Chapter 4 : Like My New Pet?
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“Lieutenant, I regret to inform you that Colonel Nader has been found dead,“ said Dumbledore sombrely. “That is why the Dark Mark was flown.”
Harry was standing a little apart from the small group of Aurors and Regiment Officers just outside the Quiddiitch stadium. Smoke still rose from several fires around the Hogwarts grounds, including a few in the Refugee camp itself.
Around them the walking wounded were slowly making their way towards the hospital tents, stopping often to allow stretcher bearers to pass.
Harry shuddered seeing the still bodies of fallen Regiment soldiers. Most had been covered by their scarlet red cloaks and more than a few were accompanied by fellow soldiers who kept vigil until it was time for them to be moved.
The Lieutenant nodded slowly and asked, “Was all this really just a diversion?”
“We knew it would be,” replied Dumbledore, “and today’s events may not be over yet.”
Harry gripped his scar which had suddenly started to hurt. Voldemort was either close-by or very angry.
Dumbledore looked around, as if sensing something. His eyes rested on a point high above the Quidditch stadium. Harry forced his eyes open to look as well despite the pain, but didn’t see anything.
Harry shouted out, “Something’s going to happen!”
Without a word Dumbledore ran back into the Quidditch stadium at a speed that took everyone by surprise.
Harry gave chase but found himself unable to keep up.
Harry was too out of breath to gasp at the sight that was before him.
Dumbledore had already reached the centre of the pitch where an enormous black dragon was bearing down on him.
Harry ran as fast as he could to join Dumbledore. Harry realised that everyone had been moved from the pitch now, even the fallen Death Eaters were gone.
As Harry ran as fast as he could across the grass, he heard Voldemort’s amplified voice fill the stadium.
“Like my new pet, Dumbledore? I created him myself. All the strengths of a dragon with none of the weaknesses.”
Harry watched helplessly as flame completely engulfed Dumbledore.
The flames died away leaving Dumbledore still standing before the dragon, apparently unhurt. He must have put up some form of shield, thought Harry. The dragon began to back away slightly, as if suddenly wary of Dumbledore.
“Not so easy dodging fire without Disapparating, is it?” taunted the unseen Voldemort.
Instantly another flame blasted Dumbledore and with a swish of an enormous tail, all three goal posts at one end of the pitch were felled.
Harry noticed a group from the Regiment advancing on the dragon from the side. The dragon turned and almost lazily breathed fire over them.
A high cruel laugh erupted as they screamed in agony.
“Oh, dear. Their pitiful armour and shield charms aren’t much help, are they?”
Dumbledore took careful aim and fired a spell at the dragon. Harry realised he must be aiming for the collar. The dragon reared up at the last moment. Dumbledore’s spell just missed the collar but hit the dragon in the neck.
Furious, the dragon made to retaliate immediately.
“Accio Firebolt!” yelled Harry, and instantly his broom appeared at his side. As Harry stepped onto the broom, he found his arm being held back.
He turned back to see a stricken Hermione.
“Harry, please don’t!” she managed to say, clearly holding a stitch in her side.
“I have to, Hermione,” said Harry, but she didn’t let go.
“Hermione!” shouted Ginny with some urgency from behind them. “Some help here?”
Ginny was struggling to hold up a wounded Regiment officer. Hermione seemed to come to her senses and released Harry.
Not daring to look back at her, Harry took off.
He flew a wide arc around the pitch. Harry wanted to evaluate the situation and give Dumbledore some advanced warning that he was going to attempt to help. Perhaps he could provide a distraction, at least.
As he flew behind out of the dragon’s sight, Harry held his Apprentice Wand out in front of him.
Dumbledore gave the slightest of signals and Harry dived, firing rapid stunning spells directly at the dragon. He knew it wouldn’t cause the beast any harm. The dragon's hide was far too magical to be troubled by his spells.
As the dragon turned to look at Harry fly by, very close, Dumbledore’s spell hit the collar.
As Harry dodged the flame he saw, just for an instant, the dragon look around. It seemed to be almost confused for just a moment.
Harry realised that Voldemort must be possessing the dragon. This was immediately confirmed by the pain that seared across his scar. It dulled again immediately after as Voldemort again took back full control of the dragon.
