Kafli 6
Harry was sorry to say goodbye to the Burrow. Some of the happiest days of his life had just taken place there. Everything had been so wonderful, he doubted even that returning to Hogwarts, which had always been something he had looked forward to, could measure up this year. His only consolation was that Ginny and all of his friends were making the trip with him.

Harry sat in the compartment on the Hogwarts Express next to Ginny. They were listening along with Ron and Neville as Hermione told all about her summer travels through Europe with her parents. Harry had to admit that slipping back into his life as a student was being made much smoother the longer he sat there among his friends. He had little doubt that the fact that he was holding Ginny’s hand, and feeling wonderful for it, helped immensely in that area.

“So how long has all of this been going on between you all?” Neville asked. “You go away for one summer, and when you come back you’ve started dating.”

“Actually,” Hermione said, “only a few days since it became official. Even though we didn’t plan it, Harry and Ginny started dating on the same night as Ron and I.”

“Sometimes the stars just line up that way I guess,” Neville said.

“So,” Ron said, “is there anyone you have your eye on the next time the stars line up Neville?”

Neville’s only answer was a shy smile as he looked down at the floor to avoid everyone’s eyes.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Ron said. “Come on Neville, who is it?”

“Ron,” Ginny said. “Leave him alone. No one forced you to shout out your feelings for Hermione did they.”

“Of course, Ron had it written all over his face,” Harry said with a smile. “Everyone else knew it even if he wasn’t ready to admit it.”

Neville shocked everyone when he said, “If you all promise not to tell, I guess I can trust you not to laugh.”

“Of course we won’t laugh,” Ginny said looking around and confirming with everyone that she spoke for them all.

“Alright,” Neville said hesitantly. “Its Luna.”

“Luna Lovegood?” Harry asked.

“I knew I never should have said anything,” Neville said as his cheeks reddened even more than they had already.

“No,” Harry said, “don’t take me wrong, Neville. “I think Luna is a great girl. There are a lot of people who don’t bother to look past her quirks to see what a smart and caring girl she is. I’m glad you’re one of them.”

“I guess we all have our quirks,” Neville said. “I know I have a few myself. Maybe that’s why, when I look at her, all I can see is how beautiful she is.”

“Take my advice, Neville,” Ron said. “Don’t wait too long like Harry and I did to say something to her. If you wait a month to tell her, and she says yes, you’ll always look back at that month and regret every second you wasted.”

“Well, hasn’t Ron turned into the romantic one,” Ginny said teasing.

Ron never had time to respond as they all froze for a moment when Luna Lovegood walked up and opened the compartment door.

“Sorry to bother you all,” Luna said smoothly, “but I was sitting in the compartment next door and had the sudden feeling that someone in here needed me.”

They all waited as they wondered if she really did get a feeling, or if the walls between compartments were thinner than they had thought. There was an awkward silence that none of them knew quite how to break.

“I… I…” Neville stammered surprising everyone, “I have something… I need to ask you.”

“Of course, Neville,” Luna said as she looked at him.

They all watched as he melted under her gaze, and they thought he was going to back out of it.

“Why don’t we take a walk,” Neville finally said as he stood on shaky legs and crossed to the passageway with her.

When they had walked too far for anyone in the compartment to see them, Ginny said, “I can’t believe it. He was backed into a corner, and instead of retreating he went on the attack. I didn’t think he had it in him.”

“I’m betting you’ll see a different, Neville after today,” Harry said. “I think we just watched him jump one of the biggest huddles he’s ever faced. If she says yes it will really boost his confidence.”

“That is all Neville has ever needed,” Hermione said. “He would be a great wizard if he just had a little confidence in his abilities.”

“Uh oh,” Ron said looking to the passageway. “Look who’s coming now.”

They all had a suspicion of who it might be before they ever looked. Their suspicions were confirmed as they watched Draco Malfoy and his two goons stop at their open door and sneer.

“Well,” Malfoy said, “look what we have here. Potter and his little fan club are returning to Hogwarts. I had a bet that you wouldn’t even bother coming back this year Potter, what with a battle you can’t win quickly approaching.”

“I’ll be sure to save you a front row seat, Malfoy,” Harry said as calmly as he could. “Maybe after I fight Voldemort you would like to have a go at me.”

“As if there would be anything left of you, Potter,” Malfoy said as he looked down and suddenly saw that Harry was holding Ginny’s hand. “I should have guessed you would end up with her, Potter. After you’re gone, I’ll…”

Malfoy suddenly stopped speaking as Harry flipped an invisible switch in his mind.

“You won’t do anything,” Harry said.

“I won’t do anything,” Malfoy repeated.

“Ginny is a beautiful woman that any man would be lucky to have,” Harry said.

“Ginny is a beautiful woman that any man would be lucky to have,” Malfoy repeated.

“Except for you because you’re a stupid git,” Harry said.

“Except for me because I’m a stupid git,” Malfoy repeated.

“Now go and tell everyone on the train what a git you are,” Harry said.

Malfoy turned to Crabbe and Goyle and said, “I’m a big git.”

They all watched as Malfoy turned and moved to the next compartment and repeated himself.

“Harry,” Hermione said. “What on earth did you do to him?”

“A weak mind is easy prey,” Harry said. “I think that will be the first lesson for the D.A. this year.”

“Wow,” Ron said. “You are a dangerous man, Harry Potter. Voldemort had better watch out.”

Harry was just about to respond to Ron when something else caught their eye. Neville was coming back up the passageway wearing a big smile, and a positively glowing Luna Lovegood was on his arm.
Kafli 7
Harry sat next to Ginny at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall as the sorting of the first years took place as it always had. There had been several new additions to all of the houses already, and everyone was wondering where the last first year would be placed.

Professor McGonagall stood holding the sorting hat while she looked down to her list and said, “Vivian Wexler.”

The last remaining girl walked up and sat on the stool. The sorting hat was placed on her head and it was only a few seconds later when everyone heard the sorting hat proclaim that Vivian was to be a Hufflepuff. Vivian jumped up and walked smiling to the Hufflepuff table to a chorus of applause from her house.

