Harry speaks to Arabella, Dumbley tries to eliminate a loose thread, Dudley gets into a fight, and some Deez get hurt. Spies and cover-ups. Some Deez make a good decision...at the wrong time. ...
A knock at her door had Arabella Figg sweating bullets. Dumbledore had arrived in Little Whinging soon after Harry and that woman had departed. Dumbledore had taken her memories of the press conference and departed, without so much as a ‘thank you’. While Arabella Figg was a squib, she was as intelligent as any witch, and more so than most. She knew that Dumbledore was keeping huge secrets from nearly everybody, including the Order. Having studied the great man over the past years, she’d discovered that he wasn’t as bright and shiny as he made out. With a little investigation into his past, and more importantly, his past associations, and some applied logic, she’d worked out that his impending plans for the wizarding world and the greater world as well, were far less benign than he’d let on. She knew that now that Harry was away from his control, Dumbledore’s ‘greater good’ had no further use for her. In short, she was expendable.
She greatly feared the knock at her door, was her impending execution.
Knowing she had no escape, she decided to face her death with the dignity of her ancestors. She shuffled to the door and opened it.
The man standing there, was the very last person she’d expected. Harry stood on her front step, wearing a brown robe over a tan outfit with a heavy belt and boots. A silver and black cylinder hung from the belt.
“Hello, Mrs. Figg. We have to get you out of here, and I mean now!” Harry pushed his way past the old woman and into her home. He rushed to the fireplace, and cast a spell to seal off her floo. Done that, he called out: “Winky!” Immediately, a house elf, appeared before him. He gave her instructions to grab every elf that wasn’t doing something critical and bring them here to pack up Mrs. Figg’s house. Winky nodded her head and vanished.
“Harry, What’s going on?” the old squib asked.
“Oh, Sorry.” Harry flushed. “Mrs. Figg, Dumbledore no longer needs you to spy on me. Since you’re a loose end he can’t afford, he’s going to be sending someone soon, probably Snape, to clip that end. I can prevent that. He can’t find you where I am, and so, you’ll be safe there.”
“But what about the…” She meant the Dursleys, but remembered his speech of the previous week and understood Harry’s antipathy toward them.
“They’ll be safe enough. When I rebuilt the house, I had the Goblins include a warding package into its basic construction. Since the ward-stones are in the concrete of the foundation itself, those wards are nearly impregnable. What’s more, for certain witches and wizards, those wards are lethal.
“You mean…?” Arabella gasped in shock. Like Dumbledore, she disliked killing, but unlike the old man, she understood tat sometimes it was necessary.
“Mmmhmm. If anyone wearing the dark mark enters the wards, that person will die. Simple as that. Graswold’s crew will come and collect the body or bodies and take them to Gringotts to feed ‘em to the dragons. Nice and neat, hunh? No muss, no fuss.”
Arabella had to agree. On the other hand, this new Harry was nearly as frightening as Dumbledore. He was a natural leader, very nearly a force of nature, and in his eyes, she saw the absolute conviction of his path. Dumbledore had once shown that same conviction. Somewhere along the line, Dumbledore had lost it. Harry still had it, but having seen how Albus had been corrupted, she feared for Harry’s soul.
He interrupted hr musings.
“Now, do you want to live?”
“Yes.” She replied in a soft voice. “Very much so.”
“Then come with me.”
Arabella agreed immediately, and within minutes, three dozen house elves had arrived. They scoured the place from top to bottom, removing the more than thirty tracking and monitoring charms Dumbledore had placed on his pawn and her belongings…including her Kneazles. They packed everything up and vanished with the faintest of pops.
A portkey later and Harry and Arabella vanished in a swirl of light.
Albus Dumbledore arrived less than ten minutes later. As soon as his monitoring charms had shown his errant pawn had arrived at the squib’s house, he’d rushed to his floo, intending to burst in and take the boy…by force if necessary. He landed on his arse when the floo spat him back out. Furious, he rushed from his office, toward the great front doors of the castle.
Unfortunately for him, he’d departed before Harry had called for the elves, and headmaster or not, no one could apparate within the wards of Hogwarts. He’d had to rush through the castle and across the grounds to the ward-line, before he could apparate.
He completely forgot about the disillusioned broomstick by the great oak doors, that he’d placed there for just that purpose.
Racing as fast as he could up the path, he cast a Reducto on the front door. That would make a satisfactory diversion and he could capture the stupid child easily. The door exploded with a satisfactory bang, sending shards of wood every which way.
He burst through the remains of the door to find a sparkling clean and utterly empty house.
His shriek of rage, had the neighbors wondering if a large animal had just been horribly killed.
Pops around the house sounded and a dozen Aurors appeared with their wands drawn and ready. Constance Hammer led the team.
Albus found himself having to do some fast talking. He could have defeated them, but they knew he’d been there and if he tried, one could call for reinforcements while the others fought with him. Instead, he used his natural talent for misdirection and obfuscation to ease his way out of trouble.
What he didn’t know, was that there was another member of the Auror team watching, and recording everything he said and did.
Apparently satisfied, the Aurors repaired the door and returned to the ministry, to submit their reports, while the fuming Albus, apparated to the Leaky Cauldron for a large bottle of Old Ogden’s, Gold Label. He was going to need it!
Buying it took his last Galleon.
The dance was fun. Dudley had never danced before, and his father had eschewed the idea as completely unnecessary once a man was married, but it was fun. He looked like a complete arse doing it, but it was fun. Marissa’s brilliant smile told him she was having the time of her life too.
Both were sweaty and breathing hard from the activity, and so, decided to grab some punch and take a walk in the cold air.
Several other couples had had the same idea, and the church’s chaperons were kept busy keeping them from getting ‘too friendly’.
They were just heading back through the large double doors of the gym when the masked wizards appeared in an outward-facing circle. Hearing the pops of apparation, Dudley whirled his hand accidentally striking Marissa and flinging her into a wall. She struck her head and fell senseless to the ground.
The terrorists raised their wands as one and shouted: “Avada Kedavra!” Sixteen people ranging from an old man of eighty-seven, to a child of four, fell lifeless to the frozen earth of Stonewall High’s large front garden. Screams of fear, rang out into the frigid night. People dove behind things in a vain attempt to protect themselves. Not so Dudley Dursley.
“Marissa!” he screamed, as he saw his only friend lying on the path. Unlike the muggles, he knew what the killing curse was.
“You motherfucker!” Dudley howled in rage, his fist slamming into the nearest white mask, shattering the large Roman nose behind it. Severus Snape flew backward nearly fifteen feet, and he lay there, stunned and bleeding. Another Death Eater lifted his wand and sneered: “Cruci…” He got no further, because Dudley had moved in close and snatched the wand from his hand.
“Stupid child, you are a filthy muggle! You cannot possibly use that!”
“No?” Dudley snarled. “Watch!” He shoved the stick as hard as he could into the Death Eater’s stomach, lifting the black-robed murderer from the ground. The tip of the man’s wand actually protruded several inches from his back before Dudley let him fall to die in agony. Whip-fast, he spun, reached out, and he grabbed two more of the shocked terrorists by the necks and slammed their heads together as hard as he could! Both fell with fractured skulls.
Snape looked on in shock as his comrades fell to a lunatic muggle. He’d seen Dudley before, but he never expected him to be this effective in a fight. To him, Dudley was a fat, unwieldy, and unprepared muggle, just waiting to be killed. Here, the youngest Dursley proved him more than wrong.
“Who’s next?” Dudley advanced on the Deez, his face filled with madness. For the first time in many years, the Death Eaters were terrified of a ‘mere’ muggle. In a matter of seconds, he’d either killed or rendered unconscious, four of their fellows. The dark lord was not going to like this, no, not at all!’
“Avada Kedavra!” A wand spat green death. Dudley crouched under the spell, and came back up fighting. Two swift punches and a devastating roundhouse to the head, and another Death Eater died, his neck broken from the impact. He yanked the dying man’s body upright and spun in a tight circle before releasing the terrorist. The dead murderer flew into a group of five others, knocking them down like ten-pins. He followed them, intending to do as much damage as possible before they got him. There was no way in hell he was going to allow these bastards to kill any more people!
He’d just grabbed another Masked wizard by the throat, preparing to remove his head, when a snarled: “Crucio!” came from behind. Suddenly Dudley felt like he was being boiled alive. Every nerve in his body was being seared with liquid fire. The curse was enough to force his hand to contract around his victim’s neck, crushing his trachea. Dudley still managed to stagger for a moment before he fell, screaming in agony. Snape held the torture curse, not knowing that he’d doomed this mission and more than a few of his fellows.
