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Published: 09/21/2004
Updated: 01/14/2005
Words: 139,369
Chapters: 38
Hits: 79,228

Harry Potter and the Goblin Rebellion


Story Summary:
Year 6 - The goblins are threatening rebellion: Now that Fudge acknowledges Voldemort's return, he is pushing wartime policies, which oppress the goblins. Voldemort is seeking the secret in an ancient Egyptian magical site. Harry is being drawn into these two seemingly-unrelated developments. At the same time, he must train students in the schoolwide DA, while the burden of the Prophecy is filling him with visions, which cause Harry to pull back from his friends. But love has a way of arising whether it is welcome or not. For Harry, the course to resolution is never smooth, but if Harry can thwart Voldemort's plot, he can gain access to the secret which could enable him to use the 'Power the Dark Lord knows not.'

Chapter 31

Chapter Summary:
The DA holds its Spring Skirmish and everyone is pleased with what they learned - except for Marietta's team, which is held out of the battle by Ron. After the injured are removed to the Hospital Wing, Harry confronts Ron about it and they argue. Afterwards Marietta thanks Harry for standing up for her, but then she breaks up with him. Hermione comforts Harry, until Harry's scar tells him that Bill Weasley is being attacked.

Chapter 31 - Skirmish

The day of the Spring Skirmish dawned gray but dry. The excitement was evident throughout the Great Hall during breakfast. The din was irrepressible. All participants gathered at 8:00 a.m. before the front steps as Harry laid out the procedures. Both teams were given a designated area at either end of the grounds as headquarters. The interior of the castle was off-limits, but the various exterior nooks, crannies and cloisters were fair territory. The forest edge was allowed only to ten feet deep; a referee who thought someone was in violation was to fire yellow warning sparks (and as Harry pointed out, this would give away the offender's position, so it would be best to take no chances). No brooms or Apparating was allowed for participants. Only Level 1 and 2 spells were allowed.

Squads were allowed to unhex their members as needed, just as they might in a real battle. In the event of injury preventing further participation, the injured member was to send up red sparks if able, or someone would do it for them if unable. A referee would intervene to evacuate that person, who could not return to the skirmish. Life-threatening injuries would bring on a cease-fire to be signaled by a very loud bang and a purple flare.

Squads were to be awarded 1 point for every member not bearing any injuries when the end was called, an extra point for every member who entirely avoided being hexed or otherwise injured, 50 points for capturing the paddock behind Hagrid's hut (creatures had been removed to safe locations), and 100 points would be awarded if a team captured the opposing headquarters.

The skirmish was to start at 9:00 sharp. The squads were then sent off to their respective headquarters to establish position and set their strategies. The referees, all on riding brooms (both for observational and safety advantages), established pre-arranged positions that allowed them to observe the entire territory, with an emphasis on expected conflict points.

When Harry sent up the green flare to start the Skirmish, neither side could see much of the other's movements out of their headquarters. After about fifteen minutes, Ginny's platoon, part of Ron's squad, emerged from the edge of the Forest and seized the paddock, making great noise and firing many spells, looking for all the world like half of Ron's squad had been committed to an early seizure of the paddock. Ernie hastily gave orders for five of his platoons to counter-attack before the position could be established. The counter-attackers engaged Ginny's platoon, which laid low but fired back fiercely. Suddenly, the counter-attackers found themselves surrounded. Ron had moved several of his platoons behind nearby ridges and hillocks. The counter-attackers found themselves cut off from the rest of their forces, pressed down in a ravine to avoid the spells being fired on them every time one of them showed any part of him- or herself. Ron was able to pin down those five platoons with but two of his own, plus Marietta's platoon, which was assigned to hold the paddock. Then Ron established forward lines along a ridge facing Ernie's headquarters.

As the morning went on, the surrounded platoons tried several times to break out, but their crowding made it difficult for them to use their spells simultaneously, while Ron's forces were positioned to safely fire continuously into the opposing forces. The referees were kept busy evacuating the fallen members of the surrounded platoons and by noon, they had been reduced to only ten survivors.

In the meantime, Ernie saw his squad had no chance unless he could eliminate a large portion of Ron's squad. He had a very strong defensive ridge on his right flank, so he kept two of his remaining platoons there, kept two on the far left flank near the Forest, and then concentrated the remaining firepower on the very center of Ron's squad and ordered an attack to divide Ron's forces. There was a hill with scattered trees in the center, and although nearly a dozen members fell in the attack, they were able to seize that hill. That enabled them to pin down Ron's forces near the Forest and keep them from being reinforced by the half on the opposite side. Ernie kept two platoons on top of the hill to enforce the separation, and sent the rest down the far side of the hill to encircle Ron's troops near the forest. This could have been blocked by Marietta's platoon from the paddock, but Ron gave the signal to hold ground, and instead ordered an immediate attack by four of the forest-side platoons against the forces attempting to surround them. Fierce wand-to-wand combat broke out all along that half of the field, joined by the survivors of the surrounded platoons. Only rarely could the stationary forces on either squad fire into the melee, as there was too great a chance of hitting one's own troops.

