Sorry for the delay. While R L is haunting me, I had a great scene all written up for this chapter, but I decided it was too soon to use it. Don't worry though, you'll be seeing it in a few chapters.
On the evening of January second, Harry called Luna into his office and asked:
“How’s he doing?”
“Quite well, actually.” Luna replied. “Now that he has someone to keep him on task, he has improved greatly.”
“Do you need more burn salve?”
“No. I’ve enough. He’s learned to avoid my blade.”
And it was good. While a patient teacher, even Luna had a limit. Within the very first day, Ron had reached…and then exceeded that limit. Irritated, Luna had rewarded him with a swat across the arse, resulting in a nasty burn and a scorched pair of pants. Howling in fury, he’d attacked with a vengeance.
Fortunately, Luna was better than him, and even without using the force, easily fended off his uncoordinated attack. He struck again and again, unintentionally drawing on the force to help him. Feeling him connecting with the mystical energy field, Luna also leaned into the force to keep him at bay. Throughout the battle, she warned him about the dangers of the dark side. She explaining that while his rage made him strong, it was a temporary thing, and could be defeated by calm and peace. Soon he was scarred in several places, all of which were extremely painful! On the other hand, by the end of that first session, he’d learned to take the training seriously.
It didn’t hurt that Luna had later offered a new kind of ‘incentive’ to reward good performance. Harry suspected they were sleeping together, and not the only ones. Ginny was with Seamus, Neville, the lucky bastard, was seeing both Hannah and Susan. And the twins had developed a system with Angelina, Alicia and Katie that seemed to work for them. Others among the older students, had paired off as well, but as far as Harry was concerned, if it didn’t interfere with the training, he really didn’t need to know.
As soon as Luna left, Harry called in Justin, Anthony, Neville and Seamus.
“All right. You lot, have had some time to get your act together. Are you ready for testing?”
Justin and Anthony claimed they were, and while Neville made the same claim for Seamus, the Irish lad was less convinced.
“OK. Neville, you test Anthony. Hermione you take Justin, and Seamus, you’re with me.”
Harry led them into the great Hall, where he directed Hermione and Justin to the smaller room off the left side. He transfigured the stage to be floor and pointed Neville to that area, while he and Seamus headed toward the opposite end of the room. Being sixty feet wide and a hundred fourty in length, the Great Hall gave them plenty of room to test both.
Harry opened himself to the force and carefully observed Seamus as he ran him through the numbers, first right handed, and then left. Satisfied at his progress, he halted the evolution to properly test their lightsabers.
Once the proper safety checks had been accomplished, he faced Seamus and said: “This is going to feel different from what you’ve been doing. Unless Neville has been sparring with you, this is the first time you’ll feel a blade against yours. It takes some getting used to, but I have faith in you. Now, take your position.”
As Harry worked with Seamus, he kept a careful eye on Neville, who’d never tested another student before, and a mental ‘ear’ for Hermione in case she needed him for any reason.
Slowly, he began to go through the attack steps with Seamus, guiding him to the proper counters. Unfortunately Seamus was nervous as hell. He made mistakes…mistakes that in combat, could easily get him killed. He knew the moves but he was relying on his own memory to use them. It wasn’t enough.
“Seamus, you’re thinking too much. You know what to do. Just allow the force to flow through you. Let it guide your blade. Trust me, Seamus, the force won’t fail you.”
Seamus nodded nervously, but like Hermione before, he still wasn’t tapping into the force. Harry decided to ‘force’ the issue as it were.
Three fast strikes left Seamus reeling. A fourth strike and the readying of a fifth and the force took over. Seamus seemed to blank out as his lightsaber met Harry’s with ease. Harry grinned widely. From then on, he struck and struck again until Seamus began to strike back. Now, Harry was fighting both an offensive and a defensive battle. He couldn’t be happier!
Thirty-two minutes later, Seamus was smiling fit to split his face, as Harry intoned he words he’d wanted to hear and advanced him to Makashi.
Neville had finished testing Anthony a few minutes before, and after a quick conference, Harry nodded and Neville advanced Anthony to Makashi.
Three minutes later, Hermione led a happy Justin in, already wearing the green tabs.
“Well done, you three. I expect you to work your tails off and catch up with the rest. They have a two week lead, but there are only seventy specific moves for this form. Now, go get some sleep.”
The morning of the third, Harry woke and prepared for him morning’s run. Hermione long used to his training, joined him, and to his surprise, all the students were waiting outside when he left the castle…even Ron, which Harry privately thought was a portent of the apocalypse!
The morning’s training went smoothly. The students accepted his increasing the length of the nature trail, once again, from five kilometers to seven, without too much grousing. Each of them felt fit enough to handle the run with ease. Mackenzie agreed. Harry had never seen him so happy.
Just to make life interesting, Harry had them run the Grinder immediately after they’d finished their run. He wanted to see if they had learned to consciously tap into the force when they needed it.
They had. With very few exceptions, they breezed through the exhausting course, and even those exceptions finished in a respectable time. Harry sent them up to the castle for showers and breakfast.
Mack walked up to Harry and Hermione.
“Congratulations, Harry. They’re improving by the day!”
“That they are. I have you to thank for that, Mack.”
“Uh uh.” Mackenzie disagreed. “They don’t follow me, Harry. They follow you.”
Harry blushed and lowered his head. Mack had seen this side of Harry, too often for his liking. Harry was a born leader, but he had a serious lack of self-confidence. He decided it was time, and long past time, to do something about it.
“None of that, Harry!” He barked. Harry’s eyes popped open in surprise, at the rebuke.
“You’re gonna have to get over your ‘shucky-darn, I din’t do nothin’’ stage, and learn to accept praise when it’s offered. I know you’ve had a shitty life, but it’s up to you to put that life behind you. You are the leader of this little revolution, and you have to learn that when praise is due, it’s due. I see you praising your students all the time, but whenever someone offers it to you, you hang your head, thinking you don’t deserve it. This has to come to a screeching halt, Harry…for the students, if for nothing else. If they see you doubting yourself, then they will doubt you. If they doubt you, even a little, they’ll doubt themselves. If they doubt themselves, they can’t do their best. If they don’t do their best…they die. And if they die, we’ve lost. It’s as simple as that. For want of a nail, you know.
You deserve this praise, Harry, and you know it. You’ve worked your arse off. You developed a reasonable battle plan, arranged for contingencies, created the weapons you’ll need, gathered allies, bankrupted your enemies, established logistics, convinced parents, recruited troops, and arranged for training, billeting, and support, for them and for their families. That’s an accomplishment that’s pretty worthy of praise. Just now, I’d put your Jedi up against any of our special forces and expect at least to see a draw.”
“You’re right, Mack.” Harry smiled shyly, then turned serious. “But in your zeal to crown me with laurel leaves, you’re forgetting something rather important. You’re forgetting that to be a good general, one needs good lieutenants. To be successful, one needs troops that see the goal and understand the ‘why’ and not just the ‘what’. You need people who will give every last bit of themselves to make sure that goal is met. And that is what I have. Yes, I came up with the idea, but it was those allies, those students, those lieutenants, and those house-elves that made this happen. If praise were needed, I’d say there’s enough to share all around. Whaddya think?”
