Another slow chapter. Minerva speaks with Filius, & a conspiracy is joined. Harry delivers lightsabers to Tonks, Remus and Mackenzie. Judith turns out to be a surprise, & Ginny learns a fami...
The door swung open and Filius looked up at her.
“Well, hello, Minerva! Won’t you come in?”
“Thank you Filius.”
The door shut and Filius immediately cast some very powerful wards to alert him of anybody trying to listen in. All the portraits turned black, and the soft buzzing of many bees filled the background.
Minerva looked around in shock.
“I have an idea why you came to speak to me, Minerva, and it’s better if none of our discussion overheard.” Filius spoke in an offhand manner, as he seated his guest and poured tea for both of them.
“I was contacted by Dak Graswold last week, which shocked me to my core, as I’m only half-goblin. The goblins aren’t as bigoted as most humans, but they see a blood-mixed child as a potential for split loyalties. Graswold seemed able to overlook it.” He trailed off in thought, until Minerva cleared her throat.
“Hmm?” He started, then realized what he’d said. “Oh yes. Erm…Graswold contacted me and asked to provide you with any assistance I could. He told me it would benefit both our races, but left it there. Can you tell me what is going on?”
“It’s a long and difficult tale, Filius. It started fifteen years ago, on Hallowe’en.”
“Just so. It turns out that Albus isn’t quite as beneficent to the wizarding world as he’d like us to think. Mister Potter came to me just after that fiasco at the ministry to ask me to help create those wonderful power cells he needs. When he did, he told me why. I honestly thought he was…exaggerating, but now I am firmly convinced he was understating the case if anything!”
“Before the end of term, Miss Granger came to me and told me she thought someone might have been able to place a compulsion on her. I checked and sure enough, there were seven. What’s more, I recognized the magical signature.”
“It was Albus?” Flitwick asked sadly.
“Yes.” She replied. “It gets worse. Instead of contacting the Aurors as I should have, I dispelled the compulsions and told her to speak to Albus. I didn’t know why at the time. Last month I discovered the reason. Near the end of the month, I began to think there might be compulsions on me. I couldn’t understand why I would think such a thing, but when I checked, I discovered several quite offensive ones. Most were to ensure my unwavering loyalty to Albus, and ensure my truthfulness, obedience to his orders, and secrecy. A few were so I’d look the other way at the bullying and harassment that goes on here at Hogwarts, especially from Severus and his students, and at least one was to ensure I do the parchment work Albus couldn’t be bothered with.”
Filius snickered at that one and even Minerva smiled thinly.
“I wondered what else he’d done so, on a hunch, I contacted a friend in the ministry’s records office, and asked her to help me find the last fifty years worth of ‘creature restrictions’ laws, telling her that a student needed them for a post-NEWT level study. I was shocked to learn that most of the more offensive ones were authored or co-authored by Albus himself. All along he’s had us believe he was a champion of equality when in reality he’s been stamping on the rights of peoples who are other than human. Filius, as you’ve said, you’re part goblin. How would laws like that affect you?”
“About like you’d imagine. The only reason I’m not targeted, just yet, is that the ministry is afraid the goblins will take their gold, and throw it into a deep hole in the ground, jump in, and pull the hole in afterwards.”
“I also found out that he’s behind the more recent anti-muggleborne laws.”
“I expected that. Did you know that a muggleborne’s tuition is three times what a pureblood’s is? Or that they are charged an additional thirty percent in the stores they are mandated to buy from? Did you know that a muggleborne must pay the tuition to Hogwarts in a lump sum but the purebloods can pay it on a monthly basis? The half bloods are nearly as bad off. An exception is Mister Potter. He is actually charged at the muggleborne rate, and his money is drawn directly from his account! Graswold has told me that Albus has been systematically stealing from not less than twenty-five different orphan’s vaults, with several of them having been dead for years!”
“I never would have suspected that. He’s always been so…noble. I wonder if it’s simply his age catching up or if he is willfully evil, and has been hiding it from us all. In either case, he is no longer the man I once respected.”
“What can we do?”
“I spoke to Mister Potter recently, and he asked me to basically do what I’ve been doing all along. I am to slowly take over the running of the school in all aspects…”
“That’s what you do now.” Filius commented.
“Mister Potter said the same thing, exactly. He asked me to essentially ease Albus out of his position under the fiction of freeing him up to deal with his audit and the loss of his other titles. I’d like you to help me with this. If we are successful, by the time Mister Potter defeats Voldemort, Albus will be redundant. Mister Potter tells me that he will then ‘deal with the other dark lord’. That is a direct quote, by the way.”
“He’s not going to kill him, is he?” Filius was more than a little concerned by the thought.
“He promised he wouldn’t, but with the knowledge he now carries, I’m not so comforted by that promise as I normally would be. After all, there are an amazing number of things a person can survive.”
Filius thought for a few moments before agreeing.
“Alright. What do you need from me?”
“Just your assistance from time to time, is all. Mostly administrative details that I many have forgotten.”
“You will have it.”
“I’d also like to keep a closer eye on Severus.”
“Heya, Tonks!” Harry called as he entered the room. It was fortunate Hermione wasn’t present, as Nymphadora was clad in a longish tee-shirt that wasn’t nearly long enough, and was bent over, looking into the chill-box. The only thing Harry could see of her, was her nicely rounded bum and the pink knickers that failed to cover it.
Tonks jerked her head up at his greeting and banged her head smartly against the wooden box. Falling on that same bum, she clutched her head.
“Owwwwww!” She moaned, before glaring at Harry.
“You knew that was gonna happen, didn’t you?”
“Actually, no. Here, lemmee help.” He stepped across the room, laid his hand against the top of her head and leaned into the force. A moment later, she was feeling much better.
“Wow, Harry! Thanks!” She rubbed the spot, then scrambled to her feet.
“Pretty soon you’ll be able to do it yourself. Where’s Mooney?”
“He’s still in bed.”
“Well tell him to get his lazy arse down here. I’ve got a present for him. For you too, actually.”
With a curious look, Tonks left her pilfered food on the table and climbed the stairs to wake her lover. When Madam Bones had assigned Tonks as Harry’s bodyguard, he’d given them both unrestricted access to 12 Grimmauld, including sleeping over. He hadn’t realized they’d be using that particular invitation so…thoroughly, but it was just as good that they were there.
