At last, the long awaited, Wizengamot meeting. Dumbledore is sidelined, Amelia gets a new office and Harry gets to play with his lightsaber. Snape receives a package in the mail, Harry discovers...
“Well, Mister Potter, we have fifteen minutes to go before we depart. Have you any suggestions?” Amelia asked with a chuckle. “Other than that?” If anything, her implication made their blushes even brighter.
Harry gathered himself and answered: “Yes. We have to break Dumbledore’s Fidelus and cast our own.”
“How do we do that, Harry?” Hermione asked. I thought the Fidelus was unbreakable unless the secret is willingly given.”
“That’s what Dumbledore wants people to think. It’s his placebo. If people think Fidelus is impregnable, he can use it to control them. After all, he’s offering sanctuary from their worst fear. What he doesn’t want known, is that there’s another way…but you’ll never read about it anywhere. He’s taken steps to ensure that. All the books on concealment and security charms like Fidelus not in private collections, are banned as ‘dark arts’. You see, the charm is based on a secret, such as this house being headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix, but the secret must be true. If I, as the owner of this house, eject the Order of the Phoenix, and refuse to allow them entrance, the secret is no longer true and the charm will break on its own.”
With that, Harry, Amelia, Andromeda and Hermione held a simple ritual. Andromeda had Hermione memorize some written directions, and practice for a few minutes, before they formed a circle, with Harry at the center. Invoking his status as head of House Black, Harry said aloud: “Number twelve Grimmauld Place is no longer the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.”
With that, the Fidelus came crashing down. The three ladies were more than capable witches and together they erected a new Fidelus, bearing the legend: ‘Sanctuary can be found at number twelve Grimmauld Place, London’. Having three witches perform the charm in unison, provided a stronger shield than even Albus with too many names, Dumbledore could. He’d believed in his own omniscience for so long, he completely overlooked the sheer power of a witch’s coven…even one of only three members.
Harry became the secret keeper and immediately shared the information with Amelia, Andromeda and Hermione and sent Hedwig to deliver a notice to Luna, telling her to go to the park she’d visited in London where the nargles would tell her a secret, and another to Carolyn asking her to see Andromeda. He’d tell Augusta and Neville personally, after the Wizengamot meeting.
Andromeda both flooed to the ministry as she and Augusta had some last minute stage dressing to do. Amelia remained with Harry and Hermione and together with the elves, they sipped their tea.
“We’re going to need to find a way to get Dumbledore out of his seats for the foreseeable future.” He announced. “But I can’t see how.”
“Harry, that, of all things, is not a problem.” Amelia replied.
“Didn’t you tell me you were having Gringotts investigate Dumbledore’s accounts and holdings?”
“Harry, wizarding society moves on status and gold. Dumbledore’s ‘audit’ is going to be the hot topic of social scandal for the foreseeable future. Since he cannot access his vaults…or those vaults he has illegally taken control of, he cannot offer bribes to those who require them. Politically he is force to be reckoned with, but without the gold to back up that status, he has very little real power.”
“And the ICW?” Hermione asked.
“That’s even easier. The ICW consists of a single representative from each member country involved. Dumbledore is Britain’s representative. Since his audit will be made public, if not by the goblins, then certainly by the dwarves in Geneva, he will be removed from his position…temporarily of course, until the audit is done and assuming no malfeasance is discovered.”
“So he’s well and truly buggered, isn’t he?” Harry laughed.
Amelia chuckled along with him. “While I wouldn’t have put it quite like that, you are essentially correct. As of tomorrow, he will be a toothless tiger.”
It was a very happy Harry Potter who apparated to the ministry…specifically to the Auror’s apparation point. Kingsley Shacklebolt met him there and immediately tried to force him to return to Grimmauld place…'for his own safety' of course. Amelia’s entrance brought that to a screeching halt.
“Kingsley Shacklebolt. Do you work for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, or for Albus Dumbledore? Make up your mind, because you cannot serve two masters.”
Kingsley argued: “Madam Bo nes, with all due respect to you, and the many sacrifices you have made to the service, the Minister is doing nothing to prevent the Death Eaters’ devastation, while taking bribes from the richest of them. Worse, he’s hamstrung us all with his incompetence. At least the Order is trying.”
“To do what?” Harry interjected. “I’ve seen the order’s meetings. You lot, do nothing but sit around the table posturing and debating the disinformation your - one - spy gives you. Dumbledore expects everyone around him to trust the Death Eater…because he says so! That’s not good enough.
No action is ever taken when the Deez attack innocents. They murder, rape, torture their victims and raze their homes and towns to the ground and you lot, do nothing. When your own members are attacked or killed, you still do nothing. Dumbledore’s policies are not only counterproductive, but for a military commander, utterly insane! He protects the enemy while allowing the innocent to suffer, all for his idea of redeeming those who have knowingly and deliberately placed themselves beyond redemption.
How many lives could he have saved had he acted on any of Snivellus’ tips? Actually the answer to that is ‘none’. Snivellus is a spy, but not for you. He deliberately staggers into a meeting just a few minutes too late to do any good. He gives false or outdated information and smirks to himself as Dumbledore sucks on his lemon drops and twiddles his thumbs. But that’s beside the point. Since you have only one spy, anything he says should be considered suspect. You have no way to verify it. Poor intelligence process, there. Even if you did, Dumbledore still wouldn’t do a thing. He just loves having information but sharing it, is a different matter entirely.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Harry!” Shacklebolt felt the intense urge to defend Albus’ wisdom.
“Don’t I really? Let me ask you a few questions, then. You understand how most wards function, don’t you?”
“Well, knowing the way wards work, could a teacher possessed by a malevolent spirit, bent on murder, enter Hogwarts?”
“He shouldn’t be able to. Not without the headmaster knowing.”
“That’s right. ‘Not - without - the - headmaster – knowing.’ Now second question. Why would Dumbledore place the single item, most guaranteed to attract the spirit of a not-quite-dead dark lord, who is the absolute definition of psychotic, into a school filled with kids, some of whom have never held a wand before, and none of whom could possibly defend themselves from him? Why would he guard it with a series of ridiculous traps any first year with a functioning brain could get by, and a dog that falls to sleep when someone whistles a tune…and then tell said kids, both where it is, and that venturing into that corridor would result in a ‘most painful death’? Why would he do something like that? Anybody who has kids, or has ever dealt with kids, would know that that is the absolute worst thing they could do!”
Shacklebolt flushed and nodded his head. His six year old, Celesta was a stubborn and frequently contrary child and he’d learned the hard way, that telling her not to do something was tantamount to giving her unfettered permission to try it anyway.
“Again with the wards…” Harry went on. By now several people were covertly listening in. Harry smirked inwardly. This could only help to get the old bastard off his back! “What should have happened if an unsuspecting child brought a really dark artifact through the wards? What should have happened had a…let’s say sixty-three foot basilisk managed to get loose in the castle? Why would he hire a self-serving fop with no actual credentials, as defense teacher when the average student could plainly see his books were badly written fiction?
And that was just my first two years at Hogwarts.
Now, going back a little further in time, Dumbledore could have given Sirius the trial he deserved by law, fifteen years ago, but he decided not to. Sirius would have raised me to be the next Marauder, and that would have interfered with the old man’s plans for me. He needed a willing sacrifice to destroy the weapon that he, himself created, to destroy Grindelwald. Instead, he stood aside and let Sirius be railroaded by Crouch, while he kept a real Death Eater from going to prison, because he promised to be good.” Harry sneered the last.
