Training and Confrontations


Story Summary:
A sprawling tale set in many places and dimensions, as Harry finds himself, finds his abilities grow, and trains for that final confrontation with Voldemort. A H/L/Hr tale, with N/G, R/T, and a paternal Ron.

Chapter 08

Chapter Summary:
A sprawling tale set in many places and dimensions, as Harry finds himself, finds his abilities grow, and trains for that final confrontation with Voldemort. A H/L/Hr tale, with N/G, Remus/T, and a paternal Ron. Part I continues with the early summer of 96.
Author's Note:
Harry talks about his past and future.

Chapter VIII

Less than fifteen minutes after Harry left to fly, Luna and Hermione carried covered trays out to the pasture where the Weasleys flew. Harry quickly spotted them and zoomed down.

The girls silently set down a blanket on the damp grass and laid out breakfast.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked after he'd joined them.

"You were right," Hermione said. "We overheard what you told Dumbledore. I really do apologize for the 'saving people thing' comment I made."

"You were right in one way," Harry replied. "I do have a 'saving people thing,' but more than that, I have to."

"The prophecy," Hermione said. "Those initials were Dumbledore's, weren't they?" Harry nodded. "And so he could tell you? when?"

"Just a few hours after Sirius was killed," Harry answered, his voice ragged. Luna reached over and hugged him, and then she drew Hermione into the hug as well.

"Tell her," Luna whispered.

Harry sighed. "There are some details that I know Dumbledore doesn't want me to talk about, but it boils down to the fact that I'm the one who has the power to kill Voldemort, and if I don't kill him, he'll kill me."

"But you don't have to die to kill him, right?" Hermione asked worriedly.

"No. I could, but it doesn't have to work that way."

"Good." She hugged the pair and then sat back. "It has been just an awful few days." She looked at the pair, tearing up. "Thank you, both of you, for coming back to be with me."

"I hope we can be," Harry said darkly. When the two girls looked at him, he said, "Dumbledore will say it's too dangerous for me to be with you at the funerals."

"Then he's just going to have to provide more protection," Hermione stated. For once, she didn't care what Dumbledore or anyone else wanted. She needed Harry with her, and Harry wanted to be with her.

"Well said," Luna agreed.

As they ate, Harry asked, "How are things between you and Ron?"

Hermione shrugged. "We like each other, but we just fight too much. I don't want to argue all the time. I thought the verbal sparring would develop into, well, like. . . ."

"Like into those old American screwball comedies?" Harry asked.


Harry ruefully shook his head. "Ron's a lot smarter than his scores, but that's not the type of person he is." Harry doubted many people were like that, outside of movies.

"I know that now. I know I can't change, or change him, either. We decided after dinner last night that we should just stay friends for now."

"I'm sorry," Luna said, and Harry agreed.

Hermione shrugged. The three stayed there, finished breakfast, and just sat for a while. Finally, Luna stood and wandered over towards the woods, examining gnome trails as she went.

"You miss her already, don't you?" Hermione asked as Harry followed Luna walking just inside the woods with his eyes.

"I do," Harry admitted. "Odd, when we just had last night apart."


Harry shrugged and smiled such a warm smile that Hermione didn't begrudge him, but she did ask, "You're being careful, aren't you?"

"We haven't done anything that we need to be 'careful' about, although we did a lot more than snog. Why? Did you and Ron?"

"I thought about it, and he pushed a little, but I wasn't ready for anything more than light kissing, at least with him," Hermione said. "That might be another reason it didn't work."

"He didn't push too hard, did he?"

"Not too hard, but I just was not ready to commit to that kind of relationship with him, at least not yet." Hermione smiled warmly. "I'm glad we can talk about this."

Harry shrugged. "I don't think I could with anyone other than you and Luna."

"When she's not on about conspiracy theories and odd creatures, she actually makes a lot of sense," Hermione said. "I was surprised last June how easy she is to talk to, and I think we became friends then."

"She is very easy to talk to," Harry agreed, "and I know she thinks of you as a good friend."

