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...
Friday, February 14, 1992
Harry sat in a very comfy love seat and surveyed the Gryffindor common room. Hermione lay on the love seat, her head in Harry's lap, her feet (encased in pink bunny slippers that George had animated the eyes of) hanging off an arm, reading a book on Transfiguration theory he had not been able to make heads or tails of until his Sixth year his first time through Hogwarts. He smiled as he watched Hermione fingering the small platinum heart charm he had given her that morning, and which Hermione had immediately added to the chain he had given her for Christmas.
Next to them, the other Gryffindor First years were sitting around a table, finishing their assignments. The next day was a Hogsmeade weekend, and while they and the Second years were not allowed to go, this meant that the youngest students would have the run of the full common room for once. Plus, many of them had pooled their pocket money and some of the nicer older students would bring them back sweets from the village. (They had all learned not to rely on the Weasley twins, and a few of the older students, like Percy, were too stiff and distant to be asked.)
Harry was very satisfied with the way things were going this time around. For one thing, Arthur Weasley, with some help from Remus and Diggle, had sent up the proposed werewolf regulations two weeks after Fudge had requested them. A faction within the Ministry, led by Delores Umbridge, had opposed them but Fudge had pushed them through earlier that week.
Obviously, not having Lucius Malfoy around was a better thing than Harry had anticipated.
Harry knew he was not as close to Ron this time, but he was friendlier with many of the other First years. In Gryffindor, this especially meant Neville, Dean, and Susan. Having Susan in Gryffindor rather than Hufflepuff seemed to bridge all their differences. She was friendlier to Hermione than Lavender or Parvati had ever been, but was friends with those two as well. In fact, she was friends with everyone. While Harry was their acknowledged leader, and Hermione the one who made certain they all did their homework correctly, it was Susan who made certain they all got along.
Harry wondered if it was his own work with Neville which had brought the shy boy out of his shell four years early, or the fact that everyone, especially he and Susan, treated him more as an equal this time around. Of course, not having Snape snarl at him in every Potions class helped as well.
All this did tend to make Ron fade a bit into the background. Harry had noticed this the first night at Hogwarts, although he had had so many more important things on his mind.
The first time, he and Neville, the two shyest, had immediately gone to the two beds on either side of the room. This time, while Harry had gone to his usual bed, it was Neville who had claimed the bed next to him, while Ron had retreated to the far side of the room. This Ron was a lot more uncertain of his friendship with Harry. Ron had been shocked that Harry would accept the twins' invitation to spend Christmas night at the Burrow, and was shocked that Harry thought of him as a close friend.
Harry wondered if this was why Percy was even more distant and at times almost hostile, at least compared to the original First year. Harry hadn't gotten into nearly as much trouble this time, so that couldn't be it. Of course, Scabbers had already been revealed as Petter Pettigrew, plus Percy had been put under the Imperius in order to attack Harry -- those probably contributed a great deal to Percy's feelings. It was also, no doubt, that Harry was the leader of the First years, not one of the Fifth year prefects who were in nominal control of them.
Within Gryffindor, the only students above the Second years who paid Harry any real constant attention (they often came to him for help with their practical spell work, since he was obvious ahead of them) were the Quidditch team members. Oliver respected his talent and the girls thought it was 'cute' how he treated Hermione, and had adopted the pair as their favorites. The twins, of course, really respected Harry for his connections to the Marauders, even if they thought him too studious.
Outside his House, Harry really only led some of the First years. Hannah and Justin reported that the older Hufflepuffs liked how Harry was bringing the First years together in what they regarded as a very Hufflepuff manner. The young Cedric Diggory had even deigned to speak to the much younger Harry a few times to encourage what he was up to, as had a few others. Zacharius Smith was the only First year Hufflepuff to try and fight against Harry's influence so far.
Zacharius, Harry had always suspected, had been placed in Hufflepuff only for the lack of a better place to put him, much like Crabbe and Goyle had been placed in Slytherin. He couldn't have been Sorted into Slytherin, because both his parents were first generation Squibs. Smith had proven himself a coward on several occasions in his last year at school the first time around, and while sly, he was not really smart enough for Ravenclaw.
Harry was not too worried about him.
Padma, Tracey, and Anthony gave Harry good information about Ravenclaw. There were actually a number of people in that House who had either taken the Dark Mark or had leaned in that direction in Harry's first experience -- for example Michael Corner and Stephen Cornfoot from his year had taken the Mark and Kevin Entwhistle had been killed for backing out at the last moment. There was also the Clique who had made Luna's life difficult. Harry liked and respected Professor Flitwick as a teacher more than any instructor at Hogwarts (although Remus and McGonagall came close), but knew he could not directly interfere with the inner workings of Ravenclaw, at least not yet. Instead, he concentrated his work in Defense and Charms, and made certain that Sirius sent him to Flitwick for extra coaching. He hoped he could actually make friends with the Professor the next year.
