Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The Darkest Hour

Trials and Tribulations

by Ham 2 Reviews

Sixth Year!PostOOtp Its Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts and he has to make some hard decisions in order to survive. But will these decisions help him or make him weaker? Martial arts, dueling, anima...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Dumbledore, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Neville, Ron, Voldemort - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2007/04/12 - Updated: 2007/04/12 - 11569 words

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Important Authors Note: This fic had been abandoned as I had no time to write it due to work constraints. But I finally found some time and have finished Chapter 19. Before I post it up I will have to fix some minor errors in the previous chapters to ensure that the plot ahead does not go awry. There will also be some major changes in Chapter 17... a major scene is deleted. Most of the changes are minor but those who have the time please feel free to re read it. I will post the rest of the fic up, including the new chapter day by day.

Title: The Darkest Hour (01)

Author name: Ham

Summary: Harry is back in Privet Drive just a few days after the happenings in the Department of Mysteries. He is struggling to cope with his loss and the immense burden placed on him. He suddenly finds it very hard to go on - To find a reason to live. Will his task break his spirit? After all he is just a sixteen year old...

He knows that he must fight. Knows that he has to win at all costs. But he knows that if he even is to have a slim chance of defeating Voldemort he will need to make some hard decisions. Decisions that would hurt him and those close to him.

But will Harry be able to take the hard road back when he finally realizes that his decisions only made him weaker? That they took away his only reason to live. His only reason to fight.


DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author notes: All right people. I promise a rollercoaster of a ride. So hang on and enjoy the ride.

Thanks a lot to my Britpicker Sharon.

I thank my beta Tricia (Mugglemomma) for her excellent help with this chapter.


~~~*~


Chapter 01 - Trials and Tribulations


~~~*~



Harry lay on his bed, his hands behind his head and his feet crossed at the ankles. He was staring unseeingly at the ceiling and had been in the same position for several hours.

A person could have been forgiven for thinking that he had fallen asleep, but for his eyes. They were full of life. A number of emotions flashed in their emerald green depths, giving away what was going on in his mind.

Anger, sorrow, pain, fear and loneliness. How could any one pair of eyes show so many emotions at once? Yet they did, and because of them you almost felt that he was not stationary, that he was moving and crying and screaming and violently thrashing around, yet he was absolutely still. The emotions and movement were all locked within his mind. It was a perfect chaos in there as one emotion warred with the other. There was no peace for him and there hadn't been for three days since he had come back from Hogwarts. He had neither slept nor eaten, nor moved from his bed.

He was aware of nothing around him. He only felt fatigue. He felt like he was a hundred years old, feeble, tired and defeated. He couldn't even make himself to go down and grab anything to eat. He lived on his emotions alone, and they lived off him.

When he fell asleep, for the little while that he could, he had terrible nightmares. His nightmares from before, hearing his parents screams as they died, and the graveyard where Voldemort had cast the Cruciatus on him after being reborn were recalled by his tortured mind without fail every night. Then there were a few new ones to add to his torment. The most horrifying one was where he saw Sirius falling through the veil in slow motion, into a black, never-ending abyss. The nightmares sometimes ended with him standing before his parents and Sirius who looked at him sadly repeating over and over again, "How could you let us die Harry? It's all your fault. You are supposed to stop him. It's your fault that we died. Why did you let us die? Didn't you love us?"

Those four words were firmly ingrained into his very being - It's all your fault.

Sometimes Cedric joined them too, accusing Harry of getting him killed. "I told you to take the cup, Harry. But you had to make me grab it too didn't you? If it wasn't for you I would still be alive."

Harry would find himself waking from these dreams screaming and begging for their forgiveness. He never got it.

He still couldn't believe that Sirius was dead...he couldn't be. Harry had heard the whispers behind the veil... Luna had too. Sirius couldn't die so easily, not like that! Not without his name being cleared.

When he wasn't thinking of Sirius, he was thinking of the Prophecy and what it meant. As he remembered the way Voldemort dueled and his sheer power, he couldn't help trembling. How was he supposed to defeat him? He couldn't help feeling fear, fear like he had never known before. He didn't fear dying; rather, he feared dying without killing Voldemort. If he died and Voldemort survived, everything would be over. It would be a nightmare of epic proportions and one that his friends and loved ones would be stuck inside for the rest of their lives.

Sometimes he just felt like escaping from it all. He hadn't asked for any of it.

Time passed and he just lay there falling deeper and deeper into despair. The only time he forced himself to move was when another owl arrived, bearing a message from another one of his friends. He couldn't bear to read their consolatory letters and he just threw them in a large pile on his desk and fell back onto his bed.

On his third day back he got an owl and recognized Moony's handwriting. He realized that he had to answer this one or the Order would come rushing over to check if he was all right, which was attention that he didn't need at the moment.

He grabbed a piece of parchment and scribbled a hurried note.


I'm fine.
Dursley's are treating me ok.

Harry.



