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 Hidden arrive at H...
Saturday, January 4, 1997
Albus Dumbledore had scuffed his way into his office early Saturday morning. He had stayed up late the night before, going over all the many threads he held in his skilled hands. Things, he had thought, might finally be coming together.
"Good morning, Mister Dumbledore."
It was nearly impossible to shock or surprise or even startle Albus Dumbledore. Confronted by a druid sitting in his office, unannounced, unadmitted -- Dumbledore would have confessed to all that and more.
"I am Cadfael ap Tudur ap Mawrth ap Rhys. I believe you know of me?"
"You helped direct Harry's community ritual," Dumbledore managed to say.
"Quite so. I am here to tell you we are taking up an option on your lease."
Dumbledore frowned, wishing he'd had his usual cup of strong tea, or better yet a triple espresso followed by an extra large Turkish coffee. "Lease?"
"You are not aware that the area around us, the areas of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, the lake in between, the fields, and the area you sometimes call the Forbidden Forest are all ours? The Hidden, the Holders of the True Faith, that is? Well, it is. We leased it to the Four Founders of Hogwarts, in what you would call the year 948, although the actual building started the next year, and the first students were admitted in 960."
Dumbledore managed to sit in his chair. With a bit more effort, he managed to force his jaws closed.
"One reason why the wards are so strong at Hogwarts is the magic of this area. And the magic is powerful because we helped make it so over a period of some five thousand years. Shall I produce the magical contracts?"
Dumbledore shook his head, "No. At least not yet."
"Very good. Now, about six miles into the Forest is a small stone circle. We are reactivating it. A small group of us will be staying around it in a village."
"Because Harry Potter is a key, not just to destroying this Voldemort, but a key to magic. There has not been a key born in Europe since the year 1429. The key before that was Godric Gryffindor, and the one before him was Myrddin, or Merlin if you prefer."
"And who was the last one?"
"The Master who led the Hidden over the Sea, and convinced those who call themselves the Old or True Believers to come with us."
"Is Harry . . . is Harry a key for your return? For the Scouring?"
"No," Cadfael stated. "Harry is like most of the previous keys. He stands for justice within the wizarding world. However, his victory will enable the True Believers to return and start proselytizing to the magical in western and central Europe. We have always had communities of the Faithful and the Hidden in our most important sites, which have remained veiled from your view. It is time to come back. And we are sure Harry can use our help, should this Voldemort come back stronger than Tudor Myrddin expects."
"I see. How did you get in here without setting off any wards or alarms?"
"Like I said, the magic here is our magic. We are in control."
Dumbledore did not feel assured. "You and your friends around Harry are a very arrogant group of young people."
"We are," Cadfael agreed. "And you are a very arrogant old man. You have over a hundred years experience on us, but that doesn't mean you're right. You have been fighting so hard to preserve life, to preserve society, that you have forgotten the lessons a master taught you when you traveled to North America as young man."
"I won't ask how you know that," Dumbledore stated.
"If you had taken the time to marvel at the lives you were trying to save, you might have understood them better. You can't go from little town to town, trying to fix the injustices of the world as Doctor Lao did, but you can still take a leaf from the old man's teachings, as I have tried to. Marvel at life, Albus Dumbledore. Not your own, of course, but at those around you. Then, perhaps, you will understand them a bit better."
"I shall try."
"We shall also provide a very nice person to run discussions of the Faith here over the next two and a half years. I hope you will allow any who wish to listen to our teaching to attend."
"Until later." Dumbledore stared in amazement, as Cadfael slowly faded from his sight.
Sunday, January 5, 1997
"Well, well, I was wondering when either you or your friend would show up." Draco sneered. "What does the half-blood want now?"
"You really have a death wish, Malfoy."
"Corner, you're hardly in a position to criticize."
"At least I still have my wand."
"And yet you're on the run for telling that whining cow something that no Ravenclaw should have been stupid enough to believe."
Corner shrugged. "We were leaving anyway. Interesting, that he turned to us, instead of you."
