Reunion at Hogwarts
Mahou mo Ken
All rights to Harry Potter and its world, characters, and settings belong to JK Rowling. I don't own any of its characters, and I am not making any money off this.
Chapter seven – Reunion at Hogwarts
Harry groaned, opening his eyes to the rubble of what once was Hogwarts Castle. Lying on his side, he could feel the jagged rubble pressing into his injured side, and he groaned once more. Slowly, he fell over onto his back, biting another groan as yet more rubble pressed into his back. Looking up at the sky, he could see a psychedelic cacophony of iridescent colours. Beautiful, if psychotropic, blues, greens and reds gave way to purples, yellows, and colours that Harry wouldn't have been able to stick a name on, even if his brain had been functioning.
He groaned once more.
"I'm glad to see you're awake enough to enter here," a voice stated, and Harry's eyes roamed over to the new arrival. He groaned.
Maya went down to one knee next to him, her face etched with worry. "I don't know what you did, Harry. All I could feel was the emotional backlash of you fighting. I didn't want to look in, in case it broke your concentration."
He groaned again, feeling very articulate for being able to communicate through the grunts and groans. She nodded. "I know. You're barely able to function, even in here." She stooped down, and her gentle hands went under his back. "Come on, let me get you some place more comfortable." She lifted his limp mental projected effortlessly.
"Ack," Harry grunted as his body left the jagged rubble. She stepped away then, and Harry's field of vision shifted. He could see what remained of his Hogwarts Castle, the stones smashed, smoke still rising from where fires destroyed the most valuable objects he had imagined into being.
Soon, he was gently deposited on soft, if totally blackened, grassy remains. He grunted again. Maya sat down next to him, and nodded seriously. "Yes, you really did a number on it, Harry. I never knew one could wipe one's own mind so many times and still be sane… You actually destroyed your safe place, burnt the grass and the buildings, and even managed to scorch the skies." Harry grunted, still on his back, the wild display of colour all he could see.
Maya turned to look at him again. "You're more or less safe, I'd imagine," she then said. "If not, you'd be a lot more agitated. I think you're on potions, too."
He slowly rotated his head, and looked at her. "I," he croaked, his throat raspy. "T-think so."
She nodded once more. "Come on, let's try something. You need energy if you're to heal, and I think I can help you. Worst case scenario, nothing happens." Harry grunted and affirmation, and Maya smiled in return.
He groaned in pain as she pulled him into a sitting position, his legs crossed. She then sat down in front of him, and held out her hands. Getting the picture, he slowly managed to get his hands into hers. His projection was sluggish, and moved with great difficulty. Pain shot through him at every turn, and he was amazed he was actually able to keep things together as much as he was.
Maya closed her eyes, and Harry did the same, hoping that he wasn't supposed to be doing something besides sitting upright and breathing. He felt a tingle cross through him then, and he felt better immediately.
Had Ken been there, she would have seen the remains of the blackened grass be torn from the ground as a violent wind swept up. Energy crackled through the projection, the skies turning dark violet and black, the light present diffused as the transfer continued.
For Harry, that first gentle trickle had given way to a hose-like wave of energy, filling his reserves, boosting his body. But it was still not enough… feeling the drain on his body as it tried to mend, he lashed onto that downpour, not willing it to stop, not realizing what he was doing until it was violently torn off.
He gasped deeply, feeling the energy transferred into him vanish almost as fast as he had gotten it, but still feeling better for it. Somehow, he found it easier to move here.
He opened his eyes, and found Maya sitting in front of him, panting deeply, sweat on her face. "You… you would have bled me dry if I hadn't shut it off," she grunted darkly, sounding halfway between awed and angry. "How much more could you possibly need!?" she then asked.
He shrugged slowly, deliberately. "A lot," he replied, his voice responding a lot better now. He smiled at her. "Thank you. I really needed that."
She waved it off. "It's nothing more than what you would do… and have done… for both me and Sensei." She looked around, and saw that things were starting to repair themselves. "Your mind's healing, finally," she stated. "I think you'll wake up in about ten to twelve hours." She looked at him. "It might go faster if you're not here to be a drain on your body. Would you like to visit?"
"Visit?" Harry asked.
She nodded. "Yes. We're always meeting in your mind… but how would you like to visit mine? Mind you, it's not as impressive as this one is."
He grinned. "I'd like that. How do I do it?"
She held out her hand. "Just grab my hand, I'll show you. After that, you can pop by for a visit whenever you want… just make sure I'm not in the shower or something."
He chuckled. "I'd say the same to you, but I don't think it's necessary."
Maya turned and looked at him. "You know, I said that mostly as a joke… I didn't think it was necessary either." She held out her hand, and Harry took it.
He felt himself pulled along the magical connection they shared since linking their magic, and soon found himself in a nicely decorated and furnished room. "It's strange," she said, continuing their conversation. "I trust you completely, even if we've only met a couple of months ago."
Harry nodded. "It's the same for me," he said, looking around the room, immediately feeling the difference with his own mental area. Even though it was smaller, he could feel the more powerful energy present. It was as if the air was vibrating with it, the walls and the furniture glowing with it.
Maya noticed his stare. "It's my representation of my... our... room at Sensei's house," Maya explained. "And this is the result of years of training. You'll get there eventually; you're making incredible progress."
He nodded. "Thanks."
She smiled at him. "I'd suggest you get some rest. Let your body and mind heal while your consciousness gets some rest." She motioned for the futon. He nodded, and smiled in thanks.
Maya dipped her head. "You're welcome. Now, I'll leave you… I have to tell Sensei about your visit." She glanced at the door. "Can I ask you not to go look around in my mind?" She shrugged. "There's nothing in here I don't want you to see, I trust you to keep my secrets, but still…"
"it's private, I know," Harry replied. "I feel the same way."
She shot him one last smile, and vanished.
Harry looked at the sliding door. He knew somehow that it was unlocked, and that he could just slide it open and step into Maya's mind.
Instead, he turned to the bedroll, fell into it, and was asleep within seconds.
Outside, Maya slowly blinked open her eyes, and groaned slightly as she released her meditative pose. Rising to her feet, she felt her knees and her back pop, and her eyes drooped. She could almost feel the drain on her body, as bad as it had been the first couple of times she had gone over to Harry's mind. It was incredible, she thought, how far they had come. She used to be forced to project herself over to Harry. Now, she could just pop over, and be sustained from his mind.
And right now, he was over in her mind, resting, while she sustained his mind. She didn't mind, really, their connection allowing them to do these things as if they were second nature.
Slowly, she walked into the house, to her room, and fall asleep herself. The transfer to Harry had drained her, and now his mental presence was weighing on her mind as well. She slid the door open, and stepped inside, changing her shoes to indoor slippers, and shuffled to her room.
"Maya?" ken asked, looking her apprentice up and down. "What happened to you, my young Apprentice?"
Maya swallowed. "Sensei. Harry... Harry was forced to fight. I could feel the mental stress it caused him. He... he was hurt, badly. He finally woke up in the mindscape, and I transferred some of my magical reserves to him."
Ken was silent for almost ten seconds. "You can do that?"
Maya nodded. "Our connection has grown tight and strong, Sensei. I transferred my energy to him, and now he's resting."
Again, her teacher regarded her, before accepting the statement. "Where is he? Is he safe?"
Maya smiled genuinely. She tapped her temple. "He's resting. In here."
Ken's eyes grew wider for just a few seconds, before smiling slightly, and nodding. "Go to your room, Maya. I'll bring you something that will help you recover your magical reserves more quickly."
"Thank you, Sensei," Maya whispered gratefully, shuffling to her room. Ken stared after her apprentice. Whatever had happened between her two apprentices, it sure had amazing results. To be able to go to the other's mind, and recuperate there... to be able to share magic at will... to be able to feel and talk to each other across such distances... Ken smiled, turned, and walked to the apothecary. Thanks to her job, she always had a stock of different potions on hand, and she knew a couple that would benefit her apprentice greatly.
She hoped that her second apprentice, over in Great Britain, had someone looking out for him as well.
Harry woke up, feeling quite a bit better than he had before going to sleep. He could feel that his body was about ready to wake up now, and looked around the room. Finding a piece of paper and a ballpoint pen in one of the drawers of the glowing desk, Harry sat down and wrote a short note. He could feel that Maya was asleep, and did not want to bother her.
Enjoying the feel of a ballpoint instead of a quill, Harry wrote.
