Rated for language. OC death. April fools day. Dumbledore goes on a wild goose chase, the goblins get a demonstration, Harry gets some new elves, Dung gets caught, Peeves gets a care package, Alb...
“Dobby, I think it’s time we stepped up our prank war on Dumbledore. I’d like to speak directly to Peeves, so we’re going to have to arrange a diversion to get Ol’ Mister Twinkles out of the castle for a while.”
“Dobby is thinking Harry Potter could go to Diagon Alley and do some shopping.
“Good idea. When he hears of it, he’s gonna want to rush out and capture me. As soon as we’re sure he’s left the castle, we can pop in there and have a little chat with Peeves.”
Hermione piped up from the doorway: “I’m going with you!” Harry looked up to find his lover grinning at him. He hadn’t realized the door was open. ~Damn!~ Moody would have killed him!
“Erm…I’m not sure that’s a good idea, love. I’m going to be plotting dissent and fostering mayhem, you know!” He grinned.
“Are you trying to keep me here in the home…” Hermione snarked. “Maybe barefoot and pregnant?”
“Well the preggers part would be nice, and maybe the barefoot part on occasion, but other than that…”
“Shut up, Harry!” She mock-growled. Harry feigned a hurt expression. Hermione giggled and planted a kiss on his nose, before turning to leave.
“I’m going to see if anybody needs something we don’t supply!” She darted out of the office and down the hallway.
Snickering, Harry and Dobby planned the rest of their outing. Harry called for Winky who, when she heard the plan, offered to go to Hogwarts and keep an eye on Dumbledore.
“Erm…Winky?” Harry offered. She turned her huge eyes to him.
“Try to find a way to make it difficult for him to leave the castle, OK?” Winky nodded rapidly and popped away.
Fifteen minutes later, Hermione returned with a short list of wanted items.
“OK!” She chirped. “Let’s go!”
The plan went better than Harry had hoped. Dobby took them to Diagon Alley where they wandered from shop to shop, picking up the items requested…mostly candies and common necessities, though Luna did ask for a selection from ‘Mistress Leather’s Erotic Apparel’. She seemed to have forgotten that, that was a mundane business…on the other side of London!
Their first stop was the bank where they met briefly with Graswold to update the goblin leader on the progress they’d made. He was especially impressed when Harry and Hermione offered to give him a demonstration of the weapons they carried, and their capabilities.
Graswold accepted immediately, ushering them into a long labyrinthine hallway under the bank. There, in a large amphitheatre, they checked their weapons and faced each other. The goblins, smelling entertainment, began to filter in, eager to watch…and perhaps wager.
Graswold dropped his hand, and it was on. Those goblins privileged to witness the combat all gaped in astonishment at the sheer beauty. The whirling striking blades of light slashed and swept as both Harry and Hermione dodged, jumped flipped and dived under their opponent’s blades. Bets were called out and answered, gold passed from hand to hand a the goblins were visited with a treat they’d not had since HaihRiegh had faced the disgraced one.
Harry won. His greater training ensured that, and as HaihRiegh, the goblin’s code of honor would allow him to do no less.
Hermione wasn’t particularly happy, though she would never ask him to throw the match for her. Her drive to be the best, never faltered…especially not in the arena. She immediately asked him to demonstrate the blow to disarm her, so she could emulate it. It wasn’t anything she hadn’t learned, simply something she’d not thought to incorporate into her defense.
The goblins were ecstatic…until they learned that none of those present had the requisite ability to touch the force. Harry explained that some peoples had a greater affinity to the force than others. Many magical humans seemed to be able to call upon the force, but though fewer in number, house elves had a deeper connection. He heartened them by suggesting they test all the goblins when the war was done to see to any of them had the ability. Graswold agreed, leaving several of the younger mups dreaming vivid dreams of lightsaber combat.
Graswold led Harry and Hermione back to the lobby where, Harry withdrew some gold from his vault, before bidding them all a profitable day. Hermione made points by addressing them respectfully in their own language.
Leaving the bank, Harry saw Mundungus stumbled to a halt and gape at him, and knew he’d be reported any time. “Hermione!” He hissed.
“I see him.” She replied, equally softly.
“Good. Let’s go look at some books, OK?”
Sure enough, as soon as Harry and his friends entered the bookstore, Dung rushed to The Leaky Cauldron to contact Dumbledore.
Winky and Fern had popped into the castle, and watched the headmaster carefully to see that when he departed, he stayed gone. Libby, the elf who’d replaced Flopsey, wasn’t too happy at Dumbledore’s temper tantrums of late. Several of the elves had been forced to punish themselves severely, and those elves had been worse off for it. Two might not recover at all. When Winky and Fern arrived and explained what they needed to do, she was more than happy to cooperate. She also asked Winky to take the injured elves to Harry for healing, and hopefully as Lord Gryffindor, he could override their bond to the castle.
Visiting every hearth in the castle, they poured the contents of the floo powder urns into a bag and departed, this time leaving only a small trace behind.
Fawkes took this as his cue to depart the castle for Luna’s baby sling. It was much nicer there!
Albus scowled as his familiar vanished in a fireball, knowing he would not come when called and knowing it could only mean more trouble for him. He swore, thinking: ~Damn that blasted chicken!~
When Dumbledore called for the missing floo powder, Libby was able to provide only a pinch…collected from all the urns in the castle…and that was after a ten minute delay.
He angrily snatched it from the nervous elf, and managed to spill it onto the floor. Cursing savagely, he ordered the hapless servant to collect the powder.
There was just barely enough to make one trip. And then, only if it was close.
Dumbledore flung the scant pinch into the flames and shouted: “The Three Broomsticks!”
He never even considered that he might have made it sooner, had he simply flown.
Arriving in a swirl of green flame, Dumbledore flooed from Rosmerta’s pub to the leaky cauldron, and dashed into the alley without so much as a word of thanks to Tom.
There, in the cobbled street, he looked frantically around hoping to catch a glimpse of his wayward pawn. Alas, Harry was already at Hogwarts.
Seeing Dung sitting motionless by a large stack of pallets, he ambled over only to find the drunkard didn’t recognize him. Dung was mumbling: “I’m a bad boy, I am. I’m a thief. I steal things. Only bad boys steal. I’m a bad boy, I am. It ain’t good t’ steal, ‘cause people what steal, they go to prison. I’m a bad boy! I spy on folks and that’s a bad thing to do. I’m, a bad boy, I am, I smell sump’n awful! People don’t like bad boys what stink. I’m a bad boy, I am…”
No matter what he tried, Dumbledore couldn’t break the timed charm on Dung. Hermione was a true genius, and while thinking on the spur was Harry’s forte, she was no slouch in that area either. When they’d seen Dung, she’d decided to teach the smelly crook a lesson. Stunning the drunkard, she opened his robes and carefully inscribed a rune array on his chest, and another on his forehead, that made him confess his sins. They concealed the runes with some makeup in case Dumbledore tried the ending spell, left him there and sent a signal dart to Amelia’s office telling her where Mundungus Fletcher could be found…and what she’d done. The spell would remain active until the runes were removed, but until then, Fletcher would be the perfect witness for the prosecution.
It was then, Dumbledore made yet another crippling mistake. Feeling safe enough, as the crimes Dung had spilled were not associated with the Order, he left Fletcher where he was, instead of taking the thief somewhere he could be monitored and controlled, and headed back to the leaky to return to his kingdom, not knowing the Aurors were already on the way to pick up the rubbish.
When Shack brought the filthy man in, Amelia was waiting with a smile on her face that would make a shark flee in terror. There was a long list of things she’d love to ask Fletcher about, but until then, Dumbledore had stymied her.
“Hello, Peeves.” Harry greeted the poltergeist with such an evil grin, Peeves was seriously considering relocating…to Australia.
Harry’s next words halted that train of thought. “It’s April first. What does that mean?”
“April Fool!” Peeves pirouetted in glee. Here, his benefactor was honoring the day of fools! That always meant pranks and tricks.
Harry smirked and then added fuel to the nearly orgasmic fire.
“It’s time we stepped up the pranks on some of the school. You’re to focus most of your attention on Dumbledore, Snape…hell, any one wearing the Dark Mark, and of course, Filch, but don’t harm Mrs. Norris. It’s her bond to Filch that forces her to be like that. Throw some general pranks around from time to time so nobody suspects you’re targeting anyone specific…oh, and leave the ickle firsties strictly alone…” At Peeve’s forlorn look, he added: “Unless they’ve done something personally that deserves retribution. OK?”
“Oooh, absolutely your Pottership!” Peeves cackled, as he tumbled through the air, bouncing off walls and into statues and suits of armor.
“All right, Peeves, hold it down, unless you want Dumbledore, Snape, Filch or the Baron to come up here!”
Peeves came to a sudden halt. He didn’t really care about the snarley potion’s master, or the misanthropic caretaker, and while Dumbledore could make his ‘life’ a bit difficult, the Bloody Baron frightened him. He really did!
