Raised to the Third Power

Disclaimer: Not mine, etc.

Summary: Semi-sequel to "Innocence Lost and Found" and "Cyanide." The war is climaxing, but Voldemort is underestimating something about Harry: his friends. A story starring the Intrepid Trio as well as still-guilty Sirius, still-bitter Severus, and everyone's favorite werewolf.

Note:This story was originally posted in July 2001, during the "three-year summer" between the publication of Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. The story is not compliant with the canon created by the last three books in the series. It was re-edited and reposted along with my other 2001-2002 stories in November 2007 to take advantage of better formatting. I've never been overly fond of this story, even when I originally wrote it—but read on, if you must.


Part 1

Ron stared sullenly out the window of the Gryffindor common room. "I wish we could go outside," he said.

"You've only been out of the hospital wing since last night. You'd probably just get tired right away anyway," Hermione pointed out in a manner which was intended to be soothing and matter-of-fact but which came across as superior and annoying.

"We could still go outside and lie by the lake," said Ron even more irritably.

"It's been raining for two days. We'd get wet," answered Hermione. Even Ron had to admit that she had a point there.

"It's raining, but it still gets awfully boring having to stay inside all the time, though," said Harry, trying to see the positions of both of his friends.

"It's better than having the Death Eaters--" Hermione began severely, but Harry cut her off.

"I know, I know. I know that as well as you do. I'm very glad and very grateful that they didn't get inside. I still think it was nicer when we could go outside." Harry was starting to feel irritable as well, although he had less cause to do so than did Ron. He glanced thoughtfully at Ron now. Ron was still glaring out the window. "Did they get Percy out?" he finally asked, not quite remembering why he and Hermione had been avoiding that question. He was sure that they had had a reason. At least, Hermione must have had a reason, because she now raised her eyebrows in disapproval.

Ron nodded, still not taking his eyes away from the pouring rain. "They took him out around four this morning. Mum and Dad and Bill and Charlie left then, too."

"Who's the Secret-Keeper?" Harry asked without thinking.

"He can't tell you that!" Hermione exclaimed, looking even more annoyed with Harry than she had previously. "He can't even tell you if he knows, let alone who it is if he does. Wasn't that the point of dragging his whole family here? So the Death Eaters wouldn't be able to narrow it down?"

Ron caught Harry's eye midway through Hermione's speech. "Much as I'd like to tell you what I do or don't know just to annoy Hermione, she's right." He choked on these last two words, and a look of gloating came into Hermione's brown eyes.

"There's one thing I wonder," she said slowly, after carefully avoiding saying that she'd told Harry so.

"What's that?" asked Ron. "Tell you if you help me with my Potions essay."

"You don't want help, you want me to write it for you."

"So?" Hermione cast her eyes down in exasperation. "What do you wonder?" Ron prompted.

"Never mind."

"All right." Ron turned to Harry and began a cheery discussion of the Chudley Cannons' most recent almost-win, which had occurred a few months earlier.

"Why didn't Percy just stay here?" Hermione blurted out eventually.

Ron's cheeriness fell to the floor with a thud. "Because if You-Know-Who does get in here, most of us he'll just kill. Percy he'd drive mad, or torture real slowly. Something like that."

Hermione's eyes strayed inadvertently to Harry. "Then why . . . ?"

She did not finish the question. She did not need to.

"Dumbledore's got his reasons, I reckon," answered Ron before the silence could stretch into a horribly uncomfortable state. "Maybe there's something Percy's supposed to be doing, wherever he is. But what Harry's supposed to be doing is going to school, here."

"And we have class soon," she added, standing up and looking around for her books, which were already meticulously organized and ready to go.

"Who is it today? Lupin or Ryan?" asked Ron.

"Remus," said Harry with a grin. He never protested attending a Defense Against the Dark Arts class if Remus Lupin was the professor.

"One of these days you're going to call him that during class and he'll have to take points," said Hermione with disapproval.

