Remus and Sirius plan their love lives, Harry plots, Voldemort reacts but Draco doesn't
“I don’t know,” Sirius told Remus. “I mean, I don’t like wizarding Britain, but move? And you won’t say where.”
“I don’t know where,” Remus admitted. “It could be the States, Canada, Australia, or even New Zealand. Wherever Harry goes if he goes.”
“And we still don’t really know these technomages,” Sirius pointed out. “And this ‘Gang’ sounds more like Dung’s friends than people we should trust.”
“They did trace Harry through Dung,” Remus admitted.
“So what do they want from Harry?” Sirius asked.
Remus shrugged. “In part, the technomages and ‘the Gang’ want what Dumbledore wanted from Harry – they want him to destroy Voldemort, although the details of why they don’t want Voldemort to win may be different. They’re just not playing as many games as the old man. Dumbledore thought Harry would have to sacrifice himself, so he was basically training Harry to do just that – so that Voldemort would send a killing curse at Harry, which should have destroyed the Horcrux inside of him, and then, hopefully, Harry would survive at least long enough to destroy Voldemort, or at least show the world how to do it.”
“A bloody lousy plan,” Sirius grumbled.
“It was,” Remus agreed.
“Is that a change of tune I hear?” Sirius mocked.
Remus shrugged. “I would have thought Dumbledore would have done a bit more research into ways to break the Horcrux without killing Harry, but I think he was partly afraid the information would leak out, and partially afraid that doing so would break the Prophecy to the point where no one could stand up to Voldemort.”
“I wonder, if we live so long, if we’ll be so bloody cautious,” Sirius mused.
“Why else do you want to go?” Sirius asked.
“They’re working on ways to get around the Curse,” Remus admitted.
“They are able to simulate the moon’s effect in a chamber to the point where the physical changes happen, but the werewolf keeps his mind,” Remus told his friend. “Still hurts like hell, but they’ve also developed a potion that even cuts the pain drastically. They have some evidence that doing this repeatedly helps condition the werewolf to the point that they keep their minds during the regular change. What they can’t do yet is make the effect last through the cycle without the werewolf undergoing the treatment at least six times a cycle. Still, as bad as the pain is, if that pain potion does work I think it might be a decent trade off to taking the Wolfsbane.”
“The transformations take a lot out of you,” Sirius pointed out.
“They do,” Remus admitted, “but the Wolfsbane poisons us to the point where it might do as much harm in the long run as transforming, if not more.” The magical world did very little testing on long term potion effects, especially potions for ‘creatures’. “I’d like to help find out and at least leave a legacy of some kind.”
“I never wanted any legacy,” Sirius admitted. “Just to have fun while I was here.” He looked at Remus. “What about Tonks?”
Remus flushed. “Maybe, if this treatment really helps. . . .”
“Talk to her, Moony,” Sirius encouraged. “I bet those technomages wouldn’t mind hiring a trained auror, especially a metamorphmagus who might be able to help them copy the magic.”
Remus thought about that for a second, and then amazingly, made up his mind, “It can’t hurt to ask!”
“You’re looking better this morning,” Hermione whispered in Harry’s ear one Sunday in late April.
Harry nodded and whispered back, “When you see Luna, tell her to meet us in the usual classroom at Three.” To any observer, the pair had just been engaging in a little nuzzling in the common room before leaving for breakfast. Since Ron and Romilda were busy exchanging tongue probes, the twins were involved in a five-way tongue-fest with the chaser line, and Ginny and Seamus were somewhat out of sight imitating Ron and his girlfriend, no one paid any attention to Harry and Hermione.
Except for some nervous twitches among the remaining, if quiescent, pro-Voldemort students, the rest of the student population had recovered from the traumas of the autumn and winter. The girls of Hogwarts had even prevailed upon the Headmaster, who had allowed an informal dance (music supplied by the wizarding wireless) the previous Friday. Many of the students were looking forward to the last two Quidditch games, which would be held in five and six weeks respectively – unusually, each of the teams still had a shot at the Cup. The House Cup was also very much up in the air. Ravenclaw was in the lead, but Slytherin, currently in last place, was still trailing by less than 60 points. The fact that the Cups, the dance, and the up-coming exams seemed at the forefront of nearly all the students’ minds was seen as a good sign by the staff that life had returned to normal at the school.
