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, Harry and friends pr...
"Good afternoon, Miss Granger."
"Headmaster," Hermione answered, looking around. She had had a few very brief forays into the Headmaster's office, and found it more fascinating each time.
Dumbledore smiled as he saw the darting eyes. "Some day next year, if things have settled down at all, I shall give you a full tour of all the instruments."
"That would be very welcome, Headmaster." Hermione frowned. "Are we finally going to be discussing this summer?"
"Yes. Your parents agreed?"
"They agreed to allowing me to leave in early July," Hermione said, picking her words with care. "They obviously hope I can spend some real time with them in late August."
"So do we all, Miss Granger."
"It . . . it's likely to be over by then, isn't it?"
"Likely?" Dumbledore pondered that for a few minutes. "There is really no way to tell. Voldemort will engineer a confrontation at some point between Harry's return to Britain and Halloween. When, I can not say. We do have a few low-ranking spies amongst Voldemort's followers, and by all reports, he has not decided when, either."
"Obviously, both sides would like to triumph in that confrontation. We shall have to wait upon events to see what transpires."
"I wish I could go with Harry whenever he leaves," Hermione said, frowning.
"I understand that, Miss Granger. However, you need some . . . what is a current Muggle phrase? Ah, yes. You need some down time." Seeing the look on Hermione's face, he added, "Leave? Time off? Shore leave? Rest and. . . ."
"Yes, sir," Hermione said. "I understand. I was just surprised at the idea. I mean, it's not. . . ." She went silent.
"It is necessary," Dumbledore said. "You have not just been a student. Since at least the middle of the Tri-wizard Tournament, you have been Harry's personal coach." Seeing the look on Hermione's face, he asked, "What is it?"
"The new term is personal trainer, sir."
"Thank you. I do try and keep up, or else I would sound much like an early Victorian novel."
"I thought you were more a mid-Victorian, sir," Hermione teased.
Dumbledore smiled. "As you probably have observed, much of wizarding slang is merely out-of-date Muggle slang."
"I had, actually."
"You need to get away from the magical world, to ground your self. It will only be for a week, but hopefully you can get some rest."
Hermione started to protest, but Dumbledore cut her off. "Rest, Miss Granger. Tell me, do you have any clothes at home?"
"Then perhaps you should just take your wand and your cat. Read for fun, if you must read. Why not just try to relax, if you can?"
"That might not be easy. My parents. . . ."
"Professor Spellman has had a few talks with them," Dumbledore reminded her. Spellman had spoken with the parents of all of Harry's friends that term. "She has not reported any problems."
"That's good to know," Hermione admitted. "Harry needs us with him."
"He does," Dumbledore agreed. "You will all be learning some very sophisticated locating spells, and you, Harry, Neville Longbottom, and Ron Weasley will also be given the final apparation exams. You will be allowed to get your license early."
"It seemed like an obvious idea," Dumbledore pointed out.
The smile suddenly disappeared from Hermione's face. "There is just one problem."
"And what might that be?" Dumbledore asked, although he was fairly certain of the answer.
"When does Harry get some down time? For a week in August? Next summer? After auror training? When?"
"A very good question. One that I asked Professor Lawrence and Mister Dorff, and one that Miss Lovegood, Miss Weasley, and Mister Longbottom each asked me today, as they sat in that very chair. Long term? I do not know. I truly wish that I did. Over the summer, however, they will schedule at least thirty minutes every day for Harry to fly alone. In a sense, his spirit needs to soar, to break free of all the every day concerns and worries."
"I admit, I don't see how being off the ground with just a stick holding you up can be very restful," Hermione said, "but it works for Harry. I guess that's all that matters in this situation."
"Very true," Dumbledore said. "If it makes you feel any better, Professor Spellman agrees with you. She can do it, but she really prefers not to."
"I knew I liked her," Hermione muttered. She looked up. "I guess I should go get my grades. They should be posted by now."
"All the postible grades are up, except for yours," Dumbledore said. "I have yours here." He handed her the envelope.
"Thank you, sir." Hermione sat back but hesitated.
"Go on," Dumbledore said with a smile. Hermione ripped the envelope open.
Apparation. . . . . . . .120
NEWT Arithmancy . . . . .111
NEWT Charms . . . . . . .105
NEWT Defence. . . . . . .102
NEWT Law & Regulations. . 99
NEWT Medical. . . . . . .120
NEWT Runes. . . . . . . . 99
NEWT Transfiguration . . .114
NEWT University Prep. . .120
. . . . . . . . . . . . .109.41
Hermione glared at the total, until she remembered that Apparation only counted as half a class.
"Very impressive, Miss Granger, especially with eight N.E.W.T. classes. We rarely see averages that high with six, let alone seven."
"Thank you, sir."
"Now, unless there something else, why don't you let your friends go and congratulate you, and you can see how good a tutor you really are."
Hermione ran into Neville and Ginny first. They were on their way to sit by the lake for a while. They would have already been there, except Neville was trying to show everyone his grades along the way. That was unsurprising, since his best previous yearly average was just over an 84.
