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, Ginny, and L...
No one had seen Professor Spellman or Councillor Dorff from the time they left Dumbledore's office Friday evening until they appeared for lunch on Sunday. On his way out from lunch to apparate back to London, he stopped by the Gryffindor table to murmur to Harry that he hoped to be back for at least one of the next three weekends (the third would be the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff Quidditch game).
The news that Voldemort had been driven out of Afghanistan quieted the demands that power be transferred back to Fudge. The International was obviously more effective than the Ministry had ever been. Plus, while Voldemort was injured, the information that he would be able to reconstitute himself reminded everyone of the Ministry's failures in the first place.
The fact that Voldemort's location was unknown also helped to reenforce public opinion to decide they preferred to stay under the control of the International for the time being. The only objections were coming from the factions within the Ministry who had supported Fudge's rise to power and his refusal to acknowledge Voldemort's return. While numerous within the Ministry, they were still discredited outside of it, even by The Daily Prophet and the other establishment media.
Percy had learned enough to keep his opinions to himself, especially as he was trying to figure out what those opinions should be. When asked about the internal politics all this was causing within the Ministry, he merely pointed out that since he was not currently operating within the Ministry, he had no inside information, and if he did, he would be expected to hold it confidential.
Ron's only response was, "I suppose he could be worse."
While the news of Voldemort's defeat seemed to keep things tense within the newly re-ordered Slytherins for the next week, the rest of the students prepared for their Hogsmeade weekend. It was also at this point that Harry realized what the other Gryffindor students had been mentioning all term -- Snape was being almost reasonable. His point-taking in Potions was down, and if he still snarled at the various Gryffindors, he now seemed more bark than bite. Harry wondered if this was because his cover as a Death Eater had been blown, if it was to encourage the changes in many Slytherins' attitudes, if it was because Dorff had threatened greater oversight, or if it was just because Harry was no longer taking Potions.
Harry suspected it was a combination.
The sextet's matching cloaks caused a little comment, but not nearly as many as the number of adults who accompanied the group to Hogsmeade. Half the faculty, Tonks and most of the aurors on duty at Hogwarts, and some others (recognized by Harry and his friends as members of the Order) went along. There were also a large number of North Americans in the village, and the sextet were unsurprised to learn they were sponsored by the International. It was easy to spot them, since they were all wearing blue berets, the symbol of the International.
The only store any of the sextet felt they had to visit was Honeydukes, and since that's where most Third years headed first they decided to give it an early miss. It was a rather raw and chilly day, so they went directly to the Three Broomsticks for hot butterbeer.
"It's been a good year so far," Harry said when he came back with their drinks.
"So far," Ron agreed. He was in a slightly mellow mood, with his left arm around Hermione, who was snuggling close for once, and his right hand on a drink. Even though his class work was difficult, nothing was as bad as Potions with Snape had been. Even Percy, Ron had to admit, tough taskmaster that he was, was at least perfectly fair.
"Shall we toast to our good luck, and hope that it may continue?" Luna asked.
The group agreed and raised their mugs. They nursed their drinks and had a second one, then ate an early lunch. As they were finishing their lunch, other students started streaming in. The sextet therefore broke up into two trios. The girls went off to buy some hair potion and magical nail polish, to help them prepare for the dance the following week. The boys headed off in the other direction. The two groups agreed to meet at Honeydukes in an hour.
"Why are we going here?" Ron asked as they walked towards Scrivenshafts.
"Well, we thought you might want to go in on this with us," Harry said.
"Ginny and Luna's birthday presents," Neville answered. "A package of parchment each, a quill, and a bottle of ink. Green ink for Ginny, that two-toned stuff for Luna."
"Is that all you're getting them?"
"Of course not," Harry answered in turn, rolling his eyes. "You and I will split buying Ginny's present, you and Neville will split Luna's, unless you don't want to. We'll each get our girlfriends something nice."
"No, I don't mind. I didn't know what to buy anyway."
"Where are we going now?" Ron asked a little later.
