AND THE DEATH EATER MENACE
Harry Potter and all associated characters and situations are the property of J.K. Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
CHAPTER 19: Dementors, Divinations, and a Day in Hogsmeade
19 September 1993
Over the next few weeks, Hogwarts settled into a routine that accommodated the presence of the nearby Dementors. In Ancient Runes, Professor Babbling continued her painstaking analysis of the Elder Futhark runes, while in Arithmancy, Professor Vector was even more exhaustive in her lectures on the importance of the number 7. Meanwhile in Muggle Studies, Lily Potter announced that the class would be spending some time exploring Muggle pop culture through the time-tested Mugglish teaching tool known as book reports. To facilitate that, she placed several dozen paperback books popular among young Muggle readers in the school library for her students to read and give a report on by the end of term. To Hermione's surprise, she'd already read most of them and had actually brought copies of a few of them in her trunk for light reading.
Although fewer students spent time out on the grounds compared to years past, Quidditch practices continued uninterrupted despite the frightful observers, and during the Slytherin practices, Harry was pleased to see that Ginny, Greg, and Millie were all integrating into the team's dynamic smoothly. That said, he did have some concerns about the Dementors continually hovering over the nearby Forbidden Forest. Or more accurately one particular Dementor who (unlike his fellows) seemed intensely focused on the Slytherins' activities. Harry wasn't sure, and admittedly had no way to be sure. But some strange instinct, perhaps related to his Legilimency, told him that the Dementor who had drawn his attention was the same one that had tried to attack Harry and Jim on the Hogwarts Express.
"[I/We] kNoooW [your] FaAaAaAaCE [DIE! DIE! DIE!]
Harry shuddered at the recollection and wondered if Jim's memories of what had happened on the train were as intense. Then, he frowned as he recalled seeing first hand how vivid Jim's impressions of the Dementor had been. He knew all to well what effect that experience had on his brother.
Earlier that week ...
With some reluctance, Harry had agreed to attend a few of the Wu Xi Do classes that Malachi Sturgeon (who went by the name "Brother Chandra" when teaching those not aware of his Secret) would be providing for Jim, Ron, and Padma. To Harry's own surprise, after he mentioned the classes to his friends, Theo No-Name announced an interest in attending. The boy had decided to be proactive in dealing with any conflicts with students affected by the Ultimate Sanction, and he'd further decided that would include learning an obscure magical technique that also doubled as a form of self-defense. Thus far, no one had attempted any real physical harm (besides the occasional Tripping Jinx in the halls when he couldn't tell who was responsible). If nothing else, from what the two Slytherins had learned, Wu Xi Do would probably help with ducking and dodging.
And to Harry's own surprise, he and Theo both excelled in their first training session, almost to the point of making Jim and Ron mildly jealous. But then, Chandra reminded the boys that they were focusing on water-aspected Wu Xi Do specifically for a therapeutic reason: correcting Jim's own fire-water imbalance. Since Harry and Theo actually were Slytherins, it made sense that they would both adapt more readily to what he was teaching. That explanation mollified Jim, even more so when Brother Chandra decided to change things up with a few basic earth-aspected moves with which none of the students were familiar let alone naturally proficient. After all, none of them was anything close to a Hufflepuff.
It was after the third session that Jim quietly asked Harry to remain behind. After sending Ron, Theo, and Padma on their way, the two boys joined Remus (a name they were now free to use since those who didn't know any part of the Secret had departed). Just as Harry had suggested, Remus had acquired custody of the boggart that would be used in future Patronus classes. And judging by the steamer trunk it was hiding in, it appeared to be the same boggart that both Potter boys had encountered a year before. Harry had agreed to witness Jim's attempt to banish his boggart, but he had one question.
"Why me? Not that I don't want to help if you need me, but I figured you'd want Ron here."
Jim looked wistfully at the door. "Ron's my best friend. I'd trust him with my life. But ... I don't know what my boggart looks like. I'm worried that knowing about my innermost fears might ... upset him."
Harry nodded in understanding. "The last time, it was people you knew mocking you. And now you're worried that it might manifest as Ron saying something hurtful."
"Basically," the other boy as he glanced nervously at the trunk.
"Jim," Remus asked, "are you ready?"
Jim nodded and moved closer to the trunk as Remus stepped away. As the older man cast the spell to open the trunk, Jim steeled himself to cast the Riddikulus even as he wondered which of his friends and family would be the first to appear and accuse him of being a fraud as the Boy-Who-Lived. To his great and terrible surprise, it was none of them. His boggart fear had indeed changed in the previous year.
Into a Dementor.
Jim had been prepared for cruel mockery, not for a boggart in the shape of a Dementor and certainly not for one that seemed to have a Dementor's powers. Despite his preparation, terror washed over the boy in a wave, along with an unearthly coldness and a compete loss of happiness. Somewhere in the distance, he heard a woman's scream, and he began to swoon. Then, the boggart-Dementor floated towards him ... and spoke.
[I/We] kNoooW [your] FaAaAaAaCE [DIE! DIE! DIE!]
