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 XXI Monday, December 28, 1992
"Well, Harry," Dumbledore said jovially as Harry walked into the dining room for breakfast, "you must be feeling relieved."
Harry, his hands full of breakfast trays, looked around the empty dining room. It was as rare for no one to join him for breakfast as it was for Dumbledore to be there at that time. It was obviously a set-up. Harry frowned.
Harry wondered if he should be upset with Moody and Remus for leaving him alone to face the Headmaster's Machiavellian plans or pleased that they would expect him to be able to handle them without their help.
Harry decided to give his friends the benefit of the doubt. "Relieved about what?"
"The Grangers not withdrawing Hermione from Hogwarts," Dumbledore answered.
Harry shrugged and said before the Headmaster could go on, "They could only withdraw her with your and Hermione's agreement, which Hermione at least would not give." Dumbledore winced just slightly at that dig. "Nor could they go to court and win, because all I would have to do is reveal our bonded status, which automatically makes us as emancipated as any seventeen year olds." It would bring about some embarrassing publicity, but Harry and Hermione would stand it if they had to.
"Ah . . . true," Dumbledore had to agree.
"I am glad that no one was hurt in the attack, other than the Death Eater," Harry went on. "Since I didn't use my wand, there was no way for them to actually prove I did it, and therefore they can't try and prosecute me for underage magic -- they would be laughed out of anything but a totally rigged court."
"Also true," Dumbledore had to agree.
Harry's face hardened. "Also, I've spent some time making certain that THIS time I am aware of all my rights, should the Ministry try anything like they did the last time around."
"That's . . . very wise," Dumbledore had to agree. "Of course, if those bounties had not been advertised, perhaps there would have been no attacks."
"Oh, I'm sure Riddle would get around to it sooner or later," Harry said.
"But some of the Death Eaters might not have followed him this time around!" Dumbledore protested.
"These weren't new recruits," Harry said coldly. "These are his old guard, everyone one of whom rallied around him last time around. As it was, I left off Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, Snape, and Karkaroff, and I probably should have had them hunted down as well. I didn't. And I would suggest you wipe that smile off your face. You did not trick me into revealing anything I care if you know about or not. I will not tell you how I did it, and if you or anyone else had had the guts to ask me last week, I would have told you then." Harry leaned forward. "Now, any other questions or accusations?"
Dumbledore tried to lighten the moment. "Not unless you know how three newly constructed Muggle houses magically disappeared." It was unclear what had happened to three up-scale Muggle houses which had almost been completed. All three had disappeared over the previous week without a trace, except for a faint magical signal.
Harry rolled his eyes, stood up, and tossed two fried eggs and some bacon between two slices of toast. "I came back in time with one goal -- to destroy Voldemort and his supporters with less bloodshed on my side than last time. Except for Voldemort himself, I would say I have already surpassed everything I accomplished last time, which was a lot more than you did. If I could, I'd track him down and kill him and the people around him right now. Stuck in this body, I can't, not for a while or not without some help from you and the Ministries. Find Voldemort and help me get to him or stay out of my way while I do what I feel I have to do to cut out his support."
Harry took a mug of hot chocolate and his sandwich and left the dining room.
Alastor Moody stumped in a few seconds later. "We tried to warn you," Moody chortled. "Your caution the last time around has created someone unique in the history of the wizarding world. Be very glad his goal is to lead a quiet life and raise a family. If this one wanted to conquer the world, he might just be able to do it."
Friday, January 1, 1993
Harry was sitting in the parlor of the Dumbledores' cottage, waiting for Hermione to floo through in twenty minutes or so. He looked up when Moody came in. "How you holding up, son?"
"Pretty well, Alastor," Harry answered. "Can you tell me something?"
"Well, you can ask," Moody retorted.
"What would you say to the idea of having some people with Muggle sniper rifles and similar weapons reinforcing areas like Diagon Alley and so on?"
"Muggles?" Moody asked, shocked. "Protecting us? Knowing about us?"
"Not as such," Harry answered thoughtfully. "There are Squibs and there are Muggle siblings of magical people. Some of them must have been in the military or police and such. They would have the knowledge and the training."
"That kind of trick would likely only work once," Moody objected.
Harry shrugged. "Disillusion them or put them under invisibility cloaks. I bet neither would hide a Death Eater from an infrared sniper scope."
"There you might be right," Moody allowed. "Still, I don't know if there would be enough such people, and I know it wouldn't be allowed."
"I wouldn't tell if you wouldn't," Harry answered with a shrug.
"Well," Moody allowed, "It can't hurt to look at the numbers."
Monday, January 4, 1993
There had obviously been some serious plotting going on over the holidays. It was announced in the Slytherin and Ravenclaw common rooms the Sunday night everyone returned that there would be House meetings concerning 'the general direction of the Hogwarts Curriculum' the next evening. The Hufflepuffs, hearing about this the next morning, opted to do the same, which made Percy feel the Gryffindors should as well.
Before going off to the Gryffindor house meeting after dinner, Harry asked Sirius if any of the staff were in on this. Even Sirius admitted that Snape seemed to have nothing to do with what was going on, and was in fact upset that his students were challenging a curriculum which he had approved and was (a little reluctantly perhaps) pushing.
