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 41

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 IV (Chapters 35-44) goes from the start of the New Year through the end of June.
Author's Note:
Dumbledore talks about the past, and he and Harry meet with Bane, who has a present for them. Draco tells Hermione the facts of life.

Chapter XLI

Every year, barring emergencies and Twi-Wizard Tournaments, the Hogwarts students played three sets of Quidditch games: two in November or early December; two in April; and two in late May or early June. The autumnal games had been Gryffindor/Slytherin (Gryffindor had won 300-90) and Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw (Ravenclaw had won 270-120). This year, Ravenclaw/Slytherin would be the first April game, and Gryffindor/Hufflepuff the second.

April was therefore a busy month for Harry. His Sundays were filled with the DA meetings and the Quidditch team was meeting for 10 hours a week. In addition, Harry was dueling three times a week, he was trying to spend time with Luna as well as Hermione, and he had all his regular running, workouts, and class work. On top of that, he was giving extra coaching to some of the Fifth years in Defense and Charms, and was still helping Madam Hooch with the Apparating class.

Harry was in fact so busy that he wound up skipping the Ravenclaw/Slytherin game. Luna went of course, along with Hermione. While Ravenclaw was struggling to a five hour 420-300 victory over Slytherin, Harry was engaged in a number of five on two duels -- Harry and Remus taking on various aurors and hit-wizards. Harry and Remus had managed to win nearly all of the fights. Harry had also taken three out of nine duels against three hit-wizards, to their amazement, but by the time he was finished, he was exhausted.

"I can't find Harry anywhere. I even looked in the Prefect's Bathroom, just in case Ron slipped him the password. Are you certain. . . ?"

"Dearest Hermione, I can assure you that no one could be hiding in our flat's bathroom, let alone Harry."

"Sorry, Luna." Hermione frowned. "Ron doesn't know; Dean doesn't know; Ginny doesn't know. Even Lavender doesn't know."


"He was with Ginny all afternoon . . . in the Prefect's bathroom."

"Ah." Luna scrunched up her face in thought. "The map?"

"Harry keeps it locked up now, remember?"

"What? Oh, yes . . . that Third year. Did Harry ever find out how he found out about the map?"

"No, not that I know of." Hermione frowned. "Freddie's a lucky little punk. I should have docked him fifty points."

Luna smiled. "If that had happened over the last few years when my things were taken by my fellow Ravenclaws, we would have come in last place for the House Cup each time."

"Someone should have stood up to the Clique years ago," Hermione complained, not for the first time.

"Cho didn't start the group, she just inherited it," Luna reminded Hermione. "Cho has come around, and it's not like Freddie wasn't punished."


Luna frowned again. "Why did Harry turn him into a newt? How did Harry turn him into a newt for that matter? That's, excuse the phrase, post-N.E.W.T. transfiguration for most people."

"I don't know how he did it either," Hermione admitted. "As for why . . . just add that question to the list of Muggle references we'll have to go over some time when we have access to a VCR and a library."

"Oh . . . I remember now! We saw it last July. That was a very odd film, but funny."

"True, but I'm glad Harry saw it. He needs more humor in his life." Hermione looked over Luna's shoulder. "Ah. Maybe Dora knows where Harry is."

"I do, actually," Tonks said coming up to them. "Harry is soaking in Remus' bath tub. They've had a rough day."

"Where's Professor Lupin?" Hermione asked, formally since there were a few students wandering the corridors nearby.

"He's in the bath tub in my quarters," Tonks said with a smirk. The pair had adjoining quarters with a connecting inner door. "And Remus' password is?" Tonks asked, daring them to guess.

"It's always a magical creature. . . ."

"It's 'quintaped'," Luna said.

"Have fun," Tonks said. "I plan to."

Saturday, April 26, 1997

Hermione grimaced a little. The crowd was screaming around her, and she could not get close to Harry. Harry had pulled off a magnificent 84 degree dive from over 200 feet that had brought the crowd to its feet screaming. When he had pulled out of the dive at fifteen feet, he had been holding the Snitch. The game was over in nine minutes. Gryffindor had won 150 to 0. Hermione had learned to appreciate flying more over the previous summer, but it had not done anything to prepare her Harry's power dives.

