If ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’ were partially applied to magic….
By Dr T
All canon and canon characters are the property of She-Who-Must-Be-Acknowledged and her various partners and subsidiaries. I chop it all up and pound it into new shapes, after which it whimpers and hides in the corner. Please enjoy the plot bunny, which grew into a rotund panda.
If ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’ were partially applied to magic….
Part I – The Missing Mage
September 1, 1995
Albus Dumbledore sat waiting anxiously in the headmaster’s office, his head in his hands, sucking furiously on his fifth lemon acid drop of the morning, and it was only 10:20.
It had been a horrendous summer for magical Britain, and Dumbledore knew he bore some of the fault for what had happened, and carried much more of the responsibility for dealing with the consequences. Normally, Muggles would have guessed him to be a very eccentric, very fit man in his early sixties, rather than his 110+. Today, most would have guessed mid-seventies.
Dumbledore would not have easily pinpointed where his problems had started in a major way – to trace them to their roots would have led him back at least to his first meeting with the young Tom Riddle, if not back to his relationship with Gellert Grindelwald, and he preferred not thinking of either of those events at the moment. No doubt, more immediately his problems came primarily from the twin series of events stemming from Cornelius Fudge’s falling into the deep pockets of Lucius Malfoy over the previous few years and Barty Crouch Junior’s taking Alastor Moody’s place at Hogwarts during the previous year.
From the time of Voldemort’s disappearance back in 1981, Dumbledore had felt he had a good idea of how the Mage had at least partially survived. This became almost a certainty when the events of Riddle’s diary had unfolded in 1992-1993. Given what Dumbledore now believed, Voldemort’s recreating a body using Harry Potter’s blood was mostly likely, considering the big picture, not a bad thing, despite Harry’s therefore losing his mother’s blood protection.
Dumbledore had been a bit surprised that no one, including Voldemort, had realized that Harry’s losing the blood protection meant Voldemort could have attacked Privet Drive at any time. He had thought he had an excellent plan for dealing with what he felt would be an imminent attack on Harry over the summer. Harry was watched around the clock, Severus would (despite his grumbling) give a warning before hand in any event, and a small response force would both protect Harry when the event came and be able to summon help from the aurors. This should have forced the Ministry to acknowledge at least that the Death Eaters were again active, and hopefully force a recognition that Voldemort had returned, ending Fudge’s obstruction.
While that was the least Dumbledore expected, he had rather hoped that this summer might actually take care of several problems. Harry, depressed after witnessing the death of Diggory and the rebirth of Voldemort (and blaming himself in part for both) had been kept isolated all summer, in part to insure that Dumbledore’s plan worked out. It was possible that the lad would be struck down in Voldemort’s attack, which, no matter if Harry survived or not, should have at least ended another Horcrux, one that Dumbledore could not bring himself to take care of – after all, if no one believed his story about the Horcrux, he would be accused of murder. That was not in his plans at all!
However, instead of Voldemort leading, or at least ordering, the attack, it had come from a faction within the Ministry itself. Dumbledore had to confess to himself (although not to anyone else) that he had never even considered such a thing. Fudge, despite being as venal as any politician could be, would never have condoned such an attack, no matter how much gold Malfoy had offered. Instigate a smear campaign in the press and go along with attacks on Dumbledore’s political base yes, but not a direct attack which, if it failed or if it unraveled later, could mean the end of Fudge.
Still, Dumbledore’s reaction plan should have been activated when Harry and his cousin had been attacked by two dementors. It had totally failed, because his agent had not done his duty. Dumbledore was all for giving people chances, but Fletcher would never be trusted to do anything similar again.
The first anyone (other than Harry and his cousin) had apparently been aware of the problem was when alarms went off in the Ministry of Magic. Not just underage use alarms, but a level of screaming alarms not heard since Halloween, 1981. The confused team of sycophantic pro-Fudge aurors, who had rather suspiciously been hanging about the Underage Magic Office, had been supplemented by two other auror teams, including one led by Kingsley Shacklebolt, who therefore turned out to the be senior auror on the scene.
