Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Heart of the Warrior Book VI

Chapter 12: Rumble on the Hogwarts Express

by madnesspersonified 0 Reviews

TMNT 2003/Harry Potter Crossover. Sequel to Books I through V. With enemies coming from all directions, Harry Potter will need all the help he can get.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Crossover,Drama,Sci-fi - Characters: Dumbledore,Ginny,Harry,Lily,Snape,Voldemort - Warnings: [!!] [V] [?] - Published: 2007/12/24 - Updated: 2007/12/24 - 8129 words - Complete

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Chapter Twelve: Rumble on the Hogwarts Express

“The Hogwarts Board of Governors calls this hearing to reinstate Draco Malfoy’s status as a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry into order,” declared the balding man at the head of a table, with twelve other Governors sitting, looking rather attentive. “I, lead governor, Herbert Sinkelback will be presiding and will be the deciding vote in the case of a split decision.”

Harry sat in the shadows, watching as an aide brought Malfoy into the room. Malfoy had frayed robes and his hair looked like it had not been washed in several days. Harry looked across the room, seeing Albus Dumbledore sitting right across from him. It seemed Dumbledore looked a bit healthier then from the time Harry had last seen him, but Dumbledore did not acknowledge the presence of the Boy-Who-Lived.

“Mr. Malfoy, you have petitioned the Board of Governors to reinstate your status as a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry which had been terminated at the mid way point of the 1994-1995 Hogwarts school year for using an Unforgivable Curse on a fellow student,” declared Sinkelback in a booming voice. “The Ministry of Magic chose to wave the right to send you to Azkaban because of your status as a minor but decreed that you were to never attend any magical school, whether it be in Great Britain or abroad. The Board of Governors upheld that decision and we are eagerly anticipating the defense against the charges that have been laid out before you on this day.”

Draco stood to his feet, with a neutral look on his face. By looking at his face, Harry couldn’t tell whether Malfoy was nervous or extremely confident that he would succeed in returning to Hogwarts on this day.

“My father had put me under an extraordinary amount of pressure to succeed and take up a leader ship role within the Slytherin House at Hogwarts,” declared Malfoy in a bland voice. “Despite my best efforts, Harry Potter had seemed to be able to push his way to the forefront as the face of Slytherin. This left a great amount of distaste in my mouth, as myself and Potter were not exactly the best of friends, because of a misunderstanding we had on the Hogwarts express and our views on how the Wizarding World should be structured differed.”

Malfoy took a deep breath as the governors listened intently.

“This bad blood boiled to a head one morning, ending up in a duel on the Quidditch field at Hogwarts,” continued Malfoy. “Not my finest hour, but it turned out that Potter managed to beat me on that day and I took defeat in the worse way, lashing out at Potter and pushing him with the Cruciatias Curse. This attack was in front of several witnesses and not even my father could sweep it completely under the rug, not that he should have of course.”

Harry sat in the shadows, Malfoy seemed to have rehearsed this story and a few of the members of the board of governors seemed to hang onto his every word, but several still did not appear to buy Malfoy’s change of heart at all. A woman with dark brown hair placed in a bun raised her hand, with a bit of a skeptical look on her face.

“The Board of Governors recognizes Gwendolyn Myers,” declared Sinkelback.

“I think it is a waste of time to even consider this matter regarding Mr. Malfoy,” declared Myers. “The incident in the boy’s fourth year was not the first complaint we have received about the boy’s behavior. His slurs and bullying of muggleborn students have been well documented and Albus Dumbledore as usual turns a blind eye to the misdemeanors of his students. I’d say it is fortunate that Draco Malfoy has been expelled, as perhaps it would save the world of another potential You-Know-Who.”

Myers took a deep breath before proceeding, her eyes fixed on Harry who sat in the corner.

“In fact, I think that Malfoy should remain expelled and we should look into the behavior of one Mr. Harry Potter,” declared Myers, with a smirk.

“I fail to see where Harry Potter’s behavior is relevant to this case, Governor Myers,” declared an old member of the Board.

“While Malfoy did fire that Unforgivable Curse, Mr. Potter is equally responsible for continuing to not turn away from Malfoy’s taunts,” declared Myers. “Let us not forget that Harry Potter was once believed petrifying Hogwarts students and he is a proven Parseltongue. A mark of a dark wizard, I might add.”

“This is irrelevant, Ms. Myers,” declared Dumbledore in a kindly voice. “Mr. Potter received those abilities because of a magical backlash caused when Lord Voldemort attempted to kill him. He is no more evil than you or me.”

Harry refrained from comment, but he wondered exactly why Dumbledore had decided to speak up on his behavior.

“But, the boy was sorted into Slytherin…” declared Ms. Myers.

“Yes, we know of your distaste of the house, just a couple of weeks ago you tried and introduce a piece of legislation to abolish the Slytherin house from Hogwarts, along with all of their students expelled,” replied a governor with jet black hair and a goatee. “Mr. Potter is not the subject of this hearing, Draco Malfoy is and neither are your views on the Slytherin house.”

