Declaration: I write for my own pleasure and not for profit. I do not own Harry Potter Universe.

With You by My Side

Chapter 44- Tricks of the Trade (Part 1)

High Priest Huaco waited until the last of the revelers left the island, and the only ones left on the island apart from Harry and Hermione, were those who lived there on a daily basis. These were the other priests and their disciples who did not pay any attention to the foreigner witch and wizard. It was almost as if the acceptance of one member of their society paved the way for better relations and the two teens were no longer considered to be outcasts.

Seeing that they were devoid of any observers, High Priest Huaco led the two teens towards the south eastern most tip of the island. This part of the island ran almost parallel to the surface of the water of the lake and was devoid of any vegetation. While the island was obviously rocky, this part looked almost as if it was a sandy beach. What was surprising was that the lake water looked still and did not even lap onto the beach whenever there was a wind. The reason for this was quickly revealed when Harry and Hermione felt a very strong ward that nearly made their hairs stand on end.

The teacher stopped well before the ward line and turned to the two teens projecting his voice to them, 'I will have to warn you that the wards around this place are supposed to have been in place from even before the history of this place was recorded. It is thought that the sun god himself put them up; no one other than high priests could enter, not even their disciples. There is no need to say that no foreigner even knows about this place.'

The two teens were naturally awed at not only the fact that they could be the first if not the only foreigners who will enter the most guarded and most revered place in Peru but also at the sheer magic that was being radiated around the area. They mostly stayed silent fearing to break the almost sacred silence that fell over the place. Unknown to them, all the other priests were silently willing them to be rejected so that they could go back to hating all foreigners.

'One thing before you even attempt to cross the ward line,' Huaco cautioned the teens, 'anyone who is unworthy will be refused entry. The wards have been known to kill those who have impure intentions.'

Harry and Hermione knew that their intention was to learn about the Peruvian culture and magic and turn around and teach others who are willing and probably in this case, worthy of learning. They were confident that they will be allowed entry; however, such ominous warnings do have their effect. The nervous teens looked at each other and despite being ill at ease, they were able to reassure themselves that were worthy. With a decisive nod of their heads, they turned to the high priest and requested that they be allowed entry.

With the words, 'If you wish…' Huaco turned to face the waters of the lake and began walking towards the edge of the island. In just a few steps, he was at the edge of the sandy beach and then simply walked onto the water. As soon as he stepped off the island, he disappeared.

Not unduly concerned, Harry and Hermione took a deep breath to steady themselves and followed their teacher. They could feel the overwhelming magic of the ward as soon as they touched it, but it did not offer them any resistance nor could they feel any hint of danger. Holding hands, the two teens crossed the barrier and found themselves on another smaller island, barely above the water level and a few meters off Soto Island. The high priest was standing in the middle of what looked like a small sand dune rather than a rocky outcropping in the water. They could see that there was no apparent way to reach the island even if it was visible and accessible to the world. Only the magic of the area allowed the worthy to pass the surprisingly deep stretch of water without their feet getting wet.

Looking back at the main island, the two teens could see the entire congregation of about twenty worshippers of the sun god, bow towards their general direction. The gathered natives obviously could not see the two teens, but Harry and Hermione were surprised to see disappointment written on their expressions.

'Not to worry, they are disappointed in themselves,' High Priest Huaco's voice startled the two teens out of their thoughts. Harry and Hermione turned towards him with confusion and so he elaborated, 'They are disappointed that their blind prejudice forced them to be mean to those blessed by magic, maybe even by inti (sun god) himself.'

With all the drama now at an end, the two teens turned to their teacher expecting something miraculous to happen, that was the only way they could see to get off the island they were on. It was very small, probably about 12 feet or so across, and there was no obvious structures for them to stay in. Not even for a moment did they think that they were going to stay at that place for less than a day. Learning about the culture of the ancient Incas itself may take them about a month or so and their magic? Were the going to stay under the starry sky? Or was this place some sort of an apparition point?

