1st Author's Note: Hi, yes it's another update, only three days later and it's a LONG chapter, too. I really do love my readers. This chapter is completely un-beta'ed, and I know there are mistakes. Please PM me with any you find as it's easier to toggle between the PM's and the document manager. I had fun with the family like interactions in this chapter, I hope you like them too.
Tuesday will be the regular updating day for this story, and a new chapter will come at least every other week, perhaps sometimes only a week between chaps. I'm currently writing 4 stories and uploading 6, so every story has its own day, Tuesday being LPOW's. Come and see me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (see my author page for links). I ask questions and often give previews as well. The Facebook site also features some of my favorite HP artwork.
Finally, Due to the number of reviews which find Maggie's accent difficult to read, I have removed it from future writing. Use your imagination to hear her with an Irish accent. Enjoy, MNF
Expert (Modern English)
Sunday, January 14, Mid-afternoon
"Everyone, get down here," Harry yelled up the stairs.
"I could have screamed," Lily scolded her son. "I asked you to go and GET them. Close physical proximity eliminates the need for raised voices." The other students in the house came thundering down the stairs, their excitement palpable. Their examinations had been nearly two weeks ago, and while some of the results had been discussed already, none knew exactly which classes they'd qualified for or what their timetables would look like. Remus had been at the main school for new professor orientation, he was going to be teaching about dark creatures and how to defend against them, and had picked up the timetables and brought them home.
"Lovely Lily," Sirius addressed her, standing in front of her frame and giving her the Marauder's trademark lopsided grin. "I seem to remember a Head Boy who would stand at the bottom of the girls' stairs and loudly recite poetry until you arrived. You never told him to be quiet. In fact, I think you found the action endearing."
"That was different," Lily said, getting flustered. "It was a grand, romantic gesture. Harry was just screaming out of laziness." She hated how he could get under her skin, even now, when she wasn't alive. The man truly had a gift.
"If you say so," he said sceptically. "Come on, meet me in the lounge. I'm quite certain these kids want to know what they're taking." Sirius walked from the hallway into the lounge and found there was only one empty seat, next to Remus and across the room from Maggie. In the last few weeks during house activities, she'd been purposefully sitting in places where he couldn't sit next to her. They'd also had no alone time in the same period. He was determined to get her alone tonight even if it meant hexing her to do it. He didn't think there were any problems with their relations, but rather that she was trying to set a good example. Maybe he'd take her to Stargazer's Summit—they'd be completely alone there—where the newly remodelled master suite was very plush. When Sirius sat down, Remus started the house meeting.
"Well, first I am happy to announce that I have been hired by the Irish Academy as a professor," Remus told them and everyone was excited. Harry immediately got up and rushed his former professor, pulling him up to give him a hug.
"That's brilliant, Moony. You were the best Defence professor we ever had," he said as he warmly embraced his 'uncle'.
"Most definitely, Professor Lupin," Hermione added, shaking his hand when Harry let go. Remus went to reprimand her for calling him that, but she spoke before he had a chance to. "You are a professor again, and perhaps you will be mine, so it is appropriate to call you such." Everyone laughed at the pair. Ginny and Luna both hugged him, the second genuinely surprising the older gent with the action. The rest of the students congratulated him in their own way, and they were returning to their seats when the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it," Maggie happily offered, quickly standing and exiting the room.
"So, what will you be teaching, Professor Lupin?" Hermione asked and even he laughed at how proudly she spoke his name.
"I'm teaching about dark creatures and how to defend against them. The class is an elective for senior cycle students," he explained. There was a hush in the room, and while no one brought it up, the thought that he, especially, should know rippled through the minds of those gathered. Deciding it was better to face the issue head on, Remus answered their unspoken question. "Yes, they know I'm a werewolf and it doesn't matter. Ireland's attitude is quite different from the one at home, and as long as I don't bite anyone my condition is irrelevant. In fact, Headmaster MacLiam considered it an honour they have someone with my affliction teaching the class as I could explain what goes on in the mind of a werewolf better than anyone."
"I could have told them," Sirius said mockingly. "Squirrel, run, catch. Bird, jump, catch. Black dog, run, tackle. Scratch, scratch. Ooh, new black dog, run tackle. His mind just jumps from one thing to another." Some of the students in the know laughed, while others just looked perplexed.