"What were you doing?" Draco asked, interested despite himself.
"I'm hardly about to tell you, am I?" Corner retorted. "Now, are you willing to give us a little help, or not?"
"Help to do what?"
"Help for the Master," Corner snapped.
"Temper, temper," Draco reproved. "Be specific."
"We need at least three longish hairs from Potter."
"Three hairs? Polyjuice?"
"No, a summoning spell. Maybe as soon as Potter hits seventeen, maybe at Halloween, or at any point in between, the Master will be able to bring Potter to him. Well, if he's within six hundred miles or so he can summons him, which he certainly should be, after September First if not before."
"Has Potter been out of the country?"
Corner shrugged. "We don't know for sure, but we think so. We do know Weasley wasn't at the Ysgol over the vacation, so either he was back here without visiting his family, or Potter and his friends were with him someplace else, which seems more likely. We think Spain was the most likely place."
"Sounds reasonable," Draco admitted. He scowled at Corner. "Why didn't your Master use this charm before?" Draco demanded.
"It summons a person to a duel, so. . . ."
". . .it can't be used on those underage," Draco cut in. "Yes, that does make sense. Nothing before that?"
"A few plans are in motion, which may or may not result in Dumbledore's dismissal. They will certainly cause damage and embarrassment to Dumbledore and the Council if they work. If they don't, well, they're more for testing the new recruits. We already passed ours."
"He doesn't want to strike in a major way while the Confederation people are running things, does he?"
"Why challenge an extra opponent?"
Draco smiled. "I still have a few low-level people in the Ministry. The Ministry doesn't get full sovereignty back unless Myrddin and Dorff are in charge of security until your Master is caught and destroyed. No one anywhere near the top seems inclined to oppose the idea."
"Look at the recent articles in The Prophet. Taxes will be raised before the International leaves, to insure that families like mine won't be able to influence the Ministry through donations."
Corner looked even more discouraged.
"Now, is there a time limit on when he needs the hair?"
"No. Any time before the end of term. We need at least three, but obviously the more the better."
"I can't promise it will be done, but I can promise it will be attempted."
"I shall let the Master know."
"You do that."
"You behave yourself, Princess," Henry told his daughter.
"I will, Dad," Sabrina replied in the exasperated, sighing tones of a typical teen. "Don't let Mom off the hook again."
"I'll do my best," Henry replied. He smiled, stooped slightly, and kissed her cheek.
Henry straightened up and scowled at Ron. "You'd best behave yourself, too," he growled at Ron.
Ron straightened to attention and swallowed nervously. "Yes, sir." Dorff nodded, and reentered the floo network to go to Newton, where he could start the process of returning to London.
Ron heaved a huge sigh of relief. Sabrina smiled and took his hand. "Regrets?" she asked.
"No," Ron admitted. "The holidays got off to a rocky start, but after that . . . no, no regrets. You?"
"None," she said. "We're helping my parents and your friends. I got to meet your brother and sister, and your friends. And above all. . . ." She tugged at Ron's collar, and they kissed deeply.
"Yeah," Ron whispered a few seconds later, "that was a very good part."
"It's still early. Maybe one of the little study rooms are open," she whispered back.
"The one that locks, and has that window in the door that's been permanently obscured?"
"That's the one."
"And what shall we do there?"
"Nothing we haven't done before," Sabrina warned. Then she smiled, "but we'll enjoy it."
"We will," Ron agreed.
Hogwarts, Gryffindor Common Room
"Something's happened with them," Lavender said to her friends. She leaned back into Seamus' arms. He squeezed her gently, making certain his forearms caressed the undersides of her breasts. Lavender giggled slightly and lightly slapped his arms.
"Cut that out, you two, if we're going to have a serious talk," Parvati hissed.
"Jealous?" Lavender teased.
"I know how to use my hands, and everything else," Dean murmured. He'd spent a lot of the break listening to Berry White, and found he now had the voice to imitate him, "I just know when to use them."
"That's right," Parvati agreed, following that up by sticking a tongue out at her best friend.