Harry had Dobby pop in with a box of pranking items that had the poltergeist drooling. Wiz-bangs, never fail firecrackers, dung bombs and disappearing-reappearing ink. Plastic vomit and fake turds that might or might not be fake. Peeves loved things that went boom, splat, squish, or smelled horrible, so Harry had the twins cater to that particular fetish.
A disgruntled Albus Dumbledore returned to the castle with a bag of floo powder. It had cost him all of the few coins he’d managed to find on the floors of the school, and now, he found the urn in his office was full. Sighing in exasperation he tossed the bag aside, and flumped into his ornate throne-like chair…only to feel something squish beneath him. He lifted his ancient arse and swept the cushion below hoping to find a mouse or somesuch. Instead he withdrew a hand coated in filth. He looked at the shit-smeared hand in shocked fascination, shocked that anybody would dare to drop a turd in his chair and fascinated at how they could have done it in the first place!
It was like someone had it in for him…but why? What could he have done to deserve such disrespectful treatment?
Harry returned to the castle to find Winky and several injured elves waiting.
“What happened?” He exclaimed in shock. One of the elves was bleeding heavily from a halfway torn off ear, two were lying unconscious on the couch, and all were covered with bruises.
Flopsey popped into the room and began to explain Dumbledore’s change of temperament. Harry instantly began to blame himself for defying the old bastard, but a sharp slap upside his head from Hermione, brought that to a screeching halt.
“Harry James Potter! You are not responsible for what that evil old man does!”
“But Hermione, if I hadn’t...”
“He’d have found another excuse, Harry! You know that!” She interrupted. “Flopsey, how many elves have been seriously injured or even killed at Hogwarts since Dumbledore took the headmaster’s position?”
“Thirty seven have died and another fourty one badly injured, Mistress Hermione.”
“Thirty seven?” She gasped. “…and fourty one hurt? My God! That’s almost two a year!”
“What can we do, Harry?” Remus asked. “They are bonded to the castle.”
“Bonded to the castle…” Harry mused.
“Harry?” Remus repeated, giving him a nudge. Like Hermione he knew how deep his programming went, and like Hermione he knew the best way to keep Harry from sinking back into his personal pit of despair, was to force him to think about something else.
Harry thought a second more and then said: “Flopsey, in January, I used my authority as Lord Gryffindor, to have Sybill removed from the castle, and when Dumbledore gave you clothes, to take you lot on here. Can I use that authority to take these elves into my house even if they haven’t been given clothes?”
“You is the heir of Gryffindor.” Flopsey replied. “Godric Gryffidor was part owner of Hoggywarts. You is cannot take them, but since you is the heir, you is can transfer elves from place to place in the castle and outside, if you is needing to.”
“That’s good enough! Tell them I’m transferring them here, where they’ll never be abused again. That goes for any Hogwarts elf who’s been hurt.”
Flopsey explained the transfer to the wounded elves and Harry gave them their first orders in their new home. “First, none of you are to respond to Dumbledore in any way, shape or form. If he calls, ignore his summons. As Lord Gryffindor, I command it! Flopsey, that order, goes for all the house elves in the castle. Please pass the word. None of them are to respond to Dumbledore’s summons, orders, or in any other manner, from here on in!”
At the elves’ shocked looks, he added: “Think of it as like I’m giving him clothes.”
Surprisingly the elves weren’t too horrified at Harry’s announcement. They had all dreaded the thought of being given clothes, but Harry had saved them from madness and death. Now they could see no one who deserved clothes more than the deceptively cruel headmaster.
Harry continued: “Second, you will treat your wounds, treat the wounds others have received and exchange those tunics with clean ones. You’ll find new uniforms waiting for you in the elves quarters. Harry picked up the bloody elf while Hermione and Remus lifted the unconscious ones, and they carried the small victims of Dumbledore’s temper to the infirmary.
Flopsey chivvied the other elves into a line and had them follow Harry and Hermione to the hospital wing.
In the dungeon, Severus Snape was just returning from breakfast. He desperately wanted to reach his goal of taking one hundred points from Gryffindor house, in his first class of the day, and was working out what strategies he’d use. It had to be legitimate or that old harpy in green would rake him over the coals for the rest of the month.
Pushing open the door to his office, he immediately felt the deluge of sewage as the bucket tipped. A cackle told him precisely who his assailant was.
He bellowed: “PEEVES!” as he raised his wand and cast Aguamenti to wash the stinking mess from his face. He knew that Peeves was part of the castle, and couldn’t be punished. Then he smiled savagely.
On the other hand, the Gryffindors could.
Fortunately for the house of the lions, he would be unable to implement his plans that day, or for the next few. He’d retired to his bath to clean himself up, and contrary to popular opinion he did wash his hair. The protective gel that made his hair appear so greasy, was of his own creation, and meant to keep stray hairs from contaminating the potions he brewed. Of course there was no need to enlighten those putrescent vermin of this vital fact…especially when he could deliberately misinterpret their looks of disgust and take points for their blatant disrespect.
On the way through the hallway, he slipped on something he couldn’t see. Fighting to regain his balance, he wrenched his left knee, and fell in agony to the hard flagstones below. Snickers from the surrounding statues ended when he blasted several of them to pieces. Satisfied at his revenge, he sent a silvery dart to the infirmary. Below his bruised hand, he could feel many dozens of tiny spheres. He tried to pick one up but it slipped from his fingers.
Poppy was preparing for her day as well. April the first was always a day of unrestrained pranking and that usually ended up in some student or other getting hurt. She wished they could just change the calendar from March the thirty first to April the second.
She was surprised to see the signal dart appear and to hear Severus’ voice groaning: “I am in the dungeon corridor near my quarters. I have a damaged anterior meniscus and torn, fibular lateral tendon. I find myself in need of your capable assistance.”
“Damn!” She swore. It was only Nine AM and the pranks had already begun. This was going to be a hellish day!
In the dungeons she found Severus seated with his back to a wall one leg stretched out and one bent slightly. “Be careful!” He warned. “There are frictionless particles of some sort on the floor. I can feel them, but I cannot grasp them. I’d suggest you slide your feet.”
“Thank you, Severus.” Poppy replied as she followed his instructions and shuffled her way to him. Kneeling she felt the particles he’d mentioned, slipping from under her knees as she did so. Wafting her wand, she discovered that not only his tibial lateral ligament had been damaged but also his transverse ligament as well. She bound his leg, transfigured two of the tapestries into warning signs at both ends of the corridor, and levitated him out of the dungeon.
“Someone will have to tell the headmaster about this. Students could be hurt!”
“Leave that to me” He growled.
Albus Dumbledore had just returned from washing the disgusting mess from his hand and was changing into the natty new fuchsia robes with the cute little comets flashing across them, when he received the silvery signal dart from Poppy. Sighing, he headed down to the infirmary, pasting his ‘concerned grandfather #4’ look onto his face, as he strode down the steps.
In the infirmary, he found his spy reclining on a bed, with Poppy tutting over his leg.
“Severus…” He feigned concern for his spy. “Whatever happened to you?”
“I slipped on something I could not see, and fell in the corridor outside my quarters. There are some frictionless and quite invisible particles on the floor there. This has to be Potter’s doing.”
“Nonsense, Severus! Harry hasn’t been in the castle since last June, and despite Minerva’s misgivings, the wards would have alerted me, had he been.”
“I don’t know how, headmaster, but I just know Potter is involved!”
Sighing at his minion’s unwavering hatred for the son of James Potter, Albus muttered: “I shall see what I can find.” And turned to leave.
Poppy called: “Be careful, Albus. I felt them too!”
Dumbledore waved a negligent hand as he left the room, and an irritated Poppy returned her attentions to her patient. Severus would require bed rest for a few days at least.
Grudgingly, Albus Dumbledore made his way down the corridor, intending to take a quick look, before heading to the kitchen for some tea…and another of those delightful lemon éclairs.
Seeing nothing with his eyes or his magical senses, he decided the corridor was safe. Taking a judicious step forward then another, and a more relaxed third. Finally, he stood, unmolested in the center of the underground corridor. Turning his head this way and that, he declared: “Hmmm. It appears the difficulty has disappeared.” He turned and stepped briskly toward the stone risers, only to feel his foot slide out from under him, frantically backpedaling he stepped onto another patch of the invisible hazard. That foot slid sideways and he fell hard, striking first his arse, and then his head on the stone floor.
Libby found him unconscious and bleeding, and so, popped away to the hospital wing, where he reported the headmaster’s condition to the matron.
“Oh, for heavens sake!” She growled to herself. “I told him to be careful, but nooooo, he’s the wonderful Albus Dumbledore who knows more about treating patients than I ever will, and never needs to be bloody careful!” Poppy grumbled as she grabbed her emergency kit and stomped out the door for the second time in fifteen minutes. Libby, followed along, terrified that she’d be blamed for the headmaster’s condition.
