Chapter 9: Lessons in Time
Wed, 10 Dec 1986
As I've told you previously, I am leaving for the winter holidays shortly. Since I'll be on the continent visiting family for the next several weeks, I assume you will have already made any alternate arrangements you feel necessary for keeping an eye on young Harry by now.
As usual, I watched Harry walk home from school today and from what I could see, he seemed fine. It was a little windy out there, but you know how December weather can be. My windows appear to be leaking again, so I'll have to get Mundungus by again to fix them. Could you ask him if you see him first?
The Dursleys never go anywhere for vacation. They spend all their time in that boring Muggle house. If you need to use my house while I'm away, you know the way in and where everything is kept - you've stopped by often enough I daresay.
I'll be leaving tonight by Floo. I'll let you know when I'm back here in Little Whinging, which should be around 11 Jan.
Happy holidays to you and Minerva,
Tue, 13 Oct 1987
It was a brisk morning, the temperature just shy of 10 degrees Celsius, in the coastal town of Brighton. Shortly past the full moon, Remus Lupin was a tired man, but his need to resume work was driving him on. Bills and hunger wait for no man.
Remus kept his coat pulled close about his shoulders as he slowly walked down the road, frustrated by the way his life had turned sour in the years since his school days. During the latter months of the war, the Ministry of Magic, being what it was, had requested werewolves - well, those not working for Voldemort - to register. It was innocuous enough - register your name, occupation, and provide a magical saliva sample, so they would know if you bit anyone. There was prattle about tracking the curse through the saliva samples in the Department of Mysteries, but within a few months, the registration went from voluntary to mandatory.
The briefcase he carried was worn around the edges, his once carefully embossed and proudly shining name was now slowly starting to fade with the passing years. His clothes, while serviceable and proper, were a bit on the thin side, his face drawn and his frame wiry, a hint of grey in his hair at the temples despite his young age.
By the end of the war, werewolves were regulated Dark Creatures and restrictions were placed on where they could live, travel to, and even with whom they could interact. After the fall of Voldemort and during the subsequent round-up of his supporters, the Ministry had even pushed limitations on what jobs werewolves could hold in the magical community.
The Primary school he was walking towards was much like most Junior schools in the Muggle education system of England. While not a particularly attractive building, it did have a playground of sorts behind it. The Year 3 class he was supply teaching for, since the normal instructor was out sick, would be a refreshing change of pace. Lately, he had been called on to supply teach older students. With the imminent passing of the Education Reform Act, the determination to do well on the draft national assessment tests was driving many of the instructors for upper years somewhat loony. Schools were starting to emphasize test scores in their impending free market competition to garner the best students.
This school was on the north-western edge of the town, where the population was less dense. As was normal in his line of work, he tried to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the start of the day. He needed to orient himself with the building, look over the detailed lesson plan and any prospectus the regular instructor left behind, and familiarize himself with the room and materials. Teaching a group of students who seldom left one classroom was easier and at the same time more challenging than teaching students who shifted from room to room nearly every hour. On the one hand, getting to know and joke around with the students was a much simpler task. On the other, problem children would be there throughout the day, and if the tone of respect and authority was not set up from the start, problems would develop quickly.
Being only able to work three out of every four weeks, as well as being virtually banned from the magical community, left Remus with few options to make a living. He had always leaned towards more scholarly activities, despite his occasional penchant for mischief, and supply teaching was the only job he had found that he could maintain. While the pay was less than stellar, he earned enough to get by. It also left him free to spend his evenings on his own pursuits, as grading papers and devising new lesson plans seldom took up much of his time. He was, in essence, a paid senior student who rode herd with the younger ones. Overall, he found that the pay was comparable with most temporary jobs he had held through the years, but the rewards were far better.
He also found it fortunate that the Ministry of Magic was so short-sighted when it came to Muggles. Their tendency to treat Muggles as merely intelligent animals and their lack of restrictions on his living among them fashioned his haven of opportunity. In reality, they probably failed to understand that someone might prefer to be with the Muggles. After all, why live there if you cannot use your magic around them?
After identifying himself, the administrative assistant escorted him to the room of Mr. Timothy Joy, who, Remus was informed, would be out for the rest of the week. Could Remus possibly fill in for Mr. Joy all week? Remus had been more than happy to accept the offer; it was an easy commute from his flat in Brixton, which was less than an hour by the rail. The administrative assistant shook his hand and left Remus to go over the lesson plan and materials he would need for the day.
