While Harry makes an error, he's not the one who has to pay. Remus and Dumbledore try confronting Harry. Remus also confronts technology.
Chapter X -- no matter what the numbering on site!
Harry looked down at the read-out screen, flipping through the different modes. He had been told that one of Voldemort’s ‘safe houses’ was in use, and had gone to check it out. When he had arrived, he had found eight magical signatures, one of them pushing the top of the power scales, meaning, most likely, Voldemort.
Harry would have loved to have confronted Voldemort, but had to admit that he was not ready to do so, even with some surprise on his side. And, no matter what the surprise factor, he was not going up against Voldemort and seven others, especially as there was a lot of magic being let loose inside the cellars of the old abandoned nunnery.
While deciphering the output, Harry decided that one of the people was being tortured. He was just starting to decide if there wasn’t, after all, something he could do, when the output settled down, showing that the torture was, hopefully, ending.
Less than five minutes later, Voldemort was gone, and ten minutes after that, four of the others disappeared as well.
Harry decided to wait and see what happened next.
Over the next twenty minutes, one figure moved around the structure, and then the bio-rhythm output showed that whomever it was had fallen asleep. Two guards, one of them now asleep, and a prisoner.
Harry decided he had to stage a rescue.
Draco Malfoy was not in any way coherent – he really wasn’t aware of what was going on around him except when his guard entertained himself by flinging a stinger at him just for fun. It therefore took Draco a few moments to process that someone had said something, and that he had not suffered pain immediately before or after.
“What?” he managed to bleat through his dry, cracked lips.
“I said,” stated an odd voice, “you were about the last person I expected to be here. Take this and drink it, idiot.”
Draco was hoping for some sort of restorative potion, but wasn’t about to turn down a canteen of cool water. “More?” he asked, his vision starting to clear. He only now realized that the magical torches were barely burning, and that he could just barely make out the figure before him. In his current state, the figure looked tall and imposing.
“It will automatically refill in about three minutes,” the voice said. “Now you can drink this.”
Draco drank the potion in the vial and immediately felt a little better. “I could have used this first,” he complained, realizing it was a pain potion and restorative.
“You are either a lousy potions student or you have a lousy teacher,” the voice mocked. “You should know that this type of potion works best when you’re hydrated.”
Draco wasn’t sure what ‘hydrated’ meant, but wasn’t up to arguing yet.
“Now, what do I do with you?” the voice mused.
“Save me, of course,” Draco managed to say. He was still trying to process everything that had happened and that was happening.
“Why?” the voice asked. “You’re Draco Malfoy. You’re so Dark that you are of no use to the Light, and apparently you’re so incompetent you’re of no use to the Dark Lord, either.”
The mocking tone was lost on Draco, but not the basic meaning the words. “I am Draco Malfoy, and I order you to save me!” he commanded.
The figure straightened up with a snort. “You really are an idiot, aren’t you?”
“Send me home!” Draco insisted.
“Very well.” The lights came up slightly, and Draco recoiled. The figure before him was dressed in a black hooded robe, and the face was not visible, only a black mask. All that was visible were a large pair of red-glass eye pieces (magical infrared lenses, although Draco would never know that) and a piece of metal where the mouth was, which distorted the voice. “Look at me and think of your house’s location.”
Draco struggled to do so, and then felt the information being lifted from his mind. As he relaxed, he saw one of his torturers bound and unconscious. “Kill him before you send me back,” Draco snarled. “I want to see him die!” There was a moment of silence, so Draco commanded, “Didn’t you hear me, whoever you are? Do as you’re told, or let me do it!”
The figure froze, as if making a decision. Finally, it said, “Very well. On your head be it. You will fully wake up where you just visualized,” the voice told him. “If I were you, though, when you wake up, you should run.”
“Run. For your life.”
Draco never saw the stunner that hit him.
Two hours later, Amelia Bones entered the abandoned nunnery, called there by her aurors. “Walk me through, Shack,” she said.
“We have a lot of ambient magical residue,” Kingsley told her, “and eight distinct magical signatures. Essentially, You-Know-Who, the six escapees, and one Hogwarts student.”
“A student?” That worried her. “Which one?”
Madam Bones scowled. “How. . . .”
“His wand set off the underage magical detectors despite the wards, and as soon as the analysis came through as to what he had used, well, here we are. We would have been here sooner, but the wards prevented us from really understanding what was going on, and analyzing the readouts took some time.”
