Chapter 52 A Bit of Training
I'm having a few issues that are keeping me from writing every day, so there may be long pauses between chapters. Hopefully, not a year like last time. I am trying to put an hour a day, at the very least, so I will get this done with in the year. With any luck. If you want to know some of my issues, hop on over and read my profile. I try to keep it up to date.
The big prank will be soon. I am hoping to make is spectacular. And with all the suggestions I got, I might just pull it off. The fight will be within the next few chapters, IF I don't spend too long on this one day. I have a bad habit of doing that with this story.
Reviews and suggestions are always welcome.
Anyway, on with the story.
"I did want to say sorry to you girls for not being able to escort you to the Ball," Harry said, looking at the girls at his side, and giving them his puppy-dog eyes. "I was looking forward to it. Who wouldn't want two beautiful women on his arms." He leaned over and kissed Hermione on the cheek, then turned the other way and kissed Luna on the head.
"It's alright, Harry, we understand that it's not your fault. Besides, the party we're going to throw this summer will more than make up for it," Luna said dreamily, snuggling further into his shoulder. She could see that Harry would do his best to make sure they got their dance with him.
"Will we, now? Well that takes a load off my mind. Then let me be a gentleman about this. Would you girls please let me escort you to a party I have not planned yet?" he asked with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
"Oh, Harry," Hermione said, smacking him on the chest, but smiling all the while. "If you do plan such a party I will be more than happy to attend."
"I already know I'm going to be there, so yes," Luna added, burrowing in further.
"Hey, what about us?" Fred said loudly, pointing to the boys in the room.
"Yeah, we want an invite," George stated just as loudly, nodding his head.
"I wouldn't mind coming too," Neville added his two Knuts worth.
"I'll be chaperone," Sirius offered, only to be a bland look from all the teens, making him huff.
"Of course, you can all come, we just have to get the house first. Any ideas on to when that's going to be, Dogman?" Harry said first to the male teens and then to his godfather.
"Well, I'm waiting to hear from Waters, but we can start hunting in a few days," Sirius answered, looking very happy with the idea.
"Great, we'll have fun. It's coming up soon, the Ball I mean? Christmas is right around the corner, isn't it?" Harry asked, looking at all his friends, who are relaxed and happy.
"Yes, in about a week," Neville confirmed. He was content to be here amongst his friends. It was great to be included in things. It was something he had never experienced before; his childhood was not a happy one. He was quite miffed at McGonagall for sending Harry away. It was the dark-haired teen who drew him out of his shell and helped him become someone his gran would be proud of. He was still determined to bring his parents back and was well on his way to accomplishing that.
"Don't worry, Harry," George said with a Cheshire Cat grin.
"we've got the girls covered," Fred finished, with an identical grin. They too were happier than they ever had been in school. Sure, they were popular, Quidditch stars and had many friends, but most of them were always wary around them, bar Lee. There was always that fear that people close to them would be the victims of their next pranks. Silly people didn't know that those they liked rarely got pranked. The twins were ready and willing to teach their best friend, Lee, as soon as Harry gave the go ahead. The poor boy had been put out with them for the lack of friend time, but when he heard that he could be using new magic in the future, he understood.
"Really, what do you guys have planned?" our hero asked, hoping it was something that would piss that old battleaxe off. So, the other teens told him the night they had in mind, and he almost fell off the couch laughing. "Yeah, that'll work," he said, chuckling along with his godfather.
"Let's talk more on what you have for your prank so far," Sirius said, getting them back on track. "Between all of us, we should be able to think of something good. The whole school will know that there are Junior Marauders about. If we plan it right, you can do it on Christmas morning, just in time for the Ball." He rubbed his hands together and heard what they had so far. There was a lot of small easy pranks, with a few overdone ones, thrown back and forth.
"You guys are thinking too small. Remember, you have great magic at your fingertips. When we say the whole school, we mean the whole school. I want the teachers to spend weeks trying to undo what you do," Harry said after a few minutes of listening.
"I think I understand," Neville said thoughtfully, rubbing his chin in thought. There were ideas on what he could do with plants, be they real or not. "How about we do those things, and this…"
Harry and his friends sat around and hashed out the epic prank the students were going to play. The boy hero was a bit miffed that he'd miss it, but they said they'd get Colin to take pictures. The younger boy was still visibly upset that Harry was gone. They don't know if he was booted out of the Harry Potter Fan Club, and they were afraid to ask. That didn't stop them from teasing the hell out of the amnesiac for having a club in the first place. That was until Luna told the twins that their sister was Vice-President, which caused the rest of the group to laugh. Soon enough, it was time for everyone to leave. Giving the girls a kiss on the cheek and the boys a hardy grip on the shoulder, Harry bid them all goodnight.
