Harry pulls a prank...it doesn't work as well as it should. Dobby pulls a prank and Voldy gets a tummy ache. Harry and Hermione have a chat with Judith. Draco takes points and Minerva gives them b...
On the morning of February fifteenth, Voldemort woke to such agony, he actually killed the group of three Death Eaters who stood guard outside his chambers.
There was an underlying disquiet in the castle that morning. The students could all sense the tension in the air. Even the elves were wary.
As Harry and Hermione left the castle for their morning run, the rest discovered what the problem was.
“I can’t see what you’re complaining about.” Harry wheedled, as he followed a steaming Hermione onto the lawn. “It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve done that, you know. And after all, you did pull a prank on me last night, right?”
“Harry! You tied me to the bed and covered me with honey!”
“But I…cleaned you right up, didn’t I?”
“Yes…but that’s not the point!” Hermione snapped back, blushing in remembrance of the erotic cleansing.
“You know you taste really, really good, covered in honey.”
“Harry! That’s not the point, and you know it!”
“Ummm…kids!” Mackenzie was definitely not liking the way this conversation was going. “There are sixty five people out here who can hear you!”
Hermione stopped dead and turned a deep crimson, as she noticed every one of the students in formation, staring at them in shock. The twins looked like Christmas had come twice!
All three sets of twins!
“Oh, God!” She tried to block out the snickers, but it was just too much. She turned to flee, but Harry wrapped his arms around her and escorted her to her place.
Mackenzie gave him a glare before beginning his usual torments.
Stretch-ups and calisthenics lasted an hour before Mack decided they were ready to run. Harry was absolutely certain that Mack was after revenge, for defiling Hermione like that…or maybe he was hacked off because he never thought of that, himself.
Of course, that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be ‘reminders’ of their accidental divulgence.
All told, the morning’s physical training went well. Once Hermione got past the infernal giggling coming from around them, she performed as usual, with Harry only having to urge her a little bit, to focus on the now.
The nature trail and Grinder runs that morning saw the students finishing in record times. Most of them would simply jump from whatever they were climbing down instead of waiting to reach the bottom. Harry could feel the force flowing through them as they pushed themselves harder than ever. They improved by the day. It was incremental now, as most of them were performing at beyond Olympic levels, but they were still improving.
Harry was most pleased, and the students were justifiably proud of themselves. Even Mack was satisfied.
Sure enough, at breakfast, there were no less than thirty jars of honey on the table before Harry and Hermione. Even Dobby and Winky donated one, with Dobby writing a note saying that the Manuka was his very favorite kind of honey.
Hermione nearly burnt out her blush-bulb, before scooting her chair back to leave. Harry gently grabbed her arm and said: “Come on, sweetheart. Where’s your sense of humour? After all, we did deserve this.”
“First off…” She snarled. “My sense of humour is alive and well, thank you very much, and no…we did not deserve this. YOU deserved this!” She rose and stomped away.
Harry sighed. While Hermione could be snappish at times, this was quite unlike her. He’d have to address her anger before it got out of control.
Standing, he addressed the students. “All right, people. We’ve had our fun for the day. Now it’s time to get back to work. After breakfast is meditation, followed by lightsaber practice! By the way, I’m keeping the honey!”
He left to the raucous laughter of sixty-two students, five adults and two house elves.
As Harry walked down the corridor, he could feel Hermione through the force. She was in their shared quarters, and he could tell she wasn’t happy.
He entered the room to find her in a funk. He called for Winky to bring some tea, and as the elf delivered it, he sat sideways beside his beloved, wrapping his arms around her and pulled her into a warm hug. At first, Hermione tried to shy away, but as she had, so often in the past, he refused to let her go. Eventually, she sighed in defeat and nestled into his embrace. He held her like that for almost an hour before he asked: “Wanna talk about it?”
Hermione Granger was nobody to put off till tomorrow, so she just came right out and said it. Those three little words that almost every teenaged boy fears beyond fear.
“Harry, I’m late.”
Although no genius, Harry understood what she was saying. Deliberately choosing to misinterpret her words, he replied: “No you’re not. Training doesn’t start for another ten minutes.”
“No, Harry.” She scolded. “I’m late! I missed my period.” There! It was out. No misinterpretation was possible.
Immediately a huge grin erupted on his face, as he pictured Hermione and himself holding a baby. A baby with his eyes and Hermione’s hair. “So that’s what’s got you so upset. And all this time, I thought it was the honey.”
Unfortunately, Hermione saw the grin and took his joke the wrong way.
“This is no laughing matter, Harry!” She exclaimed angrily. “ I could be pregnant!”
“I’m not laughing, sweetheart.” He assured her. “I'm smiling like a bloody loon because I couldn’t be happier!” The grin on Harry’s face would not go away. A father! He was going to be a father!
“Really?” She asked, as if expecting him to reject her. Even after as long as they’d known each other, even after all the love…and lust they’d shown each other, and even after his rather balled up proposal, Hermione still harbored some insecurities.
“Really, really.” He assured her, projecting all the sincerity he had. Suddenly he was wrapped in extremely passionate witch, who covered his face with kisses. He returned kiss for kiss and soon clothing began to fall, and less than fifteen minutes later, when Dobby popped in to see what was taking them so long, he got a quick and dirty education on human sexuality. Blushing darkly, he popped away again, and told Mackenzie to begin the instruction without them.
In Little Hangleton, Voldemort grasped his pounding head crying out in torment as unbidden images and feelings positively flooded into his brain. He lashed out in fury, and killed the next person he saw…the Death Eater who brought him his breakfast. The silver tray laden with antique china dishes fell to the floor with a loud, ringing clatter, making his headache even worse. Howling in rage, he tortured all those who’d seen his loss of control. After all, it wouldn’t do for his minions to gossip about any lack of perfection. It might give them…ideas.
Unfortunately, Lord Voldemort’s problems were not over. Now, not only did he have that infernal headache, but his breakfast was lying on the floor! Kicking the dead minion’s body aside, he stumbled to his ornate throne, wincing miserably as he fumbled the cap off the bottle of pain controlling elixir. It was fortunate for Severus’ continued existence, that the time limit he’d imposed had just barely passed, and the bottle allowed another dose. As it was, some of the precious analgesic spilled onto trembling hands, but he managed to get most of it into his mouth.
Barely seen, a house elf delivered another tray. In the shadow of the dark lord’s temper, nobody noticed the elf was wearing a tan tunic and trews over brown boots.
Relief followed quickly, and Voldemort left his throne, sat at the table, and began to eat his long overdue meal.
Several Death Eaters were appalled to see their master covertly licking the traces of spilt potion from his hands. Having been subject to his tempers in the past, they were all smart enough to avoid mentioning it.
They knew the dark lord was not a forgiving man.
Dobby snickered nastily, as he departed. The carefully transfigured habañero peppers would revert to their original and thoroughly masticated forms in about an hour.
Panting from the exertion, Hermione lifted her sweaty head to catch Harry’s eyes.
“So what do we do?” she asked.
“Well, first, let’s go to the infirmary and verify it. I have to tell you this, though, if you are pregnant, you won’t be going on this mission.” Before Hermione could object, he held up his hand and added: “It’s not my being overprotective or chauvinistic, it’s simply that you’ll be in your fourth month, and while you’ll still be in top physical condition, your reactions may be off due to your instinctive need to protect the baby. You’re one of my best students, but in combat, that potential lapse in reaction time, could be just enough to kill you.”
“Yes, you are both overprotective and a chauvinist…She smiled sweetly, then added: “…but I love you all the same, and as for not going on the mission, pregnant or not, you have another think coming, Mister Potter!” The last few words came out as a growl.
