Chapter 12 : Back in the Saddle
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Harry Potter and
The Tomb of Hogwarts
Back in the Saddle
Harry lay stiffly on his back, suddenly aware of how cold it had become. He turned over, searching for a more comfortable position only to find that his bed had become quite stiff.
He rolled over a few more times, trying to find that perfect balance of comfort, when his elbow bumped into a very hard and unforgiving bed. His eyes shot open with the pain.
Rubbing his elbow, he looked around and once again found himself back in the same cavernous room. A mild light emanated from torches placed at the four corners of the room, gliding softly off the walls. Harry got to his feet and looked around.
The four altars were still there, Slytherin’s and Gryffindor’s to the left, Ravenclaw’s and Hufflepuff’s to the right. But he had already seen the altars the last time, so they held his interest for only a moment. Something, however, seemed to draw his attention to look around the entire room, and for the first time he noticed five stone doors.
The doors were spread evenly about five feet apart from each other. Each of the outer doors were marked with emblems matching their respective couples, again with Slytherin and Gryffindor on the right, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff on the left.
Though he was truly curious as to what might be held behind those two doors, and indeed all the doors, it was the door in the middle that drew him forward, each step drawing him up with anticipation. With each drawn breath he continued to look with awe at the middle door, coming closer and closer, until he put out his hand, found a firm grip on the handle, and turned it over.
In front of Harry the door opened into a long hallway, much like the secret passage which led from the one-eyed witch to the trap door under Honeydukes in Hogsmeade. But unlike that particular hallway, this one was well lit, and Harry could see the source in several lit torches running along the chamber. Yet those lights paled when compared to the blinding bright light which caught his eyes at the end of the tunnel, seemingly calling out to him.
He went to take his first steps up the hallway, towards the light, when it seemed that the light itself was coming straight towards him, falling over his eyes and blinding him until finally he doubled over from the burning in his eyes.
When the pain subsided a bit he re-opened his eyes and found himself bent over in bed.
Monday morning had come at last and the sun had beckoned Harry awake, as it seemed to have done to the entire room. Everyone else had already gotten dressed and was getting ready to go down for breakfast.
He looked over to the next bed for Ron, trying to figure out why he had not woken him, but then he remembered that Ron was a Prefect and had probably been up for over an hour dealing with the first years.
Harry quickly cleaned himself up and put on his school robes. As he was now a Professor as well as a student, he had two different styles of robes, one marking him as a student, the other as a professor. He would be wearing the latter for the first time in just one-week’s time.
He made it downstairs just in time to find Ron and Hermione coming up to find him.
“Alright Harry?” asked Ron.
“Alright Ron,” Harry replied with a smile. “Just had another dream about that cavern.”
“You did?” asked Ron, while at the same time Hermione asked, “Did you see anything new?”
“Yeah, I guess,” he replied softly. He didn’t really feel like talking about it this early in the morning.
“Well then, out with it. We haven’t got all day.”
Harry signed deeply. “Can’t this wait until later? I just woke up and we’ve got a full schedule of classes ahead of us.”
“Harry,” Hermione jumped in with her normal drone, “Of course we can wait. It’s just that we thought it would be better if you told us now, before you forgot anything.”
There was no getting out of it. He knew if he didn’t tell them now they would hound him for the rest of the day.
“Well, there was one thing that I noticed that was different than the last time. Two actually. First, I didn’t start out by playing around with the founders or anything. I just woke up right in that room. Second, I found out that there’s at least four other rooms down there, not just the one.”
“Why do you say down? Did you find out where it is?” Hermione asked anxiously.
“I’m getting to that part. See, I couldn’t find out what was in the other four room because I was already being drawn to the middle door. I opened it and found myself in this long tunnel, leading upwards. It was lined with torches down the sides, and at the end was a bright light. That had to be at least a couple hundred meters away, and it was at least thirty or forty meters up, if not more. But the next thing I knew, as I was looking towards the end, I was blinded by the light. When I opened my eyes again, it was morning and I was back in the dorm room.”
“That sounds like the entrance to me,” said Hermione. Ron looked at her questioningly.
“That’s what I thought,” Harry agreed.
“Well, if it’s underground, then that probably means it’s somewhere in the dungeons. Harry, do you have your map with you?”
“It’s still up in the chest in my room. I haven’t had a chance to get it yet.”
“I’ll get it,” Ron volunteered, and ran back up the stairs.
“You know, I have a feeling we’re not going to see it on the map,” Harry said when Ron disappeared up the staircase. “In fact, I don’t know why, but I don’t think it’s even under the castle at all. If it’s anywhere on the grounds, I’d bet it’s probably out by the lake, or out in the Forbidden Forest, or something like that.”
“Why do you think that?”
“I don’t know. I just have this feeling like it’s nowhere near the castle. Does that make sense?”
“I guess. But unless you have another dream all we can do is more research. But I’m worried that all of this might just be another trick of Voldemort’s. Have you talked to Dumbledore about it?”
“No, I haven’t, but now that you mention it, I probably should talk to him about it the next time I see him.”
“You might not want to wait, Harry. I think you should ask him at breakfast.”
“Hermione, he said that I should wear it, and that there were things about it that I didn’t know about it. I’ll bet he already knows about my dreams. Besides, maybe that’s all they are. Just dreams. You know, like a way for the medallion to protect me when someone else is trying to use Legilimency against me.”
“Maybe. Still, I think…”
But to Harry’s great relief, Ron came back downstairs and opened up the map. They searched it for a few moments, but as Harry suspected, it was nowhere to be found.
“So that means it’s not even at Hogwarts,” Ron grumbled.
“Or maybe it just hasn’t been found yet,” Hermione said optimistically. “Remember, this map only shows the paths that Lupin, sirius and your dad had discovered. So if they never found it, it wouldn’t be here, now would it?”
“Blimey Harry. How can we find the bloomin’ place when it’s not even on the map?”
“Do you remember anything else?” Hermione butted in. “Maybe you saw something else that can help us.”
Harry thought back to his dream, closing his eyes and concentrating. He got a clear picture in his head and tried to remember what else he had seen.
