Plots, plans and other skulduggery. Albie shows that he ain't as bright and shiny as people would want.
Forgoing breakfast he rushed through the castle to the dungeons, only to find his spy’s quarters empty. Concerned his ‘other’ most important pawn had also escaped his control; he searched the castle from top to bottom. Severus was in none of his usual haunts.
Finally, at nine, he called for Flopsey, his personal elf. Immediately the tiny creature appeared silently. “You called for Flopsey, Master Headmaster Professor Dumbleydore Sir?”
Dumbledore smirked. He just loved hearing his titles announced like that!
“Yes, Flopsey. I was wondering, has anybody seen Professor Snape this morning?”
“Oh No, Master, Headmaster Professor Dumbleydore Sir. Professor Snarlius Snap is in the gaol.”
“WHAT!?!” Dumbledore bellowed. Flopsey shrank against the desk, in fear of being punished.
“Why is Professor Snape in prison?” Dumbledore growled.
“He is being taken last night from Doggy-man’s house to gaol, by Mistress Amelia Bones for wearing the evil one’s dark mark.”
“Damn!” Dumbledore turned to the floo and cast a pinch of powder in, yelling, “Ministry of Magic, Minister’s office!”
As soon as the flames turned green, he flung himself into the fire and whirled away from the castle.
Having seen her master depart, Flopsey returned to her duties in relief. While Dumbledore had never punished her, she’d heard many tales of his cruelty toward other elves.
At the same time, four hundred miles south and slightly to the east, in the cozy little nook at 12 Grimmauld Place, Harry was attending to his own breakfast. Hermione and Luna had both gone home the evening before, and Susan was sleeping in. Biting into his toast, he had an idea. He chewed the bread, sipped his tea and then called out: “Dobby! Winky!”
Both Elves were there even before he’d finished the second summons.
“Good morning Mister Harry Potter sir. How can Dobby and Winky serve you this morning?”
“I need a favor. Winky, you are the best suited for this.”
“How may Winky serve you this morning?”
“I’m going to ask you to deliver a message to Amelia Bones. I’d like to find out if she has a house-elf.”
“She does, Master Harry. Her house elf is named Tootles.”
“Can you ask Tootles to join us here?”
“Oh yes, of course!”
A pop sounded and a new house elf, dressed in a nice little blue pinafore and apron appeared. “You has called for Tootles, Sir?”
“Hello, Tootles. My name is Harry.”
“Tootles in most pleased to meet the great Harry Potter. Tootles has heard all about you!”
“Dobby?” Harry queried in amusement and cast a sidelong look at his overanxious friend.
“Dobby has not been talking…much.” Dobby vowed, blushing.
Harry chuckled. “OK, Tootles. Madam Bones is in grave danger of another attack, either by Death Eaters or by Dumbledore’s crowd. I want to assign Winky as a personal bodyguard to Madam Bones, to stay with her for as long as is necessary to ensure that any assassination attempts fail.”
“Tootles is more than able to take care of Madam Amelia bones!” The house-elf was more than irritated.
“Where were you at one thirty yesterday morning?” Harry returned quietly.
Tootles hung her head. “Tootles was there, and Tootles saw the great Harry Potter save Mistress from the nasty Death Eaters.” She admitted. “Tootles could do nothing. The house-elfs must be given direct permission by the master or mistress to be harming others…even attackers.” Tears leaked from her large green eyes. Before she could start wailing, Harry spoke.
“That’s about what I thought. Dobby and Winky already have that permission, and until Madam Bones gives it to you, I’d like Winky to be her bodyguard. Mostly it’s to ensure she has an emergency escape waiting for her when she needs one. Is that alright with everybody?”
All three elves nodded their heads.
“Tootles, I’m going to write Madam Bones a note asking her to give you permission to take action in her behalf without orders. She many agree or not, that’s up to her, but as she’s going to be Minister in about a week, I won’t have this government go without competent leadership, in the event some Death Eater…or anyone else, gets lucky.”
Harry scribbled down a note and handed it to Tootles, who vanished soundlessly.
As soon as she was gone, He addressed the two elves.
“Dobby, in addition to your normal duties, I’d like you to keep a close eye on Hermione. Look for any real danger to her, and if necessary, get her out of wherever she is. That means Death Eaters, obviously, but also any of Dumbledore’s Order who might try to snatch her. Winky, I want you watch over Susan and Luna. Susan probably won’t need as much protection, because she’ll have Tootles looking out for her, but she was here yesterday, and Dumbledore saw her. Luna is most likely, the best protected of them all, but let’s not take any chances.”
Both nodded in acknowledgement of their new orders.
Tootles returned not ten minutes later, with a face-splitting grin. She handed the note to Harry and vanished once again.
Amelia’s return note was short and simple.
Thank you ever so much! I would never have thought
of that on my own. Given how magically powerful
house-elves are, it would be foolish to ignore their
potential in a crisis. Tootie now has my permission to
protect me without orders, and I have carefully
explained to her the difference between posturing
and an actual threat.
Harry smiled and relaxed for a moment before finishing his breakfast. Not surprisingly, it was still hot.
Dumbledore stepped from the Minister’s private floo with all the dignity his endless hours of practice had gained him. He brushed past Fudge’s junior undersecretary, Percival Weasley, who had risen and called out: “Excuse me, professor Dumbledore you can’t go in…”
A stunner and a quick obliviate and Dumbledore pushed through the golden trimmed doors.
Fudge looked up as Albus entered his office.
“Now see here, Dumbledore, just because you were proved right, you’ve no right to…” Another stunner and the overweight politician fell to his desk.
“Imperio!” The ancient wizard snarled. “You will go to Madam Bones’ office and order her to release Severus Snape under the Emergency Wartime Doctrine of 1945. He is a valued asset to the side of the light and I will not allow her to jeopardize his position. When you’ve done that, you will fire her and place Kingsley Shacklebolt in her position.”
Fudge repeated his instructions and Dumbledore left. He did not see a familiar beetle on the cornicework.
“Bones!” Fudge bellowed. “What the hell are you playing at? You cannot arrest Dumbledore’s only source of information in Lord…thingy’s camp! You are fired! Shacklebolt, you are the new head of the DMLE! Don’t make me regret my decision!” With that he shoved a piece of parchment into Kingsley’s hand, turned and stomped away.
“What the hell was that all about?” Shack asked his now-former boss.
“I’d say Dumbledore didn’t like my arresting his pet Death Eater. No worries. I was intending to take a holiday anyway.”
“But, Madam Bones! We need you here!”
“Talk to the man, Shack. He fired me. You’re the boss now.” Amelia was almost whistling as she flooed to her home.
From there, she traveled to #12, to find Harry waiting.
“How did it go?”
“About as you expected. He fired me. You’d better be right, Harry.” She sighed. “I’m betting everything on you.”