He tied the short note to the owl's leg and the bird flew away with a small hoot.


~~~*~


Harry got up sweating and screaming from yet another nightmare. He looked at the bedside clock, which showed the time as 5 am. Knowing that he wouldn't get any more sleep, he got up and stretched. He wasn't able to lie down for a second more. He decided to go take a shower and get something to eat. He was very hungry and couldn't remember when his last meal had been.

He looked around the room and saw that it was a huge mess. Clothes, papers, books, owl droppings, newspapers and a layer of dirt covered everything. Harry scrunched his nose up at the smell. He then very carefully bent his head and sniffed himself. He immediately made a disgusted face and, after stripping quickly, grabbed his towel and headed for the bathroom.

The hot shower was soothing to both his mind and body. He didn't know how long he stood there under the stinging hot water with his mind blissfully blank, just feeling the liquid on his pale skin, but at last he felt the water get cool. He sighed and turned off the taps and after drying himself went back to his bedroom.

Harry looked in the mirror and examined himself detachedly. He was thin and pale and his ribs could be seen clearly. His legs were like sticks, and looked like any halfway strong man could snap them in two without any effort. There was a slight growth of stubble on his face and it made him crack a small smile, but overall he wasn't very pleased with how he looked. He was fifteen, soon to be sixteen, and he looked like a short, skinny, pale loser. He decided that something had to be done about it.

He looked into his wardrobe and groaned. He had somehow managed to lose a bit of weight on his already skinny frame, and all of Dudley's old clothes were now going to be even larger on him. Also, he noticed that most of them were frayed and torn. He decided that enough was enough. He needed some new clothes.

He finally pulled on an extremely baggy pair of jeans which were constantly slipping off him, even with the belt tightened to the last notch. Over that he pulled on a horrendous mustard coloured t-shirt which was far too large for him. He glanced into the mirror again and winced. He almost looked lost under all the excess cloth. Two thin pale arms and his face were all that could be seen of him. A long groan escaped him. It looked like he was wearing a bleeding tent!

He peered into the wardrobe again and saw a white t-shirt that he had never worn before. He pulled it out and held it up. His mouth dropped and he immediately realized why he had never worn it.

On the front of the t-shirt there was a large photograph of Dudley as a baby complete with pink bobble hat and the multiple bobbing chins, grinning happily. There was ice cream and chocolate smeared all over his face. Below the photo was printed 'Dinky Duddydums'. Aunt Petunia had been offered to have any picture she liked printed on the t-shirt free of cost, as the store was running a scheme for people that brought more than two t-shirts. She had naturally decided that there was nothing more adorable then her whale of a son.

Harry put the t-shirt back, grinning all the while. He would never wear it, but it could be used to torture Dudley. He quickly pulled on a pair of socks and pushed his feet into his tattered trainers. His toe poked out of a large hole on his right foot. He sighed. Yet another thing to replace!

He walked down to the kitchen and saw the Dursleys for the first time since his return to Number Four Privet Drive. They completely ignored him. Aunt Petunia was silently making breakfast and didn't even look at him and Uncle Vernon's face was buried behind his paper. Dudley, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen.

Harry couldn't care less about the reception and he sat down in a chair and grabbed some toast, eggs and bacon and started hungrily bolting down his food. Halfway through, he heard the scrape of a chair as his Uncle Vernon got up. He quickly walked over to his wife and gave her a peck on the cheek and after collecting his car keys, quickly walked out of the house. Harry heard the car reversing a minute later, signaling that his Uncle had left for work.

He poured himself a cup of tea and grabbed another piece of toast and a few more rashers of bacon. Normally he wouldn't be able to eat this much, but he forced himself to eat it, reminding himself that he needed to gain some weight.

He was quietly eating when suddenly Aunt Petunia cleared her throat, making him jump. He looked at her and saw a look of irritation and distaste on her face. "I am going out for a bit of shopping and I don't want you to touch or wreck anything while I'm gone."

Harry sighed and nodded. 'Yeah, like I take an axe and start chopping the furniture into bits when I'm left alone!'

"Dudley might come back while I am gone, so let him inside. And don't you dare try and threaten him with any of your unnaturalness."

Harry raised his eyebrow at this, but didn't comment.

"Oh, and I wont be able to make it back in time for lunch. There is a roast in the oven. You just have to set the timer and take it out on time."

Harry nodded. "Where is Dudley?" he asked, wondering why Dudley had not come down for breakfast.

"He spent last night at the Polkises house."

"Hmm... well, ok, I was wondering what happened to make him skip breakfast," Harry muttered.

Petunia Dursley chose to ignore the remark and walked out of the room. Harry heard the door close a minute later.

He looked around, trying to decide what to do, and he picked up the paper and started scanning the headlines. There was nothing in the headlines about any kind of unexplained attacks, and this both unnerved and relieved Harry. He wondered what exactly Voldemort was up to.

He idly flipped through the paper until he came across an advertisement that caught his interest. It was a small ad giving details about martial arts classes. The telephone number of the instructor was given at the bottom. Harry's mind raced as he thought about the advantages of learning self defense.

Harry wondered whether it was any use to learn physical combat. Ron would make a face and ask typically, "Why do you want to punch him when you can hex him, Harry?" Harry decided that at the least the idea was worth thinking about, and it wouldn't be any harm if he talked to the instructor.

He drank another cup of tea and got up and walked to the phone in the living room. He wondered whether he should use it, as he was under strict orders from the Dursleys never to touch anything in the house. He figured that what they didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

He picked the receiver up and glancing at the newspaper advertisement, quickly dialed the number. A pleasant, masculine voice answered on the second ring. "Hello."

"Um... hello, I'm phoning about this ad in today's paper. The one for learning martial arts," Harry said nervously.

"Yes, but it is not martial arts. We only teach Aikido and Taekwondo. Martial arts is a rather big field, you know," the man said with a pleasant laugh.

Harry looked at the advertisement again and saw that this fact was mentioned there. "Uh... sorry, my mistake. I would be interested in learning one of these martial arts that you teach. Could you answer a few questions for me, though?"

"Yes, of course, but it would be better if you come to meet me so we can discuss this properly. It would be better to explain things in person rather than over the phone. And then you could ask me whatever questions that you like."

"Er... all right... what time would be convenient for you?" Harry inquired.

"I'm free after three. So should we say a quarter past three?" the man asked after a slight pause.

"That's fine. See you then," Harry replied.

Suddenly, Harry realized that he had forgotten to ask the man's name, which was a common courtesy while talking on the phone. 'I'm sure not acting like I was raised in a Muggle household,' Harry thought irritatedly.

"Er... you must think me awfully rude. I haven't introduced myself. My name is Harry Potter."

There was a short bark of laughter on the other end. "Roger Greene," came the reply. "And don't worry about it."

"Ok, see you then," Harry said and replaced the receiver.

Harry looked at the clock and saw that it was 10 am. He realized that he had plenty of time to kill and so he decided to go and give his room a much needed cleaning. He headed upstairs and walked into his bedroom.

Looking around his filthy room, he ran his hands through his hair and wondered where to begin. He decided to start with the dirty clothes. He picked up all the clothes that were strewn around the back of the chair and the floor and carried them to the laundry basket downstairs.

