hiss, the golden beam flared to life. “Also unlike mine, they do not have blade power and length adjustments. I’ve designed these to be permanently in training mode, so you lot, don’t kill each other.” He shut the golden blade down.
“While I have no doubts as to each of your commitments, we must take personalities into consideration, and yes, Gred and Forge, I am talking to the two of you. Pranks are a lot of fun, I enjoy them myself, but I expect you to keep these lightsabers out of your pranking…period. As McGonagall once said: “There is no more difficult or dangerous area to study.” These are deadly weapons that have been modified to be somewhat less deadly. When you are dealing with an energy blade that can lop off a limb in less than a second, there is absolutely no room for carelessness or stupidity. Just in case any of you are thinking of testing me, these are all serialized, and each has a specific energy pattern, imparted by the focusing crystals. Those patterns have been recorded and are locked into my safe. This…” He held up a small black box with a green screen and silver trim. “Is an energy spectrum analyzer. It can detect and identify who has done what, with which blade, to whom!”
Harry ran a critical eye over the group, again making eye contact with each and every person there.
“Do not fuck around with them. Anybody who does, even once, goes into the tanks.”
Every person there could see he was as serious as a heart attack.
“Now, form a line and come up here.”
One by one, they filed up to the table. As each did, Hermione picked up a lightsaber, noted a serial number on a sheet of parchment and gave it to Judith who had the student sign for the weapon before passing it to Harry. At the end of the table, Harry handed the weapon to the student and then, had him or her demonstrate, more to themselves than to him, that they could use the force, by simply turning it on. Harry had included a safety into each weapon’s construction, to preclude anyone not able to touch the force from using it. This was in case a blade was dropped or fell and a Death Eater picked it up. It wasn’t perfect, as a few of the Deez might be able to touch the force, but it was all they had.
Blade after blade flashed into golden light. Each student wore the same silly grin.
“All right!” He called when they had all received their weapons. “Spread out to two blade lengths between each of you in any direction.”
The students spaced themselves and Harry had them unclip their weapons. Behind him Winky led Amelia Bones into the room.
Amelia watched curiously as Harry stood before his students and began to show them the basic lightsaber form. Each of them held a lightsaber Harry had constructed. The only difference she could see between theirs and the one he carried were the yellow blades.
She’d heard him explain why their weapons were different, but didn’t understand a word of it. Still, she was happy to see he’d taken precautions to prevent them from killing themselves. Now she watched and listened.
“All right. From here on in, your training will be with a lighted weapon. I cannot teach you to respect the blade if there is no blade. Understand this, though; you should always treat a lightsaber as if it’s at full combat power…even when you know it isn’t. It’s easier to avoid mistakes if you respect the weapon and understand the damage it can do.”
“What do you mean Harry?” Ron asked.
“You remember my saying a lightsaber beam can take off a limb?”
They all nodded.
Harry lifted a head sized piece of granite and tossed it into the air. His lightsaber surged to life. An invisibly fast slice followed by another, and the four smoking pieces, fell to the floor with loud thumps. Cries of astonishment and not a few swearwords followed the demonstration.
“That’s exactly how fast it will happen. That was granite…one of the densest materials on this planet. Your bodies are far less dense than rock. At full power, an accident in training would leave someone without a limb, or dead, just - like - that. The lower power setting will give you a burn, but won’t amputate a limb…or kill you.”
Amelia nodded her head in agreement. Alastor Moody was hell on wheels about wand safety…of course that could be because he blew a hole in his arse when they were both tyros, but she agreed that too many others failed to treat the wand as a deadly weapon.
“Now, this is Shii-Cho. The form of determination. Position, one: Attack. Place your feet here and here. Left foot leads, toes straight out, right foot braces, toes to the side. And hold your lightsaber like so.” He demonstrated the proper grip with his glowing weapon. The students copied him with various degrees of accuracy. Hermione, Luna, Remus, Susan and Tonks wandered through the group correcting grips and stances.
“Good. Now the first sequence is up, past the vertical on the right and over your shoulder, then down in a slash from right to left. While you strike, raise your body up on your back toes and flex your front knee. This is called ‘sky to ground’.” Harry demonstrated slowly for them to copy. Most got it immediately but one or two were rather hesitant. Harry called a halt and spoke.
“You have to strike like you mean it.” He chided gently. “Remember, the basic function of the lightsaber is as a melee weapon. A lack of conviction on your part, can lead to one of your friends being killed. It’s simple as that. You are training for close combat. If you cannot bring yourself to do that, then you shouldn’t be here.”
Harry showed them the move again. This time, it went much better.
“Good.” Harry praised. “Again.”
Again, his students began in the basic form, drawing their blades across, up and then into a slash.
