Title: Hogwarts Protection System
Main Characters: HP (no pairing), Amelia Bones, Sirius Black
Summary: If there are intent-based protective wards such as Albus erected around the Dursleys, how would Hogwarts be if it had some?
Disclaimer: As usual, the HP universe is owned by someone commonly known as JKR, and possibly some corporations too. I'd like to hope that you already know that I'm not her or them. I'm just having a little fun without profit, although I'd happily accept a donation from JKR because I'm such a nice guy. :)
(A/N: Life has left me almost no time to write for the last 6 months or so, :( but I've found a little time lately so here you go. The idea for this little flight of fantasy has been on my hard drive for about 4 years and I'm finally letting it escape. I hope you enjoy it.
Also, it seems I haven't looked at my email for this site in something like 3 months. So if you were expecting a reply to a PM, please be patient; I will get to it as soon as I can.)
Hogwarts Protection System
Harry Potter entered the Great Hall with the rest of the first years. He stood in the middle of the group, trying to hide for as long as he could. He was reasonably sure his fame was going to cause issues, based on his experience in Diagon Alley and on the train.
He spared only a brief glance at Professor McGonagall striding toward the front of the large hall as he was busy looking around at the amazing place. The floating candles held his attention the most. Whispering from the Granger girl next to him caused him to look at ceiling and he really could see the moon and some stars on it just as he had when he had been outside.
Suddenly, a deep gonging sound started and red script spelling "HPS" started to blink on the ceiling. It startled Harry as much as everyone else, even the professors. A moment later, the seal of Hogwarts in the middle of the room started rising with a grinding noise that was only barely noticeable over the gonging and the shouting. It created a stone pole that was a wide as he was. As the pole reached the height of an adult, it stopped.
Without warning, Harry felt himself be pulled forward by his head.
"Hey!" "Watch it!" "Ouch!"
"Sorry!" Harry called back as his body finished pushing people aside on its own he was propelled forward, magically he assumed.
Another set of exclamations was heard from behind him and yet a third set from the right side of the hall. As Harry was drawn to the stone pole, so was a tall student in green trim, being pulled by his hand directly over tables causing other students to have to jump out of his way.
In front of him, he saw two professors being pulled to the pole also, despite fighting the motion.
Harry was soon stuck to the stone pole at his forehead. Right next to him, his new friend Ron Weasley was stuck to the pole at his hip. The tall student was stuck to the pole on the other side of Ron by his hand. Two more thumps on the other side of the pole let him know the professors had arrived. He really wished he could see better.
— HP —
Minerva McGonagall stood in shock as she watched the seal of the school rise from the middle of the Great Hall. She didn't know what to make of the continual gonging nor the letters "HPS" on the ceiling.
Seeing two first years being pulled towards the new stone made her start to move to help them until she saw Professors Snape and Quirrell be pulled out of their seats also. Then she noticed the seventh year Rosier being pulled too.
Looking behind her to the head table, she saw that Albus and Filius looked as shocked as she felt.
Four pops heralded the arrival of two trunks and two small items she didn't recognize; all four items literally flew to the stone pole. With those actions, the gonging stopped - mercifully, although the blinking "HPS" on the ceiling remained. The students had stopped their shouting and other noises, now only whispering to each other.
"Albus?" she called, really wanting to know what was going on.
"I'm afraid I don't know either," he answered the implied question as he rose, sounding as lost as she. He started to make his way around the head table, followed by Filius Flitwick and Pomona Sprout.
"Stay calm, the Aurors will be here soon," the Sorting Hat called out.
"Hat," the Headmaster called out, "what's going on? Why are these people confined in this manner?"
The Sorting Hat seemed to fly on its own accord from its spot on the stool at the front to the top of the stone pillar overlooking those attached to it. "They have triggered the Hogwarts Protection System and so have been trapped until they can be properly checked and dealt with. That's why the Aurors have been called."
"Let me go, you imbecilic hat," Snape growled.
"No, as that would ruin the purpose of the system," the hat replied.
"Then I'll get rid of you," Snape threatened.
"Then you'll be stuck there forever," the hat told him, "as only I can release you."
When Snape reached for his wand anyway, Flitwick pulled his and summoned the potionier's wand, then Quirrell's too to be safe. "I'll hold these for now while we figure this out." After a moment, he summoned the wands of the three students also.
"Thank you," the hat told the short professor.
"Hat, please let them go," the Headmaster requested. "I'll personally take responsibility and straighten out what must surely be a misunderstanding."
"I think not, Headmaster," the hat replied. "Do you even know why the Protection System turned on?"
"Well, no, but-"
"Then," the hat interrupted the Headmaster, "you can't take care of it. However, I think it would be a good idea to stun that one." The tip of his hat bent down and pointed at Quirrell.
Flitwick walked over and look at the struggling Quirrell, who was mouthing something quietly. After a moment, Flitwick realized what was happening and stunned the man, causing the new Defense professor go limp and then hang where he was, his head still attached to the pole. Flitwick conjured a tall stool under Quirrell so he wouldn't hurt his neck too much. "He was trying to do a magical chant to escape."
"Why are they there?" Sprout asked into the quiet moment as everyone stared at what had just happened.
At that moment, a knock on the main doors drew everyone's attention. The doors opened by themselves to reveal a stern looking woman and nine men behind her.
"Auntie! Thank Merlin you're here!" squealed a redheaded first-year in obvious relief before she took the three steps over and threw her arms around the woman's waist.
The woman raised her right arm a little to keep it free as her left went to the girl and held her close. Her right arm and wand were pointed in the general direction of the group in the center of the hall. "Why were we summoned by a Hogwarts house-elf and told there was an emergency here?"
"That would be my doing, Director … please come all the way into the hall so I can shut the door," the hat welcomed her.
The director leaned down and whispered to the girl before patting her on the back. The girl nodded and let go, stepping back with great reluctance. The Auror group walked forward and the doors closed and locked behind them, causing a few to be alarmed; the Director wasn't one of them.
"Amelia, Rufus," Albus intoned as he nodded in greeting.
"Dumbledore," Amelia Bones returned while Rufus Scrimgeour - the Head Auror - nodded. She also nodded to the three "free" professors in front of her. "What in the name of the druids is happening?"
Albus Dumbledore started to say something before a clearing throat sound stopped him and he closed his mouth and held up his hand to the hat on top of the pole.
"Director," the hat started, "the Hogwarts Protection System has turned on and your presence is required to check these people and remove what they brought into the school and preferably remove them as well - unless they are innocent and have only unknowing brought things in with them that they shouldn't have."
Bones looked at Dumbledore. "What do they have that triggered this?"
"I'm not entirely sure," he answered. "We were just starting to investigate. Perhaps you could secure the release of Professor Snape. I can vouch for him."
Ignoring his plea, she looked up at the hat. "What triggered this? You said they brought things in? Also, how does the Protection System work?"
"Whenever enough 'bad things' are brought into the school so that the badness - although some might say darkness - exceeds a certain level, the Hogwarts Protection System is triggered." The hat turned to look at the oldest there. "The Headmaster hasn't helped either by not cleaning up past issues and by bringing in new things that shouldn't be here. The level has been close to the threshold for some time."
Amelia noticed that Albus looked surprised. "Let's take these one at a time, starting with the students."
"I should go first," Snape insisted.
Bones looked at the man with his left forearm attached to the pole. "I can guess why you're here and you can wait as far as I'm concerned. And be quiet or I'll stun you like the other one." After a second, she cast, "Accio wand, Accio potions." No wand came, but she caught the three potion vials and put them in a pocket without really looking at them.
"I have his wand," Flitwick said and handed two over. "The other is Quirrell's. I also have the ones for the students." He offered the other three also and she took them all.
"Thank you, Professor Flitwick." She ignored Snape's shocked look and walked around to the seventh year Slytherin and his hand. "What kind of ring is that?" she asked him.
"A family ring," he replied evasively.
After a wave of her wand for a revealing spell, Bones glowered at him. "It looks like an Assassin's Ring to me. Name?"
He paused before he said quietly, "Nigel Rosier."
McGonagall watched Bones stiffen at the name of a well-known Death Eater family.
"Aurors, search him, relieve him of anything else dangerous before you bind him. He'll be going with us for some questions." Bones shook her head as she looked at the boy who was holding his head down and wouldn't look at her.
While that was being taken care of by two Aurors, she looked at the scared looking red-headed lad. "Are you one of Arthur's?" she asked gently.
"Err, yes, that's my dad. I'm Ron, Ron Weasley."