"How would you know what he does as a werewolf?" Daphne asked. "Aren't werewolves dangerous to humans?"
"Only if the human smells like food," a tinkling voice said from the doorway and everyone turned to see the small woman entering the room. "With Sirius, he usually smells like feet and old butterbeer. He's even unappetising to a werewolf." Remus, Maggie and Harry laughed at Sirius' expense.
"Klytië Dawnsla, what a pleasure to see you again," Sirius rose from his chair and walked to where his old friend was standing with his girlfriend. He kissed both her cheeks before taking her hand and placing it on his crooked arm to lead her. "Students, this is Klytië. She is a dear friend of Maggie, Remus and me and will be tutoring in Divination." He walked her to his seat, the one next to Remus, and let her sit. He gave his mate a knowing grin and went to sit on floor in front of Maggie.
Remus leaned over and took her hand and kissed the top of it. "It's quite wonderful to see you again. Would you like me to introduce you to the kids?"
"It's always a pleasure to see you, Remus. As for the students, I believe they're old enough to introduce themselves. Harry," she turned to where he was sitting, "how have you been?"
"Very good, Miss Dawnsla. I'm enjoying the quiet and anonymity of Ireland," he replied.
"While I'm happy you're finding life more to your liking, you are to call me Klytië, as are all of you. I see Ginny is by your side; it's good to see you too," Klytië said with a gentle tone. Her eyes were darting up and down, back and forth, as if she was assessing something with her eyes. The clouded, white irises left no doubt that she was blind, however.
Hermione had a difficult time reconciling these two facts. She started to raise her hand, but then realised how foolish it would be. "Er, excuse me, Miss Klytië?"
"My name is Hermione and I'm assuming by your clouded eyes you're blind, yet you're looking at people when you speak to them. I can't figure out how you know where they are. Did Maggie tell you where people were sitting or is Professor Lupin whispering in your ear? I don't understand -"
"Hermione, how really rude of you," Ginny cut her friend off. Hermione shrunk back, embarrassed at her being rebuked by her friend.
"Ginny, it's quite alright, I wasn't offended. Hermione, please don't feel poorly, I appreciate someone who asks questions outright, rather than whispering behind my back or talking around what they want to know. Yes, I'm blind in the conventional sense, however I can see with my third-eye and it lets me know who I'm speaking to," the pale witch explained.
"You're quite sceptical by nature, aren't you, Hermione? Inquisitive, but sceptical," Klytië observed and the others sniggered. "I see I've described you accurately, at least if your friends reaction is any indication. I see people's auras, which helps me know who I am talking to and where they are located. When I look at someone, I also get flashes of them, specifically if they are particularly gifted in magic. I can see bits of a person's past, or if their future is remarkable in some way."
"Really? Can you honestly see something about my past or future?" Hermione followed up.
"I can. Would you like me to share it with you?"
"Perhaps. Answer a question for me first?" Hermione demanded rather than asked and Klytië nodded her head, a restrained smile pulling at her lips. "How do I know what you're about to say is really my future and not just something you're making up?"
Ginny swatted her girlfriend for her boorish behaviour; no one could believe what Hermione was saying. There were several remarks of agreement with Ginny. Even Sirius was giving the bushy brown-haired girl a look.
"Really, Ginny, it's quite okay. Hermione has never been exposed to true Divination. I know Sybil Trelawney and if she were my only exposure, I'd be sceptical too. Most of you have grown up in magical households, and probably have at least one relative who is gifted in one or more skills which make up the noble art. Harry, while being Muggle-born as well, had a very different type of first exposure, so he'd had an easier time believing. How about if I tell you something I see in your past, something I'd have no way of knowing if it wasn't through prognostication? Would you believe me then?"
Hermione thought about it for a moment. "Please don't make it anything embarrassing."
"Never, that would be abusing my gift," the blind witch replied. "I see you at home, sitting on what I believe would be your parents' bed, and your mother is brushing out your hair. You've just told her there is a boy you fancy, but you're convinced he doesn't even know you're a girl. Your mother drops the brush and pleads for more information which you happily give her," Klytië announces and Hermione looks at her horrified. "Don't worry, I'm not going to say anything else I heard."
