Harry gets the best friend interrogation. Peter snaps! Voldemort and Scrimgeour scheme. All this and yet another concept you don't see in fanfiction.
Chapter 13 - Naked Hannah
Harry woke from an exhausted sleep. He had slept soundly, repaying the adrenaline debt that had kept him functioning since Percy's death. He surmised that had Tom Riddle tried their mental connection, the Dark Tosser would have received a busy signal or an 'out of order' notice. His arm still ached from where Madame Pomfrey had repaired his injuries. He endured Molly Weasley's 'gaze of doom' as she rushed to the floo to travel to St. Mungo's. She didn't seem very pleased. Given the pain Harry was in after Susan's numbing charm wore off, he didn't really care what she thought. He felt a little guilty that he had run off into an ambush, simply to put some distance between himself, Susan and the argument they were having. It did teach him a valuable lesson: don't think about stupid crap during a battle! He had gotten hurt and so had Bill. If Harry hadn't used the killing curse, Bill would by all rights be dead.
Just about the whole house was still awake and waiting on their return. Hermione and Ginny made a big show of immediately going up to their room. Harry recalled chuckling that they wanted to make sure he was safe, so they could kill him later. He shook his head and tried to burrow back into the pillow. If everyone was looking for a full report on the night, they were sadly mistaken. Harry pretty much ignored all the questions until a tired looking Madame Pomfrey arrived. When she had asked what caused all the damage, he simply replied 'Vampire,' causing everyone to gasp. Fortunately, the mediwitch was conditioned to Harry's lifestyle, and took it quite well, only stopping to mutter several things under her breath that would later make Harry blush, before resuming her examination. There was a second gasp when he removed his shirt, revealing a mass of bruises that covered the left side of his chest up to his shoulder, and down to the left elbow. Susan kept a brave face, but was obviously very distressed. Harry watched as Susan whispered instructions to her house elf who disappeared with a pop to keep an eye on the vampire at her house.
The noise generated by Harry mentioning vampires was enough to wake the portrait of Mrs. Black, who commenced screaming insults. Amazingly enough, when Harry yelled back 'shut your foul mouth, you dead hag!' she immediately quieted. That fact did not register until Harry was halfway up the stairs, and in no shape or mood to go back down and question the portrait. Someone could have come to him with a spell that would end Voldemort's life once and for all, and Harry would not have been interested.
He sat up on his bed and reached for his glasses. There was a strange and strong smell in the room. It was completely out of place in a room full of boys. He rubbed his eyes, put his glasses on and waited for the answer to come into focus.
"Busy night, Harry?" The voice of Hannah Abbott asked examining her freshly polished nails under the light of the morning sun.
'Oh how splendid, the best friend interrogation.' Harry thought. "You could say that Hannah. That's a nice color on you." He decided to take the safe route and send a compliment her way, despite the fact he knew very little about nail colors.
"Thanks. It is Lisa's though. She has very good taste. How's your shoulder?"
"It's a bit tender. Instead of really painful, it's just sore now. Where's Susan?"
"Still sleeping. Why don't you silence the room, Harry? I kicked the boys out. They're eating breakfast already." Harry wasn't sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. He waved his wand at the door. For good measure he aimed a second one at the portrait on the wall. The wizard in the painting gave a rather indignant look and left the frame.
"Done. Something on your mind?" Harry asked amazed at how much one day had matured him. Yesterday, he would have been intimidated at the sight of a female in his room and him in only pajamas. Since then he had killed two dementors and two vampires...besides, Hannah had too much 'cuteness' to be that intimidating.
"When I sent you up to check on Susan yesterday, I was happy to find out you came back dating. You leave from the bank yesterday and come back engaged. I am just wondering whether if I leave my best friend alone with you today, you will come back with rings on your fingers."
Harry decided to push her buttons a bit to see if he could rile her up. "No. You'd have to come along. I am sure Susan wants you to be her maid of honor and I still have to get a best man." He said watching her eyes bulge. He knew Hannah was a very emotional girl. She had been so flustered during her O.W.Ls that she had created one of the more memorable scenes from the school year during her Transfiguration OWL.
"What? You ..." she started.
"What's there to explain, Hannah? I have a year, well now less than a year to get married. She has to get married a year from her birthday. Hey, when's her birthday?"
"September the fifth. Shouldn't you know that, being her fiancÃ©?"
"Cheeky, Abbott, very cheeky."
"Careful, Harry. I might start telling you the wrong flowers and candy to get her."
"Point taken. So what brings you to my bedroom this morning? Considering hexing me into oblivion? Sorry that sounds so Ginnyish, I am sure she would help, hell Hermione might even want to join in, but you'll probably get a stern lecture afterwards." Harry said chuckling.
"No, the only person I've considered doing that to lately would be Ginny. I am here to find out how serious you are about my best friend. Are you serious, or is she just an easy way out of a problem that suddenly presented itself?"
"Would you be surprised if I said I wasn't sure?"
"You'd at least gain some points for honesty."
"Why her and not Lee, err Ginny?"
"Susan's more mature. She's more capable of dealing with my life. She's still there after a week that would have destroyed other witches. If you had to pick one Puff that most resembled Helga's ideals, my guess is that it would be her."
"So she has been through a lot. Does that make her a pity project?" Hannah said, trying to play Devil's advocate. She was pleased with Harry's answer though.
"If she's one, then I must be one hell of a charity case. I still don't know why she likes me."
"I'll answer that one for you. There are a few other next girlfriend pools out there, but none of them generated as much interest as yours. Like it or not, girls like you, Harry. Even some of the Slytherins were betting! Merlin, you and I almost went out."
Harry started checking his memory for oblivations, "Uh, that's news to me."
Hannah sighed. "Yes. I suppose you never knew. Harry, I have a gift and a bit of a curse too like your Parseltongue. I am a receiving empath. I can feel other people's emotions. Sometimes in large crowds, it overpowers me. I was between you and Umbitch during my Transfiguration OWL and quite honestly it would have been easier on me if you had been trying to kill each other!"
"I guess that is how you always seem to be able to tell when people are lying to you. That said, I still don't remember you and me almost going out."
"Well, my little gift was what told me that you weren't the Heir of Slytherin. I could feel your pain when everyone was pointing fingers." Harry recalled her defending him to a table full of Hufflepuffs around the time Justin was petrified. "So after that year was over, I spent all summer figuring out how I was going to go out with you in our third year. I had it all planned out. You didn't stand a chance."
"So what happened?" Harry thought allowing him a moment to consider how his third year would have been with Hannah as a girlfriend. The idea had a certain appeal to it. It might have been fun. 'Too bad, though I never thought the whole pigtails thing worked for her. Glad she isn't doing it anymore! Probably trying a more mature look for Justin.'