The Death Eaters gathered around his screaming, spasming body.
“He’s dared to harm the master’s servants!” Snape growled. “Kill him now!”
Pops around the area, informed all that the cavalry had arrived. Instantly, bludgeoning, piercing and cutting curses aimed at the Death Eaters filled the area. No mere stunners here! Within seconds, five more terrorists fell, dead or dying, before the rest, including Severus Snape, portkeyed away. The last thing Snape did before he vanished, was cast the killing curse toward Dudley.
He missed. The curse struck the Death Eater with the crushed trachea, ending his suffering.
Carolyn Chapman approached the fallen with trepidation. She’d been in the squad room with Kingsley, discussing the new regulations Amelia had placed in effect, when the alert went off, and so had invited herself along. Shacklebolt was aware of her reputation, and gladly allowed her to accompany them.
Kingsley ensured his men had their wands in their hands as they apparated into the scene. He wouldn’t be making that mistake again, no sir, he would not! The arse chewing he’d received from, first Amelia Bones, and then Alastor Moody, the last time he’d done that, was enough to last him for many years, thank you very much!
When they arrived the scene was chaos, but she’d handled herself like a combat vet. No mere stunners here, she fought to win! He wouldn’t mind having her on his squad…not at all!
When the surviving Death Eaters had vanished, she was as professional in her triage as any Auror…until she came across the fallen Dudley, and a young woman of the same age. Dudley was clearly suffering of the effects of Cruciatus, but trying to crawl over to the body of a young woman. A young woman Carolyn knew. Marissa Gentry. Dudley’s tutor and only friend.
“Oh, Dudley.” She sighed. “You can’t catch a break, can you?” She wafted her wand and sent the young man to sleep. He’d be treated for Cruciatus exposure at St. Mungo’s and then released. As for the girl, she’d have to contact her parents and tell them Death Eaters had attacked. Though a witch, they’d chosen to home-school her. When she’d asked Marissa to help Dudley, she’d told them of the risks. She hated it, but she understood that in war, innocents often died.
Her thoughts proved to be in error as, with a pained groan, Marissa woke. “Dudley!?” She moaned. Carolyn was by her side in an instant.
“He’ll be fine, Sweetie. How are you?”
“Head.” Marissa grimaced, holding her hand to the back of her skull. Now Carolyn could see the bruise forming on Marissa’s cheek.
“Dudley hit me.”
“‘S ‘n accident.” Marssa answered sleepily. “Th’ Death Eaters came an’ ‘e spun around. He w’s ‘bout to open th’ door for me, and I guess m’head was in the way. He’s pretty strong, y’know.”
“Marissa Gentry, you are the luckiest girl this side of Hermione Granger.”
Marissa grinned, then winced.
An Auror field-healer came over…and raised his wand.
Thinking he was about to Obliviate Marissa, Carolyn shifted into his way.
“She’s a witch, and this boy is a muggle but he’s well aware of the magical world. Give her a pain relief potion would’ja.”
“I was only going to scan her.” He protested. Then with a quick wave, he did just that.
“Gonna take more than a pain potion. She’s got a concussion. How did she get it? “I’m Healer Bealle, by the way.”
“This one hit her accidentally as he turned to face the Deez.” She pointed to Dudley. “He’s been hit with the Cruciatus. He’ll need to go to St. Mungo’s.”
“Not any more. New regulations. Unless there are other, more serious injuries, we can give muggles the potion on site.” He held out a largish bottle. “Two drams every half hour until tomorrow.”
“I’ll see to it.” Carolyn took the bottle from Bealle.
He signaled for transport. Shacklebolt sent a trainee over with a portkey.
“You! What’s your name?” Bealle called.
“Auror Trainee second, Darren McGivvers, Sir!
“Well, McGivvers, this young lady is a witch placed here by the Ministry to keep an eye on this boy. He’s been hit with the Cruciatus but we can treat him here. The young lady, on the other hand, has a concussion. I want you to take her to St. Mungo’s and stay with her until they release her. If any one asks, you tell them it was under orders, from Auror Healer Bealle. Anybody tries to force you out; you stun him or her and report to me, or Shacklebolt by signal dart. Clear?”
“Yessir!” McGivvers placed the portkey in Marissa’s hand and activated it. Both vanished in a swirl of light.
“She’s a witch?” Came a shaky voice. Carolyn was startled. Bealle was shocked. Dudley shouldn’t even be awake, less aware and able to talk.
“Dudley, you just underwent the Cruciatus curse…and I put you under a sleeping charm. How are you awake?”
“I’m pretty tough.” He answered her in a raspy voice. “You set her to watch me?”
“Drink this. It’s a pain killer and will help with the shakes.” Carolyn measured out a dose of the Cruciatus potion and held it up.
Dudley didn’t drink. Instead he asked: “It won’t knock me out?”
Again, Bealle was shocked. Anyone else would be crying for relief. He could see from the tremors that coursed across Dudley’s muscles that he was still suffering the after effects of the unforgivable and yet, he didn’t drink. He answered: “No. I can give you something else for that if you want.”
“No. Thanks.” He sipped the potion and then turned his eyes to Carolyn. “Now answer my question. Did you set her on me? Was she a spy?”
“Yes, and no.”
“That’s like being a little pregnant.” Dudley snarked. “Is it yes, or is it no.”
“I asked her to keep an eye on you, Dudley…see if you needed anything, but not to spy on you. She’s actually just what she seems. She lives here. She’s a half-blood with a muggle father, but was home-schooled by her mother. She works as an intern in my office during the summer. Since she attends Stonewall anyway, I decided to ask her to help you get reacclimated and if necessary help tutor you…nothing more.
“Is she gonna be all right?”
“Yeah. She’ll be fine. She has a concussion. She’ll be back home tomorrow. That reminds me. I’ll have to talk to her parents.
“What about all the rest of these people?” Dudley insisted. “Some of them are dead! How are you gonna explain that? What’s gonna happen to them…to their families?”
Kingsley had stopped by and now, he knelt down and spoke.
“Mister Dursley, I know your cousin. He’s a good man, but he’s fighting a…” He was at a loss for words.
“A slimy terrorist bastard who wouldn’t think twice about murdering a baby?”
“Erm…yeah. That about says it.” Kingsley smiled in embarrassed surprise at Dudley’s accurate assessment. “We’re restructuring our government, but effectively it’s up to your cousin to eliminate this particular slimy terrorist, and all that. We’re doing what we can, but we are in a war and in a war…”
“People die. Even innocent people.” Dudley muttered.
“Basically yes. We usually modify memories to make it seem a natural disaster or unavoidable accident killed the victims or perhaps a gas-line explosion. That way if they have any insurance, the policy will pay off. We can’t bring back the dead, but we can treat the wounded and help to return them to their normal lives.”
“I suppose it’s better than nothing.”
“Umm…Mister Dursley, You and miss Gentry are the only non-fatal casualties. Can you me what happened here?”
“Only that those guys in black robes and opera masks appeared shouted Avada Kedavra and basically fucked up my date with Marissa!” Dudley growled. “I took out a few, and then someone hit me from behind with a cattle prod or something.”
“It’s an electrical device for herding large animals. Actually Dudley’s description of what it felt like, isn’t too far off the mark.”
“What did you mean, ‘Took out’?”
“See those guys there?” Dudley pointed to the five he’d killed.
“You did that?” Frankly Shack was astonished. Dudley was a muggle and yet, he’d managed to kill five Death Eaters, and wound at least one more, from the amount of blood a dozen feet away. “How?”
“I’m a boxer!”
Kingsley was confused. He let them know as much.
“OK, so you make boxes. How did you manage to…?” Shacklebolt broke off in confusion as Dudley began to chuckle, then to laugh. Quickly enough his laughter took on a hysterical edge so Bealle stunned him. Carolyn explained that a boxer wasn’t one who made boxes, but someone who fought with their hands.
Shacklebolt nodded his understanding. Having been an Auror for longer than Dudley had been alive, he was well familiar with several of the martial arts, but was still amazed that Dudley had managed to kill five Death Eaters with his bare hands.
