Hi everybody, I'm back with a new story!
The permanent disclaimer: As always, I don't own anything in the Harry Potter universe, I only play in JKR's sandbox.
Slipping from the Net
They could screw themselves, he had enough. Did they honestly think that he was an idiot? That he didn't notice things? That he didn't remember what happened year after year? Well, their bad. He was done being the good boy. Done being their whipping boy one moment and a so-called hero the next, being bribed with some useless awards and house points to just keep his mouth shut about what was actually going on behind the scenes. Well, their problem that he was a snake in lion's clothing. The Sorting Hat had known what it did when it originally wanted to send him to Slytherin. But his survival instincts told him that he would only suffer more if he was sorted there. Not to mention that the prospect of rooming with that git Malfoy for seven years was a strong incentive to not go there.
Four years he had kept his head down by now. Well, if you could call the 'adventures' he was pushed into year after year that. But, honestly, most things he did for self-preservation. He needed a number of years to actually master his magic, before he could simply leave this backwater world for greener pastures. Asking the house elves, which he had found in his first year at Hogwarts, for a safe place to train that wasn't known to the teachers, and which he could secure against being found by anybody, had been the first step and got him the incredible resource that was the Room of Requirement. The room could give him anything except food. Including a time compression function, which let him study in peace without his watchers ever realising that he was doing exactly what the old man wanted to prevent.
Getting reliable information about the wizarding world and increasing his knowledge about all kinds of magic. Hermione and Ron were spies for Dumbledore, he had figured that bit out quite quickly in his first year. Ron had originally been the only one planned to be Harry's friend, but his attitude towards learning was too abysmal to let him alone influence the supposed saviour of the wizarding world. Harry wouldn't have passed his first year after all and that couldn't be allowed to happen. People would lose trust in Dumbledore's ability to lead Hogwarts if Harry Potter of all people didn't pass his classes.
Thus, Hermione Granger was entered into the group, making sure that both boys studied enough to pass the tests, but also ensuring that Harry didn't learn enough to become a danger to Dumbledore's plans. Her attitude would make most people lose interest in studying, and in case they needed to know something, they could always ask her, making them dependent on her for the higher-level information, which Dumbledore wanted to restrict for Harry and some others. Too bad that Harry was a very good actor. He played on their expectations with his behaviour as much as it didn't harm him.
The Room of Requirement could compress time from one hour into ten minutes. Meaning, if Harry disappeared for thirty minutes, which even Ron and Hermione didn't see any problem in, especially as he normally inserted that time after Quidditch training, when nobody really controlled how long he was under the shower or which way he took to the tower, he actually got three full hours of training in. And during the nights, thanks to his invisibility cloak, he could do longer periods of time. None of his dormmates woke before seven in the morning, what with classes starting at half past eight, and normally they all went to bed at half past ten at the latest on school days. During first and second year, it had normally been earlier. Meaning, Harry had a window of opportunity between eleven and seven fifteen in the morning for sure.
The last prefect patrol returned at five past eleven after all and Harry had established early on that he went to bed early, as he always got up early too. He claimed he ran several times in the morning, supposedly to be better at Quidditch, which nobody questioned. Oliver Wood was a maniac after all and Harry was seen as always being influenced by him. Harry let people believe that, as it was a convenient excuse. As long as he actually did it regularly, which he had taken to, simply because he liked the time alone it gave him, nobody questioned him.
But having at least seven hours and thirty minutes during those nights available to his studies, meant that he got forty-five hours to do what he wanted. He could study, he could practice new spells, he could train his body with professional machines that the room supplied and get some undisturbed sleep in as well. Six hours per night were enough for him to function easily. At the Dursleys that much was something he had learned fast. The best part was, he didn't age while under time compression. Thus, nobody ever noticed that he grew much faster mentally than physically. And the Gryffindor prefects had at least two of the late patrols each week, as those were done by the sixth and seventh year prefects, while the ones in fifth year got the bracket from nine to ten o'clock in the evening for their patrols.