As Jim started to faint, Harry rushed forward with his own wand drawn. But before he could cast the Banishing Charm, the boggart reacted to his closer presence. The creature's pseudo-flesh flowed like mercury until image of the Dementor was replaced by that of the rotting corpse of Vernon Dursley, once again pointing a maggot-ridden finger at Harry in accusation.
Fortunately, Harry was quite prepared for this particular illusion, and while boggart-fear could be potent, it was nothing compared to the nightmares produced by one of Voldemort's horcruxes. "RIDDIKULUS!" Harry slashed his wand with confidence, and in response, the Vernon-boggart kicked its legs up into the air, stuck both feet into its mouth, and started slurping greedily. In an instant, the creature's entire body had been sucked inside until Vernon's leering mouth was all that remained before it too disappeared with a pop. The lid of the trunk slammed shut.
Remus, who had also rushed forward to banish the boggart, was at once surprised, pleased, and confused at Harry's actions. Surprised and pleased at his swift and effective spellcasting, but confused as to the form of his boggart. Luckily, he was close enough to catch Jim before the boy fell to the floor.
"Well done, Harry," Remus said as he lowered Jim to the ground. Harry knelt on the other side of Jim with a worried expression. "Your boggart. If you don't mind me asking..."
"It was Vernon Dursley," Harry said without taking his eyes off his brother. "He was my guardian – sort of – up until his death last October. Heart attack."
Remus nodded but did not ask the next obvious question: If it was a heart attack, then why did Harry feel so guilty about it that his boggart accused him of murder. He hoped to have a chance to talk to the boy later, as it was clear that staying with the Dursleys had affected him even more deeply than he'd feared.
Meanwhile, Harry gently shook Jim's shoulder. "Come on, Little Brother, time to wake up. The Boy-Who-Lived can't go fainting every time a Dementor shows up and says boo! What will your adoring public think?"
As Jim came to his senses, he ignored Harry's jibes and frowned. "Who was screaming?" he asked. "And why did that Dementor say he knows my face?"
Harry's eyes widened. "The boggart-Dementor said that? The real Dementor on the train said that to me! I thought you'd already passed out by then."
"I had," Jim said with a shake of his head. "I don't remember that Dementor saying anything." He frowned. "Why would a Dementor say that he knows our faces?"
"Strange," said Remus as he helped the boy up. "To be honest, the fact that it spoke at all is remarkable. I've never heard of Dementors communicating verbally with anyone other than the staff at Azkaban."
"Hmph," Harry said with a mischievous smirk. "I bet it recognizes you as the Boy-Who-Lived and just got confused because we're twins. Honestly, Jim, is there nowhere your fanclub doesn't reach?"
"Hardy-har-har," Jim said rolling his eyes.
After making sure that Jim was okay and feeding both brothers chocolate bars, Remus sent them to bed. He also made a point of reassuring Jim that there was nothing embarrassing about his boggart fear. "If anything, it's a sign of your remarkable courage. It seems the only thing you fear is ... fear itself."
"Pfft. Gryffindors," Harry said with an exaggerated sigh.
As September passed into October, Harry, like most of his peers, settled into a steady if hectic routine. He had a full class schedule that included two demanding electives, Quidditch practice several days a week, and the dueling club. It also included the Patronus class, and while Harry felt no closer to a true corporeal Patronus, Theo, Ron, and Hermione (among others) had the beginnings of a mist Patronus though it still eluded an increasingly frustrated Jim. Finally, there were bi-weekly meetings for S.P.A.M. in which he helped Hermione guide the club towards researching ways to weaken or break mind control effects like the Sanction, along with research on how the British wizarding government actually worked (both politically and magically). Their biggest obstacles were Anthony Goldstein and Sue Li, both of whom seemed far more interested in figuring out how to make Muggle televisions and computers work in magical environments than in getting drawn into what might well become a socio-political conflict.
After a few more training sessions, Harry chose to drop out of Brother Chandra's martial arts classes simply due to lack of time. And also, to be honest, due to a lack of interest. He understood that there was a place and time for hand-to-hand combat and that the specific kind of hand-to-hand combat Chandra was offering was practically designed for Slytherins. But the heart of the matter was that to Harry's Slytherin personality, resorting to physical combat (even magical in nature) meant that you had already lost the battle of wands. There was, after all, a reason he stubbornly spent five to ten minutes every night vainly trying to summon his wand to his hand from across a room: Harry honestly felt that if a wizard was ever caught without a wand at the ready, he pretty much deserved whatever happened to him.
But while Harry made his apologies to a somewhat disappointed Remus Lupin, Theo No-Name actually chose to continue. As he explained to Harry and Blaise, whatever the practical value of Wu Xi Do, it couldn't possibly hurt to cultivate a relationship with the Boy-Who-Lived, one that might lead people who were on the fence about the whole "No-Name" thing to think more positively of him. Also, since Theo and Harry had agreed not to maintain a public friendship, it would have reflected poorly on Harry if the other Slytherins had learned he was taking lessons in some exotic magical technique from the Caretaker while in the company of both the Outcast and the Boy-Who-Lived. Since Theo actually was interested in the lessons Brother Chandra offered, it made sense for him to be the one to continue them while Harry withdrew.
