Harry talks to McGonagall about the fate of Crouch. A meeting with Fleur, Viktor, Hermione, Cho, Hannah and Ron about the finale of the Tri-Wizard cup.
(Author's Note: I mentioned before that the story would begin with the OotP timeline, being AU to OotP. For all practical purposes, it is going to begin with the OotP timeline, but the actual date of beginning is in the last days of school in the GoF year. It gives me much more leeway to start a plausible ship if I start with the GoF year, and give myself the summer of the OotP year to work with.
The story starts with Harry being released from the Hospital Wing after the return of Voldemort and the exposure of young Crouch. However, no one in the school apart from those who were present in the hospital wing with Fudge, Hagrid and Maxime know of Voldemort's return.
As usual, all criticism is welcome.)
---(Beginning ot the Chapter)---
End of the Year
Harry had scarcely left the hospital wing, when he heard the noise of flapping wings and rustling feathers. Looking up, he saw Hedwig, his pet owl, as it flew up to him and landed on the sill of the window in the hallway leading to the Gryffindor tower. Attached to her leg was a small package, and a note, which read
I hope you are feeling better now. Here is the pensieve of James I spoke of – it was in your family vault and I was able to get it out without any trouble. The instructions on how to use the pensieve are enclosed along with the package.
Don't blame yourself for the death of Diggory – it was not your fault and there was nothing you could have done to save him. You showed supreme courage and Remus and I are both proud of you. Lily and James would have been proud of you as well.
I am hidden again safely, so don't worry about me. Remus asks me to convey you his love in addition to mine when I write to you. Let me know if you need anything. I will keep in touch.
Harry smiled for the first time in days. Sirius always knew how to make him feel better and had come good and performed as he had promised. There were several reasons why Harry wanted his pensieve. Firstly, there was a great deal that was worrying him about the return of Voldemort and the death of Crouch, and Harry wanted to examine his memories carefully – if possible, with the assistance of his friends. Secondly, the reaction of Fudge had worried Harry. He knew how little credibility his own word would have and he wanted to tilt the table in his favour a little. He had a plan to that effect, and for that he required a pensieve. Consequently, he had asked Sirius for help. Before Sirius left him in the hospital wing, he had spoken to his godfather about the possibility of getting hold of a pensieve. Sirius had remembered that the Potter family had a pensieve and had offered to retrieve it for Harry.
Having finished reading the letter and unpacking the said pensieve, Harry quickly snatched up his quill and a piece of parchment, and wrote a thanking note, promising to keep in touch once he reached the Dursleys. That bit of business accomplished, Harry made his way to the Gryffindor tower. However, the password had been changed the previous day, and no one had seen fit to tell him the new password. So he was stuck outside the portrait of the Fat Lady until someone came to let him in. He sat down on the floor by the portrait and fell into a reverie – playing all the events of that dreadful night in his mind for the first time since Dumbledore had made him relive the occurrences. How could everything have gone so hopelessly wrong? How could young Crouch have managed to deceive everyone for an entire year? Moody was Dumbledore's very close friend, but Crouch had managed to fool the old Headmaster as well. McGonagall, Snape, and so many others had known Moody well, but it was really strange that none of them had caught on to the impostor until the return of Voldemort. How could Dumbledore be so gullible as to not notice a man under polyjuice for an year? This brought him to the next object of his mental ruminations – the fate of Barty Crouch. Harry pursed his lips – both the questioning of Barty Crouch and his subsequent fate left many unanswered questions. Dumbledore had questioned the impostor about most of the things that were relevant to the present, but more interesting was what he had not questioned young Crouch about? Why had Dumbledore not bothered with interrogating young Crouch about the past, especially one vital point? Was it mere coincidence that there happened to be a dementor around for Fudge, and that that dementor had coincidentally managed to de-soul Crouch? Resolving to satisfy his curiosity about Crouch to some extent, he made his way to Prof. McGonagall's chambers.
He rapped on Prof. McGonagall's door a few minutes later. “Enter”, came the stern, clipped tones of the transfiguration professor.
Harry entered, and Prof. McGonagall, seeing that it was Harry, almost smiled, and her voice was softer than he had ever heard, ”Well, Potter, are you feeling better now?”
Harry nodded, “Yes, thank you, Professor.”
“So how can I help you?”
“I wanted to ask you a couple of favours, madam.”
Prof. McGonagall's eyebrows went up at that, “What is it, Potter?”
“You remember the dementor Mr. Fudge brought? I just wanted to know how it got around attacking Crouch?”
McGonagall's face furrowed. “Why do you want to know that, Potter?”
“It is really very important, Professor. Can you please let me know how it occurred?”
Harry drew the pensieve from his robes, “In fact, it would be ideal if you could show me your memory of the incident.”
McGonagall was really surprised at that, but refrained from questioning him where he had acquired his pensieve. She drew her wand and placed it to her temple, drawing a long silvery strand from it. She placed it in the pensieve and nodded to Harry. “Once you are finished viewing the memory, Potter, I want you to return the memory.”
Harry acquiesced, “Thanks, Professor. That'll be very helpful. But I'd like to ask you another favour.”