Harry shrugged. "He'd find a way to give them back."

"No, he wouldn't. He's a good professor. He's very impartial. I mean, he's partial to you because he knew your parents, but he's not partial to Gryffindor."

"All he has to be is partial to me, and, anyway, I'm not going to call him 'Remus' during class." Harry stood up as well.

"Still, I'll be glad when Professor Ryan comes back. She's a good teacher, too, and we don't have to worry about you calling her 'Cynthia.'"

"You don't have to worry about me calling Remus 'Remus,' either. Besides, Ryan's coming back in two days. Remus said so at breakfast."

"That'll make the Slytherins happy," Ron growled. "Of course, they're happy enough as it is. You'd think they'd actually gotten inside the castle."

"The Slytherins are inside the castle," replied Harry dryly.

"You know what I meant. The Death Eaters. They meant to take the whole thing and kill all of us who don't support them, but all they did was make the castle shake a little. I slept through it." Ron grinned as if his ability to sleep had proven that Hogwarts would never fall to the Dark Lord.

"They also got the snakes inside," said Hermione with a shudder. She harbored no special fear of snakes, but the snakes had entered the castle through a portal in her dormitory. Luckily, she and her roommates, along with the rest of the Gryffindors, had been sleeping in the Great Hall that night.

"They're just snakes. If we were in real danger, they would have closed the school or something. Remember how they almost did when the Chamber of Secrets was opened? Besides, now we know what they made Padma do when she was under the Imperius Curse. Put in a portal when she thought she was fixing Parvati's mirror. That's nothing."

"But Ron, I know the teachers and the Aurors have looked, but she could have done all kinds of other things without knowing--" Hermione began to protest, but Harry interrupted.

"We don't want to be late, Hermione."

"Tell that to Ron, he's the one who's still just sitting there."

"We don't want to be late, Ron," Harry obediently repeated.

"All right. As it's Remus." He stood and gathered his books, basking in the joy of Hermione's disapproval at his choice of address for their professor. The three friends made their way to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and grinned hello to their professor, who smiled back at them. They were the last to arrive save Neville Longbottom, who had probably forgotten something and run back to get it.

When Neville at last dashed in, mumbling apologies, Professor Lupin cleared his throat and instantly had the attention of the class. "I regret to inform you," he said in a melodious voice, "that there will be no practical lessons in this class for several days. Professor Ryan and I have decided that when a unit is to be divided between us, it will be less detrimental for you if the unit involves written work."

"Sir?" Seamus' hand shot into the air, and Lupin suppressed a smile. He knew exactly what Seamus wanted to say, for Seamus said it each and every time he was given the slightest opportunity.

"Yes, Seamus?"

"Since Professor Ryan is so busy with her duties as an Auror, wouldn't it be better if you took on the position full time? I'm only saying this because I wouldn't want our educations to suffer because of this constant switching of instructors, especially with the OWLs coming up." A speech that would have sounded smarmy and sickening coming from Draco Malfoy sounded only affectionate and teasing coming from Seamus.

Lupin shook his head. "I don't believe your friends in Slytherin House would approve of that." Seamus and Dean both snorted loudly, and most of the rest of the class snickered. Lupin would allow the non-standard classroom behavior to go just so far, however, and his voice took on a commanding edge. "Take out your quills." The students rushed to obey.

"We are going to discuss the properties of Loyalty Oaths. Loyalty Oaths are generally not considered to be as relevant to the study of Defense Against the Dark Arts as are the spells you need to avoid a Dark creature or the ability to avoid or fight a curse or a hex. They only work in rare circumstances, they are difficult to test, they are difficult to perform, they can lead to unpleasant confrontations between the performers, and they can be inconsistent even under the best circumstances.

"Loyalty Oaths are generally divided into three categories. Can anyone tell me one of them?"

The class was silent. Even Hermione did not know the answer.

