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, Tabitha takes the teen...
Monday, August 26, 1996
Dream Harry found himself sitting on the foot of his bed. A glance at his clock showed that it was a little after 5:00. He glanced around and saw that Luna wasn't present, so he walked towards the wall that separated the two bedrooms, closing his eyes at the last minute.
Opening his eyes, Harry decided he wasn't totally surprised to see a Dream Professor Spellman talking with Dream Luna. The Professor looked up. "Hello, Harry. I was wondering where you were."
"I guess I half-expected you," Harry admitted.
"Good. When we're done with your Dream-training, you'll be able to defend yourself against other Dreamwalkers and similar attackers. It may also allow you to spy on Voldemort without his knowing it, and perhaps even attack him in this state."
"That's good news," Harry admitted.
"Let's get started. We'll do half an hour today."
"You two both look tired today," Hermione remarked to Harry and Luna at breakfast.
"Just restless," Harry remarked. That was true. Even before his Dream-training, he hadn't slept well. He missed sleeping with Luna.
"Shall we do our jogging?" Luna asked, to divert attention. The group agreed, and went to the treadmills.
Tabitha was impressed by the students' dueling abilities, especially Harry's. She decided that she could let them continue to self-direct themselves, with just some general supervision.
At 11:30, she sent the students to the showers and told them to 'dress Muggle'.
The group of teens, plus Tabitha, portkeyed to a hotel suite in a somewhat commercial neighborhood. They ate in an adjoining restaurant and then went shopping. Hermione's eyes lit up as they went into a large Muggle bookstore, but she frowned a little when they stuck to the section on chess strategy.
Their next stop was a hobby shop, where Hermione and Ginny were sent firmly to the knitting section, while Harry and Luna looked around for something to do.
After nearly an hour, Ginny and Hermione were ready and Harry and Luna still not certain, although Luna was leaning towards sketching. They walked a few blocks to a different shop, where Neville's eyes went very wide at the concept of creating bonsai. Tabitha arranged for his supplies to be sent to Hogwarts.
The next shop was another hobby shop, where Harry and Luna were again looking about, while Ron, Ginny, and Neville tried to help them decide on a hobby.
"There are two flaws with your plan," Hermione said to Tabitha.
"What are they?"
"The goal seems to be finding us something calming to do in our common room or dorm, and to be truthful, I don't know if we can ever get Harry to relax. Second, I don't know if Luna's Housemates would leave her at peace long enough to do anything in either place."
"Luna's not allowed into any of your rooms?"
"Of course not. Were you allowed to at the Ysgol?"
"Our physical plant was different from Hogwarts, I guess. Yes, we had a common room no one else was allowed into, but we also had one were they were, and some rooms for smaller get-togethers. And friends of the same gender could come to our floors until House curfew. We had individual or two person rooms or four person suites."
"Well, we don't. Students can really only meet across House lines in the library and during study times in the Great Hall, and even that is discouraged. And you'd better be studying."
"Let me guess, you can't eat together, either."
"Sometimes at breakfast or lunch someone will cross-over, but not too often."
"And Luna isn't treated well by her Housemates?"
Hermione explained the situation. Tabitha's eyes narrowed dangerously. "I'll go over her possessions, too. And I'll speak with her Head of House and Dumbledore. I don't care if they don't get along, but I won't tolerate bullying by anyone."
"You don't know many Slytherins, do you?"
"No, but you don't know any Red dragons -- that would be the Ysgol equivalent."
"True." Hermione paused. "Of course, I don't know how the nastier Slytherins will act this year. Most of their fathers were executed last month." She shuddered.
"Death makes you uncomfortable? Well, that's understandable. Try not to dwell on the subject too much. It will either make you depressed or lead to a great deal of existential angst, which can be worse."
"The voice of experience?"
"Yes, and let's leave it at that."
Hermione turned to fully face the professor. "Why exactly are you here?"
