A Sixth year (pre-HBP) story: Harry decides the best way to fight back is to take the DA to the next level. He succeeds better than he thought he would. In this chapter, Harry and Hermione plan.
Wednesday, July 31, 1996
Harry awoke the next morning to a gentle rapping on his bedroom door. "Who's'it?" he mumbled. They had all been up late, celebrating Neville's birthday with cake and one bottle of spumante.
The door opened a crack. "Hermione," came the whispered response.
Harry frowned and sat up in bed, saying, "Yeah? Something wrong?"
Hermione came in, already dressed, except for her shoes and socks. She shut the door. "What's wrong?" Harry asked again, although more clearly.
"Harry, do you really like Luna?" Hermione asked, sitting on the edge of his bed.
"Yeah, I do. I mean, I'm not really madly in love with her or anything, I think, but I really like her, and maybe, well, you know, we might. . . . Anyway, she means a lot more than I ever felt for Cho. Why?" Harry managed to find his glasses and put them on.
"So, you won't mind if, well if. . . ."
"Ron and you?" Harry asked. Hermione nodded.
"You don't need my approval, you know," Harry said.
Hermione chewed her lower lip, a habit left over from when her teeth had been larger. "I feel that I do, Harry. In a way, I love you and Ron both. And I am attracted to you almost. . . ."
"Hermione, we talked about this already. We like each other, and if Ron wasn't around, you might want to date me. If Luna wasn't around, I would certainly want to date you. We care about each other." He looked at his friend. "You aren't trying to say that you prefer me to Ron, are you? The truth, Hermione."
"No," Hermione said slowly. "I know it's silly. It's just that I care for you both so very much. As much as I enjoy. . . ."
"Snogging Ron?" Harry teased.
"Exactly," Hermione agreed. "As much as I like kissing Ron, I guess I was hoping that I never would have to make the choice. That we could stay as close as we were."
"Luna might share me with you but I don't think Ron would share you with anyone, especially with me," Harry teased, making Hermione blush.
"That's not exactly what I meant," Hermione protested.
"I know. I don't want our love lives to split us apart either. I realized something the other day, when we talked."
Hermione's curiosity was aroused. "What's that?"
"You've never let me down. And even though I've fought with you, you've never really fought with me. You've never lied to me or misled me."
"Luna hasn't either," Hermione pointed out.
"True, but you've known me a lot longer. Everyone else I've either trusted or who should have been looking out for me has deceived me along the way, even if in very minor ways: the Dursleys; Dumbledore; Ron and really all the Weasleys, well, the brothers, not Ginny, except for the Chamber of Secrets, which wasn't her fault; and even Remus and to some extent Sirius deceived me for my own good. The worst you've done was the broom, and at least you were totally honest about that. You're always totally honest with me. In return, I've yelled at you and hurt you, and you keep coming back to help. Thank you, Hermione."
Hermione smiled, both at what he said and at how cute he was when he rambled, her eyes glistening. "You're welcome, Harry."
"You really are my twin sister in some ways, aren't you?"
"Sister, yes, but why twin?" she asked puzzled.
"An older sister would lie to protect me, like Sirius and Remus, or pick on me. A little sister would treat me more with a combination of contempt and respect, like Ginny does Ron. But a twin may treat the other as they wish to be treated, and that's how you treat me."
"Thank you, Harry," Hermione said softly.
"I'm sorry I've treated you so badly."
"I know. I believed you the first time."
Harry smiled. "Step outside for a minute, and let me run in the loo and get dressed. It's early enough I can still ask you a few questions, if you don't mind."
Hermione smiled and patted Harry's cheek. "I'll be right outside." Harry took her hand and kissed her palm, making Hermione blush.
"What did you want to ask me?" Hermione asked a few minutes later. It was only 7:10, and none of the others seemed to be stirring, let alone down in the dining room.
"What do you think about my doing Muggle Studies? I know I said I'd likely take it, but what do you think about it? What do you think about Medicine? And I was thinking I might have enough to do without a second extra course, especially if we do the DA again."
"Do the Muggle Studies and Basic Medicine -- I'm taking that, too. They will probably do you more good in the long run than History or Divination. We both like Hagrid, but that's not reason enough to take the course. And I agree, with Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology, and that Potions class, you have enough to do without a seventh course." She looked at him. "Are you going to be running the DA again?"
