Chapter 21

Who Let the Dogs Out?

A/N: I read somewhere that Death Eaters can't produce patronuses (except Snape) – I am not too sure of it; I mean, if Umbridge could…besides, if we consider the Malfoys – they quite love their family, isn't it? Difficult to believe they won't have happy memories. Anyhow, it suits my purposes to have Death Eaters throw out patronuses, so here we are.

The Death Eaters were not faring too well, sandwiched between the Dementors on one side and the Order of the Phoenix on the other. Confusion reigned amongst them, for they had expected the Dementors to side with them.

The Dementors, however, were too terrified of Emrys to move from their posts. They would only move enough to avoid the patronuses being flung at them, and return immediately.

"This isn't working," one of the smarter Death Eaters called. "We have to concentrate our attack at one point and get in."

Two dozen Death Eaters gathered together where they approximated Bellatrix Lestrange's cell to be, and directed all their patronuses at the three Dementors guarding it. The Dementors were forced to scatter, and three of the Death Eaters flew in quickly and handed Bellatrix her wand. Giggling manically, she stepped out, brandishing her wand.

Watching their successful efforts, other Death Eaters started doing the same. The Order caught on quickly, though, and only a few more imprisoned Death Eaters could be liberated.

"Where the hell are your mutts, Greyback?" a Death Eater murmured.

Fenrir Greyback howled at the half-moon, standing at the highest point on Azkaban island. A swarm of werewolves responded to him instantly in the distance, but none dared to come closer for fear of Dementors. Greyback howled louder, encouraging his pack, promising blood to their heart's content.

Remus grabbed Sirius' sleeve. "It's Greyback," he whispered. "He's calling for his pack. We have to stop it, Padfoot. We must. We won't be able to stand up to a full-scale werewolf attack if the Dementors leave."

Sirius nodded. "Tell Dumbledore. You and I will head out to the werewolves as soon as someone takes our position here."

Remus did so.

Dumbledore nodded, but Tonks, who was next to him, shook her head violently. "No way!" she yelled. "It's a suicide mission! The two of you, against what – fifty werewolves?!"

Remus' face hardened. "We don't really have a choice."

"There is always a choice," came a booming voice, and Rufus Scrimgeour, the Head of Auror Department, appeared with a full contingent of Aurors behind him.

"We got Lord Holmes' message," he told Dumbledore. "We will take care of Azkaban. Take your people and deal with the werewolves, Dumbledore." He looked at Tonks. "Nymphadora! Accompany them! Take Alastor with you."

Dumbledore stared at him. "Rufus – are you certain?"

"Yes," the leonine wizard said with an imperial nod.

Albus smiled. "You have my gratitude, Rufus," he said and gathered the members of the Order. With a quick explanation, they set off to confront the werewolves, leaving Azakaban to the Aurors.

xxx

"Harry! Wake up!" Ron shook his friend awake, staring at the newspaper in his hands. "Death Eaters attacked Azkaban!"

Harry rubbed his eyes sleepily and sat up. "I know," he muttered groggily, reaching out for his glasses before realizing he did not need them anymore.

"The Aurors held them off!" Ron said excitedly. "Only two prisoners managed to escape – Bellatrix Lestrange and Bartemius Crouch Junior. The Aurors caught many more from the attacking party instead!"

Harry nodded.

Neville, on the other hand, was pale and shaking.

"Are you all right, Neville?" Ron asked.

"Bellatrix Lestrange," Neville whispered. "She…she escaped?"

Ron nodded, perplexed. "Something wrong?" he asked.

"She is the reason I don't have my parents with me," Neville said quietly. He looked up at Harry and Ron, his face pale but determined. "If there is anything…anything at all…that I can do to help you defeat the Death Eaters…I know I am not good with magic, but…"

Harry, fully awake now, leapt out of bed and gave Neville a hug. An Emrys-hug, Harry called it in his mind, for the youngest Holmes brother was the most affectionate of the lot and it was from him Harry had learnt how comforting it could be.

"Thank you," he said to Neville. "I am very grateful for your help, Neville."

