Albus Dumbledore keeps a secret that may be the very downfall of the wizarding world. Will Voldemort learn of this secret, which Dumbledore values more than the prophecy? Or, will someone find ou...
Chapter 2: True Lies
“This court finds Sirius Black not guilty, and is absolved of all charges filed against him.” Sirius heaved a sigh of relief. Aurors removed the shackles from his arms and legs.
Later, at the Headmaster’s office in Hogwarts, Sirius, Remus, and Dumbledore were enjoying a quiet cup of tea. Sirius was glad the question of his loyalty had been laid to rest. Now, he only needed to convince the headmaster to give him Harry.
“Professor Dumbledore, thank you for your help,” Sirius gratefully said. “I think Crouch wants me imprison in Azkaban, even without a trial.”
Dumbledore simply nodded his head. “I only wish your trial has been arranged, sooner. Azkaban is no place for any wizard, innocent or guilty,” the headmaster said somberly. “As for Crouch, I am afraid he is very reluctant to embrace changes.”
“Well, I’m just glad, I’m out of Azkaban and Crouch’s clutches.” Sirius slowly replaced his cup on a side table. “Professor, there is another matter that I like to discuss. As you know, James and Lily made me Harry’s godfather. I must say I’m looking forward to it. Could you tell me where Harry is, so I can take him home?”
For a moment, the headmaster looked uncertain. He was undecided, whether to tell the two marauders the truth. His concern for the wizarding world won. The risk was just too great…the less people, who knew about the truth, the better. “Sirius, please, try to understand. You are a bachelor, and an Auror. Harry’s well-being would be better served with a loving couple.”
“I, too, have Harry’s well-being in mind, professor. He is my godson. I’ll do anything to care for him. All I’m asking is a chance to prove it,” Sirius argued reasonably. He couldn’t understand, why Dumbledore was denying him his right, as a godfather.
“Sirius, how is Harry going to fit in your life? How are you going to fit in Harry’s life? Are you going to resign from your job, and devote your whole life raising him? What about your own life? It is not an easy task to take care of a baby. What about the Death Eaters? You are well known among their ranks. Are you just going to keep on running and hiding, afraid of your own shadow? Is that the life you want for Harry?” Dumbledore looked beseechingly at Sirius, as he expressed his concerns. “Harry is with a loving family, who will give him love and stability. He will have a normal childhood, away from the vagaries of this world.”
“Professor, you know I love him, and can give him a normal childhood,” Sirius insisted firmly. “Remus and I can provide ample protection for Harry. We can easily hide, and never be found.”
“Remus will you be able to protect Harry?” Dumbledore asked unkindly. Remus’ expression hardened.
“That’s not fair, professor,” Sirius quickly objected, pissed off. “You know Remus will rather die to protect Harry. Don’t use his affliction against him.”
“Forgive me, Remus. It was not my intention to speak ill of your affliction. But, I am asking the two of you, to give the responsibility of raising baby Harry, to a very loving couple. I assure you… He will be loved and protected, as if he is with James and Lily.” Dumbledore tried his best to reason with the two marauders.
“If only it’s as simple as that, headmaster. James and Lily chose me as Harry’s godfather, because they know I love him. They believed I can take care of him, protect him.” Sirius stood up in frustration, and slowly moved closer to Dumbledore’s desk. “The care and safety of my godson are not subjects to debate. I demand you tell me where he is, now!”
The headmaster sadly looked at him. “I’m sorry, Sirius. I cannot. Perhaps someday, you will know the truth, and understand why.”
“I’m grateful for what you did for me, professor. I truly am. But, this is where I draw the line. Tell me where he is, right Now!” Sirius demanded angrily. Sirius and Dumbledore’s eyes clashed. Neither wizard looked away.
Remus quickly stood up, and lightly touched Sirius’ right shoulder. “Sirius, this is not the way. Anger will not solve anything.”
