J K Rowling owns all the rights to the books and the amazing characters she created. I write only to satisfy my imagination and use my creativity and make no money from my writings.

Chapter 1 – Sorry

"Please Harry, YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE ME," Hermione Granger said imploringly, "I'm still your friend and I've always believed in you."

"Well MUDBLOOD you have a funny way of showing it now don't you," came the cruel reply.

For once in her life Hermione was speechless – for about 15 seconds – while it sunk in that Harry James Potter, the most noble, brave, gentle and considerate person she had ever met had just called her that foul name. However she quickly snapped back to the task at hand, namely that of trying to get Harry Potter back on the correct path, the path of the Light as led by Albus Dumbledore.

So she swallowed her pride and anger and renewed her attack on the easily crushed emotional shields of Harry James Potter.

"Harry, I was only following orders – Professor Dumbledore's orders – she added for emphasis. He was only trying to discover who had put your name in the Goblet and to do that we all had to make everyone think you had cheated and lied your way into the Tournament.'

"DRAGON DUNG" was the only reply. Then gentle Harry glared at the girl before using his magic (wandlessly no less) to push her out of the train compartment and then lock the door, close the curtains and cast silencing charms.

"Well that went well," Neville Longbottom said after the deed was done.

"Only until we arrive at Hogwarts and she gets to pounce on me again," came the reply. "She knows she is in a lot of trouble and the consequences if she doesn't get back in my good graces so she won't give up only because she can't."

Harry was correct in his assessment as Hermione Granger knew what was really at stake. It wasn't just her life and future at stake but several others including Albus Dumbledore, the wizard she had chosen to believe in, follow and obey to the detriment of all other relationships.

She pounded on the door of the compartment after first trying to disable the magic Harry had placed on it. Usually she would have no trouble as she knew she was just so much better, talented and powerful in magic than Harry Potter.

Well, he could do a few things better than her such as mastering the Patronus spell, magical dueling and he was currently acknowledged as the best flyer at Hogwarts while Hermione refused to get on a broom due to her fear of heights. And yes, he had demonstrated he could use wandless magic but as Dumbledore had explained to her that was just a fluke, a case of accidental magic manifesting itself in a desperate situation.

People were starting to stare at the new Gryffindor fifth year female Prefect as she first demanded and then started to politely ask, then implore to be let in and explain things. At last it became embarrassing especially when the Head Boy approached her and order her to "Give up and start your patrol."

She had no other choice but to do as ordered but her mind was not on her job and she did it on autopilot. Her mind went back to how it had all began 11 months ago when Harry Potter's name came out of the Goblet making him the unwilling fourth champion in the Triwizard Tournament.

It had been a huge scandal and the beginning of the end of many things, such as the end of the only real friendship she had…and maybe ever would have.

At first she had been shocked almost as much as Harry had been when his name came out of the Goblet. She knew he wouldn't have touched that contest with the proverbial ten foot pole as she had done extensive research on it and it was very dangerous. The danger, political manipulations and unethical behavior had been some of the reasons the Tournament hadn't been held since 1792. Why it was suddenly brought back was cause for much speculation but the Ministry of Magic was publicizing it and saying it was for the furthering of international cooperation and comradery.

Most of the school wanted to enter the contest for the "fame, glory and money" especially 98% of all Gryffindor males. Ron would have given anything to be picked, not that he would stand a snowball's chance in hell of surviving, but that didn't stop his enthusiasm or constantly talking about it. The Weasley Twins were desperately trying to figure out a way to get around the many spells Dumbledore had placed around it but had failed miserably as had others.

Much to Hermione's disgust, some of her female housemates were entering their names such as Angelina Johnston. Even the first years were dreaming about being a champion despite definitely not having the knowledge or power to enter. Other than herself only Harry and Neville expressed disinterest in entering.

Despite swearing that he didn't enter, no one believed Harry – except Hermione and Neville. Their House was divided between those who were shocked that his name had come out and those who were ecstatic that Gryffindor had gotten a champion and one sneaky enough to have beaten the wards created by Dumbledore.

Ron had been furious because Harry hadn't shared the secret with his best mate so that he could have entered and lashed out on his friend the moment he came back from the champions' meeting. Almost immediately he had started calling Harry names, accusing him of all sorts of perfidy and within two days it seemed that he had succeeded in turning the entire Gryffindor House against him – except for Neville and Hermione.

At first Hermione had tried to talk sense into Ron but he wouldn't hear of it and demanded that she make a choice. It was either Harry, the lying, cheating, treacherous excuse for a friend who wouldn't share and was nothing but a shameless glory-seeking, selfish, Half-blood bastard son of a Mudblood whore or Ron and the many other truly noble, brave, honorable REAL Gryffindors who were angry and scandalized by Harry's behavior.

Hermione knew Harry was innocent and had volunteered to help him but then…. McGonagall had fetched her on the sly (as she had done many times) and she had been taken to Dumbledore's office for a conference and to receive her new assignment.

Ever since the "troll incident" in their first year, Hermione had been helping Dumbledore "help Harry" not only with his school work but to keep him on the right path, the path of the Light as led by Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard since Merlin, as well as protecting him from those who would only use him or seek to cause him harm.

Dumbledore carefully explained to Hermione, who he had recognized as a brave, noble, honorable, powerful, talented, intelligent girl, as someone Harry needed as a friend and advisor. Therefore she had been "allowed" to become one of his very select friends. She was given the very great honor of helping Dumbledore protect, guide, educate and mold Harry Potter into the wizard he was meant to be.

Apparently Harry had a destiny to fulfill and, as Dumbledore had confided in the girl, he was not all that he should be and was a big disappointment to the Great Wizard and thus would need careful handling. He would be tested every year during his school years to prepare him for this unnamed destiny and Hermione had been chosen (because of all of those qualities she possessed) to help Harry.

It was a dream come true for Hermione that she could prove her worth and show not only the great Albus Dumbledore but the entire Magical World just what a truly dedicated, talented, intelligent, Muggleborn girl named Hermione Granger could do. It would make her career and put her on the fast track to becoming a legend like her idol Rowena Ravenclaw.

The bad side of her dream was the nightmare known as Ronald Bilius Weasley. He truly hated her and the feeling was mutual. When first informed that he would be working with Hermione he had left Dumbledore's office and pulled the girl into a deserted classroom and beat the living stuffing out of her to "show her who was the real boss" and put her in her place.

If she didn't obey him, do everything he said, HE WOULD DESTROY HER as he was a Weasley, the most faithful and important family of Dumbledore's followers and which held great influence with the great wizard himself. "Dumbledore would never believe a worthless piece of shit like the Mudblood Granger over ME," he had told her, "So watch out Muddy, you slimy, smelly, UGLY, bossy, worthless…."

He didn't get to finish his sentence as McGonagall had followed the pair back to Gryffindor and heard what he had told the girl and watched just long enough as he unmercifully beat her so that she would have all of the evidence needed to protect Hermione from Ron and the other Weasleys. McGonagall was not the only one of Dumbledore's other followers who despised certain members of the Weasley family and she would not let this…son-of-a-Molly-Prewett become a male version of his bitch of a mother.

Not that she ever knew it but Hermione was saved not only because of McGonagall but because Dumbledore knew exactly the type of person Ron Weasley was. He needed him for certain things but the boy had no tact, no common sense, and no real ability other than to be ready, willing and able to do anything which Dumbledore ordered him to do as he was blessed with the lack of a conscious. He was, however, expendable and had been told so by an angry Dumbledore. "Granger is needed more than you are and if you don't behave yourself and cooperate, YOUR SERVICES WILL NO LONGER BE REQUIRED AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS."

Ron did so after Granger's injuries were healed (it only took one night thanks to magical medicine and McGonagall rescuing her before any real harm could be done), not only did Dumbledore make him apologize to the girl but he was forced to take an oath not to do certain things AND TO OBEY DUMBLEDORE'S ORDERS TO THE LETTER.

So for the past four years Hermione and Ron co-existed, both proving to be good actors in hiding their real feelings about each other from the world. They were only allowed to argue and Ron was only allowed to verbally abuse her and only in public and in front of Harry, because despite the oath Dumbledore knew that Ron would still threatened and intimidate the girl and ruin everything.

It had been a difficult four years with Ron always trying to make Hermione heel to his wants, but one which he mostly lost. The closest he had come to "defeating the Mudblood" was last year with the broom incident when she had (at the advice of Dumbledore) taken Harry's new broom to McGonagall to be inspected. Dumbledore wanted it inspected but didn't want to be seen as "the badie" so had Granger to do it. It had also given a "reward for services rendered" to Ron as he got to gloat and scare Hermione until things calmed down.

However, after she left Dumbledore's office she had new orders. She was to assist Ron in his slandering of Harry because it was part of one of Dumbledore's plans to toughen him up and teach him…whatever he wanted Harry taught at the moment. Naturally he wouldn't tell Hermione or even McGonagall and the other teachers the reasons why only that it had to be done for the Greater Good.

So a near heartbroken Hermione had to use her best acting skills to tell Harry that after some careful thinking and examination of the evidence and (this was the worst part of it all) after listening to the arguments of Ron and others in authority, she now believed that he had paid someone to put his name in the Goblet as a prank and thought that he wouldn't be allowed to participate as a fourth champion and would then get out of it.

It had nearly broken her heart having to listen to her friend's protestations of innocence yet having to ignore them. Then she had to make the truly outrageous demand ordered by Dumbledore that Harry had to admit that he really had cheated, lied and paid someone to put his name in the Goblet and then apologize to the entire House of Gryffindor, especially Ron Weasley. If he refused, then she would not help him with the Tournament and "You know you will fail miserably and maybe even die if you don't have my help, so you must do as I ask…or else."

Well he wouldn't as he was innocent so there was nothing to apologize for. Then he had actually walked away from her saying, "I don't need this. I don't need any of this same old, same old so you and the rest can go to hell."

Then the real campaign of horrors started against Harry. He was made an outcast from his House, condemned by all. His trunk was rifled and many of his possessions were destroyed or went missing such as his broom, his Invisibility Cloak and his photo album. He was sanctioned, abused, humiliated and beaten by his own housemates. Then when he still "refused to confess his guilt" he was cast out of Gryffindor as being unworthy of calling himself a member of that noble house. It was unanimous – except for Neville Longbottom.

Thus both Harry and Neville were thrown out of Gryffindor and even had the House colors removed from their robes and ties and were forbidden to sit at the Gryffindor table. It was believed they took their meals in the kitchen or had Dobby the house elf fetch them food but where they spent the night no one knew or apparently cared – except Hermione but she was forbidden by McGonagall from interfering and it broke her heart.

The rest of the school was the same but it hurt more that Gryffindor House had turned on Harry and then the faithful and only other true honorable and noble Gryffindor Neville Longbottom. The rest of the school treated Neville as they always had, with disrespect and derision, but Harry…well his life was made a true hell.

Hermione thought ironically that Death Eaters weren't recruiting because if they were, Ronald Bilius Weasley would be their number one draft pick. The dreadful things he thought up to cause pain to "his best mate" and if he had spent as much time on his homework and studies as he did thinking up ways of humiliating and hurting Harry Potter, well then Ron would be "student of the year" and on the fast track for Head Boy.

It had been Ron's idea for those dreadful "Potter stinks" buttons and he had even talked Malfoy into putting up the money for the badges to be made and distributed to every student in the school. Even Snape had gleefully worn won as had teachers from Beauxbatons and Darmstadt. Wearing of the button was mandatory in Gryffindor House unless you also wanted to be censured and kicked out like the "Liar/Cheater and the Squib" as Ron gleefully said.

Hermione didn't want to wear one and had even asked McGonagall after being ordered by Ron if she had to. A very upset McGonagall had only replied that "Albus thinks it will build character in Harry Potter if he can survive the…treatment and censure from his school mates. Therefore, Ronald is correct and you…must wear one and wear it where it can be seen.

So wore it she had, but she spent so much time and energy in fighting back tears that she didn't score a 100 on a History of Magic test. The only thing that kept her going while wearing the badge was the fact that she knew that once Harry completed the first task (which naturally he would come in last) then, Gryffindor would be allowed to forgive him and she could go back to being friends with Harry and help him in the next two tasks.

She had been worried and had asked McGonagall "What if…what if Harry fails the first task and is maimed, permanently damaged or…dies."

"Albus has assured me that he will survive the first task. He will do very poorly on it, make a fool of himself and perhaps be burned or injured BUT HE WILL SURVIVE. We have Albus' total assurance so we must hope and pray that he is correct," the older witch stated in a weak voice. "But remember that Albus Dumbledore is always right," she said in a voice not exactly as confident as it should be.

She remembered just how wrong Dumbledore had been during the years and especially in placing Harry with his Muggle relatives and the condition he was in when he first came to Hogwarts. She had done a bit of snooping after his first semester and was informed by Arabella Figg that she had constantly told Dumbledore how the Dursleys treated Harry but he always assured Figg that she was making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Figg also warned McGonagall that if she intended to personally investigate the Dursleys she better do it with Amelia Bones, a troop of Aurors and several Unspeakables as witnesses because "Since you never answered any of the letters I sent you over the years, you either didn't receive them or 'forgot' about them. McGonagall had NEVER received any letters from Arabella Figg and that interesting bit of info spoke volumes.

Like the rest of the staff, McGonagall was under certain oaths to Dumbledore due to the employment contracts they all had to sign to work at Hogwarts. There had never been any such contracts in the history of Hogwarts until Dumbledore became Headmaster and he had added more and more updates over the years which even teachers who had been there as long as Flitwick (he had been teaching for two years when McGonagall was a first year) kept having to sign "new and improved" contracts.

There were many things they were forbidden to tell or do without losing not only their job but their magic as Albus was a sneaky, crafty %*#%&#^&^&. But they were all now firmly at his mercy so as usual, there was nothing to be done but "trust in Dumbledore" and his plans and blindly and silently follow his every order no matter how ridiculous or dangerous it was.

McGonagall was just as worried as Hermione but was not allowed to show it. She just told the girl to have faith in Dumbledore and continue with "the plan" and wait for the first task to be over. "Then you and Ronald will have your friend back and you can start helping Harry with the next two tasks."

"What makes you think that Harry will ever take us back as friends?" Hermione asked.

"Because you are the only friends he has Miss Granger," McGonagall added. "Besides I am sure Albus will 'convince' him" she said using air quotes for emphasis "of the wisdom of apologizing and/or doing anything he must to have his friends at his side to give him support and…love," she said shakily not believing one word of the garbage Albus would tell the boy as he cast various spells on him to force him to do yet again all that he wanted done. It was all part of the plan and it would be done and done gratefully and with dumb, hopeless acceptance.

But oh how wrong they would all be, as there was a new Harry unleashed who would never again bow down to anyone, especially Albus Dumbledore, ever again.

2 – The First Task

The week before the first task Harry had disappeared.

Naturally Dumbledore had known that Harry and Neville had taken refuge in an old classroom which the house elf Dobby had transformed into a replica of their Gryffindor dorm room minus the red and golden color scheme. Their bedding and carpets were in shades of brown with a dash of green to make it into an earthy decorative scheme as Neville did like his plants. They didn't want to use any color associated with any of the four houses so the green was drab and totally unlike any greens found in Slytherin House.

The room had a table and chairs for use in eating and doing homework assignments and there were two comfortable easy chairs and a coffee table for when they wanted to just sit around and talk. There were book shelves filled with books acquired from various places around the school and a private bathroom with two shower stalls and sinks completed the new home of the two outcasts.

As a champion Harry had the option of not attending any classes because he didn't have to take any exams. He had attended classes for the first two weeks after his name came out of the Goblet but the abuse and injuries had been too much so he had stopped. Neville still had to go to class but other than the usual abuse he had gotten since he started school, the only grief he suffered was from Gryffindors who hadn't forgiven him for "betraying them." At least all of his teachers, aside from Snape, did their best to protect him and since he didn't take his meals in the Great Hall and slept wherever it was he was living, he survived much better than Harry.

The press had been crucifying Harry, especially after Rita Skeeter's totally untrue – but deliciously juicy – articles were printed. She kept up the abuse by writing "exclusives" about the Boy-Who-Lied-and-Cheated. Many of Harry's year mates eagerly gave her interviews. Most used their names but there were some anonymous students who "didn't want to be retaliated against by a vicious and vengeful Potter" when he found out that they were revealing his most disgraceful and disgusting secrets.

The only reason Dumbledore noticed Harry was missing was because since he was constantly hiding, "he couldn't properly learn how to deal with adversity if he was would not face it" so Dobby was ordered to bring Harry out into the open. The elf, who had been employed at Hogwarts under the conditions that (1) he never bond with Harry Potter; (2) he reported everything that Harry Potter asked of him or did directly to Dumbledore so that Dumbledore could "help and continue monitoring the dear boy" and; (3) Dumbledore could have even more control over the boy. No. 3 was not told to the elf but then Dumbledore always kept his own council and secrets.

Dumbledore ordered Dobby to bring Harry Potter to his office for a chat. The elf then pulled on his ears, started saying how bad he was and the usual house elf pandering until Dumbledore demanded "just bring him to me – immediately." Dobby couldn't because apparently Harry Potter was not to be found – anywhere – at Hogwarts. Dobby had just found out this morning when he went to do Harry's laundry and there wasn't any to be done.

Neville was instead summoned and all he could say was that "A few days ago Harry said he was going out flying to calm his mind and he didn't come back."

"And you were not concerned," Dumbledore asked.

"Not really because he has been doing private studying and sometimes he doesn't want to bother me so goes someplace else. If the curtains to his bed are closed when I came back from classes, I just figure he was practicing all night and is sleeping so I don't bother him. If he's gone…well I haven't the slightest idea where he is" Neville finally said.

Dumbledore knew he was telling the truth because he had been legitimizing the boy's mind the entire time he was questioning him. The boy knew nothing and was dismissed with the order that he should look for Harry and inform him that he had to see the Headmaster immediately. Neville said he would and left.

Dumbledore had the entire school searched and even had Fawkes look for the boy. He hadn't left the school because all of the tracking monitors he had placed on the boy were working and there really wasn't any place the bastard could go where Dumbledore couldn't find him. The only place Fawkes couldn't go to in the school was the Chamber of Secrets. Fawkes had to be called or "needed" by Harry to enter the Chamber or at least that was what he had always told Dumbledore.

Dumbledore had personally placed confusion charms, notice-me-charms and repulsion charms and assorted other spells on the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets so that Harry would not want to enter the Chamber. As always, he had also had Weasley and Granger tell Harry that it was a very dark and evil place (just like speaking parsel tongue was the sign of a dark wizard so Harry better not do it ever again).

Dumbledore didn't want Harry going to the Chamber and "discovering anything" especially since it wouldn't be of benefit to Dumbledore. Apparently, the Chamber had been spelled by someone, whether it was Tom Riddle or Salazar Slytherin himself, preventing the greatest wizard since Merlin from entering the Chamber. Once he knew the location of the Chamber after Harry's second year, he had tried EVERYTHING he knew to enter it but could not.

Early in Harry's third year he had asked the boy to take him to the Chamber so he could protect the school from other dangers which no doubt contained in the Chamber. Harry dutifully opened the door and entered himself but DUMBLEDORE COULD NOT ENTER NO MATTER HOW HARD HE TRIED. He had angrily obliviated the boy of the memory and in spite cast spells preventing him from wanting to do any personal exploration.

Therefore the only possible place Harry could be hiding was in the Chamber. Dumbledore just hoped the stupid brat wouldn't lose track of time and remember to show up for the first task otherwise he would lose his magic and be of no use to him until it was time for him to die.

Seeing an opportunity to further hurt and slander "his best mate" Ron contacted Rita Skeeter and told her Harry was missing and it was his personal opinion, "That arrogant, lying, cheating, fame seeking, glory hog, worthless Half-blood bastard of a MUDBLOOD (yes he said the word and Rita printed it) whore realized he couldn't whine or lie his way out of participating and had fled in fear of his life. He would rather lose his magic than his worthless life so he ran away."

When Hermione, McGonagall and many others (in the know) read the article and the quote (which Ron had been bragging about) they at least realized that there was no way that Harry would or even could ever be Ron's friend again as the insult was just too…well it just couldn't be dismissed and even Dumbledore knew that no apology on Ron's part would be acceptable to Harry Potter. If Potter did accept an apology, well it would be evident that he had either been spelled into doing so or he was even dumber than Ron Weasley. Even Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape wouldn't believe Potter could be that dumb and loudly and publically said so.

Ron was the only person proud and confident. He had gotten to slander, abuse and INSULT Potter and his mother in the Daily Prophet and it would be picked up and printed in newspapers throughout the WORLD. Dumbledore would "fix things" if Potter survived the first task and was made to apologize to Ron. Ron could always say that he was "misquoted" and the %#*$^#^ stupid bastard would believe it and once again be the desperate-for-a-friend best mate of Ron Weasley.

Ron had had a very good month and in his opinion his status had risen. He considered himself the King of Gryffindor and once Potter came crawling back to him, he would continue to humiliate, insult and embarrass the git BECAUSE HE WAS RON WEASLEY AND HE COULD! He would also start doing what he had wanted to do for a very long time but had been forbidden to do, namely, hit Potter up for "presents" and "money" for Ron lowering himself to being Harry's friend.

Then there was the deal he had made with Rita Skeeter. He had promised to reveal "the truth" about everything which had happened since Harry's first year. At the moment they were in the negotiation stage and talking about the amount of money Ron would be getting paid for the exclusive articles she would be writing.

According to Rita, it was her editor who was causing the hold up. In reality, Rita was waiting to see if Potter survived the first task and to see if she could get a real interview from him instead of having to makeup things and rely on his enemies and other glory hounds living off of Potter's fame, like the vile slug named Ron Weasley. She knew that Potter had to have information which, if allowed or more likely, finally goaded into betraying Dumbledore…well let's just say that Rita might be able to destroy a few careers and reputations. But only if Potter survived and had not been pushed too far this time.

