Because of recurring recommendations to rework the first thirty or so chapters we will do exactly that. I will alternate between translating new chapters and re-translating old chapters so expect a reduced rate for new uploads. As chapters 1 and 2 already got a rework a while ago, chapter 3 is the first to get a new translation in the current run and was updated just before this chapter.
Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy
Draco set off before the run, since today was the day of the funeral. He was very cold, asking me if I thought he should squeeze a tear out for the photo, which made me laugh a lot. We were so evil! I asked him not to do it, it would be beneath the dignity of a Malfoy. He could only laugh about it in return and then told me that he and Lucius had been very busy these days to settle Narcissa's inheritance as well. She had possessed the whole estate of her family, because when her parents died Narcissa had inherited everything. Andromeda had been disinherited as unworthy for marrying a Mudblood named Ted Tonks and Bellatrix had been a convict at that time and therefore unable to inherit. Hence, the entire inheritance of Narcissa and her side of the Black family passed to the Malfoys, Draco reported happily.
He thought there was nothing more beautiful and I found it amusing, as I had not considered a financial advantage at all. But I thought it was good; you could never have enough money. I could imagine that it made the Lestranges' blood boil because the situation left them completely out of the equation. So, once again, I had unwittingly killed two birds with one stone.
I was looking forward to this day with mischievous joy and also to the fact that we would go back to the Manor afterwards. Yes, I was glad to see Lucius and Severus. Whatever the reason, but I could feel a joyful tingling inside me and I didn't want to question and dissect it. So I just accepted and ignored it. There were more important things at the moment and I was curious how today's trial would turn out.
I was very excited and curious, because today we would be staging a serious exercise that was necessary to see where we all stood individually. It would be good to test what we all already knew. We had to know which level we had all reached in the short time available. And let's be honest, it would be fun! Thinking about it, I could have jumped into the air in anticipation, but we had to think about a few things first. We protected the cottage from our curses with Protego Totalum, which created a dome-like shield, so we wouldn't burn it down. We didn’t want the Twins to lose their home after all.
All of us wore tight leather battle suits that clung to our bodies like a second skin. The girls, which I counted myself amongst, wore black long-sleeved overalls and the boys black leather pants and long shirts with reinforced vests over them. We all had our hair tied back tightly and were fully armed. If we were seen, some might have trembled with fear, because of our warrior-like appearance and our serious facial expressions only emphasized this impression.
Ron would not participate in the actual fighting. He would protect himself and watch the whole affair from the sidelines. His part would be to think strategically, analytically, and plan, and to record his ideas and objections. In this way, we would slowly introduce him to our way of doing things, and he would make sure that the house was always adequately protected.
Everyone would fight for themselves and the goal was to win!
Today was Saturday. Draco was at the funeral, but everyone else was there. Even the Twins had handed over their shop into Lee's responsible hands today, just to take part in this strategic battle, otherwise Draco would get angry or so they claimed. I didn't believe a word they said, after all, he hadn't said anything to me. They just wanted to show what they could do, that was all, because I hadn't made a compulsion out of it, but their devilish grin made me suspect that they had a plan and probably wanted to test something. Yes, they would be serious opponents as they had learned a lot thanks to Severus and Blaise.
It would be a heated battle, that was clear to me, to all of us, and I was really looking forward to it. We wouldn't take it easy. It was going to be a serious, simulated fight where everyone stood up for themselves, though Daphne would only take part on the fringes of the exercise. She was also expected to fight, but not to win; if someone was hurt too much, she was supposed to fulfill her new vocation and heal the combatant, take him or her away, no matter in which order. Therefore, she would be a passive participant rather than an active one!
That left Astoria, Blaise, the Twins, Harry, and I, who all spread out in the big garden and took our self-chosen places, well hidden behind the many trees, bushes and flowers in full bloom.