He was clearly intent on killing Dumbledore using this creature.
Another flame was directed at Dumbledore. Harry could tell he was burnt a little this time. Dumbledore was getting weaker and Harry knew he must hurry.
A high cold laugh erupted around them.
“Oh! Do get up, Dumbledore. At least let them see you die on your feet!”
Coming around for another pass, Harry jumped off his broom mid-air and grabbed onto the back of the dragon’s enormous neck. There were many pairs of sharp pointed scales extending from the dragon's head down to its tail that made for convenient handholds.
Desperately holding on as the dragon thrashed around, he slipped down to the collar. Close to, he realised the collar was a solid band of a silvery metal. The heavy band was at least two inches thick and had golden runic symbols all round.
With his wand tip touching the collar, Harry used a reductor curse to cut it clean through. The magical energy discharge surged back through his arm but Harry managed to hang on.
The dragon reared backwards in pain, but Harry was determined not to let go. Unfortunately, the thickness of the band kept the broken collar in place.
With one hand keeping a firm hold of the now hot collar, he tried again. His wand was already badly burnt and cold magical flames engulfed his hand at once as he urged the wand to cut once again.
The surge of magical power began to overpower him. He could tell from the way his field of vision was narrowing that he wouldn't stay conscious for much longer.
He tried to pull back, but the Wand wouldn't let him stop.
Harry shook his head and attempted to widen his eyes. All he could see was his Apprentice Piece wand glowing with an intense white light that hurt his eyes.
Yet, he could not look away.
Suddenly the collar broke cleanly into two halves. Harry saw nothing, but sensed gravity begin to pull him downwards. He yelled with relief as the collar pieces and Harry fell heavily towards the ground.
The dragon appeared to be in agony. It reared back, tossing its head violently from side to side.
Dumbledore must have recovered a little because Harry hit the ground with barely a thump. Harry struggled to his feet and ran back to his Headmaster. Dumbledore was propping himself up but clearly exhausted.
The dragon stomped back towards them, clearly very angry now.
Harry threw the half of the broken collar he still held aside and prepared to fire up at the beast. Then he realised to his horror what had happened to his wand.
The Apprentice Piece was gone. The remains were all burnt and charred. The only piece that remained in tact was the small length he was still holding and as he opened his palm to expose the remains of the wand, that too burst into flames in front of his eyes. He was so shocked he didn't feel any burning sensation at all as the flames flowed across the skin of his hand and up his arm.
Harry glanced down at Dumbledore, who was still sitting on the ground and propping himself up with both arms.
Dumbledore smiled back and gave him a sort of ironic shrug.
It was as if he was saying, "Oh, well. I think I'll sit here and wait for the end."
Stunned at Dumbledore’s reaction, Harry turned and looked up at the dragon. It looked rather different from the ground. Being this close, Harry thought he would feel more scared or intimidated.
As he looked up he realised he had no fear of this beast at all.
After-all, he rather liked dragons.
“Sonorus,” he thought and then spoke aloud.
“Dragon, what is your name?”
Harry’s echoing question boomed around the stadium.
The dragon shook its head as if trying to clear its mind.
“I’ve removed the collar that was preventing me from speaking to you. I apologise if I hurt you when I cut through it. My name is Harry.”
The pain burned through his scar, and he knew Voldemort was losing his control over the beast.
“I’ve only ever met two dragons before, but you are by far the most impressive.”
The dragon calmed a little and looked straight down at him. Harry thought he saw an intelligence behind those fierce yellow eyes.
“One was just a baby,” continued Harry, hoping madly that his calm voice would pacify the dragon. “His name was Norbert. The other was a Hungarian Horntail but I never knew her name.”
“My name is Kales,” said the beast, flames blasting out as he spoke. “I do not remember travelling to these lands.”
“That is because you were possessed by a dark wizard called Voldemort.”
The dragon lowered his head and peered at Harry. He could feel the heat as it breathed.
“How do you come to speak by tongue?”
Harry was completely thrown by this question. He thought he was speaking normally.
“Voldemort tried to kill me when I was a child. His curse went wrong and I got some of his skills. I can speak to snakes too so I assume that’s why. We are still linked somehow. I can see what he sees and feels sometimes.”
The dragon surveyed the damage surrounding him and then looked closely down at Dumbledore.
