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 Bri...
Thursday, December 26, 1991
"Are you alright, Harry?" Emma Granger asked.
"No, not entirely," Harry managed to say as he swayed a bit. "May Hermione see me through the floo?" He had just arrived, but he did look ill enough to want to leave early.
Emma looked at Harry more closely. The boy was sweating and very pale. "Would it be better for her to get someone?"
"No, not really," Harry answered through gritted teeth. "Magical migraines from a curse scar need to be treated with darkness, lots of ice water, and attention, plus Moony really needs to know."
"Let me get you to bed," Emma said briskly. "Hermione can fetch Mister Lupin or Mister Black and then supply all the attention you need."
"Fine," Harry said, and then passed out.
"What's happened, cub?" Remus asked quietly twenty minutes later, when Harry managed to come out of whatever state he had drifted into. Harry was laying in the darkened guest room with Hermione and Sirius. Hermione had Harry's head on her lap and was holding an ice pack on his scar.
"He's come back," Harry answered quietly. "It was done by the same sorcerer who joined Voldemort to Quirrell. They used as much of the skeletons of both of Voldemort's paternal grandparents that his agents could find. I'm not certain whose blood they primarily used. . . ."
"Probably Hestia's," Remus mused. "We found out this morning that she was attacked late yesterday afternoon and was cut pretty badly."
"Probably," Harry agreed. "More importantly, they also used some of my blood."
Hermione and Remus both hissed in anger, while Sirius demanded, "How did they get that!?"
"Shhh!" Hermione commanded in a soft but harsh voice. "Unless you want Mum to know all about this."
"Sorry," Sirius whispered.
"I already told you what happened last night at the Weasleys before I came here," Harry reminded them. "In retrospect, I think Percy was under the Imperius. Remus, you should check and see how he is."
"Right," Remus said.
"And the flesh?" Sirius asked nervously.
"Bellatrix," Harry replied tersely.
"She cut off her hand?" Sirius seemed surprised.
"No," Harry answered with a very distressed look. "She sliced up under her breasts and then skinned the flesh off into the cauldron, one at a time. Just as I passed out, I saw the sorcerer afixing the skin with the nipples back on her bloody chest." All four swallowed back the bile this image had produced.
Harry swallowed again, and said. "Voldemort looked different from the last time; shorter, softer. Instead of a snake with red eyes, he looked a bit more like a slug with pink eyes. Still, he looked . . . vile. Evil."
"Corrupt?" Hermione suggested.
Harry nodded, shivering. "A dead thing." Hermione hugged her friend, while Remus and Sirius looked at each other.
"Remus, you check on Percy," Harry directed tiredly. "Sirius, you get to Dumbledore and then keep an eye on Draco. I would imagine Alastor is already making the rounds."
"You still don't trust Draco?" Remus asked.
"I don't trust Voldemort from not making a try at him," Harry retorted. "He's their most obvious way into my friends, other than an Imperius attack."
"Good point," Sirius sighed. "It's bad enough I have to spend a week with Lucius and Sissy, isn't it?"
"Draco is getting human, and little Cassie is still your goddaughter."
Sirius merely nodded. "True." The pair left.
Harry relaxed in Hermione's embrace, but said, "I need to nap."
"Then nap," she retorted even more softly, while running her fingers through his hair with one hand while holding the ice pack with the other.
And Harry did.
Friday, December 27, 1991
The select group came out of Harry's memory of Voldemort's rebirth, all looking distinctly queasy. The two Dumbledores, Moody, Sirius, Remus, Snape, McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Minister Fudge (who was one of three people who promptly vomited on coming fully back into their bodies), Madam Bones, eight British aurors, Arthur Weasley, and nine representatives of different western European ministries and the International -- all were shocked to different degrees.
"Are you certain this so-called 'vision' is accurate?" Fudge finally protested. "If this boy is having visions. . . ."
"He is a natural Occlumens," Dumbledore said. "Only the extremity of the ceremony made the connection active. And yes, it was accurate. Voldemort has been restored to a body. He is dangerous, and as evil as ever. Now that he has been reembodied, however, he is mortal. We must, if it is possible, track down this sorcerer who helped him and see that he is punished for undertaking such a Dark ceremony, not to mention having Hestia Jones assaulted and placing Percy Weasley under the Imperius." Arthur winced. At least Percy was now free of the Curse, and the only damage was his shame.
"We know of this sorcerer," the representative from the Hungarian Ministry stated. "It will not be easy accessing his estate."
"You all know those suspected of being Death Eaters, or those convicted but released," Dumbledore stated. "Professor Snape here, and perhaps Igor Karkaroff, Lucius Malfoy, and his two hirelings are the only ones I would suggest do not need immediate attention." Fudge relaxed slightly.
"Do you have a list of suspects I can compare to who we already have on our lists?" Madam Bones asked.
"I do," Dumbledore said, passing a copy to each of the law enforcement people.
"What do you think he'll do?" the French official asked nervously.
"He may attempt to contact the giants, vampires, werewolves, and dementors," Dumbledore stated. "The vampires should continue to reject him, as will most of the werewolves, other than those associated with Fenrir Greyback."