“Don’t worry. In nine days he’ll be out on his arse. By the way, how would you like to be the next Minister?”
“I could handle it…I suppose. Amelia gave a sigh of long-suffering. Harry laughed and said: “Let’s get the ladies together, then.”
Amelia flooed Longbottom manor, and asked Augusta to contact Andromeda, while Harry would alert Carolyn.
Fifteen minutes later, all the conspirators were ensconced at Longbottom Manor sipping tea, and discussing the latest news. Neville was sitting there as well, seemingly enjoying the prattle, though Harry knew he was quietly observing the entire event carefully. Unlike others, he’d learned not to underestimate his unassuming friend.
Harry thought it sounded like a bunch of magpies gossiping, but he was definitely smart enough to never even consider airing that thought. He was quite attached to several parts of his anatomy, thank you very much, and losing them would make his ‘alone time’ with Hermione much less enjoyable.
“OK, ladies…” He began when they seemed to have wound down. A glare from Augusta told him that was not the case, but there was business to plan and the overthrow of the government to plot.
He began again.
“Amelia has been sacked. Why exactly, I can only guess, but since she arrested Dumbledore’s pet Death Eater, I can assume that was the reason. Don’t worry, we expected this to happen. With Amelia out of the picture, Dumbledore will think he can place anyone he wants in the minister’s seat. Fudge is gone. With Voldemort’s reappearance, that much is certain, and Dumbledore is probably planning to place one of the following in the minister’s office. Arthur Weasley, Amos Diggory, or Rufus Scrimgeour. Arthur and Amos are firmly aligned with ‘the light’, for want of a better word, with Arthur being part of Dumbledore’s militia, and while Scrimgeour is not so closely aligned as the other two, he still has his ties to Dumbledore. The problem is, he loves the power and notoriety of his positions. That means he can be manipulated, and Dumbledore is better at manipulation than the CIA, KGB and the GRU combined. He’s definitely opposed to Voldemort, but my sources tell me he’s a bully and a thug…what the muggles call a dirty cop. He started out as an outstanding Auror, but over time, he fell in love with his power, and like most bullies, he wanted more. According to rumour, his enemies have a nasty habit of ‘dying in the line of duty’, ‘committing suicide’ or just plain vanishing.”
Harry turned to Amelia, “If Voldemort hadn’t tried for you, I’d suspect Rufus would have. He still could.”
Amelia nodded. Rufus was definitely a dangerous enemy to have.
“The problem here, is he’s the one most likely to take the position. The Weasleys are the oldest pureblood line in Britain excepting the Potters and possibly the Longbottoms.” Harry looked for confirmation to Augusta who gravely nodded her head. “But, Arthur is far too pro-muggle, to suit the blood purists, and the Diggory line is not old enough. Scrimgeour is of a pureblood line that stretches back to the fourteen hundreds.”
“Yes, that follows.” Amelia agreed. She didn’t like it but she agreed.
“Now, the Bones family is a pureblood line nearly as long, but…” Harry held up his hand to stifle her protest. “You are widely known as the most incorruptible person in the government. I don’t think anyone, politician, Auror, or prisoner, has even considered the idea that you were not fair and just. Even those who don’t like you, know they can depend on you.”
“All right, Harry. Now you’ve got me blushing, let’s hear the rest.” And she was blushing. Praise came to her as it did to Harry.
“Alright.” He grinned. “When we go into sack Fudge, there’s going to be a vacancy. Augusta, I want you, as sitting head of the council, to nominate Amelia as Interim Minister. Carolyn, You second, unless someone else gets there first.”
“Harry, I am not the head of the council anymore. Albus was returned to his position, remember?
“Damn! We need him removed for the trial.”
Neville, who’d been listening, said: “Conflict of interest.”
“Neville…” Augusta began to scold, but seeing what Neville was saying, Harry interrupted her.
“Hold on. He’s got the right idea.”
Rather embarrassed at being in the spotlight, Neville took a breath and spoke. “Gran, you told me once that a judge couldn’t vote on something that would stand to gain him personally, right?”
“And Dumbledore definitely has something to lose if Fudge is ousted.” Carolyn added. “More, since Fudge being gone is nearly a done deal, he’ll have already made plans to replace his puppet as soon as the door is closed.”
Augusta asked: “So what do we do?”
“We vote as a block.” Harry replied. “Amelia didn’t you tell me that with the rings I wear, due to family alliances, vassalage, etcetera, I could control sixty to seventy percent of the Wizengamot?”
Amelia grinned in sudden understanding. “I did. That is an absolutely brilliant idea, Harry!” To the other questioning faces, she added: “If we vote as a bloc, we will have control over nearly ninety percent of the council.”
“I shall call for Dumbledore to be recused, on the basis of his having an inordinate influence over the last three minister’s being elected.” Augusta announced. “It was after all his words that elected Fudge, Bagnold and Leach. All of them have allowed the corruption and graft to build unchecked.”
“Will that be enough?”
“I believe so. Albus is not as universally revered, as he would like to be. He has his enemies here on the council who would vote just to stymie him.”
“Well why don’t we add a little fuel to the fire? Harry suggested. Why not give them an account of how Dumbledore knew the scion of an ancient pureblood family was innocent of a crime, and though he was a member of the council, he sat by and did nothing to prevent that scion from being thrown into Azkaban…simply so he could keep control over a mere half-blood.”
“Well…when you say it like that…” Amelia ventured, only to have Carolyn interrupt.
“It’s perfect. It plays on all the bigotries we purebloods have, as well as uniting those who oppose Dumbledore and makes those who are in his camp reexamine their beliefs at the same time.”
Once the meeting was done, and each of his friends had agreed to their duties, Harry decided to cause the old bastard some more trouble, so he once again donned his goblin badges of rank and apparated to Gringotts. The goblin guards thumped their spears, and Harry thumped his breastplate before entering the building itself.
This time there were few in line and Snatchcoin was at the desk. The goblin saw him and gestured him over.
//Lord Gryffindor! May you find gold at your feet.\\
//HaihRiegh, please, Snatchcoin, and may your enemies flee in terror at your approach.\\
//Well then, HaihRiegh, how may Gringotts serve you this afternoon?\\
//I would speak with Graswold.\\
//I shall announce you.\\
Seconds later, a squad of goblins approached at quickstep. A position opened and Harry stepped in. Together they marched off.
One puzzled customer looked at another goblin and asked: “What was that all about?”
“That was ‘all about’ one of the few humans who have proved to be worthy of our respect.” The goblin replied with a nasty grin. “Unless you want your vault to be…audited, you should keep your nose out of things that do not concern you.”
Then wizard turned pale at the thought of an audit, and fled the bank. Behind him, the goblins laughed.
Harry found Graswold waiting.