“I am grateful for what you have done for me, young Harry. I will therefore not kill you.”
“Er, thanks,” said Harry, grinning now. “Could you also not kill anyone else here?”
“I’ll consider it.”
“Um, right. It’s not nice being controlled or used by someone else is it? Voldemort has tried to possess me as well. He tried to make me hurt someone very special to me.”
“Voldemort is dead. He died a while ago.”
“He’s back. He was controlling you.”
“You say you are linked?”
“Yes. Would you like to, er, have a word with him?” hesitated Harry.
Kales lowered his enormous head and stared directly at him. Their minds touched and Harry suddenly felt the panic in Voldemort’s head. Pain seared across his scar as Kales spoke powerfully in both their minds.
“You summoned me from a spirit world against my will. I will not harm you in this world, for anything I do to you here will also hurt the boy.
"Know this, as much as this boy will become your mortal enemy, I am your immortal enemy. When this boy has finished toying with you he’ll deliver you to me. I can wait a while longer.
"In the meantime, enjoy the heat.”
Voldemort’s scream of agony echoed through Harry’s mind before the link dulled. Harry grabbed his head, laughing despite the searing pain.
“Ha! You made him set himself on fire!” shouted Harry.
Kales sniffed Harry.
“Did I burn you? I can smell ash.”
“Er, no. I think it’s my wand you can smell. I destroyed it getting the collar off.”
“Ah, then you are in my debt, young Harry.”
“I’m not actually a dragon, you know? Dragons can’t talk. Dragon’s wouldn’t converse with humans even if they could. Once I too was the bearer of a wand, cut from the same holly tree as your wand.”
The dragon appeared to almost chuckle at Harry’s surprise.
“You may not have realised it, but when the wand finally chooses the wizard it allows the magical properties to be absorbed into the wizard and it gets destroyed in the process. That way the wand can never be separated from the wizard that is its true bearer.”
“Oh,” Harry managed to say, wondering how this wizard became a dragon. “Er, Kales? Would you join us and help fight Voldemort?”
“No, but as I have enjoyed our conversation and it pleases me to have imparted some knowledge to you, I will forbid my dragon brothers and sisters from joining forces with Voldemort. You will not have them, but neither will he.”
“Thank you, Kales,” said Harry. “If ever you come back here know you have a friend.”
“Well, friend, know this. You cannot now be separated from your wand. You are free to choose what actions you do and no one can take it away. Use the wand wisely and for good and you will join me in Valhalla. Turn to the dark and I will drag you to hell with me.”
“Um. Thank you for warning me.”
He crouched down and spread his enormous wings in readiness to take to the air again.
“It may be many years before we meet again in person. Whichever world we meet in, I expect you to have given a good account of yourself. Live well, Boy."
The dragon turned his great head to look down at Dumbledore.
"I’m still keeping an eye on you too, young Albus.”
He leapt up and into the air and was suddenly gone in a loud crack.
Harry stood rooted to the spot until the sound of distant cheers made him turn back.
“Thank you, Harry,” said Dumbledore from the ground.
Harry checked that no-one else was within earshot before he spoke.
“Here, let me help you, young Albus,” he said grinning and extending out an arm. Pulling the Headmaster from the ground, he added, “I was worried you’d been injured.”
“No, but I considered it best not to move while you spoke with Kales. Thank you for asking him to spare everyone. He can be volatile.”
The crowd of DA members and teachers approached quickly now that the dragon had gone.
“It’s a pity he wouldn’t join us, isn’t it?”
“He may yet. He will not forgive Voldemort for manipulating him like that.”
“Was he really a wizard?”
“I’d like to think so, but only he really knows. I was only fifteen when we last met in person. He expressed the opinion that I should stop messing about and apply myself.”
They exchanged a smile.
“Sir, what did he mean by meet again in person?” asked Harry.
“You’ll see,” replied Dumbledore with a twinkle in his eye.
Hagrid shouted, “Look, the forest!” and pointed out over the crowd of gathering people.
Several dragons were flying off out of the forest. They must have been hiding there ready to attack.
Hagrid looked quite sorry to see them go.
“Cheer up Hagrid, at least they won’t have to suffer at the hands of Voldemort any more,” said Harry smiling up at him.