"Good, I'd be mortified if you did," Hermione said without thinking. A second later it was like she had a light bulb go off. "Wait, that was last summer, and it happened exactly like that. How did you know?"
"As I explained, when I look at someone I can see bits about their past, their present and their future. The snippets are especially strong if they've made an important decision or if their choice is somehow prophetic in nature. Do you believe me now?"
"Absolutely," Hermione said resolutely. "Does this work with everyone? Do you see the future or the past more often?"
"Hermione," Remus interjected, "why don't you wait until later to ask your questions. I'm sure the rest of your housemates are interested in finding out what classes they're enrolled in. I'm quite shocked that you seem to have forgotten as well."
"Oh, er, yes, I did forget. I can't believe I forgot about school," she mumbled.
"Neither can we," Neville added and everyone laughed.
The rest of the students introduced themselves to Klytië and she explained that since there was a conflict with the senior cycle first level Divination class and senior cycle second level Transfigurations class, she would be teaching them at home.
"Actually, there's a slight change there too, lovey," Sirius interrupted her. "We're going to be using Stargazer's Summit for Divination, as well as Astronomy.
"Really?" Harry questioned. He hadn't heard about this change. "Is it safe for us to be in the UK?"
"Harry, you spent an entire morning there last week, and no one came to hunt you down. I've strengthened the charms and protections due to my house guests as well. I'm quite certain it's safe," Sirius assured him.
"Speaking of your house guests, have you spoken with them lately?" Astoria asked and Sirius smiled at the youngest student in the house.
"I have, and they're fine," he answered, giving the girl a wink as well. Astoria nodded and blushed while her sister nudged her knowingly. In the spirit of not keeping secrets, the whole house knew Mrs Malfoy and Draco were staying at Sirius' house. He'd also warned them they might have tutoring sessions with him, but they would always be at Stargazer's Summit and either Remus or he would be there to observe. Draco wouldn't get away with any of his previous rudeness or bullying behaviour.
"Well, then, without further adieu, here are your timetables," Remus said as he pulled them from within his robes pocket. Sirius and Maggie shared a look, enjoying their friend's lighter mood. Whether it was caused by his finally securing a job without having to lie about his lycanthropy or if it was the woman he was smitten with sitting next to him mattered not.
Remus called out each of names and the student came forward to find out which classes they qualified for, and then the recommendation for which should be started immediately, which needed tutoring to bring them up to senior level standards, and which were eliminated due to time constraints or irrelevancy due to career aspirations.
"Gin, honey, do we have any classes together?" Harry asked, leaning over to look at his girlfriend's timetable. "Why is your schedule so blank? Aren't you taking classes?"
"After a lot of discussions with Headmaster MacLiam and Maggie, I decided to take a transitional term," she explained. "I'm a year younger than you and face it, my first year was a bit of a messed-up blur. I'm not where I should be. Doing this will help me be better prepared to retake the examinations in August."
"Oh," Harry said sadly. "You're still going to be at the Academy with the rest of us, right?"
"I think so," Ginny answered. "Sirius, can you explain all that to us?"
"Sure," Sirius said as he stood up, his knees popping and creaking as he did. He was happy he'd be seeing his healer tomorrow to find out what could be done to help him. Moving to where Remus and Klytië were standing, Sirius chose to sit on the marble end table next to Remus' chair.
"Sirius Black," a reprimanding voice came from out of nowhere, "your bottom does not belong on my great-great-grandmother's table. That was a gift from her father when she married. He crafted it himself. You're a strapping young lad and you will move a proper chair in! Have I made myself clear?"
By the end of her tirade, everyone was looking at Prudence Potter's image. She was seated next to Eldon in a lovely drawing room; it was probably a formal portrait when they sat for it. She looked every bit as irritated as she sounded, and every person—witch, wizard, alive or dead—was laughing at the tall Marauder's predicament.
"Sorry, Grammy Prudence," Sirius apologised, his face a bright strawberry shade.
"Sirius, why don't you take my seat?" Klytië proposed. "When it's time for me to talk, we can switch again." Sirius smiled in a thankful way; she'd always been good at diffusing overly emotional situations, even if the emotion is embarrassment.
