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, Hermione plays host to...
Tuesday, August 13, 1996
The one break in the pattern Ginny and Hermione had quickly established at been the Tuesday, when it had rained from just past midnight well into the afternoon. As the girls sat down to their salad lunch up in Hermione's room, Hermione asked, "What should we do this afternoon?"
"You mean you don't want to study?" Ginny teased.
"Don't act like your brother. I'm far enough ahead, even if he resists studying most of next week."
"You know he will," Ginny pointed out, "and you know what you will be doing instead."
"I don't know what you mean," Hermione grumbled.
"You mean you won't at least be snogging most of the day, assuming you don't go further?"
"Hermione!" Ginny shot back.
"You know witches should wait," Hermione pointed out.
"I know I have to," Ginny retorted. The blood/semen/secretions of 'the first time' was a powerful potions ingredient, used by couples to help insure their children, especially their first born, were magical, and also used in fertility potions and to cure impotency. Witches were spelled at birth to insure their hymens were not torn or broken before marriage.
"I have to as well," Hermione said. "Madam Pomfrey sends home a note to the parents of all Muggle-borns explaining the concept and offering the spells in the spring of our First years. My parents agreed to it."
"You don't seem too upset."
"I'm not thrilled about it," Hermione admitted, "but I've found some ways to break the spell if I really want to. And I would like any children I have to be part of the magical world."
"So you aren't planning on illicit relations with Ron any time soon?"
"I'm not planning on any greater physical relations with Ron any time soon!"
Ginny blushed, and whispered, "I've heard there are . . . other ways of . . . well, you know, besides, well . . . wanking."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "What?" Ginny demanded.
Hermione went over and plucked a book from the shelves. "I thought the four girls in my room were ignorant and innocent," Hermione said, "I should have guessed you'd be kept at least that much in the dark. Here, read this."
"Our Bodies, Ourselves?"
"Read!" Hermione walked out and came back a few minutes later. "Then we'll read this."
Ginny blushed even more when she saw it was called The Joy of Sex.
Needless to say, that was a very informative afternoon.
Wednesday, August 14, 1996
The sunny August weather returned the next day. After their swim, Hermione was spreading sun screen over Ginny's freckling body.
"Did you kiss Viktor?"
Hermione's hand paused. "I guess. Nothing serious, no passion."
"No," she said with a slight smile, "no tongue. You?"
"I never kissed Viktor in any way, with or without tongue."
"Very funny. You know what I meant."
"No, I haven't kissed, well, that way. I think Michael wanted to, but didn't know what to do or how to ask. Have you kissed anyone like that?"
"Actually, yes. Parvati and Lavender."
"Right before the Yule Ball, Lavender said we should all learn. She rather liked teaching all of us. She's a really good kisser," Hermione added, "much better than the one time Parvati and I kissed."
"Do you think Lavender's an . . . invert?"
"Invert? Oh, lesbian? No," Hermione said firmly. "She might be a bit more . . . hormonally driven than the rest of us, but she's not gay." 'Of course, she and Parvati could learn to do better silencing spells,' Hermione thought.
"Would you teach me?"
"Of course," Hermione said. "What are best friends for?"
Friday, August 16, 1996
Hermione waited with Ginny on the back stairs, Ginny's trunk on the walkway. "One last time?" Ginny asked.
Hermione put her arm around Ginny and they kissed gently. Ginny sighed and put her head on Hermione's shoulder. "I'll miss you," Ginny said.
"You'll be much too busy teaching Neville to miss me too much," Hermione pointed out.
"I guess. Of course, I can't start teaching Neville until Monday night."
"You'll probably grab him before the car is a block away," Hermione teased.
"Are you going to be snogging Ron all next week like we have, or are you going to go farther?"
"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "I'm not planning on going any further than heavy kissing. . . ."
"Laying around the pool, in next to nothing, for five afternoons, weather permitting."
"I don't think Ron would force me to do anything I'm not ready for," Hermione pointed out.
"True," Ginny admitted. "I think he might be a bit more persistent than Harry, or even Neville, would be though."
"That could be true," Hermione admitted. "I hope not too much so, though."
"Do you love Ron?"
"Of course I do," Hermione stated. "And I love Harry, and I love you. And I really like Neville and Luna. I'm not in love with any of you, and I'm not certain I'm in love with Ron. I'm attracted to him, but I don't know how I feel beyond that."