He then walked back and started gathering his books and piling them neatly in his trunk. Next, he picked up all the leftover pieces of Owl treats that had fallen from Hedwig's cage and bits of rubbish lying around and chucked them into the bin. He looked distastefully at the owl droppings and wished he could use magic to clean them up. 'Oh well, I guess we'll have to do it the manual way,' he thought reluctantly. Fifteen minutes later his room looked a lot tidier.

Harry's eye then fell on the mail that he had received over the past few days and with a sigh, he decided that he might as well read them.

He picked up a letter with Ron's handwriting and opening it, began to read it.


Harry,

Hang in there mate. I know that the Muggles are horrible, but it will only be for a few more days. Mum has already started pestering Dumbledore to allow you to come and visit. I think that it won't be too long before you are here with us. We are going to shift to Headquarters in a couple of days and Hermione will be joining us.

I promise you that I will tell you everything I find out about You-Know-Who's activities. There have been no Order meetings so far and no news on his activities. Things are looking awfully quiet, which is good. The Prophet has sure changed its tune now. Now suddenly they are saying how you and Dumbledore had been right all along, and how you battled all odds to make the truth known.

Hope the Muggles are treating you OK. If they aren't, just let me know and I'll be there to break you out, consequences be damned!

I will write again soon.

Take care,

Ron.




Harry smiled at the letter. It was typically Ron.

He picked up Hermione's letter next and quickly opened it.



Harry,

How are you doing?

Look, Harry, I know that you aren't feeling great right now. I can understand what you are going through. I loved Sirius as well. I still can't believe he is gone, and I expect that if I am feeling so terrible, you are feeling ten times worse. But remember that we are there to help you and we love you very much. We are your friends, Harry. It is very difficult to see you hurting like this. Please don't push us away.

Look, I don't want to push you right now, but I do want you to realize that you are not alone on all this.

Take care of yourself.

Love, Hermione.



Harry looked at the third letter and found the writing to be unfamiliar to him. He opened it curiously, wondering who had sent it.



Hello, Harry,

How are you? (Arrghhhh! Stupid question, ignore it)

Harry, I won't tell you not to feel sad. I know you can't help it. I also know that it's no use to tell you to share your feelings with us. I know that you'll only do that when you are ready.

I just want to let you know that it's OK to feel sad. Just don't blame yourself for it. (Don't deny it; I know you are.)

Whenever you want to talk and you feel ready, know that I will be there for you. I only hope that you consider me as important enough to share your feelings with.

Harry, bottling up all your feelings is never a good thing. It will just grow inside of you until you explode. You knew Sirius very well and you know that he would be very unhappy to see you so sad. Try and be happy for his sake, and try and remember that he came there that day because he loved you. You thinking that you forced him to come is a dishonor to his memory.

OK, on to other topics. I am getting along very well with Dean and he is in constant touch with me through Floo. We manage to talk everyday. Of course, you realize that my git of a brother is acting hysterically about it. Honestly, that boy just cannot grow up. I am going to go over to meet Dean in a day or two.

I guess I'll see you soon. The way Mum is after Dumbledore, it will only be a matter of days before she convinces him to send you here.

Take care of yourself.

Love, Ginny.




Harry held Ginny's letter for a bit as he pondered over her words. She had changed. He remembered her as the skinny, shy little girl she had been when he met her, and then she had suddenly stood up to him last year when he was in the middle of one of his moods, something not even Ron and Hermione dared to do. He realized that he had missed a lot of changes in her. He shook his head at that and decided that he would need to get to know her all over again.

Harry put away his letters and looked around, satisfied with his clean room. He walked downstairs, deciding to get rid of his dirty laundry and set the timer on for the roast. He had just put his washing into the dryer when the doorbell chimed.

Harry cautiously went to answer it, drawing his wand out. Ever since the happenings in the Department of Mysteries, Harry had taken an approach that even Moody would have called paranoid. He was never without his wand, even going to the extent of sleeping with it and taking it with him to the loo. He also reacted to the smallest of sounds, jumping every time someone closed a door or dropped an object. He realized that his nerves weren't what they used to be.

He peered out of the keyhole and breathed with relief when he saw Dudley, who impatiently rang the bell again. Harry reached for the handle to open the door as he heard the doorbell chime yet again, and this time it continued ringing until he opened the door.

"What's the matter, freak? Don't you know that you are supposed to open the door when the bell ri..." He stopped abruptly when he noticed Harry twirling his wand around with a particularly dangerous glint in his eyes.

"What was that, Big D?" Harry asked quietly.

"N-n-nothing. Point that thing away from me. I- I'll tell Dad you were threatening me with it and he'll chuck you out of the House," Dudley said quickly, trying to sound intimidating but ending up just sounding terrified. "Can't you hear the doorbell ringing?" he said a bit more angrily, when he realized that Harry wasn't going to hex him.

Harry looked at him coldly and replaced his wand. "Oh, I'm so sorry, your /Majesty/. I hope I didn't keep you waiting when you obviously have so many important things to do," Harry said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Dudley went red in the face and considered attacking Harry as soon as he saw that his wand was tucked away in his sleeve. Harry must have noticed, because the next moment he twirled around and his wand slipped into his hand. He waved it lazily.

Dudley quickly moved back, his eyes widening. He looked at Harry shrewdly for a moment before he said. "Y-y-you c-can't use your f-f-freakiness here. T-they... they'll expel you from your freakish school," Dudley said bravely, a nasty smirk appearing on his face.

Harry looked at him for a moment and smiled. To Dudley, it looked like the smile a cat gives the canary right before dinner.

"You know, Dudley, last summer I did use magic and they didn't expel me. Secondly, the rule only applies until I have passed my fifth year exams... which I have," Harry said making it up as he went along. He knew he was talking rubbish, of course, but he also knew that Dudley had no way of knowing that.

"Thirdly, you remember the toffee you had two years ago that made your tongue four feet long? Well, the people who invented that have opened a shop that sells those kinds of things, and I am a partner of theirs. Did I mention that they are fully grown wizards? Oh, yeah, well they have been inventing a lot and have sent me a box of their pranks to try on.../somebody,"/ He said the last with a nasty smirk on his face glancing at Dudley.

Dudley had gone a sick green shade.

"So, as I was saying..." Harry said, giving Dudley a cold smile, "You really don't want to mess with me, do you?"

Dudley looked like he was thinking of opening the door and rushing out, but instead he quickly walked towards the living room, his hands twitching as if he wanted to cup his large bottom.

As he was about to enter the living room, Harry called out. "Oh, and Dudley, your mum told me to make lunch. It's in the kitchen. I made it especially for you."

Dudley turned around and swallowed nervously, and Harry could almost see the cogs working slowly in his brain.

"Uh... I-I t-think I'll skip lunch today," Dudley stammered fearfully. "I'm... uh not that hungry, come to t-t-think of it." Then he quickly turned around and waddled out of the room as fast as he could go, his hands trying desperately to cover his overly large bottom.

Harry staggered into the kitchen with his fist stuffed into his mouth and collapsed into a chair, laughing until tears came into his eyes. Just then, the timer went off and Harry went and took the roast out of the oven.

He glanced at the clock and saw that it was 12.30 pm. The smell of the roast was making him hungry again and so he sat down at the table and began to eat. He could feel Dudley taking several peeks into the room as the smell of the delicious roast was making him really hungry. Harry totally ignored him.

For once in his life, fear overruled hunger and Dudley did not eat any lunch that day.


