Thanks to nxkris for pointing out I originally put up the wrong chapter
"What is the difference between transfiguration and a transformation?" Harry asked, standing at the front of our OWL level transfiguration class as part of his trial period. It was a few days before the Ministry award ceremony and the following interview. McGonagall had invited Harry in to assess his abilities.
Hermione's hand shot up. I hesitated, I suspected I knew the answer but it was probably cheating if I answered seeing as Harry had tutored me before. I glanced around the room and spotted Daphne's hand raised. Harry had spotted it and I saw his expression flicker as he forced a smile back onto his face having been caught by surprise by her presence. He gestured to her to answer and I could hear Hermione whimper in disappointment.
"A perfect transformation is the changing of something into something else. It is a permanent and perfect change meaning that the final object could not be identified in any way from another object. Transfigurations can be reversed." Daphne supplied.
"For the most part that does answer the question but I have a simpler version. In your OWLs there is a theory section, you could try and memorise the whole lot or you could learn it from first principles. This is one of the most basic. Transfiguration is a lie. My favourite, most varied and most interesting lie but still a lie."
Hermione looked outraged but I knew what Harry meant.
"Name the most well known exception to Gamp's Law." Harry instructed. Hermione almost bounced out of her seat as she tried to get Harry's attention. Sighing and shaking his head slightly he allowed her to answer.
"You cannot create food." Hermione answered, it was an unusually succinct answer for Hermione.
"Indeed." Confirmed Harry. "A brick is a brick, you can transfigure it into a loaf of bread but it remains a brick. It behaves like bread, it smells like bread it probably even tastes like bread but it is still a brick. Nutritionally once broken down it is a brick. No matter how good your transfiguration, no matter how well you lie to everyone's senses you haven't changed the essence of it. It doesn't really matter if you believe in Plato's forms but somehow there is a quality to non-transfigured objects that defines them at a level beyond our comprehension. As you have likely discovered or been taught, the more you know about an object the easier it is to transfigure, this concept is not understood and so it cannot be transfigured. Transfiguration does not change what something actually is and therefore it is a lie."
Harry took some time to let that sink in. He turned to the board and with a wave of his wand the first-year laws we learnt about transfiguration appeared along with a commentary about them.
"Copy this down." Harry instructed. "As you write consider what they meant in a practical sense."
I got to work as did the rest of the class. It was different to McGonagall who expected us to simply know and understand the classical definitions but Harry had tried to make them as simple as possible and his commentary explained them in language fit for use in this century. The only noise in the room was the scratching of quills. Harry was using the time to lay out a few materials, likely to be transfigured. As the scratching stopped Harry stood at the front of the class again.
"Alright, now let's apply those principles. Take what I have said about transfiguration being a lie and see if that helps you take those most basic laws and from them derive the more complicated ones. As a practical exercise I have given you some material. Using chain transfigurations and the law regarding the similarity of objects your aim to end up with a pheasant. A complicated transfiguration, make it simpler by chaining together a set of transfigurations. Link together a set of simpler transfigurations. You are allowed to do this on your OWL but it caps you at an Exceeds Expectations. If you don't feel comfortable pushing for the Outstanding this is a viable alternative."
A gnarled root was placed in front of me. Hermione had a pebble. I looked around, Malfoy was glaring at a child's doll and Daphne had a miniature chair. I stared at the root trying to plan a path to a pheasant. I was confident I could do it in two steps. First wooden root into wooden statue of a pheasant then transfigure that into a living pheasant. Hermione wasn't even trying, instead she had her hand in the air similar to when Umbridge had first started teaching.
"Yes?" Harry asked, his voice revealing his frustration at dealing with Hermione.
"I believe I can do this in one step." Hermione informed him.
"You likely can. I suspect several in this class can. I certainly could at your age but is that what I have asked you to do?" Harry replied, clearly unimpressed.
"No but," Hermione started but Harry interrupted.
"Could you make it easier by doing it in stages?"
"Yes but," Hermione tried again.
"And is that not what I have asked the class to do?" Harry checked.
"It is." Conceded Hermione.
"Then you are not incapable of completing the task set." Harry concluded.
"Yes but I'm more advanced than this." Hermione pushed.
