|The Ministry Steps In
Author: EveBB PM
PostHBP At Scrimgeour's urging, Wizengamot grants Ministry custody of Harry so he can be trained to fight Voldemort.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Adventure - Harry P. - Chapters: 9 - Words: 22,683 - Reviews: 133 - Favs: 69 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 06-06-06 - Published: 05-31-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2967167
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
DISCLAIMER – I do not own Harry Potter. I am content to worship at the altar.
AN – Just reposting to correct some typographical errors.
Chapter One – Scrimgeour at the Burrow
"No way! You are not serious!" Harry shook his head vehemently. He took a few steps back as well, as if by physically separating himself from the adults in the room, his refusal would be that much more emphatic.
"Harry! Just calm down! If you just think about it for a moment, you'll realize that this makes a lot of sense," said Molly Weasley.
Harry was standing in the kitchen of the Burrow, the Weasley's home. He had been staying there for a few days so that he could attend Bill and Fleur's wedding. The wedding had taken place the day before and the newlyweds had left the previous night for their honeymoon.
With a sense of bitterness, Harry recalled how unsuspectingly he had come down to breakfast this morning. He was looking forward to a few hours of calm before setting out on his search for the horcruses with Ron and Hermione later that day. However, when he entered the kitchen, he had found a number of the members of the Order of the Phoenix waiting to speak with him. In addition to Arthur and Molly Weasley, Professor McGonagall, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alastor Moody were all lying in wait.
At first, Harry had thought that they were just saying goodbye, having all been in attendance at the wedding. Harry barely had time to realize that they would not all have been staying at the Burrow overnight when Arthur raised his wand and locked the kitchen door, so that no one else could join them. Molley then cast an "imperturbable" charm on the room, so that Fred and George's famous Extendable ears would not be able to hear what was being said.
Harry felt his stomach drop as the adults exchanged serious looks. Something had obviously happened and the Order wanted to speak with him privately. Had Voldemort killed someone he knew?
Harry cast searching eyes around the group. "What!" he demanded. "What's the matter?"
Arthur had obviously been appointed the spokesperson for the group, since he cleared his throat and began. "Harry, with the death of Dumbledore, and the knowledge that Snape has been spying for You Know Who, the Order of the Phoenix has been making some hard decisions." All eyes were focused intently on Harry, and he started to feel a cool prickle running down his spine.
Arthur continued. "We have to assume that Snape has told You Know Who everything he knows about the Order. This means the identities of many of its members are compromised, including the people in this room now. We are all targets."
Moody muttered, "Hell! I was a target anyway!"
Arthur ignored the interruption. "We are simply not strong enough to defeat You Know Who without some more help." Harry cast a puzzled look. What did Mr. Weasley mean?
Remus spoke up. "Just tell him, Arthur!"
"All right. All right." Arthur drew a deep breath. "We have met with Rufus Scrimgeour to discuss how we can work more closely with the Ministry of Magic. He has agreed to let Moody and Kingsley take over leadership of the Aurors." Harry cast a shocked look at Kingsley. So, Scrimgeour now knew that Kingsley worked for the Order?
Arthur, noticing Harry's look, answered the unspoken question. "It makes no sense to keep our identities secret from the Ministry when You Know Who knows who we are. Scrimgeour wasn't happy to learn that Kingsley, Tonks and I have been working for the Order. But, the Minister is willing to do anything, even overlook that Ministry employees are members of the Order, so that we can join forces and work together. Scrimgeour has agreed that the Moody and Kingsley will have complete discretion to use Ministry employees to assist us. We will meet daily with Scrimgeour to discuss strategy and coordinate efforts."
Harry interrupted. "It sounds dangerous. You're getting too close to the Minister. How can you trust him?"
Professor McGonagall spoke up with a note of irritation in her voice. "Harry, we simply have no choice. It's not a question of what we want to do, but what we need to do."
Molly interjected. "And Rufus has already made overtures to show us that he can be trusted. He has promised to release Stan Shunpike from Azkaban. He told us that he knew you felt strongly that Stan was unfairly imprisoned."
"Well, finally!" said Harry.
Kingsley also spoke up. "Scrimgeour also said that he's moving Umbridge out of the Ministry. She's being given a retirement package. She won't be associated with the Ministry anymore."
