Harry makes a mistake and Dobby leaves. He takes training up another notch, Harry recruits another ally, sets fire to a building quotes Nietzsche and gets in trouble. Rita Writes, and it's time for...
1st Mar, 4:45 AM:
Hermione woke first that morning in a pensive mood. She hadn’t slept well the previous night. Something hand been niggling at her mind for hours…something that Harry had told her after their lovemaking the day before. It had taken time to piece the information together, but now she finally understood. Two days before, when he and Dobby had gone to infect Dumbledore’s lemondrops, he’d used blood magicks against the old meddler…but he’d promised Dobby he wouldn’t. She knew how seriously the elf took promises, how dedicated he was to Harry…and her, truth be told, but she knew he’d be crushed if he discovered that Harry had lied to him.
Her innate drive for justice and honesty took over.
“Harry.” She nudged the sleeping body beside her. “Harry!”
“Harry wake up!” She snapped, pushing him hard. That did the trick. He shot straight up in his bed, his head swiveling, seeking an enemy. “What? What’s up?”
“Harry, you have to talk to Dobby.”
“Talk to Dobby?” Still sleep-muddled, Harry simply repeated her words.
“Yes.” She repeated. “Talk to Dobby.”
“O…OK. I’ll talk to Dobby.” He agreed, feeling no threat around them, and hoping she’d let him return to sleep. “Any idea about what?”
“Harry!” She nearly shouted, guaranteeing she had his attention. “You used blood magicks against Dumbledore!”
“What? When? I never used…”
“Harry, you told me you placed compulsions on his lemondrop bag.”
“You anchored those compulsions with his blood. Blood - forcibly - taken!”
“Oh, shit!” He grimaced in near-pain. “You’re right! Dobby!”
Dobby popped in silently. “You has called for Dobby?”
“Yeah, Dobby. I royally balled things up. When we went to Hogwarts, I used blood-based compulsions on Dumbledore. Remember? When we were coating his lemondrops?”
“Dobby remembers. You feel you has broke you promise to Dobby?”
“Yes, Dobby, I do. I promised never to use dark magicks and I went and used blood-based compulsions on Dumbledore. That’s dark magic.”
“Was you intending to harm Dumbleydore?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes. What I designed, will take away his magic. He’ll live, he might even live a long and happy life, but he’ll never be the same.”
“Then you is correct. You has broke you promise to Dobby.”
“I’m sorry, Dobby. If I could undo it, I would.”
“What is done is done.” Dobby sighed. “You is wanting to atone, but to atone is to remove the make-do’s, and to remove the make-do’s is to allow Dumbleydore do as he pleases and that is not good. Dobby must think on this.” With that, the Jedi-elf stripped off his brown robe, set it on the bed, and handed Harry his lightsaber, before popping away.
Harry gaped at the robe and weapon in his hand. “Oh, no!” He groaned. With a look of utter devastation, he sat on bed, gathered the precious artifacts to his breast.
“I’m sorry, Harry.” Hermione spoke quietly. “I didn’t mean for him to…just…go. I just wanted to…” Hermione was horrified that her insistence that Harry clear the air, had caused a rift between two dear friends. She had no idea that it would make Dobby leave. Anguished tears began to fall. Seeing his love weeping, Harry rose and carefully laid Dobby’s weapon on the press, before turning to hold his beloved.
“Not your fault, Hermione.” Holding her gently, he tried to ease her feelings of guilt. “You had no idea he’d take it this hard. If anything, it was my fault. I promised him I wouldn’t use dark magicks and then I did. It was a mistake…a stupid mistake. One made on the spur of the moment. I didn’t think it through and now…”
“What - has - you - done?” Winky’s angry shriek rebounded from the walls. Both teens sprang apart as the furious elf popped into their room. “Dobby has took his things and has gone away from Winky!”
~Oh shit.~ Harry thought. He tried to calm Winky, but she was ready to kill.
“Winky!” He tried to make himself heard, but Winky was still ranting. “Dobby is Winky’s forever mate but now Dobby is gone and Winky is alone again and Dobby is being all alone and away from Winky and Winky is being here with no Dobby and…”
“Winky!” He finally yelled loudly enough to overwhelm her tirade. She stopped in shock, not that he’d yell at her, as she was used to that, but that she’d been yelling at him. She automatically began to pull and twist her ears.
Seeing her attempt at self-punishment, Harry again knelt on the floor before the distressed elf, and grasped her hands firmly to prevent her hurting herself.
“Please stop, Winky. There’s no need to punish yourself. Dobby left because he had to think. I broke a promise to him you see, and…well, I didn’t mean to, but it happened anyway. We were setting up the nanites and I cast some compulsions on Dumbledore’s lemondrop bag.”
“Winky does not understand.” She looked at him with worried eyes. Harry knew he couldn’t lie to this trusting soul, so he sighed and explained. “I anchored them to his blood…the blood that I had Dobby take from him last year. I put three drops of his blood in the bag and anchored a compulsion to each one. That’s what’s got Dobby so upset.”
Winky’s eyes widened as she caught what Harry was trying to say.
“Ooohhh! Winky understands now. Dobby has seen so very much dark magicks when he was slaved to the Malfoys, he sees all dark magicks as being evil.”
“Basically, yeah. The compulsions are meant to keep Dumbledore eating the lemondrops. The lemondrops are coated in Nanites, which will eventually take away his ability to use magic. The problem is; he has to eat those lemondrops. It’s absolutely necessary that he is removed permanently from his positions of power, or everything we…and Amelia, Augusta, Andromeda and Carolyn, have done to bring the British wizards into the twentieth century will be wasted. If he regains those positions, he can just have any or all of us killed and then turn things right back to the way there were. The only way we can prevent that is if he can’t use his magic.”
“Winky understands. Winky will talk to Dobby. Winky must go now. Winky may not return for a few days.”
“All right. Assign your next in line…?”
“That is being Nipsey. Nipsey is being a good elf. She is being well trained and has helped Winky muchly.”
“OK, then, have Nipsey take your position until you return, but please, Winky, please, bring my friend back.”
“Winky will try.” With that, the little elf vanished without a sound.
“God, I fucked that up!”
“Harry, nobody’s perfect.” As Harry had done mere moments before, Hermione tried to sooth her lover. “I’m sure that Dobby will return.”
“But will he ever trust me again?”
An hour of cuddling later, Harry was finally ready to face the day. The morning had dawned cold and bright. Perfect conditions for a nice long run. Harry rolled out of his bed and visited the loo. Returning to their quarters, he discovered Hermione already fastening her boots for their morning’s exercise.
“Ready for a hard day?” She asked.
“The only easy day was yesterday.” He returned with a kiss and a smile, and then sashayed out of their flat. Harry groaned as he watched her delectable arse swaying as she walked.
“Get a move on, pervert!” She called. “You’re running late!”
Laughing, Harry pulled on his clothing and fastened his boots before heading out to the front lawn.
There he found his entire corps of students waiting. Most had already begun their stretching.
“All right! Listen up! He bellowed. “I want to run the nature trail blindfolded! Anyone think they can keep up?” Hermione instantly threw her hand into the air, joined by Luna, Tonks, Mackenzie, Remus, Neville and Susan. The other students weren’t as sure, but all of them cast blindfold spells on each other and then they ran. Harry spaced his best along the file of students, to give encouragement where it was needed.
From time to time, he shouted, or heard one of his lieutenant’s shout: “Don’t depend on your eyes. They can deceive you. Reach out with your feelings!”
The first kilometer was shaky, but the students had long since become so familiar with the course that many claimed they could run it blindfolded. That’s why Harry chose this particular exercise. Blindfolded, they would have to use the force to prevent broken ankles and the like. Harry wasn’t concerned with their time, but he wanted them to know they could do this.
Along the way, someone…Harry thought it might have been Colin and Dennis, began to sing Jodies. Within a few minutes all the Jedi students were singing along. Harry’s grin was so wide, his jaw ached.
At the end they came in as, if not a group, at least a unit. The line was about a hundred metres long, from front to tail, but everybody was running together. As expected, their time wasn’t nearly as good as usual, but they had done it without the benefit of sight. Each and every one of his students had surrendered himself or herself to the force, and each of them had raced through the seven kilometer run with relative ease.
Grins dominated the class as they began their next set of Lightsaber attack and defend stances.
At eleven PM on the second of March, Aberforth Dumbledore locked his pub for the night and tossing his apron onto the bar, stretched and scratched before heading up the stairs to his flat.
