The Last Battle has been fought, and Harry Potter has won. The price, however, has been high. Nearly every person Harry cared for is dead, maimed, or otherwise injured. The magical culture of Bri...
Monday, February 15, 1993
It was the first day that it was possible to even try and hold a Quidditch practice, so of course Wood had scheduled a short impromptu practice in the late afternoon.
In the changing room, Harry looked up and saw the rather displeased-looking Weasley twins and Wood.
"What?" Harry bleated. "It was a good practice!"
"Yeah, but you're still a little wanker, Potter," Wood growled.
"What did I do?" Harry asked nervously.
"So, you want to get your little girlfriend flowers," Fred complained. "Fine. You're both a bit on the young side, but okay. But you couldn't just get someone to transfigure or conjure them for you, could you? No, you had to get the real deal. Not only that, but did you have to get her every bloody white rose in Scotland?"
"Scotland be blowed," George chimed in. "Every white rose in the British Isles, and probably the Low Countries and France, too."
"It was a mistake," Harry lied. "I asked for a dozen long-stemmed white roses and the witch asked 'how many?' and I said twelve. So she sent twelve dozen."
"And just where did you 'talk' with a witch about flowers?" Wood demanded. Second years couldn't go to Hogsmeade, of course.
"Professor Lupin let me use his floo connection," Harry answered without batting an eyelid. Actually, Remus had ordered the twelve dozen flowers for Harry, and was glad to do so, since it reminded him to order some for Tonks, who was still at Hogwarts, providing extra security. "If you remember, I did try to remind the lot of you about Valentine's Day three times over the last two weeks." He glared at Fred. "YOU told me to bugger off, and then you and Lee ran me off from 'your side' of the common room." He transferred his glare to Oliver. "And you laughed."
"I suppose I did."
"I wasn't there!" George protested.
"You sprinkled itching powder on Hermione's and my love seat," Harry pointed out.
"You're too young to cuddle like that all the time, let alone snog!"
Harry peered at George. "You look like George, but you sound like Percy. Or are you just jealous I get to cuddle more than you?"
George grabbed his heart. "Oh! A hit!" He looked at Harry. "I am merely wounded, but surrender."
The trio of older students were trailing Harry back to the castle at a distance, looking rather abashed. "Wish I knew how he does that," George whinged.
"He's taken Percy down a few notches," Oliver pointed out. "We should know better than to take him on."
"And the girls all think he's so ruddy 'cute'," Fred said with a sigh. "If the 'Boy-Who-Lived' doesn't kick our butts, the girls will."
"Uh oh," George said. The other two looked up, and saw that Professors Lupin, Moody, and Black were waiting for Harry.
"Do you ever get the idea that there's an awful lot that goes on around here we have no clue about?" Fred complained.
"It's easier to just worry about Quidditch," Oliver said with sigh.
"What's happened?" Harry asked when he was seated in the Headmaster's office.
"We're not sure," Sirius admitted.
"Well, we're certain what happened," Remus hedged.
"We just have no idea what it means."
"Could you give me a hint?" Harry asked.
"You do know what happens to a person when they are Kissed by a dementor," Remus started off. Sirius gave slight shiver.
"Yes," Harry said. His eyes went wide. "Inferi! The Kissed make the most effective Inferi, because they are soulless but in better shape than the actual dead! And Voldemort likes using Inferi!"
"All true, but incorrect, at least for the moment," Dumbledore said. "The bodies of the soulless are cared for in Azkaban for the most part. Prisoners who are not being fed on most directly by the dementors have to feed and care for them."
"An extra punishment, and it does scare them to think, if they're ever in for anything more serious, they could end up the same way," Moody put in.
"And?" Harry asked.
"Obviously, no one keeps a real close eye on the Kissed," Remus plowed on, "mostly just making certain they aren't being abused. Anyway, to make things brief, Pettigrew is missing."
Harry frowned. "Why would anyone want Pettigrew?" he asked.