The clean up took hours. Everyone in the building, had to be isolated, and memories modified to suit the circumstances. A gas explosion wouldn’t serve here, because there were so many people untouched. Due to the age of some of the victims, another plan was used. Those victims were quietly transported to their homes where they ‘died peacefully in their sleep’. It turned out the little boy who’d died, had company. His mother, father and fourteen year old sister, all died in a group. They were just leaving the dance, and the Deez saw them on the way to the car park. Obliviators carefully buckled them into their seats and then drove their car north on the M-3 toward Sunningdale, magically controlling the vehicle from broomstick until it reached an overpass. There, one of the riders, transfigured a broken open pasteboard box of large spikes on the overpass, directly in front of the car. The front left tyre shredded, sending the car over the berm and to the macadam of the A322, fifty feet below. The little Citroen exploded satisfactorily, and the bodies inside were sufficiently damaged by the fire that no real effort would be made to determine the cause of death. Since the damage to the tyre and the scattered spikes on the roadway would be plain to see, the insurance company would have no real choice but to pay the claim. Kingsley left orders to discover the identity of the adjuster and implant a suggestion into his or her head to that effect. He had a daughter of his own and understood how devastating such deaths could be to family.
Alarms rang out in Gringotts as six black robed terrorists died. Growling his irritation Graswold summoned a platoon and took them to number four Privet Drive, where they collected the bodies and returned to the bank. There, as was policy, they stripped the dead, folded the robes and masks into a shipping crate, broke the wands and sealed the whole thing for shipment to Voldemort. To be delivered on boxing day.
The bodies were sent below, to feed the dragons.
Graswold was happy to note that between the six of them, they’d carried a bit over one thousand Galleons. A profitable night, indeed!
01: 35, 22nd December, Little Hangleton:
Nine frightened men huddled in a small room, in old the manor house. They’d seen more than a dozen of their ‘friends’ killed only hours before and had decided it was time and long past time, to get the hell out. The Dark Lord promised things he couldn’t deliver and these men wanted to be away from that lunatic.
“So, it’s agreed then?”
“Yeah. If we stay, he’ll send us out on some bloody stupid mission an’ get us kill’t. This ain’t what I signed up for. He promised us wealth and power. So far we ain’t seen none. None at all. No. Instead we seen most ‘f a hundred ‘f our friends get killed…and for what? Blood purity? No. Better to have done and get the hell out before he decides we ain’t important enough to consider. ‘Member Azkaban? I unnerstand only the inner circle was got out. Th’ rest was left to rot, ‘r even worst, kilt there on th’ spot. Hell, y’ seen what he done t’ Malfoy, and Malfoy’s been in his inner circle since the first. He don’t care ‘bout Malfoy, he sure’s hell don’t care none ‘bout us!”
The decision made, nine men wearing the mark decided to leave Britain for greener pastures.
Unfortunately the decision wasn’t theirs to make. Voldemort was not a trusting soul and his Death Eaters were the type to turn in their own mothers for a chance to improve their own positions.
They walked out the door to find themselves surrounded by not less than a score of Death Eaters. A recognizable, if bruised and scarred Severus Snape was standing in front.
“Well, well, well.” Snape oiled. “You dare presume to leave the master’s service? Tch tch tch. Poor planning I’d say. The master likes having his servants. He does not, however, like traitors and deserters. Take them!”
“Fuck you, Snape!” Avada Kedavra!” A voice rang out followed by the green flash of death. The terrorists all whirled away from the viridian spell, or dropped to the ground. The curse flashed over them and struck an ancient tapestry showing the Gaunt family tree. The tapestry flared and another part of wizarding history burned from existence. Stunners flew and the nine men fell.
“Put that out!” Snape growled. A Death Eater sprayed water on the remains of the tapestry, and doused the flames before the fire could spread to the rest of the antique house.
Severus slowly walked into the midst of the downed men and, unable to locate the issuing voice, he chose one at random.
Pointing his wand at the unconscious fool he sneered: “Avada Kedavra!”
Now that his personal vengeance was done, he ordered the surrounding Death Eaters to take the fallen, strip them of wands and wealth and beat them as close to death as they could without crossing that line. The master would want that privilege for himself.
“Know this…” He warned. “Should any of them die, the one responsible for his death, will take his place.”
“All right…” Harry called out at breakfast. “Listen up!”
When he had their attention, he spoke.
“You lot, know it’s Christmas time. I’d be a real Scrooge if I kept you to the millstone, so, I’m giving you the next five days off.”
Cheers greeted his announcement.
“I’d love to give you more, but I just can’t. We don’t have the time to spare. What’s more, on the twenty-seventh, it’ll be right back to the routine. I can’t allow you lot to lose the advantage you’ve gained. If you wish to train during the next five days, you may. I will…but make sure you have a partner to watch you. And no sparring! You’re not ready for that yet.”
Grumbles came from the Weasley twins, but the rest of the group understood how dangerous unstructured sparring could be.
“On Christmas day there will be a feast, just like at Hogwarts. Candy and sweets and turkey and the like. Just don’t eat yourselves fat, K?”
Laughter filled the room.
“Dobby has asked the rest of the house-elves to help him get the presents you lot want to give. If you’ve been looking through the catalogues in the common area, you probably have a good idea by now what’s available and how much it will cost. They’ll be coming by this afternoon to see what you want to give, and take your money.”
Harry waited until the excitement had settled, before dropping his next bombshell.
“I want to invite some people over for the day to share our Christmas. Now, I can’t invite those who’ve been obliviated or have relocated to other countries, but I can invite those parents and your siblings staying here in the castle. I can also invite Mister Ollivander, Mister Lovegood, Madam Bones, Madam Longbottom, Mr. and Mrs. Tonks, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Miss Chapman and Molly and Arthur Weasley. Whaddya think?”
The roar of approval almost knocked Harry over. Cheering and hollering went on for several minutes, before finally calming down.
“I thought you lot might like the idea. I’ve written out invitations for them all and I’ll ask Dobby to deliver them immediately.” He had no sooner made the promise than Dobby appeared, took the invitations and vanished again.
Four hundred miles away, Arthur Weasley was just settling into his office when Amelia Bones stepped in.
“Hello, Minister. What brings you to my humble abode today?”
“I’m here to correct a problem that’s been here for far too long. Arthur, you’ve been doing a wonderful job in an under-funded and little appreciated office for so long, people have overlooked you. Unfortunately I must include myself in that group. Since we will be interacting with the muggles far more than we have before, I’ve decided to incorporate several offices into yours. You will be the director of the Magical/Mundane Liaison Department. It’s a new department that works side to side with the DMLE, but is independent of it. It will incorporate several old offices and include several more. First as director of the department, you will be my liaison with the mundane authorities, from the Queen on down. We work for her, not the other way around, so it’s important you put forth your best foot. There are very few I would trust with this task, Arthur. You are one, but while your fascination with mundane is laudable, you will need some dedicated study before you are well enough versed in mundane culture, to deal with them on your own. You’ll need to hire some good first gen’s.
Lord Gryffindor and I have has already spoken with the Queen, him, more than once, and one of the results of those talks is the reason we’ve so many researchers here to help us restructure our laws. Part of your department will be the Magically Disabled Office, which will deal with all those born in our world and unable to use magic. I am going to introduce a new law during the next Wizengamot session, where the word ‘squib’ will be officially labeled an offensive epithet and its use will be fined…and I don’t mean one Sickle and three Knuts. The same will go for the word ‘muggleborne’. I believe ‘First Generation’ is more appealing, more accurate and less offensive, and the word “Mudblood’ has always been an insult. It will no longer be tolerated. Its use will result in an automatic ten Galleon fine, for the first offense. After that it will get worse.
As for the word ‘muggle’, like most epithets, the word started out benign, but over the generations, it has been twisted into something ugly. When I introduce that law, I hope to substitute ‘mundane’, instead. We share our world with over seven billion, that’s seven - thousand - million, non-magical people. They outnumber us more than a thousand to one. Not a good idea to upset them now is it?
Secondly, I intend to incorporate a Mundane Education Equivalency office, into yours. In case any first gen’s wish to leave the wizarding world, or live or work in both, every single person who has attended a magical institution will be provided a muggle equivalent documentation record for purposes of employment or higher education. I’ve asked some of the researchers we have here to take the position or recommend others. They’re going to be needed, because this will be backdated fifty years. Special cases beyond that will be on a request basis.
Third, the muggle-worthy excuse committee is gone. From here on out we will be finding rational explanations for magical incidents, not flying saucers and swamp gas. You will also be in charge of the Accidental Magic Reversal Unit. The obliviators will still work for the DMLE, but you and yours will coordinate closely with them. As there have been some unfortunate results of being improperly or excessively obliviated, namely the affected mundanes sinking into an unidentifiable depression, which often ends in their suicide, I’d prefer new ways of explaining these incidents of magic away, rather than just wiping memories.
