The Last Battle has been fought, and Harry Potter has won. The price, however, has been high. Nearly every person Harry cared for is dead, maimed, or otherwise injured. The magical culture of ...
Harry requested a stack of Muggle legal pads and, except for meals and walking and flying around the protected property, spent Sunday through Thursday morning working on an outline of events. He wanted to make certain he wrote down as many details as he could before they became even more distant. Remus was sent to a Muggle town to buy Harry a decent Muggle wardrobe, while Diggle supplied a new broom and seven years worth of school texts, so that Harry could review over the up-coming year. Harry had also requested the beginning books for Runes and Arithmancy, since he was determined NOT to take Divination.
Just at dawn Tuesday morning, the dementors of Azkaban all felt a horrible brightness, which they both hated and could not explain. Nor could they explain what had happened to one of their prisoners, Sirius Black.
When Percy Weasley woke up a few hours later, his pet rat was missing. Everyone, especially his terror-and-havoc creating twin brothers, denied any knowledge of the theft. His head of House promised an investigation.
Two hours after that, tipped off by Bertha Jorkins, whose memory had suddenly been restored, aurors broke into the house of Barty Crouch.
The Daily Prophet would have huge headlines when the news hit Thursday morning.
Thursday, June 28, 1990
"Harry! Could you fly down here?" Remus shouted.
Harry directed his Nimbus 1920 down to his 'co-guardian'. "What's up?" Harry asked. "It can't be time for lunch yet!" He had more notes to write.
"Actually, we're having a buffet," Remus answered.
Remus merely jerked his thumb towards the house, where a large-but-thin black dog was sitting near the back down, his tongue lolling.
Harry leaned over his broom, sending it shooting off. He braked by doing a combination back-loop and barrel roll, almost falling off the broom and onto the dog. "Sirius!"
Sirius transformed back and hugged Harry. "Hi, Harry," he managed. "Err, nice to see you again." He frowned. "You remember me?"
Harry let Sirius go. "Let me guess, no one explained to you what happened?" he asked with a sigh.
Sirius shrugged. "Two days ago, at dawn, a phoenix appeared in my cell and flew me away. I was dropped in some dingy cell and given a decent meal and a potion to help keep my nerves steady. That afternoon, I appeared at what I had thought might be my trial, so they could send me to the dementors. Instead, it was Wormtail's . . . he. . . ."
"I know who, and what, he is," Harry said. "Go on."
"Oh." Sirius scratched his head. "I have to admit, I'm more than a bit confused. I gather that old Barty Crouch is in trouble, and that was all mixed in with what is going on. Anyway, the trial lasted through yesterday afternoon, but I ate and slept through most of it. I do know that I'm pardoned, I'm a legal animagus, and that I'm going to be spending time with you and Moony here." Remus had now joined them.
"If you think you're confused now, just wait until Harry here tells you his story," Remus drawled.
"Yeah?" Sirius dared, "prove it!"
Thirty minutes later, Sirius was indeed stunned. "How bad was it for you, Harry?"
"It was bad enough that I'm here," Harry answered.
"And I died?"
"I have a connection to Voldemort," Harry answered. He looked at Dumbledore, who would be leaving after lunch to go back to the Ministry. "Tell them about the Horcruxes," Harry said. "I can't tell what needs to be told without at least referring to them."
Dumbledore frowned, but did so briefly, which still took ten minutes.
"So you think Voldemort split his soul five times?" Remus asked at the end.
"He split it five times intentionally," Harry put in, speaking for the first time since Dumbledore had started. "He doesn't realize that he succeeded the sixth time when he was disembodied. Because of my connection to him, I can easily destroy a Horcrux. When the Professor destroyed one, he nearly lost his wand-hand to a hidden ward, and it was blackened and withered for the last year of his life. We can go into that soon."
Harry drank some pumpkin juice, and then went back to his original story. "Anyway, because of what happened that Halloween night, I have this connection to Voldemort. He realized this during my first welcoming feast at Hogwarts."
"How?" Sirius asked.