Mack was stunned. Harry had neatly turned his argument around and had done so in a reasonable and logical manner.
“I think you’re smarter than I am.”
Harry barked out a laugh, and Hermione laughed just as hard.
“Thank you, Mack. I appreciate that.” Harry quietly showed his gratitude to his mentor, wrapped an arm around his beloved, and together the three of them marched up to the castle.
At the end of the afternoon’s training, Harry showered and dressed in a fresh uniform.
“Mmmhmm?” Hermione was wrapped in a towel and drying her hair. Harry stepped up behind her and kissed her gently on the nape of her neck, causing a soft moan to issue from her throat.
He wrapped her in a warm hug and said: “I have an errand to run. Later on…after dinner, I guess, I’d like you to join me when I go talk to Mrs. Figg. She’s been part of my life for all the years I spent with the Dursleys. She may have some information that we don’t. Maybe she can help us…if only to set some demons to rest. In the meanwhile, I’m going to talk to those two kids I spotted on Christmas. I think they’re going to be our first students after this is all over.” He turned her in his arms and planted a gentle kiss on her mouth. Hermione eagerly deepened it, pressing her body against his, until Harry forced himself to back away.
“As much as I’d love to continue this, if I don’t leave now, you might as well not get dressed. As it is, I’m going to have to take a walk outside first, thank you very much! I’ll talk to you later.”
Hermione laughed at the noticeable evidence of how she affected him. He swirled his brown cloak around his shoulders and turned to go.
Before he opened the door he added: “This isn’t over, love!” in an earthy growl that made Hermione shiver in erotic anticipation.
Smiling happily, Hermione dressed and then decided to go visit Mrs. Figg by herself. She departed their quarters for the visitor’s wing.
Along the way, she met several of the students here and there, and looked in on Judith and her meditation class. She saw Luna and Ron there, in lotus but facing each other. Ron was learning to levitate a blue plastic ball placed between them. She knew that both were aware of her presence, but they remained focused on their task.
Along the visitor’s wing, she greeted Mr. Ollivander, and walked further down the corridor.
There, she found the door she was looking for and knocked.
Harry found himself in the ‘family’ wing. He could hear laughter from some of the thirteen children in his care. He let the force guide him, and when he found himself standing before a door, he knocked. The other force sensitive was a few doors farther down the corridor, but he could deal with that one later.
Four year old Kyle McMichael opened the door to find a real Jedi Knight waiting there! “Wow!” He shrieked. “Mummy! Daddy! Lookit!”
Rapid footsteps followed and a woman poked her head through a doorway. When she saw the open door, she immediately scolded: “Kyle! You know you’re not supposed to open the door to anyone you don’t know!”
“But mummy! Him a Jedi!”
“Oh, Hello, Lord Potter!” Doreen McMichael greeted Harry uncertainly.
“Just Harry, please. I've come to talk about Kyle.”
“Is he in trouble?”
“Oh, no.” Harry assured her. “Quite the contrary, actually. May I come in?”
“Of course. Where are my manners? Please come in. Have a seat. Can I get you anything?”
“You might want to set a kettle to boil. What I have to say will take at least that.”
“Oh-kay?” Doreen was rather leery of Harry’s odd statement.
Anson McMichael entered the room then, and Harry stood.
“What’s all the yelling about, Snubby?” He plucked up the little boy and turned him upside down and holding him by the ankles, so the boy was face to face with him.
“Daddy! Lookit!” The giggling Kyle pointed to Harry who was watching with a wistful expression in his face.
“Oh, hello!” He slung the boy over his back so he could rest on his shoulders, then ducked down to let the child slip free.
Kyle slid down to the floor, grinning widely.
Doreen came back from the kitchen and said: “Anson, this is Lord Potter.”
Again, Harry said: “Harry, please. Calling me Lord Potter makes me feel like I’m being hauled up in front of the Wizengamot.” He stretched out his hand.
Anson snickered as he shook the proffered hand. “Having read about some of the characters on that council, I can well understand that. What can we do for you, Harry?”
“Actually I came to talk about Kyle and a little girl he was playing with during the Christmas snowball free-for-all.” Harry said with a smile.
“Oh, that would be Sarah Dobbs! These two are practically joined at the hip. Shall I get her for you?"
“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, please. I’ll need to speak with her parents as well.”
“No trouble at all. I’ll be back in a shake.” Anson had no sooner left the room, than Kyle began to ask questions faster than even Hermione could.
“Are you a real Jedi? Is that real? Can you use the force? How’s that work? What’s Luke Skywalker like? Has you seed him…or Obi Wan? Is Yoda really green, or is that just make up? Did you get to fight Darth Vader? Do you got your own X-wing? Did you ever bull’s-eye a womp-rat? What’s the Death Star like?”
As Anson reappeared, followed by a little black haired girl and her parents, Harry was answering the questions Kyle had thrown at him.
“Not yet. Yes it is. Yes I can. It’s too complicated to explain in a few minutes. I’ve never met him. Nope. Nope. Yes he is, but not as green as the movies make him out to be, more like a browner shade of green. No, I’ve never met Vader, I don’t have an X-wing, I’ve never even seen a womp-rat, and I’ve never been on the Death Star.”
“Oh.” Kyle sounded disappointed.
Harry turned to the three new arrivals. “Hello, Sarah.” He introduced himself to Sarah’s parents Rachael and Charles.
“How’ja you know my name?” Sara piped up. “Di’ja use a Jedi mind-trick?”
Harry chuckled. This was what it felt like to have children, then as soon as Hermione allowed, he was going to ask her to have a few.
“As much as I’d like to tell you, ‘yes’, Sarah, I can’t. Mr. McMichael told me.”
“Oh.” Like Kyle, Sarah was clearly disappointed that the force hadn’t told Harry her name.
“Don’t worry about it.” He soothed. “I have the feeling that soon enough, you’re going to be communing with the force yourself.”
“What do you mean?” Rachael Dobbs asked.
“During the Christmas snowball fight, most of my apprentices were using the force to throw snowballs. Emma and Kenneth were only two. I mention them because like magic, the force tends to run in families. I noticed that Sarah and Kyle here were doing the same thing. I’d like to test them and if they are force users and if you approve, I’d like to begin their preliminary training.”
“Force users?” Doreen squeaked. “Like you?”
“Mmhmm. I’ve concentrated my recruitment from my schoolmates, because they all are magic users, and they are all old enough to understand the seriousness of what I’m doing. It was only recently I discovered their ability to touch the force.”
“How?” Charles asked.
“That’s rather a long story. I can tell you later, but most of it is not suitable for young ears.” Harry leaned his head to the right and raised both eyebrows like he’d seen the ‘Old Twinkler’ do, and flicked his eyes toward the children. The parents there got the hint.
“I see. Well how do you want to test them?”
“Well the way I determined if my students could use the force was to have them activate my lightsaber.”
“What?” Came from Doreen, Anson, Charles and Rachael while Kyle and Sarah chimed in: “Yaaayyy!”
To the parents, he said: “I’ve locked it into its minimum power setting. A careless hand will get a burn, but nothing more.” The adults all stood watching as Harry handed his weapon first to Kyle, as he’d met the boy first, and then to Sarah. He asked them to point the emitter away from everybody, and push the little black switch. In both cases, the emerald blade surged to life, leaving the children squealing in raptures and the adults agape in shock.
