The Last Battle has been fought, and Harry Potter has won. The price, however, has been high. Nearly every person Harry cared for is dead, maimed, or otherwise injured. The magical culture of ...
Chapter VII Saturday, February 9, 1991
"I wonder what they do in there every week," Sirius muttered. Every weekend, after Harry's other young friends left, he and Hermione spent time in his room.
Moody's eye swung over from Sirius up towards Harry's room and back to Sirius. "They sit an' stare at each other," Moody answered. "Doing what, I can not say, but except for a hug at the end of each session, that's all. Get your mind out of the gutter, Black. She's eleven."
'Legilimens!' Harry thought. Instantly, a view of Hermione crying as she was teased by two schoolmates a few days before flashed into Harry's mind. Within three seconds, however, it was replaced by the image of a candle flame, Hermione's metal focus. Once Harry had been given proper instruction, he had quickly learned that while Snape's demand of a blank mind was a sign of basic mastery of Occlumency, few if any achieved it as a first goal. Hermione could now detect even a secret attack and deflect it to this mental image.
"Do I pass, Harry, or do I need to learn more?"
"You need to learn more, but you pass." Harry frowned. "You've been hinting at weeks that there is some secret you want to share. You don't have to; you don't owe it to me for learning my basic secret."
"I want to learn more about your secret, Harry," Hermione replied. "May I now ask some questions?"
Harry thought about that, and then nodded. "I may not be able to answer them, you know, at least not yet."
"I know. My secret will come out as I ask you about yours," Hermione said. "First, did you arrive on the Twenty-first of June?"
Harry merely nodded, too shocked to do more.
"Was there some thin young woman with dark blonde hair involved in sending you back?"
"How did you know?" Harry demanded hoarsely.
"Harry . . . was I dead when you came back?"
Harry merely nodded, then said, "How?"
"Do ghosts exist?"
Harry looked up, shocked. "You. . . ?"
"I think I was a ghost," Hermione said, looking into her memories. "I was in a room, and an older version of you was in a bed, and you were very bruised and injured." She looked directly at Harry. "I didn't realize that it was you or start putting any of this together until around after Mister Lupin came in October."
Harry merely nodded, and Hermione went back deep into her memories. "This blonde woman. . . ."
"Luna," Harry supplied.
Hermione nodded. "She was saying she could send you back. She kissed you and then started moving her lips. I came closer, and she looked at me. She nodded and her eyes went from my hand to where she was holding yours. I added my hand, and then I was awake in my bed. I was ten, and felt like I had always been ten." She looked at Harry. "I thought it was a dream. But since I met you, I've remembered a few other things, and almost every time you teach me something, I get a sense of deja vu."
Harry nodded. "What else do you remember?"
"Little things, but disturbing things," she said, her eyes going down.
"Did you and Ron Weasley fight a troll while I watched?" Her voice was getting softer.
"Halloween our First year," Harry supplied. "It surprised you, which is why you didn't fight it."
"Two huge yellow-green eyes and then blackness?"
"You were petrified by a basilisk," Harry supplied.
"Flying on something big with wings?"
"You flew with me on a hippogriff, and a group of us once flew on Thestrals, although those were invisible to you at the time."
"And did I meet giants and centaurs?"
"And goblins, merpeople, vampires, werewolves, and house elves," Harry said. "Not to mention we're friends with a half-giant and one of the staff is a quarter-goblin."
"And I killed people, didn't I?" Hermione asked sadly, and barely audible.
"I'm afraid we both did," Harry agreed.
Hermione's eyes went down, and she asked in a small voice that Harry had to strain to hear, "And Ron Weasley raped me, didn't he?"
"WHAT! No!" Harry stated firmly.
"How can you be so sure?" Hermione challenged.
"The two of you danced around each other for well over a year," Harry said. "I never saw why, since you were always arguing with each other. Still, you did come together towards the end of our Sixth year, although you didn't actually tell me until early July. You, well, you and Ron. . . ."
