A chapter showing the special interests of some people...
SPECIAL DISCLAIMER: One of the few perks of Book 6 was that we got to see some new Death Eaters. Anyone remember those siblings, Amycus and Alecto? I'm making it so that they're the Carrows. Oh, and as for the "big blond" and the "brutal-faced Death Eater"? I'm making it so that they're both one and the same, and he's Yaxley.
I would like to thank Shy Snootles, from whom I learned the wisdom about how "sometimes we are forced to go beyond our principles" in her /Star Wars fanfic "A New Life"./
CHAPTER 9: SPECIAL INTERESTS
Harry spotted Neville and his grandmother near the entrance. Mrs. Longbottom was talking to Dumbledore. He turned and noticed Harry coming up to them.
"Ah, Harry," he greeted his pupil. He lowered his voice and continued, "Good news. Mrs. Longbottom is joining the Bird Club and Neville knows about it."
Harry nodded. He knew that "Bird Club" was code for the Order of the Phoenix.
Neville nodded. "My parents were part of it, right?"
"That's right," Harry said. "Ask Moody about his old photo of the original Bird Club sometime. See if you can spot your parents."
"Also," Dumbledore went on, "are there any other students and their families you think should know about the Bird Club?"
That brought Harry up short for a moment. "With all due respect, sir, why are you asking me who I think should join?"
"Since they are your classmates, I imagine that you would know them better than I do," Dumbledore said with an innocent shrug.
Harry thought for a moment and said, "I was thinking maybe... Luna Lovegood, Susan Bones, and Cho Chang. Luna fought with us a month ago and was the only one other than me to come out uninjured. Susan supported me that day in the Hog's Head and had at least one relative in the Order. Cho also supported me in the Hog's Head, and she wants to do whatever she can to help, after... what happened to Cedric." The last part came out a bit more quietly.
Dumbledore thought about this and said, "Those are indeed wise choices, Harry. I shall talk to them now."
As he went off to find them, Harry, Neville, and Mrs. Longbottom set off for Ollivander's.
They entered the wand shop, and sure enough, Mr. Ollivander came drifting out of the back of the shop.
"Ah," he exclaimed after spotting Neville, "I see you have come for a replacement for your father's wand. A good wand it was. Oak, unicorn hair, I believe, twelve inches, nice and firm. Excellent for dueling and combat, ah yes, what a fine wand that one was! It served him well for his career as an Auror."
Neville looked a little embarrassed as Mr. Ollivander hurried off to collect some wands to try, but Harry quietly reassured him, "It's alright, Neville. I know what it's like to be compared to my father."
Before Neville could respond, Mr. Ollivander came back with a handful of wands. He handed one over to Neville. "Here, try this one. Maple, dragon heartstring, eleven-and-a-half inches, somewhat swishy."
Neville took the wand and simply waved it around with a look on his face which said /I somehow doubt this will work/. The next moment, a bunch of roses shot out of the wand's tip and landed in his grandmother's hands. She smelled the flowers and said, "Ah, what a beautiful bouquet, Neville, my dear."
Neville smiled with pride as Mr. Ollivander exclaimed, "Bravo! The first wand, too! This hasn't happened in a long time."
Harry paid Mr. Ollivander eight Galleons for the wand. "Well," he said, "I'd better get going. Good luck with your new wand, Neville."
If Harry hadn't been in such a rush to get back to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, he would have heard Mr. Ollivander say, "Hmmm, curious..."
Harry then walked back to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, and he noticed a couple of familiar faces that weren't there before at the twins' store.
Fleur Delacour was walking beside Bill Weasley, both of them chatting with each other in a mix of English and French, while Fleur's little sister, Gabrielle, was tagging along while playing with a fake wand that looked like a parrot. A few feet away, Viktor Krum was trying on a Headless Hat, and when his head vanished, a bunch of girls who were looking for him went off in the opposite direction.
"As you can see, Harry," Dumbledore said after appearing behind him, "Fleur and Viktor are also part of the bird club. Viktor is working with Charlie Weasley in Eastern Europe, and Fleur is working with Bill in England and the rest of Western Europe. Please come with me now, Harry"
With that, Harry followed his headmaster into the office where he was talking to his friends in turns just earlier. Lupin was there, along with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, and Neville, who had just returned. Lupin took out a deflated car tire, and said, "This will take us to Fudge's office at the Ministry of Magic."