Neville's voice was thick with tears as he replied, "I am pretty useless at things, but I will try my best…"

"Nonsense," Harry said firmly, looking him in the eye. "I know how good you are at Herbology, and Dad – Sherlock – is always going on about how I need to learn more of that."

"Yeah," Ron agreed, walking up to them. "Hermione says you're as good as her in Herbology! That's seriously impressive, Nev."

Neville flushed at the praise from the two boys, his misery forgotten.

"Thank you for telling us about your parents," Harry said quietly. "I know how difficult that can be."

Neville nodded and turned his attention to the newspaper in Ron's hands. "Oh," he said. "There was trouble with werewolves as well."

Harry and Ron exchanged a look and Ron immediately turned his attention to the article. He plopped down on the floor in front of Harry and Neville so that all three boys could read the paper together.

It was a small paragraph about how the werewolves were on their way to attack Azkaban but were waylaid by a small group led by Dumbledore. It also mentioned that while the werewolves were thoroughly defeated and driven away, some of Dumbledore's party were injured.

Harry jumped up, worry creasing his brow. Had Sirius or Remus been injured? He dressed quickly and rushed out towards the infirmary.

Harry bumped into Emrys just outside the infirmary. Emrys peered at his face, concerned. "What's wrong, Harry?"

"Sirius, Remus – were they injured?" Harry asked breathlessly.

"Minor injuries – they'll be fine. Did you want to visit them? They've returned to their office already, I'm afraid. You will see them in class – you have Defense second period, right?"

"Yes," Harry said, nodding with relief. Then he frowned at Emrys. "Who were you visiting?"

Emrys smiled slightly. "Arthur and Severus got into a small fight with the Death Eater who came for Draco Malfoy."

Harry paled. "Draco was attacked? Is he all right? What about Arthur and Professor Snape?"

The boy in question walked out of the infirmary that very moment. "I am perfectly fine, Holmes, as are the other two," he declared, his cheeks tinged pink. "I do not need you to worry about me."

"Thank heavens," Harry said, not bothering to hide his relief. "I'm glad you are safe, Malfoy."

"Thanks," Draco muttered, clearly embarrassed. "I just hope my crazy aunt doesn't come after me now."

Harry stared at him, confused.

Draco sighed. "Bellatrix Lestrange, Potter – ah, Holmes. She is my mother's sister, and probably the craziest and most powerful Death Eater out there. I heard she was one of the two that escaped from Azkaban."

"We will try our best to keep you safe," Harry promised.

"Indeed," Emrys agreed with his nephew. "If you hear from her – or from another…or receive any threats, please do let us know, Draco."

"Yes, sir," Draco said to Emrys. "Thank you."

"You and my nephew could be great friends, you know," Emrys told the young Slytherin, winking at Harry. "You are very similar – clever, resourceful and a bit reckless."

"Lay off, Uncle Emrys," Harry said firmly. "Don't embarrass Draco. We get along now, and I am sure we will naturally end up being friends soon enough."

Emrys laughed and ruffled Harry's hair. "Look at you, leaping to your new friend's defence. Run along now – I don't want you to be late for class." He gave Harry a little push, turned around and went to the infirmary.

"Sorry about that," Harry said to Draco, a little embarrassed.

Draco giggled in response. "Come along, Potter – oh, Holmes, sorry."

Harry raised an eyebrow. "You can just call me Harry, you know. It'll be easier."

Draco smiled slightly. "Well, come along, then, Harry. We have the same class to attend."

"Won't you have breakfast?" Harry asked, frowning. He glanced at his watch. "We have time."

Draco stared at him. "You want to enter the Great Hall with me? Do you have any idea how many rumours that will cause?"

Harry smirked. "All the better for us, isn't it?"

A corner of Draco's mouth lifted. "You are quite devious for a good little Gryffindor. You'd have done well in Slytherin."

"I know," Harry said calmly. "The Sorting Hat told me – but I'd only just learnt about Hogwarts and its Houses, and that my parents had been murdered by an evil wizard called Voldemort who was a Slytherin. I begged my way out."

