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, to Hogwarts.
"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."
"You don't know us very well, sir," Ron told Myrddin hotly. When everyone looked at him, Ron blushed but went on, "I'm sticking with Harry."
"WE are sticking with Harry," Hermione said even more firmly. Luna said nothing, but took Harry's hand in both of hers and put her head on his shoulder. Both girls gave Myrddin a dirty look.
"If you wish, we can take a formal pledge," Ginny, looking even angrier, spat at Myrddin.
"And it would just formalize how we feel," Neville said. "Nothing could increase our loyalty to Harry."
"Fine," Myrddin said, not bothered in the least by their display, "but again, you have until Monday to change your mind. Now, tell me Harry, do you have any opinions of Justin Finch-Fletchley, Morag McDougal, and Daphne Greengrass?"
"Justin's all right, although he can be a bit of a, well. . . ."
"Pompous ass?" Ron muttered.
"Well, yes," Harry said. "I don't know the two girls." He looked at Hermione.
"Daphne and Tracy Davis are almost friendly, which is saying a lot compared to most of the Slytherins of our year. Morag is very quiet, but very reliable from what I hear."
The teens looked at Myrddin, who passed the ball to Dorff. "Dumbledore has pursued a rather 'hands-off' laissez-faire policy in many ways, especially in his treatment of certain elements in the school. Granted, Potter here has benefitted to some degree, but so have what we may as well call the 'Junior Death Eaters', although their attitudes may have changed due to the events of this summer. The two prefects from your year, Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson, have been replaced by Blaise Zabini and Tracy Davis. Dumbledore doesn't like it, but he went along with it, not to punish them directly for their opinions, of course, but for abusing their power under Umbridge. He also agreed to creating an extra group of prefects."
"Justin Finch-Fletchley, Morag McDougal, and Daphne Greengrass," Harry said.
"For Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin."
"And I suppose I'm supposed to be the one for Gryffindor," Harry half-complained.
"No." Dorff turned to Neville. "Mister Longbottom would be the Gryffindor Security Prefect. You, Mister Potter, would be the Chief Security Prefect. The security prefects will be doing hall patrols, but would not have any of the mentoring responsibilities of the House prefects."
Harry nearly said no, but he knew that he should. "Very well, if Neville accepts, I'll accept."
"Good. Here." Dorff handed Neville a silver badge and Harry a gold one.
"Are there going to be Fifth year's doing this as well?" Harry asked.
"How do John Pritchard, Geneva Driver, William Lloyd, and Luna Lovegood sound?"
"Lloyd, and of course Luna, are fine. I don't know the others."
"Geneva is that Hufflepuff beater," Ginny said. "She's tough, fair, and honest. I'm surprised she's not the House prefect. Pritchard and his older brother would be the Slytherin beaters, if being friends with Malfoy didn't count more than ability. He's after Goyle and especially Crabbe for some reason."
"Sounds like a recommendation to me," Ron said.
"I'll have Tom and Tobias here talk with him and make certain he knows his limits," Dorff said. He handed Luna her badge. She held it in her hands, amazed. She looked up, a tear running down her cheek, "Thank you," she said softly.
"You're very welcome, Ms Lovegood." Dorff looked from Luna to Harry, and Harry suddenly realized he was under a Legilimency attack. He batted the intrusion away and glared at Dorff.
"As Alastor Moody would say, 'constant vigilance', Harry. Voldemort isn't going to give warning." Dorff suddenly swung his head at Master J and then at Spellman.
"'Constant Vigilance', sweetie," Spellman said with a grin, and Harry realized than that Master J and Spellman had attacked Dorff in sequence.
"TouchÃ©," he said. Dorff nodded at Harry. "My apologies, but you WILL be tested at random. Feel free to mentally retaliate in any way you see fit. I'm certain Professor Snape will welcome the challenge."
"Oh, great! We'll have no points by the end of term," Harry complained.
"Snape will treat you fairly," Myrddin stated.
"He never has," Harry warned.
"I know. He will this year."
"And if he doesn't?"
"If he doesn't, it's up to you, Harry," Remus said. "If you keep your mouth shut, as usual, then no one will ever know about it. If you tell one of us, we'll take care of it. That includes the unfair taking of points."
"Teachers can't revoke point taking," Hermione reminded Lupin, "they can at most ask the teacher to reconsider it, and need a reason."