Still, the Ministry being what it was, all that had taken more than twenty minutes after the first alarms had screamed, some ten minutes after the location was pinpointed (had Shacklebolt not been involved, it would have taken even longer for a response). What the aurors had found had certainly confused them; it still mostly confused everyone for that matter.
For one thing, there was one soulless Dudley Dursley. There was no question about that, and no way for anyone at the Ministry to avoid the conclusion that Dudley had been Kissed by a dementor. What to do about Dudley had also been complicated to some degree, as Harry Potter could not be found and Dudley’s parents, who were of course aware of magic, had been screaming threats against Harry and the entire magical world. Had it been possible, they would have been Obliviated of their knowledge of the magical world. Instead, the knowledge of the cause of Dudley’s condition, which they had not really understood in the first place, was removed. As far as they and the Muggle authorities were concerned, Dudley had destroyed his own mind by taking a powerful cocktail of rare and illicit drugs (easily spelled into his body, so that the police forensics would discover them).
For Little Whinging, the loss of Dudley meant safer streets during the summers, and the breaking up of ‘Big D’s gang’ and several others. The police, of course, never discovered the ‘dealers’ who had supplied Dudley with his last set of drugs but found plenty of other illicit activity centered around Dudley. Files about Dudley and the possible abuse of Harry Potter were discovered, which no one in the myriad offices could explain; it was as if they had been hidden by magic, reappearing when the magic was broken.
The Dursleys had been questioned about their nephew’s disappearance, both by the aurors (before they had been selectively Obliviated) and the police. Fortunately, Shacklebolt had still been in charge of the aurors and obliviators present at that point, so that the Dursleys had not blamed Harry in any way for his cousin’s condition when they later talked to the police. Still, the fact remained that Harry was missing, although as far as the Muggle authorities were concerned, he was just a runaway. Dumbledore had allowed the ‘discovered’ files to reappear, hoping that the Muggles would be inspired to help track Harry down, should he still be in the Muggle world. To his disgust, the files had merely caused the Dursleys to face a tougher investigation. Without Harry to testify, there was little the Muggle authorities could do, but the Dursleys reputation, such as it had been, was totally ruined. The police search, as the searches of the aurors and the Order, failed to turn Harry up.
These events had many far reaching consequences within the Ministry of Magic. The first problem was there were no known wild dementors in Britain, and obviously at least one dementor had been involved in Kissing Dudley. That meant there could actually be a wild dementor, or someone other than the Ministry had controlled at least one of the Ministry dementors, or someone at the Ministry had made illegal use of at least one dementor. Amelia Bones had taken complete control of the investigation, even though she had been forced to take the issue to the Wizengamot itself to prevent Fudge and his Undersecretary Umbridge from interfering.
Of all the odd occurrences surrounding this attack, the oddest was that there was a dementor’s shroud lying about fifteen feet from Dudley’s body. As far as Dumbledore knew, no one yet fully understood what that might mean.
In any event, once Madam Bones had cleared away the political interference, she quickly discovered that Madam Umbridge had signed out two dementors ‘for Ministerial Research.’ She had no explanation for what ‘research’ was being undertaken. A few drops of truth potion had her confessing her plan to the Wizengamot and her being condemned to visit the very dementors she had used.
Once at Azkaban, however, another mystery was revealed. All the dementors were cowering in the lowest dungeon of the prison and refused to come out. The Speaker of the Dementors, pushed out by the others, acknowledged that two dementors had been ordered to Little Whinging and told to attack Harry Potter and anyone with him (to prevent any witnesses, on the off-chance anyone with him was magical). Dudley had been Kissed, and Potter partially Kissed. The dementor claimed that Potter had carried an extra bit of soul, which was why he had been so attractive to the dementors two years before. That soul bit had been removed, but then Potter had somehow destroyed the dementor attacking him. The other had fled and warned the others.