8 October 1993
The Tonks Clinic and Residence
Ted and Andromeda both awoke instantly at the sensation of their home's wards being breached a split second before they registered the sound of the glass shattering downstairs. Ted was the first one to jump out of bed and grab his wand, but Andi was close behind.
"Stay here," he said automatically. "I'll check it out." Then, he flinched at the look his wife gave him.
"Stay here?" she spat. "I'll ignore the inherent chauvinism in that comment and simply remind you that I was the one who took an O on my DADA NEWT!"
Ted gulped and then cracked a smile. "Well, you know what they say: There's no vinism like chauvinism!"
At that, Andi punched him in the arm before stalking out of the bedroom, her husband close behind. In the second floor hallway, they met up with Nymphadora who also seemed ready for battle. Andi told Dora to go back to her room, a sentiment that was taken even less well than Ted's earlier comment to Andi, and after a brief whispered argument, all three crept downstairs.
There were no signs of an intruder, but there was a smashed window, and on the floor below it sat a brick with a message tied to it. Iris, the house elf, stood on tip-toe to peer out another window, but she reported with some anger that whoever threw the brick was long gone. With a flick of Nymphadora's wand, the message was summoned from the brick and levitated in front of the three.
"NO OUTCASTS IN HOG'S MEED!" it said in crude block letters.
Andi scoffed even as she cast a Reparo to fix the broken window. "It takes a special kind of imbecile to misspell Hogsmeade in a hate letter urging us to banish Theo from it."
Her daughter, the auror-in-training, was more thoughtful. "An imbecile. Or maybe just someone who's not from around here."
After checking the perimeter and casting some stronger protective wards, the Tonkses agreed to contact the DMLE in the morning. Then, they returned to bed, not noticing as they went that Iris stayed behind to study the brick with an expression perhaps best described as a mixture of fear, sadness, and resignation.
On the other side of Hogsmeade, Fenrir Greyback gestured with his wand. Well, he considered it his wand. It had picked him, after all, when he claimed it from the corpse of the prior owner who he'd killed and devoured years before. In response to the werewolf's movements, a thick black liquid drifted up out of a cannister onto the wall of Quality Quidditch Supplies to spell out "OUTCAST! GET OUT OF HOGSMEADE!" in graffiti. Fenrir had already left such messages on four other buildings around town. According to Pettigrew, the potions added to the black paint would make it extremely difficult to remove the graffiti. More importantly, they would have the special benefit of putting ideas into the minds of villagers who saw the messages. Or if not ideas then at least predispositions. It probably wouldn't affect people naturally immune to the Ultimate Sanction, but it would certainly heighten the normal reaction among those who were affected. Not that Fenris cared about the Sanction one way or the other, but in this instance, it was certainly convenient for their plans.
According to the Daily Quibbler, this same potion was sometimes added to the ink used in the Daily Prophet to cause its readers to consider it more a more credible news source. Neither Fenrir nor Peter knew whether that conspiracy theory was true or not (probably not given Xeno Lovegood's reputation), but they were both amused at the irony in Peter's current plan. If everything worked right, the same Ultimate Sanction that Tiberius Nott used as a vindictive punishment for his younger son would also aid in snatching his future bride right out of his clutches during their upcoming meeting in Hogsmeade.
There was a soft pop as Stavros, a member of Fenrir's pack, apparated to his side, his mission to the Tonks Clinic completed.
"It's done," he said before taking in Fenrir's work with a furrowed brow. "Is that how you spell Hogsmeade?"
Fenrir glared at Stavros, who blanched at the werewolf's expression. It was unwise to be flippant to one's alpha the night before the full moon, after all. Fenrir packed up the rest of the magical paint he'd been using and apparated back to their base with Stavros following a second later.
The little boy had been lost in the woods for longer than he could remember, and as the night got colder, he'd ended up huddled under a tree sobbing quietly and shivering both from the cold and from fear. For he knew that there was a monster after him, a great and terrible monster that would devour him whole if it caught him. Then, the boy gasped in terror as a demonic howl erupted from farther into the woods. It was some distance away, but closer than the last time he'd heard it just a few minutes before. The boy began to weep piteously. He was alone and cold and the monster would be here soon. Then, as that thought rippled through his terrified mind, the boy heard another sound much closer. He turned and saw that the bushes just a few feet away were rustling as some thing pushed its way through them. And the distant howl that had so frightened the boy was now replaced by a different animal sound. A low, hungry growl.
The bushes parted, and the boy screamed.
10 October 1993
The Shrieking Shack, Hogsmeade
Remus Lupin awoke with a loud gasp to find himself nude on the dusty wooden floor of the Shrieking Shack, then he rose slowly and gingerly while trying to get his bearings. The Wolfsbane Potion had allowed him to retain most of his human intellect during his transformations, but it did very little for the lingering pain of having all the bones in his body reshape themselves and then do so again eight hours later, nor did it allow him many clear memories of the prior night's events. On the bright side, there were no new scars on his body, though he did suffer the sensation of something gamey stuck between his teeth.
