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 Ritual concludes, ...
Tuesday, December 31, 1996
The potion based on the group's blood was ready Tuesday morning. The final ritual would involve the potion, more rituals oaths, and some slight mixing of blood. Tudor and the nine others would share their blood directly with Hermione and Harry, while Hermione would share hers with each of them, plus Harry. Harry would only be sharing his with Hermione. A final tattooing to finish the process, a final potion, and another oath would conclude the entire process.
The 'points' were glad to learn there were only tiny tattoos involved for them. This would be a small four-leaf clover tattooed over their base left collar bone. Tudor would have a small dagger tattooed over his right collar bone. Hermione would have a small blue nine-pointed star over where the collar bones met. Henry would need all three.
Again, they had nothing to eat more than twelve hours before the process started, and drank nothing but water. The rituals, oaths, blood-mixing, and tattoos went off without even a hint of a mistake. The final oaths were a bit frightening, as the power surging through the group showed that they had true meaning, instead of being just words.
At last, a little after 1:00, it was over. The group was exhausted and drenched in sweat, more from the emotional and magical exertions and the stress than from just the physical efforts involved.
Cadfael had them put on heavy robes, and led them outside. The air was just below freezing. The ground was covered with over a foot of snow, and it gave the trees a magical look of their own. The wind was coming from the village, and they could smell the wood smoke, and hints from the bakery and the food cooking at the tavern and in the homes.
"You can see and even smell a community," Cadfael told them, with a wave towards Carantouan. Dressed in full white druid robes, with a golden sickle, he seemed to somehow blend in with the forest on the mountain. "You now form a community, a family, of your own. In some senses, you already formed one before this ritual. A community had formed around Tabitha -- a mentor, a lover, two friends, and a daughter. Another had formed around Harry -- the Weasleys and Harry's other close friends. You know the connections between the two parts of the group even better than I. You should get to know them better."
After giving them blessings as a group, Cadfael blessed each in turn and whispered encouragements. He went to Harry first. "To be at the center of this skein of fate would be a burden to anyone. You bear it better than nearly anyone I have ever heard of could have. Do not push your community away. They all care for you, even the girl who barely knows you and the young men who nearly betrayed you through pride. Let them carry a little of your burden, and let your other mentors do the same. And never fear -- in this or another lifetime, you will be with those lost."
"Is there anything else I can do for you, my child?"
"You know a lot of magic we don't, correct?"
"Yes. We know much of the magic available to you, but not all of it. Likewise, we have secrets not readily available to others."
"Could you help a friend of mine? Remus Lupin?"
He thought a moment. "We cannot cure your friend, alas. We do have a potion which I believe is slightly different than the Wolfsbane Potion. I shall seek permission to give the formula to Tabitha for consideration. I am sorry I can do no more."
Cadfael went next to Tudor, whom he merely reassured would have the full support of the Hidden until Voldemort was destroyed. He went to Hermione next.
"You have been most impressive, daughter. I understand from Tabitha that you have many questions about the Open Belief?"
"Yes, sir, I have." As she got to know the Confederation people better, she had become very curious about the Old Belief.
"At least two acolytes must approve an application to the Open Believers for it to be considered. I shall tell her that should she recommend any of you, I shall approve it. And, should she recommend you to the Owls, although you do not have the training or the family ties, I shall work for your approval there as well."
"Thank you! That would be wonderful!"
"It would take some doing, with your lack of experience, but you at least partially make up for that in intelligence, courage, and even a little wisdom."
He left a smiling Hermione and went to Tabitha. After repeating what he had told Hermione, Cadfael went on, "You have made me very proud to know you. While Tudor has been the political force, you have provided the cohesion."
"Thank you, Master," she replied.
"Will you be joining young Harry in his summer training, assuming the end has not occurred before then?"
"Yes, Master, I shall."
"May I ask a favor of you?"
"We are expecting another child in early July."
"May I ask that you stand Protectoress?" he asked, meaning the Druid equivalent of godmother.
"An Outsider to a Hidden child?"
"You are an acolyte, and a member of our clan. It is not usual, but it is permitted."
"Then I shall be proud to."
"Thank you. Have all these been touched in their dreams?"
Tabitha thought about that. "I'm not certain if Ginny, Hermione, or Neville have. Percy certainly hasn't. I'll try to dreamwalk with at least some of them tonight."
"Good." Cadfael moved next to Henry. "Your faith continues to shine brightly."
"Thank you, Master."
"Have you admitted to Tabitha your error in once putting your career above your relationships?"
"Yes," Henry admitted. "And she's finally allowed me back into her heart."
"Good. Don't let your great current responsibilities prevent you from making an official commitment to her."
Henry looked startled, but then admitted. "You're right."
"Thank you," Cadfael teased. "Remember, we druids are supposed to be wise, although few people ever treat me that way."
"Give yourself a few more decades," Henry teased back, for few Hidden had reached Cadfael's positions before the age of 60.
"True. Anyway, marry the woman. Try and have at least one more child after this is over, if I am correct about how both of you feel on the subject."
Cadfael went to the last North American point, giving Lloyd just a few words of encouragement. He went over to Luna next. "How am I, my far-seeing child?"