That night, when Harry went to bed, he was called to the deck of the Enterprise. "What's up, Captain?" he asked as he sat in the chair he had left on the deck just for him.
"Ah, Mr. Potter, I felt it might be beneficial that you spar with Worf for the next two nights. It would help you in facing a warrior. Worf is our finest security officer. If anyone can teach you how to defend yourself, it would be he," Picard stated, sitting in his captain's chair, pressing a few buttons.
"Are you crazy, look at the size of him. He'll cream me," the teen shouted, pointing at the large Klingon, who merely smiled back at him. This did nothing to appease Harry. "Just how much do you think he can teach me in a few days?" he quickly asked, hoping that he could get out of this, and then wondering why he was arguing with his own mind.
"The Holodeck can warp time so that a week will pass for every night in there," Picard stated factually, taking a data pad from one of the red-shirts.
"It can?" the teen asked, sitting up straighter.
"It is your mind, you can do what you want," was the answer.
"So, why not years then?"
"We have debated this and feel that if you were to go more than a week it would damage your psyche. You would come out feeling disoriented, and you would have a hard time adjusting to normal time. That and with your memories now rerouting themselves back to where they belong, which they can't do when you're in the holodeck, you need some time to sort them," Jean-Luc stated, standing and tugging his shirt. He turned sharply and headed to the turbolift. "This time frame will do nothing to harm you, and while you may not learn a great deal, you should be able to hold your own. Number One, you have the bridge."
"Yes, Captain," Spock said, moving to the Captain's Chair.
"Wait, Worf is like three times my size, the goblin is twice as small as me, how is this going to help?" Harry asked, getting up reluctantly and following the captain, the Klingon right behind him towering over his smaller frame.
"Worf is going to be using practice dummies the same size as your opponent," was the logical answer. "In addition, like your godfather and his friend, he is going to teach you to fall."
"Fucking wonderful. Fine," the petulant teen said, dragging his feet as he continued to follow the man, who was supposed to receive orders not give them. However, he really couldn't argue with the plan.
The next morning Amelia came to her office in a better mood than the day before. There was no glaring headlines in the morning paper, no Wizengamot breathing down her neck and no mysterious murder popping up overnight, and no surprises from Potter and his godfather. All in all, it was a good morning.
She settled into her chair and was going through some paperwork. Her Riddle team confirmed that You-Know-Who had been at Hogwarts for the Potter boy's first two years. Why Dumbledore never said anything was a mystery, and when she got her hands on the old coot, she would make sure to ask him. Both times he was in a ghost-like state, and with Potter's assessment from the botched revival attempt, that was still true. She did wonder what You-Know-Who would do now. The man they had found was identified as Peter Pettigrew, which they knew had been alive from Potter's and Black's testimonies. Pettigrew did have the Dark Mark, and Potter did state he had been helping his master. So, was there going to be another attempt soon? Could there be, with his minion dead? Would the vile man go to his other supporters? They'd have to keep an eye out.
She was just settling in with a cup of morning tea, when Alastor came stomping in.
"Did you get things set up?" he asked without preamble, after throwing himself into a chair, his magical eye going straight to the box of doxies in the corner.
"Yes, I received an owl this morning, and Mr. Waters' associate will be here tomorrow. Her name is Ms. Rachel Middleton. She's another solicitor of the firm. Mr. Waters stated he had too much to do at the moment handling Potter's many cases," Bones stated, looking over the missive she was referring to.
"Good. What time?" the grumpy man inquired.
"Around one pm. So, be here after lunch, and we'll get things settled," she answered, putting the letter aside and looking at her ex-boss. He was looking better than he had when he first came to her office to help. It seemed that giving him something to work for did wonders for him. His hair wasn't as lanky, and his skin tone was healthier looking. Pomfrey did a good job at patching the old war veteran up, but could do little for his mental state, which had never been that stable in the first place.
"Fine. Give me the map, I have a lot to do today," he demanded, holding out his hand. There were people he need dirt on. They were loose in lips when they thought no one was around. He'd make sure to get what he could on them. He had been thinking all night about have those doxies spy for him and the Head of the DMLE. They would actually be a great benefit. And if he took what Bones said to heart, they'd make great assassins. No one would ever be the wiser, if they played it correctly.