I felt, as always, the tension-filled excitement that always seized me when it came to a fight. I remembered when I had sweated blood and water and my hands had become wet with nervousness, but now I was calm and thoughtful. It was amazing how quickly one got used to the adrenaline rushing through their veins and so my breathing was calm and even. There was no question whether we would hurt each other. There were no rules, except that the Death Curse, as well as the other Unforgivable Curses were forbidden, otherwise everything was allowed and also desired. It would definitely get heated and ruthless.
Ron had the instruction to open the game and so I waited anxiously for the shower of red sparks that would mark the start. I had pulled out my white wand and was ready to go, standing well hidden behind the trunk of a thick, old weeping willow whose long branches reached down to the ground and waiting.
Then I finally saw the red sparks rising up into the afternoon sky and a gruesome smile adorned my features as I listened most eagerly and then it started and it went fast, one strike after the other.
Some ferociously cast, fiery spells were loudly spoken, and then I suddenly whirled around the trunk of my tree, as I heard a spell hissing at me from behind through the leaves, missing me by a hair's breadth and instead hitting the trunk of the tree. Part of the bark chipped off and gave me a painful, bloody cut on my forehead as it grazed me there, which I didn't care about. The next second, the whole environment was plunged into an impenetrable darkness that smothered any kind of light. Everything was black and dark, as in the deepest, starless night!
I immediately recognized the ingenious invention of the Twins, of which they had told me with proudly swollen chests. What had they called it? Instant Darkness Powder. Now that everything was allowed, this too was permitted. I did not let myself be stopped. My senses were immediately highly sharpened, as I could see absolutely nothing. Thus, I crept on crouching in absolute darkness, only to non-verbally conjure up a kind of sunglasses and attach them to my face with a mean smile, and then I verbally spoke the Lumos Solem to give it even more power and strength, making day-bright, blinding sunlight broke out of the tip of my wand. I heard heaving, painful wheezing in my immediate surroundings as I saw like some of my adversaries, for now they were, running around blindly and stumbling awkwardly, as the sudden brightness after this all-encompassing darkness hurt their eyes very much.
I aimed at Blaise, who had run in front of my feet and cast a red glowing Stupefy at him, but, and this filled me with pride, it bounced off his Protego and, quick-thinking and reckless, he threw himself into a rose bush. Ouch, that must have hurt, I thought before I moved on, as I stood relatively unprotected. Meanwhile, I returned my eyes to normal.
Colourfully gleaming spells hissed past me and the sky was illuminated by our flashing curses and so I quickly cast a Cave Inimicum on me, which should protect me from my enemies, while a beech tree was blown up with a glowing Confringo. Because of the stray curse that hit it, the tree fell to the ground with a loud crack, so that the earth under my feet trembled, and I could only avoid the big crown of the tree that rushed towards me with a dive.
After I had made that narrow escape, I heard something that made me prick up my ears in the sudden calm after this loud rumbling and so I aimed at a rustling wall of ivy, whispered "Inflexio" and the tangle of vines started moving silently to entwine itself around the hidden person, when a soft squeaking sounded and they tried to fight their way free. A panicked "Diffindo" in Astoria’s voice could be heard, accompanied by hectic wand movements with which she cut the ivy vines, which were entwining around her at an ever increasing rate and robbed her off her cover. At that moment, a bright spell shot towards Astoria from further back and she collapsed on the spot, unconscious. The ivy did the rest and captured her in its foliage, so that she was almost completely lost in the greedy green.
Looking around rapidly, I spotted a red mop of hair disappearing quickly behind a tree - so one of the Twins had taken Astoria down - and I was still crouching behind the large stone that was picturesquely set up in front of the small artificial pond.
