The day of the Custody Hearing
Harry Potter and the Distaff Side
Narcissus Malfoy checked his appearance in the mirror for perhaps the tenth time as he waited for his wife to finish with her business meeting.
Perfect, as always.
Today was the day. Today, Lucile would bring her political pressure to bear and Harriet Potter would become a ward of the Malfoy family. The Dark Lady would be rewarding them for this, rewarding them well. Narcissus smiled to himself as he recalled those few moments when he actually believed that the threats from the Potter boy had any meaning.
The idea that some mere boy could stand up to the Malfoys? Preposterous.
In less than an hour, they would receive custody of the Girl Who Lived, and immediately following that, they would be withdrawing her from the school, for her own safety, of course. By this time tomorrow, they would be reporting that the silly girl had run off and she would be in the hands of the Dark Lady.
Prior to handing her over to the Lady, Narcissus planned on spending a little time with his new ward, thanking her for what had happened to poor Orion, and for the arrogance of her insignificant male twin. The Dark Lady wanted to be the one who killed the Girl Who Lived, she didn't mind if the child was tortured a bit first. After the girl was dealt with, the boy Potter would learn what happened to mouthy little boys.
A pair of Tawny owls entered through the charmed delivery window with what appeared to be a decorative hat box being carried between them. The owls teamed together managed to lightly place the box on the table in front of Narcissus before lighting upon it and extending their legs in a clear request to be released from their burden.
Narcissus untied the owls from the package, noting in delight that it bore the name of his favorite apparel shop. He hadn't purchased anything from Merryman's recently, but perhaps it was a gift from Lucile. Narcissus smiled, Lucile was always so accommodating. She loved it so when Narcissus looked his best, and was always buying him pretty things.
The owls departed as soon as they were freed from their burden, and Narcissus carefully opened her gift to discover what new treasure Lucile was showering him with.
Narcissus' shrill screams brought Lucile running with her wand drawn.
Harriet Jane Potter stood in front of the mirror and examined her appearance closely. It was important to show the world the image of a powerful young witch, a young woman who wasn't to be trifled with. The apparent total recovery from the now infamous attack on the Lovegood's would stand her in great stead. No one at the hearing this morning would make the mistake of seeing her as weak.
She was only slightly annoyed that her brother actually had come back from the attack as healthy and strong as ever. Harriet wondered if she could have done that. She had spent her time in the Hospital wing, but ever since being bested by Strews...
Orestes stood to the side, occasionally plucking at a stray thread as he ensured that Harri looked her best. The Wiccegamot had to be made aware that they were dealing with the Scion of a great family, and that Harriet would not be forced into a situation that would not be to her advantage.
There was a plan in place. A plan that Orestes wouldn't tell her about.
That irked her a bit, but she was sure that the plan had been thought out to the most minute of details by Orestes and Luna, with input from Harry and even Ronnie as well. If nothing else, the plan had convinced Orestes that Luna was one scary witch, one that he would never, ever want to cross. Harriet had to admit it was fun to be around Luna and Harry when they did their little dominance dances, with each trying to shield and protect the other.
Harry was planning on being at the hearing. He wouldn't say how he was planning on getting out of the Castle to be there, much less how he was going to make it to London, but she was somewhat relieved that he would be there. If it didn't go their way Harriet might need to fight her way out of the Ministry... Having Harry at her back would make that easier.
So deep in her thoughts, Harri was startled when Orestes' arms encircled her waist and pulled the pair close.
"Good luck," Orestes said softly in her left ear, before the boy started softly kissing her neck. "I wish I was going with you."
"So do I," Harri admitted. "Knowing you were there would make all of this easier to take."
"Harry said he was going to be there, though how that boy plans to get there is beyond me."
Harriet raised a single eyebrow, "Orestes are you suggesting that my dimensional twin doesn't act like a proper young gentleman?"
"Harry's my friend," the bushy haired boy huffed. "And I like him just the way he is, but it wouldn't hurt him to learn to learn to conduct himself properly. The way he is with Luna, he's going to get a reputation."
"Hmm, you always seem to enjoy it when I act with you like Harry does with Luna..." Harri grinned at Orestes' pretty blush. "So are you going to tell me what you four have cooked up to keep the Malfoy's at bay?"
