Chapter 1: Chapter 1
I don't own Harry Potter or Biggles, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Biggles, not making any money, just cheap thrills.
Summary: A nearly seven year old Harry Potter is about to meet a new family member, what effect will this have on his life?
7 July 1959:
Ginger Hebblethwaite stared in shock at the woman seated across from him, his fingers idly playing with the small box resting in his pocket. "I...is this a joke Rose?" he asked, his eyes pleading with her to say yes. It had to be a joke! Life couldn't be so cruel. Silently, he scoffed at himself. He knew all too well that it could.
Rose looked down at the table. She couldn't bring herself to meet his eyes, knowing the pain she would see there. Guilt welled up within her; she ruthlessly tamped down on it. "I'm sorry Ginger you must believe that if you believe nothing else."
"Must I?" he sarcastically asked. He made no attempt to keep the hurt from his voice.
Rose sighed heavily. "No, I don't suppose you must, but I do hope you will...in time."
"Why Rose? Why did you lie to me? Was I just a way to pass the time until you reconciled with your husband?" he bitterly demanded. He couldn't believe what a fool he had been. At least he hadn't had the chance to ask the question he'd been prepared to, that was one less humiliation for him to suffer.
The answer when it came was so quiet that Ginger had to strain to hear it.
"I do love you Ginger, I simply love my husband more," leaping gracefully to her feet, Rose hurried from the small cafe.
Ginger sat at the table, staring at the top, for how long he wasn't sure. The waiter clearing his throat finally caught his attention. "I'm sorry," he apologized, while giving the man a questioning look.
"Quite all right, sir," the waiter said, brushing the apology aside. "Are you ready to order, sir?" he politely inquired. The less said about the small scene the better. This wasn't, after all, the first time he had witnessed such things, though he wasn't privy to the details, of course.
Ginger shook his head. "I believe I've changed my mind, if you could just bring me the bill?"
"Of course, sir; it will only be a moment." So saying the man quickly walked away.
Ginger didn't need to wait long. In a scant few minutes the waiter returned with the bill. It wasn't large of course, two teas wouldn't be. Ginger paid the bill, leaving a generous gratuity. It wasn't the waiter's fault the evening had gone badly, aside from which Ginger appreciated the man's discretion after Rose left.
In need of time, Ginger chose to walk home rather than call for a taxi. It was a slightly long walk, a fact he was somewhat grateful for. In spite of the length of the trek home, Ginger arrived long before he was ready. Uncertainly he began to pace in front of the building. He hated to tell his friends what a fool he'd been.
"I say, looks as if Ginger is home," Bertie commented, after glancing out the window as he was returning to his seat. "Well that's dashed odd, yes absolutely, dashed odd," he murmured after a few minutes of watching.
"What's odd?" Algy quietly asked.
Sharing a look with Biggles, Algy moved towards the window. He was concerned by what he saw. Bertie was right, it was dashed odd. "Why do you suppose he's pacing like that?"
"I haven't the foggiest, old boy," Bertie replied. "Should we invite him in?"
"No," Biggles answered. "He'll come in when he's ready. Not a word from either of you," he warned. "Whatever the trouble is, he'll tell us when he's ready."
Knowing Biggles was right, the two men returned to their seats and the game Ginger's arrival had interrupted. Algy couldn't help but hope that Ginger would confide in one of them sooner rather than later. Neither man could focus on the game at hand. Consequently when their youngest member entered the flat, they gladly put it away.
Stepping into the flat, Ginger hung his hat on the rack in the hall; he took an extra moment, bracing himself. Entering the front room, he slowly sat down, in what had, over the years, become his chair.
Biggles couldn't help but see that the younger man moved as if he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. He hoped, though he imagined it was useless, that things hadn't gone badly with Miss Evans. When he saw Ginger pull the ring box from his pocket, Biggles’ hope was proven; as he'd known it would, to be futile. "Miss Evans didn't give you the answer you had hoped for?" he gently asked, ignoring his earlier advice to Algy and Bertie.
Ginger made a sound that was somewhere between sob and laugh, "There is no Miss Evans." He winced, hating the bitterness in his voice.
The other three exchanged concerned glances. "What do you mean laddie?" Biggles asked.
"It's Mrs. Evans," he snapped. "Seems I was a few years too late in asking the question. Oh she was very kind about it," he told them. "Said she loved me, but she loves him more." For a few minutes he sat there, staring at the box, the only sound the ticking of the clock on the mantle. Shaking his head, he sat the box on the side table and stood up. "I'm tired." Without another word, he walked out of the room.
When Rose had left the café, she had hurried to the nearest trolley stop. Gratefully she sank into her seat, her hand trembling in reaction to the emotional confrontation. Her mind ran in circles the entire trip. It had been an awful thing she had done to Ginger, made more awful by the calculating way she’d gone about the whole thing.
While carrying her first child, her husband George had contracted measles, having managed to avoid them as a child. Fortunately Rose had suffered through them in childhood and so she and the babe weren’t in any danger. George wasn’t so lucky; he had been awfully ill. The doctor had explained it often happened that way when an adult contracted a childhood illness. She had never felt such relief as she had the day the doctor informed her that George would recover fully. It hadn’t been until Petunia was nearly a year old that they had discovered the lasting effect of the illness; George was left unable to father children. Perhaps it was knowing it could never happen that had intensified Rose’s desire for another child, perhaps not, she supposed she could never know with certainty. However, she had always wanted more than one child, and had been bitterly disappointed at the knowledge that there would be no more children. It was a disappointment George shared.
She wasn’t certain any longer which of them had first thought of the scheme, not that it mattered. One of them had thought of it and both had agreed that it was their best chance for another child. And so, with George’s blessing, Rose had set out to find a suitable candidate to father their second child. It had taken a little time, for he must be a decent man, one with a certain amount of integrity but that could be brought to care for her. She must care for him too; Rose had known she could never be intimate with a man she didn’t care for. As the weeks had passed, after meeting Ginger, Rose had begun to realize the difficulty of their scheme. She had wanted to tell Ginger the truth after a while, but as George had sensibly pointed out a decent man would never go along with their scheme; if she told him, Ginger would walk away and if he agreed then he wasn’t the man they would want to father the child. It had been a week ago today that she had been to the doctor, receiving confirmation of her condition. Rose had delayed, as long as she could, the conversation she knew she must have. Finally she had gathered her courage, the end result being the meeting in the café. Though the child would never know the man who fathered her, Rose silently promised that the love she and George would give the child would make up for that lack.
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Chapter 2: Chapter 2
1 July, 1987
Amelia Bones, recently named head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, or DMLE as it was more commonly known, came to a sudden stop, her previous errand forgotten in the shock of the moment.
“I assure you Cornelius that Harry Potter is safe with his mother’s sister.”
It was these words, uttered by none other than Albus Dumbledore, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy that had halted her travels. Quickly casting a disillusionment charm on herself, Amelia continued to listen.
“Now see here Dumbledore, as Minister of Magic I should have some say in what happens to our saviour.”
Amelia could easily imagine Minister Fudge drawing himself up, puffing his chest out like a banty rooster preparing to fight. Unfortunately, for the British Wizarding world, that was as far as the similarity went. Fudge would be much more likely to turn and run at the first sign of any real opposition than he would be to fight.
“It has been nearly six years since You-Know-Who was defeated, surely the boy can be brought back to the world he belongs to,” Fudge petulantly continued.
“To Cornelius?” Dumbledore firmly questioned.
At this Fudge began to stutter. “I didn’t me—mean it like that,” he protested. “I simply meant to say that Harry Potter, more than any other Wizarding child should be raised in the world he saved and in which he will eventually, as an adult, live in.”
“What of the Death Eaters? Would you have him needlessly endangered Cornelius?”
“Of course not,” said Fudge in an affronted manner. “But surely you don’t believe a few demoralized Death Eaters are any real danger to The-Boy-Who-Lived? What I mean to say is...”
“I do believe exactly that Cornelius,” countered Dumbledore. “However, that is neither here nor there. Lily Potter specifically stated in her will that if both she and James were deceased then their son was to be raised in the Muggle world by her sister.”
Bristling at the blatant lie, Amelia hurried away to her office, before she lost control of herself. The result of the head of the DMLE firing a curse at the Chief Warlock, etc., didn’t bare thinking about. She wondered what Dumbledore was playing at. She had known Lily Potter and knew for a fact, having been told by Lily, that she had forbidden the placement of her only child with her sister. “I’m so sorry Lily,” she whispered. She had promised Lily that if the worst happened and Harry couldn’t be taken in by any of the magical families they had named or would be safer in the Muggle world, she would see to it that he would be placed with his grandfather.
“Amelia there is something I need to tell you, something of the utmost importance,” Lily spoke quietly, almost as if she were ashamed of what she was about to say.
Amelia was confused by her friend’s manner. She had been an Auror for a while, and had sat in on plenty of interrogations. She would swear Lily was about to make a confession, though she couldn’t imagine what she could have to confess to. “You can tell me anything, you know that Lily,” she said, in what she hoped was an encouraging tone.
“I,” Lily paused, as if gathering her thoughts or perhaps her nerve, “I don’t think James and I will survive the war.”
Amelia was shocked. She knew Lily to be one of the most positive people she’d ever met. To hear her expressing such a fatalistic and pessimistic view was therefore a shock. “Now Lily I’m sure you and James will come through this war just fine. You’re just nervous, afraid something will happen before the Fidelius can be cast.”
“No Amelia, it’s more than that.” Lily glanced around the room, as if she were afraid of being overheard. “There’s a prophecy, though I can’t tell you what it says, please don’t ask. As I said, there’s a prophecy which should he hear of it, will point Voldemort directly towards us.” Lily tactfully ignored her friend’s flinch at the name.
“That’s why you’re going under the Fidelius?” Amelia had to admit, she had wondered about that but not wanting to insult her friends she hadn’t asked.
“Yes,” Lily quietly confirmed. “I don’t know if the measures we are taking will be enough and,” nervously, she licked her lips, “I’m not convinced Dumbledore can be trusted to carry out our wishes. I would have preferred somebody else as Executor of our wills, but James insisted and I had no real objection, only a feeling and so Dumbledore was chosen. This is why I asked you here Amelia, before we are unreachable, I need to ask a favour of you, but first I must tell you a bit of a story.”
Amelia listened in surprise as Lily told the story of her parents. Now the shame was explained, Lily was obviously afraid that she would be looked down upon for what her parents had chosen to do. “I had no idea that Muggles would choose such a route. How do they hide the paternity without potions? Oh I’m sorry Lily, it’s none of my business,” she quickly apologized.
“You don’t think it was wrong of them?” Lily asked, clearly surprised.
Amelia, quickly realized why Lily would need to ask. “It’s not unheard of in our world Lily. Many purebloods have trouble conceiving and choose the same route, but they have potions to hide the true paternity. It’s not spoken of, needless to say, but it’s a well known fact in pureblood circles.”
Lily giggled, for a moment all her troubles forgotten. “Wouldn’t you like to see their faces if they found out they had something so important in common with Muggles?”
Amelia shared in her friend’s mirth.
“As to how they conceal paternity, I can’t speak for all of them. I don’t even know how often such a thing happens in the Muggle world. My mother simply chose a man who shared features with my father, that is to say her husband. She hoped, she said, that in this way there would be a better chance that I would resemble him.”
“This has something to do with the favour you would ask?” Amelia inquired.
Lily nodded. “We have chosen guardians for Harry, beginning with Sirius of course. There are a few other magical guardians but it may happen that none of them will be available. Harry may also be safer outside the Wizarding world.” Taking her teacup in hand, she sipped it slowly.
“Because of this prophecy?”
“Yes. The prophecy involves Harry. If we, as I fear, don’t survive and Harry is safer in the Muggle world, I need you to make sure he doesn’t end up with my sister Petunia.” Lily looked up from her tea, an earnest look upon her face. “Petunia hates magic with a passion and anything connected to it. Yes that includes me. I’m afraid to imagine what she might do to my son should he come under her control. I have left instructions in my will that Harry is to go to my biological father, a man by the name of Ginger Hebblethwaite, if staying in the Wizarding world isn’t possible. I don’t know if Dumbledore can be trusted to carry out the instructions I have left and that’s why I asked you here today.”
“You want me to ensure he is taken to your father,” Amelia said, quickly catching on.
“Yes exactly. Will you do this for me Amelia? For Harry?” Lily begged.
Amelia took Lily’s hand, giving it a light squeeze. “Of course I will Lily, you needn’t worry about that.”
Amelia could kick herself. How could she have trusted Dumbledore to do what was right? Especially after Lily had come to her with her doubts. She should have asked him outright if Harry was with his grandfather. To think that little boy had spent six years with a woman who hated magic for no other reason than that the person tasked with ensuring he was safe asked the wrong question, compounding the mistake by taking Dumbledore at his word. “I will fix this Lily, I promise you that,” she vowed. “Right, time to stop wallowing in regrets and set about doing what I should have done six years ago.”
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
15 July 1987
It had taken a fortnight to track down Lily’s father. The matter had been complicated by the lack of a first name, Ginger being only a nickname. Luckily over the course of that long ago afternoon, Lily had told her all she knew of the man who had fathered her. It had been that information, combined with the unusual surname that had allowed her to finally locate the man. Stepping up to the door, she rang the bell and waited.
"Good afternoon, how may I be of service madam?" Bertie asked, as he took in the sight of a grey haired woman, wearing a monocle, similar to his own.
"Good afternoon," Amelia said. "I’m attempting to find a man by the name of Ginger Hebblethwaite, is he in?"
"Ginger?" Bertie was surprised; most unknown callers came seeking an audience with Biggles. "Yes, absolutely dear lady. Won’t you come in?" standing aside, he sketched a please enter gesture as he stepped aside.
"You have a visitor Ginger," he announced as he led her into the lounge. "I’m sorry madam," he said, turning to her, "I didn’t catch your name."
"Amelia Bones," she calmly supplied.
Ginger stood. "What can I do for you Ms. Bones?"
"Perhaps we could speak privately," she suggested. "What I need to discuss with you is somewhat delicate."
"If this has to do with the secrecy of the Wizarding world we are all aware of its existence," he informed her.
It was clear he had surprised her.
"You know of the Wizarding world? All of you? But how?" Amelia felt off-balance; it was a feeling she didn’t care for.
"Yes ma’am, we know of it," Algy confirmed.
"It was several years after the second World War that the subject came up, quite by accident," Biggles interjected. "An event occurred, it isn’t important now, but through this event we discovered that we all came from squib lines."
"Extraordinary, really," Bertie said. "That we four, all descended from a different squib line, should become comrades, yes, quite extraordinary."
"Yes," Amelia agreed, "it certainly is." It did explain, she thought, why all four men appeared younger than their years. Reaching out with her magic, she quickly confirmed their claim, simultaneously explaining how they knew she was a witch. Like many from squib lines, none of the men had enough magic to cast even a weak spell. However, they each had a small amount of magic, enough to allow them to sense magic, live longer than the average muggle, heal a bit faster and perhaps have a bit more than the normal amount of luck.
"Don’t tell me I’m the last of some old pureblood line, standing to inherit millions," Ginger joked.
Amelia smiled tightly, "No, nothing like that Mr. Hebblethwaite."
Ginger was puzzled. He had, of course, been joking but he could think of no other reason for someone from the Wizarding world contacting him. "Not to seem rude, but what could the Wizarding world want with me then?"
"We really should speak in private, Mr. Hebblethwaite," Amelia asserted.
"Nonsense, I have no secrets from my friends. You can speak freely," Ginger assured her.
"Very well," Amelia reluctantly agreed. "Thank you," she said as she took the seat Bertie offered her.
"Allow me to make introductions," Ginger said. "This is Lord Bertie Lissie," Bertie bowed his head. "The Honourable Algernon Lacey and Detective Air Inspector James Bigglesworth retired, otherwise known as Biggles," the two offered small smiles. The men retook their own seats.
"Hello gentlemen, pleasure to make your acquaintance," Amelia said, returning the smiles.
"Would you like some tea?" Algy asked.
"No thank you Mr. Lacey." Taking a moment to gather her thoughts, she considered how best to start. "Mr. Hebblethwaite, do you remember a woman by the name of Rose Evans?" She immediately wished she hadn’t asked so baldly. It was clear by the look in his eyes that the man remembered her, and the memories weren’t exactly pleasant.
He gave a short nod, his voice having deserted him.
"This will be a difficult story for you to hear Mr. Hebblethwaite. I only ask that you hear me out." After another nod, she continued. "What you didn’t know is that Rose meeting you was no accident."
"What?" Ginger croaked.
"She picked you Mr. Hebblethwaite, out of how many candidates I don’t know."
"Picked him for what?" Biggles demanded. He was becoming angry as this woman dredged up a memory that still had the power to hurt the man he thought of as a son.
"That will take a bit of explaining," Amelia demurred.
"I suggest you get to explaining," Biggles ordered.
Amelia nearly flinched from the tone alone, only her training and experience saved her from the embarrassment. "Yes, of course. You see, Mr. Hebblethwaite," she began, turning once more to Ginger, "Rose’s husband had become ill when she was pregnant with her first child. The result of this illness was an inability to father more children."
Biggles frown grew, he didn’t like where this conversation was heading. From the look on his face, Ginger too had realised the implications.
"She used me," he nearly whispered. "That’s what you meant when you said our meeting wasn’t an accident, isn’t it? She chose me to give her another child?" Ginger asked, incredulously.
Amelia could do nothing but admit he was right; it was the truth after all.
The colour drained from Ginger’s face. He had loved Rose, had thought, after the initial hurt passed that had she loved him as well. But it had been a lie after all! She had only been using him all along, using him to gain what she wanted. He must have said something of this aloud, for his visitor was quick to assure him that Rose had loved him, that hadn’t been a lie. Ginger appreciated the effort, but he couldn’t believe it of course.
"You can’t be the child," Algy said, misjudging her age. "Are you here on behalf of Ginger’s child?"
"In a manner of speaking Mr. Lacey," Amelia replied.
"What do you mean?" Ginger asked, pushing his shock to the back of his mind. He needed to know what this was about.
"Rose gave birth to a second daughter, Lily," Amelia told him.
"Does she want to meet me? Is that why you’re here?"
Amelia shook her head. "I’m afraid that won’t be possible Mr. Hebblethwaite. As it happens, your daughter was a witch, the brightest of her age. Unfortunately a war was taking place in the Wizarding world, led by a wizard who had gone as bad as one could. The muggle equivalent would be the German, Hitler."
All four men shuddered. The thought of another Hitler, but with magic was too horrible to contemplate.
"Lily, being a muggleborn opposed this wizard, as did the man she eventually married. James Potter was from an old pureblood family, one of the oldest in fact, but he never believed in the idea of blood supremacy. James and Lily were very happy together."
"You keep using the past tense," Ginger interrupted. "Are you here only to tell me that my daughter is dead?"
"Not quite," Amelia replied. "Lily and James had a son, Harry. They were forced to take Harry and go into hiding when a prophecy was made. I don’t know the contents of the prophecy, Lily never told me, but I do know that it painted a target on the entire family. On the night of Halloween, 1981, the Potters were betrayed. The dark wizard arrived at their home, James was killed first. Lily was cornered in the nursery, she too was killed. It was the killing curse, Avada Kedavra. However, when the same wand was turned on little Harry, something went wrong. The curse rebounded, destroying the dark wizard and leaving the baby alive. He has become known in the Wizarding world as The-Boy-Who-Lived; the only known survivor of the killing curse."
"Why am I just now being told about this?" Ginger asked, his voice filled with anger.
"Because I foolishly trusted the wrong man and asked the wrong question," Amelia shamefully admitted. "Lily had told me, before they went into hiding, about you. Yes, she knew. She hadn’t known long and there hadn’t been time to contact you before it became necessary for them to go into hiding," she quickly explained. "As I said, Lily told me the whole story. She then told me that she didn’t trust Dumbledore to carry out her wishes. Her husband, however, did trust him and as she only had a feeling she went along with the naming of Dumbledore as Executor of their will. She asked that I ensure Harry was brought to you if he was unable to be raised in the Wizarding world, for any reason. She didn’t want him being raised by her sister, as the woman hates magic and anything to do with it. Lily feared what she would do to Harry if he were in her control."
"I assume the boy was taken to this sister?" Biggles asked. He chose to focus on the child, Ginger’s grandchild, rather than any improprieties the younger man had allowed to take place so long ago. He had been, quite skilfully, manipulated, after all and at this late date the time for recriminations was long past.
"Yes sir, he was. Things were very confused in the days after that Halloween and as an Auror, that’s a sort of police officer in our world, anyway, I was quite busy in rounding up Death Eaters. That was the name of the dark wizard’s followers. I’m not trying to make excuses, just giving you the circumstances. I went to Dumbledore and asked him if he had placed Harry with Lily’s muggle family. I didn’t realize that Lily had not included your name in the will, only stating Harry was to go to her father. This might have been due to her distrust of Dumbledore, whatever the reason, because of these things I had thought that Harry was with you all this time. It was only thanks to an overheard conversation that I discovered the truth. As soon as I realised that Harry was with Petunia, rather than you I began searching for you. You were a bit difficult to find, Lily hadn’t realised Ginger was a nickname. Luckily your surname is unusual enough that combined with your former occupation I was able to find you."
"I see," Ginger said. He didn’t quite know what else to say. It was a lot to take in. "I’m going to make some tea. Would anybody else like some?" He didn’t wait for an answer, quickly leaving the room he headed to the kitchen. He was vaguely aware of Biggles advising the Bones woman to give him a few minutes.
With hands that shook he set about putting together a tea tray, the routine movements serving to calm him. By the time the tea was ready he had made a decision, one he was sure his friends would support. Lifting the tray, he turned towards the door.
"Alright laddie?" Biggles asked as Ginger turned around.
Ginger smiled softly; he didn’t think Biggles would ever stop referring to him as laddie, no matter his age. He nodded, "I’ve come to a decision. Tell you about it with the others?"
"Of course," Biggles agreed. Stepping backwards, he held the door open for Ginger before following him to the front parlour.
In only a few moments tea had been served and all members of the party had resumed their seats. "Have you considered the possibility that Harry is happy with his aunt?" Ginger asked after taking a sip of tea.
"No I hadn’t, Lily seemed quite certain that her sister would mistreat the boy," Amelia replied.
"What of this Dumbledore fellow?" Biggles put in. "If he disregarded the will do you expect him to allow the boy to be given into Ginger’s care?"
"A valid question Mr. Bigglesworth," Amelia admitted. "I don’t imagine Dumbledore will be pleased. However, as the will specifically states Harry is to live with his grandfather there is nothing he can do, legally speaking that is."
The men shared a look, each realizing what she was implying. It was Ginger who put the question to her. "You think he might attempt to prevent it through less than legal means?"
"It is a possibility."
"Do you have any suggestions for protecting both Ginger and his grandson?" Algy asked.
"As I said before, Mr. Hebblethwaite’s name didn’t appear in the will and that will offer a measure of protection. Without a name, Dumbledore will have a difficult time locating the boy. Furthermore, if you were to enrol the boy in school under you surname rather than his own it would serve as further protection."
"That wouldn’t be quite legal," Biggles pointed out. He had never liked lying and avoided it whenever possible. He did understand, however, that there were times it was necessary.
"Actually it would be," Amelia asserted.
"How so?" Ginger asked.
"If you were to adopt the boy he would have the right to use your name in the muggle world, while still using Potter in the magical world."
"Wouldn’t there be a danger of such news reaching Dumbledore?" Algy asked.
"Not if the adoption were handled through Gringots, the Wizarding bank. The necessary papers could be filed through them in both the magical and muggle worlds with a spell attached to them."
"A spell?" Ginger asked. "What sort of spell?" Though aware of the Wizarding world he wasn’t familiar with the way spells of any sort worked. He wouldn’t, he vowed, allow anything malicious to be done as an innocent person might come into contact with the papers.
"It would be a simple confidentiality spell Mr. Hebblethwaite. It would prevent any who saw the papers from revealing the details to another, while preventing any person without a legal right seeing them."
"But as Executor of the will wouldn’t Dumbledore have a legal right?" Ginger asked.
"By failing to carry out the wishes of the deceased I would imagine the man lost his status as Executor old boy," Bertie interjected.
"Absolutely correct Lord Lissie," Amelia agreed. "The spell can be specifically keyed to Dumbledore as well, ensuring he will be unable to read the adoption papers. As the will specifies Harry’s custody is to be with his grandfather no hearing will be necessary. Does this sound reasonable to you Mr. Hebblethwaite?"
Ginger took a moment to think it over before agreeing. "However, if Harry is happy and treated properly in his aunt’s home I will not disrupt his life," he felt compelled to warn the witch.
"That is acceptable," Amelia agreed. She doubted they would find a happy child, not if Lily was to be believed and there was no reason to suppose she had lied.
Ginger turned to Biggles. "Is it alright with you if the boy comes here to live?"
Biggles smiled. "This is your home too laddie, of course it’s alright. We can easily turn the small parlour into a bedroom for the lad."
"When shall we pay the aunt a visit?" Ginger asked, turning back to Ms. Bones.
"We can leave immediately if that’s acceptable," Amelia replied.
"May I borrow the Bentley," Ginger asked Biggles who quickly agreed.
"I could simply apparate us," Amelia offered. "It’s much quicker," she added.
"Do you wish your involvement to become known?" Biggles asked.
Amelia blushed, she hadn’t thought of that. "It would perhaps be better if it didn’t. Muggle transport it is, however if it becomes necessary I will apparate us away from the Dursley home."
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Chapter 4: Chapter 4
During the drive to Surrey Ginger became acquainted with his daughter through Amelia’s stories. He wished he had known the girl and woman being described to him. Rose’s actions hurt terribly, breaking his heart anew at the though of what she had cost him. Ginger shook away thoughts of what he had lost, forcing himself to focus on the present. As Biggles was fond of pointing out, one couldn’t live in the past and move forward at the same time.
Petunia Dursley smiled fondly at her young son as she put the finishing touches on his birthday cake. So like his father and as normal a little boy as a mother could hope for. Not like that abnormal freak her freak of a sister had borne, she thought as the smile slipped from her face. Shaking her head, she forced such thoughts away. This was her Dudley’s special day she refused to let that freak ruin it. As she had banished the freak to his cupboard for the day, she banished even the thought of him. The sound of the bell interrupted her thoughts. Glancing at the clock, she gave an irritated little sigh. The party wasn’t scheduled to begin for another hour surely this couldn’t be one of the guests.
"Duddikins darling would you see who is at the door for mummy?" she sweetly asked of her boy. She could have gone herself, of course, but Petunia knew better than to leave a young boy alone with a cake. Quickly finishing up, she put the cake away on a high shelf, safe from Dudley’s reach. Wiping her hands and removing her apron, she moved towards the front door where she could hear strange voices speaking to Dudley. Irritated by the intrusion, she vowed to give the trades people, for that is what they must be, a piece of her mind. Why what was the use of a no solicitation sign on one’s door if the tradesmen only ignored it?
Feeling very grown up, Dudley Dursley hurried to the front door. Pulling it open, he gazed up at the elderly couple standing on the step. "We don’t want any," he told them, just as he’d often heard his mother and father do.
"We’re not here to sell you anything young man," Amelia told Petunia’s son. He must be the Dursley’s boy, for this child looked nothing like Lily or James. "Is your mother at home?"
"What do you want with mum?" Dudley demanded.
Ginger, standing next to Amelia, was silently relieved. He had been afraid that this rude child was his grandson. "I’m afraid that is a private matter laddie," he replied, stepping into the conversation for the first time. "If you would fetch your mother, it would be appreciated."
"I’m Petunia Dursley," a horse-faced, long-necked blonde stated as she came into view. "I’m sure my son has told you we aren’t interested in whatever you’re selling. Furthermore I don’t appreciate..."
"Mrs. Dursley," Amelia interrupted the woman, "we aren’t selling anything. We are here on a private matter."
"A private matter?" Petunia was confused.
"Yes," Amelia replied. "I believe that introductions are in order. My name is Amy Benson, I was a friend of your sister Lily." Amelia thought it best to use an alias, though if Dumbledore used leglimency he would undoubtedly recognize her.
"You’re a freak?" Petunia hissed the question. "We don’t want anything to do with you people. Isn’t it bad enough that you foist my sister’s freak child on normal people? If we’re going to have to tolerate freaks invading our home whenever they like then you can take the boy with you and good riddance."
Ginger was shocked. He had been told, of course that the woman hated magic, but the simple words hadn’t prepared him for this level of hatred. "You would turn your own nephew over to strangers?"
"He’s no family of mine," Petunia asserted. "I never asked to be saddled with him. Left him on our doorstep with nothing but a letter and orders to keep him here. Well we’ve kept him, though we didn’t want to, and here you stand criticising me. How dare you?"
"How dare I?" Ginger demanded.
"Mrs. Dursley, perhaps we could come inside," Amelia suggested. "I’m afraid we should soon be drawing a crowd," she added with a significant glance about the neighbourhood.
Petunia swallowed in a throat gone suddenly dry, her face paling. "Come inside then, but make it quick. I haven’t the time to listen to another of Lily’s fans extolling her virtues," she said in a bitter voice.
Amelia shared a look with Ginger as they stepped inside. Obviously Lily had been right about her sister.
Carefully stepping around the magicals, Petunia closed the door. Rounding on them, she demanded to know what this was about.
"Mrs. Dursley what do you know of the circumstances of your sister’s birth?" Amelia asked.
Petunia frowned. Why would the woman ask about Lily’s birth? "I don’t understand what you mean."
"So your mother never told you?"
"Told me what?" Petunia snapped. "If you mean how desperately she and daddy wanted another child? How very special Lily was and that we must never fail to show her our love? Then yes, she told me quite often."
Ginger frowned, a glimmer of understanding towards the young woman before him growing quickly. "So Rose only told Lily and that when it was too late to matter?"
"Excuse me but who are you and how would you know my mother?"
"My name is Ginger..."
"Smith," Amelia quickly interrupted. If Mrs. Dursley knew Ginger’s real name then Dumbledore, should he investigate, would learn it as well. "Ginger Smith, he’s the reason we’re here to see you today."
Petunia looked between them. "I don’t understand."
"Mrs. Dursley, there really isn’t any easy way to say this," Ginger said. "I knew your mother for a short time but the results were long-reaching." Ginger sighed he had a feeling this wasn’t going to be taken well. "As it happens I am, in fact, your sister’s father."
"You lie!" Petunia snapped. "My mother would never have cheated on my father. She loved him more than life itself."
"She didn’t, cheat that is, not precisely." In a few short sentences, Ginger explained what had happened.
"And you’re a freak as well?" Petunia asked, in a voice filled with relief. "That explains where the bad blood came from. There is no chance, then, that my little Duddikins will become a freak?"
Choosing to ignore the derogatory words, Amelia responded, "If you mean a wizard, then no I shouldn’t think there was any chance of that."
"Thank goodness," Petunia said with feeling. "You’re taking the boy with you?" the words as much a statement as an enquiry.
"It’s what Lily wanted," Amelia replied.
"I would like to meet the child first," Ginger said. He didn’t doubt the boy, Harry, would choose to come with them but he thought the child should at least meet him before they took him from the Dursley’s.
"Oh,um, well you see that may not be possible today. Harry isn’t here, you see." Petunia stammered, suddenly nervous.
Ginger narrowed his eyes, suspicious of the woman’s sudden attack of nerves.
"But mummy you told the freak to stay in his cupboard, don’t you remember?" Dudley asked, reminding them all of his presence. He didn’t quite understand everything the adults had said but he knew what his mother had said earlier and the freak wouldn’t dare disobey. Daddy would make sure he regretted it if he had left the cupboard without permission.
"Cupboard?" Amelia asked in a hard voice.
"Oh you know how children like to pretend things," Petunia tried to explain.
"Dudley, what cupboard do you mean?" Ginger asked, bypassing the mother and her obvious lies.
"The one under the stairs, it’s where the freak lives," Dudley innocently explained. He didn’t know why his mother hadn’t told them. She and daddy always said not to speak of it outside of the house and they were clearly inside the house.
Ginger glared at Petunia Dursley. Not for the first time, but certainly the most strongly, he wished he was a wizard if only so he could punish this woman in a way she would never forget. Without another word, he stood up and ignoring the protests coming from Mrs. Dursley he walked over to the stairs, quickly finding the cupboard door. Throwing the bolt back, he pulled the door open. Peeking inside the small space he was forced to slam a mental door shut on his anger as he took in the sight of a too small, battered child that could only be his grandchild. "Hello Harry, my name is Ginger."
Harry nodded, he had heard them talking through the vent. "Are you really my grandfather?" he quietly asked. Gasping at his own nerve, he flinched backwards as the man reached towards him.
Ginger smiled sadly. No child should be afraid of a simple touch. "Yes Harry it’s true." Gently taking the boy’s hand, he drew him from the cupboard. "Would you like to come and live with me?"
"Really?" Harry couldn’t believe this was happening to him. In a burst of inspiration he reached for his arm, giving it a vicious pinch.
"You’re not dreaming Harry," Ginger assured him. "I should tell you that I share a flat with some friends of mine, I hope you won’t mind."
Harry’s mind was whirling. Nobody had ever asked him what he wanted. Unless you counted when uncle asked him if he wanted the belt? But he didn’t think that counted. "Won’t they be mad if you bring a freak home?"
"First, you’re not a freak Harry," Ginger firmly told the boy. "Second, they know I’m here to bring you home and they look forward to meeting you. What do you say laddie? Would you like to leave here and live with me?"
"Yes please," Harry quickly answered. He was afraid if he was too slow the offer would be removed. He didn’t know if his grandfather was a nice man, but his eyes were kind and they were the same colour as his own. Besides, nobody could be worse than the Dursley’s, he innocently reasoned.
Ginger smiled, the tear Rose had placed in his heart so long ago finally beginning to mend a bit. "Why don’t you gather anything you’d like to take along while I let your aunt know what we’ve decided."
"Yes sir," Harry replied, smiling for the first time. As quickly as he could Harry ducked into the cupboard, emerging in seconds, a faded blue baby blanket clutched in his hand. "I’m sorry sir but my clothes are in the wash."
Examining the clothes the boy wore, Ginger knew he would be buying new clothes for the child at any rate. He told Harry as much. He tried not to think of what the look of pleased disbelief on Harry’s face could mean.
Ginger rose to his feet but before he could lead Harry to the front hall, Amelia appeared. "Yes?" The woman couldn’t have changed her mind, could she?
"Mrs. Dursley has signed the custody papers," Amelia responded. "We can leave whenever you’re ready." Glancing at Harry she considered healing him but as she wasn’t a healer she decided to leave it to the healers at Gringots.
Without another word the three of them left the Dursley house. As they did the last vestiges of badly weakened wards collapsed. In a castle in Scotland a small silver device tinkled in warning, but it was summer and there was nobody to hear the alarm. In a few minutes the device went silent once more.
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Chapter 5: Chapter 5
After relaying directions to the Leaky Cauldron, Amelia turned to the young boy seated between them. "Hello Harry, my name is Amelia Bones. I was a friend of your mother’s."
Harry looked up at her with wide eyes. "Really? Please ma’am, what did she look like? Did you know my father too?"
Ginger gripped the wheel tightly. He just barely resisted the urge to turn the car around. He had just thought of a few things he’d like to say to Mrs. Dursley.
Amelia smiled tightly. Glancing at Ginger, she could see that he was as angry as she was. "Harry, did your aunt and uncle tell you anything about your parents?" She needed to know what he had been told if she was to fill in the blanks properly.
A look of shame passed over Harry’s face as he glanced down at his lap.
She knew Harry had said something, but it was said so quietly that she couldn’t make out the actual words. Gently tilting his head so that she could look him in the eye, she kindly asked him to repeat himself.
Harry didn’t want to, it had hurt to repeat the words he’d heard so often in his short life. Yet, he knew better than to disobey an adult. "Aunt Petunia said they were shiftless drunks who got themselves killed and left me to be a burden on decent people."
He said this in an apologetic tone, as if he were sorry for his own existence. It broke Amelia and Ginger’s hearts. "That isn’t true Harry. I promise you it isn’t."
"It isn’t?" He wanted to believe her, really he did, but what if she were wrong?
"No Harry it isn’t," Amelia confirmed. "I suppose this means your aunt never mentioned the Wizarding world either?"
"Wizards?" Harry’s eyes were as round as saucers. "You mean like," leaning close, he whispered as if afraid of being overheard, "magic?"
Amelia smiled softly. "Yes Harry, that’s exactly what I mean."
"It isn’t real," Harry firmly stated.
"It is real and you have magic, just like your parents did," Amelia told him.
Harry wasn’t sure what to think of this. His entire life he had been told that things such as magic didn’t exist. Now he was being told that not only was it real but he had magic inside him. "Do you have magic?"
"Yes Harry I do. I’m a witch, just as your mother was and you Harry are a wizard, as was your father."
Harry looked between Amelia and his grandfather, his quick mind rapidly taking in what he was being told and putting it together with the odd things that had happened at the Dursley’s. "Is Grandfather a wizard too?"
"No dear, but he is a very good man."
Harry grinned and nodded. "He’s a hero."
Ginger felt a swell of pride at the boy’s words.
"Cause he rescued me."
"I only wish it had been sooner laddie," Ginger told him, pushing the words past the sudden lump in his throat while giving the small shoulder a gentle squeeze.
Harry smiled up at the man, his eyes shining with adoration. "Did my parents really die in a car wreck?" he asked, turning back to Amelia. He didn't want to bother his grandfather too much while he was driving.
Amelia closed her eyes, hiding the anger she knew would be seen there if Harry looked. After a short pause she opened her eyes and looked down at the young boy. "No Harry they didn’t. They were killed by a very bad wizard. He wanted to rule over everybody and he killed any who tried to stop him."
"Like my parents?" It made him sad, but he was proud too. His parents were heroes too, just like his grandfather. He wondered if that meant he would be a hero. He vowed, in that moment, to do his best to live up to the example his parents and grandfather had set for him.
"That’s right, like your parents. The bad wizard scared most people so much that they wouldn’t even say his name. They called him You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
Harry giggled. "That’s silly, somebody’s name can’t hurt you."
Amelia flushed, embarrassed. "You’re right Harry, it can’t."
"What was his real name?"
Amelia drew herself up, determined to prove herself to be a person Harry could respect. "His name was...Voldemort," she forced herself to say.
"What happened to him?"
"Nobody quite knows. You see after he had killed your parents he turned his wand on you. We know he cast the killing curse towards you but somehow it went wrong. You survived with only the scar on your forehead to show where the curse struck, the only person known to do so, and Voldemort disappeared. Most think he is dead but he was never found so we don’t know for certain." She found it easier to say his name the second time. "You’re very famous in our world Harry. They call you The-Boy-Who-Lived."
"Do you think it’s a good idea to take him into the Wizarding bank? Won’t he be recognized?" Ginger asked. He hadn’t realized the boy was famous, though of course he should have thought of the possibility, given what he’d been told earlier.
"I’ll cast a glamour charm before we enter Diagon Alley. The Goblins will see through it, but they know how to be discreet."
"Goblins?" Harry squeaked. "Like in the fairy tales that teacher tells?"
Amelia smiled again. "I doubt they’re quite like the Goblins in your teacher’s stories dear. They are quite fearsome, but if you treat them with respect they will respond in kind. Most wizards and witches have forgotten this, or simply don’t care and so are treated quite rudely. A few of us, your parents included, understand that all magical beings are deserving of respect." She patted his shoulder. "Don’t worry Harry, your parents were friendly with the Goblins, they won’t forget that."
"Yes ma’am," Harry nodded. "Goblins run the bank then?"
"They do," Amelia confirmed. "And here we are?"
"That little run-down pub?" Ginger asked, in a sceptical tone.
"Yes, it hides the entrance to the Alley. Muggles can’t see it, only magicals and squibs are able to see it."
"Muggles? Squibs?" Harry asked.
"Muggle is what we call non-magicals and squibs are those who were born to a magical family but don’t have enough magic to cast even a very weak spell. Your grandfather and his friends are from squib lines."
"I’m going to cast a charm on you now Harry. It won’t hurt, it will just make it so that when others look at you they see somebody who looks a bit different. It’s so they won’t recognize you and make a fuss," Amelia explained.
Harry nodded and squeezed his eyes shut. A moment later he felt a small tickle, he supposed that was magic, but that was all. Surprised, he opened his eyes. "Is that all?"
Amelia smiled, mildly amused at the boy’s reaction. She would never tell him that, of course. "Yes dear, that’s all." Stepping from the car, she took his hand and helped him from the vehicle. Joining Ginger on the pavement, she gave a short nod. "Right, ready?" An enthusiastic yes from Harry and a nod from Ginger saw them entering the Cauldron. Amelia wasted no time. With an economy of movement she led the way through the bar and out the back door into a small alley, a brick wall on the opposite side.
Harry tugged on Ginger’s coat, getting his attention. "It doesn’t seem very magical," he whispered to his grandfather.
Amelia chuckled. "This is only the doorstep to the Alley," she explained. Taking out her wand, she tapped out the required pattern on the bricks. The wall parted, granting them entrance. "Welcome gentlemen to Diagon Alley," she said with a small flourish. She gave them a moment to take in the sights, enjoying their reactions. "Come along then," she finally said, leading the way to the bank.
Harry thought he could stay here forever, just taking in the wondrous sights and sounds of Diagon Alley. He was a wizard too, he thought, suddenly realizing that he would be able to do the things he saw others doing. He wondered how he would learn? Maybe Miss Amelia would teach him? If he were very good?
Enthralled by the sights himself, Ginger nonetheless realized Harry was having trouble focusing on his forward path. In the interest of saving time, he picked the boy up, carrying him to the bank. The fact that this would allow the child to focus on the sights of the magical world was simply a bonus.
Inside the bank, after a thankfully short wait in line, they approached a teller. Though he had been told the bank was ran by goblins, Harry couldn't help staring at the beings the like of which he had never imagined. Even Ginger, who had many years experience in hiding his reactions, was having a hard time refraining from staring. The creatures were quite simply fantastic to any meeting them for the first time.
"Good afternoon Master Goblin," Amelia greeted the teller.
"Madam Bones," the goblin returned. "How may Gringots be of service to you?"
"I should like to speak to somebody in the inheritance department, concerning the Potter wills, if I could."
If the goblin was surprised, he hid it well. "Of course Madam Bones. Is there anything else?"
"No thank you." She knew whoever she spoke to about the Potter wills would be able to handle the adoption papers. She would handle the necessary spells. No blame would be laid at the feet of the Goblin Nation over this, should Dumbledore try to make trouble.
The goblin waved a guard over. "Sharpaxe will show you the way." Turning to the guard and speaking in gobbledygook, he gave him his instructions.
Following the guard, the three humans soon arrived at a simple door. The guard knocked before opening the door, allowing them entrance.
"Madam Bones," the goblin behind the somewhat large desk greeted. "and young Mr. Potter, this is a surprise." Like the other goblins who had seen Harry, he barely managed to conceal his rage at the bruises he could see on the young boy.
"I imagine it is," Amelia agreed.
"I am Clawtooth, what can Gringots help you with today?"
"Greetings Clawtooth, may your gold forever increase and your enemies forever decrease," Amelia replied.
"Well met Madam Bones," Clawtooth responded.
"Have you read the Potter wills?" Amelia asked.
"Then you will not be pleased by what I have to tell you," she warned him. "Dumbledore ignored the instructions of Lady Potter."
"In what way?" Clawtooth demanded. He was clearly angry.
"It is my understanding that Lady Potter stated her son was to be placed with his grandfather."
"She did," the goblin confirmed.
"Furthermore, I understand that Lady Potter left clear instructions that her son was never to be placed with her sister Petunia Dursley."
Clawtooth snarled. "Are you telling me, Madam Bones, that young Mr. Potter was placed with Lady Potter’s sister?"
"I’m afraid so Clawtooth," Amelia reluctantly admitted. "I recently discovered this and took immediate steps to rectify the situation." Turning to Ginger, she motioned him forward. "This is Mr. Hebblethwaite, Harry’s grandfather."
"Mr. Hebblethwaite," the goblin greeted. "Are you willing to take custody of your grandson today?"
"I am," Ginger quickly replied.
The goblin turned to Harry. "And you, young Mr. Potter, do you wish to live with your grandfather?"
"Yes please," Harry eagerly responded. His happiness at being rescued from the Dursley’s easily over-riding any fear the strange creature had caused in him.
"Do you have the proper paperwork?" Clawtooth asked Amelia.
"I assume you’ll be attaching confidentiality spells to the documents?"
"Of course. As you know, when Dumbledore ignored the instructions in the will he lost his legal rights as executor of the will. Do you know who had been assigned as Harry’s magical guardian?" Sirius would have been, according to Lily, but he would have lost that right when sent to Azkaban prison.
Clawtooth gave her an odd look. "I think you can guess that Madam."
The goblin nodded. "Another guardian will, of course, need to be appointed, unless...yes, that could work," Clawtooth mumbled as he rifled through the papers on his desk.
"Excuse me, sir, but what could work?" Ginger asked. He had never been good with legal issues, add in the Wizarding world and he was completely at sea.
"As the last of the Potter line," Clawtooth replied, looking up, "the young man can be provisionally emancipated."
"Provisionally?" Ginger asked.
"He would be emancipated in the Wizarding world, on the condition that he receives instruction in proper Wizarding etiquette, as well as politics and his duties as Lord of an Ancient and Noble House. Upon his eleventh birthday he would be fully emancipated in the Wizarding world, receiving his head of house ring and taking up the mantle of Lord Potter."
Ginger turned to Amelia. "Do you think this is a good idea?"
Amelia mulled it over, quickly seeing the advantages of such a move. "Yes Mr. Hebblethwaite, I do. If you’re willing, I would happily instruct Harry in those things he needs to know, or arrange for tutors in any areas where I am lacking."
"I would prefer it was you tutoring the lad. I wouldn’t know who else could be trusted." Turning to the goblin, he gave his permission for the emancipation.
Clawtooth grinned. It was an awe inspiring sight. "Do you understand what this means Mr. Potter?" he asked the young boy.
"No sir," Harry quietly replied. He hoped his grandfather and Miss Amelia weren’t disappointed.
"I’m not surprised. It means that in the magical world you would be your own guardian and when you turn eleven you would be considered an adult, in the magical world."
"I could still live with Grandfather, couldn’t I?" Harry fearfully asked. He didn’t want to lose his hero.
"Oh yes, he would still be your guardian in the muggle world."
"Then I guess that would be okay."
"All I need from you, then is a very small drop of blood on this parchment," Clawtooth told him, moving the paper towards him.
Seeing the boy pale, Amelia was quick to explain that it wouldn’t hurt. Casting a numbing spell, she pricked his finger, healing the small cut as soon as the required amount of blood fell to the parchment. "There, that wasn’t very terrible, was it?"
"No ma’am," Harry smiled. He was surprised that it hadn’t hurt. The nurse had said that too, before she gave him his shots, but it had been a lie.
A few signatures later, a couple of confidentiality spells, one keyed to Dumbledore specifically, and the paperwork disappeared, filing itself in both the Ministry of Magic and the muggle government.
"Now," Clawtooth said, "shall we do something about the dark magic lingering in Mr. Potter’s scar?"
"What?" Amelia snapped. "Are you telling me that Harry’s scar wasn’t treated before he was taken to his aunt’s home?"
"Apparently not Madam Bones," Clawtooth confirmed.
"Could it have harmed Harry?"
"Eventually it would have, but fortunately as he has not reached his majority it has not. We can, with the use of a ritual, easily remove the dark magic. This will insure that Mr. Potter comes to no harm from the dark magic."
"Do it," Amelia ordered. She was confident that Ginger would agree with her. A thought occurred to her. "I think perhaps it would be wise to check him for any blocks or spells that have been placed upon him, as well."
Clawtooth nodded. He had always liked Amelia Bones. Unlike most witches and wizards she used the brain she had been given. A short time later, the three humans left the bank. The adoption was complete, his injuries being healed first. Following that, the dark magic had been removed, as had a tracking charm, a block on his magic that would have, if not removed beforehand, weakened him greatly when he began to actively learn magic, and a loyalty charm, keyed to Dumbledore.
"Well laddie, ready to go home?" Ginger asked Harry as they settled back into the car. A large grin was all the answer needed.
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Chapter 6: Chapter 6
"Well lads," Biggles said as the door closed behind Ginger, "what say we begin work on the small parlour?"
"Jolly well certain the lad will be coming home with Ginger, aren’t you?" Algy asked, his tone light.
"Aren’t you?" Biggles asked, leading the way into the parlour.
No need to think about that. "I suppose I am."
"By Jove it’ll be strange having a child in the place, absolutely," Bertie interjected. "I say, old boy, is there a decent school nearby?"
Biggles stood stock still. He hadn’t thought of that. "That will be another thing to see to. Algy, begin a list will you?"
"Sure thing," Algy readily agreed. Stepping into the hall he retrieved the pad and pencil they kept next to the telephone, returning in less than a minute. Quickly jotting down school, he looked towards the others expectantly.
"He’ll need a bed," Bertie suggested.
Bed was added to the list. "And a place to keep his clothes," Algy said as he added bureau to the list. In a short while they had a completed list.
"Shall Bertie and I step out to begin the shopping?" Algy queried.
Biggles shook his head. "I don’t imagine he’s very big. He can sleep on the divan tonight. We can do the shopping tomorrow when we can take Harry with us. It will be his room, he should have some input, don’t you think?"
"Absolutely," Bertie quickly agreed.
"Of course." Algy glanced down at his list once more. "I wonder what he’ll be like," he mumbled absently.
"I expect we shall discover the answer soon enough," Biggles responded, though he knew Algy hadn’t really been asking.
After leaving Gringots, Ginger, Amelia and Harry spent a short time in Diagon Alley purchasing a few books that would help in educating not only Harry but Ginger and the others as well. Their next stop was Marks and Spencers at Marble Arch, very near the flat, where they bought a few outfits and other essentials for the young boy.
"Ready to go home laddie?" Ginger asked as they returned to the car.
"Yes sir," Harry smiled. For the first time since his parents died he would have a real home.
Ginger lowered himself to one knee, bringing him to eye level with Harry. "Harry, do you think you could call me Grandfather?" He hoped his request wouldn’t make the boy uncomfortable.
"I’d like that, Grandfather," Harry quietly replied.
"Good lad," Ginger smiled. Pushing himself to his feet, he took Harry’s hand as they continued to the car. He opened the door for Amelia, closing it after she and Harry were settled in the car. Moving to the other side he climbed behind the wheel and headed for home. Perhaps, he thought as he started the car, he could forgive Rose her callousness in consideration of the gift of his young grandson. He only wished he had been given the chance to know his daughter as well.