"Come take my seat, Klytië?" Harry jumped off the sofa and quickly came to take her arm. "I'll just sit on the floor," he said loudly. "That way Ginny can play with my hair easier," he whispered and the witch giggled as they crossed the room.
"She is the one, Harry," Klytië told him in an equally hushed tone. "You've got to go slow, though. You're both still young and have long, long lives ahead of you." It was Harry's turn to smile now. He'd always worried about that loving someone when death hovered over you like a dark cloud.
"Is that something you're sure of?"
"Absolutely, Harry. I see you old, wrinkled and with Ginny by your side." Harry kissed her hand as he got her situated next to Maggie and then dropped down in front of Ginny, who immediately put her hand into his hair and began to massage his scalp. Happiness was just busting out all over the little Potter cottage this afternoon.
"Headmaster MacLiam told me that you'll always be at the Academy for those blocks of term, although you might not always be together," Remus explained. "There are some lessons all transition term students take as a group—like money management and house-keeping charms. There will also be times where you'll be in small groups for core subject lessons like potions. Is that what you wanted to know, Ginny?"
"Pretty much," she answered. "Wait, if we're going to have potions lessons at the Academy, does that mean we don't have to take them at home?"
"Most definitely not," Lily interjected. "None of you were even proficient for the number of years you'd been at school. You all will be taking lessons with me, but they're going to be at Maggie's family home, as they have a large potions lab there. Why that man gave Severus the job I'll never know," she then muttered.
"Yes, dear," James said patting his wife's hand. "I don't think we should talk about Snape's shortcomings in front of the students."
"Don't worry about us, Mr Potter," Luna said. "We all knew Professor Snape's head was full of nargles. His infestation was so widespread I think it's a miracle we learned anything at all. His brain must look like a mole rat lair."
"What's a nargle?" Susan whispered to Hannah who shrugged. Ginny put her hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh, something neither of the boys did. Remus, Maggie and Sirius smirked, becoming accustomed to the girl's odd behaviour.
"Luna, you're amazing and wonderful," Harry said with a warm, genuine tone and smile.
"I know, but thank you for saying it," she replied dreamily.
"Anyway," Remus said to regain control of the conversation. "Four of you have chosen to take the transition term," he continued. "Ginny, Susan, Hannah and Astoria, before we move on to the others' timetables and discussing the tutoring to be done at home, would you share why you made this decision?"
"Erm, as I said, I need some extra work to get to fourth year level in my core subjects. I did well in Magical Creatures and Astronomy, but Potions, Transfigurations, Charms and Defence were piss poor. I told Sirius I'd like to take the Astronomy tutoring classes at night, and I'm going do all the other home tutored lessons. I'm glad I did this, I've always hated feeling like I was missing something," Ginny explained.
"I'm a bit like Ginny," Susan said, going next. "My core subjects weren't as good as I expected. In fact, I could only brew potions at a second year level. Stupid Snape," she growled out the last two words. "Since the opportunity was given to brush up, I knew I should take it. Also, unlike some of you, I have no idea what I'd like to do when I grow up, except that I don't want to go into politics. Watching Aunt Amelia has convinced me of that."
"Huh?" Hermione piped up. "I thought you liked all that Ministry intrigue and stuff."
"Not at all," Susan replied.
"You know, you're really good at fashion and stuff," Daphne spoke up. "That skirt you made me, out of my old robes, it's very pretty."
"Thanks, I'm glad you like it," Susan said with a blush. "I've been doing stuff like that since I was a kid. You know, I had so much fun making my own clothes out of my Auntie's cast-offs that I skived out of shopping for new things."
"Maybe there is a career in there, Susan," Maggie suggested. "Sure, there's Madame Malkin's for your robes and Twilfitt and Tatting's if you're rich, old and stuffy. Gladrags is good, but their stuff is very conventional and conservative. A shop for the young and hip could do really well." There were murmurs from the girls agreeing with Maggie's assessment of the shops.
"I definitely agree," Klytië added with a nod, causing Susan to blush more. She wasn't used to being complimented on the one thing she truly enjoyed.
"Hmm, that's something to think about for sure," the brunette answered. Harry definitely thought the happiness thing was spreading.