The day of the first task arrived. Dumbledore had Dobby, Fawkes and everybody out looking for Potter as the boy had to show up otherwise all of his current plans would be ruined. At 12 noon on the day, Potter had not yet been found and Dumbledore was actually starting to worry as the first task was about to begin and there was no sign of Potter.

Dumbledore knew that his old friend Moody was being impersonated by Barty Crouch, Jr. He had attacked him shortly after he arrived at Hogwarts and dosed him with Veritaserum and found out all of Voldemort's plans. He approved of them as they could benefit him much more than Voldemort.

Dumbledore had obliviated Barty and let things play out. He knew that Crouch would do everything in his power to make certain Potter survived the Tournament otherwise his life would be forfeited. Therefore, he could make Potter's illegal and surprise entry into the Tournament another "test" of the boy's meddle and to see just how much suffering and abuse he could endure.

The fact that Granger, McGonagall and even Snape highly disapproved of this scheme yet couldn't and didn't say anything against only proved how much they were under his complete control and knew that they could never, ever go against Dumbledore or would do anything to spare Harry Potter any pain. The boy would go more than willingly to his future martyrdom because his life was worthless and a daily reminder that he was nothing in the scheme of things. Worthless, a freak and unloved just as the Dursleys had always said.

The time had finally come. All the dignitaries were present, the stands were filled to capacity and the champions had walked into the tent for their briefing and the choosing of their dragon. Potter was not there and if he did show up, he would be facing the most dangerous of all of the beasts, but then that was his usual luck.

Dumbledore was presiding over the Tournament and acting the gracious host to all of the dignitaries and other visitors. He had already had several calming draughts but no one would know he had been indulging in his secret vice more than usual. He carried a supply of lemon drops in his pocket to use when the draughts wore off as he could not be seen as anything but calm and in control of the situation just like he always was.

Another wizard who was drinking calming draughts was Barty Crouch, Jr. who had no idea where Potter was and had been ordered by Voldemort "to find him and make certain he participates" but, like Dumbledore, he had had no success.

Amelia Bones had been alerted about Potter's disappearance by Moody (or rather Barty) and had been looking for the boy. She hadn't believed for one minute that Potter had entered his name and she had been infuriated to learn how badly he was being treated at the school and that not only was Dumbledore and the rest of the staff not doing anything to prevent the abuse and injuries directed at the boy.

Her niece Susan (who as a Hufflepuff was still angry for Potter stealing Cedric's glory), opined that it almost looked like Dumbledore was encouraging the abuse. However, Susan believed that Potter had lied and cheated his way into the Tournament if only because Dumbledore and the other teachers would have done something if he hadn't and his "best friends" said he did and had disowned him and cast him, and Neville Longbottom who was his only supporter, out of all of Gryffindor House.

From the trash the Prophet was spewing out, as well as from what her sources were telling her, Potter had been framed, it was probably a plot against his life and there was something disastrous in the making. Considering the Death Eater incident at the Quidditch Cup, it was more than likely that a Death Eater or two were using this Tournament to get revenge on Potter for destroying Voldemort. She didn't know what game Dumbledore was playing, but she didn't like it as a young boy's life was at risk.

Unfortunately she and her team hadn't been able to find him either and there was a good chance he was either already dead or would shortly be losing his magic and then be worse than dead.

Hermione Granger and the Creevey Brothers had been very upset all day especially when there was no sign of Harry. The brothers couldn't afford tickets but Hermione said she'd tell them all about it and hopefully would have good news. Ron was in his glee as one way or the other he'd be benefitting.

The Twins were worried since their entire lives hung in the balance of Harry participating in the first task and not dying. They were running their usual bookmaking scheme and due to Harry being made a pariah and all of the abuse allowed to happen to the now completely friendless boy (Neville didn't count) many people thought he would die and bet for that to happen. The Twins "knew he wouldn't die" and had given odds accordingly. If Harry didn't show up that would count as "dying" because in the wizard mind, if you lost your magic you might as well be dead.

Neville Longbottom was not in the stands as although he could have afforded to buy a ticket it would have been "confiscated" (or rather taken from him) and given to a more worthy person, because that was what he had been told by several of his former housemates who couldn't afford a ticket.

Instead, Neville was hanging out with his secret friend, Luna Lovegood, together with Ravenclaw Su Li (the official Ravenclaw outcast in Harry and Neville's year just like Luna was the outcast in her year) were currently making themselves comfortable and looking out of one of the windows on top of the tower facing the Tournament stands. They had a very good view or at least it was good enough to see the action. Dobby had provided them with very tall chairs to sit and look out the window as well as serving snacks and drinks for their refreshment. In reality they had the best seats of all and didn't have to worry about rain or queuing up to use the loo.

All of the Hogwarts teachers, minus McGonagall, were seated in their seats waiting for the Tournament to officially start. Even Snape would have to admit that he was worried. They all knew that Potter had not run away but Snape had been obliged to say for appearances sake, any more than he had put his name in the Goblet. Something had to have happened to the boy despite what Dumbledore was saying. Those who knew him the best, knew even he was worried.

The Slytherins were all eagerly awaiting to see if Potter would show up and/or die horribly if he did. That was basically the opinion of the other two Houses and the other two schools. It was very sad but then the life of Harry James Potter was really one of continual sadness and despair. Perhaps it would be better if it did end today.

Ludo Bagman was in a state of panic which he was desperately trying not to show. He had bet heavily on Potter with the Goblins and if Potter didn't show or was killed, he would have to flee for his life. Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge was in his usual form as the ultimate politician. He too was worried about Potter but only because it would be a blot on the Tournament which he had been convinced to bring back and he worried for his career.

McGonagall had been seen getting calming draughts from Pomfrey and it was rumored that they were mixing these potions with some of Minerva's "native medicine" or some single malt whiskey but that simply wasn't true. Minerva drank after the potions were administered to keep her spirits up. Minerva was "hanging out" in the medical tent not only to keep her friend company but to hope against hope that somehow at the last minute Potter would arrive and then she could…breath again. Then she would have to report to Albus but she didn't care as long as the boy would come back.

Finally, the start of the first task could be delayed no longer. The champions began their trials and all eyes were now focused on them. Cedric Diggory went first, retrieved his egg and survived. It was the same for Fleur Delacour.

However, just as Viktor Krum was walking to start his task a bright flash occurred. Fawkes the phoenix burst into view holding Harry Potter in his talons and the crowd went wild. Naturally Krum's task was put on hold temporarily for Potter to give his excuse as well as because Krum's dragon went a bit crazy and had to be calmed down by the dragon tamers before the task could begin.

Ludo Bagman ran over to Harry to ask where he had been and used his wand to cast the Sonorous spell on him so all could hear his excuse.

"I'm not sure what happened only that I was kidnapped and held in an enclosed room for how long I don't know. I was fed regularly but I am wearing the same clothes and lost all track of time until Fawkes flashed in and brought me here. So what did I miss?" he asked.

Ludo quickly gave him the barest of explanations noting that after Viktor Krum, it would be Harry's turn and he would have to face the Hungarian Horntail. There wasn't much that Harry could say to that except, "Ahh, would it be possible for me to borrow a wand as whoever got me still has mine?"

Naturally he was not given an answer as no one knew if a rule existed for such a situation. Finally Ludo told Harry to go to the hospital tent while the rule book was consulted and, "Mr. Krum has to complete his task before the dragon gets upset again." In other words, Harry was sent off and out of the way while a rule book was consulted.

He was just about to enter the tent when Rita Skeeter jumped in front of him while her photographer started snapping pictures all but blinding the boy. She immediately started to interview him but instead of even trying to attempt to say anything he did what so many others had wanted to do – he coldcocked her. POW! The fist of one tired, scared, confused, irritated and extremely angry 14 year old boy threw a punch at her over made up face and whacked her good knocking her to the ground.

Despite the life and death struggle which Viktor Krum was facing many people had been watching Harry trudge to the tent and upon seeing this action, immediately gave the boy a round of applause and some let out cheers of approval. The photographer took pictures of both Rita and Harry as he entered the tent. He would have followed him into the tent but for an angry witch named McGonagall stunning him silly (and subtly ruining his film).

Said witch then turned to the boy and shouted, "YOU CAN USE MY WAND HARRY, OR POPPY'S OR EVEN ONE OF THOSE (pointing to Cedric and Fleur)."

"He will certainly not use my wand," Fleur snapped out in a huff. She was about to spew out some abuse but Harry merely turned to her and shouted, "DON' . . . . . ."

Whether it was the tone of his voice or the livid look on his face or even perhaps McGonagall pointing her wand at the snooty girl, Fleur quickly shut her mouth.

Poppy Pomfrey had immediately started examining the boy while McGonagall fired off questions at him faster than Hermione Granger and like the girl she was not giving him time to answer any of them. At that moment he wondered if they were related in some way. When she had finished, all Harry said was what he told Bagman.

"He is showing signs of not having had much to eat in the past week or so and it is evident that he…hasn't had a bath or a shower recently," Poppy stated.

"That is sooo very true," Fleur said nastily, "even from over here it is quite evident that the leetle boy stinks as I can smell him and it is very offensive."

"Oh that's rich," Harry snapped back, "A Frenchie comparing personal hygiene with an Englishman, when the entire world knows that a Frenchie's idea of a bath is to heavily spray on perfume or get caught in a rain storm."

A very insulted Veela went for her wand but McG was faster and accioed it out of her hand. It wasn't going to stop Fleur as she started to head towards Harry to probably slap him or something and he egged her on before McG stunned the Veela.

Cedric had just been observing the entire interaction with smug amusement but then made the mistake of looking at the livid boy who would have given him a verbal set down had not the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.

"Looks like Krum finished his task," Cedric stated, "I wonder how well you will do without a wand?"

"Probably as well as a Hufflepuff who wet the bed several times during his first year at Hogwarts," came the reply.

It was evident by the expression on Cedric's face that it was true as he turned red and kept opening and closing his mouth like a flounder. He wondered how the hell Potter found out about that embarrassing problem. He wasn't going to ask.

Soon Viktor came in the tent followed by Bagman, who had come into fetch Harry.

"Now you probably aren't going to like this Harry," the man began, "but after checking the rules I have some good news and bad news. I'll do the bad news first."

Harry didn't like the sound of that.

"According to the rules, well…remember the wand weighing ceremony? That is done so make sure the contestant uses his own wand only. Apparently there were a few champions who snuck in an enchanted wand to cheat so now, we identify the wands and check them before each task to prevent cheating. Now since your official on the record wand is currently…missing…well you will have to get another wand, have that certified and made your official wand for use in the Tournament."

"You mean I have to get another wand from Ollivander before I can do the first task? Is he bringing his shop with him or do I have to go to the shop, get a new wand, and come back and do the task?"

"Not…exactly. You have to get a new official wand but only after…you do the first task."

"WHAT?" screamed Harry.

"Well the task has already started and can't be interrupted and if you don't participate you lose your magic. But the good news is, you can still participate in the first task and not lose your magic," Bagman said.

"Oh I won't lose my magic – just my life," came a reply.

"Now, now Harry, it isn't as bad as it sounds."

"Well it sounds pretty bad to me."

"Only because you won't let me finish telling you the good news."

"Well then please finish telling the good news."

"All you have to do is this. You go up to the starting line and face the dragon. You are then considered to begin participating in the first task. Then you just…oh say, run around for a while, dodging dragon fire and whatever else may come your way like…a tail. Just don't get too close to be hit. Then when you hear me blowing my whistle that will alert you that five minutes have passed and then you can flee the scene as you would have fulfilled the requirements of the Tournament. Granted you will probably be given a low score, such as ones, twos or probably a zero – but you will have fulfilled the requirements, kept your magic and be alive," he said smiling.

Harry just stared at the man as if he was crazy or thought that Harry was crazy to think this was the good news. In the background he heard Fleur and Cedric laughing themselves sick. Viktor Krum was silent while Poppy treated his injuries but he did cast an evil glare at Cedric and Fleur. McGonagall was too furious to say anything as she couldn't think up anything bad enough to say to Bagman and/or the Tournament judges.

However, before anything else could be said, the voice of Dumbledore was heard announcing to the crowd everything that Bagman had just told Harry. Gasps and then the sounds of laughter were heard as the still smiling Bagman led Harry over to the starting point.

He showed him his mark and explained the boundaries, wished him luck and then quickly made his escape leaving Harry to his fate.

Yep, just another day in the life of Harry James Potter – and maybe the last one.

Chapter 3 – Let the Real Games Begin

Harry Potter had survived. Not only did he survive, he received the highest score. How did he accomplish this without having the use of a wand? By using his talents not to mention the considerable amount of anger which was consuming him. Sometimes anger (and revenge) can help you perform miracles and what Harry did was considered a miracle – by some – but dark magic by others.

Harry had found out about the dragons and being the good sportsman that he was he had told Cedric Diggory what he knew. Krum and Delacour knew but Diggory hadn't a clue and didn't have the common courtesy to thank Harry for the warning so that the Hufflepuff "real champion" would have a fighting chance of surviving.

Harry had been doing lots of research since he became a pariah and was cast out. It had freed him from the prison called Gryffindor and the guards known as McGonagall, Weasleys and Granger and yes, the evil manipulative warden, Albus Dumbledore.

It had been his secret friend Luna Lovegood who told him the task was dragons as well as there was a theory that dragons could understand a parsel speaker and Harry should sneak out late one night and find out. She went with him for moral support and because she wanted to ask the dragons a few questions if the theory was true. Besides he needed her help in finding and putting sleeping charms on the dragon handlers guarding the dragons.

Mercifully, the theory was proven correct and deals were made with each dragon to help Harry in his task and Luna got her questions answered.

Therefore, despite not having a wand, Harry did a bit of a dodging dance – for appearances sake – and told Borbolya (which was the dragon's name) what was going on. She threw out a blast of fire near him (as was planned) but said in was in sympathy for the way he had been so rudely used and abused.

After a few minutes she stopped, they "seemed to come to an agreement" and she nudged the golden egg out of her nest and pushed it towards Harry. He took it, they bowed and he told her she would be receiving the three cows she wanted as soon as Harry's elf could buy them or before she left for Romania. Worst case scenario she would get them after she went home but she WOULD get them.

When the crowd realized what Harry had done, it exploded in applause. Even Slytherins were applauding as well as most of the students from the other schools. Harry didn't care he just went back towards the tent like he was supposed to do but stopped about 20 feet in front of it. He looked at the fickle crowd of…%#*%#^&^&#^ and then called out loud and strong "FAWKES" and the great bird appeared and flashed him away.

Dumbledore was delighted as he thought his familiar had taken Harry directly to his office and would keep him there until Dumbledore could deal with the boy. He was delayed because the scores had to be announced, he had to finish playing the host, do a few odds and ends such as giving the news media a statement and then he calmly made his way back to his office to find it empty of both boy and bird. He called out for Fawkes but the bird didn't answer his call. He then tried again and again until finally after 15 minutes it was evident that Fawkes was not rushing back to heed his call.

That should have been the first clue that things were about to change but Dumbledore was too proud, too arrogant to think that Fawkes would not soon be back and bringing Potter with him. However, after two days had passed with no sign of Fawkes or Harry Potter, it had finally sunk in that something was wrong. But what?

The news media was going insane as was Fudge. People were demanding to see Potter, to interview him, to ask him how he had accomplished his task without the use of a wand. Ron Weasley had told Rita Skeeter (in the first of his exclusive interviews) that Potter was a known parselmouth and despite even Dumbledore telling him to stop it as it was a dark, evil practice and the sure sign of a dark wizard, Potter went around the school hissing in the wicked excuse for a language "And I wouldn't be surprised if he was casting curses when he was hissing and not being caught while others, like my brothers, were blamed for his pranks."

Ron had been happy with his article as well as the G200 he had received for it. Everybody else had been furious, most especially Dumbledore as "we need Potter to return you fool and he just might not."

"Well then he loses his magic and dies," Ron said nonchalantly, which only served to infuriate Dumbledore, McGonagall and others even more. Ron was ordered not to give any more interviews even anonymously or else…well he really wouldn't want to find out what "or else" would mean.

Neville was dragged to Dumbledore's office and this time dosed with Veritaserum and asked if he had heard from Harry or knew where he was. He truthfully answered he did not know where Harry was and why didn't Dumbledore ask Ron or Hermione since they were supposed to be his friends. Dumbledore did not appreciate the boy's chastisement so he decided to punish him.

The punishment was to lift the decree of expulsion which his housemates had placed on him in the guise of wanting to reconcile both he and Harry with their Housemates. Neville politely declined the "honor" saying he liked not being a Gryffindor because they were nothing but a bunch of bullies, he couldn't concentrate on his studies, people were always "borrowing without asking" his personal things like parchment, ink, quills, sweets and even his underwear and everybody made fun of him.

"Since I was cast out of Gryffindor, my marks have improved because I can actually study and get things done, I sleep better because I don't have to fear the so-called pranks being played on me and I don't have to put up with Ron."

Neville revealed that Ron snored like a banshee, continually belched and farted all of the time and laughed every time he did it because he knew it annoyed his dorm mates. His lack of table manners was well-known and Ron lied and talked behind the backs of Harry and Hermione mostly, many others usually and made rude and obnoxious comments to the girls and insulted every single person in Gryffindor except his brothers and sister.

Naturally Dumbledore told Neville he was exaggerating and mistaken and that Ron Weasley was a fine fellow who Neville was probably jealous of. Neville said it was Dumbledore who was "mistaken" and he would swear on his life and magic that what he said was all true. A verbal fight was started between the old wizard and the young one which Neville had no chance of winning even though everything was true.

It ended with Neville being forced to return to Gryffindor because it was against Hogwarts rules for one student to have a room of their own. Actually it wasn't as Neville knew that certain students were allowed to have a private room for various reasons but Dumbledore just wouldn't allow it. The rules were never changed just "adjusted" to suit Dumbledore's whims.

He did offer Neville the chance to keep his room. All he had to do is tell him where Harry Potter was and then both boys could keep their room – after Harry returned to Hogwarts.

"You know perfectly well that I don't know where he is – you just dosed me with Veritaserum," Neville snapped at the old wizard.

"Ah, but sometimes you can know something but not really know, if you see what I mean? I think that you know something but not enough to be caught in the web of Veritaserum," Dumbledore told the boy his blue eyes twinkling merrily. "Therefore, it would behoove you to…oh say remember something which could lead me to find Harry. Until then…well, enjoy the entertainment and comradery of your housemates – especially Mr. Ronald Weasley."

As Neville was dismissed from the office and told to return to Gryffindor Tower, he wondered if he could hire a hit wizard to assassinate Dumbledore. He disregarded it because even if he found one, Dumbledore was too crafty and too careful to get into such a situation. He knew he couldn't go back to the Tower despite the command because (1) he didn't know the password; (2) his robes were still plain black so he had not officially been reinstated; and (3) unless an official announcement was made publically he was determined not to set foot in the Tower as he would be given the beating he had been promised when he was being kicked out should he ever be found near the Tower let alone tried to gain entry.

He went back to his room but found it warded shut against him. Dumbledore wanted him to go back to the Tower and get beaten. That wouldn't prove anything other than Dumbledore was just abusing his power as usual. It also meant that he had probably placed tracking charms on Neville hoping that he would lead him to the place where Harry was hiding or some other secret place or reveal the means of communication the boys shared.

Well Dumbledore would be disappointed because Neville didn't know where Harry was, they had not been in communication mostly to protect to Neville and despite what was going to be his fate, Neville would not risk jeopardizing Harry's safety or reveal his plans as too much depended on Harry having the freedom necessary to do whatever it was he was doing.

So Neville did the only thing he could do – he went to McGonagall for help. As he had expected, despite informing her about not having his colors, there being no official announcement concerning his reinstatement, etc., she told him there was nothing she could do. He asked her why. She replied again because there wasn't anything she could do.

"You know he is doing this purposely and knows that I will be beaten and abused and have no place to sleep, access to a change of clothes and probably be barred from having a meal," he told her.

At least she had the decency to sigh heavily, meaning she knew it was true, before she said wearily, "Then you must give Dumbledore what he wants."

"BUT. ' . . . . .HIM."

"Of course you don't."

"Then why is Dumbledore doing this to me?"

"Because he hopes that Harry will hear about the abuse and true Gryffindor that he really is, he will return if only to rescue you."

"And if he doesn't?"

"He is Harry Potter so he will…eventually," she told him.

"I could be dead by then. Don't you or anybody else care?"

"Of course I care Mr. Longbottom," came the reply, "But there is nothing I can do as EVERYBODY KNOWS that Dumbledore will be obeyed and he will get his way eventually so the sooner…."

"Because it is for the 'mysterious' Greater Good?" asked the boy.

"Yes. Now be a good Gryffindor and do your duty," she snapped out before showing the boy roughly to the door and slamming it shut behind him. She was very close to breaking this time. THERE WAS NOTHING SHE COULD DO ABOUT IT, but that didn't mean she didn't care. Albus was getting worse and he did what he did for reasons unknown.

Pomona Sprout said he did some of the things he did because he was a sadist, pure and simple. Poppy had agreed with her and for the umpteenth time wished she hadn't been spelled to make those oaths to Dumbledore.

"He is the true dark wizard, not Tom Riddle," the medi-witch had once said when they all had had too much "medicine" but fortunately they were out drinking on the grounds near the lake so there were no portraits, ghosts, suits of armor, house elves or any of the other things which Dumbledore used to report back to him due to being Headmaster of Hogwarts. They had also taken the precaution of checking for disillusioned elves, secret wards and runes and anything else they could think of before setting down to have a nip one autumn night long ago.

They had just wanted to escape for a while and enjoy being three friends not being spied on or used by the self-proclaimed Leader of the Light. This had been one of the rare times before Albus had noticed the meeting place and had set spy runes into the ground bound by his formidable magic. Fortunately they had discovered it, alerted each other with their eyes and just had a nice, lovely little chat and some drinks instead of being able to blow off steam. They never returned since and any time they had found a hidden niche the same thing eventually happened.

While McG wept for Neville, the boy had basically accepted his fate. However, despite what you would hear and no doubt believe, Neville Longbottom was a very intelligent boy and his memory lapses were due to being spelled by "an anonymous source" but he could still think and reason.