And nobody patrolled on Sunday evenings, when the teachers would take over the duties. Well, Harry always slipped out when the groups that got the late bracket returned to the common room, as nobody would wonder about the portrait hole being opened then. After all, his cloak didn't make him intangible. He used the earlier bracket if he was sure his dormmates wouldn't notice his absence. Thankfully the Room of Requirement was on the seventh floor and not that far away from Gryffindor Tower. Sneaking there slowly only took ten minutes at most. And studying hardcore for two days, including getting his homework that he didn't do during the normal hours done, was possible, as he didn't overexert himself in normal time, which kept the manipulator happy.
By now, Harry had finished all the material that was taught for all seven years at Hogwarts for all twelve subjects that were taught, next to doing studies in subjects that were incredibly useful, but had been cut out of the curriculum, as Dumbledore didn't like it if the students became too smart or powerful for him to control. The problem with food could be solved by stocking up in the kitchen before a new trip and there were many kinds of food that didn't spoil quickly. Not to mention that the room could create a cold cupboard if he asked for it. And forty-five hours came down to not quite two days, meaning hiding the amount of food wasn't a problem at all. Fruits, cutlets, water, some salads, bread, cheese and other easy to hide things were his nourishment while he was there.
It certainly helped him grow properly. Especially as one of the first things he looked up was determining health issues, as he had never got to see a doctor, because the Dursleys didn't care about him getting his shots and otherwise made sure that nothing visible was done to him. And, for some reason, all injuries Dudley and his gang caused while they could still catch Harry, healed overnight, meaning no teacher would ever believe him if he told them about it. Not to mention that Harry suspected that the old bastard had put some spells around to prevent that social services came calling at Privet Drive.
Harry knew that Dumbledore would have interfered if something seemed amiss, therefore he simply ate as healthy as possible with the normal Hogwarts fare of food and his constant exercising explained away the rest of his good physical condition. His grades in class were mostly above average, but not in the area of the top ten of his year. Well, it would change for his OWLs this year. He didn't care anymore about playing nice. He had reached a level in his magic, where he could show the wizarding world the bird. Little known bit of information, as soon as you had sat the OWLs and had got the results, you could apply to sit the NEWTs in the classes that you had passed.
And Harry would pass them all and then use the skills he had got in languages to get the hell out of Great Britain. Passing the NEWTs was one of the old and still valid ways of being irrevocably acknowledged as an adult. It equalled being emancipated, but nobody had to approve the transit. And a law forced the Ministry to allow anybody that applied to sit NEWT exams with proof of the passed OWLs to take them within two weeks. They got that long to arrange for the examiners, but otherwise they couldn't stop it happening.
Harry knew that Dumbledore would try preventing it, but any student using that law, could also demand an oath of silence from the examiners in the letter with the request to take those exams to not reveal anything about it happening until all results were determined and filed. Meaning, it would be too late to stop the student. It was another old law, originating in a time when rivalling wizarding families weren't above murder of promising members of enemy families when they went to the Ministry to sit their exams. What none of the students except Harry, and he only found out from his additional studies in the Room of Requirement, knew was that the trace that was placed on the wands a student could buy at any wandmaker had a second, much more important function.
The trace worked through the wand of the student and in case of children that lived in the muggle world, it was always assumed they did the magic, except the signature of a different wand was noticed to be the one having used the spell. Which was why Dobby got him into trouble over his hovering charm on that stupid pudding. It hadn't been a spell done with a registered wand that had lost the trace already.
The second function of wands that still had an active trace was that they couldn't perform any lethal dark magic. It was lost knowledge outside of the wandmakers and a few other individuals. Harry suspected that Dumbledore knew, as headmaster of Hogwarts. This had one simple reason. While teachers were sworn to not kill their students while they were at school, other students didn't have those restrictions. Meaning, the hotheads and children from dark and ruthless families needed to be kept under control. It was a known fact that a wand that was matched to the wizard's or witch's magic worked much better than an inherited wand. Which meant, all wands were bought for a child when it started school, with some exceptions of really poor families.