“Well, let me just say this, once Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter are both out of Hogwarts, the school will be a lot more smoothly run,” declared Myers.

“Oh I remember how smoothly run it was last year when Professor Dumbledore and myself were not there,” declared Harry, deciding not to drag his distaste for Dumbledore out into a rather public forum, but rather using his name to make a point. “Umbridge took the school and made it into her own personal playground, but I’m sure the Board of Governors did all they could to stop that from happening.”

“We were unaware, you foolish child!” snapped Myers. “Umbridge had the backing of the Ministry on her side, the Minister of Magic, the father of the case of our subject today and we were sent reports detailing that nothing was out of order.”

“Reports that it might have been a good idea to check up on,” drawled Draco in a bored voice. “I would think you would have the measure of who my father was, considering he blackmailed the lot of you only a few years ago to get Dumbledore out of Hogwarts.”

There was muttering from the governors, as Myers looked very cross, muttering something about Slytherins under her breath.

“If I may speak,” prompted Dumbledore calmly.

“The floor is yours Headmaster,” declared Sinkelback.

“Draco Malfoy was shown the wrong path by his father, who is a noted follower of Lord Voldemort,” replied Dumbledore causing the Board of Governors to flinch which Dumbledore cheerfully ignored. “We do make foolish errors when we are young, errors that we should forgive and forget. It seems by his recent heroic actions in Diagon Alley, he has turned over a new leaf and deserves a second chance to make a better life for himself. In addition, it would be better for him to remain under supervision at Hogwarts and not be tempted by the Dark Arts outside.”

Dumbledore looked around with a twinkle in his eyes. Harry remained silent, it seemed Dumbledore was working hard to get Draco back to Hogwarts, so Harry suspected that Dumbledore also suspected that Draco was up to something and wanted to keep an eye on Draco. Then again, who could ever guess what was running through the mind of the manipulative Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“Of course, we must take the proper precautions,” declared Dumbledore in his best grandfatherly voice. “Young Draco will have a magic suppressor put on his wand to prevent him from having an Unforgivable relapse. He will also be requested to report to me twice a week.”

“These precautions are most acceptable Dumbledore, but if we find that Draco is acting out of line, he will be out of Hogwarts and you will be out of the position as Hogwarts Headmaster,” declared Sinkelback.

“Excellent suggestion but I have one minor addition and then I might actually consider letting the Slytherin back in,” declared Myers in a snide voice. “Why don’t we have Mr. Potter put his status as Hogwarts student up as collateral? If Malfoy steps out of line, not only will Dumbledore be looking for a new job, but Harry Potter will be out of Hogwarts once and for all.”

“Now, I say that’s hardly necessary….” Stated Sinkelback but Myers waved her hand dismissively.

“Mr. Potter seemed to trust Mr. Malfoy’s change of heart enough to help him petition for this hearing,” declared Myers with a smirk. “Surely, he is confident enough to risk expulsion, unless of course he is a coward like the rest of the Slytherins.”

“Fine, you want me to play your little game Myers, I’ll put my status as Hogwarts student up,” said Harry calmly, but his eyes showed that he was quite irritated and under any other circumstances, he would have never done it but it was Harry’s belief that there might not be a Hogwarts in a year’s time. Plus, it would lure Malfoy into a false sense of security.

“Very well and I agree to resign as Hogwarts Headmaster, on the off chance Draco Malfoy steps out of line,” declared Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling.

“Very well, as Mr. Malfoy suggested, I will be making frequent checks to Hogwarts to make sure everything is in order,” declared Myers. “But of course, let’s not count our phoenixes before they hatch, we still need to bring this matter to a vote.”

“Very well, all in favor of overturning Draco Malfoy’s expulsion at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” declared Sinkelbank and nearly all of the hands raised, including the hand of Gwendolyn Myers, who looked really pleased with herself. “All against.”

Only two hands raised, both of them obviously still holding a grudge from being blackmailed by Lucius Malfoy during the Chamber of Secrets incident.

“Very well, the motion passes that Draco Malfoy has been reinstated as a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in the year that he was expelled in his fourth,” declared Sinkelback in a booming voice as Draco looked insulted that he had to start back up right where he left off, but quickly hid his look into a neutral expression. “He will be escorted to the Auror Department where a magical suppressor will be put on his wand and is to make regular checks to Albus Dumbledore, the pensieve memory of the meeting will be sent to us to review. And should Draco Malfoy have any hint of his former behavior, Harry Potter will be expelled as a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Albus Dumbledore will be forced to resign from his position as Hogwarts Headmaster.”

Harry watched as Draco nodded and Dumbledore rose to his feet with a jovial expression on his face, before turning to the other Governors.

“Well, if you don’t mind, I need to be returning to Hogwarts,” declared Dumbledore with a twinkle in his eye and the Board gave a collective nod, which Dumbledore took as his cue to depart.

“Mr. Potter you are dismissed as well,” declared Sinkelback his booming voice. “Mr. Malfoy, I shall escort you to the Auror Department so the magical suppressor could be replaced on your wand. This meeting of the Hogwarts Board of Governors is adjourned!”