Therefore, before he went to Gryffindor Tower, he went to the Infirmary to alert Madam Pomfrey as to what would be happening. The medi-witch sighed and asked if he thought he would be able to get out of the Tower after his welcome back beating. He replied that since he didn't know the password he would probably be beaten out in the hall.

"Oh good, then once they leave you alone just call out for my elf Tarry and she'll bring you to the Infirmary where you can spend the night here. Miss Lovegood should be arriving some time tonight because rumor has it that Cho Chang is frustrated that Potter isn't back yet and is still in hiding and feels bad for her boyfriend, Mr. Diggory. She needs to hurt 'something' so Luna knows she will be hunted and hurt. Perhaps you will both be here to share dinner."

Now anyone listening in on such a conversation would be horrified to hear a medi-witch talk in such a way. However, Neville and Luna both knew that it was the witch's way of coping because she had to treat and heal children who were horribly bullied and there was nothing that the medi-witch could do about it as Dumbledore "took care of things" which only meant, the outcasts provided amusement for those he considered of use or potential use and/or had parents he was trying to seduce to his side.

The medi-witch's heart was constantly breaking even more than McG's and she knew it would only be a matter of time before she saw one injury too many, one more life ruined if only by fear or one more death that would be covered up by Dumbledore until Poppy Pomfrey "lost it" and did something drastic. She only hoped she could take out one of the bastards (if not the chief one) responsible for it.

So Neville bravely went to his fate while Pomfrey alerted her elf and prepared his bed. Within 20 minutes Tarry brought Neville to the Infirmary and the injuries he had received were bad enough to get him at least two maybe three days in the Infirmary. It was horrible to think that this was a stroke of good luck for the boy but all things considered, it was. Poppy only hoped that Harry Potter would come back sooner rather than later.

The next day Hermione Granger paid a visit to Neville. She was there to bring him the "good news" that Dumbledore had announced in the Great Hall at the dinner meal that Neville Longbottom had been forgiven by Gryffindor House and would soon be allowed to return to the loving bosom of his friends. She left out the fact that the announcement was greeted with laughter from Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.

Neville was not impressed and the usual perfect example of gentlemanly behavior actually told her what she could do with her "good news" and he hoped she would do it soon. Naturally she was greatly insulted and began her rant only to be thrown out by Madam Pomfrey.

The next day Neville was still in the Infirmary so he missed the "fun" but Pomfrey came back and happily told him all about it.

It seemed that Harry Potter had returned to Hogwarts, but he had brought with him several "vicious lawyers," a few Goblins (who were naturally vicious), two Unspeakables, Amelia Bones along with six Aurors, several members of what he called "the legitimate news media" as well as a very nervous Cornelius Fudge, Narcissa Malfoy (but not Lucius) and a very, very large, dangerous looking snake who was introduced as Maisie his new, legally certified familiar who he was allowed to have due to taking up his Lordships.

"His Lordship?" Neville had asked innocently.

"Yes his LORDSHIPS – as in plural," Poppy told him happily. "It seems that somehow Harry found out that to be allowed to participate in the Tournament he had to be of age. Once he was declared of age, he could claim the Potter Lordship – you know the one no one had told him about."

"Ah yes that Lordship," replied Neville. Pomfrey knew that all Gryffindors had been spelled and forced to give oaths that they would not reveal certain things to Harry Potter. This had happened last year but unknown to most Neville had already told Harry in his first year during one of their secret meetings in the bathroom after Harry had spelled Ron, Dean and Seamus asleep.

Harry and Neville had been secret friends since first year despite all of Ron, the Twins and Hermione's hard work to keep him isolated even in his own House. Actually there were a lot of things even Dumbledore didn't know about Harry Potter or certain things that were going on in the school right under his own "all-knowing and all-controlling big nose" as Harry liked to say. But that is another story.

Neville could truthfully say he didn't know where Harry was because Harry could be anywhere, like at Gringotts, in the offices of his family solicitors (the ones Dumbledore had fired when he took control of Harry's life), visiting with the relatives he had only recently found out that he had and…well anywhere. Harry had been very busy in the past few weeks and it exhausted Neville whenever he thought about it.

Harry had really been "kidnapped" the week before the first task as that was the only way that his entourage could rescue him. He did wake up to find himself in a room not knowing where he was or how he got there. He had also been fed but not well as he had been unconscious most of the time due to having some blocks, spells, charms, curses, glamours, etc., removed from him so he had to have nourishment spelled directly into his stomach which explained why Poppy's exam showed he hadn't been eating much. Since he knew he would be getting an exam once he returned to do the first task, a spell had been cast limiting what results Pomfrey's exam would show.

This past week had been spent finishing up some…healing…and in meetings with his solicitors, the Goblins and others as well as taking and passing the Lordship tests for the SEVERAL LORDSHIPS he was heir to.

That got everyone's attention. The next thing that got everyone's attention was the announcement by Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic himself, that LORD SEVEN – as to "simplify matters" Harry Potter would now be known as Harry didn't like hyphenating names to begin with let alone the using all of the ones for each Lordship. "So just call me Lord Seven" he had merrily told everyone.

"Naturally Albus wanted everyone to immediately go to his office – or at least just Harry and Fudge – but he was refused. It shocked the hell out of him that he wasn't going to be obeyed or even listened to but Fudge was actually firm. Beside Fudge said this was a public announcement and 'Lord Seven wants everybody in Hogwarts to know so that no one does anything stupid in regard to their treatment of him and certain others."

"Dumbles was fighting it tooth and nail but Amelia and all six Aurors stepped up to the Head Table and threatened him with arrest. That got things going. Then the old bastard tried to talk them into to retiring to a side room but was asked by our new Lord Seven if he was going deaf, senile or just wasn't listening when Minister Fudge said they were staying here and it was a public announcement. That got Snapie's dander up and he started giving his unsolicited opinion until an Auror stunned him stiff and he fell down on the floor with a great thud. Probably got a nasty bruise."

"I'll skip a few things because they will be printed up all nice as you please in all of the papers no later than tomorrow – including the international papers. Well actually I'm wrong as the Daily Prophet wasn't considered a reliable news source so the British version will be printed exclusively by Xeno Lovegood who will be issuing a special run of The Quibbler to report this historic information."

"Now of interest to you will be that your absence was noticed and when asked why you were not in the Great Hall I hopped up and mentioned that you were in the Infirmary and had been for two days because a group of Gryffindors had beaten you up for no reason other than because they could and knew they would get away with it. You could have heard a pin drop after I said that."

"Dumbles tried to explain but Lord Seven wouldn't let him and asked me what happened. I finally got the opportunity to say in public that I am not allowed to report about the type of injuries suffered by any student unless I have the permission of Albus Dumbledore who usually tells those he considers should know. I can't even send in a report to St. Mungo's unless it is first shown to and approved by Dumbledore."

"Let me tell you Neville, if looks could kill, I would be dead, buried, resurrected, killed again and reburied" the medi-witch happily told the boy. Just so you know, a representative from St. Mungo's will be arriving shortly at the command of Fudge as well as one of Lord Seven's solicitors to take your statement. And, to make a dream come true, they get to review my files – even the hidden ones which just might be lying around in full view when they arrive."

Poppy couldn't tell him everything but as she had predicted he could and did read about it the next day in The Quibbler. It was even better than he had hoped.

Ron, Seamus, Dean and the three other Gryffs who had beaten Neville bloody were given a month's detention with Filch. Also 600 points had been deducted from Gryffindor and then somehow somebody let it "accidentally slip" that Ron Weasley had been responsible for stirring up Gryffindor House and convincing them to cast out Potter and then Neville whose only crime was refusing to condemn his friend. Ron got out of serving the detentions because he was suspended until he could be questioned under Veritaserum about this as well as some other things which had been brought to the Ministry's attention. He was whisked away before Dumbledore knew about it and could obliviate him.

Neville didn't have to return to Gryffindor Tower as both he and Harry got to have their own room. It was one of those rooms which hadn't been used in fifty years due to Dumbledore's whim. It was a suite reserved for a sitting Lord of an Ancient and Noble House and/or an heir of an Ancient and Noble House, one who was in danger and/or in fear for his life.

Harry was a Lord of Seven Houses and Neville was an heir of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom and his life was considered sufficiently endangered. They each had their own bedroom and bath and shared a living area. It was similar to the room Dobby had made for them but much larger, more richly furnished and had many other perks such as a private kitchen and pantry and two extra bedrooms and baths.

The room had several bookcases containing all seven years of books in the Hogwarts curriculum, including the ones neither boy was taking and many reference books. If they so choose (and they did) they could have a private tutor who would teach them all subjects so that they wouldn't have to leave the rooms if they didn't want to. Technically they would still be considered Hogwarts students since they were in Hogwarts and were students. However, now they would be receiving a much better education and would actually be taught potions the way they should have been taught.

As expected Dumbledore had fought tooth and nail but had been totally defeated because he was under investigation concerning many irregularities. A restraining order had been issued against him. He could not contact let alone talk to either Harry or Neville. He was also temporarily deprived of using some of the powers and perks that came with being Headmaster. McGonagall would act as liaison but had to talk with Harry's solicitors first before being able to talk to either boy.

Also, NO ONE would have the password to the Lordship suite except for Harry, Neville, any tutor they might procure, Ragnok the Head of Gringotts Britain and one unnamed solicitor. The password was set up by an Unspeakable as were the wards. Everything was arranged so that it was Dumbledore-proof. As Fudge told Dumbledore, "It is so very well warded that a god – one of the real ones and not you Albus – couldn't get in."

Dumbledore wasn't down yet because he still had control over the Hogwarts wards since he was the lawful and acknowledged Headmaster. Even the hearings he would be forced to attend (which he knew he would weasel his way out of because he had everything totally under control) would not depress him because since he controlled the wards, he would find a way around the safeguards and once he had been vindicated and had the leisure, he would break down Potter's refuge and begin to get the boy under his control once more. After all the boy still had to compete in the Tournament so he would have to come out some time for interviews, ceremonies, the Yule Ball, etc.

Yes Dumbledore was confident and smug – until the wards came crashing down and he couldn't gain entrance to restore them.

He'd find out later that apparently there were still heirs of the Founders alive, well and capable of bringing down and changing the wards. He knew that Tom Riddle had been one and so was Harry Potter but the boy didn't know this fact, or at least he hadn't until he took that heritage test. Then somehow "his people" had found and contacted the other heirs and convinced them to "rescue Hogwarts" from the tyranny of Albus Dumbledore. And they had.

Unfortunately who the other heirs were was unknown to anybody especially Dumbledore. Potter had bragged to The Quibbler that "The other heirs were contacted but were masked when they helped me change the wards." They had been masked but Harry still knew who they really were but was wise enough not to mention it to anybody.

Now Dumbledore was furious and vowed revenge. At the very least he would find out who the other heirs were, capture them and compel them to re-establish him as ward controller. He WOULD get Potter under his control and make the boy face his destiny. And damn it, he would find out the other Houses he was the Lord of because the damn %*#%^&^^ refused to name them all. Dumbledore couldn't change things until he knew who he could bribe or threaten to help him control Potter unless he had a Lordship or two to dangle before them.

Life had become so difficult that even lemon drops weren't helping anymore!

However, Dumbledore still had one more ace in the hole as it were. Harry Potter would now need a tutor and who else could fill that position but Remus Lupin. Why Dumbledore would even allow Lupin to bring his "dog" with him. He knew that Harry would jump at the chance to be reunited with Lupin (his "Uncle Mooney") and his beloved Godfather, Sirius Black.

Both wizards were members of the Order of the Phoenix which was completely under Dumbledore's power. Harry didn't know that such an organization even existed let alone that once you swore the Oath of Order, you became a vassal of Albus Dumbledore. They would soon have the boy eating out of their hands and, due to the advice Sirius would give him, Harry would be firing his solicitors, changing account managers at Gringotts and putting his vast fortunes in the hands of those older and wiser than he, namely Albus Dumbledore!

However, his hope turned to ashes after McGonagall informed him that Harry was adamant that not only would he even consider hiring Remus Lupin but he wanted no contact with him or his "dog" and that was final. In fact, a restraining order would be taken out against Lupin if only because he was a werewolf.

To add insult to injury, McGonagall mentioned that Harry had been told about the Order of the Phoenix, although he wouldn't tell her how he found out, and was intending to have restraining orders taken out against all known members.

"He knows that Severus and I are members and that Poppy while not a member is duty bound to act as the official healer. He doesn't blame Poppy for anything of the 'misdiagnoses' due to the investigations of the St. Mungo's healers. However, he refuses to be taught by me and now Filius will act as liaison."

Poor Minerva was clearly distressed that Harry would have nothing to do with her. Also because she was a certified member of the Order, it was going to be just one more thing she would be investigated for. No matter, now that he had been tipped off, Dumbledore would just obliviate her memories of certain incriminating actions he had forced her to do until she added just one more bit of information."

"Oh I almost forgot," she said coyly indicating she hadn't forgotten but was saving this news for last. "A scan was done on my mind and I was obliged to give certain pensive memories. Did you know that an Unspeakable can tell when a certain spell was cast and who did it? For example, where I to be…oh I don't know, say obliviated right now, it would show up on any scan which would be done to me at any of the hearings I will be attending."

"Then they will be compared to the ones I had done this morning and eight years ago. I had a bad fall while visiting my brother and had to go to St. Mungo's as he wouldn't let me go to Hogwarts like 'I'm obliged to as per my contract' but since I was very hurt and unconscious my brother overrode your orders. They will then compare it with the one I had done in 1960 after…I had that medical problem."

She said nothing else and just smiled sweetly as she exited the room. Damn! This was totally unexpected but at least she tipped him off. He would have to call in every favor he was owed and "acquire" those scans, memories and then obliviate the hell out of several other people.

He didn't need lemon drops, he needed fire whiskey and a lot of luck.

Chapter 4 – Life at Hogwarts

Things did settle down for most people at Hogwarts but not all. The Goblins had found out about the illegal marriage contract Dumbledore had arranged with Molly Weasley. He had no legal right to make such a contract especially when he was only the self-appointed magical guardian of Harry Potter. A copy of the Potters' Will (the one which Dumbledore sealed after he had read it) was found in a vault and publically read.

Harry Potter would have no marriage contract with anyone as per the laws and rules established by House Potter in 1852. He publically announced that when or if he ever married it would be someone of his choosing. Of interest, since he was a Lord of Seven Houses, he could, should he so desire it, have more than one wife or at least a concubine or two to provide the heirs necessary for so many Houses. He would consider this if he found no one he could love enough to marry.

One thing which was publically announced in the news media and made an official record of in Gringotts and the Ministry of Magic was that Ginerva Molly Weasley WOULD NEVER, EVER BE ANYTHING TO HARRY POTTER whether it be a wife, concubine, a casual date, a quick meaningless shag (which would definitely never happen), considered a friend, acquaintance, team mate and definitely not a date to the Yule Ball which Harry was informed he had to attend.

Fudge had pleaded with Harry to "Please attend the Yule Ball because it is an international event and…well think of the scandal. The other schools will be insulted if you refuse to attend."

"So it was all right for them to insult, harass and abuse me after my name came out of the Goblet as well as still continuing to do so, but I have to attend a silly dance because their feelings might be hurt?" he had asked Fudge.

"Exactly my boy," Fudge said before realizing that he had committed TWO MAJOR SINS. First he had said it was all right for Harry to be insulted and then he had called Harry "my boy" just like Dumbledore did.

Harry looked Fudge in the eye and their noses were even touching when Harry asked coldly "What did you just say?" Fudge got out of the sticky situation by fainting. After he recovered he had begged Narcissa Malfoy to talk with Harry and convince him it was the duty of a Lord to attend such things.

Why did Fudge think that Narcissa Malfoy be able to convince Harry Potter of anything you may ask? Because apparently Narcissa was related to Harry Potter by blood. His paternal grandmother was Narcissa's great aunt or something like that and the Goblins had requested that she tutor Harry in some of the things he should have been taught from birth, such as etiquette and deportment, but hadn't because Dumbledore…well Dumbledore hadn't given a proper explanation yet but Fudge didn't care.

Harry had "interviewed Narcissa Malfoy" much to Fudge's shock and awe. It was also rumored (and one which Fudge was not allowed to repeat even to his devoted Undersecretary) that one of Potter's Lordships outranked Narcissa's Black heritage so it must be a foreign one of great power and renown that Fudge wasn't allowed to ask about.

Narcissa had not been pleased when she had been contacted by the Goblins and found out that Harry Potter of all people was one of her overlords. She knew what Lucius had been doing or tried to do to the orphan and the fury when everything he tried failed. Then her precious child Draco had told his parents in great detail just what a disgrace to wizards and magic Potter was. His parents knew he exaggerated but the tales he told them only showed what a wonderful imagination their boy had.

However, once she actually met Potter and got to know the boy, her point of view changed. He was a sweet and noble child forced into an impossible situation and used, abused and controlled by the most powerful and unscrupulous of wizards (Lucius included) and treated badly by the press and fickle public. He had been raised by Muggles, who hated magic and treated him worse than a house elf and he didn't know he was a wizard until Hagrid "rescued him," took him shopping and dumped him back at his relatives. Then Dumbledore made certain that only the despicable Weasleys had contact with him. That he had turned out as well as he did was a miracle.

He also held her and Draco's future in his hands and could destroy them both on a whim if he so chose. Since it was for her own benefit she did her best to teach Potter what he should have known but was denied. Perhaps if Draco behaved himself he might benefit from his Mother's friendship with Potter.

Harry did not want to go to the Yule Ball because he would need a date.

"But Harry, you will have your pick of girls – maybe even the Veela Fleur. You are a Lord of Seven Houses, and probably the richest wizard in Britain and most of Europe so every girl will be after you."

"No they won't," he snapped back. "They will be after Lord Seven, not me, not Harry. That is bad enough but after the way the GIRLS IN THIS SCHOOL TREATED ME after my name came out of the Goblet…well can you blame me?"

She could not as every letter Draco had sent home gleefully told of Harry's treatment especially the betrayal of his own House. He emphasized the fact that even all of the "fan girls" who had been drooling over the Freak for the past four years were treating him abominably especially the Hufflepuff girls. "Girls hate him so much that he couldn't even get a date with Millie Bulstrode" Draco said.

However that was before he performed so well during the first task – without a wand no less. Then there had been the official Ministry announcement certifying that Harry Potter had not entered the Tournament and it was just an attempt to cause him harm or kill him and that not only did Dumbledore and the other Heads and teachers know about the boy's innocence they had actually "encouraged the abuse" because Dumbledore thought it would be a good way to flush out the real culprit(s) and for the boy to "build character through adversity" or some such nonsense.

They had been able to find out the truth because Madam Maxime and Igor Karkaroff had been brought in for questioning and since they were under no oaths to Dumbledore and had been dosed with Veritaserum they sang like a phoenix.

"Everybody is so upset and ashamed of the way they treated you," Narcissa told Harry, "and now that you are vindicated and you did so well in the first task…"

"They have decided to 'forgive me' and welcome me back and the fact that no one would ever consider giving me an apology or…."

"I am quite certain that if you let them, everyone in the entire school will offer you a heartfelt apology."

"Even Draco," Harry said raising an eyebrow knowingly at Narcissa. He sighed heavily before adding, "How many of the 'heartfelt apologies' would be real? A little thing like me being proved innocent has never brought an apology from anyone and you know perfectly well the only things that would bring on the rush of apologies would be due mainly to my assuming seven Lordships and all of that lovely, lovely money and power."

She knew he was correct and he knew she knew he was so that gave little to work with to convince him to attend the Yule Ball. So she decided to try another way by giving him a lesson.

"Harry, I know you hate the idea that people view you as the Boy-Who-Lived, the Heir of Slytherin or whatever is the trend of the year, and that you wish they would just accept you as you, 'just Harry' but…the chances of that are very slim. You are a unique individual with a position of authority and power."

He wasn't getting it so she tried another way. "Think about the position of the British Royal Family. The Princes will always be able to 'make friends' and date probably any girl they fancy BUT how many of those 'friends' or girls will see them as just William and Harry and not a future king or a prince of the realm? Now they probably will have some real friends in their lives and marry a girl that they love and who will love them in return or at least that is the hope they have. Do you see what I mean?"

He said nothing.

"Even Draco has a similar problem. Crabbe and Goyle are indeed his 'bodyguards' and not his friends because their fathers are vassals of Lucius. He doesn't particularly like them and I am sure the feeling is mutual but they are doing their duty, playing their parts in the scheme of things just as Draco accepts them as his 'bodyguards' and associates with them because this is how things are not only in the Magical World, but in the Muggle World as well. Such things have been going on since…well since the cavemen."

"Are you trying to say that although I don't like it, the Yule Ball is just a social occasion that I am obliged to attend because it is part of the duty of someone of my station?"

"Yes. You will be obliged to do many things, whether it is attending a ball or a boring party because it is your duty. It is the same for Muggles and Magicals as we all have duties and obligations we must do whether we like it or not."

"For example, didn't your Uncle and Aunt have to do things they didn't want to for his job or their social standing? Your Uncle was a salesperson was he not? No doubt he had to chat up persons he didn't like and handle irritating clients so that he could sell his wares and make a living. He had a supervisor or 'boss' I believe is the word. He probably had to watch his behavior and do certain things to keep his position and get promotions or raises didn't he?"

"But if I am so powerful and influential and so far above people, why do I have bother with them at all especially when I know they are just trying to use me or even talk civilly to me because of my wealth and power?" he asked.

"I can see attending a charity event to raise money or the dreaded day when I have to serve on the Wizengamot but…go to a stupid Yule Ball where all of the people were slandering and emotionally and PHYSICALLY hurting me a few weeks ago? No. I won't go. I don't have a date and there isn't ANY GIRL at Hogwarts who I want to spend the evening with. I am still too angry to look at these people let alone have a conversation with any of them."

"And because you can't dance?" Narcissa asked.