"Dementors. I spent most of the year hiding in my dorm room. If it wasn't for Occlumency, Mum and Dad would have had to pull me out of school. As it was, I had to leave school twice. That's when Justin and I became so close. He really helped me through the rough times. By the time the Dementors were gone, Justin and I were already serious and you and I were a missed opportunity. He'll probably be a bit put off that you and Susan will beat us to the altar."
"You know Occlumency!"
"Kind of a necessity in my life. Either that or avoid large crowds until I'm old and gray. You must too, since I haven't been able to pick up much from you anymore. That was part of your allure back then. You were an emotional volcano. It's a good thing we were so young. I was rather obsessed with you for a time. Mind if I try to probe your defenses?" She said pulling her wand out.
"Have at it." Harry said with his shields firmly in place. He doubted Hannah Abbott was in Voldemort's league. "Aren't you worried about Madame Hopkirk?"
"Do you seriously believe they could detect obscure mind magic in a concealed house? I only trust the ministry to screw up. I am seldom disappointed. Okay, legilimens."
Harry barely felt her as she impacted on his walls. The same walls that he had spent every sleepless night since the death of his godfather erecting, fueling with both his pain and magic - the same walls that protected him from the foulness on the other end of his scar. There was nothing like the anguish and guilt over a foolishly preventable loss to galvanize him into action. Hannah actually staggered back two paces.
"Shit Harry!" Both hilarious and impressive in that, Hannah didn't seem the type to use vulgar language. "Now that's a core shield! I'll probably have a headache after that. Where are your tripwires?"
"Tripwires, your outer defenses that alert you to raise your core. You don't keep that monster up all the time do you?"
"Mostly. I reinforce it as soon as I feel him. I clear my thoughts before I go to sleep. It pretty much stops him except for times like last night."
"You're kidding!" Hannah was gaping at him.
"No, I'm not kidding. Care to explain why this is important?"
"Harry, if I tried to keep my core shield up all the time, I would literally pass out after twelve hours! I know I've tried, but here you are doing it all day and casting spells. Wait right here." She said practically running out of the room. Harry took the break to slide out of bed and put a dressing robe over his pajamas. Two minutes later, she came back with her sister in tow and an amulet in her hands.
"This better be good Hannah!"
"Go ahead probe him." Hannah said, and then blushed a second later at her younger sister's sly smirk. "Behave!"
Harry braced himself. The probe was actually a bit stronger than Hannah's causing him to cock an eyebrow. Chelsea sank to her knees, obviously not expecting the backlash.
"Ow! Ow! Ow! You could have warned me!"
"Would you have believed me?"
"Get this! He doesn't use tripwires. He keeps that thing up all day!"
"You're shittin me!" The younger Abbott looked considerably more comfortable using such language.
"Um, I am still in the room. I'm not a thing you know."
"Sorry. Harry, this is a mind shield. It's really rare and expensive. Receiving empaths like me use them every now and them to rest themselves. It doesn't last very long. I doubt it would keep You Know Who out for twenty seconds if he was attacking, but I want to do an experiment. Cast a light spell." As Harry complied, Hannah walked over to him and put the necklace around his neck. "Okay, keep the light spell going and drop that thing you call a core shield."
Harry released his shield and the light easily doubled in intensity. He didn't feel like he was thrusting any more magic into his spell then normal. There was no 'bucking' feeling like when he cast his patronus. "Chelsea, are you an empath too?" Harry asked before canceling the light spell.
"Yeah, but I project rather than receive. I don't have to worry about everyone else's moods. They have to worry about mine. Now I need a shirt that says, I tried to get into Harry's mind and all I got was this lousy headache!" She answered rubbing her temples and chuckling.
Harry took a moment to consider everything he had just learned as he erected his mental barrier and removed the mind shield. He wondered how much it would cost to acquire one or more. If he had all his magic available during a fight, he would be in a much better position to launch more damaging attacks. It was certainly worth considering. Harry hoped that Hannah could show him how to create these 'tripwires' that she kept mentioning. He also realized that Occulmency training helped develop and strengthen the witch or wizard's magical core.
"Hannah, can you show me how to build tripwires?"
"Okay. Here, I'll let you see what they look like to give you an idea? Give me a second. Since I don't know how powerful your attack is, I want to get my core up just in case you smash through too quickly." There was a fifteen second pause. "Alright. Have at it, Harry!"
He cast the spell and locked eyes with her. It was different from the one time he had gotten into Snape's mind. Memories flashed by like quicksilver confusing him. He could sense her core shield at the center as he struggled forward through memory after memory. Hannah was laughing. Hannah was crying. Hannah kissing Justin. Hannah lashing out at Chelsea. Hannah studying. Hannah cooking. Hannah naked in the bathroom mirror!
Harry abruptly broke contact blushing and not wanting to meet Hannah's eyes. There was silence and then - giggling.
"You did it didn't you? You hit him with 'Naked Hannah'. And you say I'm mean!"
"He was shredding my outer layers. Another second and he would have been attacking my core. There was no way I would have been able to get my core up in time if I didn't already have it up! So, yes, I hit him with 'Naked Hannah'."
Harry found his voice. "That was a dirty trick, Hannah."
"It sure is. Your outer layers are there to protect your core, warn you and slow an attacker. The best recommendation is to alternate emotions like happy memories, then sad ones, joy, then anger. It is supposed to unbalance the person trying to attack your mind. Now, I have only ever had a couple of people attack me up until now. That was a scary experience seeing how fast you were breaking through. I'm sorry I panicked and threw up 'Naked Hannah' to chase you out."
"But that is the outer ring concept. Multiple layers to deter someone while you raise up your core. I think Chelsea and I can show you how to make the outer layers. Who taught you?"
"Our parents brought in a private tutor, when I was eight. He never mentioned outer layers?"
"No. That damned git!"
"Well at least you have one massive core shield! Since, we know who is going to be attacking your mind; we can select memories that will be the most distasteful for him to see. Like all those times you have beaten him so far!" Hannah exclaimed rather enthusiastically.
"Hannah, Chelsea, if I do the DA again this year, I want you to start teaching people Occulmency. In fact, since it can be done underage, try starting with Lisa, Susan and Hermione while we are still here. Do you mind?"
"Well it is like exercising your magical core right? It will help make people stronger, even if they only master basic shields."
"Sure, we'll do it."
"Sis is right. It will be fun."