"Oh. . . . I guess that makes sense. That pretty well sums up how I feel about Neville."
"Have you really given up on your crush on Harry?"
Ginny shrugged. "I still . . . dream about him, think about him. But I think about Neville more. How about you?"
"You," Ginny said firmly. "Late at night, haven't you ever cast a silencing spell and thought of Harry, or has it always been Ron? Or has it been Ron and Harry?"
"All right, I have, about both and both together," Hermione admitted. "But that's all they were, fantasies. Nothing more."
"Good thing. Ron would never share, especially not with Harry."
"No, no he wouldn't. Do you think they'll work out as co-captains?"
"They won't fight about Quidditch unless they're fighting about something else," Ginny said firmly.
At that point, they heard a car in the drive. A limo with tinted glass pulled in, and the boot popped open. Luna climbed out of the back seat, wearing a pair of tight jeans, a stretched out yellowish orange jumper, and sandals. She helped Hermione take her trunk out of the boot, helped Ginny put her trunk in, and watched with bemusement as Ginny and Hermione hugged tightly and kissed lightly on the lips. The two girls waved as the car swept Ginny back to Grimmauld Place.
"Welcome to my home," Hermione said.
"It's beautiful," Luna said simply. "It looks like you and Ginny have bonded even more deeply. I hope you don't mind that I'm here."
This was said simply, but Hermione had learned that Luna's display of passive acceptance partially hid a feeling of isolation and rejection. Hermione stepped up to the slightly taller girl and hugged her. After a moment's shock, Luna returned the hug. "You're my friend," Hermione said firmly, then partially releasing the thinner girl. Hermione leaned back towards Luna and went up on her toes slightly, kissing Luna very lightly on the lips. "Never think you're a bother."
"Thank you," Luna replied with some emotion. She shook her head, as if to clear it. "This has become a very emotional summer," Luna admitted.
"So what do you think of Muggle housing?" Hermione asked as Luna sat on Hermione's bedroom floor finishing a cup of soup for lunch.
"It's beautiful, but no more typical than the Dursleys is, is it?"
"I suppose not," Hermione admitted. "My parents are very well off, and the Dursleys are fairly well off."
"You seem to have been trying to guide our conversation at times, when you're not making small talk," Luna said suddenly. "Are you nervous, are you unhappy I'm here, or is there some subject you want to talk about that you're uncertain how to bring up?"
Hermione wanted to massage her temples, but refrained. Dealing with Luna was difficult, compared to her other friends. The two girls were more or less intellectual equals, yet approached the world in very different ways.
"All right," Hermione said aloud. "I found Ginny was ignorant of . . . the technical side of intimacy. Have you seen these two books, or anything like them?" She handed Luna the same two books Ginny had found so informative (Hermione had brought The Joy of Sex from her parents' room that morning).
"Actually, Daddy gave me this one," Luna said, pointing at Our Bodies, Ourselves. "For whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be a magical edition. There is a magical edition of The Joy of Sex." She paused. "Daddy threw it away after Mummy died, but I saved most of the things he threw away."
"All right. It's just that all of us seem to be moving into relationships and Ginny had questions."
"Were you and Ginny practice-kissing?" Seeing Hermione blush a little, Luna went on, "Most of the girls in my dorm have done that, although they didn't include me. It seems like a fairly normal thing."
"Well, yes it is, and yes we were," Hermione admitted. "Have you and Harry. . . ."
"Figured out the mechanics? Yes." She paused and thought. "I had always thought that it looked rather . . . revolting. I was surprised how wonderful it actually is."
Hermione couldn't think of how to continue that line of thought, so she changed the subject. "Have you kept up on your studies, or is there anything I can help you with?"
"I've pretty well cleared everything except Runes. Perhaps one morning we can work through some questions I have about the O.W.L. work." She looked longingly at Hermione.
"I can't wait to be a Sixth year! After three years of Runes and Five of Charms, you'll finally be able to set magical runes! I don't know why, but that has always interested me."
"I am looking forward to that," Hermione admitted. "Why don't you show me what we need to go over tomorrow morning, and do it tomorrow and Sunday."
"Great! What do we do in the afternoons, then?"
"Ginny and I went swimming, and then sunbathed out by our pool."
Luna looked at herself. "Do you have any of the tanning potions available? I'll burn otherwise."
"No, but we do have the Muggle equivalents."