"It's important that you don't know," Orestes said with his own smile. "That way you've got deniability and no one can pull it out of your head."
Harriet fixed her boyfriend with a incredulous stare, "That bad? What the hell have you four come up with?"
"Trust me, you don't want to know until you get back."
"Miss Potter?" Professor McGonagall said entering the room. "The Headmistress is ready to get started, are you ready?"
Harriet took one last glance at the mirror. She looked good. "Yes Professor, I'm ready.
Lucile Malfoy rushed to her husband's side, and was shocked to find him in such a state of panic. Never before in their almost twenty years of marriage had she seen him like this.
Then she looked down into the hatbox on the table in front of her husband and found her only daughter's severed head.
"Thubani!" she gasped.
The severed head in the box opened its eyes. "Mummy!" it said with the voice of the male Potter, the boy's voice warbling as if the words were spoken through a mouth half full of water, "no, sorry to say, I'm not your darling Thubani... I'm a warning keyed to activate when both of the adult Malfoys are present. It has been noted that poor sweet Thubani is all alone in Hogwarts Castle, alone and unprotected. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to her."
"I will kill you!" Lucile shouted.
"You are no doubt ranting about how you are going to kill me and humiliate my friends just now Lucy," the head said jovially before continuing in a much colder tone of voice, "so get it out of your system. Your playmates hurt my sister. Your brother in law tried to capture her for your Dark Lady. Did you think I would allow that to go unpunished?"
Narcissus' eyes went wide before he rushed to the fireplace, fumbled for the floo powder, and knelt before the flames as they turned green. "Slytherin Common Room"
"Common room sentry. State your business." The response came back as Lucile joined her husband at the fire.
"Get me Thubani Malfoy," Narcissus barked.
"Who is this?" The sentry responded.
"This is the Gentleman Malfoy! If you value your pathetic life you will find my daughter, and you will find her now."
"My apologies Gentleman Malfoy," the sentry answered contritely. "Thubani is missing, she hasn't shown up for her first class, and no one can find her."
"That should have been long enough for you to verify that poor sweet Thubani can't be found." The head's watery voice called from the table as Narcissus broke the floo connection. "This is my last warning Lucy, you had best find a good excuse for explaining to your Dark Lady why you failed to adopt my sister, or Thubani dies, so very slowly."
Lucile was almost incoherent with rage. "The Dark Lady will..."
"And now you're threatening me with pain or death or your pathetic Dark Lady. You do what you're going to do Lucy. If you presume to take control of my sister, and Thubani dies today. Your husband will die before the sun rises again, and you... you I'll leave to the Dark Lady, after your will is changed of course. The Malfoy fortune will be a nice addition to the Potter vaults."
The severed head shimmered for a moment before exploding, spraying a wet pulpy substance over the Malfoys.
"Thubani!" Lucile screamed in fury staring at the shattered melon the lay in the hat box.
"What are we going to do Lucile?" Narcissus asked, trying and failing to vanish the red pulp of the melon.
"That boy is going to die!" the head of family Malfoy ranted.
"Lucile! He's got Thubani! We can't risk her life!"
Lucile Malfoy calmed herself, and pulled her wand to clean the melon pulp from her clothing, and failing. "We haven't time for this, this fruit is charmed to prevent magical cleaning, we will have to bathe and change clothes before the Hearing."
Harry shuddered for a moment when the icy cold of the disillusionment charm slowly washed over him before he started to make his way toward his goal.
The hardest part of preparing for this Hearing had been convincing the Riddle of the Room to teach him the stealth techniques he would need to pull this off.
The second hardest part had been figuring out just how Dumbledore was going to get Harri to London for the Hearing. Harry had spent most of the week after Healer Pomfrey released him from the Hospital wing trying to discover what the Headmistress was going to do, before realizing that he was being stupid, and asked the Room of Requirements to make him a Dumbledore he could speak to.
Harry had only been moderately surprised when the form that shimmered into existence in front of him was the familiar male headmaster rather than the woman he had come to know.
"Oh, my," the shade of the old man had said upon forming. "This is disconcerting, I must say."
"Sorry," Harry said. "I was expecting your female counterpart."