"Er, Professor," Ron spoke up. "I know we're trying to prove what happened with Sirius and Umbridge, but with all due respect, how can we trust Minister Fudge?" he asked with a slight bit of dislike and distrust in his voice. "I still can't even figure out why you're trying to keep him in office."
"Ah," Dumbledore said with a small smile. "Good question, Mr. Weasley. I'd assign house points, except it's summer break at the moment. Anyway, I've actually cut a deal with the Minister, or so you might say." The smile vanishing, he said quietly and seriously, "Due to the Minister's... /foolishness/," and this was met with a few snorts of disgust, "Keeping him in office was actually the best alternative, as opposed to running him out. When he was chosen for the position, he was a bright and hard-working man, but he became lazy over the past few years as things seemed to get easier for him and his job. This is more than enough incentive for him to cooperate with us."
"Or in other words, better the devil you know then the one you don't?" Hermione asked, quoting the Muggle saying.
"Well," Dumbledore said with that twinkle in his eye, "I wouldn't quite put it that way..."
"Exactly how did you bring about this change of heart?" Ginny asked curiously.
"Oh, I just had a little chat with him," Dumbledore said innocently. However, Dumbledore's eyes twinkled even more as he remembered that brief encounter with Fudge...
NOT SO LONG AGO...
"I can't believe it!" Fudge blustered in front of the entire Wizengamot. "Umbridge being accused of abuse of power... this isn't happening! Right before my re-election campaign too! We're in trouble!"
"You mean, you're in trouble, Cornelius," Amelia said smoothly yet neutrally. "You wrote the laws, you passed the laws, throwing in one after another."
Angry spots of color appeared on Fudge's face while Bones continued, "Letters are pouring in from parents all over the country, whose children have scars on the backs of their hands. You'd be in even more trouble if students had actually gotten whipped. What in Merlin's name were you thinking?"
Fudge gulped nervously. The rest of the Wizengamot quieted down. Madame Bones went on, "And the fact that that Podmore fellow was framed and sent to Azkaban, while that Unspeakable Bode was incapacitated and killed. This isn't going to look very good to you at all, Minister."
Nervously, Fudge said, "Well, they're only two people, right?"
That was the final straw. Madame Bones was actually shouting in Fudge's face, while the other Wizengamot members watched in awe.
"THAT'S TWO MORE PEOPLE THAN WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN, FUDGE!" she boomed, and everyone else took a few steps back while Fudge turned red and began to actually cower with fear. "YOU HAVE MADE YOU FINAL MISTAKE! YOU HAVE BEEN A CORRUPT, FOOLISH, GREEDY PIG FROM THE START, PUTTING YOUR BEST INTERESTS AHEAD OF THE PEOPLE'S! YOU IMPRISON INNOCENT PEOPLE WHILE LETTING DEATH EATERS WALK FREE! ALL THAT WEALTH ISN'T GOING TO STOP YOU-KNOW-WHO FROM COMING AFTER YOU! WITH ONE PRESS CONFERENCE, I WILL HAVE YOU OUT OF HERE FASTER THAN -"
"Enough said, Amelia," came a new voice. It was Albus Dumbledore, now walking into the room.
"Dumbledore!" Fudge breathed, looking happy as though greeting an old friend who had just come through for him in a clinch. "Thank Merlin you're here! Please, please tell Amelia over here that -"
"She was essentially correct with what she said?" Dumbledore helpfully supplied. Fudge now turned pink.
"Dumbledore, please, you have to help me!" Fudge begged.
"You have made several mistakes, Cornelius," he said sadly. "However, we cannot afford to have such political chaos with Voldemort on the move."
"So, what can I do?" Fudge pleaded.
"First of all, admit your mistakes the previous year," Dumbledore advised. "No one else gets any points if you admit to it first."
Fudge nodded. "But why should I listen to that maniac, Potter?"