"Don't show it unless you mean to use it," Seamus said, which made the other three roll their eyes.
"Let's get back to the quintet," Dean said softly. "I assume you meant all five of them."
"They're closer," Lavender said. "They've only been back less than a day, and you can see it in their eyes. Those four act like they know where each one is at all times, and you can bet they're the same with Luna."
"Or at least Harry is," Seamus pointed out.
"No, look at them," Lavender said. "If Harry is that connected to Neville, then they're all connected to Luna."
The quartet near the window looked at the quartet near the fireplace. Even to anyone who didn't know them well, Harry and his friends formed little more than just a well-integrated unit. To the people who knew them well, like the quartet watching them, the change was amazing.
After almost forty-five more minutes of watching them while snuggling together, Parvati said softly, "In some ways, it's like . . . it's like watching me and Padma, or the Weasley twins."
"So they're not a quintet, they're quintuplets?" Seamus asked.
"That sounds about right," Dean agreed.
"Do you think Harry's doing anything with Ginny or Hermione?" Seamus asked softly.
"I doubt if he's doing much with either, especially Ginny," Lavender answered. "I also doubt Neville's doing anything with Hermione or Luna."
Lavender and Parvati exchanged a look that said that they would discuss other possibilities when the boys weren't around. Seamus and Dean both missed it. All of their attention was drawn to the four students standing up. Hermione hugged Neville, and hugged and kissed Harry lightly on the lips. Ginny also kissed Harry lightly, and Neville more deeply, and they all moved off together.
"I don't think we should try and hook Hermione up, even if it turns out she and Ron aren't together any more," Dean said.
"Look at the way Harry was moving -- raw power," Parvati said. "No one had better hit on her, either. If Hermione doesn't obliterate them, you can bet Harry will."
Unaware that the commentary on them had barely started, the quintet took their sleep potion, and quickly fell asleep.
With one exception, for Harry and his classmates the start of the spring term would be much as the autumn. The exception was apparation lessons. 'Apparation' covered several related concepts. The easiest was learning to apparate within one's line-of-sight. Students also learned the theory behind apparating to a familiar place, and also the hardest type of apparation, apparating to a set position by coordinates.
Nearly every witch and wizard could learn line-of-sight apparation, since all it took was a simple spell and not taking your eyes off your objective. The other two types of apparation took much more theoretical work and practice. Only those who could pass a very strict set of written and practical exams would receive licenses.
It was the practice that caused the problems. The majority of students understood that one could not apparate in and out of Hogwarts or the grounds. Some, however, failed to understand that this included apparating within the bounds of Hogwarts. About every three years, some student got splinched, which was nearly as painful as it looked, although not as deadly.
The problem was, it was so tempting to try out line-of-sight apparation out on the grounds, even on cold winter days. This year, the students resisted the temptation. The second Friday afternoon of the term, from 2:30 until 4:00, the chilled Sixth year students, and a few Seventh years, made their way out towards the gate leading to the Hogwarts grounds.
Normally, Madam Hooch taught apparation without aid. This year, Remus Lupin, Tobias Jones, and Tonks and two other aurors accompanied Madam Hooch and the students.
"Right," Madam Hooch said, turning on the students. "First of all, remember everything I told you back when you were learning how to fly back in your first year. Think of how much more serious and dangerous apparation is compared to simply flying a broomstick."
She let that sink in. The message was clear and obvious.
"You all should know that if you try to apparate on the other side of the gate, you will end up in pieces. Think about that for a moment or two!"
After a pause, she continued, "Now that that prospect has sunk in at least a little, now remember this. If you try to apparate in or off the grounds, those pieces will be larger in number, smaller in size, and all that much more difficult to join back together."
She glared at the students and brandished her wand. "Does anyone wish me to slice off a hand and foot, so that you feel what it will belike if you do something foolish this time?"
Needless to say, no one volunteered.
"Now, last week, we went over what you will be learning this term. No doubt, most of you read ahead to learn, or at least read, the spells. Therefore, many of you are just itching to try the basic line-of-sight spell at the least. Well, this is your chance."