"Oh, it's not a problem my boy," the ancient wizard said while staring at his hands as he flexed them. "Not a problem at all. I'm not sure what sensation surprised me more, the surprise of suddenly finding you standing in front of me after almost a year, or the knowledge that I am but a shade generated by the magic of this rather interesting room."
Harry blinked. Was this actually a shade of his Dumbledore? Or had the room simply used his expectations to create a male form around the Headmistress the castle knew? "Can... can you tell me what is happening back home?"
"I'm sorry Harry, I cannot," the shade said stroking his beard. "I am only the manifestation of your memories of Albus Dumbledore made real by the magic of this wondrous room. While I know much of what is happening in this world, I am as ignorant as you when it comes to the situation in a world where men dominate."
Harry sighed,"Alright then, I hope you can answer this question then. How is the Headmistress getting Harriet Potter to the Ministry for her Custody Hearing? Will she just floo them from her office? Will they apparate?"
"No Harry, it seems my counterpart shares my penchant for the dramatic entry. As of this morning she has decided that she will arrive at the Ministry via a Hogwarts Carriage drawn by a team of thestrals. This reality's Hagrid will be serving as the driver of the carriage, and will be sporting full Hogwarts livery."
This was why Harry was creeping up to the shining carriage waiting at the main entrance of the castle, disillusioned, silenced, and carefully avoiding Rubella Hagrid. Once he was beside the carriage he carefully evaluated his chances.
Trying to ride inside the carriage was, of course, right out, underneath... He leaned over to discover there didn't appear to be anything stable for him to attach himself to. That left riding up top.
Carefully, trying his best to make his movements coincide with those of the thesterals hitched to the carriage, he slowly climbed to the top of the carriage. Once there, he pulled a blanket layered with multiple 'Notice Me Not' and warming charms from his robes and wrapped it around himself as a defense against the January winds.
It was likely to be a long ride.
Thubani Malfoy was suddenly awake. She lay still for a moment trying to figure out what was bothering her.
It was... dark. The dorm was never truly dark; there was always a dim wall sconce to allow one to move about without needing a light source. But now, it was dark. It was dark like being at the bottom of a well at midnight on a moonless overcast night.
She tried to sit up, and terror gripped the pureblood's soul.
She couldn't move. She couldn't move any part of her body, she couldn't open her eyes. The only sound was the beating of her heart. But... there was motion. She could definitely feel that she was moving... but where?"
Orestes Granger stood staring out the window at the carriage. He watched as the Headmistress and Harri climbed into the carriage and Hagrid mounted to her driver's position and getting the magical conveyance on its way.
The analytical part of his mind was occupied with trying to see if the thestrals hitched to the carriage kicked up anything when they started to move. They did not. The carriage picked up speed and lifted from the road to Hogsmeade to take to the sky.
He sighed. That analytical part of his mind wished that he could actually see the thestrals as the drawing he had found seemed to contradict each other. The rest of his mind on the other hand, mindful of the requirements needed to be able to see thestrals was very glad he could not.
Luna's reflection joined his in the glass of the window.
"Our Potters are on their way," the Ravenclaw noted.
"Harry is actually heading for London? How is he getting there?"
"Oh, he's hitched a ride on the Headmistress' carriage," Luna said pointing at the tiny dot in the sky.
"He did?" Orestes asked incredulously. "But I was watching, and I never saw..."
"Harry can be quite... stealthy when he wants to be," Luna smiled. "And he wants to be there for Harriet if she needs him."
The carriage was now out of sight, Orestes sighed and turned away from the window. "I hope they're alright. I still don't think that its a good idea to have Harri stand in front of the Wiccegamot and provoke them."
"That's because you still think of our Government as if it was a democracy like you know from the Muggle world Orestes," Luna said. "It isn't you know. Membership in the Wiccegamot is from family connections and bluster. Harriet will be speaking to them in a language they understand, as one privileged head of house to an assembly of equals."
"Yes, but..." in truth the make of up of the Wiccegamot disturbed Orestes far more than he was comfortable saying.
"In the end," Luna continued, "the majority of the Wiccegamot will support Harriet in her pursuit of special privilege for no other reason than she is the head of and an ancient and noble house just as they are, and none of them will be willing to risk the loss of any special privilege that they themselves may need someday."