"Sure, remember don't keep any records where they can be found. I don't need anyone knowing what you're up to," she said, getting and opening her safe. She grabbed the map and went back to her desk, handing it over to Moody.
"Do you think I'm a rookie? I was doing stuff like this when you were still wet behind the ears," Alastor stated with a small growl. He snatched the map up, put it in his pocket and heaved himself out of the chair.
"No, sorry, I'm just worried that something will get out and we'll lose our advantage," she soothed. She knew there were leaks in her department. There was always someone willing to take a bribe to spill secrets. Sometimes it was greed, other times it was need. With the cuts that Fudge had put on the department, pay was not good. There were those that needed to support their families. She didn't think it was a good enough excuse, but there was little she could do. Perhaps, now that Fudge was gone there would be changes.
"And right you should. Nothing remains a secret for long," Moody said gruffly as he headed towards the door.
"Let's hope this does," she grumbled to herself and returned to her paperwork.
McGonagall was sitting at the Albus' desk, she refused to believe that it was hers, going over letters from parents, many of whom were threatening to pull their children. She had drafted a form letter for those, which stated that Potter had been unruly and posed a threat to the sanctity of the school. He was disruptive and downright destructive. She pointed out that the boy had been implicated in many malicious pranks, and though he had been cleared, she felt that he had had a hand in them. She stated that she felt she did what was best for the students of the school, and that peace had returned since he had left. She signed each letter and sent them off with a house elf to be posted with the school owls.
She came across one from Albus and wondered why he didn't send it with Fawkes. As she was reading it, she wondered if he had truly gone around the twist. Then she shook her head and decided it must be a spell on her friend. So, she tried to read between the lines to find out how she could help.
My Dearest Minerva,
I hope this missive finds you well. I am sure you are handling things well in my stead, and I am confident that I will return shortly.
I have come across a few things I feel I must tell you about. I was at the attempt of Voldemort's return and witnessed… the sky is very bright tonight and the stars are marvelous. I do wonder what the centaurs will say about it. They do continue to state that Mars is bright, which to my understanding, means that war in on the horizon.
Harry Potter has shown that he… I had a wonderful dinner this evening at a lovely bistro in France. I recommend that you take the time to come here when school is out. Their bouillabaisse is something everyone should enjoy. I have never had the like.
He has a grasp on… I left all my warm socks there at the castle and would be grateful if you would send them to me. It is getting chilly and these old bones require something warm to help fend off the cold. I have never found anything that can replace a good woolen sock.
It would do us well to keep an eye… Sirius Black has disappeared again, and I cannot seem to locate him. He is needed in the Order to keep an eye on…
This letter is getting too difficult to write. Could you, perhaps, meet me at the Three Broomsticks in three days' time? During lunch would be the best time. I will be in disguise; however, you will recognize me by the lovely shade of purple I will be wearing. Remember the robes I wore to the first task? Those are the only ones I have that fit my taste. The rest have been bought at the new store in Hogsmeade, Tylor's Threads. While he does cater to the younger crowd, he has very little for one such as me. Since I am on limited funds, needs must. However, I am reluctant to wear them in public. Perhaps, you could bring some of mine from the castle when you come? I would be most grateful.
I await our meeting.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin (first class)
She was saddened that all his titles were no longer relevant. The man had earned all of them and for them to be snatched away on the word of an ill boy, well that didn't sit right with her. She decided to set aside some time to go and see her mentor. She picked up the next letter and saw it was from the Board. They were requiring her presence at noon today. This made her feel giddy with hope that that meant they were going to call Albus back. Until she remembered that he was on the run from the Ministry, not Hogwarts. This then made her wonder what they could possibly want from her. Surely, they were not upset that she set a student, who didn't even attend class, out of the castle. They were not a hotel after all, the Board must know that. She looked at the clock and realized that she needed to get going if she was to be there on time. Gathering up her outerwear, she left the office and made her way out of the castle.
Deep in the bowels of the Ministry there was a catacomb of tunnels and rooms. This was called the Department of Mysteries. They did things here that no witch or wizard would do, to unleash the greatness of Magic. They studied the brain, the heart, time and even death. They did many things that left a few of them unable to sleep at night. So, when the Head of the Department received a package that radiated evil, no one was surprised. The note attached stated it was a horcrux, and that is was one of Voldemort's. This raised a few alarms, but they did know how to handle it. The note asked if they could use it to find if there were more, and it pleaded to their patriotic duty to cleanse the world of the monster. Not that the members of the DoM had any patriotic feelings. Still, they didn't want a war, so they took the object and placed it in a room to study it.
