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, Ron faces a threatened...
Tuesday, August 20, 1996
After their Occlumency and exercises, Harry and Luna sat down together and wrote Master J a letter. Both would have preferred to keep their actions private, but Harry had learned his lesson, and now knew when to ask for help. Both teens also had great respect for Master J, and knew he wouldn't inform on them on moral grounds, although he would if there were any safety concerns.
Harry then posted the work schedule for the rest of the week. Although he and Neville needed more work on their Anatomy (there would be a major exam at the first class in September which would determine if they could continue the course), the Sixth years had now completed (or in Ron's case, claimed to have completed) all their other summer work. Although Ginny and Luna had also finished revising for the O.W.L.s, both were willing to keep working on them. Harry and Neville were determined to help them now, so that they would have slightly more time with their girlfriends during the school year.
Hermione had helped by leaving a list of her Fifth year assignments, and the boys tried to recreate their Divination assignments. Although they knew Firenze might be teaching, he would likely have to teach more to the O.W.L.s this year than he had the year before.
Still, this left the quartet at Grimmauld Place free from 1:00 until 3:30. The couples retired to their separate rooms to 'rest'. From 3:30 until 4:30, they would have another dueling session under Harry's supervision, then half an hour of Occlumency followed by showers and dinner.
That night, Harry was even more nervous than he had been the night before. He realized this was more because of his potential Deamwalking than because of the romantic aspects. Luna recognized this, and therefore spent less time seeking her own pleasure and satisfaction than in giving both to Harry. Both were shy, careful, and very tentative in their explorations, and Luna showed she knew how to use scouring charms.
Afterwards, and she laid in Harry's arms, Luna whispered, "Just meditate and fall asleep as usual. I will be waiting, my love."
Ron did not enjoy quite as enjoyable a Tuesday through Friday as the boys at Grimmauld Place mews. The day had started off on a bad note when Hermione got an owl stating that Snape had turned down her request to take Potions as an eighth course. The fact that she had been allowed to take Law only partially cheered her. Hermione reviewed her anatomy all morning, and had made Ron work on his Divination even though he had claimed to be finished with it (he hadn't, and so gave in). He wasn't thrilled by the idea of doing the same routine every day, but gave in on that as well.
He wasn't certain if he was glad or upset that Hermione had actually scheduled 'snogging time' every day, from 11:00 until noon. He would have preferred it to be more spontaneous and longer. Hermione was determined to make certain things didn't get out of hand.
At noon, Hermione would stop them, straighten out their clothes, and then lead Ron to the high street. He had to admit that this was almost as interesting and fun as snogging in some ways. There were a number of fast food places, and Ron got to try food he had mostly just heard of. He decided to suggest some Italian and Chinese food be added to the Hogwarts menus at the next year's prefects meetings.
There was both a small cinema and a multiplex cinema nearby -- one just off the nearby high street, the other a 25 minute bus ride away. Ron enjoyed the movies more than he did television, and decided that although Muggle buses had nothing like the range of the Knight's Bus, they were a lot more comfortable to ride.
Ron found the evenings with the Grangers more uncomfortable. They operated on a level that he found rather strange, talking about ideas he just didn't understand. Hermione's parents were not boring or unpleasant in any way, but Ron couldn't imagine someone acting up at their table, or at the restaurants they went to two nights, like the Weasleys did at home or like people did at places like the Leaky Cauldron.
As much as Ron liked Hermione, and thought the wizarding world somewhat superior to the Muggle, he was starting to wonder if he was good enough for Hermione Granger.
That Tuesday night, as soon as Harry fell into a light sleep, he again found himself watching himself sleep. Luna wasn't asleep yet, but watching his sleeping self. Harry watched as Luna kissed him and fell asleep.
Within seconds, she was sitting next to herself as well. "How do you feel?"
Harry frowned. "Well, I don't feel sleepy, but physically, I don't really feel much at all."
"That's true," Luna admitted. "We can Dreamwalk while our mind is dreaming and our bodies sleep, but the temptation is to Walk all night. You really don't get much mental rest that way. You won't have much concentration at all the next day."
"Why do it?" Harry asked.