“Snivellus has consistently failed in that promise.
Dumbledore knew that Sirius was innocent, and he knew when Sirius escaped from Azkaban, that he was headed to Hogwarts, not to kill me, as he told The Daily Prophet, but to try to protect me from Wormy. He knew Sirius was innocent, and instead of using his authority as Chief of the Wizengamot to push for a trial, or even begin an investigation, he kept him prisoner at headquarters. How hard would it have been to ask Madam Bones here, to go there under parlay, and question him with Veritaserum? And don’t say there wasn’t time, because between the summer that Sirius escaped from Azkaban and the night he died, Dumbledore had nearly three years! Instead of doing his fucking job, he let Sirius rot!
Now, let’s look into my fourth year…
How is it possible to create a portkey from inside the Hogwarts wards? I was under the impression that only the headmaster or mistress could create such a portkey.”
“He’s supposed to be the only one who can.” Shacklebolt admitted.
“And yet, I was portkeyed away from that stupid tournament…from inside the wards, to attend Tommy’s little rebirthday party…not to mention being included in the tournament in the first place! Speaking of which, how was I included? I thought only those of age were allowed to compete. The headmaster drew an age circle…a ward…around the Goblet of Fire. So how did Crouch manage to get my name in, as a fourth competitor, without Dumbledore knowing? He set up that ward personally! From what Bill told the summer before, it should have alerted him every time it was crossed!”
By now the bystanders had dropped all pretense and were listening in abject fascination.
“Last year, one of your Order members was sent to Azkaban, another was killed, and Arthur Weasely was nearly so, trying to protect that bloody prophesy. It was only my vision that saved his bloody life! And what did Dumbledore do? Not a goddamned thing! He could have sidelined the entire thing by taking me to retrieve the prophesy and having me listen to it and then destroy it. Instead, he ordered his pet Death Eater, Severus Snape to mind-rape me on a regular basis just to make damn sure Ol’ Voldyface could get into my grey matter!
If it hadn’t been for my warning to McGonagall, Arthur Weasley…the head of an old-line pureblood house, would have died. Worse, Dumbledore would have allowed him to die, costing the entire Weasley family not only their father, but their only source of income! He would have sighed in his ‘I’m the caring grandfather’ voice…” Harry aped Dumbledore perfectly. “…eulogized him thoroughly and then gone on to look for another pawn.
And what about the Weasley family? With no income, pureblood or not, I’m certain that under ‘Minister’ Malfoy’s direction, they would have been put out of the Burrow in a bloody heartbeat.
“And what about Umbridge. Dumbledore had to know what she was doing. He has the portraits spying on the students and staff, all the time. How could eh have missed the class three dark artifact she brought into the school, or that she was torturing students with it…students who didn’t knuckle under to Minister Fudge’s demands that Voldemort…: Harry rolled his eyes at the gasp of fear that sounded. “Pathetic. All of you! Anyway, anybody who wouldn’t knuckle under to the Minister’s insistence that Voldemort couldn’t have returned, was tortured with that fucking quill. I’m the grand prize winner with a total of over eighty-five hours of it. The Weasley twins are in second place with twelve each, and Deal Thomas has nine.
Whatever Dumbledore is doing, it is not for the good of the community.”
Shack was stunned, not only at the accusations Harry had brought, but also at the vehemence with which he’d brought them. He began to think carefully about the things Harry had said, and unfortunately, he could find no fault with the boy’s reasoning. Perhaps Dumbledore wasn’t as bright and shiny as he wanted the world to think him. Still, there was the feeling, prodding him hard, that told him he must trust Albus Dumbledore, because he was the epitome of the light. He had no time to raise this thought, because Bones said softly, for his ears only: “Make up your mind now, Kingsley. When Fudge is ousted, I’m going to be the next Minister. If you decide to work for Dumbledore, then I will expect your resignation on my desk. The same goes for Tonks and Jones. I cannot have Aurors with divided loyalties.”
Kingsley blanched. He hadn’t thought she’d known of their involvement with the order.
“Oh come now, Kingsley!” She spat. “I have been an Auror since before you were born! Don’t you think in all that time I would have picked up a few skills?”
She glared the tall and rather embarrassed Auror aside and led Harry into the council chambers.
The vote of no confidence went as expected. Dumbledore had been forcibly recused, due to ‘conflict of interest, and not a few purebloods were glaring at him, for what he’d allowed to happened to Sirius Black. Harry’s not-quite-discrete rant in the hallway, hadn’t gained him any friends either. A lot of people had children attending Hogwarts.
Now, Augusta Longbottom sat in his place. He sat in the gallery, fuming at his loss of control over the event. They didn’t understand the need for the greater good. Nobody did. Nobody but Albus Dumbledore. He could have done so much for the greater good, had he only been allowed to ‘persuade’ the others to his viewpoint.
So many things had gone wrong since the end of the last school year. Yes, he’d managed to nudge that idiot Black through he veil with a silent banishing spell after his cousin had hit him with a stunner…~Why did she use a stunner, of all things?~ He asked himself, but shrugged and mentally filed the question as: ‘nice to know, but ultimately unimportant’.
He’d won that battle and gotten rid of the only real block to his control of his pawn, but since then, things had definitely not gone his way.
Umbridge had been arrested in her room at St. Mungo’s, and was even then, in a holding cell, awaiting trial for her use of the occamy quills on Harry. He’d have to delay that trial until Harry was safely sequestered at Hogwarts. If the star witness was unavailable to testify, the charges would have to be set aside.
The attempt on the Dursleys had failed. The Death Eaters had struck an empty house. #4 was gutted, but the Dursleys had been ‘persuaded’ to leave the country in a hurry just days before. Just now they were being investigated for insurance fraud. Fortunately, the Death Eaters hadn’t gone on a rampage that night. Only their target was destroyed. The foolish muggles who lived on the boring street of Privet Drive, in the utterly bland suburb of Little Whinging, were left alone.
Blast and Damn!
He was even angrier at Harry’s appearance before the Wizengamot, as lord and head of not two, as he’d expected, but three noble and most ancient houses…including a founders house. He’d forgotten that little detail. ~Damn!~ He was fully aware of Harry’s connection to Gryffindor. In fact, he’d counted on Harry’s status as Gryffindor’s heir to attract Tom, when he’d ‘convinced’ Sirius to switch secret keeping with Peter. He knew then, with Tom in receipt of the first part of his ‘prophesy’, and Peter the secret keeper, Tom would strike at the Potters personally, and only later, deal with the Longbottoms, but as both of them were of he Gryffindor line, with the Longbottoms only one more step removed, either would serve. That Harry was the marked one only made it that much more satisfying, in that the most direct heir of Gryffindor would slay the last heir of Slytherin. Positively poetic!
Dumbledore also was a descendent of Godric Gryffindor, if not directly, and had felt certain he could inveigle the transfer of the lordship to himself after Harry’s ‘tragic demise in the service of the greater good’.
Now, unfortunately, Harry was recognized as lord of all three houses, which ended Dumbledore’s control quite nicely. He’d have to have a ‘little chat’ with the upstart when he returned to…
Dumbledore frowned. Suddenly he could no longer remember where Harry was staying. He knew it was at headquarters, but no longer knew where headquarters was. Obviously Harry had found someone to break and recast the Fidelus, and he, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, was no longer the secret keeper. Outrageous! Insulting! Humiliating! He would see about that!