"I got a great deal of teasing when I visited Diagon Alley a while ago," Hermione said, "and I'm sure to get more, now."

"Why is that, and why does it seem that it's going to be, at least from your tone of voice, my fault?"

"Because you're turning right sexy this summer, Harry, and I was already getting teased for having 'dumped' you and picked up Ron."

Harry grimaced. "Ron must have hated that."

"He did," Hermione admitted, "and that's another reason I wasn't going to go too far with him. He just wanted to to prove he had me." She looked at Harry curiously, "Were you every tempted to ask me out?"

"No, but not because you aren't adorable," Harry said with a smile. "In part, when I discovered girls in that sense, I was obsessed by Cho and you were in the 'friend' category, just like Ginny was in the 'little sister' category. Since then, you and Ron were mostly circling around each other, and I wouldn't try to interfere with that."

"Fair enough. What else?"



Harry shrugged. "I think we work better together as a trio than we would as a couple. You are a little bossy at times, and Ron could tolerate that better than I can. I'm more than a little moody at times, and both Ron and Luna can tolerate that better than you could."

"Am I really that bossy?"

Harry simply looked at Hermione.

Hermione sighed. "I suppose I am. It's a good thing you're dating Luna. Those eyes are very . . . sexy and seductive. Everyone would notice if you didn't wear glasses."

Harry snorted. "I'll only believe it's possible because you said it. I wouldn't believe anyone else."

Hermione just smiled. Harry finally asked, "Would you really have wanted to date me?"

"Yes, I think so. Not last year, because you were too angry then, but. . . ."


"I've always been attracted to you and to Ron. Ron just seemed . . . more interested."

"True," Harry admitted. "In some ways, I know Ron thinks I've over-shadowed him, and that it's the one thing that could split us as friends."

"I know. I'm not going to try and split you and Luna, you know."

"I know," Harry said. "I trust you."

"I trust you two, too," Luna said from behind them, startling them both. Luna laughed and drew them into a hug which they both returned. They sat like that until Ginny came out after them just before 9:00. "Professor McGonagall is here," she said quietly. "Professor Lupin should be here soon, too."

Harry stood and helped Luna and Hermione up while Ginny stalked way, a scowl on her face. "What's she angry about?"

"She seems upset with all of us," Luna commented.

"She is, but she's angrier at herself," Hermione said. "She and Dean broke up even before you left the Dursleys. She was making plans for Harry in case her current plans don't work out, and when Ron and I broke things off, she was sure I'd make a grab for Harry. Now you show up, with Harry." She shrugged.

"Were you going to make a play for Harry?" Luna asked.

"As a boy friend? Probably, but I wasn't sure. But unless Harry and Ginny date, I'll probably always be closer to him than she is no matter what, and that does bother her."

"I'm walking right between you two, you know," Harry complained.

Luna put her arm around Harry and drew Hermione's arm around his waist as well. "Ginny has always been somewhat possessive and jealous," Luna said. "She is still a good friend. She'll be smiling by the time we come in, anyway."

"Why would you say that?" Hermione asked.

"Because two owls have just landed on her window sill," she answered. "I'm sure at least one must be from an admirerer."

"One is from Neville," Hermione agreed, looking. "He owls at least every other day. I'm not sure about the other."

"Does she owl Neville back?" Luna asked.

"Oh, yes. Every afternoon when she has his grandmother's owl, since she and Dean broke up."

Going up on the back porch, the two girls released their grips on Harry, to his slight disappointment. Luna greeted McGonagall and Lupin, and went on up to talk with Ginny. Harry and Hermione sat down to discuss their futures.

"Shall we start with you, Miss Granger?" McGonagall asked.

"Alright. If the times don't conflict, I'd like seven classes," Hermione said simply. "Charms, Defense, Transfiguration, Arithmancy, Runes, the University Prep, and Magical Traditions."

McGonagall stared at her with surprise, until she said, "But . . . but I thought you were going to take the Medical Prep!"

