Warning, some strong language.
This chapter was getting to be too long, so it's ending at and earlier point in the story than I intended. It's currently on its third name and I'm not sure how well it fits.
For those of you who have only recently started reading this story, a while back it underwent a large scale edit and in the process all the original Authors Notes that I put up got taken down. I thought this was a good idea because quite frankly they look untidy but I have since been receiving questions that were originally answered in those ANs so I'll answer this again:
I decided long ago who Emma would be paired with, as well as when and how. I'm just not going to tell you. You are free to speculate all you want but I will tell you that her future partner is not going to be Draco Malfoy or any of the people we can friends which by the way include Blaise Zabini Theodore Nott. I have no idea why people think Zabini is a nice character, he's a bigot and a womaniser, even if he's not a Death Eater. You are of course free to speculate as much as you like, but I have made up my mind so don't expect to change it. The other pairings in the summary are definitely going to happen (when I want them to) and I have no intention of changing them.
Please Review. Also answer my Poll on the Guild name.
A New Year
Both Harry and Emma had a genuine hope that there anonymously sent Christmas presents were safe to use. Although Harry still failed to see what his sister's attraction to the thirty phials filled with expensive chemicals.
"We need to plan a party." Said Harry. "For when everyone comes back."
"A return party?" said Demelza. "Ok, when."
"After everyone comes back but before classes start." Said Emma. "That way we don't have to worry about cutting into Hermione's homework schedule."
"That only leaves the Sunday." Said Harry looking at a calendar. The three of them were in the otherwise empty Gryffindor Common Room making plans for when the rest of the group came back.
"You know we should really come up with a name." said Demelza. "For our group."
"We're Harry's Defence Group." Said Emma. "Isn't that good enough?"
"Don't you want it to become something… more though?" said Demelza.
"When it becomes something more, we'll name it something more." Said Harry. "Right now it's just a bunch of us exchanging spell-fire."
"If you say so, oh divine leader." Said Demelza.
"Divine am I?" said Harry.
"Very." Joked Emma. "Seriously though we would all be struggling in Defence without you, granted now that Lupin is around we're not way behind like everyone else is, but…"
"We should come up with a name. I mean, the Marauders did." Said Demelza.
"Marauders?" said Harry "Oh right the people who made that map. Well we need to have something about our group before we can give ourselves a name. We can't just be the Duelling Club, because we do so much more than duelling. I don't know what but…"
"Well let's see." Said Emma. "Other than mindless duelling we've: brewed Polyjuice Potion, fought a battle against giant spiders… wait does that count as duelling?"
"No." said Demelza. "Just fighting. We've also killed a Basilisk, the ghost thing that was controlling it and we conspire to throw awesome swimming parties.
"So we fight a lot, brew using chemicals we shouldn't and interact with dangerous yet rare creatures. It's settled, we're the Hogwarts Mafia." Said Harry.
"Harry." Said Emma despondently. "Come on, you're our leader. You're supposed to be more enthusiastic."
"Well until our group becomes something more than a group of friends occupying a room or two, I don't think we can come up with a name." said Harry.
"We need a cause." Said Demelza. "What about anti-blood-bigotry, we're good with that?"
"We need to actually dedicate ourselves to the cause first, we need aims and desires, even just rough ones." Said Harry.
"The Marauders never had aims or desires." Said Emma.
"Purveyors of Magical Mischief?" quoted Harry.
"Apart from that." Said Emma.
"Maybe we could become a swimming club?" said Demelza.
"Let's wait and see." Said Harry. "Besides which none of the others are here to have their say."
"I think it's a great idea, coming up with a name." said Ron. "But never mind that now, why on Earth would you turn in a Firebolt?"
"Because it could kill him?" said Emma.
"No way, it's a Firebolt." Said Ron.
"That may have been sent by Sirius Black." Said Geoffrey.
"And Jinxed." Said Natalie. "And never mind the stupid broom, what about the perfume. Was it really a Kerléo Deluxe Collection?"
"Oh not this again." Harry grumbled.
The group of people Harry had befriended during his time at Hogwarts and may or may not get round to uniting under a name, had congregated in the Practice Room after the welcome back feast.
"Oh not what again?" said Ron.
"Harry's never heard of the Kerléo Deluxe Collection or Sorcière Divinè." Said Demelza scathingly.
"Yeah well he's a guy, we don't care about those things." Said Ron.
"You've heard of it?" said Harry incredulously.
"Oh yeah, Mum and Ginny sometimes talk about girl things, it's hard not to ignore everything they say."
"Thanks for trying." Said Ginny glaring at her brother.
"What about you guys?" said Emma, looking at the other boys.
"I've heard of Sorcière Divinè." Said Neville. "I even met one of their lead botanist's once, who my Gran went to school with, but I've never heard of the collection."
"I have." Said Geoffrey. "Dad buys Mum one of their perfumes every year for their anniversary. She's owned about half of them at different points in their marriage.
"I've never heard of them." Said Colin.
"Well you're Muggleborn, so we'll forgive you." Said Emma.
"We will?" said Demelza.
"Hey I'm Muggle raised." Said Harry.
"Yeah well…" said Emma trailing off in an effort to find some reasoning. "Colin's cute. Look at that face."
Much to the embarrassment of the young Creevey, Emma had scooted next to him and then clasped her hands over his face in an effort to present it to everyone.
"How can you be mad at this face?" said Emma.
Most of those assembled sniggered.
"By the way how are you two getting on?" Emma asked, looking at Geoffrey and Vicky, who were both sitting next to each other.
Their sniggers turned to gasped and their red faces betrayed their embarrassment.
"What do you mean?" said Hermione. She looked Geoffrey and Vicky over. They were sitting close to each other, very close, in fact she only now noticed their hands were entwined. "Wait are you two?"
"Yup they're together." Said Natalie.
"Oooh!" said Hermione and Ginny in perfect sync.
"How did you figure it out?" said Natalie.
"Harry and I walked in on them kissing just before the holidays started." Said Emma.
"Actually we kicked them out, this was when we had our massive row with Professor McGonagall." Said Harry.
"That was a little rude." Said Luna.
"Uh… yeah it was." Said Emma. "Sorry Vicky, sorry Geoffrey. We didn't mean to interrupt you."
There was some good natured ribbing that took place in the Practice Room. However, as is the custom, when the five Gryffindor girls were alone in their Dormitory, boys became the topic of the evening, and there was to be no reprieve.
"Give me a break, we just started going out." Said Vicky.
"Oh come on, it's a simple question." Said Ginny. "Do you see yourself and Geoffrey getting married one day?"
"I don't know." Moaned Vicky as the other four girls looked in on her with eagerness. "Do we have to do this?"
"Of course." Said Natalie. "You're the first of us to get a boyfriend."
"Well… Geoffrey is really nice. And funny to. At Christmas he took me to Appleby, originally to see the Arrows play the Montrose Magpies but… well I don't like Quidditch that much, so… he pulled me out to the Muggle area and we saw a group of men walking down the street and… well you remember that itching powder he used in Diagon Alley…"
"That was your date." Said Ginny. "Sounds a little lame."
"It was incredibly funny." Protested Vicky. "Admittedly you probably had to be there… What would you want your first date to be like?"
"I'd probably have just gone to the Quidditch." Said Ginny."
"Same." Said Demelza. "Although Hockey would suit me fine too."
"I'd probably go for a nice costal walk in the sunset." Said Natalie dreamily. "A nice big hunk with his arm around my shoulder, and a beautiful image of the sun dropping against the ocean's horizon."