"Ah yes," he recalled. "There had been a deer carcass here last night, hadn't there. Hagrid's doing." He barely had time to notice the gory remains lying on the floor across the room when a cheerful voice made him jump in surprise.
"Good morning!" said Dumbledore brightly. "And how are you feeling today, Remus?"
Remus looked around and saw the older man sitting behind him at a small breakfast table that had not been there the night before. There was a covered silver tray on the table, but even from across the room, Remus's acute senses could detect eggs, juice and bacon.
"Neither as tired nor as sore as normal, Headmaster. Though perhaps a bit embarrassed to be seen in the altogether by a professor. Last time, you weren't here when I woke up the next day."
"Yes, I had a early morning Wizengamot committee meeting the day after your September transformation. Besides, as I've already said, it's nothing I haven't seen before." For some reason, that sentiment made Remus blush even further. "But permit me to make a concession to your modesty."
With that, Dumbledore waved his wand, and a cloth napkin from the table flew across the room, expanding and changing as it went until it landed at Remus's side in the form of a terrycloth bathrobe. Remus quickly donned the robe before joining Albus at the table. Despite eating most of a deer the night before, he was every bit as hungry as he normally was on the morning after a transformation. It had been speculated that both transformations drew on the body's life energies to an unhealthy degree, thus instilling a ravenous hunger after each. But at that thought, Remus frowned at the memory of who had made that speculation to him.
After removing the lid, the werewolf prepared a plate for himself of eggs and fruit while steadfastly ignoring the bacon. Deep inside, the Beast whined petulantly, but Remus ignored it as usual. It had devoured a whole deer the night before without his consent, so it could go hungry for a while.
"So how much do you recall from last night?" Albus asked.
Remus shrugged. "Not much. I remember some periods of activity, but not all. And even for what I do remember, everything felt sluggish, as though I had been drugged. Which, in a sense, I suppose I had been." He looked into Dumbledore's eyes. "How long were you here, Albus?"
"Most of the night," he replied. "Fortuitously, this full moon fell on a Saturday night, so I felt I could stay up and observe events this time. I have nothing pressing for this particular Sunday, so I'll be returning to Hogwarts soon to get some sleep. I suggest you do likewise."
Remus nodded but then furrowed his brow. "Did we ... talk at some point?"
"We did indeed, after a fashion. Unsurprisingly, you were neither as gregarious nor as erudite as you normally are – the vocal cords and mouth cavity of a werewolf were not meant for human speech – but I could tell that you were you. A bit ill-tempered and surly and with a diminished intellect, but it was unquestionably a sane and perfectly non-violent Remus Lupin whose eyes looked back into my own."
"If you don't mind, I should like to see your memories of that later," Remus said.
"Of course. But later this week after you're fully recovered." Dumbledore looked at him curiously. "The werewolf fell asleep just before dawn, and you transformed soon after. I allowed you to sleep some more, but you seemed to be having a nightmare." He paused. "Was it the same one?"
"Yes," Remus said ruefully. "After all these years, still the exact same dream. Little Remus John Lupin is lost in the woods and terrified when a werewolf howls in the distance and then some beast jumps out of the brambles at me. Then, I wake up. And after these years, I still don't know what it means."
"It is related to the circumstances under which you were bitten, surely."
He shrugged. "I suppose. I just don't understand the context. Fenrir Greyback attacked and bit me while I was asleep in my bedroom at my parents' house. I can't recall any incidents from my childhood when I was lost in the woods and pursued by a werewolf or any other animal. Also, I don't remember ever having the dream until sometime after I turned 13."
"Perhaps it has some symbolic significance."
"Perhaps," Remus said before digging back into his eggs. "But after all these years, I still have no clue what it could mean."
Dumbledore had no answers either, so he said nothing in reply. Although he did reach over to help himself to the bacon that the vegetarian werewolf had eschewed.
15 October 1993
Immediately after taking roll, Professor Trelawney looked up through her coke-bottle glasses and noticed that Lavender Brown was waving her arm excitedly.
"Yes, child?" she inquired.
Lavender stood and moved to where she could see everyone. "Before we start the class , Professor, I have an announcement to make. On the first day of Divination, you warned me that something I was dreading would happen around this time. I didn't know what that might mean, so I asked Hermione Granger. And she was able to interpret the prophecy and warn me that my pet rabbit, Binky, might be in danger. So I took her advice and asked my mother to have a house elf keep a close eye on Binky. Today at breakfast, I received a message from her saying that yesterday Binky had gotten out of his cage somehow, but the house elf rescued him right as a fox was closing in!"
At that, about half the class (including the instructor) gasped in credulous wonderment at the announcement, while the other half was merely bemused by it. Hermione, who had been trying to stifle a yawn since entering the hot stuffy room, suddenly perked up and looked at Lavender through wide eyes.
"And so," Lavender continued, "I just wanted to thank both of you. If it hadn't been for the wisdom of not one but two seers, poor Binky would have been eaten."