"It's still wrong."
"Wrong? Right?" Luna shrugged. "Those are just concepts based upon one's world view. What we are dealing with is the way things are Orestes. Maybe after the Dark Lady is gone our Potters will be able to do something about it. For now, we're using it to keep Harri safe."
"Speaking of being safe," Orestes said after a short pause as the pair made their way toward the Great Hall for lunch. "No one has seen Malfoy today, and from what I've heard, quite a few people are looking for her... You wouldn't know anything about that would you?"
"Heavens Orestes," the blond said pressing her left hand to her chest in an overly dramatic show of distress. "Surely you don't suspect loony old me of anything so nefarious do you?"
"So, what is your plan?"
Harri looked from the carriage window to her Headmistress. "Plan?"
"Miss Potter," the old woman sighed, "I may be 'some what older than dirt' as your friend Veronica suggested once or twice, but I am not blind. You, your dimensional twin, and your usual cohort of supporters have been holding secretive meetings since your twin got out of the Hospital Wing. You have a plan."
"Oh, that plan," Harri nodded, while trying to think of what to tell Dumbledore. Well, she thought, the truth couldn't really hurt could it? "Basically the plan is for me to stand up before the Wiccegamot and try to out pure blood them, and use the attack on Harry at Luna's house as well as the massacre at the Chudley Stadium as examples why anyone who wears a Dark Mark is suspect.."
Dumbledore nodded. "That approach is likely to be quiet effective, and it is also likely to annoy quite a few people in positions of power."
"Not nearly as annoyed as I would be if I were in the loving custody of the Malfoy family, I assure you."
"I suppose that would likely cause a certain level of reaction from your twin..."
"If they survived me," Harri said with a small wry grin, "Harry would flay the flesh from their bones."
"And what can I do to help?"
"The best help you could give me would be for you to call me to speak prior to the vote."
The older woman held Harri's gaze for several moments, her eyes twinkling like mad. "I believe I can do that. As I was leaving Professor McGonagall made me aware that one of your classmates appeared to be missing. It seems that no one has seen Miss Malfoy since before breakfast this morning. I don't suppose you have any idea where she might have gotten off to?"
"Professor, I can honestly say that I have no idea where Malfoy might be. I haven't seen her since yesterday." Orestes was right, deniability was a good thing.
Harry waited until Hagrid had unhitched the thestrals before climbing down from the top of the carriage, canceling the disillusionment charm as he did so. He needed to find his way to the hearing room to be there if his twin needed him.
"Oh crap on a crumpet kid, what are you doing here?"
Harry turned to find a blue haired man in a red cloak staring at him. "Auror Tonks right?" he asked. "I'm here for my twin's custody hearing. Will you be kidnapping me today?"
"Merlin, no! I still get abuse for how the four of you took us all out. I was just surprised to see you here." the Auror held out his hands in feigned surrender. I was heading to the hearing as well, mind if I join you?"
Harry shrugged. "Why not?" He started following the red robed Auror through the rabbit warren that made up the Ministry of Magic. "Why are you attending the hearing? Are you working security?"
"No," Tonks answered. "I just got off shift, I'm here for Harri. She's a cousin... I guess you are too, sort of." He led Harry to a pair of seats in the high balcony of the gallery. "So," he asked as he sat and gestured for Harry to join him, "are you still pissed?"
"I was," Harry admitted. "Then I found out that Lokabrenna is a poodle and I laughed my ass off, after that I was ok. What's with your hair?"
"Oh, the color? I'm a Metamorphmagus, I can change how I look, hair color, like that."
"So you were the several men with Billie Weasley at the fun fair?" Harry asked. "That would be cool, I guess."
"It has it's moments, though having a date ask you to look like someone else gets old pretty quick. Why aren't you in school?"
"The same reason that you aren't going home after getting off your shift."
"Ah," Tonks said, understanding the answer. Still one thing bothered her, "so, why did you find Lokabrenna's poodle funny? Poodles are horrible vicious beasts."
Harry's only answer was to start giggling until he could no longer speak.
