Last Chapters: Harry, George and Hagrid rescued Fred out of a burning forest. Hagrid got a letter from the ministry who was influenced by Lucius Malfoy.
A/N: I made a mistake in the forest fire in the last two chapters. It turned out the lake was quite dangerous. Smoke is the number one cause of death in fires. Carbon monoxide, being heavier than air, would gather above the lake, as it is the lowest point. With all the carbon-monoxide, the four people wouldn't have had a chance. Please DO NOT use a story as safety manual but treat it like fiction as it is.
-= Ginny Weasley, Sunday 31 May 1992, Morning =-
When she felt solid ground under her feet again, Ginny let go of her Father's hand. Even though the unnatural pressure on her body had ended, she still felt dizzy. She felt like she was just pulled through a tube, with a rope tied to her waist.
For a moment she thought that she was adjusting well but then she felt a bad taste in her mouth. Instinctively knowing what would come, she bended over as she felt the breakfast going out the same way as it went in.
"Everything alright?" her mother asked.
"I really hate apparition" she commented with the sour taste still in her mouth.
"Don't worry, a lot of people vomit the first time." her mother answered while conjuring a glass of water. She was really glad that her mother was that thoughtful.
While drinking the water, Ginny took time to look around. She heard a lot about this place but she had never been here.
She was standing on an old train platform. The tree of them were the only people on the platform, who used to be clean before she vomited. A large blue board with white letters showed that the station was called "Hogsmeade".
At one side she saw a village which she knew had the same name. The buildings had steep roofs and between the buildings she could see some people walk. It was however too far away to see who they were.
At the other side she saw a stone fence. Behind the fence she could see a dozen towers. She thought that it would certainly be Hogwarts castle. The place where they were heading towards.
She looked for her father. She saw him, a dozen meters away, walking over a path to an iron gate in the wall. When he looked back at her, she could see the worry in his eyes, despite the smile he tried to construct. Did he know why they were summoned or did he, just like her have no clue.
She walked towards him again and looked at the gate. She could see the whole castle radiating magic. The towers, many of which she could not see before, defied natural construction logic, just like the burrow. A hundred windows looked out of the castle. It seemed and probably also was huge.
In the lake she could see the reflection of the strange building. This would have been a beautiful scene if it wasn't for the forest. On the right of the lake she saw a burned down forest. The trees were like black lines that formed a large contract of the white smoke that erupted from the ground. Charcoal was still glowing with an orange light. In must have been a recent fire or it would have been stopped by now. It was really sad to see nature being destroyed in this way.
She was a bit surprised when her father pushed the gate open. At first she expected the gate to be locked. After all, why would you have a gate when you don't lock it. Then she looked at the fences and remembered that everyone with a broom could enter anyway, so a lock wouldn't be very useful.
The gates would instead be ceremonial. It told people that they were entering the Hogwarts properties.
She took a breath before stepping through the gate with her father. Entering the ground felt like a big step even though the distance of her step was rather small. She didn't know if she imagined it, but she thought she could even feel the wards when entering.
While walking towards the castle, a million questions went through her mind. What was hogwarts like? Why were they called? Professor McGonagall informed them, this morning, that they were requested to be at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, the message didn't say why they should come. Undoubtedly this was because what one of her brothers had done. She didn't knew what brother had done something, but knowing her brothers she was willing to bet it was the twins.
Another option was that it was because of the letter correspondence between Arthur and Dumbledore in the last few months. Dumbledore had send them six letters and Arthur answered them quickly. She had no idea where the letters were about as he didn't spoke about them in her presence. She knew that Arthur archived all of them, so she came up with a plan. She was so curious that she sneaked down in the middle of the night trying to read them. Unfortunately she couldn't open the folder containing the letters. It was magically sealed and after half an hour of trying she gave up and went back to bed. Her parents never found out.
Still those thoughts didn't help to answer any question why they were here. For a moment she tried distracting herself by thinking of the environment instead. Not that it really worked. At first she asked herself what it would be like to stay at Hogwarts but soon she had questions in her head like how the forest burned down. She wondered whether the twins were involved. It would be too much for a prank, but it could be a prank that had gone bad. Was this why they were here?