But those mostly didn't have the education to know the lethal kind of dark spells anyway to abuse that loophole. Thus, Potions or enchanted items remained as the two ways to kill another student and the school never stocked up ingredients that could be used to brew poisons outside of the personal stock of the Potions master. Who had to take all measures needed to secure those ingredients. And Snape, Harry knew, had impeccable wards around those cupboards, meaning not even Hermione in their second year, when she suggested her hare-brained polyjuice potion plan to find out if Malfoy was the heir of Slytherin, would have got in there. The ingredients she had taken weren't that dangerous after all, just uncommon and expensive. And, if Dumbledore wasn't playing his games, the wards would detect dangerous objects and stop them from passing through the wards. But he did play his games, thus the diary could enter the school.
Harry had learned that the trace was activated on the students when they rode over the lake. Until that point in time, it was a passive enchantment, as nobody wanted to risk a child being overlooked in activating the trace in the past. And, back then, wand-making had been a much more popular trade and not all wandmakers were reliable to properly activate every single trace on new wands. There had been cases of some of them being bribed to 'forget' doing the activation charm. Thus, Hogwarts got the duty for that part. There was a ward around the lake that latched onto the trace on every single first-year that crossed the lake and activated the enchantment. Well, those with new wands at least. It tuned into the wand signature, connected it to the magical signature of the child and was then registered at the files that the heads of houses had for their students with the decision of the Sorting Hat. This ward was the sole reason why all the first-years were taken to the school via the boats and not the carriages, no matter the weather.
It was an arrangement that the founders themselves had set up and thus had enchanted the Sorting Hat to do the deed after they were gone. For those with family wands, the heads of the houses were meant to remedy the lack of trace during the first week, but Harry was quite sure that they didn't do that. After all, the secondary reasons for the trace weren't known to most these days anymore. And it would mean you had to check all student files after the sorting, which he doubted people like McGonagall would do, having too much work already. There was a spell, which Harry had learned from his studies, that allowed a teacher to reactivate a previously deactivated trace on a wand. The trace was always deactivated on the seventeenth birthday of a child, which was another enchantment, which was placed on the student files, and which was linked to their files at the Ministry of Magic. It was automatic, and nobody could prevent it happening.
Thus, at Hogwarts, (nearly) no student could kill another one. Cursing them, injuring them, playing pranks and other things were definitely possible, but killing didn't work. The oaths to not kill any students were renewed at the beginning of each school year with all teachers. This way, nothing fell through due to oversight. In fact, the school wouldn't acknowledge a teacher that hadn't sworn that oath. It still left them enough leeway to be unpleasant, case in point, Snape. Harry suspected that Quirrell had sworn the oath, but the possession of Voldemort had then screwed up the magical signature of the oath, which was why Quirrell could attempt to kill Harry with magic during the year. After all, the cursing of his broom was done with magic, even if the attempt down in the mirror room was done with his bare hands.
At the Ministry, this protection didn't exist and most students taking their exams there were home-schooled. It didn't make sense to have a trace on them when they used magic at their homes regularly, another thing children weren't told about, they just got informed that the trace was universal and that the Ministry would notice if they used magic over the times when they weren't in school or with their tutors. Thus, the oath that could be demanded to not make important heirs to targets of rivals. If Harry could have got away with it, he would have asked to sit his OWLs early as well, but nobody would have allowed it. Contrary to the NEWTs, there wasn't a law forcing the Ministry to accommodate the wishes of the student.
The school or the tutors did the application for the OWLs whenever they thought the student was ready for them. Normally that was after five years of schooling, though some tutors were known to do it earlier.