Luna frowned. "Do you generally like your dreams, Harry?"
Harry shook his head. "No. No, my dreams are actually fairly scarey. It's not quite as bad in some ways now, since I just see them, so I don't actually feel them any more, but in some ways, they're worse."
"Because now you remember them better."
"Well, I feel the same way. My dreams are, or were, often . . . ugly. I prefer Walking to seeing those dreams, when they come. Now, our minds need some cleansing deep sleep. When you are dreaming, if they are bad, simply stop watching. Tell your subconscious to let the bad feelings go, and then visualize yourself in bed. I saw your ability to do this, and awakened it." She frowned. "I think I should apologize for that."
"For doing it without my permission, or because you must have spied on me in my sleep?"
"Both," Luna acknowledged. "I am sorry if you feel I've invaded your privacy. I've tried not to Dreamwalk inside of people too much, and leave when it gets too personal."
"I'm sure Master J will have something to say about all this," Harry said, "but I forgive you."
"You're the only person I've met in my nightly wanderings who seems to have the ability," Luna said. "Not that I've seen everyone at Hogwarts," she hastened to add.
"Is that where you first Dreamwalked with me?"
Luna nodded. "It was the night we talked by the notice board. I walked through Gryffindor looking for you. You had looked so sad, I was worried about you. When I found you, you were having a nightmare."
"Which one?" Harry asked anxiously.
"You were locked in the cupboard under the stairs at the Dursleys, and you were trying to get out to save Sirius. You were . . . upset. You were crying out for your mother to help free you."
Harry had often done just that when he was younger and trapped in the cupboard. "And what did you do?" Harry asked in a small voice.
"I held you, although you saw me as Every Woman in some ways."
Harry looked puzzled, so Luna explained. "You didn't see me as me. You called me the feminine names that brought you comfort. Mostly you called me 'Mum' or 'Mummy', but you also called me Hermione, and both Mrs. Weasley and Mother Weasley, and twice you called me Luna. And you told us how much you feared going back to your Aunt's and how sorry you were to have failed Sirius." Dream Luna put her hand on Harry's cheek. He couldn't really feel it, just a bit of pressure, but he could tell it was there. "I decided then I would write to you from Sweden. You just managed to write me first, for which I am very happy."
Luna gently pushed Harry down onto the bed. "Now sleep, my love. If we both Dreamwalk at the same time, we will talk more. If we don't, we will simply watch."
"Come into my dreams any time you want," Harry told her, his eyes shutting. "I trust you."
Most of Harry's dreams were quiet, and when he fought out of them to Dreamwalk, he saw Luna was asleep. It was only around 5:30 that when he Dreamwalked he found Luna waiting for him. "Have you been waiting long?"
"Just a few minutes." She stood. "Come. Let me show you how this works."
"How it works?"
"Yes," Luna replied. "True masters of the art of Dreamwalking may soar to many other places, even other planes of existence. Right now, I at least am limited to where I may walk, although with a little concentration I am able to walk through doors and even walls."
"Is that how you came to me?"
"Yes, Harry." They joined hands. "Close your eyes. It's easier that way."
Harry wasn't certain what she meant, but trusted Luna. They walked much further than Harry thought possible, and when Luna told him to open his eyes, they were in the girls' room. Harry would have blushed a bit had he been 'in body', considering that Neville and Ginny were also sleeping in the nude atop their covers.
"Look carefully," Luna said. "What do you see?"
"Neville looks like Neville. Ginny seems to have some light, like a slight silver aura, around her head."
"She's dreaming. You may not have noticed, but you and I have a slight violet aura around us when we dream. Now, touch Ginny's aura with me."
Harry did so, and they were observing Ginny's dream from a distance, as the Harry of Ginny's dream flew her around the clearing at the Burrow, holding her tightly. Luna drew Harry out of the dream.
"Interesting feeling," Harry admitted as Luna led them back to the boys' room. "Did you every find out why the Ravenclaws pick on you?"
"It's mostly just a small group," Luna answered. "The girl who started it was a Fifth year my First year, and even she was just a part of the group, and she just didn't like me. They tend to be the pretty girls who want to be popular, but who don't have much else going for them, and their hangers-on."
