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...
Chapter XIX Monday, November 23, 1992
Albus Dumbledore's head snapped up from the worthless set of intelligence reports he was rereading for the fifth time. Nowhere could he find a hint to Voldemort's location, his plans, or his allies. None of the known Death Eaters or important sympathizers seemed to have been contacted, and the Ministry surveillance had nothing to report.
Therefore, he welcomed the arrival of two of his staff coming up the stairs to his office. Until they arrived, that is.
"Horace, Severus, what may I do for . . . you. . . ?" Dumbledore's voice trailed off, as he saw that Severus had some sort of large rodent with orange incisors and a rat-like tail in a cage. The rodent was chattering away angrily.
"I do not understand."
"Potter," Snape spat.
"Most likely," Horace Slughorn agreed, obviously upset, but not to the degree as his much younger colleague. "To make things concise, this is Miss Parkinson."
"The rodent?" Dumbledore asked.
"Precisely," Slughorn agreed. "I admit, I have observed some . . . undercurrents in my Second year class between some of the Slytherins and some of the Gryffindors, especially on the part of Miss Parkinson directed against Miss Granger, and Mister Nott directed against Mister Weasley. All their comments were too soft for me to catch them, and for Mister Potter to catch them for that matter. Today, however, I turned just in time to see Miss Parkinson use her wand to pull a jar of acid off the shelves onto Miss Granger's head."
As Slughorn shook his head in sadness, Dumbledore demanded, "Was she seriously injured?"
"It was amazing," Slughorn admitted. "Potter's reflexes were so fast, the jar was stopped with a voiceless levitation spell half way to hitting her. Voiceless! A Second year!" He shook his head. "Then, while he was still levitating the jar with his wand, Miss Parkinson was turned into, well, whatever that is. I don't know how he did it, but I know no other Second year could have."
"So was anyone else hurt?" Dumbledore demanded.
"Fortunately, the seal held and no one was splashed," Slughorn stated. "However, even laying aside the fact that Miss Parkinson could have seriously injured, even killed Miss Granger directly, had any of the acid fallen into the cauldrons with the vanishing potion. . . ."
"Vanishing potion? Which kind?" Dumbledore asked.
"The kind for cleaning stains out of magically treated cloth," Slughorn stated. Dumbledore and Snape both winced. The result would have been a very toxic, even deadly, gas. "Exactly," Slughorn stated. "Miss Parkinson must either be expelled from class, if not Hogwarts, or some other equally severe punishment must be imposed."
"We should discuss that after she is restored." Dumbledore glanced at the cage. "And why is she still a rodent?"
"Because we can't change her back," Slughorn admitted.
"Really?" Dumbledore asked, amazed. Horace Slughorn was a powerful and canny wizard.
"I can't, Severus here can't, Filius couldn't, and neither could Minerva."
"Oh . . . my," Dumbledore said, surprised. "Where is Mister Potter?"
"He and Miss Granger should be along presently," Slughorn said. "Minerva went to fetch them from their current class."
"No doubt Black or his shadow will be with them," Snape muttered, since Harry and Hermione were now in the Magical Traditions class.
In fact, in short order, Harry, Hermione, Sirius, Remus, Flitwick, and McGonagall had joined the group in the Headmaster's office.
"Miss Granger? Are you feeling well?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes, sir," Hermione said tentatively. "I'm not used to having people trying to kill me," she added.
"We do not know that Miss Parkinson knew what was in the jar," Snape pointed out.
"All students should know by now that the Potions lab is NOT for playing pranks," Slughorn intoned.
"Yes, be that as it may," Dumbledore interrupted, "we are all glad that you were not injured, Miss Granger. Mister Potter, what did you transfigure Miss Parkinson into, and how?"
"I didn't transfigure Pansy into anything, sir," Harry answered.
Dumbledore frowned and waved his wand several times over the rodent, muttering. Finally, he admitted, "This creature does not appear to be transfigured, transformed, or even enchanted in anyway."
"Enchanted?" Snape demanded. "That's post N.E.W.T. work, at least at this level in any event!"
