Harry tests Neville, Hermione and Luna, Rita gets a new bodyguard, Harry and Hermione discuss ‘tanking’ Ron. The ministry mostly accepts the squibs. The Dursleys return to Privet Drive, Dudley ...
After only an hour, Dobby really, really wanted to introduce ‘dear’ Rita to the joys of the wondrous muggle invention called duct tape, and Tonks looked to be quite willing to help. It took some very fast talking by Harry to dissuade either of them from their nefarious plan.
After dinner, that evening, Harry called Hermione, Luna, Neville and Susan into his office. Once his senior students had arrived, he came straight to the point.
“I’ve been watching all of you over the past weeks and you’ve advanced through Makashi faster than I expected. Dobby and I both think you’re ready to test out of Makashi and into Soresu.”
Neville and Hermione were ecstatic, and Luna smiled broadly, but Susan blushed and said: “Harry, I…I’d like to wait until you test the rest…just to make sure I can do this right.”
“I’m sure you’re ready, Susan.” Harry’s voice was calm and supportive.
“Please?” She gave him a look of absolute pleading.
Harry sighed. Susan was a strong girl, and having been trained by Amelia Bones for so long, well able to take care of herself, but she still had some self-confidence issues. Harry had his own, so he understood better than most.
“All right. But you test in two weeks, with all the rest, OK?”
Susan’s smile lit the room. “Thanks, Harry!”
Harry dismissed Susan and took Hermione, Neville and Luna into the small ballroom off the Great Hall. There, he asked: “Alright! Who’s first?”
The three students spoke quietly amongst themselves for a second, before Neville stepped forward. “I am, Harry.”
Hermione and Luna climbed the stairs to the mezzanine observation deck.
“OK.” He nodded his head. “Let’s get to it.”
They exchanged lightsabers, and as they checked them for their power status. Neville did something that got Harry’s attention. He picked up a sheet of parchment and slid it across the blade. The page began to turn brown, but the blade did not pass through. Harry caught the implications immediately.
“Neville! That’s a brilliant idea! Mind if I steal it?”
“Not at all.” Neville blushed at the unexpected praise.
Done their checks, they returned the weapons and faced each other. Both knew they were being observed and while Neville was a bit nervous about it, he knew no harassment would come from any mistakes.
“OK, Neville, as with your last test out, this will be a test of form and precision. I know you’ve done this with a steel blade before, and it’s gonna feel a lot like that.”
“Today’s test is going to be nothing like Shii-Cho. Shii-Cho is a power form. As you’ve learned, Makashi is elegance itself. It’s going to be fast and it’s going to be tight, so please, let me know if you have any difficulty, K? I don’t want any injuries.”
With that, they set to, Harry calling out the position numbers. When they had gone through the entire sequence…both hands, Harry began to shift away from the order, but Neville stayed with him. He’d always enjoyed fencing, though his grandmother fretted constantly when he was in training. He understood the necessity for accuracy and economy, and according to his instructor, he had a gift for the blade. Augusta disagreed, as she had thought him to be a near-squib, but she provided for the lessons anyway, as all of the heirs to noble and ancient houses were expected to know how to use the sword.
As he’d done with Hermione in September, he called out: “Use the force, Neville! Let it flow through you!”
Neville did. Now warmed to the test, he relaxed and opened himself to the force. The force chose his defense and offense. He became a conduit for the mystical energy field.
Harry’s blade struck and slid, with thrust and parré, and he found himself facing a more confident and enthusiastic friend. Neville met him stroke for stroke. Harry smiled in satisfaction.
Standing on the mezzanine, Hermione, Luna, Mackenzie, Remus, Tonks and Dobby watched the concentrated ballet of light as Harry tested one of the most powerful, and yet, unsung wizards in Britain.
Twenty-two minutes later, both were sweating freely and a grinning Neville was the proud owner of two emerald green shoulder tabs on his uniform. He’d have a long letter to write to his gran this night!
Luna was next. She easily fell into the force and as it was in September, ‘knew’ where hyis blade would be at all times. Harry actually had trouble testing her, as her connection to the force, was, in many ways, better than his. One of those ways was her command of Makashi. She wielded her lightsaber like it was an extension of her very being. Harry could easily see her as a Jedi Master someday. The testing was over quickly, and Harry changed her tabs to green.
Hermione was done nearly as quickly. While her connection to the force was not nearly as good as Luna’s, her drive to succeed in whatever she began, was still very much a part of her personality. She was also exceedingly precise. The combination was daunting. Harry had trained all three of them personally and so, was well aware of her abilities. If anything, he pressed her harder than he did the others, in an unconscious effort to not show any favoritism.
In the end it worked out the same. A grinning Hermione joined her peers with brand new green tabs on her shoulders.
“Well…” Harry said happily, “That’s it for now…”
“No it is not, Harry Potter!” Dobby appeared on the floor, sans his brown robe, and holding a lighted weapon. “You has been avoiding this for too long! It is time to test out of Shien!” He indicated the purple bands on Harry’s shoulders.
Harry sighed. He’d hoped to wait a little longer, but he was ready for the challenge.
The others all reascended to the mezzanine to watch what was sure to be an epic combat.
They weren’t disappointed. Unlike with them, there was no counting…no mentoring, no hesitation. What they saw instead was a full speed combat between two closely matched opponents, wielding deadly weapons. Both combatants immediately flung themselves at each other, blades flashing as they tested and probed for weakness. Dobby immediately took the high ground, so to speak, by shifting rapidly into his favorite style, Ataru. Harry countered, and soon, both were bouncing off walls and ceiling, as often as the floor, while they tried to figuratively kill each other.
From there it simply got faster and more furious. For the next fourty minutes, they went through both Ataru and Shien, testing each and every one of the movements, attacks blocks and evasions, until Dobby was satisfied with Harry’s progress.
He called a halt. On the ground, they both saluted each other, and belted their weapons. Harry knelt before his small friend.
Dobby intoned the words: “Harry Potter you has demonstrated the needed proficiency in the arts of Ataru and Shien and is now advanced to Djem-So.” He touched the tabs on Harry’s shoulders and the purple there grew a red stripe.
Harry then echoed the very same words to his friend and advanced Dobby to Djem-So as well.
The next morning Harry announced the advancements to the students, and introduced Neville’s idea to his students, telling them that when they began sparring, they would be using the slips of paper to test the blades. Thunderous applause greeted the advancements and some thoughtful whistles sounded at the use of the parchment to test the blades.
On the third, Remus returned to the castle irritated and exhausted, but happy to be back. While ‘dear’ Rita was rather enamoured of him, or at least the accolades she could garner by printing this ‘tragic’ story, Remus really didn’t like her. In fact, ‘despised’ would not be too harsh a word. Remus Lupin was a quiet, private man, and like most public figures, Rita was anything but. Rita Skeeter was in the muckraking business, for the benefit of Rita Skeeter, and only for Rita Skeeter, and that really twisted Remus’ gut. That the odious reporter’s favorite area of ‘investigation’ was Harry, specifically Harry’s love life, didn’t help matters any.