As Libby left the dungeon corridor, Peeves appeared and sprayed the area with a bottle of something he didn’t recognize. Dobby had told him what to do, and how to erase the evidence, so he did, and when he was done, he zipped away leaving behind a clean corridor and a battered Dumbledore.
Reaching the area, Poppy again slid one foot across the floor hoping to shove any invisible hazard aside. Once her foot was stable, she slid the other one, moving in a shuffle to the downed centenarian.
Dumbledore was quite unconscious, and the huge bump on his head signaled a concussion at the very least. Knowing she’d get no help from him…he’d try to leave the hospital wing even faster than Potter would have, she tipped a sleeping potion into his mouth.
There! Now he’d be tractable for the next day or so.
After supper, Lavender appeared in Harry’s office for her first tutorial. Harry and Hermione were waiting for her. He turned them down the corridor toward the infirmary where the Longbottoms waited.
“Lav, the first thing we have to do is train you to ignore the pain of Cruciatus. To do that, I’m going to take you into Frank’s mind and monitor you. I have to warn you…it’s gonna hurt! A lot! Hermione can use the force nearly as well as I can, and so, she’ll be going in with us. Of course, to hear her tell, it’s to make sure I keep my hands to myself!”
Harry received a swat for that.
“Oi! What have I told you about ‘boyfriend abuse’? Am I gonna have to get out the paddle again?”
Hermione blushed a deep red. Lavender snickered and stage whispered: “It’s always the bookish ones, isn’t it?”
Hermione shot her, her patented ‘Glare of death and/or painful dismemberment #3’.
They entered the Longbottom’s quarters and asked Healer Merrifield to maintain a watch.
Lavender’s training had included the basics of legilimency as healers frequently used such disciplines to ascertain the condition of unresponsive or uncooperative patents. Now her skills were put to the test, as Harry guided both her and Hermione into Frank Longbottom’s mind.
It didn’t take long before he felt her panic and he pulled them both out.
Lavender slipped from her chair, and fell to the floor, shuddering in remembered pain. Hermione wasn’t far behind.
“My God, Harry! Lavender cried out, as she tried, with shaking hands, to drink the calming draught Harry handed her. “You…you’ve…you’ve gone…through that?” Hermione, who knew Harry had, was silent, but she quaffed her own draught as quickly. Since the pain was only mental, the Cruciatus potion would be more hazard than balm.
“More than once.” He returned, as he tipped the potion into her mouth. Lavender smiled gratefully as she still had little control over her hands. Harry lifted her onto the sofa.
They rested for a while before discussing the next step.
“Given the difficulty of passing through that shield, I’ve changed my mind. Instead of every evening, we’re going to do this every second day. It’ll give you time to compose yourself, relax, and get ready for another try.”
“OK.” Lavender agreed with a shaky smile.
“Good. The day after tomorrow, we try it again. It should hurt less the next time, but it’s still gonna hurt. Do you think you can keep up?”
Lavender knew he was giving her an out, but her pride had been touched. “I’ll keep up.”
“All right. Day after tomorrow, then.”
Harry escorted her to her room and left her with orders to get a solid eight before reporting to work the next morning.
He spoke to Healers Jacoby and Merrifield next. During the conversation, he told the healers what the thereof them had done and the treatment he’d given Lavender. He also provided a memory strand for them to watch.
When the shocked healers emerged from the pensieve Harry handed them each a calming draught and went on.
“She did better then I expected, but even the memory of Cruciatus is hideously painful. She managed to get more than halfway through, before backing off. Another few acclimatization trips should see her able to ignore the pain and punch right through the shield.”
“Please be very careful with her, Lord Potter! I hate to see such a promising healer burnt out. She has the gift and it shouldn’t be wasted.”
“I understand, and I will.”
The monthly birthday party that evening, had only four participants. Fred, George, Megan Jones and Laura Madley. Since their birthdays all fell on or near the first of the month, with Megan on the third and Laura on the seventh, Harry varied his usual schedule and they celebrated on this day instead of the middle of the month.
Gifts included all sorts of pranking ideas, most of which went off as soon as the twins opened them. By the end of the evening, Fred and George looked like rainbow colored, feather covered, bug-eyed orangutans with platypus tails and really squeaky voices. Needless to say, the twins were ecstatic.
As Harry awoke on the second, Winky appeared with tea and a message from Luna. Harry unrolled the bit of paper to read: “Ronald is ready to test to Soresu.”
Harry smiled. Hermione woke, stretched and stole Harry’s tea. He showed her the parchment and she also smiled. “She’s been good for him hasn’t she?”
The run that morning seemed to go even faster. Harry had all his people running along around him, singing, as they pelted across the varied surfaces. Even though they were blindfolded, they ran with surefootedness of mountain goats. As soon as they’d finished the nature trail, he led them directly to the grinder where they ascended the obstacle course, racing through its hazards in good time and with no injuries to any of them. ~Damn!~ Harry thought. ~I’m gonna have to come up with something harder for them!~
Amelia sighed as she reread the short message. The large brown owl had arrived just as she had, and held out its leg. Amelia untied the envelope and offered the owl some water and a few owl treats. While it was drinking, she opened the message.
“Madam Amelia Bones, Minister for Magic.
Madam Bones, Please contact the palace staff
for an appointment to speak with Her Majesty.
Lord, Sir. Alfred Eddings Newman,
She’d been expecting this since the twenty-first. The Queen would not be happy. Four hundred of her subjects were dead or missing and those missing were presumed dead. But she understood the price of war. On the other hand, eighty Death Eaters would never be practicing their particular brand of terrorism, ever again.
She scribed a note to Lord, Sir. Alfred Eddings Newman, requesting an appointment at her majesty’s earliest convenience.
Done that she offered it to the regal owl, who bobbed its head at her before departing.
After breakfast, Harry inspected Mack’s and Tonks’ newly constructed lightsabers. Mack’s was in keeping with his basic soldier’s philosophy of: ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid!’ His grip was a tall child of Harry’s, except the field generating, stabilizing and degaussing coils were all encased in a ridged shield.
The grip was also three inches longer, so, as Mack said, he could use it more easily two-handed.
Harry lit the purple blade and seeing it was stable, asked Mack if he wanted to spar.
Mack immediately agreed and within minutes both were adjusting their blades to sparring power.
Once done, they set to, ‘testing their blades’. Hermione rolled her eyes at the display of testosterone, conveniently forgetting that she’d done exactly the same thing some two weeks before.
Harry’s force-advantage won the day, but Mack’s experience and his new hilt proved to be a real challenge. With the extra length, his two handed slashes were devastating!
When they finally called a halt, he congratulated Mack on the design.
Tonks’ lightsaber was more than a little erotic. Where Harry’s, Hermione’s Neville’s and Mack’s were all angular and functional, hers was a smooth blending of curves. Harry personally thought it looked like a rather long vibrator. Through his connection with Hermione, not to mention the flush on her cheeks, he could tell she was thinking much the same.
The weapon had a long, slender shaft that enlarged slightly over the diatium powercell. A rounded, screw in cap finished the end. The shaft itself, had many thousands of tiny particles bonded to the skin of the weapon, providing a perfect gripping surface. Harry nodded in appreciation at this. The sandy texture wouldn’t wear away and seemed less affected by sweaty hands, than his own design. He gave her another nod. As seemed to be a new standard, the forward field coils were well protected by a shield, this one, a smooth bulge, which blended into the grip. The forward edge was a bit unusual though; in that it curved over the emitter itself, while leaving the bottoms of the coils open to the air. Still, all the parts were accounted for and the weapon was not only usable, but also…feminine.
Harry turned the emitter away and pressed the switch, and a bright pink blade erupted from the grip, making him snicker. A few swings told Harry it was well balanced and he already knew the stone was properly made.
“Want to test the blade?”
Just as he had that morning, Harry led the way to the small training room, and like he and Mack had, he and Tonks were soon trying to kill each other…figuratively, of course.
Hermione watched with a grin as her lover was locked in combat with the pink-haired Auror. Tonks had studied and advanced in each of the forms and like herself, was almost ready to test out of Ataru and into Shien, but Tonks had developed an affinity to Makashi. She loved the elegance and style, and seemed to want to use it all the time. This proved to be her downfall. Harry shifted forms and with a strong Soresu strike knocked the lightsaber from her hand.
“Oi!’ She cried out. “That’s brand new!” She called the weapon back to her, but Harry’s ironic glare told her she’d been careless.
“You must remember to not rely on one form too much, as it can be used to defeat you.” He intoned, sounding like a younger version of Obi Wan Kenobi. Hermione broke the tableau by giggling: “Shut up, Harry!”
Tonks and Harry broke into smiles at the same time. He chuckled: “I mean it, Tonks. Don’t get too caught up in one style. Great job, though!”
