Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Dark Lord Rising

Chapter 20: Political Posturing

by AndrewsQuill 1 Reviews

End of the Tournament and a discussion with Dumbledore.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Romance - Characters: Harry,Hermione - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2009/05/18 - Updated: 2009/05/19 - 4329 words

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When Dumbledore had ushered everyone up to the castle, she knew that something was amiss. There was no way that Harry Potter wouldn’t have been asked to take a bow. She had stayed in her seat and watched the group with Dumbledore, scanning their midst for a sign of the youngest Champion.

Discovering his absence from their group, she followed them at a discrete distance. Hermione Granger looked anything but happy when she should have been ecstatic over his win. Something was very wrong and she realized that Harry Potter was missing. Ruefully, she thought to herself, ‘It has finally begun. Nothing to do now except, wait.’

Fifteen minutes later, Hermione Granger, Remus Lupin, and a large dog that she was pretty sure was an Animagus, walked out of the Headmaster’s Office looking grim. She almost missed it when Hermione Granger’s steps faltered before she resumed her pace with a lighter look upon her face. ‘Now, that was interesting. Is she tied to Harry Potter somehow?’ she thought curiously.

She quickly decided that whatever the unlikely trio in front of her was doing, it was far more interesting than waiting in the shadows outside of Dumbledore’s office. The young woman let them get half a corridor away before starting to follow, sticking to the shadows as best as she could.

Had anyone been able to see her face at that moment, it would have clearly shown confusion when she arrived to an empty hallway on the seventh floor. She knew that there was no way that they had simply disappeared so the answer was that there was a secret room around here somewhere.

Resigned, she stepped into an alcove, put up a Notice-Me-Not charm on the entrance, and sat down to wait. Surprisingly, her wait was very short. A door simply appeared on the far wall of the hall and the trio stepped out. When the door closed, it disappeared, and a blank wall remained. She decided that she would come back later to try to figure out how to get inside the mysterious room.

Taking a closer look at their faces, the young teen noticed that they all looked relieved. ‘They must have talked to Harry,’ she thought idly as she watched them head back towards the Headmaster’s Office. With these new discoveries on her mind, she slowly made her way back down to the Great Hall. Whatever was coming, it would be announced after the awards ceremony.

The silence in Albus Dumbledore’s office was complete. No person or portrait made as much as a peep. The crackling of the logs in the fire provided the only ambient noise as everyone thought about what it meant to their little world now that Harry Potter had claimed that Voldemort had returned.

If the situation weren’t so dire, Harry would have laughed aloud. As it was, he focused on Fudge’s reaction to the news. He already knew that Dumbledore wouldn’t say anything until he had thought it over for a bit.

Cornelius Fudge knew that the Potter boy was going to claim that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was back, but hearing it made it seem that much more ludicrous. There was no way that it could be true, his voice faltered as he stammered out, “No, not possible. This is the work of that lunatic, Black! Where is the Triwizard Cup?”

Inwardly sighing, Harry’s voice betrayed no emotion as he spoke, “If you would like the Cup back, just ask Voldemort, he has it or it’s still lying on the ground in some graveyard. I was a bit busy running for my life to stop and pick it up.”

Fleur, Cedric, and Viktor were listening, enraptured, as Harry told them that he had been face to face with the Dark Lord. He seemed to be telling the truth but they were still wary of it. It would wreck their little worlds and they weren’t ready for that. Like most of the Wizarding Populace, if it wasn’t staring them in the face, they preferred to ignore the situation.

Dumbledore was watching Harry, Hermione, Remus, and Fudge closely; he ignored the Champions because they would follow his lead when the time came. Remus and Hermione didn’t seem surprised; he surmised that they had all spoken briefly somehow before everyone showed up in the office.

He crossed his fingers and slowly tapped his chin with his thumbs, lost in thought. He was trying to formulate his response in such a way that wouldn’t irritate everyone present. Buying more time, he turned to the other three Triwizard Champions and said, “You may return to the Great Hall for the award ceremony and party.” Giving each of them a piercing gaze, he said, “Do not speak of what happened here this evening. It could lead to dire consequences if you did.”