Harry muttered under his breath. He knew that if he said what he was really thinking, Mrs. Weasley would scold him for his language.
Arthur continued. "So, you see, Scrimgeour is trying to institute some changes that he knows you would want."
A light dawned. "Oh, wait a minute." Harry narrowed his eyes. "Is this about my acting as a Ministry mascot? Scrimgeour approached me about this last Christmas. You remember! He tried again at Dumbledore's funeral. I told him then what I'll say now: I am not the Ministry's poster child."
The members of the Order exchanged glances again. "It's not as simple as that, Harry," started Remus.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, we approached Scrimgeour because, as we said, the Order needs help. But it turns out that Scrimgeour was putting steps of his own in motion. He was planning to convene the Wizengamot to declare a state of emergency to have you placed under the protection of the Ministry of Magic," explained Remus.
"Sort of like 'protective custody' in the Muggle world," added Tonks.
Remus continued. "We all agreed that it would be best to avoid involving the Wizengamot. Harry, we want you to agree voluntarily to submit to the protection of the Ministry."
And this is where Harry lost any semblance of calm. "No way! You are not serious!" Harry shook his head vehemently. He took a few steps back as well, as if by physically separating himself from the adults in the room, his refusal would be that much more emphatic.
"Harry! Just calm down! If you just think about it for a moment, you'll realize that this makes a lot of sense," said Molly Weasley. "You can't possibly tackle You Know Who on your own. We all know that he's going to be hunting for you. The Ministry can provide you with a safe place to live – you know that your Aunt's house no longer provides you with magical protection now that you are 17. The Ministry can also provide Aurors as guards."
"Aurors aren't going to stop Voldemort!" yelled Harry.
A number of people in the room flinched at hearing the hated name. "And you are?" asked Molly sharply.
"I'm going to try!" said Harry defiantly.
Arthur raised his hand and motioned for everyone to quiet down. He turned worried eyes on Harry and said, "We know that you are not planning on returning to Hogwarts next term, Harry. When we mentioned to Ron about going to Diagon Alley to pick up your school books, he let slip that he wasn't intending to return to school. Once he said this, we of course asked him more questions and he admitted that he and Hermione were planning to follow you on some quest relating to You Know Who."
Professor McGonagall stepped forward. "Harry, we all want you to succeed in stopping You Know Who. But, we are all in this together. The Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic, the entire wizarding world! We need to give you the best chance to defeat him. And the best chance is not for a 17 year old wizard to go wandering around unprotected. We believe that the best way is for you to have the protection of as many Aurors as possible and to train you as strenuously as possible to prepare for the day when you meet the Dark Lord."
Harry tried to speak calmly. "Look, I have things to do before I meet Voldemort. Dumbledore showed me what I have to do."
Moody looked up from the kitchen table he had been staring at intently. "What things?" he asked, sharply.
Harry looked around at everyone. "I'm …I'm sorry. I can't say."
"Well, it will just have to wait for now," said Professor McGonagall briskly. "I don't think Albus would have wanted you to handle this on your own. No one is happy with the situation, Potter. But, you must make the best of it. Scrimgeour will be arriving shortly and will escort you to a safe house, maintained under the protection of Ministry Aurors."
Before Harry could object any further, he heard the whoosh of the fireplace indicating that someone had just arrived by Floo powder. He looked toward the fireplace and, sure enough, he saw Scrimgeour climbing out. Immediately after, the fireplace glowed again and another man who Harry recognized as the Auror Dawlish, stepped out of the fireplace as well. The fireplace glowed twice more in succession, and two more men who Harry did not recognize but suspected were also Aurors joined Scrimgeour. The men were big and dangerous looking. Scrimgeour and the Aurors all stared intently at Harry.
Scrimgeour stepped forward, extending his hand in greeting. Automatically, Harry took his hand and shook it briefly. Ignoring Harry's unwelcoming expression, Scrimgeour spoke in hearty tones. "Hello, Harry. I hope that you have been well. Enjoying the wedding, no doubt. Percy mentioned that his brother Bill was getting married this weekend."
