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 22

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 on a different world ends, and Part III (the autumnal term) starts.
Author's Note:
Ron almost makes a request, but Harry makes one instead; the girls consult Remus about the ritual; the teens learn one more skill, and then return home.

Chapter XXII
October 23, Day 176

"Where's Harry?" Hermione asked when she came out of the shower.

"Ronald came for him," Luna answered.

That spoke volumes to Hermione. Luna had gradually started calling Ron 'Ron' instead of 'Ronald'. Any time he annoyed her, which only he seemed capable of doing, he was back to 'Ronald'.

"What did he do?"

"It wasn't what he did, he was what he was feeling." Luna's empathic powers were more powerful now and she was more open about displaying them. "He was angry, and trying to hide it. He was jealous of Harry, and trying to hide it. And he felt demanding."

"And was trying to hide it?"


Hermione placed her towels on a drying rack near the small fireplace and then climbed into her winter dressing gown. "I would imagine he needs something for Rora, or more likely, their baby."

Luna looked at Hermione with what Hermione considered to be Luna's most avian look. "Why?" she finally asked.

"Because it takes a lot to bend Ron's pride," Hermione said simply. "The baby is about the only thing, the only person, I can think of that would make Ron come to Harry with the feelings you describe."

"Yes," Luna agreed, "you're probably right."

"So what's the problem?" Harry asked, honestly puzzled. "You now think you need about nine thousand Galleons for your son, and I gave you twelve."

Ron winced. "You're right, of course. I'm sorry I almost asked you for. . . ." Ron was truly embarrassed and sorry.

"Don't be that way," Harry nearly begged. "Tell me. What were you going to do with the money? Before you found out how much you really needed to leave here?"

"Well, I was going to leave six thousand," Ron said. "Did the twins talk to you about money?"

"No, I barely had time to do much more than say 'hello' at the funerals," Harry said. He thought a moment, and added, "They did say they had some business to talk over with me whenever we get back."

"Right. I guess Ginny and Hermione didn't mention it, either, probably because they didn't think it was their place to. The short version is, they're doing so well that both Gambol and Jakes and Zonko's are willing to sell out to them after Christmas, lock, stock, and patents." Gambol and Jakes was the joke/novelty store in Diagon Alley, Zonko's the one in Hogsmeade.

"Neither will have much stock after Christmas if they're selling out," Harry pointed out.

"That's what Mum, Bill, and Hermione all said," Ron admitted, "but getting the lease of Gambol and Jakes' store, and ownership of Zonko's, helps make up for that. Gambol's has been going downhill since Jakes bought the family out back in the mid-Eighties, and the twins have always said they haven't introduced anything decent since then, either. Zonko is a little older than Dumbledore, and none of his family care about jokes, so if the twins keep the name on the store, he's willing to sell out, too."

"How much will all that cost them?"

"Thirty thousand."

"That's a lot less than I thought," Harry said.

"Gambol and Jakes will go under in a year or so no matter what," Ron said. "The twins have just given 'em too much competition. They're just taking over the lease, not buying it out. It works out roughly a little more than a third for the Gambol patents and the contents of the store, and the rest to Zonko."

"That makes sense," Harry agreed. "What's the deal they're offering us potential investors?"

"The way they're working it is that the current shop is worth half, because that's where all future ideas will come from," Ron said. "Each twin gets forty-five percent, and you get ten."

Harry frowned. "They don't have to do that!"

"They want to," Ron answered. "Anyway, each one will also put in at least nine hundred Galleons each."

Harry thought about that and nodded. That way, the twins would own at least 51% of their new company.

"They obviously hope to invest more, but they said they'd need their cash for putting into products and advertizing." Harry nodded his understanding again.

"Lee is investing three thousand and is going to manage the Zonko store, and they let the Grangers invest fifteen hundred." Harry nodded again. Lee was already helping out in the store part time and was the twins' best friend. Hermione was also a friend, and had been dating Ron at the time.

"Mum and Dad pledged three hundred," Ron went on. "Bill pledged three thousand, and Charlie seven-fifty. They said they'd ask you for anything the family couldn't pledge, and go for the goblins for anything else."