The girls all sighed at that.
"Mine sounds crap in comparison now." Moaned Emma.
"What was yours going to be?" asked Ginny.
"Cinema followed by dinner." Emma blurted out.
"We so need to come up with better ideas." Said Vicky.
"No we don't." said Natalie, "The boys need to come up with better ideas. We need to make our expectations clear."
"Just one question." Said Ginny "Who are the rest of us going to end up with?"
"I think Luna will end up with Neville." Said Emma. "They've spent a lot of time together away from us."
"They've been with Ruth Clearwater as well." Said Vicky. "You know that girl in Ravenclaw who's not a jerk to Luna?"
"Actually I don't think so." Said Ginny. "I talked to Ruth, and she said that she had only been to a few study sessions with Luna and Neville."
"But Neville and Luna have been getting together tons of times." Said Demelza.
"Do you think they're already together?" said Ginny.
"No, but give them time." Said Emma.
"So who do you all fancy?" asked Vicky.
"You know who I fancy." Grumbled Ginny.
"We all fancy Harry, well except Emma of course." Said Natalie.
"You all do?" said Emma. "I knew Demelza and Ginny did but."
"Hello, we didn't just send those cards to him last Valentine's Day for a laugh." Said Vicky. "I may be with Geoff now but…"
"Geoff?" said Ginny teasingly.
"So who asides from Emma's brother do you all fancy?" said Vicky forcefully.
"I don't know about fancy, but I think Lee Jordon is cute." Said Demelza.
"What the boy who hangs about with my twin brothers?" said Ginny.
"Yeah, he's not as cute as Harry but…" Demelza trailed off.
"Well I quite like that boy who got petrified last year." Said Natalie.
"Who, Colin?" said Emma.
"No the other one, the Hufflepuff in Harry's year, he can get shy really easily around girls." Said Natalie.
"Oh him… who is he?" said Emma. "I can't believe I've forgotten…"
"Justin." Said Ginny, frowning at the reminder of her involvement. "His name is Justin Finch-Fletchley."
"So you like shy?" said Emma in an effort to divert Ginny away from last year.
"Yeah kind of." Said Natalie.
"I think I would like shy as well." Said Demelza. "Someone who's sweet and doesn't talk a lot. But I would prefer someone quite a bit taller than Justin."
"Justin's taller than us?" said Natalie.
"Not tall enough." Said Demelza. "I've got my mind set on a big strong lad."
"Who?" said Ginny.
"Good question." Said Demelza. "Someone who doesn't talk a lot and has the physical strength to carry me up the Grand Staircase."
"I'm getting quite an image in my head thank you Dem…" said Emma.
"What have I told you about calling me that?" said Demelza irritably.
"I can't honestly remember." Said Emma.
"By the way, you haven't said anything on this yet." Said Vicky. "Who do you fancy Emma?"
"Don't know." Said Emma. "It's fun teasing Fred and he is cute, but I don't think I want to get under the mistletoe with him at this very moment."
"I don't blame you, he'd probably rig it to drench you in pumpkin juice… or slime." Said Ginny.
"But you do admit he's cute?" said Demelza.
"Yeah. But I'd prefer someone nice to talk to." Said Emma. "To be honest Percy would be better…"
"You cannot possibly fancy Percy." Said Ginny aghast.
"Why not?" Said Emma.
"He's a pompous, arrogant…" Ginny trailed off.
"Not to me he isn't." said Emma. "Remember it's thanks to him my Kneazle has a name."
As if to support his mistress's statement, Mopsus jumped on her lap and gave a high pitched "Mew!"
"No I guess not." Said Ginny. "In fact, to be honest, since you and Harry came in the car a year and a half ago, Percy has still been Percy but he's been less of a git."
"He is kind, and he's always willing to help me." Said Emma. "Though to be honest I think I'd rather date Fred."
"So you would date Fred?" said Natalie.
"If I had to, Percy would still be preferable to George, but Fred would be my first choice."
"I still don't understand your position of Ginny's twin brothers." Said Natalie.
"No one does." Said Demelza.
"Harry does." Said Emma.
"Harry's wonderful." Said Vicky. "I'm happy with Geoffrey and there is no way I'd dump him for anyone, even you brother. But Harry is just so…"
"Clueless." Said Emma.
"Yeah but he's a nice kind of clueless, and he's more sensitive and caring than most boys." Said Demelza.
"Also the way he watches out for you is really cute." Said Natalie.
"It is?" said Emma.
"Yeah." Said Natalie. "If Ron was just a little more considerate of Ginny's feelings I'd probably fancy him."
"Ron?" said Ginny. "Who in their right mind would fancy him?"
"Ginny, this is probably hard for you to comprehend." Said Demelza. "But your brothers have their appeals. Ron does have his admirers. Of course none of these girls are the sort I would choose to hang out with but…"
"He has a good heart." Said Emma. "Harry has speculated before that Hermione might like to…"
"I would have thought Harry and Hermione would get together actually." Said Vicky.
"No way." Said Emma. "Harry thinks of Ron and Hermione as his siblings."
"He does?" said Demelza.
"Yeah." Said Emma. "Of course he doesn't realise it yet and he still likes me best but…"
"You know, when Harry does eventually get a girlfriend, she's going to have to earn your seal of approval." Said Natalie. "If she doesn't, Harry will be forced to choose between you and her and we all know who he'd choose."
Emma blushed and looked to the floor. "I've no plans to try and deter any person Harry may be interested in."
"Harry will probably need approval over any boy you date too." Said Ginny.
"Hmm." Said Emma. "Well just so you know Ginny, you have my favour."
"What about the rest of us?" said Demelza.
"You're all good to. But you do realise that it's not me you need to butter up?" said Emma. "What about the other boys in our group, any of them take your fancy?"
"Well I like Geoffrey and for the time being you're all forbidden from liking him." Said Vicky.
"What about Ron?" said Ginny.
"If he was a little less…" Demelza trailed off. "Or a little more…"
"Nice." Said Ginny.
Demelza didn't say anything. "He is tall though, and he looks strong enough to carry me."
"He carried me last year." Said Ginny. "When I fainted in the Practice Room, remember?"
"Neville is very sweet." Said Natalie. "But, asides from the fact he'll soon be taken, I don't think we'd be that compatible."
"I think he would make anyone happy enough given the chance." Said Emma "But I still think you're right, he also seems more suited to Luna than me anyway."
"Neville is sweet?" said Demelza thoughtfully. "Very sweet and he's just had a growth spurt so maybe… Damn you Luna…"
"You know I don't think we've ever actually stopped to think about the boys before." Said Ginny. "Neville would make a good second to Harry."
"Well maybe." Said Natalie, "But I still think there are better ones out there."
"What about Colin?" said Vicky.
Emma, Demelza and Ginny all clamed up suddenly.
"Come on what about Colin?" said Natalie.
"Uh…" said Emma. "Colin… do we have to talk about him?"
"Why not?" said Vicky.
"Colin's our friend." Said Ginny. "Our best friend."
"With the exception of Harry, I'm not really as close to any boy as I am Colin… my… our feelings for him are a bit complicated."
"We promise not to say anything." Said Natalie.
"Well…" said Emma looking at Demelza and Ginny.
"Ok let's make a pact that nothing said here can be repeated to anyone." Said Demelza. "Agreed?"
"Agreed." Said Vicky and Natalie.
