Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter (et al). That privilege goes to the talented and lovely J. K. Rowling, to whom I am eternally indebted, both for a fascinating read and for many bedtime stories for my daughter.
Disclaimer 2: This story is only the tiniest bit HBP compliant! That...book...and its sequel, Deadly Horrible, demonstrate that even talented and lovely authors can make (hideously large and ugly) mistakes from time to time.
For this purpose, I am ignoring that really stupid plot device called Horcruxes. If you wish to insist on them, then the only one Riddle made, was the diary. Once he realized he’d split his soul in half, he decided further experimentation was far too risky…for him.
Disclaimer 3: I also do not own Star Wars. That belongs to George Lucas and 20th Century Fox and probably a bunch of others I’m not aware of. I do own a lightsaber, though. I like lightsabers!
A/N: I wish to thank my sister, FireLemming, for her beta work. She doesn’t even follow the Harry Potter fandom, preferring TLK, and yet, will take time to offer much needed (and often unappreciated) critical advice. I also must thank her for the more esoteric touches. Having an expert in English literature, anthropology and mythology standing over your shoulder and making snide comments about your writing can be a pain, but it also makes research much easier.
September 1, 1997; 10:23 AM
Remus Lupin ascended the stairs of #4 Privet drive, and snarled in disgust at the half dozen deadbolts and padlocks on Harry’s door. The Dursleys had made themselves scarce when the message arrived telling them Harry would be removed for the school year. When he and his team had gotten to the house, the doors had been locked and the windows, shut tight. Hestia Jones, who was on duty at the time, told him the Dursleys had vanished a few hours before…just as she arrived, in fact. They had left Harry behind, which was to be expected.
Lupin had picked the lock on the back door, rather than risk Harry’s getting into trouble for any magic detected at this house. The ministry was still in confusion, with Fudge’s having seen Voldemort himself in June. The Death Eaters holding the senior positions in the ministry still wished to maintain the status quo, until their master was ready, and so, Harry was a particularly prime scapegoat. Rufus Scrimgeour was as much the corrupt politician as Fudge had been, though his minimal efforts made him look like he was actually doing something. Auror recruits and apprentice healers were being actively sought…but only amongst the purebloods. And only amongst those who supported Voldemort’s position.
“Harry?” Remus called, knocking on the wooden panel. Climbing the stairs, he’d caught the odor of blood…and other, less pleasant things, overlain by commercial scents. Now, through the door, the smell was incredible! Harry remained silent. Intensely concerned for the boy’s safety, Remus pulled out his wand and snapped: “Alohamora!” He’d have Albus deal with the ministry later. The locks snapped open and he pushed open the door, and entered the tiny room. As soon as he had, he wished he had not. It was like walking into an invisible wall of stench! Inside the small chamber, it was overpowering! To his lycanthropy-enhanced nose, it was worse! Blood, sweat, urine, feces and infection all crowded his nose, each seeking dominance.
“Harry?” He queried anxiously, trying not to spew. The miasma was horrible and getting worse! “Are you all right? It’s nearly time for you to be on the train. Aren’t you ready?” The darkened room was tiny as a walk-in, but he still couldn’t see Harry.
“No.” Came a dull, lifeless voice, from his right. A voice so cracked with pain that Remus barely recognized as Harry’s. He sought out the voice but saw only a shadow in the corner. The light from the hallway didn’t reach this corner. The surplus army cot was empty, and a burnt pile of ‘something’ slumped against the wall.
“Because I’m not going back.” Harry’s monotone was disconcerting to say the very least. Remus flicked on the switch with no result. A coughing laugh from the darkened room, answered his unasked question. “Vernon took it out. Freaks…like me…don’t …deserve the…benefits…of hard…hardworking, normal…people’s technology.” Harry broke off in a spate of agonized coughing. Remus smelled fresh blood.
Growling at the fat man’s stupidity, Remus stepped over to the window to open the shades, only to find the window over the broken and repaired desk had been boarded over. Swearing, Remus again drew his wand and vanished the boards. He was annoyed to discover that the bars that the twins had so un-gently removed before Harry’s second year, had been replaced with a heavier set. He lifted the sash and vanished the bars as well.
Turning toward Harry’s voice, he gasped in shock at what he saw. Harry’s face was a mass of cuts and bruises. He’d been beaten so badly his eyes were swollen shut and blood oozed from between the lids. His ragged shirt was soaked with blood and pus and stuck to his skin. Through the thin material of the worn tee, Remus could see livid bruises and what appeared to be shards of bone protruding from Harry’s chest. The hugely oversized trousers encircled him like a tent.
“Harry! What happened!?!” Remus dropped to his knees and reached out to touch Harry’s face. The result was a snap of energy, a sharp pain, and Remus’ hand flying back into his chest, stinging madly…like he’d burnt himself on something made of silver.
“What do you care?”
“What?” Remus was shocked that Harry would ask him something like that!
“I said…” Harry coughed harshly. Blood flecked his lips. He spat weakly, and the bloody sputum fell onto his shirt, rather than to the floor. Remus noticed that Harry was missing several teeth. “…What do you care?”