When Harry didn't say anything, Ron went on. "Like I said, I was going to leave six thousand here. I was going to invest forty-five thousand, I mean hundred. Ginny mentioned before we all split off for training that she would invest six thousand as well." He smiled. "She said she'd leave fifteen hundred if Rora has a girl, but since she's the first girl born a Weasley in I forget how many generations, I don't think that's much of a worry. She said she'd leave seven fifty for her nephew."

"That would have left me with something like . . . nine thousand one hundred and fifty Galleons for the twins if I did the math right." Harry thought a moment. "I'd be happy to. It's a great investment."

Ron winced. "You're right, of course. I was just getting a little greedy. I'll leave nine thousand here, invest two with the twins, and that will still leave me with a thousand to live on until I set myself up after Hogwarts."

Harry smiled. He had wanted to bring this up, and this was his chance. "Tell me, Ron, would you consider doing me a favor?"

"Sure, what?" Ron was happy to make up for his almost begging for money.

"What are you going to name your son?"

"I hadn't given it much thought," Ron admitted.

"Would you name him Sirius?"

Ron thought about it, and smiled. He had always liked Sirius, except for having his leg broken, of course. "That's a great idea."

"So, here's the deal. You leave seventy-five hundred here for a magical child. You invest three thousand with the twins, and you still have fifteen hundred to get you started. If it's a girl, Ginny's fifteen hundred will make up the sum to the nine thousand, and I'll add fifteen hundred as well. If it's a boy, and he's named Sirius, I'll match your seven thousand five hundred. If he's not, I'll still give fifteen hundred. No matter which way you and Rora decide to go, a magical child will be taken care of."

"Weasleys are always magical," Ron said. "There hasn't ever been a Squib born to a Weasley, even from mixed marriages."

"I thought you were Pure-Bloods."

"We are. Some of our cousins aren't. Three Weasleys will be starting next year, six more over the next few years. All boys."

"The Sorting Hat and Snape will both be pleased." Harry frowned, and said, "I thought there was an accountant somewhere?"

Ron waved that away. "Mum's second cousin. And even he wasn't really a Squib. He attended Hogwarts but never got past his O.W.L.s. I think any bad blood came from his father's side of the family anyway."

"Really? Would I know them?"

"Oh, yeah. He's not only Mum's second cousin, he's Malfoy's, too. His name is Julius or Julian Malfoy, I think."

"I guess all you Purebloods really are interrelated."

October 31, Day 184

Lord Alexander looked at the six eager young faces before him. They had all come a remarkably long way in the six months they had been on his world. They drew strength from each other. Even when they had been separated, they had thought in terms of their little group nearly as much as they did of themselves.

He had just finished telling them basically that. They had all picked up on the fact that this was likely leading to something interesting.

"We were wondering," he said, drawing them out, "if any or all of you might be interested in some intense training of a different kind."

"That depends," Ron said with a smile.


"On what kind of training, and who we would be with while we were doing it," Ron answered. The rest of the group seemed to agree. They didn't want to be separated again, and of course Ron wanted to spend as much time with Rora as possible.

"You would all be together, if you wished, at the hunting lodge of a friend of mine. While he has a few servants of his own, you might wish to take one along with you."

"And what would we be studying?" Ginny asked.

"We rather thought you might wish to be animagi," Alexander said.

While most looked pleasantly surprised and interested, Hermione asked, "Can that be done in the time we have left?"

"Oh, yes," Alexander assured them.

"It took my father three years," Harry pointed out.

"It took us three years to research the charms and potions, and gather the materials and brew the potions," Remus said. "The actual transformations they did over one Christmas break."

"It will take about one week to do the preliminary work," Alexander said. "At that point, if your magic is compatible with the potions and spells, you will know what your animagus alter ego will be. If you choose to go through with the transformation, there is a week or so of practice and then the fixing potions."

"Why wouldn't we go through with it?" Neville asked.

"Not everyone's magic is really compatible or powerful enough to get a good transformation. You are all powerful enough, but that doesn't mean your magic will be compatible," Alexander answered.

"Think of Rita Skeeter," Hermione reminded them. "She's a beetle. Good for her eavesdropping, but also easily smushed."

"And a friend of my father was a kangaroo," Luna said. "He decided not to go through with it. I mean, kangaroos are rather conspicuous in Denmark."

"Quite," Alexander said, not certain what a kangaroo was or where Denmark was but understanding the basic point.

"Well, I'll give it a try," Harry said. That was the opinion of all six students.