"Can anyone tell me why Harry is alive? What we understand of why Harry is alive, at any rate?" Lupin asked in a perfectly normal tone of voice, as if it was not unusual to have the object of discussion and subject of many Dark Arts textbooks sitting before him. In truth, after all, it wasn't unusual for him to teach a class which included Harry Potter; and at breakfast he had sought Harry out and asked for permission to discuss him by name.

Hesitantly, reluctantly, the hands of the class members rose in the air. "Dean?" asked Lupin, picking a student at random.

"His mother wouldn't get out of the way and let You-Know-Who kill him?" Dean mumbled.

"That's correct." Harry saw Lupin send a quick glance in his direction to see if he was handling the discussion well. Harry tried to smile in response; he knew that Lupin did not want to talk about Lily Potter's death any more than he himself did. "That is the most famous, most recent, and most powerful example of a Blood Oath. A Blood Oath is a Loyalty Oath that can only be cast on a direct relative of the person doing the casting. Direct descendants, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and first cousins for certain. Sometimes they will work on second cousins or great aunts, a connection of that nature, but not always. The blood is the important thing, not the feelings of the wizards or witches for each other. An adoring mother cannot save the life of her adopted child with a Blood Oath. A brother who has sworn vengeance against his sister can save her life with a Blood Oath.

"Blood Oaths are different from other Loyalty Oaths because they do not involve an actual spell. There is no incantation and no need for a wand, a potion, an amulet, or anything of the sort. The only requirement is a close biological relationship. In its most dramatic form, the Ultimate Oath, a Blood Oath is simply the willingness to die for another human being. This only occurs when the witch or wizard is present while the Oath's object is in immediate danger. A variation on the Ultimate Oath does occur without blood relationships because of the sacrifice and emotions involved, and they are difficult to tell apart. That variation falls into the second category of Loyalty Oaths.

"In its middle form, it can be a genuine desire to bring someone who is dying back to life. This version of a Blood Oath is also dramatic, and is sometimes called a Suicide Oath even though it is far less likely to result in the witch or wizard's death than the Ultimate Oath. In a Suicide Oath, the witch or wizard will actually cut himself or herself and allow his or her blood to spill onto the exposed skin of the dying family member. The Suicide Oath is rather Medieval-- all Blood Oaths are very old magic-- and is not known to work consistently, even by the standards of Blood Oaths.

"In its mildest form, a Blood Oath offers strength to family members who are residing in close proximity to one another. It is an almost entirely unconscious process that springs from magical auras connecting, but it also works between witches or wizards and Muggles who are part of the same family. If you have Muggle parents, they cast as much of a Simple Blood Oath on you as wizard parents would be able to do. A Simple Blood Oath is most useful when it comes to casting protective spells, particularly disorientation spells, and wards around a residence."

Lupin stopped speaking at last and watched as his students hastened to write down all he had said. "Can anyone guess the next kind of Loyalty Oath?" he asked when his voice and their hands had had a rest.

Ron, to everyone's slight surprise, raised his hand slowly. "Is the Fidelius Charm a Loyalty Oath?" he asked when Lupin nodded.

"Yes. Very good, Ron. Ten points to Gryffindor. The Fidelius Charm involves what is called a Specific Oath. A Fidelius Charm is charm which is used to conceal a secret inside a living soul. It is most often used when someone needs to go into hiding for one reason or another. If the Secret-Keeper refuses to speak, no one can find the person or persons in hiding, not if they're looking straight at them. The Fidelius Charm, then, is cast for one specific purpose and is a Specific Oath. There are about two dozen Specific Oaths, most of them charms, some of them medical treatments. The vaccine that those of you who grew up in wizarding families had for Nathan's Disease is a Specific Oath. As I said before, the Ultimate Oath Variation is a Specific Oath. Anyone have any idea about the third class of Loyalty Oaths?"

Now Hermione, to no one's surprise, volunteered. "Are they called General Oaths?"