“Lord Gryffindor…HaihRiegh” He corrected himself. This human preferred to be known by his given name, just as any goblin would. “We have received our copies of the ‘Writs of Conquest’ you’ve had filed. Apparently you know someone in the ministry who can actually get things done quickly and quietly. What sort of mischief have you been plotting?”
Harry gaped at the old and scarred goblin before replying: “Funny you should mention ‘mischief’, Graswold. I was wondering if we could do some mischief to one old manipulator who just won’t leave me alone.”
“What happened?” Graswold asked. He already didn’t like the old human, and anything that he could use to inconvenience the wizard was gold!
“He tried to force me to return to my prison. When he could not convince me, he ordered me to go. When I refused, he tried to stun me. I deflected his bolt back to him with my lightsaber and while he was unconscious, I Obliviated him and cast a compulsion on him to leave me the hell alone.”
“You deflected a spell from Dumbledore?” Graswold was stunned. He was well aware of Dumbledore’s prowess with a wand. Very few could say they had beaten him.
“He was dealing with something he wasn’t expecting.”
Harry held out his lightsaber and explained its action, use and the dangers to those around. As an example, tossed a head-sized geode into the air, thumbed his lightsaber to life, and neatly sliced the stone in half. Graswold was astounded. He’d never seen a weapon like that before. It had cleft through that rock as fast as he could see it!
“That is astounding!”
Harry offered the weapon to the old goblin, but try as he might, Graswold couldn’t turn it on. It appeared that he could not touch the force. He wasn’t concerned. He had his sword, and that had served him well, for centuries. Still, he appreciated a fine weapon when he beheld one. He handed it back.
“I’m hoping this weapon will be the end of Voldemort entirely, but just now, I feel the urgent need to piss on Dumbledore.”
That got Graswold’s attention. Such an insult, if done literally, would no doubt result in a hearts-blood duel.
“He’s been getting away with figurative and literal murder for far too long, now. Too many of the things that have happened to me, and the magical world as a whole, can be laid right at his feet. He has to be hobbled, but it has to be seen as him doing it. He has to be seen as slipping into insanity or senility or befuddlement or whatever it takes. I want to start him on the path to self-destruction. I want to tweak and tease, poke, prod and nudge him until he is so angry or so fearful, he does something stupid in public. Something he can’t cover up.”
“While that does sound like a great deal of fun, how do we go about it?” As has been said elsewhere, Goblins did truly love practical jokes.
“Remember when I told you to cut off any and all access Dumbledore and his order has to my vaults?”
“Yes. It has been done. So far he is unaware of that…or he has not confronted us on the matter.”
“OK, let’s make him confront us…specifically you. He can’t do a thing to you here, and he wouldn’t dare try anywhere else, so let’s send him a nice little notice telling him that his unlimited line of credit is being cut off.”
Graswold chuckled in understanding. “Oh he won’t like that…not at all!”
“He’ll like this even less.” Harry shot back with a grin. “Tell him all his vaults and holdings are being audited, due to ‘irregularities’ in my care…and in the care of any other magical orphans over whom he has ever had control. If he asks how long it would take, tell him ummm, sixteen years, nine months, twenty-one days, four hours, thirty-five minutes and twelve seconds.”
Graswold burst out laughing.
When he’d finished, Harry added to his glee. “Since ‘unfortunately’ during the audit, none of his moneys will be available to him, tell him you will front him thirty galleons per month, at ‘very reasonable’ rates.”
Now Graswold was positively howling. Where goblins were concerned, Dumbledore was as bigoted as the rest of the wizards, but this young warrior was going to humiliate him like nobody had ever dared before!
Arrangements were made for Dumbledore’s ‘trial of inconveniences’ to begin on the morning of the seventeenth, before Harry offered his hand. Graswold took it, clasping wrist-to-wrist in the eon’s old greeting of warrior to warrior.
Harry bowed his respect, and let himself out. The guard had again assembled, and again, Harry proudly took his place amongst other warriors for the march to the lobby.
As Harry left, Graswold thought: ~That lad is good for my blood!~
He caught sight of the geode that had fallen in two parts to his floor and again wondered at the sheer power of that weapon. That the inside of the rock was filled with golden chalcedony didn’t hurt his feelings any.
He lifted the half orbs and set them onto his bookshelf, facing the thick oak door. The first thing a visitor would see was the golden color of the Chalcedony. A good eye-stopper.
Upon returning to Grimmauld, Harry descended once more in to what he’d come to call ‘the forge room’ and began to assemble Hermione’s lightsaber. Since she, Luna and Susan had been able to activate his; he began to plan out two more. After a half hour of trying to design weapons for each of the girls, he decided that making individual lightsabers for everybody he’d recruit would be foolish; he’d just make one style for everyone. When they got good enough, they could build their own.
Several hours later, he had the three weapons ready but for the power cells, organic connectors and the all-important focusing crystals. Unfortunately as it took several days to grow each of the crystals, he’d need to schedule that for when he had the time.
Standing, he arched and flexed his back until he felt his spine pop, and headed up the stairs. Winky was waiting for him and immediately laid into him about taking better care of himself. He’d missed dinner, and it was almost time for supper!
Harry laughed out loud, thanked her for her concern and then told her to get supper on the table and he’d be down right after his shower.
Apparently mollified, Winky turned to the kitchen and Harry ascended the stairs to the master’s suite.
In the safe house, Severus was being interrogated under the effects of a powerful dosage of Veritaserum. They hadn’t gotten anything. As a potions master, he carried all manner of poisons and antidotes on his person, though they took his belt, they never considered any hidden pockets. The second the guard’s backs were turned; he snatched out the most powerful antidote to truth sera ever invented. It was his own concoction, and though using it would most likely cost him ten years of his life, he felt the trade a fair one. Better to die ten years earlier than to spend those extra ten years in the presence of the Dementors.
The door opened and Kingsley Shacklebolt entered. “I have orders from the Minister to release this Death Eater.”
“Shit!” Came the chorus from nearly all those present. John Dawlish was the only exception, but as Fudge’s toady, he was already aware of the decision.
Snape smirked. He’d gotten away again. “I will, of course, need my wand.” He sneered.
“Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten ‘lost’ somewhere in the process of testing and filing evidence. You know…the ministry’s impenetrable bureaucracy. Don’t worry though. I’m sure it will turn up…in a few months.”
Shacklebolt intentionally invaded Snape’s space. “The only reason you’re going free Severus, is because the old man wants it that way. You are not only a Death Eater you are directly responsible for the murders of some very good friends, some of whom were Aurors. If I had my way, you’d be playing tonsil hockey with a bloody dementor.”
As he left, Snape looked Shacklebolt in the eye. “I shall remember this insult.”
“Any time, anywhere, Death Eater!” Shack snarled back.
Albus descended to the great hall at 7:30 on the morning of the eighth, to enjoy his breakfast, before returning his attention to the task of forcing Harry back under his control.
