Harry is properly threatened by Mackenzie Granger, get's a surprise, Gives Voldy a headache, and begins to teach Hermione how to use a lightsaber. Voldemort is having a bad day and the goblins s...
When he felt human enough, Dobby handed him an embossed envelope bearing a royal purple wax seal with the crest of House Windsor on it.
Inside was a simple white card, with the words: “What has been done, has been done for the good of France, and under my hand. Richelieu.”
Harry laughed outright! The Queen had agreed!
A quick shower followed, but at breakfast, Harry’s good day was spoilt by the Daily Prophet’s headlines:
DEATH EATERS ESCAPE AZKABAN.
Truth be told, he’d expected it before then. Given the mass break-out of the year previous, Voldemort wasn’t one to allow his senior people to languish in prison when they could be out causing mayhem. Fortunately the casualties were light. Only seven Aurors were killed. To Harry that was seven too many, but as wartime casualties went it was light. For the first time, wished he had the connection back to full power, headaches and all. At least this time Fudge wasn’t there to foist blame onto Sirius’ back. Madam Bones informed the reporters that she’d made arrangements with several nations to ensure Britain had sufficient Aurors available, and ordered a search for the escapees. If they were caught, they would be force-fed Veritaserum until they’d spilled their entire life’s story and then, they would be sent through the veil.
Finishing his breakfast, he decided.
It was time to begin recruiting.
Dressing, and having had his breakfast, Harry apparated to the ministry in disguise. He handed Eric his wand to weigh, while ‘inducing’ him to forget he was ever there.
A flick of his finger and the slip of parchment lifted itself from the spike and into his hand. He incinerated it and headed to the lifts.
Stepping off the lift on level two, he removed his glamour and cloaked himself in the force, finding it easier to do each time he tried.
Down the hall and to the right was the closet sized office, where Arthur Weasley and Mortimer Perkins worked. Mortimer was just returning from the loo when Harry approached him from behind, leaned into the force, and whispered: “You’re thirsty. Why not go to the tearoom for a cuppa? And bring some back for Arthur. Take your time.”
Perkins repeated his instructions and toddled off while Harry eased his way into the cramped office.
Arthur looked up. Seeing nothing, he returned his attention to his parchment he was reading.
Harry dropped the cloak and said: “Hullo, Mister Weasley.”
No sooner than he’d begun to speak, than Arthur displayed the skill that had made him such a feared man in decades past. His wand was up and the incantation on his lips just as Harry snatched the shaft from his fingers with the force and stuck it to the ceiling, at the same time keeping Arthur where he was.
“Whoa! Good reactions there!” He added: “Relax, Mister Weasley. I’m not here to harm you. In fact, I need to speak to you.”
“Harry?” Arthur yelped, still in an adrenalin rush. “What are you doing here?”
“I said, I need to speak to you.”
“Will you return my wand?”
“Are you gonna hex me?”
“No. You startled me.”
“Here you go, then.” Harry released his hold on the wand and it floated down easily. Arthur looked like he wanted to stun Harry but having seen his display in the parlor of 12 Grimmauld, he knew that he was no match for the young warrior.
“What can I do for you, Harry?”
“I intend to form a cadre of Jedi to help me destroy Voldemort and his followers.”
“Harry, don’t you think you should leave this to Dumbledore? I know he’s done you wrong, but this is too big for a young man with no experience.”
“Mr. Weasley, are you familiar with the contents of the prophecy you almost died guarding last year?”
“No. Albus said it was too dangerous for…”
“For anybody but Albus Dumbledore to know.” Harry interrupted. “Mr. Weasley, can you imagine how much simpler it would have been to just bring me to the Department of Mysteries, and retrieve the bloody thing, listen to it and then smash it? Bode wouldn’t be dead, and Podmore wouldn’t have gone to Azkaban, and you wouldn’t have been bitten seven times by a bloody great snake.”
Arthur’s eyes narrowed at Broderick’s needless death and Sturgis hadn’t done well since his release from the dreaded prison.
“You almost died protecting something that needed no protection. First off, it wasn’t real. Second, it’s already been fulfilled. It was fulfilled on the night my parents died.”
“What do you mean?”
“The one with the power to vanquish the dark lord approaches…Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…And the dark lord shall mark him as his equal, but he will have power the dark lord knows not…And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…” Harry intoned.
“As I told Professor McGonagall, Dumbledore needed a weapon to use against Voldemort, because he knew he wasn’t powerful enough to beat him by himself. So when the divination professor retired, and he began to interview for a new one, he knew he’d found the opportunity he needed. Why do you think he didn’t hold the interview in his well-warded office…in the ‘safest place in Britain’? Especially during a time of war.
Instead he met Trelawney in, the Hogs-head Inn. There are more criminals and lowlifes there, than in Knockturn Alley. He made up that stupid prophecy, and then Imperius’d Trelawney into speaking it loudly enough to be heard trough the flimsy excuses they have for doors, there. Dumbledore knew Snape was an active Death Eater at the time. He also knew Snape’s assignment was to keep an eye…or ear, as the case may be, on him. He allowed Snape to ‘overhear’ just enough of the ‘prophecy’ to tempt Voldemort before having his brother Aberforth kick him out. You’d been an Unspeakable until you were captured and tortured the year before that, so I ask you: Why didn’t he have a marked Death Eater, caught in the act of espionage, at least held and interrogated?”
“How did you know that?” Arthur was instantly taut as a violin string. Nobody knew of his former occupation! Until recently, not even his family knew that!
“Relax, mister Weasley. Fawkes told me a couple years ago. We’d sometimes chat in school. He’s a good man…erm, bird. He told me because he sees Dumbledore becoming the very thing he claims to be fighting.” Again, Arthur was reminded of the potential power in this young man. Many had claimed him to be the next Dumbledore, though he saw Harry as being something far greater. He relaxed a little.
Harry continued. “As I was saying, instead of arresting Snape, he arranged for the spy to deliver the story to Voldemort. Snape had no reason to disbelieve what he’d heard, and so, Voldemort believed it as well. Voldemort ordered Snape to insinuate himself into Dumbledore’s good graces and become a member of the resistance. He was to spy for Voldemort while pretending to spy for Dumbledore.
“Snape was the spy?” Arthur asked. In his thoughts he was rapidly working out he connections. Unfortunately, Harry’s words made perfect sense.
“Precisely. Every order member who’s died since 1976, has died because of that hook-nosed grease-ball…including Molly’s brothers. More, Dumbledore knew it, and that doesn’t bother him at all. Not one single, bloody jot!”
Harry paused, took a breath and resumed his narration.
“Unfortunately, though he derides divination, Voldemort believes in prophesy. Dumbledore knew that as well, and so, he set him up. What’s more, he set my parents up. When Voldemort came after me, he set this whole thing into motion. He turned what was a false prophesy, into one that was both real, and self-fulfilling. Dumbledore expected the entire line of Potters to die in order to eliminate a weapon he, himself created, to destroy Grindelwald.