Remus smiled. "You have the right idea. Five to Gryffindor. They're called Timeless Oaths. Timeless Oaths are the ones that can have very interesting social ramifications. They're almost always sworn between husbands and wives, but occasionally between platonic friends. They seldom work between siblings and virtually never between parents and children because there is a strong, deeply-ingrained element of choice involved in this sort of oath. You may choose to be friends with your brothers and sisters, but you did not pick them out of a crowd or decide to become acquainted with them. They are all difficult and they all require both involved parties to be qualified witches or wizards, and fairly powerful ones at that.

"A Timeless Oath is, as the name suggests, timeless. Permanent. If you swear a Timeless Oath with someone, you are bound to him or her forever." Parvati and Lavender began to giggle under their breath. "Timeless Oaths are very romantic that way. That is why they can cause a great deal of trouble. How would you feel if you married someone and promised to spend the rest of your life with him or her, but he or she could not complete a Timeless Oath? Would you feel betrayed? How would you feel if you had two or three best friends, and they could swear the Oaths to each other but not to you?"

The members of the class had now stopped writing to stare at Lupin, but he simply picked up his lecture once more. "Timeless Oaths do not usually have a specific purpose because it is often hard to tell how they will affect the wizards or witches casting them. All Timeless Oaths involve an incantation that must be spoken by each wizard or witch in turn. Generally, the wand is placed over the heart of the wizard or witch not speaking the incantation, but sometimes it is placed on the forehead. When the incantations have both been spoken, the wands are brought together, and if the Oath was successful, they will react. Usually they will just become warm to the touch, but sometimes they will shoot sparks or glow.

"I'm going to name the six Timeless Oaths for you now, but you don't need to write them down. I'm giving you a pamphlet that lists them. That is your homework assignment for the day after tomorrow when Professor Ryan returns. You are to choose any two timeless oaths and compare and contrast them for her. I don't care how long the essay is. We just want you to make it as thorough as possible without using outside sources.

"The most common Timeless Oath is Perfidus Numquam. It is only used by married couples, and is a promise to remain faithful to the marriage.

"The platonic counterpart of Perfidus Numquam is Amicitia Aeternitas. It signifies eternal friendship.

"Tutelae Promissum is the promise of protection.

"Magnes is one with a more specific purpose. It allows the wizards or witches to find one another no matter where they are. It is believed that the Dark Lord adapted Magnes to summon his Death Eaters when he wishes to see them.

"Certus is the other specific Timeless Oath. It's actually a dueling spell that can be used when groups are fighting each other.

"The rarest and most difficult is Letum Simul. It is a promise that one will not die without the other. If those who have cast it are apart from each other when one dies, the image of the dead will appear to the living just before he or she collapses. If they are together when one develops a fatal physical problem, their auras will blend and both lives will be lost or both saved.

"I'm sorry I had to lecture you for so long. The material will not be as dry when you return to Professor Ryan, I assure you. You may go."

The class rose to leave, calling to Lupin that his lecture had not been at all dry and that he was in no way comparable to Professor Binns.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione were especially reluctant to leave the class. They had no desire to return to the Common Room with its windows overlooking the rain into which they were forbidden by word and spell to venture.

"Want to go to an empty classroom instead?" suggested Ron desperately.

"We aren't supposed to--" Hermione began, but Ron cut her off.

"We aren't supposed to leave the castle. We won't. You aren't on patrol duty until this evening, and Harry's not on at all today. There's no reason we shouldn't have a change."

Hermione sighed and acquiesced. It was hard to deny Ron something when he had just been released from the hospital wing after a Death Eater attack and when his brother had just been sent into hiding.

Their deserted classroom of choice was not on the same side of the castle as Gryffindor Tower and offered a slightly different view. Not having brought along a chess set or cards, they began work on their Defense Against the Dark Arts assignment much sooner than could have been expected under ordinary circumstances.

Ron finished his essay first, and sat staring at his completed parchment until Harry, and finally the overly-thorough Hermione, were done with the assignment as well.

"Ron?"