The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office will be included in your department along with an office for confiscating any fake or ineffective protective spells and devices. Our people need to learn to take care of themselves, and panic-buying of that rubbish, won’t do that.
You’ll also have an office to monitor and control magical equipment and artifacts.”
Arthur was floored. Such a department would be incredible!
“So. You think you can handle that?”
“Erm…I’m not certain. I’d need people. A lot of them.”
“You’ll start out with a staff of one hundred twenty people, eventually you’ll have between one fifty and two hundred. Many of them will be the magically disabled. Still your enforcement branch will be working closely with the DMLE, so you shouldn’t have much difficulty.”
“Then, yes! Absolutely! I’d be happy to take on this new department!”
“Fine. Why not go home and give Molly the news. Your new job starts on the first of the year.”
Arthur was smiling as brightly as any of his children ever had. He stood as Amelia did, and as she left, he scribbled out a note for Perkins to call him at the Burrow in case he needed anything.
He’d just grabbed his cloak when Amelia poked her head back in.
“Oh, by the bye, your salary will increase to two and a half times what you’re getting now. Happy Christmas, Arthur.” She called before withdrawing once more.
Arthur laughed brightly, and headed for the door.
Yes, a very good Christmas indeed!
On arriving at the Burrow, Arthur got another nice surprise. Molly was weeping at the table. Instantly concerned, his eyes darted to the family clock. The youngest four, plus Harry and Hermione, were all still listed as ‘at school’, and the older brothers were ‘at work’.
“Molly?” He asked gently. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh Arthur. The kids have invited us for Christmas Day!”
“Wonderful!” He enthused. Harry’s description of the training they’d be given was both vague and enticing. Now he might be able to actually see some of it!
He didn’t know that Harry had the same idea.
Arthur happily told Molly of his new position, and it’s responsibilities, and the commensurate increase in pay. Needless to say, Molly was more than thrilled.
Augusta, Amelia, Andromeda and Carolyn were together, plotting their next step in the governmental renewal, when Dobby appeared and presented them each a hand-written invitation to attend a Christmas day with their relatives. Andy was informed that Ted was also invited and Nymphadora would love to see them. The others were invited to bring a guest or two.
They all agreed, of course and Dobby told them he would return with portkeys for them all on Christmas eve.
That evening in Ron’s dorm room, Luna was introducing him to her unique system of ‘rewards’, designed and practically guaranteed to result in improved…performance.
At just after midnight on the morning of the twenty-fifth, Dobby appeared in the headmaster’s quarters and quickly stole every left sock Dumbledore had, and sprinkled the Weasley’s new ‘undetectable’ itching powder over the remaining socks, before he closed the draw. He snapped his fingers and the wrapped books in Dumbledore’s pile vanished, to be replaced by those in the headmaster’s already overflowing shelves. The vanished books made their way to Harry’s library at number twelve.
On top of the pile, he left a hand-sized box marked: ‘From Father Christmas’, and with an evil chuckle, vanished to reappear in the west tower.
There, he handed most of the pilfered hosiery to Peeves and told him that socks were a wonderful way to stop up toilets…but they only worked on the toilets in the dungeons. HE also recommended Peeves place some dung bombs under the seats so that when anybody sat, they’d crush the noisome pellets and create further confusion.
That got Peeve’s full cooperation, but alas, he’d used the last of the dung bombs Dobby had given him in July.
Wordlessly, Dobby handed over a brand new bag, before popping away with a laugh so evil, even Peeves was frightened.
A further stop in the dungeons, and Dobby carefully plugged up the flue in Snape’s quarters with the few socks he’d kept, and swapped his books. Again, those pilfered books made their way to Harry’s library at Grimmauld place. With another snap, Snape’s hair changed from black to blond and began to curl itself.
He also received a box from Father Christmas.
Dobby knew Harry would disapprove of the next stop, but something made him go anyway. He silently popped into Voldemort’s quarters, and seeing he great snake sleeping quietly, snapped his fingers. The spell forced Nagini into a deeper sleep. Dobby tiptoed to Voldemort’s bed and placed another brightly wrapped box in the bedside press. On his way out, he clicked his fingers once more and the sleeping Nagini was sporting a brand new red velvet collar with ball-shaped bells, fuzzy antlers and a shiny red nose.
As a final, gift, he popped through the wards at Malfoy Manor, turned Draco’s hair Weasley red and gave him freckles. Lots of freckles.
Christmas day was very much like it had been at Hogwarts. The students all woke to the smell of baking goods in their nostrils and piles of presents at the feet of their beds. Rather than starting right in, most of the Jedi Students ran that morning. Once done, they allowed themselves to relax. Harry was impressed despite himself. He hadn’t expected nearly this many to continue the training over the holiday. With a smile on his face, he joined Hermione in the shower and together they managed to scrub themselves clean. Worn out from their lovemaking, they then returned to their shared bed. There at the foot of the bed, were gifts for them as well. Harry broke out in a boyish smile as he saw the presents, and Hermione had to grin as she reveled in the warmth his smile brought her. She still held a lingering hatred of the Dursleys, but Harry’s punishment was ever so much more enjoyable than merely stripping their skin off one inch at a time, and pickling their internal organs…while they were still using them.
In northern Scotland, a duplicitous old man woke bright and early with visions of riches dancing in his head. His usual pile of gifts waited, but upon opening them, he found the books he’d received were those he already had in his collection. In fact, upon closer inspection of his bookshelves, he discovered the books he held were in fact, the very ones he had. It was as if someone had simply rewrapped his books and given them as gifts…but that was impossible.
Snarling in irritation, he opened the last gift, labeled, ‘Father Christmas’…to find a lump of coal.
Severus Snape cared very little for the celebration of Christmas. He detested anything muggle and Christmas was a reminder of the muggle church’s persecution of witches and wizards over the centuries past. On the other hand, he found himself looking forward to the little gifts his peers sent him. In his case, the first he picked up was the one Dobby had left that morning.
Like Dumbledore, he was not pleased to find the anthracite.
His other gifts were plainly insulting. All of them were copies of the same basic potions primer…one that would normally be given to an eight-year-old! In addition, his entire private library now featured the same primer and only that primer. That the books were titled: ‘POTIONS BREWING FOR DUNDERHEADS’ did not help his blood pressure any.
He snarled, and cast an Incendio on the fireplace. He refused to have the house-elves in to do the normal chores, because he feared they were spying for Dumbledore. His privacy was well worth the extra effort of stocking the wood-box and the light cleaning he needed.
Soon he would discover his error.
Draco Malfoy woke to the sybaritic surrounds he normally did. He was swaddled in comfort and stretched languidly as he became aware. At the foot of the bed, he found his usual pile of gifts. His languor lasted until he stepped into the bathroom.
Standing over the toilet, he finally opened his eyes…and found himself staring into the face of…of…a Weasley!
His scream of horror resounded throughout the manor, as he wet his expensive silk pyjamas.
Narcissa raced to his rooms with Lucius somehow hobbling along behind her. There, they both stared thunderstruck at the red haired apparition before them. Draco was screaming while trying to rip handfuls of Weasley hair from his head.
Narcissa screamed with her son, somehow knowing the red-head was her son, wanting to rush to his side, yet not wanting to touch the ‘poor’ that seemed to have covered the child.
Lucius was about to kill the intruder when he realized the house itself hadn’t done so. The wards around Malfoy manor would prevent anyone from entering unbidden, and yet, here, this red-headed child was screaming and struggling to rid himself of his locks.
A stunner flashed and Draco fell.
Lucius hobbled forward on his canes, until he was close enough to touch the creature lying there. With a foot, he nudged the body over onto it’s back. Now he recognized his son…albeit a son covered in freckles! A quick lift of the boy’s left sleeve proved this could never be a Weasley. The dark mark burned into the pale skin there, stared balefully at them.
Narcissa moaned: “Draco?” She stepped forward to her son’s unconscious form.
Voldemort howled in rage as he saw his familiar looking like a muggle child’s storybook character. He was even angrier when he tore into the box on his bedside table to find a lump of coal.
Dumbledore stepped down the circular stairs wearing mismatched socks and once again vowing to have words with a certain poltergeist, when he discovered a new decoration. The gargoyle that had for so long, guarded his sanctum, had been dressed like Father Christmas, and clearly did not care for the embellishment.
Chuckling he strode away from his office in a much better mood, completely forgetting about his mismatched socks.
