Harry pulled an aged piece of parchment out of his trunk and unfolded it. He touched his wand to it. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” He watched the map of Hogwarts appear on it.
“What are you up to?” asked Ron.
“I’m going to meet Dawn in the Room of Requirement.”
“Ooo! Midnight meeting with your girlfriend! Good luck mate!”
Harry scowled at Ron. “It’s not that sort of meeting.” He went back to examining the Marauder’s Map. The seventh floor was clear. All the students were in their dorm rooms, Filch was patrolling the fifth floor. He saw a black dot, labelled ‘Dawn Summers’ leave the girls’ dorm rooms. “Gotta go.”
Harry caught up with Dawn in the hallway. She was moving cautiously, watching for anyone who might catch her out after curfew. “Hey, wait up!”
“Shh!” said Dawn.
“It’s okay.” Harry waved the Marauder’s Map. “No one’s nearby.”
“Magic map of the castle,” said Harry. “It shows where everyone is inside it.”
“Cool,” said Dawn. “Can I see?”
“Sure.” Harry handed her the map. He pointed to the two dots in the seventh floor corridor. “See, there we are.”
“Huh. Neat.” Dawn kept looking over the map, checking to see if there was anyone else nearby. Other than a couple of people in the Ravenclaw common room, there was no one else on the seventh floor. She saw Filch’s dot moving down from the fifth to the fourth floor.
“So, er, we were going to talk?” asked Harry.
“Right,” said Dawn. She moved quickly down the hall toward the Room of Requirement. She started to pace back and forth between the vase and the window, thinking about needing a nice little room for a private chat. The door appeared in the wall. She opened it and stepped into the room on the other side.
It was small, and comfortably appointed. Quite cozy really, with a nice love seat set in front of a crackling fire. There was one other piece of furniture in the room: a standard Hogwarts four poster bed. Dawn looked at Harry. “What were you thinking?”
“Er, I was up late last night, working on my Potions homework, and then we got up early this morning, and I’m really sleepy now?” Harry put his hand over his mouth to cover a yawn.
“Good answer.” Dawn sat on one end of the love seat. “Sit down, I’ve got something important to tell you.”
Harry sat down beside her. “Okay, what is it?”
“The reason I was afraid that the Death Eaters were after me.”
“Right. The thing that’s worse than them wanting to torture you for information about the Key.”
“Uh-huh,” said Dawn. “And you have to promise me not to tell anyone about this, not even Ron or Hermione.”
“Er, Ron knows I’m meeting you here. He’s going to ask about it.”
“Tell him we were making out. This is important Harry. If you really feel like you have to talk to someone other than me, you can talk to Professor Dumbledore, he knows all about it, but I want your word not to talk about this with anyone else.”
“Okay,” said Harry. “I promise.”
“I’m the Key.”
“The Key is me.”
“But the Key is thousands of years old!” said Harry. “And you’re seventeen!”
“I know,” said Dawn. “It’s actually even weirder than that, but the short version is that three years ago the Monks of Dagon needed a place to hide the Key, and keep it protected, so they put it into the Slayer’s sister. So now I’m the Key.”
“So that’s why you were afraid they were after you,” said Harry. “You were afraid that they knew.”
“Yeah, and that’s why you can’t tell anyone about this. Anyone who knows about the Key can become a target.”
“So, it’s okay for me to be a target?” asked Harry with a grin.
Dawn smiled at him. “Voldemort’s already targeting you, remember? Maybe if he finds out that you know about the Key, it won’t be in a ‘kill on sight’ kinda way.”
“So, isn’t there any way to take the Key out of you?” asked Harry.
“Not that we know of,” said Dawn. “At least not without killing me. If I die, the Key will be released, but that’s the only way we know of.”
“That’s got to suck,” said Harry.
“Yeah, sometimes it sucks a lot,” said Dawn. “But in other ways it’s nice too. I hang around with so many special people: Slayers, witches, vampires…it’s nice to be special too.”
“But you’re a witch too,” said Harry.
“According to Professor Dumbledore, it’s having the Key that makes me a witch,” said Dawn. “It’s what gives me my magical power.”
“Can you do anything else with it?” asked Harry. “You know…other than regular magic?”
“I don’t know,” said Dawn. “Other than being able to destroy the universe once every thousand years we haven’t found much. Buffy brought me a book that has some stuff about what the Key can do in it, but it’s pretty tough slogging, and I’m not sure how to adapt what it says about using the Key to doing it myself, with the Key inside me.”
“Destroy the universe?” asked Harry. “Is that why Voldemort wants it?”
“Not unless he’s willing to wait nine hundred and ninety-seven years before he tries it.”
“I don’t think he’s that patient.”
“Neither do I.”
