Author's Notes: And we conclude our little tale. . . Thanks for reading, and you guys that reviewed or fave'd this story are the ones that make this all worthwhile!
Element the Fourth: Air
"You won't catch us now!"
"Says you, mate! You are going down!"
Harry and Ginny turned their new "bumper pod" craft to head after Ron and Hermione, who had just sped by in another of the odd floating capsules that resembled oversized tree seed pods. It was controlled by holding a wand over a small pedestal in the center of the craft and simply pointing in the direction desired. As in their Muggle counterparts, speed was obtained slowly, and momentum was key to getting a good hit on your competitor's craft. That, and being able to guess correctly which direction your opponent would travel. Ron had the strategic mind for chess, but could not match Harry's intuition in the air. While the girls scouted the enemy and possible routes through the lower limbs of the giant "trees" that now graced the former Chamber of Secrets, the boys focused on dodging them to maintain acceleration.
Ginny spotted the other craft nearing the corner of the room and knew they would have to emerge from the cover of the trees or ...
"Hold your course, Potter, they're going to try to dodge us on the return. Knowing Ron, he'll feint to the inside then cut down and out toward the open."
Harry smiled at her when he saw that she had guessed right. Ron and Hermione were coming straight at them. He could see the horror in Hermione's eyes with the realization that they had yet to get enough speed to avoid a direct hit, feint or no feint. She let out a squealing "Hold on!" just before the magic envelopes surrounding the two craft collided. Harry and Ginny had won the war of momentum and were given a large but tolerable bump to one side. Hermione's squeals were joined by Ron's as their craft tumbled over and bounced off a tree trunk nearby that had recently been a stone pillar. Laughing could be heard as the craft slowed and righted itself.
"These things are brilliant!"
Harry knew that Ginny and Hermione had worked very hard to get the craft to work properly and his compliment was rewarded by a kiss from his girlfriend.
"If you think that's something, watch this."
Ginny held her wand over the pedestal and slowly directed the craft higher into the lifelike tree branches until they were completely surrounded by green foliage. She tapped the control in a special sequence and the craft locked into place while the transparent upper part of the pod darkened until there was only a slight glow penetrating the craft. She leaned back onto the padded seat facing Harry. "This is what Hermione and I call Boyfriend Mode. Like it?"
"Yeah, this sure beats a broom closet."
Harry dutifully went into what he thought proper "Boyfriend Mode" should entail, wrapping his arms around her and initiating a wonderfully private snog session, a luxury that often eluded them.
After a while, they relaxed to allow their breathing to return to normal, and they reclined with Ginny laying her head against Harry's chest. The leather-upholstered pods were definitely superior to broom closets.
"So how did your meeting with McGonagall go this morning?" Ginny asked.
"You mean before or after the ferret's floo call?"
"Malfoy called during your meeting? I take it he doesn't like doing his time under house arrest."
"Actually, he was very polite. Thanked me several times. Seems to think that I single-handedly kept him and his mum out of Azkaban."
"You did, Harry. No one else had any credible testimony on their behalf."
"Yeah, well, he read Rita Skeeter's piece on me re-opening the Chamber of Secrets to 'become the next dark wizard' and was curious to know the real story."
"You know she was just getting you back for getting Quick Quote Quills designated as controlled magical objects."
"And I thought it was for putting those anti-concealment portals around the Ministry. Can't believe no one thought of them before. How can people run a government if half of them are under the Imperius Curse, using Polyjuice Potion, hiding a Dark Mark or even another being? We have enough problems with the honest bigots, much less the ones under someone else's influence."
"So Malfoy is considered one of the 'honest bigots' now?" Ginny chuckled.
"Yeah, but he seems to have grown up a little. Once he heard what we're doing with the Chamber, he suggested we name it after Professor Burbage."
"The retired Muggle Studies teacher? They found her?"
"Erm, no, she didn't retire voluntarily. Draco was witness to her murder by Voldemort after she had written about rights for Muggle-borns. Quite an awakening for him it sounded like."
"How horrible!" Ginny replied. "I don't know what to think about a Malfoy acting almost human. But you still haven't said what McGonagall thought about your project."
Harry grinned. "She loved the idea and set up a meeting with Olivia to help me polish it. That witch is brilliant - even gave me these." He showed her the lined parchments that showed dimensioned plans for his design. "Tomorrow Caractacus will help me get it started."
