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, Dudley's prank backfir...
Saturday, December 21, 1996
The train ride to London was a fairly rowdy affair. Neville told Harry that this was far from unusual, as the students were anxious to return home. The prefects and security prefects didn't have any major problems, but were certainly kept on their toes.
Harry, who had never liked returning to the Dursleys, only understood the idea of returning home as an intellectual concept. Even though he would be only spending a little less than twenty-four hours at the Dursleys, and Neville would be with him, Harry was far from thrilled. He was fairly confident the Dursleys felt much the same.
Harry wasn't certain how to describe his ride to Surrey. Lloyd Trowbridge drove him and Neville. The boys soon learned why Professors Lupin, Lawrence, Jones, and Spellman, along with Tonks, apparated to Mrs. Figg's, and why Lawrence had wished them luck. It wasn't that Lloyd was exactly a bad driver, and he certainly wasn't inattentive. It was more that his first instincts were primarily based on driving on the right side on the road instead of the left. It made for an interesting and exciting ride.
Still, they reached Privet Drive in a very short time, even allowing for a detour around Whinging to show the boys the house they had been born in.
"It's not a bad house," Harry said as they passed. "I remembered it as a lot more run-down and spooky."
"It still looks that way to most people. I've keyed the wards to the pair of you since the last time you've seen it," Lloyd answered. "I've kept it since the last war, and have even stayed in it a few times." He headed over towards the bridge leading to Little Whinging. "Now, Lupin and Tonks will be at Mrs. Figg's. Spellman, Lawrence, and I will be in the house in Whinging. Jones will be at the hotel near the train station. That puts you near the center of a triangle." Lloyd shot into the Dursleys' drive and he stopped the Land Rover about a quarter of an inch short of Vernon's company Mercedes. "Here," Lloyd said, handing each boy a small quartz amulet on a chain. "Put these on and do NOT remove them for any reason. Grab the stone and say 'help' and we'll answer. Unless your uncle or cousin take a swing at one of you, DON'T use magic on them."
"Is that likely?" Neville asked, surprised. He had known things were bad for Harry, but not that bad.
"Likely, no. Possible, yes," Harry answered honestly.
"Hopefully, you'll have a quiet, if stressed-filled and boring, evening." Dumbledore had hoped for Harry to spend at least 36 hours at the Dursleys, but ended up agreeing even 24 hours was pushing things. "If not, well, remember Voldemort still can't attack you here, nor can any other witch or wizard. There's always the possibility he's gotten smart enough to hire Muggles to attack, or will send in dementors. In any event, call for help. All right?"
"Right," both boys said in turn. They exited the car, Harry carrying a duffle bag that had their few clothes for their short stay. Harry knocked on the door, and then opened it. Only once the boys were inside did Lloyd pull out of the drive.
"Well, boy. Back again I see," Vernon sneered.
"Happy holidays, Uncle Vernon," Harry said with some effort at civility. "This is my friend, Neville Longbottom."
Vernon looked at his nephew. He really hadn't noticed the changes in the boy the previous July. The ragamuffin was long gone. Harry was still shortish, a shade over five foot seven, and while long in the leg for his height, once he took his jacket off Vernon could see the boy had put on some real muscle. He looked like a gymnast.
"Hello, Mister Dursley," the other freak said politely. This one stood between Vernon's and Dudley's height, and had shoulders wider than Vernon or Dudley. He looked a bit like the heavy-weight power-lifters Dudley wanted to look like, but didn't.
"Longbottom," Vernon managed to say, with just a slight sneer. He took a deep breath. "Dinner will be at Seven," he managed to say between clenched teeth.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon," Harry said, taking the hint. "Come on, Neville." He and Neville went up to Harry's room.
As soon as the door shut, Neville said to himself (for he was far too polite to say anything out right), 'After meeting Harry's guardians, it's a miracle he's such a nice guy.'
Dinner was very quiet, in large part because Dudley hadn't returned and Vernon had little to say. When Harry had asked, Petunia had merely said Dudley was 'out.' What little conversation there had been was between Petunia and Neville over protecting plants over winter.