For a werewolf, Brixton was an interesting place to live, a lot of diversity and enough hints of danger to keep you on your toes in the southern London suburb. Tensions did not run as high since the riots a few years back, but events could still spin out of control quickly. That was partially why he enjoyed getting a call to leave the city for someplace nearby, and it happened often enough since there was a current shortage of teachers. Brighton was a little further afield than normal, but it would be a pleasant diversion for the week. Completing his preparations, Remus took some time to enjoy the sight of children running around outside his window and lost himself in thought.
Despite the fact that the Ministry's efforts had left him without hope of a job in the magical community, Remus had still retained ties with other wizards, especially with his closest friend, Sirius Black. Remus was crushed when Sirius was unmasked as the traitor responsible for the deaths of Remus' other primary ties in the wizarding world, and duly sentenced and shipped to Azkaban. Suddenly bereft of his closest friends, Remus had withdrawn fully from the magical world and only made intermittent contact, primarily through Albus Dumbledore.
Remus' complete excommunication from the magical world had been precipitated by a drunken rage on 15 Jan 1987, coincidentally the night of the full moon. The day before, he had received the shocking information that Harry Potter, the only son of his best friend James and his wife Lily, was missing and presumed dead since no trace of him could be found. Remus had been torn apart by guilt when he found out that the boy had suffered from years of large-scale abuse at the hands of his Muggle relatives. It had been little consolation to know that the Dursleys had been arrested and imprisoned for their crimes over a month prior to Harry's disappearance. Remus felt that he had personally betrayed the memory of James, and especially that of Lily, the only woman with whom he ever felt genuinely comfortable. He had loved Lily like the sister he was denied when his family could no longer accept his condition.
Harry Potter. Harry James Potter. An innocent happy boy, almost murdered, rescued, abused, and finally, lost. The Muggles had a freak accident, and the records of what happened to Harry were nowhere to be found, lost in a fire. The only person who knew where Harry went was dead. And no magical creature, neither owl nor phoenix, could find him. Scrying attempts only resulted in mist-filled and cloudy crystal balls. It was as if Harry had never existed, which meant only one thing - the child Remus had secretly wished he had been allowed to raise, the child the Ministry prevented him from even seeing, was dead.
All the bottled up fury at the way life had treated him exploded out of Remus at the loss of Harry James Potter.
Drunk out of his mind on Firewhisky and without the benefit of wolfsbane potion, Remus had sought out Dumbledore in Hogsmeade that Sunday evening, raging at the man's negligence and lack of compassion. The confrontation between the half-crazed werewolf and the most powerful wizard alive was nothing short of fantastic, the outcome of which was that Remus had been cast out, and the Hog's Head pub had needed to be rebuilt, using considerable magic, almost from the ground up. As for Dumbledore himself, the effort had left him limping for the next couple of days and there was an impressive scar across his back for the rest of his life.
In retrospect, Remus was glad that Albus had not only tossed him from the pub, but that the fight also drained his strength before his transformation. It left him to wander the Forbidden Forest freely, howling his misery at the sky and anything unfortunate enough to cross his path. When Monday morning rolled around, Remus had clearly remembered Albus' warning to not return the prior evening. Thus, Remus collected his few possessions left in the magical world, and struck out for Muggle London, determined to never return to the people who had taken away everything and everyone he ever valued or loved. It would be hard, but he would find a way to make life work for him again. Somehow. Somewhere. Firewhisky could dull the pain for a short period of time, but never erase the loss.
Shaking himself from his reverie, Remus settled down and waited for the students to arrive and seat themselves, keeping one eye on the clock. Younger students of the first primary schools had seldom yet developed the hardened attitude toward replacement teachers that older students seemed uniformly endowed with. With these younger classes, Remus would actually be able to enjoy teaching again, instead of being a glorified baby sitter trying to keep the students under some modicum of control.
As the bell rang to signify the start of the school day, Remus stood up and cleared his throat briefly to garner everyone's attention. "Good morning, everyone. Your usual lecturer, Mr. Joy, is out -- apparently for the rest of the week, due to an illness. His doctor has placed him on bedrest. I will be filling in for him for the remainder of this week. My name is Remus Lupin."