Emma and Ginny looked thoughtful.
"Ok." said Ginny.
"Alright." Said Emma.
"So Colin?" said Vicky.
"Colin's very sweet and bright and cheerful." Said Demelza. "But I don't think he and I could… anyway I'm going to be living with his family soon, so I think we should just be friends."
"Yeah." Said Ginny. "I agree: sweet, bright and cheerful, but I don't think I could fancy someone smaller than me."
"Harry's only just taller than you though." Said Natalie.
"He's still taller." Said Ginny. "Also Harry is a much deeper person he's…"
"We're talking about Colin, not Harry." Said Vicky.
"What about you Emma?" said Natalie.
"I don't know." Said Emma. "Colin and I are quite close now. Very close, I don't know whether you noticed but… whenever we have to work in pairs he seems very eager to work with me. Course it could just be his nature but…"
"Do you think Colin fancies you?" said Demelza.
"I don't know." Said Emma. "Trouble is Colin by his general nature is just so friendly, if it weren't for us I think he'd generally be annoying to most people but I think having us makes him more focused."
"That makes absolutely no sense." Said Vicky.
"Well during the opening feast, he had me take his picture on the Sorting Hat which I think irritated McGonagall. Then there was that time when we tried to get from here to the Great Hall." Said Emma.
"Oh don't remind me." Said Natalie cringing in memory. "His enthusiasm was just so… irritating. Thank god for your brother and his friends managing to get us out of there, I might have just killed him."
"But he did calm down after a while." Said Emma. "Remember?"
"He did." Agreed Natalie. "So do you fancy him?"
"Maybe." Said Emma. "But I think I still would rather go out with Fred right now."
"So let's sum up." Said Vicky. "Ginny still want's Harry, probably more than anyone else does, Emma wants Ginny's brother Fred, Demelza wants someone big, strong and silent and Natalie want to date the Hufflepuff whom she doesn't even know the name of."
"Hey he speaks nice and he seems polite." Said Natalie.
"Maybe." Said Demelza "But I think I would still prefer Harry."
"Well you can't have him he's mine." Said Ginny.
"Tell that to Harry." Said Emma.
Ginny's face turned red as everyone snickered at her "Hey remember the pact, nothing outside this group."
"Does Harry actually know we fancy him?" said Demelza.
"I don't think he likes to think about it." Said Emma. "I think on some level he knows that all of you fancy him, along with most the rest over our year, the year above and the year below and some others."
"Do you think Luna fancies Harry?" said Vicky.
"I think there could have been potential." Said Emma. "They are very fond of each other and he took to her a lot faster than any of the rest of us, but in all honesty I don't see it ever happening. I think on a personal level, Luna likes Neville more than any other guy at the moment."
Harry and Emma were both up early preparing for the swimming party that was to take place later that afternoon. Unlike Hermione's birthday, they weren't planning on a huge dinner but they did bake a couple simple carrot cakes and they had the basic party foods such as chipolatas, chips, chicken wings, garlic bread and so on. As they wouldn't be eating until later it was more important to make sure these things were available and that they had the oven space. They also put both the cake tins in to make the sponge.
They left it in the oven to bake for an hour and a half while they went down to join everyone else for Breakfast. As it turned out they arrived in the nick of time.
"Oh God." Said Demelza, as they sat down. There was an owl heading straight for her.
Unlike Hedwig, Hogwarts owls do not wait around for long periods of time and the owl Demelza sent to her brothers came back empty handed. This was not so unexpected, if they were previously unaware of what her father had done, then they may have tried to confront him first. But if they did, then any other reply would have to be sent through the Muggle Post Office to Hogwarts and that, added with the Christmas mail, meant that a reply would take a considerable amount of time to get through the system.
A Magical Post Office Owl landed in front of Demelza and held out an envelope.
Demelza's hands shook as she took the letter from its leg.
"I… I don't know if I want to read this." Said Demelza. "What if they're angry?"
"I highly doubt that." Said Emma. "They've been very supportive so far."
"But…" said Demelza.
"Finish eating, then take it either up to the Dormitory or the Practice Room." Said Emma.
Demelza and Emma privately commandeered the Girl's Dormitory, Harry having told Emma that he would take care of the cakes for the party. The envelope contained three letters, one from each of her siblings. Demelza read each one then passed them to Emma.
I am really, really sorry for what Father has done to you. I never expected him to go this far, but I never expected him to pull that stunt with your letter last summer either. I don't think I can face him or mother, who by the way both knew and supported his decision, right now and I'm not sure I will be able to. I'm spending Christmas in my flat in Exeter and I think I'm going to be spending far less time at home in the foreseeable future.
Max is really mad to on your behalf, since he can't leave home yet, he's going to continue the cause on both of our behalves. Eilidh is a bit confused though. She doesn't quite understand the concept of disowning but she really misses you and she's really worried. I've talked to her about telling our parents about her magic but I'm worried they'll try something regretful.
I would personally like to wait, I spoke to Mrs Creevey over the phone and thanked her for taking you in. But I can't ask her to do the same for Eilidh. I've received an offer for an engineering based job at the navy base in Plymouth. I won't go into details but I should start earning more money soon, if needs be I can take Eilidh in, but not right now. For the moment there is very little I can do for either of you, which is why I don't want to give my parents the opportunity to try and brainwash Eilidh, after everything they've tried to do with you I don't think I can trust them anymore. Can we wait until the summer, I should have moved into a larger flat by then and can take Eilidh with me if necessary.
I really hope that doesn't happen but we're running out of options. When I do get a job, you'll probably still have to stay with your friend in Yorkshire, but I will start sending more money to Mrs Creevey as soon as possible to help out.
Our parents are wrong, don't ever think twice about that. Keep studying, keep your friends close and never forget Max, Eilidh and I still love you.
Our parents are complete and utter bastards. Zack's told me a bit about the school they want to send you and Eilidh to (they've all but admitted she's going or so they think). No matter what you can't go, it is really dodgy. You know Mrs Taplin, apparently she went there with Mum. You do not want to turn out like her, have you seen how she dresses to? Not to mention she's a right snobby old bitch.
Anyway, Eilidh doesn't understand what's happening here, I've tried explaining a dozen times but she still doesn't understand what disowning is. But she does understand that this is bad and that it's Mum and Dad's stupid fault. She also understands that the Welsh school is not somewhere either of you would want to go.
I'm gonna keep on fighting the fight, don't worry I'm not going to hit anyone. I'm just going to keep on arguing in your favour. But I think I would be insane to tell Mum and Dad about Eilidh's magic. They went to idiotic lengths to try and control your access to Hogwarts, remember you had to get a cab to London, all the way from Cornwall?
It's a little hard for me to say this but I don't want to hardly ever see my sister again, I want to stay in touch and I want to see you occasionally over the holidays.
I hope you're otherwise doing alright
"Hmm." Said Emma.
"Zack is the more mature of my brothers." Said Demelza. "Max has always been a little… he means well but he likes to curse a lot."
"According to Madam Pomfrey, we'll all get like that." Said Emma. "Aren't you going to read that?"
Demelza was holding her sisters letter with trembling hands. "I don't know if I want to?" She held it out "Could you read it to me?"
I really, really miss you and I wish Mum and Dad had just given up on this strange school. They've recently tried talking to me about what it will be like if I go. They think I'll go but we know better. Max has been angering Mum and Dad a lot lately, mostly on your behalf. When he last caught them talking to me about the school he began shouting and swearing at them and got grounded. He didn't care though, he snuck out and went to the cinema with his girlfriend.
