Author's note: Well now, I've finally managed to cobble together another chapter. Those who've looked at my profile know that my laptop had a bit of an accident. It turns out that computers can't drink coffee, who knew? Thankfully, once it dried out I managed to salvage almost all of my notes. Now, despite real life distractions, the steady influx of new readers and reviews have shamed... er... inspired me to find more time to write.
As always, thank you for reading, and special thanks to those who review.
Chaos at the Ministry
Early this morning, Death Eaters managed to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic. Three of the masked terrorists managed to make their way to the DMLE holding cells before they were discovered. Their apparent goal was to break out the notoriously deranged Bellatrix Lestrange, who was scheduled to be transferred to the newly fortified Azkaban later this week.
Aurors Dawlish and Yaxley confronted the masked Death Eaters, but were unable to stop the three dark wizards. Auror John Dawlish lost his life in the ensuing skirmish, and Auror Archelaus Yaxley was gravely injured. Yaxley is currently in stable condition at Saint Mungo's. He is expected to make a full recovery. Aurors Shacklebolt and Tonks were able to arrive in time to save Yaxley, but were too late to prevent Lestrange's escape.
The four Death Eaters made good their escape, but not before assassinating Minister Scrimgeour, who was in a conference with the Head of the DMLE, Pius Thicknesse. Thicknesse was knocked unconscious during the assassination, and thought dead by the terrorists, who made their escape through the floo in Thicknesse's office.
An investigation is underway to discover how the Death Eaters managed to remain undetected for so long. We received this statement from the DMLE: "It is too early in our investigation to say for certain, but we believe that the imperius curse was used in the infiltration. Steps are being taken to counter future use of the unforgivable."
In an emergency Wizengamot session, Pius Thicknesse has been named interim minister. A long time supporter of Minister Scrimgeour, Thicknesse is expected to continue the late minister's efforts to combat he-who-must-not-be-named on every level. Interim Minister Thicknesse could not be reached for comment.
Rufus Scrimgeour: A lifetime fighting the darkness – page 3
John Dawlish: A hero remembered – page 5
Bellatrix Lestrange: Britain's most dangerous witch – page 8
"Interesting, I didn't know Bella had been captured. I wonder how I missed it." Harry commented lightly during breakfast at the Slytherin table. "You'd think they would have been bragging about that."
Luna placed a copy of the Quibbler on top of Harry's copy of the Prophet. "Rita Skeeter's article says it's supposedly because they were waiting until she was moved to the new Azkaban. Obviously she's mistaken, Bellatrix was never actually captured, this was just an opportunity for the Rotfang conspirators to finish their coup. Scrimgeour was blocking their bid for power, and now they've replaced him with one of their own. It's all laid out on page four."
"Hmm..." Harry wondered if Luna's conspiracy theory might have more than a grain of truth to it as he continued reading the Prophet, occasionally comparing it to the Quibbler's account. "The name Yaxley is familiar... pretty sure he's one of Voldemort's. It makes me doubt that either of these articles are entirely true."
"If you're patient, you can ask someone who was there for a more accurate account." Wednesday slid a small piece of parchment in front of Harry. "These are the only people I could think of to invite to our wedding, except for my family of course. Both Bellatrix and Nymphadora are on that list, and you could probably ask either one. Add anyone I missed, so that I can send out invitations."
Headmaster Tofty was hard at work, preparing various plans to make the school safer, when his office door opened. "Make it quick Elphias. I have a lot of work to do, and little time to do it before the board meets to discuss the safety of my students."
"That is exactly why I am here Solomon." Elphias Doge explained with a steady voice, there was no way he would admit that Tofty acknowledging who he was without even looking up unnerved him. Over a century old, but in that moment he felt as if he was a thirteen-year-old troublemaker again. "Albus and I thought it best to give you a chance to step down gracefully, before they crucify you."
That statement stilled Tofty's quill, and the elderly wizard looked up to meet the gaze of Dumbledore's oldest ally. "Step down? If the board decides that I'm unfit then so be it, but that decision has nothing to do with you, and even less to do with Albus."