Glancing around the classroom, he saw the usual mixture of students paying attention, students not quite awake, and students rough-housing a bit.
"Mr. Joy left me detailed lesson plans and agendas, and yes, your reports are still due tomorrow. No extensions will be allowed." Chuckling at the groan that ran through the room, Remus was certain that at least one or two students had yet to start the project which had been apparently assigned weeks ago. "Now, let me take the roll and try to learn who you all are, before we start off with the mathematics quiz I've been asked to administer."
When another groan rose from the students, Remus had to roll his eyes. "That was a hint, by the way. Those of you who have suddenly discovered that they have forgotten to do something important like homework or study, the time I spend taking the roll should be enough for you to brush up on anything you might feel needs your attention."
Pulling out the enrollment sheet, Remus began reading off the names and making a tick next to those students present. "Ansley, Mark David?" He continued down the list, not paying too much attention to what the students were doing as long as they were quiet. He called out names as well as he could. The immigrant influx always made pronouncing some names rather difficult. He was just over half-way down the list, when -
"Potter, Harry James?" It was right after he read the name that he heard bells ringing in the back of his head. He jerked his eyes up to see a pale young boy with messy black hair and green eyes that seemed too bright, raise his hand. Remus felt his throat go dry and his heart race. This boy must be the child of Lily and James. Completely unaware that his face had become deathly pale, Remus stared at Harry long enough to make the boy shift uncomfortably in his seat.
Realizing that the entire class was now also looking curiously at the two of them, Remus shook his head to regain his composure. He glanced at Harry. "I apologize, Mr. Potter, you remind me of someone I once knew." His voice was nearly normal. Nearly. Looking back to the enrollment sheet, Remus kept his eyes averted from Harry as much as he could.
By the time the lunch hour had arrived, Remus was mentally and emotionally exhausted. He felt as if he was making Herculean efforts to avoid looking at Harry beyond what was strictly required, and clearly Harry was picking up on his discomfort. He seemed nervous, on edge, and twitched whenever Remus came near him. Deprived of his werewolf senses when not transformed, he felt a brief moment of regret that he could not simply sniff the air to determine Harry's mood.
Dismissing the students for lunch, he watched them file out before calling to Harry who was in the middle of the pack. "Mr. Potter, a word with you, if you please?" He tried to keep his voice calm, although his heart was beginning to race again.
Harry slowly shuffled to stand in front of the teacher's desk, his gaze trained on the table rather than at Remus.
Coughing momentarily to get his throat working again, Remus thought the best approach would be to apologize. Then he could find out if this really was the Harry James Potter he thought it must be. "Harry, I'm sorry for making you uncomfortable earlier. I would like to explain, if I may? It might be a little awkward." Remus was finding it difficult to control his voice, his fear and excitement warring with each other for dominance.
Harry risked a brief glance at Remus before nodding slightly.
"Harry, many years ago I was close friends with two people who share your name. James Potter and Lily Potter. Unfortunately, they died nearly eight years ago." Seeing no reaction from Harry, Remus began to doubt that this was the child of James and Lily, but he needed to be certain.
"They had a son, Harry Potter, whom I had thought was lost forever. When I read your name and saw how much you look like James, it shocked me. I suppose you wouldn't know whom I'm talking about, would you?" Remus tried for a patient tone, but the hint of a squeak kept creeping into his voice.
Harry shook his head. "I never knew my parents, sir. They died when I was a baby. I live with my foster carers now."
Remus felt his hopes die quietly. "So you've been with your foster carers all along then? I'm sorry, Harry, if this has upset you. I guess you're not the Harry I was thinking of."
Harry stood there for a moment longer before shaking his head again. "No, sir." His voice was very quiet. "I lived with my Aunt Petunia until last winter." His gaze still averted, Harry failed to notice the shock on Remus' face.
Sun, 3 Sep 1995, 21:47
The first conscious thought Harry had upon waking was that whoever was shaking his shoulder was asking for a world of pain to be delivered to them by express post as soon as he could find a box big enough. He felt as if several small trolls were inside his body, each smashing away with a ball-pin hammer at a particularly sensitive location or directly in his brain.