Harry walked from the meeting room without a word, before turning around the corner. He made a mental note to attempt to keep an eye on Dumbledore, remembering that the Headmaster had been laying rather low ever since Voldemort had returned after the third task in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry very much doubted that Dumbledore would suggest Malfoy return to Hogwarts if the crafty Headmaster did not have a reason.

A part of Harry did wonder whether Dumbledore had finally given up on attempting to manipulate Harry and switched his efforts to make Draco his puppet. Malfoy did gain a fair bit of good press in the Daily Prophet recently when he had helped beat the Death Eaters in Diagon Alley, so Dumbledore might have look to regain some of his faded reputation that he had lost over the past few years because of some rather questionable decisions.

The Ministry of Magic hadn’t figured out that the Death Eaters were really transfigured Inferi or if they did, they weren’t admitting it. From what Harry found out from Scrimgeour, they only questioned Death Eaters that had previously talked their way out of imprisonment or had escaped Azkaban. So it was highly possible that if they had believed that the Death Eaters were just new recruits,

Harry looked over his shoulder to make certain that no one had followed him, before pulling his the hood of his cloak around his face to conceal it from view and then disapparating softly towards his next destination of the day.

Looking around the lobby of St. Mungos, Harry could see that there were many Healers walking around, looking rather frantic.

“Merlin, another Muggle given the Dementor’s Kiss, that’s the third one today,” muttered a frazzled looking female Healer.

“Well at least we don’t have to explain what happened to the Muggles,” declared another Healer. “My brother works at the Ministry and they had to modify memories all day. The official word for most of these deaths is that they were put in a coma because of a gas explosion.”

“Wouldn’t the Muggles catch on there were a large number of gas explosions?” asked the first healer.

“Well, that’s their problem to come up with different explanations, we just try to make the rest of their soulless lives as comfortable as possible before they die,” replied the second Healer, shrugging his shoulders before walking off.

Harry turned to consult the board that had information on the floor plan. Making a logical deduction, Harry had no hesitation that Hermione would be on the fourth floor, in the spell damage ward of the magical hospital. Without a word, Harry made his way up the stairs, careful to stick to the shadows to avoid everyone. Even through he meant no harm, having his face disguised might cause some questions that Harry did not want to answer. It was best if no one but Hermione had known that he was at St. Mungos.

Peering through the screen door, he saw Hermione who looked rather weak, but at least she was conscious, a vast improvement from the last time Harry had seen her just a few weeks previously.

Opening the door, Harry slipped inside. With a quick movement, he closed the door before anyone could noticed. As he walked over, Hermione looked up weakly, with a bit of a terrified look on her face, before Harry pulled his hood from his face causing Hermione to relax instantly.

“Oh, hi, Harry,” said Hermione in a soft voice, indicating that she was very weak.

“Now Hermione, I’m rather disappointed in you,” declared Harry with a bit of a smirk. “No security question to see whether I’m the real Harry and not some Death Eater disguised as Harry Potter using Polyjuice Potion. I thought I taught you better in the study group to look for such things, no matter what the circumstances.”

“Now, Harry, you wouldn’t remind me of this if you really were a Death Eater,” said Hermione with a weak smile.

“Of course, I could be reminding you of this to lure you into a false sense of security,” replied Harry.

“Damn Slytherin logic,” grumbled Hermione weakly. All right, Harry, what is your favorite pizza topping?”

“Pepperoni with Chocolate sauce and marshmallows,” replied Harry without hesitation. “Of course, any Death Eater really should thoroughly research such things before trying to impersonate me.”

“I just woke up from what Bellatrix did to me about a week or so ago,” prompted Hermione. “I just managed to keep food down a couple of days ago. That black rope curse did a lot of damage to my internal organs, but the Healers managed to find the right amount of potions to begin the healing process. It will be a couple of weeks before the damage is completely undone.”

“When do you think they’ll release you, Hermione?” asked Harry.

“Damned if I know,” grumbled Hermione. “I hope not too long, because I really want to get out of here. And not only because Hogwarts starts tomorrow, because it’s really boring in here. They won’t allow me to even read a book, because they’re afraid it might over stimulate me.”

Harry didn’t know what to say.

“Of course, they think I’m weak, I’m delicate, because I’m a muggleborn,” declared Hermione in an agitated voice. “The big bad pureblood dark witch broke me and now they have to reconstruct the pieces. It’s a wonder they let me breath, because…”

Hermione stopped, shaking her head.

“But, I know who put me like this and once I get out of here, Bellatrix will pay,” whispered Hermione darkly.

“Hermione, you don’t know what you’re talking about, she’ll kill you,” replied Harry in a stern voice.

“She almost did this time, Harry, but I don’t care,” said Hermione, who had a dark look in her eyes. “She nearly ripped me to shreds during my third year, now she broke into my house, killing both of my parents, and she’s out there, free to kill even more people.”

