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 20

Chapter Summary:
A sprawling tale set in many places and dimensions, as Harry finds himself, finds his abilities growing, and trains for that final confrontation with Voldemort. A H/L/Hr tale, with N/G, Remus/T, and a paternal Ron. Part II continues on a different world.
Author's Note:
The Octet is reunited after individual training.

Chapter XX
September 15, Day 138

Rora stared. She had been sweeping the walkway in front of a small cottage. She had been setting it up for the previous two days, waiting for Ronald.

The man walking towards her looked a bit like Ronald -- the hair and height were right, but this muscular, handsome man couldn't be Master Ronald, could it?

"Rora!" Ron called out happily. Rora ran to his arms, and she squealed happily as he lifted her a foot off the ground and swung her around in a circle. "I've missed you!"

"I missed you, too, Master," Rora said. She had really had to work hard for the remaining part of June, after he had gone. "I barely recognized you."

"Yeah, I put on another stone of muscle," Ron admitted, who had gained nearly that much from the beginning of his summer vacation until he had left for this latest training. "It's going to be tough staying in this good of condition." He set her down and looked at her. "You look good, but you look . . . softer."

"I suppose I am. I'm over three months along."

"Along . . . you . . . you're pregnant?"

"I'm due between next March First and Fifteenth," she said, a small smile on her face.

"Wow. . . ." Ron said.

"Come in, come in, Master! I think you need to sit down." She led him into the front room of the small cottage. Ron sat on the small old-fashioned sofa and looked around.

It was a small cottage. A front room, a kitchen that ran the length of the back of the cottage, one bedroom (next to the front room), and a small room with a toilet and a shower stall (between against the side wall of the kitchen and the entrance to the bedroom, and obviously added long after the cottage had been built), with a large chimney as the central core, with large fireplaces in the front room and kitchen and a small one in the bedroom.

"The front fire is hooked into your fire-talking thingy," Rora said. "Master Remus and Madam Dora are at Spruce Cottage. Your sister and Master Neville are at Apple." Ron frowned at that. "This is Pine Cottage, by the way. Madam Luna and Madam Hermione will be at Oak Cottage tomorrow, and Master Harold will join them in two days." She frowned, trying to remember what else she had to tell him. "The fire places are connected for fire-talking only. We move on on October First."

"Fifteen days alone together?" Ron said, surprised. He had hoped for some time with alone with his friends as well. "Then back to the Dumbledore Villa, I guess.

"No, Master," Rora answered, staying in servant mode. "We all move on together, but I'm not certain where. You return to Lord Dumbledore's on the Tenth."

"That sounds good."

"I was told to tell you that the woods are fairly safe, so that you may continue your exercises, but that you should carry your wand at all times."

Ron shrugged. "No problem. Still, that's not the kind of exercise I'm interested in." He hesitated and said, "That wouldn't hurt the baby, would it?"

"No, Master, of course not!" Rora answered with a small smile.

Ron stood up and took off his robe. He hesitated. "Do they know if it's a boy or a girl yet? It usually is a boy, of course."

"They think it's likely to be a boy," she answered. "They also believe it will at least be slightly magical, but there's no way to know how magical for several years yet."

"Well, we'll just hope for the best," Ron said.

"Neville!" Ginny nearly screamed. She rushed from Apple Cottage and leapt into Neville's strong arms.

"Ginny!" Neville clasped her in his arms and kissed her deeply. "I've missed you so much, luv."

"I know," Ginny murmured in Neville's ear. "Writing every day wasn't a pinch on just holding you."

Neville gave a sigh of contentment, which brought a smile to Ginny's face. "You look beautiful," Neville said.

"And you look pretty buff," Ginny said back.

"Really? What to see?" Neville teased, wriggling his eyebrows.

"Grand idea."

Tonks gave a contented stretch and curled up around Remus. "We should have done this long ago," she said.

"Probably," Remus agreed. "It just didn't seem right."