“Harry, how could you say that? We’re here to protect you.”
“Then why is it…that after…each of ‘my…daily beatings’, I would see the…the Order’s night-watchman…doing nothing?” Harry gasped out bitterly. “Some protection. I know exactly…when each of you arrives…and departs. I’ve even…even seen you seven…
times. Nobody did a…a single, fuckin’ thing! Vernon coached his overgro…grown beachball in the…‘finer points of pugilism’…with me serving as…the heavybag,…and nobody did a thing. I tried to get…to get a message out. I couldn’t use Hedwig… because Ol’ Dumblemort…imprisoned her…at Hogwarts. Apparently…it was too… dangerous…for me to have any letters…from my friends. If they really…were my friends at all. I threw a…a wadded up …note down to the…person under the… invisibility…cloak at the…corner of…of the garden. Guess who? Ol’ Snivellus read it, grinned…at me…and set it on fire!” Harry took a raling breath, then whispered: “Somehow…Vernon found out…and boarded…boarded over the…window. He told me: “No more contact…with the freaks.” Then, he decided to beat that lesson…into me. No. I’ve had…had done with the…the wizarding world. I’m not going back.”
“Harry, you must. You need to…”
“Nothing!” Harry interrupted harshly. “I ‘need to do’, not a…a goddamned thing! I will not return to…Hogwarts, I will not…return to the…wizarding…world, and assuming I… I survive this; I will not…remain in Britain. I’m done! Go tell that to…your…your wonderful Führer!” Harry fell back coughing weakly. From where he knelt, Remus could hear the rales as the boy gasped for breath.
Tonks, Gred and Forge entered the room just to hear the last of Harry’s speech. All three cast ‘Lumos’ spells. Tonks cried out in shock when she saw the human wreckage that was Harry Potter, and the twins chimed: “Faugh! This place stinks to high…Harry! What happened?” Harry paid them no mind. He was far too busy being unconscious.
As the twins cast several air freshening spells to clear the stench from the room, Tonks surged forward, crying: “Oh Merlyn! We’ve got to get him to Hogwarts!” She reached out to pick Harry up, and was blasted backwards for her troubles. Fred caught her and smirked. “Why Nymmy, I didn’t know you careUrrk!” The last being uttered courtesy of Tonks elbow planted firmly in his belly.
“Call me that again, and I aim lower!” She growled.
“All that aside, Harry needs medical attention!” Remus snarled, interrupting the foolery. His cub had been injured and by God, he was going to do something about it!
A chirruping at the window, signaled the presence of a ministry owl. George let the bird in, ordered it to stay and closed the window before it could leave. If a bird could be seen as disgruntled, this one was.
Fred placated the bird with a few owl treats and a bowl of water. Suddenly the owl wasn’t so surly. Tonks took the note and opened it. Scanning it quickly, she frowned, then scribbled a short note on the envelope and tied it to the owl’s leg.
“I’m invoking Auror Authority, Tonks, N. Alpha Theta Zed niner niner five four.” She said as she gently scratched the feathers on the bird’s head. “Please take this directly to Madam Hammer, of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and to no one else. Interrupt whatever she’s doing, but you make certain she gets this!” The bird gave the owlish equivalent of a shrug, and left through the now re-opened window.
“What to do now?” Fred asked.
“We need to see how to get through this shield of his.” Remus replied. “You can see his wand? That’s why the ministry sent the owl. He used it to cast this shield or ward or whatever it is, and they detected it. They’ve probably scheduled another hearing…or worse. My biggest concern though, is that Harry’s hurt badly and we can’t get through the shield to help him.” They could all see that Harry’s condition was worsening.
“Maybe the ministry knows what kind of shield it is.” Tonks ventured. She plucked up the discarded warning from Mafalda Hopkirk.
“Dear Mr. Potter.
A ‘Nyx Invinctus Aegis’ shield charm was detected
at your residence at 10:34 AM today. As this is your third
warning per the decree for the Reasonable Restriction of
Underage Sorcery, 1875, Para: C, as you are currently
under investigation for your part in the burglary of the
Ministry of Magic, Department of Mysteries, and as this
shield is classified as a dark arts spell, per the Prohibition
Against Dark Spells, of 1949, Section 1127, Para’s: D-3,
D-4a through 4c, and D–5 through D–9, you are hereby
expelled from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
You will surrender your wand for destruction upon
the arrival of the Aurors, who will place you under arrest,
and will accompany them to the Ministry of Magic where
your case will be decided.
Any resistance on your part will result in forfeiture
of all your assets and an immediate ten year incarceration
in Azkaban Prison.
Please enjoy the rest of your day.
Improper Use of Magic Office,
Ministry of Magic”
Tonks had barely finished reading, when three men dressed as Aurors, raced up the stairs, firing hexes at them. The four in the room reacted instantly.