Rather than continue what he knew would be a losing argument, Harry simply escorted his heart-mate to the infirmary, where Healer Merrifield was waiting. Unfortunately, behind the privacy screens, Judith Granger was being treated for a strained shoulder.
A quick examination and Merrifield, said: “Well, despite all the effort you two have put forth to get you that way, you’re not pregnant.”
~Pregnant!?!~ While Judith had been expecting something like this for some time, she was still surprised.
“Then why am I late? I’m never late! I’ve been regular since I was twelve!” Hermione wailed.
“I agree.” Harry snarked. “Hermione would never tolerate having an irregular period. She’s much too organized for that.”
He paled as Hermione brought her heaviest ‘Glare of Imminent Death’ to bear, and snarled: “I know where you sleep, Potter!”
‘Actually that’s rather easy to explain. You see, when large numbers of women are together for extended periods of time, their moon cycles tend to ‘realign’ themselves to one general time. You lot, have been together for almost six months. If you separate for any appreciable length of time, the cycles will return to their original patterns.”
“He’s right, sweetheart.” Judith chose that point to make her appearance. Hermione flushed crimson and turned to hide her face in Harry’s tunic.
“Hey, now! None of that!” Judith ordered. “We’re all family.”
Merrifield smirked. “You’ll take them in hand?”
Merrifield added: “Still, don’t forget your next prophylaxis. I believe you’re both due on the twenty fourth.”
Harry and Hermione both promised to remember, and followed Judith from the room.
Judith led the way to Harry’s office where Winky provided tea and biscuits.
“Well.” Judith snarked. “It looks like we have something to discuss.”
“I’m sorry you overheard that, mum. I knew it could happen like that, and we’ve been ever so careful, but it’s just when I was late…I…I guess I just panicked.”
“Understandable, really. You’re still young. Let’s not tell your father about this just yet, though. He wants a ring on your finger before you start having sex.”
“Mum!” Hermione objected. “I have a ring and we’ve been shagging our brains out for the past seven months.”
“Hermione! Language! I meant a wedding ring and your father is rafting on a river in Egypt. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he’s decided to imagine you’re a virgin until the birth of your third child. If he verified you two were playing bunnies, he might do something stupid and I’m worried that Harry would send him to the moon. I’m getting too old to train up another husband, you know.”
“Naah, Harry adores him. Daddy could beat him black and blue and he’d still adore him.”
Trying to deflect any thoughts of ‘Harry beating’. Harry interrupted, “What about Arabella? How’s she doing?”
“She’s doing fine. I’ve gotten her started in Tai Chi, yoga & swimming. But you two will have to demonstrate some basic force exercises for her.”
“We’ll do that as soon as we can. In the meanwhile, please introduce her to the mothers, especially of the younger children. Since Dumbledore’s no longer holding her lead, I’d suspect she’s a wonderful minder. Even if I didn’t enjoy my time with her, it could have been a lot worse. She explained that she tried to make it as pleasant as possible without either Twinkles or the Dursleys finding out, but there was only so much she could do. She really loves children, I do know that.”
“She does, and I know she’ll be glad you understand. The next time I see her, I’ll ask her about minding the younger children.”
Voldemort groaned as he bent over in horrible cramps. Poison! Somehow, he had been poisoned! Calling one of his Death Eaters, he touched his mark and focused on Snape.
In his office, hidden in the unused part of Hogwarts Castle, Severus gasped in sudden pain, as his forearm began to burn. He swiftly made his way out f the school, stopping only long enough to speak to Draco, who was just leaving the Great Hall.
“Arrange a diversion for Belby and find a reason to take some points from Gryffindor.”
With that, he swept out of the castle and down the path to the gates.
Draco grinned nastily as he headed toward the dungeon office of Professor Belby.
Draco Malfoy’s eyes glistened with sadistic glee a he sauntered into the teacherless potions classroom. The distraction he’d arranged for Professor Belby was a slimy mess in the corridor outside the head of house’s office.
Every Gryffindor there, knew that smile could only bode ill for them. As soon as his back was turned, three of them aimed their wands out the door and sent message darts to Minerva McGonagall calling her to come quickly.
She arrived just as Draco was saying: “Well, seeing as I’m a prefect and none of you blood traitors are, I suppose I should just start taking points from you lot. Um…thirty points for being a half-blood, and fifty for wearing that disgusting house crest.”
“That would be my house crest, Mister Malfoy.” Minerva’s comment was quiet, but as she’d proved so long before, she had a talent for commanding the attention of everybody in the room. Malfoy’s neck almost broke, given how fast it snapped around. Several people there winced in sympathy as they heard the crackle.
To the students, she added: “Professor Belby is occupied, just now, cleaning up a horrible mess outside the Slytherin common room. I do hope none of you had anything to do with that mess. For now, however, class is dismissed!”
Before he could sneak off, she grabbed his collar and growled: “You will stay! I wonder, Mister Malfoy, why you are taking points from my house especially for such outrageous reasons. ”
“Professor Snape gave me permission to take points from any of the Gryffindors I pleased!” Draco sneered with the assurance of regulatory protection.
McGonagall’s next words took both that protection, and his sneer, away.
“Severus is no longer a professor here and hasn’t been in quite some time! However, just to make it official, I, as Deputy Headmistress, am rescinding that permission, restoring the points you took, deducting fifty points for your clear abuse of a position of authority that was not yours in the first place, and issuing two weeks detention with Mister Filch in hopes you will learn to curb that tongue of yours!”
Draco paled. The way things were going; he’d be in detention until the end of the year! He hated scrubbing toilets! He almost missed what Minerva said next.
“Unfortunately, I cannot remove your prefectship, as that was assigned by your previous head of house and vetted by Dumbledore, however, I am limiting your authority to deduct points, to ten points per week unless it is verified by a head of house. Not even Albus can object to that.”
In the great hall, the Gryffindors cheered as their points were restored, and Slytherin lost fifty. The Slytherins were not nearly as pleased, and Argus Filch could be heard to mutter: “That’s all I bloody need! Mos’ like I’ll have t’ deal with that stupid little ponce again!”
Severus arrived at the manor within minutes. He entered the throne room and sank to his knees. “You summoned me, master?”
Voldemort snarled: “Crucio!” but had to stop as another wave of agony seared through him.
“What took you so long, Severus?” He gasped in agony. “I called you nearly ten minutes ago!”
“Master, I had to escape the castle…” Severus panted against the lingering pain.
“I DON’T WANT EXCUSES!” Voldemort roared. Spent, he sank to his throne.
“I’ve been poisoned, Severus. Not even a bezoar has stopped this.”
Severus immediately stepped up to his master and wafted his wand over the reptilian despot. Only his long years of practice kept him from laughing, and even then, it was a very near thing.
He fished in his belt for a phial.
“Master. Drink this. It will help.”
Voldemort drank down the viscous, chalky fluid. Almost instantly, he could feel the burn in his stomach ease.
“What was that?”
“It is an antacid. My scan indicates your stomach contains an extremely high concentration of capsicum.”
“What is this ‘capsicum’?”
“It is the active ingredient in many hot chilli peppers. “At the concentration I detected, you would have had to consume some ten pounds or more of red peppers or a lesser quantity of more powerful chillis.”
“I must caution you, you are running out of time. The easement will not last. It is only to reduce the burn whilst you purge yourself. I expect the antacid will have been neutralized within a minute or so.”
“You must expel the material in your stomach. You must force yourself to vomit. I have potions that will reduce the effects afterward, but it will be painful.”
“Bah!” Voldemort sneered. “I am no stranger to pain!”
“You had better hurry.”
“Voldemort, leader of the pureblood cause, dashed as quickly as any muggle to the loo, where the unmistakable sounds of retching could be heard. Neither of them remembered that Snape could have just vanished the contents of Voldemort’s stomach.
After a time, a shaky and sweating Voldemort returned to his throne room.