“Name it, Potter.”
“I wanted to read up the trials of the Death Eaters during the last war against Voldemort. Hermione found a large stack of those reports in the library. I wanted your permission to let Hermione and me make two copies of them and take them over summer.”
“Why do you want to study the past, Potter?”
“You remember the Minister mentioning the Death Eater trials, when I accused some highly placed people of being Death Eaters?”
Prof. McGonagall nodded. “I wanted to see what exactly they were accused of. You see – Voldemort made some remarks which lead me to wonder if all Death Eaters are equal ...”
“What on earth are you speaking of, Potter?”
Harry narrated in brief the remarks of Voldemort after his resurrection and his displeasure with some Death Eaters like Avery, Nott, Crabbe and Goyle. He finished, “You see, Madam, I am not sure if all of them are happy with Voldemort's return.”
“And what do you propose to do if you find out some are not happy with his return?”
“For now, nothing. But it could be of use later on.”
Minerva thought for a moment, and then nodded. She walked to her desk, and sitting down at her table wrote a short note to Mme. Pince asking her to help Harry Potter and Hermione Granger in their quest to find material about the Death Eaters.
Harry nodded, thanked Prof. McGonagall and left her office.
Once, Harry was in his dormitory, he drew the pensieve from his robes and placed it on the table. Next, he bent down to examine it and sank into the memory.
“Severus, where is the prisoner?”, came the pompous voice of Cornelius Fudge.
Minerva felt an intense cold wash over her as she poked her head outside the door of Moody's office. A dementor! How on earth had one managed to get inside the Castle? However, she clamped down heavily on her feelings and spoke, “Over here, Minister.”
Fudge trotted into the room, followed by the dementor and then Snape. “Minerva, might I trouble to get Albus here? We will need him for the questioning of this man.” The Minister nodded down to the bound man on the floor. McGonagall hesitated – Dumbledore had ordered her to stand guard on Crouch. She rebuked Fudge, “Minister, this is a school with plenty of children. Why have you brought the dementor into the Castle?”
“Really, Minerva – he is a dangerous prisoner. The dementor will merely stay for our protection and poses no harm to children. Please do get Dumbledore here – there is a lot to clear up in this business.” Once more, McGonagall looked irresolute.
“Go on, Prof. McGonagall. I will be here with the Minister”, spoke up Snape.
Minerva nodded, and then left the office. Scarcely had she taken a few score paces when she heard an inarticulate and horrified cry, accompanied by a hoarse rattling noise. Turning swiftly on her heel, she raced back down the corridor and back into the room she had just left. It was a strange sight she beheld – Fudge and Snape were standing in a corner of the dimly lit office, looking on indifferently at the predicament of Barty Crouch. The dementor which the Minister had brought with him had swooped down on Crouch and was kneeling, its mouth clamped down on the prisoner's, even as his struggles were subsiding and his eyes were blank and unfocussed. “Expecto Patronum”, cried McGonagall. A silver cougar shot from her wand, charging towards the dementor, which turned away and glided away from the snarling big cat. Ignoring the cries of both Snape and Fudge, she knelt down in front of Crouch, turning his eyes towards the light. It only served to confirm what she had just suspected – she had been too late, and the dementor had sucked out the soul of young Crouch.
“You fool!”, snarled Minerva, turning towards Fudge. “Why did you bring that dementor in here?”
“I just wanted ... some protection”, spluttered Fudge incoherently. “In case the prisoner was violent ..”
“How do you account for the fact that your dementor sucked out the soul of this man in your presence?” Professor McGonagall was quivering with fury.
Fudge puffed himself up, “I really see no reason why I should answer that. He was an escaped prisoner from the Azkaban. He deserved the Kiss.”
Minerva looked dumbfounded at the appalling piece of stupidity. She rounded on Severus, “What were you doing all the time, Severus?”
“I am afraid it took me by surprise”, returned Snape. “I did not expect that.”
McGonagall surveyed both the men with tight-lipped fury. Her voice dripped sarcasm, “Since you have both settled the problem of questioning Crouch, I think it better if you two were to accompany me in looking for Dumbledore.”
Harry emerged from viewing the memory and pursed his lips. He thought grimly, 'Well, that was very interesting'. However, outwardly, he gave no indication of his thoughts. He thanked Professor McGonagall for the memory and returned it to her.
It was the day before the Leaving Feast that Harry finally managed to work out how to use the pensieve properly. While his task was neither simple, nor pleasant, it was nevertheless important and Harry had found a new resolve in Cedric's death. He had vowed that he would find a way to fight Voldemort, had sworn that he would destroy the evil for all time to come, no matter what the cost. However, Harry was no fool – he had realised the miracle by which he had escaped and that there was no way that trick would work a second time. Voldemort would realise what had happened and would be prepared for it. He, Harry, needed time, and knowledge to prepare and even stand a chance against the Dark Lord. It seemed that no one could supply the former and no adult would the latter. Consequently, the only ones he could rely on were his own small circle of friends. Harry's lips tightened – his 'circle' of friends was too small and it was the smallness of the circle that he was now keen on remedying. Harry had planned this meeting carefully. He needed to convince people of the seriousness of the situation, and he needed people he could rely on. He was investing much in this meeting, and he was keen on making the most out of his chances.