Oh yeah, they probably didn't tell you anything but Zack and Max both have girlfriends. Max's is called Mary. She's a year younger than him and is pretty cool. Zack's is called Rachel, I haven't met her yet but I think she spent Christmas with him. He seems happy enough.
I really want to go to Hogwarts Demelza but I don't know if I want to upset Mum and Dad too much. If I tell them that I'm going to Hogwarts then they'll get upset, but I don't know if we should wait. Please come and see me soon.
Lots and lots of Hugs and Kisses
"Oh Eilidh." Said Demelza. "She doesn't understand that I'm not going to be able to see her so easily… wait GIRLFRIENDS?" she suddenly shouted causing Emma to jump.
Demelza suddenly looked through Max and Zack's letters. "I don't believe it, neither one of them thought to mention they'd gotten a bloody girlfriend. I am so gonna…"
"Demelza calm down, they're worried about you."
"Yes and they still didn't tell me this… oh I'm so going to give them a piece of my mind."
In a number of ways it was refreshing to see Demelza so lively. The only other instances when she was this excitable were when they were in a life and death situation, and Emma did not have a Basilisk to hand.
"Maybe you should calm down and just enjoy the party." Said Emma diplomatically.
"Yes, you're right I'm sorry." Said Demelza. "Then I'll write them letters giving them a piece of my mind."
"Hey you guys got new suits." Said Natalie as she finished strapping on her one-piece.
"Oh yeah. Colin's Mum gave us these for Christmas." Said Emma.
"No fair I want a suit like that." Said Vicky.
"Maybe I can get us some at the next Hogsmeade visit." said Hermione. "I think I'm going to need a new suit, this one is getting a bit tight."
"So we noticed." Mumbled Demelza so only Emma could hear her.
"I wonder how the boys will react when they see those." Said Ginny.
"The probably won't." said Demelza. "Harry didn't anyway."
"Yeah well Harry's special." Said Hermione.
"He is?" said Emma.
"Of course he is." Said Luna. "He's your brother."
"That's not why he's special." Said Vicky.
"Oh? Then why?" asked Luna.
No one answered Luna's question. Strangely enough though, Ron, Neville, Geoffrey and Colin all took second glances at Emma and Demelza.
Emma was once again pondering whether Colin fancied her or not.
"Oh you're wearing the suits Mum got you." Said Colin cheerfully.
"Y… you've seen these before?" asked Demelza.
"Yeah Mum asked me to help choose them and the clothes she sent you." Said Colin.
"You chose that skirt?" said Demelza inquisitively. "I had no idea you had such insight into what I wore."
"Just the colours." Said Colin. "Mum chose most of the stuff I was just brought along for my opinions. Sorry was it not what you wanted?"
"No, no it's fine, everything's fine." said Demelza. She had been hoping to embarrass Colin but it just wasn't happening.
"Come on Emma, we've got to try the ring slide." Colin grabbed Emma's hand and led her up the stairs to the top of a slide where there were several inflatable rings.
Meanwhile Geoffrey ran up and took Vicky by the hand and pulled her into the wave pool.
"Are you guys going to keep standing around staring at each other or are you coming in?" Harry shouted before jumping into the river rapids. Any of the many potentially awkward situations that could have occurred when teenaged and 12-year-old boys and girls go swimming without adult supervision never materialized.
There were still frequent glances interest thrown by the boys, but they were no longer confined to Emma and Demelza and were likely more to do with the fact that the girls were in swimsuits than Emma and Demelza being in new swimsuits that showed their belly buttons.
Nevertheless, Vicky appeared to have Geoffrey's complete attention, much to the amusement of the others as they watch them semi-nervously interacted with each other.
"They seem awfully shy." Said Hermione.
"It would be best if we just left them." Said Luna. "They'll probably get over their initial reluctance eventually, this is still a new experience for them."
As with Hermione's birthday, when it was feeding time, everyone dried off and wore warm towels over their bodies, as they expected to re-enter the pools later.
"By the way; Emma, Demelza and I realised we don't know when everyone's birthdays are." Said Harry. "So could you all put yours down on the sheet of parchment over there? We know Demelza and Ron have one around the same time so we'll have a double party."
"When?" said Hermione.
"It'll depend on commitments, but probably after the next Quidditch Match and certainly after next Hogsmeade visit." Said Harry. "Also if Valentine's Day is on Sunday, we're definitely doing it on that day."
"Are you trying to send a message to Demelza?" joked Natalie.
"No he's trying to send a message to anyone trying to send him a valentine that he's not in." said Emma. "And I checked big brother, February 14th is a Monday, and there is no way Snape will let us out of Potions."
"Or us." Said Ron.
"Don't worry Harry I'm sure that there won't be any singing Valentines this year." Said Demelza.
"Oh I wouldn't be so sure." Said Natalie. "There may not be any dwarves, but in the magical world you can send enchanted cards."
"Oh god." Groaned Harry.
"At least some of them will be able to sing… at least… you can't rule out dancing as well." Continued Natalie.
"OH GOD!" Harry groaned again but this time louder, causing everyone to laugh at him.
"Mate maybe you should just get a girlfriend." Said Ron. "Temporarily until Valentine's Day passes."
"How? I know next to nothing about asking someone out." Said Harry. "Also I don't currently like anyone that much."
"Then maybe you should take this opportunity to look for potential candidates." Said Luna. "I'm sure that out of all the people who sent you a Valentine last year, they can't all have been undesirable."
"Maybe but I'm sure many of them made themselves undesirable." Said Ron. "Especially the people who also sent those dwarves."
"Who knows." Said Harry. "Maybe now that everyone knows I'm a marked man, they'll be too scared to commit."
"Oh I wouldn't be so sure." Said Hermione. "Some girls like a man with a little danger added in."
"Maybe you should get a girlfriend." Said Emma. "That might dissuade people."
"Maybe not though." Said Natalie. "The idea of competition might drive people to want Harry even more."
"How about I just spend Valentine's day playing with the Acromantulae in the forest?" said Harry.
"Don't even think about it Harry Potter." Warned Emma.
"Maybe we should stop this conversation." Said Neville.
"I agree." Said Harry.
"Aw but it was just getting fun." Said Natalie.
"Anyway, we want to know your Birthdays." Said Harry. "So please put them down."
"Hey Luna, this says your Birthday was last week?" said Harry. "Why didn't you say?"
The group had finished eating and were spending an hour playing gobstones whilst their stomachs settled before returning to the water.
"I didn't think it was necessary." Said Luna.
"Well it is." Said Emma. "We need to have a Birthday party for you as well."
"We could wait until Demelza's and mine." Said Ron. "Have a triple party, that way Hermione doesn't need to miss out on Homework."
"Would that be fine Luna?" asked Emma.
"You do not need to…"
"Luna, we've already established that we love parties, so you're getting one. Even if it's shared with Ron and Demelza." said Harry.
"Thank you Harry, and everyone else to." Said Luna happily.
They spent as much time in the water as they could before curfew approached.
"Where have you all been?" said Percy as the Eleven Gryffindors entered.
"We were just having a party." Said Harry.
"You seem to have a lot of them." Said Fred.
"I wonder if we should feel jealous?" said George.
The next day classes restarted and the stress and worry, which Hermione was happily without during the Christmas Holidays, quickly re-emerged. In Arithmancy, they finally started doing basic coursework on the Elemental Magic.
