A/N Hi there, Thank you to all those who have reviewed, it really has helped keep this story going. Here is the next chapter, I hope you like it and please keep reviewing as they are such a great help.
Chapter 14: The Decision and The Challenge
The eight other Marauders were stunned by the forthright and determined statement that Harry had just made before as they all sat round the kitchen table at Godric’s Hollow. Each and every one of them just couldn’t believe that Harry would just turn around and accept this so willingly.
The only ones who were not so surprised were his parents. Both James and Lily knew deep down this was going to happen and were sure that Harry would react this way. It was James who was the first to break the silent revere that had taken hold over the normally loud and happy kitchen of Godric’s Hollow.
“Son, I am very proud of you, but I will have to put my foot down and say if you go, we all go. You have said it yourself before, we are a group, a team, a group of friends and right now is not the time for you to go of on your own back to the real world as you put it” stated James evenly despite the overwhelming emotion that was coursing through his veins at that very moment.
“But dad you will need to train the others. You were the best Auror in the business. They need you here”
“No Harry we will not need your dad here as we will ALL be going with you to the order” voiced Ginny.
“But nothing son we are going; besides it is perhaps best that we show a united front in support of the order, especially Remus and Tonks here.”
“Ok very well we will all go, but Mum; dad isn’t it a little dangerous for you to come along. I don’t think we really want the world knowing you are back just yet.”
“True son and James and Lily Potter will not be joining you. Instead our alter egos Andy and Catherine Baker will be accompanying the rest of you”
“But the questions”
“Right of course the back story to our characters. Well let’s see. Andy Baker is a 37 year old wizard who was home schooled and has spent the last 20 years living in a secluded spot away from Britain on an island called Jersey. I have spent this time living as a muggle working as a school teacher at a small secondary school called Stanley Technical. I teach History and am keenly interested in the events which led up to the Second World War.
I met my beautiful wife Catherine 18 years ago at an Italian restaurant and it was love at first sight. Catherine is also a teacher and a witch or like me went into hiding as Voldemort rose up. She teaches Maths at the same school as me, we have been married 13 years but we have no children as we didn’t want to bring children up in the muggle world.
Anyway that is that, it should be enough to appease the Order, they have met us before so we know the glamour spell is good enough. So Harry when do you want to leave, what is the plan and what decision have you taken?” asked James turning to his son.
“Well I think we will go in a couple of weeks. I will write a letter explaining that I will be coming back to discuss the offer but that I have a few things to clear up and do before I do so” Harry answered before continuing.
“The few things I want to do is get the training started. I think we have relaxed enough now and basically if it is alright with Dad and Tonks I hope they will lead the sessions and get us up to near Auror level.
It will be hard work but I know myself, Ginny, Hermione, Luna and Neville are all fast learners and I am sure that Mum and Remus are not that far away. I would also like us to perform as a team on the most part, so a focus on that would be good. Does that sound ok to everyone?”
“Cool Harry you will make a great leader and teacher in the future you know” replied Remus giving him a very knowing and proud smile.
“Yeah Harry mate, that is a good idea but are you actually going to accept the offer from the Order?” asked Neville.
“No I will not be accepting the offer. I can’t what I have to do is more important than running the order. I will be asking for their help but other than that I want it to remain as us nine. Is that ok with you though?” answered Harry.
“Whatever you feel is best son. I know you don’t like being head honcho but I think we have all made it quiet clear that we will be following you until the end….Then I will have to show you who is in charge!” replied James.
“Oh is that right Father! Huh I look forward to seeing your attempt!”
“STOP IT YOU TWO AT ONCE” screamed Lily. “HOW DARE YOU BEHAVE LIKE TWO INSOLENT CHILDREN WHEN WE ARE HAVING A SERIOUS CONVERSION”
“Sorry mum” replied Harry very sheepishly whilst winking at his dad.
“Anyway now that has been decided shall we head downstairs and start training or are we going now?” asked Lily once James and Harry had settled down.
“Yeah follow me friends” answered James as he led the other Marauders down to the Room of Requirement like basement at Godric’s Hollow and entered thinking about a large room with Defence books and enough space to really move about and learn. He and Tonks then went up and stood in front of the other seven and James whispered something to Tonks who nodded and stepped back a little giving James prominence.