Thank you for the sleepover. I feel a lot better!
I could feel you're asleep, and my body is about to wake up. I think I should go.
When you're awake, and you can feel I'm awake too, drop me a note and we can talk.
You were really there for me when I needed you, oneesan, and I want you to know I will not forget it.
Talk to you later,
Harry read the note, only now realizing it was completely written in Japanese, and smiled slightly. He had always been guarded with his emotions, but somehow, with Maya, things were easier. Maybe it was the connection they shared.
He left the note on the desk in Maya's mindscape, and winked out of existence.
Harry let out a small groan as he blinked open his eyes. His entire body ached and smarted; he felt worse than he had felt the last time he had gone up against Death Eaters. Of course, at that time, he hadn't been able to do the things he had done this time, nor had he taken two diffindo-curses to the chest, or a reductor to the side.
Realizing it was night, he gritted his teeth to hide his groans as his spirit reawakened his injured body. Slowly, he looked around. The Hospital Wing was hidden in twilight, obscuring many of the details Harry knew were there. He had been here often enough, after all. In the bed next to him was a familiar girl; waist-length blond hair shining the moonlight streaming through the window.
And her eyes were open.
He blinked; not really trusting himself to accept what he was seeing.
"Luna?" His voice broke, his throat was raw and it hurt to talk.
She turned her head, her eyes shifting from the ceiling to him. She looked all right to him... why was she in the Hospital Wing? A smile appeared on her lips and reached her eyes as she settled them upon him. "It's nice to see you awake, Harry," she replied evenly. "I was afraid you had fallen to the Wrackspurts. Usually, they just make your brain go fuzzy, but in extreme cases, they can make you fall asleep and never wake up."
Harry smiled slightly, hoping it was reassuring to her. "No Wrackspurts here, Luna," he whispered, voice still hoarse. He swallowed with a dry mouth. No luck, his mouth and throat was still raw and dry. "I'm sorry, Luna," he then said.
She blinked, and frowned. "Whatever for?" she asked.
Harry sighed, his head rolling back and his eyes focused beyond the ceiling. The horrible film in his memories played again; Luna screaming under the Cruciatus as he tried without success to shield her. "I even got you landed in the Hospital Wing," he whispered sadly.
"Oh, that," Luna said, as if nothing bad had happened. "I just got a little over-exposed to the Cruciatus Curse. My nerves are still somewhat jumpy, it makes it hard to make small movements. Madam Pomfrey tells me that I'll be all right by morning."
"You did something nobody else ever did," Luna went on. "You refused to step away." She swallowed audibly, and resumed her staring at the ceiling, now that it was obvious that Harry wasn't going to look back at her. "You stood between me and took two spells meant for me. You fought for me." She swallowed again. "And almost got yourself killed."
For the first time, Harry could hear her voice changing to something other than endless optimism. She sounded afraid, and worried.
"I'm sorry," he whispered again. "For making you worry."
Luna's head snapped in his direction, and it looked as if she were furious. He didn't know, he couldn't see that well without his glasses. "You saved my life, Harry," she stated, sounding fully lucid now.
"I have to say that she's right, Potter. You saved all of us that day," a voice sounded from the other side of the room. Harry tried to look, but without his glasses, it was impossible to discern the face of the new speaker.
He groaned as he tried to get to his glasses, but his wounds were only freshly healed and his arms refused to budge. He tried to speak, but his sore and raw throat had finally had enough, and just a dull croak sounded.
He cursed silently, turning his head to look at the table next to his bed. There where his glasses. There was also a glass of water, which would undoubtedly help his sore throat. He once more tried to get to them, but his arm budged only slightly.
Luna slipped from her bed. As he saw her nearing him, he noticed how she moved carefully, as if unsure of her own balance. She fell onto the bed next to him.
Gently, carefully, she helped him sit upright, and he could feel tremors move through her arms and hands as she did so, the after-effects of Cruciatus over-exposure. He groaned dully against the pain in his chest and side as she moved him, and he let out a breath of relief as he finally was able to sag against her. She was warm... warm and soft. Luna reached for the glass of water, grabbing it with both her hands, making sure that he remained upright and leaning against her as her trembling hands brought the glass to his lips.
"Careful," she said, gently. "Don't try and drink too much."
He nodded, and she tiled the glass against his lips. Cool water entered his mouth, and Harry swallowed reflexively. Another mouthful followed. Gently, Luna held the water as he drank, until he finished the glass. Detachedly, he realized that she was very good at this.
"Thank you," he breathed, and a smile spread on her lips. She moved his glasses to his nose after putting the empty water glass down, and the room blurred into focus. He glanced around, and noticed that the person who had spoken to him earlier was Daphne Greengrass.
"As much as it pains to say, I agree with her, Potter," Daphne repeated. "You saved all our lives." she blinked, and looked ashamed. The girl in the bed next to her, Tracey Davies, looked just as ashamed.
Harry frowned. Were they ashamed he had saved their lives? That they needed his help? "I saw you were in trouble," he replied, his voice sounding better now that he had drank something. "I couldn't leave you to die... you were trying to save someone."
Daphne and Tracey looked up at him, a smile of gratitude fluttering on their lips before vanishing again. "Thing is, Potter..." Daphne said, trailing off, uncertain. "You should have let us die."
Harry blinked. Of all the things he had thought about Slytherins, suicidal was not one of them. "Why?" he asked finally. Luna moved slightly, and he winced in pain before relaxing against her in his new position. He looked at her. "Thanks," he whispered.
She graced him with an airy smile. He focused his attention back on the two Slytherin girls on the other side of the room. Detachedly, he realized that this was the first time he was sleeping in the same room as a bunch of girls... girls that weren't his sister, anyway. Attractive girls, too. He moved slightly against Luna, who was still propping him up so he could see Daphne and Tracey. Luna was dressed in a nice white nightgown, embroidered with little animals he couldn't identify. It was so Luna that he couldn't imagine her wearing anything else.
He vaguely realized his mind was wandering, and he wondered what kind of potions the school nurse had poured down his throat. He focused back on Daphne, realizing that she was finally answering his question.
"You saved our lives, Potter," she said, looking at the sheets. "We owe you a Life Debt. I want you to know... I want you to know that you can do anything you want with us." She glanced at Tracey, who nodded. "Or to us," Tracey finished, looking from her friend to Harry.
Harry blinked. "Thanks, I guess..." he replied. "But I don't want to do anything with or to you. I saved your lives, I'm just glad to survived."
"We wanted you to know, Potter... Harry," Daphne said. "But there is something else we should tell you. And then... then you might want to take us up on that offer."
Harry frowned slightly. It was the first time anyone from Slytherin House, other than Draco Malfoy, had called him by his first name. He found the experience rather startling, but a nice development all the same. The second part of her statement, on the other hand, filled him with dread.
"You see... Harry..." Tracey said, sounding unsure of her use of his first name, but finding he didn't mind. "We are the children of the Dark Lord's Death Eaters."
Harry blinked. "You think I'd hold it against you that your parents are Death Eaters?" he asked, incredulously.
Daphne shook her head, taking up the tale. "No... but you see, this summer... we were called before him. We had no choice, we had to come... and then he gave us a mission. We couldn't refuse, really..."
Harry nodded, feeling cold all of a sudden. "I can understand that... go on."
"He asked us to spy on Hogwarts," Tracey said. "We... we told him of the Hogsmeade visit."
Harry swallowed. His vision blacked out, and he felt Luna grab hold of him. He guessed he must have been trembling, as she held him quite hard. Finally, his ragged breathing evened out and his sight swam back, slowly.
"You're responsible for this," he whispered hoarsely.
Daphne looked at the sheets on her bed, and nodded, as did Tracey. "When... when we realized what was happening... we tried to stop it," Daphne whispered. "We didn't know..."
A quote from somewhere struck his mind. "Ignorance is a poor excuse," Harry whispered, his weak voice sounding like a gunshot through the Hospital Wing. "What else... what else did you tell him?"
For the next ten minutes, Tracey and Daphne confessed everything they had written to the Voldemort, every report they had made, every little bit they had told.
Harry was silent for over five minutes after they finished, the Hospital Wing completely silent safe for the breathing of four injured teens, and the occasional rustle of bedsheets. Finally, Harry opened his mouth, and spoke.
"Great. Just great," he whispered, turning his head to look out the window. Finally, he sighed, and looked back at them.
"And now?" he asked.