Unfortunately his grandfatherly guise was shattered by the headlines of The Daily Prophet.
SUPREME MUGWUMP USES UNFORGIVABLE!’
Dear readers, writes Rita Skeeter, special correspondent to The Daily Prophet, it has come to this reporters attention, that Albus Dumbledore is not above using the unforgivables to enforce his will. Far from being the addled old man he portrays himself to be, he appears to be as ruthless a dictator as the dark lord himself, when it comes to getting his own way. A source close to the Minister of Magic reported to this intrepid seeker of truth, that Dumbledore stunned and obliviated Perky Weatherby, forced his way into Minister Fudge’s office and stunned him as well, immediately following with the Imperius curse. He gave orders to free supposedly ‘former’ Death Eater, Severus Snape, under the Emergency Wartime Doctrine of 1945, as Snape was deemed a ‘valuable asset to the light’. He then ordered Minister Fudge to fire Madam Amelia Bones, who has run the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for the past ten years, and replace her with Senior Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, who is actually sixth in the line of ascension, following Rufus Scrimgeour, Constance Hammer, Gawain Robards, Pius Thickness and Abercromby Fitch…
Albus spat out his tea in a choking fit. It was fortunate none of the other teachers had arrived for breakfast yet, as the news would have appalled them. He immediately fired an Incendio at the offending paper and stormed from the Great Hall. If he was angry the previous day it was nothing compared to this one!
The furious Albus Dumbledore blew through the glass doors of The Daily Prophet, at 8:00 AM, shattering them in his rage. People immediately scurried for cover.
Editor Aloysius Euwings was not known for giving into people on a tirade. For many years he’d dealt with all levels of society complaining about how his paper had mistreated one or more of them. He didn’t care. His job was to keep the owners happy, and that meant selling papers to the sheep of the wizarding world, and that usually meant printing the tripe his select bunch of ‘reporters’ doled out to him. That much of that tripe was hearsay, half-truth or outright lies, made no difference. He was the editor of the most prestigious newsmagazine in wizarding Britain, and that was all there was to it.
However, when the door on his office exploded, he knew he was in for a rough day. He ducked behind his desk to avoid the shards of wood, and when he had resurfaced, he found a comfortable looking Albus Dumbledore sitting in his guest’s seat, sipping his tea and eating his Danish!
“Ah, Mister Euwings.” Dumbledore began. “I presume you know why I am here?”
“No, I can’t say as I do. However I must congratulate you on your rather impressive entrance. That door was made of Brazilian rosewood, and cost several hundred Galleons.
“That door will be the least of your problems in the near future should I not see a retraction of this morning’s scurrilous article.”
“Oh, You’d like to give us an opposing viewpoint?”
“That is not what I said. You will retract that libelous article you printed, and you will include an apology to me for daring to print it in the first place!”
“Outrageous! You’ve never minded our articles before, why now?”
“That is quite beside the point. I want that article retracted.”
“And if I refuse?”
“Mister Euwings, I can have you killed with but a word. Should I decide to do so, you will be buried in a bog somewhere, and your wife and your children with you. Now…you will print a retraction of that article and do so immediately. Furthermore, in the future, you will pass any articles about me, to me, that I may ‘correct’ them before you publish them. In addition you will fire that reporter Rita Skeeter immediately. Is that clear?”
“I will not!” You have no right to dictate to me what I print, Dumbledore! The owners of the Prophet have the law behind them…”
“I AM THE LAW!” Dumbledore bellowed as he flew to his feet, his magic erupting in a visible maelstrom of power. Euwings felt his chest squeeze tightly as his air was cut off. He sagged in his dragon-hide upholstered chair, and tried to urge just one more gulp of air into his lungs, to no avail.
Dumbledore watched dispassionately as the man suffered.
Euwings saw spots and a few seconds later, only blackness.
Dumbledore released the curse, sat again, and finished Euwings’ Danish.
When Aloysius struggled back to consciousness, he found Dumbledore watching his with a steely glint in his normally twinkling eyes.
“I trust you need no further demonstration. Should you, require another, that demonstration will be on your granddaughter Mayble. I believe she is starting her second year at Hogwarts this September. There are several children of ‘suspected’ Death Eaters in school. It would be ‘unfortunate’ if she were raped!”
Dumbledore rose and departed the office. He casually flicked his wand and the door reassembled itself almost perfectly. In the grain, when one was sitting at the editor’s desk, one could see the disapproving face of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
His first call was to his wife, telling her to apply to Beauxbatons for his beloved grandchild…and why. Extra cost be damned! He would not have her at Hogwarts as long as Dumbledore was present.
When she entered the building at 9:00, Rita was asked to report to the editor’s office.
Anticipating a juicy assignment, she stopped as she saw an older woman, two rather burly looking men and a very slender one, waiting. Two, she knew. Aloysius Euwings and Xenophilius Lovegood. The other two were unknown to her.
“Come in Rita. Please have a seat.” Euwings greeted her. “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. These are Mr. Stephan Lander and Madam Sarah Mheere. They own The Daily Prophet. And I believe you’ve met Mister Lovegood, Owner/Editor of The Quibbler.”
Lovegood nodded his head. Rita bobbed hers in return. It was his paper in fact, that had provided her enough to live on the previous year…at the behest of one Harry Potter. Her exclusive had made not only headlines, but had garnered her the coveted Silver Quill award for journalistic excellence. That she’d sold the story several times had not hurt things at all.
“Rita, while you have brought a great deal of gold to The Prophet, your latest article has caused us some grave difficulties.” Mr. Lander began.
“What?” Rita cried. “I can prove everything there!”
“No doubt you can.” Euwings replied. “We know of your animagus form, Rita, and that you likely witnessed the entire event first hand. The problem is Albus Dumbledore has threatened to kill me, my wife, children, and grandchildren if I don’t fire you.”
“On the other hand, I will take you on as a special correspondent, should you wish.” Lovegood interjected. “I have a feeling Luna will be out of danger this year, and I have no other family I would admit to. Dumbledore does not now where The Quibbler is printed. He does know however that if I were to die under ‘mysterious circumstances’, as it were, the paper would still be published. I will of course, require an oath of truthfulness from you.”
“I will not be hobbled!” Rita screeched.
“Then we must part ways. Good day to you.” Mme. Mheere spoke in tone of utter finality.
Rita stormed from the building. It wasn’t that her dismissal was unexpected, she’d been threatened with being fired many times before; it was that this time, the story was actually true! Damn and Blast!
Her savings, along with the more-than-generous severance, would hold her in style for a time, but she truly liked sling mud for The Prophet. It assured her she would have the widest dissemination in Britain. That Quibbler rag, had sold out twice when she published the Potter interview, but that was a once in a while thing. The Prophet was steady gravy.