I had to leave! At a brisk pace, I made myself invisible and magically silenced my soles, sneaked out and, as I promptly realised, not a second too soon as Blaise yelled "Expulso" and hit my stone, pulverising it. Its dust trickled down on my invisible form. Bloody crap, I fumed. Blaise immediately got struck by a purple-coloured black magic curse in his chest, which made him spit out blood in a high arc and forced him to his knees, then made him vomit less than gracefully and immediately the bindings of a non-verbally spoken Incarcerous wrapped themselves around him. I noticed how Harry became invisible in a flash, still running fast, when Blaise fell back screaming loudly, injured and well wrapped in magical ropes. Well, Harry had done that one on the side, I had to suppress a snigger and left Blaise, who looked rather scratched after his encounter with the roses, behind me.
In the same second, I shot a Reducio at lightning speed towards the tree which a Twin was hiding behind and it shrank into the ground, thus robbing him of his protection in a millisecond, which came as a complete surprise to him. A black magic curse of mine raced immediately after the first spell, unerringly heading for the Twin and hitting him head-on. It grabbed him, hurled him roughly into the air and then he was rammed into the ground with brute force. As the spell threw him to the ground, I heard the crunch of breaking bones and a shrill scream emanated from him just before he finally lost consciousness. I quickly bound him too and then I hurried on in a crouch. One less opponent; I was satisfied, but the duels followed in such a rapid succession that you didn't even get a chance to catch your breath, you only reacted, but it was exhausting.
That meant, I thought, even as I was trying to breathe as quietly as possible, that only one Twin, Harry, Daphne, and I were left in the game. I spotted Daphne at the end of the garden. Her left arm was dangling uselessly, and her Protego Horribilis was building up too slowly around her and a curse hit her. Her body was jerked into the air and she screamed in horror, but by then an Expelliarmus had already hit her, snatched her wand from her and then the red ray of a Stupefy put her out of action. George's cackling laughter echoed in my ears as Daphne hung upside down in the air, motionless, held only aloft by one ankle.
Just the three of us left, I thought succinctly before I felt a great heat in my back. Flames were hitting me and slightly scorching me. I whirled around quickly, did two things at once: I sent a well-aimed Bombarda at my attacker and extinguished the flames with a single swipe of my wand.
Harry jumped away light-footedly when the spell almost hit him. Instead, it grazed his protective shield, which collapsed in a colourful flicker. He quickly rolled into the dense undergrowth of a bush and disappeared. I saw how the turf flew through the air when my Bombarda struck the ground. Hurriedly, with a quick swish of my stick, I fetched a small stone, which I enlarged greatly with a silent Engorgio and made it float around me as protection for me, and then retreated swiftly further into the shade of the branches of the trees. I was breathing calmly, but my heart was beating faster. That had been close, I admitted to myself. I had let myself be distracted, as my burnt hair, the smell of which rose into my nose, proved to me.
A sudden loud, deafening roar arose. The sky shone in a blaze of colour, several colourful sparks rained down and the explosions shook the area. The last Twin had launched his bluff blaster, but I wouldn't let that scare me. I snorted disparagingly.
Then I heard Harry cry:"Serpensortia", and a big, ugly snake broke out of Harry's wand and slithered quickly through the grass towards George. Harry hissed orders to her with his Parseltongue, which sounded really scary and seemed to temporarily unsettle the Twin, who looked already marked by the previous fights. I aimed my wand at the creature with lightning speed and spoke an Incendio, which ignited the conjured snake. In its agony, it opened its sharp, dangerous mouth wide and hissed and writhed painfully, as my fire ate away at its long body. Because of the hot flames, she disintegrated more or less to ashes before our eyes. My Diffindo caught George on the side, made him scream and hold onto the bleeding cut with a pained expression. Harry's shouted "Petrificus Totalus" got him a second later and let him fall back, paralysed.
I knew Harry and I were alone. We were the only ones left; all our opponents were defeated. It would now be a duel: him against me! But unlike back in the Room of Requirement, I would not hold back this time. My stone now whirled around me as fast as a centrifuge to protect me from Harry who stood opposite me with a horribly grinning grimace.