"I thought . . . Silverstones."
"Because if you two buy jewelry, I'll have to buy it, and to be honest, I don't know if Hermione would want me to."
"Well, we had an idea. Let us show you, and then we'll talk about it."
"All right," Ron said cautiously.
"Ah, Mister Potter. I received your note," the proprietor said as they came in. He showed them a largish rectangular locket, which Ron first thought was silver but was told was 10 carat white gold. Inside was a tiny wizarding photo of the sextet which Colin had taken two weeks before, and facing it was just a photo of Harry and Luna smiling at each other.
"You have a good photographer," the man commented.
"We do," Harry said, referring to Colin. He turned to Ron. "We give these to the girls for the dance, along with wrist corsages. I'm sure Hermione will love it. I'm also sure that if she doesn't want any more jewelry, Hermione will say so. Luna and Ginny both wear their hair long, and usually, so far this year, in braids during class. We have matching barrettes and jewelry for their hair. We'll give them those and the ink Halloween night for their birthdays, and Hermione won't feel left out, because she wears her hair differently and it's not her birthday."
Ron was a little shocked at the price, but decided to let Harry pay for Hermione's locket and necklace, adding the price on to his debt. From there, the boys went on to Honeydukes. Since they had access to the twins' full inventory, they didn't feel the need to go to Zonko's.
The next day, Luna and Hermione had been asked to stay behind by Professor Lawrence. Ginny had asked if she should as well, and had been told she was welcome to if she wanted. The boys decided to ahead and raid Zonko's anyway. "You can't have too many dungbombs," Ron had said, which made all five of the others roll their eyes.
The girls had been told to come as if they were dressed and equipped for a school day. They followed Lawrence out of his office and deep into the dungeons of the castle. Outside a nondescript door, Lawrence had them drop their book bags and took their wands. Then he blindfolded them.
"This is the scenario. You have been kidnaped from Hogwarts, let's say by portkey. You see you have been kidnaped by Death Eaters, although that wouldn't really surprise you. You are then stunned. I'm putting you in the room now. . . . Now please sit straight down . . . and now lie down. When I shut the door, you may take the blindfolds off. I'll be back in two hours. We'll see what, if anything, you've accomplished."
"Accomplished?" Hermione asked.
"When I come back, I'll stun you if I can. Think of that as your immediate motivation. Your real goal is of course learning how to deal with this type of situation. Having heard what you lot have been getting yourselves into, this in a far from unlikely situation."
"You're going to stun us?" Ginny demanded in shock.
"If this were real, I'd be coming back to rape you, torture you, and then to kill you," Lawrence said harshly. "Be glad this is only a test."
"And what do you expect us to do?" Hermione demanded.
"If we didn't think you and Miss Lovegood had the tools to deal with this, you wouldn't be here. Miss Weasley is along because of her Gryffindor enthusiasm."
"Great," Ginny grumbled.
"See you soon."
The heavy door shut.
The three girls removed their blindfolds.
"Shit," Ginny swore, "it's pitch black in here! What do we do?"
Hermione almost giggled, remembering a similar problem. She could not resist. "Are you a witch or not?"
"Oh!" Luna said. The others heard her sweeping her hand along the floor. Satisfied there was nothing on the floor that would spread the fire, Luna conjured a bluebell flame in her hands and then set it on the bare floor.
The flames revealed a largish, shadowy room. There was nothing in the room except the three girls, their rucksacks, and in one corner, a toilet on a raised platform.
"Not much to work with," Ginny commented.
"I don't think we'd be put into a no-win situation," Hermione said thoughtfully.
"The question is, then, what can we do with just our brains and our school supplies," Luna said.
The girls spent five minutes working on the door, but it was solid. They couldn't break it down, or burn it, without their wands (bluebell flames wouldn't even burn the skin, let alone burn though a door). Then, for over twenty minutes, they checked for any secret passages or other way out. They found none. With that, they all sat and thought for ten minutes in silence.