As far as the dementors of Azkaban were concerned, while they were willing to Kiss Umbridge, they weren’t coming out of their dungeon until a new deal was worked out with the Ministry, in order to prevent such mishaps in the future. Worse, the dementors either could not or would not explain how the dementor had been destroyed. Few were willing to believe that Harry had actually destroyed it, and none had even a guess on how whoever had done so managed the feat.
All these revelations had led to the fall of Fudge, and Madam Longbottom had been installed as the new Minister (and Dumbledore restored to the Wizengamot, although not to his positions of authority). The revelations at Azkaban had led Madams Bones and Longbottom to Hogwarts, where they had wrung the information and theories about Riddle’s Horcuxes out of the reluctant Headmaster. In the several weeks since, the Slytherin ring Horcrux and Hufflepuff chalice Horcrux had been discovered in turn and destroyed. (Dumbledore had nearly collapsed when he realized what the ring also was, but he didn’t dare say anything about it. The destruction of the ring had also rendered the Elder Wand powerless, and Dumbledore was right in believing the cloak was powerless as well.) The false locket had also been discovered.
Two days after the Order had been told about the false locket, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin had disappeared, but Remus had sent the Slytherin locket via owl to Amelia Bones (along with a note to Dumbledore, which also announced the closing of Grimmauld Place to the Order). The Weasleys had returned to the Burrow, while Hermione Granger was returned to her parents.
Although unaware of the destruction of his Horcruxes, Voldemort had ordered three attacks, one of which totally failed and the other two were at best stalemates. The Ministry had then not only acknowledged that he had returned, the Ministry was put on high alert and had then actually asked for aid from other countries. 300 aurors, hit-wizards, and investigators were already in the country by September 1, and an equal number would likely be present within two more weeks – the International magical community did not want fighting to break out, as that could endanger their mutually secret societies.
On the whole, despite his having lost many of his carefully hoarded secrets, Dumbledore was satisfied with the situation vis-à-vis Voldemort, although he believed Madams Longbottom and Bones were now keeping information from him, just has he had done to everyone else in the past. Sooner or later, though, he was sure they would have to come to him for help. But that still left the question of where Harry Potter had disappeared to.
Dumbledore was reaching for his seventh lemon drop when a Patronus appeared in his office. “The Hogwarts Express has just left the station. Potter was not on board.”
Dumbledore’s head dropped in despair.
Part II – The Feast
The Welcoming Feast was about to begin – the students had been Sorted and the new Defense instructor, a retired auror from Australia, introduced. Before Dumbledore could say anything other than reminding the students that the Forbidden Forest was still forbidden, the doors to the great hall opened, to the shock of the Headmaster. He should have been warned in various ways that there were people in the castle.
The students’ murmurings were soon echoed by the staff. Madam Longbottom and Madam Bones led the group in, along with a dozen aurors. Dumbledore quickly noticed that none were British; none were any he had any influence with.
Behind this first group was a second, larger group. Dumbledore recognized several of this group from various international meetings. These were important and powerful mages from all over the magical world. The other thing that most of them had in common was representing Old Magics – two Druid elders from North America; a Voodoo Queen; shamans from Australia, Africa, and the Americas; even two Brahmans and five Buddhists (from Tibet, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Cambodia). It was the final group that made Dumbledore sway and nearly faint – eight more International aurors, surrounding one Harry Potter, with Sirius Black and Remus Lupin standing behind him. Whatever this group wanted, Dumbledore knew it was not going to be good news for himself.
“Severus Tobias Snape, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore,” Madam Bones called out. “You will accompany us, please.” She turned towards the Gryffindor table. “Hermione Jean Granger? If you wish, you may join us.”
Even more startled than Dumbledore or Snape, Hermione stood, hesitatingly. When Ron Weasley started to stand as well, Bones snapped, “Just Miss Granger, boy.” Ron settled back, grumbling.