Remus understood the threat hidden in the Headmaster’s words but he doubted that any of the Champions had noticed it. ‘It’s impossible for them to not talk about what they heard here. Before tonight, everyone in the school will know that Harry Potter claimed that Voldemort has returned.’

Fudge was shifting colors like a kaleidoscope, white and red were the two most prevalent ones. Dumbledore figured that Fudge was warring with himself on which way to proceed. Ultimately, he knew that Fudge would only do what Lucius told him so this was mostly to allow Fudge the illusion that he actually thought for himself.

Deciding to see if he could indebt Sirius Black to him, Dumbledore said, “Minister, we have proof that Sirius Black is innocent. Peter Pettigrew was the Potter’s Secret Keeper and he betrayed them to Voldemort.”

Sirius, Remus, Harry, and Hermione were interested in the direction this conversation was taking. This was a blatant attempt at manipulation by Dumbledore, but if it freed Sirius, that was good enough for them. They knew enough about the Headmaster’s manipulative side to ignore the fact that he wanted them indebted to them for this attempt, successful or not.

Fudge was shocked at this statement, but he quickly recovered his long-standing view on the Black situation. His voice was sarcastic as he spoke, “Really, Dumbledore. Do you happen to have Peter Pettigrew locked up? Without a body, you have no case. You know that Veritaserum isn’t fool proof. One good Memory Modification Charm and anyone would believe, under the serum’s influence, that they had seen Pettigrew alive. The same goes for Pensive Memories. They can be altered or faked entirely, that is why they aren’t allowed in court, and we rely mainly on eye witness accounts.”

Dumbledore knew that this was a sticking point but he had thought of a way around this, “Mr. Potter, Ms. Granger, Remus Lupin, and a Mr. Ronald Weasley have all seen Pettigrew alive and well, Minister. I told you as much one year ago and yet you did nothing.” He finished, pushing as much of the blame for Sirius’ fugitive status onto the Minister as he could.

Harry’s heart plummeted in his chest. He had effectively ensured that Sirius would never be free when he accidentally killed Wormtail in the graveyard. ‘Voldemort knew what he was doing when he burned the body,’ he thought bitterly as he listened to the political maneuverings. One thing was for certain, there was no way that he was going to mention a dead Pettigrew in the presence of anyone other than those he absolutely trusted.

Hermione felt the bitterness from Harry when Wormtail was mentioned and she knew it didn’t bode well for Sirius.

Fudge smirked at Dumbledore and replied, “Your own Potions Professor, Severus Snape, gave a statement to Law Enforcement last year stating that Black had Confunded everyone that evening when he escaped. Their testimony is worthless and you know it. Don’t waste my time without a body; I’m not going to look like a fool by bringing that up without iron clad proof.”

Hermione was outraged that their justice system seemed so barbaric. However, as she thought about it, it became clear that because there were so many different magical ways to alter things, that it was almost impossible to have any real semblance of legal proceedings. Trials were useless unless there were dozens of eyewitnesses. ‘Poor, Sirius.’ She thought to herself when she realized why he had been sent to Azkaban without a trial, the Wizengamot felt it didn’t need to bother because there were so many witnesses.

Remus was angry; he knew that Dumbledore or Fudge could have ordered a trial to confirm some of the facts. The murder of the muggles was probably a lost cause without Peter, but it could have come out that Sirius wasn’t the Potter’s Secret Keeper. The members of the Wizengamot didn’t feel the need to explore what they considered a non-issue and Dumbledore didn’t seem to expend any effort to capture Peter either. Remus’ resolve to capture Wormtail alive solidified.

Harry was silently fuming again. Frustrated, he thought, ‘Well, Sirius can never come in to face trial. A trial would see him sent back to Azkaban for the murders that Wormtail committed that fateful day.’

Sirius Black was sitting on the floor, trying very hard not to bite the two posturing politicians in front of him. He had never realized how thoroughly that the rat had framed him, until now. He would remain a fugitive for the rest of his long life. Resigned, he lay his head down on Harry’s feet, and concentrated on what was being discussed.

Something that Harry had said was tickling his thoughts, turning to him, Dumbledore said in his kind voice, “Mr. Potter, where were taken when you were Portkeyed away?”