"He's been at large too long," Remus growled. "He's been behind nearly every werewolf infection in Europe for almost forty years."
"Like many of the werewolves, the giants are also very disorganized these days. The dementors are holding at the moment, but should Voldemort promise them free feeding and breeding. . . ."
The group shuddered.
"Would you trust any of these . . . groups, other than the dementors?" Fudge demanded. He believed that anything connected with the Ministry was 'good', including the dementors.
"The vast majority of werewolves wish to be helped and to be allowed to work, with safe havens for the nights of the full moon and medical treatment thereafter. Vampires want to retain the right to draw blood from Muggle victims, providing they do not seriously injure those victims. I believe the vast majority of both groups can be dealt with fairly and they will not believe Voldemort's blandishments. The giants are more difficult to deal with," Dumbledore admitted, "and the dementors can only be kept on our side by satisfying their demands on Azakaban." Dumbledore glared at Fudge, making the Minister squirm. "Are you prepared to swear that Sirius here was the only innocent on that island?"
"I would hope so," Fudge blustered. "I believe so."
"I've gone over all the files myself," Madam Bones said quietly. "There are only three I'm not totally convinced belong there. I've had them moved to the less affected parts of the prison."
"Were they all just tossed in without a trial, like me," Sirius demanded.
"Actually, yes," Madam Bones answered. "There were twelve all together. You were released, two died. We found more evidence against the other six. As for those three, well, the evidence still points to their guilt, but we are looking into their cases and like I said, they've been moved further from the dementors."
Fudge was not to be distracted. "Are you certain about the werewolves, Albus?" His assistant, Delores Umbridge, was certainly vocal on this as on a few other subjects.
"Yes," Dumbledore said firmly. "We must make certain they can earn a living, and are kept track of. It is those who fall through the cracks who pose a threat. We did it for the vampires, after all."
"True," Fudge admitted. His eyes roamed the room. "Weasley. Do you have time to take this on? Making some concrete proposals, so that we can safely look after them, without them rebelling?"
Arthur glanced at Remus, who nodded. "If you mean modeling something like the vampire regulations instead of the repressive measures we currently have, then yes," Arthur agreed, "I believe I can have something by early February, if not earlier."
"We already have such regulations," the German representative pointed out. "The British laws are the strictest."
"True, but Greyback hasn't operated out of this country too often," Fudge pointed out.
"True rogues, like Greyback, always have to be outside the pale," Remus said.
"Most of the giants are in central Asia," the Spanish representative mused. "Maybe we can get everyone to agree to reserves for them, the Russians supplying the land, the rest of us the money for upkeep."
"If you can negotiate something, we'll sign on," Fudge said. "Someone else needs to take the lead on the giants." Selling the werewolf changes would be hard enough.
"I must ask you all to consider releasing this statement, and image," Dumbledore said. Remus handed copies of the press release around. "I don't think this will alarm people, but it will get things started."
The various officials looked it over. It was clear this idea was right up at the line Fudge was willing to agree to at this point, but he did agree. Without Lucius Malfoy whispering in his ear, Fudge was almost useful.
After the officials left, Albus looked at Remus, Sirus, Moody, and his brother with some satisfaction.
"I'm surprised Fudge went along," Sirius stated.
"It was mostly due to Harry's ideas," Albus admitted. "With Lucius out of the country and not pushing Cornelius against us, and with the support of the others, he felt Fudge would go along."
"What is it?" Sirius asked Remus, who had a very bemused look on his face.
"I was thinking about Harry's Christmas, actually," Remus said.
"What about it?" Aberforth inquired.
"Think about what Harry has gone through these last few days. Think about how much money he knows he has, and will have in the future. And do you know what his favorite gifts were, and still are?"
"Something Hermione gave him, no doubt," Sirius said drily.
"No," Remus said. "It was a green jumper Molly made for him by hand, and a pair of matching socks Dobby made for him. How that boy came out more-or-less normal after all he's been through is a miracle."
Hermione jumped guiltily as a knock sounded on her door. She had been admiring herself in a bright green jumper (which she had bought herself, because it matched Harry's eyes exactly), looking at the simple white gold chain Harry had given her, and looking at her teeth, which Harry slightly shrunk right before he left.
Hermione tucked the necklace away. "Come in!" she called, glancing at the clock, and seeing that she still had a few moments before bedtime.
Emma and Dan came in. "What's wrong?" Hermione asked, seeing their expressions.
"Remus Lupin stopped by," Dan said. "He had rather disturbing news."
"And that was?"
"This Voldemort has regained his body."
Hermione nodded, as if to say, 'Go on.'
"Your friend Harry once said that if that happened, there might be a war," Emma pointed out.
"There might be," Hermione agreed.
"We haven't made any decisions yet," Dan told her, "but just so you know, we are considering all our options, should a war break out."
"Such as?" Hermione asked.
"You know my brother has asked us many times to come to join him in his practice in Perth," Emma told her.
"I understand," Hermione said. "I would miss you, but I would understand."
"I don't think you do, Princess," Dan said. "If we went, you'd be coming with us, of course."