"Now we run," Daphne said. "We betrayed Voldemort. He's going to come after us when he realizes." She glanced at Tracey. The other girl just nodded.
"We can't go home. Our parents will just hand us over," Tracey added. "We can't stay here. Too much of a target."
Harry sighed. He knew what it was like, to be looked at with mistrust, to not have a home, to be alone. He looked at Luna. She was the only one of his Inner Circle that was present at the moment.
"What do you think, Luna?" he whispered to her.
Luna was silent, and looked at the two girls. "They owe you a Life Debt. In itself, that's a big deal, but it does not mean they can't betray you."
Harry nodded, and turned to look back at the Slytherins, who were looking down again. He knew all about that... Peter Pettigrew, aka Wormtail, had betrayed him even though the man owed him a Life Debt. "Will you both swear Witch's Oaths, never to betray me, act always in my best interests, and join us in the fight against Voldemort?"
Daphne and Tracey looked at each other. "Why?" Daphne finally asked.
Harry smiled slightly. "I may know a way to save you... on the condition you swear the oath, and if you join us in the fight against Voldemort."
Again, both girls shuddered as Harry spoke that awful name so casually. "You'll need to get used to that," Harry said, smiling slightly. "None of that You-Know-Who bollocks with me."
Again, the girls looked at each other, before nodding, drawing their wands, and stating the incantation.
"I, Daphne Greengrass, swear on my Life and my Magic to never betray Harry Potter, to always act in his best interests, and to join him in the fight against V-V-Voldemort."
"I, Tracey Davies, swear on my Life and my Magic to never betray Harry Potter, to always act in his best interests, and to join him in the fight against V-V-Vol-Vol-de-mort."
Magic flashed around the Hospital Wing as two Witch's Oaths completed. Harry nodded. "Good. Now that those are done, and you can't betray me, I'll ask again. Were the things you told me the only things you did in service of Voldemort?"
"Yes, Harry," Daphne said.
"Yes, Harry," Tracey replied after her friend.
Harry nodded. "Good. Then I didn't make a mistake... I wouldn't have liked to offer a chance to someone who had actually, directly, killed someone, or who had been a full Death Eater."
Daphne and Tracey stared at him, while Luna just remained silent, seemingly enjoying the feel of Harry leaning against her. Harry moved slightly. He was enjoying the feel of Luna against him, too.
"I'm not Dumbledore," Harry replied. "I'm not about to let my pet Death Eater get away with murder. I feel you two deserve another chance, but only because your crimes only supplied Voldemort with information he probably already knew anyway. And he most certainly will know of my new fighting abilities now, after Lucius Malfoy does his report." Harry sighed. "Too bad about Hogsmeade, but that too, is something he probably already knew." He shook his head.
"I'll talk with Dumbledore in the morning," he whispered, feeling his strength ebb. "I think I'm going to go back to sleep now."
Luna nodded, and slowly eased him back to a lying position. Before she could walk away, he managed to hold on to her hand, even with his arms that were still not moving too good. "Thank you, Luna."
She smiled at him. "Accepting help is a good thing, Harry," she said, smiling. "We all wanted to help. We all knew the risks." she smiled, detached her hand, and walked, gingerly, back to her bed.
"Good night," he wished them all. His eyes closed, and he was back asleep before the trio of female 'good nights' reached him.
Harry slept a dreamless sleep, not even reaching the mindscape as his body and mind recuperated from the recent stresses. He awoke the next morning, feeling incredibly hungry, but oddly awake.
The drapes around the beds of Daphne and Tracey were drawn, and Harry couldn't overhear what was being said. Obviously, a masking charm of some sort was in place, and he resigned himself to waiting until the examination was complete. He never opened his eyes, choosing instead to remain in his half-dream half-awake state.
His rest was of short duration, however, as Albus Dumbledore entered not five minutes after he had woken.
"Good morning, Harry," the old man said as he sat down next to Harry's bed. For just a moment, Harry's eyes flickered to Luna, whose bed had not yet been hidden by the privacy drapes. The blonde looked back at him and graced him with a good morning smile.
Feeling oddly relieved that she was still there, he looked at the Headmaster. Seeing the sword leaning against his bed, his left hand reached for it, and calmly rested on it. The strength of the blade seemed to seep up his arm, filling him with tingling energy.
"Good morning, Professor," he said.
"I'm glad to see you are feeling better, Harry," Dumbledore spoke. "Your friends would have been here, had I not asked them for five minutes of your time."
Harry shrugged; he wouldn't doubt his friends any more. He had seen them in Hogsmeade, he had seen them cover each other. They had fought together in a way they hadn't done in the Department of Mysteries, they had bled together, they had defended each other. Such an action caused a bond; a bond he wasn't about to go back on now. "I understand, Sir," he said. "How can I help you?"
He wanted to curse how weak his voice still sounded. He wanted to project at least some measure of strength, of reassurance, but his dry throat made it impossible for him to do so. His right hand managed to grasp his glasses, and at last, the world swam into focus. Reaching back, he grabbed the replenished glass of water and gulped thirstily from it.
"Not too fast, Harry," Luna said from her bed.
He stopped drinking, and glanced at her, smiling in her direction. "You're right, Luna," he replied.
"Miss Lovegood certainly is," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling. "Now, Harry, what I wanted to talk about. What happened between you going after Miss Lovegood, and the time we managed to reach you?"
Harry stared at the Headmaster. "I ran after them. I came across a Death Eater trying to kill Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davies. I think I killed him... I threw a couple of spells at him, saw him go down. I didn't stop to check on them..." Harry swallowed. "I entered the Forbidden Forest from the other side."
Harry told Dumbledore what had happened, how he had killed the man who was about to kidnap Luna, how Lucius Malfoy had been there, how he had fought the Death Eater named Gibbon. How his strongest spells were not enough, how they had fought to a standstill until the man had started to target Luna.
Harry looked away, and stared at his right hand in front of him, his left hand tightening around the handle of his sword. Harry's voice dropped to a near-whisper as he told how the best he could do was jump in front of the spells and take them himself.
"I killed him, too..." Harry whispered, looking up and staring into space. "With my sword." He blinked slowly and looked at Dumbledore. "Something happened. I don't know what. I just kept thinking I wouldn't let anyone get hurt because of me, and then I was able to draw my sword. I killed him."
"And then Lucius Malfoy hit me in the side, point-blank range, with a Reductor. He was faster than me," Harry finished.
Dumbledore just nodded. "You've exhausted my patient long enough, Headmaster. I must insist that you leave now, and let me examine him," the matron-like voice of Madam Pomfrey reached the duo, and Dumbledore slowly stood up and smiled at the school's nurse. "Of course, Poppy." He turned to Harry. "Get well soon, Harry. A lot of people see you as their hero now. We had to spell the doors to the infirmary shut, as students kept trying to sneak in."
Harry smiled slightly, and Dumbledore stepped away, nodding at Luna as he passed, and walked out the door. Harry noticed that the drapes around Daphne's and Tracey's beds were gone.
"How are you?" Harry asked the two Slytherins.
They looked startled for a moment, not seeming to realize why he would care, but Daphne finally answered, "I'm doing better, Harry. Thanks. My leg was shattered, but it should be strong enough in a couple of hours."
Tracey nodded as well. "I'll be fine too, Harry. I got hit with a Dark hex to my arm. It might be stiff for a while, but I should be out of here by this afternoon."
"If you're quite done, Mr Potter," the nurse said with a small smile, her hand on the drapes, about to pull them closed.
"If you wouldn't mind, Madam Pomfrey, could you leave the drapes open?" Harry asked. "I'd like to talk for a few minutes, if it's okay."
The nurse startled for a few seconds, then shrugged. "I'll need to look at that wound on your side, Mr Potter."
Harry shrugged. It wasn't as if the girls would be seeing something they shouldn't see. He looked at Luna. "And you, Luna? Are you doing better?"
Madam Pomfrey smiled slightly and began her examination. Luna nodded. "I'm much better. I might be released by this afternoon."
Harry nodded. "I'm glad." A small smile spread on his lips. "I'm sorry I got you into this, Luna, but I'm glad you were there with me, and I'm glad you'll be fine."
"We're sorry we got you into this, Harry," Daphne said, feeling that it needed to be said. Harry was silent as the nurse worked, then looked over to the two Slytherins.
"As I told you last night, you didn't tell him anything he didn't already know," Harry grunted. The nurse stiffened.
"You shouldn't have been up, Mr Potter," she stated.