With that, Lavender started applauding both Trelawney and Hermione, and everyone soon joined in with varying degrees of enthusiasm. The sound of the clapping was just loud enough to cover up what Hermione muttered through painfully clenched teeth. "It was the last thing on her bloody list!"
Professor Trelawney, meanwhile, seemed to be in a state of rapture as she turned towards Hermione. "Oh my child! I knew that the Fates had touched you and that your Third Eye was on the cusp of opening! Please, child, have you any more insights for us?"
Every eye turned to Hermione Granger, who blushed under the unexpected attention. Then, for just a second, she narrowed her eyes towards Lavender towards whom she was suddenly feeling ill-disposed. She looked down at the table and addressed the room in a portentous tone.
"I ... I suppose it is proper for me to share my ... my gift. Or whatever. For the last week or so, I've been under a great deal of stress, in part due to lack of sleep."
"Lavender and I have both noticed," said Parvati with condescending sympathy.
"Well the thing is ... I've been having ... dreams." She fought down the urge to laugh both at how theatrically she said the last word and also at the reactions it caused among her more credulous classmates.
"What sort of dreams?" Trelawney asked in awe.
"Well," Hermione continued. "The thing of it is ... I don't really remember them very well when I wake up. I just recall this strange sense of ... doom."
"Doom?!" Lavender squeaked.
"Yes, Lavender. Doom ... for you. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the Hogsmeade weekend that's coming up at the end of the month. I feel very strongly that if you go to Hogsmeade, something ... dreadful will happen to you."
The other Gryffindor's eyes widened. "But ... but... it's the first Hogsmeade weekend! I've been waiting two years to go to Hogsmeade! I can't just ..."
"Dooooooom," Hermione said in a commanding spooky voice.
Lavender went pale and swallowed painfully before sitting back down. The effect was even more pronounced on Professor Trelawney. "Oh my heavens! Yes, yes, Miss Brown, I urge you to take Seer Granger's advice to heart! Why, now that she has pointed it out, I too can see clearly the web of misfortune that surrounds you. You must not go to Hogsmeade at the end of this month!"
Then, she turned to address the entire class. "Clearly, this has been an eventful and stressful class session for one day, and I want all of you to meditate on what you have seen here and ponder on how each of you can open your own Third Eye as Seer Granger has. You are all dismissed."
Neville looked at his watch in confusion. "But ... we've only been in class for three minutes..."
"Shhh!" Hermione hissed at him in a fierce whisper. "This means we've got a free period before our next class! Just go with it!"
29 October 1993
From a letter to Theo No-Name ...
My Dearest Theo,
I hope this letter finds you well. I know that your first Hogsmeade weekend approaches, and Ted, Nymphadora and I are all looking forward to seeing you so you can tell us all about how your year has been over lunch. However, I would be remise if I did not warn you of certain disturbing developments. For the past several weeks, offensive graffiti attacking "the Outcast" and demanding that you not return to Hogsmeade.
As you know, I was a Black long before I became a Tonks, and while I am no longer a part of that family, I am still Black enough to never bow to intimidation. Not only are you still welcome in our home, but I insist you come visit us this Saturday. We all miss you, especially Nymphadora who has come to view you as something like a "little brother." But I did want you to be aware of what has been happening in our little village so you would not be alarmed if you happened to come across any of this nonsense without forewarning.
Theo read the letter twice before putting it away. It had come during dinner, but he waited until afterwards to read it. There had been a brief flurry of interest in the question of "who would ever bother sending an owl to him?" and he did not wish to draw any further attention from his house-mates. Instead, he waited until he was outside the door of the empty classroom where Mr. Sturgeon (or whatever his name was supposed to be) taught self-defense to a select group of students. He wasn't yet certain that he was gaining any occult benefits from Wu Xi Do, but it did seem to help with anxiety a bit. And also with dodging hexes which he had been forced to do twice this week. As he returned the letter to his bag, he noticed Jim and Ron coming up. To his surprise, Hermione was with them.
"Decided to join us in self-defense, Hermione?" he asked with some surprise.
"Sorry, but I don't have enough hours in the day as it is," she answered. "Ron and I have been wanting to talk to you, but you skipped last night's SPAM meeting – I still can't believe we're calling it that – and we haven't had any classes with you today. We were wondering if you'll be visiting the Tonkses this weekend."
Theo thought back to the warning letter he'd just read, and his eyes narrowed slightly. "Why do you ask?
Hermione nudged Ron who spoke up with some mild embarrassment. "Well, the thing is ... I've been looking into becoming a Healer, but I've never even really met one before other than Madam Pomfrey. Hermione suggested that since there's a medical clinic in Hogsmeade, it might be a good idea to meet them and find out what the job's actually like. And if maybe they might want someone to help around the place next summer."
"Yes," Hermione said excitedly. "Magical healing sounds fascinating to me as well. I'd love to come along if only to meet the Tonkses. I've heard so much about them!"
Theo nodded somewhat guardedly. "Well, I'll be going over there for lunch on Saturday and will stay a few hours. I don't suppose they'd mind if you came in and introduced yourselves."
"Wonderful! I'm so excited!" Hermione exclaimed. Ron was not quite as openly enthusiastic, but he still seemed pleased.