Sirius heatedly glared at the Headmaster, before speaking. “I will file my complaint with the Ministry. I know the content of James and Lily’ will. You have no right to take Harry away from me.”
The headmaster looked thoughtfully at the retreating backs of Sirius and Remus. “It will not be easy to hold Sirius and Remus at bay for long. If I know Sirius, he will conduct a secret investigation to find the whereabouts of Harry. I have to keep the both of them pre-occupied, or off-balance,” Dumbledore thought to himself. “Perhaps, it’s time to talk to Millicent, about posting a guard to the Longbottoms. After all, they may still be in danger from the Death Eaters. After that, he can be easily reassigned to other post, preferably abroad.”
Sirius’ formal complaint came to nothing. The Minister overturned the will, and sided with the Headmaster. Thus, the whereabouts of The-Boy-Who-Lived had become a mystery. Needless to say, the relationship, between Dumbledore and the two marauders, turned sour.
“Mrs. Oxley, you have a visitor,” her secretary promptly said, following her boss, as she crossed the room. “He’s waiting in your office.”
Mrs. Oxley, Editor-in-Chief of Witch Weekly, immediately stopped, and irately faced her secretary. “Did you, at least, ask his name? Or, what is his business with me?” she asked, frowning.
“He didn’t say. He just barged in here, and went straight to your office. He said you know him,” the secretary answered uncomfortably.
Both, the chief editor and her secretary, entered the office with a little trepidation. They saw a man in the office, looking out the window. He seemed oblivious to their presence. He only turned around, when the secretary cleared her throat. The unknown visitor was wearing a wizard’s equivalent of a business suit. He was about one hundred seventy two centimeters tall. He had a round face, brown eyes, and gray hair with receding hairline.
“Mrs. Belsa Oxley? My name is Agnus Barrister.” He cordially introduced himself, crossing the room with his right hand extended. The befuddled editor mechanically shook his hand. “I’m sorry for not making an appointment, or the deception. But, I have a very important business proposition, which I’m sure you won’t refuse.” The visitor confidently smiled at the two witches.
From that strange meeting, Witch Weekly acquired exclusive pictures, and stories about Harry Potter. Teenage witches (and wizards) would spend their hard earned gold to buy a copy of the magazine.
Here and there, year after year, a few wizards or witches would claim they saw Harry Potter, for a bit of spot in the limelight. Some even believed they were doing a public service, by pretending to know the Potters.
“I saw him! I saw him!” Max Blarney shouted, as he staggered to the bar of the Leaky Cauldron, breathless. “I saw him. I saw Harry Potter.”
Crowd immediately gathered around him, excited to hear his tale. There were so few, who claimed to have actually seen Harry Potter, that occasion like this, deserved a good retelling. “Here you are, mate. Your firewhiskey is on me. Now, tell us what you saw,” urged a gap-toothed wizard. “And, don’t you spare any detail, either.”
Blarney took his time savoring the taste of his drink. He believed it would help build the suspense, and drama. After a few moments, he put down his drink with flourish, and importantly faced his excited audience. He knew exactly what to tell them, because his contact told him, what he needed to say.
“Well, Monty, my good man, if you will kindly refill my glass, I can begin. You don’t want my throat to dry up, do you?” The gap-toothed Monty reluctantly refilled his glass. “Aahhh, thank you…” Blarney momentarily took a small sip, before putting down his drink again. “There I was, minding my own business, when I saw him… Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived. He was tall for an eight-year old boy. He looks just like his dad with his mum’s eyes...”
Everyone was excited for the sorting to begin. It was the year Harry Potter would come to Hogwarts. But, as soon as the sorting was finished, a voice asked aloud, “Where is Harry Potter?” Murmurs spread throughout the Great Hall. At the professor’s table, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore calmly stood up. All the students gave him their undivided attention.
“I know most of you are disappointed by the absence of Harry Potter…” the headmaster began somberly. “…So, do I. Unfortunately, his guardians have decided to teach him themselves. As much as I want to see Mr. Potter here at Hogwarts, it is not my place to contradict their decision. Who knows? His guardians may change their minds, and let Mr. Potter attend next year.”
