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, the International goe...
Saturday, September 2, 1996
Harry and his five close friends, plus Seamus and Dean, were up early the next morning. They and the other prefects and security prefects were the only ones allowed into the small workout area, but the only ones interested that morning were the sextet and Harry's other two dorm mates. It would take a few weeks before most of the others used the equipment even on a part-time basis. After a workout, the group went back to their dorms to shower, and then made it to breakfast by 7:45.
At breakfast, Harry found a note asking him to meet with Dumbledore, which rather spoiled his hopes for some flying with Ron. When he arrived right after finishing his own breakfast, he found Spellman, Jones, Lawrence, and Dorff finishing their breakfasts with the Headmaster.
"We have news, Harry," Dorff said right out. "Objectively, some of it's not good or bad, although you might feel it's good news for you."
"All right," Harry responded.
"This is all confidential. Share it only with your five friends, and only if they agree to keep it amongst yourselves and only where we tell you it's safe to speak. Meet with Lupin after this, and he'll tell you where the six of you may meet in private. Agreed?"
"Voldemort has left the Urals and moved south. The remaining giants have refused to go along with him, as have the small hidden communities of wizards he was trying to influence -- although some may join him later if he picks up any momentum. That's mostly good news, of course, at least for the moment. He is now in Afghanistan. The small magical communities there have been under attack by the fundamentalist Muggle government, after enduring being caught in the cross-fire of the Muggle wars there in the 1980s. Voldemort is hoping to rally those communities to his side, slaughter the local Muggles, and use that as a base of operations. The International has arranged for a squad of volunteers, aurors, and hit-wizards to confront him. Hopefully, we can at least drive him out without causing a total upheaval in the magical and Muggle communities. If not, hopefully we can at least drive him out."
"Are you going?" Harry asked.
"In a few moments, in fact," Dorff answered. "I'll be the co-leader of the mission."
"Good luck, sir, and be careful." Harry smiled. "And thanks for telling me."
Dorff smiled. "Let's see, in order, thank you, I'll try, and you're welcome." He glanced at his watch. "Actually, I should get going." He stood, and Tabitha stood as well, hugging him very tightly. Harry could see that this time it was not for show, but very genuine.
"Harry," Dorff said as Tabitha broke away from him, "Lupin's office is on my way out. Walk with me."
"Harry. . . ."
"Barring a brilliant victory or great defeat, there won't be any news of this action until it's over, which could easily take several months."
"So, please, don't bother Tabitha for information. If she gets anything, she's to share it with you. If she doesn't, and again she probably won't because we won't be in contact too often, then obviously she can't share anything with you. So please, don't bother her. She'll be worried enough as it is."
"Yes, sir." Harry looked at the big man. Whenever he, Jones, and Myrddin were next to each other, it was if their features blended and the only thing that distinguished them was their hair color (Myrddin's black, Jones' light brown, and Dorff's reddish chestnut). Alone, they were easier to read. "You love her, don't you sir?"
"I met her my first day at school. At eleven, you don't know what love is. I did know from the moment I met her that I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could, even if I only realized it was love well into our Third year. We were Housemates, and also worked togther for five years of druidical training. She's the light of my life and the mother of my only child. She has Walked in my dreams since I was twelve just as Ms Lovegood does in yours. Does that give you an idea of how I feel for her?"
"So, don't give her too hard a time," Dorff said with a smile.
"Yes, sir. We'll make time to be with her."
Dorff's smile grew. "You are a bright one, Harry Potter."
"I'm learning. Good luck, Harry Dorff." They shook hands, and Harry went into Remus' office.
Remus had borrowed the Marauder's Map and had found two locations for Harry take meetings. Although in different parts of the castle, they were very similar. Each had two suits of armor flanking a tapestry on the wall of a corridor. Simply by being identified by either of the suits of armor and giving the password allowed a person to pass through the tapestry to a small room.
"Why isn't this system used more often?" Harry asked as they moved from the Security Prefect Room, which was between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff common rooms, towards the one to be used by Harry and his friends, which was between the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw towers.