~~~*~


Harry was pleasantly surprised to find that the address of the martial arts building was just a few streets away and he quickly walked the distance and arrived five minutes early. He had left a little early as he no longer had a wristwatch and thus had no way to tell the time. He figured that he would rather get there early than late.

The place was a small block of flats and the whole ground floor was converted into the training centre. There was a large sign hanging outside saying 'Roger Green - Aikido and Taekwondo Dojo.'

Harry pushed the door at the entrance open and stepped into a corridor. To the right, there was a small door that said 'Office'. To the left, there were a set of large oak doors painted a vivid scarlet and ahead there was a small set of doors labeled 'Changing rooms.'

Harry walked up to the door of the office and knocked.

"Come in," said a voice from within.

Harry pushed the door open and entered. The office was small and didn't have much furniture, only a small desk and a filing cabinet and a couple of plain straight back wood chairs. The walls were covered by various awards and certificates showing that Roger Green was certified to teach the martial arts of Aikido and Taekwondo. Also, various pictures of a man receiving his various belts were framed and hung on the walls.

The same man was sitting behind the desk and looked up at Harry with a smile. He was in his late thirties to early forties and was in prime condition. He wasn't overly muscular but was whipcord lean and toned and there wasn't a hint of flab on his body. His hair was still black with a few tints of grey showing here and there. He had a very roughly chiseled face and a trim French beard. His eyes were a dark navy blue so that they almost looked black in the dim light coming from the small window.

"Hello, I'm Roger Greene," the man said rising up and extending his hand.

Harry grasped the hand and shook it. "Harry Potter," he said.

"Please have a seat, Harry," Roger said, smiling.

Harry sat down and took a deep breath. When he looked up, he saw Roger examining him with a strange look. When he saw Harry looking at him, a shutter fell across his face and he looked back at him with a perfectly neutral expression. Harry was unnerved by it but he didn't show it.

"So, Harry, why do you want to learn martial arts?" Roger asked.

"Well, isn't it obvious?" Harry asked, surprised.

Roger was silent for a minute, observing him, before he replied. "Harry, remember one thing, never think of anything as being obvious. Always leave a little room for doubt, because doubt in turn leaves room for precautions. Jumping to conclusions is the very worst habit to have."

Harry suddenly realized how right Roger was. If he had left a little room for doubt and taken more precautions, Sirius may well have been alive. He remembered Hermione's warning that it might have been a trap, and pain and regret flashed across his face.

"Thank you, I will remember that. It is sound advice," Harry said softly. "As to your question, I want to learn martial arts so I can defend myself."

"Harry, what school do you go to?" Roger asked suddenly.

Harry hesitated, wondering how to reply.

Roger took his hesitation for something else and softly asked. "Is it true then, that you attend St Brutus', Harry?"

Harry gaped at him, his jaw falling down a good three inches with shock. He got over this very quickly though and cold anger replaced the shock.

"Mr. Greene, by your expression I can tell that you have made up your mind about me and yet you were the one who told me a minute ago to always leave a little room for doubt. As to your question, I do not attend St. Brutus' and never have. That rumor was started by my Aunt and Uncle who hate me. I have no other relatives except them, as my parents died when I was a year old. They had to take me in and they have always resented me for it. If you do not still believe me you can take a good look at my clothes and me. Also, if you have ever had the pleasure of meeting my cousin you will be very certain that he is the person belonging in St. Brutus', not me."

Harry took a deep breath and composed himself, thinking of how to frame his next few words.

"Now, as to what school I attend... I...I cannot tell you that. I have my reasons that I cannot possibly share with you, even if I wanted to. If this makes you hesitant to teach me, then so be it."

Roger stared back at Harry for a moment and then nodded. "Ok, Harry, I respect that. Please forgive my behavior. I have to make sure who I teach, as martial arts can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. I cannot teach everybody who wants to learn. Some people simply want to learn because they want to take revenge or because it will make them stronger than the average person. "

"I understand," Harry said wearily. "It was a simple misunderstanding. By now I'm used to it, really. Look, I just want to learn to help defend myself and get myself in some sort of shape, alright?"

"May I ask you a question, Harry?"

Harry nodded. "Of course you may. I may not be able to answer all your questions, but those I can, I will. I could lie about those things that I don't want to talk about, but I would prefer that we were just honest with each other."

"Why do you want to learn to defend yourself? I see from your expression that you are very determined. Also, I can see great anger within you. Why does a teenager like you possibly want to learn martial arts? I hope it is not to use on your family, as you have made it quite clear that you don't care for them very much."

Harry looked at him for a moment and shook his head. "No, I don't want to harm my relatives."

Roger noticed that Harry used the term 'Relatives' and not 'Family'.

"I suppose I have reason to want to hurt them, but that would make me just like them. Besides, there are quicker and easier ways to do it than learning Martial arts. I know what sort of responsibilities come with power, and also how corrupting it can be. I know better than anyone how misused power can destroy people's lives and I don't think I want to ever go down that road. I simply want to learn to protect myself and those that I love."

Roger looked at Harry carefully, wondering how a fifteen year old boy learnt to talk like that. Wondering what the eyes had seen to appear so knowing.

"Ok, Harry," he finally replied. "Now lets move on to what you want to learn. Aikido or Taekwondo?"

"Err... I don't really know anything about either form of fighting," Harry replied truthfully.

"Ok, fair enough. Aikido is a form of martial arts that uses the force of your opponent's body to defeat him. It basically is a more no-contact form of self defense, though it is very effective. To master Aikido you need to have copious amounts of will power, concentration, balance and speed."

He paused and looked at Harry. "In fact, I would say that it would be perfect for you. You are light, probably fast, and you seem quite the determined young lad."

Harry smiled. "Thank you."

"Taekwondo, on the other hand, is completely opposite. It is sheer physical force and an offensive kind of martial arts. It will teach you the correct way to defend yourself by causing harm to your opponent," Roger continued.

Harry thought for a moment and pondered. Both of them had their pros and cons and Harry was tempted by both.

"Is it possible..." Harry hesitated.

"Yes?" Roger asked curiously.

"Is it possible to learn them both at once?" Harry asked quickly.

Roger stared at him and was silent for a while as he thought. Finally he replied, "Everything is possible, Harry, but I would not advise it. To do both you would need to put in a lot of time and it will take a tremendous amount of effort. You will have to learn the rules of two totally different sciences at once and you will be most probably confused and mix up the rules of them both, which is never the best idea."

Harry nodded. "I would still like to try. I will, on my part, do whatever you ask of me and try as hard as possible."

Roger nodded. "Alright, Harry. But do it this way: start off with learning Aikido, and after a couple of weeks we will start you off with Taekwondo if you are doing well. That way there will be less chance of confusion and you will realize the effort needed."

Harry nodded and smiled.

"Ok, now to another thing. Learning Aikido and Taekwondo is very stressful physically and you need to have enough strength and stamina or else you will collapse. You will need to eat more. Right now you are very frail. Secondly, you need your rest and sleep to have a fresh mind. Only then can you learn. By the dark circles under your eyes, I see that you don't sleep much."