"Ron's oldest brother got married at the end of July. The two of you went away together from Saturday night through Monday morning. You broke up about a week later, right after the actual wedding, where there had been a big battle. You and Ron were out of the battle because you had left just before hand. Ron later told me that the two of you realized that you were more like brother and sister, and that the whole thing had been very awkward afterwards. You told me that he was clumsy and that the whole experience was interesting but unsatisfying."
Both Harry and Hermione were bright red.
"Is that when we became lovers, Harry?"
Harry looked at the little girl. "We weren't lovers, as such."
"So I don't remember sleeping with you?"
"Sleeping? Yes, we did, as in sleep. Let's put off any further discussion of this subject until at least after our Third year?" Harry was desperate to get away from this topic, as his ten-year old body wasn't up to it. "Alright?"
"That might be a good idea," Hermione agreed, relieved. "But about Ron. . . ."
"The two of you shared plenty of affectionate hugs after you broke up, even when you didn't know I was around, and Luna found the two of you snogging away a few times," Harry said. "I'm sure that while Ron might have hurt you, he didn't assault you."
"That's good to know," Hermione said. "Have you made contact with Luna?"
Harry's head now went down, his eyes searching the floor. "The spell . . . she sacrificed herself." He looked at Hermione, his face torn with emotion. "If I had known, I wouldn't have agreed."
"I understand, Harry," Hermione said, leaning towards him. Harry felt just a little of the burden lift from him.
Harry looked up and the mood fell away from them. "So, are you ready to keep up and improve your Occlumency?" Harry asked.
"I am," Hermione answered.
"Here," Harry said, handing Hermione a notebook. "This is charmed so that while I'm alive, only you can read it. Now remember, just because people did things the last time around. . . ."
"They might make different choices this time," Hermione finished.
"Exactly. In fact," Harry added, "I've already greatly changed the time-line. Sirius was in Azkaban until the summer of 1993 and Pettigrew was at large through early 1998. Professor Dumbledore has sent an envoy to the giants four years earlier, and others to the werewolves and vampires, which he hadn't done the last time."
"Voldemort enjoyed the protection of six magical objects called Horcruxes. That's all explained in the notes. Three have already been destroyed, which we hadn't managed the last time until August, 1997, plus I have a good idea of where the other three are, which we didn't have last time until Christmas, 1997. Last time, Dumbledore was killed in June, 1997, and it was mostly you, me, and Ron, with some help from Alastor, Remus, an auror named Tonks, Luna, Neville, and Ron's family who finished Voldemort and his gang off. This time, I hope I have more friends to draw on. Last time, Draco was against us. This time, Sirius might be able to at least keep him neutral, and if he's neutral a lot of information and gossip might not leak out of the school. Speaking of which, there was an annoying reporter buzzing around last time. I mean that literally, because she was an illegal beetle animagus. You unmasked her, and this time she's been banned from reporting, and she's being employed by Sirius as sort of a public relations person, planting stories."
"So, we're ahead of the curve, even without adding the changes to you," Hermione pointed out.
"I had hoped you'd forgotten that," Harry said.
"Not a chance," Hermione stated flatly. "If your power makes the same quantitative jump as most wizards' do between the age of ten and twenty, you're going to be the most powerful wizard since Merlin," Hermione pointed out. "If it doesn't, it will likely still increase slowly over time, and put you at least even with Voldemort, if not ahead."
"Either might be true, but you probably know what 'hubris' means," Harry pointed out.
Harry shrugged. "Worst case scenario, I'll have seven years more experience now than the first time I face Voldemort and the same amount of power that I had when I killed him." Harry's face hardened. "We'll get him at a lower cost this time."
"My job will be to keep your head level, won't it?"
"Part of it," Harry agreed. He smiled, "But you were always pretty good at it."
Wednesday, February 27, 1991
"You wished to see me, Severus?"