What everyone was expecting to see next was for McGonagall to remove the sorting hat and the stool so that Dumbledore could begin the opening feast in his usual manner. What they were not expecting was for McGonagall to set the hat back on the stool, walk back up the center isle and out of the Great Hall.

Questioning murmurs had erupted all over the Great Hall before she had even made half of the trip to the doors. The murmurs continued until Professor Dumbledore stood and cleared his throat, returning attention to the front of the Hall.

“No doubt,” Professor Dumbledore began, “you have all noticed that things are not proceeding as usual. We have some special circumstances this year that need us to allow for some changes. First, let me introduce to you Professor Bryce Bane, who will be acting as your Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for the year.”

At that point an elderly looking man sitting at the teacher’s table rose and gave a small wave to the students before retaking his seat.

“Professor Bane,” Dumbledore continued, “is here during a sabbatical from The Salem School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in America.”

“America?” Ron whispered to his friends around him. “I never even thought about there being a school in America.”

“There are two actually,” Hermione whispered in answer. “There is one on each coast of the United States. The one in Salem is the oldest.”

“Now that Professor Bane’s introduction is taken care of,” Dumbledore said, “this would usually be the time when we would begin the feast. Before we do that though, there is one more sorting to be done.

“It is my great pleasure to inform you that, for the first time in its history, Hogwarts has accepted a transfer student from another school. A transfer from the very school from which Professor Bane comes to us as a matter of fact. The student is in the last year of study, so some time of adjustment may be needed.

“At this time I think it is necessary for me to tell you the circumstances that have brought this student to us, since I’m sure it would become a matter of rumor soon anyway. Up until this last year, there was a dark wizard in America named Jarvis Hornquist who terrorized the wizarding communities on the eastern coast of the country. I say last year, because at the end of the last school year, he came across a young student who proved too powerful for him when they dueled. As you might imagine, the fame that resulted for the student made returning for another year at the school impossible. It is my hope that the students of Hogwarts will make every effort to welcome the new student with treatment no different than they would give to any other student. The special sorting ceremony will now begin.”

“Dueling dark wizards,” Ron said. “He must be a really tough guy. It sounds like a Gryffindor if I ever heard of one.”

It was at that moment that Professor McGonagall opened the door to the Great Hall and began walking back up the center isle. The new student followed close behind her, and every jaw in the Great Hall dropped at the sight.

They had all conjured a picture of the wizard who had battled and defeated such a powerful enemy, but what they saw walking up the isle, was as far from what they were expecting as it could be. The wizard turned out to be a tall well tanned witch with flowing blonde hair that looked as if she had been pulled straight off of the beach and thrown into a Hogwarts uniform.

The young witch held the eye of everyone in the Great Hall as she walked, but acknowledged none of them as she stared straight at McGonagall’s back as she glided up the isle. Her focus never wavered until she turned her head slightly and looked straight into Harry’s eyes as she passed where he was sitting.

Harry had been surprised that she had looked over at him, but the thing that really disturbed him was the shiver that ran down his spine when he saw the look in her eyes. He didn’t know if the feeling was some kind of warning or not, but he knew that it wasn’t a good feeling.

Professor McGonagall reached the steps and raised the sorting hat once more as she said, “Cassidy Silverwood.”

The young witch stepped forward and took a seat on the stool. Professor McGonagall placed the sorting hat on her head, and everyone waited to hear the sorting hat’s decision.

“I tell you it’s a sure thing,” Ron whispered. “She’s going to be a Gryffindor.”

Still remembering the feeling he had when she looked at him, Harry said, “Don’t be too sure of that. I have a funny feeling…”

“Slytherin,” the sorting hat announced, causing the Slytherin table to erupt in cheers.

Cassidy Silverwood stood up and moved to the empty seat at the Slytherin table, which just happened to be next to Malfoy. As they watched her walk to the table, Harry saw something out of the corner of his eye. When he looked up to the teacher’s table, he noticed that Snape was looking right at him, and he had a rare grin on his face.

Professor Dumbledore stood once again and said, “Now that we have welcomed Miss Silverwood into our school, let the feast begin.”

Dumbledore waved his hand, and as expected, a mountain of food appeared along every table. The first years, were in awe at the surprise, but everyone else set right in to discussing what they thought of their new student.

“I think the sorting hat might have made a mistake,” Neville said.

“Don’t be too sure, Neville,” Harry said. “Remember that the sorting hat nearly put me in Slytherin.”

“How can she fight dark wizards and still be in Slytherin?” Ron asked.

“She may not be overtly evil like Malfoy and some of the others,” Harry warned, “but the sorting hat always has reasons for making the choices it does. Just don’t drop your guard until you know what those reasons are.”

Ginny nudged Harry in the ribs and motioned for him to look at something. What he saw was that Cassidy had gotten up from the Slytherin table and every head was once again fixed on her as she walked in the direction of the Gryffindor table. Harry tried to ignore it and made the others stop watching as well.

Harry didn’t have any choice but to take notice as Cassidy stopped right behind him and cleared her throat softly as she said, “I don’t mean to interrupt, but are you Harry Potter?”

“Yes, I am,” Harry said as he turned in his seat and looked up at her questioningly.

“I’m Cassidy Silverwood,” she said as she extended her hand, which Harry accepted in a gentle handshake. “I really can’t believe I’m getting to meet you in person. All of my friends back in America have your picture posted all over their walls.”

“What?” Harry asked, not sure he had heard her right. “What pictures?”

“Well, the ones from the paper,” Cassidy responded. “Even in America, a person can’t go a month without reading a story about something to do with you. People are hoping you’ll defeat Voldemort and keep him from spreading his evil overseas.”

“I would warn you that some people in this country aren’t very comfortable hearing Voldemort’s name said out loud,” Harry said.

“I know,” Cassidy said. “There are plenty of people in my country who believe the same garbage and call him He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. As if the name itself could hurt anyone.”

“Congratulations on your defeat of Hornquist,” Harry said.

“Oh, thanks,” Cassidy said. “He wasn’t nearly as powerful as Voldemort though. It will take a special wizard to defeat him.”