Slytherin, of course, was even more of a problem than Ravenclaw. Draco's two stooges went along with Draco's reformed ideas because their parents had trained them for ten years to follow Draco Malfoy. Harry took it upon himself to give them extra coaching, and the two were actually almost pleasant at times, if very confused over what seemed to be happening to them and around them. Millicent Bulstrode was again hanging about Crabbe and Goyle, perhaps, Harry thought uncharitably, because it was only compared to those two that she really looked feminine.
Harry was glad to see that Daphne Greengrass was also hanging about Draco, something she had avoided the first time around until the end of the Fifth year. Ted Nott and Pansy Parkinson, however, stayed closer to the older pro-Death Eaters in the House, while Zabini and the other two girls, Margot Rivers and Doreen Spinks, seemed to aiming for neutrality at the moment.
All-in-all, Harry was content.
"Don't you think it might be good for you First years to get to bed?" Percy demanded, suddenly looming over Harry's loveseat. "Even if it is the weekend, you lot still get up early for those exercises you do." Harry was teaching a number of students rudimentary Tai Chi while Hermione coaxed them in meditation, plus they jogged through the castle three times a week.
Harry glanced at the mantel clock and saw it was 10:45. "I suppose you're right," Harry answered.
"Then get going!" Percy snapped, shocking most of the assembled students with the tone of his voice.
"That's it," Harry muttered, glaring so nastily that Percy beat a hasty retreat.
Saturday, March 1, 1992
It was just over two weeks later when Harry managed to corner Percy. This was not through Harry's lack of effort. Percy had decided to avoid the First year as much as possible. The look that Harry had given him had seared right through his magic. Here was a student who had killed a professor -- one possessed by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, which might make it acceptable, but even more frightening.
He also seemed to be creating his own little army, with a few support troops in the immediate years above him, such as his twin brothers -- which was also frightening in its own way.
Yet the boy had an air of command, and when Harry trapped Percy in an unused classroom that Saturday morning and demanded explanations, Percy felt obliged to give them.
Percy, despite being the only inhibited Weasley, was also in many ways one of the smartest. From his readings in History of Magic and Muggle Studies, he had formed an idea of how society should work. The individual, while needing freedoms and liberties, must not be allowed to trample over others. The only way for that to work was to have a strong central government, dedicated to protecting the rights of all, and with the power to enforce the agreed upon rules.
A person like Harry was in some ways as dangerous to such a system as one like Voldemort. Harry had the charisma to be a demagogue. In Harry's previous life, Percy had feared that Harry could even become another Dark Lord, and he worried about that even more this time around. Add in the influence that Harry had on Percy's family (which had been even greater the first time around than this time, although of course Percy couldn't know that), and Harry understood Percy's concerns.
"In principle," Harry said slowly and thoughtfully after hearing out Percy's twenty minute lecture on these general ideas, "you're right of course."
"You mean you agree with me?" Percy asked, stunned that a First year would actually even understand what Percy meant.
"In principle," Harry pointed out. "In reality, though, there are at least two major problems with your stance."
"And those are?" Percy demanded.
"First, the Ministry isn't the sort of government you say you want," Harry pointed out. "The Minister and the various councils aren't elected. The Ministry isn't a representative democracy, like most of the European and North American Muggles have. It's an oligarchy." Seeing Percy's stunned look, Harry added, "An oligarchy. . . ."
". . . is a government that is run by a self-selected group, perpetuated by continuing selecting its own replacements, usually from an elite social group," Percy finished. He thought about that. He blinked.
Potter was right! Percy had never realized in either time-stream that the Ministry he so admired wasn't what he thought it was. He had merely accepted what it claimed for itself.
"Like the Muggle Roman and Renaissance Italian Republics, or the communist dictatorships that are just falling in Eastern Europe," Harry agreed. "The Ministries in Europe are oligarchies, Percy. They select their leadership from their civil services and the old families. So, whose interests do they primarily defend? The civil services and the old interests, provided they don't transgress the public peace too openly." Percy winced at that.
"That also means that public policy is partially held hostage to those old interests," Harry pursued. "Magical Britain is taxed at less than one percent of the rate Muggle Britain is. In part, that's because we can do a number of things by magic that Muggles have to pay for, and in part because even a fair number of Muggles think the Muggle taxes are too high for the services they get back, but it also means that a number of public projects are paid for by wealthy patrons, like Lucius Malfoy. He was a Death Eater the last time around, and got around going to prison, or even Kissed, by paying for St. Mungo's to be updated and expanded. If we paid a bit more in taxes, the government could have paid for it, and Malfoy and the Death Eaters he got off with him would not have been influencing Ministry policy for over a decade. None of that is in the text books, but the same sort of thing happened after Grindelwald was defeated."
