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, Draco's plan goes int...
Thursday, January 23, 1997
"What did you want to talk about?" Harry asked Hermione. She had invited Harry and Luna into the small room the group of friends shared, but had asked if Harry knew any place more private.
He had thought about that and then retrieved the Map. He took the girls to what he had identified as one of Sirius' 'love nests.' He hadn't taken Luna there; they either used his parents' or Remus'.
"How did you do that last Saturday?" Hermione blurted out. Luna nodded. Having heard what had happened, she had decided she and Hermione should try to help Harry figure out what happened, since she sensed Harry was still working things out.
"What? Get you back on a broom?" Harry teased. "You were pretty good, even though you only flew four feet over the snow and flew at about two miles an hour."
"I'm sure it was at least five miles an hour, which is a good speed for walking," Hermione said on her dignity, "not to mention that you should know perfectly well what I'm talking about."
"Moving the snow?"
"Moving the snow from the stands was amazing enough. I mean, I could have swept the snow from the stands to the field, but it would have taken me well over half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes, to get it that clean. It took you about three minutes. And while a few people, like Professor Dumbledore, probably have the power to lift all that snow, it really looked like you didn't lose a crystal."
Harry's shoulders sagged. "I know." He looked pensive for almost a minute, and then he asked, "Hermione, what does it feel like when you do magic?"
Hermione frowned. "What do you mean? Sometimes my hand tingles a bit, but that's usually when I'm not doing something quite right." She turned to Luna.
"I would agree," Luna said simply, "although sometimes it feels as if I am scooping some power out of a stream."
"Or even redirecting a little of it," Hermione agreed. "It's so subjective, though, I hadn't thought of the analogy."
Harry sat on the old sofa that was in the small room. "I've always had this other feeling. I don't really know how to describe it."
"Don't worry about a flawed analogy, Harry. Just come close," Hermione encouraged.
"Okay, imagine a wide valley with a dam across it. The water, the magic, builds up behind it. But in my case, it doesn't threaten to overflow, it just builds up further and farther behind the dam."
"Go on," Hermione encouraged.
"So it's always felt like there's this huge reserve of magic that I just can't access. It's as if there's usually just this one pipe that I can use to access the magic. Every once in a while, there's another small pipe that bursts through for a moment, like when I blew up Aunt Marge."
"Is it always small?" Luna asked.
"Pretty much," Harry answered, thoughtfully. "About the only time I felt I was accessing more power was when I scattered all those dementors at the end of our Third year. No. . . ." he then added, "wait."
Harry paused in thought, and the two women waited for him to work out his thoughts. "I think that was the problem when Snape was trying to teach me Occlumency. It felt like he was blocking the pipeline. When Voldemort possessed me at the Ministry, I drove him out, and it was like the pipeline opened wider."
"Last Saturday, I suddenly felt like I could access all the power I wanted, and I did. It felt like there was only one thing holding me back from letting all the power flow through all the pipes."
"That if you let all the power flow at once, the force might weaken the structure of the dam, meaning your very self," Luna stated.
"Exactly," Harry agreed. "And then I realized something."
"That if you got into trouble, you could draw power from the community to control what you were doing," Hermione concluded.
"Exactly." Harry smiled a little. "I almost needed to draw on that power, too. And I did talk with Dumbledore about this Tuesday."
"What did he have to say about it?"
"He reminded me that while it didn't involve as much mass, I had actually witnessed a display of at least equal power." Harry smiled a bit more. "You both saw it, too."
"When?" Hermione demanded.
"Second year!" Luna piped up.
"When in our Third year did . . . oh! When Dumbledore conjured those sleeping bags!"
"Exactly. They weren't a temporary creation. I think mine's still stuck at the very bottom of one of my trunk's compartments."
"Mine's at the cottage," Luna added.
"It takes a lot of power to permanently create something like those sleeping bags, let alone a few hundred of them," Hermione agreed. "I still think you might have used more."
"Maybe, but I used everything I had," Harry retorted.
"Perhaps," Luna responded, "or perhaps you used as much as you thought you had. It was more than enough to complete the job, wasn't it?"
"It was," Harry admitted.