Five minutes later, an alert Tonks and a rumpled Remus stumbled into the room.
“You look like hell, Remus!” Harry called out. “I thought the full moon was on the thirtieth!”
“It was.” Came Remus’ reply.
“Then why do you look like you’ve been run over by a lorry?”
“Over amorous, junior Aurors with too bloody much energy!”
Harry could see Tonks’ satisfied smirk, and wisely decided to accept the explanation as it was.
“Oooh Kaaay! Moving right along…” He handed each of them a lightsaber.
Dead silence followed.
Tonks broke it with a squeal that had both Remus and Harry covering their ears and grimacing in pain. The force warned Harry and he twisted to one side. A golden blade flashed to life where Harry’s head had just been. Tonks ‘Eep’d’ and dropped the weapon which obligingly shut it self down.
“Well, It looks like the first thing I’ll have to teach you is blade safety” Harry commented dryly. Tonks blushed furiously.
Harry spent the next several hours teaching Remus and Tonks the basics of handling a lightsaber. Both had learned the blade as children, and were easy to instruct.
“I’d prefer you not spar with them unless I’m there. At least until you’ve learned more. In the meanwhile, why not try to get the hang of swinging them. I’ll be at the Grangers house.”
Receiving nods from both, he asked Dobby to go to the castle and get another lightsaber.
Dobby was back in seconds, holding out the weapon. Harry took it, thanked his favorite elf, and vanished silently.
Dobby remained to watch over Tonks and Remus as they got used to the handling characteristics of their lightsabers.
Harry apparated to Crowley to find all three Grangers present.
“Hello Harry!” Hermione greeted him with a kiss.
“Hello, my love.” He kissed her back.
“Mmm!” She sighed. “I could get used to that!”
Mackenzie cleared his throat and called out: “Hello! Overprotective dad here!”
Harry stole another kiss before releasing his beloved. “Actually, Sir, You’re why I’m here.”
“Oh?” Came from both Mackenzie and Hermione…with different emphasis from each, of course.
“Mmmhmm. Two things really. First, this is for you.” Harry handed over the lightsaber.
Suddenly Mackenzie was all smiles. He held the weapon in a loving grip, before looking at Harry for permission.
“Don’t look at me!” Harry snarked. Mackenzie stepped back and thumbed the switch. Instantly, with its usual noise, the golden beam erupted from the grip. Mackenzie was enthralled!
Judith watched fondly as her beloved swung the weapon from side to side.
“Mum?” Hermione offered her lightsaber to her mother. “Why don’t you give it a try.”
“No, sweetie. I’m certain that Harry could tell if I could use the force without the lightsaber.”
“Actually, you can. I can feel it. This sort of thing runs in families, you know.”
“Just like magic!” Hermione piped in.
“Mmmhmm.” Harry agreed.
“All right then.” She grasped Hermione’s lightsaber and thumbed the switch. It lit, but she shut it off immediately, setting it on the table.
“Mum!” Hermione cried out. “What’s wrong?”
“It felt wrong to me.” She explained, puzzled. “Like it didn’t want me to use it…if you take my meaning.”
“I don’t understand.” Hermione looked like someone had just killed Crookshanks.
“I do.” Mackenzie replied, saving Harry the trouble.
“Hermione, honey. You remember when Professor McGonagall first told you of magic? She said you were an exceptionally powerful little witch already, and it’s likely you got most of that from your mother. If that aspect of magic is opposed to the force, then they probably won’t get along. Kind of like putting two magnets together. It you do it wrong, they just slide away from each other.”
Judith paled as she realized that that aspect of magic could have been what caused the difficult pregnancy and birth of their only child. Mackenzie caught her eye and understood immediately. Unfortunately, Hermione was smart as either and picked up on it immediately.
“Then that could be why I’m…”
“It’s possible, yes, but that’s not important.” Judith hastened to reassure her baby. “It could as easily have been that your father and I have different blood types or that he’s right handed and I’m left. Grasping at ideas like this isn’t going to change anything. All it’s going to do is make you crazy thinking of might-have-beens.”
Mackenzie added: “Hermione, nothing we tried would allow us to have any more children. After a while, we decided that it was more important to raise you properly than to pump out a bunch of sprogs.”
“But you love sprogs!” Hermione wailed.
“Yes we do." He chuckled at her uncharacteristic use of the slang. "That’s why we work with children more than adults, but it doesn’t change a thing. We are so very grateful to have you, my love. If it’s the force fighting the magic, than at least now, we have a reason why not.”
“And we can keep on trying!” Judith chirped with a saucy grin, causing Hermione to groan: “Muuum!”
Harry watched the small family cuddling until Hermione saw him there, and yanked him into the ball of limbs. This was entirely different than the Weasleys, or even Hermione’s patented ‘Hermy-hugs’. This made him feel…part of a whole.
Finally a grumbling noise from someone’s stomach parted them. As they prepared dinner, Mackenzie commented: “You said there were two things you wanted to discuss.”
“Yeah. It’s actually something Mrs. Granger said the day she and Hermione visited the castle. She said you, as muggles, couldn’t hope to fight Voldemort’s forces. While I respect the hell out of your abilities with a blade, Mr. Granger, I have to agree. The Deez don’t fight fair. They attack in groups, and use debilitating curses right off. Those curses are illegal as hell, but as purebloods, they don’t care. It turns out that for the past hundred years or so, the purists have excluded themselves from the laws they write. In the second place, since most purebloods, even those not aligned with Voldemort, consider muggles to be just barely above the level of animals, any wizard harming a muggle, despite the laws, would likely earn himself a medal, not a prison sentence.
To top it off, he does have allies you cannot hope to match. In the last war, Voldemort used werewolves, vampires, giants, trolls and dementors. There’s nothing to say he won’t again. Just now, Hermione and I are at the top of his kill-as-slowly-and-painfully-as-possible list, and you, as Hermione’s parents, are just below us. Dumbledore is actually fifth in the queue. While the wards here can protect you from his troops, the ministry knows where you live. It’s required by law to register the address of all witches and wizards, regardless of their blood. Unfortunately the ministry is overrun with Voldemort’s sympathizers. If you leave the wards, you are vulnerable. Even the emergency portkeys I gave you aren’t fool proof. They’re goblin made, and can pass right through the normal anti-apparation, anti portkey wards, but if a deeter hits you with a stunner…or worse, before you see him, you can’t use it.”