Huaco chuckled at the teens' thoughts and with a lazy wave of his staff cleared a good sized mound of sand right in the middle of the island. He prompted Harry and Hermione to lift the trapdoor that was visible, 'Magic does not work on the door and has to be lifted by hand. I am in no condition to do that…' he explained.

The two teens hurried forward eagerly but before grabbing the handles to lift the door, studied the runes etched on its surface. "The wards require our blood to key us in, isn't it?" Hermione asked the high priest after their perusal.

The old wizard was impressed, not only did the two exhibit a knowledge of the old Mayan runes enough to determine their use on the door, but they were cautious and did not rush headlong into an unknown place. He was even a little embarrassed that his near deception was found out so easily. His respect for the two teens increased, if that was even possible.

'Yes,' he admitted, 'I could not have led you inside without that rite of passage.'

Harry and Hermione noticed that the handles did have a tiny needle point, and they used it to draw some blood. After the two teens added a drop of their blood to the runic array, the high priest came forward and grasping a handle lifted the door with ease. The door was probably lightened and maybe even reacted to the presence of the magicals who were already keyed in and made their passage easier. 'Frail old man indeed' Harry thought amused at the display.

Going down the stairs, the two teens saw that they were descending down into a cavern. It was humungous, nearly fifty feet in height and ran almost the entire length and width of the island.

"Oh my!" Hermione exclaimed, "The shape of the cavern looks exactly like Soto Island, under the water."

High Priest Huaco who was leading them down, turned to look back and grinned at the two teens, 'You are absolutely correct my dear. The island is hollow just below the surface and the floor of the cavern is the true floor of Soto Island.'

Continuing their trip downwards, he explained what was known about the history of the island. Geologists think that the entire Lake Titicaca was formed by the expansion of a fault, however, the Incas believed that the lake was a formed when the Sun god put his foot on Earth. The Isla del Sol was named in honour of the principal deity, and was predominantly occupied by non-magicals while Soto Island became the primary habitat of the magical population.

By this time the three magicals reached the bottom of the stairs and the two teens were winded. Their exercise regimen kept them fairly active, but the punishing pace set by their teacher and the height of each step meant that Harry and Hermione had a real workout, surprisingly or perhaps not, High Priest Huaco did not break a sweat.

The stairs went straight without any turns and deposited them on the far side from where they started. It meant that they were standing right under the main temple on Soto Island. At this place, the cavern rose like a spire and if Harry had to guess he would say that the cavern reached inside the temple probably as high as the temple itself.

'You are correct alumno,' Huaco answered. 'The inside of the temple is indeed hollow and we are looking right into it.'

Harry simply nodded his head accepting it. Hermione meanwhile was thunderstruck, "How did you hear that? Forget that, how did I hear that?" she nearly screeched.

Huaco let out a hearty chuckle, it was heartening to know that the age old trick that every teacher plays on his students worked with the two teens too. 'The magic of this place will not allow any secrets. Even your very strong mind walls will not fare against this ancient magic.'

They all could hear a distinctly feminine voice, 'That means no naughty thoughts…' Hermione blushed brightly when she realized that her thoughts were indeed heard by the other two.

She took a deep breath to center herself, "OK, we will have to have a much higher discipline and empty our heads of all unnecessary thoughts."

'That's what is required to be truly masters of magic' Huaco agreed.

"Why though?" Harry asked. "Why was there a need to put up such wards?"

The high priest sighed, 'The very first thing that any priest of the sun temple feared and exists even to this day, was that the one you accepted into your fold is a traitor. You are actually standing inside the lost city of gold.'

Harry and Hermione were shocked. They could never imagine that the mythical city existed. "But… but…" Hermione spluttered. Harry was totally shocked into silence.

'Only the worthy can see it,' their teacher shrugged his shoulders.