The second conscious thought Harry had upon waking was that despite the pain and the irritating shaking, he was wearing perhaps the singularly most unpleasant outfit he had ever encountered. It felt as if it was made from proverbial camel hair, and he realized that he itched in ways that would undoubtedly haunt his wildest nightmares in the future.
The third conscious thought Harry had upon waking was that if he failed to open his eyes and threaten bodily harm upon whoever was shaking him, he might not survive to harm them later. The pain they were inducing with their shaking was making him re-evaluate just how small the trolls and their hammers were.
"What?" he croaked without opening his eyes, certain that actually seeing any light would only make the throbbing in his head worse, if that were possible.
"Mr. Potter," a brusque female voice was saying far too loudly for comfort. "You must take this potion. It will reduce the pain so we can try to treat you."
Somehow the idea of being treated seemed wholly inappropriate. Buried or cremated seemed more palatable options at the moment. Vaguely curious as to what his cause of death would actually be, he gathered his strength to find out a little more. "'S'rong with me?"
With a huff, the woman gave up shaking him, much to Harry's immense relief. "'What isn't?' would be the better question. You've got more broken bones and burns and holes about you than one of Hagrid's pets' toys. You're in for an unpleasant evening, I believe. Will you drink this now?"
Deciding that whatever was being offered was less likely to induce more pain than what he was already enjoying, he just opened his mouth and let her pour the concoction down. Fighting the urge to gag and spit up what liquefied dragon dung must taste like, Harry tried to breathe deeply only to find his entire chest objected to that idea. With a groan escaping his lips, Harry resigned himself for what had already qualified as an unpleasant evening.
"We'll just give that a moment to take the edge off the pain, Mr. Potter," the entirely too chipper voice continued to talk at him. Harry could hear things moving around, but it really just meant that she was manipulating body parts, and none too gently, much to his dismay. Broken bones? That was obvious from the pain levels. Burns? Not again. Holes? Where had the holes come from? And for that matter, why exactly was he in this place? There was something on the edge, just out of reach, something important...
"Feeling better?" The owner of the voice was so close to his ear that it startled him. His left arm reflexively shot out to knock the person away, or rather, his left arm lifted about four inches off the bed before it felt like someone had rammed a white-hot iron poker into his shoulder. Grunting from the pain, Harry tried to relax as his muscles tensed involuntarily to try to prevent any additional movement.
"Well, you must be since you're trying to move. Do try to hold still, Mr. Potter."
Harry was beginning to truly hate that voice, certain that as soon as he was able, he would make sure that the owner of the voice would learn to be quiet, dignified, and use very few words. "'r'am I?" His voice seemed to be working, if a bit on the harsh side, but the effort of making himself heard more clearly set his lungs on fire.
"St. Mungo's, Mr. Potter. I'm Healer Andrews." Whatever the chipper voice was doing, the sounds of things coming closer to his bed let him know his rest time was almost over. "You came in with eight other bodies from some battle. The others are being looked over presently. Headmaster Dumbledore and your school nurse came along with a few others; I haven't seen them since I graduated, oh, three years ago now. This is a right mess, I'll tell you, nine bodies, blood everywhere..."
"Battle?" Harry tried to ask quietly.
The hand was back on his shoulder, shaking him slightly. "Open your eyes, Mr. Potter. I need to check you." Resigned to the situation, Harry opened his eyes and felt unpleasant sensations run through him, his stomach roiling from the overwhelming sensory inputs. A bright light was flashed into each of Harry's eyes. The fuzzy figure that owned the voice muttered quietly to herself. "Right, that's definite head trauma, both clavicles compound fractured, most ribs hairline fractured, both legs compound, and right arm compound..." She switched to waving her wand in complex motions while slowly moving around his bed. "Mmmm, punctures across left hip and thigh, upper back, pierced cavity there... first-degree over face, chest, and legs... second-degree over hands and arms..."
Harry felt his consciousness wavering as she rattled off hints about the extent of his injuries. He was still mildly confused as to why he had been in a fight, let alone a battle.
"Well, then, Mr. Potter... we'll have you right as rain shortly, but I'm afraid you'll have to stay until the early morning hours so that the Skele-Grow can finish its job. I've got a set of potions and salves you'll need, so let me get started."