Worse, he knew the prophecy was fulfilled that night. Voldemort killed my parents and tried to kill me. He marked me as his equal…” Harry pointed to his scar. “But the power he knew shit about, removed him from his body and that, vanquished him. The prophecy never said for how long…it - just - said - ‘vanquish’. His body was destroyed and so that next part was fulfilled as well. He died.
Now, somehow, he managed to tie his spirit, or soul, or katra, or whatever you want to call it, to this earth. I think it was the diary Lucius Malfoy gave Ginny. When I stabbed the diary with the basilisk fang, the shade of Tom Riddle was screaming in agony. He acted like he was being burned from the inside out. Now that the diary is gone, I think he can be destroyed completely. His current body is nothing but a magical construct. On the other hand, it could have been me. I recall a fierce, burning…pulling sensation when he touched me at his little birthday party, last year, and again when he tried to possess me at the ministry in June. It hurt so bad I just wanted to die. I suspect that my wanting to be with mum, dad and Sirius, was part of what broke the ‘whatever it was’ and freed me, because I can’t really feel him like I used to. I still have the dreams…or visions, or whatever they are, on occasion, but they’re a lot weaker then they were before. Still, I feel safe in assuming it was something else that kicked Ol’ Snakey out of my head.
If I somehow did tie him to life, I believe that tie is broken. On the other hand, even if he can’t be killed outright, he can be ‘re-vanquished’ as many times as necessary to get it right.”
Arthur Weasley was a calm, even-tempered man, who found it far better to let others underestimate him. That had served him well as an Unspeakable. Molly was the screamer. She let the world know when she wasn’t happy and woe betide anyone who failed to notice ‘Mount Molly’ about to erupt. Arthur preferred to think things through. It was just this sort of passive attitude that kept him here in the ‘Misuse’ office, but as the pay was only slightly less than that of one of the more visible offices, and he truly enjoyed what he did, he had no complaints. He had a large, reasonably happy family. His children were clothed in homemade, and sometimes second hand things, yes, but they were clothed, and clothed warmly. Their tuition to Hogwarts was paid in full and the Burrow was clear of any debt. The farm provided the food they ate and some for trading, and for the most part, life was good. They didn’t have many of the really flashy things that other kids had, but he’d grown up without them as well, and he’d never suffered for their want.
Here, he’d just been told that the man his children so despised, was in fact, a willing participant in the horrific crimes, including his own capture and torture at the hands of Bellatrix and ‘the psycho brothers’
He would have to think seriously on this.
“Why are you here?” He asked. “Albus has been pushing the idea that you are the next Dark Lord rising.”
“Yeah, I read the article. Actually, I expected something of the sort. He wants to regain control over me, and if he has to lie a bit to do it, well, what’s a few lies between friends, eh? Actually, given that I intend to bring the war to Voldemort, he may not be far off the mark.
“Harry!” He sputtered. “You wouldn’t become a …”
“Mister Weasley…” Harry interrupted. “I swear I will never intentionally become a dark lord. I will do my utmost to avoid stepping down the dark path at all…” A silvery light flared around him. Arthur’s eyes widened as he saw the oath confirmed. “…but I cannot and will not refrain from using what some people might call ‘dark’ methods, if it will destroy that monster and his followers…and they must be destroyed completely. There will be no quarter, and no attempts at redemption. There will be no endless second chances. They will be given one chance to surrender. If they do, I will have their magic bound permanently and they will spend the rest of their lives in Azkaban. If they refuse, they will die….each and every one of them.”
“Mister Weasley…” Harry interrupted again. “Every one of his followers are guilty of at least torture, rape and murder, That’s actually how they ‘earn the right’…” Harry made air-quotes. “…to be branded like cattle, and I intend to ensure they are suitably punished for those crimes, if nothing else.”
“And where do you get the warrant to decide how to punish them?” Arthur was both angry that Harry would take the law into his own hands and at the same time, more than concerned that he’d allow it to turn him dark. The amount of power the boy carried could be disastrous!
“That would be from the Queen.” Harry replied with a knowing smile.
“The Queen. We had a lovely chat not long ago, and I explained exactly what was going on in wizarding Britain under the guise of secrecy…and before you lay into me about the Statute of Secrecy, as the monarch of this nation she is already well aware of the magical world. Like I do, she believes that statute is one of the main reasons Voldemort, and Grindelwald before him, and Rasputin before him, were able to do so much damage. If not for the Statute, and if not for Dumbledore’s offensive program of ignoring the victims and protecting the guilty, in the name of redemption, Voldemort would have been a bad memory and little else!”
Most people thought that Arthur Weasley was an addled fool, who thought too much of muggles. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, he was a highly intelligent wizard, with a huge knowledge of the underside of the world and a combat acumen to drool over. He also had an intense curiosity of the rest of the world around him. He knew he was being asked to make a stand here and he’d seen….and felt, for himself, the dangers of placing too much faith in Albus Dumbledore.
“What do you need?”
Harry smiled. “As I said, I’m forming a cadre of Jedi to destroy Voldy and the Voldettes. I’m going to send letters to all those I think are able to use the force and see if they are willing to put off their schooling for a year. In that year, I will train them extensively in the use of the force and in lightsaber combat. When they’re ready, I will take the best of them and finally go and eliminate this particular group of pests.”
“And you want my children to join you?”
“Actually no. I would prefer to go this alone, but I know that’s not practical, or even possible. Voldemort has more than two hundred Death Eaters, and is gaining, and there’s only me, and a few others. I’ll need at least twenty.”
“How are you going to select them?” Arthur asked.
Harry unclipped his lightsaber and set it on the desk.
“With this. I’m going to hand this to each one of them and ask them to turn it on. If they can touch the force, it will light, if not, it won’t. It’s simple as that. I’ll also interview them, ask them some interesting questions, and have them perform some even more unusual tests. If they pass all that, I’ll probe their thoughts and see if they can be trusted. If they can, then…and only then, I will ask them to join me. If they agree, I’ll temporarily remove that knowledge for security reasons, until we assemble, and then I’ll reintroduce them to the force.”
“What about their schooling?”
“I’ll take care of that. Minister Bones has assured me that should they survive the battle, and it’s a very good chance they will, they will be allowed to return to Hogwarts, to continue their schooling. If, for some reason, the sitting headmaster or mistress objects, I will personally finance their education to the NEWT level, ensure they take and pass their exams and I’ll even help to position them for good, solid and well paying jobs. Those who elect to continue in their Jedi training will be welcome at the academy.”
“I take it you’re looking at Ron and Ginny?”
“And Fred and George. I think they all have the talent. As a matter of fact, I think your whole family does.”
“Him too, but he’s too dedicated to the ministry. If somebody told him that what I was doing was bad for the ministry, he’d move mountains to stop me. There are also too many of Voldemort’s supporters in the ministry.”
“I agree. Charlie, Bill?”
“I don’t know them well enough. And even if I did, they’re needed where they are. Bill is in Tunisia with Henry Jones, searching for something, and Charlie is running a breeding programme for a new strain of dragons that hopefully will get along better with humans.”