“Or just a dedicated group of friends,” Harry said as he motioned to those around him. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. Let me introduce you.”

Harry began introducing all of his friends, as well as some others who nudged closer to get in on the discussion. The last person Harry came to introducing was Ginny.

“And last, but by no means the least, my girlfriend Ginny,” Harry said.

Cassidy reached her hand out to shake Ginny’s as she said, “You have no idea how many hearts you just broke back in America. My friends are going to cry for days when they find out Harry Potter has a girlfriend. As if he was going to sweep out of the sky on his broom and carry them off with him anyway. Well, I had better get back to my own house table before they send out a search party for me. It was nice to meet you all.”

After she had walked a safe distance away, Neville said, “I still say they made a mistake putting her in Slytherin. When was the last time a Slytherin was that nice to anyone?”

“Don’t be fooled by that sweet smile she puts on,” Harry said. “Something still bothers me about her. It’s something deep inside, and likely the thing that made the sorting hat put her in Slytherin in the first place.”

Kafli 8
The Gryffindor and Ravenclaw seventh years sat in their Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom waiting for their first class of the new school year to begin. They were all anxious to see what kind of teacher Professor Bane would be. They had gone through other teachers of the class in the past, and while some were fairly good, others provided an experience they would rather forget. They were all wondering how an American would stack up against the rest who had preceded him.

Professor Bane walked through the doors of the classroom, moving slowly and looking labored in his effort as he made his way to the front of the class.

As he got to the front, he turned and said, “You will all have to forgive me if I seem out of breath. I’m afraid I spent a bit too long chatting with the other teachers, and left too little time for a man of my age to climb the several sets of stairs to get to the room.”

“Professor,” Seamus began, “wouldn’t it have been easier to levitate yourself up the stairs?”

“That it would, Mr. Finnigan,” Bane said still trying to catch his breath. “However, when I reach the day when I take the easy way out of something, that will be the day I need to lay down in bed and not get out of it. There are many things in life that are hard to do, but that does not mean that we should not do them. If I’m not mistaken, that is the whole point of this class.”

“Sorry, Professor,” Seamus said.

“Don’t be sorry,” Bane said reaching a shaking hand into his robes as if he was massaging his chest. “Chalk it up as your first lesson in this class.”

The class didn’t have a chance to react as the feeble old man suddenly and swiftly pulled his wand out of his robes and sent a stunning charm out that hit the entire class before they knew what was happening. They all felt themselves go numb and slide out of their chairs to the floor having no control over their own bodies. The numbness passed a few seconds later and they all began to stand up and get back in their seats. What they saw when they got up was that the spell hadn’t affected quite everyone.

“Mr. Potter,” Bane began, suddenly breathing normally and standing up straighter, “you are the only one of your classmates that was not affected by the spell I cast. How do you explain that?”

“I had cast a shield charm around myself as soon as you came into the room, Professor,” Harry answered.

“Remarkable,” Bane said impressed. “I have done that same trick at the beginning of every one of the seventh year classes I have taught since I began teaching. Not once has anyone escaped it. How did you know I was going to do it?”

“I didn’t,” Harry said. “It was just a precaution in the event something happened.”

“Wonderful,” Bane said with a smile on his face. “Let that be a lesson to you all. A person who practices the dark arts is likely to be a very cunning individual, and use trickery to weaken your response ability. You all watched me walk in the classroom acting as if I was a feeble old man. I slowed my pace and quickened my breath in order to gain your sympathy. You all sat there and watched while I reached into my robes and took hold of my wand, and yet all you saw was an old man who could drop dead at any moment. Do you know why they were so easily fooled, Mr. Potter?”

“Because they trusted you, as a Hogwarts teacher, not to harm them,” Harry said.

“Yet you did not,” Bane said.

“I’ve learned not to trust anyone until you get to know them,” Harry said.

“Sound advice,” Bane said still smiling. “I hope some day I will be able to earn your trust then.”

“Outside of this class you already have, Professor,” Harry said. “Inside of this class, not a chance.”

“Ah,” Bane said chuckling, “wisdom beyond your years.”

“Are you going to stun us every day like that, Professor?” Dean asked.

“Goodness no, Mr. Thomas,” Bane responded. “I only stun everyone at the beginning of class on the first day. I won’t do it again.”

Just the same, most of the class took the trouble to cast a shield charm around themselves anyway. They didn’t have any idea what the American professor might have up his sleeve next.

Professor Bane went on to explain to them the kinds of things he was planning on teaching them during the year. Having looked back over the lesson plans of his predecessors, he found them to be somewhat chaotic. He told them that with a few well planned lessons he felt that he would be able to fill in the gaps where they had fallen behind as well as teach them all of the things that were expected from a seventh year student.

“If there is time,” Professor Bane said, “I would like to teach you all an all but forgotten form of magic that I always try to teach to my students back in America. In fact, I am one of only three know people in America that know how to use the craft properly. How many of you have ever heard of circle magic?”

To no one’s surprise, Hermione’s hand shot up instantly, but what they were amazed to find was that Harry’s hand went up almost as quickly.

“Well,” Bane said, “the surprises never stop around here. I didn’t think any of you would have heard of it at all. I believe your hand was up first, Miss Granger.”

“I read once,” Hermione began as she usually did, “that a magic circle could be used as a protection for anyone who stood inside it. They fell out of favor though, because they were complicated and took a great deal of time to draw out, therefore making them impractical to use against a much faster wand spell.”

“Quite true,” Bane said. “Is there anything you can add to that Mr. Potter?”

“The circle can also be used to amplify the power of a wand spell, or conjure other forces outside of the circle to help battle an enemy,” Harry said.

“Very good,” Bane said actually sounding impressed that they knew so much. “Unfortunately, what Miss Granger said is true. Drawing the circle is very complicated and time consuming, and not of much practical use in a real time battle.”

“Wasn’t an American wizard in the nineteenth century working on a way to conjure a circle using a wand spell?” Harry asked.

Bane just sat there for a moment wondering just how much Harry knew about circles before he said, “It is true that some have tried, but none have ever been successful.”

“But I have,” Harry said.