Hagrid shuddered at the mention of Voldemort but soon recovered.
“Suppose,” he said miserably.
At that moment a small dark haired girl hurried through the crowd and headed straight to Harry.
He recognised her at once as the magical manifestation of one of Harbinger’s dead sisters.
“It’s John, he’s badly hurt,” she said at once. “He wants to see you.”
Harry looked up at Dumbledore who suddenly looked very grave.
“Please, show us where he is,” Harry asked the girl.
Harry and Dumbledore dodged through the crowd as they hurried away from the Quidditch pitch. They soon came upon the scene of another battle, this time on the other side of the Refugee camp.
Bodies were strewn around the grass clearing where the attack had happened. It looked like Harbinger and the Regiment had been vastly outnumbered as the attempted to defend the refugees.
The ground was strewn with Death Eaters but amongst the casualties appeared to be a dozen Regiment soldiers and a few he assumed were refugees.
The girl dropped next to the familiar blue robes of Professor Harbinger. He was lying awkwardly on the ground in obvious pain. He had multiple injuries from where spells had hit him. The girl looked up at Harry with tears in her eyes. As Harry nodded in understanding, she vanished.
Harbinger opened his eyes and saw Harry kneeling next to him with Dumbledore standing over his shoulder.
He grabbed Harry’s forearm and gripped it tightly.
“Fudge,” he said, desperately trying to stay conscious. “It was Fudge. Fudge.”
“We have him, John,” said Dumbledore gently, kneeling next to Harry.
“They were trying to take hostages. I think we stopped them but there were injuries I think. I’m so sorry.”
“You did splendidly, John, you have nothing to apologise about. No-one could have done more. I am sorry you didn’t see Harry’s Apprentice Piece break, though. You helped the wand choose the wizard.”
Harbinger had a glazed look to his eyes by now and his body appeared to relax a little although he maintained his fierce grip on Harry’s arm. He was taking short panting breaths. Harry looked to Dumbledore again and saw him looking sadly down at his fallen friend.
Suddenly Harbinger gave a stifled cry and Harry heard his arm break. Harry let the pain wash over him and didn’t attempt to release his dead teacher’s hand from his arm until Professor Flitwick appeared at their side, crying unreservedly.
Harry prised open Harbinger’s fingers as gently as possible and released himself as Dumbledore put a comforting arm around Flitwick’s shoulders.
It appeared that the Regiment’s healers were out attending to casualties and had left just three inexperienced trainee Healers.
Harry had found Ginny with one of them outside the Hospital tent.
“Hermione explained to you what to do. It's called triage. You have to assess each patient and mark them so they can be prioritised. You can’t keep wandering off like this. People with the most serious injuries have to be treated first.”
She smiled and rolled her eyes seeing Harry.
“I’m glad you’re okay, Harry,” she said wiping her forehead trying to use a clean bit on the back of her hand. She was covered in blood, although he was relieved to see it didn’t appear to be her own. “Hermione’s inside. What’s wrong with your arm?”
“It’s just broken,” he said, defensively moving it away from her. "I was going to find Madam Pomfrey."
"No, she's a bit busy at the moment."
Ginny waved her wand towards his head and he assumed he now also had a marking.
“Go right in,” she said. “Thankfully broken limbs is just about the worst injury we’ve got left. Mostly burns and cuts.”
He thanked her and walked into the large tent.
Harry found Hermione barking orders inside the Hospital tent. She was instructing people who had volunteered to be porters, telling them that the markings on the casualties' foreheads told them were and in what priority they were to be dealt in.
He wandered over and quietly propped himself next to a trolley at what appeared to be the end of a queue.
He amused himself for about ten minutes watching Hermione at work. Even the Regiment’s Healers, who were now returning to treat waiting patients, quickly fell into line. Eventually, she directed an harassed looking Healer to attend to the group Harry was waiting with.
Hermione almost ran over to him as soon as she saw Harry. Almost at once her disciplined, unemotional façade slipped away.
“Harry, how long have you been waiting? The Porters should have moved you higher up.”
“I’m quite comfortable, Hermione, thanks but I’ll wait in line here.”
Hermione looked down the line at the waiting patients. They included a number of small children from the camp and she nodded, knowing Harry would refuse to be treated ahead of them.