His class drew their weapons up over their shoulders and brought them down sharply. Harry smiled inwardly. Even at the very first, their form was very good. It was only the muscle memory and endurance they needed.
They lifted the lightsabers and slashed down.
They repeated the stroke.
“Why does it…seem to fight me?” Ginny asked. Harry called a halt and had them shut down their weapons.
“That’s the magnetic field that causes the energy to arc back into the blade. Because there are two fields, each rotating in opposite directions there’s going to be some gyroscopic precession. While technically weightless, the blade will still resist changes in motion and direction. You’ll be able to control this with time and practice.” Harry assured her.
“In addition, since slashes are the most common blade movement, at least in this form and a few others, you will need to overcome inertia to cut through solid objects. Such objects, including the very air around us, will repel the blade arc until they’re changed to gas or plasma, therefore, inertia is required to counteract the initial repelling force. The stronger you swing, the faster and easier your blade will cut through. If you only use a little power in your swing, the blade will only make a shallow cut. That’s what I meant when I said you have to ‘mean it’. When two lightsaber blades come into contact with each other, the two magnetic fields create a repelling force that makes the blade feel like it’s hitting something solid. Eventually, you’ll be dueling each other and you’ll see this for yourselves.”
Harry had them reactivate their weapons and again set to work.
Over and over they practiced that one movement while Harry and his core group carefully perfected their motion, stance or grip. Soon shoulders were far beyond aching.
“Harry, this really hurts!” Hannah complained, rolling her shoulders.
“It’s supposed to.”
“What do you mean?” Daphne asked.
“Shut down.” He ordered. One after the other, the blades vanished. “While you have begun to condition your bodies, you lot, are seriously out of shape. As you’ve seen over the past few weeks, that’s going to take time and hard exercise to correct. Unfortunately, force or not, there are no shortcuts. We have next to no time to get you all up to speed. If you perform like most of you did in the DA, you’ll have no problems, but I hope to get you qualified at least in Shii-Cho, Makashi and Soresu, and hopefully Ataru, before we strike. Believe me, I’m asking for a lot. But if I didn’t think you were capable, you wouldn’t be here. We don’t have the time to do this right, so we have to concentrate on physical conditioning and mental protection, on reaching into the force, and on lightsaber combat. You’re going to be practicing with your lightsaber at least six hours every day. You’ll also be running up to five miles every other day or swimming up to three, running the grinder, and performing calisthenics that are going to make you cry. Your katas will get more and more complex as you go. We’ll be learning at least two sets of attack and defend positions, both hands, each day and I’ll expect you to remember each and every one of them. In time, you’ll learn to call upon the force to help and guide you in your studies, but until then, it’s gonna be damn hard!”
Harry waited for a few seconds to allow this to sink in.
“My only consolation…is that in the end, if we win, it’ll all be worth it. Voldemort and his Death Eaters will be gone.
Should we survive this, and you wish to continue, I will take you on as special apprentices for the full time, until you become Knights.
Now, Shii-Cho is the most basic form of lightsaber training. This form has over a hundred different attacks and blocks…right handed. Then you have the left-handed variants. We’re going to alternate each attack and defend pair, right and left hand, as you must know both. Each new position or movement is going to cause different sets of muscles to ache, but you must learn every single one of them. I hope to have you each qualified in Shii-Cho within three months.
The reason we practice over and over again, is to ensure that when we are nearly unconscious with fatigue, or just coming out of the water after having swum three miles, or running five, or ten, we can still be ready to use our lightsabers instantly, to protect ourselves or others from harm, even without calling on the force.
This is why Shii-Cho is called ‘the determination form’. This is where we find if you have the determination to continue…because the rest of the training is even harder.
You’ll also be learning to call upon the force to enhance your speed and strength. You’ll be able to use it to move things telekinetically…”
“You mean like what Vader did to Luke.” Dean piped up.
“Precisely. That was Lus-Ma, an aggressive use of the force to telekinetically throw things at him in order to distract and confuse him. Once you get good enough, you can call upon the force to protect you even if you don’t notice a threat. For instance, a Death Eater fires a spell at you from behind. He’ll have barely cast it before your blade is in position to deflect it. The force is one with you, and when you become one with the force you’ll be able to do a great many things.”
Harry noticed his group had relaxed, and he needed them to be alert.
“Now that the lecture is over, we begin again. Shii-Cho. Position one: Attack. Begin.”
After another fifty repetitions, Harry taught them a new move.
“All right. Now, position one: defend. Keep your feet in the same position, like so. Left foot to the front, right foot to the rear. Front foot pointed forward and slightly to the right, rear foot to the right and slightly forward. Right elbow up…higher. Left elbow firm against your side. The lightsaber will be pointed to the ground on your left side, about fourty five degrees down and out. This is the first blocking position. Now. Assume the starting position…good. Now, sky to ground strike…OK Go to position one; block. Good. Now, start again.”