"And if I gave you a sheet of copper and asked for an elephant?" Harry asked.
"Well no, but that's beyond NEWT level." Hermione protested.
"But could you do it in stages, even now?" asked Harry.
"Probably." Hermione stated defending herself.
"Then you are missing the point of this exercise. I am not testing the limits of your skills. I am reminding you all of some basic transfiguration principles. Some of this class may not continue this subject to NEWT level but this concept, taught in second year allows them to complete transfigurations above their level. It is a fundamental skill that is often overlooked due to the speed offered in single stage transfiguration. Your competency isn't in question; however you are holding up the class by refusing to complete a simple exercise."
Hermione quietened down after that and I saw Malfoy looking like his smug self again. Something that had been lacking since the death of his father. Despite the less than ideal situation that lead to it, a lack of Malfoy smugness wasn't a bad thing.
Soon after that exchange the class room was full of pheasants. Some still had flaws but it was clear to most that the exercise had been a success. After the spat with Hermione Harry had wandered the class offering tips and corrections. I'd competed the task quickly and had nothing to do until Harry had untransfigured the work of anyone who'd completed the task and asked them to try again but removing one step. For me that meant I was doing it in one. The feathers had a slight grain pattern to them but it was good enough.
I'd wanted to linger and speak to Harry after the class but McGonagall was speaking to him as the class left the room and Hermione looked like she was fuming. I got dragged along by her so she could rant to me about how Harry was holding the class up to cater to inept idiots.
Harry taught a few more classes across several years over the next few days. Mostly to positive reception. A few thought he was too young. A few thought he was insulting with how he kept pushing everyone back to the basics. I wasn't sure that it mattered as it was up to McGonagall if he got the job.
The Ministry atrium had been repurposed for the award ceremony. The security gates had been removed and the whole space had been opened up. A podium had been erected in front of the lift and there were security in the form of aurors and hitwizards spread around the edges. I was escorted to the Minister by a pair of aurors, one of which was a little star struck to meet me. It was strange following behind him. If I hadn't stopped Voldemort, then this young auror might well be dead. He wouldn't have the experience to survive. If he was star-struck by me then what mess would have Bellatrix LeStrange made of him?
The Minister's table where I would be seated as a guest of honour was nearest the podium. Amongst the other people sitting on the table were Dumbledore and the Chief Editor of the Daily Prophet. The Senior Undersectary was hosting another table a short distance away for 'valued members of the community,' which I took to be the biggest donners and I was expected to shake hands with them all later. The Minister himself had provided every table with a free bottle of his family's firewhisky to help everyone get in the spirit of things.
The first speech of the night came from the Minister himself. It was long winded and prattled on about the virtues of hard work and solidarity in trying times. How his ministry would cast aside the flaws of the previous system and how it would come down hard on crime but promote innovation and the advancement of magic. It all sounded all well and good but he was a politician so I'd have to judge him by his actions not his words.
In a more sober, almost glum tone, the Minister invited Dumbledore up to give a speech about the events that led us here tonight. About the fall of Voldemort. Dumbledore rose, with a gracefulness that belied his age and with his long strides he glided to the stage. While the Minister may have been sober Dumbledore didn't even try to hide his sadness. The elderly wizard's grief was clear to all as he took his place behind the lectern on the small podium.
"I have been asked to speak about the fall of Voldemort." Dumbledore paused as numerous people made noises of protest at the use of the name. "I have always believed that the best place to begin a story is at the beginning. We shall therefore begin with a young boy. A boy called Tom Marvolo Riddle. I first met Tom when I delivered his Hogwarts letter. Even at that age Tom had an unusual grasp of his magic and what could perhaps be described as disturbing tendencies. Tom was born to a witch from an old and noble line which had fallen upon hard times although it was mostly through their own fault. His father was a handsome muggle who had been ensnared through a love potion. For some reason that I have failed to learn Tom's mother ceased her bewitchment and Tom's father left her, pregnant and alone. She died shortly after giving birth and named the boy after his father. Tom grew up in a muggle orphanage where he discovered his magic and used it to his advantage. From what I have learnt it was a tough and loveless childhood where he learnt that what he wanted he had to take from others through various means." Dumbledore paused. I was confused, I had expected to talk about the nobility of the fallen not a sob story about Voldemort.
