A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, Harry starts his train...
Thursday, July 4, 1996
Harry woke up at 5:45. It was getting harder each day to wake up early as his sleep increased. Still, between his Occlumency meditations, his new glasses, and his better sleeping habits, Harry's headache was totally gone for most of each day.
After nearly two weeks, Harry was beginning to see a few results from his exercise. He had greater stamina, and was lifting heavier weights with more repetitions. There still weren't many real physical signs (since he had so little body fat, each muscle was fairly well-defined as it was), but Harry was sure mass would come sooner or later.
This morning, as he was slipping on his exercise shorts, Harry that saw Hedwig was back and that there was a barn owl, most likely from Luna (she never used the same owl twice in a row). Harry took the package from the owl, verified it was from Luna, tied the return note he had written the previous evening to its leg, gave it a treat, and sent it off.
Harry then took the notes off Hedwig, gave her a treat, and stroked her feathers a bit. She hooted softly, and dug into the owl kibble Harry had picked up for her in Diagon Alley. Finally, he went down to the cellar.
By now, the Dursleys knew he was working out in the early mornings. Harry waited until Vernon left, and then came up to shower before Dudley woke up. Harry had agreed to do the laundry, and in exchange no one complained about his showering twice a day.
Harry managed to finish eating just as Dudley thundered down the stairs. While Dudley ate, Harry went up to see what Luna and the Weasleys had written.
Thank you for the chocolates. Ron complained about the chocolate turtles not moving and for not looking more like turtles, but he ate them so I know he found them as delicious as I.
I've been taunting Ron with all the boys I'm going to date (I would never really date Malfoy, but it's fun to watch Ron turn all those interesting colours when I mention the possibility). I understand you're writing to Luna, so I will ignore all Ron's hints. I'm glad we're real friends now, that I'm not just Ron's little sister. And I'm sure that you won't think I'm a 'scarlet woman' for writing to the boys (Ron tried that one, too; I don't care what Ron thinks, but I do care what you think about me). I'm actually thinking about dating one boy, but I'm still weighing my options -- please tell me I'm not horrible!)
In case you're curious, Luna likes imperial almonds and carob.
your friend and follower
When Harry wrote back, he made certain to assure Ginny that she wasn't a scarlet woman, and as long as she didn't lead anyone on unnecessarily, he couldn't think badly of her. After a little extra thinking, he assured her he didn't think of her as a little sister, but as a close and trusted friend.
Thanks for the chocolate -- don't believe anything Ginny says about it. Thanks for sending her some, otherwise she'd had snaffled mine. Owls have been flocking to her all summer. Justin, Seamus, and Neville are the worst. At least Malfoy hasn't sent any that I've seen, although George claims he saw that damn eagle owl at her window last night (he and Fred came for their first visit in over a week). If I see it, underage magic or not, we're having fried owl for dinner!
Still haven't heard from Hermione, but I'm sure she'll be back in time to get her O.W.L. results. That should be around the 15th to the 21st. Fred and George said you didn't look too scrawny when they saw you, which made Mum happy.
Something big is going on. Not certain what, but there're rumours of some sort of reorganization at the Ministry. Dad seems pleased about it, whatever it is. He said to tell you the news is supposed to be in Friday's Prophet.
First, let me thank you for the wonderful candies. It's not often I get chocolate; it usually disappears faster than my other possessions, and no one ever brings it back or replaces it. At school, I usually buy carob candies and imperial almonds, since no one else seems to like them much.
I didn't know about your relatives. We can talk about them, and anything else, when we see each other. I also understand about the meditation. See if you can find a mantra (a repeated sound or phrase, it doesn't have to make any sense) that will help. I understand 'om' is supposed to be popular, repeated either verbally or mentally.
We've basically stopped looking for snorkacks of any kind. Hermione will no doubt be pleased we haven't proven her wrong. Strange that she can only believe things that she's told by an authority figure.
Please enjoy the meat pies. I sent along an eel pie for you to try. I promise, it tastes better than it probably sounds to you.
"I'll try it, but I don't think I'll like it," Harry muttered. To his surprise, he didn't hate it when he ate it with lunch.
Thursday was the day for Petunia's 'bookclub' -- although as far as Harry knew they merely drank pink gin and gossiped. Still, that and her other groups took Petunia out of the house most of the weekdays. Petunia left a few minutes before 1:00, and Harry was working out a few minutes later.
A little after 2:00, Harry went upstairs to shower. Coming out of the shower, Harry was shocked to Remus Lupin standing in front of his bedroom door.
"Hi, Harry. How are you?"
Harry managed to find his voice. "Surprised."
Remus smiled. "Sorry about that. We figured there was no reason to interrupt your workout."
"Come on down stairs, and meet some people."
"May I at least put some pants on?"