"I'm just too young to start my senior cycle classes," Astoria said brightly and with enthusiasm. "I didn't want to be the only one in the junior cycle, so we agreed I'd work extra hard with my tutors this term and over the summer and if I pass my exams, then I can start senior cycle a bit early. I already know what I want to do when I grow up," she continued. "I want to be scribe and translate ancient documents."
"Wow," Ginny said, impressed. "It must be nice to know what you want to do at what, thirteen?"
"Actually, I just turned fourteen, but you had no way of knowing when my birthday was. As for the job, I've known since I was seven and went to visit my Uncle Scriptor at his office. He was translating some really old-looking tablet into English and it was so cool. After that I knew it was what I wanted to. He's even agreed to take me on as his partner and eventually give me his business, when he wants to retire."
"Again, wow," Ginny mumbled.
"I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Astoria had the highest marks in her Ancient Runes and Languages exam, and qualified for six senior cycle language classes," Remus added and the group clapped for the youngest. Astoria didn't shrink from the attention like Susan had, but she wasn't an attention seeker either. It simply seemed the youngest of their group was comfortable in her skin.
When the applause died down, Hannah nervously waited to make sure it was fine for her speak. Neville reached over and took her hand, giving it a squeeze to encourage her.
"Er, I'm doing the transitional term because I'm just not sure I'm good enough at everything to be here with all of you, or in the same classes with you, or ... I don't know," she squeaked out before falling silent.
"Hannah, you most certainly belong here," Harry told her. "I picked you to be part of our group. You're important and I'll tell you why; you listen, really listen. I can always count on you to remind me of what I've forgotten or tell me when I've gotten something wrong. I rely on you for that. Also, because you listen, you know people and if they're being fake or real. It's something I respect you for."
Hannah dipped her head, unable to even look at anyone, even Neville or Susan. Her blush was so vast and so deep it went from her hairline to where her neck dipped inside her blouse and deeper than the filling of the cherry pie she'd baked for supper. "I didn't know," she whispered.
"Now you do," Harry said gently, yet with assurance. He didn't have doubts in Hannah, he wanted her not to have them either.
"Hannah, do you know what you'd like to do with your life, when you leave the Academy I mean?" Klytië asked. The blonde girl shook her head, not looking at the older witch. "Well, sweet girl, I keep having visions of you surrounded by very young children, maybe three or four years of age. Lots of them, and they love you very much."
"Really?" she asked, lifting her head up, excited. "I've actually thought about becoming a teacher," she confessed.
"You'd be wonderful at it," Neville told her, his arm quickly going around her to give a sort of sideways hug.
"Thanks, Neville," she said before dropping her head again.
Several looks were shared around the room, wondering if the two would become a couple. Pangs of jealousy strummed deep within Hermione. It wasn't that she wanted Neville as a boyfriend, she didn't; he would always be more of a friend than anything else. No, she just wished a boy, any boy, would show interest in her. Unbeknownst to her, another girl in the room was thinking the exact same thing.
"Remus, it's already half three," Maggie said after looking at the clock. "How about if we go do our shopping and then we can discuss the other's schedules and the tutoring classes after supper?"
"Sounds fine," he answered. "I have a few teaching supplies I need, as well as picking up my uniforms."
"Ooh, are you wearing the kilt? I'm sure your knobbly knees will look fabulous, peeking out from under your skirt," Sirius teased. Remus leaned over and swatted his friend in the head.
"No kilts just yet," Remus explained. "I'll need them in the spring, and I'll spend my gold then."
"Can't wait, can we Prongs?" Padfoot continued to taunt.
"Better him than you," James answered from his frame. "Knowing you, there'd be nothing under the kilt and you'd provide some rather scandalous views. Your hairy arse is the thing of nightmares!"
The adults laughed, even as the kids were scrambling from the room with mock screams of horror. Actually, they went to grab their cloaks and moneybags. Suddenly Klytië's eyes went wide and her face white.
"I don't know which of you had a memory of seeing Sirius that way, but I can see why you're frightened by it. You do know, Sirius, there are charms to help with that furry little problem of yours," she said. The gents laughed even harder, as she used the code name from Remus' lycanthropy from school, unwittingly.