Riding next to his grandfather, Harry had never been happier. Yet, now as they moved closer to his grandfather’s home, he grew more nervous. What if Grandfather’s friends didn’t like him? Would they think he was a burden? Would they hate him? What if they made Grandfather take him back to the Dursley’s? He didn’t think he could bear returning to his cupboard. The more he thought, the more his fear grew, until he was fair trembling with the strength of it.
Ginger feeling the small body beginning to shake wrapped an arm around the boy, pulling him closer. "What is it laddie?" he gently asked, moving the car to the curbside. He could have waited until he parked the car in the garage but he felt that it would be cruel to ignore the boy's obvious discomfort.
Harry’s trembling increased. What should he say? Would his grandfather be angry with him? Maybe he would hate him for his fear. Suddenly Harry remembered his earlier promise. How could he be a hero if he was too afraid to answer a simple question? Determined to live up to the example of his grandfather and parents, he squared his small shoulders. "What if your friends don’t like me Grandfather?" he asked in a voice that shook.
"Oh Harry," Ginger whispered. Silently he cursed the Dursley’s for the fear they had instilled in his small grandson. "I promise you Harry, lad, my friends will like you."
"How do you know?"
"Because I know my friends," Ginger replied.
"But what if..." Harry clapped his hand over his mouth. He knew not to question adults.
Ginger gave him an encouraging hug. "It’s alright to doubt laddie. You’ll see, soon enough, that I’m right."
"Yes sir," Harry whispered. He did his best to believe his grandfather. He spent the rest of the short drive reminding himself that his grandfather was a hero and heroes don’t lie. In only moments, too soon for Harry’s liking the car pulled into a garage, the key was turned in the ignition and slipped into a pocket. He looked up at his grandfather as another hug was given.
Harry opened his mouth to reply, but only nodded as his voice deserted him. He sat quietly, slipping out of the car when the door was opened for Ms. Bones. Taking the hand his grandfather offered, he allowed himself to be led into the building.
Biggles and the others were once more sat in the front parlour. The three of them looked up expectantly as the hall door was opened. In a moment Ginger entered the room, a small boy with green eyes by his side, the boy’s hand clasped in his. In Ginger’s other hand he carried some bags from Marks and Spencers.
Biggles frowned. He was no expert but the boy seemed too small for his age. The manner in which he clung to Ginger fairly screamed his fear for any with eyes to see. It seemed the boy’s mother had been correct about her sister. "Hello," he said, "you must be Harry."
Harry nodded and ducked behind Ginger. His face grew hot with shame. He wasn’t acting much like a hero.
"My name is Biggles, I’m a friend of your grandfather’s."
"Hello Mr. Biggles," Harry whispered from behind Ginger’s leg.
As Amelia came into the room, Biggles remained seated, motioning for the others to do the same. In the ordinary way he would have, of course, stood for a lady. However, given the boy’s obvious fear, he worried that he wouldn’t react well should the three of them suddenly stand up. He sent an apologetic look to Ms. Bones. The look she returned told him she understood his breach of manners.
"These gentlemen are also friends of your grandfather. This is Mr. Lissie," he said, motioning to Bertie.
"Hello old boy," Bertie greeted the small lad.
Harry giggled, he couldn’t help it, he wasn’t old. "Hello," his voice a bit louder than before.
"And this," Biggles continued, "is Mr. Lacey."
"Hello lad," Algy said.
Harry shyly returned the greeting.
Ginger took his seat, bringing Harry onto his lap. He didn’t think the boy would like being very far from him just now.
"Everything settled?" Algy asked.
Ginger nodded. "The papers have all been filed." He went on to explain all that had happened since he had left the flat.
"How long do you think it will take until Dumbledore realizes Harry is no longer at the Dursley’s?" Biggles asked Amelia.
"I should think that will depend on how closely he is watching. Not expecting anybody to know where Harry is he may not be monitoring him in any way aside from the tracking charm. With any luck he won’t notice its absence for awhile. Clearly he wasn’t checking too closely or he would know of the ill treatment the child received. I should prefer that to the thought that he knew and simply didn’t care to step in," Amelia admitted.
"You’re certain that he won’t be able to access the custody papers?"
"Absolutely certain," she assured them all. "If it would make you feel better I could add a layer of protection."
"In what way?" Ginger asked.
"I could cast a spell called the Fidelius. It would hide your location within one person, the secret keeper. Unless the secret keeper tells a person the location they could stand directly in front of your flat and not see it."
"I don’t see how that would work," Algy said. "What of the postman, friends, colleagues?"
"Of course, I hadn’t thought of that. A charm to repel magicals wouldn’t work either or both Harry and I should have trouble." Amelia thought for a moment. "I could cast some monitoring charms to alert me if Dumbledore or anyone with ill intent were to approach your home."
"That could work," Biggles agreed. "While I believe we’re all capable of handling ourselves in any emergency, it wouldn’t hurt to have a bit of extra protection. We would, after all, be at a disadvantage against a wizard."
Ginger nodded. He turned to Amelia. "If you wouldn’t mind, we would be in your debt," he said.
"Certainly," Amelia replied. Taking out her wand she made short work of casting the necessary spells. "Now gentlemen, I think it is time I took my leave of you." Standing up she was unsurprised when Mr. Bigglesworth rose to his feet.
"Allow me to see you to the door," he said.
At the door, Biggles turned to Amelia. "I want to thank you Ms. Bones."
"There’s no need for that Mr. Bigglesworth," Amelia assured him.
"My friends call me Biggles," he said.
Amelia smiled, giving a nod of acknowledgement. "As I said Biggles there is no need for thanks. I should have checked further six years ago. If I had done my duty Harry would never have suffered a day of abuse."
"Perhaps, but you did attempt, those years ago, to do your duty. More importantly, when you learned that Harry wasn’t where he belonged you made immediate efforts to correct your mistakes. Many people would have been content to ignore what they had learned rather than admit to an error in judgement."
"I couldn’t do that," was the firm reply.
"No, I don’t suppose you could," Biggles agreed. "At any rate I am grateful for the work you put into reuniting my friend with the grandson he didn’t know of. I believe I speak for all of us when I assure you we will do our best to keep the boy safe. Certainly he will be loved and properly cared for."
"I’m sure he will," Amelia confidently responded. A thought occurring to her, she removed a galleon from her pocket. Casting a quick spell, she handed it to Biggles.
"What is this?" he curiously asked.
"I’ve charmed the coin to act as a signal. If you need to speak to me, for any reason simply hold the coin and say my name," she said. Removing another coin, she cast another spell on it before fashioning it into a necklace, slipping it over her head. "When you do the corresponding coin will heat up and I will come to see you as soon as possible. The monitoring charms I cast will alert me should there be an emergency."
Biggles nodded, slipping the coin into his wallet. "When will you return to begin Harry’s lessons?"
"I think after his birthday would be good. It will give all of you a chance to become use to each other."
"A good idea," Biggles agreed. "Goodbye Ms. Bones..."
"Amelia," Biggles corrected himself. "We shall see you soon."
Closing the door behind her, Biggles turned towards the parlour. As he neared the room he could hear a small giggle coming from within. Smiling, he entered the room ready to become better acquainted with his friend’s unexpected grandson.
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Chapter 7: Chapter 7
The days leading up to Harry’s birthday were busy as the men and boy became used to each other. In addition a school must be found and the boy enrolled, for the beginning of the school year would come all too soon. Wanting someplace close to home and thinking Harry would benefit from a smaller, more intimate, school, they finally settled on St. George’s. Medical and school records must be obtained from the previous primary as well. It was fortunate this could be done without need of the Dursley’s. None of the men had been happy with that family, the more they learned of Harry’s life with them, consequently they would have been hard pressed to hold their tempers.
Harry woke early on the morning of 31st July, a grin plastered across his face. Grandfather had promised a special treat for his birthday. Harry had been surprised. Nobody had ever bothered about his birthday before. Grandfather had scowled at that, when he told him, so had Mr. Biggles. He didn’t know what Mr. Bertie and Mr. Algy thought of it, they hadn’t been at home that day. Harry would have been surprised to know they too hadn’t been happy when Ginger told them.
Too excited to stay in bed, Harry quickly got up. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was a bit early. Grandfather and the others were probably still in bed. Moving quietly, Harry began his preparations for the day. A short while later, clean, properly clothed and bed made, he was ready to begin his day.
Opening his door, as quietly as he could, Harry made his way towards the kitchen. Mrs. Tolliver daughter of their first house keeper, Mrs. Symes, was already in the room, preparing breakfast.
"Good morning Mrs. Tolliver," Harry said as he entered the room.
Mrs. Tolliver turned to the door with a smile for the young boy. "Good morning lad. You’re up early today," she commented.
"It’s my birthday," Harry announced with a grin.
"Is it?" Mrs. Tolliver asked, pretending ignorance.
Harry nodded. "Didn’t Grandfather tell you?" He could feel his earlier excitement subsiding. If Grandfather didn’t tell Mrs. Tolliver, maybe he had only been teasing about the special treat. The Dursley’s had often teased him; he hadn’t thought Grandfather would do such things.
Seeing the disappointed look, Anne Tolliver could have kicked herself. She sometimes forgot that young Harry didn’t always react as most children would. "Of course he did lad, I was only having a bit of fun with you."
"Oh," Harry said, relief clearly heard in his voice. "Mrs. Tolliver, I don’t understand how that was fun?"
Anne thought furiously. How was she to explain the fun in playful teasing? "I suppose it might not be fun for everybody," she admitted. "It’s only meant to be a bit of playfulness. I used to do the same with my own children, when they were little and they never failed to giggle. It tickled them I suppose because they knew I was only teasing. I should have thought that you wouldn’t know I was teasing. I’m sorry lad."
"It’s okay Mrs. Tolliver," Harry assured her. Truthfully, now that she had explained, he felt a bit special. She must like him if she would share with him something she had done with her own children. He hugged the thought to himself.
"Would you like me to set the table Mrs. Tolliver?" Harry quietly asked.
"That would be a help lad, thank you," Anne smiled.
"You’re welcome." Moving to the cupboard, Harry removed the breakfast dishes, carrying them to the dining room. With efficiency beyond his years, he soon had the table ready for the meal Mrs. Tolliver was making for them all. By this time he could hear the others moving about in their rooms as they readied themselves for the day.
Ginger was the first to enter the room. "Happy birthday Harry lad."
Harry looked up, a grin spreading over his face. "Thank you Grandfather. Shall I fetch you a cup?"
"It’s your birthday laddie, you shouldn’t be serving me." In truth Ginger disliked the subservient tendencies Harry showed, suspecting they weren’t wholly the result of natural inclination.
"I don’t mind Grandfather." Harry said, a serious look upon his face.
"I know you don’t laddie, but I can fetch my own tea," Ginger assured him. Suiting action to words Ginger soon fixed himself a cup of tea, pouring a glass of juice for Harry as well.
It wasn’t long before the others joined them, more birthday greetings being given as each man entered the room. Later after a full fry up, in honour of Harry’s birthday, the group moved to the parlour.
Harry, already enjoying a better birthday than any he could remember, was shocked at the sight of gaily wrapped gifts adorning the small table next to his usual seat. He felt his eyes filling with tears. He didn’t understand why, he wasn’t sad, quite the opposite in fact.
Dropping to one knee, Ginger wrapped an arm around the boy. "Alright laddie?"
"Are they really for me?" Harry whispered, his eyes never leaving the gift laden table.
"It isn’t somebody else’s birthday is it?" Ginger asked with a wink and a smile.
"I’ve never had gifts before. Should I open them now?" he asked uncertainly.
Suppressing his anger over another hurt inflicted by the Dursley’s, Ginger answered in the affirmative.
Once given permission Harry quickly moved to the table. Picking up the first gift he carefully removed the wrapping, laying the paper aside. This procedure was followed for each gift. None of the men had known what a boy of today would like and so had chosen to stick to classics. From Algy there was a set of Paddington Bear books, from Biggles some simple model aircraft, Bertie had given him a stuffed Paddington bear to go with Algy’s gift and from Ginger there was a new bicycle, wheeled in from the hall.
After warmly thanking each man, Harry plopped down in his chair, Paddington tucked under his arm and a book in his hands. As he read the first book, his eyes kept darting to the models and the bike, hardly daring to believe they were for him. An indeterminate amount of time later, Harry was startled by his grandfather’s voice.
"You need to put your things away now Harry," Ginger said.
"Yes sir," Harry said. Reluctantly he closed his book, marking his place first. Sliding out of the chair, he, with help from Ginger, gathered his things and carried them to his room.
"Change your house shoes for trainers and we’ll be ready to go," Ginger told him.
"I promised you a special treat, remember?"
Harry’s eyes grew wide. "There’s more? I don’t deserve so much Grandfather," he protested.
"Laddie you deserve all I can give you," Ginger quickly corrected him, giving the boy a hug. Once more he found himself wishing for the chance to mete out a bit of punishment to the Dursley’s. Honestly, such thoughts were becoming a habit, understandable though it might be.
"Ginger we’re ready whenever you are," Biggles said from the door.
Ginger nodded. He helped Harry into his trainers and soon they were on their way. As they drove towards their destination, Ginger had to grin. He wasn’t sure who was more excited, himself, Harry or his friends. Really it would be a close call, if it were a race it would certainly be a photo finish.
The drive didn’t take long and soon they were pulling into the aero club, His grin grew as he saw Harry’s eyes widening comically.
"Are we going to see an aeroplane?" Harry excitedly asked.
"Better than that laddie," Biggles answered from the front of the car. "How would you like to go up?"
"Fly? Really?" Harry was nearly bouncing in his excitement. Turning to his grandfather he gave the man a tight hug. "Thank you Grandfather, you’re a genius!"
"Come on then," Biggles said, chuckling quietly over the boy’s enthusiasm. It reminded him a bit of another boy, albeit Ginger had been older when first they met. Climbing from the car, the men set about performing the pre-flight checks on the old Phoenix they had bought together upon their retirements. Soon they were taxiing to the runway, prepared for takeoff.
Harry stared out the window as the plane rose in the air. He was unaware of the men who watched with joy as the boy they were all growing to care for experienced his first flight. Later, as Harry sat in the co-pilot seat, in Ginger’s lap, small hands covered by larger ones wrapped around the joystick, he thought it wasn’t possible that he could ever be happier.
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A/N: I got the idea for Harry to tell Ginger he was a genius from my own youngest child. When she was about Harry's age this was what she would always say to me whenever I gave her a special treat of any sort. I tell you, being told your a genius by your child is a great feeling, much better than a simple thank you and quite fun. I thought it would be nice to give Ginger and the fellows that same fun.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
The remainder of the summer was spent learning something of his heritage from Amelia Bones alongside a smattering of Wizarding law. This kept him quite busy, though not so busy that there wasn’t time for fun.
8th August, 1987
Most afternoons found him in a nearby park with his grandfather and at least one of the others as he learned to ride his new bicycle. Possessing unusually good balance, it didn’t take Harry long at all and soon he was speeding up and down the paths set aside for bikes.
Ginger enjoyed these outings as much as Harry did. Each moment spent with his grandson sewed another stitch in the tear Rose had left on his heart and soul those many years ago. To see him grinning with joy had Ginger laughing along with the boy.
There were darker moments too. Moments in which he would think of the fearful child he’d found hidden away in a cupboard and he would once more be fighting the urge to strangle the Dursley’s and Dumbledore.
The worst moments, by far, were when his little Harry would flinch back from him or one of the others. The Wizarding healers assured him that this would lessen in time. He knew himself, from his own history, that they were right. In the meantime it was exceedingly difficult to see. All he could do, all any of them could do, in those moments was reassure the boy that while they might be a bit upset they would never resort to violence. Though they had all been brought up in a time when physical punishment was the norm, Ginger had vowed that Harry would never be punished in this way. He knew, as they all did, that a simple spanking was not the same as a beating. However, given Harry’s history Ginger thought it best, and the others agreed that any punishment come in the form of losing privileges or an extra chore.
10th August, 1987
Harry giggled, hiding his face in Paddington’s fur. "Did you really dress like a lady Grandfather?" As they did many evenings, Algy and Bertie had once more been regaling Harry with tales from their younger days, suitably edited for their young audience of course.
"What have you been telling him now?" Ginger demanded, glaring at his friends.
Harry’s giggles stopped. He hadn’t meant to make his grandfather mad. He blinked back the tears that wanted to fall. He shouldn’t have said anything.
A pointed look from Algy had Ginger turning his attention back to his small grandson. He’d forgotten for the moment how any show of anger, even playful anger, could hurt the lad. "Well if they’re going to tell tales on me I think it only fair that I return the favour don’t you Harry, lad?"
Harry shot his grandfather an uncertain look. "Are you mad?"
"Not really, just a bit embarrassed," Ginger was quick to reply. Any hesitancy on his part would have the boy worrying again. Sitting down he patted his knee, inviting Harry to join him. Once the lad was settled, he cheerfully began his own tale telling, much to the chagrin of Algy and Bertie.
15th August, 1987
"Mr. Biggles," Harry said "would you help me with my model?"
"Of course laddie," Biggles easily replied. "Have you got all your things?"
"Yes sir, they’re on my table," Harry replied. Upon furnishing the child’s room they had provided, upon the advice of the salesman, a small table with chairs. This would give Harry a place to work on whatever he might want to, be it drawing, his models, or later his schoolwork.
"Lead on laddie," Biggles grinned. He had to admit, though he would never tell Ginger, he had been uncertain about bringing a child into their home. He had, of course, brought Ginger himself into his home as a child. He, however, had been a nearly grown lad of fifteen, not a small child of seven. He had worried that they were too advanced in age to keep up with an active child. Happily he had been proven wrong. While they might not move as quickly as in their younger years, it seemed it wasn’t the problem he had feared it would become.
25th August, 1987
"Grandfather, would you read to me?" Harry asked once he was ready for bed. Never having been read to before, not that he could remember, nor tucked in for the night; Harry had quickly decided this was his favourite part of the day.
"Of course Harry, lad," Ginger smiled. Taking the Paddington book in one hand and Harry’s hand in the other, he led the boy to his bedroom. "In bed with you lad," he said as he pulled back the covers.
Where many children would argue, Harry happily complied with the instruction. Snuggling down under the covers, he grinned up at his grandfather as the man gently tucked the blanket around him. "I like when you tuck me in Grandfather."
"Oh and why is that Harry, lad?" Ginger asked with a smile.
"It’s feels like a hug and when I’m sleeping it’s as if you’re hugging me, keeping me safe," Harry seriously replied.
Ginger was taken aback at the response. He didn’t know what he’d expected but it certainly hadn’t been the answer he’d received. "I’ll always do my best to keep you safe laddie," he said after a momentary pause. Swallowing the sudden wave of emotion, he brought the book to his lap, opening it to the place last marked. "Now then, what do you say we find out what Paddington will get up to next?"
"Yes please," Harry replied, a happy smile spreading over his face.
1st September 1987
Harry Potter, known in the muggle world as Harry Hebblethwaite, stood uncertainly in the play-yard. The morning had been pleasant enough. His new teacher Mr. Lowell was a nice man and here there was no Dudley to tease and bully him. Now though, now he was in the play-yard alone with the other children, with only one teacher to watch over them. Harry knew from his old school that even if the teacher were nice she couldn’t be everywhere at once.
"Hello, my name is Hermione Granger," a bushy-haired girl from his class said.
Harry startled, he’d been so lost in his worries that he hadn’t noticed her until she spoke. "Hello, I’m Harry Hebblethwaite. It’s nice to meet you Hermione," he politely responded, stumbling a bit over her name.
"Are they ignoring you too?"
"I don’t think so. Are they you?"
"They often do."
"That’s not very nice."
"It’s alright really," Hermione assured him. "I don’t like to play some of the games they do." She didn’t tell Harry that the usual reason for their behaviour had to do with her love of books and learning.
"Oh," Harry said. He wasn’t quite sure how to respond. "Would you like to swing?" he asked after a moment.
Hermione smiled her entire face lighting up. "I’d like that."
They spent the rest of the break playing together. By the end of the period they were fast friends, swearing to remain friends forever.
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A/N: I don't of course know if the park near their flat would have bike trails. If it doesn't please ignore the inaccuracy and chalk it up to dramatic license.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
10th October 1987
Arabella Figg lowered the receiver into its cradle with hands that shook. What could have happened in the weeks she’d been gone? What would Albus say? Collapsing into a chair next to the table, Arabella sat thinking of what to do. She could write a letter, but what would she say? Did he even read her missives? Arabella had her doubts on that score. If he did read them, she could only conclude that he thought her worries unfounded.
Arabella knew that Harry wasn’t treated properly at the Dursley’s and had told Albus more than once. He would only smile, when he bothered to floo her, that surely it wasn’t as bad as all that. Harry was just an active boy and sometimes, when raising boys, a firm hand was needed. Most of the time, though, he simply ignored her messages all together. It looked as though Albus was only worried about protecting the boy from Death Eaters.
Thinking it over, Arabella began to think perhaps young Harry would be better off with this grandfather. She didn’t care for the fact that they had no idea where the boy was and that was a fact. What if this man was a Death Eater in disguise? No, that couldn’t be. No Death Eater would be able to behave in such a muggle manner as the one Mrs. Dursley had described. Aside from that, hadn’t Albus said the wards would prevent any with ill intentions, and especially Death Eaters, from entering the property? So, Death Eater or an unmarked supporter was ruled out. That left the option of the man actually being Harry’s grandfather.
The question then was, would Harry be better off with this grandfather or should he be returned to the Dursley’s? The answer was clear to Arabella but would Albus agree? That brought her to the next question, should she tell Albus of what had transpired in her absence? Yes, she finally decided after a great deal of thought, she had a duty to inform Albus. Nothing said she had to inform him quickly or in a way that would bring attention to the message. Taking out parchment and quill, both spelled by Albus so that none but the two of them could read any messages, she quickly outlined what she knew. Sealing the letter, she gathered her things for a trip to London. There she would visit Diagon Alley and mail her letter, as she always did.
15th October 1987
"Miss Amelia, you said that some wizards and witches are born to muggles?" Harry asked.
"Yes Harry, that’s right, they’re called muggleborns," Amelia confirmed.
"How can you tell if somebody is a muggleborn?"
Amelia wondered what could have brought about such a question. "The Ministry has a list of all the muggleborns in the U.K., their names appear as soon as they perform a bit of accidental magic. Is there a reason you asked?"
"I think a girl in my school is a muggleborn," Harry said.
"I see. Why do you think that?"
Harry hesitated. He wasn’t sure how to explain it. "She feels like me," he finally said.
Amelia could see that Harry was confused. She knew, however, that children could often sense the magic of other children. It was thought that this was due to the fact that as their magic was untrained they would be naturally drawn to those with magic, recognizing the feeling of magic even if they were unaware of it. In simple words she explained this to Harry. "Is this girl a friend?"
"Yes ma’am," Harry replied with a grin. "Her name is Hermione Granger and she’s my best friend."
"Have you told her that you think she’s a witch?" Amelia nervously asked. If the girl was in fact a witch it wouldn’t violate the statute of secrecy to tell her, but if she wasn’t trouble could be in the offing.
"No ma’am," Harry shook his head. "I wasn’t sure if she was and I didn’t know if she’d like to know." Harry paused, gathering his courage. Once he knew that it was okay to show his intelligence, he had no trouble asking questions related to learning. Other questions, particularly those that involved asking for privileges or other things, were more difficult to ask.
"Miss Amelia, do you think Hermione, if she is a witch, could attend lessons with me?" he timidly asked after some moments of silence.
"Muggleborns aren’t usually introduced to the Wizarding world until they receive their Hogwarts letter."
"Oh," Harry sighed, clearly disappointed.
"I’ve always thought that was short-sighted," Amelia admitted.
"What do you mean Miss Amelia?"
"I believe, Harry, many of the problems between muggleborns and purebloods stem from a lack of understanding. Pureblood children know little or nothing of the muggle world and muggleborns enter the Wizarding world with no understanding of the culture and customs of that world. This is bound to lead to conflict as the muggleborns see things within the Wizarding world that are archaic at best and barbaric at worst. Some ignore what they see in favour of getting along while others attempt to change thousands of years of tradition in a misguided effort to bring the magical world into modern times."
"And that’s bad?"
"Desiring change isn’t bad Harry, however, ignoring tradition without understanding the reasons behind it can be bad."
"I don’t understand Miss Amelia."
"Would you like it if a stranger came into your home and began criticising the way in which you live? If they insisted you change your way of life to suit them, ignoring any attempts to explain why you choose to live the way you do? If they made absolutely no effort to understand that some of your behaviours might be necessary for your health?"
Harry thought this over. "I suppose I wouldn’t like it," he admitted.
"It would be much easier if muggleborns were taught about the world they’re going to be entering before they arrive. If that can’t be done they should be given classes on Wizarding culture, customs and laws during their first year at Hogwarts. Purebloods also need to learn about muggle culture, customs and laws so that they can better understand the mindset of their muggleborn classmates."
"Why don’t they have classes like that?"
"Mostly it is because the Wizarding world is slow to change," Amelia admitted. "Having explained my views I should like to meet your Miss Granger."
"Yes I would and if she is a muggleborn witch I will speak with her parents, offering to teach your friend alongside you. That is, of course, if they and your grandfather agree."
"You’re a genius!" Harry grinned. "Thank you, I’ll go ask grandfather right now." He stood up, took a step and turned back to Amelia. "May I be excused?"
Amelia smiled. "You may, when you return with your grandfather we can discuss a time when I can meet your friend."
Harry nodded before turning and hurrying from the room in search of his grandfather. He returned a few minutes later with not only his grandfather but the other men as well.
"What’s this Harry’s telling us about his friend?" Biggles asked as soon they entered the room.
"Harry thinks she may be a witch," Amelia easily replied. "I should like to meet her and, if she is a witch, offer her lessons alongside Harry, minus Potter family history of course."
"Do you think she could be a witch?" Ginger asked.
"I think it quite possible. Children often sense magic in others, despite a lack of training. Those who have studied such things believe it is simply that the raw magic they possess is calling to that possessed by others. They believe it is an instinct we’re born with that in ancient times, before the formation of schools, would have made it easier for magic users to find one another."
"That makes sense," Biggles admitted. "Still we’re trying to keep Harry’s whereabouts a secret, if you begin teaching others how long will it be before somebody notices?"
"A valid point, however, I don’t believe it will be an issue. I would only be teaching one muggleborn and she doesn’t know Harry is a Potter," Amelia pointed out.
"And if he finds others?" Algy asked.
"Doubtful, wizards and witches aren’t as common as you might imagine. Therefore the chances of Harry meeting another muggleborn at his school, particularly as it is so small, are not very high."
The men looked at each other. After so many years working and living together they could often communicate without words. This was one of those times. A consensus reached, Ginger gave his permission for Hermione to join Harry in his lessons with Amelia. Always assuming, of course, that she is a witch and her parents give permission as well.
20th October, 1987
Hogwarts castle: Headmaster’s office:
Albus Dumbledore opened a letter from Arabella Figg, the squib he had placed in a Surrey neighbourhood with orders to watch over young Harry Potter. He wasn’t worried by the letter. He knew that if there was an emergency Arabella would contact him through Libby, the Hogwarts house elf he had assigned to act as contact between them in an emergency. This letter, having come through the post wouldn’t contain anything of importance. It had in fact arrived several days earlier, but he had laid it aside, having more important things to attend to.
I have some distressing news to share with you concerning young Harry Potter. As I have mentioned before, the Dursley’s don’t care for the boy...
At this point Dumbledore stopped reading. The letter was, as he had expected, nothing more than the usual complaints Arabella periodically made concerning the boy’s treatment. He knew, of course, had always known, that the Dursley’s weren’t going to treat the boy as well as they should. There simply was no place else for him to live and be safe from the Death Eaters. The fact that he would likely see whoever removed him from the Dursley’s as a saviour was a bonus which Albus was more than willing to take advantage of.
Tossing the letter into the fire, Dumbledore watched as it was reduced to ashes. He decided there was no need to respond to the letter. There was nothing he could say that would convince Arabella that he was right and he was too busy readying Hogwarts for the Halloween feast to waste time continuing a pointless argument with the old squib.
31st October, 1987
Arabella Figg sat on her front lawn, handing out candy to the neighbourhood children, a satisfied smile on her face. If she were ever asked she could say she had done her duty in contacting Albus. She wasn’t to blame if he assumed, from the opening of the letter, that she was once more complaining about the treatment Harry received from the Dursley’s.
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Chapter 10: Chapter 10
1st November, 1987
The day following his conversation with Amelia, Harry had wasted no time in issuing an invitation to Hermione and her parents for tea. The reason given had been that as Harry wished for Hermione to visit him in his home his grandfather thought it a good idea for the adults to meet one another. As this sounded reasonable to the Grangers they readily agreed. Unfortunately they were quite busy and couldn’t possibly come for tea right away. Thus 1st November was the earliest opportunity for the small get together.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Tolliver," Amelia greeted the housekeeper.
"Good afternoon Madame," came the stiff reply. Being in the flat as often as she was it had been necessary to include Mrs. Tolliver in the secret of the magical world. To her credit she had not ran screaming from the room, nor did she fail to treat Harry as any other child, yet, she was clearly not at ease. This was perhaps in part due to the secrecy spell Amelia had cast upon her which would prevent her from discussing the magical world with any who were not already aware of it.
For her part Amelia had not enjoyed casting the spell. However, as Mrs. Tolliver was not a direct relative of a magical child it was the only way to ensure she would not reveal things necessarily kept secret. She hoped that the woman would eventually thaw towards her, but for the time being she ignored the slight tension in the air. At least they could be grateful that her discomfort wasn’t affecting her interactions with Harry.
"Madame Bones sirs," Mrs. Tolliver announced as they entered the parlour.
"Gentlemen," Amelia greeted, giving a small nod to the room at large as she moved to her customary seat. The men and Harry resumed their seats upon Amelia taking her seat.
"Is there anything we need to do before the Grangers arrive?" Biggles asked.
"No need for anything special," Amelia replied. "Just as a child can sense the magic of another child so an adult witch or wizard can sense the magic of another. The difference is simply a matter of training. Children will sense magic on an instinctive level and often don’t know what they are sensing. Adults on the other hand, as our magic has been trained, are able to reach out to those around us in order to determine if there is any other magical in the vicinity."
"That must be the Grangers," Ginger said as the bell sounded. "Calm down Harry," he smiled at his grandson, "Mrs. Tolliver will bring them in momentarily."
"Yes Grandfather," Harry said as he did his best to obey.
"The Grangers sirs," Mrs. Tolliver announced, stepping aside for the small family as they entered the room.
Rising to their feet, the men allowed Ginger to take the lead. "Hello, you must be Hermione’s parents," he said as he held out his hand. "I’m Harry’s grandfather Ginger Hebblethwaite."
"Hello, I’m Dan Granger," the father a man in his early thirties said. "This is my wife Emma," he continued as Ginger turned to greet Hermione’s mother.
"Hello Mr. Hebblethwaite, a pleasure," Emma said.
"The pleasure is mine Mrs. Granger," Ginger returned with a small smile.
"I believe you know our daughter Hermione," Dan continued.
"Yes sir, I had the pleasure of meeting her when I dropped Harry off for school one day." Turning to the girl, Ginger gave her a wink. "How are you today Miss Hermione?"
Hermione blushed. "I’m well sir, and you?"
"Quite well, thank you." After introductions were effected the party resumed their seats, or in the case of the Grangers found their seats.
For a while the room was filled with small talk as the adults got to know one another while the children, sitting near each other, spoke of the things that interested them. During this time, unknown to the Grangers, Amelia had reached out with her magic. It only took a moment to confirm Harry’s suspicions.
"Ginger? Seems an odd name, if you don’t mind my saying so?" Dan questioned, overcome by curiosity.
"Yes, well I never cared much for my real name," Ginger explained.
"My hair, in my youth, was red and when Biggles first met me, as he didn’t know my name, took to calling me Ginger. As I didn’t care for my own name I was happy enough with the change," Ginger smiled.
Dan returned the smile. "Understandable," he conceded. "I had a cousin by the name of Angus he hated the name so much that he used only his last name except in situations where that wasn’t possible."
"Ah, Mrs. Tolliver," Biggles greeted as the housekeeper came to the door. "If you would serve the tea."
A short time later the party was enjoying their tea, the small talk continuing between bites of cakes and sips of tea. Mrs. Tolliver returning later to clear away the tea things.
The tea things gone there developed a slight tension in the air which the Grangers quickly sensed. They quelled the urge to question it, trusting that whatever topic there was to be discussed would soon be forthcoming. In this they were not disappointed.
"Mr. and Mrs. Granger I’m afraid we have a slight confession to make," Ginger said, opening the conversation.
"A confession?" Emma asked.
"Yes," Ginger confirmed. "You see we didn’t invite you to tea only so that we could meet you. We wished for Amelia to meet you as well, specifically Hermione."
"Hermione? I don’t understand, why would you want your friend to meet Hermione?" Dan asked. He could see by the look on her face that his wife was as confused as he.
"May I Ginger?" Amelia interrupted.
"I wished to meet Hermione because Harry had sensed something special about her. Unfortunately Harry doesn’t have the necessary training to confirm this, I do."
"Well yes we think Hermione is special, but I don’t quite understand," Emma said.
"Have you ever noticed anything strange happening around Hermione? Perhaps when her emotions are running high?"
"Um, well, I’m sure it was just our imagination," Emma hedged.
"What was it?"
The Grangers exchanged a look. "Once a toy she wanted seemed to float off the shelf and into her hands," Dan finally admitted.
"Another time a boy who was teasing her suddenly started itching and had to run home," Emma added. "Is that the sort of thing you mean?"
"That is exactly the sort of thing I mean," Amelia confirmed. "Those things were caused by accidental magic."
"Magic? Magic isn’t real," protested the Granger parents almost as one.
"Actually it is quite real and your daughter has been gifted with it. Hermione is a witch, as am I and as Harry is a wizard."
"Oh Harry!" Hermione squealed excitedly. "Are you really? Am I?"
"I...how can we believe this?" Dan demanded, beginning to get over his shock.
"Perhaps a demonstration would help," Amelia offered. Taking out her wand she quickly transfigured the table into a lamp, followed by a chair and then back to a table.
The Grangers stared in shock at the table. Emma regained her voice first. "And Hermione, our Hermione, can do things like that?"
"In time," Amelia replied. "She will need training, many years of training."
"Is that why you’re here, to offer training?" Dan asked.
"Of a sort. Magical children don’t begin their formal education in magic until they are eleven. At that time Hermione will receive an acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. It’s a boarding school in Scotland. She, along with Harry will attend the school for seven years."
"What if we don’t agree?" Dan was getting angry. Who did these people think they were? Just taking it for granted that they would agree to send their only child away over seven years, for most of every year.
"We can’t force you to comply Mr. Granger, but I can tell you the alternative is not pleasant."
Emma paled, her imagination running a bit wild. "Not pleasant?"
"Muggleborns, that is the name for magical children born to non-magical parents, who do not seek education at a magical school have their magic stripped from them and their memories erased."
"That’s...it’s barbaric," Emma protested.
Ginger and the others nodded their heads in agreement. They were as surprised as the Grangers. It had never occurred to them to wonder what would happen if a child’s parents refused to send them to the Wizarding school.
"I agree it seems so," Amelia said. "However, if a child doesn’t receive training for their magic it will eventually become unstable leading to catastrophic consequences."
"We don’t seem to have any real choice," Dan groused.
"Do you really wish to deny your daughter her heritage?" Amelia asked.
Dan and Emma looked at each other. "I don’t suppose so. It’s all rather a lot to take in," Emma responded for them both.
"I imagine it is," Amelia conceded.
"You said this schooling doesn’t begin until Hermione is eleven. Why are you approaching us now?" Dan asked.
"A very good question Mr. Granger. It was at Harry’s request. You see he was orphaned as an infant. His mother was Mr. Hebblethwaite’s daughter but his father was a pureblood wizard. In order to take his rightful place in Wizarding society Harry needs to be taught our customs and laws as well as his family heritage. When he sensed that Hermione might also be magical he asked if she could be included in his education. I readily agreed as I believe muggleborns would be well served if they were educated about the world they’re entering. Therefore, if you agree, Hermione would attend lessons with Harry three afternoons a week. This would have her very well prepared for the Wizarding world when she officially enters Hogwarts," Amelia explained.
Dan and Emma didn’t believe in making important decisions, especially those that impacted their daughter, without at least hearing her thoughts. They asked for those thoughts now.
Hermione had listened to the conversation in wide-eyed wonder, not making a sound except for the one small outburst. It was quite a lot to take in, as her mother had said, but Hermione was a very bright child able to quickly process information. "Mummy, daddy, I should quite like to learn about the Wizarding world. Harry is my best friend and as we’ll both be going to magical school later it would be sensible to learn all we can about it."
"I suppose we can’t really deny Hermione the opportunity," Dan conceded.
"And as Mrs. Bones said it would be an advantage to know something of the world she’ll be entering in a few years," Emma added.
"Right," Dan nodded. Looking directly at his child, he allowed a smile to cross his face. "You have our permission love."
Hermione flew into her parent’s arms, hugging them each in turn. "Oh thank you daddy, thank you mummy." Returning to sit next to Harry she grabbed his hand, giving it a small squeeze. "Oh Harry this is going to be so interesting," she gushed, bringing a smile to the faces of the adults.
This settled, the children ran off to Harry’s room to play while the adults worked out a schedule of studies.
Before she left, Amelia impressed upon the Grangers the need for secrecy and the consequences should they reveal the existence of the magical world to anybody. Swearing that they would never do anything to endanger their daughter and revealing the Wizarding world would certainly do just that, they assured Amelia of their silence. Knowing that having a child to protect the Grangers could be trusted not to slip up, there was no need, in Amelia’s opinion, to cast a secrecy spell upon them.
Taking her leave, Amelia promised to return in two days to resume the lessons for the children.
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Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Christmas day night 1987
Ginger peaked his head into Harry’s room a fond smile crossing his face as he watched the boy. Even in sleep the child’s face wore a large grin. He wasn’t really surprised. Harry had told him, as he tucked him in, that this had been the best Christmas ever. He suspected the child would think that even had the celebration been a poor one; the Dursley’s having likely never allowed him to participate in their Christmas.
He would always remember the way the child’s entire face had lit up when he stepped into the parlour that morning. The sight of the tree, presents piled under it was indeed a sight to behold. Thinking the child was excited by the presents Father Christmas had left they soon found that he was very nearly as excited over the presents he had to distribute.
Having more time to prepare for Christmas than they had had for Harry’s birthday, the presents were more along the lines of what other children his age would receive. Oddly and yet he wasn’t really surprised, there had been two things which Harry had seemed most excited by...a set of child’s encyclopaedias, courtesy of Algy and the Christmas cracker. Deprived most of his life of the simplest of pleasures Harry had yet to develop a desire for expensive, flashy things. Ginger hoped he never would.
"Sleep well laddie," Ginger whispered before quietly closing the door.
"Now Harry I want you to stay out of the parlour for a bit," Ginger told the child as he opened the door to the flat.
Harry looked up at his grandfather in confusion. He went into the parlour everyday after school. Mr. Biggles, Algy and Bertie liked to ask him about his day at school and what had he learned.
Seeing the confusion Ginger quickly explained that Biggles was working and wasn’t to be disturbed. "We’ll have our snack in the dining room," he added. Taking Harry’s coat, Ginger hung it in the hall closet while the child took his satchel to his room.
"Grandfather isn’t Mr. Biggles retired?" Harry asked as he returned to the hall.
"Mostly lad," Ginger replied.
"There you are old boy," Bertie greeted them as they entered the dining room. "Did you learn many things today lad?"
"Yes sir," Harry answered automatically, his attention still on his grandfather. "What do you mean Grandfather?" There were a few people in Little Whinging who were retired and he knew they never worked at anything, unless gossiping counted. Harry didn’t think Mr. Biggles would gossip.
"You know from the stories we’ve told you that we all used to be policemen?"
"Well lad, Biggles was the best there was. He could often see patterns others would miss. That’s not to say he didn’t make mistakes, everybody does," Ginger added. He didn’t want Harry to start thinking that any of them were infallible; he knew Biggles would agree with him.
"But isn’t he too old to go on adventures? I’m sorry Grandfather," Harry immediately apologized. Though none of the men had ever hit him he couldn’t stop the flinch when Ginger reached for him. He relaxed when the man only ruffled his hair and chuckled, though the laugh seemed a bit strained.
Ginger forced himself to ignore the flinch. He didn’t want to draw attention to the boy’s reaction. After the way the Dursley’s had treated him it was to be expected that the child would be prepared for a strike for any mistake, real or perceived. As normally as possible, he ruffled the child’s hair in response. "No need to apologize laddie when you’re right. He is a bit past the age to have adventures; we all are if it comes to that. The thing is that Biggles was so good that people still come to him for help. Detectives, mostly, but sometimes ordinary people as well, will bring cases to Biggles when they’re having trouble solving them. While he can’t go adventuring, he is often able to point them in the right direction."
Harry thought this over for a moment. "How can he do that if he isn’t able to go to where the things happened?"
Ginger smiled. "By applying logic laddie."
"What is logic Grandfather?"
"Hmm, well laddie I suppose the best way to explain it is to say that logic is looking at all the facts you have and then putting them together in the way that best makes sense."
Algy and Bertie exchanged amused glances; fancy trying to explain logic to a seven year old.
"You mean like when I met you and knew I should go with you?"
"No laddie that was more likely instinct than logic." More like desperation Ginger thought to himself. He wished there was something that could be done to punish the Dursley’s but that would bring attention to the fact that Harry was no longer living with them. He would have to remember to discuss it with Amelia. Perhaps it would be worth the risk. His sense of justice was offended at the thought of them escaping their actions without consequence.
"Oh." Harry hung his head. He was sorry to have disappointed his grandfather.
Ginger shot a look towards his friends. Couldn’t one of them think of a way to explain logic to the boy?
Taking pity on him, Algy searched his memory for an example that Harry would understand. Suddenly it came to him. "Do you remember lad when we were at the park and that boy had lost his dog?"
"Yes sir," Harry replied. He wondered what that had to do with logic.
Algy smiled. He could see the child was confused. "You knew before he asked that he had lost his dog. How did you know?"
"Because he had a leash in his hand," was the matter-of-fact reply.
"That was logic lad."
"It was," Agly smiled. "You took the facts you knew, he was wandering about the park, holding a leash but without a dog, therefore logic said he had lost his dog."
Harry grinned. "Is that what Mr. Biggles does?"
"It certainly is," Algy confirmed. "Though of course the cases he helps with don’t usually involve lost pets." He thought he had better add that bit before the child began to picture Biggles as some sort of pet locator.
"Do you think I could learn more about logic?" Harry asked, turning to his grandfather.
"I don’t see why not laddie," Ginger answered. He thought it was likely a good idea. From what he had heard of Harry’s lessons with Amelia the Wizarding world didn’t often use logic. Apparently even those raised in the muggle world forgot the use of it after a few years in the Wizarding world.
Look at his daughter, whom in making out her will, failed to state his name. Though he blamed Dumbledore for placing Harry with his aunt and uncle it was likely the man hadn’t realized Lily had meant Ginger when she stated the child was to go to her father. Logically, as Biggles had pointed out to him, the man probably thought she had meant George Evans who by that time had passed on. This in no way excused him for his blatant disregard of Lily’s wishes in placing the child with the Dursleys, nor did it absolve him for his failure to check on the boy. That failure was made worse by the fact that the man had a monitoring charm on the boy, yet had apparently never intervened when Harry was injured by the Dursleys. Furthermore he hadn’t seemed to notice, months after the fact, that the charm had been removed.
"Why don’t you ask Biggles if it would be alright to use some of our old cases to help Harry learn logic, if you see what I mean?" Bertie suggested.
"Capital idea Bertie," Algy agreed. "It would be just the thing to help the boy."
"Please Grandfather," Harry said, turning pleading eyes on the man. He really wanted to learn more about logic, it sounded dead useful.
"I’ll ask him at the first opportunity laddie," Ginger easily promised. He didn’t think Biggles would object. Wasn’t he often heard to complain about the lack of logic exhibited by younger people nowadays? He would of course need to choose the cases carefully. It wouldn’t do to expose Harry to the more upsetting cases they had worked over the years; best to keep to the simple cases where injuries if any were few and minor.
"Thank you Grandfather. Do you think, never mind I shouldn’t ask."
"Harry," Ginger said, placing two fingers under the boy’s chin he gently tilted his head up so he could see his face. "Never be afraid to ask me a question laddie. You can’t learn anything if you don’t ask and I promise the worst I will ever do is to say no." Holding up his hand in the classic pose he added, "Scout’s honour."
Harry swallowed hard. Even after all this time he wasn’t always sure what was allowed and what wasn’t. Life with his grandfather and the others was so very different from life in the Dursley house. "Do you think it would be okay for Hermione to learn too?"
Ginger smiled. "I think that is a wonderful idea laddie. It’s quite nice of you to want to share with your friend." Moving his hand, he ruffled the boy’s hair. "I’ll be sure to include your request when I speak to Biggles."
Speaking to Biggles that evening, permission was soon given. At Biggles’ suggestion it was decided that each of the men would take it in turns to teach the children. This would expose them to different ways of thinking and applying logic, allowing them to determine what worked best for them. It would also show them that there was no one hard and fast means of reaching the proper conclusion. Everybody, no matter their thought processes, could contribute to solving a given problem.
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A/N: I realize they're all adults and Harry is Ginger's grandchild but I felt it wouldn't be right for them to use old casefiles in teaching Harry without first gaining permission from Biggles.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
31st October, 1989
Within a few weeks of beginning her tutoring of Harry, Amelia had known the child would be a powerful wizard. Tonight she had gotten her first indication of the scope of that power. If she hadn’t seen the evidence for herself she wouldn’t have believed it possible. Memories, however, didn’t lie. Working quickly she was able to examine and obliviate the muggles who had witnessed the accidental magic before any official reports were made. Luckily there had been no cameras present to record the activity.
Amelia had stopped by the Mount Street flat on her way to the Halloween ball at the Ministry. As a department head she was required to attend. She had been sorry to miss Ginger and Harry, the former having taking the latter trick or treating. Just about to leave the flat, Amelia had jumped in shock as Harry and Ginger suddenly appeared in the parlour.
"What, where?" Algy stuttered as the two appeared from thin air. His questions would have to wait; he had barely gotten the words out when Biggles rushed forward to catch Harry as he collapsed like a marionette with its strings cut.
"Harry!" Ginger cried out as the boy collapsed, thankfully to be caught by Biggles. Taking a step to follow the older man as he carried the child to his bedroom, Ginger very nearly collapsed himself. Had it not been for Algy and Bertie moving to his side he likely would have done so.
Amelia conjured a glass of brandy which she handed to Algy as they moved Ginger to the sofa. "See that he drinks that. I’ll check on Harry and be back in a moment." So saying, Amelia left the room.
Biggles hadn’t been so frightened in many years. The pallor of the child’s face was terrible to see, especially in one so young. He wondered what could have happened to cause this, was it related to his and Ginger’s sudden appearance in the parlour? He thought it likely. A noise had him turning to see Amelia entering the room.
"Is Ginger alright?"
"I think he’s suffering a bit of shock," Amelia replied. "Let me check Harry."
Biggles stepped aside. "I thought you said you’re not a healer."
"I’m not, but all Aurors are given some basic training, at least enough to make a diagnosis," she answered even as she was casting the diagnostic spells. "Magical exhaustion," Amelia was relieved to see.
"Is that serious?" Biggles asked.
"Not as such," Amelia replied. "Harry need only rest, he may sleep for 24 hours or more, but then he’ll be fine. The only time magical exhaustion becomes serious is if the core is nearly depleted as the risk of core collapse increases greatly."
"What do you suppose happened?"
"I think Harry apparated," was Amelia’s awed response. "I’ll know more after I speak to Ginger," she added. Turning towards the door she headed back to the parlour. "Harry is fine," she announced as she entered the room to find Ginger struggling to gain his feet.
Ginger sank back, his body sagging with relief. When the shock had begun to wear off he remembered his grandson collapsing into Biggles’ arms. Driven by worry he immediately tried to stand only to find himself feeling more tired than he had ever before experienced. "What was that?"
"What did it feel like?" Amelia asked.
There was no hesitation in Ginger’s response. "It felt like I was being forced through a narrow tube."
"By Merlin’s long beard," Amelia whispered. She had of course known it must be this but to have it confirmed.
"What?" Ginger asked, growing alarmed again.
Amelia shook her head. "Oh no, there’s nothing to worry about, quite the contrary in fact."
"How do you mean?"
"What Harry did was apparition. The fact that he can apparate, even accidentally, at his age is an indication of the raw magical power he possesses. That he was able to bring you with him and through the wards tells me that he will likely grow to become more powerful than Dumbledore or Voldemort, perhaps even more than the two together. Can you tell me what happened to cause this?"
Ginger nodded, growing pale as he remembered the events of the evening. "Did Biggles tell you where we were?"
"Harry was thirsty so we stopped at a market. We walked into the middle of a strong arm robbery. The man was startled, he fired his gun almost as soon as he turned around. All I could think was that I was going to die and Harry would be sent back to the Dursley’s. The next thing I was aware of I was moving through that tube, Harry’s hand in mine and then we were here."
"Amazing," Amelia whispered, awed by the power in the child. She allowed herself a moment before turning to practical matters. Obtaining the address from Ginger she had excused herself so she could take care of damage control.
"Are you quite sure the lad is in no danger?" Biggles asked Amelia late the next evening. They were standing in the doorway of Harry’s room, watching he and Ginger. It had now been a bit over 24 hours since Harry had apparated himself and Ginger into the flat and he had yet to wake up. They were all worried, none more so than Ginger who had not moved from the child’s bedside in spite of his own physical state. The stress of the robbery and the apparition had combined with shock to leave Ginger nearly as exhausted as his grandson. He wouldn’t leave the child though, insisting that he be there when the boy woke.
"I’m certain of it Biggles," Amelia replied with a soft smile. "He exerted a great deal of power, think of it as running a marathon. Even with training one would be exhausted after such an expenditure of strength." As Biggles took in her explanation Amelia took a moment to once more cast a spell on Harry, taking care of the physical needs he would have been unable to do for himself while he slept.
Biggles nodded, what she said made sense. Still he would feel better if she checked on the lad. He was just about to ask when a small moan was heard from the bed.
