Content Harry Potter
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It was a sunny day, which for Scotland in September was as rare as a genuine smile from Professor Snape. Harry was perched on a battlement of the castle. If he'd been visible, people would have wondered why he hadn't yet fallen, but he wasn't visible; he was Disillusioned for the practical reason that he could set and forget the Disillusionment charm, while dragon-style invisibility took too much of his attention when he was working on sophisticated, subtle magic.

His last tutorial with Dumbledore had taken an odd turn, with Dumbledore asking what seemed like rhetorical questions. At the end of that tutorial, over tea and ginger biscuits, Dumbledore had admonished him to "play with your magic and listen to your dragon." The dragon, in turn, had told him to "consider the spider," which was neither helpful nor enlightening, so he'd spent a good amount of time instead quantifying his skills at Legilimency before he returned to "consider the spider."

Distance, it seemed, mattered when it came to Legilimency. The strongest connection was touch, of course, followed by direct eye contact. Without those two strong connections, his ability to listen into other people's mental chatter was fairly hit or miss. As a rule, boys were easier to read than girls. Ron Weasley was ridiculously easy; Harry could tap into his thoughts from across the Great Hall on a good day. Hermione, on the other hand, was practically impossible. If he was touching her, he could sense some of her surface thoughts, but anything that she deemed private would soon be relocated into a portion of her consciousness that was, to Harry, inaccessible. Discussions with Ginny were not at all helpful, as Ginny suggested that perhaps he needed to improve the quality of his contact with that particular subject. "I'm not going to kiss her just to read her mind, Ginny," he'd said with exasperation.

"Oh, and for what reason would you kiss her, Harry?" she'd replied.

"It would have to be bloody important. If Ron ever caught me, I don't think I'd survive, and if I did, you'd be sure to polish me off," he said snappishly.

Ginny had smiled when he'd said that. "Hold that thought, Mr. Potter," she'd said before giving his cheek a kiss and returning to her reading for Potions.

After fleshing out the limits of his Legilimency, he'd returned to "considering the spider." Upon reflection, there was a lot more possible than just the Gossamer Ward. He'd begun the research by recreating a scene from Gulliver's Travels, which involved tying Ron to his bed one evening while he was asleep, something that Ron didn't discover until the next morning. The next experiment involved tacking Seamus to the ceiling with magical threads after he'd lucked into a stash of Fire-whiskey and passed out. This would have been well-received by all in the dormitory, except for the fact that Seamus had started chundering when he regained consciousness. Given the drop from the ceiling to the floor, the spattering was something awful. Neville's book bag had taken the brunt of this lack of control, and for once Harry was glad for all the practical cleaning experience he'd gained at the Dursleys.

A few well-placed hints from Mm'lau led him to his next experiment, which took place on that sunny September afternoon.

Harry smiled as a breeze blew his fringe off of his forehead. He really needed to get a haircut, as he didn't favour the shaggy look that Ron was cultivating this year. Closing his eyes, he let the single strand of spider thread extend down the wall of the castle and across the lawn towards a group of girls. Although they were too far away for him to recognise faces, Harry could tell by the way that they were chattering away that it was Hannah Abbot, Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil. With a nod to the magical spider, he concentrated on landing the thread onto Lavender. The strand landed between her collar and her elegant, pale neck. Harry watched with concern as she brushed her hair off of her collar, but the thread, which was immaterial, was still in place. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He couldn't hear Lavender's thoughts, but he could feel her essence weakly, which was jarring; prior to this the only person he could sense this way was Ginny. The flavour and scent was entirely different, of course, but part of him felt guilty experiencing another woman in this fashion. He justified himself in the notion that he was doing his homework, and he'd have to share the results with Ginny anyway. He hoped that this didn't blow things up, as things on the Ginny front had been too good to believe of late.

He sent out three more spiders, extruding three more strands to join the first. Closing his eyes, he could make out the faintest whispers of Lavender's thoughts. He quickly sent out eight more spiders, instructing them to plait the strands together. The thoughts were now terribly clear:

I wonder if she knows that she whistles when she makes that 's' sound? Do I do that? It's so annoying — I have something witty to say, but this stupid cow just won't stop talking and I don't want to interrupt her just yet.

Harry twiddled with the plait connecting him to Lavender, tapping into a different part of her consciousness until he was seeing what she saw, and hearing what she heard. His senses reeled for a moment, making him glad that he'd stuck himself to his perch with a stout sticking charm before he'd begun this experiment.

"So anyway, Anthony Goldstein is, like, making eyes at me from across the library, so when I finished my charms assignment, I pick up my bag and walk over to his table. 'Anthony,' I say, 'do you want something?' It was kinda funny watching him sweat as he looked up and down between my eyes and my chest. I racked him a bit. 'Anthony, my eyes are up here,' I said. Boy, was he squirming. So, finally, he swallowed three times. I just love watching a man's Adam's apple move, you know, and he asks me if I'm going to Hogsmeade with anyone on the first weekend," Hannah said breathlessly.

"What did you tell him?" Parvati asked.

"I told him that I'd let him know," Hannah replied. "I don't know yet whether or not Terry wants to ask me, so I'm keeping my options open."