"This summer, the Defense professor is going over to eastern Europe on a year's sabbatical," Harry answered. "At some point, he encountered Voldemort and allowed himself to be possessed. So, Voldemort was there that night." He turned back to Dumbledore. "They know about your spy, right?"
"Harry," Dumbledore almost begged.
"Severus Snape was a Death Eater. . . ." Harry started.
"I knew it!" Sirius crowed.
". . . but he betrayed Voldemort to help the Order of the Phoenix," Harry went on. "After Voldemort was reembodied, he played Snape's ego masterfully. He convinced Snape that he had only learned of our connection right before Christmas my Fifth year. The Headmaster was already afraid of the link, and had been avoiding me for six months, so he sent Snape to teach me Occlumency. Snape had been abusing me. . . ."
"Harry!" Dumbledore protested.
"He was over the line from the first day in class," Harry snapped. "If you wish, bring in your pensieve and I'll be glad to show you the memories of little things, like his deliberately destroying my potions just so he could keep my grade low." He turned back to Sirius. "So, in large part due to Snape, but also partially because of me, I not only failed to learn Occlumency but the lessons made me even more open to Voldemort's mind. You had escaped Azkaban during the summer before my Third year. Your mother had died. . . ."
"She died a few months ago," Aberforth put in.
"So, your house was serving at the Headquarters for the Order. I was sent a vision of your being tortured in the Hall of Prophecies. The Headmaster had been driven out of Hogwarts by the Ministry, and so I and five friends very foolishly went off to rescue you after your mother's house elf had lied to me and said you were gone. In reality, he had injured a pet of yours and you and Moony were simply out of the room when I fire-called."
Harry shrugged. "It was a trap. We managed to get away from the twelve Death Eaters waiting for us, but they were slowly hunting us down. I think it was down to two of us against seven or so of them when you three and few others came to the rescue. You dueled your cousin Bellatrix, and, well. . . ."
"Bellatrix beat me?" Sirius demanded, outraged.
"Well, you had been cooped up and drinking heavily for a year," Harry retorted.
"That won't happen THIS time!" Sirius vowed.
"Hopefully, we can avoid most if not all of those circumstances," Dumbledore agreed. He turned to Harry. "I have managed to divert Professor Quirrell to South America for his research. However, should Voldemort encounter anyone compatible, he will possess them and make an attempt on the Philosopher's Stone. We must beware, and not be misled by your previous experiences."
"Right," Harry said disdainfully, knowing this referred to Snape as much as anyone or anything else.
"Now, Harry, what and where are the Horcruxes," Dumbledore asked, almost begged, for this was the information which mattered most to him.
"We can easily get at three of them," Harry replied. "Voldemort is an heir to Salazar Slytherin. His grandfather was Marvolo Gaunt. One of the Horcruxes is Slytherin's ring, which is in the Gaunt's shack. You know where that is."
Dumbledore played the innocent. "I do?"
"You showed me the memory of it," Harry retorted. "Be careful when you retrieve it. That's what cursed your hand."
"I shall be careful," Dumbledore had to agree.
"The second Slytherin Horcrux is even more available," Harry went on. He turned to Sirius. "Believe it or not, your brother stole it, and died from the effort. Slytherin's locket is in one of the downstairs rooms of Grimmauld Place."
"Regulus? Really?" Sirius had ready looked stunned.
"Really. Regulus turned on Voldemort, stole the locket, and died while hiding it. We didn't know that, and the Headmaster and I went through hell getting what turned out to be a faux Horcrux. The Headmaster was poisoned and I wasn't much better off. That's how he ended up being trapped and murdered."
"Snape did it, didn't he?" Sirius snarled at Dumbledore. "If he wasn't betraying you, then he was sacrificing you to get closer to Voldemort."
"Exactly," Harry said. "It didn't work; Voldemort knew all along what Snape was up to. Given the choice between death and subservience, Snape went along. He and the Lestranges were captured and executed in April. I'm not saying Snape is as bad as, say, Lucius Malfoy," (Sirius snorted) "but he doesn't deserve the trust you gave him, Headmaster, and don't expect me to."