Albus was seething. HE was being sidelined by his pawn! Couldn’t Harry see that everything he was doing was for the greater good?
~This avenue is closed to me, I must find another way.~ He thought. ~There must be another way!~
Still, Albus-with-too-many-names, Dumbledore was a patient and nearly omniscient wizard. Just ask him. He would deny it so vehemently; you’d be utterly convinced of its truth by the time he was done.
He would bide his time and find or create a new opportunity to control his young pawn.
As he pondered, an idea came to him. ~Hmmm. It seems to me that young Ginevra is of a marriageable age…but then, so is the mudblood. We’ll have to see about eliminating her first.~
And so the scheming old bastard sat idly by, plotting murder and corruption, as he watched another of his pawns removed from the board.
Fudge was unable to explain to anyone’s satisfaction, why he had so adamantly refused to even consider Voldemort’s return, blustering instead, about the importance of his position, and the necessity of people following his direction.
Unfortunately nobody wanted to be seen as taking a stance, so it was up to Harry to hang him. Dumbledore tried to prevent it, claiming Harry had no experience in politics and he should let those who did handle things.
Harry’s response was scathing.
“That’s why we’re in such a horrible mess now. We let ‘those who do know’…or should have known, handle things. As Phyrrus once said: “Another such victory, and we are undone.”
Since Harry had the legal right to be there, and since he had the backing of the…witch in his seat, Dumbledore had no recourse. The boy would be allowed to speak.
Harry started by offering an oath on his magic that the evidence he would present was true and complete. Then he asked for a litigant’s pensieve, and dropped in several memories.
After watching Fudge arrest Hagrid ‘to be seen as doing something’, with Lucius Malfoy conveniently in the background, and then seeing Fudge ordering Sirius kissed upon capture…again, Malfoy was right beside him, the mutters of discontent began. The memory of Sirius Remus, Pettigrew and Snape, in the shrieking shack followed, as did Fudge’s blind acceptance of Snape’s self-serving lies, and his tantrum when Sirius ‘escaped’.
He stopped the projection for a few minutes addressing Amos Diggory. “Mister Diggory, I truly hate having to show this, but it is necessary to see what kind of incompetent fool we have for a minister. We must know how his corruption has led to death and worse. For what it’s worth, I felt Cedric was a worthy champion and a good friend, and you deserve to know how he died.” The last words forced their way out of a throat closed by grief and anger.
He restarted the pensieve. It showed Cedric’s bravery helping Harry fight the acromantula, and their joint decision to take the cup together. It showed the portkey trip, and they all heard Cedric’s last words: “Wands out, you reckon?” before the voice shouted: “Kill the spare!” and Cedric fell the green flash of death.
The audience was stunned, and Amos wept anew for his son. Harry bowed his head and whispered: “I’m sorry, sir.”
It was quiet, but everybody there, heard it anyway.
Immediately following that, was the memory of Voldemort’s revival, clearly showing both Malfoy and Pettigrew, as well as the other named Death Eaters, the interrogation of Barty Crouch Jr. under Veritaserum, and learning that Fudge had ordered Crouch kissed before he could offer any testimony to the council, and his refusing to even contemplate Voldemort’s return because ‘he would be kicked out of office’. Seeing Fudge accepting what was plainly a bag of gold from Malfoy, before Harry’s trial and the trial itself. Then came Umbridge’ crimes at Hogwarts, with Fudge’s tacit approval, Fudge’s attempt to remove Dumbledore from his position and Dumbledore’s overly flashy escape, with Malfoy once again lurking in the background, the Ministry debacle in the Department of Mysteries featuring…Lucius Malfoy, and lastly, watching Sirius die, fighting against the most psychotic witch they had ever seen.
Even Dumbledore was convinced, and he already knew Fudge was incompetent and corrupt as hell. That’s why he’d kept the fool in the Minister’s position!
Harry’s closing line was the last nail.
“Fudge, you’re damn lucky I can’t have you arrested and sent to Azkaban. Unfortunately, being stupid is not a crime here.”
Many of the members of the council were scandalized that Harry would show such utter disrespect to the minister. The remainder, agreed wholeheartedly.
The council deliberated for all of seven minutes. Most were more concerned for their own positions than actually seeing justice done, and though the seats were their families’ legacies, there was nothing to ensure they’d remain alive to hold them. Their fear of Voldemort and his Death Eaters was outweighed at the moment, by their fear of being dragged out into the street and hanged by the wizarding population of Britain, for sheer incompetence!
Amelia literally handed Fudge his hat, as he left the courtroom.
Due to her hard-won reputation of absolute incorruptibility, her dedication to the impartial administration of the law, not to mention their carefully constructed plots, Augusta Longbottom, Chief of the Wizengamot, (pro-tem), named Amelia Bones, over her artfully emoted protests, as interim Minister of Magic until a full quorum of the Wizengamot could make it official. Fortunately, the entire council was present. Harry stood up and using his three seats, forced the vote.
Albus was horrified! He hadn’t counted on such swift actions! Instead of one of the many pawns he had in reserve, Harry had forced the vote for Bones! He had no way of controlling Amelia Bones! She was untouchable!
Augusta called a fifteen-minute break, ostensibly to allow the wizards of the council to refresh themselves, but in reality to allow Harry time to convince those sitting on the council, of their loyalties. Not a single councilor left.
Harry had learned hard lessons and learned them well. While Dumbledore intruded, interfered and generally made a pest of himself, trying to coerce him into dropping his plans and returning to his prison, Harry simply ignored the old meddler, called on the ancient rules of sequester, and spoke quietly to quite a few of the members, reaffirming their oaths to his lines, and then telling them why he thought Amelia should be Minister. He left out a few things, but the vote was taken and to nobody’s surprise, Amelia Susan Bones became the Minister of Magic.
Harry muttered just loudly enough to be heard: “Finally, a Minister with a brain!”
Subtle chuckles sounded throughout the room. Most there had despised Fudge, pureblood or not, for his bombastic nature and his overt corruption.
That Dumbledore was positively incandescent with rage, was gravy.
Amelia immediately announced she would select a proxy for her seat. Harry could see the greed flare in the eyes of so many members of the body. Each of them would seek to inveigle her into naming him or her to her vacant seat. None of them knew that she’d already selected Augusta to vote her proxy…for the very same reasons he had.
Once elected, Bones proved to have some nasty surprises in store. As her first official act as Minister, she announced that all members of the British wizarding government, from Wizengamot on down, would be thoroughly interrogated under Veritaserum and before an independent committee consisting of members of each of the non-involved departments of the ministry, as well as lay people who’d been conscripted for the task. Leanings toward the pureblood ideals was tolerable, however, acting on those leanings, or supporting, the Death Eaters or Voldemort himself, in any form, would be prosecuted.
This action met with severe resistance from the members of the Wizengamot. As purebloods, they had always been exempted from most of the laws that governed the ‘lesser peoples’ of the wizarding world…including questioning under the serum. They thought that with an old-family pureblood in the Minister’s office, that they would remain under the same ‘pureblood exemptions’ as always. They were wrong.
Unfortunately, as they had just voted her into office based upon her unwavering dedication to the law, there was little they could do to her. She was far too savvy a politician to be taken in by subterfuge, and far too capable an Auror to be ‘eliminated’ as was shown by the recent defeat of the Death Eater attack force sent to her home.
It was noted in the Prophet the next morning that she did not exempt herself from this requirement.
That headline would be eclipsed by another.