After the meeting broke up, Luna and Hermione steered Remus into the library. "What's up with you two?" he asked.

"There's something Luna found while doing some general reading a while ago," Hermione said. "We haven't had the time to talk to you about it before now."

"We feel it's something that could really make you, Dora, and Harry feel better," Luna said.

"Here," Hermione said, "read this. It's the quickest way to explain."

Remus hesitated, but then took the parchment Luna had extended to him.

He read it, twice.

Remus looked at Luna with a combination of respect, gratitude, and a little fear. "Are you sure we could pull this off?"

"I have some confidence in my abilities," Luna answered, "and I asked the Sibyl about it. I have every confidence that, if we all desire the ceremony to work, it will work."

"Fair enough. What does Harry think?"

"We haven't told him," Hermione admitted. "We wanted to know what you and Dora thought about it, and maybe sound out Moody and Dumbledore when we get back, before asking Harry."

"That way, if there are any objections, we won't get his hopes up," Luna added. "We're sorry we can't do the same for you. After all, for all we know, it might even be illegal back home."

"I understand," Remus answered. "Thank you. I'll bring it up with Albus before you go to Hogwarts. With luck, I'll have an answer for you after the feast."

"Thank you."

November 17, Day 201

The six teens were standing out in the middle of a large field near the hunting lodge where they had been studying to be animagi for two weeks. This was the afternoon they would all learn what their shapes would be, should they go through with the process.

They had drawn straws for the order. Luna was first. She took a deep breath, and then drank the potion. She waited the necessary twenty seconds, turned her wand on herself, and said the incantation.

Her body seemed to blur for a moment, and suddenly there was a swan sitting where Luna had been standing. It gave a startled hiss, and a moment later, Luna was standing there again.

She shook her head. "What was THAT!"

"You were a swan," Hermione answered before anyone else could. Luna concentrated, and turned back into the swan. She stood, and managed a very awkward take-off, a shakey flight, and an even more awkward landing. She reverted, laying on the chilly ground. "This will take some practice," she said.

"I take it that means you want the next dose?" Lord Mikos, their trainer, asked. This would allow her to transform for a week without her wand, at which time she would either have to take the fixing potion or let the ability disappear forever.

"Yes, please."

Ginny went next. She eagerly made the transformation. She blurred and transformed into a small Welsh Terrier. She moved around in a circle for a moment, as if trying to figure out what she had changed into, and then broke into loud, excited barking. She transformed back. "Was I a dog?" she asked.

"A Welsh Terrier," Tonks confirmed.

"Cool!" She took the extending potion as well.

Hermione was a bit more nervous than the previous two girls. The potion made her cough, and she nearly missed the signal to transform.

"What a pretty bird," Ginny said.

"She's a parrot," Neville said. Hermione was indeed a very large, green parrot.

"Aren't those famous for talking?" Ron asked. "Does that mean she'll be able to talk while a bird?"

"Yes, but she'll have to work on it," Remus said as Hermione hopped around on the ground, fluttering her wings. She finally popped back. "Another bird?"

"A big green parrot," Neville repeated.

Hermione frowned and then shrugged. "Well, it could be worse," she said, reaching for the potion.

"Are you ready, Neville?" Lord Mikos asked.

"Ready," Neville said, taking the potion in a gulp. The group goggled at the resulting small pony.

Neville popped back, echoing Luna: "What was THAT?"

"You were a pony," Hermione answered.

Neville wrinkled his nose. "Not very useful," he grumbled.

"You never know," Ron said, taking his dose and staring at it for a moment before swallowing it. In his place was a magnificent Irish setter. He barked joyfully and gamboled about for a few moments, although Hermione had to force him from sniffing at her too intimately.

He popped back. "What kind was I!"

"Irish setter," Harry said as he took his own portion of the potion. "Seamus will be pleased."

Ron laughed and drank the extending potion as Harry took his dose. Ron stopped laughing and the others stared. In Harry's place was a huge Kodiak bear. The bear sat back on his haunches and roared. Harry went down on all fours and ambled over to a small tree, about four inches thick. Harry rubbed against it and then went up on his hind legs. He grasped the trunk in his huge paws, and snapped the tree in half.

Harry snapped back. "Was I a bear?"

"A bloody big bear!" Ron exclaimed.