“Molly’s not going to like it.”
“I know.” Harry sighed. “I truly hate to ask this, but that’s where you come in.”
“Mr. Weasley, who is the head of the Weasley household?”
Suddenly Arthur understood what Harry was saying.
“You want me to okay this so she can’t object. Do you realize what you’re asking?”
“Yes sir. I do. I’m asking you to allow your children to help me, to destroy the most dangerous psychopath this world has seen in centuries.”
“Harry, Molly will be furious! I’ll have to sleep on the couch for months!”
“Mr. Weasley, I had to sleep in a boot cupboard under the stairs for ten years!” Harry shot back. Arthur was stunned as thoroughly as if someone had hit him with a stupefy.
“What?” He gasped.
“Oh yes. You recall what I told you at #12? About how I died? That was in my second bedroom…or more to the point, it was Dudley’s second bedroom. Until I turned eleven, I was forced to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs. My first Hogwarts letter was even addressed: ‘Mr. H Potter, The - Cupboard - Under - The - Stairs.”
“Yes.” Harry’s word was quiet, and at the same time, it was as loud as the crack of a gun. His next words were even more damning. “Dumbledore knew all about it. As I told you at the station, he knew and he ignored it until I was severely enough damaged to require his personal intervention. He’d come along and repair the damage and hand me right back to that miserable ball of fat. He wanted a pliable weapon who would blindly follow his orders and never think for himself. When I died, that all came to a screeching halt. Now, I have the knowledge and the financial and political bases to eliminate Voldemort forever. I intend to do just that. And then I’m going to deal with the ‘other’ dark lord.”
Arthur came to a decision. To the Weasley patriarch, child abuse, or even neglect, was anathema to the world. That Albus could condone or abet such abuse made him absolutely furious. Until he discovered the behavioral compulsions the old man had placed on him and likely his entire family, he had thought Harry’s words were rather fanciful. On the other hand, Harry had taken an oath of verity that day. That oath should have lost him his magic. It had not.
“Alright, Harry. How can I help?”
“Keep Molly off their backs. She can’t keep them children forever.”
“As much as I hate it, I have to agree with you. In fact, I believe that’s why my eldest, have all gone to other countries. While she is a fine wife and mother, and I love her to bits, she can be a bit overbearing.”
“Mr. Weasley, Molly, is the first person to ever make me feel like family, and she never asked anything for it. While Dumbledore diverted some gold her way, she probably thought that gold came from him. She’s the second person I can recall ever giving me a hug…the first being Hermione, of course. Her biggest problems are her trust in Dumbledore, though I can see that’s no longer so true, and her refusal to allow her family to be killed off like her brothers were. The second is good, the first, not so much, but she has to understand that we are in a war. A war against vicious animals with absolutely no morals. These people are criminal terrorists, and simply being the rather vocal supporter of Albus Dumbledore that she is…or was, she’s already been marked by the Deez. If I lose, they will be coming after her.”
“Where will you be?”
“I can’t tell you. We need to train where we can’t be found or disturbed. So I’ve chosen one of my properties, and had it placed under Fidelus, with a good friend of mine as secret keeper.
This training is to take precedence over all other things for the next year.
They will be allowed to communicate, though the letters will be censored and the mail will be delivered through the most secure method I know of. In the event Dumbledore…or anybody else tries to place a tracking charm on the mail, any such charm will be transferred to the nearest object in the room before the letter is removed. This sounds harsh, but it’s absolutely necessary for security concerns. I cannot allow him to interfere with this. He’d try to hobble me in the name of ‘the greater good’. Since I can tell you’re a decent Occlumens, I want you to try to keep Dumbledore out of your head as well.”
“Decent Occlumens? Harry, I’ll have you know…”
“Mollywobbles.” Harry said quietly. He smirked as Arthur flushed bright red. He could actually see the shield in Arthur’s head firming up.
“That’s better. Now I’d have to struggle to get through them.”
Arthur flushed for the second time. This young man had easily waltzed right through his usual shields without trying, and he hadn't even felt the intrusion. Algie would be appalled!
After making a promise to himself to rebuild his own shields while he practiced with the kids, he changed the subject.
“And my children?”
“I swear I will do everything I can to prepare them for this.” The silver flashed again.
Returning to 12 Grimmauld Place, Harry carefully went through the names of people known to him, then asked Hermione, Neville, Luna and Susan for suggestions. All of them were unanimous. Tonks was brilliant at dueling, and Remus was the best Defense teacher they ever had. Harry disagreed, thinking of Barty Crouch Jr. Sure, the Death Eater had tried to kill him, and had been responsible for Cedric’s death, but Harry felt he had learned more from the impostor. He kept that to himself though. Since both Remus and Tonks already knew of Harry’s situation and his rather unique solution, they should be in on the bottom floor. Hermione mentioned that the same should be said for the twins, but Harry wasn’t about to push his luck that far!
Tonks was already in the kitchen, and Remus was at his little cot near Hogsmeade. When they filled her in and Harry and Hermione both showed her their functioning lightsabers, she wanted to join immediately. Harry handed her his weapon and told her to aim it away from them and turn it on. Tonks squealed as the blade flashed to life. She rushed to the floo and ordered Remus to drop whatever he was doing and get his arse to Grimmauld right then.
An anxious and unfortunately rather wet and soapy Remus Lupin spun through the fire clad only in a towel, and emerged wand at the ready. Seeing as there were no Death Eaters, he bellowed: “All right! Who’s bloody great idea was this?”
Tonks snickered, and shot back: “Mine, but I didn’t think I’d get the full Monty!”
Remus snarled and sent a dozen silent stingers her way. Harry’s blade was lit in an instant as he intercepted each and every one of them, sending them right back. Remus yelped as the first few hit and then tried to evade.
It was a wet, soapy, and very sore Remus Lupin who finally agreed to listen. Harry asked Dobby for a robe, and one appeared before he could finish the request. He handed it to Remus and they sat at the table. Winky served them some tea.
Harry explained what he was setting up, and Remus had seen for himself the speed and uncanny accuracy Harry had shown. He, like so many others had joined the Order to do something and like several others, he was more than frustrated at Dumbledore’s refusal to take any decisive action. Like Harry, he felt Dumbledore was simply playing games, like a four year old playing with tin soldiers…and with less concern as to their fate.
“So, what can I do?”
“Take this.” Harry handed over the energy weapon. “Point it up, and touch the black switch.”
As she had mere minutes before, Tonks squealed as the emerald shaft of energy speared straight up from Remus’ hand.
“Good.” said Harry with satisfaction. He’d felt through the force that Remus would be a good candidate, but knew that Remus had to see it for himself. “Remus, I formally invite you to join my little insurrection, and actually do something for a change. Whaddya say?”
Gaping at the humming blade of energy, he’d only ever seen before at the cinema, Remus whispered: “I’m in.”
Shakes from the group and a hard kiss from Tonks followed. Remus shut down the blade and handed the weapon back to Harry, who belted it before sitting.