"Harry, lad," Ginger leaned forward, anxious to see the bright green eyes he’d come to know so well.
Harry blinked tiredly. His eyelids felt so heavy. He didn’t understand why he was so tired. Had he been sick? "Grandfather," he whispered.
"I’m here laddie," Ginger assured, giving his hand a light squeeze. "How do you feel?"
"Mmmm, tired," Harry groaned.
"I bet you are," Amelia said from the end of the bed, having fully entered the room as Harry woke.
"Miss Amelia?" Harry was more confused than before. Why would Madam Bones be here, he didn’t understand. "What’s wrong with me?"
"Nothing really Harry," Amelia answered. She quickly explained about the magical exhaustion. "Do you remember the robbery?" she gently asked.
Harry thought hard, trying to remember. He jerked, his eyes opening wide as he turned to his grandfather in fright. "I’m sorry grandfather, please don’t send me away," he begged. Even now, over a year later he still experienced moments of fear. Of course his grandfather and the others knew about magic and didn’t seem to mind, but he hadn’t done any magic since coming to live with them. Perhaps now they had seen some magic they would change their minds.
Ginger quickly gathered the boy into his arms, stroking his back in a calming manner. "Hush laddie, you’re not going anywhere." He repeated these words as many times as necessary until it seemed the child began to accept them.
"You’re not angry?"
"Of course not. Harry, lad, you saved my life I’d be a pretty ungrateful berk if I were angry about that. Actually it makes me worry less about sending you to magic school later, now I know you’re so powerful."
"I am?" Harry was quite pleased to hear that.
"You are indeed young man," Amelia answered. "I’ve never heard of a child accidentally apparating before, let alone bringing along another with him."
"Is that what I did?"
"Yes, apparating is a means of magical transportation. You’ll receive training in it during your last year at Hogwarts."
Harry yawned widely, quickly covering his mouth. "Sorry," he mumbled.
"No need to apologize laddie. You get some more sleep, we’ll all be here when you get up," Ginger said.
"You too Grandfather," Harry said.
"You look tired."
Biggles laughed. "You’ve been caught laddie. Don’t worry Harry, we’ll see he gets some rest."
Harry smiled and closed his eyes, quickly traveling back to the land of nod.
Ginger laid his hand on top of Harry’s head. "Sleep well Harry, lad." Standing up he stumbled, the very long day, he had been awake for more than 24 hours after all, catching up to him. As always Biggles was there to catch him.
Ginger nodded, "Thanks to you."
"Come on then." Taking his arm, Biggles led the younger man to his room for some much needed rest.
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A/N: I'm not sure if I used the correct term for the robbery. Yes I know guns aren't so easily had in England but I assume that just like any place if a criminal wants something badly enough they'll find a way to obtain it. They certainly won't be concerned with breaking the laws. ;)
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
If he hadn’t been expecting it Harry would have been quite shocked by the letter he now held in his hands.
Mr. Harry Potter
Mount Street Flat
This was how the envelope was addressed. The back of the envelope was adorned with the Hogwarts crest.
"Grandfather," Harry called down the hall, as near to yelling as he ever came inside the flat.
"What is it Harry?" Ginger asked as he stepped into the hall.
"My letter came," Harry replied, a grin spreading across his face. "May I open it?"
"Can’t reply to it unless you do, can you?" Ginger teased.
"No sir," Harry grinned.
"Why don’t you come into the parlour," Ginger suggested. "I’m sure the others would like to hear the letter as well."
Harry nodded, eagerly following his grandfather back to the parlour.
"What news old boy?" Bertie asked as the two of them entered the room.
"My letter came Bertie," Harry replied.
"Already?" Bertie asked. "Surely you’re not old enough for the letter yet?"
Harry having grown used to Bertie’s brand of teasing easily ignored him. "Shall I read it now?" he asked his grandfather.
Harry opened the letter and began to read:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY*
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Harry Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
Setting aside the top page, Harry then read the list of supplies which appeared on the second page. "Can we go to Diagon Alley soon Grandfather?" he eagerly asked.
Ginger smiled. He imagined similar scenes occurred in most magical homes. In fact he would say magical children were likely the only group in which the majority were excited to be attending school. "Has Hermione received her letter yet?"
"I don’t think so," Harry replied after some thought. "But Amelia said that a staff member would take her because she’s a muggleborn and isn’t supposed to know about the Wizarding world."
Ginger opened his mouth, about to say they could go to the Alley whenever Harry liked when he saw a thoughtful look on Biggles’ face. "You’ve thought of something?" he asked.
"Dumbledore hasn’t shown any sign that he knows of Harry having left the Dursley’s, has he?"
"Amelia hasn’t mentioned it," Ginger answered.
"As we can presume she would do so we must assume the man is still in the dark. I don’t really see how he could be considering the monitoring charm he had on Harry but then I suppose that only further proves he has been derelict in his duties."
"All very true old boy but what is the jolly point?" Bertie asked, putting his oar in.
"The point is that we should be foolish to tip our hand any sooner than is necessary. Hermione is certainly not the only muggleborn in the U.K. Furthermore we can assume muggleborns will be in the Alley, with Hogwarts staff, in the weeks leading up to the beginning of school."
"Of course," Algy said, "and if they see Harry in company other than the Dursleys they may report it to Dumbledore."
"But Biggles would the staff know what the Dursley family look like?" Ginger asked.
"There is no way to know but it is best to err on the side of caution. If you don’t take Harry until his birthday, when he will be able to become fully emancipated in the Wizarding world, it will be too late for Dumbledore to cause problems. Always assuming of course that he would be informed and would wish to interfere. We still don’t know his motivations, it is possible that he was doing what he thought best."
"You don’t really believe that?" Ginger asked incredulously.
"If I’m honest no I don’t," Biggles admitted, much to the relief of the others. "However, until we know the reasons for his actions we can’t possibly guess what his future actions might entail."
Harry couldn’t hide his disappointment. "I won’t be able to shop with Hermione either, will I?"
"I’m sorry laddie, but I don’t think it would be a good idea," Biggles replied. Unknown to Biggles Hermione had her own ideas on the subject.
Harry turned to Ginger. "Grandfather?" He greatly respected Biggles and the others but his grandfather had the final say. One look at the man’s face and Harry knew he agreed with Biggles.
"I think Biggles is right Harry, lad."
"It won’t be so bad old boy," Bertie stated. He hated to see the boy feeling so low. "You and Hermione will be able to shop together next year and you can certainly look over your schoolbooks together."
"I guess," Harry mumbled. "May I be excused?"
"You may," Ginger replied. He didn’t enjoy disappointing the child but it was best to remain cautious until after Harry’s birthday. Once he gained his emancipation in the Wizarding world Dumbledore would be powerless to dictate anything of Harry’s life except where it pertained to school. He was of course powerless now but he was apparently unaware of this fact. As Biggles had said they would be foolish to tip their hand any sooner than necessary.
Dan and Emma stared at the pig now standing where their coffee table had stood only seconds before. As a demonstration of magic they supposed it could leave non-magicals a bit awe struck but really Amelia’s demonstration had been so much more practical. After all why would anybody want to turn a table into a pig?
Minerva smiled, the look on the faces of the Granger parents wasn’t new to her. "As you can see magic can do many amazing things. In attending Hogwarts your daughter will learn both theory and practical applications of magic."
"Yes, of course," Emma mumbled. She turned her head to hide her smile. It was obvious the professor thought her demonstration to be the cause of their wide-eyed look. In a manner of speaking this was true, though it was the absurdity of it that surprised them rather than the magic itself.
"If you have time I could take Hermione to Diagon Alley today so that she may acquire her supplies," Minerva offered.
"Oh that’s quite alright Professor McGonagall but I shan’t need an escort," Hermione spoke for the first time.
"You don’t plan to attend?" Minerva asked, clearly shocked by the idea.
"Oh no Professor," Hermione moved quickly to correct her. "I plan to attend but I have a friend who is a wizard. I’d rather do my shopping with him."
Minerva raised an eyebrow. "Is this friend a muggleborn as well?"
"No ma’am." Hermione thought it best to keep her answers short in order not to give away any sensitive information. She had been told the truth of Harry’s life a few months after her lessons with Amelia had begun.
"I see," Minerva managed. She couldn’t imagine who the Granger girl’s friend could be. She wasn’t aware of any purebloods who lived in the area. "Could I ask your friend’s name?"
"I don’t see that it matters Professor," Dan replied for his daughter. Really the nerve of these magicals. He hadn’t missed that she had only offered to take Hermione shopping, not the entire family. Now she thought that she had a right to know personal details of his daughter’s friendship. "Suffice it to say that Hermione’s shopping will be seen to and she will arrive at Hogwarts on the expected date."
"Of course, I meant no offence," Minerva apologized. "I’ll just leave the information packet along with Hermione’s ticket for the Hogwarts Express and be on my way." So saying she handed the packet over to Hermione after explaining how to access platform 9 and ¾. "I look forward to seeing you at Hogwarts Miss Granger."
"Thank you Professor, I look forward to attending," Hermione politely replied. The door had barely closed behind McGonagall and Hermione was racing for the phone.
"Hello," Ginger said, picking up the receiver.
"Hello Mr. Hebblethwaite, this is Hermione, could I speak to Harry please?"
Ginger smiled, perhaps the young girl would be able to cheer Harry up. He had been as low as any of them had ever seen him for the past several days. "Of course, hold the line a moment." Placing the receiver on the table he walked down the hall to Harry’s room.
Harry looked up at the sound of a knock. "Come in," he called.
"You have a phone call lad," Ginger said.
Harry put down his pencil and walked down the hall to the phone. "Hello," he said.
"Oh Harry one of the professors came by today. I told her of course that I shan’t need an escort as I’ll be going with you to do my shopping."
"You didn’t tell her my name did you Mione?" Harry asked, using the nickname he’d long ago given his friend.
"Of course not Harry," Hermione was quick to assure him. "When do you plan to do your shopping? You have gotten your letter, haven’t you?"
Harry grinned, nobody could stay in a bad mood when met with Hermione’s enthusiasm. "I got it and Grandfather planned to take me on my birthday. I’ll have to go to Gringots at any rate as that is the day I become fully emancipated in the Wizarding world."
"I’d forgotten about that..."
"Hermione Granger forgot something? I need to mark this down, it’s a red letter day," Harry teased.
"Prat," Hermione retorted, sticking her tongue out for good measure, though Harry wouldn’t know it.
"You love me anyway." Harry gave the expected response.
Hermione sighed. It was her see what I have to put up with sigh. "I can come with you can’t I?"
"I don’t know, but let me ask Grandfather. Hold on." Laying the phone down he went to find his grandfather. The men laughed, it seemed Hermione had taken it out of their hands. After a short discussion it was decided that as Harry would become emancipated that day, and the Grangers would have no staff member with them, they could safely visit the Alley together, they would simply make sure to visit Gringots first.
Returning to the phone, Harry gave Hermione the news and in short order arrangements were made for the big day.
31st July, 1991
The group, consisting of the Granger family accompanying Harry and Ginger, along with Amelia had arrived at the bank early in the day. While Harry, Ginger and Amelia disappeared into the back of the bank to see to their business, the Grangers stood in line awaiting a teller who could exchange their muggle money for galleons.
By the time Harry and his grandfather, Amelia having flooed to the Ministry, reappeared the bank was much busier. "Grandfather, do you see Hermione?" Harry asked, looking around the now crowded bank.
It took Ginger a few minutes to spot the Grangers. "There they are lad," he said, indicating with his head the direction he meant. Leading Harry by the hand, Ginger soon reached Harry’s friend. "Have you taken care of your business then?" he asked.
"Yes, though I believe Hermione surprised the goblin with her use of the correct address and such," Dan replied giving his daughter a fond smile.
Ginger chuckled. "I imagine it did surprise him. From what we’ve learned not many magicals bother with such things and for a muggleborn to do so would be doubly shocking. I’m afraid we must still visit Harry’s vault, you don’t mind waiting I hope?"
"No, no, of course not," Dan assured him. "We’re quite enjoying the scenery, take your time."
"Would you like to come to Hermione?" Harry asked.
"Is it allowed?" Hermione said uncertainly.
"I don’t see why not, come on. It’s alright isn’t it?" he belatedly asked the adults.
Permission soon given saw the children, with Ginger, heading towards the carts which would take them to Harry’s vault. In the ordinary way he would have only a trust vault but now that he had taken on his Lordship he would be able to access all of his vaults.
They were just entering the carts when another man, the largest man any of them had ever seen, asked if he could ride down with them. It seemed he wasn’t comfortable with the carts and preferred to ride with company when he could.
"Of course Mr."
"Hagrid, Reubeus Hagrid Keeper of the Keys and grounds at Hogwarts," he introduced himself.
"Mr. Hagrid, you are of course welcome," Ginger said with a small nod. He gave no indication of the start the man’s title had given him. Ah well, they had known Dumbledore would learn the truth of Harry’s status soon, though they’d hoped it wouldn’t be quite this soon.
"Thank ye," Hagrid said. Squeezing into the cart he smiled at the children only to widen his eyes as he got his first good look at the boy. "Blimey, yer Harry Potter," he gasped. "I’d know ya anywhere. You look just like yer dad ‘cept ya got yer mum’s eyes." Hagrid wiped a stray tear from his eye. "But who’s this then?"
His manner was so openly curious that Harry couldn’t find it in himself to take offence. "This is my grandfather Mr. Hagrid and my friend Hermione." He thought it best that he not give any last names just yet.
"Grandfather? But I thought you stayed with yer aunt and uncle?"
Before anything else could be said the goblin operating the cart started it into motion. The speed of it quite took their breath away, making conversation impossible. They stopped first for Hagrid to retrieve a small package from a vault before travelling on to Harry’s vault.
"Come on Hermione," Harry invited as he stepped from the cart. Leading the way he stepped into his vault, followed closely by Ginger and Hermione. All three gazed in wonder at the piles of gold held within the vault. Ginger and Harry had known, of course, that the Potter family were quite wealthy but to actually see such wealth was much different than simply hearing about it. Hermione, however, only spent a few seconds looking at the gold, her attention quickly taken by the shelves filled with books.
"We’ll come back some other time and see what books are here Mione," Harry whispered. He wasn’t really surprised to see what had caught her eye. "I don’t think we should keep your parents waiting, do you?"
"I guess not," Hermione reluctantly admitted. "Promise we’ll come back?"
Harry grinned, he wanted to peruse the books as well. "I promise." Quickly filling his bag, he turned to leave only to stop when he noticed a glow coming from a lectern. Moving closer he felt tears forming as he saw what lay upon it.
"Harry, lad, what is it?" Ginger asked, his voice filled with concern.
"It’s my parents Grandfather," Harry whispered, awestruck. "Well their journals anyway," he amended. "I’ll finally get a chance to know them, we both will," he added turning watery eyes towards Ginger. His grandfather had explained sometime ago about never knowing Harry’s mother, giving details as to why a few months ago. It had been a bit of a shock but he had adjusted quickly enough.
Ginger nodded, unable to speak past the lump in his throat. Picking up the journals he slipped them into Harry’s bag and they left the vault.
Hagrid was confused by his meeting with Harry Potter. He was sure the boy was supposed to be with his muggle aunt and uncle. Hadn’t he brought him there and given him over to Dumbledore himself? He’d have to let the headmaster know about this as soon as he returned to the school. First, though, a drink or two was called for, to settle his stomach. Those cursed goblin carts always made him feel ill.
Harry and Hermione soon forgot about Hagrid in their joy at being in Diagon Alley. The shopping took some time, but nobody seemed to mind. The wand maker, Olivander, had made them all a bit uncomfortable. He had such strange eyes and the way he was able to remember all of the wands he’d ever sold, it was all very disconcerting. Ginger suspected that was the intention. The discovery that Harry’s wand was brother to Voldemort’s hadn’t been pleasant but Harry had quickly shrugged it off. Ginger decided that if his grandson wasn’t going to be bothered by it then neither would he.
They had left their robes for last, expecting this to be the most tiring part of the day, especially for the children. As they entered the shop, they were cheerily greeted by the shop owner and shown to the dressing area. Another boy was already there, also being measured for robes.
"Hogwarts?" the blond asked.
"Yes, first year," Harry replied. Hermione would have ordinarily answered as well but according to the etiquette lessons Amelia had given them, women and girls, in the Wizarding world weren’t meant to converse with strangers until properly introduced to them.
Turning to Hermione, Harry brought her closer to him. "I’m Harry Potter and this is my friend Hermione Granger," he said by way of introduction.
It took all of Draco’s training to keep himself from gawking. Somehow he had expected Potter to be bigger. "A pleasure, my name is Malfoy, Draco Malfoy," he smoothly returned. "Granger, I don’t believe I’m familiar with any Wizarding family by that name."
His tone was quite arrogant, offending them both. Harry was familiar, from his studies, with the name Malfoy and clearly this boy was being taught to be as much a bigot as his father. "You wouldn’t Hermione is a muggleborn," Harry calmly informed him.
"You should be careful Potter, some sorts aren’t accepted in our world," Draco warned the other boy. He had no way of knowing that the two children before him had been friends for several years.
"That is where some make a mistake," Harry responded. It wasn’t easy to keep his anger in check but he knew that children often repeated what they heard at home without any real understanding of their words.
Draco raised an eyebrow. "How so?" He had to admit he was curious. His father had always told him that muggleborns were little better than house elves. They had neither breeding nor any appreciation for the noble life that was the birthright of wizards and witches. Yet, here was this muggleborn girl, in the company of Harry Potter and behaving as if she had always been a part of their world. Her manners, in fact, had so far been impeccable.
"Muggleborns can be quite powerful just as some purebloods are quite weak," Harry explained. "The real issue is that muggleborns enter our world without any knowledge of the world they are now a part of. Furthermore we wizards are often ignorant of the muggle world and so are unable to understand why the muggleborns react to some things in the way they do. This of course makes it easy for the two groups to remain apart which some are more than willing to take advantage of in order to push their own agenda."
"Up on the footstools now children," Madam Malkin said, interrupting the conversation.
"Of course madam," Harry replied. Helping Hermione first, Harry then moved to stand on his own footstool. "I would like my family crest placed on my robes Madam," Harry quietly requested. It was a bit unusual, he knew, but if he was to be treated with the respect his station afforded him he must act the part.
As the fitting continued Draco was giving serious consideration to the points Potter had made. He wondered if perhaps his father was mistaken when he said that it was hopeless to think muggleborns could ever successfully become a part of their society.
*From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
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Chapter 14: Chapter 14
1st August, 1991
Dumbledore hurried from Hogwarts; even he couldn’t apparate from inside the wards. To say he was shocked when Hagrid told him of meeting Harry Potter the day before would be a great understatement. He was able to hide his shock from the half-giant only because the man wasn’t terribly perceptive, anybody else wouldn’t have been deceived. Telling himself Hagrid must be mistaken he had checked his monitoring devices the moment the other man left the office. Though they still appeared to operate it was quickly clear that they had once more become nothing more than entertaining toys.
Furious he had immediately left his office, out of Hogwarts and to just outside the wards; the moment he reached his destination he apparated to the back garden of Arabella Figg’s home on Magnolia Crescent. Not bothering to knock he forced the door open with an underpowered reducto. He noticed with some satisfaction the momentary look of fear on the old squib’s face before she realized who was entering her home.
"Hello Albus, tea?" Arabella calmly offered.
"No I don’t want any bloody tea," Albus snapped. "How long has Harry Potter been gone from the Dursley’s?" he demanded in a harsh voice.
Arabella stared at him in dismay. "There’s no need for rudeness Albus, I told you four years ago that Harry no longer lived with his aunt. Didn’t you get my letter?"
"Letter? You sent important information like that through the normal post? Are you insane woman?" By now Dumbledore was yelling, spittle flying from his mouth in his anger.
"I was out of floo powder," Arabella quietly explained. She should know, she had ‘accidentally’ spilled it after all. "Besides he had already been gone for several weeks when I learned of it, I didn’t suppose another day or two while the letter travelled would make any real difference."
Albus was seething. The stupid woman may have ruined everything with her incompetence. "Didn’t you wonder why I never came to investigate your report?"
"I simply assumed I had either missed you or you had already been aware that Harry had gone to live with his grandfather," Arabella innocently replied. She knew he wouldn’t be able to see anything other than what she had told him if he were to examine her memories. Memories after all only displayed the events as they occurred they revealed nothing of the inner thoughts of the person whose memories they were.
Albus took a deep breath. He reminded himself that the woman hadn’t meant any harm. "If I knew then why would I have left you here watching the Dursley family?"
"I admit I did wonder about that, but I supposed you had your reasons. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some tea Albus? You look as though you could use a nice cuppa," she solicitously offered.
Albus’ anger deflated in the face of the old squib’s honest concern. "No Arabella, thank you. I need to speak to Mrs. Dursley and then I must begin searching for Harry Potter." Turning around he quickly repaired the door before leaving the house.
Arabella watched him go with a satisfied smirk. Stupid wizards, they were always underestimating the intelligence of squibs and muggles.
Having calmed down somewhat Albus walked up the path to number 4 Privet Drive and rang the bell.
The smile on Petunia’s face fell the moment she took in the man standing before her. "I thought we were through with you freaks," she snarled.
Albus frowned but needing information he quickly decided to ignore the slight. "I’m sorry to bother you Mrs. Dursley," he apologized. "My name is Albus Percival Brian...."
"I know who you are," Petunia curtly informed him. Lily had shown her a picture of the man once. "What do you want?"
Albus hid his surprise. "Perhaps it would be better if we discussed this inside."
Looking quite put out Petunia backed away from the door, allowing him entry. Closing the door, she turned towards the man. "The boy doesn’t live here anymore."
"I’m aware of that Mrs. Dursley. I regret that I only recently learned of this. It is imperative that I find the boy, could you tell me how Harry came to leave your home?" He asked this in what he supposed to be a pleasant tone. To a woman like Petunia, who hated all things magical, no wizard could ever achieve a tone pleasant enough to please her.
"If I answer your question will you leave and never return?"
"I don’t see any need to return here again," Dumbledore replied. He could task Severus with returning the boy to his family after they found him.
With a short nod Petunia began her story. Unknown to her the aged wizard before her was easily able to see the memory now that it had been brought to the forefront of her mind. What he saw disturbed him greatly. With Amelia Bones involved returning Harry to the Dursley’s would become more difficult than he had originally supposed. Thanking the woman for her information Albus beat a hasty retreat, returning to Hogwarts to consider his options.
He could approach Amelia but he didn’t see much point. As head of the DMLE her shields would be entirely too strong for a Leglimency probe and she likely had wards in place to detect any potions. The alias she had given the Dursley woman told him that she intended to keep Harry’s whereabouts a secret. Clearly there was nothing he could do for the time being. He would just have to wait for the beginning of term.
1st September, 1991
Harry and Hermione led the group of adults towards the barrier Amelia had told them about. They were running a little late as Grandfather and the others had insisted on once more going over the things Amelia had told them concerning Dumbledore.
If Dumbledore asked to speak to Harry he was to insist that his head of house accompany him as was his right as a student. Should the headmaster attempt to discuss anything outside of school matters Harry had the right to refuse to answer. He was never to accept any food or drink from the headmaster, lest it be laced with some sort of potion. If Dumbledore made any attempts to force Harry into compliance with his wishes then he, Harry, was to immediately floo Amelia and ask for her assistance. At no time was Harry to forget that he was the head of his household and a Lord, something he should remind Dumbledore of should it become necessary.
Walking through the station the group paused as they heard a loud voice complaining about muggles. "Move along laddie," Biggles quietly instructed so as not to draw attention.
Giving a short nod, the children once more walked towards the barrier. Dan and Emma laid a hand each on the shoulders of the children as they followed them through the barrier. As Amelia had told them it would, by maintaining contact with a magical person they could bypass the muggle repelling charms surrounding the barrier leading to platform 9 ¾ . Being squibs, Ginger and the others didn’t need such contact.
Harry and Hermione froze, staring in awe at the sight of the scarlet train; Hogwarts Express painted on its side. Used to modern trains the old steam engine, gleaming in the late summer sun was an enthralling sight.
Shaking off his enchantment, Harry turned to the group of adults. "Grandfather, why do you suppose that woman was speaking of muggles so loudly? Wouldn’t that violate the statute of secrecy?"
"I believe it would," Ginger agreed. "Can you think of any reason a witch would risk such a violation?" He of course had a pretty fair idea but he wanted to see if Harry would reach the same conclusion. He and the others wouldn’t be at Hogwarts to guide him and while letters could of course be sent by way of Harry’s new owl, Hedwig, they would take time. It was therefore necessary that the children continue practicing the application of logic even when the adults were available to provide a possible answer.
Harry narrowed his eyes, thinking carefully. Beside him Hermione was also thinking the matter over. "She wanted to draw attention," Harry mumbled. "I can’t be certain of course but perhaps Dumbledore set her to look for me," Harry suggested.
"If he does seek to control you then she is likely one of his supporters," Hermione pointed out.
Harry nodded. What Hermione said made sense. "We’ll need to be careful around her children, at least until we’re certain of their motives."
Hermione smiled, her whole face lighting up. She had been terribly afraid that when they entered the magical world she, as an unimportant muggleborn, would be pushed to the side. With Harry’s words it was clear he had no intention of forgetting his first and closest friend.
Ginger, a look of pride on his face, looked down at his grandson. "Well done children. I suspect you’re both correct."
"And I suspect that we had better say our farewells so the children can board the train," Biggles pointed out.
While short, the farewells were filled with heartfelt emotion. Buoyed by the loving support of their families the two children soon were aboard the scarlet train, searching for a compartment. They passed quite a few compartments filled to capacity before finally finding one containing only two others, one of whom they recognized from pictures Amelia had shown them.
"Hello, may we join you?" Harry asked politely.
"Of course," the round faced boy replied. Coming to his feet he helped the two with their trunks, securing them in place. "My name is Neville Longbottom and this is Susan Bones," the boy shyly said, making the introductions as they all took their seats.
"A pleasure to meet you, I’m Harry Potter and this is Hermione Granger," Harry replied. Though the other two paused for a moment he was thankful to see that neither asked about the scar nor lingered on his name.
"Pleasure," both Hermione and Susan echoed Harry’s greeting. For a few minutes nobody said anything but before the silence could become awkward the door to the compartment opened. Standing in the doorway was a red-haired boy of their age, one who looked quite familiar to Harry and Hermione.
"Can I sit here, everywhere else is full." Gaining permission, the boy, who introduced himself as Ron Weasley, entered the compartment and with help from Harry and Neville secured his trunk.
Harry quickly resumed his seat beside Hermione, next to the window. This left Ron with the choice of seats next to Hermione or Susan, Neville having the other window seat. The look on his face made it clear he liked neither option.
"Susan, are you related to Amelia Bones by any chance?" Hermione asked, though she already knew the answer. As she hoped Susan moved to their bench, taking the seat on the other side of Hermione.
"She’s my Aunt," Susan replied as she sat down. "Do you know her?" She couldn’t honestly imagine how a muggleborn could have come to know her aunt.
"I’ve met her," Hermione replied.
Hermione was now regretting her question. She didn’t mind if Susan knew about their lessons but she didn’t want the whole school to know lest the news reach a certain pair of ears. Thinking quickly an honest if misleading reply came to her; "Yes, she was in Gringots when Harry and I went."
"Are you really Harry Potter? Do you have the scar?" Ron asked from across the aisle.
Harry nodded while giving the boy an annoyed look.
"Can I see it?" was the next eagerly asked question.
Hermione rolled her eyes. Honestly didn’t the boy have any decency?
"I don’t believe so," Harry coldly replied.
"Oh," Ron sighed, clearly disappointed. "Why not?" he asked.
Hermione wished she could say something but she knew that it wasn’t her place. This was Harry’s fight, so to speak.
"Let me answer your question with a question," Harry replied. "If something very bad had happened to you, let’s say your parents dying, and you had a scar from it, would you want to be reminded of the event?"
Hermione rubbed Harry’s back in a comforting gesture. She knew discussing his parents was a painful topic for her friend. The discovery of their journals in the Potter family vault had been a double-edged sword. While it had allowed him to finally know his parents after a fashion, it had simultaneously brought home the magnitude of his loss. She nodded when Harry shot her a grateful look, acknowledging his silent thanks.
"I never thought of that," Ron admitted. "But it’s not like you really knew them," he dismissed in the next breath. Shocked by the glare Harry sent his way, Ron stuttered an apology before lapsing into sullen silence.
Time passed, the children gradually getting to know one another better as they travelled towards their new school. The door opening again had them all looking up in surprise.
"Potter," Draco Malfoy said, ignoring the others, "mind if I join you?"
"We don’t need any Death Eater wannabes here," Ron snarked.
Draco turned to him, his eyes sweeping over the other boy in cold appraisal. "No need to ask your name, red hair and second-hand robes you couldn’t belong to any other family than the Weasley’s."
Ron’s face soon matched his hair as he glared at the thin blond.
"I have no objections to you joining us Malfoy," Harry spoke up. "What of you all?" he politely asked the others in the compartment. Weasley’s opinion had of course already been voiced. The others readily agreed with Harry, though it was clear that both Susan and Neville were uncertain.
"Thank you," Draco said as he stepped into the compartment.
Ron glared but he scooted over, making room for the other boy. He didn’t really want to stay but his mother had told him he needed to become friends with Harry Potter. He would, his mother said, need guidance in the Wizarding world so that he didn’t fall in amongst the wrong sort of people; people like the Malfoys.
"I wonder if I could trouble you for the window seat Longbottom?" Draco asked.
"Why should he move?" Ron belligerently stepped in.
Neville didn’t really mind but it was a valid question. He waited for the answer.
Draco blushed. "My father seems to think I need bodyguards and I should like to avoid the two trolls he selected." He directed his answer to Neville.
"Alright," Neville agreed nudging Ron to move over so that Draco could have the window seat.
If only because he didn’t want to sit next to Malfoy himself, Ron quickly slid to the end of the seat.
"Do you all know each other then?" Harry asked. The other children confessed that they did, alleviating Harry, as the highest ranking person in the compartment, of the need of making introductions.
"We’ve all been using first names Draco, it seems a bit friendlier, don’t you agree?" Harry asked.
"As you say," Draco readily agreed. "Did you all have an enjoyable summer?" As the Malfoy heir Draco wasn’t used to engaging in simple conversations with others. He was determined, however, to do his best.
The children he was familiar with were from families with similar views to those his father held. As such they had been taught that friends were undesirable and unnecessary. They should rather be striving to develop useful contacts. Draco had never considered any other viewpoint, not having been exposed to them, until his encounter with Harry and Hermione in Madam Malkin’s. Since that day he had thought long and hard about the world he lived in and his place in it. He wasn’t any longer sure that he agreed with the beliefs espoused by the elder Malfoy and many of his friends, he also wasn’t certain that he didn’t agree. He had finally concluded that it would be best if he could become better acquainted with Harry and Hermione as well as other children outside his normal circle, if he were to discover the best path for him to follow.
After awhile conversation between the children flowed easily. This was helped by the fact that both Ron and Draco chose to ignore the other. The only other interruption came when the trolley lady came around offering a selection of sweets. Harry and Draco purchased a large selection, sharing them amongst the entire group.
As the fullness of darkness descended upon them the train began to slow, finally coming to a stop at the Hogsmeade station. The children had changed into their robes a short time beforehand. Leaving the train, excitement among the first years was palpable as they made their way towards Hagrid who stood to one side waving a lantern and calling for the first years.
Harry looked at Hermione, both children were grinning; soon they would see Hogwarts for the first time. They could hardly wait!
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A/N: When reading the Harry Potter books I was quite disappointed at the lost opportunity Draco Malfoy represented. I realize the books were written for children but I believe at times Rowling painted things a bit too black and white with the result that the world view of the characters was too simplistic. As we can see with the epilogue in the final book this resulted in nothing truly changing within the magical world.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
1st September, 1991
Hagrid’s grin widened, if such a thing were possible, over the reactions of the children as they caught their first sight of Hogwarts. The lights shining from the castle, reflected off the surface of the lake lending an ethereal air to the already magical castle. He gave them all a moment to drink in the sight before instructing them to enter the boats.
Harry and Hermione exchanged a relieved look as Susan made it to the boat first; Neville having already climbed in left their boat full. They had seen Ron making a beeline for the boat they’d chosen. Neither child had been looking forward to more of the redhead’s company.
Upon exiting the train Draco had, unfortunately, been reunited with his two bodyguards. Ignoring their questions he led the way to the boats. He said nothing to the boy already in the boat, he simply took his seat giving the other a small nod of acknowledgement in greeting. Throughout the ride to the castle, the lecture from McGonagall and the wait to be sorted he was deep in thought.
He knew, from his father, how they were to be sorted. From his mother he knew that it was possible to influence the decision of the hat. It was this he was currently contemplating. He knew his father expected him to be in Slytherin house, as Malfoys had always been. Until he had met Harry and Hermione he had never considered any other possibility. Now he wondered if perhaps another house wouldn’t be better for his purposes.
"Oh Harry you don’t suppose they would use a test to sort us do you?" Hermione nervously asked as she listened to the children around her.
Harry smiled. In the ordinary way Hermione would have seen the flaw in such a question for herself, being nervous, however, she wasn’t thinking quite rationally. "I don’t think so Mione," Harry replied. "How could they expect first years to perform magic when they haven’t been taught, especially muggleborns?"
Hermione blushed, a sheepish smile crossing her face. "Sorry, I’m a bit nervous I suppose."
Harry bumped her shoulder. "Aren’t we all?" he grinned. They were interrupted by screams from the other children. Turning around they saw several ghosts floating through the wall. It was this that had caused the screams. Seeing the children the ghosts quickly began to welcome them only to be stopped by McGonagall re-entering the chamber.
As they entered the Great Hall, Harry and Hermione looked up. "It’s just like the book said," Hermione whispered.
Harry nodded, pulling his eyes from the ceiling as the Sorting Hat began its song. The entire hall was silent as the hat sang of the houses, using the song to tell of the attributes each house was known for. Harry had discussed the house system with his grandfather and the others after Amelia told them about it. The consensus of the group was that basing friendships on your house at school was ridiculous and counter productive to the development of a more peaceful magical world. Harry and Hermione, after further discussion between the two, decided that they would endeavour to become acquainted with children from all of the houses.
As Hermione’s name was called Harry gave her an encouraging smile. It wasn’t any surprise to Harry when his friend was sorted into Ravenclaw.
As the sorting continued Harry glanced up at the head table. He was taken aback at the glare one of the professors aimed his way. His first thought was that this man was perhaps having a bad day. After a moment’s observation he concluded that while the man didn’t seem to be a cheery sort under any circumstances his particular rancour was aimed at Harry himself. Harry couldn’t imagine why any of the teachers should be aggravated with him at this point in the proceedings.
His perusal of the teachers was interrupted by the calling of Neville to be sorted. He wondered where the boy would end up. He seemed somewhat shy so he could be considered brave in coming to Hogwarts at all. On the other hand his work with plants indicated he wasn’t afraid of hard work. His musings came to a halt as the hat shouted Hufflepuff and Neville made his way to his house table amid welcoming cheers. Draco’s name was called shortly after Neville’s sorting.
Draco nervously made his way to the front of the hall, though he showed no sign of his nervousness, he was a Malfoy after all. He was thankful his parents had told him what to expect. Without that forewarning Draco was sure he would have jumped a foot at the voice speaking inside his mind.
"Ah a Malfoy, but what’s this? Oh my, this isn’t going to be as easy as I supposed. You certainly would do well in Slytherin that is if you wish to follow the path your father set for you."
"I’m not sure I do. I think maybe I should meet people in other houses too, I might even make," Draco hesitated, "friends."
The Sorting Hat felt a bit saddened. So many destined for Slytherin had no concept of friendship, being taught from birth that such a thing was for those too weak to wield true power. "Slytherin would make that difficult."
Draco snorted in a most un-Malfoy like way. "It would be impossible," he corrected the hat. "The other snakes would make my life miserable and none of the other houses, except maybe Ravenclaw, would even speak to me. Even the Claws wouldn’t believe I wanted to be friends."
"Quite right," the hat agreed. "You would never survive in Gryffindor and if you did I’m not sure you would survive your father’s wrath." He well remembered the uproar the last time a destined Slytherin was sorted to the house of the Lions. "Nor would Hufflepuff fit you. Are you sure of your decision?"
"Yes, I want friends not minions," Draco firmly replied.
"Then it had better be...Ravenclaw!"
With a grin Draco pulled the hat from his head, handing it to McGonagall before proudly walking to the Ravenclaw table. The welcome he received was a touch less certain than it had been for others but Draco easily understood their surprise. Quite enjoying the surprised looks on the faces of the others in the hall, both students and teachers, Draco couldn’t resist adding to their shock. Taking a seat next to Hermione he greeted her with a warm smile.
Moving his attention back to the staff table, Harry was surprised by the look of shock on each face. Even the teacher with the hook nose who had seemed so angry earlier now wore the same shocked look as the others. Moving his glance along the table his eyes met those of Headmaster Dumbledore. He recognized him immediately from pictures Amelia had shown him. He felt a small brush against his mental shields and quickly averted his eyes. He was exceedingly grateful to Amelia for teaching him and Hermione the mind arts. He was tempted to try his own probe of Dumbledore’s mind but decided against it, not wanting to tip his hand so soon. With a start he realized his name had been called.
"Hello Mr. Potter," the hat greeted him as it came to rest on his head.
"Hello Mr. Hat," Harry returned the greeting with a small grin. "I should like to be with my friend Hermione please."
"We shall see," the hat murmured. "You could do well in any of the houses you know."
"Perhaps but I prefer Ravenclaw."
"You do have the intelligence and quite a drive to learn as much as you can. Yes, no other house would do, I see that now. Well as you insist it had better be...Ravenclaw!"
Harry handed the hat to McGonagall and made his way to his table amid thunderous applause. Taking a seat on Hermione’s other side he listened to the rest of the sorting. The only other sorting to draw attention was that of Ron Weasley when the hat burst into loud laughter.
Ron marched to the front. He had wanted to be in Gryffindor with his brothers but his mother had told him to become friends with Harry Potter. He couldn’t do that if they weren’t in the same house. Determined to obey his mother he decided he would have to find a way to convince the hat he was smart enough for Ravenclaw. Shouldn’t be too hard, he was a chess master after all and it took brains for that.
"Let’s see, oh a Weasley well I know where to put you."
"Wait," Ron anxiously called to the hat. "I don’t want to be in Gryffindor."
The Sorting Hat was shocked. A Weasley not in the house of Lions? No Weasley had been in any other house for over a hundred years. The hat knew his job though; he would hear the child out. "Where then do you think I should place you?"
"Ravenclaw," Ron decisively answered. He was shocked and hurt by the laughter that rang through the hall. He couldn’t say how long it lasted but it seemed to Ron as if the hat would never stop laughing. "I’m smart enough for Ravenclaw," he protested. "I’m a chess master you know."
"I’m sorry my boy but intelligence in one area does not a Ravenclaw make. No, no, you would never be happy there nor would your housemates approve of your sloth. But if not Gryffindor or Ravenclaw then perhaps one of the others. Oh no, Slytherin would eat you alive my boy," he quickly eased the boy’s mind as a panicked chant of not Slytherin rose from the child. "The only cunning you possess lies in chess and how to obtain more food than is your share. Your sloth and lack of loyalty certainly bars your entry to Hufflepuff. You leave me no choice child, it must be...Gryffindor."
Disappointed not to be in Ravenclaw but relieved the hat hadn’t put him in Slytherin, Ron gladly made his way to Gryffindor. He had no sooner taken his seat when his brothers began peppering him with questions about his sorting. Luckily the sorting had ended with the next student and Dumbledore stood to start the feast.
Harry and Hermione exchanged a look as the food appeared. "Is he quite mad?" Hermione asked Draco in a soft voice.
"He’d like you to think so," Draco replied. The look of understanding on the faces of both Harry and Hermione told him he had made the right choice in his pursuit of their friendship.
A/N: Sorry for the lack of Biggles and company but rest assured they will appear again next chapter.
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Chapter 16: Chapter 16
1st September, 1991
Mount Street flat
A tapping sound drew their attention to the window. As Bertie was closest it was he that opened the window.
"Good evening Hedwig old girl, letter from Harry?" he asked cheerfully. Reaching for the letter he was surprised when the snowy owl pecked at his hand before flying over to Ginger, gracefully landing on the arm of his chair. "Why do you suppose she did that? I thought she liked me," Bertie said in a hurt voice.
"I’ve no idea Bertie," Ginger replied. Uncertainly he reached for the letter but it seemed Hedwig had no issue with him. "It is from Harry," he confirmed as he turned the envelope over.
"What does the lad have to say?" Biggles asked.
Ginger opened the letter and read aloud.
Dear Grandfather and company,
Firstly I wish to apologize to Bertie for Hedwig’s behaviour. Per the suggestion of Draco, a boy in my class, I instructed Hedwig to deliver the letter to only you Grandfather. Post owls are very diligent in their duties and will protect the post from all unauthorized persons.
"Hold hard," Bertie interrupted, "how does the lad know to apologize to me?"
"That’s the next bit," Ginger replied with a chuckle.
Knowing Bertie’s chair is closest to the window I expect he was the one to first greet Hedwig. Consequently he likely received a peck or two when he attempted to retrieve the letter. Such behaviour is unavoidable if we wish to prevent certain people reading our correspondence.
I believe our theory concerning the family of redheads was correct. While on the train the youngest redhead, Ron Weasley, entered our compartment. He had barely taken a seat when he was asking if I am Harry Potter and wished to see my scar. I did attempt a diplomatic answer but I’m afraid he took offence in any case. You might ask Amelia about his family. I should quite like confirmation of their relationship with Dumbledore.
Hermione and I were sorted into Ravenclaw house. You might remember this is the house for those who have a love of learning. My placement seemed to come as a surprise to most of the school, though not nearly so much as Draco’s placement in the same house. Apparently the entirety of the Wizarding world was certain that I would be placed in Gryffindor while Draco was expected to enter Slytherin house. The lack of logic in these expectations astounds me. Do these people not realize we are none of us our parents? Why would they assume a child would enter a house due only to their parent’s placement? Based on a talk with Draco and my other dorm mates it is also expected that children will follow in the footsteps of their parents, not only in career but in outlook. Is it any wonder the prejudices of the Wizarding world never seem to die out?
After the welcoming feast the headmaster stood to make some start of term announcements. Most were quite ordinary, reminders of areas forbidden to students as well as items banned from the castle. The final announcement, however, was quite concerning. Dumbledore warned all students away from a certain corridor on the third floor upon pain of death. Is the man mad? Already I have heard whispers among the older students concerning plans to investigate said corridor. As this is the house of learning and one assumes logic I fear the other houses will see an even great number of students visiting the third floor corridor. No fear that I or Hermione will be among said students. I can think of no good reason for such an investigation.
We receive our class schedules tomorrow at breakfast. I will write more later.
Your affectionate grandson,
P.S. You might mention to Amelia that Dumbledore attempted to enter my mind during the sorting. I was easily able to detect the intrusion and immediately averted my eyes.
Ginger frowned at the last. "I wonder if there is anything to be done about that?"
"We can ask Amelia but I would doubt it," was Biggles’ opinion.
"Surely it can’t be legal," Bertie protested. "One’s mind should be free from intrusion."
"I agree with Bertie," Algy said.
"Oh I don’t doubt there are laws against it. Even the Wizarding world isn’t that lacking in logic and common sense. No, the law isn’t the issue as I see it, the problem lies in proving the intrusion," Biggles explained.
The others could only nod, seeing the sense in Biggles’ explanation. "I’ll reply now," Ginger said.
2nd September, 1991
Hogwarts Great Hall
Harry and Hermione looked up as hundreds of post owls filled the hall, each with a letter or package to deliver. Seeing Hedwig brought a smile to Harry’s face. He had been sure Grandfather would reply quickly but had no idea how long it would take Hedwig to make the trip. He was quite sure an ordinary owl would require much more time, leading him to believe the post owls used by wizards were themselves magical.
"A letter from home?" Hermione asked.
Harry nodded. "Thank you Hedwig," he said, taking the letter and giving his owl a piece of his bacon. Opening the envelope, he removed the pages and read.
We were quite surprised by Hedwig’s behaviour, thank you for the explanation. Bertie says quite alright old boy, one must take precautions and all that. None were surprised to hear of your and Hermione’s placements. Never have we seen any child as enamoured of learning as are the two of you.
I am concerned with the behaviour of your headmaster. If he attempts to cause you any trouble do not forget your lessons.
I will see to your requests for information. We were glad to hear you are making friends. It is hoped that your plans will come to the result we should all prefer. Study hard but never forget that knowledge without application serves no purpose.
With great affection,
After tucking the letter away, Harry dug into his breakfast with gusto. Hedwig, having finished her snack flew off with the remainder of the owls.
"Mr. Potter, your schedule," the voice of Filius Flitwick, their head of house came from behind the children.
Turning in his seat Harry accepted the schedule. "Thank you sir."
"The headmaster wishes to see you after breakfast Mr. Potter," Flitwick frowned. He didn’t know why Dumbledore would make such a request, it certainly wasn’t the usual procedure.
"Yes sir. I would like to request your presence during the meeting please," Harry replied. Unlike the small professor Harry had been expecting something of the sort.
"Of course Mr. Potter," Flitwick readily agreed. "We can go after I finish with the schedules if you like."
"That would be acceptable sir."
2nd September, 1991
"What’s this? Another letter already?" Bertie asked as he opened the window for Hedwig. Having learned his lesson he made no attempt to retrieve the letter.
With a frown Ginger took the letter from the owl. Two letters so close together couldn’t be a good sign.
"What has happened laddie?" Biggles asked.
Ginger slit the envelope, removing the parchment he once more read aloud.
Dear Grandfather and company,
You must be quite surprised; I’m sure, to receive a second missive in so short a time. The reason for this will soon become clear.
Following breakfast our schedules were distributed by our head of house, Professor Flitwick. It was at this time the professor informed me of Dumbledore’s request for a meeting following breakfast. The professor readily agreed to accompany me to said meeting. Luckily I had no classes during the first period, allowing time for the meeting.
I write this only minutes after the meeting. The headmaster was quite surprised to see Professor Flitwick when I entered his office. He immediately made to dismiss the man, he relented, however, upon learning that should that occur I would leave with my head of house.
Dumbledore proceeded to question me as to my living arrangements, expressing a desire to see me returned to the Dursley’s at the earliest convenience. Upon informing him of the fact that I was in the quite capable custody of my grandfather with no desire to return to a family that had ever only abused me, I was accused of exaggeration. It was with effort that I kept my temper but Biggles will be glad to know I succeeded. His lessons were not lost.
Immediately I called him on the insult for which he quickly apologized. He seemed most disconcerted by the confidence with which I carry myself. Unfortunately, for him, the apology was followed at once by an attempt to force me into compliance.
"What exactly does the lad mean by force?" Algy harshly inquired.
Ginger didn’t respond other than to continue with the letter.
Tell the others not to worry. The old man only attempted to claim himself as my magical guardian. A notion I quickly disabused him of. He was quite put out to learn that I have claimed my status as Lord Potter but no matter.
His next tactic was a suggestion that you are not my grandfather. Apparently I was expected to believe that your presence in my life was some sort of trick perpetuated by Death Eaters. And this is the one of the leaders, if not the de facto leader, of the Wizarding world?
Please give Bertie my thanks for the idea of a DNA test. It was this proof that kept Professor Flitwick firmly on my side. Don’t blame the professor for he is used to, as is the entire Wizarding world, thinking Dumbledore nothing other than trustworthy.
Seeing he would be unable to persuade me to his way of thinking the Headmaster chose this juncture to quit the fight. Immediately I was dismissed from the meeting I hurried to my dorm in order that I might pen this letter. I shall write with more news later in the week.
Your affectionate grandson,
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Chapter 17: Chapter 17
2nd September, 1991
Hogwarts Headmaster’s Office
Albus sat behind his desk, staring blankly as he contemplated the meeting just completed. A knock sounding at the door startled him from his thoughts. Touching his wand to a small trinket upon his desk revealed the identity of his visitor. "Come in Severus," he called.
"Headmaster," Snape greeted the older man as he entered the room. "What did you discover?"
Albus sighed heavily. "A disaster dear boy."
"You place too much importance on the brat," Severus sneered.
"You are aware of the prophecy Severus," Albus chided.
"Yes," Snape agreed, "a prophecy made by a drunken failure of a seer."
"Be that as it may the prophecy has been proven true."
"And the disaster?"
"He has claimed his lordship."
"Can you not pass a law revoking his claim?"
"I fear not," Albus sighed. "The other Lords would reject such a law out of hand as it would affect them as well," the headmaster explained.
Severus had to concede the point. "You believe this will interfere with the boy fighting the Dark Lord?"
"Not as such, however, in the muggle world he lives with his grandfather."
"Nonsense," Snape interrupted. "Lily’s parents died while the Potters were in hiding."
"I gathered from Mrs. Dursley the man was a surrogate, though he was unaware of it at the time."
"I see." He still wasn’t sure how this development would be a problem.
"I fear the boy is too well loved. This will complicate the need for moulding him to a weapon," Albus explained.
"We will have him for most of the year," Severus reminded him an anticipatory gleam in his dark eyes.
"Such behaviour here may well be counter productive," Albus pointed out. "I never cared for the idea of any child suffering mistreatment but in Harry’s case it was a necessary evil. If he is to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the Wizarding world he must view it as a haven and I as his saviour."
"What I should like to know is how the dunderheaded offspring of Potter managed to find his way into Ravenclaw?" Severus sneered.
"Now Severus I know you and James Potter had your problems but the man was not stupid, nor was Lily," Albus chided.
Severus made no reply he only glared at the elderly headmaster in disgust. Throughout their school years Dumbledore was forever defending the actions of Potter and the other Marauders, bullies the lot of them. He doubted the man’s spawn would be any different.
"I would like you to pair Mr. Potter with Ron Weasley while in potions," Albus continued, choosing to ignore the glare.
"I noticed you had changed the class schedules." Originally Gryffindor and Slytherin would share classes. This morning, however, when schedules were distributed Severus had noted that it was now Gryffindor and Ravenclaw sharing classes. "You are determined to create a friendship between the two boys?"
"Ron comes from a light family, Harry must have guidance lest he turn dark," Albus calmly explained.
"Little chance of that I should think." Severus didn’t necessarily believe the Potter brat was pure light he doubted the child would turn dark considering what dark wizards had cost him.