Every eye in the class turned to Harry half expecting to hear that it was a joke, but Harry just sat and looked calmly back into the eyes of Professor Bane.

“That is quite a boast, Mr. Potter,” Bane said not sure if he should be proud of him for his nerve or scold him for his impudence. “Would you like to demonstrate that for the class?”

Harry got up without saying a word and walked to the front of the class, took out his wand and held it upright in the center of his chest as he softly said, “Valaya atra saikata.”

They all watched as Harry pointed his wand at the floor and a sandy substance spewed out, arranging itself around him in two neat circles. One of the circles formed a few inches inside of the other, and between them was some kind of writing that none of them recognized. Everyone, including Professor Bane, was speechless as they studied the strange writing and thought about the words that brought them forth.

After taking a few seconds to recover, Bane said, “Extraordinary, Mr. Potter. I have to admit that I am not familiar with the language written in the circle.”

“Sanskrit,” Harry said.

“Of course further tests will have to be conducted to determine if this circle would actually protect a person who was standing inside of it,” Bane said still not able to take his eyes off of the circle.

“Go ahead and test it now if you like,” Harry said.

“I am reluctant to try it, Mr. Potter,” Bane said looking at him for the first time since the circle was conjured. “If it is not properly formed, then you could be seriously injured.”

Harry just grinned as he said, “Don’t worry, Professor. A simple stunning spell won’t do any permanent damage even if it did get through.”

“If you are sure you don’t mind, Mr. Potter,” Bane said as he pulled out his wand.

Harry nodded to Professor Bane that he was ready, and Bane sent a stunning spell directly at him. An instant later there was a small flash as the spell hit something before it reached Harry, and the energy of the spell dissipated around Harry. The circles glowed a fire red for only a few seconds before returning to their original sandy color.

“Nivarta,” Harry said pointing his wand at the ground once more as the sand flew back to where it had come from.

“How long have you known how to do this,” Bane asked.

“Only a couple of months,” Harry responded.

“But Harry,” Hermione said, “that would mean that you did it in the summer when you weren’t supposed to do magic. How in the world did you manage it?”

“I’ll tell you later,” Harry said.

“We seem to be getting that quite a lot lately,” Ron said.

“I think what we have seen here today, class,” Bane began, “is something monumental in the world of magic. I’m not quite used to this house point system you use here since we don’t use it in America, but I think some are definitely in order. Do you think fifty would be too many?”

Not surprisingly, the Gryfindors in the class seemed to be alright with that number. Their first class couldn’t have started off better as far as they were concerned.

“Very well then,” Bane said, “fifty it is then. I think I need to send a few owls to some colleagues in America, so I hope you will all forgive me if I let class out a bit early today. Please read the first two chapters in your book for the next class.”

Everyone got up and turned to walk for the door. A few seconds later, all but three of them found themselves lying numbly on the floor. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked back to see what had happened.

“I thought you said you weren’t going to stun us any more, Professor,” Seamus said.

“On the contrary Mr. Finnigan,” Bane answered. “I said I wouldn’t do it at the beginning of class. I never said anything about the end.”

Kafli 9
Since the Defense Against the Dark Arts class was cut so short, Harry had plenty of time on his hands to do whatever he wanted. Hermione and Ron were both intent on pressing him for an answer to what he had been doing during the summer, but he shook them off by telling them he would tell them everything later. They weren’t going to let him off that easy, but he promised them he would tell them everything later that night after dinner.

Hermione had taken off for the library to get in a bit of pre-class studying, and Ron went along with her just because he couldn’t come up with a good excuse not to. Harry though had as good of an excuse as any love struck boyfriend could. He was going to sit outside the potions classroom where Ginny was currently imprisoned, just in case Snape decided to let them out early. They all knew that was a hopeless cause, but Harry was all right with just being that much closer to Ginny.

Snape stayed true to form though, letting the class out at least five minutes late. Ginny emerged from the class in what Harry could tell to be a barely controlled temper. She turned and caught sight of him leaning against the wall though, and her anger seemed to fade almost instantly.

“Don’t tell me he kept us that late,” Ginny said. “How did you manage to get here from your class so quick?”

“We got out early,” Harry said still wondering what had made Ginny so angry. “How was potions? Any problems?”

“Not in the first three seconds,” Ginny said, some of the temper returning. “After that was barely tolerable though.”

“What happened?” Harry asked.

Ginny started to tell him everything, but caught herself in time to ask, “Don’t you have potions next?”

“Yes,” Harry answered.

“I should probably wait until later to tell you then,” Ginny said. “Gryffindor can’t afford to have that many points taken off on the first day.”

“Oh he wouldn’t,” Harry said getting a hint of what it could be. “It was me wasn’t it? He picked on you during the entire class just because you’re dating me.”

Ginny was afraid to say anything one way or the other. If she denied it, Harry would know she was lying. If she confirmed it, she was afraid, seeing the look in Harry’s eyes, of what might happen.

“I thought as much,” Harry said fuming already. “I’ll deal with it.”

“Harry don’t,” Ginny said. “That’s what he wants. Don’t you know that? I can handle Snape on my own. You just worry about brewing your potions right and not letting your temper control you.”

Harry realized that she was right. The anger and hostility that Voldemort had put into him was threatening to take control of his actions. Harry forced himself to calm as he had in countless meditation sessions over the summer. He had only to concentrate on Ginny’s eyes to lose himself in an ocean of tranquility.

Once his breathing had returned to normal, Harry said, “You’re right. What would I do without you?”

“I hope you won’t have to find that out any time soon,” Ginny said with a smile as she leaned in and kissed him gently.

Harry and Ginny were just parting when Cassidy walked up and said, “Hi Ginny. Hi Harry.”

“Hi Cassidy,” they both responded together.

“I am in the right place for potions aren’t I?” Cassidy asked looking at the door to the classroom.

“This is it alright,” Harry said.

“So how is Professor Snape as a teacher?” Cassidy asked.

“I’m probably not the one to ask,” Harry said. “We usually don’t get along too well.”

“Not get along with you?” Cassidy asked. “He must be awful then.”