There, he got a shock. Seated in his favorite chair, was a brown robed man, playing chess with a similarly robed young woman.
Yanking his wand from his belt, he spat out: “Stupefy!”
Instantly, even before he’d finished the short incantation, both figures were up and facing him with glowing shafts of light issuing from their right hands…one emerald, one gold. One of those shafts of light had effortlessly deflected his stunner into the fireplace. The hum of the beams was clearly audible.
“Good evening, Mister Dumbledore.” Came a voice he recognized from the previous year. With a hiss, the green shaft seemed to suck itself into the silver cylinder the lad held. A second later the golden beam did the same. Both teens, hooked their weapons to their belts.
“Well, Mister Potter, now that you’ve got my heart beating faster than it ought, what the ruddy hell are you doing in my home?”
“I felt it wiser to wait here, than visit you in the bar and allow the three Dumbledore stooges there, to report my presence.”
Abe began to laugh, as he sheathed his wand. “Smart move, boy. I only counted two.”
“You missed Dung.” Hermione interjected. “He was hiding next to the barrels, in the corner away from the door. He’s so filthy you might have overlooked him.”
“Ah hell. I should’a known. I gave him the boot last year, on account of he was stealing from Black, an’ trying to pawn that stuff off here.”
“I know. He’ll be dealt with when the time comes. In the meantime, I’m here to ask you something.”
“How d’y know I’m not working with Albus?” He asked. “I could’ve sent him an owl. I could be stalling you here until he captures you.”
Harry didn’t need his force abilities to see the contempt Abe held for Albus. He used them anyway. This was war and they were about to grab one of the enemy’s major assets. His probe told him the same thing his first glance had. Aberforth absolutely detested Albus!
“Good question. I have several reasons. First, for some reason you despise Albus. He also holds you in contempt. Second, you used the word ‘capture’ not ‘take you to safety’ or some such rubbish. Third, Hedwig is outside. You have three owls here, two are browns and one is a Scops. None of them are a match for a female Snowy in a temper. No, you’re not working for him. Last, it wouldn’t matter if you were, we can scamper before he arrives. Assuming he flies, it’ll take him four, five minutes to get here from the castle by broom. Running, it’ll take him fifteen or twenty…and that’s assuming he leaves immediately….and survives the run. Your floo is so unsafe, it’s listed by the ministry as a public hazard, and unless he’s insane…erm…skip that. Anyway, I don’t think he’ll be arriving that way. That leaves only apparation and portkeys. No human being can apparate from or to Hogwarts. While he can make portkeys, they’re detectable for about a second before one arrives. Even if he’s got his wand out, it’ll take him between one and a half and three seconds before he’s ready to fire and likely another two or three before he has a decent sight picture, and like I said before, we can be gone before he arrives.”
“Damn good, boy! An’ you’re right. Albus an’ I don’t get along. Haven’t for years. Problem is, most people assume he and I’re joined at the bloody hip.”
“I though as much. Albus has been maligning you for years. Goats and illiteracy and things like that. I can’t imagine you’d be happy with that.”
“That blasted charm was meant to help the goats talk to their herders in case of emergency!” He shouted. “But no, that self righteous bastard just had to turn me in to the bloody ministry, and he even helped them prosecute me!” Abe was more than livid. “And then he spread the word I was practicing indecent things with the bloody goats! Bastard!”
“I thought it might be something of the sort.” Harry smirked.
When Abe had calmed a bit, he asked: “So…d’you want to get even?”
Aberforth’s eyes lit like midnight on New Years. “Ooohh yes! You bet your warm woolen socks I do!”
“Speaking of…what is it with him and his socks, anyway?”
“Have you ever seen him cast a warming charm?”
“He can’t do it…not without setting his feet on fire anyway.”
“What?” Came from both Harry and Hermione.
“Nope. He’s stupidly powerful and while he’s a transfiguration prodigy, he’s absolutely pants when it comes to everyday charms. He doesn’t respect charms, considers ‘em beneath him, so he always overpowers ‘em. Since he can’t use ‘em properly, he plays the dotty eccentric. People buy it and everyone’s happy.”
Aberforth scowled as the two teens began to giggle. Soon enough giggling became hard laughing. He crossed his arms and began tapping his foot in annoyance until they began to calm down. When they had, he asked: “You done?”
Receiving giggling nods, he shook his head in exasperation and asked: “Now you’ve got that out of your systems, whaddya got in mind?”
“Dumbledore has been manipulating the entire British wizarding world for the past hundred years or so. He moves in the shadows and pulls strings, gathers information, blackmails people, uses compulsions, makes laws for himself, obliviates people, and God knows what else. For me personally, he seems to have decided it’s for his ‘greater good’ that I play the part of sacrificial lamb. He’s mushroomed me for years and…”
“Mushroomed?” Abe asked, intrigued. He’d ever heard the term before. Hermione smiled and explained.
“It means kept in the dark and fed nothing but bullshit.”
Now Abe fell apart laughing. Not at the idea, as that was Albus’ way, but by the description.
When he’d finished laughing, Harry spoke again. “He’s decided to sacrifice me, in hopes Voldy will somehow decide to play nice, or maybe die at the same time, I don’t know which, and I don’t care. Now, I’ve decided to do things my way, not his. I’ll take out the scaly bastard. That’s actually the easy part…but I’m dealing with Albie as well. The reforms I…and my accomplices…have started will have no chance if he regains his positions of power, and even now he’s agitating to do just that.”
“Yeah he is. And there are those who are listening to him. Hell, he spends more time glad-handing than running the school. Minerva does all the day-to-day…NO!” Abe stopped in wondering appreciation. “Lemmee guess. You set that up too, din’cha?”
“Mmmhmm. With her running the school, he’s been sidelined. He just doesn’t know it yet. Hogwarts is his last position of power in the Wizarding world. Soon enough he won’t even have that.”
“What’rya gonna to do?”
“I’m going to stop him cold…but the only way I can do that, is to take away what makes him the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. His magic. Without his magic, he’ll be a squib. As a squib, especially after so long as the most powerful wizard in Britain, he’ll be pitied, and for the rest of his life…ignored.”
Hermione scowled in frustrated confusion, and Harry knew he’d have some explaining to do when they returned to the castle.
“Much as I like the idea, it can’t be done.” Abe sighed. Although he suspected there were rituals that could do something like that, those rituals, if they existed, were carefully controlled by the ministry, and he had no understanding of them in the first place.
“Not with conventional magic, but there are other methods.” Harry returned.
“I’ve made a special…muggle…potion, for lack of a better word, that will drain his magic away. It won’t kill him, but he won’t be able to use magic…for the rest of his life.”
“The muggles can do that?”
“Some can, yes. Most magical people have no idea how far the muggles…erm, mundanes have gotten, while the magicals rot in the seventeenth century. They’ve developed ways to travel faster than the speed of sound, they’ve tapped the power of the atom, they’ve even put men on the moon. Even now, there are a handful of people living in orbit around the earth.”
When Aberforth didn’t react in horrified shock, Harry went on.
“Since the active ingredient in that potion is keyed to his blood, it’ll be keyed to yours as well. I’m offering you a chance to join us and help train my people in the fight against Voldemort. The side benefit is that you’ll be far away from here, so if by chance he comes in here with the vector, it won’t affect you, but I’d like to avoid the possibility.”
“Whaddya mean ‘vector’?”
“It’s how a disease is transmitted. Do you like lemon drops?”
“Can’t stand ‘em! Never could.”
“Then you’re perfectly safe, but like I said, I want to avoid the possibility. You see, I’ve coated his lemon drops with the potion. He’ll eat them and when I’m ready, I’ll slip him the second part…the activator. Three months after that, he’ll have no usable magic left.”
“And this potion won’t kill him?”
“In many ways, I agree, but what I have planned for him is far worse than death. Given what he’s done to the British wizarding world, and to me in particular…and to my parents, I want to make him suffer!”
Aberforth was rather taken aback by the icy-cold anger in the young man. He also realized that anger was what made him so important to Albus. It wasn’t that Albus wanted Harry to win, it was just that he wanted Riddle to lose…by whatever means necessary. If Harry died in the doing, so much the better.
Sometimes he only detested Albus, but at times like this, he wanted to torture his brother to death! Not wanting to turn the boy’s anger on himself, he shifted topics.
“And what about my place?”