Harry went off to the Gryffindor meeting a little relieved. He disliked Snape on many levels and for many reason. He was sure that the 'great greasy git' would ultimately control his students, at least outwardly. Harry was more concerned about what the Ravenclaws might be up to.
Despite a few lurking doubts on Harry's part, Percy led the Gryffindors easily through a discussion on the curriculum reforms put in place the previous year. There were a few criticisms of the actual content of both courses, which Percy rephrased into suggestions for improvement. The House approved the ideas unanimously. Harry was unsurprised to learn the next morning that the Hufflepuffs had done much the same.
Harry learned from Draco and Daphne that the Slytherin meeting had been longer and much more rancorous. As a Second year, Draco couldn't directly influence any of the older students, but the tradition of the rare House meetings were clear -- all actions had to carry a vote by all the students, no matter which House was involved. Draco (and Harry) carried a lot of weight in the lower three years, perhaps overwhelming weight in the lowest two. In Slytherin, nearly every one of those two years (except Pansy Parkinson and Ted Nott) would almost automatically support the new curriculum. As Draco pointed out when he was finally allowed to speak, since they were the two years who had actually taken the new courses, they might be presumed to have a more informed opinion.
Unspoken (at least openly) were the facts that Sirius Black and Severus Snape were both powerful wizards and staff members, and Professor Black's background also commanded respect. In the end, by a narrow vote, the Slytherins asked the Board of Governors to reconsider if the 'Living with Muggles' course should stay mandatory. Draco had Daphne noted every opinion expressed and who expressed it, and of course how everyone voted. They copied that and passed the information on to Sirius, Snape, Moody, and Harry.
Pro-Purists in Ravenclaw had more detailed critiques of the basic concepts of the courses, without of course criticizing Sirius' actual teaching. This critique went down to a strong defeat (largely because of the overwhelming support given by the First and Second years, and because the clique of girls who had made Luna's years at Hogwarts miserable had decided that Professor Black was 'dreamy'), with the details sent on by Padma.
Sirius was wont to be upset by all this, but Remus had reminded him that 1) the project was just getting started; 2) nearly every First or Second year student had stood by him; 3) the meetings had revealed possible students to keep an eye on, and 4) he (Sirius) was still considered 'dreamy'.
Remus refused to repeat Sirius' retort to all that, but Harry noted that Sirius was no longer upset.
Sunday, January 31, 1993
Moody took Harry aside after his 'special instructions' (dueling practice) and led his protege to his office. Moody threw up every security ward he knew which would work at Hogwarts.
Even for Moody, this seemed a tad paranoid to Harry, but he said nothing, knowing Moody would give him a reason for all this.
"You remember that idea you had," Moody finally said, "the one about using Squib snipers?"
Harry nodded. "And Muggle siblings of magical people. You said you'd look into it and see if the numbers were there."
"I did, and there aren't," Moody answered. "However, as I was looking, something was tickling the back of my brain. Something about using Squibs and Muggles who know about our world. Well, the Squib thought was something of a dead end. There just aren't all that many Squibs. Maybe one out of three hundred births when both parents are magical, about one out of a hundred when only one is. Even if both parents are Muggles, only about one out of ten full siblings don't have magical power if one does. Drives Purists and those Arithmancers who specialize in statistics a bit barmy." Harry grinned, since he knew that was one of Moody's hobbies.
"None of yer cheek, son," Moody pretended to growl. "Where was I? Oh, right. You probably know that the Second War with Grindelwald is called the Second World War by the Muggles, right?"
"Right," Harry said. "Grindelwald incited both world wars in order to weaken the Muggle World. He directly incited the Communists and especially the Nazis."
"Very good. If I thought you'd learned any of that from Binns I'd give you a point."
"Well, I didn't," Harry admitted.
"The Muggle Government and the Ministry both had a fair amount of information the other needed," Moody went on. "The Muggles set up a small bureau to coordinate things, and the Ministry supplied the people. They didn't send anyone they thought much of, of course. A few Squibs, a few siblings of Muggle-born, a few Muggle-born themselves, who wanted to help directly in the war effort. There was even a vampire, two werewolves, a couple of quarter giants, and the like. Now, as far as I knew, there was no use for the thing after the War. Still, bureaucracies can have a life of their own."
"True," Harry agreed.
"One thing Muggles are brilliant at is collating information," Moody said. "Some system called 'punch cards', I believe."
"Those were replaced in the 1970s, I think," Harry said.
"So I've been told. Anyway, I went to the old location, a small building in Shrewsbury and there it was, still masquerading as a Government department on inland fishing statistics." Moody frowned. "Actually, they said they also do work on inland fishing statistics, because people kept on stopping in and asking questions. Anyway, the important thing is, they let me in. They've been collecting data -- magical and Muggle, Governmental and public information -- since 1940, and some solid back data at least to 1881. If the dementors start drifting away, say, and the idiots in the Ministry don't notice, this bunch will likely understand what's happening from Muggle and Magical media reports before anyone."