It was not a prophetic statement. Harry Potter remained absent the following year. By this time, Dumbledore had set his eyes on another boy. His name was Neville Longbottom. The headmaster could feel great power in the boy. With proper guidance from Dumbledore, his parents, and grandmother, Neville developed a wholesome and confident personality.
Neville became the unspoken leader of Gryffindor House among his peers. He had proven himself, when he stopped Quirrel from getting the Sorcerer Stone. Whether it was luck or not, nobody cared. The important thing was the Sorcerer Stone didn’t fall into the hands of You-Know-Who. He was best friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The trio was, in later years, joined by Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood, and still later, by Susan Bones. He was enemy with Draco Malfoy, and his moronic Slytherin gang. Throughout Neville’s school years, Dumbledore’s subtle hand prodded him in the right direction.
“It’s a shame what happened at the Quidditch World Cup,” Seamus Finnegan said casually, lounging near the common room fireplace. “Those Death Eaters sure knew how to ruin a celebration.”
“Yeah, but I heard Harry Potter stopped them, though,” Colin Creevey eagerly replied. “I heard the Veelas were all over him, after he defeated those Death Eaters.”
“Colin, I doubt Harry Potter attended the World Cup,” Dean Thomas exasperatedly informed the young boy. “If he did, Fudge would have announced it, faster than you can say quidditch.”
“Yeah, the only Harry Potter there was Stan Shunpike,” Neville said chuckling. All the Gryffindors listening in laughed. “The Knight Bus conductor sure made a name for himself. He was caught impersonating The-Boy-Who-Lived to impress the Veelas.”
“Forget the World Cup. Who do you think will be Hogwarts’ Champion? My gold is on Cedric Diggory,” Ginny said excitedly.
Wizarding families have lived in fear of an attack, from You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters, for as long as this reporter can remember. Last October 31, 1981, Godric’s Hollow, a predominantly muggle village, celebrated Halloween without any knowledge of a tragedy, that caused the downfall of You-Know-Who.
It was a known fact, that the Potters were strong supporters of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts. Because of this, You-Know-Who personally led the attack against the Potter family. James and Lily Potter met their end in the hands of You-Know-Who himself. It was safe to assume baby Harry would die that night also. But for some strange reason, the Killing Curse meant to end baby Harry’s life, killed You-Know-Who instead.
Today, magical experts are still confounded how Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, survived. Experts believed that the Killing Curse…
Sirius angrily crumpled the Daily Prophet into a ball. He quickly stood up, and threw the paper into the fireplace. For a moment, he broodingly watched it burn. “Bloody hell! It’s been fifteen years, and they still won’t stop digging up the past,” he furiously exclaimed.
Remus just calmly watched Sirius vent his anger. He understood that his friend was just frustrated, from the lack of result in their search for Harry. They used every known tracking charm. They had followed every possible lead. They double-checked all sightings, and rumors. They spent hours, looking for clues in newspaper, and magazine articles. No stone was proverbially left unturned. But, no matter how hard he and Sirius tried, they just couldn’t get a break. He was starting to get an idea, what Tantalus felt.
“Calm down, Sirius,” Remus said, trying to pacify his friend. “You know well enough, they won’t stop publishing stories about Harry…” Remus’ expression momentarily turned grave. “…especially now, Voldemort is back. At least, this will give the people hope.”
“Yes, I understand all that.” Sirius regarded his friend in annoyance. “It’s just that I can’t help worrying about Harry. And now he’s back, they’ll be expecting Harry to defeat him, yet again. What can a fifteen year old do?” Sirius grumpily sat down again, and stared moodily at the sleeping headmasters and headmistresses’ portraits on the wall.
