Harry awoke, feeling well rested, in his bed in the Gryffindor fifth year’s dorm. He stretched, and fumbled for his glasses. Finding them in the usual spot on his bedside table, he put them on before remembering he’d be able to see without them. Instantly, his vision blurred. Taking the lenses off, he glared at them as his vision returned to normal. Recalling what had happened, he smiled, folded them, and left them on the table.
Grinning, he looked around himself, drinking in everything he saw. Across the room, Neville snored. Dean and Seamus both slept more quietly. Outside, Harry could see the sun had not yet begun to paint the clouds. He decided that since he’d been given a second chance, as it were, he would make the most of it. The first thing he did, was write a letter to Amelia Bones, detailing his request. Hedwig arrived just as he addressed the note.
“Hello, Hedwig.” He greeted his familiar. She nuzzled into him and he gently scratched her head the way she’d taught him. She crooned for a time at the pleasant coddling, before retreating and nodding at the letter in his hand. Harry smiled as he finished a second letter. This one to to Graswold, Most Honored Dak of Horde Gringg, and nominal leader of the Unified Goblin Hordes.
“Always here exactly when I need you, aren’t you?” Hedwig chirruped with pride. She knew when he needed her and made sure she was there!
“Do you think you can take both letters at once, or do you want to come back?”
Hedwig instantly showed her outrage at Harry’s temerity. She cuffed Harry across the head for even thinking she wasn’t up to the task of delivering mail! The very nerve!
Harry chuckled as his familiar batted him about the head and shoulders, which earned him another round of buffeting.
“OK! OK! I get it! C’mon, Hedwig! Hey, now, you break it, you bought it!” Harry laughed outright now. Hedwig settled down, glaring at her bonded.
Still chuckling, Harry pointed to the two envelopes on his desk.
“OK, this one goes to Gringotts bank. Give it to Dak Graswold himself. Absolutely nobody else is to even touch it. OK?” He indicated the letter addressed in gobbledygook. It was a letter of introduction to the Dak. Harry wished to speak to Graswold personally about the situation in which he found himself, and humbly requested an audience. If Graswold agreed, it could spell a whole new era for relations between the wizarding world and the goblins.
Hedwig acknowledged her instructions with a bob of her head. Harry went on to point to the other letter.
“This one goes to Amelia Bones. I’d prefer you take it to her home instead of the ministry. You’re pretty recognizable and I’d hate for you to be targeted because someone knows that you’re my familiar.”
Again, the snowy owl bobbed. She instinctively understood how dangerous the ministry was.
Harry tied both envelopes to her legs, using the secure but comfortable wrap Hermione had once shown him. Hedwig shook first one foot and then the other, and then bobbed her head in apparent satisfaction. Nipping him softly, she sprang into the air and silently departed.
That done, Harry changed into some comfortable workout clothing for his morning’s exercise. At the last minute, he picked up glasses, and touched them with his wand. He whispered: “Oculus Neutralis”, changing them into clear glass. He settled them on his nose, grabbed a towel, and trotted down the stairs to the common room where he found Dobby still hard at work cleaning the tower. The elf looked to be exhausted. Harry wafted his wand and the detritus, including several of Hermione’s silly hats, vanished. Dobby spun to gape at him.
“Good morning, Dobby. You looked tired, so I thought I’d help you out just a little.” Harry explained, as though it was nothing of great import.
The house elf blushed at being discovered cleaning. He was about to punish himself, before he remembered that Harry was not like most wizards. He treated all the house elves as friends. Smiling shyly, Dobby nodded his head.
“Good morning master Harry Potter, sir!” He piped. “Yes, Dobby has been working very hard. They is several rooms in the castle that has not been cleaned in much long time. Dobby has finished them but wished to clean the Gryffindor tower before retiring.”
“Well, it’s done now. Why don’t you go up and have a kip in my bed? The others won’t be up for another couple hours or so, and I’m certain they won’t care.”
“Oh, Dobby cannot do that!” Dobby squeaked, shocked at the very idea! “Dobby does not sleep on duty!”
“Dobby, if your job is done, are you on duty?”
Dobby had no answer for that.
“Do you have any other chores scheduled?”
Dobby allowed that he did not, and so Harry repeated his offer, adding: “If you don’t feel comfortable, sleeping in my bed, then why not sleep under it. As I said before, I don’t mind, and the others won’t either.”
Dobby relented. In truth, the other rooms he’d been cleaning, he’d done because he had insufficient work and he decided to find things to do. He also tired more frequently now, as his magic began to wane, and the idea of a nap beckoned.
Harry left the common room and headed down the stairs, to the great oaken doors of the entrance hall.
Harry did his usual warm-up stretches and calisthenics, followed by a five mile run around the lake, leaning into the force for its assistance. He was already an avid runner, as Dudley and his gang had instilled in him a fervent desire to retain his blood inside his body, and Oliver’s relentless practices had fostered the appreciation of proper exercise. Now, the morning run was nearly effortless, though his muscles received their normal workout.
Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Dean, Luna and Padma would usually accompany him, but today he ran alone.
Retiring to the Gryffindor locker rooms, he sat at one of the weight training machines and set it to his normal workout, plus fifteen percent.
An hour and a half later, he returned to the castle, narrowly avoiding Argus Filch, who was prowling the halls, looking for a reason to take points. While Harry, amongst others, had standing permission to rise early and exercise, Filch would take points anyway, claiming he hadn’t known. Harry darted into the common room, and thence to his dorm. Quietly, he woke Dobby, who smiled at him in thanks.
