Disclaimer: See Chapter 1


Harry Potter and Merlin's Gifts

Chapter 37: The New Year Continued

It was the second day of exams for Ginny and Luna, and the two were doing a practical portion of spells which was tested by Professor Flitwick himself. Lily had promised to test the two girls, but the Charms Professor gave her the day off with a sly wink.

He had a list of charms for the girls to perform and they were partway through the third year charms. These charms in particular were a favourite among girls as they were used on diaries to prevent someone from opening it. After they were done, the 'diaries' which were in fact blank save for the name written inside, would be labelled and taken for an examiner, who in this case would be Professor Vector. She would not be told who these diaries belonged to, until she broke the charms and gave it a score.

Filius smiled as he watched Ginny Weasley place a nasty hex on the diary no doubt having experience with keeping her brothers from invading her privacy and wishing that another diary that crossed her path had hexes on it as well. As it were, he was certainly glad he got to watch his colleague and friend open it.

A quick glance on the other side of the room showed Luna Lovegood placing rather tame hexes on her diary. It was no wonder her things were stolen in the past. Filius, at the start of the year, reprimanded Ravenclaw house and had announced that should Miss. Lovegood's things go missing this year, Ravenclaw would lose every point they earned.


Bath time was a spectacular event for the pirates who cried 'abandon ship' minutes after being put into the water as Jazzy's first actions were to sink the boat. Cannons were fired and steam could be seen exiting the holes after each boom. There weren't many pirates aboard the ship, ten at the most, and they rallied bravely against Jasmine running onto the deck with their swords. Unfortunately for them, they swords were spelled to bend upon impact with skin and the men threw their swords away in disgust. Harry gathered the men, their swords and the boat, setting it aside for later use. To his surprise, the pieces reset themselves to their original places not unlike the Wizard's Chess Pieces he and Ron used.

As it were Harry's bath time too, he soaked while Jasmine played pirate using rubber duckies to slam into the boat. By the time Harry gave the pirates a rest, the girl was shrivelled like a prune, and to Harry's utter embarrassment, Lily came to collect the girl.

"You haven't got anything I haven't seen before you know." Was her reply to Harry's indignant sputtering. She wrapped Jasmine in her fluffy pink towel and in a fit of mischievousness the little girl escaped and ran down the hall naked.

"Can you leave now?" Harry asked, his lips barely breaking the water level to speak. His attempt to hide his naked body amused Lily so much she reheated the water with her wand and created baby blue foam for Harry.

That was a few hours ago and Harry grinned as he watched a young James, Sirius, and Peter try to transfigure their arms.

"Listen, if you can't get this right Peter then you better give up becoming an Animagus." Sirius said.

"I can do it!"

"Oh yeah, well try it then. I've got my paw transfigured, and Jamie here got his antlers!"

"Shut up Sirius! At least I figured out what animal I was. You still don't know what you are, except you're black and hairy." James snarled, embarrassed.

"Aww come on Jaime, we got your head back to normal right?" Sirius said with a grin. Peter snickered in his corner. "What are you laughing at? You haven't even managed to transform your hand!"

Peter's smile faltered and he glared at Sirius once more. The memory ended and Harry chose another.

"Harry, whose memories are those?" Lily asked as she watched a much younger Sirius restlessly turned a page on the book he was reading. James threw a balled up napkin to quiet Sirius while Peter glared at Sirius.

"Sirius'; he wanted me to read the stuff that he's looking at in the memory."

"I see, and how's that working out?" Lily knew that he had chosen the wrong person's memory to learn from. There was no way in the world a young Sirius Black could sit still long enough to get much done. How he ever managed the transformation Lily didn't know.

"Not too well with this memory at any rate. He can't seem to sit still long enough." It was true. Every few minutes Sirius was on the move earning dirty looks from James and Peter as they lost their concentration. "Sirius Osiris Black would you just sit down!" came James' voice from the Pensieve.

"I am sitting!" Sirius said.

"Well sit quietly for a bit why don't you? I'm trying to figure out what I did wrong with that wand movement."