“Harry can probably do a lot, considering he defeated Voldemort when he was a baby,” Remus gamely answered the rhetorical question. He paused for a moment, unsure if he should remind his friend. “It’s going to be Harry’s 16th birthday in three weeks. Are you going to ask Dumbledore again?”
“You bet. I’m going to ask him, again and again, until his ears bleed,” Sirius replied gravely. With a frown creasing his brows, he briefly glanced at his friend. “And, I expect you to back me up.”
Remus rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Don’t I always? Besides, do I have a choice?”
Sirius gave his friend a grateful smile. “I’m sorry to get you involved on this one, Remus. As much as I like to refuse his request, I can’t. He’s the only one, who knows where Harry is.”
“And, you want to ingratiate yourself on the headmaster, hoping he’ll take pity on you, and tell you where Harry is.” There was a crooked smile on Remus’ face, after he summed up his friend’s hidden motive.
“You know I won’t stop, till I find him,” Sirius softly replied, with a determined look on his face.
“It’s alright, Sirius. James and Lily were also my friends.” Remus was about to say more, when he suddenly heard faint footsteps. “Someone’s coming.”
They were unusually quiet when the door opened, and admitted Professor Dumbledore. He was followed by Neville, Ron, Hermione, Susan, Ginny, and Luna. Remus and Sirius slowly stood up.
“Children, you all know Professor Lupin, your former teacher in Defence Against the Dark Arts,” Dumbledore introduced amiably. The six students warmly greeted Remus. “I am sure you also know Auror Sirius Black.” The students also warmly greeted the Aurorr. Then, the headmaster conjured chairs for the six students, before standing behind his desk.
“Everyone, please, have a seat.” Dumbledore picked up his candy bowl, and offered it to his visitors. “Now, does anyone like a lemon drop?” Luna boldly stood up and took one. Everyone else looked at her in disbelief. “Aahh, you are truly a remarkable lady with a fine taste, Miss Lovegood.”
Luna smiled sweetly. “Thank you, professor. But, you shouldn’t say such sweet words to me in front of Ronald. He might get jealous.”
“I will not!” Ron loudly objected. He blushed deeply at his outburst, after noticing the teasing smiles of his friends.
“Now, now, Mr. Weasley, there is no crime to being attracted to a beautiful and intelligent lady, is there?” Dumbledore teasingly said, looking at Ron above the rim of his eyeglasses. Embarrassed, Ron remained quiet, trying to disappear from his chair.
“Excuse me, Professor Dumbledore. May we know the reason you brought us here?” Hermione asked, intrigued. It was only the first week of summer, and they were back again in Hogwarts.
Dumbledore gave her a grandfatherly smile. “Well, Miss Granger… I would like to ask all of you, if you are interested to receive private training this summer.” The six students were greatly surprised. At first, they just looked at the headmaster in disbelief. But, once they realized he was serious, they eagerly agreed. “Very good… Auror Black here has agreed to be your instructor. He will inform you of the date and place to train.”
Dumbledore paused for a moment. “I have also been giving your study group a deep thought. And, I have decided to make it an extension of the Defence Against the Dark Arts.” The six students happily smiled, again greatly surprised.
“Auror Black will also be our teacher in Defence Against the Dark Arts?” Neville inquired, trying to contain his excitement.
“Alas, no… I have asked someone else to fill that spot. However, Auror Black will still be your adviser in the Defense Association,” Dumbledore said somberly. “I have to warn you. The DA, as you are fond of calling it, will not be exclusive to your group. It will be open to all houses from first to seventh-year students. Of course, different study schedules have to be made for each year. I leave Auror Black and your group to make the necessary adjustments.”
“What about Slytherins?” Ron asked tensely. “Will you let them join?”
“Yes, Slytherins may join.” Dumbledore answered calmly. The headmaster’s office exploded with cries of protests. Some are louder than the others.
“But, professor, we have no idea if they can be trusted. Some of them helped Professor Umbridge propagate ignorance last school year.” Hermione tried to control her temper, as she presented her complaint.
