36-New Hope

It took the children a few meetings to make Augusta agree to their plan. It was more like refining the plan than agreeing in principle. Augusta was quite proud of her grandson and his friends. She was sure that they could already get their Potions mastery, had they not needed to sit OWLs and NEWTs first.

Until the bureaucracy approved, the children were busy with learning healing at the club, with school work and, as Petunia found by mistake, with visiting various places of interest to them, mainly sunny beaches. That afternoon, she wanted to ask Dudley something about a coming school event. She found his door open and the room empty, with four sets of clothes on the bed. An hour later, she heard the children talking and laughing.

"Where have you been?" she asked.

"A beach in Haiti," Hermione answered.

"You knew how to get there? I thought you could only go where you visited before."

"It doesn't matter much. We read about it and saw some pictures. Harry then shifted there, still wearing trousers, and found an appropriate spot for us to join him. We had so much fun!"

Petunia sighed. In a few years, that could be interpreted in very different ways, but at the moment, they were still innocent children. Well, children. She knew them to be responsible and do nothing unbecoming. "So, you swam there?"

Harry answered this time. "No, the waves were too high, but we tested our sun-block potion and we met some nudists, most much older, though."

Petunia just shook her head, glad that Vernon was no longer living there. He wouldn't have reacted well to such behaviour.

\/\/\/

HDHN Inc. started its activity at the end of February. The next day, Augusta had two missions. She needed St. Mungos to let her test some antibiotics on ill patients, and she needed to test a cure for ADHD at a muggle hospital. Of course, she had to tell a modified story for the authorities to allow both experiments.

The children still acted as expected for their age: after making the potions and giving the instructions, they had no patience for following the clinical tests. They left that to Augusta, their CEO, and moved their attention elsewhere.

The club had a lot to grab their attention. They were learning healing almost like adult healers. The main exception was that they couldn't exercise most of their learning except on dummies. Dylan found himself pressed hard to keep the pace. He'd never learned healing and was learning it along with the children, only a week ahead of them. He felt lucky that the children were smart enough to understand it all even when he wasn't sure he understood everything correctly. When any of them explained, he could finally understand.

Luckily for Dylan, teaching the children some complex medical potions, most of which were usually simplified by Harry (with Hermione's help) or by Dudley even before trying to brew, was much less frustrating. He also kept them practising their mind shields and their magic in general. The children seemed to absorb knowledge, process it and put it to good use almost as fast as he could teach them.

\/\/\/

Lora gave birth to twin boys in the last week of April. This was celebrated by the whole club and Augusta taught the children some potions that could help the mother recuperate quicker and others to help the babies in case of various aches or nappy rash. At Hermione's insistence, she also taught them a potion that helped lactating mothers in cases their nipples became painful. The boys grimaced at that, but they all made perfect potions. Luna and Hermione took some for their mothers and Harry made sure to bring some for Lora too.

A month later, it was Neville's time to rejoice, when he got a new sister. Unlike the girls, he was certainly NOT interested in the details.

\/\/\/

As the end of the school year was approaching, Dylan started wondering if he should continue running the club. Eight members would leave, due to going to Hogwarts. The six remaining children could easily meet without his involvement and he didn't feel like he had much more to give them. Well, he could still meet them once a month to make sure they stayed in shape at brewing and kept their mind shields up. Besides, with his children growing, he couldn't afford to spend more time on the club.

\/\/\/

The antibiotics proved to work well on various magical ailments. Some patients who had been considered beyond help were restored to full health with it. The children thought it was time to try it on the werewolves.

They made a special version of the improved Wolfsbane with the addition of several kinds of antibiotics, after making sure that they didn't clash with each other, nor with the ingredients of the potion. In addition, they had the antibiotic mix ready for complementary treatment, since one normally needed a few days on antibiotic treatment to get rid of all the microbes.

On that full moon, all the werewolves who normally took the potion were given this special edition. They were also requested to take the additional medication for another week. The results could not be known before the next full moon.

\/\/\/

"You know, staffs are mentioned a lot in fantasy books. Aren't they useful for real?" Harry asked Dylan.

Dylan wasn't sure. "I've never used any. They're supposed to give the users a lot more power at their disposition, or maybe channel their own magic better. I'm not sure if anybody still uses them."

Harry's next question was as expected: "Can you bring us any books about staffs?"