Thankful for the change, Harry replied: “I have a friend, Carolyn Chapman. She’s my solicitor. She can find a bartender. Hell, if you allow me free range, I can have this place looking like new in a few days, and she can find someone who’ll make you a profit!”
“Naah. Albus would notice.” Aberforth turned his head to spit in contempt.
“Alright. We can go to plan B. You can be kidnapped.”
“For ransom? He’d never pay it!”
“He hasn’t the money to pay it anyway. I’ve tied all his gold up with the goblins.”
“You did that? Oohohoho, he’s way past furious about that!” Suddenly, Aberforth liked Harry Potter a whole lot more!
“Good. Angry people make mistakes. Still, I’m sure Rita can find a way to make him look even worse.”
“Rita? Skeeter? Isn’t she that nosy reporter who can turn into a beetle?”
“Actually, yes.” Harry was rather surprised Abe knew about Rita’s little secret, though he supposed he shouldn’t be. Abe kept a pub after all, and bartenders were usually the best source of intelligence to be found. He asked: “Why?”
“Albus has put some kind of muggle inventions up all around the castle to kill flying insects. Better tell her to avoid the place.”
“Already done. Last month, as a matter of fact. Since I don’t need her to spy on him, I’ve told her to stay away.”
“Ooh kaay. So, you’re gonna make Albus look like an arse, and take out the dark wanker at the same time. So what’s my part?”
“You’ll be having a nice little holiday in sunny…and frequently rainy, blustery and snowy, Anglesey. Accommodations will be provided in historic Potter Castle, with three hots a day and a nice warm place to sleep, entertainment and physical fitness facilities available free of charge. Your job, as it were…will be to shoot at my students.”
“Shoot? At your…?” Abe was more than a little shocked.
“Don’t worry about it. They’ll be sending whatever you throw at them, right back at you.”
“How?” Abe was more than a little disbelieving. He’d been a dueling champion in his youth and even now he was no slouch.
“With these.” Harry indicated his lightsaber. “As you’ve just seen, these can deflect any energy pulse, that includes spells, curses, hexes, and the like. They’ll even deflect the unforgivables.”
“I thought those couldn’t be blocked.”
“Until now, they couldn’t.”
“OK, I’m in. So, how d’you wanna play this?”
“Well, if we fake a kidnapping, we’ll have to trash the bar. Assuming I survive, I’ll make it good in June or July. If I don’t, my estate will. Either way, you’ll have a new bar and Albie won’t be able to do shit about it.”
“Oh! That’ll drive him clean up the bloody wall!”
“Good. It’ll be the coup de grâce.”
As soon as Abe had agreed, Harry had him gather whatever he thought he couldn’t do without. And had Hermione check them over for trackers, monitoring charms and the like.
She found more than a few…all with Dumbledore’s magical signature. Aberforth was not pleased. Fortunately Albus couldn’t use blood-based compulsions on Abe, as they both shared the same blood. Any such compulsion would affect him as well.
As soon as the charms were lifted, they set to, in destroying the bar.
Abe was laughing his head off as Nipsey arrived to transport him back to Potter Castle. After he’d gone, Harry cast a silent Incendio. The flame spell took and soon the building was burning merrily. The last thing Harry did before activating his portkey, was shout out “MORSMORDRE!”
The ghastly skull appeared in the sky as they vanished in a swirl of light.
Arriving at Potter castle, Harry arranged for Quarters for Abe, before taking his curious lover to their own.
Sealing the door, he turned to Hermione and said: “OK, what’s on your mind?”
“Why did you set fire to his pub?”
“Erm…urban renewal?” He joked.
Unfortunately Hermione didn’t appreciate the joke. “Harry I’m being serious here.”
It was a shock to her that he didn’t use the opportunity to play the ‘Sirius/serious’ game.
“Hermione, it’s part of the Death Eater’s standard procedure. They love to burn things. They love to destroy things. The Dark Mark is just a signature. Besides, as soon as the mark is reported, the Aurors will be along to put out the fire. Even if they aren’t, there are enough wards around the bar to keep it more or less intact. And I’m going to rebuild it anyway.”
Hermione had nothing to say to that, and that irritated her, so she switched topics.
“You told Aberforth, that nobody would listen to Albus when he was a squib. I thought that was the reason you helped to engineer the reforms.”
“It is, but we’re dealing with human nature here…specifically we’re dealing with wizarding human nature. The wizards’ long life-spans ensure they react slowly to things. Laws have been passed, sure, but most are gonna fight it, unless they see a reason for it…a reason that affects them personally. That’s how they are. Not just the purebloods, but the full and half-bloods too. They don’t like change, and this…all these reforms…” Harry spread his arms to encompass the room. “…are massive changes to their social structure. For the past five hundred years, purebloods were at the top of the ruddy heap and squibs were thought to be worse than useless. Arabella Figg was lucky, actually. Her mother only turned her out. There are many pureblood families who felt ‘better dead than squib’. Their entire worldview is going to be turned on its head. Look at the ministry. Look how it’s been run for the past five centuries. Now, squibs’re being given opportunities they never would have had before…jobs, where only pureblood wizards could hope to work before. More than three hundred laws have been identified and researched for elimination or modernization, since November, and it’s all been done by people that nobody would talk to…until now.
Even the word ‘squib’ is an outright insult. I think it always has been. Now with this new law, the word is a finable offence, but I’ve used it. Hermione, I’m muggle raised! Just like you! I know better than to deride someone’s handicap, but I’ve called Filch a stupid squib more often than I care to admit. Of course, that could be because he’s an unmitigated arsehole…” Harry paused as if to think, then continued. “Anyway, I’m both hoping this ends, and at the same time counting on that not happening…at least where Dumbledore is concerned.”
“What do you mean?”
“Hermione, Albus Dumbledore has made enemies, even among those who have traditionally stood by his side. He’s manipulated people, moved ‘em around like chesspieces…people don’t like that! They’re gonna want to get even. By the time I’m done with him, he’s gonna want to move to Antarctica and hide under a…a…a polar bear or something. He’s so used to being listened to, so used to being adored and fawned over as the greatest, most brilliant wizard in living history, he so loved the spotlight, and now he’s being sidelined, he’s being marginalized. I’m mixing metaphors I know, but there it is. Now, Rita is doing a bang-up job, making him look like a complete arse, and when Voldy is gone, he’ll have no function. He’ll be a has-been.
In any case, until things change, the wizarding social structure is based on one’s personal, family, or political influence. That influence is a combination of gold, family history, personal deeds, and raw magical ability. I’ve already had Graswold take care of his gold. The loss of that gold will prevent his using bribes, or ‘other methods’ to get his way. The loss of his magic will prevent his from regaining any of his influence, and the loss of his influence, will keep him from his former positions of authority, and consequently his audience…and Rita’s diligent work on his image, will keep him out of the public view…probably for the rest of his life.”
“You’re taking an awful chance, Harry.” Hermione spoke quietly. “Not with your plans. They’re reasonable, militarily speaking, but with your soul. Remember what Nietzsche said.”
“That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?” Harry grinned.
“No, smart arse! The other one.”
“That which is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil?”
“Relax, Hermione. I remember.” And Harry grimly recited: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster. And if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes into you.”
The next morning’s headlines read:
ABERFORTH DUMBLEORE KIDNAPPED. HOGSHEAD INN BURNED. WHERE WAS ALBUS?
Dear readers, writes Rita Skeeter, special correspondent to The Daily prophet. “It has come to the attention of this intrepid and attractive recorder of newsworthy events, that our long time hero, Albus Dumbledore is not nearly as bright and shiny as he wants us to believe. Last night as he slept peacefully in the sybaritic surrounds of his private chambers in Hogwarts, School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Hogshead Inn, an historical icon of wizarding culture, dating back nearly nine hundred years, was attacked by Death Eaters. The inn, owned by Aberforth, Dumbledore, brother to the headmaster, was kidnapped and the inn was set ablaze.
While the pub was burning, what did the headmaster, long thought to be the most powerful wizard in the world, do?
Not a thing.
As poor Aberforth was dragged from his inn and spirited away, likely to be tortured and then killed, the Headmaster slept on peacefully, not concerned a whit for the life of his own brother.
If Albus Dumbledore cannot even bestir himself to assist his own brother, what effort will he put forth to aid Wizarding Britain from the scourge of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?