"These drawings are beautiful, Harry. Do you suppose she went to a wizarding architecture school?"
"I asked her about that. She told me there wasn't enough demand for a separate school. After Hogwarts, she went to a highly respected Muggle school in Paris since the basics of design aren't rooted in magic. They have one wizard professor that held what they called 'independent study' classes for the magic bits."
"Paris! That sounds exciting." She stared admiringly at the drawings for a few minutes.
"Did you talk about anything else with McGonagall?" she asked, fishing for something in particular.
Harry knew what she was after and tilted his head to see Ginny's face. "She convinced Flitwick that enough charms were involved in the project that he could count it as a NEWT practical, so I won't have to take his class this year."
"Take his... you mean... Harry!" Ginny squealed, then turned and smothered him. "When did you decide this?"
Harry laughed while trying to recover from being tackled. "Well, it was really McGonagall's doing this morning. She convinced me that I hadn't been able to appreciate much of my youth with all I've had to deal with, and that was one thing I would never be able to truly re-create once it's gone. She basically said it was okay to live my life."
Harry took a long breath.
"You know, I never really expected to make it this far. I can actually think about a real future."
Ginny leaned closer to him. "And what kind of future do you see?"
"One with you in it," Harry said, his eyes searching hers. "Gin, you know how much I hated pushing you away last year and I couldn't bear to go through another year without you. McGonagall pretty much laid it on the line and told me that if I wasn't a student, I was not free to come and go at Hogwarts if I didn't have official business."
"And a visit to one's girlfriend isn't considered official business?"
"Apparently not, and I couldn't even use the 'Savior of the Wizarding World' card to get her to budge."
"Smart woman, she is. You know, if you hadn't decided soon to return to school, I was going to have to resort to serious measures. Something like this..." She sat on his lap, wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him an extremely thorough snog that left him almost stunned.
"Erm... wow... that would probably have worked." He chuckled and held her close. "Did I tell you today how much I love you?"
Ginny could feel warm tingling all over. "Oh, Harry, I love you too. And it always thrills me to hear you say it." She grinned, "I waited a long time, but I knew you would some day."
"Since you thought of me as your prince on the white pony?" Harry teased, the lullaby fresh on his mind.
"Silly, that was just a childhood fantasy. Yes, I adored the thought of being your princess, but that image was blown away when I met you at King's Cross. You looked so small and lost and needing to be loved. That's when my real crush on you started. Then I heard those stories from Ron and the twins – you were the real hero I always dreamed about. I was a hopeless case after that."
"I'm sorry, Ginny, but I had no clue."
"Well, of course you didn't. You were a boy after all." Ginny laughed as Harry snorted. "But then you showed up with a real sword and risked your life for mine. My petty desires and foolishness had almost killed you down there fighting Tom and his beast. I realized I had a lot of growing up to do if I was ever going to be worthy of you."
This revelation caught Harry off guard. "Worthy... of me?"
Ginny sighed. "Harry, you never seem to realize just how special you are. Maybe it's part of that gift your mum left you when she gave her life protecting you. People are always looking for heroes; a champion they can stake their hopes on. They saw you as a blessed infant, but you grew up and become the real deal. Your modesty is part of what makes you special. And that messy hair of yours, and that sloppy grin, and your appreciation of simple pleasures, and your occasional moodiness and temper fits..."
"You know I never wanted that hero moniker," Harry interrupted, but then looked back at her beseechingly. "How do you see me now?"
"Simple. I see you as all that, and none of that. You are who you are. I see you as Harry. My Harry. And I love you more every day."
"That doesn't sound simple, but I like it, being your Harry. How did I ever get so lucky to be loved by you? I never thought I would know what being in love was like, and now I've got one of the most incredible, beautiful and understanding witches ever, here in my arms. My Ginny."
They embraced, clinging to each other. Ginny couldn't help the smile that stretched across her face. This year was looking better all the time.
"So you're really going to finish school. What will you tell Kingsley?"
"Already worked that out. I had hinted earlier that he should have one class of NEWT Defense Against the Dark Arts set up as pre-Auror training to get some new blood in the ranks quicker. The new DADA teacher is in fact a former Auror who had to quit due to injury in the first war against Voldemort, then went into the private security business. Very knowledgeable, I hear. Due to his injury, he'll need help with the dueling training, so..." Harry left his statement hanging.
"Harry! Are you going to teach? For real this time? How wonderful! You really have been busy today."
