Some Slytherins change their minds about attacking Harry's friends; some don't. Dumbledore targets Hermione, so someone targets Dumbledore.
After dinner that Monday, Harry and his friends were working on homework in the library. Neville was about to elbow Harry to get his attention when he saw that Harry was already eyeing the trio lazily making their way in their general direction.
“Potter,” Tracey Davis said softly in greeting a few minutes later.
Harry wondered if she was indeed the speaker for herself, Greengrass, and Zabini, or if she had been chosen because she was dainty, cute, and apparently harmless. “Davis,” he acknowledged.
“We’ve never had a direct problem with you,” Tracey went on. “The same is true of a majority of Slytherins.”
“A bare majority, perhaps?” Harry suggested.
“Perhaps,” she had to acknowledge. “A group is emerging which had . . . different opinions of you and some of your friends. Recent events seem to be getting them to look in other directions. One would like to speak with you. She’s three aisles over, holding a book on dragon flowers.”
Harry nodded, and the Slytherin trio moved away, splitting up as they did so. Harry waited twenty seconds, and then stood.
Harry was slightly surprised to see that it was Millicent Bulstrode waiting for him. “Bulstrode.”
Millie sighed. “Lord Potter.” Harry’s eye brows went up at her use of the archaic title; few used it unless they were trying to claim something, like Voldemort. “Look,” she said softly, “I don’t like you, what you stand for, or your friends, especially Weasley or Granger. Still, while Slytherin is supposed to be the House of Ambition, it’s also supposed to be the House of the Cunning.”
“And obviously you, or someone who supports you, is working Hogwarts.” She held up her hands, and displayed where there were still small faint red marks from where she had been nailed to her bed frame, as they were still healing. “I’m glad you’re not denying it.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I did,” Harry said with a shrug.
“That’s for sure! In any event, I may not be the brightest person around, but I know when I’m outclassed, and we are certainly outclassed. I know that if whoever had blown by Greg and Draco had come from another direction, then Pansy and I might have had our joints broken as well. Whoever is doing this isn’t playing.”
“And your gang was just ‘playing’ when you beat Ron and Hermione half to death?” Harry snarled.
Millie swallowed nervously. “Point taken. So, I’m retiring from the game or the field of battle or whatever the hell you want to call it. I have to tell you that if asked to collect information for Draco or whoever, I will, and I’ll even give them an alibi.” She swallowed nervously. “I’ll also send you reports of everything, asked or not.” She held out a folded parchment, her hands shaking.
Millie almost wet herself when she realized Harry was pointing a wand at her. She gulped as sparks came out and hit the parchment.
“If that parchment had been a trap, you would have lived to regret it . . . but not for long,” Harry said tonelessly.
Millie nodded her understanding. To cover for herself, she said, “That has everything I know about what’s going on.”
“I’m sure Malfoy still thinks he the Dark Lord’s golden child,” Harry mused. “What about Parkinson and Goyle?”
“Greg’s even more worried than I am,” Millie admitted. “Vinnie’s crippling and then his death hit him hard, as they had been raised like twins. Plus, he had never really been hurt, and now he’s bit hurt twice. He doesn’t want it to happen again. His father is at loose ends, since Mister Malfoy was killed, and has just told Greg to keep his head down and not to burn any bridges. Pansy . . . Pansy is torn between staying with Draco, maybe even pushing him further along, or trying to get you interested.”
“Discourage her on both counts,” Harry said coldly. “And if Hermione or Luna are harmed in any way, I will suggest that what happened these last times should look like pats on the head.”
“If you’re serious about Lovegood, you should know Pansy and her buddy Marietta, from Ravenclaw, plan on hitting her soon if she goes traipsing around the castle right before curfew again,” Millie blurted out.
“Are they stupid?” Harry asked, gesturing at Millie’s healing hands.
“Yes, plus they’ve somehow convinced themselves that this wouldn’t be seen as an attack on your friends, since she’s a Ravenclaw.”
Harry sighed. “How soon?”
“Any time this week,” Millie answered, gesturing at the parchment, which had included that information.
“Including tonight?” Harry asked. Millie nodded. Harry frowned and asked, “Isn’t this Marietta some friend of Cho’s?”
“She is, but she’s been Pansy’s friend longer, since they were toddlers.”
Harry seemed to blur before Millie’s eyes, and then she was looking deep into Harry’s cold eyes. “Thank you,” was all he said, though, before he turned and left.