They talked for a few more minutes before Harry asked the girls to leave so he could get a quick shower. They agreed to help him learn how to make the outer tripwires in return for him teaching them spells when they got back to school. The hot shower felt really good on his sore shoulder. He planned on taking Susan to the Ministry to collect her aunt's effects from her office. Hopefully, he would get a chance to speak to Bill today. Most importantly, he wanted to start practicing spells, now that he was emancipated.
He changed quickly and headed out his door. Susan was there talking to Hannah. He gave Susan a quick kiss. She looked like she wanted nothing more than to crawl right back into her bed. She had a severe case of 'pillow head' and would probably have a fit if she realized it.
"Morning, Harry," she yawned.
"Hi. Did you sleep okay?"
"Pretty much. You?"
"Like a rock. Haven't slept that well in a long time. Anything you want to do today?"
"No. How about you?"
"Well Hannah convinced me that it would be a bad idea for us to go and get married today so that's off the table." Harry said with a grin.
Susan scowled at her friend. "And what else did Hannah and you discuss?"
Harry gave a big grin of vengeance as he started down the steps. "This and that. Hannah and Chelsea are going to do some special training for the DA this year. Did you know she's a natural blonde?" He didn't dare turn back around as he hurried down the steps.
Once at the bottom of the steps his smile quickly disappeared. It was due mostly to the fact that everyone was staring at him. Dobby held a plate out piled high with breakfast food, which Harry graciously accepted. He sat at the table next to Neville, who was reading. Mrs. Weasley came in from the parlor.
"How is Bill?" Harry asked.
"He is recovering. I will thank you to not take anymore of my family out on your little adventures." The older woman glared at Harry. Neville looked up from his book. Harry sensed all other activity in the parlor come to a screeching halt.
A mere two weeks ago, Harry would be cringing and looking for a place to hide preferably in another room. Harry met her gaze. "Excuse me?"
"You heard what I said, young man. Your presence around my family results in them getting hurt and I will not tolerate it any more. You have the nerve to come down here with a smile on your face! Running off to fight dementors is bad enough, but then you have to go and pick a fight with a group of vampires! Poor Ron and Hermione still have those awful scars, Ginny was lucky to escape with only had a broken ankle and now Bill. Perhaps next full moon you can lead a pack of werewolves into Fred and George's shop."
Harry's response came out more like a growl. "Unless I am mistaken, Bill and Emmeline Vance were in charge last night. I volunteered to go along with them. They are the Order members. Your adult son is the Order's Dark Creature expert, yet here you are in my kitchen, issuing me ultimatums while I'm trying to eat breakfast. You can conjure a patronus. You could have helped us fight the dementors and vampires. You could have come along, but you didn't. Don't go projecting your guilt on me." Harry spat the last two sentences out, wondering if Hermione would catch the references to the grief counseling books she had loaned him. Probably not.
"Well I never! After all we've done for you!" She huffed. "Stay away from my family!"
"Whatever. Feel free to stay away from me." Harry muttered turning back to his meal. Out of the corner of Harry's eye he saw something that caught his interest. The picture of Mrs. Black actually had a wand out in her portrait and had been pointing it at Molly Weasley. She was now putting it back into a holster. Was she about to cast a spell? Could portraits cast spells? That piqued his interest. He would need to question the portrait later to discover the reason for her behavior. A creak on the step caused him to turn around. He saw Susan heading back up the steps. He glanced into the parlor. Ginny and Hermione looked angrily at him. Ron was actually staring at his mother with a hard look on his face. Terry, Mandy and the Turpins were just staring on in wonder.
Mrs. Weasley continued to glare at him, but she didn't have anything on Snape. He was used to eating with someone trying to burn a hole through him with their eyes. She gave up a minute later and went into the parlor closing the door behind her. He shrugged and looked at Neville, who was already standing and starting to head upstairs.
"I'm going to go upstairs and read."
"Before you go, I need to talk to you. One of the vampires we ran into yesterday said his name was originally Darius Longbottom."
"Did you kill him?" Neville asked, suddenly interested.
"No. He's hiding at Susan's house. I guess he knows Dumbledore. I will need to arrange a meeting between the two of them. He gave us some information that we may be able to use about the Death Eaters."
"Was he working for them?"
"No. He is part of a clan in Italy. I guess Voldemort is trying to recruit from the various clans in Europe. They were there for a demonstration of his power. Three of them won't ever report back to their clans."
"Why did he give you the information?"
"I told him that Voldemort pretty much ordered your entire family's death."
Harry and Neville were still talking about the implications of Neville's vampire relative when the floo connection activated. The first figure that stumbled out was a stocky man in his mid forties with stringy blondish hair. Harry recognized the face as one of the advance team who came and retrieved him from the Dursley's last year. His name was Sturgis Podmore. Harry vaguely recalled that he had been arrested trying to break into the Department of Mysteries last year. For a brief moment, Harry wondered if Fudge had considered arresting him and the others who followed him there. Sturgis set the Nimbus 2001 he was carrying against the kitchen wall.
A moment later a second figure stumbled out of the kitchen floo. She was female and cowled and immediately fell into a rather ungraceful mess on the kitchen floor. Harry had a good idea who was behind the hooded cloak.
"Hello Tonks. Mr. Podmore."
"Wotcher Harry." She said still on the floor. The greeting lacked any enthusiasm whatsoever.
"Please call me Sturgis. Are any of the Order Members here?" He said helping Tonks to her feet.
"Only if you count Mrs. Weasley. Tonks is something wrong?"
She sat at the table and buried her head in her hands and continued sobbing. Harry looked at Sturgis. The older man shook his head from side to side as if to say 'Not now'.
"Come on Tonks. We'll take you upstairs and I will call Poppy, so she can look at you." As the auror stood her cloak fell back and Harry and Neville stared into the face of Bellatrix Lestrange. Harry gasped in shock and Neville was grabbing furiously for his wand. Sturgis acted quickly and pulled Tonks behind him.
"It's Tonks! He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did something to her. She's stuck like this! Put the damn wand away!" Harry took his hand off of his wand that he did not actually draw. Neville had his out and was still pointing it. Harry saw a look in Neville Longbottom's eyes he hadn't seen before. Instinctively, Harry grabbed Neville's arm and pulled it downwards.
"Take it easy Nev. It's not her. This is Tonks. She's a friend. She was here yesterday."
The look in Neville's eyes faded. He looked away, embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I told myself that if I ever saw her again, I'd kill her."
"Don't worry. You won't ever see the real Lestrange ever again. She's good and dead."
"You were at Azkaban last night!" Harry exclaimed.
Molly and the rest came back into the kitchen. There were a few additional gasps when they saw Tonks's face, which only made her sob harder. Harry put his arm around her and gently moved her in the direction of the stairs.
