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 entire circle Drea...
Wednesday, January 1, 1997
"I'm glad you agreed not to set up that dream circle until tomorrow night," Tabitha remarked to her friends as the tired teens trooped back to their bedrooms for the night.
"Well, Tudor isn't here tonight anyway, so we might as well wait," Tom said. "What do you think they're going to do?"
"Harry will bring them together," Tabitha said with great confidence. "Sabrina and Luna both know to come get me if there are any problems."
"You really must stop dreaming about Harry," Luna gently teased Ginny. "It doesn't bother me, but it's not fair to Neville."
"Sorry," Ginny said, embarrassed. "It's getting better. Are you real?"
"Yes, I'm dreamwalking with you." The two girls were sleeping together, so that Luna would have the physical contact she might need to initiate Ginny's first dreamwalk.
"It's hard to control your dreams," Ginny said, defending herself.
"True," Luna admitted. "Still, if you're going to dream of Harry, you might as well make him anatomically correct." Luna paused. "Is that what Neville looks like?"
Ginny looked closely. "Yes. It looks a little bigger on Harry, since he's smaller."
"Not in that respect." Harry's equipment didn't thicken at all, but it did lengthen by 20%.
"Oh, my! And I thought Neville was large!"
The two girls looked at each other and both burst out laughing in ways neither would do outside their dreams.
"Another cauldron gone, Longbottom? What's the matter with you?" A fanged, ten foot tall Snape loomed over a cowering First year Neville.
Suddenly, Snape shrank down into a screaming baby. Harry walked over and stuck a pacifier in into the greasy-haired baby's mouth.
"Thanks, Harry," Neville said. "I hate this dream."
"Yeah, I hate my dreams, too. This is what my sub-conscious is dreaming at the moment." A wall turned into a movie screen, and Neville saw Peter Pettigrew cutting off his hand. Neville retched slightly, and turned away.
Harry waved the screen away. "There are worse. It's still early. Why don't you sleep more deeply. If we don't get some real sleep, we'll all be a bit out of it in the morning."
"Okay, Harry," Neville said drowsily.
Harry drew all the students together at little after 5:30. They were in the large field near the apple trees at the Burrow. "Why here, Harry?" Ron asked.
Harry shrugged. "This is the closest thing I have to a home, I guess. It is your and Ginny's home, and Percy's, too, for that matter. Hermione loves it here. Luna has visited, and I'm sure Neville and Rina will in the future."
"Oh . . . that makes sense." Ron paused. "What shall we do, fly?"
"That's a good idea," Harry said with a grin.
"You know I don't like to fly, Harry," Hermione said, coming up to them.
"You'll like this flying." He called out, "Everyone take off your shoes and socks!" Harry remembered a Muggle film he had watched at Mrs. Figg's once. Harry splayed his fingers at each student in turn, throwing a sparkling dust on them one at a time.
"What are you doing, Harry?" Hermione demanded. "Harry!" she squealed, as they all floated off the ground.
"I'll be Peter, you can be Wendy," Harry called, flying off, "and these are the children we found!"
"I don't want to be the responsible one all the time, Harry Pan!"
"Fine!" Harry swooped down and touched Hermione's shoulder. "We'll just play tag. You're it!"
"If we can't play in our dreams, where can we play?"
Ron was floating and laughing at them, just a few yards away from Hermione. She set her jaw, and flew over and slapped Ron's foot, making him spin in the air. "Fine, you're it!"
The teens played tag in their dreams until it was time to wake up.
"Why do we even need a dream circle?" Ginny asked as Tom finished chalking the runes on the outlines of the circle down in the open area where they had done the rituals.
"It should help coordinate our sleep-cycles," Hermione said, since Tom was concentrating on the last runes.
The only person who looked nervous was Percy. He had no experience with dreamwalkng, he had never had any Occlumency training. He was worried about keeping his private thoughts private.
