Standard disclaimer: the author is not stealing the mearest portion of bread out of the mouths of J.K. Rowling's children.
Non-standard praises: to Yolanda, my conscientious beta.
to say, Harry was more than a little preoccupied after waking. There
was so much to sort out, and he had so much trouble recalling facts
that came to him in dreams. They always seemed to melt away when
exposed to sunlight.
Voldemort and his inner circle were
fleeing England... no, they were looking for something... the Book of
Serpents?... the Staff of Serpents?... they already had the Book of
Serpents... something else... the Book's companion?... it was in
Mongolia... it was near Mongolia... the San Mountains? Sulan Mountains?
Yana Mountains?... and he was going to attack the school with an
invisible weapon?... did Snape know that?... he'd sent Snape away,
Snape didn't know anything except that the rest were leaving...
Voldemort must not trust Snape... the Department of Mysteries knew
about the Order of the Phoenix now... and about Sirius... except they
probably didn't believe me... they didn't know about my link with
He concentrated on writing down as much as
he could remember of that portion of the night's escapades involving
Voldemort; the Dark Lord was the immediate threat, whereas who knew if
his interview with the Ministry investigators might eventually be
important or not.
His thoughts still Elsewhere, Harry finally
went downstairs to eat two hours later. He barely registered the
scolding Aunt Petunia couldn't stop herself from giving him for
apparently sleeping in so late. Or for "having toast and cereal at
lunch time." Nor did he pay her much mind when she abruptly lapsed into
an anxious, sullen silence.
He knew he had to tell Dumbledore
right away, that much was sure... or was it? Everything Voldemort had
said seemed to be about stuff in the planning stages, and The Order had
plenty of ways of finding out what it needed to know. And it wasn't
like anyone was breaking their back to tell him what was going on... but he wasn't going to let himself get all upset about that again.
a sigh of resignation, Harry temporarily set aside his desire to go out
for another random walk around Little Whinging and trudged back up to
his room to dash off yet another letter. What a lot of practice he was
getting at them. This one however wasn't going to be anything
elaborate, he decided. It wasn't even going to be a letter really. More
like a sentence. It read:
Dear Professor Dumbledore
I had two dreams last night from which I learned things that might interest you.
studied the note. Even though it revealed nothing about his dreams,
sending it via owl post probably wasn't advisable. The mere fact his
dreams were giving him information that "might interest" Dumbledore was
incriminating enough in itself. And Hedwig was still out delivering the
letters he'd given her the night before, so she wasn't an option at the
Harry decided to drop the letter at Arabella
Figg's house and let her pass it along. He briefly considered knocking
when he arrived at her front door, but rejected that for fear she might
detain him. Instead he scrawled Sorry to be in such a rush. I'd be grateful if you could give this to Professor Dumbledore. Thanks. H.P. on the outside of the folded up note, slid it through the letterbox, and got on with his day.
on with his day" was something Harry was getting very good at, not that
he'd stopped counting them. He just didn't know exactly which day he
was counting to. His sixteenth birthday came and went on July 31st, and
Dumbledore still hadn't responded to his note or given him permission
to leave the Dursleys... but he wasn't going to let himself get all
upset about that again. There was probably a lot going on.
anyway it had been a reasonably decent birthday. Fred and George sent
him a Wheezes Assortment, including more Bubble Blasters gum, so that
he could "carry on their work at Hogwarts." They'd also assured him
that no, the package of gum wasn't supposed to disappear, but they were
glad he liked it. Mrs Weasley had sent a delicious cake, with a promise
of a bigger one later.
Ron and Ginny had pooled their resources
to get him a big bag of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. They also
wrote him separate letters. Ginny's filled him in on events around 12
Grimmauld Place, including her practice sessions throwing a Quaffle at
"an unwilling target." Harry supposed that meant Ron's head or
Ron's letter implied that he'd earned eight O.W.L.s.