The still awed teens followed the high priest to a corner where two rooms could be seen. Huaco opened the door to one of them. Harry and Hermione could see that there were a few camp beds, straw mats, and assorted material used for making a bed. The other room was obviously a bathroom.

'I usually rest under the main temple. You can either do the same or you can use this room to sleep.'

The two teens exchanged a glance and Hermione spoke for them, "We will use the camp beds in the room for now and then maybe follow your example later on"

The high priest was impressed at how quickly the two teens adapted. He felt that they were making a conscious effort to minimize their thoughts. It was impossible for two novices but they were trying their best and that in the old wizard's opinion was admirable.

'Now that has been sorted out, let's have our dinner and rest. You will begin your training at the crack of dawn.'

"We will help" the two teens chorused taking in the sight of preserved but uncooked meat and vegetables, and flour.

High Priest Huaco let out a relieved sigh, 'Good …I cannot cook a decent meal.'

Minor Break

Harry and Hermione learnt the night before that the first rays of sun always touch the spire that was present on sun temple on Soto Island. Huaco also told them that the cavern they were in would also receive the first rays of the sun and wanted them to be up before that. The Peruvians believed that the first rays were in fact the sun god's blessings and every one of the inhabitants of the land would wake up to be blessed.

By the time the two teens finished their morning ablutions and got ready, the cavern was starting to light up. Sunlight was not streaming into the cavern through a pin hole or anything like that but it was everywhere; it seemed as if the sun was shining in the enclosed space. Any and every surface had a golden hue and even the humans inside had a golden halo around them. Harry and Hermione stood mesmerized at the spectacle. They felt as if the beauty of the morning outside the cavern was enacted for their benefit within the walls and the two teens allowed themselves to drown in it.

While they stood immobile, Huaco was not. He was performing what looked like a set of 'yoga asanas' they knew about. What surprised them the most was that there was only silence from him, they could hear no thoughts; it was almost as if his mind was blank. They were not sure if their teacher was so disciplined that he could control his thoughts to such an extent or if he had some higher form of occlumency that prevented his thoughts from being picked up inside the temple. The two teens decided to question him later in the day, then again, being a high priest of the sun temple may have its own perks and protecting his thoughts may be one of them.

The two students felt a little guilty as they stood watching the old wizard twist and turn his body in angles that would not be possible without continued practice. It was not guilt about their teacher doing the exercises but their standing rooted to the stop that was troubling them. To alleviate that guilt, they decided to jog around the edge of the cavern.

Harry and Hermione were shocked at their apparent lack of fitness when they were using the stairs to get down into the cavern. They kept up their fitness regimen even during the holidays and though they were definitely not athletes, they considered themselves to be active and fit. However, their performance the last evening showed that it was subpar for this place; it was either the oppressive magic of the place, the changes in altitude, or they were really getting complacent, Harry did not know but they were determined to overcome that.

Both the teacher and the students finished their morning exercises at about the same time and after washing off the dirt and sweat, sat down to break their fast. Chewing on homemade bread steeped in a concoction of honey, lemon, and a hint of spices, they began their lessons.

"We Peruvians believe in Sun god; to us he is the giver of all life on this planet. Resting our bodies overnight is to give it a chance to recover the lost strength, but it is the first rays of the sun that gives us the strength and the will to work through the day," Huaco began to expound on the beliefs that were basically unchanged through time.

They talked about the modern interpretation of religion and contrasted to what it was supposed to be. In the modern times, religion became a crutch instead of it being a way of life. If you need something in your life, pray for it; if you want to blame someone for your misfortunes blame the god you always believed in until that time. The fortune that comes your way is due to your good luck and not to any divine intervention. In short, the entire belief of a god became a source of putting the blame on someone, and since he could not answer your accusations it became very easy, so what if you have to answer to your sins in the afterworld?

Huaco talked about how this was common to even the Peruvians who had a very strong connection to their sun god. However, the close association between the magical and non-magical societies helped the non-magicals to believe in the omnipresence of their god or at least to an extent where they were noticeably tolerant to that belief and not blaming him for every trouble that comes their way.