"I was awake for a few minutes, and so were they," Harry said. "We talked for a few minutes, then I went back to sleep."
"I'll need to lift your shirt and look at that wound, Mr. Potter," the nurse said. Harry managed to sit up, with some help of the nurse, and she lifted his shirt.
"You know," he said on a conversational tone, "You've seen me in quite a few embarrassing, not to mention, topless, states. When are you going to call me Harry?" he asked the nurse.
The stoic Madam Pompfrey actually chuckled. "Very well, Harry." Her wand flicked over the pinkish skin on his side. "Your internal wounds were worse than the skin, Harry," she said at his look. "It is worse than it looks. I think I might have to keep you overnight, until tomorrow, at least."
Harry bit back a groan of disappointment. Luna looked over.
"Nurse Pomfrey, I think I might be having a relapse," she stated even though she didn't look it. "I think I might have to stay until tomorrow, too."
Madam Pomfrey, who had started to turn around at the first part of the statement, actually stopped when the second part left the blonde's mouth. She turned slowly.
"I think my leg is starting to throb again," Daphne said, grabbing her leg. "I might have to stay too... and I was so looking forward to getting out of here."
Tracey grabbed her arm. "My arm, Madam. I feel like it's going to fall off. I might have to stay as well..."
Madam Pomfrey shook her head. "This is not a hotel, ladies," she said, waving her wand over Luna. "Hm. It actually does look like you might have some residual Cruciatus aftershock. She walked to Daphne. "Your leg isn't healing the way I want it too, Miss Greengrass. I'll keep you in observation for the night, I think." She just looked at Tracey, didn't even bother with her wand. "You're not looking too good, Miss Davies. Perhaps another night will clear you up."
All three girls just nodded solemnly. Harry was fighting to hold in his laughter as the nurse returned and went back to her examination of him.
"Might I ask, Madam Pomfrey, what happened to my dragonhide armour?"
The nurse sighed. "It saved your life, Harry, but it nearly killed you, as well. We were lucky I was able to get some blood-replenishing potions in you, because it took Headmaster Dumbledore nearly fifteen minutes to cut it off you. I guess he couldn't have used stronger spells, but we didn't want to run the risk of hurting you even more."
Harry nodded. "So, it's..."
"It's been destroyed in the process, Harry. I'm sorry about that, but if you hadn't had it on, you would have been killed. It absorbed an inordinate amount of damage. The Headmaster could find traces of all kinds of spell damage."
Harry nodded once more. He wasn't too sorry about losing the armour. It had done it's job, and it had saved his life.
"You can lie down again, Harry," the nurse said and Harry gingerly laid down again. "I'll go let your friends in."
Harry nodded. As the nurse walked to the doors of the infirmary, he looked at Luna, Daphne, and Tracey. "Thanks. You didn't have to do that."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Potter," Daphne snapped playfully. "My leg is throbbing. It hurts terribly."
"And my arm still feels like it's about to fall off. Bloody dark Curses," Tracey griped.
Luna smiled at Harry. "You're welcome, Harry."
He burst out laughing, soon taking the other three with him. And that's how his friends found him, laughing along with a Ravenclaw and two Slytherin witches.
"Harry!" Hermione shouted, rushing to him to give him a big hug. Harry managed to contain his 'umph', just hugging the excited witch, as always a little self-conscious and uncomfortable with the close physical contact. He reached around Hermione to shake Ron's hand.
"Hey mate, glad to see you're up," Ron said as Hermione released Harry.
Harry grinned to hide the wince of his tender side, and looked his friends over. Hermione looked good, safe for a nasty-looking patch of recently healed skin over her right cheek. Ron looked good too; the only sign he had been in a battle was his left hand, completely engulfed in bandages.
Catching him looking them over, Hermione tried to put him at ease. "Don't worry, Harry... we were lucky. A flesh-eating curse just grazed my cheek. Ron was a little worse off, but Madam Pomfrey healed the cut in his hand quite nicely."
"Yeah, mate, all I have to do is keep it covered until the end of today. She said I was really lucky, is it didn't hit any of the bones in my hand," Ron said, sitting down on the other side of Harry.
Harry sighed. More people had gotten hurt because of him. "I'm sorry you got hurt," Harry said. He looked around the room, glancing at Luna and the two Slytherins on the other side of the Hospital Wing, anything to try and avoid the eyes of his closest friends.
"Harry, look at me," Hermione stated. Harry couldn't help but look directly at her at the command.
"Yes, we got hurt, but they jumped us, and there was nothing you could have done. Instead, you protected us. You told us what to do. If it hadn't been for you, we might have gotten hurt worse... or killed."
Harry's stomach flipped. He had killed. It had been so ridiculously easy... just say the incantation, and wave the staff...
It's alright, Harry... as long as you can feel these things, you aren't evil, Maya counselled in his mind. Sorry, little brother, I shouldn't have eavesdropped.
That's all right, Oneesan. Are you all right?
Maya's mental voice chuckled. I'm fine, don't worry about me. It looks like you are the one who's bad off. Now, don't feel bad about killing those men. They would have killed you.
Harry sighed audibly. "I'm sorry you got hurt because of me," Harry grunted again.
Harry, you idiot, Maya stated coldly. Your friends were in a horrible battle. They are feeling just as bad as you are, no doubt. Don' tell them you're sorry. Thank them for being there. Tell them that you wanted nobody else next to you in a fight.
Just thank them, Little Brother. They're your friends, and they gladly stood next to you. Instead of you brooding over them getting hurt, thank them for being there, next to you.
Harry gave the equivalent of a mental nod, and looked at Ron and Hermione. "I really do feel bad about what happened... but I guess it couldn't be avoided, with them jumping us in Hogsmeade and all. I just... I wanted you to know... I was glad you were there. Thanks."
Hermione's eyes shone suspiciously as she hugged him, while Ron just had a big smile on his face as he clapped Harry on the shoulder. Harry winced audibly, and Hermione pulled back immediately and started scolding Ron for forgetting that Harry had been hit with Slashing Hexes. Harry turned and looked at Luna. "That goes double for you, Luna. You got hurt worse... all because they wanted to hurt me. I'm sorry, and thank you."
Luna smiled. "You would have done the same for me," the silver-eyed blonde said.
"In a heartbeat," Harry replied. He looked over at the two Slytherin girls, who were doing their best to seem impassive and uninterested in what was going on. He grinned and winked at them. For a moment, surprise shone on their faces, before being hidden beneath the patented Slytherin mask of indifference.
"You two as well," Harry said. "You got hurt, protecting someone. Thank you."
For a few moments, Tracy and Daphne didn't know what to say. While they were trying to make up their minds, Hermione and Ron had stopped bickering, and were staring at Harry.
"Bloody Hell, mate, since when are you so friendly with Slytherins?" Ron exploded. Harry sighed inwardly, he should have guessed that Ron would explode at them being Slytherins rather than hear what he had said.
"Since they got hurt trying to protect a six-year-old from Death Eaters," Harry replied calmly. He winked at the two girls once more when he saw the look of gratitude they shot him.
"They're Slytherins, man!" Ron grunted out. "For all we know, it's a ploy to get them close to you and spy!"
Harry felt his right hand clench into a fist, his left hand dropping to his sword once again. The comforting energy from the blade propped him up, his own reserves still dwindling as they tried to heal the damage done to him. "Ron, you're my best mate, but I'll say this only one more time." He looked at Ron, his eyes drilling into Ron's. "We managed to talk. They're good people. They got hurt trying to defend someone. Now drop it."
Ron didn't get the hint of anger that was beneath Harry's calm tone, or he chose to ignore it. "You're turning into bloody Dumbledore, don't you? He's got Snape, and you've got those two! What are you going to let them get away with?"
Harry's right fist unclenched. With a sharp CRACK, it connected to Ron's cheek. "I'll defend you, Hermione, Luna, Neville, Ginny, and the rest of my friends. Just like that, I will protect them. You will take that back. They will NOT get away with ANYTHING."
Ron sat there, rubbing his stinging cheek. Both boys ignored the shocked look on Hermione's face. "Bloody hell," Ron cursed again. "They've spelled you already," he grunted. "What gives you such great confidence in them, huh, mate?"
Harry looked over to Tracy and Daphne, both looking down. Harry's right hand clenched and unclenched rhythmically as he tried to ease the anger that boiled in his mind. It didn't work. His left hand was clenched hard over his sword, and he knew that he was drawing strength from it, strength his own body no longer had.