"If we do, it will be we, Hermione. As in you and me. Ron is my best mate, and Luna and I might get serious, but you are my. . . ." He looked for a word.
"Lackey, minion, aide, adjutant, first mate, number one or two, researcher, lieutenant. . . ."
Harry smiled and raised a hand to stop her. "Start thinking about it. Outside the group, there will be Dumbledore, Zoric, Remus, and maybe some of the Order or faculty. In the DA, there will be me, then you, then Ron, Ginny, Neville, Luna, and maybe two others as a group. We'll also split the group itself into two parts, sort of a general group and then an inner group recruited from the general group. I don't think you should use 'first mate' or 'partner' for you, though. Ron will be jealous."
Hermione smiled at that as she pulled out a note book and jotted some symbols down. "Muggle short-hand," she told him. "I doubt if many in the wizarding world would know it."
Harry smiled. "I was thinking about asking Ron to take control of physical fitness. I'm hoping Neville will be willing to ask Sprout for some space in one of the greenhouses we're not usually allowed in, to grow anything we might need that Hogwarts might not supply. You'd be research and development, with Luna working on more general research."
"She is plugged into almost every gossip network there is," Hermione admitted, "even more than Lavender. What's the difference between research and research and development?"
"If we need something researched in general, that would be Luna -- her marks in History and Runes are as high as yours -- and if we need something made or created, including charms, that would be you. You won't have time to do both."
Hermione frowned. "What are her extra courses, besides Runes?"
"Divination and Muggle Studies. Obviously, if it's something to do with Arithmancy, it would go through you. If it was pure runes, and important, hopefully the pair of you could work together."
"Sounds reasonable," Hermione admitted. "It's almost as if we're creating our own Order."
"We are. We're the Independent Junior Order of the Phoenix."
"So we're the Hatchlings, huh?" Ron said, coming into the room, Luna right behind him.
"That's right. Where are Neville and Ginny?" Harry asked, making Ron's cheek twitch a tiny bit.
"In the gardens," Luna replied. "I believe they were watching the sunrise."
Ron's cheek twitched again. "I thought she hated getting up early even more than me," he grumbled.
Luna merely shook her head and said "Ronald," in a voice slightly more mournful than dreamy. Hermione shook her head at Ron as well. Harry and Ron looked at each other and shrugged.
"Move it," Ginny told her brother from behind. She pushed Ron aside, dragging Neville by the hand into the room. "What did we miss?" she asked.
Luna smiled, while Harry and Hermione laughed and Ron frowned. "Sit down," Harry finally said. "Let me explain an idea, and see what you all think."
"What kind of physical fitness?" Ron asked a few minutes later, puzzled.
"General conditioning, at the very least. I was thinking of a jogging club. I'll write Dumbledore about maybe creating a gym, and asking Mister Zoric if he could make some recommendations about equipment and training."
"For all of us?" Hermione asked, a bit petulantly.
"All of us," Harry said firmly. "And group flying Sunday mornings, after the jogging. Does anyone need a decent broom, besides Hermione?"
Ginny and Neville raised their hands, which made Ron frown. Luna said, "I have a Nimbus 1500. It's in very good shape."
Harry looked at Ron. "What?" Ron asked.
"Do you think a Nimbus 1500 good enough for what we need?" Harry asked.
"If it's really in good shape, yeah," Ron said.
"I can afford a broom, I just never thought about it," Neville said. "If I can borrow Hedwig, I can write Grandmother today."
"Harry. . . ." Hermione started to say, but Harry cut her off with a smile.
"I've never bought you a decent birthday present," Harry said. "Neville, why don't you ask your grandmother to pick up two Clean Sweep All-weathers? Those are supposed to be good, stable brooms. I don't think either of you would want to deal with racing brooms."
"True," Hermione admitted.
"Ginny?" Harry asked, "Shall we get you one like Ron's?"
Ginny, seeing the look on Ron's face, merely said, "That sounds great."
"Who exactly is 'we'?" Ron demanded.
"I learned in early July that I inherited part of the Black Trust, and the way it's set up, I have access to a lot of the cash, although not the property and such until I'm seventeen. I plan on using the cash to finance anything that we need. Hermione, I know those fake Galleons ate up all your ready cash last year. The Fund, as we'll call it, should reimburse you, unless you got the money from someone else?"