"Well that too – and I know I can learn because you will offer to teach me and Neville but that is beside the point. I see no reason to attend this ridiculous dance and waste a few hours of my life being civil to the lowlifes I go to school with. The only person who will benefit from it is Fudge – because he is worried about his precious career and I'm still pissed at him."

She spent an hour trying to convince him but without success. Well maybe a little bit because she coaxed Neville into learning to dance so Harry was dragged into it because Narcissa told him he would have to learn eventually anyway. Perhaps if she could convince Neville to attend the ball, Harry would also come.

Fudge was not going to give up and neither were others. Certain people sent letters to Harry apologizing for their actions and promising to do anything to "make it up to him" but he would have none of it.

The Unspeakables had removed the mail redirect which Dumbledore had placed on Harry's mail and now the Goblins were first sent Harry's mail so they could check them for any and all magics before they sent Harry his correspondence via Dobby who picked it up every day and brought it to Harry where both he and his tutor, Roddy Robertson, checked it again for any unauthorized magic as not all Goblins could be trusted.

Three days before the Yule Ball, Narcissa arrived to give Harry his daily lessons only to quickly lose the smile on her face when she beheld Harry.

She had learned that blocks, charms, spells and curses had to be removed from the boy as well as the glamour which had been placed on him since birth to give him the messy hair and dreadful vision of James Potter. Despite the glamour the only real resemblance Harry had to James Potter was the messy hair and wearing the same ugly round black glasses which James had favored. Since the glamour and other illegals had been removed and the healing spells and potions had started being given to the boy, his appearance and demeanor had changed dramatically.

James had been said to have black hair but he really had that very dark brown shade that looks black until you compare it with someone, like Severus Snape, who actually has ebony hair. James had had a stocky build and a ruddy complexion and had he lived, would have probably turned to fat before middle age like his father Charlus did. James had full lips and a square jaw.

Harry always had had true ebony hair as well as being of slight build and pale of complexion. This could have been due to the malnutrition he had suffered as a boy but even now since his healing had started and things were starting to be corrected, the healers opined that he would still have a slight to medium build and a naturally pale complexion. Besides having his mother's eyes, he also had her slightly wide mouth and thin lips and her oval shaped jaw.

The young wizard who stood before her now showed his true facial and bodily structure and his hair was straight and had been given a stylist cut. He no longer wore glasses because although the malnutrition had damaged his eyes, he was wearing corrective contact lenses and between those and the potions it was estimated that within a year or so his vision would be 20-20. He had even managed to grow 2ʺ in height in the past few weeks and with her help his posture had straighten and before long he would have the same elegant carriage as her Draco.

However as satisfying as it was to view his improvements now his face bore a resemblance to another face she knew of and it frightened her. He was struggling to control his anger before he spoke to her.

"Narcissa I have received several days' worth of mail from Gringotts as well as just having had a chat with Filius who showed me this." He then snapped open a copy of the Daily Prophet. On the front page was an article informing the public that Lord Seven was definitely attending the Yule Ball but the name of the lucky young witch he was escorting was still a mystery, but the Prophet was listing the most likely ladies he might choose.

"Would you please explain to me why the Prophet is printing lies about me – again – when it has been publically announced several times in the approved and reputable newspapers as well as announced on the Wizarding Wireless that the Prophet is prohibited from printing anything about me due to the slander and upcoming lawsuits."

Narcissa had seen the morning edition, been shocked to see what they had printed and hoped that no one would show Harry a copy. She replied that she had no idea why that article had been printed but was confident that Harry's lawyers would take care of it and demand a retraction.

"Was it Fudge or Dumbledore who had the article printed?"

"I don't know," she stammered. "If I had to guess I'd say it was someone in Fudge's office, especially someone who wanted to get him in trouble. Or maybe it was someone at Hogwarts, like some hopeful girl who has been telling people you are taking her."

"And who would that girl be?"

"I don't know, that is just a possibility and logical to assume."

"You mean like Ginny Weasley or…Draco?"

"Draco? Why would Draco start such a rumor especially after he wrote you that lovely letter?"

"Draco didn't write me that 'lovely letter' now did he? I think you wanted him to write me a letter of apology, an offer of friendship but that he refused and so you wrote it, spelled to be in his handwriting and sent it to me."

Damn, how had he known? There was nothing to do but confess and try to sweet talk him into believing that Draco was…too ashamed to admit his wrongdoings. That was a total lie because Draco was a Malfoy through and through and refused to accept that he, his mother and even his father were vassals of the despised Harry Potter.

However, before she could say a thing Harry snapped out, "Don't try to 'stretch the truth' or make excuses for your baby boy because I know that despite being warned to keep his big mouth shut, he has been his usual whiny, nasty, backstabbing self."

"I also know that you and Lucy had to spell him into not being able to speak or write about the 'family conference' we had but why didn't you – or was it Lucy – spell him to prevent his mind being Legitimized, especially knowing that his Head of House and Dumbles are master Legilimens?"

Damn she forgot about that as she had been too focused on making certain he wouldn't talk or write the information she forgot about Severus. Fortunately Harry was too angry to wait for an answer and because he was too angry over the "apologies" he had received.

"You might be interested to know that over half of the 'apologies' I received had compulsion charms on them. There was one rather flowery, syrupy, verbose piece of garbage written on behalf of Gryffindor House and signed by every member and McG asking Neville and me to forgive them for the 'misunderstandings' and the 'lack of initial support' for my being chosen as the fourth champion."

"They even offered to cast Ron out since it was his fault alone that the 'misunderstandings' took place. The letter even hinted that Ron – Ron Weasley of all people – had spelled them into signing against their will. Not only is that absolutely ridiculous on so many levels they apparently forgot that Neville should have been affected by the 'spelling' yet he, who most of Gryffindor still refers to as a Squib, apparently was the only person to fight off 'Ron's powerful spell' and didn't sign."

"The Goblins said this letter had so many spells, charms and even a curse on it, that it took three Goblins to break them all and then an Unspeakable was called in to check their work because Ragnok had a gut feeling that something was wrong. He was correct because there were some underlying spells found directed towards Goblin magics which means that now the bank is 'questioning' every single member and their families because this shows that some serious bribing is being done."

"Don't forget the potions," Roddy added.

"Oh yes, the potions, how could I forget them. Under the circumstances, Ragnok had the Unspeakables do further checks for things not ordinarily suspected. Apparently the parchment which this letter as well as some of the others were written on were found to have been potioned. They don't know what the potion does as it is not one the Goblins or the Unspeakables are familiar with so it is probably one recently invented – invented by a master. They surmise that it is some kind of spell sealant or makes certain magics harder to detect, such as a magical signature."

Narcissa got a bad feeling about this as Harry continued.

"Besides the Gryffindor letter containing the potion, several letters from Slytherins had the treated parchment, including the fake letter I received from Draco. Would you care to explain that?"

Narcissa was stunned and knew she was now in deep trouble so only the truth would pacify Harry. "I admit that I did write the letter on Draco's behalf because…well he is still having problems accepting…the realities and changes in all of our…circumstances and allegiances. I will swear on my life and magic that I know nothing about any such potion nor did I place any spells or charms on the letter except the one forging Draco's handwriting and signature. I swear."

"I also don't know anything about the article in the Prophet except for the guess as to who was responsible as I told you. I would like to think that Draco had nothing to do with it but…well I can't swear that he didn't because…well you know Draco."

And Harry did but he made Narcissa swear in regard to the potions and letter.

The rest of the allotted lesson time was spent with Narcissa reading the letters to Harry, Neville and Roddy. The Goblins destroyed all letters that were classified as hate mail, cursed and spelled, although a record of who had sent it and what was said was made. The only hate mail that was saved was from those who would soon be facing trials and lawsuits, like the howlers and/or other letters Molly Weasley had been sending every day.

Harry wouldn't touch the letters nor would he let Neville or Roddy but Narcissa was fair game and she was forced (probably as a punishment) to read every gushing, fawning, false, hypocritical, lying, attempts at manipulation and guilt inducing pieces of dung sent to Harry in the name of "apologies." After she was finished all of them were in need of calming potions, stomach settling potions and stiff drinks. Under the circumstances Roddy allowed Harry and Neville to have one glass of good brandy as they were soon going to have lessons in wine/liquor appreciation so why not start now.

Neville told Narcissa that he was going to the ball and had even asked Su Li, another outcast like himself and Harry who acquaintance he had made while tutoring her in Herbology. They were keeping it a secret because of what had happened to Su Li's fellow Ravenclaw and friend of Neville and Harry, Luna Lovegood.

"I don't know whether you are aware of it or not but every year in Ravenclaw has its designated 'outcast' who the 'Alpha Claws' are allowed to bully. Apparently it is a tradition started in the 1960's. Su Li is the outcast in our year and Luna is the outcast in third year. Usually it is a girl but sometimes a boy as it all depends on how unimportant your family is and – this is totally unofficial – if Dumbledore wants to 'prove something' to a family or gain an ally who has been refusing to support or join him in his politics."

"Some Ravenclaws are 'annoyed' that Luna's Father has the sole rights to interview and report on Harry. Cho Chang is one of the most popular 'Alphas' and she is still mad at Harry for 'stealing the thunder of her boyfriend,' Cedric Diggory. Therefore, the House was planning something really cruel and nasty to do to poor Luna only because they can. Su Li overheard a few of the 'suggestions' and Luna is…rather adept at guessing at things shall we say."

"From what Luna and Su Li figured out, one of the seven years was going to ask Luna to the Yule Ball. This was supposed to get Luna all excited and hopeful and she would buy the dress but the night of the ball Roger Davies – the seventh year who is really going with Fleur Delacour – well he'd tell Luna at the very last minute after she came down to the common room all dressed up that not only was he not taking her to the ball but that it was all a joke."

"Then he'd say a few cruel things before laughing at her and going off to pick up Fleur. Then the other Claws would make fun of her, rip her gown to shreds, have a good laugh at her expense and then do something called a 'Carrie' before they would all go off to the Yule Ball. But first pictures would be taken and posted around the school and copies would be sent to the Daily Prophet to print and get back at Xeno Lovegood."

"What is a 'Carrie'?" Narcissa asked cautiously.

Sensing Harry was about to blow Roddy told Narcissa. "Carrie is the name of a Muggle horror film. The story is about Carrie a shy, ridiculed, outcast girl – much like Luna – who has 'special powers' which she keeps hidden and whose mother is an unstable religious fanatic. Carrie is constantly insulted and humiliated by her classmates. It takes place in America and they call their school balls 'proms' and it is a type of rite of passage for secondary school students. If you don't go to your prom you are considered a failure especially if you are female."

"She is tricked into going to the prom only to be set up by two cruel classmates. It is arranged for Carrie and her date to be named king and queen of the prom and when they are crowned, one of the 'pranksters' pours a bucket of pig blood on the girl ruining the best moment of her life. Other things happen in the film but it is not important. It was the embarrassment and the pouring of the blood on Luna that was going to be the 'prank' and the photographs sent to the Prophet that was going to punish Xeno for his good luck in being Harry's official news representative."

"Oh that is horrible – dreadful," said a truly shocked Narcissa.

"And these are the people you want me to mingle with, to attend a ball with?" snapped Harry. "The fact that it was Cho Chang's idea to get back at me for 'stealing her boyfriend's thunder' makes it worst as had it been accomplished it would be a back-handed insult and attack on me. At the very least it would have been a mean and vicious attack on an innocent girl who would not only be humiliated at Hogwarts but in the Prophet all of Britain and some parts of Europe."

Harry wasn't finished yet as he reminded Narcissa that one of the letters she had read had been from Cho Chang. "Would you agree that Cho Chang's letter, which was heavily spelled, was one of the most stomaching turning of the lot?"

Narcissa would and did and she was already planning some personal revenge on the brash, nasty girl. Her parents did business with the Malfoys but would soon be informed the relationship was over. Harry got her attention back by dropping the final bombshell.

"Now that you know about the letters and Neville going to the prom – ah I mean the Yule Ball, there is one more thing that I have to tell you," he said glaring at the witch like it was all her fault.

"When Filius brought me the copy of the Prophet, he also brought me a message from the Goblins. It seems that the Tournament Committee has declared that attendance at the Yule Ball is mandatory by all of the Champions otherwise I will lose my magic. Apparently some arcane rule was brought to light stating that participation in the Tournament includes not only completing the tasks but attending ANY AND ALL ceremonies. My solicitors are checking the rules but as it stands now at this late date I AM BEING ORDERED TO ATTEND THE YULE BALL."

"Oh," said Narcissa. "Well who are you going to take to…."

"That is a secret my dear Narcissa," Harry whispered.

He began to lightly stroke Narcissa's left check with his finger, a liberty that the normally polite and considerate boy would ordinarily never do. He had a slight gleam in his killing curse green eyes and the look on his aristocratic features – those features which reminded her of another vindictive individual – frightened her. His final word, or rather promise, to her before dismissing her from his presence was chilling.

"I will be attending the Yule Ball but everyone who schemed to force me into attending, everyone who thinks to use this useless dance to insult, embarrass, humiliate me or mine and/or attempt to regain control of me…WILL RUE THE DAY."

At that moment Narcissa knew it would be not only the social event of the year but probably a day that would live in infamy and she would be correct.

Chapter 5 – A Memorable Yule Ball

The day of the Yule Ball dawned bright, clear and cold. It was a day of excitement and happiness for many but most especially, Cornelius Fudge, the Triwizard Tournament Committee, the employees of the Daily Prophet, especially Rita Skeeter, certain students and even a faculty member or two of Hogwarts and most joyful of all was Albus Dumbledore.

A ball is always a cause for happiness - if you are a female who has a date for the ball and a new gown and your hair and makeup has turned out making you look or at least feel beautiful. Even if you can't stand your date the fact that you are going and look and feel like a princess cancels out the fact that your escort is a frog and not a prince, but instead a Goyle, a Crabbe or a Ron Weasley.

Some males like the idea of a ball especially if they have a beautiful girl as their date. Believe it or not there are some adolescent males who are romantic and have silly dreams just like girls do about a moment during a special dance when…. Sigh – "Magic" might happen!

Even if you are a male and don't want to go to a dance let alone a ball, if you have managed to acquire a date (no matter how unwilling the girl or how bad she looks), well if nothing else you get to eat and drink (and hope the punch is spiked), make fun of people, get out of dancing with the girl except for maybe a slow dance where you can hopefully get a feel or better yet convince them to take a walk with you in a secluded garden or pathway and get some 'sugar' and if not, you have one more chance to get a bit when you take them back to their House, Ship or Carriage and try, try, try again.

Hermione Granger was happy, excited and very nervous. She was sad and dejected having lost Harry's friendship (at least for the moment) but she had been surprised and flattered when VIKTOR KRUM had asked her to the ball. He had even sworn on his life that he was sincere and that this was not a prank as some people who had been listening in and witnessed the asking immediately starting shouting.

She had her first gown, her hair and makeup were perfect (to her at least but not in Parvati and Lavender's opinion) and she felt…like a princess. And Viktor had really shown up much to her relief!

The Ravenclaws were all in fine form led by Cho Chang the date of the "Real Hogwarts Champion" and future winner of the Tournament, Cedric Diggory. Luna Lovegood had refused Roger Davies' offer noting that "What would Fleur say" and for her pains she was punished by Cho and her cohorts for 'insulting Roger' but at least she could now hide until after the ball.

Su Li told her roommates that she didn't have a date and was told in return "Well who would want to go on a date let alone go to a Yule Ball with you," and they then spent several days laughing and taunting the girl. The day of the ball she had been snuck away by Winky the house elf to a hidden room where she and Luna prepared for their first date/ball.

Yes, Luna Lovegood had been asked to the ball by one of Viktor Krum's school mates. The shy Dieter Kruger had seen Luna in the Library and wandering through the halls and liked what he saw. He asked her very politely and even swore an oath much like Viktor had that he wasn't playing a prank and really wanted to take her to the ball.

Su Li had a golden gown in an oriental style while Luna was dressed in a silver creation that could only be described as…magical…and totally Luna. Both girls looked and felt like queens – there were already too many princesses roaming about tonight for them to be anything less than a queen.

Cornelius Fudge and the Tournament Committee were relieved when Dumbledore had suggested a way to force Potter to cooperate. So much depended on the Tournament being a success and Fudge really, really wanted the boy to…play nice despite all of the dreadful things that had happened to him, some of which Fudge not only knew about but…well had helped to pull off.

Dumbledore had promised him that any "irregularities" which dear Cornelius might be involved in could be just made to go away if Fudge only cooperated with the Leader of the Light and helped get the poor, inexperienced boy back under the influence and "guidance (meaning control) of Albus Dumbledore. Then not only would Fudge's position be safe he would be receiving a substantial campaign contribution every so often to make his re-election a sure thing.

Rita Skeeter was here on a mission. There were various lawsuits pending against the Prophet and her, but tonight she was here to cover the Yule Ball and not Potter. However, arrangements had already been made for her to interview various students and get their opinions on the ball and if they chose to describe the dress, the date and actions of a certain individual without giving that individual's name, well it was their right to have that opinion printed in the Prophet for all the world to hear. No names would be mentioned but it would be clear to all her readers who the unnamed individual really was.

Rita had not forgotten nor forgiven (and never would) the punch "the Bastard" had given her. In the deepest depths of what passed for her soul, she really couldn't blame him as he had actually done what so many others had wanted to do but didn't dare. Then he had filed those lawsuits and given exclusive rights to Lovegood and not the Prophet. Her editor didn't care if she wasn't allowed to write her poisonous articles but when no one else at the newspaper could either…well something had to be done to get back at the kid.

She already had a rough draft written of the students' opinions and she had to admit that it was some of her more venomous work. All she had to do was to have a student read what she had written and then agree with it so that she could print it as their opinion. She knew that Draco Malfoy had already prepared a statement as had Ron Weasley who had to remain an anonymous source but she knew he would make up some horrendous slurs against Potter. If they were acceptably scathing enough he would get paid.

She couldn't wait for the fun to start!

The day Narcissa had read the letters, been warned and then dismissed, she immediately went in search of her son. She found him in Charms and had dragged him out despite Flitwick's protests. She stopped in an alcove where there were few portraits and then put up several notice-me-not and silencing charms before actually slamming her only beloved child against a wall and pointing her wand at him.

"I know you are not 'pleased' with the changes that have happened in the past few weeks but again I will impress upon you – . . . .HARM. . . . . You will not win and it will only cause us both irreparable harm."

Draco was shocked by his mother's actions but quickly recovered and push her wand away from his face before starting his rant. She was waving her wand over him and not really paying attention to the dribble he was saying as she was too busy checking him for spells but unfortunately she found none.

"Draco," she interrupted, "I know because of your father and your own pride you think that Harry Potter is helpless, a pawn of Dumbledore and all of this nonsense will stop once Dumbledore gets him back under his control. However, Harry Potter is now LORD SEVEN and he is not helpless and Dumbledore will soon find out much to his shock and utter disbelief that this time he will not win."

"No Mother," Draco snarled, "It is you who is in error and I intend on proving it and Father is in agreement with me. So therefore, at the…"

SLAP! His Mother had slapped her son, her only child hard across his handsome face before shouting, "This is my last warning Draco!"

"GOOD, NOW I DON'T HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU EVER AGAIN. I HAVE NO MOTHER AND I AM DONE WITH YOU AND YOUR FEAR." With that said he ran away as fast as he could from his beloved Mother.

How dare she? His Father was right. She was just a foolish, scared woman who didn't know how politics really worked. Therefore it was up to him and Draco to 'take care of things' and finally destroy Potter.

That was what he was going to do at the Yule Ball as his minions had been briefed, he had Severus' cooperation and Rita Skeeter had come running at his call. He was also planning on doing other things to Scarhead before the second task to assure that he couldn't compete and thus would lose his magic and die! That would prove to his Mother that she was wrong!

Severus Snape was almost gleeful hearing what Albus and even Draco had planned for James' arrogant, talentless, weak-powered spawn. Although he had made a vow to "protect Lily's son" that didn't mean he couldn't emotionally, mentally and physically torture James' part of the bastard.

Albus Dumbledore was particularly pleased at how well his latest plans were going. He was still fighting tooth and nail against the charges leveled against him and he had to admit that there had been some failures.

Molly Weasley was going to be tried for arranging an illegal marriage contract between her daughter and Potter. She had been brought in for questioning before the dragon dung had hit the fan and thus had been dosed with Veritaserum and spilled the ALL of the plans she had been party to. There were copies of the evidence hidden in various places and try as he might Dumbledore couldn't find out where any of them were.

Amelia Bones had interrogated every Auror and made them swear on their life and magic that they were not members of the Order of the Phoenix and if they were not, they would not become a member. If you were an acknowledged follower of Albus Dumbledore you had to take an oath that your first and only duty as an Auror was to the Ministry and NOT DUMBLEDORE. If you could or would not take the oath, you were fired. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Emmeline Vance and Hestia Jones were no longer Aurors and Arthur Weasley had been suspended without pay pending the trial of his wife and the fact that he was a member of the Order.

Dumbledore had managed to "convince" Fudge to side with him as only Dumbledore could – he compelled the hell out of him. Even Lucius Malfoy was making overtures if he could benefit from bringing down Harry Potter. He had given Dumbledore some very important information and was having Draco play his part at Hogwarts. Dumbledore knew he had to be careful when it came to dealing with Lucius Malfoy but he had taken precautions and was positive that Lucius could be used and then…NOT rewarded for the services he was rendering.

He had called back Sirius and Remus from the island paradise where Sirius had been "recovering his health" and although Harry had refused to take on Remus as his tutor or see Sirius and had gone as far as taking out one of those silly restraining orders against them, Albus was confident that once they were in the boy's presence they would soon win him over. At least they could distract him while Dumbledore re-spelled him back into slavery.

A lot would happen tonight at the Yule Ball where Potter would finally have to expose himself and then he could be retrieved as no lawyers, no Goblins and no Amelia Bones and her trustworthy Aurors and Unspeakables were allowed in Hogwarts this night on orders of Cornelius Fudge. Remus and Sirius had been invited and even if they were not officially at the Ball, they would be waiting in the wings to help snatch Harry Potter.