In a voice raw and torn from the acid he’d just spewed, he growled: “How could this have happened?” He grabbed the potion bottle Snape held out, and quaffed the whole thing.
“I would have to say you ate something extremely spicy, but knowing your aversion to such foods, I’d suspect, you ate it without knowing you did.
“I have eaten nothing since breakfast and before that, nothing after dinner last night.”
“Did you finish your breakfast?”
“No, I set the remains aside.”
“Where is it now?”
“I suppose the house-elf who brought it, removed it.”
“My lord, you don’t have any house elves here. You specifically forbad them.”
Late that afternoon, Harry grinned broadly as he entered his office. On the desk were thirty-six silvery orbs with small depressed concentric circles and circles and slightly protruding black squares. “Stokes!” He called.
Immediately the little mechanic appeared.
“Lord Potter has called for Stokes?”
“Yes. I wanted to thank you for making these ready in time. And please, call me Harry. Everyone else does.”
“Stokes is being muchly honored, Lord Potter, but Winky would have Stokes’ ears on her wall.”
“Then call me Harry Potter. Dobby does, and Winky doesn’t seem to have a problem with that.”
“Winky does, but as Harry Potter has ordered Dobby to address him as such, Dobby must.”
“You mean if I ordered you lot to call me a crazy, stupid bastard, you’d have to do that?”
“Yes, but we is wouldn’t like to be doing so. It is being disrespectful both to you and to us.”
“OK, I can see that. And I really don’t like being called a crazy bastard anyway. I had enough of that last year. Will you please call me Harry, then? Or Harry Potter if you must. I really despise the term ‘Master’. It brings up far too many bad memories.”
“Stokes can be doing that, Harry Potter.”
“Thank you, Stokes.” Harry grinned as he picked up one of the surprisingly heavy little spheres.
He flicked a switch, but nothing happened. Raising an eyebrow, to the elf, he waited for an explanation.
“These is the magic-based units. They is looking exactly as you has ordered, but is using magic to work.
“Aah. OK, what do I need to do?”
“You touch your wand or finger to the shell and cast magick into the remote. When you is done using it for a time, it will go dormant on its ownself, or you can cast the finishing spell. To reactivate it, all you has to do is touch it with your magick and it will start up again.”
Harry did as the elf bade him and the remote hummed to life, floating in the air before him.
Grinning like a fool, he thanked Stokes, deactivated the remote and took it and three others to the small training room off the Great Hall. There, he activated them all and lifted his blade.
Instantly they began to orbit him in unpredictable patterns and sent dozens of stingers at him. His blade flashed and flashed again, deflecting each and every one of the little pulses of energy.
Satisfied, he lowered his lightsaber and the remotes returned to their loiter mode. He deactivated them once more and returned to his office, where he placed the remotes with their fellows.
Closing the door behind himself, he adjourned to his quarters to clean up for supper.
Fortunately, Hermione wasn’t irritated at him anymore.
The next morning, just after breakfast, Harry stood on the stage, releasing the silvery spheroids into the air, as the students assembled, standing at a relaxed attention.
As the last of the objects took flight, he spoke up.
“These are remotes. They are designed to fly in random patterns and fire stingers at anyone who has his lightsaber lit.”
“Why?” Goldstein asked.
“I have two reasons, but both are interrelated. First; while each of you has demonstrated your ability to call upon the force when you concentrate on it, you’re going to have to learn to use it all the time…especially when you’re in combat. Second; it’s to get you used to the random spell-fire when we go into battle. Not everyone is going to be fighting face to face, you know.
These remotes will act very much like the Deez as they fire. They’ll hit you from behind, from above and from the sides. Most importantly, they’ll test your force connection thoroughly, by firing at you while you’re in combat.”
“Don’t the Death Eaters just use the unforgivables? Justin asked.
“No. They prefer the unforgivables…but as Hermione, Ron, Neville, Luna and Ginny can tell you, they have plenty of other nasty curses at their disposal. Even light side spells can be turned to deadly effect. It’s how you use a spell that makes it light or dark. For instance, a bright enough Lumos spell can blind you, while an overpowered banishing spell can send you through a wall, and you can use a levitation spell to drop someone off a cliff. In any case, your lightsabers will deflect all of them, including the unforgivables, but you have to get used to allowing the force, to alert you to a threat you don’t see, and guide your blade. This is likely going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. You’re gonna have to surrender your conscious ego, and learn to trust the force to protect you, even when you aren’t specifically aware of the danger.
Now, the remotes will only fire during dueling practice and then, only while you have your lightsabers up. That is a safety factor the Deez will not give you. Remember that. As we get closer to June, I’m going to disable that safety and have them shooting at you at any time you’re in here.”
At his students’ groans of dismay, Harry chuckled and added: “Don’t worry. They’ll be shooting at me too!”
Given the disparity in their training, none of the Jedi Apprentices looked much comforted by that.
“Now, Remus and I are going to have a duel, using Shii-Cho, Makashi, Soresu and/or Ataru, while one or more of these fires off random stingers. I want you to see what’s it’s like.”
Remus ascended the stage and unbelted his lightsaber. He handed it to Harry and received one in return. Both checked the beam was set for sparring, ran the obligatory slip of parchment over the blade and handed them back. The second check followed and then, they began. Harry instantly fell into the force, as Remus attacked. The first strike was seventy second Shii-Cho, followed by twenty third Soresu and Ataru number four. Harry deflected the blade, turned the second strike into a glissade and simply slipped under the third, attacking with a Makashi thrust to Remus’ heart, which he werewolf easily brushed off.
To the students, it was a whirl of flashing blades and some impressive acrobatics.
Justin wasn’t paying attention, instead, he was trying to chat up Sally-Ann, who seemed less than interested. Harry noticed. A remote was floating overhead. Harry ‘felt’ it. Justin also saw it, but failed to recognize the danger he was in.
As the remote fired, Harry swung and deflected the blast…right into Justin. He immediately returned to deal with Remus’ next strike.
“Yeeooww!” He screeched as the stinger hit him in the chest. The students around him who had been paying attention, laughed.
That split second of inattention cost Remus the match, and had the lightsabers been set to full power, it would have cost him his life. As it was, ‘Nymmy’ would have to treat a nasty burn across his chest later that day.
Harry called the weapon to him, and handed it to the wincing Remus with a bow.
Turning to the students, he asked: “Can anyone tell me what happened?” Hands went up.
“Ummm, Justin wasn’t paying attention and he got hit with a stinger.”
“Partly. What else? Hermione put your hand down.”
Hermione scowled, but complied.
Orla raised her hand. Harry nodded at her.
“Justin was paying more attention to…something else, and when you reflected the stinger, he got hit. That’s the only way he could have been hit. It looked like you aimed it. Remus was distracted by Justin’s scream and you got him.”
“Very good Orla, and yes, I did aim the bolt. Before you object, Justin, you were paying more attention to chatting up Sally-Ann, than in what I was doing. I felt that through the force, and even saw it. I also felt the remote over your head was about to fire so I made sure I would deflect the bolt in your direction. I trust I won’t have to repeat that lesson?”
Justin shook his head rapidly. The other students also shook their heads.
“Now, Orla was right about Remus, as well. When Justin screamed, he was startled. I was expecting it; he was not. He was not, because he was not using the force like he should. He was using it only in the broadest of terms…to fight, but the force is for both knowledge and defense. When you fully open yourself to the force, you can accomplish miracles. That’s why the remotes are there. They will remind you to keep yourselves open to the force.”
That afternoon, Harry called Hermione up on the stage. Automatically exchanging their lightsabers for the safety checks, he kept his peace. They traded back and rechecked, and when they were done, belted their weapons. Now, he turned to his beloved and in a voice loud enough to be heard across the room, said: “Hermione, You’ve been skating long enough. It’s time to test out of Soresu.”
