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Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite



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Old October 14th, 2006, 3:49 am
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Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

I promised this a few months ago and I've finally gotten around to it. I posted an eralier version, and then did a rather substantial rewrite which got posted elsewhere but not here. It is a follow-on to my sixth year story, Harry Potter and the Gonlin Rebellion - http://cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=69536. They were both written pre-HBP, and there was no way that i could make them 'fit' with the developments of book 6. But it still is a good story. There is a fair bit of religious content, more so than in the first version. I actually think though, that a better word for it is spiritual, as it is rather standoffish about organized religion. The first chapter tries to bring you up to date with what happened in the prior story, but I would recommend you read that. And please don;t get freaked out by niceursleys - there was enough bad happening to Harry in these two stories for me to write all that negativity, too.


Chapter 1 Puzzlement




TO ACHIEVE PEACE, PRACTICE FORGIVENESS AND GOODWILL





The words were seared into Harry Potter’s mind like a brand on a calf. Harry had stood for more than an hour staring at these words scant weeks earlier in an ancient Egyptian shrine. Voldemort had laid plans for years to get access to the site: plans which had all come to a head this past year when Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, prompted both by his hatred of goblins and an Imperius Curse, had led an army of wizards behind a pair of graphorns modified to cause goblin heliopathy – sunsickness - in an attack on Gringotts’ Bank to gain access to the key that would open the shrine.

All the hundreds of goblins of Gringotts were helpless against the heliopaths, and would surely have died, except that the goblin healer Melony had alerted Harry and her boyfriend Dobby, who had destroyed the heliopathic graphorns while the older students of the Defense Association trapped the wizard army in Gringotts. With the threat of heliopathy gone, the goblins counterattacked against the invading army and defeated it, with the last remnants of the army driven out of Hogwarts into an inescapable crossfire from the students of the DA.

The only Hogwarts’ fatality was Marietta Edgecombe, who had provided cover for the DA to get into position. Harry was the only other student casualty, having suffered substantial wounds after destroying the graphorns, but the physical wounds were easily healed. Not so easily healed was the emotional wound, as Harry had fallen in love with Marietta, and still loved her, though she had broken up with him.

In the aftermath, it was proven that Dobby was actually a goblin whose exposure to sunlight as a youngster had made him elflike and that he was the owner of the vault where the key to the shrine had been placed years ago by his family, before all but he were murdered by Death Eaters looking for the key.

Dobby, Harry, Dumbledore and Hermione had traveled to Egypt to open the shrine. It was expected to have some sort of instructions for some great magic. Most had expected a recipe for a potion. Voldemort had expected it to contain instructions for immortality: after all, the ancient Egyptians had been preoccupied with overcoming death, and the inscription had said that it contained the path to what is great. Others had expected an incantation for an immensely powerful spell. However, the words when revealed said only “To Achieve Peace, Practice Forgiveness and Goodwill.” There was no incantation or potion recipe, no readily performable magic, and yet Dumbledore had been most impressed. And after all, the ancient Egyptian wizards had found these words to be so valuable that not only had they built a shrine for viewing them and encapsulated them in a charmed ruby the size of a snitch, but they had also protected the shrine with charms which had foiled the best that Voldemort, or the goblins, or wizard charm-breakers, could throw at it. None of the mummies or troves of ancient Egypt were as well-protected as this.

Harry himself had stood transfixed. At first he was mesmerized by the promise of peace, for which his heart ached like it would collapse, having lost yet another in a string of people he loved to the fight against Voldemort. Then his attention shifted to the mystery of the instructions. Harry had barely been aware of Dumbledore discussing the message with Hermione, and only recalled it much later as he mulled over the events of that day. Dumbledore had said that this was the way that Harry could unlock power enough to overcome any evil.

But as usual Dumbledore was short on details. Harry got the impression that Dumbledore was leaving it to him to figure out, just as he had since Harry had come to Hogwarts’ School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. Harry knew now that Dumbledore had been watching over Harry for some time, his whole life really, but had generally left Harry to figure things out for himself – with the occasional nudge or protection - and learn to deal with the challenges that faced him. Harry knew that Dumbledore felt that everyone should learn by doing and must meet their own challenges. Still, Harry’s challenges had been extraordinary, and he didn’t know if he could have brought himself to let someone meet all of those with no more preparation than Harry had. For all that, though, Harry had to admit that Dumbledore had cultivated in him an ability to deal with pain and danger and to face evil and fear beyond that of anyone he knew.

Now it was three weeks since he had viewed those words in the otherworldly setting of the shrine and he was back in the very muggle setting of his bedroom at his aunt and uncle’s house at 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, UK. Other boys his age, 16 still for another month and a few days, were worried about girlfriends and zits and the latest tunes. Or maybe it was sports and electronic games and the Internet or … whatever. Harry had very little insight into what normal boys did. He had never been a normal boy, although he had wanted to be one and usually felt like he ought to be one. He did not feel all that special. He knew the things he had done set him apart, but he looked at those like they applied to someone else, just as the title he had carried since his parents were killed – The Boy Who Lived – was something apart from him, even though it applied to him.

Rather than the concerns of a normal boy, Harry knew that he stood between the entire world and the unleashing of death, destruction and subjugation to an extent that no one had ever previously conceived. To prevent this disaster, he had to figure out those words – “To Achieve Peace, Practice Forgiveness and Goodwill” – and somehow do them. And as Harry thought about them, he knew that he only knew what those words meant in a very abstract sense. He had no idea how to apply them in any useful way.

Harry had settled back into the routine he had established the previous summer quite readily. He continued his early morning runs, workouts at the Recreation Center, and studying and practicing the incantations and movements for spells. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, he boxed with his cousin Dudley at the Recreation Center, with Uncle Vernon refereeing. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings Harry helped with the yard work, now that the members of the Order of the Phoenix were convinced that he was not being abused. Tuesday afternoons were spent at Mrs. Figg’s house, helping her brew potions. Dumbledore was making arrangements already for Harry to visit classmates at their houses on the weekends. Just in case, Harry was never without his 2 magic wands, and carried a couple of drumsticks along with them, so it would look like he was just another teen boy wanting to be a rock band drummer, always ready to practice riffs on any available surface.

But through it all, Harry was pondering what the message meant, what it required of him. His consternation was not for want of trying. As he did things, he thought often of how much he cared for the people he knew, even when they were not at their best, and how many good things there were in the world. He was aware of the many bad things as well, but they all seemed solvable, if only people would make the effort. He saw that many people, at least those he came into contact with, were generally trying to solve problems, though sometimes they only saw only their local or personal problems, and not the big picture. It pained Harry to think, and even to have visions, of the death and destruction that would come if he himself did not solve the problem that faced him – Voldemort and his Death Eaters. The thought of the awful things they had and would do filled him with loathing, and yet he knew that whatever else the message from the shrine meant, learning not to hate people was a part of it.

Realizing he needed help, one evening Harry took out his mirror which communicated with a matching mirror Dumbledore had. These had belonged to his father and his godfather, Sirius Black, both now dead. If he had been back at Hogwarts, Harry might have talked with his portrait of Sirius, but a talking animate portrait was just too much to have around a muggle house, and it didn’t help that his relatives had seen Sirius on the telly identified as a convicted murderer.

“Professor Dumbledore?” Harry spoke into the mirror, and soon Dumbledore’s visage appeared.

“Yes, Harry. How are you?”

“Fine, sir. Trying to figure out the message from Egypt.”

“Excellent. Are you making any progress?

“Not really; that’s why I called. The words are just that to me - words. Most of the people I know try to be what they conceive of as good people, sometimes with only a vague notion of what that is, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talking about practicing forgiveness and goodwill. About the only circumstances in which I hear of forgiveness is when a bad debt gets written off. And goodwill is only mentioned in the Christmas banners - you know, ‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men.’ But nobody talks about actually acting that way. It’s just pretty words at the end of the year.”

“You have come farther than you think, Harry. You know that the concepts are empty for most people and that practicing them means more than just saying them. Your relatives never took you to church I take it?”

“No, sir. They went to services at the local church at Easter, but they never brought me. The rest of the year, Uncle Vernon would just grumble about what a fraud the churches are.”

“Unfortunately, sometimes they are. As you have learned of the Ministry, any institution – governments, religions, businesses, unions, clubs - can be abused by those who see only a source of authority or power in it, rather than an opportunity to help their fellows. Nonetheless, there are good people in government, and good people in religion. It is the latter that you have need of.”

“No chance you could just make it all clear to me?” asked Harry.

Dumbledore smiled benignly. “Even if I had the words to express it all clearly, they would not make sense to you until you had confronted all the issues in your own heart and mind.”

“So I need to go find a priest and talk it all out?”

“Actually, I’ve made arrangements for someone to come to you. Someone I know to be an excellent teacher of such matters. In fact, he is the Hogwarts chaplain.”

“Hogwarts has a chaplain?”

Dumbledore chuckled. “Yes, of course, Harry. His name is Cameron MacBoon. Have you not noticed the chapel in the south courtyard?”

“Er, well, I saw the building but I never knew what it was. I’ve never heard anyone mention it or say they were going to services.”

“Yes, most of the students have become quite secular, as has British society in general. Too few people are concerned with the notions of how to become exemplary people. They want power or money or leisure, but not enlightenment or serenity.”

“I think I do. I think I’d better.”

“Yes, Harry. Your experiences have pushed you into facing much of evil and pain. To handle these experiences without becoming dull or venal requires spiritual and moral study. Remus will be bringing him to meet you Wednesday afternoon. He and Chaplain MacBoon are friends, and he wanted to see you again as well, so he quickly volunteered to make the introductions.”

“Wonderful. I’ll like seeing Professor Lupin as well. It sounds as though you already knew I would be needing help.”

“Few people can find their way where you’ll be going without someone guiding them on the first part of the journey.”

“It sounds a bit scary.”

“I understand that, Harry, although it shouldn’t. I would liken a young person to a seed. Most never allow themselves to sprout and grow and blossom, and yet we would consider doing so the fulfillment of the seed’s reason for existence.”

“Hmm, I think I see. The plant looks nothing like the seed itself, and people are afraid of letting go of what they are so as to become what they could be.”

“Yes, very good. It is that fear of losing oneself in change that keeps most from ever growing. Do you think you’re up for it?”

“As I see it, the choice is ‘grow or die’.”

“Yes, but not because of the threat which impends. For all of us, we either grow emotionally and spiritually or we begin to wither from within. You are just being pressed rather more insistently than most.”

“I think I’d rather face a more immediate challenge, like a basilisk or Death Eaters: then I have the spur of adrenaline and the goal right in front of me.”

“Yes, it is far easier to overcome a monster or a mountain than one’s baser self.”

“There is no other way?”

“Alas, Harry, your choice is to surrender and become just like Voldemort, in which case it barely matters which of you would win out, or to become his opposite.”

Harry shuddered at the thought of becoming like Voldemort. “I’ve felt the pleasure he feels in others’ pain and destruction. It sickens me even though the feeling of pleasure grasps at me. I’ll do whatever it takes to go the opposite way.”

“I had confidence that you would, Harry. Well, now that that is settled, what has your scar been telling you?”

“The pain has been growing since we were in Egypt. He knows we gained access and he is fuming over it. He probes my mind on occasion, but he is cautious, because he knows that I feel it and become more aware of his thoughts at the same time. He’s plotting, but I don’t know any details, other than that nothing dire has been done yet.”

Dumbledore looked grim. “Harry, just how open are your minds to each other?”

“I’m … I’m not sure.”

“Do you have any idea?”

“The connection is growing, but neither of us pushes the limits. He finds most of my thoughts repulsive and useless, and while I recognize the helpfulness of knowing his plans, much of the rest is contempt, fear and loathing.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Excellent report, Harry. Keep me informed, but keep working on occlumency as well – you need to learn to protect yourself. And don’t slack off on your other training just because you are concerned about the message. Before this is done, it is virtually certain you will need those skills to keep yourself alive. There are no shortcuts to victory.”

“I have accepted that, Professor. Until all this is over, I know I have to prepare for anything.”





Now Harry needed to prepare his aunt and uncle for having visitors from the wizarding world. Harry was always concerned about having magical people come to the house. His relatives were still none too keen on magic, though they had come to accept Harry and that Harry needed to stay each summer with them. Harry checked the calendar and reassured himself that the full moon was not near, so Professor Lupin would not be turning into a werewolf while visiting. Harry doubted that Lupin or Dumbledore would overlook a thing like that, but it didn’t hurt to check. Harry knew that Lupin would do nothing very wizardly unless forced to, but he didn’t know about Reverend MacBoon. Of course, there was the Statute for Secrecy, but too few wizards seemed capable of observing it, especially if they rarely interacted with the muggle world. Harry crept downstairs to the parlor, where his aunt and uncle were watching telly and talking about something nervously.

“Erm, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia. I have something to tell you.”

Vernon Dursley quick pushed an envelope into the cushion beside his leg and tried to give a relaxed smile from under his walrus moustache. “Aah, yes, Harry, my boy. That’s fine, and we have something to tell you. Tell you what – you go first,” he said unctuously.

This was sounding suspicious, thought Harry, but he went on. “A, erm, friend of mine – he used to be friends with my parents. Umm – you met him last year, Uncle Vernon, when he and several others came to watch us box – Professor Lupin?”

Harry stressed the word ‘professor’ in hopes that this would make him sound more acceptable. Harry expected a reaction from Uncle Vernon, but instead, Aunt Petunia spoke up. “Ooh, Remus!”

Uncle Vernon turned and glared at her as blush rose on her cheeks. “Yes, Petunia, and just where do you know this fellow from, and on a first-name basis, too? You weren’t there at the Rec. Center last year.”

“Oh, well, it’s just that she – his mother – used to bring HIM – Harry’s father – and his friends around at times. Remus was kind of reserved and shy, but with a kind of a hint of both wildness and sadness about him, and he would quote poetry. That’s all very dashing and, erm, romantic to a teenage girl, you know. And more than any of them, he treated me like a regular person even though I wasn’t – like them.”

Uncle Vernon looked disquieted by this, but before he could speak, Harry said, “You knew them? Did you know Sirius, too?”

“The murderer!?” shouted Uncle Vernon, getting very red in the face.

Petunia put up her hands to calm Vernon down and then continued, “Yes, I did. And while he was very rude to me at first, I still cannot come to believe that he murdered anyone. Especially as it came closer to the time they left that school, when they stopped coming around much, he had turned to be a very kindly and decent sort, still mischievous, but not in a hurtful way.”

“That sounds like the Sirius I knew,” said Harry, his voice cracking. “Why didn’t you say anything before?”

“I’m sorry, Harry,” said Petunia, “but I didn’t want to stir anything up about old times. I liked the house being so much less tense.”

“He wasn’t really a murderer. We proved that at the school several years ago, but our evidence slipped away. And now it doesn’t matter.”

“Well, it does matter to me,” said Petunia. “I didn’t like thinking of him that way. I couldn’t imagine any of them doing anything that evil.”

“Well, actually, the real betrayer of my parents and murderer of those others was another friend of theirs, Peter Pettigrew. Do you remember him?”

Petunia searched her mind. “I think so. There was one boy they called Peter, or sometimes Worm-something. He was always such a tag-along, mousy little sort: I could see him doing all sorts of things to ingratiate himself with anyone he was with. I know I wouldn’t have trusted him, but then, I wouldn’t have trusted anyone with … those powers.”

Harry tilted his head at her. “Really – just because they can do things you can’t?”

“Yes, Harry. It’s a decided and rather dramatic advantage over us … normal folk. Lots of people who have advantages - whether it’s money or political power, or other ways to manipulate and take advantage of others - use them in bad ways. They even start to think they are entitled to treat those without such advantages as ‘lesser people’ deserving to be treated shabbily. After all, they have this or that advantage, so they must be superior people, deserving of lording it over others.”

“I can’t blame you for feeling that way. I’ve seen too much of people who think that way. I know … people with my powers who seem not to regard those without them as even human. They sneer at people like me with relatives and ancestors lacking those powers.”

Uncle Vernon looked keenly at him. “Rather like the attitudes of the nobility, eh?”

Harry nodded. “Yeah. What makes them so special, anyway? But back to Professor Lupin, Aunt Petunia, you didn’t say anything last year when all those people came to tell you two to treat me better. Didn’t you recognize him?”

“Well, it actually took a while. The years have been somewhat hard on him. And really, Harry, that was by no means a social call they were making.”

“No, you’re right, it was anything but. Anyway, Professor Lupin is going to have another person with him, a Reverend MacBoon.”

“Reverend?” perked up Vernon. “Well, he better not be passing the plate around here. We’re already attending church regularly, thank you very much, and do our part. What’s he coming around for?”

“He’s to help me figure out some things?”

“Is he … one of your kind?”

“You know, I didn’t ask. He’s the chaplain at Hog – uh, my school -, so I assumed, but maybe not.”

“Well, as long as they can arrive normal and look normal and they don’t want anything out of us, it’ll be okay,” said Uncle Vernon. “Now Harry, I’ve just gotten a letter from my sister, …”

“Oh, no,” said Harry, “not Aunt Marge.”

Petunia nodded nervously, as Uncle Vernon went on. “Yes, she’s coming to visit for the month of July. Listen, Harry, we know you aren’t too fond of her, but we really don’t want any, erm, well, blow up like we had the last time she came during a summer.”

“She really says rather awful things, you know,” said Harry.

“I can’t deny it, Harry,” agreed Uncle Vernon, “and we’re going to have to go along with those things, too.”

“WHAT!?”

“Listen, Harry, things have been better for you here. And you can’t deny it – you’ve enjoyed it. But things have been better because your headmaster explained all those things about what’s going on in your world to us - over a cup of the most delightful tea that he brought – but we can’t go trying to explain all that to m’sister. And how else are we going to explain the change of attitude around here. So we’re going to have to put on like everything’s just as it was the last time she came.”

All of the old resentments and frustrations with Aunt Marge were boiling up in Harry, and this was proving to be a bitter pill to swallow. Finally, he said, “Well, Reverend MacBoon is coming here to teach me about forgiveness and goodwill. I guess Marge will have to be a priority project.”


Feedback? - http://cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=96684


__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.

Last edited by Dedalus Diggle; October 14th, 2006 at 3:58 am.
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Old October 16th, 2006, 9:23 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 2 - Reverend MacBoon
Part 1
Remus Lupin and Reverend MacBoon arrived so promptly after lunch on Wednesday that Harry almost thought that they had been hiding in the shrubs to ring the doorbell when the meal was over. Harry put down the dishtowel from cleaning the dishes and went to answer.

“Harry!” said Lupin, giving him a bear hug.

“Professor Lupin, it’s good to see you,” said Harry, looking over Lupin’s shoulder for some indication of their transportation. “Erm, how did you get here?”

Lupin smiled. “First, call me Remus, okay? I’m no longer your teacher and you’re nearly an adult in the wizarding world. I know you still think of me as a close friend of your parents, but I’d like for us to be friends on our own terms as well, okay? Now don’t fret about us not passing for muggle. We walked over from Arabella’s house. We used the Floo Network to get there. Cameron can’t apparate, and I can’t take a living being with me – like some people can, I hear.”

Harry smiled. “Oh, well, some things come easy, some don’t. We all have our strengths.”

“Sure, Harry,” said Lupin. “Let me make introductions. Reverend Cameron MacBoon, may I introduce Harry Potter. Harry, Reverend MacBoon.”

The man with Lupin was a little taller than Harry, not quite stocky but no longer slender, and appeared to be the age of Arthur and Molly Weasley, maybe a bit older. His medium blue eyes were very active and alert, but not shifty, and his chin was cleft. He had an unguarded demeanour that was neither intimidating nor timid, but radiated trust and acceptance. He spoke with a noticeable Scottish burr.

Reverend MacBoon smiled and extended his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Harry – wish I had met you at the chapel before.”

Harry smiled. “Well, sorry about that. I’ve never learned a church-going habit. I’m glad to meet you, uh, should I call you Father, Reverend, um …”

“How about Cameron? If I had to use a title, it would be Reverend, as Presbyterian pastors are known. The school is in Scotland, after all, where the national church is Presbyterian. But I’d rather do without titles. I’ll be sharing my experiences and education with you, but I don’t want you to just accept the words because I’ve got the title. I’m not a professor who will give you a test at the end.”

“Well, that’s good, I think.”

“Maybe, maybe not. As a pastor, I am a spiritual guide: my goal is to help you to understand what is good and what is bad and to bring out the good and put aside the bad within you. And as I understand your quest, before too long, you must take yourself beyond any sort of instruction another person could give you, though I can continue to lend a helping hand and an outside perspective. But truly, we’re not so much going to be learning about things, so much as learning to do.”

“Well, that’s been the sorts of classes I’ve done the best in. But I have to admit that I find it rather scary as well – when I fly, or Apparate, or do spells, I know when I’m doing them right – something happens. How will I know when I am doing this sort of work right?”

“Your heart will tell you, Harry, you’ll feel the coming of peace. Albus tells me you’ve got a good start in the heart department.”

Harry smiled. “I know he says that, but I feel like I have so far to go.”

“Good, that’s the first step toward wisdom. In fact, we all have far to go to be the people we are made to be, but it is only those who recognize the need for improvement who will make improvement.”

“Well, I’m almost ready to get started. I just have to finish doing the lunch dishes,” said Harry, leading them past the cupboard under the stairs to the kitchen. They walked in and found Petunia having a cup of coffee.

“Petunia! Pleased to see you again. The years have been kind,” said Lupin.

“Remus, it’s nice to see you, too. I’m so sorry about Sirius,” answered Petunia graciously.

Lupin nodded sadly, then continued. “You remember Reverend MacBoon, don’t you.”

Petunia extended her hand and MacBoon, rather than shaking it, kissed it, in the continental style.

Petunia giggled at having her hand kissed. “Reverend, you’ve barely aged since the wedding.”

Harry gaped. “Which wedding – my parents?”

“Of course, Harry,” said Petunia, “Do you think I’d go to any other weddings at … that school. I’m not fond of magic, but blood is stronger.”

“And love stronger still,” said MacBoon. “Pleased to meet you again, Miss Evans.”

“Oh, it’s Mrs. Dursley now,” she said shyly.

“Yes, of course. I’m sure Remus told me. Good for Mr. Dursley, a loss for me.”

Lupin laughed gently. “You lay it on thick there, don’t you, Cameron?”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, Remus.”

“Petunia,” said Lupin, “I know you had some magical cleaning in here last summer. Do you mind if I use a bit to finish up Harry’s work so we can get started on what we came about?”

“Let me just pull the blinds first,” said Petunia.

Once Aunt Petunia had shut the windows tight against any prying eyes, which she knew from her own practices were likely to be about, Lupin took out his wand, said several spells, and the kitchen was left sparkling as unnaturally clean as Harry’s Aunt Petunia always kept it, far cleaner than Harry ever got it when he cleaned up.

“Will that do, Petunia?” asked Lupin.

“It’s lovely, Remus.”

“Pleased to be of service. We’ll just take Harry to his room for our business then. Harry will need to be able to speak without reservation.”

Harry, Lupin and Reverend MacBoon went up to Harry’s room and shut the door.

“Before you two get started on other things, I want to show you something, Harry,” said Lupin.

He pulled out a handheld mirror just like the one that Sirius had given Harry nearly two years earlier, and which Harry had used for a year to discuss matters with Dumbledore.

“It’s part of the set that Sirius got all of us Marauders one Christmas. You have your father’s, Dumbledore has Sirius’s. I’ve only recently gotten this one – it was Peter’s, but his mother gave it to me. She still believes him dead. Lacking any proof, I hadn’t the heart to tell her aught. Mine, I’m afraid, was broken many years ago in one of my werewolf rages. Don’t worry – Cameron already knew about that. He was the assistant chaplain when I came to Hogwarts. I can’t begin to tell you how much he helped me; not so much with the disease, but with my frustration at my situation. Your mother was an angel in that regard as well. Listen carefully to him, Harry. And if you need to talk with me, just get your mirror and call.”

“That’s great, Profes …, ah, Remus. I know others knew my parents, but you’re really the last link I have to them as regular people. Besides, you’re a great guy to talk with even without that.”

“Thanks, Harry. Barring business for the Order, I’ll always be there for you, and not just because you’re the Order’s business either, right? I like you and want to be part of your life whether you fight anyone again or not. I’m going to get going now, so you and Cameron can talk. I don’t want to hinder. You need to talk freely, Harry, and you can. The sanctity of your talks with a pastor in the wizarding world cannot be broken even by Veritaserum. I’ve seen it tried on him, back during the trials after Voldemort’s first fall. The Ministry wanted to question him and he could not be made to reveal things said in confidence. So speak freely, from the deepest recesses of your soul.”

“Okay, Remus. I’ll do my best. It may not be easy at first – my upbringing hasn’t been that conducive to being totally open,” replied Harry.

“I know you’ll do your best. Besides, Cameron has a way of making a person feel comfortable enough to open up – no, not magic, though you might call it a certain charm, it’s really his complete trustworthiness.”

“Now you’re laying it on thick, Remus,” interrupted Cameron.

“Don’t listen to that, Harry. He has Dumbledore’s trust and mine, and in no time, you’ll understand.”

“Okay, Remus. Y’know, I noticed that you said Voldemort’s first fall – are you so certain that there’s going to be a second?”

“I like our chances. We have an excellent Minister of Magic, the wizarding world is alert and reasonably unified, and the goblins are talking alliance and would stand behind you under any circumstances. Whatever your role is, and Dumbledore only lets us know that you’re at the center of things, now that our champion’s ready to do whatever it takes, I think we’re in good shape. I just hope I make it through to see it.”

Harry laughed weakly. “Okay – no pressure, huh?”

Lupin laughed also. “Nope, no pressure – just the fate of the world.”

He winked and left Harry and Reverend MacBoon to talk.

“Okay, Harry,” said Cameron MacBoon, when Lupin had gone. “Let’s make sure I understand the situation the same way you do. I know about the prophecy – you are supposed to have the power to ‘vanquish the Dark Lord,’ but neither you nor Dumbledore really know what that power is. He believes it has to do with your capacity for love. Last year you also received a message at an ancient Egyptian shrine which said ‘To achieve peace, practice forgiveness and goodwill.’ Dumbledore believes that this path to peace will purify your loving nature and allow this power you need to manifest itself. Is that about it?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Harry.

“And do you want me to guide you on that path to peace.”

“If you can, yes.”

“I believe I can, but I’ll have you know, it’s probably the hardest task any person can set for himself. It requires a total mastery of oneself. Magic won’t help you. You must cleanse your soul of all negative feelings and cultivate positive thoughts so that you can rise above all that is evil. Are you game for that?”

“If that’s what it takes to help my friends, then sure.”

“I can’t promise that. Dumbledore thinks it will. He deals with contending with evil wizards – I help people contend with the evil within them. I believe this is good in itself, and I think you will, too, in time. But we will be working on it in steps, and at first, you will be able to work on those steps because you are seeking some other goal or because of those you have affection for. The time will come, though, when you will have to see practicing love as the goal in itself.”

“This isn’t something you just look up in a potion book, is it, Cameron?” asked Harry.

“Nae, Harry. But I think I can help you. Now first you have to understand that there are different types of love. The ancient Greeks had names for several different types – we have to use adjectives to describe them and tell them apart. There’s eros – romantic love. I’m told you have some knowledge of that?”

Harry put his head down and breathed deeply to compose himself.

“Yes, Cameron. I fell in love this past year. She broke up with me three months ago, and then she was killed at the Battle of Gringotts last month. I … still loved her.”

“Yes, I knew Marietta. We corresponded last summer. I am unable to tell you about what, but I’m certain you have an idea what had her feeling so conflicted. It had to do with the magical world, of course. Her family attended church at an Anglican parish in London, but the priests there were muggles, so they wouldn’t have understood.”

“Well, that answers one thing I was wondering – whether you are a wizard or not,” said Harry with a smile.

“Almost – I’m a squib,” said Reverend MacBoon. “Will that be a problem for you, Harry?”

“Oh, no, Cameron. I learn Potions from Mrs. Figg during the summer. I’m sure you know she’s a squib. She’s probably the best potion-maker I’ve ever met – including Professor Snape. Uh, don’t tell him I said that, okay?”

Cameron laughed. “No, of course not: I wouldn’t want to spoil the excellent relationship Remus told me you have with him. But can I tell cousin Arabella you said so?”

“She’s your cousin? Well, of course you can tell her – I think I’ve told her something like that already,” answered Harry.

“She’s more like a fourth cousin twice removed, but squibs tend to gravitate together. We feel less isolated that way, and can share stories about our cats and kneazles.”

“Remus only mentioned that you couldn’t apparate.”

“Courteous, isn’t he? Too many wizards measure a person by the amount of magic someone can do. There’s little shame in such reckoning in being unable to apparate, but lacking any magical powers? – tut, tut, tut, that’s just awful. I’m not embarrassed of it, though; it’s just the way God made me. And he gave me plenty of other talents. Most importantly, being a squib is a gift in itself, in that it helps me keep my humility, so that I may better serve my fellow man. Let’s move on. The next type of love is philos, sometimes called brotherly love, but it’s broader than what it sounds. It’s the love toward all those you associate with – kin, friends, fellow team members, whatever.”

“Okay, I know that one, too.”

“Indeed you do, Harry. You’ve done feats for those you love that only Albus can rival in recent time. Sometimes people mistake it by equating it to a ‘one hand washes the other’ kind of implied deal. It may begin that way, but as so many courageous people have shown, it often extends to actions of bravery or sacrifice that go well beyond any hope of reward. You didn’t go into the Chamber of Secrets or retrieve Cedric Diggory’s body or go to help the goblins last month because you expected reward, but because of your love for your fellow beings. Wonderful, amazing things have been accomplished on the basis of philos. But we must go much further.”

“Further - how much further can love go?” asked Harry, puzzled.

Agape’,” answered Cameron, “Universal love, also known as Christian love, because it is what is the heart and soul of Christianity – the very pinnacle and the very foundation of Christian practice.”

“Really!?” said Harry. “I guess I should have known my aunts and uncle were not quite right on that.”

“I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that someone who claims to be a Christian hasn’t got a clue as to what it’s actually about,” Cameron said sardonically. “So what did they tell you?”

“That Christianity is about giving out rules about being respectable, so that wicked boys like me would know how rotten they are and why they would be going to hell and why proper people like them would be going to heaven. But to be fair, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia haven’t said anything like that to me since they’ve accepted that I’m a wizard.”

Cameron shook his head. “I cannot begin to tell you how many people claim to be Christians but know nothing of what it is all about. It creates great resentment and disdain against Christians and Christianity.”

“Cameron, is the point for me to become a Christian?”

“No, and yes.”

Harry sighed. “Well, that clears it up.”

“Glad to be of service,” Cameron said with a smile and a wink. “The problem, Harry, is that ‘becoming a Christian’ means different things to different people. To most people, it means ‘professing Christianity’ as one’s faith, or ‘accepting Jesus as Lord, God’s manifestation in human form.’ That is not what I am trying to lead you to; if you pick that up as we go, that’s fine. I believe it, but I’m here to teach you something else. Let me tell you a story.

“There was a man with a farm and one of the fields needed hoeing. In the morning, he told his two sons to take hoes and go out to the field to take care of it. One of them said, ‘No way, I want to spend the day with my friends,’ and he left the house. The other said, ‘Sure, Dad, right away.’ But once the first son got a short distance down the road, he thought better of what he was doing, came back, picked up a hoe, went to the field and got to work. The second son, however, went out of the house, picked up a hoe as if he was going to the field, but instead went to pass time with his friends. Now which one was doing what his father asked?”

“The one who did the work.”

“Of course. And it’s the same with being a Christian. Many people call themselves Christian but never act with Christian love; others act with Christian love, though for whatever reason they do not profess Christianity. I’m trying to teach you to think and act as a Christian is called to. Even Jesus’s students sometimes got that idea wrong: Jesus had to correct them when they tried to stop people who were healing the sick in Jesus’s name. The disciples thought those people were misusing his name, but Jesus was only concerned that they were doing good things for other people. That is what counts, Harry. Saying you are a Christian without trying to practice agape’ means little and is often even destructive, because calling oneself Christian but failing to even try to act with Christian love discredits Christianity to those who are looking for direction. Of course, it should be kept in mind that no Christian, no person, is perfect, but we Christians are called upon to do our best to guide all our actions by love. On the other hand, doing the work of a Christian – that is, practicing love for all beings – that is what being a Christian in spirit is about, whether you adopt that name or not, and I think that what matters more is the life you try to lead, not whether you profess a particular religion.”

“So it doesn’t matter if someone joins a church?”

“Aah, now don’t mistake me: I want people to become Christians and I’m ready to baptize anyone who asks. But it’s not because I want them on the ‘team.’ It’s not to keep score, but to assist people to practice love. I believe becoming a Christian is good, because I believe Jesus’ life and the teachings of Christianity are the best way to learn what is truly moral: acting with love. By the way, Jesus told that story about the farmer in his ministry: I don’t claim credit.”

“Ah, so you have a Holy Ghostwriter,” said Harry with a smirk.

Cameron groaned, and then laughed lightly. “There are people who would be very incensed at your making a pun like that, calling it sacrilege, but I know it was innocent fun. Jesus and his followers were criticized for having fun and joking around in their free time, so I’ll go with their example and enjoy life. Moving on: as his ministry progressed Jesus was more and more concerned about the people who professed to be Godly people, but acted very different, using adherence to relatively irrelevant and often arcane rules as justification, when the truly important law – ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ – was being ignored.”

“Not getting the big picture.”

“Exactly. The apostle Paul expressed the core concept in the letter titled Romans, which was actually written to Jews living in Rome. Remember that Judaism was and to a certain extent remains very focused on adherence to the law as expressed in the Torah and other writings. He wrote, ‘Owe no one anything, but love, for he that loves fulfills the law. You know the laws “do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not covet,” and the others, but they are all contained in this one law, that you love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no ill to the neighbour, so love is the true fulfillment of all the law.’”

“Does that mean that all of those other rules, about murder and adultery and such, don’t matter?”

“Oh, no, they matter. They are particular expressions of the true value which breathes life into the law – love. If there should come circumstances where following the particular law violates the fundamental law of love, then the way of love should be followed. Thus it is no sin for a healer to help the ill on the Sabbath when needed, as the healer would be following the demands of love. Jesus made the point that the measure of a person’s actions is the practice of love in another passage where he said that the time would come after his time on Earth when he would be in heaven judging between those who would be saved and those not. What he said was that the good would be judged by this: ‘I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you showed hospitality, I was without clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you cared for me, and in prison and you visited me.’ Similarly the bad people failed to do these things. Then those in each group would say, ‘when did we ever see you in these conditions?’ His reply was that when you do these things for any person, particularly the most needy, you are doing those things for Him.”

“I’m afraid I’m a little lost on that.”

“It’s saying that God’s will for us is that we practice love for all people, not just those who can help us or who can demand it, but those who need the help. When he says that doing this for the least among us is doing it for Him, you can view it on a couple of levels. It can be seen as a symbolic statement: he loves all beings, so when you do things for those he loves, you are doing it for him, just as no good parent fails to appreciate a kindness shown to his child. I prefer a more literal view of it, though, that God is actually in all of us and in all that exists, so that whatever we do toward another being is done to God.”

“Would I understand this better if I read the Bible?”

“Yes and no.”

“Stop that!”

“Sorry, Harry. Let me elucidate. The Bible is a very complex book and very easy to misunderstand. It has often been said that the devil himself can quote scripture to suit his purposes and, just so, we often hear of hateful things being justified by reference to scriptures. The Bible is divided into books, and those are divided into chapters and those into verses. The various books have their own histories and were not assembled into the current format until centuries after the parts were committed to parchment. The first portion, well over half, is known to Christians as the Old Testament. The Jews recognize the same books, though not the same translations, as the Torah and the Talmud. This part is the story of the Hebrew people, whose descendants are today known as Jews, after the main surviving tribe of Hebrews, and their relationship with God. It tells of forming a pact, that is, a testament or contract, with God, that they would obey the rules he gave them and in return he would protect them. Time and again they fell away from these rules and God allowed their enemies to hurt them until they turned back to God and he restored his protection. There were some basic broad rules, which we know as the Ten Commandments, and then there were a whole passel of more detailed rules about what they were required to do in all sorts of situations. Then in interpreting these rules for new situations, additional rules were devised which became ever more arcane. Of course, no one could keep all these rules perfectly, so there were ways to seek God’s forgiveness and to make oneself right with God. This primarily involved blood sacrifices.”

“Okay, now blood sacrifices are sort of a way of making an apology to God, right?”

“That’s the idea, Harry.”

“I don’t know a lot about Judaism, but I don’t think they do that.”

“Well, not animal sacrifice - that was given up long ago. Not too much after Jesus’s time on earth. Most Jews still practice circumcision, however, which was a blood sacrifice given as a sign of affirmation of the covenant of the Torah. Modern thinking rarely addresses the ‘blood sacrifice’ origins of the practice, but that’s how it was formerly understood. Now, Jesus was a Jew born about two thousand years ago when Judea – the reestablished land of the remaining tribe of the Hebrews – was a province of the Roman Empire. It is the Christian belief that he was God’s son, that is, one in being with God, but adopting fully human form. He studied the Jewish laws and the commentary on them. He may also have studied Greek philosophy and other ideas in the land: he certainly seems to have followed the Greek philosophical practice of working from the particular to refine out the general principles. He saw that the goal of all of the law could be summed up as an attempt to express a single idea – universal love. The very core of his message was every person could be resolved with God if they sincerely sought to practice forgiveness and goodwill toward all people, and in so doing they would know peace.”

Harry cocked his head. “That’s the message from the shrine – but that was placed more than a thousand years before the time of Jesus. So he didn’t invent the concept?

“Nae, and the Greeks had the word agape’ and the idea of it long before the time of Jesus. Many other cultures did too. But he lived it. He actually practiced it. And he accepted being the final blood sacrifice that we all might be saved.”

“He WAS a blood sacrifice – what happened to him?” asked Harry.

“You don’t even know that? You know the Christian symbol is the cross, right? Jesus was falsely accused, convicted, then whipped and nailed with large spikes through his hands and feet to a cross, which was raised up so that he hung on it in the desert sun of Judea until he died.”

“That’s awful!” said Harry with revulsion. “What did he do to deserve that?”

“He said that the only religious observance that really counts is living your life by love.”

“Just that? Imagine what they would have done if he had said something hateful.”

“That they would have accepted, so long as he did not call for rebellion. The challenge of his message upset the established order of things.”

“That sounds like an awful way to die.”

“It was meant to be, so that people would not dare to run afoul of the power of Rome,” said Cameron quietly. “And do you know what he did as he was hanging there on the cross, bleeding, aching, burning in the sun, surrounded by people who mocked him, spat on him, and even stole his clothes?”

“I would have summoned my wand and hexed them all into comas! I can tell already, though, that that’s not it, so, okay, what did he do?”

“He prayed, ‘Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.’”

“But … they were awful to him. They hurt him. They were killing him. And he forgave them!?”

“Yes, Harry,” said Cameron. “That is the way with Christian love – we learn forgiveness and goodwill toward everyone – unbounded either by the number of times a person has harmed us or others or what kind of harm they have done.”

“That’s what I have to learn?”

“Yes, Harry.”

“To forgive everyone and wish them good?”

“Not just to think it – but to practice it.”

“Everyone?”

“Yes, Harry.”

“Bellatrix Lestrange and the rest of the Death Eaters and even Voldemort!?”

“Yes, Harry.”

“That’s a tall order – really immense!”

“Yes, Harry.”

“So I just say ‘I forgive you all – go ahead and have a good time killing people,’” ranted Harry.

“No, that’s not going to happen on several grounds. First, we’re going to practice with little steps. Second, you aren’t going to be allowed to just ‘live and let live’ with Voldemort and his kind. He wants you dead.”

“Well, didn’t Jesus let the people back then kill him?”