“And he wants to rule the world, not destroy it.” Harry paused to think for a bit. “So why does he want it?”
“The Key seems to be mostly useful for opening portals. It can open portals between dimensions, or across space and time.”
“Time?” asked Harry.
“Yeah,” said Dawn. “Willow thinks it may be possible to create a portal that can pull something out of the past, or send something into the future. She doesn’t think it’s possible to go the other way. Sending stuff backwards in time violates causality or something like that.”
“But you can go back in time with a Time-Turner,” said Harry.
“It’s something Hermione had a few years ago, to let her take extra classes. It let her be in two places at once. We also used it to go back in time three hours so we could save Sirius and Buckbeak from the Ministry.”
“Huh,” said Dawn. “I guess Willow must be wrong about that one.”
“Professor Dumbledore warned us to be really careful with it,” said Harry. “Arranged things so we wouldn’t run into ourselves, or anyone else. People meeting themselves is supposed to have resulted in some really awful things happening.”
“I guess that could be pretty freaky.”
“Okay, so you’re the Key, and you’re not really sure what you do, or how you do it,” said Harry.
“That about sums it up…plus you can’t tell anyone about it.”
“I’m a terrible liar.” Harry smiled at her. “If I’m supposed to tell Ron I was making out with you in here, maybe we should make it so I don’t have to lie about that.”
Dawn slid herself closer to Harry and kissed him. “Mmm, good idea. I don’t want to have to lie to Hermione and Ginny either.” Their arms went around each other.
Hermione and Ginny were asleep when Dawn got back to their room. Something that Dawn was very thankful for. She didn’t want to explain how her clothes and her hair got into such a disarranged state. She slipped quietly into their bathroom to get ready to go to bed herself.
When she emerged from the bathroom she saw that the candles had lit, and both Hermione and Ginny were sitting up in their beds. They were looking at her expectantly. Dawn just looked back.
“Well?” asked Hermione.
“Well what?” asked Dawn.
“Well, how’d it go with Harry?” asked Ginny. “We want to hear everything!”
“We weren’t doing anything,” said Dawn.
“You weren’t doing anything until nearly three in the morning,” said Hermione. “That’s a lot of not doing anything.”
“Oh gosh, is it that late?” Dawn stifled a yawn. “I need to get to bed.”
“Not until we get the scoop on what you were doing with Harry.”
“Okay, we spent the last couple of hours making wild passionate love with each other,” said Dawn. “Happy now?”
Ginny looked shocked. “You didn’t!”
Dawn grinned. “No, we didn’t. A lot of kissing and groping, but no actual lovemaking.”
“So…do I need to tell you about the birds and the bees?” asked Hermione.
“No,” said Dawn. “Muggles know all about that stuff too. Where do you think little Muggles come from?”
“Umm…Madam Pomfrey teaches a class to the third year girls…about how not to have any…surprise little witches or wizards,” said Hermione. “Did anyone mention that to you during your catchup?”
“Uh…no,” said Dawn. “That seems to be one that got skipped.”
“Maybe you should go have a talk with her,” said Hermione. “Before you go doing anything…irrevocable. Magical contraception is much more convenient than the Muggle methods.”
“You know about those?” asked Dawn.
Hermione grinned. “Mum gave me the Talk when I was twelve, and she found out that my two best friends were both boys. Of course, I’d already read all about it.”
Harry and Dawn sat facing each other on the floor in Ginny’s training room. They had moved their meditation sessions to here, after Harry started to work on wandless magic. Professor Dumbledore didn’t want anyone outside of Harry’s closest friends knowing about that yet, so he couldn’t do it in the common room.
Nearly all of Harry’s attention was focused on the feather on the floor between them, and the slight currents of magic he was starting to feel around him. He had managed to float the feather a couple of times in the last few weeks, but it always seemed to happen almost by accident. He didn’t know how he had done it. It had just happened. Professor Dumbledore wasn’t discouraged in the least by Harry’s apparently slow progress. He reminded Harry that it had taken Willow—the most powerful practitioner of this sort of magic that the world had seen for over a century—months to develop the ability to levitate small objects reliably.
Dawn’s attention was focused inward, trying to feel the energy of the Key. She had to feel it in order to use it. So far she hadn’t had much luck, and was half convinced that the stirrings of power she sometimes felt within her were just her imagination.
Harry was aware of glowing concentrations in the power he felt around him. He knew that the brightest one was Ginny. The Slayer power within her, combined with her own innate magic formed a bright golden light to his inner eye. He could sense it dancing on the other side of the room, as she went through her workout with Ron and Hermione, and Professor Lupin looked on. He could see the glows from their magic too, not quite as bright as Ginny’s, more reddish. He could see the same reddish glow coming from within himself. His attention moved farther out, beyond the walls of the Room of Requirement. He could see the glows of the other students, and teachers, ranging from dim embers to bright flames.