“OK.” Mackenzie asked. “What do we do?”
“Actually, I’d like to offer the both of you sanctuary and jobs.”
“Mmmhmm. It turns out, I made a mistake in my planning. I assumed that all my students would be in the same physical condition as I am, or nearly so. Unfortunately wizards tend to use magic for pretty much everything. To put it bluntly, they’re soft…flabby. I need to shape them up before I can begin to train them. Would you like the job?”
Hermione actually gasped in fear at the rather insane gleam that lit Mackenzie Granger’s eyes.
“What do you think, Sweetie?” he asked his wife.
“What could I do?”
“That’s the sticking point. I want to help to protect you but I wouldn’t dare just keep you safe. First off, Hermione would murder me. Second, I’m sure you’d help. So what skills do you have?” I know you are both dentists, but I don’t know if there will be much call for that.”
Harry, I’m an oral surgeon.” That means I’m an MD as well. Judith is a pediatric orthodontist.”
“We have two healers on hand. Much as I love you, they can do things you can’t. It sucks but there it is.”
“I can also teach meditation and Tai Chi!”
“That’s right!” Hermione blurted. “I’d forgotten about that!”
“Perfect.” Harry exhaled. “That’s exactly what we need!”
At their curious looks, he continued. “There’s an art called Occlumency. I have people on retainer who can teach it, but you can make the process simpler by teaching the students to calm, clear and organize their minds. Another thing, meditation is also the way to the force.”
“All right, then.” Judith agreed. “But what about the associates?”
“If you mean the other dentists, I can have the surgery building placed under Fidelus.”
Hermione gave a quick and dirty explanation of the Fidelus charm. Mack spoke then.
“So if we’re under this Fidelus and you’re our secret keeper, we can’t be touched?”
“Until you leave the protection. That means even driving from one place to the other. The Deez are arrogant bigots, but there are a couple of them with more than two brain cells to rub together. If they set a watch, and it doesn’t have to be a person either, the moment you leave the wards around this house, they’ll know. Twenty seconds later, you’ll find yourselves up to your ears in Death Eaters. It’s not a good place to be…trust me on this.”
“All right, now we can protect ourselves, but what about our clients and fellow associates?”
“Though the Death Eaters know where this house is, they don’t know where the surgery is. Until now, they’ve had no reason to follow you. The Fidelus charm only affects those not in on the secret. You’ll have to inform all the people in your office, including updating the advertisements in the directory, but that’s due anyway, if I’m not mistaken. That will tell your clients where you are. You can have new cards made and ask your friends to pass them out. I’ll cover the cost for both. Those cards will carry the secret. You might lose a bit of business, in the short term, until one client passes the card to another, but it’ll pick up quickly enough. The best thing is, since the Deez would never even think of asking help from ‘mere’ muggles, your friends will be perfectly safe, right out in the open.”
“That sounds right clever, Harry.” Mackenzie commented.
“It must be Hermione rubbing off on me.” Was Harry’s cheeky reply.
“Harry!” Came in stereo, from Hermione and Judith. Mackenzie growled: “That’s the last thing any father wants to hear, Harry!”
Laughter followed as Harry pretended to be terrified.
During Dinner, they discussed the idea and decided that their absence would be safer not only for themselves but also for their clients and friends. Judith began to plan their withdrawal from society. They chose to tell their friends they were taking a sabbatical. Mackenzie made his own plans for their departure. Mail delivery would have to be diverted, the newspaper had to be stopped for the time being. Fortunately it was just a few weeks before the normal resubscription time. Electrics, methane, water, the telly and rubbish pick-up would have to be suspended, and the police notified of their impeding absence.
Ottery St. Catchpole:
“Stupefy!” Ginny shouted as she whacked the fencepost with Gred’s beater bat.
“No, Gin-Gin, first hit, then say it!” George smirked.
“Stupefy!” This time the impact came first, but only by a second or so.
“Good! But now it’s time to get into the role. You have to wait to say it, for maximum entertainment value. Watch the expert!”
“Oh, is dad here?
“Cute!” George took the bat, and with a snap of his wrist, coshed the post right smartly. He waited one and a half seconds, as if his target was just falling, before he snarled: “Stupefy!”
Ginny giggled, and Fred raised his wand and gave him a smoky ‘8’.
George yelled an outraged: “Eight!?!”
Arthur watched from the window as Molly was happily cooking. Seeing that he was intent, she stepped up behind him. Out in the garden she saw one of the twins take a beater’s bat from her daughter and swing it at the fencepost. Through the pane she could hear Ginny giggle and George yell: “Eight!?!”
“What are those boys teaching Ginny?” She asked.
“The beater’s special.”
“Arthur!” Molly was horrified at the prospect of her little girl using such uncouth methods.
Molly, She’s going to have to learn it someday. It might as well be now.”
“Molly, it’s a family tradition.”
“One that you started!”
“True.” He conceded. “But traditions have to start somewhere!”
“Oh, you!” She huffed. "Since I know I can’t talk you out of this, let her have a few more whacks and then call them in. Dinner’s almost ready.”
Harry apparated himself and Hermione to Gringotts and since the building was nearly deserted at that time of day, requested an audience with Graswold.
Then old goblin greeted them politely, until he learned the name of HaihRiegh’s chosen. Then he became far more accepting of Hermione.
“I have heard of this one, HaihRiegh.” He spoke to Harry, then turned to Hermione. “Have you learned to not dabble in things best left alone?”
“If you’re talking about the house elves, then yes.” She shot back sharply. “I understand that to simply free them would be worse than keeping them slaves…but…” She added. “I still think they are treated horribly. That must change. No being deserves to be treated the way most house elves are. Harry has rescued…what is it, Harry? Seventy five?”
“Seventy five or so elves freed by horrible masters or just thrown out by the ministry when those masters were arrested. Those elves could have died, and for what?” By this time Hermione was getting worked up and so Harry silenced her tirade the way she’d calmed him a short time before. He kissed her.