"It's plain to see that removing Albus was a tragic mistake. The last student death was during Headmaster Dippet's time. For the entirety of Albus' tenure as headmaster, every student who entered Hogwarts, left very much alive." Doge shook his head sadly. "Such a shame... It's not truly your fault of course, you simply don't have the knowledge and insight that Albus does."
With a stoney face, Tofty's brow furrowed slightly. "What do you mean by that, what knowledge?"
"As I said, it's nothing against you Solomon. It's just that you don't know which students come from misguided families. Albus would have kept a close eye on the Nott and Selwyn boys, among others." Doge pointed out.
"Misguided... A dark mark was found on Theodore Nott. Are you implying that Albus knows which students have Death Eater connections?" Tofty ground his teeth. Due to political maneuvering, most suspected Death Eater names were suppressed after Riddle died. "Never mind, of course he knows. Why, with the second rise of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, did he not let me know? I had nothing to do with the trials, and I had nothing to do with the war. One of the only students that I know has ties to those terrorists, is Draco Malfoy, and that's only because his father's conviction was so scandalous and public. Considering the boy is friends with The-Boy-Who-Lived himself, I'm fairly certain that he isn't following his father's example."
"Well, you can't expect Albus to hold your hand after he was so rudely removed from office." Doge countered, not bothering to pay attention to the mood of the other wizard.
Tofty stood, and spoke in a frosty tone. "I think that regardless of whether or not I remain headmaster, Albus will never sit in this chair again. Get out, and tell Albus that Selwyn and Nott's blood is on his hands. If he has any sense left, then he will let me know which of my students are at risk of being recruited as Death Eaters."
Doge looked shaken, he had expected this visit to end quite differently. For the first time, he started to wonder if perhaps Albus might actually be in the wrong this time. Without another word, he started to leave.
"Oh and Elphias," Tofty called out angrily before Doge had walked too far. "You and Albus may have already forgotten young Mister Diggory, but I assure you Amos has not, nor have I"
"Th-that was during the Tri-wizard tournament. Technically, he wasn't attending school when it happened." Doge found himself responding automatically before ducking his head, and rushing to leave the castle.
Lost in thought, Harry had a neutral expression as he made his way to the quidditch pitch for the first game of the year. It took him a moment to realize that his new chaser, Demelza Robins, was walking alongside him.
"Shouldn't you be with Katie and Ginny, going over your formations and hand signals?" Harry asked, wanting to get back to his contemplation on what exactly he should do about McLaggen.
"I'll find them in a bit, I just had to talk with you for a second." The young chaser looked nervous as she picked at the trim of her robes. "I already wrote a note to warn your girlfriend... sorry, fiancée... but I figured I'd warn you in person, same house and all, you know?"
"Ah, so you're the Gryffindor girl they were talking about." His eyes widened in understanding, before narrowing along with a frown. "This Vane girl... your friend?"
Demelza started to answer one way, before reconsidering mid-word. "Ye-no, I guess not. I mean, we're roomates and we get along, so kinda." She let out a long sigh, and looked Harry in the eyes. "I just wanted to warn you guys, and make sure if you retaliate with a prank, you leave the rest of us out of it."
Harry's frown turned up into a smirk. "Don't worry, Vane and McLaggen are the only ones who have something coming their way."
"Thanks Harry!" Demelza smiled brightly as she hurried off to meet with her fellow chasers. This will hopefully teach Romilda a lesson. Maybe the impulsive girl will start thinking twice before acting on a bad idea next time.
Like in years past, Draco hovered face to face with Harry while they waited for Madam Hooch to start the match. Ironically, even though this was the first time he didn't view Harry as an enemy, this was also the first time he was afraid of the other seeker.
"Hey Draco, I have a favor to ask." Harry spoke softly to not let his voice carry. "See if you can't get Crabbe and Goyle to smash McLaggen's face in a few times before I catch the snitch."
Confused, Draco looked over Harry's shoulder to see the Gryffindor keeper showboating before the game. "That can be arranged, but why?If you want someone hurt, I have a hard time believing you don't want to do it yourself."
"True, but when it comes to that I want to take my time." Harry shrugged, then grinned widely. "Besides, maybe if you disable my keeper, you'll have a slight chance of winning."