After that, they just shot out ideas for over an hour, trying to think of any way to ambush anyone who opened the door. None were likely to result in any more than one of them from escaping, assuming only Lawrence returned.
They sat in silence for a few more minutes. Then Ginny asked, "Why wouldn't matter if I were here?"
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked.
"I didn't have to be here for this test, so what do you two have that I'm not contributing to?"
The three looked puzzled, then Luna said, "Maybe it's not what we have, but what we know."
"Ginny studies Muggles and Creatures, I study Muggles, Runes, and Divination. You're Muggle-born, so that likely eliminates Muggles, since Ginny could help there. You and Ginny have studied Creatures as well, but there don't seem to be any here. That leaves Runes, Arithmancy, and Divination. Professor Spellman mentioned that Professor Lawrence knows even more about Runes than she does. What runes could we use?"
"There aren't any inscriptions here!" Hermione protested.
"No, but runes and symbols may be used to store and use power, and you've read ahead on how to do it. That could be the answer."
"But how could we inscribe runes?"
"Do they have to be inscribed, or can they be written?" Ginny asked. "We have ink and parchment."
"I don't think parchment would do much good. It can't store a spell, even if we could cast one," Hermione pointed out. They sat, thinking hard for several minutes.
Then Hermione realized, "We could draw the runes on the floor! Stone will hold the power, if we could figure out a way to cast a spell."
At that point, the door flew open and Lawrence said, "On the right track, but too late." He pointed his wand at Ginny, "You're raped, tortured, and killed." He moved on to Hermione, "You're gang-raped, tortured even more, until you die from the torture." He pointed at Luna. "You're tortured, raped, and used as bait for Harry. Since you finally got on the right track, however, I won't bother to stun you."
"What's the right answer?" Hermione pleaded.
"What is the easiest way to empower a symbol?"
"A spell," Hermione and Luna answered together.
"What's the hardest?"
"A potion," they answered.
"And what's the most effective?"
"Blood," Luna said softly, leaving Hermione gaping at the answer.
"But . . . but that's illegal!" Hermione protested.
"If you want to die for that legal principle, I can't stop you," Lawrence responded. "Remember, however, we're talking defensive magic here, not Dark Magic. Whose blood would you use?"
"Our own?" Hermione asked.
"Are you asking me or answering me?"
"Answering," Hermione decided.
"Very good. Now, here's what you would have to do. It's nothing you don't already know, you just never put it together from all the different bits and pieces you've been taught. If you'd had another day or two in solitary, you probably would have worked it all out completely. As it was, you would have had the outline in less than another hour."
The three witches sat and learned for the next two hours. Should such a scenario arise, Luna and Hermione would have more options than they had thought they would have had just a few hours before. Ginny would be prepared to help them. Luna and Hermione also agreed to go for extra tutoring.
On their way out of the dungeon, Ginny asked, "Are there any runes or whatever that offer protection?"
"There are runes that can be inscribed, usually on amulets and such, but they often cause more harm than good."
"In what way?" Hermione asked.
"The amulet may protect you from one curse, or even a type of curse, but it would open you up to other attacks."
"What would protection against possession open you up for?" Ginny asked.
"The amulets that would protect you from possession would open you up to the Imperius Curse, and vice versa."
"Is there no way to protect Ginny from both?" Luna asked.
Ginny blushed, but Hermione pressed on and told Lawrence the full story of the Chamber of Secrets. Lawrence thought about the events for a moment, and then told the girls, "See me tonight at Six. Bring Misters Longbottom and Weasley as well."
"I understand that three of you have had the Imperius Curse put on you in class, and one of you was possessed. With your permission, I will test you against both and see if you have any resistance to either."
"Why us, and why not Harry?" Ginny asked.
"Why not Harry? Because he is resistant to both, especially the Imperius. Now, we probably can't do much for you two," he said, pointing to Luna and Ron. "Anything I did would disturb any abilities in divination and second sight."
"I don't need that," Ron groused.
"You never know, Ron."