"Do you know what's in your pocket that could be a problem?"
Ron looked down for a moment then back up at her. "I have some sweets and my pet rat. That's all, I swear."
She smirked at him and said with a light chuckle. "I've never know sweats to be considered dark, so let's assume it's the rat. What can you tell me about him?"
"I just got him this summer. Scabbers was Percy's before he came to me."
"Interesting," Bones looked at Minerva, "I think we need a brother."
"Mr Percival Weasley," McGonagall called out and looked at her new fifth year Prefect, who hurried over. "Mr Weasley, what is the history of this rat."
"Professor, I found him in the back garden when I was much younger," Percy answered. "I've never noticed anything special about him. In fact, he sleeps most of the time. I gave him to Ron this summer when I was given an owl."
"How long ago?" Bones asked. "A year or two?"
"No, Director. I believe it would be nearly ten years ago," Percy answered and then stepped back when the Director pulled out her wand and pointed it Ron.
With care, she cut off his pocket. A few wrapped sweets fell to the ground, but a struggling rat was stuck to the pole as was the fabric of the trousers between the two. A fast jab for a spell stunned the rat before a another motion conjured a cage.
"Can you let him go?" she asked the hat. As the rat fell down, Bones caught him in the cage and closed it before handing it to an Auror to hold. "Do not lose him," she ordered sternly. "I don't know what's wrong yet, but I'd bet my salary that's an Animagus."
Turning to the two redheads, she said, "You can both sit down. Don't worry, neither of you are in trouble."
By the way she said that, Minerva thought that their father might not be so lucky.
"Who are you?" Bones asked the head of black hair and clothes that didn't look too good.
Bones looked at the professors with a raised eyebrow.
McGonagall nodded in confirmation.
"Well, Mr Potter, what seems to be the issue with you? It looks there's something different with your head but I don't understand," she said more gently again.
"I don't know, but it's like there's something wrong with my scar," he answered.
"Hmm, Hat can you release him so I can take a better look?"
Harry suddenly stumbled backward a step before he caught himself. He also stretched a little after the confined position.
"Stand still please." Amelia Bones cast several spells at him before she turned back to the pole. "Hat, I can't find anything wrong."
"There is something there and it's not good at all," the hat replied. "I can't tell you what at the moment and I suspect he doesn't know what it is either."
"Interesting." Boned looked at the child in front of her for a moment before she conjured a chair. "Please sit there, Mr Potter. I think you'll be coming with me so we can find out what has the Sorting Hat so worried."
"Madam Bones," Dumbledore said formally. "I'm sure we can take care of Mr Potter; Madam Pomfrey is very good. You don't need to trouble yourself."
"Mr Potter will be checked out, Dumbledore," the hat interrupted the old man, "unless you want to go be Headmaster at some other school."
Bones nodded. "Exactly so, Dumbledore. You had your chance," she told him coolly, "ten years if I understand correctly." Looking up, she said, "Can you release Rosier?"
The Aurors had him in a body bind and took the ring from him when he was free, which went into a conjured box so no one had to touch it.
Amelia came back to Snape and looked at him and then his arm before she vanished the clothes on his arm. "It's hard to see, but what I can see looks a lot like a Dark Mark. Aurors, same procedure here as you did on Rosier."
Snape's protest was cut-off with a wave of Amelia's wand. "I really don't want to hear it right now," she said with annoyance, looking at Dumbledore but obvious meaning it for Snape too.
"Director, would you like some advice?"
McGonagall was surprised; she'd never seen the Sorting Hat be this forward.
"Please." Boned walked closer to the pole.
The hat lowered its voice, but it was still audible to those who were close. "There is reason to ask about a prophecy for two of those here. One of them also should be asked about the disappearance of Melinda McKinnon. I'm sure you can figure it out from there."
Bones looked thoughtful and McGonagall noticed that Dumbledore looked worried for some reason.
A Vanishing spell from the Director removed Quirrell's turban and revealed a smashed face on the back of Quirrell's head against the stone pole. "Same procedure here too. Rufus, you're responsible for contacting the Unspeakables; I think we're going to need their help with this one."
"Yes, Director," Scrimgeour answered as he directed the crew working on Snape.
Conjuring a medium-sized box, she held it under a little box and then a tiara with a blue stone as the Hat released each from the pole.
Flitwick gave a gasp as he really looked at the last item. "Director, that's the lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw, I'd swear it!"
"If we can make it safe, we'll return it to the school," she replied and Flitwick thanked her.
"That just leaves us with a couple of trunks." Bones looked at Dumbledore and McGonagall. "I need their owners." Looking at the trunks she saw the names and called out "Flint and Lichton?"
Two older Slytherns stood with surprise. Dumbledore waved tiredly towards the Aurors giving permission, they relieved each student of their wand.
"Was there anything else?" Amelia asked the hat sitting on a now clean pole.
"No. Hogwarts thanks you for your prompt help." The pole started sinking back into the floor and the blinking "HPS" disappeared from the ceiling. "Director, can I speak with Mr Potter? Perhaps I can help you."
"Certainly." Bones picked up the hat just before the top of the stone column reached the floor and she walked over to Harry.
"On his head please," it told Bones. "I won't hurt you, Mr Potter," it told the boy.
After a nod of consent, Bones put the hat on the boy's head.
Minerva watched the hat move around on the boy's head, much more active than a sorting.
"He has a touch of what's on Quirrell's head, that's all I can determine. It actively hides from me, so I'm not sure I would have found it if not for this episode." The hat suddenly flew from Potter's head to across the room and landed on the stool at the front, where it had started when the first years had entered the room.
A house-elf popped into the room with another trunk, one that said "Potter" on it.
The three trunks were shrunk and taken, as were those the Aurors wanted to talk to. McGonagall shook her head, wondering how all of this would turn out as she watched Amelia Bones talk to her niece for a moment before the group left.
— HP —
Harry walked with the group to leave the school, before he'd even officially started. As the group stopped for a moment with the other first years, he forced himself to glance around. It was a fast look because he'd seen what he'd expected: the others looking at him like he was a freak.
"Will he really be all right and safe?" a girl asked.
"It'll work out, Susie, you'll see; he'll be back soon. I promise to take care of him." Bones was smiling as she released the girl from her hug.
Harry stared at the strawberry-blonde who was looking at him shyly and, well, friendly, not like the rest. He gave her a quick smile because she seemed to actually care about what happened to him. A moment later he left because of the hand on his shoulder.
Outside, he looked at the woman he was walking beside. She didn't seem so stern now; in fact, she seemed more amused than anything which he thought strange considered what had happened this evening.
"Yes, Mr Potter." Her expression became more neutral yet still kind.
"What's going to happen to me?"
"Generally, you and I are going to St Mungo's to find out what's going on with you. After you're looked at, you and I are going to have a conversation about a few things, although I think that will probably be tomorrow morning because I need to gather some information first. Don't worry," she reassured him, "I think it will all work out and you'll probably like at least one of the changes that will happen."
"Uh, all right." He looked at her a moment more as they walked in the three-quarters moon. "Who was the girl you talked to?"
Her smile returned. "You didn't meet her on the train?"
"No. I only met a few people."
"I see. Well, that was my niece, Susan. You'll have to meet her when you return. She's very friendly and I've never known her to bite anyone."
Harry just blinked at her, not sure if he'd heard right.
Bones chuckled for a moment. "That was a joke. She's really a lovely girl that you should get to know. I suspect she'll end up in Hufflepuff. It's a good house," she ended knowingly.
When they stepped outside the gates to the school, the Director looked at the others. "Rufus, you're in charge of the detainees. Start processing them, although it might be best to keep Quirrell unconscious until the Unspeakables arrive. I'll join you in about an hour to question the students. Jeffers, meet me in the lobby of St Mungo's."
She looked down at Harry. "This may feel a little strange, but you'll be fine."
Bones put her hand on his shoulder and in the blink of an eye he felt like he was being squeezed through a tube. When he was aware of the world again, Harry saw he was in a place that might have been a hospital. Jeffers arrived next to them with a small crack.
With a look at a bored looking woman sitting behind a desk, Bones asked, "Is there a healer available in the Spell Damage ward?"
"Probably," the receptionist answered, "but I'll call for one anyway."
As he was led deeper in, Harry asked, "You think this was done by a spell?"
"There's a good chance of that, but if not, it's still a good place to start when no one is sure what happened," she explained.