Draco's eye twitched at the taunt, the whistle blew, and Harry rocketed past on his ascent to search for the snitch. Cursing, Draco circled around the pitch. Flying alongside each of his beaters for several seconds, he continuously searched for a glint of gold as he gave them instructions. Even if they weren't enemies anymore, Draco would be damned if he let the scar-head beat him again.
On average, the Slytherin quidditch players were bigger, stronger, and meaner than the other house's players. The three Gryffindor girls, fully aware of this, took advantage of their more graceful forms. Where the boys in green would abandon finesse and just power through, the girls would sometimes literally fly circles around their opponents on the way to the hoops.
Coote, the smallest beater in the air, surprisingly gave the Gryffindors an edge where the bludgers were concerned. Peakes, Crabbe, and Goyle were all powerhouses, but Coote was a marksman. More than once, he was able to knock the quaffle right out of the Slytherin chaser's hands.
Technically McLaggen was the better keeper, but his need to show off made him let through goals that should have been relatively easy saves. The Slytherin keeper, while not as good, was completely focused, and managed to hold his own against the Gryffindor chasers.
Despite the wildly different tactics and skill levels, both teams were hard pressed to gain a decent advantage over the other. Fifteen minutes into the match, and the score was dead even at a forty point tie.
Time seemed to slow for Goyle as a bludger headed straight for him. An absolutely perfect shot was lining itself up, and all he had to do was swing. With the rest of the match shut out of his mind, the resounding -crack- of bat meeting bludger was musical to the brutish boy. The iron ball rocketed down the pitch, and Katie's eyes widened in fear for half a moment at the approaching bludger. Seasoned player that she was, Katie rolled out of the way without losing her grip on the quaffle.
McLaggen was congratulating himself for a save, and smiling brightly, sure that several girls in the stands were admiring his considerable talents. Something at the edge of his vision caught his attention, and he turned just in time to catch the oncoming bludger with his teeth.
Many of the onlookers cringed as McLaggen was knocked off of his broom, and into one of the hoops, finally landing face-first in the grass. Wincing at the keepers misfortune, Madam Hooch sped over to check on his well-being. Carefully rolling him onto his side, she noted that he was breathing, but not conscious. His face was a mess. Even with blood everywhere it was clear that his nose was shattered, and he was missed several teeth. Hooch knew that Poppy was going to really tear into her over this one, especially since she wasn't going to interrupt the game or take Mister McLaggen to receive treatment. The rules were clear: since the bludger was clearly aimed at the chaser with the quaffle, there was no foul regardless of the resulting injury. An unfortunate accident, but an accident nonetheless.
Up in the stands, Wednesday watched the match with disinterest. Admittedly the occasional bludger striking a player was somewhat amusing, but it was all too far away to truly appreciate.
Susan sat next to Wednesday. Having insisted that her roommate should watch her fiancé play, she came along as well. "What do you think of your first quidditch game? I know in the States you guys prefer quodpot."
"My family prefers more engaging sports, fencing and the like." Wednesday replied, stifling a yawn. "I didn't even know that there were broom sports until I came here."
"Well, once the snitch shows up it should get more exciting. For some reason, whenever Harry plays something crazy tends to happen." She held up a bag of assorted sweets. "Want anything?"
Looking down at the offered treat, Wednesday shook her head and took out a small bag filled with greenish brown leaves. "I've brought my own. I've had a taste for these lately."
Recalling her eccentric roommate's lethal tastes regarding food, Susan politely declined. The two girls turned their attention back to the match. With the Gryffindor's hoops undefended, the score had swung heavily in favor of Slytherin, and the gap was steadily widening as the Lions desperately tried to rally.
Nearby in the announcer's stand, Professor McGonagall shook her head in disgust. Not able to watch the slaughter, she let her eyes roam the stands. The small grouping of yellow-trimmed robes drew her attention, and she focused on her star player's fiancée. The transfiguration mistress frowned, she would have to have a few words with Miss Addams after the match. Hopefully she was mistaken about what she just saw the girl put in her mouth.
A roar erupting from the crowd jolted Professor McGonagall out of her thoughts, and she swung back to watch the match as the new student announcer tried to articulate what was happening.