Percy was yelling at himself. This had been an occasional and always ignored dream for the year after he had stormed out of his parents' house. In the half year since they had been proven more and more right, and he more and more wrong, the dreams had become harsher and more common. Tonight, three different versions of himself were yelling at him, while he sat behind the desk in his first office, his head in his hands.
"Guilt's the worst, isn't it?"
Percy looked up. The other three Percys were still yelling at him, but their voices were so muted he really couldn't understand them.
"Hello, Harry." Percy swallowed nervously. "Been here long?"
"No, not really." Harry looked at Percy. "Would you care to see some of the things I feel guilty about?"
"No," Percy said. "My own guilt is more than enough to bear." He looked puzzled. "Why did you ask for me, Harry?"
"Until my trial, I had thought you were my friend," Harry said sadly. "You always gave me advice without preaching at me, and you seemed to like me. Why did you think I was leading you astray?"
"I never thought you were leading me astray, Harry."
Harry understood. "You were worried I'd lead Ron astray."
"Exactly. I just don't understand you, Harry," Percy said. "I understand Hermione. She's not quite as much like myself as I had thought she was, but we're similar. I understand Ron, maybe not as much as I thought, still more than he thinks. I did like you, your first three years, but even then, you . . . bothered me."
"Harry, you can do things no wizard under thirty should even be able to attempt, and yet there you were, saving something that even the Professors couldn't protect, defeating monsters and winning a tournament that you shouldn't have had any chance at if twenty teachers had been helping you. And there you also were, a student I really cared about, that I even identified with, yet who was also dragging my favorite brother along, making him alternate between hero-worship, having a closer friendship than I've ever had, and jealousy. Dragging him into danger throughout your First year and on into your Second and Third." Percy paused and then admitted, "And because he was what you cared for most. Not to mention Ginny, who had a crush on you at least through the Yule Ball. How could I not worry that either you were somehow manipulating everything, or if you weren't that they would still be hurt or killed if they were anywhere near you?"
"I didn't bespell them, Percy. And I tried to push them away."
"I know that now," Percy said. "Part of me still doesn't like it, but I know now that you're the pivot. I know you don't want to be, and that's why I can forgive you. You didn't want this, and you hate it. And I was wrong to blame you."
"I bet you still hate it that Ron and Ginny are involved."
"I do," Percy answered. "I just don't blame you, or them, for it like I used to. If you had any choice in the matter, maybe I could blame you, but you don't."
"I'm glad you don't," Harry answered. "Blaming myself is bad enough." He managed a small smile. "Are you ready to play?"
"Play," Harry said firmly.
Percy was suddenly ten. "Harry?" He looked, and saw Harry was the same. Harry gestured around them.
Percy looked and saw he was at the Burrow, although there was some sort of swing set set up near the orchard, where two girls were playing on the see-saw. Behind them, people were flying in the air without broomsticks, playing tag.
"Hermione and Tabitha like to see-saw," Harry said. "The rest of us are playing tag, although Ron likes to, well, there he goes."
Percy saw Ron fly over to the swing set and throw himself down the slide.
"That's Ron, all right," Percy said with a shake of his head. "At least he can't tear his clothes permanently here."
When Harry looked at him, Percy explained. "Ron always got hand-me-downs. Even with magic, cloth can only be repaired so many times. Didn't you ever notice that he was always the most ragged of us? Even when he gets something new, somehow he always manages to wear things out even faster than the twins."
"You know, I have to say I never noticed," Harry said. "I do know he was still better dressed than I was until this past year."
"I assure you, Ron noticed, Harry," Percy said softly. "We all noticed how much worse off we were than the vast majority of our fellow students. It's human nature to see whatever it is you don't have, even when what you don't have isn't all that important compared with what you do have."
"You might be right," Harry acknowledged. "Hermione had parents almost as affectionate as yours," (Percy winced) "and every material thing she could want. That swing set showed her that she had no friends, because no one would come and play with her."
"Thank you for asking for me, and for telling me that, Harry," Percy said. He went over and started to swing. Tom came and started to swing as well. Harry smiled and went off to play tag.