Well, this year would be the last one Harry spent at Hogwarts, and he wouldn't lift a finger for anybody. He would do his thing and nothing more. He had tried to tell Fudge about Voldemort's return and the result was a smear campaign in the Daily Prophet. Well, if the wizarding world wanted to be idiots, he wouldn't help them. And neither would he continue being a good boy. Being a hero was overrated in any way. It didn't pay off. This summer, he hadn't got any decent letters from his so-called friends. While he knew that they were actually spies for Dumbledore, they should have made more of an effort to stay in contact with him.
He would use the fact that nobody cared about including him in anything. He had told his aunt and uncle that if they wanted to get rid of him for the summer, all they had to do was signing a form that allowed him to join a pathfinder camp, for which he would pay himself. When asked where he got the money, Harry had told them that Sirius had sent him the money, wanting him to have a nice summer break for a change. And while the money would have been enough to pay for three weeks of a really nice vacation, which had been Sirius' original intention according to Harry's made-up tale, it also was enough to let Harry go to camp for six weeks. Harry would always choose the option that got him away for the longest period of time, meaning that he only spent one week at Privet Drive before being ready to catch the bus to the camp.
Vernon had been very happy to get rid of Harry early. He had even assisted in getting Harry's luggage into the car without anybody realising what he was doing. Harry knew that Dumbledore would place guards around Privet Drive. Well, they could try finding him after he was at camp. The Dursleys didn't know where the camp was located after all, didn't care about it at all in fact. The camp was in Sweden, far away from any influence the old man had to ruin another of Harry's summer breaks. The Order would probably search in Great Britain, assuming that Harry didn't have a passport to leave the country. And Harry knew about that, as he had read old copies of the Daily Prophet that claimed the Order of the Phoenix as the opponents that fought with Professor Dumbledore bravely against You-Know-Who. So, who but his own private vigilante group to guard his precious weapon?
Harry had been left at the meeting point for the campers in London. Pathfinder camps were mostly for those that belonged to the various groups all over England, but you could get in without that if there were still open spots for the camps. You would have to adhere to the pathfinder code while being there and follow their typical activities, but that was fully alright in Harry's books. His passport had been acquired when Harry had been thirteen, thanks to paying the goblins for one that would pass in both worlds, and which would update its validity and photo automatically whenever the original date passed. It had cost him twenty galleons, meaning one thousand Pounds, but it was his ticket to freedom, so he didn't care.
The bus that would first take the group to Dover, and then with a ferry over to Calais in France, was currently loaded by a group that wore pathfinder uniforms. The spot Harry had got had been advertised in the local paper in Little Whinging and Harry hadn't hesitated to call the organisers and get his inquiry if there were still open spots confirmed. They had three spots open for non-pathfinders and he had directly booked a spot for himself. Anything else was done within the next two days. Including a shopping trip with his aunt, who disguised Harry buying himself a few fitting muggle clothes as buying normal groceries and clothes for Dudley. Harry was used to playing pack mule, so nobody would think anything strange at him going shopping with his aunt.
He was to hand in his signed form to the adults in charge when he got onto the bus. Otherwise they wouldn't have been sure to get everything done with the mail on time. Not when there was only one week left for late campers. Harry knew that the journey would be long, but he looked forward to just being one of the group, not famous and certainly not reviled by everybody whenever they felt like it. He walked over to the group that was loading the bus.
"Good morning, could you perhaps tell me where to hand my paperwork for the trip in?" Harry asked.
"Sure thing, we set up a table on the other side of the bus. I'm Jake, one of the leaders for the camp. What's your name?" The brown-haired man asked kindly.
"Harry Potter. I was a late sign up after I read the ad in the paper," Harry introduced himself.
"Ah, yes. We didn't have enough pathfinders from the various groups to fill all spots and offered them otherwise. And, ready to experience pathfinder life in the woods of Sweden?" Jake asked with a smile.