"First of all, that might change," Dorff said. "Part of my job on the Council is to oversee Hogwarts. Considering what Umbridge did, we obviously cannot be too heavy-handed. On the other hand, we can't have the blatant unfairness of past years, either. Snape insists his actions merely redress an unreasonable hatred of his House. Well, Professor McGonagall, Tobias, Tom, and Tabitha are going to be going over the records of the last fifteen years, and seeing how each teacher has used points, and Tobias and Tabitha will be observing this year. Anything they report as unfair will resort in that person appearing in my office, or Tudor's, to explain."
Harry looked at Jones. "Really?" he asked doubtfully.
"I am a very fair man, Potter, no matter what else you may think of me. And, if there's one thing all of us at this table agree on, it's that we DON'T like bullies."
"Really?" Hermione asked, looking at Luna. Luna's eyes went wider than usual, and she shook her head, 'no.'
"Really," Tabitha stated. "And that will include any harassment of the prefects or security prefects. All such behavior WILL be reported to Tobias here if possible, and if not, to Tom or to me."
"Yes, ma'am," Harry said firmly. He had caught the by-play.
"What are you going to teach, Mister Lawrence?" Hermione asked.
The slightly portly wizard turned dark Prussian blue eyes on her which where so intense, Hermione squeaked with surprise. "Nothing that directly affects you, alas. You have quite the reputation as a scholar, Ms Granger."
Hermione colored a little at the praise.
"I will be teaching the Sixth and Seventh year Household Potions classes, the two sections of Fifth year History, and the Sixth, and Seventh year N.E.W.T. History. I'll also be teaching the Sixth and Seventh Year Household Charms classes." Hermione merely nodded, while Luna and Ginny looked at him with slightly more interest.
"Now, the landlord said we only had to tell him when we were ready to have him serve you tea," Myrddin said, starting to stand. Jones popped out of his chair to forestall him, and went in search of Tom.
"How's everything going, Tabby?" Tudor asked.
"Great, except for one minor personal problem." She turned to her right. "Would you mind helping me solve it, Harry dear?" she asked in a seductive voice.
The teens' eyes went wide, until they realized she was talking to Henry Dorff, not Harry Potter.
"Aw, not me?" Tudor complained.
"No, you're happily married now and Gwennie would kill me."
"If Harry objects. . . ." Tom teased.
"I am always at your service, milady," Dorff said hurriedly. Tabitha stood and tugged at Henry's massive left bicep. Dorff stood, powerfully built and just over 6 foot 4 -- he towered over Tabitha's willowy 5 foot 10. Tabitha pulled him into a passionate kiss just as Jones came back into the room. Tobias' eyes went wide, and he flushed slightly.
"Tabby! Harry!" Master J scolded. "What kind of lesson is that for the students!"
Tabitha broke the kiss, but stayed in the embrace. "Trust me, at their age, this group already knows how to kiss!"
"So they probably do," the shaman agreed, seeing that Ginny and Neville were now holding hands, Luna was if anything even closer to Harry, and that Ron had a hand on Hermione's upper arm.
"Besides," Dorff said, "I'll only be at Hogwarts once a week or so, and I won't always get to stay over."
"It's too bad Sabrina can't come over," Tabitha said. She turned to Hermione. "That's our daughter. She's starting her Fourth year at the Ysgol, and especially with all the trouble here, we didn't want to make her relocate for a year or two."
"Oh," was all Hermione could say.
Myrddin stood. "Sorry to interrupt your reunion, Harry, but we have that meeting in the other parlor. Tobias, Tom? why don't you join us? J?"
The five men left. Remus and the students stared at Tabitha.
"Sorry about that. Toby has always had a bit of a crush on me, and he needed some reminding that I wasn't interested. To be a lot more open than I should be with students -- that means I'd just as soon you didn't gossip about me too much -- I am bisexual, leaning to a strong preference in women. The one exception has always been Harry, I mean Henry, Dorff. And yes, we do have a beautiful daughter."
"And you're not . . . he's not . . . married?" Hermione asked.
"Active Confederation hit wizards aren't allowed marry, although they sometimes have long-term relationships. Rather contradictory, I've always thought, but that's the rule. Tudor only married his long-term partner last year. After the last war, Harry and I both felt rather traumatized. We spent the next year together, healing each other. Any other questions?"
"So you're not in any . . . other relationship?" Ginny asked, rather tentatively.
"Not right now, no. I have been in the past." At that moment, the table was filled with food. "Let's have tea."