Soon, Harry was sitting on the side of a bed while Jeffers pulled out a shrunken trunk and expanded it. Harry recognized it was his. Jeffers then started looking through it. Meanwhile, the Director filled out some forms. All he could really do was wait.
A healer and medi-witch came in a few minutes later, to whom the Director explained the situation.
The healer looked dubious, but pulled his wand out and started casting spells, muttering each. As he continued to cast, his wand movements became crisper and more exact while his mutter became softer and eventually silent.
He finally stopped after nearly a dozen spells and gave the Director a frosty look. "Madam, I don't know why you're wasting our time with a simple case of malnutrition. Give him a set of nutrient potions and he'll be fine."
Bones merely raised one eyebrow. "That's interesting to know and confirms one of my suspicions about this young man's past, but you are incorrect because there is something wrong." Her voice drop a little lower and intensified. "I've been assured by someone far older and wiser that there is an issue and I will know what the problem is so it can be corrected."
The man stared with a shocked look for being defied for a moment. He recovered quickly and replied, "I believe you were misled; there is nothing to find." That said, he turned quickly and left.
Harry saw Bones stare after him with an angry look before she turned to the medi-witch and barked. "I want to see the head of this department in the next ten minutes, even if he's at home, or there will be investigations here that will not be liked."
"Y-Yes, Director!" The nurse all but ran out of the room.
"Incompetent imbecile," Bones muttered darkly.
Harry noticed that Jeffers stood quietly and motionless, as Harry was doing - a reaction he was used to at the Dursleys when trouble was in the air.
"Harry," said a gentle voice, "we will find out what's going on so you can get help." Bones was back to her more kind self. She even smiled at him slightly. "Don't worry, you're not in trouble, but sometimes I have to light fires under people to get the correct action."
Harry only nodded, not quite trusting his voice at the moment.
With several minutes left on her deadline, an older wizard strode into the room at a brisk pace. While he was dressed normally, Harry did see slippers instead of shoes on his feet, which caused him to smile to himself.
"Director Bones, I'm Hubert Gunter, the head of the Spell Damage department. I understand there is an emergency of some sort. What can I help you with?"
"Healer Gunter, Healer-" Bones stopped and looked at the nurse who had returned.
"Healer Iverson," the nurse supplied.
"Yes, Healer Iverson insisted there was nothing wrong with this young man when I know he has been hit with a Dark Curse and I have confirmation from another source that there is a problem. This is not something I take lightly." Boned looked at him expectantly.
"Well, Healer Iverson is good, but he is a little young. Perhaps if I took a look?" Gunter offered.
Bones nodded and the man pulled his wand out and stepped towards Harry before he stopped with a shocked look. "Mighty Merlin! That's Harry Potter!"
Harry blinked very slowly and did his best to hold down his revulsion to this reaction to himself. He was getting tired of this, yet he knew he would see more of this at school.
When the Healer realized everyone was staring at him, he cleared his throat. "Well, I, I suppose there should be something after surviving a Killing Curse."
"I'm told the Dark Magic might be capable of actively hiding from you," Bones told him. With a nod the man began working his craft.
Harry recognized a few of the wand movements as the same that the other healer had done, but this man went beyond and cast maybe twice as many.
Lowering his wand slowly, the man looked at the Director very thoughtfully. "Shall I assume Healer Iverson mentioned malnutrition and nothing else?"
"It was as you said," Bones confirmed.
Gunter nodded. "You are correct to ask for a second opinion. There is something there, though I can not say what. As you say, it is difficult to find and I would not have noticed if you hadn't said something about that. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is." He paused for a brief moment. "I also suspect that I'm having a difficult time because there are multiple magicks in play here. For example, I'm reasonably sure there are at least three sets of spells, which muddy the waters as it were.
"I'm sorry, Director, but I'm not sure I can help you as you expect, at least not quickly. I am probably the best we have here, but it could take me a month or more to figure this this out," Gunter said apologetically.
Harry dropped his head. He would never get out of here, he thought.
"There are others," Bones said after a moment.
"They might be your best option. Whatever this is it is very obscure," Gunter said.
Bones looked at him thoughtfully. "I think Mr Potter should stay here. There's really no place for him at the Ministry and there may need to be medical care anyway."
Gunter looked like he was going to object, but stopped. "As you wish, Director. There will be the usual rates for the room though."
"Of course," she agreed. "Bill my department. I'll figure out who should really pay for it."
"As you wish." Gunter looked over for a moment. "Nurse Wallace will help him get settled in." He looked around and grabbed a small board with parchment on it. As he wrote on it, he said, "Nurse, please start him on a nutrition regimen; we might as well see about correcting that since he's here. Director, I'll personally handle this case if you need a healer." He ended his writing with a flourish.
"Thank you, Healer Gunter," Boned told him and sounded truly appreciative.
The man left with a "good evening" thrown over his shoulder.
"Harry," the Director turned to him, "you'll be here for a few days, but don't worry, we'll work this out somehow. I know some wizards and witches at the Ministry who should be able to help you and I'll see they come tomorrow.
"Do your best to get a good night's sleep and I'll see you tomorrow too. Auror Jeffers will be outside your door to make sure you're not disturbed; and if he's not there then someone else will be. All right?"
Harry looked at her for a moment before he finally nodded. "All right." He wondered why this woman couldn't have been his aunt.
With a last smile, Bones left and Jeffers walked into the corridor.
"My name is Christine Wallace," the nurse said. "I'll get you some pajamas to change into as well as a potion. Don't worry; we'll take good care of you here."
Harry hoped that was true.
— HP —
At Hogwarts, the Headmaster regained control as the Aurors left and the sorting began.
One female first year had watched the strange proceedings with interest, not only for what had been said but how each character in the "drama" had acted.
For the first time in her life she saw someone important and much written about did not behave as the books said he should. It had truly shaken not only her faith in the history books she'd read over the last month but in the man himself.
Before, she had been sure she wanted to be a Gryffindor like Dumbledore was said to have been, but now she wasn't so sure. McGonagall had done well in her eyes, but the best had been the shortest professor, whom she'd read was the head of Ravenclaw house.
She pondered all of this in her mind at breakneck speed as the sorting began. When her name was called, she nodded to herself at her decision and marched to the front with confidence, sure she could make the Sorting Hat give her the house she wanted.
The conversation was short and Hermione Granger was soon walking to the Ravenclaw table.
Her travel-mates, Neville Longbottom and Ronald Weasley went to Gryffindor. She wondered what would happen to her last travel-mate and when he would come to school. She hoped he wasn't in too much trouble; it was a bad way to start a school year.
As Harry finished an early breakfast, the first in his memory where he was encouraged to eat as much as he could, Director Bones opened his door and walked in. She looked a little worse for wear, he thought.
"Good morning, Harry," she said. "Sleep well?"
"Yes. Did you?" he returned.
She gave him a slow smile. "No, I'm afraid I haven't been to bed yet and I probably won't until this evening. But that is not your fault," she added hastily.
Harry looked up, since he'd dropped his head when she said she hadn't been to bed.
"In fact, despite the long hours I've put in yesterday and will also today, I'm quite pleased with how it's turning out. You see, I've answered some long-standing questions and that's good." She smiled at him.
"Now, I need to have a few more questions answered and I'm sure you can help." Bones pulled out a short quill and a pad to write on.
"Harry, I know a few of these questions may be a little uncomfortable for you, but I ask you to please trust me and to answered as honestly and as fully as you can." She continued to smile at him and waited.
She seemed trustworthy and she was friendly to him. She seemed to be trying to get him help too. "All right," he finally answered. "I'll do my best to help."
"Excellent," she told him brightly.
"First, and I know this will be hard, please tell me about who raised you and what it was like there. I have a feeling that did not go as well as it should have and I'd like to help you find a better place, but I can't really do that if I don't know exactly what it was like."
Harry gulped. There really wasn't any worse question she could have asked. Yet, she seemed so helpful.
"I, uh, I never knew about the Wizarding world until my letter came at the end of July," he started.
Amelia Bones asked a few questions to clarify what he said, but she mostly listened and wrote notes.
After what felt like a long time but probably really wasn't, Harry ended his story of how he found out about magic, what his relatives were like and how they treated him, as well as what he'd learned about his family history from Hagrid.
"Thank you, Mr Potter. I appreciate your help in this matter." Bones paused for a moment. "I hope it's all right that I tell you that I don't think you'll have to return to your relatives." She smiled at his pleased expression. "I'm not sure who you'll stay with, but I believe I know at least one distant relative who might have you live with her and there is possibly another, although his future is much less sure."