Within seconds, each of the invaders fell to a stunner. Sighing, Tonks pulled out her star, and pressed the stylized eye in the center. Moments later, a barrage of ‘pops’ around the house signaled the arrival of at least a dozen Aurors, including Connie Hammer, the new director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Looking out the window, Tonks could see her ultimate boss directing her peers to set up and secure a perimeter. When her people were in position, Madam Hammer and a team of Aurors entered the house. She could hear each clearing a room below before Hammer and three of her fellows cautiously climbed the stairs.
The open door called them and they carefully entered to find one of their own, three downed and bound Aurors and three more people crammed into the room. It was crowded as hell and the place absolutely reeked. Hammer ordered two of hers to search the rest of the upper floor of the house.
“Well, Nymphadora…” She spoke in a calm but commanding manner. Pointedly ignoring Tonks’ wince at the hated name, she continued. “I see you here, when you should be reporting for duty at Kings Cross Station. Would you care to explain…Good heavens! What happened to…him?” Hammer finally noticed the last person in the room.
“That’s what I wrote in the message to you. Haven’t you got the owl?” Tonks asked.
“We must have crossed. Who is…Morgana! Is this Harry Potter?”
“Yes, Director. As you can see, he’s been badly beaten. Sometimes I wonder what that old fool is thinking…” Tonks broke off, and started again…this time, more formally.
“Madam Hammer, I was about to report to Kings Cross per instructions, when Albus Dumbledore, who, as you know, leads the Order of the Phoenix, asked me to drop by with Remus and the twins, in order to ensure Harry got there safely. He is a high priority target, after all. We arrived to find him like this. Remus can tell you more.”
“Very well. You can give your report on the order at the office. Mister Lupin?”
“I arrived at about twenty till, and asked if he was ready to go. He told me he was not going back. He told me the wizarding world could go hang if this was the way they treated their ‘savior’. There was no light, as his uncle had removed the bulb, and boarded over the window. He told me Vernon Dursley had said: “a ‘freak like him’ did not deserve the benefits of ‘normal people’s’ technology.” I opened the shade and got rid of the boards, and found the window had been barred over as well. I banished the bars to find him like this.
We of the Order have been keeping a close eye on Harry all summer. He told me that the beatings began the day he returned from Kings Cross in June and have occurred at least once a day since. We volunteer to stand four to six hour watches so that he is covered all day and all night. He told me that the order did nothing while he was being beaten. Now, I personally have stood seventeen watches here, on a rotating schedule, and have seen nothing. Harry, however, told me that he has seen me here seven times after his ‘daily beating’ as he called it, and that I did nothing to help him.
Madam Hammer, Harry’s parents were two of my dearest friends. Since I am absolutely certain that if I even suspected something like this, I would’ve interfered, legalities aside, I can only assume that I, and possibly all of the order, have been obliviated. Can you check me, Tonks and the twins for evidence of such?”
“Very well. Hold still, please.” Hammer passed her wand over Remus’ head, frowned and did it again. Shaking her head, she announced: “You’ve been obliviated all right. Many times in the last two months, and by the look of it, whoever did it, was very good, but not quite an expert. They left traces.”
She repeated her performance on Tonks Fred and George, proclaiming that all had been subject to multiple memory spells in the past few weeks. Moreover, the magical signature was the same for each.
“Do you have any idea who would obliviate you so often?”
“I have my suspicions.” Tonks began just as Remus snarled: “Snape!” Both twins screwed up their faces in disgust at the thought of that greaseball mucking about with their memories.
“Actually, Remus, I was thinking, Dumbledore.”
“Dumbledore?” Remus exclaimed. Dorrie, are you mad?”
“Dorrie?” The twins chimed; looking like Christmas had come early, only to pale at finding themselves facing a wand held by an irritated Metamorph. Tonks snarled: “What was that?”
“Nothing!” Both squeaked, eyes seeking the nearest escape. Unfortunately that escape was behind said irritated Metamorph, a smirking werewolf and the bemused director of the DMLE.
“Anyway!” Tonks growled. “Remus, I understand your loyalty to him, but really; Albus Dumbledore has, directly or indirectly, been behind every instance of abuse or hazard since Harry was left here as a baby! We Aurors all know this. We just don’t have the political clout to press the issue, so to speak. Dumbledore is too well entrenched. As for his being my number one suspect, think about it. How better to get someone to trust and depend upon you but by throwing them into a wholly unpleasant situation for several years, and then ‘rescue’ them from it? Have you seen Harry’s back?”
“His back?” Remus was puzzled by the non sequitur.
“Yes. His back. I came across him at headquarters last year when he was coming out from a shower. He’s got a really scrummy body, by the way. Hermione’s gonna be so happy, once she pulls her head out of her arse. But anyway, he didn’t see me, and when he turned down the hall, I could see his back was crisscrossed by what looked like hundreds of scars. Remus, I’ve seen kids with scars like that, before. In each and every case, they’d been whipped. I ‘adjusted’ my eyes a bit, and had a closer look. Harry has scars that look to be so old I’d hazard a guess they started beating him when he was a very small child. If they’ve done that to him, I shudder to think what else they’ve done.”
“They’ve starved him. George began.