"Yeah, well, I felt like I had been set up, the way it all just seemed to fall into place so nicely. Not that I'm arguing, mind you."
Ginny laughed. "Knowing them, I wouldn't be surprised. What about the Ministry consultant position?"
"Kingsley still wants me to come to conference two or three times a week. We both knew that it wasn't a permanent thing – I'm not happy at a desk all day. He really needs Aurors, and I still think that's what I'd like to do. With my experience, he said I may need only a year of training after school."
"One year instead of three – that's incredible!"
"You know what's incredible? We still have an hour before dinner."
And they didn't waste it with much more conversation.
o o o
Caractacus Rubble was true to his word and met Harry by the lake early the next morning. He showed him how to magically retain the water while banishing the mud and loose material at the bottom. From there it was a simple matter of cutting and placing stones according to the dimensions Olivia had written on the design parchments. Holding it all together was a special product the engineer had developed himself.
"Wiz-Krete works pretty much like Muggle cement, but magic makes it so much better. It's stronger, will set instantly with the incantation, and it doesn't shrink because the water is removed magically." The wizard knew his stuff.
Harry made great progress over the next few days, but was dismayed when he suddenly realized that the stone removed from the Chamber was not going to be enough to finish his project. His dilemma was solved in a most unexpected way that same afternoon.
Harry was headed back to the lake after lunch and walked through the Entrance Hall. Caractacus was fuming in an argument with an elderly bearded wizard holding official-looking documents in his hand.
"What do you mean it can't be occupied? It's perfectly safe, been there for nearly as long as the castle itself!"
"Terribly sorry, but the1893 Wizengamot decree strictly forbids underage witches and wizards to congregate in any enclosed area without at least one non-magical route of egress."
"I've been in building nearly thirty years. How come I never heard of it before?"
The elderly wizard, one Archibold Pratermouse, was Chief Field Safety Inspector, Magical Structures Division, Ministry Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. He looked down at his notes. "Well, you see, it's... erm... never actually been invoked before. Never had the need, you know..."
"And just what piece of brilliant inspiration came over the court to create this decree?"
"Ah, that I remember well; I was just starting off then, you know? Well, there was this really bad business at Durmstrang where some students managed to create a magical loop that blocked their portal out of a remote classroom. Since it was feeding itself, no one could break through the loop from either side, and it took months to counteract the magic so they could... erm ... remove the bodies. Very bad business, lots of publicity, you know. Naturally, parents didn't want something like that happening at Hogwarts, you see..."
"Yes... naturally," the engineer murmured, shaken by the horrible image. He noticed Harry standing nearby, obviously confused at the possible implications of the conversation he had just overheard.
He rose to action. "Well, Potter, don't just stand there! Come along! We've got to cut an exit stair down to the Chamber!"
o o o
"OK, our target is ready below. All you have to do is say the incantation and point."
Harry and Caractacus had requisitioned a small unused classroom in the dungeons for the upper end of the staircase to the former Chamber of Secrets. The tetralite target was positioned far below them at the end of the side tunnel they had created for the magic portals normally used to access the Chamber. Harry pointed the Elder Wand down as the engineer indicated and spoke the words. A bright yellow arc materialized from the wand's tip to the floor, where a small red triangle could be seen.
"Crikey! I was afraid of that. Too steep for a straight cut. We may have to call in the goblins after all."
Harry noticed the angle of the yellow line seemed to be affected by any movement of his wand. "Didn't you say that this line is a precise representation of the hole we're going to cut?"
Caractacus nodded. "You got an idea?"
"If I'm locked onto the target, why can't I just rotate my wand to see if the angle changes?" As the words came out, Harry started to do just that, producing a wide spiral that increased in diameter as he turned his wand. At one point, the yellow line flashed green.
"Aye, that's got it!" Caractacus cheered. "Just enough curve to flatten it a bit."
Harry wasn't quite sure this was the best they could do. He removed his holly wand and instinctively began to pull at the line so that it made tighter spirals, making sure to keep it green. "If we keep the curves tighter, we could put a slide down the middle that would be a whole lot of fun."
The engineer grinned. "And they said you were gettin' all grown up and serious on us. Glad you still got some kid in you, Potter."