”Yes, Harry, but he allowed himself to be sacrificed, so that we would not have to. Love does not require allowing people to hurt others or ourselves. We don’t return hurt for hurt, but we need not make ourselves victims. I have prayed for you every single day since your parents were killed: I’m not here to teach you to die, but to teach you to live. Understand?”

“I think so. So then I still will be fighting?”

“I wish it were not so, but yes. However, not to destroy, just to stop him.”

“That’s what Dumbledore did two years ago – Voldemort was surprised that Dumbledore was not fighting to kill him, but all he did was to stop him from killing me.”

“Yes, precisely, Dumbledore desires no one’s destruction. He is a more saintly man than he will admit to.”

“But he makes mistakes – he has with me,” said Harry sharply, remembering the pain of just over a year earlier after Sirius had died.

“Yes, he’s human. Perfection is not for us.”

End of Part 1

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Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #3  
Old October 19th, 2006, 12:37 am
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Part 2

“But,” said Harry, “the prophecy says I am the one with a chance to vanquish the Dark Lord. How can I do that if I do not try to destroy Voldemort?”

“I don’t know, Harry. Though I would not be the one to give up on anyone, I don’t think there’s much chance you’ll make a Christian out of him. I wish I knew what you are to do. I can hope that at some point our studies will lead to some fruition, but I have been sent to teach you to forgive and to love universally. The magic, like so many other things, is out of my hands. Let’s get back to what I am here to teach you about. You have a grudge against Dumbledore.”

“I don’t! I trust him, I look up to him, I …” said Harry.

“Love him?”

Harry nodded.

“Ah, yes, you say so, Harry, and I don’t doubt that you do, but when I described him as saintly, you got angry because he had made mistakes which wound up hurting you, right?” said Cameron. “That emotional response shows you still need to forgive him for what he did. It’s not that he tried to hurt you – you know that’s not so. But his mistakes did hurt you, and you need to forgive him – not for his sake, but for your peace of mind. The knowledge of the brain that he was doing his best has not yet made it to your heart. Can you discuss it with him?”

Harry looked down. “I think so.”

“Good. Hand me your mirror, please.”

Harry handed Reverend MacBoon the communicating mirror.

“Albus? Are you available?”

Dumbledore’s face appeared in the mirror. “Aah, Cameron, good to see you. Are things going well? It appears you haven’t been evicted yet.”

Cameron laughed. “No, but I thought he might when I told him the basic idea here. He thinks it’s a lot to ask.”

“Of course it is,” said Professor Dumbledore, “but he has already risen to challenges no other wizard could handle. I believe he can handle this as well. Do you need something?”

“As we were discussing matters, we determined that there is something he needs to discuss with you. I’ll hand the mirror to him now.”

Reverend MacBoon handed the mirror to Harry, who looked at him pleadingly, and said to him rather than the mirror, “What do I say?”

“Talk to him. Tell him about your resentment.”

“Professor Dumbledore?”

“Yes, Harry.”

“I’m still angry about the things we discussed after Sirius was killed. I didn’t know what to guard against because you failed to tell me.” Harry’s voice rose. “You didn’t think I could handle knowing the prophecy, and you didn’t even tell me about the sort of tricks I should watch out for.”

Then Harry started yelling, “You trusted Snape – EXCUSE ME, Professor Snape! – to teach me to protect my mind even though you knew he hated me for the things my father did! It was wrong and you weren’t supposed to make mistakes and it cost Sirius his life!”

Harry quieted down and added, “And I still feel responsible too, because I behaved foolishly as well.”

Harry hung his head and worked hard to keep from outwardly crying.

“Thank you, Harry,” said Professor Dumbledore.

“What?” said Harry, between sniffs.

“Thank you. It is a kindness for you to take another step to clear the air. I said then that you should be angry with me, but after I told you, you kept the anger inside. I want us to be able to rely on each other completely. I am afraid that only that will allow us to meet the challenges ahead. But in that reliance, we each must recognize that neither is perfect. I had treated you as too fragile. You had treated me as too wise. Learning that I was not perfect, and harboring that resentment, caused you to not fully trust me this past year.”

“But, I did everything you asked of me.”

“Yes, you did, Harry, and splendidly. But when you went further and took it upon yourself to relieve the attack on Gringotts, you did not think to notify me. I had to hear it from Fred Weasley instead. Or was it George? I would have been able to get useful information to you, such as my suspicions of Shacklebolt when he did not answer the general call for aurors.”

Harry thought. “As dire as things were then, I could have contacted you through a member of the Order. Even though Professor Weasley was occupied, Hagrid or someone else could have gotten a message to you. I thought you would stop me and I wanted to help the goblins. I believed you would again treat me as too weak. I’m sorry.”

“I understand, Harry. I forgive you,” said Professor Dumbledore.

“And I forgive you for misjudging me. There were mistakes enough to go around. How can I make it up to you?”

“There’s nothing to make up. Just continue with all your work on your studies and skills, and coaching the DA, and working with Reverend MacBoon; also can we not have these lapses of communication?”

“I guess we’d better not.”

“Oh, one more thing, Harry.”

“Yes, Professor.”

“When this whole business is over, and we don’t have to resort to these mirrors for mutual safety, can we spend some time together?”

“That would be splendid, Professor. I hope there’ll be such an opportunity.”

“Indeed. Is your scar okay?

“Nothing to tell.”

“Excellent. Good-bye, Harry – for now.”

“Good-bye, Professor.”

Harry put down the mirror and smiled inwardly.

“It feels good to clear the soul of resentment, doesn’t it, Harry?” said Reverend MacBoon.

“Yes, Cameron, it does.”

“Now it sounds like you have never done much Bible reading.”

“Uh, no – should I take it up?” asked Harry.

“Well, yes, but let me guide you,” said Cameron. “You see, as I was saying before, the Bible is a large and complex book, a collection of writings really, with lots of history, songs, tribal legends, sermons, parables and other writings. There are plenty of people who try to tell you that every single word is literally true, but there are parts that aren’t even internally consistent, such as genealogies and the parallel histories of the books known as Chronicles and Kings. You’d also have to believe that the value of pi – the ratio of the circumference and the diameter of a circle - is exactly 3, though it is easily demonstrated to be significantly greater than that. And don’t get me started on the whole creationism thing. Idolatry, even of the Bible, is wrong – only God is worthy of worship, and his essential nature is love.”

Cameron paused a few seconds and then went on. “And as I said before, parts can be taken out of context. Every few years, you hear about some person or group who call themselves Christian who take some statement of the Bible out of context and does something horrible, like playing with poisonous snakes or personally performing a circumcision on their sons.”

Harry shifted anxiously in his chair and pressed his legs together on hearing this. Cameron smiled sympathetically at Harry’s discomfort.

“If they read the whole Bible in context they would understand that this is the sign of the Old Covenant, which Jesus fulfilled and replaced with the New Covenant – at least for Christians. The New Testament says many places very specifically that Christians are not to circumcise for religious reasons. There are an awful lot of Christians who like the certainty and stricture of the rules under the Old Testament better than the forgiveness and challenge of living by love of the New Testament.

“But don’t get me wrong – the Bible is an invaluable resource if you understand what the parts of it are all about. I’ll tell you more about the Bible and the history that goes with it gradually over our visits: too much all at once can be bewildering. We are going to focus on teaching you universal love, Agape. It is sometimes also translated as ‘charity,’ but it doesn’t mean handouts to the needy. It means practicing benevolence, having a loving, forgiving nature – sometimes against your instincts -, which wishes and does only good for others – goodwill. I read a famous passage about love at your parents’ wedding. Would you like to hear it?

“At my parents’ wedding? Really? Of course,” said Harry enthusiastically.

“It goes like this:
‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal;
If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing;
If I give all I own to the poor, and sacrifice my body on an altar, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not boast: it is not proud.
Love is not rude or self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Where there are prophecies, they will cease.
Where there are tongues, they will be stilled.
Where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
But Love never fails.’”

Harry listened attentively, and then thought in silence.

Finally he spoke, “Wow, that’s like a poem. Do you believe all that?”

“Yes, Harry, I do, and I try to live by it. I’m not perfect, but I try to become better each day at living my life by love. And I hope you meant it when you said you wanted to work toward that yourself.”

“I have to be all of those things - patient, kind, not easily provoked, humble, hopeful, all that stuff?” asked Harry.

Cameron nodded.

“It’s a tall order. Sometimes I’m like that, but sometimes I’m not.”

“Of course, Harry. You’ve barely started to address moral choices. There is within every human a higher nature and a baser nature. We can embrace the good or the evil. Sometimes we are strong enough and wise enough to be the best, most loving people we can be, and sometimes we are weak and deluded. There is ever a war in our souls over what type of person we shall be. Many people never try to fight it. And as I have said, none are perfect. But there is good news about this: when we fail to be the person we know we ought to be, we can seek God’s forgiveness, and if we are sincere in regretting our mistakes and seeking to set them right and go on with a pure heart, then we are as new, as innocent as a newborn baby, though hopefully wiser.”

“And peace will come?”

“And peace will come,” Cameron reassured. “Okay, now I’ve told you a bit about love. Let’s take another step on forgiveness. Let’s clear the air with someone you like – how about Remus?”

“He’s a great guy. What of him?”

“I want you to explore in your own heart whether there are any things you may have done to him for which you need forgiveness, or any resentments you may bear against him that you need to forgive.”

“Well, okay, but if we’re going to do this with everyone I know, it’s going to take a while,” said Harry.

“No, we won’t do this for everyone, just for many of your more significant relationships. I want you to get in the habit of sorting out your reactions in various situations. Where you harbor resentment or anger, you will learn to forgive. Where you can, you’ll learn to seek forgiveness – it’s a part of forgiving yourself.”

“What’s this about forgiving myself?” asked Harry.

“Have you never done anything wrong, or been angry with yourself whether you were wrong or not?” asked Reverend MacBoon.

Harry thought sadly of the times he had acted rashly or foolishly, had made stupid mistakes, had gotten angry when he knew he shouldn’t. “Yeah, I reckon it’d be hard to count all the times.”

Cameron smiled benignly. “We are learning about universal love. That is love for everyone – being charitable toward all. That includes you, Harry. You deserve that love as well, but you may not realize it yet. Albus tells me you have visions of loved ones dying.”

“Yes, sometimes just hurt, more often already dead,” Harry said grimly.

“Do you still have those visions?”

“Most of the time – it’s like a few frames inserted into a muggle movie, but it’s long enough for me to know what it’s about.”

“Albus said that he’s never heard you saying that you saw yourself in any of the visions,” said Cameron

“I vaguely remember him mentioning that to Hermione Granger when we were in Egypt. She agreed with him. They’re right. I haven’t told them of any, because I haven’t seen myself dead. I just figured that it was because if I were to die, that it would be all over for me anyway,” said Harry.

“Maybe, but I want you to consider that maybe it’s because you don’t really count yourself among those you love, that you don’t consider yourself worthy of love. After all, during your entire upbringing, you were told how bad and worthless you were. You were forced to live in the cupboard under the stair. I took a look there as we passed by – it’d be fun for a child to play in, but it’s an awful place to live,” said Cameron.

“Even Dobby, the house elf, or rather, he’s a goblin, but, well, it’s a long story. Anyway, even he said it was too nasty to live in,” said Harry.

“Then you suddenly were thrust into the wonderful but quite surreal magical world, correct?”

“Yeah - it’s often seemed like a dream, more often lately a nightmare,” said Harry.

“And you have often taken great risks and otherwise behaved rashly, as if your own life did not matter?” continued Reverend MacBoon.

Harry agreed reluctantly. “Yes. Yes, I have.”

“These are signs of someone who may not actually love himself, who was filled with the negative ideas he grew up with so that even when circumstances change, he cannot accept that he is worthy of love. You will learn to forgive others, as well as yourself, so that you can learn to love everyone, including yourself,” said Cameron.

“And my reward will be to see visions of my own death, eh?” said Harry with a smirk.

Cameron laughed. “Smart aleck!” Then he continued more seriously. “Listen, it seems as though at some point you will have to face Voldemort, and he will try to kill you, and I want there to be no doubt in your mind that this would be a bad thing.”

“I don’t WANT to die!” said Harry strongly.

“I’m sure you don’t, not in your conscious thoughts, but your actions suggest someone who is not so sure he deserves to live. We all deserve to live and to live well. You are worthy of life and love. We’re going to assess all your actions and relationships, as well as we can, and in the end, I think you will understand and come to love all beings, including yourself. Now to Remus – you first met him when he was your professor, when Sirius was thought to be an escaped mass murderer and the betrayer of your parents, right?”

“Yeah, he started almost four years ago, and had to leave at the end of my third year when it came out that he’s a werewolf. Parents weren’t too happy with that, and he was angry with himself for failing to take his potion the last full moon he was there.”

“How about you – were you angry about that?”

“I guess some – he’s a great teacher. I’ve really only had 2 good Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers. Well, three if you count Barty Crouch, Jr., when he posed as Professor Moody – he was very effective as a teacher, but he was a Death Eater. No wonder he knew Dark Arts so well! I would have rather that Remus had stayed on: if he had taken his potion, he would still be teaching.”

“That’s fair enough. You know he didn’t do it to hurt you or other students or himself, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I reckon. But it was a big disappointment.”

“Of course. Anything else?”

Harry thought hard, composed his thoughts, and then said, “He knew Sirius was out there, and the close relationship he and Sirius and my Dad had, and he didn’t fill me in on it. I’ve been pretty bad about asking questions about my parents and my past, but I had no way of even knowing there was such a relationship to ask about. Even when he told me he knew my parents, he seemed to hold back a lot.”

“Maybe that’s because of the pain it caused him to think how his friends died, and that one was believed to have betrayed them?” suggested Cameron.

“Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it that way. He actually knew my Mum and Dad; I barely have any memories of them at all. And he lost not only them, but also his friends Sirius and Peter in the same incident. It must have been awful for him. So is it wrong of me to have been upset about what he didn’t tell me?”

“No, of course not. We will have situations that upset us, but we can still have sympathy and love for the person involved. And now that you understand it, you can let it go. You can see that he was doing the best he could, given his involvement and relationships.”

Harry thought. “Yeah. I do see. I was hurt by the information not being given, but he didn’t do anything bad. He was hurting inside, too. I feel like such an idiot for carrying that in me so long.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself: nobody’s ever shown you how to get it out, or even to recognize it. Now let’s consider if you’ve done things which hurt Remus.”

Harry thought back over the past four years, particularly the year Lupin was a teacher. After several minutes, he put his hand over his mouth and got a sad, pained look in his eyes. Cameron reached over and put a hand on Harry’s shoulder and began to rub it.

“Go ahead and tell me about it.”

“I was really a brat toward him that year. I lied about things, and took advantage of his affection for my father and me. I let him get me out of scrapes that I caused by being so darned stubborn about doing whatever I wanted. He finally lost patience with me, and gave me a scolding I’ll never forget - not loud or anything, but it cut me to my core, because it was spot on.”

“Good, Harry. Are you grateful to him for doing that?”

“Now that I think of it – yeah. I’ve made other mistakes since then, but not like that.”

“Let’s talk to Remus about it.”

They called Lupin on the communicating mirror and talked through both the things Harry had been angry about and the things Harry regretted. They talked through the details, and how they had each felt, and why they did as they did. In the end, Harry asked Lupin for forgiveness.

Remus smiled.

“Well, if you want to hear the words, Harry, I’ll say them. You’re forgiven. In my heart, I had forgiven you long ago. You were thirteen, feeling isolated and put-upon, and you didn’t know what was going on. I wouldn’t hold that against you. I’m pleased and proud of all that you say you learned from me – both in and out of classes.”

“I’m also sorry about falling for the trick that led to Sirius’ death.”

“Harry, it hurts to have lost Sirius, but I don’t blame you at all. You didn’t understand the nature of your visions.”

“Remus, I …” Harry trailed off, barely mumbling.

“It’s okay, Harry. We aren’t used to saying such things openly. I love you, too. There are circumstances where you can’t well say it, but this isn’t one of them.”

“Okay, Remus, I love you.”

“If that does it, then I’ve got to go. See you, Harry, Cameron.”

“Bye,” answered Harry.

Cameron smiled at him, “Now how do you feel?”

“It hurts, and I feel good – and stronger, healthy.”

“Excellent – that’s just what we’re looking for. That’s a good start. I’ll bet you feel both sore and good after a vigorous workout as well. It’s the same idea – we’re working on the moral muscle now. Let’s see. It’s Wednesday. How about if we meet again Friday afternoon - at Arabella’s house? I’ll be staying there this summer.”

“At Mrs. Figg’s? Sure. I like it there, now that she doesn’t feel like she has to make it miserable.”

“Good. We’ll learn more about universal love, then. We’ll also work more on understanding the things that make people hurt others and on learning to forgive and care about them without restraint. Till then, think about the things we’ve discussed and your experiences clearing the air with Albus and Remus. That was but a tiny bite at the apple you’ll need to chew, okay?”

“I’ll be there, ready to work.”

Feedback? - http://cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=96684


__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #4  
Old October 21st, 2006, 2:20 am
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 3 – Orders to Kill
That evening during Harry’s sparring with Dudley, he suddenly felt an enormous pain in his scar. He held up his hands to stop Dudley in mid-swing, but Dudley couldn’t get stopped in time. Harry was knocked over and he lay on the canvas clutching his scar.

“Dudders, what happened?” called Vernon. “You didn’t hit him that hard!”

“I don’t know, Dad. He closed his eyes and tried to wave me off, but I could only pull the punch. Harry, what’s the matter?”

By now Harry had rolled so that he was sitting up and his relatives had squatted next to him. Harry continued to squint and hold his scar.

“It’s not you, Dudley. My scar – he’s having someone killed. It’s someone in Brighton, at a retirement home. Can anyone see us?”

They looked around. “Looks like the manager is doing a walk-through,” said Uncle Vernon.

“Okay, I have to talk to Dumbledore. I’ll be right back.” Harry grabbed his wands from his gym bag in his corner and apparated to his room. He grabbed the communicating mirror and called for Professor Dumbledore. Getting no response he called for Lupin.

“What is it, Harry?” asked Lupin. “You sound upset.”

“My scar is hurting. Voldemort is excited about ordering someone killed. It’s someone at Seaside Village Retirement Community in Brighton.. The name is Lancombe. I think it’s somebody who used to be at the orphanage where Tom Riddle was raised.”

“Do you know how many are going or when it’s going to happen?”

“I think just one, but I don’t know when. He’s just given the order a few minutes ago.”

“Alright, Harry, we’ll see if we can’t head them off.”

“Make sure Mr. Weasley knows my apparition to get to the mirror was an emergency, okay?”

“Sure, Harry, I don’t think there would be a problem with it being done for a cause like this, but I’ll get a message to him. As acting Minister of Magic, he’ll be able to scotch any inquiry without a hearing.”

Remus left and Harry apparated back to the Rec. Center locker room, then came out to the boxing ring to meet with his Uncle Vernon and cousin Dudley.

“What in blazes was all that about?” asked Uncle Vernon.

“It’s a little hard to explain, but I’ll try. When Voldemort tried to kill me as a baby, I got this scar, and a link was formed between the two of us. When he came back to Britain, I could sense through pains in the scar when he was nearby, and particularly when he was excited. In the past couple of years, since he has gotten a body, it has gotten stronger. Two years ago he learned how to give me visions by focusing intensely on what he wanted me to see. Last year, I learned to tell the sense of his thoughts even when he wasn’t trying to share them, but I couldn’t tell any details. Now I’m starting to pick up details when he is doing something that excites him, like ordering the killing of someone.”

Vernon and Dudley looked at him like he was explaining the more esoteric points of quantum physics. Dudley finally said “So you’re saying you can read minds?”

“Well, that’s legilemency. I usually have to be able to look into a person’s eyes for that. That’s one of the skills he transferred to me when he tried to kill me. But that usually gives only moods, snippets of memories, attitudes, that sort of thing, not detailed thoughts and facts. The link through the scar is starting to give details. In fact, that’s how I became good at legilemency – the knowledge and techniques just came from his mind into mine. I try not to use it, although I have to admit I can’t control it very well yet. The only techniques I’ve gotten from him are use of it, not shutting it down. That’s why I haven’t been looking you in the eyes much lately, so that I wouldn’t accidentally use it on any of you Dursleys.”

“It’s nice to hear that you’re making that effort, Potter, but it still makes me want to wear very dark glasses around you,” said Vernon. “So, again, what just happened? You said he had ordered that someone be killed.”

“Yes, and I called friends of mine to try to send out people to keep that person from being killed.”

“Was it – one of your kind?”

“The person I called was Professor Lupin, but if you mean the person who was being targeted, then no, she was not magical.”

Uncle Vernon grunted a sigh and pursued his lips. “Well, we’re about out of our hour here. Let’s get cleaned up and head home.”

“Are you okay with … what I’ve just told you?” asked Harry.

His uncle stopped and turned toward Harry. “Okay with it!? OKAY with it!?” repeated Vernon, “Of course, I’m not ‘okay’ with it! It scares me silly! The whole … you know … scares me silly! Some people have powers that they can use to hurt others, and we’ve got to just hope they either ignore us or that some other people with those powers will stick their necks out to protect us! I like a life that’s reasonably safe and secure and regular. I want to live in my nice, safe suburban home, with my nice, safe suburban family, and make and sell drills – that’s a peachy life by me! Knowing about all this stuff makes me feel like I’ve been playing football in a minefield, just lucky so far to miss the mines. And unless I’ve misunderstood things, you’re basically a walking bull’s-eye for the nastiest blokes your sort has. No, I’m not okay with it!”

Vernon was glaring at Harry as he spoke, and the intensity of the rant forced Harry’s legilemency to assess his emotions, and Harry saw that this was the real, honest terror that his uncle had been feeling of magic ever since Harry came to the Dursley home. But Harry sensed something else – pride, and affection.

“But,” continued Vernon, after letting that settle with both himself and Harry, “we’re not going to behave cowardly and turn you out. I wasn’t keen on taking you in, and I’ve been tempted before to send you off. Maybe I’ve grown a bit m’self, but as I see it, we’re in it too far now, and we’re not going to abandon you. You’re with us and you’ll stay with us until your responsibilities take you elsewhere.”

Harry sensed that this, too, was genuine, particularly Uncle Vernon’s realization that this determination and loyalty was a newly found quality. “Thanks, Uncle Vernon. That means a lot to me.”

“Let’s go get showered, Harry,” said Dudley, clapping him on the back. “And can you tell me how you disappeared like you did a while ago. That was really cool!”

That night Harry couldn’t get the thoughts of the ordered killing in Brighton off his mind. He tried to focus on other things – his loved ones, the talk with Reverend MacBoon and then with Remus, even his lessons – but the thought of the killing kept intruding. He tried to get to sleep and was fitful. When he finally dropped off he started to dream.

He saw himself addressing someone, a witch or wizard on bent knee, bowing before him. Harry knew it was a sorcerer, hooded and cloaked as the Death Eaters in the cemetery had been. Harry felt exultation at having found this old lady in Brighton; he heard himself giving detailed instructions of horrible things to be done to her. The instructions which Harry heard involved cruelty beyond words, and Harry felt great delight in the giving of them. Then Harry heard the final orders: “And when the spirit is broken, then the life should be ended.”

“I will please you, my Lord,” said the hooded figure, whose voice could not be identified, not even so much as whether it was a man or a woman. But the pleasure in accepting these orders was evident in the tone: whether it was in being trusted to perform such a service or the opportunity to treat a person so brutally was not clear.

Harry next envisioned the victim, but the image kept shifting. Initially it was of a small, thin, frail old woman. She was not strong and unbent, like Professor McGonagall, nor even slowed but still vigorous like Mrs. Figg, but truly a feeble old lady. Then the image shifted and changed: the years reversed and the old woman became much younger, about Tonks’ age, and she reminded Harry of his own first grade teacher at the local muggle school. As Harry was reminded of that teacher and how kind and sweet and gentle she was with him, seeing he was protected from the bullies of the school, the dream began to fade.

Suddenly Harry was disturbed in his sleep by a terrible scream. He was aware it was in his dream, but he couldn’t turn it off. Whenever it seemed to fade, it would be renewed again with fresh urgency, filled with terror and hatred. Harry felt frozen as he listened. Then he realized he felt a sense of pleasure coming over him on hearing these screams, a horrible satisfaction like a warm bath after being too long in the snow or …worse: part of Harry’s mind shuddered as he realized the sense was similar to that he felt when he dreamed of being with a girl. Harry felt like he was watching this hideous emotion occurring, while at the same time knowing that the sense was occurring within him.

Harry wanted to wake from the dream, to end the horror of it. He had had enough dreams of grisly and awful things happening that he could endure that. But the sense of pleasure and satisfaction in the terror of the victim made him ill. And yet part of his mind registered being thrilled.

After several very long minutes, Harry was able to redirect his mind to drive out the evil. He searched for a strong thought of healthy pleasures. He forced himself to think of apparating and of flying brooms and playing quidditch. Not strong enough. He started thinking about Hogwarts, looking for a strong enough thought. He thought of his first Christmas there: it helped, but it wasn’t intense enough. He thought of protecting the Philosopher’s Stone at the end of his first year, but he had mostly felt terror from that, so the horrid vision of the torture and pleasure returned. He remembered the rescue of Sirius, but the bitterness of Sirius’s death tainted the memory. Similarly, his memories of his brief romance with Marietta Edgecombe a few months earlier was tainted both by her dumping him and even more so be her death at the battle at Gringotts.

Finally he thought of seeing Ginny’s apparently lifeless body awakening in the Chamber of Secrets and his relief and joy at that moment; finally, with that, the hideous vision of the old woman and the satisfaction at her dread and pain began to recede from his mind. Harry directed his mind to examine all the good that had come from Ginny’s awakening – her parents’ relief and joy when he and Ron returned with her, the good times that had included Ginny, her coming with him to the Department of Mysteries, her work in the DA, playing quidditch with her. All these thoughts filled him with warmth and kept the horror at bay; the thoughts allowed Harry to resume sleep in peace.

The next morning after his run, Harry had returned to his room when he heard his voice being called from his desk drawer. He opened it up and took out the communicating mirror, by which Dumbledore was calling him.

"Professor," said Harry, "Good to see you, but what happened in Brighton?"

"We were too late, Harry," said Professor Dumbledore sadly. "Remus had to assemble an adequate team to safely go there, and they were just in time to see Voldemort's agent leaving - not a Death Eater, but a witch who is in his service. She had just sent up the Dark Mark. Then she disapparated."

"So Ms. Lancombe was killed?"

"Yes. And Harry - apparently she was tortured before she was killed. She was under the Silencio Charm and there were signs of the use of Cruciatus on her. She was 89 years old."

"That's ... That's just sick! That's very old for a muggle, you know. She was probably very weak. Why would anyone either torture or kill her? She can't have been a threat in a retirement home."

"The only offense she committed was being an assistant at the orphanage where Tom Riddle was raised. I suspect he has decided to eliminate anyone who might recall his origins. I don't know why he would care now."

"I may know, Professor. I remember at the Department of Mysteries last year, I told Bellatrix LeStrange that he was half-blood. She went into an insane rage at my saying so. Perhaps it's come out that I said so, and he has decided to remove anyone who could confirm the muggle part of his origins.”

"That may well be it, Harry. It could also simply be the continued expression of his hatred for his muggle origins. I am also concerned though about your means of learning about it."

"He was feeling great pleasure over ordering it – that always increases the information I get. At least this didn't turn out to be a hoax like when he tricked me into coming to the Department of Mysteries. I had thought about going to Brighton myself, and didn't out of concern it might be a trap."

"Excellent thinking and very healthy caution, Harry. It would be like Voldemort to play on your desire to protect others. My concern, though, is that you may be getting too much information. Two years ago, it was rather vague unless he was focused very intently. Last year it became more detailed, but it was still a matter of overall impressions. Now it is quite detailed, down to specific names and places. I'm worried that the separation between the two minds may be breaking down."

"You mean, our minds could join, just merge together? How could that be?"

"We have known since at least your first year at Hogwarts that the use of the Killing Curse involved creating some sort of connection between you two. I believe that this occurs whenever the Killing Curse is used. Of course, it is not an easy thing to test. There aren't many volunteers to participate, and you are the only known survivor. Nonetheless I believe that in some sense the souls connect and the killer extracts the life and soul of the victim."

"Like a vampire!?"

"Like a combination of vampire and dementor's kiss. If I am right, then the failed curse has not expired, but has locked the two of you together, bound in a struggle over whose will will overpower the other’s – his will to kill versus your will to live," said Dumbledore grimly.

Then Harry quoted the Prophecy, " - And neither shall live while the other survives." Dumbledore nodded and Harry continued, "So neither of us fully owns his own soul until - what?"

"Possibly not until one of you dies, but we’ll be looking for other ways to break the connection. Remember we have very little to go on. It's unlikely we will have any chance to find out. We'll just have to do everything we can to make sure that it's not your death that breaks it."

"Well, that's my goal."

"Every day you get stronger is a day that the odds get better. Harry, I am concerned about this killing. This is the first use of the Dark Mark since Voldemort returned. Its significance will not be lost on the magical world. There are bound to be others. You may be able to give us enough notice to save some lives."

"You know I'll do what I can. What should I do?"

"Pay attention to what your scar is telling you. Keep the mirror with you at all times. Either Remus or I will be available whenever you need to call us and will be able to send out a team in a few minutes. We may be able to catch some of Voldemort's servants, even. But there is a downside."

"He may realize that I'm monitoring his mind and play tricks on me again,” said Harry grimly.

Dumbledore nodded, "Yes, that, and I'm afraid that the more the two of you try to invade each others' minds the more the barrier between the two will be eroded. You must work on protecting your mind from him. You are still practicing your occlumency, aren’t you?"

"Yes, of course, Professor, although it hasn’t seemed to have done any good. However, as we discussed at Gringotts a few weeks ago, I know I can bar him from my mind with strong thoughts of those I love. I think I may have used that last night even."

“What? He was in your mind?”

“Possibly.” Then Harry told Dumbledore everything he recalled about the dream, and how focusing on Ginny drove the evil thoughts from his mind.

“I think you’re right – that does not sound like an ordinary dream. And it can’t be remote viewing because Mrs. Lancombe did not scream – the Silencio had been used on her so she could be tortured without interruption. This had to have been from Voldemort’s mind.”

“That’s what occurred to me during my run, but what I would like to know is if I’m picking up his fantasies or is he projecting such foul emotions into my mind?”

"Well, be keenly attuned to any invasions of your mind, Harry. It would not be worth saving any of those lives if we lose the one person who can stop Voldemort."

"But if we let him pick off people one by one, we'll have no one left to carry on the fight."

"True, Harry, true. Most of our active allies are either at Hogwarts or other secure locations, but that leaves vulnerable a lot of others who cannot so hide. So while no war is fought without risks, let's not be foolhardy."

"No, Professor, I've learned that lesson."

"Good, Harry. But let me be very clear on this - you are not to go on any rescue missions. If there is a killing afoot, let Remus or I know to send out fighters. We need you to fight the war within your mind, not out there."

"Yes, Professor, but what if …”

“No ‘buts,’ Harry. We can’t afford to lose you.”

end chapter


__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #5  
Old October 24th, 2006, 12:48 am
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 4 - Cats


“Potter! Potter!”

That evening, Harry was just finishing pruning the hedge when he heard his uncle calling for him. Harry went in and found his aunt and uncle in the parlor watching telly. Dudley arrived from the back yard.

“Potter – you know anything about that?” said his uncle, pointing at the telly, “Looks like your kind’s work.”

Sure enough, the news report was showing the Dark Mark over Brighton from the night before: it was being reported as a kind of fireworks. Harry nodded recognition and then came behind his aunt’s chair to watch the report. It was noted that the sign had last been seen in connection with a mysterious series of killings which ceased fifteen years earlier. However the news report did not connect it with any deaths. There are too many deaths daily in a city the size of Brighton for the muggle authorities to make any connections and it was simply not that noteworthy that an 89-year-old woman in a retirement home passed on, unless you knew, as Harry did, what brought about her death.

“I’d rather think of my kind as being those who oppose such things, rather than those who cause them, but I know whom you mean. Yes, it’s the sign Voldemort and his followers use to announce their killings. They killed an old lady at a retirement home last night.”

“What for?” asked Petunia, “Was she a … a …witch?”

“No. I asked Professor Dumbledore why - we don’t know for sure. She knew Voldemort as a boy in a non-magical orphanage, so we think that’s why she was killed. But we’re not sure why it was considered so important. But we’re very sure it’s not going to be an isolated event.”

“That’s what you left the Rec. Center about yesterday. Are you going to know of other killings before they happen?” asked Vernon.

“Probably, if they are ordered by Voldemort. Some of his followers will kill on their own, but most won’t do a thing they aren’t told to.”

“What should we do? Can we help?” asked his uncle.

Harry was amazed. Not only had his uncle accepted Harry and his magical activities, now he was offering to assist in the war against Voldemort.

“Providing a safe home for me is the number one thing. But also, if I get scar pains or otherwise need to get away when there are people around who don’t know about magic – and I’m thinking particularly of Aunt Marge – then please help make excuses that will allow me to.”

Aunt Petunia suggested, “How about if we send you to your room as a ‘punishment?’ You can use a code word, like ‘wireless,’ to let us know you need to get away, and we’ll make up some awful thing you’ve done and say you’re being sent to your room for it.”

“Excellent,” said Harry.

“Aah, and if Marge objects that you need to be lectured first, we’ll say that the detention counselor at St. Brutus’s insists on the punishments being kept according to schedule,” said Vernon.

“You’ve done this sort of thing before,” laughed Harry.

“Sort of. With business entertaining we set up all sorts of code words to make sure everything goes right to close the deal,” said Vernon, then adding with an arched eyebrow. “That is, if there isn’t any mishap with the desserts.”

“I swear that wasn’t me!”

“We know, Potter, we know,” said Vernon with a smirk.

Harry arrived at Mrs. Figg's house the next day to find Cameron, Mrs. Figg and Tonks eating lunch.

"Ah, there you are, Harry. Good to see you again," greeted Cameron.

"Oh, Harry, you’re flushed. Can I get you some chilled herbal tea?" asked Arabella Figg.

"Um, is it just tea? Or a potion," Harry asked.

Tonks laughed. "I'll have to tell Moody - he'll be thrilled that you're getting more cautious." She tweaked him in the side.

"Can't imagine why I'd be paranoid, eh? How about you, Tonks? Are you just here because you like cats or are you checking up on me?" Harry asked, glaring penetratingly at her.

"Ooh, Harry Potter thinks everyone in the world is watching him - he's so important, he's so darling; he's so handsome," she teased.

"You're covering up," he said knowingly.

"Blast!" exclaimed Tonks. "I'm going to have to improve my occlumency to be around you, Potter. They let me slide on a few things like that because of being a metamorphmagus. Right then. There are very few coincidental meetings concerning you and anyone from the Order. You'd be even more suspicious if we weren't watching."

Harry smiled smugly.

Mrs. Figg handed him a glass of tea. “It’s just tea, dear.”

"Thanks," said Harry to Mrs. Figg, and then turning back to Tonks, added, "and thanks to you, too, Tonks."

"For what? I'm just doing my job"

"When you said I was handsome, you were saying what you thought, trying to cover what you didn't want to say by saying something irrelevant but distracting."

Tonks squinted angrily at him. "Ooh, Potter! If you ever want a relationship with a girl, you'd better put that legilemency out of your mind. People don't like being read like that!"

The others laughed at her frustration as her cheeks turned bright red.

"I hear you've been doing some other mind-reading as well," said Cameron, becoming more serious. "Tonks told us about her trip out to Brighton."

"Oh, I didn’t know you had gone on that, Tonks," said Harry. "But Cameron, you knew about Brighton before she told you."

"Okay, you got me – Remus told me about it after he called in aurors. Are you even capable of turning that legilemency off, Harry?" asked Cameron.

"Not really. I don't have full control yet. I haven't really trained, but picked up the techniques through Voldemort's mind. I couldn't control that either. His way has been to do it pretty much all the time. To him it’s simply another sense, like hearing or sight, always on except when he’s asleep. Now that I’ve picked up the skill, I need to learn how to close my legilemency eyes. I actually am working on learning to shut it off."

“Can’t be too soon,” grumbled Tonks.

"Yeah, Harry,” said Cameron. “With most people, you had best keep it to yourself."

"I know. But you were trying to be too breezy about the situation, so I had to call you on it."

"And what about me?" said Tonks.

"It's just fun to rile you," Harry said laughing.

“You’ve had to call Dumbledore a couple more times since then about attacks,” noted Cameron.

“Yeah, only one person was saved, though,” said Harry sadly.

“But, Harry,” said Mrs. Figg, laying a hand gently on his arm, “It’s one more than would be alive if you hadn’t responded.”

"So what about it, Harry? We know you’re getting details, but how is it affecting you?" asked Cameron.

Harry sighed. "Lots of ways. Of course my scar hurts when it happens, I'm pretty tired of that. I also am not just aware of his moods, but experience them, too, at least when they are strong. He gets a big thrill when he orders someone killed, kind of like, um ..."

"What, Harry, is it that hard to say?" coaxed Cameron.

"It's just disgusting actually! It's the same sort of feeling I get when I see a pretty girl and, erm, let my mind wander."

Tonks and Mrs. Figg both flinched and gasped in revulsion. Then Mrs. Figg comforted him. "We’re reacting to his feelings about killing, not your thoughts, Harry. Those feelings about girls are normal and healthy. With all you've been through, it's a relief that you even have those normal teenage boy feelings."

"Oy, Arabella!" said Cameron with a laugh. "It's not just teens who have those feelings."

"Cameron, you're a man of the cloth!" teased Tonks.

"Yeah. So what! I've taken no vow of celibacy. Sex is a gift of God, to be exercised responsibly like any other gift He gives," explained Cameron.

"Oh, yeah," said Tonks. "I may have to show up at your chapel in the future."

"Tonks, how you talk!" said Mrs. Figg. "I thought you had your eye on Remus!"

"Oh, I could go for him alright, but he won't get involved because of the werewolf thing. Imagine a little detail like that keeping him from getting on with life."

"Erm, we're here to help Harry," said Cameron, "maybe I should take him into the parlor - to speak privately."

"Alright, alright, just stay put," said Mrs. Figg. "Tonks, why don't you help me out in the garden?" Tonks agreed and they left through the back door.

Cameron began again "Okay, Harry, let's talk some more about forgiveness. Tell me some people you have resentments against."

"Well, of course, there's Voldemort and all his followers, Draco Malfoy, some of the other Slytherins, uh Professor Snape, Delores Umbridge, Aunt Marge."

Cameron interrupted, "That's the aunt you inflated 4 years ago, isn't it?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Yeah, and she's coming to visit next week and staying for a month!"

"Excellent!" exclaimed Cameron.

"You have a strange sense of the good things in life."

"Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't revel in your discomfort, Harry. But you disliked her enough to do some major uncontrolled wandless magic, and you obviously still have very strong feelings against her. You're going to learn to love her."

Harry glared at Reverend MacBoon, and snarled, "Love her!? I'd love to see her roasting on a spit! Or better yet, just to never see her again."

Cameron smiled. "Wonderful! This is just what you need to learn to deal with. You misunderstand what I am asking of you. Universal love does not require you to like her. I am also not asking you to feel affection for her. And most assuredly I am not asking you to feel amorous toward her."

Harry flinched and grimaced at this last suggestion, and Reverend MacBoon smiled.

"It's nice when you can like or feel affection toward someone. But you can love someone in the way you are learning no matter how unlovable they are. You can consciously choose to fill your mind toward that person with the attributes of Christian love - forgiveness, patience, charity, sympathy. First you have to work on empathy - that is, learning how it is that they came to be the person they are, doing the things they are, feeling and thinking the way they do. From that comes sympathy, and then other attributes. And you can do so without liking that person at all."

"Really?" asked Harry incredulously.

"Harry, when you were learning to conjure a patronus, were you feeling happy?"