"Certainly. It definitely beats dealing with my cousin, who was forced onto a diet by his school's healer. He's very grumpy when he's hungry," Harry told Jake, not lying, but also not giving away too much.
"Ouch, well, good to have you with us, Harry. How long will you stay at camp?"
"Six weeks," Harry answered.
"Wow, a long time for a first-time camper, but I think you will like it," Jake stated.
"I think so too," Harry nodded.
"Well, you can leave your trunk with us, we will put it into the storage area of the bus. Just take the things for the journey with you and hand the papers that we asked for in at the table."
"Will do, thank you, Jake," Harry replied and went around the front of the bus. There was the aforementioned table, about five families currently waiting to hand over their children's documents.
The confirmation letter he got two days after the call he made included a list of what each camper needed, from insect repellent to hiking shoes. The leaders of the trip would collect the passports of all campers, the International Certificate of Vaccination and a camp pass, which informed them about things like allergies, dietary needs and gave general permission to participate in all kinds of activities like going swimming, learning to sailboard and the like. Harry fully planned to do everything the camp offered. This was his first ever vacation and he would enjoy it. He had to wait for a few minutes before he could hand over everything that the team would need and then was told that he could look for a seat up in the bus. The bus from London could seat seventy persons. It was a double decker bus with full climate control functions, which was very neat.
On a long journey like the one they would go on, it would take over half a day to reach their destination, what with having to travel through France and Germany before they could get to the ferry that would set them over to Goteborg in Sweden, it would be an immense help.
The Order of the Phoenix was in uproar. Nobody had seen Harry Potter for three days at his relatives' house and they had sent Alastor Moody to check the house with his eye to find out if he was locked up inside or if something else was going on. To the immense displeasure of Dumbledore, Harry wasn't anywhere on the premises. It had led to him confronting Petunia Dursley, which she didn't like at all and made it loudly known, but fact was, Harry Potter had decided to ignore his instructions and had gone onto a camping trip with a muggle organisation called pathfinders.
Dumbledore was very unhappy about it. Summers were meant to drive home to Harry that he would never have it as good in the muggle world as in the wizarding world. The unpleasantness of his relatives ensured that perspective. Some questions to Hermione Granger had told him that the pathfinders were an acknowledged organisation that practiced living in harmony with nature and helping people. At least he could accept their behaviour for influencing Harry. The boy needed to play the hero until it was time for him to confront Voldemort and die.
The horcrux in Harry's scar didn't allow for any other result. But Dumbledore didn't want Harry to think that the muggle world could offer him a better life than the wizarding world, should he, against all odds, manage to survive. There was a chance, after Voldemort had used Harry's blood in his resurrection ritual, that the blood would work as an anchor for Harry himself. It all depended on the order of destruction of the horcruxes. Should one horcrux remain when Harry was killed by Voldemort, the anchor of Harry's blood in Voldemort would perhaps allow him to not cross over. But there couldn't be too much of Voldemort's soul remaining in form of horcruxes to overpower Harry's soul, thus he considered the best chance for the scenario to work if Voldemort was down to one horcrux, at the most two and then only the later ones that didn't hold as big pieces as the older ones. Thankfully the biggest one, the diary, was already destroyed. The whole scenario working out perfectly was just too remote a possibility. If Harry wasn't prepared to die against Voldemort, it wouldn't work. Tricky thing soul magic.
But, as Harry had beaten the odds against him several times by now, he wouldn't exclude the possibility of his survival. And in that case, the wizarding world couldn't afford Harry to not love it. He was too powerful to turn into another Tom Riddle. No, better to not have proper ties to the muggle world, even if the wizarding world had many flaws, which Dumbledore liked to play with to reach his goals. If he wanted the wizarding world to continue like it had before, without people realising that they only acted on his pulling of the strings, which he wanted to continue even after his death, which normally would be several years away, after all, wizards lived much longer than muggles thanks to their magic, but you never knew while fighting a war, he needed a successor that continued his work.