Millie hurried to the girl’s toilets, just managing to make it before she lost all control. She had once been taken by her father and Walden McNair when they went ‘hunting,’ using the Killing Curse on rabbits and the like. She wondered if Harry’s eyes had always been the color of the Killing Curse, or just when they glowed in anger, as they had that night.
Luna hesitated before walking through a rather dark and lonely intersection of corridors. She had never felt fear walking the corridors before. She shivered as a toneless voice whispered in her ear. “Walk quickly and without fear, and do not look back.”
Luna looked in the direction, which was of course empty, and mouthed, “Yes, Harry,’ without making a sound.
Luna strode forward, and only heard, “Grab h. . . .” She merely kept going as she did every second or third night, whenever the whispers and comments in the Common Room got even to her.
All heads of House had ways of taking a head count at curfew. Snape’s position had always been that if anyone caught his students, they deserved whatever punishments they received, especially from him. Therefore, when the counters in his office showed one female was out late, he did nothing, as it was not time to patrol yet.
Flitwick, however, went to investigate. For an instant, before he fully comprehended what he saw, he was appalled. When he realized what had happened, he managed to recover a bit. He was so startled that he did not notice the various ‘notice-me-not’ charms which had been put up and aimed directly against the patrolling aurors.
During apparation, a person might ‘splinch’ – ie apparently leave part of themselves behind or send part of themselves to a different destination. It was painful, but otherwise not harmful. In reality, the person was still whole, but occupying different spaces. If one was not put back together correctly, it would also be very painful.
Pansy Parkinson and Marietta Edgecombe had been totally disassembled via forced apparation and reassembled into two composite people. It would be determined that each had been split into seventy-two pieces.* Even when parts of the same person had been put back adjoining each other, they were just off enough that the parts had to be separated and rejoined. The process of joining them back together properly would have to be done with the person fully aware and cooperating.
It would take some three hours of hard work from Flitwick, McGonagall, Snape, Dumbledore, Hooch, and Pomfrey to put the pair back together again. Each had also had the statement, “I will not bring harm to others” etched into their skin on the backs of their hands and magically healed so that the scars showed. It would take a few weeks of treatment to repair that as well.
Neither would admit to what they had been up to, but neither dared claim innocence either.
Snape had managed to read their intentions as they had been put back together, and told the other staff they had been planning on attacking Luna Lovegood and defacing her with the same types of acid which had disfigured Lucius Malfoy. Neither had seen their attacker, and the acid was now missing. Some discreet questioning and Legilimency the next day revealed that Harry had been with witnesses the entire time. Luna had claimed no knowledge, and both Snape and Dumbledore had enough prior experience with her to know that trying to read her mind would yield no facts, only powerful headaches.
Snape did notice that Millicent Bulstrode had suddenly become a very quiet wall flower, but thought that was because of the attack.
*Think little pieces – each hand would be divided into 14 finger parts plus the hand, for example.
“Hermione? What’s wrong?” Harry asked the following afternoon. Usually she was in the library before dinner, not on the way to the common room, her eyes red.
Hermione sniffled, and said, “The Headmaster. . . .”
“The Headmaster what?” Harry asked, confused. Hermione just sniffled again. “Did he hurt you?”
Hermione shook her head. “He tried . . . he tried. . . .”
With a look of outrage, Harry asked, “Did he ‘touch’ you?”
That made Hermione blink. Then she shook her head, “No, besides, from all the stories, he’d be more likely to try and ‘touch’ you than me.”
Hermione pulled herself together. “No, on one level, what he was basically saying was that wizarding culture is so different from the Muggle that I would have to learn to shun the Muggle-lifestyle. Not that Muggles are bad or anything. . . .”
“Some of my best friends are Muggles, but I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one?” Harry suggested.
“Basically. Plus he said he could find some summer programs for me on the continent during the summers – which would get me away from you as well as my parents, although he didn’t say that.” Hermione looked Harry in the eye. “He was also still trying to paint you as ‘going Dark’.”
“I really think he must have been seriously tempted in that direction, to come down so hard on you, while trying to give all the Junior Death Eaters fourth and fifth chances.”
“Probably,” Harry agreed. “And?”
“And he was trying to use Legilimency the whole time. At the end, he brought his wand out. I screamed, and he was so startled I got away.”
Harry growled, and then said, “We can’t do much to the manipulative old bastard right now, but I think it’s time to at least partially declaw him a bit.”
Harry gave Hermione a hug, which made her feel a bit safer.
"Ah, Severus," Dumbledore said with sympathy the next Sunday morning. "I trust your meeting with Tom was not unduly stressful?"