After dinner, Harry and Neville quietly cleaned off the table and then went up to Harry's room. They took turns in the shower, and spent the rest of the evening talking. Dudley had come in while Harry was in the shower. He had scowled at Neville, but said nothing. A little after 11:00, Harry and Neville turned in.
A little before 2:00, Harry was woken up by someone shaking him violently. "Stop that!" Neville ordered, since Harry was too confused to say anything.
"They're coming!" Dudley whispered.
"What's wrong with you?" Harry demanded.
"Those dementoid things! Can't you feel them?"
"I think you were having a nightmare. Now go back to sleep."
Harry tried to lie back down, but Dudley refused to let go. "I tell you I can feel them," Dudley hissed.
"It can't hurt to check it out, can it?" Neville asked, getting the rest of the way out of his cot.
Harry sighed. "I suppose not." Harry got up and threw on his dressing gown. He tossed Neville his as well. "On the off chance, I guess we should stick together."
As Harry waited, he glanced into the mirror, and saw Dudley smirking. Harry immediately swirled around, wand up. "Spill it!" Harry commanded in a low voice. "I know you're up to something, Spill, or I swear I'll turn you into the pig you are!"
Dudley squeaked at the sight of the wand. "Piers and some of the boys -- they're waiting in the back garden with some buckets of ice water."
"Oh, that's real mature, Dudley," Harry said. At that point, Harry felt a pain seer through his scar, for the first time since July. It was so strong, Harry nearly collapsed on his cot. Harry picked himself up as he cleared his mind. "Maybe you have some second sight there, Dudders. Voldemort isn't far away."
Dudley started to sneer, and then there was a brief scream from the back garden, which was quickly and chillingly muffled. Dudley nearly fainted.
"It's getting colder," Neville said.
"Call," Harry said to Neville, then he turned his back on Dudley. "You, stand right there. Neville, back against this wall." The air was getting distinctly cold, and Harry heard his uncle swear at the furnace. Harry threw open his door and commanded, "Stay in your room!"
"Don't tell me what to do, boy! See if I. . . ." Vernon trailed off. Harry could see three dementors coming slowly up the stairs. Vernon couldn't see them, but he could feel them. Petunia pulled him back inside the bedroom and slammed the door. Harry could hear Neville calling for help, and then describing the attack.
"Harry!" Neville called out. "There are at least twenty out back!"
"How long until help arrives?" He raised his wand.
"Not long," Tom Lawrence stated from behind Harry. "Stand back, and make certain that idiot cousin of yours stays puts." He stepped in front of the teen, raised his hands, and began a chant, starting with a phrase that, to Harry's surprise, froze the three dementors at the top of the stairs. Harry was used to seeing Lawrence as a hefty (as he had lost over twenty pounds that term, he wasn't quite 'portly' any longer), often jolly and friendly teacher. The transformation in him to a powerful warlock was startling.
As the chant progressed, brilliant white light swirled out of Lawrence's wand and around the three dementors. As soon as the first swirl surrounded them, the three dementors screamed.
"The other dementors are gone," Neville reported. "There were three Patronus herding them together, but now they're all gone."
The swirls enclosed the three dementors in a cocoon, which then, slowly, over three minutes, squeezed together. The entire time, the dementors were screaming, without pausing for breath.
Finally, after those three long, agonizing minutes, the cocoon collapsed into nothing, and the noise stopped.
Silence reigned for fifteen seconds.
"What the hell was that!" Vernon Dursley screamed, coming out of his bedroom.
"'That' were three embodied demons, known as dementors," Lawrence answered.
"Demons . . . as in. . . ."
"Creatures that feed on your soul, Mister Dursley. Creatures that would have long ago enslaved your kind, so they could freely feed on you, had it not been for my kind. Resent us all you wish, but just remember, your kind built your civilization, but only because my kind tamed forces you cannot imagine. I shall now go down to your basement and paint four symbols which will prevent them from ever entering again."
"Why didn't you people do that before?"
"First, because I am the only person in the British Isles capable of doing so, and as you can probably tell from my accent, I'm not from around here. Second, because the magical signature will make your house stand out from those who know how to look. Since the enemy obviously now knows which house you live in, that no longer applies."