“Hermione, she was trained personally by Voldemort,” replied Harry. “Actually killing someone is easier said than done. It requires the proper focus, skill, and timing, along with a bit of luck. I agree that she’s better off dead than alive, but it’s just not that simple.”

Hermione crossed her arms, looking rather sour.

“Yes, Harry, I know, but the thought of strangling the air out of Bellatrix Lestrange is enticing,” whispered Hermione, with a dreamy, far off look in her eyes as Harry took a step back, wondering if Bellatrix’s attack had rattled Hermione’s mind.

“Hermione, you’re going to hurt yourself if you try and duel Bellatrix…” started Harry but Hermione cut him off.

“The only one that is going to get hurt Bellatrix Lestrange,” replied Hermione sharply, as menace danced madly in Hermione’s eyes, which caused Harry a great deal of concern.

“Fine Hermione whatever you want to think, but I still think you should be careful,” said Harry in a slightly uneasy tone of voice, before hastily changing the subject. “Hermione, I wanted to ask your opinion about something.”

“Of course, Harry,” replied Hermione, whose interesting was piqued, seeming a lot more like her former self once they were off the subject of Bellatrix Lestrange.

“Draco Malfoy, I don’t know if you heard or not how he fought off Death Eaters at Diagon Alley,” replied Harry calmly.

“I overheard the healers talking about that when I drift in and out, there was supposed to be a hearing about reinstating his status of Hogwarts student or some such rubbish but I had to have been delirious, because I doubt there would be anyway that you would stand back and let Malfoy back into Hogwarts, after all that’s happened,” declared Hermione.

“Actually Hermione, I pushed for the hearing, but hear me out before you say anything,” replied Harry. “At Diagon Alley, Hailey, Ginny, and I got into an altercation with some Death Eaters, along with a few Dementors. After we managed to chase off the Dementors, we were attacked by…a rather prominent Death Eater.”

“It was Bellatrix wasn’t it, Harry,” declared Hermione in a calm voice, but there was a glint of anger in her eye at the thought of Bellatrix. “Honestly Harry, I’m not going to turn into a fire breathing demon just because I hear her name…anyway continue.”

“Right, so Bellatrix attacked us, I tried to kill her,” declared Harry, deciding to emphasize those three words. “She managed to stay a few steps ahead of us, until Malfoy showed up in a disguise, managing to battle Bellatrix to a standstill, before taking out the other Death Eaters with the exception of one.”

“Did that other Death Eater escape?” asked Hermione in a stiff voice.

“No, actually I incinerated him with a spontaneous combustion charm,” replied Harry in a calm voice with Hermione with an awed look on her face. “Yes I know, dark arts, but to be fair I was dealing with Death Eaters and the charm just happened.”

“No, Harry, I understand, you’re going to have to teach me that one sometime,” declared Hermione, who had visions of Bellatrix bursting into flames dancing her head before adding. “Just for the purpose of acquiring the knowledge of course, but anyway continue.”

“Well Malfoy and I went face to face, and Malfoy suggested that we should join forces against Voldemort, telling me that he seen the light, that his father was wrong from following Voldemort,” declared Harry. “The Ministry of Magic believed him and seemed to agree with my suggestion that Malfoy should get his status as student as Hogwarts.”

“Why, through, Harry?” asked Hermione with a frown. “Isn’t life a lot less complicated without having to worry about one more thing? I mean, after all he’s said and done, you would be foolish to believe that Malfoy has had a distract change in philosophy”

Harry looked around; making sure no one was in listening distance, before bending down to whisper to Hermione.

“It’s obvious that his actions in Diagon Alley was a show to gain my trust and the trust of the rest of the Magical World, but I want to know what his game is, what exactly why he wanted to gain my trust?” asked Harry. “If he’s close by at Hogwarts, then I’ll be better able to keep an eye on him and perhaps deduce whatever he’s up to. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get a clue about what Voldemort’s scheme is.”

“You think Voldemort’s behind this, Harry?” asked Hermione.

“I’m almost certain of it but Voldemort’s been rather frustrating to deal with lately,” declared Harry. “Ever since he stole those scrolls, he’s been very quiet, with the exception of a few attacks by his Death Eaters and Dementors. I’ve had leads; nothing significant and whatever leads I’ve attempted to follow have lead to nothing. Voldemort’s playing a crafty game and he’s not letting me access all the pieces.”

“Harry, just don’t get too overconfident when regarding Malfoy,” declared Hermione in a worried voice. “You might have been able to handle him easily two years ago, but Merlin knows what he’s been doing since then. He could take advantage of your preoccupation with other threats and get the drop on you.”

“Ginny told me the same thing, so has Mum and Master Splinter for that matter,” said Harry.

“Well, they’re right, this would be the perfect time for someone to get the drop on you” declared Hermione sternly, before looking up at the clock. “You better leave Harry, if you don’t want to be seen. Dinner should be in about five minutes.”

“Right, see you later Hermione, get well soon,” said Harry.