Harry was perfectly suited for that, but he needed to believe in the infallibility of Albus Dumbledore. And for that, he couldn't be allowed to find out too many things. The best manipulations were after all those that weren't found out. The main problem now was finding Harry and getting him back under control. It wouldn't do for him to develop independence.
The Order was looking for any kind of muggle camp to see if Harry was there. They couldn't be too obvious though, as they had to make sure to not break the Statute of Secrecy. Why couldn't the dratted boy do as he was told and stay put at his relatives?
Harry got off the bus at their destination after a long trip with both the bus and a ferry. At least they had had the chance to walk around a bit while they were on the ferry. That had been nice, and the duty-free shop had allowed him to buy a few things that he liked. It was a good thing that he had made sure to have more than enough money for both worlds. While the goblins had been confused why he wanted to have half of the payment for the basilisk sale in gold bullion, they had easily done it. Gold was gold after all. But gold bullion allowed Harry to sell it in the muggle world and get muggle currency for it, contrary to the screwed-up exchange course from galleons to Pounds.
According to Corpnik, the Potter account manager, the Ministry set the exchange rates, which didn't reflect the true value of the wizarding currency. One galleon equalled fifty Pounds, but the Ministry set the rate to five Pounds. Probably because nobody wanted to bother with finding out the true purchase value of the currency. One more reason why the goblins weren't on good terms with the Ministry of Magic, next to the Bagman problem, what with him not paying his gambling debts.
Harry had known that, as the one to kill the basilisk in single combat, he owned the corpse and could sell it without having to give anybody else a share. Something else Dumbledore never even mentioned. Harry had by now sold a tenth of the gold bullion he had got, as he had noticed that the price for gold was continually rising during the past years. It was much smarter to only sell the amount he needed to be fluid in the muggle world easily and wait for better prices to sell the rest. And he could store the gold in his vault like he did all his other valuable possessions. Though he didn't use the trust vault he had for that.
The trust vault was sadly overseen by Dumbledore, who had managed to gain magical guardianship over Harry. It was a reason Harry needed to keep a low profile until he could test out of school with his NEWTs. Dumbledore couldn't be allowed to notice his plans before it was already too late. His real money was in the former personal vault of his mother, which the goblins had transferred to him, but officially it would continue under his mother's maiden name until he came of age and could change it. And his mother had added him to have access to the account in case of her death. She had kept about one thousand galleons in there, which Harry had profited from. It was by far not as much as in the Potter family vault, but it was money Dumbledore didn't know about and couldn't control therefore.
His muggle currency was kept at Barclay's Bank, for which he had visited a branch in London. It wasn't too far away from the hidden entrance of the Leaky Cauldron, which was how he had decided upon it. He could easily slip out of the bar and get some things done in the muggle world, when he was staying there before his third year. He had been very busy during those days. Thankfully, after giving the goblins a recording of his parseltongue command to get the Chamber of Secrets open, they took care of harvesting the basilisk. They got a ten percent share of the sales, which, considering the size of the monster, was much more than they normally got with fixed rates of the work.
And, as he wouldn't have known how to get this done, it was much more efficient. He didn't mind letting them have that share, as they would also work on maximising the profit that the sale brought in. A win-win situation.
Next to that, he had figured out that in highly magical places the Ministry couldn't track who used magic. There was simply too much interference. The spell he had used first was a confundus charm on the papers that were needed for his opening of a bank account. He wasn't of age after all and needed permission of his guardian normally. Faking the signature was easy, he had been doing that since he was seven and got punished by the Dursleys for his report card, which was simply much better than Dudley's. After that he got creative and simply showed his aunt and uncle a copy of Dudley's report card with his name on top, while his real one, which the teacher wanted signed by his aunt or uncle, got a fake signature and was kept hidden otherwise. He wasn't stupid enough to attract attention in class after all, which Dudley would have complained about again.