“Go upstairs and finish your shower while we get dinner on the table. We can discuss the what’s and wherefore’s then.
Tonks was about to follow him up the stairs when Harry held her with the force. “Tonks, if you go up there to scrub his back, the two of you won’t be down until tomorrow. You go to Remus’ place and turn off the water.”
Tonks grew pink, and shot him a filthy look, but held her tongue. She departed through the floo to return a few minutes later.
Dinner was a lively time, with all the combatants joining in. Even Dobby and Winky had something to say. Winky wasn’t too pleased about Dobby’s intention to follow Harry into battle, but he refused to stay behind, stubbornly insisting his place was with his master. Hermione tried to defuse the situation by saying: “Winky, maybe you can come along with us too.”
At Winky’s puzzled look, she handed over her lightsaber and asked the little elf to turn it on. Harry had already learned through the force that Winky couldn’t touch the mystical energy field.
Winky thumbed the switch. Nothing happened. She tried again, but the weapon remained inert.
Winky looked like she might cry until Harry told her: “Winky, I figure only one in ten thousand people on this planet, are magical, and only one in ten or twenty magical beings can touch the force. It just so happens that Dobby can. It’s just the way it works out. Of the seventy-six elves bonded to me, I think only nine or ten can touch the force. That’s on the high side, but I assume some people are more force sensitive than others. Still, I’ll be needing you in other roles. Each of you will help to defeat Voldemort. I promise you, nobody will be left out.”
Relieved that she would at least be with her mate, and with her bonded master, Winky let it drop.
That evening, Harry sent owls to Ron, Ginny, Fred and George, Lee Jordan, Lavender, Parvati and Padma and Hannah. He also contacted Oliver Wood, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, and Katie Bell. These were people he knew he could trust and so, would form the core of his Jedi.
They all agreed immediately, as did Ernie, Seamus, and Dean.
Sorting out the letters, Hermione and Susan also recommended he invite Tracy Davis, Daphne Greengrass, and Blaise Zabini, as the Davis’s were proud of their status as halfbloods, seeing it as having feet in both worlds, they didn’t fit the ‘requirements’ of Voldemort’s recruiting campaign. While some of them agreed with his aims, the head of that family thought Voldemort was nothing more than a psychotic terrorist.
Alas, Tracy was one who agreed with the blood purist’s and tried to join, but when Harry probed her thoughts, he discovered her intention to betray any such group to Voldemort, in exchange for an increase to ‘pureblood’ status for herself and her family, under his reign. He removed her memories of the meeting and had Dobby find and eliminate all references thereof.
Daphne agreed immediately, which was odd, as the Greengrass family was traditionally neutral. She explained her decision by saying: “Sitting on a fence only gets you an arse filled with splinters”.
Blaise Zabini refused outright, claiming the dark lord would wipe out all mudbloods. Despite his own ancestry, he turned out to be as bigoted as Malfoy, as did Malcolm Baddock and so, Harry Obliviated them as well, and again had Dobby and his friends seek out all references to Harry’s group.
When they arrived, Oliver, the twins and Angelina all recommended he talk to Penny Clearwater of Ravenclaw, and Adrian Pucey, Terrence Higgs and James Montague, all of Slytherin house.
Penny was due to start a study of native magics under the famous American master, Jeremy Iron Cloud, in the Dakota region of the US.
Surprisingly Pucey and Higgs, both half bloods, agreed to join. Montegue was left behind though, as he’d sworn bloody vengeance against Gred and Forge for stuffing him into that blasted cabinet, before they’d left at the end of the previous year and Harry knew that that kind of antipathy would only lead to major trouble.
Lee Jordan suggested Steven Capper of Slytherin, but he declined, saying he was taking a holiday…in Antarctica…for the remainder of the war…or his life…whichever came first. Penny mentioned Roger Davies, but quite honestly, Harry didn’t like the arrogant bastard.
He didn’t even bother to ask Draco, or Pansy Parkinson, knowing their viewpoint already, nor did he invite Nott or Draco’s bookends. Having Death Eaters in his group was just begging for trouble. Millicent Bulstrode, on the other hand, was willing to join, and had the requisite ability to touch the force, but when he invaded her thoughts, he found that Millicent was only out for herself. Eddie Carmichael, Zachariahs Smith, Michael Corner and Ritchie Coote were the same. Each of their families stood to gain no matter who won…if they played their cards right, and a trained Jedi with no allegiance was as dangerous as any dark lord. Again he carefully erased their memories of the meetings and left them alone.
He had to reject and obliviate Cho, because while she was able to use the force, she was less interested in defeating Voldemort than she was in getting Harry into her knickers. His newfound moniker, ‘The Chosen One’, turned her on intensely. That he was head of three fabulously wealthy houses wasn’t bad either.
Like Draco and his cronies, her friend Marietta, wasn’t even considered.
Miles Bletchley was a sadistic bastard, and after seeing his thoughts, Harry rejected him. Obliviating him of the meeting, he implanted a very strong compulsion to Surrender himself to the authorities. After all, a violent rapist was no one to have running about loose…especially not one who could hide his crimes.
This was also another strike against Dumbledore. The wards around the castle would have warned him of Bletchley’s predations, but he had apparently ignored them.
As a group Hermione, Ginny, Susan, Luna, Daphne, Hannah, Padma and Parvati suggested Su Li, Sara Moon, Lisa Turpin, Morag McDougal, Mandy Brocklehurst,
Justin, Stephen Cornfoot, Terry Boot, Sally Ann Perks, Anthony Goldstein, Kevin Entwhistle, Ernie Macmillan, Wayne Hopkins, and Megan Jones, of their year.
Of Ginny’s year, there were Colin Creevy, Anna and Anika Montgomery, Kenneth McMichael, Roan Stewart, Charlotte Bestler and Malcolm Cadwaller,
From the year after, they sought out, Derek Chambers, Darlene Hyatt, Michael Swanson, Paul Neller, James Farrington, Liam O’Lorcain, Dwight Hindley and Dora Carey, Astoria Greengrass, and Romilda Vane.
Finally, they included Stewart Ackerly, Colin’s brother Dennis, Laura Madley, Natalie McDonald, Jimmy Peakes, Graham Prichard, Owen Cauldwell, Emma Dobbs, Orla Quirke, and Kevin Whitby of the class two years behind her.
Hermione was reluctant to include someone so young, but Harry pointed out that Voldemort made no distinctions as to age, and as mugglebornes and half-bloods, and even moderate purebloods, they would be instant targets in any case
Harry specifically targeted the mugglebornes and halfbloods for his recruitment program, though he didn’t leave any of the purebloods he knew out. He told each of them he was planning to start a major offensive against Voldemort in the near future. If they were interested, he’d schedule another appointment.
Over the next three weeks, each of them would have an in-depth interview and testing process. Yoda’s knowledge had provided the tests, and Harry had used them. When he had his core group, he contacted other possibles, testing them unobtrusively to see if any of them could be his Jedi. He found several more, a few of which agreed with Voldemort’s agenda. Those, he left behind.
