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 25

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 III (the autumnal term until New Year's Day) continues through Chapter 35.
Author's Note:
The Ravenclaws show how much they care for Luna; Ron makes an announcement; Snape and Harry show their feelings for each other; Draco actually talks with Harry

Chapter XXV
Monday, September 2, 1996


Harry and Hermione sat on either side of Luna's bed all day. She woke up often, but fell back asleep within minutes almost every time. She had been very apologetic about having paid too much attention to Harry and Hermione, and so had missed feeling the attack coming from behind her. Madam Pomfrey said that this waking/sleeping was common with the potions she had Luna on.

Harry was touched that every Gryffindor above the Third year, and some of the younger ones, came to see them. The majority of Hufflepuff had come as well. There were no Slytherins, but Zabini had told Lavender (who told Hermione who told Harry) that this was because they did not think it appropriate under the circumstances, not because many of them did not want to show their concern.

Harry understood that.

What he did not understand was why only four Ravenclaws visited.

Harry knew that Terry Boot, Anthony Goldstein, Padma Patil, and Morag McDougal had come in part because of him (like her twin, Padma now sported a green armband). Harry also knew that Padma and Morag had done little to help Luna over the years, but had started to do so after the fiasco at the Department of Ministries. He therefore took their presence as genuine, as he did Terry and Anthony's. He understood when Padma has said some of the Sixth years had wanted to come, but did not want to tire Luna.

There was no excuse for no other Ravenclaw having had the decency to come visit a member of their own House, especially the Fifth year girls (the Fifth year boys and the Fourth year girls had at least sent cards). Most of the Ravenclaws had rejected Luna in need as they had over the previous four years.

"What do you think is going on in Ravenclaw?" Harry asked Ginny, Hermione, and Neville over dinner near Luna's bed. Luna was back asleep, while Ron had not shown up yet.

"I wish I knew," Ginny admitted. "I hate to say it, but I rather suspect that most of the trouble is coming from, well. . . ."

"Cho?" Harry asked.

"Cho," Ginny agreed. "She and Michael broke up some time over the summer. I heard some Fourth years gossiping, and they're sure she was hoping to come back after you."

Hermione snorted.

"Marietta is after you, but not in a good way," Ginny added to Hermione. "Between the two of them, the rumors are flying about all three of you, although not as a group."

"What do we do?" Hermione asked.

"Nothing," Ginny said with a smile.

"Nothing?" Harry asked.

"Nothing," Ginny confirmed.

"What did you do?" Hermione demanded.

"How do you fight rumors and gossip?" Ginny asked.

"The truth. . . ." Hermione started.

"About the victim is useful, but not the best weapon in the short term," Ginny said.

"What is?" Hermione asked.

"Rumors, preferably ones that are true, about the people spreading the rumors," Harry said unexpectedly.


"What have you done?" Hermione demanded.

"Cho and Marietta aren't the best rumor-mongers in Ravenclaw, let alone in Hogwarts."

"Lavender?" Hermione asked.

"She's one of the best, and Parvati is pretty fair, too. Dean asked them, and they're going after Cho."

"And Marietta?" Harry asked. He saw Neville grin knowingly.

Ginny said just one word. "Colin."


"He's really good," Ginny answered. "They're working through some Hufflepuffs, who will be spreading rumors through the Third and Fourth year Ravenclaws, most of whom don't like Cho anyway."

"Why not?"

"Because she doesn't treat them much better than she does Luna. She only cares about the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh year girls who suck up to her, and the Sixth and Seventh year boys. The younger ones are too young to be of any interest to her. The Seventh years are with her, all the Fifth year girls except Luna are her little acolytes. The Sixth years are mostly against her. They're going to back Luna, and the Fourth years and younger will probably go with her, too."

Harry shook his head. "All this nonsense, instead of what's important."

"Which Ravenclaws will join your support group?" Ginny teased.

"No," Harry nearly spat. "That is silly, and you all know it. I'm only agreeing to it for cover for Hermione and Luna in the short term. What's going to happen when it comes out?"

"When what comes out?" Ginny demanded. "That you're casually dating Hermione and Luna? It won't be a big deal, as long as you keep it casual in public." She lowered her voice. "The truth won't come out."