Harry laughed uproariously as he read the article. Rita had done a wonderful job, depicting Albus as a cowardly self-serving bastard who hid in his castle while his very own brother was taken by terrorists and the Hogshead Inn, “that icon of commerce in Hogsmeade”, had been torched. Personally, Harry thought ‘icon’ was stretching the truth a bit far, but she had expressed it as an opinion and it did help to make Albie look like an arse, so it was all good.
Hermione glared at him in annoyance. She was still considering what he’d told her the night before. More to the point, she was wondering what destroying Albus Dumbledore like that, would do to his soul. Harry was still the wonderful man she’d fallen in love with, but these days, he was harder…more determined. He was a lot like her father on those few days he came home after one of his army friends had died…and that worried her.
The house elf calling herself Nipsey arrived with a piece of parchment for Harry. Thanking the little elf, he opened the page only to sigh, as a strongly worded request to visit could be seen.
“I gotta go talk to Abe.”
“I’ll come with you.”
“Naah, this is something that I have to face on my own. I want you to take them over the next two sets of strikes and blocks.”
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ll be there in a half hour or less.” He stood and deposited a gentle kiss on her head. “Love you.”
“Love you too.”
Leaving his crew behind, he went to see an outraged bartender.
Harry walked down the corridor of the visitor’s wing. He wasn’t looking forward to this conversation. As he reached the flat he’d assigned Aberforth Dumbledore, the door opened by itself.
“GET IN HERE!” Came from inside. Harry entered, feeling like a schoolboy who’d been caught doing something naughty.
Inside the lounge he found an irate Abe, pacing back and forth.
“You burned my pub!?!” Abe brandished the paper.
“I had to…”
“You burned my…what the hell d’you mean, you had to?” He snarled. Harry actually sighed in relief. At least the old man wasn’t flinging curses.
“I had to make it look like you’d been kidnapped by the Death Eaters. The random blast marks inside wouldn’t have convinced anybody. You’ve had worse damage on a rowdy Friday night and you know it. Tell me, if it really had been Death Eaters, would they have left the place standing?”
Abe grunted. “Aah, shit!” Then: “Naah. They’d have torched the place. You know your Death Eaters, boy!”
“I wish I didn’t, but yes…I do. Death Eaters are terrorists. As the word implies, they use terror to control people. Voldemort is worse. He was so bad the first time ‘round, people were still afraid of him ten years after he was thought to be dead. That kind of fear comes only from the absolute worst a person can do. I’m sorry about the inn, but it’s just a building. It can be rebuilt. I ensured the Aurors would get there before too much damage was done, and like I said, I’ll rebuild it. When this is all over, you’ll have a new place, and there won’t be anything Albus can do about it.”
Aberforth, still wasn’t happy. He understood. He didn’t like it, but he understood
After dinner, Harry called Hermione, Remus, Tonks, Luna, Neville, and Mackenzie into his office.
Without preamble, he said: “You six, have advanced far enough to build your own lightsabers. I can do without two of you at a time, so draw lots, or play rock-paper-scissors, or whatever you want, to choose who goes first. I’ve assigned two of the force sensitive house elves to assists you.”
Luna raised her hand. “I’ll go last. Until Ron is caught up, I cannot afford to take five or more days off.
“Alright. Any body else?”
Remus raised his hand. “I have a functional weapon now. I can wait.” Mack echoed his sentiment. Tonks really wanted to see if she could make a pink blade, but also decided to wait, so Harry assigned them.
“OK, Hermione and Neville first. Then Mack and Tonks, last will be Luna and Remus. Can everybody handle that?”
Nods all around followed. Luna looked like she wanted to say something, but Harry anticipated her.
“If Ron is still behind, I’ll personally supervise him.” He promised. Then at her relieved look, added: “Just don’t expect me to offer him the same kind of…erm…incentives you have, K?”
“Harry!” Hermione sputtered. Luna grinned and the rest laughed out loud.
Stokes volunteered to mentor the first group as they delved into the techniques of building their own weapons…at least until Dobby returned. As the elves had been busy over the past half-year, making the internal parts for their use, most of the work would be designing and building the shells, creating the critical focusing crystals, growing the organic connectors and coaxing them into their new conduits, and of course, putting the things together.
4th March, Hogwarts Castle:
“What do you mean GONE? Dumbledore bellowed, unknowingly echoing the very words Voldemort had used some months before. Delores quailed before him, knowing he wasn’t nearly as light oriented as he wanted people to think. He’d used the Cruciatus on her, and she had no doubt he could and would kill her if she proved too inconvenient.
Dumbledore growled to himself. The past few days had not gone well at all. First, three days before, he’d awoken to find that ridiculous plastic star somehow stuck to his wand. He still couldn’t dislodge it! Every time he’d tried to break it or twist it off, it just squeaked! He’d covered it with a charm, but he knew it was there and that made him furious! Then Aberforth was kidnapped by Death Eaters. Severus swore he knew nothing of the kidnapping, but the Dark Mark was there for all to see. The front-page report made it look like it was his fault that his brother had been taken, and the Hogshead Inn, which had amazingly moved from ‘public eyesore’ to ‘historical building’, burned.
Worse, his spy had refused to abduct the Longbottoms. His explanation was unfortunately plausible…
“I am afraid I cannot do so, headmaster.” Snape had told him. “You have apparently forgotten; the Aurors are actively seeking me. Madam Bones has issued a capture or kill on sight order for all marked Death Eaters, and I am so marked. It is only the castle wards that that protect me here. The portkey the Dark Lord provided transports me to his place of concealment, but only to the outer wards. I must then pass through his security before an audience with him. Were I to appear anywhere in public, especially in such a venue as St. Mungo’s hospital, I would be arrested immediately and there are members of the Department of Mysteries who could tear through my occlumantic shields like tissue paper.”
Dumbledore, unfortunately had nothing to say to that. He’d dismissed his minion and returned to his tower, cursing all the while. He needed another expendable asset to remove the Longbottoms from St. Mungo’s. But who?
2nd March. 9:00 PM:
At nine that evening, Delores Umbridge had opened her door to find Albus Dumbledore waiting. She’d been forced out of her position by that blood traitor Bones, and now, here the biggest mudblood lover there was standing on her porch. Needless to say, she was not in a good mood. Dumbledore’ presence would ensure her mood grew worse.
“Albus Dumbledore.” She said flatly. “To what do I owe this unexpected…pleasure?”
“I have come to collect on a debt.”
“Debt?” Umbridge sneered. “I am not aware of any debts I might owe you.”
“The debt in question is your very freedom. It was I who managed to delay your trial until after the beginning of the school year, so Harry Potter and his associates could not testify against you, resulting in a mistrial.”
“Unfortunately, you seem to have made an error. The charges were set aside, not dismissed. They can be refiled at any time.”
“While that is true, I have taken measures to return Potter to my control. Once I have that control, I will force him to clear your good name.”
Delores’ self-advancement drive took over. “And what do I have to do?”
“I want you to go to St. Mungo’s and collect the Longbottoms. Once I have them, I can entice young Neville to come out of hiding, and once I have him, Harry will not be far behind. I will have him under my control again!”
“To what end?”
“That is not your affair. Do as I have ordered and do not question your betters!”
“How dare you!?!” Delores sputtered in outrage. Dumbledore merely sneered: “I am your superior in every way…Delores…social, political, historical and financial. Refuse me, and you might just suffer an ‘unfortunate accident’. You will not die. I can assure you of that, but your remaining years will be agonizing and humiliating in the extreme. Do you clearly understand me?”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Wouldn’t I just? I am the greatest wizard alive. You would do well to remember that. In fact, I believe a reminder is in order…” He pointed his wand and sneered: “yn llethu artaith!”
Delores fell screeching to the tiles. There she lay howling and spasming under the effects of the curse until Dumbledore decided she’d had enough and released her. He watched her dispassionately as she shuddered.
“That was an unforgivable!” Delores panted as she recovered.
“Actually, no. It was a perfectly legal spell, albeit in a language not spoken here. In any case, who are they going to believe? You? You are an unpopular ministry drone charged with torturing students, while I am Albus Dumbledore! The greatest wizard on Earth! I am untouchable!”
Delores had a well developed sense of ‘cover her arse’, and nodded as rapidly as any house elf. Dumbledore handed her the notice he’d rewritten, and turned to go.
Before he apparated away, he turned once more and added: “Delores, I trust you will keep this conversation to yourself. Should anybody learn of it, the results would be…dire.”