Hermione looked at Luna a little enviously. Luna had not so much as peeped during Harry's dive. She had merely nodded with satisfaction when Harry held up the Snitch. Since Hermione could not get close to Harry, she pulled Luna from the crowd and they started to skirt around it. Sooner or later, they would all have to head back to the castle.

"How could you take Harry's dive so calmly?" Hermione asked.

"Why wouldn't I?" Luna asked, puzzled. "He wasn't following anyone, and no one was following him. There wasn't a Bludger or a flyer anywhere near him. What could happen? It's not like a group of dementors is likely to show up again."

"Remind me to tell you what happened in the middle of Harry's first game," Hermione said dryly. "It's amazing what can happen to Harry during a game."

It was over half an hour before the crowd started to break up. When Harry, the team, and their supporters finally were able to make their way back towards the castle, they were surprised to find the headmaster waiting for them.

Seeing the looks of fear on many of their faces, Dumbledore said, "No, nothing 'bad' has happened, children," he chided them. "I do need to speak with the head of the DA, however. I had hoped to catch a bit of the game, but I see I needed to be quicker."

Most of the students left, leaving Harry and his closest friends with Dumbledore. "I am sorry, but I must speak with Harry privately," Dumbledore said. The group moved off back towards the castle, while Dumbledore took Harry off towards Hagrid's.

"We're not meeting Hagrid's brother, are we?"

"No, he and the centaurs have learned to stay out of each other's territory, and we are meeting with Bane, the centaur."

"Oh, joy," Harry said, remembering his other run-ins with the proud and somewhat nasty centaur.

"He will speak with us, but not with Hermione," Dumbledore said. "Apparently, she offended him last year."

"What doesn't offend him?"

"Much does offend him," Dumbledore agreed. "Shall I tell you their greatest secret? I shall, if you swear never tell another in my lifetime without my permission."

"Alright," Harry said, "I promise."

"They are not just a proud race, they are a dying race, just as the giants are. I doubt any of your grandchildren will ever see a giant. Certainly not a giant's child. Perhaps not even your children will. As far as I know, only three have been born these last twenty years, although I suppose there might be more."

"If they're dying, why didn't they side with Voldemort?" Harry asked. "Didn't he promise them anything like a better life?" Harry knew the various Ministries never would.

"So far as we know, the few remain giants are living in reserves in the Urals," Dumbledore answered. "Those are trying to rebuild the species, but there are likely too few. Some giants are unaccounted for, but the best guess is that they have been killed."

"Best guess?"

"They have stayed away from the wizarding and Muggle worlds, with good reason," Dumbledore pointed out. "The same is true of the centaurs. Nearly half of all the centaurs now live in this forest, and it is no longer that large a forest. I am certain your great grand-children will see the last of the centaurs. Mountain and river trolls are likely to go the same way. There are only five thriving colonies of acromantulas left around the world."

"So some of the other intelligent magical species are dying out?"

"Exactly, and none are thriving, except for wizards, and we are only thriving because we are still arising from the Muggles. If that were not true, we would have died out in the Great Plague."

"Err . . . is that something I should remember learning in History of Magic? It sounds like I should."

Dumbledore sighed. "Alas, no. Tell me, how far back into history does that class go?"

Harry thought. "I don't remember anything being mentioned before Merlin, and not all that much before the founding of Hogwarts."

"Sad, but accurate. You do know there was magic before that?"

"Of course. We talk about Egyptian curses and Mummies in Defense. Hermione is studying cuneiform in Runes, and that's what, four thousand years ago or something like that?"

"Closer to five thousand, for both the earliest forms of hieroglyphs and cuneiform," Dumbledore agreed.

"And Luna has said that much of our wand lore comes from the Druids, so that at least two thousand years ago."

"Quite right. You obviously learned something in your Muggle school."

"That, and I was locked in Dudley's spare room, or at least trapped there, for several years. He had a lot of books, even if he never read any. I did."

"I see. In any event, between two thousand three hundred and two thousand two hundred years ago, a great plague swept through the magical world. It killed perhaps six or even seven tenths of the magical people on Earth, and killed off several magical beasts as well, although no one has ever found out why. In any case, about half the remaining members of the wizarding population fled to the parallel wolds, which had been visited for some time. All of the Romans, the other Italians, and Etruscans who fled, for example, went to Rushak, while other European and Mediterranean groups to other nearby lands. If the Muggle-born did not exist, and some of us had not reproduced with Muggles, we would also have died out on this world."