As soon as Amelia had made her announcement, a pureblood and recently inducted Death Eater named Harcourt Flymmins jumped to his feet, screaming: “Avada Kedavra!”
He’d been instructed to assassinate the next minister or proposed minister, by the dark lord himself. Voldemort felt, rightly enough, that the resultant panic would be enough to petrify the council long enough to place one of his minions in the minister’s seat. Lucius Malfoy came to mind, as he only one of his servants fit for the position.
The vibrant green curse flashed across the room only to be met with an equally vibrant shaft of shimmering emerald light, as Harry’s weapon surged to life. Screams sounded and people dived for cover, as the deflected curse ricocheted into a wall, blowing a rather sizable hole in the stone. Harry ran three steps forward and performed the most incredible leaping somersault they had ever seen! He alit directly before Flymmins. A swift slash and Flymmins fell to the tiles, screaming in agony, as his hand thumped down next to him. The energy weapon hissed, as if in protest, as he shut it down and returned it to his belt.
Harry lifted the wand and hand with the force, and floated them to Shacklebolt. “I’d say here is your first subject for interrogation. Do your job right, and don’t let any interfering old men get in the way!”
Shacklebolt flushed as much as his complexion would allow, but nodded his head.
Albus Dumbledore was horrified. Potter was not only refusing to follow his lead, but also leading others to do the same thing. Worse, he’d just used that magical sword to maim a pureblood without batting an eye. That said pureblood had just tried to murder Amelia Bones meant less than nothing to him.
Had Harry gone the way of Tom Riddle?
Albus was certain of it.
When the wailing Flymmins had been removed from the chamber, Amelia introduced her second reform…she established the first ever, ‘Home for Magical Orphans’ which welcomed the children of all of the fallen, regardless their blood status or their parent’s affiliation. When the councilors began to complain about the cost, Harry announced that he would be financing the home. At the flash of gold in their eyes, he added: “And I’ll be having Gringotts, along with Chapman and Associates, oversee its administration.” Many on the council shuddered at that. They knew of that law firm, and were loathe to challenge them…in anything.
Following the meeting, Harry once again ignored Dumbledore’s attempts to coerce him into returning to the now-unknown headquarters, and accompanied Augusta to her home. Neville had already departed.
There he found an irritated Neville waiting. Still wobbling from the trip through the floo, he wasn’t expecting what happened next.
“Hullo, Nev…” Neville’s fist caught him across the face. Harry tumbled to the tiles, and looked up with an aching jaw.
“Why the hell didn’t you tell us you’d killed Bellatrix Lestrange?” Neville bellowed. Madam Longbottom swiftly bound her grandson and forced him into a chair.
Helping the shocked Harry to his feet, she spoke: “While I do not condone Neville’s actions, I share his curiosity. Why didn’t you tell us you’d destroyed our worst nightmare?”
“Oh god! I’m sorry! I didn’t realize.” Harry gripped his jaw and wriggled it experimentally. “Listen. When I went to help Amelia, she was facing a couple dozen robes with white masks. There really wasn’t any way of telling them, one from the other. As far as I was concerned, they were all Death Eaters. I jumped into a group of ‘em, and sliced off some heads. After that it was a melee. As soon as the survivors pulled out, we stunned and bound those that weren’t dead, then went to my place. Amelia had to go to the Ministry and I had a face-off with Dumbledore.”
“Only you, Harry!” Neville chuckled. “Only you could kill off the second most feared terrorist in the world, and consider it nothing more than a job.”
“Neville, if killing her off, will help destroy Voldemort, then it’s all good. That she’s your personal enemy is only gravy. Friends?”
“Always!” Neville struggled until Augusta released the binding charm. He stood and offered his hands. Harry shook it, then frowned. He held onto Neville’s hand and leaned into the force.
Seconds followed with an increasingly nervous Neville holding Harry’s hand, until Harry moved.
“Neville, there’s something off about you.”
“You don’t have to tell me that Harry.” Neville snapped, irritated. “I know I’m not very powerful and I’m…”
“No, Neville. That’s not it. You’re every bit as powerful as I am…well maybe not quite, but you’re a damn powerful wizard. Your core is just surging with magic, but there’s like a…a heavy…blanket around it, that only lets a little of it through. Your father’s wand wasn’t helping any, but even with this new one…” Harry had a sudden, ugly thought. He closed his eyes and peered deeper into the force, before announcing: “Neville, someone has bound your core.”
Dead silence followed.
Augusta broke it in a furious hiss. “That is not funny in the slightest, Lord Gryffindor.”
“No it’s not.” Harry replied darkly. “I’d suggest having Neville checked over by someone you trust, for blocks or bindings.”
“There really are bindings?” Augusta was horrified. Binding someone’s magic was only done in the case of overly powerful children, by their parents, but those binds were meant to allow the child to grow used to magic, and would dissolve in time. Any other case was the most evil of social insults. It meant the person being bound was incapable of properly using the magic at their disposal.
“I believe so.”
“Who do you suspect?”
“Actually, I’m almost certain I know. The magic is familiar. It’s just like the bindings I had around my own core. Those bindings were placed by Albus Toodamnmanynames Dumbledore!”
“Albus?” Augusta thought that after the last few weeks, nothing Dumbledore could do would surprise her, and here, once again, he found something that could.
“Neville, you were born only a day before me. Just after that fiasco at the DoM, Dumbledore told me the prophecy could have applied to either of us. It was only Voldemort’s choosing to kill me first that ended up with my parents being killed and yours…worse. What’s odd is that your parents were attacked five days after mine. If they were also under Fidelus, who told them it was safe to come out? More, who let the Lestrange’s know that they were coming out?
“Albus.” Augusta whispered.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Albus told me to tell Franklin and Alice it was safe to come out from under Fidelus. I don’t know how the Lestrange’s knew where they were, or that they were no longer protected, but it was Albus who told me they could safely return to the wizarding world.” Augusta was more than bitter.
“It’s my guess, he had Snape tell them.” Harry returned. “After all, he had his ‘Chosen One’.” He held up air quotes. “He wanted me raised by abusers. That’s why Sirius ended up in prison without a trial, and likely why your parents were attacked. I don’t know for certain, but I suspect your parents were on the list of people to raise me.”
Somehow, neither Neville nor Augusta seemed surprised in the least. Furious, yes, but not surprised.
“They were.” Augusta confirmed Harry’s guess. “James and Franklin were the best of friends...nearly as close as with Sirius Black. They trusted each other with their own lives. Both made plans that should anything happened to either, the other would be included in their list of alternate guardians for you and Neville.”
“Since Neville survived the attack, it’s my guess that Dumbledore bound his power in case he needed a spare Boy Who Lived.”
“Safe.” Augusta hissed. “That’s what he said. They were safe. And all along, he was pulling strings from the shadows.”
“So what do we do about it?” Harry asked. Augusta shook her head to clear the painful memories.
“First, we must see how Neville’s core has been blocked. That’s the most important thing. If he’s to fulfill his pledge to you, he must be at his full potential. Dumbledore is the most powerful wizard I know of. He is also a most accomplished politician. He can find a loophole in anything. He won’t be easy to deal with.”
“Considering he wrote so many of the laws, is that any surprise?” Harry returned with a wry grimace. “Besides, that’s what I hired Carolyn for. But that’s for later. Just now, we need to have Neville checked for blocks and compulsions. Do you know anyone who can do that?” Harry asked.
“My great uncle Algie. He has a herbalry that produces most of the plant-based potions ingredients in Britain.” Neville supplied. “He’s really smart, and well versed in medical techniques, and he can keep things quiet.”