But Harry was thinking more about all the extra stone that would come out of this stairwell; he would have more than enough to finish his special project.
o o o
For Harry Potter, it seemed that his summer had been filled with speeches, and now he was sitting beside the lake at the beautifully restored Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with the entire student body, hundreds of guests including Ministry officials, parents, former students, and the media, all here to witness the re-dedication of the castle that was the school's home. It was taking place the afternoon after the welcoming feast specifically so that the students would be there. Not that they minded delaying the start of classes a day. In fact, Headmistress McGonagall had given them strict orders to explore the new additions this morning, and the reactions were overwhelmingly positive.
The Charity Burbage Gardens of Hogwarts, the official name of the remarkably transformed Chamber of Secrets, had something for everyone. The slide down from the castle dungeon was a good thrill, and the Portal Crossing outside the entrance now sported a Muggle style eatery (featuring such Muggle favorites as fizzy sodas and pizza) in the old approach tunnel, which was now sealed from the old entrance below Moaning Myrtle's restroom. In addition to the grass fields, the Gardens itself had pavilions along each side aisle that featured all manner of Muggle recreation, from sport games to computer stations. Above the pavilions floated a jogging track, and above that were the tree sports. Rope courses could be found in areas not open to the infamous bumper pods, which had lines of students waiting to have a turn at crashing one another.
Although a notice of the availability of new swimming facilities had been mentioned in the school letters sent home over the summer, the students were unprepared for the amazing possibilities provided – a huge pool of Muggle Olympic specifications, diving, water slides, surfing, water sport areas, and a beach for sunbathing in the warm magical sunlight. Gladrags of Hogsmeade was allowed to set up a small display for catalog sales and was keeping a number of owls very busy with deliveries of new swimming attire. The aquatics area by itself was enough to make the Chamber reclamation project worthwhile.
The dedication speeches were winding down, and Harry brought his attention to Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt and his concluding remarks. "...to rededicate our efforts in the task of magical education of our children, in the spirit of cooperation started over one thousand years ago by the four founders whose names still grace the four houses of this remarkable school. May our efforts remain for another millennium as I, in my capacity of Minister for Magic, declare the doors to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to be open once again."
A great round of applause greeted his remarks, and Headmistress Minerva McGonagall stepped up as the Minister returned to his seat. She thanked him properly, then continued, "We owe a great debt to many who have made great contributions to this school and to the magical community at large over the years. While he will almost certainly deny it, there can be no one who fits that description at this present time more than the individual who has created this beautiful edifice behind me. Indeed, it is quite unusual for a student to provide any kind of permanent addition to our school, certainly not with the kind of personal creativity evident here. However, you will no doubt agree that this opportunity is most deserved, and he has made the most of it. I know he would like to share his thoughts with you. Without further ado, Harry Potter."
Harry had always hated the notoriety that went along with being the Boy Who Lived, but graciously accepted accolades he felt he truly earned, such as winning a hotly contested Quidditch match with a spectacular grab of the Snitch. He couldn't help but feel some of that accomplishment as he stood to greet the gathered crowd that, while listening to the speakers, had been gazing curiously out beyond the shore of the lake. It was there that Harry had created a large rectangular stone dais, a smooth platform that arose out of the water in three large steps. A round water-filled basin was sunk into the center, occupying most of the platform. At each corner sat a wide shallow cauldron with dancing orange flames. The most visually arresting element was the tremendous colonnade along the far edge of the dais, behind the basin. Standing sentinel in the manner of an ancient temple ruin, six simply but elegantly fashioned columns thrust out of the horizontal base and reached skyward, crowned with a highly decorated arching panel atop a horizontal beam. This panel spanned the entire colonnade and had dozens of vertical indentations, and cut into the indentations were all manner of runes. Overall standing more than 30 meters high, this impressive structure was now the most dominant visual feature along the lake, aside from the castle itself.
Harry shifted his weight a couple of times waiting for the applause to die down. Finally raising his hands, he intoned, "If you don't let me talk, we'll be here all afternoon." He tried to relax as the crowd laughed and gradually settled.
"That you for those kind words, Professor. Yes, we do owe a tremendous debt to many – there is no doubt about that. We are where we are today because we have stood on the backs on those who have lifted us up. The war that we just fought – and the Battle of Hogwarts in particular – was not won by any single individual, but with a combined effort of defenders of the light that included trained fighters alongside students, magical creatures of all kinds alongside wizards and witches. That cooperative spirit was something I wanted to capture for others to realize that we can work together in harmony when we need to.