When they walked into the castle she looked around with her eyes wide open.
A tall, gray-haired witch walked towards them. The emerald green color of her robes made her think of the boy who she loved reading about. That was before he was sorted into Slytherin. The day she heard that, was a black day. She realized that her Harry Potter book collection were fakes. Otherwise, how could Gryffindors heir be sorted there? After all he was supposed to have single handedly defeated over half a dozen dragons and other XXXXX creatures.
"Good morning Arthur, Molly" the woman said. "And you must be Ginny?"
"Yes." she said a bit shyly.
"I am Professor McGonagall, head of the house of Gryffindor, where your brothers are in." the woman told her giving only a short introduction. To all three she continued: "I must regretfully inform you three that Fred and George have been injured last night."
She was still processing the message when her mother shouted on her usual shouting tone. "WHAT?
HOW DID THEY GET IN INJURED?
ARE THEY IN THE HOSPITAL WING OR WHAT?
ISN'T HOGWARTS SUPPOSED TO KEEP THEM SAFE?
FIRST RON AND NOW THEM."
Somehow, the professor didn't back down. "The twins were injured in a burning forest. They are in the hospital wing. Hogwarts is trying it's best to keep all its students safe. If you would like to follow me to the hospital, we can see how they are doing."
Her father nodded and they started walking.
Ginny didn't know the way, so she kept close to her father. Normally she would have enjoyed seeing all the portraits on the walls. The moving staircases would have fascinated her. Even the ghosts would have been interesting, despite the fact that they were a little bit scary. However, with her worrying about her two brothers, she didn't think about any of it.
She was instead listening to how the professor told what happened in their last detention. Most of it was directed to her parents, but she was curious as well. When she heard that the detention would be in the forest, she was worried. She couldn't help to think about that burned down place she just walked by, when walking to the castle.
When she heard that Harry had helped saving Fred, she thought whether he could still have some Gryffindor traits. It didn't sound like something a Slytherin would do. Would the books be true anyway? She would puzzle about it later.
Finally, the came to the door of the hospital wing and she was desperate to go inside. The professor stopped her for a moment. She squatted down to look her in the eye, before telling her "I must warn you that Fred's wounds look terrible."
"I don't care. I want to see my brothers."
"They are on a sleeping draught and will not be able to talk. Don't you want to wait till the worst wounds are treated and you are able to speak with them?"
"No" she answered while walking to the door. "Don't treat me like a little child. I am almost eleven."
"That is also why I give you a choice." the professor told her in a gentle voice. . "You can enter the room, if you like. I am just advising you to wait till the wounds are healed."
"I want to see them now." Ginny said to her.
True to her word, McGonagall didn't stop her.
When she went inside she saw three people lying in bed. At the first bed, Madame Pomfrey was trying to convince Harry Potter that he had to go back to sleep. The boy refused the dreamless sleep potion. She didn't really care either way though.
In the second bed she saw one of the twins. He had a pajama on and was asleep. He didn't appear to have any wounds. By the lack of visible wounds, this would likely be George.
Fred's bed was still a bit obscured by the first two people. She did not notice the shocked faces of her parents. The fact that they could look over the bed and already see fred, escaped her mind completely. That was why she chose to walk further, to look at her other brother.
When she saw Fred, she saw the most horrible wounds. It would not be that they were the worst she could imagine, because she couldn't phantom anything like this.
It was that she knew that this should be her brother, but she didn't recognize him.
Part of his chest and face were blackened, resembling the color of charcoal. This contrasted with the round red swollen pieces of skin that were at the center of the wound. At some points there were pieces of robe sticking out of his wounds.
His face seemed to have lost most of it's features. His eyebrows were gone and the skin around the eyes was swollen, making it difficult to look into them.
All in all, a troll looked more beautiful and a hag would look more human-like.
Unable to think of anything better, she burst down in tears. Water rolled over her face blurring her vision. She wondered whether Fred could make a recovery. With the severity of the wounds she saw, she doubted it.