"I had thought of it, but to take Medicine, I also have to take Potions."

McGonagall simply stared at her even more.

"I put up with his abuse and poor teaching for five years. Please don't take this wrong, Harry," Hermione added, "but there is just one good thing I can say about Umbridge. I love Hagrid as much as you do, but he and Professors Trelawney and Snape really are the three worst teachers at the school. In fact, they are the only poor teachers at the school. Yes, Professor Snape knows his subject, but so do Hagrid and Trelawney."

"Professor Trelawney," McGonagall managed to say.

"Exactly," Hermione said. "Hagrid is technically a professor, but no one calls him by it. Professor Snape has never really taught me anything. Potions is more than putting formulas on the board and yelling at students when they don't already know the right way to cut or chop or mix the ingredients. I'm not allowed to sit for a N.E.W.T. without taking the class, nor can I take Medicine without taking Potions. Since that was just one option I was thinking about, and since it was more my parents' dream than mine, I shan't be taking those courses."

"I see. Have you decided on your guardianship?"

"I'm hoping I have an answer in a few days."

"You . . . you're not asking the Weasleys?" she asked, surprised.

"As my second choice."

"Hermione," Remus put in and putting the subject back, "don't let Severus' poor attitude keep you from taking the courses."

"I'm not," she answered. "I can only take seven courses, and so I think this is the better alternative." She turned to McGonagall. "I would also like to do the Apparation course this autumn, instead of next spring."

"That should not be a problem," McGonagall said. "You would normally be able to take the test over the winter break."

"Excuse me," Luna said, coming back into the kitchen. "Hermione, this is for you."

Hermione took the note and turned to McGonagall. "Mister Lovegood has agreed to take guardianship of me." She turned to Luna. "How did the reply get here so fast?"

"Mister Moody and Daddy came back from Sweden around midnight," Luna answered. "Mister Moody decided to send a regular post owl immediately along, for some reason."

"Constant vigilance!" Harry and Hermione chorused.

"Oh . . . of course."

"I was not aware you knew Mister Lovegood," McGonagall said, slightly surprised.

"I don't" Hermione admitted. "Still, I need a magical guardian, not one of my second cousins, for just over a month. Luna suggested it last night, and after some thought, I decided he would make a good choice."

"Very well, I shan't question your choice. And you, Mister Potter?"

"Mad-Eye agreed to take me on, since we all know the Ministry wouldn't let Pro, err, Remus here do it, unless they felt they could blackmail him into controlling me."

"True," Remus had to admit.

"I have a letter of intent from Mad-Eye upstairs," Harry added.

"Shall I go ask Ronald for it?" Luna asked. McGonagall and Harry agreed, and Luna went upstairs to get it.

"May I make an observation, Potter?" McGonagall asked.

"Yes, Professor?"

"You seem to have grown up about two years in the six weeks since I've seen you. Part of that is Miss Lovegood, isn't it?"

"I've been looking after her, although I'm sure she'd say she has been looking after me."

"You know about her condition?"

Harry nodded. "So does Hermione, and Ginny and Mrs. Weasley, for that matter."

"Condition?" Remus asked.

"She's a full Seer," McGonagall said.

Remus' first reaction was a sharp intake of breath. Then, "Is she on the potion?"

"Full strength, twice a day, which is the maximum dosage," McGonagall said. "I rather wish she had been sorted into Hufflepuff, or even Gryffindor. She has the brains for Ravenclaw, of course, but that House is only tolerant of the intellectually eccentric."

"Some of her opinions are . . . original," Hermione answered.

"They are. They do not harass her because of those opinions, but because of her eccentricities of habit."

"Why didn't anyone tell them about the potion?" Harry asked.

"Full Seers are feared by some," Remus said. "They cannot directly read your mind, but they can read your emotions. And even when they aren't prophecizing, they often come out with these little observations that really . . . scare some people."

"Like what Professor Trelawney tries to do?" Hermione asked.