Six of the aurors remained in the Great Hall. “You might as well start your dinner,” one remarked. “No one will be allowed out of the room unaccompanied by an auror, and then only for calls of nature, and only one at a time per gender.”
“By whose authority?” McGonagall demanded.
“The International,” the auror replied. He heard one student murmur, “When my father hears about this outrage, these peasants will be taught to respect their superiors.”
“Who’s your father, kid?” the auror demanded. The blond flushed with embarrassment. “Well?” The auror looked around.
“That’s Draco Malfoy,” the previously embarrassed redhead at the Gryffindor table called out.
“So, your father is one Lucius Malfoy?”
“Yes,” Draco stated with pride.
The auror turned to another, “Isn’t that one of the slaves we picked up this afternoon?”
“Yeah, the old one, with the bleached-blond hair and the pimp cane.”
The auror turned back to Draco. “Kid, you’re likely on your own from here on out, for the rest of your life.” He looked back at McGonagall. “Well?”
McGonagall could only nod, and the food appeared at the tables. Even the stoutest trenchermen, like Ron Weasley, couldn’t quite get back into the feasting mood, although some of the students with backgrounds similar to Draco’s just picked at their food.
Part Three – The Classroom
“Get back here, Dumbledore,” Bones barked out.
Dumbledore paused and turned, confused. “Aren’t we going to my office?”
“Of course not,” Madam Longbottom stated. “We have set up one of the many classrooms for our use. Come along.”
Hermione took this opportunity to get closer to Harry. She looked at him worriedly. To her surprise, Harry gave her a small smile, and raised his hand towards her, the meaning obvious. While she had no overt romantic inclinations at this point, she was very fond of Harry, and had been very worried about him. She therefore came over and took his hand, and they walked hand-in-hand towards their destination.
Once they arrived, Dumbledore and Snape were shocked. The classroom had been largely remodeled. To Hermione’s eyes, it looked rather like a committee room or perhaps a city council chamber – a dais with twelve chairs, some rather comfortable-looking benches, one rather uncomfortable bench, and a witness chair next to the dais. To Snape and Dumbledore, it was clear this was more of a court room than anything more benign.
Sure enough, Dumbledore and Snape were seated on the hard bench. Harry sat on the front bench and had Hermione sit on his left. He leaned over and whispered in her ear as he squeezed her hand, “You’ll hear a lot of things, not all of them good, but just trust that things will work out for the best.”
Hermione squeezed back and whispered back, “And will you be able to explain anything later that’s not clear?”
Meanwhile, Madam Longbottom and eleven of the international dignitaries went and sat on the dais, while the others except for some of the aurors sat on the other benches. Six of the aurors stationed themselves around the room.
Madam Longbottom started off, “First of all, Mister Dumbledore, Mister Snape, I suggest you practice ‘custody of the eyes’ for your well-being.”
Both men, and Hermione, were started at their being addressed as ‘mister’ rather than by title. It was also clear that neither Snape nor Hermione understood what ‘custody of the eyes’ meant. Dumbledore knew what it meant – using Legilimency was forbidden, and would be punished. As no one would be foolish enough to use it on those on the dais or the aurors, or on a werewolf in any circumstance, that meant no using it on Harry, or presumably Sirius.
When he turned to explain this to Severus, he found he had been silenced! As Severus was busy glaring at Harry and Sirius, Dumbledore could not even use his Legilimency to communicate with his friend even if he had dared to try.
Madam Longbottom rapped the table with a small gavel. “This session of the International Board of Inquiry is called to order. Mister Dumbledore, Mister Snape, you have the option of Veritaserum or taking the Oath of Truth on your magic.”
Dumbledore paled. As bad as the Truth Serum was, the Oath was worse. Truth Serums, even the best, did not always prevent some subtle shading of the truth. The Oath was more unforgiving. “The potion,” he muttered when the silencing Spell was lifted.