“Those slimy bastards will only spy on us!” Ron received an elbow from Hermione.
“Professor, surely we can screen the bad from the good Slytherins.” Neville tried to be objective. But, his long tussle with Malfoy and the rest of Slytherins made it extremely hard.
They’re all bad and evil Slytherins!” Ron received another elbow from Hermione.
“Neville is right. We can just refuse Slytherins, who are You-Know-Who sympathizers.” Susan’s suggestion sounded reasonable. But, her expression betrayed her inner thought.
“Are you joking? Think of the pranking possibility. This may be our only chance to prank them all at the same time.” Ginny also received an elbow from Hermione.
“We can always put pixies in their robes to make them behave.” No one could really tell, if Luna was serious, or not. Her expression remained neutral.
Dumbledore raised his right hand, to forestall anymore objection. “Very well, you made your point, and very loud ones at that,” he said smiling. “You may help Auror Black remove from the list any Slytherin, who you think will cause trouble. Does everybody agree on that?” All the students reluctantly agreed.
“How about if we remove them from the DA list, after they caused trouble?” Remus suggested instead. “We could be alienating potential allies from Slytherins.”
“No!” Ron objected quickly. “I like Professor Dumbledore’s idea better. We should just get rid of them, before they cause any trouble.”
Sirius, who remained quiet so far, made a suggestion. “Professor Dumbledore, since I’ll be giving special training to these students, perhaps, we can include Harry. I’m confident I can ensure his safety.” The six students curiously looked at Professor Dumbledore. Their eager faces clearly expressed, what they thought of the idea.
Dumbledore calmly held Sirius gaze for a moment. “I believe Mr. Potter is doing fine, wherever he is. I was told he is a very good student.” Dumbledore pulled out an envelope from his desk drawer, and handed it to Sirius. “I was going to give this to you later. However, I think now is a good a time as any.” Sirius quizzically examined the envelope.
“Inside that envelope is a copy of Harry’s OWL result. Go ahead. Open it. I believe you will be most pleased,” Dumbledore said, eyes twinkling.
Sirius read the content, and smiled proudly. “Well, aren’t you going to tell me his score?” Remus asked impatiently. Sirius merely handed the letter for him to read. “Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. He is, after all, the son of James and Lily.”
“Please, sir, will you tell us his score,” Hermione begged excitedly. The other students knowingly smiled at their friend’s enthusiasm. Hermione just couldn’t help compare her score with other students.
“Harry earned a total of seven OWLs, out of nine,” Remus replied happily. “He received an O in Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, and Potions; an E in Herbology, and Care of Magical Creatures; an A in Astronomy. He failed Divination and History of Magic.
“Wow, I wish Harry studied here. He could have helped me with my classes,” Ron said, impressed.
“And what have I been doing for you Ron? Hold your hand?” Hermione asked sarcastically.
“Well, no. You nagged me a lot about studying. And, you wouldn’t let me read your essays,” Ron answered, annoyed. Hermione just rolled her eyes. The others knowingly smiled…public display of affection.
“I believe it is time for you, children, to go home. There is so little time for you to enjoy summer, before you start training. Remus, would you please accompany them?” After bidding Dumbledore and Sirius farewell, Remus and the six students left the headmaster’s office. Ron can be heard grumbling on the way out.
While walking down the corridor, Hermione fell in step with Remus and asked, “Professor Lupin, do you think Professor Dumbledore will agree with Auror Black’s suggestion?”
“Please, call me Remus or Lupin. I’m not your professor anymore. As to your question… No… Professor Dumbledore will not agree. Sirius has been asking to see Harry for fifteen years now. If he didn’t agree before, he wouldn’t agree now. But, if I know Sirius, he’s still probably asking him right now.” They turned another corridor, and down a flight of stairs. The other students were listening attentively.
“Why is he so eager to see Harry Potter? He isn’t one of those fanatical fans, is he?” Hermione asked curiously.
