AN: Another book and another year's end. It turned out a bit longer than I actually intended it to, and from the way things are looking, the third book is going to grow quite a bit larger than expected too, with a lot of twists and turns that I am going to have to make damn sure to keep track of. Anyway, in this chapter, I hope I don't come across as dismissing Lockhart messily. To be honest, it's something I can see the guy doing. After all, how often do you hear about affairs amongst celebrities? And this guy went out of his way to claim the accomplishments of others and add them to to his own 'legend'. Do you really see him doing nothing with that? Moving on, I guess I need to remind myself to focus on character interactions more, especially with the Nanoha cast becoming rather involved in things from the next book onwards. That's going to be a bit of a nightmare to balance, what with Harry's 'group', the Uminari and TSAB 'group', the Hogwarts 'group', the Ministry, the politics... Harry Potter really does have a large cast when you get into it, and that can mean all sorts of trouble for fic writers like me. Oh well, wish me luck!
Beta'd by: NIX'S WARDEN
Chapter 26 – End of the Year
"Right, how is everyone getting along?" Harry asked, sitting in the Midori-ya, opposite Hayate, Fate, and Nanoha.
It had been several months since Harry and his familiars had begun teaching the three of them Terran magic. Usually, either Loki or Isis would spend a few hours during the day with them, as because of the nine hour time difference, Harry himself was in lessons when they had free time after school. He did turn up on the weekends though, and he was learning to handle the different time zones without too much difficulty.
"Nanoha seems to be taking to the spells the easiest out of all of us." Hayate offered up. "I keep over-powering every spell I cast, but it's definitely getting better. We're all doing fine with the theory, and the tests you've been giving us aren't really all that hard."
Harry nodded. "About as expected then. Nanoha's core might be experiencing a side-effect of the... healing." Said girl blushed heavily at the mention of that incident. "And Hayate's troubles with control are nothing new, though progress seems to be good. Theory, I thought, should be easy for you, especially considering the first two to three years is done at a slow and gentle pace, and you're all very intelligent girls." The three of them seemed quite happy with Harry's praise. "Is there anything in particular you want to comment on? The end of the school year is coming up, so if you have any questions you'd like me to ask the professors, now is the time to tell me."
It was Fate who spoke up. "Could you ask about transfiguration, please? That's the topic we've all had to devote more time to, it just seems so... nonsensical." Fate shook her head. "The whole process involves changing material and shape, but I'm still trying to work out how you can transfigure a metal goblet into a living bird."
Nanoha nodded her head in agreement. "Yeah, it all seems really weird to me. I mean, when I was trying to get better with Mid-Childan magic, I had to work really hard on my maths, learning loads of formulae, physics, and improving my ability to mentally calculate trajectories and the like. With Terran magic, it seems to be about belief, imagination, and focus more than anything."
Harry nodded. "You would be right in thinking that. In all the books on the topic of Magic Theory, none can agree on just what magic is. It's an energy, that's something considered fact. However, magic also has a sentience to it, sometimes slight and sometimes great. None can work out why some people have magic and others don't, aside from the fact it seems to be able to be inherited from a parent. Some theories, which are actually rather... unpopular, believe that magic turns up in the descendants of those that have bred with magical creatures, beings such as veela, hags, vampires, succubi, and various demons."
Fate tilted her head to one side. "In some of the stories, isn't Merlin himself supposed to be the child of a human woman and an incubus? I think I read he was the... son of a princess or something?" She blushed at the attention now focused on her, and gave an explanation. "I've kind of been looking up some of the stories about magical people, and Merlin is a big one in Europe, like Abe no Seimei is in Japan."
Harry nodded again. "Yes, some of the stories have Merlin as being the child of an incubus and a muggle, but that's a story that the European community, especially the purebloods, viciously deny. Any proof for it is most often ignored or derided. To be honest, even the non-pureblood supremacists don't like the idea of the 'great' Merlin being the son of a demon."