Unfortunately Harry’s ‘enforced agreement’, between himself, Amelia Bones and Rita Skeeter, left her a loophole. It was small, but Rita was actually a rather fair investigator. She’d found it. He’d told her she could use her preferred methods of reporting, rumour, innuendo, facts, half-truths, and hearsay, as long as she reported them all as such.
Knowing he could make her life…difficult, or even end it most painfully, she stayed mostly clear of the Boy Who Lived.
But his friends were fair game.
As soon as he’d taken the post, she’d begun to question him on his relationships. Subtly at first, but growing more blatant as time passed.
Remus finally got so annoyed, he gripped her by the arms and let a little of the wolf show. In a voice that was more suited to an animal than an man, he told her in a threatening growl: “Miss Skeeter. My personal life is just that…personal. If you continue to pester me with your asinine questions, I should let you know, that were I to do any harm to you, I have diplomatic immunity in thirty-seven countries around the world…including Puerto Rico!”
She got the hint and backed off.
Rita learned a valuable lesson over those days. When your life depends upon the kindness of others, do not make them angry with you!
Tonks underscored that lesson when she dropped a muggle tee shirt on Rita’s desk, with the legend: “NEVER TICKLE A SLEEPING DRAGON! (For you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.)”
When his relief arrived, he was accompanied by Carolyn Chapman, one of the few people Rita feared even more than Voldemort. Being the professional he was, Remus gave a quick, but thorough brief on the most troublesome Rita Skeeter, including her favorite areas of inquiry and most frequently asked questions, and then saluting him, barked: “Morituri te Salutant!” before vanishing with a ‘pop’.
Behind him, Carolyn introduced Rita to the man who would protect her…Minuard Rocheleau. To the reporter’s jaundiced eye, it looked like Rocheleau wanted the privilege of killing her himself.
With a cheery salutation, Carolyn also disapparated, leaving the muckraker and her new bodyguard alone. He was of average height, stocky build, and completely forgettable. The only things of note about him were his graying hair which he wore clipped very short, the black tee shirt which bore the same legend as the one Tonks had given her, and his eyes, which were utterly merciless. Those eyes terrified Rita.
Nervously, Rita served some tea to her new bodyguard. He didn’t touch it.
“So…Minuard, is it?” She asked. At his stony silence, she continued. “May I call you Minuard?”
“No.” The word was lightly carried, but as serious as death itself. Rita shuddered.
“All right. Tell me about yourself, Mr. Rocheleau.”
In that same deadly voice, Rocheleau said: “I am a mudblood. I was trained to use magic, and then forbidden to do so, by your oppressive government. I have served in Her Majesty’s Special Boat Service for ten years. I enjoy explosive sabotage, small caliber firearms, and full contact karate. I do not like purebloods. I most assuredly do not like you, but I have been assigned to prevent your being captured or killed by the enemy…even if it means killing you myself.” He smiled tightly. “Let’s hope it comes to that, shall we?”
With trembling hands, Rita drank her tea and cursed the day she met Harry Potter!
As Remus appeared in the castle, Tonks immediately grabbed him and they vanished into his quarters, not to be seen until the next morning.
In the second week of December, the first real snow came. Since October, it had been getting steadily colder and the rain was as it normally was for late November and early December, but now the snow fell. A lot! Drifts of snow three and four feet tall littered the estate, and a thick blanket of white covered everything else.
For Harry, it was merely a modification of their training schedule. They’d been training indoors with their lightsabers, meditation and force exercises, but outdoors it was mostly physical conditioning. To him, the heavy blanket of snow simply meant that he would allow the students an additional five minutes or so, to complete each of the outdoor tasks.
He also notified the elves to be ready to rescue any of the students, should it become necessary.
Every morning, rain or shine, Harry set the example. He ran. He usually found his Jedi trainees running with him, not to ease their own workload, but because they had gotten to enjoy the exercise. They also found that the early morning workouts made concentrating on the lightsaber training, far easier.
Of course, there were the usual slug-a-bed’s.
This particular morning he and Hermione led the pack. Breathing in the cold, crisp air, he ran through the icy woods. Hermione ran by his side and the rest of his students ran along closely behind him.
They’d long since learned to run silently, and as he ran, Harry was planning a stealth course for the later months.
For the time being, he simply enjoyed life.
Several hours later, Harry was at his desk, going over the training records. He wasn’t enjoying his life nearly so much. All but a few of his students were ready to advance to Makashi. Unfortunately, Ron was one of those who were not. He sighed. He hated the idea, but it looked like he was going to have ‘tank’ his first friend. Unfortunately, Ron was too far along to try to obliviate. In fact, Carolyn had strictly warned him against trying to remove more than a month or so worth of memories. Not even the memory specialists at the DoM would try to remove more than that.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Came Hermione’s concerned voice. The brown haired witch had felt his disquiet through their bond and came to discover its reason. She settled herself into one of the comfortable chairs in front of the desk. Harry had felt her enter the room and wondered again at the oddity. She was always there whenever he needed her.
“You know, Hermione, you’re just like Hedwig.”
“If I didn’t know how much you love Hedwig, I might be insulted by that.”
Harry chuckled. “No insult was intended, my heart. What I meant, was that both of you always know exactly when I need you.”
“Of course. She’s your familiar and I’m your betrothed. Besides, I’ve always known when you needed me, Harry. Almost from the very first.”
“You’re far more than my betrothed, Hermione. I hope you know that.” Harry stood from his chair and rounded the desk. Scooping Hermione up, he sat and arranged her on his lap.
“I do, and I love you too, Harry.” Hermione gave him a gentle kiss, and then backed away, shifting her body to straddle him. “Now, what’s up?”
Harry sighed. “It’s Ron.”
“I thought as much.”
“He’s the first person my age I could ever call ‘friend’.”
“I know sweetie. He’s my friend too. But you have to think about the welfare of the group, not just one individual.”
“Harry, you’re training an army. No matter what you call us, you’re training an army. You have to understand, the needs of that army come first. Not just food, supplies and training, but morale too. Jedi or no, any favoritism could destroy the foundations of that army.”
“Hermione, you and I are lovers. Isn’t that the same thing?”
“Actually…no.” Hermione shook her head. “So far as anyone of us can see, you’ve shown no favoritism to anyone…not even me. Remember, you set the rules when we started. We keep our relationship up front. Nothing we’ve done is on the sly. We’ve never made any secret of our being together, but we keep our…personal lives, personal. I spoke to my parents about that, back in August. Daddy insisted that in public…in class, on the field, in training…we keep it completely professional. He says as long as we keep our…well, he says: ‘sexual shenanigans’, in our quarters, it’s not a problem. We’ve done that.”
Harry leaned forward and rested his chin on Hermione’s shoulder, closed his eyes and breathed in her scent, thinking about nothing and everything, for a long while, before he answered her.
“Hermione, I really don’t want to tank him.” He whispered.
“I’m glad you don’t, Harry. Actually, it’s a good thing that you don’t. That shows you have a conscience. ‘Course, I’ve always known that!” She pulled back and dropped a little kiss on Harry’s nose. “On the other hand, just the fact that you’re considering putting him into stasis at all, shows that you’re thinking like a general, and not like a schoolboy.