The sextet enjoyed a quiet evening in a suite on the top floor of the pub. When it came time to go to bed, Hermione pulled Ron into one bedroom, while Ginny led Neville into the other. Harry and Luna were quite comfortable on the large sofa.
Tabitha checked on the two young Dreamwalkers, and was satisfied that Harry had learned enough to prevent Voldemort from attacking him through dreams. Whether or not Harry could learn enough to attack Voldemort in this way was still an open question. In any event, she and Tobias Jones both believed he had learned enough to survive his next encounter through skill, rather than just luck.
Despite Ron's protests, the group was up early the next morning. Although the train left at 11:00 as always, this year the prefects (including the security prefects) had to be there when the barrier opened at 9:45. Tabitha, Remus, and Tobias took the floo with them to the platform, where Tonks and five other aurors were waiting.
"Mister Potter, Ms Lovegood, Mister Longbottom, please come with me," Jones commanded.
"The regular prefects, come with me," Tabitha added.
Justin Finch-Fletchley, Morag McDougal, and Daphne Greengrass all arrived a few minutes later. Harry didn't know Morag at all, and really had had little reason to think of Daphne outside of Potions. Morag was essentially short and dark brown -- tanned skin, with dark brown hair and eyes. Daphne looked like she could be one of The Sun's 'page three' girls. Harry knew even less about John Pritchard and Geneva Driver. Pritchard and his older brother Graham were slightly taller and more muscular than Goyle, Malfoy's huskier and slightly less-dim flunky. Both Pritchards looked intelligent, and if not nice, at least not evil. Geneva Driver was short and light brown (light tan, medium brown hair, slightly hazel brown eyes), but very stocky with solid muscle over a slim frame.
Jones went over the responsibilities of the security prefects, both for the train ride and in general. "I know feelings could be volatile," he concluded. "Professors Lupin, Spellman, Lawrence, and myself, plus the six aurors, will be on the train. You keep a special eye on the First years -- a lot of them will be even more nervous than usual. Any questions? No? Then get your luggage into the first car and come back here. The aurors, Professor Spellman, and myself will be based in the last car, and Professor Lawrence will be there the whole trip, unless you need him. Patrol the platform until the first whistle. Then Sixth years get on the last car and make your way through the train. The regular prefects will be doing the same, in pairs. Once the last whistle blows, the Fifth years do the same. Professor Lupin should be sending you all off, and then following who ever is last through the train. The Head Girl will be sending you off on patrols during the trip. Understood? Good! Get going!"
"WHO is THAT?" Daphne hissed as Harry helped her with her trunk and cat carrier.
"That's Tobias Jones, an American hit-wizard," Harry answered. "He's one of the people teaching Defense this year, and is in charge of security."
"A hit-wizard? I guess the new Council is taking things seriously at last," Morag said.
"I can understand that, but he's not very. . . ." Daphne searched for a description.
"Sympathetic?" Luna supplied.
"He's a prick, but a very skilled one," Harry said bluntly.
"You know him?" Geneva Driver asked.
"We worked together a little this summer," Harry answered. "He's very good at what he does."
"You'll also all find I have EXCELLENT hearing," Jones boomed from behind them. "MOVE!" The prefects and security prefects moved. Coming out the carriage door, however, Jones caught Harry's eye and actually winked.
Harry suddenly understood. Having a tough image was exactly what Jones wanted. He would be the bad cop, Spellman the good cop. Lawrence would no doubt play whatever part was most needed at any given time.
Katie had the regular prefects making the rounds on the platform, while the eight security prefects stood in pairs at four strategic locations. The number of students looked about the same as ever, so far as Harry could see -- if anything there seemed to be more little kids running about. Some members of the DA came up to him and Luna to ask about the DA or just to ask about the summer, but most other students avoided him. When Cho and Marietta saw them, they shied quickly away. Malfoy and his two goons passed by with a sneer.
Finally, at 10:50, Katie gave a signal and the Fifth year prefects started moving through the crowd, calling for everyone to get their possessions on board. At 10:54, the first whistle sounded. The Sixth year prefects and security prefects moved through, calling, "Five minutes! Everyone on board! Five Minutes!" At 10:57, the second whistle blew. "Get on or stay behind!" the Seventh years called out. Promptly at 11:00, the Hogwarts Express pulled out.
The Prefects' car was totally open except for the loo. Katie ran a quick general meeting once Remus Lupin had joined them. She would go into greater detail with the Fifth years about their duties once the upper-year patrols got started.