To ensure the parents knew it wasn’t a trick, he handed the weapon to each and asked them to do the same thing. In their cases, only Rachael was able to activate it.
Retrieving the weapon, he belted it, then spoke to her.
“This brings up another problem. As an adult, you are more able to understand the training, but less able to begin it. If you want, I can start you on a training regime, but I have to warn you, it is both intensely focused and utterly exhausting.”
She blushed and said: “I have no desire to become a Jedi Knight, Harry. I’ve seen what you lot have been doing, and I think I’d die of a heart attack.”
“Not likely, but I’ll respect your decision.” He replied, then added: “However, Judith Granger teaches Tai Chi, yoga and meditation, for anyone who wants to learn. If you’re interested, I’ll tell you where to find her.”
Several agreements later, as they all needed something to keep their minds off their situation, Emily asked: “What is this training going to consist of? The kids are awfully young!”
“I’ll return tonight after they’ve gone to bed and tell you the whole story, but for now, I can say that in the time of the Jedi, training was begun at around three or four. These children are the perfect age. If you allow it, they’ll begin with tai Chi and some simple exercises to focus their minds. I want them to have their regular education, but the exercises can be done at any time. Things like meditation, calming the mind to avoid frustration, simple force exercises like levitating light objects, tying knots in rope without touching the rope, that sort of thing. If I survive the war, I’ll be starting an academy for Jedi…within a few years, anyway. I still have to complete two years of school, y’know.”
“And if you don’t? What will happen then?”
“Either way, Voldemort will be gone. If I die while destroying him, then I’ll be content. My wife…my betrothed…” Harry hastily corrected himself, unmindful of the knowing smiles the parent’s all wore. “…Hermione would probably dig me up and use me for potions ingredients. I think she likes having me around…y’know, to squash spiders and the like.”
“Even if I don’t survive, my senior lieutenants have instructions to use the Potter and Black fortunes to start the academy. Your kids will have competent instructors.”
The parents were impressed by Harry’s dedication. The kids just wanted to play with the lightsabers.
Harry sat them in a triangle with himself as the apex, and called a blue sponge ball to himself. Placing the ball in the center of the triangle, he told the two that he wanted to see them move the ball without touching. Both immediately looked at each other with mischievous eyes, then leaned forward and began to blow as hard as they could.
With a laugh he called them to a halt and said: “I mean without touching it at all. No blowing! What I want you to do, is try to move the ball by thinking of moving it. Like this!” He leaned into the force and concentrated on making the ball float.
The little blue sponge rose into the air and then swiftly bopped each of the children on the nose, before returning to the floor. Giggles and muffled laughs sounded throughout the room as the two tried to force the ball to move.
All along, Harry was calmly instructing. “You must think it. Don’t try to force it. Why don’t you ask it to move?”
“How is this different from accidental magic?” Doreen asked. “When Kenneth and Emma got their Hogwarts letters, Professor McGonagall told us that children are prone to that sort of thing.”
“Honestly, I’m not quite sure.” Harry replied, standing. “My best guess is that this is willful concentration, not emotionally based surges. Magic reacts to a child’s state of mind. If he is scared or upset, it comes to his defense, or does something he desperately wants. By calming the mind, the magic is not ‘called’, for want of a better word. The force, on the other hand, is always there, waiting for someone to call it to use. There can be an emotional aspect, in fact, there is such an aspect, but for training, it’s better to learn to first calm the mind. Don’t worry. It’ll be some years before either of them handles a lightsaber again.”
“Awwww!” The two children had been listening. The ball was rocking back and forth.
“You’re doing well.” Harry commented. “But you wouldn’t had a sharp knife to a baby, would you?” Both children shook their heads.
“First, you must develop your minds, and your bodies. Then I can begin your training. Now, try to lift the ball into the air.”
Harry stood and spoke to the parents. “I have no right to ask this, but I’m asking anyway. May I begin your children’s training? Like I said before, they will be focusing on basic mental discipline, physical fitness and most importantly, their normal education. They will remain here with you, but I, or one of my lieutenants, most likely Hermione, Neville or Dobby, will stop by to check on their progress. I have no intention of turning them into super-warriors, and they most definitely will not be coming along when I face Voldemort.”
Sighs of relief, almost unheard, issued from all four parents’ throats.
Arabella opened the door and peered out to find one of the youngsters she’d seen in the previous few days. The girl had soft brown eyes and brown hair with a lot of body, but it was tied back into a tail. She was dressed in the same tan tunic and belt over trews and boots as all the rest, but there was something about her. She had a presence about her that didn’t sit well with her apparent age.
“Hello, Mrs. Figg.”
“Hello, dear. Erm…who are you? I don’t believe we’ve met.”
“I’m Hermione Granger.” Hermione put out her had to the other woman. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Arabella Figg shook the young woman’s hand and immediately felt a shock. This young woman was far more than she appeared to be. Her magic felt like that of an adult rather than a teenager.
Arabella backed away nervously, seeking a weapon of one sort or another. To her surprise the kneazles around her didn’t instantly attack the intruder. No matter. She reached the fireplace and grabbed for the poker. Hefting it, she snarled: “If you’ve come to hurt Harry, I’ll…I’ll fight you.” She warned the younger woman. “Squib or not, I’ll fight to the last breath. He’s had far too much pain in his life!”
“Hermione was shocked at the vow. “Mrs. Figg, Harry is my betrothed. I would no sooner harm him, than I would my own parents.”
“Then why are you pretending to be a teenager? I may be just a squib, but I can feel and measure magic. You feel like an adult to me!”
“Well, that’s unexpected. However, there is an explanation.”
“I’m listening.” Arabella replied, cautiously. Still, she didn’t release the poker.
“Let me call Harry. He tells it better.”
At Arabella’s curious glare, Hermione closed her eyes and thought hard at her betrothed.
~Could you come to Mrs. Figg’s quarters? We have a few things to discuss.”
~Alright. I’m working with the kids. Their parent’s are thrilled and the kids are over the moon! Especially when they lit my lightsaber. Give me a half-hour, K~
~That’s fine. I’ll let her know you’re on your way.~
~Love you lots.~
Arabella watched the young woman smile softly, and when she opened her eyes
“He’s dealing with two young force users. He’ll be here in a half hour.”
Harry felt Hermione calling him over their bond. He closed his eyes for a moment and spoke with her, then returned his attention to the parents in the room.
“That was Hermione contacting me through the force. I need to speak to Mrs. Figg. I told her I’d be there in a half-hour.”
“Well! That’s handy! Any distance limitations?” Anson wanted to know. He was intensely interested in the different aspects of the force. Harry smiled, then answered him.
“So far as I can tell, no. I’ve maintained contact with her from Cambridge to Surrey, here in Anglesey, and in Ipswich. After the war, we’ll do some more experimenting.”
Behind them, Sarah was able to lift the ball a half inch, before losing concentration. It fell with a soft bounce.
“I didit! I didit! I didit! She squealed. Kyle glared daggers at her. “No you didn’t!”
“Did too!” Sarah rejoined, irritated at her friend.