Snape was surprised, not knowing the Oath. “Really?”
“Could Professor Snape see the Oath before deciding?” Dumbledore requested.
After reading the Oath, Snape agreed to the potion as well.
“This is an official international inquiry,” Madam Longbottom intoned after introducing the people on the dais. Again, Dumbledore was shaken, as he knew the rules of such an inquiry. It was clear that Snape did not. Dumbledore knew that he and Severus, as witnesses, could only testify, not offer opinions or council when not specifically asked by a member of the Board. “Before we get to the possible roles you two may have played over the events of the last fifteen years, a question for both of you. We will ask you to verify your answers after the truth potion is taken. Severus Snape, did you play any role in setting dementors after Harry Potter this past July? Answer yes or no.”
“Were you aware that dementors were to be sent to attack Mister Potter? Again, answer yes or no.”
“Albus Dumbledore, the same two questions, same conditions.”
It was difficult for Dumbledore to limit his answers, but he managed, “No, to both questions.”
“Mister Potter, if you would please take the chair and repeat the story of the dementor attack?” As Harry went to do so, Madam Longbottom stated, “We have heard his testimony under oath, so we do not have to have him swear again or take a truth potion.”
Snape made a face, as he realized that while many, perhaps most, present would know if Harry deviated from the truth, neither he nor the Headmaster would know it unless someone who had heard or read the testamony pointed it out.
As Harry stood, Hermione took this chance to whisper to Remus, “Why am I here?”
Remus merely shrugged and said, “Harry asked. He said he knew you would want to know.” Seeing the dirty looks they had gotten from around the room, neither said anything more.
“I was simply out for a walk,” Harry started. “Then my cousin came up and started to harass me.”
“About what, Mister Potter?”
Harry looked ashamed. “I was having bad dreams all summer, mostly remembering Cedric’s death last June.”
Harry flushed and looked apologetically at Hermione, Remus, and Sirius. “And about being cut off from my friends, apparently at Professor Dumbledore’s instruction.”
“So, Mister Dumbledore had ordered you to be cut off from your support network?”
“That’s what Hermione’s note said, and I know she wouldn’t have done it under anyone else’s order.”
“We will come to that when we question Mister Dumbledore.” Madam Bones turned to Hermione. “Just for the record, Miss Granger, is Mister Potter essentially correct?”
Ashamed, Hermione merely nodded.
“You must give a verbal answer, Miss Granger. Please stand and do so.”
Hermione swallowed nervously, but did so. “I don’t have Harry’s phone number, and I don’t have an owl. I was writing him a letter, which I would have sent either with his owl or by Muggle post, when the Headmaster came to my parents’ house. He somehow convinced them I should go with him for my own safety; I wasn’t allowed to be present. He wouldn’t tell me why, or how, he convinced my parents, or why they would be safer with me gone. He took me to . . . a house under a Fidelius Charm. I sent Harry the long letter, plus a note saying that the Headmaster didn’t want me saying anything more. I gave those to Professor Snape, as he said he was under orders from the Headmaster to do so. I wrote a few other short notes when I was allowed to, but was not allowed to give any real information.”
“And those notes were given to whom?”
“Mrs. Weasley . . . or Ron, who was to give them to his mother.”
“And when did you leave that location?”
“Two days after Mister Black left the house. He apparently ordered the house to be cleared. When I returned to my parents . . . it was as if they hadn’t really realized I was gone.” It was obvious Hermione was disturbed by all this, but hadn’t known who to go to.
“Hopefully this will be cleared up.” She turned to Harry.
“I only got the notes, not the letter,” he said.
Bones glanced at the two teens. “Those notes which reached Mister Potter have been recovered and examined. Portions of all the notes were magically edited out, leaving only general comments. The wand signatures largely match Mrs. Weasley’s, but not all. Some match Ronald Weasley’s. We believe the remaining match Mister Dumbledore’s.” Since the Elder Wand was no longer functioning, that would only be proved once Dumbledore was questioned.