"That may be true," Percy had to admit. "But still. . . ."
"Don't be fooled by your father," Harry broke in. Percy looked confused. "Your father is a good person, and is hard-working, honest, and competent." Harry gave Percy a half-smile. "If everyone in the Ministry was as good a person as your father, the Ministry would be nearly perfect. Of course, if everyone was like your father, we probably wouldn't even need a Ministry."
Harry then frowned. "But people aren't all like your father, and that brings me to the second flaw in your reasoning. People like Grindelwald and Voldemort exist in part because the Ministries still aren't strong enough to do more than run the basics or threaten the weak, especially in Europe. The choices then are to sell out what few freedoms we have for a little short-term safety, or follow someone or at least allow someone to take the fight against any would-be Dark Lord."
Harry sighed. "The last time, that person was Dumbledore. This time, I hate to say, it's me."
Harry looked Percy in the eye. "I haven't even told Hermione all the details, Percy, but a Prophecy was made. I am the only person who can destroy Voldemort. Maybe the Prophecy has already been fulfilled," Harry said hopefully. "Maybe by stopping him in 1981 and again in September I fulfilled what needed to be done." Actually, of course, Harry hoped he had fulfilled the Prophecy by destroying the Horcruxes and forcing Voldemort into an inferior body, although everyone in on the secret doubted it was likely. "Still, I have to think like I still have more to do."
It was the slight tone of hope, followed by despair, that convinced Percy that Harry was telling the truth. Since September, a few of the students had started calling Harry 'the Chosen One'.
Perhaps they were right.
Percy looked ashamed.
"Look," Harry said, "if you think I'm upset about Scabbers, or even about what happened at Christmas. . . ."
"Maybe you're not, but it doesn't make dealing with you any easier," Percy complained.
"I know," Harry sympathized. "And it's probably hard for you to see the twins and Ron treat me the way you want them to treat you."
"That doesn't mean I want to undermine you," Harry told the older boy.
"But you do," Percy complained. "Even if you don't mean to, you do."
Harry sighed. "Look," Harry said, "you've spent most of the school year trying to work against me, when I don't want to. Has it worked?"
Percy scowled. Arguing with Potter was not like arguing with his younger siblings. It was more like arguing with Bill. "No," he finally admitted.
"Then why don't we try working together?" Harry suggested. "For the good of the students now, for the good of wizarding Britain later. I have no desire to be the next Dark Lord, or the first Light Lord, if there is such a thing," Harry stated firmly.
"What?" Percy asked, disbelieving, "are you offering to make me your front man in the Ministry?"
'Damn, Percy is sharp,' Harry thought. "No," Harry retorted. "One of the people working with me in the Ministry."
"Meaning if I put all the influence I would have if I defeat Voldemort behind one person, that person might make Minister of Magic. It would also mean that I have too much influence, and so might that one person."
Percy thought about everything he knew about Potter and his gang. Suddenly, an anomaly made sense. "Malfoy," Percy sneered. Potter's people must have made a deal with Lucius Malfoy which included pushing young Draco up the Ministry ladder. That got the elder Malfoy out of Britain, and lessened his influence at the Ministry.
Potter would honor his agreements, of course. Percy did know Harry well enough to know that. However, it looked like he would also arrange some safeties within the system.
"Why me?" Percy asked.
"Because you are aiming for a career within the Ministry, and I bet you're just the type of person the Ministry people like. And, unlike a lot of people, I think -- or at least I hope -- you care about both the system and the people the system is supposed to serve. I think the current Minister cares most about the system. I would say your father cares more about the people it's supposed to serve."
"Go on," Percy said. "Again, why me?"
Harry looked Percy straight in the eye. "Because you're a Weasley. That means despite any differences you might have with anyone -- your family, colleagues, even a patron -- you're a truly honorable person."
Percy gave Harry a twisted smile. "You mean because I'm Ron's brother?" Both saw the irony, since both knew Ron had an inferiority complex.
"It means I know you and your family because of Ron," Harry corrected. He knew better than to mention his friendship with the twins, who loved teasing their older brother. Harry knew Percy was a fiercely loyal person. He just hoped he could get that loyalty which Percy had attached to the Ministry in his first life transferred at least in part to him.
Percy thought about his ambitions and scruples. Then, he nodded. "We'll work on it."
Saturday, June 6, 1992
Albus Dumbledore smiled genially at the boy seated before him. Harry glared back.
Dumbledore sighed. "Harry, it's long past the time for us to discuss the up-coming summer."