Harry settled to breakfast and opened his copy of The Prophet. Reading the article, he swore. Dumbledore finally got caught. Like Rita said, he wasn’t above using the unforgivables to get his way. Harry had strongly suspected this for at least the past two years…ever since that damned tournament. Now, it looked to him like Rita had been ‘buzzing about’ and happened to find some juicy muck. He carefully committed the report to memory, anticipating using the details to advantage when the time came.
Picking up a fountain pen, he penned a letter to Graswold to take note of the Daily prophet for the time being. He wrote three more to Amelia, Augusta and Andromeda…just in case.
Harry decided it was as good a time to visit the castle as any. There were a few things to do here but they could be put off. The lightsaber crystals would each require four to five days of effort to create, but that time would have to be without break. He could produce the first one before the vote of no confidence, if he started later today or tomorrow at the very latest. After that, the first time he could work on them would be after the vote. Then, he was going to be very busy indeed!
In Crowley, Hermione Granger sat to her own meal, and like Harry, opened her paper. Like Dumbledore, she decorated her kitchen wall with orange juice.
“Hermione? Honey?” Her mother was immediately concerned. Hermione had never reacted to anything like that!
“Mummy. Professor Dumbledore has used an unforgivable!”
“Judith Granger read the page then set it on the table. “Are you sure this Rita Skeeter is being honest?”
“Mother, Rita Skeeter is anything but honest. She’s the worst kind of yellow journalist to be found, and her stories are the sort of thing The Sun would produce.
Why not ask the headmaster if this is right?”
“Ummm...mum, I really don’t trust the headmaster all that much, anymore. He’s done some awful things to Harry and allowed some really terrible thing s to happen while we were at Hogwarts. If I weren’t so far into my education, I’d try to transfer to Beauxbatons.”
“This sounds serious.” It was then that Hermione made the connection.
“Serious…No. Not Sirius...Harry!”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Mum, everything Dumbledore has done has been to control Harry. I need to talk to Harry.”
No sooner had she spoke than Dobby appeared silently in her kitchen.
“Dobby will bring the great Harry Potter’s Missy Hermyninny to him!” He announced. Both Grangers shrieked at his sudden appearance.
“Dobby!” You almost stopped my heart!” Hermione complained.
Dobby clouded up and ran his head into the wall. Hermione grabbed him and held him tightly. “Dobby, stop! There will be no punishing yourself here!”
Dobby looked at her through rattled eyes and then made things worse. He began to cry while loudly proclaiming her to be as noble and selfless as the great Harry Potter.
Judith, as soon as she saw that Hermione had things in hand, began to snicker. Hermione’s glare didn’t help any, and she only laughed all the harder.
Luna also opened her copy of the prophet. Reading the article, she mused: “It appears the whisperywiggles have invaded the headmaster’s beard.” She read the article, committed it to memory and then made paper boats to sail in the pond.
Dobby, Hermione and Judith appeared in the entry hall of Potter Castle, where an elf immediately offered them tea and a place to wait. Dobby popped away in search of his master. Finding him in the new training room, he announced the presence of Hermione and her mother. Harry hastened to the entry hall.
Seeing the target of her ire, Hermione was on her feet instantly.
“Harry Potter what have you been up to?” She shouted.
“Wow, Hermione! A couple more decibels and you could sound just like Mrs. Weasley!” He snarked.
Hermione immediately flushed in embarrassment.
Harry greeted her with a chaste kiss, and then turned to her mother. “Welcome to Potter Castle, Missus Granger.”
“Hello, Harry. You’re looking good.”
“Thank you Missus Granger. Please, have a seat. Hermione?”
When the Grangers had seated themselves, he did as well and then addressed the topic at hand.
“OK, Hermione. I’m sure you want to get something off your chest. What is it?”
“Have you read the Daily Prophet?”
“Yep. Wonderful job she did on that too!”
“Did he really use…?” Hermione was so horrified she couldn’t continue.
“I didn’t see it, nor did I report it, however, given what he’s done to me…and you, for that matter, I can guess he did.”
“But…but that’s an unforgivable!”
“Hermione, I thought we’ve been over this. You know that Dumbledore is practically untouchable. He can get away with a whole lot more than a few illegal curses. Remember, the laws are meant for the lesser peoples. Albus toomanynames Dumbledore is definitely not one of the little people.”
“So what are you doing here?”
“Well two days ago I told you that I’m going to start a training facility for a corps of Jedi. This is where we’re gonna train. It’s under Fidelus and covered by every type of protective ward known to the goblin nation. We'll have everything from barracks to an infirmary. A dining hall and recreation center, classrooms, indoor and outdoor training areas, pool, track, running trails, gymnasium, and even an obstacle course.”
“Oh my.” Hermione was awed. “What about our schooling?”
“We won’t have time for the usual schooling. It’s a sad fact but there it is. I do have a library and several areas set aside for independent study, but there is going to be precious little time for that.”
“But…but…but…!” Hermione was aghast. ~No study?~
“I can see what you’re thinking, Hermione. Don’t you worry. You’re going to be studying your tail off!”
“Hermione, for the next year, you are going to be training in the most in-depth manner possible, but you will be focusing on just three areas. First, to get yourself into shape. Second to touch and then call upon the force, and lastly to learn to properly use a lightsaber. This is going to take all the time we have, and that’s no lie."
“Harry, school is…” Hermione trailed off. She knew that if Harry failed, then no amount of schooling would protect her. Even if she somehow managed to escape Britain, it would be only a few years more before Voldemort’s group began to expand their influence.
It was Judith who voiced exactly the same thought. “Hermione, if this Voldemort wins, where are we? Your father and I cannot hope to fight against him. If I’ve read those histories properly, he has allies that are faster than humans, demons we can’t see and things like werewolves and vampires at his call. We can’t defend against those. We are after all, only human.”
Hermione turned to her mother with a newfound respect in her eyes.
“A year is all you have to miss.” Harry added. “If we win, Madam Bones has guaranteed we will be readmitted to Hogwarts at the same level, or if, and this is a long-shot, if the sitting head, doesn’t allow it, I will personally fund all the education for each of my Jedi that want it.”
Hermione’s reply was both non-verbal, and at the same time quite…distinct.
Judith flushed at her daughter’s amorous side, and cleared her throat loudly. “If you want me to, I can just toss a tablecloth over you, before your clothing begins to fall off!”
Two blushing teens disengaged with promises for more, later, and Harry offered to escort the ladies on a tour of his ancestral home.
As they wandered through the castle, he explained what and where things would happen over the next year.
That evening, as he was having his tea, Albus read the Prophet’s special edition retraction of the previous story. It wasn’t as fully retracted as he could have liked, but it did cast doubt on the reporter who had written the story in the first place. Rita was being slammed as a glory-seeking liar.
Dumbledore thought it amusing. That was precisely how both he and his pawn had been treated the year previous.