"Hermione?"

"What's so interesting?"

Ron gestured at the information Lupin had handed them during class. Hermione raised her eyebrows and she attempted to keep her mouth from dropping open in shock. "It had to happen sooner or later," said Ron.

"What's so interesting about it?" queried Hermione warily.

"Do you think we could do these? The three of us?"

"Not Perfidus Numquam," put in Harry with a smirk just before Hermione began to speak frantically.

"Ron, how can you even think about that? Didn't you hear what Professor Lupin said in class today? He even said it specifically-- How would you feel if you had two or three best friends, and they could swear the Oaths to each other but not to you? It's too dangerous! I know that you two are-- boys--"

"Thank you," interrupted Harry and Ron in chorus.

"and boys never want to think about these things, but we need to be friends. All of us. So many times, if it hadn't been all of us, all of us against everyone else-- we would have been dead!"

Harry raised his hands in an attempt to stop Hermione's speech before she worked herself into tears. He hated it when Hermione burst into tears for no good reason (he suspected that he would hate it if she cried for a good reason as well, but thus far when he had seen her in situations which would have justified crying she had not). "We know, Hermione," he said. "We were there."

She drew a deep breath. "I know. I'm sorry. But those spells can still be really dangerous. How well did you do your assignment? Did you do it like me or did you do it like Ron?" Ron and Hermione exchanged playfully dirty looks.

"They're only dangerous if you actually cast them and then actually use them. Trying can't hurt."

"It can hurt your feelings."

"If we try it and it doesn't work, we can blame it on us not being powerful enough yet, or on not saying the incantation right, or on not being old enough. You can't cast Amicitia Aeternitas until you're in your late twenties at least. Not usually even then." Hermione looked impressed. "Hey, I do my homework!"

Hermione mumbled something which sounded suspiciously like "Divination."

Harry and Ron looked at each other and grinned. "Thanks Hermione," said Ron. Then he rolled his eyes backwards into his head and, in his best imitation of Professor Trelawny, added "I see myself dying in a duel because the friend I cast Certus with broke his word and destroyed us both." He sighed melodramatically.

"It's not something to joke about," grumbled Hermione as she tried to hide her smile.

"Let's just try Magnes," suggested Harry while Hermione was still in a good mood. "The incantation is easy, and it's also easy to justify it if it doesn't work. It's not that insulting if you don't want someone to find you anytime, anywhere."

"No, let's go all the way. Let's try Letum Simul! Wouldn't it be impressive if we could do it?"

"Wouldn't it be DANGEROUS?" argued Hermione, angered once more.

"It would," Harry admitted. "I would never cast Letum Simul with anyone. Especially not you." Ron flushed and looked insulted, and Harry hastened on before Ron had the opportunity to leave the room and stop speaking to Harry. "Ron, Voldemort--" Ron winced at the name "is trying to kill me. He almost succeeds on a regular basis. I'm not taking you with me, Ron. I'm not taking Hermione or anyone else, either. I thought about just not being friends with you so you wouldn't be targets, but neither one of you liked that idea. You have to meet me partway on this."

Ron forcefully adjusted his facial expression and drew a breath. "All right. Magnes, then."

"Ron!" exclaimed Hermione. "You can't just--" she broke off, disgusted. "Fine, I guess you can."

"You don't want to try it?" asked Harry, eager to do anything that would change the topic of conversation from his probable impending death.

"No," she said firmly.

"Right, then. Reditu tuo delector?"

"The wand has to be on my forehead for this one," added Ron. "And you emphasize every other syllable."

"If you put half as much time into your actual work--" Hermione began, but she stopped herself when it became evident that both Harry and Ron were concentrating very hard on the spell.

"Reditu tuo delector," said Harry solemnly, the tip of his wand resting on Ron's forehead.

"Reditu tuo delector," Ron repeated when they had switched positions. Then, with such earnestness as might ordinarily have been comical, they raised their eyes to one another and brought their wands together, and when willow touched holly, both boys' faces lit up with astonishment.