"Yes," McGonagall acknowledged, "although in my opinion hers usually come from clever observation and guesswork than from any Sight, and are much more general than what Miss Lovegood's would be."


"Indeed," McGonagall said. "I also feel compelled to add a word of warning. I know of no full Seer who has married in the last century and a half or so, not that there are very many examples to draw upon. If you are still with Miss Lovegood when she starts coming off her the potion, a two year process that will start at some point over the next few months to two years, you must be prepared for difficulties. Her gift will partially take over her life."

"Just like the prophecy has taken over mine," Harry said glumly.

"True," she acknowledged.

"Professor," Harry asked softly, "why not ask me the question the Headmaster wanted you to ask? Or will he wait until this afternoon?"

Remus and Hermione looked puzzled, but McGonagall gave Harry a tight smile. "Very well. How do we wake up Professor Snape?"

"Harry!" Hermione scolded, while Remus looked torn between scolding and laughing.

"You can't wake him up, and I won't until after the funeral," Harry answered. "If he wakes up too soon, he'd have to report my coming out of hiding to Voldemort before the funeral. The funeral is tomorrow morning, right?" He held Hermione's hand to comfort her.

"That is correct," McGonagall said.

"I need to visit a Muggle town this afternoon to get some proper clothes." He turned to Hermione. "Do you?" Hermione nodded.

"So, we, and Luna, need some proper things. If Ron and Ginny do, too, they can come, too, my treat. After the funeral, Luna and I need to go to Diagon Alley. After that, the Headmaster can imprison me wherever he chooses until school starts."


"That's what it amounts to," Harry insisted. He turned to Hermione. "What do they call it? When they hold someone in those American police shows to protect them?"

"Protective custody?"

"That's it."

"If Harry goes, he mustn't go alone," Hermione stated. "If Luna can't go, then I will. Best of all, all of us should."

"Even Neville, if he can," Harry added.

"Very well. We shall consider that after we finished finalizing your courses, Mister Potter. We thought we should suggest Care, Charms, Defense, Magical Traditions, Preparation for the Ministry, and Transfiguration, as well as the Apparation course in the spring. Professor Snape was strongly resisting allowing you into Potions, in part because of your comments in The Quibbler, and I am even more certain that is out of the question now."

"I thought perhaps I'd go for the Accounting-Business course instead of the Ministry one. I just learned I have a large trust fund to administer."

"So you no longer have a desire to become an auror?"

"I would, in theory, but I can't see myself working for the Ministry, even if the people at the top change." Harry turned to include Remus. "What's this Dark Force Defense League?"

"That's not a job, that's a group," Remus explained. "They are retired aurors and hit-wizards, dark creature hunters, most of the few magical private detectives and security types, a few scholars, people like that."

"Oh," Harry said, disappointed.

"In any event, with this schedule, you could still try for auror training, even if you decide not to take a position," McGonagall stated. "My explanation of the requirements was rather interrupted, if you recall."

"I thought I needed Potions."

"Ideally, yes. Without it, you would need an O N.E.W.T. in Defense plus one in either Charms or Transfiguration, and of course an E in the other N.E.W.T. courses."

"I'm sorry if I'm making the difficult for you," Harry said.

"I just wish I could do more for you," she answered. McGonagall turned to Remus. "Could you call for Molly? Let's see what she thinks of all this shopping."

Remus was back with Molly quickly, and was explaining the idea. McGonagall stood and transfigured her robe into a Muggle dress and jacket. "I'll transfigure Lupin's gear. You go get changed," she said to Harry and Hermione. She turned to Molly. "May your children go?"

Molly nodded wordlessly. Hermione hugged Mrs. Weasley, and Harry did the same.

After they had finished their clothes shopping, Harry convinced McGonagall to let them eat lunch. "Potter, I do hope you haven't stripped your vault," McGonagall hissed as Harry insisted they order anything they wanted off the menu of the up-scale Italian bistro.

Harry was glad Ron was at the other end of the table, arguing with Ginny. "Honestly, Professor? I've barely made a dent after all my trips, and remember I inherit one of the largest trust funds in Europe, some of it next year."