As he read, Albus revised the wondrous idea he’d come up with that morning, which he felt sure would regain his control over his most important chess piece. He quickly worked out all the details, before heading to his bed for a peaceful nights sleep.
9th July 7:35 AM
The day of the ICW vote, Dumbledore woke, dressed and left his office, and descended through the castle, smiling benignly at all he met. The house-elves were as servile as he expected him to be, Argus was as sycophantic as always, and Minerva was safely tucked away in her office going over the administrative work he couldn’t be bothered with. She had almost complained when he’d handed her the stack of parchment. He’d need to see about renewing the compulsions he’d set on her. He had to be very careful with those compulsions, as she needed a great deal of autonomy in her day-to-day activities.
Breakfast was lovely, as usual, with plenty of his favorite foods to enjoy. He ate with relish before finally rising and walking through the lower parts of the castle to find himself at the door to his most trusted agent’s quarters.
“Severus.” He called as he entered the chambers. Severus Snape looked up from his desk, schooled his thoughts, and greeted his master’s foe.
“I have an assignment for you. Young Harry has refused to return to his relative’s home in Surrey. I’d like you to take a group of Death Eaters and destroy the home. You may do with the Dursleys as you wish. When the stupid child reads The Daily Prophet in the morning, he will discover that the wards around the Dursley home have fallen. I shall ensure that he knows it was his absence that made the wards fail and in his guilt, he will return to my control.”
“I can do little or nothing, just now, headmaster. The evening before last, when you were unconscious, Potter stole my wand and handed it to Madam Bones for ‘testing’. That was how I was arrested, in fact. Director Shacklebolt told me it was ‘lost in the ministry’s bureaucracy’, and may not surface for months. If it is tested, for dark spells, there is a very good chance I will be sent immediately to Azkaban.”
“Never fear, Severus. I shan’t allow you to be arrested again. You are far too valuable to me. Still, I want the Dursleys eliminated. I cannot allow the truth of their treatment of young Harry to be made public.”
“Lucius is the only other member of the inner circle who I would trust with such an assignment. While he…enjoys such things, unlike many, he knows when to stop. Unfortunately, since he is incarcerated at the moment, he cannot help. If I am to go, I shall need a new wand.”
“No doubt he does. Very well. See to the arrangements, and I shall contact Valeri Gregorovitch today to provide you another wand.”
“Thank you, headmaster.”
Fortunately Dumbledore, in his omniscient glory, ignored the ramifications of Harry’s ‘dealing’ with Severus whilst he was…indisposed. After all, Harry was only a pawn, while he, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, was the chessmaster!
At ten that morning, Dobby reported that Dumbledore was still in his office and apparently had no intention of leaving anytime soon,
“Damn!” Harry swore. “We’ve got to get that Sword.”
“Why do you want it so badly, Harry?” Hermione was worried her chosen would do something rash to gain the legendary sword.
“I don’t know. It’s like the force…or magic itself, if you will, is telling me I need to get it out of there. Not necessarily that I need it, per se, but I need to get it away from him. I think it’s sorta like a battle standard. If Dumbledore waves that sword around his head claiming to be the heir of Gryffindor, who knows how many people will flock to him.”
“OK, I can see that. How are you going to do it?”
Harry thought for a few minutes then announced: “I’m going to go to the Ministry.”
“What!?!” Hermione was horrified.
“Relax. I’m going to the Ministry, but I have a way out. As soon as I arrive there, Dumbledore will get a call from one of his spies. He’ll come rushing in to try to force me back here, where he can ‘protect’ me…” Harry held up his hands and made ‘air quotes’. “…and as soon as he leaves Hogwarts, Dobby can do his job. When the force warns me of his presence in the Ministry, I’ll do a runner, and he’ll be left with a mystery.”
“Alright!” She demanded playfully. “Who are you and what have you done to Harry?” Inwardly she was pleased with this new side to Harry.
Harry laughed and seated himself. He scribbled a short note to Amelia Bones, telling her that he intended visit her former office in order to lure Albus from his tower, and did she have any suggestions?
Half an hour later Hedwig returned bearing an acknowledgment and a query as to what the hell he was doing. He laughed out loud and wrote a second note explaining what he intended to accomplish, and how.
Another twenty minutes and Hedwig returned once more bearing a note and a nail file.
Just in case your method of escape doesn’t go as right
as you want, this nail file is my emergency portkey.
It’s good from any spot in the ministry. Since it was
made before I was fired, it’s still good. Its activation
phrase is: ‘Nickel Iron Asteroid’. Don’t screw it up!
Harry started to laugh. When she had red the note, Hermione joined him in a fit of the giggles. He stuffed the nail file into his pocket and pinned the goblin portkey into his shirt.
Shortly before Harry left for the ministry, Hermione asked Dobby and Winky to go to Hogwarts and ‘relocate’ all the floo powder in the castle.
A lingering kiss with Hermione and Harry departed on his task.
Harry was correct. As soon as he’d had his wand inspected, Eric, the incompetent guard, sent a memo requesting a relief. When his replacement arrived, he told her that he needed to visit St. Mungo’s to get a stomach relief potion. He flooed from the ministry to the Three Broomsticks where he asked Rosmerta for an owl. The bird arrived, and he scribbled a short note. Folding the parchment, he gave it to the brown bird and sent it off. His job done, he returned to the ministry and re-assumed his post with no one the wiser.
Albus Dumbledore was in his office pacing and trying to come up with a way to convince Harry to return to his control, when an owl he recognized as being one of Rosmerta’s, entered through his window. The owl dropped the folded page and flew out once more.
Curious, he opened the letter. Reading the short missive, he frowned.
“What is Harry doing at the ministry? Doesn’t he understand he is only protected where I placed him? Stupid boy! He needs to learn to follow orders!” Then he smirked. Harry did not know he’d had Bones sacked, and would be headed towards her office. He had always hated dealing with the grey-haired…witch. She was absolutely incorruptible, and far too skilled for any covert assassination attempt to succeed.
Fortunately that little problem had been ‘taken care of’. He sent a messenger dart to Kinsley ordering him to hold Harry there until he arrived.
Sighing, he stood and headed for his fireplace, only to find his supply of floo powder gone. He would have had Fawkes take him, but that stupid bird had been away from the castle since the end of term! Worse, Fawkes refused to come when he called!
“Flopsey!” He called. A house elf appeared immediately. “Good Morning, Master, Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, sir. How may Flopsey serve you?”
“Flopsey, I seem to be out of floo powder. Would you please bring me some?”
“Of course, Master, Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, sir.” The tiny person vanished.
Seconds later Flopsey returned. “Master, Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, sir, they is no floo powder in the castle. None at all!”
“None?” Albus was shocked that such a basic item was missing.