“Yeah.” Harry sighed.
“Fortunately, there is a way out.”
“I had a little chat with Luna.”
“Really? She agreed?”
“Well, that’s a relief!” Harry sighed again.
“When are you going to call him in?”
“I’m, going to give him until after the advancement test. Maybe seeing all his peers being advanced over him will help to motivate him.”
“I don’t think it will, but I know you have to try.”
Harry’s objection was lost as Hermione joined her mouth to his.
Out in the hall, Luna smiled gently, sealed the door and erected privacy wards, before she danced off to her quarters, planning her seduction of a certain redhead.
Several hundred miles away, in an old rotting manor house, a snake-like man tipped a bottle to his lips as he felt the headache blossom. He hoped this dose would be enough to see him through the night, but feared it would not be.
The ministry as a whole, was surprisingly accepting of the squibs who’d volunteered to sort through the tonnes of parchment that hid, obscured, confused and obfuscated every law the wizarding world had. That was probably because the ones who would have opposed the new measures most strenuously, were either imprisoned, or had fled and were facing arrest and trial the second they were seen in public. There were some bigots remaining who felt squibs had no place in the wizarding world, but the new regulations…and the simple fact that nobody else wanted the job…kept those mutterings to a minimum.
As a result of the diligent labour of the previously detestable squibs, inequitable laws were stricken and other laws, new laws more favorable to all, were put in their places.
Unfortunately it is a fact of human nature, wizard or no, that once a group of people have grown accustomed to something, they tend to think of it as their sovereign right. Put plainly, the purebloods saw their influence draining away and they would do nearly anything to regain it.
Including join Voldemort.
December the fifteenth was a red-letter day for Vernon and Petunia Dursley. Both would have willingly sold their souls to keep that day from arriving, because December fifteenth was the day they would return to Privet Drive.
For Dudley it wasn’t so bad. He was already attending Stonewall and figured this was his chance to atone for the wrongs he’d done. Since Piers and the ‘gang’ were in jail, they’d give him no grief. Carolyn had told him Mister Branck had been sacked, and that his teaching credentials had been revoked for the next five years. She told him that the former teacher been damn lucky to avoid prison for racketeering, but he’d done a deal. That deal had included rolling over on Piers and the others.
Dudley knew he’d been given a second chance and he intended to take up that chance with both hands. Even before his trial, he’d decided that he would turn to helping his neighbors, and when they asked him why, he’d told them the truth…the whole truth. Over the past months, that decision had garnered him a great deal of neighborhood stock. While it had taken time, and a great deal of effort, the neighbors had decided he could be depended upon. Given what he’d told them, that was no small feat.
Of them all, the price was dearest to Petunia. For the previous fourteen years, she’d built up a social position as the leader of the block. Her carefully orchestrated gossip, describing her as selflessly taking in that worthless mongrel, when the freak’s family had died, driving drunk, no less, and caring for him despite his criminal tendencies, had garnered her the image of a caring and loving mother, sacrificing of herself to care for a poor, mentally deficient, and often sociopathic, orphan child.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Petunia Dursley was a petty, vindictive, small-hearted bitch, and likely would have made good match for the petty, vindictive, and small-hearted bigot who’d made Harry’s life at Hogwarts, such an unremitting hell over the past five years.
Now, that Chapman woman had informed them, the story had already been passed…the whole story. Petunia was devastated. How could she possibly face the neighbors?
Mrs. Ogilvie in Number six would be the first to notice, her return and she’d call Mrs. Tilldale in fourteen on the telly. Irma Tilldale would spread the news like the gossipy magpie she was and within minutes the whole neighborhood would be there to greet their…wayward friends.
Sullenly, she continued on her endless cleaning routine, in the flat the freak had provided them. With every step she took, she could felt he weight of that blasted bracelet on her ankle.
Dudley walked from his last class of the day to the library. Only two years before, he would have sneered at the very idea of entering the library, as that’s where all the Nancy-boys went so they wouldn’t get beat-up. Today it was a different story. Harry’s intervention, not once, but thrice, had changed his views on so many things. He’d dropped another ten kilos, despite his mother’s wailing on, about him fading away to nothing, and now, at a touch over one hundred fifty keys, he was noticeably thinner, and felt a lot better about himself. He ran and did calisthenics every morning, worked out at the gym at noontimes and pushed himself hard to bring up his marks.
And then, there was Marissa. Marissa Gentry. She’d started out as a volunteer tutor, to help him study. But over the months since he’d returned to Stonewall, their relationship had grown into something…stronger. They weren’t ‘in love’ as such, but there was a definite ‘like’ there.
Dudley could easily see them dating one day. As a matter of fact, there was a church-sponsored Christmas dance here at the school on the twenty-first. Maybe he’d ask her to go with him…if she didn’t have a date already.
His eyes lit up when he saw the brown haired girl waiting for him. She smiled brightly as well, and then led him to ‘their’ table to study.
Petunia’s fears were well placed. Signs posted along the streets throughout the neighborhood, and along the path to the house, read: ‘WELCOME BACK, CHILD ABUSERS!!’, ‘We thought you were decent people!’, ‘Back to the scene of the crime, eh?’, ‘NO CHILD MOLESTERS!’, ‘Our Children Aren’t Safe!’, ‘Abusers should hang!’ ‘NORMAL PEOPLE don’t rape their nephews!’, and things even more insulting. Petunia was absolutely mortified! Vernon looked like he was about to have a stroke!
What was worse, were the news people. Television cameras parked here and there, and cameras flooded their faces with light. Reporters hollered questions like: “How long do you have to wear that tracking bracelet?” “Where is your nephew now?”, “Is he even alive?”, “How safe is your son?”, “Are our children safe?”
Through it all, Carolyn smiled her sharklike smile, enjoying every moment of their humiliation. When the Dursleys had finally managed the gauntlet, and shut themselves away from the world, she signaled for attention.
“I represent the concerns of Harry Potter, Lord Gryffindor. He has asked me if he could make a statement. I felt it was not in his best interests to do so, but he is a most insistent young man, so, now I present to you, Lord Gryffindor, Potter, Black, Duke of Anglesey, Duke of Lincolnshire, and Duke of Orkney and the Hebrides…Harry Potter.
With that, a well-dressed young man that most of the neighborhood thought of as a troublemaking hooligan stepped out of Carolyn’s Land Rover.
He got straight to the point. In a soft, gravelly voice that nevertheless carried to each and every one there, he began.
“I grew up here, being thought of as a criminal. That none of it was true, is absolutely immaterial. You people believed it, because my aunt told you to. As far as I’m concerned, you lot, are nearly as guilty as they are. Instead of thinking for yourselves, you simply went along with what you were told. How, I ask you, Missus Ogilvie, can you correlate the kid who tended your garden, with the hoodlum Petunia described? How, Missus Tilldale, could you see the child I was, bleeding from the beatings my uncle gave me, and look the other way? Mister Bordon, how could you watch my cousin and his gang of hoodlums chase me down and beat me bloody three times a week and not think it important enough to try to stop it? How, can you, Arabella Figg, never bother to report something like this? Or did you?”