After Lunch, Harry called out: “Ron?”
The youngest Weasley son looked up at his friend.
Harry sat beside him and began.
“Luna tells me you’re ready to test to Soresu. Do you agree?”
With a face splitting grin, Ron nodded his head as rapidly as Dobby.
“OK, let’s go then.” Harry stood and headed to the small room where Ron and Luna had spent so much time.
There, Harry had Ron perform the usual safety checks. This time Ron did catch the misadjusted power setting, readjusted it to training mode, and locked it in place. Harry smiled in satisfaction.
They swapped weapons and rechecked them.
“All right, take your guard.” Harry began to circle his friend while he counted. With each number called, Ron performed a swish, flick, thrust or block, until they were all done.
“Left hand.” Harry ordered. Ron was right handed, but the extensive training with Luna, who was a lefty, had taught him a great deal. He moved and thrust, swept and blocked as Harry called out the steps again.
Done that, Harry took his position before his best friend and they began.
From above, Harry’s lieutenants watched the combat.
Mack was intrigued. It appeared to him that Harry was testing his redheaded friend harder than he’d tested Hermione…or himself for that matter.
Hermione answered the unspoken question. “He has to, Daddy.” She whispered. “He’s absolutely certain we’re ready, but Ron was so far behind, he has to know he’s caught up. He’d be crushed if his very first friend died, and he knew he could have trained him better.”
Mack nodded. He understood, but really, he was worried. He hoped Harry would find a reason not to bring Ron along on the mission. The redhead had advanced tremendously, but he was still reckless…prone to taking chances, and that was dangerous.
A grueling fourty minutes later, Harry touched his wand to the tabs on Ron’s shoulders, turning them to bright green and advancing his friend to Soresu.
Ron’s grin could have lighted the castle, and Harry knew his friends would be…celebrating that evening.
Sarah and Kyle were playing with the rest of the children in the pool, when Harry appeared. Hermione dashed by him, wearing a silvery one-piece, and shouted: “Cannonball!” before leaping into the air.
The splash she created was impressive and both Jedi kids rode the wave to the edge of the pool.
Laughing, Harry dove into the water, leaving barely a ripple in passing. When he surfaced, both kids were there to splash him with water.
“Ooh! Wanna play rough, do ya?” He leaned into the force and levitated head-sized balls of water over the two kids. Giggling, the never noticed their doom, descending.
“Look up!” Harry ordered. Both four-year olds followed his orders and he let the water fall. Shrieks of outrage followed by riotous laughter.
“Haayyy!” They chimed as well as the Weasley twins ever had. “No fair!”
Hermione swam over and shouted: “He deserves to be punished!” and began to splash water over Harry’s head. The excited children followed suit and some of the other kids joined in. Soon Harry was overwhelmed with water and giggles.
After twenty minutes of swimming, Harry introduced the kids to that day’s instruction. He had first Kyle and then Sarah lift the other as high into the air as they could.
Rachael watched nervously as her daughter lifted Kyle nearly two feet into the air, before dropping him. Kyle returned the favor, and they each tried again.
Hermione stood next to the worried mother and spoke softly.
“Harry would never allow the children to be hurt. That’s why he asked for you to meet us here. This way, if one does drop the other, they hit the water and not something less forgiving.”
An hour later, they ushered the tired children to their homes where Harry took Rachael and Doreen aside.
“For this week’s training, I want the kids to keep practicing their force exercises. I understand they’re having some difficulty in tying knots in the rope. Help them. Show them and above all, encourage them! They’re gonna get frustrated, but this is an excellent way to develop the control they’re going to need in the future.”
Doreen chose this moment to interject: “Since neither Anson nor I can touch the force, is there any way can help them develop this control?”
“Absolutely! I hope you lot will never feel left out of your kids training. They are your kids, after all. The old Jedi way was to sequester the children almost from birth. I disagree intensely with that idea, because while it helps them to focus on the force, it severely retards their social development. Surely we can come to a happy medium between family and the force. After all, artists and musicians aren’t isolated from their families…except maybe in Russia.” Harry smirked and earned a swat from Hermione.
“I’d hope you’re as involved in your kids’ lives as possible. That ensures happy, stable, well-adjusted citizens in the future. Their Jedi training will only build on that. Remember, they have years before they even begin to use a lightsaber.”
Relieved smiles all around told Harry he’d hit the right note. Sarah and Kyle had sprawled in a cuddle for a nap and the adults shared some tea, and idle conversation.
As they left, Harry added: “If you have any questions I can address, please feel free to let me know. I might not have the answers, but I can try to find them.”
At supper that night, the students saw the new weapons, and while most of the girls liked Tonks’ lightsaber for its elegant lines, the guys all agreed with Fred and George when they chimed: “Cor blimey, Tonks!”
“That looks more…”
“…like a dildo…”
“…than a weapon!”
Laughter sounded throughout the room.
Tonks just grinned.
At breakfast on the third, Harry announced Remus and Luna as the next two to forge their focusing crystals. As before, the ovation was deafening. Luna blushed a fetching shade of pink and kissed Ron before dancing off behind Jewell. Having bussed Tonks as well, Remus departed moments later, accompanied by Blicky.
Early that afternoon, an elf Harry wasn’t immediately familiar with appeared. She was wearing a white tunic and shorts.
“Good afternoon, Master Harry Potter Sir. Tessie is being asked to bring a message from Healer Merrifield. He is asking Harry Potter to come to the infirmary as soon as possible.”
“All right.” Harry replied, wondering why the healer would require his presence.
Tessie vanished, and Harry stood and walked out the door.
Harry entered the infirmary to find a solemn group waiting.
“What’s going on?” He asked.
“Lord Potter…” Merrifield seemed unsure.
Lavender took over. “Harry. The two house elves you brought in, the ones who were unconscious. Well, one of them is doing OK. He’ll take some time to recover, but he will recover.”
“The other one?” Harry asked, fearing what he was about to hear.
“She died, Harry. Just a few minutes ago. We did everything we could, but her injuries were just too much. I’m sorry.” Tears flowed down Lavender’s face.
Harry felt the tears well up in his own eyes, as he gathered her into a hug. With a dry throat, he croaked: “Yeah. So am I.” Releasing the young healer, he stepped toward the privacy screens. Inside was the bandage swathed form of a house elf Harry had never known.
He wept for the little person, and for all those Dumbledore had killed.
Stokes.” He spoke softly but it was enough. Stokes appeared immediately.
“Stokes, I want a gravestone for…?” He looked around for a name.
Winky appeared and said: “Bitty was her name.”
“Thank you, Winky. Stokes, a gravestone for Bitty, please.”
He told Stokes what to engrave on the rock, and Stokes bowed deeply to Harry before popping away.
“Winky did any of the house elves here know her?”
“Not here, Master Harry. But at Hoggywarts. Florrie birthed her.”
“Florrie was her mother?”
“Yes, Master Harry. Shall I get Florrie for you.”
Winky vanished and seconds are returned with Florrie in tow.
She didn’t need Harry to tell her. Florrie immediately wailed in her anguish and threw herself on her child’s body.
“Clear the room!” Harry ordered. Within seconds, the infirmary was empty but for Harry and the wailing Florrie.
Harry knelt by the distraught elf and wrapped his arms gently around her. Florrie collapsed into his arms, her nearly ultrasonic keening almost deafening him.
He held her for hours as she grieved.
When at last, she began to calm down, he asked her: “Florrie, Bitty is as much a part of my family as anyone here, and she’ll be remembered. She’ll be buried here on the estate, in a place of honor. Can you think of a place here that she would have liked?”
New wails of anguish erupted, but they were dampened by the respect Florrie felt for and from the wizard who held her.
When Florrie had answered Harry’s question, he nodded and then left the grieving elf with the body of her child.
In the kitchens, he announced: “There will be no supper tonight. One of ours is dead and she will be remembered properly.”
An unsure Flopsey asked: “But what about you students, Master Harry Potter Sir?”
“A night of fasting won’t hurt us.”
He called the elves to him and announced his plans. They all positively glowed in appreciation.
In his office, he contacted Amelia and asked her to gather ‘the ladies’ and attend a funeral for Bitty. Amelia promised they’d be there.
Returning to the infirmary, he spoke to Lavender and postponed their second journey into Frank’s mind until the next day.
That evening, in the dining hall, Harry stood drawing everyone’s attention.
“I’d like your attention, please.”
When all eyes were on him, he began.
“Because of the actions of a disturbed old man, one of our own is dead. Bitty, child of Florrie, was killed by Albus Dumbledore. He made her punish herself, over something trivial, until she was unable to stand. She suffered a massive concussion and died this afternoon of her injuries. She was the elf equivalent of seven years old.
Instead of having supper, we’re going to bury her on that little hill overlooking the lake. If you wish, you are free to join us. Your weapons will remain here.”
He unhooked his lightsaber and placed it on the table by his plate.