Dylan smiled. "I'll check my family's library and I'll ask the children from magical families to do the same. I believe the Potter family also had a large library. Maybe you should try to gain access to it, if it still exists."

Harry frowned. "How would I do this? I don't think my aunt knows anything about it, or she would have told me. She told me a lot since her divorce."

"In that case, I suggest you wait for your Hogwarts letter, when you'll have a legitimate reason to visit Gringotts, where you can inquire about your assets. Right now, I assume that Dumbledore handles it all as your Magical Guardian. No need to alert him to your knowledge. You'll probably need to confront him soon enough as is." Dylan didn't keep his opinion secret.

Harry grimaced. "Why do you think I'll need to confront him?"

Dylan refrained from smiling. "You already know how things go at Hogwarts. Do you want Snape to teach you Potions? I believe you already know more than him and are a better teacher too. I don't know who the DADA teacher will be, but it looks like they take whoever they can, regardless of fitting the job. Will you accept anybody who knows less than you as your teacher? The way I see it, a confrontation is bound to happen, sooner or later, and I believe it would happen quite soon."

Harry's grimace deepened. "Dumbledore is considered the most powerful wizard alive. It can be dangerous to fight him."

Dylan smiled and shook his head. "You're much more powerful than him, and you're still growing. Even Hermione is more powerful. Just make sure your mind shields are up at all times and check for new binds and charms cast on you. That shield you've shown me can be useful if you can keep it for long enough."

Harry shrugged. "I can keep it for as long as I want, I think. I once tried to keep it since I woke up until I fell asleep. It was still there when I woke up the next day."

"Then use it at all times, unless it prevents you from using your magic."

Harry smiled. "It didn't do anything to my wandless magic. I tried with my custom wand and it passed too, but not quite as well. I could probably use it to make myself seem less powerful."

"That's a good idea. Can Hermione do the same?"

"We all can, even the youngest."

\/\/\/

Since the time when wands became popular, staffs had lost their appeal to most wizards and witches. They were big, heavy and quite difficult to carry and to use, compared to wands. True, they enhanced one's power, allowing one to get formidable results, but who needed them on a daily basis?

Dylan had to ask the house elves to search for a book on staffs, not having enough time to look for that himself. The elves found two books, both hidden behind newer and larger books. He could have spent months and not find them. The books themselves weren't very detailed. One was dealing mainly with how to use staffs, barely describing how to make one. The other had a few more details, but Dylan wasn't too happy with it either.

At the next meeting, the children brought two more copies of the same books, which wasn't encouraging, and a thin booklet that Susan found. The booklet was a bit more detailed, but Dylan felt it wasn't enough. He got his surprise when leafing through some other copy of one of the books he got. He found some handwritten comments that made staff creation more accessible. Dylan wasn't sure if that would suffice, but he was willing to give it a try. He let Harry make copies of that book and the two others for each member. They would read the books, discuss them at the next meeting and only try to work on making staffs a week later.

\/\/\/

That schedule was disrupted by getting the results from the werewolf experiment. None of those who got the modified Wolfsbane transformed, nor did they feel any different than on other nights. It looked like they were all cured of their affliction.

The children were just glad to have another success, not giving it much importance. That changed a few days later, when they started getting "Thank You" letters. All were addressed to the company, of course, but Augusta brought the most touching ones to the children, so they could learn how important their invention was.

Harry was especially moved by one letter. "Since my friends died during the war, I wanted to visit their son, who was raised by some distant family. Due to my affliction, I didn't even dare come close. As you may know, werewolves are considered dark creatures and most wards will prevent them from passing. I was informed that Harry, my nephew in all but blood, was protected by very strong wards, and those would reject me, maybe even harm me, if I try to visit. Now, without the affliction, I may finally be able to find him and hug him for all the time lost.

Thank you so much, all those people who worked to make this possible. You brought new hope into my life."

It was signed by Remus Lupin. Harry and Dudley were proud to show Petunia this letter. She paid special attention to the signature. "Harry, I think that Mr. Lupin was one of your parents' friends and the Harry he mentions in the letter is you."

Harry was surprised. He thought he'd like to meet Remus if only to hear some more about his parents. Then, there was also the question of security. Although he would go to Hogwarts in a few months, he didn't want anybody to associate him with the company. As usual, he consulted with his friends.

