The remainder of the day went smoothly for Harry. None of his other classes got out early enough to meet Ginny, but his lunch picnic with her turned out to be enough to sustain him through the rest of his classes. He was looking forward to seeing her in the common room when all of their classes were done. He thought that they would have time for another walk around the grounds before they had to go to dinner.
He was looking forward to getting away from Ron and Hermione for a while anyway. They had been pestering him all day to tell them what he had done during the summer to suddenly become a whiz in every one of his classes. Harry had tried to tell them that it didn’t really matter as long as he kept earning points for Gryffindor. While they agreed that it was great that Harry had personally managed to earn more points on the first day than some of the houses usually got in the first six months; they still wanted to know what mutation he had undergone that made him able to answer any question, and perform magic that no other wizard had ever been able to.
Harry’s hopes of taking a late walk with Ginny and watching the sunset were not to be though, as Professor McGonagall walked into the common room and told Harry that Professor Dumbledore wanted to meet with him right away. Knowing that there was no way to get out of it, Harry left word with Neville of where he had gone, and told him to tell Ginny about it. It wasn’t until after he left that he wondered if Neville’s memory had gotten any better over the summer.
Professor McGonagall walked Harry all the way to Dumbledore’s office, and when she took him inside, Professor Dumbledore said, “You should stay for this as well since you are Harry’s head of house Professor McGonagall. You seem to have had quite an eventful day, Harry.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said, suspecting what the meeting might be about.
“From what I hear, you managed to earn one hundred and seventy five points for your house today,” Dumbledore said looking down over his glasses at Harry. “I asked you to come here about one hundred of those points. Professor Snape has filed a protest with me over your actions in Potions class today. He seems to think that you managed to cheat in some way on an oral quiz.”
“There was never any cheating, Professor,” Harry said. “There was no way for me to cheat. I had no prior knowledge that he would choose to give me a quiz or what would be on it, so there was no way to have arranged for anyone to help me.”
“How do you explain it then that you were able to answer every question correctly,” Dumbledore said calmly, “even though Professor Snape assures me the test was designed so that you shouldn’t have been able to answer correctly.”
“With all due respect to Professor Snape,” Harry said, “he has no way of knowing, in advance, what I might know. I spent a good part of the summer studying potion ingredients. That, in addition to what I uncovered in my own mind this past summer, was all I needed to know.”
“What do you mean, Mr. Potter?” McGonagall asked. “What did you uncover in your mind?”
“That is something that I will discuss with you, with Harry’s permission,” Dumbledore said, “after Harry is on his way back to the common room.”
“I don’t mind,” Harry said. “I think Professor McGonagall should know just in case something happens.”
“Thank you, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “I just need to tell you that I have reviewed Professor Snape’s complaint, and informed him that there is nothing that can be done unless he can show any evidence of cheating.”
“Thank you, Professor,” Harry said.
“You are welcome,” Dumbledore said. “By the way Harry, I hear that we also have you to thank for Professor Bane’s considerable good mood. I haven’t seen a Hogwarts teacher that excited since Professor McGonagall told me she had found a new seeker for her house team some years ago.”
Harry walked back to the Gryffindor common room expecting to find no sight of anyone since they would all be down at dinner. To his surprise, there was someone still there waiting for him.
“How was your meeting with Dumbledore?” Ginny asked.
“Fine,” Harry said walking over and taking her in his arms. “He just had to tell me about a complaint Snape had made to him.”
“You never did tell me why he let class out early,” Ginny said pulling back to look at him.
“I’m hungry,” Harry said trying to change the subject. “Why don’t we go down to dinner now.”
“Alright,” Ginny said taking his hand. “You can tell me all about Potions class on the way.”
Harry just smiled at her as he led her out of the common room. Knowing that she would drag it out of him or hear it from someone else anyway, he spent most of the trip to the Great Hall relating to her everything he could remember about his potions class. Unknown to Harry, it was his friendly conversation with Cassidy Silverwood that bothered her more than what had happened with Snape.
A cheer went up from the Gryffindor table as Harry and Ginny walked in. As usually happened at dinner, everyone checked on where the house points stood and found Gryffindor had jumped out to a substantial lead that the other houses would be hard pressed to catch. It hadn’t taken long for the tales of what Harry had done during the day to get around. From the way they congratulated him, a person would have thought he had just won the house cup for them single handedly.