"Hey." A voice next to me greeted.
"Hey." I replied happily as Harry slipped into the seat next to me. "How'd you get here?" I asked "And what happened to," I leant forwards and read the nameplate in front of Harry which he tapped his name against and transfigured it to match his name. "That guy." I finished.
"Well really the aurors should be better and resisting a confundus and the other man who was meant to have this seat has completely forgotten the date and will likely feel awful about it tomorrow." Harry explained. "I sat through one of these in my own time. Daphne was the only thing that stopped me leaving so I thought you'd want some company."
I was about to ask about Fleur or thank him for coming, probably both but Dumbledore had started to speak again.
"When he arrived at Hogwarts Tom quickly became a favourite of the teachers. He was, and I do not use this lightly but Tom was a prodigy. From his childhood, he had learnt to lie and to hide, he was charming and unfailingly polite to all that he wanted something from and ruthless to those that opposed him. In his fifth-year Tom opened the Chamber of Secrets and that led to the death of Myrtle Warren. Though even at the time I had suspected him it was only recently that I received true proof that it was he who was responsible. I believe that was the first death he was responsible for. I do not know when he began his decent into true darkness but by the time he was sixteen he had begun to search for methods of immortality, no matter the cost. That search defined Tom as he transformed into Lord Voldemort. His fear of death lead him to become something less than human."
I glanced round and the audience seemed fixated on Dumbledore's tale. I wasn't sure how much of this they had ever heard before.
"Power, it is a hard to define term but it is something almost all of us seek. Tom became obsessed with it and allowed himself to be consumed by his quest." Dumbledore continued. "Power became Tom's way to measure worth. Not goodness nor anything we use but power. Magic gave him power, muggles have no magic therefore for Tom they had no power and therefore no worth. His muggle father abandoned him, his mother perished soon after. Tom saw this as his muggle father corrupting the power of his mother. She became weak, she succumbed to death. Muggles ruined magic, they made it weak. It is perhaps no surprise then that Tom sought to purge all muggle influence from magic. His power was undeniable and his war against those he deemed weak took the country to its knees for a decade. One night a miracle happened, Voldemort attacked the Potters. Personally, and alone. The reason, there had been a prophecy made about one with the power to stop the Dark Lord. What happened then we all know. The Potters died but their young daughter survived. Voldemort struck down but remember, he feared death and had taken unnatural measures to prevent it. He fled, weakened but not dead that night. Over a decade later he returned. The prophecy we knew meant that Rose Potter must defeat the Dark Lord, only she had the power. Alas it was a terrible burden to put on one's shoulders, especially one so young."
I could feel the room's eyes on me as Dumbledore spoke. Journalists were likely recording every word. Harry next to me was rigid, clearly uncomfortable but his presence was something I could draw strength from.
"Rose learnt about the prophecy before I wanted her to. If I had had my way, then she would have been ignorant and lived in bliss. She grew up with her muggle aunt to keep her separated from her fame and to have a normal childhood. Learning of the prophecy she acted, she helped undo the unnaturalness that preserved Voldemort. She rendered him mortal before planning to draw him out and confront him. Several friends of ours gathered together to buy her the time to do what must be done. All of them heroes. All of them the latest in a long line of those who have opposed the darkness. Each death a tragedy, remember them all remember their story. The Minister has asked me to talk about the fall of Voldemort and I want you to all remember that it was a tragedy. Death is not something to be feared nor is it something to be sought. Some will celebrate the death of a Dark Lord. I will morn for those that died. I will morn for what Tom Riddle, the misguided prodigy, could have become, I will morn for the loss of innocence for a young girl who should never have had to kill another person." Dumbledore's blue eyes, always so alert and filled with merriment were now cold as he gazed out into the audience. "We are here to celebrate living because others did not. Do not forget the cost others have paid for you to be here."
With that Dumbledore left the stage. There was a stunned silence before Harry clapped first leading others to join in. It wasn't joyous like the applause when someone other than Slytherin won the house cup but it was respectful. Dumbledore steadily made his way to the table while the applause continued.
As Dumbledore reached the table a huge explosion rocked the atrium. The floos all turned green as people in dark Death Eater regalia flooded into the atrium.