“Skating?” Hermione was outraged. “I’ll give you skating!”
“Bring it on!”
Lightsabers flew into hands and the battle was joined. Thrust met block, stroke was deflected, parré became glissade, until both were fully warmed up. Then it got faster.
Hermione was having the time of her life. While the exercises were difficult and complex, she had become as physically fit as it was possible for a human being to be, more, she was a master of her own mind. Images came to mind effortlessly. Positions, stances, thrusts and strikes. Sinking into the force, allowed her to ‘see’ where his blade would be and have hers there to counter it.
The students were thrilled to see the ‘golden couple’ so engaged. The battle was lightning fast, brutal and utterly beautiful in its deadly dance. Never again, not even in their darkest thoughts, would any of them believe Harry gave Hermione a break because she was sleeping with him. They saw, and understood that she nearly as fully capable at the blade as he was, and far more than they.
Due to his greater familiarity with lightsaber combat, and his deeper connection with the force, Harry could have disarmed her, but neither wanted the battle to end. Quite frankly, they were having too much fun. In fact, almost an hour had passed before Mackenzie blew a whistle to get them to stop. Both were covered in sweat, and neither could be happier.
Harry faced her on the stage, and intoned the now, familiar words. “Hermione, you have demonstrated the necessary proficiency in Soresu. You are now advanced to Ataru.” He touched the tabs on Hermione’s shoulders with his wand, and they turned from emerald green to sapphire blue.
Neville stage whispered: “I hope he doesn’t expect to test me like that!”
Harry smirked evilly. “Your test is next, Neville.”
Neville paled. Those around him chuckled.
Supper was a lively time with many recountings of the lightsaber duel between Harry and Hermione. Strangely enough, it seemed more and more heroic with each retelling.
When they finally retired to their quarters that evening, Harry discovered that Hermione was in a frisky mood. That she was not pregnant, combined with the exhilaration of the battle they’d fought, had stirred her juices, and she intended to explore the limits of their bodies that night.
Late that night, Voldemort finally lost his patience. Snape was in Hogwarts castle, and could not attend him. With a pinpoint reductor, Voldemort blasted the top off his bottle of elixir and drank nearly five times the dosage Snape has prescribed.
He slept well for the next day…and the three following.
During the morning’s run on the seventeenth, Harry developed his idea for dealing with Trelawney. Now, in his office her threw some floo powder into the fire and called out: “Carolyn Chapman!” When Carolyn greeted him with a smile, he asked: “Is it safe to come through?”
“Sure Harry!” She chirped. “Come on over!”
Instantly, Harry was on guard. That wasn’t the agreed upon password!
“OK.” He agreed. “Gimmee two minutes to tie up some things here and I’ll be right over.” He closed the connection and cast a privacy shield around it.
“Dobby!” Instantly Dobby was there, but before he could ask how he could serve, Harry interrupted. “Dobby, Carolyn is in trouble. I want you to take me, and let’s see…Mack, Remus, Hermione and Neville to her place. Tell them to be ready for combat.”
“Dobby will get them!” and the elf vanished. Seconds later, he returned, with Remus and Mack. Neville and Hermione stepped through the door on her own steam.
“Hey Harry! What’s going on?”
“Carolyn is in trouble. I want Dobby to pop us to her house, on the opposite side of the room from the fireplace. We have about one minute thirty left.”
Everybody drew their lightsabers, except Dobby who would need both hands. Harry tossed a pinch of floo powder into the flames and called out: “Carolyn Chapman!” once more. As the fire turned green, they all vanished.
On the other side, they reappeared soundlessly to find nine black robed terrorists facing the fire. One more was casting the Cruciatus on Carolyn, who was shrieking in agony. He’d be Harry’s first target.
As one, the others yelled: “Avada Kedavra!” and the fireplace exploded. The snap hiss of six lightsabers, behind them shocked them stupid. By though time they recovered, they were literally disarmed….or at least unhanded. The one who’d cursed Carolyn was lying on the ground gasping in agony, understandable really, considering there was a burn hole through his chest. Harry had deliberately missed his heart, but he’d have breathing difficulties for the rest of his life.
Harry had his crew stun them all, then knelt beside the one he’d stabbed. Using the force, he pulled the mask away. The man was an adult, but not one he recognized. As Hermione reached out, he snapped: “Stop! Don’t touch anything! They may have portkeys on them!” Unfortunately, this brought to mind the murder of Cedric Diggory. Harry knew he had to be able to function, so he clamped down on his pain as hard as he could, and removed the mask from another fallen Death Eater.
Hermione looked sheepish, then backed away. Like he had, she used the force to remove the mask to reveal another man with the effeminate look of the pureblood aristocrat. Again, it was nobody they knew.
Remus struck gold. He was treating Carolyn when she woke and flailed. Her hand crashed down on the Death Eater next to he, smashing his mask and his nose underneath. Seeing she didn’t vanish in a swirl of light, Remus tore away the remains of the bone white mask.
He swore as he recognized the scarred face beneath.
“Darius Malachom!” He snarled. “He’s a ‘were’. One of Greyback’s pack. He’s just like Fenrir. He loves to kill. Worse, he loves to turn new ‘weres’. I’d wager he’s responsible for almost as many turnings as Greyback himself.”
“We’ll make a note of that when Amelia gets here.” Harry growled. Like Remus, he despised Greyback. He’d seen Remus suffer over so many full moons, that he hated the sadistic bastard who turned him, with a fiery passion.
Hermione had already asked Dobby to contact Amelia Bones, since the floo was destroyed.
“Any idea who these others are?”
“That one is Ambrose Bierce the third.” Carolyn gasped out, showing that she’d regained consciousness. Harry leaned into the force to determine the extent of her injuries. The aftereffects of the Cruciatus were still coursing through her nerves, so he touched a spot on the side of her head and pushed some healing energy into her. It wasn’t nearly enough, but it would hold back the pain until she could get some of Merrifield’s disgusting potions into her. She relaxed a bit and shot him a look of gratitude.
“This one…” Remus kicked an extremely large and fortunately unconscious blond, now lacking his right hand. “…is Torvald Rowle, Thorfin’s twin. Since he didn’t carry a mark back when, Dumbledore vouched for him as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he was exiled from Britain immediately afterwards by the Ministry, for crimes too disgusting to mention. I guess Voldemort called him back to ‘active service’…or Dumbledore did. He’s as psychotic as Greyback. Perfect, for leading a terrorist attack.
“Well, he’s marked now, so he doesn’t have that alibi anymore.”
Without a sound, Amelia, Constance, Cornfoot, and Shacklebolt arrived, courtesy of 'the Dobby Express'.
Taking the situation in one glanced, Amelia asked: “How did they get in?” She absently flicked her wand and the fireplace rebuilt itself. Throwing a pinch of floo powder in, she called: “Ministry of Magic, minister’s secretary!”
Auror Thompson immediately responded and demonstrated the connection was sound, by handing her a piece of parchment. She handed it back and thanked him, before standing and closing the floo.
“The simplest method I can imagine.” Carolyn replied. “They had a post owl drop a portkey target onto my table, and popped right through the wards.”
This was a twist none of them had expected, as for the most, part, Death Eaters were not chosen for their intelligence. Since the portkeys were attuned to the target and the target had been allowed through the wards, the portkeys could reach it without interference.
“You’re going to have to set up a diversion ward.”
“Don’t worry…” Carolyn growled. “I intend to!”
“Just remember to leave at least one alive is all I ask.” Constance snickered.
“No problem.” Carolyn replied with a nasty grin. “But you’d be amazed at what someone can survive!”
Laughter followed as the ministry crew bound their prisoners, portkeyed them away and cleaned up the mess.