“Beaten him, of course.” Fred took over.
“Buggered him, we think.”
“Worked him like a house-elf.”
“Forced him to sleep in that boot cupboard…”
“…under the stairs off the kitchen.”
“Allowed their porker of a son to…”
“…beat and harass him…”
“…whenever he wanted.”
“Driven off anybody who would be his friend.”
“And generally, been completely foul to him!” Both finished together. Connie smiled sadly at them. Their foolery in the face of such horror, spoke volumes for them both.
‘How do you know?” Tonks asked, her face clouding up like a hurricane about to blow. “Just one of you!” She added, gesturing threateningly with her wand. Their ‘twinspeak’ always made her think she was watching a tennis match.
After a quick, silent game of ‘rock, paper, scissors’, George spoke.
“Ron told us some. Hermione’s told us more. She’s hot for him, you know. Harry won’t talk about the lash marks, but that’s what they are. Luna’s also helped us out quite a bit. She’s more than a dotty airhead. Turns out, she’s an empath or telepath, or maybe both. She’s also got a rather large slice of seer built right in. Whenever she is near Harry, she can ‘read’ him. She says he just radiates pain. She usually starts crying after being around him for any length of time, so we know she’s found something really awful. We try to be there for her to talk to.”
“And just coincidentally, gather information about your friends.” Hammer added dryly.
“Well, yes…” Fred shrugged.
“There is that.” George smirked.
“After all, knowledge is power!” Again, both spoke as one.
“If Dumbledore is behind this…” Tonks posited. “I’m willing to bet he’s planning to use Harry as his super-soldier. One who would be loyal only to him and who had been trained almost from birth to consider himself expendable.” She concluded her exposition.
“I think the Muggles call that ‘Helstinky syndrome’, or ‘Stockholm’s syndrome’ or something like that.” Gred quipped.
“It’s called behavioral programming.” Hammer returned. “Basically it’s how armies are built, but in this case…well, I can see this is an extreme case.”
It’s worse…” Fred spoke darkly. Next to him, George was as grim. They spoke alternately but were as serious as anything Hammer had ever seen.
“Harry doesn’t have any special training…”
“…other than his natural affinity for Defense…”
“…and his Quidditch skills.”
“Somehow, we really don’t think either of those…”
“…are gonna help him kill off a dark lord.”
“At least not without taking Harry with him.” They both finished. Neither was smiling.
Hammer agreed. Although she’d never met Harry before, her brief contacts with Dumbledore had led her to agree with the twins’ assessment.
“Keep trying to get through that shield.” Hammer ordered, then asked: “What about these three?” She pointed at the three men lying on the floor. “They’re wearing Auror’s kit, but I don’t recognize any of them.”
“Neither do I. They’re not on my shift, at any rate. They’re the reason I sent the ‘Auror needs assistance’ call. They came in blasting, without identifying themselves, so we dropped them. We bound them and left them where they were.” Tonks explained. She uncrumpled the ministry notice and added: “I also find it interesting to note that Madam Hopkirk now has the authority to order the arrest of a minor for the use of a spell, even one considered by the ministry to be borderline dark.” Tonks thrust the missive forward.
Hammer read it and harrumphed. “She does not. Further as none of these are mine, I cannot see where she would have got them.”
“I’d check their forearms, if I were you.” Fred suggested, darkly.
Hammer did. None of the three showed the dark mark…until Tonks thought of something. She ran to the loo, and amidst some crashing, banging and swearing, she finally returned with a flannel and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Applying the terry vigorously, she soon revealed the mark on two of the three.
“I thought so!” She crowed. “Muggle Makeup!” She placed binders on one of the men. Hammer handed her another set, which she latched around the wrists of another.
Hammer called one of her people up to the cramped room. Holding a wand at the man’s head, she growled: “Auror Dawson, let me see your arms! Dawson seeing at least four angry wands pointed at his head, including one from his boss, complied. Again, Tonks applied the cloth; scrubbing furiously until she was convinced the only thing on Willice Dawson’s arms was some rather tender skin. Hammer lowered her wand and sighed.
“I’m terribly sorry about that, Dawson, but I believe the Auror Corps been compromised. Two of these idiot’s are marked Death Eaters. I want you to name three other Aurors you know to be absolutely trustworthy and bring them up here one at a time.”
Dawson understood. He spoke. “Davis, Bealle and Harding. I’d trust any of them with my life.”
“How about your daughter’s life, Dawson?” Tonks growled. She was definitely not in a happy mood.
“With hers as well.” He looked directly at Tonks. “I trust them just as much as I trust you, Tonks.” She had the grace to flush. He handed her his set of binders.
“Sorry…and thanks for that.” She said quietly, receiving a silent nod in return. She fastened the binders on the third man and re-stunned them all ‘just in case’.
Each of the three named Aurors was called up and subject to the same routine as Dawson had been. Each of them proved to be as unmarked as he.