Like Rita Skeeter and Draco Malfoy, Albus Dumbledore couldn't wait for the fun to start.

Minerva McGonagall could wait – forever if necessary. She knew Albus was up to something and since he was used to getting his way he was confident that he could "convince" Harry Potter to drop all of those nasty lawsuits and investigations, turn over all of his Lordships to those who could better handle and use them until the boy came of age – such as Albus – return to Gryffindor House with his tail between his legs and do whatever else Albus wanted him to do such as return to the Dursleys during the holidays.

Albus might be confident but Minerva was not as she had talked to the boy the same day Harry had dismissed Narcissa. Minerva had been in her office marking a few tests before she went down to dinner when Dobby the house elf appeared, grabbed her and popped her out of her office and into the lair…uh private suite of Harry and Neville.

Before she could utter any greetings or even say "boo" Harry held up the day's copy of the Prophet and then actually snarled at her. He also gave her the same look which he had given Narcissa and like Narcissa, McG thought she saw other features on the boy's face and they were not anything like James Potter. It had been revealed that there had been some unexplained blocks, charms, spells, etc. placed on Harry James Potter as well as a glamour which he apparently had since birth. All had been removed and that was one of the reasons for the various investigations and lawsuits.

It had been Poppy who had alerted McG that Harry really didn't look like James when he had his glasses off and his hair had been charmed tamed. It was in Harry's first year when he had been in the unconscious in the Infirmary that Poppy had invited Minerva up to "Look at him now without the glasses and hair. Who does he remind you of?" Minerva wouldn't say anything but words were not needed as both women knew exactly who he slightly resembled even with the glamour on.

Seeing him now without the glamour and much healthier looking as well as showing his anger, McG had to catch her breath as she looked at him, noted his body language and a few small previously overlooked for traits now manifesting before her.

"Are you even listening?" he had shouted at her.

"What? Oh, no, sorry but I am shocked at being here and brought so quickly and without warning that I…"

"Well start listening NOW. I know this is Dumbledick's doing and he won't get away with it. I recommend you not tell him what I just said because he wouldn't believe you and probably laugh at you like he has done so many times before. This is between him and me."

"However, I am giving YOU a warning - and a promise. Remember those restraining orders I have out against the Weasleys? You know what a restraining order is and you also know that Dumbledamndoodoo merely laughs at them. However, if Ron and/or Ginny Weasley come within twenty feet of me – they are toast! It is the same with the Twins. If they attempt to talk to me or Neville or our dates or foolishly play a 'prank' I will have them arrested."

"Oh so you are attending…."

"SHUT UP AND LISTEN YOU OLD HAG!" Harry screamed out. McG took the hint as she had never seen even Severus this angry.

"In case you have forgotten or have been told 'not to worry about it' by a certain %#*#&^^, you also are under investigation and will be called to court on the 27th. The only way you will not be in court is if you are confirmed dead and already burning in hell. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"

She nodded yes.

"That letter of apology from Gryffindor was so heavily spelled that although it took three Goblins and two Unspeakables to break all of the magic cast on it, it was done and has been made an exhibit to be used at trial and there are copies of the evidence and testimony and lot of other stuff in several COUNTRIES along with other evidence and exhibits – just in case 'things get conveniently lost' a thing which has happened quite a lot when Dumbledore is involved."

"Now I will tell you one more thing which YOU CANNOT TELL DUMBLEDORE. This is your last chance you, Gryffindor House and any Gryffindor will get so don't screw it up by telling Dumbledore anything I tell you because I will know and that's the end of you Minnie," he spat out."

"Because the Twins and Ginny are idiots and have been promised by Damnbledick – well whatever nonsense he promised them - if they show up at the ball and come near me or Neville and do what I said earlier. They are going to be in violation of the restraining order and Amelia Bones will be enforcing it to the full extent of the law. To reiterate – this is the first, last and only warning."

"We all know that Ron is an UBER-IDIOT and probably has schemes going on that even though Doredamndickleboob has forbidden it, he will do it anyway to get back at me and no doubt earn some money. Considering that he, Dean, Seamus and those three other dorks who beat up Neville are supposed to be doing detentions and not be allowed to come to the ball, if any of them show up, Neville will sic Amelia on them and not with just a warning. Ron just won't be toast, he will be ashes. .UNDERSTAND?"

She nodded as tears began to flow.

"Stop the crocodile tears Minnie," Harry said sharply. "The last warning is for Hermione. I know you like her so . .CONSEQUENCES. I know she is going to the ball with Viktor Krum. It is her first date and her first ball and she has a gown and will put on makeup and look and feel like a fairy tale princess," he said sarcastically in a high girly voice."

"However, Hermione, being Hermione, will pounce on me as soon as she sees me and will start asking me multiple questions in her usual rapid fire way and not giving me a chance to answer any of them before she starts answering them herself and/or demanding that I apologize to everybody but Voldemort for things I am not guilty of doing most especially to Dickbledork who I have disappointed very badly, blab, blab, blab, blab" he said breathlessly.

He caught his breath quickly and said, "Thus Hermione Granger will have totally ruined her first and maybe only 'magical night' and have tarnished her 'princess for a night crown' by making a fool of herself, insulting her date, someone will come running to her defense or at least to join in the fray and make it worse and then she will probably do something really stupid like touch me and then the riot will start."

He stopped talking probably waiting for McG to ask "What riot?" and when she did he told her.

"I will cold-cock her just like I did to Rita Skeeter who will ignore her restraining order and come rushing over – with her photographer – to 'interview' me but mostly to start further trouble. Viktor Krum, being the honorable Teutonic gentleman that he is, will defend his date and attack me and I will defend myself while others also attack me but my defenders will jump in, Dumbledoodickle will swoop in and capture me under the guise of 'rescuing me' and if he doesn't Remus Lupin and Sirius Black will. I know he is having them come here to 'talk sense into me and/or charm me back into the slavery of Dumbleassdickle' or whatever, but the riot will have started."

"The ball will be totally ruined, princess girls will be crying – some of whom will also be dueling and dear knows what else – as dresses, hairdos and makeup are destroyed beyond repair and it will be all Hermione Granger's – and your – fault."

McGonagall had to admit that was probably what would happen.

"Therefore," he continued, "You have one chance and one chance only to convince Hermione to . .SHUT. Also she cannot tell Dickdamndore or anybody else – especially a Weasley. Spell her if you have to because is she blabs and/or opens her big mouth – it's restraining order time and she will be called to trial also to give evidence."

"If she goes to trial, even as a witness, her parents will be told about all of her 'adventures' as well as all of the 'special services rendered to Dumbledore' as stated at the trial. You may be assured that Hermione Granger will never ever return to Hogwarts due to her parents' ire and my interference" he added icily.

Dobby popped McG back to her office but she was not in a mood to eat. Instead she took some "medicine" and then took an even bigger swig. She sent her private elf to find and bring Hermione back to her office 'without anybody noticing' and when Hermione arrived, McG told her everything.

Of course the first thing Hermione wanted to do was tell the Headmaster as "He will know what to do." For some reason McG felt her hands grab Hermione's neck and began chocking the girl before realizing what she was doing, apologized and then did the only thing possible. She spelled the girl not to.

"It's for your own good lassie," she said. "Everything will happen as Harry said it would – it's logical. Please, please, please, PLEASE do this one thing for me and keep your mouth shut."

Even though she had spelled the girl McG feared she would break the spell especially when she saw Harry at the ball. It was just in her nature.

By the night of the ball McG was on pins and needles. She couldn't tell Poppy anything but Poppy knew just by looking at her (and because Harry had Dobby tell the medi-witch so she could be prepared for the riot). McG had taken five calming draughts starting at 6 a.m. and had gulped down the last one she could safely take for another four hours just before she had to go down to oversee the ball and prepare the champions to make their grand entrance.

It was pleasing to watch as the couples began entering the Great Hall which had been turned into a grand ballroom for the evening. The students all looked wonderful and very smart all dressed up in their formal finery.

Even Crabbe and Goyle and their dates looked nice. Crabbe had taken a third year Slytherin girl (who McG knew was his cousin) and Goyle had Millicent Bulstrode on his arm. The heavy set, very plain girl actually looked radiant and Goyle looked stunned but happy at how well his date cleaned up. Unfortunately Millicent could not say the same for her date nor could Crabbe's cousin.

McG was getting more and more nervous. Viktor Krum and Hermione (who was breathtaking) and Cho Chang and Cedric Diggory had already assembled where the champions were to meet. Cho was a very pretty girl (not beautiful but very pretty in McG's opinion) and she was wearing a designer gown (or what passed for one in Magical Britain). Cedric looked on appreciatively and Cho basked in his adulation. McG noticed she was apparently expecting Viktor Krum to give her admiring looks but he was too busy admiring his date.

The hall was almost filled when Neville Longbottom (looking like a true Pureblood heir) and Su Li appeared along with some boy from Darmstadt and Luna Lovegood of all people. Luna was a very pretty girl but downplayed her looks probably because of the way she was treated. Tonight wearing a gown that a fairy had to have designed and her hair styled like…a goddess…the girl was a vision of loveliness and was radiating true beauty.

Many heads turned to look at her and stayed looking longer than necessary. It seemed like no one had recognized her yet. The two couples took their seats at a table which suddenly appeared for their exclusive use and once they were seated, shields went up to protect them from nasty people and rude comments.

The rude comments were about to start as much to her horror, Ginny Weasley showed up on the arm of Blaize Zabini and the Weasley Twins followed with their dates. She had warned them, pleaded even but no, there they were making a grand entrance and taking their places at a table which apparently had been reserved for them because "Dumbledore wants us here" thus explaining why they were laughingly ignoring her command to leave.

Why Zabini had taken Ginny Weasley was a mystery but McG had a dreadful feeling it had been arranged by Draco or even Dumbledore to "start something" and bait Harry. Despite the restraining orders it was clear to McG that Ginny was going to 'talk' to Harry Potter knowing that Dumbledore would "take care of things" and she and her foolish family had probably be promised revenge or something that Albus could not deliver.

At least Ron Weasley and the other five hadn't shown up – until they did at the last minute. They all came together with their dates and marched proudly and arrogantly into the Great Hall like they owned it. A table had also been reserved for them and they sat down and Ron immediately could be heard asking "when do we eat" and then making complaints. He was the worst dressed of all of them, and even Dean Thomas who was from a poor working class family and was attending Hogwarts as a charity student was better dressed. Of course he carried himself proudly and with much more pride and elegance than Ron so he made his cheap clothes look better than they were.

All McG needed to happen now was for Hermione to open her big mouth. She did a quick scan of the girl and the charms were still intact and she hoped they held.

Finally all the students and dignitaries were seated in the Great Hall and the doors were shut. Now all that was necessary to start the ball was Fleur and Harry showing up. Fleur and a befuddled Roger Davies arrived 15 minutes late no doubt because Fleur had to make her entrance and make everybody wait for her arrival for things to start. She was annoyed to discover that she had not been the last to arrive as 'the leetle boy' was not there yet. They waited for another 15 minutes before one of the doors opened and Ron Weasley announced, "Dumbledore says to come in now so we can finally eat" then he slammed the door shut.

"I refuse to wait any longer for that 'leetle boy who cheats'" Fleur spat out. "Either open the door now or I will," she hissed at McG. Then Cho Chang agreed with her and urged Cedric to open the door.

McG had no doubt that Harry was doing this purposely. Like the tasks, he had to show up before it ended and he probably was planning on arriving – without a date – at the very last minute to fulfill his obligation. So McG told Fleur and Cho to "shut up" and then she opened the doors and signaled for the entrance music to begin.

Viktor Krum and Hermione Granger were the only ones showing poise and decorum and worthy of being called Champion and Companion. Cho preened and acted like she was the champion or at the very least a queen as she even nodded her head from side to side as they walked down the aisle to the champions' table.

A shameless Fleur had turned her Veela allure up full blast and poor Roger had nearly fainted and Cedric got a goofy look on his face while Viktor shut his eyes in an attempt to block out the allure. Fortunately Hermione was able to guide him so he didn't trip and make a fool out of both of them. All the boys they passed went goofy and, much to McG's great embarrassment, Ron Weasley popped out of his seat and started chasing after the trio in an attempt to get Fleur's attention.

McG just wanted to dig a hole, climb in it and pull a lid over it and then die and immediately decompose into dust. But nothing else was working out for her so why should she get that wish.

Albus was furious. Potter hadn't showed and was probably waiting until the very last second to attend. Well he wasn't going to get away with it. As soon as the dinner started, he called for his private elf and ordered a thorough hunt to begin and to have Lupin and Sirius use their sense of smell to find the boy.

Then he would be forced to sit in the specially spelled, multi-rune and cursed champion chair and the destruction of Lord Seven would begin and there would be no way to stop it. Immediately after the ball ended (or now maybe before it did), he would be taken to Dumbledore's office and the cursing and spelling would continue. Remus and Sirius would then take custody of the boy, as Dumbledore would still allow Harry (but not Neville) to have a private room and Remus and Sirius would be Harry's tutors and teach him what Dumbledore wanted him taught – starting with humility.

Potter was not going to get away with this and it was going to be his very last act of rebellion as he would be spelled silly and be forced into taking the oath and become a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Then he would have no choice but to obey Dumbledore completely and forever and not all of his Lordships combined could save him from his fate.

Although the food was excellent and most of the attendees were happy and enjoying themselves (especially at Neville's table) at certain tables Potter was the main subject of conversation. Draco was furious that Potter hadn't shown and even Pansy telling him "he's probably going to make an entrance" Draco was still mad. What if the git didn't show or was here but wearing that damn Invisibility Cloak and fulfilling the requirements of attendance.

There had been rumors for years that Potter had an invisibility cloak and then Weasley had confirmed it since the fall out. Draco's spy in Gryffindor (a seventh year whose parents' were beholding to Lucius) had reported that Weasley had stolen Potter's Firebolt, his photo album and the cloak as soon as he could. He hid them where Potter would never find them – under his sister's bed in the girl's dormitory – but apparently someone had and rumored had it that Potter had gotten them back and had hidden them where even Dumbledore couldn't find them, which probably meant in his family vault at Gringotts.

If Potter didn't show, Draco would have to rewrite his entire interview and thus due to time constraints Skeeter would probably use her own words whereas Draco wanted his opinion stated for all the world to hear and applaud. The ball was ruined for him.

Rita Skeeter wouldn't have access to her students until after the dancing had started and the students went out for a breath of fresh air. Until then she was in her beetle animagus form and flying around, landing on a student here and there and getting some real dirt and opinions on Potter.

She was currently sitting on Fleur elegantly coiffed head listening to the Veela give yet another scathing comment against 'the leetle boy' and thinking – 'the Veela has a limited vocabulary as that is all she calls Potter' and unfortunately for Rita it would be the last thing she would think.

"You have a bug in your hair," Cho spitefully told Fleur.

Before anything could be done the still besotted Roger Davies saw the beetle and quickly snatched in out of Fleur hair threw in down on the table hard and then smashed it with a loud BLAM with his fist smishing the bug into the tablecloth.

"I have saved you from the evil, filthy bug," Roger crowed happily expecting praise from his fair lady but getting distain when she said "Clean it off the tablecloth you fool I don't want to see dead bug."

But Fleur wouldn't be seeing dead bug as when an animagus is killed in its animal form, it soon reverts back to its full size and that was what happened. The bloody, bruised, flattened and broken body of Rita Skeeter increased in size and then several things happened.

Hermione Granger's hand flew up to her mouth in shock while Viktor very quickly but gently placed his hand over her eyes to prevent her from seeing the dreadful sight. He then helped her up out of her chair and escorted her away.

Roger Davies took one look at his handiwork and fainted dead away fortunately falling backwards and not forwards so that he didn't land in the corpse. Cedric started vomiting everything he had eaten in the last 24 hours while Fleur and Cho vied with each other to see who could scream the loudest and longest.

Poppy Pomfrey came running over while Flitwick disillusioned the body and Fudge tried not to faint. A stretcher was conjured, the remains of most of the body was placed on it while Dumbledore and Snape rushed over to do damage control. Rita was recognized by her hair and her red fingernails and the remains of the hideous dress she had been wearing.

McGonagall ordered the students to go outside and take the air "before the dancing begins" and Moody and other teachers (who weren't being sick or fainting) helped move the students out, especially those seeking gory thrills like Seamus and Dean. Ron was mad because he just lost money and Draco – well Draco had to go off someplace private to throw a huge temper tantrum.

It took an hour for things settle down, dresses to be cleaned, hairdos to be fixed and calming draughts to be administered. Snape had brewed a lot of them but McGonagall had made a huge dent in the supply and St. Mungo's had to bring in a supply so that the ball could continue. They had to take Roger Davies back with them despite Dumbledore's protests because the boy was in deep shock and couldn't be treated at the scene.

Fleur was livid as now she had to pick someone to dance with to start the next part of the ball. She tried to order Viktor to dance with her but he refused him most vehemently saying he had his companion and "to find another Roger." Ron Weasley ran up to volunteer but was stopped in his tracks as Fleur whipped out her wand and transfigured him into a toad, then changed her mind and changed him into a pig (complete with dirt on his snout and other places) which suited his personality much better.

Ron, being Ron the pig, stopped thinking about sex and went for the desert table which the elves had just finished laying out. He lived up to his new form until Moody hexed him away.

The photographers had forced their way in and professional and personal pictures were taken of "the spot" and Ron showing off his true nature. McGonagall thought about ordering Fleur to turn Ron back but decided not to as it would stop him from talking. Talking yes, but not grunting, eating and…doing other disgusting things in public which made the house elves gag when they were summoned to clean up the mess. At least Ron got one of his wishes, namely getting his picture in the next day's edition of the Prophet. The Twins would cut it out and frame it.

Finally one of Viktor's friends volunteered to dance with Fleur – just to open the ball. Despite being a Veela Fleur had not made herself popular with the Darmstadt students because Viktor and Dieter Kruger told them how she behaved and what she had said and done in the champions' tent before and after the first task and how she constantly insulted not only Potter but Darmstadt.

The Darmstadt students had come to admire the boy they had once despised (at the command of their Headmaster) and his bravely facing a dragon without a wand and surviving after having been kidnapped for a week had impressed them greatly. After becoming a Lord of SEVEN Houses and his valiant revolt against Albus Dumbledore his status had increased.

The Triwizard Tournament was not the only life and death competition going on at Hogwarts and they eagerly waited to see who would win in the end.

The "fun" was still going on and McGonagall was worried that she would not survive. She just hoped that someone would take pity on her and take her to St. Mungo's so she could join Roger Davies. Maybe before the night was out she might be joining the Longbottoms in the Janus Thickey Ward because Harry Potter would soon be showing up if only to finish driving her crazy.

Speak of the devil. As the three couples were forming up to begin the dancing part of the ball the doors of the Great Hall blew open and Harry Potter made his entrance. McGonagall took one look at his date and finally fainted.

Harry was dressed in the best of robes but his date…well she was still wearing the school uniform she had died in. Moaning Myrtle floating into the Great Hall on Harry's arm or at least on his arm as much as a ghost could go arm and arm with a mortal. She did meet the criteria of being a Hogwarts student so "legally" she could be Harry Potter's date.

Hermione wanted to crawl into the proverbial hole and die. Throw her in a hole, she'd die and then a merciful person could cover the hole up with dirt (it seemed she had another thing in common with McGonagall). That was what she wanted at the moment if only because she couldn't say a thing. However, SOMEDAY she finally would be able to say something and then…LOOK OUT HARRY JAMES POTTER! She would burn his ears off spewing out her righteous opinion and condemning him for his outrageous behavior.

One can only imagine the comments being made by Fleur and Cho, therefore they won't be mentioned. Both Cedric and Helmut, the Darmstadt volunteer, were too shocked to say a thing so wisely they did not.

The Hogwarts students threw in their two knuts but Harry didn't care. The band started the music and the dance began. All four couples were having trouble dancing, Harry and Myrtle because Harry couldn't get a good hold on his partner but the ghost was finally in heaven and Harry was truly enjoying their efforts and the fact that the moaning ghost was actually happy and smiling for once.

The other three males were too busy staring at Harry and Myrtle wondering how they were managing to dance at all and because of this they were not concentrating on their dancing and more than one set of toes were stepped on. Fleur and Cho were still complaining while Hermione held her head down low so that she wouldn't have to watch the fiasco. She was trying not to cry.

Finally the Champions' dance ended signaling that the other students could begin their prancings. By this time Poppy Pomfrey had succeeded in reviving Minerva who meekly asked "Am I dreaming?" only to be told that unless she was seeing or thinking about something other than Harry Potter showing up with Moaning Myrtle as his date, then no she was not dreaming.

In an attempt to cheer up her colleague Pomfrey stated "At least things can't get worse" only to be told to hush by McG as now "You've probably cursed the ball further by saying that. Now things will definitely turn into a catastrophic failure."

She was proved correct as instead of heading to the Champions' table to sit down (because he knew better and didn't want to consort with the "Real Champions" and their dates) Harry escorted Myrtle over to Neville's table and the shields went down long enough for the unusual couple to enter before snapping up tighter than before. Dumbledore witnessed it and immediately went over to get things under control and back on track accompanied by a livid Snape.

If that miserable whelp of a Mudblood thought that any flimsy shields put up by the likes of Potter or especially Longbottom would hold up against ALBUS DUMBLEDORE IN HIS SCHOOL, well they were sadly and disastrously mistaken.

Dumbledore walked over to the "table of fools" as Snape had earlier termed it and snapped out a command to Harry to "COME TO MY OFFICE NOW" only to be ignored. He knew there was no silencing charm on the table as he could hear the conversation between Harry and Neville taking place as they complimented one another's date and the Darmstadt boy joined in.

McG watched in horror as for once Albus Dumbledore started to lose his composure due to being ignored. Both he and Snape were throwing curses at the shields while those behind it ignored the curses and strong, demanding language Dumbledore was spitting out at them. You really wouldn't want to hear what Snape was saying as…well several people were already yelling out "Language" to the angry Professor.