Luna nodded and finished her lunch. "Do you have a robe I can borrow?"
"Of course. Just let me slip this book back into Mum's bookshelf and we can go out."
Coming back a few minutes later, Hermione felt compelled to speak. "Err . . . Luna?"
"Aren't you going to wear . . . something?"
Luna cocked her head to one side and thought, puzzled. Then she looked down at her nude body. "Oh . . . you mean like a bathing dress? If someone can see us, I guess I should."
Luna, although taller than Ginny or Hermione, was much thinner. Hermione had dug out an old suit of hers that would fit. "Err . . . Luna?"
Did you want to shave your legs and under your arms . . . and maybe have a little trim as well?"
"I suppose. Nothing has ever been shown before, at least not to anyone but me. That is the convention, isn't it?"
"It is, at least here. Some places in Europe have other customs."
"All right," Luna said in her calm accepting way. "Could you show me how?"
"Thank you for liking me, not just accepting me. I understand why Harry does, and why Neville does. And I think I even understand why Ginny once rejected me and accepts and likes me again. Ronald really doesn't like me. He accepts me only because he sees Harry wants him to, but he doesn't seem to like me at all. You disagree with me much more than I disagree with you, but you seem to like me now."
"I accept you, and I respect you, because you earned it," Hermione told her. "I don't agree with your outlook and opinions, but I've learned you're not always as wrong as I'd like to think you are. I like you because you are nice and caring, and because you care so much for Harry. Harry is the younger brother I never had."
"Girls generally mature faster than boys."
"True. And you risked your life with us, for us really. Why did you do that? Ron was even more hostile than I, Neville was practically unknown to you. Harry. . . ?" She didn't quite know how to phrase what she wanted to ask.
"I liked Harry as a person, but had no stronger feelings for him at the time, at least none I was aware of," Luna responded. "Somehow, I knew when I saw Ginny and Harry outside my compartment last September that if they walked in, I would be called to help Harry fight the Darkness. The idea scared me, but as I talked with Harry, and then all of you, I realized you were all good people. And it was the right thing to do."
"So you came because you thought it was predicted?"
"No, I came because it was the right thing to do. You were called to the fight, too, back in your first year. Did you HAVE to go with Harry to save the Stone?"
"Harry told you all about that?"
Luna smiled. "He did. I did exactly what you did. I recognized the gathering Darkness. I recognized Harry as the person to follow. And I decided I should be a part of that crusade. I merely made a more informed choice than you were able to make at twelve."
"I have never regretted that choice," Hermione said.
"It could kill us, you know."
"Death isn't optional. We all die sometime," Hermione stated. "If there is any meaning to life, it's to do the best we can while living it."
"Then we do agree on something," Luna said. "Now, why don't we remove any hair you think unsightly or unnecessary, and then we can go swim."
Monday, August 19, 1996
Hermione thought that her long weekend with Luna went much better than she had believed it would. Her parents seemed to veer between bewilderment and bemusement, and her mother later confessed that Luna actually conformed to what she had imagined most witches would be like back at the beginning of Hermione's magical education.
Hermione had overcome some of her remaining shyness, and she and Luna had sunbathed nude Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (to her father's embarrassment). Hermione decided, as the pair sat in companionable silence on the back stairs waiting for Ron to show up, that Luna was still a very odd young woman, but a very smart, very sweet, very caring, and very likable one. Hermione vowed then to research every possible anti-theft spell. She would add more enchantments Luna's cloak and other possessions when she got back to Grimmauld Place.
"Looks like rain," Luna commented.
"Well, I wouldn't want to spring my bathing suit on Ron the first day."
"Or less," Luna commented.
"It will be some time between now and when Ron sees me nude, I promise you," Hermione swore. She decided to tease back. "Of course, if it rains, you can't snog Harry out on that bench you told me about."
"When Ronald is not around, I'm sure Harry will be more inclined to cuddle indoors, away from the flies. Perhaps, if Ginny is interested, I might even sleep with Harry and she can sleep with Neville."
Hermione's jaw dropped.
"Sleep, Hermione. That's all," Luna said.
Hermione wondered how Luna could say such things so calmly.
At the Ministry, Myrddin, Johnson, Dorff, Jones, Dumbledore, and Lupin were just sitting down to a meeting. "Before the rest of Council shows up, I wanted a few words with you about Mister Potter. I therefore asked Mister Lupin and Mister Jones to attend. Master J, why don't you start us off?"