“Right as some of you will know I was in my day a Auror and a little known fact was before I had to go into hiding I was about to be promoted to the elite squad. Therefore Tonks has suggested that I lead you through an abridged version of the Auror training programme. We will obviously leave out all the theory you have to go through in the first two years and head into the practical elements. So first things first I will have you going through a physical challenge in order to see where about you are in terms of your fitness, stamina and strength. This will be purely physical and is the basic entry requirement into the Auror programme. It is difficult but it is possible and we can’t really move onto spells, hexes, curses and other areas until everyone has passed this challenge.”
“Er Mr Potter why won’t we be able to move on until we have passed?” asked Neville.
“Good question and please call me James or Prongs. The reason why we can’t go any further is simple. If you are not up to this physical test then you are not stronger enough to be able to cope with the spells, hexes etc that we will be teaching. For you see to be strong at magic, you need to have a focused mind and also you must have a certain level of fitness especially when dealing with curses and spells used when duelling. I know you will all think I’m crazy but trust me on this ok” answered James.
After James said this he focused his mind back to the time when he was just starting out his Auror training literally days after graduating from Hogwarts. He focused intently on the large physical challenge that was set and thought hard in order to recreate that in the room. He opened up his eyes and saw that he was successful. He looked at the awe in the faces of the seven and especially looked at Harry who looked amazed but at the same time seemed so determined to pass it. James felt so immensely proud as he watched his son take in the site before him.
He quickly looked at the others and evaluated their chances of success. He knew that His darling wife Lily would easily pass the challenge first time as she was one of the strongest, most determined and athletic woman James had ever seen. Also in her favour was the fact that she had done it before not to become an Auror but to challenge herself and prove a point all those years ago.
Next he evaluated his long time friend Remus. Again he felt that there would be no real problem with Remus completing it as long as he had kept reasonably fit over the last 16 odd years. The only concern was how being subjected to the transformation of a werewolf every full moon would impact upon his physical state, but James was sure that Remus would have kept himself in good shape in order to get through this.
Next came Neville. From what he had seen and heard about his exploits recently James had absolutely no fear about Neville not passing this. In fact if the reports were true then Neville was far beyond the minimum level of an Auror already. As James thought about Neville he remembered his good friend and partner in the Law Enforcement Squad Frank Longbottom. James remembered how strong and powerful Frank was and could see a great many similarities between Father and Son. He also vowed to do everything possible to return Frank and Alice as good as new.
Next in James’s thoughts was the young girl Luna. James really didn’t know much about the little blonde girl other than that she was a little quirky but a very funny and loyal friend. She was also a Ravenclaw but apart from that James knew next to nothing. Therefore James couldn’t really make a judgement although he thought she would be a likely candidate to failing.
The same could be said about Hermione. James felt that there was no way that she could pass this straight away. According to everything he knew about her was her reliance and belief in books. James knew therefore that she would undoubtedly over think things and that would therefore distract her from the task. He felt that her instincts and reflexes would be too slow and therefore started to plan her training in his mind.
Then he turned his thoughts to Ginny Weasley and he inwardly smiled. James could not have imagined a better match for his son that this fiery young red head. James could see a lot of Lily in her as well. She was a smart, determined, beautiful, fiery, loyal, loving and caring with an amazing temper. Yes definitely like Lily. James knew there would be no trouble with Ginny passing the challenge first time. She was already a very powerful witch and was very fit as well as possessing a fierce determination to succeed and above all else a desire to prove herself capable in the eyes of Harry. Yes so much like Lily James thought as he smiled again to himself.
Then finally James’s thoughts turned to his son, Harry Potter. There was no doubt that Harry would breeze through this challenge without any problem. He was already James thought a very skilled and powerful young wizard who could probably match the best in terms of raw power. As he looked at his son James felt pride, love and deep regret at not being there for him. “He is the most amazing young man I think I have ever met. He is more than I could possibly imagine my son could be and there is no doubt that he will achieve so many great things” thought James as he then turned to whisper to Tonks
“You should go first show them how to do it ok” to which the pink haired witch smiled and nodded as she then headed to the start.
“Now as you can see the challenge is set. You will meet many obstacles and many tests of a physical nature. In order to give you some idea of what is expected my lovely assistant Tonks will run the gauntlet so to speak first.”
All eyes turned to Tonks who was staring straight in front at what looked to be a very large obstacle course. Tonks starting to run over a very sandy floor she sprinted towards a 10 ft wall made of red brick which she jumped up onto and clambered up to the top before jumping from the top down onto the grassy side on the other side of the wall.