“Amelia!” Harry called before they left. “That portkey target is a new idea. It’s easy to get around, but it does show the Death Eaters are both able to think, and are willing to think outside the box.”
“Well we can only hope it’s a one-time thing.”
“That’s not reassuring.”
“It’s not meant to be.” With that, Amelia activated her portkey and departed in a swirl of lights.
Dobby brought Merrifield to tend to Carolyn’s Cruciatus experience. Unfortunately all he could do was give her a bottle of the potion and instructions to take it easy. Shaking his head, he asked Dobby to return him to the castle. Sassy, one of the kitchen staff, volunteered to come and assist Carolyn for as long as she needed. Harry thanked her and she immediately made herself busy, bustling around the office.
With a snap of her fingers, Carolyn was seated behind her desk with a pot of tea and blankets wrapped snugly around her
From her desk, Carolyn snarked: “I could get used to this!” Sassy blushed.
“Well, now that you’ve made my life interesting, what can I do for you, Harry?”
“Erm…Carolyn, I’m sure it can wait until you’ve recovered!” Hermione echoed his thoughts, and both Mackenzie and Remus nodded.
“Nonsense! You’re here, I’m here, and you need something. So what is it?”
Harry really didn’t want to make her work after her ordeal, but Carolyn was as stubborn as he was, and a good deal more experienced.
“Well, shit!” He cursed sotto voce, then added in a louder tone: “OK, I need to rent a house in southern Tunisia for about a month, or maybe build one…and I want it under Fidelus.”
“Mmmhmm.” He replied. “I want a detailed copy of the Lars homestead on Tatooine…cooker, ‘fresher, sliding doors, everything…and magical windows programmed to see the Tatooine sky, day and night. I’m planning to wake Sybil Trelawney and I want her to believe she’s no longer on Earth. That way I can see how far Dumbledore’s compulsions go.”
Carolyn chuckled. “So you want her to think she’s on Tatooine instead, huh?”
“Basically, yes. If she thinks she’s on another planet, she’ll stay put. If not, we’ll go find her and chuck her into a stasis tank.”
“Rather cold of you, don’t you think?”
“We’re preparing for war, Carolyn, war against two implacable enemies, and that means making hard choices. If she’s OK, we’ll bring her here and try to integrate her with the rest of us. If not, I can’t afford the security risk. It sucks, but there it is. This is too important to take chances.” Behind him, Hermione was frowning at his methods, but Mackenzie, Remus and Neville were in complete agreement.
“All right. You go on back to the castle. I’ll arrange it and let you know when it’s all set.”
“Don’t thank me yet. You still haven’t gotten my bill.”
Harry barked out a laugh and they flooed back to the castle.
Carolyn made a note to reinforce her wards against unauthorized portkeys and add an owl diversion ward to her private box. It was an additional step between her and her clients, but given what had just happened, that extra bit of security was well worth the time and effort.
Done that, she started making floo calls.
On the twenty-first, when they’d returned from their morning’s exercises and shower, Dobby alerted Harry to the presence of a new visitor. Master Mindhealer, Lorelei Mentasus. Harry asked Hermione to go get her mother and join them at Arabella’s flat, then entered the lounge to find Carolyn and Augusta there, with a women he didn’t know.
“Masterhealer Mentasus, I presume?”
“Indeed, Lord Gryffindor.” Mentasus, lifted her hand, palm out and fingers up. Harry touched his fingertips to hers for just a second, in the accustomed greeting for a telepath. Still, her eyes widened, as she felt the ‘unique’ character Harry held.
“Welcome to Potter Castle.”
“I thank you for your welcome, Lord Gryffindor. I am given to know that you have someone here in need of my particular talents.”
“Please, it’s just Harry…and yes, I do. Mrs. Arabella Figg, has been in thrall to Albus Dumbledore for sixteen years at the very least. In that time, I suspect he’s obliviated her at least a hundred times, if not more. She has been made to forget her own family in Dumbledore’s quest to keep control over me. I’m hoping you can help her to recover some of the memories he’s stolen from her.”
“And where is Mrs. Figg?”
“In the visitor’s wing. She should be awake now. I’ll show you there, if you’d like.”
Harry guided the small group to Mrs. Figg’s flat, giving her a brief description of his intentions, and the students’ accomplishments along the way.
Reaching Arabella’s door, he knocked sharply. Inside he could hear the WWN over the wireless. Soon enough, shuffling slippers told him she would open the door. He backed up a step, as the portal swung inward.
“Oh, hello, Harry! Hello Carolyn.” Then she gaped at the sight of an old friend she’d forgotten. “Augusta! How are you!?”
“Better, now that you’re safe, Ara.” Augusta, leaned forward in an unusual show of emotion and pulled her friend into a hug.
When they’d broken, Arabella said: “Oh! Where are my manners? Please, come in. Come in!”
Arabella busied herself preparing tea, while she nattered on about the children she’d begun to watch over, her yoga studies with Judith Granger and all the amazing things she’d seen and done.
Harry smiled to himself, happy that she was settling in so well. Introductions were being made as Hermione arrived, and with her, an anxious Judith. A new round of introductions followed, with Lorelei asking Arabella if she minded having so many people around during the mental examination.
Showing courage worthy of a Gryffindor, Arabella replied, “Lord Potter and his betrothed, saved my life. I’ll have no secrets from them.”
“As you wish. Let us have a seat. It is easier to determine the damage if you are calm and comfortable.”
They sat in chairs facing each other. Hands rested on the wood, with only the fingers touching. “Relax. Close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Easy now…slowly…in…out…in…out…” Both women closed their eyes and began to breathe softly.
Harry watched closely, as the mind healer gently probed Arabella’s thoughts. He could detect surface thoughts, but did not interfere.
For nearly an hour, they sat there, unmoving, until: “Merlin, Morgana and Maeve!”
Both women opened their eyes at the same time, and Masterhealer Mentasus began to speak.
“Mrs. Figg, by my count, and I hardly think that count is complete, there have been one hundred eighty or more obliviations by an amateur. A skilled amateur yes, but an amateur regardless.”
“Can you help her?” Harry asked. Hermione and Judith were watching closely.
“I can help her recover her memories, yes, but it’s going to take time…perhaps years.”
“Years?” Arabella gasped in shock.
“Such restoral cannot be done in days. To try would cause more harm than good. I’d suggest we start at the latest memory blocks and remove them, heal the damage around them, and then go further back.”
‘Please, can you find the memories of my children first? If only a few?”
“It’ll be more hazardous, but if I take one memory at a time, I should be able to.”
“Please. Do that. I have children and grandchildren I don’t know. Please help me find them.” Arabella was weeping, and the others in the room weren’t far behind.
“Very well. We shall begin tomorrow.”
Harry arranged for a flat for the mindhealer, near enough for her convenience, yet far enough away from the busy sector of the castle, that the random thoughts of more than a hundred people and nearly as many elves would not interfere with her mental calm.
At four that afternoon, Neville stood on the stage with Harry, exchanging lightsabers. While nervous, Neville knew he was ready to test out of Soresu.
Once the proper safety checks were done, they threw themselves into combat.
Their combat lasted almost fourty minutes, as Harry retested Neville’s skills in Soresu. While not really as elegant as Hermione or Luna, whom Dobby had tested that very morning, Neville was no slouch either. His prior training with the blade stood him in good stead.
To Harry’s amusement, Luna had found a new fascination in the Ataru form, seeing it more as an aerial ballet, than a form of combat. Dobby shook his head at her fancy but pronounced her more-than-qualified to advance into the form.
At the end, Harry touched Neville’s tabs and turned them from green to blue. The audience cheered not only for the undersung Gryffindor, but because he showed them what they could also attain if they pushed themselves as hard as he did.
