Not knowing what would happen in the next hour meant Harry couldn't succumb to exhaustion. Instead, he gave his robes a good scourgify, removed his gloves, washed his hands, and downed a couple potions. He wandered the tent, checking that there were no loose papers about, and all the valuables were in the safe boxes, before going back to the workroom and working to create another frame for a shield, this time making it a semicircle, and curving in the top and the bottom out a bit.
For practical purposes, the individual shield had already been proven to be too small with a magical discharge sources as large as Hogwarts, but would be very useful for experiments and if the other shield failed completely. A tidal wave of magical force would be a tricky thing to live through. Either Hermione hadn't padded the timing of the effects like she usually did, or it was far more powerful today. With Harry's luck, both were probably true.
The theory wasn't bad, the scale was. Harry just hoped that Hermione would stop yelling enough for him to say it. Unable to think of anything else that might protect the tent if the shield failed, Harry grabbed a book and studied more.
Harry awoke on the couch, finding his shoes and glasses removed, and the Chudley Cannons orange throw had been laid over him. All in all rather anti-climatic. He didn't bother with a tempus, as after a good nap it was always hard to believe the day and time, in his experience. Instead he decided to take a shower.
In Harry's opinion, silence was the best gift magic had. At Privet Drive, the sounds of the shower, and the water in the pipes were traitorous. Not only would the sound of water have his aunt or uncle screaming if he showered beyond the arbitrary length they thought was proper that day; it would send Dudley to the laundry with a basket of whites. Sometimes Harry thought not having to pick up Dudley's grungies was worth the shock of cold, especially after Dudley got the internet in his room.
Though magic also afforded water at the same temp, no matter how long it ran, or if someone else used water - so perhaps that bit of silence wasn't as precious to wizarding children - he'd never thought to ask Ron. That thought stopped him up, as it always did, and Harry went to his personal safe box and added the question to his Ron Book. He'd never tell Hermione what it was, and knew he'd never admit to what he called it out loud. All the questions on wizards, and quidditch, and the unfathomable went into his Ron Book. It was the only form of 'therapy' safe for him, and that only after a hundred spells, and still leaving out the majority of how he'd like to write. The Ron Book was only for questions that Ron would have answered at the pub, if he'd survived to go to one.
Harry canceled the silencing charms on his room, aiming for the doorway back into the main of the tent. His room was on the front right side of the tent, as he'd been practically unaffected by the currents of the rubble, not that it came up, as it was the blue room, meant for male children of a camping family. Hermione was in the pink girl's room, as they had turned the adult suite into a planning room. Its ability to lock off from the rest of the tent and separate entrance meant they could restrict visitors to it, and not have to suffer strangers traipsing through their home - not that Ministry flunkies didn't try to anyway. Coming back in after the inevitable distraction, to find a would be intruder with their hands painted red and hair standing on end, was better than Molly's treacle.
Complete silence at Hogwarts, then and now, was only possible by magic. The sound of the breeze, the sound of life in the Forest - those only went missing with a silencing spell. The Tower had sometimes hummed a bit in strong winds, as its windows though warded, were battered by mother nature. It had been a bit of a joke in later years, that the only way to tell someone was up to something behind his curtains would be silence. In retrospect, Harry thought, his nightmares and visions had probably saved him from a lot of ribbing when he'd finally had to ward his bed to keep from waking his dorm mates.
The way his mind was rambling, he knew he hadn't slept long.
And sure enough, when he went back into the kitchen Hermione was there. As soon as he was through the door, the look she shot him, had him straightening his shirt, though he'd cleaned up. "Who are we meeting? And why are they important?"
Hermione huffed, and joked, "Siesta Magazine. They're wondering if you think drool is cool."
Harry gave the obliged smile and waited.
"The airheads the Ministry are claiming are experts." Hermione played with her tea.
"Is this the same group that agreed with your theory with the lunar effect on the disturbances, or is a new one?" Harry went about getting himself a snack.
"The same, though they didn't seem as bad yesterday, perhaps they were still trying to prove themselves..."