"Someone has to be. Lupin will be, but he's going to be missing at least a day or two a month, so they needed someone else. They needed someone who could be at Hogwarts, who can train you in and out of class. Hopefully, you will come to confide in me, since Lupin will not always be available and Toby isn't exactly the warmest person around. Apparently, my name came up, which is unsurprising, since I know Myrddin, Dorff, J, Toby, and Dumbledore. This gives Harry an extra alternative. Last June, all you had was this person Snape, whom I gather was not a good choice."
"THAT'S for certain!"
"So, this year you'll have Lupin, myself, Toby, McGonnagall Flitwick, Snape, and probably a few others, in case Dumbledore's not available." Tabitha smiled. "I can't answer for the others, but I'm not easy to get rid of."
"And what special training are you giving Harry? There must be something."
"J is on the Council. He can't spend so much time supervising Harry, let alone the rest of you. I'm not as good, but I should be adequate."
"And the hobbies?"
"You each need something to relax over. If you're working, even researching, Harry will feel he has to work on something, or brood. He's a good brooder, isn't he?"
Hermione gave the professor a wan smile. "One of the best."
"So, if you want Harry to relax, YOU have to relax. You need it almost as much as he does, but how can you get Harry to relax when you're zipping through a stack of reference works to research something to help him, even if you're having fun doing it? That would just make him feel guilty. I want the five of you in the common room for a few hours a couple of nights a week, relaxing, because Harry needs it. So if that means you and Ginny have to look a bit more traditionally feminine than you like, and Ron has to study some chess books, then that's what you're going to do."
"Sounds reasonable," Hermione agreed. "What? You thought we'd put up a fuss?"
"We thought it likely, especially you."
"Harry might never be my boyfriend, but I love him in every other way there is," Hermione said seriously. "I really do love him more than life itself. So does Ron. So does Luna. Ginny and Neville aren't that far behind. Understand?"
"Actually, I do." Tabitha looked over Hermione's shoulder. She turned to fully face Harry as he came up to them. "No luck?"
"No. Luna's going to get the sketching pads, though." Harry frowned. "I understand why you don't want Hermione reading for fun, but why can't I?"
Harry looked embarrassed.
"What? Dirty books?" Tabitha teased.
"NO!" Harry steeled himself with a shameful look at Hermione. "I . . . kind of like, well, Star Trek and Star Wars and Doctor Who and movies and shows like that. I understand there are books, too."
"There are. I saw a bookstore down the street. Let's see if we can find you some books."
Harry was staggered by how many Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars books there were. Tabitha made certain he had them all, plus many other novels, from Tolkien to the Hornblower stories.
Tuesday, August 27, 1996
"What are we doing today?" Ginny asked Tabitha after the morning dueling session.
"Good question. Lupin, Moody, and I are taking you to Diagon Alley. We have a parlor at the Leaky Cauldron reserved for Twelve-fortyfive, so get moving! We'll stay until Five, so plan on getting any shopping done that needs to be done! Don't forget to pick up your blazers and anything else at Malkins." She looked at the six. "MOVE!"
Early that evening, it was Ron and Hermione's turn to use the outside 'snogging bench'. After they had calmed down a bit, they leaned against the garden wall and relaxed, arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand. "Penny, well, knut for your thoughts," Hermione said.
"Just thinking how sad it is that city Muggles never get to see the stars." Sensing Hermione's surprise, Ron said, "What? Just because I wasn't all that great at astronomy doesn't mean I don't like just looking out at them. Until I went to Hogwarts, I didn't realize how much even the stars at home were, well, washed out."
"Muggles would call it light pollution."
"Glad they have a name for the problems they create. What were you thinking about?"
"She's great, isn't she?"
"She's different." Hermione thought a moment. "Maybe it's because she's an American, and from the more liberal side of American magic."
"Can you imagine what an Old Believer teacher might be like? Especially a strict one?" Ron shuddered.
"True, although I guess she could be from one of the more integrated groups. But even though she went to the Ysgol instead of the radical school in California, she's also at Salem. At first I thought they were exaggerating how good, and how liberal, they were at the Institute, but if she's an example, it might be true."