"What about Dudley's friends?" Harry asked.
"What about Dudley's friends?" Vernon roared.
"Dudley tried to lure us out back, where some of his friends were going to dump ice water on us," Harry snapped.
"Dudley!" Vernon yelled, "I told you to leave the boy alone! 'Let him show up and get out', I said!" Dudley, more-or-less recovered, whimpered from the floor.
Lloyd popped into Harry's room. "We have three teens Kissed out back. Any idea who they were?"
"What does that mean!" Vernon demanded.
"That means their souls, their consciousness, are gone," Lloyd said.
"They were friends of Dudley. They were going to pull a prank on me."
"They . . . they . . . were. . . ?"
"They're husks, Dudley," Harry informed his cousin. "That's what I was trying to tell you two summers ago. You can't fight them physically."
"What are you going to do about it?" Vernon demanded.
Lawrence shrugged. "There is nothing that can be done. They are gone. Their bodies will survive for some time. Even if I should happen to destroy the dementors that have their souls, there is no known way to rejoin the soul to the body."
"But. . . ."
"But nothing. They are gone."
"You wouldn't be so casual if it was one of you freaks, instead of one of us!" Vernon accused.
"It's possible I might care a bit more," Lawrence mused, "but there still wouldn't be any more I could do for my nearest and dearest. I can no more restore them than I could restore life to any other dead person. Now, do you want my protection, or do you want to risk a horrible death?"
"And if I just told you to leave, to take the boy with you and never come back?" Petunia squawked at the suggestion, but Vernon paid her no mind.
"Then your protections would collapse in a few weeks to a few months, the enemy would capture the three of you, torture you and your son to death for fun, and hope that by torturing and holding your wife, Harry might be tempted to come and save her."
Vernon stood there, gaping. Lloyd spoke into the silence. "Toby went for the Obliviators. The cover story will be the three boys put themselves into comas with drug overdoses." He disapparated.
"So, do you want to live, or not?" Lawrence asked Vernon, in a tone that clearly said it mattered little to him which Vernon picked.
"Yes, damn you!" Vernon said through clenched teeth. He turned around and stormed back into the bedroom.
Lawrence turned to Harry. "You two go back to bed. I'll do the runes and be back up in about an hour. If you're still awake, I'll put you to sleep. We'll wake you up before Seven, and we'll be out of here by Seven. I doubt we'll be welcome here in the morning."
Harry and Neville went back into Harry's room. "Go to sleep, Dudley. The excitement is over."
"But . . . but Piers, Danny. . . ."
"What kind of freak are you? Don't you care that Piers is as good as dead?"
"What do you want me to feel for Piers, who used to help you beat me up? How many tears should I waste on him? Tell me, if I did, would you make fun of me like you did when I was having nightmares about Cedric, a really nice guy that I saw murdered in front of me?"
Dudley said nothing, but slammed the door going back into his room.
"Sorry you were here for this, Neville," Harry said.
To Harry's shock, Neville grabbed him and hugged him briefly, then held him back and looked the smaller teen in the eye. "Harry, you're never going to be alone again. I wish I'd known how horrible it was for you here."
"Err, Neville . . . you're very strong, you know."
Harry patted Neville on the back. "It's okay. You're a good friend."
"From the cradle, it would appear."
"Yeah, how about that? We'll probably have to endure Professor Spellman showing the girls our baby pictures."
"As long as she doesn't go on and on about changing our diapers."
"It could be worse."
"Professor Jones could go on and on about changing our diapers."
Sunday, December 22, 1996
"I didn't realize you were to be here this early, Neville," Mrs. Longbottom said with a sniff, looking up from her morning cup of tea. As she was every morning from 6:45 until 7:30, she was sitting in the small solarium in the 15th century manor house.
"We weren't supposed to be," Neville admitted.
"Oh, Neville! What did you do?"
"Well, we survived a dementor attack," Harry offered.
Mrs. Longbottom dropped her tea cup.
"Good morning, Mum, Dad." Hermione was startled to be greeted by silence. "What's happened?" Her parents were sitting very still, even stiffly, in their dining room chairs.
"Well. . . ." her mother said slowly.