Arabella Figg shook with unshed tears. “I did, Harry.” She whispered. He heard her anyway.
“All right then, we’ll discuss this later. As for the rest of you, it is the community’s duty to protect our children from harm…from any source. I say you have all failed in that duty!”
The people of Privet drive were getting more and more nervous, as this young man who was apparently as wealthy as the Queen, took them to task.
“While I will have nightmares for years to come, the past is the past. But the future lies before you. To that end, I challenge you. I challenge you all to form a truly effective neighborhood watch system…not just for the street, but for the whole area. Not for gossip, or as vigilantes, but to actually do some good. Watch over your neighbor’s house when they are on holiday. Liaise with the police for help. They’ll arrange for RT’s. Clean up the play-park, make sure the equipment there is unmolested by vandals, or if it is, fix it. Look out for each other’s children. Maybe if they’d been held accountable by anyone, Dudley, Piers, Malcolm, Dennis, and Gordon, wouldn’t be in prison, or in Dudley’s case, on parole.
Just so you all know, the only reason Dudley is not in prison with his friends is because he made the decision on his own, and long before his friends were arrested…more than a year ago, actually, to turn himself around. Yes, I got involved, but the punishment he received is precisely the same as the other boys would have gotten…if they hadn’t been involved in the shakedown business.”
“Mister Potter, given what they’ve done to you, why did you intercede on your aunt’s and uncle’s behalf?” a reporter shouted, hoping or an emotional response. Behind him was a cameraman, hoping for the same. After all, rage and tantrums carried the news! What they got instead was cool, if a bit frightening, reasoning and logic. Harry squinted a bit from the brilliance of the camera’s lamp, but kept himself from going blind by looking at the reporter rather than the camera.
“That’s a good question. Basically the answer is this. My aunt and uncle could have gone to prison for their embezzlement, but since embezzlement is a non-violent crime, well that’s no real punishment. It’s imprisonment, yes, but the prisons for non-violent offenders are rather nice, maybe not what they enjoyed here, but a damn sight better than they treated me. They wouldn’t have to work for a living, and any work they did do would be compensated, they’d be provided for, without cost to themselves for the duration of their sentence. They’d be able to study anything they wanted to study, if he wanted to, Vernon could study to become a solicitor, and God knows where that would lead. They’d even be able to leave on weekends and the like. If, on the other hand they’d been sent to prison for the charges of abuse and molestation, they would be dead within a month. My way, they’re faced with the consequences of their actions, every - single - day, for the next thirty years. I own the house they live in, so they pay rent to me. I hold a majority interest in the company that provides them their living, so he’ll earn enough to make ends meet, but not much more. Along with the sentence, imposed by the court, they’ll face the people they went so out of their way to impress, on a daily basis, with those people knowing exactly what they are.
Basically, I gave them the choice…do things this way or the courts will prosecute them to the fullest extent they can. You, their neighbors, know what they’ve done. For years, you’ve ignored the evidence, now your eyes have been opened.
Please do not harass them unduly, they still have their lives to go on with, just try not to think of them as the pillars of the community that they’ve pretended to be.
“Mister Potter, what was their sentence?” The reporter asked. The neighbors were interested too. Unfortunately Harry disappointed them.
“That’s between them and the court. And with that, I must say good bye.” He returned to Carolyn’s Land Rover and buckled in.
Outside the car, he heard Carolyn calling: “No further questions please!” before she opened the driver’s door climbed in and closed the door again.
“Damn, Harry, you know how to give an interview!” She chuckled. “They’re clamoring for more!”
“Good. Now the only way they can get the true story, is to go to those who know.” He shot her a mischievous grin.
Carolyn gave a sharp laugh as she started the motor, shifted into gear and eased the vehicle away from the kerb.
Following Dumbledore’s orders, Mundungus Fletcher reported the Dursley’s return to Privet Drive. As soon as he had, Dumbledore informed Snape and instructed him to make Voldemort aware of the same.
Harry held the combined birthday, on December sixteenth. The celebrants, Dora Carey, Colin Creevey, Dwight Hindley, Anthony Goldstein, and Lisa Turpin all had a blast. Gifts given were more of the frivolous variety than serious gifts, but each did get something meaningful from parents, or from Harry.
On the seventeenth, “OK, listen up, people!” Harry called. “I’m going to call your names in no particular order, and as I do, each of you will be tested for your knowledge of Shii-Cho. Since Dobby, Tonks, Remus and Mackenzie are the most experienced people we have, they will be helping me cut down the time needed to test the lot of you. In the event they need help, I will take over. First up, will be Lavender, Susan, Terry, Laura and Oliver.
Since we haven’t the room here to safely test four people at a time, there will be four different testing areas in the castle. One of us will be in each. Now, Tonks, Remus Mackenzie and I have drawn lots, and so; the room on the left side of the Great hall will be number one. Mack will be there.” Harry pointed to the door leading to the room indicated. “The large gymnasium will be two, and you’ll find Tonks there. The courtyard and Remus will be three, the elves have conjured a solid floor over the swimming pool and that will be four, with Dobby, and here, will be five, and I pulled the short straw. Now, each of you has been assigned completely randomly. I don’t know where you’ll go until I read your name on the list. When you’re done testing, I want you to remain in that area and watch the others as they’re tested. It’ll give you an idea of their capabilities which will come in handy when we do begin sparring.”
Terry, the room off the hall. Susan, you go to the Gym. Laura, you go see Dobby. Oliver, you head out to the courtyard. Lavender, you stay here.”
“Harry! It’s freezing out there!” Wood protested.
“Consider it revenge for all the times you dragged my arse out of a nice warm bed at five in the morning.” Harry shot back. As most were aware of Oliver’s…exuberance, where Quidditch was involved, laughter filled the hall.
After the grousing Oliver had gone, Harry explained that a weather shield had been placed over the courtyard and it wouldn’t be too cold. Sighs of relief could be heard throughout the room.
Oliver swore revenge when he discovered the shield had been placed and the courtyard was actually…if not warm, then not freezing either.
Harry turned to his first ‘victim’. “Lavender? Are you ready?”
She understood what he was asking. While a bubbly personality, Lavender had little personal confidence. For so long, she’d been thought of as an airhead with nice boobs, that in her deepest heart of hearts she often wondered if it was really true. Nodding somewhat nervously, she ascended the stage.
Carefully exchanging and checking lightsabers, then doing so again, Harry pulled a strip of paper from his tunic and slid the blade across it. Lavender did the same. Harry had introduced Neville’s idea the day after he’d first seen it and insisted everyone use it.
“This will be a test of form and precision. It’ll also be your first taste of sparring. Striking another lightsaber is gonna feel different than practicing your katas. So far you’ve been facing the ‘invisible enemy’. Today, you’ll be facing a real one.”
Then, they began.
Lavender was actually much better with a blade than almost anybody had given her credit for. She was a dedicated student and her affinity for healing and life-magicks actually helped her in her use of the force.