“He also works in the Department of Mysteries.” Augusta added. “The herbalry is his cover.” Normally she would never consider telling either of these two young men but they would both need to know. Neville gawped at her revelation, but Harry seemed to have known already. Augusta was a little put off by that.
“Alright. Why don’t you contact him, and see what he has to say. When the binding is removed, I’d like to have you run some tests.
“What tests?” Neville wanted to know. Harry unbelted his lightsaber and thumbed it to life.
“I’ll want to see if you can touch the force.” Harry replied, shutting the weapon down.
Neville eagerly reached forward having seen what Harry had done with the energy blade, but Harry held up his hand. “Not just yet, Neville. Let’s get those bindings off first. That way we can see if the result is you, or something else. K?”
Neville was disappointed, but could see Harry’s reasoning. After all, even if he couldn’t touch this ‘force’, he’d still be free of the bindings that had fettered him for all of his life.
“Let me know when you’re free of the bindings and I’ll come back.” Harry instructed them. “Just now, I have a rather urgent appointment.” Harry stood to excuse himself.
“Would that ‘urgent appointment’ be with a certain bushy-haired bookworm?” Neville snarked.
“Neville!” Augusta tried to sound disapproving but she’d heard all about that bookworm in question and thought she would make a good foil for Harry. She was far too outspoken for Neville. He needed a woman who was strong, but more easygoing, to mesh with his unassuming nature. Fortunately, he’d been showing an interest in both the Abbot girl and the youngest Weasley, though Ginevra shared Miss Granger’s dominant traits.
She would have to think on this.
Harry told them where Sanctuary could be found, then they made their good-byes and he departed by floo.
Hermione’s enthusiastic welcome, and her ‘reward’ ensured that neither of them had dinner that evening.
Outside the village of Little Hangleton, in a large house on a hill…a house that once would have been described as ‘grand’ but now was closer to ‘decrepit’, a man-like creature with more than a touch of reptile in it’s makeup, gripped its head, moaning in agony.
“Potter!” Voldemort hissed.
The next morning, Dobby woke Harry with a cuppa and handed him the paper. The headline read:
NEW MINISTER FACES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
By: Allie Goric
In an entirely expected turn of events, Minister Cornelius Fudge, was ousted from his position by a vote of no confidence. This ouster was brought forth by the very visible return of the dark lord, ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’ on the 18th last month. Despite Fudge’s vehement insistence that the dark lord was long dead, he seen by nearly sixty Aurors and other ministry employees in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic early that June morning, battling Albus Dumbledore, (at the time, deposed head of the Wizengamot)
Potter provided quite a number of rather incriminating pensieve memories to support his blatant persecution of our minister. He even managed to show how Cedric Diggory, son of Amos Diggory, head of the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, died, though his method was cruel and unnecessarily theatrical.
Albus Dumbledore seems to agree. He told The Prophet in an interview: “It is well known that memories cannot be falsified without obvious signs of such, we must therefore assume, these memories are real - as - young - Harry - sees - them.”
He further points out: “It is also well known that the insane can provide what appear to be perfectly reasonable memories as long as they believe those memories. At this point, we must consider Harry’s potential mental state, in any decisions we make.”
Potter’s ‘memory’ of the rebirth of the dark lord only seems to bear this out, being a grotesque and horrifying scene out of the darkest of fantasies. This, followed closely by his ridiculous assertion that Lucius Malfoy, long known to be a very pillar of the pureblood community, was in fact a willing and avid Death Eater, and his accusation toward Pureblood Delores Umbridge of using occamy quills, a class three dark item, to torture students while in her positions as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, and later, Headmistress Pro-tem, would all tend to prove he needs shock treatments at St. Mungo’s.
When asked for a statement regarding the reasons behind his ouster, Fudge said only that he had been targeted by the enemies of Wizarding Britain, and would return to his rightful position when the population saw reason.
Following his dismissal, Amelia Bones was named to the position interim, but in an unexpected twist, Lord Harry James Potter once again claimed the center of attention and forced the vote to make her interim appointment permanent, by calling upon his authority as head of three houses. Yes, that is correct. It appears that our insane Boy Who Lived, is also the head of not two, as expected, but three noble and ancient houses, one of them being the Most Noble and Most Ancient House of Godric Gryffindor.
Lord Potter forced the vote, and though Minister Bones denies it, Albus Dumbledore has implied that Potter had threatened other members of the Wizengamot, with curses and the like, should they not vote as he wanted, in order to elect her minister.
None of the other members have corroborated his statement, but that could be because the powerful young wizard terrifies them.
You may ask why ‘terrifies’ is an appropriate word.
To answer, according to eyewitnesses, Harcourt Flymmins, pureblood, and now ‘suspected’ Death Eater, apparently cast the killing curse at Madam Bones. Says Salacious Bosch, pureblood and junior member of the council: “We heard ‘Avada Kedavra’ from behind us, and saw the curse flying over our heads. Potter pulled out a glowing magical sword that I’m quite certain could only have been the result of very dark magicks. Its blade was the same color of the killing curse, after all. Potter deflected the curse into a wall…again something that is widely known to be impossible, and then flew…yes, flew across the room, like he had invisible wings. He landed right in front of poor Harcourt and sliced off his hand! I don’t know about others, but that terrifies me!”
Have we got a new dark lord rising?
Once again, Albus Dumbledore appears to feel so. Says he: “Young Harry must return to my guidance, that I may keep him from straying even further into the dark. Only through my efforts can he remain true to the ideals I have espoused my entire life.”
It is The Daily Prophet’s fervent wish that Harry Potter listen to the guidance of the much wiser Albus Dumbledore, and avoid becoming the very thing his mother and father died to protect him from...
Harry’s snarled curse woke Hermione.
“What’s the matter baby?” She asked in a sleep-filled voice.
“Dumbledore.” He handed her the paper. Hermione was as outraged as he, first over the slant the paper had taken and then the ham-handed attempt to make him feel guilty for his parents’ deaths.
“Dumbledore must be getting desperate to try something like this.” She soothed. “Don’t worry, luv. As soon as he reads the notice from Gringotts, I have the feeling he’s going to have more important things to think about. Should be fun to watch, anyway.”
She bussed him soundly and toddled off to the loo.
Graswold’s reply arrived by owl. Dobby brought them trays in bed and handed him the letter.
Your previous instructions have been carried out and doubt
has been placed where you wanted it. I must say the thought
was brilliant! Dursley will have some explaining to do.
Harry chuckled: “Yes, he certainly will.”
Harry called for Dobby. Immediately the faithful elf reappeared. Before he could announce himself, Harry asked: “Dobby, how would you like to help me get some revenge on the Dursleys?”
That was precisely the right thing to say. Dobby nodded so rapidly it looked like his head was going to come off!
“We’re going to need to plant some evidence at Grunnings. First, I need a copy of their sales accounts for the last fifteen years…”
“What are you up to, Harry?” Hermione had returned from the loo and slipped back into the bed beside him.
“Remember when I told you I was going to get revenge on the Dursleys?”
“Mmmhmmm” She mumbled into his neck. Harry shivered in lust, then forced himself to continue.
“Well this is the second step. On the eighth, Death Eaters burned down their house. Thanks for having me send them to Spain, by the way. When I woke yesterday morning, I had an idea. I sent a suggestion to Graswold that he plant some evidence, that the fire might not have been an accident. This note tells me the evidence has been successfully placed.