"That sounds a lot more important than patent arguments about the collapsable cauldron," Harry pointed out.

"I agree," Dumbledore said. "Again, please do not repeat this to another student, but I thought Professor Binns had an overly narrow focus when I was a First year student. Unfortunately, even though he is a poor teacher, he does live, in a manner of speaking, to teach. He just won't move on."

"Oh. . . ."

"In any event, we have strayed from my point. Bane is a proud being, yet he clearly sees that his kind will be gone soon. It is often difficult for even the most philosophic being to face his own mortalilty, let alone his entire species."

"I suppose," Harry agreed.

"Why aren't you with your other friends, celebrating?" Draco asked.

"Because I've been thinking about something that you told me at the funerals in January." Draco scowled. "No, not that, precicely," Hermione went on. "What did you mean about 'the odds'?"

Draco looked confused for a moment, and then smiled a cold smile. "You don't know, do you?"

"Know what?"

"The odds of giving birth to a Squib. You don't know, and you're wondering." Hermione's blush confirmed his guess. "For all your liberal views, you wouldn't want to give birth to a Squib any more than I would want to sire one."

"No," Hermione admitted. "I would love the child just as much, but I do love the magical world, Draco. Give me credit for that, if nothing else."

"It's good to know you have some sense," Draco replied. "Can you get us to see Dumbledore?"

"He took Harry away after the match."

"Would you trust Professor Snape?"

Hermione thought about that. "If he can back up his claims. I won't believe propaganda."

"Fair enough."

Harry and the Headmaster were well into the woods now. They went on for another ten minutes before coming to a clearing, where Bane was waiting for them. Harry saw there were three dead bodies, filled with arrows, and a long gray tube on the ground.

"Greetings to the one wizard we may almost trust," Bane said. "Greetings also to the one who strives to move the stars onto less likely paths."

Harry said nothing, only nodding. Dumbledore, however, greeted Bane is a very friendly way. "I see you found some things of interest under the stars," he concluded.

"We did, and we thought you might to wish to see the results of the trespass. What is that infernal thing?"

"I am not exactly certain," Dumbledore said, "but it is a Muggle weapon. It is a small, shoulder-held missile launcher. I do not know which type. I take it they were heading towards the Quidditch pitch?"

"At least in that general direction," Bane agreed. "There were six of them. We kept their leader for you. Please dispose of the missile and take the leader away."

"And these? And the other two?" Dumbledore asked.

"The five will make a fine neighborly offering to Aragog and her children. She will not live much longer, and we need to remind her and the Princess of our friendship." Bane smiled nastily. "Perhaps you should consider doing the same."

"I am certain you are correct," Dumbledore said. "I know you did not seize these six for us, but we do thank you, and for leaving the leader for us." Dumbledore bowed.

Bane bowed back, and then looked at Harry. "Do you thank us, Harry Potter?"

"Thank you," Harry said, imitating Dumbledore's bow. "Live in peace."

"I had many doubts you could alter the probable course of fate, Harry Potter. You have not yet succeeded in doing so." He hesitated, and then said, "May you succeed, and live in peace."

Bane gestured, and two young centaurs carried another body into the clearing, this one barely breathing. After dropping it, each centaur took one of the dead bodies back with them. Bane said nothing, but left, dragging the last dead body with him.

"Those other assassins aren't dead yet, are they?" Harry asked.

"I don't know, and I doubt if we would want to know," Dumbledore said.

"Let me guess," Snape said with one of his usual sneers, "Gryffindor is so liberal that no one tells you these facts of magical life."

"I haven't heard about it from any of my friends in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, either," Hermione pointed out.

"Then I think I know of a topic I must raise in the next staff meeting," Snape said coldly. "Very well. There are accurate statistics, drawn from a ten-year study across all of Western Europe in the late 1800s, and supplemented by several studies throughout Europe and North America since then." Snape shook his head, and said, "The statistics are worse than those like the Headmaster had hoped for, but not nearly as bad as many of the old families had claimed."

Snape wrote out a piece of parchment. "This will allow you to get the studies out of the Forbidden Section, so you many verify what I am going to tell you. You will note when you read the forwards that Dumbledore was part of the commissions that studied this."

Snape handed her the permission slip, and gestured for the pair to sit. They did so.