They started off slowly, Harry calling out the numbers and getting her used to the idea of facing a living opponent.
Lavender did, and soon he was speeding things up. Like Luna, she tapped into the force quickly, though not immediately, and like Hermione, her bladework was exceedingly precise, though in Lavender’s case, it was something more. She defended exceptionally well, but her attacks were …cautious…almost reluctant
Harry was concerned about that. Such reluctance in combat would be a problem.
Ron was watching, amazed that the girl they’d all thought of as a nice looking bird with a great rack, but nothing really going on upstairs, was actually meeting Harry’s blade, stroke for stroke.
Twenty-five minutes later, after testing her, both right handed and left, Harry called a halt and awarded Lavender the yellow tabs of Makashi.
Tonks had a similar experience with Susan as Harry had had with Neville. She already knew that Susan was ready to advance, and so, pressed the younger witch as hard as she thought safe. In the end, Susan was grinning fit to split her face. Tonks hugged the girl tightly, then touched her shoulder tabs with her wand, turning them green.
Mackenzie tested Terry Boot thoroughly. A stickler for precision, he made Terry work hard for his advancement, but like the others, Terry had proved his basic knowledge in the form Shii-Cho.
Remus had a blast with Oliver, one of the few athletes in the crowd. While all the students were in impressive physical shape, given the tortures they underwent each day, Oliver was a special case. Remus had known his elder brother in school and wanted to see if Michael’s determination and drive had carried over to his younger sibling.
It had. Oliver proved as capable as Michael ever was. His perfectionism in Quidditch carried over to the lightsaber, and sooner than Remus would have expected, the testing was over and Wood was sporting brand new yellow patches on his shoulders.
Next up, were Angelina, Daphne, Terrance, Su Li, and Derek.
Harry tested Su Li. Like Luna, she had a connection to the force. Like Mackenzie, she had experience with the broadsword, having practiced with the Jian since she was six. The testing went quickly and in less than twenty minutes, Harry had advanced her to Makashi as well.
Dean, Hannah, Pucey Katie and Lisa followed them, with Harry testing Hannah. A good friend of Susan they frequently practiced together, and so, she’d picked up some of the same tricks Susan had. It served to advance her, But Harry cautioned her against using them too often. Tricks are an asset from time to time, but if depended upon, or used too frequently, they could easily become a liability.
The next group included both Patils, Natalie and the Weasley twins, followed by the Montgomery’s, Sally Ann, Ginny and Sara.
Harry faced George and then Ginny.
Harry was pleasantly surprised to find that George could be serious. Here, he focused entirely on the blade, drawing on the force to battle Harry.
Ginny proved to be lightning fast, and as competent with a blade as she was with a broomstick.
Six hours later, they were nearly done. Each student waited for his or her testing. Ron was growing more irritated by the minute. His name hadn’t been called. Yeah, he sometimes messed up, but he should’ve been called with the rest of them. With him, were Seamus, Justin, and Anthony. All were equally put off, because they hadn’t been called, but all were behind in their training, two of them…badly.
At the end of the day, Harry stood once more on the stage.
“You will note that a few of you are not ready to test. When you are, I’ll be waiting.” Harry’s eyes scanned the few students who had not tested, and lingering the longest on Ron’s. Ron wanted to object, but truly, he couldn’t. The determined look in Harry’s eyes was sobering. He knew he was at fault, and he understood that Harry had to play it this way. He didn’t like it, but he did understand.
That evening, Snape appeared before his master and sank to one knee.
“You bring news, Severus?
“I do, master. The Dursleys have returned to their home.”
“Have they now? Well, we must…welcome them home.”
“The muggle lover Weasley, has informed me that during the solstice, the filth normally celebrate the Christian holiday instead of Yule. There should be a number of public gatherings in or near the Dursley’s neighborhood during that time. Perhaps we can strike a large gathering and eliminate more than just one pitiful family.”
Voldemort thought about his spy’s suggestion, then agreed. “Find out what you can about these celebrations.” He ordered. “Perhaps we can liven them.”
“I live to serve, Master.” Snape rose, backed away and departed.
Nagini could smell the duplicity in the black-haired man, but didn’t dare try to communicate her distrust to her master. Her master had been frightening of late, and she ofttimes feared he would kill and eat her. The madness was contained within for the now, but she knew that it seethed under his scales, ready to break free at any time.
The foul smelling waters he’d been drinking didn’t help her peace of mind any.
Nagini shuddered in fear as Voldemort picked the large snake up and cradled her in his lap, absently stroking her glistening scales as he dreamed about the glory of his future empire.
Hermione spoke with Luna before retiring to bed.
“Are you sure you want to do this Luna? He’s awfully stubborn.”
“He is, but he’s more than that.”
“Hermione you see him as the irritating, abusive prat he’s been to you for so many years, but I see the wonderful, witty, caring, and yes, temper-prone and jealous man he is. You and I both know it was Dumbledore’s compulsions that created that aspect of his personality. Ronald and I grew up together. He was nothing like that as a child. Ginny and I were the best of friends until just before your first year. I was there when Dumbledore came to the Burrow and cast his compulsions on them all.”
“How did you escape?”
“He never noticed me, because I know how to go unseen. More, since he cast the obfuscation charm on me, he thought I was of little concern. He’ll find out soon enough how very wrong he was.”
Changing topics, she added: “Now, it’s time for bed, and Harry’s waiting for you.”
Luna abruptly stood and escorted a confused Hermione from her room with a happy smile.
Hermione walked from Luna’s room to the quarters she shared with Harry.
Harry was just climbing into their bed when she entered. As she’d done so many times before, he picked up on her disquiet. He stood and wrapped his arms around her, holding her warmly.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?”
“Nothing wrong, so to speak, just…odd.”
“I was just having a little chat with Luna.”
“She made a lot of things very clear to me, and now, I’m just as confused as before.”
“Hermione, I can’t claim to be an expert in, or even a student of psychology, but I’ve found that if I accept Luna’s words as provisional truths, I usually find them to be more factual than anyone expects.”
“That was as strange as anything Luna has ever told me, Harry. Go to bed. Obviously your brain’s worn out.” She snarked.
“Oh, thank you, ever so much.” He feigned outrage. Then in a softer tone: “Join me?”
“In a bit.” Hermione kissed him lightly as he crawled into the bed, and went to the small lounge they shared.
Hermione sat and sipped her tea, and thought for a while longer but in the end decided to take Harry’s advice. She yawned as she headed for the loo to brush up before stripping off and slipping under the covers with her beloved.
Harry was already snoring. She chuckled softly, wrapped herself around her lover, closed her eyes and went to sleep.
The next day, after their morning’s training, Ron Weasley set his lightsaber on the press, shucked his clothing, crammed it into the mesh bag at the foot of the bed, donned his bathrobe and headed for the shower.
He really wasn’t in a good mood. He was still hacked off that nearly all of the other students had been advanced over him…even Ginny, and that Quirke bint had as well. He could understand Ginny. She was wicked fast, and had what Hermione called an ‘instinctive understanding’ of the lightsaber, but Orla was three years younger! How could she be advanced to Makashi, when he, Harry’s best friend, was still stuck in the basics?