Hermione shook her head. "That's not possible," she told her parents. "You enrolled me in Hogwarts, and even though you are not magical, it was a magical contract. All three parties would have to agree to it for that to happen."
"Three parties?" Emma asked.
"The two of you in agreement, the school, and myself," Hermione answered. "And I will never abandon Harry. Ever."
"You look worried, pup," Remus teased. He was the only person 'in the know' really allowed to treat Harry as a child.
"I am," Harry answered, "but probably not about what you think I should be worried about."
"You should be worried a little about what Voldemort is up to," Remus pointed out.
"I am, a little," Harry retorted. "I am more worried about these unknown allies of Voldemort's. We trusted Dumbledore would somehow find out who Voldemort visited last summer, and we still have no idea. Still, personally, that's not what's bothering me at the moment."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Remus asked.'
"At some point," Harry agreed. "I meant to ask Sirius before he left, by the way, have there been any complaints about his courses?"
Remus shrugged. "A few owls from Pure Bloods, and only about the course the Magical-Raised have to take." He eyed Harry narrowly. "Except for Voldemort's bodily return, aren't things going well?"
"On the surface, yes," Harry retorted.
"Good point," Remus agreed. "I'll ask Alastor what has been found out about what Voldemort was up to last summer. Just because you or I haven't been told, that doesn't mean there isn't anything to know. After all, Harry. . . ."
"Please don't tell me about the 'need-to-know' and all that nonsense," Harry retorted. "Even if an argument can be made that I don't need to know the details about such things, I DO need the general outline of what is going on around us. Sooner or later, that information is going to be biting ME on the arse."
Remus thought about that for a moment, then nodded. "You're right, of course. I'll mention that to Mad-eye."
"After you do, THEN you and I will talk about what's worrying me the most."
Saturday, December 28, 1991
Lucius Malfoy sat on a bench, watching the sun rise over the southern Indian Ocean. His estate in southern Africa just did not have the same feel as the ancestral estate in England.
Still, for what amounted to an exile in everything but legality, life was pleasant. He sighed when he heard someone approach. "What is it, dear cousin?" he demanded with disdain.
"It seemed as if there were things you wanted to say to me," Sirius retorted. "I thought you might want to get them off your chest."
Lucius sighed. "Very well. In some ways, I hate what is happening to my son, never mind to myself. On the other hand, considering how you could be training him while keeping within the letter of your vows, you have done the family a favor."
"Thank you, I think," Sirius said with a grin. "Care to explain?"
"You could be training him to serve Potter," Lucius pointed out. "You are not training him to serve the family, but you are training him to improve the family's standings."
"His name is now Black-Malfoy," Sirius pointed out, "even if he won't be known as that except in formal settings."
"I didn't know you cared about your family name so much," Lucius stated, now with an out-right sneer.
"There was a time when I despised it," Sirius retorted. Regulus' turning on Voldemort had reconciled Sirius to the idea of his family, since they were all dead now anyway. "Now I want all the chances I can get to redeem that name." He grinned. "The fact that my parents would disapprove of this even more than you do adds to the appeal."
"I will be frank with you," Lucius said. "I still do not believe that your plan can work. We are too different from the Muggles, and we grow more different every year."
"Actually, it is they who are growing, we who are staying where we were," Sirius pointed out. "There are plenty of Muggles who hate that, in very different ways from you and from each other. I doubt, even in our grandchildren's lifetimes, if it won't be easy to avoid mainstream Muggle culture." Sirius shrugged. "And who knows, by then the fools may have destroyed the environment and crashed their civilization, leaving us where you want us anyway."
"Oh, be still my heart," Lucius retorted drily.
"You know," Sirius mused, "I sometimes wish I could go back and give one ancestor of mine a good stiff boot in the arse. You would want to even more."
"Well, one more than the others," Sirius allowed. "Constantine Black, back in the 1720s."
"What did he do?"
"He collected an amazing coalition against an idea," Sirius said. "The people running our world were going to remove all Muggle-born and many of who we would call Muggle-raised children from their parents at the age of three and raise them magically. It was a well-thought out scheme."
"And he opposed it because?"
"Well, he opposed letting the Muggle-born in at all," Sirius replied. "Others were against removing children from their parents, even if they were Muggles. Most, however, fought the idea because they would have had to pay for the raising of the children. If the scheme had worked," Sirius explained, "they wouldn't have been raised as paupers or as charity cases, but more like dependents of the great houses used to be."
"Expensive," Lucius allowed.
"Still, they wouldn't have resented their position as much as if they had been raised as magical orphans have been since," Sirius pointed out. "Oh, and magical orphans were included in this scheme. You can probably guess the outcry."
"Why waste good gold on Mudbloods and bastards?" Lucius suggested.
"Exactly," Sirius agreed.
"Maybe it's time to start resurrecting the idea," Lucius mused. "I have a tame historian still on my payroll. He might do a monograph, and we'll see how it flies."
"Good idea," Sirius agreed, for his own reasons.
Remus and Mad-eye came to talk to Harry in his room at the Dumbledores' just before he went to sleep.
"I need to talk to the two of you about next summer," Harry said. "You can brief Sirius when he gets back."