“Spell it out,” Madam Bones ordered before Shack could once again suggest upgrading the Ministry sensors. They were first-generation technomage creations from the 1920s, and the Wizengamot refused to import any newer creations.
“As best we can tell, by the faint traces and blood, the seven spent some time torturing Malfoy. A very plausible scenario, and certainly typical of these people and the evidence, is that they tortured him, healed him, and then tortured him some more.”
“Then five left, leaving the Lestranges. . . .”
“Which two?” Amelia broke in.
“Rodolphus and Bellatrix,” the auror retorted. “Rodolphus was apparently looking after Malfoy, Bellatrix went to sleep. Rodolphus must have fallen asleep, because I can’t see him being careless enough to allow Malfoy get the drop on him in any other way.”
“And then what?” There had to be more to the story than this to bring her out this early in the morning, even with two of the prisoners being the Lestranges. “How did Malfoy capture them?”
“Capture? He didn’t just capture them, he killed them,” Kingsley stated. “He showed them no mercy, either. He stunned them, trussed them up, and then started their executions. At some point, he ennervated them. He then made an illegal portkey, hit each with a Cruciatus, and left. It was this, plus the other spells, that got us here. He must have realized that, unless he was way out of it by then. We’re trying to trace the portkey now. They should have a general direction at least soon.”
“Stop making me ask,” Amelia snapped, “or do I have to see for myself?”
“You don’t want to see, but you might have to,” Kingsley answered. “He blood-eagled Rodolphus.”
“He what?” Bones had heard the term, but couldn’t remember what it meant.
“He stripped the pair, then he stretched Rodolphus out, cut through his chest and separated the ribs from the breastbone, and then opened the ribs out, exposing the lungs. Then he cut through the abdominal wall, so his guts spilled on the floor.”
Amelia swallowed nervously, glad she had not had breakfast. “And Bellatrix?”
“He impaled her.”
“The hard, fast way,” Kingsley answered. “He took a six foot piece of splintery timber, sharpened one end, and sent it up her back end and out her mouth. Bellatrix was dead when he got here, but Rodolphus died shortly afterwards. Legilimency only picked up Malfoy killing him through the waves of pain.”
“Nasty, very nasty,” Amelia mused. “I don’t care that these were the Lestranges, Malfoy was by all accounts no angel. I want him brought in, and if he can do this to the Lestranges, he has to be considered dangerous, and potentially hostile.”
“Right.” Not a ‘shoot on sight’ order, but ‘prepare to shoot if he tries anything suspicious’.
Later that morning, Dobby considered the unconscious, blood-covered form of Draco Malfoy. Several revenge scenarios played through his head, but he decided that the Great Harry Potter knew what he was doing. Dobby snapped his fingers, waking Draco up, slapped him with a newspaper, and then disappeared.
Draco managed to sit up painfully, still groggy and recovering from the tortures of the night before. His nose wrinkled in disgust at the amount of blood over him.
Then the headlines in ‘The Daily Prophet’ sank into his brain.
Snatching the paper up, Draco read what he had supposedly done. Then Draco remembered – he HAD done all those things. The memories weren’t clear, but they were not open to interpretation. Draco wondered if he had been under the Imperius, but somehow, he thought not, although he was certain he would not have been able to kill his relatives as he had, even though he had very much wanted to, without some outside force driving him somehow.
Slowly, it sank into his brain that he had not so much been rescued as set up. There was no way anyone would believe what had happened to him, short of a truth potion, and he was not likely to be given a chance to take any before being hexed, if not cursed to death. And, since he did not know for certain he had been under any type of compulsion, and he had certainly wanted to kill his relatives in exactly these ways, even a truth potion might not help him.
Then what the masked figure had said sprang to mind. “Run. For your life.”
Draco called for an elf, ordered it to pack for him, and then practically leapt into the bath, hoping he could get clean enough to travel before someone came for him.
If he did not escape, he could only pray that the aurors caught him before the Master.
Considering the many bruises and other minor injuries he had, Draco never noticed the small set of small cuts at the back of his skull.
“I know you were out last night,” Tonks told Harry as he tried to eat an early lunch.
Sighing, Harry swore on oath that he had nothing to do with the deaths of the Lestranges. “As for Draco,” Harry added, “check Malfoy Manor.”
“The boy would have to be an idiot to go there!” Tonks exclaimed.
“He is an idiot,” Harry retorted.
“It’s possible that he would think he has some protections there,” Remus added.
Tonks looked at Remus and blushed slightly. “All right, I’ll pass that along,” she told him.