"Oh," Draco said, taken aback. He rubbed his chin. "That makes sense, I suppose. I didn't help, I suppose, with all my high-and-mightiness."

Harry laughed. "Don't kill me – but you reminded me a bit of my spoilt muggle cousin – his parents adore him and give him everything he asks for, and he's always been mean to me."

Draco flushed. "I am sorry," he said quietly. "I didn't know any better."

Harry smiled slightly. "Don't worry about it. We've gotten over all that now, haven't we? Besides, at least you never tried to kill me."

Draco stared at him. "You really are something else, Potter. After being treated like that by muggles…how can you still wish to protect them?"

Harry shook his head. "I know plenty of decent muggles. There are good muggles and bad muggles, just as there are good wizards and bad wizards. Just because a few muggles treated me badly does not mean I should hate all of them, right? That'd make me just like Voldemort…and that would definitely be not good."

"You are just a big softie," Draco said. "But I am grateful. You have saved my family and my friends."

Harry shrugged. "You are not the only one benefitting from our alliance, Draco."

Draco grinned.

They chatted amiably until they reached the Great Hall. Whispers broke out as soon as they entered together, still chatting. Harry walked to the Slytherin table with Draco, and exchanged a few words with the other Slytherins as well – the ones whose parents' Dark Marks he'd erased. He waved a cheery goodbye to Draco and made his way to the Gryffindor table.

"What was that all about?" Seamus asked as soon as Harry took a seat between Ron and Hermione.

Harry raised an eyebrow. Mycroft would have been proud.

"Why are you associating with Death Eaters now, Harry?" Seamus demanded.

"They are not Death Eaters," Hermione said. "Draco is helping us."

"And Harry can break Dark Marks anyway," Ron said proudly.

Hermione sighed. "Why don't you announce it to the entire wizarding world, Ron?"

"It's all right, Hermione," Harry intervened, not wanting to see his friends fight. "Most people already know anyway." He looked straight at Seamus. "It is true, though. Draco and the other Slytherins I was just talking to – they are on our side, not Voldemort's."

"That is amazing, Harry," Neville said, awed. "How did you…?"

Hermione narrated a heavily edited version of the truth, and Harry received many adoring stares and congratulatory claps on the back.

"You're quite something, mate," Seamus said, clapping him on the back. "You-Know-Who's done for, I guess."

Hermione glanced at her watch and let out a cry. "Come on," she said, jumping out of her seat and grabbing Harry and Ron. "We'll be late for Defence!"

As the trio dashed off, Seamus glanced at the other Third years. "We still have fifteen minutes, right?" he asked.

"Hermione probably wants to ask the Professors something before class," Neville replied, shrugging. He was probably the only one besides Hermione who had noticed Harry looking increasingly uncomfortable. Besides, Sirius Black was Harry's godfather, and it was natural for him to be concerned about their welfare after last night's events.

"Thanks, Hermione," Harry said softly as they reached the classroom.

She smiled in reply and knocked on the door.

"Come in," Remus' gentle voice called from inside.

Harry, Ron and Hermione entered quietly and looked up at Sirius and Remus. Both looked worn out and had a few bandages.

"Are you guys all right?" Ron asked. "We went to the infirmary but Emrys said you had already left. Harry was worried."

Sirius ruffled Harry's hair affectionately. "Don't worry, pup. Your old dogs are fine."

"You have bandages," Harry pointed out shakily. "I didn't know wizards needed those."

Sirius chuckled. "Magic bandages, Harry. We will be right as rain by tomorrow." He smirked. "You should have seen the werewolves once we were done with them. Remus is the undisputed Alpha now, so the werewolf problem is sorted out for the foreseeable future." He glanced at Remus. "Moony was magnificent last night," he declared proudly.

Remus flushed and said mildly, "Back at you, Padfoot."

Harry heaved a sigh of relief. Sirius and Remus were safe, and Remus controlled the werewolves now. They could not have asked for a better outcome.

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