"We were rather hoping you would bring this up last night," her father went on.
"Bring what up?"
"The tattoos," her father answered.
"You must know we agreed very reluctantly. Now . . . please show us."
"You won't like it," Hermione warned.
"We already don't like it!" her father almost snapped, which was very unusual behavior for either of Hermione's parents. "What we want to know is how much we should hate it!"
"All right. "She stood up and started stripping in the dining room.
"Hermione!" her parents exclaimed, shocked.
"If you want to see, you might as well see," Hermione snapped, now standing with her back to them, and in just her blouse, bra, and panties. She parted the thick hair on the back of her neck. "You might be able to see the little tattoo at the base of my skull. Well . . . you wanted to see."
Her parents sheepishly came closer, but couldn't see it. Nor could they easily see the small tattoo just above her forehead hairline. "The other seven are easier to see." The two tattoos on the back of her heels were in black, blue, and green, and about half an inch across.
"The same are on my inner wrists," Hermione pointed out, rolling up her loose sleeves. She kept going on the right arm. The rune there was in red and orange. Hermione stripped off her blouse and bra, and her parents' took in shocked breaths.
There was a series of signs that covered the valley between her small breasts, and the entire right side of her small, round left breast, right up to the large pink nipple.
Then Hermione took off her panties. The Grangers were even more shocked at the sight of the signs that started off by surrounding her navel and swept down in a crescent that touched the very base of her clitoris and ended a quarter way down her inner left thigh. Hermione had kept herself totally shaved since that summer, and so the tattoos were even more startling, as these had been done in magical iridescent inks, and they sparkled in twenty-seven different colors.
"Oh . . . baby," Hermione's mother cried.
"That must have hurt like hell," her father added.
"At first, it was all painful," Hermione said, "but the ritual helped me deal with the pain."
"How would you describe the process, then?" her mother asked.
Hermione looked at her parents defiantly. She picked up her clothes. "Erotic." She left the room.
At the Burrow, Ginny had gone through much the same process, although only with her mother. All the parents were shocked at how extensive, and intimate, the tattooing had been. After Hermione had dressed, however, she had firecalled the Burrow (the Granger fireplace had been opened, for firetalking only, with the Burrow the previous summer). The Grangers were relieved to learn that the Weasleys were as shocked as they had been over the size of the tattoos, and were a little assured when they were told how important the tattoos might become in the struggle against the dark wizards.
Still, none of the parents were anything but dissatisfied by the necessity.
That night, as the Grangers talked about the exceedingly upsetting day, Mrs. Granger turned to her husband and said, "You know, there was one other thing I noticed, besides the tattoos."
"Our daughter is, well, buff."
"Last summer, when she was out sunbathing, I saw how thin she was. She wasn't quite unhealthy, let alone anorexic, but her arms and legs had very little muscle, and her abdomen was taut only because she was so thin. I bet she's put on well over a stone of muscle, maybe two." Hermione had in fact added twenty pounds of muscle since the previous July. "She's never been athletic before, but is now."
"I wonder if she's kept it up now that that boy was sent to America," Mr. Granger wondered.
"That's one good thing. I mean, I want her to date, but I think he was too interested in her, and maybe vice versa."
"I don't know how many boys will be interested in her with all those tattoos," Mr. Granger complained. He sighed. "Well, hopefully not too many will see them."
His wife snorted. "You would have seen mine before we married, if I'd had any." She grinned. "I wonder how I'd look with a little dental mirror tattooed right above my labia."
Mr. Granger, who had started flossing, accidentally choked on one end of the floss.
"Open wide!" his wife teased. Mr. Granger swallowed the floss.
Monday, December 23, 1996
"Well, are you all ready?" Lloyd asked the five students. They were gathered around the Granger front parlor a little before noon.
"Where is everyone else?" Hermione asked. Lloyd was the only one there.
"Jones is staying in Britain, and so are Tonks and Lupin, for that matter. Tabitha and Tom went on ahead. Don't worry, he had all your presents and luggage. Tudor and Henry will be with us on and off." He held out a long boot-string. "Now, hold on tightly. This will take about four and a half minutes.
"We're going quite a ways, I guess," Ginny said.