With the distractions removed, making staffs was proven to be only slightly more difficult than making wands, yet their experience in wand making helped smooth the process.
Once again, Dylan found the ingredients. Unlike wands, staffs used only a smaller number of woods to start with, mainly due to the need to use long, relatively straight branches as a starting point. Unlike wands, staffs were also limited to a single type of wood, since it was practically impossible to effectively use more than one.
All this didn't bother the children too much. They ended up with raw materials very similar to their wands. Using their wandless magic instead of manual tools made the process quick and easy enough to be considered fun, although working a three to six feet staff required more work than a wand that was only a few inches long. Still, by the second work meeting, all the staffs were almost ready, only needing a few layers of lacquer and the attachment of a brass "foot" and the top gem to be finished.
The next meeting, they went out to the wild area that was part of the Longbottom Manor and tried, one by one, to use their staffs. Dylan was impressed by the amount of power one could handle that way, but it was also evident that one needed a lot of practice to properly use a staff. Without practice, it was less useful than a wand and much more cumbersome.
"We can shrink the staffs to the size of wands, I believe," Harry noted. "Wouldn't they be just as useful when shrunk?"
Hermione considered his question and then shook her head. "In a way, a staff is just an over-sized wand. It has similar wood and similar cores. The main difference is in size. Due to the much larger size, it can hold or pass much more magic in more efficient ways. If you shrink it, you lose that benefit, making the staff just an awkwardly shaped wand. We can check, though."
Harry was very disappointed to find that she was right. Most of what makes a staff more powerful was lost when shrunk. "It can still be useful as a wand, and turned back into a staff if we need more power," he said. Hermione agreed with that.
The staffs were the last project of the club. They still brewed some potions and exercised different kinds of magic, but it was clear that the club was reaching its end. Dylan could see no practical way to continue the meetings and let the children benefit. They were all more accomplished wizards and witches than most Hogwarts graduates. Dylan felt humbled by their achievements. He didn't feel like he could teach them more. The children didn't talk of it, but he had the impression that they all knew it was the end. With more than half the members leaving for Hogwarts, it would never be the same.
They still had the summer to enjoy together, though, and they seemed adamant to enjoy it as much as they could. By using shifting, they could spend each day on another beach throughout the world and still sleep at home.
The Johnson family took a vacation to Italy, visiting as many of the museums as they could. Whenever they went into a museum, the other club members joined them. Well, those who thought it was interesting. Harry and Dean were very interested in all forms of art, as was Colin. The others enjoyed the first museum, liked the second and got bored by the third.
A few days after the Johnson family returned, the Granger took its vacation in France. Aside from Harry and Dean, the others didn't join the visits at the famous museums in Paris but didn't miss a visit at the Eiffel Tower, the palaces at Versailles, and the various castles along the Loire. They liked the best the nude beaches along the Mediterranean, of course.
Dylan didn't feel like it was right to join the children at any of the places where one normally had to pay admission but had no qualms at joining them for sight-seeing or at the beaches.
Harry and Dudley got their letters at the end of July. Dudley's letter stated that a representative of the school would come on the fifth of August to introduce him to the magical world and take him shopping. Nothing like that was mentioned in Harry's letter.
Still, on the first day of August, a mountain of a man knocked on the door, almost knocking it off its hinges. Petunia opened the door.
"Excuse me, Madam, but I'm here to take Harry shopping for his school supplies. The headmaster sent me." He then seemed to remember something, "Oh, and I'm Rubeus Hagrid, at your service."
Petunia wore her old sour face, ready for the man. "Well, take the boy! Don't expect me to pay for his freakish stuff, though."
Hagrid didn't mind. "Don't worry, his parents left him enough to cover all his school expenses and leave some pocket money too."
"Whatever," Petunia kept her sharp, sour tone. "As long as I don't need to pay, it's fine with me."
Dudley only peeked from behind a curtain. He didn't mind waiting a few more days.
Harry was also ready for this day. He expected somebody to come and take him to Diagon Alley, and wore some of Dudley's old clothes each morning until he thought it was too late for such a trip. He followed Hagrid meekly, just the way he would have done before he started meeting with Father Roberts.
If Hagrid noticed, he didn't comment. He first took Harry to Gringotts, where Harry asked the goblins for an explanation about how the bank worked and how it merged into the economics of the magical world. Hagrid thought it was just childish curiosity and left him alone with the goblins.
Harry only got the short form introduction to his assets, but that was enough for him to lose some more faith in Dumbledore, not that there was much to lose. It was clear that Dumbledore didn't bother to manage any of the Potter investments. He only had two concerns: One – keep Grunning happy with Vernon Dursley, despite his abysmal performance; Two – use some of the money from the trust vault to finance several of his projects. The goblins also informed him that he would be entitled to get his Lordship by his next birthday, and that his magical guardian should have already started to prepare him for the role, which Dumbledore didn't do, of course.
By the time Hagrid collected him, Harry already had some money in his pocket, along with the bank report in another pocket, shrunk to stay hidden. Hagrid let Harry buy his wand first. Harry found it weird that Ollivander insisted on a certain phoenix feather cored wand, but no matter what, it just didn't respond as expected. Another wand, similar to his custom wand, was found to be a much better fit. Harry knew that it wasn't a perfect fit, despite Ollivander declaring it so.