"What do you mean?"
"Ravenclaws are expected to stand-out in class, but in reality, that just means being in the upper two-thirds to upper half of the class standings. So these are girls who would rank under the top quarter in any class if they're attractive, and those who want to be seen with them. Marietta, for example, is barely in the top half of your class, and not outstandingly attractive. Margot Smythe is the only one in my room that's part of the group. She's probably the prettiest of us, but below the half-way mark in class standings. She's barely a Pure-Blood, she has no special talents that I have ever seen, her parents are well-off but not rich. All she has are her looks and her membership in what even the members call 'the Clique'."
"Does any of that really matter?"
"Any of what?"
"Pure-Blood, special talents, whatever that means, or any of it?"
"Oh, Harry, you should know better than that. Look at your House year. You're the Boy-Who-Lived and brilliant Quidditch seeker. Ronald is your best friend, and well-known as a chess player and now Quidditch keeper. Dean is a well-known artist and Seamus a comedian. Hermione is close to you and the most brilliant student in fifty years or so. Patil and Brown are two of the prettiest girls in school, and are well-off and relatively friendly. Lavender is a Pure-Blood, and if foreigners counted so are the Patils. Only Neville and the other two girls are considered ciphers, and Neville probably won't be for long."
Harry shook his head. "I'm sure you're right, but it just seems wrong."
"You don't have that kind of behavior in Gryffindor?"
"No, not really. Not that I've seen, anyway." Harry frowned. "I'm surprised Flitwick tolerates it."
"I doubt he's aware of how wide-spread it is."
'He will be,' Harry thought. 'I'll talk with Hermione about it.' The pair went off to sleep.
Wednesday, August 21, 1996
Remus came to the mews at 8:15, summoning Harry and Luna to the main house at 9:00. As they both suspected, Master J was waiting for them. The Australian looked at them silently for several minutes, as if evaluating them and thinking of his response. Finally, he spoke. "I must admit, I cannot decide if I should be proud of you or angry."
"Then be proud of Harry and angry with me," Luna told him. "Harry told you about his new ability as soon as he discovered it. I'm the one who has always kept quiet about it."
"It is unusual for one as young as you to have even this limited ability. How was it awakened?"
"Just as you know it was," Luna answered politely. She turned to Harry. "One way to awaken the dormant ability like yours is for a Dreamwalker to sleep with him. My mother had the ability; I'm not certain but I believe it to be a traditional power in witches of her line. She always walked in my dreams, so far as I know."
"You may be correct, Miss Lovegood. There are several such families, including one in America. I took a few hours last night to see what Hogwarts had in its library, and found little which would help you. What you are both doing is literally Dreamwalking. Your spirit separates from your body while you are dreaming, and you are able to walk much like a ghost. Astral-projection, which we also sometimes call Dreamwalking, is a somewhat different, although related, experience. I supplied Dumbledore with a list of books, and he assures me that a friend of his who is known to you, named Dung, will be delivering copies soon. This is the same person who supplied you with those other books and your trunk, Mister Potter?"
Master J nodded. He turned to Luna. "Have you seen Harry's worst nightmares?"
"I doubt it. I know he hasn't seen mine."
"Do not reveal this ability, even to the other four students. I know of it; Dumbledore knows of it. We are likely to be supplying new teachers and perhaps some who will be known as 'research fellows' to Hogwarts. Fortunately, one we hope to recruit is a rather clever protege of mine. I shall inform her, and she shall coach you in the mundane aspects you currently have the power to do. Perhaps, if you desire and if you show the spiritual maturity, I shall coach you on the more glorious aspects of the art after the war is over. For now, please limit yourselves to walking in general and exploring each other's dreams."
To that, both students readily agreed.
Henry Dorff looked across the desk to the Headmaster, who was not looking happy. "Is this really necessary?" Dumbledore asked.
Dorff shrugged. "After your experience with Umbridge last year, I can understand your doubts, but yes, this is necessary. Even though some of us still doubt the centrality of Harry Potter - I mean, hell, we saw the kid born! -- there is little doubt that Voldemort believes in it. Therefore, we must place people at Hogwarts. After studying the needs of the school and the faculty, this is our initial suggestion. If you have counter-suggestions, please memo them to us, along with explanations." Dorff literally shook his finger at the Headmaster. "You can't just object as you usually do! Give us some good reasons, however, and we should be able to work things out. You should know me well enough after all these years!"