Snape, looking much paler than usual, nodded and sat heavily in the chair offered to him.
"May I take it that you have reached a decision?"
"I have a proposal to make, Headmaster," Snape suggested.
"Oh?" Dumbledore had not expected this, and so had no idea what Snape might be suggesting. "Please, go ahead."
"First, have you found someone to teach the Wizarding Traditions course?"
"No," Dumbledore said, "I have not. I have several possibilities in mind. I have until the April meeting of the Governors to suggest all of this. I have the agreement of five of the twelve already, and have not consulted with any of the remaining seven."
Snape nodded his understanding. "As I thought. While my opinion of Black has not changed, I find that his coming here might be to your advantage." Snape had a very bad taste in his mouth, but he was determined to do what was right this time.
Dumbledore looked very curious. "Go on."
"The man took seven N.E.W.T.s, six of them Os," Snape pointed out with a look of distaste.
Dumbledore nodded. "Charms, Potions, Defense, Transfiguration, History, and Arithmancy, with the E in Runes."
"So, have Black teach both the Muggle and Tradition classes, plus teach the First years Potions, Defense, Transfiguration, and Charms. The next year, have him teach the new First years plus the two extra courses for the Second years."
Dumbledore sat back and steepled his fingers. "Interesting. Why?"
"I must admit, I do not know if I can treat Potter differently than I have seen in his memories," Snape managed to admit, although he hated saying so nearly as much as he hated saying anything about Black. "I would not have thought I would have treated him like that unless he were as. . . ." He stopped himself. "Never mind. It would be best if I did not interact with him until we have a chance to know each other outside the class room. Second, would I be right in believing that that idiot Quirrell is likely to be involved with whatever happens next year?"
"He was the last time around, and despite my attempts at moving him away from temptation, he has been reported exactly where he was not supposed to be."
"Exactly," Dumbledore said.
"Might it not be best to keep him away from Potter as well?"
"It might be best," Dumbledore agreed. "It is worth considering."
"Also, I had dinner with Lucius last Saturday. He confided something to me. You tell me if this is different in this time-stream." He took a deep breath. "Narcissa Malfoy is expecting a child in seven months. Lucius is confident that this will increase the odds of Black leaving more of his fortune to the Malfoys."
"It is a significant departure, so far as I know," Dumbledore admitted.
"So, Lucius will want to butter Black up, and giving him this assignment will do so. Since Lucius controls his own vote and at least influences three others, he will think it will look good to Black to back him. As much as I despise Black, he is qualified. In addition, he will, I would hope, have the brains to mask Potter's abilities."
"He will have to be warned about that," Dumbledore agreed.
"I shall be encouraging my students to listen closely to what Black has to say," Snape said.
"There is just one more thing," Dumbledore said.
"And that is?"
"You have seen the announcement of the Wolfsbane potion?"
Snape's lip curled. "I see. Black will bring his animal with him." 'How much worse is this going to get?' he wondered.
"I admit I have just thought of this, but it will be useful," Dumbledore said. "Lupin will assist Sirius as needed, which, I will admit, means keeping an eye on Sirius and Harry, especially Sirius."
"I hope he does a better job of it than he did as a prefect," Snape said bitterly.
"He will," Dumbledore assured Snape. "Sirius has become something of Harry's older brother. It is Remus who has become the father figure. And Remus will stand up to anyone, even Sirius, when Harry's welfare is at stake."
"Oh, very well," Snape said in disgust.
"Remus may also be helping Professor Kettleburn."
Snape snorted. "He should retire, and Binns should be removed as well. But that is up to you, Headmaster."
"So it is," Dumbledore said.
Thursday, February 28, 1991
"I don't understand," Harry said.
"You don't understand what?" Sirius asked as the pair sat in the parlor at the Dumbledores' that evening.
"Why Lucius Malfoy wants another child, or wouldn't want one for that matter. It can't be about money; he's rich!"
"You don't understand how someone like Malfoy regards money and property," Sirius pointed out.