As one the students abandoned their seats, placed their lightsabers on the tables, and joined Harry out on the darkening grounds.
Amelia, Carolyn, Andromeda, and Augusta followed quietly behind.
The gravesite was on a little hill overlooking the lake, crowned and shrouded by a single Juniper.
Harry led the group to the site, where the entire complement of house-elves waited. Floating balls of light illuminated the area.
Instead of using his wand, Harry picked up a shovel and began to dig.
Hermione and Dobby joined him and then Remus, followed by Tonks, Mack, Neville, Susan, Hannah, Luna and Ron. Each took turns, digging. After that, the twins stepped forward and relieved Harry and Hermione. One by one, each of the students and staff took their turns, plunging the blades into the still-frozen ground, until a hole deep enough had been exhumed. Even ‘the Ladies’ took their turns.
The students all formed a semicircle two deep around the open grave.
Harry knelt on one side of the hole, with Hermione opposite him. Without being asked, the entire group of Jedi followed suit, as Dobby and Winky spoke in a language none of them had ever heard.
The elves immediately formed into two lines leading to the castle. Along and between the lines, a small casket floated, buoyed by each of the elves’ magic, until it reached the grave. As each elf passed the little casket along, he or she followed behind, until they were all gathered on the little hill. Again, Dobby and Winky began to speak. The other elves replied in what Harry could only think of as a chant.
For nearly an hour, the chant/refrain sounded in the dark grounds until Dobby raised his hands. All the elves followed suit, and a visible spark flew from each of them, to a collection point above the coffin. The mass of magicks descended into the little box making it glow.
Dobby and Winky lowered the casket into the ground, chanting something none of the humans could understand; yet each of them knew precisely what was said.
The elves filed by, grabbing a handful of the exhumed earth, and dropping it on to the coffin. As they finished, the students did the same. Harry and Hermione finished the job, tamping the earth over the grave and levitating Stokes’ newly carved slab to its place of prominence. The stone simply read:
5th November 1989 – 3rd April 1997
KILLED BY A MADMAN
Harry spoke to the people gathered there.
“This is what happens when people let others think for them. This is what we’ve worked so long and so hard to prevent. When this is done, and with the able help of our friends in the Ministry, and on the Wizengamot, this will never happen again.”
The solemn group returned to the castle, collected their weapons and retired.
Amelia thought it was the most touching thing she’d ever seen.
Breakfast on the fourth was a quiet affair, with each of the students thinking of the funeral the night before. The students seemed more focused that morning, both before and after their meal. If ever they had doubted Harry’s word, Bitty’s death had showed them in no uncertain terms how dangerous Dumbledore had become.
As a result, Harry decided it was time to set the rest of his plan into motion. He called Dobby and explained what he wanted. Dobby of course, was eager to please, and sought out the others with the capabilities Harry was looking for.
The students were practicing their katas when Dobby returned with the news. All the elves had volunteered! Harry sighed. This was going to take some doing!
Amelia took the scroll from the Queen’s owl, and read:
“Madam Amelia Bones, Minister for Magic.
Your request for an audience with the Queen has been granted.
Please present yourself at Buckingham Place Apparation point
on the sixth April at nine of the clock Antemeridian.
Lord, Sir. Alfred Eddings Newman,
She nodded and the owl departed.
Harry, Hermione and Lavender entered Franklin’s mind again. This time, the Cruciatus shield seemed only slightly less intense. Ten minutes later, they withdrew and Harry passed the calming draughts around again.
Be proud of yourself, Lav. Not many people can deal with that kind of pain. You’ve done it twice in as many days.
“God, Harry!” She moaned. “I can’t see how you can do that again!”
“I’m too stubborn for my own good!” Harry grinned. Hermione laughed and mentally promised herself a long soak with him that evening.
Harry looked up at the sound. He and Dobby had interviewed the elves and decided on the ones who could best help. He had been preparing to leave the office for bed, when Sassy, the elf he’d assigned to Carolyn, appeared with a soft pop. She carried an envelope.
“Good evening, Master Harry Potter Sir!” She chirped. “Mistress Carolyn has asked Sassy to deliver this letter to you and wait for a reply.”
“Thank you, Sassy.” Harry said as he took the parchment.
Seating himself behind the desk he opened the letter and read.
Augusta has just contacted me on an urgent matter. Malfoy’s Barrister, Isaac Dewey of Dewey Cheatham and Howe, is trying to petition the council to have you declared dead. He’s stated that since you are not in Hogwarts where you ought to be, and since there are sixty other missing students, along with their families, they must have been victim of some nefarious scheme of Dumbledore’s. Although you were seen in Diagon Alley, he’s claiming those sightings were hoaxes set up by Dumbledore who killed you lot with a dark ritual, in an attempt to become immortal.
Normally I wouldn’t consider this a problem, as most of the council is on our side, but there are enough of the old-line families proselytizing the ills of Amelia’s reforms, that it could cause us problems.
You need to be seen in public!
Let me know what you want to do.
“Well, shit!” Harry swore. He stood and began to pace the office, a nervous Sassy watching.
Hermione walked through the door, and called out: “Are you coming to bed, sweetie? I’ve found something new to try on page 494 of the Kama Sutra.”
Harry smiled and kissed her gently. “I’ve turned a mild mannered bookworm into a sexual deviant!” He clenched a fist and grinned. “Go me!”
“Since when have I ever been ‘mild mannered’?” She shot back with a twinkle.
“Go on and get warmed up. I have a last minute call to make to Carolyn.”
“Ooh! Carolyn. I didn’t know you were into older women, Harry.”
“Well, you’re older!”
“By ten months. She’s like what…fifteen years or something?”
“Twenty six, but who’s counting.” Harry grinned. “Go on. I’ll be right there.”
“OK. I’ll be waiting.” She whispered the last in a husky voice guaranteed to stir the blood of any man with blood. Turning, she sashayed from the office. Harry watched her delectable arse sway until she closed the door behind her.
“Mmmmm!” He grunted.
Turning to the embarrassed elf, he smiled. “OK, Sassy, can I floo Carolyn?”
“Yes, Master Harry Potter Sir. Mistress Carolyn is waiting for you.”
“Alright then, I’ll floo over.”
Throwing a pinch of powder into the fireplace Harry called out, “Carolyn Chapman’s place!”
“Come on over, Harry!” She called out, adding the agreed upon passphrase: “Voldemort is a jackass!”
Happy to know she wasn’t being held against her will, Harry stepped into the floo and seconds later walked out the other side.
“What can we do?”
“Oh, I’m fine, thanks for asking.” Carolyn snarked.
Harry blushed. “Sorry.”
Carolyn just laughed. “Have a seat, Harry.”
She slid a file across the desk to him, and waited until he’d read the brief inside.
“OK, so he’s claiming Dumbledore had us killed, and he wants the Potter estate for his master. So what do we do? I’ve already got a will”
“True, but wills can be contested…or tied up for years. We have to secure the estate, legally, and more importantly, traditionally. That means you have to marry…magically.”
She’d expected Harry to faint. Instead he said: “OK. I’d planned on asking her after this was all over…”
“No, Harry, it has to be done before. If you die facing Voldemort, that gold goes to whoever can claim it. The Malfoys will be dead or in prison, but there are a lot of other families with the same ideals. Some of them have a legitimate claim through family, however distant. You have to entail the estate and the only way to do that is to marry, and sire an heir.”
“Oh crap. Hermione’s not gonna like that!”
“Why? I thought you two were getting along well…”
“Oh, we are, and she knows I’m planning to ask her to marry me, but I don’t think she’s quite ready to have a baby!”
“She’ll just have to make herself ready. If you’d like, I’ll have a little chat with her…”
“Oh that’ll go over well.”
“Well it has to be done.”
“Alright. But I’ll talk to her…and I’ll need an engagement ring.”
“I’ll access the Potter vaults and see if they have anything there you can use. If not, I know a designer who does excellent work, and he’s fast!”
“Good enough. I suppose I’ll have to talk to Mack tomorrow. Thanks, Carolyn. I’ll be in touch.”
Harry returned to Potter Castle where he faced an alert Dobby. The password was given and the excitable elf welcomed him home.
Hermione was already well into her ‘warm-up’ when Harry joined her in bed, and that night, they gave Voldemort such a splitting headache, that even with the firewhiskey on top of the potions Severus had given him, he passed out from the pain.
On the morning of the fifth, Harry knocked on the Granger’s door. Judith answered. “Hello, Harry! You know you’re welcome here at any time, you don’t have to knock.”
“Well, I understand from a certain bushy haired little birdie that the two of you can often be found ‘in delicto flagrante’. I didn’t want to interrupt anything…interesting.”
The flush on Judith’s cheeks told Harry he’d struck the mark.
“Well, Harry…” Mack chortled. “Now you’ve managed to thoroughly embarrass my wife, what’s up?”