"We're not ashamed," Hermione stated.

"Of course not," Neville said. "But who needs the aggravation?"

Harry gave a huge sigh. "I suppose it's best."

At that point, Ron came rushing into the room. He came to stop, but only his forward momentum ceased. He was bouncing up and down, and grinning to the point it was a little painful to see.

"What is your problem?" Ginny demanded, for she was in a demanding mood that day..

"I . . . I'm a father!"

"What?" Ginny was shocked.

"The time difference," Hermione reminded them.

"Dumbledore just told me. Sirius Arthur Weasley, nine pounds, red hair, healthy, and thriving. They aren't certain how magical he is, of course, but they have their own version of the Great Book, so they know his name was recorded as a magical child."

"Congratulations, Ron!" Harry said before anyone else could. He sprang up and shook Ron's hand. The others did the same.

"What's happened?" Luna murmured.

"Rora had the baby," Harry said. "Healthy and thriving." He sat and took her hand.

"That's great news. Ronald should be proud." She drifted off to sleep. After a bit more small talk, Ron left, needing to burn off his excitement.

"Well, few people in this world will know about little Sirius, but at least Ron has finally done something before any of his brothers or you," Hermione told Harry.

"True," Harry said. "It's too bad he won't be able to see much of his son."

"That's just one of many reasons why some of us never liked the idea," Ginny said.

"How good a father would Ron be right now?" Neville asked. "I mean, I know he would do it if he had to, and so would I. But I don't think I'd be very good right now."

"True, but you and I know what it's like not to have parents around," Harry said. "Still, Sirius has his mother."

"True," Neville had to agree. "But Ron won't ever know the boy, either."

"Not well, anyway," Hermione pointed out. "If he went for a day or two, our time, over Christmas, the boy would be nearly four already. If he goes back in early July, the boy would be nearly ten."

"Well, let's hope he gets at least a few chances," Harry said.

"I wonder what Sirius would think of all this," Ginny mused.

"Since he apparently did the same thing every time he visited, I don't think he would be anything but pleased to have a namesake, since it was his first name, not Black," Harry said.

"You're probably right," Hermione said.

Ginny shook her head. "I hope Mum doesn't yell at him again." She shivered. "Did Ron tell you what she had to say about all this?"

"Not really," Harry admitted. "What little he said didn't sound good."

"Not at all." Ginny grinned. "He and Remus both owe me huge favors."

"Why is that?" Hermione asked.

"Well, Mum was angry at Ron, of course, for, and I quote, 'thinking with the wrong head'. She was also quite ticked at Remus for not being a better chaperon."

"How did you divert her?" Harry asked.

"I convinced her it was Dumbledore's fault for springing the whole thing on us without decent preparation for the cultural differences. She's still angry at him anyway. She decided that all the anxiety you put us through this summer was more Dumbledore's fault for shoving you back to your relatives, so this was just something else she could blame him for."

"Poor Dumbledore," Harry said.

"He can stand it," Ginny said derisively.

Thinking about Dumbledore's age, Harry said, "I hope so."

Tuesday, September 3, 1996

The first class for the Sixth years was Transfiguration, and to the class's surprise, Snape was waiting for them.

"The Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress have to be at the trial this morning," Snape said with a tinge of disgust in his voice. "Since they confessed their guilt, the three perpetrators may already be sentenced even as we speak. Still, the forms must be observed, and I agreed to take this class this once."

He glared at all the students. "Let me say this. No matter what your beliefs, the type of base attacks perpetuated Sunday night have no place in wizarding tradition or in wizarding society. Unless the three in question were actually acting under explicit instructions from the Dark Lord, they had best hope they never come into his presence again! They will be tortured for losing him three potential agents at Hogwarts."

There was not a sound made by the twelve students in the room: Harry and Hermione; a suddenly pale Draco, Blaise Zabini, and Tracy Davis from Slytherin; Padma, Su Li, Mandy Brocklehurt, Anthony Goldstein, and Terry Boot from Ravenclaw; and Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones from Hufflepuff.