"Then teach me," Harry asked simply.
Sirius thought about that, and then simply said, "Power comes from wealth. True?"
Harry shrugged. "Power of a sort, I suppose."
"Right. Lucius has that power because he controls that wealth. If he can pass all that wealth on to Draco, Draco will have that same sort of power."
"Alright," Harry said. "What if Draco had been born a girl?"
Sirius shook his head. "A test was developed for that in the 1960s. Not a chance; Lucius would have had a girl aborted. This time, he apparently didn't check, figuring perhaps I might be a sucker for a girl, outbalancing the need for a second son."
Harry wrinkled his nose at that. "What about the concept of 'an heir and a spare'?" he asked instead.
"Now there I would agree with you, and so did my family," Sirius said. "Regulus and I came from a long line of families with two sons. Lucius is gambling on Draco more than most families would. Now that he thinks he has a chance at my money, though, he figures having the spare is a better risk. And, if it's a girl, well, Narcissa has enough money of her own to cover any dowry. Lucius would pay it, and then Draco would get the money from his mother when she dies."
"And that's all there is to it?" Harry asked. It all sounded very cold-blooded to him.
"More or less," Sirius answered. "I might become godfather to the child, and so might be persuaded to split my inheritance three ways."
"So that two-thirds would go to the Malfoys."
"Exactly," Sirius said. "If I do marry and have a son, well, Lucius loses the gamble. If I have a daughter, well, maybe she would get half and Draco and Child X might split a third and you get a sixth."
"H'mm," Harry thought. After a moment, he asked, "Why wouldn't this make Lucius, and Draco, want to kill me?"
"Oh, Lucius certainly wants to kill both of us," Sirius retorted with a grin."
"But if he kills you first, I get half," Harry said, nodding.
"Right, and he also knows that if you die under any questionable circumstances, the deal is off. I made certain he knows that," Sirius said firmly. "Again, what if he has another child and I stand godfather? If you die under suspicious circumstances then, I would disinherit Draco, but I might not disinherit a baby." He grinned again. "Actually, I would, because then old Lucius would have me killed, but since I officially don't know about the child. . . ."
"One more thing," Harry went on. His eyes bore into Sirius'. "Could this child have been conceived and perhaps born in my time line?"
Sirius sat back, puzzled. "Conceived? Possibly. But if it were born, I can't see even Lucius killing it."
"Not even if it were born a Squib?" Harry asked. "Malfoy is on the Board of Governors. Wouldn't he know if a child of his wasn't registered as a magical child?"
Sirius bit his lip over that one. "It's possible," he had to admit. "There are always rumors when an infant dies. Sometimes, they might be true. I would hope not."
"I guess we'll know in seven months," Harry said.
"I suppose we will," Sirius agreed.
"Did my parents mess about with any of this stuff?" Harry asked.
Sirius snorted. "No. Your grandparents, the Potters I mean, would not normally have been thrilled to have a Muggle-born witch in the family. They had heard a lot about your Mum over the years, though, and knew that she was special. When they actually met her, she won them over easily."
"Meaning what? They wouldn't have liked most Muggle-borns?"
"Exactly," Sirius agreed. "This idea of yours and Remus, these courses, they are a good idea. Being magical means more than just waving a wand about. Nearly all the Pure-blood ranting is pure bullshit, of course, but not all of it. If I do my job right, the Muggle-raised will be able to fit in better, and the magically raised won't hate you lot as much." Sirius' face fell. "A tall order. I'm glad Moony will be there to help out."
"And I'm glad Alastor managed to find that cottage in Hogsmeade," Harry said, "even if we did have to lend him the money." Harry scowled.
"Now, be glad he accepted an interest-free loan," Sirius said. "The man doesn't like charity."
"If he's helping us out, why would it be charity to pay him for it?" Harry asked.
Sirius shrugged. "Ask him, not me."
"I will," Harry retorted.