"Sorry," Remus said, realizing Harry was standing in only a towel. "You may even put your trousers on. If you hurry, you may also add shirt, socks, and shoes."
"Harry, this is Tudor Myrddin, Tobias Jones, and Johnson the Dreamwalker." Harry regarded the two large men warily. Johnson, at least, seemed friendly. "The details of the situation are somewhat . . . convoluted, but the short version is, the Ministry has been put into receivership. That means the International has stepped in to help straighten things out. Mister Myrddin and Master Johnson are two of the International people acting as the real executive, while Fudge mostly does routine paperwork. The Council has eleven people, six from the International, five British. You know Madam Bones and Amos Diggory, of course, and Arthur and Professor Dumbledore are the other two, along with Fudge."
"Ron mentioned something was happening, but he wasn't certain what," Harry told them. "He said it would be in tomorrow's Prophet."
"True. Master J is a greater expert, and hopefully a better teacher, on Occlumency than Severus. He will help you master it this summer. Mister Jones and I will be tutoring you in general defense."
"Since your wand is on file at the Ministry, you don't have to stop by," Myrddin said. "We've lifted the prohibition on underage magic on you."
"Your neighbor, Mrs. Figg, is just close enough for the blood protection to work there," Jones told Harry. "We would like you available for training, at least between One and Five every day."
"At least until your birthday. We have several ideas for August, but changing the basic routine is unlikely," Jones stated. The man's dispassionate tones were beginning to grate on Harry. Like most people, Harry hated being treated as an object.
"Perhaps we could at least arrange something for your birthday," Myrddin mused. He looked at Harry. "Our purpose is NOT to keep you isolated, Mister Potter. Dumbledore believes the protections here don't just keep you hidden, but believes it reenforces your magic and protects you and your relatives from magical attack."
Harry frowned. "You mean I'm not really doing things like producing a Patronus?"
"In part. You would be able to produce a Patronus, but not one strong enough to drive away a hundred dementors. Even a wizard as powerful and experienced as Dumbledore or myself wouldn't find that easy. Now, I don't know if his idea of the additional power is true or not. I have known a few students who excel at one branch of magic to the degree you do who are only average or slightly above average in related fields. I think that a much more probable explanation. And, as I said, Dumbledore also believes the protections keep you fairly safe from magical attack, not just hidden, at least from Voldemort, until they start to weaken in the spring. That also sounds over-stated at best. Still. . . ."
"Best not to take chances?" Harry asked.
"Exactly. Why don't you go with Lupin and Master J, while Jones and I stay and talk to your aunt."
"You seem to be a natural Occlumens," Johnson said as they walked towards Mrs. Figg's. "I have been probing your mind for weaknesses -- not looking into your thoughts, I must add. I see no easy way in."
"Professor Snape would disagree," Harry said drily.
"Professor Snape was exactly the wrong person to teach you," Johnson retorted. "And I am NOT referring to his charming personality or personal history with you and your family. He managed to teach himself a variety of Occlumency, which was amazing in itself, but it was incomplete. His parents were abusive, mentally and physically. Snape learned to ward off those attacks, including a straight-forward Legilimency attack. A direct attack will not work against Severus Snape. I am one of the greatest masters of Legilimency there is, and I could not successfully attack him. However, there are many subtle ways of entering, as opposed to attacking, a mind and he is wide open to most of them. You have a natural defense against those subtle attacks. It is the curse link to Voldemort that allows his attacks on you, and leaves you open to frontal attacks. Have you been practicing at all?"
"Not as such," Harry answered. "I have been trying, combining it with meditation."
"Good! Using what as a focus?"
"A candle flame. I've had a slight headache, centered around my scar, since the Ministry. It seems to be gone now. My concentration has also improved, or at least it feels that way."
"Interesting. Let's see what we can do for you."
Harry came back to the house happy. He was convinced he could learn enough Occlumency to deflect the attacks through his scar at the very least. It would take a lot of work on his part to be able to deflect a direct attack or to turn an attack against his attacker, especially if that attacker was Voldemort, but at least Harry had some idea of what he had to do and how he would have to do it.
"Boy! Come in here!"
Harry obediently went to the kitchen.
"Did you know some of those people were coming here today?"
"No, it was a complete surprise," Harry admitted.
She looked at him. "Very well. I have a good idea what you're supposed to do, and where you'll be. I think it's best we don't mention any of this to your uncle."
"Yes, Aunt Petunia."
"Why exactly do you have a candle in your room?"
"It helps me with the meditation I'm supposed to be doing."
"You're not . . . conjuring anything, are you?"
"Absolutely not!" Harry was appalled by the very idea of what she was thinking.
"All right, I believe you. Go get cleaned up."