Mon, 4 Sep 1995, 00:12
Harry found it impossible to sleep or think much, as the Skele-Grow was slowly driving him insane. His admittedly attractive Healer had finally given up on getting anything other than a sour demeanor from him and she had finally left him alone.
Most of the pain was gone, although the tingling and shifting sensations along with occasional flashes of sharp pain were signs that his bones were still repairing themselves. While not his absolutely least favorite medical potion, Skele-Grow was easily somewhere in the top five.
The door to his private room swung open, admitting Dumbledore and Auror Shacklebolt. While the tall Auror was impassive as always, Dumbledore's shadowed eyes and grave expression gave Harry a moment's pause. The Headmaster placed Floppy on the nightstand, along with Harry's wand, recovered from the battle. Floppy looked a little worse for the wear.
Dumbledore conjured a plush chair to sit on and coolly regarded Harry for a long minute. "Mr. Potter, we find ourselves in a difficult situation. I have three dead students, and one more not expected to survive the night. I have three more students who have various levels of injury but will live. I have a staff member who has lost his left hand, and it cannot be restored. I need to know what happened."
Harry gave a weak half smile. "As do I, Headmaster."
Albus stared at Harry, dumbfounded. "Are you saying you have no recollection of events?"
Harry would have shrugged, but the limits of his pain threshold had long since been exceeded. "Oh, I remember talking in your office about my schedule, maybe even something about tutoring. The next thing I can recall is feeling like I tried to drink a goblin under the table and stupidly won. Did they not tell you what my injuries were?"
Albus gave a brief nod. "They did mention you had sustained a head injury, but they were unclear as to what the extent of the injury might entail." He paused to watch as Harry slowly and painfully straightened his leg. "Did you have your sensory monitor on, Harry?"
Harry smiled faintly. "It would be in my clothes, wherever they are, and yes, it was on."
"Excellent!" said Dumbledore as he rose and moved to the wardrobe in the corner. "Usually, Harry, they place your possessions in here if you arrive unable to take care of yourself." Dumbledore retrieved a set of clothes and placed them at the foot of the bed.
Harry recognized all the clothing as his, although he was somewhat shocked to see the dull stain marks all over the robes. "You're looking for a small pouch that would have been around my neck under the clothes, sir. It should be a dark green in color." Dumbledore rifled through the small pile, and Harry was pleased when the Headmaster pulled the pouch out and set it aside, returning the clothes to the wardrobe.
Dumbledore picked up the pouch and loosened the drawstrings, upending the bag into his palm. However, instead of a shiny silver orb, a collection of dull grey fragments that once made up a sensory monitor tinkled gently onto the old wizard's hand. Studying the fragments closely, Dumbledore flicked his wand, quietly saying, "Reparo!"
Harry sighed, drawing the attention of both the Headmaster and the Auror. "They can't be repaired. They are designed to be irrevocably destroyed once broken. The intent was that before a monitor could be lost, the holder could smash it, and no one would find out what had been on it, since it takes too long to just erase it in an emergency."
Shacklebolt looked surprised at Harry. "How do you know this? And why don't I?" Again, Harry was surprised at the moderate and slightly melodic voice for the large man. He would almost swear that Kingsley was from someplace other than the British Isles.
"I know the inventors."
Dumbledore placed the fragments on the table before looking back at Harry. "Would you let me past your shields, Harry, so that I might try to locate the memories we need to see? And perhaps, see how we might repair the damage you sustained?"
Harry contemplated the ceiling for several minutes before finally shaking his head. "I'm sorry, but no. There are too many things I want kept private that you would easily and most certainly come across."
Shacklebolt stirred slightly. "Mr. Potter, we need to know what happened. The only ones able to tell us anything don't know how the battle started, and they claim that they only arrived at the very end of it. We have several devastated families out there, and this incident will not be swept under any rug. There isn't even a rug large enough for this mess." His gaze was neutral, but the tone of the Auror's voice suggested that Harry get over himself and let Dumbledore do what he wanted.
Floppy suddenly sat up on the nightstand. "I can help, I believe," the hat announced.
Shacklebolt was clearly shocked that the hat was talking outside of a sorting, whereas Harry and Dumbledore just looked curious. Noticing the Auror's perplexed stare, Dumbledore waved his hand at Harry and Floppy. "The two of them like to chat with each other."