This was helped by the fact that the outside world was somewhat quiet. The political landscape was still up in the air, but most of the worst offenders were either out of office or at least demoted, leaving the rest of the Purebloods who were still running the Wizengamot and the Ministry to jockey for position. There had been no attacks, and if a few people who had been accused of being Death Eaters either in 1981 or in the autumn disappeared, no one outside their immediate families publically expressed any concern.
Snape, however, had reported the Dumbledore and Harry that a dozen Marked Death Eaters had disappeared since Pettigrew’s capture and questioning. Pettigrew himself had been shipped out of the country for imprisonment, and few knew that he was safely tucked away in the high security South American prison, located on a small island in Tierra del Fuego. Harry swore that he had nothing to do with their disappearing, but by now, neither Snape nor Dumbledore put any trust in Harry’s oaths.
However, Harry was telling the truth. The gizmo Harry had given Snape to place over his Dark Mark allowed the technomages to trace anyone who was Marked if they got close enough to someone with the right scanner – and there were mages operating scanners loitering around Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and even at times in the atrium of the Ministry. When a Death Eater was found isolated enough, he would be kidnaped by ‘the Gang’ and ‘convinced’ to sign over part of his fortune and confess his crimes. Those then had a modified gizmo which negated the Dark Mark attached, and they were imprisoned in the North American high security prison off Prince Patrick Island in the Arctic Archipelago in an arrangement with the Druids, bypassing the North American Ministry, and so there was no paper trail. The few who could not be ‘convinced’ simply disappeared.
“What has happened?” Luna asked as soon as the classroom was secured. “Good news, in any event,” she asserted.
Harry nodded. “Nagini has finally taken enough bait to be tracked. It’s just a matter of time and a little luck before she’s dead.”
“And then?” Hermione asked.
“Most of the technomages who snuck into the country as Muggles have left,” Harry acknowledged. “The ones who remain are part of a trained strike-force. They’re the ones who have been helping ‘the Gang’ track down Death Eaters as well as tracking down safe houses. When the time comes, they’ll attract as many remaining Marked supporters as they can to Voldemort, and then, well. . . .” Harry pulled a small box from his pocket. It had a red button, three lights (red, which was lit, yellow, and green) and a switch.
“And what will that do?” Hermione asked.
“That will launch a number of small missiles, about the size of my arm, armed with magic disputers and explosives. That should kill them all, especially Voldemort.”
“And you have to push the button, in case that’s needed to fulfill the prophecy,” Hermione stated sadly.
Harry shrugged. “Exactly. Have your parents decided where they’re going to settle?”
Hermione nodded. “They sold their practice and the house for a lot more than they expected to. The Belize government made them a really good offer – a new house, a fully-equipped office, and the right to establish a private practice for the afternoons, and three hours of state work each morning. They’ll actually move in early June.”
“Did they send you your passport?” Harry asked. Hermione nodded. “And you?” Harry asked Luna.
“It came yesterday,” Luna acknowledged. The three would travel as Muggles to escape wizarding Britain, although Luna would have to return for her O.W.L. year unless her father decided to accept an offer the technomages had arranged for him as a crypto-zoologist or at least allowed Luna to leave. Mister Lovegood was tempted by the offer, but he did love publishing ‘The Quibbler’.
“Is there anything other than hoping the snake eats the rats in a hurry that we should know about?” Hermione asked.
“Well, the technomages will be tipping the aurors off to the more urban safe houses when they think they would be safe to attack,” Harry said. “When the missiles go in, we don’t want Voldemort somewhere where the collateral destruction could hurt others.”
The first safe house was taken out by the aurors just a few nights later. Five more would be taken out by early June. After the first two had been taken, Voldemort had tried leaving a Death Eater or two to guard the remaining lairs.
With careful coordination, the Death Eaters had been kidnaped and then the aurors tipped off as to the locations. It turned out that the fourth safe house captured, in late June, had more than supplies.
“What is it?” Tonks asked Shacklebolt, the team leader. She wondered why she had been shown this smelly cell with the pile of rags in a corner.
Shacklebolt pointed at the pile. “That’s your cousin.”