Dumbledore banged her gavel bringing the chambers of the Wiccegamot to silence. "We open this special session of the Wiccegamot to deal with the appointing of aguardian for Harriet Potter, also known as The Girl Who Lived. This motion was put forward by the honorable Lucile Malfoy at our last session, when she suggested that her family take custody of young Harriet. I note that the Malfoys are not in attendance for this session, which causes me to assume that they are withdrawing their bid." The ancient witch paused for a moment, her eyes twinkling. "Since the last session I have been told that twenty four families have put forward their offer of hearth and home for our young charge, news that warms my heart. Before our deliberations on this important matter can start however, Miss Potter has requested a chance to address the Wiccegamot. Miss Potter?"
Harriet stood from where she had been seated and approached the speakers lectern, concentrating on how Luna and Orestes said she should conduct herself.. She gripped the lapels of her formal robes and gave them a quick tug to ensure that the proper image was presented, drew a breath and began to speak. "Dryhtcwén Dumbledore, Honored members of the Wiccegamot. I thank you for this opportunity to speak before you. I am Harriet Jane Potter, head of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter, and I stand before you today awaiting your judgement as to who should be my guardian for the next five hundred and sixty nine days until I reach my majority."
"In the past, within living memory of some of the individuals in this chamber, I would have been emancipated on my thirteenth birthday, with a regent assigned from my family’s retainers to assist me in making my way through to adulthood, but as we all know, those times are past, and despite the momentary advantage such a system would offer me, I believe the current law to be superior. What concerns me today, and the reason I asked to speak to you, are some of the families that are competing to become my guardians."
The Wiccegamot chamber was silent as Harri took a sip from the glass of water that the charmed lectern provided. "Among the families offering me a home are families tainted by association with the Dark Lady Riddle and her Death Eaters, including, or perhaps especially, the original sponsor of this proposal, Lucile Malfoy."
The chamber erupted into furor at the accusation.
"How dare you?" one voice among many shouted. "How dare you insult the honor of a noted pure blood family like the Malfoys?"
Luna had warned that there would be those shouting from the galleries at this point, and made sure Harri had what she called ‘proper responses’ ready. Orestes disapproved of these responses, but didn’t have better suggestions. Harriet fixed the speaker with a glare. "And you are sir?"
"I am Delos Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic."
"Senior Undersecretary?" Harri directed her attention to the Minister of Magic. "Really Minister, if you could please keep your office boy quiet? One would think that you would have your ‘Senior Undersecretaries’ properly trained as to keep quiet in the presence of their betters."
A choking sound came from the infuriated Umbridge. Luna was right, Harri mused, abusing the idiots was fun.
"Since the return of the Dark Lady Riddle in May of last year, she and her minions have attacked the house of Potter four separate times. The latest was of course the Boxing day attack on the Publisher of the Quibbler. An attack led by Orion LeStrange, the brother of Lucile Malfoy's husband."
"Libel!" Umbridge screamed. "How dare you lie about..."
"Mr. Umbridge," Harri said wondering if Luna had paid the man to cooperate with the abuse of the Malfoy family, since he was hitting the cues so readily, "The fact that Orion LeStrange is the brother of Narcissus Malfoy is a matter of public record. The Family Black of their generation is well known. Further I find it a bit disturbing that a 'Senior Undersecretary' to the Minister does not seem to know the difference between libel and slander, both of which would require me to be lying, and I am not. Minister Fudge, just how low are the requirements for service in your office? I fear for the continuation of our way of life when a public servant in your government not to know that 'libel' involves the written word."
Harri once again addressed the assembly. "The House of Potter has been attacked by Death Eaters multiple times. I would suggest to this august body that the fact that Lucile Malfoy has the Dark Mark tattoo on her arm would be enough to disqualify her from being my guardian."
"As I recall," Almanzo Bones said from his seat next to the Minister, "Lucile was acquitted of all charges."
"True," Harri admitted, "and I'm sure that the generous donation to Minister Bagnold's office had absolutely nothing to do with that acquittal. But the fact remains that if her story is to be believed, she has demonstrated herself to be highly susceptible to the Imperius curse." Harri drew some notes from her robes. "Highly highly susceptible. Much of the Hogwarts Student body was exposed to the Imperius last year, with the permission of the Ministry of course. The average time for throwing off the Imperius was seventeen minutes. Mrs. Malfoy was reportedly held in the Dark Lady's thrall for years. This points to one of two possibilities. The first being that Lucile Malfoy is an unrepentant Death Eater who bought her way out of prison, or second, she is a weak minded fool who is highly susceptible to mind control and who could be taken over again at any time."