"It seems as if Black has seen the snitch! Diving into the opposing chaser's formation without hesitation, he's scattered the surprised Slytherins. I still don't see the tell-tale flash of gold, but Black is weaving in and around the other players as if he's hot on its trail."
All eyes focused on Harry. Darting about, he sometimes missed colliding with other fliers by less than an inch. Those within earshot could tell that he was laughing merrily.
"Gryffindor scores! In the confusion caused by Black's erratic flying, Weasley managed to snag the quaffle and easily put it through the left hoop."
"The Slytherin team is trying to regain their lost momentum, but Black seems to be everywhere at once, causing confusion and chaos. I hear cries of foul, but I'd like to remind everyone that it's only a foul if Black collides with the quaffle or one of the other players."
"Black is really pushing that Firebolt of his to its limits as he continuously interrupts Every Slytherin chaser's run for a goal."
"Even with an open goal, Gryffindor is making a comeback! The Lions still trail eighty to one hundred thirty, but it's no longer looking like a sure victory for the Snakes!"
At first Draco couldn't believe it, Harry had practically thrown the game by asking Crabbe and Goyle to take out McLaggen. It was looking like even the snitch wouldn't make a difference in a few more minutes.
Then the tables turned, and it was looking like Gryffindor would reverse the lead before long. Draco had of course heard of seekers who took a more direct role in the scoring, but he never thought it happened outside of the professional circuit.
Scowling, Draco watched Harry fly about, ruining Slytherin's dominating lead. As Harry's manic laughter floated up to where Draco was circling, his eyes widened with an epiphany. He redoubled his efforts to find the snitch, blocking out the bedlam below.
Putting aside thoughts of the now finished quidditch match, Professor McGonagall swiftly made her way through the dispersing crowd of students, hoping to head off a potential disaster. "Miss Addams, come with me."
Wednesday raised her brow in curiosity. There wasn't any reason she could think of for the transfiguration professor to talk to her. Well, nothing that could be traced back to her anyway. "What do you need professor?" She asked as she separated from her roommate.
The stern-faced professor remained silent until they had walked some distance from the crowd. With a look that brooked no nonsense, she questioned the stoic teenager. "Is there something you'd like to tell me Miss Addams?"
"No, I had thought you wanted to talk with me." Wednesday responded sincerely.
McGonagall allowed her features to soften slightly. "I am a transfiguration mistress, and a registered animagus as well. I know exactly what you're trying to do with that mandrake leaf, and without proper supervision it is exceedingly dangerous."
"Dangerous?" Wednesday pulled the small bag of leaves from her robes. "I know they're poisonous, but I'd hardly call them dangerous. To be honest, belladonna leaves taste better, but I can't find any."
"Am I to understand that you've been eating mandrake leaves?" McGonagall asked incredulously.
"Of course, what else would I do with them?" Wednesday slid her snack back into the folds of her robes. "Besides use them as potion ingredients of course."
The transfiguration professor spluttered as she tried to wrap her mind around the situation. "I was expecting that you were attempting to become an animagus, not kill yourself."
"It takes far more than a few deadly leaves to kill an Addams." The girl said seriously. "It takes a great deal of dedication, and quite a bit of luck."
Wednesday paused, and looked thoughtful as she considered the professor's words. "What determines an animagus' form? Is it random, or could I choose the animal?"
"Your animal-self, if you have one, is an innate part of you. In many ways it reflects who you truly are. There is nothing to choose." McGonagall responded automatically, before she returned to her primary concern. "None of that matters right now. You and I are going to the infirmary immediately."
"You can't be serious." Wednesday deadpanned.
"I assure you young lady, I am always serious." The elder witch pointed toward the castle with her wand. "Now march, or I'll levitate you there myself."
Draco felt almost numb as he finished changing out of his quidditch robes. The walk back to the dungeons went by in a haze as he replayed the match over and over in his head. Despite everything, he still couldn't believe it... He won. He actually beat Harry to the snitch.
The world came slowly back into focus as a drink was placed in his hand. He had made it back to the common room without realizing it, and most of the house was celebrating. The goblet almost made it to his lips before he paused. A healthy dose of paranoia had him check the drink with his wand first. It was an unneeded precaution, but the results did make him hesitate further as he noticed Professor Slughorn watching.