At breakfast, Both Dumbledore and the rest of the teachers snickered at the ‘golden change’ of Severus Snape. It was only when a student dared to giggle, did Snape ask what was going on.
Sprout handed him a compact mirror.
Severus nearly fainted at seeing his face, with Lockhart’s hair. What was worse, no one could reverse the change. That didn’t help his temper one jot!
Snape harangued Dumbledore at length about the insults he’d taken. When he described both the books and the coal, Albus put two and two together.
“It appears, Severus, that we have both been pranked. This morning, I found in my gifts, books I already had, more specifically the very books I had, the ones from my library had been rewrapped as new gifts, and like you, I also received a lump of coal from ‘Father Christmas’.
Minerva, who’d been listening to the conversation, was appalled. She’d spent a sizable part of the gold she'd won on her bet concerning Harry and Hermione, to find the potioneer’s text for Severus. It was over two hundred years old, and had potions listed in it, that weren’t to be found anywhere now. She said as much to Snape.
His eyes rounded at hearing the title. Eine Abhandlung auf die Kreation der ungewöhnlich wirkungsvollen medizinischen Tränke. (A treatise on the creation of unusually effective medical potions) by the esteemed Potions Master Emeritus Rudolph Schwartz. Even Voldemort did not have one of Schwartz’ books!
And now, it was gone!
“Potter! It has to have been Potter! I just know it!”
“Honestly, Severus!” Minerva chided. “Harry Potter hasn’t been seen since before the fall term.”
“Not quite, Minerva.” Dumbledore corrected his deputy. “He was seen in Little Whinging, on the fifteenth, of this month. As soon as I was informed, I went there to convince him to return to the school. Alas, he had already departed by the time I arrived. I suspect Miss. Chapman assisted him in that endeavor.”
“Why would Harry return to Little Whinging?” She wanted to know. “He hated it there!”
“As it turns out, he was there to gloat over the legal chicanery he used to imprison his relatives there.”
“Nonsense. Harry does not gloat. He never has.”
“No.” Snape oiled his way into the debate. “Instead, he violates rules, crosses lines, steps above his station and throws tantrums until he gets what he wants.”
“Actually, Severus…” Minerva’s voice became cold as ice. “That would be Mister Malfoy.”
“This is neither the time nor the place for such a discussion!” Dumbledore interrupted the two teachers. “The topic at hand is how someone managed to penetrate the castle’s defenses, enter both my chambers and Severus’ without being caught, and both abscond with our property, and deliver such embarrassing ‘gifts’.”
“Assuming it was Harry, you do know he is the heir of Gryffindor, don’t you?”
“Yes I am fully aware of that.” Dumbledore was suddenly frosty. Harry’s claiming of the Gryffindor seat in July was still a sore point with him.
“Well, as an heir to one of the founders, would he be able to enter the castle unnoticed?”
Dumbledore had to think hard about that. He was also related to Gryffindor. Many people were, but Harry was a direct descendant. That he might be able to bypass the security Dumbledore held as inviolable, was a frightening thought.
“I do not know.” He replied as Minerva finished her breakfast. She excused herself and departed for her chambers.
Fifteen minutes later, Albus found his Transfiguration and Charms masters in the entryway, wearing heavy cloaks.
“Minerva. Filius. You both appear to be dressed for traveling. Where might I ask, are you off to?”
“We have both received invitations to spend Christmas day with some dear friends. We should return tomorrow evening at the latest.”
“Are you certain that is such a good idea? After all, in such parlous times, this school needs your presence.” He cast a subtle obedience compulsion. Due to Filius’ goblin heritage, he knew the effort would be wasted, so he didn’t try. Minerva felt the compulsion and shored up her mental defenses.
Dumbledore was rather shocked when she replied: “Nonsense! There are only five students staying over, none of whom are my lions or Filius' ravens, the rest of the teachers are here and I, for one, have not had a Christmas day off in ten years and more.” Minerva glared at her soon-to-be ‘former’ headmaster. Filius just smirked.
Dumbledore couldn’t believe this! His compulsion had failed! How had that happened? He quickly back-footed.
“Ah. Yes. Well then, enjoy your day. I shall see you both tomorrow.”
She nodded once, and both turned and walked to the thestral drawn carriage Hagrid had waiting. Once at the ward boundaries, she activated the portkey she carried, with the words: “Albie is an arse.”
Minerva and Filius both spun to a halt in the entry hall of Potter Castle to find sixty or so identically clad students awaiting her arrival. The cheer they let out when they appeared brought tears to her eyes. Filius was no less touched.
Within moments three other portkeys had deposited other old friends. Augusta was eying her grandson with a respect Minerva had never seen before. Susan Bones and Hannah Abbot were both standing protectively beside him.
Minerva had long suspected the shy Gryffindor would pair off with one of the two, but now, it appeared he was seeing the both of them. She was curious as to how that would play out…and how she’d make a book on it. She’d have to speak with the Weasley twins.
Molly and Arthur appeared and Molly immediately engulfed her brood in spine-cracking hugs.
Despite their relative independence, all four of them returned the hugs as firmly as she’d given them. Of course, the twins tried to put some pranking items in her pockets. Arthur as easily fished them out and handed them back, all without his wife knowing.
Amelia Bones also appeared next with her limited entourage of Michael Wood, Constance Hammer, and of all people, Mad-Eye Moody. Instantly, Minerva, Molly, Augusta and Andromeda found themselves shunted to the rear of the group and not less than a dozen lightsabers were humming and braced in front of Harry. His own was still on his belt.
It took Amelia’s instant: “Aurors, stand down!” and her considerable force of will, to compel her people not to fire into the crowd of Jedi. Nevertheless, her own wand was in hand. Moody may be paranoid, but he was quite correct. ‘Constant Vigilance’ was the order of the day.
Moody looked at the students with a respect few have seen from him. While he knew he could get some of them, they would eventually get him. He made the hardest decision he’d made, since he was a tyro. He sheathed his own wand.
Harry quietly ordered them to shut down their blades. “Alastor Moody is welcome here.”
“Harry!” Ron complained. “Moody’s in the order.”
“I’m aware of that, Ron, but I’m also aware of a few things you are not. Moody is welcome here.” His last was spoken softly, but everyone there knew it was an order. It would take people of sterner stuff than the Jedi apprentices to disobey him.
As soon as the drama was over, Amelia sheathed her wand, and like Molly, immediately sought out her niece. She saw that Susan hadn’t returned her lightsaber to her belt until she’d put her wand away. A smile graced her lips as she recognized the warrior in her niece.
Andromeda and Ted Tonks appeared next to find a deliriously happy Nymphadora bowling them over in greeting. Behind her, Remus waited, shy and unsure of his potential greeting.
Andy saw him standing there, stalked over to him and snarled: “How dare you be here…” And then smiled and added in a softer, gentler tone: “…and not give us a welcoming hug?”
Once she’d gotten over the shock of her mother seemingly tearing into Remus, Tonks began to bray her unique and truly annoying laughter. Between laughs, she panted out: “Some…Marauder…you are. Pranked by…a mother!”
The last invitee to arrive was Carolyn Chapman, who was accompanied by Marissa Gentry and Dudley.
Hermione growled, Carolyn smirked, Marissa was confused and Dudley goggled.
“Dudley?” Harry asked.
“Harry?” Dudley returned. “What the bloody hell is going on here?”
Carolyn explained Dudley’s presence and introduced Marissa. She seemed quite happy with Dudley and unlike so many people he knew, her eyes didn’t do that little flick to his forehead. Hermione stayed by his side, ostensibly as a guide, but they all knew she was staking her claim. Harry introduced her as “My betrothed, the lady Hermione Granger.”
Chuckling at his cousin’s uncertainty, Harry lifted his voice and called out: “Welcome everyone…to Potter Castle!”
Introductions were made, parents and siblings reunited and stories were told, and over the day, people got acquainted and in some ways, became friends.
A half hour after Minerva’s departure, Severus’ sensitive, and recently healed nose, detected the distinctive odor of burning wool. He stood and announced to the headmaster: “There is a fire somewhere in the castle!”
“Oh dear!” Dumbledore exclaimed as he also stood. He felt an itch on his right ankle, but had no time to deal with it.
He called for the house-elves.
Flopsey appeared and began twisting her ears.
“Where is the fire, Flopsey?”
“It is being in Professor Snarley Snap’s chambers.”
Dumbledore led the rush to Snape’s quarters to find the entire corridor filled with heavy smoke.