"Amazingly, it was not," Snape admitted. "He is as puzzled as you and the Ministry about these assaults, and he is worried about the new player on the field even more since the failed attack on the students in Hogsmeade."
Dumbledore's eyebrows went up in surprise. "You are no longer puzzled?" he asked.
"I am, but not as much as you," Snape stated, almost smugly. "If you would loan me your pensieve? As you know, whenever I return from such a meeting, I examine my memories for blocks, and I came up with two interesting such blocks, which I have at least partially dealt with."
With a gesture, the door to the cabinet the pensieve was stored in opened. Snape walked over and added two memories. He then gestured Dumbledore to join him. What Dumbledore saw was first Snape questioning Millicent Bulstrode. Then another memory intruded, which Dumbledore recognized as coming from Legilimency.
"Stop!" Snape commanded, and the memory halted.
Dumbledore studied the blurred image of Harry. "What does it mean?" the Headmaster asked, puzzled.
"I have no idea," Snape admitted. "However, unless I see other evidence, I take this to demonstrate that Potter had something to do with that splinch-merging of Parkinson and Edgecombe. I think he’s communing with someone."
"Very likely indeed," Dumbledore had to admit. "Why didn't you bring this to my attention before now?"
"Wait until you see the next memory," Snape told him.
The next was a very confused set of memories, obviously interfered with.
"I don't understand," Dumbledore said.
"I spent all this morning, trying to piece things together," Snape told him. "Basically, it shows my showing you that memory of Bulstrode’s sometime last week, you having me show it to McGongall last Friday, and then our confronting Potter that night. Then it ends, having been fully, instead of partially, erased."
Dumbledore was flabbergasted. Someone had dared attack HIS memories?
"There was an aural addendum, in a disguised voice, advising me to tell no one, and to leave Potter alone."
Dumbledore managed to say, "And yet you're telling me."
Dumbledore did not like the smirk on his subordinate's face. "I decided the risk should be taken, if only to see what happens. Perhaps you should search your memory?"
"I should indeed!" Snape left, to allow Dumbledore the deep meditation needed to scan his memories for blocks.
An hour later, Dumbledore was awoken when someone went past his guardian. "Come in!"
A troubled Severus Snape came in and looked at Dumbledore.
"Ah, Severus," Dumbledore said with sympathy. "I must have dozed off. I trust your meeting with Tom was not unduly stressful?"
A very shaken Snape said, "He is very worried about the new player, after the death of Malfoy and the others."
“As am I," Dumbledore admitted. "Any luck getting close to Nagini?"
"Not yet. If I might be excused? It has been a very long two days."
"Of course," Dumbledore agreed. "Perhaps you should have some hot chocolate."
"I just might," Snape said, and then he hurried from the room. He considered the additional message which had been added to his memories -- 'This is your last warning. Next time, I start erasing more thoroughly. And remember this: Hogwarts loves me more than she does Dumbledore, and certainly more than she does you.'
“You wanted to see me, Professor Snape?”
Snape regarded ‘the-Boy-Who-Lived’, who some of the students were starting to call ‘the Chosen One’. Finally, Snape said, “Someone is playing a very dangerous game.”
“I would think there are many dangerous games going on in and around Hogwarts, never mind the rest of Wizarding Britain,” Harry retorted. “Which one in particular are you thinking of?”
“Someone has not only Obliviated myself and Professor McGonagall at least once, but the Headmaster at least twice.”
Harry was impassive. “You don’t say.”
Snape scowled. “Look, Pot. . . err, Mister Potter. . . .”
“Harry is fine in private, if you wish, Professor.”
Snape shook his head, trying to clear it. He gave up after a few seconds. “Look, Harry. . . .” Snape snorted. “Does that sound as odd to you as it does to me?”
“Probably,” Harry agreed, smiling slightly.
Snape sighed and continued, “Look, Harry, I don’t know how involved you are, but this has to concern you, since whomever Obliviated us did not want McGonagall or the Headmaster to know about your conversation with Bulstrode.” He frowned. “You blurred in it, and even replaying the memory in a Pensieve, we could not understand what was happening.”
“One possibility; that memory was not the real cause of the Obliviation, but a red herring of some kind.”
Snape thought about that, and then said slowly, “It is possible, but I cannot feel it likely without further evidence.” He glared at Harry. “Do you have a suggestion as to why I have been allowed to keep those memories, if a bit buried?”
“Perhaps the alleged blurring. . . .”
“I know what I saw!”