“I’m intending to Harry, the sooner I get well, the sooner I get out of here and back to Hogwarts,” responded Hermione. “Of all the years I have to be put in St. Mungos, it would have to be sixth year…”

“Hermione, don’t worry, you can catch up when you get back,” said Harry in a reassuring voice, before moving towards the door. “See you later.”

“Okay Harry, bye,” said Hermione, as she sank down onto the bed, with a deflated and quite bored look on her face, as Harry left, hoping that she would be declared fit enough to be released from the care of St. Mungos sooner than later.

Severus Snape walked down the hallway of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The Headmaster had called him to his office as soon as possible and since Snape had already had his lesson plans finalized for the upcoming school year, it would have been no trouble to drop in to the Headmaster’s office. Snape was curious at what Dumbledore had to say to him. The task that Snape was given on the condition of Dumbledore releasing him from the Unbreakable Vow was already going to tax all of Snape’s cunning. Killing her would not be easy, as Lily had a more Slytherin mindset then perhaps ninety percent of the people sorted into that particular house. She had defied the Dark Lord three times, with James Potter being lucky enough to be in the same proximity as Lily when the Dark Lord attempted to kill them both. As far as Snape was concerned, Potter would have been killed the first time, as he was the textbook Gryffindor, rushing head first into battle. The type of people that the Dark Lord shredded through with little effort. While Lily had a temper, at least she was intelligent enough to keep it in line most the time and think logically, which without a doubt saved her life on a number of occasions.

Of course, the times where Lily did lose her temper caused her to have violent outbursts of accidental magic, something that Snape had observed in her son on a couple of occasions, mostly when dealing with Draco Malfoy and the other types of Slytherins that gave that noble house a bad name. The type of Slytherin that Snape sadly associated with in Hogwarts, which Snape regretted each and every day, but he shook his head. That was another time, long before Snape had put himself in the service of two the most manipulative wizards to ever walk the face of the magical world. The Dark Lord actually tended to be the lesser of two evils, as at least he didn’t portray himself the champion of the light, while using people as his pawns from the shadows. Many of his followers may have guessed that Voldemort might have been only out for himself, but had continued to follow him out of a combination of fear and the hope that the Dark Lord would someday share some of his power. A hope that was false, the ambition of the foolish.

“Licorice Wand,” muttered Snape, causing the gargoyle of Dumbledore’s office to spring open allowing Snape entrance to the Headmaster’s office.

“Enter,” declared the voice of Albus Dumbledore and Snape pushed the door open, walking into the Headmaster’s office. Dumbledore sat behind his desk, with a blank robotic look on his face, before rising to his feet.

“Ah yes, Severus, come this way please, I have something important to tell you,” declared Dumbledore calmly and Snape just shrugged his shoulders, before following Dumbledore to the back of the office, where all the paintings of the past Headmasters and Headmistresses of Hogwarts were located. Dumbledore waved his wand, causing a tapestry off to the side of the paintings to roll up, revealing a section of stone wall. Dumbledore tapped the wand on the wall, revealing a knob. Reaching forward, the Headmaster twisted the knob, causing the stone wall to vanish. “This way Severus.”

Snape followed Dumbledore down a winding set of stone stairs, to a cavernous room. It looked to be even further underneath the school than the Dungeons, as it took quite an amount of time to reach their destination. Once they reached the bottom of the stairs, they reached a painting depicting Dumbledore’s defeat of Gridelwald.

“Downfall,” declared Dumbledore calmly, causing the portrait to spring open, and Snape recoiled at the smell of rotting flesh.

“Why on Earth would you bring me down here?” asked Snape.

“Ah, Severus, so glad that you could make it down here,” rasped a weak voice, and Snape turned and what he saw shocked him to the core.

It was Albus Dumbledore sitting in a rocking chair, with a Muggle oxygen tank sitting on one side and a Muggle i.v. that appeared to be pumping the Elixir of Life directly into the Headmaster’s veins. Dumbledore’s right hand looked completely rotted and lifeless and his left hand was rapidly approaching that point. His face looked lifeless, nearly skeletal, with cobwebs hanging from it.

“Headmaster I’m afraid I don’t understand,” muttered Snape, looking from the rather healthy looking Dumbledore to the one that looked like Death was just walking up the driveway towards his front door.

“Allow me to explain,” declared Dumbledore in a weak voice. “Thirty five years ago, my body gave out because of the effects of aging and for all intents and purposes I died. Just as I drew my last breath, I managed to get to a vial of the Elixir of Life that I had swipe from my mentor Nicholas Flamel sometime previously. I poured the elixir down my throat, shielding myself from Death, just as my body shut down.”

Dumbledore put the mask of the oxygen tank to his mouth, before drawing breath and then turning to Snape.

“With a lifetime of magical knowledge at my disposal, I used every ritual that I could think of, and managed to stretch my lifespan past what could have been realistically expected from even a wizard,” explained Dumbledore weakly. “Rituals that I had to undergo every few years as no matter what my best efforts were, my body still broke down, my internal organs failing. The acquisition of the Philosopher’s Stone gave me an unlimited supply of the Elixir of Life, but alas, each dose only forestalled my death by a few days, rather than the weeks or months that it would have previously. The strain of many rituals over the years caused my body to fail at a quicker rate. My latest attempt to keep my body from failing occurred prior to the end of last year at Hogwarts, only lasting a matter of weeks, my body beginning to shut down just days after I gave you the task of murdering Lily Potter.”