"Many of you may remember the old Fountain of Magical Brethren that stood in the Ministry atrium before to its destruction in Voldemort's duel with Dumbledore over two years ago. Although not as insidious as the atrocity that stood there last year, it still spoke volumes about the attitudes of the wizarding community toward other magical races. Dumbledore himself told me that it was a lie, that we were reaping the rewards of our mistreatment of others. We seem to have this delusion that we can't be happy unless we have power – the power to control everything around us. After all, that was at the heart of this war: who was allowed to have power and who was not. We, as a united magical community, decided that power was not to be concentrated in one egomaniacal dark lord, nor an artificially select group of people based solely on their lineage. No, we fought for freedom and the rights of individuals. But if we learn one thing from the Battle of Hogwarts, it is that the magical races can and need to work together for the common good. We should look beyond our childish shortsighted notions of human superiority and realize we aren't the best at everything. Just as in a musical symphony, all the players must do their parts to create the whole, no matter how insignificant it may seem; otherwise it is incomplete. In fact, this notion of music as a cooperative and unifying force was unmistakable at a musical event over the summer. You would never guess that the Weird Sisters band was behind the idea to do this." He thumbed over his shoulder at the colonnaded dais as chuckles ran through the crowd, along with some whistling among the students.
Harry looked around to make sure everyone he needed was in place. "Before I explain that, there is some work yet to be completed here. As in the old fountain sculpture, I wanted to include figures that represented different magical races. I have asked several individuals to assist with this, since it is much easier for me to magically copy a form that already exists than to carve it from scratch. Over here at the side, I would like to introduce my 'models' if you will. In the center, you will of course recognize Grawp, without whose ferocious defense the castle would probably have been destroyed by the giants fighting for Voldemort." Harry paused for the crowd's appreciative applause.
"To his left, representing centaurs, Firenze has been a teacher here at Hogwarts, but I remember meeting him in the Forbidden Forest during my first year when he saved me from Voldemort's presence." There were murmurs among the applause. "Again to the left, Griphook was the goblin who helped me on my first visit to Gringotts. Goblins were officially neutral during the war, but it must be noted – and I can't divulge any details you understand – that without his assistance prior to the Battle of Hogwarts, it would have been all for naught." This surprise created a momentary delay in the applause, which was more intense when it did come.
"On the other end is Winky, a house elf here at Hogwarts who fought bravely in the battle, but is also a victim of the society that we have created. She and her family before her served in a wizard's household with unquestioning loyalty and devotion, yet her master shamed her with dismissal to avoid getting caught in his own criminal treachery, and this was one of our Ministry's most respected officials. Our exploitation of house elves is a prime example of how we have abused our position in the magical world." Fiercely glaring at the crowd, some of whom would have great issue with his view, Harry dared them to speak up. No one did as polite scattered applause was heard.
"On her left you will recognize our new Head Boy, Ron Weasley, who has been my best mate since our first trip on the Hogwarts Express, and whose family took me in and became the family I never had."
A voice rang out that could only belong to George Weasley. "And it looks like he'll be joining the family for real in the near future!"
Harry blushed for the first time that day as laughter and wolf whistles sounded. He caught Ginny's eye and noticed that behind her similar blush was a tremendous grin. Harry smiled back, but ran his hand through his tousled hair as he let the noise die down. "Thanks, George, I suppose I deserved that." Okay, he thought, deep breaths.
"Now I didn't bring Ron up here to be a model; he just isn't good-looking enough."
More laughter followed someone's yell, "You shoulda used Ginny!"
"Yeah, you're right about that. However, I had something else in mind. First years, you are no doubt wondering why you were requested to sit on the front row. Here's why. I want all of you to bring out your wand and hold it in the palm of your hand. I want to borrow them for a few moments, and then they will be returned to you unharmed. Don't worry; the headmistress has given her okay."
The youngest students at Hogwarts nervously complied. Some of them, mostly Muggleborns, had yet to really use their new wands other than to make sure that it worked for them.
Harry held out his own wand and muttered a few words. The students' wands all rose and formed a large circle suspended in midair. Slowly revolving, the circle floated to where Ron stood. Harry muttered a few more words and the wands began flashing in different colors. After a moment, four individual wands floated to the center of the circle, where Ron gently plucked them out of the air.