"Sturgis go ahead and call Madame Pomfrey. She was probably going to come out here and check me over anyway. I'll take Tonks up to our room. Neville, why don't you read up in the library?"
Harry led Tonks up the stairs, passing the wide-eyed Abbott sisters, and took her into his bedroom. He gestured to his bottom bunk bed.
"I hate it when people ask me if I want to talk about it. If you want me to leave just say so. There's a couple of dreamless sleep potions in the holder, but I would recommend waiting until Madame Pomfrey has looked you over."
Tonks didn't say anything she just sat there staring blankly at the wall for a minute. He recognized the look from staring at himself in the mirror for hours after Sirius died.
Harry knelt in front of her and held both her hands as he watched the tears stream down her face. "Who did we lose?"
"Kingsley and Moody from the Order, and a bunch of my friends." She answered in a broken voice. Harry was a bit stunned to hear that the Order's two best fighters were gone. While he had been discussing Occlumency with Hannah and Chelsea, he was secretly hoping to convince either of the two of them to give him private dueling lessons.
She was sobbing uncontrollably now. "We shouldn't have gone after him. He didn't even take us seriously."
That stopped Harry cold. He felt his anger building. "What did you say? Did you just say that you went after Voldemort?" He ignored her flinch at the name. He didn't remember her ever flinching before, but she had actually fought him and apparently lost rather convincingly.
"Moody thought we could take him."
Harry quickly silenced the door and the portrait again. "Didn't Dumbledore ever tell you the prophecy?"
"The one in the Department of Mysteries? No."
For the next minute Tonks watched in amazement as Harry Potter unleashed a string of expletives that was impressive in variety, venom and descriptiveness. It would certainly be both highly painful and anatomically risky to do that with a bowl of lemon drops. At length, Harry stopped.
"The prophecy says that I am the only one that can kill him. Dumbledore has known it since it was made, before I was even born. Dumbledore will answer for this and everything else!"
Tonks's face was a mask of shocked anguish as she realized that the lives of two people she looked up to had been needlessly wasted. She had stopped crying and was staring at an extremely irate Harry Potter.
"How long have you known this, Harry?" Tonks asked.
"The fucker told me right after the Department of Mysteries. 'Sorry about your Godfather, Harry. Oh and by the way, you are the only one who can kill Voldemort. Now run along and behave this summer!' I am getting used to being treated like this; what I can't believe is that he never warned you."
"Harry, He is too strong! Dawlish was with us, too! He took us out like a bunch of rookies. Moody was trying Unforgiveables at the end, and all He did was mock him."
"I will find a damned way! You're going to teach me more spells. Dumbledore doesn't seem to want to. Hell, he didn't even want me emancipated yesterday. I should be training, but he seems more interested in making sure that I am not learning anything useful."
The auror was impressed with his determination, but having seen two of the best aurors ever killed so easily found it hard to believe that someone just barely past his O.W.Ls was going to save the world from the Dark Lord. "I'll show you what I can, but it won't matter." She said, sounding defeated.
"Yes it will! Did I know anything when I stopped him the first time? I was a baby in a fucking crib! I can do this! I need your help." Harry thought it was ironic that he was giving her a pep talk. Maybe if he said it enough times, he would convince himself.
"Okay Harry. I'll help train you. It's not like I can go anywhere looking like this."
"I'm sure they'll fix you. Okay, I am going to go see what is keeping Madame Pomfrey. Call out for Dobby or Trixie if you need anything. I have to go to the Ministry today, but I will find you later and will set up times to work together."
Tonks managed a small smile on her morphed face. "Alright Harry."
"Is Sturgis right? Bellatrix is dead?"
"I killed her. She won't harm anyone else ever again."
"Good. I don't know whether anyone brought Sirius's portrait back yet, but when you get a chance tell it. I am sure he'll be happy." Harry cancelled his privacy charms and ran back downstairs passing the school nurse on the way. He was used to the eyes on him now. He grabbed parchment and a quill and wrote a scathing message.
Your capacity for fucking things up astounds me! Is it a gift or did you really have to work for it? Right now I don't even trust you to wipe your own ass correctly. I know what you and Mum did to the Dursleys. Moody and Shacklebolt are dead because you didn't warn them to avoid Voldemort! More blood on your hands. Rest assured you will be held accountable. I will make sure of it! Stay out of my way, old man! If you want to be useful for a change, then go to Susan's house and meet with your old friend Darius Longbottom. Hopefully, the vampires on the continent won't throw in with him.
He proofread the message and called for his owl. "Girl, find Dumbledore and give him this. Claw him if you feel like it. Shit on him too for good measure." He attached the letter and sent her on her way.
He turned around and looked at the room full of people gaping at him and saw Emmeline had also arrived. "Emmeline, how is Bill?"
"His face is bandaged up and he says it stings a bit. Other than that, he is fine. They let him go home an hour ago. His little girlfriend is with him." Emmeline's disdain was for Fleur was rather noticeable. He thought he heard a snort, probably from Molly. From what little Harry new of the situation Molly was already advising Bill on good locations for weddings.
"Did anyone get Dung's body?" Harry asked with a somber tone. The rest of the room went silent. Harry surmised that no one had mentioned Dung getting the Dementor's kiss.
"Damn. I forgot all about him! The muggles probably found him. I've just finished talking with my cousin. She says Rufus Scrimgeour wants to talk to you immediately."
"I thought Lisa and Kevin are your cousins? Who's Scrimgeour?"
"Wrong side of the family, my other cousins are Lavender Brown and her older brother Nicolas. Scrimgeour is the Head of Aurors. I think he is acting as Head of Law Enforcement right now. It's probably about the Dementors last night."
"That suits me just fine. Susan and I need to get a painting out of her Aunt's office. Are you ready Susan?"
"Just let me finish my juice," Susan said from over by the sink. She then proceeded to 'chug' the glass in a rather unladylike fashion.
"What do you know about Rufus Scrimgeour?"
"Auntie always said he was kind of abrasive, but he is good at what he does."
"Emmeline, are you coming too? I suppose we should have someone competent from the Order. Plus you were there last night." Harry supposed that he was getting good at having conversations in front of groups of people without really caring what they think. He was already moving in the direction of the fireplace and wondered if Mrs. Weasley caught the 'competent' comment.
"Sure. I can put a report in about Dung. I probably need to see Lavender. She sounded pretty upset. He destroyed Azkaban last night."
"Yeah. Tonks said they lost a lot of aurors last night. We'll go by floo, but let me make a pair of emergency portkeys back to here, since Susan and I still don't know how to apparate. We need to fix that." Harry grabbed two cork drink coasters off the table waved his wand over them and created two portkeys. He whispered the activation phrase in her ear making Susan laugh as they both looked at Hannah.