“None at all, Master, Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, sir.” The house elf began to beat her head against the edge of the desk. Not wanting to have his most valuable elf incapacitate herself…too badly, Dumbledore allowed her several good thumps, before he grabbed her shoulders and said: “Thank you, Flopsey. There is no need to punish yourself. You may return to your duties.”
Albus dismissed the elf and swept out the door. Descending the stairs, he wondered why the floo powder had vanished. He decided that Peeves must have played one of his pranks, and resolved to have words with the poltergeist.
Curiously enough, things didn’t get any better. The stairways refused to move for him, or moved in the wrong directions, or stopped in mid move. When he finally did reach the entrance hall, some twenty minutes later, the main doors were locked tight. Growling in frustration, now, he commanded them open.
They opened, but very slowly. As soon as he could fit, he squeezed through and hurried down the road to Hogsmeade. From behind, he thought he heard the sound of a snicker, but when he turned, there was nobody in sight…mage or otherwise.
Once he reached The Three Broomsticks, he flooed directly to the ministry. Tossing a small bag of gold to Eric, he swept through the atrium.
In the headmaster’s office, Dobby popped into existence, deftly bypassed the wards around the glass case, and swapped Gryffindor’s sword for one that looked the same. It even had the same ‘feel’ of magic around it. The only difference was instead of ‘GODRIC GRYFFINDOR’ inscribed on the blade, it read: ‘HARRY POTTER’.
Beside him, Winky carefully poured floo-powder from the sack she held, into the ceramic jar, and returned it to the mantle. She left the office silently to replace all of the glittering powder they had taken.
Some thousand miles away, on a mountaintop in the Glarner Alps of eastern Switzerland, a weary Fawkes snickered, before returning to his nap.
Dobby left the office and popped down to Myrtle’s bathroom. There, he held out a rune-covered stone, which hissed ‘Open!’ in Parseltongue. The sinks shifted and he floated down the pipe. In the chamber below, he found the three-year-old rockslide. With a snap of his fingers, the slide was transformed into a solid stone arch, supporting the weakened ceiling, and providing an easy way into the second chamber. Just for fun, Dobby inset the Potter coat of arms on either side of the arch.
The round door opened as soon as he touched the stone and Dobby learned exactly what his master had fought. When he saw the basilisk, he was absolutely horrified! This was the monster his wonderful master had fought slain...as a child! Dark red blood still glimmered in the dim light. Due the hideously powerful magic within the huge serpent’s body, decay had not yet set in.
Dobby gathered up all the shed skins and draped them over the monster’s corpse. Sticking the large bronze portkey to the dead basilisk, he activated it. The pile of potions ingredients vanished in a swirl of colored light. Dobby chuckled to himself before beginning his search for another exit to the chamber.
The massive serpent appeared in the lowest levels of the Goblin caverns. Gasps of shock, horror and awe erupted from the many goblins present, even though they’d been told what to expect.
Immediately, six senior goblins chivvied their teams to the monster serpent, and the goblin teams began to efficiently disassemble the beast. Hide enough for a dozen full-sized sets of spell-proof armor was removed and set aside. The shed skins were sliced into easily handled pieces and stacked for later shredding. Potions ingredients worth a king’s ransom were carefully removed and packaged. Venom and blood were gathered and bottled. Itemized records were created, and senior directors kept a watchful eye over all.
In a corner, one worker groused to his friend, as they were folding basilisk hide. “But why should we give him half? He’s just a human!”
“Because Lord Gryffindor has dealt fairly with us, nameless one. We shall deal fairly with him!” came a growl from behind, that sounded like the speaker had been chewing rocks.
Both junior goblins blanched. There wasn’t a goblin in Britain that did not know that voice. Both turned to face a glowering Dak Graswold. Both sank to one knee.
Graswold stood there; eyeing both goblins like a scientist might examine a particularly noisome fungus.
“Just remember, he slew that monster in single combat…with a sword. He was an unblooded mup at the time. Now, imagine if he could do that as a child, how would he fare now, against even the mightiest of us.” Graswold gestured to a subaltern and turned away to examine the new wealth that Lord Gryffindor had so graciously provided.
The sub, began to speak. “Lord Gryffindor was also the one who brought to light, the disgraced one’s perfidy. He killed Griphook…” He turned his head and spat in contempt, then returned to his speech. “…in single combat…with a blade. I watched him take a killing thrust through the breast…and - he - laughed. Remember that, nameless one. The Unified Goblin Hordes, and we of Horde Gringg especially, owe him a debt of honor. We will not disgrace ourselves again.” He also turned away.
Both junior goblins looked at each other and decided that they were very lucky to still have their heads resting on their shoulders.
Dumbledore arrived at the Aurors office to find no Harry Potter in custody. Kingsley told him that Potter hadn’t shown up. He had no explanation for the boy’s disappearance.
Using his ‘concerned grandfather’ voice, Dumbledore made his dissatisfaction clearly evident. By the time Dumbledore was through with his gentle manipulations, Kingsley was thoroughly ashamed at his failure to capture one child.
A furious Albus Dumbledore returned to office to find nothing changed, and yet, there was a feeling of something…off. With the exception of the current location monitor, the silvery trinkets he’d attuned to Harry all still puffed and beeped and flashed and whistled as they always had, so he knew his pawn was still alive and in good health. ~Pity that.~ He mused darkly.
A look around the office showed nothing awry, so he flicked his wand and tested all his security devices and monitoring charms, to find nothing awry. Still, he had not become the greatest wizard on Earth by being careless.
He would recast those wards and charms, soon. Just now, he had something more important to do. He was out of lemon drops. He gathered up his ‘special’ lemon drop bag and a galleon and turned to the floo, saying: “Honeydukes!”
At seven thirty that evening, Severus Snape entered his master’s chambers and knelt at the mutation’s feet. Bowing, he kissed the hem of Voldemort’s robe and then waited, head bowed in a servile position.
It was a half hour before Voldemort tired of the game and bade his slave to rise.
“Rise, Severus. Rise and tell me why I should not punish you for intruding on my solitude without invitation.”
“I beg your pardon, my lord, but I have received instructions from the muggle lover that I felt you should be aware of.”
“And these instructions are…?”
“I am to select a group of lower echelon Death Eaters, take them to the boy’s house, destroy it, and kill his relatives.”
“Why would Dumbledore order this?” Voldemort sneered. “Is he not the ‘leader of the light’?”
“So he claims, my lord. He wants the Dursleys eliminated before their treatment of young Potter comes to light.”
“What treatment is this?” Now Voldemort was intrigued. If the boy had been mistreated as he himself was, there was a chance of gaining this most powerful enemy’s, support.
“It appears that Potter was not as…royally treated…as we once thought. He does, in fact, have to perform some few…minor…chores and is exposed to a modicum of ‘discipline’.” Snape replied, hoping his statements would be taken as truth.