"We still do not know exactly how magic is transmitted," Snape stated. "Yes, it is likely genetic and possibly even trackable through Muggle methods at some point in the future. We aren't there yet. Right now, all we have is the somewhat crude method of statistical data. I presume you know that actuarial data can never really predict what will happen in any particular case?"

"Yes, it only points to the overall average, and can sometimes point out influencing matters."

"Very good. First of all, no matter how Pure-Blooded the family, the odds of any child of that family are one out of sixteen."

"Even the Weasleys?" Hermione asked.

"Even the Weasleys, at least in theory," Snape admitted. "They seem to have beaten the odds, so far. The odds of two pure Muggles producing a true wizard, or witch in your case, seem to be over two thousand to one. However, many so-called Muggle-borns are believed to have Squibs somewhere in their background. And, especially in the past, many children thought to be Muggle-born were actually the result of . . . unsanctioned relationships between wizards and Muggles."

"That would make some sense," Hermione agreed.

"I believe you would better accept this information from the headmaster, and he knows all the details," Snape continued. "I believe he is out of the castle at the moment. Come to the teacher's table after dinner. I know you will be tempted, but do not check those books out until after you discuss it with the headmaster, unless he or I tell you that you may. Understand?"

"Yes, Professor," Hermione said reluctantly.

"May I remind you, I shall know when you use that," Snape said to her, pointing at the slip. "I have not had occasion to ever give you permission to raid the Forbidden Section before. However, do this as I command, and I will be open for granting permissions for specific research requests. In case you did not know, there are books available only to faculty, or to those students who are granted permission by all four Heads of House. I believe the headmaster is going to again suggest we grant you access to some of those works. This is your test, Miss Granger. I cannot be more open than this."

"I appreciate that, Professor. Thank you."

After she left, Malfoy turned to his Head of House. "She's going to be disappointed, isn't she?"

"To a degree. Do not underestimate her, however. She has many failings, but she does value truth above all things."

"Come now, Miss Granger, surely you are not surprised."

"What? Why wouldn't I be surprised to learn that there is some basis to Pure Blood bigotry?"

"I am sorry, Miss Granger. You so often know so much, I had thought you had some knowledge of the Muggle laws of genetics and heredity. Or has your friendship with the always-redheaded Weasleys made you think we were above such laws?"

"You mean the always-redheaded-and-magical Weasleys," Hermione pointed out.


"Ron said that all Weasleys have been magical for a thousand years."

"I assure you that is not true, although I grant you it has been almost six hundred years since a male Squib was born to the Weasleys. Of course, that was also the only non-redheaded Weasley boy on record as well, and so the suspicion is the wife might have been. . . ."

"Been busy outside the house?"

"Exactly. However, while that is an exception, the rare female Weasleys sometimes have different colored hair, and have the same proportion of Squibs as everyone else. There is obviously some sort of enchantment there, although what it is has likely been lost through time."

"In any event," he continued, "the passing on of magical ability generally follows the same genetic laws as any other trait, although we have no idea of exactly how they work. As Professor Snape informed you, all we have are the gross statistics."

"What are they, especially for me?" Hermione asked.

"They are different for you," Dumbledore agreed. "Roughly speaking, for a Squib and a Muggle, they would have a nine out of ten, or .9, chance of having a non-Magical child. Two Squibs would have a seven out of ten, or .7, chance of having a non-Magical child. A. . . ."

"Professor, I can read all that. What are my chances with Harry? What are Luna's?"

Dumbledore sighed. "I believe you know that two Pure Bloods would have a one in sixteen, or a .0625 chance of having a non-Magical child. While Harry had two magical parents, one was Muggle-born. You and Harry would have a one out of six chance of having a non-Magical child, which would be . . . .167. Miss Lovegood and Mister Potter would have about a one in ten chance."


"Exactly. And yet, the Clearwaters and the Creevys, two families as Muggle as Muggles could be, each had all magical children, and the Malfoys, as Pure as any Pure Blooded family in Britain, had two children, and one had no real magic."

"You knew?"

Dumbledore nodded. "Alas, I do know that sad story. Read the studies, Hermione. They proved that the differences between the incidence of Squibs between Pure Bloods and the Muggle-born were only a third what anecdotal evidence claimed. And really, would you disown a non-Magical child?"

"Of course not," Hermione said, "but still, I needed to know. I would think we all should."