“All right, knock it off, both of you!” Harry ordered. He squatted down where they could both see him, and spoke softly. “Kyle. I felt the ball rise. Can’t you be happy for your best friend?”
“But I wanted to!” He whinged.
“And you will. You just have to try again. Remember, a Jedi is patient and kind. A Jedi is not jealous or boastful. A Jedi is not arrogant or rude. A Jedi does not insist on his own way. A Jedi is not irritable or resentful. He does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.”
Kyle thought bout that for a minute, and then, with a nod, he turned back to the ball. Sarah watched her best friend as he tried to calm his mind.
Doreen smirked. “Nice save. It seems to me I recall that quotation from somewhere.”
“I pulled it out of my…erm I remember hearing it when I was younger.” Harry blushed at the term he’d almost used. She chuckled again.
“Please think about my…watch!” He pointed to Kyle. Suddenly the ball rose an inch or so from the floor. Sarah squealed, and Kyle dropped it, but both were squealing happily, and dancing in giddy circles, as only the very young can.
Suddenly Kyle sat back down with a thump. He leaned back against the couch, his eyes closed and within seconds he was asleep.
“What?” Doreen had almost reached him, by the time he fell asleep.
“Relax.” Harry ordered. “Just like using a muscle, using the force is tiring for someone who’s never done it intentionally.”
“But you said…”
“Intentionally is the operative word.” Harry interrupted. “During the snowball fight, they were using it instinctively. I’d be willing to bet he slept well that night too.”
“Yes. He did. That was odd too, because he normally fights it…especially on Christmas!”
Sarah was also sleeping, so Charles picked her up and both he and Rachael nodded to Harry. “We’ll just get her home, then.”
“She’ll wake in about an hour.” He soothed. “She just needs to replenish herself. Such concentration can be draining for a four-year-old, but it’s nothing to be concerned about. If you’d like I can have Healer Merrifield come by and check on them.”
Dobby instantly appeared. “Harry Potter has called for Dobby?” The four adults in the room gaped at the elf’s clothing, and more so at the smaller lightsaber hung from his belt.
“Dobby, would you ask Healer Merrifield to come here an check on Kyle and Sarah?”
“Dobby can see they is all wore out, but Dobby will ask.” With that, he popped away.
“Merrifield should be by any time. In the meanwhile, I have an appointment with an old friend. If you would excuse me?”
Receiving nods, Harry departed for Mrs. Figg’s temporary home.
Hermione and Arabella were seated across the table from each other. There was a pot of tea on the table, but only Hermione had drunk any. Arabella still held onto the fireplace poker.
Harry walked in and seeing the tension, embraced Hermione. “Hello, Love. Hello Mrs. Figg. What’s the emergency?”
“Mrs. Figg seems to believe I’m an adult hiding in a teenager’s body.” She poured tea for Harry.
“Harry. Don’t drink that!”
“Mrs. Figg, I trust Hermione with my life.” He drank the tea in a single go, wincing at the heat. “She is my betrothed and after this is all over, I intend to formally ask her to be my wife.”
Hermione blushed beet red and a grin erupted on her face wide enough to see her back teeth. “Really?”
“Oh, Harry! Yes! Yes! Yes!” She launched herself into his arms and kissed him passionately.
When he’d disengaged himself from his wife-to-be, Mister Tibbles maiowed, and leapt into Harry’s lap, purring and nudging him for some attention. Hermione giggled and Snowy jumped up into her lap. Arabella was rather surprised as Mister Paws hopped into her arms, while Tufty, Angel, Mouser, Carrot, (who looked surprisingly like Crookshanks), Tiger, Chocolate and Biscuit, all made themselves comfortable at the visitor’s feet. Usually her kneazles were so in tune with her, that they’d react on her thoughts alone. Here, they were as welcoming of the two teens as they’d always been of Harry.
Harry returned his attention to his old minder.
“Mrs. Figg, there is a lot you don’t know. You told me last month that you’d reported my abuse to Dumbledore?”
“Yes, Harry, I did. Every time I saw a new bruise that couldn’t be justified. I called him. I wrote all the times in a journal, it’s packed away here somewhere. I described the injuries and the way they treated you. They were just awful! I reported it to Albus, and each and every time I did, he told me it couldn’t have been that bad. He refused to take action unless you were in immediate danger of dying! What’s worse, is I think I’ve been obliviated. There are gaps in my memories that I can’t explain. I read that journal recently and I can’t recall many of the things I wrote down.”
“I thought as much. And you probably have been. Too many things he’s done over the past fifteen years have made no sense…unless you consider that he was grooming me to be a weapon. He’s as much as admitted that to me, and my spies have filled in the gaps. I had my friend Carolyn probe the Dursley’s for information on me and she found the memories of the notes he’s sent to them, telling them how I was to be raised. He intends for me to die in the battle against Riddle, so someone else, most likely Neville, can kill him off. What he didn’t take into consideration was my uncle’s beating me to death.”
“What?” Arabella was shocked, not that Vernon Dursley would do such a thing, she knew the violent man was more than capable…but that Harry would think it true.
Harry picked up her surface thoughts and replied: “Actually, it is true. He beat me so badly over this summer, that I died.”
“But you’re not dead.”
“And that’s where the story begins.”
Harry told her the entire story. His death, and the meeting with Merlin, his parents, friends and even the Manipulative Old Bastard. He told her of his discussion with Merlin and how he’d convinced the legend to send him back, to two months before he ‘died’ so he could fix the damage before it could be done. He also told her that Hermione was the real reason he returned. This garnered him a soft smile and some lecherous thoughts that she didn’t bother to hide. Harry blushed.
Then he told her about Yoda and his decision to train a cadre of Jedi to battle the Death Eaters while he dealt with Voldemort, and Yoda’s decision to provide him with the information he’d need to do that.
“Harry, given all the amazing things I’ve heard about you, if it was anybody but you, telling me this, I’d be calling for the mind-healers. I still may. That is the single most ridiculous tale I’ve ever heard. While some things I can agree with, like Albus’ goals and his methods, this ‘force’ is a fantasy, invented by a wizard in America, to keep the muggles distracted. It doesn’t exist! You know that!”
Harry sat with a calm smile, while the pot of tea lifted itself, and poured two cups, before settling itself to the trivet. A lump of sugar and a splash of lemon went into his, while Hermione’s got a drop of honey and some milk…all without his lifting a finger. Arabella gaped in amazement.
To further his demonstration, he placed his lightsaber on the table and asked her to turn it on. She looked at him like he was joking, so he picked it up, and lit the blade with its familiar snap-hiss. Shutting it down he handed it to Hermione who also lit the blade, before shutting it down.
Once more, he placed the weapon on the table and asked her to light it. “This is a weapon that should not exist. It can only be activated by someone who can touch the force. That’s a safety measure I included into its design. I don’t expect you to be able to activate it, but I have demonstrated that it is not an inert prop. All my students here carry one, and they can all use them. The burn reports from the hospital will verify that, if you’d like.”
“Here, we keep the weapons set to their minimum power. If handled carelessly, they will only give a rather nasty burn instead of slicing off parts. Some of my students have been careless.”
With a questioning look, Arabella Figg lifted the weapon and thumbed it to life. The bright emerald blade shimmered and hummed, as she stared in fascination.