"I have magical relatives who are alive?" Harry asked in wonder, yet also wondering why he was only just now hearing about them.
"Mr Potter, you'll find that most magical families are related to one another, although you may have to look hard for the connection." She smiled slightly. "That's both good and bad."
"Wow…" This was wonderful to know, and yet it also made him a little angry to know he could have lived with someone other than the Dursleys.
"Chin up, Mr Potter, and trust me. I'll do my best for you," Bones told him as she rose. "Oh, I almost forgot. I received this in the mail this morning; it's for you. I'll return tomorrow."
Harry took the offered letter. Her amused look from last night returned briefly.
As she opened the door to leave, she stopped and turned back to him. "There is another Auror here now, a Mr Simons. Also, I see the other group coming, so I'll wait and introduce them.
A moment later, a group of three men in strange cloaks that were hard to get a good look at entered. Their cloaks were hard to describe and he found he didn't feel like looking at them, so he concentrated on their faces.
"Algernon," Bones said warmly, "thank you for coming."
"How could I not, Amelia, when you tempt me so," the man return with a deep voice.
"Mr Potter, this is Algernon Croaker, from the main research department at the Ministry," Bones said. "Algernon, please take good care of him," she said.
"I would anyway," the man said solemnly, "but I will even more so for his mother's sake." At Bones' raised eyebrow, he added, "Yes, she did a little work for us in her short time after Hogwarts. I had hoped to make her a full-time employee, but that was not to be. Rest easy, Amelia; he's in good hands."
Amelia nodded at each there and left.
"Now, let us begin," Croaker said to Harry. "I will introduce my colleagues and then we shall see what we can find."
"You really knew my mother?" Harry couldn't help but blurt out.
"I did, but we'll have time to discuss that later during breaks in our work as we need to get started. Go ahead a grab one of your school books, perhaps History of Magic, and you can read while we work…"
Amelia Bones strode into Hogwarts hoping she'd catch her person of interest at breakfast, even if it was the tail end of that time. She was disappointed to see that she was too late as most of the Great Hall, including the head table, was empty. As she was about to head to his office, she heard her name called. Turning, she saw the deputy.
"Minerva, could you tell me where I can find Albus?" Amelia was surprised by the small smirk on her old friend's face.
McGonagall walked up and in a lowered voice said, "You'll find him in the hospital wing under Poppy's care."
Amelia was shocked. "Did last night's events do something to him? Was it his heart?"
"No, no, my friend, I'm afraid you misunderstand and I wasn't clear." McGonagall smirk returned. "After the sorting, Albus came by to see me to ask my opinion on last night's events. After a few minutes, it became clear to me that Albus was about to charge down to the Ministry in an attempt to steer matters his way."
Amelia shook her head slightly. "I was afraid of that and it was one of the main reasons I worked through the night."
"I gave you a little help then. When he turned his back to leave," McGonagall lowered her voice to conspiratorial whisper, "I stunned him and took him to the hospital wing and gave him a Dreamless Sleep potion."
"Seriously?" Amelia barely held back a chuckle.
"Yes," Minerva said with an affirming nod. "I thought you might need some time without his meddling." She sighed. "I'm afraid last night was a wakeup call for me. I had assumed Albus was looking after Mr Potter, but after seeing how he looked I fear I trusted too much and Albus is doing something a little too clever."
"I fear you are correct." Amelia looked at her friend for a moment as she considered what needed to be done. "Minerva, who attends your first class today?"
"It is with sixth years, why?"
"Might I suggest you give them a reading assignment and then join me in the hospital wing?" Amelia's looked turned sly. "I think you'll find the conversation with Albus to be very enlightening."
Minerva looked at her for a moment before nodding. "Very well, I'll meet you there in a few minutes."
Amelia walked slowly to the hospital wing thinking about her upcoming conversation. Just as she reached her destination, she came to a decision and strode in. She found the school nurse examining her … person of interest; she decided that was a good title. "How is he?"
"Oh, Director Bones, I wasn't expecting you."
"No, I suppose you weren't. Don't worry, you'll still have your Headmaster when I leave, or at Ieast I expect that," Bones assured the nurse.
"I wasn't aware the issues from last night were that large," the nurse half-stated half-asked.
"Most of them were easily taken care of," Bones waved off. "However, a few interesting questions have been raised. Can you wake him?" She was ready to get down to business.
"Certainly, the potion has already run its course - although I will say that the extra sleep has done him good. He works himself much too hard." Pomfrey waved her wand over the sleeping man, cancelling the slumber.
Albus slowly blinked his eyes and looked around. "Poppy, what am I doing here?"
Pomfrey glanced at the Director before answering. "Minerva told me you weren't feeling well and brought you to me."
"The last thing I remember I was about to head to the Ministry…" Dumbledore stopped as he finally saw the second person there. "Amelia."
"Albus," Bones returned easily. "I'll give you a few moments to gather yourself, but perhaps we could go to your office for a conversation?"
The doors opened and Minerva walked in and came over to stand beside the nurse.
He cleared his throat before he slowly stood. "Yes, if you'll give me a moment or two." Albus walked to the hospital's bathroom.
When he came out, the three left for his office; Poppy remained in her domain.
In the Headmaster's office, Albus ordered tea for everyone and some toast for himself.
Amelia briefly glanced at the silent Sorting Hat and wondered if she'd get any more help from it. "To bring you up to speed, the two younger Slytherins returned late last night. It seems Miss Lichton's uncle gave her a necklace just before leaving for school that causes permanent infertility with long-term wear. Mr Flint found he was in need of a quill and grab the first one he could find off of his father's desk, which turned out to be a Blood Quill.
"I fully believe neither really meant any harm and so they have been returned, minus the artifacts of course. I also fully believe that I will be having a couple of very interesting conversations with an uncle and a father that they may not enjoy so much.
"As for Mr Rosier, he did have an Assassin's Ring that used a hard to detect and slow acting poison. He was also fully aware of what he had and he had a mission to use it on someone. Since he is seventeen and considered an adult, he will be making an appearance before the Wizengamot and I expect he will be spending at least ten years in Azkaban." Bones paused and waited for the expected question, as well as noticed her friend's horrified look that a student would do something like this.
"What was his mission?" Albus asked in the silence.
Pleased she'd drawn him in, Amelia answered, "He was to shake the hand of Harry Potter, who probably wouldn't have realized anything was wrong until it was too late to save him."
Minerva gasped and Albus leaned back in his chair heavily.
"That takes us to Mr Potter, who at this moment is in St Mungo's. The head Healer was unable to determine what is wrong, so Algernon Croaker and his crew have been called in and are working with him now. However, there is far more going on with Mr Potter than I first thought." Bones looked at him carefully. "Would you like to enlighten us on the mysteries surrounding Mr Potter, Albus?"
After a moment to sip his tea, Albus said, "There are many things that could be said, but have no relevance. When you do believe Mr Potter will be returned to school?"
Amelia was not amused by his non-answer, but held her retort for the moment. "I've also interviewed Severus Snape along with Quinius Quirrell. With some help from Croaker and his Unspeakables, I have found some things that do not put you in a good light. Would you like to explain about them?"
He glanced at Minerva before he said. "I fully trust and vouch for Severus Snape, as I did years ago. He's never killed anyone. As for Professor Quirrell, he has been acting a little strange after his summer travels. I have been keeping an eye on him. I will also say that last night was an interesting revelation. Have they found a reason for the extra entity on him?"
"It is an entity, as you say, that claims to be You-Know-Who and was at the school to take the Philosopher's Stone you have hidden on the third floor behind various traps that could hurt students," Bones answered and was slightly pleased with his trace of a whence.
"While Quirrell and his parasite's fate will be decided later, I'd like to discuss your Potion teacher…"
"As I said," Dumbledore interrupted her, "I fully vouch for him. He was a valuable member in the war against Voldemort, acting as a spy; he has assured me he did not kill anyone…"
"And yet," Bones interrupted him, "I can now prove that he was an accessory to the murder of Melinda McKinnon. He was there and watched it happen and he knew where the body was buried, which we've recovered. He may not have done the foul deed, but it will be easy to convince the Wizengamot that he helped. You will not be getting your Potions teacher back."
She glanced over and saw Minerva's expression change from horror to calculating and angry. Amelia wondered if she was witnessing the break of trust between the two. As for the Headmaster, he sat there blank and staring straight ahead, making her wonder if maybe Albus was more innocent than she had initially thought - at least in this matter.