He drew a breath, and glared at Ron once more. "Spelled me?" Harry asked, coldly. "Spelled, am I? Let me tell you something, Ron. When you take an unbreakable Wizard's Oath to always tell me the truth, to always be on my side and never betray me, then I might trust you like I trust them! Heaven and Hell know how many times you've doubted me, and turned your back on me because of rumours!"
Ron sat there, looking like he had been slapped again. Harry looked at Tracy and Daphne. "You trusted me. You gave me an oath. You swore never to betray me... and I will never betray you, either. I will protect my friends. Always." he looked at Ron. "Against anybody." He looked back at them. "I'm sorry you had to hear that."
The two girls sat there, numb, unable to believe what had just happened. Harry smiled slightly, and turned back to Ron, and lifted and eyebrow.
"I..." Ron whispered, unable to continue.
"I'm grateful you were there," Harry said, the last of his anger leaving him. "And I'm sorry you got hurt. But gratitude will only go so far. You need to learn to trust me, Ron. That's what friends do... they trust each other. Or so I have been told."
"They... they actually took a Witch's Oath?"
Harry nodded. "They made some mistakes, and want to make amends. I can understand that... I've made my fair share of goofs and gaffes."
"Bloody Hell," Ron cursed once more.
Hermione's shock finally lifted. "Ron, language!"
Harry smiled slightly. "Everything back to normal, right, Hermione?"
The muggle-born Witch looked at Tracy and Daphne. "As far as I am concerned, yes." She smiled in the direction of the two girls. "I'm glad to see you weren't badly hurt."
Daphne winced theatrically, over-acting dramatically. "Don't underestimate these horrible wounds, Hermione. In fact, I just had a relapse, and found out I had to stay another day, locked up in here."
Tracy nodded. "Same over here. Dark curses can really mess up one's life."
Hermione's smiled widened slightly, wondering for a few seconds before playing along. Ignoring the look that Ron shot her, she replied, "Really? And how did you figure out that your horrible wounds had relapsed?"
"It was a gruesome coincidence, is what is was," Tracy replied. "Nurse Pomfrey was explaining that Harry had to stay until tomorrow. While Luna was explaining that the after-effects of her Cruciatus exposure were getting worse, both Daphne and I felt the Dark Curses inflicted upon us acting up again. With the results that all of us are stuck here until Harry gets out."
"Oh, a nice friend you are," Daphne scolded. "Protect us against slander, but laughing at our pain!"
Harry stopped chuckling. "I said I was grateful."
"And we told you that our wounds really were acting up again," Daphne replied. "Get with the program, Potter."
For a moment, Harry actually doubted whether the wounds were acting up again. But Madam Pomfrey had checked them, right?
Daphne started chortling with laughter, Tracy directly behind her. "We're in Slytherin, Harry. We know how to fake something or how to play with minds. No, don't worry, our wounds aren't acting up."
Harry crossed his arms, finally letting go of his sword and feeling his body's wariness hit him full-on. "Gee, Greengrass, that wasn't very much keeping up the Oath, was it?"
Daphne blanched, Tracey just half a second behind her. Colour slowly returned to the two girls as they didn't feel anything out of the ordinary happen to them.
"I guess it doesn't do anything when I know all along that you're playing me," Harry said with an evil grin.
Daphne made a play-angry growl and hurled her pillow at Harry, who grinned, took it, and propped it under his head. "Thanks, I needed a second pillow."
Taking her wand, Daphne accio-ed her pillow back to her, causing Harry's head to drop down in his original pillow. "You're a menace," he accused her.
"You'd better believe it," Daphne replied with a grin. Harry chuckled. Hermione just sat there, smiling, looking at Harry bantering with two Slytherin girls. Ron's mouth was open, following the verbal sparring war, unable to believe that his Harry was bantering playfully with a couple of Slytherins!
Half an hour later, Madam Pomfrey kicked them out, as her patients needed a check-up and some more potions. As Ron and Hermione left, Ron shot a final look at the two Slytherin witches. Well, he thought, At least Harry's got better taste than Dumbledore... they're certainly better-looking than Snape.
As soon as his friends left, and Harry settled down in his bed, he felt the wariness hit him full on. In fact, he barely made it through Madam Pomfrey's examination before he passed out again, although he did manage to sneak in a request to speak with the Headmaster once more, later.
His sleep was deep, dark, and dreamless.
That is, it was deep and dark and dreamless until he woke up in his mindscape, and found only a grassy plain.
He sighed deeply, closed his eyes, and tried to feel. As he did so, a shudder of surprise went through him, and his eyes flashed open as he stared at the grassy plain all around him. Not a trace of Hogwarts was visible, nor of the Forbidden Forest. All he could see was grass, pure, green, grass, as far as the eyes could see.
He looked up.
The scorched skies were bright and blue once more, and the sun was high, gracing him with its powerful rays.
He smiled. His mind was getting better at rebuilding itself, although he had no idea where that had come from. Focusing, he struck deep holes for the foundations of Hogwarts, and started building.
A knock on his shields broke his focus, and he smiled up at Maya. Letting Ken in, he greeted her.
"I thought this would be a wasteland," Maya said, looking around.
Harry shrugged. "Hello, Sensei," he greeted Ken, who had materialized by now, and turned back to Maya. "I thought so too, but when I got here, my mind was already rebuilding. I guess it's getting used to this."
Ken smiled slightly. "Hello, Harry. I heard from my Apprentice that you've been in a scuffle?" She looked around. "I can see that your mental building is gone again, as are the surrounding grounds, but after her explanation, I would have thought this would indeed be a wasteland."
"It was a wasteland when I saved him, Sensei!" Maya said forcefully, glancing at Harry.
Ken nodded, and took two steps, her usual limp plainly visible to Harry. "This entire place has been rebuilt, from the ground up," she stated calmly, and stomped hard on the grass. Before her, an entire square of the plain budged and twisted, before it flipped around as if attached to an invisible pivot. On the other side, a metal plate was visible, bearing some sort of cannon.
Harry shrugged, and grinned. "I guess my mind has been going overboard on defences."
Ken chuckled as Maya just stared at the cannon, which now retracted back into the ground. "Harry, you're not building any more defences. Your shields are as they were when you put them down. What you're building are mental representations of offensive capabilities." She looked around. "This entire area is actually a giant metal plate, divided into sections, each with a… cannon… ready to fire at whomever intrudes upon your mind. Or fire at whomever mind you wish to break into, whatever the case may be."
Harry swallowed, and nodded. Ken seemed pleased, and he was happy as long as she was.
He sighed finally. "Ken-Sensei," he stated, walking up to her. He drew a deep breath. "I need your help. I was attacked again. I had to defend my friends. I almost didn't make it, and one of my friends is in the hospital for excessive Cruciatus exposure. I need your help to get better."
Ken was silent, looking at him with eyes that seemed to dissect his very soul. "Harry," she finally said. "You are me second Apprentice. Even though, at first, I only wanted to teach you a little, you have grown to be my full Apprentice, worthy of the honour that entails. And even if that wasn't enough, and it is, you have come to help me, even at danger of your own life. You have made a magic-sister out of my first Apprentice, and you have become as family to both of us. You need only ask."
Harry nodded. "I'm asking for your help, Sensei."
Ken dipped her head once, and put a hand on his shoulder. "I must go, and make arrangements. Shall we meet here again, tomorrow evening for you? I think I can arrange something in a day and a half."
Harry smiled gratefully. "That's great, Sensei! Thank you!"
Ken returned his smile. "I am your teacher, Harry. I will do what I can. Until tomorrow." Harry nodded as she vanished, and he turned to Maya.
"I have no idea what she has in mind," Maya replied immediately. He smiled ruefully. She returned the smile before becoming serious once again. "Can you show me what happened?"
Harry drew a comforting breath. "I'll show you tomorrow, when Sensei is here as well. I'd rather not relive it a second time," he answered honestly.
Maya smiled. "I understand."
"I think I'd better wake up now… I have the feeling my Headmaster is there, and I have some more things to talk about."
Maya nodded in encouragement. "I'll ride shotgun. It might keep your calm enough… or not, seeing how you dealt with one of your friends."
Harry grinned ruefully at her as he vanished from his mindscape. Five seconds later, he woke up, seeing Headmaster Dumbledore sitting next to his bed.
"Hello Headmaster," Harry said, pulling himself upright.
"Good evening, Harry," Dumbledore relied politely. "I must admit that the timely fashion of your waking up surprised me."