"The charm is limited to twelve people at a time. Besides the eight security prefects and yourself, that will be Spellman, Tonks, and Jones." Tonks would be assisting with security at Hogwarts that year. "In addition, the regular prefects, myself, Lawrence, and the Heads of Houses can call in, although we can't actually enter. You also saw the two portraits, correct?"
"Right. Those can relay messages, too."
"Exactly. And of course the Headmaster can override any password in the Castle. We'll find the same set-up for your little group to meet, except that I'll be allowed in there as well. Again, the Heads of House can call in, while Spellman, Jones, Tonks, Lawrence, and I can enter."
"Sounds like a good plan." They reached the next room, and this time Remus went in with Harry. After they came out, they walked together. Harry was curious where they were going, but said nothing. After a while, they reached the alcove with the hump-backed hag.
"Two more things, Harry. First of all, this exit is now spelled shut. I'm sure you understand the need."
"The Map? Really?" Harry had missed it.
"I made some copies of it. We had always meant to, but we never actually got around to it. Now, the map as we designed it will only reveal a Marauder when asked by a Marauder. I mis-spoke the night we uncovered Peter. I had been asking just for Sirius, but that night I said 'identify Marauders.' Anyway, I've added you to the Marauders, so you won't show up on your map if it's stolen. Now, any questions?"
Harry thought. "One, although it's not about any of this."
"Do you know why Mister Dorff is going to Afghanistan? I thought Professor Jones was in charge of chasing Voldemort down?"
"That was the original set-up," Lupin admitted. "That was before Myrddin and the others decided that in the long-term, you would be Voldemort's primary target once he came back from the giants. Myrddin, Dorff, and Jones are three of the best-qualified hit-wizards there are. Myrddin can't go, since he's head of the Council. Jones can't go, because he's committed here and they couldn't find anyone trustworthy and skilled enough to take his place on short notice." He shrugged. "I don't think anyone is happy about the switch, except Dorff."
"I hope Professor Spellman doesn't blame me," Harry said.
"I doubt the idea has even occurred to her, Harry." Remus smiled at Harry. "So, what are your plans for today and tomorrow?"
Harry sighed. "This afternoon, tomorrow morning, and tomorrow night, Hermione is having some big review sessions for the anatomy test Tuesday morning. Everyone who wants to take the class is invited."
"Good luck!" Remus said. "What else?"
"Ron is having an open practice for Quidditch hopefuls today and tomorrow afternoon. I'll be there tomorrow." It was too late to join Ron now.
Harry frowned. "And I'll be seeing Luna tonight and hopefully tomorrow. Why?"
Remus looked at the Map to verify they were alone, then he pointed his wand at it and said something Harry never thought anyone would ever say: "I love Snivellus." He looked at Harry. "We wanted a password no one would ever guess. Now look."
Harry saw six new rooms were outlined in pulsing red. "These rooms are very private, or at least they were twenty years ago and five of them were still secure three years ago. We used them as, well . . . Sirius' term was 'love nests.' Check them out. Make certain there aren't any paintings -- we didn't know the paintings were informers, although we should have guessed. If any look undisturbed for twenty years or so, well. . . ."
"I get the idea," Harry said, very red in the face. "Thanks."
"You might want to check these two out. Fred and George used this one; be careful to check for pranks. Maybe you can tell Ron or Neville about it if it looks undisturbed."
"But not both," Harry said with a grin.
"Oh, my, no! Give that one to Ron and perhaps this one to Neville. I promise not to tell anyone about them, barring an emergency. You might want to check this one out. I . . . well, I used this one. When I left, there was an unopened bottle of Scotch, unhexed of course. I used it as a check -- I figured anyone who came across the room would at least take a drink."
"Why didn't you take the bottle with you?"
"I don't like Scotch." Remus grinned. "Don't set a trap with bait you might take."
"Won't you need it for you and Tonks?"
"Don't be cheeky, pup! Tonks and I are sharing a very nice suite of room. Now shoo!"
"Arf!" Harry teased back.
Except for some time spent with Luna in Remus' old snogging room, the highlight of Harry's weekend was finally mounting his broom Sunday afternoon. There were any number of students in the stands watching, some to support their friends in Gryffindor, others scouting for their House teams.