"There is yet another matter with Snape." Bones had to wait a moment before he returned his attention to her. "After thorough questioning about his Death Eater activities with Veritaserum," Dumbledore gave that almost imperceptible wince again, "we found that he overhead part of a prophecy that you heard."
"Amelia, that is highly secret!" Dumbledore protested immediately.
She waved the protest away with a hand as if it was an annoying fly. "Albus, there are now four of us, counting yourself, that know it, and I think it would be very helpful if Minerva knew it as well. After all, what if something had happened to you and You-Know-Who was the only one who knew about it?"
Amelia looked at her friend and quoted the prophecy. As Minerva turned very pale, Bones said, "It could really only apply to Harry Potter now. However, with You-Know-Who contained by the Unspeakables, I think the problem will work itself out without much trouble to Mr Potter."
Looking back to Dumbledore, Bones said, "And this takes us to the last issue. The rat that was found was the Animagus form of Peter Pettigrew."
"Seriously?" McGonagall gasped at yet another surprise.
"Yes," Bones confirmed. "It also turns out he had a Dark Mark on his arm and a spare wand that Ollivander has confirmed was You-Know-Who's wand, after we woke him up in the middle of the night. Pettigrew also claimed responsibility for leaking the secret location of the Potters and for killing the twelve Muggles that Sirius Black was blamed for. That revelation has led me to send for Black and he's in the process of being moved to a Ministry holding cell for a proper trial."
She looked at the Chief Warlock with a steely gaze. "Tell me, Albus, since Black was a part of your little war group, why didn't you push for a trial for him so you'd be sure of what happened?"
"I wasn't Chief Warlock at the time," Dumbledore said a little defensively.
"I know that, just as I know I wasn't the Director of the DMLE, but you were a regular Wizengamot member so you could have brought up a motion for Black's trial yet you did not. Why?" She continued her steely-eyed gaze.
After a long moment, Albus answered, "The evidence seemed so sure and I did not want to bring out his indiscretions into the public light."
McGonagall gave him a searing glare. "You did not stand up for one of our own when there was any doubt of his guilt?"
Amelia was sure she'd just seen the last thread of trust between the two break and she was sad she was messenger of the news that had done that. She was also reasonably certain she hadn't heard the real, or at least the full, reason Albus hadn't pushed for a trial for Black - which she suspected was connected to Harry Potter - but she had no way to easily force that answer out of him. She had suspicions though, based on what Potter had told her.
She sat up straighter. "Albus, as the head of the DMLE, I am advising you to watch your step. There are questions surrounding you and your actions that aren't quite worthy of a special investigation, yet are still suspicious.
"For example, I know that you were instrumental in placing Harry Potter with his Muggle relatives, relatives who never wanted him and according to Potter hate him.
"Therefore, if I find there is hard evidence that will cause me to pursue investigation, you can be assured that I will. I will strongly suggest that you resist temptation to meddle in places you shouldn't, such as in the lives of Sirius Black and the Potter boy.
"I'll also suggest that you decide what you really want to do and let go of some of your positions, perhaps starting with Chief Warlock and probably Supreme Mugwump also. You seem to like the mantle of quirky Headmaster, I suggest you more fully embrace the position.
"Lastly, I'll tell you that you need to remove the traps and the Philosopher's Stone from the third floor. That sort of trouble magnet has no place in a school. I'll return in two days and it has better be gone or I'll have a team remove it plus I'll have you standing in front of the Hogwarts' Board of Governors and the Ministry's Department of Education to answer why you're placing our children in danger and if you should remain Headmaster.
"I'll remind you that you need to start searching for new teachers for Potions and for Defense; perhaps your many contacts will be able to help you find replacements quickly." Bones rose and looked to the side. "Sorting Hat, I thank you for your help. Feel free to send a house-elf to me anytime you see trouble here that I need to be aware of."
Bones looked at Dumbledore and McGonagall, neither of whom said anything, although her friend also slowly rose.
As Bones started to leave, McGonagall said, "Albus, I believe you also need to start searching for a new Deputy Headmaster. I obviously am not doing my job since I agreed to let you hide that Stone in the school. I will hold the position through the end of this year if required, but I'd prefer you find a replacement by the end of this term. I will also be returning the extra administrative work I've been doing for you when you're not here. If you'll excuse me, I need to head to my next class."
Amelia walked silently with her friend for a moment down the quiet corridors. "Minerva," she said quietly.
"I'll be fine," Minerva said briskly, preventing more questions. "There will need to be a few adjustments, but those will be easy enough. Not being deputy will be a relief, actually. Not as much need for it now with Severus gone. I always felt I had to keep the position to balance him."
The teacher stopped and looked at her friend with a pained expression. "I didn't stop him hiding the Stone here and I didn't stop him placing little Harry Potter with those people. I warned him, but I didn't stop him to my everlasting shame. I knew he wasn't perfect, but I never thought he would do anything so bad. And Sirius Black! He was a scoundrel and then some, but he was still a person who knew the difference between right and wrong and he was part of our team. He went against his family to fight against You-Know-Who for Merlin's sake and we let him rot in Azkaban."
"Minerva, I know you're unhappy with yourself right now, but give it a little time. It will get better," Amelia assured her friend.
"Damn right it will because I'll help make it so." Minerva put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Thank you for your hard words. They have awakened the common sense I'd lost for a time."
The bell rang and the noise of students was heard from down the corridor.
"I'll be in touch when Mr Potter is available to return. Take care my friend." Amelia left for the front door. There were still more things to take care of this morning in regards to the events started last night. Damage control at the Ministry would probably be her largest task.
Croaker was looking at his notes from the morning when a knock on the door captured his attention. It was opened by the Auror outside and an older, grizzled man walked in with a limp. He and Mad-Eye Moody probably would get along well, Croaker thought, with lots of war stories to swap.
"The name's Jebson; I was told you hired me for a couple of hours." He held out a folded parchment.
Croaker took the parchment and read it to verify who this was. When he'd hired a curse breaker from Gringotts, he hadn't asked for anyone specifically, just their best one that spoke English well.
"Glad you could make it on such short notice. We have a young lad here who has a little problem and I'd like you to take a look and tell me what you find and how you'd deal with it. The affected area is his forehead." Croaker almost had introduced Harry, but decided the old curse breaker probably didn't care and after a few short conversations he knew Harry didn't want the fame.
Jebson nodded and walked over to Harry, not concerned he didn't know who the boy was. He started waving his wand over Harry, muttering unintelligently the whole time.
Croaker watched carefully, recognizing most of the spells since he'd done the same ones. He'd purposefully not told the curse breaker what he'd found so as not to unduly influence the man. He was very surprised when the old man cast one spell at Harry's and Harry cried out in pain.
With an astonished look, Jepson backed up and only lowered his wand to his side. "This shouldn't be possible so what kind of test is this?" he growled.
"This is not a joke, Mr Jebson. I assure you the problem is very real and it must be solved without hurting the young man."
"Bah, he's possessed so just kill him and be done with it," Jebson said in his gravelly voice, along with a small gesture of his wand towards Harry who looked alarmed and moved on the bed so the man's wand wasn't pointing at him.
"Here now, there'll be no talk like that!" Croaker told him commandingly and moved to stand in front of Harry. "It sounds like you reached a similar conclusion to mine, but please explain yourself. Taking a chair and putting your wand away would be a good start."
"You did pay for my time even if you want to waste that." Jebson conjured a chair and put his wand away as he sat. "I've seen things like this in Egypt. Some blathering idiot of a king thinks he can put part of his soul somewhere else and that will make him live forever. Bah, idiot! It doesn't work and it really only makes him daft. You die when you die."
"I don't wish to start an argument, but I have the main host of the soul fragment in containment not in his original body but possessing another person. He's not dead," Croaker challenged.
"You're being too literal, lad," the old curse breaker said. "There's an approximate time on this earth for everyone. When that time comes, you go. Accidents make some go early, but you can't escape Death. Tell me, if these little soul splitting tricks work so well, why don't you see multiple Egyptians who are thousands of years old? Eh?" he cackled the last bit with a toothy grin.
"He's got you there boss," one of Croakers associates said with a hint of humor.
"That's a fair point, I suppose," Croaker said with chagrin. "Still, we really don't want to wait around for that point in time, so since killing young Harry here is out of the question, how do we help him?"
Jebson leaned back in his chair for a moment and absently scratched his neck. "Well, destroying the container is the only sure way…"
"Again, not going to happen," Croaker said a little forcefully.
"But you don't usually find these things in living creatures," Jebson continued, not fazed by Croaker's retort. "If you think about it, the soul fragment has to be in something since it can't be in the normal place."