"I was merely taking in all possibilities," Dumbledore answered, frowning. "Whatever this is, it would not appear to be Miss Parkinson."
"But I saw her transform into this!" Slughorn protested.
"Do you know what this is?" Dumbledore asked Harry, pointing at the rodent.
"I haven't the faintest clue, other than it's a big rodent of some kind," Harry answered, unconcerned.
The teachers all frowned in puzzlement. "Harry," Remus finally asked, "do you have any idea of how Pansy Parkinson might have ended up looking like that, assuming that it is her?"
Harry shrugged. "She chose the form, or rather it chose her."
The adults are stared at Harry, confused. Finally, Snape said, "Look, Potter, you've had your joke. Tell us what you did!"
"Severus!" Remus remonstrated, "Manners!" Sirius was now in a corner, giggling, having figured things out. He therefore of no help whatsoever. Remus looked confused, and then started chortling as well.
Snape gritted his teeth, and asked, "Could you please inform us, MISTER Potter, exactly what it is you did?"
Harry turned to McGonagall. "What are the three ways to check to see if someone has an animagus form, Professor?"
McGonagall frowned, but answered, "There is an enchantment, usually used on mirrors, which shows the forms reflection. There is a potion, which will change you into the form, if any, for about three minutes. There is also a charm. . . ." Her eyes went wide. "Mister Potter! That is a highly classified spell! No one not a Transfiguration Master should even know it! And I cannot believe anyone under a Seventh year could make it work in any event!"
Harry shrugged. "It worked." He turned to Dumbledore. "May we leave now, sir?"
"I see," Dumbledore said. "That will be five points for your saving Miss Granger, and six points off for your using this charm on Miss Parkinson."
"Yes, sir," Harry said. He took Hermione's hand and the pair left. No one was certain, but they thought they heard Hermione giggling as the door shut, but it was difficult to tell, considering the laughing pair of Marauders on the floor.
"Oh, grow up the pair of you," McGonagall told them.
"But what about her?" Snape squawked, pointing at the rodent.
"Ah," Dumbledore said. "As you may know, an animagus actually becomes the animal, which is why there were no magical traces on Miss Parkinson."
"Well, there are only two ways for her to be changed back," McGonagall said. "One, that she wills herself back, or two, someone fires an incantation at her."
"And why is that a problem?" Snape demanded.
"The incantation is simple, in a sense," Remus managed to answer, since Sirius was still laughing hard but silently and unable to say anything. "In this case, it would be 'reveal the girl inside the. . .' well, whatever that is."
"You mean. . . ?"
"Exactly," McGonagall said. "We can't change her back until we know what the devil she changed into."
Remus undid the top of the cage. Rodent!Pansy laid there, shivering, twenty pounds of a rat-like creature. "Well, we can try 'reveal the girl inside the rodent'!" Remus commanded. The rodent expanded slightly, but then contracted back into its rodent form. Pansy started chattering angrily again.
"Call those two back here!" Snape demanded. "Have them find the creature's name!"
"Do you really want to wait until they find it?" Remus said softly. "They might not be in much of a hurry."
Snape glared, but said nothing. Instead, he turned and stamped away to look at reference books.
"I'll ask Aberforth," Dumbledore said. "He might know."
It took over a week to discover that Pansy had turned into a nutria, a South American rodent, also found in Louisiana and Texas waterways. Pansy was not amused that Christmas to receive a nutria fur coat and several tins of 'Nutria Gumbo' from anonymous givers (ie Sirius and Remus).
In the short term, she was also not amused to be given twenty-four hours of detention -- an hour each of the four week nights (Monday through Thursday) for six weeks, one third with Professor Slughorn, one third with Professor Snape, and the final, hardest third with Professor Black. Had she not had to spend so much time as a nutria, her punishment would have been worse.
It was on the day that Pansy was turned back into what passed for human that Harry again met with Dumbledore. Harry was glad that Pansy was back to being human (more-or-less), as he had won the betting pool the Weasley twins had going on the topic. As Dumbledore was trying to keep Harry in the information loop, he mentioned that Professor Snape had just learned that it had been Bellatrix Lestrange and Walden Macnair who had killed the Squib family on Halloween.