At nine thirty that evening, Lucius Malfoy stood on shaky legs before his master. While he was exceedingly grateful the dark lord had freed him from Azkaban, he knew that there would be a price to pay. With Voldemort, there was always a price!
He was right. As soon as he was properly bathed and dressed he’d been summoned.
“Lucius…my…faithful servant. My trusted right hand. I received a rather surprising present several days ago. Indeed, I had you removed from Azkaban because I couldn’t believe what I had received.” He stared hard at Lucius, then continued. “Would you like to guess?”
Lucius was nobody’s fool, but he could only stammer: “My Lord…I can…I cannot even fathom a guess.”
Voldemort rewarded his servant’s honesty with his favorite curse. Lucius, Malfoy, epitome of the purebloods, pillar of the community, screamed and writhed like a mere muggle under his master’s wand.
He almost held it too long. He broke off the contact mere seconds before the damage would have reduced Lucius to the intelligence level of Crabbe or Goyle.
“I found this!” He bent over Lucius’ shuddering frame and thrust a slip of parchment under his nose.
These are all that remain of Nott and his detail. I’m sure
you know what to do with them.
Lucius gaped in horror. He knew that if he showed any sign of duplicity, the dark Lord would kill him.
“My lord,” He gasped in agony. “I…have no…no idea…what this is. If you…have the slightest…doubt…doubt…of my loyalty, please…enter my…thoughts. I shall drop…even my…most… most basic shields.”
Voldemort was astonished. None of his servants had ever offered him unfettered entrance into his mind before. Even his spy Severus, always kept something back. Nevertheless he was not one to pass up such an opportunity.
He had his minions drag Lucius to a seat, and sat across from him. Lucius nodded his head weakly, and said: “I await your entrance.”
Tom peered deeply into Lucius’ thoughts. Checking each and every one he could find. There was no duplicity there. Graft, subversion, even corruption, but he was telling the truth.
“Very well. Narcissa. You may keep your husband. Remove him and see that he is healed. I shall have need of him, soon.”
Narcissa looking nothing like the cultured pureblood, rushed forward in her ebony robes and with a flick of her wand, levitated her brutalized husband from the room.
Voldemort pondered this latest mystery. Who would dare to eliminate his servants and then have to sheer audacity to send their robes to him? Dumbledore most certainly wouldn’t have, he had this ridiculous abhorrence to killing. The ministry was no longer under his control with the measured Bones had passed. He’d need to see about a second attempt at assassination. His first try had cost him twenty-eight of fourty servants dead or captured, and most of the rest wounded. Those captured had been questioned under Veritaserum, and then sent to Azkaban. Unfortunately of the seven sent, none were worth recovering. Only two mid-level servants, and the others were initiates. What had hurt him the most was that his most vicious enforcer had died. Bellatrix was nothing if not insane, but she was very, very good at her job.
Voldemort sighed. He would miss his faithful attack dog.
Those who had survived had faced his wrath and now, he was in need of another thirty-three Death Eaters.
He left them behind when he liberated his inner circle.
He dismissed his troops and returned to his chambers. He felt a migraine coming on.
~Damn you Potter! Leave the girl alone!~
Voldemort woke the next morning, with a blinding headache. He’d had the brilliant idea of intimidating the Goblins into following him. Thus far they had rejected his every advance…every offer, now, that would no longer be tolerated! Now they would follow him or they would suffer! He was well aware that until his servants’ moneys were returned to his control, he had little way of proceeding in his war of conquest. Lucius was forever saying it took money to conquer the world. His lieutenant was an aristocratic snob, but he knew his finances.
Amycus, Alecto!” Instantly two of his more psychotic servants knelt before him. “Take ten of my Death Eaters and go to Gringotts. Kill anyone in the lobby and present my demands to that animal Graswold!” He handed over a rolled piece of parchment.
“As you will, my lord.” Both chanted in unison.
He signaled them to be off, then turned to his potions master. “Severus! A headache draught!”
“Instantly a phial appeared in his hand.
“Potter?” Snape asked. He was well aware of the cause of his master’s pain.
“Seven times, Severus! All through the night!” Voldemort tossed back the nasty potion with a shudder. He could swear Snape made them taste that way on purpose!
Harry woke with his love tucked in to his side. He smiled warmly, recalling their repeated lovemaking the previous evening.
He nudged her and gently called: “Hermione.”
Hermione stirred and yawned. She smiled up at her lover and winced at some tender muscles.
Dobby appeared with tea and a phial of pain relief for them both.
“Winky says you is doing too much in bed at night. You is should not be wearing youselfs out!” He scolded. Both teens blushed and grinned.
After breakfast, Harry asked Hermione to dress in exercise clothing and join him in the training room. There, he began to instruct her in the basics of handling a lightsaber.
That afternoon, they apparated to the two-story fieldstone home in Crowley. Like the unfortunate Death Eater of several weeks prior, he chuckled at the incongruity of the address.
Mackenzie was waiting at the small glass topped iron table in the back garden, slowly and deliberately sharpening his combat knife.
They sat, Harry, somewhat nervously, the steady ‘snikkkt, snikkkt, snikkkt’, was the only sound, as Mackenzie drew the stone across the wickedly sharp blade.
Finally Hermione had had enough. “Daddy! Would you put that stupid knife away? Mother and I discussed this and we decided I’m old enough to make this kind of choice for myself!”
“No, Hermione. It’s all right. He has about twenty more seconds of threatening knife sharpening to go, before he starts to growl about me deflowering his baby.” Harry interrupted. Hermione looked at her lover and then at her father.
“I’m afraid so, sweetheart. It’s in the ‘Overprotective Father’s Guidebook’.” Mack grinned. He shot a look at Harry but for the most part, he settled down. Judith chuckled at Hermione’s sigh of exasperation.
“Harry…” Mackenzie slipped the blade into his sheathe and set it aside. “How can I properly threaten a young man who can turn me into a newt? I also understand you have a functioning lightsaber, and know how to use it.”
“I do.” Harry handed the weapon over to the older man who examined it critically.
“Nice workmanship.” He turned it to the side and thumbed it on. Nobody was more startled than he, when the blade surged to life, and it was only Harry’s quick action that kept Crookshanks from being burned…or worse, by the blade. The ugly Kneasle mix let out a howl of terror, and fled the room.
“I need a drink.” Came from the stunned Mackenzie.
He explained his fascination with Japanese movies, specifically those of Kurosawa, and to a lesser extent, Clavell’s works. He showed Harry his Katanas and other bladed implements.
Then Harry had a bright idea. He asked Hermione if Her father could borrow her weapon, and then offered the man a chance to use a weapon that to him only existed in the cinema.
Needless to say, Mackenzie accepted the offer with resounding enthusiasm. Judith dashed away yelling: “Let me get my camera!”
Harry apparated them, one at a time, to Potter Castle, and then after a basic introductory course in handling a lightsaber, he turned down the power of each blade to a bare minimum and locked it there.
As good as Harry was, and he’d been practicing for over a month, Mackenzie had twenty years of experience. It was only his unfamiliarity with the weapon that kept him from overwhelming Harry. Still experience must overcome all.