“Thank you all for your forbearance.” Hammer addressed her troops. “These three are dressed in Aurors kit, yet are not Aurors. Madam Hopkirk has ordered Mister Potter’s, arrest and has apparently sent these three men, two of whom are marked, to do so. I believe she is in collusion with the Death Eaters…if not worse. I want you four to go to the ministry and quietly arrest her, and please ensure she gets no message out…to anybody. If she resists, you may use any force you deem necessary, but please don’t kill her. We’ll need whatever information she may have. She is to be held incommunicado in our highest-security, holding cell, with at least three guards at three separate spots, isolated from each other, until I can question her personally. One of you will take her place in the misuse of magic office, and prepare a report for me on all instances of unauthorized magic usage. I suspect she is working for lord Voldemort…oh stop that foolish shuddering! You lot, are Aurors! You are supposed to fight this maniac! How can you do that if you are afraid of his very name?” Hammer’s words were scathing. All the selected Aurors present except Tonks lowered their eyes in shame. Remus stifled a chuckle and the twins, knowing the Aurors would take it personally, opted to not laugh. Still, it was a very near thing.
“As I was saying, I suspect she is working for Voldemort, and only reporting on those underage magical violations that occur in muggle areas or in households not aligned with him. Worse, if she is in league with Voldemort, she might have intentionally omitted reporting any darker magics used in our communities. If you discover the use of any dark magics I want to know immediately. Now, go.”
The Aurors turned to leave when she added: “Use your portkeys! She may not be able to detect your apparitions, but let’s not invite trouble we don’t need.”
Nods signaled assent and the Aurors trooped out.
“Tonks, name four more.”
Tonks looked out the window, and found several she trusted. She also found two she did not. “I’d say: Clarin, Joliet, Chamberlain and Harris. There are two out there whom I wouldn’t trust as far as they could toss Hagrid! Dawlish…He’s one of Fudge’s toadies, and that effengee, Antonius. I don’t know why, but something just doesn’t ‘feel’ right about him, if you take my meaning.”
“I do indeed, and I share your misgivings. There is definitely something ‘off’ about that one.”
They turned to Remus who had just yelped, as he recoiled from another nasty shock from Harry’s shield.
“What to do, though? How can we get through this shield?” Hammer pondered the seemingly impenetrable ward surrounding the dying boy.
“Why don’t we call our brother, Bill?” Fred volunteered. George nodded in agreement.
“He’s a curse breaker for Gringotts.”
“He does this sort of stuff all the time.”
“Last we heard; he’s staying at Fleur’s summer place in Calais.”
“Mum doesn’t like that at all!”
“I’ve heard of him.” Connie acknowledged the suggestion. “And the goblins speak quite highly of his skills. His work is required reading in Auror classes. How soon do you think he can be here?”
“I’ll pop over to Mrs. Figg’s house. Her floo is connected. Unless he and Fleur are… umm, ‘engaged’, we should be back in about five minutes. Bear in mind, however, Fleur is a veela.”
“Very well.” Hammer smiled thinly and nodded her permission. George dashed out the door. Tonks called the four named Aurors, one at a time, and when each had been ‘cleared’ so to speak, they secured the prisoners. Searches produced spare wands, several blades and on one, a phial of something. Harris was about to open it when Hammer stopped her. “Are you certain you want to do that, Auror? After all, it could be a gas dispersed poison. In closed environment such as this one, it could quite well kill everyone present.” Harris nearly dropped the phial. Shaking her head rapidly, she placed the phial in a clear evidence bag and sealed it with her star. The other evidence was treated in a like manner.
Clarin, Joliet, Chamberlain and Harris were instructed to remove the bound Deez to a safe house instead of the ministry. In a ministry holding cell, she knew that they’d ‘escape’ before nightfall. Portkeys were draped over the unconscious men and with a flare of swirling light, they group of seven vanished.
As promised, five minutes nearly to the second, George returned with his eldest brother and a stunningly gorgeous woman in tow. Bill paled in shock at the sight of Ron’s best friend in such a state.
“Harry?” He croaked out. He’d grown to respect the black haired youth from watching him during the TWT. To see him like this brought an ache to his chest.
Knowing better than to rush into something unfamiliar, Bill turned to Hammer. “What’s happened to him?”
“Mister Weasley, that shield around him not only prevents contact, but actively punishes anyone who tries.” Hammer explained. “The notification from the Improper Use of Magic Office, defines this as a ‘Nyx Invinctus Aegis’ shield. I must confess; I am unfamiliar with that particular shield.”
“Apparently, so are they.” Bill said with a smile filled with contempt. “The term ‘Nyx Invinctus Aegis’ is part of their ‘system’, if you will, of tentatively identifying any spells of unknown origin. It translates roughly to: ‘invincible dark shield’, or: ‘invincible death shield’ and refers to any unidentified active shield or defense ward. The shield must have a defensive or destructive component to be defined as such. Since all active defense shields are currently defined as ‘dark arts’, courtesy of the bloody wanker formerly holding the Minister’s office, the charge against Harry automatically became: ‘use of dark arts’. It’s easy to charge and exceptionally difficult to defend against, as it requires no real proof. Fudge knows his laws, I’ll say that much for him. That’s how he managed to get himself such a cushy job after he was sacked…and how he avoided being dragged into the street and hanged for his corruption.”