"I'd love to join you all," said Jim, "but I'll be with my parents and my Uncle Pete most of the day. Maybe some other time?"
Theo nodded, and then Jim and Ron headed into the classroom. Hermione was just about to leave when Theo called out to her.
"So, just between us," Theo asked somewhat suspiciously. "Was it Ron's idea to meet with the Tonkses? Or your's?"
"... what do you mean?" Hermione answered after a brief pause.
"I mean, Ron has known I've been living with them for a while, but he's never expressed any interest in meeting them before now. Meanwhile, you're the one who seems to have taken me on as her 'special project' for the year. I was wondering if you'd put the idea into his head."
She blushed "Well, I ... I wouldn't say I put the idea there. I did mention it as a possibility..."
"Hermione! I don't need bodyguards just to get from Hogwarts to the Tonks Clinic!"
"Theo," she replied. "We're not going as ... bodyguards or anything like that. Ron really does want to meet some actual healers. And so do I."
"Uh-huh," Theo answered, still somewhat angry. "Well alright. You can come. But as my friends, not as ... as people who've taken pity on me. I don't want or need that. Which, by the way, is why I'm taking a break from SPAM. I figure if I stay there much longer, you and Anthony will start ... experimenting on me or something."
Hermione flinched. "I'm ... sorry you feel that way, Theo. I guess I'll be going now." She turned quickly and fled down the hallway.
Theo looked anguished for a moment and almost called after her. While he was somewhat frustrated by Hermione's over-protectiveness, he knew it was out of kindness and that she didn't deserve for him to hurt her feelings. But she was already gone. Theo closed his eyes, counted to ten, and then went into the classroom, hoping to work out his frustrations by punching imaginary opponents. In his head, they all looked like Tiberius Nott.
31 October 1993
After some angry letters from Andromeda Tonks to the DMLE, a night-time security patrol was added to Hogsmeade, though it consisted of DMLE generaly security personnel rather than actual aurors. Their numbers were small though, and after a few nights, the pattern of their patrols was easy to predict. If anyone on the security detail observed a rat scurrying down the edge of the street in the direction of the Tonks Clinic, none of them thought anything of it.
Minutes later, Peter Pettigrew was satisfied that he had plenty of time before the patrol circled back around. With a soft pop, the rat turned back into a man. From his pocket, Peter produced several sheets of parchment covered in runes. Very special runes that he'd been provided years before by very special friends that he'd been saving for a very special occasion. He crept up to the edge of the Tonkses ward line, secured one of the parchments to the ground with a Permanent Sticking Charm, and then cast a Disillusionment Charm to hide it. This was perhaps the most dangerous part of his plan. Pettigrew did not expect any of the locals to see through the concealing spells, but he knew Mad-Eye Moody had taken up residence in Hogsmeade for some reason. If the paranoid auror with the roving magical eye happened to come this way before the festivities started and saw the parchments, the whole plan might be put into jeopardy.
Peter set that concern aside as he added three more warding parchments around the clinic at each of the cardinal directions. He was a Gryffindor through and through. Big risks meant big rewards.
31 October 1993
A small meeting room in the Slytherin dungeons
"Are you ready for this?"
Amy nodded, her calm exterior almost concealing the glimmer of worry in her eyes. Harry gave her a reassuring smile. Greg stood behind her, popping his knuckles nervously and in general completely failing to show the same degree of poise as his adopted little sister. Harry continued.
"I'll be leaving for Hogsmeade just after breakfast. Blaise and I will be in the Three Broomsticks by eleven o'clock and remain there through your meeting. Greg will bring you to Hogsmeade at quarter to noon. You will meet the Goyles and Nott in the common area of the Three Broomsticks and then retire to a private dining room upstairs. I will remain below and wait until you come out again."
She nodded again, and he put his hand on her shoulder reassuringly.
"Remember, Amy. Based on everything we know, nothing is going to happen up there. Nott just wants to meet with you. Under British wizarding marriage laws, the two of you must meet face to face at least three times in the year before the marriage, and this is just number one. And each meeting has to be chaperoned."
She flinched at that, and Harry knew why. The "chaperones" would be Mr. and Mrs. Goyle, which under the circumstances might be worse than no chaperone at all. Still, his assessment seemed accurate. There was no reason to think that Nott wanted anything more out of this meeting than to tick off one of the legal requirements for a wizarding marriage contract involving an Ancient and Noble family.
"But – if anything happens that is unexpected or frightens you, shoot off some fireworks and I'll be there as soon as I can." Harry squeezed her shoulder. "I know this is frightening for you." He looked up into Greg's eyes. "For both of you. But we will all get through this if we face our fears without giving in to them. Just for today – find your inner Gryffindor."
Amy actually laughed at that, though Greg still looked vaguely nauseous.
"And you're sure you can stop the wedding?" he asked nervously.
"Yes," Harry said simply. "But I've got to do it when the time is right." He smiled confidently. "And when I do, it will amaze you how easy it was."
Whether he truly was as confident as he sounded or was just faking it, Harry's words had the desired effect. Well, mostly.