That evening, as arranged, all those Harry had invited gatheree and Harry surveyed the six people – the champions of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang were in attendance, as were Cho Chang, and Hannah Abbott. Harry's two inseparable friends had gathered also beside him. All the six had assembled in the Transfiguration classroom – this was another little perk he had managed to obtain from McGonagall. His Head of House had really come through for him – overdoing herself giving him some use of the various facilities of Hogwarts.
He smiled at the assembled, “Thank you all for coming here tonight. There're many things we need to talk about, but first I must apologise for Cedric's fate. I know you've all been wondering what happened to Cedric once we entered the maze. I am sorry I didn't tell you before – besides, it would be insufficient to merely tell you six what happened. Therefore, I've placed my memory of what happened from the moment we entered the maze in this pensieve and I'm going to play the memory for you all.”
“But why invite us, Harry”, queried Cho. “Your memories are private – it's not what we should be intruding on.”
“You were Cedric's girlfriend.” Harry's insides squirmed as he spoke the words. He mastered himself, before continuing, “You've got a right to know.”
Harry continued, “Cedric was the real champion of Hogwarts, but he was even more so the Champion of Hufflepuff. If anyone deserves know what happened to Cedric, it is the Hufflepuffs.”
“But why me, Harry?”, questioned the blonde Hannah Abbott. “There are others who were nearer and dearer to Cedric ...”
“You are easily the most unbiased of the Hufflepuffs. I remember you defending me two years ago when everyone thought me the Heir of Slytherin”, returned Harry with a smile. Hannah blushed, as Harry continued seriously, “But Hannah – what happened was ... disturbing, to say the least. If you don't wish to see ...”
“No!”, cut in Hannah harshly. “I'll watch.”
“Fleur, Viktor – you're both the champions of your respective schools. As competitors, you should know the details”, added Harry turning to the Beauxbatons and the Durmstrang champions. They nodded in assent. Finally, Harry turned towards his two friends, “Hermione, Ron – I'm really sorry about keeping you two in the dark about this.”, he muttered. “I was not ready to think of the night ...”
Hermione put her arm round Harry's shoulder comfortingly. “Don't worry, Harry. We understand”, she whispered.
Harry nodded, looked round at the gathered set of people and seeing their consent to view his memory, cast the spell.
They sextet saw Harry entering the maze, him making his way past the obstacles, saving Cedric from the imperioused Krum, answering the Sphinx, subduing the spider with Cedric's help, and finally the argument with Cedric about the cup. They watched in horror as the cup turned out to be a portkey carrying both the Hogwarts champions into a graveyard, heard a high cold voice ordering the death of Cedric Diggory. Transfixed to their chairs, they numbly beheld the death of Cedric, watched a strange man tie up Harry and perform a dark and ghastly ritual to resurrect Voldemort. They noted the return of the Death Eaters, Harry's duel with the Dark Lord, and finally his return to Hogwarts with Cedric's body in tow. The memory stopped at this point. There was a long, eerie silence once the memory had finished playing, and Cho, Fleur, Hannah and Hermione were all looking at Harry with awe-struck gazes. Hermione reacted first - she pulled Harry into a fierce hug, whispering in Harry's ear "Oh, Harry!". Harry just held Hermione close as the pregnant silence continued. Her eyes filled with unshed tears, Cho broke the silence in her quiet voice, “Thank you, Harry, for returning Cedric.”
Harry nodded dumbly. Hannah spoke next, her soft tones clearly audible , “Harry, you've just shown loyalty and fairplay any Hufflepuff would be proud of. I'll do all I can to make sure my House doesn't blame you for Cedric. Thank you so much for returning Cedric back to us.”
Harry flushed scarlet, as Krum and Fleur added their congratulations at his survival and victory. Harry continued, “It was Cedric who died, but it could've just as easily been any of us. Voldemort has returned, and now we are at war, whether Fudge likes it or not.”
“What do you mean, 'Arry?”, inquired Fleur.
Harry narrated briefly Fudge's reaction to Dumbledore's insistence of Voldemort's return, and the death of Barty Crouch, precluding any corroboration of the fact.
Hannah voiced the thought passing in the minds of everyone, “You mean just because it is inconvenient to the Minister to admit You-Know-Who's returnn, we are going to sit back and watch him destroy us one by one?”
“It's hard to know what we can do”, returned Ron.
Harry cut in, “We might not be able to do a lot for now, but there're some things Hermione and I've thought of. We'd like your help in it, but there's no pretending that it'll not be dangerous.”
Hannah and Cho immediately promised to do everything they could to help fight Voldemort – after all both the girls had very personal reasons for hating Voldemort. Fleur and Viktor were returning to their countries soon, but they also promised to do what they could to help. There was no need to ask Hermione and Ron – the two Gryffindors would never abandon Harry, no matter what, and they confirmed as much. Harry smiled for the first time since the fateful night that had caused Cedric's death. “Well, as I said, there are a few things we can do.”
---(End of Chapter)---