Harry shrugged. “Perhaps it was interfered with.” Snape just rolled his eyes. “In any event, perhaps you need to know about Bulstrode’s offer, if nothing else.”
“And the Headmaster?”
Harry’s eyes bored into Snape’s. “How concerned has he really been with the welfare of the Slytherins, never mind the rest of the students? I mean as individuals. He seems to have allowed them a lot of rope, but not to overly care if they used the rope to rescue themselves or hang themselves.”
Snape considered that and admitted, “There may be some truth to that.”
“I’m glad you asked me to come. I need to talk to you in any case.”
Snape tried to glare at Harry, but could not quite pull it off. “What else do you want from me?”
“Dumbledore hasn’t told me much of anything,” Harry replied. “I don’t care what the Order is up to. I do need to know what Voldemort might be planning.”
Snape thought for a moment, but then nodded. “First of all, he is still trying to figure out a way to get to the Prophecy. He is convinced that since you have learned Occlumency, that is the only thing stopping him from influencing you directly. He has me researching a potion which would lessen your resistence, but so far I have found nothing which would likely work.”
Harry nodded, and Snape continued. “He is confused, as we all are.”
“Potter, you could not have trained yourself to do all this damage. It’s barely conceivable that you could be doing all that is being done here by yourself.”
Harry grinned and said, “Okay, how about this. I escaped the Order guard because wizards are too stupid not to fall to some very simple Muggle strategies. I tried to disable Voldemort’s sentry, but killed him by accident. I fled to Hogwarts, where I discovered that she is fully sentient, but had been crippled by Slytherin’s Chamber, which I neutralized when I killed the basilisk. She trained me.”
Snape considered for a moment and said, “That doesn’t fit all the facts.”
“How about this, then? I was rescued by, well, pick a group or two or three: International hit wizards; Druids from North America; a coven of vampires; the Magical Mafia; an ancient order of immortals; Muggle mutants with strange powers; a hidden group of free elves who want to liberate their brethren; a coven of prophesying shopkeepers; people or beings from another dimension; some group of actual gods; the Pacific or North American technomages, the Muggle intelligence service of any country you might think has an interest; Fate herself; the goblins,” Snape shuddered at that thought, “or whomever. They can’t or don’t want to get directly involved but they trained me.” Harry grinned, and added, “How about a time-traveling me, and I am actually a merged being with the power of both?”
“Merlin help us if THAT one is true,” Snape muttered.
“In any case, -Hogwarts is fully sentient, and decided that she liked the new me when I snuck in during the summer with some of my mentors to render the basilisk into potion ingredients.” Harry scowled. “I was quite surprised to only find the skeleton.”
Harry glared even harder at Snape, who defended himself, “The Headmaster had Fawkes fly me in right after you left school after your second year to render it down. The skeleton was aging, to allow the magic to settle down. . . .”
“I conquered it; it was mine by right of conquest. How much did that cost me?” Harry demanded.
“A few hundred thousand Galleons,” Snape admitted. “The Order will be well-funded.”
“Fuck the Order,” Harry snapped. “They don’t ever seem to take any action. In any event, what is Voldemort up to? I won’t give you another chance to help me.”
Snape was about to sneer and demand to know what Potter thought he could do to him. He stopped himself, as the evidence was either Potter could do quite a bit to him, or at least have it done. “The Dark Lord is planning something big, but since it isn’t supposed to concern Hogwarts or Hogsmeade, I am out of the loop. If I find out, I will inform you . . . after I inform Albus.”
“Fair enough,” Harry agreed. “Do you think your Junior Death Nibblers have learned enough lessons for now?”
“I would hope so,” Snape answered. “I would hope there will be punishments only when they do something.”
Harry nodded. “I am sure none of it is done for the mere pleasure of inflicting pain, or even revenge.”
Snape nodded, thought a bit, and then asked, “Where will you be over the holidays, if I need to contact you?”
“Do I need to stay here?” Harry asked.
“No, but I will need to know how to contact you.”
“I’ll be staying with Sirius, even if Dumbledore keeps refusing to tell me that Headquarters is at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.”
Snape blinked at that. “Then how the h. . . ?” He shook his head. “I refuse to believe you were able to use Legilimency on the Headmaster! And I know you cannot learn the secret through Legilimency on someone who knows the secret!”
“No,” Harry retorted, “you know that YOU cannot do those things.”
“What did you do? Did the Headmaster tell you before you had him Obliviated?”
Harry merely shrugged, smiled, and then touched the nearest wall, and seemed to melt into it, disappearing from sight.