"I was meditating in my sleep," Harry replied, not feeling the need to hide the truth. As Dumbledore blinked, he went on, "and there's nobody here that can't know that."
Surprise flickered across Dumbledore's eyes momentarily, before being replaced by his usual grandfatherly expression. "You wanted to talk to me, Harry?"
Harry nodded. "What happened to my staff, sir? I found my sword next to my bed, but my staff seems to be missing."
"We searched for it, Harry, but we have been unable to locate it. Can you tell me what happened?" Dumbledore replied.
Harry sighed, he had been expecting that answer. "An expelliarmus caught me unaware, and a banishment did the rest. The staff landed outside of the wards they put up around the area, I couldn't summon it back. And with the wards around Hogwarts being what they are, I can't summon it here, either. I guess I'll need to go back when I'm better and retrieve it."
Dumbledore nodded. "I will do my best to arrange something, Harry."
"Thank you, Sir," Harry replied honestly.
"Now, why don't you tell me the real reason you asked me here this evening?" Dumbledore said, eyes twinkling. Harry chuckled slightly.
"Nothing gets past you, does it, Sir?" Harry said, smiling as the Headmaster's eyes twinkled more than usual. Harry sighed. "I must ask you something, and I am not sure if you will be able to do as I ask."
"You will not know the answer unless you pose the question, Harry," Dumbledore answered.
Harry nodded. "It has come to my attention that two people within Hogwarts walls were, last summer, indoctrinated by the Dark Lord, and passed certain information on to him. Now these two people have come to realize what has happened, and managed to turn away from Voldemort." Harry looked directly at the Headmaster. "Sir, I believe I am now in the unenviable position of having two people who turned away from the Dark and wish to rejoin the Light. Can I ask you to forgive these two people, and trust them?"
Dumbledore's twinkle died out as he studied Harry during his speech. Finally, after a terse silence, he spoke. "You have obviously thought quite a lot about this." He glanced around the room. "Am I correct in assuming that these two people you are referring to are Miss Greengrass and Miss Davies?"
Harry nodded. "You assume correctly, Sir," he replied, feeling Maya chuckle in the background as he managed his reply evenly. "I can not divulge why I trust them, nor what has happened. I believe I now know how you feel about Snape."
"Professor Snape, Harry," Dumbledore corrected. Harry bit his tongue. "But yes, I believe you do. And I believe I know why you find it so hard to trust him, when confronted by such an answer."
Harry shrugged, and remained silent, aware that he had not yet received an answer. Dumbledore was silent for ten long seconds, before nodding. "Very well. I will trust you as I wish you to trust me, and I will not press sanctions against Miss Greengrass or Miss Davies."
"Thank you, Sir, but that was not the true reason for explaining this to you. Successful spies as they were, they did not leave evidence, and you were unaware of their actions until I told you. The reason I am explaining this to you, Sir, is that they need protection. Their families are Death Eaters. They need to be protected." He drew a breath. "And that includes protection against any retaliation by house mates, too."
Dumbledore nodded. "I assumed as much," he replied finally. "I will try my best, Harry, but not even I am infallible," he answered, his blackened hand peeking from underneath his sleeve.
Harry looked down at it. "I might be able to take care of that for you, Sir." He looked up. "If you promise me to do more than your best for them… I have seen your protections on me, Sir, and frankly, they worry me."
Dumbledore sighed deeply. "I know I have failed you often in the past, Harry."
"Yes, you, have, Sir," Harry replied with brutal honesty, making the two Slytherins across the room stare at him with open mouths.
"Very well, Harry, I will make the necessary arrangements for the protections of Miss Greengrass and Miss Davies. And when you are better, I invite you to come by my office, and try what you have in mind for my hand."
Harry smiled, knowing that the Headmaster was humouring him on the last part, and had just agreed to protect them even before his attempt.
After all, Ken had forbidden him from using Blood Seals on her. Immediately, he heard Maya gasp. He bit off a curse. He had forgotten she could hear him so well.
"Thank you, Sir," Harry managed through the heavy berating he was receiving from his magically bonded sister. Dumbledore nodded, and excused himself. On his way out, he stopped to converse for a few minutes with the other three occupants of the Hospital wing, before leaving.
"Harry… you really stood up for us," Daphne said when the Wing was empty and quiet.
Harry shrugged. "I won't say you're friends yet, even if I threw that in Ron's face. But I trust you… maybe because of the Oath, I don't know, but something tells me I can trust you. And that is more than I can say about ninety-nine percent of the wizarding world. Most of them will stab me in the back and sell me to Voldemort for a few Galleons, I'm sure of it."
"Cynical, but oddly accurate, I think," Tracey said. "But still… thank you, Harry."
Harry snorted. "Don't thank me yet. I don't trust Dumbledore's protections too much…" he trailed off, and thought about something. "If anything happens, I want you to tell me, okay? I want to know if someone comes after you." He closed his eyes, and grabbed his sword. Without realizing he did it, he pulled it into the bed with him. "I'll not permit anyone to get hurt because of me. Never again," he whispered, thinking nobody heard him.
Because of the sword next to him, tightly locked in his hand, his quiet whisper went quite far, and Daphne, Tracey, and Luna heard him. Silently, the three girls locked eyes with one another.
Harry didn't notice, and just closed his eyes. Hunger gnawed at him, the reconstruction of his body and his mind taking its toll on his energy reserves. Knowing it was a few hours until dinner still, he drew a breath and forced his body to relax. After the months of practice he had, his body reacted instantly. His heart-rate and breathing slowed, and Harry fell into a light slumber.
That evening, two slytherins commented on Harry's figure as he wolfed his way through enough food to feed four people. Grinning, Harry said that he needed the energy to replenish what he had last rebuilding his body.
After saying that they'd need Occlumency before he'd explain more, the subject was dropped, and Harry dozed off early, eager to get back to work on his mindscape.
That night, he did not meet up with Ken, although Maya did drop by for a small chat before vanishing earlier than usual. The secretive grin on her face did not sit right with Harry, but he refused to look into her mind and sneak a peek. Maya had grinned at him, and told him to keep working on his mental shields, so she wasn't subjected to his every thought, even if she didn't want them.
After she left, that had been Harry's focus. He could still remember the scolding he had received after he thought about using the Blood Seals on Dumbledore. He had managed to convince her to keep quiet, but he knew that she did not like it one bit.
He didn't blame her.
Harry woke up, feeling refreshed, that next morning. This evening, Ken had promised him help. He wondered about what kind of help he would be getting, and before he knew it, Madam Pomfrey had declared him healthy, along with the three girls.
After they had left, and Daphne and Tracey had made their way to the dungeons, where the Slytherin Common Room lay, Harry walked with Luna to the kitchen. He was still feeling hungry, his mindscape's reconstruction taking its toll.
Luna seemed to understand as he explained. He tickled the pear, and opened the door. Not half a minute later, they were seated at a small table just off the kitchen, with plenty of food in front of them.
"So, Luna," Harry said as he shoved some Shepard's Pie down his throat. "I didn't get a chance to ask... those animals on your night clothes, what are they?"
Luna looked at him, her silver eyes twinkling. "Snorkacks," she replied honestly. "I put them there myself."
Harry whistled, impressed. "Nice work," he complimented her. She shrugged it off.
"Nobody sells Snorkack pyjamas," Luna explained. "Besides, they're just ordinary Snorkacks, not Crumple-Horned ones... I don't think I'm good enough to do Crumple-Horned ones."
Harry lifted his eyebrows at that. "You did the ordinary Snorkacks just fine, what makes you think you can't do the Crumple-Horned ones?" he asked, ignoring the little Hermione-inside-his-mind that added, besides the obvious, that they don't exist.
"Oh, you wouldn't know, of course," Luna said. "You see, ordinary Snorkacks are brown in their natural colour, but are able to change it with their surroundings. That's why I can embroider them. The Crumple-Horned ones change colour so often that we don't know what their natural colour is, and most of the time, they're completely invisible. Father and I think they might be coloured in ultra-violet, invisible to the naked eye."
Harry nodded. "I can see why it would be difficult to embroider invisible animals." He sighed. "Although they just might pop up somewhere. Like the Threstrals."
Luna dipped her head. "I do hope that it's nothing like the Threstrals," she answered finally. "Witnessing death for the Threstrals is bad enough. I don't want to contemplate what might be required in order to see Crumple-Horned Snorkacks." She shrugged then. "Although it might be worth it."