Harry then reached for his Tome of Shadows and searched for everything it had on Abe no Seimei, the Onmyoji. "From what I can tell, Abe no Seimei was, in fact, the son of a kitsune named Kuzunoha, from whom he inherited strong supernatural powers. Japan, like Europe, can be very proud of their heritage, and as humans are in a minority, it's rather interesting how his mother has greater fame than his father."
Fate frowned. "Wait, if one of the theories says that descendants of magical creatures is the reason for magical humans, wouldn't those with less... diluted blood be more powerful? Not that I'm supporting discrimination of course, but wouldn't something like that support such a theory?"
Harry smiled at her. "Correct, and it is true that those who are acknowledged as partially-human, or simply not human at all, do tend to excel in magical studies, at least in specific areas, and they do tend to have higher reserves of magic. However, humans have spread across the world faster than other races, and the human race does have something of a superiority complex. Those who aren't fully human are considered inferior by the European magical societies, even below muggleborns."
"The more I hear about the Wizarding World, the more I feel it needs a foot up the backside to sort it out." Hayate huffed. "At least Japan seems a lot more sensible."
Harry sighed and shook his head. "While Japan does seem far better, from what you've heard so far, it does have its own issues. For example, while they don't actively discriminate against humans or those with human heritage, there's a slight belief that humans just aren't as powerful as yokai, though they are acknowledged as being more inventive and adaptable. There's also the 'clans' of Japan as well, and that's really confusing for someone to try and work out."
"Care to try and explain this 'clan' thing to us?" Fate asked. "It sounds important, and as we live in the country..."
Harry shrugged. "Well, I'm sure you've heard of a Hyakki Yakō, correct?" The three girls nodded. "Well, there's not just a single Night Parade within Japan, but the one led by a Nurarihyon was the one that was famous enough to become part of muggle mythology."
Once again, Harry searched his Tome for several examples of youkai to show the girls. "There are a lot of 'clans' all over Japan, though there are the 'big seven', and it's not uncommon for a lot of the smaller clans to be primarily composed of a single 'type' of youkai, kind of like extended families. However, it's also pretty common to have groups with a lot of variety in them, and a lot of these groups either form in school or through the clans who are allied with each other."
"So... politics?" Hayate asked.
Harry nodded. "Thankfully, two of the 'big seven' are considered neutral. One of them is the Ministry, believe it or not, and they're the second largest group in Japan, with the smallest of the 'big seven' is the bank. There's something of an alliance between those two groups, and it's only because of that 'alliance' they keep things in the country from escalating too far."
He then waved the topic off. "Thankfully, we're not mixed up in all that, so we can ignore it for now. Shall we get back on topic? How are things coming along with your Terran magic, anything you want us to focus on?"
"Transfiguration aside, I think we're doing pretty well." Nanoha offered. "Our theory is coming along quickly, and with the stuff you left us, I think we might even be able to pass OWLs with EEs or higher. Practically, we're caught up with third year, edging into fourth, with the core subjects, and we need to decide on what electives to pick."
"I think I want to do Care of Magical Creatures." Hayate said. "And we need at least two, don't we? Erm, how about Arithmancy on top of that? I think we can all handle the 'magical maths', right?"
Fate nodded her head in agreement. "I think we should all choose at least one elective that's the same. It'd make things easier to meet up if we're sorted into different houses. I must admit, I'm curious about Divination myself."
"That means the only elective that we don't have between us is Muggle Studies, doesn't it?" Nanoha asked. "Harry has Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, even if he is a year above us in those..."
Harry shrugged. "You can take three subjects, you know? Besides, I've had a look at Muggle Studies, and it has such topics as 'Electricity and why Muggles need it', and 'Muggle alternatives to magical transport'. Honestly, I don't think anyone familiar with the muggle world, as you three are, will need it, or even enjoy it. Personally, I'm thinking of taking Care of Magical Creatures as a third elective next year."
"Well, we have the books necessary to look up all of the subjects." Nanoha commented. "We could see what we think of them, and Harry is on good terms with the Arithmancy and Runes teachers, right? Wouldn't knowing some professors make it easier to slide into the student body?"