"I think the firewhiskey was meant for someone else." Draco commented dryly as he moved to hand it to one of the wizards who was of age.
Slughorn chuckled, and adopted a look of innocence. "I'm sure you must be mistaken Mister Malfoy. I wouldn't let one of my snakes bring firewhiskey in here, only mulled cider and butterbeer."
Pushing the drink back to Draco, Blaise whispered in an amused tone. "He means it too. He brought the whiskey in himself. Slughorn might not favor us like Snape did, but he's not that bad either."
Scoffing, Draco took a large sip of the burning liquor. "Easy for you to say Zabini. You're in his little club. Not to mention that your father doesn't have a certain tattoo on his forearm."
"For all I know he might." Blaise pointed out dryly. "The only thing about my father that I'm certain of, is that he's not alive."
"I really wouldn't worry about it Minerva." Madam Pomfrey stressed as they watched Wednesday's robes disappear around the corner. "Some people are simply immune to certain poisons."
"She threw up blood Poppy, blood!" McGonagall gestured at the crimson splatter on the stones that had yet to be cleaned.
"A reaction to the antidote, not the mandrake leaves themselves. If you had told me it was Miss Addams, I would not have given you that potion." Pomfrey sighed. "My fault I suppose. I should have stepped away from Mister McLaggen for a moment, to administer the potion myself."
Pinching the bridge of her nose, the Scottish witch reminded herself how long she'd known the resident medi-witch. "What is so special about Miss Addams?"
"To be honest, I'm not entirely sure." She admitted ruefully. "I preformed a basic physical when it turned out that she'd never had one before. I don't quite understand how or why, but she's fairly unique. I wouldn't be surprised to find there's a magical creature or two in her family tree."
McGonagall glanced toward the groundskeeper's hut. "Is that why Pomona says she's so haphazard with her courses? Is Miss Addams like Rubeus? Does she honestly not realize what is or isn't considered dangerous?"
Pomfrey shrugged. "It could be. I wasn't expecting the bad reaction to an antidote, but I seriously doubt any simple poison could hurt her, not with her constitution. Her vomiting shouldn't be an issue either, even with the blood, but I'll ask Pomona to keep an eye on her just in case."
The Gryffindor common room was subdued. Most everyone couldn't actually believe that Harry had lost to Malfoy. The only seeker to ever beat their star player, was Cedric Diggory, and even then it was because Harry had fallen off his broom from dementor exposure. It wasn't long until the inevitable grumblings, turned to outright blaming Harry Potter-turned-Black for throwing the game.
Seamus walked over to the on-again off-again pariah, who was quietly talking with Hermione. "Don't listen to any of them Harry. There are professionals who don't fly half as well as you. You just got a little carried away trying to make up for a downed keeper."
"Hmm?" Harry looked up. "Yeah... I'm a bit annoyed that I lost, but you're right, I did get carried away. It was hard work not plowing right into people. There were more than a few times I was really tempted."
"Right..." Seamus looked puzzled for a moment, but figured he must have misunderstood. "Well there are enough of us that know you'd never lose on purpose."
"You're usually one of the people who don't believe Harry, one of the more vocal actually." Hermione pointed out with curiosity. "Why not now?"
The Irish boy scratched the back of his head in embarrassment. "Well... He's always turned out to have been telling the truth the whole time... and well, now that You-know-who is back, Dumbledore's gone, and students are disappearing..." He sighed. "I figured I need to grow up now, or I might not ever get a chance to."
"Never mind that that was just about word for word what I told him earlier." Dean pointed out as he walked over, catching the tale end of the conversation. "Either way, it's just a game. I've got your back too mate, but I came over to tell you that your fiancée is in the hall asking for you."
"If Professor Slughorn hadn't shown us that amortentia, I might have thought these wretched things had actually been a gift from you like my roommates thought." Wednesday tossed a box of cauldron cakes onto the bench where the two sat. "As things are, we should do something to thank the girl who warned us."
"Really? You thought I would get you chocolates?" Harry looked down at the offending sweets, and frowned.
Wednesday shrugged. "They smell like they've been poisoned."