"Can you access that kind of power consistently?" Hermione asked.
"No," Harry admitted. "Still, that's likely just a matter of time. It's scary to think I might have constant access to that much power, or possibly even more!"
"Why?" Hermione asked curiously.
"Because if in the future I'm that more powerful than Dumbledore. . . ."
"Which still isn't proven," Hermione interjected.
"Which still isn't proven," Harry agreed, "Can I, can anyone, be trusted with that kind of power? Especially when it can be augmented by the group?"
"You can be trusted," Luna said. "You are a few years from channeling that kind of power consistently, and you are a very moral person, Harry."
"I have to agree," Hermione added. "I can't see anyone other than Voldemort and his group worrying about you."
"Well," Harry said, lightening up and looking to tease his friend, "if you don't have to worry about me, do we have to worry about you?"
Hermione frowned. "Me? About what?"
"Your date with Nate," Harry said with a straight face, changing the subject. "Pulling a Viktor, dating someone that much younger than you are?"
"Prefects are required to attend, and I didn't want to go with some random guy, like I did in December," Hermione said simply. "I know taking Natalie will cause some rumors to fly, but hopefully once we're there everyone will see there's nothing really going on."
Harry and Luna both rolled their eyes at that naive statement, but decided to let it pass. Luna wasn't argumentative by nature, and Harry knew arguing would likely result in a long lecture on tolerance.
Over the next three weeks, more and more of the students' attention was drawn to the Valentine's Dance. The rumors about a number of same-sex couples went into high gear when it was discovered that Hermione was part of one of them. When Natalie's identity came out, the young girl underwent a modest amount of harassment by the boys in her year and older, although not the Gryffindors. Those few tempted knew better than to say anything, as they realized most of the Fifth and Sixth years were backing Hermione and protecting Natalie. Few students from any House would dare make a comment directly to Hermione, in any event. A few public comments were made by the Ravenclaw Clique and assorted Slytherins (led by Pansy Parkinson), but never within earshot of Hermione, Harry, or Ginny Weasley.
As the dance came closer, numerous individuals and groups tried to come up with ways of celebrating Valentine's Day. The Fifth years, unsurprisingly, were the most interested in finding a way to blow off steam.
This was not unusual. What was unusual was that this year, the Fifth year girls actually came up with an idea.
What only a few people ever knew was that the idea had originated in the bored mind of Draco Malfoy.
Sunday, February 9, 1997
"You are going to do WHAT!"
"There's no need to shout, Harry," Ginny scolded.
"Let me understand this," Hermione said, in full prefect mode, "the Fifth year girls are having a kissing contest?"
"Exactly. The girls, Fifth years only, get one point for kissing someone in the their House, and two points for those in other Houses. The kissing starts Thursday morning at Seven and ends Friday at Five. No repeats allowed. There has to be two witnesses to each kiss. The kiss must be on the lips. No tongues," Ginny warned. "No kissing in the common rooms or class rooms allowed. No kissing coming into the great hall or at the tables. Kissing between classes is allowed, but not for the five minutes before class. Only Fifth years get to play. The highest scorer in each House gets lunch for two at either the Three Broomsticks or Madam Puddifoots, while the overall winner gets double."
"And?" Harry demanded. He knew Ginny well enough to know she was hiding something.
Ginny mumbled something.
"What?" Harry demanded, hoping he had misunderstood.
Ginny sighed. "Everyone gets two extra points for kissing you."
"Oh, God," Harry moaned.
"Every boy's dream," Neville teased.
"Yes, well, quite a few will be after you, too," Ginny snapped. "You hadn't better enjoy it!"
"Good thing it's a Thursday and Friday," Harry said. "No classes for me except Apparation. I can hide out here."
"Is de big bwave Gwiffindor afwaid?" Carol Sloan, one of Ginny's year mates teased. Harry, who hated baby talk after his run-in with Bellatrix Lestrange, glared at Carol. "Meep!" The Fifth year hid behind her boyfriend.
"Anything else?" Hermione asked.
"Oh! No lipstick, lip gloss, or lip balm or anything like that allowed."