"Now," Snape continued, "Professor McGonagall wishes you to choose partners. You will be starting some very difficult and interesting work this year, which will eventually include transforming others and yourselves. You must choose someone you feel . . . comfortable with. At the same time, Professor McGonagall wishes you to choose someone from another House. Those of you who heard the Sorting Song Sunday night. . . ." Here Snape sneered at Harry. . . "will remember it yet again asked for House unity. No doubt, this is a reasonable response. As there are five Ravenclaws, it is just possible."

Snape leered at Harry and said in his oiliest voice. "Since you seem to have a penchant for Ravenclaw women, perhaps you'd like to choose one first, Potter. You seem to have skipped your own year."

Harry was surprised at how annoyed that tone made him. Still, he clasped his hands together on top of the work table, gritted his teeth for a moment, and then managed to say in a calm voice, "Perhaps I wouldn't be the best person to choose first, sir."

Snape raised an eyebrow. "I see." He turned to the Ravenclaw girls. "I was surprised Mister Potter made the qualifications for the course, but the fact remains that he did match at least some of you. Despite what I have seen of his regard for safety rules, if you keep a close eye on him, he shouldn't be a very dangerous partner. Would one of you care to take him on?"

"I'll partner him, Professor," Padma stated quietly.

Snape's eyes flicked between Padma's green armband and Harry. He leered. "Ah, trying to become the Third Ravenclaw lass, hey? Well, I did ask for volunteers, so. . . ."

Snape stopped, as he felt some sort of hex or charm hit his head. Snape frowned. Potter hadn't moved, and he didn't think anyone else had, either. He glanced around the room, and the only student whose hands were not fully visible were Malfoy's, which seemed unlikely. Malfoy suddenly looked frightened at Snape's glance, and then placed his hands on the work table and shook his head.

Then Snape noticed that every students' eyes except for Potter's were growing wide with genuine shock. That made him a bit suspicious of Potter, but since the boy had seemed so determined to stay stoic, even Snape couldn't accuse him on that basis.

"What?" he demanded. All the students seemed unable to speak. "Well!"

"Excuse me, sir," Potter said, now also trying to contain himself, "but something seems to have happened to your, well, to your hair."


"Flowers," Malfoy managed to say.

"What?" Snape was puzzled.

"Your . . . hair, sir. . . . turned into . . . flowers," Zabini managed to say without laughing, although he had to twist his own fingers hard enough to cause real pain to prevent that laughter from bubbling out.

Snape turned to a wall and created a mirror. Sure enough, his long, greasy hair was now standing out, and about half way up each lock, it turned from black to dark green, and ended in a daffodil or tulip.

"If I find out one of you did this in a burst of childish, emotional magic. . . ." Snape was not sure what he would (or could) do, but he was sure he would do something. He stopped when he started hearing some very soft to slightly louder pops.

"Err, sir," Potter said.

"What is it, Potter!"

"There seem to be some hummingbirds and bumblebees trying to, well, excuse me for saying this, sir, but they seem to be trying to pollinate you."

"WHAT!" Snape turned back to the mirror, and about every second, a soft pop would sound and a bumblebee would appear. About every three seconds, a louder pop would sound and a hummingbird would appear.

Snape turned and swatted at them.

"Sir, won't that just anger them?" Granger asked.

"Silence!" A moment later, a bang was heard and six startled Cornish Pixies appeared.

Snape stared at them.

The Pixies stared back. The little pops continued to sound.

Then one of the Pixies darted forward, ripped off a flower, and started to eat it. Snape screamed in pain.

Six more Pixies appeared with a bang and they all attacked the flowers. The other five pixies did the same.

Snape ran from the room, screaming.

"Do you suppose class is dismissed?" Tracy asked.

"Maybe we'd best all pair off," Hermione suggested, "just to be on the safe side."

"Now there's something you don't see every day," Ginny said as Snape ran past her screaming, his flowered hair streaming behind him and followed by a swarm of bumblebees, a flock of humming birds, and a number of pixies waving half-eaten flowers.

"Shame, that," Neville commented. "It would really liven the dungeons up no end."

Fifteen minutes later, Zabini approached Harry. "I say, Potter, a brief word in private?"