Tonks' finger traced a scar. "You're looking better than I've ever seen you."

"No transformations for over four months does that for me," Remus admitted. "You, on the other hand, are as stunningly gorgeous as ever."

"I'm twenty-three, and was already in perfect physical condition." She shrugged. "Why would I change?"

Remus rolled part way over and grasped Tonks. He breathed deeply, and sighed. "You don't."

Tonks stared at him. "I am still a werewolf, even if I haven't had to change," Remus pointed out.

"What does that mean . . . for us?"

"Well . . . any children should be fine, but if anything happens to you, I can't raise them."


"If you'd care for any."

Tonks smiled slightly. "I'd like a few, after the war. Anything else?"

"Well . . . I do have a lot of stamina."

"I think four times in one afternoon has taken care of my stamina," Tonks admitted. "Especially after not having any for almost four years. Maybe tonight." She giggled when Remus lightly tickled her. "Later, I said."

"Alright. Shall we talk, or eat?"

"Talk," Tonks said.

Remus leaned over and licked his new lover from the crook of her elbow to the tip of her fingers. "What shall we talk about, my lovely Nymph?"

"Stop that!" Tonks protested insincerely.

"What should we talk about?" he asked, kissing her finger tips.

"Did they tell you how powerful Harry is now? They wouldn't tell me anything beyond what they taught me."

Remus stopped what he was doing. "No, no they weren't totally forthcoming. I have to admit, I never thought of accessing magic in these ways."

"Most of us can't," Tonks said a bit bitterly. "We should have known that Harry's level of wandless magic meant something significant. I mean, I can't conjure much at all, and here Harry will have some real control over raw magic."

"I know what you mean. Harry will be operating at a very high level. There probably aren't a hundred wizards and witches back home that can do the sorts of magic he'll be able to do. I wouldn't be surprised it turned out to just be Harry, Dumbledore, and Voldemort in Europe."

"Has he finished his training?"

Remus shook his head. "He'll keep training part time for the rest of our time here."

"I thought he was going to be finished. Is he carrying on because he did so well or because he didn't?"

Remus snorted. "He exceeded their expectations of course. When has Harry ever let anyone down?"

"Poor kid, having all that on his shoulders."

"We'll all take a little of his burdens. It won't be enough; it can't be enough. Still, every little bit. . . ."

"That's your biggest regret about being a werewolf, isn't it? That you couldn't raise Harry?"

"Biggest regret? No, but it's certainly up near the top," Remus agreed. "I can't bring my self to be very sorry that the Dursleys were killed. They nearly killed Harry's spirit. If I could have raised him. . . ."

"I know. You should have been allowed. Those Muggles were so antiseptic and so determinedly normal, and yet so despicable and, underneath it all, spoiled in every sense of the word."

They were silent for a few moments, luxuriating in just being close. Finally, Tonks said, "Do you think the kids have changed much?"

"Three months is a long time for a teen," Remus agreed. "I barely recognized Harry when we went to pick him up that night."

"How do you think they've changed?"

"Actually, I did get some reports. The boys each grew a little more than a quarter of an inch, Hermione and Luna a little under. I really think they've all done most of their growing."

"Even Ginny?"

"Hopefully she'll do a bit more. Four eleven is a bit too short for her taste, I'm sure."

"Hey, I'm only five four!"

"I know. I doubt Hermione will ever reach your towering height, or that Ginny's will ever match Hermione's."

"Ron must have taken it all."

"True. He and Dean will likely tower over everyone at Hogwarts except Hagrid." Remus quirked a smile.


"I just remembered Sirius complaining how he always felt short whenever we came back from visiting Hagrid."

"Well, a little humility was good for him."

Remus laid back. "I wish I knew where it all went wrong."

"It all comes back to Voldemort," she said, slightly surprising Remus by using the title. "Few people are totally good or totally bad. I'm sure even Aunt Bella and Lucius Malfoy had some good in them, somewhere. Hidden very deeply no doubt, but there somewhere. Even Voldemort probably had some good in him at one time. He made his choices, and since then, he's been drawing people into his web of evil."