"Heck, no! I was hearing my parents pleading with Voldemort as he was about to kill them. I don't reckon you can be any farther from happy than listening to that!"

"Exactly, Harry, and yet you learned to force your mind to think the happiest of thoughts even when it was filled with the most awful of thoughts. And you can learn to think the most loving of thoughts about the most unlovable of people while they are doing the most hateful of things. It's an act of will, choosing an attitude of love, and forcing yourself to think only lovingly toward that person."

"And that will make that person better?"

"I can't say what it will do for anyone else. It will make you better, Harry. When you choose to love others, you lose your anger, impatience, resentment, even hatred for that person."

"Wow. In my occlumency training I have been learning to push the negative feelings away. Now I'm going to learn to eliminate them?"

"That's the goal. For right now, let's work on some deeper resentments than you had with Remus. Let's start with Arabella."

"Mrs. Figg? But I like her – a little spacey but she's great," said Harry.

"Yeah, she's one of my favorite kin, but she hasn't always been great toward you, has she?"

"No, she hasn't." Harry thought back to before he went to Hogwarts. "It used to be excruciating when she would babysit me before I learned I'm a wizard. There was just nothing to do. The house smelled ten times worse than it does now. I don't think she even changed the cats' litter during that whole time. And she didn't air out the kitchen from making potions - I didn't know that was the source of the smells, of course, I just knew it stunk like old cabbage and rotten eggs."

"It must have been awful, Harry."

"And those photobooks of her cats," groaned Harry.

"What's wrong with the cats!?" said Cameron. Then shaking his head he added, "Oh, yeah. Forgive me. Squibs just have a special affinity for cats and kneazles. No one can explain it, and sometimes we forget that others don't feel the same. You've probably bored the pants off someone with talk about quidditch or something, too. (Harry thought to times Hermione had endured him and Ron with their quidditch strategy sessions). Well, anyway, let's call Arabella in and you two can talk about the situation.”

Reverend MacBoon called Mrs. Figg in from the garden. He waved at Tonks not to come in.

“Hey, it’s hot out here,” she complained.

Cameron grabbed one of his cousin’s enormous gardening hats and tossed it like a Frisbee to Tonks, “Here, wear this. It really will help. Act like you’re gardening while you skulk. We won’t be too awfully long.”

Harry and Mrs. Figg sat at the kitchen table to talk about those miserable visits years ago. He was surprised at how much resentment came welling up. More than once, Cameron had to put a hand on Harry’s arm to stop him and get him to take a minute to calm down.

“Harry,” said Mrs. Figg sadly and sympathetically. “Like I told you two years ago, I had to make the visits miserable enough that you’d tell the muggles you hated coming here. That kept them sending you. While you were here I was able to feed you better then they had, and get some strengthening potions into you. I am truly sorry if I overdid it. Would it help you to know that I cried after each visit, knowing how hard I had made it on you?”

Harry sniffed and said, “Well, actually, that does help some. But what was it with the pictures of the cats!?”

“I thought you liked that part!” said Mrs. Figg shocked. Then looking at Cameron, she asked, “Who wouldn’t want to look at pictures of cats?”

Cameron shrugged.

“But … the cats were right here!” exclaimed Harry, “Well, except the ones that had passed on, but who cares!? You see one cat you’ve seen them all!”

“Every cat has its own personality. I am shocked to think of a person not wanting to see pictures of cats. You look at pictures of your friends, don’t you?”

“But I’d only show the pictures to someone else if they knew the person too, or had a reason to look at them. And even then it’d be just a few. You have cat mealtime and cat playtime and cat weddings and cat births and cat funerals and cat birthdays and cat toga parties and cat costume parties and .. cats making kittens: I got more sex ed. here than I did at the Dursleys!”

“Well, that’s something good then,” Mrs. Figg said quietly hurt.

“Arabella,” said Cameron soothingly. “We forget that others don’t have our affection for cats.”

She looked at Harry. “You don’t like cats?”

“I like ‘em okay, I guess. You know, pet them awhile, play some, make sure they’re fed and watered and safe. But then I’d let them be.”

“I really did overdo it, then, didn’t I? I really thought the cats were the part that made it okay for you.”

“Other than the litterbox smell, I was pretty much okay with the cats themselves.”

“Did the litterboxes smell? I’m afraid I’ve been around cats and potions for so long I don’t notice much but the strongest of smells. Why didn’t you say something?”

Harry hung his head. “All I knew back then was to shut up and accept whatever happened. I mean I was still living in the cupboard under the stairs and doing all the yardwork around the house. I was told to make myself invisible and silent more times than I can count. I reckoned you’d just lock me in someplace dank and dark, like the Dursleys used to.”

“Oh, dear, dear, dear,” said Mrs. Figg. “I had no idea what a fright this place was for you. It’s a wonder you even talked to me, or haven’t come round to hex me.”

“I … I wouldn’t do that! Even before I knew you were a squib, I wouldn’t have wanted to do that. What’s the point in hurting someone, just because they did things long ago?”

“Good, Harry,” said Reverend MacBoon. “Now apply that to Voldemort and his followers.”

“But they weren’t just annoying! They’ve killed and tortured. They killed MY parents. They deserve to … to …”

Cameron quoted Harry quietly, “‘What’s the point in hurting someone, just because they did things long ago?’ You’re right that they did awful things and they need to be stopped from doing other awful things. They are much worse people than Arabella.”

“Ooh,” said Arabella sarcastically. “You’ll make me blush with such extravagant flattery.”

Cameron winked at her, then turned back to Harry. “You see, Harry, it’s only a matter of degree. With Arabella, you could put a stop to the miserable things she did to you by no longer visiting. And now that you can visit her without being so miserable, you’ve actually become fond of her. I’m not saying that you need to, or even should, become fond of the Death Eaters. But you can forgive them, from the depth of your heart, and choose to desire for them the best that might be.”

“What, just give them everything they want?”

“They want to hurt others – those others are just as deserving of love, so it is right to stop those who would hurt those others. Besides, think of it this way - did Arabella give you everything you ever reached for? Knives, or medicines, or other dangerous things? No, she loved you, even if you didn’t realize it. She kept you from harm, gave you things that were appropriate for you, and kept you from harming yourself. The course that the Death Eaters are on is harming themselves by eroding their souls. If they do all they want to do, they will be destroyed in doing so – if not outwardly, inwardly. For some, perhaps all of them, there is hope for the restoration of their decency and their spirits. But they must be stopped before they will listen and learn. It is an odd irony that in being the protector of the rest of us, you have the opportunity to be the great benefactor to the Death Eaters.”

“Really?”

“Yes, Harry. If I die right now, my conscience is clear and I am at peace. Use your legilemency and see if it’s not so. I’ve done the best I can and I have forgiveness for my mistakes. But they are tortured and diseased from within, miserable wretched beings. Their healing starts when they can no longer use the misery of others that they cause to distract from their own misery within.”

“You believe that,” observed Harry, looking intently into Cameron’s eyes. “Everything you said.” Harry thought a few seconds “One of them tortured that old lady two nights ago – silenced her, then tortured her, and finally killed her. They didn’t even need to torture her – it was just sport! And you are telling me to learn to love them. So I can help them. So they can be as serene as you or Dumbledore!”

“Harry, ‘to achieve peace, practice forgiveness and goodwill.’ Have you forgotten what we are learning?”

“Well, let’s just say that’s a lot to swallow right now.”

“Absolutely! That’s okay. It’s not easy to accept. But look how much resentment you had against Arabella, and now you have forgiven her and you love her. We’ll take more steps in that direction. I know you are out of town this weekend, so we’ll meet again on Monday, same time. We’ll work on forgiving and loving others, a little less terrible than Death Eaters. We’ll get a start on Aunt Marge, but from what I hear, that may take more than one session. That’s okay; remember, ‘love is patient.’”

“’Love hopes all things and believes all things.’ Gonna have to, if you think I can learn to love the Death Eaters.”

Cameron smiled. “You’re a very good student when you’re motivated. You’ll make it.”

Feedback? - http://cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=96684


__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #6  
Old October 31st, 2006, 12:11 am
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 5 - Fighting Back

That evening after boxing with Dudley, Harry was packing the things he would need for his weekend visit with Seamus Finnegan when his scar again began to hurt and burn. He jotted down the details he could and quickly used his mirror to tell Professor Dumbledore. This time the victim was to be in Dover. Dumbledore had promised to tell Harry what he could about the victim as soon as he could. After summoning a team of rescuers, Dumbledore came back to the mirror. Harry offered to make apologies to the Finnegans and stay at the Dursleys, but Dumbledore insisted he keep his plans.

“I want you spending time with as many people as possible. It is too easy for you to become isolated, and you need to cultivate friendships and loyalty as much as you can. Mrs. Finnegan is well-connected among the mothers of Hogwarts – her good word will calm many parents who might want to just hunker down now that the Dark Mark is appearing again.”

“Yes, sir. I understand. I’m sort of an ambassador for the Order as well.”

“You could say that, except of course you are not to mention the Order. But it’s so much more – you don’t merely represent. When we rally, we will be rallying around you. We need for as many as possible to see that, and for you to have faith in the wizarding world’s loyalty as well.”

“Alright, Professor. And considering how keen Mrs. Finnegan was on me a couple of years ago, I guess she’s a good one to try to win over.”

“You’ll be able to call Professor Lupin or me whenever you need to, although I’m hoping you won’t have cause.”

“Me, too, but that doesn’t seem to be the sense of what he’s thinking.”

“What else is there, Harry?”

“The desire to cause panic, to make us all suspicious of each other and isolate ourselves, to make the rest of us fall apart, so that we’ll be easier to defeat.”

“That’s his way, of course. That’s why we need to head them off as often as we can. The team I just summoned are aurors. We’ll have at least ten teams of aurors on call at any moment, just in case – several in London and the others around the rest of Britain, since even among aurors only a few can Apparate the distances needed to cover the whole country.”

“Good,” said Harry, reassured. “For now that seems adequate. Is the Order involved as well?”

“The Order has other missions, and we're short the help of the Weasleys.”

“They can’t have left the Order, can they? I would've thought I would have heard,” said Harry.

“No, I insisted. Arthur can do us far more good just being the sort of acting Minister of Magic we have needed all along. It was he who arranged for the aurors to respond to your warnings. I would rather he not know what the Order is doing, as his position will put him in touch with many wizards who are legilemens, and not all of them are to be trusted. He is excellent at resisting the Imperius Curse, but he has no training in occlumency. And Molly’s ‘assignment’ is to keep Arthur safe. We’ve moved them from The Burrow to the place you came to two summers ago, since it is safe. Just in case, I don't want to say the name. By the way, I’ll have something to tell you about that place, but I don’t think now is the time. The rest of the adult Weasleys assist on special assignments, but we are keeping them clear of the day-to-day activities of the Order, for security reasons. We’ve moved Order headquarters to another location, similarly safe, but which doesn’t have the security flaw we had before. We are also setting up a facility in a place with more space for training. You’ll be brought there later this summer.”

“It is so much better being included in the preparations than being shut out,” said Harry.

“Yes, Harry, I understand. And appreciate that I am telling you what I can, because you need to understand that even now I cannot tell you all the activities we undertake, and the time may come when we have to keep you completely in the dark. The more your connection with Voldemort grows, the more we must keep you from knowing anything we do not want him to know. You will have to trust that we are working for the best interests of you and everyone else.”

“Yes, Professor. So my assignment for now is …?”

“Keep training, keep us informed, keep working with Reverend MacBoon on universal love, and keep your visit with the Finnegans – they’re waiting for you.”

“Yes, Professor. Will do. Good-bye.”

“Good-bye, Harry.”

Then Harry packed the mirror into his weekend bag, sent Hedwig to Ginny and Ron with a letter he had written earlier - instructing Hedwig to stay until Sunday evening unless someone there needed to send a letter - and apparated to the Finnegans.

Harry apparated directly to Seamus Finnegan’s bedroom. Seamus was waiting for him.

“Excellent, Harry, you made it,” said Seamus. “Pinpoint landing: wish I could apparate like that. Set your stuff down, we’ll figure out which bed is yours later.”

Harry looked around and saw 2 sets of bunk beds, one with a trundle underneath it. “Does the whole family sleep here, Seamus?” he asked.

“Oh, of course, not, Harry,” replied Seamus with a wink. “Just the lads. I’m afraid some stereotypes have a grain of truth to them, and the Finnegans are a stereotypically large Irish family.”

“Except for the sorcery,” said Harry, grinning.

“Well, sure’n there’s that, o’course,” Seamus laughed.

Harry looked suspiciously at Seamus. “You’re more Irish here than at Hogwarts.”

“Anyone you’re with tends to rub off on you,” said Seamus. “Tis a good reason for keeping good company. I make a point of toning it down back at school, though, to fit in and be understood better, but when I’m back home, it’s like putting on a comfortable pair of sneakers to let the accent out. It’s almost like speaking a native language here and a second language at school. Let’s go down and see me Dad and Mum.”

Mrs. Finnegan was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Seamus made a gesture to Harry to keep quiet and they spied on her from the door for a few minutes. She wore an apron, liberally spotted with different foods, with attached oven mitts. Seamus pointed out that there was a thin pocket on the inside with the handle of a wand sticking out. Mostly she did things the muggle way, but then she peeped around the corner to the drawing room to make sure she was clear before using her wand to levitate an herb jar from a shelf she couldn’t reach.

“Ahh, there you go again, Mum, trying to live with one foot in each world.”

“Ooh, you startled me. Now, Seamus, you know being mostly around muggles, I only use the magic as needed. Harry, lad, come in and let me see you. Kind of scrawny for English – sure you don’t have some Irish wiriness in you?”

“I really don’t know where the different parts of my family come from, Mrs. Finnegan. Thank you for inviting me to visit.”

“Well, right, then, he’s polite. There’s a good start. You seem awfully clean for the Floo Network – how’d you get here?”

“He apparated, Mum. He’s a whiz at it.”

“Ah, so you were already here in Belfast, then?”

“Oh, no, Maam,” said Harry. “I just guided off of Seamus’s wand – I wasn’t even sure what part of Ireland I would be coming to.”

“Well, I guess strictly speaking, we’re only on the island, not really a part of Ireland, but let’s not go stirring up that pot with the other menfolk around here. It’s a sore subject, sure.”

“Yes, Maam,” replied Harry.

“So where did you apparate from then, Harry” asked Mrs. Finnegan.

“My uncle and aunt’s house in Surrey,” said Harry, like it was as simple as picking up a newspaper.

Mrs. Finnegan jolted and caught herself on a kitchen chair. “Across half the width of England and the Irish Channel, to boot?”

“I guess that’s about right, yes, Maam.”

“Just amazing. I’ve never gone more than ten or so miles at a time without splinching. And let me tell you, you don’t need to be splinched but a few times before you take all the care you need to not do it again. Our daughter Fiona is the best of us at it - though Seamus appears capable of passing her up in time if he’ll work at it - and she wouldn’t cross open water larger than a river like that.”

“May I ask how many Finnegans there are?”

Seamus spoke up. “I have three brothers – well, I had four – the oldest was killed in The Troubles – that’s what the fighting over Northern Ireland was called – when I was very young - and I have three sisters.”

“Wow,” said Harry, jealously. “I would have been thrilled to have had just one sister or brother.”

“There’s plenty of times I’ve felt just that way meself, Harry.”

“Seamus!” scolded his mother. “You know you love them all and you’d be heart-broken to lose a one of them.”

“You’re right, Mum, I was just joking a bit,” said Seamus, sheepishly, then turned back to Harry. “It’s just that until I went to Hogwarts, I had very little I could call my own, and even so, me magical gear is hand-me-down, except me wand, of course. Only my second oldest brother, Brian, and Fiona, my oldest sister, are sorcerers. They had graduated Hogwarts before you and I got there.”

“Hm, you and I are called half-bloods, so would your non-magical siblings be muggles or squibs?”

Mrs. Finnegans eyes blazed as she snapped, “They’d BE children of God, entrusted to this family’s love and care! And worth no less nor more for whatever talents they may or may not have!”

Harry felt ashamed. “Oh, of course, Maam. I’m very sorry. I was just curious – I guess I’ve just heard all the terms so much that I get used to classifying people myself. There are plenty of people both magical and not I value very highly It really doesn’t matter so long as a person is decent inside.”

“You’re forgiven, Harry. I suppose a mother in a mixed house tends to get a bit touchy about the subject.”

“There is one thing I’m curious about, and maybe you know. There are some things that wizards can see that muggles can’t, like Hogwarts or dementors. I know that squibs can see those things. How about your non-magical children?”

“They all see them, but so does Danny, me husband, and he’s born and raised muggle.”

“Really, how’s that?” asked Harry.

“You see, Harry, it’s not a matter of some special summat in you. It’s your eyes knowing how to see it. If a muggle walks up to Hogwarts alone, he doesn’t expect a castle there, and sees only the ruin. But if he approaches with a wizard, and the wizard walks up the steps, he knows there’s something there, and his eyes learn to see it. Because all my family has seen me and the others doing magic, they know how to see it and so they do. They can’t call the Knight Bus, because they can’t use a wand, but they’ve all seen it.”

“They liked to split a side laughin’ when they did, eh. Mum?” laughed Seamus.

“That they did, son, and liked to split a side for another reason when they rode it to Hogwarts. Now why don’t you two run on out to the parlor and meet Mr. Finnegan while I get this stew and bread ready for the table.”

The boys walked through the door to where Seamus’s father was sitting in an easy chair and reading.

“There you are, Dad. Let me introduce Harry Potter. Harry, this is m’Dad.”

“Pleased to meet you, sir,” said Harry with a smile.

Mr. Finnegan stood up and grabbed Harry’s hand and pumped it energetically. “Pleased to meet a practitioner of the sweet science.”

Harry’s face registered his confusion at the term.

“That’d be Dad’s way of saying boxing. I told him about our sparring with Malfoy and his boys last year.”

Mr. Finnegan beamed. “And a beautiful event it sounded to be, using skill and toughness to whoop opponents much bigger than all of yeh.”

“Now Dad, Malfoy wasn’t but a tad bigger’n me.”

“Ah, but yeh met your challenge and yeh won, lad. Mebbe yeh should’ve stuck with the ring instead of going for the wand.”

“Dad, you know there’d be no chance of that.”

“I suppose not. So, Harry, how’d yeh get started on the fights?”

“Oh, well, sir, the headmaster recommended I practice a dueling-type sport, and since my cousin had taken up boxing, that was my best option for the summers.”

“Your cousin, eh? Golden Gloves, mebbe? What’s his name?”

“Uh, well, Dudley Dursley.”

“I know him, ranked third now in the Surrey Golden Gloves heavyweight division – great fists, powerful punch, no glass jaw,” said Mr. Finnegan approvingly, and then with some regret, “but he’s been slow on his feet. Getting better that way, but you can’t make the big fights if you can’t move well.”

Harry was amazed. “That describes him. I’m impressed. You follow amateurs that closely?”

“Well, sure, Harry, and where do you think professionals come from? I like looking for the rising stars.”

“Dad’d give anything to see a British heavyweight champion in his lifetime – he’d even cheer for an Englishman.”

“Aah, you pug,” said Mr. Finnegan, ruffling Seamus’s hair. “But you’re right, even an Englishman.”

Suddenly Harry’s scar began burning and aching again. “I’ve got to do something,” he said quickly to Seamus and ran upstairs.

Mr. Finnegan called after him, “It’s the second door on the right – jiggle the handle to get the water to stop.” Then he said to Seamus, “What’d he do, ride a broom? That’d do it to me.”

“Erm, no, Dad. I’d better go check on him.”

Seamus overheard Harry giving the details of another attack to Remus Lupin. Before he left, he said, “Say hi to Seamus for me.”

“Was that Professor Lupin, Harry?”

“Erm, yeah, Seamus. He says hi.”

“I heard. What’s up?”

Harry sighed. “Well, I guess I can tell you. You’ve seen on the news that the Dark Mark killings have started up again.”

“Sure; I’d never seen it before but me Mum knew all about it.”

“Right, and you know how my scar hurts and tells me some things that are on Voldemort’s mind?”

“Like all those times you’ve waked up screaming in the dorm, Harry?” asked Seamus.

“Yeah, I guess I’ve been a difficult roommate,” said Harry.

“It’s a bit disturbing, but it’s better than that Hufflepuff first year last year who threw up in bed every night through Easter. Even the elves couldn’t make that smell totally go away.”

“Well, now it’s hurting more often because Voldemort is ordering killings, and the scar is telling me about the attacks. I report them and aurors go try to stop them. I was late tonight because I was reporting to Dumbledore.”

“Wow,” said Seamus. “So the war has really started and you’re like a spy.”

“More like a scout, I guess, but yeah, that’s about it.”

“AND YOU”LL BE KEEPING OUT OF IT SEAMUS FINNEGAN,” yelled his mother, who had walked up quietly after seeing the boys run upstairs. “I'll not have you getting involved in any fighting that doesn’t have a referee.”

“Mum,” moaned Seamus.

“Don’t you ‘Mum’ me, Seamus. I’ve lost one son to war. I won’t lose another,” she said, peering imperiously at him. Then she turned and stepped smartly back down the stairs to the kitchen.

Seamus looked apologetically at Harry.

Harry just sighed. “I hope she won’t, too.”

As dinnertime approached, two of Seamus’s brothers and one of his sisters came home. Katherine, his middle sister, reported to her mother that she had run into her brother Mike at Uni and he said that he wouldn’t be coming home that night.

“With his girlfriend again?” she asked with a sigh, as Katherine nodded with a grin. “Well, at least he’s not fighting.”

Before Harry went to bed, his scar began hurting again. This time though, the message he received was of frustration. He called Remus on the mirror.

“Remus,” he said hopefully. “Good news?”

“Your scar has already told you?” he asked.

“Well, I can feel the frustration anyway.”

“We were able to stop them both. The targets were a wizard and a witch this time. The aurors made it look like just a chance interception at that. Dumbledore wants to call as little attention to your role as possible. They caught one of them, not a Death Eater, but still somebody taking Voldemort’s orders. Of course, he claimed to be under the Imperius Curse. He had some of the signs, so we couldn’t be sure. Someone who used to be on that side told us they would give each other cover by putting empty Imperius curses on each other. This let Arthur be one step ahead of them; he had contracted with several trustworthy legilemens to be available for just this purpose: saw right through that lie.”

“Oh, so with legilemency you can tell genuine actions from Imperius-controlled actions?” asked Harry.

“Well, if it’s done close enough to a particular act, as I understand it, the legilemens can tell whether the act was done freely or not, something like that.”

“Hey, Potter,” intruded Tonks. “You’re the mind-reader, why don’t you tell us how it’s done!”

“Still a little bitter about getting caught out, Tonks?” teased Harry. “And what are you doing there at this hour, hmm?”

Tonks blushed. “I, uh, just brought Remus his potion.”

“Oh, please, Tonks, for one thing, it’s nearly a new moon – he’ll be safe for another two weeks. Besides, I can still see right through you.”

“Darn! I thought maybe you had to see me in person to do that! You know, you’re getting to be a right pain, Potter.”

“Legilemency isn’t the only way to see through you, Tonks,” said Harry.

“Oh, yeah, see if you can guess what I’m thinking right now!” she said, glaring into the mirror.

Harry peered. “Either I’m lucky to be on this end of the mirror, or Remus is lucky to be on that end!”

Tonks gasped. Remus, smiled and nodded and said, “Aah, uh-huh.”

“Stop that, Potter!” shouted Tonks, reddening.

Remus laughed. “I’d better be going before this mirror gets broken too, Harry. I’ll keep it handy, though, should anything turn up.”

Harry said goodbye and tucked the mirror away, proud of helping to save two more lives.

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Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #7  
Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:43 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 6 Close to the Heart

Harry and Seamus were able to do exercises and practice wand motions with Harry's drumsticks, but the close conditions of the Finnegan home and Belfast were no place for a couple of wizards to practice magical sparring. Besides, they would have to be supervised, and Mrs. Finnegan was not willing to have the boys even in a mock battle, so after they had done enough practice, Seamus showed Harry around the neighborhood. On the way back to the house for lunch, Harry's scar began to ache again, and they had to run to the house to use the mirror away from muggle eyes.

This time there were many locations: it seemed that Voldemort had realized that his teams were being intercepted and decided to make attacks in bunches that would strain Ministry resources. Harry couldn’t get all the details, such as names of the targeted people, but had most of the cities and streets. Remus suggested he carry parchment and a quill at all times to jot down details. Harry laughed and said that a notepad and pencil would be less conspicuous amongst muggles.

“You’d know better than I, Harry,” replied Lupin.

When Harry put the mirror away, he turned and saw Seamus staring bug-eyed.

“Seamus, what’s wrong?” asked Harry.

“That last street you gave, Harry…”

“Yeah, uh, Shivelleigh, in Ulster, what about it?” asked Harry.

“That’s this street, where we live!” said Seamus.

“No, we’re in Northern Ireland.”

“Harry, Ulster’s another name for Northern Ireland,” replied Seamus.

“Merlin’s beard! I never paid much attention to muggle politics. But there are a lot of different cities in Northern Ireland. There must be other streets with the same name.”

“Well, maybe, but I’ve never heard of any. It’s an odd one, even among Irish names. And I sure can’t relax thinking there’s a wizard hit squad headed here!”

“No. No, that’d be foolish. Either of us would be attractive targets if there were a random meeting.” Harry closed his eyes to remember the feeling his scar had given him about that address. “But we’re not the target – that’s aimed at a woman, but all I can say is that it’s someone younger than Voldemort. We’ve got to tell your Mum.”

Seamus pursed his lips and shifted a bit on his feet.

“Seamus, what’s wrong, we’ve got to tell your Mum – don’t we? Aren’t she and Fiona the only witches on the street?”

Seamus nodded reluctantly. “Of course, we have to tell her, Harry. She could be the target, or me sisters. Even if not, I’d hate to lose any of me neighbors, especially if I could do something about it. It’s just that she’s already so dead-set against involvement in the war – having it on her doorstep may just make her even more set against us getting involved.”

Seamus composed himself as he and Harry came down the stairs to talk to Seamus’s mother. Seamus took a deep breath before he spoke to her. “Mum, Harry’s gotten warning of another attack, like he did last night. One of the attacks is going to be here, on Shivelleigh Street, on a woman.”

Mrs. Finnegan turned ashen. “Harry, are you certain?”

“Well, he’s used the connection before to fool me, but these attacks have all happened as expected.”

“I see. Well, there’s nothing to be done then but for Seamus and I to take a look around.”

“Really, Mum?” said Seamus excitedly.

“Seamus, don’t get giddy. This is a dangerous situation.”

“I know, Mum, it’s just that we’ve trained so much to defend and I want to do something useful, but you’ve been so dead set agin’ it, “

“I don’t want you out there looking for fights, Seamus, but it appears this time the fight has come to us. The muggles on the street will have no chance against an attack by magic.”

“Well, I’m ready,” said Seamus.

“Let’s go,” said Harry.

“Harry,” said Mrs. Finnegan, “we Finnegans need to head out – this is our neighborhood. You needn’t take the chance.”

Seamus laughed. “Forget it, Mum. You’ll never keep Potter out of a fight by saying it’s someone else’s problem.”

“But Harry, lad, these are our neighbors, not yours.”

“Reverend MacBoon has taught me the story about the Good Samaritan,” said Harry. “Do you know it?”

“Well, of course, I do, Harry, tis in the Gospel of Saint Luke, chapter 10. This is a good Catholic family that reads its Bible.”

“Then you understand when I say these are my neighbors, too.”

“Aah, Harry, yesterday I caught you out saying something a bit foolish and today you’ve returned the favor. Of course, they’re your neighbors, too. All beings are.”

“Besides,” said Harry, “there may be dementors involved. Can you conjure a Patronus?”

“No, I’m glad to say I’ve never been in a position to need to learn, but you’re right that we need that skill with us.”

“Then we need Harry, Mum. He’s been teaching us at school, but I’ve only gotten a silvery cloud.”

“But, Harry, I promised Professor Dumbledore I would keep you safe.”

“Circumstances change. I’ll speak to him right now.”

Harry pulled out his mirror and called Professor Dumbledore, explaining the emergency.

“Yes, Harry, you should go and go quickly, but I would ask that you all keep within sight of each other.”

“Yes, sir, Professor, that makes a lot of sense. I’ll report back.”

“Be careful – all of you.”

“Now that we know that we are going to do something, the question is what! We are in a pickle, aren’t we?” said Mrs. Finnegan. “Walls mean nothing to someone who can apparate, except a place out of sight to complete your business, so we can’t tell people to stay inside. We really can’t guard all the homes of the street either. I’m the only witch on the street – was it a witch for sure they were targeting, Harry?”

“I can’t say that at all, Mrs. Finnegan. I only know that when that’s a major factor on Voldemort’s – uh, sorry – He Who Must Not Be Named’s mind. The first of the victims was a muggle who knew him in the muggle orphanage where he was raised, so I knew then. This time, it seems more like just a fanning out to cause panic.”

“Except specific streets were named. He could have ordered his thugs to just kill someone in Ulster, or specifically Belfast, but he chose this street, and that’s either because we Finnegans are here or because you are, Harry.”

Harry nodded and answered, “Or both. How about we take a walk up the street to see if anything’s going on?”

The others agreed.

“If you don’t mind, Harry,” said Mrs. Finnegan, “let’s head up to the open air market at the north end of the street first. We’ll cover most of the street getting there, and Katherine is picking up some pocket money working for the Giloolys at their stand.”

“As good a plan as any,” said Harry, “and better than most.”

Dressed completely muggle, but keeping their hands on their wands, the trio headed out toward the market. They had hardly left the house when Harry noticed a pair of wizards, one of whom he recognized as having been with Dumbledore when he arrived at the Battle of Gringotts. Harry could hardly imagine that the Battle had been only about a month earlier, and he felt a sharp pang at remembering Marietta Edgecombe’s death.

The auror approached Harry and pulled him away from the Finnegans. “Potter. It’s not a coincidence that you’re out here, is it?”

“No, we’re patrolling.” Harry nodded at the others and quietly said, “They live here, I was visiting. Both wizards, he was with the rest of the students at Gringotts last month – we’re headed north to the market.”

The auror replied, “We’ll head to the south end and double back.”

“Good,” said Harry. “Oh, the target is a woman younger than about 65.”

“Thanks,” said the auror, “and Potter, keep yourself safe. The Minister’d have our heads if anything happened.”

Harry smiled and headed off again with the Finnegans. They moved swiftly but cautiously, trying not to attract attention by looking too much like an armed patrol – especially in a city that’s had too much of armed groups. When they got to the market, they made a circuit around the grounds, trying to look like they were shopping for something special for dinner, but checking all the shoppers and vendors, trying to discern which was not a muggle. They soon came to the Giloolys' stand, where Mrs. Finnegan greeted Mrs. Gilooly.

“Afternoon, Peg, how’s business?”

“Aah, Martha, good as ever; have we got anything you need?”

“Only m’daughter. Is she about?”

“She took the wheelbarrow of trimmings out to the dumpster down the alley there,” replied Mrs. Gilooly, pointing across half the market.

As if on cue, they heard a scream echo out of the alley at that moment. All heads turned, and more than a few ducked, as people who have experienced gunbattles learn to do. Harry was relieved to see no one rushed into the alley. The three of them pulled their wands immediately.

Harry grabbed Seamus by the upper arm and apparated the two of them to the alley, out of the crowd’s sight. As soon as they had apparated in one portion of the alley, Harry re-apparated them to another portion of the alley. They turned to where they had first apparated in time to see a dark blue spell strike the wall. From behind a stack of boxes, a voice was heard yelling ‘Stupefy’ and the familiar spell came their direction. Simultaneously, even before the curse had been pronounced, Harry and Seamus shouted “Protego” and the stunner was reflected back toward its source, but the attacker had already disapparated, which they knew from the loud cracking sound.

Suddenly Harry and Seamus heard further down the alley a plaintive call of “No! Help! Please!” They turned and both gasped when they saw a dementor advancing silently but ever so menacingly on Seamus’s sister, Katherine, who was retreating from box to dumpster ever further toward the end of the alley, which was blocked by a chain fence.

Harry started to conjure his Patronus, but then realized this was a perfect opportunity to push Seamus past his mental block. Rather than try to trick Seamus with some ploy, he just told Seamus to do what he had to: “Seamus,” shouted Harry, “your Patronus!”

“Harry, you do it! You know I can’t!”

Katherine dodged around another dumpster, yards ahead of the dementor.

“You CAN do it, Seamus!” insisted Harry. “Think you’re happiest thought. Think how much you love her! Make yourself do it!”

Seamus aimed his wand and, trembling, shouted “Expecto Patronum!” A white gas emanated from the wand and interposed itself in front of the Dementor but failed to take form. The Dementor was slowed, giving Katherine a chance to dart to the next dumpster. When the mist evaporated, the dementor advanced again, as Katherine sank back into an alcove.

“Try again!” shouted Harry. “Think your happiest thought and try again.”

Harry concentrated as well: if it were possible to will another person into new skills, Harry would do it for Seamus.

“EXPECTO PATRONUM” shouted Seamus and the wisp emanated again, as the dementor hovered over Katherine and grabbed her shoulders. This time the wisp formed fully into a small animal and charged at the dementor, striking it in the midsection with its paws. The dementor let go of Katherine and raised its arms to ward off the patronus, which yapped at the dementor and set it to flight down the alley. It chased the dementor and at the end of the alley it turned and gave a yap Seamus’s way before continuing the pursuit.

Seamus was shaking; he glared at Harry. “You’ve got a harsh teaching method there, Coach,” he said, using Harry’s DA nickname.

“I was certain you had the ability – you needed the motivation. Saving lives is what a Patronus is for. I knew the dementor would move fairly slowly: there was still enough time for my Patronus if that last try had failed.”

As they said this, Seamus and Harry ran to Katherine. Harry reached to offer a hand up, but Seamus went a few yards past her and leaned over the edge of the dumpster and vomited. He shook his head slowly and then blew his nose on his t-shirt to remove the traces that had taken that detour.

“I know it’s good that I can do it now, but I still say there’s got to be a gentler method of teaching it.”

Mrs. Finnegan and the two aurors came running up.

“Are you alright?” she asked the three of them. “Seamus, you’re as pale as if you’d heard a banshee.”

“I’ll be fine, Mum,” said Seamus. “See to Katherine.”

“I’m so c-c-cold,” said Katherine, “and I f-feel sick. What was th-that?”

“Worse than a banshee - a dementor,” said Harry. “We’ll explain later. Seamus and I are fine, but Katherine needs chocolate and plenty of it.” Harry pulled out a couple of quid he carried for emergencies. “I’ll run down to the market and get some.”

The auror Harry recognized grabbed his arm. “I’m not letting you go anywhere, Potter. Give the muggle money to Screvens – he‘ll get it.”

Harry gave the other auror the money and said, “Just out of the alley to the left is a stand with candy. Get the Hershey’s or the Cadbury’s bars, they’re real chocolate. Artificial won’t do. Get as much as this will get.”

“Right-o. Back in a flash.”

“Did anyone see us?” asked Harry.

“Just a couple,” said the auror Harry had recognized, “but I’ve already modified their memories. I cleared everyone else’s memories of the scream as well.”

“Good. You’re going to need me for reports, I assume. But let’s get the chocolate into her first and go back to their house.”

“Works for me,” said the auror. “I really don’t like crowds – too easy to hide, too easy for bystanders to get hurt.”

They helped Katherine along, as she was still shivering. As they reached the end of the alley, Screvens met them, already unwrapping the first bar, and shoving it toward Katherine.

“I c-c-can’t eat that!” she cried. “The calories! The fat! The zits!”

“You can do it this once, dear,” urged Mrs. Finnegan. “Harry’s right, chocolate is what fixes you after a dementor.”

Mrs. Finnegan broke off a chunk and shoved it right into Katherine’s mouth. Katherine began sucking on it and then chewing it up. She started to stand a bit straighter and managed a weak smile.

“That … really does make it better. I’m starting to get warm.”

She took the rest of the bar and started eating it like she was starving, which, Seamus whispered to Harry, she was, having been perpetually on a diet for over 6 years, since she turned 13. She had deprived herself of chocolate and all other high-calorie treats all that time, and now that she was required to eat chocolate, she went at it with gusto.

“Good, love, have another,” said Mrs. Finnegan with a laugh.

Back at the house, Mrs. Finnegan helped Katherine to her room to lie down for a while. Seamus changed his shirt and rinsed his mouth thoroughly. Then Mrs. Finnegan served coffee at the kitchen table while the aurors got the details.

“Harry, I don’t know how to thank you,” said Mrs. Finnegan. “We couldn’t have fought it off. We’ve never mastered the patronus. I shudder to think what would have happened if you hadn’t been there with yours.”

Harry grinned broadly. “It wasn’t mine.”

She looked quizzically at him, and then at Seamus, and the realization dawned on her face. “Seamus, you said you’d not been able to do a Patronus.”

“I never had before, Mum,” he said proudly, then adding sarcastically, “Harry decided this was a lovely day for a Patronus lesson, since I hadn’t gotten the hang of it before and there was a dementor handy. He made me think of happy thoughts, and it came when I needed it.”

“You just needed to get your focus,” said Harry. “Now to the best of my knowledge, you’re just the second Hogwarts’ student to use the Patronus to save a life. That’ll be something to talk about.”

“I didn’t get there in time to see it, Seamus, what form was it?” asked Mrs. Finnegan.

Seamus stared down into his cup and mumbled, “Oh it doesn’t really matter, Mum.”

“There’s not a thing about you that doesn’t matter to me, Seamus Finnegan, and this is something big! Now you just tell me.”

“Yes, Mum. It was a scotch terrier.”

Mrs. Finnegan fought to suppress her laughter, which sent Harry and the aurors into gales of laughter, as much out of release of the tension of the dementor attack as anything.

“Well,” she said, “we may have to keep that from your father. He wouldn’t understand a Patronus much anyway.”

“Oh, go ahead and laugh, Potter,” groused Seamus. “You’ve got your nice big stag, with the full antlers, all regal and proud, and all I get’s a weenie little pooch, and a Scots one to boot.”

Harry grinned. “It did the job just fine. Who knows, with practice maybe you’ll get a spaniel.”

The first auror added, “Or maybe a French poodle with a trimmed poofy tail.”

Seamus just glared. As he did, Katherine came in from upstairs, having recovered considerably.

“I’ve got two brave young men to thank,” she said.

She got Seamus up from his chair and hugged him and kissed his cheeks, as he tried to wriggle away, blushing. Then she pulled Harry up from his chair. She put a hand on each arm just above the elbow and looked up into his eyes, “Now, you’re not m’brother – I can do better for you.”

Harry startled back, but she threw her arms around Harry and kissed him on the lips, holding there for a good fifteen seconds. She let him go and stepped back and winked at him.

“Who’s sporting the red cheeks now, Potter?” said Seamus, and they all had a good laugh, including Harry, who felt too good after that kiss not to.

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #8  
Old November 4th, 2006, 3:25 am
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 7 - Celebration and Clouds

That evening, all the available kin who knew about magic gathered to celebrate Katherine’s rescue and Seamus’s new skill. Harry offered to go back to Surrey so as not to intrude on a family time, but they all insisted he stay, as he had been so central to the rescue.

All four of Seamus’s grandparents were there. Beyond the inevitable pangs Harry felt at not having living grandparents of his own, Harry was surprised at the apparent age differences. Only Mrs. Finnegan’s father was a wizard, and he was visibly much younger-looking than the others. When Harry had seen how much younger Mrs. Finnegan looked than Mr. Finnegan (she looked about 40, while he appeared to be mid-50s), he hadn’t thought much of it – maybe she had married an older man, maybe she just kept her youth well, or perhaps she was skilled at makeup. But there was no mistaking the trend on comparing the grandparents. Mr. Mahoney looked only a little older than Mrs. Finnegan, but his wife, who was muggle, showed all of her age of almost 70 years, as did the elder Finnegans. The difference did not seem to have dampened Mr. Mahoney’s ardor for Mrs. Mahoney, as he was every bit as affectionate toward her as the Weasleys were toward each other. Both generations of Finnegans were demonstratively affectionate as well, for that matter. Still, it seemed to Harry that the disparity called attention to Mr. Mahoney being ‘different’ in some fundamental way that tended to threaten the secrecy of wizards and witches; this must be a substantial consideration in muggle-wizard marriages.

