Chapter 11: Making Waves
Considerable changes have been made to this chapter, though some things remain very much the same…
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Augustus Rookwood, Thorfin Rowle and Theodore Nott Senior were stood at the edge of the ward line on the Weasley property. It had taken a week to gather everything they would need to carry out their mission, but they were satisfied the plan would go off without a hitch.
Rookwood was a man of intelligence and refused to listen to Rowle's suggestion of simply blasting their way in and killing everyone in sight, much to the other man's chagrin. Instead, he had devised a cunning plan that would see the mission complete with a much smaller chance of them getting killed or injured. Having worked in the Department of Mysteries for many years, he had been privy to information and developments that the general public had not been, and although, due to various oaths, he could not talk about such things, there was nothing preventing him from using such advancements.
In his hand, he was carrying one of these said advancements; a device that would invert a ward scheme. This item would cause the wards of a property to simply reverse and, depending on the type of ward, could simply kill the occupants of the warded area.
The item did have its limitations, however. It could only be used on a certain sized area for it to work effectively. The Weasley property was big, so before he could use it, he would need to significantly reduce the reach of the wards, but that would only work in his favour. The ward power would not diminish but would instead be more concentrated on a smaller area, making them unstable, but a very deadly weapon.
The other problem was that the item itself was extremely difficult to create, very expensive and the needed materials were near to non-existent and could only be used once. He had managed to steal this one from the department many years ago and had held on to it just in case the need ever arose.
He had spent much of his time here this week analysing the ward scheme put in place by the cursebreaker son and he was very impressed by the work. it was second to none and the boy clearly had no qualms about killing to protect his family. The lethality of the wards would be his family's downfall, however, as they were assured to eradicate any living creature that would be caught in them.
"My, my, my these are very impressive wards," he informed the other two. "Rowle keep your foolish hands to yourself and do nothing, if you fuck this up then we all die."
The hulk of a blonde man just nodded and stood still. He was not a man of intelligence, but he understood that if Rookwood thought something was dangerous, then it most certainly was not something to take lightly.
Augustus began the process of shrinking the wards to a more fitting size for the device. It took only a few minutes to complete and he only had to remove one additional proximity ward. He was about to activate the item when he was halted by Nott.
"Shouldn't we see how many people are in there first? It would not be satisfactory for us to plan so much to find that there is nobody home."
Rookwood kicked himself mentally for forgetting the simplest, yet important thing.
"Homenum Revelio," he mumbled, and frowned at the results. "How many of them are there supposed to be?"
"There should be nine of them," Nott replied.
"Well, there are only three on the property."
"Three will be enough," Nott decided. "We want to punish Potter, this will do."
Rookwood merely shrugged and activated the device. He placed it within the ward line itself and waited.
Around thirty seconds later, loud screams could be heard. They lasted for only a moment and then the property was silent once more. They may have only gotten three of the redheads, but it would be enough for now.
Albus Dumbledore, along with the rest of the Hogwarts staff were having a peaceful evening meal in the Great Hall without Dolores Umbridge, a welcome absence to them all. Although the headmaster enjoyed the antics he would see from the students at meal times, he had to admit to himself that it was occasionally pleasant to enjoy a meal such as this, with his friends, in which they wouldn't be disturbed by the drama and noise from hundreds of noisy young witches and wizards.
He was currently sorting through the daily mountain of correspondence he received when he came to a letter from the Department of Education and Examinations simply marked:
To the Guardian of Harry James Potter
He opened the letter and read the contents. He found himself very surprised but could not understand why. He knew that Harry was an exceptional wizard, but this went beyond what he had expected from the young man.
He shook his head and gave a little chuckle, garnering the attention from the assembled staff members.
"It appears that young Mr Potter has taken it upon himself to complete his OWLS already," he informed them.
"Surely he would not have been ready," Minerva returned with a frown.
"I think you will find, Minerva, that with the right motivation and a good enough influence, the possibilities of a determined young man are endless," he said with a smile to the witch as he handed her the parchment.
"Impressive," she whispered as she finished reading. "I very much doubt that these will be beaten this year. It is a shame that Miss Granger is so rigid in her approach and relies only on information she finds in books. She would no doubt be a much better student if she was more flexible and would formulate her own conclusions from her studies, something that will have to change when she sits her NEWTS."