The students carefully followed Harry’s orders, performing the sequence as he instructed.
Over and over they repeated the exercise until muscles were screaming. Then, Harry effortlessly knocked the lightsabers from several of the students’ hands.
“What?” Several cried out. Some were angry, some were shocked, a couple were almost in tears.
“Calm down people. I did that so you can understand why you need to train. Your muscles hurt like fire, don’t they? And one day, this will save your life. One day, when you are utterly exhausted, and you think you have nothing more to give, your muscles will remember this and on that day, you will understand fully, why I have made you burn.”
Harry looked at his watch. They’d been at this for almost two hours.
“Let’s all take a break. Fifteen minutes. Visit the loo, have some water and choke down a protein bar. When we return, we begin position one: attack…left hand.” Harry turned and left the room.
Amelia met him in the hallway.
“An excellent lesson, Harry. I have to return to the ministry now, but in the near future, I’d like to have Kingsley sit in and observe. Perhaps he can adapt some of your training techniques for the Aurors. They’ve gotten arrogant and sloppy over the past years and it’s time someone knocked the starch out of them.”
“Can he be trusted?”
“I think so. I’ve asked him to remain in the order, for the time being, so as to keep an eye on Dumbledore, but lately all they’ve done is argue about how to find you.”
“Hmmm.” Harry muttered. “Well, it’s nice to be loved, I suppose.”
With a chuckle, Amelia said her good-byes. Dobby took her hand and together, they vanished.
At eleven thirty, a disillusioned Lucius watched as Amelia sat to her dinner. The dark lord had decided that Mabon would be a perfect day for the darkness to conquer the light…beginning with the death of the minister.
~Last meal, indeed!~ He sneered the thought. He left the room and floo-called the master’s home. Thorfinn Rowle was waiting and as soon as Lucius reported that the target was in position at site number two, he closed the connection.
Lucius made his way back towards the tearoom making certain he was unseen by any of the ministry drones.
Rowle reported to Voldemort, who called his six ‘volunteers’ to his side. There he handed out the six synchronous portkeys to his well-trained crew. Each knew exactly what to do, and each understood the price of failure.
As instructed, the Six Death Eaters used their portkeys, and appeared in a circle around the minister. As one they raised their wands and shouted: “Avada Kedavra!”
As instructed in July, Tootles had been watching over her mistress. She popped in, as the Deez arrived, grabbed Amelia’s arm and popped away again, just as they yelled the killing curse.
Six dead terrorists fell to the floor of the ministry tearoom, still in perfect formation.
Alarms clamored at the disruption of the protective wards around the Ministry Building.
Kingsley who had been standing at the door, watching the hallway, was there in a second. Screams sounded from the shocked and frightened employees. Connie Hammer was laughing her arse off, while she and the other three members of the personal security team were covering the room with drawn wands. Truth be told, if it wasn’t so serious, he’d be laughing too.
“All right, everybody! Calm down!” He ordered. “Shaddap, Hammer! Now, who saw what?”
A cacophony answered him.
“ONE AT A TIME!” He bellowed as well as any drill instructor. Silence fell.
From the doorway a familiar voice answered. “It appears that there’s been another attempt to assassinate me. A surprisingly well designed and executed one.”
Amelia Bones entered the room and sauntered over to the table. Her tea had spilled and her sandwich was sopping.
“Damn!” She cursed quietly. Casting a drying charm on the soaked bread, did nothing for her appetite. Immediately Tootles appeared with a new plate and whisked the old one away, before vanishing again.
“Take these idiots to the morgue and try to find out who they were.” She gestured to the fallen terrorists. It wasn’t likely any of them would have a nametag sewn into their robes, but perhaps she would get lucky.
Tootles reappeared and stood glaring until she resumed her seat and began to eat.
In the corridor, outside the tearoom, the invisible Lucius arrived, hoping to see the panic caused by the Minister’s death. Instead, he saw the bodies of six of his fellows, cloaked and masked, floating along, accompanied by ten or more armed and very ready Aurors.
Several of the Aurors sent searching looks in his general direction.
~How does she do that?~ He wondered.
A sense of bleak foreboding gripped the Death Eater, as he anticipated the unrelenting agony he was about to suffer. He waited until the Aurors had cleared the hallway before he made his way back to the atrium. There, he immediately realized his error. The atrium was swarming with Aurors, most of which were those miserable French Gendarmes that Bones had hired. He ducked into a side hall that led to building maintenance in the lower levels. Finding the office unoccupied, Lucius slipped through he doorway in the back, into the waste processing facility. Casting a bubblehead charm against the stench, he opened the huge effluent outflow pipe and waded through the disgusting mess past the detection and muggle repelling charms, and into the city sewers, and from there, apparated to Malfoy Manor to clean up before attending his master.
