A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, death comes to Slyther...
"As I was saying," Lloyd Trowbridge continued after Neville came down and was brought up to speed, "one of the groups had four aurors, including Henry Dorff and Tobias Jones. There were also four intelligence officers, two from our side and two from the Order. Tabby and Tom were ours. The Order's were Alice Longbottom and Lily Potter." That caught everyone's attention.
"Alice was never really happy, because she was an auror and wanted to be out in the field with Frank. Still, when we arrived, they were both starting their eighth month of pregnancy. Neville here was due in late July, and Harry here in early August. As it was, Alice was a few days late and Lily a few days early. Poppy delivered both of you at the house in Whinging. . . ."
"Where?" Harry demanded.
"A little Surrey town called Whinging. You know it?"
"The Dursleys . . . my mother's sister, that is, live in Little Whinging."
"Right, that modern snooty sub-division across the canal."
"Let me guess," Harry said, "the haunted house near the Methodist chapel?"
"Right you are! Now we didn't see much of either of your fathers, they were both active in the field. The Muggles never knew anyone except Tabby and Tom were staying there, by the way."
For the next two hours, Lloyd kept the students entertained with stories of the First War which did not involve Tabitha, Henry, Tom, or Tobias too directly, and stories of growing up in a Confederation wizarding village and life in New Orleans.
After that, Neville, Harry, and Ron gave the girls their presents. The two girls loved their lockets, and predicted Luna would enjoy hers as well. Ginny also liked her birthday presents.
Finally, though, Harry backtracked. "Mister Trowbridge, what went wrong after Easter, 1981?"
Lloyd gave a sigh. "That's when the Death Eaters started taking their own back. By July, we knew there was a leak somewhere. Then the sersiants were attacked, with only three survivors, plus myself, and we were pretty well injured. By September, Dumbledore was insisting that James take you and Lily into hiding. Don't ask me why."
Hermione noticed that Harry obviously knew why, and wasn't saying.
"They went into hiding, and for a few weeks I was supplying them with food as well. Then Dumbledore had me supply them food for six months, in preparation for the Fidelius. He wanted the three of you to hide away for a while, not just hide the house. It was cast in early October. I guess Voldemort waited for Halloween to make some sort of perverse statement."
They sat in silence for a few minutes. At that point, McGonagall came in and said that Lloyd and Harry were wanted.
It had taken Tom Lawrence less time to reach his objectives than Lloyd and Harry, in part because Dumbledore, Jones, and Snape were standing in the corridor, talking. It took less than two minutes to explain the potential problem. Dumbledore looked concerned, Jones interested, and Snape doubtful.
"You think we should act in a way which will disturb my House, upset the students, and possibly sow the very dissent you hope to stop, all because Weasley's hormones are too active and Potter was affected by them?" Snape demanded. "Maybe, just maybe, if either had made some sort of real prediction. . . ."
"Is it worth the risk in case his feelings are pointing to a problem? and you must admit this is a very likely scenario," Lawrence pointed out.
"Well, one possible scenario," Snape admitted reluctantly. He sighed. "Very well, come along." The other three followed Snape and Dumbledore towards the Slytherin common room in the dungeons.
Just before they arrived at the entrance, Snape and Dumbledore stiffened in pain. "What is it?" Jones demanded.
"Someone has cast a major curse," Dumbledore said. "Only the headmaster and heads of Houses can feel the wards . . . scream. From the intensity, it must have been several Unforgivables or a major battle that only lasted a few seconds, or both."
"Shit," Lawrence muttered.
"It is still going on," Dumbledore stated, anxiety in his voice.
Snape had opened the entrance, so they hustled through the common room. There was screaming and the sound of hexes ahead of them as they turned into the boys' dorm area. They heard a screaming voice shout out "AVADA KEDAVRA!", followed by more screams and hexes.
It took the four men some time to sort out the casualties. Lawrence had sent a firecall out to some of the other faculty as soon as he was sure the fighting had stopped. Spellman, Sinistra, Hooch, and Vector showed up quickly thereafter, along with Madam Pomfrey.
A little before midnight, Harry sat in on a meeting with the heads of Houses, Spellman, Jones, Lawrence, Trowbridge, Dorff, and Myrddin in the Headmaster's office.
"Why is he here?" Snape demanded as Harry and Lloyd came in.
"Because I sent for him," Myrddin answered.