Harry wielded his wand over his head in quick succession and a Confringo raced towards me. I built up my shields with "Protego Maxima, Protego Totalum", as my protective stone already crumbled to dust with a loud bang. It was only thanks to the layers of shields I had created so rapidly around me that I still stood upright and was able to show Harry a cynical, contemptuous grin, while the dust slowly thinned.
I didn't know what I looked like, but I hadn't gotten away fresh and without any wounds. Harry also looked battered: his face was bruised, one side of his hair was singed to the scalp, giving him a strange, asymmetrical look. His battle dress was also cut and torn in several places and I saw blood in one spot or another. I probably looked similarly gruesome, but I did not feel anything at that time.
Even before he could spot me properly in the dust cloud, I fired off my ”Everte Statum”, hitting Harry with this dueling spell, which knocked him back as desired, pushing him far back and pulling the ground from under his feet, but he still confidently cast a spell as he fell before hitting the ground hard. Several huge spiders suddenly swarmed greedily towards me from every corner. I fended them off self-assuredly with an "Aranea Exumai Maxima", which I threw widely. When the curses hit the ugly, hairy beasts, they burst noisily into pieces and sprayed the bloody mucus all over the garden and yes, unfortunately, also on us, as I noticed with disgust.
At that moment, Harry came groaning to his feet but I wasn't far behind and sent an "Os Frangere" at lightning speed at him, which grazed his leg whereupon he buckled with a loud, deep cry of pain, as the beam broke the bones in his leg. I displayed a mean, spiteful smile, because I really liked these black magic spells. At the same time, I was hit by Harry's "Langlock", which I had not been able to avoid.
Instantly and unpleasantly my tongue stuck to my palate and so I was forced to cast my Locomotor Mortis non-verbally. It struck Harry when he was trying to stand up with a painfully distorted face and mercilessly clamped his legs together so that he could no longer move them. Harry cried out again in pain when his broken leg was roughly squeezed and shouted "Diffindo" at me. His Severing Charm grazed my cheek and neck, even though I was whirling around and dodging, and I hissed in pain as I felt it cutting into my skin and warm blood ran down my throat. While still turning, I cast the Geminio silently and then made myself invisible again immediately and seamlessly.
This had been so incredibly fast on my part that Harry had not seen it. It had gone unnoticed that my exact, magic copy was there and I had managed to make myself invisible at the same moment and I took advantage of this by running towards Harry in a slight arc. He had freed himself with "Finite Incantatem" and was now trying hard to get on his feet, visibly gritting his teeth, and then quickly fired a nasty black magic curse on my copy. When my image did not move and the curse hit, so that my copy collapsed, a cheering grin adorned his grimy, dirty and bloody face.
I stepped silently behind him and held my quietly drawn, beloved dagger at his neck - similar to what I had done to Narcissa in the breakfast room - and grinned viciously when I saw and felt him stiffen. I had won and so I became visible again.
"Congratulations, Hermione," Harry said roughly, even though he still had the knife at his throat and wasn't moving. I first performed a Finite Incantatem on myself with my wand and felt my tongue loosen and I quickly moistened it with spit.
"Thanks Harry," I whispered hoarsely but blissfully at his ear. Harry was a serious duelling opponent and this time I had defeated him! It was a beautiful, intoxicating feeling as the endorphins flowed through me.
Now I dutifully put my dagger away. Well, I had to force myself a little bit to let normal thinking take over again, but I pushed it into its sheath. Harry turned around and looked at me with flashing eyes from behind his crooked glasses and a mischievous grin adorned his features. Yes, he seemed truly delighted with what we had all shown and learned.
"Gosh, that was so cool, Hermione, much better than the children's games in the Room of Requirement!" he was very excited, but I knew what he meant; I was also very twitchy.