That afternoon was filled with lightsabers, swinging and blocking until the students were groaning in pain.
Harry knew he stood to lose them if he didn’t show them something ‘cool’ so at the end of the afternoon’s training, he and Mackenzie once more took the stage.
“I know you all hurt. That’s to be expected. It’s also absolutely necessary. Just like in spell-casting, first you must develop accuracy. Next, power and finally speed. You will hear me say that until it’s coming out of your ears. It’s nevertheless true. Accuracy, power, speed. Any missing steps and you have disaster. It’s as simple as that. Now you’ve learned two attacks and blocks with either hand. Tomorrow, we’ll review them, and then go on to the next ones.
In the meantime, here’s a little demonstration of what you’re gonna be learning over the next few months. Mack?”
He handed his lightsaber to Mackenzie while accepting the other man’s golden blade. Each turned the received weapon on and checked the power setting. Even though Mackenzie’s lightsaber was a ‘training only’ unit he checked anyway. He watched carefully, as Mackenzie adjusted his weapon to minimal power and locked it there. Done, they traded their weapons again and relit them. Now Harry had his own blade, and ensured Mack had adjusted and locked it properly.
He had. Turning to his audience, he spoke.
“There is a little glowing strip across the top of your lightsaber with a series of numbers from one to nine. This is the power status indicator.” He pointed to the indicator. “The little green light is currently set on number one. It should stay there but, each and every time you spar, you will trade blades with your partners, check them to ensure they are at the correct setting. Then you will trade back and check them again. I want no accidents here, and this is the fastest, and easiest way to make sure there are none. If there is any discrepancy, any at all, you will call a halt to the training, no matter what you are doing and bring the weapon to me or to one of your instructors, without fail.” Harry leaned into the force to add support to his order.
Stepping back, Harry turned to Mackenzie. They saluted each other and began.
Shii-Cho is a particularly violent form of lightsaber combat, filled with swings and slashes, blows and strikes. It has its weaknesses, yes, but in this case, those weaknesses were the inexperience of the two using it. Harry’s deeper connection to the force was his advantage, whereas Mackenzie’s was his experience with the Katana, a weapon used in much the same fashion as a lightsaber.
Like it’s close cousin Soresu, Shii-Cho is a powerful form intended to generate the optimum physical results from its wielders. As such, it’s particularly well suited to demonstrations where there is a need to impress someone.
For nearly ten minutes, the energy blades clashed again and again as Harry and Mackenzie went through the entirety of the Shii-Cho, regimen. Finally, Harry called a halt, and stepped back. He saluted his opponent, received the return salute, and shut down his blade. Mack’s blade vanished in a hiss at the same time.
Sweating freely, he addressed he enthralled group. “In time, each of you will be able to do the very same thing.”
The applause was deafening.
Giving them a minute or so to celebrate, Harry finally held up his hands for silence, then continued: “Mack, you have demonstrated the necessary proficiency in Shii-Cho. You are now advanced to Makashi.” He touched the tabs on Mack’s shoulders with his wand, and they turned from tan to a bright mustard yellow.
Again, the hall erupted in cheers.
The next week passed, with the new Jedi learning more every day. Sometimes the lessons were hammered home by the things they failed to do.
Their first day on the grinder was an unmitigated disaster. Other than Harry and his lieutenants, not a one of them managed to make it through. Different muscle groups were used on an obstacle course, than while running, even running through a nature trail, and so, the students were more than a little disgusted with themselves. That evening, Harry stood once again and addressed his crestfallen Jedi.
“I know you lot feel like shit. There’s no reason. That obstacle course was designed to be as difficult as possible. Dr. Granger’s the only one who actually likes it, but we all know how crazy Mack is.”
Chuckles came from the students and an outraged glare from Mackenzie.
“Now, as I see it, the primary reason you lot killed yourselves today, is that you tried to get through it at full speed. Like everything else, this is going to take time and practice. The day after tomorrow, we’re going to run it again, but this time we’re going to run it at the pace that makes you most comfortable…but I don’t mean walking it! Harry’s eyes rested momentarily on a certain redhead.
Accuracy first…” He began a liturgy they had become all too familiar with.
“Power next and finally speed!” They chanted the refrain.
“Good!” He grinned.