It was well after lunch, on Harry's third pass through the train, when Draco Malfoy confronted Harry, along with Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott. Crabbe and Nott backed Draco up, while Goyle watched in the other direction.
"We're going to get you, Potter," Draco said in as menacing a tone as he could. "You're dead."
"Why?" Harry demanded. The three Slytherins looked confused. "Again, I ask why, Malfoy? Because your fathers tried to kill me, and got caught when they failed? Because despite being Pure-Blood bigots they decided to follow a Half-blood lunatic who never tried to rescue them? No, don't try to blame me, Malfoy."
"What do you mean, 'Half-blood lunatic'?" Draco hissed.
"I know your Master better than you," Harry answered. "His name at Hogwarts was Tom Marvolo Riddle. His mother was the last known heir of Salazar Slytherin, his father was a Muggle. Your father planted an avatar of a teen-age Tom Riddle in the school our Second year. That avatar was the heir of Slytherin."
Draco looked confused. He obviously had no idea what Harry was talking about. Harry half-turned. "Watch," he commanded. Harry drew his wand, and wrote 'TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE' in the air, and then rearranged the letters. 'I AM LORD VOLDEMORT' hung in the air for a few seconds, until Harry wiped them out. Harry glared at the three young men. "I'm not the major cause of your problems, Malfoy. Blame someone else."
Draco looked at Crabbe and Nott. Crabbe just looked confused, but Nott looked thoughtful. Harry could tell even Goyle had been listening. Malfoy looked back at Potter.
"Look," Harry said, "You don't like me. I don't like you. Fine. Learn who it is that led your fathers to prison, and then left your fathers in prison to be killed before you decide to follow him."
"You might be right," Draco said slowly. "I still hate you, and all your friends." He turned to the others, "Come on."
Professor Spellman came up to Harry a moment later, although he hadn't noticed her before. "Where did you come from?" Harry asked.
"I don't have to be seen, and I thought I'd leave that up to you. Well done."
"Do you want to fill me in on Luna's troubles, or shall I have Hermione do that?" She was curious to see if Harry would tell her, since he didn't know Hermione already had.
Harry thought about that a few seconds. "Ask Hermione, maybe Sunday, and then I'll be happy to fill you in on anything you still need to know afterwards."
"Fair enough." She slipped by Harry, going back towards the Prefects' carriage.
"Firs' years! Firs' years, o'er here!"
Harry and Luna made their way over to Hagrid. "Hi'ya Harry. An' you must be Luna Lovegood, righ'?"
Luna merely nodded her head. She had never been this close to the half-giant.
"How's your brother, Hagrid?" Harry asked, after they had greeted each other.
"He's fine. Working with some o' Dumbledore's frien's, o'er in tha Urals." Harry understood that meant Grawp was helping out with the remaining giants still. "Now, you bes' be off! Got us a right large class this year, tha bigges' since the late Sixties."
"He's nicer than I expected from what some of the Ravenclaws have said," Luna offered.
"He's really the nicest person you could meet," Harry stated. Harry and Luna strolled towards the carriages. "I wonder why the class is so large this year," Harry pondered.
"Baby-boom," Luna answered. "Births started going up the year after You-Know-Who . . . I mean Voldemort's defeat, but they exploded after 1985, and the birth rate has been increasing ever since. They'll probably have to hire more faculty in a year or so."
"Oh." Harry then noticed the thestrals. He and Luna stared at them. One shook its harnesses at them in what could have been a friendly gesture.
"I'm not certain, but I believe that's the one you flew," Luna told Harry.
"Beautiful, aren't they?" Tabitha said from behind them.
"So you can see them, too?" Harry asked rhetorically.
"Unfortunately. Now, get in the carriage. Meet up with your friends in the Great Hall." Harry did as he was told, and they rode up with three very shy Second year Hufflepuffs.
The Sorting Hat made another plea for House unity for the greater good, and then, much to Ron's complaints, took its time Sorting the 84 students, which was about twice the size of Harry's class. In the end, Hufflepuff ended up with 24, Ravenclaw and Slytherin 21 each, and Gryffindor 18.
After singing the school song ("I was hoping they'd forget that again," Ron complained), Dumbledore allowed the Feast to begin. Afterwards, the new staff arrangements brought about a great deal of surprise and speculation.
Harry had asked that the security prefects stay back a bit, so he watched Ginny and Oliver Wood's younger brother Leo escort the Gryffindor First years out. After a short conference, the security prefects agreed on a time to meet the next day, and then Harry, Neville, and William hurried off to Gryffindor.