For some unfathomable reason, Dumbledore (and Snape) couldn't break down the shields and it was then that Ginny Weasley took it upon herself to rescue the Headmaster from his embarrassment by strolling over towards the table. She "knew" that all she had to do to save the day and aid Dumbledore in carrying out his great plan (not that she knew what it was only that Dumbledore always had a great plan) was to go over and taunt Harry Potter.

He would then lose his temper and like the fool she knew he was (well like the fool everybody knew he was) he would take down the shields to yell at her (and perhaps compliment her on how beautiful she looked) and then Dumbledore could swoop in and "GET HIM" and then all would go back to "normal" (with Dumbledore in complete control) and she would not only have her revenge but get a large reward.

Ginny had always had a high opinion of herself and thought this would be all it took. She was wrong on so many levels except the one which Harry KNEW would be the final straw in taking down Dumbledore and as well as destroying House Weasley/Prewett.

She sashayed up to the very edge of the shield and started giving Harry a piece of her mind (in her sexiest voice) only for the boy to look at her and smirk. He then snapped his fingers and called out "NOW" and before anything could be further said or done Aurors started popping in the Great Hall.

Now as everybody knew (because it said so in Hogwarts, a History) apparition inside Hogwarts was impossible – for a wizard or witch. Only house elves could pop in, out and around the school. But they, like the book, would be wrong. A wizard or a witch had to be specially keyed into the wards, have permission from an heir or two and then come to the aid (or rescue) the heir or two from harm. Also a Hogwarts house elf could pop people in and/or out of the school. And that was what was happening.

Pandemonium broke out, curses and hexes were traded and any student with an ounce of common sense or true survival instincts hide under tables and put up shield if they knew how or if they were close enough to a door ran for their lives. All the Beauxbatons students except for Fleur did one of those famous French retreats and managed to trample a few Hogwarts students who got in their way.

Remus Lupin ran into the Great Hall chasing a very large grim-like dog who eagerly entered the fray by biting anyone he could get at especially Slytherins. It was a true madhouse and only those sitting at the "table of fools" were enjoying themselves as they watched the melee from behind the safety of their shields.

Amelia Bones took down Dumbledore stunning him into submission and barely avoiding getting hit with a nasty dark spell cast at her by Snape. Snape was hit in the back by Pomona Sprout because she had always wanted to do it. All of the teachers from all of the schools got into the act but there were too many Aurors, hit wizards and it seemed every damn Unspeakable the Ministry of Magic possessed. Fudge wondered who was "watching the store" as he recognized a few Ministry officials who had apparently been deputized and came to fight as well as former and retired Aurors (but none of Dumbledore's people).

Only Xeno Lovegood would have the "scoop of the century" as all of the Prophet reporters and photographers had been arrested so only he could write the story that everyone wanted to know about. The Quibbler was a weekly magazine but on special occasions it printed a newspaper and he had already had things set up to print his special report because he knew what was probably going to happen. Because it was going to be an historic edition he had made arrangements to print more copies than the Prophet normally did and to send some to his overseas outlets.

His readers would be treated to all of the gory details – truthfully printed – something which the Prophet rarely did. He left nothing out including the very exclusive photograph his photographer got to take of Harry, his date, Neville, Su Li and Luna and her date. It was printed on page two because a full length photo of the fight in progress took up the entire front page except for the headline.

Sadly for so many girls, pictures of them taken during and after the fray showed their hair, makeup and dresses in disarray. It was reported that the fight had started because of the actions of Ginny Weasley and her "gang" of hoodlums. This was confirmed by interviews given to The Quibbler that night and eventually to the Prophet two days later. Therefore Ginny would be blamed for ruining "their magical night" and not Hermione Granger, much to McGonagall's relief. But still it had been a Gryffindor female who ruined the ball for all females other than the ones at Harry's table.

Pansy Parkinson had gleefully given an interview saying, among other things, "Fortunately the %#*%#^#&^#& was expelled (yes her direct quote was printed in full) as were some of those other idiotic Gryffindors. Well actually only Ginny and Ron had been expelled and the Twins and the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and Lee Jordan and two other seventh years had been suspended for the rest of the year so that they would all have to repeat the year.

Pansy also mentioned that a big, ugly, disgusting looking dog had been caught by several Slytherins lifting its leg and peeing on the unconscious Severus Snape. One of them had angrily hit the dog with a cutting hex severing its head off of its body due to the insult it was giving to his Head of House. Then, like Rita Skeeter, the dead dog was found to be an unregistered animagus who in death reverted back to Sirius Black. The Slytherin would receive the Order of Merlin Third-Class by Fudge several days later for "Capturing the notorious criminal Sirius Black and making Britain safe for children." Snape would also award the boy 500 house points.

Also mentioned in The Quibbler, the "special chair reserved for Harry Potter" had been looked at by an Unspeakable who said he was drawn to it as "it reeked of dark magic" and if Dumbledore thought he was in trouble before…whoa baby, "he ain't seen nothing yet" to use a Muggle saying.

Blaize Zabini, who despite his young age had attended many parties, soirées, balls and other social gatherings said his favorite memory of the Yule Ball was when "Ron Weasley, still in his pig form, stuck his little piggy head under the dress of Fleur Delacour and tried to 'get a whiff.' "I always wondered how long it took a Veela to change into a dangerous, fire-breathing bird but now I know and so does Weasley. If you want to interview him you'll have to go to the critical burn center at St. Mungo's."

Yes a good time was had by some, like those at the "table of fools" and an "interesting time" was had by many but EVERYBODY, even Draco Malfoy, Dumbledore, Snape and others had to admit that this was and probably would remain their most memorable ball, if not special moment, ever.

Chapter 6 – Trials and Tribulations

Minerva McGonagall had the headache from hell but this time it was not due to the hangovers she had been regularly suffering due to everything going on this year. She was told by Poppy it was due to the extra stress of "the situation" and she was living on headache potions which she had had to order from an apothecary because the Infirmary was out and Snape wasn't available to brew any due to the ongoing trials and many other things.

Narcissa Malfoy had to purchase many potions besides the headache and calming draughts she had been living on. All things considered Harry Potter – or Lord Seven – was being a good boy and a veritable angel compared to her own son. He still wasn't speaking to her but if she admitted it, she was glad as all he would be doing would be to whine, complain, curse out Harry, whine some more, nag her to "do something" and "get Father out of jail" since Lucius had been called to trial.

Despite putting up a fight Lucius had finally been dosed with Veritaserum and asked certain interesting questions. Much like Ginny Weasley had been blamed for causing the disaster at the Yule Ball, Lucius would be blamed for ratting out his fellow Death Eaters even more than Igor Karkaroff had done. Lucius had been forced to admit that he had willing joined the Death Eaters and had not been Imperiused just like all of the others who pled the Imperius defense.

Impossible as it seemed, as a favor to Narcissa Lord Seven had used his influence to get Lucius a special trial which would be postponed until after the "Dumbledore business" was finished. He would be kept in a Ministry holding cell and get to have "decent treatment" like good food, books to read and visits by Narcissa only. It was more than he deserved but Narcissa was thankful for this kindness even if her husband and son were not.

Narcissa knew Harry well enough by now to know he really wasn't doing this as a favor to Narcissa and definitely not to gain Lucius or Draco's favor or support. He knew he wouldn't get it and that both wizards would gladly kill him (after long, slow, horrible torture) if given the chance. No Harry had some devious plan which would benefit him and not the male Malfoys.

It took her a while to find out that to be given the perks he was receiving Lucius had to give testimony at Dumbledore's trial. She didn't know what it was only that Harry said it would be very interesting and helpful in the case against Dumbledore. Apparently Snape was getting the same deal so Narcissa knew it must have something to do with Voldemort/Death Eaters.

Harry wouldn't tell her any more as it was none of her concern and he couldn't risk her being compromised by being magically attacked by someone to find out what she knew such as her baby boy. He did warn her that Draco was pissing him off and if the ponce didn't stop doing and saying all of those nasty things…well Draco might be joining Lucius and getting a room at the "Ministry Hilton" (whatever that meant).

Harry had mentioned to Narcissa that with the exception of Draco shooting off his big mouth, the school was fairly quiet now that all Weasleys and other troublemakers were not in attendance. Dumbledore had been arrested along with Snape and the Ministry had brought in a few temporary replacements to teach Potions and fill the positions of Deputy Head and Headmaster. Lord Falmouth, the senior member of the Board of Governors was the acting Headmaster and Wilmot Grabbleforth of the Ministry Finance Section was filling in as Deputy Head and would be carefully investigating the school records, procedures and most especially, the finances of Hogwarts.

Fudge was extremely worried because Grabbleforth was disgustingly honest and had that rare and dangerous quality among Ministry workers known as integrity. He was comfortably wealthy and wouldn't take bribes and Fudge had been trying to get rid of him for years without success. Due to the seriousness of the situation, two Goblins had been assigned to assist him in financial matters and again much to Fudge's and definitely Dumbledore's distress, these Goblins would not overlook anything as they were under the most sacred of oaths and could not be bribed.

'What was the world coming to when people wouldn't take a good bribe or two to keep things normal and running smoothly' Fudge thought to himself. What about tradition and the status quo? The Ministry of Magic was designed to work a certain way and had in the centuries since it had been founded. It had been the same for Hogwarts for the last 150 years, especially the last 50 when Dumbledore became Headmaster. Now the delicate balance of checks and balances were in great danger – of being honestly checked and balanced – and Fudge feared the end of an era and the ruination of his career.

The only good things in his humble opinion was that Dumbledore just must might fall this time and lose all or at least some of the immense power he held. If nothing else, Fudge had been able to make a few deals to save himself at least temporarily and long enough to retire and keep his "nest egg" and any campaign contributions he had in his war chest. He still had to walk a fine line for a while, cooperate and not make waves but at least (so far) he wasn't going to Azkaban unless he did something really, really stupid.

Lucius had offered him G1 million to "make the charges go away" and although it was tempting - so very, very tempting - it was impossible to take as he was being watched very carefully and for once, he couldn't come through this time. So he did the only thing he could (to further save his skin) he reported it to Amelia Bones.

January of 1995 would see the beginning of great (and much needed) changes in Magical Britain. The trials of many had started, the most notably being that of the indestructible Albus Dumbledore. The odds makers were doing a brisk business taking bets on the outcome. There were many in Britain who despite not being a follower of the great wizard, still believed that he was untouchable and nothing would ever harm him. He would continue to go on and on getting his way in everything and frustrating any attempt to change things for the betterment of Magical Britain. It was Dumbledore's way or nothing.

The wizard himself believed the same as he knew he would always escape due to all of the fail safes he had in place. He had only been temporarily reined in and this new nonsense would soon pass as he had been able to regroup and plan anew since the initial confrontation. He had gotten away with it then and would do so again.

Except this time he was wrong. He was caught, couldn't talk his way out of it, his former defense for why he did things was totally disproved and much to his great shock and absolute horror he was sent to Azkaban. Granted he had one of the better cells in that hell hole, the ones used for minor crimes. Mundungus Fletcher had spent many a month in such a cell and he survived.

The first level of Azkaban was much better than the others. You still had a miserable cell but you had sheets on your hard wooden bed and a pillow and two threadbare blankets. The bed linen was changed once a month instead of never like in the lower cells where the hopeless, hardened, dangerous criminals like Death Eaters dwelt. There was just a stone slab for a bed, no pillow just one blanket to use as a pillow and another to cover your wretched body so you ended up using the pillow blanket because you were freezing.

On level one a warming charm was placed in the cell before nightfall whereas on the other levels there was no such thing as warmth even in the summer months. On level one you had a bucket to do your business and toilet paper but only if someone sent it to you. After you did what you had to do, the bucket would automatically clean itself. Below (in hell as it was called) you had a hole in the floor. On level one once a week you would be scourified by a house elf and males would be shaved but below…once a month if the warden "remembered" to tell the elves to do it. On level one, you were fed a nourishing, potion fortified gruel three times a day and received a jug of decent water with it but below it was twice a day if the warden remembered.

On level one the Dementors patrolled but were only allowed to "feed" for five minutes once a week always at the same time but below it was a daily, unannounced occurrence and sometimes happened more than once a day or night.

On a lighter note, level one prisoners were allowed to receive mail (after it had been checked by Aurors) and up to three visitors once a month. The visitors and mail could bring you extra food and you were allowed to receive books whereas below you didn't want to see any visitors who would come to see you if they could even get permission and no books or letters. The best you would get if an Auror was in a good mood was to be told really important news from the outside (like Dumbledore getting imprisoned in Azkaban) or if a loved one died.

Due to his advanced age and the "many wonderful services he had done in his life," Dumbledore had a five year sentence in level one. Unfortunately Albus was placed in a cell next to the one Molly Weasley inhabited and no one would cast silencing charms on her. She talked all day despite his direct orders not to and that was far worse than any Dementor. He had his Occlumency to help fight off the Dementors whereas Molly didn't and her "defense" against them was to scream louder than a banshee to chase them away. It never worked but she did it anyway.

However, Dumbledore had no intention of spending five years in any prison and knew his minions were working on getting him out. Then his enemies would fall and he'd get control on Harry Potter and if the brat thought his life had been bad and controlled before…just wait until Dumbledore got his hands on him!

Other trials occurred and Lucius was sentenced to ten years "below" because he had cooperated in getting Dumbledore convicted. Due to the circumstances of his life, Snape was not imprisoned in Azkaban but instead wore a magical tracker on his ankle which couldn't be removed except by the Unspeakable who spelled it on him. He lived and worked in the basement of St. Mungo's brewing potions and at times getting permission to do a bit of research. He wouldn't be leaving but he was a lot happier than he had been at Hogwarts and protected from the many enemies he had made throughout the years, his Death Eater peers and Albus Dumbledore. It was a close to heaven as he would ever get in this life and he knew it. He also knew that had to be some reason for this "good and merciful treatment" and only time would tell what it was and the price he would be paying for it.

All of those Death Eaters who like Lucius had pleaded the Imperius defense were residing in cells close to Lucius' new abode. He was in screeching distance of his dear sister-in-law who had been informed of some of the things he had been responsible for doing to her, her husband and brother-in-law. If any or all of the Lestranges ever had a chance at getting in spitting distance of Lucius Malfoy…well he'd wish he was lunch for Dementors.

Others like Minerva McGonagall and Poppy Pomfrey survived – barely – but others did not. Poor Remus Lupin had gone a bit crazy when Sirius had been killed, been captured by Aurors, found to be a member of the Order of the Phoenix and since he was already a known werewolf, he was put down.

Ginny, who had been expelled, and the Twins who were suspended for the year, were packed off to Charlie in Romania. There Ginny could get a wand and be home-schooled of sorts and the Twins got a job to earn money for their next year's tuition as although Arthur wasn't punished due to not knowing about the illegal contract, he was still a member of the Order and was very lucky not to lose his job. However he was demoted as much as possible and his salary was cut in half so he couldn't have afforded to send the Twins and Ron back to Hogwarts after their suspension was over.

But Arthur didn't need to worry about getting tuition for Ron as the idiot had gotten himself killed. Officially it was an accident but others called it "The worst case of suicide they ever saw." Now people who knew Ron Weasley would state that he would never, ever consider suicide, so they referred to it as death by stupidity. So how did he die? Somehow he spontaneously combusted and burnt to death while exploding.

The cause of this sudden and "tragic death" was opening mouth and inserting foot, then a leg then the other foot, leg and torso. After he had gotten out of St. Mungo's critical burn ward he had returned to the Burrow since he had been suspended. That suited him fine because he would have a nine month holiday from school. His Mum was in jail so she couldn't nag him so he could sleep late, read comic books and Quidditch books and listen to games on the wireless. He could fly his broom and eat to his heart's content, but only if somebody cooked for him.

Molly was the only person who knew how to cook. Ginny had been forced to take a few simple lessons but soon lost interest because she would be living at home until she married Harry and then house elves would be doing everything – like cooking – for her. Arthur could do a fry up in an emergency, but he worked all day. The Twins made attempts and then sandwiches. Cooking was much harder than it looked especially if you wanted the food to be edible. Then the Twins and Ginny had gone to Romania and that just left Ron as he wanted to "stay home for his Dad's sake" and he didn't want to get a part time job to earn his tuition money.

Even Ron could only live on sandwiches for only so long. His attempts at cooking were even worse than the Twins. Arthur made the mistake of giving Ron money to do the food shopping but Ron spent most of it on ready-made and junk foods and then he ate most of it himself. Every night when Arthur came home there were dishes in the sink, dirty laundry, newspapers scattered all over the place, dust, dirt and debris covered everything and there were cobwebs which would have made a giant Acromantula proud. Gnomes overran the garden, the chickens hadn't been fed and were running around loose and each day it seemed that Ron had accidentally broken something.

As soon as Arthur walked in Ron asked when dinner would be ready because he wanted his Dad to cook something and feed him. After two weeks Arthur had had it and laid down the law. Ron had to get a part time job or clean up the place otherwise NO FOOD. The only thing that had saved Ron from getting a job was because no one would hire him as his reputation proceeded him. The only way Ron knew to make money – besides spying on Harry Potter – was to give an interview and that was what caused his doom.

Even though Rita Skeeter was dead, the Prophet employed reporters almost as bad. Many things about what really went on at Hogwarts had come out in the trials but as Ron told Mindy Micklemuck, the new star reporter, he had inside information. He gave her a sample and just as long as a certain name wasn't mentioned, it could be implied and everyone would know who it really was. Juicy gossip, especially if it was vicious, always sold well so "interviews" became Ron's new part time job. He never told his Dad how much he was getting paid, he just gave him some money and since his Dad was desperate to get it (to use towards Ron's tuition) so he didn't ask questions. He also didn't want to read any of the interviews but he just didn't want to know what mischief Ron was up to.

It became a bi-weekly column "written by Ron Weasley" with the help of Mindy Micklemuck and it was actually rather popular due to some of the downright lies and imaginings of Ron Weasley. Neither Harry's nor Neville's names were even mention but "Loo Git" and "Dirt Boy" were easily recognizable as another form of Draco's nickname of "Potty" and Neville was famous for working with plants and thus soil but dirt was a very good insult all things considered.

Ron might have gotten away with trashing Harry and Neville but not some of the other persons he attacked. Due to the incarceration of so many fathers of Slytherin students as well as losing Snape's protection, all Slytherins were keeping a low profile and were fair game especially since they were at Hogwarts and Ron was not. So he constantly lambasted a certain house who had "always been green with envy" of Gryffindors and whose members "slithered away from doing their evil deeds when confronted by the real brave and noble Gryffindors" and not certain scum who waddled in dung (which was revealed as their favorite sweet). Ron provided the nastiness and Mindy the "witty writing" and they both benefitted.

Harry and Neville just ignored it all – for now as they had more important things to do - but Slytherins such as Draco swore revenge. Unfortunately they couldn't get any revenge with the Weasel hiding behind the good, strong wards his brother Bill erected around the Burrow. Like Harry and Neville they would bide their time. But it wasn't Harry or Neville or a Slytherin that went after Ron, it was someone much more dangerous – angry relatives defending a lady's honor.

Ron had never forgiven Fleur Delacour for ignoring him. Despite her being a filthy Veela half-breed he suspected that she was a closet lesbian as how else could she have resisted his manly charms and awesome "Ronness" like she did. Everybody knew Roger Davies was a pansy and probably a nancy boy which is why she went to the Yule Ball with him instead of a real wizard like Ron.

He had been unforgivably insulted when he went to help her out at the Yule Ball after Davies had been wimped out because he saw a little blood. It never occurred to Ron that Davies had wimped out not because of a little blood but because he realized he had accidentally killed a human being (or as close to a human being as Rita Skeeter could get) and was horrified at what he had actually done.

Nope in Ron's mind he was a wimp and Fleur was a bitch for still refusing to go out with him even when others had refused. They had probably refused because they had seen the wonderful and amazing Ron Weasley ask her and realized that they didn't have a chance since he was making his claim.

Then to make matters worse, the $%#*##&& had turned him into a pig! Him, Ronald Bilius Weasley, Pureblood extraordinaire whose family was the best and most important supporters of Albus Dumbledore. At least he had gotten to eat most of the desserts while the fight was going on. Then if she hadn't already insulted him, his family and by extension Dumbledore, beyond human endurance or decency (as Mindy said), when he tried to get a "little sugar" from the ungrateful slut, she turned into a monster and nearly roasted him alive.

So now Ron decided to get back at the %*#*&*#*# by writing his opinion about the "so-called French champion" and for inspiration he drew on his own vast vocabulary of "male talk" (or grossness) and added some of his Mum's view on the subject of Veelas and Frenchies. He (and his Mum) had so many opinions on the subject that it took two columns to get his opinion to the public. It also signed his death warrant.

Not that Ron would have cared even if he had known, but Veelas were very powerful entities, especially in France where the largest population in the world lived including the Veela Queen. They wielded great political power in most of Europe except for Britain so therefore in Ron's opinion (and his Mum's opinion) they didn't matter because only Britain's opinion was of any value and the rest were just "foreigners" who by rights should just bow down to Britain as led by Albus Dumbledore.

Since Ron (and his Mum) knew absolutely nothing about Veelas other than they were nasty, evil, sirens, naturally he felt entitled to say anything about them which popped into his empty head. So in the first article he did just that telling the world that…well basically the Veelas were all evil, nasty, dark creatures who just lived to lure innocent wizards astray. The more noble and powerful the wizard was – and especially if they were British wizards – the more determined the slutty pieces of %#**#*#*# were to seduce and ruin them going so far as to give them horrific sexual diseases which they had invented.

"But British wizards are made of sterner stuff – unless they are wimpy pansies like certain Ravenclaws I could but won't mention – and the majority of us ignore their disgusting attempts at sexually enslaving us."

He said a lot more not repeatable in a family newspaper but the Prophet printed it anyway if only because the editor-in-chief was home sick with wizard flu so nobody was paying much attention to what was printed. Anybody with a brain and/or any knowledge of the world political stage was horrified. Fudge fainted, Draco Malfoy laughed until he puked, Harry and Neville just shook their heads and Hermione Granger (who had carefully researched Veelas) planned what she would write on the sympathy card she would be sending Arthur after somebody got around to killing Ron.