"Sure," Harry said. He and Zabini went off to a far corner. "What's up?"

"Malfoy is wondering if he might have a private word with you." Harry scowled. "Yes, I understand. Still, if he comes over, what harm can it do when we're all here?"

"I suppose," Harry said.

"Maybe he should keep his hands in his pockets?" Zabini suggested.

"That doesn't matter," Harry said dismissively.

Zabini unconsciously looked in the direction of the door which Snape had exited. "Perhaps not."

Malfoy came over a few moments later, and all talk in the room died off. Malfoy flushed a bit, but came the rest of the way over.



"May I ask you to keep a hold of your temper?"

"Are you going to be testing it?"

"A little," Malfoy confessed. "At least hear me out, first."


"First of all, we did have a plan to harass you and your friends Sunday night. No one was supposed to be seriously hurt. Montague and I were to distract the Sixth year prefects, and the other three had a little device to use on you and your other friends that Montague brought along. If they had done it correctly, you would have been embarrassed, but not hurt. Or so I was told."

"Go on."

"After what you told us on the train, well, I wanted to think about it. I wish I could verify what you said." His memory suppressed those agonies he had suffered the previous summer at the Dark Lord's hands. If the monster was actually a half-blood, then Draco wanted even less to do with him. He knew what he was expected to do, but with the death of his father in late August, he was even less inclined to do it than ever.

"Sorry, I can't think of how," Harry said in a manner that clearly said that at that moment, he did not really care what Malfoy thought about anything. "I don't have access to a pensieve, and you probably wouldn't take the word of Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, and probably Flitwick."

"I have learned since that there was a Tom Marvolo Riddle who was Head Boy, and he would have had to have been Half-blood," Malfoy confessed. "Anyway, I called off the prank, took the device, and I thought Montague had agreed. I don't know why Crabbe, and especially Nott, went along with his stupid idea."

Harry said nothing. He just stood and waited to hear anything else Malfoy had to say.

"So," Malfoy went on after a short silence, "I just wanted to say I'm sorry Lovegood was, well, almost killed. I had nothing against her, and I'm not so certain I want to be associated with the Dark Lord's movement anymore in any way."

"Did Montague have anything against her?"

Malfoy gave Harry a twisted smile. "He was a Seventh year, and is anxious to join the Dark Lord as soon as possible, so he wanted to hurt you. As for Lovegood, I think he might have fancied her a little, but I won't swear to it."

Harry's frown deepened.

"Look, Potter. First of all, I destroyed the pranking device. And, with Montague gone and me moving to neutrality, I don't know of any strong, direct supporters the Dark Lord has here, among the students, I mean." Harry realized that Malfoy at least thought Snape still supported Voldemort. "I don't like you and you don't like me. We haven't ever liked each other and never will. I don't intend on bothering you this year unless you bother me. Fair enough?"

"I suppose. And after this year?"

"My father was killed in the prison break. I'll be staying here all year. After that?" He shrugged. "It depends what position I'm put in."

"I see."

"Again, if you don't bother me, I won't bother you. The same goes for the Weas, err, Weasley and Granger and the others."

"Alright. Truce?"


They looked at each other, and decided neither wanted to shake hands. They nodded at each other and Malfoy went back to his seat.

Just as he sat, Dumbledore came into the room. "Good morning," he said. "I understand you've had an exciting class today."

The class moved around nervously.

"Would anyone care to comment?"

"How is Professor Snape, sir?" Hermione asked.

"His hair is back to normal, and the Pixies have been vanished," Dumbledore said. "However, we can not stop the periodic appearance of the bees and little birds, although we are vanishing them soon after they appear. They still seem . . . attracted to the Professor, but I'm sure Professor Flitwick will have him sorted out during the next break between classes."

"However," Dumbledore, "that is not what I meant. Harry, do you have any comment?"

"No, sir."


"Other than I'm glad Professor Snape is alright. I take it he is alright, sir?"

"He is, but you know what I mean."

"Sir, I decided after the events of last year that whenever anything like this happens, I am not going to comment."

"Really? May I ask why?"