Scrimgeour looked around the room and, reading the expressions on everyone's faces, seemed to conclude that Harry had already been informed of the plans being laid for his future. "I presume that you have been told that you will be placed under the protection of the Ministry of Magic, Harry. I just want to emphasize to you just how seriously we take this. You are an extraordinary young man, and we will do everything in our power to protect you."
"I'm not going with you," said Harry, firmly. "I've heard what everyone has said and I appreciate how you feel. But, I'm of age and I can make decisions for myself. I'm not going." Harry looked Scrimgeour directly in the eyes.
Scrimgeour's lips thinned and his eyes narrowed. He radiated a certain strength that made Harry secretly feel a bit nervous. When he spoke, Scrimgeour's voice was no longer hearty, but instead was low and strict and reminded Harry of Snape at his most dangerous. "Harry, I'm afraid you don't understand the situation. You are coming with me, whether you want to or not. This is no game where we listen to the whims of a 17 year old. For reasons unknown to me, or anyone else, you have been able to battle with the Dark Lord and win. You Know Who is obsessed with you, and it is our devout hope that this obsession will be his downfall. It appears that he spends more time plotting how to kill you than how to consolidate his power. We are going to take advantage of this obsession. You will be guarded night and day until you have the training necessary to have a chance in Hades of beating You Know Who. You will be trained in combat by the most skilled of our Aurors and you will be expected to spend every waking minute honing your skills. Is that clear enough?"
Harry's eyes had widened during this speech and his mouth had become dry. He knew that Scrimgeour could not legally force him to go, but the conviction in Scrimgeour's voice gave Harry pause. "You can't force me." Harry was annoyed that he didn't sound more certain.
"If you don't agree to come willingly, I will convene the Wizengamot tonight under emergency protocols. Your choice."
Arthur intervened, "Please, Harry. We are all on the same side!"
Harry thought quickly. He had to escape. They may all be well-meaning but their actions could have disastrous consequences. They would interfere with his ability to find and destroy the horcruxes. Maybe he should play along until they relaxed their guard, and then he would apparate away.
Harry forced himself to relax his stance somewhat. He dropped his eyes, as if conceding defeat. Then, he asked in a softer tone of voice, "Can I just say goodby to Ron and the others?"
Scrimgeour cast a relieved look at Arthur. "Of course, Harry." Once again, the hearty voice was back.
Harry looked at the locked door and then back at Mr. Weasley. Without needing to ask, Mr. Weasley understood and waved his wand at the door, unlocking it. Harry pulled it open and went up the stairs which led to the room he had been sharing with Ron. Behind him, he could hear the adults in the kitchen whispering furiously among themselves.
Harry wanted to find Ron, Hermione and Ginny and explain what had happened. However, he knew his time was short. He would have to trust that Ron and Hermione would realize he had gone to Godric's Hollow and that they would follow him there. Quietly, Harry went into the now-empty room that Bill had used when he was staying at the Burrow. Harry knew that there were wards around the house preventing apparition within it. That was why Scrimgeour and the others had had to arrive by Floo powder. So, Harry quickly crossed the room and opened a window at the far side. He was lucky that he was thin, as he could just squeeze through. Since the room was on the second floor, he carefully lowered himself out of the window. He hung down as far as his arms would reach, so that there would be less of a fall to the ground and then let go, landing with a thump. He felt his ankle twist a bit before he fell on his backside, but it wasn't a bad landing all things considered.
Before Harry could stand up again, he heard the door of the house open and the sound of people rushing outside. He cursed under his breath. There were obviously enchantments on the house to alert Arthur and Molly when someone was trying to get in or out. Harry snatched his wand out of his sleeve. However, his landing had been more awkward than he realized and Harry stumbled slightly as he tried to stand upright. That slight delay was enough.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry's wand flew out of his hand and he was flung backwards, hit by the spell cast simultaneously by the three Aurors who had followed Scrimgeour out of the house into the yard. Harry shook his head to clear the blackness that was threatening to envelop him. Before he could regain his feet, he heard Scrimgeour approach.
He looked up to see the Minister staring down at him, with a strange mixture of anger and pity. "Harry, I told you what to expect. I'm really sorry that you didn't listen." And, without another word, Scrimgeour pointed his own wand at Harry and said, "Orpheo." Harry's world went dark and he knew no more.