Dumbledore paused, before continuing his explanation.

“Despite my degenerating state, I still was not without my resources,” declared Dumbledore. “I managed to acquire the body of a young man who had been given the Dementor’s Kiss. Summoning any strength possible, I used my transfiguration skills to transform him into an exact duplicate of myself and with one final dark ritual, I can mentally control him from this room, seeing everything he sees once I wear a charmed pair of spectacles.”

“Headmaster, why are you telling me this now?” demanded Snape.

“I require your help one more time, Severus,” declared Dumbledore, before hacking, and taking a breath into his oxygen tank. “There is but one final ritual that I have yet to attempt, to transfer my soul into another, younger body.”

“Exactly whose body would this be, Headmaster,” prompted Snape.

“I’m sure you are aware that Draco Malfoy will be returning to Hogwarts this year,” remarked Dumbledore weakly. “Young Draco’s body would be the perfect vessel to host my soul and then it will allow me to complete my plans.”

“Are you certain this is the only way Headmaster?” asked Snape.

“Absolutely it is necessary. Naturally, I would have preferred Harry Potter, but the boy’s bond with Miss Weasley makes him ill-advisable for possession of any kind,” declared Dumbledore. “Tom would have been my second choice, but him splitting his soul with Horcruxes rules him out. So, Draco Malfoy will have to do. If everything goes to plan, my death will be a well publicized tragedy by this coming year at Hogwarts.”

Snape remained silent, before addressing Dumbledore.

“We all must die sometime, Headmaster,” replied Snape in a cool voice. “Using Draco’s body may only be forestalling the inevitable.”

“Ah yes, Severus, we all must die sometime,” confirmed Dumbledore. “And your death will come rather soon if you defy me once more. Others will give their right arm to serve the most powerful magical entity that ever lived, without being forced to under an Unbreakable Vow. So do not forget your place and don’t forget that the only way I am releasing you from this vow is if you kill Lily Potter before the end of the year and if you fail, your end will come.”

Snape decided not to comment on Dumbledore referring to himself as the most powerful magical entity that ever lived as opposed to the most powerful wizard. It appeared that Dumbledore had seen himself above mere wizards, and Snape stepped back.

“Of course, I will do anything I can to make sure Draco is in position for use in this ritual,” declared Snape in an emotionless voice.

“Very well, now depart,” declared Dumbledore, and Dumbledore’s duplicate lead Snape from the room, leaving the aging Headmaster alone with his thoughts.

Dumbledore realized that this ritual would have to go on without a hitch. Draco would come of age in June and that’s when Dumbledore would make his move. By his calculations, Dumbledore had just that long before his body had crumbled into dust, no matter how much Elixir of Life he consumed. The last ritual to restore this body had pushed the body to its utter limits. His soul, his very essence, would be sucked back to the location he came from before he took on this primitive form. Without acquiring the use of a younger body, all of his plans would be sunk and he would have several more centuries, perhaps millennia of uncertainty, before he could manipulate his way out of his prison again. Over one hundred and twenty years of well laid plans would be destroyed, but no one would no the exact truth about his past life. No one had found out besides Lily Potter and Dumbledore had made sure those recollections were ripped from her memory. The only one who had known that Dumbledore had done this was Severus Snape and he would die if he had even hinted to anyone that Dumbledore had that Lily’s memories of acquiring that incriminating information.

Soon, Dumbledore would find a way to return to his former glory and soon, everyone would fold to his power, just like all of his adversaries did some time ago in his previous life.

If anyone bothered to keep track, then perhaps someone would notice that the security at Kings Cross was rather tighter than usual. That fact was accounted for the number of Ministry of Magic Aurors incognito, attempting to make sure all the Hogwarts students arrived on the train safely. The Ministry had also encouraged parents or guardians of the students to supervise their charges up until the second they got on the train.

Harry made his way through the train, followed closely by Hailey and Ginny. From what his contacts at the Ministry told him, there would be Aurors patrolling the train, and even more Aurors at Hogwarts, with a few stationed at Hogsmeade. These measures were to ease the worries of many parents, but Harry doubted that Aurors would deter Voldemort much. Especially when it was proven after the Diagon Alley incident that a few Dementors could tip the scales against the Aurors. Harry made a mental note to stress the importance of learning the Patronus Charm when he reestablished the Defense against the Dark Arts study group this year. Even if the new teacher would be the best in the world, Harry still would feel more at ease if everyone was prepared. Voldemort would make a play for control sooner rather than later, but Harry’s nemesis was keeping his cards close to his chest until the very last moment. Harry suspected that even Voldemort’s Inner Circle members didn’t know his full plans.