All except the force. After Harry had been defeated four times, he began to call upon the force in battle. From then on, it was fierce, furious and blindingly fast. Mackenzie was hard-pressed to stay afloat, let alone prevail. Hermione and Judith were astounded by the display!
A thrust and flick and his blade went tumbling through the air. Before it had gone more than a few feet, Harry called it back and smiled a challenge.
Mackenzie accepted and once again, they were off. The battle didn’t last nearly as long this time, because Mackenzie was sweating and tired, while Harry was not. Again the lightsaber went flying. This time, Hermione stretched out her hand and called it to her. Shutting it down, she hooked it to her belt and stood there with fists braced on hips and legs akimbo.
Throughout the whole thing, Judith was snapping pictures as fast as Colin used to. “That was fabulous!” She gushed. “I wonder if I can have these developed, or if I’ll have to do it myself?”
In answer, Dobby popped into the clearing. “If Missus Grangers gives Dobby the films, Dobby will take them to Twiggy. Twiggy can have them ready in two hours.”
“Thank you, Dobby.” Harry said. “Can Twiggy do color film and can she make more than one set of prints?”
“Oh yes. Twiggy has done color, and she can make as many copies as Master Harry Potter wants!”
Harry groaned at his continued use of the word ‘Master’. Hermione chuckled and told Dobby: “Three copies of each, please.”
“Dobby will be back by dinnertime!” With that the elf vanished.
After Harry had returned them to Crowley, Mackenzie, said in a very stern voice: “I do hope that was enough for you young man. I don’t like to threaten my daughter’s boyfriends, but if you hurt her, I’ll be coming after you. I’m a dentist. Do you know how much pain I can inflict in a dentist’s chair?”
Harry chuckled and shook Mackenzie’s hand firmly. “Hermione means far too much to me. I won’t hurt her.”
Hermione announced she would be remaining home that night, but fully intended to continue her training in the morning.
She kissed Harry good-bye and he vanished silently.
On a scarp, nearly nine thousand feet above the ground, on the alp called Glärnissch, the wind blew hard and cold with a sharp keening. Fawkes likened it unto the sound of life, far below. He carefully wove the last twig into his nest, and settled himself. Now all that remained was the wait. He closed his eyes and prepared for death.
A soft pop, next to him opened his eyes. To his surprise, a familiar House-elf, named Dobby was standing there. Dobby knelt and bowed to the rock saying: “You must remain on this plain of life. You is still needed. Master Harry needs you to keep Albus Dumbleydore busy while he defeats the dark one.”
~Friend Dobby~ Fawkes thought to the elf. ~My time is done. My bondmate has never been as dedicated to the light, as once I thought. Alas, once the bond was formed, it could not be unformed. Since then, he as drifted farther and farther from the pure and has now, become that which he once claimed to contest. I have failed in my duty to keep him light. I cannot remain bound to such a dark being, and remain of the light myself. Even now, I feel myself growing colder in sprit.~
“Then slip your bond. Dobby did. They is so much yet to do. You can escape Dumbleydore and help to clean away the blackness.”
~I cannot. It is in the nature for a phoenix to remain with the bonded until that bonded dies. Alas, my bonded has taken steps to ensure he never does. Like his foe, he fears eternity. His lying and thievery have led to him drinking of the forbidden waters. So soon, he has forgotten the lessons Nicholas taught him. The stone was to have been destroyed. Nicholas discovered, as Emrys did so long ago, that life eternal is a burden, not a boon. In all my bondings, I have never been in one where I was so disappointed. Even now, Albus manipulates the world for his own amusement. If the young warrior succeeds against the dark one, Albus will seek to destroy him, claiming him the next dark lord, ascendant. If he fails, Albus will simply destroy the dark one he created, accept the accolades and allow the world to rest for a time, before beginning anew. I cannot be a party to that. If this is the true nature of man, then I do not wish to bond again. The only choice left to me is to sever the bond entirely and seek oneness with the magicks that spawned me.~
“If you cannot slip your bond, can you move it from one to another?”
Fawkes blinked. ~I do not know. I have never done so before.~
“I know of a young witch of such purity and light that you cannot hope but to wish to bond with her.”
~I know of this child. The one who sees the possibilities. Albus has clouded her mind many years agone, to keep the truth from being known.~
“Will you come with Dobby? Bespeak her? If you still wish to return to the magicks, Dobby will bring you back here.”
Carefully gathering the dying phoenix in his arms, Dobby popped away.
Luna was in her room at The Rookery, practicing her meditations when Dobby announced his presence. She smiled brightly and said: “Oh, good! You’ve found him!” She held out a blue baby blanket and Dobby carefully placed Fawkes into her arms.
Gathering the spent phoenix to her breast, and emanating feelings of love and comfort, she returned to her meditations, certain that if Fawkes needed anything, she would be made aware.
She knew time healed all wounds…this was no different.
Amycus was horrified. In all his years as Death Eater, he’d never been subject to such a devastating loss as today.
They’d begun by apparating onto Diagon Alley at the steps f the goblin bank. Two killing curses and the two animals at the doors fell. He and Alecto led the charge up the steps and into the bank, anticipating an easy victory.
Alas, that’s where things went wrong…so horribly wrong!
Instead of the screams and terror they’d expected, fully a hundred Goblins, armed to the teeth met them. The massive doors behind them slammed shut, with a resounding clang, and the battle was on…not that it was much of a battle. In less than a minute, all his fellows but Alecto were dead, most having been run through or beheaded…or worse.
Now he knelt in their blood, with a sharp blade pressed firmly to the back of his neck. One movement, even a twitch would see his head lying on the floor, like the rest of is crew.
Alecto was similarly held as the goblins methodically stripped all the wealth from the dead, piling the slaughtered minions onto a cart to be sent to the dragons, and packed their robes, masks and broken wands into a wooden crate. A pair of fleet appeared before Amycus’ eyes. A guttural command, and he felt his hair yanked back, forcing his head up. Staring at him with pure contempt, was the oldest, ugliest goblin he’d ever seen. It was missing an eye and had only a half an ear. It also carried a sword…red with freshly spilled blood.
“So…” It growled. “This is what the half-blood freak sends to threaten us? Faugh! Pathetic! Our mups are better trained before they earn their swords!”
“How dare…” Was all Alecto got our before a sharp point was digging into her throat.
“Silence, Human!” Graswold snarled. “You have invaded our territory and brought death as a gift. Why should you live?”
“The…the dark lord has a message for you!” Amycus stammered, cursing himself for his fear. Alecto looked at him in disgust, for his fear.
“A message?” The disgusting beast asked. “Show me!”
Amycus thought he could get in a quick shot. Even if he died, at least the animal before him would also be dead and the rest of the beasts would be in disarray. He reached into his robes, ostensibly seeking the scroll the Dark lord had given him. Instead he produced a spare wand.