Dumbledore gave him a "don't cross me" kind of look. "First of all, I fail to see why you would believe Rita Skeeter after all she has said about yourself and your administration." After allowing Fudge to blush for a moment, Dumbledore continued, "Secondly, Mister Potter is a very likeable person, noble to a fault. He has never wanted any attention just for being a survivor."
"Codswallop," Fudge muttered. "What about that bilge about Sirius Black being innocent?"
"Mister Potter was not lying about Voldemort's return, and he has no reason to lie about Black's innocence. I even believed in his guilt myself at one point. For another matter, Sirius died in this very building, fighting against Bellatrix Lestrange. Why do you not show a little faith in young Mister Potter and try and take his word for it?"
Fudge shut his mouth, thinking carefully. "Some people in another Department have found another way of showing memories. It works something like a Pensieve. It should be done in another week or so."
"Good," Dumbledore said, smiling a little for the first time. "You know, Cornelius, you were always such a hard worker in the Ministry before you took over a few years ago. I thought you would have thought of Voldemort's return as a challenge. My offer still stands, Cornelius, to help you out, even if you have made things harder on yourself this past year."
Fudge glowered a little. "You care a lot about Potter, don't you?"
Dumbledore seemed to grow a little older at that moment. "For one thing, his legal guardianship has always been a bit hazy, so it fell to me to determine his future. For another thing, he will probably play the most important role of all in this war. And finally, I happen to be his Headmaster. Yes, I am concerned about him more than you might ever know."
There was silence as Dumbledore walked back to the door. "One other thing: We happen to have something in common, Cornelius. We both happen to like our jobs. If I wanted your job, I would have had it decades ago."
"Why do you like being Headmaster so much, anyway?" Fudge asked him. "None of us could ever figure that out."
Dumbledore gave one of those classic smiles. "Because I find it easier and more profound to be in charge of several hundred open-minded adolescents than several thousand narrow-minded adults." With that, he left.
Dumbledore repressed the urge to smirk to himself as he recalled that memory.
"So that's why are you keeping him in office, sir?" Neville asked. While not politically wise or even interested in politics himself, he knew a fair amount about them from how often his grandmother would talk about them at home.
The twinkling in Dumbledore's eyes faded as he said, "Indeed, Mister Longbottom. Also, I did not want to give him any reason or incentive to go looking to Voldemort for more power."
"An excellent reason indeed," Luna commented in her usual airy tone.
"So," Dumbledore concluded, "When we go there, try to put aside as much animosity as you can that you feel towards him. I daresay he has learned his lesson." And the students could trust their headmaster on this statement, especially with that that brilliant twinkle in his eyes.
Dumbledore accepted the innocent-looking deflated old tire from Lupin, and activated the spell on it, already set in place by some Ministry official. The next moment, they all took the tire; within seconds, and after rushing through a blast of color and sound, they were in Fudge's resplendent and luxurious office. The Minister was signing some legal documents, and he looked tired. In fact, he looked paler and thinner than when Harry had last seen him less than a month before. After signing the last document, he looked up, and said, "Welcome. Here, let me get you some seats." With a wave of his wand, seven chintz armchairs arrived for his visitors.
Harry briefly looked around for a moment, and then realized that Lupin had not come with them. Harry privately wondered whether it was because of prejudice and discrimination against werewolves or just because Lupin simply didn't need to come.
"Down to business," he stated, before turning to Harry. "Mister Potter, if you can use your memories to prove that Pettigrew is still alive, then Black's name can be cleared, and his will can be read. You have to be of age to submit to Veritaserum, but I have a device that works somewhat like Professor Dumbledore's Pensieve."
Harry inwardly marveled at the Minister's change of attitude towards him before he pulled out a silvery-greenish orb the size of a bowling ball, which sat on a small pedestal and reflected the room. "This is a Memory Orb," Fudge explained. "Grasp it while focusing on a memory, and it should project it to the entire room."
"Try and think back to that night in the Shrieking Shack, Harry," Dumbledore encouraged him.
Harry grasped the Orb, and thought back to that eventful night. It's almost like getting a happy memory for a Patronus, he observed to himself.