Hammer had to agree. She’d grown quite sick of Fudge’s greed long before. Amelia Bones had been a foil to him, but when she’d died and Scrimgeour had taken the Minister’s post, things had turned for the worse. She felt Rufus was as involved with the Death Eaters as Fudge was, but had no proof. People that Scrimgeour didn’t like, or who dared to disagree with him, usually ended up ‘having accidents’ or ‘committing suicide’. She knew that she herself stood a very good chance of ‘having an accident’ in the near future. Still, she had a job to do, and while she may be marked for death, as long as there was life in her body, she would do it!
Bill turned to the unconscious boy in the corner and began to test the nature of the ward. Despite the gravity of the situation, he was highly impressed. The shield was brilliant! He’d never seen anything as good, and had only ever heard of similar wards in certain eastern tombs.
After ten minutes of intense work, Bill sat back on his haunches, to discover he had an audience. The wall between Harry’s room and the hallway had been removed, and most of his brothers, and his sister were there, as well as Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. Ron and Hermione had been contacted on Platform 9¾ just before the train departed and brought here. The others had insisted upon coming along.
He shook his head and sighed. “He’s getting weaker. He needs medical attention straightaway, or he’s going to die.” Horrified sobs from Hermione greeted his announcement. Luna and Ginny held their distraught friend, closely as she whimpered: “No, no, no, no, no! Please, Harry don’t die. I couldn’t bear it…”
“Can you break through the wards?” Poppy Pomfrey asked. Dumbledore had asked her to floo over to Arabella’s place, and from there, come to #4, as soon as the alert went out.
Again, Bill shook his head. “I’ve heard of wards like this before, they’re hideously difficult to erect, especially considering he’s had no prior training. In the tombs of Abyssinia they’re used to protect the bodies of royalty from desecration. These ones are slightly different but they fit the purpose, precisely. It actually looks like he designed these wards himself. It’s a beautiful bit of work, really. He’s got a number of layers interacting, and each layer reinforces the ones around it. In addition, as we’ve discovered, the wards are quite active. They have a rather violent and completely effective defense built right in.”
“Well, now that the ‘Harry Potter Appreciation Committee’ has presented their ovations, let us please get on with it.” Came the potions professor’s nasal whine, as he entered the room. “I haven’t the time to worry about one stupid, selfish child who…”
There was a sharp ‘thunk’, and Snape hit the floor like he’d been pole-axed. Standing above him with a beater’s bat in hand, Fred Weasley said sarcastically: “Stupefy!” Tonks, Connie, George and Ginny snickered in unison. Hermione stared in horror at the limp body of the snarky bastard, and his assailant, before giggling somewhat hysterically.
Poppy wordlessly handed her a calming draught and gestured for the teen to drink.
George held out a golden pendant shaped like a Gryffindor lion, rampant. “This is an emergency portkey. It’ll take him to Hogwarts. May I?”
Connie, disgusted with Snape’s total lack of concern for a mortally injured human being, nodded, wanting to be shut of him entirely. George looped the pendant around the unconscious man’s neck, wiped his hands off on his trousers and grimaced in disgust before calling out: “Snarkius Gitius!” Snape vanished in a swirl of light.
“Where did you send him?” Hermione asked. Ron nodded his head, also curious.
“You know the room below the castle? The one with the mirror? Where Harry fought Quirrelmort?” Looks of confusion suddenly became understanding.
“But he can get out of there easily enough.” Ginny interrupted.
“Not without this, he can’t.” George produced a wand that clearly was not his. “Madam Hammer, there is sufficient evidence to show, despite Dumbledore’s assurances to the contrary, that Severus Snape not only willingly bears the dark mark, but does so with great pride and pleasure. You might want to impound this Death Eater’s wand and test it for any ‘unusual’ or ‘dark’ spells.”
He handed the wand to Hammer, who immediately sealed it into a clear bag marked ‘Evidence’, in bright red letters.
Bill, can you get through it?” Tonks asked. Remus was still unconscious from his last attempt to breach the shield with brute force.
“No. Not in the time we have, at any rate. It’s a voluntary ward. The original warder, Harry, in this case, has to consciously lower it. This kind of ward will hold even if he’s asleep or unconscious. Even after he dies.”
“Don’t say that!” Hermione moaned, hugging herself; her eyes filled with tears. “Please don’t say that!” Ginny, next to her looked to be almost as upset.
“Where did he learn this kind of ward? It’s certainly not the standard Hogwarts curriculum.” Hammer asked, intrigued at the thought of a new ward. Perhaps if he survived, she could convince Potter to show them how it was made. The ones they had available were easily defeated with sufficient manpower, something the dark lord had in abundance.
“It should be!” Bill growled. “The wards taught today are rubbish! Any sixth year could break through any one of them! Fudge was so concerned about his own position, or the possibility of the citizens taking up arms against him, that as soon as he took office, he restricted any real defenses to certain departments of the ministry. I’d suspect even the Aurors don’t have much to work with.”