Coughing and gasping, Snape demanded: “Why have you imbeciles not put the fire out?”
“You has given the elves orders to never enter your chambers on pain of death!” Flopsey returned.
“Punish yourself, elf!”
“That will not be necessary, Flopsey!” Dumbledore interrupted. “Please enter the rooms and extinguish the fire. Severus, I know you dislike having the house elves in your quarters, but really, they could have prevented this.”
“I do not want them in there. There are things in there that are far too delicate for house-elves to handle. There are potions ingredients there that are both unstable, and poisonous. Should any of them be released by the unwary, or the untrained, those ingredients could easily wipe out all life in the castle.”
“Why do you have such dangerous ingredients in your quarters?”
“Because I am the only one with access.” Severus replied as though addressing a particularly slow child. “I have explained this before, headmaster. You assured me you would respect my wishes.”
“And I have, but you really must find a safer place to store such potentially lethal materials.”
“I shall look into it.”
At Potter Castle, following a brief tour of the castle and it’s environs, Harry stood before his guests and called out: “Welcome to the Jedi Academy. The first class would like to give some demonstrations of what we’ve been learning.”
He seated the guests on the stage in the great hall, erected a shield to prevent the younger siblings from becoming too enthusiastic, and had the students form up for standard training. Once they were positioned, he began to call out the numbers as he had during his impromptu test in November. As one, the class flicked, swished, blocked and struck. Not even Moody could tell the difference between one student and another.
Harry when they were done with the right handed variants, he had them switch to their lefts. Moody was impressed. The rest were astounded.
When they were done, he had the students clear the floor, and transfigured the stone flags into a thirty foot wide sand-filled circle. Other transfigurations followed and the students sat themselves on tiers that had grown from the walls. Minerva smiled proudly.
“Nearly all of my students have attained the second stage of their lightsaber training…Makashi. Since we have just entered that form, I will have our instructors or senior students demonstrate the forms. First up, Luna Lovegood and Hermione Granger. Shii-Cho.”
As the two young women entered the circle, Harry began his explanation. “Shii-Cho is called the determination form. Quite accurately, in fact. It is the form in which one determines whether or not he or she can continue. As you’ve seen, Shii-Cho has more than a hundred variations; right handed, and an equal number left. It is the hardest to learn, and is the foundation for all but Makashi, and it’s derivative Niman, which use a different approach entirely.
This combat will be to three wins. If one person has three wins and the other has one, it’s over. If they both have two, they face each other again.”
To the ladies in question, he barked: “Check weapons!”
Both exchanged their lightsabers, performed the by-now routine checks and returned them to be checked again. Harry explained the why’s and wherefores of such diligence. Moody nodded in satisfaction as he understood the reasons for the weapons checks. His arse reminded him of his own carelessness as a tyro.
“Why the parchment, Harry?” Amelia asked. She hadn’t seen that particular twist the last time she’d been present.
“That was Neville’s idea, actually.” Harry replied, sending a brief grin to his friend. Neville blushed and Augusta looked at him with an interesting expression.
“Those slips are muggle newsprint, not parchment. That kind of paper burns at four hundred fifty one degrees Farenheight or just under two hundred thirty three degrees Celsius. Simply put, if it doesn’t burn, the heat from the blade won’t kill.”
When the checks were done, Harry just said: “Begin.”
Hermione and Luna became independent whirls of light, slashing and thrusting, sweeping blocking and striking. Augusta was appalled at the ferocity, Molly was horrified by the possible injuries, and Andromeda was fascinated by the speed and intensity of the combat. The younger children were enthralled by the flashing of the lightsabers.
Carolyn had seen Star Wars, of course, and while impressed, wasn’t overwhelmed. Dudley, on the other hand, was. He’d also seen Star Wars and to him, lightsaber combat was something straight out of fantasy.
Luna had the advantage. Her greater contact with the force, let her win the first two of three bouts. Each time the blade was knocked from Hermione’s grasp, it sailed toward the audience and each time, Harry called it to him.
Hermione took the third round, with a lightning fast series of strikes, that left Luna stumbling backward, and her lightsaber flying. Like Tonks had the week before, she simply reached out with her hand and called the weapon back to her, and was fighting again. She won.
Hermione wasn’t upset. Quite the contrary, she rushed forward and hugged the esoteric blond happily.
Harry grinned at his betrothed’s delight. She’d gotten over her fear of failure and embraced her life as hers.
“That was the basic form. For our next demonstration, we have Mackenzie Granger and Nymphadora-call-me-that-and-die-Tonks!”
Tonks glared death and dismemberment at Harry, who ignored her completely. Everyone around who knew her, grinned widely at her reaction.
You all know that Tonks as an Auror, but what you don’t know, is that Mack is a dentist. That’s correct. Mack is a muggle. He has no magic at all, but don’t underestimate him for a second. He has an exceptionally powerful connection with the force. Mack served in Her Majesty’s Special Air Service before he became a dentist. He has maintained his physical fitness over the past twenty years through a series of exercises that even now, make my people weep. He is my primary fitness instructor.
Both Tonks and Mack are experts in Makashi, and so, I’d like them to show you the differences between what you’ve seen and this form.”
Again the two exchanged their weapons, performed the obligatory tests and once satisfied, began. Harry called out a few of the basic differences between the two forms, emphasizing the elegance and balance necessary for Makashi.
Those who’d seen a duel with épée or rapier could see the similarities between those forms and Makashi, but there, the similarities ended. Lightning fast, both combatants danced…literally danced, back and forth, as they tried and failed to penetrate the other’s defenses.
After ten minutes, Harry called a halt.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a draw before…not even between these two. The problem here is that both Tonks and Mack are equally proficient in Makashi. They could probably go on for hours and never beat each other.”
Both Mack and Tonks grinned sheepishly, before turning to their respective mates.
Harry nodded to Dobby. “Now, for the upper level. Since Dobby and I are the only ones to have reached the level we’re at, it will be me against him. Like before, three wins.”
Hermione took the stage. “This combat will use elements of the forms: Shii-Cho, Makashi, Soresu, Ataru and Shien. Both Harry and Dobby have advanced to Djem-So, but only recently, so that form will not be included. Dobby, cut his hand off again, and I’ll have Winky cut off your willy!”
Not certain if she was really serious, Dobby paled.
While they were checking their weapons, Harry whispered: “Don’t worry, Dobby. Your willy is safe. If she tries to take yours, I’ll do a switching spell and give you mine.”
Dobby blushed nervously at the thought of him sporting Harry’s willy.
Combat began and the visitors and students alike were treated to a sight they’d never before seen. Two well-qualified Jedi locked in a lightsaber battle with no holds barred.
The closest the students had seen was the duel nearly two months before, and even that paled in comparison. Harry and Dobby were shadows, airborne as often as on the ground, and moving faster than possible; their lightsaber blades were more like fans of light than shafts.
Harry’s induced knowledge and more than a thousand hours of diligent practice, against Dobby’s natural magic, exuberance and deep connection to the force, proved to be no match at all. As before, Harry ended up being thrown out of the circle to fetch up against the wall, his lightsaber resting in the house-elf’s hand.
The second bout lasted a bit longer and Harry took that one, by darting in, and as he had with Tonks the previous week, warping his blade around Dobby’s. The weapon flew but Dobby bounced into the air, calling it to him, while still in flight. The lightsaber tuned in mid-air and slapped into his small hand. Dobby alit gracefully with his blade once again lighted.
Again the battle was joined. This time Harry lost. He slipped a bit too far to a side and Dobby rewarded him with a rather nasty burn on his backside. Hermione glared at the elf, but Harry grinned. “Them’s the breaks, Hermione.”
The last bout ended in a tie, as both launched themselves into the air and struck with all their might. Both lightsabers flew, and both fell to the decking. Harry called his weapon to him, but Dobby did the same, refusing to release it. For more than a minute the silent combat continued, with the lightsaber floating between them. Energy flared around both Human and elf as they tried to bring the Jedi weapon to themselves. It was Augusta’s “My heavens!” that broke the spell. Harry lost concentration for a split second, and the weapon slapped into Dobby’s hand. Wild cheering erupted from the students.
Bowing, Dobby returned Harry’s lightsaber. Harry also grinned as he accepted the weapon and the chiding for losing his concentration.
Harry turned to his audience. “Well, that’s it for the time being. There will be other demonstrations later today, but the heavy-duty ones are over. Christmas Dinner will be served at four this afternoon, and if you’re still hungry tonight the elves will prepare some soup, breads, and various cheeses.