Sirius grumbled and Peter moaned, "I'll never get this."

"Buck up Peter, you'll get it."

"Yeah, right."

The memory ended and Harry removed his wand from the silver strands floating in the stone basin.

"Always full of energy that one. Your father's should be better. Are you interested in becoming an Animagus Harry?" He nodded. "You don't look like you're interested."

"It's just that I have so much to do and that's not counting my school work or Quidditch. How am I going to have time to do all that and the Animagus? I don't want to disappoint Sirius because it's just about the only thing he can do around here and I don't want him to feel locked up again."

"Oh Harry. It's a good sentiment and I understand what you're saying about the overload. However, you can do the Animagus studies orally. No, let me finish. Sirius could read to you or a clone and discuss the process described, and be able to give you feedback. You can set aside one clone to do it if you wanted to keep Sirius occupied and if you need a day off, James or I can write a pass. What's the fun in having your parents teaching if you don't have a get out of jail free card, huh?"

"I don't think Alastor'd approve…"

"Oh, he'll approve. You never know when you need an additional means of escape."

"Are you and Animagus?"

"Don't laugh okay? No I'm not, at least not yet but I was instructed by the best and brightest…in the afterlife." Harry snickered. James had said many a time that Lily was the only woman to follow academic pursuits beyond the grave. Harry felt that Hermione would come at a close second and mentioned as much to his father. They both shared a laugh at Lily and Hermione's expense away from their delicate super-sensory ears of course. "Anyway, I've been lax in my practice but I do know that I should be there soon."

Harry asked what animal she was and Lily refused to give him the information. "You'll not find out from me until I'm ready to show you. I can fly though."

Harry smirked and said, "So you're a bird then!"

"Would you call Buckbeak a bird?" Lily said with a laugh, "You'll not get that info from me Potter. You're severely lacking in interrogation techniques."

Harry grinned. No one had taught him how to interrogate a captive, but he did have crucial information on Lily; she was ticklish. However, now was not the time to reveal such information. He didn't have the energy to last through a tickle frenzy. It was too long a day and he too was ticklish. One must be prepared to defend oneself in a situation like that and he wasn't. Instead, he changed the subject. "Savi told me you helped with the runic transportation thing; the dodecagon shape enclosure."

After his bath, Harry left Sirius with a now snoozing Jasmine to meet with Savi.

FLASHBACK

"Why are we doing more ritual circles Savi? Can't we do something else?" Harry asked. In truth the shapes he learned to draw were more hexagonal in shape and others in higher and lower numbers of sides.

"You are learning it because that damn Alastor is teaching you, conditioning you to kill. You need balance. I have studied under Rune Masters since I was seven years old Harry before I was accepted as an apprentice." Students were taught just enough information to either save or hang themselves. Savi had passed, but her elder sister didn't. "Apprentices are carefully chosen because Rune Masters and Mistresses learn both the good and the bad. There are enclosures for health, punishment, and death. One has to learn that balance is the key to survival, and it is also why your copies have been displaying individual personalities when they should not. Learning the meditation techniques early on was beneficial."

Harry had to agree. Getting through Moody's sessions wouldn't have been possible without meditation. However, he was getting tired of learning ritual enclosures and made his displeasure known.

"Did you know Harry, that Portkeys were based on a transportation runic enclosure?"

"No, but I'm not too surprised." And he wasn't. There were so many spells he'd used that had their roots in runes. Harry knew that runic spells were even more ancient than wanded magic.

"Good, because I have managed to set up transportation enclosures from the path outside of Hosgmeade up 'til the castle gates."

Harry was surprised. "What?"

Savi hastened to explain. It hadn't taken more than a few meetings with the Arithmancy and Runes professors to figure out that eliminating Death Eater numbers was their first priority in keeping Hogwarts safe. She had explained Harry's plan to expand the protection wards via carved rock talismans and totems and was glad to learn that there was a runic system in place at Hogwarts in an inactive state; it would take a Rune Master or Mistress to activate it. While Savi hadn't yet achieved her mastery, she was quite an adept student. She knew that Merlin's ghost had sent her to Hogwarts for a reason, and it wasn't just to train Harry.