Hermione took the time to look at Neville's grades --
Apparation. . . . 87
NEWT Accounting . 96
NEWT Charms . . . 90
NEWT Creatures. .102
NEWT Defence. . . 96
NEWT Herbology. .120
NEWT Medical. . . 90
. . . . . . . . . 98.08
-- and congratulate him, and then went looking for Harry. He wasn't in the common room, and it took Hermione over half an hour to wade through the thanks of the various House mates who wanted to thank her. She did have a Second year check on Harry's dorm, and he apparently was nowhere in Gryffindor. The Second year did say that all of Harry's things seemed to be packed. A glance out of a high window in the Tower showed there was no one on the Quidditch pitch.
Hermione checked on those 'hidden' rooms she knew of. She even checked the library. No sign of Harry, or even Luna, nor did either show up at the farewell feast.
After the feast, Hermione hurried down to the kitchens, hoping that Dobby might know where Harry was. Just before she got to the entrance, she was shocked to be grabbed out of thin air.
"Relax," Harry said, "it's just me."
"Don't do that!" Hermione could feel Harry's cloak.
"Sorry." Harry's head appeared. "Luna and I have been together, and we'll be staying together. I just wanted to say goodbye now, since I won't see you in the morning."
Harry handed Hermione the envelope with his grades. "Here. Thanks for your help. If you're not Head Girl, they're crazy." Harry gave Hermione a hug and a kiss, and then disappeared.
Hermione shook her head, as if to clear it. She hadn't been able to say much, but decided she would let it go and live with it. She took out Harry's grades.
Apparation. . . . . . . 90
NEWT Charms . . . . . .105
NEWT Creatures. . . . . 90
NEWT Defence. . . . . .120
NEWT Law & Regulations. 87
NEWT Medical. . . . . . 96
NEWT Transfiguration . . 96
. . . . . . . . . . . . 98.31
"Not as much of an improvement as Neville, but quite excellent," Hermione said to herself. She went off to make certain the younger students were packing.
After helping direct the students onto the train the next morning, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, and Luna collapsed in the same compartment.
After a moment of silence, Ginny said, "I hate this."
"What?" Neville asked.
"This just isn't right," Ginny said. "It was right in September. Harry and Ron should be here."
"We'll all be together next Saturday," Luna pointed out.
"Cold comfort," Hermione grumbled. "Do we want to know where you and Harry were all yesterday afternoon, evening and last night?"
"Well, you might want to know, but I shan't tell you where we were or what we were doing," Luna answered simply. "If you really wanted to find us, you could have, you know."
"How. . . ?"
"You're the center," Ginny reminded her.
"That's how Harry knew you were looking for us," Luna said. "You need to learn how to keep in touch with the flow of magic within you, not just directing it."
"I know," Hermione admitted. "I know that's what I'll be working on this summer."
"I wonder what the rest of us will be working on?" Neville pondered.
"Ron, Harry, you, and I will be working on perfecting our apparation," Hermione said. "Beyond that, I don't know."
"Do you think there's any chance for the two of us?" Ginny asked.
"Apparating early? I don't know," Hermione admitted. "It depends on what else they have us doing."
"We're not going to be left behind," Luna stated.
"That's for certain," Ginny agreed.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Ron and Sabrina were curious about what they were going to be doing as well. Over the previous semester, Sabrina had slowly come to realize what she was getting involved with. Ron's stories of the Philosopher's Stone, the Basilisk, and the Battle at the Ministry brought home what she had of course known intellectually but really hadn't fully grasped. This wasn't a game, this wasn't fiction. She, or those she cared about, could be seriously hurt or even killed.
This realization had certainly shaken Sabrina, and accounted for her allowing Ron to draw a bit closer physically than she had planned on going before the following Christmas. It had also inspired her to work even harder on her courses. She was not just planning to continue an ancient life-style, she could literally be battling for her life. That certain gave her some incentive.
Ron had also worked hard. He had never realized how much he relied on Hermione organizing his life until she was no longer there to do his study-planning. While she had almost never allowed him to directly copy her homework, let alone her research papers, she had sometimes given him her notes when he had had a good reason for missing or not paying attention in class. More importantly, she had motivated him (although he had called it nagging at the time), planned his study times, kept track of his assignments, proof-read his work, and usually at least gave him hints when he got lost. Looking back, Ron realized that Hermione had probably done between 20 and 25% of his total work. Not continuing his Law and Regulations class had basically made him about even in his work load.
He had managed to let Sabrina understand this without her getting (very) jealous. Once Sabrina understood that Ron was missing Hermione more as a tutor than as a girlfriend, she relented and encouraged Ron to buy Hermione something nice. Consultation with some of his most studious new classmates led Ron to several interesting reference books that were unlikely to be available in Britain, especially two on house elves. Fortunately for Ron, Henry Dorff had arranged to have his post office account transferred to the student credit union at the Ysgol.
Ron also was wise enough to take the advice of his suite-mates and bought Sabrina a suitable gift as well (a green jade broomstick pendent on a red gold chain).