“Well!” Hermione intoned. “Didn’t expect that!”
Arabella asked in a tiny voice: “How is this possible?”
Harry reached over the table and gently took the lightsaber from her, deactivated it and hung it on his belt.
“Because the force is not part of the magic that British wizards understand, touching and controlling it isn’t taught here, and so, most witches and wizards aren’t aware of it at all. There might be a few, but like you, they are few and far between.”
“But why have I never been able to use the force before?” Harry thought he knew. He leaned into the force and with a deft probe had entered Arabella Figg’s thoughts. He read what was there as he directed the conversation.
“Mrs. Figg, your family was from an old-line pureblood line. When you didn’t show what they considered to be ‘proper’ magic, they declared you a squib and ejected you. I understand your mother called you a disgrace to the ancestors and gave you a bag of Galleons, and a pack of clothing before telling you to leave and never again darken her doorstep.”
Arabella was weeping now. That was exactly what had happened. “How did you know that?” Hermione shifted her position and sat next to the old woman, cuddling her warmly.
“I leaned into the force, and by directing your thoughts, I could see that information in your mind.” Harry explained. “Your family never considered you to be able to use any magic, because you’d never shown an inclination to do so. When they ejected you, you were so convinced that you were a squib, that you never looked beyond what you knew.”
“Harry…?” Hermione queried, the question plain in her voice.
“I don’t know, Hermione. At her age, the training could quite well kill her.”
“What do you mean?” Arabella asked. After all, she was only in her seventies!
“Mrs. Figg, every morning I run six miles before breakfast, rain, snow, it makes no difference. My students join me for at least half that…most, for all. Every other day, we all run the obstacle course, which is specifically designed to make us hate our lives with a passion. We also run the nature trail on those days, which is now seven kilometers long. Every day, without fail, we practice with our lightsabers for an average of six hours a day. We spend between three and five hours meditating and learning to call upon the force. On our ‘easy’ days, we swim, practice Tai Chi, yoga, hand-to-hand combat, and meditation, in addition to our lightsaber work. We’ve been doing this for the past five months. Each of my students is in top military condition. Recently we took on a contingent from the military’s special forces and we beat them soundly. Today, each of my students can defeat three to five Aurors in a stand-up fight…without a wand. You’re seventy-six years old. Such a regimen would probably kill you.”
Arabella was appalled at the level of training Harry had describe and secretly, she agreed. She was in no condition to attempt something this strenuous.
“On the other hand…” Hermione interjected. “You can begin to learn to channel the force. Using a lightsaber really isn’t necessary. There are many other things a Jedi can do. I can set up classes with my mother to teach you meditation and various easy-on-the-body, exercises, for general health.”
“What kind of exercises?” Arabella asked.
“Mostly yoga, meditation, swimming and Tai Chi. Tai Chi was designed as a basis for Kung Fu, but by itself it’s used as a gentle exercise for the very young and for the older people who can no longer do such strenuous things as combat.”
“Do you think she’d mind?” Arabella was intrigued. She’d heard all about this Tai Chi, but nobody in Little Whinging taught it, and Albus, citing the need to protect Harry, refused to let her go anywhere else. Even when she’d broken her leg, some five years before, he’d given her a great deal of grief, for being away from her post.
“Not at all. Just now, she’s rattling about the castle, with very little to do. Most of her students have exceeded her level of training. You and Mr. Ollivander can at least provide her a useful distraction.”
That decision made, Harry called their attention to the things Dumbledore had done over Harry’s lifetime, starting with the day he dumped a highly magical baby on the doorstep of magic hating bigots.
Their discussion lasted well into the night, with information being traded and new lessons learned. During the evening, Harry asked Winky to pass on his regrets to the Dobbs’ and the McMichael’s telling them his discussion with Mrs. Figg was going to take more time than he’d originally thought, and could he reschedule? They told him yes, of course, and so, he returned his attention to Arabella Figg. Harry called for the house-elf that had packed her journal, and within seconds it was in her hand. Arabella showed him what she’d written, and her suspicions, and conclusions. He noted that about eight years before, she’d decided that Dumbledore really didn’t care about Harry’s welfare, but she could never understand why.
Now she knew.
When they left it was nearly midnight. They made love tenderly, but only the once, before settling down to sleep.
In little Hangleton, Tom Riddle noticed that his headache was intense, but not nearly as drawn out, and wondered if that meant that he was growing immune to their passion. He didn’t even crave a second dose.
The next morning, following their exercise, Hermione said: “Harry, I think we need to talk to Augusta. Since Dumbledore was so willing to ‘eliminate’ Mrs. Figg, the Longbottoms might be in danger too.”
Harry instantly saw her point.
“You’re right. Let’s go.” He headed to the secure floo in the receiving hall. Harry had established the limited access connection during Christmas to allow someone from only five different locations to enter Potter castle. Those locations were the Minister’s office, Bones Manor, Longbottom Manor, Andromeda’s house and Carolyn’s office. Each had their own security screen.
At Longbottom Manor, Harry got straight to the point. “Augusta, Hermione and I were just talking to Arabella Figg…”
“Arabella? I thought she was dead!”
“Why would you think that?”
“We were told that she died in a Death Eater attack, the day after you banished Voldemort…the first time, I mean.”
“Lemmee guess. Dumbledore told you.”
“Actually, It was Alastor.”
“Hmmm. I think I’ll have to ask him a few questions.” Harry pondered. Alastor was bound to him, through oaths of fealty, but until recently he’d thought the binding was to Albus. This could lead to some interesting revelations.
At Hermione’s gentle cough, he realized he’d been woolgathering. He blushed and then gestured for her to continue.
“Anyway, from what she and Harry have told me, I think it’s imperative that we get Frank and Alice out of St. Mungo’s. I suspect Dumbledore may decide to grab them from the long-term ward, and use them to force Neville back into his control. If he has Neville, he knows that Harry and I would be along straightaway.”
“I quite agree.” Augusta nodded. “I shall make the arrangements. Where should I bring them, though, is the question.”
“We have three hundred thousand square feet at the castle, and only a third of that is being used.” Harry said. “They’ll be safest there. Dumbledore can’t find us, and the Death Eaters certainly can’t. Besides, we have two fully qualified healers, two medwitches, and three apprentices, there. Maybe they can come up with something to help them. Since everything else has failed, it’s worth a shot.”
Augusta pursed her lips and thought for a moment. “Very well. I shall contact Carolyn immediately. As much as it’s none of Dumbledore’s business, I can’t help but think he’d try to interfere if he heard of the attempt.”
“I agree. I’d say ‘snatch and scamper’ would be the best bet, but Carolyn is the legal expert here, not me. Probably best if you ram the paperwork through as quickly and quietly as possible. Whatever you do, get them out of there!”
“I will.” She promised. “Thank you, both!”
“Pleasure.” Harry bade the dowager good-bye, and ducked into her floo to come out in the receiving hall at Potter Castle. Hermione followed him through a second later. Dobby was there to greet them. Harry noticed his friend’s lightsaber was in his hand.
“Planning on slicing me up, Dobby?”
“One can never be too careful, Harry Potter.” Dobby replied. “Password?”
Harry and Hermione looked to each other, grinned and chimed as well as the twins ever had: “Voldemort sucks!”