The Healer got through the list of patients very quickly, confirming Harry’s suspicion that the injuries were relatively minor.
“Oh, this is more interesting,” he said smiling at Harry.
Hermione moved away to assist an elderly patient to a chair.
“Are there many casualties?” asked Harry.
“There were several killed but injuries to the survivors are generally minor,” said the Healer. “Is that young lady a student at the school?”
“Yes, she’s a friend of mine,” said Harry smiling. “Her name’s Hermione Granger.”
“Miss Granger?” said the Healer when he had finished with Harry, his last patient. “My name is Jameson, and I’m the Chief Regiment Healer.”
“Oh,” said Hermione, “I’m sorry if I was rude to you before.”
“Not at all. I’d like to thank you for your help. If you hadn’t prioritised our patients there would have been many more casualties. You saved several lives today by enabling them to get treatment in time.”
Hermione blushed and smiled.
“It’s not easy making people act rationally when everything is in chaos.”
“I felt like just panicking myself to be honest,” said Hermione. “I just thought if I concentrated on doing something then I’d stop worrying about what else was happening.”
The Healer smiled and nodded.
“Well if you or your other friend outside ever consider a career in medicine, please do contact me. The Regiment sponsors medical students and I’m sure we’d be able to offer you something. I should add, we don’t insist that Healers enlist at the end of their training, although several do.
"Our Healers are often seconded to medical establishments around the world and it can be an attractive career choice. Perhaps you’ll think about it?”
Hermione nodded and then smiled as they shook hands.
“Well, if you’ll excuse me?” the Healer said. “I think I’d better go and rescue my staff from your red headed friend before she court-marshal’s them!”
He left the tent and Harry saw that Hermione was giving serious consideration to what he said.
“You’d make a good healer, Hermione,” he said smiling, “although I don’t quite see you in the army though.”
“No?” she replied smiling, “I rather like the sound of General Hermione.”
As they exited the tent the smiles left their faces almost at once.
More Regiment stretcher bearers were returning with bodies. Already there were a few victims laid out before them, their heads and faces covered by a variety of cloths and robes. Hermione clutched Harry’s arm and they made their way back to the castle.
Dreaming with the Guardian
It was very late before a sombre group of Gryffindors helped themselves to some cold food in the common room. The Great Hall was being used as a makeshift ward for those students that Madam Pomfrey wanted to keep for observation.
They were relieved to find out that no students had been killed. There were many minor injuries but only a few students had anything more serious than cuts or broken bones.
Harry stared at the plate of food in front of him. He’d really only taken it for something to do. He should have been hungry by now but he had no appetite.
Hermione had spent most of the evening going around speaking words of comfort. Even those students who hadn’t suffered injuries were clearly shocked by what had happened. Harry noted with some pride that Hermione had stepped into this role having realised that the Head Girl was in no emotional condition to do so.
Wanting something to do, Harry went down to the kitchens and with Dobby’s help brought back hot drinks for everyone. They stoked up the fire and everyone sat together down in the common room.
Most people had managed to doze off before Professor McGonagall came silently into the common room through the portrait hole.
Harry immediately got up and offered her his seat on a settee. Hermione felt Harry move and sat up, stretching and smiling.
Professor McGonagall sat down on the settee and Harry sat down on the carpet at Hermione’s feet.
After a while sitting in silence, Professor McGonagall said in a quiet, carrying voice, “Conversing with dragons is considered even worse than speaking to snakes, you know?”
Harry snorted. So did quite a few people Harry had assumed were sound asleep.
“Sorry, Professor,” Harry whispered, returning her smile.
“Tell me what happened,” she said gently. Harry noticed that those that were awake were giving prods to those that were asleep. He realised that Professor McGonagall intended everyone to hear this.
He cleared his throat, looked deep into the dying embers of the fire, and began telling what happened. The room was dark now, and Harry found it easier to imagine that only Professor McGonagall and Hermione were listening.
He made an effort to tell everything, including his fears and feelings at the time.
He told them of the terrible guilt he felt when he believed Ginny and Hermione had been taken. He told of the bravery shown by the DA members. Yet again Neville had kept a level head and Harry made sure he told not only of his actions during the fighting but also how he’d warned him about Fudge.