"Actually, I have an idea, or rather a set of them." Dumbledore pulled out a blank sheet of parchment, and three minutes of quick writing later handed it to Dorff.
Dorff looked it over, nodding a few times and frowning a few as well. "We'd feel safer with more people there."
"Then send them to Hogsmeade. The academic changes and aurors should be enough."
"Lloyd Trowbridge would be one of them."
Dumbledore thought, but then shook his head. "No, I only want faculty and our aurors here. If Lloyd is in charge in Hogsmeade, it would make me feel better about them, and better able to work closely with him, instead of merely through these people, whomever they are."
"All right. I'll agree. About this associate faculty member of yours. Are you sure you want him here?" Dorff asked. "He could cause more trouble than he's worth."
"No," Dumbledore admitted candidly, "I am not certain. I do feel he deserves the chance. If I am wrong, I shall have to deal with it, just as I shall have to deal with these three persons to teach parts of our curriculum. Do you really think one will really be accepted as a mentor by Harry?"
Dorff smiled. "Don't worry about Tabby Spellman."
"Is that who it is? Why didn't you tell me! In that event, I'm not worried about her at all. Her I know. Who are the others?"
"Jones and Tom Lawrence."
"Very well. I take back my objections."
Dorff shrugged. "I'll pass your suggestions on to Myrddin, Das, and Turgot this morning, and if they have no serious objections, I'll get the ball rolling this afternoon."
"I take it you have none?"
"None whatsoever. If you want Percy Weasley, you can have him!"
"Harry. . . ."
"Is Ron coming back Friday or Saturday? It was sort of left up in the air."
"Oh, Remus told me this morning that Ron and Hermione will actually be back Sunday." Harry looked out the window. It was now a rather chilly and blustery day for August. "Hermione's parents are taking Ron to some kind of cook-out picnic Saturday, if the weather is nice. Why?"
"We won't be able to, well, you know, keep the . . . arrangements we have, will we?"
"If you mean the sleeping arrangements, I doubt it. Hermione would have to be willing to sleep with Ron, because you know if he's not he certainly wouldn't go along with us doing it and neither would Hermione. If Hermione IS willing, then Ron would only go along if we slept two couples in one room and one alone, and he'd go crazy if it was you and Ginny alone."
Neville sighed. "Too bad. Even though we're not doing much -- in fact, in some ways it's almost torture -- I still like it."
"We're not doing much either," Harry admitted, "but I really like it, too. Of course, if we got to like it too much, going back to school would be rather difficult!"
"Is this a joke?"
"No, it is not a joke, Mister Weasley," Dorff stated coldly. "While we acknowledge you have some bureaucratic skills, we do not think highly of your flexibility or judgement. Considering the great ability of your father . . . yes, Mister Weasley, your father! There is a magical community of some sixty thousand in the British Isles, yet your father kept his department working at a very high state with only a fifth of the staff he should have. The fact that neither he nor his department were highly valued by this Ministry highlights some of the problems this Ministry has had for the last thirty years or so. So, since you lack his skills, we have kept you on at your present level only as a favor to him. We have not found you very helpful these past weeks, although you are far from being a problem. Therefore, when Dumbledore made this suggestion, we decided to approve it. Now, here are your choices. Take a year from the Ministry and work at Hogwarts, or join your father's old Office. We're expanding the Office from two to ten, and you would be the number four person there."
Dorff waved Percy out. "You have until tomorrow morning to decide to take up Dumbledore's offer. We will likely be in charge of this Ministry for at least the next year. If you succeed at Hogwarts to the satisfaction of Professor Dumbledore, the staff who are also our people, and two students, you may return to the Ministry for another try at near your current level."
"Which two students?" Percy asked from the door.
"Harry Potter and Hermione Granger." Percy grimaced and left. "And we'll see if you understand if that means teaching well, or if you'll just be toadying up to these people," Dorff said softly.