Graswold smiled. He liked this female! Few people, goblin or human, would dare to talk to him like that! Once again he blessed his instinct for urging him to ally himself with HaihRiegh. If this was the kind of mate he attracted, he was both stronger…and considerably braver than most humans! This would garner rewards immeasurable, for all!
An hour later, having made his request to Graswold and paid the necessary fees, Harry and Hermione left the bank.
Behind them Graswold redeposited the gold into Harry’s vault. The returned gold was minimal, the potential for future profit…enormous!
In a majestic castle in northern Scotland, an owl alit on the magnificent headmaster’s desk. Albus looked up and greeted the owl. Reaching out to stroke its feathers, he swiftly drew back a painfully bleeding hand. The blasted owl had dared to bite him!
Snarling in rage, Albus snatched out his wand to eliminate this feathered pest! He only then realized to whom the owl belonged. The Windsor crest was banded around the owl’s leg in a fine filigree of gold. It held the leg out, as if for inspection, and if Albus didn’t know better, he would have thought the bird was taunting him!
The owl beat its pinions and drifted silently to Fawkes’ perch, where the phoenix shifted aside and made it welcome. Albus opened the envelope. The message was short and to the point.
“Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore,
Her Majesty’s Own Sorcerer.
You are ordered to present yourself to Her Majesty,
at twelve of the clock, on the twelfth day of August
in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred
and ninety six.
Lord, Sir. Alfred Eddings Newman,
“Oh dear” Albus muttered. That was only two days away. “This cannot be good!”
He penned a proper acceptance and held it out for the owl to take.
It bit him again.
He could have sworn he heard Fawkes snickering.
That afternoon, Harry stood beside a table on a low stage, facing his selected people, in the Great Hall of Potter Castle. This was the first time they’d all been gathered together.
“Welcome to Potter Castle.” He addressed them. “I’ve asked you here for what could quite literally be the most important part of your lives. We’ve each spoken, and I’ve asked you some strange questions, given you some stranger tests, and generally been pretty vague. That was necessary, and it stops today.”
Hermione smiled softly at her lover’s ability to capture his audience. This was not the first time he’d shown this ability, and each time his did, it made her feel very…wriggly.
She and Harry’s other lieutenants stood on the stage, arrayed in a crescent behind him.
Harry looked at the expectant faces before him. Each and every one of them had joined him to destroy the evil that plagued the nation. He sighed in regret, knowing that some would die in that service.
“Since you’ve all volunteered to join me in fighting Voldemort…” Harry smiled thinly, pleased to see that while there was some of the customary shuddering, it was considerably less than usual…only about one in five. Unfortunately, Ron was one of them. Neither the twins nor Ginny had a problem saying the feared name…they never had. He felt if his people couldn’t say the evil bastard’s name, they had little chance of fighting against him. He still had some work to do, but he had quite a few capable assistants in this task…namely the other four fifths of his students.
“I’ll be posting letters to Hogwarts, on the first of September for delivery at the sorting, informing them of your intention to seek your education elsewhere. That way, Dumbledore can’t interfere. You will remain here until the training is done. Once we begin the training, nobody leaves.”
“Why not, Harry?” Fred asked.
“A good question, and there are a couple reasons.” He replied. “All of you know that we are at war…a war that neither the ministry nor Dumbledore has done a thing to actually win. Really, when you look at it, the ministry is understandable. They’ve been in the control of morally corrupt ministers since the beginning of this century, if not longer. The fact that most…nearly all of the people who work there, are also morally corrupt, doesn’t help any. For the most part they are entirely in line with Voldemort’s goals, if not his methods. Madam Bones is doing her best to change that, but it’s gonna take time.
On the other hand, Dumbledore has his own agenda.”
“Dumbledore?” Many voices echoed from the hall. Many were wondering if Harry really was going dark, as Dumbledore had implied, given that he was willing to impugn the integrity of the greatest wizard alive.
Only the fiery appearance of Dumbledore’s phoenix, Fawkes, belied that. He alit on Harry’s outstretched arm, and stretched his neck out for a caress. Harry obliged him while continuing to speak.
“Dumbledore is, for the most part, already in control of the purebloods, whom he expects to keep the rest of us in line. It turns out, despite his press, that he’s as bigoted a blood purist as the Deez themselves, only he uses different methods.
I, and several dozen people I know, have been investigating him for quite a while.” Harry didn’t bother telling them that the people he’d mentioned, were goblins.
“From what we’ve been able to piece together, he’s been amassing power from the shadows for decades…almost a century, in fact. Until recently, he was in complete control over the courts in magical Britain, had the ear of the Queen, and had direct control over the last three ministers. He was able to control what students learned in the most influential school of magicks in Britain, if not Europe, and was head of the world court. Until I gained majority control over the Prophet, he controlled the largest of the three most read newspapers here in Britain, though Witch Weekly is more gossip than anything else, and he couldn’t do much about the Quibbler as not even he knows where it’s printed. Mr. Lovegood has taken even more safety precautions than Alastor Moody, and that’s saying something.”
Looks of outrage from several of the girls there greeted him for daring to impugn their holiest of holies.
Unconcerned, Harry sipped from a glass and went on.
“So what we really have is two dark lords, one of whom has been posing as a ‘leader of the light for so long that people automatically think of him as God. That’s why Fawkes is here, in fact. He’s decided to work with me to eliminate both of them.”
Fawkes butted his head into Harry’s hand like a kitten would until Luna walked over and took him from Harry’s arm. Scratching his head she returned to her position on the stage.
Harry returned his attention to the crowd.
“Voldemort must be stopped, or he will take control of the wizarding world, and after that, the muggles as well. Most of you lot, are muggleborne or halfbloods. You know what that would mean, but for those of you who don’t, let me spell it out. Voldemort wants it all. He wants everything. He’s not going to be satisfied with just this little corner of the world. As soon as he consolidates his power here, he’ll turn towards France. Calais is just across the channel. When he has France, he can go on to Belgium, and from there, to Germany, Sweden, Russia, Spain, Italy, and further. When he gets big enough, like-minded people will flock to him like cockroaches. It’ll be a slaughter, and unfortunately the bigger his group gets, the more people will join him…even if only to try to protect their families. It sucks, but there it is. We - must - stop - him - here! And after him, Dumbledore. The very fate of our world…and I don’t just mean the wizarding world either, is in our hands.”