"That does not answer my question! It's improper for a student to be here!"
"You must be . . . joking!"
"Do I look like I'm joking, Mister Snape?"
"No," Snape had to admit, "you don't."
"I may want input from all of you. Tobias?"
"As best we can reconstruct what happened, Adrian Pucey, Miles Bletchley, and St. John Montague returned to their rooms after the feast. There were only five Seventh year Slytherins because two of the prospective seventh years did not return this year. The remaining two, Terence Higgs and Graham Pritchard, came in after the first three. At that point, two of the three sent the Death Curse at Higgs and Pritchard. The other boys in their rooms heard, of course." The Death Curse can not of course be cast quietly.
Dumbledore took up the story. "John Pritchard, the Fifth year security prefect, set off the alarms, but by then we were already at the entrance to the common area. A general melee was going on as we approached. Two other students decided to take the side of the attacking trio -- Vincent Crabbe, a Sixth year, and Jason Babcock, a Fifth year. We had thought both Crabbe and Babcock had moved away from their pro-Death Eater stance to the slightly less radical position of Mister Malfoy."
Snape interrupted the Headmaster. "Crabbe always did as he was told, but may have just been caught up in the excitement. I'm sure the subtleties of the differences between the trio and Malfoy were too complicated for him to understand. Babcock is a very cruel young man, and likely just saw the chance to cause pain."
"Possibly," the Headmaster agreed. "In any event, three of the five attackers were stunned. Twelve other students were injured, six rather seriously. Mister Crabbe was killed. Pucey was splinched as he tried to take a portkey out. Apparently the new anti-portkey ward Professor Spellman created over the majority of the castle worked well."
"Thank you," she said. "Madam Pomfrey and I managed to put him back together again. He will be unconscious for a day or two, however."
"Were there any disturbances of any kind in the other Houses?" Myrddin asked. The three heads of the other Houses shook their heads. Myrddin turned to Snape and Jones. "Have you determined who killed Crabbe?"
"Draco Malfoy," Jones said, while Snape winced.
"Was he under a direct threat, an indirect threat, or did he kill to cover his own complicity?" Myrddin asked.
"Or because this Crabbe acted without orders?" Dorff added.
"There is no way to tell," Snape stated through clinched teeth. "And as he is underage, he may NOT be subjected to any truth potion."
"Does that suggest you believe him guilty of deliberate murder?" Dorff asked.
"No, it does not. It merely reminds you of what you may or may not do," Snape retorted.
"Then you are mistaken about my authority," Myrddin said. He turned to Tabitha. "What kinds of truth potions do you have readily available?"
"Now you wait right there!" Snape shouted, standing. Dorff easily made him sit back down.
"Councillor," Dumbledore stated, steel in his voice, "Professor Snape was correct. You may NOT use a truth potion on a minor!"
"No, Professor Snape was incorrect, as you are. We operate on the International's rules, rather than the normal British ones. We may not use any evidence obtained by a truth potion in court when used on a minor. We may use it to obtain the evidence of his guilt or innocence, and if guilty we may establish that guilty by other means."
"No," Dumbledore stated firmly.
"Yes," Myrddin stated, equally firmly.
"He has International practice on his side," Tabitha said after a few minutes of silent confrontation.
"Even if he confesses his guilt, we cannot touch him until it is proven by other methods," Dorff reminded Dumbledore.
"Ask him first," Harry said quietly.
"What?" Snape demanded.
"Ask Malfoy to take the potion voluntarily." He turned to Snape. "What's your objection, anyway? You. . . ." Harry stopped there for a moment. He decided not to reveal Snape had once threatened his with a truth potion. Snape had, after all, also substituted a placebo when Umbridge had wanted to use it on him. "I don't like Malfoy, but I don't think he would have been stupid enough or sadistic enough to kill Crabbe just because he could, or for the fun of it. And he wouldn't kill Crabbe to cover up that he was involved. Believe me, he would have been the first person to try and portkey out if he had been involved in planning this. He either killed Crabbe because he felt threatened, or because Crabbe joined in without orders. Probably both. That might give him some muddy motivation, but it wouldn't make him legally guilty, would it?"
"The first or third alternative? Considering his age, no, probably not," Myrddin agreed. "The second, yes, that would be murder."
"Very well," Dumbledore said. "Harry, please return to Gryffindor. Do not speak of this until after noon tomorrow, and even then only to your five friends. Understood?"