"Because I am not going to lie, sir. And, if I say when I'm not responsible, it would be easy to tell when I am."

"I see. Since no one wishes to claim responsibility, would anyone care to disclaim it?"

Su and Mandy each started to open their mouths, and were firmly elbowed by their neighbors.

"Miss Li?"

"Nothing, sir."

"Miss Brocklehurt?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Do you have any comment about the events this morning?"

"I'm very sorry that yet another class has been delayed, sir, this time frivolously."

"I see." He spoke to the entire class. "That will be one point from each of you, then, and you may all go towards your next class early."

The group left, but Dumbledore held Harry back.

"Yes, sir?" Harry asked innocently.

Dumbledore sighed. "Harry, I know perfectly well if anyone did something to Professor Snape in class, it was you."

"How is that, sir?"

"Harry, don't forget, I am a very powerful Legilimens. If any of the students had done anything, none of them, not even Miss Granger, could have hidden it from me, other than you." Harry said nothing "Assuming you did do anything, would there have been any particular reason?"

"You mean, if I did something, would it have been because I was a bully, like my father and Sirius?" Harry asked, somewhat coldly, which made Dumbledore wince just a tiny bit. "Well, it wouldn't have been because he made a point of telling the class that I had some of the lowest scores of anyone in the class, and that he thought me irresponsible, because I expected that as soon as I realized he was taking the class. I could have taken offense when he insinuated that I was already looking for a new girlfriend, especially amongst the Ravenclaws, since he claimed I 'have a penchant for Ravenclaws'," Dumbledore winced again, "or when he hinted that Padma had agreed to partner me mostly from romantic desire. Or perhaps I could have lost my temper just because he was restarting the cycle of abuse he's directed against me for five years, and I wouldn't want to put up with it."

"I see. Well, Professor Snape believes that the, err, new hair-style was the result of a burst of childish, undirected anger on your part, and that others in the class managed the . . . additions. Would you be willing to tell him that as far as you know, you were not responsible for any undirected magic, but that if you were you are sorry for any embarrassment caused him?"

Harry thought a moment, and said, "How about if I write that as a letter, sign it first, and ask the rest of the class if they would care to join?"

Now it was Dumbledore's turn to think. Harry added at that point, "I'll make certain Hermione proofs the letter before I ask anyone else to sign."

"Very well," Dumbledore said. He hesitated, and then asked, "It seemed as if you and Mister Malfoy had come to some sort of truce as I entered. Would that be accurate?"

"I hope so," Harry said. "He claimed there was going to be a prank on us, but that after I claimed Riddle was a half-blood on the train, he wanted time to think things over. Montague therefore changed it from a prank to assault. Malfoy has decided he wants to try and be neutral, at least for this year."

"And after this year?"

Harry shrugged. "I think he'd join Riddle if the Death Eaters put any pressure on him next summer, but that he's not about to volunteer. He's still thinking short-term."

"Quite likely."

"Anyway, he promised to leave me alone if I leave him alone."


Harry scowled. "I have never started a fight, sir. If Malfoy leaves me alone, I'll leave him alone. I'll tell Ron and Neville about it in Hagrid's class."

"And, assuming for the moment, hypothetically speaking of course, that if you did cause what happened to Professor Snape on purpose?"

"Then I would think I've made my point, and would not think of doing anything similar unless he treated me worse than he did today."

"Very well, Harry. I think we can leave it at that."

"Yes, sir."

"We do have to talk about your powers, and how you use them."

"Yes, sir."

After their talk, Harry left and Dumbledore shook his head. He knew very well that Harry had hexed Snape, and had done it without any real movement on his part. That was wandless sorcery of a moderately high order. Dumbledore himself could not have pulled that off until his late twenties. The conjuring of the bees, birds, and especially the summonsing of the pixies was even more advanced, and Dumbledore could not have done that until well after his training by the Dragons, but then, he had not been quite as driven as Harry was, with a powerful Dark Wizard stalking him.

This could prove to be an interesting year.

Author notes: Yes, I know it is a common theme in most of my works, but I just do not like Cho. If you are interested, I put the funeral scene I cut when Luna lived into the review thread connected to this chapter (post 76).