Not just among the couples, the Finnegans and the Mahoneys were as affectionate and cheerful throughout the entire family as were the Weasleys. Several could play instruments and those that could play did, and the rest danced or sang. Harry would have liked to have just watched, but that was not to be. Although he knew nothing of Irish folk dance, nor any other beyond swaying to slow music, to the Finnegans and the Mahoneys Harry’s lack of skill was no reason for him not to join the dance. The enthusiasm was infectious and Harry found himself forgetting everything but the dancing and music and clapping. Harry was passed among all the sisters and grandmothers and Mrs. Finnegan, all of whom seemed to take a special interest in leading the novice dancer among them through the motions.

Sometime after 10, Mr. Finnegan decided the time was ripe for some Irish whiskey. All the adults had a small glass neat and talked of the virtues of various whiskeys. Mr. Finnegan invited Seamus and Harry to join them, as they had done a man’s work in saving Katherine, but Mrs. Finnegan would only let them have enough for a solid taste. Harry found it harsh and bitter and thought that it burned. He understood that people sometimes liked alcohol’s effects on them, and that sometimes it ended up making them act stupidly – which perhaps they enjoyed on occasion in itself, - but he did not understand how anyone could be drinking the stuff for taste.

Then Mr. Mahoney brought out a bottle of Ogden’s Old Firewhiskey and likewise gave everyone a small glass. This time Harry and Seamus were allowed to have a full portion. Now this was different, thought Harry. It played on his tongue and refreshed him. It made him feel stronger and clearer, but Harry found that he felt like just that much was enough. The muggles among them however, seemed to feel that it was bland or at best sour, and they complained, jokingly of course, as this was a routine they had developed long ago, that the Ogden’s had no kick like a whiskey should. Mr. Mahoney just smiled warmly, raised his glass and said, “To each his own and may long health be the fruits of our choices.”

Grandmother Finnegan, who had taken a rest near the telly, then called to her husband, “Bagnold, there’s those skull-things in the sky again.”

All crowded around the telly and sure enough, the Dark Mark had made the news again. This time the news reader announced that it was reported in four locations around Britain. He also noted that they had corresponded with unexplained deaths in each of the areas, as had been the pattern some fifteen years earlier.

“The dark days are indeed returning,” said Mrs. Finnegan. “Harry, I’m truly sorry I doubted you two years ago.”

“I understand, Mrs. Finnegan,” replied Harry. “When I escaped from him, I barely believed it all myself. But I’d be lying if I denied that it hurt.”

“Harry, your story was so bizarre, and Fudge was saying what we wanted to believe.”

Mr. Finnegan nodded sagely. “Every decent person wants to avoid war, sometimes to the point of blindness to their real threats, and too often politicians will curry favor with the voters by telling them that war can be avoided, that evil people aren’t really so bad, or that they will go away.”

“There’s a difference,” added Brian, “between practicing diplomacy to avoid a conflict, where that is possible, and practicing duplicity about a conflict which has already begun.”

“At least this time,” said Harry, “we’re in a better position to fight the Death Eaters and the other followers. Arthur Weasley is working with Dumbledore. From the moment of his return, we were aware of Lord Vo-“

“Don’t say it, Harry,” pled Mrs. Finnegan weakly.

“We give him more power over us if we fear even to say the name. It’s Voldemort,” said Harry.

Mrs. Finnegan shuddered. “It’s not like you’re speaking blasphemy, but I had hoped never to hear that name in my home.”

“Of course. But wishing it were not so does not make him go away. Look, we were able to save Katherine because students at the school have been training to do what it takes to survive. We are in much better shape than you were before.”

“Sure, Harry, and I truly believe the good magical folk could meet all of his followers if we had the chance – but even Dumbledore says he can’t seal the victory, so who’s going to step up to fight - HIM.”

Harry looked at her sadly, with a look that admitted that it was he who would be meeting Voldemort again someday, but that he neither looked forward to it nor knew how he would again survive it, much less win it.

“No, Harry,” said Mrs. Finnegan, with tears coming to her eyes. “You’re a sweet and brave lad to be sure – how can you be thinking of facing him?”

“It’s best I not say how I know. It’s certainly not something I ever wanted. But it must be, and I have accepted that.” Then he put a hand around Seamus’s shoulder and added, “But the way has been made easier and more pleasant by the many Hogwarts students who have helped me train.”

“Aw, gerrof, Harry,” said Seamus, grinning. “You know you’ve been the teacher, not the student.”

“You’d be surprised, Seamus,” said Harry earnestly. “I’m far sharper and faster than I would be if I didn’t have all of you to work with. And working with you reminds me of the things worth fighting for.”

“Well,” said Mr. Mahoney, “you must be some teacher is all I can say to have taught Seamus – and others I hear – to do the Patronus Charm. Not a fifth of the wizards around can do it – Seamus is the first one in the family.”

“Seamus is a good student,” said Harry. “He works hard. He’s ahead of where I was when I dueled Voldemort. It stood him in good stead a month ago.”

Under his breath, Seamus said. “Harry, shush.”

“What’s this!?” pressed Mrs. Finnegan.

“Oh, well, Mum, I guess I’ll have to tell you,” said Seamus reluctantly. “I told you about the Battle at Gringott’s last month, of course, and it was in the paper, too. I may have left out that I was among the students that trapped what was left of Fudge’s army.”

His father and grandfathers beamed at that and congratulated each other over this news, but Mrs. Finnegan just glared.

“It’s one thing to train and to spar, or for that matter to defend yourself. But you were not to be out looking for battles!” she snapped.

“But Mum, the Gringotts goblins could have been wiped out if not for getting help from Hogwarts – how could we let good folk die?”

“Well, I suppose the cause was good. I should have seen this coming when you were placed in Gryffindor, rather than being a solid hard-working Hufflepuff like the rest of the family. We’ll let it pass – but don’t you be searching out scrapes anymore, you hear?”

“So, son, what was it you did?” asked his father.

“Oh, well, the students who couldn’t apparate that far took the Floo to Weasley Wizard Wheezes. Once we all got there, Professor Weasley, Ron Weasley and Ernie McMillan had already scouted out the vicinity. They told us team leaders they needed someone to provide cover from a well-placed gargoyle they pointed out while we took positions. Before they could ask for volunteers, Marietta Edgecombe had …” he hesitated, realizing how painful this must be for Harry to hear, but Harry nodded at him to go on. He continued, “Uh, she apparated to the post and pinned down the rear of the army. We students all got into secure positions where we had cover and an escape route if need be – I was down a stairwell to the Flourish and Blotts basement with the team I train with.”

“That he trains!” interrupted Harry.

“Well, I might show ‘em a thing or two I learned from Harry,” said Seamus with a grin. “When the remnants of the army finally tried to make a break for it from the goblins, we hit them with a truly sweet crossfire of spells. They hadn’t a chance.”

“Well, you stood up for what was right and you didn’t back down from the fight. Nor did you take foolish risks. I’m proud of you, son,” said Mr. Finnegan, and the others all murmured their agreement.

“So Harry,” said Mr. Mahoney, “were you in with all the other students?”

“Oh, no, sir. I was down in the tunnels underneath Gringotts. I missed all that action. I didn’t even get a chance to use a spell against a wizard.”

Loudly, slowly and deliberately, Seamus scolded Harry, “You enormous git!” Then he explained to all the rest. “Harry only took out the two graphorns – eh, think of gigantic water buffalo - that had been modified into heliopaths to kill the goblins, by apparating with a house elf 7 times in less than two and a half seconds so that the two of them could send stunners converging on the graphorns from all corners of the tunnels.”

The sorcerers there gasped, and the rest nodded their approval, knowing from the tone of Seamus’s tale that this must be something special.

“That’s good, is it” asked grandfather Finnegan.

“That’s unheard of!” said Mrs. Finnegan.

“Not only that,” said Seamus, “he was knocked down by a Stunner, had his leg crushed by one of the graphorns, was held hostage by a double-crossing auror, was stabbed with a knife right through the shoulder, and had his hand sliced to the bone in two places when he grabbed the blade!”

All the family gasped at this. Mrs. Finnegan shook her head and said with a weak smile, “Harry, I’ll usually not tolerate a guest being abused in my house, but Seamus is right – I won’t call you a name, but it’s foolish of you not taking due credit.”

“Well, everyone did what they could. Apparating comes readily to me. Truth be told, I get more satisfaction out of knowing that my holding her helped keep a goblin healer alive until other goblin healers could arrive to help her out. It seems there’s never any shortage of ways to inflict damage, but always too few ways to help recover from it.”

“Hear, hear!” said the grandparents.

Then Mr. Finnegan spoke up, “So that’s well and good. Now I’ve heard about this Patronus thing, but I haven’t seen it. Is it something you could show us, Seamus?”

Seamus was very hesitant, but his mother encouraged him. Finally he relented. He was shaking as he prepared to do it. Harry spoke quietly to him, “Just remember the focus you had when you did it before. Great magic relies on great focus. You know you can do it: that’s over half the job. Just wind yourself up and do what you know you can do.”

Seamus breathed deeply and counted to three before thrusting his wand and shouting, “EXPECTO PATRONUM.”

The silvery wisp shot out and formed itself into a Scotty, which wagged its tail and ran around the room before bounding into Seamus’s hands, evaporating away as his hands reached it.

“That’s what saved me?” marveled Katherine. “That cute little white doggy? It fought that hideous Grim Reaper that was after me?”

“That was a Patronus alright,” said Mr. Mahoney,” and a fine one at that. Size makes no difference, just the quality of its form, and you could clearly make out what it was.”

“But Seamus,” said his father, with wry bemusement, “Did it have to be a Scots dog?”

“Dad,” pled Seamus, “I had no control over what it was. I was as shocked as you.”

“There’ll be no shame, whether it’s a wee dog or a caterpillar – it was well-formed and it saved Katherine’s life. That’s all that matters to me,” said Mrs. Finnegan.

“Hear, hear,” said the grandparents.

“Well, Harry,” said Mr. Finnegan, “if you’re the teacher, you must be able to do it too. Will you favor us?”

Harry looked to Seamus, who encouraged him to do it.

“Well, alright,” said Harry, “I suppose a little practice wouldn’t hurt. It’s been months since I last did it. We’d best move the coffee table and push the chairs back.”

They cleared enough room, and Harry pulled his wand, thrust it and said firmly but quietly “Expecto Patronum!” The jet of silver shot out and formed itself almost immediately. The form of the stag was five feet high at the shoulder. It tossed its head a few times before leaping toward the picture window, diffusing as it approached.

“That was magnificent, Harry.” said Mr. Mahoney, “I could make out the individual hairs of its fur. I’ve never seen one so well-formed. And you didn’t even have to shout.”

Harry smiled shyly, “Yeah, I reckon it gets better with practice.”

Seamus said proudly, “That’s what nailed a NEWT in Defense for Harry, two years early!”

“I can well imagine” said his mother, “and from what I’ve seen of the results of his teaching, it was not at all undeserved.”

“Harry,” said Mr. Mahoney, “something occurs to me from seeing the Dark Mark on the telly tonight – those have to be done by a witch or wizard with a wand.”

“Yes, sir?”

“Don’t you see – the wizard or witch that tried to stun you two can’t have disapparated far away. They still needed to be able to see whether they could send up the Dark Mark. The purpose of these attacks is as much to spread fear and panic as anything else, so the Dark Mark is the real point – they just need a killing to put some bite in that growl. I wonder why they didn’t make further attack on you two.”

“That’s a good point, Dad,” said Mrs. Finnegan. “Maybe after the boys used the shield charm, whoever it was saw he was against a couple of capable fighters.”

Harry added, “Or maybe he or she had orders not to take on other wizards in battle. Their forces are still not very numerous, so they probably are just trying to make safe kills and sneak away.”

“That would explain using a dementor,” said Seamus, “since the only Charm that works against them doesn’t kill them. Or does it, Harry?”

“No, it doesn’t.” Then Harry began to think aloud. “Hmm – if you can’t kill or confine a dementor, how do you eliminate them from the enemy forces?”

“What do you mean, Harry?” asked Seamus.

“Well, if you’re facing a mixed force of sorcerers and dementors, you can’t necessarily count on having a wizard available who can conjure a Patronus. And even if one is available, if he’s occupied controlling dementors, he’s out of the battle.”

“Sounds like a research project – where’s Granger when you need her?” said Seamus with a light laugh.

“I’ll put it to her, but I doubt there’s anything in the books that will solve this. We’ve never had to disable or destroy dementors before. We need someone to come up with something creative.”

Mr. Mahoney clapped his hands and grabbed his fiddle and bow again. “Well, while we wait for that seed to germinate, we’re here to celebrate. The night’s still young enough for more music and dance!”

Before going to bed that night, Harry called Remus on the mirror. Remus seemed a bit worn.

“Are you all right, Remus?” said Harry.

“I’ll be fine, Harry,” he replied, smiling weakly. “I’ve been involved in coordinating responses to the attacks all day. It’s been very busy, and I think I’d rather be out responding than being a dispatcher. But because of my relationship with you, I’m thought to be uniquely suited to this. Arthur Weasley even finagled putting me on the Ministry payroll. The downside for me is that I no longer will be participating in Order activities.”

“It hasn’t been that time-consuming that you can’t be in the Order, has it?” asked Harry.

“No – today was, though, and this may be a harbinger of things to come. But there’s a more critical reason.”

“What’s that?”

Remus smiled. “What am I doing right now, Harry?”

“Erm, smiling and, erm, talking with me, and … looking at me?”

“Right in three!” said Remus. “Dumbledore doesn’t want plans revealed to you inadvertently through your poorly controlled legilemency. With your link to Voldemort, he may be able to spy on us through you. There is much that we can tell you, because Voldemort will have his sources as well, but much we need to protect. Dumbledore is skilled at Occlumency, so he can shield plans from you, but I'm not. We really had four choices – not respond to the warnings your scar would give, let only Dumbledore be in contact with you, make this my fulltime and exclusive duty, or let Professor Snape be your contact person. The first two are unacceptable, and Snape is too busy – to say nothing of not being too keen about being at your beck and call – to do it. So that left it to me. We’re working out precautions so that I can inform people who need to know, and they can inform you of what you should know, but I won’t know the things which we don’t want you to know.”

“I hope you’re not going to feel restive and isolated, like Sirius did two years ago.”

“Thanks for your concern, Harry, but I am by no means isolated. I am in contact with plenty of people. I am also far more patient about not being in the thick of things than Sirius ever learned to be. That’s part of being a werewolf – knowing that you’re going to have to spend some time out of commission.”

“So how did the response go today?”

“We stopped all but four: two quick killings and two got the dementor’s kiss first. Most of the attacks were by dementors, so all we could do is chase them away. We figured there must be sorcerers nearby, but none were identified, much less caught. Congratulations are in order to you, I hear, on an excellent save.”

“Who, me? I didn’t do anything but apparate. Seamus conjured the Patronus.”

Remus shook his head. “Harry, Harry: when are you going to take credit for what you have accomplished? There are some dozen-odd students now with corporeal patronuses, and it’s all because you have taught them. Before you learned the Patronus charm, students would not even start learning it until 7th year NEWT Defense class. Half of the seventh years at Hogwarts are ready for their NEWT test in defense already, except for not mastering the patronus. And now one of your students has saved a life. You don't have to be a braggart, but puff up a bit – you deserve it.”

“I’m proud of what they've accomplished, of course. But I haven’t really done much – I was just working from the example of a very good teacher I had.”

Remus sighed. “Cameron and I have talked about this. Your head knows that a lot of good has been done by you and because of your assistance. But you just don’t seem able to truly see the good of you.”

“I guess the whole magic thing seems something apart from me.”

“But you’re a fine fellow independent of the magic. I’m glad to know Harry, the young man, as well as Harry, the wizard.”

“I’ve had friends now for six years and it still is hard for me to understand that people could care for me.”

“Believe it, Harry, we do. You can use your legilemency if you need to convince yourself of that.”

Harry smiled, “I’ll pass on that. I’m working too hard on not using legilemency inappropriately. I had a very disturbing experience earlier.”

“Such as?”

“Well, Seamus’s sister Katherine thanked us with kisses. Before she kissed me, she looked in my eyes and said something like ‘I can thank you proper, you’re not my brother,’ and then she gave me a real snog. She had surprised me, so that when she looked into my eyes, I was not suppressing the legilemency. I saw what kind of a thank-you was on her mind. Remus, it was a lot more than a kiss!”

Remus laughed. “Well, it wouldn’t have been an undeserved reward, but I think it was very decent and wise of you not to take advantage of the situation. People often have conflicting thoughts – I’m sure she had a notion to do those things, but she probably had other parts of her mind which pulled against them. After all, she barely knows you, you’re younger, her brother’s roommate, etcetera. And she may have conflicting feelings about doing those things anyway – our bodies scream to do them, but our minds know that they come with all sorts of entanglements, both physical and emotional. You did well, Harry. I hope you will come to me or Cameron to help sort out your feelings about attractions and desires.”

“Sure, Remus, I’ll try. Erm, Remus, there's something else on my mind. Can we talk?"

"Aren't we?"

"I mean - is Tonks there?"

"No, Harry," said Lupin more quietly. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, she was there last time I called kind of late, and, well, I know you have taken a bit of a fancy to her."

"I'm not sure that's any of your business, Harry."

"Maybe not, it's just that, well, you asked me to think of you as a friend, and I do, and a few days ago, she said how much she liked you, but she was getting frustrated with you keeping your distance so much."

"I see, and you have an opinion on that, do you?"

"Well, I like both of you, and you both seem to like each other - I'd like for both of you to be happy."

Lupin looked down sadly.

"I want her to be happy, too, Harry. That's why I've pulled back."

"But she likes you. A lot."

Lupin smiled weakly. "Harry, if I were to be involved with anyone, it would only be a matter of time before I made a mistake, forgot to take my potion, and hurt that person badly, maybe kill them - or worse."

"What could be worse?"

"Oftentimes, I think it's worse to be a werewolf than to be dead."

"Remus, please don't talk like that. I'd hate to lose another person I care about."

"Don't worry, Harry, I'm not that sort. But I couldn't forgive myself if I hurt others that way."

"You're hurting her now by being distant."

"She'll get over it. She'll find someone who can give her the life she deserves."

"You had close friends at school: you never made them werewolves."

"They were animagi - they could avoid it and help control me."

"She's a metamorphmagus - I'll bet she could become an animagus real easy."

"It's much more than changing appearance, Harry. You've got to be able to change yourself from within to make a proper transition."

"You could give her a chance," Harry said, then paused for a response. Getting none he went on. "Unless ... unless you're the one who can't bear the hurt. Remus, just because you lost your first friends doesn't mean it's going to happen again."

"Nice words, Potter, but we're in a war, and unless you weren't aware, Tonks has been sent out repeatedly to answer the attacks. She's facing dementors without a patronus!"

"Really? I would have thought that was an auror requirement."

"Officially it is, but for the longest time, it was considered just a technical thing, so any silvery mist would get you past the inspectors, especially with Tonks, since her other skills were so valuable."

"Still, I say a life without love is hardly worth living."

"Et tu, Harry? You haven't had a girlfriend in, what, three months?"

"Well, I hadn't given up on Marietta, and then she ... was killed. I'm not really over that yet."

"Of course, Harry, but I'll bet you've had a few thoughts along those lines by now."

Remus grinned slyly, and noted Harry's rising blush.

"Go ahead, Harry, you can tell me."

"Promise you won't say anything?"

"Harry, of course. Haven't I kept confidences before?"

"Okay. Well, I suppose I've been thinking of Ginny Weasley in those ways, the possibility of being more than just friends."

"Good! She's got a sharp sense of humor and playfulness to her. You could really use a bit of lightening up."

"Et tu, Remus?"

"Okay, you scored a point there. Let's both not slam the doors shut just because there's a war on."

"Okay, Remus. I know we'll talk more later. I’d better go now. The rest of the house is already in bed. I don’t want to disturb them.”

Harry went to bed, but he did not sleep well. At first he thought it was all the dancing, perhaps the whiskey, or just generally the excitement of the day. But then he realized that he could not stop thinking about the attacks. From one at a time, to two, and now many, the scope of the attacks was growing. The Ministry was still able to respond, but if they increased much more, they soon would exceed the Ministry’s capabilities.

Harry was being stretched by it too. The fierce recurrent pain, the panicked run to the mirror, the worrying about results and even as today participating in warding off attacks, were already taking their toll. He was tired and anxious – and angry.

Harry had to admit to himself that this was getting to him A few of the targets may have had some sort of strategic purpose, but most were just random. They were attempted executions for no other purpose than to foment discord, panic and division. A few had been blocked, but many were successful, and the numbers must soon climb.

As he lapsed into an agitated sleep, Harry began to dream. At first he simply could not get the image of the Dark Mark on the telly out of his mind. Then he had images of Voldemort sending out hundreds of followers to fan out first over Britain and then the world, exterminating all resistance. He pictured dementors spreading over the land, like the plagues of locusts he had seen in school films before Hogwarts. Harry twisted and writhed for hours until he fell out of bed. He felt his scar and knew that at that moment, Voldemort was sleeping soundly. Harry was determined to do so as well. He concentrated on the good times he had known at The Burrow. He allowed no other thoughts. Finally he was able to sleep well.

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Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #9  
Old November 8th, 2006, 12:36 am
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 8 Understanding Women

Over the next day and a half Harry had to call Remus four times with additional reports of attacks. It sickened Harry to be the conduit of the information and it was more repulsive yet to experience Voldemort’s pleasure at it. It was a relief to Harry when he could focus on things enough to clear his mind, such as Sunday evening when he worked on his summer assignments and spellwork and Monday morning when got back to vigorous exercise. As scheduled, Monday after lunch he went to Mrs. Figg’s house to meet with Cameron MacBoon.

“Hello, Harry,” said Cameron, meeting him at the door, “How are you?”

“I assume you’ve spoken with Remus,” said Harry, “so you should have a pretty good idea.”

“You assume? I thought you couldn’t turn the legilemency off?”

“I’ve been working on that. I find I can suppress it, with an active effort. It’s kind of like learning not to slouch – you consciously do it for a while and it gets easier and easier, until you only have to check yourself on occasion. It’s not that easy yet, by any means, though – I’m still in the ‘think about it’ stage, and if I’m caught off-guard by someone looking me in the eye, then I can’t help but get a notion of what’s on their mind. If I’m ready, though, I can and do suppress it around people: I want the thoughts in my head to be my own.”

Cameron nodded. “Yes, I can see where that would be a problem, keeping the flood out. Well, then, of course I have spoken with Remus and others about what you’ve been doing since we last visited. This tells me what you have been doing, and I can guess some of the ways it has been affecting you, but that can only be a reasonable guess. It is better that you openly express what’s consciously on your mind. It helps you to organize it, to get rid of what you can, and to dredge up the hidden feelings pushing to get out.”

“Alright then,” said Harry, “I’m frustrated, angry, tired, annoyed. I want to learn the secrets of peace through love, but my time is spent responding to messages of murderous intents, and the repulsive glee that Voldemort experiences upon ordering another death. You told me I’m supposed to learn to love him and his followers, but I’m seeing into the cesspool of his mind, and it’s not pretty.”

Cameron listened very attentively, nodding sympathetically. “Good, Harry. I certainly don’t want you to feel agreement or affection for them. Don’t worry about loving them just yet. It’s enough that you are aware that love for all people is the goal. For now you’ll practice with less odious people, which brings us to your Aunt Marge. Why do you dislike her so?”

Harry glared at him like he was asking the stupidest question in the world. Then he caught himself and thought that this must be part of the procedure, so he’d go along.

“Ever since I can remember she has treated me just awful. She’s set her dog on me, she says awful things about me, she insults my parents. She dotes on Dudley, which would be okay, except she always uses it as an occasion to taunt me – I can do without things, but she waved them in my face to taunt me. I could have taken being ignored, but she savored the torment.”

“Okay. Now where do you think she got this attitude about you?”

“Well, mostly it was just what she had been told by Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. They told her I was being sent off to St. Brutus’s School for Incorrigibly Criminal Boys – something like that, like I was some sort of a thug and thief. All along Dudley was the one who was beating up kids, including me. He also would vandalize stuff and steal things, even though he was given more stuff than he knew how to use. She’s also always said awful things about how I look – my skinniness and my hair, that sort of thing – anything that was distinctly different from the Dursleys.”

“Okay, some of that we’ll sort out when we talk about the relatives you live with. As for Aunt Marge, it seems she repeated what she heard – sounds pretty understandable to me.”

Harry looked at him and thought. “Well, I suppose, but she always went so far with it. She’d also make up things about my parents as an ‘explanation’ for why I turned out so worthless; at least Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had the decency not to insult an orphan’s parents, or maybe they just didn’t want me to think about them. But that wasn’t Aunt Marge’s way - she delighted in terrorizing me.”

Cameron smiled, “Isn’t ‘terrorizing’ a strong word?”

“That’s what it feels like to a small boy.”

“No doubt, but it really was just a rather severe case of bullying, right?”

“It’s just a question of scale: it’s the same sort of behavior, inflicting distress to break someone down. I don’t see that her delight in tormenting me is all that different, except in scale, from Voldemort’s delight in torturing and killing people.”

“Good point, and yet there is a difference – from what you say, she never went beyond hateful words.”

“Well, she set her dog on me and whacked my shins with her walking stick.”

“Okay. Nothing truly injurious then. Now why do you think she might have acted that way?” asked Cameron.

“She’s a nasty, evil toad.”

Cameron smiled. “Well, we’ll start there. You recognized that she got her ideas about you from somewhere – maybe she got her ideas about dealing with people from somewhere as well. Your Uncle Vernon was pretty harsh with you, too, wasn’t he?”

“I think the only reason he was less brutal was out of concern that authorities would be brought in if I were visibly injured. But he can’t have taught that attitude to her: she’s several years older than him.”

“Sure, Harry, but maybe they both got that attitude from the same source.”

Harry gave a glance of recognition: “Their parents, or rather their mother and stepfather. I don’t really know anything about them, though, so it’s hard to say.”

“I did some research, Harry.”

“Did you? You’re thorough.”

“I had the time, and I appreciate the importance of this assignment. What I found was that their stepfather was a refugee from Vichy France. He had fled, with a considerable cache of French gold, to Chile during the turmoil of the postwar years because of his cooperation with the Nazis. It’s not that he was charged with any crimes, but his enthusiasm for the German-installed regime was great and notorious, and he made a lot of enemies with his vigorous persecution of the French Resistance. In the mid-60s, he came to England on a tourist visa as he explored whether he could return to France. He was still unwelcome and needed a legal basis to stay in Britain. He found the widow Dursley, husband killed in an industrial accident, trying to raise two small children. She could provide resident status and he could provide support. It was a convenient arrangement, and she came to embrace the ideas he perpetually preached of society’s need for uniformity and submission to central authorities.”

Harry thought, and then asked, “That sounds like he was communist, but you said he cooperated with the Nazis?”

“What’s the difference?”

“Let’s see. When I was in muggle schools, we learned that the communists believe in government owning all the factories and shops and stuff like that, and that’s called leftist, and that the fascists believe in such things being owned privately, but with the government controlling how they are run: that’s called right-wing. The Nazis were supposed to be like that.”

“Well, they called themselves ‘socialists,’ but again, Harry, what’s the difference – how can you say you really own something if someone else controls what you do with it. We’re not talking about limits to avoid harming others. In either case, leftist or rightist, you’re under the control of and exist at the mercy of the people in charge. Also with either right-wingers or left-wingers, the government tries to tell people what to think.”

“I see. I’ve never had to support myself, or had a business or a job, so I hadn’t really thought about it. That’s bad enough at the national level – it must be awful in a family.”

“Well, at either level, the oppressiveness depends on the character of the people in charge. A government might have the legal authority to seize control, but it might choose not to exercise it. But we’re here to understand the Dursleys, and Marge and Vernon Dursley had a hard time of it. Your uncle and aunt were subjected to just as much brutality, badgering, and bullying as you experienced - every bit as much. Severity and cruelty is all they knew. They never had an example to work from to show them differently. They never had an Arthur or Molly Weasley, a Remus Lupin, a Minerva McGonagall, or an Albus Dumbledore to show them a better way.”

“Or a Cameron MacBoon,” added Harry.

“That’s kind of you, Harry. I hope I can be a positive influence.”

“Professor Snape,” said Harry, with a thoughtful look.

“I wouldn’t have thought you would include him as one of those healthy role models.”

“Oh, no, not at all. Quite the contrary, but it just occurred to me that he’s the same sort of bully, and over the past couple of years while practicing Occlumency, I saw into his memories. His father seemed to be a bully as well, though I’ve only seen little bits. Maybe he just doesn’t know any other way.”

“Aye. You see: you go from understanding and empathizing with Aunt Marge, and you leap all the way to a better understanding of Professor Snape. Who knows where this will lead? How soon is she arriving?”

“Wednesday late morning.”

“That’s fine. Do you think you can understand her a bit better now?”

“Yeah, I think so. I’m actually kind of intrigued now to see how the way she acts shows how she was brought up. I’m wondering about something, though.”

“Good, Harry, it’s best that you be thinking these things through. What is it?”

“Why is Uncle Vernon decent now? He’s treating me with respect and he even offered to help as he could in the war against Voldemort. At first I thought that Dumbledore had given him a potion, and he did mention a ‘delightful tea,’ but those can only go so far and for so long, unless they were so strong they would damage him.”

“It really is a puzzle, Harry. I think you’re suspicions are well-founded that Dumbledore gave him a mild potion to make him more receptive to reasons to treat you decently. But I’ve certainly learned from Arabella the limits of potions. They won’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and yet that’s what seems to be happening. I would say that he has the advantage of a child and a loving wife, while Marge only has her dogs, but that didn’t seem to make a difference for the prior fifteen years. It’s as if something were melting away the foulness his upbringing had filled him with, but I’ve almost never seen such a thing before.”

“Almost? Then you have seen it before – when?”

“A little over twenty years ago. Your father and Sirius Black were right obnoxious – popular, in that they were always entertaining and well admired, but arrogant twits as well. Your father was the typical swaggering star athlete and Sirius was the Big Man on Campus – rich, powerful, pureblood with a lineage that went back centuries. Both knew that they were hot stuff and acted it – and they had the style to get away with it.”

Harry looked down, with shame on his face. “Yeah, I, erm, found out about that. Real bullies they were, too. Sirius owned up to it before he was killed.”

“That’s right, Harry, they were. But there are always a few who aren’t entertained by such things and won’t have anything to do with people like that. Your mother was among those, saw right through them. She detested Sirius and your father. No, that’s not quite accurate. Hatred was no part of her character, but she detested the behavior, and would have nothing to do with them, any more than she could avoid it. But then, right at the beginning of their sixth year, your father was injured very badly and spent over three weeks in the Hospital Wing. Your mother did a lot of the caring for him, as she was in the Healer trainee program, just as your friends, Miss Granger and Miss Edgecombe were. Of course, Sirius was around the Hospital Wing a lot of that time, too. By the time your father was released, he was a changed man, not totally at first, but unmistakably. Sirius was starting to change, too, but that was much more subtle and tentative. Your father started developing character and became a really decent young man over that year. With your father’s turnaround, your mother started spending more and more time with him and his group of friends. And the rest, as they say, is history.”

“And no one knows why he changed?”

“No. No one could fail to note it – except Severus Snape, of course – but nobody ever had an adequate explanation. Some said it was just maturation, but it was too profound a change, as with your uncle. Some said it was brain damage from the accident, but he showed no other signs. Someone even suggested that it wasn’t really James, but that somebody really good and kind was using polyjuice potion to substitute for him, but nobody could come up with a decent scenario to explain that. It’s a puzzler still, and maybe it’s happening again. Who can say?”

Harry looked perplexed. He was aware of a number of breakthroughs recently, from Neville and Seamus and most all the DA with their magical abilities to Uncle Vernon and the rest of the Dursleys developing decency. He wondered if something was going on with all that.

“Well, I don’t think we’re going to solve it now, Harry. I’d like to talk with you about Katherine Finnegan.”

Harry blushed. “Erm, what about her?”

Cameron laughed. “I don’t need legilemency to read you on this, Harry. Besides, I’ve talked to Remus about it. He suggested I talk to you a bit more than he did.”

“Well, the kiss would have been fine, even in front of Mrs. Finnegan. That’s not so different than a couple months ago when the Ravenclaws clapped their enchanted Snogging Hat on me and I had to kiss all the Ravenclaw girls before I could take it off. But Katherine had things on her mind that were far more than snogging. It was kind of scary, actually, both because I barely knew her and because I was seeing those thoughts in her mind.”

“You know, Harry, a‘most every man thinks he’d like to know when women are thinking sexual thoughts and just what those thoughts are – you can and you find that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. First off, let’s sort a few things out. It’s not as if you’ve never thought of doing those things before, is it?”

The question embarrassed Harry, but he admitted, “Well, no, of course not.”

“It’s normal and healthy, just as Arabella said a few days ago. And I’ll bet you even entertained some of those thoughts about Katherine once you met her.”

“What is this, some sort of squib legilemency?”

“No, it’s just being a man. Truth be told, it’s probably true for women as well, but I can’t speak for how their minds work on these matters. It’s very normal to see an appealing woman – whether for some reason she is off-limits or not – and think what it would be like to hold her and touch her and kiss her and … well, that’s enough detail for this discussion. I’ll bet you’ve had those thoughts about just about just about every girl at Hogwarts, haven’t you?”

“Well, not the younger ones – they’re pretty much still children, you know.”

“Yes, I do, Harry.”

“You don’t think I’m some sort of pervert for those thoughts?”

“For having sexual thoughts about young women? Not at all. It’s part of Nature’s plan for men and women to be attracted to each other and to want to do those things with each other. And people don’t just have their life-partners names popped out of a fiery goblet. It takes time for a person to get to know enough people and get enough experience with life to know the sort of person he wants to be his exclusive partner. Having those thoughts is just sort of a way to try out different options – forming the intent to act on them is where we go wrong. I’m sure you’ve fantasized about being a professional quidditch player, or an auror, or a teacher, and on and on. The options for our lives are immense and our fantasies help us sort out which ones work for us, whether it’s career fantasies or sexual fantasies.”

“But don’t fantasies have to be grounded in reality?”

“Not really, but if we are going to act on them, we need to compare what our fantasies are with the real world and be sure that we do act in a way that values others’ concerns adequately. For instance, there are not many positions open for aurors, although the Ministry has started a recruitment and training push. There may simply not be any positions open when you are of an age to apply. Or take Professor Snape: he has applied every year since he became a teacher for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, and he’s right that he knows his stuff in that area, but Dumbledore wants him to be teaching Potions instead, and he accepts Dumbledore’s decision gracefully – more or less. There is nothing wrong with him continuing to request the job, so long as he doesn’t do such things as eliminate the competition. Similarly, we may feel that a person is everything we want in our lives, but she may not want us or she may have other commitments that prevent a relationship from developing. There may or may not be things we can do to bring the relationship about, but in the end, we have to deal with the real world, whatever that presents to us. And that brings us back to Katherine. You caught one of her sexual fantasies when you looked into her mind.”

“Just a fantasy?” said Harry, “Hmm, I felt like it was more, but then, hmm, she was fantasizing about me?”

“What more could it be? She didn’t act on it. You are an entirely normal object of fantasies, Harry. You’re a young, strong, handsome athlete, you’re very good at all the things you set your mind to, you are an undeniable hero and defender of the good and yet you break the rules enough to have that ‘bad boy’ charm going for you. And for Katherine in particular, you were a knight in shining armor, swooping in to rescue her from certain death. Her emotions were very fluid and agitated, and you represented protection and support and adventure.”

“Somehow analyzing it makes me feel less special. All those things are about me, but they aren’t me, you know what I mean?”

“I do exactly. We have all these attributes which pertain to us and which are our face to the world. But when it comes to personal relationships, we don’t want to be taken for any of those things, but just for ourselves. That’s why I wanted you to call me ‘Cameron’ rather than ‘Reverend.’ ‘Reverend’ is my title and my job, but it is not me. Our relationship needs to be two men talking about what universal love is all about, not a preacher laying down authority to a novitiate.”

“So what is this saying about my legilemency, because I thought sure that the message I saw in her mind was ‘I want to …’ erm, … ‘do him.’”

“Well, remember that legilemency does not see every detail of the mind. There are of course limits. Katherine was no doubt thinking exactly what you thought she was, but she probably also was indulging fantasy because she knew that the circumstances would in no way allow her to act on those thoughts. With her family around, she was in sort of a cocoon, where she could not act sexually, and that freed her to think very sexually, without consideration of the drawbacks and limitations that sexual involvement would bring.”

“That makes sense. Kind of like when I’ve fantasized about hurting Draco Malfoy terribly when he has pulled some stunt, when I know that I wouldn’t really have the chance to do so.”

“I want you to understand something deeper, Harry. People are a mass of contradictory thoughts and feelings, very complex and ever-changing. Don’t take anyone as just the veneer that you see at one given moment, or even the most commonly presented persona. There is always more than meets the eye – even an eye like yours that can see within the mind. You must understand that learning to treat people with love means taking into account the whole conflicting mass of emotions that comprise their psyches. If you had been able to get Katherine off by herself this weekend, she may in her emotional state have done all those things she was thinking, but I’m quite certain that both of you would have been hurt by it and been regretful, as she would have been acting out of extreme gratitude and infatuation and you would have been taking advantage of her emotional state. Learning to love others means that you cannot be a predator, an opportunist exploiting their momentary weaknesses for your own gain. Of course, when you are fighting, you should exploit your opportunities: then it’s kill or be killed, and I’d rather like to see you around for awhile. Okay, Harry?”

“Okay, Cameron, I think I understand what you’re saying.”

“Are you ready for Aunt Marge?”

“Not really, but I’ll try thinking about what makes her do the things she does.”

“It’s the old saying, Harry, ‘Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes’ – listen to what must be behind her saying and doing the things she does, and with understanding will come empathy, then sympathy, and then …”

“Let’s just aim for understanding right now, Cameron.”

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Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #10  
Old November 9th, 2006, 8:55 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 9 Hello, Aunt Marge

Uncle Vernon took Wednesday off so that he could meet his sister at the station and smooth the transition to having her in the house. Over breakfast, Harry and the Dursleys discussed how to make Aunt Marge's visit acceptable to all. Harry tried to ask Uncle Vernon about his upbringing, but it was shrugged off.

"I don't really remember all that much, to tell the truth, Harry, er, rather, Potter - I'd better get back into practice just calling you Potter again. I remember Smeltings very fondly, of course. I stayed over many of the holidays there, although I can’t recall now why, but it was always fun to have the run of the place. As for home life, let’s see: I can remember Marge and me playing pretend games together, but that's about it."

"What kind of games?" pressed Harry.

Vernon was clearly uncomfortable with this line of thought and tightened his face into a remarkable likeness of a disgruntled English bulldog. “PRETEND – small children do that, or have you forgotten!? Is this necessary, Potter?” said Uncle Vernon gruffly. Harry couldn’t tell if this reaction was Uncle Vernon still ‘getting into character’ for Marge’s arrival, or if he was that uncomfortable discussing his childhood.

“Uncle Vernon, we all want this visit to come off without a hitch. I know I neither want to interfere with your relationship with your sister, nor to lose my temper. She can be very trying to me, you know, and Reverend MacBoon has impressed on me how coming to understand how she came to be like she is builds empathy for that person.”