Luna sat next to Hermione, Lavender, and Parvati. "Thank you," she said while sitting.
"For what?" Hermione asked, puzzled.
"First of all, for not making Harry study anatomy this afternoon." She nodded towards where Harry was leading a group of flyers through warm-ups. "I have never seen Harry so care-free as he is right now."
"He's always that way on a broom," Parvati said.
"Since the first time he touched one in flying class," Lavender agreed.
"As much as he could use some more study time, this will do him more good in the long-run," Hermione said. "What?" she demanded when she saw Parvati and Lavender's surprised looks, "Am I really that much of a swot?"
"Sometimes," Parvati told her. "The few exceptions have nearly always centered around Harry."
"You seem happy with Ron," Lavender went on, "but we always thought you'd end up with Harry."
"Not that you and Ron don't make a nice couple, or you and Harry," Parvati said to Luna quickly.
"I do love Harry, just not the same way as I care for Ron," Hermione told them. She looked at Luna. "I'm glad you and Harry are together. Truly."
"I know," Luna said simply. "Secondly, apparently you and Harry told Professors Flitwick, Lupin, and Spellman, and Padma, some of my personal business. I should feel very upset and violated, but because I know you did it out of concern for me, I will thank you."
"Padma called a meeting of the Fourth through Seventh year Ravenclaw girls before dinner yesterday," Parvati said.
"No one told me," Luna said with a slight pout.
"They were discussing you," Parvati returned. "They could hardly do so with you there! Anyway, Padma, Lisa, Mandy, and Morag laid down the law to them, telling them to leave you alone, unless they wanted to risk being expelled. Four of your roommates agreed, and backed them up."
"Maureen, Deborah, Merry, and Diana," Luna suggested. The sixth girl actually hated Luna and was part of Cho Chang's clique. Once the bullying had started, she had been the one who had kept it going.
"Exactly. Well, Chang apparently threw a fit, and she and her friends aren't speaking to the others."
"Margot Smythe slept with the Seventh years last night," Luna told them. "They're claiming they are going to draw up a petition to rearrange the top four years by friendships instead of by year. I really would prefer we all got along as we were instead."
"You've tried that for over four years," Lavender pointed out. "Look as us. There are five of us, and we've always been divided two, two, and one." She looked at Hermione. "We've had a few disagreements, but even last September we were civil to each other, weren't we?"
"Barely, but we both tried and we managed," Hermione agreed. Lavender had suggested the Ministry and The Daily Prophet were right about Harry's lack of stability. After the initial blow-up, they had still managed to be civil, until Lavender decided Harry was right after all.
"My point is, it takes both sides to be civil. You've tried, they haven't. Don't feel badly because they've been called on it."
"Thank you," Luna said.
"So you're dating Harry," Parvati said with a smile. "I hope he's a better date than he was at the Yule Ball."
"You know, we haven't actually been on a formal date, let alone a dance," Luna mused. "We'll have to see how they go."
"No offence," Lavender said carefully, "but you're dressing very differently so far this term, compared to the last two years or so. It looks good on you."
"Those girls were stealing and hexing her clothes," Hermione said with a huff, "and mixing in any stray clothing that more-or-less fit. Ginny and I helped her go through her things and pick out some new clothes. And Professor Spellman and I put hexes on everything. If anyone steals anything, they'll be sorry."
Lavender turned to the two girls. "You know, some of us have been meeting Saturday mornings. We do our hair and nails and talk. There are girls from all different years and Houses. Even Ginny comes sometimes, but the Ravenclaw clique goes off on their own. Why don't both of you start coming next week? It's only from Eight to Ten. If Padma can find the time, you two can."
Parvati told Luna, "Your other roommates usually show up, and even if we don't study then, we talk about classes and set up study times and the like. Please come, both of you."
"Thank you," Luna said in a small voice. "I will."
"We will," Hermione confirmed. Then she frowned. "But why?"
Lavender and Parvati looked at each other, then Lavender said, "I was so wrong last year. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back. He's out there somewhere, but sooner or later he'll be back in Britain. Our families both suffered losses last time. We could be hit again."
"Lavender lost an uncle and his entire family and some other cousins, I lost three cousins and their families," Parvati said softly.