That was when she felt her Father's hand, on her shoulder. It was rather comfortable. "Don't worry Ginny. There are spells to treat burn wounds."
Not sure whether she believed it or not, she asked the first question that came up in her mind "Why aren't they used yet?"
"I don't know Ginny." Her father answered honestly. "Maybe we should ask Madame Pomfrey."
She was secretly being glad for the suggestion. Walking to the nurse would mean that she didn't have to look at the abomination. "Sure" she said, trying not to show the disgust she felt for the image of Fred. Maybe the professor was right and she should have stayed behind.
"Madame Pomfrey" her father started. "We were wondering if you could give us an update on the health of my children."
"Sure. The only one I know that has serious wounds is Fred. George and Harry are fine. Professor Snape is currently brewing a potion which should cure the burn wounds."
"That's a relief" her father told her. "So when will this potion be ready?"
"He will try to finish it before one O'clock. After that it takes a few hours to take effect. After that …"
Her mother interrupted the nurse and asked "Ah, so Fred will be like himself in no time?"
"His burn wounds will be treated. The skin will most likely be a tint paler, but that is not dangerous." the nurse told them. "However. I fear for his mental capabilities."
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" mum asked in a not so friendly tone.
"Well, according to Harry, Fred was found with a log near his head. If that thing knocked him unconscious, he may have a concussion or brain damage. As you may be aware, brain injuries is one of the few things magic cannot cure."
"WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FRED?"
"As I was saying, brain damage has been studied very little. Each injury is different from the others. To know for sure if and how this impacts Fred's abilities, we have to wait. I can imagine this is difficult. I can't help you giving this information sooner."
-= Stanley Bates, Monday 1 June 1992, Just after lunch=-
Stanley was very nervous. He had asked his boss, Roland Akers if he could talk to him, in private. The man agreed. Based on what he found in the boss's hidden notes, he thought it would be best to cooperate together. The problem was, that he shouldn't tell that he went through the boss's notes. That was why he needed to focus on his own finding. The question was whether the boss would believe him. It wouldn't help his career, if your boss thought you were mad.
That was why he was reciting the planned conversation in his head. He did that at least a dozen times since the start of the lunch break. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. This would be the moment that he gambled his career.
"Come in agent Bates."
"Good afternoon. I have a difficult case, where every question being answered leads to a dozen new questions."
"Okay, what is it about."
"Five unresolved reports on child abuse of the same child with most likely influence of some kind of organized crime. I also believe the parents of said child may have been murdered."
"That's an unusual combination of crimes for a case. Are you sure they are related?"
"Not completely of course, but let me tell what I found out."
"It all started, last year, when my son accidentally overheard two students. Hermione Granger was threatening Dudley Dursley's family with what I now believe to be a liquidation. Her words were something like that she would inform the other authorities."
"That is hardly enough to be called threatening with liquidation." the boss observed. "Aren't you making things up"
Damn. This was going the wrong way. He would need to present his findings before being questioned. "At first, I didn't believe it either. However, Dudley has a cousin, Harry Potter. His parents were most likely liquidated. If that happened, a thread of a second liquidation wouldn't be too far fetched."
He had deliberately omitted the method of liquidation. Knowing his boss, he would ask that question directly afterwards. When it did, he knew his answer would have a bigger impact.
"That is the strange thing. It isn't known. All we know is that it wouldn't be logical for both parents to have died of a heart attack in the same night."
"Did you say BOTH died of a heart attack?" his boss asked with renewed interest. Did his tactic work?
"Yes, but I don't think the death had been natural."
"Obviously not." His boss said. Let me check something.
He took his notebook out of the drawer and began looking through it. Stanley immediately recognised the book and knew what his boss would be looking for. This was going well. It was a smart movement to tell the man about the death, even though he read it from the same book.
"And Hermione knew about this?"
"I have no proof about that, but I do know that Hermione does know about Harry Potter. She had filed a case of child abuse against the Dursley's."
"That is hardly a crime."