It was a concept everyone had trouble wrapping their heads around, even Harry who had done a significant amount of background research. Professor Vector produced various mathematical formulae that were necessary to construct and Elemental Clef and harness the power of the magic. In simple terms it was lots and lots of maths with the promise of performing magic much, much later on.
"Each Element needs to have its numerical data worked out before one can harness that Element into magic. As the name suggests, the numerical variables are different for each spell, rune or potion they are applied to. But we are not going to worry about those variables just yet. Right now I want you to learn how to mathematically, or if you prefer arithmatically, determine the Element of Fire. In classes to come we will work on the other Elements. I want you to work with your partner for this." Said Professor Vector.
At the beginning of the school year, Professor Vector had personally seated everybody into groups of two and everyone was expected to sit in those pairs in every class. Harry was paired with Susan Bones.
"No that's wrong." Said Harry looking over the grid where Susan had placed a number. "You didn't take into accounts the variables in boxes 19 and 20. You need to differentiate the answers in those boxes then combine them with what you've got and then divide by the answer in box 14 squared."
Susan looked at him incredulously. "How on Earth do you know this stuff?"
"Mr Potter has done a lot of background research into the Elements." Said Professor Vector, looking over the table that Harry and Susan were working on. "By the way you forgot to square the number in box 7."
"Oh no." groaned Susan. "That screws up nearly half the work we've done so far."
"I got it." Said Harry calmly. "Just do the Differentiation I showed you."
Harry began scoring out about half a dozen numbers and then began writing down calculations furiously on a separate piece of Parchment.
"Don't be too concerned Miss Bones, you are doing very well for your first attempt." Said Professor Vector.
"What about Harry?" asked Susan.
"This isn't my first attempt." Said Harry.
"You've completed this before?" said Susan.
"Not correctly." Admitted Harry. "I did get the Element of Ice correct though."
Professor Vector smiled down on the young boy, before moving on to check on the others.
"Mr Smith, are you absolutely sure that is a Prime Number?"
Hermione had done reasonably well for her first attempt at Arithmatically or Mathematically determining an Element. But that was by Harry's and Professor Vector's definition.
"How could I screw it up so badly?" Hermione moaned.
"You didn't screw it up that badly." Said Harry. "There are some significant mistakes here but they're all Ernie's. You did fine."
"Ernie's?" said Hermione with a look of betrayal. "How could he do that to me?"
"As indicated by the term, they're mistakes." Said Neville. "Hannah and I made tons."
"Neither of you seemed to have done too badly." Said Harry. Looking over Neville's.
"How can you tell?" asked Ron. "Are you that good at maths that you can tell just by looking?"
"Oh course not." Said Harry. He moved the opened Numerology and Grammatica showing a table that with identical information to one Harry and Susan completed.
"What the, we could have just copied from there?" said Neville.
"It's not that simple." Said Harry. "In order to use this Element in conjunction with a spell or whatever, you need to know how to mathematically construct it. There are a lot of calculations that require messing about with data in the formula to make an Elemental Clef work with magic."
"So I can't just copy the other five Elements?" said Neville.
"You could." Said Hermione. "But if you don't know how to make them, then you're never going to be able to sync Elements into magic and if I can't do that, I'm going to fail my O.W.L and then I'll get kicked out of Hogwarts and…"
"Hermione." Said Ron. "O. are a long way off still, two and a half years. There is still plenty of time."
"Enough Hermione." Said Harry. "Here, do your Potions essay. That'll cheer you up."
Those within earshot snorted at Harry's suggestion. Nevertheless, after completing an essay on the methods of gutting a newt, Hermione definitely seemed much more cheerful.
A few days later she was feeling much more confident about her Arithmancy work. Harry had nothing personally against Ernie MacMillan but Hermione definitely seemed to work better without him. Unfortunately during classes Professor Vector refused to allow her to work on her own, arguing that it was important to develop group skills and Harry was working amicably enough with Susan Bones that he refused to ask Professor Vector to swap partners when Hermione asked him to. She was not impressed.
While Hermione grumbled over Harry's loyalty to Susan Bones, and some of the rest of his friends and sister speculated the nature of that loyalty, the boy himself made his way to Professor Lupin's office.
It was now an exciting time for Harry, Sirius Black issues aside: he was beginning to finally understand the basic mechanics of Elemental Magic and Arithmancy as a whole and now, even more excitedly, Professor Lupin was about to being coaching him in magical curse diagnostics with the promise of Patronus tuition just around the corner.
"Ah Harry good to see you." Said Lupin happily as Harry came in. "Professor Flitwick will be joining us shortly. But I thought it might be a good idea for us to cover the basics of a Diagnostic Charm first. Later on we will be conducting other more detailed and complicated tests on your Firebolt and I will coach you on those as well, but that is for another time."
"Ok." Said Harry.
"Now firstly do you know about aggressive and passive variants of spells?" said Lupin.
"Yes." Said Harry. "All Jinxes, Hexes and Curses have at least either a passive mode or an aggressive mode, but there are at least a good number that have both. A passive mode is when the Jinx, Hex or Curse is placed on an object or tied to a ward and reacts in relation to that ward or object. An aggressive mode is basically using the spell offensively, such as in a duel or for target practice."
"Very good Mr Potter." Said Lupin approvingly. "Because we are doing magical diagnosis we are of course looking at 'passive mode'."
Lupin then reached into a cabinet and took out two identical looking alarm clocks.
"As you will no doubt be aware from Professor Babbling's class, clocks are run by Runes in the Wizarding World. If we both perform a Diagnostic Charm it should produce identical results."
Both Harry and Lupin each cast "Cerno Enodo!" producing colour spectrums that were identical in shape and readings.
"Very good." Said Lupin. "You clearly have a basic understanding of how to produce the charm. Now we shall put single additional spell on one of the clocks in 'passive mode'. I would suggest a Stinging Hex."
Harry nodded. "Alright."
Lupin pointed at one of the clocks and incanted "Fodio!"
While the incantation was the same, the wand movement was of course different. Harry had practiced the use of passive and aggressive modes when he learnt the Flagrance Curse a year ago so he had a little familiarity.
Lupin gestured Harry to proceed with his analysis.
This time the colour spectrum and the shape that emerged from Harry's wand looked different, of course he still had no idea what it meant.
"Very good." Said Professor Lupin. "What can you tell from this reading?"
"That the clock has magic imbedded in it." Said Harry. "If I compare it with the previous analysis then it tells me that there is more magic than before. But that's it."
Lupin nodded. "Then allow me to show you. Cerno Enodo!"
He brought up his own diagnostic of the clock. "You see one can expand on this charm."
He rotated his wand and then tapped the centre of the colour spectrum. It expanded outwards and replaced the whole floating blob with a circular shape. Just over half of the circle was coloured in purple with a gold coloured band surrounding it; the rest of the circle was coloured red but flashing a dark blue.
The whole thing looked like a wonky drawn pie chart.
"I'll show you how to do this in a minute but for now take a look at these readings." Said Lupin. "The presence of a gold lining indicates a Rune." He gestured towards the purple blob. "The rest of the colours indicate Elements."
"Elements?" said Harry, looking at the readings. "Oh I see. The colours match the Elements that represent those colours. So purple will be Thunder, to represent the Rune running the clock and the red indicates the Element of fire and the dark blue represents the Element of water."