Harry chuckled. "Beth and Septima would love to have others around who can do high-level maths, especially if they have open and curious minds." He paused, considering something. "I might introduce you to them sometime over the Summer Holidays, it might be quite advantageous for you, and I'm sure they'd like it as well."
Hayate's eyes gained a challenging gleam. "Don't forget, we're going to be having a little spar this summer. I want to see just what you can do." She grinned.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Hayate, I'd like to go on record stating that any 'spar' that involves Nanoha or yourself really can't be called 'little'. The fact that both Fate and myself are also part of it means that 'overkill' might be more appropriate."
Nanoha pouted at that. "I'm not that bad, am I?" She asked.
Fate and Harry exchanged an amused glance, while Hayate giggled to herself, none of them actually replying to her question, which simply made her pout harder.
"It's going to be a really weird spar." Hayate commented. "I mean, it'll be us three, and Chrono and Yuuno, against Harry, Reinforce, Isis, Loki, and Bast. Reinforce has a lot of power and experience on her own, while the others aren't as experienced. It's going to be most... interesting."
Harry gave Hayate a wary look as she began to laugh to herself. "Do I want to know what you're thinking about?"
"Well, I was wondering..." Hayate began. "Do you think we should make things more interesting, like, say, having the losing side have to do a forfeit decided by the winners?"
Harry blinked. "I've got no problem with it personally, but we'll have to get everyone's agreement for it first."
Fate and Nanoha agreed to it as well, but something told Harry they wouldn't have been so quick to do so if it had been Hayate who would potentially be deciding their forfeit. Harry chuckled at that thought, and was about to remark on it, but then the door opened.
In walked the Wolkenritter, along with Harry's familiars and Reinforce. Harry's eyes lingered on a few bruises Bast had from where she'd been sparring with Zafira, and how Loki was limping slightly, courtesy of Signum's blade. Isis looked uninjured, but she'd spent the time discussing various medical techniques with Shamal and testing her barriers against an onslaught from Vita and Rein.
Harry's lip twitched, and he glanced back at the three girls across from him. "Well, it looks like my side is getting the necessary 'experience' to bring them up to snuff."
He internally laughed as he saw that his comment had knocked a little confidence out of Hayate.
Amelia looked at the man sitting opposite her, Hound, as she knew him. In his hand, he held a depressingly thin folder, depressing in that it was all the Department of Mysteries had on horcruxes. While Amelia was a little happy that information on such foul things was so rare, she was also depressed that Harry had already given her more information than was in front of her.
"This is it?" She asked.
"Yeah, this is it." Hound answered. "From what I've found, and what Jewel, our department's expert in this field, has been able to dig up, horcruxes are much more common in Egypt than here. However, even there, there's not much that can be found, and with the civil war threatening to erupt, staying out of there might be the best bet."
"Civil war!" Amelia's monocle almost fell out at that. "What civil war is this?"
Hound shrugged. "The Egyptians are getting rather pissed off, especially with the curse breakers of Gringotts, about how the tombs are being robbed. Of course, the fact that the treasures aren't being displayed in a museum or something, and are melted down to make more galleons and so on is a real slap in the face, especially considering Egyptian culture."
Amelia frowned. "I understand it's an insult, that's obvious, but what do you mean by 'Egyptian culture'?"
Hound sighed. "The Egyptians put a lot of stock in their names, in being remembered. They're not actually that upset about their stuff going into museums. On the contrary, having their names spoken, remembered, and on display can be considered a good thing by them. However, the destruction of their artefacts, what they view as deliberately destroying memories of them, is enraging them."
Amelia tiredly rubbed at her forehead. "And with the fact that Magical Britain didn't let go of Egypt when the muggle British Empire did..." She sighed. "Really, what is it with our country, especially the magical side, and pissing off other people. America still holds a grudge for it being used as a dumping ground for our 'undesirables'."
"True, true." Hound nodded. "Give it another year or two, and I think we'll be forced out of Egypt." He admitted. "Hopefully, they won't try and push into Britain for 'revenge', but if they do... I only hope others don't join them."