Luna showed fair resistence to the Imperius, and could not be possessed at all. Ron, on the other hand, showed some resistence to possession, but almost none to the Imperius. Hermione showed only a little resistence to both, while Ginny had none to either. Neville, to everyone's surprise, showed the most resistence to both.
Lawrence sent Neville, Luna, and Ron away, saying he would report his findings to Dumbledore and Dorff. He then outlined to Hermione and Ginny about what would have to be done if they wanted to avoid the problem entirely. It seemed almost a drastic solution, but although shocked, they decided they wanted to at least explore their options, and so gave their permissions for Lawrence to talk to their parents, Dumbledore, and Dorff.
Thursday, October 31, 1996
"What's wrong, Ron?" Harry asked as they sat down to the feast. "You've acted odd all day. Someone put an itching spell on you or something?"
"No . . . something just feels . . . off-centered. Like there's someone stalking me just out of sight, or a storm is about to break." Ron turned his attention to the piles of food in front of him, but Harry could see that he was still very tense.
"Maybe it's just because some Halloweens haven't been . . . good," Seamus suggested.
"That's probably it," Ron agreed, but Harry and Hermione exchanged a look which said that they knew Ron hadn't bought that explanation. Neither had they.
The feast seemed to go off well, although Ron was now acting more and more nervous the entire time. When the feast ended, Harry went over to Luna. "What's wrong?" she asked. She could see as well as feel how tense and worried Harry was.
"Ron's been . . . jumpy all day. It's getting worse."
"That doesn't sound like Ronald."
"You know, Dumbledore must have asked him to continue Divination for a reason," Harry said thoughtfully.
"There is Professor Lawrence. Perhaps it is time to test how much they trust your intuition."
"You might be right."
The pair approached Lawrence, who was speaking to a wizard that could almost pass for a brother.
"Ah, Harry, Luna. This is my good friend Lloyd Trowbridge."
"Good evening," Harry said politely. He frowned. "You were one of the North Americans walking the streets of Hogsmeade last weekend, right? In fact, it looked like you were directing things Sunday."
"Very good, Mister Potter. Yes, I'm coordinating the Hogsmeade defenses."
"Pleased to meet you. Professor. . . ?"
"This will sound strange . . . but Ron has been feeling . . . off all day."
"Off as in sick?" Lawrence was obviously confused.
"No, sir. Off as in jumpy and nervous. As if something is about to happen, and it's getting stronger."
"Ronald is a seventh son of a seventh son," Luna added.
"Well, it wouldn't be unprecedented date for an attack, would it?" Trowbridge remarked to Lawrence. He turned to Harry. "We were all here in '81."
"We were, and you're right," Lawrence agreed. He turned back to Harry. "Yes, this has always been a favorite date for him to attack, so there is already a heightened alert for tonight, but since we have absolutely no idea where Voldemort is, or what orders he might have left or transmitted, we're totally in the dark."
"Ron has made some off-hand accurate predictions before," Harry said as he thought things through. "So have I, for that matter. I thought that might be why the Headmaster asked Ron to continue Divination. None of them were really about events too distant, in time or. . . ."
"Proximity?" Luna supplied, since Harry seemed to have been stuck.
"Exactly. And I've never seen it this strong, either." He hesitated and said. "Maybe I've been around Ron too much, but I feel it now, too."
"There's not much more we can do in Hogsmeade," Trowbridge said.
"I'll speak with Dumbledore," Lawrence said thoughtfully. "I think we should do some extra patrols tonight. If anyone or anything attacks the castle, we can repel it. If any student does anything, well, we might not be able to stop it, but we can stop it from spreading too far."
"I don't understand," Luna said.
"If you wanted to kill one of your roommates while they were asleep, no one could stop you," Harry said.
They all suddenly shivered, as if they had shared a shock. Harry, Luna, and Lawrence then all went very still, their eyes wide. Trowbridge nodded his agreement.
"Where would it be the most likely?" Trowbridge asked Harry.