Harry watched them with a grim smile on his face. Luna had reported that Ron was nearly up to date and would be advancing to Makashi when the rest of the class moved to Soresu.
That evening, Harry had a chat with Lavender.
“How’s it been going?”
“Tell you the truth, I think I’d prefer the Jedi training!” She groused.
“You are still keeping up, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I’m not pushing as hard as you lot do, but I run the nature trail every morning, the Grinder twice a week and hand-to-hand with the rest of you. I also meditate everyday on touching the force, do yoga and Tai chi, and practice with my lightsaber three hours every day, and swim three times a week.”
“That’s on top of the study regimen I have for her, Lord Potter.” Healer Jacoby interjected. “So far, she’s been a dream to teach. She’s bright, learns easily, rarely makes mistakes, and sometimes picks up on things I miss.”
“Good.” Harry smiled. “I’m glad you’re getting on so well. Just don’t forget to practice. As I said, you may never need it. But better to have it and not need it, eh?”
Draco knelt at the feet of his master, awaiting his assignment. He tried not to show impatience, but he was unused to playing the servant.
Voldemort smiled inwardly as he peered into Draco’s thoughts. The boy had no shields worth mentioning. Best to have someone teach him. Lucius had good shields, but he would show leniency. No. Snape. Severus was the best he knew at occlumency. Even better than that muggle loving old fool. Severus would…teach…Draco, using the same methods he’d used on Potter. Oh yes, Voldemort was well familiar with the methods Severus had used on Potter. The method had come from him, after all. It was the method he’d used to teach all his adepts. Brutal and painful, but eventually effective…assuming it didn’t burn out the subject’s mind first. That Dumbledore had instructed Snape to keep Potter’s mind-link as open as possible in the hopes of gaining intelligence, had only helped his spy to justify tearing down what little natural shielding the boy had.
Of course, since that night in the Ministry atrium, things had changed. The link was much weaker. It took a great deal more effort to push through ‘visions’, to the stupid boy.
Unfortunately the opposite did not seem to hold true. He, Lord Voldemort, was tormented nearly every night by the boy’s insatiable libido!
Returning his thoughts to the present, he spoke to his sycophant.
“Draco. I have an assignment for you!”
“I await your instruction, master!” Draco replied in the abjectly subservient manner he demanded of his minions. For Voldemort, this was another little jest. The purebloods had no idea they were genuflecting to someone they would have considered their social inferior, and doing so, willingly and with a whole heart. ~Stupid fools!~
“I want you to get the old man out of the school on the solstice. It needn’t be for long, a few hours will suffice, but I want him out, by the solstice. I have something planned for that day.”
“As you will, master.” Draco agreed immediately thinking: ~How am I to get Dumbledore to leave the castle? This is ridiculous. I should be killing mudbloods!~
“Draco, I know your thoughts. You have your orders…and as for being ridiculous…Crucio!”
Draco fell screaming to the parquet. He was long used to the curse, as his father and mother were both were both expert in its use, but the master was a prodigy!
Voldemort held the curse for just long enough to teach a lesson and yet, not do any significant harm.
“Teach this idiot to shield his thoughts, else next time I might be driven to do more damage!”
“As you will, master.”
“You may go. Take him with you!”
“I live to serve, my master.” Snape backed up the requisite five steps turned to his right and leaned down to grasp Draco’s robe. He departed, dragging his shuddering protégé behind him.
Narcissa watched the whole thing; her instinctive need to protect her son warring with her deeply held belief that the master was right in all things.
On the twenty-fourth, Harry addressed his troops.
“Congratulations, all of you. Each of you has shown yourself sufficiently skilled in Makashi, It’s time to test out!”
As before, he assigned the group numbers from one to six, and sent each subgroup to test with Hermione, Tonks, Mackenzie, Remus, Neville and himself.
By the end of the day, Harry was positively beaming. All the students had advanced to Soresu and even Ron had proven his knowledge of Shii-Cho. Harry had tested him personally and advanced his friend to Makashi. Harry knew Luna would have to continue to ride heard on him, but from the flush on her cheeks and the grin she showed when he’d told her that, he didn’t think she’d mind.
Before they adjourned for super, Harry asked several of the students to remain behind.
“Fred. George. I can’t pair you up any more. You are too well matched, to end in anything but a draw. Your style is unique, but you have to get used to different tactics, and by only sparring with each other, you’re restricting your chances. You’ve got to learn to fight people you aren’t as familiar with, so I’m going to match you with others.
Padma and Parvati had a similar problem. Each knew the other so well, it only made sense to train them together, but that also limited their options. That one was aggressive and the other methodical helped, but Harry really needed to pair them up with other people.
Anika and Anna also preferred Makashi, but like the ‘terrible twins’, the Montgomery’s were far too closely matched. Harry strongly suspected all three pairs had a telepathic bond.
While Fred and George were devastating at Shii-Cho and Soresu, Parvati and Padma were no slouches either, but since both preferred Makashi, the offset resulted in their winning their matches more often that not, and gave all four new insights as to close order combat. Between the Patils and the Montgomery’s it was a toss-up. Both pairs of girls were pretty evenly matched, but the Patils were older.
It was Susan, who came up with the bright idea of putting their names in a box with several other volunteers, and having them draw partners on a rotating basis, for a while. In the event any of them drew their twin, they would have to draw again.
They all got to be very good friends, and as time went on, they were joined by others. Angelina, Alicia, Katie, Oliver and Lee, joined them first, and later, Adrian, Terrence, Daphne, Neville, when he wasn’t busy instructing, Hannah, Susan and Terry also joined them. The resulting group could often be found in a huge melee.
28th Feb, 1:20 AM:
Harry stood, arched his back until it popped and let out with a great yawn.
“Yawns are contagious, you know…” Hermione snarked as she began to yawn in return.
“Well, I have an errand to run, before I can sleep. Dobby!”
Dobby appeared, in a rather disgruntled mood. He was wrapping his weapons belt around his waist, his tunic rumpled and not entirely in place.
“Dobby is thinking Harry Potter is better be dying!” He growled in his annoyingly pitched voice.
“Oh shit!” Harry flushed, realizing that Dobby and Winky had a date this evening. “I’m sorry, Dobby. I forgot you and Winky had plans.”
Dobby sighed, then said: “What is done is done. You have called for Dobby?”
Hermione glared at Harry and said: “I’m sure whatever Harry needs, can wait until tomorrow!”
“Actually, Hermione it can’t. If my program is to be effective, it needs to be started now. It should have been started about a week ago, but they weren’t ready yet.”
“Ooh!” Hermione’s eyes popped wide. “The nanites!”
“Mmmhmmm.” Harry turned to Dobby and said: “I’m going to need transport to and from Hogwarts. I have to lace Dumbledore’s lemon drops with this…” He held up a medium sized bottle of clear liquid.
“Harry Potter does not have to be going to Hoggywarts, to do that. Dobby can be doing it for him!” Dobby made to take the bottle, but Harry held it back and sighed.
“No, Dobby. This isn’t like a prank. This is going to change his life forever. If I’m going to condemn him to that life, then at least I should have the stones to do it myself.”
Hermione looked like she wanted to argue, but Dobby smiled, slightly.
“Dobby understands. Take hold of Dobby’s hand and Dobby will bring you to Hoggywarts.”
“Thank you, Dobby.”
Harry took the little elf’s hand and they vanished silently.
“Hermione had a sudden and terrifying thought. ~What if Dumbledore isn’t asleep?~
A calming presence filled her mind and she could ‘hear’ Harry’s voice. ~Don’t worry my love. He’s asleep. Poppy has been giving him some potions, and every other night, she includes a mild sleeping draught.~
Hermione positively melted in relief. She grinned and set to, on Harry’s ‘reward’.