He told of his pride seeing Ginny and Hermione brow beating the Healers to make sure injuries were prioritised and told them all the Chief Healer’s compliments.
Finally he told them about the dragon and how he realised Voldemort was controlling him.
Professor McGonagall stayed with them long into the night that evening.
Eventually, Harry too dozed off.
Harry found himself in the middle of the Quidditch pitch. There was no sign of any damage caused by the attack but bizarrely the grass was almost completely covered with tables and desks.
Hermione was there too but sleeping. She was in the middle of the pitch, sleeping with her head on her arms and laying on an enormous book, almost as big as the table.
He set off towards her, realising that this must be a dream.
Harry reached her eventually and thought about waking her before noticing the book she was resting on. The pages of the open book showed images. Harry realised they were frantic images of Hermione’s day during the attack and then again after at the field hospital.
As the images became more and more fraught, so did the sleeping Hermione. Instinctively he gently touched her shoulder and said, “Calm down, Hermione, you could not have done any more. No-one could have.”
Her sleeping figure seemed to relax at the sound of his words.
“I thought you’d never fall asleep, young Harry,” said a deep booming voice behind him.
Harry turned with a start and found himself looking at Kales.
“Hi,” he said uncertainly.
“Do you often dream of this Guardian?” asked Kales.
“Er, sometimes,” said Harry, not sure why he was embarrassed by the question.
“Now that the wand has chosen the wizard, I’ve come to tell you about your wand,” explained Kales. “She knows most of the story but in a moment I’ll ask you to wake her into your dream. First though, I’m afraid I must confirm some bad news.”
“I can’t use the wand's power to fight Voldemort, can I?” said Harry.
“Not if you want to defeat him, no,” said Kales. “You will never achieve your potential for good if you allow yourself to sink to his level. I’m glad you realise this. It will not be easy and victory may come at a terrible price for you.”
“Another prophecy?” asked Harry.
The dragon snorted and enormous flames erupted from its nostrils. If it hadn’t been a dream, Harry thought he would have been burned alive.
“No prophecy, boy,” said Kales. “I don’t accept that they truly exist.”
“Is there any advice you can give me?”
“Well, to be honest, none of the previous wand bearers have ever received their wands in quite the same circumstances.”
Harry nodded without really understanding.
“All I can really advise is this. You are not ready to believe it yet, but Voldemort fears you and is right to fear you. Young Albus’ motives are good. He is trying to protect you and allow you to grow in the hope and belief that you’ll have time to master enough of your potential. As in all things, some skills will come easily, others not. Make full use of those that wish to help you learn. The wand will help you in this.”
Harry considered these words.
“By the way, you didn’t learn to speak to me from Voldemort. The wand woke that skill in you when it chose you. Now, wake the Guardian.”
“Kales, why do you call Hermione the Guardian?”
“Look at the book,” he replied.
Harry looked at the open book Hermione was resting on. It showed a small tree in a forest grove. It was a holly tree. It was his holly tree. Just then the scene dissolved and Harry found himself watching himself and Kales on the Quidditch pitch surrounded by desks.
“Will she tend the tree?” guessed Harry
“No,” replied Kales. “Only non-magical people may tend it. It won’t grow properly if a wizard or witch touches it. Wake her gently.”
Harry gently stroked Hermione’s back and whispered for her to wake.
She opened her eyes sleepily and lifted her head. The book pages faded and became blank.
Hermione smiled seeing Harry and then she looked around.
“We’re in a dream, Hermione, don’t be alarmed.”
“A dream?” she repeated sleepily.
“I’d like to introduce you to a friend,” said Harry, taking Hermione’s hand. “This is Kales, and he wants to finish the story of my Apprentice Piece.”
“Hello, Kales,” she said smiling. “I’ve dreamt of you before.”
Kales bowed deeply, saying, “I’m flattered you remember, my Lady.”
“I can understand Hermione being a Lady but how come I’m just a Boy, Kales?” asked Harry with a small grin.
“Hm,” said Kales, “I see young Albus isn’t alone in thinking he can cheek me. Now are you going to let me tell the story or not?”
Harry woke to find the sun streaming into the common room. He was lying on his back in front of the fireplace with Hermione curled up by his side. She stirred almost at once.
