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, many Gryffindors keep ...
Friday, February 14, 1997
"You look nervous, Ron," Leroy said.
"First date jitters, you figure?" Bill teased.
"Naw, who could be nervous with such a demure, sweet-tempered, young lady as Sabrina?"
"Ah," Bill said. "That must be that suave British charm we've heard so much about."
"No wonder he's so successful with the ladies."
Ron rolled his eyes. "Shouldn't you two gits be fetching your dates from the Oranges?"
"The man is right," Bill admitted.
Leroy patted Ron on the shoulder as he went by. "Don't worry, Ron," he said seriously. "You'll both have a good time."
"Why have a dance on Valentine's Day? Nothing like putting pressure on a bloke!" Ron protested.
"I think it's worse when the spring dance is in late April," Bill said. "It just makes their expectations build longer."
"Look, you have her flowers, you dressed up well, and all you have to do is dance. . . ."
"It's the Spring Dance," Bill reminded Ron. "She will expect at least a few."
"I'm doomed. I'm not very good. . . ."
Leroy shrugged. "I don't know what kind of dancing you guys to over there, but most of what we do here is rather . . . unstructured. Keep a beat, and you'll be fine."
"Come on," Bill said, taking one of Ron's arms. "We can all be brave together."
Tuesday, February 18, 1997
"My, you look like you've had a hard time recently," Draco said in a taunting tone.
Michael Corner glared at Draco, who was lounging in a leather arm chair with a brandy snifter and a smirk, with bloodshot eyes. Despite the temptation, Michael said nothing.
"My lovely and well-tempered auntie been after you?" Draco needled. "Or perhaps your master got bored and tortured you for fun recently?"
"Sod off," Corner said in a rough voice. "Do you have something for us, or not?"
"Of course I do," Draco said in a calming tone. "Fifteen hairs from Potter, and a dozen from Granger. My people also collected six hairs they believe are Potter's, but which they can't swear to, four very short hairs from Longbottom, and some from Lovegood and the Weaselette, although those can't be used for over a year. We have three dozen other hairs from various people around Potter. They're all marked, and in that satchel over by that sofa."
"Thank you," Corner said in relief.
"So, has he managed to recruit many more followers?" Draco asked, curiously.
"I wouldn't tell you either way," Corner pointed out.
"True," Draco agreed. "I was just wondering. The dementors must be getting hungry." Corner merely shuddered.
"I thought so," Draco mused. "I also received some other interesting information, by the way."
"What was that?" Corner asked despite himself.
"Potter seems to have had a surge in his power of some sort. It's not clear if it's permanent, or a flare." Flares of power were not unknown, especially in Muggle-born and second and third generation wizards and witches. Sometimes this showed the person's final power level, sometimes that final power did not meet the power of the flare. "There is also some suggestion that he, Lovegood, and Granger have formed a menage of some sort, possibly with Longbottom and the Weaselette. I'm sure I'll hear more. I told them to do more than collect gossip."
"I'll come back before Easter."
"Fine," Draco said dismissively. "Have you had any news from America, by the way?"
"Not that I know of. Why?"
"I'll let your master worry about Potter for now. I wouldn't mind having the Weasel's head mounted on my wall."
"If we get the opportunity, we'll send you a present," Corner said. He had his own minor grudges against the Weasleys.
Thursday, February 20, 1997
Harry Potter stood on a low, grassy knoll, overlooking a tropical beach. It was a fairly bright day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. Harry was watching four figures who were on the beach, perhaps thirty yards a way. They were paying no attention to him whatsoever.
One was a tired looking young man with prematurely graying hair. Normally, there were fatigue lines around his eyes, but he was asleep in a hammock, strung between two palm trees. He was relaxed for once in his life. The sun seemed to be healing some of the man's almost innumerable scars, clearly visible, since all he had on was a speedo.
An attractive red-headed woman was seated under a coconut tree, sipping some sort of exotic drink. She sat in the shade, wearing a silk beach robe to protect her from the sun, and she was watching two young men. They were playing tag in the surf, and at times a large wave would sweep the legs out from under one or the other man, much to the amusement of the red head, whose laugh could be clearly heard.
"I admit I am impressed, Harry."
Harry wasn't terribly surprised to see a middle-aged native Australian walking towards him. "Master J," he acknowledged. "Why? what's impressive about it?"
"Why? for one reason, the detail, especially the colors. This is a much more complex dreamscape than most people could conjure up in their own minds. I am assuming you have never been to such a place."
Harry gave his teacher a wan smile at that. "Hardly. I may have seen similar scenes on the telly, though."
"That's true," Master J acknowledged. "Still, unless you saw such a scene with similar action, it is still fairly impressive. Why aren't you joining them?"
That made Harry pause and think that through. "I'm not certain," he said after a few moments thought. "I think it's because I really don't know how my parents would actually act. I don't have any real memories of them, visual ones I mean. There are just little scenes in wizarding photos." 'And their screams, right before they were killed,' Harry thought.
Harry turned back to the scene. "It doesn't matter though. I don't need to talk with them, or interact with them. I just need to see them safe and happy." Harry smiled.