Friday, July 19, 1996
The next two weeks were interesting. Harry was now sleeping from just before 10:30 until just before 6:00, which was still less than he probably needed, but more than he had been constantly getting for over a year. His physical workouts continued, and he was starting to put some muscle on his frame. In addition to the meat pies (Luna and her father had come back on the 17th, but she still sent Harry food), Mrs. Figg had him eat a 'snack' (usually a sandwich thick with meat and tomatoes and a tall glass of milk) each afternoon.
Harry had made progress with his Occlumency and meditation. Master J thought he had great natural ability in both, which came as a shock to Harry. Jones had been equally, although less visibly, impressed by Harry's abilities. He and Remus had Harry well into the N.E.W.T.-level Defense practicals in a week, and had him starting his Seventh year charms material and the introductory auror material in two.
Harry didn't mention one reason for his progress were the books supplied by Dung Fletcher. Fletcher had found so many good books at reasonable prices that the man had even thrown in a special gift -- a seven compartment magical trunk, much like the faux Moody had had during Harry's Fourth year. Harry had been grateful, but Dung refused any more money. He had decided to just take Harry's five Galleons, the rest he supplied almost at cost. The old crook had decided Harry Potter was a special boy, who deserved all the help he could get. Dung had even spent the previous Sunday morning, when the Dursleys were on an outing, teaching Harry how to pick locks the Muggle way. He also supplied Harry a knife to replace the one he'd ruined at the Ministry and a set of picklocks almost at cost.
Over this training period, Harry had decided against becoming an auror. He still wanted the training, but he had decided to try for the more elite hit-wizards, with encouragement from Remus and Jones. The first step would be getting the auror training.
To Harry's surprise, they quit at 3:45 rather than 4:15 that Friday. "You've done well, Mister Potter," Jones told him, "better than we had hoped, let alone expected." Neither Harry nor Remus had warmed up to Jones, who was brilliant at what he did but who didn't seem to want to be friends. Still, the man worked hard to help Harry and was very informative, which Harry appreciated.
"Myrddin has decided to arrange a holiday for you," Jones told Harry. "Your relations will drop you off at Diagon Alley tomorrow morning, and pick you up in the late afternoon. Most of your class will receive their O.W.L. results first thing Monday morning. Here are yours. Be prepared to decide on your Sixth year courses by Monday. Lupin will work with you until Two on Monday, if you need that much time."
Jones and Johnson flooed away, leaving Harry with his O.W.L. results.
"Go ahead an open them," Remus teased. "I'm sure they're good."
Harry gave Remus a weak smile.
/O.W.L. RESULTS FOR HARRY J. POTTER/
/. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Theory. .Practical. .Total/
/Astronomy . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A . . . .A. . . . . .A/
/Charms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .E . . . .O. . . . . .O/
/Defence against the Dark Arts . . . .O . . . .O+ . . . . .O/
/Herbology . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A . . . .A. . . . . .A/
/History of Magic. . . . . . . . . . .D . . . .-. . . . . .D/
/Potions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .E . . . .E. . . . . .E/
/Transfiguration . . . . . . . . . . .E . . . .O. . . . . .O/
/Theory I . . . . . . . . . . . . . .O . . . . . . . . . .O/
/ (Charms, Defense, Transfiguration)/
/Theory II . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A . . . . . . . . . .A/
/ (Herbology, Potions, Defense)/
/Care of Magical Creatures . . . . . .E . . . .O. . . . . .O/
/Divination. . . . . . . . . . . . . .A . . . .P. . . . . .A/
"Ten!" Remus proclaimed when he saw the results. "Well done!"
"Not good enough for auror training," Harry pointed out. "I needed an 'O' in Potions to continue."
"To continue N.E.W.T. potions," Remus pointed out in turn. "You need five E or O N.E.W.T.s. Potions is recommended, not required. Without Potions, you need to take Defense, Charms, Transfiguration, and Medicine. Take either the N.E.W.T. Herbology or Care, and maybe Practical Potions -- you don't even need an A-level for that. Or take N.E.W.T. Care and Herbology, or even Law, and screw Potions either way! I'm tired of defending Snape, and you shouldn't have to put up with him if you don't want to. Tonks will be on duty tonight between Eight and midnight. I'll have her out on the side of the house, and you can talk with her."
"All right," Harry said, bouncing back a bit. "Can you tell me if I should write Hermione, Ron, and Luna with my results tonight?"
Remus smiled. "Well phrased. No, I'd wait until you're back from London to write to anyone. If our plan works out well, be sure to thank Jones, Master J, Tonks, Dumbledore, and Arthur. If it doesn't, blame Tonks. The sequence of events is her idea."
"I thought you liked Tonks?"
Remus flushed. "I do, actually."
"Really? I didn't mean like that!"
"Oh! Still, yes, I do like her 'like that'." Remus sighed.