Harry sighed. "Believe me, I try. But I have nightmares that just do not allow me to sleep. Nothing works, absolutely nothing!" Harry exclaimed frustratedly.

Roger looked thoughtful. "You may try one thing. Every night before you go to bed try and clear your mind."

Harry groaned and thought about all the times he had tried that during last year when Snape was teaching him Occlumency. "I have tried that," Harry said finally. "It doesn't work. I have a lot on my mind so it's not that easy to just clear it."

"Hmm..." Roger said. "Try one thing. Sit down on your bed and concentrate on a single object in front of you. Tune everything out but that object. For the fifteen minutes that you do this exercise, nothing else exists except that object. You will be able to do this exercise without looking at the object after a few weeks."

Harry nodded. "Thank you. You cannot imagine how grateful I am for your help and advice."

"Don't mention it Harry. Since you have come to learn from me, your well-being is now my responsibility. Ok, now we just have to fill in a couple of forms and you'll be all set."

Harry walked out from the building twenty minutes later and there was a bounce in his step. Things were finally looking up. He was finally doing something.



~~~*~



Harry sat at his desk a couple of hours later, writing a letter to Dumbledore. Several pieces of crumpled parchment were lying around him as evidence of his frustration at not getting the letter right. He was too emotional and he sounded as if he was raving in the letters, which was not an impression he wanted to make when he wanted someone of Dumbledore's caliber to trust him and listen to him.

Finally he got it right, or in other words, as close to right as he could manage. He knew he could do no better and he silently read his final attempt.


Professor Dumbledore,

First, let me say how sorry I am at my inexcusable behavior in your office that day. I had no right to say some of the things I said and destroy your possessions like that. I did a terrible thing that day that I am not proud of - which is blaming you for Sirius' death. You have always told us not to take the easy way out. I am sorry to say that I did exactly that. By blaming you I could throw the fault on your shoulders and ease my conscience. But I know now and maybe even then, in my heart of hearts, that I, and only I, am to blame for Sirius' death.

While I do not blame you for Sirius dying, I do blame you for the way you treated him. You allowed him to rot in that house of his and made him feel useless. That fact was driven in time and again when Snape told him that he sat at home while the others took all the risk. I blame you for killing Sirius' spirit.

I also do not apologize for you keeping me in the dark the entire year. You kept such a big thing hidden from me all my life. You knew what I had to face and yet you never prepared me. Thinking about it now, it is almost laughable when I realize that when I faced Voldemort for the first time in my fourth year I only knew the disarming curse. You could have trained me. You always knew he was coming back. How could you have let me be in a position like that?

With Sirius' death I am again left totally alone. It seems that all those unfortunate enough to be related to me or those who make the mistake to care for me are fated to die. I think this is hardly going to stop now that Voldemort is back.

So far in my life I have very little control over anything. Everything was either decided for me by others or by my circumstances. I refuse to live like this any longer.

Your attitude of last year really hurt me. You didn't even speak to me most of the time. It was as if you just didn't care. I thought you had finally realized that I was more trouble than I was worth and you had decided to wash your hands off me. For a moment I even believed that you blamed me for the return of Voldemort.

I suppose this is enough of dwelling on the past. It's a waste of time anyway. It's not like any of it can ever be changed. I'll just get to what I really need to say.

Professor, I need to be better prepared. Better trained. I need to be able to protect myself and my friends. I cannot bear to think of another person dying because of me.

I want you to try and get me somebody to teach me Occlumency and advanced defensive and offensive magic. I also will need a lift of the ban on using magic during this summer. If for this you have to twist Fudges arm to the point of breaking it, do it.

I also want to go to Diagon alley and London for a bit of shopping for the summer. If you could arrange somebody to escort me I would be very grateful. If not, I'll just go alone anyway.


Best regards,

Harry Potter.




He finished reading the letter and called Hedwig over to him. She hooted happily, glad to be able to make another delivery. She had been cooped up in the room far too long for her liking.

Harry quickly tied the letter to Hedwig's extended leg and, stroking her feathers lovingly, said, "Can you take that to Dumbledore, girl? Be as quick as you can."

Hedwig hooted and immediately flew off into the night.

Harry watched until she was no longer visible then he settled back and began his meditation exercise. Harry was amazed at how efficient Roger's method was. He found it quite simple to concentrate like that. He had chosen his doorknob as the object to concentrate on and he was able to push the distractions away with a little effort. Harry had cleared his mind. He wondered why that git Snape didn't teach him something like this.

Harry finished his meditation and soon drifted off to sleep.



~~~*~



Dumbledore sat in his office reading some papers and he had a troubled look on his face. Things were not going well. Voldemort's recruiting was on the rise and he was rapidly building his ranks again. Fudge had refused to take the Dementors off Azkaban and Dumbledore knew that it was only a matter of time before Voldemort broke into Azkaban and rescued his Inner Circle.

He sighed. Fudge was being increasingly stubborn. Ever since the announcement was made in the Daily Prophet that Voldemort had returned, he was more concerned about rebuilding his image rather than re-enforcing his numbers and taking the correct precautions.

Dumbledore knew that it could not go on like this. It was a distasteful job, but Fudge had to be removed. The Wizengamot had been called for an urgent meeting tomorrow to address the issue. Dumbledore knew that the meeting had to be called in secret as Fudge would otherwise create huge problems.

He also knew that the meeting tomorrow was vital and he had to move all his pieces in place and be absolutely ready.

He looked up as he saw a white owl fly in through the window and smiled.

"Hello, Hedwig," Dumbledore said with a small smile as he stroked her feathers. He deftly removed the letter from her leg and looked down into her eyes.

"Thank you. Do you need an answer to this?"

Hedwig hooted in the negative. And after a few seconds where she stopped to have a gulp of water, she flew off into the night.

Dumbledore opened the letter quickly, curious as to why Harry had written to him. He had planned to write to Harry himself. He had to discuss many plans that he had for the summer with him.

He began to read the letter and as he read, his face sagged. He finished the letter and found that tears had filled his eyes and he wiped them away gruffly.

Fawkes chirped in concern from his perch, disturbed to find his master so sad. He was still weak, as it had just been a couple of days since he had swallowed the killing curse to save his master. He was still featherless but he had grown a bit since then.

Dumbledore looked up at Fawkes, his face sagging with regret and fatigue.

"My mistakes are coming back to haunt me, old friend," Dumbledore said softly. "I have failed him in so many ways that I am afraid that I might have lost his trust for good."