When everyone was ready, they went to the back garden and Maggie pulled out her Auror issued Portkey lasso, and made sure the group was entirely inside the gold chain before setting the timer to go off in a minute. The lassos were a recent addition to the Auror standard issue kit, as it was a far better way to move a whole group of folks away from a crime scene or other event. She had no qualms about using it for their group. Remus had a firm hold on Klytië while Daphne held onto her younger sister, just to be safe. Less than a minute later the group was in the field at the end of the major shopping area in Killarney.
Two groups broke off, Remus and Sirius taking Astoria, Luna, Susan, Neville and Hannah to the clothier and then to the Pensieve shop to pick up the lessons Sirius had ordered for Draco. Maggie and Klytië lead the second group: Harry, Ginny, Daphne and Hermione, to the office supply store and grocers before everyone would meet at the bookstore to purchase the last few texts needed. The women had their heads together, giggling as if they were school girls themselves, as they lead the sextet. Harry and Ginny walked hand in hand, stopping at different windows to daydream about what they saw there. Daphne and Hermione fell into step with each other, often passing Harry and Ginny and then having the couple catch up to only fall behind again.
"I swear we're going to lose them," Hermione whispered, concerned for her friends. She didn't feel human if she wasn't worrying about something.
"You know, he's an adult, Hermione. You don't need to keep tabs on him," Daphne suggested and Hermione shrugged. She had no desire to get into the subject of Harry with someone she barely knew. She felt duty bound to worry about Harry.
The pair of girls was quiet for a while, getting close enough to hear the conversation between Maggie and Klytië. They were, naturally, talking about the men. Daphne didn't want to hear about romance anymore, so she dropped back, bringing herself face to face with a snogging Harry and Ginny.
"What is it with everyone?" she said in a frustrated whisper. "Must they shove their relationships in the face of those of us who don't have them?"
"Definitely," Hermione agreed in a hushed tone. "I'm glad Harry and Ginny are together, but really, I don't want to see his tongue down her throat."
"Exactly. Everybody seems to be paired off. Susan has Dean Thomas back at school and Luna was hot and heavy with Morag McDougal and even Astoria has caught the eye of Draco!"
"Wait," Hermione said stopping. "I'm not sure which of those couples surprises me more. I knew about Dean and Susan, but I guess I didn't realise they were still together?" Hermione muttered while contemplating the three couples.
"They're still writing, and Dean is going to spend the Easter break at her Auntie's place with her," Daphne said.
"How are they writing? Sirius said owls wouldn't be able to find us here," Hermione asked, nervous about the enchantments protecting them.
"Dean sends the letters to Madam Bones at the Ministry and then she scans them before sending them along with the other messages she needs to send. Only her owl can come to the house, and even then she disguises it as different birds," Daphne explained. "How did you not know this?"
"I've been studying a lot."
"Well, I'd say you need to get your face out of your books and pay attention to what's going on around you. We have a whole lot more fun here than we did at Hogwarts. No Umbridge to punish us or a creepy potions professor who doesn't bathe regularly or even other students wanting to hex us. Last night we were watching silent movies with Sirius and Maggie and they kept charming each other to do silly voices to go along with the action. I swear I haven't laughed that hard in … Well, I can't remember when."
Hermione studied the other girl, surprised at how approachable the Ice Princess of Slytherin was. "I'm sorry I missed that," she confessed. "You're a lot nicer than you were at Hogwarts."
"I could say the same about you," Daphne replied, feeling a bit irritated at the other girl. "You looked down your nose at anyone who wasn't Harry or Ron. I've heard you singing while you're doing your chores. You have a pretty voice. You also look quite lovely with your new hair charms."
Hermione's hand went to her curly, usually untamed locks. "Thanks. Maggie taught me how to keep the curls tighter and more controlled. I never knew you had such beautiful eyes. There aren't many people with violet eyes."
"My mum has them, too. It's a Fortescue trait."
"Fortescue? Like the ice cream place on Diagon Alley?"
"Florean is my great uncle. My grandmother, Isobel, is partners with him, although she rarely goes in anymore. She works at home, creating new flavours." Daphne was proud of her family, on both sides.