"Very perceptive Mr Potter, since you pointed out it was dark blue…"
"Light blue would indicate the Ice Element." Said Harry. "Also since the dark blue is flashing within the confines of red that would indicate that the red, the Fire Element, is the dominant Element of the two of them but that water plays an important role as well as its presence is only slightly less minor."
"You seem to know Elemental Magic very well Mr Potter." Said Professor Lupin.
"Just the theory. I've very little idea how to harness it and currently doubt that it's within my current skills."
"Nevertheless I'm impressed." Said Lupin. "Your mother was quite apt at Arithmancy yet she didn't have this firm grasp on the theory until towards the end of Fifth Year."
"Mum was good at Arithmancy?" Harry asked.
"Oh yes. She was brilliant at a lot of subjects, particularly Charms." Said Lupin. "She was working towards a M.A.D.A.M when she died. She was just a few months away from becoming a Mistress of Enchantment and Operational Magic. Your father too was brilliant, though he had no interest in such things, but he was more than capable of gaining one in Transfiguration."
"M.A.D.A.M.'s?" said Harry "You mean the degree level qualification?"
"That's right." Said Professor Lupin. "They are very difficult to achieve and go beyond the N.E.W.T level."
"Yeah I learnt a bit about them last year. It has been suggested that one day I should try for a Mastery in Defensive Magic and Sorcery."
Lupin nodded and smiled, but he seemed to be trying not to tell Harry something.
"I in a manner of speaking technically have a Mastery at Defensive Magic and Sorcery." Said Lupin.
"Really?" said Harry in amazement, Percy had told him that Masteries in Defence and Potions were rare. "Wait, what do you mean technically?"
Lupin sighed. "I undertook my study, presented a thesis and got approved by the Wizarding Education Authority. However because of my… condition… My thesis was not published and I was denied an Order of Merlin."
"Order of Merlin?" said Harry.
"When one succeeds in gaining a Mastery, the thesis they write is supposed to get published and they gain an Order of Merlin Third Class for recognition in Academia as well as the title of Master or Madam. But because I am a Werewolf, the Ministry refused to fund the publication of my thesis and the Order of Merlin committee refused to offer me an award. Though I technically earned the title of Master, the Ministry refuses to acknowledge it and has threatened to fine me if I try and use it in an official capacity."
"Why?" said Harry. "What's the…"
"That's the way the Ministry is." Said Lupin with a rather sad smile. "I am very used to it by now I'm afraid."
"You shouldn't be." Said Harry. "You never did anything wrong."
"Maybe but many members of my species have, oh some have had their reasons but…"
"But not all Werewolves are bad." Said Harry. "And many that are bad, are only like that because the rest of the Wizarding World discriminates against them."
"You've done your research." Commented Lupin.
"We both have." Said Harry. "Emma and I. We wanted to help you, we still do."
"I am touched Harry." Said Lupin. "But you really don't have to…"
"I want to and I'm going to." Said Harry. "Emma's been learning how to brew Wolfsbane, once she's mastered that she's going to try and improve on the technique and she's looking to see if there are any methods in Muggle Medicine that could help."
"Harry." Said Lupin shaking his head. "This is not a project you want to get involved in. The Wizarding World does not approve of such things."
"Then what would you have me do?" said Harry. "You have a job now, but if anyone learns of your condition you may lose it. And what about other Werewolves, they can't get work because of the attitude the Wizarding World has against them."
"Harry people have supported my kind before and have suffered for it." Said Lupin. "I don't want you or Emma to suffer that. Your parents would never forgive me. Now let's get back to this charm."
Lupin went over the charm in basic detail and by the time Professor Flitwick arrived, Harry felt he understood it a lot better. Still when the Charms Professor began working his diagnosis, both Harry and Professor Lupin were severely outclassed.
"I had wondered how they managed to integrate the elegant balancing whilst in keeping with International Law on broom breaking standards." Said Flitwick. "This is a truly incredible example of magic."
"But is it safe?" Harry asked.
"I'm so far unable to confirm that." Said Flitwick. "The Black Family were notoriously good at covertly using dangerous curses. Sirius Black, if he was the one who sent you this, may have expertly hidden a nasty surprise. I will conduct some more test on it in due time. You are of course welcome to view these tests Mr Potter. Also please inform your sister that the specialist has received her Perfume and has begun running chemical tests."
"Thank you Professor." Said Harry.
Flitwick nodded and left with the Firebolt.
"I will of course give you instruction on some of the more difficult diagnostic methods before each session." Said Lupin. "But Cerno Enodo is the basic universal charm. Also I have managed to secure a Boggart one of the classrooms in the basement. Have you been down to the basement from the staircase opposite the Great Hall?"
"You mean the stairs that leads to a corridor that leads to another corridor where the kitchens are located?" asked Harry.
"Ah you know where the kitchens are located." Said Lupin. "The classroom is B8, just two doors to the right of the portrait of the fruit bowl. The Boggart is in a dresser in that classroom. I've asked the other teachers and the House-Elves not to remove it."
"That's great." Said Harry.
"We'll make lessons seven o'clock on Thursdays." Said Lupin. "Okay?"
"Yes. Thank you Professor." Said Harry.
"That's quite alright." Said Lupin. "Have a good night Harry."
Harry walked towards the door when he stopped and turned around. "Professor. I think my parents would encourage me to fight for those with your condition. I think they would fight for it themselves if they were alive. Whatever happens though it is my choice, they won't hold what I do against you."
Harry then left before Lupin could try and dissuade him further.
Meanwhile in the Common Room.
"Oi!" shouted out Emma sighting a rat on the floor. She abandoned her Potions Essay and dived down and picked Scabbers up by his tail.
She hadn't taken the time to think much about it but since the Summer Holidays the rat had looked distinctly worse for wear. She really didn't like rodents much, at least not live ones, she had taken great pleasure in gutting many dead rodents for Potions, including rats, but there was something about living ones that she found creepy. Still, it was Ron's pet.
"Ron I think this is yours." She called out across the Common Room. As Ron turned his head to look at her, she didn't fail to notice a number of girls looking disturbed at the presence of the rodent.
"Oh not again." Said Ron getting up.
Scabbers was struggling in Emma's grasp but Ron, familiar with his pet, clasped a firm hold around him.
"Again?" asked Hermione, following him from the table where they were doing their own homework.
"Yeah he kept on trying to escape when we were at the Burrow over Christmas." Said Ron. "It got so bad that on the first night back, Dad put a locking charm on his cage. I guess it wore off."
"Locking Charms are a Fifth Year spell." Said Hermione. "I think you should find someone who knows the spell."
"Harry might." Said Emma. "He's been reading a lot on protective wards."
"Emma, Harry may be good but he won't have read that far ahead." Said Hermione.
"I won't have read how far ahead." Said Harry entering the Common Room.
"Hey mate." Said Ron. "How was the Diagnosis?"
"Still inconclusive." Said Harry.
"There's no way Sirius Black… you know." Ron trailed off. He didn't want to mention the Firebolt, since everyone in the Common Room could hear him, especially since mentioning Black's name tended to draw people's attention.
"Well if you want to test it, feel free to make a proposition to Professor Flitwick." Said Harry.
Ron suddenly looked uncomfortable.
"Now, what have I not read yet?" asked Harry.
"The Locking Charm?" said Hermione. "I mean we're at least two years away from learning it and…"
"Oh yeah I learnt that at the end of last year." Said Harry.
"Good, cause Scabbers keeps escaping." Said Ron. "Can you lock his cage?"