Remus smiled sadly. “No. But, he is fanatical…sometimes.” Remus paused, as if deliberating something. “Sirius is Harry’s godfather. When Harry’s parents died, Sirius asked…no…demanded that Harry should stay with him. But for security reasons, Professor Dumbledore placed Harry with some unknown family. Except for Professor Dumbledore, nobody knows where he is.”
“That’s awful,” Hermione said, appalled. “Professor Dumbledore should, at least, give Auror Black visitation rights. He has the right to get to know his godson.” Hermione’s sense of justice stirred the fire in her heart.
“Well, Professor Dumbledore did promise he will take Sirius to Harry next year. At least, that’s something to look forward to,” Remus pensively replied.
Luna found herself walking on Remus’ left side. “My father said it’s a conspiracy between the Headmaster and the Ministry. He said there is no Harry Potter,” she said with a dreamy expression.
“That’s ridiculous,” Hermione quipped irritably. “How was You-Know-Who defeated, if he didn’t exist?”
“Oh, he lived before. But, he doesn’t live now. That’s why we haven’t seen any picture of him older than a baby,” Luna explained, not bothered by Hermione’s impatience.
“You haven’t seen a Crumple-Horned Snorkack, but you believe it lives.” Hermione pointed out in annoyance.
Luna thought about what Hermione said. “True.”
They have reached the Great Hall, when Neville decided to speak. “Prof…I mean Remus. We promised to visit Fred and George’s shop after the meeting. Would you mind if we go there first?”
“I don’t know. Won’t your parents expect you home after the meeting?” Remus asked quizzically.
“My mum expects us home before nightfall. She won’t mind us visiting our brothers.” Ginny gave a beatific smile. Ron vigorously reaffirmed, what his sister said. The others gave a jumble of excuses and reasons.
Remus thoughtfully regarded for a moment, before he made his decision. “Diagon Alley it is.”
They entered Diagon Alley, and found themselves in a middle of frenzy. Witches and wizards were running toward Gringotts. At first, the group thought there was a Death Eater attack. Grabbing the arm of one witch, Ron nervously asked about the commotion.
“Harry Potter… Harry Potter is in Gringotts,” the witch shouted hysterically. Her friends pulled her free, and they briskly walked toward Gringotts.
They curiously followed the crowd, but couldn’t get any closer to Gringotts. The crowd started screaming, when a wizard in a very expensive dark-green cloak emerged. Hermione saw a wizard about one hundred eighty five centimeters tall. She thought he probably had an athletic body, judging by the fit of his muggle, designer clothes. The good-looking wizard had a sharp facial feature, and tanned skin. His eyes were green. He had straight, shoulder length, black hair, which slightly revealed his lightning bolt-shaped scar.
“Everybody, please, stop pushing,” the supposedly Boy-Who-Lived said in a rich, baritone voice. He sounded, and looked irritated. “I will be more than happy to sign any autograph, if you will just give me some room.”
Several cracks sounded down the road. The Aurors had arrived. They reached the crowd, and tried to break it up. Nobody liked to move. In fact, some wizards shoved back at the Aurors.
“Harry!” Hermione heard Remus shouted. “Harry, this way!” She saw Harry wonderingly looked around, until his gaze fell on them. Remus was waving madly. Harry glared at them for a moment, before his bodyguards guided him away from the panicked crowd.
“Come on. Let’s go to Fred and George’s shop.” Remus’ first thought was to tell Sirius. He used his inhuman strength to cut a path through the crowd.
The group reached the Weasley twins’ joke shop, unscathed. After being swindled out of their winnings from the Quidditch World Cup, the twins concentrated on their owl-order service. Through hard work, and frugal living, they earned enough gold to buy a permit to set up shop. The joke shop was a joke. It was actually a 122 cm x 183 cm x 92 cm wooden box stand. It had a flat wood canopy with a sign “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes” in the front. Beneath that was a big handwritten sign, “Harry Potter’s favorite joke shop”. To call it a shop was another one of their weird sense of humor. At the moment, the joke stand was swamped with customers.