“Dobby, after term ends, I’m going to be calling for you, either on the train, or in London. When you hear me call, please bring your sock.”
“Yes, Harry Potter. Dobby will do.” Dobby’s eyes glowed with joy. He had a very good idea why the great Harry Potter would be calling for him to bring his sock.
Leaving an elated Dobby behind, Harry turned to the loo, for a shower. Dobby happily laid out his clothing and when Harry had entered the shower, he gathered up the sweaty things for cleaning.
Harry approached the transfiguration classroom and rapped on the door. When Minerva bade him enter, he began his well-rehearsed speech.
“Professor, last night when Dumbledore brought me back from the ministry, instead of sending me to the infirmary to be checked out, he locked me in his office and let me stew over Sirius’ death for a half hour before he got around to arriving. When he finally did show up, he told me that Sirius’ death was his own fault, and my fault, and his fault and Bellatrix’s fault and Voldemort’s fault. The only one he didn’t blame was Snape, and he was the one who was most at fault. How long was he at headquarters before he decided to tell you lot that Voldemort had convinced me that Sirius was being tortured at the ministry? It took us the better part of three hours to deal with Umbridge, find some thestrals and fly to the ministry. Before you answer, I already know. You see, there’s a portrait of Heironymus Bosch in the sitting room. He may have supported the Black aims, but he truly cared for Sirius. Snape, and no, I shall never call him professor again. sat there for almost that long…sipping his tea and insulting Sirius, for almost - that - long.”
“Do you mean to tell me that…” Minerva trailed off in shock.
“Snape is a spy, but not for you. He was ordered by his real master, to spy on Dumbledore, and seed disinformation. That’s why so many of your friends died in the first war. Snape betrayed them, just as he betrayed my parents.”
“Mister Potter…Harry.” Minerva temporized. “Peter Pettigrew betrayed your parents, not…”
Again Harry interrupted. “Snape was the Death Eater who first brought the information to Voldemort. He’s also the one who convinced Ol’ Voldy to recruit Pettigrew, over the Christmas break of their sixth year. What’s more, Dumbledore knew both Snape and Pettigrew were active Death Eaters. He allowed them to remain free, because they played into his grand scheme. He needed a weapon to use against Voldemort, because he knew he wasn’t powerful enough to beat him by himself. So when the divination professor retired, and he began to interview for a new one, he knew he’d found the opportunity he needed. Why do you think he didn’t hold the interview in his office? Especially during a time of war. He made up a prophesy, and then Imperius’d Trelawney into speaking it, in of all places, the Hogs-head inn. A place with a higher concentration of criminals and lowlifes than Knockturn Alley. Unfortunately, though he derides divination, Voldemort believes in Prophesy. Dumbledore knew that, and so, he set him up. What’s more, he set my parents up. When Voldemort went after my parents, he set this whole thing into motion. He turned what was a false prophesy, into one that was both real, and self-fulfilling.”
Minerva sat heavily on her couch, her hand held to her breast. “How could he?”
Harry left the question unanswered, but added: “Despite Dumbledore’s orders, I intend to take a more active stance against Voldemort and his terrorists. To that end, I need something only you and maybe a couple of other people in the world can make. As it is, you’re going to need help from both Tonks and Remus, as you’re not familiar with what I need, and they are. It really is quite urgent that I have it before the summer hols, as I can’t make it once I return to the Dursley’s house.”
Minerva noted sadly that Harry hadn’t said the word ‘home’. She’d strongly disagreed with Albus’ decision to imprison Harry at the Dursley’s home as a babe, and many of his choices since. The new charges Harry had laid at Albus’ feet hadn’t helped any.
She came to a decision.
“Of course, Mister Potter. If you’d like I can contact both Remus and Miss Tonks this morning.”
“Thank you Professor. I’ll be in the hospital wing before breakfast, visiting Hermione…and Ron.”
“As you wish.” Minerva smiled softly, as Harry departed. She’d long before, seen the burgeoning love between Harry and Hermione. Now that he was moving closer to it’s realization, she celebrated. She’d have to change her wager from next year to this summer.
Leaving his favorite professor, Harry wended his way through the castle to the hospital wing, where he found himself accosted by Severus Snape.
“Where are you going, Potter?” He sneered. “You have no business being about the castle this early, so I think I shall take twenty points from your house.”
“You know as well as I do, that those who wish to exercise in the morning have standing permission from the heads of house to do so. You just like to ignore that because it interferes with your sexual fantasies. As it happens, I was just speaking with Professor McGonagall. I have her permission to visit my friends.”
“Your friends.” Snape growled. Steaming at Potter’s implication.
“Yeah. Friends. I believe that’s what you call the rest of the Death Eaters, isn’t it?”
Harry slipped past the stunned potions master, before he could think to retaliate. By the time he recovered, Harry was already in the hospital wing and under his invisibility cloak.
“POTTER!” He bellowed, immediately incurring the wrath of Madam Pomfrey, who forcibly ejected him.
Harry snickered from his place of concealment until the matron returned to her office. He didn’t notice her satisfied smirk.
Sliding the silvery cloak from around his shoulders, Harry gazed upon his two best friends. Both were sleeping peacefully, although Harry watched Hermione wince in her sleep. Ron, was snoring away so loudly Harry was amazed he hadn’t awakened Hermione…or Hagrid, for that matter, who was half a kilometer away!