"Just to be clear though," Greg said. "If you don't get Amy out of this, at a minimum, I'm gonna punch you in the face really hard."
Harry was unfazed. "Well of course! That goes without saying."
At nine o'clock, students began passing through the main doors of Hogwarts while Caretaker Sturgeon dutifully took down their names and reminded them to return by 6:00 p.m. or they would receive detention for tardiness. The Third Years were the last to leave and were escorted en masse by several prefects who had been assigned to show them around the small village for the first hour before letting them loose to explore on their own. The group made their collective way down the long pathway from the school to the village. The day was unseasonably cold and gloomy, and despite their best efforts to ignore it, a few of them couldn't help looking over to the cloud of dementors that hung over the Forbidden Forest.
Once in Hogsmeade, the prefects began pointing out various features of interest. Harry had already seen everything worth seeing under Mad-Eye Moody's guidance and so was rather bored by the tour, but he was pleased to note the presence of several aurors all over town as added security for the day. Unfortunately for the prefects, all order soon broke down when the tour carried them past Quality Quidditch Supplies. A sign hanging from the top of the building proudly announced the arrival of a sample broom from the recently established Firebolt Company, specifically the prototype 'Firebolt Seeker' that had been custom-ordered by the Bulgarian National Team for use by their latest recruit, international Quidditch phenom Victor Krum. A life-sized cutout of the 16-year-old Krum stood in the window next to special broom, only eight of which had been produced so far. The price tag left even Harry shocked.
"How can a Firebolt possibly cost that much more than a Nimbus 2001?" he asked the store manager incredulously.
"Well, it's got that new Redistributed Gravity Charm, you see!" the salesman replied jovially. "It's a new Charm what the company founder Randolph Spudmore's come up with. 'E's got a patent on it, so no other broom company can use it even if'n they figure it out themselves!"
"Redistributed ... Gravity ... Charm?" Harry asked cautiously. "What does that do?"
"Well, ya'see, gravity is what makes things want to fall to the ground when ya drops 'em. It's somethin' Muggles come up with."
"Yes," the boy interrupted in annoyance. "I'm aware of gravity, thank you."
"Hmmf," said the salesman, miffed at the interruption. "Well then, I reckon you know that a normal broom has to fight against gravity while in flight, especially while acceleratin'. But not the Firebolt, though! While the Redistributed Gravity Charm is active, 'down' always refers ta wherever the broomstick is pointed. No drag on acceleration a'tall. It'll make pulling off a Wronsky Feint as easy as pulling up on the stick."
Harry's eyebrows shot up. If the salesman was explaining the Charm properly, then the Firebolt Company would have the edge over every other broom company in Europe for years to come. He made a mental note to send an owl to Artie to find out if he was invested in Firebolt Co. ... or any of its competitors. While most of his peers were content to simply ogle the new broom, Harry spent the next fifteen minutes talking with the salesman about its specifications.
Later, around 11:00, Harry's group split up, with Harry and his brother making their way to the Three Broomsticks for an early lunch with the Potters. Since school had begun, Harry had "enjoyed" three luncheons with Lily, Jim, and Snape on school grounds. That is to say, he'd spent three periods with his mother and brother that were only mildly excruciating as he made casual small talk about his schoolwork without mentioning anything he considered overly personal (or worse, illegal) all while ignoring the grinding of Snape's teeth. Today, however, James would be joining the group for the school's first Hogsmeade weekend. And, Harry supposed, so that the Chief Auror could be seen overseeing security and boosting morale.
In a way, James's presence was convenient, as it gave Snape an excuse to leave Hogwarts and Hogmeade entirely, thus giving him cover for his secret journey to Longbottom Manor for another round of interrogating the LeStranges. Unfortunately, both Artie and Hestia were unable to make it today, but luckily, they were able to retain the services of a chaperone for Harry whose qualifications James could not deny.
"Good morning, Mr. Moody," Harry said warmly to his tutor whose intimidating presence today also allowed him to meet with his parents without causing any legal complications.
"Potter," Mad-Eye Moody said gruffly. "Or Potters, I guess I should say." While Harry was quite familiar with Moody (almost on a first name basis, in fact), Jim had never formally met the legendary ex-auror before and was suitably awestruck. Lily was polite and inviting, but James was visibly uncomfortable with his former mentor's presence. A few minutes later, the Three Broomsticks' fireplace flared up, and last two lunch guests stepped through. One, to Harry's surprise, was Minister Fudge. The other was not a surprise, but neither was it pleasing to him.
"Good afternoon all!" Peter Pettigrew said cheerfully. "I hope I haven't missed any excitement." He grinned at the Potters and Moody. Neither Mad-Eye nor Harry smiled back.
A second-story storage room
atop Ceridwen's Cauldron Shop (across the street from the Tonks Clinic)
"There's the Outcast," muttered Scabior. "And he ain't alone."