"It's her memory. Come on let's go see Scrimgeour. Lead the way Emmeline."
--- (Scene Break) ---
Harry Potter was not the only individual who received distressing news this morning. Lord Voldemort sat looking at reports surrounded by his Inner Circle at his round table. One of the newer recruits, who had been marked within the last month, reported that they had found Bellatrix's body. In his anger Voldemort wandlessly banished the man across the room.
The conversation came to a standstill as the man flew through the air, impacted, and slid down the wall. Voldemort sat with a pensive look on his face before pointing to Damien Mulciber to collect the injured messenger and take him to the mediwizard. He stood and held the edges of the table with both hands.
"Bellatrix allowed herself to become sloppy and she has paid the price for her stupidity! Let her death teach you a lesson. Do not underestimate the enemy! There is a time and place for torture. The battlefield is not the place for torture. It is a place to conquer your enemy. Do not fail me because of your own petty schemes and vendettas. She allowed herself to become distracted. She was one of the best duelers among us, yet her distraction was the death of her. If you fail me in such a way, pray you die." The temperature in the room chilled noticeably and many of the newly freed Death Eaters shifted uncomfortably in their seats. He looked at the empty seat next to him. It would be a reward to elevate one of his followers to his empty 'hand' position. He could see Peter eyeing the chair with a look of raw ambition.
Voldemort considered his options. 'Not today Peter. You are improving, but it is past time I reward my most faithful servant of all. I see no further need in catering to the English purebloods. Once Antonin is done seeing Penelope off, I will install him in his rightful place.'
Oddly enough, Voldemort was also angry at himself for not finishing off the metamorphagus when he had the chance. He suspected that the escaped animagus had a hand in Bellatrix's demise as well. He would miss the deviant woman's insanity, but he was more incensed at the loss of a particular valuable asset or favored pet. A long dormant memory from his youth surfaced when he and his fellow orphans had 'adopted' a three-legged dog for a short time. It took the callous adults less than one week to discover it and kill it in front of the horrified children. Young Tom Riddle was forced to dig the hole that became the grave of the dog known as 'Tripod'.
"Avery, you and Rookwood take five of the new recruits and interrogate the Podmores. I wish to know if the animagus has returned to his family. Leave at least one alive if he is not there. Peter, I require updates from our sources in the ministry. I wish to know what they are planning. There was already a Wizengamot meeting scheduled for today. Find out if the time has been changed. Our representatives in the legislature will continue to stall their attempts to appoint an interim minister. Lucius, I leave this in your capable hands. Nominate Horatio Caruthers from our side. Have others nominate that fool Diggory, as well as William Parker and Ravi Patil. Multiple candidates will split the opposition's loyalties and make a majority much less likely. I expect that there will be no new Minister of Magic this week. Parkinson, Nott, Crabbe, you will take five of the new recruits to meet with the vampire delegation from the continent tomorrow night. Nott will handle the negotiations. Explain to them the folly of rejecting my generous offer to join my ranks. McNair, you will accompany me while we extend our hand in friendship to Greyback's kinsmen. Select three of the new recruits and Madame Faircloth. I wish to see if she still possesses any of her former political savvy. If she mentions Fudge and his family, remind her that the best revenge requires proper planning."
He left the table and went to the small bar in the corner of the room. It was a bit early for Scotch, but he poured himself a drink and watched as his minions broke into smaller groups. Dolohov entered the chamber and walked to him stopping precisely two meters in front of him an executing a bow.
"Milord, she is off to seek either the curse breaker or the joke shop owners. I expect she will be in position by this evening, tomorrow at the latest."
Voldemort dropped his voice to a whisper. "Excellent old friend. Bellatrix is no more and I am in need of a new 'hand'. I see no need to further ingratiate myself to the English purebloods. My conquest will eventually spread to the continent and beyond. It is time to put on a more global face to my organization. Send out some feelers to our former associates in what remains of Christobal's old organization and into Eastern Europe. I believe there may be a friendly ear there. We have an influx of recruits, but I expect them to be a poorly trained lot. I charge you with training them into a serviceable force. Use Parkinson and Mulciber as your assistants. Lucius will handle the operation of our headquarters and affairs of politics here in England. Others will gather the creatures of the dark to me. You, my friend, will bring the ambitious Wizards and Witches of Europe into my service. Who is the new headmaster at Durmstrang?"
"Yuri Krum. Gregor Voorhees is our man there. He has been elevated to Deputy Headmaster. Do you wish for Krum to be eliminated?"
"No. Not yet. Do make sure that Igor's body will be found by his former students when their term begins. It will serve as a forceful reminder that my will extends beyond the British Isles. Have Voorhees continue his recruiting efforts and increase his funding accordingly. It would also do to for us to begin to send a few people to the Americas. They can use the excuse that they are fleeing the storm brewing here. We could use a person on staff at New Salem and several of the smaller schools."
"I will begin evaluating candidates for work abroad."
"When Penelope is successful, we should send her to the States. Your grandchild should be born in relative safety. I have grown rather fond of Penelope during your recent incarceration. You should know that she was a constant advocate of arranging your release."
"She is also quite gifted at ancient runes and charms. Perhaps an apprenticeship in New Salem could be arranged, or a teaching position at one of the others."
"Yes, a splendid idea. Arrange it."
The two of them continued to discuss the international aspects of Lord Voldemort's campaign. They debated the relative weakness of the German ministry versus conquering the French Ministry as a potential next target. The other topic was if it would be worth the effort to influence the elections next year in Spain and Portugal. Bloodless victories did not get the blood flowing in the troops quite as much, but their importance could not be diminished. The sound of a small argument interrupted their hushed conversation.
"See I told you nothing ever changes. Same old Wormtail!" The boastful voice of Walden McNair shouted with his crooked teeth grinning and an eye patch over his damaged socket. Voldemort planned to make the gift of Alastor Moody's eye sometime tomorrow. It was ironic that Peter had been detailed to locate the vision specialist to adjust the eye to Walden. Peter simply glowered back at the large man.
"So, little rat. Are there clean linens in my room? Did you remember to leave a mint on the pillow? I need a wake up promptly at 7 AM," McNair continued. Several of the others laughed. Rookwood was laughing so hard that he was gasping for breath. Voldemort was interested to see what Peter's books had taught him about confrontation.
Peter looked up. Everyone assumed the redness on his face was from embarrassment and not from anger. They were all wrong.