The door to the chamber burst open admitting Lucile and Narcissus Malfoy. Impeccably dressed, their exposed skin blotched with purple stains that resisted every glamor the pair had attempted..
"Either way, I would suggest that such a person is not an acceptable guardian. No one so demonstrably susceptible to mind control should have custody of any child, much less a ward of the Ministry. I will not be the next victim of their inability to defend their minds."
Harri paused for a moment and again sipped her water. Time for the closer. "And let us never forget the atrocity in Chudley on the third of January. Just six days ago, more than five hundred magicals dead, people from every purity status recognized by the ministry, from first Generation to Purebloods, lost because the Dark Lady decided to throw a temper tantrum over the loss of her head murderer Orion LeStrange. Willingly or not, those who wear the Dark Mark Tattoo on their left arms aided the Dark Lady in her designs. Do not aid them in any more betrayal. Thank you."
Harriet returned to her chair and sat, smiling pleasantly at the furious Umbridge. No, she decided, the man was definitely not someone planted by Luna
"Cornelia!" Umbridge spat as he stormed into the Minister's private office. "How could you allow that jumped up half blood to speak to me like that?"
"What was I supposed to do Delos?" Cornelia Fudge asked. "You violated protocol from the first time you opened your mouth. You know full well that you had no standing to address a Head of House like you did, teen aged half blood or not."
"She called me an 'Office Boy!'"
"She did, and she correctly pointed out that you don't know the difference between slander and libel, or what either of them mean," Fudge said calmly. "And you would have gotten far worse if you had done what you did to any other Head of House. If it had been anyone else, you and I would not be having this conversation because the Head you insulted would have insisted on your being sacked, and I would have had no choice in the matter. You let your mouth outrun your brain Delos, and now you need to calm down and take your lumps. If you want to be taken seriously out here with the big girls, you've got to have the rocks to take it like a woman."
"I'm going to destroy that little fool."
"No, Delos, you're going to do nothing. Politically, Harriet Potter is more valuable to me that you are. As long as the Dark Lady is killing people, Potter will remain valuable to me. You cannot touch her."
Umbridge stormed from the office, furious at the lack of support he was receiving from the Minister, to whom he had devoted the best years of his life. The Potter girl was untouchable? Fine. There was the Potter boy... A smile crossed his lips. The Potter boy had no such protections.
Harry made his way back to Hogwarts with Tonks' help. He tumbled out of the floo in the Hogshead Pub, and rushed out the door, running up the road to the castle, where he was met at the gate by the Headmistress.
"Good Evening Mr. Potter. I was wondering when you would return. Your company on the flight back would have been pleasant. Given your choice to ride atop the carriage on the way to London had me wondering if you were simply avoiding me."
"Oh," Harry was almost struck dumb in surprise. "So, you noticed me then?" he asked sheepishly.
"When you get to be my age," the woman said starting a brisk pace toward the castle, "you learns to make up for failing faculties by paying close attention to the world around you. Your 'notice me not' charm was top notch, but the warming charms caused a slight fog to rise from your reclining form. It is usually the small details that trip you up."
"If you knew I was there, why did you allow me to come along?"
"Your sister was going before a custody hearing," Dumbledore shugged, "where else should you have been?"
"Thank you Headmistress."
"Indeed it has been quite a trying day for Professor McGonagall, he had to deal with two missing students."
"Yourself of course, that was my fault, it seems I quite forgot to inform him that you had been given permission to accompany your sister and myself to London for the Hearing, and Thubani Malfoy."
"Malfoy was missing?"
"Indeed," Dumbledore said as they reached the door leading into the castle's Entry Hall, she was found only an hour ago, the victim of a terrible prank. She was petrified, disillusioned and hanging on the inside of the door to my office like a cloak. Imagine that. She blames you for some reason. Her parents are quite concerned. However since you were with me, I explained that there is no possibility of that being an accurate accusation."
"Thank you for that Headmistress."