Gingerly, they both sat up.
Harry looked around the room. Most people were still asleep. Professor McGonagall was chatting happily to Parvati and Neville, who were sitting very close to each other.
“Hermione, I just had a dream about a dragon,” whispered Harry.
“Me too!” said Hermione, beaming at him.
At that moment the portrait hole opened and in came Ron followed by Lavender, Ginny and Dobby. Each carried an enormous tray and as the irresistible smell of cooked breakfast spread across the room, everyone appeared to stir.
Harry was suddenly starving. He got up and extended a hand to help Hermione up as Dobby clicked his fingers. A long line of tables with white tablecloths instantly appeared. Another click and hot food appeared on heated silver platters together with heated plates and cutlery.
Ron, looking a little disgruntled muttered, “Dobby, you might have mentioned you could do that before we carried all these trays from the kitchens.”
“But Sir would not have had anything to eat along the way!” replied Dobby, beaming.
“Good point,” Ron conceded.
Harry snorted and Dobby came over to Harry and Hermione, beaming at them.
“Dobby is glad Harry Potter and Miss Hermione are alright,” he said.
They smiled back at him and Hermione asked, “How’s Winky? Were there any house elves injured?”
“No house elves were injured, Miss. The fighting didn’t reach the castle, but we were ready!” he replied. “Winky was a little shaken though,” he added a little sadly.
Harry made a mental note to ask Dobby later what he meant. Clearly the house elves were organised to defend the castle. It made sense. They were very magical and would be very effective fighters. Harry worried, however, that it might be the house elf enslavement that would have forced them to fight rather than volunteer.
“I’m very glad none of you were hurt,” said Hermione, and from her tone he was sure she had just wondered the same thing.
“Breakfast, Hermione?” said Harry. “I think we should hurry before Ron gets his appetite back.”
Harry realised that Hermione was trying to straighten her bushy hair and make her clothes neater. He had to admit to himself, she was quite a sight. Her hair was all over the place and her robes were caked in dried mud. He knew he was in a similar state.
“You look great, Hermione, honestly,” Harry whispered, smiling at her. “Let’s have something to eat and then get cleaned up after. You need to eat.”
Hermione looked uncertainly back but finally smiled and nodded before following Harry over to the food.
After breakfast, Ron sidled over to Harry and muttered, “Hey, Harry. Let’s avoid the queues to the showers. Prefect’s bathroom.”
Harry looked around. He didn’t really want to take advantage of his badge. After all, he wasn’t really a prefect anymore. On the other hand, he desperately wanted to wash.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, Mr Weasley,” said Professor McGonagall loudly from across the room.
Harry was stunned that she had even heard Ron.
“Sorry, Professor?” said Ron, trying to sound innocent.
“Miss Granger has commandeered the Prefect’s Bathroom for the Gryffindor girls, so you won’t be able to use the facilities in there until they have finished. I’m sure you understand.”
As she spoke Harry realised that all of the girls had gone from the common room.
At that moment a slightly red faced Hermione lead a single file of female students from their Dormitory door, down the stairs and out of the portrait hole. Each clutched a towel and a toiletry bag. It seemed to take a while for them all to pass through.
“They’ll be hours!” complained Ron loudly.
“Days, possibly, Ron,” quipped Ginny with a wicked grin as she passed.
END OF PART THREE
The two remaining parts of the Apprentice Piece series are:-
Summary of Part Four: The Sword of Light
After the battle, the dragon named Kales returns to Harry and introduces him to a new way of travelling undetected. This leads to a shocking discovery that not even the attentions of First Aid Club members and Snape can distract him from. Battling his own conscience, Harry needs a weapon to fight Voldemort’s unseen agents from the shadows. After Harry is stabbed and poisoned, the DA battles to protect Dumbledore and Hermione. At the same time in another world Harry stands alone, fighting the creatures coming out of the darkness to attack his friends as they fight and fall.
Summary of Part Five: The Accord
Two unwelcome visitors arrive at the school and announce that a wizard will arrive shortly to challenge Flamel, the unwell and eldest member of a group of sorcerers that guard Hogwarts’ greatest secret. Can Hermione cope with any more House disunity, Crookshanks’ new look and Harry’s determination to fight the charismatic challenger himself?
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