Today, Dobby and I are going to add some ‘interesting’ bookkeeping details to the sales accounts at his work, and create a money trail through his accounts at Barclays, the B of E and a numbered account in the Channel Islands, and later on this week, if they haven’t taken any action on their own, we’re going to set something in motion in the Department of Inland Revenue and Taxation. After all, I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been declaring the fourty galleons he’s been getting every month from my vaults. Let’s see, at an exchange rate of 1G to 19.17£ times twelve times fifteen, well that’s…”
“One hundred thirty eight thousand, twenty four pounds.” Hermione answered immediately.
“Just so. I’d imagine the people at IRT would be rather put out to learn he hasn’t been declaring that much money.”
“Ooh, Harry! You are positively evil!” Hermione’s grin went from astonished/happy to downright lecherous. “You need a reward!”
She slipped under the covers and proceeded to ‘reward’ him well.
Dobby fled the room.
In Little Hangleton, the snakelike Dark lord woke to another splitting headache. He groaned again: “Don’t they ever stop?”
Five hundred miles to the north, in the great hall of Hogwarts School, Albus Dumbledore spat out his tea again, making the house-elves very happy.
Dumbledore gasped in shock at the word.
“An AUDIT!?!” His bellow rang throughout the empty corridors.
He rushed through the hallways to the gargoyle and gasped out the password: "Snickers!” The gargoyle remained where it was.
“Snickers!” He called louder. Still the stone guardian remained.
Finally, he bellowed: “Snickers, damn you! Snickers!”
This time the gargoyle did leap to one side.
Casting a filthy glare at his stone creation, he stormed up the steps, even before they could turn all the way to the top.
Below him, Dobby appeared and removed the muting charm from the Gargoyle’s ears.
In his office, Dumbledore flung a pinch of floo powder into the flames and hurled himself through with a: “Gringotts Bank!”
Eight levels below, Severus Snape stared at the box in his dungeon office. Albus had had him out locating certain ingredients of a decidedly dark nature to create a binding potion for the Potter brat. When he’d returned, the box had been there.
He’d checked it for traps and curses, of course, but found nothing. He opened it. Inside were a pile of broken wands and under them, neatly folded black robes…robes he was well familiar with. in the pocket of each robe was a bone white mask. There were nine wands, nine robes and nine masks. Nott and eight recruits had gone missing, on a mission to kidnap the mudblood and kill her parents, and nothing the dark lord could do would get them to respond to their summons. Voldemort had been more than furious!
He’d stumbled back in horror. Not only had someone breached the security around the castle, that somebody knew he was a Death Eater!
Now, Severus was faced with a quandary…several, in fact. Did he tell his lord, of the box’s delivery? Did he dare? Voldemort was completely insane. He knew that as well as anybody that had suffered under the master’s Cruciatus. The dark lord would react badly to the information. But Snape was a faithful Death Eater. Before her death earlier that month, Bellatrix had insinuated more than once, a lack of fealty on his part, but like the few who went to Azkaban, rather than forsake their master, Severus had been the most loyal of all.
Upon his lord’s downfall, he’d placed himself in the unenviable position of teaching potions for the muggle loving fool…culling all but those few who could be trusted…those of the proper breeding and mind-set, to serve the Dark Lord, and had provided not less than one hundred new, properly indoctrinated recruits over the past fifteen years, for the master’s use.
Another problem he had was that Dumbledore was almost certainly aware of the box’s presence in his quarters. Should he tell him? Did he dare? Dumbledore might decide to use the robes to infiltrate the master’s hidden lair.
Lastly, what of the ministry? The one who sent the box, is most certainly aware that he was a Death Eater, but had he told the ministry? With Bones now in command, his tenure at Hogwarts was at hazard…at best. At worst, he could be hauled off to Azkaban any minute, and…” Now, he shuddered. “…thrown into Sirius Black’s old cell!
Almost any other fate would be preferable.
Dumbledore spun to a stop in the atrium of the goblin’s bank. Immediately four guards armed with razor sharp halberds surrounded him.
“You will come with us, Wizard. Any move to use your wand will result in your hand being removed.”
Shocked at the abrupt treatment, Dumbledore complied. He was marched, covered in soot, through the busy lobby to a boardroom, where a gnarled old goblin with a missing eye and half an ear waited. Dumbledore thought he should know this particular goblin, but just couldn’t place him.
Graswold had been waiting for this day for decades. He’d long disliked the self-important wizard. While most believed his twinkly-eyed rhetoric, the goblin nation was not so easily taken in. The council of the worthy had become aware of his bigoted machinations over the past hundred years, and when he’d entered politics, they’d seen his manipulations, to reduce he magical world to three tiers. Purebloods, other wizards and witches, and then everybody else. Even his sacred one, Fawkes, had deserted him. The dwarves of Switzerland had reported seeing Fawkes nesting in the mountains there. The nest he was building was not nearly large enough to hold and protect his ashes from the winds, which meant the phoenix was preparing to return to the magicks, which spawned him.
~Such a waste!~ He thought.
Before the aged wizard, could begin to bluster, Graswold spoke in his gravelly voice.
“Albus Dumbledore, due to certain irregularities in the dealings of certain orphans under your control your vaults have been selected for audit.”
“What irregularities?” Albus demanded.
“To start with, the non-consensual guardianships of Harry Potter, Tabitha Stephans, Kevin Reilly, John Daily, Wilma Dearing, Luigi Gaetano, Robert Bruce, Ian McDermod, Marla McGivvins, Diane Latimer, Robert Boma, Denise Marshall, Marcus Xander, Molly O’Brien, Jackson Roykirk, Aloysius Taylor, Tom Riddle Jr., Angus Donniedark, Thomas Leighton, Lenore Karidian, Archon Chaotis, Cassius Zoolandere, Zigfried Royye…”
“Some of those are decades old!” Dumbledore interrupted. What did it matter to the goblins, that he’d placed these pawns were where he had?
“Time makes no difference. You have been mismanaging these guardianships, for at least eighty years. You have on at least seven occasions placed the orphan in question in abusive homes, three of which died at the hands of their abusers. You have been ‘misappropriating’ funds for their care and upkeep. In five instances, the orphans from whom you have stolen and are continuing to steal, have been dead for between three and thirty years. You have been hiding these details from Gringotts, for decades. This is unacceptable. Our charter is to provide the equable and unbiased banking for all persons, no matter who or what species. The laws you have written, have relegated all magical peoples except humans, to the outer ranks, without the means to recover their positions in society. If they cannot bank, we cannot fulfill our charter.”
“So this is for revenge of some sort. I assure you, I can fight these charges, and as Chief of the Wizengamot, I will have the banks charter revoked for all of Britain! As Supreme Mugwump Of the International Confederation of Wizards, I can have each and every Goblin in the world…sanctioned!”
“Aah, but you fail to understand, Dumbledore. Your position is based upon your political wherewithal and your political power is based upon your gold. We have your gold and you will not recover it until our…perfectly legal and reasonable audit…is complete. After all, we must be seen as fair to all people. Don’t worry though, there are thirteen other major vaults being audited at this time.”
“You must stop this! I am the leader of the light! There is a war coming and I must be able to win it! It is for the greater good!”
“It is done. Notice has already been filed.”
“No!” Dumbledore screamed. He grabbed for his wand, just as everything went painfully black. The last thing he heard was a familiar voice muttering: “Stupefy!”
Dumbledore fell to the red and gold carpet. Above him stood an angry Arthur Weasley holding a beater’s bat.
