Harry Potter and Grief's Wisdom
A/N: Sorry for the time gap. Been very busy with other projects and my computer died. Thankfully I have another on loan from a friend, thus this chapter. I hope you all enjoy.
This is a work of fiction using the characters created by J.K. Rowling. They are not used with her permission. All actions follow the events of book five of the series. Any similarity between any person living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional. If you happen to find your life reflected in this piece I'll be impressed and perhaps a little scared.
Saunders arrived after the training session with the DA. It had been pretty intense and that was before Saunders decided to run them through their paces. Harry had carefully asked for a training room and equipment that would push them to their limits. He wasn't sure if the room would manage to make that happen but amazingly enough, what they had gotten was exactly that.
There was a simulated battlefield that looked to be based on Hogsmeade and there were five training dummies that moved far more fluidly than Harry had expected. They had initially worked to get an idea for how to move through what passed as an urban environment. Saunders took that idea a bit further with the fight simulations. The goal of the simulation was for a team of four to take down the five Death Eaters the training dummies represented. True to experience, the training dummies worked like individuals while the team was supposed to work as a unit. The battles were fierce but very informative.
After a while, they were all sitting up against the wall, sweaty, panting, and drinking water. Saunders looked at them and smiled. "Not bad you lot. This kind of fighting is never that easy. Every one of you managed to complete the task, even if you lost one or two members of your teams. That was good. Now for the bad news."
Several people groaned at hearing this, which seemed to amuse Saunders.
"Those of you who lost team members did so because you lost focus and stopped working as a team. Remember, one on one they will take you out because they are more vicious and have experience on their side. After all, you are all still in school so it's a gulf that isn't easily overcome. They are used to fighting brutally but not as a unit. If you work as teams, cover each other, fire together, use cover, et cetera… you will be able to do this without losing anyone because their method of operation would actually work against them. That is the goal. Now team three and five, since you had people eliminated in the battle we are going to run this again."
"Right! Up you go. Team five, you run through first and team three stand ready. The rest of you pay attention so you can also learn from this."
Team Five, which was run by Ginny, started their run. They stayed together and were working okay before they split up. Saunders yelled, "Hold!"
Everyone stopped in place, as did the training dummies, while Saunders stalked towards them. "What are you doing?"
Ginny looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"Your team split up. You have two teams of two with three Death Eaters left. Why would you do that?"
Ginny looked a bit flustered, growing a bit red in the face, "I wanted to flank them, so we could catch them in a crossfire."
Saunders sighed, "Alright, but where are the Death Eaters?"
Ginny looked confused, and gestured forward, "They're right up there."
Saunders called out to the room, "Please make the buildings transparent."
When the buildings were see through Ginny could see that she was sending two of her teammates directly towards two of the Death Eaters, where they had better cover than those approaching. She paled some. Saunders nodded, "That's right. You didn't know where they were so had no way to know if this was a good plan. When this happens for real, in Hogsmeade, I doubt that you will be the only team there. If that is the case, you will need to have coordinated movement between the different teams. Stick to your lane so the group of you can support each other. Together you are far more dangerous that apart. Besides, with more teams there what reason is there to split up?"
Ginny nodded, clearly having gotten the point.
"Right team five off, team three get ready."
Ginny and her people came over and slid down the wall. Ron looked over at her, "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. This isn't like Quidditch."
Ron shared his agreement, "Or chess."
Harry added, "You were doing good to that point. Staying together is the key. I know it's easy to forget in the heat of battle."
Ron nodded along, "Play it safe Gin so that we don't have to explain to Mum what happened. You may not win as fast but you certainly up your chances for staying alive."
With a shudder at the thought, Ginny agreed. Team Three had apparently learned from Team Five's mistakes and stuck together, using the cover as best they could and augmenting it with Protegos. Once they finished their run-thru, Saunders stood before everyone else again. "Good. Team Three and Five, I hope you can learn from your mistakes. Now all of you stretch and walk around for an hour or so. I had you run these without warming up because you will never know when things will kick off. Sometimes you don't have the benefit of a good warm up before a battle. You don't want your muscles to stiffen up so get to it."