Harry sat on Hermione’s bed for long minutes, just holding her hand.
“I’m so sorry, Hermione.” He whispered. “I should have known better. I should have listened to you. You knew it was a trap but I had to go in and try to save the world…again. And because of that, you got hurt. Please be OK. I couldn’t bear it if you didn’t get better. You are my anchor. You make the world make sense. Please be OK. I need you. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Finally, he stood, bent over the sleeping girl and tucked the blanket around her shoulders. Leaning in, he brushed her curly locks aside, and dropped a gentle kiss on her brow. He had just turned to check on Ron, but hearing a commotion in the hallway, ducked under his cloak once more, just as Albus Dumbledore and a seething potions master entered.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled madly as he watched the ghostly form of Harry Potter under his magnificent cloak, walk out of the hospital wing and down the hall.
He turned to Snape and chided gently: “As you can see, Severus, other than the children in bed, there is no one here. Harry Potter is not hiding in the hospital wing.”
He’s probably hiding under that blasted invisibility cloak! I cannot fathom why you allow him to keep it!”
“Severus, there is nobody here under any sort of concealment, whether it be cloak or charm. If you will allow me.” The ancient wizard cast a spell, which showed every magical implement in the room, of which there were plenty, but nowhere in the room, was there a Harry Potter shaped object, hidden from sight under an invisibility cloak. “And as for why I allow him to keep it, it belongs to him. It was his father’s, and his grandfather’s before him. That cloak has been passed down through the generations from the very first. When his father left it in my care, I fully intended that he should reclaim it. As it was, with his death, Harry became the next rightful owner.” He didn’t mention that he had ways to get around the cloak.
As Dumbledore and the snarling potions master left the room, a smiling Poppy Pomfrey gazed out the window overlooking the ward. Reminiscing on the kiss Harry had given Hermione, she was so very happy that her favorite student’s son was beginning to realize how very much he cared for the brilliant girl. She also decided to modify her wager.
Snape and Dumbledore entered the Great Hall to find Harry at the Ravenclaw table, eating breakfast and chatting with Luna Lovegood.
Snape stormed forward and grabbed Harry up by the scruff, literally hanging him. Harry’s face began to turn an interesting shade. Dumbledore arrived seconds after and quietly demanded Snape release the boy. Snape only twisted his grip all the tighter, in a childish attempt to gain some further revenge. Harry focused on the force and suddenly Severus was also feeling some extreme pain. The tighter he held Harry, the worse it got for him. When Dumbledore placed a deceptively strong hand upon his arm, Snape finally let the ebon haired youth go. It was a few more seconds before Harry released the force-grip he had on Snape’s scrotum.
Dumbledore could feel something…something very powerful, emanating from Harry, but he couldn’t identify what it was. He also did not care at all for the way Harry was looking at him. He no longer seemed to be the trusting, naïve boy he’d been in the past years. Rather, Dumbledore thought he saw suspicion and contempt.
“Harry, I understand you insulted Professor Snape. Would you care to explain yourself?”
“I didn’t insult him.” Harry gasped out as he ostentatiously loosened the scarlet and gold tie, which had become cinched tightly around his neck. “He accosted me in the hallways for no other reason than to harass me, on the pretext that I had no business being up at that time of the morning, I merely pointed out that I had permission from you to exercise in the mornings, and from Professor McGonagall to visit my friends in the hospital wing. When he didn’t appear to recognize the term ‘friends’, I simply cleared it up for him, by telling him that the word ‘friends’ was how he related socially, to the other Death Eaters. Maybe I should have said ‘great friends’ instead…or perhaps ‘best mates’?”
“How - dare - you! Snape began, angry enough to chew nails.
Dumbledore paled in shock. Never before had Harry defied him so. There was little he could legally do, because Harry had not actually violated the school rules. Still, what was illegal to others, was mere inconvenience to Albus Dumbledore. When he tried to gain access to the boy’s mind, he found nothing but the normal, hormonally driven thoughts of a fifteen-year-old boy, and the deep and abiding hatred for Snape that both he and the potions master had fostered over the years. He interrupted Snape’s burgeoning tirade.
“Be that as may be, Severus is a professor here and you will treat him with the respect he deserves.”
“Gee, Professor.” Harry smirked. “Aren’t those curses called ‘unforgivables’?”
“Fifty points from Gryffindor and a weeks detention, Potter!” Snape spewed.
“Get bent, Death Eater! You can take them all, and I still won’t be there!” Harry growled, then turned to Dumbledore. “And you, will be damn lucky if I return to Hogwarts at all!”
“No!” Dumbledore paled. “You cannot mean that, Harry!”
“I meant every bloody word! Now, if you don’t mind, I’m trying to eat here.” Harry made a shooing gesture to both men.
“You arrogant bastard!” Snape began to loudly emote on Harry’s unworthy nature, parentage, hygienic habits and choice of friends, as a horrified Dumbledore practically dragged him to the head table, leaving Harry and Luna in relative peace.
Dumbledore had seen in the young man’s eyes, that he was as serious as a heart attack, and knew he had some urgent damage control to do. He’d have to block Harry’s access to his vault, and prevent his learning of the Potter family vault as well. He may even have to write some new legislation that applied only to muggleborne or raised students, that required them to complete their education at Hogwarts. He needed Harry to follow his plans, and by Merlin’s beard, he would not be denied!