“I had better be getting to my next class or I’ll be late,” Ginny said not wanting to elaborate on Cassidy’s observation. “I’ll see you for lunch, Harry.”

“I’ll be there,” Harry said not wanting to let her go.

“It was good to see you again, Ginny,” Cassidy said a bit too sweetly for Ginny’s comfort.

“You too,” Ginny said as she turned to go.

“She seems like a great girl,” Cassidy said.

“The best,” Harry said still lost in watching Ginny walk down the hall.

“Shall we go in then?” Cassidy asked.

“Sure,” Harry said forcing his attention away from Ginny.

There were only a couple of other students in the classroom by the time they entered. Harry knew that Ron and Hermione would soon be joining him. He also knew that it wouldn’t do any good for him to take a seat in the back. Snape would seek him out no matter if he sat in the hallway.

“Are there any kind of assigned seats in this class?” Cassidy asked.

“No,” Harry said. “Not unless Professor Snape decided to change things this year.”

“Would you mind if I sat with you then?” Cassidy asked. “I don’t really know anyone else very well yet.”

“I don’t mind,” Harry said. “It will be a first in this class though. Gryffindors and Slytherin usually don’t mix much.”

“I think it’s awful,” Cassidy began, “the way they split you into these houses and create a natural competition between you.”

“I guess I never really thought about it any other way,” Harry said. “You don’t have houses at your school in America?”

“No,” Cassidy answered. “They go out of their way to promote cooperation between all of the students. Don’t any of the houses here ever mix together?”

“Sure,” Harry said. “Three of them anyway.”

“Just not Slytherin I take it,” Cassidy said.

“I think this is the longest conversation I’ve had with a Slytherin since I’ve been here at Hogwarts,” Harry said.

“Oh,” Cassidy said, “that is so wrong. I can’t let that last for long. People who never step outside their own house miss the rest of the world.”

“You’ll find quite a bit of resistance to that,” Harry said, “especially in your own house.”

“Hey Harry,” Ron said from behind them.

Harry turned to see Ron and Hermione standing there seeming a bit confused to see a Slytherin sitting with him.

“I know,” Cassidy said to them. “Harry told me that Gryffindor and Slytherin don't ever mix, but you all are the only ones I’ve really been able to feel comfortable with so far. If you're too uncomfortable with my sitting here though, I’ll move somewhere else.”

“Of course not,” Hermione said. “It was just a bit of a shock to see it at first.”

“I can’t wait to see how Snape reacts,” Ron said with a grin.

“He’ll probably find some way to blame Harry for it and take points away from Gryffindor again,” Hermione said.

“Does he really do it that often?” Cassidy asked.

“I don’t think there has been a class yet where Snape didn’t take at least ten points away from Harry,” Ron said. “Gryffindor loses more points in potions class since Harry got here than it does in any other class or at any other time during the school year.”

“Except of course when Snape is patrolling the hallways,” Hermione added.

“Incredible,” Cassidy said. “Why does he do that to Harry?”

“He hates my dad,” Harry said.

“But I thought your dad was killed,” Cassidy said.

“He was,” Harry said. “Snape never got to take his anger out on him, so he has to settle for taking it out on me.”

“How thick do you have to be, Potter,” Malfoy said as he walked into the classroom and spotted Harry. “Why do you even bother taking a potions class?”

Cassidy turned around and Malfoy realized for the first time where she was sitting. She leveled a glare at him that was enough to silence him immediately, and made him take a seat on the other side of the room.

“I still say the sorting hat made a mistake,” Ron said.

“Maybe it just isn’t used to examining an American brain,” Cassidy said with a smile. “It doesn’t matter to me what house I’m in though. I make friends with whom ever I please.”

Snape suddenly entered the room out of his adjoining office and waved his wand to close and lock the doors at the back of the room.

“As you can see,” Snape said in his usual stern manner, “doors to the class will be locked at the exact time class is to begin every day. Anyone not inside by then will miss the class and points will be deducted from your final grade. Snape looked over at Harry when he mentioned it and the scowl on his face seemed to drop, if possible, even further when he saw who was sitting with him.

After a moment taken to recover from the initial shock, Snape looked right at Harry and said, “Well, Potter, you seem to be doing a better job of picking your friends. Miss Silverwood may prove to be a good influence on you. You should warn her though that you tend to drag your friends down with you in this class.”

“I think she should be fine since I’m not dating her, Professor Snape,” Harry said pointedly wondering if Snape would take the bait.

“Careful, Potter,” Snape seethed. “Disrespectful insinuations could be grounds for taking points. I would hate for that to happen. Just to show you how much I want you to earn points in this class, a little quiz perhaps. Answer the questions correctly and Gryffindor will earn points. Give the wrong answer and you will lose points. Would you like to try, Potter?”

“Professor Snape, I don’t think that is…” Cassidy began to say.

“I will warn you only once Miss Silverwood,” Snape said cutting her off, “ you speak only when asked to in this class. I will overlook it this time since you are new to the school and don’t know the rules as well as everyone else.”

“I’ll do it,” Harry said calmly.

“Harry, don’t,” Hermione said.

“That is five points from Gryffindor, Miss Granger,” Snape said with a smile of satisfaction. “You have been here long enough to know the rules.”

“We’ll get them back soon enough,” Harry said. “Five points per question? Or would you like to raise the stakes a bit?”

“What did you have in mind?” Snape said intrigued.

“Five questions,” Harry said. “Each one worth, say, twenty points?”

“You must have lost your mind over the summer, Potter,” Snape said smiling as Hermione and Ron had to bite their tongues to keep from saying the same thing to Harry . “You would throw away one hundred points that easily?”

“Or gain them that easily,” Harry said. “That isn’t all I want in return though. If I get the questions right, then you can’t turn around and take them back away at any point during the day. If you do take points away, they have to come from your own house.”

“And when you lose?” Snape asked.

“Then you can take as many other points from Gryffindor as you feel are necessary,” Harry answered

All of the Gryffindors in the class didn’t know if they wanted to cheer Harry for standing up to Snape, or beat him to within an inch of his life for even opening his mouth.