Ron's column was printed on Tuesdays and Thursdays so since he was still alive on Wednesday, Bill Weasley hoped it would all blow over. Then Thursdays' paper came out with part two and Hermione wrote out that sympathy card and waited to mail it as soon as Ron's death was reported in the Prophet.

Bill's first inkling of disaster occurred when he showed up for work at Gringotts. That year he had transferred from Egypt to the Gringotts Britain branch to be closer to his family. He didn't subscribe to the Prophet because he thought it was nothing more than a scandal rag and because there was usually one to be found lying around after somebody finished with it. As he entered his office, his Goblin supervisor walked in carrying the newspaper which he handed to Bill and asked "No doubt you will want time off for the impending funeral?"

Bill glanced at the column then banged his head on the desk several times until the Goblin stopped him. He then floo called his Dad who had just finished reading the column but the man couldn't talk to anybody as he was in a state of shock.

The column was devoted to Ron's "adventures" with Fleur Delacour. Had no names been mentioned (to protect the guilty and prevent a lawsuit at the very least) and this "writing" had been a short story consigned to the fiction section of Playwizard, Ron might have survived. He might have had a very slim chance to escape, let things cool down a bit and then return home in a few years without serious bodily harm being done to him or his family. But his luck had finally ended because of all of the things he didn't know about Veelas but then he didn't know a lot about most things to begin with.

Besides being the Beauxbatons champion, Fleur Delacour was the eldest daughter and heir of Comte Rene Delacour, who in France held roughly the same amount of political power as the Malfoys did in Britain and had great wealth to back up that power. Fleur's Mother Apolline was the niece of Anais, Queen of the Veela Nation.

Many Hogwarts students had subscriptions to the Daily Prophet and since they were temporarily living in Britain several students from Beauxbatons and Darmstadt had ordered a subscription. Let us say that when a lady of Headmistress Maxime's size has a conniption, the floor shakes and when she shouts she is loud enough to give Molly Weasley a run for the money. Fleur was late coming to breakfast but when she showed up she was whisked away by her Headmistress to a side room. Shortly her screams and curses could be heard despite the door being shut but soon she came out of the room followed by Madame Maxime who was desperately trying to prevent the girl from changing into her Veela form. Fortunately Flitwick stunned the girl before the transformation could go further but the die had been cast and it was only a matter of time before her family found out about the insult and retaliated.

Saturday's Daily Prophet sadly announced the tragic (but not unexpected) death of their new columnist Ronald Weasley. No real details were given other than he had spontaneously combusted a very rare occurrence but "Such things do happen on occasion especially when rather large birds are seen in the area" as the Prophet reporter tactfully wrote.

Fleur had not been seen since Thursday morning but when she did appear everybody had the good sense not to talk to or even look in her direction.

Lord Falmouth and temporary Deputy Head Grabbleforth were trying to decide if a memorial service should be given to Weasley as although he was a Hogwarts student, he was currently under suspension and he had created an international incident which was still being handled by the Ministry. They didn't really want to because the boy had been such a…git, but he was a Pureblood and still a student so in the end a memorial service was announced but would be held in a private room in the school instead of the Great Hall. It would be held 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night and all were welcomed to attend.

Gryffindors showed up because McGonagall made them. "He was still a Gryffindor despite being the world's biggest idiot and how would it look if his House members didn't attend," she said. So whether they wanted to or not (and they didn't) all Gryffindors fourth years and above did attend the service.

It ended up being the only service he would be receiving as only ashes and bits of bones were left after he "spontaneously combusted" and they had been gathered up by Bill after the Aurors had found what was left. Arthur, Bill and Percy were the only immediate family present as Charlie "couldn't get time off," the Twins had their new jobs and Ginny wasn't allowed in Hogwarts. Besides they really couldn't afford the expense of an international portkey.

Other relatives like Great Aunt Muriel showed up as did some of Arthur's colleagues from work. Arthur was a truly nice and noble man and many people liked him but not most of his family, so the Weasleys never socialized outside their tight circle of "friends" or rather Dumbledore supporters. McGonagall had arranged for refreshments to be served so it wasn't considered a total loss of time and energy.

Molly had DEMANDED to be release from Azkaban so she could attend her baby's funeral. It was only right and just after all as she was his mother and he her son. Dumbledore even demanded to go with her because he had considered the boy "the grandson that I never had" but he definitely wasn't going anywhere for the next five years any more than Molly.

Naturally she blamed Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom for Ron's death and when Bill and Percy came to visit their Mother the next month she ordered them to file a lawsuit against Potter and Longbottom for wrongful death. "You owe it to your brother and your family," she told them. "It is all their fault and they should be forced to pay us compensation."

Dumbledore agreed saying that if Harry hadn't "rebelled" and nearly destroyed the world, Ron would still be alive and he, the Twins and Ginny would still be receiving their rightful Hogwarts education. He tried to give the younger wizards excellent reasons and pointers on how to go about filing and then winning the suit but they both blew him and their Mother off by leaving early and not coming back to visit for three months.

McGonagall had arranged everything but she had one thing left to do. She asked Filius if he would inform Harry and Neville about the memorial and ask them to attend.

"Are you out of your mind Minnie?" Filius had asked.

"Probably, but I still have to try. They were and still are Gryffindors and a show of support just might be the very thing needed to…heal old wounds."

"You are grasping at straws" he told his colleague. "If it was any other person besides Ron Weasley, one or both boys might attend. But…not Ron Weasley and no wounds, young or old, will ever be healed as they run too deep. You are wasting all our time."

"Please try so at least I can say that I tried," she pleaded looking into his eyes with desperation.

So he did what she asked, very politely asked both boys to attend for "old time's sake if nothing else" and as expected was told that "The old hag should know better than to ask yet she has. Just goes to show how stupid the average Gryff is. I don't know what she is playing at but it won't work. I think I speak for both Neville and myself when I say that ALL Gryffindors are dead to us. Tell hag granny that is the opinion of 'Loo Git' and 'Dirt Boy' if she asks for a reason."

Minerva had been terribly disappointed but not surprised. She was doing this not for Gryffindor House or even some mad plan Dumbledore would have played at had he been here, she had done it for Arthur's sake because she knew he really liked Harry for the boy he was…or had been before he found his freedom and a chance at a new life. If Harry showed up (no one would have cared if Neville did) Arthur would have some small joy in his ruined life and others, such as Hermione and Minnie herself, would have hope that perhaps not all was permanently destroyed.

But it was and would continue to be because some things even a saint can't forgive and Harry had been raised to be a martyr not a saint.

The next thing anyone knew the second task arrived. Harry had been tipped off as to what the second task would entail namely that which he would miss the most would be trapped down in the middle of the Black Lake and he and the others would have one hour to rescue that precious thing. The "thing" would be a person, so Neville, Luna, Su Li and not that anybody supposedly knew but even Millie Bulstrode had gone into hiding just in case. At the last minute Harry got paranoid and sent Dobby to get Hedwig. The elf had been just in time to rescue the owl from Ludo Bagman's clutches as Hagrid was turning her over to Bagman. Dobby told Bagman and Hagrid that they were both very bad men and popped away with Hedwig. Then Dobby was ordered to stay in the room "just in case" until it was time for Harry to compete.

The Champions all entered the lake, which was freezing, and began the task. While fighting his way towards the lake's center Harry saw that Fleur had to retreat as water was an enemy to Veela magic and the lake's inhabitants were attacking her. She managed to escape but just barely but she had to leave the lake due to her wounds.

Harry reached the center. Hermione was there and he saw Victor Krum making his way towards her. Cho Chang was there awaiting Cedric to rescue her and there was a very young girl who due to the family resemblance had to be a relative of Fleur. He vaguely remembered that Fleur had a younger sister and now would the girl be rescued or allowed to drown? He wouldn't put it pass the Ministry to "forget about" the person if only to teach the loser a lesson or something. It reeked of something Dumbledore would have done.

The only other person left was…Narcissa. He sighed, rescued her and then, because he was Harry Potter, he rescued Fleur's sister. He had to not only fight his way up to the surface with two hostages but fight off the vicious mermen who were attacking him. It was rough going but he made it out in time with two hostages. That bitch Fleur didn't even bother thanking him for rescuing her sister, in fact she pushed him out of her way to get to her sister and he fell back into the water.

The next day Harry received a special delivery letter from Comte Rene Delacour thanking him for rescuing his daughter and apologizing for Fleur's outrageous behavior and rudeness. The excuse given was that despite knowing better she still associated Harry with the despicable Ron Weasley and thus would never forgive him for his former friend's insults to her and the Veela Nation. Harry didn't bother reading the rest of the letter as it was typical behavior of most Magicals he had meet whether they were British or French. At least Victor Krum seemed a decent guy.

The rest of the year went quickly and it was time for the third and last task. All the Champions were in the maze and it was Harry who found an Imperiused Krum attacking Fleur. Once again "Harry the hero" as he angrily called himself, knocked Krum out, rescued Fleur and after checking Krum over, saw he had been cursed and made a decision. He was done, finished, this was the last straw. It was over.

He had seen Cedric take advantage of the situation and left Harry to do the rescuing. If he was that desperate to win "fame and glory" then let him win. Harry had spent more than enough time in the maze to meet the requirements of the Tournament and he sent up the surrender/help needed flare. When the Aurors portkeyed in to rescue them, Harry went with them. He had to make a report about Victor and when the Aurors demanded that he stay and complete the task he told them that he had been wounded and was going back. He had been wounded…in his soul.

There was great disappointment when three of the four Champions left the maze. However that soon turned into shouts of joy as it meant that Cedric was still in the maze and he had won. HOGWARTS AND HUFFLEPUFF HAD WON!

Hufflepuff was delirious with joy as THE REAL HOGWARTS CHAMPION had triumphed. It just proved that "cheaters never prosper" and now the Puffs and the rest of the school could continue to taunt, abuse and insult that miserable lying, cheating, arrogant son of a Mudblood whore Harry Potter despite all of the lordships, wealth and power he had.

NOTHING HAD CHANGED. Despite being vindicated time and again, the fall of Dumbledore and the reasons for it and EVERYTHING, Harry Potter was still despised for no other reason than it had been the plan of Albus Dumbledore and others all along.

Once it was determined that Cedric would win the Puffs and others such as Draco Malfoy and many Slytherins and most of Gryffindor (no surprise there) immediately and publically turned on Harry had yelled out boos, hisses, catcalls from the stands. Some fools even tried leaving the stands to physically get in Harry's face but were stopped by Aurors.

Ludo Bagman simply ran for his life as since Potter had lost he owed the Goblins more than he could ever hope to repay. Harry tried to make his report to Fudge and other authorities but he couldn't be heard over the noise and Fudge had lost interest in Harry Potter and was busy congratulating Amos Diggory on his son's win. It was a hard fight but eventually Harry found and got to talk to Amelia Bones and told her what had happened.

Victor was checked and yes he had been Imperiused but definitely not by Harry (who knew he'd probably be blamed for it anyway) and even Fleur had told Amelia that it was Krum who had hurt her. As soon as he could, Harry left the field and went back to his quarters.

He told his friends and allies exactly what had happened and even Narcissa commiserated with him. Of course she had to ask Harry the question everyone wanted to ask but wouldn't "Why did you give up? You could have won!"

"Because I didn't want to. I didn't ask to be in the Tournament but was forced into it anyway probably because someone wanted me in danger, mortal peril, to test me' or just plain dead. If I won, I would have still been accused of cheating especially with Krum and Fleur out of the contest. You heard what went on when the three of us came out of the maze. Then mere moments after they knew 'the real Hogwarts Champion won' they lashed into me."

"From now until the day I leave Hogwarts forever and even after it, all of this fiasco will be thrown back at me, despite my innocence and all that has happened. I will always be a pariah at this school even with Dumbledore gone. Nothing has changed and it won't" he said again.

"Narcissa you were here when Flitwick came to beg on McG's behalf that Neville and I attend Ron's memorial and he was forced to cite 'all of the reasons for doing so' and now tell me if you can Narcissa dear, why were Neville and I given such an insult and practically ordered to attend and after all that has happened to us at the hands of ALL Weasleys but most especially Ron it was expected that we would show up to 'honor' that piece of %Y#*&#*&^#. Come on Narcissa answer me."

She couldn't and simply stood there in front of him biting her lip trying to think of something but failing. But Harry wasn't finished yet.

"I need you to do something for me Narcissa and as your Lord several times over, I am ordering you to do it or suffer the consequences. Your dear, 'properly raised' son was jumping up and down in the stands and had even used a sonorous charm to amplify his voice to throw his latest bit of abuse and insults at me. He even called me Loo Git as it is now a popular name to hurl at me. Knowing my Malfoys as well as I do from…experience…there is no doubt in mine or probably anybody else's mind that his main purpose in life, at least for a while, will be to taunt me, insult me, etc. even more than usual for 'being a loser.' He will also rally his 'forces' to further attack me, won't he?"

Narcissa kept silent because she feared what he was going to say next.

"Tell your baby boy that if he DARES to say one thing to me JUST ONE THING to my face or even behind my back, then he is finished. I will dissolve your marriage to Lucius, reclaim your dowry and property rights and claim both you and especially Draco as my personal chattel. I will take away the Malfoy inheritance from him as Lucius would have to blood adopt him to make him his heir – since Drakey-poo if the only heir he will ever have being in Azkaban – but as his overlord I will forbid Draco to be adopted BY ANYBODY EVER and most especially by Lucius."

Harry paused to take a breath because despite his best efforts he was losing it fast.

"Tell that to Draco soon-to-be No Name and make certain he knows the consequences and believes them even if you have to drag him into Gringotts to chat with Ragnok. He also can't ask or order any ally, vassal or friend to do it for him because…hee, hee, hee, without the Malfoy name and wealth he doesn't have any allies, vassals and most decidedly a friend, does he now?"

Narcissa had to admit that he didn't. He had never learned how to make a friend as Lucius always told him that friends weren't really important, only wealth, power, name and blood were. She also knew that Draco would never believe Harry would do such a thing because no one dared to cross a Malfoy and did so at their mortal peril. The fact that his Father was rotting in Azkaban hadn't scared him it had merely angered him as he knew that soon his Father would get out of this predicament and the Malfoys would be even more powerful than before.

Where he got this idea despite all the evidence to the contrary she didn't know but she also knew that he believed it possible so therefore it would happen. Now she had to save her son even if she had to Imperius him to do so. Motherhood was so hard.

Chapter 7 – The Fun Begins

Harry had been correct about all things. The only reason he was returning to Hogwarts for his fifth year was because he had to take his OWLS so that he could then leave Hogwarts and be privately tutored. Although he could take his NEWTS at the Ministry he'd probably would do that because he didn't need NEWTS to get a job being as wealthy and powerful as he was. He studied Magic for his own purposes, thirst for knowledge and personal enrichment. It was the same for Neville who would also be leaving Hogwarts once he got his OWLS.

Hermione Granger had been so desperate to make amends with Harry as she, like so many other Muggleborns, needed a protector and Harry was her only hope. She had thought things had been bad during fourth year but the end proved her wrong as, it was said, Voldemort had resurrected himself from the dead and there was going to be another war.

As a Muggleborn she was most at risk but she had to return to Hogwarts to take her OWLS before she could flee Britain or else have her magic bound and her wand snapped. This was all due to the various laws which Dumbledore had passed not to protect Muggleborns like he always inferred but to keep them under his control as Headmaster of Hogwarts.

For the past nine months the Wizengamot was hard at work reviewing ALL laws which had been introduced, supported and passed by Dumbledore to right the many wrongs he had done throughout his career, but despite the danger, laws concerning education were far down on the list so Hermione and others were in a difficult and dangerous position. Since so many Muggleborns went to Gryffindor and Harry had "disowned" his former House, he was still Hermione's and others only hope for protection.

Her parents were making arrangements to sell their house and practice and move out of the country. They and other parents of Muggleborns had been advised by Amelia Bones to move from their current address while selling up for further protection because as Muggles they were not entitled to the protection of wards, the use of portkeys or even to have floo service to escape. Besides the Death Eaters always used anti-portkey, anti-floo and anti-apparation wards when they attacked a target so only by hiding would the Muggles have a chance to survive.

The fact that Voldemort was back had only been revealed by accident. When Harry and the other three champions left the maze Cedric had won. All he had had to do was to find the Cup and bring it back to the Tournament Judges to be declared the official winner and get all of that fame and glory he had sought. Of course he still had to get passed the traps to get to the Cup which explained why it was taking him so long to get back to the stands.

However, after an hour had passed Amos Diggory started worrying and asked the Judges if an Auror could look for his son just in case he had been caught in a trap and was helpless in the maze. Since Fudge was having such a good time eating, drinking, smooching and buttering up potential campaign contributors and foreign dignitaries he merrily told Amos "Don't worry, I'm sure everything is fine and Cedric will be along any moment now."

Then another hour passed and Fudge was out voted. Something was wrong and Aurors were sent into the maze to look for the boy. He was missing. An Auror flew to the middle of the maze and cast a few spells only to find out that a portkey, mostly likely the Cup itself, had been activated to parts unknown. That wasn't supposed to happen. Fudge was at a loss but fortunately Amelia Bones was on hand and she asked Amos Diggory, "Does Cedric have an elf of his own, one who can always find him like a nanny elf?"

"Mibbles is our main house elf and she could always find him anywhere."

"Then I think you should summon Mibbles, explain the situation and see if she can locate him."

The elf was called, briefed on the situation and popped out away from the stands. Ten minutes later a very hysterical elf returned carrying the bloody, broken body of her young master. The boy was barely alive and it was clear he had been left for dead. Fortunately the Chief Healer of St. Mungo's was on hand and Cedric was saved but just barely. It would be three painful, angst-filled days before the boy regained consciousness and could tell some of what happened to him.

Amelia had told him to "just skip to the basics and tell us who did this to you."

The boy said "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named used my blood…the blood of an enemy…in a ritual to resurrect himself. It was supposed to be…Potter…and that's why his name was entered in the Tournament – oh please tell Harry I am sorry that I didn't believe him but…even Dumbledore said he lied and cheated and deserved whatever abuse we gave him…encouraged it. I'm sorry, so sorry" he gasped out with the last of his strength.

And with that said he passed out again for another day. He'd tell more when he woke up but it gave Amelia Bones all she needed to know and had feared since the night of the Tournament. After Cedric was seen to, she had the elf show her and some Aurors to the place where she found Cedric. Although a clean-up of evidence had been done, it was apparently done in haste and that was probably the only reason that Cedric had survived. He had been badly tortured for "fun" but someone or something had interrupted that fun and those who harmed him probably thought he was dead or on the verge of it so hadn't killed him.

Amelia went to Azkaban to check to see if the dark marks on the arms of the Death Eaters had darkened. She had her answer before she could ask it as Bellatrix Lestrange and a few others were happily shouting the news that "Our Lord is back. He is back just as he promised and He will lead us to final victory." The arms were checked anyway.

Amelia couldn't decide what was worse: the joy of those insane, evil excuses for human beings shouting out the good tidings and screaming about what tortures they were going to do when their Lord rescued them or the smug face and pronouncements of Albus %*#*&%*##* Dumbledore. She decided it was the latter.

To get to the lower levels she had to go passed the level one cells. Apparently Dumbledore had found out about the dark marks returning and had bullied one of the Aurors into getting Amelia to speak to him as he had very important information. Long story short, he told her "I warned that Voldemort would be back and be back soon and I was correct wasn't I?" He didn't give her time to reply but quickly said, "And as I mentioned at one of those ridiculous trials ONLY I KNOW HOW TO DEFEAT HIM so unless you release me and let me help you, THIS TIME HE WILL WIN."

He glazed at her with a smug look on his face as if expecting her to order his release that very moment. However the smug smirk was soon wiped off his face when she looked at him and told him "In your dreams you miserable old %*##*^%#&^#&. You created Voldie for your own reasons to gain further glory, he got out of hand, mostly because of YOUR INEPT LEADERSHIP AND SABOTAGING OF THE MINISTRY'S EFFORTS TO CATCH HIM AND HIS FIENDS, BUT THIS TIME WE'LL WIN BECAUSE YOU ARE STAYING WHERE YOU ARE."

"You are condemning British children to a fate worse than death," he said directing his best look of grandfatherly disappointment at her, "your own niece, the last of your family and all you have left in the world will probably die – or worst - because of your stubborn indifference. Remember your brother Edgar who fought valiantly at my side…."

"ZZZZAAAAPPPP" was the sound the hex made as it hit the old wizard and "AAAIIILLEEE" was the sound of his scream when it connected with his ancient body but who cared because that %*&*#&*#& had said the very worst thing he possibly could in his attempt to get her cooperation.

Yes she remembered her wonderful brother Edgar. He was the ultimate Hufflepuff, loyal and hardworking but his wife, who was from a family of ardent Dumbledore supporters, had convinced her husband to join the Order of the Phoenix and fight Dumbledore's way as it was a noble and compassionate organization just like its founder. Dumbledore only wanted to help Death Eaters to see the errors of their ways and it was his view that if they were shown mercy and put on the path of the Light as defined by Albus Dumbledore, "they would be saved."

Dumbledore had even "convinced" the Minister of Magic and other important members of the Ministry to not allow the Aurors to use "dangerous spells" because a Death Eater might be badly hurt or even killed so how could they be reformed and saved if they were dead? For some insane reason it became Ministry policy that the Aurors only use stunners and spells and charms which even Hogwarts students knew in in life and death circumstances while the Death Eaters did their best to hurt, injure, maim, torture and then KILL Aurors and civilians. It was an absolutely, positively ridiculous way to conduct a war and resulted in many people being hurt, maim, driven insane due to torture and killed.

Edgar had been one of them. His life had been needlessly sacrificed because he had joined the Order and used stunners and jinxes against the full Death Eater arsenal of hellish magic. Then because he was a known Order member his family had been killed to teach lessons to blood traitors. Then their brother Henry and his wife's location had mysteriously been leaked and they were killed. Susan had only survived because a house elf had managed to whisk her away.