Like Harry, he was stunned that his scores were so good. Except for the
"A" he just barely scraped in Divination, their results were remarkably
similar. He joked that the only reason he got a Divination O.W.L. was
because some of the mist in Trewlaney's classroom had soaked into his
brain. He did not mention his History of Magic score, which led Harry
to believe it must have been pretty awful.
Hermione, predictably, sent him a book: Secrets of the Seekers: Strategies and Techniques Used by the Best to Catch the Snitch First, which became The Dark Arts Outsmarted when he opened the cover. Strange. His Occlumency manual also used Secrets of the Seekers as a disguise. Harry was beginning to wonder if that particular Quidditch title really existed.
also sent a detailed breakdown of her O.W.L. results. It all came to
the same thing: twelve, just as he thought. "O"s across the board
except Ancient Runes and Astronomy, which were "E"s. Try as she might,
the generally effusive tone of her letter couldn't quite conceal her
disappointment at falling just short of outstanding in those two
subjects. Nor could she stop herself from gently chiding Harry for his
cavalier attitude about failing to get an O.W.L. in Divination or
History of Magic, even if she was amused by his fanciful application of
Hagrid sent a tin of his homemade treacle fudge and
a book with blank covers that hissed menacingly at Harry when he
brought his hands near it. Harry tried a little of the fudge, just to
find out if spending time with Madame Maxime had improved Hagrid's
cooking. It hadn't. The fudge was impossible for ordinary humans to
chew. But that was okay. Harry chopped, carved, and hacked at it until
he'd divided it into squares, which he planned to leave around the
house in places where Dudley was likely to find them. Then he held his
breath and had a go at the book.
It turned out to be a
comprehensive description of different kinds of magical reptiles. The
hissing was either meant as a harmless threat display, or as a
substitute for a printed title, or both. As with his third year, there
was a cryptic note suggesting it would be the text used in Care of
Magical Creatures. Harry thought his Parseltongue would come in handy
if they spent much time on snakes, but knowing Hagrid he knew he'd do
better to expect sulfur turtles at best or a dragon at worst.
The strangest thing he got in the mail was his Hogwarts letter from Professor McGonagall:
Dear Mr. Potter
note that the new school year will begin on September the First. The
Hogwarts Express will leave from King's Cross station, platform nine
and three-quarters, at eleven o'clock.
As you are
now entering sixth year, it is time for you to decide which courses you
will study in preparation for your N.E.W.T.s. If you still wish to
become an Auror, the career preference you expressed during our
counseling session, you will need at a minimum to continue your
education in Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts,
and Potions. Your O.W.L. results were sufficient to qualify in each
subject, as well as in Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. In
addition, Professor Firenze has made a special request that you
complete at least another year of Divination. Choose your classes from
the enclosed list and return it immediately:
[ ] Charms [ ] Transfiguration [ ] Defense Against the Dark Arts [ ] Potions [ ] Herbology [ ] Care of Magical Creatures [ ] Divination
Professor M. McGonagall Deputy Headmistress
With the departure of Dolores Umbridge, Headmaster Dumbledore has
decided to lift the lifetime Quidditch ban imposed on you last season.
was at once elated and crestfallen. He could officially play Quidditch
again! But another year of Divination!? What good would that do? His
score on the Divination O.W.L. was atrocious. By rights he should have
been rid of the subject forever. And he knew for a fact he did not
qualify for further study in Potions. Unless McGonagall had misread his
results, or gotten them confused with another student's, something else
was going on.
Once again, no one bothered to explain... but he
wasn't going to let himself get upset about that. He would simply ask
for an explanation. There was no one stopping him from doing that, now
was there? This wasn't Order business after all.
Dear Professor McGonagall
apologize for not returning my class list yet, but there is something I
don't understand. I didn't score well enough on my Potions O.W.L. to
continue with it. My combined was an "E," and you told me Professor
Snape wouldn't take anyone past fifth year who didn't earn an "O". Has
something been changed?
PS: Thanks for arranging to let me play Quidditch again.