Harry turned back to the first years, but spoke to the crowd at large. "What I have just done is selected four of you to represent our composite of the wizard model. You are our future, our hope for the best that wizarding society can be, innocent and unscarred by the violence that occurred here just a few months ago. To ensure a cross-representation from you, I made sure that this selection process included two boys and two girls, one member of each house, and regretfully since it still matters to some, a cross section of magical heritage. There is one pure-blood, one Muggle-born, one of mixed heritage, and one more selected at random without prejudice. The model will be a mixture of these four, and they will not be known to me or to you. Just know that your class is represented up there." Many heads nodded in admiration at Harry's logic, understanding the significance and universal appeal of this grouping.
"Alright, now, there is one more model that isn't up here. If you look down in the lake beside the dais, a representative from the merpeople will also take part. They are included because they gave permission for this structure to be placed within their realm, and also because of their unique contribution to the project, which I'll explain in a minute." As everyone shifted to get a view of the hand that waved from the water, Harry spoke to his models. "At my signal, I want everyone to lay their hands on the stone in front of them, except Ron, who will use only the four wands, and say the words, 'We all have a part to play.' Everyone ready?"
At their acknowledgement, Harry waved his wand, muttering more incantations, and the giant slabs of dark marble that he had specially brought for this purpose began to glow a soft blue. "Alright, now!"
The group intoned the words Harry had given, and the stones began to disappear as if being dissolved rapidly in an acidic potion. Gasps of astonishment came with the realization that the stone was re-forming in the colonnade, one model in each column except that the giant figure was growing between the two center columns, an arm about each one. They were stationed at different heights above the dais; only the giant stood on the platform itself. The others were each situated on a small pedestal that projected from the column's fluted surface. Harry had instructed each figure to match the others at the level of the heart, so that no one would appear to dominate over another, and it provided a good visual balance. A dark reclining figure in the basin was evidence that the model of the merperson had appeared there as well.
Cheering and applause rang out at the apparently completed construction, while the first years' wands were levitated back to their proper owners.
Harry, however, was not finished. "Now comes our first demonstration, for this is not a static piece of sculpture. It was suggested that our memorial garden needed some life, and I hope this will be a fitting contribution for that purpose. At the risk of sounding like a professor..." more laughs at his pun, since everyone knew he was the new Assistant Professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts, "I wanted to use the metaphor of musical harmony to reinforce the concept of racial harmony. The words 'We all have a part to play' are not some vague idea, but a mantra that we can use going forward as we relearn how to relate with one another." Harry waved his arm toward the top of the colonnade, and the phrase chiseled itself into the large horizontal beam, a challenge forever to all who would pay heed.
"Here at Hogwarts we are sorted into four houses, not because we should be pitted against each other, but because we all have special strengths and aspirations that serve as common ground as we grow, allowing closer fellowship with those who share similar interests. This is important as we take those first few steps away from home, to keep a sense of close family nearby. But as we mature, we need to realize that we need those special strengths of others to continue growing. Just as in nature, where the four basic elements have similar symbiotic relationships. Fire does not exist without air; these stones were initially deposited as particles in water. This structure you see is a demonstration of the four elements working together, again a metaphor to represent the four houses. You can see the water in the basin, the burning flames, and the stones cut from the earth, but invisible air is only apparent by its actions. This action will manifest itself here as music, as this entire structure is in reality simply a giant musical wind instrument."
A number of "oohs" were heard as the crowd rustled in anticipation of what they were about to witness.
"I have dubbed it 'Elementum Consensio' or 'Elements in Harmony' to reflect the cooperative nature of musical performance. I need to mention that this would not have been possible without a whole lot of assistance."
Harry then thanked the engineer and architect team that had guided him through the physical creation, his friend Hermione Granger and Professor Flitwick for "invaluable assistance with research on charms, rune magic and many other aspects" and then surprisingly Myron Wagtail of the Weird Sisters, who was well rounded in other musical genres as well as rock and roll, and who collaborated with the merpeople to create the program that they were about to hear.
"I decided that if the Weird Sisters and the merpeople can work together on something like this, there are no limits to what we can accomplish," added Harry. Cheers and laughter were prevalent in the ovation for the popular musician when he stood.
Finally, it was time.
"Shall we wind it up then?"
There was a resounding "Yes!" and more cheering.
"Well, let's pray it works!"
The crowd loved Harry's self-deprecating manner, but the truth was that the effects had only been tested individually, and Harry wasn't entirely sure everything would work together as designed. He had to set up a demonstration for the merpeople to show what he was planning and they agreed that, although unusual, the sound was "not unpleasant." Harry noticed that even now the merpeople were gathered nearby just under the surface of the lake, curious to hear what this land walker had made.