28th Feb. 1:30 AM:
The two Jedi appeared in the headmaster’s office without a sound. Immediately, Harry climbed up the steps to Dumbledore’s chambers. He ‘felt’ for any wards and alerts guarding the old bastard’s sleep. Finding several dozen, he decided instead of trying to bypass them he’d ask Dobby to drop him in the bedchamber instead.
Dobby agreed and a quick pop left them with the snoring headmaster.
Harry leaned into the force and ‘assisted’ the potions the old man had taken. Albus would sleep well this night. For the time being, however, he and Dobby were as safe as possible. They began to cast about through the force, searching through Dumbledore’s apartment until he found what he was looking for. It was in the top draw of his bedside press. Feeling another security ward around the draw itself, he asked Dobby to pop the bag of lemondrops out. Seconds later, holding the sack, he asked Dobby to locate the rest of Dumbledore’s lemon drops.
Soon enough, they were back in the headmaster’s office with a huge pile of Lemon drops spread out on a large square of linen. Dobby snapped his fingers and a largish bowl appeared. Harry poured the bottle of liquid into the bowl, followed by two handfuls of the lemon drops…including the thirty-one from inside the headmaster’s pouch. Once in the bowl, he swirled them in the liquid until they were all coated. He and Dobby lifted them from the liquid. Dobby set them on a fine bamboo rack to dry, as they came out, and set them aside.
While they were drying, Harry turned Dumbledore’s ‘lucky’ lemondrop bag inside out. There at the lowest seam he carefully placed three drops of the old meddler’s blood and cast three strong compulsions. The first, to ignore any thought of compulsions. The second, to always have enough lemondrops in the bag, and the third, to relish the sharper flavour of the candies.
The blood quickly sank into the cloth of the bag. Harry cast a drying charm, and when it had done its job, he turned his attention to his accomplice. Dobby was ready with the first two handfuls of candy.
The first thirty-one, he returned to the headmaster’s pouch, in case the old buzzard was in the habit of counting them, and asked Dobby to return the bag to the draw he’d found it in.
Dobby returned from his errand to find Harry pouring more of the lemondrops into the nanite fluid. Swirling the candies, he ensured each lemondrop was coated, and lifted them out for Dobby to dry. As they worked, he gave a brief explanation to Fawkes and the sorting hat, so they wouldn’t be too concerned.
Less than a half hour later the deed was done. Harry re-bagged the lemondrops and had Dobby replace them wherever he’d found them. Once done, Dobby vanished the bowl and cloth he’d created, while Harry picked up the bottle they’d used and stuffed it into a pocket, before he asked Dobby to bring them home.
Dobby never bothered to mention that he’d superglued a large, glittery, pink plastic star onto the tip of Dumbledore’s wand. There was really no need for Harry to know about that, after all.
28th Feb. 2:00 AM:
Hermione once again reaffirmed her love and support for her lover that night, making Harry sleep peacefully afterwards, and sent Voldemort reaching for his little brown bottle. The pain relief potion Severus had provided, gave him no comfort at all, and like the last one, had been charmed to provide only one dose every five hours. He tried to blast the top off this one, only to find it had been inscribed with a rune-shield that drew power from whatever spell was sent its way.
The furious would be dictator intended to have some well-thought-out words with his duplicitous potions master….soon!
On the last day of February, Somewhere in the Tunisian Desert:
Sybill Trelawney woke in a place as strange as she’d ever imagined. The room she was in had rounded walls! Not rounded like a castle tower, but rounded like the inside of a dome! What was stranger was the view through the windows. It was an arid and desolate landscape with sand flying from time to time and strange creatures soaring through the air. Worse…in the sky were two suns! One was much like the warm orb that heated the Earth, but the other, was a larger reddish globe. She’d never seen such a sight before. Earth had only one sun; therefore this clearly could not be Earth. So where was she? How did she get here?
About a hundred meters distant, were some strange, slender, light colored towers that looked like oversized well pumps, with boxes and other doodads attached here and there.
A large…thing that looked like a fanciful flying machine, sat on five mechanical struts, near the towers.
On the horizon, a sandstorm was blowing. It was miles away but seemed to cover the whole edge of the earth…and it was headed in her direction!
From behind her, came a familiar voice. “Good morning, Professor.”
Sybill yelped with a jerk, dropping her teacup. To her shock, it didn’t shatter on the floor. Instead, the tea gathered itself into a ball, and the cup positioned itself under, to accept the steaming liquid. Then the cup returned itself to the table. She looked up to find two very familiar faces.
“Mister Potter! Miss Granger!” Instead of their school uniforms, the two students wore tan tunics and trews over brown boots.
“Hello, Professor.” Next to Harry a house elf wearing a smart tunic with three house crests waited. Harry introduced him.
“This is Bobbo. He works for me.”
“What’s going on?”
“Dumbledore was holding you prisoner.”
“Nonsense!” Sybill spat in disbelief. “Albus would never do that! He values my inner eye! My guidance! My counsel!”
“Apparently he doesn’t value you all that much. You’ve been in a coma, under the Draught of Living Death for almost four months. He wanted you out if the way, but unfortunately, when he put you into storage, Ol’ mister Twinkles ‘forgot’…” here Harry pantomimed quotation marks with his fingers. “…that you needed food in your system to survive…even under the Draught. He knew exactly where you were, and yet, he hasn’t had you fed in all that time. It was only when Dobby found you in your tower under the effects of that potion, that Dumbledore’s crime became apparent. I spoke to Flopsey, and she told me that the house-elves’ instructions were to clean you, and prevent bedsores. Nothing more. He made no provision for food or water.
You very nearly died. Worse, he would have let you die, and like as not, punished one of the house-elves for not feeding you. As soon as Dobby brought your condition to my attention, I had you brought to my training center and the healers spent the next several hours trying to keep you alive.
When they determined the number of compulsions he’d placed on you, I decided it was unsafe for you, and us, to keep you on Earth, and so, I brought you here. This way, even if you are programmed to escape, which I strongly suspect, there’s no way you can cross the seventy thousand light years to Earth without a hyper-drive equipped spaceship and you have no access to one.”
“Where are we?”
“We’re on the edge of the dune sea, on a planet called Tatooine. It’s a planet in the outer rim territories…in the Arkanis sector. Someone once said, if there was a bright center to the universe, this planet is farthest from it.”
“Why am I here?”
“For your safety and ours.”
“So I’m your prisoner?”
“I’d prefer it not be that way, but yes. Until the blood-based compulsions Dumbledore placed on you are gone, you are my prisoner. I can’t have you telling him what we’re up to here. He wouldn’t like it and if I’m to stop both him and the other dark lord, I can’t have him knowing. Not just yet.”
“There are people who’ll be looking for me.”
“No there aren’t. You’ve been hidden in the castle for sixteen years, without anyone searching for you.”
“Well, yes, but I…”
“Sybill, listen to me, then work it out for yourself. Seventeen years ago, Dumbledore knew he was losing the war against Voldemort.” He waited until the fearful shudder to pass before beginning again. “So when his divination professor retired, he knew he’d found his chance. He invented a prophecy with just enough real information to tempt Ol Voldyface, and Imperiused you into spouting it during your interview. Why else would he have held it in the Hogs-head Inn, instead of his well-warded office? He knew Voldemort…” Again, he waited through the shudder. “…believed in prophesy and he knew one of his spies, namely Severus Snape, was listening at the door, so, he allowed Ol’ Snivelly to overhear part of it, in order to set it into motion.
That decision resulted in my parents’ murder. What started as a false prophecy became not only true, but self-fulfilling.”
Sybill, was appalled that Dumbledore would defile the noble art of divination by creating a false prophesy. Harry saw it and threw a bit more fuel on the fire.