“And the questions?” Snape asked seeming like a man who was anxious to make the kill.

“Can be about the magical uses or properties of any potion ingredient,” Harry said.

“Fool,” Snape spat, “you should have at least limited it to ingredients we have covered in class.”

“I only have one more condition,” Harry said. “From now on, if you have a problem with me you take it up with me, not my girlfriend.”

Snape was so beside himself with joy at the opportunity Harry had laid before him, he would have agreed to almost anything if it meant bringing the famous Harry Potter down a few notches.

“Agreed,” Snape said with a sadistic grin as he wrapped his robes about him. “Dicentra spectabilis.”

“One of the main ingredients in several love potions,” Harry said immediately astonishing everyone, “though it is rarely used since it’s effects are more temporary than some other more trusted ingredients.”

Snape was surprised, but not wanting to show any signs of being flustered said, “Farsera speciosa.”

“Minor ingredient in a potion used during meditations to help focus thought,” Harry said.

“Bloodwort,” Snap said.

“A resin that can be combined with other more minor ingredients and burned to drive away evil and negativity,” Harry said.

“Inula dysenterica,” Snape said through gritted teeth.

“Used in a potion to drive out possessive spirits in exorcisms,” Harry said.

“Quickbane,” Snape forced out.

Harry paused for a moment to give Snape some hope that he may not know the answer before he said, “Reduces the influence of outside stimuli on mental processes, therefore it is used as one of the main ingredients in a potion helping werewolves resist transformation during the full moon.”

Snape was so livid he could barely see straight much less teach a class, so he turned and began walking toward his office. He waved his wand at the doors he had locked and they flew open as he said, “Class dismissed.”

“I think you forgot something, Professor,” Harry said. “I believe you have some points to award.”

Everyone in the room was sure that Snape was going to turn around and hex Harry. They all waited as Snape stood motionless with is back to them just outside his office door.

“One hundred points to Gryffindor,” Snape finally said grudgingly just before he slammed his office door behind him.

The entire class was so stunned by what had just happened that not one of them other than Harry began to stand up. They all looked at him and saw that he had a small grin on his face. He was acting like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

Harry gathered all of his things and turned to Ron and Hermione and said, “I’ll see you all at lunch. I’m going to go and wait for Ginny to get out of her class.”

They all just stared as Harry walked out of the classroom. They could swear they heard him humming to himself as he walked down the hallway outside.

Kafli 10
As Harry left the Potions classroom, he felt a great sense of satisfaction with himself. He had endured six years of harassment from Snape, and for the first time he felt that he had finally dealt a blow for his side. More importantly, he had done it without having his heart rate increase even one beat, and had not pulled his wand out to give Snape the hexing he had dreamed of giving him for years.

Harry was so pleased with himself, and realizing that he had even more time to waste than he had after his first class, that he got an idea while on his way to the transfiguration classroom. Instead of going straight there, he took a detour to a place where most Hogwarts students never even thought of going.

Harry stepped through the entrance and saw a flurry of activity that he was hesitant to interrupt. He was on the verge of changing his mind and turning back when a shrill cry of joy stopped him.

“Harry Potter, sir!” Dobby said as he spotted Harry and immediately stopped what he was doing to walk over and greet Harry.

“Hello, Dobby,” Harry said. “I hope you’re well.”

“Dobby is so lucky to have someone like the noble Harry Potter to care how he is doing,” Dobby said. “Dobby is doing quite well here at Hogwarts thanks to his friend Harry Potter.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Harry said.

“Is there something that Harry Potter needs that Dobby can do for him?” Dobby asked hopefully.

“Actually,” Harry said with a smile, “there is something I would like if it’s possible.”

Ginny walked out of the Transfiguration classroom and was stopped in her tracks as she noticed Harry leaning against the wall just like he had been when she got out of Potions.

“Oh no, Harry,” Ginny said concerned. “You didn’t get yourself kicked out of Potions did you?”

“No,” Harry said walking over to her. “Actually, Snape let class out early.”

“Early?” Ginny asked not believing that she had heard him right.

“Yep,” Harry said as he leaned over and gave her a kiss.

“But Snape never…” Ginny protested after Harry had broken the kiss.

“Let’s not talk about Snape anymore,” Harry said. “It’s such a beautiful day, I thought you might like to take a walk down by the lake.”

Ginny stood back and looked at Harry trying to determine if he was being serious or not before she said, “You would rather take a walk by the lake instead of eating lunch.”

“There’s plenty of time,” Harry said.

Ginny hesitated, but realized she couldn’t say no to him if she tried, and said, “Alright, but it’ll be your head if I don’t get to eat lunch.”

Harry smiled as he stuck out his arm for Ginny. She put her arm in his and they walked leisurely down the hallway toward the nearest exit to the grounds. They walked down to the lake and watched the ripples on the water roll in to the shore.

Harry turned toward Ginny and gave her a long tender kiss, and as he broke away he said softly, “I can’t tell you how much I wish this moment wouldn’t end. I have everything I need right here.”

“I agree with you in part, Harry,” Ginny said, making Harry look questioningly at her. “I have everything I need, except lunch. I’m starving.”

“Patience, love,” Harry said. “I have everything under control.”

Just then Ginny looked beside them as a blanket appeared with a full spread of picnic food arrayed on top of it.

“Lunch is served, My Lady,” Harry said with a slight bow.

“How did you do this?” Ginny asked amazed.

“Well,” Harry said, “I happen to have some very influential friends in the kitchens around here.”

“A good thing for you,” Ginny said. “Any longer and you would have been standing here on your own while I went to get some lunch.”

“Then by all means,” Harry said, “let’s eat.”

Harry and Ginny sat down and ate happily together. When they had both eaten their fill, Harry laid his head in Ginny’s lap and let her attempt to smooth down his unruly hair.

“It’s really going to be strange around here next year,” Ginny said half to herself.

“What do you mean?” Harry asked.

“Well,” Ginny began, “you will have graduated, but I’ll be stuck here for another year without you.”

“I guess I never thought about that,” Harry said as he sat up wondering why that never occurred to him.