"Our Lord may have fallen by out cause lives on!" One of them dramatically declared. They couldn't not be the bad guys if they tried. Since when have skulls on outfits ever meant good things?
"Rose, I will do my best to protect the innocent. Keep yourself safe." Dumbledore commanded as he drew his wand.
Looking out across the room I saw that the audience was panicking as the Death Eaters first volley of spells impacted on the hastily erected shields of the aurors. The crowd wasn't helping them as the Death Eaters were between them and the floo meaning they were rushing around and causing trouble for their defenders. I could see Dumbledore making his way through the crowd. His presence and bright robes making him a clear rallying point as the Death Eaters shot Killing Curses at the crowd. The aurors could do nothing but return curses and hope that people got out of the way but the sea of people meant that was unlikely.
"Cover your ears!" Harry shouted over the noise from beside me. Doing as he said I watched as he raised his wand high and it let out an awful screeching noise that rang in my ears. It was painful to listen to and it seemed others thought so too as people staggered momentarily. Harry had grimaced but kept it going. I took the seconds Harry had bought to access the situation a bit more. The crowd couldn't leave, the only ways out of the atrium this evening were the floo and the elevators and you couldn't fit many people into those at a time. Long story short there was no way out, the Death Eaters had to be stopped. A large contingent of the aurors were protecting the Minister and were at the opposite end of the atrium to Death Eaters. With the tables and the guests, they couldn't get involved and they were protecting the Minister as they headed to the elevators to secure him somewhere safe. Dumbledore had animated some of the tables to act as shields but with all the people around he couldn't get a clear shot of the Death Eaters and had to focus on protecting people.
"We have to help." I told Harry as he ended his spell as people began to shake off its effects and start casting again. He nodded in response as he looked around, he whipped his wand up and started casting a familiar spell at everyone nearby.
"What are you doing to them?" I asked as the crowd started to thin at let us get towards the fight.
"Confunding them so they think the podium will hide them."
It wasn't true but if they believed it and hid then they created more space for us to fight in. I quickly began to cast the same spell. I wasn't as practiced with the spell but everyone I hit with it looked dazed for a few moments before hurrying back towards the back and away from the fight.
It didn't take long for us to arrive at the front. A few aurors had fallen and I could see a few bodies on the ground wearing expensive dress robes. On the other side most of the Death Eaters were still standing. They hadn't been hampered by the panicking crowd or unclear rules of engagement. Beside me Harry opened up with a huge jet of high pressure water blasting an unprepared Death Eater off his feet. Two flicks of Harry's wand first solidified the water into a cage of ice trapping the Death Eater before it rippled and became stone. I didn't hesitate slinging a simple disarming charm at another Death Eater but he slapped it aside contemptuously but not quickly enough to stop the banisher that slammed into his side from a nearby hitwizard. I glanced around looking for where I could help the most. To my right Dumbledore was single handily holding back four Death Eaters as he wove together his spells each one being the perfect balance of offense and defence. His transfiguration and animation meant that everything near him was of use as he weaved in stunning spells and the odd hex to pick of the weaker Death Eaters.
There couldn't have been more than twenty or thirty Death Eaters at the start and as Harry sent a curse at the back of one of the Death Eaters fighting Dumbledore that number dropped to around ten. Good news but the number of aurors had fallen even lower. The ones closest to the floos had been overwhelmed quickly and a lot of the auror contingent had been protecting the minister. Some hitwizards remained but they weren't as much use indoors since they weren't free to blast away.
I ducked under a curse but it blasted the hitwizard behind me off his feet. I couldn't do anything to help him but I shot a stunner back towards the Death Eater whilst mentally thanking Wood for his paranoia and crazy training that had given me ridiculous special awareness. If only that hitwizard had been paying attention too.