"Your sister is spending the next few days with the Diggorys so that their wards can be upgraded to their utmost. You know, an interesting experiment just occurred to me... what would happen if you were to attempt entry to a place your sister is keyed into? Hmm. Something for another time. I trust you will be notifying young Harriet's friends of her new arrangements?"
"I certainly will Headmistress."
"Good. Good," Dumbledore hesitated for a moment. "Harry, like you I ended up fighting in a war against a powerful dark witch, and there were times in that war when I was forced to do things that were distasteful."
"Yes Headmistress?" Harry asked respectfully.
"While I can understand that somethings might seem... useful in certain circumstances, I trust that nothing like today will happen again?"
It did not take a genius to figure out that the old Witch was referring to what happened to Malfoy. "I cannot promise that Headmistress, just as you can't."
"Children should not be used..."
"I quite agree," Harry interrupted. "Children should not be used, but they are being used. The child in question never hesitates to describe the fate that the Dark Lady has in store for my sister, and how she will be there to laugh. I have been quite unsubtle with both the young lady in question and her parents, letting them know just what I would do to protect the only family I've ever had, yet they keep coming after my sister."
"The Malfoys have no choice at this point."
"There is always a choice Headmistress, always. Let us speak hypothetically. You hypothetically found Thubani Malfoy alive because her parents failed in their bid to take custody of my sister. Had they won, I would have spent tonight getting her back, and they would have received their daughter in several small packages."
"Of course. As you pointed out, this is a war. People are going to die. I'm going to make sure that it is the other side that does the dying." Harry drew himself up to his full height. "Harri would do the same for me."
"Harry," the old woman said with a sigh, "it saddens me when a gentle innocent soul such as yourself feels that he must behave in a manner outside his nature. You don't need to emulate your dimensional twin to be accepted here."
Harry just stared at the woman for several moments, then seemingly reaching a decision, he suddenly moved and was behind the witch with her wand in his hand before Dumbledore could blink. Harry moved into his training routine, with combat magic flashing for his wand, lighting up the face of the castle. Dumbledore concentrated on moving into the accelerated time frame, only then could she follow the pattern the boy was in, and appreciate the destructive magic he was expending.
The display went on for five full minutes in real time before the boy flashed to a stop directly in front of the Headmistress, not even out of breath. He extended Dumbledore's wand. "I borrowed your wand so that you wouldn't interfere with my pattern of exercises Professor. I defended Luna and myself against five Death Eaters, I taught one of your blood purist teachers not to attack a Potter, I fought against two senior members of your Order, and won, I fought and defeated Orion LeStrange and three Death Eaters at the Lovegood home, I can do this accelerated thing that Professor Moody says only the most powerful can do, and you still see me as some kind of fragile flower who needs to hide behind my dimensional twin. What do I need to do to convince you that I will do what I need to do to protect the family I've found here?"
Dumbledore accepted her wand with a trembling hand. Harry turned on his heel and entered the castle.
The Headmistress stood staring at the space that the dimensional traveler had vacated for several seconds, when turned and entered the castle. She made her way through the castle ignoring everyone she encountered, up seven floors to her office.
The Gargoyle moved aside as she approached and she started up the moving stairs.
"Something bothering you Blanche?" Anastasia Moody asked from the shadows of the office.
The Headmistress ignored her old friend and went directly to her desk. From the third drawer on the left she pulled an unopened bottle of Ogden's Finest and two glasses. The bottle was opened with a gesture and Dumbledore poured three fingers of fire whisky into both glasses. Setting down the bottle, she lifted the glass and tipped it back into her mouth, sitting heavily in her chair as the trademark flames appeared.
Refilling her glass, she repeated the previous evolution.
"Problem Blanche?" Moody asked again, reaching across the desk to get the untouched glass.
Filling her glass a third time the Headmistress looked up at her old friend. "The Potter boy... he can accelerate."
"I know," Moody said. "I told you that months ago."
"How..." she drained the glass. Having one's world view shifted evidently cause a great thirst. "How long can he go?"
"I've seen him go for more than an hour before exhaustion sets in. The girl can do it too."
Blanche Dumbledore then said the only thing that seemed to fit the situation. "Bloody Hell."