Harry smirked briefly at the Auror before looking back at the hat. "How now, Floppy?"
If anything, Shacklebolt's surprise became complete when he heard the hat's name. Floppy, however, ignored the Auror. "Recall, Mr. Potter, what I said about my purpose for existing."
Harry could feel the light in his brain. "I do. You mean you can take an active hand in things as well?"
Floppy almost sounded smug. "It's not much good to just listen, now is it, Mr. Potter?"
Harry was thoughtful for a moment, counting ceiling tiles before he found the flaw in the situation. "Err, Floppy, I thought you couldn't see into my head because of my shields?"
"I can't, Mr. Potter. But you now know enough to trust me with your confidences, do you not?" Dumbledore seemed quite surprised by this comment.
Harry continued to study the ceiling. "Errr, no offense Floppy, but I'm not real keen on you looking around in my head either."
Floppy was unperturbed. "Is there anyone that you do trust, Mr. Potter?" The hat could not have made it plainer that it expected a resounding 'no' in response.
"Of course. Unfortunately, he can't come here, and I doubt I'd be allowed to go someplace private considering the circumstances."
Shacklebolt nodded while observing, "Correct."
"Well, Mr. Potter," Floppy continued patiently. "Shall it be the Headmaster or I that takes a look inside that head of yours? Think about what I've already been through."
Harry had to grudgingly admit that Floppy had a point. "Alright, then, Floppy." Harry politely looked at the Headmaster and the Auror. "If you would both excuse us..." The two men got up to leave the room.
"Oh, and Headmaster, if you would be so kind as to place Floppy on my head and my wand in my hand?" Dumbledore did so and followed Shacklebolt into the corridor.
Harry paused to lock the door and place imperturbable and perimeter charms throughout the room. Relaxing his mind, Harry slowly took his way down to the basic Level One shields he had learned years before.
Floppy was silent for almost a minute, before exclaiming, "My word!"
Mon, 4 Sep 1995, 01:58
After restoring his Level Five shields, Harry released all the protections on the room before calling out for the Headmaster to return. Sitting back, Harry was relieved that he had almost normal use of his arms again, and breathing was much easier. His left leg was all that seemed to still be healing, and now that his memories were accessible again, Harry very much wanted out of the hospital and out of the clothes he was currently wearing. He desperately needed to find the right people and talk to them.
Dumbledore and Shacklebolt came back almost immediately, Dumbledore returning to his chair and the Auror to his spot on the wall. Dumbledore looked carefully at Harry before asking the question that was written plainly on his face. "And was Floppy able to return your memories?"
Harry nodded, keeping his face as expressionless as he could manage. "I understand that he's not exactly returning them, more like finding them, and then showing me how to access them again. I know what happened, and I know I was ambushed and defended myself."
Dumbledore nodded slowly. "I expected as much, Harry, but I still must see the evidence. Shacklebolt procured a judicial pensieve while you were working with Floppy. Do you know how these work?"
Harry shook his head. "I've never used one, sir, and I've never been taught how to take advantage of their extra features."
Dumbledore waved his hand as though the matter were of no consequence. "Never mind, Harry. All that is relevant for now is that while any memory submitted by this manner cannot be used as the only evidence of a crime, it can be used to build a chain of evidence and corroborate other events. The most crucial detail is that no tampered memory will be accepted by the pensieve. Do you understand?"
Harry shrugged. "Of course." Harry knew that to a skilled practitioner, memories could be sliced and diced to present an alternate reality from what truly occurred, while still being 100 percent valid.
"Very well, please transfer a copy of your memory into it, and let us observe what happened." Dumbledore waited while Harry placed a copy of the memory into the pensieve that Shacklebolt had set on the bed. When he finished, Harry swirled the memory briefly before tapping the bowl, causing the scene to appear above the bowl in a ghostly three dimensional view. The memory picked up with Harry leaving the Headmaster's office and ended when he lost consciousness. Harry noticed that the wave of magic he saw before being thrown back was not visible in the memory nor was his wandless Stunner.
Dumbledore and Shacklebolt shared a frown and a look before replaying the memory. Harry ignored them while they both entered the pensieve, this time to scrutinize events in more detail. He was having a hard time sitting still while thinking about the entire battle, particularly the way it ended.