“Welcome home, Harry Potter, Hermyninny Grangers.” Dobby greeted them with his usual effusive smile.
Harry took the time following the afternoon’s training to revisit the McMichael’s and the Dobbs’. This time Hermione joined him. Harry told his fantastic story with all it’s twists and turns, and together they were able to both explain the necessity and benefits of Kyle and Sarah being trained as Jedi Knights.
Both families were more receptive than they’d been the previous evening, and before their evening ended, Sarah and Kyle had learned to levitate the little blue ball for a few seconds.
As they left, Doreen thanked them for finding a way to make little Kyle go to sleep without a fuss. Rachael echoed the sentiment with a laugh, and she and Charles went to their own flat while Harry and Hermione headed to theirs.
Hermione was in a frisky mood, and that evening, without knowing what pain they were causing, they ensured Voldemort would need his headache remedy.
The next morning, Harry was ready when the Longbottoms arrived. Augusta had floo-called and asked him for a portkey to the castle, just in case Dumbledore tried to interfere. Fortunately he never heard of the transfer. Augusta and Healer Merrifield went to St. Mungo’s with the necessary parchmentwork and had Frank and Alice out of the Janus Thickey ward within minutes. Since the forms were all filled in correctly the healers there had no cause to interfere. They marked the Longbottom’s case as ‘transferred to private facility’, and closed the files.
Harry arranged for quarters and medical oversight by Healer Jacoby and his apprentices. Augusta smiled gently, knowing that her son and daughter-in-law, would be in better hands here, than in St. Mungo’s.
On the sixth, Harry addressed his troops.
“I think it’s time we started survival training. Mack is the expert there, while I have a great deal of induced knowledge. Together we’ve come up with a nice little training programme to keep you from dying in the snow. It’s lucky that it’s as cold as it is, because if you survive this, you can survive almost anything!”
None of the students looked too convinced by that.
The first survival lesson was for half of the apprentices. The others would begin their training in the same arts in a week or so. Harry had checked the extended forecast to ensure there would be plenty of snow for everybody.
He and Mackenzie mustered the first group in the snow and they began with a nice rousing five mile run…into the woods. There, he had them stop and began to speak.
Now that you lot, are all warmed up, it’s time to teach you how to stay that way. Your survival blankest are good for even this temperature, but it’s always nice to have a fire. How many of you have your wands on you?”
Every hand went up.
“Good. Don’t use them unless it’s an absolute emergency. The first thing I’m going to teach you is how to make a fire without a wand, match or lighter fluid.”
Harry showed them how to find, select and prepare fallen wood for burning. He told them how to strip the thin inner bark from the branches and shred it to make kindling. When they were ready, he taught them how to establish a safe burn area, surrounded by large rocks.
“Now, there’s flint in this area, and tomorrow, I’ll teach you how to find it. For now, we use the ‘bow and arrow’ method. It has the advantage of being simple to make and all the parts are freely available. Each of you, go find a bent stick, about an inch thick and two feet long. It should be strong and rigid. This will be your bow. I also want you to find a straight piece about twelve to eighteen inches long. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be close. Last, I’ll teach you how to braid some of the inner bark into a little rope. Once that’s done, we can make a fire.”
When his class had returned with the required materials, Harry showed them how to strip the inner bark without breaking it, and weave it into a strong but light braid. He showed them how to splice one end, and to leave the other free. Time passed with his students getting colder as it did. Finally they were all finished. He inspected each line, and pronounced it satisfactory.
Kneeling, he cut a notch in the end of one bent stick and fitted the looped end of the line to it. Loosely wrapping the line twice around the straight stick, he knotted the other end of the line around the base of the bow.
“OK, here, we have our bow and arrow. Now, we have two more steps before we can make some fire. Can anyone tell me what those steps should be?”
Michael Swanson raised his hand.
“You need to cut a divot into a small piece of wood to protect your hand, and another in the piece of wood you’re working on.”
“Very good, Michael. Scout?”
“Mmmhmm.” Michael nodded.
“Michael is correct. I need to protect my hand, so I’ll carve a little half-hole in a bit of wood. This keeps my hand from getting friction burns and believe me, it will get hot! Next, I have to cut a similar hole into the large piece of wood I’m working on, to keep the point of the arrow from wandering. We need to keep the heat contained.
Pulling his knife from its sheath, Harry showed them how to bore a divot in the wood by twisting the blade.
When everybody had gotten it right, he placed a bit of the shredded kindling, onto the log, and pushed the point of his arrow into the little fluff. Holding the top piece of wood, he kept the arrow steady between that piece and the log. He began sawing the bow back and forth, spinning the arrow rapidly in place.
“This doesn’t have to be super fast, but it should be quick.” He sawed briskly. Soon a faint tendril of smoke wafted up from the shredded bark. He blew on the tinder and seconds later, it was burning merrily. “You can actually do this in a light rain, but it takes a bit more work.”
“OK, now that it’s burning, what do we do?”
“Throw some wood on!” Came Fred’s voice.
“Are you kidding? That’ll put it out!” This, from Natalie Macdonald.
“Natalie is correct.” Harry said. “Shame on you, Fred.”
“I’m not Fred! He is!” Fred pointed to George.
“Jedi…? The force…?” Harry snarked. Both twins slumped. He distinctly heard their shared: “Bugger!”
“If you just throw the wood on, you’ll smother the fire. In fact, it’s going out now.”
With that the little flame vanished, leaving only some smoke and ash.
“That demonstration was to show you all how easy it is to do. The more important lesson is what to do with it when you’ve got it.”
“Did Hermione have to teach you that lesson, Harry?” Came from twin two. Hermione blushed.
“Would the two of you like to run the Grinder three times a day, for the next week, George?” Harry deadpanned. Both twins paled. Everybody else laughed.
The lesson continued, with Harry showing them how to properly build a fire, with the shredded bark protected from the wind. When he was done, he asked Natalie and Michael as the first to answer correctly, to create their own little fires.
When the tinder was burring he showed them all how to transfer it on the tip of a knife blade to the space under the carefully arranged wood. The kindling there caught a moment later and soon there were warm flames to share.
“Very good both of you. Now, I want all of you to do the same thing. When you’ve got it burning call me and I’ll check it. Then you can chuck it into the fire.”
When the students had all created their little fires, Harry had them coil their ropes, and stow them in their belt pouches, before setting their bows and arrows into the woodpile for the fire. When Justin asked why, Harry explained that a Jedi had to learn to make do with whatever was on hand. The coil was a tiny shortcut, but now that they knew how to gather the things they might need, they could supply new wood.
Mackenzie took over then, and taught them how to create shelters that reflected the fire’s heat and how to arrange them to ensure one didn’t freeze overnight.
That same afternoon, Draco Malfoy swaggered down the corridor, emulating the behavior his former head of house used to attribute to Harry Potter. Near the library he spotted a group of first years, and decided to teach them their place.
“Well, if it isn’t a group of blood traitors and mudbloods!” He sneered, intending to intimidate the firsties. Unfortunately Draco had never quite grasped the concept of ‘situational awareness’ or he would have noticed the Head Girl walking up behind him.
“That’ll be fifty points from Slytherin for your use of that disgusting term, Malfoy and a weeks detention with Professor McGonagall.”