"Oh, very well then, let me think," said Vernon as he stroked his large jaw and looked up at the corner of the kitchen to search his memory. "She's four years older, so she would take the lead. It seems she often wanted to play war games, but we wouldn't be fighting actually; we'd be hiding in foxholes or trenches. Of course, it was actually under the bed or in a cupboard or a wardrobe or the attic or such, sometimes even under the house. We'd have to be really quiet so the Nazis wouldn't get us. Or sometimes, we played Battle of Britain and pretend we were a London family trying to avoid the bomber raids by staying in the dark. We'd whisper as quietly as possible about the terrible things that might happen if the Gerries found us."

"That’s odd,” said Petunia.

“Now you’re in on this, too!?” snapped Vernon.

“Not really, but it is interesting. You’ve told me so little about your childhood. You know so much more about mine. But what seemed odd was that you’d have to stay silent while playing Battle of Britain.”

“Why is that odd?” asked Harry.

“The Battle of Britain was an air war – the Germans tried to bomb us into submission and we used our fighter planes and anti-aircraft artillery to knock their planes out. My parents – your grandparents – told me all about it. They had to turn off all the lights and fires so that the Germans would have trouble locating cities – navigation and radar wasn’t near what it is today – but they didn’t have to be silent. The German air crews certainly couldn’t hear people from half a mile up.”

“Petunia,” replied Vernon, “what you’re saying makes sense, but I’m telling the game as we played it.”

“I see," said Harry. "I wonder if Marge had a reason she wanted the two of you to keep silent and out of sight. Don't you remember outdoor games or play?"

"No, not at all; outdoors was always work. Stepfather thought it was shameful for a person to be idle or unproductive at any time - wise thought there. But, you know, I can't even remember what he looked like - he died my last year at Smeltings. My mother got rid of all pictures of him, burned them - said it was showing due respect. That's all I can recall, Potter, and all I care to. Don’t push it any further: I really am quite uncomfortable about it. Now as for the visit, if you need to get away, use the cue word, or if you can't work it in, do something we can punish you for. We'll send you to your room and you can do what you need to. Mostly we'll figure it out as we go. We know that there are times you have to make calls and that there are limits to patience. Okay?"

"Sure, Uncle Vernon. I can’t thank you enough for working with me on this."

"It’s for us, too. We don’t want problems like we had before. Besides, it seems you’re helping to save lives and this is a small contribution we can make to that. Well, then, does anyone want to go to the station with me to pick up Marge?"

Dudley was already ready to go. After all, it was worth an extra twenty-note to meet her there. Aunt Petunia wanted to do additional cleaning. Harry did not even need to say that he didn't care to go. Harry was surprised to find that even though he had misgivings about her visit, he was looking forward to it. Cameron kept telling him about learning to love even the unlovable, but so far Harry had trouble imagining what that was like. He loved his friends, and really most people he knew, though differently. But those were people who were nice to be around, not someone who so delighted in digging at him. What would it be like to love someone like Marge? Harry shuddered at some of the interpretations those words led to, and then he remembered that Cameron said that the love he was learning was not affection, but a choice to care about that person. Harry was going to force himself to care for Marge.

Harry spent the time while Uncle Vernon was away making sure that any wizarding things were well out of sight, except, of course, his wands, which he never went without, and Hedwig. Harry thought about sending her to Ron or Hermione, but then figured that even though an owl is a very unusual pet for a muggle, it is a pet after all, and as a dog breeder Marge should react well to someone who keeps a pet – not that it made any difference on her last summer visit.

After about an hour and a half, Harry heard the car in the driveway.

“You’d better come down and make an appearance, Harry,” called Aunt Petunia.

“Of course,” said Harry.

Marge came in larger and louder than ever, with her favorite bulldog Ripper tucked into an arm like some other woman might carry a Yorkie. Harry’s memory had dimmed in the intervening years, and he had come to remember her as a more typical person, so he was surprised.

“Petunia,” bellowed Marge, bumping cheeks in an affectation of a kiss. “You look lovely. The years are really adding character. My, you are fortunate to have two such handsome men living with you. Dudley’s become so solid, and I barely recognized Vernon for the thick head of hair. What’d you do, put him on Minoxidil? All you need now is a bottle of Viagra and you’d have the perfect man.” She bellowed in laughter at what she thought was very witty, very adult humour.

Harry could see although Aunt Petunia’s face was locked in a smile, her teeth were grinding as this was being said. He was very tempted to use his legilemency to see the real attitude of each of them, but decided against it.

“Marge!” replied Petunia. “So lovely to see you again. I’m so glad that you could stay for such a nice long visit.”

“Yes, yes. I hate to be so close to the city so long, but the construction of the new kennels makes the place unlivable. Colonel Fubster was such a sport to take the rest of the dogs for me. Of course, I couldn’t leave my dear Ripper behind.”

She hoisted Ripper like a toy. Ripper looked over Marge’s shoulder at Harry and began to growl. Only then did Marge notice Harry.

“What are you doing there, boy!” she barked.

“Just here to greet you, Aunt Marge,” replied Harry calmly.

“Probably expecting some kind of a handout, I’ll wager. I can see the makings of a mooch. Well, there’ll be none from me. I’m no mollycoddle for your kind, like Vernon and Petunia. You’d better be grateful to them for taking you in!”

Harry smiled. “Oh, I am, Aunt Marge. I appreciate this home very much.”

Marge eyed him suspiciously. “You’re up to something. You’ve always been an ungrateful, scurrilous brat. I’ll have my eye on you. Go get my bags from the car. Be snappy.”

“Yes, Aunt Marge, I’d be glad to,” replied Harry, heading toward the front door. Vernon started to hand Harry the keys to open the trunk.

“Vernon!” Marge bellowed. “You can’t give car keys to that sort. He’ll be stealing the car and creating all sorts of mayhem in a flash. Let Dudley take care of it.”

“Now Marge,” said Vernon, “he’s had the keys before and never taken the car. He’s really been growing up into a better sort.”

Marge was hearing nothing of that. “Vernon, you’ve always been too soft with the boy. You can’t make a purebred out of a mutt. He may toe the line long enough to get something he wants, but mark my words, he’ll be off terrorizing the area before long! You can trust him with the keys when my stuff’s not in the car, but so long as it is, I’d rather Dudley had them.”

Vernon handed the keys to Dudley, rolling his eyes as he did so, though out of Marge’s sight. Harry had to suppress his laughter.

Harry couldn’t resist the opportunity to goad Aunt Marge. “Oh, there’s no need to come out, Dudley. I don’t need keys to open a car.”

Aunt Marge’s eyes bugged out. “I knew it – I knew he was a common thief!”

Dudley’s eyes also bugged out and he looked around at his parents to let him know what he should do.

“Potter!” barked Uncle Vernon. “We’ll not have OUR car opened any way but with the key! Dudley, go on out there and open it up.”

As they closed the front door and headed to the car, Dudley shook his head. “Y’know, Harry, I always knew she was kind of abrupt and rude with you. I just didn’t notice how bad she could be.”

“Oh, this is nothing so far. I think you’re only seeing it now because we’re friends now.”

“Are we, Harry?” asked Dudley genuinely. “Are we friends now? I didn’t exactly treat you so well for quite a few years.”

“I think we are. You were a pain alright, but it really was the way you were taught. I can see that now, and we’ve been doing okay for over a year.”

“I like that,” said Dudley, extending his hand. “Friends, then.”

Harry shook his hand and smiled. “Let’s hope Aunt Marge doesn’t see that.”

“So what if she does? I’m her only nephew – what’s she going to do? And I’d rather be friends with you anyway.”

Harry smiled inwardly. This made up for any nasty thing Marge had said. “Let’s get the bags then. Or, rather, I’d better get them – Marge wouldn’t understand you helping me with a job.”

“You know, this play-acting could actually be some fun, couldn’t it?” said Dudley.

“Yeah, I reckon it could, if things don’t get too tense. But I don’t just want to fool her – I want to figure out what makes her tick,” said Harry.

“Well, if you insist. Sometimes it seems to me it’s better to just get past something. There may not be an explanation.”

Harry grabbed two of the suitcases and lugged them into the house.

“Lazybones! What are you doing with only two of them!?” shouted Marge, sloshing her cup of coffee onto the hardwood floors of the hall, making Petunia cringe.

“My arms aren’t big enough to carry more than that, at least without scuffing them, Aunt Marge,” explained Harry.

“I’ll take none of your sass, boy. See that you don’t mar my bags. Be quick about it then!”

“Yes, Aunt Marge,” said Harry gently, as he headed up the stairs.

“Watch that tone, you hooligan!”

Harry felt like he could use house elf lessons to deal with this. “Love is patient,” said Harry to himself.

Harry had hoped that Marge would be uninterested in seeing him and Dudley box, but to his disappointment – and Petunia’s visible relief, which amused Harry – she insisted on coming along. She made a point of giving Dudley pointers, even though he rolled his eyes at the things she was saying. She praised Dudley’s massive physique, which was clearly more solid than before he started boxing, but was still sheathed in the excess pounds the Dursleys so readily acquired. She openly ridiculed Harry’s flat etched chest and abdomen, and his slender but muscled arms and legs. Her eyes squinted up with glee at the prospects of Dudley flattening his much smaller cousin. As Harry dodged punch after punch, she shouted insults at his cowardice for not standing still to fight. She cried foul whenever Harry landed a fist. When Dudley took a punch well, it was because of the Dursley toughness; when Harry took a punch well, it was because he had no brains to rattle.

“Love is not easily angered,” thought Harry, consciously fighting to hold onto that thought.

Barely a half hour into the spar, his scar began to ache with warnings of a new round of attacks. He got Dudley into a clench and whispered through his mouthguard that he had to make a call.

“The mirror’s in your bag, isn’t it?” asked Dudley as he pretended to try to break free.

Harry nodded.

“I’ll punch at your face when we separate – say you got something in your eye and take your bag to the locker room.”

Harry nodded again and let go of Dudley. As he stepped back, Dudley’s fist came across Harry’s face, just grazing the forehead.

“Ahh! My eye!” shouted Harry, covering the eye with one hand and spitting out the mouthguard into the other. “There’s something in it – I’ve got to go wash it out.”

Harry ran to get his gym bag.

“Hah! What an obvious ruse. You’re the referee, Vernon, don’t let him go. The boy obviously couldn’t take any more so he’s running away like the coward he is,” yelled Marge. Then she took on a babyish, singsong voice. “Ickle baby Potter, can’t handle any pain. He has to wun away and cwy-y-y!”

The voice was too reminiscent of Bellatrix LeStrange at the Ministry of Magic. It pushed Harry beyond all his good intentions and his face contorted in rage as he kneeled by his gym bag and placed his hands on his wands.

Uncle Vernon stepped over to him, at first shocked and afraid, but then regaining his composure. Loudly he said, “I can see in your eye, Potter, that there’s something causing you pain. I’ll call a break for you to take care of it.”

Harry continued to breathe deeply in his anger, so Vernon added, only loud enough for Harry to hear, “Who d’you want to be like, Harry?”

Harry closed his eyes and nodded. Anger and revenge was Voldemort’s way. He’d rather take the right path, that of love and forgiveness, even for those who don’t ask for it or even understand that they ought to do.

“Thanks, Ref. I’ll be right back.”

As Harry ran to the locker room, made sure it was empty, and called Remus, he could still hear Marge’s taunting that he was running like a little baby from the beating he was getting.

After reporting to Remus the impending attacks, Remus asked, “Harry, are you okay?”

“It’s just my Aunt Marge. She’s being, uh, …”

“She’s being Aunt Marge. You’ve told me about her. Take a deep breath. Call me later. I’ve got to send out squads. Bye.”

Harry smiled. It was certainly calming just to talk to Remus. He would have to remember how soothing it could be to take a break with someone who cares.

The rest of the week was much of the same. Marge never missed an opportunity to malign Harry or his parents. He was annoyed but kept his temper. This was made easier by the Dursleys very actively intervening regularly, insisting that St. Brutus’s counselor had demanded that Harry be given lots of time in his room to reflect on proper behavior. Petunia sent him several times on meaningless errands when she felt she would have lost her temper at Marge’s conduct if she had been Harry. Still it was a welcome respite to have another session with Cameron Friday afternoon and then to leave for Ernie McMillan’s house after Friday’s sparring. Of course, Marge was told that he was being sent to a disciplinary boot camp run by St. Brutus’s.

Before he left, Harry sent letters to Ron and Hermione and told Hedwig where he would be when it was time to come back to him. She hooted indignantly at the suggestion that she had to be told how to find him. Harry smiled and ruffled her feathers over her proud yet affectionate manner.

“You and I have been through a lot, haven’t we Hedwig?”

Uncle Vernon took Harry in his car, saying that he had to get Harry to the bus for the boot camp. When Marge said that she would like to go on the ride, too, Vernon insisted that the crowd at the special bus stop was too rough, so they only allowed men. When they were down the block, Harry thanked him.

Vernon smiled. “It’s good for me, too, Potter – a pint and some football down at the pub would be a welcome break. I love my sister, but everyone needs some time away on occasion.”

Harry thought that was one of the wisest things he had ever heard his uncle say. “Aunt Petunia must be feeling that way, as well. She doesn’t have work to go to.”

“Good point, Potter. I’ll make sure she gets out this weekend. Be careful.”

And with that, Harry disapparated from the passenger seat, and guided himself by Ernie’s wand to the McMillans’ drawing room.


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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #11  
Old November 10th, 2006, 11:00 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 10 - The McMillans

“Harry, how are you doing?” enthused Ernie, extending his hand.

Harry shook his hand. “Great, How ‘bout you, Ernie?”

“Just fine. Let me introduce my parents.”

He turned Harry around to where a witch and wizard, somewhat older than Remus, somewhat younger than Arthur and Molly Weasley, were smiling benignly toward him.

“Dad, Mum, Harry Potter. Harry, my mother and father.”

“Pleased to meet you again, Mr. Potter,” said Mr. McMillan, pumping his hand enthusiastically.

“Ah, yes,” said Harry. “I remember now. You were at the train station last year, enthusiastic about the Defense Association.”

“Exactly,” he replied. “Nothing like a mutual study group to really improve the learning.”

Then Mrs. McMillan extended her hand delicately. “Delighted to meet you, Mr. Potter.” Her eyes twinkled warmly, something akin to the way Harry’s mother’s eyes did in the photographs he had of her.

He stammered a second, before clumsily taking her hand. “Oh, erm, uh, oh nice to meet you, too, but please, both of you, call me Harry.”

“Alright, then, Harry, if you’ll call us Iphigenia and Porphyrio,” said Iphigenia McMillan.

Harry blinked. “Wow, being raised with muggles, those’ll take a little getting used to. Forgive me if I revert to ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ alright, uh, Iphigenia?”

“Of course, Harry,” she said, smilingly warmly. “We were both only too aware of how odd our names were for muggles when we got around to naming Ernie.”

“Ernie’s told us all about that battle at the bank last month,” said Porphyrio. “Too bad you had to miss the real action – he says you’re a good fighter in a duel. But it sounds like Ernie did magnificently leading people to get the job done with minimum casualties – for our side that is.”

Porphyrio’s enthusiastic – even blind – pride in his only child reminded Harry of Amos Diggory talking about Cedric before the Quidditch World Cup, or of the Dursleys speaking of Dudley for that matter.

“Dad,” said Ernie, somewhat under his breath. “I wasn’t the only one organizing the students, and Harry’s part was indispensable.”

“Ah, well, so you say, Ernie, but it wasn’t a leadership role, was it? When they needed someone the others would follow, they turned to you, didn’t they, Ern?”

“I suppose, but Professor Weasley and Ron Weasley were up there too.”

“Well, there you go – the new acting Minister of Magic and his son. But you didn’t need political pull – they turned to you just for your leadership and skill.”

Ernie rolled his eyes, but Harry smiled. “Everything I heard about Ernie’s work was brilliant, Porphyrio, but that’s no surprise really. He’s been a shining comet in the DA. I’ve learned loads from him and we’re all so much stronger working together.”

Ernie looked sidelong at Harry but said nothing.

Iphigenia, who was no doubt used to her husband’s doting on their only child, listened to Harry’s response with appreciation and a bit of amusement. Then she smiled kindly toward him and said, “I’m sorry that you had to apparate, Harry, I know it’s still very new and frightening to those who have just taken their exams, but we felt we just had to detach from the Floo Network – all those killings and attempts you know. We had to cut off as many routes into the home as possible. We only listed the anti-apparition protections long enough to let you come here.” There was something about her manner that made Harry feel terribly protective.

“Oh, I don’t mind apparating at all; in fact I prefer it. The Floo Network makes me queasy. But is it really going to be helpful to withdraw from it?”

“We don’t know. We talked about it. More than half of wizards can’t apparate dependably, so we figure we’re cutting down the number who could attack here.”

“But we’re not all that far from Diagon Alley here. Surely they could get here by brooms or muggle transport or even walking.”

“What you say makes sense, Harry, but somehow we feel so much more vulnerable when someone can just step into a chimney, say our name and be right in our drawing room. And the dementors can’t get through now without someone letting them in – if a door has to be broken at least we have some warning.”

Porphyrio nodded as she said all this. “Harry, we’re just not fighters the way Ernie and you are. We have to try to use charms to protect ourselves until the aurors can come. The house is decently protected, and we try not to attract unpleasant attention.”

“You know that having me over attracts unwanted attention. Wouldn’t it be better, then, if I left?” asked Harry.

“We talked that over with Dumbledore when he suggested we invite you. He seemed to think that with Ernie’s participation in the Defense Association, we’re already targets, and that you wouldn’t be adding that much to the danger.”

Harry thought about that and said, “I’m not sure if that should be comforting or terrifying.”

“It’s time, though, that we put our anti-apparation charm back up – we removed it for you, but we feel better having it up,” said Porphyrio. “It’s been a real comfort having a wizard around who’s mastered the Patronus. We never saw the need to work on it before, and now that we need it – well, Ernie’s trying to teach it to us, but it’s not an easy spell, you know.”

“So I’ve heard,” said Harry.

“Dad, it was Harry that taught me. He learned it before any of us and he was the first to show us all in the lethifold pit.”

“Oh, yes, I remember you saying so now. He’s the one that had a cock-up with his. Yours came off without a hitch, then, didn’t it, Ern?”

“Well, yeah, but I didn’t have another wizard hexing me while I was in there.”

“Ernie, you’re just too modest,” beamed his father.

Harry just smiled. It was good to see such familial pride, and it took a lot of pressure off of him to be the champion.

The weekend went as smoothly as could be expected, given the repeated occasions Harry had to break off from whatever he was doing to call Remus about renewed attacks. Every one of them reinforced the McMillans’ intention to withdraw from most contacts with the wizarding world until the war blew over.

Saturday afternoon, they went to Kew Gardens and Mrs. McMillan explained about all the different plants there. On occasion she would whisper about magical properties, but mostly she talked about non-magical qualities. She was like a botanical encyclopedia, except that she appreciated the beauty of both the individual plants and their interactions with each other and other living things. It was a beautiful view of life, thought Harry, to appreciate all the living things for themselves and in their context.

“Oh, Harry, I’m sorry,” said Iphigenia. “How I prattle. I’m afraid I was well-placed as a Ravenclaw: we gather so much detail and tend to ramble on at length. I should be more merciful to you broad-brush Gryffindors.”

“On the contrary,” said Harry, “even though I doubt I’ll be able to retain even half of what you’re telling me, I find it all quite fascinating. So often in school we see things in isolation, but that’s not what lives are about, is it? Interconnection describes life far more than separation.”

“Exactly, Harry,” she enthused. “Have you ever really seen a forest? Not just individual trees, particular plants or rocks or animals, or the surface, but the whole forest – the whole system as it works together. In a healthy forest, every part has left its traces on all the other parts, and when something is added or taken away, it causes ripples of disruption you can see through the rest of the forest.”

“I’ve never had that chance, Iphigenia. On occasion, I hear Hagrid talking about the Forest at Hogwarts like that, but I’ve never had a chance to see it as an entity in itself. Next time I’m there, I’ll ask him to show me the connections between things.”

“You do that, Harry, or maybe Ernie could take you through. He understands the forests, too. We often get out to the countryside all together.”

“I didn’t know that,” said Harry, as much to himself as to anyone. Harry realized that although he had often had dealings with Ernie, he never really had gotten to know Ernie. It seemed a shame, he thought, as he watched Ernie examining insects on the bark of a tree. Ernie clearly had depths Harry had not had the chance to discover. He could be officious, but there was more to him than that.

Porphyrio spoke up proudly, “Ernie’s thorough, he is. It stood him in good stead in the OWLs – 12, you know, mostly outstanding. We figure he’s at the top of the class among the boys – good shot at Head Boy, he has.”

“Dad, sometimes they look for other qualities for Head Boy. They might not even go for a prefect.” Ernie glanced over at Harry and arched his eyebrows knowingly.

“Aah, but Ernie, you’re a leader, too, you’ve shown it,” said Porphyrio enthusiastically.

“Okay, Dad,” Ernie said indulgently.

On Sunday morning, Harry and Ernie went for a long run around the area, including running by The Leaky Cauldron to try to see it as muggles see it. But like looking at an optical illusion after you have already seen the trick, they just couldn’t force themselves to overlook it the muggle way. They cleaned up afterward and Iphigenia invited Harry to come to church services with them and Harry agreed. He apologized for not having a suit or other appropriate attire, as he had seen his relatives wear when they went to church on Easter.

“Ernie’ll loan you a shirt and some slacks,” said Porphyrio. “He’s just a little bigger than you. Not that anyone’d mind you coming in your jeans, mind you, the point is to be there; but somehow it focuses the mind to take a little time to get ready for church – you’re making it something special. And today’s a very special day – Iphigenia’s singing the anthem.”

“Are you?” asked Harry to Iphigenia. “Erm, I hate to admit such ignorance, but I’m not sure what an anthem is, other than the various national songs.”

Iphigenia smiled. “That’s fine, Harry, don’t be embarrassed. In fact, I’ve noticed your willingness to admit the things you don’t know and to ask. It’s a splendid trait. As for an anthem, most people have only vague notions of many things associated with church nowadays. An anthem is essentially a dramatic song, but when we use the word in church, we usually mean any song that’s sung during the communion or the collection.”

“Um, communion?” asked Harry.

“Oh, there’s a lot to explain there,” said Ernie. “It’s a sort of a ritual meal – just a wafer or bit of bread and a sip of wine really – where we affirm our belief in Jesus.”

“Oh, okay, I’ve been learning from Reverend MacBoon about Jesus’s teaching about love.”

“Well, there’s a lot of history and meaning that goes into it all, Harry,” said Ernie. “I’ll let you know what to do, and you can just listen and learn.”

“Sounds good,” said Harry.

Harry’s first church service was a very interesting experience. He loved the stained glass and the candles and lights. The choir was beautiful and the music inspiring. There were books in racks on the backs of the benches, which Ernie called pews. Harry looked in the books. He was fascinated to see how very many songs there were in the hymnal. Then he looked at the Bible and tried to read some of it, but found himself confused by the odd names and strange ways of saying things. Ernie showed him the Old and New Testaments and the various indexes and study aids. Harry looked and found the scripture about love that Cameron had read to him. He commented that it had sounded different before. Ernie explained it was probably a different translation. Then the service started and they all stood. Harry felt like they had to stand up and sit down quite a bit, and didn’t understand what the point of that was.

He loved the first song – “O Brother Man” – and memorized the first verse since he didn’t know how to follow the music:
“O Brother Man, hold to thy heart thy brother;
where mercy dwells, the Peace of God is there;
To worship rightly is to love each other:
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.”
Harry wanted to hang onto those thoughts – they were very comforting. Not so with the second song, which Ernie whispered was a communion preparation song; “Sons of God” - the title was fine, but then they all sang with zest, “Eat his Body, Drink his Blood, and we’ll sing a song of love;” it really freaked Harry out. He decided that he had better keep that reaction to himself and ask Cameron about it later.

Ernie told Harry to come with him during communion but not to take the bread or wine because Harry hadn’t actually joined a church. As they did so, Harry listened and watched as Iphigenia sang, “Let there be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me.” He missed some of the words, but heard the plea for peace – so close, so immediate, so personal. Iphigenia sang it like it was just her personal private statement, and yet it was thrilling and powerful at the same time. Harry remembered Dumbledore saying what a powerful magic music had and started to understand – unlike phoenix song, which had strengthened him so many times when he had needed it, this music worked with the words to make them all the more powerful. When she was done, Ernie reached over and pushed Harry’s chin up and Harry realized that he had been standing there with his mouth open. Ernie grinned at him.

“That was brilliant,” whispered Harry.

“She’ll love knowing you said so,” whispered Ernie. “She always says that each person has his own ways to make the world a better place, and singing is one of hers. But then she worries that she’s not really adding much to happiness with her singing.”

“How could anyone think that? Doesn’t she appreciate how wonderful she sings?”

“Y’know, Harry, there’re a lot of people who never really appreciate that they are doing excellent things. And a lot of others who think they’re a lot better at things than they are.”

That afternoon, they went to an Indian restaurant and ordered several types of dishes: curries, tandoori, saffron rice and other things. Harry had never had such food before, at least not fresh. When he was growing up, sometimes the Dursleys would have leftovers for him when they had gone out, and they would give them to him all mashed together in a folded cardboard container. Being able to taste them separately and fresh made all the difference in the world. Harry told Iphigenia how beautifully she sang, and she smiled graciously and thanked him. Harry felt like he was seeing a dawning sun when she smiled; he even had to catch his breath.

They chattered away for quite some time but generally avoided talking about the war, even after Harry had to run and lock himself in the bathroom to call Remus about additional attacks. When he returned to the table, even though they all knew why he had run to the bathroom, Porphyrio said “Curry’ll do that to you if you’re not used to it.” Iphigenia scolded him lovingly, but laughed along with the men. Harry had a genuine touch of sadness when it came time to return to Privet Drive, but he was grateful for the opportunity to spend some time with such a happy family.

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #12  
Old November 11th, 2006, 7:42 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 11 Marge Will Be Marge

The next week continued much the same as the previous one had been. At least once a day, sometimes as many as four, Harry had to call Remus to send out aurors. He learned that additional forces were being added - not aurors, since training would take too long, but sorcerers capable of holding their own in a wizard fight and most importantly willing to do so. Many of them were unable to do the Patronus Charm, so they always had to be paired with a witch or wizard who could, since most attacks included dementors. Harry got the impression that they were being stretched very thin. The goblins of Gringotts had taken to patrolling Diagon Alley at night and where there were shadows and Knockturn Alley all the time (it was always a shady place, in more ways than one). The twins and their friend Lee Jordan, who had returned from a year’s post-school traveling and decided to work with them now that Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes was well-established, would take turns patrolling Diagon Alley in the sunny times. They were often joined by sorcerers who had moved to Diagon Alley from their more isolated homes in the countryside. Diagon Alley had become recognized as the safest place to be, so apartment space was being taken up quickly. That meant leaving businesses unattended, although many used magically expanded spaces in their apartments in Diagon Alley to move their business equipment in. Still, people did not like being away from their homes and not every sorcerer was made for living so close to others. After all, that was why they had chosen homes away from most others - sorcerers tended to be idiosyncratic, downright queer in fact.

"Remus," asked Harry after teams had been sent out on one occasion, "The McMillans have cut themselves off from the Floo Network. Are many others doing that?"

"I'm afraid so, Harry. It's understandable, but it's making responses more difficult. Not many wizards can apparate the distances and with the accuracy you can. Especially the auxiliaries are people who had previously relied on the Floo Network to go long distances. Without being able to use that, they are often having to apparate 5 or 10 or even twenty times to get to the more distant sites. An extra 2-5 minutes has made the difference between life and death in several instances. We're now trying to assign teams according to transportation concerns."

"Hasn't this been explained to those who are dropping off the system?" asked Harry.

"Of course it has, but Harry, you haven’t seen the level of panic out there. Most people know that they couldn't possibly defend themselves against either a dementor or a Death Eater. You have to understand that most people didn't bother to learn fighting skills while they were at Hogwarts, and even fewer learned them afterwards. In olden days, wizards dueling and battling was common enough that every sorcerer would learn to do so, just as every muggle would learn to use a sword or other weapon. But now people have gotten used to the idea that the Ministry is supposed to handle the occasional rogues and criminals. Of course, under normal circumstances it could, but with a vigorous terror campaign of sneak attacks, the Ministry is doing all it can to respond, and is only possibly doing so because you are giving us the advance information."

"Can't people learn to defend themselves now?" asked Harry.

"Many are starting to, but the attacks only started a few weeks ago. It took the DA students months to become competent and they had the best teacher around."

Harry smiled modestly. "Oh, I don't know about that."

"Well, I do," responded Remus seriously and earnestly. "I had a chance this weekend to be with the Weasleys and asked Ron and Ginny and the twins to show me what they could do. I was truly amazed, Harry. They are all fighting at auror-level and beyond. I'm no slouch – we Marauders got into our scrapes and had to know ways to get out of them - and any one of them could take three of me. None of them had any doubt that the reason they had done so well was you."

"I had no idea."

"Well, get used to it: a special training school is being set up for the auxiliaries and as a refresher for the aurors. Mrs. Longbottom is coming out of retirement to head it, but she insisted on having you coaching as well, at least part of the time. She said she had never seen someone who could build practical skills so quickly."

"Wow, I’m honored. Well, I've said I would do what I can. When do I go?"

"We'll let you know, probably after this coming weekend. We may bring in as many of the DA team leaders as well to give them a head start on next year."

"Right, then - no pressure, eh?"

Remus smiled. "None at all."

On Friday evening before Harry and Dudley were to get ready to box, Harry came down the stairs to get a box off a high shelf for Petunia. He had tucked his wands and his decoy drumsticks into the rear waistband of his jeans. He passed by Marge, who couldn't allow herself to pass by the opportunity to harass Harry. She started in on how slovenly and thuggish he looked. When he smiled benignly at her as he passed to get the box down, she grabbed the wands and drumsticks and began a tirade about how drummers in general and popular band drummers in particular are all drug addicts and thugs and Harry shouldn't be allowed to participate in such activities.

Harry felt his anger erupting within him and nearly used either Accio or Expelliarmus charms to retrieve the wands. However, he realized quickly that this would require a visit from a ministry wizard to modify her memory. So long as the wands were not being damaged, Harry could control himself and act only if he had to. Marge was ranting as she waved the sticks and wands. This drew Vernon into the room as well.

Just as Marge was threatening to throw the sticks in the yard for Ripper to chase (unlikely, thought Harry, as the dog had gotten so old and fat, he barely waddled), she waved them as if she were throwing them. Suddenly one of the wands erupted in an enormous blast of sparks and flame, singeing most of Ripper's hair off and melting the foam insert of Ripper's bed. Finally something had made Marge be quiet.

"Ah, um, erm, ah, um, Harry Potter!" said his uncle in great but feigned anger as he took the wands and sticks from his stunned sister. "You and your band equipment! I thought you had strict instructions to keep the pyrotechnic drumstick locked up until you were to use it in a show."

"What!?" said Harry, then catching on. "Oh, erm, I had just been checking the firing mechanism when Aunt Petunia called me. I obviously forgot to put it away before I came to help."

"Well, take it then, and lock it up straight away. We don't want any more accidents, do we?"

"No, sir, Uncle Vernon."

Harry took the wands upstairs and stayed there until time for boxing. When he thought about Marge taking his wands, he found himself getting very angry indeed. Even not knowing how special his wands are to him, she had violated his personal property when he had it on him. This was very offensive indeed. But he also found himself feeling sorry for Aunt Marge, for the misery that must be inside her to be so belligerent and hateful, of the fear she must live with to be so judgmental. He also felt sorry for Ripper, who had only been mean because he had been taught to be so, and who was now nearly bald because of his owner's ignorance.

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #13  
Old November 14th, 2006, 3:42 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 12 The Lovegoods

After Friday's boxing, again interrupted by Marge's verbal abuse, which was by now seeming comical to Harry, Harry again got his things together to visit a friend and Uncle Vernon drove him away from the house so he could apparate. This weekend he was going to visit Luna Lovegood and her father. He had hoped when it was arranged that they would be able to get together with Ron and Ginny, since the Lovegoods lived so near The Burrow, but all the Weasleys were either staying at Grimmauld Place with Molly and Arthur or in Diagon Alley with the twins. Harry apparated to the Lovegood kitchen where he found Mr. Lovegood with a mug of tea sitting at the butcher block table that they both prepared and ate food on.

"Harry, it's good to see you again," exclaimed Mr. Lovegood. "How are things?"

"Oddly, Mr. Lovegood, pretty good," replied Harry, "I mean, I keep training like I'm going to fight with Voldemort (Mr. Lovegood flinched) at any time, I'm getting frequent stabbing pains in this scar telling me of each decision to try to kill more people, and I'm concerned that wizard society is going to fall apart from this terror campaign. But for some reason, I have been getting an ever more positive outlook."

"That's wonderful, Harry. If you're going to be involved in a fight, it's best to have a notion that you are fighting for something."

"Maybe that's it - I'm learning to appreciate people more, and as I do, I have more of a sense of the fight being worthwhile."

"Say, I was hoping that maybe you could write a couple more articles: something about people letting fear get the best of them, and maybe an insider’s view of the Battle of Gringotts? The Daily Prophet reported about it, but I’d like a more personal account. And anything with your name on it really boosts sales of The Quibbler."

"Well, the first one’s okay, I reckon; after all, you've done my friends and me some favors getting things published in the past," said Harry with a smile.

"The favors have been mutual - your articles have added a lot to sales figures. We've been in the black for the past three years, mostly because of the big sales when your name is on a piece."

“As for the battle, I didn’t really see much of it.”

“Harry, you were right in on the crux of the battle – beating the heliopaths that disabled the goblins.”

Harry nodded. “I’m just not too keen on calling that much attention to myself.”

“Still a little publicity shy after what the Prophet did to you?”

“Well, a bit, I guess. But I really don’t want to hog the credit, either. The goblins did most of the fighting and all the DA who could get there did their part. If we must, I’d rather write about that.”

“But people need to know what you’ve done.”

“Everyone who needs to know, knows – especially the goblins. We can say something about Dobby and me disabling the heliopaths, but I’ll keep it brief. If you want any more of me in it, we’ll talk about the DA’s training.”

“I’ll take what I can get out of you, Harry, but don’t tone it down too far – a bit of blood never hurt newspaper sales.”

"That is too true. Well, maybe Luna and I can work on something this weekend. She has a fine way with words. Where is she anyway?"

"She's out de-gnoming the garden - perhaps you'd like to help her,” said Mr. Lovegood, with an odd smile. "I'll take your things to the spare room you stayed in last year."

Harry went out to the Lovegoods' garden to find Luna singing an Abba song at the top of her lungs. "Um, Luna, I thought you were de-gnoming the garden?"

She stopped singing. "Oh, hi Harry. Yes, I am."

"At The Burrow we always grabbed them by the feet, swung 'em until they were dizzy and flung them over the fence."

Luna wrinkled her nose. "This works better. They hate Abba. I can chase them all away further and faster this way. And it's more humane."

Harry arched an eyebrow. "I'm not so sure about that. Do you reckon they're about gone?"

"For now. They'll stay away for several days. Did you have a good trip?"

"What else? I love apparating."

"Ah, yes, that's right. You're doing that now, aren't you?"

“When I can. Are you looking forward to it as much as I was?”

She frowned. “Well, of course I’d like to master it, but I see so many people who have trouble with it. My father can only manage short distances without carrying anything. He’s even left his clothes behind when trying to practice.”

Harry laughed. “I’m glad that hasn’t happened to me. They say it’s got a lot to do with how well you take to flying. I think the only flying I’ve ever seen you do is on a thestral.”

“That’d be fun to do again, you know, under better circumstances. I visited with Hagrid several times last year and I’m starting to appreciate what he means about ‘innerestin’ creatures’ – although I think it helps to have a giant’s hide to deal with some of them.”

“Yeah, Hagrid’s heart is in the right place. He sometimes doesn’t appreciate that he’s a bit different than the rest of us.”

“Not that there’s anything wrong with being a bit different, hmm, Harry?”

“Oh, no, I’m sorry,” said Harry, a bit chagrined. Then he looked sidelong at her. “Are we talking about you or me?”

“Doesn’t really matter, does it?’ said Luna, with an airy smile. “We’re all different in our own ways. Take the most typical-seeming or average person you can find – there’ll be something that makes them a bit different. One of the best things about the magical world is that our powers allow us to express our differences. I feel sorry for the old line families and those who are so hung up on ‘pureblood’ – they all think they have to be just this one particular way and they stifle their uniqueness. It’s no wonder so many turn out so nasty – they have no other way to express themselves.”

“You’re doing it to me again," said Harry with a little smile.

“What’s that, Harry?” asked Luna.

“You got me to see those hung up on ‘blood’ as victims locked in a cultural box they don’t know how to escape from. Every time we speak you give me insights into things that I really need to know. You don’t seem to be trying even,” said Harry.

“I can assure you I’m not trying to do anything, except …” she paused and thought a second, twiddling her kumquat earrings, “I talk more around you than I do around most people. You don’t make fun of me. You’re open to people being different. It’s very nice to be able to let things out without people sneering and walking away. Hagrid’s good that way, too.”

Harry looked down and said, “I have to confess there are plenty of times I’ve found you very odd, dotty even.”

Luna laughed to the stars. “Well, of course, I’d be disappointed in both of us if you didn’t. It’s not that you don’t think about what I’m saying, and I certainly recognize I’m not on the same wavelength as everyone else. You’d have to have an opinion. But you don’t put me down for it, and you’ve kept me as a friend. Ginny’s wonderful about that, too.”

Harry felt a pang at the mention of Ginny, like he didn’t want the intrusion of thinking about her while he was here with Luna. He made a mental note to think about that feeling later.

“So, Harry, have you eaten yet?”

“Ahh, no, I haven’t.”

“Then help me put dinner on the table. We were just going to have raw fruits and vegetables, cold meat and cheese, and if you’d like, I’m pretty good at making fresh bread with magic – I could have some done by the time you got the table set.”

“What more does a person need?” replied Harry rhetorically.

“Truly,” said Luna, leading him in the side door.

On Saturday after their workout and defense practice, Harry and Luna were at the kitchen table working on what to put in an article about reaction to the war for The Quibbler when Harry heard Professor Dumbledore’s voice calling from the mirror.

“Yes, Professor,” said Harry. “Good to see you. It’s been awhile.”

“Remus have been doing such a thorough job informing me of what you tell him, and you have been doing such a thorough job informing him of everything that there has been no need. But as what I am calling about affects many of my students, I preferred to make this call myself.”

“I take it this has to do with the training sessions I heard about,” said Harry.

“Yes, it does. Is Miss Lovegood with you there?” asked Dumbledore

“Right here, Headmaster,” she called out.

“Good. In discussing the plans to work with the aurors, it was suggested that we bring in the team leaders for next year’s DA, so that we can get a head start on that work. Any interest?”

Harry smiled. “I think I’ll pass.”

Dumbledore chuckled and winked. “I wasn’t really asking you, Harry. We both know you’re committed for the duration.”

Luna spoke up. “Then is my commitment being questioned?”

“Not at all, Miss Lovegood. You have been exemplary, but I prefer to at least follow the protocol of an invitation.”

“But wouldn’t we students be hindering the training of the aurors?”

“Actually, most of you in a head-to-head battle are more than a match for the aurors. They exceed you in other special skills of their vocation, but as fighters, they need the practice more than you.”

“Interesting. I’m concerned about leaving my father here, though. He would be quite vulnerable to an attack. He can use the Patronus Charm, but to do so while fighting a wizard would be another matter.”

“Is he available?”

“Yes.”

“Then please ask him in and we’ll discuss the matter together.”

Luna left to get her father. While she was gone, Dumbledore asked Harry, “How about the scar - of course, I know you are learning about the attacks. Have you been learning anything else through it?”