She paused a moment, and went on, "I haven't been in a lot of firefights, but I thought I had met some bad people. Most of those Death Eaters last June . . . they almost literally reeked of evil." She shook her head. "I just can't understand the hate that drives those people."

"I know. Neither can I."

The two laid there, entwined, until they both drifted off into a nap.

September 16, Day 139

Hermione Granger paced back and forth in the front room of Oak Cottage. She stopped and looked around the room yet again, as though a clock would suddenly appear where there hadn't been one before.

Of course, she had seen many stranger things than that.

No, there were still two heavy wooden sofas, with old-fashioned feather-stuffed cushions. "Wait," she muttered, "they were actually called settles, not sofas." She frowned. "Oh, who cares what they were called during the Jacobin period." She went over and kicked one of the four chairs that matched the settles in frustration.

Besides the settles and matching chairs, there were four wooden cathedral chairs, a few matching tables with either lamps or candelabra, and one had a Muggle (or at least quiescent) chess set. There were no decorations on the old paneled walls.

Finally, Hermione heard the soft 'pop' of someone apparating near the front of the cottage. Hermione flung open the door and then stopped, breathing hard.

Luna looked wonderful. She looked a bit more mature (unsurprisingly), but other than that, she looked much the same. The quizzical look on her face was certainly one Hermione had become used to.

Luna cocked her head to the left. "From the force you used to fling open the door, I would have thought I would at least be the recipient of one of your famous. . . ."

Hermione flung herself onto Luna and hugged for all she was worth.

"That's better," Luna managed to say with what little breath was left. "I've missed you, too."

"I never, NEVER, NEVER want to do this again," Hermione said as Luna hugged her lover back. "Never!"

"Do what? I thought you would like doing pure research. . . ."

"Not without you. Not without Harry. Not without all my friends." She tightened her grip for a moment, and then said, "I loved the research, but it was so . . . so sterile."

"Life's meaning comes from people, not from research, you mean."

"Well, a good part of it, anyway," Hermione admitted. "Not that I would tell Ron that."

Luna smiled and took Hermione's head between her hands. "May I?"

Hermione looked startled for an instant, but then nodded. Luna stared deeply into Hermione's eyes for over a minute, and then she nodded. "Yes, I feel the same for you. I love Harry, in the physical senses, a bit more than you, but I think our feelings are much the same, overall. It will be a difficult road for the three of us, but so long as we're not overly demonstrative in public we can tolerate the speculations."

"You're getting good at that," Hermione said.

"I am. It's still not absolutely certain if I'm a Prophetess as well as a Seer. I confess, I will not be disappointed if that part of the Gift stays out of my reach."

"Can you really be a full-Seer without it?"

"No, I suppose not," Luna agreed. "Still, having such strong Second Sight is enough of a burden for any one person. They've reduced my potion by a quarter, and it's a bearable burden, but a burden nonetheless."

"I understand," Hermione told her lover. She had managed some research into the subject.

"Have you been here long?"

"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "I should have learned how to transfigure something into a clock."

"A mechanical clock is probably pretty difficult. Maybe we could work out a water clock between the two of us?"

Hermione smiled. It was good to have someone as smart as Luna as a lover. "After lunch?"

"After lunch. Then we can see if they have the ingrediants for a treacle tart. I bet Harry is craving one almost as much as he is the two of us."

Hermione laughed. The two witches joined arms and went into the cottage.

September 17, Day 140

"I swear, you're more nervous than I am."

"I suppose I am."


"Why am I more nervous, or why are you less nervous?"

"Either one."

Hermione stopped pacing. "I suppose it's partially a matter of temperament."

"True, but you never struck me as the impatient sort before," Luna replied.

"Except when it comes to Harry, and now you," Hermione answered. "That was one thing that nagged at me for two years."

"It might be the potion, but I'm not following you, my love." Luna had just taken her reduced potion a few moments before.