"Have you heard anything from Lucius Malfoy regarding young Draco’s placement?"
"No, nor do I expect to."
"Do you think the Malfoys are attempting to redeem themselves through their child?" Albus like most of them had been nearly as surprised by the Malfoy scion’s placement as he was by Harry’s.
Severus carefully considered the question. "It is possible, though I’m not convinced that is the case."
Albus nodded, his mind mulling over the events that began with the sorting of the students. "I suppose there is nothing else to discuss at this time. You of course have free rein in your treatment of the Potter boy but do try to trim your excesses dear boy." If he couldn’t save Harry from the muggles he would have to content himself with playing saviour when he finally stepped in to stem the potions master’s behaviour. Hopefully that combined with the adventures he had planned for the child would be enough that he would willingly sacrifice himself, for the greater good.
"If that is all Headmaster I have a class to prepare for." Not waiting for a response Severus rose to his feet and left the room.
4th September, 1991
The first two days of classes were uneventful other than Weasley continually attempting to claim a seat next to Harry. On the Wednesday Harry heard the first whispers from older students concerning the strange scheduling. Learning that Ravenclaw had, in years past, been paired with Hufflepuff as indeed was still true for the upper years was the confirmation he needed as to the motives of Weasley. He was certain that Ron had no idea as to the motives of the adults but that the headmaster was attempting to push them together was clear. Harry could think of only a couple of reasons for such an attempt, the boy was either meant to influence him or spy upon him, perhaps both. He did know, thanks to Amelia, that the Weasley family were strong supporters of Dumbledore and thus easily influenced by the man.
"I haven’t had a chance to speak to Neville since the sorting," Harry commented to Draco and Hermione on the way to lunch that day.
"It’s difficult to spend time with anybody outside our houses unless we share a class with them," Draco commented.
"I think I’ll join Neville at his table, what do you say?" Harry asked, turning to them both.
"I think that’s a splendid idea Harry but is it allowed?" Hermione asked. While she didn’t revere adults, teachers particularly, to the point of near worship the girl had never been terribly comfortable with rule breaking.
"There’s nothing in the Hogwarts rules against it," Draco answered before Harry could.
"Are you certain?" Hermione asked.
"My father is on the board of governors," Draco explained. "He was a Slytherin, as such he understands that one never knows which information will be helpful. With that in mind he had me read and memorize the rules for students at Hogwarts as well as the rules which apply to teachers."
Hermione smiled. "If you have them written down I should quite like to read them, if that is alright with you." After the formal introduction had been made in Madam Malkin’s Hermione was free in casual settings at least to speak to Draco much more freely.
"Father says one must never share useful information with others," Draco said, teasing his fellow Claw.
"Oh," Hermione sighed. She couldn’t hide her disappointment.
"Isn’t it lucky for you I have decided not to always listen to Father?"
"Oh Draco, thank you," Hermione grinned widely, her face lighting up with joy.
"I will copy the book Father presented me for you."
Harry looked between them, a smile on his face. "So, we’re agreed then?"
"Let’s join Neville for lunch," Hermione replied.
Later none of the children could decide who had been more shocked. Neville, the other students or the teachers, nobody offered any objections however and the four children enjoyed a pleasant lunch as they became better acquainted.
6th September, 1991
Mount Street Flat
This evening found the parlour occupied only by Ginger and Biggles. Algy and Bertie having opted to take in a play.
The two at Mount Street had spent an enjoyable evening discussing the letters they had received from Harry since that first day. Both men had been happy to hear, in the subsequent letters, of the friends Harry and Hermione were finding within the walls of Hogwarts. Ginger expressed cautious relief that other than the attempt to push Harry and the Weasley boy together the headmaster seemed to be leaving his grandson alone.
"I don’t say it isn’t encouraging laddie, but we mustn’t become complacent," Biggles cautioned.
"You’re right of course," Ginger agreed. "This must be another letter," Ginger said as Hedwig flew in through the open window. Taking the letter from the snowy owl he rewarded her with an owl treat. Slitting the envelope he began to read aloud, for Biggles too would want to know what Harry had to say.
Dear Grandfather and company,
I believe I have told you of the competency and in some cases brilliance of the majority of the teachers at Hogwarts. Today I found, to my disappointment, two of the worst examples which Hogwarts has to offer.
The first class of the day was History of Magic. This course is taught by a ghost and a more boring teacher you couldn’t hope to find. Professor Binns, so the story goes, had been a dedicated teacher with nothing else in his life. So much was it his life that he fell asleep one evening in front of the fire and rose the next day to teach his classes, leaving his body behind. I don’t know why Dumbledore doesn’t replace him for only the most dedicated of scholars could hope to learn anything from this particular teacher. He speaks in an absolute monotone and as far as we can determine is simply reading directly from the textbook. Hermione, Draco and I, along with most of the other Ravenclaws have decided that rather than listen to the professor we will read the book, taking notes from it. This couldn’t possibly be more boring than the instructor.
Boredom pales in comparison to the class which followed History of Magic. This class is potions taught by the supposed former death eater Severus Snape. I am glad I knew, from Mum and Dad’s journals, something of their school years. Even so I was quite taken by surprise at the man’s vitriol. It began as he called roll, pausing at my name and remarking on my celebrity in a most snide tone. He then assigned partners, I’m sure this was done at the behest of the Headmaster as I was promptly assigned to partner Ron Weasley. It did not escape my notice, nor the notice of others, that I was the only one paired with a Gryffindor.
Following this Professor Snape gave a small speech extolling the wonderful things he could teach us, if we weren’t, in his words, as big a bunch of dunderheads as he normally had to teach. What a teacher! Before even one class he has already judged us and found us lacking. He proceeded after this to pepper me with questions. Every question he asked was from books at least a year in advance. He was most disappointed when I was able to answer each question correctly. At least I assume he was disappointed as he then took house points from me for being an insufferable know it all.
If the professor considers his students to be dunderheads it is no wonder. His manner of instructions is worse than the ghost’s by far. He, using magic, places the instructions on the board and then snaps at the class to begin. No lecture as to the properties of the ingredients, the importance of the various steps or the dangers of failing to follow them properly. As we work he sweeps about the room, cape billowing in an attempt to be intimidating (it works on most) hovering over the different work stations. As you can well imagine this serves to make many students exceedingly nervous resulting in many missteps. Luckily there were no accidents today, though Weasley nearly caused an explosion by adding a key ingredient before removing the cauldron from the flame. I saw what he was about to do in the nick of time and managed to rescue the potion before disaster ensued. In any event Weasley had points taken for his carelessness.
Following class I and a few others approached Professor Flitwick, our charms teacher and head of house. After learning of the points taken the professor was incensed. He then not only restored the points but awarded another ten points for keeping my temper in the face of such provocation. I am quite glad Hermione and I ended in Ravenclaw house. Our head will at least hear us out, not to mention taking action if needed. Seeing our success with Professor Flitwick, the Weasley boy approached his own head of house, Professor McGonagall. She wouldn’t even hear the boy out before sending him off with a flea in his ear. It is true he was careless and therefore deserved to lose points but I think she should have at least listened.
With an idea towards the need for further steps to be taken in the matter of Snape, I, Hermione and Draco have all three opted to document any unprofessional or bullying behaviour. We will not only document such behaviour aimed at one of us but at any student. A man of this sort shouldn’t be teaching children. I can well imagine the number of children who never pursue careers involving potions solely due to that man’s ill treatment. Draco isn’t certain his father, he’s on the Board of Governors, will do anything about Snape but thanks to the senior Malfoy, Draco knows the other members of the board. After we have enough documentation it is our intention to pass it on to the board. That’s all.
Your affectionate grandson,
Ginger was nearly growling by the end of the recitation. He had never liked bullies, whether children or adults. For a teacher to bully students was atrocious, that his main target was Ginger’s grandson was unforgivable. "That board better do something about the man," he snarled.
"Calm down laddie," Biggles advised. "I would imagine they will, documented evidence will be difficult to ignore. And if they fail to act we can always move Harry to a different magical school, I’m sure the Grangers would follow suit."
Ginger nodded, "You’re right of course. Sorry about that," he sheepishly apologized.
Biggles waved off the apology. He was well aware of the extent of his friend’s protectiveness towards his grandson. Come to that the same could be said of them all in regards to the lad.
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Chapter 18: Chapter 18
7th September, 1991
With no classes to hurry off to Saturday morning breakfast was much more relaxed. At the head table Dumbledore frowned as he saw Harry once more joining Neville Longbottom at the Hufflepuff table. True the Longbottom family was light but he had never been able to influence them to the extent he could some others. His frown grew as Malfoy joined Harry.
Joining Ravenclaw house had been a move worthy of any Slytherin and he was sure Malfoy senior was behind the decision. The Malfoy family had a proud tradition of placement in Slytherin house; it was inconceivable that such a family would go anywhere else. He had frankly expected Lucius to insist on a resorting. The lack of such a demand only confirmed for him that Draco’s placement was part of a greater plan. Clearly that plan revolved around Harry Potter, the likely intent being to influence him towards dark magic. The fact that Draco’s sorting came before Harry’s never occurred to the elderly wizard.
"I think that owl is heading towards you Harry," Hermione said as one of the school owls neared the table.
Harry looked in the indicated direction just as the owl reached him, dropping a letter onto his plate before heading off to the owlery.
"Do you suppose it’s from Dumbledore?" Hermione asked.
"As Biggles would say, one way to find out," Harry grinned as he opened the message. "It’s from Hagrid inviting me and my friends for tea this afternoon," Harry told them. "Does this seem a bit odd to you Draco?" he asked, turning to the blond.
"I should say so," Draco replied. "Are you planning to accept the invitation?"
Harry gave the matter some thought. He wasn’t certain how but he was sure the headmaster was somehow involved in the invitation. Perhaps it would be best to play along for now in order that he might discover the man’s ultimate goal. "I think I will, would the three of you like to come along?"
"I can’t," Neville replied first. "I have a meeting with Professor Sprout to discuss a Herbology project."
"I’ll go with you Harry," Hermione brightly told her friend. She too was sure Dumbledore was involved somehow; there was no way she would let Harry deal with the man on his own.
Draco wasn’t sure what to do. He quite liked the idea of spending time with his friends but he knew from his father that Hagrid had a problem with drink. Quite frankly the man scared him silly. "I suppose I could accompany you," he finally agreed, though he was clearly reluctant.
8th September, 1991
Mount Street Flat
A tapping at the window drew the attention of the men as they began their breakfast. Opening the window, Ginger let Hedwig into the flat.
"Certainly getting a workout aren’t you old girl?" Bertie addressed the owl, now relieved of the letter she had carried.
Hedwig hooted in agreement.
"Such devotion should be rewarded," Bertie averred. Fixing the owl a breakfast appropriate for the creature he placed it before her as Ginger opened the letter.
Dear Grandfather and company,
Yesterday at breakfast I received a most surprising invitation. The groundskeeper, the large man we shared a cart with at Gringots, invited me to afternoon tea. I immediately suspected Dumbledore’s involvement. Feeling that it would be best to play along for the moment I accepted the invitation.
The afternoon saw me, accompanied by Hermione and Draco, arriving at Hagrid’s cabin. The tea got off to an uncomfortable start as Hagrid was clearly hostile towards my friend Draco. When I made to leave the man quickly apologized for his behaviour, explaining it away as a reaction to bad blood between him and Draco’s father. As Draco was willing to accept the apology we decided to stay.
I must warn you Grandfather, if Hagrid ever offers you any food politely decline. I nearly broke a tooth on the rock cake he offered. Luckily his very large dog Fang enjoys the cakes and we were all able to pass them to the dog when Hagrid wasn’t looking.
As we spoke I spotted a newspaper clipping regarding a robbery attempt at Gringot’s. This attempt occurred on the same day we visited the bank. The vault entered was luckily empty, having been emptied earlier that day by none other than Hagrid, though the article didn’t mention Hagrid it mentioned the vault number. I thought it quite curious that the man would have an article, several months old, lying about his home.
Spotting me looking at it Hagrid immediately moved to put it away. As I suspect it was the aim I asked about the article. A short conversation followed during which Hagrid let slip the name of Nicholas Flamel in connection with the vault. I suspect and both Hermione and Draco agree that this is somehow connected to the forbidden third floor corridor. With this in mind we asked some of the older Ravenclaws if they were familiar with Flamel. It turns out the man is quite famous in certain circles as the creator of an object which grants immortality, Flamel himself is well into his sixth century as is his wife. The object in question is referred to as the Philosophers Stone. You might ask Amelia to contact the man regarding his stone. I suspect that is the object Hagrid removed from the bank and is now hidden on the third floor of Hogwarts. Considering an attempted theft was already made upon the object I cannot imagine why the headmaster would choose to bring such a tempting item into a school full of children.
That is all the news I have at present.
Your affectionate grandson,
Ginger glanced at the clock. It wasn’t too early. Rising from the table he went into the front parlour, followed closely by the others. He threw a handful of floo powder into the fire. Placing his head in the fire he called out Amelia’s floo address.
The moment she saw Ginger’s head in the fireplace Amelia knew something was wrong. "Are the children alright?" she asked. She had grown quite fond of both her students over the years, nearly as fond as she felt towards her niece Susan.
"They’re fine Amelia," Ginger quickly assured the woman. "I received a letter from Harry this morning which has us all quite concerned. Could you step through please?"
"Give me a moment," Amelia replied. Gathering a dictaquill and parchment she was soon stepping into the floo. Placing the Mount Street flat on the floo network had quickly proven a good idea. "What did Harry say?" she inquired the moment she stepped into the flat.
"See for yourself," Ginger said, handing her the letter.
Amelia frowned as she read the letter. "He wouldn’t," she whispered.
"Wouldn’t what?" Biggles asked.
"There are those who believe that Voldemort isn’t truly gone, Dumbledore is one of these. I fear this belief has some connection to this object. If Harry is correct in his theory, the Philosophers Stone would be quite a temptation to a Dark Lord seeking to regain his power."
"What would happen if Voldemort gained possession of the Stone?" Algy asked.
"It doesn’t bear thinking of," Amelia shuddered. "He would become immortal. But surely Dumbledore wouldn’t risk such a thing." She shook her head, astonished at her own statement. "Of course he would, the man thinks himself infallible. It would never occur to him that Voldemort might find the Stone and succeed in taking it for himself."
"Is there anything you can do?" Ginger asked.
"I will contact Flamel to begin with," Amelia replied. "We could be wrong about the Stone," she pointed out. "My next move will depend upon what I learn from the man. Gentlemen thank you for bringing this to my attention please let Harry know I will look into it immediately."
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Chapter 19: Chapter 19
8th September, 1991
"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice Mr. Flamel," Amelia greeted the ancient wizard as she stepped inside.
"It sounded as if it was an important matter," Nicholas said. Though well into his sixth century of life his appearance was that of a man in the prime of life; a gift of the Philosophers Stone.
"It is," Amelia confirmed.
"Let us retire to my study where we can discuss the matter in detail," Nicholas offered. Along the way they were joined by his wife Pernelle and in moments the three were ensconced within the study. Calling for a house elf, Pernelle offered their guest refreshments.
"Now then Madame Bones, what can the house of Flamel do for the DMLE?" Nicholas asked once tea was served.
"It has come to my attention Mr. Flamel that Headmaster Dumbledore may have possession of your Philosophers Stone." Amelia had given some thought as to how best to proceed. In the end she had decided a straight forward approach was called for.
"Are you suggesting that he stole my stone?" Nicholas asked in an amused tone.
"No sir," Amelia admitted, a small smile playing about her lips. "I have reason to believe that the Headmaster is hiding something within the school." In a few short sentences she went on to explain what she knew of the situation.
"You’re right Madame Bones and yet you are mistaken," Nicholas said when she finished. He could clearly see he had confused the woman. "It is true that Albus approached me, requesting the use of my stone in an experiment. I have had such requests from others in the past and so took measures to ensure the safety of the stone. While Albus was given a stone, which you are likely right as to the fate of, he was not given the stone."
"You gave him a fake?"
"I prefer replica," Nicholas grinned.
Relief caused Amelia to laugh heartily. "So there is no danger," she mused.
"I wouldn’t go so far as to say that," Nicholas responded, though no question had been asked. "Voldemort, if he is still in existence, would not know the stone is a replica and would therefore still attempt to steal it. If it is true that Albus is hiding it in the school, a fact I have little doubt of, then the children could still be endangered."
Amelia sobered. Flamel was right of course. "Yes, that is true. I suppose I’ll have to charge him..."
"I think you should wait," Nicholas interrupted.
Amelia narrowed her eyes. "Why is that?"
"I should like, to begin with, to know what Albus will do if we allow him to play his scheme to conclusion."
"I admit to curiosity but I don’t feel comfortable with allowing children to be placed in danger," Amelia countered.
"That is troublesome," Nicholas admitted. "Yet, if you charge Albus with anything he will likely find a way to wiggle out of the trouble. He is quite good at such things."
"What would you suggest?" Though the head of her department Amelia had long ago learned the value of listening to the counsel of others.
"Allow Albus to continue but inform young Potter of the truth concerning the stone. I have lived a long time Madame Bones and in that time I have seen many men like Albus, some better, some worse but all had one thing in common."
"What is that?"
"A belief that they and they alone, are capable of leading the Wizarding world in the direction it needs to go. Albus may not lead, in the classic sense, but be assured that he does in fact lead. One has only to look at his reputation alongside his positions to see the truth in what I say. Like many such men, Albus’ failing lies in the belief that no other is capable. Following this belief he manipulates people and situations to gain the results he thinks necessary for the good of the Wizarding world. Such hubris is a fault that will ultimately lead to his destruction, as it has for many others. The Americans have a saying that is apropos; give them enough rope to hang themselves with."
Amelia nodded; she could easily see the sense in what Flamel said. "Why tell Harry the truth?"
Nicholas chuckled. "Testing me, really Madame," he teased. "Very well. It is clear to me that the trap being laid is meant to ensnare more than Voldemort. I suspect, as I’m sure you do, that Albus is testing young Mr. Potter while at the same time laying the foundation in the child for self-sacrifice. It begins with his choice of Reubeus Hagrid to retrieve the stone from Gringots. Hagrid isn’t a bad man but spend five minutes in his company and you will know he can’t keep a secret, not even if his very life were endangered. Why then would a man of Albus’ intelligence ask Hagrid to retrieve an item which must be kept secret if it is to be kept safe? Couple this with the old clipping Mr. Potter saw in the man’s home and it is clear that Albus wants the child to know about the stone."
"What you need to do dear," Pernelle spoke for the first time, "is destroy the man’s influence. Allow the scheme to go forward, as Nicholas suggested. However no matter the results be sure Albus isn’t allowed to sweep it under the rug."
"I will discuss the matter with Harry’s guardian but I suspect he will agree with you." Amelia stood. "Thank you for your time, you have been most helpful."
"Not at all Madame," Nicholas smiled.
After leaving the Flamel home Amelia made her way to Mount Street. It didn’t take long to relate the conversation and as she had expected Ginger and the others agreed with Flamel.
"Before you leave Amelia, I should like to discuss the Dursley situation," Ginger said.
"You wish to have them charged?" Amelia asked. They had discussed it a few times throughout the years but there had always been a concern of Harry’s whereabouts being discovered.
"Dumbledore knows now, without a doubt, that Harry is no longer at the Dursley’s," Ginger pointed out.
"I should hope so," Bertie put in. "He has been jolly well informed of the lad’s status."
"Bertie’s right," Biggles said. "There really isn’t any reason for further delay."
"Do you want them charged in the muggle courts or in the Wizarding?" Amelia asked.
Ginger looked startled for a moment but soon recovered himself; he hadn’t considered that. "Which do you think would be best?"
"I think the Wizarding courts would be best," Amelia replied after thinking it over. "By prosecuting them in our courts all the factors which apply can be used. Furthermore, our courts will better understand the delay in prosecution. That very necessary delay would create issues, I’m afraid, in the muggle courts."
"Are there formal reports I must submit?" Ginger asked. He was uncertain as to how Wizarding courts worked.
"Actually as he has taken the mantle of his Lordship it would likely be best if Harry requested the arrest and prosecution of the Dursley family."
"Should he contact you?"
"That would be best. I will provide the forms he will need and you can send them on to him at Hogwarts. You might warn him that there will be a great deal of publicity resulting from these actions. No matter the child involved the Wizarding papers would give attention to a case of child abuse, given Harry’s fame the attention will increase ten fold."
"You make a good point," Ginger conceded. "If you will provide the forms tomorrow I will post a letter to Harry immediately."
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Chapter 20: Chapter 20
30th September, 1991
#4 Privet Drive, Surrey
"Petunia did you hear about..." Mrs. Thomas of #8 cast a glare towards the front door, frustrated to have her gossip session interrupted. Little did she know that the juicy gossip about to be imparted would very soon be replaced with a much more scandalous bit of news.
"Excuse me Evelyn, won’t you," Petunia said as she stood to answer the door. Whoever this was had better have important business or they would feel the sharp side of her tongue. "Yes?" she asked as she opened the door. Tradesmen, she thought as she took in the sight of two strangers standing on her step.
"Mrs. Petunia Dursley, nee Evans?" one asked.
Startled, Petunia hesitantly confirmed her identity. The moment she replied Petunia found herself forced backwards as the men entered her home. "What is the meaning of this?" she fearfully demanded. Was this some sort of robbery or perhaps they intended to kidnap her for ransom?
"Mrs. Dursley we are from Child Protective Services," the other one said. "I am Rodger Custos, this is Kingsley Shacklebot," he continued, making introductions.
Petunia’s confusion was clearly written upon her face. "I don’t understand, what could you want with me?"
"We are here to investigate allegations of abuse against your nephew Harry James Potter," Rodger informed her.
A gasp from behind Petunia alerted the two wizards to the presence of another while simultaneously reminding Mrs. Dursley of her guest. "I’m afraid we’ll have to continue our visit later Evelyn," Petunia apologized, her pale face reddening in humiliation. She had considered asking the other woman to remain silent but had quickly dismissed the thought. Petunia knew the request would be politely agreed to and promptly ignored.
"Of course Petunia," Evelyn acknowledged the dismissal though she desperately wanted to remain. Oh to be a fly on the wall! "I do hope all will be well dear," she continued. Making her farewells she quickly left the Dursley home, eager to spread the newest bit of gossip.
"I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed gentlemen, my nephew doesn’t live here," Petunia coldly informed the two men.
"Oh we’re quite aware of that Mrs. Dursley," Rodger said, his tone equally cold. "It was Lord Potter himself who contacted us requesting an investigation."
"Lord Potter? I don’t know any Lord Potter," Petunia nearly screeched.
"Your nephew has taken up his title as head of an Ancient and Noble family," Rodger explained.
Petunia narrowed her eyes at the men. "You’re freaks," she spat the accusation. "How dare you impersonate..."
"Madam I assure you we are impersonating no one," Rodger cut her off mid-sentence. "Auror Shacklebot if you would," he said turning to the other man and making a sweeping gesture.
"Of course," Kingsley nodded. Taking out his wand he ignored the outraged gasp from Mrs. Dursley as he began casting various spells. These were particular spells known only to Aurors and Child Protective workers. The purpose of the spells was quite simple, once cast they would reveal any and all activities involving the alleged suspect or victim within a previous amount of time to a maximum of fifteen years. The spells were classified in order to prevent suspects creating counter spells. So important was it to keep these spells under wraps that when those who knew of them left the service they were obliviated of the knowledge.
"I don’t know who you people think you are but you have no right to harass decent people," Petunia said, once more repeating the protest that fell on deaf ears.
Rodger ignored the woman’s screeching protests as he watched his partner working. Though he remained with their suspect he could see the results of Kingsley’s spells and he knew by the colours he was seeing that proof of Lord Potter’s accusations had been discovered. Finally, to Rodger’s relief, his partner returned to the living room where he and Mrs. Dursley had waited.
Kingsley stepped into the room, a long piece of parchment held in his hand. Presenting the paper to his partner the tall, regal looking black wizard turned towards their suspect. "Mrs. Dursley you are under arrest," he contemptuously informed the woman.
"You haven’t the authority," Petunia sneered. "I’m not one of you."
"No" ,Kingsley agreed, "but you had a magical child in your care and as such you are subject to our laws. Please turn around and place your hands behind your back." As the majority of child abuse cases involved muggleborns Aurors sent on such investigations were well prepared for operating within the muggle world.
"I will not," Petunia refused. She knew her rights and knew they weren’t allowed to perform magic against or in sight of normal people.
With a shrug Kingsley placed a hand on her shoulder, spinning her around and bringing her arms behind her. Drawing out a pair of handcuffs he quickly snapped them around her wrists.
"What are you doing? You can’t do this to me, I demand you release me at once," Petunia wailed.
Tired of listening to the shrew, Kingsley cast a silencing spell bringing an end to her protests. "The husband?" he asked his partner.
"I’ve already sent a message to the other team. They’ll soon have him in custody." Waving his wand he casts a few spells meant to keep any unauthorized person from the home until such time as the trials came to an end.
The moment the door opened Petunia could see her neighbours gathered, whispering and pointing. Feeling thoroughly humiliated she kept her head down as the two wizards led her to a waiting car. Her life was over thanks to that freaky brat. Even if they escaped the freaks unharmed she and her family would never again be able to hold their heads up in this neighbourhood.
1st October, 1991
Hogwarts Great Hall
Harry looked up as a regal looking owl made its way towards him. Taking the official looking document from the owl he rewarded it with a treat before turning his attention to the letter.
"What is it Harry?" Hermione asked.
Harry read through it quickly. "The Dursleys have been arrested, their trials are scheduled for a week tomorrow," Harry replied in a tight voice.
"Are you ready for this?" Hermione was concerned by the tension she could feel radiating from her friend.
"I don’t look forward to it," Harry admitted. "But Grandfather is right; they need to be brought to justice."
"I suppose but it isn’t fair to ask you to do something you’re not ready for."
Harry shot her a grateful look. He could always count on Hermione to offer her support and understanding. "I don’t suppose I’ll ever be truly ready. I expect delaying will only make it harder. Don’t blame Grandfather Mione, he never insisted I pursue charges." He knew his friend and was aware she would think this was something the adults had pressured him into. Nothing could be further from the truth. His grandfather had been honest with him, admitting he wanted to see the Dursley’s properly punished but he left the final decision up to Harry. As he said, it was Harry who had suffered at their hands.
"I suppose you’ll be needed at the trial."
"Yes," Harry confirmed. "I’ll need to speak to Professor Flitwick about arrangements."
"Do you mind if I ask who these Dursleys are?" Draco quietly asked from Harry’s other side.
Harry startled, he’d quite forgotten the presence of the other boy. "I suppose it will be in the papers eventually," Harry said with a small shrug. "The Dursleys are the family I lived with before my grandfather."
"Yes and the worst sort of muggles you could possibly imagine," Harry replied. "They weren’t...kind to me when I stayed with them. I filed the forms a couple of weeks ago laying charges against them."
Draco frowned. "I thought you had lived with your grandfather for a long time?"
"Yes, he rescued me from the Dursley family when I was nearly seven. I have lived with him since that time."
"And he treats you correctly?" Draco couldn’t help his concern. If one muggle family mistreated his friend perhaps the other did as well.
Harry grinned. "Grandfather is wonderful! He saved me from a horrible fate, giving me a loving home and family. I shudder to think what my life would have been like had he never found me."
"Good," Draco smiled. "Why did you wait until now to file charges?" He knew it wasn’t a polite question but in this instance curiosity won out over good manners.
"There were reasons, but I can’t discuss them at the moment. I will tell you later, alright?" Harry hoped the other boy would understand but he couldn’t risk explanations where the wrong people might overhear.
Harry turned in his seat, unsurprised to see his head of house standing behind him. "Yes sir?"
"The Headmaster would like to see you after breakfast."
"Will you accompany me Professor?"
"The Headmaster insist this be a private meeting," Flitwick replied.
"Then I’m afraid I must decline."
"You are a student at Hogwarts Mr. Potter, you haven’t a choice."
"The by-laws of Hogwarts clearly state that no student shall meet with the Headmaster without the presence of his Head of House or guardian," Harry blandly informed the man. "If you are unable to accompany me I shall have to contact my grandfather. I’m afraid this will necessitate a delay in the meeting." Harry wasn’t sure how he managed to sound sincerely apologetic; the important thing was that he did manage it.
The small charms professor smiled. He hadn’t liked Dumbledore’s insistence on a private meeting but what could he do? If he protested too strongly the older wizard might well dismiss him, it was a risk Filius was unwilling to take. "I shall inform the Headmaster."
"I wonder which the old man will opt for," Harry mused as his teacher walked away.
"I hope he takes the delay," Hermione grinned. "I’m sure your grandfather would bring Biggles along, I should quite like to see that meeting."
"Hermione Granger," Harry pretended to be shocked.
"Mr. Potter, I will accompany you to the meeting," a returning Flitwick spoke, interrupting their fun.
"Yes sir," Harry nodded. Glancing at the head table he saw the elderly Dumbledore leaving through a side door. "Shall we go now?"
"The Headmaster can wait until you complete your meal," Flitwick replied.
"Thank you sir," Harry smiled. It heartened him to see the small professor looking to his welfare. Such actions told him the man would not be a puppet for their elderly headmaster.
Hogwarts Headmaster’s Office
Alerted by one of his many trinkets Dumbledore quickly wiped away the irritation of seconds before. Perhaps Severus was right when he said the boy was arrogant. Why else would the child choose to keep a man of his importance waiting? "Come in Mr. Potter," he called before the boy could knock.
Harry confidently entered the office, followed by Professor Flitwick. "You wanted to see me Headmaster?"
"Yes Harry I did," Albus confirmed.
Harry frowned at the familiarity but said nothing. "Could I ask why?" he politely enquired.
"I received a most disturbing letter this morning my boy," Dumbledore solemnly replied.
"Oh?" Harry could make a guess to the contents but preferred to see what the man would reveal.
"I was informed that you would be needed as a witness at trial a week tomorrow."
"I understand you requested the investigation."
"I did," Harry confirmed.
Dumbledore frowned. He had hoped the boy would volunteer information in the face of his leading statement. "I don’t understand why you would request such."
"I’m not sure why it concerns you Headmaster," Harry pretended to be confused. He of course knew Dumbledore had placed him with the Dursleys. He probably feared such information coming to light.
"I am concerned for all of my students Harry," Dumbledore said in his best grandfatherly tones.
"Are you?" Harry calmly responded. "Well Headmaster let me put your mind at ease. I am in no danger from the Dursleys at this time, nor do I expect there to be any danger during the trial. It is true sitting as witness against them will likely be unpleasant but I have survived much worse."
"My boy you need to forgive those who have wronged you," Albus wisely counselled, at least he supposed it was wise.
"And what will they learn if they pay no consequences for their actions?"
"I’m sure they regret the past..."
"The only thing they regret is the loss of free labour and their present humiliation," Harry interrupted.
"Revenge is a dark path that will only lead to greater darkness Harry," Albus sadly responded.
"So you condone the abuse of children?" Harry asked. Hearing a gasp from beside him Harry hid the smirk that tried to escape. That should get his Head of House thinking and hopefully talking to others.
"Of course not my boy," Albus replied, clearly affronted.
"Of course not. You only wish to allow them to escape the rightful punishment they have earned due to their actions."
Albus bristled. How dare the little brat twist his words? "That’s not what I meant at all Harry."
"It would seem you do Headmaster," Harry said. "You advise me not to seek revenge as you call it but to forgive the Dursleys the abuse I suffered at their hands."
"I’ve explained my reasons my boy."
"Yes, the dark path," Harry frowned. "You can relax Headmaster. I won’t be seeking revenge against the Dursleys."
Albus sighed, relaxing into his seat. "Would you like me to contact Child Protective Services?"
Harry gave him a puzzled look. "Why would I want you to do that?"
"Why to cancel the court case of course," Albus replied, a small frown gracing his face.
"Oh," Harry smiled. "You misunderstand Headmaster. I didn’t mean I would drop the case."
"You didn’t? Then what did you mean?"
Harry stood, giving the elderly man an almost condescending look. "I meant, of course, that it isn’t revenge I seek but rather it is justice. Good morning Headmaster." Without another word Harry swept from the room.
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Chapter 21: Chapter 21
9th October, 1991
Ministry of Magic
Harry stepped out of the floo, an Auror at his side. He was surprised at the lack of media and it must have shown on his face for his escort commented on it.
"This is a secure floo," Kingsley Shacklebot explained. "It’s used when there is a need to avoid the main entrance. Madame Bones thought it would be better if you didn’t have an encounter with the media before the trial."
"Please tell her thank you for me," Harry said. He had seen reports on the telly involving trials and he was very grateful to Amelia for sparing him the discomfort.
"I will," Kingsley promised. Nothing further was said as the Auror led Harry down the hall to a private room. "Somebody will come and get you when it’s time for the trial to begin," he explained as he opened the door.
"Thank you," Harry politely responded. Stepping into the room his mouth fell open in surprise.
"Careful laddie you’ll catch flies," Ginger teased.
"Grandfather," Harry happily shouted. Gone were all traces of the dignified Lord of an Ancient and Noble house, in his place a child happy to see his family. "What are you doing here? Not that I’m not happy to see you."
Ginger chuckled. "Yet you hide it so well." Ignoring the boy’s blush he continued. "Amelia wanted me to testify as well. A task I am more than happy to carry out. Are you alright laddie? Any further trouble from your headmaster?" He and the others had been quite concerned when Harry wrote them of his last meeting with the elderly wizard.
"I’m fine Grandfather, a bit nervous but I think that’s normal isn’t it?" Harry replied. Ginger admitted it likely was. "The headmaster hasn’t said anything more to me, though he has been giving me disappointed looks every time he sees me. I’ve ignored them of course."
"Good. I don’t see why the man supposes his disappointment would matter at any rate."
Harry smirked. "I imagine that has to do with the reaction of most of the Wizarding world to the man. You should see the way most of them revere him. One would think he were Merlin himself walking amongst them."
Ginger shook his head. "If they see him that way it would explain how he continues to escape any consequences for his actions. Well with any luck today will begin the process of chipping away at his reputation and power."
"I hope so," Harry readily agreed. In the ordinary way he wouldn’t wish ill of others but the aging headmaster quite needed to be taken down a peg or two. He had obviously forgotten that he is only human and therefore as susceptible to mistakes as any other. "Will any of the others be here?"
"No laddie. We discussed it with Amelia but she felt there was no real need for their testimony. Though she didn’t say it I suspect she wanted to avoid the appearance that might be given by a bunch of old squibs testifying in a case that will involve Dumbledore."
"I’m not sure I understand Grandfather."
"I think she is afraid the court, being comprised of witches and wizards, might think we were only out to damage a great wizard’s reputation out of jealousy. As the others can’t really add anything to the case she thought it not worth the risk," Ginger explained. He was to some extent guessing but it was a guess born of close association with the witch in question.
Just then the door was opened. "It’s time," Kingsley informed them. Silently the Auror led the two down the hall to the courtroom when he escorted them to their seats.
As the complainant Harry, along with Ginger, was to sit behind the advocate’s table. Harry didn’t recognize the witch who would act as advocate for the government but she looked quite competent. Looking above the courtroom he saw several witches and wizards seated in the area he assumed comprised the Wizengamot. He recognized a few from his studies but most were unfamiliar to him.
As Chief Warlock Dumbledore was in charge of the proceedings, as such he soon brought down a gavel, calling the court to attention. "Are the parties ready to proceed?" he asked. At their nods he indicated they should proceed.
The government advocate, Ms. Davis, stood. She wasted little time on preliminary statements, keeping these short and concise. "I call Madame Amelia Bones to stand witness."
Amelia rose from her seat, quickly making her way forward. Standing in the centre of the aisle she waited for the questions to begin.
"Madame Bones is it correct that you removed Harry Potter from the Dursley home in 1987?"
"Why did you feel the need to remove him from this home?"
"Harry’s mother had asked me, before her death, to make sure her son lived with his grandfather. She told me that he should never live with her sister, Mrs. Dursley, as the woman hates anything and anybody having to do with magic."
"Why did you wait such a long period to carry out her wishes?"
"I was foolish. I had thought Harry was with his grandfather when he was not. After overhearing a conversation between Albus Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge I realized he was living with the Dursley family. I was anxious to do my duty, late though it might be, and immediately began searching for the grandfather. It took some time but I was able to find the man."
"What happened after you met Harry’s grandfather?"
"After explaining the situation to him, Mr. Hebblethwaite, was quite willing to take Harry in, providing that was his wish. We went that same day to the Dursley house in Surrey where we discovered that young Harry was the victim of abuse and neglect. The moment Mrs. Dursley was aware of our purpose she was more than willing to sign custody of her nephew to his grandfather, a man who was a complete stranger to her."
Ms. Davis frowned. "How can that be?"
Amelia quickly explained about the surrogacy. "When we retrieved Harry from his room, a small cupboard under the stairs, he was wearing clothing which could only be described as rags and had quite a number of bruises and small cuts. With the custody papers in hand we quickly left the home and made our way to Gringotts bank. The goblins were quite happy to assist us with the necessary paperwork. Mr. Hebblethwaite legally adopted his grandson and began the process for Harry’s eventual emancipation in the Wizarding world."
"Did the goblins assist you with anything else?"
"Yes they did. They healed young Harry of his injuries, new as well as old. We discovered that the curse scar Harry wears contained dark magic which had never been removed. The goblins easily removed the dark magic along with a monitoring charm, loyalty charm, and a block on his magic." There were gasps heard throughout the room at this news.
"Madame Bones do you know who was responsible for this?" Davis asked, clearly affronted.
"Albus Dumbledore," Amelia replied.
Davis whirled towards the Wizengamot. "Ladies and gentlemen I respectfully request the Chief Warlock remove himself for hearing this case."
"Of course I shall do so," Albus easily agreed to the request. Though calm on the outside, inside he was bristling with anger. How dare they use this trial to bring accusations against him? The fact the accusations were true had no bearing on the issue as far as Dumbledore was concerned.
Augusta Longbottom was quickly appointed to preside over the proceedings in his stead and the trial continued.
Ms. Davis asked only a couple more questions for clarification after which the defence was given a chance to examine the witness.
"Madame Bones if the accusations of child abuse are true I must ask why so much time was allowed to pass before charges were brought forth." Mr. Frazier asked.
"It was believed to be in the best interest of the child that his whereabouts be kept confidential until he began Hogwarts. This summer past Lord Potter took up his status as head of an Ancient and Noble family allowing him a certain amount of security. The situation was then discussed; with Lord Potter ultimately deciding justice had been denied too long."
Mr. Frazier declined any further questions. The documentation from the goblins had already been recorded and Amelia could tell him nothing further.
Ginger testified next, his testimony mirroring Amelia’s up to the point of their visit to Gringots.
"Mr. Hebblethwaite, could you tell us if your grandson suffered any lasting damage as a result of his placement with Mrs. Dursley and her family?" Davis asked.
"I should say so," Ginger replied. "He suffered nightmares for a long while, he still occasionally suffers from them. It was necessary that he take potions for the first year of his time with us in order that he might escape long-term damage from the abuse and neglect he was subjected to. The healers tell us Harry will never be the size he should have been, the early and prolonged malnutrition having stunted his growth. For the first two years he lived with me he was in a state of nervousness brought about by a fear that I would become like the Dursley family, especially when he performed accidental magic."
Ms. Davis took her seat.
Mr. Frazier stood. "Mr. Hebblethwaite did you actually witness anybody in the Dursley family abusing your grandson?"
"No," Ginger had to admit. "But...
"Then he could have received his injuries in the same way most little boys do, through play," Frazier suggested.
"No he couldn’t have." Ginger enjoyed the look of frustration on the man’s face.
"Because he told you? Couldn’t he have lied due to a desire to live with you?"
"Yes Harry told me and the healers confirmed the injuries could only have come from abuse." Ginger spoke somewhat quickly, not wanting to give the man a chance to interrupt him.
Frazier, at this point opted to dismiss the witness. He had not been happy when he was assigned this case but as all were entitled to a defence he had little choice. While he was doing his best to mount a defence there was little he could do given the evidence in play.
As her final witness Ms. Davis called Harry to testify.
"Stay calm laddie," Ginger whispered as he gave the child’s shoulder an encouraging squeeze.
Harry nodded his acknowledgment before making his way forward.
"Lord Potter, may I call you Harry?" Ms.Davis asked. She was aware that the members of the Wizengamot might well forget they were discussing a child if he was continually addressed by his title. Receiving permission, she continued with her questioning. "I know this may be difficult Harry but could you tell us what life was like for you with the Dursley family?"
"I didn’t live when I was with the Dursley’s Ms. Davis, rather I only existed. My earliest memories of life at #4 Privet Drive are of my cousin beating me while his parents looked on with smiles on their faces. From the time I arrived on their doorstep I was assigned chores, many of which were beyond my capabilities. Failure to complete the chores resulted in a beating from my uncle and no food for a period of time. It could be anywhere from a day to a week. I was never called by my name, only boy or freak and everything that went wrong was blamed on me. When I was four my aunt began teaching me to cook. For every failure I was beaten, needless to say I quickly learned the art of cooking. I was also told that my parents were shiftless drunks who got themselves killed in a car wreck leaving me to be a burden on decent people." Harry testified in a toneless voice, the only way he could make it through the testimony.
"But surely your cousin Dudley also had chores?" Davis enquired.
"No madam he didn’t," Harry replied. "Dudley spent his days, when not in school, eating, watching the telly or playing video games, unless he was playing his favourite game of Harry Hunting."
"If the members will direct their attention to the parchment I distributed they will see an explanation of the unfamiliar terms. Now Harry, could you explain to us what Harry Hunting entailed?"
"It was simple really," Harry grimaced in memory. "Dudley and his friends would chase me and if they caught me I would be beaten by the lot of them."
"Were your aunt and uncle aware of this?"
"Yes ma’am, they often witnessed and encouraged it."
"How did you feel when your grandfather arrived at the Dursley home?"
Harry smiled warmly. "It was the best day of my life. I was a bit nervous of course but when Grandfather asked if I wanted to live with him I quickly said yes. I was somewhat afraid the offer would be withdrawn if I hesitated."
"So you preferred a complete stranger to the Dursley family?"
"Yes, I didn’t suppose he could possibly be worse. Luckily he was a hundred percent better, no a thousand times better. If it weren’t for my grandfather I doubt I would have been alive to receive my Hogwarts letter," Harry truthfully added.
Mr. Frazier declined to question the boy, knowing it would only anger the members of the court if he challenged the victim, especially considering his fame.
Throughout the testimony of the witnesses the Dursley’s had wavered between anger and fear, both emotions clearly visible on their faces. Fearing they would interrupt the proceedings, gaining them no sympathy, Frazier had applied a silencing spell. He now removed the spell in order to question the accused. The moment the spell left them Frazier saw any chance they had fly away.
"You freaks have no right to bring us here," Vernon yelled, his face purple with rage. "We are normal, decent people. We won’t be subjected to this so-called court. It’s a travesty and I demand you release us."
"You demand?" an elderly wizard disdainfully asked.
"Yes I demand! We are not subject to your laws." Standing beside him Petunia tried and failed to shush him as she took in the looks of disgust aimed their way.
"Who are you to demand anything of us muggle?" Lucius Malfoy sneered. He was no supporter of the light but neither was he any longer a supporter of the Dark Lord. Few would have believed it but the night Harry Potter vanquished his master had been one of the happiest of his life, topped only by his marriage and the birth of his only son. He had agreed with much of the Dark Lord’s ideals but had quickly realized that his methods would ultimately destroy them all.
"I am a normal, decent..."
"Decent? You call it decent to beat and starve a child in your care?" Lucius demanded. While not quite proper it was not without precedent for a member of the Wizengamot to question a witness.
"We never asked for him," Petunia replied. "Your precious Dumbledore left him on our doorstep during the night with only a letter demanding we take him in and care for him. Nobody asked us if it was what we wanted, if they had I would have told them absolutely not," she sniffed.
Lucius smirked at the woman’s words. "Is that why you beat and starved your own nephew?"
"We had every right to protect ourselves."
"From a child?" Lucius scoffed.
"From his magic," Petunia snapped.
"We couldn’t perform magic what else could we do but to try and stomp the magic out of him?" Vernon added.
"I think we’ve heard enough," Lucius calmly responded. Looking about the room he saw the other members nodding in agreement, both dark and light wizards alike.
A silencing spell was cast on the members allowing them to deliberate. Another silencing spell was applied to the Dursley’s for good measure. As the court examined the evidence the Dursley’s grew more and more nervous. Their faces were covered in sweat as they sat close together, gripping tightly to one another’s hands.
"Petunia and Vernon Dursley," Augusta Longbottom intoned. "For the crimes of which you are accused this court finds you guilty of all charges. You are hereby sentenced to a term of ten years each in the medium security wing of Azkaban." To many it might not seem sufficient but Augusta knew that exposure to the dementors would soon drive the muggles insane. They might survive their time in Azkaban but they would not do so with their sanity intact.
"You can’t do this," Vernon yelled as the silencing spell was once more removed.
"What about our little boy? What will happen to him?" Petunia cried.
"That will be something the muggles will have to work out for themselves," Augusta replied. "Though I will recommend that he be placed in a loving family. With any luck it isn’t too late to save him from the path you were allowing him to travel."
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Chapter 22: Chapter 22
10th October, 1991
Hogwarts Great Hall
Harry had purposely arrived early for breakfast, so it was that he had just finished when the post owls arrived. Thanking Hedwig he reluctantly opened the paper. As he had expected news of the trial covered the front page. Glossing over the articles he was relieved to see the reporting was accurate if a bit sensational in some cases.
"There’s an article about Dumbledore," Hermione said as she looked through her own copy.
"Is there?" Harry said. Moving his eyes across the page he soon found the article in question. Written by a Rita Skeeter it detailed the headmaster’s role in Harry’s placement. The reporter called into question the man’s judgement and integrity. She pointed out the fact he had ignored the Potter will, following this up with the revelation that he had placed blocks along with monitoring and loyalty charms on the saviour of the Wizarding world. By the end of the article Ms. Skeeter was demanding to know what the Ministry intended to do about the actions of the elderly, self-proclaimed Leader of the Light.
"He isn’t going to be happy about this," Hermione whispered.
"I don’t suppose he will be," Harry agreed.
"He may blame you."
"I’m sure he will. After all if I hadn’t insisted on punishment for the Dursleys his actions would never have been made public." Harry turned the pages of the paper, reading, with satisfaction, other articles calling for the same sort of answers. "Of course it could be said that if he hadn’t ignored the will or placed those spells on me then he wouldn’t have anything to worry about."
"I wouldn’t worry Hermione," Draco spoke up. "Dumbledore may be questioned and some won’t be as quick to trust him but he has enough power that it will take more than this to bring him down."
"Yes well that doesn’t mean he won’t give Harry a difficult time," Hermione countered as she glanced towards the head table.
Following her gaze the boys could see several teachers giving them pointed, disapproving looks as they read the paper. Harry was relieved that his own head of house wasn’t among them. His disappointment seemed reserved for the headmaster, as well it should be.
Hogwarts Headmaster’s office
Dumbledore dropped into his chair. It had been a trying morning as he fielded questions from his staff. Most, he was happy to say, were indignant on his behalf. While they were sorry that their saviour had been abused by his muggle relatives they didn’t believe it fair to blame the headmaster. What else could he have done after all? It wasn’t safe for the Potter child to remain in their world, nor could he simply leave him in a random muggle orphanage. He could hardly believe Lily Potter would have preferred that to her sister, no matter the words within her will.
"What are we going to do Albus?" Severus asked as he stormed into the office.
"What do you propose we do my boy?" Albus calmly asked.
"Surely you aren’t going to allow them to get away with this," he sneered, waving the paper about.
"You place too much importance on such things Severus," Albus chided.
"And you don’t place enough," Severus countered.
"Perhaps," Albus conceded. "Be that as it may there is little the Ministry can do. The will did state Harry was to go to his grandfather, it did not however specify the man’s name. I will point this out along with the fact that as far as I was aware Lily Potter’s father was deceased."
"What of placing him with Petunia? Not to mention the block on his magic and the monitoring and loyalty charms."
"I had no other choice. What was I to do? The child wouldn’t have been safe in the Wizarding world, the Longbottom family was proof of that. Nor do I believe Lily would have wanted her only child placed in a muggle orphanage. As for the block, he is a powerful child the block was placed to protect his muggle family from his accidental magic. I would have removed it myself when Harry arrived at Hogwarts had it not been removed by the goblins."
Severus stared at the man, awed by his ability to phrase the charges in such a way that he once more looked like nothing more than a benevolent grandfather. "That might work but you won’t explain the monitoring and loyalty charms so easily," he challenged.
"Ah yes," Albus smiled. "I placed the monitoring charm so that I would be alerted should the child’s life be in danger. Given the abuse and neglect he suffered it is clear that the charm wasn’t broad enough in the interpretation of danger. I admit I was focused on the possibility of Death Eaters finding and attacking the child. It simply never occurred to me that Harry would be in danger from his own family." Albus paused only for a moment. "It was wrong of me to place a loyalty charm on the child but my intentions were only the best. I knew there would be those who wished to use the boy for their own political gain. It was my hope that by placing a loyalty charm keyed to me he would readily trust my opinions so that I might protect him from those who would use him."
Severus was struck silent. The man spoke in such sincere tones that even Severus, who knew the lies for what they were, was nearly convinced of Dumbledore’s good intentions. "By Merlin you may yet save yourself," he could only whisper in an awed voice.
"You forget my boy I have been at this game longer than most in the Ministry have been alive," Albus smirked. "Amelia will ask her questions and you have heard the answers. At most I will incur a fine and a small period of probation." In the coming week the headmaster would be proven to be correct.
Mount Street flat
"Do you suppose any good will come of it?" Ginger asked as he finished reading the articles aloud.
"I suspect the man has too much power to be brought very low by this," Biggles opined.
"Still I don’t imagine the Wizarding world will be very happy with him," Algy said.
"No, I shouldn’t think so," Biggles agreed. "Yet the man will enjoy enough support and popularity to retain his positions, you’ll see."
Ginger frowned. He hated to admit it but he knew Biggles was likely right. Certainly they had seen, over their long careers, many such men remain in power despite what was termed bad press. And they hadn’t had magic on their side.
"It is a good beginning old boy," Bertie put in. "Old Dumbledore may survive this tempest in a teapot but the more of his secrets that are revealed the more easily he will topple from his throne."
"You’re right Bertie," Ginger said. He was grateful for the reminder of their long-term plans. "I just can’t help wishing we could remove him from his proximity to my grandson. The man could cause our lad a great deal of trouble in the meantime."