Harry shrugged. "It's been planned since December." He grinned at the Headmaster. "You mean Moody, Sirius, and Remus haven't mentioned the summer?" he added, disingenuously.
"No," Dumbledore retorted, "they haven't. No matter. Harry, with Voldemort returned to his body, I think it would be wise to return, for a short time, to the Dursleys."
"If you think I would ever step foot in Privet Drive again. . . ."
"Actually," Dumbledore mused, "they had to leave Little Whinging."
"Let me guess," Harry retorted with an evil grin added in. "They had to report me missing, and when all the abuse reports you covered up over the years came to light, they were suspected of killing me off. You interfered as much as you could, but the rumors still drove them out."
"More or less," Dumbledore admitted.
"And despite the abuse, and despite the fact they almost certainly hate me more than ever, you think it would be a good idea to spend some 'quality time' with my so-called family?" Harry's voice was flat. It wasn't incredulous, because he had suspected Dumbledore would spring this idea sooner or later.
"I am certain. . . ."
"You really do hate me, don't you?"
That shocked Dumbledore. Dumbledore was rendered speechless.
"You must, unless there's some other reason you want me to suffer," Harry went on remorselessly. "I can never, ever, call where ever the Dursleys live 'home'. I never could. That's why the blood protections never worked as well as you, for some reason, always thought they would. Not that you ever checked carefully." Harry stood. "If you ever bring this idea up again, we are through. If you somehow force me into their custody, I will wreck their lives and leave, and this time I won't be back to help you. Do I make my self clear?"
"Very," Dumbledore admitted. He would have to rethink the idea.
Harry turned to leave.
"May I ask what your summer plans are?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry turned back. "After the exams are over, Hermione and I are going to start a select group studying Occlumency," Harry answered. "I don't know if I would ever share my real secret with any of them -- I doubt it, in fact -- but it would make any later secrets easier for them to keep. We'll also exercise, and when we return, we can practice defense."
"And the group would be?"
"Draco, Daphne, Padma, Tracey, Anthony, Hannah, Justin, Ernie, and all the other First year Gryffindors," Harry answered. "Maybe a few others." Dumbledore nodded. At least there would be some from each House.
"I'll spend most of the time until my birthday at the cottage, with some time at Grimmauld Place. Arthur Weasley is arranging warded floo access between Hermione's and Sirius', accessible only to Hermione and myself. Mad-eye has been planning my schedule for months. I'll have a birthday party at Sirius', and then spend two weeks with the Grangers on vacation. The Occlumency group will spend the last two weeks with me at the cottage if their parents agree, and so, we won't reveal the actual location to them."
Dumbledore nodded. With one exception, it was a fairly acceptable summer. "Are you certain about the vacation with the Grangers will be safe enough for all concerned?"
"Remus will be with us for most of it," Harry answered. "Sirius and Moody also contacted a cousin of Sirius' to join us."
Dumbledore's eyebrows went up.
"Nymphadora Tonks," Harry answered. Dumbledore relaxed. "She's trying to get through auror school. We've decided to hire her away from the Ministry. Her morphing abilities should come in handy. She'll be joining us for training all July. I'm willing to bet when we're done with her, she'll be better trained and less clumsy than she was the last time around."
"She is a good choice," Dumbledore agreed. "Her metamorphmagus abilities have really reached the highest point I have ever seen over the past year." A thought hit Dumbledore. "Is it a coincidence that you are throwing her and Remus together?"
"No," Harry admitted. "I have no idea if they'll fall in love again or not, especially since she's only nineteen and Remus is thirty-two. I can give them the chance."
"Well done," Dumbledore said. "Well done."
Saturday, June 27, 1992
Harry looked at his 'group' proudly as they waited to board the Hogwarts Express. None had any great natural ability in Occlumency, but they all showed they might be able to acquire the ability. Draco, Dean, and Padma showed the most ability, Ron, Lavender, and Seamus the least.
Each of the group brought something to the whole they were forming. Even Crabbe, Goyle, and Bulstrode, whom Draco had also insisted be brought in on the training, looked like they could be assets.
It was a good start, Harry decided. In fact, on the whole, the year had been wonderful, except for the major fact that Voldemort still had to be dealt with. He had formed a closer-knit group of First years than the DA had been, and it cut across all House lines. Draco seemed to be fully anchored to the group, and as arrogantly grandiose as the old Draco was (and the current Draco still was at times), he had been much more dangerous than Ted Nott or Pansy Parkinson might be this time.
Harry's flying (on a Nimbus 2000 which Sirius supplied him) was even better this time around. The Gryffindors had easily captured the Quidditch Cup, and Gryffindor had just squeaked a win over Slytherin in the House Cup.
Compared to the last time around, at least, it had been a good year. The fact that he would not be returning to the Dursleys made it even better.