"Waahh... BOAH! That was awesome! Bloody awesome! Harry, Hermione, are you okay? That was fantastic," Ron said, approaching us with eyes flashing with excitement and looking at us, it seemed to me, with an expression of reverence. "Hey, you guys were incredible. That was sooo, oh... But first we have to heal the others and help them so they don't bleed to death. You all had no scruples... Whoa, fierce," he scratched his head and ran towards the scattered people. Harry and I winked mischievously at each other as Ron's kind of exuberant enthusiasm was just too delicious, but we agreed with him, the others had to be looked after. Harry sat down first as his broken leg gave way more or less like a match under him, and so he slumped down with a gasp and looked around with a tortured expression.
I hurried on. It was clearly agreed: bleeding and dangerous injuries would be healed first and bones, well, they were not life-threatening.
I saw Ron rushing towards Daphne, knowing she was the healer and furthest away, saw him free her, fishing her from the air and awakening her with an Renervate. I dashed over to George who was lying there still motionless not far away. From only a few steps away I already saw the blood running from the straight cut that I had caused with my spell and so I countered the paralysis. I cleaned and healed the shallow cut with an "Episkey" and a "Tergeo", which he endured with loud whining and whimpering. Since I also knew how it could pinch until the wound closed, I spared him from being reprimanded.
Daphne limped to Fred, dragging her foot which had held her full weight in the air for so long and her left arm still dangling quite uselessly by her side. When she reached Fred, who lay sprained on the ground behind the shrunken tree, she had the foresight to leave him unconscious for the time being, first casting a diagnosis spell and then magically set his bones in place with the Ferula charm with a loud cracking sound. I saw the foresight of her action, because waking Fred up so that he would experience the pain of the resetting and splinting consciously was really not necessary.
Ron had freed Astoria from her foliage prison during this time and had awakened her from unconsciousness. Both then hurried quickly towards the still wheezing and blood-spitting Blaise, towards whom I too was now moving next. A worried Astoria loosened his restraints and wanted to help him, when Daphne also came along limping, sank down to her knees next to him exhaustedly and skillfully cleared his airways with an Anapneo and, immediately, he breathed more easily. Without delay, she began a chant to lift the black magic curse and stop the internal bleeding.
Everyone else now dragged themselves over to where we were gathered. Ron helped Harry and Fred to reach us and Daphne turned to her boyfriend first, from whom she now elicited a bloodcurdling cry of pain when she mercilessly splinted his leg with a "Ferula". He didn't faint, but he turned frighteningly pale and sweat glistened through the dirt and blood on his upper lip.
Since we, the fighters, were all more or less exhausted, Ron cast strong Tergeo and Episkey spells on the injuries and breaks with the wand of one of his brothers which suited him quite well. He did it very effectively and was astonished himself how impressively his spells healed, looking at it all with huge, wide open eyes. I felt the cuts on my face and neck closing and even Blaise's rose scratches healed clearly visibly. It was also beautiful when the blood and mud on our faces disappeared thanks to Ron's Scourgify.
Now that we had been cleaned and healed to some extent, Daphne pulled out the ointments and potions that were meant to replenish us. She dripped diptam on Harry and me - indeed, I was more than scorched by the flames at the back of my head, they had burnt me to the scalp - and I sighed in relief as the throbbing burning stopped almost immediately and my burnt skin regenerated. All of us who had lost hair would magically grow it back, but first the wounds had to heal completely. Therefore, some of us looked very strange; especially Harry elicited a few amused giggles.
You could also see Harry's skin on the left side of his head, which was covered with blisters, healing almost in slow motion. The wound looked like an injury that was weeks old when the healing scab formed.
For the slashed George, Daphne applied murtlap essence. He hissed as the cooling ointment touched him and the incision I had healed completely receded to a reddish scar, leaving him fully recovered.
Now I healed Daphne's arm, from which the muscles had been vanished. Not a nice spell, but easily restored. She bravely bit back any sound as I performed the spell, but the trembling that ran through her body could not be masked. It was painful when the strands of muscles and ligaments were conjured back, but it was quick. She didn't let that distract her, though. After a few deep breaths, she confidently distributed the potions to everyone, from the Blood Replenishing Potion to a modified Skele-Grow.