As she landed she crouched down to brace the fall and in one swift motion was running at full tilt up a very steep grassy hill. She continued up without slowing for about a mile until she came to revolving blades which were swinging viciously from one side to the other. Tonks stopped and took in the motion, pace and direction of the blades before moving forward very cautiously before ducking and weaving through the blades only pausing slightly as she waited for the perfect moment to move pass each blade.
After successfully passing all 5 large blades Tonks came to a large downward slope which she immediately recognised as the Ice tunnel. She quickly leaped down landing on her bottom as she slid down the tunnel, dodging and swerving to avoid the large boulders of snow which cropped up every 100 or so metres.
Harry and the others were watching in stunned silence as they saw Tonks climb the wall almost effortlessly and the way she ran up the hill without stopping was an awesome feat of endurance. Hermione and Luna both winced at the swinging blades and looked very nervous about having to face that whilst Neville and Remus along with Lily, Ginny and Harry was astounded by the timing, agility and composure that Tonks had shown.
As the others were thinking about what Tonks had done the Auror herself was thinking exactly how she was going to stop herself in time from the slide before hitting the snow wall that was looming every so large. She quickly put her hands down into the freezing snow, lifted up her legs before swinging them down into the snow to create some drag. She fought against the slide as she gradually slowed herself to the point where she was hardly moving.
Once she had almost stopped she in one movement flipped herself up back onto her feet before promptly falling over again in a fit of clumsiness. Tonks could hear the others laughing and quickly got back to her feet and ran thinking “I’ll show them”.
She ran at breakneck speed towards the next challenge in her way. It was a huge lake about 2 miles wide which she instantly dived into and began swimming. It took her nearly 2 hours of solid swimming before she finally made it to the other side. Exhausted she slowly caught her breath and dried herself of before heading of in the direction of the course.
The next challenge was a much more physical task than any before. There stood in front were large men waiting for Tonks. Slowly she moved forward taking in the three combatants before her. The first was the biggest standing at about 6”5 with a huge frame, who looked like one of those Muggle Rugby players she had seen on the television. Tonks weighed him up and realised quite quickly that he would be a little slow and cumbersome. Tonks realised she could use some raid like attacks on this first opponent.
Tonks suddenly flew at him with a flying kick which took him completely by surprise and knocked him down. She quickly followed this up with a hard kick to the head as he fell. Tonks noticed straight away that he was bleeding profusely but was still conscious. Very quickly and methodically Tonks quickly broke both his legs by snapping his ankles and knees as well as administering 5 very carefully placed kicks in vital areas which left him immobile.
Tonks left him behind and headed on to the next waiting challenger. He was slightly smaller in height by about half a foot and no where near as wide and sturdy but looked far speedier and agile and Tonks realised that the quick and unexpected attack would not be effective against him. Moving forward with a lot more caution she approached. The opponent sensing an attack crouched down into a fighting pose and waited for the first move. Tonks took in his stance and made a decision.
Harry and the others watched in amazement at how quick and methodical Tonks was in dispatching the first assailant. They were all shocked at the vicious nature of the attack but all made a mental note about exactly what was done in anticipation of what was to come. They watched as she moved onto the next opponent and weigh him up. They watched as the assailant went into a text book fighting pose waiting for Tonks to make her move.
In an instant Tonks had leapt in the air and landed perfectly behind the opponent and landed a kick straight to the back of the head. The attacker staggered before quickly righting himself again and he easily dodged Tonks’s next lunge. What the attacker didn’t see was that she was following up with flying punch which connected fully with his nose. The blood was pouring as he screamed in pain as that was then followed up with a knee to the face, another kick to the gut before the final flurry of punches which finally knocked the last attacker out. Tonks then started to the long run back to the start where she collapsed in front of James and bent down and said
“I am never doing that again” to which everyone laughed.
As Tonks was slowly catching her breathe James quickly cast a refreshing spell on her which immediately perked her up. James then gathered round the other 7 and waited for some quiet as they were all murmuring to one another.
“Right that is what will have to be done. It isn’t easy but any means but it is achievable. I know some of you are thinking how the hell are we going to be able to beat two men in unarmed combat? Well the answer was there in Tonks’s performance. Remember how she went about it and you should be fine. This is predominantly a physical test and not a combat test and a clue is in that as well. I will be sending you in at 10 minute intervals. This should give each and everyone of you enough time to stay ahead but if not there are spells which will stop either of you from interfering in each others challenge” James told the group.