At two in the morning on the twenty-seventh, Dobby popped into Snape’s office and seeing as the room was deserted, he grinned evilly at the huge, ornate desk that was Severus’ seat of power. He snapped his fingers and the legs on the left side of the desk shrank exactly one inch. He shook a spray bottle filled with alcohol and the nearly invisible mass of Buckyballs, suspending the frictionless molecules in the alcohol, before spraying the mixture onto the top of the desk. Within a minute the alcohol had evaporated, leaving behind the deposited instrument of sabotage. He resprayed several times until he was certain the slippery molecules had been evenly distributed. Dobby watched until the alcohol was satisfactorily dried, tested the surface by sliding his hand across the now-frictionless desktop, and satisfied with the results, resprayed one more time…just to be certain, before he vanished.
He reappeared in the headmaster’s office, and deftly poured the floo powder from the ornate brass urn on the mantelpiece into a bag he carried, and refilled the vessel with the floo powder/gunpowder mixture in another bag.
With his work done, he grinned and vanished.
At five, the exhausted Severus Snape started at the sound of his alarm. In the past eight days, he’d gotten less than two hours of actual sleep, and he’d been nodding off despite the potions he’d been taking to keep himself alert. He knew this stage was critical, and so, quaffed another stimulant.
He entered his private lab and carefully checked the simmering potion to see it was precisely where it was supposed to be. It was, of course. He was a potions master after all.
Smirking with the satisfaction of knowing that soon the spawn of James Potter would be nothing but a meat-based automaton…and within a month…dead, Severus sifted in the powdered essences of Aconite and Belladonna, stirring widdershins for ninety-nine full revolutions.
Twelve minutes later, he added the tincture of Bloodwort. Stirring thrice clockwise then three times widdershins, he dissolved the alcoholic base into the potion. He repeated the stirrings three times each before turning the flame down once again.
Turning to the table, he began to carefully mince, and then purée, the ‘special’ psilocybin mushroom Voldemort had so kindly given him. It would be undetectable in the potion, unless the observer knew precisely what to look for, but with the proper trigger-words, it would definitely provide an ‘interesting’ reaction in Potter. Dumbledore would fail, Potter would die and The Dark Lord would rule supreme!
With a throaty chuckle, Snape returned his mind to his task.
At eight thirty, he ladled out thirteen doses into the glass phials Dumbledore had provided. He set each dose in a wooden tray before tiredly vanishing the remaining potion in the cauldron. Filling the silver vessel with soapy water he left it to soak overnight…or until he next awoke.
It was eight thirty-nine when Snape entered his office, with the deliberate and exaggerated attention to detail of the utterly depleted. The past eight days without sleep had been far more than exhausting. He stepped carefully across the room and placed the tray of potions phials on the desk, before turning and staggering toward the fireplace.
Casting a pinch of floo powder into the flames, he didn’t notice the rack beginning its slow slide toward the edge of the desk.
“Headmaster!” He called, before leaning into the green flames.
In the headmaster’s office, Albus heard his servant’s call. Smiling at the Death Eater’s subjugation, he finished reading the page he’d been on, in his book: ‘Chartreuse: Is it really the new pink?’ Carefully slipping a marker into the book, he stood and ambled his way over to the fireplace.
There he saw his haggard potions master waiting impatiently.
Kneeling on the special pad before his fire, he spoke.
“It is done, then?”
“Yes, headmaster. The potion is complete. All you have to do now is get it into Potter.” Implying that Dumbledore was incapable of even that much.
Irritated at Snape’s jibe, and by the fact that his stupid, feathery, ‘delivery system’ was being most uncooperative, Albus leaned forward, the better to show his aura, when he noticed something odd. The tray of phials on Severus’ desk, was sliding toward the edge…and gaining speed!
“Severus!” He bellowed, pointing.
Snape turned his head just in time to see the tray tipping over the edge.
“NOOO!” He screamed in horror, as he literally defied gravity to fling himself across the room.
The tray hit the stone floor a bare second before he hit the desk. He banged up against the wood, slid across the frictionless surface of the desk and into the stone blocks of the wall behind it. Broken glass and spilled potion, and an unconscious potions master were the sight Albus beheld.
Far beyond furious, Dumbledore grabbed a large pinch of floo powder, and flung it into the fire, intending to visit his wrath on his errant servant.
Unfortunately floo powder and gunpowder tend to interact badly when exposed to flame. In fact, their reaction would be described as ‘synergistic’. The explosion was enough to send Dumbledore flying across the room and into a stone pillar.
True to his word, Harry reappeared on Azkaban Island at the end of September. With him was a large machine, mounted on a tracked carriage, powered by corindium made from the Barab ore, and unaffected by magic. A durenium shield surrounded a light turbolaser intended for ship to ship combat.
The dementors directed him to the northeast corner of the prison, where he set up the device and began blasting the dirt and rock away.