With a sly look, Harry blurted: “Hermione and I have to get married!”
Eleven different emotions crossed Mackenzie’s face in a flash, before he took a step to the table. He very nearly didn’t make it, as his knees were suddenly a bit trembly. He flumped into a wooden chair, with an alarming cracking noise.
Judith, on the other hand, squee’ed long and loud.
“What do you mean you have to…?” Mack’s voice took on a dangerous edge.
“Well, you see…” Harry opted for the funny line. “When a boy and a girl love each other very much, they have certain…urges…”
With an evil glare, Mack braced his hands on the table to get up so he could wring Harry’s smart-arsed neck, and Harry decided discretion was the better part of valour.
“Hold on, Mack. Carolyn contacted me last night and told me of some skullduggery amongst the purebloods…” Mack sat again, and sipped at the tea that had somehow appeared before him. Harry silently thanked the observant elf.
He explained the situation to Mack’s relief and Judith’s disgust.
“…and basically, I have to entail the estate and the best, most secure way to do that, is marry Hermione magically, andproduceanheir.” He rushed the last words hoping he wouldn’t have to explain them.
Unfortunately the gods were laughing at him.
“Tell me you didn’t just say: ‘produce an heir’.” Mack spoke with a deadly calm.
“Well, you said…” Now Judith was laughing. That brought a glare from her husband and a grin from their guest.
Harry turned serious. “If we’re to derail the purebloods plans, I have to marry Hermione and get her pregnant…and before you ask, I’m not upset at the prospect, and I don’t think she’ll be either. I love Hermione. I think I always have. We’re already betrothed. She already knows I want to marry her, this is just…bringing things forward a few months.”
Mack stood with a grin, wrapped his arms around his wife, and said: “Harry, I may tease you about it, but you’re the best man for her. I’ve never seen Hermione so content…so happy in her life as she is with you. I know she loves you…has for almost as long, in fact. You have our blessing.”
“Thanks, Mack. You don’t know how much this means to me.”
Looking fondly into Judith’s eyes, he murmured: “Oh, I think I can imagine.”
A loving kiss between the elder Grangers, and then Judith began to ask questions.
“So, where and when? Public or private? Here in Britain, or somewhere else?
“It’ll have to be public…preferably somewhere monitored by the local press. I suppose I’ll have to invite Rita Skeeter along. I don’t want her there, but I want this in The Prophet as soon as possible, and since she works for me, it’s the best way.”
“Erm…do you mind it I invite Carolyn to join us?” Harry asked. “That way we won’t have to go over this a half a dozen times.”
“You don’t want to spend the time with us?”
“Truth be told, I’d rather spend it with Hermione.”
Judith and Mackenzie laughed as Harry called for Winky.
When the little elf arrived, Harry asked her to bring Carolyn to the castle. Winky popped away, and less than two minutes later, returned with Carolyn in tow.
“Hello all!” She chirped.
Greetings returned and the combatants seated, Winky poured them some tea, set a tray of nibbles on the table and popped away.
Carolyn began: “I take it you’re aware of the problem.”
“Yes. We’ve given our blessing, and now we have to decide on a place.”
“Ah, ah, ah! First the ring!” Judith interrupted.
Carolyn opened a large polished wooden box and pulled out five identical trays that were filled with literally hundreds of rings of one sort or another. Judith ignored them all except one. It was sitting in the second tray somewhat off center.
“That one!” She pointed it out and Harry agreed immediately, lifting the gorgeous ring.
It was a nearly three-carat oval cut diamond with a one-carat ruby on one side and an equal sized sapphire on the other.
“Carolyn, this is gorgeous!” Harry breathed. “Is it a family ring?”
“As a matter of fact, it is. This is the ring your grandfather Charlus gave to Dorea Black. It’s interesting the birthstones are the same except it was Dorea born in July and Charlus was the September baby. James gave Lily one like it, but it vanished sometime after they were murdered…along with their wedding bands. In my opinion, Dumbledore has them.”
“You’re probably right. With him, there’s no telling what he’d do.” He looked carefully at the shape of the ring and what he remembered from the betrothal band Hermione wore, and thought there might be a problem. “Erm…is there another betrothal ring I can test this one against?”
“Well…the Potters generally preferred to have only one wife at a time…” A raised eyebrow and the twitch of her lips told Harry she was joking. She produced a copy of the betrothal wring Hermione currently wore.
Harry put the two together and it seemed they going to be rather ungainly together.
“Is there any way to weld these together?” He asked. “It would pinch otherwise.”
“Actually no. When she accepts your proposal, you remove the betrothal ring and replace it with the engagement ring. When you marry, the wedding band will automatically join itself with the engagement ring.”
The ring chosen, Carolyn called for Winky and asked her to return the selection of rings to Gringotts.
Judith happily piped up. “OK, now that’s done…where?”
“It can’t be in Britain. There’s too much that can go wrong.” Harry cautioned. “I don’t want the people wherever we end up, getting killed because we’re there.”
“Well that leaves out much of Western Europe too.”
“Maybe, maybe not. How about Paris?” Judith offered. “It’s pretty far and Hermione loves it there.”
“Not far enough.” Carolyn rejected the idea. “Delacour told me Voldemort’s got some supporters there and like Harry said, we don’t want innocent’s to die. Belgium?”
“That would be the same problem. Italy?”
“Again, the same problem. It’s a lovely place, but there are supporters there…security would be murder. How about Athens?”
“Athens is nice, but still too close. Egypt?”
“No. The war there. Carolyn shot that idea down.
“Oh yeah. Well, how about the States?” Mack offered.
“There’s an idea. There are plenty of places there with the ambience we want. More than a few magical enclaves there too.”
“OK, how about New York?” Harry offered.
That one caught them all flatfooted.
“Perfect!” Judith breathed. “Somewhere we can see the skyline…Manhattan! I know! There’s a revolving restaurant there called The View. It’s on the top of a hotel on Fifth Avenue. You can see the whole city from there! Hermione would love it!”
“Then that’s where we go. Carolyn?”
“I’ll make the arrangements. When?”
“No later than the fifteenth. And I want the ceremony to take place by the middle of next month.”
“Next month!” Judith sputtered. “Harry! You want me to plan a wedding in only a month?”
“Judith, time is running out. By the end of next month, I want all my Jedi to have their own lightsabers built and three weeks after that, we’re going into combat. That can’t be changed. You can plan the muggle wedding for later, but the magical bonding has to be performed and recorded before we face Voldemort. ”
“You’re such a romantic, Harry!” Judith snarked. “It’s hard to believe you’re still single!”
Harry flushed and ducked his head at her seeming rebuke. Seeing this, she gentled her tone.
“I’m kidding, Harry.” She soothed. “We’ll be ready.”
“Thanks, Judith.” Harry shot her an appreciative smile. “Now for the press coverage. Carolyn, I want you to leak this to the American press no more than one day before we arrive and preferably the same day. And arrange for an international portkey for Rita and her photographer…Bonzo, I think it is.”
“Erm…Harry…” Judith interjected. “Bonzo is a trained chimpanzee.”
“And…?” He lifted a sardonic eyebrow.
“Erm…just saying.” She flushed when she realized Harry considered Rita’s photographer to be a trained chimp as well.
“Why a portkey, Harry.” Carolyn asked. “Dobby can bring her.”
“Two reasons, first; She’ll have to be there, for The Prophet, and as soon as they run the story, not only that I’m still alive but engaged as well, the purebloods are going to have to regroup. It won’t give us a lot of time, but it will give us some. And second; She’s still a security risk. I want her confused and disoriented from the portkey, so she doesn’t realize we’re there until she sees us, and more importantly, she won’t know how we got there ahead of her. ‘The Dobby Express’ is still top hush.”
Carolyn nodded in appreciation. Harry knew his security, all right. Moody would be proud.
Plans continued for an hour before each of them was satisfied. Harry bade them all good night, and escorted Carolyn to the floo.
She kissed his cheek and said: “Congratulations, Harry. She’s perfect for you. I’ve thought so since we first met.”
“Thanks, Carolyn. She is great, isn’t she?”
At nine AM on the sixth, Amelia surrendered her wand and walked with the security team to the Queen’s audience chamber. There, she stood until the Queen entered and bowed politely.
“Hello, Minister. Please, have a seat. Colonel Bowman, would you clear the room, please?”
“As y’ wish, Ma’am!’
The guards left and Queen Elizabeth figuratively took off her crown.
“Four hundred dead. That’s a lot of innocent people. Their families are going to want answers.”
“Then give them the answers they want. As Lord Gryffindor said in November, tell them that terrorists killed their families and friends. They don’t have to know which terrorists. Tell them that, and tell them that eighty of those monsters were captured or killed in the doing. Tell them that those eighty terrorists would never kill again. It’s not fair by any means, but it’s all we have.”
“And Lord Gryffidor?”