It appeared to Ernie that all of Ron's forest-side troops must be involved, so he ordered an attack by his remaining forest-side troops. However, Ron's reserve platoons were ready for them and made short work of them. Rather than enter the melee, Ron sent them to encircle Ernie's right flank troops, who were quickly pinned down in gullies where a single platoon of Ron's squad could contain them. The younger students of the remainder were sent to encircle the hill in the center and the older students were sent to join in the wand-to-wand fighting.

With Ernie's forces outnumbered 3-1, all but those on the hill were eventually jinxed or captured. Even though the predominance of Ron's troops had become so great among those fighting in the openm, the troops on top of the hill could not fire into them, because the troops surrounding them kept firing at the slightest movement on top of the hill. Finally, at 4 p.m., Ernie sent up white surrender sparks. He had less than two dozen troops left and held only the crown of the hill. He was very gracious to Ron in defeat, and Ron had praise for Ernie and his squad as well. However, everyone knew that Ron had seized the opportunity and mastered the situation.

The next several hours were spent on the injured. The referees, along with Harry, Hermione and Marietta, went around the field, unjinxing those they could, stabilizing those that needed immediate assistance, and assigning other students to bring those that needed it up to the Hospital Wing. In the end there had been just about fifty students, mostly from Ernie's squad, who had received such a combination of jinxes that Madam Pomfrey was needed to sort out the problems.

Even among the injured, at least those that were conscious, the enthusiasm was enormous. All the students felt that they had learned a lot about actual fighting and about their own ability to perform in combat. All, that is, except for Marietta's platoon. They had not seen any action. They were not involved in the initial feint to draw out and surround opposing forces at the paddock, and they had been kept at the paddock even when the battle had bypassed that area.

One pair of first-years from Hufflepuff who were in Marietta's team came to Harry, "Coach, we never got into any of the action - did Weasley think we couldn't fight?"

Harry tried to reassure them that they were getting training equal to anyone's, and that Ron just wanted to keep the paddock secure since that was the initial goal of the Skirmish. They said they accepted what he said, but he couldn't tell if what he took for reluctance was really there, or it was his own doubts about the situation.

After the field had been cleared, the uninjured students went to dinner, except the senior DA members who preferred to check on the injured in the Hospital Wing first. Of course, Hermione and Marietta, along with Madam Pomfrey and Mrs. Weasley, were in the thick of providing care, mostly administering potions, either orally or topically. The team leaders visited their own team members first, and then generally visited around. Madam Pomfrey reassured them that as busy as it looked, she'd have them all ready to go by the morning. She gave a nod to Harry and said "I can live with this."

Ginny called Harry over with a smirk on her face. She whispered "Have you noticed Dad over there in the rocker by the fireplace? He almost wrenched his neck when he saw Mum in the healer uniform and he's been sitting there watching her ever since with that goofy grin. She looks over every so often and gives him a smile. Sometimes she even blows him a kiss."

Harry laughed, "I guess she's not making it back to The Burrow tonight."

"Ewww," Ginny said, laughing.

"Oh, you and Ron need to get over it. It's wonderful," said Harry. "Speaking of Ron, did you see where he went?"

"Oh, umm, yeah, over there with Hermione."

"Do you reckon he fancies the healer uniform, too?" teased Harry.

"Ewww! Hex me, Harry, stun me! Obliviate! Anything!" said Ginny with a laugh.

Harry came up to Ron and said quietly, "Can we go outside and talk?"

As they got outside the Hospital Wing, Ron asked, "What's up, Harry?"

"Ron, I'm concerned. You didn't use Marietta's team at all."

"They held the paddock."

"They didn't see any action - we wanted people to get some practice in action."

"I didn't need them. We needed to hold the paddock," replied Ron.

"By the time you had them in place there, you had the upper hand. If the battle shifted so badly that you could have lost the paddock, it already would have been too late."

"I didn't get a chance to put them in," answered Ron.

"In six and a half hours!?" said Harry, "Ron, you nearly got your right flank encircled and Marietta's team could have stopped it. I saw you order them to stay put, while you got most of the rest of your right flank involved in individual combat. Most of the people here are from that part of the battle. I think a few people got so wrapped up in it that they forgot themselves and went to level 3 spells. There could have been lasting injuries!"

"I had to have units I could rely on," said Ron.

"Well, the team members are as good as any other team - wait a second, are you saying you couldn't rely on Marietta?"

"I was concerned that when things got heated, she would waver."