Harry paused a moment to gather his thoughts before answering. He didn’t want to give away too much so he ‘Fudged’ the truth slightly to suit his needs as he spoke, “I hit my head and was knocked out when I arrived. When I woke up, Voldemort was standing in front of me and he was torturing someone in a white mask and a black robe. Pettigrew was kneeling on the ground about ten feet from me along with a half a dozen or so other figures in black robes and white masks.”

Still trying to earn points with Harry, Dumbledore said, “You see, Cornelius, Mr. Potter says he saw Pettigrew and Voldemort at the same time this evening.”

“Rubbish. Who knows what spells were used on this boy by Black? The Dark Lord is dead, Dumbledore. You don’t just come back to life after being dead for thirteen years!” spittle was flying from the corners of Fudge’s mouth as he spoke.

The research that Remus had been doing about Harry’s connection flooded to the front of his thoughts from Fudge’s declaration. He paled considerably when he realized what that scar on Harry’s head really was, a Horcrux.

Dumbledore saw Remus stiffen out of the corner of his eye. ‘Did he know something about Horcruxes?’ he thought in concern. Trying to distract Remus and remain in control of the fast changing situation, he said in his kindest tone, “Harry, were you injured other than hitting your head?”

Pensively, Harry thought, ‘He’s looking for something, almost as if he knows what Voldemort did to regain a body.’ Deciding to throw some of Dumbledore’s own tactics back at him, Harry answered with a question of his own, “Do you have an idea how Voldemort got a body back?”

Fudge realized that they were ignoring him in favor of talking about a dead Dark Lord. Irritated, he snapped, “Enough of this foolishness. Mr. Potter obviously doesn’t know where he was taken, or by whom, so we can close this discussion and get on with the award ceremony to close the tournament.” Rising from his chair, Fudge said, “I expect all of you down in the Great Hall in fifteen minutes for the award ceremony.”

As he walked down to the Great Hall, Fudge was trying to come up with an acceptable story to cover the loss of the Triwizard Cup. He never noticed the young woman standing in the shadows watching him as he strode hurriedly past, lost in thought.

The room was silent for a few minutes after the Minister left for the Great Hall. Everyone was lost in their thoughts, trying to sort out what had just been discussed.

After a few minutes, Dumbledore finally spoke, his tone was gravely serious, “What really happened this evening, Harry?”

Not willing to play games right now, Harry coolly replied, “You seem to have some thoughts on the matter, sir. Why don’t you tell me how Voldemort got a new body?”

Harry just sat there, gazing around the room, thinking. He wasn’t going to answer any questions without getting his own answered first.

Dumbledore was a bit surprised. Usually when people were faced with uncomfortable silences, they got nervous and started to speak. The fact that none of his guests had uttered a single word told him that they wanted answers to difficult questions. Tentatively, he spoke, “There are a number of things that Voldemort could have done to get a new body. You said that you were in a graveyard?”

Harry nodded yes, but he still wouldn’t speak until he got some answers.

“There is a dark ritual that requires a few ingredients. One of them is a bone from a family member.” Dumbledore paused and leaned forward in his chair, his gaze fixed only upon Harry Potter as he continued, “The other two are a willing sacrifice and blood forcibly taken. I’ll ask you again, were you injured in the graveyard, Harry?”

Not really seeing a way out of this predicament, Harry answered, “Yes, Wormtail took some blood from me after he cut off his own hand.” He could have sworn that a small smile seemed to pass across Dumbledore’s face, but it was gone so fast he wondered if he could have imagined it.

Sirius had transformed back into his human form a few minutes after Fudge had left the room. He was having a hard time not cursing aloud when he heard Harry describe the ritual. It was going to be very hard for him to not kill that traitor, Peter, the next time that they crossed paths.

Remus knew that the ritual would have an unintended side effect if it were successful. The Horcrux inside of Harry’s scar would strengthen their bond as well as provide Harry with his own version of a Horcrux. It meant that Harry would be able to come back from the dead once. Suppressing a shudder, Remus said in a low voice that was almost a whisper, “I would like to see your research notes on that ritual, Albus. We need to know what the possible side effects are.”