Fawkes sang softly to Dumbledore, trying to cheer him up, but tonight even his song couldn't help his companion very much.



~~~*~



Cornelius Fudge walked towards Courtroom nine angrily. He was part outraged and part scared. He wondered why Dumbledore had called the meeting without informing him. The reasons he eventually came up with left him with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. He knew that he would have to fight and he intended to. He realized that his best chance would be to go in and get the meeting dismissed immediately, claiming it illegal since he, as the Minister of Magic, had not been informed of it.

He pushed the door open, strode into the room and looked around at the packed auditorium. His eyes traveled over the members of the Wizengamot and the other attendees and his mind quickly went over who would and would not support him and how he could get this over quickly and painlessly, for himself, that is. Fudge was a born politician and he was confident of his ability to win here today.

His eyes finally reached to where Dumbledore was seated and they hardened.

"What is the meaning of this, Dumbledore? How dare you call a meeting without informing me? I am the Minister for Magic and I could have you arrested for treason against the Ministry," Fudge said angrily.

"Sit down, Cornelius," Dumbledore said quietly.

"No, I will not sit down, Dumbledore. Now you listen to me..." Whatever he was about to say was cut off abruptly as Dumbledore stiffened with anger.

"SIT DOWN, CORNELIUS," Dumbledore said angrily, his voice rising in pitch.

Fudge stepped back, seeing the expression on Dumbledore's face. His eyes were cold chips of ice and it was the first time he had seen Dumbledore so angry. It was also the first time he had ever heard Dumbledore speak in such a tone. His whole body was alight with a powerful aura as the magic literally radiated from him.

Fudge gulped and hurriedly took his seat.

"I have called this meeting because we have to urgently discuss what we have to do to protect this country from Voldemort, because I think that we are not doing nearly enough to prepare ourselves against him. I have called this meeting because I think that we have had enough precious time wasted because of your incompetence. And I have also called this meeting because I believe that you are not the right man to lead this country," Dumbledore bit out, his anger fading slowly, to be replaced by disappointment.

"B-b-but you have no authority to do this. Y-y-you cannot do this," Cornelius squeaked, looking around desperately for someone to back him up. He found no one, as nobody was willing to try Dumbledore's patience when he was in this mood.

"You are wrong, Cornelius. There is a precedent to have a leader of the country removed from his post if his actions are damaging to the country," Dumbledore said softly.

"B-but that's p-preposterous," Fudge stammered.

"It is the law, Cornelius. Now you will have your say, but this meeting will go on," Dumbledore said sternly.

Fudge thought furiously about his situation. Things were worse than he thought, but he still had a chance. A lot of the members of the Wizengamot were his supporters, and it was a good chance that he would walk out of this unharmed. Then he would have that pesky old man thrown in jail once and for all.

"Let's begin," Dumbledore said. "First, I want to address the actions of one Dolores Jane Umbridge who you made Hogwarts High Inquisitor last year and later, Headmistress."

"I don't see what that has to do with me, Dumbledore. Or my capability as Minister," Fudge said testily.

"You hired her for the position and since the authority she had at Hogwarts was your doing, it is your responsibility," Dumbledore said coldly.

Fudge gulped.

"Let the trial of Dolores Jane Umbridge commence then," Madam Bones announced.

The doors opened and Dolores Umbridge was brought in, escorted by two Aurors. She had been released from St. Mungo's barely a week ago and was looking around, scared. Her round face had gone an ugly shade of purple. "Minister, what is the meaning of this?" she squeaked in her high girly voice.

Fudge looked at her reassuringly. "Don't worry, Dolores, let us see what cock-and-bull story Dumbledore has come up with this time," Fudge sneered. Umbridge looked a little less panicked as she quickly ran over what Dumbledore could possibly prove against her in her mind.

She was lead to the chair and was sworn in. "Dolores Jane Umbridge, you have been charged with using a blood quill for detentions on students in Hogwarts, threatening to use the Cruciatus curse on Harry Potter, and sending Dementors to attack him during the summer vacations. These are very serious charges. How do you plead?" Madam Bones asked sternly.

"It's all untrue. Lies by that attention seeking Potter boy and those looking to discredit me," Umbridge shrieked.

"We shall see. Arthur, begin your questioning," Madam Bones said, nodding at Mr. Weasley.

Arthur Weasley got up and walked to the centre of the room and turned to look at the jury. "I call to the stand, Hermione Jane Granger," Arthur announced in his magnified voice.

The doors opened and a nervous looking Hermione walked in the room and took the stand. Arthur quickly swore her in and began.

"Miss Granger, is it true that Dolores Umbridge was about to use the Cruciatus curse on Harry Potter?"

"Yes, it is true. We were captured by the members of Umbridge's Inquisitional Squad while we were trying to use the floo in her office," Hermione said calmly and clearly, showing none of the nervousness that she felt. She knew that she needed to come across as confident if her testimony were to hold any value.

"What happened then, Miss Granger?" Arthur asked.

"Well, she asked Harry who he was trying to contact, she believed it to be Professor Dumbledore. He refused to tell her anything. She then sent Draco Malfoy to fetch Professor Snape."

"And what happened when Professor Snape arrived?" Mr. Weasley asked. He could feel that Hermione was nervous and he maintained eye contact with her and gently led her through her answers.

"Professor Snape came and Umbridge asked him for a bottle of Veritaserum to use to interrogate Harry," Hermione went on.

There were loud gasps at this. It was illegal to use Veritaserum to interrogate suspects without Ministry approval, let alone students at Hogwarts!

"Professor Snape told her that he had given her a bottle earlier to interrogate Harry with, and he didn't have any more. He then said that three drops should have been enough to question Harry with and she should have plenty left over." At this she gave Umbridge a look of deep loathing.

"Go on, Miss Granger," Arthur said encouragingly.

"Well, she then sent Professor Snape away. After he left, she turned to Harry and threatened to use the Cruciatus curse on him if he didn't tell him what she wanted to know. Harry refused her point blank. I told her that it was wrong of her to use the curse, especially for a person in her position, but she ignored me," Hermione stopped at this point and shuddered. She looked up and saw Mr. Weasley give her an encouraging look. She took a deep breath and went on.

"I... I saw that she was about to use it and I again pleaded with her to stop as it was illegal to use it on anybody. She ignored me. At this point I had no choice but to make up a story to stop her. I told her that we had been trying to contact Professor Dumbledore to inform him about 'the weapon' being ready and she immediately wanted to see this weapon. We managed to fool her into following us into the Forbidden Forest. In the forest we met the Centaurs, who were already upset with Firenze, our Professor for Divination, for joining the Hogwarts staff, and I had seen them react violently to Hagrid too. Umbridge insulted them and they attacked her and we managed to escape."