"Yes, but it is something she will learn to do, of that, I have no doubt," Dumbledore replied.
Minerva paused as something the older man had said finally clicked into place.
"Albus you don't think that Arcturus Black is a good influence on the boy, do you?"
"No, Minerva, I do not," was the firm reply she received. "I do not believe that it is Baron Black who is his influence. Tell me, who is it that young Harry reminds you of now?"
Minerva thought for several moments before she replied.
"Well, he is not like his father very much and the only similarity to his mother is the grades he has received," she mused aloud. "If I had to say he was like anyone, then it would have to be his Grandfather."
"My thoughts exactly," Dumbledore concurred.
"I still remember that duel he had with the German," Flitwick piped up. "He was a very impressive fighter."
"That he was, Filius," Dumbledore agreed.
"The man was quite the rogue," Minerva cut in. "But very dangerous. I also remember that duel, Filius. I sometimes think I can still smell the burns."
"Yes, but it is much better that Harry is like Charlus. He will need to be in the coming conflict, and he could certainly have much worse role models," Dumbledore pointed out/
"The boy should be locked up," Snape muttered.
"Severus!" Dumbledore reprimanded firmly. "I have told you time and time again about your attitude towards the boy. I would recommend that you curb it. I do not doubt that Harry meant what he said about treating you with the same contempt that he does any other that carries that mark."
"You would allow him to attack me?"
"It is out of my control. Harry is his own man with his own morals, if you treated him with respect then you may find that he is a powerful ally for you. You are after all seeking the same end."
"He does not deserve my respect. He is a mediocre wizard who has gotten lucky a few times, and luck runs out, Albus," the potions master replied.
"And Potter clearly understands that," Minerva interrupted, handing Snape the parchment she still held. "That is why he has been studying and training so hard."
Snape read the parchment and although he would not admit it, he was impressed by the whelp.
"Training? Using dark magic, you mean. You saw what he did to those men," he said, pointing a finger at the transfiguration professor.
"You are referring to his family magic," Dumbledore intervened.
"Family magic?" Snape asked with a raised eyebrow. "I was not aware that the Potters knew dark magic like that. If they did, I'm sure the boy's father would have taken great joy in using it on me."
"Harry, like his father is not just a Potter, Severus," Dumbledore spoke, shaking his head. "It just so happens that Harry has learnt the family magic that James did not."
"What the hell are you talking about, Albus?"
"Harry is also a Black on his father's side, surely you knew that already?" Dumbledore asked the man.
Snape, in fact, did not know. The Potters were a secretive bunch and Regulus nor Bellatrix had told him.
"That does not surprise me. He is just as insolent as his father and his godfather were and now, he has learnt the dark magic of the Blacks. It will be him that we next rally to bring down when he decides he will be the next dark lord."
"No, Severus, he will not" Dumbledore responded firmly. "Harry is doing what he has to do to end this and to make sure he survives. I too was worried that he was becoming dark but after speaking to the boy I can see that it is not true. He does not enjoy the killing, but it is a necessity of war and there is no doubt that many more will fall to his hands. I for one support him and will be there for him, if he needs me."
Although things had become heated, the interruption that came to put an end to the discussion was not a welcome one. Dolores Umbridge arrived with a couple of aurors and a very gleeful and seemingly triumphant Cornelius Fudge.
"Ahh Albus, I am so glad we could catch you," the minister spoke insincerely. "I have some very good news for you."
Dumbledore very much doubted that what the man had to say would constitute good news.
"And what good news would that be, Cornelius?"
"We will get to that momentarily," Fudge dismissed. "Let me ask you Albus, when was the last time you took a holiday away from the castle?"
"That would be 1973," Dumbledore answered. "I had the most pleasant visit to Guernsey; it is quite a fascinating place."
"Well, then today is your lucky day," the minister replied. "It has been brought to the governor's attention that you have not had a holiday away from the castle in many years, and it seems that because of this, the standards of the school have been dropping significantly. So, they have seen fit to give you the rest of this school year off."
"Ahh," Dumbledore mused aloud, "and I suppose that I have no choice?"
"No, Albus, you do not. I'm afraid, your holiday is to begin with immediate effect. We," he said indicating his group, "are here to escort you from the castle and you are not to return until the governors feel that you have had a suitable length of time away. You are, after all, not a young man anymore."