Luna looked the druid in the eye. "Not as comfortable as you would like to seem. You wish you could come fight Voldemort yourself, and leave your world behind."
"But I haven't."
"You don't because you believe, and because it's safe."
Cadfael grimaced. "Well, that's better than just because it's safe."
"It's safe for you, because it's your world, and it's best for your world, because you aren't a blind follower." She smiled. "I suspect we shall see you when we need to."
"You are correct, of course. Thank you, daughter. Harry is lucky in his love."
Luna frowned. "I shouldn't be Seeing this clearly."
"All your powers are heightened to some degree now, child. The power will partially dissipate and you will learn how to control the rest quickly enough."
Ginny looked nervously at the approaching druid. "What's the matter, daughter?"
"I'm sorry; druids don't have the best reputations with some old families."
"Yes, and the Weasleys and the Prewitts and all the others in your blood are old families," he replied with a smile. He signaled Ron and Percy over. "We're not certain, but we think some of your ancestors were some of the Belgics -- a people of mostly Celtic with some Germanic ancestry, who dominated northern Gaul and south-eastern Britain in the last centuries of Celtic and druidic power. They didn't always care for the druids, either."
He looked at the three. "You three are blood. Please try and work together. You know what has divided you in the past."
"That would be mostly my fault," Percy admitted.
"Mostly?" Ron demanded.
"You are all three proud people," Cadfael pointed out. "It is your one common fault. Your pride drove you to break with your family," he told Percy. He turned on Ron. "Your pride refuses to let him back."
Ron looked at the ground. "Percy, are you really sorry you broke with us, or are you mostly sorry you were shown to be wrong?"
"Both," Percy admitted. "I was too proud of my promotion. Still, I felt the way I felt, Ron. You know that it hasn't been easy for any of us to be raised poor. You don't know how much Dad is resented at work. And you should know that as many tricks Fred and George played on you, they hit me ten times worse. So all that came out at once. I can't feel too bad about blowing up, only about not being able to apologize. I've apologized to Professor Dumbledore, to Harry, and to Mum and Dad. I'm sorry I sent you that letter last year. I was only trying to help you, but I can see now why you hated it."
"I'm sorry I said you weren't my brother any more," Ron mumbled.
"I forgive you, and I hope you'll forgive us," Ginny added.
Cadfael moved Ginny slightly away. "Be good to Neville Longbottom. Give up your dreams of Harry and be satisfied with being his sister."
"I do care for Neville," Ginny said, "but there's just something about Harry. . . ."
"They are both special young men," Cadfael said. "Try concentrating on how special Neville is."
"Yes, sir," Ginny said with a small smile. She knew Neville was a special person.
Cadfael went back over to Percy. "You are redeeming yourself, Percy Weasley. Continue on your current course and you may find that your path may veer back towards where you hoped it would go. Do you have a love?"
"I did," Percy admitted. "We argued last year, too."
"Have you apologized to her as well?"
"No," Percy admitted. "I haven't found the words."
"Try, 'I'm sorry, you were totally right,' even if she wasn't."
"That's illogical, but you're probably right," Percy said.
"If men and women agree on anything, it's probably that the other gender is illogical," Cadfael said with a smile. "Tell her you hope she'll write back, and then leave it up to her. Try to see that even if she is no longer interested, she doesn't resent you."
He turned to Ron. "And how are you, my hot-tempered young friend?"
"I'm never going to live that down, am I?"
"Some day. . . ."
"Harry Potter relied on you to be his guide to your world, Ronald Weasley. Did you complete your greatest mission?"
Ron looked ashamed. "No. No, I didn't."
"Work hard, Ronald Weasley. Be good to Sabrina. You will have a new fate. Look for it."
As a student who had not yet completed her fourth year of druid training, Sabrina bowed low. "Wise Master."
"Tell me, daughter, why did you come, why did you volunteer for this?"
"Well, Dad surprised me with the offer to come here. I came to be with Ronnie, Mom, and Dad," Sabrina admitted. "I volunteered because it was the right thing to do. The Hidden might not always care about the evil in the world, but Mom and Dad, and Uncle Tudor and Uncle Tom and Uncle Lloyd have always made one thing clear, and that is that it's everyone's job to fight evil. This Voldemort is evil. My family has devoted their lives to the cause. How could I say no? Why would I say no?"
"I hope you never, never receive answers to those questions, my child. Don't rush your relationship with Ronald Weasley. If he is the right one, you will know it by the end of the summer."
"Yes, Wise Master." She bowed low and stepped away.
"Well, Neville, I am pleased to meet you."
Cadfael smiled. "Really. You have learned you are stronger and more capable than you had thought. This ritual should have finished the healing for what your mind went through. You will be even more powerful and capable than you had been just a few days ago. Use the power well."
"That I can promise," Neville swore.
"I know." Cadfael turned to Tom. "You have done brilliantly. I have never seen such a complex ritual done so well." Then he whispered. "Set up a dream circle in two nights."
Cadfael looked at the group. "May the Powers Bless you all, and your endeavors." He disapparated.