The walls, floor, ceiling and other surfaces in the room seemed to get darker as Harry's memory suddenly sprung to life for everyone to see. Fudge gaped during the entire memory, from Lupin's story, to Sirius' explanation of his escape from Azkaban, to Pettigrew being exposed as a rat Animagus, and finally to Harry's mercy and suggestion that they bring Pettigrew in alive.
"Maybe I should have let him be killed after all," said Harry bitterly after the memory ended. "Sirius is gone now anyway."
"Harry," Dumbledore coaxed him, "there's no way you would have been able to know that back then. Besides, he was your parents' best friend and your godfather. He would have taken the same risks as them if he had to."
Fudge then asked, "Why? What happened?"
With much grief, Harry activated the memory of the battle in the Department of Mysteries. Almost everyone gasped in horror as Sirius fell backwards through the veil, never to be seen again. Harry continued the memory up to Voldemort's failed attempt to possess him, and ended it there; however; Harry deliberately skipped over the point in time with the Cruciatus Curse. When everyone else noticed, he just said that he was having trouble concentrating, although he caught Dumbledore's eye, and both of them knew full well why that actually happened.
After that ended, the usually pompous Minister just looked deep in thought, looking over the whole thing (which was an expression that was very rarely seen on Fudge's face). A moment later, he finally said, "Very well. Now, if your friends could also show their own memories, that would be appreciated."
And so Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna also showed what happened from their perspectives as they battled their way through the Department of Mysteries. Harry took a moment to feel proud of the fact that showing them to defend themselves had been good use of his time after all.
"Now you said that Ms. Umbridge used a Blood Quill in her detentions?"
"Yes," Dumbledore answered, with something like disgust now on his face. He took out a sealed roll of parchment and gave it to Fudge. "Inside is a list of students subjected to it, the infringements, and pictures of the students' hands after they were done."
Fudge skimmed down the list and looked through the pictures. He seemed to be more sickened with each one. He finally looked up at Harry. "'I must not tell lies.' What did you say to her?"
"Actually, I didn't tell any lies. First time, it was because I told Umbridge that Voldemort killed Cedric Diggory. Then it was because I mentioned how Voldemort possessed Quirrell. Voldemort was still something less than a ghost, so when he possessed Quirrel, his face was sticking out of the back of Quirrel's head. That's why Quirrel wore that ridiculous turban. Then it was because I told her that Draco Malfoy was attacked by Hagrid's hippogriff, Buckbeak, because he insulted it, because he didn't pay attention to Hagrid during class. Finally, it was because I gave that interview that appeared in the March edition of The Quibbler." His face showing some hatred now, he added, "That resulted in more than three weeks of detention with her."
After a moment of silence, Harry said, "Ironically, it was all because I told /the truth/."
Fudge remained silent, wincing at Harry's last statement. He then asked, "How did you get rid of her?"
Harry used the Orb to show the memory where Umbridge was tricked into being ambushed by the centaurs after she threatened him in her office. After a moment, Harry then said, "Oh, and before I forget, here's what she did to Professor McGonagall and Hagrid," and then projected the memory where the two aforementioned professors were attacked in the middle of the night during Harry's Astronomy O.W.L.
By the end of it all, Fudge looked furious. "That awful woman," he growled. "Dementors, Cruciatus Curse, attacking other teachers... and claiming to do it all for me, when I would never condone such things... Very well, I will send out Aurors to arrest her right away, and decide on a trial date afterwards. In the meantime, I'll have Black's will read a couple of days from now, and we can decide on a date for his memorial then."
"Very well," said Dumbledore. "Thank you for your time, Cornelius."
"One other thing," Fudge said, suddenly speaking up. "Normally, a person could be severely punished for not only breaking into the Ministry of Magic like that..." (Here, Harry and his friends all simultaneously contemplated that they didn't exactly "break in," and there hadn't even been a security guard there to begin with.) "...but considering the circumstances, the Ministry felt it was best to reward them by showing them leniency this one time. As for the damage to everything within the Department of Mysteries, it was all fortunately fixed."
"Even all the prophecies which were smashed?" Harry asked. He could feel the desire to chew Fudge out stirring up within him, and he could almost sense Fudge feeling the same animosity towards him... both of them having that desire to vent their spleen on each other and thoroughly make each other look bad in front of everyone.