Amelia grumbled. "We'd be slaughtered. No other country in the world has as many Dark Lords as we do, and with them coming one right after another... The magical population in Britain is at an all time low." Seriously, it was like you could set a calender by them, Britain tended to produce three Dark Lords a century, Grindlewald, despite being a foreigner, developed in Britain, and Voldemort followed right after him, and those two were simply the two most recent and destructive ones.
Hound shifted slightly, wondering if he should speak up, but once Amelia's eyes caught the motion, he decided he might as well. "It's not just Britain, the entire world's magical population is decreasing. There's fewer and fewer muggleborns being born, and it's rare for a pureblood family to have more than one or two children. If things follow the patterns they are, the magical population may become zero within the next two to five centuries, the human one at least."
"And the non-human?" Amelia queried.
"Also going down in number. With how muggles are spreading, they'll either be integrated into the general population or be wiped out, perhaps lasting a century or two after us humans." Hound admitted.
"And as much as I'm not racist in regards to muggles, I know human nature." Amelia sighed. "If magic was ever revealed to the world, there would be war, and it would not be pleasant, especially if some religious group or other whips them into a frenzy."
Amelia held a hand out for the folder, which Hound gave her. "We've gotten off topic though. Now, horcruxes, are you certain there's no way to track them down if you already have one or two of them?"
Hound grimaced. "From what Jewel told me, there's never been anyone who's created more than one. The amount of damage it does to one's soul and magic, it's not good. To be honest, I'm surprised that Voldemort was as rational as he was if he created six of them. He must have some damn impressive mental strength and willpower to hold madness at bay."
Amelia tapped the desk with a finger. "I remember when he first came into the open, how terrible it was to have to face him. That man, as loath as I am to admit it, was a tactical genius. However, he did degenerate, and eventually all he did was hit and run tactics with the dark mark there to inspire fear."
"You think that as he created more horcruxes, his ability to plan went downhill as well?" Hound mused. "A rather plausible idea. Perhaps, as his mental state was eroded, he became less careful in how he hid these horcruxes of his."
Amelia sighed and rubbed at the bridge of her nose. "I've already retrieved all the records of Tom Riddle I can get a hold of, and passed copies on to Harry and his group. I personally searched the orphanage he grew up in, but there's nothing there. I have records of several trips he took out with the other orphans, just in case something is there, but I haven't had a chance to really go through them yet."
"Harry found one of them at Hogwarts, right? Another had been in the possession of a student, and when he went through the memories of it, it had been passed onto a student from Malfoy senior, correct?" Amelia nodded at Hound's question. "Perhaps... perhaps another Death Eater was given one to hide somewhere, and perhaps the others are hidden somewhere magical, or at least significant to him in some way."
"You really think that?" Amelia raised an eyebrow at Hound, who shrugged.
"Voldemort does have something of an ego, it's true." He paused. "I believe that I'm going to get my department to discretely search the Ministry from top to bottom, just in case he left something here, though where else would he have left one of his 'treasures'?"
"Well, there's Gringotts." Amelia shrugged. "That's a significant place, and the goblins don't particularly care about just what they are guarding in their vaults. There's Hogsmeade, though that might be too close to Hogwarts to hide another piece of his soul. Stonehenge is possible, though I don't think it all too likely, and there are a handful of other magical locations. That's assuming he only hid them in Britain, of course."
"So there's not much we can do but trust Harry to come up with something?" Amelia felt like banging her head off a wall with frustration.
Hound sighed as well. "You and I have both realised that Harry has access to things we don't. I think we should be at least thankful that he's being proactive about this thing, imagine if he had just declared it 'not his business', we'd be screwed. At least this way something is being done about it."
"You're right." Amelia's shoulders slumped. "And it's not like I can bring him in and demand he explain it. Do you have any idea how badly the old families would flip if the ministry was given the power to demand the secrets of someone else's magic? Some of those families have businesses centred around family magic."
Hound chuckled. "Yeah, I know Harry has already taken advantage of some of our own old laws. His 'Tome of Shadows' falls under the same laws the old 'Family Magic' books do, even if they fell out of favour around two centuries ago." He shook his head. "Remember when that squib Gerald Gardner 'revealed' that tradition to the muggles?"