At Connie’s rueful shake, he went on. “If I had to guess, I’d say whatever it is, is likely in that book in his pocket.” Bill pointed to a smallish leather bound book protruding slightly from Harry’s pants pocket. The material of the oversized trousers was cinched around Harry’s waist by what appeared to be a thin rope, and could have hidden a good-sized dictionary.
“How do we get it?”
I don’t know. Most wards like this are meant to keep things inside. This one seems centered on Harry himself. As he moves, the ward moves with him.”
“Accio book!” Hermione cast the spell. She squeaked as the leather book shot from Harry’s shirt and into her hand. Bill stared, gob-smacked. Connie smirked. “Sometimes the simplest solutions are the correct ones. ‘Occam’s Razor’.” She held out her hands for the book. Hermione surrendered it and Connie flipped through.
“This isn’t even writing. It’s just…squiggles.”
"Squiggles?” Ginny asked, fear in her eyes.
“Well at least to my eyes. Can you see something else?”
Ginny nervously took the book and opened it. Immediately she began to shake and tears began to from and then to flow. “It’s Parseltongue.” She whimpered. Hermione took the book from Ginny’s trembling hands and enfolded her friend in a comforting embrace.
“Parseltongue? Oh, you’d best give that back, then. Parseltongue is usually the mark of very dark magic.”
“Harry’s a parselmouth!” Hermione said, angrily. “And he’s the bravest, noblest and most loving boy I have ever met. There’s very little dark about him!” Tears came afresh from Hermione’s eyes.
Madam Hammer had the courtesy to flush. “Oh, dear! I knew that. I do apologize, Miss Granger. Amelia once told me, but I simply forgot. A poor thing to do in my position.”
She pointed her wand at Harry and tried to summon Harry’s wand. It remained where it was. Bill tried next, with the same result. He turned to Hermione. “He may have keyed you in. Try to get his wand. Please.”
Again, Hermione ‘accioed’. This time, the wand flew through the air.
Hammer passed her wand over his. “Hmmm!” It’s got two monitoring spells on it. I see the shield, Mister Weasley have you got this?”
“Yeah, I’ve got it.” Bill captured the image of the spell Harry had cast, with his own wand, and examined it closely, seeking a way through.
“There’s a message spell here. It’s addressed to you, Miss Granger. Would you like to hear it here or later?” Ginny Weasley stepped back, saddened that it was not she to whom the message was addressed. Fred wrapped caring arms around her.
“Here’s fine.” Hermione brushed away a tear, as Hammer replayed Harry’s message.
“Hermione…” Harry’s pain-filled voice came from the thin holly shaft. “I’m hurt badly. My uncle has been beating me since we returned from Kings Cross. I’ve tried to get a message through to the order last week, but I chose the wrong day. Snape got the message and burned it. Somehow, Vernon found out and the beatings got worse. He took all my stuff and burned it. Yesterday he broke three of my ribs, and I think he punctured my lung. I’ve been coughing up blood since. I don’t think I’m gonna make it, love. Fortunately, Hedwig is safe…at least I think she is. Dumbledore kept her at Hogwarts…‘for my safety’, he said. When you return to Hogwarts, please tell her I loved her and that you’ll take care of her from now on.”
Harry broke off in a spate of painful sounding coughing. Everybody in the room winced at the sounds.
“I had a will drawn up last year, naming you my primary heir. Sirius insisted there was something odd about Dumbledore, and truth be told, I agree. The authentication documents I received from Gringotts are hidden under the loose floorboard under my bed. There’s money for the Weasleys, too, but you’ll have most of it. Listen, love. I know you don’t want it, but if you don’t take it, Dumbledore has a way to get it.
He’s got a will that he conned me into signing in June. He told me it was necessary to prepare for the inevitable and promised me that you and the Weasleys would be taken care of. I’d wondered at the time what he meant by that. Something about that will didn’t look right. It was like there was a glamour over it, I knew it couldn’t have been good, so I signed Harry F. Potter, instead of J. In script they look a lot alike. I also used a drop of hot pepper sauce instead of my blood. Fawkes thought that was funny as hell. Somehow, I wonder if the will is in Guadalajara right about now.
Even more important, than the will itself is the timing. You’ve got to get it to the goblins before he does! If he gets there first, there’s no telling what he’ll use that money for. I don’t know what’s happened to him, or how, but in the past few years, he’s gotten almost as bad as Voldemort. You must take the will to Gringotts immediately. If you wait, even for a little while, it will be too late. If he gets there first, he can use his position to enforce that will, and interfere with you inheriting anything.
I think he’s got the house monitored so that when I die, he’ll know. He knows about the beatings. Vernon was ‘kind enough’ to show me a letter from dear Uncle Albie, telling him to break me, using any methods he felt necessary.” Another bout of choked coughing filled the air. This time it lasted longer than before. Now, his words were laboured.