Fortunately, however, Dumbledore was quick to head off any problems before they could get out of control. "A small token of wisdom, Harry," he said, with that small twinkle in his eyes, "always make spares."
"Yes, well," Fudge said, "We managed to replace all the broken prophecies with their spares... but strangely, one of them seems to be missing..." He then pulled out a big, heavy book which kicked up a small cloud of dust when he placed it on his desk, however gently. After flipping through the pages, he finally found what he was looking for. "The prophecy... from an 'S.P.T.' to an 'A.P.W.B.D.' about the Dark Lord and one other person who could be Harry Potter..." Looking up, he said, "That one is missing."
"It's missing?" Dumbledore repeated, with surprise in his voice. "Well... imagine that."
However, something told Harry that Dumbledore already knew about the spare prophecy not being there.
"Anyway, unless we have anything else to discuss here... thank you for your time, Cornelius," he said genially.
"Of course, Professor Dumbledore," Fudge said, nodding his head furiously. "Just as well," he muttered anxiously, "got plenty of work to do..."
"Come," Dumbledore told his students, "let us return to Mr. and Mr. Weasley's wonderful joke shop."
And with that, they all took the accepted tire Portkey, and several seconds later, they were back in the twins' office at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
As Harry's friends all left to go look at other things, Dumbledore said, "Harry, may I please speak to you for a moment?"
Harry stopped in his tracks and turned back. "Sure, of course. What is it, professor?"
"I just wanted to say that I think you handled it very well back in the Minister's office without having it disintegrate into an argument or string of harsh criticisms. Yes, Fudge has done some things which he should not have, but it was not the time or the place to bring up any such topics, which I think you realized and handled well."
Harry was stunned for a moment at this unexpected praise, but then said, "Uh, thank you, sir."
"Cornelius Fudge was actually a very hard-working Hufflepuff when he was a student at Hogwarts, years and years ago," Dumbledore explained. "He also aspired to become part of the Ministry of Magic in an effort to make things better and to combat the problems and scandals which plagued the Ministry back then. He despised the corrupt politicians back then with a passion. However... often, people can become no better than those they replace. People can take over positions, thinking that they can do better, but in the end, they can do worse if they are not careful.
"However, there is also another explanation for Fudge's behavior and personality... tell me, Harry did you know that he was once married?"
Harry shook his head and said "No," but then he remembered something else.
"Professor... more than a year ago, during the Triwizard Tournament, when Viktor Krum and I found Mr. Crouch in the woods... he was rambling at times, and he also mentioned a 'Mrs. Fudge'... do you mean...?"
"Yes, Harry, Bartemius Crouch, Sr. was indeed talking about Fudge's wife, who was still alive back then when... well, whenever Crouch thought it was."
"'Still alive?'" Harry repeated, starting to get a sinking feeling.
"Yes, Harry... you see, Mrs. Fudge was killed by a few of Voldemort's supporters about halfway through the First War. This deeply affected Mr. Fudge, and he never recovered from it... or at least not entirely. I cannot say for certain, but I do believe that Fudge's initial denial of Voldemort's return may have something to do with his memories of her fate."
"I don't mean to sound callous, I'm sure what happened to both her and him was terrible, but that was hardly a good reason to deny Voldemort's return," Harry pointed out.
"Perhaps," Dumbledore agreed. "But often... while a person's decisions or actions may not always be excusable or forgivable, it often does help to learn why they made those decisions. It may not exonerate them of those things, but at least it helps put things into context."
Harry thought about this, and finally nodded. "I think I see your point, professor."
"Very good," Dumbledore said, nodding. "Well, Harry, I have other things to do, but I promise we'll talk more soon."
"Thank you, professor," Harry said.
"Farewell, Harry." And with that, Fawkes suddenly swooped into the room through and open window, and in the instant after catching the phoenix's tail, they both disappeared in a flash of light and fire.
Harry was left to his thoughts, and a few moments later, he went back out to the general area of the store.
In a run-down manor in the village of Little Hangleton, a figurative demon sat upon his literal throne.