"I see," Dumbledore returned, having expected something like this to happen. "It would appear that you have indeed found a way to oust me Cornelius, very savvy."
"No, Albus, it is not about ousting you," the man replied with a fake smile. "It is to ensure that our children are under the best care possible and the governors have seen fit to allow Madame Umbridge here to see to your duties in your absence."
"But I am the deputy Headmistress," Minerva cut in.
"And you will maintain your post," Fudge responded. "There seems little point in moving you around when it is only such a temporary thing."
"I see. Well, as I have very little choice in the matter, I will of course comply with your request" Dumbledore conceded with a nod. "May I please retrieve some of my personal items, I fear as an old man in the advanced years that I find myself in, some of them are necessary."
"Yes, you may," Fudge retorted a little annoyed, "but be quick about it, I have other matters to attend to today."
"Albus, you can't be serious?" Minerva asked the older man.
"No, Minerva, Cornelius is right. It is time that I took some leave to refresh myself. There are many wonderful places I have yet to visit. Perhaps a trip to Wales would be nice. Remember, we spoke of this," he added with a whisper to his long-time friend.
"I know, Albus, but I did not think it would truly happen."
"Just remember to do what is best by the students and it will all be fine. The wards will keep you all safe."
"Get on with it, Albus," Fudge cut in angrily.
With that, Dumbledore exited the Great Hall to pack his things, albeit unwillingly. He knew the students were in safe hands with Minerva and the rest of the staff, but he was not comfortable entirely with the changes the day had brought. It would give him more time to focus on Tom, but right now, he was not causing much of a problem.
"I will be back soon enough," he said quietly to the castle itself.
The past week for Harry had been spent training and avoiding leaving the house as much as possible. Every day so far, the media had been writing about him, Arcturus and Sirius and making various speculations about the trio. He had been accused of turning dark, truancy and even disgracing the memory of his parents with his apparent alliance with the Black family.
He had received many requests for interviews, which he of course had denied, having more important things to focus on. A few had even had the gall to try and force him to attend an interview by sending portkey's that would activate at his touch. Arcturus had been furious and returned them with a few gifts.
They stopped arriving after a particularly nasty blistering curse had been sent to one of the more determined journalists.
He had ventured out a few times in one of his disguises to get a feel for the mood of the community and what he saw and heard annoyed him considerably. Many still believed that Sirius was guilty and had somehow managed get off on a technicality and others spoke of Arcturus and how dark the man was. He heard very little negativity aimed towards himself. It seemed that the public felt sorry for the 'poor little boy' he was and believed he was being taken advantage of.
The truth of the matter was that Harry didn't care what they thought of him, his annoyance stemmed from what he had heard about Sirius, from the misinformed morons on the street. He had no doubt that Fudge and his cohorts had been pulling strings again.
Harry and Arcturus were sat in the drawing room and discussing the developments of the week when they were interrupted by the arrival of a phoenix patronus materialising in the room.
"Harry, would you and Baron Black be so kind as to join me at headquarters," the bird spoke in the voice of Dumbledore.
He turned to the older man who was eying the patronus with distaste. He averted his gaze towards the clock as the creature vanished and growled.
"He knows how to pick his moments; the time is hardly decent."
"You know, you don't have to come," Harry pointed out.
"I may as well, it's not like sitting here is very productive," he responded. "Twinkly-eyed old git."
Harry had noticed that since he had gotten the information from Pettigrew that the older man had become even more pessimistic and cantankerous, if that was possible. It seemed that with the fifteen-year-long Horcrux hunt all but finished, Arcturus had very little to do. Harry hoped he would find something to at least keep him occupied. It might put him in a better mood.
The duo apparated away and appeared in the square opposite Grimmauld Place. They entered the house to find it very quiet, the only people inside were Dumbledore, Sirius and the newly returned Marlene McKinnon.
As soon as they entered the room, Sirius approached them, dragging a very nervous fiancé in his wake.
"Harry, this is Marlene McKinnon. I'm sure I told you about her when I was drunk," he said a little sheepishly.
Harry took the ladies hand and kissed the back of it gently. He then proceeded to look at her critically before shaking his head.
"What is it?" She asked quietly.