Harry faced the dreamwalker again. "Was there another reason this was impressive?"
"Oh, yes. There are many reasons we dream what we dream, and even I, perhaps the most learned person alive on the subject, wouldn't claim to know more than a small fraction of the reasons. This dreamscape of yours is satisfying your needs. Even if you weren't directing this dream, you would still be dreaming something with the same symbolic meanings, although no doubt much more disguised."
"And this isn't?" Harry asked.
"There are almost always many layers of meanings to dreams," Johnson agreed. "What do you think another meaning would be?"
"This represents what I've lost: my family and their loyal friends. I haven't had them in my life like they should have been," Harry pointed out.
J considered that for a moment before he responded. "Is that another reason why you're not there?"
Harry shrugged. "Maybe. More importantly, it probably stands for what I hope for most, even more than wishing for a better past."
"And what is that?"
Harry waved his hand. Remus stayed much the same, although Tonks joined him in the hammock. James and Sirius morphed into Ron and Rina, still playing in the water, although now Neville and Ginny had joined them. Lily turned into Hermione, with Luna sitting next to her.
"Your ideal future?"
"You're still not in the scene," Johnson pointed out.
"I don't want to go from a dream into fantasy," Harry said simply. Seeing the Dreamwalker's question coming, Harry added, "I don't want to live in a fantasy world, which is what this would be if I injected myself into the scene."
"Very wise, Harry. It's good to dream, as long as you keep some distance between those dreams and the world around you."
The dreamscape bled back into the original scene. "Are you just here for a visit, Master J?"
Johnson the Dreamwalker smiled. "Of course not. I shall meet you in your dreams every Thursday and Sunday morning, at least through Easter. You have learned the basics of controlling mundane dreamwalking very well. It is time to go beyond that. In addition, it is time you started to learn Legilimency."
"Really? I'm surprised anyone would trust someone my age to learn it."
"I do. Tabitha, Henry, Tudor, and Dumbledore do. I know of no one else whose opinion was sought."
"Who will I be practicing on?"
"You shall be practicing first with Tabitha. I understand she has arranged for a volunteer, whose mind she says will be open to you. We shall then teach him Occlumency, and we shall build your power that way."
"Unfortunately, all your friends are now moderately to totally immune from mental attacks. . . ."
"Who?" Harry asked again.
"A young man named Colin Creevy."
The dreamscape disappeared, replaced by a gray mist. "What!"
"Is that a problem?"
Harry materialized a stool and sat down heavily. "I really don't want to see what thoughts are in Colin's head!"
Johnson frowned. "Why?"
"I tell you, I've had Colin following me around for over four years, all over the school, including the showers! Especially the showers! With a camera! Now do you understand?"
"Oh. . . . well. . . . Yes. . . . We'll try to avoid those thoughts and memories, Harry." Johnson frowned. "Would Professor Jones or Professor Snape have known?"
"Professor Snape probably would have. I don't know about Professor Jones."
"I see. I'll have to look into that. Anyway, I'm sure, since Mister Creevy might like the idea of you in his head at first, it will help you take the first steps in the delicate art of Legilimency."
For the next four weeks, Harry was kept remarkably busy. All of his classes were piling on the research. Even Percy Weasley, although his classroom demeanor had drastically improved, hadn't let up on the research and the writing required. Quidditch practice restarted in early March, apparation continued for Harry and most of the Sixth years every Friday afternoon. He practiced dueling with the Sixth year dueling club and against various people (aurors, sersiants, and staff) every Friday morning. Every Thursday morning, Harry delved into Colin's mind. Every Thursday afternoon, Harry practiced drawing power from the group. He also had patrols to make as the prefect and Security prefect (he and Neville had split Ron's prefect position between them), and he of course tried to find as much time as possible with Luna, while not forgetting to spend some time with his close friends, especially Hermione.
All his friends were nearly as busy as Harry. Luna and Ginny of course were in their O.W.L. year. Hermione had organized the Gryffindor Fifth years study groups, and some of the Fifth years from other Houses had joined them, including Luna. Hermione was even talking of organizing the Sixth and Seventh years as well. Neville was trying to keep ahead in his classes while becoming the lead volunteer in the greenhouses for several special projects. They all had their exercise times and prefect patrols on top of their school work.
Hermione should have been the busiest person of all. No one had taken eight N.E.W.T.-level classes in recent memory, plus she had Apparation, her workouts and patrols, her work with Harry, and her work with a variety of different study and self-defense groups. She was also working with Professors Lawrence and Spellman on ritual magic and learning the basics of the Old Belief. On top of all that, Hermione made certain that she scheduled two one hour 'prime time' sessions every week with each of her three best friends (Ginny, Luna, and Harry) and extra time late at night with Harry.