Friends and family gathered together and played in the snow, until the twins began using the force to animate their snowballs. From then on it was a free for all with force-powered snowballs flying everywhere. Harry felt a tug from the force and noticed two of the children, both about four, levitating the snow as well. He resolved to have words with their parents.
Inside, after they’d showered and dried off, they sang carols, toasted marshmallows or cheese and drank hot chocolate. Apprentices led small groups on tours of the training facilities explaining exactly what they die here everyday. They found that there was no need to embellish.
Presents had arrived for each, from absent family, friends and others. The elves had worked their little ears off to make this celebration one to remember, and every one of the Jedi there made sure to offer their thanks for the gift the elves had bestowed upon them. The feast was every bit as good as those at Hogwarts and the company was excellent.
All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas for everybody.
That evening, Harry and Hermione finally had the chance to take Dudley and Marissa aside and have a little chat.
Dudley explained how things were going, and what he’d done to make it up to the neighborhood. He told them that the elder Dursleys are still refusing to believe they could possibly be responsible for their fate, claiming Harry’s influence instead.
Harry sighed, and Dudley snarked: “At least they’ve been shown for what they were. With them being indebted to you, they can’t lord it over the people around them.”
“Yeah, but I wish it hadn’t been necessary. You know, I think Dumbledore is at least partly responsible for their behavior.”
“Howzzat?” Dudley asked.
“Well, at the beginning of the summer, I discovered several compulsions on me and on all my friends. I broke them and had the Unspeakables break those on my friends. Since those compulsions have been in place for so long, it’s permanently altered their views. Even my friends. For instance, my friend Ron was turned into a jealous prat, but according to Luna, he wasn’t always that way. Ginny was trained from birth to be my wife. Molly’s doing, but she was under compulsion from Dumbledore.
Neville, was also named in the prophecy, and so, Dumbledore bound his magic. Doing that’s illegal as hell, but since Dumbledore wrote most of the laws in the British wizarding world, he knows how to get around them.”
“Harry, my parents are bigots. You know that.”
“I do. but how much of that bigotry is theirs and how much was influenced by Dumbledore?” Harry returned. “He’s been playing this game for a long time, y’know.”
“Given what Dumbledore has been doing, I wonder if he was involved in the attack.” Marissa opined.
“What attack?” Harry asked, curious. Hermione also perked her ears.
‘Dudley flushed. “Umm. There was an attack at the dance Mari and I were attending.” He got no further as Marissa interrupted. “Death Eaters arrived and started throwing killing curses. Dudley took out five before they got him!”
“Yeah, umm…” Dudley tried to down play it, but Marissa wasn’t having any.
“Security cameras caught it on tape. Carolyn got hold of one of the tapes for the ministry. She let me have a copy. You should’ve seen it! As soon as I went down, Dudley punched one of those arseholes in the face. Knocked him clean out! The others were going to kill him but he grabbed a wand from one and stabbed him with it! Then he did that wrestler move…y’know, where one bloke grabs two others and bashes their heads together? Well he dove under a killing curse and punched one! One, two three!” She pantomimed three wild punches that had Harry and Dudley both ducking. “Spun his head around, he did!” Harry chuckled at Dudley’s discomfort. Marissa was having far too much fun describing the events she’d missed!
Harry was surprised and strangely approving of his cousin. “Dudley, I’ve faced the Death Eaters before. You are one lucky bastard, you know?”
“Yeah.” Dudley gathered Marissa into his side. She didn’t complain a bit. Harry grinned and Hermione joined him in a hug of their own.
On Boxing Day, the searing burn from his dark mark awakened Severus. Dressing and then rushing through the castle, he made his way out of the wards and apparated away. From the Astronomy tower, Dumbledore watched him go. Severus had not informed him of his departure. He wondered, not for the first time, if Severus was as faithful to him as he claimed.
In Little Hangleton, he presented himself to his master, on bended knee.
Voldemort wasn’t in a good mood. Snape took more time to arrive than he should have! A few minutes of torture soothed the maniac’s nerves, however, and he released his spy.
“Severus, I am out of gold. Those miserable animals at Gringotts have dared to sequester the assets of all my loyal Death Eater’s, and without gold I cannot hope to prosecute this war. Find me another source of gold!”
Snape wondered if Voldemort wanted him dead. Such a request was nearly impossible to fulfill, and the dark lord did not take failure lightly.
Still, Snape was a spy. He reported the workings of the Order to Voldemort. When the master allowed it, he’d tell Dumbledore what the Death Eaters were doing, but normally, he would spy on nearly everybody around him for his own gain.
As a result, he had an answer for his mutated lord.
“Master, Did not Lucius offer substantial bribes to Cornelius Fudge?”
“Fudge despises the goblins. Surely he would not keep his gold in their care. It is more likely he has it at his manor.”
Voldemort was impressed. “I agree. Find that gold and secure it. You may go.”
“I live to serve.” Snape backed away and departed.
Fudge shrieked as the Death Eater tortured him. They’d broken through the wards at just before eleven and made it inside before he could contact the Aurors. They must have killed Madam Edgecomb, because his Floo was out of service. His house-elf, Anton, had met the invaders with a knife and a frypan in hand. With an Avada Kedavra, the little elf died immediately.
For the first time in his life, Cornelius Fudge considered the implications of that.
Snape bound him with immobulus and with a sticking charm, fastened him immovably to a wall.
Fudge recognized the silky voice of the potions’ professor as he ordered the invaders to ransack his home and take all the gold they found.
“But I did everything I was told to do!” Fudge wailed. “I pushed through all those laws. I issued the ‘kill on sight’ order for Black. I had crouch Jr. Kissed before Dumbledore could get him to the Wizengamot, I dragged Potter through the muck to discredit him. I even gave Delores Carte Blanche at Hogwarts!”
That was the last semi-painless moment Fudge had. From then on the Slytherin head of house, showed exactly how dedicated he was to his master’s cause.
“And now the Dark Lord demands his rightful due. Where is your secret cache of gold?” He asked. “We know you have one. You don’t trust the Goblins, so it must be here.”
Of course, Fudge refused to tell him…for the first three seconds.
Very carefully, very efficiently, and with an obscene pleasure, Snape plied his victim with curses, all agonizing, but all varied, while asking questions. Curses to break bones, curses to make organs slowly but painfully liquefy, curses to sever muscles from their attachments, curses to flay skin, curses meant to burn, but set at such a thin edge as to be like a flaming knife. It was only when a Death Eater dared to interrupt his pleasure, by telling him that the gold had been secured, and he’d repaid that lackey’s initiative with the Cruciatus, that the trouble began. Pops sounded all around the manor, signaling the arrival of the Aurors.
He snarled. “Blast! They shouldn’t be here yet. They must have some kind of monitor here that we didn’t detect. Most likely the muggle lover’s interference!”
Pointing his wand out the window, he snarled: “Crucio!” An Auror fell shrieking, and a dozen more pops sounded. Behind him, Fudge had fainted from the torture he’d endured.
~They must have called for reinforcements immediately! No matter. We’ve done what we came to do!~ A few spells and the bloody message scrawled across the wall was plain for all to see.
“Death Eaters! To me!” He held out the rope he carried, and each terrorist grabbed hold. Turning his wand on the suspended Fudge, he spat: “The master does not suffer fools! Avada Kedavra!” The sickly green light flared and Cornelius Fudge died.
With a tap of his wand, the portkey tore through the wards the Aurors had erected, and they were gone.
On the twenty seventh, following their workout and shower, Harry entered to dining hall to find a subdued group of apprentices. Ron stood and approached.
“Harry, you gotta see this.” He handed over his copy of The Daily Prophet.
MURDER MOST FOUL!
Writes Rita Skeeter, special correspondent to the daily prophet.
This morning, at just after mid-night, Aurors were called to the home of former Minister of Magic, to investigate a disturbance there. What they found instead was not less than fifteen Death Eaters ransacking the home. Once at the scene, the Aurors came under attack. Auror Especial, Ramon Escarcega, of the Spanish La Guardia Mágico, here on loan to the British DMLE, fell to the Cruciatus curse fired from the house.
Former minister of magic Cornelius Fudge was found dead in his home, stuck to the wall, like a painting! Says new Auror Alberto Diaz: “We removed Mister Fudge’s body from the wall and transported him to St. Mungo’s to determine the cause of his death.”