Less than a half hour later, he’d unearthed the stone described. Shutting down the machine, he gestured for the body of Stan Shunpike to approach. The poor wretch was in worse shape than before. His skin was slack and grey. His teeth were falling out and his fingernails had all been torn off. He had had little real sustenance, because those who had been charged with his care each week, had simply tossed a box of food onto the dock and departed. Seagulls and rats, had gotten to the food long before the shambling remains of a man had been able to reach it. He’d eaten whatever he could find but on such a desolate island, it wasn’t nearly enough.
“Is that it?” Harry asked.
“It is.” Stan’s soulless corpse replied.
“Very well. I have your oath that as soon as the binding is disrupted, you will return to the force?”
“You do. Fortune in your quest, Jedi.”
“And in yours.”
Harry descended the long ramp he’d carved, and with a few slices of his lightsaber, cut the stone from its mooring. He levitated it aside, and filling the hole with debris, transfigured it into an identical shaped piece of black granite. Turning, he gestured and the huge stone floated before him as he reascended the ramp. Once at the top, he thumbed his lightsaber to life. All the dementors fled the pure energy. A slice and it was done. He felt the ward stone fight, but it was hopelessly outmatched. This was something Merlin had never…could never even have imagined!
“Good bye, Jedi. We go now.” Came from the throat of the dead man.
Harry felt the dementors depart for their own realm.
He turned and began to fill in the long trench he’d dug, by blasting away the side of the same outcropping where he’d gotten the Barab ore, and carrying it with the force to the hole. Soon enough, the ground was level and compacted by the weight of the machine.
He turned to the soulless body swaying slightly in the breeze.
“I’m sorry, Stan. No one deserves this kind of punishment…especially not the innocent. You were kind to me when I was younger. This is the least I can do for you.”
Harry pointed his lightsaber toward Stan’s breast and thumbed it to life. The scintillating shaft of energy speared through the living dead man for a brief second, before he shut it down. The soulless body of Stan Shunpike fell to the ground, now lifeless as well.
Harry transfigured one half of the onyx wardstone into a coffin, and the other into a headstone proclaiming Stan Shunpike to be the last victim of a corrupt ministry. Leaning into the force he picked up the poor half-wit’s casket, and carried it and the headstone to the citadel’s graveyard. Using the force to lift the tonnes of dirt and rock from their resting place, he lowered the coffin in.
Covering the box, and offering a prayer for the dead soul, he planted a spray of daffodils. With the dementors gone, he knew they would grow.
Harry rose from the grave, turned, and gathering his machine, portkeyed away.
Hermione was waiting for him when he returned.
“How’d it go?” She asked.
“They’re gone.” He returned.
Hermione wrapped him in a warm hug and joined her lips to his. The kiss was soft, lingering and filled with her love for him. It was just what he needed to dispel his mood.
Harry deepened the kiss for a few minutes before breaking away. He levitated the digging machine to it’s place in the huge equipment shed, right next to Mackenzie’s XKE.
“I have to go to the ministry. Would you like to come with?”
“I came with you last night, Harry. Remember?”
“Ooh! Saucy wench!”
Hermione’s laugh was something he could listen to all day long. Leaving the wards behind, they apparated to The Leaky and from there, flooed to the ministry.
There, seeing Dumbledore emerging from the lift, they both stood still and cloaked themselves in the force.
The old man looked curiously in their general direction, before shrugging his shoulders and heading toward the floo.
“Well!” Harry commented. “That was close!”
“I wonder what he’s doing here?” She replied.
“Probably trying to convince Amelia that I should be arrested and returned to his ‘care’. For my own good, of course.” Harry snarked.
Together they entered the lift and waited as I ascended to the first floor.
Walking down the corridor to the Minister’s office, they shed their concealment. Connie Hammer challenged them at wand-point.
“Halt! State your names and business!”
“Harry Potter, Hermione Granger to speak to the Minister, we have an open appointment.”
“Show your faces and your left arms!”
Both did so. Harry said: “Y’know, you really should train a house elf to sense the dark magicks in Voldy’s little tattoo. That way you would be assured that nobody was covering the dark mark with make-up, or the like.”
Amelia stuck her head out of her office door and said: “That is a very good idea, Mister Potter. Tootles!”
Instantly Tootles appeared, “Madam Amelia has called for Tootles?”
“Tootles, you know Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. They just gave me a very good idea.”
“Oh yes, Tootles knows Lord and Lady Gryffindor. How may Tootles be of service?”
“Tootles, can you go talk to Dobby and ask him to teach you to identify the magicks used in the Dark Mark? It would help you to protect mistress Amelia.”
“Oh yes, Lord Gryffindor, Tootles would be most happy to do!” Tootles turned to Amelia for permission, and at her nod, vanished with a soft pop. Instantly She reappeared, with Dobby in tow.