After Tonks left, Remus said, with an indifferent air, “You know, Harry, I was in New England for Dumbledore a few weeks last spring.”
“H’mmmm?” Harry muttered around a mouthful of his sandwich.
“I read about a controversy; it seems many believe the technomages are developing a device that simulates the Imperious.”
Harry swallowed. “I’ve heard about that,” he said. “Right now, it seems as if there is no such device – just one that would lower fear inhibitions, but not moral ones.”
“So, no one could be forced to something they didn’t want to. . . .”
“But which would allow them to do what they wanted to do, but were too afraid to do,” Harry finished.
“And if the subject is interpreted while acting out their desires?”
“Their brains are fried,” Harry admitted. Under Remus’ glare, Harry admitted, “I don’t think it’s ready for field use without more testing.”
Remus looked at Harry, and saw that under his stoic exterior, Harry looked very shaken. Remus shivered delicately, and decided he did not want to pursue the idea with Harry. Instead, he asked, “Then about what you did to Severus?” Seeing Harry’s somewhat surprised look, Remus said, “I overheard you tell Sirius.”
Harry shrugged. “Actually, it was in part misdirection, which I was able to do with Hogwarts’ help and the fact that I had memory charmed Snape before, which gave me the ability to by-pass his Legilimency shields. In reality, if he had really wanted to, he could have ignored the commands.”
Remus thought about that, and decided he could at least approve of this. Still, Harry had enabled Malfoy to go too far; executions might be necessary, even dramatically staged ones, but not the slow deaths Malfoy had inflected on the Lestranges.
“I know, I know,” Harry agreed before Remus could say anything. “People have to be more careful when using tools they only think they understand.” Harry managed a wan smile. “At least I know why you asked that Tonks be filled-in on the new Fidelius,” Harry managed to tease.
Remus didn’t want to talk about that, either, so he fulled his mug with some strong tea, added some honey, and left the kitchen. Harry looked at his sandwich, sighed, and threw it down, unable to finish it.
On Boxing Day, Harry went to visit Hermione. Since that was a Tuesday, they had agreed to meet for lunch at a Muggle bistro not far from her house. He instantly saw something was wrong and asked about it.
Hermione glanced around and Harry discretely cast a wandless spell after their food had arrived. “No one can understand us now,” he said.
“The Headmaster showed up twice,” Hermione said softly. Seeing the expression on his face, she added, “I’ve followed your suggestions. I’ve kept a time log, and I’m not missing any time, unless I was woken up at night. And I taped the conversations with that pocket recorder; the recordings are the same as what I remembered.”
“So I was being paranoid?” Harry asked.
“No,” Hermione acknowledged. “It was a bit disturbing to have him in our home. He tried to turn my parents against you, although he was trying to be subtle about it. Fortunately, I had already had a talk with them, and they saw through him pretty well. It did increase their suspicions of the wizarding world, but we had talked about that, too.”
“They’d be okay with your leaving Britain?” Harry asked, somewhat surprised.
“Harry, I have relatives in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Falklands, South Africa, and Gibralter. Some of the ones in New Zealand had lived in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Some of my cousins just moved from Hong Kong to Vancouver. Some of my more distant relations live in the States and Belize, and my mother’s best friend lives in the Bahamas.”
“A true commonwealth family,” Harry said with a smile.
“Exactly. They certainly would not mind my leaving for Australia or Canada,” Hermione stated with certainty. “In fact, my parents are considering moving to New Zealand and joining some cousins who have a medical practice there.”
Harry smiled back. “And that did the Headmaster have to say for himself?”
“I could tell was not happy with those blood runes you had me draw around the property,” Hermione said with a smirk.
“Yes, those particular runes create wards that wouldn’t stop an attack but they certainly prevent casual trespassing as well as eavesdropping ,” Harry said with a smile.
“My parents caught on to that very quickly,” Hermione agreed. “Other than that, he seemed upset with you, but never got around to explaining why. He was testing my Occlumency shields the whole time, but I don’t think anything more than you and Luna are good kissers.”
Harry blushed slightly.
Hermione’s face grew solemn. “He did tell me about Draco.”
“I never thought he could be that vicious,” Harry said regretfully.
That satisfied Hermione. She took Harry’s hand. “Enough of the wizarding world. We have a date.”
Harry smiled and ended the spell. The pair discussed their movie choices.