The entire time, Hermione played on her see-saw. When Ron tried to coax her away, Luna and Ginny gently led him away. Harry explained (again) why the swing set was important to Hermione, and each member of the circle took their turn on the see-saw. Then, one by one, each person drifted off into deeper sleep, until just Hermione and Harry were left.
"Thank you, Harry," Hermione said. "I don't know why this has been so important, but it was. And I don't just mean for me."
"It shows you and me, and Percy, Tom, Lloyd, and Neville, that we have friends -- we were all lonely in different ways and in different degrees. It reminds Tabitha that she had a childhood, even if she can't remember it, and brings her closer to Rina. It reminds Tudor and Henry that we're all equal to some degree -- they both love commanding. And it makes Ron and Ginny remember how much they love Percy, and how much they had that some of us didn't."
"How did you get so wise, Harry?"
"What do you mean? I learned from you, of course. I only tune you out when you nag, not when you offer your brilliant analysis," Harry teased.
Hermione gave Harry a dirty look. Harry smiled back, and turning back into his sixteen year old self, leaned over and kissed Hermione's forehead. "Go to sleep. We're likely to have an active day soon."
Over the next two days, Harry worked very hard on all his spells. Henry, Lloyd, Sabrina, and especially Percy were surprised at how quickly Harry adjusted to the new situation. By early Saturday morning, Harry could control the amount of power he was borrowing very minutely, even, to even Tom and Tabitha's surprise, into borrowing power from the individual points. It was still at a very low level, but that should slowly increase over time. It remained to be seen how well Harry would be able to control his powers when the people in the group were spread out over a fifth of the world. It also remained to be seen how well Harry could take a curse under the ritual.
At least the group wasn't returning blindly to the outside world. The Wizarding Network News satellite channel hadn't reported any problems which could remotely be connected with Voldemort. Of course, since the dementor attack on the Dursleys hadn't made it as more than a brief announcement, that wasn't totally comforting. Still, Tudor had said the same, so that was some comfort.
The group broke up at 11:00 Saturday morning. Tudor had left the previous morning. Henry escorted Sabrina and Ron back to the Ysgol, and would return to London that evening.
The rest of the group portkeyed to Lloyd's cottage in Hogsmeade. "Your gear will be sent up to the castle later," Lloyd told them. "Why don't we got over to the Three Broomsticks for lunch, or an early dinner, as it would be now."
The teens shrugged. Tom and Lloyd escorted the five teens, while Tabitha and Percy made their way to the castle to report in. No one remarked that Hermione now had pierced ears.
"Well, Harry," Professor Dumbledore said as Harry settled into a chair, "I hope you had a productive holiday?"
"Yes, sir. At least I hope so, sir."
Snape, the only other person in the Headmaster's office, sneered slightly.
"Obviously, I should not be a receiver of the more sensitive information, Headmaster. However, I will point out that Potter here will have to find some place more secure than his relatives' this summer. The Dark Lord has found one way to breech the defenses. He will find another. And unless Potter has achieved his goals in Occlumency, he probably should not know your plans, either."
"You haven't tried my defenses, Professor," Harry said quietly.
"Obviously, since you challenge me, you can stand up to an expected attack," Snape said, with a curl of his lip.
"Any time, Professor," Harry offered.
"Yes, good idea," Dumbledore agreed. He turned to Snape. "However, if you do take Harry up on this offer, Severus, you may not punish him for any actions he takes in response."
"Fair enough," Snape conceded.
"I know I left a message that I wanted to see you as soon as you returned to the castle," Dumbledore told Harry, "however, I need to discuss some important intelligence with Severus. Could we meet in the morning at Nine?"
"Yes, sir," Harry answered, standing.
"Severus?" Dumbledore prompted.
"Yes? Oh, here," Snape said to Harry, handing him five small vials. "Give one to each of your four friends. It will put you to sleep for seven hours in about three minutes."
"Yes, sir; thank you, sir." He turned to Dumbledore to ask a question.