Hermione smiled, as she did any time Luna used an endearment. Harry rarely used one, and was always shocked when she or (more commonly) Luna used one. Her own parents had rarely used them, either, so she also reacted a bit like Harry when one was applied to her. "Well, I was interested in Viktor and Ron through most of my Fourth year, and Ron all through my Fifth. I kissed Viktor a few times, and dreamed of kissing Ron even more. I almost never fantasized about kissing Harry. . . ."

"Or me."

"Actually, I did, after the Ministry, but that's not important at the moment. The important thing is, even though I never fantasized much about kissing Harry, and I don't think I ever dreamed about him, well, in that way like I did Viktor and especially Ron. . . ."

"Go on."

"Even if I wasn't lusting after Harry, all my non-romantic thoughts that weren't on school were on Harry. How to help Harry. How to comfort Harry." She frowned. "When Mister Weasley was attacked last Christmas, I didn't rush to headquarters to comfort Ron, let alone Ginny or Mrs. Weasley. I went to comfort and help Harry. My life has been centered around Harry since sometime in our First year, and I never realized how important he was to me emotionally until my parents were killed."

"I know. When you embraced Harry at the Weasleys, I questioned if our love would be able to withstand the love you and Harry have for each other. Then I thought about some of the feelings I had for you last spring, and here we are."

"In a triangle."

"Nonsense, my love. We are not in competition for each other."

"I hope not, anyway." Hermione smiled. "I'm glad we had last night alone."

"So am I. Still, it will be lovely sleeping between the two of you, especially now that the nights are getting cool."

"I sometimes suspect you're a hedonist," Hermione teased.

"Oh, yes," Luna teased back, "we are both such Epicureans, in the misused modern sense."

The two witches laughed at the joke. At that point, they heard a soft 'pop'. Hermione was out the door in a split second, and, as Luna heard the collision followed by the explosion of breath squeezed out of Harry, she laughed with joy.

September 18, Day 141

Hermione woke up early, for once even before Harry. She smiled, remembering Harry saying that he was likely to experience something similar to jetlag, considering the distance he had traveled the day before. All the apparating had tired him out as well.

She undid the piece of yarn that kept her hair tied in the night. She had been amused to learn months before that while Harry really enjoyed all parts of her and Luna's anatomy, he had something of a hair fetish. He loved brushing their hair, running his fingers through their hair, watching their hair move.

Hermione had always had a large bush of wild chestnut hair. She had let it grow even longer, once she had learned a spell which would instantly control it in any combat situation. Now it cascaded to the bottom of her shoulder blades in the back and to just above her nipples in the front. Luna had let her long (once nearly waist-length) straight hair grow to just past her buttocks. The attention Harry lavished on them the evening before was more than worth the effort it took to control their hair.

Hermione looked closely at Harry. She remembered how he had looked at the end of the last school year all too well. He had been exhausted, emotionally, physically, and mentally. He had had dark circles under his eyes and he moved like every motion caused him agony.

The Harry who had hugged her that night at the Weasleys had been a revelation. Hermione had been shocked at how healthy and vibrant Harry was that night. Later, she had realized that she had been surprised because Harry had had that tinge of exhaustion and stress since the run-up to the Third Task, and it had even appeared as early as when she had coached him for the First Task.

Now Harry looked tired, but still far better than he had since before the Third Task. His jaw line was a bit firmer, and his beard stubble was a bit heavier, but he was still in the same great shape he had been when they had been separated. Now it was Luna who had a few stress lines even as she slept.

Neither Luna nor Hermione had expected them to reduce her potion this soon. Still, the Sibyl and her other trainers had decided to give it a try, and it had allowed her powers to grow more obvious and usable, without (so far at least) any bad side effects.

Hermione recognized the signs of both her lovers starting to wake. She smiled and laid back down, draping her self over them in an embracing hug.

Author notes: Comments on recent chapters are found the review threads for those chapters.