Harry agreed that it was too bad that this was not in any way legal evidence which could be used against Macnair, who might have no influence anywhere in the Ministry, but who no doubt was keeping his ears open.
Thursday, December 17, 1992
"Good morning, Severus," Dumbledore said. "You look troubled. Would you care for some tea?"
"I could use a brandy," Snape retorted.
"Severus!" Dumbledore wondered if Snape had finally developed a real drinking problem.
"Walden Macnair was found yesterday afternoon," Snape said. "He had failed to report to work Monday. To be honest, no one probably cared, as I am certain he was unpopular with his co-workers. Still, Amos Diggory sent some people to Macnair's shack yesterday afternoon to see if he was ill or something."
"And I take it he was worse than ill?" Dumbledore asked.
"He was very dead," Snape answered. "In fact, he had been executed."
Snape shook his head. "He had been bound hand and foot, but there was no sign of any type of torture. His head was set over a chunk of wood, and he was beheaded with the axe he used to execute condemned beasts. Soot from his fireplace was mixed with his blood and a copy of the Dark Mark was painted on one of the walls. Then a slash with fresh blood was painted over it. His forearm was bared, and the Dark Mark stood out on it, even after all the time he had been dead."
Dumbledore went very pale.
"Others could have found out that Macnair was working for the Dark Lord," Snape said. "They could even have discovered he was involved in Godric's Hollow. Could anyone, other than the Dark Lord, have raised the Dark Mark? Could Potter have done it?" He shook his head. "If it wasn't Potter, then there are no other guesses I can come up with."
"I do not see how," Dumbledore answered. "I would know if any student left the grounds."
"Are you certain of that, Headmaster?" Snape asked. "I mean that. Can you be that certain? It's not like we have tracking charms on them."
Dumbledore thought on that.
"Did you know the night I left the grounds, going by way of that tunnel to the Shrieking Shack?" Snape asked softly.
"No," Dumbledore had to admit, "I did not. I warded the tunnel afterwards, however."
"Would you swear you know every exit in and out of the castle and its grounds? You didn't know about the Chamber of Secrets, after all."
"Also true," Dumbledore had to admit. "But even so, how would Harry be able to track Macnair down? If the man lived within walking distance of Hogsmeade, maybe. But Harry could not have been absent long enough to have flown to . . . where did Macnair live? East Anglia, wasn't it?"
"You knew where Macnair lived?" Snape asked.
"Of course, I know where all suspected Death Eaters live." Dumbledore frowned. "I suppose it's possible, if not likely, Harry could have brought that information from the future. Still, how could he have gotten there from here?"
"He has a boy's body, but as you and the others keep reminding me, he is not a boy, he is in almost every way a twenty-year-old wizard," Snape retorted. "He certainly knew how to apparate, and for all we know can make his own portkeys."
Dumbledore remembered when he had 'liberated' Harry from Privet Drive. Harry had asked then where they were apparating to. "That is true, Severus."
"Well? What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing," Dumbledore stated. "Our way failed last time. While taking forceful action can lead to unsuspecting Dark traps in life, it appears as if our usual caution backfired. Harry has spared Lucius because he made a deal with Draco and because Lucius quit the field. He has said nothing about Crabbe and Goyle seniors for much the same reason. I have little doubt that any followers who abandon the field without committing fresh atrocities will also be spared."
"You mean you will allow their executions without a trial? You won't demand second or third chances?" Snape demanded.
"We allowed that to happen the last time," Dumbledore said sadly. "It didn't work, so I am afraid we must allow a stricter sense of justice to prevail this time from the start."
"Good," Snape said, shocking the Headmaster.
Dumbledore hesitated, then said, "Of course, it might not be Harry."
"I don't think we should ask," Snape said, although saying so made him want to vomit. "If Potter is behind us and can fool us, he can probably get away with this. I hate to say this, but we mustn't stir the waters."
Sunday, December 20, 1992
For the first time in many many years, no students were staying over at Hogwarts that Christmas. Dumbledore had therefore decreed, with no objections from any staff member, that only dinners would be in the great hall. He was therefore enjoying a very rare breakfast (sweet crepes and hot chocolate) in bed.