We all drank it obediently and contorted our mouths in disgust; it simply tasted horrible. The modified potion didn't make new bones grow, but accelerated the healing of the broken old ones rapidly and so I saw how Fred and Harry looked spellbound at their body parts, which seemed to be tingling heavily, judging by the way they pressed their hands on them.
Fred was also given a potion to reduce swelling, because thanks to me he had broken several ribs and dislocated his shoulder. The force of the spell had compressed his body and caused it to swell, so the potion went to work immediately and he closed his eyes, exhausted, but relieved when he was able to breathe better and more freely.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I feel like I’m in a military hospital," said Astoria, who distributed water to each of us, which everyone gratefully accepted. We all sat here in a circle in our tattered and torn battle dresses and looked very dishevelled, but we were all quite proud of our performance and so we smiled despite our little ailments. I let a sad look roam over the garden, which no longer had anything in common with the idyllic, English landscape garden of the recent past, looked at the felled, blasted and singed trees, the meadow, which had turned into a muddy puddle. It all looked terribly battered.
"Quite right, although I would rather call it a battlefield," I agreed with her, exhausted, and drank greedily. Everyone turned their gaze to the carnage we had caused and I could already see the spirit of renewal shining through in some of them. I was sure that the next time I would come here it would look the same, because what was magic for?
"Wow, guys, that was incredible, fantastic, intense! Could I as well, so... well, you know," Ron exclaimed eagerly and euphorically swung his arms through the air. I'm glad he was so excited about our performance.
"Ron, is it possible that you're trying to ask in a very cumbersome way whether you can learn to fight like this?" Blaise now wanted to know. Ron just nodded eagerly and with an awestruck glimmer in his eye.
"So you liked it then?" The Twins chuckled and both immediately grimaced because they were not yet completely healthy. When I imagined how they had felt about pain until recently and now saw how they endured real pain relatively stoically, I was impressed by their development. Well, but who did not learn one way or another what pain was and meant under Severus' expert fingers, I dared to ask myself cynically.
"Yes, I can say that with all my heart, YES! That was unbelievable... so awesome! I thought Harry had taught us a lot at Hogwarts, but this, this is... wicked! You should have seen how Harry and Hermione fought! So intense!" The words bubbled out of Ron. Visibly delighted, he outright gushed in ecstasy. "It was... I can't describe it. I'm thrilled and she took him out with a dagger! It's so..."
Everyone looked at me now and I saw the knowing, amused glint in their eyes regarding the fact that I had won. But who was surprised at my victory? Even though Harry had proved to be an amazing opponent, impressively quick to apply the black magic curses and use his new skills and knowledge, I had been in training much longer than he had and was also more battle-hardened.
Harry and I had a different style of fighting and I think that was probably the fault of Dumbledore and Voldemort, who had made their mark on us forever with their show at the Ministry. It had been a duel unlike anything we were able to do, but we were working on it. I had already tried to effectively incorporate the transformation spells through the stone I had spelled to protect me, and Harry had turned his attention to summoning animals. Yes, we had reached a new level in dueling. For that, we toasted each other with satisfaction.
"Tell me, is it possible that the Twins' suits look less tattered and ripped than ours?" Blaise now asked thoughtfully. The Twins grinned devilishly at each other.
"Speak up, you little devils," Harry demanded determinedly after he had seen the Twins' devious look.
"Well, we wanted to test that... And yes, Blaise is right, we took less damage," George grinned very broadly now and showed his whole row of teeth very proudly while he high-fived Fred.
"Exactly, so let us share our ingenuity with you: we are planning for the shop to make wizards' hats, gloves and capes the same way we made our battle suits! We weaved several shield spells into them; it was bloody hard work... Yeah, don't look so disbelieving, not cast... WOVEN! That's the great part, but unfortunately also the damn hard and time-consuming part. But now they hold off smaller and medium hexes and curses. In the best case they can even bounce back," Fred explained with a grin and we all showed our respect for their brilliance, which it really was. WOVEN! What kind of ideas these two always came up with, but the concept was incredible. I was always delighted by the genius of the two.