Now the toad-like woman trembled before him, reporting her failure. The Longbottoms had been removed form the Janus Thickey ward some two months before, at the behest of Augusta Longbottom! The healer of record was not one Dumbledore was familiar with but as the forms were filled out, the hospital had no further interest in Franklin or Alice Longbottom.
He had been checked. Checked before he even knew who was playing the game!
Furious, Dumbledore raised his wand to slaughter the obsequious woman. He stopped, only because the castle wards would detect him and alert the staff, and if that happened, there’d be no way to cover it up.
He obliviated the sycophantic toad, and dismissed her.
Umbridge scurried out of his presence, unaware of the beetle riding in her black hairbow.
The next morning’s headlines were not complimentary.
DUMBLEDORE PLOTS TO KIDNAP THE LONGBOTTOMS! HAVE WE ANOTHER DARK LORD AMONGST US?
Dear readers, writes Rita Skeeter, special correspondent to The Daily prophet, it seems that Albus Dumbledore disgraced former head of the Wizengamot, has not had his fill of underhanded dealings. This unswerving seeker of the news, has discovered a sinister plot by none other than the long-thought-to-be, ‘Leader of the Light’, to kidnap the Longbottoms from St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies, and use them to force our boy-hero, Harry Potter back into his direct control.
Yesterday afternoon, one Delores Umbridge appeared before Dumbledore, like a peasant, beseeching a boon from her liege. She informed him she had failed in her assignment to remove the Longbottoms from St. Mungo’s, as they had already been removed by Augusta Longbottom, Dowager matriarch of House Longbottom and It’s titular head. No reason was given but this reporter did some investigating on her own.
It appears that the hospital had done nothing to reverse, or even treat the Longbottoms, on the orders of Albus Dumbledore, then head of the Wizengamot. Why would he do something like that? Advances are made every few years in treatments for various ailments, why would he prevent any treatment from being offered the grieving Augusta, or young Neville?
Why Dumbledore is so anxious to regain control (His words) over Harry Potter is unknown, but Dumbledore has had an unhealthy interest in Young Potter since the first fall of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, at his hands. Reports from the Department o0f Mysteries, told this reporter that a prophecy was involved. Rumour has it that twelve inner circle Death Eaters were dispatched to the Ministry to steal a prophecy orb for their master. Confirmed reports have shown that eleven Death Eaters were apprehended after a running battle between twelve of them and six, fourth and fifth year Hogwarts students, led by Potter himself, and that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named appeared for the first time in fourteen years.
Is there in fact a prophecy? If so, what does it say? Is Potter the oft-stated ‘chosen one’? Does he have the power to vanquish this scourge of the wizarding world?
This reporter wants to know.
As per his usual habit, Dumbledore could not be reached for comment.
In his office, Albus Dumbledore almost died of a heart attack as he read the second set of uncomplimentary reports in the past two days. The questions about the prophecy struck far too close to home. He was not happy.
Dumbledore snarled to himself: “How is she getting in?”
In the Great Hall, at the teacher’s table, Minerva began to chuckle. On her right, Aurora was curious as to why and even more so when Filius also laughed.
At nearly ten PM on the fifth, Albus climbed the ladder to Sybill’s quarters. Inside the room was dark…not even the usual door light. He cast a quiet “Lumos” only to see the invisible star on his wand light up. Clenching his teeth in anger, he wafted the wand and lit the other candles in the rooms. Expecting to find a dead Sybill Trelawney, he peeked into her bedchamber…where he found an empty bed.
“Flopsey!” He bellowed. Instantly a nervous Flopsey appeared before him. “Good night, Master Headmaster professor Dumbleydore, Sir! You has called for Flopsey?”
“Yes, Flopsey. Where is Sybill?”
“Professor Sybill is being gone away.”
“Gone away? Where?”
“Harry Potter is having her. He is being taking her from the castle under his authority as Lord Gryffindor. He is being taking her on the twelfth of Janyary. None of the elves is being seeing her after then.”
Flopsey fervently hoped Dumbledore did not ask how Sybill had been removed. Harry’s orders gave her the leeway to lie to the headmaster if she needed to, but she truly hated lying. Fortunately Dumbledore didn’t ask. Instead he asked: “Why was this not reported immediately?”
“You had not told us to do so. You is giving the house elves orders to clean her and to prevent bed-sores but you is not telling us what to do if she leaves.”
Nearly incandescent, with rage, Dumbledore snarled: “Come with me!”
Leading the elf through the castle, they ended up in the headmaster’s office. Albus stomped up the small flight of steps to his chambers where he dug into his press. Withdrawing the first piece of cloth he felt he returned to his office. Where he addressed the less-than-properly-frightened- elf, and held out a pair of socks.
“This means clothes! For every elf responsible for Sybill’s care, this means’s clothes!”
“Clothes?” She squeaked. Half a dozen elves appeared, some looking very nervous. A few squeaked syllables from Flopsey that Albus didn’t catch, and they calmed. In fact, they almost smiled.
“Clothes!” He thrust the pair of socks into Flopsey’s hand, and then followed up with six more pairs, for the other elves. “You are free!” He sneered cruelly. “Begone!”
With that, the elves fled. Dumbledore was disappointed at the lack of tears. They’d accepted his socks without so much as a whimper…almost…almost as if they were waiting for it. Like they’d had orders to follow…
The light flashed and Dumbledore bellowed: “HARRY POTTER!”
Fawkes snickered from the window, as he watched Albus storming around his office, swearing like a sailor, and throwing things left and right. It wasn’t as bad as his last tantrum, but it was bad enough. Fortunately, his library now resided in Harry’s house, so the books were safe, but there were quite a few breakable objects just waiting to be destroyed.
Albus ranted and railed and threw things until he was worn out. At a bit after midnight, he stumbled over to his battered desk and using his star-tipped wand, repaired his chair. Slumping into the ornate throne, he closed his eyes for a moment.
In the rare moment of quiet, he understood his pawn had out maneuvered him. Somehow, Harry was predicting his every move with uncanny accuracy…sometimes several moves in advance…and never less than two. He knew from the monitoring charms he had on the common rooms, and a few other places, that Harry was absolutely pants at chess, so where was he getting his advice? Dumbledore’s first guess would be Hermione Granger. She was scarily brilliant, and had courage, cunning, loyalty and drive for any six people. He’d tried to kill her several times over the years, but her luck was every bit as good as Harry’s.
Now, he thought: ~Why would she have Harry take Sybill?~ He’d accepted that Potter was probably behind the abduction of the Longbottoms as well, but the boy just wasn’t smart enough to think of it on his own. Why would the mudblood have Harry take Trelawney?
Then the conversation with Arthur, the month before sprang to the forefront of his mind. ~She knows about the compulsions! That’s the only thing that makes sense! She’s somehow discovered the compulsions on herself and then told Harry. Maybe she just removed them. That would be within her abilities…all except the blood based ones. Now, where was that…~
He scrambled to his private hide-a-way and found the concubine’s contract to Ron Weasley. The phial of bright red blood was there with it. If the contract had been voided, the ink would have turned from silver to red. ~So, she hasn’t discovered the blood-based compulsions yet. I can still turn this to my advantage. Without the blood she cannot dispel them. I think it’s time to bond her to a wizard of my liking. Weasley is 3worthless to me. No doubt he’s with Potter. No. It has to be someone here…someone I can control…but who?~
As he was plotting, Albus decided the blood he’d taken from all his victims would be better protected on his person. The shrunken wooden box, with its dozens of phials, went into his robe pocket where he ‘knew’ it would be safe. Fawkes and the sorting hat both made note of the box’s placement.
Harry was about to turn in when Nipsey popped into his office. “Master Harry Potter, they is some house elfs wanting to speak with you. Shall I tell them to wait until tomorrow?”
“Erm…No. It's alright. Have them come in, please.”
Nipsey popped away to returned with a familiar elf…and six others.
“Hello, Flopsey.” He greeted her with a smile. “I take it he gave you clothes?”
“Yes, Harry potter, Sir. Albus Dumbleydore is being most upset that Sybill Trelawney is being gone from the castle. He is being giving Flopsey these warm woolen socks!”
Nipsey gasped in horror as the other elves showed their own pairs. Albus Dumbledore had always been the one the elves were told to go to in case they needed a home. Now, it looked like he was no better than the Malfoy’s!