Unfortunately Amycus hadn’t taken into consideration the ‘beast’s’ native intelligence. As soon as the shaft of wood was exposed, Graswold’s sword was in swing. A scream of agony and Amycus’ hand lay n the floor, the wand
“Stupid!” Graswold muttered, as he kicked the wand away. “Now, try again. I should tell you, you have one hand left and I have no compunctions about removing it as well.”
Holding his bleeding stump against his robes, Amycus fished out the scroll. He held it out for Graswold to take. Instead, he gestured to Alecto.
“Open it. If you live, read it.”
Alecto was suddenly frightened as well. She wouldn’t put it beyond her master to curse the scroll.
She reached out with trembling hands, took the roll of parchment and broke the seal.
She was right. A black mist surged out and enveloped her. She fell screaming to the marble floor, as the curse began to dissolve her skin. The scroll shouted out: “This is the fate of all who defy Lord Voldemort! Surrender now, or the rest of you will die!” before erupting in flame. Alecto’s shrieks faded as the curse killed her. Soon her body was nothing but charred bones.
A nod of his head and her skeletal remains were lifted by goblins wearing dragon hide, roughly folded and stuffed into the crate as well.
Graswold leaned very close to his prisoner.
With a foot, he shoved the box of robes into Amycus, and with a snap of his fingers, the Death Eater was gone.
Amycus found himself bleeding and in agony, on the floor of Voldemort’s throne room. All wands were trained on him and he knew it was only a matter of time, before someone got ‘itchy’.
“So, Amycus…” Voldemort sneered, noticing his servant’s missing hand. “It appears you have been…disarmed.” He chuckled quietly at his own joke.
Amycus scrambled to his knees and bowed his head to his master.
“Yes, my lord. I do not deserve to live.”
“No, you do not. But Lord Voldemort is a kind master. Hold out your hand.”
“Hold out your hand before you spill any more of your blood on my floor!”
Amycus did as ordered, and within a second, wore a silver hand like the one Wormtail had carried. Little did he knew that the magic that formed the hand was toxic to living flesh, and would slowly poison him over the next year or two. Peter had learned, but was powerless to stop his own execution, so he had told no one.
“Clear the room!” Voldemort ordered. Death Eaters fled like cockroaches.
When they were alone, Voldemort turned to his still kneeling minion.
“My lord, we apparated to the bank, killed the two animals outside and rushed the doors. They were waiting, my lord. Waiting with a thousand troops! We were overwhelmed instantly.”
Voldemort pondered, the statement.
“What is in the box? Where is Alecto?”
“My lord, the box…the animals stripped your Death Eaters and placed their robes, masks and wands into the box…Alecto is also in there.”
“Yes, my lord. The animal forced her to open your scroll. The curse you included, killed her most horribly.”
Now, the dark lord understood where the other box had come from.
“He is smart, this Graswold. I underestimated him. I shall not do so again.” he muttered. Turning to his minion, he spoke.
“You have failed me, but you have given me much to think about. Crucio!”
Since this defeat had garnered him some valuable intelligence, he ‘only’ tortured Amycus a little…hardly even two minutes, before he released him.
“Go! Get out of my sight!” He ordered. “I shall call you when I have need of you.”
He turned away to think as Amycus staggered from the room.
Joshuah Grunning was not a happy man. He’d discovered that most of his outstanding shares had been bought up by a single source. Inquiries had revealed he name of that one source as one ‘Lord Gryffindor’. Such things were par for the course in business, but he’d hoped to have avoided it. He’d built this company from a car-park business to the huge national it was. Third in all of Great Britain! Now, with this stock exchange, he could well be removed from his company entirely. More, he’d begun an audit for the new owner, in case the he wanted to make some changes. That audit had led to another discovery…one equally unpleasant. One of his key directors had been embezzling from him, and the news had hit him hard. He treated his employees like family, and to find that one of his family had betrayed him in such a base manner was just too much. Now, he expected this Lord Gryffindor to remove him from the company he’d spent so much of himself building. He’d been about to write out a notice of termination for Dursley, and contact the police when his intercom buzzed. He thumbed the reply switch, and said: “Go ahead, Sally.”
Sally DeVries had been with him since before the Grunnings was a company.
“Mister Grunning, there’s a young man here to see you.”
“Does he have an appointment?”
“No Sir, but I think you’ll want to see him. It’s Lord Gryffindor.”
Joshuah Grunning sighed in defeat.
“All right, send him in.”
The door opened immediately and a young man wearing a Savile Row suit, walked in accompanied by an equally well-dressed and very pretty, brunette.
“Good morning, Mister Grunning, I’m Harry Potter.”
“Potter?” He mused. “That name is familiar.”
“It should be, Joshuah.” Came a voice from the doorway. Grunning turned to the familiar voice. A worn looking man far older than his time, stood there. He was also well-dressed, but nothing as expensive as the young man. Still, he wore his suit with a grace and style rarely seen. “We gave you the money to start this company.”
“Remus?” He hadn’t seen Remus Lupin in such a long time. Not since… “Potter?” He asked, looking once more at the black haired youth. He could now see the uncanny resemblance to James, but with Lily’s eyes.
“Just so.” Remus stepped forward and held out his hand. Instead, Joshuah, drew him into a warm embrace. “Remus. It’s been too long!” He turned to the young man who now reminded him so much of James.
“I thought you’d been killed too!”
“A bit of treachery by someone who should have been looking out for me.” The boy replied, in a gravelly light baritone. No. Not a boy, this one. Like Remus, his eyes showed age far beyond his years. Joshuah wondered how such young men had gotten such old eyes.
“I take it you’re the mysterious Lord Gryffindor?”
“I am. It’s a hereditary title, but it is all too real. This is my very best friend and girlfriend, Hermione Granger.” Harry introduced Hermione. She smiled brightly and held out her hand with: “Mister Gunning.” Joshuah shook it and was surprised and pleased to find her grip was firm and steady, and surprisingly, calloused. No mere bit of decoration here!
“And this is my solicitor, Carolyn Chapman, of Chapman and Associates.” An older woman with flaxen hair and the look of a bulldog in her eyes, entered. This one he knew. Carolyn Chapman was one of the most feared solicitors in Britain. Joshuah, turned white.
Harry chuckled at his reaction, and added: “Relax, Mister Grunning. I have no intention of chucking you out. In fact, I have resources available that can improve your company’s standing in the business world.”
Nervous, but knowing Remus wouldn’t be party to anything that would cause harm to the company he himself helped to found, Joshuah gestured to the conversation circle.
“Please. Have a seat. Would you like tea, coffee?”
“Yes, please. This is going to take some time.”
“Joshuah thumbed the intercom and asked Sally to provide them some tea, coffee and nibbles.
As she was departing, Harry leaned into the force and implanted a suggestion to not listen in, as she was wont to do. Remus drew his wand and cast soundproofing wards around the room. Seeing this, Joshuah pulled the power cord from the intercom unit. He knew of Remus’ abilities and unlike some people had no problem with magic. He likened it to being an artist.
“Why such secrecy?” He asked.