These six hours and the ones she spent with Harry late at night were about the only times Hermione allowed herself to really mentally, physically, and emotionally relax. True, she let herself physically relax a bit during the Saturday morning 'beauty' sessions to some degree, and every evening she wasn't patrolling, between 10:45 and 11:45 she would sit in the common room, knitting, usually sitting snuggled next to Harry, who would be reading. But during these times, Hermione rarely totally let her guard down. Only Ginny, Luna, Harry, and sometimes Neville were now allowed to see the fully human side of Hermione, and then only if no one else was near by. The rest of the students only saw the aspects of her that Hermione allowed them to see.
Now that Draco no longer was there to harass her, Ron was gone, and Harry was controlling his temper, Hermione had no reason to allow cracks in her created persona to show in public. She knew she had to relax those safeguards sometimes, however.
The other students were for the most part, frankly, puzzled by the quintet. Ginny and Neville, and Harry and Luna, were obviously close and affectionate couples. Seen as individuals or as couples, they seemed to fit into the usual Hogwarts patterns. Granted, some people still wondered what the famous Harry Potter would see in the odd Luna Lovegood, or what the pretty, vivacious and down-right buxomly sexy Ginny Weasley might see in the staid, laid-back, if now-muscular Neville, but there were equally odd couples spread throughout Hogwarts.
Seeing the two couples together would hardly seem unusual, either. Harry and Neville had always been friendly, as had Ginny and Luna. What confused people was the role of Hermione in all this. In addition, none of the quintet had been tactile people before the previous term, and had hardly seemed that way even then. That the couples could now be seen holding hands in the corridors was hardly surprising, but now the entire group was touching.
All five now always greeted the others with a kiss, except for Harry and Neville. Similarly, they were the only two not seen holding hands at various times. Still, Neville often put his hand on Harry's shoulder in greeting, and Harry would grip Neville's upper arm. It especially fascinated Parvati and Lavender to watch the quintet interact.
One morning, Parvati and Lavender had found Neville waiting in the common room. Ginny came down, and the couple had hugged and kissed deeply, if briefly. Hermione had come in just as they broke off the kiss. Neville and Ginny took turns embracing and kissing Hermione, Ginny perhaps more passionately than Neville.
By then, Harry had joined them. Harry and Neville exchanged their manly shoulder/arm grab, then Harry hugged and kissed Ginny and then Hermione. They left the common room, Neville and Ginny first, holding hands, followed by Harry and Hermione, also holding hands.
Parvati and Lavender had followed.
Luna was waiting for the Gryffindor quartet near the entrance to Ravenclaw. Ginny, Neville, and Hermione each embraced and kissed Luna, and then Harry had kissed her with more passion. Harry and Luna had then led the way, hand-in-hand, while Neville walked arm-in-arm with Hermione and Ginny.
The observing pair carefully crushed any rumors that came their way. It was clear to them that, whatever else was going on, this was almost certainly fairly innocent, at least in terms of sexual overtones. The five obviously cared for each other in ways that were normally far outside the experience of the vast majority of sixteen year olds.
The two friends therefore resorted to their strengths, and conducted a serious session of tarot readings and crystal gazing. What they saw troubled them, for it involved pain, dangers, and death, although they weren't certain whose. Above all, it told them that the only chance the group had for a future was by staying together.
That was enough for Lavender and Parvati. They put all their efforts into seeing that the quintet was viewed with the most sympathetic light. When they had discovered that most of the nastier rumors about the quintet were still coming from Cho's Clique, they organized a counter-group, basically trapping the Clique back into its own little support group but keeping their poison fairly-well contained. There wasn't much they could do about the remaining rumors, which were mostly coming out of Slytherin. There, Tracey Davis and Daphne Greengrass helped them out by making certain the pro-Harry interpretations were spread in Slytherin as well.
Colin Creevy also watched the quintet.
While Colin was friendly towards nearly anyone who wasn't hostile towards him, he knew how to keep secrets. He was willing to exchange some of his observations with Lavender and Parvati, and was certainly happy to help them quash any of the nastier rumors about his hero.
Colin had a slightly better idea of what was going on than Lavender and Parvati, but not by much. Colin had no illusions about Harry. Harry would never love him like he loved Luna. Harry would never love him like he loved Hermione and Ginny. He knew that Harry would never even care for him like he cared for Neville.
It didn't matter to Colin. He was helping Harry. It was embarrassing, having his secrets peeled away, layer by layer. In some ways, by the end of term, Harry would know more about Colin than Colin did.
Colin had been afraid that Harry would use him and despise him. After all, everyone has, at the least, little fears, phobias, and secrets that could be embarrassing, even if not everyone recognized them.
Harry didn't ever mention what he learned to anybody. Colin was sure, if Harry had, Luna or Hermione or someone would have at least given him a funnier look than usual. None had.
Harry rarely commented about what he had learned from Colin. The other four members of the quintet knew what was going on, of course, and Harry sometimes directed one of them to help Colin with some class assignment Harry had learned Colin was having problems with. Once Harry had even told Colin that the fantasy he had just uncovered looked more uncomfortable than a turn-on. That was as far as it had gone.
If anything, Colin was now slightly closer to Harry than anyone other than his four companions. He was well-aware of the divisions, and didn't try to cross them.
If this was the role fate had given Colin in helping his hero win what might be the battle of a millennium, then Colin would accept it.