With a thud the stunner impacted on a shield and I realised the other fights had moved off to the side as a jet of fire forced everyone to scatter leaving me alone. With an underarm flick I flung a circular table at the Death Eater, mid-air I transfigured it into a weighted net. I was able to recognise the curse the Death Eater had sent at me and counter it before it hit me. The Death Eater hadn't been able to stop the net and was trying to wriggle out of it and did nothing to stop my stunner knocking him out. Probably a relative of Crabbe or Goyle. I sent a disarming charm and a rope binding spell at the downed figure to secure him and ensure he was out of the fight. Looking around I saw the edge of the flash from Dumbledore's area of effect stunner as the fight ended. It was carnage. With the broken tables and burn marks on the wall the Atrium looked worse than when Voldemort fell. A tired looking Dumbledore made his way over with Harry trailing behind.
"Alas a tragedy has occurred tonight. My only hope is that what we saw here tonight were the final remnants of Voldemort's forces and now we may begin our era of peace."
I looked to Dumbledore without comment. I wasn't overly tired physically but I suddenly felt so weary. I had allowed myself to think it was all over. That others could rebuild and I could live. Tonight had been a humbling reminder that there were still some out there that wished only harm on others.
"It's not over yet." Harry replied grimly. "There will be more. Some with families that will feel betrayed by the Ministry, resentment will fester on both sides and it will all flare up again."
"Education will be the key. Teach them that they can work together, teach them about the other so they can understand, so they can accept them for what they are?"
"And if they reject your teachings?" Harry pushed.
"You have an alternative?" Dumbledore enquired.
"Listen to them. Envy and jealousy help define humanity. No matter the outcome someone will feel wronged and want more. Greed motivates us, it allows us to reach for more, to advance. They need an outlet to vent. Give them an easily recognised battlefield so they keep their messes away from the rest of us." Harry replied.
"Accept them for what they are and seek to separate them?" Dumbledore checked.
"You can't change them when they don't want to change. Unless you can make people behave, and I don't want to live in a world without the freedom to disagree, then conflict will always arise. You can't manage human nature, you can manage the nature of their conflicts."
I was too tired get involved in a philosophical discussion about the nature of humanity, I did however just want to go to bed.
"Can we go home?" I asked. I sounded whiny and tired but they listened and stopped their discussion.
"I shall check with the Minister but it is likely this event shall be suspended, in which case it will be more than acceptable to return to Hogwarts. Harry, if you wish Hogwarts would prepare a room for you." Dumbledore offered.
"No thank you. I have a wonderful witch to return to." Harry replied. "This evening has been far more eventful than I expected and I'll have some explaining to do." He sighed.
"I do not envy your position." Returned Dumbledore with a smile.
"Say hi to Fleur for me." I added as Harry moved towards the floos scowling at the Death Eaters on the floor.
"To the Minister then?" Dumbledore enquired gesturing towards the lifts. I nodded and together we made her way through the carnage and past the confused crowd who were trying to work out why they had thought the small podium would protect them.
The Minister was in his office with several aurors posted outside. It didn't take long for Dumbledore to talk his way past them and get us into the office. A bottle of firewhisky was open on the Minister's desk and the man himself looked far from amused.
"Ah Dumbledore, Potter, what a disaster. An attack on the Ministry when we're meant to be celebrating the end of any attacks." The Minister grumbled.
"Indeed." Confirmed Dumbledore. "I take it we are free to leave?"
"Yes, you're the lucky ones. Me and this lot are staying, I've received reports that several of the bastards were taken alive. Bones is on her way in and we're going to be interrogating them all night long."
"Good night and good luck Minister."
"Good night." I added.
"Go, get some rest. We'll speak again soon." Replied the Minister tiredly. With that we left. We passed straight by the carnage and travelled by floo to Hogwarts. The castle was quiet when we returned, Dumbledore said nothing as he collapsed into the throne like chair behind his desk. I lingered in the doorway wondering if I should say anything but the need to curl up and sleep was strong. To escape from what just happened and rest in blissful sleep. In the morning the rest of the school would learn what had happened and I didn't to face them if I didn't sleep. Even having witnessed people died tonight I was feeling fatigued enough I knew I would find sleep quickly. I gave a nod and a forced smile and slipped out of Dumbledore's office and headed to my room.