Harry chuckled darkly, and finished off the plate of spaghetti and dug into a pumpkin pie for desert. He could feel his body doing overtime, converting the food into energy, which was siphoned off just as quickly by his rebuilding mind.
He found no need to go his Common Room, and apparently, neither did Luna, as they took quite a leisurely stroll on the grounds. He found it curious that he was able to talk to her so easily, before remembering that she was the only one that had offered any meaningful and helpful advice right after his godfather died. Luna, strange as she was with her incredibly powerful Occlumency shields, was easy to talk to.
She just took a while to figure out when she talked back, and Harry found that he was getting better at it. Perhaps because he played along, but he found that her strange stories usually had some weird strain of truth in them, and her strange and unusual way of talking was refreshing, in a way. He didn't have to think about being someone else... he could just be Harry, and be sure that she would not judge him.
The parted right before dinner, going back to their Common Rooms for a quick shower and change of clothes, washing the last of the hospital smell away. Already, Harry's thoughts drifted from Luna to Ken.
He sat there, at the dinner table, wondering what Ken would have in store for him later on. In fact, he was worrying so much that he was quite startled when Ron suddenly yelled 'BOO' in his right ear.
"Ron!?" Harry yelled, quite angrily.
Half the Gryffindor table was laughing, and Harry noticed that some of the Hufflepuffs, over at the table closest to theirs, were laughing as well. "Sorry, mate, but you were a million miles away and you wouldn't answer to any of us," Ron said, in between guffaws.
Harry grunted. "Yeah, yeah, laugh it up," he said, shooting a grin at the guffawing Hufflepuffs, which soon turned around and went back to their conversation, seeing that he wasn't going to stand up and start hexing people. The Gryffindors, too, soon went back to their conversations.
"So, want to tell us what you were thinking about?" Hermione asked, from her position on the other side of the table, facing the two males.
Harry shrugged, and looked around pointedly. "Not really," he answered honestly. Hermione got the point, Ron following a few seconds later. Food appeared on the table at that moment, and all talk on Harry's daydreaming was forgotten.
"What are you going to be teaching next in the DA, mate?" Ron asked, trying to change the topic after Harry's earlier daydream, and his obvious inability to speak of it.
"We are going good on Occlumency," Harry replied. "As soon as the shields are good, we'll start on the basics... I'm thinking of dividing each session into two. First half, practice our regular spells, kinda like last year. The second half, I figure I'll start on the basics of my new secrets. Elements and stuff," Harry replied, formulating the plan he had been thinking up for a while now. "Any luck with that book we found in Hogsmeade?" he asked Hermione.
The brunette shook her head. "Not yet, Harry, I'm not done with the book yet, I'm sorry."
He shook his head. "Don't be, I'm sure you'll figure things out in no time. You are the brightest witch of our generation, after all," he answered with a smile in her direction. She flushed with the praise, and looked at her plate. Just as she was about to reply, the doors to the Great Hall thumped open.
The chatter and noise of eating and talking students vanished immediately as two people strode confidently into the room, aiming directly for the Head Table.
The first figure moved with a limp, and wore a bright red and white robe and a hood over its head. Staff in one hand, it moved gracefully to the Head Table, not once sparing a glance to look around the room.
The second figure, smaller, obviously younger, walked two paces behind the first, and was dressed in blue and white, a blue hood over its head. The second person too, had a staff in hand.
Harry was gobsmacked. Was this the help promised him by Ken?
The first figure had reached the Head Table by now, and it stopped five paces before the teacher's table. Throwing back the hood, the figure gave Harry a second startle.
"Lord Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore," Mahou mo Ken spoke in flawless English.
To everyone's amazement, Dumbledore actually looked shocked for a second, before standing up, and bowing. "Mahou mo Ken-sama," he replied with her Japanese address. "Good evening."
"Good evening," Ken answered levelly. "I have come on the behest of my Lord, the Emperor of Japan, to protect, guide, teach, and if necessary, retrieve one of the citizens of Magical Japan."
Dumbledore's eyes flashed to harry before settling on Ken. "Might I enquire as to the identity of this citizen?"
Ken remained silent for just a second. "You yourself have already correctly identified him, Lord Dumbledore. You are indeed correct. Harry Potter is the citizen in question."
This time, it was Dumbledore who was silent for a second. "Might I also enquire as to why the Emperor of Japan would send his most esteemed Bodyguard, the Commander of his own Strike Team?"
A small gasp went through the room as some of the Purebloods stared at the woman, then at Harry, and back to the woman. This woman was as known in the Asian lands as Dumbledore was known in Europe.
"Why would he deny the request of a Master who wishes to be at her Apprentice's side?" Ken answered levelly. Harry had to bite the inside of his cheek at Dumbledore, who actually seemed at a loss for words for a few seconds.
"Why indeed," he answered.
Ken dipped her head. "If you have no further immediate questions, Lord Dumbledore, I would like to join my Apprentice now. It has been a long and hard voyage to arrive her as quickly as my Apprentice and I did." for just a moment, something flashed in her eyes. "Perhaps if it suits you, Lord Dumbledore, we can have a meeting after dinner, to discuss the safety rate in this school, the living conditions imposed upon my Apprentice over summer, and the methods of teaching employed by certain members of your staff?"
Harry could feel the underlying emotions within that single statement, even if it was delivered with a flat and neutral voice. "Of course, Ken-sama. How does eight sound? I will, of course, prepare quarters for you and your Apprentice."
Ken dipped her head. "Thank you, Lord Dumbledore."
Harry locked eyes with Hermione, sitting right in front of him, and Dean Thomas, sitting in front of Ron. He stood up, and shot them an inquiring look as he did so. Both of them got the point. Soon, they started moving. Creating two free spots.
By then, Harry was fully to his legs. "Ken-Sensei," he said in the full quiet of the Great Hall as he bowed.
Ken stalked over to him, her limp present but obviously not hindering her. "Harry," she answered, smiling slightly. "It's good to see you are out of the infirmary."
"I heal quickly, Sensei," he answered with a small smile. "Good evening, Maya. It's great to see both of you again."
"It's good to see you too, brother," Maya answered, smiling. By now, the Gryffindor table had created two free seats, everyone still staring at the conversation Harry was having with these two women.
"Please, sit down," Harry said, indicating the two seat liberated in front of him. New flatware had appeared as the House Elves realized new people had taken place. He sat down as well.
"Try the rice dish," he recommended, indicating the dish in question. "It's incredible."
Finally, he glanced around, seeing how everyone was still staring at him. "I think we're attracting attention," Harry said, looking at his teacher and his magic-sister. "I think you made quite an entrance."
Maya smiled, and busied herself with eating the rice dish Harry had recommended. He got nothing but amusement from his link to her. Ken merely smiled at him. "I think the crowd was impressed by our entrance, as well as the fact that we have been speaking nothing but Japanese since finishing the English conversation with Dumbledore."
Harry flushed; "Woops," he said in English. "In any case... Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, this is Mahou mo Ken, my Sensei, and this is Maya, my fellow Apprentice. Sensei, Maya, These are Hermione and Ron, my best friends."
The Great Hall was silent; one could hear a pin drop as everyone, including the teachers at the Head Table stared at Ken and Maya.
For close to five seconds, nobody spoke as Harry looked at his two visitors as if Christmas had come early and Ron and Hermione tried to figure out what to say. Finally, it was Hermione who broke the silence.
"Pleased to meet you," she managed to get through her parched lips. "So, Harry… the secret of the source of your new abilities has finally come out, it appears."
Harry shrugged and glanced at Ken and Maya. Ken looked as composed as ever, while Maya looked on with vaguely suppressed laughter, her eyes twinkling and a giant smile on her face, enjoying the ruckus their arrival had created in the Great Hall.
The rest of dinner passed quickly for Harry, the excitement totally killing his appetite. At the same time, he didn't feel like making small talk, and kept himself busy talking privately with Maya. His friends, getting the point, just let him stare off in the distance.
After dinner, Ken and Maya got up, ready to talk to the headmaster. Harry got up to follow them. Just before walking away, he turned to Hermione. "Can you arrange for a DA meeting tonight? Just get as many people together in the Room of Requirement... let's say, at eight. With the arrival of Ken-Sensei and Maya, I think it became time I answered some questions." He glanced at the Slytherin table, where he caught the eye of Draco Malfoy.