"Well, I can't go out in public too often," Harry said with a grin, but he thought it could definitely be useful -- or at least fun.

All six students went through the rest of the process and became animagi, although Neville was the least enthusiastic of them. They were registered with the Dragons and in the town of Ruchak, just as they had done with their apparating. This would give them legal cover until they reached their official seventeenth birthdays, when they should register in Britain.

With the exception of Ron, the visitors were yearning to return home throughout most of November, despite their general interest in the animagi training. The other five students made certain Ron had all the time he could get with Rora, while supporting him whenever they were together.

None of the group (other than Ron of course) had ever really warmed up to Rora too much, but they certainly did not dislike her. They therefore did not have to push too far to sympathize with Ron's position.

Yet finally, December 5 in local time came around. Rora never asked Ron to stay, and so he never thought of the idea on his own. They had returned to the Villa the night before, and set off for the stone circle after breakfast. All eight visitors were quiet on the trip, Ron most of all.

They joined hands in the center of the circle, and Remus said the long returning spell.

In less than five minutes, the travelers felt the temperature go from just below freezing to a hot and humid summer's day.

They were back.

Saturday, August 25, 1996

Alastor Moody clumped out into the bright sunshine of the Adriatic dawn. Seven of the eight travelers were still asleep, but he needed to talk with the eighth.

Harry came running up a path and jogged in place for a few seconds before coming to a complete stop. "Good morning, Alastor."

"Morning, lad," Moody said. He shook his head. "I knew what was happening, and it's still difficult to accept all the changes you went through."

"Well, for you it was less than three weeks, for us more than seven months."

"Aye, I know. I'll have to treat you even more as an adult than I did before."

"Thank you. We spent all day telling you what we did, but you never said what has been happening here."

"If you mean here on the island, not much of anything. I relaxed, and I'll thank you not to pass that on to anyone other than those two lasses." He frowned. "Two lasses?"

Harry shrugged. "For now, at least."

Moody returned the shrug. "As for the rest of the world, there was an attempt to break the Death Eaters out of Azkaban. More Death Eaters were killed than were freed, however, including Lucius Malfoy. The Lestrange brothers are loose, though. On the whole, it's been quieter than anyone had anticipated."

"And . . . and . . . damn, I can't say it. Headquarters?"

"It's under a Fidelius again, done by Voldemort himself. The man who coordinated the attacks on your relatives and Grangers has been identified; he's probably hiding at Headquarters, along with Pettigrew. Dumbledore and I thought about what you said about Snape, and we agreed with you. Snape will not be meeting with his former master again."

"I bet he hates that!"

"He does, but he also accepts it."

"So, what do we do now?"

"In the fight against Voldemort? Nothing. You're stronger than anyone ever thought you could be so soon, but you're not totally ready to force a final show down. You'll be ready sooner than anyone thought."

"Which is?"

Moody shrugged. "We figured three to five years. I'm betting two at the most now."

Harry frowned but did not argue. "And in the short term?"

"Enjoy two more days in the sun. We'll go home on Monday. The Ministry just agreed two days ago to bring in aurors and some lesser law enforcers from around the world. The North Americans are sending a hundred all by themselves, and they'll be arriving Monday as well. If Voldemort is up to something right away, it's unlikely to be against you or your friends. Dumbledore figures it's safe for the two Weasleys to visit the Burrow for a day or two, and for Longbottom to go home for a few days as well." He grinned. "You can go, too, but do you really want to be there when Ron tells Molly she's going to be a grannie?"

"When you put it that way, no," Harry admitted.

"I rented a place in Diagon Alley, the flat right across from Lovegood in fact. You and I can stay there for a few days, and Granger can stay with the Lovegoods. Dumbledore decided to let all of you ride the train after all. Lupin, Tonks, and I will be on the train. Tonks is assigned to Hogwarts for greater security and of course Lupin is going, too. I think, between the three of us, the rest of the staff, and you and your friends and your defense club, we should be in pretty good shape."

"We can but hope," Harry said.

"Aye, lad. We can. It's good to have you lot back."

"I missed you, too."

"Come along, then, my boy. Get that cane of yours, and I'll show you how to use one for more than walking, although I hope you don't need it for that for at least a hundred years!"

Author notes: Well, you should all be able to guess the ritual by now! So, with that out of the way, we'll see who get's struck down in the next chapter.