"Well, it seems that my godfather seems to definitely be punching above his weight. What would a beautiful lady of your quality be doing with a mutt like that," he added jerking his head towards the now gaping man. "You do realise he urinates on things that he sees as his property."
The woman turned red and giggled at the boy.
"That was only once," Sirius whined. "I couldn't control the animal back then and I could smell Moony everywhere. And you can get your own woman" he added pulling the lady towards him. "There's a bloody queue of them out there lined up and waiting."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Oh, you haven't seen it have you?" Sirius asked gleefully.
He almost sprinted to the kitchen table and returned clutching a magazine which he handed to Harry, his eyes full of mirth.
"Why would I read Teen Witch Weekly?"
"Just look," he said pointing to the magazine to which Harry complied reluctantly.
Harry Potter: Heartthrob
"This isn't good," Harry muttered, shaking his head.
The head shaking did not stop while he read the article, Harry was simply horrified by what it contained. It continually speculated on his love life and 'how many witches virtues' he had claimed. According to the magazine, he was systematically fornicating with the entire population of witches within and beyond the country boundaries. They described him as 'a stud with the most enticing emerald eyes' and claimed that 'any witch would be lucky to find herself on the arm of such a wizard'.
The icing on the cake for Harry was the appeal they had published asking any women to come forward and share their experience with the young man.
Throughout the entirety of Harry reading, Sirius was roaring with laughter to the point of tears. When he saw that his godson had finished, he placed an unconvincingly comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Now, Harry," he began in a false fatherly tone. "Don't you think that you should consider marrying one of these young witches whom," he pulled the article from the young man's clutches and scanned for a quote, "you have used to holster your wand?"
"It's not funny, Sirius! Where the hell did you get this anyway?" he asked. "It's not like it's the kind of thing you would read."
"I caught Dora reading it. She seemed upset that she was not one of your conquests or," he scanned the page again, "a part of your harem of hot honey's."
He broke out in peels of laughter once more.
"That's enough, you two," Arcturus cut in. "I don't give a damn where or how Potter is getting his jollies, we were asked here for a reason."
"Yeah, Albus. What was so important that we had to wait for these two to get here?" Sirius asked with a frown.
"I am afraid I have some very bad news," he replied sadly, his eyes absent of the usual twinkle. "I just got word from Arthur that the wards at the Burrow malfunctioned. Molly, young Miss Weasley and Miss Lovegood were inside, none of them survived."
Harry sank into a chair at the table in complete shock. It couldn't be true. Not Mrs Weasley or Ginny. He had no idea who Miss Lovegood was, but she was an unnecessary casualty of the war.
Dumbledore watched as Arcturus whispered something into Harry's ear and saw how the shock vanished and he managed to compose himself after a moment or so with effort. He didn't like that the boy was bottling his feelings, but he knew and understood that there were times it was necessary, particularly if people looked to you in difficult times for guidance.
"Bill would have placed those wards," Harry said quietly. "He is one of the best cursebreakers in the country, this does not feel right."
"They are my thoughts exactly," Dumbledore replied seriously. "Something is amiss, and I will get to the bottom of it."
"It's too much of a coincidence," Arcturus cut in. "I would hazard a confident guess that he is behind it."
"What the hell could cause the wards to attack its own occupants?" Sirius asked.
"I'm afraid wards are one of the things I have little understanding of, but I do not doubt that some of Tom's followers are exceptional with them and certainly had a hand in it."
"I'm going to have to draw him out," Harry sighed.
"What do you mean?" Sirius questioned.
"Well, I thought that after the Hogsmeade attack and the Azkaban breakout that people would wake up. If they are now blaming outright murder on accidents, then I doubt they ever will, not unless they see him for themselves."
"What are you planning, Harry?"
"He knows that I am alive, right?"
When the others nodded their agreement, he continued.
"Well, now more than ever, he is going to want that prophecy and he will have people watching it constantly. Do you think he would trust anyone else to get it for him? Especially if you three are with me," he finished, indicating the other men in the room.
"That's some smart thinking, Potter. He would have no choice but to come himself. He knows that between us, his Death Eaters have a struggle on their hands. But it does need some fine tuning."
"We need to make sure that the building is quite empty to avoid too many injuries or deaths. So, that means a late-night visit. We need to make sure that we are found by the right people, so that means preferably Fudge and a bunch of aurors, and you need to make sure that you can hold him off long enough," Arcturus replied thoughtfully.