Amelia winced. "Don't remind me, I hadn't even been born then, and I still remember my grandmother going on about that particular incident." She sighed. "Though at least he's shown awareness of our laws, that'll help him when he reveals his parents to the world, and if his theory on what they did that Halloween night are correct..."
Hound shook his head. "He'll still need all the help he can get. You, of all people, should know how the 'justice' system works. It's less about who is right and who is wrong, and even less about evidence. It's all about who you know, how you present yourself, and appealing to the interests of the judges."
Amelia scowled, her mouth becoming a thin line. She well remembered the 'trials' that occurred at the end of Voldemort's last reign of terror. So few people were imprisoned, only those that were proud of what they'd done, or those who didn't have the connections or money to escape imprisonment.
The problem was that magic could do so much. If someone killed someone with a killing curse, then transfigured the body into a stick and threw it on a fire, where was the evidence? A magical signature only hung around an area for, at most, a few days, and that'd be the only clue that something had occurred.
As for truth potions, the weaker ones could be resisted with repeated exposure to them and Occlumency. The stronger ones were considered a breach of privacy, even with convicts, and Amelia couldn't see those laws being re-written any time soon. Convicts may spill secrets some amongst the Wizengamot didn't want known, and as they answered any question they heard, the families with things to hide simply wouldn't risk it.
Add onto that the fact that Wizengamot seats were inherited, and so only the old families actually had a say in what laws were passed, and you had a rather stagnant society that was stuck in the past and unwilling to move forwards. With how long-lived witches and wizards were, those who kept themselves in health managing to achieve ages over two hundred, though that wasn't too common, and you had older values and ideas being well-entrenched into things.
Hound, seeing Amelia lost in thought, spoke up. "Hey, come on, with all the requests Harry has made of me, he has a chance of pulling through this in the end. I've gotta admit though, the results from some of the tests I and my department have done have been useful, and I've already told him I'll lend a hand if things head south. He's too much of an asset to just discard out of hand."
Amelia rolled her eyes. "Somehow, that's not as comforting as I'm sure you meant it to be."
The two of them shared a chuckle before heading off in opposite directions. After all, they had their own jobs to do, no matter how many crazy things went on in the background.
The end of the year arrived, and like previously, Harry sat on the train heading to London. Also like the previous year, he didn't stay on the train, though he didn't teleport immediately. The reason for this was, while all three of Harry's familiars were in the compartment with him, Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, and Neville Longbottom were also in there.
"So..." Hermione began. "I've been meaning to ask, do you know how I'd go about asking to learn things other than the core subjects and electives?"
Harry blinked, before looking down at the folder in his own hands. The folder contained the certificates that Madam Pomfrey had presented him when he'd done the medical exams. What had been surprising was that Professors Babbling and Vector had also put his name forward for enchanting and imbuing exams too. He'd taken the written tests at the ministry less than a week previously, and he was now awaiting his results.
"I don't know." Harry replied. "I'd suggest you look up the subjects beforehand, and then ask one of the relevant professors to give you an assessment to see where you stand. Honestly, I didn't know I'd been signed up for anything but the medical exams. That was as much a surprise to me as it was you."
"Yeah, you must be really good to do those, Harry." Neville said. "Aren't they on the same level as, you know, OWLs and NEWTs? I mean, I know that some of the professors sometimes take on some of the sixth and seventh years if they show enough promise, but a first or second year? You must be good."
"Thanks, Neville." Harry grinned slightly. "I don't know, though. I mean, I know you help out with some of the greenhouses alongside Professor Sprout, and I have it on good authority that she's already contemplating taking you on as an apprentice, so you're not bad yourself. It's just that I spend nearly all of my time doing research, spell practise, or something else. I don't have much of a social life..."
Ron scoffed. "Yeah, you've always got your nose in a book." He then frowned and grew a little embarrassed. "But, you know, thanks for doing those study sessions. Mum's been going on at me to do better at school, and... I don't think I did too badly in the exams."