Remus understood. “This discussion, absolutely must stay in this room. If Dumbledore catches wind of it, he can use it to regain control over Harry, and that would be disastrous. The wards I’ve just erected will prevent monitoring by magical means, and any listening charms will be rendered mute. There were two, by the way.”
Joshuah, didn’t know that, but knowing what Remus ands his friends had told him of Dumbledore, he wasn’t at all surprised.
“Mister Grunning.” the young lord began.
“Please Lord Gryffindor, you are now the majority shareholder in my company. Before you came in, I was all set to be sent packing. Please, call me Joshuah.”
“Thank you, Joshuah…and It’s Harry. Mister Potter makes me think I’ve been caught doing something wrong.”
Joshuah laughed. He could see the mischievous glint in Harry’s eyes. He somehow knew this young man was not likely to be caught in pretty much anything he did.
“You know my uncle.” Harry began.
“I thought your father was an only child.”
“He was. I’m referring to my mother’s, sister’s, husband. You know him as Vernon Dursley.
“Ep.” Harry touched his nose. “Quite frankly, he’s guilty of far worse than embezzlement. I intend to punish him, for it all, so I’ve set him up to be caught. Your audit is the first part of that process.
“You mean this information is false?” Joshuah was appalled. He’d been about to fire someone over planted information. Only the look on the young Lord Gryffindor’s face stayed him from rash action.
“Oh, no. No, he’s been stealing, all right, but not from his own department. He’s smarter than that. Instead, he’s been stealing from materials procurement. I merely created a money trail for you to find, from this department to that one. There are other people involved, but they’re little fish. Some of them don’t even know they’re involved.”
“Alright. We still have enough to send him to jail for a very long time.”
“Actually, I have something better in mind.”
“What do you mean?”
“Mister Grunning, let me tell you a story.”
Harry spent the next three hours telling Joshuah in detail how he was treated, by whom, and at whose behest. Since Grunning was aware of the magical world, courtesy of Remus and the other Marauders, he left nothing out, and though Grunning was ready to declare war on the Dursleys, Harry asked him to wait.
“I have a better idea.”
“So you said. What would this better idea be?”
“Let me ask you a question first.”
Joshuah nodded his head.
“How would you punish a man who’s been screwing you over for so many years?”
“Prison is a very good way, but…”
“But not very satisfying, is it? Add to that, he’d be in a prison for non-violent offenders, regardless what the authorities found. That’s no real punishment. On the other hand, if he goes down for child abuse, he’ll be dead within a month. Prisoners don’t like child abusers. They really, really don’t. While it would be painful as hell, that’s far too quick for my liking. As I told Hermione, I don’t want him to die…I want him to suffer!”
“And how would you do that?”
Harry continued. “Joshuah, what’s the lowest paying position you have here? Something that will pay the rent, but just barely that?”
“Actually, I don’t believe in minimum wages, Harry. I try to take care of my employees, so I pay them more than the average. I’ve found that it helps in two ways. First; I get employees who actually want to be here, and will try their best to earn their pay, and second; it helps to ensure loyalty to Grunnings. Solid employees are hard to find”
“OK, I can see that. Loyalty to employees is a very good trait in a company, and is rather unexpected in our economy. Be that as it may, what is the lowest paying position?”
“Assistant mailroom clerk. It pays around thirteen hundred a month.”
“Well, let’s suppose you keep Dursley on, instead of sacking him, but demote him to assistant mailroom clerk and insist he pay back the money he stole, at a rate of say…two hundred quid per month. After his tax withholdings, he’d have seven hundred or so. Take the two hundred in an automatic deduction before he gets his cheque, and he’ll have five left over. That will be just enough to pay his rent, utilities and food, as long as he goes on a diet and doesn’t overextend himself.
Now, I own that house on Privet Drive. Albus Dumbledore paid it for with money from my parent’s vault, through the B of E, so Vernon has been living in my house for fifteen years, free of charge…and he has the unmitigated gall to call me ‘a drain on an already stretched purse’!” Harry’s last words came out in a feral growl.
Harry’s friends could see the maelstrom of energy around Harry. Even Joshuah could ‘feel’ something terrifyingly powerful coming from the lad. Remus and Carolyn both cautioned him to calm down. Hermione took a more direct action. She leaned over and kissed him soundly.
When she broke the kiss, Harry was blinking in shock.
All the adults there chuckled.
Harry sipped his coffee in an obvious attempt to regain his composure, before he began again.
“Erm…where was I? Oh yeah. Since the house so coincidentally burnt to the ground, shortly after they left for Majorca, there’s some suspicion amongst the insurance inspectors, that the fire wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t, actually. It was an attack by Death Eaters, but I’ve had the goblins place some subtle but detectable hints, to foster that belief. When he returns from Spain, Vernon is going to find some very difficult questions waiting for him. What’s more, since he hasn’t been declaring the fourty galleons, that’s about seven hundred seventy pounds, that he’s been getting from Dumbledore every month…again from my vaults, the people at IRT going to want to have a ‘little chat’ with him, too. Even though that gold was tax deferred, he was obligated to declare it. Now, with all that lovely money gone, he can’t spoil Dudley anymore. When they arrest him, I intend for Carolyn here to intercede on his behalf, letting him know just exactly who his benefactor is, and arrange for housing…in a house I also own, until I can have #4 rebuilt. Then she’ll tell him that I insist he return there.”
“What if he refuses?”
“She’ll give him the choice of living there or in a jail cell. I think he’ll see it my way.” Harry’s smile was like a hungry lion’s.
“With a job, he can avoid the dole, just barely, but Duddy’s going to have to attend public school…what a shame. Maybe he’ll actually learn something for a change.
After so many years of complaints about how much it cost him to ‘keep’ me, Vernon will be paying rent to me. He’s going to absolutely hate that! On the other hand, all his ‘fine, upstanding neighbors, who have nothing better to do than spy and gossip, rather than paying attention to what’s going on around them, are going to over the moon! This scandal…and there will be a scandal, I can promise you, will give them gossip fodder for the next ten years! Neither he, nor Petunia will be able to escape !
I think I can have him down to one good suit and a few shirts, in short order.”
“Harry!” Remus interjected, utterly astounded and proud that his cub could be so underhanded and devious. “That’s absolutely brilliant! You should have been in Slytherin!”
“The hat wanted to put me there, but I talked him out of it.”
Another hour of planning followed as Joshuah Grunning was brought into the loop. Before they departed, Harry handed Grunning a platinum pendant from the Potter vaults, which had ward-runes carved into its surface, and told the man to wear it at all times. It would insure he couldn’t be affected by Imperius or memory charms.
Harry’s parting words were: “I’d strongly suggest you look into Titanium Nitride, It reduces wear on cutting bits, and is quite literally the wave of the future. It was introduced in ‘89, by Ceme Coat in Stuttgart, and four years ago, in Japan, by Kobe Steel. I understand Metaplas here in the UK is also looking into it. They could be producing by as early as this year. If you want to remain competitive, that’s the way to go.”
A/N: The companies are real. And the dates of introduction are also real.