“Well, there were the two outer doors, the one at each end of the room, and they each had a pair of house crests on them. Let’s see. I think it was Slytherin and Gryffindor on the one on the right and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw on the other side. I don’t really remember anything about the other two doors, but I didn’t get a really good look at them. But there was something else.”
After a long pause, Hermione finally prompted him for more
“Well, it may have just been by chance, but there was one thing that seemed a bit odd. I remember feeling an almost timeless air about the place, like it had just been used. I know this sounds weird, but it was almost as though I was there with the founders and all. I didn’t see them there this time, of course, but it felt almost like they had just been there and left just before I got up. I don’t know. Maybe it was just a dream.”
“Harry, you know darn well that this wasn’t just another dream. Whatever it is, that medallion is trying to tell you something.”
“I’m not quite sure about that, but just to be safe I think we need to start looking into this and the other three medallions. I’ll tell ya what. I’m not likely to have much time over this week or next, but what say we start looking whenever we get a chance, and then in two weeks we should be set in our schedules and can find time when we can all meet up and go to the library.”
“Right,” chimed Ron and Hermione together.
“You know,” Hermione added, placing one of her hands against Harry’s cheek, “you’re really starting to get an air of leadership about you. I noticed it a bit last year, but it’s starting to come off a lot stronger since June. You know, it’s a really attractive quality,” she added with a blush.
“Uh, thanks, I think,” Harry replied awkwardly.
And with that they headed down in silence to the Great Hall for breakfast.
However, Harry was unable to make it all the way through the castle and down to the Great Hall without incident.
Indeed, he was stopped by no less than twenty different students, each congratulating him on his new position at Hogwarts. Then, just as he finally reached the entrance to the Great Hall, there she was.
Cho Chang had changed quite a bit over the summer. She had grown another inch or two, and it seemed her face wore a bit more makeup than last year, though hardly noticeable, as there was something else that took Harry completely by surprise. It was her hair.
The last time he had seen her she’d had long, flowing black hair. Now a dark blue with gold highlights, her hair had been twisted, folded, and fluffed in all the right places. Her face, no longer obscured by her hair and perfectly made up, would surely brighten up any room she walked into.
Looking at her now, so radiantly beautiful, he couldn’t for the life of him figure out how he couldn’t have noticed her before now. And were that all not enough, a moment later as she said hello Harry found that one more thing about her had changed.
“Hello Harry,” she greeted in a softer and, in Harry’s opinion, much sexier voice than he’d been accustomed to. At the sound of her voice the hairs on the back of his neck began to prickle with excitement.
“Hello Cho,” he replied in a soft breathy voice. Then with a little more dignity he added, “Have a good summer? I was glad to see you at the party last month.”
“Yes, I had a great holiday, really, and I was happy to come. I couldn’t stand the idea of you being alone on your birthday like that. Was that sirius’s house we were at?”
“Yes, it…” Harry stopped abruptly. Had she just mentioned sirius’s name? How would she know about that? Aloud he repeated, “Sorry, but how do you know about sirius?”
“Well it’s been in the Prophet all weekend. About how you, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and those others had all gone to the Department of Mysteries. They said how you lost sirius, and how he was innocent of all those charges against him. Personally, I was kinda annoyed at first that you hadn’t asked me to come too.”
“They what?” Harry shouted, astonished, not even hearing her last statement of grief.
“Sorry, I thought you knew. They’ve been going on ever since they caught sight of that Pettigrew fellow over in Diagon Alley.”
“They what? Did they catch him?” he asked earnestly.
“Unfortunately, no. But some young student from Gryffindor was taking all sorts of pictures, getting shots of all the Aurors walking all over Diagon Alley. So he was taking a shot of Knockturn Alley when who should be coming out of a shop but Mr. Pettigrew. They’ve got some Aurors searching for him, but they’re so short handed that they can’t spare many, and they said if they don’t catch him by the end of the week they will have to recall them. I guess they need the Aurors elsewhere.”
“Good Lord.” Harry was about to ask Hermione if she knew about this, but it seemed that both her and Ron had already gone into the Great Hall for breakfast.
“Well, I guess we should be getting in to eat before classes, but I’d like to talk a bit more, if we could meet up later.”
“Sure. I’ll be with Michael after classes, but we can meet out front after dinner, if you like.” Harry assumed that Michael would be Michael Connelly, a Hufflepuff seventh-year. Harry only knew him in passing, but he’d never done Harry wrong, so he couldn’t have been too bad.
“Great. Well, off we go then. Ladies first,” he said drawing his hand out before her.
Harry had known that Cho had a new boyfriend and he truly had lost all interest in pursuing her, with exception to a minute ago. Still, there were no jealous feelings and he felt truly happy for her. In fact, he was beginning to think that she might just become a good friend now that the tension of the past two years had ebbed away.
He was, however, beginning to feel quite alone. True he had Ron and Hermione to spend time with, but he knew that they would soon figure out what everyone else in the school already knew, and that would leave him quite alone.
He continued to think about this even as he sat down to breakfast, and it took a couple of attempts before Ron and Hermione were able to get his attention.
“Sorry, what was that?” he asked.
“I was asking you what happened between you and Cho,” said Hermione. “Do I smell a re-budding romance there?”
“Oh, no. We were just talking about the Prophet. Seems everyone is about to learn more about my private life.”
“Why? What did it say? I haven’t gotten my copy just yet.”
As if on cue, a large group of owls began to fly into the Great Hall from all directions and had begun to drop some letters and packages off to their respective masters. Hermione got her copy of the Daily Prophet, Ginny a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley reminding her once again that this was her O.W.L. year, and to Harry’s great surprise, a letter to him dropped in his lap from Dumbledore.
Last year Harry had seen Dumbledore no more than five times. Now, here he was on the first day of classes and he’d already spent at least twice that amount of time with him. And now Dumbledore was asking him to meet him outside the Great Hall after breakfast so he could then take Harry to see his new classroom.
The next half-hour flew by in a matter of seconds. Ron and Hermione were talking to Harry about the article in the Prophet, followed by Harry telling them about his ideas of what Dumbledore would want. Ron and Hermione suggested Dumbledore might want to talk about the Animagus form he might be taking.