"What? And you want to adopt that for business?" Harry echoed in amazement.
"No, not quite. The rebound is only for the suits, but the rest, in a milder form, yes. The weaving won't work out, that would make things too expensive, but we're working on a spell that does the weaving. It won't be as effective, but it'll be enough so we can sell it. It's really very hard to weave, we were working on it for a long time! What do you think?" they were eager and proudly showed off their fairly undamaged suits.
"Well, I think it's great, when I see what our suits look like," I said and then offered: "You will show us and then we will weave the protection into our suits ourselves!
"What?! Hermione, no, we can't give away trade secrets to everybody!" the two shouted indignantly in unison.
"Okay, then will you trust Harry and me, so that the four of us can do it together?" I wanted to know, even though the others puffed up in offence.
"Yes, but only you two," Fred said defiantly.
"Well, it's settled then," Harry and I nodded at the same time.
"But why are you afraid?" I asked curiously.
"Now imagine, someone enters into the mind of one here! Then he knows everything," Fred said and I looked up alarmed. I had forgotten that; my spell prevented anyone from talking and it helped if you didn't want to remember, but with a genius Legilimens like Dumbledore, Severus, or the Lord, well, my spell would be too weak and unlike with Rita, whose mind was also protected, I had only taken the most effective protection for my comrades-in-arms, but not the one that also blocked the mind because I had wanted to grant them their free thoughts. But well, they were right.
"Oh-oho... Fred, don't be so forward! You're giving our most beautiful one here a stomachache," George said and grinned stupidly, as I thought in annoyance.
"Well, Hermione, we're neither stupid nor intellectually challenged, and you don't have to orchestrate everything down to the last detail," Fred said very seriously, and everyone looked at him in amazement "...so when Snape buried you underneath himself like that - suck it up, Ron - well, when he tested you in Occlumency, we both knew immediately that we had to be able to do it, too," Fred explained when George interrupted him.
"Of course we are far from being able to take you on, but we can block someone and keep our secrets quite well. We can't do proper Occlumency, we will leave the field to others, but the minimum we can do," they were visibly proud and I was amazed. The others stared at them as well.
"Well, guys, you never cease to surprise! Hard to believe you're Gryffindors," Blaise said teasingly while the girls nodded.
"Yes, I also have to say, Fred, George, that you are always so thoughtful, so farsighted... Thank you, my Red Devils," I was really moved and both gave me a loving look.
"But what about you?" I wanted to know about Blaise and the girls.
"Us? ... Well, first of all you have to remember that we are Slytherins, we grow up different. From childhood on, feelings don't play a big role in our lives, you hide and conceal them and we do the same unconsciously with our thoughts and that's the basis of this art. We can't do it and we don't learn it, it happens unconsciously," Blaise explained and Daphne nodded
"He's right," she used the chance Blaise gave her and replied, "we have good groundwork and since I started practising in bed with Harry every night, I've been working on it intensively and now I'm exercising diligently. Astoria has joined me, but we want to limit ourselves to just blocking as well, because the other part is too hard for me! What about you?" she asked her sister who nodded and took over.
"That's right. Even though it is not difficult for me to learn it consciously now, I will not strive for true mastery, the subject is too boring for that."
The Slytherins made me speechless by tackling the issue so voluntarily.
"Exactly, and I seemed to have the same idea as the Twins. When I witnessed that with Snape, I also started to arm myself, because honestly, it is nobody's business what's going on in there," Blaise expressed his opinion earnestly, tapping his forehead.
"Wow," Harry looked around speechlessly.
"Yeah, wow. Now I'm the only possible leak... What if Dumbledore screws with my head?" Ron exclaimed sheepishly and we all looked at him with concern.