"Yeah, right," Harry felt Lavender say, but whatever was said next was lost as Harry broke the connections, feeling somewhat soiled by his voyeurism. He was also somewhat miffed at the mindless gossip he'd just overheard, but he was thankful that he hadn't chanced upon a more embarrassing conversation concerning their amorous adventures, or, worse yet, perhaps a discussion of the relative merits of various methods of feminine hygiene.

He needed a Ginny fix, but by his watch she was still in class. He cancelled the sticking charm and climbed down from his perch, although he remained Disillusioned. He didn't feel like talking to anyone right now. Ginny was in Herbology right now, which meant that she was in one of the greenhouses, or at least she should be there for the next fifteen minutes. Harry jogged across the grounds, taking care to not raise attention to his almost invisible form. Once he found the right greenhouse, it wasn't hard to spot the flash of red that indicated her location within. He scaled the ladder leading to the catwalk at the top of the greenhouse, finding a secure perch, where he sat down, taking several deep, cleansing breaths. He sent out the spiders, a round two dozen this time, plaiting a cord that dropped through a conveniently open window. He could have pierced the glass with the magical thread, but it was easier to visualize the magic without dealing with the illogic of sending something that seemed solid through a solid surface. The spiders dangled the plait in front of Ginny, who was grafting a grapevine. She brushed at her forehead with detached annoyance, unknowingly binding the end of the magical plait to her wrist.

The connection was good. He felt the normal hum of Ginny's surface thoughts while she finished the graft. Quidditch practice, revisions, whether or not her GOTBWL jersey was clean or dirty, her desire to visit the loo and a vague annoyance at the pebble in her left trainer. Time to go for the gold, he thought to himself.

Hey there beautiful. Care to join me behind the greenhouse when you're done with class?

Ginny slammed her shield up and then, after looking around, first with normal vision and then with Farsight, she lowered her shield to half strength.

"Where the hell are you, Potter? You scared the snot out of me!" she hissed.

You haven't answered my question.

"I'm not that type of girl, Harry. Behind the greenhouse is the favourite location for groping Quidditch groupies," she said with a sour expression.

And you know this how?

"I have six older brothers, five of whom played Quidditch. I didn't believe the stories until Ron told me about fighting off the advances of Stephanie Strathmore after winning the Cup last year," she said in a whisper, hoping that no one was watching her talk to herself in the corner of the greenhouse at the end of class.

You don't have to talk out loud. I'm not, after all.

All right, I'll bite. Where are you, Mister Potter?

I'm on top of the greenhouse on the catwalk, but I'm Disillusioned right now.

Using his Farsight, he looked carefully for evidence of an Anti-Apparation ward sweeping through the greenhouse. Finding none, he popped down next to Ginny and cancelled the Disillusionment charm.

"You aren't supposed to be able to do that," Ginny said.

"I won't tell Hermione if you won't," Harry said, flashing a genuine smile.

"So," Ginny said, wrinkling her nose as she traced a finger around the collar of his shirt, "just what were you doing up there that I could hear you inside my head?"

"Playing with spiders — I'll show you how it's done when we eat at Chez Dobby tonight. C'mon, if you're not wild about the idea of canoodling behind the greenhouses, let's go walk down by the lake," Harry said.

"Let's not; it's bound to be crowded on a nice day like today — let's walk down to Hagrid's hut," Ginny countered.

"Hagrid's gone today," Harry objected.

Ginny gave a wicked smile. "I know."

"Let me get this straight — round-heeled scarlet women get groped behind the greenhouses, but virtuous witches take their beaus to Hagrid's when he's not there," Harry observed.

"That's about the size of it, Mr. Potter, unless you'd care to wait behind the greenhouse until Stephanie is free," Ginny said with a straight face.

"Nah, I turned her down when she asked me to the Yule Ball back in my fourth year," he said, shaking his head.

"What possessed you to turn her down?" Ginny asked.

"I certainly had no idea that she had a tarnished reputation," he said, "so I think the fact that she was a head taller than me at the time might have had something to do with it."

"Well now, that would put her most interesting assets at eye level, wouldn't it?" Ginny said.

Harry made a sour face and said nothing.

"Oh, c'mon, you've grown, what, two inches since then?" Ginny asked before releasing a peal of laughter. "Well, it's too late for Stephanie now, you're mine, all mine!"

Harry flashed another smile. "That was lovely," he said. "Say it again."

Ginny gave him an odd look, but she looked him full in the face and said, "You're mine, all mine."

"Now make me believe it," Harry said.

Ginny gave a light growl as she pushed him against a tree along the path to Hagrid's hut. She stood on her toes as she pulled his face to hers, starting with the lightest of kisses.

After a while, he truly believed her.


Copyright © 2005 — J Cornell — all rights reserved.

Drafts of Stories from Sixth Year are available on my LiveJournal page,

Author's notes: Some chapters are what I call "moving the pieces around so that they are in position for the next chapter." I had a lot of that when I was writing TLOS. The magic discussed in this chapter has a place in a number of following chapters, so it has to be introduced somewhere. The purpose of any chapter is to either advance the plot, or tell us something about the characters — I hope that I did a little of both today.

British idiom note: chundering is one of the unfortunate side effects of alcohol poisoning — on this side of the pond we speak about "blowing chunks" or "worshipping the porcelain goddess." Having attended a public, land-grant university, all of my experience of this phenomenon was second-hand, except, of course, for the cleaning up afterwards part.

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