"Let me rephrase that, There are four people who filed reports of child abuse against the Dursleys. she filed a case of child abuse, together with three other persons. In various cases, serious mistakes were made during investigation. The question is whether they were actual mistakes." He said that while handing him over the five reports together with his own notes.
After briefly looking through the five reports, his boss asked him "Stanley, what is your best guess how these mistakes happened."
"I guess money is involved, but I do not know from who to who."
"Why do you say that?"
"When I took my son from school, we overheard a conversation between Hermione and Vernon Dursley. In this conversation I learned a couple of things. First of all, Vernon kept something in his cupboard. He didn't want the freaks, whoever they are, to learn about it. Secondly, the freaks owed the Dursleys thirty-thousand pounds. My personal guess is that the Dursleys are drugs traders of some kind, but I cannot be sure."
"Is that all?"
"I think so. You do believe me?"
"Yes I do, but only because I once looked at a similar case. We need more evidence to even consider bringing them to court. I believe this to be big."
Stanley nodded "Given how the child abuse cases were closed, we may have an insider. I think it is wise to discuss this case on a need-to-know basis. Understood?"
"Good. I want to inform you about another strange case as they seem to be connected. Don't worry about interrupting me, as I welcome fresh ideas."
"Okay." Stanley said, having a pretty good idea what the case was. He had thought about some notes but didn't really have any new ideas. Maybe the description of his boss would trigger something.
"I have found, in the computer systems several families who were killed in a similar way. According to the medical records, all members died of a heart attack. The heart attack happened to all members of the family on the same evening."
"That is strange. Could it be carbon-monoxide that came free."
"That was my first idea as well. Still medical personnel can see the difference from it, using blood samples."
And that is done.
"According to the medical terms, yes. I have asked the doctors who signed the papers, whether they have an explanation."
"That is a wise decision. Why did they sign the papers?"
"They most likely didn't sign the papers. According to every single doctor I asked they don't remember any case. Some of them thought someone tried to fake him. One accused me that my 'prank' was going too far. A few thought someone was deliberately trying to end their careers."
"I suppose you have heard of the holocaust."
After seeing stanley nodding, his boss continued. "In many concentration camps, a lot of people were killed by the nazi regime. For the official records, they wrote down fake causes of death. One of the causes of death that was often used was heart attacks."
"So the doctors were afraid to be compared to the war crimes of Germany. After all if they are linked with that, it could end their careers." Stanley concluded "What do you think. Are the doctors responsible?"
"My gut feeling says no but I have no evidence to back it up."
"So someone is masking the true cause of deaths of innocent citizens."
"What can we do?"
"Unfortunately very little. From hard experience I know that it is very difficult getting any warrant in these kind of warrant in those strange cases."
"So, what do we do?"
"We cannot do anything right now. Instead we have to wait for an opportunity."
-= Charlotte Ryers, Wednesday 3 June 1992 =-
"Dudley" she asked, not knowing who else to turn to. She already tried asking Hermione multiple times about it, but her roommate evaded every answer. As Charlotte desperately wanted to know what was going on, she tried to look for other sources.
"Miss Ryers" the fat boy called him in a hateful tone. "Go back to your freaky friend Hermione"
"Please don't speak that tone to me." she told him. "I wanted to ask whether you could help me solve a mystery."
"Why me? I don't really like puzzles."
"Maybe, I am wrong, but I really hope you could give me some information. Hermione is acting strange this year. I have asked her about it, but she evades all answers."
"In what way?" The boy asked.
She really didn't want to tell that boy a lot. After all anything she would tell him, he could use against her. She settled for some public information though. "Just before the Christmas vacation, Hermione had an argument with you and your father. I didn't really understand a lot of it. I think you know more ."
The boy seemed to think for a bit before saying "I can't tell a lot about that. I guess there are questions I may be able to answer about other incidents though."
Great. The boy was fishing for information. What should she give? She shouldn't tell about the bucket of water. That would just be mean.
Could she tell about the things in her agenda? She didn't see any problem in that. "In Hermione's agenda there are several terms I don't understand. I would like to know what they mean."
"What kind of words?" The boy asked with worry in his voice. It was almost as if the boy didn't want to know.