Harry woke up sore. He had no idea how that happened since the beating he took was in his head, so it shouldn't have transferred over to his waking self, but there it was. He felt like he had gone head to head with a Klingon, which he had. Worf was a slave driver, he had Harry fall over and over and over again. Then made him do drills with hands, weapons and magic against a very realistic goblin the holodeck produced. He now knew how to handle a knife, though he was no pro by a long shot, and take a fall. It was a good thing they were in his mind, since he had been hurt quite a few times, and Dr. McCoy, who was in the holodeck with them, had to patch him up. It had been an exhausting week, even if it was only a night. He groaned and got out of bed, after doing his morning rituals, he made it to the dining room.
"Ahrug," was the incoherent noise he made when he sat and slumped his head to the table.
"What on earth happened to you? First you sleep till noon, then you come down here groaning like you've already had your fight," Sirius asked with a chuckle. He pushed a cup of coffee to his godson, hoping to wake him up more.
"Let's just say I was practicing in my head, but it feels real," Harry said, sitting up and taking the cup. He was glad it wasn't tea this morning. He really wanted the bitter bite of coffee.
Winky popped in and place a full English breakfast in front of him, he thanked her quietly and dug in like a man starved. Sirius watched bemused at the teen's appetite.
"Well, Dobby popped in earlier, and you've got a letter from Waters," the dogman said after observing his godson demolish his breakfast, then handing said letter over.
"Thanks," the bleary teen said, taking the letter and opening it. His eyes moved as he read, and what he saw had a wicked smile forming on his face.
"What's it say?" the anxious man asked, hoping that finally the boy would have some good news, and judging from the smile it might just be.
"He's sent the horcrux to the Department of Mysteries, making sure to tell them what it is. He said that there's a court case later today over the whole Fudge thing, and that he is confident that we'll win. There's also a suit on that Umbridge person, but he's not sure about that one. There's a bit here about Dumbledore, but it's mostly what we already know. He'll send an associate to do the treaty for the doxies sometime tomorrow. I have to say Waters has been busy. We might have to up his pay. Oh, he heard about my fight, and subsequent employment, and wants to be there to protect my interest," the boy added, wondering how the man knew.
"Did he mention the funds?" Sirius asked on the edge of his seat. This would be the start of his new life, and he wanted it to go well. There were so many things that could go wrong.
"Yeah, the Board of Governors is meeting right now, actually," the teen said, spelling up his digital clock. He was happy for Sirius; the man had been through hell and came up wounded for it. He could see there had been so much more to the man before he had been sent to that hellhole. It showed in his eyes and his words. That and Remus would look at Sirius as if he would say or do something at certain times, but the dogman didn't react the way the werewolf thought he would. He concluded that the man he knew was not the man that Remus knew. It kinda made him sad, but still, there was hope now that Sirius was leaving that life behind and starting fresh.
"I hope it goes as planned," the glamored wizard said, a bit leery.
"For your sake, so do I," his godson said.
McGonagall made to the building they used for the Board meetings. She quickly went to the room assigned and upon entering she took a chair in the back. There was plenty of parents there and as each one spoke her fears that Dumbledore not coming back were correct. There were plenty of complaints against her, but she didn't worry too much about those, since she has tenure and had done nothing to warrant dismissal. Everything she had done was for the smooth running of the school. She was not going allow herself to be chastised for removing the distraction called Harry Potter.
After about a half an hour of listening to complaints, the Head of the Board, Abigail Sterns, tapped her gavel, and spoke, "Minerva McGonagall, we the Board would like to know just what is going on in that school? It has been brought to our attention that this is not the first year that one of your students, Harry Potter, had been put in a dangerous situation. All of which he has fought for his life and the safety of the school. Which is not his job, but the job of those in charge, such as yourself and Albus. This year alone the child had to overcome great difficulties brought on by a professor, no less. Then to be kidnapped and thrown in front of a dragon, while stunned. The DMLE has been asking about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and they suggest that the child has faced him at least twice in the last four years. Now that Dumbledore is not around to squash things, we will have our answers," she stated firmly, glaring at her through horn-rimmed glasses. "We have received a donation from the child and a man named Reggie Sirius Grey. With this donation came the conditional addendem that it only be spent on the school, and a warning that the professors straighten up. There was word that they almost donated it to St. Mungo's because of the actions of the Headmaster and yourself. Care to explain?"
For the first time in years, Minerva McGonagall worried. Nothing spoke to the Board like money.