The Inca, and the modern day witches and wizards of Peru believed that their magic was a gift of their favourite god and not only that but was actually powered by the sun. It was not that far-fetched to believe; the sun is the ultimate force that powers everything on earth, it gives energy to every living being and therefore powers magic too. To the Peruvian magical society, the sun god was not just a presence he was the essence. Their belief in their god powered their rituals and it was this belief that carried the most important rituals to this day.

According to the high priest, magic boiled down to one word, belief.

The long discourse unsettled Harry and Hermione; they turned introspect. They went to church but were not religious in even the loosest of sense. As scientists, the two teens relied more on evidence than on just belief, and even in the magical world, they were unravelling the mysteries of even the most inexplicable phenomenon. It was hard for them to really believe in the existence of god and destiny. Living in the magical world and being aware of prophecies, they could understand fate, but they could not and would not believe that their entire life was already written by some mythical being.

For them it was easier to explain the consequences of their actions rather than relying on destiny. The natural order in a way substituted for a god; and it was probably the explanation that their ancestors gave for the presence of a god. Then why could they not believe in god? This was the question that starred in the two teens' thoughts. If they could not believe in the existence of a supreme being then what could they believe in…?

They believed in themselves, in their ability to work hard and achieve what they wanted through honest means and most importantly they believed in each other. They knew that they were stronger when they were together, that's what they believed in. Having decided on that, they looked at their teacher in determination.

Their thoughts were of course being broadcast and Huaco had no trouble in following them. He was not angry that the two teens refused to believe in god, any god, instead he was happy that they had unerring faith in themselves and in their abilities. They needed the bond that existed between them to stay strong in the coming days.

"There is confidence in one's abilities and then there is the thought that they have the ability to even do the impossible," the high priest cautioned. "Arrogance is only a step away from over-confidence."

Harry and Hermione were indignant at being called arrogant and they denied the accusation vehemently.

Their teacher was not swayed though, "Your intentions were all good, but without your knowledge or acceptance, your vanity is being stroked into existence." He looked at Hermione and continued, "You, my dear, have been called as the brightest witch of the generation. It may be true or it may not be, you do not know, but constant reference and reminders of your friends made it a fait accompli."

Hermione was stunned, yes she did consider herself the brightest witch of her age and was proud of the fact. Harry and their friends did indeed rejoice in that fact, was she lapping up the attention, yes she was. For a girl who was shunned during primary school for her intelligence, being hailed for that same intelligence did indeed stroke her ego. She dreaded the thought of strutting around the castle akin to Draco Malfoy.

Huaco looked grim at these thoughts and even Harry was beginning to realize that there was a very fine line between being proud of ones achievements and being vain. What differentiated them was something that he was unable to determine. He had no time to reflect on that as the high priest turned to him, "You detest the way that the people of the wizarding community call you the 'Boy-Who-Lived'. You pride yourself in being unaffected by the adulations showered by those who recognize you. But really, do you think that you are better than the others because you resist the temptation of fame?"

This time it was Harry's turn to think back and reached the startling conclusion that he was not immune to the pull of being famous. In trying to resist being famous, he was hoping to be famous for his attempts at not being famous. He signed in resignation and looked at Hermione, who was on the verge of tears. He put away his own discontenting thoughts for the moment and focused on helping his girlfriend; he simply thought about being in love with his best friend, he knew that his thoughts will be picked up by Hermione.

"We will be stronger Hermione, together we will learn to overcome this," Harry was glad to see the smile on his betrothed lighting up her whole face. Her eyes showed the determination that he loved; yes, together they will be much better tomorrow than they were today.

Huaco was actually relieved, he feared that bringing up their shortcomings may push them towards their faults rather than correcting them or worse drive a wedge between the two. Instead, it made them more determined never to stray from the right path. He realized that their bond was strong enough to stand the test of time and he should have realized that something as trivial as his admonishment would not make any difference. He thanked inti that his faith in the two teens was mot misplaced.