“Actually, we already went over that,” Harry replied with a sigh. “He told me why he thought I could take on one of the Animagus forms in that book he gave me. He said it has something to do with the whole scar thing and Voldemort’s connection with me, though to tell the truth, I didn’t hear much he said after he compared me to Merlin.”
“Dumbledore compared you to Merlin?” Hermione asked in complete shock. “What the… how’s that?”
“Well, he said that when he was researching some stuff on my scar he found a book that covered the same kind of thing happening to Merlin when he was four.”
He recapped what Dumbledore had told him and they were both listening in very intently.
“Wow, Harry. That’s really big news. If he started out just like you, then, I wonder if the same… Oh my…” and once again, she was up and out of the Great Hall before Ron and Harry knew what had happened.
“You know, I’m starting to think she goes more bonkers the older she gets.”
“You’ve got that right. But it really wouldn’t be Hogwarts if she didn’t spend more time in the library than her own dorm room.”
“Too right. Bloody bookworm, she is.”
As it turned out Hermione seemed to know exactly what she needed in the library because she was jogging back up the hall when Harry and Ron were leaving breakfast.
“I found it just where I left it last year,” she exclaimed lifting up a rather small book from her side.
“That’s got to be the smallest book I’ve ever seen you pick up, Hermione,” said Ron.
“Oh Ron. When are you going to learn that size doesn’t matter? This book contains more information on the greatest wizards of legend than any other book at Hogwarts. It’s just all written really small. Anyway, I glanced at it real quick and it has the whole history of Merlin, and there’s something you need to know.”
“What now? Am I going to grow old real quick and end up with a full grown beard before my twenty-first birthday?”
“Harry, this is serious. Listen. You know that most wizards and witches hit their main magical growth spurt around their eleventh or twelfth birthdays, right?”
“That much I know.”
“Well Merlin, though he had gone through a growth spurt when he was eleven, had another more powerful growth spurt directly on his seventeenth birthday. You see, most wizards think that he had learned all that his master could teach him by the time he had turned seventeen, which was probably true, but that’s not the whole story. Because of that second power growth, his power had exceeded his master’s. Now in those days, power was all you needed to prove your worth. So, more scared than anything else, his master sent him on his way. That’s how come you don’t hear much about him until he was older, because he was going everywhere he could, trying to learn how to control his power. And Harry, he believed this was because of what happened when he was a kid. If that’s true, then you’re going to have the same kind of growth spurt next year.”
“Well that’s good, isn’t it? That means that I’ll be all that more prepared when I have to face Voldemort.”
“But what if Voldemort already knows this? That could be why he wants to wage war now. He’s tried to kill you every other way; this might be his last resort. What I’m saying, Harry, is that you need to watch out now more than ever, because if he does know, he’ll come after you before your next birthday. And if not, well then you still have the other problem of having to train with so much power. It took Merlin nearly fifty years to train himself right and I doubt you have the same amount of leisure time before you and Voldemort have that famous final battle.”
“Yeah, well Merlin didn’t have Dumbledore, but I do. I’m not worried, and you shouldn’t be either. All we can do is go to class and learn as much as possible. And speaking of which, here comes Professor Dumbledore now. I’ll see you guys at eleven for Conjuration,” he said, waving them off.
They headed off to classes, passing Professor Dumbledore as he approached Harry.
“Good morning Professor,” he said with a smile as Dumbledore approached.
“Good morning Harry. I see you received my letter,” he added with a smile, nodding at the letter still in Harry’s hand. “Wonderful. Then I believe it’s time for you to take your first look at the room which you will be using over the next year.”
Harry smiled broadly, and they headed to the staircases.
As they took the first flight of stairs, with the subject still fresh in his mind, Harry decided to make the leap and ask Dumbledore about the medallion.
“Well, Harry, I do not know everything about this medallion of yours, but there are a few things that I may be able to confirm for you.”
“Okay,” Harry said in anticipation.
“For starters, there are a few things as Hogwarts Headmaster that I cannot tell you regarding the medallion. Now I know that I told you I would not keep any information from you if I could in any way avoid it, but this is not for me to decide. But maybe it would be better if I gave you an idea of where that medallion came from.”
Harry hadn’t noticed it, but they had settled on the fifth floor and Dumbledore had begun to lead him down the hall towards the rear of the castle.
“Originally there were four medallions, The Four Medallions to be more specific. These were created by the Four Founders of Hogwarts. You see, when they first settled here to create a place of learning for wizards, all the land that you know here was vastly different. For instance, did you know that the founders had been the ones to create the Forbidden Forest?”
“They created it?”
“Well, in a way. When the founders chose this place to hold their castle it was nothing more than a grassy field, a lake, and a very quiet forest filled with less than half a dozen magical creatures throughout the land. Well, in order to invest the time required to build the castle, they needed to find a small place where they could live until the castle was finished.”
“Hagrid’s,” Harry proclaimed.
“Indeed no. Hagrid’s hut has been on this land for less than a century. I personally conjured it for him when I took on the position as Headmaster. He has never been the sort feel comfortable surrounded by so many walls. Hagrid is a free spirit, and living so close to the forest gives him a feeling of comfort that could never be gained inside the castle.
No, the place the founders built has long been hidden from the world. None who have sought it have ever found it, and I truly doubt than any wizard happened upon it by accident. No, this house they created they used for a short time while they build the castle, and then for a long time it had been abandoned.”
Harry found himself going farther and farther into the castle, passing statues and portraits he’d never seen before, twisting and turning around this corner and that, all the while listening intently to every word Dumbledore said.
“So the castle was complete and Hogwarts became a school of learning. And just before the start of the first term of school, each of the Hogwarts Founders had created a personalised seal of their own design. These seals were made in the form of four medallions which the founders wore proudly about their necks.”
“Now, no one is quite sure when it happened, but sooner or later there was an accident involving a student, and more specifically a Muggle born student, and thus began Salazar Slytherin’s distaste for anyone not born of a wizarding family. Some time soon afterwards, Salazar left Hogwarts leaving the remaining three to run the school. And although they did not agree with Salazar’s reasoning to purge the school of Muggle-born witches and wizards, they had agreed that some of their magical possessions they kept were too great in power to keep in the castle.”
Harry couldn’t see where this was going, but he was not about to interrupt.