This demon was once a man, but he wanted to be something more... something different, something more powerful than any human being, magical or Muggle. He got his wish, and through his hard work and experimentation in the Dark Arts of magic, he became something superior, a class all his own. He had a deathly, chalk-white skin and glowing red catlike eyes, and an ugly, squashed serpentine face.
It was debated in some circles whether or not the use of a Killing Curse (or any kind of Unforgivable Curse, for that matter) on this demon would qualify for a lifetime in Azkaban, since he was no longer "another human being." It was also debated in other circles whether he even deserved his own scientific name for his unique, one-member species, since he was clearly no longer a member of either Homo sapiens or /Homo magicus/; the most popular choice seemed to be /Volator de morte/, or "flyer from death," because of how often he seemed to cheat death. But of course, no one was willing to even say that idea aloud, because of how closely it sounded like the name which he chose for himself...
His name was once Tom Riddle, the orphaned son to a witch who died giving birth to him and a Muggle father who left before he was even born. He grew up in a Muggle orphanage, which may not have been horrible and oppressive, but was bereft of any real love or care which children needed the same way flowers needed sunlight. Even if the people at Hogwarts when he was a student were to take an interest in young Tom Marvolo Riddle and try to convince him that not all Muggles were bad just because a few had been unkind to him, it may not have done much good, because by then, Riddle had made up his mind that all Muggles were beneath wizards, in more ways than one.
Voldemort would have been ruling the world by now (or the British Isles, at the very least), if it hadn't been for one certain young wizard which proved to be the biggest obstacle he had ever encountered.
The young wizard had all kinds of magical protection, and not to mention a seemingly obscene amount of luck. Voldemort wasn't quite sure how the Boy Who Lived had managed to... well, /live/, but he absolutely refused to think that it had anything to do with that truly foolish philosophy that "good always triumphs over evil in the end."
"Master?" came a female voice from the doorway to his throne room. It was Bellatrix Lestrange.
"The Carrows, Yaxley and Gibbon are here, my Lord."
"Very well, send them in."
Four Death Eaters - three male, one female - came in behind her. They were all carrying books; some of them were magical books, almost all of which were tomes of very Dark magic, while the rest of the books were encyclopedias about various kinds of creatures, most of which having to do with snakes and serpents.
"Ah, you are all ahead of schedule with my plans for which these books are required," Voldemort hissed delightfully. "Keep up the good work, and I just might even... forgive you for not seeking me out all those years ago."
All four of the newcomers nervously gulped but nodded in understanding.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Bring the books here and leave them by me."
The four of them did just that, although at one point, Yaxley accidentally knocked into Gibbon during the task. "Be careful, man!" Gibbon shouted. "What are you trying to do, kill me?"
"Sorry," Yaxley grunted.
"It seems that Gibbon really out to watch his back, eh, sister?" Amycus wheezed in a conspiring tone to Alecto.
"Yes, indeed, Yaxley just might squash him flat, dear brother," she chuckled back at him.
"My Lord," Bellatrix said, interrupting the antics of the other four Death Eaters, "I was curious as to when we might be raiding another village, making examples out of the unworthy... all that good fun."
"Impatient, are you, Bella?" Voldemort asked her, raising an eyebrow.
"I would like to think not, my Lord," Bellatrix replied respectfully. "It's just that there are so many nasty new things I want to try on the ickle Muggles and Mudbloods!"
"Why, what did you have in mind, Bellatrix?" Voldemort asked with what appeared to be polite interest in his icy-cold voice.
"Such as turning their water into blood, killing their firstborn children, or maybe those and everything else in-between!" she cackled insanely.
Following that was an awkward pause in which everyone just tried to digest what she had just said... especially considering where those ideas came from.
"Sometimes, you truly worry me in ways I cannot describe, Bellatrix," Voldemort muttered. But then the next moment, a small yet evil smirk graced the self-proclaimed Dark Lord's face. "Although I might just save those ideas for later..."
After they were all done with their task, Voldemort allowed them to leave. After they departed, Nagini came slithering in.