"Don’t you worry about Harry laddie," Biggles advised. "He is powerful and intelligent, Dumbledore won’t have an easy time manipulating him. Besides he has Hermione on his side," Biggles grinned, "I nearly feel sorry for Dumbledore."
This achieved the desired effect, surprising a laugh from Ginger. There wasn’t one of them who hadn’t witnessed the mischief the two children were able to cause when they put their heads together. Biggles was right, Dumbledore didn’t stand a chance.
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Chapter 23: Chapter 23
31st October, 1991
"You can go to the feast, you needn’t keep me company," Harry calmly said. Though he tried to hide it his friends could see he didn’t want to be alone.
"I’m sure it will be very noisy in the Great Hall and you know how my parents would feel about all of the sugar," Hermione said, taking his hand as she sat beside him.
"I much prefer the traditional celebrations of Samhain," Draco said, taking a seat on Harry’s other side.
"Tell us about them," Hermione requested. She was honestly curious, the fact it would distract Harry from melancholy thoughts was an added bonus.
"I suppose it would be alright," Draco smiled. The muggleborn witch was ever curious about the Wizarding world. It was no surprise she had ended in Ravenclaw house. "There are those in our world who still celebrate the old ways, mostly purebloods. As Samhain is the beginning of the new year according to the old ways it is a time of giving thanks to the Gods and Goddesses as well as preparing for the coming year. Most importantly it is at this time the veil between the worlds of the living and dead is thinnest."
"But the Wizarding world is full of ghosts year-round," Hermione pointed out.
"Yes," Draco agreed, "however, most choose to travel on. On the eve of Samhain these spirits are more likely to be seen by those of this plane. My father says it’s also on Samhain Eve that those spirits who remained tied to this plane are better able to affect the physical plane."
"You mean if the Bloody Baron for instance wished to attack a living being he would have an easier time doing so today?" Hermione asked.
"I believe so," Draco replied. "Alright Harry?" The silence of the other boy hadn’t escaped his notice.
Harry nodded. "What do you do during a traditional celebration?"
"Well to begin with all the fires in the house are extinguished. Of course in a manor house such as the Malfoys and Potters own it is usually only the main fire that is extinguished. Those of like mind gather together at an ancient site similar to Stonehenge. A bonfire is lighted and the gathered dressing in costume dance, tell stories and place various offerings to the Gods and Goddesses within the flames. Cakes and ale are shared as well. Finally at the evening’s end as the clock strikes midnight the wives of each family retrieve still hot embers from the now extinguished bonfire. The witches then apparate home with the embers, relighting the household fire completing the circle for another year."
"That seems much more meaningful than muggle celebrations," Hermione commented.
"Yes it..." Here Harry broke off as his attention was taken by an unusual sight near one of the side entrances to Hogwarts. "Is that Professor Quirrell?"
The others looked in the direction indicated, quickly confirming the wizard’s identity. "By Merlin that’s a troll!" Draco exclaimed.
"What?" Hermione cried. "Why would a professor bring something so dangerous into a school?"
"Why indeed?" Harry asked, giving Hermione a significant look.
"Do you think he’s after it?" Hermione asked, catching on quickly.
"What are you two talking about?" Draco demanded. He hated feeling left out of things.
"The third floor corridor," Harry replied.
Draco gave his friends a confused look. "Are you saying there is something hidden there?"
"Yes, hadn’t you realized?" Hermione replied.
"Honestly I hadn’t given it much thought," Draco admitted. "I simply supposed there was some sort of structural damage. After all Hogwarts is a thousand years old."
"That is a reasonable assumption," Hermione had to agree. "I suppose this means there is hope for the Wizarding world," she commented to Harry.
Harry grinned. "Must be if Draco can apply logic," he teased.
"Very funny," Draco dryly responded to the teasing. Truthfully he was relieved to see his friend joking a bit. His earlier pensive mood had been a bit uncomfortable, though he would readily admit the other boy had reason. "Should we alert the teachers?"
"No need," Harry said, nodding towards a window where Professor Snape stood looking at the troll. "He must be going to tell the headmaster now," he continued as the man turned from the window.
"I suppose we should remain outside?" Hermione asked.
"It would probably be safest," Harry answered.
"Besides the headmaster will likely lock the school down until they find the troll rather than risk anything else gaining access," Draco added.
Hogwarts Great Hall
When Severus arrived at the feast he gave the headmaster a significant look. This look was quickly returned with a nod of the elderly wizard’s head, acknowledging the silent message. Glancing upon the assembled students Dumbledore frowned at the absence of Harry Potter and his friends. Turning towards Filius he was about to make enquiries when the doors to the Great Hall flew open with a bang.
"Ttroll in the ddungeons, thought you should know," Professor Quirrell stuttered before falling to the floor in a seeming faint.
A troll? Well he hadn’t expected the man to use something quite so dangerous as a distraction, but it couldn’t be helped now. Standing the headmaster fired off a noisemaker in order to gain the attention of the rapidly panicking students. "Prefects please escort your houses to the dormitories, teachers with me." Nobody seemed to notice that the Slytherins were being ordered towards the very area in which the troll was currently located.
Out by the lake Harry and the others watched students on the stairs. They couldn’t see much through the windows from their vantage point but it was enough to tell them their friends and classmates were being evacuated to safety. They remained where they were for some time, waiting for some sign that it was safe to return to the castle.
Hermione nearly screamed when Hagrid appeared, walking towards his cabin. For a moment she had thought it was the troll escaping from the castle.
"’arry, ‘ermione, Draco, what are you three doin’ out here?" Hagrid rumbled when he caught sight of them.
"We didn’t feel like going to the feast," Harry replied with a shrug. "Was the troll caught?"
"How’d you know about the troll?"
"We saw Professor Quirrell letting it in."
"Ya must’ve been mistaken ‘arry," Hagrid protested. "Why would a professor let something so dangerous into the school?"
"I don’t know why Hagrid, but I know what I saw," Harry firmly replied. "We all did," he added.
"You should tell Professor Dumbledore," was Hagrid’s opinion.
"Didn’t Professor Snape?" Hermione asked.
"What do ya mean?"
"He saw the troll. He watched from the window and then he turned away. We thought he must be going to tell the headmaster."
Hagrid frowned. "We didn’t know anything about a troll until Professor Quirrell came into hall to tell us. There now, ya see ya must’ve been wrong. Why would the professor warn everybody if’n he was the one what let the troll in?"
Draco opened his mouth to argue but he shut it promptly when he received an elbow to the ribs from Hermione.
"I suppose you’re right Hagrid," Harry agreed. "It must have been the light playing tricks."
"Yeah, that must be it. You lot best be getting up to the castle now," the half-giant advised.
Agreeing the three children hurried inside. They were nearly to their common room when they were intercepted by Professors Snape and McGonagall.
"Potter, what are you doing out of your common room? Thought you’d play the hero perhaps," Snape sneered.
"I didn’t want to attend the feast, Hermione and Draco decided to keep me company. We were out by the lake."
For a moment, before he successfully hid it, a hint of fear could be seen in the dark eyes of the Slytherin head. "Of course you weren’t, that will be fifty points each for being out of bounds and lying to a Professor."
"Professor McGonagall we’re not lying nor were we told that it was forbidden to skip the feast," Harry said, turning to the deputy head.
"Perhaps you could explain why you didn’t wish to attend the feast Mr. Potter," Minerva invited.
"It is the night my parents were murdered, I don’t particularly care for the idea of celebrating their loss," Harry patiently explained.
"Nonsense, you can’t possibly remember them," Snape scoffed.
"Not that it is any of your concern Professor but this past summer I found their journals in my vault. This allowed me to better know them, if you see what I mean. The result is that I am now better able to fully appreciate what it is I lost on that night ten years ago."
"This may be true Mr. Potter but it doesn’t prove you were where you claim to have been," McGonagall pointed out.
"Would an oath do?" Before anybody could prevent it Harry swore on his magic that his explanation as to his whereabouts and the reasons for it were truthful. When he was then able to cast a lumos spell there was no further doubt.
"Very well Mr. Potter, I will cancel the points taken by Professor Snape. You three should return to your common room now."
"Yes ma’am, thank you." Without another word the three children made their way to the Ravenclaw common room. Their arrival was greeted with much excitement and similar questions to those asked by the Professors. An explanation was given, satisfying their classmates, after which the three retired to a comfortable corner.
"You should contact Amelia Harry," Hermione advised.
"And I will contact my father," Draco added.
"I will of course, first thing Hermione."
"I don’t think you should wait Harry, nor you Draco."
The two boys exchanged a glance before looking to the young witch for an explanation. Hermione huffed a breath. "Boys," she whispered in seeming exasperation. "You both saw, I’m sure, the look on Professor Snape’s face when he realized where we had been." Upon seeing them nod the girl continued. "Do you want to chance him doing something to prevent you telling anybody what you saw?"
The boys appeared horror struck at this idea. Both were somewhat chagrined to realize the thought hadn’t crossed their minds. "Good thing Hedwig stays in the dorm," Harry commented. "I don’t think we should chance the owlery tonight."
"No, that wouldn’t be advisable," Draco agreed. "Harry can I borrow Hedwig?"
"Of course Draco, I was just about to offer." He turned to Hermione. "You should write to your parents as well. The more people who are aware of what occurred tonight the more difficult to cover it up."
"Then you’ll be writing your grandfather?" Hermione asked.
"Of course," Harry replied. "It’s a good thing Hedwig is a strong owl, she’ll be getting quite a workout tonight," he grinned.
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Chapter 24: Chapter 24
1st November, 1991
Mount Street Flat
Ginger nearly choked on his tea as he read the letter Hedwig had just delivered. A few hard slaps from Bertie soon had him sorted.
"Alright laddie?" Biggles asked now that Ginger was no longer attempting to inhale his drink.
"Not even close," Ginger growled, his eyes once more moving over the parchment.
"Has our lad been harmed?" Algy asked in some concern.
Ginger shook his head. "No, nobody has been hurt...yet."
The other three men exchanged a glance. "Are you going to jolly well tell us then laddie?" Bertie impatiently broke the silence.
"Sorry," Ginger apologized. In a few short sentences he had explained the events of Halloween to the others.
"Contact Amelia," Biggles advised. "She is best placed to handle the situation."
Ginger nodded. Standing up he moved towards the front parlour, closely followed by the others. As he entered the room the flames in the fireplace turned green.
"Hello everybody," Amelia greeted the group with a grim look. "May I step through?"
"Please," Ginger invited.
"By your looks I take it you’ve heard from Harry?"
Amelia confirmed she had. The ringing of the telephone interrupted them before more could be said.
"Bigglesworth here," Biggles said into the receiver. "Yes he did...Amelia’s here now...see you soon then. Goodbye." He hung up and turned to the others. "That was Dan, he and Emma received a missive from Hermione. They’ll be joining us soon."
"Would you care for some tea while we wait Amelia?" Algy asked. Receiving an affirmative reply Algy retired to the kitchen. He soon returned with a tray laden with enough tea for all. Nothing much was said as they waited for the Grangers to join them. Fortunately for the sake of the group they were soon greeting Dan and Emma as Mrs. Tolliver showed them into the parlour.
"What are you going to do about this Amelia?" Dan demanded as he entered the room.
"Dan," Emma laid a hand on her husband’s arm. "It isn’t Amelia’s fault this happened."
Dan had the good grace to look ashamed. "You’re right of course. Sorry Amelia."
Amelia quickly waved off the apology. "I quite understand Dan. I will be going to the school this afternoon with a couple of Aurors. I won’t lie to any of you," she continued, glancing around the room. "Dumbledore will likely avoid any real punishment over this incident. He’s a very wily man but I won’t allow this to be swept under the rug that you can be sure of."
"What do you expect to happen?" Biggles asked.
"It will depend upon what I find. Quirrell is the defence professor he may well have been bringing the troll in for a demonstration." As the room erupted with noise she fired off a noise-maker to gain attention. "I don’t say it was a good idea if that is the case. I only wished to point out the possibility."
"Will you be able to bring charges against those responsible?" Ginger asked. Honestly he didn’t care what explanations were given. The fact was a professor had brought a troll into a school filled with innocent children and another professor had failed to sound the alert. Neither action could be excused as far as he was concerned.
"As I said before it will depend on my findings. I’m sorry I can’t give you any further assurances." It was easy to see the witch was sincere in her regret.
"No need for that Amelia," Ginger said. "I’ve worked enough cases with Biggles and the others I should know better than to ask for assurances. Thank you for coming to see us before you go to Hogwarts." The others quickly echoed Ginger’s words.
1st November, 1991
Hogwarts Headmaster’s Office
"Amelia, this is a surprise," Dumbledore greeted the younger witch with a smile. An observer might have noticed the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. "I do hope nothing is wrong." He had shut the owlery down last evening following the incident with the troll and so he knew the visit could have nothing to do with that.
"That is yet to be determined," Amelia replied. "I am here to investigate reports of a troll being brought into the school last evening, endangering the children." She quickly hid her smirk at the shocked expression on the aged Headmaster’s face.
"That is an internal matter Amelia. It has been handled and nobody was harmed in the process," he assured her.
"I’m sorry Albus but an official report has been made, I will have to investigate. To that end I will need to interview the professors. My Auror’s will interview any children who can provide evidence."
"Surely it isn’t necessary to disrupt classes or to upset the children," Albus stalled. His mind was in a whirl as he tried to think of a way to avoid the interviews. Any chance of defusing the situation flew out the window as his door opened once more, admitting Lucius Malfoy.
"Good afternoon Madame Bones, may I assume we are here on the same errand?" the elder Malfoy greeted.
"If you refer to the troll..."
"Than yes Lord Malfoy we are on the same errand," Amelia confirmed.
"Will you have need of the Headmaster?"
"Not for a while. May I ask why?"
"He is needed at an emergency meeting of the Board of Governors," Lucius replied.
Albus tried to swallow in a too dry throat. Malfoy had been trying for years to see him dismissed. Undoubtedly he would see himself installed as Headmaster should he succeed. Albus couldn’t allow that to happen, for the greater good of the Wizarding world he himself must remain at Hogwarts. "Surely that isn’t necessary Lucius," Albus said.
"I and the rest of the board disagree Headmaster," Lucius sneered. "I have been dispatched to escort you to the meeting." They had opted against sending the man a letter. The idea had been Lucius’ as he didn’t want to give the man a chance to prepare.
"Professor Snape," Amelia greeted the surly man as he entered the room.
Severus bit back the sneer he wished to offer. "Madame Bones," he intoned, giving a short bow of his head. "I was told you wished to see me."
"Yes," Amelia confirmed. "I am investigating reports of an incident which occurred here last evening."
Potter, Severus silently growled. He would see the brat regretted his actions. He had no fear of punishment, Albus would protect him. "Incident? You must mean the troll which gained entry to the school."
"I have been told Professor that you witnessed the troll being brought into the school by Professor Quirrell."
"I did," Severus confirmed. He could see he had surprised the woman; good.
"Then perhaps you could explain why you didn’t see fit to report this to the Headmaster?" Amelia demanded. She only barely managed to keep her tone professional. The thought of this odious man near the children she cared for, never mind all the other children, nearly had her reaching for her wand.
"I had thought Professor Quirrell had obtained the troll as a demonstration for his NEWT classes. Frankly I didn’t realize until Quirrell alerted the entire hall that the troll was real. I had no idea the man would be foolish enough to bring an actual mountain troll into a school."
"I see," Amelia quickly jotted the information down. Inside she was seething. She didn’t believe him for a moment but she couldn’t prove anything at this juncture. "Thank you Professor Snape, you may go."
Short interviews with McGonagall and Flitwick followed. It was clear neither Professor had been aware that Quirrell had brought the troll into the school. McGonagall did admit having been informed the evening before but the accusation had been quickly withdrawn.
Hogwarts Board Room
"Headmaster Dumbledore could you explain to the board how a fully grown mountain troll came to be inside Hogwarts last evening?" Lucius coldly asked.
"I’m not certain how the troll made it inside the castle. I knew nothing of it until Professor Quirrell sounded the alarm. I immediately took action to safeguard the children while I and the other professors searched for the troll."
Several board members nodded while making sounds of approval. Lucius frowned. "Really? So the troll had nothing to do with whatever you have hidden on the third floor?"
"How did you..." Albus trailed off but the damage had been done.
"What is he talking about Albus?" one of the board members asked.
"It’s nothing really Roderick," Albus assured in his best grandfatherly tone.
"If it’s nothing I’m sure you won’t mind telling us what you’ve hidden," Augusta Longbottom suggested.
"Just a small item belonging to a friend," Albus demurred.
"Headmaster Dumbledore I demand you tell us what this item is?" Augusta snapped. Such a demand, coming from a sitting Governor, would give the elderly headmaster no room to manoeuvre. The oaths he had taken upon becoming headmaster would see to that.
"Very well Madame Longbottom. I have hidden the Philosopher’s Stone in the third floor corridor."
The room erupted with angry voices demanding an explanation. Roderick, as head of the board, banged his gavel stopping only when silence once more reigned. "Headmaster explain to us why you would hide such a dangerous artefact within a school filled with children?"
"It is my belief that Voldemort didn’t perish those many years ago," Dumbledore explained with a sigh. "As he could use the stone to resurrect himself, simultaneously gaining immortality, I thought it best to protect the stone within the walls of Hogwarts."
"Was the troll connected to the stone?" Lucius asked.
"Yes, though I wasn’t aware Professor Quirrell would use a troll. We had discussed a boggart as a viable defence." It was true as far as it went. They had discussed it but no decision had been reached.
"I believe we can all agree the stone must be removed from Hogwarts immediately," Roderick said. Glancing around the room he saw the other members nodding in agreement. A formal vote was soon taken making the decision official. "As to the Headmaster I don’t believe it would be in the best interest of the children to sack him."
"Surely a man who exhibits such poor judgement can’t be allowed to continue as Headmaster," Lucius protested.
"Lord Malfoy makes an excellent point," another member said. "How do we know he won’t make a similar mistake in future?"
"I assure you, ladies and gentlemen of the board, I have learned my lesson," Albus spoke with a regretful sigh.
"I move to dismiss Headmaster Dumbledore from his position," Lucius said. The motion was soon seconded and Albus was asked to leave the room. Despite the best efforts of the elder Malfoy the board refused to sack the Headmaster. They did, however, much to Dumbledore’s chagrin, agree to place him on probation.
"Madame Bones," Kingsley stuck his head into the room.
Stepping into the room he crossed the floor. In quiet tones he informed her of the results of his interviews with the children.
"Thank you Kingsley. Could you bring Lord Potter to me? I would like to speak to him myself after I interview Professor Quirrell."
"Yes ma’am," Kingsley acknowledged the order with a short bow. As he left the room Professor Quirrell stepped into the classroom.
"Professor Quirrell," Amelia greeted. "Please have a seat."
"Thank you," Quirrell stuttered.
"I understand you brought a troll into the school last evening."
"No, no, I only warned the Headmaster," he stuttered, clearly shocked by the accusation.
"Come now Professor," Amelia chided. "There are witnesses."
Quirrell hung his head. "It was for my NEWT classes," came the stuttering explanation.
"So it had nothing to do with the stone Headmaster Dumbledore is hiding?"
The interview was interrupted as Kingsley once more entered the room. Whispering to his boss the results of the board meeting he stepped back when finished but remained in the room.
"It might interest you to know Professor Quirrell that the stone will be removed immediately by order of the Board of Governors," Amelia informed him. "I ask you once more..."
The door opened once more, admitting Harry to the room. "You wanted to see me Madame Bones," he said. "Oh I’m sorry I didn’t know you were busy," he apologized. Before he could retreat Quirrell jumped to his feet.
Voldemort couldn’t believe his plans were coming apart so thoroughly. Some of his anger spilled over to the wizard he currently possessed. Perhaps it was this anger that caused Quirrell to act so recklessly. At any rate he saw an opportunity to gain the stone as well as revenge and he seized upon it. Moving quickly he positioned himself behind the Potter brat, his wand at the ready. When he spoke there was no trace of his stutter. "Bring me the stone or I will kill the boy," he ordered the two before him. Bringing a hand down upon the child’s shoulder he recoiled with a cry of pain as his hand brushed against the boy’s neck. Stumbling backwards he slammed against the wall, dislodging the turban he habitually wore, exposing the Dark Lord to view. "What trickery is this?" he demanded as he stared at his hand.
"He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," Kingsley whispered, horror-struck.
Hearing this Harry realized the meaning of the face riding on the back of Quirrell’s head. Enraged at the presence of the being responsible for murdering his parents he rushed forward intent on inflicting as much pain as he could. His fist connected with Quirrell’s face, but when he tried to pull it back it was as if it were glued in place. Harry watched in horror as the wizard before him began to burn, his skin quickly being consumed with the result that he crumbled to dust before their eyes.
"What have you done?" the spirit of Voldemort screamed. Infuriated he rushed towards the boy, moving through him as if he wasn’t there.
That was the last thing Harry remembered as he fell to the floor in a dead faint.
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Chapter 25: Chapter 25
1st November, 1991
Mount Street Flat
The fire flared green, startling those in the room. "May I come through?" Amelia asked. Permission granted she quickly stepped into the parlour.
"Have you finished your investigation so soon?" Biggles asked.
"What did you find out?" Dan asked at nearly the same moment. He and Emma had opted to remain at the Mount Street flat while they all waited to hear from Amelia.
Amelia answered neither question as she turned her attention to Ginger. "Ginger to begin with Harry is going to be fine."
Ginger paled, "What happened?" he asked in a strained voice.
In a few sentences and being sure not to leave anything out Amelia explained what had occurred at Hogwarts. "Madame Pomfrey, the school medi-witch, assured me that Harry will be fine. He is currently suffering from a mild case of magical exhaustion."
Familiar with the condition Ginger knew the medi-witch was right. Nevertheless he needed to see his grandson. "I want to see him."
"Of course," Amelia nodded. "I can take you to Hogwarts myself."
Ginger turned to Biggles. "Would you come along?" Perhaps it wasn’t strictly necessary but Ginger knew he would feel better with his friend’s company as he entered the enemy’s lair, as it were. Aside from that Biggles had always been a very observant man, often catching things others had overlooked. It was quite possible he would see something important or at least helpful.
"You needn’t ask," Biggles said, coming to his feet.
Amelia frowned. "I’m not sure this will be allowed."
"Why shouldn’t it be?" Ginger asked.
"Dumbledore can’t truly object to your presence, you are Harry’s grandfather after all. He may well object to Biggles however and I’m afraid the school by-laws would favour him."
"Well then we’ll just have to convince him, if he objects," Biggles stated. "You still have the list of other magical schools?" he asked Ginger.
Ginger confirmed he did.
"You intend to threaten taking Harry out of Hogwarts?" Amelia gasped.
"No, I will simply point out, if necessary, that Hogwarts isn’t the only magical school in existence," Biggles replied.
"I will be the one to threaten to remove Harry from Hogwarts," Ginger smirked.
Amelia knew these men well enough to know she wouldn’t be able to deter them from their course once they set it. "We’ll floo directly to the hospital wing," she told them. Throwing some floo powder into the flames she stepped in clearly announcing her destination. She was followed in quick succession by Ginger and Biggles.
"Madame Bones who are these men?" Poppy Pomfrey demanded. She had known the witch intended to inform Harry’s grandfather of his condition. She hadn’t expected her to return with two men.
"Madame Pomfrey this is Ginger Hebblethwaite, Harry’s grandfather," Amelia introduced. "And this is James Bigglesworth, a close family friend."
"How is my grandson?" Ginger asked, foregoing the usual pleasantries.
Poppy’s demeanour softened instantly. It was easy to see the man cared deeply for his grandchild. "He’s sleeping at the moment, I don’t expect him to wake before morning. He will be fine I assure you, he is simply exhausted after his encounter with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
"You mean Voldemort?" Biggles asked, frowning when the woman flinched. Really such fear over a name; while understandable in children it was most unbecoming for an adult to react with such obvious discomfort. "It is his name," he pointed out.
"Yes, yes of course," Poppy mumbled.
"I’d like to see Harry now," Ginger interrupted.
"I’ve placed him in one of the private rooms," Poppy said as she led them from her office.
"You children should be in class," Poppy admonished the two children sitting next to Harry’s bed.
"We have a free period Madame Pomfrey," Draco informed the medi-witch.
"Be that as it may Mr. Malfoy you shouldn’t be here, either of you. Mr. Potter needs his rest."
At that moment Hermione spotted Ginger and Biggles coming into the room. Rushing forward she wrapped her arms around Ginger and began to cry.
Scooping the child up Ginger took a seat next to the bed, settling the crying girl in his lap. "Shh Hermione, everything is going to be alright," he soothed.
"But Harry isn’t waking up," she protested.
Biggles shared a disapproving look with Ginger. "Didn’t anybody tell you anything of Harry’s condition?"
"We didn’t think it necessary to worry the children Mr., I’m sorry I don’t know your name," a new voice sounded from the doorway.
Biggles turned. He recognized the man instantly, having seen his face in several of Harry’s books. "Bigglesworth," he supplied. "How do you conclude that withholding information about Harry’s condition will prevent worry in his friends?"
"It is school policy Mr. Bigglesworth. I’m afraid you wouldn’t understand, not being part of the magical world," Dumbledore replied in a tone that was just shy of condescending. "Frankly I am surprised to find you here. Mr. Hebblethwaite of course has every right to be here but as you have no relative within these hallowed halls I don’t believe your presence should be permitted."
"Hermione," Ginger said, "Harry is going to be fine. He is only magically exhausted and needs to sleep."
"You mean like that other time?" Hermione asked.
"Yes child that is exactly what I mean."
This gained Dumbledore’s attention. Forgetting about his conversation with Bigglesworth he turned his attention to Harry’s grandfather. "This has happened before?" Here could be the leverage he needed to remove Harry from the man’s care. If he could prove the grandfather wasn’t adequately protecting the child from injury CPS would surely place him elsewhere. He was sure the Weasley’s or another light family would be willing to care for the child.
"I don’t believe that is any of your concern Headmaster Dumbledore," Biggles coldly stated.
Dumbledore frowned. "I must insist Mr. Bigglesworth that you refrain from interfering in matters which you do not understand nor do they concern you."
"The headmaster is right," Poppy interrupted. "If you continue to interfere in matters that don’t concern you I will bar you from the hospital wing."
Ginger stood and transferred Hermione to the chair he had occupied. "Headmaster, Madame Pomfrey, I’m afraid I must insist on Biggles remaining. Furthermore as a close friend and a near uncle to my lad he has every right to interfere as you put it."
"Nevertheless you are both here upon my forbearance." Dumbledore pointed out. It was time these squibs were taught their proper place in the Wizarding world.
"Are you saying that Ginger shouldn’t be allowed to see his grandson, even when the child is injured, unless you allow it?" Biggles asked.
"That is precisely what I am saying Mr. Bigglesworth. The by-laws of Hogwarts are quite clear, only magicals may enter herein. None other may enter the grounds except the headmaster grant his permission."
"And squibs don’t count as magicals of course," Biggles stated.
"Ah, you understand your position then," Dumbledore smiled.
"Madame Bones could you arrange for Harry and Hermione’s things to be returned home?" Ginger asked.
"Dan and Emma told us this past summer that if Harry ever changed schools they would want Hermione to accompany him."
"You can’t do this," Dumbledore interjected.
"I am Harry’s grandfather and in this instance stand as proxy for Hermione’s parents," Ginger firmly stated, "you will find Headmaster that I can certainly remove both children from the dubious care you provide."
"I’m afraid I can’t allow that," Dumbledore sadly said. Raising his wand he prepared to cast a wide-spread obliviate. Before a single sound escaped his lips the elderly headmaster found his wand snatched from his hand.
Biggles handed the wand to Amelia and turned cold eyes upon the aging headmaster. "I’ve seen your type before Dumbledore and you all, magical or not, have one thing in common."
"How dare you?"
"Your problem Dumbledore is you’ve had your own way too long. You’ve forgotten what it is to face opposition from any but so-called dark wizards. What spell were you about to cast?" Biggles demanded.
"I would like to hear that answer myself," Amelia put in.
Dumbledore sighed, he knew when he should retreat. "I was simply going to seal the room."
"To what end?" Biggles asked.
"Only so that I might have a chance to speak further with Mr. Hebblethwaite. Hogwarts is the premier school in Europe, I should hate for the children’s education to suffer simply because we got off on the wrong foot," Dumbledore explained in his best grandfatherly tones.
Ginger shook his head. "You believe keeping us captive would be the way to change my mind?"
Hermione leaned over towards Draco. "You see, most wizards have no logic," she whispered knowingly.
Draco nodded. He had noticed it himself. There were a few wizards who were quite good at wielding logic but most seemed to be lacking in that department.
"I would have released you once you had heard me out," Dumbledore insisted.
"Amelia," Ginger turned to the head of the DMLE, "I wish to file a formal complaint."
"Mr. Hebblethwaite I assure you that is unnecessary," Dumbledore tried to placate the man. He couldn’t afford another complaint coming so soon on the heels of the last.
"I’m sorry Headmaster but your assurances aren’t worth much with me."
Dumbledore swallowed. "Are you familiar with magical oaths Mr. Hebblethwaite?"
"If I swore a magically binding oath would you consent to allowing the children to continue at Hogwarts?" He hated to offer an oath but he couldn’t allow Harry Potter to attend any other school. What if they sent him to Durmstrang? It would be a disaster.
"What would this oath entail?" Biggles asked. He hid his amusement as the elderly wizard visibly bristled at his interference.
"I would swear upon my magic that I would not interfere with either of you visiting Hogwarts when necessary." He would of course be the one to determine what qualified as necessary.
"Include my other friends and Hermione’s parents in that and you have..." Ginger was about to agree when Biggles interrupted.
"One thing laddie."
"Part of the oath should state that you decide when a visit is necessary."
"An excellent idea, thank you," Ginger smiled. "Well Headmaster?"
Dumbledore sighed. He would have to swear the oath or risk them removing the children. He couldn’t care less about the Granger girl but Harry had to remain at Hogwarts. With that in mind he reluctantly swore the magically binding oath, after Amelia returned his wand. "If you’ll excuse me," he said. Moving quickly he made his retreat complete, leaving laughter in his wake.
"Harry will be quite put out," Hermione said as the laughter died down.
"Why is that?" Draco asked.
"He missed the meeting between the headmaster and Biggles," Hermione grinned.
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Chapter 26: Chapter 26
22nd December, 1991
Hermione was proven right when Harry woke later that same day. He had been quite put out at missing the meeting. Amelia had at that point introduced them to the idea of a pensive, promising to show Harry a memory of the event during the holidays. It would prove to be an amusing event which Harry quite enjoyed.
The rest of the term passed without incident and soon Christmas break was upon them. Only a few children had opted to remain in the castle over the holiday, Harry and Hermione were not among them.
"You will be coming to our New Year’s celebration won’t you?" Neville asked Harry and Hermione as they settled into a compartment on the Hogwarts Express.
"Grandfather sent his permission yesterday," Harry confirmed.
With a smile Hermione confirmed her attendance. "We both sent an RSVP to your grandmother this morning."
"Hedwig can deliver them and meet us in London," Harry said. "It will save her making the trip in her cage." He turned to Draco. "Will you be attending?"
"I doubt it. Mother usually hosts a celebration at the manor."
"We’ll miss having you Draco," Neville said. He had come a long way since the beginning of the year. Though still quiet he was less fearful and shy than he had been. Perhaps this was down to being sorted into a house filled with loyal friends, perhaps it was due to his friendship with Harry Potter. Neville himself couldn’t say. Though he had been surprised to be included in Harry’s circle what had truly shocked him was his developing friendship with Draco Malfoy. Who would have ever believed a Longbottom and a Malfoy could be friends?
"And I shall regret not welcoming the new year with my friends," Draco sincerely returned.
The rest of the trip was spent playing games and discussing holiday plans. All too soon for the group of friends the train was pulling into the station. Saying their good-byes the children separated with Harry and Hermione making their way towards the barrier leading to the muggle world.
"Do you see them Harry?" Hermione asked.
Harry scanned the crowd searching for their families. "There they are," he said as he spotted them standing in an out of the way spot. Taking Hermione’s hand in his he led the way towards the adults. Happily the adults exchanged hugs with the children.
"I missed you Grandfather, all of you," Harry quickly added. He didn’t want the others to feel as if they mattered any less. In Harry’s eyes there was more to a family than blood relation and the other men were as much his family as his grandfather.
Ginger hugged him tightly. "We missed you too lad. The flat has been too quiet these past months."
"Does that mean I can run wild through the flat?" Harry mischievously asked.
Ginger chuckled. "I think you’d best save running wild for the park."
"Have you got all your things?" Biggles asked.
"Yes sir," Harry replied.
"Let’s get home then."
"Dinner will be at one o’clock," Emma reminded them. As they had for the past several years the occupants of Mount Street would take their Christmas dinner with the Grangers. This allowed them to enjoy a proper Christmas feast while still giving Mrs. Tolliver the day off.
"We shall be there dear lady, no fear," Bertie replied for them all.
Christmas Day, 1991
Mount Street Flat
Though he had woke quite early Harry wasn’t the first into the parlour. He wondered sometimes if the men slept here on Christmas Eve, they always made it to the room before him.
"Happy Christmas Harry," the men spoke almost as one.
"Happy Christmas," Harry replied with a wide grin.
"Ready to see what Father Christmas brought laddie?" Biggles asked.
That was all the invitation needed for Harry to fall to his knees next to the tree. Presents were soon distributed until each member of the family possessed a respectable pile. Moving around the circle they took it in turns opening presents. There were many exclamations of pleasure as the gifts were revealed. Harry, as was proper, received the lions share.
"I wonder who this is from," Harry murmured as he reached for the final present. He held it up for the men to inspect but none recognized the wrapping. "Do you think I should open it?" Harry asked his grandfather.
"It should be safe. The wards wouldn’t allow anything harmful to enter the flat," Ginger reminded the boy.
With a nod Harry removed the card and read: Harry, your father left this with me. I believe it is time it was returned, use it well. That was all.
"That’s strange." Carefully removing the paper he found a silvery material that glided through his fingers like water. "I wonder what it is?" he asked as he stood up. A shawl perhaps he thought. Wrapping it around himself he jumped when his grandfather yelled his name, causing him to drop the material to the floor.
"What is it Grandfather?" Harry asked in a frightened voice.
"Harry come here lad," Ginger motioned the boy to his side. "Bertie would you floo Amelia?"
"What’s wrong?" Harry asked. He was becoming more worried by the second. Whatever was wrong was connected to the silvery material, of that he was certain.
"When you wrapped that material around you we could no longer see you," Ginger explained, holding the boy close. It had nearly frightened the life out of him when his grandson had disappeared from sight. He had thought for a moment that the gift had been a means of kidnapping the child.
Amelia stepped from the flames, a concerned look on her face. She had been surprised when Bertie asked her to step through. The fact that the men had never bothered her during a holiday before was enough to tell Amelia that whatever the problem it must be important. "What’s happened?" she asked the moment she entered the room.
"Harry received an anonymous gift," Ginger replied. He went on to explain everything that had occurred finally pointing her to the material next to which lay the gift card.
Amelia kneeled next to the material. Scanning it for any spells she found nothing. Satisfied it was safe she lifted the material, examining it closely. She couldn’t contain her gasp of surprise.
"What?" Algy asked.
"This, gentlemen, is an invisibility cloak," she replied. "It’s quite rare and I’ve never heard of one being passed from father to son. They don’t usually last long enough," she explained. "This is the card that came with it?" she asked as she retrieved the card.
"Yes," Harry confirmed.
Amelia read it over with a frown. "I recognize this handwriting, it’s Dumbledore’s."
"Dumbledore? But why would he have my father’s invisibility cloak?"
"I don’t know Harry. You might want to ask the goblins to audit your accounts. If he had this he might have other things that rightfully belong to you," Amelia advised as she laid the cloak in the boy’s arms.
"We’ll see to it tomorrow Amelia," Ginger said.
"I can keep the cloak then?" Harry asked as he reverently examined the cloth.
"Of course Harry, lad," Ginger answered. "But no using it to get into mischief," he warned. Remembering himself at the same age he could imagine the sort of things he might have done with an invisibility cloak to hand.
Stating she needed to return to her niece, Amelia said her goodbyes leaving the family alone once more. Later Harry would tell Hermione about the cloak. She was nearly as excited as he had been upon learning of it.
The remainder of the holiday passed without incident. Ginger and Harry visited Gringotts of course, with the result that the goblins began an intense audit of the Potter accounts. The day before they were to return to Hogwarts Harry received a letter from Gringotts with the result; the audit had found nothing amiss with the Potter accounts. How Dumbledore had come to possess the Potter family invisibility cloak was a mystery. Perhaps it was as the old man said and Harry’s father had given it to him, though none of them could imagine why.
"You two be careful around Dumbledore," Biggles cautioned as they returned to Kings Cross.
"We will Biggles," both children promised.
Heartfelt goodbyes were exchanged accompanied by many hugs from the men and kisses from Emma. The whistle blew signalling the imminent departure. Calling final goodbyes, the children hurried onto the train.
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Chapter 27: Chapter 27
2nd August, 1992
"Are you sure about this Lucius?" Narcissa asked uncertainly. Though she had agreed to his plan, as a proper wife should, she wasn’t convinced it was the best course for them.
Lucius sighed as he placed a small black book inside his robe. "We can’t continue to follow the Dark Lord, should he return."
"I agree, but to ask the Goblins for help?" Narcissa sniffed disdainfully.
"I don’t care for the idea myself but I can’t very well go to the Ministry for help. Amelia Bones would welcome the excuse to incarcerate me in Azkaban."
"But it’s only an empty diary."
Lucius shook his head. "You know better Narcissa," he admonished. They had both examined the small book and though they didn’t know what it was there was no doubt it was dark. Honestly they had known when the Dark Lord entrusted it to Lucius that it must be dark as well as clearly being of great importance to the man.
In the years following the Dark Lord’s defeat the Malfoys had honestly rethought their beliefs. While they didn’t believe muggleborns should be granted the same rights as purebloods neither could understand how killing them would improve their world. Worse, in their eyes, the Dark Lord had taken to killing purebloods as well. Then there were the punishments meted out to his followers. Really what sort of leader tortures his followers simply for delivering unpleasant news? Clearly the man had lost his sanity. Any who continued to follow him now could only be considered mad themselves.
The fact that their son had become friends with a muggleborn girl had sealed their change of heart. They had been surprised when Draco ended in Ravenclaw where he then proceeded to become friends with the aforementioned muggleborn as well as Harry Potter. Draco insisted the Granger girl was nothing like most muggleborns. She had apparently been studying for some time with Potter before attending Hogwarts. The results of this studying were clear in the way the girl behaved and her curiosity about Wizarding life; whereas most muggleborns seemed intent on changing the world they found themselves in, she was content to learn about it. Perhaps if more would learn the ways of the Wizarding world and strive to adapt to it rather than destroying their traditions purebloods wouldn’t find them so distasteful.
"I will take Draco to the Alley for his shopping," Lucius said.
"And take that book to the Goblins while you’re there?’
"Yes," he confirmed. "I hope they can determine what it is and if not destroy it at least contain it." Leaning down he brushed a soft kiss across his wife’s lips. "Don’t worry Narcissa I will keep our family safe."
Narcissa watched him leave the room. "I hope so," she whispered.
2nd August, 1992
Striding purposefully Lucius led his son towards Gringotts. He intended to deal with the diary first, not wanting it on his person any longer than necessary. Lucius frowned as they neared Flourish and Blotts. He’d never seen such a crowd before, not even when the majority of Hogwarts students were here to purchase their books. What could be happening?
"Harry, Hermione," Draco called as he spotted his friends.
"Draco," Lucius admonished.
"Sorry Father," the boy apologized. He knew better than to yell in the alley like a common wizard.
"Hello Draco, Lord Malfoy," Harry greeted the two. Though he had been introduced to the older man before neither Hermione or Harry’s grandfather had met the man. In short order Harry made the introductions.
"Would you care to accompany us?" Harry asked his friend.
Draco looked up at Lucius. "May I Father?"
"I do have to visit the bank," Lucius considered the proposal. It would simplify his errand. He hadn’t, after all, wanted Draco to become aware of the diary. "If Harry’s grandfather doesn’t mind I suppose it would be alright."
"It’s quite alright Lord Malfoy," Ginger quickly confirmed. He had heard all about Draco from Harry and Hermione; he had found nothing objectionable in the lad.
"Very well," Lucius gave permission. "Meet me at the bank in an hour."
"Yes sir," Draco said.
Lucius smiled as he watched his son disappear into the crowd with his friends. Turning away he once more set out for the bank. He had only taken a few steps when he was brought up short by the sound of a detestable voice.
"It’s terrible the way some parents use their children. But then what could you expect from a Death Eater?"
Lucius turned to face the patriarch of the Weasley family. "Would you care to repeat that Weasley?" he sneered.
"You don’t frighten me Malfoy."
"The more fool you," Lucius snarked.
"Fool am I?" Arthur bristled. "At least I don’t use my children to bolster my reputation."
"Everybody knows what you’re doing Lucius. You don’t fool anybody."
Lucius closed the short distance so that he towered over the shorter red haired man. "Be very careful Weasley."
"Or what? Will you prove yourself a liar who bought his way to freedom?" Arthur challenged. He knew what Malfoy was capable of but he also knew the man didn’t dare attack him lest others realize his denouncing of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was only a ploy. "It’s shameful really. Buying your way to freedom, falsely claiming to be imperioused and now you have your son forging a friendship with Harry Potter. Will you betray the child as your cousin-in-law did the parents?"
Lucius bristled; he wanted nothing more than to curse this fool. He could not, however, not if he was to keep suspicion from his person. With an incoherent snarl he moved to shoulder past the shorter wizard. A fist caught him on the chin, knocking him to the ground. Before he quite knew what was happening Arthur Weasley was atop him and the fight was on. It was a short-lived fight, neither wizard use to physical altercations; both were soon too winded to continue.
Pushing himself to his feet Lucius drew his wand, quickly cleaning his robes. Glancing about he noticed several used books laying on the ground, the Weasley children busily gathering them up. "Perhaps you should concern yourself with increasing your income rather than my son’s friendships," he sneered. Without another word he moved off towards the bank. It wasn’t until he stepped inside that he realized the diary was missing. Merlin! He must have dropped it during the altercation with Weasley and one of his children had picked it up.
Turning on his heel Malfoy hurried back into the Alley. He searched up and down the length of it but with no luck. The Weasley’s must have already returned to their home. What was he going to do now? He ran a shaking hand through his hair, Merlin he needed a drink!
At Flourish and Blotts Harry and his friends were pushing their way through the crowd. "I don’t remember it being this crowded last year," Harry commented.
"It wasn’t," Hermione confirmed.
"I wonder what the occasion is?" Draco mused. "That explains it," he added as he caught sight of a placard.
"Gilderoy Lockhart," Harry read. "Who is that?" Harry asked.
"A fraud and a swindler," Draco sneered. Seeing he had the attention of his friends he explained about the books Lockhart was known for.
"You don’t believe the tales?" Hermione asked.
"You wouldn’t either if you read them," Draco averred. "Many of the adventures take place at the same time. Even Merlin himself couldn’t be in two places at once."
Hermione’s scandalized expression soon turned to horror as she saw the list of books on their Hogwarts letter. "Boys did you realize all of our defence books were written by Lockhart?"
"He wouldn’t," Harry groaned.
"Wouldn’t what?" Draco asked.
"Hire Lockhart for defence," Harry replied. "Do you suppose it’s revenge over Snape?"
At the end of the last term the children had presented the evidence they had collected during the school year to the Board of Governors. With Draco’s father on the board it hadn’t been difficult to ensure the Governors received every bit of the documentation they had. To increase the likelihood that the board would listen the children had asked several students in every year and house to document Snape’s behaviour in and out of the classroom. By the time the Governors had reviewed the documentation and conducted interviews with many children as well as Snape they had been convinced of the man’s ineptitude as a teacher. He had been summarily dismissed without references. Dumbledore had not been happy.
The question was quickly answered as Lockhart spotted Harry in the crowd. Rushing forward he grabbed the child, pulling him to his side. It happened so fast nobody had a chance to stop him. Before Harry quite knew what was happening Lockhart was announcing his appointment as defence teacher at Hogwarts for the upcoming school year. "As a special treat I am presenting Mr. Potter with a complete set of my books, autographed of course," he ended his announcement as cameras flashed.
Angry and embarrassed Harry pushed away from the fawning blowhard. "Never come near me again Mr. Lockhart."
"Now Harry one must share the limelight," Gilderoy admonished. "But don’t worry I will teach you all you need to know about wielding your fame," he continued, giving the boy a bright smile. With that he handed the boy a stack of books before turning back to his adoring public.
Ginger finally made his way to his grandson’s side. He had watched the entire thing unfolding but had been unable to get close enough in time to stop the man from accosting Harry. "Alright Harry?" he asked as he joined the children.
Harry gave a short nod. "Could we come back another day to get our supplies Grandfather?"
"I think that might be a good idea lad," Ginger agreed as he took in the size of the crowd.
Harry turned to his friends. "You don’t mind do you?"
"I don’t mind. It’s too crowded today anyway," Hermione replied.
"I don’t think I’ll have any trouble convincing Father to return tomorrow," Draco said. "If he can’t I’m sure Mother can bring me."
"Let’s get out of here then," Ginger said. Leading the way he forced a path through the crowd always keeping one eye on the children.
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Chapter 28: Chapter 28
1st September, 1992
Hogwarts Great Hall
Harry watched as McGonagall led the first years into the hall for their sorting. A few were clearly members of certain families. There was a red haired girl who could only be a Weasley for instance, but most he couldn’t place with any one family. He had noticed that most in the Wizarding world had only one or at most two children; the Weasley’s being an exception. Even amongst muggleborns there rarely occurred more than two magical children within a family. He watched the sorting with some interest, giving each new Ravenclaw a welcoming smile.
"Well that is a surprise," Draco commented.
"What is?" Harry asked as he clapped for their newest house member.
"Weasley’s are always sorted into Gryffindor. Honestly I’m surprised any of them are smart enough to be chosen for our house," Draco smirked.
"Be nice Draco," Hermione admonished as the youngest Weasley reached the table. Fortunately she was seated far enough from them that she hadn’t heard Draco’s comment.
Harry chuckled. "Aren’t Malfoys always sorted into Slytherin?" he slyly asked.
"Touché," Draco bowed his head.
With the sorting ended Dumbledore stood, welcoming the students new and old and making a few announcements. "And now I would like to introduce our two newest staff members. In the post of Defence Against The Dark Arts please welcome Professor Gilderoy Lockhart." Dumbledore paused while the students applauded. "And in the post of Potions Master please welcome Professor Damocles Belby." There was another pause after which the headmaster announced the appointment of Professor Sinistra as the new head of Slytherin house. The announcements concluded Dumbledore clapped his hands twice and the feast began.
"Belby? That name sounds familiar," Hermione mused. She was sure she’d seen it in one of her books, if only she could remember. "Oh I remember," she grinned, "he’s famous as the inventor of the Wolfsbane potion."
"The Wolfsbane potion?" Harry asked.
"Really Harry, are you sure you belong in Ravenclaw?" Hermione teased. She giggled when Harry only responded by pushing his tongue out at her. "It’s a potion given to werewolves, it allows them to keep their mind during the transformation."
"Wonder why he’d take on teaching?" Harry mused.
Hermione scrunched her face in thought. It did seem strange that someone so accomplished and famous would choose to teach. But then again Snape had been the youngest potion’s master in history and Dumbledore was arguably the most famous wizard in the world. "I only hope he is better than Snape."
Harry chuckled. "I suspect anybody would be an improvement over Snape."
"Even Lockhart?" Draco smirked. He knew, as did Hermione, Harry’s views on the pompous defence teacher.
Harry shuddered. "Let me rephrase that, nearly anybody would be an improvement."
3rd September, 1992
Hogwarts Potions Classroom
"Good morning children," the professor greeted the class of second year Ravenclaws and Gryffindors.
Already Harry could see a change from Snape. Unlike the previous teacher Professor Belby was smiling and friendly.
"I am Professor Belby and I will, I’m sure, in due time learn your names as well. I must ask your forbearance in the meantime for any mistakes I might make when calling upon you. Now then we will begin the year with a test."
This announcement, as can be imagined, was greeted with loud groans of dismay. Even the Ravenclaws were unprepared for a test on the first day of class.
"Now children none of that," the professor admonished. "This test will not affect your grades in any way."
"Then why bother," Ron Weasley muttered, though not as quietly as he might have imagined.
"A good question Mr...?"
Ron swallowed, he hadn’t expected to be heard. "Um, Weasley," he finally supplied.
"Mr. Weasley," Belby nodded, making a note in his class roll. "I will not take points this time but in future please raise your hand and wait to be called upon before speaking, alright?"
Ron nodded. "Yes sir."
"Although I must remind all of you that in the event of an emergency you should of course call out immediately rather than taking the time for proper procedures," the professor told them with a smile. "Now, to answer your question, the purpose of this test is quite important. You see with this test I will have a much better idea as to what my students know about potions. I do not wish to disparage your former professor but I don’t believe his teaching methods were the best for imparting the art of potion making."
There were nods all around the room. None of the students would argue with the wisdom of that statement. Papers were distributed and soon the room was filled with the scratching of quills on parchment as the students did their best to answer the test questions.
"He’s much better than Snape," Harry commented as the three Ravenclaws left the Potions classroom.
"I think we might actually learn something this year," Hermione commented. Even she had found it difficult to learn anything in Potions the previous year. That she had done well on the end of year exams had been only due to her penchant for studying ahead. The same could be said for Harry and the two of them had brought Draco along with them.
"It was certainly better than yesterdays Defence class," Draco commented.
The day before they had endured their first class with Lockhart. He had begun the class with a small lecture and a pop quiz consisting of nothing more than questions about the pompous git. The Ravenclaw trio had great fun in finding creative answers for the questions.
The ending of the class had proven no better than the beginning as Lockhart attempted to provide a practical demonstration. Much to the chagrin of the trio the majority of the students were still in awe of the idiot. This in spite of seeing him running from the Cornish Pixies he had foolishly released on the class. Had it not been for Harry, Hermione, Draco and a couple of others the pixies would have escaped into the school. There was no calculating the amount of damage they could have caused had that occurred.