"So you found this 'runic system'?"

Savita grimaced and said, "I'm still finding the damn things. I've taken to calling it a system because the enclosures feed on each other."

"Feed?"

"Yes, that is, the energy generated is transferred from one loop to another until it dissipates at the natural edge of the wards." The natural edge was an interesting wording, and when Harry enquired Savi explained that Hogsmeade was developed as a worker's town where the castle's builders had settled in the long years it took to build. The natural wards included the village but in the later centuries, the Hogwarts Governors eradicated its usage because blood had to be spilled. "You have to understand that there are some enclosures that require sacrifice."

"You mean the founders killed people to protect…"

"Goodness no! People were to donate fresh blood. The greater the sacrifice, the more output you get. If a death was required it was usually the animals that got axed."

"Bigger the animal, bigger the sacrifice?"

Savi grinned and said, "You'd think so, but actually, the sacrifice was actually meant to be something that you'd rather not give up. Magic is picky like that. Say you were a chicken farmer 1000 years ago and you were given a goat. You wanted a runic enclosure to ward your property. Would you give up one of the chickens, or the goat?"

Harry answered the chicken because the farmer would have many and could afford to lose one or two. "Yes, you would be able to give up a couple chickens. It wouldn't cost that much especially if you sacrifice a hen that wasn't laying. However, you only have one goat that could either fetch a good price, give you milk, or carry a calf. Giving it up would really be a sacrifice. That's when the magic will be strongest."

"So a goat herder would give up his only chicken?"

"If giving up the chicken was costly, yes. Truthfully, that's why rune magic started to die; people became selfish and couldn't be bothered to give a true living sacrifice if the ritual they wanted required it."

"There's that one we did that required water."

"Right, but where was that ritual used?"

"The desert, but what does that have to do with the transport things from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts?"

"Nothing really, you asked about the runic system here. The point is I haven't found the main circle yet and I don't know how big a sacrifice would be needed. The magic is still there. Hogwarts has been sustaining it, but it's weak."

"How can you tell?"

"Some of the outer circles are still active, and coincidentally, they're at the current ward edge."

"The path?" Harry prodded.

"Well the professors and I drew up a transport dodecagon with a destination in mind as a test and after a few tweaks here and there it worked. Your Mum was instrumental in the next step as she and the Charms Professor keyed the dodecagon to the Dark Mark. Anyone who bears the mark while the circle is activated will automatically be transported. Professor Snape was very patient and tested our tries until it worked."

"Patient? Are you sure you have the right man?" Savi grinned and Harry wondered if his teacher had a crush on Severus. He did what anyone his age would go, gag. "Very attractive Harry."

"Thanks, but they work, the transport enclosure, I mean?"

"Of course they do. They're done on laminated parchment and buried. Your house elves have used their own brand of magic to add and remove the protective shield around the sheets so that it wouldn't be activated prematurely."

"My elves? Dobby and Avig did that?"

They were glad to contribute in their small way and had buried the sheets at regular intervals with magic so that the ground was undisturbed. Even grass wasn't a deterrent.

"Yes, they'd do anything for you. I've done my part in the war effort…"

"Not so fast. Could you reconfigure the transport enclosure to get people to the Hospital Wing or a mass evacuation?"

"The mass evacuation have been taken care of. There are lengths of Portkey ropes that Devlin left with us. Only he, Lily, and the Headmaster have the authority to create portkeys and they are our backup to the backup. Don't worry, we'll get the kids out when the time comes."

"How can you be sure you'll be here?"

"Harry, I was visited by Merlin himself and asked to come to Hogwarts. I'm afraid that I cannot in good conscience leave here when this is where I'm supposed to be. He's Merlin!"

"It puts a new spin on saying, 'Merlin's ghost!' doesn't it."

Savi rolled her eyes in remembrance. She had used that same exclamation and in reply, Merlin replied, "Why yes I am child."