“Perhaps.” said Harry, “I’ve been noticing that when I practice new spells, the wand motions and the pronunciations are coming too easily. You know how you can see a pronunciation key in a dictionary and you slowly sound it out, and then practice it until it flows like a word you are used to using? I’ll see the name of a new spell and pronounce it before checking the pronunciation guide and I will have it correct already, even nuanced. Same thing for the wand motion – I see the diagram and that is enough, without even reading the commentary. When I’ve tried the spells out on the weekends I’m with wizards, I find that I am performing them perfectly.”

Dumbledore nodded his head thoughtfully. “The divide between the minds is breaking down. You are gaining access to Voldemort’s knowledge, and presumably he could gain access to yours, although other than seeing what we are up to, the only things you know that he does not are friendship, love and trust. He would have little interest in that. Have you found yourself moody or irritable?”

“Quite the contrary, Professor. Even with my Aunt Marge, who used to really make me blow up …”

“And vice versa?”

“Yes sir,” Harry said with a grin. “I am finding patience and understanding. Once or twice she’s gotten to me, but it has taken more than it would previously have. I am cheerful, despite my concern over the war. I am no less serious about preparations or fighting – if anything I’ve been working harder. But I’m not getting angry and depressed, and I even have been getting fewer visions of death and destruction.”

“I believe that would be the result of your sessions with Reverend MacBoon. But let’s not forget that your scar is an open portal in both directions, and either of you may exploit it either purposefully or in times of crisis. We have been making use of a small portion of the opportunities, but there are great dangers there as well.”

“Possession?”

“Perhaps that, Harry, although even at the Ministry, from what you have told me, he was only able to take control of your body – your personality and soul remained quite distinct. Let’s keep working on the emotional maturity that you have been developing.”

“Yes, Professor,” replied Harry. Just then Luna and Mr. Lovegood came in. “Ah, the Lovegoods are here, Professor.”

“Hello, Professor Dumbledore. So good to see you again.”

“Yes, Adrian, it’s good to see you again as well, especially in these trying times.”

“Of course, Luna was just telling me her concerns.”

“I cannot say they are idle, either, Adrian. You are triply a target, for being the father of a witch who has fought Voldemort’s forces, for being the publisher of articles which have helped rally the magical world against him, and for being a wizard Harry is quite fond of.”

“Are you now, Harry? I thought you might just be acting politely,” he smiled at Harry, who smiled warmly back. “Well, then Professor, do you advise me to go on the lam?”

“Not exactly, but I would recommend moving for the duration to Diagon Alley. The Weasley twins have been expanding their business premises. Originally they were going to house production facilities in the extra space, but they are making alternate arrangements for that. The extra space is being made available fairly reasonably for sorcerers seeking more secure accommodations. As I understand your operations, as long as you can send and receive owls, you can continue publishing The Quibbler.”

“That’s true, Albus. Of course, the printing is done on Practic Alley – that’s the industrial district connected to Diagon Alley, Harry – so the location would actually be more convenient for me. We have always simply liked the bucolic surroundings here.”

“And why not, Adrian, but we are all bearing some hardship, and all of us would like to see you and The Quibbler make it through the war intact. And knowing you are in more secure accommodations would make it easier for both your daughter and Harry to fulfill the duties that they have undertaken.”

Mr. Lovegood turned to Luna and Harry, “Is that so?” They nodded earnestly. “Well, then, I suppose I could endure a change of venue.”

“Adrian, I will see to it that the Weasleys’ house elf, who is maintaining The Burrow in their absence, is instructed to keep your house neat and secure as well.”

“Thank you, Albus. That was another concern I had.”

“I would like to have the two of them at the training facility tomorrow evening. Can you be ready to go by then?”

“Of course, Albus. I live a simple life. Well, simpler than most wizards. A couple of grips should do me. What else I might need I can buy or borrow. I’ve quite a few friends who’ve made the same move in the past month.”

Professor Dumbledore smiled sadly. “It’s good to see so many pulling together, though too many are pulling away. I only wish we could find grounds for cooperation when we weren’t faced with life-or-death matters.”

“Indeed. Well, I’ll let you talk to the young-uns about their arrangements while I go set my things in order.”

“Harry,” said Professor Dumbledore, “the training camp is at Longbottom Manor. They will be prepared to receive you anytime after 5 p.m. tomorrow. You can apparate to the entry hall, where the house elves will show you your way. Miss Lovegood, either Harry can apparate you there or you can use the Floo network. Take all the things you will need for the coming school year. With the war on, there may not be an opportunity for you to get back to your house before then.”

“Yes, Headmaster.”

“And Harry, don’t worry for now about your things. You will be able to get back to your aunt and uncle’s house. I have also already notified your relatives that your disciplinary boot camp has been extended for the entire week. Keep in touch, Harry.”

“I will, Professor.”

“Disciplinary boot camp?” asked Luna, after they had said their good-byes to Dumbledore.

“My uncle’s sister believes I’m a serious juvenile delinquent. My cover story for getting away on the weekends is that I am at a boot camp being whipped into shape.”

“Why did you have to tell her all that?”

“You know my relatives used to hate me, or at least resent magic, right? Well, they kept pushing the idea I was a bad egg, and then made up a story when I went to Hogwarts about a residential school for evil thugs like me. Now they accept that I’m a wizard, but they can’t really explain the change in attitude to my uncle’s sister, not without letting on about the whole magic thing. So we’re kind of stuck in the whole story.”

Luna giggled at the whole predicament. “I never knew it could be so difficult to have muggle relatives. The muggles around here just think we’re very odd.” She laughed and added wryly, “Can you imagine that?”

That evening over dinner, they talked over all their plans and how they would keep in touch. Luna’s father suggested additions and changes to the article Harry and Luna had been writing together. After dinner, Luna wrote an additional article for The Quibbler about people moving to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley for mutual security. While she was writing that, Harry and Mr. Lovegood sat out on the porch. Harry asked about Mrs. Lovegood and what Luna was like as a little child. It of course took little for a fond father to launch into all manner of stories about his beloved child.

After a while Mr. Lovegood got kind of quiet, and then said to Harry, “I know you’ve got a lot on your shoulders, Harry, but would it be too much for me to ask that you keep her safe? She’s all I have that matters to me.”

Harry’s eyes got moist. “I understand, Mr. Lovegood. As long as you realize all the things I’m expected to tend to, then you can accept my assurance that I’m doing everything I can to see that she and all the other students make it through the war. And I’ll put a bit extra into Luna’s safety – she’s very special to me, too.”

“But you won’t be keeping me out of the action, either, Harry Potter!” interrupted Luna, coming through the screen door where she obviously had been listening. “Dad, I know you love me, and I love you too, but I’ve been training to defend myself and those I care for, and I’ll not hide behind the others and let them risk their necks without me beside them.”

Harry had never heard Luna so focused and direct. Mr. Lovegood just smiled benignly and stood up. He kissed Luna on the forehead. “You can’t blame a father for wanting his angel to be safe, sweetheart. I’d better head in and leave the night to you two youngsters.”

Luna stomped to the post holding up the overhang and leaned against it. “Ooh, he makes me so mad doing that.”

Harry smiled. “Luna, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you upset before.”

“Parents have a knack for it. I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to call attention to … but he makes me so mad sometimes!”

“He’s just worried about you.”

“What!? Oh, not that.” Luna regained her usual demeanour and laughed uproariously. “Oh, it’s not that. I was just putting on a bit of a show so he wouldn’t coddle me too much. No, I’m upset because he’s trying to fix us up.”

“Huh?” said Harry, as clueless as one can be.

“Fix us up, you troll. He wants us to date. He’d like for the great Harry Potter to eventually be his son-in-law.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“I wish I was.”

“And that would be awful because …”

Luna laughed. “Here’s the part where I’m supposed to tease you about thinking that you’re the finest ‘catch’ in the world and say that you’re too full of yourself, all the while avoiding the question of whether I would be interested or not. But you’re not like that and neither am I. You’re a wonderful fellow, in spite of the things you’ve done. And I don’t care to lie to you – of course I have considered what it would be like for you to be my boyfriend.”

“Oh, you have, have you? And what is the result?” said Harry, with a smirk.

“Oh, I’d give you a chance, but I’m not about to throw myself at you. I know you enough not to be bowled over by your resume’, like some girls would be. But I don’t know you well enough to say whether I’d want to be more than friends.”

“The honesty is refreshing. Too often girls seem to want to play games,” said Harry.

“Sometimes that’s just to put boys off who just want to play around,” said Luna.

“Goes both ways, huh?”

“Yeah, but the hurt comes in when you get someone who is honest meeting someone who plays people. And the players don’t even understand that there could be honest people.”

Harry looked at her and she looked back at him. “I can’t tell you,” he said, “how hard it is for me to suppress legilemency right now. I so want to know how that mind of yours works. You can be so insightful at times and then an utter goose at others.”

“I admire that you resist it. There’s something kind of obscene about looking into another person’s mind, kind of like peeping through a bathroom keyhole or something. There are the glimpses of ourselves that we offer, like a girl wearing a scoop neckline, and those that we don’t, and each person should have the right to choose.”

Harry stood for a minute thinking about what she had said, when suddenly his scar began hurting severely. “I’ve got to speak to Professor Lupin. I’ll be back,” he said hurriedly as he ran in the door to the spare bedroom.

When he was done, he came back out to the parlor and found that Luna had come inside and gotten a fire going in the fireplace and was sitting in an easy chair, watching the flames. Harry pulled up a rocker and sat a couple feet from her.

“Business attended to?” Luna asked.

“Yeah.”

Luna nodded for a few seconds, then asked, “Why do you do it?”

“What?”

“Reading his mind to raise the alarm, training the DA, all of it.”

“Shouldn’t I?”

“I’m just asking. I’m curious.” She looked at him and gave him a smile. “Can you shut off the warnings? If you could, would you?”

“Well, I don’t think I could shut them off. I guess I’ve never particularly tried, so I can’t prove it one way or the other. If I don’t report them, people would die.”

“What is that to you?” she asked quietly.

“They’re … people. Why wouldn’t I care?”

“You don’t know them, well, very few of them.”

“But they’re people. And, if more people were dying, then society would fall apart even faster than it has been.”

“And you can control that?”

“I can help fight it,” said Harry.

“Why?”

Harry’s head was swimming. “Well, if we don’t hold together, then we won’t be able to resist. I might go first, but eventually we would all fall.”

“So it’s just to protect yourself, to have more allies. And the DA as well? Just a way of making allies?”

“Why are you asking all this? Are you saying it’s wrong to try to help protect people and help them protect themselves?”

“I’m just asking. Harry, you’re getting too upset. You’ve never thought about the why of all this. You’ve been led by both your enemies and your friends. But you’ve never figured it out for yourself. Take some time now. Nothing’s happening. Professor Lupin will take care of the threats. Let your mind grapple with the why of what you do, the whole ‘people-saving’ thing.”

They sat and looked at the fire a long time. Every so often Luna would put a couple more logs on the fire. She said she didn’t mind lighting a fire with magic, but she preferred a real fire. Harry worked on all the possible reasons and sorting out which ones really mattered to him and which were just excuses or makeweights. The fire died down low when Harry decided he knew the answer. Luna had fallen asleep with her arms across the armrests. Harry gently grasped her forearm and gave her a gentle shake.

“Luna? I think I know.”

“What, hmm? Oh, Harry,” said Luna.

“I said I think I know – why I do the ‘people-saving’ thing,” Harry said gently.

“Oh, yeah,” she said yawning. “What did you decide?”

“Down deep, I just feel that every person is very special and deserves a chance at a full, happy life.”

Luna stood up, stretched, and then bent down toward him. She placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a sweet innocent kiss on his cheek. “I know, Harry. I knew that all along. But you needed to find that answer for yourself. Helping people is what you do because you really do care for people. It’s beautiful. Good night now.”

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Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #14  
Old November 20th, 2006, 10:46 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 13 – Longbottom Manor Transformed
When Harry had visited Neville Longbottom the previous year, Longbottom Manor had been stale, stodgy, and placid, more like a mausoleum than a home. This year, with over two dozen young aurors, three dozen adult auxiliaries and four dozen Defense Association team leaders, the place was tense, confusing and vibrant. There was the wartime energy of preparing for action and the anxiety of not knowing when some danger might suddenly erupt. Not that anyone felt that an attack here was likely. For one thing, the premises were known to be covered by numerous protective charms. For another, the Death Eaters had stuck to insurgency guerilla tactics so far, preferring to spread fear, anger and suspicion to erode wizard society rather than make a dangerous frontal assault on any well-defended location.
Nonetheless, all the aurors and auxiliaries had already seen plenty of action responding to the hit squads. There were barely over a hundred aurors in all of Britain, more than enough for normal times, but these were not normal times. The auxiliaries numbered perhaps 120, not including members of the Order of the Phoenix, who pitched in on occasion as well. They were stretched thin and many of them showed their lack of seasoning. Several had been hexed, but no permanent injuries had occurred. All of the aurors were to spend at least some time at the camp sharpening skills, but many had to be kept stationed around Britain. The entire auror corps and the auxiliaries had taken to regular applications of murtlap essence, which helped to protect against most hexes. Since murtlap essence in excess quantities causes purple hair to sprout around the ears, those younger sorcerers who overdid the protective murtlap were easily identified. Of course, as with any such group, a nickname quickly arose among them for the condition – “lavender-lulus” they were called by the more experienced aurors.
Quite a number of the auxiliaries and young aurors had experienced narrow scrapes because they were weak on their patronus charms. It had not been considered a critical auror skill when the dementors were allied with the Ministry, so tenuous patronuses were accepted. Now a truly corporeal patronus was a necessity. This was to be a major part of Harry’s assignment.
Harry made sure that Luna and her father were off safely by the Floo Network. Then he stopped in at The Burrow for a brief visit with Winky so he could report to the Weasleys about the condition of their elf and home. Winky gave him a frayed stuffed dragon that Ginny had asked about. Neither Winky nor any of the Weasleys who were capable of traveling to and from The Burrow safely had the time to retrieve it, not just for a stuffed animal. In fact, Ginny had not even asked for it to be sent, but had only added a note in an owl to Winky about other things. However, with Harry available to carry it, Winky took it upon herself to send it along. She was not going to take any chances about displeasing her new family.
Harry thought he was being very clever apparating directly to the room he had stayed in the summer before. However, it turned out that this was one of the three rooms which had been turned into women’s dorms. As he arrived just before dinnertime Sunday evening, most of the women were changing from travel clothes to get ready for dinner and the evening. As soon as they heard the pop, 10 heads turned. Harry heard various calls “Coach,” “Potter,” “Harry!” Despite the surprise, none of them sounded particularly perturbed.
Harry set his things down, made a show of covering his eyes and said, “Sorry, this is where I stayed last year.”
Tonks grabbed him by the arm. “Yeah, sure, Potter – you were just grabbing the kind of look-see you can’t get at Hogwarts. Now get out of here.”
She shoved him out the door. A few seconds later his bags were shoved out the door by the Patil sisters, who had thrown on dressing gowns. Harry was almost sure that they had both winked at him as they went back in the room and shut the door.
Harry knocked on the door. “Hey, wait; you have my owl, too.”
Susan Bones called through the door, “She’s too cute for you. We’re keeping her for awhile.”
Then Harry heard giggling. “Right, then,” he thought. “Hedwig will be well-attended to for the time being. It’ll be easier to get situated and then come back for her.” He walked down to Neville’s room and knocked. Neville opened the door.
“No need to knock, Harry, this’ll be your room, too.”
Harry walked in and was greeted by Ron, the Creeveys, Justin Finch-Flechley, Ted Nott, and three young aurors he did not know. As he was introduced to them, - Dawkins, Wimbush and Joad - he decided it was a reasonable precaution to use legilemency to try to determine if they were safe, especially after being betrayed by an auror the previous year. He found no problem and resumed suppressing the legilemency.
“Harry,” said Ron, “it’s good to see you again, mate. I was afraid maybe the muggles wouldn’t let you go.”
“Dumbledore gave them an excuse. The big problem was my Aunt Marge. She doesn’t know about sorcery and the whole family’s quite afraid of her.”
“Why’ncha just change her into an ottoman or something, at least for the time being?” said Dawkins, one of the young aurors.
“Now that’s a thought, changing her into something,” said Harry, with a grin. “Don’t think I haven’t thought of it before. However, for one thing, I’m still under age, and besides, they still love her even if she’s a pain. Besides, I’m finding it useful to learn to deal with people who are a pain rather than just blast them.”
:
”Hmm. We’re going to be taught warfare by a pacifist. That sounds useful,” mused Dawkins to the other two aurors.
Harry smiled broadly. “Oh, I’ll mix it up if I have to, but I don’t fancy picking on someone.”
Then Wimbush spoke up. “It’s good to meetcha in the flesh, Potter. We aurors have been here for nearly a week and began to wonder if there really was a Harry Potter. A bloke can hear so many stories before he doubts a person’s for real. Did you really fight – HIM?”
Harry nodded. “It wasn’t very long, just until I could grab a portkey and escape.”
“It’s still more than I want to face him. If I had thought he was coming back, I might not have become an auror. Now, well, I’ve got the training, and I guess he usually sends others to do his dirty work, and I’ll fight them.”
Joad added, “I know I wouldn’t fancy being the bloke what’s got to face him.”
“Same here,” agreed Harry, then he turned to his friends. “So who’s going to show me the set-up and fill me in?”
All the Hogwarts boys had finished changing into clean clothes, so they all went with Harry as a group around the house and grounds showing him all the additions and training areas. A lethifold arena like the one at Hogwarts, but with only a small observation area, had even been set up in the attic so that the trainees could test their patronuses under stress. Dueling was to be practiced between the greenhouses, where Harry and Neville had practiced the year before. Mrs. Longbottom had spellproofed the greenhouse glass.
After dinner, Harry stopped by the room where Hedwig was being held hostage - as it seemed to him - and retrieved her. Tonks answered the door and brought Hedwig out in her cage.
“I’m surprised you’re here, Tonks,” said Harry. “I know you can fight. I’ve seen it.”
“Yeah, well, you also saw me get waxed in the fight. And my patronus is indistinct.”
“Really?” said Harry, “Do you know what kind of animal it is even?”
She shook her head and shrugged. “Four legs, smaller than a cow, larger than a squirrel.”
Harry laughed. “Well, we’ll try to fix you up. Maybe you just haven’t found the right happy thought.”
“Maybe,” said Tonks. “Other trainers have said that I’m too emotional. It makes it hard to focus on just the happy thought.”
Harry nodded. “That’ll be critical when we throw you to the lethifold – you can’t let the fear force you away from your focus.”
Tonks shuddered. “Do I really have to face that thing?”
“You don’t know if you can do it when you need it if you don’t do it when you are scared stupid.”
“I understand. It’s just that I’ve seen what those things can do.”
“Oh?” said Harry with interest. “Did they have a demonstration with an injured animal like we did last year?”
“Well, yeah, but I was thinking of the pictures of you from last year.”
“What!!?”
“Yeah, thought you knew. Pictures were made showing your wounds. They’ve been showing ‘em in training to make sure we’re plenty scared. It works.”
“They must have been taken while I was asleep,” said Harry. “What’d they get – my legs? They were the worst.”
“Yeah, your legs …” Tonks trailed off, but had a silly grin.
“Right, then, Tonks. Give me the whole story.”
“Everything but your head. In fact they don’t identify it as you, but all of us in the Order had heard about your little mishap, so it wasn’t hard to figure out who it was.”
“Is there anything left to the imagination?”
“Not really. I mean, I know you’re not Jewish, if that’s the kind of detail you were concerned about.”
“Well, yeah! I’m not an exhibitionist, you know.”
“Oh, but you really needn’t be ashamed,” she said with a wink, “and there’re only a few of us who have seen the pictures who know who it is. We’re told that the pictures are twenty years old, but a few of us know you’re the only survivor of a lethifold.”
“Well, fine, whatever I can do to help the cause,” groused Harry, turning to go back to his dorm room.
Tonks caught his right arm with her right hand, and popped her chin over his shoulder. “And Harry?” she said.
“Yes, Tonks,” he said resignedly.
She stroked his bottom with her left hand and said, “I’m so glad your tight little bum has healed up.”
Harry blushed, but wasn’t going to give Tonks the satisfaction of seeing him storm off. He stood there for the better part of a minute, held Hedwig's cage with both arms, and waited for her to become embarrassed at standing around stroking his bottom in the hallway of Longbottom Manor.
“Having fun, there, Tonks?”
She stopped and gave him a playful shove. “You’re getting better at playing the games, Potter. Be ready for Round 2!”
Later that evening Harry was getting settled into his space in the dorm room. Instead of the four-posters of Hogwarts, there were five bunk beds in each room. Having been among the last to arrive, Harry had to take a top bunk, but he didn’t mind. Neville had the bunk below him. When he opened his trunk, he found Ginny’s stuffed dragon. He decided this was the perfect excuse to talk to her.
“Hey, Ron,” he called. “Which room’s Ginny in?”
“You’ve got Scooter – she’ll be glad to see him. Come on, I’ll take you there.”
Ron and Harry went down the hall to one of the several large bedrooms of the manor house. Ron stopped at one and knocked. Hermione came to the door.
“Hello, Ron, what brings you – oh, and Harry, - here?” she said at first mysteriously and then more matter-of-factly when she noticed Harry.
“Erm, Harry has something for Ginny,” said Ron.
“Well, of course, he does – oh, you mean something to give to her. Give it to me, Harry,” she said with a patronizing smile. “I’ll give it to her.”
“No, thanks, Hermione. If she can come for a walk, I’d like to talk with her.”
“Well, I’ll see.” She came back in a minute with Ginny. “Here she is. Ron, how about you? Would you like to … walk, too?”
“I reckon,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, and the two of them set off.
“Yes, Harry, you needed something?” said Ginny.
“Well, I brought this,” he said, holding up Scooter, “but if you wouldn’t mind, I was hoping we could talk?”
“Well, alright. Let me put Scooter on the bed,” she said.
When she returned they headed down the hall. At first Harry just talked about this-and-that, catching up on what each had been doing during the summer. When they got to one of the sitting rooms on the first floor, Harry steered her over to a large curtained bay window which had a curved seat all around the edge and curtains that could be pulled across the opening. He motioned for her to go ahead and he followed her, but did not shut the curtains. She sat down, and he stood, pulling at his lip, searching for what to say.
“Harry, if you have something to say, just say it. We’ve been friends long enough to just talk.”
“I wish it were that easy,” said Harry, “It’s … I wanted to apologize.”
“For what?” said Ginny. “I can’t think of anything.”
Harry rubbed his hands together and flexed them. “Last year, at The Burrow, we were walking in the garden and we started to talk about, well, whether there could be an ‘us,’ I pulled away, literally ran away, because I had just started having visions of death of those I cared about.”
“Dad explained that to me, Harry. I was disappointed, sure. I thought that … well, I understand it was too painful for you to have a relationship. It’s very sweet of you to even remember that, but you don’t need to apologize.”
“There’s more to it, Ginny,” he said, looking into her eyes. “I pulled away, tried to distance myself emotionally from all the people I cared about. I wasn’t angry like the year before, but I know I was distant.”
“Okay, but again, I understand and there’s nothing to apologize for.”
“Let me finish.” He turned and looked out the window. “I tried to pull away, but I needed emotional connection. I … found someone. I didn’t seek it. It … just happened. And when it did, I couldn’t … I didn’t want to … stop. I had been kind of giddy with it for quite some time, and for a while now sort of numb. Only just recently did I realize that it was quite unfair to you, to … reject you because I didn’t want a relationship, and then go and have one. I know you must be hurt and angry.”
“Well, I wasn’t. I didn’t even know. Was it some sort of a secret?”
“Yes. Only a few people knew. I figured Hermione or Luna would have told you by now.”
Ginny pursed her lips. “Well, if you hadn’t told them the secret could be told, why would they?”
Harry removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “I sort of thought they would feel free to. Because it’s over now. It’s over forever.”
“Did you break up with her? Or did she break up with you?”
Harry sniffed. “She broke up with me. She couldn’t handle the danger. And now she’s … gone.”
“Gone – you mean - Marietta!?”
Harry nodded, then struggled to fight back tears. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I thought I was over it by now.”
“I’m so sorry, Harry. I remember seeing how bereft you were at the Battle of Gringotts, but I just figured that was just a release from the tensions of the battle. I thought you would have reacted the same for anyone.”
“I might have. I had just come from holding Melony’s lifeless body and finding out she wasn’t quite dead and could be resuscitated, and then I came up to street level to find Marietta. But I would have gotten over it better if it had been, well, not the people I’m closest to, but someone else.”
“Is that part of why you were so insistent on Ron and I accepting her?”
“Only in the Spring. In the autumn, I was just trying to keep a good team leader.”
Ginny peered at him. “So why are you telling me all this?”
“I felt bad about having run from you, and then running right over to someone else.”
“When did you strike up this relationship with Marietta?”
“I guess it became a relationship in January; before that really we were just getting to be friends.”
“You and I had our little talk in July. Six months is a lot of water under the bridge, especially with all that we have going on in our lives. You didn’t betray me or anything. So why would you feel guilty?”
Harry thought about that for a bit. “I suppose you’re right,” he said hesitatingly. “There was kind of a gap. But,” he added, searching his own thoughts, “I’ve been fretting over this all weekend. It was like waking up when Luna mentioned you.”
She looked at him for a minute as he thought. “Harry, are you … trying to see about starting things up between us?”
Harry looked up to the ceiling, and then brought his eyes down toward her and met her gaze. He sat down on the bench opposite her. He took her hands in his and said, “Yes, but this hasn’t turned out like I had intended. I didn’t want to be so blunt about it, but I began to realize it this summer. I’ve been feeling regret at running from you.”
“You picked a fine time to realize something like that, Potter!” She didn’t exactly snap at him, but annoyance was unmistakeable. “So what are you thinking - that you’d just snap your fingers and we’d be a couple?”
“No! I didn’t know what to expect. My head only cleared enough this weekend to realize that there was this other issue between us. I knew that I felt awful about it and wanted to talk to you.”
“Listen, Harry, thanks for bringing Scooter. And thanks for talking with me. It’s more mature than most boys would do. But right now you don’t know what you want. You’re still grieving for Marietta. You’re still in love with her. If she was around, you’d be with her, and I’d be just another one of your pals. I’m not saying never, but I’m not going to be the girl who fills in your time while you get over someone else. I don’t want to try to have a romance with someone who’s in love with someone else. When you’ve sorted out what it is you want, and if that includes me, then maybe we’ll talk. That is, if I’m not otherwise attached already: I’m not putting my heart on hold for you. For now, please consider me a friend, as I will consider you one – one of my dearest friends. But we can’t be a couple, not like this.”
Ginny stood up, and put her hand gently on his cheek. He looked up at her sadly.
“Ginny?” he called softly.
She turned back toward him and silently shook her head. Then she walked silently away toward the stairs. Harry leaned against the sill, put his feet up on the bench, and stared out at the night.

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #15  
Old November 21st, 2006, 9:03 pm
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Dedalus Diggle  Male.gif Dedalus Diggle is offline
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 13 Nocturnal Meetings
It was after 10 when Harry headed back to his dorm room. Most of the house had settled down as the day's activities would start very early, most of the adults grudgingly agreeing to the students' practice of a very early morning run. However, when Harry got to the room, he found Ron leaning against the wall outside the door.
"Hi, Ron," Harry called quietly, "why're you out here?"
Ron startled. Obviously he had dozed off. "Hrm, huh! Harry!" he said cheerfully, and then changed to sternly, "Harry!! Ginny came back from your little 'walk' crying. Speaking for her brothers, I want you to know that we don't sit idly by while any bloke upsets her!"
At first taken aback by Ron's tone, Harry started to become amused, and said in mock fear, "Oh, no. I'm being threatened by Ronald Weasley - whatever shall I do?"
"Now, Harry, don't make fun of me, this is serious!"
"I'm sure it is, Ron. But you need to do it right - maybe you'll find it more effective to lean on me with some help - here come the twins. I hate to think what they've been up to. Fred! George!"
"Harry, no, don't call them!"
"You're speaking for all her brothers, right. I'm sure they'll want to add to the intimidation."
"What is it, Harry?" said George.
"I'm afraid something I said to her made Ginny upset, so Ron wants to rough me up a bit. I reckoned you two would want to be in on it."
"You mean like make book?" asked Fred. "We couldn't make anything on that."
"No, no, you two could help him rough me up. You know, wands at twenty paces, or something like that," said Harry.
The twins looked at him, then at Ron, and then at each other, then back at Harry, and burst out laughing.
"Tell you what, Harry," said George, "you two have at it first, then when you're worn out we'll take what's left of Ron to St. Mungo's"
"Oi, now," said Ron, "I'm not that bad in a fight."
Fred giggled. "Of course, you're not, Ron, if you were fighting someone else. But Harry could take all three of us in a duel while catching a snitch and not break a sweat. Tell you what, Ron; we'll get you off the hook here. Ginny's got six big brothers, but Harry only has one best friend - let us do the brother thing and you do the friend thing, alright?"
While he agreed this made some sort of sense, Ron didn't like how things had gone. "Hrmf! I reckon, but why even bother. It's pretty hard to be protective at this point anyway."
"Oh, no, Ron. You're right. Ginny has brothers and it's our job to weed out the cads," said George.
"You think Harry might be a cad?" asked Fred to George.
"Well, you never can tell," said George, "He's just so cute and he has that disarming boyish charm. He could be a real wolf in sheep's clothing."
"Right, then," said Fred, "Harry Potter, you have upset our little sister - did you overpower her?"
"No," said Harry indignantly.
"Did you deceive her?" Fred went on.
"No."
"Did you pressure her to do things she wasn't keen on?" said George.
"Oh, good one," said Fred.
"No, of course not. We didn't DO anything but talk," said Harry.
"Well, then, did you try to overwhelm her with your fame and fortune?" said George.
"Like she's ever cared about that."
"Well, you know she did at first, before she found out what a geek you are," said Fred.
"Oh, thanks," said Harry. "You two are just what I needed."
"Well, then," said George, "I think what we have here is a teenage girl getting emotional because a boy she's long had her eye on has paid her attention. This sounds like a good case for going to bed."
"Listen, Harry," said Fred, "as far as we're concerned, so long as you don't take advantage of her, we'd be pleased to see you two together and we aren't going to make an issue of what you two do on a date, okay?"
"It wasn't a date. We just went for a walk and talked," said Harry.
"You took a girl on a walk after dinner and she came back crying? Sounds like a date to me," said Fred.
"Well that's how Ron's dates seem to go, anyway," said George, "when either of us takes out a girl, she obviously can't be too picky or proud, and she's got a pretty good idea what she's getting into."
"Yeah, you'd better talk to Ron about what it's like to take an interest in a girl who's sensitive and selective. We wouldn't have a clue," said Fred. "And with that, we will bid adieu." Then the twins went to the room they were staying in.
Harry turned to Ron. "So do you want to talk about it, or just posture?"
"Well, I just felt I had to confront you, Harry, I've always been protective of her."
"I actually think that's fine, but you needn't use a belligerent tone. Now, speaking of protectiveness, I'm pretty protective of Hermione - were the twins right, are you making her cry now?"
"I don't mean to. She's just so tetchy at times."
"Yeah, well, it comes with the territory. Girls seem to do a lot of crying when they're dating. At least that's been my experience. So it sounds like the twins are right - you two are dating," said Harry happily, clapping Ron on the shoulder, "Are you actually admitting it to yourselves?"
Just then the door behind Harry opened. They turned as they heard Hermione loudly whisper, "Could you hold it down out here!?" Then as her head rounded the door, she said, "Oh, Harry. Hi, what's up?" She came out in her dressing gown.
"So Hermione," said Harry with a smirk, "Ron was just telling me the two of you are dating."
"Harry," said Ron, "I don't think I ..."
"Oh, he did, did he?" said Hermione with a bemused smile, "he actually called it that, hm?"
"Why?" said Harry, "what was he calling it before? How long have you two been open?"
"Oh, we'd really not admitted it to ourselves until this summer. I suppose if you look back, some of our ways could appear to be flirting - maybe it was. I think what turned it for me was seeing how maturely he faced the Edgecombes after ... you know. He didn't have to be there, they were coming to see you. Since then, ..., well, we've been writing to each other this summer and then finding ways to be together since we've been here," said Hermione to Harry, then turning to peer at Ron, "Or are you still trying to say we're just a couple of friends?"
"Hermione," Ron hissed, then squaring up, "No, Harry, she's right. I'm not keen on putting it into words, but we've been, uh, seeing each other."
"Mmm," said Harry mischievously, "How much of each other?"
"Harry Potter!" said Hermione, sounding quite like Mrs. Weasley, "I hope you mean 'how frequently' by that question, because any other interpretation is quite beyond being any business of yours!"
Harry grinned. "Things must be going alright then. But I hear he's been making you cry - shall I give him a beating?"
"As IF, Harry," said Ron, with as much humor as indignation.
"I don't think that will be necessary. We girls just tend to be a bit emotional."
"Oh, really?" said Harry, in feigned surprise, "I hadn't noticed." Then he got serious, "Hermione, Ron wants to know how I made Ginny cry. I'll need your help to make a clean breast of things."
"Breast!" said Ron heatedly, "Don't go talking about breasts and my sister!"
"He means," said Hermione, exasperatedly, "he wants to clear the air about some things, Ron. Honestly!"
"Oh, yeah, right," said Ron sheepishly, "there's just certain words that, uh, never mind - what's to clear up, Harry?"
"Okay, well the first thing is really none of your business, but you need to know for the rest to make sense - last summer Ginny was suggesting that she and I become a couple."
"Yeah, okay, I'm not surprised. She can be pretty straightforward about things," said Ron.
"Okay, then, you also know that I was distant from everyone, so I turned her down," said Harry.
"I remember seeing her upset after your first visit last year, but I figured it was because of the danger building up."
"Well, Ron, that wasn't her only cause for upset."
"Okay, is that all?"
"No, here's the kicker. In late winter and early spring, I found myself in a relationship with Marietta. Hold on - let me finish! You didn't know because she was insistent on keeping it a secret, especially from certain original DA members who had not well accepted her. She also didn't want to be known as Harry Potter's girl. She broke up with me because she couldn't take the danger that surrounds me. I believe she took the position at the gargoyle in the battle because she wanted to prove she could face danger - I don't know if she was proving it to me or to herself - who can say?"
"She did beautifully in the end," said Ron nodding. "That must have been rough on you. So you opened up to Ginny about that, and that set her off."
"Well, when she left me, she seemed just annoyed, maybe angry."
"The step from anger to tears is very small, Harry, particularly in teenage girls," said Hermione, "Trust me on that."
"I'll second that," said Ron, a little too enthusiastically for Hermione's liking. "Okay, I can see all that. But why did you need Hermione here?"
"Well, first, just in case you got mad. And second, in case you needed any of this confirmed."
Ron got red in the face. "You ... you KNEW about all this, Hermione, and didn't let on!? How could you keep this from me?"
"Ron, I promised. Harry needed someone to confide in. You've told me some things you wouldn't want me to share with Harry. How could you trust me with those things if I had betrayed Harry's confidences?"
"But, you kept secrets ... from me! I thought we were being open!"
"Ron, I'm keeping no secrets that concern you or me. I kept Harry's confidences because he desperately needed a friend who could accept Marietta as his girlfriend."
Ron frowned and then nodded. "Of course, you're right, Hermione. You're a real friend when a friend is needed. That's one of the things I lo-, erm, like so much about you."
She looked cockeyed at him and then said "You should be grateful to Marietta, actually, Ron."
"How's that?"
"Harry's not in the shell he built for himself last year. He's opening back up to us. Letting us be his friend. He was talking openly at dinner and now he's coming to us for emotional and romantic advice,"
"Yeah, I like that a lot better, Harry. But so, why would that upset Ginny?"
"Ron!!" said Hermione, with bemused exasperation, "How did you ever get a girlfriend!?"
"I think she's a stalker, actually, and I just gave up. So how 'bout you explain it to me."
"Even if she wasn't still interested in Harry, it hurts to know he's been with someone else!"
"What!? Like I'm staked out territory?" interrupted Harry.
"Well, you could put it that way,' she replied.
"If we even talked that way about girls, we'd be given no end of grief."
"Yes, you would. What's your point?"
"Well, Hermione," said Harry, "How can it be right for a girl to act the very way she blasts us boys for!?"
"I didn't say it was 'right.' I described her perception. Honestly, you're both such trolls! You're thinking logically, not emotionally. When a girl admits to herself that she fancies someone, it feels to her like she's invested some of herself in him. Then if anyone else steps in, it's violating that little bit of her."
"But Hermione, we didn't talk last summer as if we might consider being a couple more than 2 or 3 minutes. How does that give her proprietary rights?"
"Well, maybe not proprietary, but a girl's interests are not going to just flit around, like a bee visiting flowers. Well, not a decent girl, like Ginny." Then she glared at Ron again, "Some girls have to be patient with a boy for years." Ron was taken aback by the sudden attention. Then Hermione continued with Harry, "Of course, you know she's dated several boys, but those were really very light relationships. Besides, I don't think she's given up on you."
"Well, that's kind of what she told me. She doesn't think I'm over Marietta yet, and thinks I need to be before I pursue a relationship with anyone else."
"So, Harry, is she right? Are you not over Marietta yet?"
"I don't brood over her, but when I was telling Ginny about her I started to ... get emotional."
"Sounds like something you need to talk out, Harry, but I'm not so sure I'm the best one for that. I've never lost anyone very close to me. Is there someone older you can talk to?"
"Hmm, who's here? Tonks, the twins- I don't think so. Mrs. Longbottom - this isn't something I can talk with her about. Moody? - no. I could use the mirror to talk to Remus or Dumbledore, but they're awfully busy."
"Harry Potter, you are not going back to a go-it-alone attitude. Dumbledore made sure that mirror was repaired so you could tell him what was up, and your emotional pain is just as much a concern to him as your scar pain - you call him tonight!"
Harry grinned and winked at her, saying, "Yes, Maam."
"Oh, you! Just because I'm the one to give you a kick in the pants occasionally, doesn't mean I'm your Mummy."
"I know. And you're right. I need to let Dumbledore know what's going on," said Harry smiling, "Thanks, Ron, I really needed this talk."
"Oh, yeah, sure, Harry anytime, glad I could be of help," said Ron, making a goofy face over how little of it he had been.
Harry went down the hall to find a private place away from the dorms to call Dumbledore. As he turned the corner, he glanced back and saw Hermione and Ron in a lingering goodnight kiss. He couldn't resist calling down the hall, as quietly as he could and still be heard, "Hey, get a room!"
Harry decided the bathroom would be his best bet for a private talk. He didn't want to go downstairs, and on this floor there were people occasionally passing by. Of course, people had to go to the bathroom at times, as well, but with the door locked they should be willing to go either to the first floor or the third. For that matter, if one of the men had the need, he might just go outside instead.
As Harry thought about it, he wondered how the bathrooms of Longbottom manor would accommodate some 100-odd people. To his knowledge there were only two bathrooms with bath facilities, and three others with toilet and sink. When he got to the second-floor bathroom, he learned the answer - a magically expanded facility. In fact, going through the door he was familiar with, instead of finding the expected plumbing fixtures, Harry was confronted with two doors - men's to the left, women's to the right. Entering the men's door, Harry was surprised to find a facility every bit as large as the Little Whinging Rec Center locker room. There was a whole row of showers and sinks on the left and a row of toilet stalls and urinals on the right.
It made sense that such a facility would be conjured for the duration, but Harry was left with a dilemma. While he could seal the door, it would be hard to explain to someone wanting to come in, since he could not possibly be using all of any of the fixtures. He decided to sit in one of the toilet stalls and just be alert for anyone coming in. As he entered the stall, he realized that he was in need of it for the more usual reasons. When he was finished (preferring to finish before he spoke to anyone), he remained seated and pulled out the mirror.
He held the mirror close and softly called, "Professor Dumbledore? Professor Dumbledore, are you there?"
Harry waited. It always took a few seconds for someone being called to realize he was being called, pick up the mirror and answer. Harry called again and waited again. There was no answer. Dumbledore must be out or occupied, though Harry. He decided he would try calling Remus instead.
This time Harry spoke a bit louder. "Remus? Remus, are you there?"
Harry was prepared to wait the few seconds, but instead, he heard immediately and almost right next to him, "Harry, is that you?"
The immediate response so startled Harry that he dropped the mirror. He grabbed for it a few times, but it just tumbled through his hands. At the last second, he extended his legs and caught the mirror in the crotch of his pants.
"Is everything okay in there?" Remus voice was right outside the stall.
Harry caught his breath. His heart was still pounding. "Remus, I was just calling you on the mirror. You almost gave me a heart attack. I didn't expect you to respond so quickly or so ... near. I thought I was the only one in here."
"Oh, you must have entered as I was drying off in the shower stall. I was listening to music with headphones on so I didn't hear you enter."
Harry picked up the mirror, got his clothes back in order, and came out. He smiled. "Good to see you, Remus."
Lupin was wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist. Harry looked at his chest and legs and his mouth dropped open.
"What's the matter, Harry? Oh, I get it. You've never seen my scars before. As a werewolf, I often bite myself or push through tight places with sharp edges. By the time I change back the scars have set in. My face is merely haggard - don't deny it, I know it's true - because I can't bite it and even a werewolf avoids pain to his sensitive snout."
"I'm sorry. I should have guessed that you'd have scars, but I had never really thought about it. Erm, well, on the other hand, at least you keep fit."
"Thanks, Harry. Officially I am an Auror Corps Adjunct. It means I have official duties within the Corps, but I'm not a true auror. It does mean that I have to keep up with the aurors' training requirements."
"Well, with the war on, that shouldn't be a hardship."
"No, not at all. Quite the privilege actually."
"I didn't know you were going to be here."
"They figured on getting double-duty out of me. You can communicate attacks to me even easier with me right here, and they figured if I could teach the Patronus to a 13-year-old, I'd probably be useful with that here as well."
"Oh, good, so I'll be your assistant."
Lupin shrugged. "I'm not sure who they consider to be the assistant here. You've taught the Charm to more people than I have. And of course, you're the Great Harry Potter."
Harry laughed, "Now cut that out. And you'll always be the teacher to me."
"Well, I can teach the techniques, but you'll have to admit you have a knack for bringing out the very best in people's skills. We'll just be partners and work out the details between ourselves."
"Sounds good. I already have a notion they're trying to find other ways to put me to work anyway, so we'll just have to adjust."
"Now there's a healthy attitude. Harry, when I startled you, you were trying to call me about something, but it didn't sound like an emergency."
As Remus got dressed, Harry explained to him all about his talk with Ginny and what she had said, and his talk with Ron and Hermione.
"Well," said Remus, "Is Ginny right? Are you still in love with Marietta?"
"I ... I'm not sure. It seems wrong to say you're still 'in love' with someone who's dead. But I think about her most days, and I wonder how things could have turned out differently."
"First you mustn't wallow in regrets. I don't know of anything wrong you did, taunting her into foolish risks or the like, and I'll bet you can't think of anything really either. Sure, you could have avoided falling in love, and then she wouldn't have been so daring at the battle, but falling in love is not a bad thing. Sometimes, things just turn out rotten. I could regret being friends with Peter in school, but I don't. He was decent at the time, perhaps too much of a follower, but that didn't seem to be such a bad thing at the time. Sometimes, when things got tense and egos were flaring, he was the one that could keep the rest of us Marauders together. He could smooth things over very well. Later he did a number of excellent things for the Order before he turned. So should I live with regrets, Harry?"
"No, how could you know how things would turn out? And I see what you're saying about Marietta: war is tragic and tragic things happen and they are usually out of any particular person's control."
"Exactly. So no regrets. And it's okay that you still love her."
"Is it okay to still feel sad over her?"
"Harry, I'd be disappointed in you if you didn't, even if you weren't as close as you two were. But now, getting back to Ginny and her concerns, tell me something: when you think of being with Ginny, do you sometimes, without trying, substitute Marietta in the scene?"
"How did you know?"
"I've been there. I've lost people and tried to move on before I had dealt with most of my feelings, and the same thing happened with me. And those didn't even involve a loss as sudden as a death. You can't blame Ginny for not wanting to be a part of that. When you make a place in your heart for Ginny, she doesn't want to have to share it."
"So what do I do? Do I just give up on Ginny?"
"For the time being, actually, I'd say yes. Deal with the feelings you have for Marietta. I remember after Cedric Diggory died, you were very upset over that for a long time, and you weren't nearly as close to him - on a number of levels."
"No, that's for sure, but it was the first death I had seen and understood."
"So - what helped you deal with it?"
"The best thing was to talk it out with someone else who was even closer than I was and who also needed to talk."
"That's excellent. That's the whole purpose of wakes and other death-related socializing - sharing your memories of and feelings for the deceased. You need that too. However, I can't do that for you. I can't say I got to know Marietta very well the year I was teaching - just a shy fourteen-year-old girl feeling awkward about herself. Is there anyone else who was close to Marietta you can talk to?"
"Cho Chang was her best friend, and she's here too."
"Great, Harry. Why don't you see about talking privately with her about Marietta? That'll help the healing. Also keep talking with Cameron and me."
"Cameron! I almost forgot. He'll be expecting me tomorrow afternoon at Mrs. Figg's!"
"Harry, you don't think we'd forget that, do you? He'll be coming here. He'll help with a few other organizational chores, but mostly he'll be the training camp chaplain and spiritual advisor. With all these people here facing battles with wizards and dementors, he's just the sort of person we'll need. And of course, time for your work with him is being set aside."
"Well, I feel a lot better now that I've got a plan. I'd better get to bed - 5 a.m. comes too quickly."
Remus rolled his eyes. "Right - tell me about it. See you bright and early."