"We don't know," Dumbledore admitted.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, then Harry asked, "Can the Kissed be put under the Imperius?"
"Easily," Dumbledore responded.
"Could he be made to assume his rat form?" Harry asked.
"We don't think so," Moody answered. "Still, it's the only thing we could come up with either."
Remus shrugged. "Any other ideas?"
"Is there any way for his soul to be, well, put back?" Harry asked.
"None that we know of," Dumbledore answered.
"How about the dementors?" Remus asked. "If there is such a way, whichever dementor took Peter's soul would have to be involved."
After a moment's silence, Harry asked, "Can dementors talk?"
"A few," Sirius answered in a small, distant voice. "Those who have taken the most souls. The more they Kiss, the more intelligence they have."
"We can't trust Fudge to keep a close eye on them," Harry said. "I need to speak with one of the leaders."
"Are ye daft, son!" Moody cried out the loudest, but all the others had said much the same thing.
"They always seemed more attracted to me than anyone else," Harry mused. "I always meant to find out why. Better to find out now, when I can have some of you with me."
"I'm sure you're powerful enough to produce a Patronus," Dumbledore commented over the stunned silence that comment had created. "Still, not everyone can produce one."
Harry shrugged. "Remus taught me how to do it mid-way through my original Third year. I should try it out, though."
"Third year?" Moody demanded, impressed.
"Yes," Harry answered. "I taught the DA how to do it, even though only a few people managed to produce one. Still, most at least got the mist." He thought a moment and said, "I really think it should be added towards the end of the Fifth year instead of at the end of the Seventh."
"You may be correct," Dumbledore agreed, standing. "Let's go to your practice room to get some space and we shall see what you've got."
"Expecto Patronum!" Prongs sprang from Harry's wand, and stood there, defiantly. Harry felt empowered, as if his magic was truly flowing freely and fully for the first time. "Expecto Patronum!" A wolf sprang from Harry's wand to everyone's surprise, especially to Harry. "Expecto Patronum!" A silver version of Padfoot came out and joined the others. "Expecto Patronum!" A large parrot with an eye patch came out. Harry looked at Moody, and decided he could pass for a pirate. "Expecto Patronum!" A phoenix Patronus emerged. "Expecto Patronum!" An otter emerged. "EXPECTO PATRONUM!" All the images suddenly merged into a huge bear-like creature, primitive and ferocious, with gold glimmering amongst the silver.
Harry canceled the spell, and with a final, silent roar, the giant cave-bear disappeared. He turned and looked at the four teachers.
"We'll arrange a meeting," Moody said.
Sunday, February 28, 1993
Harry stood behind the Shrieking Shack, where he could not be seen from the village. Moody stood off to one side, Aberforth Dumbledore to the other. Albus led a dementor to a position about twelve feet in front of Harry, while two others stayed about forty feet further back. Albus then moved away quickly.
"What does the Light One want to discuss?" came a voice, but Harry wasn't really certain if it was sounding in his ears or just in his head. Harry suspected it was both.
"The Light One?" Harry asked.
"You radiate Light Magic," the dementor answered. "We are drawn to you."
"Why is a moth drawn to a flame? We must put out the Light. . . ."
"Or what?" Harry demanded.
". . . or be destroyed," the dementor admitted.
"If the dementors stay on Azkaban and do only what the Ministry asked, then we would not have to be in conflict," Harry said. "If an error is made as to who should be Kissed, I would blame the Ministry, not the dementors."
"The Dark One, the Nearly Soulless One, promises us much food," the dementor said. "Unlimited feeding on the non-magical. Breeding. We have not bred in many many years."
"And assuming that we do not then destroy you, what happens in the future when the non-magical are consumed, either by you or by the Dark One's other plans?" Harry asked. "And when you then destroy the magical? Can you really limit your feeding, or will you starve?"
"If such a thing occurred, it would be many centuries from now. Few of us have fed enough to be able to think that far ahead," the dementor admitted. "As we grow, we think more clearly."