Ron had just given Sabrina the present as they sat waiting for a house elf to transport them to wherever they were going. Most of the students were already gone, and Sabrina was giving Ron a most enthusiastic 'thank you' hug.
"Good thing I'm the one who came to collect you, instead of your parents," Lloyd Trowbridge said to Sabrina, coming up from behind them.
Ron and Sabrina sprang apart, both blushing.
"We were waiting for the elves," Sabrina managed to mutter.
"Sorry, no elves. We have a long-distance portkey. Now, first, let me gather up all your luggage and stick it together."
"Can you tell us where we're going now?" Ron asked.
"No, because I don't know," Lloyd said cheerfully.
"It's an enchanted place. The native Australians first saw it in their astral Dreamwalks. They later identified the actual place, and warded it so that it is almost impossible to find. In fact, it may be the hardest spot on Earth to find. Only they can make the portkeys. We're going there by their invitation."
"Are you ready?"
Ron looked at Sabrina, who shrugged. "As ready as we can get, I guess," Ron said. They each put a finger on a piece of luggage and another on a small flat stone Lloyd held out. At Lloyd's command, they disappeared.
Harry and Master J had arrived at the island a few hours before Ron and Sabrina. "You could not find this island on any map or chart. Even the most advanced Muggle satellite images slide over us here. We are but a blip on the Southern Ocean. No doubt, since all of you have studied astronomy, you could figure out our latitude. Miss Granger, and some of your teachers, could no doubt come within a few degrees even without any devices other than their brains and eyes. They might even be able to calculate from weather patterns and climate a longitude within a hundred miles. It would make no difference if I were to write down the exact coordinates. You still could not find your way here, using either magical or Muggle means." Master J stopped for a moment and smiled.
"What is it, sir?"
"Well, perhaps I am wrong. You seem to have a knack for doing impossible magic."
Harry frowned. "I wish people would stop saying things like that."
"Like what, Harry?"
"That I'm special! that I'm the Boy-Who-Lived, the Key to whatever, the Boy Who Must Do the Impossible! I'm not some ancient god, or demi-god for that matter. I'm just me!"
"Harry, while I am happy your ego is still a reasonable size, you are special. You are at the center of many paths of probability and power. You don't have to like it, but your life will be easier once you accept it." Johnson smiled. "You can't tell me this is the first time you've been told this."
"No, but I still don't like it," Harry protested.
"Has anyone you trusted ever told you that you should like it?" Johnson asked gently.
That made Harry think for a few moments. "No," Harry finally said. "Of course, Sirius suggested once it should be a good way to meet girls. . . ."
"Was he, well, serious?"
"No, no I don't think so," Harry admitted with a slight smile.
"There you are then," Johnson stated. "In part, you are right. You have no greater rights, no greater say, in the way the world works than anyone else. That is what some beings, magical and Muggle alike, fail to understand. We are all on this limited little place for a limited little spec of time. Even the longest-lived, even the so-called immortals, live nothing like a mountain chain. A mountain chain lives nothing like as long as this planet. This planet will live nothing like the vast ocean of time of this universe, and who can say how long that might last? Who can know what might come after? All we can do is have faith there is some higher purpose."
"And if there's not?"
"And if there is not, why should one being live in comfort and power while billions of others toil and quake under his lash? But while people in general should not be nearly as passive in the face of evil as they often are, not everyone can take as active a role in defeating evil as others. You have been placed in a central place at an important time, Harry."
"Dumbledore was placed in situations that allowed him to make several great advances in knowledge, but that also meant his family was thrust into Grindelwald's quest for power," he went on. "In many ways, all his hard work did was earn him losses greater than any you have yet been burdened with, although at ages when he was better able to bear them. He regrets the losses, but does not regret taking up the burdens of leading the fights against Grindelwald and Voldemort. He buried himself at Hogwarts, hoping that the world would forget him. It did not; it came after him there. No matter where you go, the world will find you somehow. Even if you were to bury yourself here, or were somehow able to recreate this isolation somewhere else, the burden would still be there."
"And after?" Harry said bitterly.
"I don't know," Johnson admitted. "There is nothing fair about life, Harry. There are many pleasures, and many compensations, but it is not in any way fair. How these balance out, the unfairness and the rewards, is up to you."
"Let me ask you one thing, Harry. Suppose it were in my power to grant you one thing: that at the end of your first year, when you defeated Voldemort, he had died at that point. None of the events of the last five years would have happened. Would you take it? Knowing that while Sirius would still be alive, he would also still be in Azkaban and you would never have known him?"
Harry thought about that, and said, "Actually, he would still have seen the photo of Wormtail in Fudge's Daily Prophet. He would have still broken out."
Johnson knew the background story. "Perhaps not. With no diary and entrapment in the Chamber of Secrets, perhaps the Weasleys would have used their winnings for some other purpose. Similarly, you might never have met Miss Lovegood, you would not know Tonks or Lupin, or any of us from the International."
Harry shook his head, and finally said, "I think I would do it, if only to save Cedric and all the other people killed. Not to save Sirius or anything like that."
Johnson smiled. "I wish I could grant that, then, Harry. You are a wise young man."