“And so,” Dumbledore continued, “during the first summer holiday, each of the remaining three founders took their most valuable and powerful magic items and placed them inside of their original home. Then, when all they wanted to hide was gone from the castle, they cast several very powerful concealment charms and locked away their old home. They continued to live in the castle and rarely visited their old possessions, and never during the school year. It is also rumoured that they had set a lock upon their old home so powerful that none alone could open it. Only with their combined power could they ever return to their most precious belongings.”
Harry had a flashback to his first dream of the cavern. Sitting on the altar of Gryffindor was the Sorting Hat and Gryffindor’s sword.
“You know how to get in there, don’t you?” Harry proclaimed.
“Indeed I do. Unfortunately, as Headmaster of this school I am bound to protect many of its secrets, and that is one such secret. I can tell you, however, that even if I were to tell you how to get there, it is a path of which you could not take less you were Headmaster of Hogwarts, and even then you would not know where you were. There are many secrets that lie there which cannot be removed, or even discussed without prior knowledge, of which many times the only way to know is to be there. It is all quite annoying, but while the restrictions remain, so must my silence.”
“So if there’s anything about the medallions in there then you couldn’t tell me, even if you wanted to?” Harry asked, clearly disheartened.
“Not so. While many secrets can never be revealed, still more secrets are held within which, while likewise protected from removal, contain information which may be spoken of openly. This is how I learned of the similarities between you and Merlin. It is very discouraging to know that I may only visit it for a few hours a day, and only during the summer holidays.
“In addition, you bear one of the three medallions. Anything pertaining to the medallions may be recited to any of those who bear them. Alas, there is not much more that I know beyond what I have told already told you, apart from a brief description of the abilities each of the medallions will imbue upon it’s wearer. Yours, in particular, belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw. While she was a great witch, less known about her is that she was a fantastic talent in Occlumency and Legilimency, and was also a very powerful soothsayer, or fortune-teller.”
“So, does that mean that these dreams I’ve been having, they’re visions of the future?”
“Not necessarily. As I’m sure you learned in Divination, reading the signs of the past and future, even within visions, is often clouded. Sometimes visions can be clear straight away, other times it may take years to fully understand the full meaning of just one vision.”
“Oh. But why then did I see the Sorting Hat and the Gryffindor Sword lying on the altar in that cavern? And how were you able to take them out when they are restricted from being removed.”
Dumbledore had a confused look on his face. “When you saw the sorting hat on this altar, did it look as old as it does now?”
Harry thought about it for a moment. “Now that you mention it, it looked practically brand new.”
“Interesting. Perhaps you should tell me of your dreams from the beginning.”
Harry told Dumbledore all he could remember of his dreams. When he was finished Dumbledore seemed to have come to a conclusion.
“How very odd,” he said in an amused voice. “Well, whatever it is that the medallion is trying to tell you, it seems evident that it is not about the same place I have been telling you about. The room in which those items are kept resembles a fine office, quite similar in fact to my own office. For now I know for sure is that the medallion you wear did belong to Rowena Ravenclaw and that so long as you wear it you will be protected from Voldemort’s attempts to invade your mind. As for the dreams, I see no harm, though I would suggest keeping a journal of your dreams and studying them in your spare time. With enough studying you may even find the answers regarding this cavern you were referring to. Until then I can only wish you good luck in finding those answers in good time, and ask that you might find time to confide in me whatever you might discover. I never tire of learning more about this wondrous school.”
“Of course sir, though if you can find your way all the way back here, I can’t imagine there would be a single thing about Hogwarts you don’t already know,” he said with a sly grin.
“Now you’re just flattering an old man,” he replied with a smirk.
It was then, speaking of coming all the way back here, that caused Harry to take pause, and as he did he noticed that not only had they stopped walking, but they had come to rest in front of a large wooden double-door. Above this door was a brilliant silver sign curving around the archway, The Art Of Duelling printed in gold. Harry couldn’t help but smile himself. Last year he had to hide the very existence of the D.A. and this year it was printed right there on the door for the world to see, or at least anyone in the furthest reaches of the school.
“It looks great,” he said, welling up with pride.
“I’m sure you are curious why I have chosen for you a classroom so far into the castle.”
The thought hadn’t actually occurred to Harry until Dumbledore mentioned it, but since he was volunteering the information, Harry simply nodded and waited for the answer.
“The reason is a pair of secret pathways which exist within this room that lead from both the Gryffindor Tower and Professor Snape’s office to a pair of portraits inside the classroom, as well as a portrait just to the side of the entrance steps of the castle. I thought it might be helpful for the both of you for getting to your next classes in a timely fashion,” he said with a broad smile. “We wouldn’t want you to be late for your Conjuration or Apparation classes.”
“Heaven forbid,” Harry said with a sly smirk.
With an inviting wave of his hand, the door opened, and he asked with a smile, “Well, are you going inside, or shall you be doing your classes here in the hall?”
Harry took the cue and headed inside. He made it two steps before coming to a sudden halt. For a moment he thought he might be seeing things, but after a few moments he was sure of what he was looking at. The problem was, this couldn’t be that room. It was two who floors up...
“Is this the Room of Requirement?” he finally asked, dumbfounded.
“Of course not. We may move where we hold our classes from year to year, but the rooms themselves do not move, only the staircases. However, since you were already familiar with the way that room was set up, I thought it best to design this room in the same image, with a few exceptions of course. For instance, that door over there leads to your very own office, and the one on the other side there leads to Professor Snape’s. That portrait just to the right of his office is where his passageway is, and yours is in on the other side of your office, behind the picture of the old suit of armour. It will lead you directly up to the portrait of Madam Sovourn just outside Gryffindor Tower. And before you ask, your map only shows those passages which Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs discovered in their days at Hogwarts. This one must have escaped them, and I can promise you there are still several others not included on the map as well, though you may add this one if you so wish.” He winked at these final words.
Harry, in the meantime, was awe-struck with just how much this room resembled the Room of Requirement. If he didn’t know better he’d have sworn that Dumbledore had been in his class, it was that perfect. The only two things he could make out that were different were the size, this one a bit bigger than the Room of Requirement, and the addition of the two doors which led to two separate offices at either side of the room. But the books; the pillows; the shelves with the Sneakoskopes; the Foe-Glass; they were all there right where he had left them last year.