"I'll miss you," Ron said.
"Miss me when?"
"When you go off to Salem for advanced training. Once she gets to know you, Spellman will certainly make certain to recruit you."
"Ron, I really care for you. Yes, I love you. But you have to know I'm not going to be a traditional house-witch like your mum."
"I know," Ron acknowledged. "I don't know what that will mean, but I understand."
"That's something we can work out together. If we work things out, instead of arguing, I'm hoping we can stay together."
"I hope so, too." He frowned.
Ron sighed. "How far do you think Ginny and Neville have gone?"
"Why? Are you planning on picking a fight with Neville?"
"No . . . but the way they look at each other. I know, I probably look at you at lot, and maybe I look like a demented sheep some of the times when I do look, but not as much as those two do! I think Harry and Luna are at least as serious as Ginny and Neville, maybe even as serious as I am about you, but they don't . . . simper? Is that the word?"
"It might be," Hermione agreed. "Of course, Harry and Luna are pretty reserved people, just like I am. Would it make you feel better to know that Ginny and Neville haven't gone any further than Harry and Luna?"
"How about not as far as you and me?" Ron was met by silence. "Well?"
"Ron. . . ."
"Hermione, I don't want to fight with you about this, but I do want to know."
"All right, but not now. I'll tell you later."
Ron frowned, but agreed.
That night at 10:00, the six teens were sitting in the ground floor area they used for their study. Harry and Luna, and then Ginny and Neville went upstairs to the bedrooms, leaving Hermione and Ron. After five minutes, Hermione held out her hand to Ron. He noticed that she was nervous. Still, he followed Hermione silently up the stairs.
Ron was surprised when Hermione led him to her door. "Won't Luna and Ginny mind?"
"No; they're not in here."
"Then where are th . . . oh. Oh!" Then Ron's face darkened in anger. "OH!"
"No!" Hermione stated, and dragged him in the room, kicking the door shut. "Ginny and Neville have slept, as in just slept, together, as have Harry and Luna. No sex, Ron. No sexual contact. No mutual wanking, nothing beyond what we've done." 'Okay, so they've a lot more than we've done or are going to do, especially the wanking, but I'm not about to tell Ron that,' Hermione thought, before going on, "Now, they are going to be sleeping in the same room tonight, and yes, sharing beds. You may either sleep here, either in Ginny's bed or, if you promise to behave, with me, or you can go down and sleep on a sofa. If you try and break into your room, Harry will be very upset."
"Do you think I'm afraid of Harry?"
"Voldemort is afraid of Harry, Ron. Now, what will it be?"
"Really, the same bed?"
Hermione took off her bathrobe and slippers, revealing pink cotton shorts and a thin matching top. "I'm going to bed. Please, Ron -- join me."
Ron looked at his room and then at Hermione several times. Finally, he took off his robe and got into bed. Hermione was asleep in a few minutes. It took Ron quite a bit longer.
Wednesday, August 28, 1996
"So, what are we doing today?" Hermione asked Tabitha brightly. She had enjoyed sleeping with Ron, although he was rather snappish with everyone but her that morning for some reason.
Tabitha smiled and took out a knut. "Call it, Hermione. Heads or tails, Muggle or magical." She flipped it in the air and watched it fall.
"Heads, Muggle." Hermione looked. "Muggle."
"Alright, everyone! Wash up. Muggle dress; be here in twenty five minutes!"
As the boys changed, Neville asked, "Ron, do you have a problem?"
"What do you mean?"
"You've been giving me looks all morning."
"I don't like the fact that you're sleeping with Ginny. Even if that's all you're doing, and I doubt it is, I don't like it! I know, it's hypocritical to snog Hermione and sleep in the same room with her, and be angry that you're doing the same with Ginny. I don't care; that's how I feel!"
"Ron, I love Ginny. If we keep feeling this way, we might even get married in three or four years."
"Isn't that young?" Harry asked.
"For Muggles, maybe," Neville said. "Your parents and Ron's parents both got married less than a year out of Hogwarts. About a quarter of magical marriages occur within a year of the girl leaving school."