Everyone moaned their way to their feet to start their cool down and stretches. It wasn't very comfortable but it was helpful. Soon they filtered out in small groups to do their walking through the castle. Saunders was left there with Harry, Ron, Hermione and Luna. Harry asked, "What do you think?"
"Everyone is taking this seriously. The Defense Club is helping people with their basic spells but this is really pushing these people. They are nearly on par with your average soldier, which is better than most Aurors to be honest. They had to lower standards because of the problems with DADA and Potions here at Hogwarts, though it is far more DADA than the other. I think, if we have a bit more time to work with, these teams will be very difficult to beat."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you Saunders. That will help. I don't want to lose anyone."
"Yeah mate, thanks," added Ron.
"Sometimes you can't keep someone from dying but the training makes it a lot harder for it to happen. Get to your walks."
The four of them headed out of the room and began walking towards the stairs. The weather was decent and they all decided it might be nice to go visit Hagrid. Harry admitted it had been a while since he had seen the half giant, especially since he had returned with his brother. Grawp was a bit much, there was no doubting that. But he did miss his first real friend and thought spending some time with him would help. Besides, the walk down the hill to his shack would certainly work for the cooldown as would the late fall weather.
Ron was kind of chuckling as they were leaving the school building and heading down the trail. Hermione looked over at him with one eyebrow raised. Ron caught this and smiled before saying, "I was just thinking about how crazy this last year has been. With how last year ended, I was fully prepared for Moping Harry and instead we got super motivated Harry. We are learning a lot of stuff but bloody hell it is a lot of work."
"Language!" chided Hermione.
That set Ron off again, making him chuckle even more. "Hermione, really? Lavender doesn't seem to mind my language so why should you?"
With a sniff, Hermione turned away and Harry found himself struggling to keep from laughing. Today was a good day and he could certainly use the relaxed operations tempo. So much had happened since summer that he was just happy with not stressing over all this. Besides, they weren't soldiers, they were students so it wasn't like they could keep up a brutal training schedule along with all their classwork.
Luna asked, "Do you suppose he has any of his rock cakes?"
Harry looked over at her confused. Those things were barely edible at the best of times. What earthly reason could there be to have them? "Why?"
"I need some new bookends and I thought those would be lovely."
Ron started braying in laughter, forcing Harry to keep his friend upright as they kept walking. Luna grinned happily, a beatific smile on her face. Hermione looked thoughtful, "I'm not sure of how well that will work."
"Why not?" asked Luna, failing to see any downsides to her idea.
"Well, why they are dense enough to work for that I am not sure their weight is sufficient to hold back books," explained Hermione.
"Would two on each side work better?"
"Which books are you holding up?"
"My Care of Magical Creatures books. I have a shelf full of them and the bookends would help. I don't want them to fall off again," clarified Luna.
"That might work," replied Hermione thoughtfully, "Especially if you have some of the wider books on the end."
Ron had sort of regained his composure at this point, before teasing, "Wouldn't radishes work better?"
Luna rolled her eyes, "Honestly Ronald, everyone knows radishes work against Nargles and Wrackspurts, not as bookends."
This made Ron stop and look between Hermione and Luna. "Hermione, did you learn how to throw your voice?"
"No, and besides, Luna has a valid point. Because of what they are trying to do, radishes work better as earrings since Wrackspurts don't like the smell."
Ron was utterly gobsmacked, staring at the girls as if they had chickens on their heads. "Bloody hell, you… you both sound like each other."
The two girls chimed in at the same time, "Language."
This set Harry off and Ron grumbled, "Bloody mental the lot of you."
Before anyone else could comment on this timely debate there was a yell from behind, "Potter!"
The group turned to see Draco hustling their way looking worried. Ron was inching towards his wand when Hermione stopped him with a hand on his arm and a shake of her head. Harry walked back uphill towards Malfoy, looking somewhat concerned. "What is it?"