She turned back to Harry. “Could you please briefly describe your treatment at your relatives’ house, both before and after your Hogwarts letter?”
Harry’s eyes dropped to the floor, and he spent the next twenty minutes doing as he had been asked. It was clear that this was news only to Hermione, and to Snape to some degree. When he was finished, Madam Bones gave him a glass of water, and then asked him to go back to the dementor attack.
“As Professor Lupin and Hermione, err, Miss Granger, know, as sensitive as all magicals are to dementors, I’m even more affected than most. I felt the dementors, well, I wasn’t sure how many there were. I tried to send my cousin off, but he ignored me at first. Then, he felt the effects, even though I still couldn’t see one.” Harry paused in thought about that for a second.
“It is likely, as the blood-nephew of a witch who had a magical child, your cousin would be slightly more aware of the effects than most Muggles, even if he wasn’t as aware as most Squibs would be,” one member of the panel supplied.
Harry nodded. “Anyway, he suddenly backed up into a wall, while I pulled my wand and looked for the dementors. Then one glided into view ahead of me. I raised my wand, and it stopped. I don’t know how long we looked at each other; it felt like several minutes. I didn’t want cast my Patronus, since considering what Minister Fudge had been pushing the Prophet into saying about me, it looked like I was being set up.”
“In what way?” a different panel member asked.
Harry shrugged. “Miss Granger found out all she could about the dementors when the Ministry stationed them around the school. According to the Ministry, at least, all dementors in western and northern Europe are under the control of the British Ministry and stationed at Azkaban. So, if there was a dementor in my home town, the Ministry was probably after me. I was hoping they were just trying to provoke me into using underage magic.”
Harry seemed to shrink inside himself. “Then I heard a noise behind me. I thought Dudley was going to do something stupid, but when I glanced back, he was being Kissed by a second dementor. I started to cast my Patronus, but the first dementor was already on top of me.”
“Go on,” Madam Longbottom said, softly.
“Instead of Kissing me, it was attached to my scar.” That made Dumbledore grimace, while Hermione started putting together a myriad of puzzle pieces. “The pain was incredible, almost as bad as Voldemort’s Cruciatus.” Most of the people in the room winced, although it wasn’t clear if it was in sympathy or because of hearing the V-word.
“I jammed my wand into the dementor and tried to cast my Patronus. I don’t know if I succeeded or not. At the same time, the dementor lowered its maw at me. I don’t know what happened next. . . .”
Snape could not believe that the people in the room were buying this line of nonsense. He knew they must know the truth, and wondered why they were allowing this to go on. Determined to know what the boy was hiding, when he claimed not to know what happened, Snape silently cast a Legilimency probe.
Snape went rigid, his eyes wide. He didn’t know what was happening or how long it was lasting, but the pain was intense and he couldn’t concentrate. Then, his Dark Mark seemed to flair, and still he could only stare at the Boy, who was still seated but with a look of determined concentration on his face.
Snape didn’t know how long it took him to finally pass out, but it was not too soon for him.
Part IV – The Magical Battery
Dumbledore was struggling against the magical restraints that had been slipped on him without his even noticing them. Finally realizing the futility, he took note of the others. The members of panel, along with Remus and Sirius, were looking at the agony-filled, twisting man next to Dumbledore as if they had fully expected, even hoped, at this outcome. Granted, only Sirius was also glancing at Severus with some degree of satisfaction, which was surprising considering how many felt about the Potions Master. Granger was looking at Severus much as Dumbledore himself would have been, had his actions been freer. The aurors merely looked alert.
Most in the room, however, were only partially looking at Snape. Most were concentrating on Harry, who was sitting tense in his chair, his slitted eyes keeping full contact with the convulsing body. Most startling was the fact that Harry was softly glowing.