Dean, Seamus and Terry were in the shower room already, so after a half hour of towel snapping and water fights, he was mostly clean. He dried himself off, wrapped himself in his bathrobe and returned to his room.
As usual, a fresh uniform awaited him on the bed. He picked it up and when it unfolded, a sealed letter fell out. He sat on the bed and picked up the envelope. Opening it, he read the short missive inside.
Come to my office after lunch.
Worried that he’d done something to earn the ire of one of the most powerful wizards on the planet, not to mention the only trained Jedi Knight, he dressed slowly, clipped his lightsaber to his belt and trudged to the dining room.
Lunch was as always, healthy, delicious and filling, though Ron frequently felt he wasn’t getting quite enough to eat…especially following a heavy workout. Still, under the carefully controlled diet and exercise programme, he and the others had rapidly lost their fat, and were developing muscles. He actually enjoyed the Tai Chi they studied, even if he didn’t understand what good it was, and he’d already gotten used to the five kilometer runs, heavy calisthenics and weight training they did on alternate mornings. He was even keeping pace with the first group!
He wasn’t having much luck touching the force, but he didn’t understand how a ‘mystical energy field’ could do anything for him, anyway.
Eating and laughing people filled the dining room, which was the center of the group’s social arena. Each day’s training was strenuous and deadly serious, but here, one could let one’s hair down.
Though there was a game-room with quite a few muggle and wizarding games, a wireless and a muggle stereo, but few had the time to use them. A library located in another part of the castle, ensured a quiet study area for those who wished to do so. There really was no time to spare for academics, but there were a few teachers present, and while the teachers focused on the younger children in the castle, the older students had formed study groups on some of the Jedi subjects in their few precious spare minutes. He also suspected that some of the couples who’d paired off were using the library as a quiet place to snog.
~Speaking of pairing off, I think Ginny is seeing Seamus. Maybe me ‘n Fred ‘n George’ll have to have a little ‘chat’ with him, just in case he doesn’t know where he shouldn’t touch!~
Ron left the dining room creating his plan to warn Dean, unaware he was being followed. The lithe blond behind him kept to the shadows, observing his attitude all the way. Hermione had spoken with her the previous week, asking her if she would help Ron in his studies. She agreed, of course. After all, she had chosen him. Despite all his bravado, he was still a shy, uncertain lad with an inferiority complex…one fostered by a restrictive and overbearing mother. She knew he had the same carnal desires as everybody else, but was restrained from realizing those desires by the life-long training given him by that same mother. For someone who had seven children, Luna thought Molly Weasley’s attitude was more than a little hypocritical.
Now, she could legitimately make him see those desires were neither disrespectful, nor unwanted.
Simply put, Luna was randy.
As he entered Harry’s office, she shook her head sadly. Ron should have detected her by now.
Inside Harry and Hermione were waiting. Harry sat behind his desk, while Hermione perched her hip on the edge.
“Come in, Ron. Please, have a seat.”
Ron sat and started: “Hey, Harry I…” only to see Harry hold up his hand. “You can come in too, Luna.”
Ron looked goggle-eyed at Luna’s presence. He knew he’d missed her behind him and knew he was in trouble.
Luna Lovegood drifted into the room and sat on the arm of Ron’s chair, bringing knowing smirks from both Harry and Hermione.
Harry got serious.
“Ron, we have a problem here, and to put it simply, the problem is you.”
“Ron, you have fallen behind…badly behind. I’ve been watching you very carefully, Ron. While nearly all your peers have begun Makashi, you are still stuck in the first half of Shii-Cho. The problem isn’t that you can’t do it, you have the ability or you wouldn’t be here. What the problem is; is that you are spending so much time screwing around, that you’re not focusing on the form.”
Before Ron could reply, Harry went on.
“Haven’t you ever noticed that there’s always at least fifteen feet between you and anybody else in the practice room? That’s because the rest of the students don’t want to get sliced up! You’re becoming a danger to the rest of us. If your lightsaber was set to full power, your swinging it the way you do, would cut one of our friends in half. And then where would we be?”
“Ron, we both love you. You were my first friend of my own age. You helped me save Hermione from a troll. We’ve been through some pretty nasty shit together, and we’ve come through it a little older, and a little wiser, but I have the safety of a hundred and two human beings and eighty-three house elves to worry about. I’ve told you before, there is absolutely no room for error here. I’ve given you chance after chance, I’ve even assigned Neville to mentor you. He’s given me some good reports, and while you’ve improved quite a bit, it’s not enough. Despite the extra time he spends with you, you’re so far behind in your bladework, if you went into combat today, you’d be dead within a minute. I don’t want that!
Now, it’s too late to mind-wipe you, as you’ve had more than three months training, so I have only two choices. First I can put you in a stasis tube next to Ernie…” Ron’s mind instantly flashed to the steel and glass chamber in which Ernie McMillan was safely stored. Harry had imprisoned him in October, for his continual harassment of the female members of the group. Now, he was in the tube until this was over.
“You’re gonna kill me?” Ron asked, gulping in fear.
“What?” Harry’s face took on a look of shock and revulsion. Hermione’s face echoed Harry’s. “No, I’m not going to kill you Ron. That would be stupid! What I’m going to do; is assign Luna here, as a full-time, personal tutor to bring you up to speed. If you don’t improve within what I consider a reasonable amount of time, you go into the tank. Friend or no, I can’t do anything more for you. This is your last chance, Ron. It’s as simple as that. Luna, will you accept the assignment?
“Of course, Harry.” Luna nodded, smiling happily.
“Good. Ron, do you accept Luna as a tutor?”
“Fine. I’ll expect improvement within two weeks. Now get out of here, both of you.”
Luna pulled the disoriented Ron from his chair and out the door. Harry closed his eyes, threw his hands up and around his head, and leaned back against the heavy cushion of the chair, then sighed: “God, I wish I hadn’t had to do that.”
Hermione moved from the edge of the desk to the arm of his chair, and began to run her fingers idly though his unruly hair.
“Harry, It could have been a lot worse. Like you said, if his lightsaber was at full power, people would be missing limbs…or dead!”
“I know, but…”
Hermione knew this part of Harry very well indeed. In fact, she felt most privileged to be the one before whom he let his guard down. He always put forth the self-assured leader, but she knew he was more afraid of being wrong than anything else.
She knew his confident mien during audiences with the Minister, the Prime Minister or even the Queen, was just a facade to cover his unease. In truth, Harry was still the scared little boy from the cupboard under the stairs. She knew that he thought if his students didn’t survive, it would be his fault and he couldn’t bear that.
Hermione swiveled from her position on the arm of his chair, onto his lap, her knees in either side of his hips. She gently joined her lips to his and proceeded to soothe his disquiet in the oldest way known to man…or in this case, woman.
A knock at their door interrupted their ‘alone time’. Growling, Harry called out: “Two minutes!” Sighing Hermione climbed off his lap and arranged her clothing, as Harry stood and did the same.