"Very well." She ordered grilled tuna steak and pasta in a light cream sauce and pine nuts.

"Did you talk to the Headmaster before we left?" Harry asked after ordering a large plate of spaghetti with meat balls and mushrooms. He also agreed with Hermione's idea to order two large 'white pizzas' -- garlic and cheese, cut into break stick size, one for Ron and one for the rest of the table.

"Very good, Potter. I did. That will give him time to mull things over. May I ask where you learned what you did?"

"The advanced defense and Occlumency? Access to a library that really made up in quality what it lack in total quantity. We probably went through three hundred books. Plus Luna also has the knack for both Occlumency and wandless magic, and we practiced wandless magic at least two hours a day for over three weeks. We became quite good quite quickly."

"But. . . . you kept it hidden?"

"Remember, the Underage detectors are tuned to locations and to wands. Since I wasn't at the expected location. . . ." He shrugged.

"I see. It's a good thing most students have no knack for wandless magic once they hit puberty." She made no other comment, but wondered if Potter might have it in him to become a good animagus. She'd mention it to Albus later.

After the teens returned, Harry and Dumbledore talked on the back porch, seated in some old straight-backed chairs. The others were putting away clothes or otherwise puttering about the house.

"What shall we talk about first, sir?" Harry asked, in a fairly polite tone.

"I fear we must first discuss Sirius' will." Harry stiffened. "Sirius was the last Black."

"I thought Tonks' mother and her two sisters were the last Blacks," Harry said, not wanting to use Narcissa's or Bellatrix' names.

"By birth, so I should have said the last male Black. The estate and fortune were entailed. Do you know the term?"

Harry nodded. "It means everything goes to the oldest legitimate male heir." He frowned. "Malfoy?"

"No, this entail takes no account of women at all. The most that can be done is giving someone a life interest. That is, they may receive an income or use of property during their lifetime, but cannot sell off property or assets. Sirius' mother, for example, had a life interest on Grimmauld Place and much of the Black fortune, other than the cash deposits. With Sirius' death, the entail is broken. Since Sirius couldn't change it, a will he made just before Christmas, 1980, is still valid, as the Ministry has at least agreed he's dead. He did not expect, at that time, to do anything other than marry in the future, but his fiancee was killed the following August. Still, he was fighting in the war, and took no chances. In short, you get one third of the estate, one sixth of the total on your own merits and the other from your father, and Remus get's one sixth."

"And the other half?"

"Andromeda and Nymphadora Tonks each get one sixth."

Harry frowned. "Let me guess. Wormtail."

Dumbledore nodded, "Alas, yes." Then Dumbledore smiled.

"Do you have a plan?" Harry asked.

"Actually, no," Dumbledore admitted. "Remus has a plan. Would you care to hear it?"

"Yes, sir."

Some time later, the conversation turned to other matters. "Professor Snape is going to be quite angry with you," Dumbledore observed.

"Yes, but this way he can't report on my movements until after they're complete. That really is the only reason I did what I did." Harry stopped suddenly.


"Professor, has Sn . . . has Professor Snape actually reported anything really useful?"

"Harry. . . ."

"No, sir," Harry interrupted politely but firmly. "I'm not questioning his loyalty, I'm questioning his effectiveness. Thinking back on it, he did weaken my defenses, but beside that, did Voldemort really learn about his connection to me last Christmas? I didn't realize it at the time, but the first time my scar burned was when I walked into the great hall to be sorted and saw the back of Quirrell's head, and I know now I was having some dreams he put into my head that year, dreams of coming to Slytherin, dreams about snakes. No, he knew about the connection long before he told Professor Snape about them. What's more, why didn't Voldemort ever punish Professor Snape for interfering that year? Or did he?"

Dumbledore said nothing, but looked concerned.

"I know that you believe he is a master of Legilimency, but is he really a master of Occlumency? There are supposed to be lots of subtle ways to sneak into a person's mind. Even if he's safe from a frontal attack, is he really strong against the subtle ones?"