"So you purposely led her into the Forbidden Forest knowing that it was dangerous?" Fudge sneered.

"What would you have had me do, Minister? Allow her to use the Cruciatus curse on a student?" Hermione asked scathingly.

"Miss Granger, I believe she only threatened to use it. She didn't actually use it. Now, you, on the other hand, led her into the forest so that she would be attacked and possibly killed," Fudge said coldly.

"Actually I didn't do anything. She was the one who called the centaurs 'mindless beasts'," Hermione said in a self satisfied tone. "If she wants to insult somebody then she alone is responsible for the consequences."

Fudge glared at her.

"Thank you, Miss Granger. Now what can you tell us about Harry's detentions with Dolores Umbridge?" Arthur said, giving her a small grin.

"Well, Harry was given detention because he argued with her that V-Vo-Voldemort was back," she said struggling to say the Dark Lords name. "Harry did numerous detentions with her for this reason. At first, he never told us what she made him do. Then one day our friend Ron... Ronald Weasley," she said looking at the jury to explain. "Well, Ron saw Harry's exposed hand. It was horrible. His hand was cut open and 'I will not tell lies' was engraved into it. We found that she was using a blood quill to make Harry write lines," Hermione said disgustedly.

There was a flood of murmuring throughout the room at this, and Fudge knew that he had to act soon to try and salvage the situation.

"All of this is a very good tale, Miss Granger, but what I want to know is the location of the weapon that Dumbledore was developing to use against the Ministry," Fudge said quickly, an eager gleam in his eyes.

Hermione looked at Fudge in contempt. "There was no weapon, Minister. I made it up to help us escape her clutches. I thought I had made that very clear."

There was a smattering of laughter at this and Fudge seethed in his seat.

"Please continue, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said with a small smile directed at her.

"Well, Harry's detentions continued and the problem got worse until Harry got a bad scar on his hand. 'I will not tell lies' is now permanently engraved on the back of his hand."

"Miss Granger, you said that this went on for quite a while. Why didn't Harry go to his Head of House or the Headmaster about this matter?" Arthur asked angrily.

"Well, he was scared," Hermione said hesitantly.

"Scared? Why was he scared?" Arthur asked, puzzled.

"Well, we all saw how those Educational Decrees were being issued. Harry was scared that if he went to Professor McGonagall, Umbridge would find a way to fire her. He felt that if he could prevent that by bearing a little pain he would gladly do a hundred detentions like that. He also made us promise not to tell anybody about it," Hermione said, tears flowing down from her eyes.

There was a wave of disgust at these words and Professor McGonagall, who was sitting in the stands, wiped away the hasty tears from her eyes and angrily glared at Umbridge.

Umbridge by now had got a highly terrified look on her face and she glanced at Fudge pleadingly. Fudge ignored her completely. He knew now, with a sickening certainty that if he were to save his skin he had to distance himself from her.

Arthur Weasley paused and took a deep breath before he asked. "Did Dolores Umbridge say anything else?"

Hermione nodded. "She admitted that it had been her that had sent the Dementors to attack Harry during the summer."

There was a cry of outrage as everybody remembered how Harry Potter had been charged for that incident.

"Minister," Umbridge squeaked in panic. "Minister, help me. This is all lies."

Fudge looked at her with emotionless eyes. "How could you do this, Dolores? I trusted you, and you betrayed my trust."

Umbridge looked at him in astonishment, her toady eyes popping out even more. "Y-you can't let me take the blame for this. If I'm going down, I'm taking you with me," she screamed at Fudge.

"Silence," Fudge thundered angrily. "I have nothing to do with you and I certainly am not going to help a criminal with anything. You have betrayed my trust and for that you shall pay."

"Very good, Cornelius. We will get back to how much you know and didn't know later on. For now let's get her trial over. Get on with it, Arthur," Dumbledore said wearily.

"I shall, at this point, ask Miss Granger to provide a memory of the events so that we may be able to see them in a Pensieve and decide upon its authenticity."

Hermione was quickly coached by Mr. Weasley about how to remove the relevant memories and soon a Pensieve was brimming with the memories she had given testimony about. Arthur tapped the Pensieve twice and the memories rose up like a mist and began playing for the Wizengamot to watch. By the end of fifteen minutes Hermione's testimony had been fully validated and almost everybody was shooting Umbridge disgusted looks.

That is all I have for this witness. But I wish to call the other witnesses who were present there that day to further confirm Miss Granger's story."

"Very well, Arthur. Call your witnesses. Miss Granger, you are excused and we thank you for your testimony," Madam Bones said.

Hermione nodded and after quickly bowing to the jury, exited the stand and unsteadily walked out of the courtroom. She had been scared stiff on the stand and didn't know how she had got through it. She was glad to get away.

Arthur Weasley then quickly called Professor Snape, who quickly confirmed Hermione's story and said that he had given Umbridge a vial of Veritaserum. She had wanted it to question Harry with. He mentioned that the bottle of Veritaserum was fake but the thought that Umbridge used it thinking that it was real was more than enough.

Mr. Weasley then quickly called Neville, Ron and Ginny, each of whom confirmed what Hermione had said was true. They each gave their memories to be viewed in the Pensieve and it all implicated Umbridge fully. The case against her was now nearly overwhelming. Lastly, he called Lee Jordan who further confirmed that he had served detention with Umbridge as well, and she had made him use the blood quill too.

"I have no more witnesses, nor do I think that there is any need for them. The case is quite clear," said Arthur Weasley turning to face the jury.

"Indeed, Arthur," Madam Bones said in a steely voice. She turned to Umbridge and eyed her coldly. "Your actions are beneath contempt, Miss. Umbridge. There are a lot of witnesses here who have confirmed some very disturbing charges. The fact that makes it all the more disturbing is that all this was happening to our children, who we send to Hogwarts thinking that they were absolutely safe. Your actions are absolutely unforgivable and I for one want to see you locked away for a long, long time."

Umbridge started to rise out of the chair, her eyes darting around as if looking for a way to escape. Before she could move anymore though, Dumbledore flicked his wand lightly and the manacles on her chair snapped up and chained her to the chair.

"Do you have anything more to say before we pass our judgment?" Madam Bones asked.

Umbridge looked at the floor unable to face the jury and shook her head. The manacles had been the last straw and had totally cowed her.

"All right, all those in favor of the guilty verdict," Madam Bones announced.

There wasn't a single person that didn't raise their hands. Even Fudge quickly raised his hand after he saw that the verdict was going to be guilty. The members of the Wizengamot noticed his hesitation, though.