Once done, Harry reseated himself, and gestured to the door. It swung open as Hermione seated herself at the side of the desk.
In walked the other three deficient students. Seamus Finnegan, Anthony Goldstein and Justin Finch-Fletchley.
“Have a seat.” Harry ordered.
“You three, and Ron are the only ones left in Shii-Cho. I’ve assigned him a tutor on a full time basis. Since you are nearer the goal than he is, I’ve decided to ask you if you want the same. A tutor will be with you constantly, until I am convinced you no longer need one. If it turns out you cannot advance in a reasonable time, you go into stasis. Seamus, you’re the furthest behind of you three. Ginny has told me you’re progressing well, but I think she’s taking it easy on you. I’m replacing her with Neville.”
Seamus grew pale. He’d seen Macmillan’s seemingly lifeless body in the stasis tube and wanted no part of that. On the other hand, he’d also seen the brutal schedule the ‘new’ Neville had imposed on Ron. He wasn’t sure he wanted that either, but with those the only choices, he gulped, and then squeaked: “Tutor?”
“Alright. Neville?” From behind them, Neville walked into the office.
“Neville, You’ve done great work with Ron, but now, I’ve paired him off with Luna. I want you to take over with Seamus. Will you take him on until he’s ready to test out of Shii-Cho?”
Neville nodded, popped his knuckles, and grinned sadistically.
“Knock it off!” Harry barked, though he wasn’t far from that point himself.
“Seamus, will you accept Neville as a tutor? He’s already through Makashi and into Soresu, so he’ll be the perfect person to help you.”
“All right. Neville, two weeks.” Harry dismissed them. Neville waited until Seamus had passed through the door to begin. “I’m giving up snogging time with my ladies for this! You’d better prove yourself worthy, or I’ll chuck you into that bloody tank myself!”
Harry chuckled as Neville’s voice faded.
“Now, for you two. You’re both closer to testing than either Ron or Seamus. Do you want tutors, or are you willing to work your tails off on your own?”
Not surprisingly, both Anthony and Justin opted to go it alone, but promised to inform him if they needed any extra help. He nodded and told them he’d expect them to test at the end of December, or he’d assign Mackenzie and Tonks as their mentors. Both boys turned pale and promised to be ready.
Harry dismissed them, and closed the door. Turning to his best friend and lover with a hungry look, he asked: “Now, where were we?”
“You were about to bend me over your desk.” She shot back, seductively as she began to lose her clothing.
“Yes. I was.” Harry growled as he dropped his own belt.
In little Hangleton Tom Riddle felt his headache flare. Having already consumed the allowable dosage only three hours before, he clutched his head and moaned: “It’s the middle of the day! Has he no decency?”
Thirty minutes later and feeling much better, Harry and Hermione were all business, as they assembled the class. Harry, Tonks, and Remus would teach Makashi. Mackenzie, Hermione and Susan would assist, as they were the next most qualified. Luna, of course, was in another room with Ron. The other struggling students were also absent. Neville was teaching Seamus, and Dobby, was keeping an eye on Justin and Anthony.
The other students had their favorite students to pair with. Fred and George, Padma and Parvati, and Anna and Anika Montgomery usually chose to work together. As twins, they were the most perfectly matched, physically and mentally. In the case of Gred and Forge, Harry had had a hard time keeping them from ‘improvising’. He’d frequently end up deactivating their lightsabers and telling them: “Not until we begin free-form dueling.” Fortunately, the Patils and the Montgomery twins were more focused.
When he had their attention, he called out: “Alright, take your seats.” Instantly his students folded themselves into the lotus position and waited his instructions.
“As of this day, you will no longer be known as students. By attaining this level, you have earned the right to be called Jedi apprentices.”
Cheers and hollering resounded from the walls in the great hall. For the sake of the few who had not reached that stage, Harry was glad he’d cast the soundproofing charms.
“Each of you has advanced to Makashi. Some are farther along than others. I expect those who are, to assist as needed, but wait until I point it out. We don’t want any volunteers getting accidentally sliced in half.”
“But Harry, the blades are set to low power!” Parvati commented.
Harry cringed, then called out: “Who here, has been burnt by a lightsaber blade, either your own or someone else’s?”
Nearly all the hands went up…including Parvati’s.
“I noticed a lot of burn reports from the infirmary. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You lot have got to treat these blades as if they are at full power at - all - times…even when you know they are not! If you make a mistake and they are at full power, you can get dead. It’s just best to always consider them to be at combat power, and learn avoid them.”
Behind him, Mackenzie, Remus and Tonks nodded. They had also seen the burn reports.
Harry flicked his wand and several images appeared on the walls. Each was a picture of himself or one of his fellow instructors, in one or more of the Makashi positions.
“Makashi is a more elegant form of dueling. It’s more like fencing with an épée, or a rapier, than what you’ve learned. Tonks, will you join me?”
Since Tonks was one of the best Makashi users he had, he felt she could help him with this demonstration.
A grinning Tonks hopped up onto the stage, and handed Harry her lightsaber. He handed her his, and activated her blade. This was something Harry had insisted on from the very first. He understood better than anyone, that accidents happened and he took as many precautions to ensure those accidents would not be crippling or fatal.
The saffron blade flashed to life with its usual snap-hiss, and settled into a buzzing hum. Checking the blade was still in its training mode, he finished by sliding the now-standard slip of paper across it. The paper began to brown, but remained whole.
Satisfied, Harry deactivated the weapon and handed it back to Tonks.
While he’d been examining her lightsaber, she’d been inspecting his. It was her life on the line after all, since a lightsaber at full power was a deadly threat. She’d seen that the previous month in Diagon Alley.
As soon as they regained their weapons, they relit the blades, and checked them again. Once more, the slips of paper browned from the heat of the energy blades.
Now, blades humming, he faced Tonks. They began to spar very slowly, Harry explaining as they went.
“Makashi is described as being elegant and powerful, and requires extreme precision. It allows the user to attack and defend with little effort, while his opponents wear themselves out. Practitioners often wield the blade one-handed for greater range of movement and fluidity. The form relies on parrès, thrusts, and small, precise cuts…as opposed to the blocking and slashing of the other forms.” Blades crashed and sputtered as he began to test her defenses, while she began to probe his.
“Makashi emphasizes fluid motion and anticipation of a weapon being swung at its target, or in this case, the spells the Deez are going to be firing at you, and requires smooth movements of both the body and blade. This is why we’ve been practicing Yoga, gymnastics and Tai-Chi. The focus here is timing, accuracy, and skill, rather than brute strength.” A lunge and twist and they were on the opposite sides of the stage, Harry still explaining as they fenced.
“Precise footwork and movements are required for maintaining proper distance from the opponent during defense and/or when moving in for an attack. Feints are commonly used to confuse or set-up opponents for a trap.”
A rapid exchange followed, with neither gaining the advantage or losing it. The students were enthralled by the elegant beauty of the duel.
“The footwork of Makashi practitioners follows a single line, front to back, shifting the feet to keep in perfect balance as the practitioner attacks and retreats. Makashi is a style based on balance, on back-and-forth charges, thrusts, and sudden retreats. Those of you who’ve handled an épée or foil will be more comfortable with this style.” Harry intoned, clearly, missing nothing of what Tonks was doing.