The news broke at breakfast with the arrival of the owls bringing the morning post. The Daily Prophet was finished late enough at night that news had reached them. They'd even managed to get comments from Madam Bones confirming that they were indeed Death Eaters who'd launched that attack. They'd also managed to get together a casualty count and it wasn't good reading. Four aurors and five hitwizards were dead with several more hospitalised. Fourteen witches and wizards who had been guests had also died. Some of them showed no signs of being cursed and had been trampled in the panic. The Minister had commended the bravery of the aurors and Hitwizards with special thanks to myself, Dumbledore and a man matching Harry's description that they lacked a name for.
I could feel the hall's eyes on me as I stared at the newspaper in front of me that I had long since finished reading but I was avoiding acknowledging anyone else.
"What happened?" Hermione asked by my side blowing that plan out of the water.
"Bad things." I replied, still staring at the paper. I knew I wasn't being a good friend but I didn't want to talk about it and I wasn't being subtle about that. Either Hermione was deliberately ignoring that or she was completely inept at social interactions.
"Yes, but what happened, I though Voldemort was gone."
"Yes, but the world is full of idiots and sometimes they emerge from the woodwork and remind us that they exist." I replied. She almost certainly knew what had happened and why, having read the paper but was asking in desperation to find an explanation to something she didn't want to accept. It would be easier if everything had a meaning, a purpose. The Death Eaters hadn't tried to escape, it had basically been a suicide mission but I doubt they thought that far ahead, they had attacked the Ministry on the night that was meant to be reminding us of their downfall. They had sent their message, they were not gone.
"I just don't understand." Hermione admitted in a quiet voice. To some extent I was with her on that.
"Can you ever understand stupidity or ignorance?" I asked half-heartedly. She paused to think about that and I used the opportunity to grab my bag and slip out of the hall and head towards class. I knew people would stare and others would talk but it would pass, hopefully.
My first class was History of Magic, the class went normally which meant that most people dozed through it. I had been dreading some people using the opportunity to talk to me but it seemed sleep was a more attractive option.
At lunch a nervous Hufflepuff first year approached me with a note from Dumbledore asking me to stop by his office. Having potions after lunch I was fine skipping class for it. The Minister was in Dumbledore's office when I arrived as was a bookish looking man with a quill out. He was introduced as a writer from the Daily Prophet who had been selected to interview me. I guiltily used a touch of legilimency to slip into the journalist's thoughts. Thankfully he was planning on being honest in his article. He was a little bit too excited to meet the Girl-Who-Lived but it shouldn't interfere with his ability to do his job.
"Are we ready to begin?" Asked Mr Smudgely, the journalist.
Dumbledore looked to me then nodded at the reporter.
"Alright, lets begin. Miss Potter, could you tell us about your reactions to learning about the now widely known prophecy concerning you and You-Know-Who?"
I took a moment to think before I replied knowing I could be quoted on every word.
"Well my initial reactions were rather negative." I admitted. "I think I always knew it would come down to him and I but to hear it confirmed was disturbing. For over fifteen years he's been trying to kill me and for most people that might not seem like much but for me it's a lifetime. He's was extremely talented and I knew it. When I first got my wand Ollivander commented that he was 'great, terrible but great.' I think that might have been one of the best summaries I've heard. Knowing that it was me who had to stop him was scary for sure but I had good people around me."
It was the best answer I could give without adding too much in the way of opinions. I didn't want to say anything too controversial.
"Thank you, now tell me a bit about your plans when you learnt of the Prophecy."
"Well I'd already tried to learn a bit more before the year started. The Prophecy said it was up to me to stop him but I already knew he wanted me dead and obviously I didn't want that to happen and so I'd started to prepare before that." I replied.
"Okay then, please tell us about your plans for stopping He who must not be named."
"The first step was to be honest. I had to accept the reality of the situation. Voldemort was a talented wizard and a powerful one, his supporters were often well funded and talented wizards. The Minister at the time was holding back the DMLE who I'm sure otherwise would have done their jobs. I was almost alone and I was inexperienced." I explained.
"That sounds hard, with such a bleak outlook how did you move forwards?" Smudgley asked.
"I had a friend sit down and tell me that to survive I had to stop Voldemort. He also told me that there are thousands of way to kill a man and all I had to do is find one that works. Voldemort was talented and powerful, he wasn't all knowing. He was prideful and predictably arrogant meaning he could be exploited. Voldemort was a cruel twisted man but still a man and a man could be killed."