He latched onto Harry's question as to what was the difference between being proud of their achievements and being arrogant. "A saint among humans knows that it was not his own power or brilliance that was responsible for the amazing things that you see, but that you were merely the medium through which god did his work. Humility is the brilliance on a diamond that allows it to shine. Pride never comes into the picture if you truly are a servant of god."

For those who consider religion as a way of life, everything that they do is on the orders of the higher power. Their failures show them that everything is not as what they see and allows them to learn and grow. Their triumphs brings them that much closer to the realization of the dream of attaining salvation. They never expect a return and if they get on, accept with humility.

Harry and Hermione listened with rapt attention as their teacher finished with some advice to them, "Accept what you are but do not let that influence your actions…"

The two teens now had the name of the emotion that they could tie to Dumbledore's actions. Dressing in outrageous robes, keeping things close to his heart, and hanging on to more than one powerful position but doing nothing constructive. All these point out that the man craved attention and not power. The sad part was that in his endeavor to gain notice, he put and was putting a lot of innocents in danger.

Harry was thankful that he wanted nothing to do with politics, he was happy at the thought of being a headmaster. He did not crave attention and if could just take care of his emotions tied with the desire not be in the limelight, then hopefully he would not turn vain. He did not want power, just a life filled with happiness and doing some good in the world, whether it was in the wizarding world or in the non-magical world, it did not matter to him. Harry knew right from the start that he could only do that if he did not stretch himself too thin. They could see the danger of that in headmaster Dumbledore's actions, and Harry never wanted to be like him.

Hermione was of the same mind and that was why she did not want to be the Minister of Magic, even though their family was hoping that she would take the reins in time from Amelia. Both of them, in positions of respect may use their influence to do some good but then they began to realize that it was not the right way to do. Influence, whether good or bad is never to be used to direct others' lives, it was the beginning of corruption for the one who used his influence as well as for those who were influenced.

Huaco agreed to their assessment and offered them his thoughts about how they can be different from their headmaster, "You only have to try not to be in the limelight and you will do alright" the old wizard joked. Turning contemplative, he continued, "… all joking aside, you are in a unique position. The strong bond that you share will cover for each other's deficiencies and mistakes in addition to complementing the other. You will not allow the other to become arrogant or over-confident. You will ensure that."

The two teens were surprised that the high priest was talking about the strong interdependence that they had. Not only that he called their relationship to be a very strong bond; they knew that it was nothing like the soul-bond that is commonly fantasized about, but Huaco was able to understand that it was no teenage romance between them. Harry and Hermione did not know it but their interactions were never like two best friends or even like those who were dating. To someone watching them, it was much deeper, like a single mind sharing two bodies.

Their musings were broken by Huaco, "Your magical power and your intelligence combined with the unique bond you share will make you the most powerful in the magical world. Use it wisely…"

Harry and Hermione were overwhelmed, they did not anticipate such high praise from a member of the community that only a few hours ago loathed the idea of a foreign magical on their soil. It was not only the first step for them to be accepted by one of the most revered of wizards in Peru, but also the first step in tempering their behavior. Instead of feeling proud, they felt humbled by the proclamation; they could see that the words were straight from the old wizard's heart and that made it that much more incredible. The two teens resolved to never fail in their teacher's eyes…

The solemn moment was broken when their teacher clapped his hands together. "Now…" he exclaimed bringing their attention to him.

He began discussing about their prowess in recognizing the runes etched on the trapdoor that led them down. The two teens confessed that they did study all the different types of runes and since they already planned to visit Peru, made it a priority to brush up on the runic language used by Mayans. Huaco realized that there was nothing much he could teach the youngsters in runes; since they already know the language, they only need the knowledge of the components for them to enact even the most powerful of the rituals. Knowledge that he was any way prepared to impart by gifting them the manuscripts that were passed down to him by his own teacher.