“I will send the girls in first, so Lily, then Ginny, then Luna and finally Hermione if that is alright” to which the four remaining girls nodded.
“Then I will send in the boys, Remus first, Neville second and finally Harry. So without further delay, Lily my love are you ready? Ok of you go.”
Lily set of and was quickly followed by Ginny, Luna and Hermione and then the men with Remus, Neville and Harry following on at their allotted time. With all seven in the challenge perimeters James and Tonks huddled together for a quick chat.
“Well Tonks was it as hard as you remembered?”
“Yes actually probably harder now, I think us Aurors have got lazy.”
“I don’t doubt it at all. Now tell me who do you think will fail first?” James asked curious as to see if he had judged them correctly.
“Mmmmm I don’t think any of the guys will fail it, in fact I think they will almost beat the record. I mean Neville and Harry are right up there with some of the best in terms of physical prowess and Remus would have made a great Auror if it wasn’t for his condition. As for the girls, well Lily will have no trouble, same with Ginny although I have a horrible feeling that Luna and Hermione will struggle, although Luna might just surprise us” Tonks answered.
“Yes that is basically how I saw it going. Now tell me do you think they will realise all they need to do to defeat the two men is speed, timing, agility and strength?”
“I don’t know, I think Harry and Neville will automatically fight that way and as much as I hate to say this I think Remus might just go into a brawl with the first guy before realising. As for Lily and Ginny I think they will use their instincts which would be to use speed, agility and timing but I think this is where Hermione will come unstuck. From what I have seen she has no fighting instinct at least in the physical sense and will god forbid over analyse it and pay the price. As for Luna well, the jury is still out on her in my opinion.”
“Interesting evaluation, I don’t think Remus would appreciate your comments although I agree they hold some truth. Speaking of Remus, how are the wedding plans?”
“There not James. We can’t think about that just yet. I still can’t get over the fact he asked me.”
“I know, Harry and I were a little shocked, I never thought he’d get over his werewolf hang up.”
“Tell me about it”
“Anyway shall we check up on our challengers?”
“Good idea” and with that James and Tonks peered into their omnioculars and watched the action unfold.
As they watched they saw that everyone had now reached the unarmed combat stage in good time. James looked down at his little time piece and saw that Neville was the quickest followed closely by Harry, Ginny, Remus and Lily with Luna and Hermione the last two but even they were well inside the maximum time, which greatly impressed him. Well at least they have good stamina, endurance and good basic strength. He noticed that Hermione had got a slight cut from the swinging blade, but it was a small nick at nothing major.
James watched as Lily gracefully, moved swiftly to defeat the first opponent showing great flexibility and awesome timing as the punches and kicks she produced were spot on.
He smiled at that as he then watched Ginny use basically the same technique as Lily only a little bit quicker as she benefited from being a little more youthful. He then watched in sheer amazement as he saw Neville and Harry both take on their opponents in such an awesome manner.
Both were so quick, efficient and agile in all the moves they made as they polished their two assailants of in record time before heading of on the final run. Remus was also very impressive as he didn’t fall into the trap he and Tonks had said he might do, which he noticed bought a big grin on the face of Tonks who also was watching.
Finally the two remaining challengers Luna and Hermione came up against the combatants. Luna made a quick survey and was clearly weighing up the best option for attack. Much to James and Tonks’s shock and delight she clearly had gone down the road of using her agility as she constructed 4 or 5 lightening fast strikes on each opponent leaving them both grounded and defeated in a very good time.
Hermione however was struggling. She has somehow gotten to close to the first attacker and had been unceremoniously dumped on her back for her trouble. She gingerly got to her feet again and once again seemed to think through her options. She then suddenly sprang to action using good speed and movement and although not as quick as the others safely despatched the two attackers.
“Well Tonks we were wrong. They all passed which is excellent. They all have what is needed although I think we should include some more physical training in the future as only Neville and Harry were well past the optimum level” James said as he evaluated what he had seen.
“I agree work is still needed although I do feel that it will come as we put them through the learning of some of the spells?”
“Ah here they all are. Well done all of you. You all passed the physical challenge first time, which means we can head into the good stuff right away. You should all be proud of yourself, now go get cleaned up and go to bed ok” and with that everyone filed out heading to their rooms as the day drew to its conclusion.
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