“OK, Flopsey, Will you allow me to bond you into my service?” Flopsey’s immediate reaction was a flood of tears, and like Dobby, she began to emote on how wonderful and kind and generous Harry was. After she’d calmed down, she agreed and, as soon as he’d bonded her, the others were lining up for their turn. Harry bonded them, one by one, into his houses.
Once they were done, Nipsey directed them to the elf wing to find a place to sleep. She asked Flopsey to join her in the kitchens where they would work out some details. Being nearly a hundred years older, and having run Hogwarts for nearly that long, Flopsey was by far, the more experienced elf, and would probably assume the position of senior elf, if Winky allowed it.
At Hogwarts, Castle, a bitter old man sighed as he rested his weary frame on his bed. Carefully, he folded one aching leg over the other knee and tugged off his sock. He reached into his still-open press and fished around. There were a few socks there, but not the ones he sought. Then he remembered. He’d given this favorite socks to the elves.
“Damn!” He swore. “Those were my best socks!”
After breakfast on the sixth, Harry called out to his troops. , “Congratulations people! You have all successfully made it through Makashi. Now’s where the fun begins!”
“You mean the last seven months hasn’t been fun?” George yelled.
“Oh, no!” Harry returned with a grin that was positively evil. “The past seven months have been a warm up!”
Chuckles and groans sounded throughout the cavernous room. Harry gestured, and a file of people walked onto the stage.
When they were in place, he called out: “OK, People! Listen up!
For those of you who don’t know them, I’d like to introduce Amelia Bones, Alastor Moody, Arthur Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Filius Flitwick, Aberforth Dumbledore, and Rahjit Patil. And these two people do not exist.” He pointed to two people who wore the grey robes of the Unspeakables. Arthur had asked Algernon to provide one or two to help train Harry’s lot in fighting against random spellfire. Not even he knew that Croaker was one of the two.
Each person named…or not named, lifted a hand or nodded as he or she was called.
“From the French ‘Gendarmes des Magiques’, we have: Jacques Copeau, Andre Reisling, Alain Tristan, Sabine St.Laurent, Sébastien Dubois, René Alphonse, Denis Burnier, Claude duValle, Christophe Benoît, Eugène Duris, Eduard Guillaume, Marc Lucas, Agathe Fiennes, Colette Charpac, Aurelie Petit, Brigitte Mitterand, Éléonore and Josette Mertens, and Margaux de Croix.” Again, hands raised and heads nodded on introduction.
From Spain’s ‘La Guardia Mágico’, we have Andrés Silvera, Roberto Santos, Enrique Sevedra, Carlos Abrego, Fernando Alba, Helena Meléndez, Luis Mendoza, Jacinta Alvarado, Julián Báez, Rolando Navarro, Juanita Barajas, Roberta Cardenas, Manuel Peña, Filipe Cervantes, Gabriel Ramírez, Ramón Griego, Sergio Torres, Rafael Vallejo, Natanial Hernández, Javier Limón, Isodora Lucero, Marco Yáñez, Miguel Zepeda
And from the Italian ‘Polizia dell'arcano’, may I introduce Adriana Esposito, Aberto Rossi, Bianca Romano, Alessani Giordano, Rafale Colombo, Angelo Salvatore, Carmine De Luca, Bruno Greco, Fillipo Marino, Edoardo Trovato, Marcell Giovanni, Lauro di Francesco, Andrea del Sarto, Guido Auditoré,
All of these people have several things in common. They’ve each lost family to Voldemort and more than a few to Grindelwald as well. Second, they all have a law enforcement background, if not here then somewhere and finally, they all are former dueling champions. Oh, and last…they’ve all volunteered to come and shoot at you.” Harry added with a sadistic grin.
The students groaned in genuine pain! They’d expected a dozen or so people, but there were as many of them as there were students!
Harry let them get over it, then added: “This many people would be too hard to hide, from Voldy and his friends, not to mention Dumbledore, so other than a few weekends, each of these people will be here on a random basis. That means when their schedules permit. It shouldn’t be more than a dozen or so per day.”
The glares he got from his students told him what they thought of his sense of humour.
For the next three hours, Harry introduced the Jedi and their techniques to the law enforcement personnel. Madam Bones and her staff begged off after the first half hour, claiming they had things to do and a government to run. Harry smiled as they disappeared. Then it was just the Aurors and the students.
The foreign officers were astounded at the lightsabers and the speed and accuracy with which the students wielded them. Unlike Britain, mugglebornes were more accepted on the continent. Fully half the French, Italian and Spanish troops had seen Star Wars, and not a few of them actually drooled as they saw real lightsabers in action.
Harry led the students through twenty-third and twenty-fourth Soresu before he began to show off. He had his students back to the wall and then transfigured a thirty foot circle filled with sand. Grins followed, as the students knew what he had in mind. As he called their names, each person entered the ring for duels, paired off, or in groups. The twins led their group in a huge melee, where the last one standing was the winner. Surprisingly it was neither Gred or Forge, but Anika Montgomery. Both Weasley twins crowed their approval for the shy teen, and promised her lots of ice cream and candy, to which she replied: “My mother told me never take candy from strangers…and you two are about as strange as they come!”
Gales of laughter from the audience followed. And both twins cried out: “Oi! I resemble that remark!”
At nearly five PM, Harry was about to dismiss the troops and their guests to dinner when Tonks piped up: “Harry! Aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Not to my knowledge.”
“Oh, Come on, Harry!” The Weasley twins wheedled. “You have to show them!”
“No, I don’t!”
“Go on, Harry! Remus added, followed by Mackenzie saying: “It wouldn’t be a proper demonstration without you two.”
“Mack, this isn’t about me and Dobby. It’s about how our guests can help train us for battle.”
Soon enough it was out of his hands, as Ginny began chanting: “Harry! Harry! Harry!”
The group took up the chant and within seconds the whole hall was ringing with Harry’s name.
Flushing bright red, Harry finally raised his hands for attention. The silence descended. He began: “Look. Dobby isn’t in the castle just now. He needs some time to think. I won’t say why, it just is. In the meanwhile, I suppose I can show what it’s like against multiple opponents. Is that cool with everybody?”
Enthusiastic nods from the entire crown assured him it was indeed ‘cool with everybody’.
“OK, Mack, Tonks and Remus. Up to Ataru.”
Turning to the seated visitors, Harry said: For those of you who don’t understand our code, what just happened is this. My regular sparring partner is not available just now, so I’ve been volunteered to face the three most qualified of my students. This will be a three on one, incorporating Shii-Cho, Makashi, Soresu and Ataru, which is as high as they are qualified. I am qualified in five forms and am nearly done with the sixth.”
Harry handed this lightsaber to Mack took Tonks’ Remus gave his to Tonks and accepted Mack’s. The Aurors watched in fascination as each person there, adjusted the blade power to minimum and locked it there, then slid the by-now-traditional slip of paper over the blade. Harry explained that if the paper did not burn, the blades were relatively safe.
Done their checks and rechecks, all four took their positions.
Luna put her fingers in her mouth and let go with a shrill blast, and it was on. The Aurors from the continent were appalled at the speed and ferocity the quartet showed. The four forms merged into one, and mostly they stayed on the ground, but there were a few acrobatic leaps, twists and dives, with whirls, slashes, strikes blocks and thrusts thrown in for good measure.
The visiting law enforcement personnel discovered a new and frightening form of combat, one they could not possibly hope to defeat. The students discovered just how vicious a lightsaber battle could be and just how good Harry was, and Harry discovered that he was fighting against not three opponents, but one…with three lightsabers. Remus, Tonks and Mack worked in near-perfect accord, attained through many hours of diligent practice, and a close connection to the force. Where one would strike, another would block and the third would try to interfere with Harry’s force connection.
Needless to say, Harry lost. It wasn’t easy or fast, and their victory didn’t come cheap. It took most of the next half-hour, and Remus, Tonks and Mack all suffered nasty burns on various portions of their anatomy, but until the last, none of those burns were classified as lethal or debilitating, whereas the three simultaneous strikes to Harry’s chest were. He blocked two of them, ‘killing’ them in the process, but Tonks got through with a stab to the heart…so they won.
The applause was thunderous.
The visiting Aurors decided they never wanted to cross the Jedi.
After dinner on the seventh, Harry was going over the monthly accounting when both Winky and Dobby appeared in his office. He immediately set his parchments aside and rose from his chair.