“Why should we believe you?” Anthony Hopkins objected. “Dumbledore is the greatest wizard in the world! Everyone knows that!”
Harry sighed: “Yeah. Just ask him. He’ll tell you…by so very carefully denying the charge until you are utterly convinced it’s the absolute truth.” He pulled out his wand, and all the students stepped nervously back, seeking an escape. Harry held his wand aloft and said: “I swear upon my magic that I speak the truth.” A bright glow surrounded him, swept through the room and returned to the wand.
“At 11:27 AM, on September the first of this year, I died as a result of continual beatings at the hands of my uncle…”
Harry went on to describe all the things he’d seen and heard after he died. When he was done, he said: “Now if I’ve lied, even a little bit, I won’t be able to use magic, right?” Nods greeted him.
He used his wand to levitate the table.
Not a sound could be heard.
Harry returned his attention to the gathered students.
“As I’ve said, we have two dark lords to defeat, not just one. I know this is a rather daunting task; which is why I have asked each of you here, and why I’ve given you such unusual tests. We each have an ability that Voldemort doesn’t know about. We each have a connection to the force. This connection is what we can use to destroy that monster…and his followers, for once and all.”
“The force?” Terry Boot asked, clearly disbelieving. “You mean like in Star Wars?"
“But, that’s ridiculous!” He scoffed. “The force is made up. There’s nothing to support it.”
“Terry, you’re attending a school that teaches, magic. According to all the known laws of science, magic does not and cannot exist.”
“But it does! We use it every day!”
Harry was, somewhat annoyed at the Terry’s resistance. Boot was a Ravenclaw, and as such, was intelligent, but Harry had discovered the previous year that he was nearly as stubborn as Petunia Dursley. He didn’t have time to debate this in committee, so he decided to give them a demonstration that could not be denied. Pulling his lightsaber from his belt, he pressed his thumb against its activation switch. With a snap-hiss it flared to life and settled into its usual him. Behind him, eight more blades flashed into existence. With that, each person there remembered the interviews they’d had with Harry.
Jaws dropped around the room as each recalled doing that very thing.
“And you can use the force in a like manner.”
He sighed, and shut down the weapon, nodding for those around him to do the same, then added: “For those of you mugglebornes who have a bit of a problem seeing the force as anything but a cinema special effect, then try to think of it as just another form of magic. For those purebloods who have no bloody clue as to what I’m talking about, just think of the force…as another form of magic.”
“How do we learn to use the force?” Terry asked in a subdued tone. He was still awed by the energy blades he’d seen.
“I’m going to teach you. Well I am, along with Hermione, Susan, Luna, Neville, Remus, Tonks, Mackenzie Granger and Dobby.
All of them have already begun their training, so they will be my primary assistants. We will hold training in a group, and as each of you reaches a certain plateau, I will have you help to train someone else. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do just now. We have less than a year to get ten years of training done, and that does not include the traditional five-to-ten-year apprenticeship. I really hate that I can’t give you the lifelong training you should have, but there just isn’t time. If we allow Voldemort to gain a serious foothold here, then we’ll have a hideous time trying to dislodge him. We could still defeat him…eventually, but it would take that much longer and the casualties would rise exponentially. In two years time, they could well be into the millions. In five, it could be as much as half the planet’s population.”
Harry waited for that to sink in before beginning again.
“That brings up another point. Security is of the utmost importance. That’s why there are no portraits here…not even of my own ancestors.”
“Why not, Harry?” Came from the twins.
“Gred, Forge, how closely are we related?”
“Ummm. We think we’re…” Gred began.
“Second cousins.” Twin two continued.
“Why?” They chimed.
“Because my family is as closely related to the Black family. Not only through title, but through blood. Dorea Potter, nee Black, was my grandmother. She’s Phineas Black’s granddaughter. Since he’s a legal part of my family on my grandmother’s side, Phineas’ portrait has a legal right to hang here, but he also hangs in the drawing room of my other house, and in the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. Simply put, he spies for Dumbledore. Since I’m also related to the Malfoys by the same means, though I think Draco and I are third cousins, twice removed, or somesuch. There might be others. I have simply stored all the portraits until this mess is done. I can’t have any of this getting out.”
Heads nodded. It was a good security policy, after all.
“Until I secure the compound under Fidelus…that’s in ten days time, you will be able to come and go, as you will. But nothing of this place gets out! No showing off! Colin, this specifically means you. I know you’ve been selling pictures of me to The Prophet. That stops now. If even one breath of this gets to Voldemort, our element of surprise is gone. If you can’t agree to this, I’ll have your memory wiped and you’ll be cut loose, understand?”
Colin paled and shrank into himself as Harry growled out the last then nodded as rapidly as Dobby ever could. Harry was his idol, but damn! That guy could be scary!
“Other than ourselves, the only ones who know of this, are Doctors Granger, Augusta Longbottom, Andromeda Tonks, my solicitor Carolyn Chapman, Dak Graswold and Amelia Bones. Soon enough, more will know, but just now, it’s only them.”
“Harry?” Ron ventured. “What about, well, y’know…Edgecomb’s?” Harry knew what Ron was implying.
“Don’t worry about it Ron, I’ve already taken care of that.” He turned to the group.
“For those who don’t know what Ron is asking, Marietta Edgecomb betrayed us to Delores Umbitch last year. It turns out; her mother was actively supporting Voldemort. While Ron’s question is valid, I have already taken the appropriate steps to prevent that. When I met with each of you over the last weeks, I used the force and looked into your thoughts. I directed the conversation so as to bring certain memories, feelings and most especially, loyalties, to the surface, and learned what and where each of your strengths and weaknesses are. I’m sorry for the invasion of privacy, but for this to succeed, it was absolutely necessary. The short of it is, none of you will betray us. I’ve ensured that, by keeping anyone who would, away. Simply put, there will be no traitors because you all believe as I do. Maybe not in the particulars, but in the overall goal. Voldemort must be stopped!”
Harry let that sink in as he sipped again. The students before him remained silent.