"Hermione, they were treating your every word as gospel - how could they get any less worthy?"
Her lower jaw jutted out dangerously, "Today, even agreement was beyond their scope."
Harry grabbed his plate and teacup, and sat across from her. Letting the silence lay, as he took a bite of his sandwich, and then rewet his throat with a good sip of his milky Irish Breakfast tea. "Needs another lump," he said, reaching for the sugar bowl. "They begged you to be Headmistress.. No. Not yet. Just to teach to start."
Hermione let out a gusty sigh, and plopped her face down into her folded arms.
"They probably topped it off with a bunch of codswollop about you being the best mind they've ever known or something like that." Harry looked to see Hermione had lifted her head, just enough to shoot a glare at him. "You know I didn't mean it like that.
"It's amazing, but it just shows how little they really know about us. They really think that we overvalue ourselves." Hermione's glare eased a bit, but her unhappiness was still apparent. "Then they probably tried to guilt you into teaching, never once ceding that since you are the brightest witch in our generation, seventh year or no seventh year, that you deserve the right to pursue your own education, not blow noses, and pose for pictures with kids."
Hermione propped her head up on her hands. "How did you know?"
Harry smiled at her, "It's Percy talk. The last couple batches seem to have read whatever he wrote or was interviewed about us... Just enough truth to poke a bit at the scabs, but completely stuck in loyalty before thought and other tripe that means they can't understand us."
Hermione sipped her tea a bit, scowling when she found it cold. After spelling it warm, she asked, "They had a different group for you?"
Harry shrugged, "They've been planting guys in my work groups. Can generally tell from the start as they do the least work possible, then start making inane comments throughout." Harry chuckled, "I think it was the Quidditch connection, thinking I'd bond with a teammate or some such nonsense."
"You haven't mentioned it. Seems like there's a lot you haven't been mentioning," her voice was tired.
"There's a lot we don't say," he gentled his voice, "I think it's because he's not here to ask the questions in between." Harry saw the hint of tears starting in her eyes, and hurried along, "We're doing alright. And this is our therapy, I thought... Our closure, or whatever the books you've been leaving on the counter call it. If I'm holding you back, if you need to move on to America and get started with the rest of your education, tell me."
Hermione's eyes glinted with the tears that had yet to fall, "It is therapy." Harry now knew the satisfaction and bit of resentment Ron must of felt when they'd been awed he'd gotten something emotional right. "They kept harping and poking about how it was my duty and I should feel guilty that I was doing something so beneath my talents."
Harry couldn't help it, he laughed.
"They must be low in the brains department. This is the opportunity of a century for scholars and builders alike. Why did you think the Americans are working for so little?"
Harry shook his head. "Nah, the Ministry building itself is being aided by their Magical Bureau of Engineers, affiliated with the muggle armed forces. We have two of the name firms from the US here, and have been getting lots of offers from the Universities. I think we should see if there are any you'd like us to go to, after this - and see if they have any offers for us here."
"You'll go with me? To university?"
Harry shrugged, "I'd hoped to before Hogwarts, you know. I'd gotten ready for Stonewall, read the suggested reading list and all. I'd known I'd have to stand out well for a chance at a scholarship, but thought I'd show them up in the end."
"But at Hogwarts..."
Harry shrugged, "It's hard to swim again, after you've just floated so long."
Hermione looked satisfied with his answer for a moment, before she frowned, "It wasn't because of Ron, was it? Not wanting to show him up?"
Harry shrugged, "Not consciously. Perhaps I let him set the bar, because he was my first friend, and enjoying things was so odd. But I think it was more that there was no push."
"Just with my trust account, I saw I had more money than I thought any one person could have. My parents were heroes; I didn't need to prove to anyone how great they were. All I had to do was not be less than good. Oh, and live through whatever bizarre situation came up despite all the adults."
"Harry, I might have to accuse you of becoming deep."
"Well, before you get too attached to that idea, I'd better tell you what I did today."
"I'll ask you later, the Ministry stooges have been alone in the planning room long enough to all be red handed by now."
Until next time..