Remus Lupin scowled. He was in a small apartment in Grimmauld Place, a few doors away from the Black residence. With Sirius’ money and a lot of his own work, he had managed to rent the flat, get a telephone connection, and buy a computer and a modem, and sign up with an internet provider in under a week. The whole thing was set up and turned on. Remus was ready to go, but the computer did not seem interested.
“Why the hell did the screen turn blue?” Remus wondered.
As Harry entered the street of Grimmauld Place that evening, Dumbledore, dressed in a suit which would have been considered loud back in 1910 when had bought it, stepped into view.
“Mister Dumbledore,” Harry acknowledged. “Loitering with intent?”
“I believe you have something of mine, Mister Potter,” Dumbledore said sternly.
“I can assure you, I do not.”
“Where is my wand!”
“I believe it is in your hand,” Harry pointed out.
“Not this wand! The Elder Wand!”
“It was no more yours than it was Grindelwald’s,” Harry said with a shrug.
“I won it from Grindelwald. . . . “
“And whomever possesses it now must have won it from you,” Harry retorted equally sternly, “otherwise they could not have cast a Fidelius over yours.”
Dumbledore’s jaw muscles bulged. “And I suppose you’ll claim that Draco Malfoy killed the Lestranges.”
Harry stared Dumbledore in the eye. “I have no reason to think otherwise. Now, I admit, I could have executed the Lestranges, or killed them in a fight. I would NOT kill them like that!” Harry’s eyes narrowed. “And if anyone spreads rumors that I would, I’ll meet them in court or on the dueling pitch.”
“How dare you. . . .
“How dare I what? Treat you as you have treated people for decades?” Harry glared. “And don’t even try to guilt-trip me. Ever. You’ve been trying to walk a line between directing people’s lives while not interfering too much. It failed, Headmaster, it failed. You failed. Now, if I were going Dark, I’d be planning on trying on running things at least as much as you have. I do not. I’ll be gone if I am recognized as the ‘vanquisher’ of Voldemort.”
Dumbledore again made eye contact, and the return gaze froze his heart. “And if you decide to try and trap me in magical Britain somehow, I’ll destroy it myself,” Harry declared. “If you don’t like what’s being done, too bad – you should have taken the steps necessary to destroy Tom Riddle forty years ago. Speaking of which, is the snake dead yet?”
“No,” Dumbledore choked out. “Severus and I have prepared a variety of poisons, but he has not had the opportunity to use them yet.”
“If the snake is not dead by the end of school year, my mentors may have another solution, which I assure you, you won’t like. The idiots at the Ministry, of course, won’t care, since many are still are claiming Sirius was behind Lucius Malfoy.”
“Madam Bones knows the truth,” Dumbledore managed to assert. “Severus has not be able to locate Pettigrew.” Dumbledore frowned. “I suppose it was you who finally convinced him that Sirius should be cleared?”
“Snape is an amoral, cruel, bastard, even if he’s been feeding me some very skewed stories to show himself in a good light,” Harry stated. Since they were not in school, Dumbledore didn’t try to correct his language. “He also tries to pretend he cared more for my mother than I think he actually did. Still, he isn’t totally evil, and he would like to see Voldemort dead. He’s also convinced that I will win, and I will survive, two things he was not so certain when he was your creature.”
Dumbledore blinked, as he realized what Harry was saying. Snape was now Harry’s minion, not his own.
“So, if he helps me, and that includes clearing Sirius, I might not crush him for his past treatments of me.” Harry smiled. “I think he also likes the idea of Sirius at least partially owing him his freedom.”
“I can see where that would appeal to Severus,” Dumbledore admitted.
Harry’s glare again came back, and Dumbledore was worried about exactly how effective that was. “Do I need to talk to you about not bothering Hermione ever again?”
Dumbledore nearly ground his teeth. “No, nor Miss Lovegood or the Weasleys.”
Harry laughed. “I know you didn’t bother the twins or try to read Luna’s mind more than once, and you should have learned that I’m not as friendly with Ron as I was.”
“True. May I ask why not?”
Harry sighed. “Ron is still a total schoolboy. You, or fate, or whatever, took that away from me, even though I was fighting it until last summer. Hermione and Luna aren’t normal school children either. I outgrew Ron, and part of me resents it a great deal. Still, I can’t go back.”
“I suspected as much when you refused to play Quidditch,” Dumbledore admitted. He sighed. “I could try and beat you in a duel to win back mastery of the wand, but I suspect I should not try. Could you please stop memory charming me at least?”
“Of course,” Harry smirked, “unless, of course, it’s for the greater good.”