Smudgley scratched away with his quill writing down every word.
"Did you ever doubt you could do it?" He asked.
"I did doubt, there were lots of times I doubted it. I was fifteen and he was a full blown Dark Lord who held his own against Dumbledore. I think if I hadn't doubted ever then I wouldn't be giving Voldemort the respect he earnt." I told him.
"What are you thoughts on Voldemort's cause?" Smudgely asked. I saw the Minister fidget slightly in his seat and I knew what he wanted me to say.
"I don't know really." I confessed. "Whether or not he raised a real issue that effected the wizarding world I think his methods devalued anything he had to say. I don't have an issue with anyone's blood. I tend to judge them on their actions. Voldemort's supporters were evil and wicked. That doesn't meant they were idiots but it does mean that now people will shun blood purists. I think now more than ever we need to unite to move forwards, to raise any issues we have in a constructive way."
I could see the Minister sigh with relief as Smudgely wrote down my words. I felt it was a good neutral answer that called for discussion.
"How would you respond to those that are upset with how lenient you seem towards blood-purists?"
"I think they're being short sighted. I don't like blood purity. That doesn't mean that I don't think that they might bring something to our society. We are the wizarding world, we have our own separate history and I think we should respect that. If we punish the reasonable people who hold those views for the actions of some psychopaths, then we risk alienating them and restarting the fighting down the line."
Smudgely nodded as he scribbled as if he agreed, or he might be thinking he had some good material, I didn't feel the need to peek into his mind to be sure.
"Do you have any words for those that look to you for advice?"
I sighed slightly. I didn't want people to look for me for advice but this was a chance to do some good.
"Things have been hard but Voldemort never returned properly we haven't lost the progress made in the last decade so everyone should calm down. The Death Eaters are on trial and the DMLE needs our support. They are good people doing a hard job. I think we need to be a bit more accepting, wands are a right and a privilege but we might be a bit too free to point them at those we disagree with."
"Wise words. Headmaster, Minister do you have anything to add?" Smudgely asked. Ogden looked to Dumbledore before speaking.
"I think Miss Potter has done a grand job. The most important thing she has done is fought against a man who told us what to think. We need to realise that she has granted us the power to hold our own ideals. As minister, I have a duty to you all and it is my job to make this country the best it can be. I need to know what means to you all."
"Headmaster?" Smudgely prompted.
"I think that Rose has said several wise things. As I have previously announced I will be stepping back from the public eye at the end of the year. I beseech you all to not load her with expectation. She is a young girl with a bright future. Let her grow." Dumbledore commented.
"Thank you all, I'll be off to get this all written up then." And with nods to the room Smudgely took the floo away leaving the three of us in the office.
The Minister sighed as the man left and sank back into his chair. I wondered if he'd managed to get any sleep. It must have been hard for him. He held ultimate responsibility over the wizarding nation of Great Britain. All deaths, all arrests and judgements reflect on him. It was a burden and a responsibility, Fudge saw it as a path to power and a privilege.
"Thank you, Miss Potter." The Minister sighed.
"Not a problem." I told him. It was true. I didn't like the press, not after my experiences with Skeeter but the chance to miss potions with Snape not to mention avoid the stares of my class mates for a few hours was too good to pass up. The article would cause new stares but I'd agreed to it a while ago. "Has Madam Bones learnt anything?" I asked.
The Minister stared at me, seizing me up. I returned the stare, mentally focusing on something to the exclusion of all else, my occlumency meaning I was scarily good at staring contests. He broke first.
"They were mostly the dregs and true extremists. We got a few names of other Death Eaters that had told them that it was over and they needed to move on. We're going to bring them in and interview them but depending on their crimes its likely fines over prison. If they truly have moved on or at least are prepared to then we have to bring them back into the field. These idiots will probably be the last of the true Death Eaters we'll have to deal with but they might have some inspired some fools."
I nodded as I processed that.
"So, its over?" I checked, my tone hopeful.
"We can only hope that the fighting is over. Rebuilding and stopping it happening again is going to be ongoing for years if not forever." The Minister replied.
"Well I wish you the best of luck with that, perhaps it might be best for you to get some rest." Dumbledore offered.