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Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #16  
Old November 22nd, 2006, 10:35 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 14 Getting Started



It felt right running with a group again. Even the students who had knocked off running at the end of the school year had only missed a little over a month. The aurors had kept in shape anyway and most of the auxiliaries had been working on fitness since they volunteered as well. So although they started when they were ready and stretched out in quite a long thread, with knots of friends running together here or there, there was a fair bit of cohesion and camaraderie, as well as good-natured competitiveness, for the first run on the opening day of training.



After showers, breakfast was served in the great dining hall of the manor. The long formal table had been moved to the side for use as a serving bar as everyone filed by and filled plates. In the rest of the dining hall, round tables seating 10-12 had been set up. Harry noted that Gilly and Gumbo, the 2 Longbottom house elves, were not doing all the work themselves, but had the assistance of three other elves that he saw. He could not remember if he had seen the additional elves at Hogwarts or not, and thought that perhaps some of those wizards or witches here had house elves who would have nothing to do without their people to care for and so brought them along to help out. From Harry's experience with house elves, they would be far happier serving people here than tending an unoccupied house. In any case, Harry was glad that Gilly and Gumbo would not bear the load entirely themselves.



At breakfast, Mrs. Longbottom, who was in charge of the camp, had Harry sit next to her along with Lupin and Mad-Eye Moody, who had also been asked to come out of retirement to assist in the training. Not only was he amply qualified, but that way as many active aurors as possible were kept on the job. The training camp had been hastily assembled and procedures had yet to be established.



Mrs. Longbottom was to teach dueling skills. Moody was to teach tactics, stealth, and street-smarts: paranoia may have been a problem as a retiree, but it is a virtue for those seeking to apprehend assassins who can blend in with the population. Lupin's job was teaching the Patronus as well as being the dispatch liaison between Harry and the aurors - he and those he reported to had developed a good shorthand system for reporting attacks, so even though Harry was right there, Lupin was better prepared to handle the reports. Harry was to work on the Patronus as needed, then help on dueling if there was any time available.



They discussed whether to train the adults and students as separate teams or to have the teams mixed. Moody was concerned that the students would slow the adults, while Harry was concerned the adults would slow the students. Mrs. Longbottom wanted to have them mixed so that each could learn from the strengths and the weaknesses of the other, as each had been trained by very different wizards. Lupin commented how capable he had found the Weasleys who had been training with Harry and suggested that mixing the groups would help the adults' dueling skills. Harry agreed with mixing the groups and Moody went along, with the reservation that he be able to revisit the issue if problems developed.



They also required flexible team arrangements because not all of the trainees needed patronus work, but for those that did, it had become the most critical skill. Harry insisted that even for those that had shown a fully corporeal patronus, if they had not used them against a dementor or the lethiform, they be tested in the lethiform pit. Moody and Mrs. Longbottom agreed that there was no substitute for testing yourself against a deadly threat and Mrs. Longbottom went further in insisting that everyone there test against the lethiform to make sure no one was rusty.



After they had settled most of the organizational issues, Harry had a chance to look around at the people in the room. He was surprised that he could not find Cho Chang at any of the tables.



"Mrs. Longbottom, I'm certain I saw Cho Chang here yesterday when I arrived, but now she doesn't seem to be here."



"Ah, yes, she was just here to claim a bed and make arrangements for this week. She has a cousin who's getting married this weekend, so she'll only be here during the days for the training sessions this week and be with her family in the evenings and weekend."



"But she will be here full-time next week?"



"That's what she told me, so long as nothing changes."



Moody got an odd creaky smirk. "Sounds like someone's taken a fancy to her."



"What!" Harry said sharply, "No, Professor, really. We liked each other that way a couple of years ago, but that's long over. I have something personal I need to talk over with her."



Moody smirked and nodded his head.



Remus laughed. "I'm still young enough to remember how uncomfortable it is for a young person to be taken for having an attraction to someone he doesn't. I'll vouch for his story, Alastair; he just wants a non-romantic talk. His interest in girls has shifted elsewhere."



"Yeah, he probably thinks so, but when a teenage boy and a teenage girl have a private personal talk, they often find attraction budding as well. We'll see."



Harry wondered to himself how someone he generally liked as much as he did Moody could also make him anxious as easily as Moody did.



Near the end of breakfast, Cameron MacBoon arrived by Floo network. Harry saw that surprisingly few knew Reverend MacBoon, though virtually all were past or current Hogwarts students. Mrs. Longbottom addressed the trainees after breakfast and explained the procedures. Lists were made of those who only needed to test their patronus and those who needed to work on the corporeal patronus before facing testing. From those lists 9 training teams of 11-12 members each were designated.



Before they broke up into separate groups, Harry and Remus were each asked to demonstrate their patronuses, both to show how they were done and to reassure the trainees that both knew what they were doing and could stop the lethiform if needed. Harry realized he had never seen Remus's patronus before, and rather expected that it would be a wolf. But the wolf was Lupin's curse, not his protector. Instead, the silvery mist formed into a magnificent golden eagle, with the contours of the feathers clearly visible.



"Awesome, Remus," whispered Harry as Lupin sat back down, "That may be the best patronus I've seen anyone produce."



Remus winked. "Are you sure you don't mean 'anyone else'?"



"Well, I wouldn't just come right out and say that."



On that first day, Harry and Remus began with testing those who said they already could make a proper patronus. If they tested out, then they could be free to focus on the other skills. They were once interrupted by Harry's scar warnings, so Remus returned the lethiform to its box while Harry jotted down the information. Then while Remus used the Floo network to dispatch squads, Harry helped those whose patronuses were still indistinct. Since the aurors and auxiliaries were only accepted if they could at least make a hazy patronus, Harry was able to work intensively with them to sharpen their patronus. While a few seemed to progress slowly, most were thrilled with the rapid improvement in the definition of their patronus. Only Tonks seemed to be a real hold-out.



During the break before dinner Harry changed quickly so he could speak to Cameron. "I was glad to hear you were going to be here, Cameron," he said when he found Cameron in the library, working on paperwork for the training camp.



Cameron grinned, "What's my job this summer, Harry?"



"Erm, teaching me?"



"It's a lot easier to do that if I am where you are; besides I can keep records as well as any wizard."



"I guess I'm not used to having my own moral fitness trainer."



Cameron laughed, "I like that description. Many people hire physical fitness trainers - why not have a moral fitness trainer? You seem in a good mood, Harry."



"Dumbledore says it's the work I'm doing with you. I think it also helps to have things to do."



"Well, there's enough of that."



"At least it's just training. Everything done here can be reset to try it again. Hexes can be removed or countered. It's so gut-wrenching when it's for keeps."



"And yet they say that's where you really take the measure of a man, when it's for keeps."



"You said 'they say' - do you think otherwise?"



"It's just not the whole picture. There are many people who are fine human beings, but just can't perform under pressure. Are they lesser people or of less value to our society because they're no good in a battle or in a crisis?"



"I see what you mean. Mr. Weasley has said many times that he has no place in a fight. He was wonderful at the Battle of Gringotts, but then all he did was coordinate placement of people. He didn't have to do any fighting."



"Exactly. Or Neville Longbottom. I've been talking with Mrs. Longbottom about him. From what I hear, he's fierce in a duel, but just can't produce a patronus. Is he unimportant or not a good person because of it?"



"You'll never hear me saying that about Neville. He's a great asset everywhere but fighting dementors." Harry paused a second and then continued "Cameron, how much do you understand of girls?"



"Hmm, I've had some relationships. I was married to a witch, until she was killed by Death Eaters while fighting in the first war."



"Oh, I didn't know. I'm sorry."



"Thanks Harry," said Cameron, "there's still a warm spot in my heart for Ruth. But back to your question, I know that girls are a lot easier to figure out before they become women. Which kind do you have a question about?"



"More like a woman."



"Ooh, I was afraid of that," Cameron said playfully, putting Harry more at ease, "Tell me about it."



Harry described his conversations the night before, filling in other things about the two of them and his relationship and feelings for Marietta as he went. Cameron listened attentively to it all.



"Well, I've got good news and bad news for you, Harry. The good news is that you have become interested in a very wise girl. That's the bad news, too. She understood that you couldn't really give your love to someone else as long as it was still with Marietta."



"Do I have to totally lose all feeling for Marietta? I can't imagine that happening."



"No, of course not, Harry. We can move on, but still have regard for people we have loved. I still have very wonderful feelings for Ruth, and it's been nearly twenty years since she died. But I've had relationships, even been in love, since then."



"Didn't any of them work out?"



"No. Things happened. Problems showed up. One of them didn't realize I was a squib until we were four months into dating: when she found out she dumped me. She just couldn't deal with a non-magical boyfriend."



"That's awful," said Harry.



"Well, romantic relationships and especially marriages aren't all warm fuzzy feelings. We have notions of what the person we're pairing off with has to be like. Most people want to stay within their religion. Some people demand physical characteristics - it's a physical relationship, too, as I'm sure you know. Some have to have education, wealth, or a sense of humor. It may seem cold at times, but it's better to know what your 'deal-breakers' are so that you don't stay with a person and wind up hating them for not being the person you wanted. But similarly, creating a ridiculous checklist of qualities that aren't really that important severely limits the chances you can find someone who fits in the most important ways. More typical, perhaps, is having a group of qualities you are looking for which a person may more or less have and making sure that enough of them are adequately met."



"I think I see," said Harry, "but Ginny and I have always gotten along great, and we like many of the same things."



"Well, she didn't close the door on you either, did she?"



"No, but ... she doesn't want me now. And I want someone in my life."



"That's just it, Harry. You've learned how good it feels to have love in your life, and you're feeling the emptiness of not having that love after having known it. So you want someone. But Ginny needs to know that she's not just 'someone.' She wants to know that the person she has a relationship with wants specifically her."



"But I do - I think I do."



"Harry, you of all people should know the feeling of being someone who just fits a label. When you first came to Hogwarts, you were The Boy Who Lived - many people still see you that way. Since then you've been the warrior who's faced Voldemort four more times, the basilisk-slayer, the quidditch champion, the Tri-Wizard champion, the youngest wizard ever with a Patronus or a Defense NEWT, the hero of Gringotts, 'Coach' for the DA. I'm sure I've forgotten some. But in all that, haven't you felt separate from those titles, like there's still something else that's just Harry?"



"Oh, absolutely. That's why I like so much being with my friends, and especially the Weasleys. They all know and accept that other stuff, but they react to me, just as me."



"Ginny doesn't want to be seen merely as the person who fits the role of 'the woman in your life.' Now don't misunderstand what I'm saying: Ginny knows that if you two were to have a relationship that you would want to interact with her the way that men and women interact. Not only does she accept that, she almost certainly is looking forward to it. Almost all men and women have a natural yearning to be like that with a special someone, and they realize it as they grow up - if they haven't been polluted with evil ideas about their bodies. But just as you want to be considered as Harry, not as all that other stuff, she wants to be considered as Ginny, special and unique, not just a generic woman attached to your life who meets your generic male needs."



"But how can I convince her that I think of her as someone unique?"



"Well, Harry, first make sure that you are able to. You've lost Marietta only recently, less than two months ago. You said yourself you still hadn't stopped loving her. It's an open wound in your heart. In time, it will heal; it will leave its traces, scars even. But until it does heal over, you'd be trying to fit any other woman into the image you have of Marietta. You'd be doing a disservice to three people there: the one who's passed, the one you brought in, and yourself. If you tried to just fit someone else into that hole in your heart, you'd tear away at your ability to see each person as unique and worthy of love in their own right. It makes you shallow and self-centered. And Harry - that's not the fine young man I've come to know this summer."



Harry furrowed his brow and glared at Cameron, "You had to add that last little bit, didn't you? Put a little sugar on the bitter pill you'd have me swallow."



Cameron smiled. "It helps, doesn't it? Especially when you know I'm sincere. Read my emotions if you doubt me."



"That's okay. I know you enough to know. So what do I do?"



"You keep training yourself and others. You keep learning how to practice universal love. You acknowledge your feelings for Marietta and the loss. Is there someone who also knew Marietta particularly well you can talk about her with? - that can help."



Harry nodded, "That's what finally allowed me to accept Cedric Diggory's death. Remus suggested that, too, and I need the same person for it. Cho Chang said she was going to keep up as a team leader this year, so she's been here, although I found out today that this week she has family commitments in the evenings, so she won't be here full-time until next week. There's one thing though. A couple of years ago, we had an interest in each other and sort of had a date, but things didn't work out well. Is that going to be a problem?"



"Are you over your attraction?"



"Well, I can still appreciate that she's very pretty, but I don't have a particular interest."



"Well, it's perhaps not ideal, but if she was Marietta's closest friend, then she's probably the best person for it. Just try to keep a little distance between the two of you and let her know that your interest is only in talking out your feelings about Marietta."



"Right then! I'll talk to her this week and let her know that next week she'd better just set aside some time to talk."



"Good, Harry, a plan. Now we have about a half hour before dinner: let's get some of our other work done."



On Tuesday training proceeded similarly. Several more aurors and auxiliaries were testing their patronuses against the lethifold, though only two passed. The others had trouble hanging onto the happy thought needed when there was a monstrous creature advancing. But then, thought Harry, that's the point of the test. When all the patronus students had had as much as they could take, Harry dismissed them to attend sessions with Moody or Mrs. Longbottom.



Harry himself headed down for dueling practice. He was delighted to see that his DA students were faring excellently against the adult wizards. Mrs. Longbottom saw him across the dueling pitches and beamed at him. He apparated over to her side, so as not to pass between the duelists. Mrs. Longbottom pointed out wizards who were having trouble with particular skills. Harry went to work with them individually. In most cases he was able to sharpen up their performance in a few minutes of concentrated effort.



After a while, Mrs. Longbottom suggested that Harry get some practice himself. She called all the other trainees to one end of the field at the side, and sent Harry to the other. She announced that she was going to send in one new person every fifteen seconds until someone hexed Harry. Harry was to use only spells which would not need immediate unhexing. Sorcerer after sorcerer was sent in, only to be knocked out of the match, often with Harry using nothing more than blocking spells to reflect the sorcerer's own spell back.



Several of the original DA members were able to last for more than a minute, Neville longest of all, but before long they were all hit. Finally Tonks was the last to be sent in: she ducked and weaved and finally sent a spell at Harry that he had no defense against, so he avoided it. The avoidance practice was good for him, so he only defended. She fired again and again, from several angles, and then finally caught him with one of the spells just as he was apparating where she had fired. Harry began to laugh and laugh.



"I won, I won," she jumped and shouted, "I hexed him."



Harry continued to laugh uncontrollably. Tonks pointed her wand at him and said "Finite Incantatem," and he caught his breath.



"Well, yeah, Tonks, you did, and I wish you hadn't ended it so quickly. I needed the laugh," Harry said with a grin, "but that'll be the day that the Death Eaters battle with Cheering Charms."



"Doesn't matter," she said, "the winner was to be the one who hit you with a spell. Na-na-na-na-naaaa-na!"



"I'll have the defense against that next time we spar, Tonks."



"Excellent demonstration," said Mrs. Longbottom, "Remember all of you - until you can beat Potter, you haven't practiced enough!"



A great groan arose from the assembled trainees, by now recovered from the hexes.



"Now, Mr. Potter," said Mrs. Longbottom, "you are expected back at your relatives' house this evening so you can spend your birthday tomorrow there, so you'd better get moving."

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Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #17  
Old November 26th, 2006, 4:11 am
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 15 - Head Boy



When the time approached that he was expected at the Dursleys, he walked over to Privet Drive. Harry found the door locked when he got there. He figured one day wouldn't hurt, so he surreptitiously pulled out a wand and whispered "Alohamora" to open the lock magically. He quickly put the wand away.



"Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, I'm home!" he called.



'Did I just say that?' thought Harry. This place had never seemed like a real home before, at least not since he had learned that most children were not treated at their homes the way he had been before last year.



"How'd you get in, you thug?" grated Aunt Marge's voice from the parlor. "I locked that door myself."



Harry smiled sweetly at her and said, "Picked the lock, of course."



Harry went upstairs, shaking his head. Really what was she to think of him when she was fed such malarkey as he just had told her. Well, not malarkey exactly, he realized: opening a lock without a key is pretty much picking the lock, whether you use a wand or a set of lock picks. His way was just more elegant.



Rather than deal with Aunt Marge's drone, Harry immediately headed out to the back yard to do yard work after putting his things away. Aunt Petunia followed him out into the yard saying loudly that she'd better show him exactly what needed to be done, since Vernon was not home yet.



Quietly she grumbled to Harry, "Of course, he's not home. Even he's gotten tired of the old bat. She used to be unpleasant, but being here three weeks already, she's been impossible." Then she said less negatively but with more concern, "we were told you were asked to help train people to fight HIS allies - is it that bad?"



"You've seen the Dark Marks on telly, haven't you?" said Harry and she nodded. "We've been able to stop most of the attacks, so you can imagine how bad it could be."



"But Harry," she whispered again, "Are you that good at it that they ask you to train even the adults?"



Harry shrugged. "They asked me; I do what I can."



"Well, then, should you even be here?"



"It maintains my protection, and that's still critical until I learn what I have to do to meet him."



Then seeing Marge standing in the kitchen door, Petunia shouted at him, "... and see to it that you rake up every bit of the hedge trimmings when you're done. No more of your usual lazy job!" But before she turned away, she winked at him



The variety actually felt pretty good to Harry. He enjoyed doing simple muggle things. After he had finished the hedge, Uncle Vernon came out, shouting "Let's see what kind of a butcher job you've done on the hedges now, boy!" He winked at Harry and pulled open his coat to show Harry a tube wrapped in birthday wrap paper. Harry's eyes widened slightly and he grinned so that Marge wouldn't see. He didn't care if he got anything expensive, but it would be so nice to get something that wasn't stupid. After he finished the hedges and the raking, he hurried in to wash up before dinner. He found that the present had been tucked out of Marge's sight behind his pillow. It was marked, "Do not open until July 31." This was getting exciting.



During dinner he smiled vacantly at Aunt Marge as she said all manner of critical things to and about him. He thoughtfully gave her things to criticise him for - chewing with his mouth open, using his napkin as a bib, blowing his nose at the table - on the tablecloth, and on and on. It became an in-joke for Harry to see if he could make the Dursleys laugh out loud as he did things to rile Marge. Dudley often faked coughing spells to cover laughter.



Finally, Harry got some more salad from the large bowl and then proceeded to use the tongs to reach inside the back of his t-shirt and scratch.



"Nngh!" he groaned, "ever since I started getting these massive pimples on my back, they've been so itchy. Oh - aah - got that one."



Harry withdrew the tongs as Marge stared at him, mouth wide open, finally silenced. Harry reached to put the tongs back into the salad bowl and Petunia snatched them out of his hand, barely able to contain herself anymore.



"That's quite enough, young man. If you cannot be civilised, then you will retire to your room and work on your summer assignments."



Harry made a show of grouchily removing himself from the table. When he was sure Aunt Marge couldn't see it, he winked at Petunia; she had to bite her lip to keep from losing control.



Harry had already finished his assignments, but needed to research how to counter cheering charms. Not that he expected them to be used in a battle, but he couldn't let Tonks get away with that again. Not surprisingly it was not a topic commonly addressed in defense books. Before Harry knew it, he heard the bonging that announced midnight. His curiosity having grown through the night over what they might give when they were not antagonistic to him, he leapt for his present from the Dursleys. All his magical friends were holding his gifts until he returned to the Manor. Harry pulled open the wrapping paper and found - a cardboard tube. "A cardboard tube!" he said.



He heard Vernon behind him at the door, "Look inside, you silly wizard!" Petunia and Dudley were standing at the door smiling. Apparently Marge was already retired for the night.



Harry poked his finger in the tube and a piece of stiff paper came out. He unrolled it and found a large photograph. It was a muggle photograph, so it didn't move, but it showed Aunt Petunia and his mother in the center facing each other at angles, each holding a baby lovingly toward the camera, and behind each were their respective husbands, with their hands affectionately on their wives' shoulders.



"We didn't have many photos taken together, Harry," said Petunia quietly, "we really weren't very comfortable with their world. This was taken at your grandmother's house, a few months before she died, a year before your parents were killed. We were both so pleased to be able to show Mum that she had grandchildren. And of course, when she wanted to take a picture, none of us could say no."



"We couldn't give you anything valuable, well, of monetary value. Dumbledore always told us that, and most of the time we didn't much feel like it," said Uncle Vernon, "but we thought you might like this."



Harry turned to them with tears streaming down his eyes. "I have never, ever felt so much a part of a family as right now. Thank you so very much."



Harry could not get to sleep right away, even though he knew the morning run would come early. He took out parchment and quill and wrote to Hermione and Ron. He thought a second and addressed the letter to Ginny as well. He told them all about the picture and how it made him feel connected to his parents and grandparents. He realized that he had no pictures of his grandparents, though he had seen the photos on the wall as he grew up. He mentioned in his letter that he needed to ask Aunt Petunia if he could have duplicates made of several of them. When the letter was finished he rolled it up and retrieved Hedwig from her cage.



"Ready for a flight?" he asked and she hooted. "Of course, you are, Hedwig, my beautiful girl. You're always ready for a good flight. This is addressed to Hermione, Ron and Ginny, but I want you to deliver it directly to Ginny. She'll share it with the rest, but that'll let her know I was thinking of her. Oh, now don't be jealous, Hedwig. Nobody can take your place with me." She hooted again and ruffled out her feathers. "Right then," Harry said, "Off you go."



Harry was torn when the alarm went off the nest morning. He felt so at home that he wanted to just roll up in the blankets and stay in his comfortable cocoon. But then the thought intruded on him, as it had for more than a year, that if he wanted this and all the other things he valued to survive long, he had to prepare to meet whatever challenges may come. So he got up and ran.



He had felt very good, though, despite the short sleep, as it had been a particularly sound sleep. He ran farther than usual, but took no more time. He was most of the way through his shower, when his scar began to hurt again, and he realized that another attack was imminent. He threw a towel around his waist without even tying it and ran out of the bathroom toward his room, running into Aunt Marge as he did.



"Lowlife," she muttered, "probably just getting to bed." Ripper growled, and then went back to sleep in her arm.



Harry locked his door and grabbed some parchment to write down the locations. Then he tried to call Remus by mirror. He got no response and then he glanced out the window and saw that there had been a full moon, which was only just now, soon after daybreak, setting. So Harry called for Professor Dumbledore, who answered promptly.



"Harry, another attack? Give me the details, then we'll talk."



Harry described everything he knew and Dumbledore put down the mirror for a few minutes while he notified the aurors.



"Squads have been dispatched, Harry. Other than that, how are things? I can see you are keeping fit."



Harry had forgotten that he had come straight from the shower. "Oh sorry about that, Professor," he said, pulling a t-shirt from a drawer and pulling the towel across his lap.



"Nothing to be embarrassed of, Harry. Everything is pretty much the same in that regard from person to person. My only interest would be in your health."



"Of course, Professor. It just seemed odd, once I realized I was undressed."



Dumbledore smiled. "Happy birthday, Harry. It seems like only yesterday that you were born. Of course, at my age, it would seem a short time. And now here you are an adult as the wizarding world reckons things."



"Thank you, Professor. Let me show you what my aunt and uncle gave me." He reached for the picture.



"I hope it wasn't valuable - that's part of the protection."



"It is to me," said Harry. He held up the photograph.



"Yes," said Dumbledore, getting a catch in his throat, "I can see where it would be. But monetary value is our concern, and since it has only sentimental value, they have done well. They have been surprising me, of late."



"Same here, Professor," agreed Harry, "ever since you talked with them two years ago, they've been changing remarkably."



"I'll confess to having given them a potion to make them more receptive to my discussion, but anything I gave them would have worn off within hours. I have no ready explanation for this behavior. I'm aware of the training, and I'll assume that you would have told me of any other significant developments, so I'll turn to some business I have at hand. Letters are being prepared. I need to designate Head Boy. It is yours if you would like it."



Harry stared blankly a second and then spoke, "You mean, I could be Head Boy, without having been prefect?"



Dumbledore nodded once.



"Just as my father had been?"



Again Dumbledore nodded once.



"The acknowledged leader of the students."



Once more, Dumbledore nodded once, and then spoke, "It is recognition of the place you have assumed among your peers. All but a very few look up to you and would follow your lead through almost anything. To inspire hundreds of teenagers to get up before 5 a.m. every single day for over a year to go running in the pre-dawn Scottish Highlands cold is quite a feat. And yet they all do it because you do it."



Harry looked down. "And they have done it without me being Head Boy."



"Yes. Does that sadden you?"



"No. It makes me realize that for me being named Head Boy would be kind of hollow, a distraction even. I haven't wanted to admit to myself that I am a leader among the students, not in the sense of telling anyone what to do, but in setting the pace and the example. And they have been brilliant, inspiring me in turn to work even harder, that I may be worthy of the respect they give me. There are others who would fill the role of Head Boy better. I prefer the title Coach - it fits me. I don't need the recognition."



"It might go to Mr. Malfoy."



Harry shuddered. "If that is who you think should have that authority, then I will trust that you have your reasons."



"Right then, Harry. Who would you recommend for Head Boy?"



"Either Ernie McMillan or Ron Weasley. As much as I would like to favor my best friend, I can't say that either would be better or worse in the position."



"Very well, Harry. Mr. McMillan will be Head Boy. You are right in your assessment. Both would be exemplary, but we try not to have Head Boy and Head Girl from the same house, if it can be sensibly avoided."



"Then Hermione ...?"



Dumbledore nodded.



"That's wonderful. She deserves it; she's such a wonderful student."



"That she is, but that is not the basis for my choice. She has grown into a true leader as well, from being quite the loner when she arrived at Hogwarts. And I attribute that growth to your influence."



"I thought I was slowing her down by pulling her away from studies."



"If you didn't interfere with her writing ever longer essays, I am afraid I would have a rebellion among the teachers."



"But what if I had accepted?"



"Very few would have criticized selecting the two of you - and I would not alter my decisions based on such opinions."



"May I tell her when I get back to Longbottom Manor?"



"No, but only because if you knew in advance, it would be obvious that I consulted with you before making the selection."



"And to do that would allow people to guess that Head Boy was offered to me and turned down. And that would cheapen it for Ernie."



"Precisely. You are really developing an understanding and empathy for people. I don't think I have ever been more proud of one of my students."



"Thank you, Professor. That's the second priceless gift I've received today."



"But don't let it go to your head, Harry."



Harry smiled, "I won't."

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #18  
Old November 27th, 2006, 10:43 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 16 Good-bye, Aunt Marge



Harry's workouts during his birthday were tinged with sadness, as he realized that there was a very substantial chance he would never be back to these places again. No matter what happened during the school year, he was reasonably sure he would be moving on afterward - if there was to be an afterward for him. And that thought as well was difficult, as he had really given so little thought in the past couple of years to doing something after school. Even when he had career counseling in fifth year, his notion to become an auror was mostly just something to say, just as when he was five and said he would become a fireman. Fighting had never given him pleasure, not the way playing quidditch or coaching the DA had.



In the late afternoon after his other workouts were over, Harry decided that he would go for a walk around Little Whinging so he could see all the places he remembered from growing up. He had horrible memories and some which weren't really so bad after all. He wanted to make peace with his memories, both good and bad. He made a point of taking his wands and his mirror with him, just in case.



When he returned, Marge too seemed to sense the passing of an era - she would no longer have the chance to bully Harry Potter. As he came in the door, she confronted him. "So there you are, skulking about, vandalizing the neighborhood, no doubt, without even the decency to help your poor Aunt Petunia about the house, though she has provided meals and a roof for you all these years!"



"I know you heard me ask her if there was anything she would like done before I left, Aunt Marge," replied Harry tiredly.



"Don't you take that tone with me! They might put up with it, but you'll not talk to me that way. You need to learn to talk proper to your betters," she went on.



"I'll keep that in mind when I'm speaking with my betters," Harry said quietly.



"What!? You despicable oaf!" Marge then turned to her bulldog. "Ripper! Sic him!"



Ripper continued to sleep at the foot of the stairs, where he had parked himself most of July.



Harry shook his head with resigned pity for her, and then turned to step over Ripper and go to his room. Marge spied the mirror and snatched it out of his waistband.



"Where'd you steal this from? - looks like an antique."



"Give that back, Marge," Harry said low and stern.



"AUNT Marge to you, buster, and I asked you a question."



"It's mine. My godfather gave it to me two Christmases ago."



"Liar! Now answer me before I call the bobbies - where'd you steal this from?"



"It's mine," he said with a growl.



By now, Aunt Petunia had heard the dispute and was coming out from the kitchen.



"Oh, yeah, then why do you carry it?" said Marge.



"I use it," said Harry.



"Liar! I see that hair! You haven't used a mirror to do anything with that in years."



"It's mine - GIVE IT BACK!" Harry roared.



Marge flung the mirror toward the fireplace.



"ACCIO MIRROR," yelled Harry, and the mirror flew to his hand.



Marge stared in amazement, then peered suspiciously at him. "How'd you do that?"



"I reached for the mirror and grabbed it."



"No, I mean making it come to your hand so that you could grab it?"



"You're mistaken," said Harry, "I've just got quick reflexes. I jumped over and grabbed it."



"Liar! I saw that mirror change course in mid-air."



"Of course," said Harry, "I grabbed it and it changed course when I had hold of it. You just missed it because you weren't expecting someone to have such quick reflexes."



"That's what I saw, Marge," added Petunia, "you've got to figure that a boy his size who can last in boxing with Dudley has to have developed good reflexes."



"Exactly," said Harry.



"Harry," said Petunia, "I've got the rest of your clothes cleaned for going back to your boot camp. Take them upstairs and we'll fold them together."



"Yes, Aunt Petunia," replied Harry. He went through the kitchen to the laundry room and grabbed the stack of dried clothes there. He carried them upstairs, with Petunia close by him to keep Marge from doing anything further. When they got upstairs, she closed the door.



"Harry, you did that without a wand! How long have you been doing that!?" she asked incredulously.



"Oh, for a long time. Like, erm - the last time Aunt Marge visited," replied Harry.



"Yes, but that was just you losing your temper. This was controlled. I know from your mother that that is usually very limited. She did very little without her wand."



"It's been getting better over the past couple of years. I've worked at it. You never know when you might be without your wand."



Just then they heard Vernon and Dudley coming in the front door. Marge squabbled at them about the mirror, but Vernon shrugged it all off. As Harry turned to pick up another shirt to fold, he saw Hedwig fly up to his window and, finding it closed, wheeling around to find another means to get to her master and her cage.



"Oh, no," said Harry, "I meant to tell her to stay with my friends."



Hedwig found entrance through the parlor window and flew right past Marge, grazing her hair.



"AND THAT'S ANOTHER THING!" roared Marge, pounding up the stairs and bursting into Harry's room, as Hedwig took her perch. "No decent person keeps an owl as a pet. Only a freak would keep a creepy night creature like that as a pet. You've got to mend your ways, boy!"



Marge then shoved Harry backward and he fell on his bed. Marge opened the window with her left hand, while grabbing Hedwig about the neck with the right. She threw Hedwig violently out the window, yelling "Go, bird, return to the forest where you belong!"



Hedwig had other ideas and after ruffling her feathers in flight a couple of times, she soared back toward her home and the boy she loved. Marge made to grab her again, but her wrists were suddenly grabbed by slender hands with a very firm grip.



"NO!" shouted Petunia, wrenching Marge's hands back away from Hedwig. "YOU'LL KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OTHER PEOPLE'S PETS AND THINGS. HARRY LIVES HERE AND HIS THINGS WILL NOT BE DISTURBED! AND THE OWL HAS BEEN A LOVELY GUEST HERE - ALWAYS CLEAN - UNLIKE A CERTAIN SMELLY INCONTINENT BEAST YOU INSIST ON IMPOSING ON THIS HOUSE!"



"PETUNIA!" yelled Marge, "HOW DARE YOU MOLEST ME! AND HOW CAN YOU BE SO IRRESPONSIBLE AS TO CODDLE THAT BOY IN HIS WEIRDNESS!? IT NEEDS TO BE STOMPED RIGHT OUT OF HIM!"



"I'LL TAKE HIS WAYS OVER YOURS ANY DAY, MARGE. JUST LEAVE HIM ALONE!"



Just then Dudley called from downstairs. "Mum! Ripper's just soiled the carpet again!"



Petunia's eyes blazed, as she made for the door. "We'll eliminate that problem once and for all!"



"No, you won't, Petunia," yelled Marge, shoving her sister-in-law against the wardrobe as she ran to get to Ripper first.



Petunia was close on Marge's heels and as Marge got to the head of the stairs, Petunia's anger got the better of her and she gave Marge an enormous shove, sending her flying headfirst down the stairs, clearing them all as her face headed directly for the floor, as well as the enormous mound of soggy steaming excrement Ripper had left.



"WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA" shouted Harry from the top of the stairs, wand drawn, stopping Marge no more than an inch from colliding with the floor. Her legs were waving in the air like a hydra's tentacles, and her skirt flew down around her torso, disturbed only by her flailing arms. She was screaming incomprehensibly.



Petunia put her hand on Harry's shoulder, "Thanks, Harry, I don't know what came over me. I didn't want to hurt her. I wouldn't even have hurt Ripper."



"Glad to do it, Aunt Petunia, I know you didn't want to injure her. That was really brilliant the way you told her off upstairs. I hope you understand that I'll have to get a wizard in here to modify her memory. I'd do it myself, but I may be a bit clumsy with it yet. I don't want to do any damage."



Harry called Remus on the mirror while Petunia went down to explain the need to Vernon and Dudley.



"Harry, another attack?" asked Remus. Harry noted how bedraggled Remus looked from the werewolf transformation and the wolfsbane potion he must have taken.



"Not the kind you're thinking. I had to use magic on my aunt and we need a Ministry Wizard to come and clear her memory of the incident."



"Harry, did you lose your temper with her again? I thought you were working on that."



"No, that's not it, Remus. She was falling down the stairs and I stopped her before she hit the floor. See!" Harry turned the mirror so that Remus could see the scene.