“Another thing.” He went on. “While most of us are Hogwarts students, there will be no inter-house rivalries…period. Here, we are one group, equals all, that must support the whole. Here, there are no Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws or Slytherins. Here, we are the first class of the Jedi academy. There will be an absolute zero-tolerance policy, for bullying or harassment of any sort. If you can’t accept that, come here during the break, and I will remove your memories of the force and let you walk. However, once the estate is sealed, if I see, or hear of any kind of harassment, bullying or tormenting, I don’t care who you are, I will wipe your memories of the force, and stuff you into a stasis tube.”
Harry wafted his hand and a curtain parted to the side of the room. Behind it was a steel and glass stasis tube. Another wave and the heavy cylinder floated from its spot to the stage where Harry stood. His audience gasped at his sheer control over the elusive wandless magic.
He pointed at the thing and continued.
“This is a stasis tube. Inside, you will not age. You will go to sleep, and the next time you see daylight is when we release you. If we lose, you’ll stay there for the next five thousand years…that’s how long the power supplies are good for. This mission is far too important. We have no room for people who will not get along. Are there any questions?”
“What about our families?” Kevin Entwhistle asked.
“You have a choice there. Since you are not currently targeted by Voldy’s badly dressed social club, they would likely be in no greater danger than in normal life. On the other hand, once we go missing, Voldemort could focus his attention on them in order to force us out of hiding and into his sights. They could become hostages. The best option I can offer is that they flee the country. I can assist them financially there. In addition, since I am a majority shareholder in several companies throughout the world. My solicitor can locate them in good jobs and arrange housing for them until this is over. We can also adjust their memories so they don’t remember you. Madam Bones has offered to loan me a few obliviators.”
“And after the war, if we win?”
“We could have their memories of you removed and stored. If we survive, the memories could be returned. If not, well, wouldn’t they be better off not knowing?” Harry paused to let this rather grim statement sink in. Then he added another. “The decision is yours. Since there are around sixty of us, memory charms for all, could take quite some time.”
“What about school, Harry?” Came from Su Li.
“You won’t have time to do any real schoolwork. I told you that when we spoke. If we survive, I will arrange for tutors in every subject and Madam Bones has assured me you will be able to continue your schooling at Hogwarts, or any of the other schools here. In the remote possibility you cannot, I’ll keep you on here under instruction until you can take and pass your exams. I wish I could do more, but for the time being, you aren’t going to have a great deal of time to study anything other than what you’ll need to survive this coming show-down.”
“What if you don’t survive?” Goldstein asked. Immediately he was drowned out by the other students. Harry raised his hands for quiet, and called out: “Hold on now! That’s a fair question.” silencing the shouts of the others.
“Basically the answer is: If I lose, Voldemort wins.” Harry was as serious as a heart attack. “Now, assuming I do manage to kill him off and get myself killed at the same time…something I’d really like to avoid, I’ve already set up my will to take care of that. Anyone who wants an education will have one. My pledge to you.”
Another silvery flash circled the room.
At 11:30 on the twelfth, Albus Dumbledore arrived at Buckingham Palace, in the usual spot, only to find several automatic weapons pointed at him. A voice sounded from a speaker on the wall. “Albus Dumbledore, place your wand in the drawer. Deadly force is authorized. You have five seconds to comply!”
Albus gaped, until he heard the sound of the bolt being drawn back on one of the rifles. He eased the wand from its pocket, and set it in the drawer. Instantly a steel cover snapped closed over it, and the drawer dropped into the table. He stood uneasily, as the soldiers had not eased their tension one jot. He only now, realized things were not going according to his brilliant plan.
A Colonel in Her Majesty’s Royal Marine stepped forward. He remained about three meters away, beyond a golden circle on the tiles.
“Now, you will remove your robes and place them, and all magical artifacts on your person onto the table. They will be returned upon your departure. If you do not wish to do so, you may leave now. Your wand will be waiting for you at the Leaky Cauldron.”
“What is the meaning of this outrage? I am Albus Dumbledore, the Queen’s Own Sorcerer!”
“I am well aware of your name and titles, Mister Dumbledore. However, recent information has come to light as to certain ‘irregularities’ involving your counsel.”
Albus paled. The last time the word ‘irregularities’ was used around him, it had cost him all his gold!
“What sort of irregularities?” He demanded.
“That’s not for me to say, Sir. However, if you should fail to follow the instructions, you will be escorted from the palace without having seen the Queen.”
Albus had no recourse. He began to remove his golden robes. Seeing the guards standing there, he cleared his throat. “If you wouldn’t mind…?”
“Sorry, sir, but you are classified as an exceptionally dangerous individual.” The colonel replied. “We would be remiss in our duty to Her Majesty, to allow you to remain unobserved during your visit.”
Furious and humiliated, Albus removed his robes, and scoured his body for the talismans, icons and charmed objects he normally carried about his person every day.
“And now, what?” He asked, more than just a bit annoyed. “An orange boilersuit uniform?”
“No sir.” The Colonel replied quite politely. “You will find robes suitable to your station in that wardrobe. Please select a set and don them. After you’ve dressed, and we’ve gone through a few more procedures, we will escort you to your audience with Her Majesty.”
Albus could understand the security. After all she was the queen. She had endured many threats and more than a few attempts on her life had been made. Still, as Her Majesty’s Own Sorcerer, he was unused to this level of invasion. He opened the indicated locker to find several sets of very finely made robes, each as comfortable as those he’d doffed. Selecting a set of sapphire robes emblazoned with stars, moons, diamonds, and what appeared to be stylized hearts, clover and horseshoes, of gold and silver thread. He slipped them on, smiling at the craftsmanship. These robes were as fine as any he’d worn. Truly remarkable!
“Very well, then. I am ready.”
“Very good sir. Please step this way.” His escort gestured toward the open door. Albus noted the guards had not relaxed one bit. The men’s automatic rifles were held at low port, ready in an instant. As good as he was, Albus doubted he could overpower one such man, let alone three, especially without his wand.
“Please have a seat here.” The officer gestured to the seat before the low narrow table. On it sat a bowl of what looked like water. Albus gingerly sat, expecting to be shot on the moment. The fatal bullet never came. However, there was another. A lovely woman of around fourty entered through a door to the right, and sat on the other side of the table.