"What kind of wizard are you, McNair? Who names their child Walden to begin with? A mother who does not expect her child to go far? Perhaps a father who realized he did not pull out quick enough? I digress. I do recall you being outsmarted by a hippogriff recently. True, it did have the unfair advantage of being chained to a post at the time. What kind of wizard uses an axe of all things to kill something? Are you that magically feeble? I would go so far as to guess that you were the weak link at the ministry. Which one of the children incapacitated you? Probably the weakest among them."
The room was utterly quiet for a moment as the two stared at each other. Voldemort allowed a thin smile at the looks of shock from his inner circle. The silence ended with both men going for their wands. Peter's draw was flawless. Walden's in contrast was rusty.
The former Executioner of Dangerous Creatures appeared to be attempting a banishing spell with four wand movements. Peter's spell was much simpler, two slashing wand movements and a powerful incantation.
The spell blasted McNair backwards into the wall, where he collapsed in a screaming heap. Pettigrew advanced on Walden McNair. His eyes glowed with a savage anger. Voldemort took a moment to analyze the magic he felt from his silver-handed attendant. The magic was sub par, but the intent was clearly compensating for it. Neither man would be considered a superb dueler. McNair was simply a thug and Peter, well he was rapidly becoming harder to describe.
"Scream like a stuck pig, you worthless piece of trash. You aren't fit to serve in the Master's inner circle. I would be doing our side and the bloodlines a favor by removing you from it. Squirm! Yes, that's it, squirm, you pathetic dog."
He released McNair after thirty seconds. He leveled his wand at the large man sprawled on the ground before him.
"Sorry I don't have an axe, Walden. Guess I'll do this the old fashioned way. Avada ..."
"Peter!" Voldemort's voice cut through the air stopping the pudgy wizard mid-incantation. "I didn't go to all the trouble to liberate Walden and the rest just to have you kill him on his first day back. At least give him a week before you dispose of him. I do need him for my mission to the werewolves."
"As you wish Master." Peter said with a resigned voice. "I'll let him live this time."
--- (Scene Break) ---
Harry emerged into Auror Headquarters. He was surprised to see two aurors on station with wands trained at the floo entrance and by extension him. Emmeline was already at the counter conversing with Lavender Brown. Harry thought Lavender looked a bit worse for wear. He approached the counter and was followed by Susan. For the second time, Harry noted that he needed to question her on how she manages to keep herself so clean when coming out of the floo.
"Harry, it's good to see you." The blonde girl said.
"Wish it was under better circumstances, Lav."
"Me too. I'd rather be trading gossip over an ice cream. I will let Director Scrimgeour know that you are here." She said looking at Harry and then Susan. She stopped at Susan smiled and arched an eyebrow, before turning and heading towards the offices. Harry accepted the visitor badge one of the desk workers offered and pinned it to his shirt.
A minute later Lavender returned and led them back to the Director's office. She showed them in and left seconds after. Harry had never met Rufus Scrimgeour, so he took a moment to regard the man. He was rather imposing and carried himself with an air of superiority.
"Mr. Potter, Ms. Bones, Thank you for coming so promptly. May I see your wands please?" Harry thought it was an odd request, but complied.
He watched as the Acting Head of Magical Law Enforcement waved his wand over the pair of wands in front of him and then poured a potion onto two rags and instructed them to polish their wands. Harry was at least comforted by the fact that Susan and Emmeline looked as confused as he did.
"Under normal circumstances, the enchantments on your wands disappear when you come of age. Due to your emancipation, you need to have it manually removed. Every spell you have used since yesterday was still being recorded by Madame Hopkirk's office." He handed them both copies of the parchment detailing their activities.
"As you can well imagine Mr. Potter, I have questions to ask you. I am curious to know your reasons for using two of the three Unforgivables?"
Harry paused for a minute hearing Emmeline surprised gasp. "Sir, in the middle of fighting the dementors, we encountered a group of vampires. My actions were legal under the Dark Creatures Act of 1903."
"What proof can you offer?"
"Will a pensieve memory suffice?"
"It will do for a starters. Then I would like to discuss the two magnitude level five spells you cast, which our equipment could not identify." Harry wasn't exactly sure what a magnitude level five spell was. He reckoned it must be his new patronus. Emmeline must have had some clue as she looked at Harry and shook her head.
Harry found it unusual for the Director to be calmly standing there and having not confiscated his wand or anything after informing him that they detected his use of Unforgivables. Scrimgeour was a practiced law enforcement agent and an aspiring politician. He could read the thoughts on Harry's face as clearly as if the teenager had spoken them aloud.
"There are six aurors prepared to attack you if you leave this room without me giving the all clear signal. It would be best if you also made no threatening gestures right now. I am also confident that Susan would have nothing to do with a craven killer. Your aunt spoke very highly of you, Miss Bones. Also the variety of spells you used including medical spells, the patronus charm as well as combat spells allowed me to be more willing to hear your explanation rather than subdue you the moment you came out of the floo." Clearly, Rufus Scrimgeour was no fool!
Harry provided the memory of the encounter in front of the cinema. He terminated the memory at the point they were left with the vampire. Harry did not want to compromise Coedus's location until he had a better feel for the Chief Auror. Rufus gestured for Harry to enter the pensieve first. Both Susan and Emmeline followed Rufus into the large basin.
For the next few minutes they watched Harry first drive off the Dementors and turn to face the vampires. It was the first time Harry had watched himself literally in action. He watched himself with a critical eye, looking for flaws in his form and finding nothing other then he leads with his right side slightly.
Susan watched Harry in combat. The only other time she had seen him was in her house, which was still. She still hadn't held him to his promise to show the rest of his adventures. When the others had arrived, she could never get him alone and she had been too afraid to push him further on the matter. Honestly, she worried that if she did, it would have driven him towards Ginny Weasley.
Simply put, Harry was incredible. Aunt Amelia had occasionally let her watch the auror trainees duel. His movements were swift and efficient. There were no wasted movements. She flinched when the one vampire's blow knocked Harry backwards. She caught her breath as Harry bounced onto the street. She watched the vampire decide between the two injured wizards and turn towards Bill. Without hesitation Harry cast the killing curse and felled the vampire. She saw herself and Emmeline arrive. It had not occurred to her at the time exactly how much pain Harry was in at that moment. Emmeline apparated Bill away. Susan spared a glance at Ms. Vance and saw a thoughtful expression on her face.
The scene played out much the way Susan remembered. She saw that Harry was watching the memory of Susan and her reaction to his actions. He turned and looked at her with an apologetic look. She answered with her very best brave smile. Scrimgeour was busy watching the interrogation, but did note the nonverbal exchange between the two teenagers. The memory faded and everyone exited the pensieve.