"Too true. I've been up for far too long and I'm too old to stay doped up on potions." The Minister replied rising out of his seat. "Alright, I'm off. I don't know when we'll be in touch again so stay safe and all that."
After he had disappeared into the floo Dumbledore took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose as Fawkes trilled encouragement.
"Do you believe Mr Potter would be willing to cover the Defence position till the end of the year? Madam Bones is willing to offer the position to any of the aurors injured last night who may wish to resign from active duty but they won't start till next year." Asked Dumbledore.
"I don't know, have you asked him?" I replied.
"Ah, perhaps that might be best. It is an interesting relationship I share with Mr Potter, I do believe we could be friends and at times he so easily slips into that but at times he seems so cautious. I am myself and an aspect of myself is responsible for the loss of everything he valued. I therefore prefer not to bother him." Dumbledore explained.
"I'd ask him. I don't know what he does with himself these days and he seems happy enough to teach transfiguration. I know he'd good at Defence but he doesn't love it in the same way he loves transfiguration." I told him. Harry preparing the class for OWLs would be interesting given his contempt for examinations and theory in general. He definitely knew his stuff but his approach often lent on his talent and brilliance.
"Fawkes would you be willing to invite Mr Potter to my office?" He asked the majestic bird which gave a trill in response but I could feel the acceptance of a positive responds in the phoenix's song. "Well I believe that is everything for today Rose. Remember we have a lesson planned for Thursday evening."
I took the dismissal for what it was and with a goodbye I left him. I returned to my room unwilling to go to the last few minutes of potions. Daphne being a Slytherin was in potions where I was meant to be so I had the suite to myself for a bit. Sitting on our sofa I just wanted to curl up and have a nap but I had Care of Magical Creatures later and I couldn't skip Hagrid's class. I had slept well last night but it was as much passing out as sleeping. Tonight would be harder, tonight I would have the energy to dream and I'd be surprised if my mind didn't wander to the carnage from the attack on the Atrium.
Having taken Runes and Arithmancy not Care Daphne came back to the room as I was leaving. I had almost dozed off and so was running late and didn't have time to chat. I made it just in time for Hagrid's class.
Smudgely's article came out the next day at breakfast. I was slightly annoyed at the stares but at least this way they all came at once. In a few days it would all be cleared up and they'd have something new to gossip about. The paper also contained the outcomes of the initial round of trials, the ones for the Death Eaters who fought under the Ministry. They had all been found guilty and their punishments were interesting. Every single one had their personal vault seized but any family funds left alone with surviving family being warned that their money was not safe if they were found funding other terrorist groups. Several of them had been given life in Azkaban but none of them were to be executed regardless of their crimes. Having spent even a small amount of time in the company of Dementors I personally felt that was worse.
Harry acquiesced to Dumbledore's request to cover the Defence position but with some conditions. Namely that Harry was free to come into Hogwarts to teach but he was then free to leave whenever he wasn't. Half an hour after that I had access to his office's floo and was free to come and go as I wished. McGonagall hadn't been overly happy with this. She saw it as a violation of tradition but deemed it an acceptable arrangement provided that Harry would live at the castle full time if he became a member of the senior staff. I regularly visited the Retreat in the evenings and Fleur was invaluable preparing for my OWLs. Daphne came with me a few times as she and Fleur got on well.
All stares started to settle down as time passed. By the time the exams started the fifth and seventh years were so deep into their studies that they didn't have time for gossip and nobody really listened to the younger years that much. Hermione and I were never as close after Ron's death. I wanted to move on and she wanted to know more. The Weasleys as a family stayed close with me but without one my age we did drift a bit. The twins shop and my investment in it however meant that we were at least in some way tied together. Harry's move to the transfiguration teaching position was well received and the auror who lost an arm in the Atrium Attack was a popular defence teacher. The witch that taught potions was strict but she wasn't Snape and that won the vast majority of the school over instantly.
There were times when I dreaded sleep, times I would get forced to remember the feeling of killing someone. Times I was forced to re-watch one of my best friends get beheaded in my sleep and there were times I dreamt of the Atrium but all in all I had to say things were on the way up. I was the girl-who-lived. I was now the girl-who-survived. If I died happy then I could safely say I was the girl-who-won.