"I've learned more about you in five minutes than I did in nearly five years of school with you," Hermione admitted and Daphne agreed.
"Well, since we seem to be the only ones without boyfriends, why don't we stick together once we're at school? Maybe your hair or my eyes will make boys want to approach us?" Daphne suggested with a smile and a bit of mischief in her eyes.
"I think that sounds grand," Hermione agreed. They realised they were standing outside the bookstore, and the others were coming back out, all the errands taken care of. Maggie returned the group to the cottage the same way as they'd come. The dinner prep group set out to prepare supper and the five students beginning their senior cycle sat together, comparing their timetables.
"Okay, we all have Transfigurations and Charms together," Hermione said. "Most of us have Defence together and at least two of us are in the other classes; except for your medical training classes, Daphne. I didn't know you wanted to be a healer?"
"It wasn't something I'd really thought about, to be fair. I figured I'd go to work with Mummy in the shop or go to work at the Ministry. It wasn't until I went to discuss my examination results with the professors at the Academy and they brought up the idea that I really considered it. When Daddy was here to drop off Astoria I talked with him. He said the idea was wonderful and he was so proud of me." Daphne's violet eyes danced as she talked about it. It was hard to see this girl as the same one who never smiled at Hogwarts.
"We're proud of you too, Daphne," Neville said. "You're courageous for doing this, right out of the box and all."
"Thanks, Neville," the raven haired girl said.
"We are proud of you," Harry added. "So, how does this work? You go to hospital one day a week for how long?"
"It's one day a week for the first year, two the second and three for the third. When I'm done with schooling I'll have one more year of training and then I'll begin my practical rounds as an assistant healer. When I'm ready, I'll take the board certification examinations and if I pass I'll be a fully recognised and licensed healer," she explained, barely able to keep her excitement contained.
"Wow," Luna said. "You'll be well into your career before most of us even are started with our training."
"That's not quite true, is it Harry?" Daphne raised her eyebrows under her fringe. She and Harry had shared the meeting with the headmaster concerning career training.
"I wasn't going to say anything, at least not yet, since I don't start until the fall," Harry said and the other three sets of eyes turned to his bottle green ones.
"Spill it, Potter," Hermione demanded. "What did you get yourself into this time?"
"It's not like that, Hermione," Harry began to explain. "I'm not in your Defence class. I'll be with the oldest senior cycle students. At the end of term, I'll take my practical exams and then come fall I'll be training with the Auror department part-time." Harry sounded embarrassed as he told them.
"Bloody hell, Harry, that's brilliant," Neville complimented him as Hermione leaned over and threw herself into his arms.
"Harry, I always knew you were good with this stuff, I mean you taught us all with the DA, but Auror school? You're only going to be sixteen. Are you sure this is what you want?" Hermione asked, worried he'd been talked into something he didn't really want.
"I gave this lots thought, Hermione, and yes it's what I want. My dad and Sirius were partners, and they were good. Mum was telling me stories and I just decided I wanted to be like them. If I could save just one person, then it would be worth it," he explained. A noise came from the portrait on the wall above them, and they looked up to see James Potter beaming while staring at his son. He'd sat down in the chair his grandmother had been in earlier, so he could listen to their conversation.
"You want to do this … because of me?" he asked gobsmacked. Harry stood to look at his father, face to face. Harry's mum had slipped into the picture and was standing behind her husband, her hand on his shoulder, giving it a loving squeeze.
"Yeah," Harry plainly answered. "I can't think of a better reason than to emulate you, Dad. I want to grow up and be like you in every way I can."
"Harry," James eked out, overcome with emotion. Neville looked at Harry and sighed. He wished he could have the chance to speak with his father, even if it was only through a portrait. This thought made him sympathise with his friend, and looked to the girls, indicating they should leave. The quartet slipped out, leaving the Potters to their conversation.
"Oh, Harry," Lily said through her tears. "You've already made us proud, with all you've done and how strong you are."
"Thanks, Mum. I try."
"Yes, you do, and that is all any of us can do. Live a good life and try to be our best," James said, in control of his emotions.
Harry nodded, unable to say more due to his emotions now. He felt overwhelmed by the knowledge that he'd made the right choice, not because it made his parents happy—although it had—but rather that he'd done what was best for him.