Spellbound, it took Harry several minutes to take it all in.
“So, will this suit your needs?” Dumbledore finally asked.
“Yeah,” Harry replied with a deep sigh. “It’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.”
“There are a few things you might want to take a look at, when you have the time. For instance, we have installed a series of platforms, five in fact, which will rise from the floor on command, like so. Pulpitum Exsisto.” At these last words the floor began to shake for a moment before, right in the middle of the room, a long and narrow stone platform began to rise, coming to a stop around four feet above the floor.
“This will help you with the monthly tournaments. There is a complete list of additions that have been made to the room to accommodate the class, but right now I wanted to go over something a bit more important. I was hoping you and I could use this first week, before the Art of Duelling classes begin, to cover a few things I think might help you along the way, if I may.”
“Of course, sir. What did you have in mind?”
“Well, Harry, I know that you have handled yourself quite well when needed during some very difficult situations. However, there is always more one can learn, so I thought I might pass on to you a few of the finer points of duelling that you may not have come across. After all, it’s not the power I hold that frightens Voldemort, it’s what I know.”
Harry could swear he saw a twinkle like the northern star as Dumbledore said this and it mesmerised him.
“If you’re ready, I have a few gentle suggestions we might go over before Professor Snape arrives. I understand that he had planned on using his first period to work on his potions classes before next week. I thought you and I could use the time to expound on your duelling skills and, if you like, we can continue these exercises on the first Friday of each month.”
Harry quickly pulled out his schedule and found, as he half expected, that the first Friday of each month was the one day in which he would not have a Duelling class.
“Well, it looks like I’ve got it off, so I’d love to.”
“Excellent. Well, let’s get started then. We’ll only have about forty-five minutes today, so lets just see where we stand, shall we? After you,” he said waving Harry onto the platform. Harry took three steps up and was just about to go up the final step when he suddenly realised what Dumbledore was proposing. He turned, horror-struck.
“Sir, you’re not suggesting that you and I are going to duel?”
“Indeed I am. The best way for me to truly appreciate your duelling technique is to see it first hand. And I wouldn’t worry about hurting me. I’m much more stout than I look. Go ahead,” he nodded.
The walk to the Ministry court when he was fifteen; the walk to Dumbledore when his name had been pulled from the Goblet of Fire; the walk to the Sorting Hat when he first arrived at Hogwarts; none of these compared to the long walk to the centre of the Duelling Platform where he was to face Albus Dumbledore in a Wizard’s Duel. Each beat of his heart he was sure would be his last.
It took an eternity to reach the centre circle, yet it was all too soon before he was looking up into those bedazzling eyes and he froze. There was no way he could attack this man and survive. Oddly, Dumbledore smiled affectionately down at him.
“If it will make you feel more at ease, we can take the first few turns with me simply blocking and deflecting your attacks. I will still learn a great deal from your offence and you won’t have to worry so much about being defeated. And don’t pull any punches, Harry. Remember it was I who faced Voldemort in June, and I came out quite unharmed.”
Harry didn’t know if this made him feel better or worse, but he didn’t get much time to think about it. A moment later Dumbledore lifted his wand in salute and turned, and Harry followed in sort.
Ten long steps took merely a second before he turned and faced the man he knew to be the greatest wizard of their age. Legs shaking a mile a second, and with the softest tone he croaked “Expelliarmus.”
Time seemed to stand still as the spell inched it’s way out of his wand and down the duelling platform. Dumbledore, moving only his the wand between his fingers, lifted it and uttered something Harry couldn’t hear, but feared all the same. When his own spell finally reached Dumbledore… nothing. Not a fizzle, not a flash of white light, not so much as even a pop to announce the spell had hit anything.
“Very good. On three, another spell if you please,” Dumbledore said, this time smiling even more broadly.
And so it went on for fifteen minutes. Each time Harry sent a spell, and later combinations of spells, yet not one of them seemed to have their proper effect, though many did seem to do something. Some exploded like crackers while others would produce flowers or butterflies. By the time they had come to the end none of Harry’s spells did anything but amuse his headmaster, and by that time he had continued to find more strength until he was truly relentless with his casting. At the final point, Dumbledore held up his hand.
“Yes sir?” he replied with a shout.
“I’d like you to pay attention to my response to your next attack very carefully. This will be the first, and I dare say most important lesson I have ever taught about duelling and one lesson I recommend you relay to your students on their first day in class. Are you ready?”
Harry paused for just a moment, decided on a spell, and quickly shot a sleeping spell right at Dumbledore. His response was completely unexpected. He quickly and gingerly hopped right down from the platform watching the spell flying two feet over his head, and well off to the right, where its target had been standing a moment before.
Harry, shocked, hopped down and ran over to his professor.
“Are you alright professor?”
“Just fine, Harry. Now, what did you learn from that last attack.”
“Are you sure, sir? I mean, did I do something wrong?”
“You did everything perfectly, Harry. I am simply making a point. So again I ask, what did you just learn from what you just saw?”
“But I don’t understand, sir. You jumped down from the platform. That’s illegal, isn’t it?”
“Within the bounds of a legitimate wizard’s duel, yes it is. Indeed, if it were done in a proper duel it would be an automatic win for the one who remained on the platform. Yet there is indeed a very wise lesson to be learned here. Have you figured it out yet?”
Harry though for a few moments. Finally he responded soberly, “I’m sorry sir. I just don’t see it. You would have lost the duel by default.”
“And if it had been a Death Eater attacking me instead of you? What then would be your response to my taking the same action?”
“But if I had been a Death Eater you’d have been fighting for your life. That’s not a duel. That’s real… Oh.”
“Indeed. I believe we can leave it with that for today. Get a few minutes rest before Professor Snape arrives. I, however, must be on my way. I shall see you here again tomorrow morning?”
“Wonderful. You’ve done quite well today, Harry. I look forward to tomorrow.” And with a farewell smile Dumbledore took his leave, giving Harry some time to himself before Snape arrived.
At first Harry just stood there, mesmerised by all that had happened. Fifteen minutes ago he was actually afraid to cast any spell at Dumbledore yet not more than two minutes ago he was sending any and every legal spell he could think of at his headmaster as they were shrugged off like fleas on a dog.