He was not happy to be disturbed, but when Snape knocked frantically on his door at 7:20 am, he bade him to enter.
Snape hurried into the Headmaster's private sanctum, and then stopped -- goggling. He had never been here this early in the morning. The sight of the headmaster in a dark velvet purple Victorian night gown with magical pink flamingos strutting around the gown, which was also decorated with electric blue pansies and vibrant green grass, would stop anyone not color blind. He spared a thought to wonder if this explained why the Headmaster had never married.
"What is it, Severus?" Dumbledore demanded, calling Snape back to matters at hand.
"This flyer has appeared all over magical Britain, Ireland, and several places in western and central Europe," Snape said nervously, holding it out.
Dumbledore frowned and took the large piece of parchment. Under the headline WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE with the next line (dead by preference) came a list of fifteen names, with moving photos of the people named. Dumbledore knew all fifteen names -- all associated with Voldemort and thirteen, it was (correctly) claimed, carried the Dark Mark. The fourteenth was Greyback. The fifteenth was the dark sorcerer who had brought Voldemort back into a body, Deitmar von Spitzbach. After the description and a wizarding photo of each of the 'wanted' came an amount in Galleons, ranging between 25,000 for a number of minor Death Eaters and, for Bellatrix Lestrange, 100,000. The body, once proven not to be someone else's under polyjuice or other magical disguises, could be turned into any branch of Gringotts for the reward.
"I don't understand," Dumbledore said, confused.
"Someone has put up something like. . . ." Snape estimated rapidly, "six hundred and fifteen thousand Galleons to declare a hunt on fifteen Death Eaters." He frowned. "This can't be legal!"
"It isn't, but since the goblins are unlikely to turn anyone in to a Ministry, how would the officials find out?" Dumbledore asked. "But how. . . ? No government would spend this type of money, especially with no warning."
"Harry does not have this kind of money to throw around."
"No one has that kind of money to throw around," Snape pointed out. The magical world was a very frugal one in many ways, other than for personal display. There had never been an award higher than 5,000 Galleons, and that had been for Grindelwald himself.
"I have to admit, I would never have thought of such a strategy," Dumbledore admitted.
Snape opened his mouth, but shut it. Not even the Dark Lord, only using his followers money, would want to offer rewards on anything near these amounts for his enemies. No government, considering the incredibly low taxation rates, would survive a revolt of the old families for this supplying kind of largesse.
Dumbledore looked at the details listed on the 'Wanted' poster again. "I note that none of those listed may collect on any of the others, but they may give themselves up if they wish their heirs to get the rewards."
"Black and Lupin must be in on this," Snape declared. "That sounds like something Lupin would think of. Black must have contributed some of the money."
"Perhaps," Dumbledore agreed.
There was suddenly another knock on the door. "I have not been this popular before breakfast since 1883," Dumbledore commented. "Come in!"
This time it was Moody, waving another copy of the poster. "Have you seen . . . oh, I see Snape beat me here about this."
"Indeed," Dumbledore agreed. "Do either of you know who has been distributing these?"
The two men looked at each other and frowned. "I had wondered if it might give us a definite clue as to who is behind this," Dumbledore pointed out.
"I didn't check," Snape admitted.
"I checked for any residual magic, but didn't find any," Moody admitted. "They just . . . appeared, in pubs, cafÃ©s, and such."
Another knock sounded. Dumbledore sighed and got out of bed, his breakfast forgotten. "Come in!" he called, pulling on an orange and lime green satin dressing gown.
Aberforth came in, holding up the poster. Moody and Snape raised theirs in return.
Snape turned to Moody. "I take it you would say that Potter and Black aren't behind this? with or without Lupin?"
"I can see why you'd think they might be," Moody admitted, "but I cannot see how they could have gotten this past me."
"Who else would have this much money to throw around?" Snape demanded.
The four wizards looked at each other, stumped.
At that moment, there was another knock on the door. When Dumbledore called out, in came little Professor Flitwick. The three wizards with posters waved them sullenly at Flitwick.