"Well, I encountered charms practical …"
The boy shook his head in an unconvincing manner.
"… potions exam …"
The boy continued shaking his head. It was way too fast to be natural.
"… and trial Hagrid"
"WHAT? HAGRID? THAT BASTARD GAVE ME A …" He said in a very angry voice, before realizing that he shouldn't have said that.
"So you know Hagrid?"
"No I don't know him at all" the boy said in a worried voice. His anger was still there, but he was really trying to suppress it.
"But you just said that he gave you something. What did he give you?"
"I was confused with someone else." The boy said "But when was his trial?"
The boy was clearly lying, but she knew he wanted to know that date. After a few seconds of thinking, she realized that all trial dates are public anyway. She wouldn't give any secret away. Knowing this, she said. "Okay, we can make a deal. You tell me something about Hagrid and I will tell you the date of the trial."
"That's a deal." He said after a short time. He started a story, often stopping to think. "Hagrid is a very large … and evil man. The day I met him, he broke down our front door with it's bare hands. He … kidnapped my cousin and brought him to … London. … That was despite my parents explicit words, that he was not allowed to go. … A few weeks later, we were … attacked in our own house. The attackers … wore skull masks. The two men were … armed and they … hurt my father very much. We are lucky to be alive. I never want to have anything to do with those freaks again."
"Wow." She had to admit that it was a good story. She didn't believe half of what was told. Still she had to keep her part of the deal.
"The trial is on Friday 12 June 1992."
-= Quinn, Friday 5 June 1992, 7:23 PM =-
As the largest and most important gargoyle of Hogwarts, Quinn was proudly guarding the gate to the headmasters office. He stood still, like statues should stand still. Only his eyes moved slightly, making sure he knew exactly who was in the corridor.
In the corner of his eye, he saw a small man with a light-grey beard approach. The man looked like Filius Flitwick. After that, he heard the man's almost silent walking, typical for Flitwick. Most people he would hear before he could see them, but Flitwick's unusual walking pattern, made him almost silent for those without his superior hearing.
When the short man came closer, the distinct goblin-like smell entered his nose. This smell was typical for the smell Flitwick had.
He checked the castle magic for the name, which was Filius Flitwick. As all four sources agreed that it was Filius Flitwick, that was probably it's name.
Checking the name on the white-list revealed unsurprisingly that the man was on the white-list. Even though no modifications have been made to the list in the last 684 years and that every wizard and witch was on the list, he still had to follow the protocol.
It did make his life a bit boring, though. He would enjoy very much to ask whether the whitelist needed to be changed, but no that was no part of the protocol. He was not allowed to speak unless the headmaster asked him questions. And none of the last 17 headmasters did that.
As he was not allowed to speak, he erupted a silencing field and silently waited for a password.
The half-goblin answered with the correct password, the name of the red planet. According to protocol, he stepped aside and let the professor enter.
-= Filius Flitwick =-
Flitwick waited a few moments, before knocking on the door. Previous experience showed him that the headmaster always asked him in anyway. After half a minute, he became tired of it and raised his hand to knock.
That was the moment when the headmaster called him in. Slightly curious why he was called, he entered the office.
"Good Evening" he greeted his old friend. "Why did you call me?"
"What are your plans for Hagrid's trial on next friday?"
"I wish to attend it of course." he told the headmaster. "That means that I will not be able to keep an eye on the students. I hope that this will not be a problem."
"I will make sure there is sufficient staff, even if I have to hire some external people for the day."
"Thank you. It means a lot."
"You're welcome." The old man told him "As you know I will attend the trial myself as chief warlock."
If it wasn't for his goblin blood flowing through his veins, he knew he would feel much more pity for the old man. As chief warlock, he was expected to stay neutral through the trial. That would be difficult, for most humans, when the trial concerned a friend. Instead he didn't feel sorry for the man.
"I think you will do a good job." he told him.
"I will do my best." the old man answered back. "Unfortunately, due to my role, I cannot represent Hagrid during the trial."
"I understand." he told the headmaster, completely understanding his problem. "You wanted to know whether I wanted to represent Hagrid at the trial."