"Whatever your plan, Harry, please go ahead."
"Yes, sir." Harry left.
"Can you tell me what they did?" Snape asked.
"How is your Arithmancy, Severus?"
"Fair, sir. I'm sure you remember I earned an O N.E.W.T., but I confess I haven't kept up on it, other than as it applies to potions."
"See if you can understand this." The original arithmatical schematic of Harry's connections with Voldemort appeared. It took Snape nearly half an hour, but he understood it.
"I should not tell you what was done, or what training Harry will receive," Dumbledore stated. "However, we hope to block off the problems you see here, and give Harry the training he needs to control his powers. He also has access to a group's reserve power."
"Two questions for you to ponder, Headmaster," Snape said after a few minutes reflection, frowning. "For the short-term, can the boy actually kill the Dark Lord? I don't mean will he have the ability and power to do so. I mean, can he actually, deliberately, kill? It is not an easy thing to do, deliberately killing a man, for most people. Can he actually do it?"
"There are two beings I believe Harry can steel himself to kill: Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort."
"And if he can, will he be able to stop? Can we trust him with this much power?" Snape shrugged. "Can we trust anyone with this much power?"
"I believe so, Severus. Unless Harry has reserves which even I can't see, without this boost in power, he is slightly less powerful than I. The group can also monitor the power he draws from them." On that first point, Dumbledore was fooling himself. Harry was already Voldemort's equal, and thus slightly more powerful than Dumbledore.
"You believe you can trust him? Does that mean you hope so? Or do you believe you can really trust him?"
"It means what I say it means," Dumbledore said.
"And what happens if we can't? What happens if he turns?"
"This boy will never turn, Severus," Dumbledore said sternly.
"Very well, I'll accept that for now. However, will he show the restraint you have? Or will he try to control the wizarding world, not for his benefit, but for the benefit of others? After all, he will still grow stronger over time. Potter's friends, especially Granger, are so idealistic they could cause as many wars as Grindelwald. Even if they do so from the best of motives, they could still cause as much suffering as Grindelwald did from more questionable motives."
Dumbledore suddenly sagged a bit. "Now you have identified a possible problem for the future," he agreed, to Snape's shock. "Wars do not always start from base or even questionable motives. Harry will never be even tempted into fighting for power. He may be tempted into fighting to right wrongs which should be fought politically instead of by force."
"Is that why you refused to take office, Headmaster?" Snape asked, curious.
"Of course it is," he answered wearily, "or at least one reason. The daily administration of the school is nothing compared to being minister, and I find the current amount of red tape and bureaucracy frustrating enough as it is. I would find being minister close to intolerable. Yet more importantly, I would find it galling to work through committees and bureaucracies and community meetings. It takes a special person to be able to work in such an environment."
"That's not what we were talking about, sir."
Dumbledore sighed. "No, of course it isn't. Not directly, anyway. No, I fear Harry may be tempted to use force to do good. That, alas, almost never works. Force may at times be needed to correct evil, and good may therefore result, but we can not force people to be good."
"If it were possible, you would have forced me years ago," Snape agreed. "What are we going to do about it?"
"At this point, there is little we can do. I have seen it fail too often to be seriously tempted, but the temptation is always there. Miss Lovegood would instinctively see the problem. So, to lesser degrees, would Miss Weasley, Mister Longbottom, and even Mister Ron Weasley."
"How about Granger?"
"Exactly. Miss Granger is tempted in that direction. It is the one personality characteristic of hers I think we would both agree is a flaw." Dumbledore sat up straighter in his chair and slightly shook his head, as if to clear away whatever visions he might have seen. "These are problems for the far future, Severus. Let us defeat evil, and then worry about where good might inadvertently lead us."
"Yes, Headmaster," Snape said smoothly, standing, an idea forming in his mind. "It is certainly nothing to worry about . . . for the moment." Snape left, smiling on the inside, knowing that while he would never be able to test Potter's defenses now, in the end, he might win.