"I never heard of them," Harry admitted, meaning no one had thought of this the last time around as far as he knew.
"There's only one problem," Moody said.
"Ah, that figures," Harry sighed. "And what's that?"
"They can't tell anyone."
Harry blinked, then asked, "What do you mean they can't tell anyone?"
"They can't alert anyone when anything happens," Moody replied. "If someone doesn't ask them for information, they can't send anything to anyone. How fast do you think the Ministry would shut the flow of information off to these folks if they ever remembered the place existed?"
"The Muggle Government probably wouldn't be thrilled either," Harry said. "They'd probably consider the place a security leak."
"Good point," Moody agreed.
"So," Harry asked, "who can ask for information?"
"There about twenty-seven people all together," Moody said with his twisted grin. "Fifteen in the Muggle Government and a dozen in ours. Including the Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office."
Harry grinned back. "Can you go directly to Mister Wesley, or do you have to work through Dumbledore?"
"I can go right to Arthur," Moody declared. "I'll brief Remus, in case something happens to me. Unfortunately, no one can replace Arthur."
"I understand," Harry said. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that, then."
Moody grimaced. "Still, at least we'll have another source of intelligence."
That night, Harry and Hermione sat curled up on their usual loveseat, Harry glancing over some rather useless intelligence reports (charmed to look like a Muggle history text) while Hermione was triple-checking her out of class writing assignments for the next week. Seeing no one was close enough to overhear, she leaned next to Harry's ear and whispered, "A few of the girls are getting really good at Occlumency."
Harry merely nodded, knowing that Hermione wouldn't see this as being rude, but rather just being careful.
"Do you intend telling anyone else what I found out?"
Harry frowned, and shrugged. He had not planned on cluing anyone in, but knew he should hear Hermione out if she had an opinion.
"Tuesday morning?" she asked. They had Astronomy late the next evening, and would be allowed to sleep in Tuesday morning. If they met at 9:00, they would likely have the common room to themselves.
Harry nodded. Hermione lightly kissed his ear, and they went back to what they had been doing.
Tuesday, February 2, 1993
"So, you have no intention of telling anyone else?" Hermione asked.
"I really don't see why anyone else needs to know," Harry pointed out. "I can can see why they would want to know, but that's something very different."
Hermione frowned, and Harry muttered, "There's already one too many who knows as it is, as far as I'm concerned.
Hermione looked at Harry sharply.
"Snape," Harry said simply.
They were quiet for a few moments, and then, "If I hadn't known part of it, would you have told me?" Hermione asked.
"I honestly expected that if anyone figured it out, it would be you," Harry answered. "Well, you and Dumbledore. I had to risk his figuring it out because I wanted to destroy the Horcruxes and free Sirius as quickly as possible. As it was, he knew something was wrong and I had to tell him our first meeting. I wasn't surprised that you figured it out, just that you had done it so quickly. I knew that if we were close friends, you'd likely have it sussed Christmas our First year."
Hermione's eyes narrowed. "I think you're avoiding the question."
"I'm saying there is no question, because I had absolute faith you would have figured it out. Therefore, I never considered not telling you." Had Hermione been seventeen instead of twelve in many ways, there would have been no way Harry could have gotten off so easily. As it was, this Hermione was satisfied with his answer.
"Hermione," Harry said, blushing slightly as he moved on to a new topic.
"Yes?" Hermione was curious what this might be about.
"Considering our, well, relationship, I really don't know what I should get you for Valentine's Day this year," Harry confessed. "I don't want to make a mistake, so despite the fact that it would ruin the surprise, what would you like?"
"You mean besides the flowers you ordered?"
Harry frowned, which confused Hermione. "Ah," Harry finally said. "Neville or Ron overheard me and they told someone. The flowers were for Luna." Seeing Hermione's expression, Harry added, "It's her birthday; it's not because of Valentine's Day."
"Oh." Hermione was embarrassed by her flush of jealousy towards the dead girl. "I was wondering why you were ordering sunflowers and tulips. Roses would be nice." Harry had given her free access to his accounts, and she could owl order just about anything she wanted.
"What color would you like." He paused. "I seem to remember you like white roses."
Hermione nodded, and smiled.
Hearing Susan Bones come down the girls' stairs prevented any further private conversation. The trio went down to have a light and late breakfast.
Harry was a bit surprised to have Dumbledore motion for Harry to join him after breakfast. "I thought I should tell you," Dumbledore said, "the false Prophecy was stolen last night." He frowned. "Despite the heavy wards at the Ministry, despite increased awareness of the plot, somehow, he was able to sneak in, take it, and leave."
"What was finally left?" Harry asked. "The version we came up with?"
"Exactly," Dumbledore said. The ending of this phony Prophecy hinted that not only could Harry destroy the Dark Lord, but that once Harry was Marked, his death would cause Voldemort's death as well.
Voldemort should not only be avoiding Harry, but taking care that Harry was not injured, at least until Voldemort found some other way to restart his pursuit of immortality or until he realized the Prophecy was partially false.
One idea in this chapter was inspired by Rorschach's Blot's 'Old Soldiers Never Die'.