Scabior and the men with him were waiting for Fenrir to transmit the order to commence the attack. They were all antsy at this point. Scabior, like several of his gang, were former short-term Azkaban inmates. They weren't good at taking orders in the best of times, even from someone as intimidating as Fenrir Greyback, and while none of them admitted it, the thought of that many Dementors barely a mile a way was terrifying. But they'd been hired by Sirius Black himself (or so they thought), and he was someone they feared ever more than Greyback.
"Who's that with him?" asked Janos, the one Greyback had sent to lead the attack. Scabior nearly sneered at the werewolf but caught himself. However loathsome werewolves might be in his eyes, only a fool insulted one to his face.
Scabior shrugged instead. "Two dumb kids who chose the wrong boy to make friends with," he said as, down below, Theo No-Name knocked on the door to the Tonks Clinic, Ron and Hermione at his side. All of them were oblivious to the hidden curse wards that they unwittingly walked past on their way into the building.
The Leaky Cauldron
Lunch with the Potters was surprisingly not horrible, even with Pettigrew on hand. While Harry still disliked the man intensely (and with good reason), he grudgingly came to hold a certain respect for his self-discipline and skill at misdirection. As the boy's Legilimency skills had grown from intuitive leaps into deliberate analyses, Harry had gotten quite good at reading people. And yet, had he not already known that the man was a Death Eater, he'd have never guessed it from their casual conversation. Finally, after half an hour, Harry figured out the trick.
"He makes a point of trying to act charming and likeable and deliberately failing," Harry realized. "And because he fails to be charming and likeable, people think they see through him and find Lord Potter's ruthless fixer behind the false image. And they never guess that the ruthless fixer is just another false image to hide the back-stabbing Death Eater that represents his true self."
It reminded Harry of his recent conversation with Snape about using Occlumency to establish separate personalities that could work in tandem, and to his surprise, Harry deduced that Peter must be an Occlumens himself. That realization, along with his disappointment with how under-seasoned Madam Rosmerta's famous Shepherd's Pie was were his two biggest takeaways of the luncheon.
For his part, Fudge wasn't nearly as unctuous as Harry had expected. The Minister had been polite to him – as befitted the Potter Heir – and had at least feigned interest in Harry at least as much as in the Boy-Who-Lived. Indeed, Harry was mildly impressed that Fudge seemed to know the first name of nearly every adult witch and wizard in the Three Broomsticks. Nevertheless, it was obvious that Jim was the real reason for his presence. No less than four reporters had shown up to document the Boy-Who-Lived's first Hogsmeade Weekend (which Harry thought was ridiculous overkill for such a minor occasion), and several pictures were taken of the Minister, the Chief Auror, and the Chosen One all standing together and smiling insincerely. Moody plainly found the whole scene distasteful, but Harry was surprised at the look of smoldering anger Lily continually directed towards both James and Minister Fudge when no one else's attention was on her.
Just before noon, the group finished their meal, with Minister Fudge magnanimously paying for it all before heading back to London via floo. The Potters, Jim, and Pettigrew rose for a walk around Hogsmeade, but Harry and Moody begged off with Harry explaining that he was waiting for some friends who hadn't arrived yet. As the first group left the inn, Peter stopped on the porch and knelt down to tie his shoe. He did not look up to see if the man hidden under a Disillusionment Charm in the alley across the street saw his signal. He'd known the man for years, after all, and so Peter had complete faith in Fenrir Greyback's professionalism.
Seconds later, the signal had been passed to Scabior and Janos on the other side of town. Janos pulled a small case out of his pocket and opened it. Inside were two vials, one containing a foul-looking potion and the other a single black hair. He carefully dropped the hair into the potion, and after it changed color, he threw his head back and downed it in a single gulp. As the Polyjuice Potion took effect, Janos smiled cruelly. Their employer wanted a big distraction.
You could hardly get more distracting than Sirius Black himself leading an attack on Hogsmeade.
Next: Pandemonium at Hogsmeade!
AN 1: Okay, let's try this again, since this website apparently hates all websites including itself. From now on, future updates to HP&POS will appear first at The Sinister Man's website, the address for which can be found on my Author page. Each update will then be posted here one to two days later. To read these preview chapters, register at my Discord page for the password. The address for the Discord page is also on my Author Page. Please check it out to see if you want to support my forthcoming original fiction.
First up is Strangers In Boston. I've described it as "Harry Potter in America ... except he's seventeen ... and there are no wands, teachers, or schools ... and using magic improperly can drive you insane, unleash apocalyptic horrors, or both." The first chapter is up at the Sinister Man's website for free, with future chapters posted every other Thursday for Patrons.
Finally, we also have both a Wiki and a TV Tropes page for POS, and faithful readers are encouraged to contribute to both. Web addresses for all the foregoing are likewise on my Author Page.
AN 2: I had planned on replacing the original Chapter 84, which was previously an empty AN page, with a replacement chapter, but I totally jacked that up. Sorry. "Broderick Bode and the Chimes of Calamity" is now the new Chapter 101 and was just uploaded. Go read it now if you haven't. It is not necessary to read prior to reading this page.
AN 3: (updated) I forgot to mention that there's a HP&POS audio project in the works as well. We've got a narrator and audio people, but if folks want to help, they should join the Discord server and contact Ozzie.