“You’ll go off to continue your training as an auror,” Ginny said, “and I’ll be sitting here by the lake longing to relive this moment.”

“Well maybe I could get a job in Hogsmead,” Harry said thinking out loud. “That way we would at least see each other on Hogsmead weekends.”

“But you’ve wanted to be an auror for years now,” Ginny said. “I don’t want you to give that up just because we’ll have to spend time apart. It would hurt me more to know that I was the thing that caused that dream to die.”

“Sometimes dreams change,” Harry said. “Nobody ever said I had to start my auror training right after I graduate. It wouldn’t hurt anything to wait a year or two.”

“No, Harry,” Ginny said. “I can’t let you do that. You need to get as much training as you can for when..."

“When I fight Voldemort,” Harry said finishing her thought.

Ginny felt a deep guilt for bringing up the subject on what Harry had meant to be such a nice picnic. Of all of the things she could have said, she had brought up the one subject she knew to avoid most of all.

“I am so sorry, Harry,” Ginny said. “I didn’t mean to ruin this day for you.”

“You haven’t,” Harry said taking hold of her hand. “Listen, I want to make it clear here and now that I know my fight with Voldemort is coming near. No one knows that more that I do. I expect it to happen before I graduate this year. I know that shocks you, but it’s something I’ve been working very hard to prepare for. When it comes, I’ll do the very best I can to end it once and for all. Until then, I am not about to let Voldemort influence my life like you might think. I’m perfectly all right with discussing Voldemort, and our impending battle, with people. Most of all you. I feel closer to you right now then I have ever been to anyone. The only reason I never bring it up myself is because I know it makes other people uncomfortable to talk about it.”

“I don’t want to lose you, Harry,” Ginny said as she pressed her tear stained face to Harry's chest.

“I don’t want to lose you either,” Harry said. “I just want to make the most of whatever time we have left together, whether it’s five minutes or a hundred years. I’m going to love you with every part of my soul for as long as I can.”

Harry tilted Ginny’s head back and kissed her until both of them felt the joy coursing through them as it always did.

“Hmmm.” Dobby said, causing Harry and Ginny to look and see who had sneaked up on them so quietly.

“Dobby is sorry to interrupt Harry Potter, sir,” Dobby said, “but he wanted to make sure you knew that you will be late for your classes if you do not leave now.”

Harry looked down at his watch and realized that he was right. They wouldn’t have to run, but they weren’t far from having to.

“Thanks for everything, Dobby,” Harry said as he and Ginny got up to leave. “You’re a real friend.”

Dobby couldn’t have been more proud as he snapped his fingers and vanished the picnic blanket away. Harry Potter was the greatest wizard that ever lived, he was sure. And to the end of his days he would make sure that all of the other house elves knew it.
Kafli 11
The remainder of the day went smoothly for Harry. None of his other classes got out early enough to meet Ginny, but his lunch picnic with her turned out to be enough to sustain him through the rest of his classes. He was looking forward to seeing her in the common room when all of their classes were done. He thought that they would have time for another walk around the grounds before they had to go to dinner.

He was looking forward to getting away from Ron and Hermione for a while anyway. They had been pestering him all day to tell them what he had done during the summer to suddenly become a whiz in every one of his classes. Harry had tried to tell them that it didn’t really matter as long as he kept earning points for Gryffindor. While they agreed that it was great that Harry had personally managed to earn more points on the first day than some of the houses usually got in the first six months; they still wanted to know what mutation he had undergone that made him able to answer any question, and perform magic that no other wizard had ever been able to.

Harry’s hopes of taking a late walk with Ginny and watching the sunset were not to be though, as Professor McGonagall walked into the common room and told Harry that Professor Dumbledore wanted to meet with him right away. Knowing that there was no way to get out of it, Harry left word with Neville of where he had gone, and told him to tell Ginny about it. It wasn’t until after he left that he wondered if Neville’s memory had gotten any better over the summer.

Professor McGonagall walked Harry all the way to Dumbledore’s office, and when she took him inside, Professor Dumbledore said, “You should stay for this as well since you are Harry’s head of house Professor McGonagall. You seem to have had quite an eventful day, Harry.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said, suspecting what the meeting might be about.

“From what I hear, you managed to earn one hundred and seventy five points for your house today,” Dumbledore said looking down over his glasses at Harry. “I asked you to come here about one hundred of those points. Professor Snape has filed a protest with me over your actions in Potions class today. He seems to think that you managed to cheat in some way on an oral quiz.”

“There was never any cheating, Professor,” Harry said. “There was no way for me to cheat. I had no prior knowledge that he would choose to give me a quiz or what would be on it, so there was no way to have arranged for anyone to help me.”

“How do you explain it then that you were able to answer every question correctly,” Dumbledore said calmly, “even though Professor Snape assures me the test was designed so that you shouldn’t have been able to answer correctly.”

“With all due respect to Professor Snape,” Harry said, “he has no way of knowing, in advance, what I might know. I spent a good part of the summer studying potion ingredients. That, in addition to what I uncovered in my own mind this past summer, was all I needed to know.”

“What do you mean, Mr. Potter?” McGonagall asked. “What did you uncover in your mind?”

“That is something that I will discuss with you, with Harry’s permission,” Dumbledore said, “after Harry is on his way back to the common room.”

“I don’t mind,” Harry said. “I think Professor McGonagall should know just in case something happens.”

“Thank you, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “I just need to tell you that I have reviewed Professor Snape’s complaint, and informed him that there is nothing that can be done unless he can show any evidence of cheating.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Harry said.

“You are welcome,” Dumbledore said. “By the way Harry, I hear that we also have you to thank for Professor Bane’s considerable good mood. I haven’t seen a Hogwarts teacher that excited since Professor McGonagall told me she had found a new seeker for her house team some years ago.”

Harry walked back to the Gryffindor common room expecting to find no sight of anyone since they would all be down at dinner. To his surprise, there was someone still there waiting for him.

“How was your meeting with Dumbledore?” Ginny asked.

“Fine,” Harry said walking over and taking her in his arms. “He just had to tell me about a complaint Snape had made to him.”