"Yes, Nagini," Voldemort purred to her in Parseltongue, "everything is going according to plan. Soon enough, we will recover sufficiently from our... minor setback, as it were."
"But what about all of Master's other minions, who are currently imprisoned at Azkaban?" (Here, the name of the feared wizarding prison came out slightly distorted as Nagini tried to pronounce it as best she could in Parseltongue.)
"I will retrieve them... in due time, of course," Voldemort told his serpent familiar. The truth of the matter was he wanted to let them stew for a bit for failing so magnificently in the Ministry of Magic less than a month ago.
"Now, in the meantime, Nagini... why don't we read through these wonderful books together, which my loyal servants have kindly brought for us?" Voldemort sweetly asked his pet snake.
And so, Voldemort and Nagini perused through the books together, which spoke of zoological anatomy (both serpentine and otherwise) and Dark Magic, especially where unnatural transformations were concerned...
Harry continued browsing through the store when a special edition of the Daily Prophet was being distributed throughout Diagon Alley.
SIRIUS BLACK PROVEN INNOCENT! screamed the headlines. If it was possible, Harry felt both relieved and upset at the same time; relieved, because Sirius had finally been proven innocent, and upset, because it came too late. If only those fools at the Ministry had just listened to them...
Harry tried to pull himself together and control himself before he did something potentially stupid.
"Better late than never, I suppose?" someone next to him commented.
"Ron!" another voice admonished him. "That's so thoughtless!"
"Actually, Hermione, I have to agree with how he put it," Harry said with a sigh.
Everyone else in the store were gasping and muttering to themselves about how Sirius Black was innocent, and in almost as if in waves, they turned to face Harry (the article mentioned how he was Black's godson).
"Before you all start asking me, yes, it's true, Sirius is... was my godfather, and he was innocent," he told everyone.
There was a moment of silence as everyone else tried to digest this surprising information, which was then ended by a deafening BANG!
"Well, well, well," a girlish, simpering voice rang out. "Spreading more nasty, attention-seeking lies, are you, Potter?"
(End of Chapter 9.)
A/N: All original scenes in this chapter have been fixed and edited, while there are also a few new scenes.
Regarding the "wisdom" supplied by Shy Snootles and her own fic... I've always known that sometimes, people just have to make exceptions to the rules. However, I just loved the way in which Shy Snootles phrased it in her own work about "having to go beyond one's principles," and so I felt compelled to mention her.
As for the Memory Orb thing... that was my idea. However, since when I first made it up and wrote it in a few years ago, I've seen other examples of memory-projecting devices in other science-fiction and fantasy stories, so I guess it's a common idea. However, sometime between now and when I first wrote the thing with the Memory Orb, I read the last Animorphs book by K.A. Applegate, /The Beginning/, and a similar sort of device was used at Visser One's trial, so maybe that might help as a kind of example (although I did not get the idea from that).
It says in Book 3 that Fudge was on the scene as some sort of squad (I forget the name), and was one of the first on the scene; in Book 4, while Crouch is babbling away at the tree, he refers to a Mrs. Fudge. However, that was at least twelve years before, and she could have died or something between now and then, right? (Oh, and if were still alive in canon, I imagine that she would have him sleeping on the couch, or at the very least.)
Also, Fudge has not had a change of heart and is now a reformed good guy. He's still his power-hungry self, but he and Harry had to play nice and get along for the sake of making progress with what had to be done.
The thing about good people taking over positions from their bad predecessors and becoming just as bad... it can hold true, not just for leaders and politicians, but also for ordinary people. (Interestingly, when some extreme people aren't accusing J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books of promoting witchcraft or being anti-family, they also accuse the books and their author of teaching children that it's okay to rebel against their leaders and governments. Without getting into details or examples relating to the current state of the world... let's just say that some politicians don't need help from popular literature in sinking their own political careers.)
Homo sapiens/, as everyone hopefully knows, is the scientific name for human beings (literally, "wise man/human" in Latin). The /Homo magicus (literally "magical man/human") thing was sort of a joke on my part.
As for Bellatrix's reference with the Ten Plagues (between the transformation into blood, the death of the firstborn, and everything else in-between)... please forgive me, because I've been watching The Prince of Egypt again.