"Well Mr. Potter, I do believe that answers the use of the Unforgiveables. I recommend that this does not become public knowledge. Like it or not you are currently being painted as the savior. The world needs a hero right now and one that would not use those types of spells. The public is fickle. Madame Hopkirk is under strict orders to ensure that any record of this is destroyed."
"I did spend last year as an 'attention seeking glory hound' according to the papers. Then suddenly, I am a lone voice of truth in a dark time. The remaining vampire gave me information about a Death Eater meeting tomorrow night."
"Good work on those vampires. I've heard a rumor here or there that you want to join the force when you leave school. After seeing you in action, I doubt that will be a problem. Where is the vampire now?"
"Safe, for the moment. I have someone keeping an eye on him as we speak. He claims to be an acquaintance of Dumbledore. I have informed him about it. He showed me his registration tattoo - DCV0016. You should have him on file."
"Where is the meeting going to take place?"
Harry answered Rufus and then provided the memory of him casting the Dementor killing patronus. He started the memory as he was walking away from the car with the kissed baby in it. It was here that Harry noticed that he had wandlessly summoned his Firebolt. This time no one missed it. It was very disorienting following the Harry in the memory as he flew across the streets to attack the hovering Dementors. It generated a feeling of vertigo that made everyone slightly nauseous, akin to a muggle amusement park attraction. The group watched the Harry cast the spell using no wand movements or visible incantation. As he cast the spell there was the same distortion effect around Harry that he had sensed earlier. The solid patronus thundered across the pavement and gored the Dementor. Scrimgeour watched in fascination as something thought impossible occurred, a Dementor was slain. The memory continued as they watched Harry hug the patronus before it disappeared and finally the failed attempt to save Fletcher's life along with the second killer patronus. Harry noticed how badly he staggered after casting the patronus for the second time.
Scrimgeour considered all this. The vampires would be a bit wary of joining Voldemort and the Dementors may be wishing that they had not joined the Dark Lord. Now he realized why the soul suckers had suddenly retreated into the night. The moment he learned that they had abandoned Azkaban, Rufus feared the size of the body count. It had been significantly less than any of the Arithmatical estimates given by the Ministry's disaster preparation team. He now knew the reason why. The Dementors were afraid of Harry Potter. He turned to look at the teenager, who clearly outclassed everyone in this building in raw magical talent.
"That has to be the single most impressive bit of magic I have ever seen, Mr. Potter. It is no wonder the Dementors suddenly withdrew. The number crunchers at the Ministry said that if this ever happened, there would be two to three times the number of deaths. Do you know how to reproduce the effects and is it a spell that can be taught to someone else?"
"No sir." Harry answered somewhat dejectedly. "It takes a massive burst of power and I feel weak after doing it. No spell really came to mind, I just wanted them gone."
"Would you be able to demonstrate the spell here?"
"I am not sure. We can give it a try, but your office is too small."
"Let me give the all clear signal and we can head to a dueling pit. Even if no one else can do this, it is still significant. Most likely, the Dementors will not attack unless they have a Death Eater escort. It will make their attacks bigger in size, but more easily countered. Follow me."
The group which now included Lavender, a wizard named Jennings and a Senior Auror named Dawson headed to a dueling pit. Several others stopped what they were doing and moved to a location where they could watch. Harry stood and concentrated for a moment, trying to feel the power inside of him. He could feel the swell of power building. Deciding to cheat a little, he reduced the flow of energy to his core shield to a trickle. The resulting shift caused his arm to buck more violently than in the memories as the stag erupted from the end of his holly wand. If possible the stag was even larger now. Prongs looked around sensing no immediate threat. It walked slowly on the elevated platform and stopped in front of the group that had gathered there. Scrimgeour climbed up and reached out to touch it. He felt the fur on its head and the heat of its breath. It was a solid creature! Others reached up from the ground and touched the closest foreleg. The patronus faded after two minutes.
The female Auror looked at the Director. "Sir, it is impressive, but I fail to see the significance."
"I watched Mr. Potter's patronus kill two Dementors last night."
"Yes, kill. Not drive off, kill. How do you feel Mr. Potter?"
"Pretty worn out. Don't ask me to do that again for at least an hour or two."
"Fair enough. We should go back to my office."
"Is it possible for Susan and I to collect Madame Bones's personal effects from her office at the Ministry?"
"Very well, we can continue our discussion there. I need to go there for the Wizengamot meeting this afternoon. Come to think of it you and Miss Bones should be there as well, we have been unable to elect an interim Minister for over a week. It is vital that the public see the government is in control."
"Even if it isn't?" Harry asked looking him in the eye.
Scrimgeour returned the look before saying quietly, "Especially if it isn't."
As they walked back up to the main level, Harry could see Lavender trying to whisper to Susan on the steps. He didn't have to be close to the conversation to see that Lavender "The Gossip Niffler" was burrowing for the veritable mother lode. Harry decided to intercede.
"Lavender, are you pestering my girlfriend?"
"Of course not Harry. Wait, did you just say girlfriend?"
"Um, I suppose I did." He said passing her at the top of the steps and seeing a smile on Susan's face.
"That's great! Congratulations!" Lavender said closing her gaping mouth and regaining her composure.
"Thank you." Susan responded with a bit of a blush on her face.
The group continued to the direct floo connection to the Ministry. Dawson returned to her duties and Lavender said her goodbyes and seemed suddenly interested in leaving. Harry received a regular ministry visitor badge, which Rufus tapped with his wand and the words "Authorized to Carry Wand" appeared on the badge. From there they traveled to the Ministry. They arrived on the fourth floor, which belonged to the various branches of Magical Law Enforcement.
As the guard at the floo was checking Emmeline's badge, Harry leaned in close to Susan. "How many people do you think Lavender will call today?"
"At least thirty. Any particular reason, you decided to announce that to the largest gossip in Hogwarts?"
"Actually, yes. It's been a really bad day for everyone. If some gossip about you and I takes people's minds off things even for a few minutes, then maybe people won't dwell so much on all the negative out there. If I had mentioned that we are engaged, we would still be back there trying to revive her."
"I don't see an engagement ring on my hand Mr. Presumptive." She teased.
"We'll stop at Gringotts on the way to the Wizengamot. I need to speak to the goblins anyway. I think there may be some very nice jewelry in one of the vaults. I am sure we can find you something." He fired back nonchalantly.
"Really Harry? I was just teasing you?"
"I know, but it doesn't change anything. You still should have a ring, plus, I want to see Hannah's face when you have it on."
"Okay," Susan said hesitantly. In her mind she thought, 'Damn! He is doing it again! How can he be so casual about picking up an engagement ring?'