“Master Harry Potter sir, Tootles has asked Dobby to teach her the ways of discovering the dark mark. Is that your wish?”
“Yes, Dobby, it is.”
“As you wish.” They vanished again.
“Lord Gryffindor.” Hammer ventured. “Was that house-elf armed?”
“Yes. He is.”
“Arming a house elf is illegal.”
“Actually, no. The law allows for arming a house elf in the event of insurrection, state of war, or to protect the life of the elf’s master. We are leading such an insurrection, and this country is in a state of war. What’s more, he refused to allow me to go into combat without him, even if he had to go in naked. What could I do? If he went in naked, there would be so many Death Eaters embarrassed by his…well in comparison. Don’t worry, his actions are my responsibility. If there’s anything to answer for, I’ll answer for it.”
“Well, yes, but…”
“You also shouldn’t worry about him going rogue. His ability to touch the force is better than mine.”
“More than that…” Hermione added. Since he’s bonded to Harry, he shares Harry’s moral viewpoint, and Harry’s grounding in ethical treatment is rock hard.”
“Will he be with you on the mission?”
“Lord Gryffindor, he cannot kill anybody. That would violate so many…”
“None of us will kill if we can avoid it. We’ll give them one chance to surrender, but if there is a fight, that fight will be to the death. As I said, he is allowed to kill in the defense of his master. If you feel he’s done something out of line, I’ll answer for it. As my bonded elf, he’s my responsibility, he’s well trained and I trust him with not only my life, but with Hermione’s as well.”
“That’s an awful lot of trust, for a house-elf!” Connie interjected.
“Miss Hammer, you trust your house elf, assuming you have one, to tend your house, clean your clothing, provide security, and cook your food. You have any idea how simple it would be for an elf with a grudge, to poison you? It’s only their bond to the humans, that prevents that.
Now, as for Dobby, despite the overwhelming pain caused by his own slave bond, Dobby defied his old master, Lucius Malfoy, in order to warn me when Malfoy placed a dark arts artifact that belonged to Tom Riddle, you know him as Voldemort, in the hands of an eleven year old child. That diary held a memory of Riddle and that memory was somehow able to possess that little girl, fully intending to use the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets to kill all the mugglebornes in the castle. It was Dobby’s direct, and not so direct intervention that kept that from happening. Doing that hurt him greatly, but he did it anyway, because it was the right thing to do. Since I freed him from Malfoy, Dobby has assisted me throughout the years, more than anyone but Hermione. If I can't trust him, then I can’t trust anybody.”
Hammer was stunned both by the information and by Harry’s vehemence.
Amelia broke the brittle silence. “Let’s all go inside and have a cup of tea.”
Inside, with the doors locked and warded, Harry outlined his actions while he was at Azkaban Island. Bones seemed relieved that the Dementors were no longer an issue.
The Harry told her of Stan. He described the corpse he’d seen, and asked why Stan had been in such horrible condition. Hammer’s eyes flashed. “I think I know the reason, but I want to make sure.” She noted something down with a fountain pen, in a folding notebook. Hermione’s eyes lit. Hammer chuckled. “There are many witches and wizards who despise quills. A metal nib is much easier to write with, it doesn’t wear out and there’s considerably less mess.”
As she was speaking, Harry told Amelia what he’d done. While technically murder, there was nothing left of Stan Shunpike but a decaying body. She nodded her appreciation.
Harry and Hermione returned to the castle, just in time for dinner. After the meal, he stood and explained what he’d done at Azkaban and why. None of the students were sorry to see the dementors go, they were by far, the most feared creatures the British wizards knew of.
The following day would be a meditation/hand-to-hand combat, day, with six hours of lightsaber practice thrown in.
“Are you ready?”
“OK, tomorrow morning, then.”
They kissed each other, but kept it low-key. Their last round of lovemaking had been quite vigorous and Hermione was still a little tender. For the night, cuddling would be enough.
Four hundred miles to the south, in Wiltshire, Severus Snape was in an audience with his master. He still hadn’t told Voldemort of the destroyed potions. Only that Dumbledore had not yet located Harry.
“My lord…” Severus ventured. “You told us once that your wand holds a phoenix feather core.”
“The muggle-lover was quite happy some years ago. He was smiling and saying: “It chose Harry.” Last year, one of my students told me that Potter’s wand is made of holly and holds a phoenix feather core.”
“And? I grow weary of your emoting, Severus, get to the point!”
“What it the two wands hold feathers from the same bird?”
“They wouldn’t fight with each other.”
“Phoenix feather wands are somewhat rare but they are plentiful enough that they make up nearly a quarter of Ollivander’s stock.”