Harry and Dumbledore glared at each other, quite a sight, considering the huge difference in their physical ages.
"Tell us more about the Horcruxes," Remus said quietly.
"Right," Harry said. "The third Horcrux we can easily get at is at Godric's Hollow. My father had a dagger that belonged to Godric Gryffindor. Even though he did not succeed in killing me, Voldemort did make that into a Horcrux. You need to have those three collected so I can destroy them."
"And the other three?" Aberforth asked.
"Helga Hufflepuff's cup is hidden in the mountains outside of Hogwarts. I can get there through the Chamber of Secrets, but that means getting past the basilisk. It will have to be done, but I'd rather do it after taking care of the other three. The remaining two we cannot get at. Voldemort has one with him in Albania. He fed a healing gem owned by Ravenclaw to a viper, which mutated it into quite a nasty, dangerous creature. I don't know if he's done it already, but I suspect he has. The final Horcrux, which was actually the first one he created, was the magical diary he created while at Hogwarts. It possessed a First year, and at the end, the diary had drawn so much life force from her she nearly died. That enabled an avatar to walk in the Chamber of Secrets, until I destroyed it and the diary."
"And who has the diary now?" Moody demanded.
"Lucius Malfoy." The group fell silent.
After a few moments, Harry asked, "Were you able to keep Percy Weasley's name quiet?"
"Yes," Diggle answered. "Fortunately, Arthur had registered the animal as having been found in the Ministry. No one will blame him for taking it home, because it wasn't his responsibility to test it beyond determining it wasn't ill."
"What happened to Wormtail?" Harry asked.
"He has already been Kissed," Dumbledore said.
"You know, you were right about one important thing," Harry told Dumbledore.
"I'm glad to hear it," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling for the first time in some days. "About what?"
"The dementors deserted to Voldemort at the end of my Fifth year. They caused the most problems over the next two years. The few remaining giants joined him as well. You might consider sending personal envoys now. When you sent Hagrid and Madam Maxime from Beauxbatons during the summer after my Fourth year, Voldemort already had envoys make deals with them."
"Certainly an idea worth considering," Aberforth pointed out.
"Is there anything else we should know today?" Moody asked. "Any security risks?"
"Oh, Rita Skeeter," Harry said.
"The hack reporter? How is she particularly a problem?" Diggle asked.
"She's an illegal animagus, a beetle," Harry said. "Not that I should complain about that now."
"I'm not illegal anymore!" Sirius protested. He grimaced. "That cost me a suit for false imprisonment."
"Nonsense," Diggle said. "I told you I got you a settlement. I know money cannot make up for what was done to you, but it is the best I could do."
"I know, Ded," Sirius agreed. "You got me a decent deal."
"Why else can't you complain about illegal animagi, Harry?" Remus asked, drawing everyone's eyes.
Harry smiled, and suddenly there was a large bear cub in Harry's chair. He switched back. "Does that give you a hint?"
The revelations of late June continued to echo. Barty Crouch Junior was returned to Azkaban, and his father was forced into early retirement. Unfortunately, this also meant that Cornelius Fudge was more firmly entrenched as Minister (Crouch had led the major group within the Ministry which had been opposed to Fudge), and Fudge's assistant Umbridge jumped up two levels within the Ministry.
Sirius went and reclaimed his family dwelling, although grumbling loudly the whole time. He agreed to put it under very heavy wards (although he refused to use the Fidelius), and sent Kreacher as a present to his cousin Narcissa. At Harry's suggestion, Sirius also negotiated the purchase of Dobby from Lucius Malfoy in exchange for many of the hereditary heirlooms of the House of Black, which Sirius didn't want anyway (such as his mother's portrait and the family tapestry) and Harry also arranged to purchase Winky from Crouch. Draco Malfoy, however, had to formally change his name to Draco Black-Malfoy, although he was usually still just known as Draco Malfoy. Draco was also named as a co-heir (Harry being the other) to the Black estate, should Sirius never have a child.