If not for the Dursleys complaining if he simply took off, and he couldn't be sure that he might have to stay there for a few more days after his fifth year at Hogwarts, he would have done the same for his permission for the pathfinder camp. But this way, nobody could complain and get him punished for his actions, simply because he was acting in the muggle world. And there, his muggle relatives, thanks to Dumbledore, were his legal guardians until he was of age. The Ministry of Magic would accept that his uncle had given permission for Harry to go camping for six weeks and nothing could be done about it otherwise. No matter how much Dumbledore might try to regain control over Harry by pulling some strings.
And to make sure he wasn't found, he had sent Hedwig to stay with Sirius, the one person he somewhat trusted. Not fully, he wouldn't tell him his plans, as, thanks to Azkaban, his mind was simply too damaged to keep information fully secret, especially around Legilimens like Snape and Dumbledore. No, Sirius got a letter, in which Harry explained that he was at a pathfinder camp for six weeks, simply to not have the tedious situation at the Dursleys escalate, citing that it had already been a problem last year, what with the Aunt Marge incident, and only the threat of Sirius coming to hex them into oblivion made them comply.
Harry reasoned to not risk that, what with Sirius not constantly being on the news anymore, they would return to their really nasty behaviour, by getting out of their way. Sirius was told he wanted him to look after Hedwig, as he couldn't take her with him to a muggle camp, and when he would be back. No location, supposedly in case the owl was intercepted, something the first letter from Ron and Hermione had claimed as the reason for them not being able to write properly, and only the date when he would be back at Privet Drive, next to the question if it would be possible to spend the rest of summer with him. The Order, which Harry knew Sirius was a part of, would have to work with that information. And there were too many pathfinder organisations in Great Britain to find out which one had Harry as one of the campers. By the time they might manage, it would be far too late to do anything about it.
Right now, Harry inhaled the fresh air and stretched his muscles. The long sitting in the bus was really taxing.
"Alright everybody. Please listen!" Jake called out and the pathfinders quickly built two lines, with Harry simply adapting and joining them, "We will unload the bus orderly. There are four compartments on each side that need to be unloaded. One person will pull the luggage from the compartment, another takes it over there," He pointed to a spot under a tree, "and leaves it there until we have everything out. Sort the things into trunks, travelling bags and equipment, so that we can take it to the camp easier. We are the first group to arrive up here, so we are on our own until the next one arrives. They are scheduled to be here in about three hours. Our camp is about ten minutes on foot from here, but the bus can't go further."
The pathfinders nodded.
"We will build lines for each compartment to carry the luggage over. It doesn't matter whose luggage you grab and carry, we will sort that later. For now, you take one piece you are handed and take it over to the point I showed you. For the big metal crates, you will have to carry them with two people, as they are heavy. When one person has his piece of luggage, the next one steps forward and so on, until the bus is empty," Jake continued.
The group set to work and within half an hour everything that had been loaded into the bus was out again. Jake put three boys that he seemingly knew from before in charge of watching over their luggage, while the others found their respective luggage and carried it, following Jake on a small dirt path into the forest. Harry was very glad that his trunk only needed him to push some magic through the handle to become much lighter. It was a subtle way to make things easier for him without any muggles being able to spot discrepancies.
The camp was nice, Harry decided. It was clear that the spots inside this forest were regularly used by the pathfinders, as there were some basic necessary buildings available to them. They would sleep in tents, all specially treated to work in any kind of weather, but things like bathrooms, showers and a kitchen were in solid buildings. Seemingly the others were used to this already, as they had started setting up the tents immediately. And they were big tents.
"Hey, do you know what to do, Harry?" Patrick, the boy he had sat next to in the bus asked.
"Not really, I only went camping once, and the tents weren't this large then," Harry admitted.