"No," she admitted, "I paid for those." Ron looked stunned.
"So, that's who will pay for the brooms. Will you also act as treasurer, by the way?"
"Neville. . . ."
"Harry, one of my uncles told me he would buy me a broom, maybe because he thought he'd never have to. Let me put the bite on him first."
"Okay," Harry said simply. "We're going to go to Diagon Alley at some point. I have the paperwork ready to start of a group of accounts. First, you each will have a personal account . . . none of you has one yet, do you?"
They all shook their heads 'no.' "Alright. Each account will start off with fifty Galleons in it, and one Galleon a day will be deposited. Other than that, it's all up to you what you do with it. It's yours, although you might have to charge small items for your use in the DA from it. Second will be a supply account, what the Muggles call 'petty cash.' This will always have a thousand Galleons in it, but none of us can withdraw more than forty Galleons a day from it. Only use it for small items that the DA needs. There will also be a more substantial account, the War Chest, which Hermione or I can draw on, and we'll pay for Ginny's broom from that, and Neville's, if he needs it. The vaults will all be paid up for ten years, which is also how long the accounts are valid. After that, it's up to you if you keep your personal vaults."
"What size vaults are you thinking about?" Ginny asked.
"The War Chest would be the size of your family's," Harry told her. That was about an eighth the size of his father's. "The others would be pretty small, about the size of a closet. I'll get the larger size for the War Chest in case we need to store anything there."
Everyone looked at Ron. He blushed slightly. "Alright," he mumbled. "Sounds good."
"We'd better eat," Neville commented. "Mister Zoric will be here soon."
"He'll probably be early," Harry said.
"He is early," Tomas said from the doorway, startling everyone in the group. "Sorry about that," he said, although with his expressionless voice he really didn't sound very sorry.
"I was interested in your plans, but I do apologize for eavesdropping, even if this is my house." He came and sat down, pouring himself some orange juice. "I approve of everything you have planned, and I will not inform Dumbledore without your permission."
"You heard about the accounts?" Harry asked.
Zoric nodded. "A fine plan. What about physical training?" He had been there the entire time, invisible, but wasn't going to advertize that.
"Ron?" Harry asked.
"What?" Harry, Hermione, and Ginny all gave him a dirty look. "Oh!" Ron suddenly realized what 'being in charge' of something entailed. "Harry wants me to run physical training for the DA. Jogging at the least. Do you think we could get some sort of gym? And maybe someone to teach us physically fighting?"
"Hand-to-hand, or martial arts," Hermione corrected.
Zoric looked at them, obviously thinking, although no expression crossed his face. "Excellent ideas," he finally said. "You two are Fifth years, yes?" Ginny and Luna nodded. "Are any of the rest of you taking Astronomy?" They all shook their heads. "Then I may be able to work things out. Now, I want you all to change into school robes. We are going to Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, with perhaps a few other stops. Here are your school letters. The Aurors and I have spoken with Snape about the auror potions class. You three, make certain you give that letter to the apothecary. Your potion ingredients have been pre-packaged, and pre-paid."
"By whom?" Ron growled.
"I paid for Harry and Mister Longbottom, your brother Bill and I paid for yours." He turned to Harry. "As I said, an excellent idea about the accounts. I was going to do the same for the next three years, although I was starting you all off with twenty-galleons and five a week, and yes, I can easily afford it. I shall merely add that into all your accounts."
Harry was about to object, but decided that would just set Ron off. "Sir? I've decided to ask you for the apprenticeship. Can we sign that today?"
Zoric nodded. "We may."
"What do I call you?"
"'Master' might not be a great idea," Zoric admitted. "I shall think on it."
"Why not?" Hermione asked. "If it were 'Master Tomas' it might not be too bad."
"We can try it," Harry said doubtfully.
"We can," Zoric agreed. "We can adjust it if it grates. Come, my young apprentice and students."
None of the teens were thrilled by their first stop -- the Ministry of Magic. "It's just a place," Zoric lectured, "often a very silly place at that." Somehow, delivered in his expressionless voice, it was funny.
Harry noted with distaste that the fountain had been restored as if nothing had happened. While all the others had to surrender their wands because of new security rules, Zoric managed to convince the guard that he and Harry needed theirs. Zoric led them to a small waiting-room within the Department of Magical Education, where a very elderly witch by the name of Ipswitch waited with them. Arthur Weasley came in within a few minutes and talked quietly with Zoric. A few moments after that, Remus Lupin and Professor McGonagall arrived.