As hungry as he might have been, it didn’t take long for Harry to grab some food and suggest that they get it to go. He told Ron and Hermione to grab Neville and meet him in the room of requirement.
Twenty minutes later, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Luna walked through the door into the room of requirement to find themselves standing in the Hogwarts Library. They spotted Harry and Ginny sitting at one of the tables, and went over and sat down with them.
“I just wanted all of you to be here so I could explain to you what I did over the summer,” Harry said. “Actually I spent most of it right here in this room.”
“In the room of requirement?” Hermione asked. “But Harry, that’s impossible. Hogwarts is closed over the summer. How would you have gotten in?”
“With this,” Harry said as he unwrapped a coin he had pulled out of his pocket and placed it on the table.
“Is that what I think it is?” Ron asked. “Is that a portkey?”
“Yes,” Harry said. “I made it last year before I left, so that I would be able to come back here when I wanted and then return to my room at the Dursley’s.”
“Brilliant,” Neville said. “You can’t do magic outside of Hogwarts, so you make a portkey to bring you back here so that you can.”
“But why?” Hermione asked.
“This is what you meant wasn’t it Harry?” Ginny asked. “At lunch today you told me that you had been working hard to prepare for your battle with Voldemort.”
“Right,” Harry said.
“I find it hard to believe that Harry Potter spent an entire summer reading and doing research,” Hermione said.
“I didn’t,” Harry said. “Remember that this room can be whatever I need it to be. Sometimes it was the library, but other times it was an assortment of other rooms. Sometimes it was the streets of Hogsmead, or the Forbidden Forest. I also did quite a bit of meditating.”
“So why the sudden change, Harry?” Hermione asked. “Studying and meditating aren’t things that we’ve ever associated with you before.”
“I should think it was Voldemort,” Luna said airily. “Perhaps Harry finally realized how close his battle really was.”
“That’s partially true,” Harry said. “At the end of last year I was having flashes of memory, but they weren’t memories that I should have remembered. They were Voldemort’s memories. At first I thought he was placing the thoughts into my head on purpose, but my occulemency practice had taught me how to block something like that from happening without my knowing it. I kept looking for external ways he might have been doing it, but eventually I thought to take a look internally.
“My meditations quickly showed me what I feared to be true. Professor Dumbledore always thought that Voldemort transferred some of his power to me the night he gave me my scar. That’s how he explained my being able to speak parcletongue. What I found was that he did much more than transfer some power to me. What he actually did was to copy everything he knew at the time into my brain without either of us knowing it.”
“Oh, Harry,” Ginny said horrified for him. “Please tell me you don’t have a memory of…”
“Killing my parents?” Harry asked. “Unfortunately, I have a clear memory of that and every other time he killed someone. Once I started digging to find these hidden memories, I couldn’t stop them from flooding back to me of their own will. I’ve been meditating all summer to calm my mind so I can keep a handle on which memories are mine and which are his, but they’ve become such a part of me that the line isn’t so clear cut all the time.”
“I’m so sorry, Harry,” Hermione said as tears dripped from her chin. “I never should have pressured you to tell us what you had been doing during the summer.”
“I’m sorry too, mate,” Ron said. “I can’t imagine what you must be going through.”
“I spent quite a bit of time feeling sorry for myself,” Harry said. “I won’t lie to you. I would love to have some of the memories taken out of my head somehow, but there are other things that I need to keep.”
“What could Voldemort give you that you would want to keep?” Neville asked.
“His knowledge of magic,” Harry answered. “His intellectual research abilities. The knowledge of what his favorite spells are and how they can be blocked. All of these things that I know about him, that he isn’t aware that I know, could be just the edge I need to defeat him once and for all.”
“So when you answered all of Snape’s questions in Potions today…” Ron said.
“I drew on those memories to help me get the right answer,” Harry said. “I know more about making potions right now than Snape could ever dream of. I’ve even been working on a special one of my own over the summer.”
“And the magic circle in Defense Against the Dark Arts?” Hermione asked.
“Only partially in that case,” Harry said. “Voldemort knew about circle magic and tried to produce one with a wand spell, but eventually gave up thinking it was impossible.”
“But you did it,” Neville said.