“Mister Dumbledore, please remove your rings. You were told to remove all magical articles. Even your glasses, on the off-chance that they have an offensive spell or other interfering agent on them. Please do so now. These glasses are in your prescription.” She set a pair of gold-framed glasses exactly like Dumbledore’s on the table. Sighing at the unnecessary necessity, Albus removed his glasses and set them on the surface. The woman picked them up with white gloves and carefully placed them into a glasses case, which vanished into a slot in the table.
“Now the rings.” He recognized this as an order, and liking it not one bit, he reluctantly complied, setting all but one of his rings into another box on the table, one after the other. Inwardly he snarled. The queen would hear his mind on this! “I cannot remove the signet. It is my family’s magic. It will only come off when I have begun the next great adventure. Alas, there is nothing I can do.” Inwardly he smirked. The signet was a miracle of craftsmanship, holding not only a lethal poison but also three pre-loaded offensive spells for use as a last resort.
“We understand. Hold out your hand.” She pressed a spot on the tabletop and the box also sank into the table.
Albus held his hand over the table, only to stare at a metallic band she locked in place, encircling his ring and the fingers on either side.
“This band contains a small bit of PE-4. That’s a plastique.” At his confused expression, she clarified. “An explosive. If the sensors within detect any magical discharge beyond your normal radiation, it will remove your fingers. The metal will deflect the blast inward only so Her Majesty will not be harmed.”
Albus could only gape in horror at these precautions! Not that they existed, for they were quite understandable, but that they had been applied to him!
She handed him a pair of finely wrought and filigreed silver bracelets, which appeared to be goblin-crafted, and instructed him to clamp them around his wrists. Sighing again, he did so. As the second one snapped closed, he could feel the damping effect of the bracelets. His eyes grew wide as he realized he had been magically neutered! Worse…he’d done it to himself!
She simply smiled and said: “It’s really for the best. After all, you won’t accidentally blow off your fingers this way. Nasty business, that!”
She picked up his hands and settled his fingers in the liquid in the crystal bowl, with the orders to keep them there, before vanishing through the doorway again. Soaking his hands in the liquid, for almost a half-hour, with armed soldiers who refused to speak with him, did nothing for Dumbledore’s temper.
She returned and it only got worse. Grasping his hands one at a time, she had clipped his fingers quite short, and thoroughly cleaned under them, removing all the accumulated detritus and more than a bit of skin. Quite frankly, his fingers hurt! He was seething by the time the woman announced he could leave.
“Why are you going through this procedure?” He asked, confused at the intensity of the security procedures. He’d ever been subject to the like before, and it both irritated and worried him.
“Poison under the fingernails is a basic assassination technique.”
“Assassination?” Dumbledore was shocked that anybody would dare to suspect him…him of all people, of such a thing. That it was absolutely true, made no difference to him in the slightest. “But surely you can see that I am no threat to Her Majesty!”
“Mister Dumbledore, in these uncertain times, everyone is considered to be a threat. We muggles have no recourse to magic, so we have become most inventive in finding other ways to kill each other.” She handed him a flannel, and once again, stood and left through the same door. Albus was floored at her abrupt dismissal!
Albus and his escort walked silently down the hallway towards the formal meeting rooms. Portraits of previous monarchs, including a few magical ones, glared down on him in outrage or contempt. He was happy to not be headed toward the throne room, as that was where kings and queens frequently ordered arrests, imprisonments and occasionally, though not in the recent past…executions, and at the same time, insulted that he was not, as his official post was behind and to the left of the throne itself.
He was reconsidering his position during his interview with the seething monarch.
“Your Majesty, I…”
“You will be SILENT!” Elizabeth snarled. “Albus, this has gone on for far too long! Your Ministry of Magic is sworn to fealty to the crown, not to themselves! We have allowed the magical population to govern themselves, without oversight in the past, but your civil war has long since spilled into our world, and now, you are allowing the innocent to be murdered and imprisoning people without trial! How many of our subjects have been kidnapped, tortured, raped and murdered by that lunatic and his followers, and how many of those crimes have your people covered up? How many people have been obliviated and how many of those families have been left bereft because you lot, refuse to put an end to it? Lord Gryffindor, a lord we were not aware of before this, contacted us some weeks ago, under the auspices of the goblin nation, and described the many injustices perpetrated against the citizens of Britain in the name of secrecy!”
Albus was utterly shocked that his pawn had taken such a measure. This would not end well. He would have to find some way to placate the Queen.
Unfortunately, The Queen was not yet done.
“Your justification of the International Statute of Secrecy, is nothing more than the posturing of tyrants, Albus, and we shan’t have it any more!
This animal and his followers, have been allowed to run free for far too long, Albus, and since you refuse to bring him to heel, I have contacted some people who will!”
“Your Majesty, if I may…”
“YOU - WILL - BE - SILENT!” The Queen bellowed, slapping her hand down on the table with a resounding bang. Albus was taken aback in shock. He had known many monarchs, and Elizabeth had been one of those with the calmest disposition. Her father, George, sometimes let his temper flare…in private, of course. Prince Phillip would also occasionally rail, but he’d never before seen Elizabeth lose her temper.
“Albus, we have lost confidence in both your fidelity and in your judgment! Why do you think we have refused you permission to enter these chambers with your wand? While your wandless magics are impressive, but they are not the kind of charms you need to erase our memories, or actually cause us harm. For the past fourty years you have been playing your game, and it is long past time the crown took a stand.
We will not abide lies, and you have lied and deceived us since you took the title of The Queen’s Own Sorcerer, therefore, your services as such, are no longer required. We shall contact Minister Bones directly and deal with her only. Good day to you, sir!” The Queen rose from her chair.
“Please, Your Majesty!” Albus was now officially horrified. “You mustn’t!”
“It is done. Good day!” Four armed members of the Queen’s guard appeared behind her as if by magic. None of them looked happy.
Albus swore to himself, as he backed away. Bowing to the monarch, he knew he’d need to find a way to obliviate the queen and ‘convince’ her to retain him. ~Perhaps an ambuscade…~
Queen’s next dark words brought his musings to a screeching halt.