Graswold laughed long and hard, before inviting Arthur to join him in some tea.
Dobby reminded Harry of his promise to return to Potter Castle to bind the remaining elves. Harry and Hermione finally got out of their much-tossed bed and dressed. A quick breakfast, and they flooed to Potter castle where they were greeted by the hurrah's of more than four dozen house elves.
Harry squatted on a low hassock to allow him to look each of his new friends in the eyes. He smiled at each one as he asked them if they would take his bond. As each did, they handed him their token…usually the item of clothing that had freed them in the first place.
As he spoke the ritual accepting each new elf into his family, the now-familiar silvery light flared and the elf was bonded to him. It took several hours, and it was rather draining, even for someone of his raw power. Lunch followed and then a more in-depth tour of the castle and surrounds. By the end of the day, Harry was exhausted. Instead of flooing to Grimmauld, the elves insisted they both stay overnight at the castle. Dobby brought a note to Hermione’s parents and returned to the castle with Hedwig on his arm.
Harry and Hermione both made the snowy owl most welcome with soft coos of love and much gentle stroking.
Albus Dumbledore woke that evening in the hospital wing, with a splitting headache and the sure knowledge that his plans were being derailed by an outside influence. He decided then and there, that the interference would end, even if it meant the death of the unknown outsider!
A letter on his bedside table told him that Gringotts would be happy to advance him the sum of thirty galleons per month at the ‘very reasonable rate’ of three hundred percent…compounded weekly.
Snape came to a decision. Since the master was sure to kill, or at least torture, the messenger, he would have to find another messenger. Thinking if all the people he knew deserved the master’s rage, he settled on his old friend…Lucius Malfoy. Using a ‘quick Quotes’ quill, he dictated a message.
“My lord, Lucius.
These are all that remain of Nott and his detail. I’m sure
you know better than I how to use them to our ends.
Sealing the box, he used a spell he’d discovered during his Hogwarts years, to eliminate any traces of his magical signature. It was illegal as hell…and had helped him immensely when he was setting up ambushes and the like, for those blasted Marauders. Done that, he burned the quill.
Carefully slipping through ten castle, he mounted his broom at the front door, and flew with the box to the front gate, where he disapparated to a post-owl office he knew of.
Dobby watched from the ramparts as Snape vanished. Popping down a few floors, he found Peeves writing filthy words on the mirrors on one of the girl’s bathrooms, he had a quick discussion with the poltergeist about including Snape in his pogrom of mischief, before handing the over a box of Filibuster’s never wet, ever light, fireworks.
Dobby popped back to his master’s side.
Harry woke on the 18th, in the one place he most loved to be. Hermione was snoring softly in his ear, her arms wrapped around him. He’d never felt so good before! He smirked before shaking his sweetheart and yelling: “Wake up, Hermione! It’s time for class!”
Hermione’s eyes flashed open. “Oh my god, I have transfiguration today and then herbology and potions! Oh that essay wasn’t long enough! Snape’s going to mark me down”
“Calm down, Hermione. It’s the summer holidays!” Harry tried to soothe his distraught girlfriend.
She turned sparkling eyes to him and giggled: “I know. I just wondered if you did!”
“Ooh! Little minx! Tickle war!” He set to tickling her. Hermione shrieked and tried to squirm away, but Harry had had years of practice being the target and was easily able to anticipate her attempts to escape.
Knowing at last that she wasn’t’ going to escape, Hermione turned her own fingers to attack, and Harry learned that payback is a bitch.
Dobby entered the room to find two exhausted and completely tickled out teens lying on the bed.
“If you is quite finished, you is both expected in the dining room for breakfast.” He turned and left.
“Harry?” Hermione asked.
“Did Dobby sound…well…‘snooty’ to you?”
“He certainly did. I wonder what brought that about?”
Dressing they ventured down the stairs to the ground floor, where the parlor waited. There they found a room filled with half-sized people, all wearing uniforms, the males in overalls, or pants and shirts, and the females wore dresses. Each had the Potter, Black and Gryffindor crests embroidered on them.
Dobby stepped forward and announced: “Dobby takes great pleasure in presenting the Potter family house elves. We is all happy to be bonded to the noble houses of Master Harry Potter. We is at your service and is waiting for instructions.”
Harry was shocked, but Hermione was in her element. “All right. Who has what skills?”
At the bedlam that resulted, they both had to cover their ears. Harry took charge. Waving for silence, he began again.
“Let’s try this again. Who has medical skills?”
Five elves lifted their hands.
“Good, over here.” He pointed to a spot on the edge of the room. “Now, who has cooking and kitchen skills?” All the hands went up.
“Crap. OK, let’s hold off cooking for later. Who has experience in handling livestock?” A dozen hands. He directed them to another area. Those with gardening or greenhouse skills went to still another place. By the time he’d finished, he had groups of elves to handle medical, kitchen, housekeeping, yard tending, forestry management, livestock handling, farming and even a couple familiar with construction. Finally he asked: “Who has experience in creating, or modifying fine jewelry or precious metals?” Nine elves raised their hands. Some from each of the first few groups. He called them to a small spot near his seat.
He spoke to each group, selected one as foreman who would answer to Dobby, and left instructions to include any elves who came to the castle seeking sanctuary into the appropriate groups.
Those that could handle jewelry were tested for an affinity to the force. Of the nine, six were selected. It seemed that Harry’s assumption had been correct; while some species were more or less force sensitive than others, it appeared to be on an individual basis.
He explained very carefully how he needed specific crystals made and what they were for, and he’d be teaching Dobby how. Dobby would then share the knowledge with them. Those who could not touch the force were still vitally important. While only those who were force sensitive, could actually make the stones, any competent elf with jewelers experience could cut, shape and polish them.
He selected a spot near the center of the castle, where the ley lines converged, asked Dobby to bring the forge and the remaining materials from the basement of Number twelve, and when the elf had reappeared with the heavy device, began to assemble nine more. With Hermione’s help, and as soon as he’d learned how, Dobby’s, they had the conical forges completed by the end of the day.
The decided to leave the elves to themselves and returned to Grimmauld place.
19th July, 9:00 AM, Grimmauld place.
Hermione had slept over and Harry was just now feeding her strawberries, dipped in chocolate cream. Whenever the dark bits of cream would drip, he’d kiss her skin clean.
During their…meal, a letter arrived, carried by the regal looking Longbottom owl. Harry fed the bird some bacon and water before opening the note.
You were right. My core has been bound for the past
fifteen years. Great Uncle Algie and his friends, removed
the bindings yesterday and it hurt like fire! I need a new
wand now. My first spell burnt the core out of the other
one! Uncle Algie says that since I had to fight through
both the bindings and the mismatched core of my dad’s
wand, that actually made my core stronger. When it was
released, it was just too much, even for the new one.
Gran can’t stop crying, she’s so happy.
Come over when you have a chance. Gran and I both
want to thank you personally.
Harry smiled in satisfaction. He decided to go to the Longbottom’s place that morning.
“Alright, lazybones. We’re going to visit Neville today. If you want to come with, get out of bed.” He stood and headed for the loo.
Inside the shower, he felt the air shift around him as Hermione joined him. Once again, they explored every square inch of the other, and got surprisingly clean in the doing.
Freshly groomed, Harry threw some floo powder into the flames, and stuck his head through calling out: “Longbottom Manor!”
Augusta was waiting. “Aah, Lord Gryffindor! Please come through.”
“May I bring a friend?”