There was a lot of happy murmuring at that.
"Quiet down! The good news is, unless you pick someplace stupid to try and apparate to, you won't splinch yourself. Remember, for this basic spell, you must pick a spot that is clear, where there are no obstacles directly in your path."
Hooch pulled out a small red square, and with a tap of her wand, it enlarged into a large red rubber mat. "This is what you will aim for. We'll go sixty feet down the road, and you'll try and apparate here. Then, I'll go another forty feet down the road and place another mat and you'll apparate back to me. Then, we'll go another fifty feet down the road and you'll apparate back."
Hooch's look swept along the line of chilled students. "Brown! What do you need to do besides see the spot you're aiming for and see the spell?"
"Concentrate on the movement, Madam."
"Thomas, what could happen if you don't concentrate, but there's a clear path?"
"You might apparate, but leave your clothes behind."
"Correct. Ignoring the embarrassment, you will certainly catch a chill today! Now, stand on the mat one at a time, and look up at the gate. That's what you should end up looking at. Stand just for a few seconds, and come along! Hurry!"
The entire class managed to make the line-of-sight apparations. When the last student had made the 150 foot jump, they were all happy to hurry into the castle and return to the classroom, where they had been promised hot chocolate.
Most of the students were chattering happily away on their way and more so once they grabbed a large mug of hot chocolate. Some were bragging, pretending that mastering the basic level of this simply spell implied they would have as easy a time with the harder levels.
The students milled about, talking. Harry was surprised that Pansy and Millicent came over to talk with him. "Well, Potter, you seem to have a clue," Millicent boomed, "what was all that security about?"
"We're outside most of the wards, which is why we can apparate," Harry replied, basically quoting how Hermione had explained the idea to a Third year.
"I know that! What I meant was, do you think it likely we'll be attacked?"
Harry gave that some consideration. "To be honest, probably not. But I guess the thinking is, better safe than sorry, right?"
"I suppose. Good luck, Potter." Millicent gave him a hearty slap on the back, which moved him about five feet forward and dumped his Gryffindor scarf towards the floor. Pansy caught it, and handed it to Harry.
No one noticed her pocketing one of Harry's hairs.
Harry's main concern in January was not apparation, however. Neither was it thinking about classes, or even worrying about Voldemort. He was searching for a keeper. No one practiced Quidditch in January, and Harry wasn't cruel enough to try.
What he had done the first Friday night of the term was call a House meeting. Harry had made a ten minute speech on House unity and gotten all the students riled up. Then Harry announced that every afternoon that it wasn't storming and was when he didn't have class, he would be out on the pitch from 4:00 until 5:00. Between the next day and February 16 (a Sunday), he expected to see every Gryffindor, Second year and above, on a broomstick at least twice. When the First years complained, he told them he would allow any that Madam Hooch brought to him to try out as well.
When Hermione, Parvati, Lavender and a few other girls protested being included, Harry appealed to their Gryffindor spirit. All quickly backed down, except for Hermione. Harry then privately pointed out all the reasons Hermione should participate, starting with her position as a prefect, setting a good example for the students, and ending with pointing out that merely being a good prefect and a brilliant student was not enough to claim the position of Head Girl. Participating in the preliminary try-outs for keeper would show she was willing to put the needs of the House and school above her preferences.
Hermione made certain that no one under a Fifth year was in the line of sight, and made a very rude gesture in Harry's face. "You'd better give me a better reason than that, Potter," she added, trying to sound tough. "And don't say 'because everyone else is, either."
"All right," Harry said, "I can only think of one more reason."
"And that is?"
"Because I'm asking you to, because it's important to me."
Hermione's jaw dropped at the sincerity in Harry's tone. "All right," Hermione said, "but if anyone laughs, I'm hexing them into next week."
"If anyone laughs, I'll help you hex them," Harry stated.