“Let me explain,” Madam Bones said, as Snape continued to convulse. “Something happened to Mister Potter, exactly what and why, we don’t understand. No doubt, the dementor sucking the soul fragment out of Mister Potter’s scar fractured his magical core.” Hermione gasped at the thought. “It would have repaired itself, given time, which of course it wasn’t. Harry managed to cast his Patronus, with a fractured core, at the same time his soul was being attacked. The dementor was destroyed, and its magic interacted with Mister Potter’s magic. In a sense, what happened to him, if anything similar ever happened before, may be the basis of the legends of various anti-magi.”
That caused both Hermione’s and Dumbledore’s eyes go wide with shock. Anti-magi were thought to be Muggles who were so anti-magic that they simply absorbed any magic without effect. This in turn made some magicals, like Dolores Umbridge, think that if anti-magi were possible, perhaps some Muggles ‘stole’ magical cores, making them magical in turn while creating Squibs, rather than believing that any Pureblood could give birth to one.
“Snape must have used Legilimency on Mister Potter, which we thought was almost a certainty.” Dumbledore then realized that this court room drama had been conducted as it had been as an ambush. “Mister Potter would have simply absorbed a spell, but Legilimency is continuous, and therefore the drain on Snape is as well.” She gave Dumbledore a nasty smile. “At your age, the drain would likely have killed you by now, which is why we warned you. Ah, good.” She pushed up the struggling Snape’s left sleeve, showing the Dark mark was not only showing, it was pulsing with black and purple magic. “Every Dark Mark is linked with every other Dark Mark, and to Tom Riddle. This should kill Riddle.”
Dumbledore struggled to speak.
“Perhaps you’re worried about the Horcuxes,” one of the panel members spoke up. It was one of the Druids. “Our agents showed up about ten minutes after the Dementor was destroyed. That gave us plenty of time to act.” The British frowned at the implied criticism, but could hardly deny the charge. “With what we learned, it took us about ten minutes to understand what Voldemort had done. We contacted some of the others you see here, who also understand such so-called old magic. It took us a week to find and destroy the ring Horcrux, which verified our theories. We then contacted Madam Bones, and she and her team wrung what little useful information you had. That led us first to a phony Horcrux, and that led us to Mister Black, who unknowingly had custody of the Slytherin locket Horcrux. That brought him and Mister Lupin to us. Meanwhile, our goblin friends found the Cup, and Mister Black helped us there as well.” He bowed to Madam Bones. “We relayed our news to Madam Bones, who let you know that progress was being made, which kept you as passive as usual. Mister Potter’s elf friend helped us find the Ravenclaw diadem, hidden here at Hogwarts. That only left either Voldemort’s familiar or whatever Horcrux he might have fed his familiar. After all, it was difficult to believe that Voldemort was actually stupid enough to make a living Horcrux, especially of what was originally a non-magical snake; although it turns out he did do so. Still, we knew that beyond destroying Voldemort, there was still the problem of his followers, the ones that people like you allowed second, third, or even more chances to spread their hatred.”
“This,” Madam Bones said, sweeping her arm to gesture at both Harry and Snape as she took up the story, “will reveal the Dark Marks on all Death Eaters. We think we have most in custody, but their showing the Dark Mark will allow for more aggressive interrogations, which should help us uncover anyone we missed. Oh, and if you are worried about Snape – when his magic, and those of the Dark Marks, grow weak enough, which should be only after Riddle’s death, he will collapse and this will end. It may take a week or so, but his magic will regenerate.”
One of the Africans took up the tale. “As for Mister Potter, while he can no longer actually use much magic, he can now control when and if he absorbs any expected magic – a surprise magical attack would automatically be absorbed, but not plain magical contact, which is why his holding Miss Granger’s hand had no negative effect. As for most of the magic he takes in, he can store some of it, and redirect any of it. He is currently redirecting what he is taking to the Hogwarts wards, for example.”