Slightly out of breath, Draco caught his breath some before he answered, "I got a message that this weekend I am being sent a cursed necklace that I need to pick up in Hogsmeade and try to sneak it into the castle. I think it is supposed to kill Dumbledore or at the very least injure him."
Ron growled and moved to his wand again, only for Hermione's grip to tighten.
Harry meanwhile looked thoughtful and asked, "Do you know anything more about the necklace?"
With a shake of his head Draco answered, "Not really. It is apparently one of the Black family Heirlooms that Father was given at the wedding. Mother had no interest in it but Father thought it might be handy. Apparently the Dark Lord agreed."
Groaning, Harry replied, "Ok. You pick up the necklace and I will meet you near the Shrieking Shack. Hermione and Luna can scan it to see if we can get an idea what it does. Then we will help you try to sneak it in and then make sure the item is caught. Now did you make sure you weren't noticed on your way here?"
The ponce sneer made a reappearance as Draco looked at Harry as if he were an idiot, "Really Harry? I had notice-me-not's and disillusionments up until I got close to you. Even then I only canceled them facing you."
"You can do that?" blurted Hermione in surprise.
Draco smirked at Hermione before saying, "Father has a lot of books on some very shady subjects. They do come in handy however."
Harry smiled at the Slytherin, "Thank you Draco. Get going. I would hate for you to get caught talking to me."
The blond nodded, turned, and with a swish of his wand was gone from sight. After a few moments Ron finally was able to speak as he burst out, "When in the bloody hell did you start talking to the Ferret?"
"Screw that," growled Ron. "Answer me Harry."
With a sigh, Harry realized that he hadn't talked to Ron in a while and that some of the things he and the girls had been up to would be completely unknown to his first friend his age. Knowing that this wasn't going to be a pleasant conversation, Harry started, "Saunders and I caught Draco doing something…"
"Bet it was evil," grumbled Ron.
"Ron, can you please let me finish before you get madder? Draco was forced to take the Dark Mark this summer or else his family would be killed. Then Voldemort gave him a job that was basically impossible for him to complete. I think Voldemort is simply trying to have someone else kill Draco to punish his family. Anyway, once caught we interrogated him and learned a great deal. During that Draco begged for me as the Head of the Black family to take care of him and his mother because she is innocent in all of this and he is terrified that he is going to die. I said yes."
"What?!" yelled Ron, growing redder in the face by the second.
"Ron, technically he is part of my family through the Blacks. It was a valid request." Harry really did try and use logic to ward off the Weasley Volcano but he had a feeling he wasn't doing that great of a job.
"Besides, his saving people thing kicked in," added Hermione. "You know how that goes."
Groaning, Ron face palmed, "But Malfoy? Really?"
Harry shrugged apologetically, smiling thankfully at Hermione, "What can I say? At least he is now spying for us instead of working as a Death Eater."
"This is a bloody nightmare. I mean of all the stupid people you had to go and save. Merlin, at this rate next you'll be telling me that Snape isn't an evil bastard!"
Harry looked at the ground, embarrassed, "Uhm…"
"What the fuck!" Ron threw his arms in the air at that, well past his ability to accept these changes.
Hermione added, "Ron you can't tell anyone about this. I know that this is strange but someone could die because of this getting out?"
"Who the hell would believe me?" countered Ron.
"This is serious Ron. We weren't telling anyone this. This is top secret stuff," added Harry. "Snape really has been Dumbledore's spy since the first war."
"Fine, fine," grumbled Ron, kicking the ground some in his frustration. "We're supposed to be mates. We've been together through thick and thin. You need to tell me these things."
"Sorry Ron." Harry really was sorry. He honestly hadn't planned on keeping Ron entirely out of things but with the girls, Saunders, and everything else it was difficult to know who he had told what to. "And you can't tell anyone."
Huffing slightly, Ron said, "I know. But can you keep me in the loop next time?"
"Sure. Sorry mate."
Luna chimed in, "So Rock Cakes and a cuppa?"