"Ron, I thought we had been through this several times before. She deserves a second chance, but you just won't let up! Besides, what better time is there to find out who you can rely on than when it's a game!?"

"I play certain games to win, Harry," said Ron.

Hermione came out. "Can you two take this elsewhere? We can all hear you in there. It's really not helpful."

"It's okay, Hermione," said Ron, stomping off, "I was just leaving."

Harry watched him leave, looked for a few seconds at Hermione and then went back into the Hospital Wing. There were several others he had not yet visited. When it was over, he sat on the sill of one of the recessed windows thinking. After the ward got quieter, he heard a soft voice behind him.

"Thanks for sticking up for me," said Marietta.

"You heard?"

"Pretty hard not to. I guess everyone will soon know that I have something to live down."

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said it there. I was mad about how he treated you, and also how it was going to affect your team. They have to be confident they're getting proper help."

"I know. Maybe we can do a demonstration for them to show I know my stuff." She took his hand, "But it really touches me that you would stand up to your friend like that for me."

"Oh, well, we'll get past that. We've been through worse. He can be such a bonehead sometimes."

"Good. I'd hate for you to lose a good friend, especially," she paused and then continued, "because of what I have to tell you now."

Harry turned to her, "I don't like the sound of that."

"It won't get better. Harry, I had quite a few hours out there to watch the battle and think. Remember that afternoon when you told me all those stories of the dangers you've faced here? What do they have in common?"

Harry thought a second, "I could have died."

Marietta nodded, "and why do you train so hard?"

Harry looked down, "Because I never know when Voldemort is going to try again to kill me."

Marietta nodded more slowly, "and why were you not at Hogsmeade that day?"

"Because I am so anxious about people trying to kill me that I hex everything around me that moves."

"Harry, none of us has any guarantee that we'll live past the moment we are in now. But the prospects are different for some than for others. If I were a life insurance salesman, I don't think I'd be writing any Harry Potter policies. I love you, Harry. I am ever so grateful for the second chance you gave me, and all the training, and standing up for me, but most importantly for the hours we've spent together. You are the most wonderful person I've ever known, and I'd say that to anyone. I love you, Harry Potter, but I just cannot allow myself to be in love with you. I couldn't bear to see someone killed whom I loved as much as I could easily love you. Watching all that fighting made me realize I couldn't stand to live with that constant fear. I'm not brave like you are. Maybe it's just that I have a choice whether to bear it and you don't. Would you accept living with that fear if you had a choice?"

Harry felt sick to his stomach. "No, I ... maybe. I don't know. I guess I understand what you're saying."

"You don't have to like it," she said softly.

"Well, that's big of you," said Harry bitterly. "So that's it, eh? 'Nice knowing you. Ta-ta. See you around. Don't call me, I'll call you.'?"

"Oh, Harry, I hope not. I hope we're still very special friends. I'll work out with you anytime, or go for walks; we can talk, and spend time together. Just please don't expect there to be a 'just the two of us.' Perhaps when this war is over, or if I become stronger, but I just can't give my heart to someone who attracts so much danger. Please say you understand."

Harry nodded reluctantly and she hugged him. He hugged her back and buried his face in her shoulder. Under his breath, he swore. She pulled him even closer, "I agree."

She pulled away and left. Harry stood there a long time, leaning against the wall with his hands on either side of the window, looking out at nothing in particular, seeing just the blackness he felt.

After a time, he felt a hand on his back. It was Hermione.

"Harry, are you alright?" she asked gently.

"Just dandy."

"No, you're not, Harry. I heard it all. I'm so sorry."

"Well, who can blame her. I've pulled away from everyone I love this whole year thinking I'd save myself some pain. Why should I expect her to do any different? I tried to avoid the pain and couldn't. She has a choice."

"I know. There's no one right here to blame. It's this awful war. The tension is terrible, but sometime sooner or later, it's going to come to open fighting, and we'll look back on this as a happy interval."

"Calmer, maybe. I don't see how this could be happy," said Harry, "Hermione, when is it my chance to love and to live? I tried not to love, but I couldn't make it that way. I don't want to be alone."

She hugged him and he hugged back, putting his head on her shoulder. "You're not alone, Harry. There are people who care very much for you. Not because of what they hope you'll do, but because of who you are."

They stood like that for several minutes. Suddenly Harry started back, pressing his eyes hard shut. He rubbed at his scar. He looked around in a panic.

"Where are they, where are the Weasleys?" he said loudly.

Hermione looked around as well. Madame Pomfrey had heard him ask and said, "They left together ten minutes ago."

Harry ran for the door and yelled, "Get them! All the Weasleys. To the dorm. Bill's in big trouble. The site's going to be destroyed! I'll tell Dumbledore!"

With that, Harry was gone out the door, with Hermione only a few steps behind headed to the dungeons.