"Quit dawdling and draw four hexagons ninety degrees from each other and enclose them in a circle."

"Yes ma'am."

"And for goodness sakes don't erase the circle as fast as you draw it!"

END FLASHBACK

"It's actually a two dimensional dodecahedral shape whose twelve faces are interconnected by runes."

"Dodecagon, dodecahedral, what's the big difference?"

Lily snorted and said, "You've got a lot to learn." The difference was crucial to functioning. A regular twelve sided shape would not be enough to transport someone, much less several someones depending on the amount of times the transport system was activated but a twelve faced shape could. The twelve faces traditionally represented the universe, which meant that someone could be transported anywhere on the planet. However, a twelve sided diagram was severely hampered in the directions it could travel. For instance, if someone needed to be transported to the third floor of a building or even a basement, they couldn't. However, with the dodecahedral sending a Death Eater to a magically reinforced dungeon cell was possible.

"I didn't think it was so complicated, but you do have a place to send the Death Eaters?"

"Oh yeah. The cell was designed by Johann Thelonious Harper in 1052, but it fell out of favour because people didn't like the idea of having magic sucked out of them." Harry blanched, but Lily shook her head and continued. "Only a fraction of the prisoner's magic is used to confine them. The rest of the magic needed comes from a four-person spell. The magic of four activate it as well as deactivate it."

"That doesn't sound so bad."

"It's not, but it was labelled as dark magic, and other less secure methods were used."

"Like Dementors."

"Eventually the use of Dementors became standard but Harper's cell is an ingenious thing! He said his inspiration for it was from an Assyrian manuscript that was recovered, and while he couldn't recreate the original energy sources which he believes were natural crystals infused with magic, the spells worked."

"So let me get this straight. I know what Dad said, but did you just wander around finding people and learned things from them knowing you wouldn't get a chance to use any of it?"

Lily blushed. She had a thirst for knowledge that wasn't hampered by death. In fact, in the early days she was distraught and listless. She wasn't able to experience the peace that death brought partially because of her violent death. It was meeting with the scholars she had read about that had given her a semblance of normalcy. The discussions on magical theory that she'd been welcomed to were amazing. To think that even after death the pursuit of knowledge didn't end, especially when the greatest minds gathered and debated. It was truly heaven. How could she explain that to her son?

Harry broke Lily's thoughts by saying, "So is Albus right then? Death is the next adventure?"

"Oh yes, Harry, it is."

"Remind me to tell Ron about this." Harry said with a smile. "He wanted to set up Portkeys too but couldn't figure out how to do it so our side wouldn't get caught."

Lily smiled and said, "Where do you think we got the idea from?" She stood, stretched and said, "Moonrise is soon so I'm heading off to bed. Are you staying or going to the dorms?"

"Staying."

"If you insist. Goodnight Harry."

"G'nite Mum."


A/N I decided to cut the chapter here as there is a scene change. It's short, I know, but it's been less than a week. It's still Jan 2nd. I'm letting you all know right now it's going to be a long day and Jan 3rd and 4th are just as eventful.

We're not going to be seeing a lot of in-depth training for anyone since we know they're doing it. She and Luna aren't going to have much to do because it's their OWL year but Ginny will go through what Hermione did. Luna's done it but no one besides Alastor and Severus knows. He did brew the 'special tea' after all. She passed that section in one week. What can I say, I wrote her with excellent Occlumency skills early on. Harry is going to have a busy month as well and the Order gains an unlikely spy and there are Sirius changes ahead. Lily's animagus form is very cool I think! It's legendary! Okay, enough of that.

My internet is down so I'll be updating from the library. Expect a delay (about 2 weeks) as my muse isn't up to snuff yet. Maybe it'll be a leap day present. I'll get the reviews ASAP. You guys are so patient! I didn't get but 2 update demands from anonymous reviewers. So thanks a lot!

Gryff

PS Kaydine is in the UK with her brother! I'm jealous in a good way...wish I were there.

Chapter 38: Murder Afoot is due approx Feb 29th/Mar 1st. 1000 words written already.