Dobby spoke in his high-pitched voice. “Dobby has something to say, Harry Potter!”
“Please.” He gestured to the chairs in his office. Both elves, long familiar with his habits, took the seats and Dobby began.
“Yes, you has broke a promise to Dobby. But, Winky has told Dobby that it was accident. Dobby knows you has didn’t do it on purpose. Dobby knows that we is in a war, and in war, sometimes it is needful to break promises. You has tried to do you best to keep promises to all, and you has did so mostly.
You has been a grand master. You has taken on the task of ridding the world of Voldy-mort and Dumbleydore both, and Dobby is wanting to be by you side when you is doing that.”
“Are you sure?”
“Dobby is sure.” Dobby smiled and his smile became a grin. “But no more dark magicks!” He wagged a finger in censure.
“I promise, Dobby, and I’m awfully sorry it happened in the first place. Now that the nanites have been delivered, I have destroyed the rest of Dumbledore’s blood. There’s none left.”
“Then Dobby is happy.”
“Yes, Harry Potter?”
Harry picked up Dobby’s miniature lightsaber from its place on his desk, and held it out. Dobby’s grin became so big it threatened to split his face in two. He reached out and gently lifted the weapon from Harry’s hand like it was a precious child.
“Your robes are in your quarters.”
Still grinning, Dobby popped away.
“Winky?” He asked quietly. Winky turned to him and waited.
“You is quite welcome, Master Harry.” She replied, and she too, popped away.
After she’d gone, Harry grinned nearly as widely as Dobby had. Winky had called him ‘Master Harry’, not ‘Master Harry Potter’. It was a small step, but it was a step.
At eleven PM, on the evening of the eighth, Hermione staggered into their bedroom. Dobby was right beside her, making sure she didn’t bounce into any walls.
Harry greeted her with a hug and a kiss, and expertly divested her of her clothing, before depositing her into their bed.
Turning to Dobby he asked: “How’d it go?”
“Mistress Hermyninny’s stone is being cooling in the ovens. The two layer stone is stable and strong. Dobby has checked it thoroughly and they is no defects.”
“Good. What kind of stone did she make?”
“Ummm…Mistress Hermyninny has asked Dobby not to tell you. She is wanting it to be a surprise.”
“Alright. I suppose I can wait. How about Neville?”
"Neville Longbottoms is also being sleeping. His stone is being cooling as well. His lightsaber beam will be a pale blue-green that he is being calling ‘aqua’.”
“Hmmm. Interesting. The information I got from Yoda tells me that frequently students will select stones and fashion lightsaber grips that resemble their master’s. I suppose Neville is honoring me, while at the same time, stating his independence.”
“Dobby does not know.”
“It’s not important. Have either of them decided on the shape of grip they want?”
"Neville Longbottoms has. He is saying the grip he has is familiar and well designed, and he is wanting to keep it.”
“Lemmee guess. She asked you not to tell.”
Dobby nodded. Harry looked at his sleeping love, and thought he could see a smile on her lips.
Training went well on the ninth. All the students knew why Neville and Hermione were absent and the news that they had finished their focusing crystals seemed to pump new life into the rest. Each of them wanted to be in the forge room, creating their own stone.
Hermione had slept for nineteen hours, and after a huge meal, she showered, and went right back to bed, where she showed him exactly how much she’d ‘missed’ him. Their lovemaking had lasted well into the night, and unknown to them, had cost the dark lord another of his minions.
Before they slept, Harry told Hermione what had happened with Dobby. She was pleased Winky could talk some sense into Dobby, but more that Harry hadn’t lost his friend. Her words that night, would stay with Harry for the rest of his life.
“Don’t let it happen again.”
10th March 4:50 AM:
Harry woke to a persistent poking. Opening weary eyes, he met Dobby’s. “What’s up?” He croaked.
“Harry Potter, Sybill Trelawney has left her home.”
Instantly Harry was fully alert. Next to him he could tell Hermione was as well.
“Oh, crap! Where’s Bobbo?”
“Bobbo is here. He was shopping when Sybill Trelawney snuck out. He came here immediately when he found her missing. He is wanting to punish hisself, but you has forbidden it.”
“OK, Dobby. Give us a few minutes to get dressed, and ask Bobbo to come to the office…oh, and please ask Winky to bring us some tea…all five of us. I want you there.”
“Dobby will do.” With that, the Jedi-elf departed silently.
Winky had gladly surrendered the running of the castle to the more capable Flopsey until such time as she was needed back at Hogwarts. She explained carefully that Flopsey could work at the school and still be bonded to Harry. Flopsey was literally head over heels at the thought. She knew it would take time, but when Dumbledore was gone, she could return to her home.
Hermione turned to face him. With a sly grin she let the quilt fall. Harry grinned as well, and kissed her gently. “I don’t know where you learned to do that, but I wanted to say that was bloody fantastic! We have got to do that again!”
“Oh, you were no slouch yourself, Harry…and we will!” She said the last in a sultry growl.
Both scrambled out of their bed and into the shower. A quick scrub followed, and they dressed and met Dobby and Bobbo in the office. Bobbo was wringing his ears and eying the nearest sharp corner…the edge of Harry’s desk, with longing. Hermione intentionally planted her rump on said corner, just to deny the little elf his chosen target. Winky served the tea and asked if Harry needed her. He explained he wanted her to stay as she was his family and this was more than simply school business.
“Bobbo.” Harry began. “There will be no punishing yourself. There is no need. In fact, while it’s sooner than I thought, I’ve been expecting Sybill to try to escape.”
“You has?” Bobbo asked, shocked that Harry had anticipated such a move.
“Bobbo, surely you can…taste…” He looked questioningly at Dobby who nodded at the proper term. “…the compulsions, on her can’t you?”
“Yes. Bobbo can taste them. They is yucky.”
“I quite imagine they are. Well, Dumbledore placed those compulsions on her, to force her to escape. He doesn’t care if she’s seventeen hundred miles away, or seventy thousand light years. He doesn’t care if she dies in the attempt. All he cares about is how his plans will work out.”
“So what do we do, Harry?” Hermione asked.
“We find her and take her back. We warn her that if she attempts to escape again, I’ll chuck her into a tank.”
“Bobbo can find her.”
“Fine. Lead on. Dobby, will you bring us?”
“Dobby will do.”
Seconds later, they were standing in the Tunisian desert, and surrounding a fallen body. She’d tried to walk out and had done so in the daylight. A neophyte’s mistake. This time she’d been lucky.
Harry lifted her and the group vanished.
On a hill some miles distant, a lone sentry watched through binoculars. He noted his thoughts and returned to his patrol. He knew he wouldn’t bother to report this.
Sybill awoke to find Harry and Hermione sitting at the table. She winced at the sting from her burnt skin.
“That was incredibly stupid, you know.” Harry began. “As it was, by the time we found you, the Tusken Raiders had almost reached you. If they had, you’d be their plaything for a while and then they’d toss you into a sarlac pit, there’s one near here, and take bets on how long it would take you to die.”
“How did you find me?” She croaked through parched throat.
“I used the force.” Harry replied. He gestured and Bobbo stepped forward with a few potions phials and a beaker of hot tea. She could smell the whiskey in the tea.
“This is for your dehy…dehyd…losing too much water. This is for your muscle aches, and this will help with the sunburn.” He offered in his squeaky fashion. “The tea is containing some lemon and some honey and some firewhiskey to sooth your throat-pain.”
Sybill gratefully drank the potions, an eyebrow rising, at the taste. It wasn’t strawberries and crème, but it also didn’t taste like raw sewage smells. Harry chuckled.
“Snape makes his potions taste that way on purpose, and unfortunately, he makes all the potions Madam Pomfrey uses. Dumbledore insists on it.”
Sybill smiled in appreciation.
“Sybill, I’m going to warn you one last time. Stay here. If you try to escape again, I’m going to bring you back with us and put you into a stasis tank. So far you’ve cost us three days training. I can’t afford any more.”
As before, this new Harry Potter frightened Sybill badly.
“I’ll…I’ll stay here.”
At nine PM on the twelfth, Hermione strode into their quarters with a satisfied grin on her face. Harry recognized that grin! She’d done something wonderful and couldn’t wait to show it off.
He stood and embraced his lover. “OK, so where is it?”
A flash of annoyance. “You have no subtlety, Harry.”