Filius frowned. "What are those?"
"You mean you didn't come to show the Headmaster these?" Moody demanded.
"No," Flitwick answered, puzzled. "I just got this week's Quibbler."
"Why, what's in that rag now?" Snape asked, unconcerned.
"The story of Tom Riddle," Flitwick said. "I had always wondered if he were really You-Know-Who, and this lays it right out. It's actually a fine piece of investigative research, most unlike their usual stories."
Dumbledore grabbed the tabloid out of Flitwick's hand. THE DARK LORD'S MIXED PAST! the headline screamed. Indeed, the story was a very accurate biography of Tom Marvolo Riddle, from his mother and uncle's physical and mental problems, their family background, and the use of a love potion to seduce the Muggle Tom Riddle. Tom Marvolo Riddle's Muggle birth certificate was replicated, and there were side-by-side photos of the Head Boy with Muggle photos of his Muggle father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The family resemblances were clear. To make certain there were no doubts, Tom Marvolo Riddle's entry in the Hogwarts Register of Students was reproduced, giving his parents and grandparents names and his status (bastard, half-blood, orphan).
There were also a number of other photos, showing Tom Riddle's changes as he added Horcruxes and became less human. Voldemort's anagram (tom marvolo riddle=i am lord voldemort) was forming and reforming on the top of the second page, and Riddle's career at Hogwarts was repeated, including the accusation that it was he who had unleashed the 'Monster of Slytherin', a basilisk, which had killed Myrtle Smith, and which in turn had been discovered and killed in June 1991 'by a brilliant team of dark wizard fighters, led by Sirius Black and Remus Lupin'. In short, in the space of an article which took up a third of the issue, there could be no doubt that the Half-Blood Tom Marvolo Riddle was indeed Voldemort. The only information which was missing was exactly what the 'dark ceremonies' were that Voldemort underwent or any suggestion of Horcruxes.
Unless some of Voldemort's classmates or some European Dark Wizard knew all these facts and had decided to release them, then Dumbledore knew everyone who knew this much about Voldemort, and of them, only Harry could have released this material. Of course, for all his eccentricities, Lovegood did on occasion do a brilliant bit of reporting. This could be one of those times.
In any event, combined with the 'wanted posters', this news should shake things up in the wizarding world, and probably for the better, in Dumbledore's opinion. He regretted these actions only because he knew no one could predict what effects they might have.
At Twelve Grimmauld Place, Harry looked at the two happy-looking elves. "You distributed all six thousand posters?" Harry asked the pair. The two nodded their heads, grinning as only house elves who had successfully fulfilled a job could grin. "You two are wonderful," Harry said. "Winky, could you take this note to Tollkeeper at Gringotts and then drop this thank you note off at The Quibbler office?"
"Yes, Master Harry," Winky said, disappearing with a 'pop'.
Dobby said, "Dobby must start breakfast."
"Of course," Harry said genially. He was glad he had spoken with the goblins the previous Saturday. He had had them invest some of the money he had in his current account from some interesting Muggle ventures he had remembered future versions of Uncle Vernon wishing he had invested in early a year and a half before. Harry had remembered them all and had reaped the rewards -- more than enough to pay for a little preventative vengeance, with a 10% processing fee for the goblins.
Harry stretched and got dressed. He would be going back to the cottage until Wednesday later that morning.
Bellatrix Lestrange. . . .100,000
Fenrir Greyback. . . . . . 75,000
Antonin Dolohov. . . . . . 75,000
Dietmar von Spitzbach. . . 75,000
John Nott. . . . . . . . . 40,000
Jason Gibbon . . . . . . . 25,000
St. John Mulciber. . . . . 25,000
Joyce Wilkes . . . . . . . 25,000
George Jugson. . . . . . . 25,000
Jacob Gibbon . . . . . . . 25,000
Peter Yaxley . . . . . . . 25,000
Alecto Carrows . . . . . . 25,000
Amycus Carrows . . . . . . 25,000
Jack Avery . . . . . . . . 25,000
Darlene Avery. . . . . . . 25,000