“Harry, Ginny, Hailey!” called the voice of Daphne Greengrass, waving them over towards the compartment, that Daphne and one of Harry’s other friends, Theodore Nott were sitting. “We thought you had missed the train for a minute.”

“We very nearly did,” grumbled Hailey. “The Aurors that were checking us were a bit overzealous.”

“Well, Hailey, they’re just doing their job,” said Harry. “They don’t want anyone to smuggle any items into Hogwarts, but of course, there are ways to even get past the most sophisticated of security measures.”

Harry, Hailey, and Ginny walked over, before sitting down in the compartment that Daphne and Theodore had saved for them.

“Any news on Hermione,” prompted Theodore.

“She’s a little better, but Lestrange ravaged her organs with that dark arts spell,” declared Harry. “She told me it will take a bit of time before she is well enough to return to Hogwarts.”

“Something that I’m sure Hermione isn’t too thrilled about, considering that N.E.W.T. level courses begin this year,” replied Daphne with a grin. “Speaking of which, what classes are you taking this year Harry?”

“Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Arithmancy, Study of Ancient Runes, and of course, Defense,” declared Harry.

“The minimal course load,” prompted Theodore. “Still, you do have more pressing matters on your mind. Daphne and I are taking all those classes, in addition to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures.”

“I wanted to take History of Magic,” declared Daphne bitterly. “But there wasn’t enough interest to have a N.E.W.T. level course.”

“There never is,” said Theodore. “Not that many fields require that subject and those who do go into those fields take the extra independent study, rather than go through two more years of Binns.”

“Still, there has to be some people who wanted to take it,” said Daphne.

“Only you, Hermione, and maybe a couple of odd Ravenclaws,” declared Theodore which caused Daphne to roll her eyes.

“Did someone mention odd Ravenclaws?” asked the voice of Luna Lovegood, who seemed to have drifted into the compartment on her own accord. “Well, here I am.”

“Now, Luna, no one thinks your odd, just highly unique,” declared Ginny.

“Anyway, I’m here to talk to Harry about the Defense group,” declared Luna.

“Of course Luna, do sit down,” replied Harry and Luna nodded, before sitting down right between Hailey and Ginny, joining the compartment.

“Harry, I thought last year went rather well, until of course Umbridge made it quite difficult to meet because she watched anyone who had ever been friendly to you,” declared Luna. “I was wondering if you wanted me to help continue the group this year.”

“Actually Luna, yes, I was thinking about doing that anyway, regardless of who the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is,” replied Harry. “Any help I can get with keeping the Defense against the Dark Arts study group stabilized is much appreciated.”

“Speaking of the Defense against the Dark Arts class, I wonder if we’re even going to have a class this year,” prompted Theodore. “There wasn’t even a textbook on the list.”

“That’s because the class is going to be mostly practical,” declared Harry. “And I’m all for it, because honestly, after last year, we had enough theory in that class to last a lifetime.”

At that moment, the Hogwarts Express began to slowly come to a stop.

“We can’t be at Hogwarts yet,” muttered Ginny with a frown, as she looked out the window. “We’ve barely left the station.”

“All I know is last time the train stopped prematurely, Dementors decided to hitch a ride,” declared Daphne with a frown which caused Harry to straighten up straight away.

“Wands out everyone!” ordered Harry, before turning to the others. “Scour the train, warning everyone and enlist the help of any older students or Aurors that you can find, protect the younger students.”

“What are you going to do, Harry?” asked Ginny.

“I’m going to try and figure out what’s going on, I’ll inform you all straight away whatever I find out,” declared Harry and Ginny, Daphne, Theodore, Luna, and Hailey made their way from the compartment, as Harry had his wand in one hand and his blade in the other hand, as he cautiously maneuvered around, pushing the doorway open, before walking into a seemingly empty compartment. Upon further examination, the compartment held just a normal duffle bag.

At a blink of an eye, a dagger ripped through the bag, before a hand inside the bag threw the weapon at Harry, who managed to deflect the dagger, having been caught off guard.

“Ah, the famous, Mr. Potter,” declared a female voice, as she rose from the bag. The woman was apparently a contortionist of some sort. “I’ve been waiting to test my skills against you.”

Harry leapt at the woman, attempting to catch her off guard by ramming both feet into her face, but the woman arched her spine backwards, so she was bent towards the ground. As a result of this action, Harry flew harmlessly over the woman, having to adjust his legs, while landing on his feet. The woman spun around, clashing a sword against Harry’s weapon. Harry pushed her backwards before landing on his feet and removing a Kusari-Gama chain from his sleeve, before flinging it towards the woman, wrapping it around her, binding her arms.

“Tricky predicament, but not impossible to get out of,” muttered the woman, as she twisted her arm in an awkward position before slicing the chain, causing Harry to fly backwards. Harry was slumped against the wall and the woman sat on the ground, contorting her body into a ball, before rolling forward.

Harry looked up and both feet cracked him right across the face, and Harry flew right into the wall. Reaching into his sleeve as his attacker turned around, Harry removed a shuriken before flinging it at her. The woman twisted her arm between her legs, before catching the shuriken, before spinning around and flinging it back at Harry, who deflected it with his sword. Harry sprung up, before gripping into the ceiling.