Tonks looked a bit more closely, but not wanting to get too close. “If you say so,” she said. She waved her wand and muttered a complex spell, creating a display. “H’mm, I’m surprised he’s alive.”
“My best guess is that they used him for minor hexing practice,” Shacklebolt said.
“So, he just looks like an oozing slug under a pile of rags?” Tonks asked.
“Well, it might be permanent,” Shacklebolt hedged. “Anyway, guard it for now. Once the building is secure, I’ll send in the medics and we’ll take him to the secure infirmary. Guard him there as well until you’re relieved.”
Tonks shrugged and stepped back, so that while she could keep an eye on Draco, she wouldn’t have to smell him.
Hermione looked up from her copy of ‘The Prophet’ two days later. “I wonder if Malfoy is sane?” she muttered. Seeing Harry’s look, she modified, “Well, as sane as he was before last Christmas.”
Harry shrugged. He wasn’t sure what, if anything, he should feel. No one deserved what Draco had apparently gone through, but that didn’t mean he felt any pity or compassion for the ferret, either.
“Does it say if he’s under arrest for killing his cousins?” Ron asked clearly. If nothing else, dating Romilda had cleaned up Ron’s remaining hygiene problems and even his table manners to a large degree. He still ate a lot and ate it fast, but was much neater about it.
“It says he’ll be questioned about that when he’s physically recovered,” Hermione said, watching Harry out of the corner of her eye. He seemed unconcerned, and Hermione hoped there was no reason for him to change his attitude.
“So, what have we gotten out of the Malfoy boy?” Amelia Bones asked.
The healer attached to the aurors looked up from her notes. “Well, we learned a lot using my forensic spells on how to heal torture hexes,” she said. “You-Know-Who seems to be an expert on both.”
“Why would he know how to heal?” a junior auror asked.
“So the next round of torture is equally effective,” the healer answered drily. “As for the rest, all the Death Eaters he saw unmasked that he knew, we already have on our lists. As for the few he didn’t know, I have copied and stored in a separate pensieve. Hopefully we’ll have them identified in a few days.”
Bones nodded, and the healer went on, “As for the execution of the Lestranges, well, that is a bit strange. It seems as if he was rescued by someone in disguise. The description is somewhat similar to that of the so-called Shadow of Hogwarts, but it’s far from a match. What cannot be determined is if Malfoy was freed and he killed the Lestranges totally of his own volition – he certainly wanted to – or if the rescuer in some way helped or encouraged him.”
“But he wasn’t controlled?” Bones asked.
“It’s too fuzzy in his mind to be a hundred percent certain,” the healer hedged.
“Give me the percentages,” Bones said drily.
“To tell the truth, I think the best case is for diminished capacity,” the healer answered. “Malfoy had been severely tortured, and is of an unstable, spoiled, and sadistic personality by nature. My estimate is a seventy-five percent case for diminished capacity and a five percent outside influence.”
“And the other twenty percent?” Shacklebolt asked.
“Oh, then he’s even more of a psychopathic sadistic little bastard than he appears.”
“And if your most likely diagnosis is correct?” Bones asked. Seeing the healer wanted more, she added, “What would the odds be of his doing anything similar to someone who hadn’t actually tortured him?”
The healer thought about that, and tried to be impartial. However, she was less than a Half-blood – her father had been a Squib, her mother a Muggle. She had suffered for that in Ravenclaw, and been bullied by some of the Slytherins. Some of her paternal relatives had been killed by Death Eaters back in the late 1970s. That may have influenced her decisions, although she would never admit that to herself. “I think Malfoy is still egotistical enough to crawl back to his father’s Master if You-Know-Who gave any sign he would be a torturer instead of a victim,” she finally said. “I also think he would be more likely to torture anyone whom he would see as thwarting him. I wouldn’t like to say that he would be safe interacting with Muggles, either.”
“Well, there’s a Muggle procedure called a lobotomy. . . .”
Three weeks later, a lobotomized and sterilized Draco Malfoy was released to his mother, who always put Draco’s condition down to the tortures he had undergone. The pair left Britain a few days later, never to be heard from again.
“I can’t leave,” Tonks pointed out. “There’s a class-two emergency going on, you know. Aurors can’t even retire.”
“That situation might be resolving itself,” Sirius stated.