"And when you breed, you combine and divide," Harry pointed out. "You would revert back to that mindless, instinctive state. Tell me, which state would you prefer to exist in?"
That made the dementor think, and then then, "I would prefer this state," the dementor agreed. "However, we do not feed enough at Azkaban. The minds there have few happy thoughts even before we begin to feed off of them. We must either feed more, or Kiss more. We cannot thrive without both, but we can maintain with just one."
Harry had the gleam of an idea, which he quickly buried before the dementor could read it, as his Occlumency didn't seem terribly effective here, just as Dumbledore had warned him. "Before we continue," Harry said, "tell me, has the Dark One been in contact with you recently?"
The dementor bowed, then added, "Six wild dementors have already joined him."
"Has he asked for the return of one soul in particular?"
The dementor bowed again.
"Has it been returned?" Harry asked.
"No," the dementor answered. "It is a poor soul, even by the standards we have been feeding on these last years in Azkaban, Still, magic enhances the savor of the meal if not the effect. The Dark One has promised us many of the unmagical, but until he can find one with both magic and enough life experience to make the exchange equal, my brother will not entertain the exchange."
"So the dementor with Pettigrew's soul is fully sentient?" Harry asked.
The dementor bowed.
"Would he remain sentient if he gave up Pettigrew's soul and did not get another in return?" Harry asked.
The dementor hesitated, but then bowed in agreement once more.
"I may have a solution," Harry said. "May I confer with my friends in private?"
The dementor hesitated, and then said, "One moment. You have the power of Light. That does not mean you can use it."
"What would you have me do?" Harry asked. "Show you my Patronus? Destroy one of your colleagues?"
He had meant the latter as sarcasm, but the dementor answered, "If you can destroy the nearly-wild dementor on your left, we will take any proposal which betters our position with great sincerity."
Harry thought a moment. He knew everything that hurt a dementor -- bright white light, ultra-violet light, and positive emotion so strong it was concentrated in a form which the dementor could not absorb -- a Patronus. Harry also knew that spells merely gave a focus to magic, which was conditioned by repetitive use, both general magic itself and the flow of magic within any given wizard.
Therefore, he could in theory invent any spell he wanted to. If he believed in the spell enough, and was powerful enough to shape the magic, the spell would work.
Harry used his Occlumency to sort through his emotions, but instead of hiding them, he brought all his positive emotions to the forefront, especially his feelings towards Hermione. He gathered all those feelings together, took a deep breath and cast a spell like a spear. "Amor lux!"
A bright light, just tinged with violet, shot from Harry's wand and slammed into the target dementor, which sizzled and totally disappeared in less than two seconds. Only its smoking robes were left, piled on the ground.
Harry looked at the other two dementors, which prostrated themselves on the ground.
"Now may I confer?" Harry asked.
"As you will, Lord of Light."
"What the bloody blue hell was that!" Moody hissed.
"Just gaining their respect," Harry answered. "Some of the dementors are restless because they aren't really sentient. They act on instinct and the instinct is to feed. Azkaban doesn't supply enough positive emotion for all the dementors, so even the sentient ones who know they might be better served in the long run by staying are being tempted to leave."
"Difficult," Albus mused.
"How about having each sentient dementor being escorted through a Muggle street at least once a year," Harry said. The four adults blinked at that. "They wouldn't stay in one place to really effect any one Muggle, and they certainly wouldn't Kiss any. To do so means their destruction."
"The Ministry will say it's too dangerous," Albus pointed out.
"The Ministry is always saying that the dementors are safe," Harry retorted. "We know how potentially dangerous this is, but the Ministry can't squeak."
"He's probably right," Aberforth said.
"Also, they have been asked to give up Pettigrew's soul," Harry went on. "Pettigrew is a known quantity -- he'll likely screw up anything he's ordered to do. Do we let him?"
"Give me one more reason why we should," Remus said.
"Well, this way we can kill him," Harry offered. The other men glared at him. "What? I'm the good guy, that doesn't mean I'm a goodie-goodie wimp."