“I see your point. If anybody would know how to neutralize this advantage, he would. Dulce!”
The mid-ranked Death Eater scurried forward and bent his knee.
“Take five of my servants and capture Ollivander. Bring him and his entire stock of wands to me!”
“Yes, my master!” Dulce backed away on his knees until he’d reached the requisite five paces before turning right and hurrying from the chamber.
On the morning of the thirtieth, Harry greeted his students. “Good morning, people! Today, we’re going to have a demonstration. Both Hermione and Luna have progressed far enough to advance to Makashi. But first, they have to face me. As it stands, either Dobby or I can test them, although in a couple months, Tonks, Remus and Mackenzie, and quite probably Hermione, Luna, Susan and Neville as well, will be able to test you lot. Now, since Dobby is busy today, I will be testing them both.”
Hermione looked at Luna, with imploring eyes. Luna smiled softly and nodded hr head. Hermione’s smile split her face, as she bounced up the steps. Mackenzie, Tonks and Remus, stood at various placed for safety.
They faced each other, and handed over their lightsabers for adjustment and check. As soon as they’d completed the check, they handed the weapons back and repeated the procedure.
“Now, as you know, Shii-Cho, has over a hundred different moves. This combat will test every one of them.”
He turned to Hermione and asked: “Are you ready?”
She smiled and nodded.
They faced off and lit their weapons. From there it was the noisy crash of glimmering blades, striking, blocking, slashing and feinting. They circled each other trying to find an opening. Hermione was good, but she wasn’t using the force. Harry decided to ‘force’ the issue as it were.
“You’ve gotta go faster, love.” He called out softly, as he sped up his attack.
Now Hermione was on the defense. “Call on the force!” He whispered harshly as he struck.
Hermione was beginning to panic.
“You’ve got to call on the force!” He said again, more urgently.
Giving control to anything was not Hermione’s way. As long as Harry had known her, she’d been in control. It wasn’t easy to ceded that control to anything.
A jarring blow, decided for her. She opened herself to the force and instantly her blade was where it should have been.
Harry smiled and attacked again. He could feel the force flowing though his lover as blow after blow was deflected and returned; as she showed the individual strikes and blocks she’d learnt.
Twenty minutes later, Harry called a halt.
“Hermione, you have demonstrated the necessary proficiency in Shii-Cho. You are now advanced to Makashi. He touched the tabs on Hermione’s shoulders with his wand, and as they had with her father, they turned from tan to yellow.
Cheers and applause resounded throughout the room.
“Luna?” Harry called. “You’re next.”
“Are you certain you don’t want to rest a bit?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“OK.” She handed him her lightsaber, and they went through the ritual once again. Checking, and rechecking the safety of the weapons.
Harry could feel that Luna had already opened herself to the force, so he attacked. The battle was faster paced than the previous one, as Luna was already in communication with the mystical energy field.
Again, blades of scintillating energy crackled with power as they met, slid along, and rebounded from each other. Luna had never had the control issues that Hermione had and so, easily allowed the force to guide and protect her.
Sooner than most would have expected, they stopped and Harry again intoned the words advancing Luna to Makashi, while touching her shoulder tabs.
The ovation was tremendous.
A/N: Venenum Imperator simply means, Imperius potion.
Buckyballs, (Buckminsterfullerene) are actually fairly easy to make, but it takes a scanning electron microscope to tell what you have.
I’ve stolen this sequence of lightsaber training from my other Jedi Potter Fic, ‘A Boy Named Harry’. The information on lightsaber forms comes from both my own experience with a blade, and Wookiepedia…mostly Wookiepedia, as I prefer the rapier.
I’d do well in Makashi.
Anyone who has ever used a gyroflex will understand what Harry is saying about gyroscopic precession. If you don’t have one, I strongly suggest you get one. They’re both a great way to improve your hand and arm strength, a frequently recommended treatment for Carpel tunnel syndrome, and a lot of fun to play with.
“Accuracy first, power next, and finally speed” was a liturgy my first martial art’s instructor would use. As Cal Flores, my firearms instructor in San Diego would say: “A lightning fast miss, never won a gunfight.”
Synergistic means one part amplifies the effects of the other. Like caffeine and aspirin.
Stan Shunpike: I needed a conduit for Harry to speak to the dementors. My daughter was watching ID-4 when I came up with this idea, and so since Scumgouger chucked Stan into Azkaban, knowing he couldn’t possibly be a Death Eater, I had no difficulty seeing him having the poor wretch kissed to hide his crime. Like Griphook, he just didn’t hide it well enough. The dementors reported the kiss to the minister, not the DMLE.
I know the order to capture Ollivander is in Book sux, but it was in fanon long before, so I’m not really taking it from…that book.