Luna turned her eyes to her shaggy haired friend.
“That really wasn’t very polite, you know.”
“Yes, I know.” Harry replied, smugly. “But it is quite true, and sometimes you just have to make the truth known.”
Luna nodded sagely.
As breakfast ended, Harry saw two of his favorite people enter the hall. Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin. Harry bade Luna good-bye and went to greet them.
Amelia Bones frowned as she read the note. A beautiful snowy owl had delivered it to her as she was sitting to breakfast. With the previous evening’s disturbance in the Department of Mysteries under investigation, and the Unspeakables doing the investigating, Amelia was fortunate not have to remain at the Ministry all day and all night. Her subordinates on duty would inform her if her presence was needed. In the meanwhile, being an experienced Auror, she took what rest she could, when she could. More importantly, Susan would be home in less than two weeks, and this would be one of the last times she’d eat alone, at least until the fall term began.
The note was vague, warning her of an attack sometime in the early summer and requested an audience with her at her earliest convenience. What really surprised her though, was the urgent request that Albus Dumbledore not be apprised of the meeting. It was signed ‘Harry Potter’, one of those named as suspects in the unauthorized entry of the DoM. Intrigued, she offered Hedwig an acceptance note with a time of meeting in Hogsmeade for noon on the morrow.
“Thank you for waiting. Would you please take this to your mast…” She paused as the owl openly glared at her, clicking her beak and ruffling her feathers in outrage. She’d been about to say ‘your master’, but amended that to: “…to Mister Potter?”
The snowy owl bobbed her head, took the note and departed on silent wings. Amelia chuckled as the prideful familiar flew out the window.
Near lunchtime, Harry was seated on the large rock by the lake, meditating on the force, when Hedwig arrived with a small box and a scroll from Gringotts, and a short note from Amelia Bones telling him she’d meet him at the three Broomsticks at noon the following day. He nodded and smiled for what seemed the first time in years. Scratching Hedwig, in thanks he fed her a treat, walked over to the lake and filled his palms with water for her.
Drinking, from his cupped hands, she warbled her appreciation before taking flight and heading to the owlery for a well-deserved rest.
Alone now, He opened he scroll from Graswold.
Please join me at your convenience to discuss your proposal. These are the documents you will need. Please see to it Madam Bones signs them, and return them at your earliest convenience. The rings in this box are your families’ heritage. They include the Noble and Most Ancient Houses of Black and Potter, and the Most Noble and Most Ancient Founder’s House of Gryffindor. Do not let Dumbledore see the, until you have been accepted by the rings as worthy to assume the responsibilities of those houses, or he will use his positions to take them from you. Each is charmed invisible until you allow the secret out. Stealth, caution and cunning are urged in the face of your enemies.
May your vaults overflow with gold, and may your enemies flee in terror at your approach.
Unified Goblin Hordes.”
This was even better than he’d hoped, though he never knew he was related to Gryffindor. ~Maybe that was what Dumbledore meant when I pulled the sword from the sorting hat.~ He mused.
With Graswold interested in an alliance, and his sending these rings, Harry was already two more steps down the road to freedom! Three, if one counted Madam Bones’ acceptance.
He opened the box. Inside were three large signet rings. The first was a thumbnail sized ruby set into gold. A gold ‘G’ in ornate script, was let into the stone. Around the base of the stone, engraved into the metal bezel, were the words: ‘Qui audet adipiscitur’.
Next, was the Potter ring. He felt his eyes burn, at the family’s signet. It carried an emerald, surprisingly, also in gold, though not as large as the ruby in Gryffindor’s ring. This one had a coat of arms, depicting a knight’s helm, over a banded shield with three, five leafed flowers, on either side of the band. Its bezel carried the words: 'Audaces Fortuna Iuvat'.
The last ring was that of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. It carried what appeared to be a flawless black pearl, of a similar size, with a stylized ‘B’ engraved in the stone. A serpent coiled on either side of the pearl, and the motto: ‘Toujurs Pur’, could be seen where the stone met the metal.
He put the rings on and felt their magic reacting to his own. They were surprisingly comfortable.
Though he could see them, he has no reason to believe Graswold was wrong.
Amelia looked at the young man as he entered ‘The Three Broomsticks’ inn. Rosmerta greeted Harry with a smile, and directed him to sit. Smiling at the greeting, the ebon-haired wizard shook his head and whispered something to her. Rosmerta nodded and pointed toward Amelia’s table.
Harry Potter was somehow ‘different’ than he’d been during that abortion of a trial Fudge had held. During that farce, the boy had been pale and scared, yet willing to face his own expulsion to do the right thing. Fudge had tried to browbeat Potter into an admission of guilt, but the boy had insisted on self-defense, and despite his fear, he’d stuck to his story of dementors being in Little Whinging.
This, followed immediately by Dumbledore’s casually manipulating Fudge into making himself look like an arse, had earned the Minister’s antipathy tenfold. Cornelius did not care to be made to look foolish. Unfortunately it was Harry who was to pay for the Minister’s humiliation.
Using a special code of commonly misspelled words that they’d worked out some years before, Susan had written of the many abuses of power that that Umbridge woman had committed. Despite Fudge’s vehement denials, Amelia knew that they’d tried to conscript the school. She also knew that the primary opponent to their plans was one Harry Potter. Even Dumbledore hadn’t done as much to thwart their plans. She wondered, not for the first time, if the ancient wizard’s loyalties were to the British wizarding community…or to himself.