He need not have worried.
Harry faced the dais in the lake, pointed his wand at the center of the basin and bellowed, "Elementum Consensio!"
A jet of red light hit the water with a sizzling splash. As the merperson figure started to swim counterclockwise, the water followed in an ever-escalating whirl. The four cauldrons erupted in towering bursts of flame in the shape of dragons, which simultaneously blew streams of fire toward the center of the dais over the swirling water, creating a ball of flame that remained after the dragons dissipated. As the ball of flame grew, it pulled a churning vortex of water out of the basin. As they met in a colossal burst of steam, the colonnade was suddenly transfigured into vertical shafts of light that slowly moved forward toward the rim of the basin, pulled by the building core of magical energy of water and flame. The ball of flame rose higher, pushed by the ever-growing waterspout from the basin. As the columns formed an arc in the rear of the basin, the giant panel above bent with the arc, at the same time leaning forward as if to catch the rising flames, until it had created a perfect half dome with the ball of flame at its center. It had finally come to rest.
Transfixed, the crowd watched as the stone figures silently came to life and appeared to look around curiously from their positions now immediately behind the columns, as if wandering into a new environment. The animated stone giant looked appraisingly at what now were dozens of individual light beams that seemed to shine from the suspended dome into the whirling water of the basin. He reached out a hand, interrupting one of the beams.
The effect was immediate and astonishing. An interruption of the light, a disturbance in the basin, and a small variation in the vortex of water reached the ball of flame, which spat a terrific blast of steam at a certain spot on the dome, through a rune shaped hole that emitted a wonderfully loud rumble of low resonating tone that echoed off the hills surrounding the lake. The stone figures all turned to the appreciative cheers of the audience. Encouraged, each figure took a turn at piercing one of the shafts of light before them, all with similar results, but in different tonality and pitch. It began a slow experimentation of what interrupting different shafts would do, which note and what timbre, until there was such a cacophony of sound that no one's playing could be heard above the others. Harry knew that this was a traditional Mermish composition representing chaos without order. It continued for a bit longer until the merperson figure inside the vortex started beating a simple repetitive rhythm that was eventually picked up by the others. The rhythm soon developed a simple melody, that grew in complexity with harmony, then counter melody, until all were working together in a sort of musical canon to fashion the various parts of the composition, all different, but all required for the piece to work.
It was an unusual sound that Harry's wind organ created, sometimes breathy as a flute, sometimes full as brass, sometimes thin and edgy on the stone rune openings, sometimes rich and mellow, but always magnificent. Harry had borrowed on research from the best Muggle organ builders and used Myron's talents and Hermione's intellect to make a truly fabulous instrument, surprising himself as much as anyone. The effect was complemented by the visual calisthenics performed by the animated figures, which rhythmically danced as they used their hands and sometimes feet in the shafts of light, almost as if plucking the strings of a tremendous harp. The entire scene was bathed in sunlight flickering through the billowing clouds of escaping steam, which also radiated the glow from the multi-hued fireball that remained the visual focus of energy in the grand performance.
The eerie aura of the Mermish music was evident, but Myron's orchestration gave it a sonic depth impossible to achieve with voice alone. Harry sat and listened to the wonderful music with his arm around Ginny, feeling inspired for a future that would be better than he could possibly imagine.
Eventually the music's tempo slowed and built into an uplifting majestic coda – the triumph over chaos – and a climax of sound enveloped the audience and entranced them with the kind of magic that only powerful music can bring. It gradually slowed even more and calmed toward an intimate and blissfully peaceful conclusion, leaving the listeners in various states of awe, contentment, emotional ecstasy, but none without knowing they had received a special blessing that reached to their very soul.
A moment of silence followed the ending of the organ's first ever performance, then thunderous applause as the stone figurines took a bow. Waterspouts rose above the listeners in the water; the merpeople were as impressed as the land walkers.
Ginny had to lean close to Harry's ear to make herself heard. "That was so wonderful, Harry! That last bit with the phoenix song was special; when did you add that?"
Harry had heard it too. "I didn't. It wasn't part of the part of the program – I don't think it came from the organ."
He looked up to the dome and beyond, and Harry knew deep down that he had received a very special compliment from one who had heard the music from very far away.
And he was happy.