He could see the old man trying to come up with a lengthy answer, before he said a single word. "Yes"
It was time to name his price. "I will ask 6 sickles for sitting the trial, 18 sickles for researching his trial beforehand and a bonus of 5 galleons if I can get him free."
He knew that it wasn't really expensive, but his goblin blood didn't allow him doing these kind of things for free. In the goblin culture, it was an insult to someone's talent to request them doing something without pay. It told the other person that you didn't really value it. On the other hand, asking too much was a sign of greed, even if the other man offered it. Because he wasn't sure about his skills, he asked for a bonus if he could succeed. That would be the only honorable way.
"Would you ask money for trying to save a friend?" The headmaster asked, trying to play on his guild. Instead it made him feel angry for the insult that had been given.
Taking a deep breath, he tried to focus on a solution. His human blood did help him distinguish between insults on purpose and those that were accidentally made. Dumbledore clearly was in the second category.
There was only one answer possible. In a raised voice he spoke to the headmaster. "Based on the goblin values I was raised with, I learned that not paying someone is a lack of respect. Therefore I asked a price I thought to be fair. Know though that if it was someone I didn't like, the price would have been much higher. So, do you want to rent my service?"
"I can do the research of the trial. How will that affect the price."
"That will be 6 sickles for representing Hagrid during the trial. Should we win I will be entitled one fourth of the bonus of 5 galleons, rounded to the nearest knut. The other part of the bonus goes to you. Is that a deal?"
"Yes, that is a deal."
-= Dudley Dursley, Monday 8 June 1992 =-
In primary school Dudley didn't have to do any work. His cousin did his homework and sometimes even his tests in the same way as he was made doing chores at home. It was the freaks duty to make sure he succeeded at classes.
He expected Smeltings to be the same. Somehow he didn't realize that his cousin wouldn't go and he assumed that he would find a way not to do his homework. He didn't know how wrong he would be.
Because of the absence of the Potter boy he needed to find an alternative victim. His second plan had been to bully a smart student like he used to bully his cousin. He or she would do his homework.
His initial target had been a black haired girl called Angie Harden. She was smart, shy and easy to bully. For a few weeks she did what she was supposed to. She made his homework and his marks were good. Based on the marks of the assignments, he didn't need to score that well on the actual tests to get a decent average.
Then Hermione Granger began to meddle with his life, ruining it. If she would just try to bully him, he would have made sure she was thought a lesson. Instead, she threatened him and his family that he had to stop his 'bullying'. Not that he was really doing that. It was more like punishing people for not doing his homework. It was similar to how his father punished Harry when he didn't do his chores. There was nothing wrong with that. What right did that girl have to say what he was or wasn't allowed to do? What right did she have to break the family tradition?
Unable to do much about her, he had been in several detentions for not doing his homework. At the tests before the Christmas break he had scored badly. He only scored a sufficient for PE.
After Christmas he had started to make homework. It would stop the detentions and he actually saved time with it. He had to do something to hand in and if nobody else made it, then he had to do it. Surprisingly he did feel more attached to the work when it was handed back. Even more surprising was that the homework became easier over time.
Still this didn't mean that he would not take revenge on that Granger girl. He had been planning for a long time, but it was difficult. It needed to be something that would expel Hermione and that wasn't easy to link back to him.
When he found out, that the school had a strict anti-drugs policy, he came up with a brilliant plan. He had already bought the materials.
During the gymnastics lesson on Friday the 12th he would sneak into the changing room. In Hermione's bag, he would place some illegal 'drugs'. Later that day, he would give an anonymous hint. That would bring problems to Hermione. If that influenced the trial of Hagrid, it was all the better. After all that evil man did give him a pigs tail.
A/n: Sorry, for not letting much happen in this scene. I had to prepare the pieces for the day of Hagrid's trial. Given how much chaos I am planning, I doubt I will be able to fit it in one chapter.
As a side-note I started improving my earlier chapters. I make no major changes but just improve the writing. Was I really that bad? Am I still that bad or did I improve. I really hope I did.