Alas, they were not.
“Now, tell me the truth. You allow your personal hatred of the boy’s father, to color your views, Severus. Give me your thoughts.”
“When he felt Voldemort’s mental probe, Severus carefully isolated an area of his mind in which he stored his favorite memories of the worthless spawn of James Potter. There, he held memories of Potter’s abasement, the beatings and torments he was privileged to witness, and the shrieks of pain he could only hear.
Voldemort was not as pleased.
“Crucio!” He snarled. Severus fell screaming to the flags, in unremitting torment.
After a few moments, which to Severus seemed a lifetime, he released the curse.
“You may hate the man, Severus, but the boy has proved himself a worthy adversary!
How Dumbledore could abet his treatment is quite beyond me. However, that is unimportant. You will do as he bade you. Select five of my servants, and go to the Dursley home on Friday night. No mere muggle should ever dare to treat a wizard, as they have treated Potter. Destroy the home…burn it down, and make their deaths memorable ones.”
“As you say, my lord.” Snape stepped backwards the requisite five paces, turned to the right and departed his master’s secret lair.
In the earliest morning hours of the tenth, Death Eaters appeared at the end of Privet Drive, and began to walk down the unremarkable muggle street.
It didn’t take them long to find the house they were looking for, though they did get lost in the sameness more than once.
“These muggles deserve to die!” One groused. “They have no taste!”
“Silence, Flint.” Came a silky, sneering voice, which every student of potions for the past fifteen years would easily recognize. “This is not a midnight stroll with your sweetheart. We are here to do a specific job and nothing more!”
They cast notice-me-not charms around themselves before descending upon their target.
The front door proved no obstacle. Not even a ward against the unlocking charm. In fact there were no wards there at all. ~Curious.~ Severus thought. ~The old man has always claimed there were blood-based wards here, yet I see no indication of any such!~
Inside the home the six terrorists spread out only to find the home empty. There was food in the refrigerator and more in the cupboards…if what was there could actually be called food. The potions master took a quick look at the ingredients on a bag of biscuits and decided the bag itself would be more nutritious.
Though the home was quiet, the methane, electrics and water were all operating, so the muggles wouldn’t be gone long.
“They’re not here.” A recruit complained.
“Obviously.” Snape returned. He sighed. It was certain the dark lord did not recruit for intelligence. “Nevertheless, the master has ordered the place destroyed, and so that is what we shall do. Outside now!”
Ordering his fellows to encircle the house, Severus Snape personally cast the locking spells on the doors and windows of #4 Privet Drive. An incendiary charm and the building caught flame. Within minutes the entire structure was engulfed.
At the sound of the approaching fire brigade, he threw up his wand and shouted “MORDSMORDRE!” Then he and the other Death Eaters departed in a series of sharp cracks…like gunshots, leaving behind the flaming remains of what was once a home.
The obliviators arrived just after the fire crew did and when the fire was out, they set to work, substituting thoughts of a broken gas main and resultant explosion, for the Dark Mark that floated overhead. Dispelling the ugly symbol, they too vanished into the night.
Some six hundred miles to the southeast, in a villa on the outskirts of Palma, a family of three was snoring happily away, with not a care in the world.
Six hours later, Dobby woke Harry with his usual cuppa, and reported that he’d recruited a dozen house-elves who’d been freed when their owners were arrested. Many of them would not survive for much longer without a bond, and a few of them could die even then. Harry asked his little friend to bring them to him one at a time, the weakest first, and asked them if they would like to bond to him.
All the freed elves agreed, with eyes overflowing with tears. As each was bonded he sent them to Potter Castle to prepare the place for long-term occupation by between seventy-five and one hundred people.
At the breakfast table, he opened the prophet to find Hermione’s prediction had been quite accurate. The house he’d grown up in had been razed to the ground early that morning.
The article, written by one R.U.Mertz, cast blame on everybody but those responsible. She impugned the capability of the Minister, the Ministry, the Auror Department and even the Dursleys themselves. She also threw in a few snide comments from an interview with Dumbledore as to Harry’s affiliation, saying: “If Harry Potter had not decided to abandon his muggle relatives to their fate, while he hid away in his own sybaritic surrounds, the wards surrounding their home, wards provided by Albus Dumbledore, would not have failed, and his relatives Vernon, Petunia and Dudley Dursley would still be alive.”
Harry snickered. “Well, Dumbledore’s in fine form today!”
He finished reading the article and then informed Dobby he would be in the basement for the next five days working on Hermione’s focusing crystal, and to allow no interruptions barring earth-shattering conditions.
He descended to the forge room and closed the door. Seating himself in the lotus position, he activated the forge, and sank into the force. Once he was fully joined with the mystical energy field, he began to manipulate the new gems he was to make. Seeing as how he’d done the trick before, he decided to try to make two…Hermione’s and Luna’s. Susan’s and Neville’s could come later. With his mind clear, he lifted up the quartz dust and some iron oxides, and applied the necessary pressure inside the inferno to create two nice little citrine cylinders no more than a half inch long by a quarter inch across. Once he had the two perfect gems, he began to layer them with the carbon he’d added. Together, they slowly formed; atom by atom, into the new amalgamate crystals of citrine and diamond. As with his own Emerald/Diamond composite, the citrine would provide the focus and the diamond would handle the power.
Four days passed as he moulded the crystals in his forge. On the morning of the fifth day, he set each composite gem to spinning and using the force; he shaved off micro-meters of shell until it was perfectly cylindrical. He cut six tiny converging lines in the front of the gem, polished it absolutely clear, and etched the back and sides to a translucency.
Examining them minutely with the force, he could detect no imperfections in one, though the other had a slight flaw along the edge of the base. He’d gotten careless somewhere along the line. It shouldn’t be a problem but he wasn’t taking chances with anybody’s life. He set the priceless gem into a scrap pile. The other, he examined again, as thoroughly as he could, and then set it aside for assembly the next day.
He decided to make only one at a time from here on in. Despite the time it took, he wouldn’t sacrifice quality for quantity. People’s lives were at stake here!
Stumbling up the stairs, he assured Dobby and Winky he was fine, ate a largish meal, took a quick shower and tumbled into his bed, asleep before is head hit the pillow.
He slept until the morning of the sixteenth.
Albie was not using the force…or not intentionally. He is an extremely powerful wizard and can tap into that power at need.
Scrimgeour: In book seven he demonstrated his bullying, by using a stinging hex on Harry and then threatening to arrest him if he retaliated, saying he was not in school just then.
Some scenes here are also taken from my story ‘Dirty Harry’, including the ministry scene with Eric the incompetent security guard, Dobby in the headmaster’s office and later in the Chamber of Secrets and the scene in the chamber beneath Gringotts.
I’ve been injured by improperly built weapons. Harry is too good a man to allow that to happen to his friends.