5th September, 1992
Mount Street Flat
Ginger looked up as Hedwig winged her way into the parlour. This was the first letter from Harry since the first short note on the Tuesday. Eagerly he removed the letter from the snowy owl. Content to let Bertie see to a treat for Hedwig, he opened the letter and began to read aloud.
Dear Grandfather and Co.
The school year has got off to an interesting start. As one might expect Lockhart is an atrocious teacher. We attended his class on the first day. It was a horrendous joke. I dare say more would have been learned from a secretary at the ministry than was learned from our present defence teacher. Unless one counts learning the man’s favourite colour as useful information. A short lecture or should I say brag was followed by a test. Said test consisted of nothing more than questions concerning the aforementioned teacher.
The class ended with the release of a group of Cornish Pixies that Lockhart could neither control nor defend against. Had it not been for a small number of students the pixies would surely have escaped into the school proper wreaking untold havoc.
"I dare say we can guess the names of two of the students, by jove!" Bertie grinned.
"I imagine so," Biggles concurred.
Ginger smiled proudly. Turning his attention to the letter he continued.
Potions class was, by contrast, a stellar experience. Our new professor, a man by the name of Damocles Belby, is brilliant. I mean that in every possible sense of the word. He is famous in our world as the inventor of the Wolfsbane potion which did so much to improve the lives of those afflicted with Lycanthropy. He too gave a test on the first day of classes. His test, however, was meant to gauge our knowledge of potions so that he might know where to begin.
The rest of our classes are proceeding as might be expected. None of the other professors have been replaced and are as competent as in the previous year. Professor Sinistra was appointed as the new head of Slytherin house. You will be happy to know she is much fairer concerning points. Already this week she has awarded points to houses other than Slytherin, taken a few points from her own house and most amazing of all assigned detention to a group of second year Slytherins who were accosting a first year Gryffindor. I only hope the rest of the year will live up to the promise of the beginning, excluding DADA of course.
Your affectionate grandson,
"Well it sounds as if things at the school have improved," Algy commented. "Except the defence class, as Harry says."
"Yes and I for one am quite glad to hear it," Bertie said.
"This defence teacher concerns me," Biggles put in.
Ginger nodded. "I agree. Defence is a very important skill it shouldn’t be left to an incompetent teacher."
"I wonder if there’s anything we can do?"
"I wouldn’t think so laddie," Biggles replied. "Not yet anyway."
"Why ever not?" Algy asked. "Doesn’t Ginger have as much right as any parent to complain about an incompetent teacher?"
"He does," Biggles agreed. He turned to Ginger. "But you complained last year as well laddie. With good reason of course, however, we are all aware of how the Wizarding world views squibs."
"Little better than house elves," Ginger nodded. "You think if I complain again it will be seen as unimportant or perhaps even grousing?"
"I do," Biggles answered. "I think the better course would be to advise Harry to learn as much as he can through self-study until Lockhart does something to attract the objections of a larger number of parents."
Ginger nodded. "Maybe Amelia could provide some instruction during breaks," he suggested.
"An excellent idea laddie," Biggles agreed.
"I suppose I have some letters to write then."
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Chapter 29: Chapter 29
31st October, 1992
The school year to date had gone remarkably well, not counting the DADA classes of course. Harry could hardly believe Dumbledore would hire such an incompetent teacher. Surely the man couldn’t be as foolish as Lockhart’s many admirers; he must realize the man was a fraud.
"I appreciate you two spending time with me this evening," Harry was saying as the trio of friends made their way towards Ravenclaw tower.
"You know we don’t mind Harry. It’s a pleasant change from the noise of the Great Hall," Draco said.
"And with Draco calling on his house elf to provide treats we don’t even miss out on the feast," Hermione reminded him.
Harry smiled. "He’s an odd little fellow isn’t he?" he asked, remembering the elf.
"Dobby has always been a little strange," Draco admitted. "Did you know he actually wants to be free?"
"Why shouldn’t he want to be free?" Hermione asked. "I think it’s shameful that house elves are kept as slaves. We certainly wouldn’t like it if they kept us as slaves."
Harry couldn’t argue Hermione’s point. He had first hand experience as a house elf of sorts after all.
Draco bit back the retort he wished to make, reminding himself that Hermione didn’t know about house elves. It wasn’t something that would be in any books on Wizarding culture being such an ordinary part of life it was one of those things everybody simply knew.
"It’s not slavery, not exactly," Draco said.
Hermione narrowed her eyes tamping down her natural inclination to argue. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you see house elves need to be bonded to a wizard or witch. They have magic of their own, of course, but without a bonding they grow weak, eventually losing their sanity. If that happens they are a danger to all around them, including themselves," Draco explained.
"But then why should Dobby wish to be free?"
"I don’t know, nobody does," Draco truthfully replied. "There are stories of house elves that need no bonding but those are legends."
"Perhaps it isn’t a legend after all," Harry reasonably pointed out. Suddenly he stopped, head tilted to one side as if he were listening to something.
"What is it Harry?" Hermione asked.
"A voice," Harry absently replied as he once more began to walk.
Hermione and Draco shared a concerned look. "Harry there isn’t any voice," Hermione hesitantly told him. Should she contact Ginger, she wondered?
"But I..." he trailed off as they rounded a corner and Hermione screamed.
"The Chamber is opened. Enemies of the heir beware," Draco read.
"What?" Harry asked. He had been so shocked by the scene on the floor that he hadn’t noticed anything else.
"On the wall," Draco replied pointing to where a message had been left. In front of the wall was a first year Gryffindor and Mrs. Norris, the caretaker’s cat. The boy lay in a puddle of water while the cat had been somehow attached to the wall itself. Neither was moving.
"What have you done?" a distraught voice asked causing the children to turn away from the wall.
"We just found them like this," Harry answered.
"Lies," Filch countered. "You’ve killed her," he cried. Moving to the wall he reached out to touch his cat. "Why did you have to kill her? She was a good cat, she never hurt you," Filch rounded on the trio.
"We didn’t," the children cried.
"Argus calm down," Dumbledore said as he came upon the scene; one of the portraits having alerted him to the confrontation.
"But headmaster they’ve..."
"Now Argus I’m sure the children had nothing to do with this," Dumbledore soothed. Stepping closer he carefully examined both victims. "You’ll be happy to know neither is dead, they are only petrified."
"Oh only petrified, well that’s so much better isn’t it headmaster?" Filch snapped. Petrified might as well be dead.
"Actually it is, for petrification can be cured," Albus calmly pointed out. He took no notice of the distraught man’s behaviour. "We shall transport Mrs. Norris and Mr. Creevey," for the boy was Colin Creevey known about the school for constantly trailing after Harry with a camera, "to the hospital wing. Madame Pomfrey shall, I’m sure, have them restored to themselves in good time."
"What about this Albus?" Minerva asked indicating the wall. She had arrived upon the scene while Albus was attempting to soothe Filch.
Albus frowned. "Yes it is most troublesome. We shall of course attempt to find the culprit. Begin with the portraits, one of them may have seen something."
"And what of these children?"
"Yes, yes, question them first," Albus nodded. "With any luck we shall soon find our culprit."
Minerva sighed. Albus never seemed to take anything seriously when it involved children. He seemed to forget that many of the children in their care were nearly adults and as capable as of extreme acts of violence as an adult. She sometimes wondered if children weren’t more capable of cruelty than any adult. "Very well Albus," was all she said however.
She waited for Filch and Albus to leave, taking the victims of the attack with them. Turning to the children she frowned when she spotted Malfoy. Like Albus she didn’t believe for a moment that he was a good influence on Harry Potter. "What can you children tell me about this?"
"Nothing Professor," Hermione answered for them all. "We were just on our way to Ravenclaw tower when we found Colin and Mrs. Norris."
"You saw nothing?" Minerva asked.
"No ma’am," Hermione confirmed.
"Mr. Potter? Mr. Malfoy?"
"It’s like Hermione said Professor. We were only on our way to the tower when we saw them," Harry replied. He had decided not to mention the voice he’d heard.
"Exactly, we came around the corner and there they were," Draco added.
Minerva sighed. "Very well, you may go," she dismissed them.
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Chapter 30: Chapter 30
9th November 1992
Hogwarts Great Hall
"May I have your attention please," Dumbledore called out to the students during breakfast. "Thank you. Before we partake of the wonderful breakfast provided for us I have an announcement to make. Beginning the coming Friday Hogwarts shall form a duelling club. This club is open to all students beginning from second year students. The club will be administered by Professor Lockhart. Sign up sheets, for those who wish to participate, will be made available in your common rooms. That is all."
"A duelling club with that idiot in charge?" Harry sputtered. "Are you sure the man isn’t insane Draco?"
Draco chuckled. "As I’ve said before he would like for you to believe that but I don’t think so. I take it you have no interest in the duelling club?"
"No bloody way!"
"Harry language," Hermione admonished.
"Sorry Hermione. But there is no way I would spend any more time than necessary with that man. He’s, as Bertie might say, a buffoon."
Hermione giggled. She couldn’t argue with Harry and it did sound like something Bertie would say. "What shall we do during the duelling club meetings? I would imagine most of the students will be joining."
"We could do more research on the Chamber of Secrets," Draco suggested.
"You really think that is the Chamber mentioned in the writing?" Hermione asked.
"I agree with Draco. You’ve read Hogwarts a History just as I have, do you remember anything of a closed Chamber?" Harry asked.
"Well no," Hermione chewed her lip.
"And you heard Binns in History going on about Slytherin’s Chamber of Secrets. It fits with what we know so far. At any rate it is the best lead we have," Harry pointed out.
"I suppose it is," said Hermione, conceding the point.
16th November, 1992
Mount Street Flat
Ginger once more perused the most recent letter from his grandson. Harry said there had been no further attacks yet he had heard the strange voice in the walls on more than one occasion. Reading between the lines he could see the lad was concerned for his own sanity. Truthfully Ginger was beginning to wonder himself. When he had mentioned his concern to Biggles the older man had scoffed and told him not to be foolish.
"Alright old boy?" Bertie asked as he joined Ginger in the parlour.
"Still worrying over Harry’s letter?"
"I can’t help worrying over this voice he keeps hearing. None of his friends have heard it so it isn’t a ghost or any living person."
"There you go, mustn’t be a bally person at all."
Ginger stared. "Bertie if you weren’t a man I’d kiss you."
"What did I say?"
"You said the voice must not be a person." When Bertie made no response Ginger gave an exasperated sigh. "Don’t you see Bertie, if it isn’t a person or ghost and only Harry is hearing it there is only one other explanation. That is if our lad isn’t going round the bend."
"Are you going to jolly well tell me or do I have to guess?" Bertie irritably enquired.
"A snake Bertie old boy, a snake. Harry will be quite relieved I’m sure."
"What’s this about a snake?" Biggles asked as he and Algy joined the party.
Ginger quickly explained what he had concluded, thanks to Bertie. "I think I’ll write him immediately."
"Don’t forget to remind him how the Wizarding world views parselmouths," Algy instructed.
"Right you are," Ginger nodded. Moving to the desk he withdrew parchment and pen. He and the others refused to write with quills but had soon realized the wisdom of parchment. Posting letters by way of owls naturally meant a fair amount of wind as the birds flew from one destination to another. This was something ordinary paper would never hold up to but parchment, being much thicker and sturdier, could easily withstand the stresses placed upon it.
17th November, 1992
Hogwarts Great Hall
"Hello Hedwig," Harry cheerfully greeted his owl. Removing the letter he rewarded her with a treat which she promptly carried into the rafters.
"What does your grandfather have to say?" Hermione curiously asked.
Harry read it over. "He thinks he’s figured out my problem and I must say I think he’s correct."
"What is it?"
"Faulty memory," Harry replied. A quick glance told him nobody was watching; quickly he mouthed later and slipped the letter into his robes.
Following breakfast Harry led the way from the hall. Ducking into an unused classroom he quickly explained the contents of Ginger’s letter to Hermione.
"Do you think he’s right?" Hermione asked.
"I think he might be. You must admit it makes sense." He turned as the door opened, "Draco," he smiled, relieved it was only his friend.
"What are you two doing in here?"
"We were just talking."
"About the letter you received?"
Harry and Hermione exchanged a look. Hermione shrugged, it was after all Harry’s secret.
"Yes. It was from my grandfather."
Draco frowned. "Not bad news I hope?"
"No, no, quite the opposite in fact...I think."
"I don’t understand," Draco admitted. He watched as the other two exchanged another look. "If you don’t want to tell me you don’t have to," he said, though he failed to hide his hurt.
"It’s not that I don’t want to tell you Draco, not exactly," Harry hedged. He sighed heavily. "Alright I’ll tell you but please don’t repeat this to anybody."
"I promise I won’t tell."
As quickly and succinctly as possible Harry explained about his talent and how he had discovered it. He further explained that he had been cautioned not to bandy it about the Wizarding world as many thought it a dark skill. "I think they’re being quite short-sighted myself, it’s a bit like muggles who wish to do away with guns because some people misuse them."
"They’re weapons; they propel bullets at a very high rate of speed towards a target the shooter aims at. If they hit the right spot they can kill," Harry explained.
"But wouldn’t that make them evil just as we think of parseltongue as being a dark art?" Draco asked. It seemed to the blond Harry’s argument was only proving parseltongue to be evil.
"Guns are only weapons, tools if you will. They aren’t capable of being evil. It is the person using the gun who determines if it is used for good or ill. You see Draco while a gun could be used to kill another person for no reason, it can also be used to protect an innocent person from somebody intent on harming or killing them. A gun can also be used to kill animals so that a man can feed his family. True we no longer need hunt to provide for our families but at one time it was common. Then too a gun might be used to kill an animal that was about to attack a man. Do you see?"
Draco nodded. "It does make sense. So you’re saying that parseltongue is like these guns?"
"Yes," Harry smiled. "The ability to speak another language, and that’s all parseltongue is, is a gift or a skill. You wouldn’t think somebody speaking French was evil only because you couldn’t understand them would you?"
"Of course not, but that’s different."
"How is it different?" Harry asked.
"Because a lot of people speak French," Draco smugly replied after a moment’s thought.
"That only means parseltongue is a rare skill among humans. "
Hermione had been silent until now but she could remain quiet no longer. "What about mermish?" she asked.
Draco turned to her. "What are you on about Hermione?"
"Do you think those who can speak mermish are evil?"
"No, of course not."
"Not many people can do it, can they?" Hermione pressed.
"Well no but that doesn’t make it...evil," he barely whispered the final word. "Point taken," he conceded. "Most people won’t see parseltongue that way though, nor will Harry be given a chance to explain."
"Which is why he hasn’t advertised his ability."
"Nor will I," said Harry.
"If Ginger is right what are you going to do Harry?" Hermione asked.
"I’m not sure," Harry chewed on his lip. "I suppose we should begin looking for snakes that can petrify people and animals."
"Should we tell Professor Flitwick?" Draco asked. "Don’t look at me like that," he protested when his friends turned incredulous looks his way. "He’s part Goblin you know."
"And that means?" Harry asked.
"He won’t view parseltongue in the same way as most wizards. He may be able to help us figure out what type of snake it is. That is always assuming that the snake is connected to the attacks."
"That’s a good point Harry. I think we should risk it," Hermione put her two pence in.
"Except it isn’t you risking anything Hermione," Harry pointed out. Though he no longer flinched at every raised voice or expected to be beaten if he did anything wrong, Harry had never forgot the pain of being treated like a freak by his former family. He wasn’t certain he could stand being thought of as such again.
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Chapter 31: Chapter 31
10th January, 1993
Hogwarts Great Hall
"Did you hear about Hagrid?" Terry Boot asked.
The three shook their heads. "Did something happen to him?" Harry asked.
"Not to him but to his roosters," Terry replied. "Somebody or something killed all of them."
"Why should anybody kill roosters?" Hermione was puzzled.
Terry shrugged. "No idea."
"I wonder..." Draco trailed off.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Nothing," Draco replied. He didn’t know if they should discuss it here.
Harry and Hermione exchanged a look but neither pushed Draco to say more. Following breakfast they made their way to the first class of the day. The time passed quickly enough and soon they were afforded the time to slip away for some privacy.
"You thought of something at breakfast," Hermione stated as soon as the door of the empty classroom closed behind them.
"Yes," Draco admitted.
"And are you going to share?" Hermione glared after a prolonged moment of silence.
Draco grinned. Hermione was so easy to bait. "I wondered if the killing of the roosters might not be connected to the Chamber of Secrets."
"But how?" Hermione asked.
"I don’t know," Draco admitted.
"We should add it to our research. Perhaps it will help us to identify the snake we’re looking for," Harry suggested.
"I still say we should ask Professor Flitwick."
Harry sighed. "If there is another attack and we still haven’t figured it out we’ll go to him. Will that satisfy you?" He did understand why Draco wanted them to speak to their head of house but Harry couldn’t help being frightened. Suppose the professor thought he was evil because of his gift? Or he might believe that, being a parselmouth, Harry was involved in the attacks. If that got around the school his life would soon become a nightmare.
11th February, 1993
Mount Street Flat
"Good morning Hedwig," Ginger smiled as he took the letter from the beautiful white owl.
"What news laddie?" Biggles asked.
Dear Grandfather and Company,
There has been another attack. A Hufflepuff student, Justin Finch-Fletchley was petrified. This would have caused an uproar on its own but alongside the student the Gryffindor ghost, Nearly Headless Nick was petrified as well. As you know Hermione, Draco and I have been researching possible snakes that could petrify their victims. The fact that a ghost was petrified only served to further confuse us.
It was for this reason that we finally approached our head of house, Professor Flitwick, seeking his help. I’m sure you can understand that I was quite nervous, in spite of Draco’s assurances that the man wouldn’t hold the same views on parselmouths as most in the Wizarding world. Perhaps it was cowardly of me but I was most afraid of being viewed as a freak once more.
Ginger cursed soundly. He knew this fear stemmed directly from the way the Dursley’s had treated his grandson. "Lucky they’re in prison," he mumbled. Ginger took a moment to regain his composure before continuing with the letter.
I needn’t have worried. The professor far from thinking me a freak or evil was quite fascinated by my ability. He said, as far as he was aware, there had never been a parselmouth in the Potter family. At any rate after telling him of our suspicions he was able to supply the answer. The only snake, he said, that could petrify its victims is a basilisk. This snake is known as the king of the serpents. Its venom is fatal with no known antidote but it doesn’t need the venom to kill. One look into its eyes is enough to kill, though it can choose to petrify if it wishes. Professor Flitwick also stated that an indirect look into its eyes would cause petrification. As the Creevey boy and Filch’s cat were found near a puddle of water they most likely saw only a reflection of the eyes. Justin too would have seen the snake indirectly if he saw it through the form of the Gryffindor ghost. Further evidence of it being a basilisk is the slaying of the roosters. Apparently the crow of a rooster will kill the great snake. Yes I realize this is a ridiculous means of killing such a deadly creature.
The professor promised to bring this information to the Headmaster’s attention without bringing our names into the discussion. I do hope he is successful. I don’t believe it would be in my best interest for the headmaster to know of my ability. I will write the moment I have more news to relate.
Your affectionate grandson,
Surely Amelia can do something now old boy," Bertie suggested.
Upon learning of the first attack Ginger had contacted Madame Bones. She had been quite concerned and had of course made a trip to Hogwarts. However, as there had only been the one attack and Dumbledore was investigating while taking precautions to prevent further attacks, there was little she could do.
"I’ll send her a letter right away but I doubt she’ll be able to do anymore than has been done. After all the Headmaster is investigating." Ginger penned a quick letter updating Amelia on the situation at Hogwarts, sending it off with Hedwig.
The reply he received some time later was less than encouraging. According to Amelia as Hogwarts pre-dated the Ministry its laws could override those of the DMLE and the Ministry. In this instance that was the case as no official complaint had been filed on behalf of the two students directly affected. Nor would a complaint likely be filed as they were both muggleborns. Furthermore as Dumbledore had taken precautions and was obviously investigating he couldn’t be accused of dereliction of duty. Should a parent of a victim or a member of the school board contact her Amelia would act with all due haste. It wasn’t very reassuring but at this time it was the best they could hope for.
14th February, 1993
"Hermione why do you want us to go into a girl’s loo?" Harry asked as they stood in front of a door on the second floor. That there was water flowing from beneath the door was another reason to avoid entering.
"There’s something I need to show you." When both boys blushed and looked away Hermione blushed, clearly embarrassed. "Nothing like that you prats," she mumbled. Pushing open the door she went inside.
Harry and Draco looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and reluctantly followed after. "Alright Hermione what do you need to show us in a girl’s loo?" Harry demanded.
"This," Hermione replied thrusting a small black book towards them.
Draco took it, opening it but he saw only blank pages. "A diary? Why should we want to see this?" he scornfully asked.
"It isn’t just a diary," Hermione answered. "Myrtle said somebody threw it at her..."
"Myrtle?" Harry asked.
"She’s a ghost, this is where she lives I suppose you could say. Anyway I heard her crying and when I asked her what was wrong she told me somebody threw something at her. This," Hermione said, pointing at the diary. "I thought it odd that somebody should do such a thing and so I opened it. I thought there might be important information in it. As soon as I opened it writing appeared telling me it was time to continue."
"What?" Draco screeched. "That isn’t good Hermione."
"I had figured that much out for myself Draco."
"But why didn’t I see anything? Does it only talk to girls?"
"No, when I didn’t respond it somehow realized I wasn’t the person it wanted. It called me a," here the girl’s voice dropped to a whisper, "filthy mudblood." Hermione inhaled deeply shaking off the discomfort. "I hid it and came to get you boys at that point. Do you have any idea what it might be Draco?" Though she and Harry had studied the history and culture of the Wizarding world they had not grown up within it. This had resulted in gaps in their knowledge, such as the information concerning house elves.
"I’m not sure but I know it can’t be good. I could write Father, perhaps he’ll know," Draco suggested.
"Could I see it?" Harry asked. The moment the book lay in his hand it began to smoke. Harry could feel the evilness emanating from it and tried to release his hold. Just as had happened the year before with Quirrell his hand refused to let go. He, with his friends, watched in fascinated horror as the book slowly crumbled to dust. As the last of the book disintegrated Harry heard a high pitched scream of agony and rage just before darkness claimed him.
14th February, 1993
Lucius Malfoy screamed as his dark mark burned. For a moment he thought the Dark Lord had returned but soon realized this was like nothing he had felt before. Though only a few minutes passed it felt as if he spent hours held in the grip of agony; when the pain finally ended he, with shaking hands and panting heavily, pulled back the sleeve of his robe. Lucius stared in disbelief at the bare skin of his arm where only moments before his dark mark had resided.
A/N: I never liked the idea of multiple horcruxes nor the idea that Voldemort could have accidentally created a final one in Harry's scar. It simply didn't make sense. This led to the realization that if Quirrell(essentially a vessel for Voldemort's spirit) couldn't withstand Harry's touch how was he able to touch the other horcruxes without destroying them? And so was born the idea of Harry's touch alone, due to his mother's protection, being enough to destroy the diary and with it that bit of Voldemort's soul.
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Chapter 32: Chapter 32
14th February, 1993
Hogwarts Hospital Wing
Ginger, along with Biggles, flooed directly into the hospital wing. Barely had he stepped through and his arms were full of a crying Hermione. Draco stood against the wall, watching and listening as he waited for news of his friend.
"Oh Ginger it was awful," the girl cried. "Harry couldn’t let go of the book and there was a horrible scream and then Harry passed out. I’m sorry, please believe me."
"Hermione I don’t understand, why should you be sorry?"
"I gave him the book, but I swear I didn’t know it would hurt him. I never would have given it to him if I had known." Hermione spoke quickly, through her sobs, almost as if it were the only way she could get the words out.
Though he was worried about his grandson it was clear to Ginger that Hermione was close to becoming hysterical. He held the girl away from him and kneeled so that they were at eye level. "Calm down child, I know you would never hurt our Harry. Now you said Harry screamed?" He was well aware that the best way to calm Hermione was to ask questions.
Hermione shook her head. "No, the book screamed and then Harry passed out," she hiccupped.
"Has anybody told you anything about Harry’s condition?" Biggles asked.
"No sir." She glanced over her shoulder before continuing. "I don’t think they would have contacted Ginger if I hadn’t gone to Professor Flitwick."
Biggles raised an eyebrow at that. "Why do you say that Hermione?"
"When the Headmaster found out I had floo called the flat he asked me why I had taken it upon myself to contact you."
"You don’t think it was a reasonable question?"
"I suppose it is but his tone was, I wouldn’t say angry, but definitely irritated. He also told Professor Flitwick that he shouldn’t have allowed a student to use his office floo. I don’t think he meant for me to hear that though."
Just then the man in question entered the room, followed closely by Madame Pomfrey. Ginger wasted no time on the Headmaster but directed his questions towards the Medi-witch.
"Madame Pomfrey how is my grandson?"
"He is suffering from magical exhaustion but should be fully recovered by tomorrow morning."
"And this book he touched, it did him no other damage?"
"No sir it didn’t," Pomfrey confirmed.
"Thank God," Ginger whispered his heartfelt gratitude. "How long has he been in your care Madame?" was his next question.
"About an hour Mr. Hebblethwaite, why do you ask?"
Ginger frowned. Hermione had contacted him fifteen minutes ago and he had flooed directly to the hospital wing within minutes of receiving the message. "I was wondering why it was left to a student to contact me," he replied.
Madame Pomfrey frowned. "I wasn’t aware that was the case. I have been busy running scans on Mr. Potter. Not knowing what exactly transpired I wished to be thorough in my examination."
"Thank you for that Madame. It is reassuring to know Harry has at least two adults in this school looking after him."
"Mr. Hebblethwaite I don’t believe there is any reason for..."
"Headmaster Dumbledore I am not one of your students please don’t speak to me as if I am," Ginger cut him off. "The fact is Headmaster my grandson has been left magically exhausted twice while in your care. Furthermore in both instances I was contacted only because you were not able to prevent it. I believe you made a magical oath not to prevent my visiting the castle," he reminded the elderly wizard.
Dumbledore cast a lumos spell. "Clearly my magic doesn’t believe I have violated that oath and indeed I have not. You are here, are you not?"
"What I should like to know is what sort of establishment you’re running Dumbledore?" Biggles put in.
"I’m not sure I understand you Mr. Bigglesworth."
"From the description of events it would appear this book Harry came in contact with is connected to your Lord Voldemort. That would make twice that Voldemort or an artefact of his was inside your school."
Dumbledore bit back his anger. How dare these squibs come into his school and question him in this manner. Clearly they didn’t know their proper place. "I have already launched an investigation into the matter," he lied. He saw no need for an investigation, after all without the book in question there would be no means of tracing its origins.
"And what of this Basilisk roaming the school? Don’t you think the children should be sent home for their safety?" Ginger asked. He had wanted to bring Harry and Hermione home the moment he’d read the letter but his grandson insisted he remain for the time being. Harry had pointed out, correctly, that as a parselmouth he had the best chance of being able to control the beast and if nothing else he could warn his head of house whenever he heard the thing moving through the school. Reluctantly Ginger had agreed to allow Harry time to find a solution to the problem, but if another attack occurred before a solution was found the children would be brought home.
"There is no need for that," Dumbledore assured in his best grandfatherly tones. "Hogwarts is the safest place in the Wizarding world."
Ginger snorted. "If this is what you deem the safest place I should hate to see what you deem dangerous."
"Mr. Hebblethwaite asks a very good question."
The group startled, turning as one towards the doors leading into the hallway. Standing just inside of them was Lucius Malfoy. "Well Headmaster, what do you plan to do about this Basilisk and why am I, a Governor of the school, just now hearing of it?"
"We only recently discovered the possibility of a basilisk, we had of course been attempting to find its lair so that it can be destroyed."
"How long have you been searching?" Lucius demanded. He had come to the school to see his son. The disappearance of his dark mark and what it meant had brought forth an urge to see Draco, to look upon his innocent face and know he would never be forced into the service of the Dark Lord. Upon arriving he had discovered his son was in the hospital wing waiting news of his friend, Harry Potter’s condition.
"A basilisk was only brought to my attention as a possible culprit a few days ago."
"I understand there have now been two attacks, why are you only now discovering a possible culprit?" Lucius sneered.
"An investigation was launched immediately following the first attack Mr. Malfoy," Albus coldly replied. "Admittedly we were focused on the older students until the most recent attack. I can only say that it was assumed the attack had to have come from a wizard or witch, rather than a creature."
"I see," Lucius said. "The school will of course need to be closed until the basilisk is contained or destroyed."
"I don’t believe that is necessary Mr. Malfoy as we have found the entrance to Slytherin’s chamber."
Lucius looked incredulous. "That is amazing Headmaster. Generations have searched Hogwarts for the fabled Chamber of Secrets. How is it that you have managed to succeed where they failed?"
"It is thanks to three students that the entrance was discovered." Albus hoped this would be enough to satisfy as they had not yet found the means of opening the chamber.
"This is connected to the book you found isn’t it Hermione?" Ginger asked.
Lucius felt a cold pit opening before him. "Book?" he managed to ask.
It was Draco who answered. "Hermione found a book, some kind of diary, in the girl’s loo on the second floor. It frightened her because when she opened it writing appeared. I looked at it but nothing happened, but when Harry touched it his hand became fused to the book as the diary crumbled to dust, releasing a horrible scream at the end. When Harry passed out I sent Hermione for Professor Flitwick. They returned, along with the Headmaster. While they were looking Harry over Hermione and I stayed back. That was when we saw the snake fixtures on the sinks and realized that if the basilisk was hiding in Slytherin’s chamber than this could easily be the entrance. I told Professor Flitwick after Harry was brought here. I suppose he told the Headmaster."
It was a struggle to maintain his composure but a lifetime of training stood Lucius in good stead. He was greatly relieved to discover the diary had been destroyed and somehow the Dark Lord with it. "What are you plans Albus? Have you discovered how to open the chamber?"
Silently Albus cursed the blond wizard. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t been investigating, nor did he wish to have a basilisk roaming his school, threatening the students. "Not as yet but I’m sure we will manage it. Filius tells me a Goblin curse breaker may be able to open the chamber. Once open we will simply send several cockerels into the chamber. As you no doubt are aware the crowing of a cockerel is fatal to the basilisk."
"You will contact the Goblins immediately. If the problem has not been successfully taken care of by this time tomorrow we will need to close the school until such time as it is."
Dumbledore bristled with anger. "As Headmaster I will be the one to make such a decision."
"Of course Headmaster," Lucius conceded. "And as a sitting Governor I am duty bound to inform the Board of the situation should you make the incorrect decision."
Ginger, who had opened his mouth to object, snapped it closed as Lord Malfoy skilfully backed the Headmaster into a corner.
"Of course, I’ll see to it immediately," Albus easily agreed while inside he seethed. He had intended all along to contact the Goblins but to be ordered about in his own school left him shaking with anger.
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Chapter 33: Chapter 33
A/N: This chapter contains some disturbing imagery though nothing terribly graphic. It does serve a purpose aside from tormenting Harry. I can't say any more really without risking ruining the drama of the moment.
3rd March, 1993
Following the conversation in the hospital wing Dumbledore had made immediate contact with the Goblins. They had sent one of their best curse breakers and luckily he had been able to break through the protections on the Chamber of Secrets. With Hagrid standing by with several new roosters it was a matter of moments to open the chamber and send the cockerels through the opening. Nobody knew why the crow of a rooster was fatal to a basilisk but as they could hear them crowing on their way into the chamber there was no doubt the great snake would soon be dead. Several days after this a team of Goblin warriors made their way into the Chamber, quickly confirming the snake’s death. The roosters had been retrieved and now resided in the capable hands of Hagrid.
Harry almost wished Dumbledore had been forced to resign but as he had handled the situation correctly there had been no cause. In spite of the fact that the Headmaster had taken the steps he had Harry was still suspicious of the man, as were his grandfather and the others. None of them could believe that Voldemort had, for a second time, managed to infiltrate the school without the Headmaster’s knowledge. If he had truly been unaware, the Wizarding world needed to re-evaluate their definition of greatest and most powerful when referring to those such as Dumbledore.
When news of the basilisk broke the school was in an uproar. The tumult was short-lived as the announcement was followed with the news that the great snake had been found and destroyed. Harry couldn’t help thinking it unfair for the snake to be destroyed when it had obviously been used by Voldemort but he could think of no other way the school could have been safe-guarded. They had no idea who had brought the diary into the school or what part it had played in the attacks. After some discussion it was decided to leave things as they stood. Without the diary it would be impossible to find the culprit, they would just have to hope the person had been an innocent dupe.
The school, in the past couple of weeks, had settled back into a normal routine. The potion to revive the victims of the basilisk would be ready in another month and they would be awakened none the worse for wear. The only fly in the soup now was one Gilderoy Lockhart, so-called Professor for Defence Against the Dark Arts. The classes had not improved, each seeming to become more ludicrous than the last. If it weren’t for their independent studies Harry was sure that he and his friends would have learned nothing about defending themselves. Frankly if Lockhart and Quirrell were representative of the quality of DADA teachers it was no wonder dark lords were able to so easily run amok.
"Harry mate, wait up," an unwelcome voice called from behind him.
Harry considered ignoring the call but in the end good manners won out and he stopped, turning to face the youngest Weasley. "Did you want something?" he asked in a cold voice.
He really didn’t like the redhead. His twin brothers were okay, though their pranks sometimes bordered on bullying. As Harry had little patience for such behaviour he didn’t spend much time near the older Weasleys either. Ginny was the only Weasley he had regular contact with and she was so quiet and obviously star-struck that he didn’t really know much about her.
"I just wanted to give you a warning."
"A warning?" Harry raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah. I know the basilisk was killed but you do know who freed it from the chamber don’t you?"
"Yes I do. I’m surprised you were able to figure it out..."
"Oh it wasn’t hard. I mean who else could it be but Malfoy. He should have been a snake."
Harry glared at the other boy.
Ron continued, oblivious to the glare aimed his way. "But I don’t understand you Harry. If you know it was Malfoy that released the snake why are you still hanging about with him?"
"You ignorant prat. Draco didn’t release the basilisk and I will thank you not to be spreading such vicious rumours about a friend of mine." Harry turned away but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. Spinning around he moved without thinking, his hand curled into a fist and he let fly, catching the red head on the nose. What would have happened after that will never be known as it was at this moment that Professor Lockhart happened upon them.
"Mr. Potter five points from Ravenclaw for attacking a fellow student and detention with me for the rest of the week. Be in my office at 7 p.m."
"Yes sir," Harry scowled. He didn’t really mind the punishment as he really shouldn’t have hit Weasley; he just wished it could have been some other teacher who had discovered them. Why did it have to be Lockhart and why did the man look so gleeful at the prospect?
Gilderoy Lockhart’s office
Harry arrived at the office exactly on time. Raising his hand to knock he was surprised when the door swung open before he could make contact.
"Right on time Harry, do come in," Lockhart greeted him.
Harry itched to tell the man off for his familiarity but as he was already in trouble he thought better of it. Moving past his teacher he stepped into the room. Having heard from other students who had served detention with Lockhart Harry had been expecting to see the surface of the desk littered with fan mail and pictures of the foppish teacher. He was therefore quite surprised to see a completely clean desk, not even a quill and inkpot sat on its surface.
Hearing a mumbled spell being cast behind him Harry turned coming face to face with a grinning Lockhart. "What was that spell Professor?"
"Oh that? Just a small locking charm, wouldn’t want your detention to be interrupted, would we?" Lockhart took a step towards his student. There had been many boys serving detention throughout the year and while they had been enjoyable they weren’t Harry Potter. Finally he would attain the prize he’d hoped for when he accepted the position offered.
Harry took a step back. "What exactly will I be doing Professor?"
Lockhart raised his wand, "Imperious." He smiled in anticipation. "Can you hear me Harry?"
"Yes Professor," Harry responded in a monotone. What was wrong with him? Why did he feel as if he were floating, almost as if he were disconnected from himself?
"Good, very good." Lockhart closed the distance. Looking down at the boy he shivered in delight. Finally the boy would be his. His hand shaking lightly he began to comb his fingers through the boy’s hair. Leaning down he kissed the child lightly on the cheek. "Now Harry take off your clothes," he whispered the command.
Harry had stood perfectly still as the man began touching his hair. He wanted to run away but for some reason he didn’t seem to be able to do so. When the order was given his hands moved to his robes though he fought the command with all of his might. His hands began to shake as he fought off the order to disrobe in front of the horrible man. Harry had heard of things like this on the news but had never expected to become the victim of such a person, especially after he had begun learning magic. The shaking became more violent the harder Harry fought, finally with a tremendous push of will power he broke away from the spell he was under.
"No! You get away from me!" he screamed as he backed away from the teacher.
Lockhart was shocked. Nobody had ever been able to resist the Imperious curse. "How did you...never mind it doesn’t matter. I’ll just have to do this the hard way. I can always obliviate you afterwards just as I did all those witches and wizards whose exploits I claimed as my own." He raised his wand prepared to cast a body bind on the child. He was met with a red light as his intended victim raised his own wand, casting Stupefy only seconds before Lockhart could act.
Shaking horribly Harry ran to the door and tried unsuccessfully to unlock it. But he couldn’t manage it; his hands were shaking too much, his wands movements too jerky as a result. It had been a miracle born of desperation that had allowed him to cast the previous spell.
"Have to get out of here, please somebody help me," Harry sobbed. He had never been so frightened in his life or if he had he couldn’t recall it. How was he going to get out of here? What if Lockhart woke up? Frantically he looked around, hoping to find a means of escape. That was when he spotted the fireplace, floo powder placed on the mantle. Running to it he grabbed a handful of powder and threw it into the flames. Calling out his destination he flooed to the Mount Street flat, calling for his grandfather the moment he entered the parlour.
"Harry, lad what is it? What’s happened?" Shocked to hear Harry’s obviously distressed voice Ginger had ran from the dining room into the parlour.
Seeing his grandfather Harry rushed into his open arms, desperate for the safety and comfort he knew he’d find.
Ginger had never seen his grandson so upset. He knew that anything which could upset him to this point must be serious. He cast a bewildered look towards his friends as he stood in the centre of the room, holding his sobbing grandson in his arms. What could have happened at Hogwarts now?
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Chapter 34: Chapter 34
3rd March, 1993
Mount Street Flat
"Algy get a cup of tea," Biggles ordered. "Bertie floo Amelia tell her we need her here." He didn’t know, of course, if that were strictly true but he suspected that anything which could put young Harry in this state would require official assistance.
While the others hurried to do as bid, Biggles headed for the liquor cabinet. If Dumbledore was in any way responsible for Harry’s state he would learn what a squib could do Biggles viciously promised.
"Shhh laddie, you’re safe now," Ginger soothed. He hadn’t moved since Harry hurled himself into his arms other than to tighten his hold as he began to gently sway. He ignored the others as he tried to calm his grandson, all the while wondering what fresh horror could have put him in this state.
Algy returned with the tea which Biggles laced with a dollop of brandy. "Here laddie, get him to drink this," he said as he handed the cup to Ginger.
Ginger nodded, "Thanks," taking the cup he cajoled Harry into taking a small sip, then another, in this way a third of the cup had soon been taken and the boy finally began to calm. "Better?"
Harry nodded and took another sip.
It was into this scene Amelia walked, having apparated from the Ministry. Bertie had warned her not to attempt the floo. Seeing Ginger and Harry stood in front of the fireplace she now understood the reason for the warning. She opened her mouth to speak, ceasing at a shake of the head from Biggles.
"Can you tell me what happened Harry?" Ginger quietly asked.
Harry shuddered, burying his face against his grandfather. "Don’t want to," he mumbled. He never wanted to think about it again.
"Harry, lad I," a throat clearing had Ginger amending quickly, "we can’t help if we don’t know what’s happened."
"It was horrible," came the whispered response.
"I gathered as much," Ginger said. When Harry said nothing more he sighed heavily. He couldn’t think where to begin, not with his grandson nestled in his arms sobbing softly.
"Harry where were you before you came home?" Biggles asked when he saw Ginger was at a loss.
The men and Amelia exchanged rueful smiles. "Where at Hogwarts?"
"Professor Lockhart’s office," Harry shivered. "Don’t make me go back there Grandfather, please," he begged.
"Hush laddie I’ll keep you safe," Ginger promised. This was apparently the correct response as Harry calmed again.
"Why were you in the professor’s office?" Biggles asked.
"Detention," Harry confessed.
"Am I right in assuming this wasn’t an ordinary detention?"
"I thought there’d be pictures and fan mail but there wasn’t."
"Why would you expect that laddie?"
"Other boys said they helped with fan mail in detentions," Harry explained.
"What did the professor expect you to do during your detention Harry?"
"He locked the door and..." like water breaching a dam the story poured forth. By the time Harry had finished every person in the room wanted to travel to Hogwarts with murder in mind. "Please don’t make me go back."
"I promise laddie, you won’t go back as long as that man is there," Ginger swore. "Even then you won’t return if you don’t want to." He would be quite happy to have Harry educated by private tutors.
Amelia kneeled next to them. "Harry, could I see your wand for a moment?"
"You aren’t going to snap it are you?" Harry fearfully clutched his wand to his chest.
"Why would I do that?"
"Because I attacked a teacher."
"You defended yourself Harry there is nothing wrong with that," Amelia assured him. "I just need to check your wand to see what spells you cast." The wand was handed over and the necessary spell cast upon it. After making note of the results Amelia returned the wand to Harry.
"Why did you need to see?" Harry was curious.
"I believe you Harry, never doubt that," Amelia began.
"But other people won’t?" Harry was familiar with this, nobody had believed him when he lived with the Dursley family either.
"Some won’t want to believe it or they may say you attacked the professor without reason or with a more serious spell than Stupefy. By checking your wand I can prove that the most recent spells cast comply with your retelling of events."
"Now Harry I need to ask do you intend to bring charges against the professor?"
"What happens if I don’t?"
"I imagine your grandfather will remove you from Hogwarts while the Grangers do the same for Hermione. Unfortunately if you don’t pursue the case Lockhart will be allowed to continue teaching."
"He could do this to other boys?"
"Yes Harry he could," Amelia replied. She didn’t want Harry to pursue charges only to protect other boys but rather for himself. However, if protecting others would convince him to see Lockhart punished she could live with it.
Harry cuddled into his grandfather, looking smaller than his years. "Do you think he’s done it to other boys before me?" he asked in a small voice.
"I should think so," was the regretful answer.
"Why didn’t they tell?"
"You said Lockhart mentioned obliviating you?" Amelia asked.
"He likely did the same to any other victims. If you can’t remember being hurt you can’t tell anybody."
"Everybody will know if I tell, won’t they?"
"I would do my best to keep your name out of it Harry but with your fame it isn’t likely I’d succeed." No matter the effect on the case Amelia wasn’t going to lie to the child.
"But if I don’t do anything then he’ll keep hurting boys." Harry pulled away from his grandfather to look the man in the eye for a full minute. Moving on he let his eyes roam over the room, taking in the rest of his family, his heroes. Each looking as angry as the next, Harry was sure of what any one of them would do in his position. He knew what he had to do. "I don’t really have a choice then. I’ll pursue charges," he decisively said.
"There are some steps we’ll have to take before I go to Hogwarts then."
"What steps?" Ginger asked, protectively tightening his hold.
"We need to take Harry to St. Mungos to confirm that he was put under the imperious curse. I’ll also need to take a pensieve copy of his memory of events."
"An official complaint will need to be filed. I have all the information and so Harry will only need to attest to the accuracy of the complaint. After that you can bring Harry back home while I travel to Hogwarts with an Auror to arrest Lockhart."
"Are you up to this laddie?" Ginger asked. He wanted the man punished as much as any of them but he wouldn’t have Harry pushed into something he couldn’t handle. He had been hurt enough by the actions and inactions of the Wizarding world. It would stop now!
"I can do it Grandfather. I have to," Harry added in a whisper.
Kneeling and placing two fingers under Harry’s chin, Ginger raised his head until he was looking him in the eye. "You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to laddie."
Harry smiled shakily. "Thank you Grandfather but I do have to. How could I look any of you in the eye if I let him go on to hurt other boys? He seemed really surprised that I was able to fight off his curse, I think maybe nobody else could."
Ginger had never been more proud of the boy. "You make me very proud laddie."
Harry’s smile grew, becoming more sure as he stood just a little bit straighter.
"Harry is right about the rarity of fighting off the imperious curse. Most adults aren’t able to, I’ve never heard of a child having the ability," Amelia put in.
No further discussion was needed. In short order the group left the flat, flooing directly to St. Mungos secure lobby. This was a special section of the hospital used for government officials and sensitive cases. No reporters, nobody in disguise, including animagi and no unauthorized medical personnel were allowed in this section. The exam was handled as quickly as possible, though the medi-witch was thorough. She had been horrified when told what she was looking for and was determined that the man responsible for such atrocious actions would not walk away because she wasn’t thorough during the exam. While the exam was taking place Amelia had seen to writing up the complaint. Harry read it over, confirmed the accuracy and his desire to pursue charges before signing the parchment. He and the others, sans Amelia, returned to the flat where Harry was given a dreamless sleep potion and put to bed.
3rd March, 1993
Hogwarts Headmaster’s Office
Amelia had arrived at the front gates of Hogwarts in high temper, accompanied by Kingsley Shacklebot. Biggles had wanted to accompany her but she had pointed out that as this was DMLE business his presence could well be counter productive. This was particularly true considering his status as a squib. Biggles had reluctantly agreed with her assessment. He did ask if she could inform Harry’s friends of events before they read about it in the paper.
Finding the gates locked she sent a patronus to Hagrid as Keeper of the Keys he could admit them. The half-giant had uncertainly allowed her entry. When he attempted to escort her to the Headmaster’s office she dismissed him, after obtaining the current password. That he didn’t want to leave was clear but the man did have enough sense not to argue with the head of the DMLE.
Upon entering the office Amelia was somewhat surprised to see Lockhart in conference with Dumbledore and McGonagall. She did find a small amount of satisfaction in the fact that the occupants of the room were equally surprised to see her. Lockhart though was the most satisfying as his eyes flashed with fear.
Albus sighed. "Amelia, I was just about to call you."
"Oh?" She decided to wait for more information before getting to the reason for her visit.
"Yes, it seems we need to file a complaint, though I am hesitant to do so." Albus sighed in a manner that clearly spoke of reluctance and regret. "I have been concerned for sometime about Mr. Potter. His friendship with the Malfoy boy is most disturbing; also I’ve been concerned that his grandfather isn’t up to giving the boy a proper upbringing." Albus heaved another sigh.
"Oh do get on with it Albus," Amelia impatiently demanded. Suddenly she was exceedingly glad to have convinced Biggles to remain on Mount Street. She had a very bad feeling as to where this was going.
"It seems I was correct to be concerned. Earlier tonight Mr. Potter viciously attacked Professor Lockhart before running away. We were just discussing whether or not to keep this an internal Hogwarts matter."
Amelia glared at Lockhart. "Professor Lockhart I have just come from speaking with Mr. Potter. Would you like to amend your complaint in any way before we proceed?"
Gilderoy swallowed hard. He hadn’t expected to be confronted by the head of the DMLE. He had been sure the boy would keep quiet out of shame. The Headmaster had just been assuring him that the child would be punished for attacking him. Once the boy was found he would have obliviated him and his secrets would be safe again. "Headmaster I don’t believe we really need to involve the DMLE, do we?"
Before Amelia’s arrival Albus might have agreed. But now he saw the chance to regain control of the Potter boy; he wasn’t going to waste it. "I’m afraid we do Gilderoy." He could understand the man’s reluctance. It wouldn’t do his reputation any good for it to become known he was bested by a child, at least the child was the boy-who-lived. It was well known he was a powerful wizard.
Gilderoy, looking very much like a rat in a trap, turned back to Amelia. "No Madame Bones I don’t believe I wish to amend the complaint."
"Very well." She turned to Kinsgley, "Auror Shacklebot would you take Mr. Lockhart into custody please?" The room echoed with protests from the Hogwarts contingent, none of which were understood as they each spoke over the others in an effort to be heard.
Finally, desperate to regain control, Albus fired off a noisemaker. "I demand to know what reason you have for arresting the victim?"
"Oh I’m not arresting the victim Albus," Amelia calmly informed him, "I’m arresting the suspect."
"What fairytale has the lad told you?" McGonagall asked.
"Fairytale?" Amelia coldly asked. "I thought better of you Professor McGonagall. You have heard only one side of the story and yet you are certain that whatever the child told us must be the lie."
McGonagall’s skin flushed but she refused to be backed down. "Children often concoct tales to excuse their wrongdoing."
"Yes but Mr. Potter was examined and his claims substantiated. Would you like to continue assuming he lied or would you and your boss like to know just what the man hired to teach our children has really been up to?"
The silence was deafening. Into this silence Amelia explained, in the coldest tone she could manage, exactly what had been done to a child in their care. That the child in question was seen as the saviour of the Wizarding world only compounded the travesty. "I will of course want a complete list of every child who has served a detention with Professor Lockhart this year." She glared at Albus. "Don’t bother to protest Albus, I will have the list. These children will be examined at St. Mungos for any evidence of abuse. Let’s get out of here," she said to her Auror. She followed the tall man who had a tight grip on Lockhart to the door. At the door she paused, looking back at a stunned Dumbledore and McGonagall, "Oh and Albus I will be informing the school Governors of tonight’s events."
Amelia accompanied Shacklebot as far as the entrance hall. There she left him with instructions to see the prisoner into a ministry holding cell. He would be questioned when she returned, under the influence of veritaserum. In the meantime she had one more stop to make. Turning away from the entrance hall she made her way towards the office of Filius Flitwick.
"Come in," Filius called. Looking up from grading papers he hid his surprise well. He had thought to find one of his prefects reporting a problem perhaps, not the head of the DMLE. "Madame Bones this is a surprise. What can I do for you?"
"Professor Flitwick," Amelia greeted. "I’m afraid it isn’t going to be a pleasant surprise."
"Something has happened?"
"Yes but before I go any further I need to see two of your students, Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger."
"Has something happened to their families?" Filius could think of no other reason for the request.
"No, their families are fine. If you could have them brought here you will soon learn the reason for my request."
"Oh, of course. Just a moment." Turning away from her he sent his patronus off to one of his prefects with a message. "Would you like some tea while we wait?" he politely asked.
"No thank you." In all honesty she wanted a bottle of fire whiskey and the time to drink it. Unfortunately for Amelia such indulgence would have to wait.
"Could you tell me what this concerns Madame Bones?" the small professor asked. He wasn’t only curious about the visit but concerned for his students as well.
Amelia adopted a pensive look. "Perhaps it..." she got no further for at that moment a knock was heard.