"As you may know, Occlumency is a skill that must be practiced constantly. It can not be just picked up for random use. Mister Potter picked up the skills needed to prevent Voldemort from attacking him from a distance fairly rapidly. He has maintained those skills without constant supervision, but I believe he should be randomly checked by Professor Dumbledore here at least three times every month to make certain he at least maintains that level. I also believe a small room might be set aside, where Harry and his friends might meditate together."
"I shall look into that," Dumbledore promised.
"Do you think I might be able to visit the two boys that room with Harry whom I have not met? If they could also at least practice meditation, that might also induce Harry to spend more time doing it."
"I don't see why not," Dumbledore answered. "I can't promise you their interest, but they will at least listen."
"Then that is all for now. I shall finish off this month coaching Harry and his friends. Once school starts, I shall try to visit him at least twice a month."
"Very good. Mister Jones?"
"I have been fairly impressed . . . no, make that very impressed. Mister Potter has the greatest balance and fastest reflexes of anyone I've seen, and has a huge reserve of power. He has determination and compassion. He has the skills of a second year auror student but uses them like a veteran. The only reason I can beat him most of the time is because I know more tricks. He could beat anyone we know of on the other side except Voldemort. I believe, under the proposed training, he will be able to out-duel even him by his seventeenth birthday."
"But will he be able to kill Voldemort?"
"That I cannot answer," Jones retorted. "Fighting, dueling, come naturally to him. Killing is hard for most people, including Potter." He paused in thought. "Perhaps even particularly Potter. He is a very moral young man."
"What is this 'proposed training'?" Remus demanded.
"Potter is not just going to take Defense next year," Dorff stated. "He will also be spending several hours a week training, mostly with you if you will take the job. Those periods will be spent dueling. You will be at Hogwarts either as a security consultant or teaching some of the Defense courses, and will be expected to work with the Headmaster here in those capacities. Potter will also be doing physical training every morning." He turned to Dumbledore. "We expect that the times for Quidditch training will be adjusted so that Harry's team has equal access to the field, but at times that conform to Potter's schedule."
"Some will complain of favoritism," Dumbledore commented mildly.
"Do you object, Headmaster?" Myrddin asked.
"No, actually I don't."
"Then you may send any who object to see me," Myrddin stated in a harsh voice.
"For such a trivial objection?"
"Yes. Let them know where the favoritism comes from. And warn Professor Snape, since I imagine that's who you mean, that if I hear of him causing any trouble, he will also be coming to see me no matter what."
"Are you certain you wish to appear. . . ." Dumbledore stopped as Myrddin stood to his full height and glared.
"Was I unclear, Headmaster?"
"No," Dumbledore stated calmly.
Myrddin turned to Jones and Lupin. "Train him well for now. You stand in my place. You may go." Jones stood and bowed. Lupin took in the surprised looks on Dorff and Dumbledore's face, and followed Jones out.
"What did that mean?" Remus hissed.
Jones dragged Remus down to his office, where he then checked it for surveillance. Finding none, Jones put up his personal privacy wards. "Dumbledore is considered the most powerful wizard of this century in large part because he defeated Grindelwald, the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time."
"Correct. Although Voldemort is a more powerful wizard, Grindelwald was behind a goblin rebellion and two Muggle world wars."
"Exactly. Well, Myrddin has defeated two Dark Wizards at least as personally powerful as Grindelwald, although nowhere as dangerous politically. He is probably the most powerful and best-trained hit-wizard on Earth, and even though he's not as broadly knowledgeable as Dumbledore, I'd bet on him in a fight against anyone, even Voldemort, prophecy or no prophecy. He trained Dorff and he trained me, and he can still beat me in ten minutes on his worst day. And I'm supposed to be one of the best active hit-wizards there is."
"So . . . what that meant is, next summer Myrddin will take up Potter's training. Harry Potter will be his personal apprentice. That means as much to us as his being Dumbledore's apprentice would mean to you."
"I don't know if you like this Snape at all. If you do, warn him NOT to mess about with Potter. Myrddin will come down on Snape in an instant if he causes any more problems."
"Actually, I feel a little sorry for Severus, but I don't care for him too much and never have."
Jones smiled. "Then let him shoot off his mouth. It will only happen once if any of us hear about it."
"You actually like Harry, don't you? You don't show it."
"That's right," was all Jones would say.