Remus anxiously turned to the six students. “I’m going back to Professor Dumbledore’s office. Can I trust you to stay here until I get back?” They all promised. Remus hastily went to the Leaky Cauldron, and flooed to Hogwarts.
For a moment, the six students oddly watched their former teacher, until he disappeared from sight. Then, as one, they turned to look at the busy twins. “Oi! Fred, George, what’s with all the people?” Ron called out to his brothers, astonished.
Fred, or was it George, looked up from the cash box. “Ronniekins, fancy meeting you here.” He, then, spotted Ginny and Ron’s other friends. “Great, you brought the gang with you. Come on you lot. Help us with these customers.”
“What? In case you don’t know, I don’t work here,” Ron answered, miffed.
“Well, you are for now,” George said, while attending another customer.
Fred looked up again, and saw Ron with a dubious expression. “Why are you still standing there? Time’s a wasting!”
“I’ll take that job,” Ginny quickly accepted. She gave Ron a sweet smile, before heading to a group of children, sampling the Flobberworm Gummies.
“Come on, Ron,” Neville urged, pulling at the redhead’s cloak. “We’ll help too, right guys?” The other three students nodded their assent. For a while, they were busy. They were also busy preventing small children, from sampling adult category prank items. Soon, the shoppers thinned out, and they all took a breather.
“So, what brought the rush?” Neville casually asked the twins, as they didn’t answer Ron’s question earlier.
“Oh, you won’t believe this.” George’s eyes were alight with excitement.
“Harry Potter…The Harry Potter was here a while ago.” Fred was also bursting with excitement.
The six students dubiously looked at the Weasley twins. They couldn’t decide, whether the twins were telling the truth, or not.
“We’re not joking. Do you think we would make up something like this,” George looked at them, as if he was personally insulted.
“Well, we probably will, dear brother,” Fred cheekily contradicted his twin, but hastily added, “But not this time… Harry Potter was actually here.”
“In fact, he bought some of our merchandise,” George said cheerfully.
“And that’s why we have people clamoring for our products,” Fred stated candidly.
“You can’t get any better endorsement than Harry Potter himself,” George announced proudly.
“Like our sign says, ‘Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is Harry Potter’s favorite joke shop’,” Fred declared pompously.
“Amen to that, dear brother,” George solemnly agreed. “Amen to that.”
Neville and the gang just shook their collective heads. There was no doubt in their minds the Weasley twins would milk this unexpected stroke of luck, till it dried up.
Meanwhile, at Hogwarts Castle, Remus was once again in the office of the headmaster. He was trying to pacify Sirius from yelling at Professor Dumbledore.
“Calm down, Sirius. From what I saw, he wasn’t alone. He has guards with him,” Remus pointed out.
“I don’t care! He shouldn’t be out there. What if the crowd became unruly, and grabbed him? Do you think those guards can protect him?” Sirius asked, and then, turned angrily at Dumbledore. “The guards… Are they Order members? Because if they are, why aren’t we included?”
The headmaster calmly answered him, “They are not Order members. I cannot say anymore than that. As for Harry being in Diagon Alley, he made a request.” Dumbledore sighed sadly before continuing, “I agreed because he threatened to go by himself. The guards were a compromise. I am sorry, Sirius, Remus. I didn’t ask you both, because you could pose a distraction to the other guards.”
Sirius, who was standing in the middle of the office, incredulously gaped at Dumbledore. “That’s it. I have been patient with you, professor, for the last fifteen years. I want to see Harry right now! Do you hear me! I want to see him right now!”
Remus had a hard time pulling the enraged Auror towards the door. Truth be told, he would gladly join his friend berate Dumbledore. But, anger seldom solved anything. And, Dumbledore had too much power, and experience on his side to be moved by blustering, or threats. They would have to find another way to get Harry. One thing was undeniable. The headmaster would never give up Harry. They had to find another way…and soon.