"Who are we waiting for?" Hermione asked.
"Someone from the Minister's Office," Zoric replied. "Ah, here he is now."
It was a very harassed-looking Percy Weasley.
"About time," Ipswitch complained, giving Percy a very dirty look. "Strange that the witness with the least amount of distance to travel comes last!"
"We're very busy. . . ." Percy started.
"Don't you know June through August is our busiest time, boy?" Ipswitch scolded as she led the group into her office, where two much younger officials were waiting. "And Arthur here is one of the busiest men in the Ministry! Now, stand there and be quiet!"
Ipswitch turned to Zoric. "You have the papers?" Zoric handed her a stack of parchment. "Standard Ministry form for the most part, good. Hate to mess around with amateur attempts at drafting. Although I must say it's been sixty years since I've done one of the full ceremonies. I hope you don't mind if these two youngsters watch?"
Zoric shook his head, "No, no problem."
"Good. Let's see, the page of addendums seems fine as well. I see you already have the Muggle guardians' permission. Muggle notarization, that's acceptable. Still. . . ." She sat at her desk and looked up at Harry. "Harry James Potter?"
"Madam Ipswitch," Hermione whispered.
"Madam Ipswitch," Harry amended.
She smiled. "Good lad. Have you read, do you understand, and do you agree to these terms of your own free will?"
Harry had read them on the way to the Ministry. Zoric had driven part of the way to give Harry the time to do so.
"Yes, Madam Ipswitch, to all three questions."
"Do you, Tomas Radoslav Zoric, agree to these terms as well?"
"I do, Madam Ipswitch."
"Sign." Zoric and then Harry signed.
"Mister Lupin, Mister Weasley, I understand you share magical guardian rights, with the death of Sirius Black and the resignation of Albus Dumbledore?" They acknowledged that they did, and signed when commanded. Asking later, Harry discovered that Dumbledore had been his magical guardian after Sirius' conviction. That Dumbledore could have allowed him into Hogsmeade his Third year was another small grievance.
"I understand you are empowered to sign for Hogwarts?" Ipswitch asked McGonagall. Since Harry would continue at Hogwarts despite being an apprentice, those terms had to be agreed to as well. McGonagall agreed and signed.
Ipswitch signed, followed by Percy. When he tried to flee the room, pleading work, Ipswitch held him back. "You have to witness the ceremony and sign again, boy! Don't you know the procedure?"
Percy grumbled and stood near the door. Harry knelt and surrendered his wand to Zoric, asked Zoric to accept him as an apprentice, and bowed his head. Zoric helped Harry to his feet, handed him back his wand, cast a shield spell, and proclaimed that Harry James Potter was his apprentice, and under his guidance and protection. Harry's wand took on a slight dark green cast.
Since no one had objected, Percy and Ipswitch signed again, and Percy was allowed to flee. Ipswitch would issue the necessary decrees, including one that lifted Harry's ban on underage magic. It was now up to Zoric to make those rules, not the Ministry. After receiving congratulations for his birthday and apprenticeship from Mr. Weasley and Professor McGonagall, Zoric led the teen group, plus Remus, back to his car. Because of London traffic, he had to drive them to Diagon Alley.
A quick stop at Gringotts set up the accounts Harry had talked about earlier than morning. The next stop was at Madam Malkins. The group all needed new Hogwarts robes, and most needed new House blazers as well. Since dark green was the traditional color of an apprentice, Harry got not only bought regular school robes, he was given some which were such a dark green as to almost be black. His Gryffindor ties now also had one thin dark green strip in them as well. A dark green blazer would be sent along later. The rest of their shopping went quickly (since Zoric steered them well away from the twin's shop), and they had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron. Remus left them after lunch, again wishing Harry a happy birthday.
It took half an hour of driving before Zoric could portkey them to Hogsmeade. There, he sent them into Gladrags to choose dress robes, although they would be re-measured before such time as they might need them. Zoric took them into several shops and opened small charge accounts for them, since only Luna had any. He had made certain that the students could charge their vaults (not all accounts allowed that).
It was close to 6:00 when they returned to Zoric's northern island.