"Then just listen to us others, it's not that difficult if you know what you do," Patrick assured him, "Hector, Harry doesn't have experience in setting up tents of this size, can you take him into your group?"
"Sure thing, Patrick. Come over here, Harry and hold this pole up. We will take care of connecting others to it," Hector called, and Harry did just that.
They needed some time, but after a while eight tents that allowed ten people to sleep in them were set up. Harry had learned that the tents would stay here for the whole time the pathfinder camp took place, which was the whole remainder of the summer break in England. The reasoning was simple. The pathfinder organisation earned a good part of the money they needed with these camps. For each week, they made a net profit of twenty Pounds per camper. Not too much per person, but in total it allowed them to pay for the infrastructure back in their home country for the rest of the year.
And many teenagers liked going into camps like this one, especially as they offered the left-over spots to anybody that was willing to accept the pathfinder code while he or she was there. There would be about one hundred and forty teenagers at the same time, with twenty adults looking after them. Two of them were the camp cooks, even if there would be groups of helpers each day, otherwise it wouldn't work out. Most campers would stay two to three weeks. Harry was a rare exception with his six weeks. But during the journey, he had explained his reasoning to the others and they understood that he would rather get away from unpleasant relatives in a way nobody could complain about.
While the teenagers were busy setting up the tents, the adults checked the buildings. They made sure that the gas containers were full and connected to the stove, the bathrooms were cleaned and had basic supplies like toilet paper available for a few days and that the tables and benches for the mess tent that would arrive with the next group were clean and in good repair. Normally that should be the case, but they had to check to give a report about the state they found their camping space in, as they had a Swedish firm under contract that prepared the camp buildings before they arrived.
The camp was great in Harry's opinion. He was just one of the group, one that still learned how pathfinders went about their day. He honestly didn't mind doing things in certain ways. He had a lot of fun in learning things like following animal trails in the forest, doing a survival tour, where they got a compass, a map and some provisions and were then left at some point a good distance away from the camp to find their way back. The others in his group told him that it was a normal thing for pathfinder camps to happen. It was actually one of the highlights. They were without adult supervision and the distance could always be crossed within two days at most, normally less.
The others were old hats at making fire without matches or lighters and Harry found out that he wasn't bad at fishing at all. The most of all, he enjoyed the peace of the area. The closest town was twenty kilometres away, it was where the group got their food from with the van that had come with the second group on their first day. That meant, the only people around were the ones from the camp and as long as you didn't go too far away, you could easily get some privacy. And the lake close to the camp, it was only three minutes on foot away, had some neat spots where nobody could see you, if you wanted to be alone.
It definitely helped Harry clear his mind of all the problems back in Great Britain. He would enjoy this vacation to the fullest. And the group also planned to visit some of the large cities in Sweden, like the capitol Stockholm and then Goteborg. Especially the girls were looking forward to going shopping there.
Each day, the group got up at eight in the morning, with breakfast being served at eight thirty. The group that had kitchen duty for the day, there were always ten helpers each day for the kitchen team, was woken up half an hour before all others. Harry liked that the menu was very versatile. They had English dishes, Swedish ones, Italian ones and German ones, just to list a few. Considering that they had limited means to cook, it was impressive. Harry also learned a lot of popular songs that were regularly sung at a campfire, next to several games that others had brought with them. Next to the supply from the organisation. It was nice to play games like monopoly or clue in the evenings, when the normal activities of the day were over.
Of course, a night excursion couldn't be missing from the program. The adults had set up a game at night, where the group was split into teams of five each and they had to find ten stations overall and solve the tasks given to them there. Be it singing one of the songs from the song book the group had from memory to doing as many push-ups in thirty seconds as possible. It was great fun and, in the end, the best teams got prizes.
Harry was very glad that he had taken the chance when it turned up. He knew that back at the Dursleys he wouldn't have been able to relax like this. It would give him strength for the inevitable inquisition back when he returned to England.
Until next weekend.