Umbridge had spent the school year harassing Potter and his friends, and if Susan’s coded letters were to be believed, actually torturing him with an occamy quill! She’d decided then to see to that, when she met with Lord Baron Potter.
Fudge’s colossally stupid refusal to admit to Voldemort’s return had caused so many problems for the wizarding world! Fortunately the debacle of two nights before, in the Ministry atrium had forced him to recant. She understood that there would be a vote of ‘no confidence’ to be held during the next Wizengamot meeting. She absolutely intended to be there! She had also spoken to Dak Graswold of Gringotts bank and asked them to begin a quiet audit of Fudge’s accounts, focusing on any transfers coming from suspected Death Eaters, such as Lucius Malfoy and the corresponding dates of some rather ‘interesting’ and quite biased laws he’d passed. If nothing came of it, she would have to pay a ten thousand-Galleon fine, for besmirching the reputation of a major depositor, but if there was evidence of bribery, not only would she not have to pay the fee; she would actually receive five times that amount from a grateful bank. The goblins despised bribery. They saw it as unworthy and dishonorable…the work of poisoners, betrayers and cowards, and having someone use their bank to conduct such perfidy tarnished their reputations, both as a collective and individually.
Wars had begun over lesser slights.
Now, the young man seemed different. Not just older, or more grown up, but…changed. He was less like a fifth-year student should be, and more like an Auror she’d once trained under. One who’d seen too much in the fight against Grindelwald. Too much death, too much suffering, and far too much sacrifice. Harry’s eyes had the same guarded look.
They’d met, and exchanged pleasantries and such before getting down to business. She mentioned that there was no Hogsmeade weekend planned, so technically he was out of bounds. Harry had simply shrugged, and replied: “I will do as I see necessary in order to ensure the safety of my friends. Speaking of which, you are due to come under attack by Death Eaters, sometime in the early summer. I’d like to give you this.” He handed her a slip of paper. On it was written: ‘Harry Potter lives at #12 Grimmauld Place, London.’
“If you make a portkey to that location, you and Susan will be welcome. The house is under Fidelus, and unplottable. If you make it a two-way portkey, I can ensure you get the aid you need, when you need it.”
“Thank you, Mister Potter. And in return?” Amelia knew one didn’t get something for nothing. She just wondered what this particular ‘something’ would cost her.
“Just Harry, please. Actually I do have a favor to ask of you. It is completely legal and above board, though, rather time consuming through normal channels, and being as how Dumbledore is in control of those channels, he could delay it until two weeks after I’m dead. Be that as may be, this does not in any way affect my offer of sanctuary.” He slid a thin sheaf of parchment across the table to her.
“These are my emancipation papers. Dak Graswold sent them to me this morning. After you’ve looked them over, would you please take the underage magic tracking charm off me?”
Giving the pages a quick scan, Amelia smiled. “Of course. As I can see they’re signed already, I can do that now, if you wish…?” Harry raised his hand and shook his head.
“Let’s make sure everything is strictly on the up and up. Look through the papers first. If there is anything…anything at all, to give anyone cause to challenge your removing the charm, let me know and I will have it settled.”
“As you wish.”
Harry refilled her tea and sat back in quiet contemplation.
Nine minutes later, Amelia set the last page down.
“These are all in order. How did you get your muggle guardians to sign them?
“Five thousand pounds.”
“You bribed them?” Amelia was astonished to hear Harry Potter would sink to that level.
“No, I threatened to drop five thousand pounds of dragon dung on their house.”
If she was astonished before, she was horrified now! “You didn’t!”
“No , I didn't. I bribed them.” He smirked. “I gave them five thousand pounds, in gold. Harry’s grin told her she’d been ‘got’. She began to laugh out loud.
Harry’s next words caused her to erupt into howls. “Of course, I probably shouldn’t have used Leprechaun gold, but after a decade and a half of the treatment they handed me, I don't have a problem with a few relatively harmless pranks. I‘d really love to see how Vernon handles that!
When she’d finished laughing, she gasped: “You’re going to be the death of me! Was that truly necessary?”
“Actually, it shouldn’t have been necessary at all.” Harry intentionally misinterpreted her question. “As the head of my house, I could have foregone that signature entirely, but I decided to do everything I could to ensure ‘Lord Manipulatus’, didn’t interfere.
Oh, yes. Quite. Very well then, hand me your wand, please.”
Harry did so. Amelia ran her wand over his. “Hmmm. There are two separate tracking charms here. One is the ministry charm, but the other one, I don’t recognize.”
“It’s most likely Dumbledore. He likes to know what I’m doing.”
“Any tracking charm beyond the ministry one is illegal.”
“Madam Bones, you and I both know that Albus Dumbledore has only a passing interest in what’s ‘legal’. If he can use something, or more often, someone, an issue of legality is usually the least of his concerns. As Chief of the Wizengamot, I’m pretty sure he can arrange to have such minor matters…disappear.”
“I fear you are correct, mis…erm, Harry.”
“May I see your hand please?” Amelia asked. Harry suddenly became guarded again.
“Why?” Harry drew out the word. He suspected he knew what she wanted, but he really did not wish to look helpless in front of one of the very few ministry officials he truly respected.
“Harry, Susan managed to send me several encoded letters, telling me of some of Delores Umbridge’s illegal activities. Her use of an occamy quill on several students is one of the things she mentioned. You, apparently were the person she used it on the most.”