"Great, I guess I won't get poisoned," Harry groused. "Why couldn't someone else have a bounty on their heads?"
Ginny looked apologetic. "Actually, anyone who gets Hermione gets one extra point."
"Oh, God," Hermione complained.
Thursday, February 13, 1997
"Are you ready?" Harry asked.
"No," Hermione retorted.
"Me neither," Harry acknowledged. They shrugged and went out of the common room.
Ginny and the other four Gryffindor Fifth years were waiting near the portrait of the Fat Lady, as were Luna and Geneva, the Fifth year Hufflepuff security prefect.
"Thank you for doing this," Geneva said.
"You're welcome, but first things first," Harry said. "I thought you all had a temporary counting spell put on you last night?" After the staff had stopped arguing against the Fifth year plan (now dubbed 'Operation Snog'), Professor Flitwick had agreed to put a charm on the Fifth year girls which automatically added the points.
"That's right," Ginny said.
"Then how come nobody has any points yet?" Hermione demanded.
"How would we get points already?" Carol asked.
Luna and Hermione sighed. "What?" Ginny demanded. Luna leaned over and kissed her startled friend on the lips. The number '2' now flashed over Luna's right shoulder.
"Why doesn't Ginny have two points?" another Gryffindor asked.
"She doesn't have two points," Luna said. "I kissed her, she didn't kiss me."
"Oh . . . OH!"
When the girls who were willing to kiss other girls had earned their points, Ginny, Carol, Geneva, and Luna collected their points from Hermione. Harry then allowed each girl kiss him, although he lingered over a long, deep kiss with Luna. The other girls left as it went on, except for Hermione and Ginny.
"How many points do you plan on earning?" Harry teased Luna at the end of their kiss.
"I have all the points I plan on earning," Luna replied. "What do you and Hermione plan on doing now?" She knew Harry had discounted using his invisibility cloak.
"Something nice and inconspicuous," Harry answered. With that, he disillusioned Hermione, and added a distraction spell as well. "Hermione has Runes and Arithmancy this morning, and University Prep tomorrow, and we both have Apparation tomorrow. My private coaching sessions are on hold. I think they decided dealing with this counts as a test."
"Good luck," Luna said. "Try not to be caught too often."
"With luck, their only decent chances will be when I'm escaping meals." Harry disillusioned himself and then added the distraction spell as well.
"Try not to run into too many people!" Ginny called out.
The game had started.
As Hermione set her hair in preparation for the dance, she realized that she hadn't been terribly bothered by the contest. Half the girls had no interest in collecting points from any girl, and stuck with kissing boys they had always wanted an excuse to kiss. Most of the other girls only kissed selected girls. However, the Fifth year Clique member, Margot Smythe, and all the Slytherin girls kissed her, and most had kissed her quite passionately at that. 'I guess they're playing to win,' Hermione thought.
She had endured a modest amount of teasing when the identity of her 'date' had officially come out the day before. More of it had to do with the age difference than with the gender of her escort. That made Hermione wonder about how much teasing Viktor had endured. Hermione and Natalie were each about a year younger than Viktor and she had been at the time of the Yule Ball, so the age differences were about the same.
Hermione adjusted the color of her robe to a slightly lighter shade of medium-dark red. She was glad now she hadn't gone for a plunging neckline on her robes. The tattoos would have shown. Ginny was going to have to have her second robe adjusted before the second dance in May.
Hermione had remembered to order Natalie a wrist corsage. She picked it up and left the mirrors to the other girls.
Harry had had a much tougher time with the contest, getting mobbed every time he tried to leave the great hall. A number of the girls had been rather passionate with Harry, and he was complaining of bruised lips. He was just glad the game was over, and hoped it wouldn't be repeated the next year. He headed out of his room a little early, and waved to Hermione on the stairs. He hurried over towards Ravenclaw.
As Hermione and Harry were heading down the stairs, Pansy Parkinson was heading out of the Slytherin common room. She walked briskly to the owlery.
Sure enough, the eagle owl was waiting for her, as she had expected. Longbottom's hair was cut too short to allow anyone to collect it easily, and Weasley and Lovegood were too young for this spell to have any application, so those were mere bonuses. Potter should be dead long before they came of age. On the other hand, she had a dozen long hairs from Mudblood Granger, and fifteen somewhat shorter ones from Potty Potter.