“How dare you!” Draco whirled, digging into his robes for his wand, only to find Cho Chang smirking at him. He paled as he saw the three prefects behind her.
“Go ahead, Malfoy. Pull it. Give me a reason to send you to St. Mungo’s.”
Footsteps approached. Minerva McGonagall and Filius arrived, Cho having warned them of the impending trouble.
“What is going on here?” She demanded.
“Nothing professor.” Malfoy tried to schmooze his way past. Unfortunately Cho prevented his escape by saying: “I’ve docked Mister Malfoy fifty points and assigned him a weeks worth of detentions with you for using the expression ‘Mudblood’ toward these students. As I understand it, the use of that word is now a finable offense.”
“Not just yet, but it will be soon.” Minerva replied. “You are quite fortunate, Mister Malfoy. In ten days time, the use of that slur will cost you ten Galleons…ten Galleons which you can ill afford to pay. That is in addition to any in-school punishments you are assigned.”
“They wouldn’t dare!” Draco spat. “My father…”
“Your father, Mister Malfoy, is an escaped Death Eater, under an order of ‘capture or kill on sight’. That disgusting brand you wear has made you a criminal as well. It is only the headmaster’s forbearance that keeps you here. You should understand, that should you be expelled, you would also face a death sentence! Now, report to my office this evening at seven and we can see to a proper detention for you.”
Glaring at all and sundry, Draco stormed off in high dudgeon, his bookends following like well-trained pets.
On the morning of the eighth, Minerva was headed toward the Great Hall for breakfast, when Albus Dumbledore called out: “Ah, Minerva! Might I have a moment of your time?”
Minerva had hoped to avoid this. She sighed.
“I understand that on your orders, young Mister Malfoy is serving a week’s detention with Mister Filch, for a rather minor offense?”
“He is, and it was not quite so minor.”
“Really, Minerva.” He twinkled sadly. “To subject young Draco to such indignity as cleaning toilets, for mere social gossip…isn’t that going a bit far?”
“Not at all. Mister Malfoy must learn what language and behavior, is acceptable in polite society. Thus far, he has not. I believe the punishment is entirely appropriate for using such a filthy expression! In fact, he is most fortunate I do not have him use his own toothbrush, which I understand Severus was wont to do.”
“Nevertheless, I must, regrettably, rescind your punishment. He really has done very little to deserve it.”
“It’s too late, Albus.” Inwardly, Minerva was seething. ~How dare he try to overrule my decision!~ “The Board of Governors has already affirmed the points loss and the detentions, as required by the new regulations put into effect in October. And I quote: “Any points loss in excess of twenty or detentions in excess of two days, shall be reviewed by a panel of all four heads of house. Should there be any serious objections, said points loss and/or detentions shall be brought to a council of at least three members of the board of Governors within two days.” End quote.
It just so happened that four members of the board were here yesterday morning, working on the educational inquest follow-up, and decided to hold the review then." Minerva knew that mentioning the inquest would anger the old man. "Besides, isn’t it better for him to lose a few points and serve a few days of detention, than pay a fine of ten Galleons to the Ministry?”
“Ah, about that. I will be having some well-thought-out words with Amelia as to her pushing through that ridiculous law. To restrict the speech of our most valuable citizens on a whim, is less than…”
“Albus…” Minerva interrupted harshly. That in itself, shocked him to silence, as he could count only a handful of times she’d done so in the past fifty years.
“Thirty five percent of our magical citizens are first generation witches and wizards. Another fifty five percent are half and full bloods. And yet, the remaining ten percent, the purebloods, seem to think it is entirely acceptable to hold the rest of our citizens in utter contempt…to treat them as beneath their notice and to abuse them at whim. Times have changed, Albus! The purebloods are no longer at the top, especially when you consider that half of those ten percent are bigots, in the service of a psychotic murderer named Voldemort. The Ministry is working very hard to eliminate that sort of bigotry, and it will no longer be tolerated in the British wizarding world, and, thanks to the new rules and regulations as set forth, it will no longer be tolerated here at Hogwarts!”
“I am the headmaster!” Dumbledore snarled. “I decide what is, and is not tolerated here!”
“Even the headmaster has to answer to the Board of Governors! The Board of Governors answers to the Ministry, and to Ministry law. That is how it is.”
Dumbledore fumed as his deputy turned and strode angrily away. This was intolerable! By Merlin’s beard, he had to do something about those ridiculous laws, but that bitch in the minister’s office was stonewalling him at every turn! How could he control the riffraff if the social elite were held to the same standards as the rest of the sheep!
And so, with little money to his name and no one to support him, Draco Malfoy cleaned toilets under the watchful eye of a man who hated students with a passion…and plotted revenge.
In Little Whinging, Dudley and Marissa were seated on a park bench. It was cold and dreary…too cold to play. The snow had all been packed into decaying forts or spattered snowballs. Grimy ice was everywhere with frozen puddles here and there, and the footpaths were all covered in frozen slush. The children were long gone, and the two teenagers had the play-park to themselves.
Dudley knew Marissa wanted to say something but couldn’t bring herself to do it.
“OK, there?” He asked.
“You saved my life.” She whispered. “You saved a lot of lives.”
Dudley was unsure how to answer that. If he claimed it was nothing, he’d insult her. If he said anyone would have done, she’d just say: “But you did.”
She removed the need to speak. “Dudley, if it hadn’t been for you, everybody there would have died. You put your life on the line, and kept the Deez occupied, and that gave the rest time to escape. It also gave the Aurors time to arrive. That was terribly brave. Thank you.”
Feeling extremely nervous, Dudley turned to Marissa and leaned in close. Instead of backing away, she also leaned in. Their lips met, and for a brief moment, they were both content.
Alas that contentment was spoiled by Petunia’s screeching voice, summoning Dudley to dinner.
“I suppose I have to go.” He muttered.
“Are you going to introduce us?”
“I’m hoping not to, actually.”
“Why?” She was surprised. “Are you ashamed of me?”
“No! Them!” Dudley hooked his thumb over his shoulder in the general direction of number four. At her look of amused shock, he asked: “Can I walk you home?”
“I’d like that.”
On the twelfth of January, Harry led his troops back to the castle. During the past week, he and Mackenzie had taught them how to make a fire, and create shelters, how to prepare water from snow and ice, how to hunt and snare animals, how to field dress, and cook them with what little was available, and how to identify which plants were edible and those that were not. Hermione had taught them how to fashion a seine net, and how to make fishing lines and hooks, and successfully catch fish with them, and when the fish were caught, she taught them how to smoke and dry both fish and meat. They were by no means experts in survival, but they could live for a time, without problems. These lessons would continue throughout the next half-year until June. If he survived the meeting with Voldemort, they would be a regular part of the training from then on.
That evening, during his nightly meditations, Harry beheld a disturbing image. Thinking of that image, he realized something. Of all those who were involved with Dumbledore’s false prophesy, the only one not accounted for, was Sybill Trelawney. Harry knew that she wasn’t responsible for Dumbledore’s machinations, but resented her involvement nevertheless. Her words, whether they were planted by Dumbledore or not, had condemned him to more than ten years of brutality. It was his remembrance of their discussion with Arabella Figg that reminded him, that like her, Sybill was an innocent pawn in an evil old man’s plots. That decided it for him.