"Why don't you just kill him? All of you together, and what bloody prophecy?" Marlene asked.
"No," Harry said firmly. "I will kill him, it is my fight. The prophecy is a meaningless thing to me that means a lot to him," he added dismissively.
"That's just stupid pride talking" Marlene replied.
"No, Harry is right," Dumbledore interjected sadly. "It is his fight. Me and Baron Black are too old to last more than a minute against him now." he finished with a sigh.
"And Sirius understands that this is my fight, don't you?" Harry asked his godfather who nodded reluctantly.
"And you think you can beat him?" she asked sceptically.
"Not yet," Harry answered simply. "But I will be able to one day. For now, I just need to be able to hold him off and that gives me a chance to see how much I need to improve."
"You're mad," Marlene said shaking her head. "If Lils was alive she would kick your arse for being so stupid."
"Well she's not, is she?" Harry replied coldly.
Marlene was struck by his candid response.
"I'm sorry, Harry, I shouldn't have said that."
"It's fine," he replied dismissing her with a wave. "We need to work on getting Fudge out of office too, he is not a war time leader, shit, he isn't a leader anyway."
"He has indeed become quite the problem." Dumbledore cut in.
"What do you mean?" Arcturus asked.
"Well, it seems that he has succeeded in having me removed from the castle and has placed Dolores Umbridge in control of the school. Officially I am on an extended holiday."
"That is not good" Harry surmised.
"No, it is not, but there is very little that can be done. He has had it approved by the governors."
"It does give you time to work on removing Fudge," Harry mused aloud. "I'm sure the two of you could come up with something," he continued, gesturing between the headmaster and Arcturus who looked as though he wanted to strangle the boy for suggesting such a thing.
Harry caught the look and shook his head.
"For fuck sake, this isn't about you and your egos. This is about finishing this and getting rid of Fudge can make it easier. You are both grown men, I don't care if you don't like each other but you both want this, both are intelligent enough to pull it off, and I'm sure that between you it will not be a problem so just bloody well get on with it."
"You are, of course right, Harry," Dumbledore responded.
"I suppose it is easier, but if you talk to me like that again, boy, so help me I will curse you."
"You always say that, but you haven't done it yet." Harry pointed out.
"Your day will come, Potter."
"Okay, we have a rough outline of what we are going to do," Sirius cut in. "Is there anything else?"
"I think I will have to take a trip to Hogwarts beforehand," Harry replied. "To get the last one."
"Yeah, with him out of the castle," Arcturus said, pointing at Dumbledore. "I don't think it is as safe."
"Would you remind explaining what you are referring to?" Dumbledore asked.
Arcturus looked at the Headmaster critically before he answered.
"Horcruxes. He has them."
Dumbledore was not entirely surprised that the other man knew of them, but he was surprised that he had them, if he heard correctly.
"How many have you got?"
"Including that diary that Potter destroyed and the one inside him, five," he answered. "There is one more at Hogwarts."
"I thought there might be," Dumbledore replied sadly. "But I believe there are seven."
"Seven?" Arcturus questioned.
"Yes. Tom is very superstitious and was very good at Arithmancy, I initially thought he would have made three, but from what you have said, I believe it is seven."
"So, there is another?"
"It makes sense that there is," Dumbledore answered. "I very much doubt that the soul could be broken more times than that and still function."
"You seem to know a lot about these things for a light wizard," Arcturus observed with suspicion. "How long have you been aware of them?"
"Since the end of Harry's second year when he handed me the diary," Dumbledore sighed. "I have been trying to locate them ever since."
"And what about the one that was in the boy, how long have you known?"
"I discovered it at the end of his third year after I ran a scan on his scar once he had driven off the dementors," he explained. "I spent the summer researching a way to remove it without killing him."
"And?" Arcturus asked further with a raised eyebrow.
"I found a way to do it and was going to attempt it after the tournament had finished. I did not know how long he would need to recover and thought that having the entire summer would be sufficient."
"What, short of being hit with a killing curse would have done it?" Arcturus asked, clearly curious. "As far as I know they can only be destroyed by fiendfyre and basilisk venom."