Dumbledore was slightly nervous about Remus’ request. He didn’t want anyone finding out Harry was a Horcrux and that he now had a version of one himself. If the public ever got wind of that information, Harry would be labeled a Dark Lord and become hunted. The risk of him being killed before he could fulfill the prophecy was too great. Therefore, he lied, “I don’t have those books anymore. I only borrowed them and I took no notes so I wouldn’t accidentally leave directions for someone else to travel that dark path.”

Remus knew that he was being lied to. There was no way that Dumbledore had let those books go. He would just have to figure something else out in order to get the books. Resigned, he asked, “Do you have the names of the books? Perhaps I could track them down so I can do some research?”

Sighing in resignation, Dumbledore said in a regretful tone, “I’m afraid that I don’t. Those books were so old that they didn’t have titles, just leather bindings.” He made a show of pulling out his pocket watch and stood up after checking the time elapsed before speaking, “We need to head down to the Great Hall for the award ceremony.”

He beckoned them towards the door and after they had filed out, he closed it behind them and followed them down to the Great Hall in silence. Dumbledore was thankful that one possible plan that he had figured out was starting to progress properly. Voldemort had miscalculated and provided Harry with the perfect way to sacrifice himself while taking out a piece of Voldemort’s soul. The act would also remove Harry’s pseudo Horcrux from existence, as it would be used to bring him back to life.

Remus was itching to get back to the library and start researching ways to remove the Horcrux from Harry when he remember Harry saying something about Voldemort’s presence in his mind was gone. Slightly relieved, Remus vowed to find the underlying cause of this mystery as soon as he was back at the Black ancestral home.

Harry and Hermione were holding hands on the way down to the ceremony, both lost in their thoughts about what was coming in the future. He gave her petite hand a gentle squeeze and pushed his feelings for her through the bond.

Hermione returned the gesture and smiled at him before kissing his cheek. She was relieved that he had made it back alive. She realized that things would be very different now and that Remus and Sirius were very smart to move her family ahead of time to keep them safe. Hermione was unsure what the Wizarding World’s response would be to this news, however, she did know that it wasn’t going to be a good one. As a society, witches and wizards were too wrapped up in their own little worlds and they would do almost everything to ignore the evidence in front of them when it disrupted their beliefs and day-to-day lives.

When they entered the Great Hall, the applause was deafening. Students, parents, and other spectators were crowded into the large room leaving only a tiny walkway up to the raised platform where the teacher’s table normally sat.

Cornelius Fudge was sitting on the side of the dais next to the other three Triwizard Champions. There was no sign of Ludo Bagman but Barty Crouch, Sr.’s replacement, Percy Weasley, was there. As Harry made his way up to the stage, Remus, Sirius in dog form, and Hermione moved off towards the Gryffindor Table where Neville and Ginny were waving to them.

Once everyone was seated, Dumbledore stepped up to the lectern and began speaking, “Tonight marks the end of the Triwizard Tournament. I would like to thank everyone that helped make this event possible. This event is one steeped in history and I am glad that we were able to resurrect it with only minimal changes to the rules which proved to be a major success.” He was glossing over the fact that Harry was underage but only a few people would remember that tiny footnote if he could help it.

Continuing his speech, Dumbledore said cheerfully, “Let us all give a warm round of applause for our Triwizard Champions! They have fought through difficult tasks, proven their mettle, and made their schools, and countries, proud.” He paused to let the applause die down before he resumed speaking, “It is with great pleasure that I introduce this years Triwizard Champion, Hogwarts very own Harry Potter!”

Grudgingly, Harry stood up from his chair and made his way over to where Professor Dumbledore was standing, clapping along with the crowd. When he stopped next to Dumbledore, he quietly said, “Thank you.”

Dumbledore turned to face the crowd and announced, “Let’s welcome our Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge to present the prize!”

The applause was lack luster at best and Fudge was internally scowling. He figured that he would use this event, and the Potter boy’s prestige, to help bolster support. With a big smile on his face, Fudge stepped up to the lectern and addressed the assembled crowd, “Thank you for your kind welcome. Under my direction, the Ministry of Magic worked very hard to make this event happen. I would like to thank Beauxbatons and Durmstrang for agreeing to participate in the tournament this year. Talks are already under way for another tournament to be held at one of their fine institutions in two years and I’m sure that Hogwarts will be up to the challenge.”