As Dumbledore and Shacklebolt came back from their inspection of the events, Dumbledore began pacing while Shacklebolt sat down heavily. The Auror was looking at Harry with an indecipherable expression.
"I have questions, Mr. Potter," Dumbledore began the discussion. "What was that shield at the very beginning?"
Harry smirked. "An experiment, sir. While less than successful, it did save my life."
Shacklebolt leaned forward. "That was no basic shield, Mr. Potter."
Harry raised his eyebrows in response. "No, it wasn't. But it also wasn't Dark magic, so... does it really matter what it was?"
Shacklebolt was ready to grill Harry when Dumbledore spoke up. "No, of course not. I rather suspect I can guess what that was, particularly with what happened to your clothing during that first assault." Harry knew Dumbledore understood what it was and, most likely, the implications of what Harry was trying to do with it.
Shacklebolt, however, seemed disappointed. "But if it saved his life, couldn't Aurors use it as well? Even if it wasn't enough to stop the onslaught, it could increase the chances of surviving an attack."
Dumbledore shook his head. "I'm afraid not, Kingsley. It's of very limited use, unless Harry can find some way to overcome the problems in the design." Shacklebolt fell back against the wall, rubbing his eyes in frustration. Dumbledore, however, leaned over the foot of the bed, watching Harry intently. "What happened at the very end, Harry? You were about to charge, when you were knocked aside like an annoying insect."
Harry frowned in turn. "No idea. I believe she did it, although I'm not entirely certain nor can I explain how, but I don't know what it was. I've never seen or felt anything like that. And frankly, I never want to again." The pensieve memory was always an echo of events, and anything magical like a spell being cast was only clear if the concentration of magic was sufficiently high. Otherwise, everything in a memory would glow, making it impossible to discern anything.
Their conversation was interrupted as Severus Snape strode into the room, looking for the Headmaster. Harry tensed, his wand gripped tightly. "Headmaster," Severus said, as he glared at Harry. "The Zabini boy has died from his wounds. His family is... displeased." Harry thought that Snape almost seemed delighted that the Zabini boy, whichever one that was, was dead.
Dumbledore looked back at Harry. "Harry, your memory matches the spells we observed coming from the wands of everyone involved in the battle. While not admissible by itself, if you combine it with our study of the wands, it is clear you acted in self-defense. It would be much better if your monitor had survived the fighting, but there is nothing we can do about that now."
Harry, however, kept his eyes on Snape. "Tell me, Snape, how is it that I was ambushed right after you showed up again?"
Snape sneered at Harry. "Learn some manners, Potter. I have no idea why you were attacked at that time. Would you like to use some Veritaserum for me to prove it?"
Harry narrowed his eyes. "Do I look like a fool? Veritaserum doesn't work on an Occlumens, and you know that. Just as I know that you're a skilled Occlumens."
Snape smirked unpleasantly. "An Unbreakable Vow, then? One that declares that I lack knowledge of any ambush planned for you outside the Headmaster's office by these four students? Or were those three Gryffindors involved as well? I can swear to not knowing anything about all seven of them planning to attack you, individually or collectively, if you like." The acidic tone was taunting Harry to demand just such an oath, which was surprising.
Dumbledore heaved a great sigh and stood up to place a restraining hand on Snape. "Enough. We have sufficient problems to deal with at the moment. While Severus and I still need to have a long talk about other events, I have questioned him about tonight most carefully, Harry. I am certain he has no knowledge of the episode in question."
Harry quirked an eyebrow but kept his guard on high while Snape was in the room. The man's attitude and calmness just seemed off. Dumbledore turned back to Severus and motioned for him to leave the room. "Thank you Severus, we will be out momentarily."
After Snape left, Harry held up a hand and again cast imperturbable and perimeter charms around the room. Almost instantly the door began hooting at him. Harry looked at the Headmaster while the Headmaster frowned. "He can't hear us, but he's trying to. As I have said previously, you may trust him. I do not." Cancelling the annoying perimeter charms, Harry left the imperturbable ones in place.
Dumbledore sighed again and wearily sank back into the plush chair. "I will be talking to Severus as soon as I can Harry. In case you hadn't noticed, your arrival has been shaking things up rather dramatically with little time for resolution before the next upheaval occurs."