“The only thing I regret…no…no, I regret a lot of things. What I regret the most...is not telling you until it was too late. I love you, Hermione. I have since the day I met a… bossy, bucktoothed, bushy-haired, little know-it-all…on the train. Please, my love, if you can, live a full life. If you can find some way to kick…Ol’ Voldy's reptilian arse…do it. If you can’t, please, I beg…you, take your parents…take your parents and…and get the hell out of Britain. He won’t stop until you’re dead, you know. Please don’t give him that…chance.”
Weeping bitterly, Hermione flung herself at Harry. To everyone’s surprise, instead of being blasted back, as had everybody else, she crashed into her dying friend. Surprised, but not immobilized with shock, she immediately began to cast all the healing charms that she knew. In her years as Harry’s friend, she’d learned a great many such charms for ‘just in case’. Unfortunately, his body had just taken far too much damage, and for far too long, at the hands of his relatives.
As Harry slipped into death, he heard the weeping of his friends growing fainter.
~I’m gonna miss you all.~ He thought.
The last thing he heard was Luna’s soft: “May the force be with you, Harry!”
Albus Dumbledore looked up as one of the 'Harry monitors' he’d managed to repair, screamed out. He stood and walked over to the table, in order to see just how much damage Vernon Dursley had inflicted upon the ungrateful wretch. The spinning glass and silver device stopped its cacophony and fell over as the smoke inside, turned black.
“Oh dear!” Dumbledore had just realized he hadn’t heard back from Poppy since he’d dispatched her to tend to Harry’s injuries.
Sighing in annoyance that the foolish boy had up and died on him, He’d have to arrange an ‘accident’ for the Dursley family. Perhaps a ‘Death Eater’ attack. It wouldn’t do to have anyone around who could tell what really happened, after all.
Pacing his office, he pondered how he would convince Augusta Longbottom to allow Neville to be given the limited training he’d planned for Harry, in his stead. After all, since Neville was mentioned in the prophesy, if only by association, he could conceivably take Harry’s place. Perhaps he would offer her the position of head of the Wizengamot. She’d long been his main competition for the post. Yes! That should do it. Now that Harry was dead, Neville would have to be made ready to meet his own end. Augusta would understand that the needs of the many were more important than one boy, even if that boy was her grandson. His sacrifice would ensure the wizarding world would continue as it was, under his benevolent, guiding hand, of course, and that the status quo would remain unchanged. Yes, that would do nicely!
In the meantime, he had to repair to Gringotts with the will he’d arranged for Harry to sign, in order to ensure the Potter fortune went to the ‘right’ places. The boy would probably have given his entire estate to the mudblood. Dumbledore could see how smitten he was with the girl; despite all the effort he’d expended to involve the boy with the Weasley’s child. Now there was a proper wife! A pureblood at that! Moreover, due to her involvement in the Chamber of Secrets incident, she was one that he could easily control.
The headmaster collected the faux will, and departed the castle. He wandered towards Hogsmeade at a leisurely pace, enjoying the late summer day. After all, it was a lovely day, and as the students would not be arriving for several hours, he had plenty of time.
Hammer overturned the bed and found the loose floorboard. Lifting the board, she found and pulled out the roll of parchment.
“Miss Granger. We must get you to Gringotts immediately.”
“But Harry…” Hermione wept.
“Harry is dead.” Hammer spoke softly but urgently. “We shall mourn him later, but for now, you absolutely must get this to Gringotts before Albus Dumbledore does, otherwise Harry’s death will be for naught. Now, please!”
Reluctantly, Hermione blinked back her tears, and took Hammer’s hand. They vanished in a flare of swirling light.
Fortunately, Hammer’s Portkey took them through the wards to the security entrance, which was directly down the hall from the ‘Wills & Trusts’ office, instead of through the bank’s lobby. Twenty-seven minutes later, a demented old man, more than touched by avarice and believing himself to be omniscient, smiled benignly at passers-by as he climbed the marble stairs toward Gringotts’ huge bronze doors.
A/N: Sorry about the wards being open to the Aurors. I suspect the much-vaunted ‘blood wards’, never really existed, given that in canon, while shared blood was required, there also had to be some sort of familial feeling. Dumbledore told Harry at the end of book five that ‘As long as he could call #4 ‘home’ he would be protected’…but given the abuse he suffered at the hands of his relatives; ‘Harry hunting’ and physical attacks from his cousin, sanctioned and abetted by his aunt and uncle, demeaning remarks, mental torment and overwhelming chores that are well beyond the capabilities of a child, on a continual basis, and physical violence from Vernon (“I accept there’s something strange about you, probably nothing a good beating wouldn’t have cured…” Implying he’s tried) and Petunia, (remember the frying pan? If she’s done that once, she’s done it more than once.) LOCKED IN A CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS? I strongly suspect that Harry never called #4 ‘home’. More like ‘prison’. I know I would.
Anyway, I think any other set of wards, would have a backdoor for the Aurors.
Michael Wood and Connie Hammer are the creations of Old Crow, but I have permission to use them.
Effengee (F.N.G.) Fuckin’ New Guy. Indicates a new and untried soldier on his first combat assignment.
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