"Aarooo!" howled Remus painfully and then began laughing, "Don't ever show anyone anything like that without a proper warning, Harry. I might have gone blind. You know you don't have to leave her like that - no wonder she's screaming."



"Well, that," said Harry with an impish smile, "and the fact that I stopped her face one inch from the floor, but there were two inches of dog poo on the floor. She has her nose sticking in it and she can't move her head without smearing it all over herself."



"Harry!" scolded Remus, but with his own tone of amusement.



"Oh, alright, then," said Harry, and with a wave of his hand, she rose higher, and with another wave she was turned rightside up. Harry took out a wand and pointed it at her face and said "Scourgify," and the mess on it was removed. As she was still screaming, he then said "Silencio," which allowed her to go through all the efforts of screaming, but without sound. Then he pointed at the mess on the floor and said "Scourgify," and the mess there was completely eliminated.



Petunia knelt down where the mess was and examined it closely. "Oh, Harry, it's like new." She had tears in her eyes, as she gazed up the stairs toward him. "Could you possibly do the other areas where Ripper made a mess?"



Harry looked in the mirror to Remus. "Can I?"



Remus shrugged. "You're an adult now, big fella: do it if you want. I'll be going now. I'll send a memory specialist immediately. Happy birthday, Harry!"



"Thanks, Remus. I'll see you first thing in the morning, if I don't have to call sooner."



Harry went about the downstairs with Aunt Petunia, scourgifying all the spots she could find, a number of which Harry knew could not be blamed on the dog, but he didn't care. While he was doing this, the memory wizard arrived and modified Marge's memory. She went into a very deep sleep.



"That'll last a couple of hours or so. Nothing to worry about. It's a big stress to have your memory modified."



"Thanks," said Harry and the Dursleys, just before the wizard disapparated.



"So, Harry, "said Vernon nervously, "I thought your kind had rules against a youngster doing magic like this."



"Oh, yes, we do, but I'm not underage now. The law applies to those under 17."



Vernon blanched. "I have feared this day, Potter. I thought the age might be 18. I just didn't know. I'm afraid we treated you very poorly for quite some time. I'm sure you have wanted to settle things once and for all for a long time. I know we can't stop you, so go ahead and do what you have a mind to."



Harry still had a wand out. He approached Vernon with a crafty look on his face.



"Yes, indeed," he said, "you have been quite beastly at times."



Then he threw his arms as far as he could around Vernon. "But I couldn't harm you. All is forgiven. I know it was your fear of magic making you act that way. I'm just so glad these past two summers have been so much better."



Then Harry hugged his aunt. Dudley wouldn't let him hug, so they shoved each other playfully.



"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'll miss you all very much."



"Don't go, Harry," said Petunia. "Don't go. You're safe here. Wait out the war. Something will happen to bring it to an end, and then you can return to that world."



Harry closed his eyes. "I cannot tell you how tempting that is. But right now I do not need that temptation. I couldn't live with myself if I left the battle to others, especially as I've been asked to help them prepare to meet Voldemort's supporters. It would be as shameful and wrong of me to turn my back on them as anything could be. And besides, the war won't just blow over. Voldemort believes I am his primary threat, and I've realized that this is so. Eventually the war would find its way here, and the sanctity of this home would be no more. Among my friends I have allies, who will help me stand up against him. I must get back to them."



Harry went upstairs and packed his things. He made sure Hedwig was okay, which she was, except for a few broken feathers which he carefully trimmed. The sun was going down, so he told her she could go get some dinner while he ate with his family. Then he stroked her before launching her out the window. He went downstairs and had dinner with the Dursleys, with much of laughter and tears.



When they were done, he cleaned the kitchen magically. Petunia was thrilled, but she still had that look she always got when the place was not quite clean enough. Then he went upstairs to gather all his things and return to Longbottom Manor. Marge was waking. He looked at her and realized he no longer felt the animosity that used to roil him.


"Good-bye, Aunt Marge," he said, and then he went up the stairs, laid hold of his things and Hedwig's cage, with Hedwig in it again, and returned to training camp.

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #19  
Old November 30th, 2006, 9:58 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 18 The Home Front

By the end of the first week of training, a reorganization of schedules seemed in order. Since all of the adults already had the beginnings of a patronus when they arrived, much progress had been made in having them master the patronus and test against the lethifold. Only eight adults who had corporeal patronuses could not produce them when there was a deathly threat, and Tonks was the only adult whose patronus was still too indistinct to give more than a few seconds pause to a dementor. It was decided that the teams would have morning and afternoon sessions with Moody and Mrs. Longbottom, from which the trainees who needed patronus work would check out for one half hour each day for intensive one-on-one work with Harry and Remus. In the late afternoons, all the Hogwarts students who still needed to work on their patronuses would come up to the attic for a group session, very much like DA Patronus work.

The activity and sense of purpose was all very enjoyable to Harry: he would even have called it a happy time, were it not for the circumstances. Of course, there was the ever-present terror war. Non-combatant casualties had been held to only about fifty people, evenly split between wizards and muggles, and eleven goblins by the beginning of August. A communication link had been set up between Remus and a goblin liaison, which had cut the rate of goblin deaths and made the Diagon Alley sector even more secure for all.

Also Harry’s mind was more often filled with brooding about Marietta’s death, now that thoughts of her had again been brought to the front of his mind. He tried to get Cho to set a time to talk with him about Marietta, but she kept putting him off as though she was too busy catching up with her other friends there at training. He suspected she was actually avoiding him. He was tempted to use legilemency on her, but controlled that urge. He decided that she probably knew what he wanted to talk with her about, since they had done the same thing the year before over Cedric Diggory’s death. Perhaps she wasn’t ready to hash it out – she and Marietta had been close friends for years.

Another threat to Harry’s happiness, and he well knew it was the most threatening, was sensing Voldemort probing his mind. Very little that Harry consciously thought of could be kept a secret anymore, just as Harry was aware of any attacks and schemes of Voldemort. In fact, Harry was only too aware that the approval of targets by Voldemort was a deliberate strike at Harry’s emotional state. The Death Eaters and their allies were fully capable of fanning out and killing randomly: Voldemort wanted Harry to be forced to be a conduit, so that Harry would be incensed and more open to Voldemort’s mind. Harry had discussed this with Dumbledore, who thought that the breakdown of the division between their minds was probably beyond the power of occlumency to debar. Dumbledore insisted on frequently checking that Harry was maintaining his individuality against Voldemort. Dumbledore required that Harry spend at least two hours each day with Cameron working on positive emotions and how to live by universal love, and if Harry started to let that schedule slip in his focus on his own and others’ training, Moody or Mrs. Longbottom would intervene to free up the needed time.

When Harry pointed out that at least the link was enabling them to thwart most of the attacks, Dumbledore sighed. “Yes, Harry, but I’m afraid this also takes a toll on your independence from him. You know that part of the purpose of the attacks is to fill you with anger and hatred so that you will be more vulnerable to him; you must keep up the fight within you to be separate from him, to maintain your own soul against his pressures.”

Harry got a sudden severe pain at that moment and winced. “He has heard that, Professor, and he insists he will overcome me. He scoffs at my insistence that I will not let it happen.”

Harry also was frustrated in simply wanting someone special in his life. Camaraderie with Remus, Ron and his other friends only went so far. He wanted the emotional intimacy that buddies could not provide. Even the intense talks with Cameron did not fill the void. He realized that he wanted the comfort of a loving relationship with a woman. Though he would have preferred to have this relationship with Ginny, that possibility seemed to have been closed.

Harry recognized that a substantial part of the feeling was simply raging teenage hormones. He talked it over with Cameron who helped him realize that more than just the unmistakable desire for physical contact with a woman, he also craved emotional intimacy. Harry came to understand this and felt a bit embarrassed at how much he had the sense of desiring physical contact. However, Cameron reassured Harry that such desire for contact was entirely normal for people. He also confirmed Harry’s gut feeling that touch was a critical component in signifying and expressing emotional intimacy and openness. They talked several times about the time involved in establishing and maintaining that. While this did not relieve the yearning, it at least let Harry know that it would not be quickly solved, so he would have to be patient.

In his awareness of this desire, Harry realized that he was noticing Ginny more and that she was paying attention to him. It was odd, he thought. At the beginning of the summer he had merely an inkling of having such an interest in her, and even when he had talked to her, it was still just a vague sense; but ever since she had turned him away, he was fascinated. He had always wanted to be appreciated just for himself, not for reputation or money or such. The fact that she rejected him showed that those things were not enough to entice her. There was something more that she needed, and he was determined to figure it out.

By the same token, Harry knew that if he did show whatever it was she was looking for, she would see it. He saw that if she was in the area, and in the close confines of a training camp at a manor house this was inevitable much of the time, she noticed - when he sought out Cho to find a time to talk, or when he horsed around with Tonks, or got advice and hugs from Hermione, or had long talks with Luna. At such times, her expression was definitely not neutral: on occasions it was plainly hostile.

Again, it took all of Harry’s willpower to hold back from using legilemency. He even could feel Voldemort pushing him to use it, as Voldemort seemed to be particularly intent on keeping Harry from as much emotional support as he could. He hoped that practicing resisting Voldemort’s prodding to use legilemency would strengthen him against Voldemort in other respects. He described this to Dumbledore, who could only say that he agreed with that hope.

Harry clung fiercely to the idea that invading another’s mind unbidden is just as much a violation as touching them in ways unwanted and uninvited. Voldemort frequently worked on seducing Harry into using that power as a means to know others’ minds and therefore be able to control them. Voldemort showed Harry how easy it was to step from legilemency to various forms of possession. Inevitably Voldemort would go too far, reading Harry’s interest in Ginny and trying to tempt him with the prospect of being able to control her and compel her to serve his desires. Voldemort was unable to appreciate the revulsion that came to Harry at this notion. To Voldemort, people existed for his use. He tried to tell Harry that subverting the will in this way was not overpowering the person, but Harry recognized such a use as rape, at least spiritually so if not in the physical act.

The prospect of knowing others’ thoughts was very tempting to Harry, but Voldemort was so oblivious to the idea of valuing others for themselves that he would show not just knowledge of others’ minds but subjection of them. As the connection grew more open, Voldemort could no longer simply visualize an image so that Harry would simply see it – Harry saw the whole thought process as well. Harry sensed not just what Voldemort wanted to show, but also the thinking behind it, the contempt for others inherent in it and the monstrous extents to which Voldemort was accustomed to using it. Harry shuddered to think of how Ginny would detest him if she knew what the voice within him pushed him to do. Even without this fear, the disgust Harry felt at the idea of undermining the will of a person he loved strengthened him in his resolve to resist such efforts.

In addition to these problems, there was Harry’s towering frustration with Tonks. Harry could continue to work with Neville and the other students who could not master the Patronus Charm, both at the Manor and through the school year. But it particularly nettled him that Tonks could not handle this absolutely critical spell. It wasn’t for want of trying, on either of their part. For all her carefree attitude, she just did not seem to be able to find and hold onto a sufficiently intense happy thought. It really irked Harry.

On the first Sunday of August, many of the trainees played a pick-up game of Quidditch. There were more than enough players, either from current or past teams, or those who hadn’t been on teams who enjoyed a good excuse to fly and chase around a field in the mid-summer sun. They decided to play the game with each team having 2 seekers, 4 beaters, 2 keepers and 7 chasers. Cho and Harry were seeking on opposite teams, and with so many beaters available, one on each team was assigned to each of them to keep them from getting the snitch. The other two seekers were rusty, so they didn’t merit the special attention.

They were having a rollicking good time, with plenty of mid-air collisions and rescues by Neville, Hermione and Wimbush, who had volunteered to catch people knocked from their brooms, when Harry’s scar began to hurt more than it had all summer. He sent the red sparks from his wand for an emergency timeout and set to the ground, where Remus was ready with parchment to take down the details. Harry reeled off location after location.

After a dozen, Remus said, “That’s all the standing teams available.”

“Keep writing,” said Harry, and listed off six more.

At the last one, Ernie gasped and got bug-eyes. “That’s my home!” he said and disapparated.

“Remus, get teams out! We can make teams here. I’m going to help Ernie. I know his neighborhood,” said Harry, and as Remus tried to stop him Harry disapparated.

Harry apparated behind a dumpster down an alley behind the Indian restaurant near the McMillans’ house. He scared a pair of cats, and their sudden cries scared him in turn. This was a very widespread attack and Harry knew that the intention was to make sure there would be plenty of casualties, so he had to be watchful. His heart thumped in his chest and he consciously composed himself so that he could think clearly.

Seeing no signs of magical activity in the alley, he apparated to the roof of the restaurant and scouted the area from there. Leaning over the streetside edge of the roof, he saw Ernie running into the house with wand drawn and spells firing. Harry apparated back to the alley and hustled from alcove to alcove in case there were sorcerers still outside. He found none all the way to Ernie’s door. As he approached, he saw frequent flashes of light which he recognized as the glow from potentially deadly spells from the drawing room windows. They were flying as intensely as any duel he had seen Ernie in before.

Harry peeped around the frame of the open door and saw Ernie engaged in a furious battle with a hooded Death Eater. Just then, Ernie reflected a red cutting spell back at the Death Eater, who barely moved his head in time. Instead the spell slashed through the hood and tore it off. Harry recognized the wizard as Mulciber. Harry fired an anti-disapparation spell at Mulciber who saw it coming, blocked it, and then disapparated.

“There’s a dementor upstairs, Harry. I don’t know where my parents are. Stand guard.”

Ernie ran upstairs, shouting “Expecto Patronum” and sending his patronus on ahead to deal with the dementor. Harry checked around the first floor and out the windows and doors, and then he too started up the stairs. Harry heard the sound of doors on their hinges, and then the dementor came gliding down the stairs with Ernie’s patronus behind it. Harry tried several spells to see if anything would affect it – stunner, Petrificus Totalis, Impedimenta, the cutting spell Dobby had used to kill Fudge, even a cheering charm – but all he could do is ruffle its robes.

As the dementor evacuated the house, Tonks and Dawkins arrived at the door. Seeing a dementor coming at them, Dawkins conjured his patronus and the dementor escaped down the street, chased by the two patronuses.

“We’ve searched the perimeter,” said Dawkins. “Is the house safe?”

Just then there was a howl from upstairs.

“Downstairs is. McMillan’s upstairs. Cover it here. Tonks, let’s go,” said Harry quickly.

He and Tonks ran to the top of the stairs. Harry directed Tonks to the right, and Harry went to the left, to where he could hear the sound of sobbing. He checked the bedroom and the bathroom on the left side as he went, and then went into Ernie’s parents’ room on the right, from which he could hear bawling. He found Ernie standing in the room, clutching his mother desperately and crying into her shoulder. Iphigenia stood completely indifferent to his hug and tears. She stared off vacantly into the distance, half-hissing, half-whispering to herself. She was in a dressing gown which she allowed to hang open, heedless of anything around her at all. She showed no recognition of Ernie, or Harry, or anything. A few seconds later Tonks came to the door.

“Harry, what’s going … oh, no, I’ve seen this - the dementor’s kiss,” said Tonks, reducing her voice to a husky whisper. “What happened, Harry?”

“I don’t know. I just got here myself.” Harry approached Ernie gingerly and placed a supportive hand on his back. “Ernie?”

Ernie never let go of his mother, but caught himself enough to say, “I don’t know … I sent my patronus ahead … when I got to the head of the stairs, … I saw the dementor coming out of the room … I found Mum like this.”

He then began bawling again and Harry and Tonks came to each side of him, making supportive gestures, however feeble. They did not sob, but both had tears forming in their eyes. Harry had never felt so entirely useless as at that moment. He also felt guilty.

Then they heard a commotion downstairs, and heard Porphyrio’s voice. “It’s my home. I have to know what’s happened.”

Dawkins then was heard. “Upstairs, sir. I don’t know what the situation is: it seems to be secure.”

Ernie ran and met his father in the hall, quietly preparing his father for the situation. Porphyrio came to the door, with obvious dread, and saw his wife. Iphigenia was wandering around, turning when her feet bumped into things, feebly grasping objects like she recognized them, and then dropping them. Porphyrio grabbed her and called to her. He shook her shoulders, trying to get some reaction from her. She looked right through him, without focus, quietly and aimlessly hissing. She had lost the serene look Harry had been so enamored of: instead she looked as if she was dwelling on some vague worry. Porphyrio hugged her to him and cried bitterly.

Harry’s heart felt like it would rip, but then he felt a different feeling rising within him. He had to suppress a desire to laugh – not a nervous laugh but a vigorous cold cackle. It rose within him and nearly erupted. It made him ill to have the feeling and he exerted a lot of effort to suppress it. He forced himself to think of healthier thoughts. He reached an arm out and squeezed Ernie’s shoulder with one hand, but the voice within him grew louder when he tried to look at Ernie. The two of them were shaking with rage and fear.

Harry turned to Tonks and hugged her. He whispered that he needed to drive out the voice in his head and he squeezed her tight. She squeezed him back and whispered encouragement, “You can beat it, fella. You’ve got the caring heart. You can drive him out. You’re better than that.” Finally he was able to expel the sickening impulse.

Arrangements were made and Iphigenia, Ernie, and Porphyrio were taken to St. Mungo’s. The excuse was to see if any of her soul remained, but Tonks quietly told Harry that the real reason was to have a chance to counsel the family. Harry helped to apparate them there. Porphyrio thanked him, but then asked if they could just have family time. Harry and the aurors understood. Tonks and Dawkins had to report back to the Ministry to fill out the paperwork and Harry was to apparate back to the Manor. Before leaving he encouraged Ernie to take all the time he needed.

Back at the Manor, he quickly located Remus and Cameron, and then called Dumbledore on the mirror. They all talked about the sick feeling he had gotten from Voldemort’s emotions. They agreed Harry had become vulnerable to such a strong intrusion because of the fear and anger he was feeling. Harry recognized that he had to learn to control his emotions even under the most horrific of circumstances, so that he could maintain his separateness. They all also gently but firmly scolded Harry for apparating out to the attack himself, but none of them could bring themselves to be severe with him. Lupin took Cameron’s paperwork so that Harry could have a long, healthy talk with him.

“Cameron, it’s my fault.”

“For what, Harry, not arriving sooner? You shouldn’t have gone at all.”

“No. She was targeted because I had been so enthralled with her. When I visited a couple of weeks ago, I found her so remarkable. She was kind and talented and gentle and open and charming – no, beyond charming, gracious, not just in a formal way. Grace infused her. When I would hear of all the good things that people say about my mother, I came to doubt that anyone could be so wonderful, but there was Iphigenia, being just like that. Voldemort knew how I felt. He sent one of his deadliest Death Eaters to make sure the job would get done. And now she’s an empty shell of a person – because of me.”

Harry broke down and began sobbing into his hands. Cameron rubbed his shoulders supportively.

“Harry, I can’t say that you are not the reason that Voldemort chose her. You know his mind better than anyone. But you mustn’t feel guilty. Guilt attaches to the choices we make – not the choices others make. The taint in our souls comes from what is within them, not what is outside. And as much as his thoughts invade your mind, your mind is still your own and you have not acted to harm anyone.”

Harry nodded understanding of the words. He continued to cry off and on as they discussed his admiration for Iphigenia, his grief at her destruction, and the idea that he was not at fault. They talked a long time, and Harry understood what was being said, but still, in his heart, Harry felt that somehow he was indeed at fault.

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
  #20  
Old December 4th, 2006, 8:29 pm
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Re: Harry Potter and the War Within - Rewrite

Chapter 19 – Dealing with Dementors

That evening, during the regular review of developments in the war, Mrs. Longbottom paid special attention in describing the entire attack at the McMillans and what happened to Iphigenia McMillan to those at dinner. Everyone needed to know how close to home this all could strike and the importance of a patronus. Harry was relieved to see that Ernie was not sitting through this as he had not yet returned. Harry himself was barely able to maintain his composure. Mrs. Longbottom had warned him that she was going to give this talk and invited him to slip away if he needed to. Harry said that he thought it best if he stay, but that he would prefer not to be asked to say anything about it in front of everyone. Mrs. Longbottom signified her understanding and agreement with a solemn nod.

The talk had the desired effect. The next day, everyone redoubled their efforts at training. In Patronus sessions Harry was as singularly focused as anyone had ever seen him. He was determined that everyone be able to counter a dementor. After very intense practice sessions, three more adult wizards and two more Hogwarts students had breakthroughs on their patronus; all five tested against the lethifold and they all passed.

Almost every moment he wasn’t working with a patronus student, Harry would apparate to the dueling pitches and help people sharpen up their spells, their speed, their reflexes, and their movements. To Harry, a lost minute could mean a lost soul, and he could not abide that such a thing could happen because he had not been vigorous enough. He understood Cameron’s words that the attacks were not his fault, though they were hard to take to heart, but Harry believed that if it was in his power to enable someone to defeat an attack, it was his fault if a trainee was unprepared.

The last patronus session before the dinner break was Tonks. Harry asked Remus to work with her while he watched. He watched her intently as Remus demonstrated the patronus again, listened to her pronunciation, and helped her choose a very happy thought. Harry watched as she tried again and again to produce a patronus, but made only a silvery cloud, which quickly dissipated. Harry stepped in a few times to tweak things she was doing, but he found himself getting very agitated about it, and Remus would calm him and ask him to sit again.

As Harry sat, Hermione, Ron and Neville came to watch. They sat behind him and gave him a pat on the back, but said nothing. They had seen Harry with this sort of concentration before. He had shown it many times when he was coaching, and they would not interfere at this moment. They were not afraid of his reaction; it was just that they knew that his mind was totally committed to his student at such times. Very often they found that students made leaps of progress at just such times.

Finally, Harry could abide it no more. He leapt from his bench and rushed at Tonks. He grabbed her nearest shoulder and turned her to face him. He grasped her by both upper arms and he peered deeply into her eyes as if he were looking directly into her mind. He started screaming at her.

“TONKS, WHAT IS THE MATTER!? WHY DO YOU PLAY AROUND AT THIS!? WE HAVE LESS THAN A MONTH LEFT HERE AND YOU HAVE TO LEARN THIS! YOU RUSH OUT TO FIGHT VOLDEMORT’S TEAMS, BUT YOU HAVE NOTHING YOU CAN DO AGAINST THE MOST DEADLY OF HIS FORCES. YOU CAN DISABLE A WIZARD, BUT YOU CAN’T STOP A DEMENTOR WITHOUT A PATRONUS. I TRIED SPELLS: THEY DON’T WORK ON DEMENTORS. I CAN’T KEEP SENDING YOU OUT TO FIGHT DEMENTORS WITHOUT A PATRONUS!”

Tonks was shaking with fear and her lip quivered as she said weakly, “Harry, you don’t send me out. The Ministry does. I’m an auror.”

Harry’s eyes blazed in intensity, and he resumed his yelling, even louder, gripping her upper arms firmer and leaning in even closer, “A PRETTY EFFING USELESS ONE, IF YOU CAN’T MAKE A PATRONUS. AND I MAY NOT GIVE YOU THE ORDERS, BUT I GIVE ALL THE INFORMATION TO THE AURORS’ LIAISON.”

Harry nodded his head to indicate Remus. Remus took this slight lull to try to intervene, but Harry stared him back with a fierce but controlled glare. Remus relented when he realized Harry was not going to physically harm her.

Harry started in on Tonks again, still yelling, but not quite as loud. “You saw Mrs. McMillan yesterday! She was little but a zombie. Tonks, I knew her. She was gracious, and kind, and even though she was not a very powerful witch, she brought beauty and charm to everything around her. It tore me up to see her that way! And you remind me so much of her – you add so much joy and exuberance and you spread cheer and charm to those around you. To me! I couldn’t stand to see in your eyes the emptiness I saw yesterday in hers. I just couldn’t take it. I love you too much. So YOU HAVE TO LEARN THIS! YOU JUST HAVE TO LEARN THIS! YOU JUST HAVE TO LEARN THIS!”

He broke down and began sobbing as he continued quietly, “You just … have to …”

Tonks looked up at him, and she was crying as well. Hermione, Ron and Neville came up to Harry and led him out of the patronus practice room, as Remus took Tonks under his arm and comforted her.

Out in the hall, Harry started to control his tears and rage. “I’m sorry. I just lost it.”

“Don’t be sorry, mate,” said Ron quietly, “We all know how much you care.”

“It’s a wonder you don’t break down entirely,” said Hermione.

“It must be awful,” said Neville, “to work so hard with someone you care so much about, when you’re sure they ought to be able to do it, and get nowhere.”

They all looked at him, and then he realized why, and said with a nervous chuckle, “Oh, yeah, I guess I could be talking about myself. No wonder Gran was so hard on me for so long.”

Harry began to laugh, and they all joined him,

“How about a workout, Harry?” suggested Hermione. “You know how doing lifts helps you get the tension out.”

They all headed down to the dorms for their gym clothes and then went to the gym which had been installed. It was over forty minutes of very robotic and brisk weight-lifting before Harry came out of the funk of his rage.

At the end of the workout, Neville came to Harry and asked if they could all talk privately. He also collected Ron and Hermione. They took quick showers and went out to the paddock near the kitchen door which they went by each morning for their run.

“It’s like this,” began Neville, “All this with Ernie’s Mum and Harry’s, erm, reaction with Tonks, has got me really worried about the dementors. You’ve worked with me for 2 years now. And I know I have made a lot of progress on other things, but I’m no closer to a corporeal patronus than I was last summer.”

“Well, you’re making a bigger mist,” offered Harry.

“But it won’t get the job done, will it?” asked Neville, and Harry sadly shook his head. “And what’s more, if you three couldn’t make a patronus, you could at least apparate away, if you kept your wits about you. I couldn’t even do that. I need some other way to deal with dementors besides hiding behind others. Look what happened to Mrs. McMillan – that could have been me. What can I do?”

“I don’t know of any other spells or charms that work,” said Harry. “I tried several at the McMillans’”.

“I haven’t heard of any either,” said Hermione, furrowing her brow. Ron nodded his agreement thoughtfully.

“You know,” said Harry, “I was thinking earlier this summer how we needed a way to permanently incapacitate dementors. If we can’t knock them out of action, we’ll have to keep on dealing with them forever. A patronus doesn’t destroy them – it just chases them away.”

Neville nodded. “Too bad we can’t petrify them, like happened to you, Hermione.”

“Yeah,” said Harry, “but I tried the petrification spell on the dementor at the McMillans and it didn’t do a thing. Cheering charms don’t work either.”

“Cheering charms?” said Ron.

Harry shrugged. “I tried other things first. It seemed to be the thing most contrary to their character – can you imagine a happy dementor?”

“In a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops,” added Ron.

“And a thong,” said Hermione.

They all shuddered and laughed.

“Hermione!” said Ron, incredulously, “Where’d that come from?”

“Ron, I have a sense of humor, too, you know.”

“Since when?”

“Well, I’d have to have one to be seeing you!”

“Is that so? Well, I like that!”

“Hold on,” said Harry. “Time out, you two. Let’s get back to what really might work with dementors.”

They thought for several minutes before Hermione said, “You know, maybe petrification would work.”

“But Hermione, I tried to petrify it – no go,” said Harry.

“And if Harry’s spells won’t do it, what hope have I?” added Neville.

“I wasn’t thinking of a spell. They aren’t as strong as some other types of magic. Have you ever tried to petrify a ghost?”

“Once, when Moaning Myrtle decided to make a habit of joining me in the shower,” said Harry.

“It didn’t work, did it,” continued Hermione with a smirk.

“No, she laughed and said she almost felt it.”

“But Nearly Headless Nick was petrified five years ago.”

The boys stared at her for several seconds. Then Harry said, “But that was done by a basilisk. Three problems there: it’s perhaps the deadliest creature ever made, it was about the size of an Underground train, and I killed it.”

“Well, you need something very powerful to stop a dementor,” said Hermione, “and that one was 1000 years old – of course it was big. And if that one was hatched, another one can be.”

“Hermione, I thought you were daft when you decided to make Polyjuice potion - ,” said Ron.

“What!?” said Neville.

“Oh, uh, extra credit for Potions,” said Harry.

“Oh,” said Neville, clearly not entirely convinced, but knowing enough about his friends to not ask too many questions.

“Hermione, for a basilisk to kill or petrify, don’t you have to look it in the eye?” said Neville.

“Yes, Neville, that’s why we had no fatalities second year – no one looked at it directly except for Nick, who couldn’t die again. Well, the bite is deadly poisonous, too, but somehow I doubt poisons would work on a dementor.”

“Well, aren’t dementors blind?” he continued.

Hermione frowned at that and thought.

“Not totally,” said Ron.

“What?” said the others together.

“I know they have some way of telling light from dark – they prefer to stay in darkness. And if they didn’t have some sort of vision, they probably would end up dressed like Dobby, rather than in the black robes they’re always in.”

“Like the Emperor’s New Clothes!” said Hermione excitedly.

“Huh?” said Neville.

“It’s a muggle fairy tale about an emperor who was tricked into paying a fantastic price for a set of clothes which he was told were made of a magical material that could only be seen if someone was wise. But the tailors were not actually making anything: they just acted like they were making a set of robes. They trusted that neither the emperor nor his courtiers would say they couldn’t see it, for risk of being thought fools. But when the emperor paraded about the town in the new clothes, a little boy – who didn’t care if he was thought wise – said that the emperor had no clothes. And when he said that, the whole crowd began to admit that they too couldn’t see any clothes. And finally the emperor and his court admitted it as well.”

“That’s a cool story, Hermione,” said Neville. “I’ll bet it’s a hoot when it’s not told so quickly, but what does it have to do with dementors?”

“The emperor couldn’t judge the clothes because he couldn’t see them – but the dementors know that they have black robes and that the black robes blend into the dark that they inhabit. And they know that they are in the dark. Dementors may have very poor vision, but they can see!”

“Okay, one problem solved,” said Harry, “but how big would a young basilisk be, and how would we carry it around?”

“Well,” said Hermione, “they hatch from a cockerel egg, hatched under a toad of course…”

“Of course,” said Ron, nodding to Neville, who grinned.

“Yes! So how big a baby would fit in an eggshell – no bigger than your little finger around, and less than a foot long. That wouldn’t be too big to handle.”

“But how fast do they grow?” asked Neville, “We wouldn’t want to have to keep hatching replacements all the time.”

“Well, if it only got to the size Harry describes …”

“Only!!” said Harry, “I dare anyone else to face that thing and not wet themselves.”

“I’m not minimizing it, Harry, but it had a thousand years or so to grow. It couldn’t have grown more than 2-3 inches a year tops.”

“Maybe faster at first,” said Neville, “I know from my plants that the first few months or years of growth are the quickest.”

“My parents keep little bonsai trees in their dental offices,” said Hermione.

“Okay, I’ll bite again – what’s that and why do you bring it up?” asked Neville.

“Bonsais are regular forest-type trees that are planted in small pots on rocks. By feeding and watering them only a little, and cutting their roots regularly, they grow to maturity no bigger than a flobberworm.”

“But they don’t really look like a regular forest tree – more like the kind you see on rocky windswept cliffs,” added Harry.

“That’s cool – can we visit your parents’ office sometime, Hermione?” asked Neville.

“Of course,” said Hermione, “but there are other places to see bonsais. The point is that if you only feed a creature the bare minimum it needs to survive, then it will grow very little. It works best with cold-blooded living things that don’t have a set adult size. You couldn’t do it with birds or mammals, but I’ll bet if you fed a snake very sparingly, it would grow only very slowly.”

“You’re getting really serious about this, Hermione,” said Harry.

“Neville’s right, Harry, he needs a means of defense until he can master the patronus. And you’re right that we need a way to take them out of the picture entirely.”

Harry squinched up one side of his face and said, “Alright then, Granger, how does he carry this thing around?”

“Hmm, we need it to be constricted so that it can’t wriggle around and bite anyone – well anyone we don’t want it to,” said Hermione, “so what we need is a tube.”

“Aah, got you Hermione,” said Harry, “if the tube is open, then the basilisk can crawl away and wreak havoc, but if it’s closed, then it can’t look out!”

“Close the tail end with a cap, and put glass or crystal over the head end so that it can look out!” said Neville excitedly.

“And have a cap you can put over the end like a muggle ball point pen!” added Hermione.

Ron began to summarize. “Okay, where are we now – we plan on Neville walking around with a basilisk in a covered tube…”

Neville interrupted, “We can make it look like a wand so no one knows I have it.”

“Well, it might cause a panic if it were known what you had, so okay, a fake wand it is,” agreed Harry, “and it has a crystal end that the basilisk can peer through to petrify things, and I guess it’ll need air holes and a tiny slot at the side that we can poke food through. The first problem is probably the easiest – how to get one.”

“That’s easy?” asked Hermione.

“Of course,” said Harry, “who do we know that would happily help us hatch something insanely dangerous if we told him it was to be a pet?”

“Hagrid!!” said the others together.

“Now we’ll have to have the equipment ready for him to be able to hatch it. He’ll need a toad, a nest box that will force the baby to crawl into the tube, erm – wand, and of course, the wand. Hermione, he’ll need a way to know that the basilisk is hatching so that he can remove the toad and put a lid over the egg to keep the basilisk confined. It should follow the only light, which will be that coming through the length of the wand.”

“I can charm the nest to do that,” said Hermione, “and if the baby doesn’t go for the light on its own, you can talk it down the tube.”

“Oh, yeah, parseltongue. You know, I hardly ever think about my parseltongue skills. I think the real reason it’s rare is that it’s a really stupid power to have. I mean, snakes really haven’t got all that much to say, you know.”

“That leaves two problems, basically related to what to do if there’s a cock-up,” said Hermione, “we’ll need a way to kill it and we’ll need depetrification potion.”

“Okay, you kill them with a rooster’s crowing, so we’ll just keep a rooster in our pockets,” said Ron.

“Aren’t you the cocky one?” said Hermione. She laughed and said, “I knew I would be able to work that one into this conversation.”

Ron scrunched his face at her pun. “Don’t worry Hermione – you’ll get the hang of this humor stuff after a while.”

In response, Hermione stuck her tongue out at him, and then winked and smiled.

“Maybe something a little more discrete: we’re sorcerers, after all,” said Neville. “We ought to be able to charm something to turn into a rooster when needed.”

“Great idea, Neville,” said Harry, “and I know a couple of brothers who love to make fake wands. I’ll bet Fred and George could make a hollow fake wand that would turn into a rooster when it ceased to have something in it.”

“Well, they’re already making them turn into doves and other birds,” said Hermione. “I can’t see why a rooster would be a problem.”

“How about the depetrification potion? We should have some on hand – just in case,” said Harry.

“Most of the ingredients can be gotten at the apothecary’s at Diagon Alley. If I can’t get there before school, Fred or George could help us out,” said Hermione, “but we have to have fresh mandrake.”

“Which we just happen to have in all stages of development in the Longbottom greenhouses. We’re supplying the uncommon ingredients for potions that Gran says the resistance needs.”

“Erm, what do you know about that?” asked Harry.

“I know Gran’s been doing some things Dumbledore asks her, and I know it has to do with fighting Voldemort. It’s got to be something outside the Ministry or we’d see Ministry people involved. That’s all. Why – do you know something?”

“No, nothing,” said Harry, Ron and Hermione quickly.

Neville rolled his eyes and grumbled. “I’m not THAT stupid, you know.”

“Can you get some of the mandrakes?” asked Hermione.

“Sure, the greenhouses have been my responsibility all summer. I’m good for something, you know,” said Neville.

“A lot more than just that, you sod,” said Harry.

Neville grinned. “Anyway, we always grow about twice what we need, because there are always some that fail to thrive. I can cull some and get what we need.”

“How soon could you make the potion, Hermione?” asked Harry.

“Aren’t you even going to ask me IF I can make it?”

“No,” said all three boys together emphatically.

Hermione sighed. “It takes two days once I have the ingredients. Once bottled it will keep at least a year. We could make more next summer if need be.”

“You know,” said Neville, “we still really don’t know if the basilisk would work on a dementor.”

“We’ll test it,” said Harry.

“We don’t have dementors in the greenhouses, Harry,” said Neville. “Trust me, I’d know.”

“No, but we have a lethifold in the attic. That’s how we test patronuses. Lethifolds and dementors are related. But we have to assemble everything else first – the wand, the nesting box, the egg, the toad, the potion. How about this – Hermione, you take care of the nesting box and make a list of ingredients you’ll need from Diagon Alley. Ron and I will take care of talking to Hagrid about the hatching and the twins about the wand and the other ingredients. When one of the twins goes back to the shop this week for Lee’s day off, he can pick up what we need. Neville, work with Hermione on which mandrakes to use.”

Ron looked very umcomfortable.

“I know that look,” said Hermione. “Ron, don’t you even trust Neville and me to go to the greenhouses together.”

“Well, erm, it’s just …” said Ron.

“Oh, get over it, Ron. Just because you finally discovered I’m a girl doesn’t mean I’m going to be that way with everyone. Or do you not trust Neville – do you think he’s going to force himself on me? He’s not like that.”

Neville winced. “Somehow that comes off as insulting, Hermione, like I’m not man enough to have an interest.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Oh, you men with your insecurities. You’re plenty manly, Neville. And your trimmed down, muscled-up physique looks great. But you’re also a very decent man, and a decent man doesn’t overpower a girl.”

“Well, alright, I guess,” said Neville

“Besides,” continued Hermione, “as strong as you are and as good at dueling as you’ve gotten, you know I can and would kick your heinie from here to Hogwarts if you tried anything on me.”

“Oh, great, Hermione,” said Ron, “first you build him up, and then you threaten him. How do you think that makes him feel!?”

You’re right, Ron,” she said. “Neville, I trust you regardless of who can fight better. By the way, when we have the nesting box ready, we’ll have to borrow Trevor.”

“Trevor?” asked Neville. “I can’t give him up. I’m very fond of him. Why not some other toad?”

“It can’t be a common toad,” said Hermione. “It has to be a wizard’s toad – they’re magical. Otherwise a cockerel’s egg would never hatch, much less produce a basilisk.”

“But why Trevor?”

“Do you know anyone else with a pet toad, Neville?” asked Harry.

“No.”

“Well, there you go. Hermione’s right. We’ll need Trevor. Before we go anywhere, though, I want you all with me as I run this by Dumbledore.”

Harry pulled out his mirror and called Professor Dumbledore. They took turns explaining part of the plan.

Dumbledore shook his head sadly, sending a ripple down his long beard. “Under other circumstances, I would put a stop to this. I am all for students trying new things, even quite dangerous things if they are prepared. But a basilisk goes beyond all sensible bounds. However, you have analyzed the situation accurately and there are no four students I know of whom I would rather have pursuing such a project. Go ahead.” Then he added as he faded away, “And Harry, try to keep your temper.”

“Yes Professor. Wait – how did he know? Oh, well, Remus must have already reported.” Harry pulled out the small notebook and pencil he kept for jotting down information about attacks. He handed them to Hermione to write down the ingredients she would need from Diagon Alley. When she was done, he took it back and looked it over. “Ron, let’s be off to talk to Fred and George; then we’ll apparate to Hagrid’s cabin to talk to him about our new pet.”

“We’ll go into the outbuilding to find a box we can modify,” said Hermione. Then she continued, tentatively, “Erm, Harry?”

“Yes, Hermione.”

“I thought Voldemort knew everything you consciously thought about.”

“Yes, and vice versa,” agreed Harry.

“So he knows now what we’re planning.”

“Yes.”

“Isn’t he going to do something to stop us?

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Because he’s sure we’re going to screw up and petrify or kill half of his opposition. He’s laughing his head off right now.”

“Oh, that’s comforting,” said Hermione.

Harry laughed. “We’ve proved him wrong before. Let’s do it again. I sure don’t want to hear ‘I told you so’ echoing in my head from him.”

“Right, Coach!” they all agreed.

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__________________
Where are they now? (part 42)
(an occasional series following wizardry after the Second Voldemort War)
Rubeus Hagrid continued as groundskeeper and Professor of Magical Beasts.

Here he is on a summer vacation trip to the Canary Islands with Fluffy, his second favorite dog.
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