"He has a point boss," the associate spoke up again. "We found his spirit on the back of Quirrell's head like a leach. Then there is the part in the tiara. Maybe this one is the same way."
"Yes," Jebson agreed, "if it's attached it can be detached … not sure how you'd do that though."
"No ideas?" Croaker queried.
"No idea at all, at least not one you'd like." Jebson's toothy grin was back.
"Thank you for your help, Mr Jepson. We appreciate the confirmation of our findings. As indicated in the contract, this meeting and all discussed in it is to be completely confidential."
"The usual then. Good day," Jepson left with no other words, this incident already behind him.
Croaker looked at his two men. "It's time for a late lunch. One of you bring something back for me after you've taken lunch yourself. The other go find Healer Gunter and request his presence here at his earliest convenience before you have lunch also. I shall remain here with Mr Potter." The men left with a nod.
As Croaker sat, he heard a very scared voice. "What did you find wrong in me?"
Doing his best to give an assuring smile, he said, "Well, as I explained a little this morning as we worked, there were a number of magicks on you. Each of those made finding the real issue more difficult as they clouded the picture, so to speak. As we removed the tracking charms, the tie to a blood ward, and a small magical block that was already disintegrating, we were left with your own magical core and a very powerful protection charm. It was a very ingenious use of some old magic that your mother used to protect you.
"Lastly, we found one remaining thing and it was the source of the trouble. We believe that Voldemort left a bit of magic in you when he tried to kill you years ago. The thing is, this sort of situation is very rare and so it's difficult to take care of, but don't worry, we'll find a solution for you. I already have one idea.
"However, let's discuss something more normal. I saw you've read the first few chapters of your Charms textbook after I mentioned that your mother was good in Charms. What do you think of it?" He noticed the lad didn't look all that convinced of his safety and he'd have been even less so if he'd understood the full situation, which Croaker had no plans to explain.
Harry shrugged. "Looks like it could be interesting, but it seems to jump all over the place with spells that don't really look like they go together."
"Yes, I suppose I can understand that. I believe the reason is the author is trying to show you spells that are easy to do since you're only just learning. If you'd like to try, I'll teach you a few," Croaker offered.
When Harry eyes lit and he scurried to get his wand that the Director had left in his trunk, Croaker knew he'd distracted the boy for the moment.
"Now, hold your wand firmly but not too tightly. Think of causing the end of your wand to light so you could see if the room was dark. Do a motion like this while you say 'Luminos'. Oh, and never point your wand at someone unless you really plan to do something to them; it usually considered rude and might even get you hexed if they think you're going to hex them."
"Luminos! Luminos!" Harry tried unsuccessfully.
"Slow down and think about what you want very carefully…" Croaker coached.
"Luminos." Harry grinned as his wand lit weakly. "I did it!"
"Yes, very good; I'm sure your mother would be proud. To turn it off, say 'Nox' as you do a down stroke." Croaker worked with Harry for the next three-quarters of an hour until the two Unspeakables returned with lunch for Croaker and with Healer Gunter in tow.
Croaker explained his idea. His associates were nodding in agreement while Gunter looked aghast.
"You can't be serious?!" Gunter exclaimed while Harry looked taken aback at the idea too.
"Very much so. I'm not a Healer, but it doesn't seem like it should be that unsafe if you're careful," Croaker argued.
"Certainly I can do it," Gunter said and puffed up a little, "but to suggest it to begin with is, well, it's just not done."
"I told you what we're up against here," Croaker told him and pinned him in place with a stare. "If you're going to tell me not to do this, then tell me what you'd do to remove this extra magic from him?"
"I, uh, well, we could, no, hmm…" Gunter looked at Harry's scar and thought. "I believe I'd like to give this some thought."
"By all means," Croaker said agreeably. "Take until tomorrow morning if you like, just be very sure of yourself is all we ask. I will not have Mr Potter injured in a way that can't be fixed."
"Yes, rightly so," Gunter agreed quickly. "I shall return tomorrow at nine with my answer."
"I shall meet you here then." Croaker bid the Healer good-bye and sent his men away as well. He spent another half-hour with Harry teaching him the levitation charm while he ate the sandwich brought to him.
As Croaker rose to leave, he told Harry, "I don't believe you've read your letter yet. You might want to do that now so your owl take your reply back this evening. They do prefer to fly at night." He smiled as Harry grabbed the letter Amelia had brought this morning and tore it open. He thought the idea of those two becoming friends could be interesting.
— HP —
Harry struggled writing with the quill a little, but he managed to write a letter to Susan. He really appreciated her letter to say she hoped he'd be all right and that he could trust her aunt. Susan also mentioned how nice it was in Hufflepuff and how friendly everyone was. He smiled at her last line: I hope you're sorted into Hufflepuff too.
Friends … it was a concept he liked, since Dudley had never let him have any before. Hagrid and Ron may have made Gryffindor sound great, and he was sure they were right, but Susan made Hufflepuff sound like… How did McGonagall put it before she led them inside? Our family while we're at school, or like a family should be since he didn't have the best example with his aunt.
As the sun was setting, Harry tied the note on Hedwig's leg and sent her off to find Susan at school.
The large snowy white owl landed on the Hufflepuff table at breakfast in front of Susan Bones and stuck her leg out.
"Who's it from?" her friend Hannah Abbot asked.
"I don't know, but she's beautiful," Susan said, petting the bird now that she had the letter. She also found an unused goblet and filled it with water before setting it in front of the owl who gave a soft sound and then started drinking.
Susan opened the letter and looked at the bottom before she sighed and pressed it against herself so Hannah couldn't grab it.
"No way," her friend hissed.
"What?" Ernie asked from across the table.
"Susan wrote Harry Potter a letter and he responded," Hannah replied while looking at the letter as if trying to read it through the parchment.
"That's good of you," Ernie replied casually.
Susan finally relented and held the letter out so Hannah could read it with her. "It doesn't say much about what's happening to him, but he said Auntie has been nice to him. I'll have to thank her."
"He also asks to know more about what it's like in Hufflepuff. Are you trying to get him to want to come to Hufflepuff?" Hannah asked quietly.
"Maybe," Susan grinned before both girls broke out in a giggle. "Why not?"
"I like your idea," Hannah told her before they rose to go to class.
— HP —
It was late morning before Mr Croaker, Healer Gunter, and another man came into the room. Harry was almost afraid of what was going to happen.
"Mr Potter," Gunter gestured to the new man, "this is Healer Newman. He is in charge of surguries here, for the few that we do. The three of us have discussed this and believe this is the best choice for you."
"May I look, Mr Potter?" Newman requested.
Harry nodded slowly. Newman pulled his wand out and started casting spells on Harry's forehead.
"Harry," Croaker addressed him, "I know that removing part of your skull sounds extreme and for a Muggle healer to do it then I can assure you it would be serious, but with magic this isn't all that hard. We can also remove your scar if you like, which would allow you to easily blend into a crowd. When that's done, they can regrow the bone and skin overnight. You'll be all healed by tomorrow morning."
"We'd like to keep you here one more day beyond that to make sure, but that's just a precaution," Gunter assured him.
Harry looked at Newman who had finished his diagnostic spells.
"I don't see a problem with doing this. It's up to you, Mr Potter," Newman said with complete patience.
"Er, all right," Harry said weakly.
"Very good," Croaker agreed. "We'll do it this afternoon and let it all regrow while he's asleep tonight. I and my associates will be on hand just in case we're needed."
— HP —
Amelia Bones nodded to the guard before she headed into Harry's room. Technically, the guard wasn't required anymore now that they knew what had triggered the Hogwarts's Protection System, but she kept a guard there anyway as a few reporters had tried to get into his room.
Entering, she saw two healers and two medi-witches around the bed with Croaker and his two associates standing near the door.
"You're late," Croaker told her, "at least if you wanted to speak to him first."
"I was held up at the Ministry," she replied. "I really wanted to tell him I had a surprise for him when he woke."
"Don't worry, I did," he replied. At her glare he added, "I didn't tell him what, I'll let you take care of that, but I only said we'd have something special he'd like tomorrow morning. By the way, good job in the courtroom this morning."
Amelia was pleased he hadn't totally ruined her fun, but she was surprised. "You were there this morning? I didn't see you."
"I wasn't there the entire time, just long enough to see that justice would be done. Damn shame about the whole business to begin with," he commented.
"Quite," she agreed. "Back to him, so he agreed to everything?"