"Well, you'll have to learn, little brother. It's not so hard-" George said.
"Yeah, but Harry has had so much trouble," Ron interrupted him with a doubtful expression.
"Ron, that's different. Harry has the Dark Lord in his mind. Not that Occlumency is easy, but Harry's big problems stem from something else. You should not choose him as an example here!" Harry made a disgruntled face at my words.
"That's right, we'll all do it! When Ronniekins comes to Hogwarts, he'll be able to protect his mind. Be brave, little brother. Are you a Gryffindor or are you a soft-hearted coward?" the Red Devils teased him real bad and Ron glared at them angrily.
"I'll show you," hissed Ron now, clenching his hands in fists.
"That's good! I'll let you surprise me and you will now take part in the training," I patted Ron on the shoulder.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm hungry," Ron remarked and stood up. We all looked at each other, some of us burst into loud laughter, "WHAT?" he asked perplexed and scratched his arm.
"Nothing, little brother, nothing." Fred wiped his eyes.
"Go on, we'll lift ourselves up slowly," George said to Ron with a shooing gesture and the younger brother left obediently.
"Oh, boy, HE's hungry? From what, watching?" Blaise shook his head and we could only silently agree with him. Ron was too funny!
After a precise analysis and evaluation, thanks to the very precise data Ron had provided so enthusiastically, I came to a conclusion. We wouldn't need to practice any more on the ruthlessness and radicalness of our Cottage Connection; they all hadn't held back. I would say, with real enemies they would have had no problems trying to take them out for good, which was great and so I was more than satisfied. Soon we should also practice the Unforgivable Curses so that they would be able to use them in exceptional situations because to shy away from them in an emergency would be the wrong decision but that wasn’t urgent yet. I would instruct Blaise to practice with them on rats, mice, and spiders; that should lower the natural inhibition thresholds after some time.
The Twins were a huge asset with their inventions, but they had also done well with their lively nature. Blaise had also done well and even Astoria and Daphne had scored a few hits before they were eliminated. Considering that the girls had started from scratch this was more than acceptable. Also, Astoria was by far the youngest among us, for which she had done really well.
And Ron? Well, I guess we had definitely gotten Ron on our side. If one managed to arouse his unrestrained enthusiasm, a lot was possible with Ron and to see what we could do, what we were capable of, seemed to have convinced him completely. That he wanted to fight and that he was aware that everything was heading for war, he had already affirmed before; on this point, today's exercise had probably been exactly what he had hoped for. At long last, he too was able to progress, because let's be honest, the DA at that time had appealed to him very much and had taken him further. He also was slightly miffed that we didn't learn this anywhere else, not even at Hogwarts - that the adults left us standing in the rain like that - and he threw himself into the training with gusto.
He immediately began weight training and was a fanatical runner from then on, but he left us really speechless at how fast and good he was at Occlumency, and he certainly was the most shocked by how well he was at this so difficult and complex area of magic. I suspected it had to do with his inherently structured mind. Here, his chess playing habits came to the surface again and his talent and proficiency in it. Anyone who was good at a strategic game like chess had to be good at Occlumency as well, since a straightforward structure in the mind was also in demand there. The fellowship in the cottage did Ron a great deal of good after he thawed out and managed to contain his choleric temperament and slowly digest the constant shocks. It was good for him to get recognition after it became clear where his strengths lay and here they were nurtured.
He was accepted by everyone as well as by Harry and me and I personally felt as if the Twins and Ron were just getting to know and appreciate each other for the first time. Ron recognized that the Twins were not only the jokers who had only nonsense in their heads and his brothers both saw that Ron was not as stupid as they had always wanted to see him. Even though they were not yet ready to let him in on their biggest secret, they came much closer as siblings and we protected the secret of the Twins and waited until Ron would be let in by them. So it turned out that the exercise had been a good idea and we had learned a lot that day.