Hopefully, that was enough.
Pansy smiled. She had almost given up on Draco the previous November. Now she was glad she hadn't. There was still a chance he might end up on top, and if he did, she would be at his side.
At first, Harry wondered why so many people were looking at his table at the dance. The quintet, plus Natalie, sat at the twelve person table. Dean, Parvati, Seamus, Lavender, Padma, and Morag McDougal sat with them. Harry suspected it was because all of the other same gender couples either sat together at one tables, or were sitting in such a way as to disguise they were a same gender couple. Colin and his Seventh year Ravenclaw boyfriend, for example, had escorted a pair of Hufflepuff Fifth year girls who were dating.
Of the people at Harry's table, only Seamus and Lavender danced nearly every dance, although Dean and Parvati weren't too far behind. As at the previous dance, Harry and Luna only danced the slow dances. Ginny and Neville danced more than Harry and Luna, but less than the other heterosexual couples.
Padma and Morag spent the first quarter of the dance eyeing each other nervously while Hermione kept up a strong conversation. Finally, Hermione had had enough, and as a medium-slow song started she stood and held her hand out to Natalie. The younger girl smiled nervously, but stood up and took Hermione's hand.
Hermione looked at the other two young women and gave them a challenging look. They also smiled nervously, and stood up while holding hands. The two same-sex couples moved onto the dance floor, and before the song was over the other same-gender couples were on the floor as well.
"Thank you, Hermione," Natalie said, watching the other couples sweep by.
"Don't thank me yet," Hermione said. "This is just a tiny early step. This will just make some people angry, and make some people hide deeper in the closet."
"But it's another step," Natalie answered. "I don't know if I'm gay or not, but I want to have the choices."
"That's what I want to hear from the smartest, bravest witch in her year," Hermione agreed. "In my third year, most of the Slytherins said I hung around Harry and Ron because I was so ugly I couldn't be normal. The Ravenclaw girls who formed this Clique back then said I acted and thought like I was a boy." Hermione laughed softly. "I rather think Ron thought I was a boy in drag until the middle of the Fourth year."
Natalie laughed as well. "Were you any of those things?"
"I wasn't terribly attractive. You probably don't remember what I looked like at the beginning of your First year."
"No, no I guess I don't, why?"
"It wasn't . . . a real disfigurement, but my two front teeth were a few sizes too large. I'm sure you can imagine all the rodent references that were made."
"You're perfect now." Natalie blushed after saying that.
"Thank you." Hermione frowned. "Ron obviously didn't agree."
"Ron Weasley was only mature compared to his twin brothers."
"It sometimes seemed that way," Hermione agreed.
The song ended. "Thank you for dancing with me," Natalie said.
Hermione kept one hand in Natalie's as they went back to the table. "I'm enjoying it."
"Is there any chance. . . ?"
"No, not really," Hermione answered. "I really prefer men to women."
"Then why did you agree?"
"Why did you ask?"
"Because I couldn't imagine anyone better to go with than you. I really do like you."
"And I appreciate that. I prefer men, but I appreciate some women, too. And I didn't want to come with just any guy. There's no student here I'm interested in, and I didn't want to lead any one on."
"No," Natalie agreed, "you didn't lead me on."
"Good." Hermione smiled. "Let me know after Easter if you need a partner for the May Dance."
Natalie snuggled down into her bed that night, letting the light teasing of her room mates wash past her. She was happy. Hermione had kissed her good night. She might never date another girl, but tonight was perfect.
Not too far away, Harry tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable.
Far away, across the Atlantic Ocean, Ron Weasley startled his two suite mates by staggering into their bedroom, waking them up.
"/The bait has been taken for the trap;/
The Boy-Who-Lived shall be Summonsed.
/Only by Building the Powers the Other cannot Access/
/Can the Boy become a Man, and Defeat the Evil One./"
Ron passed out and fell onto Leroy's bed.
The two boys looked at each other and sighed. It was a good thing they had been warned this might happen.