The non-Slytherin students were all called into the great hall early the next morning. They took the announcement of the attack with varying degrees of shock. A few even seemed more upset that the dance had been canceled for that night than they were over the attack.
"It's a good thing wizarding culture is different than Muggle," Hermione commented as they ate afterwards.
"Why? Or should I say how?" Ron asked, puzzled.
Hermione turned to Colin and Dean. "What would happen in a school if three students came in and shot some of their classmates and then a general gun battle erupted?"
"There would be inquiries for a start," Colin said.
"Inquiries?" Ron asked.
"Not just about why they had done it, but how they'd gotten the weapons, and how they had smuggled them in," Dean told the interested wizard-born students. "There'd be a chance the school officials or teachers or house masters would be dismissed. The scandal in the Press could be horrible."
"But here, let's face it -- we all carry lethal weapons," Hermione continued. "There hasn't been more than a twelve year period in Hogwarts' history where there hasn't been at least one student murdering another, and it's been almost twelve years since the last one."
"So you're saying we were due?" Ron asked.
"No, I'm just saying it's not terribly unusual. It's not like Dumbledore or even Snape will lose their job over this."
"Snape probably thought he could control things," Harry said.
"Did any of us ever think those three would commit outright murder on their fellow Slytherins?" Hermione demanded.
"No," Ron had to admit. "Against about anyone else, maybe, but not their own dorm mates."
"Well, it's not like they just snapped," Seamus pointed out.
"If it were, we'd have killed you and Weasley long ago for snoring," Dean pointed out.
That raised a weak collective giggle.
"Ten points from Gryffindor," Snape growled as he passed them. He had just brought most of his House in to eat breakfast. "For lack of respect."
"How about a thousand from Slytherin for murdering each other?" Seamus muttered.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY, POTTER?" Snape demanded. Silence descended on the hall.
"I didn't say anything, Professor," Harry said quietly.
Snape could tell that whoever had said it had been sitting someplace away from Harry Potter. Uncertain of his ground, Snape didn't dare do anything with the eyes of Potter's latest group of fans looking at him from the dais -- Dorff and Myrddin were not only still at the castle, both men had stood to observe what he was doing. "If I was certain who said that, I'd put you in detention for the rest of the year," he snarled, and then stalked off.
"You know he had ears like a bat," Ginny hissed up the table.
"Sorry," Seamus muttered.
"Where's Ferret-boy?" Ron wondered. It had not been announced that Malfoy had killed Crabbe.
"Probably doesn't want to face everyone," Harry said around a mouthful of crumpet.
"Harry, swallow first, then talk. I swear, you're almost as bad as Ron."
Harry and Ron rolled their eyes, but said nothing to Hermione. She waved Luna over and poured her some hot chocolate. Harry was always better behaved when Luna was there.
That morning, a little after 11:00, Harry was called into Professor Spellman's office. Henry Dorff was alone, sitting at her desk and writing out a report. "Come in Harry. Just for your personal information, Malfoy did it largely because he was terrified."
"Yes. This Crabbe was one of his followers, right?"
"Right. Him and Goyle, and Nott to some degree."
"In his mind, it was like having your private attack dog attacking without your command. He was afraid Crabbe was going to turn on him, and there was some evidence that it could have happened."
"So Crabbe wasn't attacking him?"
"No, not directly, but Crabbe had just attacked others and was turning on Malfoy. Would he attack, or by-pass Malfoy? Crabbe may not have used the Killing Curse, but Malfoy didn't know that for certain, and others certainly had."
"Malfoy should still have used a stunner, right?"
"Right. He's been removed to the Ministry for trial. Considering he was attacking partially in self-defense, and his age, we'll settle for probation for some kind, which is the most the Court will impose, since Fudge is arranging things."
"Fudge will want to give him a medal," Harry warned.
"He probably will, but he's already been removed from Hogwarts until his trial," Henry said. "It won't work. We can't have people casting Unforgivables at will. Rather takes some of the meaning of the phrase away."
Harry sighed. "I cast one."
Henry stopped writing, but didn't look up. Harry explained in detail what had happened.
Dorff sat in silence for a few moments and then finally set down his quill. "How do you feel about having done it, looking back?" he finally asked.
"I needed to hurt her," Harry said. "It was wrong, but I had to try. She had tortured my friends, she had killed Sirius. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have tried to cast it, but I still would have tried to hurt her badly."