"And, if he's not, perhaps Voldemort has been playing him, instead of being the one played."

"You may be correct. I shall test Severus when you awaken him. Remus, Moody, and Tonks will be accompanying you, Miss Lovegood, and Miss Granger Saturday evening. Arthur and Molly will decide about their two children by tomorrow morning, and Madam Longbottom is considering Neville's request to join you. That is really all I shall tell you until you have arrived."

"Yes, sir."

"You're not going to ask where you're going?"

"Would you tell me?"

"No, I suppose not. I have three different alternatives. The best actually belongs to the Potter Trust. Do I have your permission to use it, if it is the best alternative?"

Harry shrugged. "Sure, maybe I can find something out about my holdings. Sir, why didn't you ever tell me about the trust?"

Dumbledore smiled. "Harry, think about the size of that pile of money in the vault. Would you tell any boy much younger than you that he could spend a sixth of that money every year with no worries? What kind of acquaintances would that have earned you? I had planned to have an agent of mine, who knows about finance, sit down with you on your birthday. He still should, before you return to Hogwarts."

Harry thought about that, and realized that they probably wouldn't have been his current friends. "Alright, I won't complain about that one."

"Fair enough. So, buy just a few things for hot weather, and do the same for your friends tomorrow."

"Yes, sir."

They sat in silence for a moment, and then Dumbledore said, "I must say, your wandless magic is quite impressive."

"Thank you, sir."

"In fact, I've only known one person of your age whose ability came close to yours."

"Tom Riddle?"

"No, he was not quite on Miss Lovegood's level, and she is far behind you. In actual power, she is certainly above average in her power, but not terribly high, despite her abilities in wandless magic. Power and wandless magic do not always go together, despite a common belief that they do. No, not to make a mystery of it, it was I."

"Really, sir?"

"Oh, yes. Quite a useful gift. I understand you can do disillusionments as well."

"Yes, sir," Harry said proudly.

"For some reason, those few of us who can do those wandlessly also acquire the talent to sense others under a disillusionment or invisibility cloak or spell." Dumbledore chuckled. "I learn to wandlessly disillusion myself the summer before my Seventh year. I was quite surprised to be caught outside the kitchens one night by the Charms professor, who could sense be very easily."

"Moody also saw me," Harry complained.

"Practice, and it will become more and more difficult for him to do so."

"Yes, sir."

Dumbledore stood up and smiled.

"I don't know why we couldn't have just worn our House blazers," Ron grumbled the following morning.

"You could have, if you were just going as a casual friend," Harry answered. "Besides, you've outgrown your blazer and best trousers."

"True." Ron looked at Harry. "Are you doing alright?"

"Not really," Harry admitted. "We all know that the Grangers were targeted mostly because Hermione is my friend. Hermione won't blame me for that, even though she could. I just hope she doesn't blame herself too much."

"You're right, she could," Ron admitted.

"So, I won't mention it, because it will upset her, and she won't mention it, because it will upset me. She'll forgive me, if she hasn't already, and now we just have each forgive ourselves, and that's not easy."

"That's true, too. So, let's talk about something more fun before things get horrible. Luna, huh?"

"Yes," Harry said yet again.

"You spent a month with her, huh?"

"Ron, she's not someone just to share a slap-and-tickle with. We're serious. Maybe it will work out in the long run, maybe it won't, but we're serious now. Alright?"

Ron shrugged. "No offense, but I thought I'd be seriously dating before you."

"I did, too. No go with Hermione?"

"No," Ron said sadly. "We would need to learn not to fight before we can date, and I don't think either of us want to put in that much effort."

Harry looked at his watch. "We can't put this off any longer, can we?"

Ron sighed. "No, we can't. I'm just afraid it won't be the last funeral we have to go to."

Author notes: I wonder why neither Harry nor Hermione, who both adore the Weasleys, have asked them to be their guardians? Could it be Molly's over-protective ways?