Harry hummed to himself in reply. Those 'study sessions', as Ron had called them, had simply been the continuation of Harry sitting in a room with other people, answering whatever questions were asked of him. They'd also taken a jump in popularity when Cedric Diggory had turned up a few times, asking for help himself. Some of the Ravenclaws had seen the advantage of having Harry there to answer questions, and had turned some of those study times into a revision session, with Harry being something of a tutor or teacher.
Harry didn't mind too much, as revising things kept it fresh in his head as well. Also, being somewhat popular in school, despite how distant he seemed to be most of the time, would have its advantages in the future, and Harry was not so stupid as to not make use of that if he could.
"No problem. As long as you don't badger me every minute of the day, I'm fine lending a hand." Harry replied to Ron.
"I wish we could have had you as an actual professor. You teaching skills are far better than Lockhart's. The only thing I've learnt from him this year is to not release pixies in a classroom." Neville murmured. "Your lessons are the only time I actually learnt any Defence Against the Dark Arts."
"Don't be like that, Neville." Hermione said. "Professor Lockhart is a professor, I'm sure he had a good reason for what he did. I'm sure we'll learn more from him next year."
"Actually, you won't." Loki spoke up. "Lockhart won't be coming back."
Ignoring Ron and Neville's cheers, Hermione asked Loki what he meant.
"As it turns out, Lockhart's only good at memory charms. All year, he's been seducing the older girls with tales of his 'heroics', bedding them, and then erasing their memories afterwards. Thankfully, none of them are pregnant, he at least was able to cast contraceptive charms." Loki explained.
"WHAT?!" Hermione screeched in horror. "B-but all the things he's done, the books he's written... Surely someone like that wouldn't do such a thing."
"Hmm, he didn't actually do any of those things. Like I said, the only thing he's good at is memory charms. He tracked down those who truly did those things, recorded what they did, then wiped their memories. Of course, he spiced up the stories a bit before publishing them, and in the process got a number of things wrong." Loki shrugged.
"How do you know that?" Neville asked.
"Isis here was actually one of Lockhart's targets. Last night, while we were tidying things up and packing them away, I found an old Valentine's day card for her from the man. I was about to simply throw it away when I found some old residue on the card. It turned out to be a lust potion focused on him, and it had gone off having been there so long. I sent it along to Amelia Bones, and she and her aurors arrested him. That's why he wasn't at the leaving feast last night." Loki's eyes flickered to Isis, who had a disgusted expression on her face.
"I had a Valentine's day card?" She asked, not remembering such a thing.
Loki rolled his eyes. "You had about fifty of them, but you ignored them as none were from Harry."
"Oh, really? If they weren't from Harry, they can't have been that important then." Isis replied as she snuggled into her master's side.
Harry, for his part, was rather distracted by his thoughts at the moment. The mention of Lockhart's arrest had reminded him of how the Headmaster had called him to his office around the same time. It was an attempt at convincing Harry to hide behind wards of the man's own creation, as he'd apparently spent the school year setting up a safe house for Harry to inhabit over the summer.
Harry had refused, reminding the man that Harry could take care of himself. Even without that, he had his familiars with him, and he was assured of their loyalty and abilities. It'd taken mentioning the fact that it was Harry who'd solved the issue of the Chamber of Secrets and the attacks to get the man to back off.
As it turned out, when Harry had discovered the horcruxes, and reported that the 'vengeful spirit possessing students' had been dealt with, Dumbledore had been on the verge of being kicked out of the school as he had nothing to show as far as dealing with the issue went.
Harry didn't know what tale the man had spun to those with the authority to banish him from the school, and the announcement that the issue had been 'taken care of' given to the students had been rather short of details, but it did leave the man in Harry's debt, and that was a useful thing for Harry.
As Harry settled in to wait the train ride out, ignoring all the talk between those in the compartment, Harry simply relaxed into Isis' hug, while also rubbing Bast's head, between her ears. Closing his eyes, he mentally gave Reinforce a hug, and settled in to discuss several things with the Unison Device.
Things such as how to deal with the Potters.
Look for the sequel: Reinforced Revelations