Flustered by his thoughts, he decided to take a closer look around and before long he found himself standing in front of a door he never thought he’d see, at least not yet. But here it was, the office door of Deputy Professor Harry Potter.
Harry opened the door and stepped inside. He wasn’t quite sure what he expected, but this was definitely more than that. Harry guessed that Remus had a hand in the decorations because there were several things from the house here. He looked around and saw some pictures and some basic desk items from the drawing room arranged neatly about.
But what he liked seeing most was the set of cabinets going around the room in the same manner as Dumbledore’s office. Some of these were filled with volumes of books on Charms, Defensive Theory, and several odd books which looked to be taken straight from the Restricted Section of the library. But what warmed his heart were the shelves which had, spread about, each and every present he had received on his previous birthdays which were not either in his pocket or in his trunk, and many of those were soon to be added.
After a few minutes of looking around he found the letter which referred to many of the odds and ends of the classroom and he headed out to check out a few of the commands.
Many of the commands simply adjusted the floor into different positions. One set of commands would raise or lower the middle platform, another set for the outer four, and yet another would raise two groups of rows, each seven seats wide and nine back, along with two larger desks and a chalkboard up front. He had just issued this command when Professor Snape walked through the door.
“Good morning, Mr. Potter,” he said sternly.
“Good morning Professor Snape,” he replied with the calmest voice possible. It was still a bit unreal to try to have a normal conversation with Snape after all the years of hate that had, and on many levels still did exist. Still, he had to try.
“Have you anything in particular you would like to cover this morning?”
“Well, sir, I thought we might just go over the first few classes for each group, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Very well. Shall we begin? If I remember correctly there should be a command on the list to bring our two desks together, face to face. That should provide us with ample space to work together,” he said, a hint of malice still echoing in his voice.
Harry looked down the list and, sure enough, four more down was the command to bring them together. After he issued the command the desks simply grew feet and walked together before sitting themselves down in the middle. Harry walked to the desk to his right, which was on the same side of the room as the door to his office, and sat down. It took a few moments to register that there were drawers in this stone desk, but a moment later he opened one up, pulled out some parchment and a quill, and made ready.
The two of them worked for the next forty-five minutes on what they might do over the first week. It was almost immediately decided that they would share the lead role with the students. Harry would head the second years and the sixth and seventh years group for a week while Snape headed the first years and the third through fifth years group. That made a total of four groups on the schedule, so it divided nicely. The following week they would switch, and this would continue throughout the year.
This schedule worked out nicely for Harry because over half of the students he would be working with during his first week would be from the D.A. and the younger students would still be old enough to do more practical lessons than bookwork. This also meant, according to the schedule, that Harry would not head a class until next Tuesday, so he could spend all of Monday watching Snape teach and learn whatever he could, which he didn’t think would be much, about the ins and outs of teaching a full class.
The next logical step was to go over the curriculum for the next week. Of course this would take most of the rest of the week, but they were able to devise a semi-complete schedule of lessons for the first week for both the first and second years. The one disadvantage was that the scheduling would not allow them to split the classes into two houses at a time, so they would be working with, during the classes of third through fifth years, over a hundred and twenty students at one time.
And so they continued on, working out the Monday classes for Snape, seeing how he would be running the classes, but Harry was surprised to find Snape taking his advice as much as he gave. From time to time he would actually refer back to Harry’s days with the D.A. and ask how he would do this or that.
With five minutes before classes would get out Snape suggested that he put things away, asking him to meet again tomorrow at the same time. Harry, expecting to be here with Dumbledore an hour earlier, nodded in agreement and began to pick up his paperwork when he noticed Snape just dropping everything into the Desk.
“You will find that these draws match up with the ones in our offices, so if you drop your paperwork into the desk here you will find them waiting for you tomorrow in your office.”
“Oh, alright then,” he said, opening a drawer and dropping his work inside and grabbed the instruction list. “Well, if I’m going to be using this passage, I might as well get familiarised with it.”
With that he turned and headed for his office, coming to a stop just to the right of the door and, after comparing the notes with the picture frame, found the right series of knots in the wooden frame. Pressing the top, third, second and finally fourth knots in quick succession the portrait swung open to a small landing with stairs leading both up and down.
Since his first class of the day, The Applications of Conjuration, was on the second floor, he decided that it would be best to try his luck going downstairs. There was no landing on the second floor, but there was one on the third floor which he had already passed. However, he decided to follow the passageway all the way down to its bottom. Here he found another portrait back which, when he opened it, led out to a bright hallway.
He stepped out, letting the portrait close behind him, made another right and headed down the hallway. With each step the hallway got brighter and one side of the wall began to shrink, and after a few moments he realised that he was not in a hall at all, but in the walking space next to the Grand Staircase at the front of the school. He shook his head, utterly perplexed. He and Professor Dumbledore had passed by here just after they had just met in the Great Hall not but twenty feet from this very spot.
With a silly grin on his face, and knowing he only had a few minutes to get to his class, he ran up the grand staircase and headed to his next class.
The Applications of Conjuration, as it turned out, was a cross between Charms and Transfiguration. Basically, it was transfiguring nothing into something, like pulling a rabbit out of a hat so to speak. For once, it seemed, Ron had found his calling in magic.
The first two thirds of class was all writing, just like Transfiguration, but the last fifteen minutes or so they were able to try to conjure a snitch sized ball. Some of the students were able to produce a quick bubble, maybe half its size, and of course Hermione was doing great, having a ball of perfect size after only ten minutes, only to have it pop when she touched it.
But Ron, on the other hand, had not only conjured the same kind of ball as Hermione, but he picked it up and bounced it several times before it popped, and at the last second he produced a ball that passed the test of time, though it seemed to fade from one colour to the next every few minutes. It did, however, gain Gryffindor ten points and Ron was absolutely elated over the fact that he was finally able to do some kind of magic before Harry or Hermione, though he seemed to be trying to rub it in her face more than Harry’s.
Still, they all took lunch together and talked about their earlier classes, though more than half the topic was around Harry’s morning with Dumbledore and Snape.
“I can’t believe you actually tried to jinx Dumbledore. Are you completely off your rocker?”