"Fair enough I suppose." He figured that made sense. "Anyways... Demelza, that's the girl who warned us, just wants us to avoid collateral damage when we retaliate. I've been talking with Hermione, and we've come up with a decent plan."
"Do we really need a plan?" She countered. "I thought we'd just abduct the two responsible, and see what feels right once we have some privacy."
"That does sound fun, but we were thinking about doing something right away to start." A mischievous glint shone in Harry's eyes, that would have made both his father and godfather proud. "After all, they've gone through so much trouble to lace these cauldrons with love potion. It would be a shame if they went to waste."
A raised eyebrow was the only response he received, so he lowered his voice further, and whispered in her ear.
Her face remained placid until he finished explaining, at which point she turned to stare at him. "Your friend is sick and disturbed. Does she need help?"
"I don't think so. She seemed pretty confident, but I'm sure the two of you can work together on it." He grinned ruefully. "I'll stay out of it. I think I'd just get in the way."
Dumbledore sat silently, staring at a pile of parchment. Each piece of parchment was covered with various half-concocted plans to bring Harry back to the light. It was absolutely vital that he save Harry from himself before it was too late. The dark was growing ever-stronger, and now even Elphias was questioning him. Harry was the key, the child of prophecy that would rally decent witches and wizards to do what was right.
With his most loyal having been turned against him, Dumbledore knew he was alone in this fight. The others would return in time, and he would welcome them back to the light magnanimously, but for now he was the wizarding world's only hope. A great burden, but one he had shouldered in the past. At least this time he would not have to confront the man he loved.
He removed his spectacles, and rubbed his tired eyes. As pressing as the issue was, simply staring at his notes would do no good. Dumbledore decided a break was in order, and shifted the sheets of parchment off to the side. Returning another day, with fresh eyes and a clear head, would make all the difference.
After spreading another pile out in front of him, and picking up a photograph, he sighed as he shifted gears. "Where have you hidden your soul Tom?"
Standing proud in the photograph was a young Tom Riddle in his seventh year at Hogwarts. Smiling confidently, Riddle uncrossed his arms to wave, and Dumbledore found himself staring intently at the boy's other hand. He rushed, almost madly, to grab his wand before Riddle decided to cross his arms again, or leave the photo. With a tap of his wand, Dumbledore froze the photograph, and pulled out a magnifying glass to focus on a ring that adorned the boy's hand.
Shaking, he let the magnifying glass fall to the desk. The final hallow, the only one that mattered, was in Tom's hands. If he wasn't mistaken, the foolish boy had even turned the ornate ring into a horcrux. With renewed vigor, he fervently returned to his research. An artifact as powerful as the stone might even remain untainted by Tom's dark magic. As Dumbledore poured over his notes, he thought how he could separate hallow from horcrux prior to bringing the ring to Thicknesse for destruction.
Half of the great hall fell silent to watch as Romilda Vane ran through, crying, on her way back to Gryffindor tower.
"Any idea what that's about?" Katie questioned through a mouthful of toast, pointing toward the retreating girl with her fork.
"Not really..." Neville trailed off as he tried to put together what he'd seen. "She and McLaggen were snogging pretty seriously, they ducked out of the room, then she came tearing through covered in vomit..."
Not looking up from her own breakfast, Hermione nodded. "She and Cormac are beginning to reap what they have sown."
"What did you do?" Neville looked at Hermione with wide eyes. "Hang on, what did they do?"
"They tried to use amortentia to ensnare Harry and Wednesday. I helped turn their plans around, with a little twist." Hermione looked up with a smug smile. "I was sure it would work, but confirmation is always a good thing."
Katie swallowed the last of her toast. "That explains the snogging, that stuff is supposed to be pretty strong. The crying and vomit though... What did you add to it?"
"Wednesday and I added a potion of our own that tweaked the amortentia." Hermione explained, proud of their success. "While they're apart, the love potion should work like it's supposed to; if they're together in public, the potion is quite a bit more potent; and if they're together in private, the potion will induce extreme nausea and feelings of revulsion. The feelings of disgust should last about ten minutes or so before the amortentia reasserts itself."
