A couple of revelations, an encounter with red-heads, and the ball starts rolling.
(A/N: Finally, after being M.I.A. for an extensive period of time, my Muse for this story has finally come crawling back! I’m currently putting her to work helping me refine what I already had for this chapter, as well as helping me write the rest of it. Hopefully she might stay here this time. Unfortunately it now means that I have three Muses clamouring for attention at once, but hopefully I can pull it off. Anyway, enjoy the chapter, and I’ll see you when I post the next one!)
Harry turned around as Madame Pomfrey returned, looking pensive, “Mr Potter, Ms Granger, can you please pay attention for a moment?”
Both Harry and Hermione turned around, Hermione wiping tears from her eyes as Harry slipped his arm around her shoulders. “Yes, Madame Pomfrey?” asked Harry.
Madame Pomfrey cleared her throat, “I need to run a diagnostic charm on the two of you to see what happened just now.”
She drew her wand and directed it at Hermione first. A second after muttering the spell, she tilted her head to one side and gaped at Hermione. Then she quickly turned to Harry and performed the same spell. Her eyes widened again. “What?” asked Harry defensively, pulling Hermione closer to him.
Madame Pomfrey did not reply with words; she simply flicked her wand and caused two sets of bars to appear. The bars varied in length from very short (labelled Dark Magic Residue) to fairly long (labelled Physical Endurance). The exception was a single bar in the very middle that was labelled Magical Core Strength. It was easily at least two and a half feet long and glowed with a brilliant golden colour, in contrast to the other bars which shone a dull bronze. Madame Pomfrey gave her head a slight shake, “You two have the strongest magical cores I have ever seen. That, and the fact that you two can combine your individual strength to do things that even a coven of fully-fledged warlocks cannot handle, effectively makes you two the most powerful wizard and witch the world has ever seen. You two are going to change the world for the better. I need to talk to you about learning to control your power; it’s very important that you learn that.”
Hermione tilted her head to one side, “But Madame Pomfrey, how can you teach us to control our power like this? No offence, but you are just the school matron!”
Madame Pomfrey smirked at the fourteen-year-old brunette, “I’m not just the school matron, Miss Granger. I am also an undercover Unspeakable.”
Hermione’s head jerked up and she and Harry stared at Madame Pomfrey. Madame Pomfrey nodded, “It’s all true. I’m an Unspeakable whom Dumbledore managed to rope into taking care of students as the last matron’s replacement. He got me to sign a contract saying that I was indentured to Hogwarts and could not return to my job in the Department of Mysteries until he released me from the contract. He never did release me. My superiors in the Department tried to get Dumbledore to release the contract, but he refused. End result: I’ve been stuck in this school for thirty years.”
Harry and Hermione stared at the matron for a few seconds, before Harry succeeded in getting his mouth working again and said, “He did what!?”
Madame Pomfrey looked slightly sad, and nodded. She then raised her wand as the hospital doors opened and Molly Weasley walked in accompanied by Ron and Ginny. Harry scowled slightly as he saw Ron. Hermione drew close to her friend when she saw Ginny watching Harry hungrily. “Harry! You’re awake!” said Molly Weasley, rushing towards Harry. She pushed Hermione aside and went to hug Harry, but Harry dodged and hugged Hermione again. Molly Weasley looked vaguely put out for a moment, but then smiled comfortingly. “We have good news, Harry! Dumbledore is sending you right to us this summer! Hermione will be going home to her parents of course, but you’ll get to play with Ron and Ginny! Would you like that, Harry?”
Harry scowled for a moment, “Mrs Weasley, obviously you are mistaken in thinking Ron and I still share any kind of friendship. We aren’t. He refuses to believe that I had not entered my name into the Tournament. He, according to Hermione, told her to leave me after the third task; that I had killed Cedric and had got what I deserved for my crime.”
Mrs Weasley turned to her youngest son, “What is he talking about, Ron?”
Ron scowled, “Nothing! He’s obviously delusional!”
Harry gave a mirthless laugh, “Me, delusional? You’re the one who laboured under the delusion that I was a liar for the last nine months, friend!”
Ron turned on Harry, his face angry, “I’m not your friend, Potter. As far as I’m concerned, we never were friends. Hermione, get over here, you’re too good for an arrogant loser like him!”
Hermione quirked an eyebrow, “Sorry, but what makes you think you have any kind of hold over me? I’m with Harry to the end, which is a lot more than can be said of you!”
Ginny was watching this interchange with a feeling of rising anger; she could hardly believe that this mudblooded whore was trying to stake her claim to Harry. Harry was to be her husband after all, while the mudblood was to be her brother Ron’s. She responded by stepping forwards and looking directly into Hermione’s face, “Step away from Harry, Hermione. He’s coming with us, you’re going home.”
Harry and Hermione simply gazed at each other for a second before staring at Ginny. Harry took Hermione’s hand in his own and tilted his head to one side as he considered the redheaded girl, “Why, Ginny? As far as I’m concerned, Hermione is my best friend. I don’t see why someone I used to be friends with has any say in my association with the only friend I have that has never once walked out on me!”
Hermione turned her head to look at Harry as the face of the redhead before them went the same colour as her hair. He turned to look at her too. Hermione bent her head close, and whispered in Harry’s ear, “She has a crush on you. She believes she’s destined to be your wife. I know because of the amount of talks with her I’ve had in the past. Every time the subject turned to boys, she would only ever talk about you. She refused to admit that you might end up liking someone else, insisting that you’d be her husband one way or another.”