"Slytherin," Harry answered without thinking. On reflection, he knew the Ravenclaws were still suspicious of the Clique, and some of the Hufflepuffs were keeping their eyes on a few suspect people. The tensions in Slytherin were the ones that seemed to be getting stronger.
Lawrence spoke with great deliberation. "Lloyd, go with Harry to take Luna back to Ravenclaw. Notify Flitwick on the way. Then go with Harry to Gryffindor, notifying McGonagall along the way. Stay in the common room. Tell any students you meet to get back to their common rooms."
"Even the Slytherins?" Harry asked.
"Use your best judgement, Harry. Go!"
They didn't run into any other students Still, between the distances and having to brief Flitwick and McGonagall, it was more than half an hour later before Harry led Trowbridge into the Gryffindor common room.
Lloyd sent most of the other students to bed, but asked Katie Bell and Andrew Kirke, as Head Girl and the Seventh year Boy's Prefect, to keep an ear out for a while. Neville went as well, to help quiet the First year boys, who were still on a sugar high. Lloyd sat at a chair near the fire, while Harry sat opposite him. Ron, Hermione, and Ginny sat near by.
"What shall we do while we wait?" Ginny asked.
"If you don't mind, Mister Trowbridge," Hermione asked, "could you tell us how you ended up in Hogsmeade this autumn? If it's not classified, that is?"
"Tabby hasn't told you much of her service here in Eighty and Eighty-one, right?"
"No, sir," Harry answered. "When we met she said . . . how did she phrase it?"
"That she would tell us once we all got to know one another," Hermione supplied.
"That's right," Harry agreed. "And she said a few weeks ago she would sit down and tell us the full story over the Christmas break."
"The story really centers around her and Tudor Myrddin," Lloyd said thoughtfully. "Those two, Henry Dorff, and Tom Lawrence were Green dragons. That's where students who have elements of Hufflepuff and especially Ravenclaw and Gryffindor would be placed. Miss Granger here would likely have been made a Green, from what I hear. Tabby was a year ahead of Tom and myself. I was a White dragon, equivalent to your Ravenclaws. Toby was a Blue, a Gryffindor, if you will, a few years behind us. Tom and I became close friends our Sixth year. He was a Muggle-Born interested Potions and especially interested in ritual magic. I'm from an Old Colonial family, interested in magical and Muggle history, so we helped each other out. We went to New Orleans to study, magic at the Vieux Carre and Muggle history at Tulane University. We shared a little place, what's called a shotgun house, in an area called the Lower Ninth Ward."
"Tabby was always interested in the rise of Voldemort. She had newspaper clippings and such going back through her Second year. Tom was a close friend of hers, so I got to know her as well, and he and I both read her scrapbooks. We even helped her with them a few times."
"My older brother wanted to be an auror, but he didn't have high enough N.E.W.T.s. He went into the sersiants. They're better trained than your security guards, sort of a combination of security guards and constables. Even the smallest villages have at least a sersiant or two, for example. Well, he was working at the Capitol, and he and some of the other sersiants found out that the Confederation was, well, let's say encouraging a few aurors to take some leave time to come over and help out Dumbledore, all off the books, of course."
"Well, the teams over here in 1979 got nearly wiped out in a firefight. When my brother learned some new teams were going to be assembled, he mentioned it to me -- I'm really fascinated by British Muggle history for some reason, and had been here on my own a few times. He wondered how hard it might be for him to get a team of sersiants accepted for the fight. He and I came up with a plan and presented it to Tudor, who was in charge of the new teams coming over, just before Tabby and Tom recruited me."
Lloyd's expression turned very sad. "I came over part-time in February, 1980, full-time in May. From then until the following Easter, we were hammering Voldemort's Death Eaters pretty hard." He brightened slightly. "I was the supply officer. I supplied five groups, one pretty large, with food and such. One group. . . ." He looked around. "If I'm going to tell you any of this, one of you should get Mister Longbottom."
"I'll get him," Harry volunteered.