Huaco realized that there was only one thing that he could and would teach them and that was not soul magic. "As you know by now, any magic done by using the power of a soul is the most powerful of all magics. At the same time it is the most dangerous too, you pay the ultimate price for that, your soul…" he finished with an ominous note.

The words spoken in that way, probably with a hint of compulsion to them, sent chills down the spines of Harry and Hermione. They already knew about the dangers of using your own soul in a barter for power, but still the facts being laid bare was not easy to digest.

With a knowing glance, the high priest continued, "You already know two of the rituals that involve the soul, one causes your soul to be unstable and split, and the other causes your soul to cease to exist." Huaco turned his determined gaze to the two teens, "I am not going to even think about teaching you that."

Harry and Hermione had no problem with that, "We do not want you to too…"

"Good…" he accepted their decision. "The way a witch or wizard does magic is to use a wand to channel their innate magic and through a process of trial and error forces the magic to do their bidding."

The two teens were having trouble believing that, incantations and wand movements always made doing spells very easy. They however, did not need to voice their objection as their teacher heard their thoughts being broadcast. With a smile, Huaco elaborated, "What is the connection between the words you utter and the final effect of the magic? How can an incantation trigger your magic to perform a certain spell? It cannot…"

That was something that Harry and Hermione were unable to understand too. The theory of magic states that the will of the caster drives the magic to perform the spell while the incantation gives it a boost. There was really nothing to say that incantations were the driving force for magic to work, at the same time they also knew that silent casting and wandless casting do away with wand movements.

"Incantations merely allow your mind to concentrate on the end result of the spell. As you know visualization is a key part in many branches of magic but your will to get the desired result is the most important," Huaco reminded the two teens about the will of the witch or wizard being the one that actually fuels the spell. Incantations merely make the connection between the will of the caster and the desired result easy so that even a novice can get their magic to work. For any non-verbal or wandless spell to work, focus and inherent magical power are the two main components.

A witch or wizard with average magical power cannot expect to do wandless magic, they can cast silently but not for long. They get tired easily. Magical exhaustion is a serious danger to all witches and wizards and for those who are on the battlefield, it is more of a reality than a possibility. There is no cure or any way to prevent magical exhaustion except for not using magic until the magical core gets replenished naturally.

"This is a severe limitation to any witch or a wizard," Huaco continued. "I will teach you how to utilize the magic in and around you to the maximum…"

"Magic around us…?" Harry stuttered in awe.

"Nature is bountiful," the high priest reminded his two students, "… the very few who are so in tune with their magic can channel the magic in nature to do what they want. For them there is no need for spells or even words. Just project your will to get things done."

Hermione was intrigued, "But a wand uses the magic of the witch or wizard…"

"You are correct." Even after knowing about their intelligence, Huaco was still impressed by the intuitive grasp the two had for the subject. "Those who get used to wandless magic to such an extent that it becomes second nature will have difficulty using a wand."

"So the legends about warrior mages who can use their weapons to devastating effect when channeling magic, and others using staves are all true," Harry stated, though there was still some doubt in it.

Huaco answered Harry in a very different way, "You see many beings around you that can channel the magic in nature, house elves generally snap their fingers, Goblins use some gestures but that is only for show, they need to be in contact or at least closer to the object of their magic. Only humans do not have the necessary will to make it happen."

"Then how do we make it happen?" the two teens asked.

The high priest cracked a smile, "It's all in focus…"

Harry and Hermione understood what was needed; they immediately sat in their favourite positions for meditation. With their daily exercises to strengthen their occlumency shields, concentration came easy to them. With a single minded focus, they concentrated on their goal. For Hermione it was a large garden taken care with meticulous planning; each tree, shrub, and flowering plants in their place and vulnerable areas of the garden protected by high fences. For Harry it was a huge bank vault, not unlike the main Potter vault; stacks of galleons being neatly ordered unimportant memories. Paintings, books, and jewelry representing memories with importance; only Harry was the one who knew what was what and the protections on them.