"Uh… sure, but doesn't the cage have a lock." Said Harry.
"It doesn't work, I know I've said he's useless but he's a bloody escape artist." Said Ron.
"Harry a Locking Charm is not easy." Said Hermione.
"It's not as hard as you'd think." Said Harry. "I'll show you, come on."
Hermione and Emma followed Harry and Ron into the Boy's Dormitory where Ron placed the rat back in his cage, the door to which was somehow wide open.
Harry pointed his wand at the now closed cage door and incanted "Colloportus!"
"Thanks mate." Said Ron.
"Wait let's make sure it works." Said Hermione. She barged forward and then tried opening the door. It didn't budge. She tried harder. "This thing is stuck."
"I guess it works then." Emma giggled. But she faltered slightly when she saw Hermione's face, she looked… irritated and bitter.
"I… I'm going to bed now." Said Hermione. Rushed off.
"Where's she going." Said Ron. He ran after her, Harry and Emma close behind.
They just caught sight of her bolting up the stairs to the Girl's Dormitory.
"What's she doing, she left her homework downstairs. That's three essays and a Divination Project."
"What?" said Emma. "But we've only been back three days."
"Hermione's taking more subjects than all of us though." Said Harry. "She's probably just tired, we'll collect her stuff and give it back to her in the morning."
"Harry, I'm worried about Hermione." Said Ron.
"Why?" said Harry.
Both boys were alone in their Dormitory after having finished their required tasks for the night.
"Well when we got the train back to London before the Holidays, she kept on talking about how great it was not having work to do. That is not the Hermione we know." Said Ron "I didn't think much on it, but she and I arranged to swap Muggle and Wizard storybooks. I went over to her house the day after we got back. Her mother said that Hermione had been asleep for over twelve hours, that she was absolutely exhausted. She also said that she thought Hermione was overworked. I think I agree."
"Yeah!" Said Harry. "She did work herself horribly last term, I think she's still shaken up by what happened in Arithmancy."
"I don't understand." Said Ron. "You said she did fine."
"Yeah but try telling her that. She's since tripled her efforts in that class. Normally that wouldn't be a problem but she's got so much other stuff to focus on." Said Harry.
"I just wish we could skip Divination Homework, it's so useless. But Trelawney is so fixated on the two of us. It's all because we're friends with you, she's still convinced your end is near." Said Ron.
"Yeah I met her at the Christmas feast." Said Harry. "No offence, but I'm forbidding Emma from taking that course. Not that she needs much convincing."
"Oh what's she taking?" asked Ron.
"Same stuff as me." Said Harry.
"Do you think Hermione will calm down?" said Ron.
"I don't know." Said Harry. "I'll ask Emma to brew some calming and sleeping droughts in case she gets stressed. I suggest we keep an eye on her."
"Yeah." Agreed Ron.
Now that they were alerted to the problem the Third Years kept an eye on Scabbers, but he seemed incapable of escaping Harry's locking charm so they relaxed their concerns.
Hermione remained stressed out over her homework, it turned out taking the night off was a big mistake. As well as three unfinished essays and a project she found herself with an additional Ancient Runes project.
Harry, Neville and Hermione were tasked by Professor Babbling to get a clock working by carving a Rune into it. The task in theory was quite simple, use a magic carving quill to draw the required Rune and then activate it using a special spell.
They had an illustration of the Rune as well as two spells, one to activate the Rune and erase the carvings if they screwed up along the way. The latter spell was used quite a lot.
"Abrogare!" incanted a grumbling Neville, erasing his botched attempt at carving a Rune. "Remind me why I took Ancient Runes?" he said as he once more erased an inadequately carved rune from his clock.
"I'm not sure I can remember." Said Harry as he carved into the back of his battery cover. "How many times have you had to erase and start over?"
"Six?" said Neville "How about you?"
"Five times." Said Harry. He then cursed causing Neville to jump. "Make that six."
Hermione had managed to get hers right after the second try, however that had still taken her nearly an hour and she was now in the process of trying to finish all her remaining essays.
"Would you two stop talking, it's getting on my nerves." She grumbled.
"Hermione this is Harry's room." Said Ron. Referring to the surrounding practice room. "Go do that somewhere else if you…"
"Ron that's enough…" said Harry.
"GRRR!" screamed Hermione "I can't concentrate. I need silence."
"Why don't you head to the Room of Requirement." Said Harry. "You can probably concentrate better in there, the room will even provide you with something comfortable to sit on."
"I think I'll do that." Said Hermione. She gathered up all her parchment, neatly folded it and stuffed it in her bag then marched out of the room.
"Maybe she should use that Time-Turner of hers to give herself more homework time." Said Ron.
"She won't she thinks she's not allowed." Said Harry. "Remember what McGonagall said: It's to be used for classes only. And she won't ask McGonagall if she's can because she's afraid that she'll force her to withdraw from some of her classes."
"She should probably drop Divination." Said Ron. "I would if I could. Things that old bat says about you keep getting to Hermione."
"What's she saying?" said Harry.
"That you're doomed to die, that evil is out to get you, that there is an asteroid set to collide with you during the next meteor shower. Well I made that last one up, but Hermione doesn't believe her but the constant warnings about you seem to really bother her." Said Ron.
Harry eventually managed to get his clock to work. While he left Neville to continue his efforts, he went along to the Room of Requirement to check on Hermione. When he got there he found her sleeping on her History of Magic essay.
He shook her awake.
"H… Harry… no… I… fell asleep!" Hermione began to panic.
"Hermione calm down." Said Harry.
"I can't I need to…"
Harry fished a quill from her hand. "You need to do nothing right now." Said Harry firmly.
Hermione glared at him and opened her mouth in preparation to tell him off.
"Hermione dinner is in half an hour, you're not going to be able to do much in the way of meaningful stuff in that amount of time so relax, for just thirty minutes."
"Harry I can't." Hermione moaned "I have too much to do."
"Are any of these things due in tomorrow?" Harry asked.
"The Potions Essay." Said Hermione "And I still haven't started the last role of parchment."
Harry silently cursed Snape and his need to set two rolls of parchment every other week.
"Alright." Said Harry. "Everything else can wait until tomorrow. No Hermione it can. Tomorrows Friday and everything else can wait."
"But we'll probably get an essay for Defence and probably another Potions assignment, you know Snape never likes us to leave his class empty handed."
"Well if there is time later, I'll let you work on some other essays." Said Harry.
Hermione jumped to her feet and glared down at Harry. "YOU WILL LET ME. HOW DARE YOU HARRY POTTER. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO JUST BREEZE THROUGH ALL YOUR ASSIGNMENTS AND STILL HAVE TIME TO PLAY QUIDDITCH BUT YOU DO NOT…" Hermione suddenly found herself gasping for air.
Harry got to his feet and then laid her down on a padded surface the Room graciously provided for him.
"Hermione clam down!" He said firmly. "That's an order."
"You do not… do not tell… tell me what to…"
"Try me." Harry challenged and held her down by her shoulders. "You will lie there and take deep breaths or I will stun you and carry you via levitation spell to Madam Pomfrey, and you know she'll then talk to Professor McGonagall."
That last threat seemed to immunise Hermione of any remaining resistance.
"Now I don't care if you are going to hand stuff in late or substandard, you are going to stay here and calm down." Said Harry.
For a fair few minutes, Harry sat next to Hermione as she lay down on the surface breathing heavily. She kept on glaring at Harry but he kept on looking at her with a neutral expression that - despite not holding anything like love, anger, affection, disapproval or any overly powerful emotion – bore into her.