"Why the girl?" Harry asked.
"Because if they aren't in the same year the wizard is almost always older," Ron said, grudgingly.
"Exactly," Neville said. "I also know what I'm doing with my life, Ron. I'm not rich, but I do have a small estate, and I'm going to run it once You-Know-Who is defeated. And I want to share my life with Ginny. Maybe it won't happen, but don't ruin it just because you don't like me."
"It's not that I don't like you! I've always thought of you as a friend! If I could pick anyone, except maybe Harry, to care for Ginny, it would be you! Look, maybe I'm being unreasonable, but I don't want to see you two being . . . overly affectionate. I won't spy, and unless you hurt her, I won't, well, I'll try not to go over-board. Okay?"
"So, how many of you speak French?" Tabitha asked.
Hermione, Luna, and Neville raised their hands. Harry said, "I can read it, but I don't know if I can speak it."
"Well, we'll find out." Tabitha touched the portkey, and they landed in a Parisian hotel.
"Where would we have gone if it had come up 'magical'?" Ginny asked.
"Here, but instead of taking the Metro to shop along the river, we'd be walking ten blocks to the Rue des Batons, their version of Diagon Alley. Allez!"
"Oh, Ron! That feels soooo nice," Hermione moaned.
Ron grinned. They had walked a lot that day, and despite all their jogging, Hermione's legs and feet were hurting. He'd never given a massage before, let alone a leg-and-foot warm oil massage, but he decided giving them were lots of fun. He was just glad Hermione wasn't ticklish -- he knew he'd never be able to keep his hands off her, and this way she'd enjoy the contact as much as he did.
Ron was so concentrated on Hermione, he had no spare thoughts for what was going on in the other room. Had he known the four students there were doing complete body massages, and sensual ones at that, he would have been torn between attacking Neville and wanting to go as far with Hermione.
Harry had cast really good silencing spells on the beds, however, and so Ron never knew. The quartet had quickly agreed, and kept, to a 'don't look, don't tell' accommodation. They knew having Ron and Hermione in the same room with Neville and Ginny would never work, and Ron would never stand for Ginny and Neville being alone.
After the teens had done their Thursday morning workout, Tabitha ordered them to change early. This time, she had them cleaning, packing, and straightening up the mews. Dobby took just about everything except their Hogwarts blazers and a change of underwear with him back to Hogwarts. After lunch, Mrs. Weasley made a fuss over them, and then they were driven to the Leaky Cauldron.
After being shown their rooms, they were taken to a private parlor. To the teens' surprise, Tudor Myrddin, Henry Dorff, and Master J were waiting for them, as well as Jones, Remus, and Tabitha and a slightly portly wizard they didn't know.
When Harry had met Myrddin in July, he hadn't realized exactly who he was or how important he was. By now, The Daily Prophet had filled in the gaps. Myrddin was the Senior Deputy Minister for Security, Intelligence, and Law Enforcement in the North American Confederation, Dorff had recently replaced him as the Chief Hit Wizard, while Jones was perhaps the top active field agent. Master J was the number two wizard in the Australian branch of his Association. In addition, Myrddin and Johnson held top positions in the International, and Myrddin ranked a step higher than Dumbledore in the International Warlocks.
"Mister Potter, it's nice to see you again. Ms Lovegood, Ms Granger, Mister Longbottom, and Mister and Ms Weasley, I am Tudor Myrddin. I believe you know everyone except Thomas Lawrence here. I was sent, along with some other very good people, to see what could be done about Voldemort. We have cleaned out most of the corrupt members of the Ministry, and hopefully put the more incompetent members in positions where they can actually make a difference. And yet, it seems as if it still might come down to you, Mister Potter. We will do our best to prepare you, and to see that you don't face this problem alone."
He looked at the other teens. "You have had over a month to think about what your friendship with Mister Potter means. If you want out, tell Ms Spellman, Mister Jones, or Mister Lupin by the end of breakfast next Monday."