“People call me The-Boy-Who-Lived. Stupid name really. What they should call me is, The-Boy-Who-Lived-Because-His-Parents-Did-Something-Dumbledore-Didn’t-know-About-To-Protect Him. Lots more hyphens that way. Anyway, after Voldy turned himself into an ugly vapour, Dumbley decided he wasn’t quite as dead as he’d like, so he violated all sorts of laws, set my godfather up for murder and had him sent to Azkaban for life, and then arranged for my godmother to be tortured to insanity, all so he could ensure my imprisonment in the muggle world under the ‘tender care’ of abusive relatives. Relatives entirely under his control.” Harry’s words had become tight and things began to shake around the room. Sybill could see Harry was furious, but not at her…only when he mentioned Dumbledore.
The Granger girl turned to him and wrapped him in her arms for long moments. The shaking slowed, and Sybill felt a newfound respect for the brilliant muggleborne. Although she had no inner eye, she was nurturing and maybe even empathic. Eventually, with the help of his friend, he regained his control and began speaking again.
“Now, you were a loose end he couldn’t afford, so he gave you a job and convinced you that you’d only be safe from Death Eaters, by staying in the castle, where he could ‘protect’ you. However, I believe, that since you were the only one who could tell the truth, he laid some behavioral compulsions on you…over a hundred, according to my healers, including nearly two dozen which are anchored to your blood. Unfortunately, since I have no access to the blood he took, I cannot remove those compulsions…not just yet, at any rate. I suspect several of those compulsions, would prevent your revealing anything about that day. In any case, he isolated you. Not to protect you, but to protect his secret.”
“Albus wouldn’t…” She stammered.
“Oh yes he would, and he has…several times. I’ve had experts from the Department of Mysteries identify and remove compulsions from myself, Hermione, the entire Weasley family, several government officials, and Professor McGonagall, and I suspect he’s laid them on most of the merchants in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Dumbledore has no problem using Compulsions, obliviations, lies, half-truths and deceit to get what he wants.”
“Why should I believe you? You’ve kidnapped me! You’ve given me this ridiculous story, but no proof! So why should I believe you?”
“Believe or not, as you wish.” Harry replied without emotion.
Hermione elbowed him and hissed: “Harry! Behave!”
Sighing, he said: “Alright. Tell you what. I’ll give you the prophecy. You work it out for yourself.”
Harry handed her a written copy of the prophecy that had condemned him to more than a decade of slavery and abuse.
They both donned voluminous brown cloaks with hoods before turning to leave.
Before they left, he spoke one more time.
While you’re here, I’ve asked Bobbo to keep you supplied and to inform me of any difficulties you may have. He’s a lively and well informed conversationalist, and plays an excellent game of chess. Since he knows how to use the cooker and you don’t, I’d suggest you avoid hacking him off. Oh! There will be no ordering him to punish himself. If he reports that you’ve done so, I’ll just put you back to sleep and have done with you.”
Sybill had never seen anyone more serious that the young man standing before her just then.
“I’ll try to provide you with sufficient distractions, and the occasional visitor, but I’d advise you not to try to leave here. The jundland wastes are not to be traveled lightly. There are Sand-people, Jawas, the Hutt’s, who are dangerous gangsters, as well as banthas, womp rats, sarlac pits, and rancors; you really want to avoid those. All teeth and claws, and hide thick enough to stop a blaster bolt. Then there are the insect types that like to burrow under your skin and lay their eggs there, and other creatures that I’m not familiar with. In any case, it’s three days walk to Anchorhead, over hundred fifty degree sand, and more than a week to Mos Eisley…and you haven’t a wand.”
With that, the two teenagers walked out the door. Before the door slid shut, Sybill could hear the wind blowing loudly as the sandstorm grew in intensity. Through the window she could see the two fighting the storm to reach the machine she’d seen and ascend the ramp. Seconds later it lifted away from the earth and flew off!
Sybill was ashen. She was alone! Well, alone with the house elf. As the little elf puttered around the kitchen, she slowly sat at the table, staring at that damning sheet of parchment. She reached out with trembling hands to find her tea still hot. Sipping the fragrant liquid to calm herself, she tried to decide if what she’d been told was the truth. On the one side, Harry’s story was plausible…just barely, but plausible. Dumbledore was reputed to have been ruthless in battle, but on the other hand, she was indebted to Dumbledore. He gave her a job, a place to live…she knew she was looked upon with derision by nearly everybody in the castle, but she did what she could with the meager gift she had. She knew she was no match for her great-grandmother, but she did what she could. She was actually responsible for turning out three genuine seers in the past sixteen years, and there was a promising fourth in young Luna…but she didn’t think she’d ever see that come to pass now.
She didn’t know where to turn. If Harry was correct, she was stranded on a planet an unfathomable distance from home, with no way to return. From the blistering heat she’d seen through the windows, and from the whistling of the sandstorm that she could hear faintly through the thick walls of her lodging, the sandstorm that even now enshrouded her, blotting out the twin suns entirely. She knew she had no chance of escape.
Her captor was nothing like the lost and unsure teen she’d taught at Hogwarts. This Harry Potter was grim and determined, capable, and utterly ruthless.
Quite frankly, this Harry Potter frightened her.
28 Feb 7:00PM:
Albus Dumbledore popped another lemon drop into his mouth savoring its tart flavour. He’d been pacing for an hour already and still he had no idea how to return his weapon to his control. Harry’s weakness was the mudblood, but Granger was wherever Harry was, and that did him no good. His agents told him the mudblood’s parent’s had vanished. Their home and even their surgery had disappeared, and no amount of checking in the archives could bring that information to light. He’d used the Fidelus often enough to understand those places were now covered by the charm. If only Fawkes would come to his beckon, but no! Even that bloody bird refused to come when he called. Instead, he would receive some nonsensical nursery rhyme, or a reference to one of the outlandish creatures described in The Quibbler.
Giving it up for the night, he turned into his bed. He’d work it out tomorrow.
In the moments between lethargy and sleep, he had a thought. Harry was apparently lost to him. Perhaps he should focus his attentions on his back-up weapon.
His eyes snapped open and he bolted upright in his bed. He could perform a silly ritual and lightshow, and ‘remove’ the bindings on Neville’s core, convince him the blocks were the result of his being tortured as a babe, and train him just enough to send him into a battle he had no chance of winning. Surely Harry would never let his friend face Voldemort alone! But how to get Longbottom? From the notices of discontinuance, he was certain Neville was with Harry, and he didn’t know where Harry was!
Augusta would prove to be no help at all, as she was currently sitting in his seat on the Wizengamot, and would not easily be shifted. No, Augusta wouldn’t help…but…
“Of course!” He hissed and smiled an evil smile. “Augusta will not help me, but she would do anything for her son! If I have Franklin and Alice, she will convince Neville to surrender to me. Harry will return to my control or his friend Neville will denounce him as a coward! Perfect!”
Leaving his bed and stepping into his office, he sat at his desk and penned an official looking notice, ordering the staff at St. Mungo’s to release the Longbottoms to the care of Severus Snape and placing some heavy compulsions to that effect. He wrote out an explanation that Snape had recently come up with a potion that might be more productive in reducing or eliminating the effects of long-term Cruciatus exposure. It was...partially...true, after all.
He folded the parchment and set it on his desk, intending to send it the next morning, then set off to bed once more.
He dreamed of wealth, power and accolades from the grateful sheep, as he publicly denounced, and then eliminated the rising Dark Lord Potter!
In his office, under the watchful eyes of both Fawkes, who’d just flamed into the office, and the Sorting Hat, Flopsey opened the missive, copied it and refolded it precisely as Dumbledore had left it. She gave the copy to Fawkes and asked him to take it to Harry. A soft trill and the firebird was gone. Flopsey smiled as she tidied up Dumbledore’s office before retiring for the night.
I made a mistake last chapter. Tatooine has two suns, and three moons.