Failing to hold back a laugh, Katie snickered into her hand. "That is hilarious. It couldn't happen to a nicer creep either. I suppose the girl deserves it too. Those potions are bad enough normally, but using a love potion on someone engaged to be married? I knew he was stupid, but I didn't know McLaggen was that stupid."
Neville looked between the smug witch and the giggling one, and sighed. "Every witch I know is bloody scary."
"Aww, don't worry Neville. we like you. You should be mostly safe, mostly." Katie teased.
"It's good to see you Nymphadora, what brings you to Hogwarts?"
She waited until Professor McGonagall closed the door and walked away, before grabbing Harry by his collar. "Did you have anything to do with it?"
"It?" Harry looked confused as he thought about what might have set off the metamorphmagus.
"Lestrange! I swear if you knew, or somehow helped..."
He remained confused for a moment, before understanding dawned on him. "Oh! Bella's escape, I had no idea she'd even been caught in the first place. I wanted to ask you about that anyway, I'm sure the newspapers aren't telling the whole story."
Tonks stared at him in silence, then slumped her shoulders slightly. "I had her... She was going to Azkaban for good this time..."
"You had her?" Making no effort to escape his cousin's grip, he looked at her quizzically. "Are you telling me you're the one who caught her this time? Good for you Nymphadora! I didn't think you were that good."
A fire lit in her eyes, and her hair flared. Tightening her grip, she growled dangerously. "I told you I wasn't bluffing. Now let's get things straight, I don't care that you're the head of my family, I wouldn't care if you were bloody Merlin. My. Name. Is. Tonks!"
Grinning, Harry chuckled.
Tonks let him go and stepped backward. "You actually want me to hex you... Merlin Harry, what is wrong with you?"
"Nothing at all." He smiled brightly as he smoothed out his robes. "Now, about the escape. What happened? The paper said you were there. If you caught her, why couldn't you keep her?"
Sighing in frustration, she let herself fall into a nearby chair. "I dropped my guard... I was dueling her, and she was laughing madly like always, but then her attitude shifted. She rubbed her stomach, proudly bragging that she was going to have twins, that her child would be the first new Black. I hesitated, and she nailed me with a curse that sent me arse over teakettle."
"That's fantastic news!" Harry clapped joyfully. "Narcissa will probably follow soon enough, and if your mother is anything like her sisters, it won't be long until you're a big sister."
"Yeah, wonderful." Tonks voiced woodenly as her hair darkened to a mousy brown. "One big psychotic family."
"Exactly." He agreed sincerely.
Author's notes: Thanks again for all of the reviews and messages, almost every single one is appreciated. If I don't respond in some way, chances are it's a reflection on my poor organization, rather than any lack of appreciation.
To Den123456 reviewing chapter 22: Romilda is actively trying to steal Harry away from Wednesday, and McLaggen is helping. I think you already know what the results are going to be, it's just most of the details that you'll have to wait on. ;)
I wanted people to see that James really wasn't as bad as I had portrayed him. We all have bad moments after all.
To Guest reviewing chapter 22: I'm happy to brighten your day with my disturbed sense of humor.
I suppose that it doesn't matter if you like James or not, either way he's already dead.
The frightening shift in Harry's personality has made Draco much less brash. He's actually acting like a Slytherin now, and it's working quite well for him. Chances were that Draco would not have been good enough to take out Nott himself.
They visit Myrtle relatively often, most of the time it's off-screen though. Almost every time they go to the Chamber of Secrets, they stop and chat.
Aren't the trio of firsties adorable? Wednesday got to them at a nice impressionable age. :)
To Luvrofmoonlight reviewing chapter 22: Sadly, Joel Glicker is naught but a memory. His family was horrified when Wednesday tried to take his heart as a keepsake, so they made sure his body was kept far away from any Addams. I don't think Joel was magical either, so he wouldn't be able to be a ghost. The only way he could show up would be if his spirit was forcibly summoned.
To BumpsInTheNight reviewing chapter 22: I take it as a big compliment that you don't like gore, but still like my version of Harry.
To Guest reviewing chapter 21: Harry's blood didn't destroy Voldemort during his resurrection for the same reason it didn't in canon, whatever that might be. My guess is that the magic of the ritual protected Voldemort temporarily until the ritual itself gave him complete protection from Harry's touch.