“Bombs away!” yelled Harry, before dropping down and attempting to kick the mercenary in the face, but she twisted to the side, causing Harry to miss her by just centimeters.

“And I thought this was going to be a challenge!” taunted the woman, as she aimed her sword right at Harry’s torso, but Harry managed to catch the arm of his attacker, before twisting it around. His adversary attempted to aim a blow with her other arm, but Harry caught the arm, before bending both arms roughly.

“Exactly who are you working for!” yelled Harry, wanting to get to the bottom of who was sending these mercenaries after him.

“Sorry, but that would be telling!” taunted Harry’s attacker, as she twisted her arms up, before flipping behind Harry, with her arms still in Harry’s grip, before kicking him in the back, causing Harry’s grip to slip and him to land on the ground but only for a second as Harry quickly sprang up, before throwing a pair of shuriken at his attacker, which the woman quickly deflected, before springing up towards the exit of the compartment.

Harry frowned, before moving in pursuit towards his attacker, but his two way mirror began heating up and Harry removed it.

“Harry, the train’s moving again and it appears it might have just been a false alarm,” said Ginny.

“No,” declared Harry, shaking his head. “Someone’s sent a mercenary after me.”

“Another one!” exclaimed Ginny, who looked highly alarmed.

“Yes, I need to go, my attacker ran into the next compartment!” muttered Harry, as he raised his wand, before blasting the door open, looking alarmed as he saw what appeared about five or six second and third year students knocked unconscious.

Harry didn’t have much time to take in the grin scene, as his attacker slid her feet from underneath a bench, kicking Harry in the legs, knocking him backwards. Spinning around, Harry leapt up, grabbing his attacker by the throat, before flipping her down to the ground.

“What did you do to them?” asked Harry, indicating the second and third year students on the floor.

“They’re just knocked unconscious,” responded the mercenary as she sprung up, throwing a dagger at Harry, but Harry flicked his wand, causing the dagger to solve into a mass of melted metal in mid air, but the attacker responded by throwing a glass vial on the ground, obscuring the area in smoke, causing Harry’s vision to become impaired for a moment.

Harry groped around in the dark, before listening for a hint of his attacker and he found one, as a kick aimed towards the side of his head, barely missed. His attacker landed on her feet, and threw a shuriken at Harry, but Harry managed to deflect it backwards with his weapon. Using his wand to siphon the smoke away, Harry saw his attacker contort her body to slip out of an opened window of the Hogwarts express.

“Not getting away, not this time,” declared Harry, who transformed into his Animagus form, a raven, before flying from the window to the outside of the world. He transformed back into a human on top of the train, before looking around.

As he looked down, two fists sprung up, catching Harry right in the face, before his attacker found her way to the top of the train, to engage Harry in battle. Harry avoided her charge by leaping up over her, but the woman twisted, her arm bent backwards, grabbing Harry’s wrist, before twisting around. Harry winced, feeling a pop, before the woman flipped him over onto his back. The mercenary stepped back as Harry felt a stabbing pain of a broken wrist, as he got to his feet.

“Five minutes,” hissed a voice unheard to everyone except for the mercenary but Harry brought his wand out, before shooting a jet of light from it. The woman wouldn’t have been able to contort if she was in a full body bind and sure enough, her arms and legs snapped together, causing her to land on the top of the train with a thud. Her body slid from the side, but Harry used his wand to pull her back, before bringing her up so they were face to face.

“Exactly who are you working for?” demanded Harry, but sweat began to roll down the woman’s face, as her body began to glow before an unknown force pulled her into the air. “DAMNIT!”

Harry cursed as his attacker had disappeared into thin air, just like the previous two mercenaries had. Adding insult to injury, the only thing Harry had to show for it was a broken wrist, among getting knocked around. Harry removed his Portus-Amulet, before tapping his wand to it and transporting himself back into his compartment of the train where Ginny, Hailey, Luna, Daphne, and Theodore were waiting, along with a pair of Aurors.

“Ah, Mr. Potter,” declared one of the Aurors with a nod. “We were wondering how much you know about how exactly the train stopped.”

“I know about as much as you know,” replied Harry calmly. “I know why the trained stopped, some Muggle mercenary attempted to off me for about the third time this summer.”

“The same mercenary all three times,” prompted the second Auror, frowning.

“No different ones, all disappearing before I could gain any information,” replied Harry. “Even though I immobilized this one with a full body bind, she vanished before I could demand information.”

“Very well,” declared the first Auror with a frown. “Anything else?”

“A half a dozen second and third year students have been knocked unconscious by the mercenary, so it might be a good idea to check on them along with checking to see if any other students have been injured in the crossfire,” explained Harry.

The Aurors nodded, before walking off into the train.

“Another year at Hogwarts,” sighed Harry, shaking his head, before turning to Daphne, Theodore, and Luna. “So, how were your summers?”
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