"I think we should leave Pettigrew Kissed," Remus said.
"I see no advantage to us in having him return," Albus agreed. Moody and Aberforth added their agreement.
Harry went and offered the dementor the deal, including asking that Pettigrew be kept Kissed. The dementor agreed, and Dumbledore went on to broker the deal with the Ministry.
After an dinner, Harry took Hermione to the Room of Requirement, the first time he had done so, although he had explained what it was long before. He left his mind blank as he made the required passes, letting the magic decide what he needed.
What he needed was apparently a quiet parlor. The lighting was soft and there was a roaring applewood fire in a large fireplace. On three sides of the cozy room were large windows with complex mullions, showing snow softly piling up in the woods, although in actuality it was a cloudless day around Hogwarts. The wall behind them and the walls between the windows were old oak paneling. There was a large Persian carpet on the floor and a very odd piece of furniture.
"Pretty," Hermione said, looking around. "What sort of sofa is that?" It was odd-looking to say the least, a large, soft L-shaped sofa of some sort that had a high slightly inclined back at the angle, with cozy looking Afghans, with two piles of clothing on top of it.
"H'mmm," Harry said. "I see. It looks like we're supposed to change."
Hermione shrugged, and the two stripped down and put on the flannel pajamas, wooly socks, and warm dressing gowns. Harry had Hermione lie down so that she could lean up against the back. Harry covered her legs with one afghan. Harry then laid down, covered up with a second afghan, and settled his head on Hermione's lap. "You don't mind, do you?" Harry asked.
Hermione smiled and let her fingers run through Harry hair, something that she enjoyed and which always soothed Harry. "Actually, I don't mind a bit," she said. "Tell me about the dementor."
"There were three, actually," Harry said, and he told her everything which had happened.
When he was finished, Hermione said, "Having dementors parading around high streets all over Britain won't hurt anyone, will it?"
"It shouldn't," Harry said. "The dementors should be kept moving. Think of dementors as feeding either like great white sharks or like whale sharks. Instead of wrenching out huge chunks of emotion from one or two victems, they'll be swallowing lots of fleeting emotions from lots of people. I would imagine the people on the streets will be moving away from the area the dementors are being led along."
"Emotional plankton? I see what you mean, but it's not a very good metaphor."
"Best I could come up with." Harry sighed with pleasure as Hermione started using both hands on his scalp and neck.
"Am I a bossy know-it-all?"
Harry shifted around so he could look Hermione in the face. "Who called you that?"
"Am I? Tell me the truth."
"The truth is, you were more-so the first time around. I think it's because you have a drive to prove yourself, and people held your birth even more against you that time than they do now."
"So I am?"
"Not towards me, but sometimes you can come across that way to those you have to explain things to more often than you think you should have to. Now again, who called you that?"
"I overheard Ginny talking with Ron and Percy."
"Ron and Ginny have their own issues with you, and of course Ginny. . . ."
"Still resents that you didn't return her crush," Hermione agreed. "Is my being a, well, you know, why we didn't date the other time around?"
"I don't think so," Harry said. "I was a late developer, except compared to Ron. Unlike Ron, who apparently thought you were androgenous until December our Fourth year, I always thought you were a very cute and adorable girl. You acted as much like my big sister as my close friend. Still, I didn't think about being attracted to you or anyone until I was flying the Ravenclaw match in third year." He shrugged. "There was just something abut Cho's shape as she flew that sort of, well, woke me up as to what girls being different might mean."
"Cho?" Hermione asked, a bit surprised.
Harry shrugged. "I had a crush on her for over a year, but as soon as we had one date that infatuation died a quick death." Harry smiled. "You and I didn't snog until after Ron died, but you and I shared more hugs and affection during the time I had a crush on Cho than Cho and I did in the time we dated."
He looked up at Hermione. "I love you. Don't let Ginny or Ron or anyone undermine your self-confidence."
Hermione leaned over and kissed Harry's nose. "I won't."