“Yeah.” Harry held out his hand. On the back etched into his skin was a thin scar forming the words, ‘I must not tell lies.’ Amelia hissed at the scar.
“How many times did you have to write that?”
“Can’t tell you how many times exactly, but I worked it out to be a bit over eighty five hours.”
“Good heavens! Dumbledore did nothing? Minerva?”
“Dumbledore wouldn’t even look at me all year. Professor McGonagall told me before the first time, that Umbitch could assign any detention she wished. After that, I didn’t think I could depend upon her for support. Also, later, when the toad began to issue the Ministry decrees, with the full support of that tosser Fudge, I might add, I figured she would use any objection to her abuses, as an excuse to sack any teacher she didn’t like. McGonagall was near the top of her list.
“Oh, Harry!” Bones sighed.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“It most certainly does matter!” Amelia shot back, more than a bit angry at Harry’s revelations. “Harry, if Delores Umbridge is allowed to get away with such blatant crimes as using a class three dark artifact, specifically that occamy quill, imagine what else she will do. She must be stopped! Not only for you and your friends, but also for the rest of the British wizarding world!”
“She has the protection of the minister. He knew what she was doing. Maybe not the specifics, but he gave her the authority to override any teacher in the school, he gave her permission to turn Hogwarts into a literal prison camp with the Inquisitorial Squad, made up entirely of the children of Death Eaters, by…the…way…” Harry broke off, deep in thought.
“What is it, Harry?”
“Well, I’m not a hundred percent certain, but since all the members of her Inquisitorial Squad are, without exception, the children of Death Eaters, wouldn’t that indicate she knows the Death Eaters? Maybe…personally? Maybe as a…how shall we say…‘friend’ to them?”
“Do you think she’s marked?” Bones asked, hoping to find something on the toadlike woman.
“No. I’ve seen her flabby, cottage cheese arms far too often to suit me. They’re disgusting as hell, but there’s no mark there. Snape has one, but she doesn’t.”
“Maybe she’s an unmarked supporter.”
“She likely is, but unfortunately, that’s not a crime…well, not a crime that we can prosecute, I should have said.”
Harry chuckled. “I understood what you meant. It’s too bad the Minister is such a good supporter. As long as he protects her, she can get away with whatever she wants.”
“That won’t be a problem much longer, my friend. Minister Fudge is due to go before the Wizengamot on the third Tuesday of next month. There is a vote of ‘no confidence’ scheduled, and I for one, intend to be there. I feel you should attend as well. Your two seats could make all the difference.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I hold three seats. Potter, Black and Gryffindor.”
Amelia was stunned. There hadn’t been a holder of the hereditary seat of any of the house founders for hundreds of years. Even Voldemort, who claimed to be the last descendent of Slytherin did not hold a seat. Of course that could be because he was an insane terrorist, but still…
“May I see them?”
Harry sighed and extended his hand again. Now there were three signets there. Amelia passed her wand over each ring, testing its authenticity. Each was genuine. Suddenly she began to chuckle.
Puzzled, Harry raised an eyebrow in question.
“Forgive me, Harry. I was just thinking about the reactions of all the old pureblood families, when they learn that one lone person, a half blood at that, can trump them all!”
Harry still didn’t understand so she went on.
“Harry, those three rings you wear, make you the single most powerful person, politically speaking, in Great Britain. You alone hold five percent of the Wizengamot in your hands. Your votes must be taken seriously, and since you hold three of ‘The Noble and Most Ancient Houses’, with one of them being a ‘Most Noble and Most Ancient Founder’s House’ you literally could force the rest of them, due to family alliances, vassalage and oaths of loyalty or succor, to vote the way you want. I would have to say with those three rings, you could easily control sixty to seventy percent of the Wizengamot.”
Harry grinned evilly. Bones paled, and added quickly: “Please, Harry. Don’t destabilize our government on a whim.”
“Not even just little bit?” Harry mock-pouted, holding his fingers about a half-inch apart.
“Don’t worry, Madam Bones. I have no intention of interfering unless I think I absolutely must. I do hope I can come to you for advice, though.”
“My door will always be open to you, Harry.”
Thank you. Now, I suppose you have some questions for me?”
Amelia did. She pulled out a small parcel from her robes, and returned it to its normal size. Opening it, she withdrew a wrapped roll of parchment with a red seal around it certifying its ‘untampered’ status, and a new box, also sealed and marked: ‘Quick Quotes’, the finest in verbatim recording’.
Harry narrowed his eyes, immediately recalling Rita Skeeter’s acid green quill. Amelia recognized the look and held up her hand to placate him.
“Harry, this is nothing like Skeeter’s. Her quill is one of the first ever made. That batch was faulty. As soon as the defects became known, Jacoby Scrivenshaft recalled the whole lot of them. Unfortunately, she’d gotten hers by then. She liked the way it always put her in the best light, and so, she kept it. Since then, the quill has imbued itself with her personality. That is what makes it such a noisome thing, not it’s origin. These have been purchased by my quartermaster, checked thoroughly for spells and ‘personality traits’ before being resealed and either stored under the tightest of security or issued. I will offer an oath to that effect if you wish.”
“No.” Harry shook his head. “Thank you, but that’s not necessary. Your word is good enough for me.”
“Thank you for that, Harry.” Bones smiled proudly. “I cannot say how much I appreciate your faith.”