"What's wrong? Doesn't she like you?"
Remus snorted. "She has made it very clear that she's determined to, in her words, 'bag the man or bag the wolf'."
"Sounds kinky," Harry said with a grin, earning him a slap aimed in his direction that was easy to duck. "What's the problem?"
"I'm a werewolf."
"I've heard that. I take it Tonks knows."
"She does." Remus seemed depressed.
"Is it true that werewolves have great stamina?" Harry asked with a straight face.
"Of course! you should know that. . . ." Remus stared at Harry, and then blushed for the first time in years as he caught the implications.
"Tonks knows what she's doing," Harry said softly. "Does it mean you can't have children?"
Remus' blush intensified. "Yes, we can! Although, if something happens to Tonks I can't raise the children."
"Harry," Remus said seriously, "if I could have raised you, I would have. Blood magic or no blood magic, Dumbledore or no Dumbledore, living relatives or none. Sirius and I both loved you like our own son, and I still do. Had it been at all possible, nothing would have stopped me short of death."
Harry felt very warm over that idea, but still managed a comeback. "Then love Tonks, and have some of your own, so I can be the godfather who spoils them," Harry retorted.
"When the war is over," Remus replied, reflecting on the possibilities, "perhaps we will."
Petunia drove them into London early the next morning. Vernon and Dudley were disconcerted that Vernon couldn't see the parking space Petunia pulled into, although Dudley could if he concentrated.
Remus was waiting for Harry just outside the pub, and he quickly guided Harry through the pub and out into the Alley. Remus had sat Harry down late one afternoon the week before and explained the Potter finances to him. James Potter had inherited a small fortune from his parents when they had been killed in a massacre of Pure-Bloods opposed to Voldemort early in the previous war. James had also inherited money from a number of other relatives, who had also died in the conflict. While not quite in the league of the Malfoys, the resulting fortune was still very large. James had sold off some of the property when he could get a decent price for it, and invested in the Muggle world. The Trust he had set up had converted more property over the years. Harry would gain an income from the Trust when he turned 17, become a member of the Trust board when he turned 21, and inherit the whole thing at 30 if he wanted to dissolve the Trust. The gold in his vault was his to do with as he pleased; it did not represent his entire wealth, just his liquid assets.
Sirius' will from before his incarceration had also been filed that July. Andromeda Tonks had inherited all the property, but Harry would find 50,000 Galleons more in his account.
Therefore, Harry stopped by Gringotts and took 50 Galleons in cash and transferred 25,000 from his vault into a current account, so he could pay for large purchases by cheque instead of cash.
As they stood in front of the bank, Harry asked Remus, "Now can you tell me what's going on?"
"It's almost Ten-fifteen," Remus replied. "Be at the Leaky Cauldron at Twelve-thirty. Tom will have a parlor for you. Hermione came back into town Thursday night. She, Ron, Ginny, and Neville should be there."
"Not Luna?" Harry asked, disappointed.
"Luna is here," a soft voice said from next to Harry. Harry turned and saw her. Although Harry had put on some nine pounds of muscle that summer and had grown over four inches over the last two years, he was still only 5' 6. He was therefore looking directly into the only slightly-shorter girl's eyes. "Luna!" Harry took a step towards her, and then stopped, unsure what to do.
Luna smiled sympathetically. "You're looking very nice today," she said. Luna didn't care very much how people dressed, but Harry looked better in his new clothes that fit than he had in the ragged over-sized ones he'd often wore. He also looked more rested than she had ever seen him.
"You're beautiful," Harry said. Then realizing he'd said it aloud, Harry blushed. Luna blushed slightly as well.
Remus looked at Luna. She was wearing a work-robe that could use a pressing, scuffed shoes and totally mis-matched yellow socks, and a necklace made out of butter-beer caps. Her long dark-blonde hair looked like she'd just come out of wind-storm, and a pair of mis-matched plastic earrings (a radish and a yellow pepper) were just visible. She was thin as a rail, and had probably never worn make-up or nail polish. Her large eyes were blinking about one third as often as most people's, and their strange color proclaimed her a seer of some sort.
Then Remus saw the smile form on her face, and understood why Harry thought her beautiful -- she was happy to see Harry. Their hands seemed to move without either noticing, and they were soon holding hands, still looking into each other's eyes.
Remus nudged Harry. "Don't block traffic," Remus said with a smile.
"What? Oh!" Harry dropped Luna's left hand so he could face Remus.
"Go on. Have fun, just don't do into Muggle London or down Knockturn Alley."
"Thanks, Remus, and thank Tonks for me."
"I will." Remus watched the pair amble down the Alley, hand-in-hand, oblivious to the rest of the world.
As always, sorry that columns and 'true type' etc. doesn't show up on this site, messing up things like OWL scores.