“He told me to. And besides, it’s not like I stood any chance. You should have seen him. All he did was just sit there and block them, but not a single one so much as moved him an inch. By the time we were done, I was throwing everything I could think of, one right after another, and he looked like he could have fallen asleep if not for the occasional wave of the wand. It was bloody annoying, tell you the truth.”
“Still, Harry, you actually tried to attack Dumbledore. Can you imagine if even one of those spells had reached him?”
“Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t think anything I threw at him could have hit him, even if he had been asleep. I’m not sure how, but I think he had some kind of shielding spell that would have stopped anything short of the Avada Kedavra.”
“Don’t say that. Don’t even joke about using that spell, Harry. That’s a very…”
“Hermione,” Ron interrupted, “in case you forgot, Harry’s seen that spell used on more than one occasion. He knows what it does and what it’s all about. He was just making a point.”
“Still. He didn’t have to say it.”
“Hermione, even if I wanted to do it, which I never do, I would never use it on Professor Dumbledore.”
Not wanting to argue, Hermione let it go, and the rest of lunch was uneventful.
After Lunch, they all walked down to Herbology and worked with Fleshroot, a carrot like root of a flesh tone colour. Used in many potions to cure rashes and acne, its biggest purpose, unfortunately, was not for cures, but for a poison, which, if swallowed, would cause the person infected to begin growing roots right through their shoes and boring into the ground.
The antidote, unfortunately, took nearly half a year to work completely and anyone who succumbed to the effects of the poison would have to spend the next six months being trimmed in order to keep themselves from growing out of proportion, which, when the antidote finally worked, had been known to cause serious deformations.
After Herbology was Charms, and though it was nice to see professor Flitwick again, the class itself did not hold Harry’s interest for long. He was still thinking about his duel with Dumbledore, and more so about the impending duel he would probably have again tomorrow. He just didn’t understand what it meant when Dumbledore was so great a wizard, but it was he, not Dumbledore, who would be the end of Voldemort.
But how could that be if he wasn’t able to even scratch the one person Voldemort feared above all others. How could he stand a chance? The truth was he didn’t. He knew in his heart that he was never going to defeat Voldemort because he would never do the one thing he knew in his heart he would have to do, kill Voldemort.
This brought him back to the duel he’d likely have tomorrow. If only he could think of something that might throw Dumbledore off. If only he could get just one spell off, if even a hair growing spell, something. He just needed to know that, under the right circumstances, he could do something, anything, to get through. But he didn’t have a chance, he concluded, and he dropped his head again.
The rest of the day went by just as quick as Charms, but one thing Harry had begun to notice was that there were several people he had expected to see, maybe even talk to, which so far he hadn’t. As it turned out, however, one of them was going to make an appearance just after dinner.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione had just finished eating and were heading back to the library for some last minute reading when Harry felt a nagging ache in his chest, and as he turned his head around he found the subject of his ache. Draco Malfoy was walking behind them, his two goons in tow, and all three with their wands out, ready to fight.
Harry, however, did not reach for his wand, and when Ron and Hermione went for theirs after he told them what he had seen, he put his hands over theirs and stopped them.
“We’ve got two Prefects and a Deputy Professor here,” he said loudly, sure that Malfoy could hear. “If he tries anything, Slytherin will be doomed for the whole year. It would be at least fifty points for each of them, maybe more. I don’t think he’d want that.”
They continued down the hall and turned the corner to go up the stairs. As they turned at the midway point of the staircase, Harry looked back and saw Malfoy seething, Crabbe and Goyle with him. He noticed, however, that their wands were back in their cloaks, but the look Malfoy gave Harry would have killed were it possible. Harry just smiled, and as he did he could swear that even Malfoy’s hair had flushed with anger.
A few minutes later they arrived at the library, still laughing loudly. They went inside to find the second group Harry had expected to meet by now, only this time it was a very welcome surprise.
Sitting together at a large table was the visiting group from America. No more than five seconds after he had entered the library the American teacher stood up and came around the table towards him.
“Harry Potter. A pleasure to finally meet you. I’m Mr. Jones, but you can call my Dave. Let me introduce you to my class.
Around the table, each of the students stood up and introduced themselves.
“Mike Davidson, Foothill High, San Bernardino, California,” said the first boy, standing up straight. Harry got a very military type of feeling from this one, though he also looked like he was the oldest of the group, eighteen or nineteen by his guess.
“Sarah Thomas, Amador High, Pleasanton, California.”
“Lou Santino, Marks Academy, Mount Pleasant, New Jersey. Everyone calls me Big Lou.”
And so it went on, everyone calling their name and where they were from. It turned out that only three of them were from somewhere other than California and the New York, New Jersey areas. Three of them, in fact, were from the Marks Academy, but Harry hadn’t much paid attention to any of them. It was the second from the last person who’d captured his attention and he found it hard to avoid staring. When she finally stood, Harry was grateful to finally get to look without feeling too terribly stupid.
“I’m Amanda Johnson of California High in San Francisco. Nice to finally meet you. I’ve read a lot about you over the weekend. I’d love too talk with you some time, if you get the chance.”
Harry was about to accept when the last kid, soon to be a marked man, stood and introduced himself.
“Hi. I’m David Dodson from Fillmore High in Springfield, Illinois. It’s nice to meet ya. I’ve heard a lot about you, of course, from your cousin Dudley. He says that you were raised by non-magics after your parents were killed and that he looked after you and helped you out until you started developing your magic, and then you came to Hogwarts and started…”
“Davie. Let the man be. You can talk to him later, if he’d like. I’m sorry about that. Some of us are a bit more excited to be here than others. But it really is good to have had the opportunity to meet you, Mr. Potter. Or is it Professor now?”
“Harry, sir. I don’t start teaching classes until next week, and even then I’m only a deputy Professor in the classroom. Outside, I’m just plain Harry.”
“Well, if half of what we’ve heard and read is true, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to think of you as ‘just Harry’. But I digress. If it’s Harry you want to be called, then Harry it’s gonna be. Now then. Do you think, Harry, that you might be willing to give us a bit of real background? We’ve heard a bit about this guy everyone keeps whispering about, Valdamont. I remember something about him trying to kill you with a single curse when you were a child.”