"He did." Croaker patted his pocket. "I have his signature on the agreement that we can do anything we want with the skull fragment and anything else like it." He chuckled. "One could say that fulfills the prophecy."
She shuddered. "I dread to think about what it would be like to have that hanging over my Susan, so I'm sure he'll be happy to not have that anymore."
A thunking sound and then a call of "Mr Croaker?" caused the man to walk over to the bed where he was handed a tray with a bloody bone fragment on it.
"Is that it?" Amelia asked when he came back over.
After waving his wand over the bone for a moment, he nodded. "Yes, it's in there." He turned to one of his associates who had a box that was held open; the bone was slid in and the box closed.
Croaker sighed. "I have a strong feeling that wasn't the only one of those that exists, so we'll track down the others and dispose of them too. I'll be back tomorrow morning, but I think we both have tasks to do in regards to this," he suggested.
"We do," she agreed curtly and all four observers left.
Harry awoke the next morning to see the nurse that had helped him for the last few days.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
"A little tired but otherwise fine," he replied.
"That's good and I'll go tell them so they can come check you. I have breakfast for you and it looks like your owl has a letter for you." She smiled and placed the tray over his lap before she left.
Harry took the letter from Hedwig and read it while he ate. He enjoyed the longish letter from Susan; she had even answered his questions about Hufflepuff. She'd also told him about her first few classes and that she didn't think it would be hard for him to catch up - she even volunteered to help. She also had a friend named Hannah who could help too.
Not long after he'd finished breakfast, Healer Gunter, Mr Croaker, and Director Bones came into his room.
While he received greetings from each, it was Gunter who addressed him first. "How are you feeling, Mr Potter?" he asked as he waved his wand over Harry's head.
"Mostly fine. My forehead is a little itchy," Harry replied.
"Well, I like the results of my spell, so let's take a look." Gunter removed the bandage around the top of the boy's head. "Yes, the healing is progressing well." He conjured a hand-mirror and handed it over. "What do you think?"
Harry saw that he had short hair for the first time in years, since his aunt had tried to cut it and it grew back overnight. However, this time there was no scar, just pink skin over most of his forehead. He couldn't help his grin. "It's all gone."
The healer chuckled. "Yes, all of it - the foreign magic and your scar. I'd like to put a new bandage back as a reminder for you not to scratch it, and I'd like you to stay until tomorrow. I think you can leave tomorrow afternoon if all goes well."
"Thank you," Harry told him very sincerely.
"It was my pleasure, Mr Potter. I'll return for another check-up later." Gunter nodded to the others and left.
"Besides your forehead, are you feeling better overall?" Croaker asked.
"I think so, but it's hard to tell," Harry replied. "Do you really have thing out of my head?"
"Yes, I'm very sure we do. My associates are finding it very interesting, although I'm not sure you can appreciate that," Croaker said with amusement.
"No." Harry gave a brisk shake of his head.
"Harry, I have a surprise for you, one that I think you'll like," Bones him. "Are you up to talking with someone else?"
Bones looked like she was having to stay calm. "When your father was in school, he had a group of friends. One of them was supposed to take care of you if your parents couldn't. However, he was prevented from doing that because he was wrongfully sent to prison."
Harry couldn't help his gasp and he tried to keep his hopes in check.
"However, because of all of this, we've found out he's innocent and he's now a free man. He's here in St Mungo's and he would like to meet you. Would you like to meet him?"
Harry nodded quickly, not trusting his voice at the moment.
Bones smiled. "I'll be back in a moment with him," she said as she left the room.
"Will I be able to stay with him?" he asked hopefully.
"I would think so," Croaker answered, "if you would prefer that to living with your aunt."
"Yes, I'd like that very much."
Then he heard the door open and Director Bones pushed a chair with big wheels into the room. In the chair was a thin almost gaunt man with long dark hair.
"Harry, I'd like to introduce you to a friend of your parents and a distant relative of yours, Sirius Black." Bones put the chair and man right next to Harry's bed before she stepped back.
The man looked him over and raised a thin hand that shook slightly. "Harry, it's so good to see you again. You look so much like your father at that age. I can see hints of your mother, but there's no mistaking who you are."
"I…" Harry wasn't sure what to say. "What do I call you?" he finally decided.
The man chuckled. "You can call me Sirius, I think you're beyond Unca' Pads now. Yes, I saw and played with you when you were a baby. I have stories for you, Harry, lots of stories."
"That'd be great," Harry breathed, hardly believing his good luck. He was so focused on Sirius he never noticed the other two adults quietly leaving the room. The anticipation for the stories he was about to hear was almost more than he could bear, but he somehow managed as Sirius spent the rest of the afternoon with him.
Susan was thrilled to see the beautiful while owl glide across the Great Hall and land in front of her with another letter, which she removed. She also petted the bird and pinched some ham for her as well as found an empty goblet for some water.
"I can't believe you've managed to get him to write you again," Hannah told her friend with a little envy.
"It's great, isn't it?" Susan held the letter so that Hannah could read it too.
Hannah shook her head in disbelief as a smug looking Susan put the letter in a pocket a few minutes later. "He writes you and he wants to be friends with you. How lucky can you get?"
"I suppose we'll find out since he says he should be here tonight." Susan knew they were only eleven and who knew what the future would hold, but friendship with Harry Potter could only be a good thing, couldn't it?
— HP —
With nervousness running through her, Nymphadora Tonks walked through St Mungo's and up to her ultimate supervisor. "Cadet Tonks reporting as ordered." She was glad not to have stuttered. She had also made her hair a dark brown so as not to offend the Director.
Giving her a once over, Amelia Bones nodded. "I'm glad you're on time. I'm relieving you of your obligations to training for the rest of the afternoon and evening with no penalty. I have a special duty for you, then you will return to training tomorrow."
Tonks relaxed a little, her fear that she'd done something stupid dissipating slowly.
"Follow me." Bones turned and led her to a room.
Inside, Tonks saw her mother along with a very thin man who looked a little familiar. She couldn't help the "Mother?" that escaped her. Her mother gave her the mother-smile that told her she was about to have to obey some order whether she liked it or not.
"Nymphadora, dear, come greet your head of house."
Tonks looked Director Bones and saw a slightly bored look, which probably meant she was going along with whatever this was. Walking forward slowly, she thought furiously about who this could have been. As she reached the chair, the memories of newspaper articles returned and with the title she understood. With a slight bow of her head she intoned, "Uncle Sirius, it's good to see you."
He gave a short barking laugh. "It took you a moment, didn't it? Never mind my amusement, it is good to see you again. You're … eighteen now?"
"Just turned nineteen."
With a nod of acknowledgement, he added, "You've definitely changed in the last ten years."
"How could I not?" she half-asked, not sure what to say.
"Indeed. You've gotten better with your talent, I hope. Do someone for me, please, anyone" he asked, almost begged.
Tonks usually hated requests like this, but he was the head of her maternal family and he hadn't seen her for ten years. Still in her pique, she instantly changed to a carbon copy of her mother's face and scowled at him.
Sirius's laughter rang out. "Excellent! You have gotten better." He calmed down to just a smile. "And I see you've taken up with the Aurors - good for you."
As Tonks relaxed her look back to her usual self and looked at her mother, she saw an exasperated look.
"Must you mimic me?" Andromeda Tonks said with a tone of long-suffering.
"Why am I here?" Tonks asked in the silence. She knew she could have met Sirius on the weekend.
"By my request," Sirius spoke up, "as the good Director owes me," at Bones' clearing of her throat, Sirius amended, "or rather the Ministry owes me. Anyway, I want you to meet a cousin you've been unable to, and then we'll take a little trip. The Director feels I need a Ministry chaperone for that so I requested you to be it."
Looking at her mother, Tonks said, "I already know all of my cousins, at least the few that are friendly with us."
"Except for one," Sirius said as he stood shakily and shuffled from his chair to the wheelchair and sat. "Nym, if you'd push, we shall go meet him."
"My name is not Nym! Call me Tonks!"
Sirius gave her an amused look. "You've always been Nym to me and so you shall always be." His expression turned more understanding. "I know not to call you the other nickname you hate even worse, nor will I use your full name; but there is nothing wrong with Nym. If you must, consider it my privilege as head of house. Perhaps one of the few things I'll claim that privilege for. Now, show we?" He held his hand out towards the door.
Tonks muttered to herself about people using her name but walked over to his wheelchair and started pushing, following the Director who told her, "This way." Her mother followed behind her.