Harry pulled his focus back to the Room of Requirement, to the glow right in front of him. Dawn’s glow was nearly as bright as Ginny’s, but it was a different colour. Dawn’s was green.
Dawn felt the power within her. She tried to concentrate on it, but it eluded her, always seeming to slip away when she tried to look at it directly. It seemed to float off to the edge of her peripheral vision.
Harry could see Dawn’s glow flickering, flaring for a moment before it faded away. He wanted to nurture it, make it brighter. He reached out toward it.
Dawn felt a surge of power flow from her.
Dawn’s glow suddenly flared to an unimaginable brilliance, so bright it was nearly painful for Harry’s inner eye to look on it. He had to do something to protect himself from it. He reacted by instinct, gathering and channelling that power into the feather he had been trying to levitate.
It sounded to Ginny like a bolt of lightning had struck inside the room. It was too loud, and the flash was too bright to really tell what direction it had come from. She dropped, and spun toward the surge of power that she had also felt, looking for the source of the attack. She saw that Harry and Dawn had both been knocked onto their backs, and there was a black hole about a foot across burnt into the mat between where they had been sitting a second earlier.
Ron, Hermione and Lupin all had their wands out, and their eyes were searching for the threat too. The only thing they could see that didn’t belong in the room was the smouldering hole in the floor mat. They all started to rush toward Harry and Dawn.
Harry and Dawn were pushing themselves back up off the floor. “Oops,” said Harry. He could barely hear himself over the ringing in his ears.
“Oops?” asked Ron. “You did that?”
Dawn looked up at him. “What did you say? Speak up!”
Harry looked at Dawn. “Huh?”
“I said ‘speak up’!” Dawn nearly shouted at him.
“Yeah, well you too!” Harry shouted back.
“Are you two all right?” asked Professor Lupin.
“What?” asked Dawn. “I can’t hear you over this ringing in my ears!”
“Are! You! All! Right?” asked Lupin again, enunciating each word clearly.
“Yeah, except for this ringing in my ears!” said Harry.
Professor Lupin sighed. “I think we better have Madam Pomfrey check their ears,” he told the others.
“What?” asked Dawn.
Professor Lupin gestured toward the door. “Madam Pomfrey!”
“Yeah!” said Harry. “I think maybe she should check my ears!”
They were all back in the Room of Requirement half an hour later. Madam Pomfrey had put some sort of drops into Harry and Dawn’s ears—they hadn’t heard what she called them—and the worst of the ringing had gone away almost immediately.
Lupin looked over his students. “So, now can you tell us what happened?”
Harry and Dawn exchanged a look. “Well,” said Harry, “I was trying to levitate the feather again, and suddenly there was this huge burst of power from something, and I had to do something with it, so I guess I guided it all into the feather, and then…kaboom.”
“Do you know where the power came from?” asked Lupin.
Harry and Dawn exchanged another look. “No idea,” said Harry.
Ginny frowned. She’d felt that surge, and it had a feel to it that she recognized. She hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, but there was a different sort of feel that she got from Dawn than from anyone else, and that surge had been Dawn’s power. She could see that Harry and Dawn both knew it too, but for some reason they wanted to keep it a secret from the others.
Hermione lay back against Ron’s chest in a quiet corner of the Gryffindor common room, enjoying the warmth of his arms around her.
“There’s something going on between Harry and Dawn,” he said suddenly.
Hermione nearly giggled. “Well, yeah. You just notice that?”
“He won’t talk about it with me.”
“Just means he’s a gentleman,” said Hermione. “Gentlemen don’t kiss and tell.” She looked around and frowned at him. “You don’t tell him about everything we do, do you?”
“No! I’m not talking about that!” said Ron. “There’s something else going on between them.”
“You sure you aren’t just a little jealous, because he’s spending time with her, instead of you?”
“No! There’s something up between them that they aren’t telling us about.”
“’Cause, you know, I think that this whole thing between us might be a bit awkward if Harry didn’t have a girlfriend.”
“I’m not talking about that!” said Ron. “I think they know a lot more about what caused that explosion than they’re saying.”
“Well, she does have a lot of experience with that sort of magic,” said Hermione.
“There’s something else,” said Ron. “Something they’re keeping from us, like why Dawn went with Harry for his Occlumency lesson this afternoon.”
“Maybe…but they might have a good reason for keeping it from us, and whatever it is, it seems that Professor Dumbledore is in on it.”
“Like Dumbledore’s little secrets have never caused us trouble before,” said Ron.
|Chapter 47: Interrogations||Contents||Chapter 49: Unlocking the Gates|