“Albus, We have known you for long enough to know that you are planning something. Our advice to you is: Don’t try it! We have protected ourselves, and our chief people against your memory spells. There are methods of duplicating memories that are not known in the magical world. If, for any reason, we suspect our memory, or that of any of our people has been tampered with, we will use those methods. Understand this, Albus, the Statute of Secrecy is easily broken. Since all the world’s governments are fully aware of their magical populations, we have resources that you do not. This is your only warning Albus! Take it seriously!”
Elizabeth rose, turned and left the room without another word, telling Albus Dumbledore more clearly than any words could, how badly out of favor he was.
The Guard remained, glaring at him.
Harry had been thinking intensely about his problem. The government was on it’s way to recovery, the newspapers were less inclined to print rubbish, Rita had been rehired under the most stringent of rules, the goblins were entirely in line with him, and he had Voldemort’s troops on their back foot. Now, all he needed to do was to eliminate two dark lords, one of whom would be relatively straightforward.
But the other one presented quite a problem. The other one was so revered, that he had to be very, very careful. One screw up could spell the end of this revolution, even should he succeed.
Standing, he walked through the empty halls of Potter Castle to the great hall, where he began to practice his katas. Each movement was precise as he could make them, and each led to another. By this time, Harry was proficient in Shii-Cho and Makashi, and conversant with Soresu. Practicing with his lightsaber calmed him. He considered it a form of meditation, and as he sank into the force, he found himself thinking about his problem.
He was weighing and reviewing ideas when, for some reason, he thought about his conversation with Minerva. He recalled his thoughts on blood magicks. That led to other thoughts and those thoughts led to a place far from where he’d begun. A place beyond the outer rim territories, in fact.
More thinking, selecting and discarding options from the imparted knowledge Yoda had given him, followed, and after several hours, he had sketched out a basic plan. It would need something he didn’t have, though.
Blood. Specifically, Dumbledore's blood.
“Dobby.” Harry called quietly. The Jedi garbed elf appeared silently behind him, with his lightsaber raised to strike. Harry flung his own over his shoulder and blocked the elf’s slash. A fast but furious battle followed, ending in Harry’s blade being flung across the training area and Dobby’s nearly touching his throat.
“Harry Potter needs to be faster!” Dobby commented before summoning Harry’s lightsaber and returning it to his master.
“Thank you for the lesson, Dobby. I need you to do something sneaky and probably illegal. You up for it?”
“Oh yes. Dobby is always ready for skulduggery! Dobby will do anything the great Harry Potter asks.”
“I need a sample of Dumbledore’s blood.” Harry held up an automatic blood sampling tube.
“Except that.” Dobby was suddenly very, very nervous.
“Dobby, I need this to eliminate the harm he’s causing to the magical world.”
“Master Harry, Dobby is a house-elf, and house-elves is cannot be using dark blood magicks. Since Albus Dumbledore will not allow Dobby to take his blood freely, Dobby will have to be taking it forcibly and that is what makes it dark blood magicks.”
“I’m glad you said that. I won’t be using blood magic either. I won’t be using magic at all. I need Dumbledore’s DNA coding, to build a little gift that he can’t refuse, and I have to collect the blood. I need you to get me into Hogwarts without being detected.”
“No dark magicks?”
“Not a one.” Harry knew that this wasn’t entirely true. He wouldn’t be using magic at all, but as Clarke said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
“Then Dobby will do this.”
“Dobby, You really don’t need to…”
“Dobby can get in and out of Hoggywarts, without being seen, but it is being much easier to do so alone. They is no need for Harry Potter to go, when Dobby can be doing that job alone.”
Harry didn’t like having others do things like this for him, but he could see Dobby’s point.
He sighed: “Thanks, Dobby. Take this. You need to find a vein. His forearm is easiest. Squeeze his upper arm evenly until the blue veins show. It’ll take about a minute or so. When they show and you can feel them cleanly through the skin, pull the cap off, align the needle with the vein, and push the tip in through the skin and into the vein.” Harry pantomimed the procedure. “Once the needle is in place, stop squeezing his arm. The tube will fill by itself. When it’s full, pull out the needle, cover it, and heal up the little poke-hole where you stuck him."
Dobby took the vacuum tube and turned to go.
“Dobby.” Harry called out. “If you need to use force, it’s got to look like an accident.”
“Dobby understands.” The little elf replied before vanishing without a sound.
Two hours later, Dobby returned and handed Harry a phial of dark blood.
“Dobby hopes this will be enough.”
“It’s enough. Thank you.” Harry took the phial and placed it into a chill box.
“What did you have to do to get this?”
“It is being better that Harry Potter does not know.” Dobby turned to go but Harry’s call stopped him.
“Dobby!” The elf looked at him.
“If anything comes of this, I will take the blame, understand? As my bonded elf, you answer only to me. Now tell me, what did you have to do?”
So Dobby told him, and once more, Harry was really glad Dobby liked him.
Dumbledore woke in the hospital wing with a ringing headache.
“Welcome back to the world of the living, Headmaster.” Poppy spoke softly but to Albus it was like someone striking an anvil with a hammer. He grimaced in pain and covered his ears. Unfortunately this also caused him more than a little pain.
“Here! Drink this!” Poppy held out a phial filled with a viscous purple fluid. Dumbledore drained the glass tube in a heartbeat and sighed in relief, as the powerful painkiller took effect.
“What happened?” He croaked.
“We don’t know for certain. We found you at the bottom of a flight of stairs, unconscious and bleeding heavily. Minerva discovered some water on the top steps and found the anti-slip charms there, were exhausted. We surmise the water was there, because of a hole in the roof overhead. There was, by the way. It’s been there for quite a long time. Anyway, the combination of the water, the worn-out charm and the fact that the stairs had moved, combined to send you tumbling down the steps. There was evidence of such a fall and your lemon drops were scattered all over the place!” Really Albus, you should be more careful! This time it was only some broken bones and a concussion. It could have been far, far worse!”
While it is true that Harry is using some of the rather underhanded methods Dumbledore uses, unfortunately in war, such tactics are often necessary. Unlike Dumbledore, Harry keeps his actions up front. He also explains exactly why, as soon as possible, without recourse to lies, prevarication, dissembling or riddles.