On the one hand, this could mean that Draco would again consider Harry his enemy. On the other, it also gave Sirius some parental rights over Draco, and although Sirius quickly decided he did not like his young cousin, he would manage to hide his feelings fairly well over the next year as he made visits at least once a week (often three times) to the boy.
As June moved into July and through the month, Remus underwent his first change since Harry and Sirius had reentered his life and Harry went on a shopping trip to Muggle Taunton and studied. When questioned about his birthday, however, Harry had an unusual request, which, after much debate, Dumbledore and the others decided could be risked.
Tuesday, July 31, 1990
"You're nervous this morning," Remus observed.
Although Sirius was now technically Harry's guardian, Harry, to his surprise, was becoming closer to Remus. In part, this was because Sirius was still very much recovering from his time in Azkaban and was busy overseeing his own and Harry's fortunes (which had been left in trust throughout Harry's previous life) and in working with Draco Malfoy. Remus was able to devote himself to Harry.
"I am," Harry agreed.
"Because I was so close to Neville and especially Ron, and now I don't know if I can make those connections," Harry answered.
"And Ernie and Anthony?"
"I wasn't close to any of the other Full-Blood boys other than Ron and Neville," Harry answered, "but Ernie was a big help at times if pompous. Anthony was always quiet, but always in the background, ready to help. I didn't know the others well." He shrugged. "Too bad we couldn't get to Seamus or Dean."
"Dean hasn't had his letter, of course, and so he knows nothing of the magical world," Remus agreed. "Seamus' family is also living more as Muggles."
"Master Harry?" Winky asked coming up to them, "youse clothes is being ready."
"Thank you, Winky," Harry said. "I'll be ready to go on time."
For Harry's birthday, Sirius had arranged for Ron, Neville, Anthony Goldstein, and Ernie Macmillian to come to Grimmauld Place, the premise being since they would all be year mates at Hogwarts, they should meet. Sirius also told their parents (and Neville's grandmother) that it was time to introduce Harry to some of his magical peers.
Sirius had hoped to introduce Draco to Harry, but after his first few meetings realized that his cousin might never be ready to meet anyone his own age as an equal. He certainly wasn't ready yet. Therefore, he had spent the morning with Harry and Remus, and had left to spend the rest of the day with Draco. While he hoped to influence Draco, Lucius was of course trying to influence Sirius.
Ron, Neville, Anthony, and Ernie arrived at Grimmauld Place by escort around 11:00. Remus met them, and they took a port key to the Dumbledore's without being told where they were going.
The five appeared at the side of the cottage. Harry was there to greet them, and even though he had been dealing with his own age for over a month, it was still a bit of a shock to see Ernie, Ron, and Neville, who had grown very robust and muscular, and in Ron and Anthony's cases very tall as well, as these youngsters. Still, the four had fun playing gob stones and exploding snap with Harry before having a nice lunch followed by huge servings of ice cream and cake. Harry was amused to see that Ron already sported the appetite that had made him famous.
After lunch, Harry suggested flying. Ernie and Ron quickly got involved in a game of flying tag, while Harry ended up coaching Antony as well as Neville on how to fly. This was calculated on Harry's part, who hoped he would be able to coach Neville out of his shell earlier than the end of his Fifth year this time. By the time the children left, Anthony was comfortable on the broom, and Neville was close.
All four boys, especially Neville, had been apprehensive about meeting the legendary Boy-Who-Lived. They went home slightly impressed by Harry, but more they had decided that Harry was, at heart, just a boy like themselves. Each was certain they had made a friend in Harry, and with each other.
Harry was exhausted by the time they had left. It had not been easy acting down to their level, but he was glad he had taken the time and made the effort. Ron and Neville had been his loyal friends the first time around. He knew he would need their friendship this time as well, although hopefully only to help him cover anything Harry might have to do to fight Voldemort and keep that information away from the other students. Ernie and Anthony had grown into the leaders of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, and Harry wanted a friend in those Houses if he could earn them.
He did rather regret that there wasn't a Slytherin he could have invited as well, but he remembered how the Slytherin boys of his year had acted.