“Elegance, gallantry, enchantment, finesse, artfulness, and economy are the core of Makashi.”
“Fleur would love this!” One of the twins piped up.
“Yeah, once she got over how the lightsabers look!” Came the other. Chuckles from those who’d met Fleur spread throughout the room. Harry smiled in agreement. The French Veela would undoubtedly complain at length about the Spartan appearance of the lightsaber hilts, but once she had a hilt she approved of, he was certain she would prove to be an excellent duelist.
Harry continued the lecture.
“From here on in, you must also train yourselves to avoid focusing solely on one form, and that’s an easy trap to fall into. That kind of focus opens you to defeat by your being predictable while your enemy is not.” He shifted effortlessly into Shii-Cho and batted Tonks’ blade across the stage. She growled at him. Smiling, he called the weapon back to him.
“Despite its effectiveness, Makashi is not without its weaknesses. The most important of these, is that with this style, it’s somewhat harder to deflect blaster shots, or in this case, spell-fire, which feels the same. Practice and training will eliminate this weakness. Soon enough I will be inviting people to come in here and shoot at you.”
Most of the students gaped in shock at this announcement.
“Makashi was designed for formal dueling but was adapted for combat. However, one drawback is that Makashi is most potent when used against a single opponent, and is less effective when fighting groups.
One effective way to eliminate this weakness is using twin blades, and no, we will not be learning this. For now, it will only get in the way. After we win, is a different story.
But the greatest flaw with this style of combat is that, as you’ve seen, it’s less able to withstand strikes from other styles, which emphasize power or brute force as opposed to elegance and precision. A hard blow, like I just used, will deflect the blade, or even knock it from your hand. Even Shii-Cho has an advantage here.
As I said before, practice will eliminate this weakness.” He asked: “Ready for the force?”
Tonks’ rather predatory smile was all the answer he got. Sinking effortlessly into the force, he attacked. Equally open to the mystical energy, she repelled his blade.
The students were given a rare treat, as they watched a full speed Makashi duel.
Flashing blades struck and skittered for almost three minutes more before Harry warped his blade around hers and flung it away. Tonks wasn’t done though. She tumbled under his blade and with an outthrust hand, called her lightsaber back, and within seconds she was fighting again. Another minute and Harry had struck the blade away again but this time he used the force to shove her back before calling the lightsaber to him.
Both he and Tonks were sweating freely by then, but neither of them was worn a single bit. Tonks grinned, and bowed. Harry bowed in return and handed her the weapon. A whispered conference and she nodded, before leaving the stage.
Addressing the students again he said: “Well, that went on a bit longer than I had planned, but I called Tonks up here for a reason, and the reason is that she is one of the top five here in Makashi. Dobby is in first place, I am in second, Tonks, Remus and Mackenzie are all kind’a tied for third, with Hermione and Luna tied for fourth. What other lesson did she teach?”
The class chimed; “Down does not mean out!” It was one of Tonks’ favorite sayings in her hand-to-hand classes. Mackenzie and Remus frequently said the same thing.
“All right everybody. Face front and space yourselves.” He ordered. The students spread out, so that each had more than ten feet between them.
“Now, position one: Attack. Place your left foot to the rear, toes out, and the right foot forward. Your right arm forms a line from shoulder to lightsaber. The thumb rests on the activation switch, but once you’ve lit your blade, you don’t have to keep it there. You can curl your thumb around the grip if you want. Hold the grip loosely but firmly enough to keep it from slipping.
Your arm and the blade should be pointing straight ahead and down at around fourty five degrees. This is the beginning position.
Now, from position one, flick the blade up and then to the right. Now to the left, in a ‘T’. OK. Again. Basic position. Flick up, to the right, and the left."
The students followed his instructions, and dozens of golden blades were swishing in a 'T' before him.
Faster. Make it one smooth motion. Up right left, rest. Uprightleft, rest. Uprightleft, rest. Uprightleft, rest.”
The class copied his movements as he called out the rapid-fire instructions. Then when he was sure, he called out the one word they’d all come to hate.
Blades flicked in their ‘T’ shaped pattern.
Student’s focused on getting their movements down perfectly.
The class quickly became one, with each movement mirrored by those around them.
For more than an hour, He worked them until there wasn’t a single waver of a blade tip. He knew his students were unconsciously calling on the force for help and the force was responding.
“All right. Now, we add a thrust. As you move from the right left movement, recenter the blade and thrust straight out.”
Weary groans followed. Harry grinned. “Hey! At least you’ll sleep well tonight!”
Growls and muttered curses greeted his quip.
In the little room off the Great Hall, Luna was introducing Ron to the hazards of lightsaber combat…or rather to the hazards of hacking off the instructor while she has an activated lightsaber in her hands.
As before, Snape knelt before his master. When Voldemort acknowledged him, he began.
“Master, the largest celebration in the area will be a dance at the local school. Stonewall high; I believe it’s called. The dance will begin at eight on the twenty-first, and let out at about eleven that evening.”
“Very well. Let us arrange for that evening’s…entertainment. I want a score of my servants to attend the dance…no, have six burn the muggles’ home once again, before attending. It would not do to have what I have destroyed so easily replaced. Burn the house and kill anyone who comes to investigate.”
“As you wish my lord.”
“Severus, you will lead this raid personally. I want no mistakes!”
“I live to serve, my master.”
A/N: The ‘Puerto Rico; line is from ‘Princess Diaries II’ and was just too good to pass up!
Minuard Rocheleau is a composite person. Any resemblance to that sadistic son of a bitch, who called himself ‘instructor’ during my BUD-S training, is purely co-inky-dink.
I don’t know exactly what the prisons in Britain are like, only that they are classed by the hazard the inmates pose to the public, but I understand the larger federal prisons, at least in the US, are more like hotels with walls. On the other hand, I’ve served for many years on navy vessels, and when I was attending a police academy in San Diego, one corrections deputy there, told us that the living conditions for enlisted men on a naval vessel would be considered under US law to be ‘cruel and unusual punishment’.
Anyone who’s ever studied the martial arts knows what the invisible enemy is. For those of you who don’t, the invisible enemy is the term used in certain martial arts during the practice katas, to indicate the necessity of both precision and accuracy of form. My first martial arts Sensei, Master Iwashta, would say: “One must overcome the invisible enemy before facing a living opponent.”
The Jian is the beautiful sword used in the advanced levels of Tai-Chi. Many Chinese children are introduced to Tai-Chi as soon as they can focus and follow instructions, and a child using the Jian by age six is not unusual.
Dudley is still around 350 pounds, but given he appeared (as written) in canon, to be around four hundred and some, a fourty kilo (88Lb) loss for a year and a half is a reasonable estimate. Remember, Dudley decided on his own to turn himself around at the beginning of he previous school year.
I got most of the descriptions of the lightsaber styles from the article on Lightsabers from Wookiepedia.
Paper begins to burn at 451° F. That’s enough to give a nasty burn…ask any baker.