"Fudge is here, because of the identity of the students who attacked you, Harry. I doubt if you are aware of how influential the families of those students are. Blaise Zabini, Adrian Pucey, Pansy Parkinson - all of them come from powerful pureblood families, and each one of them is an only child. Miss Parkinson was also the fianc'e of Draco Malfoy. The fourth student, Daphne Greengrass, is also from a long line of purebloods, although she is different from the others in that she has several siblings. I daresay you already knew the Weasleys involved. Ironically enough, they are yet another pure-blood family."
Pulling his glasses off, Dumbledore carefully cleaned them on the hem of his robes. "If you include the Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle families, Harry... you have, in less than a week, set most of the pure-blood supremacist families against you. This means that Fudge is also against you, since they are his largest campaign 'contributors'."
Returning his glasses to his face, Dumbledore looked at Shacklebolt for a second before turning back to Harry. "Alastor Moody has been recalled to the Ministry for active duty, Harry. Further, Fudge has passed a law that allows him to substitute a professor when there is an opening I have not filled. He is placing someone loyal to him as the new DADA professor, Madame Umbridge. I expect you two shall get along... spectacularly."
Shacklebolt leaned in again to watch Harry. "You wouldn't happen to know why Filch lost his hand when he picked up your sword, would you Mr. Potter?"
Harry sighed. "You were supposed to warn everyone, Headmaster. Never play with another man's tools without permission."
Dumbledore appeared less than pleased by Harry's callous statement. Rising to his feet, he handed the judicial pensieve back to Shacklebolt before turning one last time to look to Harry. "Is there anything you wish to discuss with me before we meet later?"
Harry nodded his head quickly. "How are the Weasleys?"
Dumbledore frowned. "The boys are fine, just stunned and a little shaken by events. Young Ginevra, however, has some serious injuries and is another patient here. I have been told, however, that she should be well enough to return in time for classes tomorrow, but she is still under careful observation. As for you, your injuries were of a different sort."
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment. "May I see them?"
Dumbledore slowly shook his head. "Harry, I don't think that would be a good idea. Her entire family is in there with her. They are very concerned. Enough rumors have gone around that I had to literally stun her mother before she could come down here and, well, let's just say she wanted to 'talk' to you. Vociferously. Let the truth of the events come out first. Otherwise I fear you may become a permanent resident here. Just give them some time, Harry."
Harry gave the Headmaster a half-hearted smile as the two men left his room.
Mon, 4 Sep 1995, 07:34
Striding into the Great Hall for breakfast, Harry became acutely aware of the sudden wave of silence that washed over the assembled students and staff. Everyone was cautiously watching him, many with fear in their eyes. After all, he had killed four Slytherin students and tried to kill three Gryffindors.
As Harry sat down at the end of the Gryffindor table, all the students near him began slowly sliding down the table to get as far away as possible. Their reactions reminded him of prey slowly moving away from an unexpected predator before bolting in sudden flight.
Harry carefully studied the various clusters of students, noting the rapid whispers and nearly constant fearful glances cast his way. With no apparent source for the rumors that must have spread, Harry ignored the sudden influx of owls with the morning post and looked at the staff to gauge their reactions. Snape sat the head table, watching Harry with a sneer, his black eyes shining in triumph.
To make it clear to everyone who doesn't read the Reviews and Author Responses to reviews, I will state it here for the record since the last chapter was apparently ambiguous: GINNY WAS NOT RAPED. That is not the event that occurred during her prior year. I'll even go further to make it very explicit: Ginny has never been raped, nor will she be raped, in this story.
As always, a big thank you to my genius betas who have valiantly strived to make this story better, despite my crafty attempts to make it incomprehensible. Immeasurable thanks to cwarbeck and Chreechree.
For the Metric-ally impaired: 10 degrees C is approximately 50 degrees F.
The thing with the sword and Filch was not, despite what you may think, a spin off of the Blade stories (or insert anime/book/movie of choice here). Consider the term "cursed weapon" used throughout history. They have been noted for maiming or killing non-owners that attempt to wield them. This may even be a hint.
You might be interested to find out about the Educational Reform Act of 1988 in England. There are some parallels in intent to the No Child Left Behind legislation that "Dubya" pushed through in the States for a PR-driven points game. While the idea has always been good, the implementation has always been less than stellar, regardless of where you are.
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