"Come in," Filius called.
"You wanted to see us Professor?" Draco asked as he and Hermione entered the room. He hoped this wouldn’t take long. He wanted to be in the common room when Harry returned from detention.
"Amelia what are you doing here?" Hermione gasped. "Oh no, has something happened to my parents?" she in the next breath.
"Your parents are fine Hemione," Amelia quickly assured the child. "I do have something to discuss with you and Mr. Malfoy however."
Hermione and Draco exchanged a confused glance. What could Amelia Bones need to discuss with them?
"Please have a seat," Amelia invited. She waited for the children to sit down before continuing. "What I have to tell you will be upsetting but it was felt you should be told before the news breaks, likely in tomorrow’s Prophet." Amelia took a deep, bracing breath. "To begin with you should know that physically Harry is unharmed."
"Harry! What’s happened to Harry? Did Lockhart do something to him?" the two children peppered the adults with questions, their words often overlapping.
"Why would you ask about Lockhart?" Had there been rumours about the man? Rumours that were perhaps ignored by the staff?
"Only that Harry had detention with him so we thought..."
"Naturally so," Draco interjected.
"Yes, we thought perhaps he had done something. I mean look at what happened last year with the defence professor," Hermione pointed out.
Amelia nodded. "I’m afraid it does involve Lockhart." As gently as possible she proceeded to explain the events of the evening to the children. By the end of the narration both children were in tears and holding each other tightly.
"Is Lockhart in custody?" Flitwick growled.
"I don’t suppose he could find his way into Goblin hands?"
Amelia smirked; she knew the goblins considered Harry a friend as well as a valued client. She could easily imagine the punishment they would mete out to the odious vile creature known as Gilderoy Lockhart. "It is a nice thought but no, I’m afraid his punishment shall have to come at the hands of the ministry."
"Will Harry be returning to Hogwarts?" Hermione asked.
"Does my father know about this?" was Draco’s question.
"Harry is of course spending the night at home but I expect he will return," Amelia responded to Hermione’s question first. "Your father does not know Mr. Malfoy but he will before the night is out, as will the rest of the board."
"Are you going to see Harry tomorrow?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, I’ll want to update his grandfather on the case."
"Could you tell him that I,"
"We," Hermione amended, "hope he’ll return soon but understand if he needs time."
"I will be sure he gets the message Hermione," Amelia assured the young witch. With that she took her leave. She had a long night ahead of her; the next step would be questioning their suspect followed by many owls being sent as the Hogwarts Board of Governors received official notice of events.
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Chapter 35: Chapter 35
4th March, 1993
Hogwarts Great Hall
Those few who noticed the subdued countenance of two young Ravenclaws were soon to understand their demeanour. The flapping of wings heralded the arrival of the morning mail and with it the Daily Prophet. Papers dropped upon tables, the rustling of turning pages indicating the opening of that day’s paper. The sound of numerous gasps gave those few mentioned earlier their answer.
HOGWARTS PROFESSOR ARRESTED!BY: RITA SKEETER
The headline screamed. The story that followed saw many faces growing pale, particularly those of first through third year boys across houses.
In shocking news it was announced late last night that famed author and current Hogwarts Defence Against The Dark Arts professor Gilderoy Lockhart has been arrested. What crime could a man of such sterling reputation have committed you ask? As it happens Mr. Lockhart has committed many crimes, some of which will be truly shocking and upsetting to the reader.
This reporter has learned that Lockhart was arrested following a complaint filed by a Hogwarts student with the DMLE. Questioned under veritaserum Mr. Lockhart admitted to the use of the unforgivable Imperious curse upon many young boys. Why you ask would a grown man make use of such a vile curse against innocent children? Dear reader it is with utmost regret and horror that I must provide the answer to this question. It seems Mr. Lockhart has a taste for youthful flesh. While under the aforementioned curse the boys are forced to perform many acts of a lewd nature upon and with the famed Lockhart.
Why was this never before reported you ask? Quite simply dear reader because Lockhart, following each assault, obliviated and healed his victims. Yesterday evening Lockhart again attacked a student, but this time he made a mistake. The child he chose for this assault was none other than our own Harry Potter, the famed boy-who-lived.
"How could she just tell everybody like that?" Hermione fumed. "Poor Harry, he’ll hate that everybody knows what happened to him." She felt sick at the thought of what her friend must have felt and would feel when he realized the whole of the Wizarding world was aware of the crime committed against him.
"Unfortunately Hermione there is no way to prevent reporters from telling the world all they know," Draco responded. He, like Hermione, was made sick by what he was reading, but knew there was nothing to be done.
Luckily for Mr. Potter and countless boys who would have fallen victim to Lockhart, Harry was able to resist the pull of the imperious curse. As Lockhart prepared to subject our saviour to the same degrading attack as he had others young Harry valiantly fought the effects of the curse. Just in time he threw off the curse and when his professor then raised wand to further attack, commenting he would have to do this the hard way, our young hero subdued the vile man with a quick stupefy. Escaping the castle he flooed to his residence where Madame Amelia Bones was contacted and all was revealed.
Under direct questioning Lockhart fully admitted to this and many other crimes. Apparently, though he claims many accomplishments within the pages of his books, the only two spells Mr. Lockhart ever excelled at were the aforementioned imperious and obliviate curses. The many accomplishments of his books were actually achieved by other wizards and witches, whom Lockhart obliviated of said accomplishments. This left him free to claim their deeds for his own.
With this news many questions are raised. How many boys have been victimized by Lockhart? Were all of his young victims students at Hogwarts? Did Headmaster Albus Dumbledore know of Lockhart’s proclivities when he engaged him as DADA professor? Why did the wards of Hogwarts not alert the Headmaster of these attacks? Prior to Lockhart’s arrest the man had contacted Dumbledore, reporting that young Potter had attacked him without cause. Dumbledore was on the verge of proceeding with the issuance of punishment when Madame Bones’ fortuitous arrival revealed the truth. Why was Dumbledore so anxious to punish an innocent student? Did he need to protect his professor lest his own part in Lockhart’s attacks be revealed? It is the hope of this reporter that in the coming days such questions will be asked by those in positions of power and that appropriate action will be taken against all guilty parties, regardless of their name or position.
"Hermione, Draco, is Harry alright?" Neville asked, breaking the two Ravenclaw students from their perusal of the paper.
When he had read the article Neville had felt awful for his friend. Sympathy for his friend warred with the relief that he had never served detention with Lockhart. Glancing around the Great Hall he could easily pick out the boys who had. Pale faced and horror stricken they sat in shock as they learned from the Prophet what had likely been done to them. One broke, jumping from his seat and running from the hall. As if it were a signal the other likely victims followed after him. Neville suspected the hospital wing would soon be flooded with boys seeking the answer to a question they had never expected to ask. During the mass exodus Neville made his way from the Hufflepuff table, joining his friends at Ravenclaw.
"I haven’t spoken to him but Amelia told us that he is alright. He’s at home right now and I suppose will remain there today at any rate."
"He will return though?"
"I think so," Hermione bit her lip. "I think it will depend a lot on what happens with Dumbledore."
Neville’s eyes widened. "You don’t really think he knew what Lockhart was getting up to?"
"I don’t know Neville," Hermione honestly responded. "After last year and what happened with that diary I just don’t know how far the man can be trusted." Though the diary incident wasn’t common knowledge the three Ravenclaw students had of course told their friend in Hufflepuff. The school only knew that it had been a basilisk, left by Salazar Slytherin, responsible for the attacks that saw its victims petrified.
"Neville, you didn’t..." Draco stopped. He wasn’t sure how to ask the question.
"I didn’t? No, I never had a detention," he quickly assured as he realized what Draco had been asking. "And..."
"No, I never had detention with him either," Draco supplied.
4th March, 1993
Hogwarts Board Room
The board members had been properly outraged upon receiving notice from Madame Bones as to events at Hogwarts. The morning paper had added fuel to the fire of indignation and horror. The meeting was called to order and after a short discussion Professor McGonagall was called into the room.
"Good morning Professor," the head of the board greeted the Scotswoman.
"Good morning," McGonagall politely replied though she felt it was anything but good.
"I’m sure you know why you were called here."
"We would like to hear, in your own words, what transpired last evening in the Headmaster’s office."
"At which point would you like for me to begin?" Minerva wanted to be clear about what they were asking.
"I think," Lucius Malfoy answered, "we would all like to know what was discussed prior to the arrival of Madame Bones as well as what occurred with her arrival."
There were nods and noises of agreement around the room.
"Very well Lord Malfoy." Minerva paused, gathering her thoughts. "I was in the Headmaster’s office discussing some paperwork when a house elf alerted us that a professor had been attacked. We hurried to the Defence professor’s office where we found Lockhart on the floor having been stupefied. Lockhart was revived by the Headmaster and the three of us retired to the Head’s office to discuss matters."
"Professor McGonagall why is it that a house elf alerted staff to an attack upon a professor but had never alerted staff to an attack upon students? I refer not only to the attacks carried out by Lockhart but the basilisk attacks as well, "Lady Longbottom sternly questioned.
"I would assume because the victims were found before a house elf was able to discover them. As to the attacks from Lockhart I cannot tell you why no house elf alerted staff to them."
"Is it possible such reports were made and ignored?" another Governor asked.
Minerva blanched. "I sincerely hope that isn’t the case sir."
"As do we all Professor," Malfoy smoothly interjected. "Please continue with your narrative."
"Once in Albus’ office tea was ordered and the Headmaster questioned Lockhart as to what had happened. Lockhart claimed that a student, Harry Potter, attacked him for no reason. He claimed that the child objected to the detention he had been assigned due to fighting and when Lockhart attempted to enforce the detention Mr. Potter attacked him. He seemed worried about the attack becoming public knowledge which I realize now must have been due to the fear of discovery. At the time both myself and Albus believed that it was embarrassment over being bested by a second year student. Albus asked a great many questions as to the demeanour of the child not only during the detention but at other times during the year. Just before Madame Bones arrived Albus expressed a hope that Lockhart would testify during any subsequent custody hearings concerning Mr. Potter."
"Custody? I fail to see in what way a custody hearing would have been justified, even had Mr. Potter attacked Lockhart without cause," Lady Longbottom interrupted.
"Albus expressed concern, or so he said," Minerva now had her doubts, "as to the suitability of the child’s grandfather to properly raise him. He said that with the child’s behaviour and choice of friends it was obvious the grandfather was failing to steer Mr. Potter in the direction of the light. He was concerned that Mr. Potter would follow the dark side of magic and intended to use the attack on Lockhart in order to attempt to wrest custody from the grandfather, placing the child with a light family such as the Weasley’s."
"Were the Weasley’s mentioned by name or do you only use them as an example?" Lucius enquired.
"Albus mentioned them specifically."
"Did the Headmaster at any point examine Lockhart’s wand?"
"Did he question him under veritaserum or require an oath to his honesty?"
"And when Madame Bones arrived?"
Minerva quickly and succinctly explained the events after the arrival of Madame Bones. This ended her questioning and she was dismissed by the Governors with the admonishment that she was not to discuss the meeting with anybody, including the Headmaster.
Lucius wanted nothing more than to call for a vote right away. He was, understandably in his mind, concerned that Dumbledore would manage to talk his way out of any trouble resulting from the attack. However, he realized the other Governors would not be willing to condemn the man without hearing from him first. Lucius would just have to do his best to ensure Albus was unable to charm the members.
Albus entered the room with no idea of the contents of Minerva’s interview. He had opened his mouth to ask a question but his deputy had breezed past him before he could form a word. Clearly he would gain nothing from her. It saddened him that even an old friend like Minerva apparently blamed him for Lockhart’s actions. How was he to know the man was a paedophile?
"Good morning Albus," the Board of Governors chairman greeted the elderly wizard.
"Good morning Governors," Albus sat down. "Before you ask your questions I wish to apologize to this body for allowing myself to be fooled by Gilderoy Lockhart. True he fooled many but as the head of this school I should not have allowed myself to become one of those many."
Lucius smirked. There had been great debate, and many bets, over the years as to which house Dumbledore had belonged to in school. Nobody had come close to discovering the answer but Lucius had been convinced, now more than ever, that Dumbledore had indeed been a Slytherin. He could see many of the members looking impressed by the man’s words.
"That is all very well Headmaster but for myself I wonder why you simply accepted the man’s word for the circumstances which saw him attacked by a student?" Lucius’ question quickly reminded the board of what they had learned from Professor McGonagall.
Albus sighed. "I do wish I had asked more questions but honestly it never occurred to me that any wizard could perform such dark acts upon a child. I suppose it is a fault of following the light, it is simply impossible for me to imagine the lengths dark wizards will go to in pursuit of their goals." With those few words the Headmaster skilfully and with seeming innocence reminded the board of Malfoy’s former associations. He was confident they would not be so quick to listen to the man now.
"While it is regrettable that you lack imagination Headmaster I must wonder, indeed we all wonder why you so readily accepted the man’s word? Did you not think to examine his wand for spell work? Or perhaps a few drops of veritaserum in his tea," Lady Longbottom interrupted. While no fan of Malfoy she would not allow Albus to derail the legitimate questioning in an effort to deflect attention from his own failings.
"He is, was a teacher and a respectable member of society I could not in good conscience slip veritaserum into his tea," Albus was shocked by the suggestion.
"You make a good point Albus, but what of examining his wand?" Lady Longbottom persisted. The rest of the board seemed content to allow her to direct the questioning.
"I was so shocked to hear that a child, especially Harry Potter, could attack a teacher that I unfortunately forgot proper procedures."
"Anybody might," a board member was heard to mutter.
"Be that as it may, this isn’t the first time you have neglected to fulfil your duties as Headmaster," Lucius put in.
"It was my understanding today’s questions would concern the events surrounding Mr. Lockhart," Albus demurred.
"The accusations against Lockhart are only the last in a long list of poor decisions and judgements on your part Headmaster. In only the past two years we have had a teacher possessed by the Dark Lord, the hiding of an important artefact within the school guarded by many dangerous creatures and traps. This was followed by the attacks of this year by Slytherin’s basilisk and another artefact of the Dark Lord finding its way into our school," Lucius subtlety reminded the old man that Hogwarts was not his personal fiefdom. "How do you explain these failings Headmaster?"
"As you are all aware Voldemort was a very powerful and intelligent wizard, fooling many during his lifetime. Thinking, as most did, that he was truly gone it never occurred to me that he might possess a teacher. I will admit I shouldn’t have brought the stone into the school but my intentions were pure." Purely self-serving but the board didn’t need to know that.
"You seem to be quite easily fooled Albus," Lady Longbottom intoned.
"Aren’t we all at times?"
Lucius could read the faces of the other members as easily as a book. If he didn’t do something they would no doubt vote to allow the old man to remain in his current position. "Mr. Chairman," he addressed the head of the board, "I have here a letter my son received this morning."
"What bearing does your son’s correspondence have on these proceedings Lord Malfoy," the chairman asked.
"I hesitated to make the contents known but I feel that it would be best if the board were to hear the letter. It does directly affect our decision as to the Headmaster’s position with this school."
A vote was taken and while not unanimous the majority agreed to hear the letter. Albus had a very bad feeling about this letter.
"Dear Draco," Lucius read. "I am safe at home for now. My grandfather told me that there was to be a board meeting today. Both he and I hope the board will realize that Albus Dumbledore, former hero of the Wizarding world though he may be, is no longer qualified to serve as Headmaster of the Wizarding world’s most prestigious school. If indeed he ever held such qualifications."
Lucius smiled as Albus winced over the wording of the letter. He wondered if it were the former hero section or the questioning of his qualifications that hurt the most.
"I hesitate to use my own position as the boy-who-lived. I wouldn’t want to fall into the trap which ensnared our Headmaster. However, I cannot allow the board to issue a decision without first hearing of at least one result should they choose to retain Dumbledore as Headmaster. Please let your father know that should Dumbledore remain as Headmaster I will not return to Hogwarts as a student. I will, in the interest of avoiding rumours, be forced to contact the press in order to give my reasons for leaving Hogwarts. Thank you Draco for passing my message to your father and I hope to see you soon. Your friend, Harry Potter."
Albus was seething. How dare that little brat use his fame in this way? "Esteemed Governors surely you wouldn’t allow a student, no matter how famous, to dictate your decisions?" If he knew these people like he thought he did they would bristle at the question. The result of their indignation might well be his retaining his position as Headmaster of Hogwarts.
"I believe it is time for a vote," Lucius said, making a motion. The motion was seconded and Albus was asked to leave the room. Luckily, Malfoy thought, Dumbledore’s final question to the board wasn’t enough to override their fear of the publicity and fallout that would occur should Harry Potter leave Hogwarts citing Albus’ continued employment as the reason. It was with a unanimous vote that the Hogwarts Board of Governors reached the decision to terminate Dumbledore’s contract with the school.
The suggestion that Minerva McGonagall be elevated to head was easily defeated. After all the woman had been more than willing to go along with Dumbledore’s plans prior to Madame Bones’ arrival. Clearly she was too enthralled by Albus’ reputation and aura of power to go against him. In a surprising move the board voted to approve as new Headmaster Lucius Malfoy himself. A few had objected on the grounds that he had been a Death Eater. Lucius quickly reminded them he had been imperioused and as further proof bared his arms to the members, showing smooth, unblemished skin. This put a halt to objections on those grounds and he was easily voted in. It was decided that McGonagall would be given the option of continuing as deputy. Should she refuse the position would be offered to Filius Flitwick.
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Chapter 36: Chapter 36
4th March, 1993
Hogwarts Headmaster’s Private Quarters
"I don’t blame the board for firing you Albus but to replace you with Lucius Malfoy," Minerva fumed to her former boss.
"Yes, the position should have been your’s," Albus commiserated.
Minerva harrumphed, men! "I actually rather prefer my current position as it allows me to continue teaching. No jealousy isn’t the issue Albus; the issue is that we now have a Death Eater in charge of the school. Merlin only knows what sort of curriculum he will institute."
"According to Lady Longbottom he carries no dark mark."
"He’s found a means of hiding it then," Minerva scoffed.
"That is likely so, which is why I hope you’ll continue as deputy. There should be at least one person close enough to the man to prevent any attempts to employ inappropriate classes or discriminate against our muggleborn students."
"Of course I will Albus. I’ve already informed the board of my decision." Really did the man have no sense at all?
"Good, very good," Albus distractedly replied while directing his belongings into a trunk. "I shall keep close contact with the governors and when Malfoy inevitably attempts a move too far I will be available to return."
Minerva stared at the elderly wizard. Had he completely lost the plot? If Malfoy did make an error that resulted in him being replaced the board would never agree to reinstate Dumbledore. There had been too many poor decisions in recent years, decisions that had endangered the student body as well as serving to embarrass the school governors. There were some on the board who would forgive him for endangering the school but would never forgive the embarrassment they themselves had suffered.
"Perhaps it is time to allow Cornelius to pass some of his educational decrees," Albus mused. If he couldn’t control the school directly he would just have to find another means.
If looks alone could kill Minerva would have been guilty of murder in that moment. Angry though she might be she kept quiet; after all she was more familiar with the Hogwarts charter than either Dumbledore or Fudge. There were specific protections in place for a situation in which the government attempted to gain control of the school. The members of the Wizengamot would ignore their history at their peril. Still she didn’t have any desire to deal with the situation, perhaps it would be a good idea to remind some of the Wizengamot members of the consequences should they attempt a takeover.
"Well my dear I suppose this is good-bye for now," Albus said.
"Yes I suppose it is," Minerva concurred. "I’ll walk you out Albus."
"Oh there’s no need for that my dear. I do know the way after all," he smiled benignly.
"That’s as may be but I’m afraid the rules are quite clear. If at any time the Hogwarts Headmaster is dismissed from service he or she must be escorted by the new head or the deputy from the castle. I’m sorry Albus but I have no choice in the matter." Minerva didn’t really mind the rule as at this point she wasn’t certain her old friend could be trusted to leave without incident.
Albus sighed. "Very well, shall we go then?"
5th March, 1993
Hogwarts Great Hall
Lucius sat in the centre seat at the staff table, though his seat was no different from those of the other staff. Really that golden throne Dumbledore had insisted upon should have told them much of his priorities. Lucius had always been amazed that none had ever suspected, publicly at any rate, that Dumbledore’s motives might be less than pure. What did a leader of the light need with the ostentatious trappings of power after all? He waited patiently for the hall to fill, an announcement having been made in the common rooms instructing all students to arrive in the Great Hall by 7:30 a.m. for an important announcement.
At the appointed time, Lucius stood and casting sonorous upon himself began to speak. "Are there any students missing from the hall?"
"Harry Potter," several voices called out.
"I am aware of Mr. Potter’s absence, any others?" He waited several minutes, giving the students a chance to inform him if any other students were absent. "Very well. For those who are unaware, my name is Lord Lucius Malfoy. As of late last night I am the new Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy." There were shocked gasps and excited whispers, Lucius let them continue for several minutes before firing off a noisemaker. There were several incredulous remarks concerning his former status as a death eater, he wisely ignored them. "It was the decision of the Board of Governors that Headmaster Dumbledore should step down. For the remainder of this year no changes will be made aside from one. I will tolerate no bullying or other misbehaviour from any member of the student body," he gave his son a hard look, "or staff." He knew Draco wouldn’t bully others but wanted the other students to understand that he included his son in his edict. "Should any student be the victim of an attack by fellow students or staff he or she should inform their head of house who will in turn inform me and the situation will be dealt with. Should the attacker be your head of house inform me directly." With that Lucius sat down allowing breakfast to begin.
"Can we assume you intend changes next year?" Minerva asked.
"I have some ideas, but you needn’t worry Professor McGonagall I am certain you will like them," Lucius smirked; he looked forward to the shock the Scotswoman would soon experience. "I believe at this time we should focus on finding a new Defence professor, though I can take on the class for the time being."
"You?" Minerva couldn’t hide her shock or concern. She could imagine what sort of dark spells Malfoy might teach the students.
"Is there some reason I shouldn’t?"
"The Headmaster doesn’t ordinarily teach classes," Minerva weakly objected.
"But the students must be taught. It isn’t right that their education suffer due to the mistakes of the previous Headmaster," Lucius easily countered. No further conversation was made but before the students could leave the new Headmaster stood once more. "One final announcement before you leave for classes. Until a new professor is found I will be taking over the defence classes. However, as I need to familiarize myself with the curriculum defence classes are cancelled for the remainder of the week." He paused to allow the cheering to die down. "Do not assume this is meant as permission to waste time in trivial pursuits. All students are expected to quietly study defensive spells in the library or their common rooms during their regularly scheduled defence class. Dismissed."
5th March, 1993
Mount Street Flat
"Yes?" Mrs. Tolliver greeted the man at the door, hiding her discomfort. By his manner of dress she was certain he was a wizard, she had after all these years become used to the idea of magic, but she would never be truly comfortable around magicals.
"My name is Lord Malfoy, would Mr. Hebblethwaite be available?" Lucius politely inquired of the muggle servant.
"This way sir," she replied. Quietly leading the way to the front parlour she announced him to the room.
"Lord Malfoy, this is a surprise," Ginger greeted the blond, standing to shake his hand. "Please have a seat," he offered. "Would you care for tea?"
"No thank you Mr. Hebblethwaite," Lucius declined as he sat in a comfortable looking chair.
"What can I do for you Lord Malfoy?" Ginger asked after making introductions.
"Have you heard the news concerning Dumbledore?"
"Yes, Amelia contacted us this morning. She also told us you are the new Headmaster, congratulations."
"Yes well whether it is a coup or a punishment remains to be seen," Lucius facetiously returned. "I wished to ask if young Mr. Potter will be returning to Hogwarts at this time."
"I’m not certain it’s a good idea. He was quite upset by the article in the Prophet and I will admit to concerns for his safety and peace should he return to your school."
"Lockhart is of course long gone and I myself will be stepping into the post of defence professor until a suitable replacement can be found. As for the students I have made it quite clear that I will not tolerate bullying or any other types of attacks from students or teachers."
"That is reassuring Lord Malfoy but we both know that children can be cruel nor can the professors always be present," Ginger countered. The others nodded in agreement though they said nothing. A man such as Lord Malfoy would undoubtedly give more credence to the words of a parent or guardian than to simple friends of the family.
"Ah yes, but at Hogwarts we have an added watchdog as it were in the form of the portraits and ghosts. There are very few places within Hogwarts a student could hide without at least one person being aware of their activities and location."
"That does put a different spin on the thing. But there is also the question of the staff. How do you intend to insure that none of the present staff or any future staff will attempt to harm the students?"
"By a couple of simple expedients," Lucius smiled. "I have no idea why Dumbledore never did this; honestly one would think he wanted the students endangered. My plan is to insist upon a few pertinent questions while the prospective or current teacher is under the influence of veritaserum. If satisfactory answers are given then the teacher will be required to take a magical oath to the effect that they will never knowingly through action or inaction allow a student to be harmed, physically, mentally, emotionally or magically. Will this satisfy you Mr. Hebblethwaite?" Lucius hoped it would be enough; it wouldn’t do to lose the boy-who-lived to another school not to mention his son would make his life miserable if Harry refused to return.
Ginger glanced at his friends, seeking their opinions. Biggles summed their thoughts up nicely.
"You can’t ask more of the man than that laddie. I believe at this point the decision should lie with our Harry."
"I’ll just go fetch him then." Ginger stood and excusing himself he left, returning a moment later with Harry by his side.
"Hello Lord Malfoy," Harry greeted. "Is Draco alright?"
"Draco is perfectly fine Harry, though he misses you of course," Lucius smiled. In short order he explained to the child his reason for his visit.
"What sort of questions will you ask?" Harry enquired.
"A very good question Harry, I can see why you were placed in Ravenclaw. The teachers will be asked if they have ever harmed a child physically or verbally to begin with. They will also be asked if they have ever touched a child in an inappropriate manner."
"Excuse me sir, but what if they don’t think they did anything inappropriate?" Harry asked. He was sure if asked the Dursleys would have seen nothing wrong with the way they treated him when he was young. He didn’t know if Lockhart would think what he did was wrong or not.
"That is a good point; I will rephrase the question in a way that will leave no doubt as to what I am asking. The final two questions will be if they have ever behaved towards a child in a manner that society would consider wrong and if they ever intend to do so. If they answer the questions correctly they will still be required to take a magical oath. I will not have another Lockhart in Hogwarts."
"And you’ll be asking these questions of the teachers that already work at Hogwarts?" Though none had ever hurt him or made him think they would, after Lockhart it was natural that Harry was concerned.
"Absolutely and I will have Professor McGonagall, as deputy ask the same questions of myself. I will of course take the oath as well. There will be no exceptions. I will even include Hagrid and Filch in the interrogations; they cannot of course take a magically binding oath."
"What do you think Grandfather?" Harry now turned his attention to the residents of Mount Street.
"I think you should return only if you want to."
"I don’t really want to leave my friends and any school would have heard about Lockhart so I would either need to be home schooled or deal with the rumours," was Harry’s opinion.
"That is very true laddie," Biggles said while the others simply nodded in agreement.
"I will return to Hogwarts then," Harry decided. "Will I need to return with you Lord Malfoy?"
"You may or you can return later by flooing to Professor Flitwick’s office."
Harry chewed his lip, "I think I’d like to floo." He didn’t want to insult Draco’s father but he didn’t know him, not really, and the idea of being alone with a man unknown to him sent tendrils of dread down his spine.
"Very well." Lucius stood, "Thank you for returning Harry. I quite dreaded telling Draco I couldn’t convince you to return," he winked.
Harry grinned. "Glad I could help sir."
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Chapter 37: Chapter 37
5th March, 1993
Mount Street Flat
"Are you quite certain you wish to return today laddie?" Ginger asked. If he were truthful he would prefer to keep his grandson at home permanently.
"No, but it won’t get any easier," Harry quietly replied. He knew his grandfather and the others would happily let him stay home. He could even be schooled at home but if he did that it would make their long-term plans more difficult. He had never asked for the fame and given a choice would have preferred living parents but this was the life he had. The unwanted fame should at least be useful for something.
"Harry makes a good point," Algy put in.
"Absolutely," Bertie agreed.
Ginger looked to Biggles but all he received was a raised eyebrow. "If you have any trouble..."
"I’ll inform a teacher or the headmaster," Harry dutifully completed the sentence.
"And if it is serious?"
"I’ll use my emergency portkey or the nearest floo," Harry promised. He had been embarrassed when he had realized, upon calming down, that he had completely forgotten about the portkey when trying to escape Lockhart’s office.
"Good lad," Ginger ruffled the boy’s hair.
"Grandfather," Harry scowled as he tried to straighten his hair as much as was possible. At the sound of his grandfather’s chuckle the boy’s scowl grew. "I should go I guess." Harry’s eyes travelled from the fireplace and around the parlour. He wanted to return to his friends but he wanted to stay here as well.
"It isn’t too late to change your mind laddie," Biggles said, noting the child’s reluctance.
Harry grinned, "But Hermione knows I’m coming she’ll be quite put out if I don’t go now."
"Too right old boy mustn’t upset the ladies," Bertie advised while polishing his monocle.
"Right," Harry blushed, and on that note he tossed the floo powder into the fire.
Biggles laid a hand on Ginger’s shoulder as the flames returned to normal. "He’ll be alright laddie," he assured the younger man.
"Of course he will," Ginger agreed his voice suspiciously thick.
Professor Flitwick’s office
"Welcome back Mr. Potter," the small professor greeted.
Harry startled, surprised, though he shouldn’t have been, by the professor’s voice. "Thank you sir," he mumbled. He took a sudden step back as his head of house’s wand appeared in his hand.
Chagrined, Flitwick lowered the wand to his side. "I apologize Mr. Potter; I didn’t intend to frighten you."
"Of course I did and understandably so. It was only my intent to clean the soot from your clothes," Filius added in explanation.
Harry blushed giving a nod of permission. "Thank you sir."
"You’re welcome Mr. Potter," Filius smiled. Turning serious he put his wand away. "I am sorry for what you were forced to experience Harry."
"It wasn’t your fault sir."
"Still as an educator I am mortified by a so-called colleague’s behaviour, as a man I am appalled at the depravity visited upon any child."
Harry shifted uncomfortably his eyes focused on the floor.
Seeing the child’s discomfort Filius chose to drop the subject. "I suppose you are anxious to see your friends, hmm?" he smiled.
"Yes sir," Harry smiled, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He was anxious to see Draco and Hermione, the other students he was less certain of.
"Well then let us return you to your common room." Opening the door Flitwick led the way towards the Ravenclaw tower. They walked in silence, neither quite knowing what to say to the other.
Harry had thought he would be glad when they reached the common room door. Now they were here he found the opposite to be true. What sort of reception would he find beyond the door? Would his fellow Ravenclaws think badly of him? Would they think he was a freak? He took a step back, thinking this had been a mistake. It was at this moment the door opened. Harry saw Professor
Flitwick eyeing him in concern as he stood silhouetted in the open doorway. Squaring his shoulders Harry took a step forward and another until he was stepping through the opening and into the common room.
"Harry!" the excited shriek his only warning before a bushy haired missile slammed into him, arms wrapping tightly around him.
"Mione," his voice smothered by the girl’s voluminous hair. Unconsciously he gripped her tightly, drinking in the strength she freely offered. A hand on his shoulder drew his attention; reluctantly he stepped away from Hermione, turning his head to the side. "Draco," he smiled.
"Alright Harry?" Draco shifted uncomfortably. What did one say in such a moment?
Harry nodded. "Your father came to see me."
"Did he?" Draco raised one eyebrow.
"I think he wanted to be sure I would return to Hogwarts. He told me some of his plans to ensure there are no further problems with the staff," Harry explained. Leaning closer he whispered to the other boy. "Is he any good at defence?"
Draco laughed, "He could have got a mastery."
"Mr. Potter, um Harry, could I speak to you?"
Harry turned to see a third year boy standing before him, nervously wringing his hands. It took several seconds to recall the boy’s name. "Yes Mr. Carmichael?"
"Eddie then," Harry acceded to the boy’s wishes. He was peripherally aware of most of Ravenclaw house arranged throughout the room. Some watched them openly, others pretended to study or play games but it was obvious that the whole of Ravenclaw was interested in the scene taking place near the door.
"I," Eddie licked his lips. "I just wanted to thank you."
Harry was taken aback, a fact clearly seen on his face. "Thank me?"
"Yes," Eddie confirmed. "You see I was supposed to have detention with him tonight," he uncomfortably explained. "If you hadn’t gone to Madame Bones I might have been next." He took Harry’s hand in his own, shaking it warmly. "I, no we all, owe you a debt of gratitude Harry. If you ever need anything you just let me know."
"Um, okay," Harry stuttered, his face rapidly turning red. Nothing in his upbringing had prepared him for a situation like this.
Eddie’s move acted as a signal and soon more and more children were approaching Harry, thanking him for his part in stopping Lockhart. As he stood there, the centre of attention, the young boy, hero of the Wizarding world, began to understand why his grandfather and the others became uncomfortable whenever some magazine or newspaper wanted to interview them.
"Alright everybody that’s enough," Hermione called some time later. She could see Harry was becoming overwhelmed with the attention. "Harry does have class tomorrow and needs to be caught up." With this explanation Hermione grabbed Harry’s hand, who flashed a grateful smile her way, and with Draco on his other side they led him to one of the small study rooms off the common room.
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Chapter 38: Chapter 38
19th June, 1993
Kings Cross Station
Harry made his way off the train, trunk in tow. He had sent Hedwig to the flat ahead of him. There really was no reason the owl should endure the discomfort of a long train ride confined in her cage.
"Do you see them?" Hermione asked from beside him.
"Not yet...oh wait, there they are," he indicated the direction with his head. Leading the way he and Hermione made their way to where their guardians stood waiting. Along the way goodbyes were called to various friends in passing. The most important goodbye had been said at Hogwarts. With his father being the new Headmaster, Draco had opted to remain at the school rather than riding the train back to London. Neither of his friends blamed him, it was a long journey that most would skip if given the choice.
"Have everything laddie?" Biggles asked as the children joined the group.
Harry nodded. He turned to Hermione’s parents. "Will you be joining us for the feast Mrs. Tolliver has prepared?"
"What makes you so certain there’s a feast?" Algy teased.
Harry eyed the man as if to ask if he were seriously attempting to tease him. "When I returned for Christmas first year Mrs. Tolliver prepared a welcoming feast. Then again at the end of first year, Christmas hols this year past, not to mention every time one of you is gone for more than a day. The only way I see Mrs. Tolliver not preparing a feast is if you let her go or she’s in hospital." Harry’s eyebrow went up. "You would have told me was she in hospital and I don’t suppose Biggles would allow you to send her away, therefore a feast shall occur."
The men laughed heartily, Algy should have known better than to make the attempt. Harry had taken to the study of logic like a duck to water, he wouldn’t be easily fooled.
"How was the remainder of your year?" Ginger asked once the family were ensconced in the car. Harry hadn’t mentioned any problems in his letters home but it would be like the child to keep minor issues to himself rather than risk upsetting any of them.
Harry smiled, even after years with his new family he still felt a warm glow at every show of concern. "It was fine Grandfather."
"No problems then?"
"Not to speak of," Harry hedged.
"Speak of them anyway," Ginger firmly suggested.
Harry sighed. "Headmaster Malfoy made it very clear that he would tolerate no bullying, but there are always those who must test the waters."
"Too right," Bertie agreed from Harry’s other side. In the front seat Algy and Biggles were nodding their agreement.
"There were two small incidents in which some students thought they’d make some unpleasant remarks towards me. The first time a prefect happened along and he took points as well as reporting the offending students to their head of house. I suppose that made them angry."
"It was the same group each time?" Biggles asked.
"Yes sir," Harry confirmed. "The youngest Weasley boy and a couple of his friends. The second time they thought to corner me in a restroom. I suppose they thought it less likely they would be caught that way."
"Did they hurt you?" Ginger asked.
"No Grandfather, they only said things suggesting I had perhaps wanted attention from Lockhart," Harry shuddered at the memory.
"And why are we only just now hearing of this?"
"Because I didn’t want to worry you, especially since nothing more happened. They may have thought themselves safe but they hadn’t reckoned on the school ghosts. It was their own house ghost in fact who reported the goings on to the headmaster. Their punishment for the second incident was severe enough that none bothered me after that. So you see Grandfather there really wasn’t anything to tell."
Ginger harrumphed, clearly not convinced but as the children had been punished with no other incidents following he supposed he could let it go. Though a few words wouldn’t go amiss he decided. "Alright Harry, but from this point forward I expect to hear of any problems no matter how minor, understood?"
"Yes Grandfather," Harry obediently replied.
15th July, 1993
Cornelius Fudge made his way through the halls of Azkaban prison on his annual inspection. In his hand he carried a copy of that day’s Daily Prophet more for something to do with his hands than for any need of the paper.
"Sirius Black," Cornelius sneered. Of all the death eaters imprisoned at Azkaban this was the one who most disgusted him. He had hidden his allegiances well, pretending friendship with one of the scions of the light only to later betray him to his death.
"Hello Minister," Sirius rasped. "Is it time for our annual visit so soon?"
"It is an unpleasant duty I, as Minister, must perform. As is my duty I must ask if there is anything you require?"
"The paper?" Cornelius repeated, clearly confused.
"I miss doing the crossword," Sirius clarified.
Cornelius glanced down at the paper in his hand. He couldn’t see any harm in the request and as it would allow him to move on he was glad to fulfil said request. Tossing the paper through the bars he quickly moved on.
Laughing Sirius grabbed up the paper. Winding up the Minister was always entertaining and in the hell on earth that was Azkaban he would take any form of entertainment he could find. Opening the paper he sat back, intending to savour every word within the Prophet, lies though many of them might be. His plans stopped the moment he spotted the picture gracing the front page of the publication. "Peter," he whispered. As he read through the article Sirius could feel his rage building. Not only was the rat free while he rotted in hell for a crime he never committed but the traitorous Pettigrew was at Hogwarts. The Weasley boy on whose shoulder Peter sat, was said to be in Gryffindor, no real surprise there, but Sirius knew that meant Pettigrew was not only in Hogwarts with his godson but must be in the same dorm as well. This couldn’t be allowed to continue. He would have to find a way to escape Azkaban; Harry must be protected. He had failed twelve years earlier, he wouldn’t fail again.
30th July, 1993
Mount Street Flat
Amelia had cursed roundly when told the news. Her first order of business had of course been to begin the nationwide manhunt. A suitable story was fed to the muggle news people giving Black no place to hide. Now she stood outside the home of Harry Potter waiting for a response to her knock. She truly hated imparting this news but at the very least Harry’s guardians needed to be aware of the danger he was in. Amelia would leave it to them what, if anything, the child should be told.
"Hello Mrs. Tolliver, is Mr. Hebblethwaite in?" Amelia politely, if somewhat formally enquired.
Mrs. Tolliver confirmed Ginger was at home. Silently she led the way to the parlour where the four men could be found engaged in various activities.
"Amelia, what a pleasant surprise," Ginger greeted the witch. "Mrs. Tolliver could you bring tea please?"
"Yes sir," Mrs. Tolliver nodded.
Amelia glanced towards the hall. "Is Harry at home?"
"As a matter of fact he’s visiting Hermione. Is there something you need to speak to him about?" Ginger asked with some concern. There hadn’t been any trouble that he was aware of. The trial for Lockhart had been a simple affair and the man had been quickly sentenced. "Lockhart hasn’t escaped has he?"
"No, Lockhart is still safely in his cell." Amelia quickly assured the worried grandfather.
There was, however, tenseness in the woman’s posture that Biggles quickly picked up on. "There is a threat to Harry though," he calmly stated.
"What is it?" Ginger anxiously asked. If Biggles had determined there was a threat then there was a threat.
"You remember that I told you Lily and James were betrayed to Voldemort?" Amelia asked.
"The man who betrayed them had been thought to be a good friend of James, a man by the name of Sirius Black. I’m sorry to tell you that sometime during the night he escaped from Azkaban."
Ginger paled. "You think he’ll come after Harry?" he asked in a voice that trembled.
"Easy laddie," Biggles laid a hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
"During the past two weeks the guards have heard him muttering in his sleep the phrase he’s at Hogwarts. I can think of no other person at Hogwarts Black would have reason to seek out."
"Harry will have to remain home this year," Ginger quickly decided.
"Is there any chance this Black could discover where Harry lives?" Biggles asked.
"While the exact address isn’t known to the general public there are ways in which he could find Harry here," Amelia admitted. "He wouldn’t be able to cross the wards without alerting me but that could well be enough time to do whatever it is he wishes."
"What about a ward that would prevent him entering?" Algy asked.
"The only ward I could place that would be certain to protect Harry would be the Fidelius but that would mean the child would need to remain within the wards at all times."
"That doesn’t seem fair, no by Jove. Why should young Harry become the prisoner when he has done nothing wrong," Bertie interjected.
"Bertie’s right laddie, you know he is."
"But it isn’t Bertie’s grandson who might be killed if he’s permitted to attend Hogwarts," Ginger snapped. Seeing the shocked and hurt look on his friend’s face Ginger was immediately contrite. "I’m sorry Bertie that was uncalled for. I know you care about Harry as much as I do."
"Quite alright old boy," Bertie waved off the apology. The words had hurt a bit but he could quite understand the fear which had influenced Ginger’s words.
"I can’t of course tell you what to do Ginger but Hogwarts might well be the safest place for Harry. The Ministry will of course do all we can to find Black before the beginning of the school year," Amelia assured him.
"What does the Ministry intend doing should Black still be on the loose come September?" Biggles asked.
"That is still being debated," Amelia scowled.
"There is something you don’t care for in the Ministry’s plans?" asked Algy.
Amelia sighed; sometimes these men were too sharp for comfort. "Our Minister wants to station dementors at the school, to protect the children, he claims."
"Dementors? Aren’t those the creatures that guard your prison?" Ginger asked.
"If that occurs Harry will definitely not return to Hogwarts," Ginger declared. He was reluctant to trust his grandson to the protections of Hogwarts with only Black to consider, add dementors to the mix and reluctance turned quickly to outright refusal.
Amelia smiled; she had told Fudge the decision would never be approved by worried parents. "Fortunately Lucius Malfoy agrees with you Ginger. I honestly had doubts about Malfoy’s appointment as Headmaster but he is proving to have been a good choice."
"So there will be no dementors?"
"Not at Hogwarts itself, no. If we are unable to dissuade Fudge I am afraid he will station them as near as he can to the school without placing them on the grounds."
"What does Dumbledore say about this?" Biggles asked. In spite of the Lockhart scandal the old man had been able to retain his seat as head of the Wizengamot, though the ICW had voted him out as Supreme Mugwump.
"He claims there is nothing he can do, though he is of course against the idea," Amelia sneered.
"I assume you don’t believe him."
"Not on your life. As head of the Wizengamot he could easily demand a vote on the proposal yet for some reason he refuses to do so. I can only assume he hopes for an accident which would result in Lucius Malfoy being forced out as Headmaster." Amelia was frankly disgusted with the so-called Leader of the Light. She couldn’t prove her suspicions of course but really no other reason made sense. Certainly he wouldn’t be so foolish as to think dementors in the vicinity of a school to be a good idea; at least she didn’t think he would.
"You still think I should send Harry to Hogwarts as usual?" Ginger glanced around the room.
"It seems as if it might be for the best, in spite of the dangers," was Bertie’s opinion. He couldn’t imagine the child being happy confined to the flat.
"The Headmaster can erect wards that will repel the dementors. Harry should remain safe from them as long as he remains on Hogwarts grounds," Amelia informed them.
"I suppose we should discuss it," Ginger finally conceded. "Do you have any other information on Black? A picture perhaps?"
"Yes," Amelia handed him an advanced copy of tomorrow’s Prophet. "This is why I came today. I didn’t want any of you to receive the news through the paper. The articles are surprisingly accurate, if a bit sensational. They will provide you with all of the background information you should need concerning Black. Will you tell Harry?"
"I think you should laddie," was Biggles’ opinion. The others quickly agreed with the man who had always been their leader.
"I hate to frighten him but he needs to be aware of his danger," Ginger reluctantly agreed.
Amelia stood, taking her leave of the men. Before leaving she promised to keep them up to date on the situation as it developed.
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Chapter 39: Chapter 39
30th July, 1993
Mount Street Flat
Ginger paced in front of the fireplace, considering and discarding various speeches as he contemplated how to tell his grandson this latest news. That the news came on the eve of Harry’s birthday only made it more difficult.
"You’ll wear a hole in the carpet soon laddie," Biggles chided.
"Hmmm?" Ginger looked up.
"Pacing won’t rid us of the trouble."
"No, I suppose it won’t," Ginger admitted. "I just don’t know how to tell him," he admitted as he sank into his seat.
"Tell me what Grandfather?" Harry asked, having come just in time to hear the last of the conversation. He supposed his grandfather could have been speaking of somebody else but that the him in question was Harry made the most sense.
"Harry, lad," Ginger looked up thoroughly surprised. "I thought you’d be at Hermione’s longer."
"Um, well," Harry looked down, scuffing his toes on the carpet.
The men exchanged amused glances. "Get caught playing a prank?" Ginger asked.
Harry blushed. "It was only a little prank and the prat deserved it," he defended.
"Language laddie," Biggles chided.
"Would we be right in assuming your victim had somehow wronged our Hermione?" Bertie asked.
"He called her a bucktoothed bookworm," Harry explained. "He said nobody really likes her, not even me. He made her cry, he had no right to do that," he hotly declared.
"No laddie he shouldn’t have behaved in such a way," Ginger couldn’t help agreeing.
"And what did you and Hermione do to teach him the error of his boorish ways?" Algy asked, with a grin. He doubted the Grangers were truly upset with either of the children but as adults they had to set a good example.
"Nothing much really."
"I doubt you were sent home because of nothing much," said Biggles.
"We didn’t know it was permanent dye."
"Permanent dye?" Ginger was almost afraid to know.
"The prank was simple enough, a bucket positioned over a door we knew the pr...boor would be coming through."
"An oldie but a goodie," Bertie chortled. A glare from Biggles quickly silenced him.
"But we added a little something extra to the water," Harry continued.
"The permanent dye," Algy guessed.
Harry nodded. "It was meant to turn him green as it was obvious he was only making fun of Mione out of jealousy. We didn’t know it was a permanent dye, we thought it was like food dye and it would come out with a few washings."
"Surely the boy won’t truly be green for the rest of his days?" Ginger asked.
"No Grandfather, but Mrs. Granger said it would take months to fade." He tilted his head to one side, maybe his grandfather could explain it. Mrs. Granger hadn’t been very receptive when asked. "Grandfather why do they call it a permanent dye if it isn’t really?"
"I’m not sure Harry. I suppose it’s meant to signify that it is long lasting as opposed to something that fades quickly."
"Anyway Mrs. Granger sent me home but she did promise that Mione will still be allowed to come to my birthday tomorrow, that is if I’m still having a party?" Harry hesitated in asking but thought he’d best make certain.
"It’s a bit late to cancel at this point but you will have to be punished laddie." Ginger hated to do so, considering the news he was about to impart. "We’ll discuss that later, right now there is something of greater importance we need to talk over." Holding out his arm, he motioned Harry to his side.
"What is it Grandfather?" Harry leaned against the older man’s side. "You’re not...you’re well aren’t you?" he fearfully asked.
Ginger startled. "Of course laddie, we’re all in fine health," he quickly assured the boy.
"Then what is it?"
As gently as possible Ginger related the news Amelia had brought them. Keeping his arm tight around his grandson he waited for the boy to respond. For several minutes nothing was said as Harry absorbed the news.
"I don’t understand, how could he pretend to be my dad’s friend?"
"I don’t understand it either laddie," Ginger admitted.
"But if they’d been friends since school he couldn’t have been pretending."
"We don’t know how long Black had been working for Voldemort. He did come from a dark family that was loyal to Voldemort," Biggles pointed out.
Harry gave him an incredulous look. He could hardly believe that none of the adults saw the issue. "Since he was eleven?"
The men exchanged sheepish looks. "Granted he didn’t likely begin that early but it still remains that he did eventually join Voldemort, according to Amelia, and betrayed your parents," Biggles said.
"And now she thinks he’ll come after me? But why should he?"
"You’ve read of dementors Harry?" Ginger asked. The boy nodded and Ginger went on. "Being around such creatures would drive the strongest of men to insanity. Black has been in their company for more than a decade, remember, there would be no guessing as to his motives at this point."
"Does this mean I won’t be attending Hogwarts this year?"
"I did consider keeping you home but the only way to keep you safe would also confine you to the flat. As Bertie rightfully pointed out, you shouldn’t be kept a prisoner when you’ve done nothing wrong. "
"So I can attend school with my friends?" Harry hopefully asked.
"Yes, but you will have to remain on Hogwarts grounds until Black is captured. It won’t be safe for you to visit Hogsmeade."
Harry frowned, he didn’t care for the restriction but neither did he wish to be killed by a madman. "I suppose I’ll just have to hope they catch him quickly then."
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Chapter 40: Chapter 40
1st September, 1993
Kings Cross Station Platform 9&3/4
"There seem to be a few more people this year by Jove," Bertie commented as they made their way onto the platform.
"Likely the Aurors that Amelia mentioned," Biggles reminded the others. Glancing about the platform it was easy to see that some of the people were wearing some sort of uniform. Amelia had told them as Black hadn’t been captured as of yet the Ministry had decided to place Aurors on the platform as well as on the train itself.
"It certainly is preferable to Fudge’s idea to have dementors escorting the train," said Algy.
Ginger shuddered. The thought of such creatures near a train filled with innocent children, his grandson amongst them, sent cold chills down his spine. "You’re not to go looking for Black laddie," he said. He didn’t really suppose the child would but it wouldn’t hurt to be sure he knew not to search the man out.
Harry gave his grandfather an affronted look. "Grandfather do I look like a Gryffindor?"
Ginger studied the boy, "Well you do resemble some pictures I’ve seen."
"Yes well my father might have been a Gryffindor but I doubt he was as foolish as the current batch seem to be."
"Surely they can’t be that bad," Biggles thought it likely a reaction to the Weasley boy more than anything else.
"No?" Harry asked. "In the two years I’ve attended I’ve seen several of them, from different years, rush into situations without even a rudimentary look about. They seem to have confused bravery with rashness."
"As interesting as this discussion is I believe our lad has a train to catch," Algy reminded.
"Right you are old boy."
Working together the men soon had Harry’s trunk stored in a compartment. By the time this task was completed, Hermione had joined them and they quickly gave her trunk the same treatment. Goodbyes were said and the adults retreated to the platform, leaving only once the train had left the station.