They bought everything on the list, except for the telescope. As Dylan advised, Harry opted for a cheap muggle telescope instead. According to Dylan, even that was much better than the magical equivalent that cost more than twice. Hagrid agreed to that quite reluctantly.
Hagrid tried to pamper Harry with some ice-cream and bought him a white owl as a birthday present. By the time they finished their shopping, Hagrid took Harry to a diner and gave him a good lunch and then escorted him back on the train to Little Whinging and walked him to Privet Drive. Petunia made sure to look sour enough when seeing Harry back.
Three days later, Professor Minerva McGonagall rang the doorbell. Once again, Harry tried to look as miserable as possible. At first, he stayed hidden, letting the professor explain about magic and about Dudley learning how to use it.
Of course, this was all old news to both Dudley and Petunia. They still responded as expected, with Oohs! and Ahs! at the right points. Yet McGonagall seemed distracted. Harry used some passive Legilimency, as did Dudley. The professor had no mind shields at all, and they could easily find the memory of the night after Halloween, when she objected to Harry being left there and Dumbledore dismissed her objections.
The professor eventually asked Petunia, "Didn't you have a sister who went to Hogwarts?"
Petunia kept an impassive expression. "My sister Lily used to go there."
McGonagall seemed bothered. "Doesn't Harry live with you?"
Petunia sighed impressively. "Unfortunately, he does."
"May I see him?" the old woman asked.
"Boy! Come here! Somebody wants to see you!" Petunia called, sounding as harsh as she had been when Harry was much younger.
McGonagall seemed appalled at his sight. Harry could barely keep the façade of an abused boy. This was not a test for McGonagall. It was a test for Dumbledore.
She spoke shortly with Harry, who made sure to sound neglected and abused, just as he had been a few years earlier. She then asked to take Dudley and Harry for shopping the next morning.
She seemed distracted and furious when she left. Harry was wondering what, if anything, of this meeting she would retain.
Minerva came the next morning, as agreed. Harry was wearing fitting clothes, but well-worn ones. She scanned him quickly but said nothing. Petunia, using her coldest tone reminded Harry, "Make sure to help carry what Dudley buys, boy!"
While riding the train, since Minerva didn't dare use side-along apparition when taking two children for shopping, Harry told her that Hagrid had already taken him shopping. "He just came and told my aunt he'd take me shopping for school. She didn't mind, as long as she didn't have to pay."
Harry also checked her memories. They had been modified to show Harry well dressed and confident. He also uncovered a memory of the discussion she had with Dumbledore, the one that ended with her memory modified. He removed the modifications and restored the original. He would not trust McGonagall as long as she lacked memory shields. He would never trust Dumbledore at all.
It turned out quite a nice outing, really. McGonagall kept telling the boys about the magical world, its customs and its peculiarities (what Harry considered prejudices, but that was a harsh word when introducing children to magic). Dudley's wand was a somewhat better fit than Harry's, but still a far cry from his custom one. Minerva didn't buy him an animal, nor did she buy them any ice-cream or lunch, yet they returned early enough to eat at home.
The children updated Petunia about the mind manipulations the professor had been subjected to. She hugged them both and made them promise to keep their mind shields at all times until they finished school.
It was the last Sunday of August. Petunia came to church with the two boys, all three looking happy. Dylan felt a bit of pride for his role in moving things in the direction that eventually brought them happiness. Even if he was only God's unknowing messenger, he was still glad that he managed to bring some happiness into the world.
In a few days, these two boys would officially join the magical world. Dylan knew in his heart that the day would be later marked as the beginning of the great change that was long overdue, yet the two boys looked nothing like bringers of a revolution. Both were polite, well behaved and smart. They could fit nicely in any group of children, magical or not. Very few knew that these two, along with two others, who weren't present there, were already revolutionizing potion brewing, on one hand, and some muggle medicines, on the other. The income from their inventions was sure to make them rich people even before they finished Hogwarts. They probably knew it, but none paid it any attention.
He couldn't predict what would happen at Hogwarts. They were smart enough to just bid their time and strike when least expected. He didn't think they'd act this way, though. The Potions teacher would be the first to suffer their wrath. They already knew how he was. Angelina spared no words in telling the whole club how Snape behaved and how the headmaster didn't mind. Harry would not stand for such behaviour.
Harry also had another secret weapon at his disposition: he, along with all the club members, was also accepted at several other schools in America, Australia and Europe. They could publicly leave Hogwarts and go elsewhere, ruining the school completely. If Harry Potter and his friends would find the school below their acceptable minimum, very few would even contemplate sending their children there. Of course, it was all Dylan's initiative. As Muggle Raised, none of their families even knew to give them an alternative school, and their default magical guardian – professor Dumbledore – was certainly not going to do that. Now they had an alternative and Dumbledore couldn't do anything to stop them from leaving Hogwarts, since his wards were useless against their shifting.
And Potions would only be the first step. History would probably be the next, followed by Muggle Studies. Even without introducing wandless and silent magic, they would influence a lot of change, both within the school and out of it.
Magical Britain was going to face a veritable storm. He wondered how it would turn out to be after the storm.
A.N. Here we've reached the end of this story. The sequel, which I'll only start publishing after finishing its last chapter, named "Hogwarts' Beam of Light" already has 8 chapters, but that's less than a third of its projected length. Unlike this story, that's mostly from Dylan's point of view, that story would be mainly from Harry's POV. Check my author page for the time it gets published, but don't hold your breath. I already have some other stories awaiting publishing, and they'll come first.