"I can do this Harry." She said softly after a while. "I'm not incapable."
"I know." Said Harry. "You've been doing it all last term. But you have to accept that even you can't work that much without getting stressed from time to time. Percy did warn us last year, he has very little time to himself and he's taken this route all the way through his O. and N.E. . When I first met you, all you wanted to do was excel and excel at school work."
"I still do." Said Hermione.
"No you don't." said Harry. "You still want to do that but you have other things you want to do. Duelling is just one of them, the other thing is you like having friends."
"What? Harry what has that…"
"You didn't have many friends before Hogwarts didn't you." Said Harry.
"You know I didn't." said Hermione "What has that."
"You like spending time with us, but spending time with us means that you have less hours in a day that you can study."
"I still manage to study." Said Hermione. "It's just… it's just hard for me to…"
"You don't want to spend less time with us." Said Harry. "Some people can go without friendships as close as yours but I don't think you could. Percy spends time with his girlfriend but that's all he does asides from studying and Head Boy and Prefect duties."
"Harry what are you trying to say?" said Hermione.
"You're working far more than you ever have before. Probably twice as much as you did last year. I won't say drop a few classes just yet but think more about how to manage your time." Said Harry. "You could always use your Time Turner and work in here where no one would see you."
"No absolutely not." Said Hermione. "McGonagall said…"
"She doesn't need to know." Said Harry. "We can even work out a schedule."
"Come on, it's no worse than venturing into the forest to fight Acromantulae or the Chamber of Secrets to kill a Basilisk."
Hermione glared. "I never did either of those things."
"Ok… um… what the biggest thing you've done against the school rules?" said Harry thoughtfully.
"I have never… well except the Polyjuice Potion." Said Hermione.
"Is this really that much worse?" asked Harry.
"Yes." Said Hermione. "I'm sorry Harry but I can't, not when McGonagall personally made me promise. It's not the same as Polyjuice or Fluffy or even Acromantulae, she actually specifically gave me a responsibility and I can't just abuse it like that."
"Fair enough." Said Harry. "But we still have twenty minutes before dinner, so please take the time to relax a little."
Hermione sighed but smiled at Harry. They stayed relaxed together in the Room of Requirement then met everyone else for dinner. Afterwards, Harry left to go join Professor Lupin for Patronus coaching.
Harry met Lupin in the basement classroom and the lessons began immediately.
"Now as you have already managed to cast a basic Patronus Charm, it is obvious that you do not need some of the introductory lessons." Said Lupin. "That being said, I think it would be important to go over what you know about the spell."
"I know that it is powered by happy memories, but at the same time it seems to come from something else… within me." Said Harry.
"Very good." Said Lupin. "When teaching the Charm, we generally say that it is fuelled by a happy memory. But in truth it is the powerful feeling of that memory that creates the Patronus. When you finally cast your first Corporeal Patronus, you will remember that feeling and should be able to cast it gain with much greater ease by reminding your body what that feeling is like. On occasion you will likely need a happy memory to remind yourself of that, however I find that I can conjure a Patronus on instinct most of the time."
"So if I focus on the feeling that I had when I cast at the last Quidditch Match." Said Harry, taking out his wand "Expecto Patronum!"
Harry's incantation produced a shield pretty much identical to the one that he cast during the match against Hufflepuff.
"Very good Harry." Said Lupin "May I ask what memory you used to power this charm, if you remember?"
"It was meeting Emma again after the 300 days." Said Harry.
"300 days?" said Lupin.
"Oh right sorry. When I got back to Privet Drive after my First Year at Hogwarts. It's the longest we've ever been apart and Emma actually counted all the days between when I left and when I got back. It was 300 days exactly so we've just referred to my First Year, our year apart as the 300 days."
"That sounds pretty miserable." Said Lupin, frowning slightly.
"It was, that's why we were so glad to see each other when it was over." Said Harry. "That was probably the longest hug we've ever had." He blushed as he mentioned that.
"Well that particular memory does sound particularly powerful." Said Lupin.
"During my personal practices I've always found memories of my time with Emma to be the most effective." Said Harry. "I can't think of anything more effective so…"
"I can't guarantee I will be able to help you develop much further in these sessions." Said Lupin. "However, I believe you are right. A Boggart would most likely be our best chance at advancing your skills."
"When did you learn to cast a Corporeal Patronus?" Harry asked.
"When I was in my last year of school." Said Lupin. "The Patronus Charm is on the Sixth Year Curriculum, but you are only expected to be able to cast a non-corporeal shield for your Defence N.E.W.T. However if you can cast a corporeal form in either your O.W.L or N.E.W.T exam you automatically get bonus points so we were encouraged to spend our spare time to try and achieve a such a thing. Your father and our friends threw a series of parties in our last year at the end of which made several of us, myself included felt infectiously happy. I am rather attributing that environment to my owl here. Expecto Patronum!"
Harry had lost consciousness on the train and had not seen it at the time. But the majestic look of Lupin's silver owl was a sight to behold.
"Wow!" said Harry quietly he reached out his arm and just for the sake of it, Lupin had the owl land on it. Harry couldn't physically feel anything and yet he could sense the owl's presence and feel comfort from its existence.
"It is quite something." Said Lupin. "Your mother and father had some of the most incredible Patroni I have ever seen."
"My parents had Corporeal Patroni?" asked Harry.
"Yes." Said Lupin. "They and me and Sirius all had Corporeal…" he suddenly stopped talking and a highly haunted look crossed his face.
"Sirius Black." Said Harry.
"Yes." Said Lupin. "I think we should get started." He walked over to the dresser where the Boggart was kept. "When I open this try and picture a Dementor, also try focusing on other memories. If you think those of your sister are still the best then focus on them, but a little variety sometimes helps with this kind of magic."
The lesson went really well. Harry was easily able to fight off the Boggart Dementor. But Lupin mentioning Sirius Black there bothered him. It wasn't the fact that Lupin had good memories about him, that was to be expected. But he had indicated that Sirius Black had a Corporeal Patronus. But Harry's readings on Death Eaters and Dark Wizards in general had indicated that they were incapable of summoning Patroni. He had read the tale of the Dark Lord Raczidian and how his attempt to summon a Patronus resulted in him becoming devoured by an overwhelming number of maggots.
Given the context of the tale of the Dark Lord Raczidian, Harry was sure that it was just that: a tale. Yet there was no doubt that Dark Wizards had a general inability to use the Patronus Charm. Sirius Black was a Dark Wizard and yet he seemed to have managed.
Harry put that thought out of his mind for now. But his first doubt about Sirius Black had just emerged.
As I'm sure I've mentioned after the last chapter, the Poll on the Guild name is advisory and I am still inclined to name the group either Oracle Guild or Defence Guild. My suggestion is that you dedicate one of your two votes for either Oracle or Defence and your other vote for one of the other options (which may yet become the name, I won't completely rule them out just yet). You are of course free to vote how you wish.
I have never read any stories with Elemental Magic, I know there are stories with a so called "Elemental Harry" but most of those stories are so badly conceived that I never make it past the summary. I am doing this my own way and there is not going to be what I would call a "Super Harry". If you have any questions about what I've written so far feel free to ask, I know I can only make my explanations of Elemental Magic can only make so much sense. However my policy on spoilers stands (I don't give them unless I think it's necessary).
Please review and answer my poll.