The judges had a quick conversation and Madam Bones banged the gavel to ensure quiet. "The votes are counted and are unanimous. Miss Umbridge, you are charged with the attempted murder of Harry James Potter and trying to use an Unforgivable curse against him. Also you are charged with using Dark magic to abuse Hogwarts students and illegally trying to obtain and use Veritaserum to interrogate Harry James Potter, going to the extent of using a dosage that could have proved lethal to him. The fact that the Veritaserum was fake does not matter as you used it thinking it was real. For this we sentence you to ten years in Azkaban. Take her away."

The Aurors dragged a whimpering Umbridge out of the courtroom.

Dumbledore waved his hands for quiet and said, "Cornelius, this is just one instance of how your actions have caused harm the past year."

"B-but I had nothing to do with it. I had no idea of her actions," Fudge said, turning around and looking at the audience pleadingly.

"But it was your decision to send her to Hogwarts. In fact, you created a new law so that you could be able to post her at Hogwarts. That means that it was your responsibility."

"But surely I cannot be held responsible for her actions, Dumbledore. Why it's like saying that you are responsible for the action of every teacher at Hogwarts," Fudge protested.

"Ah! But posting her there was not all you did, Cornelius. You allowed her to pass various decrees that seriously harmed the students, and those decrees had your signature on them."

"Decrees? Seriously harmed students?" What are you going on about, Dumbledore?" Fudge said nervously.

"You had the entire defense curriculum changed, Cornelius," Dumbledore said in a steely voice. "Your reason being that children do not need to learn how to defend themselves. Well, now those very same children are in the middle of a war and they have wasted an entire year where they could have been learning to defend themselves. Not only that but when Harry Potter started a defense club to teach some defense to those who wanted to learn, a decree was passed banning all clubs. You gave Dolores Umbridge total authority and made anyone helpless to stop her. That is your fault."

Fudge looked panicked. "What rubbish, Dumbledore. The children are in no danger at all. Why would they need to learn to defend themselves? Aurors are there for a reason, after all."

"Because Voldemort will not give the Aurors an address and time telling them when or where he is going to attack. And you and I both know that Voldemort is hardly going to leave the children alive when he attacks somebody," Dumbledore retorted frostily.

"But even if You-Know-Who were to attack, the children would hardly be able to defend themselves against him from what they learnt in a Defense against the Dark Arts classroom," Fudge said, trying to reason with Dumbledore.

"No, but it would have given them a better chance," Dumbledore thundered. "And as for your Aurors, they seem to attack innocent people instead of the Death Eaters. I believe that four of them attacked my Deputy Headmistress and my Care of Magical Creatures teacher."

Fudge goggled. "W-what? H-how? When?"

Dumbledore looked at Fudge with distaste. "If you cannot even keep track of what your employees do, how can you hope to run the Ministry?" Dumbledore said in a tone that dripped poison.

"But, Dumbledore, that is very unfair of you. If people are working behind my back I can hardly do anything about it. All I can say is that I will look into these allegations and I assure you that the people responsible will not go unpunished."

"Oh, the people responsible will not go unpunished. But I'm not done here, Cornelius. I also wish to bring to your notice the hearing of Harry Potter last year. Why is it that a simple underage magic hearing was held on the scale it was?"

Fudge looked very uncomfortable and didn't answer.

"Also, you engineered a campaign against Harry Potter, printing that he was deluded and insane."

"That is a lie," Fudge shouted. "And can you seriously hold me responsible for not believing him? I mean the boy has got a pretty dodgy past few years in Hogwarts and all sorts of rumors were going around about him. Yes, he was right about You-Know-Who coming back, but you can't really blame me for not believing him. And I could hardly allow him to start a nationwide panic."

"First of all, be extremely careful when you talk about Harry Potter, Cornelius. He has done more for us then you can possibly imagine. You and everybody in the country should be eternally grateful to him," Dumbledore said in a dangerous tone.

"He not only stopped Voldemort when he was barely a year old, giving us nearly fourteen years of peace, but during his first two years at Hogwarts he defeated Voldemort twice more. His first year, as an eleven year old, he saved the Philosopher's Stone from falling into Voldemort's hands. The very next year, as a twelve year old, he slew a fifty foot Basilisk that Voldemort had released on the school. If it were not for him, Hogwarts would have shut down long ago and Voldemort would have been invincible. So I will not have you speak ill of him."

There were loud gasps as Dumbledore said these words, as almost nobody knew of these happenings. There had been rumors but they were so unbelievable that no one had set much store by them.

"Are these things really true then, Albus?" Madam Marchbanks asked curiously.

"True enough, Griselda," Dumbledore replied. "Apparently, the rumor that Salazar Slytherin had created the Chamber of Secrets and enclosed a monster inside was true. The monster in question was a fifty foot Basilisk. Harry slew the Basilisk all alone and if there were any doubts of whether he is a dark wizard or not, you should know that he withdrew the sword that he used to kill the Basilisk from the Sorting Hat, and the sword in question belonged to Godric Gryffindor," Dumbledore said proudly.

The room was filled with awed whispers and talk at this comment as people discussed this amazing feat and what it meant.

"What rubbish! A fifty foot Basilisk and Gryffindor's sword. That is the most incredible tale I have ever heard," Fudge said with a nasty chuckle.

"I'm glad you find it so amusing, Cornelius, but if you like I can show you the sword. It is still in my office and still has some blood from the Basilisk on it. Also, I can personally take you into the Chamber and you can see for yourself the corpse of the Basilisk," Dumbledore said sarcastically.

"It seems like we owe more to Harry Potter than we even realized," Madam Bones said.

"Indeed, Amelia. And as to whether you engineered all the newspaper articles of last year, I have a few journalists who are ready to testify to it. Shall I call them in, Cornelius?"

Fudge hung his head and did not reply.

"And lastly, Cornelius, the matter of the Dementors at Azkaban..." Dumbledore began.

"Oh honestly, Dumbledore, the Dementors are the best possible guards for Azkaban. Azkaban is entirely safe," Fudge burst out.

"Really, Cornelius?" Dumbledore said angrily. "Well, you should be pleased to know that I received word just an hour ago that Voldemort broke into Azkaban late last night and the Dementors have joined him. All Voldemort's followers, in fact his entire Inner circle, have been broken out."

Fudge looked dumb-struck as there was a loud burst of angry voices all around him. It didn't take long after that. The Wizengamot voted Fudge out of Office by a staggering majority.

Arthur Weasley put forward Amelia Bones name for the new Minister of Magic and it was heartily seconded. Ten minutes later, Amelia Bones was sworn in as the new Minister of Magic of Great Britain and as her first action Arthur Weasley was promoted to Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.


~~~*~
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