Harry bent his head close to her as well, “Is that so? Well, we’re going to have to disabuse her of that particular misconception.”
He noticed that Hermione’s eyes had widened slightly. “What?” he murmured to her.
She looked back in shock, “Did it occur to you we’re not even speaking out loud?”
Harry turned to fully face Hermione, and she caught a brief look of shock before his face became a study in blankness and he nodded quietly.
Ginny watched the two of them looking at each other for about ten seconds before deciding to butt back in, “Hey!”
Harry and Hermione turned back to the angry redhead. Harry decided to adopt a friendly tone, “Yes, Ginny? Did you want to say something?”
Ginny didn’t respond to Harry, instead turning to Hermione, “How could you betray me like this, Hermione? I told you countless times that he was mine!”
Harry scowled; a little put out that Ginny was talking like he was a piece of meat at the market, “Ginny, I know you have a crush on me. I think I ought to tell you that I think of you like a sister, and you should be content with that.”
Ginny looked stricken, as though Harry had hit her in the chest with something heavy, “A sister? That’s all I ever was to you? A sister?”
Harry nodded, and Ginny went pale, “Yes Ginny, you are like a sister to me, even if your brother is as far as I’m concerned no longer anything of the sort.”
The redhead stared at Harry for a few minutes with a look of total betrayal in her eyes, “O-okay then. I-I’ll see you later, Harry.” She walked out of the room.
Ron scowled at Harry, “Typical Harry Potter, my sister’s not good enough for him so he decides to steal my girl!”
Hermione gave him a very cold look, “What do you mean, your girl???”
Ron turned on her, “I always liked you. I was just waiting to ask you out.”
Hermione raised her eyebrows, “And what makes you think that gives you any kind of claim to me whatsoever, Ronald?”
Ron looked from her to Harry and back again. Then he scowled and stormed out of the ward. Mrs Weasley looked after her son for ten seconds before rounding on Harry and Hermione, whom sat on the bed hand-in-hand. Before she could speak however, Madame Pomfrey cut her off, “Mrs Weasley, I’m afraid I must ask you to leave. Mr Potter and Miss Granger have been through enough excitement already today and must rest. You will be able to visit them again, but please leave for the moment.”
Mrs Weasley looked briefly as though she was going to argue, but finally decided against it and walked after her two youngest children.
Madame Pomfrey turned back to Harry and Hermione after the doors of the ward closed behind Mrs Weasley. “As I was saying when the Weasley clan entered, I am an Unspeakable. Dumbledore made me sign a contract thus indenturing me to Hogwarts until such time as he decides to release me. Frankly, I don’t like this job. I preferred my old job as an Unspeakable. I think the reason Dumbledore won’t release my contract is because of my job as an Unspeakable. He’s been fishing to find out what goes on down there for years. All these years, I’ve been trying to find a way to destroy my contract, and I think I may have found it now. I’ll need your help if I’m going to do it, though.” She held out her arm to Harry and Hermione. Both leaned forwards as she pulled back her right sleeve to reveal an ornate tattoo of the Hogwarts emblem on her inner forearm.
How fitting, mused Harry, exactly the opposite of where the Death Eaters have their marks. Out loud he asked, “What do you need me to do?”
Madame Pomfrey looked at them sadly, “I need you both to place your hands against the mark and push the magic out. Talk to your cores first and they can help.”
Both teens’ minds turned inwards and sought out their cores. The cores responded eagerly to their calls, and almost instantly their bodies thrummed with power. Harry and Hermione each set their hands on the mark, and Madame Pomfrey winced as the mark shone a bloody red.
The magic rippled off Harry’s and Hermione’s hands in a constant flux of energy. The Hogwarts matron was wincing almost constantly now, before she finally gave a scream of pain and threw her head back as the mark flared black and vanished with a crack.
Up in Professor Dumbledore’s study, in one of the desk drawers, a scroll of parchment dissolved into ashes. The man did not notice; he was too busy arguing with Molly, Ron and Ginny Weasley. Ron kept ranting about Harry stealing his girl, Ginny was screaming about the mudblood whore stealing her Harry and Molly was screaming that Dumbledore should be doing more to get Harry under his influence. “I am confident that I will have the boy under my control soon, Molly. Please be more patient.”
Over in the hospital wing, Madame Pomfrey eyed her now-bare arm with a critical eye and directed both teenagers back into bed. Harry smiled when he saw that the woman’s eyes were sparkling with a new vitality. “Oh joy, I can’t wait to tell Dumbledore he can take his matron job, shove it up his wrinkly old behind and twist it!”
Harry and Hermione both shuddered at the mental image. It seemed that Poppy Pomfrey had something of a twisted sense of humour. As Harry and Hermione lay down for a brief nap, Madame Pomfrey moved back to her office, where she quickly threw some green powder into the flames of her fireplace and stuck her head in, calling out an address as she did.
Sirius Black was sitting at the kitchen table inside Grimmauld Place when the fire suddenly flared and a woman’s head appeared. Sirius instantly recognized her as the Hogwarts matron, Poppy Pomfrey. “Black,” she said seriously, as he jumped up and knelt before the fire, “We need to talk concerning your godson and his best friend, Hermione.”
(A/N: My god, it was like pulling teeth trying to get my Muse to come back. Even when she did, I don’t think she’s hanging around. This story’s updates seem like they are going to be slow, while HSS and SS will have reasonably quicker updates. By the way, for all the fans of SS among you, I have posted a poll on my profile concerning that story. Please go look at it and vote accordingly; I need your feedback. See you all soon, this is Leonineus signing off!)