"So, who is this cousin I haven't met before?" Tonks asked, hoping to get an answer this time.
"Still not telling as it would ruin the fun, but you don't have long to wait," Sirius answered. A man in full Auror robes was standing beside a door not too far ahead.
A moment later, Director Bones stopped at the guarded door and opened it for them.
As Tonks pushed her uncle into the room, she saw a boy who looked to be about the age of a first year sitting on the bed and reading. He broke into a wide smile and called, "Sirius!" Looking over, he said, "Director Bones," in a more subdued manner. He also gave her and her mother a close look as he tried to divine who they were.
"Harry, it's good to see you again. As I told you, I've returned with the other family you have, despite how distant we've been…"
Andromeda interrupted him by clearing her throat and then glaring at him.
Sirius signed and nodded before looking back at Harry. "Although to be fair, none of us were really allowed to come find you, but…" Sirius turned more cheerful again, "that's all behind us. Let me introduce you. This is my first cousin, Andromeda Tonks."
"Hello, Harry," her mother said with a smile, "I'm glad I've finally been allowed to meet you."
As Harry gave a shy hello back, Tonks thought furiously and could not come up with who this "Harry" was.
"This is her daughter whom I call Nym," Sirius smiled at her, "but she likes to be called Tonks and I'd suggest you do that." He gave Harry a conspiratorial look and whispered, "I'll tell you her full name later."
Her glare did nothing to him as he blithely went on.
"Nym, this is my godson and your third cousin or something like that, Harry Potter."
Tonks felt her mouth opening a little and just hanging there. She had known she was related to him in some way, but to actually meet him… "Hi," she said shyly.
Harry cocked his head at her and seemed to giggle quietly as he said, "Hi" back. Turning to Sirius, he asked, "She's cool. Can you change your hair color too?"
Tonks looked down and saw that her hair had turned white on its own. She immediately corrected that by turning it her usual hot pink, which drew a gasp from Harry.
"No," Sirius answered with a laugh. "Nym is a Metamorph and a very talented one. I'm sure she'd be happy to talk to you about it later.
"Now, it's time to take you to school and since we didn't get to drop you off for the train, then your new family will have to drop you off at school. Nym," Sirius looked at her, "please shrink his trunk for easy carrying. Andromeda, I believe I'll need a staff for walking, if you would?"
Tonks took the book from Harry and went over to prepare the trunk for traveling.
"Watch this, Harry," Sirius told him. "Andromeda is almost as good as your father was at Transfiguration."
Andromeda turned from picking up a tongue depressor and looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "Almost?"
"Well, I remember him winning every competition between you two, even though it was not by much," Sirius told her, trying to mollify her at least a little. "Now, I think only McGonagall and Dumbledore are your only real competition."
Tonks thought her mother was going to drop the argument until she smirked as she started moving her wand. The tongue depressor quickly lengthened and grew thicker. A moment later, she handed the sturdy black staff with intricate carvings running up it and ending in an ornate head that she recognized as a three-dimensional representation of the Black coat of arms.
Sirius took the staff and looked it over with admiration. "Time has only made you better also." He looked at her mother. "I do wish James was here; I'd like to see the two of you compete again, no matter who wins. Well, let's go."
"Cadet Tonks," Bones called. "Please return Mr Black here before nine this evening. Harry, thank you for your help and patience in this. Also," she smiled now, "please tell Susan hello for me."
"I will and thank you, Director," Harry said as he stood with a very miniature trunk in hand."
Tonks wheeled Sirius and his staff out with the rest following, including the guard on Harry's room who accompanied the director, the two returning to the Ministry.
A few minutes later, Harry had taken his first trip through the Floo Network and he was introduced to Professor McGonagall herself. Sirius had left his wheelchair at the hospital and now leaned on his staff as he followed their guide. Tonks and her mother walked behind Sirius to make sure he didn't fall and hurt himself.
— HP —
Harry looked around the Great Hall, his wonder as great as the first time he'd seen it for a brief time about four days ago. It again left him with the feeling that Magic was really awesome and brilliant.
"Follow me, Mr Potter," McGonagall told him as she started to walk between the two middle tables towards the front.
He looked behind and saw Sirius leaning against the wall with the staff in both hands in front of him, his other two newly found relatives standing by the man's side.
"Go ahead, Harry," Sirius motioned him forward. "Any house is fine with me."
As he hurried after McGonagall, the entire hall quieted down, looking at the new comer.
McGonagall stopped next to a stool with an old leather hat on it, which she picked. She gestured for him to sit on the stool as she turned to look at the rest of the students. "It is time for the last student to be sorted, now that he is ready to join us." She looked at him and said, "Potter, Harry," before she placed the hat on his head.
"Well, it's good you've returned, Mr Potter," the Sorting Hat spoke quietly for his ear alone, almost as if in his head. "Just whisper if you need to say anything as I evaluate you; you are one of the more complicated ones."
"Maybe Hufflepuff?" Harry whispered so quietly he could hardly hear himself.
"You are no stranger to hard work and I can see your desire for friendship. Ravenclaw would not be for you. Slytherin, maybe, but Gryffindor is closer. I think Gryffindor or Hufflepuff for you."
"Hufflepuff, please," Harry whispered a little more forcefully.
"If you're so sure," the Hat told him before it bellowed, "HUFFLEPUFF!"
The Hufflepuff table went wild, led by Susan and Hannah jumping to their feet and cheering. The pair of girls also waved him over after he'd handed the hat back to McGonagall, who was giving him a surprised and yet bemused look. She also waved to someone, but Harry didn't look to see to whom as he was watching Susan move the others down so he could sit between the two first-year witches.
He sat just as Sirius and the two Tonks walked by. Sirius, paused and patted Harry's shoulder. "Congratulations, Harry, I'm sure you'll do well there." Harry couldn't help his beaming grin as the trio walked to the end of the Head Table and took seats there.
"I'm glad you could join us, Harry," Susan told him.
"Thanks! It was nice to really get to know someone before I came. I mean, I met Ron, Hermione, and Neville on the train, but I feel like I got to know you and the school in our letters," he told her. "Oh, your Aunt says to tell you 'hi'."
"Thanks, Harry," Susan replied. "This is Hannah, the friend I told you about."
"Hi, Harry," Hannah gushed."
"Hi," he told her a little shyly.
Susan introduced all of the other first years also.
— HP —
As the meal wound down, Sirius saw Harry was about to leave, so he beckoned him over. He was pleased that Harry wasn't bashful about coming over nor about hugging him.
"You have a good time, Harry," Sirius told him. "Study hard and make good grades, but also take some time to have fun, maybe even pull a few pranks."
"OK, I'll work hard for you," Harry promised. "When will I see you next?"
"At Christmas, of course," Sirius told him and patted him on the back. "You'll come stay with me, see your Aunt Andromeda and Uncle Ted, as well as Cousin Nym. Then after your spring term, you'll come to stay with me over the summer. We'll be together every Christmas and every summer; I promise."
Harry hugged him again. "Thanks, Sirius!"
"Go join your friends now and you can write me," Sirius told him. With a nod, Harry ran off to join Susan and Hannah, who were waiting for him.
"I'm really looking forward to having him around," Sirius said to his cousin.
"Sirius, you mustn't mislead him. He has to return to his other aunt's house."
Sirius looked up and saw Dumbledore standing there with a disappointed looked, obviously having heard the end of the conversation with his godson. Shaking his head, he stood and leaned on his staff. "Albus, we may agree on many things, but where Harry will live in the future is not one of them, nor is that your concern any longer. You are the Headmaster of his school and nothing more to him."
When Albus started to object, Sirius held up his hand, "No, I don't want to hear it, you have no legal standing to say otherwise. If you disagree, take it up with Amelia Bones; I'm sure she'll set you straight.
"Minerva? Do you have a few minutes for an old lion?" Sirius smiled when she nodded and walked over, matching his slow gait as he left a frustrated old man behind. Andromeda and Nym fell in behind the pair of Gryffindors as Sirius took a tour down memory lane.
— HP —
The Sorting Hat watched the latest student, an older student, and a Headmaster in silent amusement. While the Hat didn't expect a repeat of this year any time soon, as it had been a very unusual year, he thought he'd turn the Hogwarts Protection System up one level higher. It wondered if it would catch anything next year.
(A/N: I hope you enjoyed it. If you wish, you can consider this something of a companion piece to my story "Harry Potter and the Unexpected Power". Not the same "universe", but certainly in the same genre.
Not sure what will come next, but I have at least a few more I'd really like to write. - Kevin)