The two teens did a good job of losing themselves in sorting their memories and focusing on shoring up their defenses. It came so naturally to them that they did not even spare a thought about whether what they were doing was the correct thing to do or not. Their focus was absolutely on what they were doing.

However, their tranquility was not to last long. They forgot that they were in place where their thoughts were not private and so slowly but surely, the cavern was a cacophony of random snippets of memories, thoughts, and even the occasional ponderings from Harry and Hermione that was needed for completing their occlumency exercise.

The noise they were generating was enough to throw off their concentration and they opened their eyes to see their teacher smirking at them.

"How are we to concentrate with our thoughts being projected out…?" Hermione cried in exasperation.

"Precisely…" Huaco retorted, "How are you to focus with so many thoughts going on in your brains?"

The two teens were really confused at this point, they were asked to focus and that is precisely what they were doing. The only thing they could say that was probably a mistake was that they naturally went to their mental exercises, they were sure that was not the intended goal of what they were asked to do.

Their teacher confirmed their thoughts, "Your thoughts more often than not distract you. You were so focused on one thing that you did not notice right away the growing noise in the chamber."

"But, what do we focus on…" Harry was bewildered.

"There should be not be any particular target for your focus…" seeing that what he was saying was even more confusing to the teens, Huaco changed tack, "If it helps you, focus on clearing your mind of all thoughts."

That was not the right way to do as even that would lead the teens to focus on a particular target, not to have any target for their thoughts. It was a good start though. The one drawback with shielding your thoughts was that they were as secure as the walls that were built to secure them. The obvious way to protect your thoughts was not to have any thoughts when someone was trying to probe your mind.

Hermione literally slapped her forehead in realization, "Our thoughts divert our awareness. The more complex your thought process, the less aware are you of your surroundings."

"Precisely," Huaco could not hold back his praise. He was amazed that the two teens grasped the concept so easily. Those who were brought up with the awareness of wandless magic and what it takes to be proficient in magic without a wand, have trouble in understanding that 'focus' does not necessarily mean 'concentration'.

"The less your mind is occupied with thoughts, the easier is it for you to be aware of your surroundings," Huaco continued his explanation. "Heightened awareness of your surroundings is the first step for you to connect with the magic around you. Ultimately you will learn to give yourself up to the magic around you." It is usually said that an idle brain is the devil's playground, but in this case, it was needed so that they could be aware of what was going on around them. Then the two teens would need to learn about heightening their senses to allow their magical core to resonate with the magic in nature. All said and done it may not be possible for them to do this; their magical cores may not be in tune with nature magic, but if Harry and Hermione could indeed connect with magic around them, then the world is their oyster.

The high priest then went on to teach them meditation that was just for the sake of meditation. More often than not, people meditate with a certain goal in mind, whether it be for calming oneself down, relaxation, or even for improving one's concentration. That method was counterproductive for clearing one's mind. Huaco began teaching them the way to meditate without a goal in sight.

By now the two teens were convinced that the high priest was a master at sensing and connecting to the magic in nature. The way that he was able to identify the connection that existed between them, and the way that he singled them out from a mass of people, pointed to the fact that Huaco was able to see their magical auras.

After struggling for more than an hour without even hitting the road to starting it, the teacher and students broke for lunch. The two teens understood the concept, but excelling at occlumency and meditating with the goal to improving their concentration, was proving to be a major roadblock for them. They realized that they have to unlearn all that they knew in this concept.

"This is proving to be a very difficult proposition," Harry groused. The challenge was proving to be harder than they thought and it only increased the determination of the two teens.

A/N:

Out-take:

"This is proving to be a very difficult proposition," Harry groused.

Huaco sniggered at the disgruntled teens, "Did you think that it was going to be a snap of your fingers?"

Harry and Hermione groaned at the pun which obviously was an allusion to the earlier discussion about the different ways that magic was done by other beings.