Dumbledore frowned at that.
“Oh,” a different druid spoke up, “we came and talked to the Sorting Hat when you were out of the castle, which in turned let us communicate with Hogwarts itself. You were stripped of the headmastership at that time, but you were given the illusion of control since.”
Snape finally collapsed into unconsciousness, and Dumbledore found himself free. “How dare you do this to me!”
“You will be tried for your crimes, Dumbledore,” Sirius growled.
“I am the Leader of Light!”
Most of the people in the room snorted with derision.
“But . . . but he defeated Grindelwald . . . he has a phoenix as a familiar!” Hermione protested.
“Hermione, was Adolf Hitler evil?” Remus asked.
“Yes, of course!”
“Since Joseph Stalin was one of the leaders that destroyed Hitler, does that mean that Joseph Stalin was a ‘Leader of Light’?”
“Well, no. . . .”
“Child,” a Voodoo priestess called out. “The phoenix is a symbol of renewal, of rebirth, but the actual creatures, while very magical and helpful, are not in any way guarantors of goodness. Just as a mean, spiteful, but not outright evil virgin girl can approach a unicorn if the virgin does not intend to harm the animal, so any magic user who does not use Dark magic to harm others with selfish intent might acquire a phoenix familiar. The idea that a phoenix familiar guaranteed the total goodness of the magic user only started cropping up in European references after 1910, which is when Dumbledore acquired a phoenix familiar.”
“But . . . but . . . Fawkes is so good!”
With a burst of flame, Fawkes appeared above Hermione, settling down on her shoulder. The bird made a noise which sounded suspiciously like a raspberry, first at the Voodoo priestess and then at Dumbledore.
“It looks like you have a new friend,” Harry said weakly.
“Are you okay?” Hermione asked.
Harry nodded. “While magically neutral, that was somewhat physically tiring.”
Fawkes started preening Hermione’s hair. “Stop that!” Hermione scolded. Fawkes gave a soft squawk, and went back to work. “Isn’t my hair messy enough?”
“Now, now, is that anyway for the new Leader of Light to act?” Sirius teased.
Hermione huffed, but decided to ignore Sirius, as well what the bird was doing.
“In any event,” Madam Bones stated, “Most of the suspected Death Eaters have been captured, and the rest will no doubt be uncovered. All will be questioned and then tried, including Snape. Whatever services he may have rendered as a spy, if any, will no doubt be taken into account. The Horcuxes have been destroyed, and if Riddle’s artificial body was not destroyed, which would mean he is gone for good, he should have been weakened enough to have been captured and then destroyed.”
“We should receive word about that shortly,” a druid put in.
“As you for,” Bones said to Dumbledore, “you will also be questioned about your actions in regards to Mister Potter’s illegal placement, any complicity you might have had in the abuse he received because of that placement, and any endangerment of him or any other student during your tenure as headmaster. Whether or not you will be tried will depend on the outcome of our investigations.”
“Madam Marchbanks will serve as the temporary headmistress for the rest of this academic year,” Madam Longbottom stated. “A potions instructor will be posted from the Ministry for the rest of the year as well.” She looked around. “Any questions?”
“What about Harry?” Hermione asked.
“While he is no longer a regular wizard, the Ministry and Gringotts will regard him as such,” Madam Longbottom told her. “Beyond that, it is nobody’s affair but his and his guardian.”
“That’s me!” Sirius piped up.
“I’ll be going to Australia,” Harry told her. “The native wizards and the technomages there think they can work with me to master whatever types of magic I can still do. You can look me up during the summers, if you want to. I hope you’ll at least write.”
Fawkes still on her shoulder, Hermione stood, walked over to Harry, and smiled at him. “I think I’ll visit. I know I can write to you now, right Fawkes?”
As Fawkes sang to them, Harry and Hermione smiled at each other, while the unconscious Snape and the magically handcuffed Dumbledore were led away.