“You never did tell me why he let class out early,” Ginny said pulling back to look at him.

“I’m hungry,” Harry said trying to change the subject. “Why don’t we go down to dinner now.”

“Alright,” Ginny said taking his hand. “You can tell me all about Potions class on the way.”

Harry just smiled at her as he led her out of the common room. Knowing that she would drag it out of him or hear it from someone else anyway, he spent most of the trip to the Great Hall relating to her everything he could remember about his potions class. Unknown to Harry, it was his friendly conversation with Cassidy Silverwood that bothered her more than what had happened with Snape.

A cheer went up from the Gryffindor table as Harry and Ginny walked in. As usually happened at dinner, everyone checked on where the house points stood and found Gryffindor had jumped out to a substantial lead that the other houses would be hard pressed to catch. It hadn’t taken long for the tales of what Harry had done during the day to get around. From the way they congratulated him, a person would have thought he had just won the house cup for them single handedly.

As hungry as he might have been, it didn’t take long for Harry to grab some food and suggest that they get it to go. He told Ron and Hermione to grab Neville and meet him in the room of requirement.

Twenty minutes later, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Luna walked through the door into the room of requirement to find themselves standing in the Hogwarts Library. They spotted Harry and Ginny sitting at one of the tables, and went over and sat down with them.

“I just wanted all of you to be here so I could explain to you what I did over the summer,” Harry said. “Actually I spent most of it right here in this room.”

“In the room of requirement?” Hermione asked. “But Harry, that’s impossible. Hogwarts is closed over the summer. How would you have gotten in?”

“With this,” Harry said as he unwrapped a coin he had pulled out of his pocket and placed it on the table.

“Is that what I think it is?” Ron asked. “Is that a portkey?”

“Yes,” Harry said. “I made it last year before I left, so that I would be able to come back here when I wanted and then return to my room at the Dursley’s.”

“Brilliant,” Neville said. “You can’t do magic outside of Hogwarts, so you make a portkey to bring you back here so that you can.”

“But why?” Hermione asked.

“This is what you meant wasn’t it Harry?” Ginny asked. “At lunch today you told me that you had been working hard to prepare for your battle with Voldemort.”

“Right,” Harry said.

“I find it hard to believe that Harry Potter spent an entire summer reading and doing research,” Hermione said.

“I didn’t,” Harry said. “Remember that this room can be whatever I need it to be. Sometimes it was the library, but other times it was an assortment of other rooms. Sometimes it was the streets of Hogsmead, or the Forbidden Forest. I also did quite a bit of meditating.”

“So why the sudden change, Harry?” Hermione asked. “Studying and meditating aren’t things that we’ve ever associated with you before.”

“I should think it was Voldemort,” Luna said airily. “Perhaps Harry finally realized how close his battle really was.”

“That’s partially true,” Harry said. “At the end of last year I was having flashes of memory, but they weren’t memories that I should have remembered. They were Voldemort’s memories. At first I thought he was placing the thoughts into my head on purpose, but my occulemency practice had taught me how to block something like that from happening without my knowing it. I kept looking for external ways he might have been doing it, but eventually I thought to take a look internally.

“My meditations quickly showed me what I feared to be true. Professor Dumbledore always thought that Voldemort transferred some of his power to me the night he gave me my scar. That’s how he explained my being able to speak parcletongue. What I found was that he did much more than transfer some power to me. What he actually did was to copy everything he knew at the time into my brain without either of us knowing it.”

“Oh, Harry,” Ginny said horrified for him. “Please tell me you don’t have a memory of…”

“Killing my parents?” Harry asked. “Unfortunately, I have a clear memory of that and every other time he killed someone. Once I started digging to find these hidden memories, I couldn’t stop them from flooding back to me of their own will. I’ve been meditating all summer to calm my mind so I can keep a handle on which memories are mine and which are his, but they’ve become such a part of me that the line isn’t so clear cut all the time.”

“I’m so sorry, Harry,” Hermione said as tears dripped from her chin. “I never should have pressured you to tell us what you had been doing during the summer.”

“I’m sorry too, mate,” Ron said. “I can’t imagine what you must be going through.”

“I spent quite a bit of time feeling sorry for myself,” Harry said. “I won’t lie to you. I would love to have some of the memories taken out of my head somehow, but there are other things that I need to keep.”

“What could Voldemort give you that you would want to keep?” Neville asked.

“His knowledge of magic,” Harry answered. “His intellectual research abilities. The knowledge of what his favorite spells are and how they can be blocked. All of these things that I know about him, that he isn’t aware that I know, could be just the edge I need to defeat him once and for all.”

“So when you answered all of Snape’s questions in Potions today…” Ron said.

“I drew on those memories to help me get the right answer,” Harry said. “I know more about making potions right now than Snape could ever dream of. I’ve even been working on a special one of my own over the summer.”

“And the magic circle in Defense Against the Dark Arts?” Hermione asked.

“Only partially in that case,” Harry said. “Voldemort knew about circle magic and tried to produce one with a wand spell, but eventually gave up thinking it was impossible.”

“But you did it,” Neville said.

“Yes,” Harry said. “I used the room of requirement to make a room that had all of the information that had ever been written down about the study of circles. What I found out was that they had been around much longer than most people today give them credit for. They were all trying spells in Latin or Greek. I started trying some of the older languages and finally found out that Sanskrit got a reaction. After that it was just a matter of finding the right words.”

“Wait a minute.” Ginny said waving her hand. “What is all this about magic circles?”

“That’s right,” Hermione said. “I forgot that you weren’t there in class with us. I guess I thought Harry would have told you about it already.”

“I just managed to drag what happened in Potions out of him,” Ginny said. “I didn’t know there was anything else I should have been asking about.”

Hermione took the next few minutes to fill Ginny in on what Harry had done and how excited Professor Bane had been about it.

“But Harry,” Luna began, having just heard the story for the first time as well, “if this is something you didn’t want Voldemort to know about, you probably shouldn’t have revealed it to anyone in front of a class. If Professor Bane tells the wrong people in Slytherin it will be just an owl away from Voldemort knowing about it.”


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