"Has Tabby told you much about our time here, back in 1980 and 81?"
"No, sir. Mister Trowbridge told us a little, but both he and Professor Spellman have said they'll explain more over Christmas. Why are you trying to keep this a secret from me?"
"We're trying to keep it a secret from everyone who doesn't need to know, and we'll need to tell you when you have time to think about what we say. We will include you, Harry, I promise."
"Yes, sir." Harry was obviously unsatisfied.
"Tell me, Harry, have you ever seen a baby born?"
"No, sir," Harry answered, startled.
"I held you and Neville in my arms when you were each under an hour old. So did Tabby, Tom, Toby and Lloyd. We swore to protect you then. We -- Tabby, Tom, Tudor, Lloyd, and myself -- swore a stronger oath to protect you and Neville when you were sent into hiding. I hold your life as sacred and valuable as my own daughter's, Harry."
Harry was stunned.
Dorff went on. "When your parents were murdered, we all swore an oath to avenge you. We thought we had been forestalled, although not foresworn, when the Ministry caught up with Sirius Black before we did, although we now know he was the wrong target. Tudor and I fought political battles and pulled strings like you wouldn't believe to get this assignment. If the entire story comes out to the public, the Ministry will be forever discredited, there will be political upheavals all around the magical world, especially in the Confederation, and Dumbledore will be totally discredited and destroyed. We intend to tell you, because you and Neville have a right to know. Please, don't ask us yet."
"All right." Harry wasn't certainly why all those things would come to pass, but took Dorff's word for it.
"I shall make certain a pardon for all actions you undertook at the Battle at the Ministry is entered onto all your records. I think you should talk with someone about the feelings that made you strike out like that. It would be best if you could do so sooner and more often than I can. Consider talking with Remus or Tabby."
"If you need to hear someone say it, I forgive you, Harry. Come here." Dorff rang a small bell, and an elf Harry didn't know appeared.
"Please bring me a small bowel, a little extra virgin olive oil, and a cup of red wine."
"Yes, Mister Councillor, sir," the elf squeaked and disappeared.
"Take off your robe and shirt," Dorff commanded.
Mystified, Harry complied.
When the wine and oil appeared, Dorff poured a little of the oil into the bowl. He said a series of prayers and spells over both the oil and wine.
"Please get on your knees, Harry, and shut your eyes. Now tell me, do you regret trying to use that curse?"
"I do," Harry admitted. He had felt twinges of guilt ever since he had used it.
Dorff marked Harry's forehead, eyelids, lips, and over his heart. "Open your eyes and drink some of the wine."
As Harry did so, Dorff said another incantation, and then added in English, "You are relieved of all legal and residual guilt. Learn your lesson, and do not repeat the transgression in anger, hate, or ambition."
"I will do my best." To his surprise, Harry felt much better.
"And we will do our best for you, Harry Potter." Dorff looked at Harry. "Have you told anyone about the Prophecy?"
"Luna knows, but I never actually told her, and I gave Neville a general idea. I don't think he's told Ginny."
"Luna knows from the Dreamwalking?" Harry nodded. "It's easy to share with the one you love that way. You should tell the others. They know you're at the center. They deserve to know the details."
"Yes, sir. Maybe we can all tell our secrets at the same time."
"TouchÃ©," Dorff said with a smile. "We'll try and show up for your first Quidditch match."
"It will probably have to be canceled."
"Delayed a week or two, not canceled," Dorff said. "Cancel Quidditch? Merlin forbid."
"Did you play?"
"Tudor and I were both beaters, although not at the same time, of course. We'll enjoy seeing you play."
That afternoon, before anyone could even think about heading off to dinner, Harry had all the Gryffindors meet in the common room. "I know, many of us wanted to go to the dance tonight. Obviously, it is still canceled. The House tables are still going to be moved however. We'll be sitting in groups of twelve. Try and sit with people from other houses."
"Who are you going to be sitting with, Potter, other than Luna Lovegood?" Jack Sloper asked.
"Goyle and Bulstrode," he answered, which certainly surprised a lot of people. "Dumbledore will propose a toast to the slain Slytherins. Remember how we felt when certain Slytherins sneered at Cedric Diggory's death? Well, Higgs and Pritchard were no Cedric Diggory, but neither were they Death Eaters. They died because they were standing up to the Death Eaters. Let's show our respects."
That night, every student stood to show their respects.