"You are correct," Dumbledore agreed with a nod. He sighed again before continuing. "I found a ritual that would allow me to transfer the Horcrux from one vessel to another."
"It can't be that simple," Arcturus replied, shaking his head.
"Indeed, it is not. To transfer it from one thing to another, it must be an item of equal power. We are aware of how powerful Harry is and I had to take that into consideration. The young man had just driven off over one hundred dementors with a single patronus. Finding an item of such power was not difficult in the magical world but I discovered it would not work."
"Why not?" Arcturus asked.
"Well, the Horcrux within Harry had been residing in a living vessel and would need to continue to do so or it would simply break free and seek the other un-housed soul fragment. Tom would then be aware that someone had discovered his secret and he would be free to make another, one that we would have no clue as to where or what it was."
"So, you had to find a live vessel of equivalent power to Potter to house it in?"
"Indeed," Dumbledore replied with a nod.
"And?" the other man asked impatiently. "There are very few people as powerful as the boy."
"You would be correct," he said inclining his head. "That is why I was going to transfer it to myself."
The rest of the gathered party looked shocked at the proclamation. Even Marlene who, prior to this conversation had no idea what a Horcrux was.
"And what would that have done to you, sir?"
"It would have killed me at a reasonable rate, but it would have died with me. I am no longer as powerful as I once was, so I would have succumbed to it, though not as quickly as most others."
"You would have really done that for the boy?" Arcturus asked sceptically.
"Yes," Dumbledore answered simply. "Not only because the world needs him much more than it needs me but because I care for him that much. He deserves to live a life free from the burdens he has."
Harry was touched by the sentiment the older man was showing. He had to swallow back a lump, but he knew that Dumbledore could see how much it truly meant to him.
"Well, I didn't know you had that in you," Arcturus spoke, shaking his head in disbelief. "Anyway, it didn't come to that."
"Thank Merlin," Harry whispered.
"We need to get this plan of ours formed into something more solid, but it is late, we should meet again tomorrow," Arcturus suggested, to which everyone agreed.
Harry and Arcturus bid their farewells and apparated back home, both retiring for the night soon after. Harry would not sleep well that night. He thought of the sentiment that Dumbledore had shown him, but his thoughts were plagued by the death of both Molly and Ginny. He laid awake into the very small hours, weeping for the two redheads, One, who had been very much like a mother, and the other on her way to becoming a close sister. He would not forget them. and he would make those pay that had a hand in their untimely ends.
Daphne Greengrass had not had the peaceful holiday she had envisioned. Not only had she had to tolerate her sister's continual teasing about Harry Potter, but she could not even get a respite from the boy. He was plaguing her thoughts constantly and that had been even before all the articles had appeared in the newspapers. It irked her to no end, and she could still not understand why she was thinking of him so much. There was even no escape from him while she slept. She would dream about the day he saved her, and this had subsequently led to further problems. Her dreams caused her to remember things that she had forgotten about entirely. The thing that stood out above everything else was his smell, after one dream, that was all she could think of.
It wasn't the smell that bothered her per say, it was that the smell could only be identified as 'Harry'. It was not a scent that was comparable to anything else, it was just him. No matter how hard she tried, she could not get the boy off her mind and the lack of control she had was what bothered her most.
The day the articles started; things had only gotten worse. Astoria had happily read them all to her and that one in Teen Witch Weekly had really grated on her. She believed what the article had said knowing that anyone as famous, popular and handsome, no, just famous and popular would conduct himself in such a way as the article described.
For some unfathomable reason to herself, she had kept all the articles, except for that one, and found herself looking at them several times a day. She would read them and try to dislike the boy, but try as she might, they just irritated her and made something unpleasant swell in her chest. She hid the articles knowing that her sister would tease her more so, and that, she could not handle.
She would be returning to Hogwarts the next day and was spending her final day with Tracey, who was trying to get her to talk. She could see that something was playing on Daphne's mind and was unrelenting in her efforts to get her friend to open up.
"Daphne, please just talk to me. I'm your best friend, aren't I?"
"Of course, you are."
"Then why won't you tell me? You know you can trust me," the brown-haired girl responded.
Daphne sighed. It was not something she wanted to talk about at all, but it was starting to become a real problem. She was barely able to focus on anything else and she knew that with going back to school, she would need to be able to concentrate.