This was how Hermione, Lavender, and four other of the girls who admitted to being 'nervous flyers' found themselves just inside the entrance to the Quidditch pitch the second Saturday of the term. (None of the boys would admit to being nervous flyers, including the Second year who had thrown up every time his broom went higher than four feet off the ground the year before.)
The only other person with them was Natalie Macdonald, the young chaser. Katie Bell and Ginny Weasley were guarding the entrance to the pitch.
"I still don't see why we have to do this," Hermione complained.
"The House team needs a player. Even though there's no chance we'll make it, we should still show the others that everyone has a chance," Lavender said. "Really, Hermione, you of all people should know how motivation and morale work. If we have to look a little foolish so some of the shyer students will have the guts to try out, I'm willing to look a little foolish."
"And you have to admit, Harry's arranged it so we don't look foolish in front of too many people," Margene Banks, a Fourth year, remarked.
"True," Hermione acknowledged.
"Now what's he doing?" Lavender wondered as Harry stood in front of them, right at the entrance of the stadium, and raised his wand like a conductor. Harry summonsed all the snow from the stands to the pitch, and then levitated the snow on the pitch and let it fall back to the ground, and then repeated the action twice, breaking up the harder snow. The girls knew if they fell, they'd have a relatively soft landing.
It was also a display of power and control like none of them had ever seen before, especially not from Harry. The girls all looked at Hermione, who shook her head in amazement.
Hermione hadn't felt Harry draw any extra power. She wasn't certain if this meant she was already so used to the effect that she didn't feel it, if Harry had always had this much power and just hadn't had the confidence to use it, or if his power had hit a growth spurt.
Hermione spent several hours later on determining that Harry hadn't, in fact, drawn any power, which left her a bit in awe and a bit less worried about the future.
"Who wants to go first?" Harry asked.
The girls looked at each other, and finally Margene volunteered. As Harry was explaining to the girl what he wanted, and the girls got over realizing that Harry had somehow secured a Nimbus 2001 for them to fly on, Lavender leaned over to Hermione, "I've never heard of anyone manipulating that much mass at once, even with a simple spell, let alone lifting it what? between six and ten feet? Sweeping up all that snow was one thing, I mean Flitwick or McGonagall probably could have done that. . . ."
"But not in less than three minutes, like Harry did," Hermione pointed out. "And lifting the snow was even more amazing, not just because of the mass, but because it wasn't one solid object. Harry didn't manage to levitate every last ice and snow crystal, but he came close, and I didn't see any falling back before he dropped it."
"I didn't either," Lavender agreed. "Harry might never have the depth of knowledge Dumbledore has, but I bet he'll have access to as much power, if he doesn't already."
'And that's not all the power he has access to,' Hermione told herself. While a little less worried about Harry's chances against Voldemort, she was starting to wonder how others would feel when they learned how powerful Harry really was.
In less than an hour, the girls had been put through their paces. All of them decided that flying really wasn't nearly as bad as they remembered.
Once they were back in the castle, Hermione saw Katie Bell give Natalie Macdonald a little shove in Hermione's direction. Hermione let the Third year steer her away from the group.
"Hermione," the girl said, her voice quavering, "you did really well today."
"I really didn't," Hermione answered, smiling. "Somehow, Harry made it seem safe."
"What can I do for you?"
"You're not dating Ron any more, are you?"
"No, no I'm not. Why?"
"Could you take me to the Valentine's Dance?" The first dance of the term would be Valentine's Day.
"I know," Natalie said. "I found out there are going to be a few other same-gender couples going. I know you're not gay, but I can't go unless an older student asks me and I really don't like any of the boys. And we don't have to dance, but I really admire you. If you aren't planning on going with someone else, would you at least consider it?"
Hermione had both wanted to go and also had to attend (since she was a prefect), but didn't know how to do it without leading any boy on. This would certainly distract attention away from her current interests. Hermione smiled at the girl, "As long you tell everyone we're just going as friends, I'd be proud to escort you to the dance."
If you haven't seen the movie 'The Seven Faces of Doctor Lao', look it up and enjoy!