"I’m ever so relieved that Amelia assigned Aurors to the train," Hermione commented as the children settled into their seats.
"Yes, that was likely a wise idea," Draco commented.
Harry then proceeded to shock them both into momentary silence, "Much better than the Minister’s idea of dementors to guard the train." He had only learned of the proposal himself the previous evening.
Hermione regained her voice first. "That isn’t funny Harry."
"Do I look as if I’m joking Mione?"
"He seriously considered dementors?" Draco squeaked.
Harry nodded. "He wanted to station them at the school as well."
"Yes I know about that," Draco said. "I heard Father arguing with the man during the summer."
"Speaking of your father were the new classes his idea?" Hermione asked. She had been quite surprised to find a new class added to her schedule.
"Yes, after hearing about you from me and then meeting you he realized that the school could benefit from a class in Wizarding culture and law for the muggleborn students. All muggleborn years are required to take the class, though the older years won’t receive as much benefit as the younger as they won’t receive the class through all seven years."
"Yes I saw that in the letters. I think it quite a splendid idea," Hermione smiled. "I should have been quite lost had I not met Harry and been allowed to study with him prior to Hogwarts. I think there should be a similar class for purebloods to study the muggle world."
"Oh there will be. Father has set up such a class for all purebloods; they were informed in their letters. The difficulty was the halfbloods; some have grown up in the muggle world while some live in the Wizarding world."
"What did your father decide to do about that?" Harry asked.
"He decided that the most logical would be to assign them to the appropriate class depending on their living situations. Those raised in the Wizarding world will take the Muggle studies class while those raised in the muggle world will attend the Wizarding studies class."
"That makes sense."
"Yes, I thought so too."
Hogwarts Great Hall
Minerva McGonagall led the new first years into the Great Hall to be sorted. As she read out the names she kept a close eye on the new Headmaster. When the man had presented the new Wizarding studies class with the requirement for all muggleborns and halfbloods raised in the muggle world to attend she had been flabbergasted. Her shock had only increased when he then announced that all purebloods and wizard raised halfbloods would be required to attend the Muggle studies class. But when he had convinced the board to allow Remus Lupin to take the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor you could have knocked her over with a feather.
Glancing down the staff table she gave her old student a fond smile. That he was a werewolf was known to Malfoy, she supposed Snape had told him, she would never have expected him to hire a dark creature to teach at Hogwarts. Minerva was certain, in fact, that had Albus remained as headmaster and tried a similar move Malfoy would have fought him at every turn.
"Surely you aren’t suggesting Mr. Lupin is dangerous are you Professor McGonagall?" Malfoy had asked her when she voiced her shock at his appointment. "Why we have, as potions master, the very man who created the Wolfsbane potion. With such a renowned expert brewing the potion for Mr. Lupin I fail to see how he could be a danger to the students or staff."
"Of course I know Remus will be no danger with his potion," Minerva had agreed. "I was only surprised that you would willingly hire a dark creature as a teacher."
"I will admit to some trepidation but I have been re-examining some of my beliefs as of late. "
Minerva simply gave the man a look of utter disbelief.
"I will confess there is another motive to Lupin’s appointment," Lucius continued. "Though if he does well I will have no problem with continuing his employment."
"I knew you had to be up to something."
"It is really a matter of safety Minerva," Lucius smiled. "Lupin was friends with Black; I dare say he knows him better than any other living person. If anybody will have a chance at predicting what Black might do it will be Lupin."
It was this very argument that Malfoy presented to the board, gaining him the permission needed to make a supposed dangerous dark creature a professor. It wasn’t extremely common knowledge that Remus suffered from lycanthropy but there were a few on the board aware of his condition, forcing Malfoy to seek permission for the appointment.
Minerva had been certain that Malfoy would be making changes to the curriculum and staffing of Hogwarts. The only surprise had been in his choices. Aside from the aforementioned classes and the addition of Remus Lupin to staff, Malfoy had assigned Professor Binns as a sort of tutor to those who wished it while hiring a new History Professor. Minerva had to admit the choice of Nicholas Flamel was inspired. Why the man had actually lived through much of the history he would be teaching, giving him a unique perspective. Finally he had dismissed Trelawney from her position, stating that only one with an inherent ability as a seer could be taught anything of divination, making the class a waste of time. Regardless of the decisions made, ones Minerva whole-heartedly agreed with; she resolved to keep a close eye on the new Headmaster.
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Chapter 41: Chapter 41
15th September, 1993
Hogwarts Castle Grounds
From his hiding place Sirius Black, in his dog form, drank in the sight of his godson walking beside the lake. With the superior hearing of his animagus form Sirius had little trouble listening in on the conversation Harry was having with the girl beside him.
"What do you think of the Wizarding culture class Mione?" Harry was exempted from both of the required courses as having taken his lordship early meant he had to understand the culture of wizard kind. Having grown up as a muggle he had no need for the muggle studies class of course.
"Well in some ways it’s better than the private lessons we had from Amelia," Hermione admitted. "Don’t you dare tell her I said that Harry James Potter."
Harry chuckled, only a fool would argue with Hermione when she used that tone. "I wouldn’t dream of it. How is it better?"
"It’s funny really. You would think the more intimate lessons with Amelia would be better, more comprehensive."
"They weren’t?" Perhaps Harry should reconsider taking the Wizarding culture class.
"It isn’t that they weren’t, exactly. I think it is simply that Amelia was focused more on what you needed to know as the Head of an Ancient and Noble house whereas the class is covering a broader range of topics. I suppose you could say it is covering more of the everyday sort of things in the wizard culture not just the ones which apply to the noble houses."
Sirius growled low in his throat, he had been so fascinated by the topic of conversation he had nearly missed the approach of the Malfoy spawn, for he could be no other. Muscles bunching under matted black fur Sirius readied himself to attack if necessary.
"Harry, Hermione," Draco greeted.
"Draco," the two returned the greeting. "I was just asking Mione about the Wizarding culture class," Harry continued, "how are you finding the Muggle studies class?"
"It is much more interesting than I expected, no offence Hermione," Draco quickly apologized.
"None taken," Hermione smiled.
"I think it was quite brilliant of father to come up with these classes and to make them mandatory."
Sirius lay listening, had he been in human form his jaw would have come unhinged from the shock of what he was hearing. Not only was Draco being polite to a muggleborn but seemed to be on friendly terms with her. That had been shock enough but hearing that the elder Malfoy had come up with the idea of a Wizarding culture class but then to make both it and Muggle studies mandatory. It was one shock too many for the emaciated wizard who then proceeded to pass out, the bushes he hid in keeping him from view.
31st October, 1993
As the weeks passed the culture classes continued to do well. An unexpected side-benefit of the two classes was seen as the children from the different worlds began to ask each other for help in understanding some of the finer points. Lucius sat at the head table, watching the children enjoying the feast with a smile on his face. Had it really been this simple? How could any of them have thought the way to fix the problems of muggleborns in the magical world was to eradicate said muggleborns? They must have been insane to listen to the Dark Lord. It was only too bad that the adults of their world wouldn’t be able to benefit from similar instruction.
Wait, perhaps there could be a means. Lucius’ hand came unbidden to rest beneath his chin as his mind began to race with ideas. There were several things that could be tried but most were discarded as quickly as the thought struck him. The crinkling sound of paper drew his attention to the side where sat Professor Belby looking through today’s Prophet.
"Did you need the paper Headmaster?" Belby asked having noticed the man’s penetrating stare. He hoped not as this had been his first opportunity to read the paper himself today.
"What?" Lucius startled. "Oh, no," he waved the question away. "I was just thinking..." all of the professors were present; perhaps he should put it to them now. "What do you think, all of you that is," he indicated the entire table, "of having the Prophet publish articles on the Wizarding and Muggle culture classes on offer at Hogwarts?"
"To what end?" Minerva asked.
"I was just thinking that it is a shame the adults of our world can’t benefit from the classes," Lucius replied. "When I saw Professor Belby with the paper it occurred to me that perhaps they could, if we allowed the basic information from both classes to be printed in the paper. I see this as benefiting both the muggleborn and wizard reared of our world as they would learn more of each others cultures. Perhaps, had earlier generations had such knowledge various dark lords would never have found a foothold for their agendas?"
Minerva just kept her mouth from falling open in surprise. "I had never thought of the possibility," she admitted.
Lucius smiled. "To be honest Professor McGonagall neither had I. Had Draco not befriended a muggleborn and had that muggleborn not been knowledgeable of our culture I would likely still see such wizards and witches as inferior to purebloods. Luckily my son had the good fortune to meet and befriend Miss Granger with the result that I too met the child. It was this that caused my realization that the real problem of muggleborns entering our world is the lack of understanding on both sides for our respective cultures." He dabbed at the corners of his mouth with a napkin. "I will always prefer the Wizarding world but see now that the Muggle world is not without worth and are in some ways, dare I say it, our superiors."
Minerva gulped her pumpkin juice, desperately wishing it were something stronger. If somebody had told her a year ago, nae, a few months agone, that Lucius Malfoy would say such a thing she would have suggested they hie themselves to St. Mungos for a thorough check-up with a Mind Healer. She was loathe to admit it but perhaps Albus being sacked and Lucius replacing him would become a boon for their society as a whole. After all was it not the parents and educators who shaped the future through the lessons imparted to the children?
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Chapter 42: Chapter 42
8th November, 1993
Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom
Harry smiled to see Professor Lupin returned, though he didn’t look as if he were entirely well just yet. Draco’s father had done a wonderful job as substitute during the Professor’s illness but all of the students had become quite fond of the soft spoken Lupin and had been quite worried about him. This was the second time their teacher had been taken ill; perhaps he had a chronic condition? It was none of Harry’s business of course but he resolved to keep a close eye on the man in case he became ill during class.
"Good morning class," Remus greeted his class of Ravenclaw and Gryffindor third years. He smiled softly as the students returned the greeting. "I have a bit of an unusual class planned for today. If you will all gather your things and follow me please."
After the students were lined up Remus led them from the classroom and through the corridors to another room; opening the door he motioned them inside what was clearly the staff room. "I’m sure you’re all wondering why we are in the staff room today." A chorus of yeses confirmed his supposition. "During the weekend Mr. Filch discovered a creature that can be quite difficult to defeat. The creature I speak of is classified as dark and coincidentally prefers to live in dark spaces. They are difficult to defeat because they feed on fear and will take on the appearance of your greatest fear providing it with the food it prefers. Many people in fact simply move house rather than continue dealing with the creatures. Now can anybody guess what creature I am speaking of?"
Several hands went up, not surprising most of them belonged to Ravenclaw students. The Professor called upon Hermione for the answer.
"Given the description you provided Professor I think it most likely that you refer to a Boggart," Hermione confidently replied.
"Very good Miss Granger, take 5 points for Ravenclaw," Remus praised the girl. "Now does anybody know the spell to render a Boggart harmless?" This time no hands were raised. "No? Well then I shall tell you shall I? The trick is to transform your Boggart into something amusing rather than frightening. We do this by imagining it in a humorous form while incanting the spell Riddikulus." Showing them the wand movement he had the class repeat the spell several times until he was certain they had it.
"Very good, now who would like to go first?" Remus wasn’t surprised that there were no takers. He randomly chose Ron Weasley to try the spell first. Standing the boy in front of the cabinet from which could be heard many thumps and bumps as the Boggart tried to free itself, Remus quietly repeated the spell and stood back.
With a swish of his wand Remus opened the cabinet and in the next instant a giant spider emerged from the confines of its prison, advancing towards the Weasley boy in a menacing manner. Remus waited, ready to cast the spell himself should it become necessary. Just when he thought he would have to do so Ron seemed to find his courage.
"Riddikulus!" Ron shouted and the menacing spider now wore tap shoes upon its many feet. The moment the shoes appeared the Boggart spider began to tap dance, its legs becoming tangled with one another until the thing fell to the floor, bringing shouts of laughter from the children.
"Next," Remus called and another child stepped forward. Having seen for themselves how easy it was to defeat the creature the students were eager to have a try. In each instance Remus was prepared to take over should it become needed but so far each child had managed to defeat the Boggart on his or her own. As Harry neared the front of the line Remus tensed. He couldn’t guess, of course, what Harry’s fear might be but he thought it could well be Voldemort himself. It would certainly make sense. He readied himself to step in.
As Harry stepped to the front of the line the Boggart morphed into his grandfather, but this was a version of the man seen only in nightmares. Sneering down at him, Ginger looked at Harry with such revulsion and hatred that the child felt physically ill. He knew it wasn’t his grandfather but only a creature taking his shape and Harry tried to cast the spell that would end the Boggart’s power. Before he could it began to speak. "I don’t know why I ever took you in. You’re nothing but a worthless freak that should have been drowned at birth. I should take you back to the Dursley’s, they know how to deal with worthless freaks."
"No, no, please no," Harry pleaded tears falling from his eyes. Though the nightmare hadn’t occurred in years still it had the power to paralyze him with fear. For it was Harry’s greatest fear that one day his grandfather would reject him just as his other relatives had done. It was a fear that lived deep inside the boy, so deeply he himself hadn’t realized it still held power over him.
Remus shook himself from his shocked state and rushed forward. As he did the Boggart morphed into some sort of round object but before anybody could identify it Remus had cast the spell and the Boggart turned into a rapidly deflating balloon. Forcing it back into the cabinet, Remus locked the doors, once more containing the creature. "Class dismissed."
As the children began to file out, several looking back at Harry with obvious concern, Remus led the boy to the staff table and sat him down. "Alright Harry?" he gently asked.
Harry nodded stiffly, more through instinct than any real understanding of the question.
"Would you like to talk about it?"
Harry shuddered. "There isn’t anything to talk about Professor."
"No? That man is your grandfather?"
"Does he," Remus hesitated. He wasn’t certain he should continue but he had failed his old friends once in allowing Harry to be taken away. He had believed Dumbledore when he told him that Harry was safer in the muggle world and that it would be better if Remus had no contact with him. Knowing now that Harry had been treated badly by his relatives the Professor was determined not to make the same mistakes again. It had been this determination that allowed him to accept the position at Hogwarts in spite of his distrust of the elder Malfoy.
Remembering his vow to do right by Harry, he ploughed ahead. "Does he often yell at you? Or harm you in any way?"
"What?" Harry jumped up from his seat, backing away from his teacher. "Grandfather is the best man in the world. He saved me from the Dursleys, he would never hurt me."
"So you don’t fear the man?"
"No, of course not." Harry could hardly believe a Professor he had looked up to, thought to be intelligent, could prove to be so incredibly stupid. "Boggarts manifest our fears, correct?"
"I didn’t realize the fear was still there but I used to have nightmares when I first came to live with Grandfather. I thought he would tire of me or decide I really was a freak and would send me away. He wouldn’t of course but I was only a little boy and I didn’t know that," Harry explained.
Remus couldn’t hold back the deep sigh of relief. "I am very glad to hear that Harry. Not that you had such a fear of course but that it is only a fear connected to the Dursleys and not due to something your Grandfather has done." Remus offered the boy a small smile, he couldn’t help being glad when Harry returned it. "I suppose I should explain my reaction."
"You don’t have to."
"But I do Harry." Remus paused, gathering his thoughts. "You see I was a friend of your parents, we went to school together you see."
Harry tilted his head. "You’re Remy?"
Remus was surprised. "Where did you hear that name?"
"I found journals my parents kept shortly before I began Hogwarts. Both mentioned their friends and I remember the name Remy. That is you, isn’t it?"
"Yes Harry, that is me," Remus confirmed with a smile.
"In their journals they made you out to be a great friend so why haven’t I ever heard from you before?" Harry crossed his arms over his chest staring sternly at the Professor, his stance making clear he would not be put off with excuses or platitudes.
"I made a mistake Harry," Remus admitted. He went on to explain his great grief and his fear for the small child left an orphan. When Dumbledore told him it would be best for the child’s safety if he were to stay away he believed him.
"But it has been known for a while now that the Dursley’s mistreated me, clearly Dumbledore was wrong."
"Yes and I should probably, no I definitely should have attempted contact once I was aware of that." Remus dropped his head, his face colouring with shame and embarrassment. "I can only say Harry that children aren’t the only ones with fears."
Harry considered the man’s words carefully. He seemed sincerely remorseful and he had been friends with his parents. "Could you tell me about them, my parents I mean?"
Remus smiled, "I’d be happy to Harry."
9th November, 1993
Remus Lupin’s office
Remus sat at his desk grading papers. He and Harry had enjoyed a lovely conversation yesterday, talking until both were forced to stop; one had a class to attend, the other a class to teach. They had arranged to spend some time together on the weekend, getting to know one another again. A tentative knock on his office door drew his attention. "Come in."
"Professor, do you have a minute?" Ronald Weasley asked from just inside the door.
"Of course Mr. Weasley, what can I do for you?"
Ron wasn’t used to speaking to Professors outside of class, unless he was in trouble, and was therefore understandably nervous. But his pet was sick and needed help, Scabbers might not be much but he was the only pet Ron had. "I was wondering, you know about a lot of creatures, don’t you?"
"Are you having a problem with a homework assignment Mr. Weasley?"
"No, it’s not homework. Maybe I should go to Professor Hagrid; I mean I guess it’s more of something for a care of magical creatures Professor." Truthfully though the very large teacher, no matter how nice he seemed, scared him a little.
"Well since you’re already here why don’t you tell me what the problem is? Perhaps I’ll be able to help."
"It’s Scabbers," Ron blurted out.
Ron nodded. "He’s my pet rat and he’s been sick since we came home from Egypt. I thought maybe he caught something there but if he did I don’t know why he didn’t get sick when we were in Egypt. He is awfully old, maybe that’s all it is. Percy, that’s one of my brothers found him twelve years ago and he’s lived with us ever since. He was Percy’s until Mum and Dad got him an owl for making prefect and Percy gave me Scabbers." Ron was blushing as red as his hair by the time he had finished.
"Do you have Scabbers with you?" Remus was quite curious about this rat. It was very long lived, even for a magical rat. He therefore thought it likely that the rat was finally reaching the end of its life.
"Yes sir," Ron replied, drawing a small cage from behind his back. "I’ve had to keep him in his cage. Don’t want him running off and getting into something that might make him worse do I?"
"Very wise Mr. Weasley," Remus agreed. As he approached the cage he couldn’t help noticing the rat becoming more agitated.
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Chapter 43: Chapter 43
9th November, 1993
Hogwarts Defence Office
A foot from the cage Remus came to a sudden stop, staring hard at the rat within the cage. It looked like, but how could this rat be Peter when everybody knew Peter was dead? Casting lumos Remus moved a bit closer, examining the rat as closely as he could without removing it from the cage. He must have gasped for Ron spoke, breaking the strained silence.
"What is it Professor? Scabbers isn't going to die is he?"
Only if my suspicions prove out, Remus thought. He didn't say this, however, no need to alarm the child yet. "I don't believe Scabbers is suffering from anything fatal. I'm not sure exactly what is wrong with him though, would you mind if I kept him for a bit? I may need to consult with some of the other professors."
Ron glanced between his obviously upset rat and Professor Lupin. He didn't like the idea of leaving his pet behind when he was so agitated. On the other hand Ron wanted his pet's health to improve and he certainly had no idea what to do for the thing. "I guess that would be okay Professor, how long do you think it will take?"
"That's difficult to say Mr. Weasley but I shouldn't think it would take more than a day or two at most to determine your pet's difficulty."
"That should be alright then," Ron agreed. Without another word he handed the rat, cage and all, over to his teacher. "It'll be alright Scabbers, you'll see," he soothed the rat as he relinquished the cage. "You'll let me know when you've fixed him up?"
"Of course Mr. Weasley," Remus assured the boy. "Off with you now." The moment the child left the room Remus closed and locked the door. Though he knew the rat couldn't transform within the cage; that is if he was in fact Peter Pettigrew, Remus stunned the creature as a precaution before setting the cage on his desk.
Picking up the bowl of floo powder he tossed some into the fire, sticking his head into the flames after they turned green. "Professor McGonagall," he called.
Minerva looked up from the book she was reading. It wasn't often that she had the time for private pursuits and hated any interruptions. She deftly hid her irritation as she turned to the fire. She could only hope whatever the problem it would be quickly solved. "Yes Professor Lupin, what can I do for you?"
"Could you step through to my office please?"
"Of course." Minerva waited for Remus to move aside before flooing through to the defence office. If she was surprised to see her former student glaring at a small rat lying in a cage she hid it well. "What seems to be the problem Professor?"
Remus sighed. Where to begin? "I have a bit of a story to tell you Professor."
"And does your story involve this rat?"
"Yes, but it is a bit long if you would care to take a seat," Remus pulled out a chair for the older woman.
"Well I must say I'm curious." Minerva sat and patiently waited for Remus to gather his thoughts.
"You will know, of course, of my affliction," Remus began after several minutes had passed. At a nod from Minerva he continued. "I was very lucky, much more so than others of my kind. I had thought nothing better could ever happen to me when Headmaster Dumbledore arranged for me to attend Hogwarts, I was exceedingly grateful for the chance at an education. I never imagined, couldn't allow myself to think, that I might find friends here as well."
Minerva smiled sadly, she well remembered the friends Mr. Lupin had found at Hogwarts.
"I would have considered myself blessed to have found one friend; instead I found three of the best friends anybody could ever hope to have." Remus unashamedly brushed aside a stray tear as he thought of their fates. "What you didn't know, nobody knew, was the lengths they went to as my friends."
"What do you mean Remus?" Minerva's curiosity was growing with each word the man spoke.
"When James and the others found out about my condition I expected them to turn their backs on me. It is what most adults would do and we were only children. They surprised me, however, Sirius," Remus had trouble getting the name out, "asked why I should expect them to leave just because I had a furry little problem once a month." Remus paused here, needing to get himself under control. "The three of them began working immediately, researching ways to help me. Not surprisingly, given their determination, they found one. It was, frankly, an insane idea and only those boys could have managed it."
Minerva raised an eyebrow. "And what exactly did they manage Mr. Lupin?" she asked in her most stern manner.
"They became animagi," Remus replied, grinning as his old teacher's mouth fell open.
Minerva floundered, her mouth opening and closing of its own accord as she struggled to believe what Remus had told her. Three boys, not yet out of school, had managed to become animagi? That in itself was an unheard of accomplishment, that they had done so without instruction and survived the experience was nothing short of miraculous. Looking once more at the rat a sudden thought occurred to her, bringing her to her feet, wand in hand. "This rat, is it who I suspect?"
"I doubt that very much. You suspect he is Black?"
"Of course, who else?"
"Peter," was the simple answer.
"Pettigrew? But he's dead," Minerva was astonished, "isn't he?"
"I believed so, until a student brought me his pet rat."
Minerva directed a questioning look at her former student.
"To begin with this rat was found by the boy's older brother twelve years ago. I've never heard of a rat living so long, not even a magical one, have you?"
"No," Minerva directed her attention back to the rat, glaring hard.
"Secondly when I began to approach the cage the rat became quite agitated. This behaviour seemed curious but it was only when I was closer that I realized the creature looked familiar and then I saw that one of his toes is missing. You'll remember that all that was found of Peter was a finger. I didn't think of it at the time but I did wonder later why they found such a small piece of my friend when none of the other victims were so thoroughly obliterated?"
Minerva turned startled eyes to Remus, "But why should Peter hide in his animagus form all these years?"
"That is precisely what I am left wondering. What do you think we should do?"
"I think first we must determine if this rat is an animagi or a simple rat." Waving her wand Minerva removed the stunned rat from its cage and cast a spell that would force it to transform if it wasn't a rat. If it was a rat it would do it no harm. She wasn't overly surprised when the rat transformed into a short, fat, balding man. "Merlin, it's true," she whispered.
Seeing the rat Remus growled. There was no logical reason for Peter to hide like this or fake his death. Knowing now that Peter lived Remus' agile mind quickly made the connections which led to a horrifying conclusion. But if Sirius was innocent how could a trial have failed to uncover that fact?
"Calm down Remus," Minerva commanded. If they were to learn the truth then Peter must continue to live. "I think we must contact Amelia Bones and allow her to question Mr. Pettigrew."
"Yes, yes of course," Remus said, pulling in his anger with difficulty. "Shall I do that?"
Minerva shook her head. "It would be better if I make the request. You will be alright?"
Remus knew what she was really asking. "Don't worry, I won't kill him. I want answers after all myself."
Minerva offered him a humourless smile. "I shall see to contacting Amelia then." Minerva turned back suddenly. "I do have one question Remus."
"If you were aware Sirius is an animagi why didn't you inform anybody?"
Remus blushed, "I honestly didn't think of it. I didn't suppose he could still transform after more than a decade in Azkaban."
Minerva nodded, she couldn't fault the reasoning. Turning back to the fire she went through to her office where she would see to contacting Amelia.
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Chapter 44: Chapter 44
SIRIUS BLACK INNOCENT!
DUMBLEDORE AND CROUCH INVESTIGATED!
These were the headlines which greeted the Wizarding world on the morning of 11th November. Reading over the accompanying articles they soon learned the details, that it had been Pettigrew who betrayed the Potters and blew up that street, killing all those muggles. Sirius Black had in fact been completely loyal to the Potters and the side of the light. If these bits of news weren’t shocking enough, further shocks were to come. Perusing the third article it was learned that Dumbledore and Crouch had consigned the heir to the Ancient and Noble House of Black to Azkaban without benefit of trial. The DMLE was investigating, what that investigation would reveal remained to be seen.
11th November, 1993
Ministry of Magic
"This is a disaster," Cornelius Fudge, the current Minister of Magic, moaned. "How could something like this happen?"
"That is what I hope to discover through my investigation Minister," Amelia calmly replied. Cornelius was, for once, not too far off the mark. Though the current administration had nothing to do with the unjust incarceration of Black the public would quite rightly question the trust they had placed in their leaders.
"Have you found any answers?"
"Not any that are satisfactory," Amelia admitted. "I wish permission to question both Dumbledore and Crouch under veritaserum. I don’t think we’ll find the truth by any other means."
Cornelius chewed on his lip as he considered the options. The use of veritaserum would of course obtain truthful answers but the precedent it would set could be dangerous. Did he truly wish to allow senior members of their government to be questioned like common criminals? Such a course of action could be used later to argue for the use of the truth potion against others in government, perhaps even the Minister himself.
He glanced at the pile of letters on his desk, many of them questioning the honesty and integrity of the MOM. If word ever reached the public, and he had no doubt it would, that he had failed to authorize every means possible during this investigation the masses might well call for his head on a platter. Something he was certain many in the Ministry would happily provide them.
So his choice was simple really. He could refuse the use of veritaserum for fear that it might someday be used against him, an eventuality he needn’t fear unless he committed a crime. That same refusal would likely incur the further anger of the Wizarding populace, almost certainly costing him his position as Minister. Yes, he would allow Amelia’s request.
A moment later Amelia Bones left the Minister’s office a satisfied smile on her face, chuckling darkly, it was probably the first time any woman left Fudge’s presence with such a feeling. On her way to the holding cells Amelia collected a member of the Unspeakables. There were certain tests she needed them to perform before she administered veritaserum to either man.
"Mr. Crouch," Amelia greeted as she entered the cell.
Crouch rose to his full height, looking down his nose at the head of the DMLE. "Madame Bones I demand you release me immediately."
Amelia’s only response was to turn to the Unspeakable accompanying her. "Would you please ensure this wizard can safely receive veritaserum and has taken no counter-agent?"
The Unspeakable silently acceded to the request. Waving his wand in several complicated patterns he performed the necessary scans all the while ignoring the very vocal protests coming from the prisoner. "You may question him as you will Madame Bones."
"Now see here..."
"Oh do be quiet Barty," Amelia interrupted the tirade before it could go any further. "There are questions to which we need answers and I have been given permission to use veritaserum to ensure those answers are obtained."
Crouch stood frozen for several seconds. His break, when he made it, took the other two occupants of the cell entirely by surprise. It was this surprise which allowed him to make it out of the cell, unfortunately for Crouch he failed to make it past the Auror guard stationed in the hallway. Only a moment after leaving the cell he was returned to it, stunned and in a full body bind.
"Are you alright Madam Bones?"
"We’re both fine Auror Tonks, we didn’t expect his actions," Amelia reluctantly admitted. It was embarrassing to admit that she, the head of the DMLE, had made such a rookie mistake. Perhaps this was why she was a bit rougher than strictly necessary when binding Crouch to his chair before enervating him. Without further delay she administered the required dosage, waiting for it to take effect. Following procedure Amelia began the questioning with a few control questions, establishing that the potion was working.
"What is your name?"
"Bartemius Crouch Sr."
"Did your wife die in 1982?"
"Did your son also die in 1982?"
Amelia started. She had been certain the potion was working. Every question put to the man had elicited the expected response until this one. Obviously the potion wasn’t working; everybody knew Barty Crouch Jr. died in Azkaban less than a year after entering the Wizarding prison. Amelia stared hard at Crouch Sr. everybody knew, just as everybody had known Sirius Black was guilty of betraying the Potters.
"Where is your son?"
Crouch could no more resist answering than he could resist breathing. "He is hidden in my home, guarded by my house elf Winky."
Merlin! How could this happen? It was that very question Amelia next put to Crouch.
"His mother was dying and begged me to save him. We visited him in prison where they each drank polyjuice in order to change their appearances. My wife died in Azkaban while disguised as our son."
"You are telling me that you broke a convicted Death Eater out of prison and have been hiding him for the past decade?"
"How do you prevent him escaping your home?"
"I have been forced to place him under the Imperious curse."
Amelia staggered back, horrified by what she was hearing. This man was notorious for his prosecution, some said persecution, of any who practiced the Dark Arts and yet he had used them himself to control his son; after breaking said son out of prison of course. "Is your son hidden in any way?"
"Winky has orders to hide him beneath an invisibility cloak should anybody else be in the house."
Using a patronus Amelia sent a message to Senior Auror Shacklebolt with the pertinent information and orders to take Crouch Jr. into custody. Turning back to the senior Crouch she continued her interrogation. "Why did you sentence Sirius Black to Azkaban without trial?"
"He was found at the scene of the crime, laughing and he was from a known Dark family that supported You Know Who."
"Was he questioned?"
"Not to my knowledge."
"Was his wand examined for prior spell casting?"
"Not to my knowledge."
"What was Dumbledore’s role in condemning Black to prison?"
"He told me that Black was the secret keeper for the Potters that was enough for me. I saw no need to waste valuable time giving an obviously guilty man a trial the outcome of which was a foregone conclusion."
Amelia administered the antidote. "Bartemius Crouch Senior you are hereby charged with the following crimes: Obstruction of justice; malfeasance of office; use of an Unforgivable, to wit the Imperious curse; and aiding a convicted criminal in evading justice."
Staring down at the prisoner Amelia made no attempt to hide her contempt for the man before her. "You are one of the things wrong with our society Crouch. It is my hope that your trial and others will awaken our world to the changes which desperately need to be made. Merlin knows it will be the only positive thing you will have ever contributed to our society."
Sweeping from the room, Amelia only wished she could afford the luxury of a shower to wash away the stench of corruption. As she made her way down the hall she couldn’t help thinking it would have been wasted at any rate.
Just as they had in Crouch’s cell, Amelia and the Unspeakable entered the cell holding Albus Dumbledore. Again the proper spells were cast and the veritaserum administered.
"Are you Albus Dumbledore?"
"Were you Chief Wizard of the Wizengamot at the time of Sirius Black’s arrest?"
"Are you Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy?"
Satisfied that the potion was working Amelia began the serious questioning. "Were you aware that Sirius Black was innocent when you sentenced him to Azkaban?"
"How did you know Black was the secret keeper for the Potters?"
"James Potter told me they would use Sirius."
"Though you believed him guilty, why didn’t you allow Black a trial as the law requires?"
"I needed him out of the way."
Amelia narrowed her eyes. "Out of the way for what reason?"
"He is Harry Potter’s godfather; as such he would be entitled to custody. It was imperative that young Potter reside with his mother’s blood."
"So you allowed an innocent man to be sent to prison?"
"I thought him guilty."
"Then why not allow him a trial?"
"Other Death Eaters had escaped justice, I couldn’t take the risk that Black would do the same. I would not allow the Potter boy to be raised by a wizard loyal to Voldemort."
Seeing that there was nothing more to be gained Amelia administered the antidote. "Albus Dumbledore you are hereby charged with malfeasance of office," she informed him. "It is my hope that the Wizengamot will at the very least remove you from power. Any man who would allow the things you have done is not a man who should have the ability to determine the fate of others."
"It was for the greater good Amelia," Dumbledore sadly intoned.
"You will refer to me as Madam Bones," Amelia coldly demanded. "You lost the right to address me with familiarity the moment you condemned a young child to a life of abuse while condemning his godfather to another type of hell on earth. I only wish I could charge you with more than malfeasance."
In the days that followed the Wizarding world would be shocked and disheartened to learn the extent two powerful men had gone to in order to bring about their vision of a perfect world. Found guilty of using an Unforgivable, Crouch Senior was automatically sentenced to life in Azkaban. For his other crimes the court could do little. The years he was given for these crimes were purely for the sake of appearances. He would join his son in Azkaban where they would both eventually succumb to the horrors of the Dementors.
Albus Dumbledore was, after a short trial, found guilty of malfeasance of office. This was not a capital crime of course, nor was it truly considered a crime. The result of his trial was as certain as Amelia had known it would be. Removed from office, fined and stripped of his Order of Merlin, these were the only punishments available to the court. The majority of the Wizarding world was satisfied with the decision of the court. Only a few thought he should have been sent to Azkaban with the Crouches, while some still thought him a saviour who should have received no punishment for what they saw as a simple mistake. That his mistake had cost an innocent man more than a decade of his life didn’t seem to matter to these stalwart supporters.
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Chapter 45: Chapter 45
13th November, 1993
Hogwarts: Professor Lupin’s office
Like most in the Wizarding world Harry had been shocked to learn the truth about the betrayal of his parents. He was very grateful to Professors Lupin and Flitwick for informing him the day before the articles appeared in the paper. He wasn’t sure what his reaction would have been had he discovered the news in the middle of the Great Hall. Knowing about the articles had allowed him to prepare himself for the many questions and pitying looks he would receive. Lost in thought Harry didn’t hear his Professor enter the room.
"Hello Harry," Remus greeted the boy, causing him to jump. "Sorry, it wasn’t my intention to startle you."
Harry shrugged, blushing slightly. "It’s alright."
"Are you sure you want to do this Harry?"
"Doesn’t he want to see me?"
"Oh no, that isn’t it at all," Remus rushed to assure the child. "I was only concerned that perhaps the meeting was coming too soon for you. After all until a few days ago you were under the impression that Sirius had betrayed you and your parents."
"I do want to meet him but I’ll admit I’m glad you and my grandfather will be there." Harry fixed his professor with an earnest look. "Grandfather will meet us at St. Mungo’s won’t he?"
"Yes," Remus cast tempus, "and we should be going if we don’t want to keep them waiting." Stepping over to the fireplace he threw a handful of floo powder in and soon followed Harry through the flames.
13th November, 1993
St. Mungo’s Hospital
1st Floor, Creature Induced Injuries
Sirius looked up as the door to his room opened. Expecting to see his old friend and godson he was shocked to find himself looking into the twinkling blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore. "Come to apologize? A bit late that," Sirius snarked.
"It is never too late for a heartfelt apology my boy."
"I am not your boy Albus. I might not be allowed out and about just yet but they do allow us the paper," Sirius held up that day’s copy of the Daily Prophet. "You might have believed me guilty and that I could understand." He held up his hand, stopping the older wizard before he could begin. "But you willingly deprived me of my rights because it would, how did you put it under questioning, keep me out of the way. You condemned my godson to a hellish life with the Dursleys, a family you were well aware he was never to be placed with, while condemning me to hell on earth in Azkaban. I have no wish to hear your latest manipulation in the guise of an apology and will thank you to leave."
Albus frowned, the coldness in young Black’s voice taking him quite by surprise. Certainly the man was owed an apology, which Albus was more than ready to offer, but still he was surprised by the cold reception. Surely Sirius, as a former member of the Order of the Phoenix, could understand the importance of keeping the Potter child safe. "I do wish you would give me a chance to apologize. I know of course that no words can make up for the years you lost in Azkaban. I was..."
"You don’t listen very well Albus," Sirius interrupted the elderly wizard. "Very well, since you are determined to say your piece could you please skip the insincere apology and simply tell me what you want?"
"The Sorting Hat certainly chose correctly when it placed you my b...Sirius." Albus cleared his throat. This wasn’t going at all as he had expected. "You are aware that Harry has taken on the mantle of Head of House Potter?"
"I am, as I have been for the past years, concerned that the responsibility is too much to lie on such young shoulders." Here Albus was forced to stop as Sirius’ bark like laughter echoed throughout the room.
"I suppose I am expected to petition the Wizengamot to rescind Harry’s emancipation in our world, followed of course by a request for guardianship?" Sirius might have been a brash Gryffindor in his school days but he had grown up in the Ancient and Noble House of Black. He had learned intrigue and plotting at his father’s knee. Dumbledore might think himself clever and where most of the Wizarding world was concerned he would be correct, but Sirius wasn’t so easily fooled.
"He would be better off in our world. He needs to be prepared for the part he will play in permanently defeating Voldemort."
"Yet a dozen years ago you claimed he was safer in the muggle world. I do wish you’d make up your mind Albus." Sirius smirked at the uncertain look on the face of the old wizard. At one time he had looked up to this man but that had ended the day Albus allowed Crouch to throw him in Azkaban without a trial. "Nor, as far as I have heard, have you done anything to prepare Harry to face Voldemort, if he is in fact not gone."
"Alas I am no longer Headmaster of Hogwarts."
"Oh yes, I am quite aware of that. I am also aware that you were Headmaster during Harry’s first year and a part of his second. Why did you not offer him any extra training at that time?"
"I didn’t want to burden him, he is only a child," Albus’ eyes twinkled madly as he said this.
Sirius barked another laugh. "Do you imagine those twinkling eyes will sway me to your way of thinking? Sorry to disappoint you old man but I am far past the time of trusting you. Now will you leave or must I summon my healer?"
"No need for that Sirius," Remus growled from the now open door. "If Albus needs assistance in leaving I will gladly offer my services."
Sirius grinned; "Remus, impeccable timing."
"No need for that," Albus assured them. "Please think on what we discussed Sirius."
"Oh I will give it all of the attention it deserves Albus."
Albus inclined his head and without another word left the room, doing his best to ignore the glare coming from Remus Lupin. As he stepped past the werewolf he saw Harry and his grandfather standing in the hall. The twin glares were disheartening but not unexpected. Holding his head high he walked past the two and down the hall to the floo.
"What do you suppose he was doing here Grandfather?" Harry asked once he was sure the elderly wizard was out of hearing distance.
"I would hope he was here to apologize to your godfather laddie," Ginger tightened his hand which lay on Harry’s shoulder.
"But you don’t believe that?"
"No, I suspect he was attempting to gain an ally in Black."
Harry laughed. "Does he really think the man would help him after all he’s done?"
Ginger shrugged. He had a difficult time believing it himself but wizards weren’t really known for their logic. "Perhaps he hoped the man would be so addled by his time in prison that he would be easily fooled."
Harry frowned. "Do you think it would work, if that is what he was doing?"
"Not being acquainted with your godfather I’ve no idea. But don’t you worry laddie. You are Lord Potter in the Wizarding world and legally adopted by me in the non-magical world. Even if Dumbledore could convince your godfather to help him we can easily keep you from him, should it come to that."
Inside the room Remus was asking similar questions. Sirius refused; however, to answer his questions, meeting his godson was much more important than discussing the attempted manipulations of an old man. Aside from which he expected Harry or his grandfather would ask the same questions and he would rather explain only once. Giving up, Remus opened the door and beckoned Ginger and Harry into the room.
Harry stood just inside the door, shyly looking at the floor. He hadn’t felt so uncertain since that day his grandfather rescued him from the Dursleys. What if Sirius was disappointed in him? Worse what if Dumbledore had turned the man against his grandfather before the two met? Harry knew the man in the hospital bed couldn’t take him from his family but he would hate to be at odds with the man his parents had entrusted him to, should the worst happen.
"Hello," Sirius greeted with an uncertain smile. "You must be Mr. Hebblethwaite, Harry’s grandfather," he held out a hand to the older man.
Ginger stepped forward, bringing Harry with him, taking the hand. "And you must be Sirius Black," he smiled. "You’re looking much better than recent pictures."
Sirius’ smile grew. "Yes, St. Mungo’s has done wonders. They’ve got me on a regimen of healing and nutrition potions that would choke a hippogriff," he joked good-naturedly. "Alright there Harry?" the child’s continued silence was a bit unnerving.
Harry drew a deep breath and raised his head. He mightn’t be a brash Gryffindor but he was Lord Potter, he wouldn’t cower before this man as if he had been judged and found wanting. "I am sorry you suffered as a result of Dumbledore’s schemes."
"Not your doing Harry, but your mother would have said something similar were she here."
"Do you really think so?"
"I’m certain of it. I see you’re in Ravenclaw house, I imagine that must mean you’re awfully smart?"
"I do alright," Harry shrugged.
"I know you do. I’ve had reports," he winked at Harry while giving Remus a sidelong glance.
Harry laughed. "Only good things I hope."
"Only the best," Sirius assured with a grin. "I suppose you’re wondering what Dumbledore was doing here?"
"A bit," Harry admitted.
"I shouldn’t wonder. To begin I didn’t invite him and I asked him to leave almost the moment he arrived. The man never has been good at listening to the desires of others, unless it suited him of course. I assure you I sent him away with a flea in his ear but the crux of the matter is he wanted me to contest your emancipation."
"I don’t understand."
"I imagine he hoped your godfather could challenge my guardianship if he had your emancipation rescinded," Ginger said. "I am correct am I not Lord Black?"
"My friends call me Sirius and yes you are correct."
"I don’t believe we could be considered friends just yet Lord Black."
"We both love Harry and I imagine have only his best interest at heart, how could we be anything but friends?" Sirius asked with his most charming smile.
Ginger inclined his head, acknowledging the truth of the younger man’s words. "I know this is true for me."
"As it is for me, which is exactly why I will not follow Dumbledore’s suggestions. From everything I’ve read and that Remus has told me I was certain Harry was safe and happy with you. Seeing the two of you together I am even more certain than ever that Harry belongs with you. I do hope you will permit me to visit regularly. I have after all got a dozen years of godfather duties to make up for."
Ginger smiled. "Just don’t spoil him too much, I have to live with him you know," he teased.
Sirius laughed. "But that is the primary job of godfather isn’t it?"
"Good heavens, what have I let myself in for," Ginger pretended to fret. "Oh and Sirius, my friends call me Ginger."
"Good to meet you Ginger," Sirius smiled. The awkwardness over, the men and child took seats, conversation flowing smoothly as they set about getting acquainted with one another.
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Chapter 46: Chapter 46
19th June, 1998
Mount Street Flat
Biggles smiled fondly as he watched Ginger standing in front of the mirror trying and failing to arrange his tie. "Will you ever learn the proper way?" he teased.
Ginger, startled, turned to the door. "I’m afraid my early training was lacking," he gestured to the tie hung round his neck. Growing up he hadn’t much use for neckties. Most times now he could easily affix his tie; it was only when the occasion was deemed important that his lessons in the art were lost.
Biggles moved into the room, coming to a stop in front of the younger man. With deft fingers he quickly had the tie set to rights, giving Ginger’s shoulder a pat when done. "There, wouldn’t want you looking anything but your best today."
"I can hardly believe our lad will be graduating today," Ginger smiled. "It seems only days ago I brought him home and now he’s grown."
"Hmmm, but not so grown he doesn’t need his grandfather."
"And uncles," Algy commented from the door. "Are you two nearly ready? The ceremony will begin soon and we want to find good seats."
"No jolly fear old boy," Bertie joined them. "Sirius promised to save us seats. Said he’d give a stinging hex to anybody that argued. Funny lad that."
"Do you have the portkey Lucius sent?" Biggles asked.
"The portkey!" Ginger exclaimed. "I nearly forgot it." He went to the bureau, returning in a moment with a longish piece of rope in his hand. "Everybody take hold," he instructed.
"Becoming quite forgetful in your dotage are you?" Algy teased. "You haven’t forgot the activation code have you?"
Ginger aimed a mock scowl Algy’s direction. "My dotage? You’re older than me, don’t forget."
Algy grinned, winking at the others, "No need for a reminder, I’m not the one in the habit of forgetting things."
Ginger chuckled, "Yes well...ready then?" Seeing the others nod he spoke the words that would take them just outside the wards of Hogwarts. "Change is good," with that the four former airmen disappeared from the room.
19th June, 1998
"It seems strange, doesn’t it?" Harry asked, dodging adroitly to one side as a few younger years ran past them.
"That you were ever that small?" Draco smirked.
Harry smacked his friend’s arm, "Prat."
Hermione chuckled, the antics of her two best friends always able to surprise a laugh from her. "It hardly seems the same school as the one we first entered as eleven year olds."
Harry nodded, "Though I was referring to the fact that our time here is nearly over."
"That too," Hermione readily agreed.
"It’s amazing the changes your father has managed in only a few years time Draco."
"I know what you mean Harry. What amazes me even more are the changes in the Ministry. Father told me there are actually two department heads now who are muggleborns, albeit small departments but it is a beginning."
"Yes Sirius told me the same thing," Harry confirmed. The plan he and his family had come up with to bring the Wizarding world onto a more equal footing with the muggle world was moving along at a pace even they had not anticipated. Of course they couldn’t have known of the schemes Dumbledore would attempt when Harry returned to the Wizarding world or how those schemes would ultimately begin the changing of their world earlier than expected.
When he had first begun to learn about the Wizarding world and his place in it Harry had loved much of what he discovered. Many of the old traditions were fascinating and he believed they should be kept as they could only strengthen their ties to magic and the magic itself. But there were other things that had to change if the cycle of Dark Lords and Ladies was to end. Throughout their history various wizards and witches, desiring power, had gathered followers to themselves as they attempted to subjugate the Wizarding world to their will. None had ever succeeded in the long term but the damage they did with their efforts had allowed the Wizarding world no time to grow while maintaining a perfect breeding ground for corruption and attempted takeovers.
"Speaking of Sirius does he intend to continue living in the muggle world?" Draco asked. He had been as shocked as most had been when the newly freed Lord Black had opted to live outside their world. Most still believed the man was doing so out of pique for what the Ministry and Dumbledore had done to him. Draco of course knew his cousin had chosen the muggle world so that he might live close to Harry, taking a flat as near to the one on Mount Street as he could manage.
"Yes I think he will. He quite likes it, though his flat is as magical as any other wizard’s home. He says his notoriety in our world makes it difficult to go anywhere without finding himself accosted by well-wishers or detractors. It’s refreshing, he says, to traverse the muggle world without anybody bothering him save the occasional muggle who remembers his unjust incarceration." Harry grinned, "Besides it makes it harder for Dumbledore to find him."
Draco laughed and Hermione smiled. "Is he still trying to convince Sirius that Riddle’s return is imminent?" Soon after Sirius gained his freedom an investigation into He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had been launched by a determined reporter. Through exhaustive research the man’s true history had been discovered and published, but many still feared to say his name. In an effort to confirm the story as published the DMLE had begun questioning the Death Eaters in Azkaban. It was at this time they had discovered that every one of the Death Eaters within Azkaban no longer bore the dark mark, leading the Ministry to conclude that the man was well and truly gone. This combined with the truth of his origins had destroyed the fear his name had engendered and with a few exceptions most wizards and witches now referred to him by his name.
"Yes but it really is just as well," Harry smirked. "After all while Dumbledore is busy looking for Riddle and trying to convince others that he will return he doesn’t have time to interfere with the reforms our world needs."
"Will you be taking your seat in the Wizengamot after graduation Harry?" For the past few years Sirius had voted the Potter seat. Though he could be emancipated and take on the mantle of Lord Potter as last of the line, Harry could not vote in the Wizengamot until he turned 17 and completed his NEWTS.
"Yes Hermione, Sirius and I discussed it with Grandfather; we all agreed it would be best for our agenda."
Hermione nodded, she knew of course that we all included Biggles, Bertie and Algy as well. "But what about your plans to become a Healer?" Hermione wanted to see the reforms made; she fully believed the Wizarding world needed them if it were to survive, but the thought of Harry sacrificing his plans left her feeling hollow.
"That won’t be a problem Mione," Harry said, smiling in understanding. "The Wizengamot doesn’t meet all the time and our plans have already been given a good start. Our generation and the years directly above us have been changed greatly by the new classes Draco’s father implemented while the years below us are practically unrecognizable from the generation of only a decade ago. I’m sure I will have plenty of time for my studies as well as my duties in the Wizengamot and if that should prove untrue Sirius will once again vote the Potter seat."
"Good, I should have hated to see your talents being wasted."
A movement at the front of the castle caught Draco’s eye. "I believe it is time for us to go in, the ceremony will begin soon and we still have to change into our dress robes." The others nodded their agreement and the three friends entered the castle arm in arm.
In the decade following the three friends saw the plans Harry had made with his family come to fruition. The classes in Wizarding and Muggle cultures had eradicated the misunderstandings and cultural biases of the past. Purebloods would always be proud of their family history but now realized that all wizards and witches must be treated equally if their world was to grow and thrive, the alternative wasn’t to be considered. This realization and the education efforts of Lucius Malfoy, once a proponent of Pureblood superiority, had led to a further realization concerning magical creatures. Another decade would follow before all magical beings were given equal status under the law but it would happen.
Albus Dumbledore spent the remainder of his years, with a few stalwart followers, searching for evidence of Voldemort’s return. He never ceased in his efforts to convince Harry and Sirius that this would happen and that Harry would have to face the man. When faced with the reality of the disappearing dark mark Dumbledore insisted that the Death Eaters must have found a means of covering it. The fact that those locked in Azkaban lacked both the wands and the ability, after decades under the care of Dementors, to glamour the mark seemed to elude him.
Albus finally passed away, in his sleep, at the grand age of 140, never having lost the belief that Voldemort would one day return. Perhaps he was watching when, five years after his death, a new Dark Lord emerged. If he watched from beyond then he should have been gratified to see that this new threat, with his dozen or so followers, was quickly laughed out of the new Wizarding world to quickly fade into anonymity.
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A/N: I never intended to take the story proper past Harry's third year. At that point, with Sirius freed, Voldemort gone and Dumbledore without his former influence everything needing done fell more into the political and educational realm. Frankly I don't think I could have written in depth about either without boring us all to tears. ;)