Giving a surreptitious nod, he looked back at Hermione. "Try and get the message to Draco, Daphne, and Tracey. They should be there as well. I have a feeling that I'll have a lot of explaining to do, and I'd rather not do it more than once."
The bushy-haired brunette just nodded mutely before he turned and left, following his teacher and the girl that had become his sister in all but blood. Sooner than Harry would have liked, they were standing in front of the Gargoyle that protected the entrance to the Headmaster's office.
"We'll need a password, Sensei," Harry explained, only now realizing that Dumbledore had not given them one.
Ken just dipped her head, and glared at the stone protector. "You will permit us entrance," she stated. The Gargoyle did not react. "I am not accustomed to repeating myself," the woman said after the Gargoyle made no indication that it was about to move.
Finally, it leaped aside and permitted them entrance. She dipped her head as she passed. "Next time, obey immediately. I will not be so forgiving a second time."
As they reached the end of the revolving staircase, the door opened on its own. "Welcome to my office," Dumbledore said, coming from behind his desk to greet his guests. "And once again, I would like to extend my welcome to you and your Apprentice."
Ken dipped her head. "Appreciated, Lord Dumbledore." She walked to one of the chairs, and flowed down into it with as much grace as she could muster. Maya kept her face neutral, and sat down on the right-hand side of Ken. Harry, getting the point, sat down on the left.
Dumbledore merely sat down in his own chair, behind his desk, and surveyed them. "You wanted to discuss certain issues with me, Ken-sama?"
"As stated earlier, I have come to guide and teach my second Apprentice, who , according to my information, has been neglected by you personally and this institution in general. According to the information I have received, the safety rate in this school is atrocious, the living conditions imposed upon my Apprentice over summer are abominable, and the methods of teaching employed by certain members of your staff are horrendous, and are probably banned under multiple non-magical as well as magical treaties. Prisoners of war are treated better!" Her voice rose sharply at the end, right before she contained herself.
Dumbledore looked stricken for just a moment, before he quickly composed. It lasted but a small moment, but Harry had clearly seen it. He glanced at Ken. Had she seen it, too? "Perhaps we can take this one issue at a time, Ken-sama."
Ken drew a deep breath. "As you wish, Lord Dumbledore. The safety rate of this school, I believe, is my primary concern. My Apprentice is now in his sixth year. Every year before this one, his life has been endangered by something within these very walls." She motioned for Harry, and put a hand on his shoulder. The symbolism of the gesture was not lost on Harry, and apparently, neither was it lost on Dumbledore. "Do you require a list of transgressions, Lord Dumbledore?"
Dumbledore sagged in his chair. "I believe I am aware of the events in question, although the circumstances..."
"The circumstances are known to me, Lord Dumbledore. In fact, item number two is the horrendous teaching methods in employ by some of your teachers." She squeezed Harry's shoulder. "Although that was a fortune in a misfortune. Had your teacher not done such a thorough job in demolishing Harry's defences, I never would have been able to meet him."
"Professor Snape is a Master Occlumens! He was tasked with teaching Harry Occlumency. Ken-sama, I must insist that..."
"Lord Dumbledore," Ken stated calmly, interrupting him, but still shutting him up quite effectively. The woman looked totally composed, except for her eyes.
She was livid, and Maya unconsciously shot a worried look at her teacher. Harry remained quiet, head bent, not liking being the centre of attention like this.
"Your teacher, the one tasked with such an important mission, destroyed Harry's mental defences. My Apprentice was totally open, completely vulnerable, not even able to build a mental safety room, let alone deal with any intruders. I would very much like to meet this person, and convey my displeasure personally, face-to-face."
Dumbledore swallowed deeply. "Ken-sama, I must insist that Professor Snape tried..."
Ken closed her eyes, her head bending slightly. Dumbledore shut up. Harry swallowed when he felt his teacher next to him. He could practically feel the rage come off her. "Your Professor Snape, Lord Dumbledore, almost destroyed my Apprentice's ability to erect mental shielding. He was lucky I managed to find him, and guide him, when I did. Had I not, he would have lost the ability to protect himself... permanently. This is not even a failure to teach... this is intentional malevolence, a deliberate attack against my Apprentice. And as you know, Lord Dumbledore, magical Japan has strict rules when dealing with Apprentices. An attack against the Apprentice is an attack against the Master."
She opened her eyes. They were storming. "Even though your Professor Snape has already attacked my Apprentice since this year started, after he became my Apprentice, I will let it slide. Once. Now that you have been warned, I expect no further transgressions, Lord Dumbledore. Next time I hear of an attack, I will demand the head of the transgressor, even if I have to cut it off myself."
"O-of course, Ken-sama. I will talk with Professor Snape," Dumbledore replied, honestly at a loss on how to handle the situation. Ken was outside of his influence, and dealing with her in another fashion could be misconstrued as an attack against Magical Japan. She was an emissary from the Emperor himself, her political position was firmly entrenched at the moment, and she was indeed within her right to ask for retribution when an attack took place against one of her Apprentices.
"Might I enquire as to when harry became a citizen of Magical Japan?" Dumbledore asked, finally seeing a way to get out of this.
"The moment I declared him my Apprentice, he became a citizen of Magical Japan, Lord Dumbledore," Ken replied with clipped tones. "The Emperor himself has authorized it."
Dumbledore cursed inwardly. Harry could now, legally, move to Japan with Ken and leave his influence forever. He needed to find a way to rectify this, or the boy would leave and then there would be no-one to stop Voldemort.
"How about Harry's friends? Did they become citizens? If Harry left with you..." Dumbledore let the comment trail, and he was pleased to note that Harry winced. Ken's face twisted for a fraction of a second, while Maya's knuckles were white from clenching her staff.
"Harry had no intentions of leaving Hogwarts, or Britain," Ken stated. "But using his friends against him in such a manner is low, Lord Dumbledore. I am very much inclined to walk to the consulate, contact the Emperor, and ask for an immediate immigration process for Harry's friends." She drew a breath. "I will not do so unless forced. Now, on to the last point of our conversation. The living conditions over the summer are little better than what he has at school; his life my not be in danger, but his sanity and his health sure is. He is starved, belittled, and overworked, forced to live with people that hate him and all magical people."
"They are his relatives, surely they love him," Dumbledore replied with his standard answer.
"Love him? He was lucky they did not kill him!" Ken snapped, angrily. "I have witnessed the memories of my Apprentice, back when he was learning to protect himself. I have seen the damage done by these so-called loving relatives. Tell me, Lord Dumbledore, would you put a Jewish child with a known Nazi family, and claim it was 'safe' and 'protected'?"
"Surely you jest, Ken-sama..."
"I jest not when it comes to the safety of my Apprentices, Lord Dumbledore," Ken said, her tone cold. "And I would thank you for not insulting my honour in such a manner again."
The elderly headmaster winced visibly. Whatever he said seemed to make things worse. He knew he had made mistakes with Harry... but that they were of this magnitude... no, that he had not foreseen.
"All I can do is apologise, Ken-sama. I was unaware of this," he finally said, hoping to abate her anger.
"Did you even check, Lord Dumbledore?"
"To my shame, I must admit that I did not," he replied with head bent.
Ken was silent. When no further information was forthcoming, she turned to Harry. "I am here now, my Apprentice. You will not return to your relatives, but will spend the summer with me, in Japan. Unfortunately, I can not remain here all year round, as my duties require me in Japan, but know that I will be here as often as I can." She glanced at Maya. "I will ask Maya if she could stay with you."
"Of course, Sensei," Maya replied immediately.
Ken smiled slightly. "But this is for the future. For now, I am here, and I will work on your training, full time."
"I must protest, the blood wards that protect Harry..."
"Are meaningless now that your Lord Voldemort used Harry's blood to return to life. The wards around my house are sufficient, as well as hiding him on the other side of the world," Ken replied levelly. "Any other objections, Lord Dumbledore?"
Dumbledore had to admit that, for the moment, he could not say anything else. Ken had the upper hand, and he needed to think and gather information to make his counter-move.
"Good," Ken said, smiling slightly upon his admittance. "I bid you good night, Lord Dumbledore."
"Good night, Ken-sama. Permit me to show you to your rooms..."
"I will stay with my Apprentice," Ken replied levelly. She looked at Harry. "Show me to your... Common Room... I will set up shelter for myself and Maya."
Harry nodded hurriedly, trying not to burst out laughing at the sight of Dumbledore's face. He left, Ken and Maya right behind him.
End of Chapter