“Oh. Please! By all means, do!” Neville had told her a great deal about the brilliant girl, but she still had yet to meet her.
One after the other, they stepped into the green flames, whirling through the system to arrive, in Harry’s case on the floor, at the Longbottom’s home.
“You’re just like your father. He never got the hang of floo travel either.” Augusta greeted him with a chuckle.
“Lessons, perhaps?” He growled, setting off another spate of laughter.
Hermione stepped over him to offer her hand to Madam Longbottom, leaving Harry to pick himself up. “No, don’t bother with me.” He groused. “I can handle it.” Neville brushed him off. He could see both Hermione and Augusta were snickering.
“I’d use magic to do this, but given my new power level, I’d likely blast you apart.”
“Congratulations, Neville. That’s one less obstacle to overcome.” At Neville’s glare, he added: “Don’t worry, mate. He’ll get what’s coming…I guarantee it!”
Neville did not seem convinced, but Harry pulled out his lightsaber and handed it to the other boy.
“In the meantime, I want you to try to turn this on. Hold it here…” He showed Neville how to grip the weapon, and went on.
Now point it away from you…not toward me, toward the wall. OK. Now, press the black switch.”
With a snap-hiss, the energy weapon surged to life. Hermione immediately squealed and began to explain to Augusta.
“Neville can touch the force!” She held out her own, brand new lightsaber and carefully pointing it away, thumbed it to life. Her golden blade contrasted with Harry’s emerald one.
Harry had his friends shut down the weapons, retrieved his own, and asked them all to sit.
“Madam Longbottom, you recall of course, that I asked Neville to stand by my side?”
“By being able to activate this weapon, Neville has demonstrated his ability to touch the force. I’ve already told you the prophecy could have applied to either Neville, or myself. Now, I’ll tell you what the prophecy says…and what it actually is.
Harry carefully repeated the prophecy word for word. It was only his calm grip on her hands that kept Hermione from rushing to the library. When he finished, he added: “And the entire thing is all so much worthless tripe!”
“What do you mean, Harry?” Hermione interrupted. “Even if we don’t believe in prophesy, this one sounds like it could be true. There are several parts that have already been fulfilled…”
“Hermione…” Harry interrupted. “This ‘prophecy’ was carefully constructed by an expert in psychological manipulation, to appear to be genuine. What it really is, is nothing more than the made up words of an over-controlling old madman, who wants to rule the world.”
“Hermione, Dumbledore made up the whole thing. He knew Voldemort believed in prophesy and so he created one that was certain to attract him. He knew Snape was the Death Eater spying on him and gave him just enough to tickle Tom’s interest before sending him off to his master. The problem is, Voldemort did believe, and by acting on it, he made what was a false prophesy into a real one. By attacking me on that night, he actually fulfilled the prophecy, too. He marked me as his equal. My mother, and probably my father too, did something that gave me a power he didn’t know, and I vanquished him. It never said he’d stay vanquished. Now, unfortunately, he’s made it personal. Since he sees his defeat, at what he thinks are my hands, as insulting, he has to prove to his bullyboys that he’s the better man…so to speak. As long as I’m alive, he’ll keep coming for me. In the end it’s going to be him or me, and I intend to make sure it’s me.
“And the Jedi?”
“He’s going to surround himself with Death Eaters. They’ll be the Jedi’s job. You lot will deal with the Deez, while I handle that mutated bastard. Once I’m done with him, I’ll join you and we’ll eliminate the rest of them for good.”
“Lord Gryffindor…Harry…” Augusta interrupted. Harry’s last utterance was worrying. “Eliminate? Not capture?”
“Madam Longbottom, arresting them would do absolutely no good. Look what happened the last time. Half the current crop of Death Eaters are the same ones who bribed Bagnold and claimed ‘Imperius’. The support base Voldemort uses is the very same bunch of people Grindelwald used, and before him, Rasputin. As long as the money and the ideals are there, we…the wizarding world, that is, will be facing a new dark lord every twenty to thirty years. If we as a society are to advance beyond the seventeen hundreds, this must end now.”
“But to kill them…” Augusta was aghast. So many of the dark lord's supporters were purebloods of antiquity.
It was Neville who answered her.
“Gran you recall when I was eight, I caught my hand on some dragon’s breath?”
“I do. You could have died.”
“That’s right. What would have happened if you had gotten ‘almost’ all the infection out?”
“It would have taken root again.” Suddenly Augusta gasped: “Oh dear!” as she saw what both Harry and Neville were saying. She said what she’d told her grandson so many years before.
“No matter how much it hurts, all the infection must be purged.” A tear rolled down her cheek.
“That’s right. If we are to look to the future, instead of being mired in the past, this infection must be purged. Completely. Madam Bones started this off, but it will be up to me and my Jedi, to finish the job.”
On the evening of the nineteenth, Dobby returned and told him that the castle had been cleaned top to bottom and resupplied for the expected one hundred people, the stockyard had been filled with animals and sufficient pasturage provided for each. The crops had been planted and the grounds were being tended at the moment. He also told Harry that he’d located another thirty-seven house elves needing a place to stay, including four he felt could touch the force.
“Good man. Have them come to me and I’ll bind them, then you can set them to work wherever they can be the most useful. We won’t need any more, elves, but if more come seeking sanctuary, you take them in and let me know, OK? I won’t see an elf die if I can help it. You can expect us to arrive in mid-to-late August.”
Dobby left, wailing about how wonderful and good and kind his master was.
A/N: I don’t know where I first read the idea that the Fidelus couldn’t guard a secret that was no longer true, but I thought t was a wonderful idea…so I stole it. If it’s your idea, let me know, and I’ll give you proper credit.
A placebo is a ‘magic pill’ that ‘cures all whut ail’s ye’. It’s a sugar pill designed mostly for hypochondriacs. Basically it’s an exercise in psychological influence. The doctor tells the patient that this pill is really, really powerful, and he/she really shouldn’t be handing them out, but it’s the only thing he knows of that would help cure the specific problem the patient has. An episode of MAS*H, when they were out of morphine, was a perfect demonstration.
‘Sanctioned’, is another of the many euphemisms for ‘killed’. (See: ‘The Eiger Sanction’ (Clint Eastwood, 1975) A very good movie.)
Those of you, who have noticed that Harry and Hermione are intimate quite frequently, don’t worry. It’s just the ‘I-Can’t-Keep-My-Hands-Off-You’ stage of their relationship. That it gives Voldemort a splitting headache, is a benefit they don’t know about.
Prophesy –v- prophecy: A prophecy is the result of the art of Prophesy. Both can be used interchangeably, but here I will refer to the art as prophesy and the utterance as prophecy.
The dragon’s breath infection: Back in ’83, while on patrol with my fire-team in Beirut, I was stabbed (among other things) by someone who really didn’t like America. After we’d killed the lot of them, being the tough guys we all were, we sealed the wound with duct tape. Yeah, we were tough. In the hospital, some five days later, with my knee in a cast, my ribs taped up, and a bandage over my right eye where Mr. I-hate-America’s partner managed to stab me with a dagger, (he missed my right eye by a quarter inch), the doctor told me they would have to re-open the wound on my left arm, and clean it out, because it had gone septic. It turned out that that Lebanese soldier had dipped his blade in goat shit. For some stupid reason, I had to be awake for that. I wish I hadn’t been so tough. An injury that should have taken a maximum of three weeks to heal, took nearly four months. Thirty years later, it still aches. Yeah, we were tough.