He paused to gauge the crowd’s reaction. There was a large smattering of excited murmurs about the next tournament, continuing, he said, “To that end, we have commissioned the construction of a new trophy for the winner of the tournament. This new trophy will be passed down from victor to victor after each tournament. The winner’s name, and tournament date and location, will be engraved on the base of the trophy, forever immortalizing them.”

Turning to face Harry Potter, he waived the boy up to stand next to him. Excitedly, Fudge said, “It is my great honor to bestow the first place prize of one thousand galleons to Harry Potter! The new trophy will be delivered to him upon its completion and at the completion of the next tournament; Mr. Potter will pass it along to the next champion.” He reached out and shook Harry Potter’s hand enthusiastically for the cameras while holding out the sack of gold to him.

Harry had plastered a fake smile on his face as he accepted his prize money with a mumbled, “Thank you.” He knew that there was no chance that Fudge would let him speak out of fear that he would announce Voldemort’s return. Taking his prize money, he made his way down from the platform and over to the Gryffindor Table to sit next to Hermione.

Dumbledore stepped back up to the lectern and addressed the crowd, “Thus concludes the award ceremony. Now, let the party begin!” He clapped his hands and the tables filled with an assortment of drinks, food, and sweets. He didn’t think that the time was right to announce Voldemort’s return, yet.

By keeping things silent, Dumbledore hoped that it would make things easier to track the Death Eaters and Voldemort. The quicker that he reassembled the Order of the Phoenix, the better, and he planned to do that immediately following the ceremony.

Harry was sitting with Hermione, Remus, Neville, and Ginny while Sirius was under the table at their feet. He wanted nothing more than to leave before someone else cornered him and asked him about the tournament. He still wasn’t sure if he should have alerted the entire school about Voldemort’s return or not but he was pretty sure that the rumor mill would be going strong and that a large portion of the school would know by morning.

Deciding that they had lingered long enough, Harry said, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

They waived goodbye to Neville and Ginny before making their way out of the Great Hall.

When they reached the Room of Requirement, Harry sealed the room and called out, “Dobby, Winky!” After the two elves appeared, he said, “Would you please move all of our things to Hermione’s house? We won’t be staying here at night any more. Do you think that you two will be able to bring Hermione and me back and forth to school each day?”

Dobby and Winky looked at each other before Winky replied enthusiastically, “Yes, Master Harry. We would be honored to bring you to Hogwarts and then home each day.”

Relieved, Harry replied, “Thank you. Once you have taken us back home, would you retrieve our things from our dorm rooms?”

The two elves each grabbed two pairs of hands and popped back to the Grangers.

When they arrived in the entryway, Hermione turned to Harry and said worriedly, “Don’t we have to stay at school during the semester?”

Everyone perked up at the question, looking forward to Harry’s answer, when he spoke, “Nope. I checked the rulebook and nowhere does it mention that we have to live in the castle during the year. It is probably a tradition from hundreds of years ago when it was easier, and safer, to have magical children in one central place at all times. It doesn’t make sense anymore for Hogwarts to be a boarding only school. What about the families that live in Hogsmeade? Why should they have to send their kids to live in a castle that they could walk to every morning?”

Hermione frowned in thought; she had never considered the option of commuting to school at Hogwarts. Now that they had the means to commute each day, it made much more sense and it would be a lot safer. She wouldn’t admit it aloud, but she still had trouble sleeping in Gryffindor Tower. Harry knew, she couldn’t keep that from him, but he was supportive and she realized that he was really doing this for her. With tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, she stepped up to Harry and pulled him into a loving hug. After a few seconds, she leaned back and kissed him tenderly on the lips before saying, “Thank you.”

Harry knew what she was referring to, so he smiled back and said, “You’re welcome. Now, why don’t we go and find you parents and face the music?”

She gulped nervously but when she noticed that Harry wasn’t bothered, she calmed down some and they left for the library in search of her parents.
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