“You were the only one during my ‘trial’…” Harry lifted his fingers, pantomiming quote marks. “… who was interested in doing something other than hanging me. Fudge and his pet toad, wanted to hush up any news of Voldemort’s return. Most of the others were in it to see what they could gain. I was lucky. They could have decided that backing Fudge was more to their advantage. Now the wizarding world has no choice but to accept that Dumbledore and I were telling the truth. Those who voted against me, can claim they were swayed by the evidence, or they were taken in by Fudge’s rhetoric and the ones who voted in my favor, can make themselves look good by claiming they saw it back when.”
Disgusted by the actions of her peers, but impressed by Harry’s understanding of the realities of internecine politics, Amelia could only nod.
A long discussion followed, with Amelia gently questioning, and Harry answering to the best of his ability. During this time, Harry also expressed his suspicions about Rufus Scrimgeour. Amelia nodded her head in understanding. Rufus was a very good Auror but his sympathies were clearly in line with those of the Blood-purists. He may oppose Voldemort, but how far would he press the issue?
At around five they finished up and Harry stood, extending his hand to Amelia. Feeling a flush rise, as she hadn’t been ‘handed up’ since she was a young woman, and still had many years before she would need to be ‘assisted’. She took his hand and rose, giving his hand a hard squeeze, to let him know, in no uncertain terms, that she was by no means infirm. His apologetic smile told her that her unspoken warning had been understood. Like a true gentleman, Harry tactfully changed the subject as he directed her to the doorway.
“What do you have to do to make the portkey?”
“Well, I really should be there. Making a portkey into an unknown destination is always dangerous, and can be fatal.”
“OK. Can you apparate us to London? I haven’t a license.”
“I’ll arrange that immediately. As an emancipated minor, you can apply for the testing and license…especially considering you are the head of three houses. This trip will take several legs. It’s almost five hundred miles. I’ll have to side-along you, and that is rather draining.”
“Can you tap into my magic?”
“Harry I really don’t think…”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Scan my magic. See if it is enough to take us there. If not, we’ll catch the Knight Bus.”
Hesitantly, Amelia complied. Scanning another’s magic was considered to be a social faux pas, of the worst sort. It had begun hundreds of years before, as a schoolboy’s prank to show who was the magically stronger. The prank had devolved into a direct insult, and that frequently led to duels. When dueling was outlawed, the practice also fell into disuse. Now only healers ever did it. Or sometimes those who had the family backing to insult with impunity. Susan had once reported that Draco Malfoy had openly ‘scanned’ Hermione Granger as an insult…and came away looking pale and extremely frightened.
“My Heavens!” Amelia was astounded. Harry Potter was the single most powerful individual she’d ever seen! Even Dumbledore didn’t have this much raw power!
“I take it that means I have enough to get us there?” He grinned impishly.
“Well, yes. If you want to go by way of South America!” Amelia returned dryly.
Harry laughed. “Naah! I don’t like South America. Too hot, too muggy.”
“You’ve been there?”
“Erm …no!” Harry cast his eyes heavenward and feigned innocence. Amelia chuckled. “How do you want to proceed?”
“Well, since you’ve never been to my place, I think we should go to Kings Cross and hoof it from there. It’s about a twenty minute walk.”
“I have a better idea. If you will think clearly of a place nearer than Kings Cross, I can pull it from your mind and place it into mine. Then I’ll know where to go.”
“Sort of like a pensieve?”
“Basically, yes. But this is a direct transfer.”
“OK, that sounds good. Ummm. OK. I’ve got it.”
Amelia placed her wand tip to Harry’s temple and extracted a thin silvery strand, and carefully transferred it to her own head. She blinked a moment to allow the memory to settle, before removing it and returning it to Harry.
“Well then shall we be off? As the muggles say: “You provide the petrol and I’ll steer.”
“Oh yes, yes, yes, yes! Let’s do!” Harry aped some cartoon gophers he’d glimpsed on the telly once. Dudley had laughed insanely at their outrageous accents, until he learned that the accent was from Oxford. Suddenly he didn’t like them so much. Vernon had told him once, that all the people who went to Oxford were hippies who smoked marihuana and would never amount to anything. Decent, hardworking men, took their schooling elsewhere.
Amelia laughed and they left the inn. Outside, they joined hands and in an instant, they were standing on the corner of Marquette Street and Grimmauld Place. Amelia Bones stumbled forward. She’d never apparated so far in one go, and using Harry’s magic had made it so very easy to do, that she’d misjudged her landing.
“All right there?” His hand rested gently on her shoulder.
“Yes, quite. Just a bit of a misstep.”
Albus Dumbledore was concerned. Harry had not been behaving in the manner he’d expected. When he’d shown his pawn the prophecy, Harry had exploded with the expected rage, destroying many of Dumbledore’s monitors on the wizarding world, coincidentally including all the ones he had attuned to Harry himself. Those would take quite some time to repair. He’d also damaged priceless mementos of glories past, in the process. He would, of course, have to be punished for that.
The next day, however, he had returned to normal, though with a look of intense distrust and even contempt in his eye whenever he saw Albus. His little tantrum in the great hall had been embarrassing at best, but his outright defiance could not be tolerated! Albus would have to do something about that. He penned a quick letter to Vernon Dursley, telling him that should Harry get out of hand, even slightly, he was to ‘discipline’ him in any manner he saw fit…the harsher, the better. That way, when he arrived at the end of the summer to ‘rescue’ him, Harry would be properly grateful.