“Dobby!” Harry called out. Instantly, the Jedi-elf was there.
“Harry Potter has called for Dobby?”
“Yes, Dobby. I’d like you to do me a favor.”
“Of course. Dobby will be happy to do whatever Harry Potter wants.”
“Thank you Dobby. I’d like you to locate Sybill Trelawney and see if she’s all right.”
“Oh! Dobby can do that easily!” With that, Dobby vanished silently.
“What’s wrong, Harry?” Hermione asked.
“I don’t know. I had a flash of…something. I’m not certain what. It’s like a…like a vague dream, but not so vague. I think it was a force vision. She looks like she’s sleeping, but…different…if you take my meaning.”
“Not really.” Hermione replied, confused.
Dobby appeared again with a worried frown.
“Harry Potter. Dobby has found Sybill Trelawney. She is being sleeping, but her sleep is being not normal. Dobby was thinking she be dead, but could feel her magic.”
“Where is she?”
“She is being in her chambers at Hoggywarts.”
“Can you speak with the other elves there and see if they know what’s going on?”
“Dobby can do!” And again, he popped away.
Harry paced his office. Hermione had seen him in a variety of moods, from furious, to pensive, to frantic, and this was a rare mood for Harry. He appeared to be calm but under the surface she could tell he was anything but.
Dobby popped back in.
“The Hoggywarts elves has told Dobby that they is being given instructions to tend to Sybill Trelawney in her chambers. They is to wash her and keep her from getting bed sores, but they is not knowing why she is sleeping like death.”
“Sleeping like death…sleeping like death…” Harry muttered. Then he got it. “Sleeping like death!”
“Of course!” Hermione gushed. “The Draught of Living Death!”
“That’s my guess!” Harry snarled, putting thing together, and then: “Dumbledore knows she’s a target. He must have decided she was too much at risk of kidnapping, so he just fed her the potion, and stored her away like a side of beef! Dobby! Go get her and bring her back here! If any of the elves tries to interfere, tell them that the Heir of Gryffindor has commanded it, and that they are not to mention it to the headmaster! In fact, if you can, please bring whichever elf is in charge there, to me, and I’ll explain things personally.”
“Dobby will do!” Once more he vanished.
“Harry what are we going to do with…” Hermione broke off as Dobby reappeared bearing a lifeless body and an older elf.
“Let’s get her to the medical wing. Maybe they can help her.”
Dobby popped away with his burden, and Harry and Hermione trotted down the hallways to the infirmary. The unknown elf followed along, curious as to the strange magic she could feel from both Jedi.
They entered to find Healers Merrifield and Jacoby already at work.
“How is she?”
“She’ll live.” Jacoby replied shortly. Merrifield gave him a glare but went back to work. Trelawney was under a sheet, and both healers were hovering over her, pouring potions down her throat and waving their wands over her body.
Finally, Merrifield sighed and stepped over to his ultimate boss. “She was in horrible condition. The Draught is not supposed to be used but for a few weeks at most. She’s malnourished and dehydrated. That’s what took so long. I’d like to wake her to see how she’s getting on, but I don’t dare. She’s loaded with so many compulsions, we can’t even begin to sort them out.”
“Shit!” Harry muttered. Turning to the healer he explained. “Dumbledore just loves to use compulsions. Call me paranoid, but I’m willing to bet he’s programmed her to escape and report this location to him.”
“Well we can dispel the compulsions, but without knowing what they were for, we might make the situation worse than it is now.” Jacoby volunteered.
Harry shook his head. “You don’t understand. Dumbledore has no problem using blood-based compulsions, and hiding them under regular ones. He’s done so on Hermione and me, and on the Weasley family.”
“Blood magic is illegal! It’s dark magic!” Merrifield was horrified.
“Dumbledore wrote the laws. He knows how to get around them.” Harry paced for a minute before turning his attention back to Merrifield.
“OK. Dispel all the compulsions that you safely can, but don’t wake her up just yet. I want our conference to be in a place she can’t possibly identify.”
“How about a place she can, Harry?” Hermione asked.
Harry raised an eyebrow in query.
“If we decorate an unused room to look like the Gryffindor common room, it should be safe to wake her there.”
“I was thinking…Tatooine.”
“If we make the place look like the Gryffindor common room, she’ll know how to get out. As soon as she does, she’ll realize this isn’t Hogwarts. On the other hand, if we make it look like a home on Tatooine, let her ‘see’ the two moons there through the windows, it’ll keep her off balance. Even if she is programmed to escape, she won’t know which way to run. I can talk to her and see what can be done, and if it’s necessary, we can always put her into stasis later.”
Harry turned to the new elf.
“Hello. Thank you for waiting. I’m Harry Potter.”
“Hello Harry Potter.” She looked again, seemingly into Harry’s very soul. “You is being the Heir to Godric of Gryffindor. Flopsey is being muchly pleased to being meeting you, Lord Gryffindor! Flopsey is being the most oldest house-elf at Hoggywarts.” Flopsey bowed so low, her nose touched the floor.
“Thank you, Flopsey, but you don’t have to bow to me. I’m pleased to meet you too.”
Of course, Flopsey immediately clouded up and began to wail at the wonderfulness of the great Harry Potter. Hermione, the evil wench that she was, just sat there and giggled.
When Dobby had finally calmed Flopsey, Harry spoke again.
“Flopsey, I’ve had Sybil Trelawney brought here, because I fear Dumbledore will harm or even kill her. I won’t allow that happen. I’ll be sending notice to the Minister of that as soon as I’m done here. While I understand your allegiance to Hogwarts, I insist, under the authority of Lord Gryffindor, if I must, that you never tell Dumbledore where she is. If he actually ever bothers to check up on her, though I doubt he will, you can tell him that Harry Potter has her.”
“Flopsey understands. Headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbleydore, Sir, has being making some very odd decisions for the past few years. Many of the house-elfs is even being wanting…clothes!” She fearfully whispered the last.
Dobby was appalled. Hermione was confused. Harry spoke before either of them could.
“Flopsey, you tell them if he ever does give any of them clothing, they can come here. I have eighty-three elves here and we would be happy to welcome you.”
Hermione’s face erupted in such a brilliant smile; Harry knew he was in for a very good night.
When Flopsey had departed, and Dobby had retired, Hermione proved Harry right and between them, they gave Voldemort such a headache, he prayed to die!
A/N: There are many variants to this idea, but this is the one I learned.
“For want of a nail, a horse was left unshod. For want of a shoe, the horse went lame. For want of a horse, the dispatch rider was slain. For want of the rider, the message was stolen. For want of that message, the army was defeated and in that defeat, a kingdom was lost.”
Small actions can have great consequences.
"Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…" Is from 1 Corinthians 13:4.
The bow and arrow method does work. The braid is as strong as nylon, and as I said, easy to find and make. I have a bowstring I made like that from the skin of a Yucca plant. Twenty years after I made it, it’s still strong enough to withstand the tension of a 55 lb recurve bow.
(“Why?”…”Are you ashamed of me?” and “No! Them.”) Are lines from ‘Real Genius’, one of Val Kilmer’s first roles.
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