Tonks gave the two men the eye. “Which of you are asking me to leave?” she finally asked.
“We both are,” Remus answered.
“We do have very different motives, though,” Sirius pointed out. Remus blushed.
“Really?” Tonks asked, surprised. Then she noticed Remus’ blush. “Remus? Really?”
Remus managed to nod.
“Yippee!” Tonks yelled, leaping at him.
Remus just managed to catch her, and had he not been a werewolf, the pair likely would have fallen and gotten hurt. Instead, Remus caught the currently-violet haired witch and managed to steady them. “That’s my big, strong wolfie!” Tonks crowed.
“I think I’ll leave the two of you alone,” Sirius smirked. “Don’t forget to breathe!” he reminded the pair. With their lips fully engaged, neither could make an oral response, and Tonks’ hands were becoming too busy to make any gestures.
Sirius shut the door, and then sighed as he walked away. “Once I get my pardon, I gotta get me some,” he muttered. “No more poodles.”
It was in late May, a week before the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exam team showed, that Harry called Hermione and Luna into another meeting after curfew.
“Tonight?” Luna asked.
“What will happen?” Hermione asked.
“Nagini has eaten enough that she will be poisoned once a signal is given,” Harry said. “It will take her between just a few seconds to die to a few minutes. While that is happening, a gizmo planted in the safe house she’s at will emit an imitation ‘all call’ signal to the Marked Death Eaters. . . .”
“I would hope you warned Professor Snape,” Hermione broke in.
“Partially,” Harry answered. “I told him to wear the wrist gizmo. If he is, then that will block the recall signal from affecting his Dark Mark. If he isn’t wearing it, well, then I hope he has the brains not to go. If he does. . . .” Harry shrugged.
“Right now, Voldemort is at the safe house. No doubt, the death of the snake will both confuse him and throw him into a rage, especially with all his Death Eaters popping in unexpectedly.” Harry pulled out an ear piece and placed it in his ear. “If the Death Eaters or Voldemort start to leave, I’ll be told and I’ll hit the button.” The girls saw that the light on the trigger was now showing yellow. “But, if they mill about in confusion, we want to wait until there are at least twenty Death Eaters present. The current estimate is that there are at most only forty-one Marked people, at least in the country, and a few high level associates. There could be fewer Marked and more associates.”
“And one of the Marked people still in the country is Snape,” Hermione mused. Then she asked, “Associates?”
“Unmarked people in the Ministry – hopefully all of them have been arrested anyway – and an alpha werewolf, the one who bit Remus.” Harry shrugged again. “There could be others.”
“How many Death Eaters are there in the house now?” Hermione asked.
“Six.” Harry looked at them. “I hope you don’t mind. . . .”
“You shouldn’t go through this alone,” Luna said.
“We’re always with you,” Hermione agreed.
Harry smiled gratefully, and flicked the switch on the small device. The yellow light went out and the green light started blinking. “When the green light goes steady, Nagini is dead,” Harry said. “This also starts the Death Eater recall.”
Pucey ran into the Dark Lord’s chamber, crying out, “Master! Your snake! She’s convulsing!”
That news prevented Voldemort for cursing the young idiot for invading his inner sanctum. Instead, Voldemort hurried from the room, towards the area where his familiar made her den. Several diagnostic spells later, and Voldemort was still confused. The snake was obviously dying from some sort infusion of magic, but there was nothing he could find to do.
Suddenly, the snake shuddered, and it died. For a fraction of a second, a rather surprised-looking, slightly more human-looking, version of Voldemort was seen, before it dissipated. Stunned, Voldemort realized that he had just seen the destruction of a Horcrux.
Then he screamed in anger and fear – if this Horcrux was gone, what of the others?
It was only then that Voldemort saw there nearly every Marked Death Eater, as well as Fenir Grayback, was in the room. “What are you doing here?” he snapped.
“We were summoned, my lord,” Dolohov answered, confused.
Tom Riddle had been the brightest wizard to attend Hogwarts in the twentieth century. Despite how stubborn he had become in refusing to accept some facts, he did not like where his thoughts were leading. He would have to check out the locations of the other Horcruxes, but first. . . .
It was, however, too late to warn his Death Eaters. Harry had pushed the button, and thirty-six small missiles were on their way.