“He’s working his…” Amelia stumbled to a halt. The language she was about to use, was hardly the language to use around the queen. She regrouped and started again. “He’s working his people to their limits and beyond. My senior Aurors have seen his training programme and doubt they could compete.”
“I have a report from the Special Forces types Lord Gryffindor invited to observe their training several months ago, and they agree.”
“They’ve only gotten better since then. Harry has also donated several dozen of his specialized training aids to my Aurors, and they’re all hating their lives. Alastor Moody, my most senior Auror and training supervisor is crowing: “Constant Vigilance!” wherever he goes. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy.”
Smiling thinly at the description, the Queen suddenly changed her topic.
“Tell me, Amelia. Is Lord Gryffindor a danger to the crown?”
“Absolutely not!” Amelia was shocked at the question. “Setting side the oath he swore to you, Harry is the staunchest man I’ve ever known. He will literally die before allowing this monster to win. He’s that dedicated.”
“Thank you. It brings my heart joy, to know the realm is so well protected. I will issue a press release to the effect that eighty of the terrorists who caused such devastation have been captured or killed. That should bring some closure.”
“It won’t be too much longer, ma’am.”
“June the twenty second.”
“June the twenty second.”
On the eighth, Remus stumbled into Harry’s office. “Done. Tired” was all he said. He flopped onto the couch and was snoring before his head hit the arm. A weary Blicky announced that Remus’ stone was one he’d never seen before, but seemed to be like ice and silver at the same time. Harry dismissed him with orders to sleep himself out.
Luna stumbled in a few minutes later, guarded and carefully herded by an equally tired Jewell. Luna wrapped her arms around Ron’s neck, and murmured: “Take me home, lover!” before leaning her head against Ron’s chest and falling asleep. Smiling, Ron lifted the odd blond in his arms and carried her from the room.
When asked, Jewell said Luna’s stone was a type of ‘really pretty’ quartz, but one she was unfamiliar with. Harry knew he’d have to determine the qualities of both these stones. “Jewell, you’ve done very well. Now, please go to your bed and sleep until you aren’t tired any more…and I mean at least one full day. Understand?”
“Jewell understands, Master Harry Potter.” The elf wobbled from the room.
“Winky!? Harry called softly. Winky appeared immediately.
“Winky, I’ve just sent Jewell off to bed. Would you make sure she gets there? That goes for Blicky as well.”
“Certainly, Master Harry!” Winky grinned and popped away.
The next morning, Harry was surprised to see Remus and Luna waiting with the rest of the students on the lawn.
“You two OK?” He asked. Both nodded and resumed their stretching. With a grin, Harry joined them and led the group on a fast paced blindfolded nature trail run.
After breakfast that morning’s lightsaber practice would be a final review of Soresu. The students were all excited for the testing they knew was sure to come.
On the tenth of April, Harry addressed his troops.
“It’s time to test out of…” That was as far as he got before the thunderous cheering exploded from his students.
When the ovation died out, he smiled. “Yes, I’m happy to say that you lot are ready to advance to Ataru…the first of the aerial forms and one of the most difficult forms you’ll ever learn.
Now, we have eight people who are qualified to test you lot. Myself, Dobby, Hermione, Mack, Remus, Tonks, Neville and Luna. Each of us will take a spot, and just so you all don’t think I’m taking the easy spot, I’m going to be on the front Lawn. The others have drawn lots and here’s how it stands. Dobby…the small room on the right side, Mack…here, Tonks…the small room to the left side. Remus…the back lawn, Hermione…the Gym, Neville…the pool and Luna…Sorry Luna, the owlery is too small. It’ll have to be the courtyard.” People chuckled at Luna’s odd choice, but nobody dared to underestimate her skills.
Luna just smiled.
“All right, now. Susan, Anthony, Dennis, Orla, Ginny, Gred, Anika and Derek. You’re up first.
Susan will go with Tonks. Anthony…Mack. Dennis…Hermione. Orla…Dobby. Ginny…Neville. Gred…me. Anika…Luna. Derek…Remus.”
This session of testing was the most involved Harry had seen. He’d given his lieutenants orders to test all the student’s acumen, rather than just Soresu. As a result, testing took longer than ever, and by the time they were done, they were all ready for supper and bed.
Needless to say, the dining hall was filled with excited chatter. They’d all, save Ron, attained the necessary level to begin building their lightsabers.
Even Ron was excited. He was only a month behind the others and with Luna’s coaching, he’d be ready well in time to join the mission.
A beaming Tonks led Remus into the office, her own rather phallic lightsaber hanging at her belt. Harry instantly knew it had something to do with his lightsaber. He wore the same smug grin Hermione had, and Tonks’ wasn’t far behind.
Standing, he held out his hand.
Remus dropped his weapon into the opened palm.
Remus’ lightsaber was clearly descended from Harry’s, but like Hermione’s and Mack’s, it was an improvement on the basic design. Like Mack’s, the focusing coils were encased in a ribbed shield and the emitter was flush with the front of that shield. The counter rotating field generators were also within the shield…something Harry had considered but discarded when he’d built his, as being too involved.
The biggest improvement however, was the grip. Like Mack’s it was longer, but Remus had managed it without making the whole thing longer. Instead, Remus’ grip was overlain with an ‘X’ shape crisscross of heavier ridges, that went clear to the end of the thing…even over the powercell shield. From the feel, Harry could see how it would form a more secure grip.
“Well done, Remus! Well done!” He raised an eyebrow for permission, and when Remus nodded, he thumbed the switch. Like his own, it was a pushbutton, but set lower into the haft and with a raised guard around it. No chance of it being accidentally activated…or shut off.
The beam flared to life with the normal snap-hiss that indicated a functional weapon. Its blade was a coruscating silvery white. Harry was surprised at this. Remus noticed.
“It’s a lesson, Harry…about my personal boggart. I think it’s going to come in handy in the near future.”
“It might at that.” Harry agreed. “What stone?”
“A highly compacted and crystalline-aligned moonstone. Encased in the diamond shell, of course.
“Outstanding!” He shut the weapon down and handed it back. “Outfuckinstanding!”
They retired to the small room and swapped weapons for the obligatory safety checks, before swapping again and rechecking. Then they hurled themselves at each other, each seeking dominance. Remus’ modification gave him an advantage and he used it, but Harry’s deeper connection with the force balanced the books.
Blade met blade with a sizzling crash, and both slashed, evaded, struck, blocked and struck again until Harry was fully convinced of the weapon’s capability.
On the eleventh, Harry had just released Ron from his tutelage when Luna entered the smaller classroom. She had a dreamy smile on her face, and Harry knew what she was going to do.
“You’ve finished your lightsaber!”
“Oh, Poo!” She pouted. “I wanted to surprise you!”
“Luna, every new lightsaber is a surprise, even if it’s a copy of mine.” He soothed her. “So, whaddya got?”
Luna showed him.
Harry was actually surprised at Luna’s new lightsaber. For one, it was curved instead of straight! He could tell each component was accounted for, but when he’d put the things together the first time, he hadn’t thought of anything like this. Like Remus’ the forward section was a shield, but Luna’s was more rounded, like the nose of a bullet, and wider than the curved grip.
The emitter was buried further into the shield, with the focusing crystal and the counter-rotating field generators encased in the forward shell, and the main field generating and stabilizing coils, and the degaussing coil were further back. The shield itself formed a natural grip-stop and the activating switch was located at the rear top. The beam power and length adjustment dials were located along the underside of the shield, at the four and eight O’clock positions. There were five blue-grey grip areas running along the curved body, divided by the silvery-white metal, and a rounded cap finished the end.
The stone she’d created was another surprise for Harry. She’d managed to stabilize the tricky rainbow quartz into a usable focusing crystal and still retain its unique properties. Her beam was a pale pink with various colors flashing along the blade from time to time.
As with Remus, Harry and Luna tested her blade in the small classroom off the great hall. The clash of blade on blade drew the students and it wasn’t long before they cheered every thrust, parré, strike and block.
Harry’s eyes widened in shock as halfway through the battle, Luna pulled out a second lightsaber, identical to the first, and began to fight using both hands. Even with his knowledge of the advanced forms, he was hard pressed to keep up. He’d had very little experience with Jar-Kai.
As surprised as Harry was, the students were gaping in amazement! The demonstration became so much more, as a new style was introduced.
When they’d finished, the ovation nearly blew the roof off the place, the students cheered and clapped wildly not only for the unexpected lesson in Jar-Kai, but also for the rare entertainment at seeing Harry so unbalanced.
“Luna” Harry asked, as they sat in his office. “How did you manage to build two stones at the same time?”
“I simply built a longer inner stone, and when I was ready to form the shell, I spun the stone, and sliced it in half. Then I’d kept it spinning until I’d formed the diamond shell around them and when that was completed and shaped, I spun it and sliced it in half as well. After that, it was etching the diamonds and faceting and polishing the cones and that was it!”