At their funeral Dumbledore had had the nerve to once again try to get Amelia to join his Order to avenge her family. "Think of your niece Susan and join the Order to protect her." Amelia had, which is why she cursed Dumbledore at the cemetery yelling for all to hear "It's your fault they died because Edgar joined your useless Order and somebody leaked Henry's location. Only Henry, Edgar and me knew where they were and I didn't tell anybody and neither did Henry. You made Edgar tell you didn't you? What did you do – promise him you'd protect Henry if he told you where he lived? Just like you 'protected' Edgar's family?"

"Now Amelia your grief has made you irrational so why don't you come with me back to Hogwarts and we can discuss this further. I'm like to offer my help to you and since there is only you left of Clan Bones and you work in such a dangerous occupation, I'd like to become Susan's guardian just in case anything…."

"Why so you can control her, use her vote in the Wizengamot, marry her off to one of your poor scumbag followers for her fortune. Never! You are the reason we are losing this war. And Susan already has several potential guardians."

Amelia hadn't been able to prove that Dumbledore had leaked the location of Henry's home until his last trial. He claimed that there were traitors in the Order and they were the ones who sold out poor Henry and his family. That was why he wanted to be Susan's guardian just in case something happened to Amelia because he felt he might have contributed to her parents' death and wanted to "make amends." He had been unable to name the traitors due to some oaths he took but they were dead so couldn't be punished.

She had demanded that he swear on his life and magic that he was telling the truth but he had replied that he never swore on that because everyone knew he was an honest, noble and incorruptible wizard who had dedicated his life, etc. and therefore his word was good enough. She stated it wasn't especially considering the things he had been caught doing, but he refused to swear. That was what had "gotten him" in the end.

The Head Judge demanded that he swear on everything otherwise it would mean he was guilty "No one trusts you any more so swear or be convicted." Dumbledore continued to be outraged and refused to swear on his life and magic even after told that if he didn't he would be judged guilty – it was that simple.

"You are so guilty you can't even swear to whether you have told the absolute truth on anything," she had spat out at him. "You can't swear because you would lose your magic and your life." And he couldn't, so he was finally convicted. Considering all of his many crimes and the atrocities Amelia knew he had committed but couldn't prove without his swearing, he was given a very lenient sentence. The miserable bastard would probably survive the five years then get out and start everything all over again.

Now with Voldemort really back, he thought he could con them all into releasing him because he said so. He was staring her in the eye fully expecting his freedom and the return of all of his positions because of the bull he was spouting out. But that was Albus Dumbledore, master manipulator and an unabashed and unrepentant nasty old man who just couldn't give up no matter if the world would burn under his command. As long as he got to accomplish HIS goals and run the world as HE SAW FIT that was all that mattered. He didn't care who was hurt or if an ancient culture was destroyed or religious rituals were outlawed, knowledge was lost or Magic dumbed down, if Albus Dumbledore deemed it so, it would be done and to hell with everyone else.

After she had cursed him she left as she had to watch what she said as the walls had ears. She had to go back and brief the sensible people as to the situation. She also put Azkaban under lockdown hoping beyond hope that Dumbledore wouldn't be able to get a message out to have his minions stir up the masses and spread panic and the lie that only Dumbledore could save them from Voldemort. There were enough fools who would believe it and demand that he be released.

But that wouldn't happen as the witch would have him killed first before she would allow that to happen. Even if it cost her life the sacrifice would be worth it to save their world from the likes of Dumbledore.

When she got back she called an emergency meeting of the Wizengamot and Ministry. She also had Harry and his advisors come to the Ministry despite the danger as he was a Lord with several votes. He also needed to know what had happen and to prepare for the panic, accusations and everything else that would be happening when the news broke. He wouldn't be going home on the Hogwarts Express and neither would Neville. Neville would have to stay to take his exams and then leave for the safety of Harry's fortified home.

She was also going to ask him if he would consider letting Susan live with him this summer for her protection since Amelia would not only be incredibly busy but her life would be at risk almost as much as Harry and Neville. Even though she had helped and supported Harry in everything it was still a lot to ask considering the way Susan had treated him and like Cedric, despite everything that had been revealed Susan held Harry Potter in contempt and probably would continue to do so.

As expected Fudge panicked as did certain members of the Wizengamot. A few of the fools were saying that Dumbledore should be released but they were quickly shot down, especially when Amelia stated, "So he can 'defeat You-Know-Who' like he did so well and so quickly in the last war? Surely you remember how well that went and how many lives were lost both Auror and civilian because our Aurors could only use stunners against Unforgiveables."

Wilfred Whitcomb was a wishy-washy, cowardly excuse for a man who always voted for the most popular opinion. He usually voted for anything Dumbledore wanted passed only because it was Dumbledore demanding it. He could be swayed if enough pressure was put on him or someone like Malfoy threatened him. Despite being useless every so often he spoke up during a session if only to remind people he was still alive and now was going to be one of the moments.

"Dumbledore was the only wizard You-Know-Who ever feared. Perhaps we should let Albus free but not give him any positions of power and just use him as a…consultant I think the word is. He could be our figurehead, a symbol of hope."

"Don't be ridiculous" another member said, "Albus would never settle into such a position and within a week he would be back in power and abusing us all worse than before."

"Let me make this perfectly clear to everybody," Amelia said. "Albus Dumbledore has been convicted and is serving a very light sentence in Azkaban considering his crimes. He is in for five years and . . . . He will not be anything but a prisoner."

"Well he did save us the last time."

"No he didn't" another member stated. "It was a 15 month old baby who 'saved us' from You-Know-Who the last time. Even a fool like you should remember that."

"Well he didn't do it right when he should have and now You-Know-Who is back so we need Dumbledore."

A loud noise was heard in the chamber. That noise was Harry Lord Seven quickly getting up from his seat and then making his way over to where Whitcomb was sitting. The "boy" as he was still being called walked up to Whitcomb and looked him right in the eye his killing curse green eyes boring into his mud brown eyes.

"What did you just say?" the boy hissed out.

"I said…I said that baby should have done it right the first time."

It was now so silent you could hear the proverbial pin drop.

"For your information you old, pathetic fool, I was that 'incompetent baby' don't you recognize the scar" he said moving his bangs to reveal it to the old doddering man who was now shaking in his shoes.

"Oh yes, the great Albus Dumbledore told the world that Voldie was defeated by a 15 month old baby and you all believed it. But how did he know when it is a matter of record that Albus Dumbledore wasn't anywhere near Godric's Hallow until November 10th when he allowed the Ministry to dedicate the house as a national shrine. In fact, the only people who knew what happened were James Potter, who was killed by the killing curse, Lily Evans Potter, who suffered the same fate, Voldie and me, the incompetent baby."

"So how did Dumbles know what happened if he wasn't there? It was only found out this past year that after the deaths, Severus Snape arrived too late to save Lily's life. He admitted he heard me crying for my Mum but totally ignored me because he was too busy crying over Lily's body. He then left by apparation when he heard Hagrid arriving to collect me. At the same time Hagrid arrived so did Sirius Black. It was Sirius who fetched me out of the house and took me down to Hagrid who was under orders of Dumbledore to take me to Dumbledore. Black ran off to get revenge against Peter Pettigrew who had betrayed us instead of doing his duty to me, his godson. He ended up in Azkaban for 12 years after being framed. Hagrid took me to Dumbledore who illegally placed me in an abusive household."

"Yes, we all know the 'sad story' of your purported abuse," another member said nastily. He was a Death Eater who had always worn his mask and thus had not been caught.

"I am telling my 'sad story' for a reason. Dumbledore wasn't there, so how could he know what happened. He just called a full assembly of the Wizengamot and told you what happened and you believed it without question because he said so. It is a matter of record that when he finally allowed Aurors to enter the premises – two days later – to recover my parents' bodies for burial, they were not allowed to do any tests for spells. Therefore none were done so how did anyone know what really happened?"

"Shut up and sit down boy you are wasting our time," the Death Eater said. He wanted to vote to get Dumbledore back because he knew that Dumbledore would do the same thing as before and his Lord could easily win this time as Dumbledore would be too busy getting revenge on those who brought him down. They were also the only people who could stand up to his Lord and once they were gone, the Ministry would fall faster than Dumbledore could offer a lemon drop.

However, by that time Harry had turned his attention to the member, went over to him and simply laid his hand on the man's left arm. He then hissed out some snake-like sounds and the man screamed in pain.

"What did you do to him you Half-blood bastard" another member shouted.

Harry answered by ripping the sleeve off the man's robes revealing the dark mark. "I'm using my evil parseltongue to expose one of Voldie's secret followers. And before you say anything I did not just give him a mark as my wand is in my pocket and the Auror-at-arms can confirm it."

"Now to get back to what I was saying, you only have Dumbledore's word for what happened that night and we all know – or at least should know now – just how little that is worth. As the only living witness to the events, when I was being healed before I could claim my Lordships, an Unspeakable did a regression spell on me. Simply put, it allowed him to enter my mind and look back on those events so now we – the chosen few – know what actually happened."

"So what happened," Whitcomb asked.

"None of your business as it is information which is under the need-to-know basis rule. In other words, it is top secret and none of you will be told as most of you can't be trusted. Since we know what happened that night, we know how Voldie was defeated the first time and it can be done again – but not if Dumbledore is allowed back in power. That %*##*&*#* would have dragged things out if I hadn't been freed and if I had been used to resurrect Voldie. Dumbles has to build up the tension, get people frightened so he can calm them, allow and even arrange for deaths to occur so that he can win people over and make them dependent on him. He did all that and more in the last war."

While Harry talked an Auror had gone to cuff the Death Eater, but once that was done the Auror got a bit careless because he started listening to Harry's tale of what had really happened. The Death Eater knew he was doomed having been exposed by the miserable little bastard and he would be questioned with Veritaserum then sent immediately to Azkaban. However he could do one more service for his Dark Lord. While the Auror was distracted, the Death Eater managed to get his extra wand out of its holster and yelled, "Shut up you Half-blood bastard – Avada Kedavra" and he made a direct hit on Harry Potter.

The Death Eater was roughly subdued but he had just made a name for himself and didn't care. However, mere seconds after his cast the curse, the man fell down stone cold dead.

Potter had hit the floor with a bang and panic reined. Amelia took charge while Harry's solicitor ran over to his client. Tears fell from the man's eyes as he had just seen the promising, noble, heroic hope for the future be so cruelly cut down. As he cradled the boy in his arms his tears fell onto the boy's face. Suddenly, like something out of a novel the boy's eyes snapped open causing the solicitor to let out a shriek of surprise. The boy looked up at the man, shook his head a bit as if to clear it and then smiled up at the man and said "You can't kill me."

Not all of the details of that Wizengamot session would be revealed to the public and many things needed to be said and done as soon as possible. A unanimous vote was taken to NOT LET DUMBLEDORE OUT OR HAVE HIM 'ADVISE' ANYBODY ON ANYTHING. Things were decided and began to be carried out. Except for the three wizards who had to be hospitalized for shock and one mild heart attack, everyone went back home or off to do their assignments.

However, although people were told "not to spread rumors" the next morning's edition of the Daily Prophet printed the amazing news that once again Harry Potter survived the killing curse and apparently it bounced back onto the Death Eater who cast it on him just like it had done to You-Know-Who. It was neither confirmed nor denied by the Ministry and naturally Harry was unavailable to give a statement, not even to Xeno Lovegood.

Harry had gone straight to his new home/fortress. Neville took his exams and then immediately left to join him. Su Li and Luna Lovegood had been invited to stay the summer as well as their "spy in Slytherin" and fellow outcast, Millicent Bulstrode. But Millie declined as she was still spying on her fellow Slytherins. She was issued an emergency portkey "just in case" and she could also call one of Harry's many house elves to come to her rescue if need be.

Susan Bones went unwillingly to a safe house after refusing to have anything to do with Harry-the-lying-cheater-Potter even if it meant she'd die. She was especially furious when Hannah wasn't allowed to come with her. The Abbotts had made other arrangements which had not included Susan, but Susan didn't believe her Aunt until Hannah had been allowed to send her a letter saying "Sorry but that's life and my parents are mad at your Aunt so you have to suffer."

Harry was living in Castle Black the main ancestral home of the Blacks where Arcturus Lord Black had spent his last days. It had ancient wards out the wazoo as well as a few more added recently for extra safety and security. NOBODY could get in the Castle unless Harry wanted them there. Even if someone had found Millicent's portkey and tried using her to get them in, the portkey was so designed that she (and her cat) would get through but not anybody else.

Despite Narcissa's desperate pleas, an interview with Ragnok himself, Harry's most vicious solicitor and Dobby his former house elf slapping him silly, Draco Malfoy had decided to channel his inner Ron Weasley and do the most stupid thing he could possibly do. He badmouthed Harry Potter not only at Hogwarts but he summoned Mindy Micklemuck and gave her an exclusive interview regarding what he thought about that %*#&#*&%*#*#** *#*( (*(& & who was impersonating a Lord of an Ancient and Noble House and the others "he has been lying about having."

Narcissa had fainted dead away when she read the article. Draco had been beaming so much as he sat in the Great Hall watching other people read his comments that as one "wit" opined "his face would light up a room in the dungeons."

Draco's interview took up an entire page in the paper. Granted it was on page five but the fact that it was printed in its entirety (Draco had written it himself) and that the world would get to share his thoughts served to swell the boy's ego even bigger than it already was.

At one point Draco had been considering taking his Mother's advice because Blaize Zabini (one of the few "friends" who Draco actually liked and admired…a bit) had told him in no uncertain terms that he would be dumber than a Weasley if he went against a Lord with Potter's power. But then Draco received "the sign" he had been waiting for. The Dark Lord had come back and now the world would once again be "set right" and the Malfoys would once again sit at the right hand of the Dark Lord.

Naturally the first thing the Dark Lord would do would be to get Lucius out of Azkaban as well as all of the other Death Eaters. Lucius Malfoy was his right hand wizard and the most important and powerful member of his Inner Circle. Lucius used to brag that the Dark Lord couldn't do without him. By then Draco would have made his escape and would join his father. Maybe Draco would be rewarded with the dark mark even though he wasn't of age yet.

Then Potter would be captured and horribly torture by the Dark Lord but also by Draco. Hopefully Draco would be allowed (due to his high status) to torture Potter for months or even years before the Dark Lord got around to finally killing him. Draco would prefer to do it himself but his Father had always told him "Potter is the Dark Lord's and no one else" so Draco would just have to content himself with doing all that terrible torture on his worst enemy.

Draco waited for his housemates and the rest of the school to finish reading his article. He prepared himself for the onslaught of congratulations he would receive for his brave stand. No doubt many would want to join him and offer to become his vassal so that he could introduce them to and sponsor them when he joined the Dark Lord.

However instead of being mobbed with congratulations he was being ignored. No doubt this was probably due to people just being cautious since Potter was lurking around the school somewhere. Of course Draco KNEW he was HIDING and shaking in his boots now that the Dark Lord was back. Potter knew he was doomed and who knows, he might come crawling to Draco and beg him to intercede for him and use his influence to get a quick and painless death. But Draco wouldn't. He would tell Potter about what was going to happen to him and by Draco's hand.

Blaize wasn't speaking to him and went out of his way to ignore him until after the last class of the day when they returned to the common room before dinner. "What the hell were you thinking?" Blaize asked.

"I was thinking like a Malfoy," Draco bragged. "Potter is probably off somewhere shaking…"

"His head in disbelief and/or disgust," his friend finished for him. "Do you realize what you did?"

"Of course, I've beaten Potter, have him on the run and…."

"No you dork, you've screwed your entire life up or at least what's left of it. Potter is the Lord of your Mother's House hence your Lord also."

"The only House I owe allegiance too is House Malfoy – which I am the heir to. I recognize no other higher house or Lord – except maybe for the Dark Lord – and I have nothing to fear," he stated proudly.

"Whether you recognize it or not the fact remains that as your Mother's son, you are a vassal of House Black and thus under Potter's control. You are his vassal you twit!"

"No I am not and never will be," Draco whined.

An argument began but ceased when Draco felt a sharp pain, mostly in his torso but it slowly spread to other places.

"Is something wrong," Blaize asked. "Are you sick?"

"It's nothing probably just indigestion," came the reply but Draco was trying to put on a brave face as the pain continued. "Now where were we?"

"You were saying that Potter doesn't have the balls to do anything to you and how he fears you and the House of Malfoy and…."

Draco passed out ending the conversation.

When Draco woke, he was in the Infirmary and his Mother sat at his bedside. She was crying but he was glad. She had probably been inspired by his article and finally come to her senses and was now crying because she realized what a frightened fool she had been. No doubt she would beg him to take her back and intercede with Lucius – and the Dark Lord – on her behalf as she knew that when Potter fell, she'd be brought down with him. Well he wasn't ready to forgive her yet – if ever – so he'd let his Father decide her fate.

She finally noticed he was awake and instead of begging or groveling she yelled "You stupid, arrogant puppy. I warned you, Ragnok warned you – even Blaize Zabini warned you. But what do you do? The absolutely worst thing possible and now you will suffer dearly for it, probably for the rest of your life."

"What are you talking about woman," Draco said snottily.

Narcissa quickly dried her tears and then actually glared at her son. "That intense pain you have been feeling, do you know what it is?"


"No. Lord Seven kept his promise. He dissolved my marriage to your Father, called back my dowry and property and claimed me and you as his chattel because YOU PUBLICALLY INSULTED HIM AND THUS THE HOUSE OF BLACK. As promised, you are no longer the Malfoy heir but the CHATTEL of House Black. Lucius or anybody else can't adopt you because LORD BLACK has decreed it so. I am now Narcissa Lyra Black and you are Draco No Name. You've even lost your middle name as it is the first name of your former Father."

"No I haven't!"

" .HAVE. Not only have you disgraced yourself but you have dragged me into the mess you have created and…."

"Father and the Dark Lord will save us – or rather me since I've already told you that I'm done with you."

"Lucius is in Azkaban."

"The Dark Lord will soon get him out and then rescue me."

"No he won't."

"Yes he will."

" .won't."

" .WILL."

"No he won't as Lord Seven has sent a letter to the Dark Lord and they have made a deal."

" .haven't."

"Yes they have."

"No they haven't because the Dark Lord wants to kill Potter. Therefore, if any deal was made it was because the Dark Lord is treating Potter like the fool he is and is luring him to his death."

"No he isn't."

"Will you stop it you 'dunderhead' – you never did understand politics."

"Oh I understand politics very well and much better than you. I told Lucius he should start training you early instead of letting you just rely on his name and his power. But did he listen to me? No and now you are suffering for it."

Draco was getting annoyed. His Father had always told him that women didn't understand politics because – they were women and didn't have the brains, talent or finesse for it. Now here was his Mother PROVING just how right his Father had been (as usual).

Since she couldn't help it – being a stupid woman – since she was his Mother he would try to explain it to her, slowly and carefully so she would have a chance to understand at least some of it.

So he did but first he told her what he was going to do and exactly why he was going to do it. He then began to talk very slowly to her as one would talk to a young child, a Weasley or Hagrid. She let him go on for about a minute before she took out her wand and hexed him silly.

"Why'd you do that? I was trying to help you, you dumb blond." That was the worst thing he could have said. Well there were probably many others but she wasn't in the mood to stay and listen so she left. He'd learn – the hard way – but he'd learn.

And he did. He spent the rest of the night in the Infirmary. When he came down to breakfast the next day he was handed a copy of the Prophet by a smirking Theo Nott. The Prophet went into great detail reporting what Lord Seven to his vassal Draco No Name. Before Draco could finish reading the article, Lord Falmouth sent for him. They went to the Headmaster's office where Lord Falmouth told him what he would be doing for the summer.

In short Draco No Name would be picked up by an Auror who would take him to a special summer camp where Draco would spend the summer. To his horror, it was a Muggle summer camp for troubled and criminal children. The Auror thoroughly briefed him how the camp worked and what would be expected of him. Naturally his wand would be confiscated and he would be issued Muggle clothes. Whether he was allowed to return to Hogwarts would depend on his behavior. If he was uncooperative or caused any trouble, he would be sent to another Muggle establishment to learn not only manners but the true way of the world.

Draco had no money, no owl and nothing to really call his own. He was taken to a room and handed a booklet entitled How to Act like a Muggle and was told he had one hour to read it as he couldn't take it with him. He was given breakfast, read the booklet, dressed in some Mugglish clothes and off he went. No goodbyes were permitted and no complaints would be tolerated.

The camp consisted of abused children, "problem children" and delinquents. Counseling was a regular part of the day and no bullying was tolerated. Of course if a bully or two weren't caught, the lives of some of the abused children were made very difficult until the bully was discovered. The bully was punished according to the amount of harm he had done before being caught.

Upon arrival each child was given an orientation and was told what was expected of him. "Everybody in this camp is equal. Nobody is better than anybody else. The only difference is intelligence level and talents. Some of you might be able to draw very well, average or not at all but that doesn't mean a thing. Everybody has talents and they just must be discovered and allowed to grow."

Draco hadn't decided yet how he was going to act. Despite not knowing much about Muggles other than what he had heard (mostly from his Father) or read in the booklet, Draco was confident that he was a superior being and the others would soon recognize it. He would soon be the leader and would manipulate the filth into doing his will.

But again he was in for a very big surprise and an awful lot of pain, especially after he met the resident bully named Dudley Dursley.

Draco would quickly learn the real way the world worked in both the Muggle and Magical Worlds and he wouldn't be the only one to learn terrible lessons.

The Magical Britain he knew would soon be radically changing as powerful wizards fought for control. The main ones were of course Albus Dumbledore, two cabals not associated with Voldemort but who were vying for Dumbledore's former power and surprisingly… Harry Lord Seven.

Although people knew Voldemort was back he was busy. He was recovering from the stress of his wraith condition, contacting allies and selected Death Eaters and doing the assorted other things which a Dark Lord had to do.

Meanwhile he would just sit back and watch the "fun" as Dumbledore and the cabals fought for power and Harry Potter fought for survival and his freedom.

It would be interesting to watch and more entertaining than a Muggle adventure/action film.


This will continue in Choices – Part II