On the wall, written, ostensibly in Fudge’s blood, was the legend, “Happy Christmas, Harry! Lord You Know Who.” (Editor’s note; The dark lord’s chosen name was used, but to prevent widespread panic, it was decided to refer to him by his current moniker.)
When asked if this was the work of You Know Who, and his Death Eaters, Diaz said: “We didn’t see a dark mark, so it’s not likely. It’s more likely Potter did it with that magic sword of his.”
Says Albus Dumbledore, disgraced former chief of the Wizengamot, and former Supreme Mugwump of the ICW: “With his magic sword, Harry is entirely capable of inflicting such damage. Moreover, he has a deep and abiding hatred of all authority, and of Cornelius most of all. He must be returned to my supervision so I can turn him from the dark path he has embraced so fully.”
Says, Amelia Bones, Minister of Magic: “I have concrete evidence that Mr. Potter was nowhere near Mr. Fudge last night or the night before. Until I was called to the scene, by the director of the DMLE, I was, in fact, spending the Christmas holiday with my niece Susan, at Mr. Potter’s residence. We were there from early Christmas morning until I was called this morning. Other invited guests were Augusta Longbottom, Andromeda and Ted Tonks, and Carolyn Chapman, Esq. There were other guests present, but due to security concerns, I have been asked not to divulge their names.”
Kingsley Shacklebolt, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, said: “Diaz was far out of line giving a personal opinion in this or any other case. He has been removed from field service for the foreseeable future and remanded to specialists for further training, in operational security.”
What is the DMLE hiding? Was there a connection between Fudge and the Death Eaters? Where is Harry Potter? This reporter wants to know.
In fact, when Kingsley had seen the article, he’d called in some senior Aurors, including Hammer and Moody, and then sent for Diaz.
As soon as Diaz entered, he’d had Connie bind him. He didn’t want Alastor getting carried away. Diaz gaped in shock as Kingsley pulled up his sleeve. He knew what Shacklebolt was implying.
Fortunately for Diaz, there was no dark mark.
He told Hammer to release the binding charm.
“Sit.” He ordered. Diaz sat.
“Why the bloody hell did you give that interview, Diaz? You know Aurors are not allowed to speak with the press in the line of duty, especially not to offer personal opinions! That’s what we have the press liaison for. So idiots like you don’t fuck up an investigation. So, why, knowing that, did you choose to violate operational security protocols, not to mention Harry Fuckin’ Potter’s personal integrity in giving an unsolicited opinion that isn’t worth the bogwad it takes to clean it up. Answer me that!”
Diaz was officially terrified. He’d never seen Shacklebolt so angry before. He wasn’t yelling, but he looked ready to kill! That Skeeter woman was so nice and she smiled at him and she was just so…nice.
“Umm…Sir, she kind’a implied that Potter had done it and I saw the pictures of what he did in the Wizengamot chambers with that sword of his and the wounds on Fudge’s body were…” Shacklebolt’s hand was in the air in a ‘stop’ gesture before Diaz had finished.
“You know, I should send you to guard Azkaban for a few months, but that’s out of the question now, since the place was abandoned. I suppose you lucked out, there. The problem is, you violated one of the most basic rules of your job. You spoke to the press in an unauthorized manner, during an ongoing investigation. Worse, you gave an opinion to the press. As an Auror you may have your opinions, but nowhere is it said or implied that you may offer those opinions while on duty…especially to the press. Do you clearly understand me, Mister Diaz?” While he was seething at the man’s stupidity, Shacklebolt kept his voice calm and nearly devoid of emotion. To Diaz it was worse than being screamed at.
“Yessir!” He squeaked.
“The worst part is, I really can’t afford to not have you here, especially now, but I don’t have much choice. You can’t go parroting privileged information about. Still, it’s your first offense, so I’m not gonna sack you. What I’m gonna do instead, is suspend you for the next two weeks, without pay, and you will attend the next operational security class the academy has…on your own sickle. Again, you’re lucky. It starts on the third. Know this, though. The next time you do something so abysmally stupid as this, you will be out on your arse with no chance of ever finding a job in any Auror force in the civilized world! Now get out of my office!”
Diaz didn’t need to be told twice. He bolted from the chair like he’d been scalded and was out the door a second later.
When Diaz had gone, Shack turned to Hammer and said: “We need to run a class that teaches our trainees how to resist the influence of the opposite sex.”
Harry read the article with pensive fascination. Seeing his Jedi were waiting for him, he stood up.
“OK, you all see the paper. You all know that Voldemort is getting desperate. What does this mean for us?” He looked around. When no one answered, he did.
“Very little. We know that in war, people die. Fudge made himself a target by taking bribes from Malfoy. When Malfoy’s vault was denied him, he apparently decided to go elsewhere. Since Fudge was the one who’d received the most in bribes, it stood to reason he’d have it where he could guard it. Since he detested the goblins, that left his estate. Obviously someone in Voldemort’s group, probably Malfoy himself, knew that Fudge stored it there.”
Later that day, Severus entered his quarters for the first time.
Inside, the room was an unmitigated disaster. Tapestries as old as the castle itself, had been savaged by the uncontrolled flames. Snape’s family tree over the mantle was a charred ruin. His prized desk, the desk that had given him such trouble of late, was now a smouldering heap of wood. Paintings had caught and burned merrily.
He stood before the blackened and empty frame of his beloved father’s portrait, aching to see his progenitor one more time.
Alas, when the last remaining canvas was destroyed, the memory of Septimus Snape was destroyed as well.
Surprisingly enough, the painting of his mother, Eileen Prince, was undamaged.
Severus sighed. He hadn’t spoken to his mother in ages. She’d dared to espouse the idea that mudbloods were the equal of all, and so, he’d thrown her frame into the cupboard.
Now, when he wanted to see a familiar face…even one with the wrong sort of views, she was nowhere to be found. He called into the frame many times over the next few days to no avail. She refused to return.
“Crucio!” Voldemort snarled, at the man on the floor. The ragged fool screamed in utter agony, before he simply stopped. His body continued to shudder from the random nerve impulses, but he was clearly dead. Sneering, Voldemort lifted his wand and nodded to the black clad terrorists to stack the body on a cart, with the others. Another man, beaten and bloody was forced through the cordon into the middle of the room.
“You dared to try to leave my service!”
The pitiful wretch couldn’t meet his erstwhile master’s eyes.
“For that, the sentence is death! Crucio!”
Again shrieks resounded throughout the room as the beaten man fell to the parquet writhing in utmost agony.
His torment went on for a good long time. Even in his current state, Voldemort was an expert in the Cruciatus. To him it was like breathing. While he had not invented it, no one knew who had, nor had he turned it to the intentional torture of other human beings, that had been Grindelwald, Tom Marvolo Riddle had taught himself both to withstand it and to apply it with a surgeon’s touch. Only Bellatrix had come close to his mastery of the torture curse.
Unfortunately the thought of his most fervent supporter and her gruesome demise at the hands of Amelia Bones, made him lose both his concentration and his temper. The defecting Death Eater’s shriek broke off with a sharp crack as his neck broke from the sudden additional strain.
He sighed in irritation, lifted his wand and nodded again.
Two Death Eaters lifted the body and carried it to the cart and the last of the captured defectors was hustled forward.
“You like your foolish friends dared to try to leave my service!” He growled. This time, he got a surprising answer. No groveling, no pleading, no oaths of everlasting loyalty. Instead what he got was: “Fuck you, Riddle! You half-blooded freak!”
His death was all too short. Voldemort lost his composure entirely and howled: “Avada Kedavra!” The green light flashed and the Death Eater…tasted death.
Voldemort wasn’t done yet, though. Not in the slightest. His rage was legendary. Freely casting the Cruciatus and not a few killing curses, he vented his wrath on his minions.
In each of their minds, including the thirty or so who’d just been marked the day before, a single thought was percolating. ~Were they right? Is it better to stay and serve this madman, or would it be safer to seek sanctuary elsewhere?~
A/N: People discount boxing as a martial art, but it can be just as deadly as any other form of combat. Dudley has several years worth of training and weighs a bit over three hundred fifty pounds, a lot of which has been developed into muscle, specifically the muscles in his arms and shoulders. Given that training, I’d say he is easily capable of killing a couple of unprepared Death Eaters.
Using my valuation system, which I think is more reasonable than Rowling’s, a 10 ₲ fine is about £171.90 or around US$ 310.oo. A rather steep price to pay for venting your spleen.
What better present for a naughty Dumbledore than a lump of coal?
Escarcega was a buddy of mine from the Marine Corps. Here’s to ya, ‘Cega!