"It didn't-- you didn't-- not on your first try," stammered Hermione.

"It did. We did. On our first try," answered Ron with wonder. "This isn't so hard," he added with a cocky grin.

"Professor Lupin said the wizards have to be qualified."

"You're also supposed to be qualified to become an Animagus," Harry pointed out, thinking of what his father had done during his fifth year at Hogwarts. "Want to try now, Hermione? It can't hurt anything."

"I don't think you even understand what you just did," she declared uneasily. "You'll be able to find each other for the rest of your lives."

"You're right," said Ron. "Tonight, before I go to sleep, I'll cast the spell, and I'll be able to figure out that Harry is" he twirled his wand dramatically "in the bed right next to mine!"

"And maybe tomorrow, when we're in Transfiguration--" Harry began before he and Ron both dissolved into laughter.

"Maybe we should agree only to use it in emergencies," said Ron after a few moments of laughing.

Harry agreed readily. "Still don't want to try, Hermione?"

"Scared?" tutted Ron. "Not very Gryffindor-like. Not very prefectorial, either. What will all the little first years think when they find out that the big strong prefect who's supposed to be protecting them is afraid of Magnes?"

"They don't know what Magnes is," said Hermione grouchily. "I didn't before today."

"Is that why you're in a bad mood?" wondered Ron.

"No. It was very interesting."

"Then why--"

"I'm NOT in a bad mood. Here, if it'll make you happy-- Harry, look at me."

Harry had no intention of not doing as Hermione asked. She pulled her wand and placed it against his scar. "Reditu tuo delector," she said with what sounded to Harry like better pronunciation than either he or Ron had used.

"Reditu tuo delector," Harry reciprocated, and he and Hermione brought their wands together. To Harry's surprise, he felt none of the warmth he had felt just moments earlier when his wand had touched Ron's. He shook his head. "It felt the same up until now."

"Did you say it wrong?" asked Ron.

"One of us must have," agreed Harry. "You two try it." Ron and Hermione tried and failed.

"Like I said, it was a bad idea," said Hermione, looking at her wand, her books, and everything but Ron and Harry.

"It's all right, we can try aga--" Harry began, but Hermione cut him off.

"Don't make any more excuses. It's-- oh-- look!"

Harry and Ron looked. Sliding casually into the classroom was a long, brown-colored snake. It raised its head from the ground and looked directly at Harry.

"Do you know me?" asked Harry, not needing to look at Ron and Hermione to figure out that he was no longer speaking English.

Yes, I know you.

"What do you know about me?"

You can speak to me.

"Were you sent here to find me?"

No.

"Were you sent here?"

Yes. By the Other.

"What did he tell you to do?"

Nothing.

"HARRY! CAN YOU EVEN HEAR US?" Harry's body jerked as he became aware that Ron had grabbed him by the shoulders and was shaking him.

"Ron, don't be daft, of course I can hear you."

"ENGLISH! SAY SOMETHING IN ENGLISH!"

Although slightly annoyed, Harry gathered his concentration. "Can you understand me now?"

"Yes." Ron sounded relieved, and he held onto Harry's shoulders for a beat longer than was strictly necessary.

"You've seen me talk to snakes before."

"Yeah, but . . . ." Ron seemed to be searching for an appropriate word.

"It was almost like you went into a trance this time," Hermione said for him.

"A trance?"

"A trance. Like you didn't know we were even here. What did you say?"

"I was just asking what it was doing here."

"What's a snake like you doing in a classroom like this?"

"Something like that."

"Did it tell you anything?"

"That Volde-- You-Know-Who sent it, but not for a special reason."

Hermione resolutely began to gather her belongings. "We have to tell Dumbledore. And we have to get rid of the snake." She cast a stunning spell that would last until someone came in to collect the frozen animal.

Then she, Ron, and Harry sought out the too well-known path to Dumbledore's office.