“That’s not what you said when I tracing Erwhaz and Ehwaz on your…”
“That’s beside he point!” She interrupted, glowing a cherry red. Harry laughed and she swatted him. “Let’s go to the small training room. I want to try it out.”
“The training room?” Harry feigned misunderstanding. “What a great idea! I don’t think we’ve christened that room! You didn’t used to be so kinky!”
“The lightsaber, Harry, the lightsaber! Get your mind on business and out of the gutter!”
Harry threw back his head and laughed out loud. Wrapping an arm around Hermione’s shoulders, he led he to the training room normally used by Ron and Luna.
When they got there, they discovered it was being used, by the aforementioned two, but not in the manner it was officially intended. Easing themselves back and softly shutting the door, Harry cast a sealing charm, turned to his mate and said: “Let’s try somewhere else, K?”
Giggling, they trotted down the short corridor to the great hall and finding it deserted, set to. Hermione unhooked her lightsaber and handed it to Harry for inspection. He was pleased. Her grip was clearly designed on his, but it incorporated improvements and a functional elegance his lacked. Simply put, it was the same, but prettier.
“Did Dobby help you put it together?”
“Well, he stood there and watched.”
“Good enough.” He handed it back. “Light it up!”
With a bright smile, Hermione thumbed her new lightsaber to life. With its usual snap-hiss, the bright sapphire blade sprang to existence.
“Outstanding!” He smiled his approval, then held out his hand. She shut down the weapon, and handed it over. He accepted the weapon and held out his in turn. Surprised, she accepted it. When he activated the blade and began to make minute adjustments, she understood. He wasn’t just inspecting the weapon, he was going to test it!
They performed the by-now-routine safety checks, exchanged weapons once again and when done, stepped back to face each other.
From above, Mackenzie, Judith, Remus and Tonks watched as Harry and Hermione battled.
At dinner, on the fifteenth, Dobby led Bobbo into the dining hall. Harry took one look and groaned. “Lemmee guess…”
“Harry Potter, Sybill Trelawney has escaped again.” Bobbo announced fearfully.
“Shit!” He snarled. Hermione gave him a discouraging glare for his language, but Harry ignored it and rose from the table. “This is getting out of hand. Dobby, I’m going to need transport. We’re bringing her back.”
“I’m coming with you!” Hermione announced.
“Me too!” chimed Mackenzie, Remus and Neville.
“Me three!” Came from Tonks and Luna. Hermione snickered.
“Dobby, can you handle us all?”
“Dobby can, but…”
“Bobbo can help!” The second elf piped up.
“OK. We’ll leave from my office.”
This time, they found Sybill in more trouble than before. She stood, swaying from exhaustion, in a small depression in the hard packed sand and scrabble. Along one side, amidst the broken sandstone, were a dozen men and a few older boys, with clearly uncivil thoughts running through their heads. Behind them were some women and girls and a few younger boys, and beyond them, some horses, a few camels and goats, three tents and a pair of motor homes. They were more than shocked to see nine people appear out of thin air. Weapons came up, and lightsaber blades flashed to life. Tapping into the force to help him speak, he said in Arabic: “This woman is under the protection of the Jedi Council. Leave now!”
“Who do you think you are, outlander?” A big, burly man with a huge black beard demanded. “We found her; we will take her. She’ll make us many deniers in the slave market!” He lifted his hand.
Harry didn’t even have to give the order. Suddenly the guns tore themselves from their holder’s hands and flew toward the small group. At Harry’s order, the Jedi shut down their blades and belted the weapons. Sybill fainted.
“You were saying?”
“All of us!”
“I will send you back to hell!” The burly man stomped forward.
“Are you so certain you want to die?”
“I will not die!” He whipped out a throwing knife and let fly. As soon as he had, he charged forward with a wicked looking dirk in his fist.
Harry’s had flashed out and caught the blade. The force warned him of the attack, but the man was too close to evade. Instead, his lightsaber came to his hand, as if summoned, and the emerald beam speared through the huge man’s chest. Gasping in agony he fell to the sand. Sighing in regret, Harry again shut down his blade.
He knelt beside the dying man, took the dirk from his hand and asked” What is your name?”
“Rafik…” He gasped. “Rafik al-Rashaad.”
“Die in peace, Rafik al-Rashaad.”
Silence reigned, as the bearded man died.
Harry stood and addressed the men and women standing before him.
“I’m sorry that had to happen.” He leaned into the force, and spoke his orders. “Bury him here, go home and rethink your lives.”
With that, he picked up the dirk and throwing knives. “Are there any here who would claim these?”
When no answer came, he shrank them and tucked them into his belt pouch. Mack crouched down, picked Sybill up, and held her like a child.
With a nod to Dobby each of the elves grabbed the hands of four others and together they vanished into the evening’s fade.
The people who remained pulled shovels from their packs and buried their erstwhile leader under the hard packed earth and covering the pit with large pieces of sandstone so the scavengers couldn’t dig him up.
Harry gently probed the unconscious woman’s memories. The recent scare was at the forefront, so he carefully adjusted her memories to show Sand People with blaster rifles and Gaffi sticks, instead of human beings and muggle weapons.
Sybill Trelawney woke with a splitting headache. To her dismay, Harry Potter was standing there watching her. He wasn’t alone. There were seven other brown-robed people with him including a house elf! The other house elf, the one Harry had left with her was serving tea with a sad look on his face. She took a beaker with trembling hands and sipped the soothing liquid.
“Sybill, I’ve decided to put you into stasis.” Harry began.
“It’ll be like going to sleep for the next few months, but without the problems associated with the Draught of Living Death.”
“You’re a security risk. You’ve attempted to escape twice in the last two weeks. Despite our being seventy thousand light years…” Harry broke off at Sybill’s confusion. “A light year is just under six trillion miles…” again she failed to comprehend the immense distances, so he added: “A trillion is a thousand, thousand million. The nearest star to Earth, Alpha Centauri, is four point three light years away. We’re sixteen thousand times as far.” Suddenly her eyes opened wide in clarity. “I see you understand. Still, you keep trying to escape. The compulsions Dumbledore placed on you ensure that…even here. I cannot have him learning about my plans, even by lucky accident. More importantly, I don’t want to see you dead of dehydration or animal attack…I wasn’t lying when I said Tatooine has some very dangerous indigenous life-forms…or like today, a victim of the Tusken Raiders. When this is all over, I’ll return you to the castle and you can begin teaching again, but until then, you’re going to sleep.”
“NO!” Sybill threw her beaker of tea, with all her might. Harry felt it coming, whirled under the projectile, and touched the side of her had, while leaning into the force. “Sleep!” he commanded.
They returned to the castle where Harry handed Sybill over to Merrifield for a final check over.
When he asked why, Harry said: “I can’t allow her to run free anymore. She might find a way back to Dumbledore and he’s far too dangerous. She’s going into the tank until this is over.”
Returning to his office he made a quick floo-call to Madam Bones and Harry briefed her on Sybill’s status, the actions he took…and why.
“Beware the ides of March, great Caesar!” Voldemort muttered to himself. Then his eyes grew bright. A baleful red, yes, but bright nevertheless. “For there are those in Rome who love thee not, great Caesar, and not all such stood or fell with Pompey.”
Voldemort seemed inordinately pleased with himself, chuckling: “Yes, indeed. Beware the ides of March, Great Dumbledore, for Rome yet has those hidden who, like vipers, would strike at thee. Beware the ides of March, indeed.”
He clapped his hands thrice. The large oaken doors opened and his chosen began to enter.
“Severus, attend me!”
Snape knelt before his master and bowed his head. “What is thy bidding, my master.”
“You told me you had the names of more than a hundred proper-minded witches and wizards?”
“I do, my master.”
“Contact them all. Bring them to me that I may…induct them into my ranks.”
“As you wish, master.”
Albie got around the monitoring charms, by not actually saying: “Crucio.” "yn llethu artaith!”is Welsh for ‘overwhelming agony’ (Free Online English to Latin Translator) Effectively the Cruciatus, but with a different name. Albus Dumbledore is, after all, a politician first and foremost…the lowest, most unscrupulous form of criminal life on Earth.
The names of the foreign Aurors are taken from the most common first and surnames in French, Italian and Spanish (and Portuguese, I think).
“Beware the ides of March, great Caesar!” is carefully misquoted from Julius Caesar, act 1, scene 2. By William Shakespeare.
“What is thy bidding, my master?” I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Please don’t kill me! It was too good, a line to pass up! I just had to use it!