"Harry seems to be at the center of this somehow, even though that doesn't really make sense. He is, isn't he?"
Luna and Hermione exchanged glances. "He is," Hermione said, "but we're not allowed to explain what little we know."
"So, if he's at the center, then he needs you two to support him," Lavender concluded. "That puts you two as Harry's main supports."
"And Ron," Hermione protested.
"To a degree," Lavender agreed.
"But only to a degree," Parvati said. "Ron, Seamus, Dean, and even Neville and Ginny are secondary supports. Harry respects you, Hermione. You, and now maybe Luna, are the only person who can argue with him without him totally exploding, and you know it. None of us likes that you're almost always right, but you are, at least compared to the rest of us. Harry knows that, too."
"So, if you two are Harry's main supports, we are going to support the pair of you," Lavender said firmly.
"We're going to round up general support for Harry, too. We should have done more last year, and we failed Harry. We won't fail him again."
"And we won't fail you."
"So we only have one more question," Parvati said, her face losing its serious mien.
"What's with the knitting?" they asked together.
Coming back towards the castle an hour later, the group of observers were met by Padma and Lisa. "What's wrong?" Hermione asked.
"Quite a bit, actually," Padma stated. "Come on," she told the group. "Parvati, why don't you wait for Harry? Bring him to the Infirmary."
"What's happened?" Parvati demanded.
"Cho and her clique decided to teach Luna a lesson. They apparently thought the way to get around the hexes on Luna's trunk and possessions would be for all of them to aim reductor curses at her stuff at one time."
"Are they really that stupid?" Hermione demanded. "The trunk alone, even before we reinforced it, would have reflected the curses back at the senders!"
"Apparently, they were that stupid."
"Are, are they all right?" Luna asked in a slightly panicky voice.
"No, although none were killed or maimed," Lisa answered. "Some of their parents are here, and are kicking up quite a fuss."
"Oh, Merlin! I'm going to be expelled!"
"No, you're not," Hermione said firmly. "Every hex I put on your things was legal, and I'm sure all the ones Professor Spellman put on them were as well. Our trunks even came with protections, so they're legal. They were all warned the hexes were there. They are all old enough to know better, and they are all old enough to know that shooting a reductor curse at anything without the supervision of a staff member is grounds for expulsion."
Luna recaptured her poise. "I hope you're right."
Entering waiting areas just outside the Infirmary proper, the students encountered a group of parents that were indeed demanding Luna and Hermione's expulsion and threatening law suits. Professors Spellman and Flitwick were repeating the same arguments as Hermione, but were being out-shouted twelve to two. When he arrived, not even Professor Dumbledore could calm the parents, by then the full compliment of fourteen, since as soon as he quieted some of the parents, others restarted the threats and yelling. He was tempted to quiet them all with a spell, but knew that would only make the problems worse in the long run. He rather hoped the parents would run-down soon.
Parvati, Harry, Ron, and Ginny had arrived by then as well, and the students stood around Luna, supporting her. Forty minutes after Hermione and Luna had arrived, the room was suddenly flooded by aurors, who separated the groups, and quieted the parents by the simple threat of arrest.
Then Tudor Myrddin swept into the room, followed by Thomas Lawrence and Tobias Jones. Myrddin glared at everyone equally, and then turned to Dumbledore. "Headmaster, please explain why Professors Jones and Lawrence felt in necessary to summons me." He glanced at the irate, grumbling parents. "If anyone else so much as squawks, stun them!"
The Headmaster, followed by Flitwick and Spellman, explained the situation. Myrddin turned to the parents, who by now were, for the most part, more embarrassed by their children's poor judgement than they were angry. "Do any of you have anything intelligent to say, other than offering apologies for yourselves and your daughters?"
They all looked rather abashed and said nothing.
At that point, Madam Pomfrey came in. "Headmaster? Some of the girls are awake."
The parents made moves towards the door, but the aurors held them back. Myrddin and Dumbledore exchanged a look, and Myrddin nodded.
"Professor Spellman? Would you please interview the girls and see what they have to say?" Dumbledore asked. Tabitha nodded and followed Madam Pomfrey.