"All right," Tabitha called out. "We're all tired. Rest until Five. Dinner is at Seven, and we'll celebrate the end of the calendar year at midnight!"
For once, everyone except for Tudor went back to their own bedrooms, Henry for the first time since he had been there. Tudor disapparated, making his way to the Capitol. He would be returning to Britain in a few days. Only his pledge to Harry, made fifteen years before, had brought him away from his other duties. It was now time to get back to some of them.
The rest of the group drifted off into exhausted naps.
Wednesday, January 1, 1997
"Hi, Luna! Do you want to swing with me?"
Luna smiled and said, "I'm a little large for this swing, Hermione."
"Why are you so big?"
"Because we're dreaming, and right now you look about seven."
"Oh." Hermione continued to swing on her child's swing set.
"I've never seen anything like this," Luna said.
"Muggles have them, at school if not always at home. My uncle bought it for me when he visited from America. Three swings, a slide, and a see-saw, although he called it a teeter-totter." Hermione giggled. "Americans have silly names for things."
Luna smiled at the seven-year old and looked around, realizing the swing set was where the Granger's pool would be later on.
"Are you having fun?"
"Yes," Hermione said, a little doubtfully.
"You don't sound too sure."
"Everyone hoped the other children would come play with me." Little Hermione stopped swinging, and her jaw quavered. "They never would, just like they wouldn't come swim with me, later on." Hermione lifted a teary face to Luna. "You swam with me. Will you please swing with me?" she begged, nearly breaking Luna's heart with her emotional plea.
"Of course we will, my sweet," Harry said, coming up to them. Harry scrunched his face like Tonks trying to change herself, and suddenly he was about Hermione's age and size. "Nobody would play with me, either," he said, taking the middle swing. He glanced at Luna and waved his hand.
Luna was seven now as well. "I guess I can swing after all," she said, amazed at what Harry had done.
"Will you teeter-totter on my see-saw?" Hermione asked, her eyes wide. "Nobody has ever used it, and it probably feels lonely."
"Hermione," Harry asked, "do you take turns on the swings so they don't feel left out?"
"Of course!" said the wide-eyed little girl. "And I slide when I start and stop, so the slide feels useful, too, but the see-saw needs two." The little girl looked very sad at the see-saw's fate.
Luna smiled, and so the two girls played on the teeter-totter, while a smiling Harry swung. "I wish we could have played like this when we were small," he said.
"Can we play, too?"
Hermione stopped her see-saw motion and scowled for an instant at Ron and Sabrina, but then she said, "Of course you may."
"But we all have to see-saw with Hermione," Harry declared.
Thus it was that Tabitha, checking things out a short time later, found five children playing on a playset, all looking and acting like they were about seven -- Harry and Ron were each trying to go higher than the other on the swings while Luna swung sedately between them, and Sabrina and Hermione slowly rose and sank on the see-saw.
"Hi, Mommy!" Sabrina called out. "Pway with us!"
"I think I'm a bit too old for . . . oh, my!"
Tabitha was now an age she couldn't remember ever being. "You are an amazing wizard, Harry Potter."
"See-saw with me, Mommy!" Sabrina called. She looked at Hermione. "May we, He'mione?" Tabitha reminded herself that Sabrina had had problems with r's and l's when she was young.
"Okay!" Hermione got off carefully. "Let's all slide!" She turned to the two red-headed girls and said, "Join us when you want to!" She hugged Harry and Ron. "This has been the happiest birthday dream ever!"
Hermione stretched. She couldn't remember such a nice dream as the vivid one she had had just before she woke up. She wriggled, and realized Harry and Luna were gone already. That made her frown. She prided herself on waking up early. She sat up and gasped.
There was a child's swing set in her bedroom. There was a sign on it that said, "/NO, IT WASN'T JUST A DREAM/"
Hermione smiled. The ritual had worked.
Ginny wasn't happy about being left out of the previous evening's dream. Tom Lawrence managed to calm her down, when he announced that he would try to build a dream circle that evening, where they could all dreamwalk together.
Tabitha lectured to them on the ethics of dream-walking (she ignored some smirks from Tom and Henry), as well as making suggestions on how to keep some of their dreams private. The other three experienced dreamwalkers spoke, and Henry and Ron spoke a little about their experiences.
After the morning discussion, the group broke up. Tabitha took Harry into the deserted tv room.
"Harry . . . how did you do that last night?"
"Change us into seven-year-olds."
Harry frowned. "We were dreaming. Why couldn't I do that?"
"If we had all been playing if your head, it would have made sense. However, we were in Hermione's head. You should only have been able to manipulate yourself and Hermione."
"Well, I don't know how I did it, but I did."
"I think you also transformed us correctly," Tabitha said. "You couldn't have known Sabrina couldn't always pronounce her r's and l's until she was nine."
Harry shrugged. "Maybe Master J can help explain."
"I suppose," she said, shaking her head. "I'll write it up. Tudor can give it to J when he gets back to London."
Harry shrugged. This didn't seem any more amazing an ability than flying a broomstick perfectly his first try or producing a Patronus at thirteen. He went off to join his friends. It was snowing again, and the teens were going to build a snowman.