“Yes,” Harry said. “I used the room of requirement to make a room that had all of the information that had ever been written down about the study of circles. What I found out was that they had been around much longer than most people today give them credit for. They were all trying spells in Latin or Greek. I started trying some of the older languages and finally found out that Sanskrit got a reaction. After that it was just a matter of finding the right words.”
“Wait a minute.” Ginny said waving her hand. “What is all this about magic circles?”
“That’s right,” Hermione said. “I forgot that you weren’t there in class with us. I guess I thought Harry would have told you about it already.”
“I just managed to drag what happened in Potions out of him,” Ginny said. “I didn’t know there was anything else I should have been asking about.”
Hermione took the next few minutes to fill Ginny in on what Harry had done and how excited Professor Bane had been about it.
“But Harry,” Luna began, having just heard the story for the first time as well, “if this is something you didn’t want Voldemort to know about, you probably shouldn’t have revealed it to anyone in front of a class. If Professor Bane tells the wrong people in Slytherin it will be just an owl away from Voldemort knowing about it.”
“I realized that shortly after class had ended,” Harry said. “Before I went to meet Ginny, I went back to see Professor Bane. He agreed not to mention it to any of his other classes, and to only send owls to people he trusted with instructions to keep the information to themselves for a while. In exchange I agreed to go to America and give a demonstration to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classes at the school in Salem.”
“So you think one of these circles will help you to defeat Voldemort?” Ginny asked.
“Possibly,” Harry responded. “I really had another purpose in mind for them though. I was really thinking of it as a weapon against the dementors. Remember that a circle can be used for more than defense. I was working on a way to amplify a patronus charm using a circle.”
“But why, Harry?” Ron asked. “Your patronus is already strong enough to run the dementors off.”
“I’m not trying to run them off, Ron,” Harry answered. “I’m trying to kill them.”
“Can a dementor be killed?” Neville asked.
“I think so,” Harry said. “I’ve been doing some research here over the summer about them. Not many people realize that the dementors were once wizards. I guess you would say that they had formed sort of a cult that was obsessed with becoming immortal. They found a way to get their immortality, but by the time they realized what the price for it was it was too late. Since then they’ve turned into creatures that have to feed off of the very life force of others to survive. They have an existence that has trapped them in between life and death with no way to achieve either. I think that a sufficiently powerful patronus would be able to give them their final push into death.”
“Have you had any luck with it yet?” Hermione asked amazed.
“I have been able to make my patronus much stronger,” Harry said, “but I still haven’t been able to make it strong enough.”
“Do you mean to tell me that you’ve been testing it in this room all summer?” Ginny asked. “Do you have any idea how dangerous that was? You could have been killed by a dementor created in this room just as easily as a real one, and no one would have known until somebody came in here and found you.”
“At the time, I wasn’t really thinking about what happened to me,” Harry said. “If you remember, I was still dealing with losing Sirius on top of everything else that has happened since Voldemort killed my parents. It wasn’t safety I was looking for. It was revenge. I can’t be expected to think clearly with all of that running through my head.”
“Do you really think the dementors will be that much of a problem?” Hermione asked. “After all, they haven’t been heard from since they abandoned Azkaban and freed all of the death eaters they had there.”
“I think we should bet on it,” Harry said. “They’re still working for Voldemort. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he was just waiting to use them where he thought it would do the most damage.”
“If they or the death eaters come near this place,” Neville said with a determination that they had not heard from him before, “you can count on the D.A. to stand against them.”
“Which brings up another point, Harry,” Hermione said. “When are you going to call the first D.A. meeting?”
“I hadn’t really given it too much thought,” Harry said.
“I would expect an increased number of Ravenclaws to join this year, Harry,” Luna said. “There seems to be great interest since all of the members from last year did substantially better in Defense Against the Dark Arts than those who didn’t come to the meetings.”
“But we’ve only been back in school for one day,” Harry said. “How can there be that much interest already?”
“Well they all read the flyer of course,” Luna said.
“There’s a flyer?” Harry asked.
“I must have forgotten to mention that to you, Harry,” Hermione said. “I sort of took the liberty of handing out an information sheet to be posted on the common room bulletin boards about it. I didn’t think you would mind.”
“Oh of course not,” Harry said a bit sarcastically. “While we’re on a roll, does anyone else have anything they would like to confess while we’re all here?”
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