They passed through the checkpoint and were lead to the Amelia Bones's office. The lettering was still on the door. Harry squeezed Susan's hand as they got close and he saw her darkening expression. She tried to smile as they entered.
"Jennings, will you help Ms. Vance and Susan collect Amelia's personal effects. Mr. Potter can we speak in private?"
"Susan, are you going to be okay?"
"Not really, but you should go with him anyway."
"If you say so. Don't hesitate to come get me if you need to." He said following Rufus into a different office. He watched as the Director performed a more complex privacy charm then Harry was used to seeing. He made a mental note to ask to see that one again at some point in the future.
"What did you want sir?" Harry asked
"First off call me Rufus. May I call you Harry?"
"Harry's good. I keep hearing Mr. Potter and have to remind myself not to look for some Hogwarts professor calling me."
"I will cut to the chase. How close are you to Dumbledore? Everything I had heard up to this point led me to believe that you were Dumbledore's man through and through."
"Two weeks ago, you were probably right. A month ago, you were definitely right. Now, I am Harry son of James and Lily. I am my own man and I intend to remain that way."
"Well spoken. I heard rumors of tension between the two of you. I wanted to confirm them before I asked anything else from you."
"What is it you want from me?"
"You have a voice in our government now and you are riding a crest of popular opinion. Combine the two and I believe your choice could determine who becomes the next Minister of Magic."
"I guess you would like to be the next Minister."
"I realized this morning that if this war is to be fought. The leaders should want to win. They should be warriors and not politicians."
"Let me see your bare arms." Harry asked knowing it was a social taboo in Wizarding culture, but then again so was using Unforgivables.
Rufus did not hesitate and removed his shirt baring both arms for inspection. Harry reached out and touched both arms in the spot where Voldemort marks his victims. He felt nothing from his scar.
"You're not a Death Eater."
"Polyjuice or a glamour spell could cover it."
"Not from me. My scar connects me to the bastard. I can feel the mark on someone else, if I am in direct physical contact. I learned that lesson after Crouch Junior. Dumbledore had me prove it on Snape before the term ended."
For a brief moment Scrimgeour toyed with the idea of having Harry validate every one in the Ministry as a Dark Mark detector, but discarded it. Perhaps later a screening of his senior staff would be in order.
"Ah yes. The spy. I recall he was with you at the Bones attack. Or at least that is the story that was given?"
"I do believe that is what the record shows." Harry replied with a voice laden with innuendo.
"As I suspected. I am sure the old man appreciated you not turning in his pet redemption project."
"Not as much as you would think. What do you think of Werewolves, Goblins, Vampires, Centaurs, House Elves and any other race I left out?"
"Lycanthropy is an affliction and is controllable. Vampirism is a state and as such can be contained but never completely controlled. Centaurs will fight only on their terms and most likely for neither side. House Elves are a servant race, who do not really desire their freedom. Goblins are a servant race, who greatly desire their freedom. Unless steps are taken, the victor in this war will face a Goblin revolt within five years in all likelihood. Giants are a dying race, who will probably not go quietly into the night. Trolls are grunts, whose services will be purchased by both sides. Let's see who am I missing? Merfolk! They could care less unless their domain is threatened."
"Do you think any can be brought to our side?"
"Werewolves don't exist in a formal government and must be treated as individuals and small packs. Unfortunately, they have been rather poorly treated because of their monthly affliction. Some could be convinced, some will take no sides and most will join the Dark Lord for the promise of revenge and a few galleons to rub together. The best we can hope for from the Vampires of Europe is that they stay neutral and remain outside the conflict. Merfolk and the Centaurs picture themselves superior to our squabbles and it would take a direct threat to their domains to make them tilt either way. The only real question mark is the Goblins, who ironically hold everyone's purse strings. They would demand concessions for their support. Most likely more than our people would be willing to give. So the most direct answer to your question is no."
"Okay, I accept your reasoning. I still believe some overtures and concessions would be useful in keeping them from the other side. How do you propose fighting this war?"
"Conscription and mobilization of wizards and witches between the age of 18 and 35. A self defense force of over 3000 in that age group. Though some will flee and others will find various ways of avoiding service."
"I seem to recall something from History of Magic about the Vatican Accords of 1575, where the ministries of Europe negotiated a truce with the Catholic Church and part of that was that there would be no magical armies?"
"It appears the Dark Lord was not a signatory. He appears to be gathering an army. We will have a self defense force. I believe in the muggle world they would be called the National Guard or the Reserves. It would not be an army and would not be allowed to operate outside of England."
"I don't know if I like it, but it is the first idea I've heard that sounds like it could work. How do you stop the Death Eaters from infiltrating your self defense force? How do you plan to pay for it all?"
"Initial physicals and random checks for conscripts. For the money part, well have you ever seen a government that tried to fight a war on a budget that won? We'll find the money. With an average cost of 6000 galleons per person it would run close to 20 million per year to field and equip this force. How much money do you have in your vaults, Harry? How much would you be willing to give to stop him?"
"Money's never mattered to me before. I will be glad to contribute, as long as I can see some results. You'll need to be able to fund this for at least a couple of years. If we haven't destroyed him in two years, my guess is that there won't be a Wizarding Britain left to fight for, but I don't want to bankroll your entire force. Some others will need to step forward and do their share. Let them know you have a portion of the funding, but not all. Hell, you can let Death Eaters buy exemptions for their little Death Nibblers emptying his coffers and giving you more money."
"That could work. Though it would seem that the poor and Muggleborn would carry the burden. There could be backlash against the wealthy. Can I count on your support?"
"In for a Knut, in for a Galleon. Once again a month ago, I wouldn't have even considered your offer. Now, I'll take all the help I can get. My support is contingent on one thing."
"What is that?"
"Everyone gets a trial. None of this Barty Crouch shit again where people are just sent to Azkaban or whatever replaces it unless they are already previously convicted."
"I can agree to that." He held out his hand.
"Count me in Rufus." Harry clasped and shook, hoping he was doing the right thing.
The full version of my author's notes are up on Darklordpotter(dot)net. The short version right here; I have never seen a story that included conscription or the possibility of a draft. Have you? Something to think about isn't it? Why aren't their Wizarding Armies? Why did JKR give us an unrealistic monetary system? Say the Grangers were on Holiday in the US and won the current Mega Millions jackpot of 160 Million USD. If they converted it all into galleons could they buy the ministry like the Malfoy's. In a fictional world where 1000 galleons is enough money to risk getting yourself killed by a dragon, how much is the cost of living. Olivander sold Harry his wand for a mere 7 galleons. You would think the primary tool of a wizard would cost more?