“It’s Voldemort, and the Avada Kedavra curse. That’s right. I was just a kid, barely a year old when he killed my Mum and Dad.”
And so he continued with the story of how he’d become so famous. He was really surprised at how little they knew of what had happened to him over the years. By now Harry had assumed that every wizard and witch on the planet had known about him, but it looked like that was overstating it by quite a bit. Until a month ago most of these American kids had never heard of Voldemort or Harry Potter. It was quite refreshing. He stayed for a couple of hours, spending as much time as possible talking one on one just so he could have a few minutes talking to Amanda.
Amanda, like Harry, was pretty thin, though she did have a few extra curves that caught Harry’s attention. Her hair was short and blond, spiked and with dark tips, and adding her soft ocean blue eyes made looking at her body almost unnecessary, but not quite. He knew that he had to stop staring because sooner or later she would think something was wrong with him, but he couldn’t ignore that soft but firm face. He’d never met anyone like her, surely not at Hogwarts at any rate.
Several times he was rescued from staring at her for too long by questions from the other students, though more often than not he found himself shortly afterwards more annoyed than grateful.
Seconds later he found himself blowing off questions about Voldemort and the Triwizard tournament for much more important questions, like whether Amanda might prefer the Hogwarts robes over her own school uniform, only to find out there were no uniforms at all at her school.
Finally, at just after nine o’clock their professor suggested that they make their way to their hall, but he asked if they might call on him again some time this weekend. He seemed to think that with Harry’s Muggle upbringing that he might be better able to help them integrate into Hogwarts and he feared that with so little familiarity with wands that some of his students might need practice before they joined the third through fifth year class next week in The Art of Duelling Class.
He agreed and told the American professor that he would figure out when would be the best time and let him know by dinner the following night.
With that he bid them all farewell, shaking several of their hands and somehow finding a way to say goodnight to Amanda three times before she was gone.
As soon as they were all out of sight Hermione came up to him and nudged him in the ribs.
“She’s cute,” she said with a giggle.
“Yeah,” Harry replied longingly, then recovering, “Wait a tick. Who’s cute here?”
Ron, hearing these last words and somehow not liking the way the conversation was headed, popped his head out of a large book and asked too loudly, “Who’s cute?”
”Ron!” Hermione chastised, “Shh. It’s that American girl, Amanda I think was her name, right Harry?”
“Right. I mean wrong, or… what are you talking about?”
One look at his face and even Ron had caught on to what was happening.
“Oh. Harry’s got himself another girlfriend. Was it that brunette girl with the big…”
“The big what, Ron?” Hermione was completely flushed.
“Hair. The one with the really fluffy hair. You know, the one with the red shirt on under her robe.”
“How do you know what was under her robe?” Hermione asked, this time truly enraged. Ron didn’t get a chance to answer before, “Oh, who cares. I don’t want to know. I’m going to my room, in case you happen to notice.”
And a moment later it was just Ron and Harry.
“Absolutely, totally and completely bonkers. I swear, she may be the smartest girl in school, but some times she’s just doesn’t make a lick of sense.”
Shaking his head and figuring that if he didn’t interfere soon there may not be anything to interfere into, Harry finally threw up his hands and enlightened Ron to the one thing everyone else at Hogwarts seemed to know by now.
“Ron, she likes you. Get it? She likes you and you like her.”
“Of course I like her. She’s my friend, when she’s not acting stupid like now.”
“Ron, you really are a git some times. You two are in love, and she’s waiting for you to come out and say it. But if you don’t do it soon you may not get the chance. We’re in our sixth year now and the one of the three of us left that hasn’t dated is you, have you noticed that? I have, and I bet Hermione has too. That’s probably why she hasn’t tried dating on a serious level. Didn’t you ever stop to wonder why that is, or why she dumped Krum last year? Half of the girls at this school would have killed to be in her shoes and all she wanted was for you to ask her out. But if you don’t do it soon, that angry act she has with you might not remain an act. If I were you I’d go up there right now, apologise, and tell her how you feel.”
“It must be contagious. Come on. I’m taking you to the hospital wing.”
“Harry, there’s no way I like her. Not like that. She’s my friend and…” but Harry was putting up his hand.
“Once you admit it, Ron, things will be a lot better. Anyone who knows you and Hermione know that you two are made for each other, but she won’t wait forever, and if you keep denying what’s going on, when you finally decide on the truth you are going to be too late and you’re going to regret it. Trust me, I know. Remember Cho? Just think if I had asked her out before Cedric. How different would things have been? Heck, for all we know it might have meant the difference between him making it to the end of that maze or not, but we’ll never know. Now Hermione’s and your lives may not depend on it, but your happiness might. Just think about it, okay?”
“Whatever you say Harry,” Ron said, shaking his head. But even then Harry could see the gears in Ron’s head moving. Sooner or later he’d realise what he had to do. Harry just hoped it was sooner rather than later.
So Ron and Harry headed up to Gryffindor Tower. They made it just inside before Neville and Ginny began to bombard him with questions about their first Quidditch match. When Harry asked why he was being asked he got another shock, one that would have sent him over the edge had he not been half expecting it.
“Ron,” Ginny whined at her brother, “didn’t you tell him? We all got together on the train and voted you as captain of the team. Everyone agreed that you were the man for the job. After all, if you can face down a dozen Death Eaters, what’s a couple of Bludgers to you?”
Harry shook his head and tried, for the better part of an hour, to humbly decline before finally giving into peer pressure and accepting his new position as Gryffindor Quidditch Captain.
“Well,” Harry thought, “at least I still have ten minutes a day to myself.”
Hermione arrived just as Colin Creevey was coming out to remind Ron and Hermione that this was their night running the halls. This meant that they had to go out and walk around the castle making sure the students were all in their dorms when they were supposed to and not running about.
Harry wished them good luck and headed to bed.
Up in his dorm room he changed, said goodnight to Seamus and Dean who were playing wizards chess, and Neville who was reading yet another book on Herbology.
Laying back on his back in bed, thumbing his Medallion with his left hand, Harry was thinking about his new classroom, his talk with Dumbledore, then Snape, and each of his classes, none of which he could remember. Each time he thought of a class it would bring up the question of homework, and that would lead to why it hadn’t been done in the library, and that led to Amanda, and all else disappeared.
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