He made a mental note to inform Ronald Weasley and Miss Granger, that they were not to contact Harry at all. The mudblood would follow his instructions due to the compulsions she was under, but Ronald’s family magic would detect those. He’d need a reason.
“Fawkes.” He called the Phoenix. “What reason can I give Ronald Weasley for not contacting Harry Potter this summer?”
Fawkes just looked disgusted and vanished in a ball of flame, leaving a puzzled Dumbledore behind.
Three days before they left Hogwarts, Harry met Hermione in the hospital wing and subtly probed her with his newly discovered force abilities. Sure enough, there was a group of behavioral compulsions. He concentrated and implanted the ‘suggestion’ in her mind that someone had placed compulsions on her, and which books would have more information. That done, he withdrew from her mind. In the conversation that followed, he’d asked her what she knew about compulsions, thus cementing the ‘suggestion’. Hermione had immediately begun to emote on the various compulsive spells she knew about, all of which were considered to be horribly coercive magic, almost on the level of the Imperius curse. Some were even darker.
As she lectured, Hermione had a nasty thought. ‘My behavior has been off for a while. I wonder if anybody has managed to place a compulsion on me?’ She decided to go to McGonagall for advice, as soon as Madam Pomfrey released her.
Harry asked Madam Pince for information on compulsions, and protections against them. When the extremely busy librarian replied: “Those books are in the restricted section. You’ll need a teacher’s permission to go in there.”
He’d focused hard on the force, waved his hand to distract her and replied: “I don’t need a teacher’s permission. The books I want have only been misfiled. Please go and get them for me.”
Madam Pince entered the restricted section and brought back the books Harry wanted. “These appear to have been misfiled, Mister Potter. I’ll have to look through the stacks to ensure there are no more like these in the wrong places. You may have them until you leave the castle but they must be returned before then.”
Harry gestured again. “I’ll be needing them for the rest of the summer.”
“You’ll be wanting them for the summer, then?”
“Yes, thank you.” Harry picked up the books and stuffed them into his carryall. Before he left the library, he again waved his hand and sent another force nudge at the librarian. “I came in, returned all my books, wished you a good summer, and departed.”
When she had repeated his instruction, Harry smiled in satisfaction and left the librarian to her duties.
Hedwig arrived at the fifth year boy’s dorm to find Harry penning another missive. He looked up at her as she flew in.
“Hello, Hedwig!” He greeted her with an outstretched arm. The snowy owl alit on the extended limb and chirruped happily. Her bonded was in much better spirits than he’d been in for most of the year. Perhaps he’d finally admitted to himself his feelings for the female with the nest on her head. She absently began to try to straighten his hair…a futile gesture, she knew. Harry gently scratched under her feathers and together they each tried to make the other feel loved.
After several minutes of mutual grooming, Hedwig shook her head and hopped off her human. She looked pointedly at the parchment Harry had been writing to and then back to Harry.
“Let me get this finished and then I have some special instructions for you. OK?”
Hedwig bobbed her head and waited.
Harry signed the parchment and sealed it into the heavy envelope before looking his familiar in the eyes. “Hedwig, you are in grave danger here. Dumbledore is responsible for that danger, and so, I’d like you to go to Hermione’s place and stay there until I call for you. I’ve asked her to take care of you for the time being. If you return here, or head to Privet Drive, Dumbledore would be able to take control over you and he’d use you to control me. I cannot have that. Do you understand?”
Hedwig bobbed and let out a chirp. She understood precisely what her bonded was saying. She’d never trusted the ancient one with the twinkly eyes. Her instinct was to flee whatever place he nested, for he would surely hunt and eat her! Only the fact that the sacred one tolerated his presence in his nest, kept Hedwig…bonded to Harry or not, from doing just that. She could always wait for his need in the forest surrounding the castle. There, the ancient one held little sway.
Harry tied the letter to her leg and with a final ruffle of her feathers, she departed. Harry breathed a sigh of relief that his friend and familiar was safe, at least for the time being.
Harry was walking down the hallway to thank Professor McGonagall once more for her able assistance in his project, when Filch stepped out from behind a statue.
“What’re ye doin’ here, Potter?” He snarled. “Up t’ no good, most like!” I think I’ll jes take ye to Pr’fess’r Snape…f’r some old fashioned punishment!”
Harry looked the misanthropic squib in the eye and leaned into the force. “You are a mouse. Mrs. Norris is going to eat you!”
“A’hm a mouse. M’s Norris is gonna eat me!” Filch’s last few words were screamed in terror. He turned and ran from the hallway as fast as he possibly could with Mrs. Norris following closely behind. Harry smirked as the caretaker’s panicked screeches sounded throughout the school.
Luna popped out of a doorway. “Harry, the force in not to be trifled with.”
“I know, Luna. I’m sorry. Should I go and set things straight?”
“Well, let’s not be too hasty, Harry. I’m sure it’ll wear off…in time.” Luna smiled and skipped off in the direction of the Great Hall.
A/N: ‘Qui audet adipiscitur’: He who dares, wins.
‘Audaces fortuna iuvat’: Fortune favors the bold.
‘Toujurs Pur’: We got money so we’re better than you are. Erm…‘always pure.’
Yes, I have made Harry very, very powerful, but it's only the result of his natural power growing under the constraints of the now-removed binding. He'll have it but he won't be using it a lot, preferring to use the force.
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