“That was just brilliant!” He congratulated her, but looked up seriously, and added: “But…for the sake of safety, I’d prefer you not use them in tandem again until I’ve given you a bit more training in Jar-Kai. You made some mistakes today, that could have killed you. Other than that, it was a hell of a demonstration!”
“Thank you, Harry!” Luna smiled broadly; happy to know her friend was so pleased.
As he woke the next morning, Harry found Winky waiting with tea and a message from Carolyn. Beside him Hermione was still sleeping.
“Good morning, Master Harry. Winky has brought you message from Mistress Carolyn.”
“Thanks, Winky, Harry swept the dust form bleary eyes and accepted both tea and message. A swig of tea first and then he opened the letter. Seeing what it was about he shifted his eyes to Hermione.
“Not to worry, Master Harry. Winky has cast a sleepy charm on Mistress Hermione. She will sleep for a bit longer. This message is not for her eyes.”
“Uh…thanks. If you need to do that again, please tell me before you do.”
“As you wish, Master Harry.” The elf replied.” She raised her hand to undo the charm when Harry lifted his. “Hold on a tick. Like you said, this is not something I want her to know about just yet…just…next time. OK?”
Winky nodded. “Winky understands.”
Harry read the notice telling him the arrangements had been made for his engagement dinner.
Done that, he sent a quick reply, stuffed the notice into the office safe and returned to bed to await his love’s awakening.
At breakfast, Harry called out the names: “Gred, Forge, Ollie, Susan, Adrian, Terrance, Li, Hannah and Daphne. You nine are first up. Eat hearty and then go to the forge room.
Again the hall erupted in cheers as the students stood and wildly applauded the nine students who were about to forge their focusing stones.
Harry dismissed them to the practice room to warm up. “I’ll be along in a bit, but I want to give some instructions first.”
In the forge room he found nine nervous students and ten force sensitive elves.
All right. I want you lot to pair up with a house elf. They’re here to help you. There are also elves here to keep you alive for the next five days. During your focus, you won’t be able to care for yourselves so the house elves will. The elves you are in contact with will keep them apprised of any needs you may have, and let you know if something needs your attention. Don’t fight them. I would rather have you try again, than die of something stupid.
Before I leave you to it, I want you know Dobby is in charge. His word is law. He is the most experienced force-sensitive elf we have and that experience is more than invaluable. Count on it. It could save your lives.
The second thing is, nobody is to make two lightsabers. Luna’s were well built, but none of you is ready to start using two blades. Understand?”
The students all nodded. Gred and Forge had smiles that made him nervous, but with them, that was par for the course.
“I’ll leave you to it then.”
As Harry returned from that day’s instruction, Dobby popped in.
“You is ready to test out of Niman, Harry Potter.”
“Are you sure?”
“Dobby is sure.”
“OK, then. Let’s do it!”
Young man and house elf retired to the small training room where they frequently sparred. Checking their lightsabers, the handed them back, checked again and when both were satisfied, set to.
From the mezzanine, Hermione, her parents, and Winky, watched as the two below exploded into a whirl of light.
Like Shii-Cho, Soresu and Shien, Djem-so was a power form, though with the aerial components of Ataru thrown in, it was far more dangerous, and so, he and Dobby had taken it a bit slower, taking almost two months to reach the first stages of Niman.
Niman had been more like Makashi… elegant and refined…but with a twist. Like Djem-so, it also incorporated certain aspects of Ataru.
An hour and twenty minutes later, Dobby called a halt, satisfied, as he snarked, that Harry wouldn’t accidentally cut himself in half.
At Harry’s gape of outraged shock, Dobby grinned and advanced Harry to Jar-Kai, adding a diagonal brown stripe to the red square on each of Harry’s shoulders.
Harry was tempted to not return the gesture, but with a glare from Hermione he intoned the words: “Dobby, you have demonstrated the necessary proficiency in form Niman and are now advanced to Jar-Kai.”
Applause filled the classroom, as the small audience cheered their leaders’ advancements.
Now, Harry would be learning all over again…with two blades.
Lavender waited outside the infirmary, not looking forward to the Cruciatus shield again, but determined and confident that this time, she could punch through, and into Frank Longbottom’s mind.
“Hello, Lavender.” Harry greeted her as he palmed the door open. Gesturing her inside, offered her a seat and a calming draught as Hermione joined them. Over the past weeks, they’d determined the best way to go into that shield was to take the draught first and do so under its influence. Unfortunately the calming draught only lasted so long and the user had to wait a full six hours between doses. If the dose wore off while they were ‘inside’ taking to Frank, they’d have to get through the shield unprotected. None of them were looking forward to that.
“We should be able to get through this time. Are you ready?”
“Yeah. I’m ready.”
“I’m with you.”
“OK. Let’s do it!” They all chugged the potions and immediately sank into their meditative trances, before joining their minds and heading into Frank’s.
Healer Merrifield closed the door and stood watch.
The shield was hideously painful as always, but their preparation and their determination to get through, left them standing in Frank Longbottom’s mindscape.
“Frank!” Harry called. “Frank Longbottom!”
“Who’s there!?!” Called a familiar voice. Franklin was much as Harry remembered.
Beside him was Alice, holding little Neville.
“Hello, Frank.” Harry greeted them. “This is Lavender Brown your healer and this, is my betrothed, Hermione Granger.
“Granger?” Alice was intrigued. “Are you related to the potions master?”
“Not that I’m aware of, though it is possible. I’m muggleborne, though I understand that often those considered muggleborne are actually the end of long lines of purebloods that have lost their magic.
“Hmmm” Alice mused. “That certainly sounds plausible. In fact, it would explain a great deal…”
As Hermione and Alice debated, Harry and Lavender spoke to Frank.
“We’ve only got a half hour or so in here, before the calming draught wears off. We should be on the other side of the shield before that happens or we’ll have to fight our way through unaided. Not fun.”
“So this shield really is there?”
Lavender grimaced. “Yeah and let me tell you, it really hurts…a lot!”
And you’re my healer?”
“I’m not a full healer yet.” She admitted.
At Frank’s curious look Harry explained. “Lavender was one of my students but she has an aversion to killing and that’s going to be needed when I next face Voldemort. Since she was supposed to be apprenticing under Madam Pomfrey, I decided to transfer her to the infirmary here, and healers Merrifield and Jacoby both took her under wing. She tends to your bodies as part of her daily routine, and it was Lavender, in fact, who brought me the idea of your not being as damaged as everyone thought.”
Frank offered Lavender his heartfelt thanks.
After a few more explanations, Harry announced: “We’re running out of time. We’re going to have to leave very soon, or the calming draught will wear off before we clear the shield.”
Thanks followed and together they three departed Franklin’s mindscape.
Merrifield awaited them. “How did it go?”
“It’s not something you want to try on a regular basis. That shield is horrible!” Lavender replied. “But he’s in there and his mind is intact. Should we try with Mrs. Longbottom?”
“Let’s wait until we’ve cleared one hurdle before jumping another.” Harry replied. “Keep her healthy and when Voldemort’s gone we can focus on the Longbottoms. In the meanwhile, we can keep practicing with Frank, until you’re sure you can go it alone. Then, if you want, we can try to enter Alice’s mind, but I’d recommend, we wait.”
The human knee is like three sticks balanced, one on top of the other two, with a rock in the front and the whole mess is held together by three rubber bands. Not a particularly sturdy construct. The fibular collateral tendon goes from the femur to the tibia in the outside of the leg, the lateral meniscus is a cup of cartilage that forms a saddle for half of the bulby part of the femur, and the transverse ligament stretches around the front and over the kneecap (Patella) from the medial meniscus, which forms the saddle for the other part of the femur to the outside of the lateral meniscus. These ligaments, are very easily damaged and without magic, nearly impossible to repair. Even with magic, I’d say it wouldn’t be easy.
Tonks’ lightsaber: I wanted a feminine and organic look for hers that could easily be used for lewd jokes, and I remembered a personal ‘massage wand’ my Pauline had before she died. It was slender and had an enlarged tip and a smaller rounded end. If you need an example, it was very much like the ‘LIV personal massager’. Tonks’ lightsaber looks like that from the top, but there’s no downward curve. I will be posting an image in a few days of the various lightsabers, on Kinsfire’s Yahell group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kinsfire_fanfic/) in the ‘Alorkin’s artwork’ file. Be advised: a lot of the artwork there is meant for adult eyes!
The possibility of one or more of the house elves dying was nearly inevitable, given Dumbledore’s history. While not as overtly hurtful as Voldemort’s crew, Dumbledore’s callous cruelty caused just as much harm.
The ring is the one I designed for my Pauline. The only difference was the size of the stones. Ours was a 1.8 carat oval cut diamond with a .8 carat garnet and topaz on either side.
I see Niman and it’s two-bladed variant Jar-Kai as being based upon Makashi, something Luna has an affinity for.