Hermione frowned at the idea. "Even if he couldn't visit you, he could write to you. Well, maybe he didn't know your address. From what we heard of Dumbledore, it's quite possible that he kept it secret even from your parents' friends."

Harry agreed. "He hasn't told Sirius anything until now, despite meeting him at the Ministry many times, even when Sirius asked." He then chuckled. "Sirius already knows, of course, but not thanks to Dumbledore, and he can't tell others due to the Fidelius."

Dudley didn't have any constructive idea. Neville had one. "My Gran can invite him to meet the inventors and require a secrecy vow for that. If he gives the vow and has good Occlumency shields, we can meet him. If he refuses the vow, we won't meed him. If his Occlumency isn't good enough, we can remove the memory of our identities at the end."

What made Harry decide, though, was Sirius's reaction to the letter. The man, who was normally happy and full of smiles, started weeping at seeing the letter. It took him some time to get a hold of himself and tell Harry, "I've been looking for Remus since I was exonerated, but I couldn't find him. He may have left the country or gone to live like a muggle and erected an owl ward. He was one of my best friends, just like your father. I'd also like to meet him."

\/\/\/

A week later, they met Remus Lupin at Longbottom Manor. Since Augusta was known as the CEO of the company, that was no secret and didn't raise any suspicions. Remus had willingly given the vow before Augusta led him to another room where all four inventors were sitting.

Remus frowned and turned to Augusta. "Is this a prank? If it is, it's not funny at all."

Augusta smiled reassuringly. "HDHN stands for Harry Potter, Dudley Evans, Hermione Granger, and my grandson, Neville Longbottom. They are the geniuses behind the Lycanthropy cure."

Remus seemed to have been slapped. "Harry Potter?" He turned his gaze back to the children. "Harry? I was looking for you for ages. Dumbledore wouldn't give me your address. He said you were doing well and should have no contact with the magical world before you're old enough. Is that really you? It must be. You look so much like James, when I first met him, only you have your mother's eyes. Oh, Harry! Forgive me for not staying a part of your life after that fateful Halloween!"

Hermione pushed Harry to stand up and he approached the man hesitantly. The man seemed sincere, but he couldn't read his mind. His Occlumency shields were very different from any he'd encountered until then.

Remus didn't hesitate. He bent a bit and grabbed Harry into a tight hug, laughing and crying all at once. Harry couldn't even understand most of what he mumbled while hugging. He only caught a few names, or words, he wasn't sure about them: Moony, Prongs, Padfoot and Wormtail. These rang a bell in Harry's mind. He couldn't really remember the times before he was orphaned when he was barely a toddler. He wasn't expected to remember those times. He remembered Sirius mentioning them, but not elaborating. Well, as much as he liked hearing about his parents, he'd been quite busy since he met Sirius. Maybe he should ask Sirius next time they met.

After a bit, Remus noticed that the child didn't feel comfortable in his hug. He apologized and put him back down, trying to calm down. He then tried to get acquainted with all four children, learn how they created the cure and whatever else they were willing to tell. He still paid special attention to Harry. "I'd like to visit your home and see how you live," he told Harry.

"Dudley and I live with my aunt Petunia. It was quite bad for me while she was married to Vernon Dursley, but it became much better since her divorce. She cares for me just as she cares for Dudley and she loves us almost the same." Harry then sighed. "I think you shouldn't visit, though, since I don't want Dumbledore to know what happens. The less he knows of me, the better."

Remus seemed surprised and even slightly offended. "Don't you trust Dumbledore? He's a great man, a great leader of the light. He's done much for the betterment of the magical world."

"Like what?" Harry asked.

Remus seemed hard-pressed to find a concrete example. "He led the resistance against the Dark Lord during the war," he finally said.

"And how many Death Eaters did that resistance kill?" Hermione asked.

Remus looked appalled. "We didn't kill them. We stunned them, bound them and had them put on trial. That's how you treat criminals."

"And how many of them reached the trial? How many were convicted?" she pressed on.

Remus didn't know what to say. Hermione wouldn't relent. "Besides, at war, you kill or get killed. It was stupid to stun them, just so their comrades could revive them. You see, I read about the war. Dumbledore led a losing strategy. It was noble but stupid."

Remus had thought that way for years, but he trusted Dumbledore too much to oppose his opinion. Was his trust placed on the wrong man? That was an unsettling thought. He forced himself back to the present. "I can understand why you don't trust him. He'll learn nothing about you from me, I promise you."