"I thought it might be," Tracey replied, a look of triumph adorning her features. "And why is Potter making you act this way?"
"You've hardly been yourself these last two weeks," Tracey pointed out. "It's like you're not even really here and you're stuck in there," she added, prodding her friend on the forehead who swiped her hand away.
Daphne sighed again, seemingly defeated.
"I can't stop thinking about him," she admitted reluctantly. "No matter how hard I try not to I can't stop it."
Tracey raised an eyebrow at her friend.
"What is it you think about?"
"The day he saved me," she replied quietly.
"How safe I felt, how comfortable it was."
"That's not surprising. I'd feel safe in those arms" Tracey replied causing her friend to frown.
"It wasn't like that," Daphne responded shaking her head. "I feel safe with my Dad, but this was different".
"So, you like him?"
"No," Daphne replied vehemently. "I don't know."
"Okay, I'm going to say a boy's name and I want you to tell me the first word you think of."
"I'm not playing that stupid game!"
"Just do it!"
"Fine," Daphne agreed unhappily.
"Hmm," Tracey began, "Draco Malfoy."
"Pompous git," Daphne replied causing Tracey to giggle.
"Conceited," Daphne responded causing her friend to nod in agreement.
"Harry Potter?" Tracey tried, seeing that Daphne had let her guard down.
Daphne faltered, a deep frown forming.
"Too many words come to mind to choose one," she admitted.
"Oh, come on, Daph, it's obvious. When have you ever thought of a boy like that?" she asked.
"Never," Daphne replied simply. "Not that it matters. It's not like it would ever work."
"And why not?" Tracey asked.
"You heard what Weasley said. Potter would never be with a snake."
"And what the hell does Weasley know?" Tracey asked heatedly. "The boy is a moron."
"And there's all those articles," Daphne pointed out. "I wouldn't degrade myself into being one of his conquests."
"Do you really believe them? Come on Daph, you're smarter than that," she said to the blonde. "Or do you just want to believe them, so you have an excuse to ignore what you feel?"
"I don't know, but they could be true," Daphne tried weakly.
"I doubt it very much. How did you feel when you read them?"
"They made me angry, and it hurt a little" she admitted.
"Oh, you've got it bad" Tracey exclaimed in disbelief. "It made you jealous."
"It did not!"
"Yes, it did," Tracey replied firmly. "I have known you all my life, Daphne Greengrass, and I have never seen you show this much emotion, ever."
Daphne just sighed and shook her head. She didn't know what to think, although she did feel a little better having spoken to her friend.
"You can't tell anyone."
"Oh, come on Daph, I wouldn't do that to you, no matter how amusing it is" Tracey replied genuinely. "But you need to figure it out because you can't keep doing this to yourself."
"I know," Daphne responded with a sigh. "But what should I do?"
"That is up to you, but an apology to the boy would be a good start," Tracey advised.
"I'm not apologising!"
Tracey just shrugged at her friend. This was something she would have to figure out for herself. It was then that Ophelia entered the room and informed them that lunch was ready, to which Daphne exited as quickly as she could. Ophelia grabbed Tracey by the arm and looked at her questioningly.
"Boy troubles," Tracey answered simply.
"Ahh, Harry Potter," Ophelia replied with a nod.
"I knew it was obvious," Tracey responded gleefully.
"A mother always knows," Ophelia sighed as the two left the room to get lunch.
The week leading up to the funeral of the two Weasleys had been one of the worst for Harry in recent memory. It wasn't that anything else had happened, but a gloom had settled in on the young man that he just couldn't shift. He had spent as much of his time alone as possible, trying to distract himself through his training, but he was angry, and he found that his magic reflected his mood. Simple blasting and gouging curses would obliterate the dummies he trained with and wrought destruction throughout the room, so he resorted to his muggle exercises to try and cope.
He had not seen the Weasleys. He had learnt from Dumbledore that they were staying with Molly's aunt Muriel so that they could grieve for their losses in some relative peace, without being disturbed. The headmaster had also informed him that he was certain that the wards had been tampered in some way but could not identify specifically what had been done. Although it proved that it was not a mistake that Bill had made with the wards, he knew that it would not make it any easier on the man knowing they had been used to kill his mother and sister.
Harry had tried to plan his retrieval of the Horcrux but knew that he was unable to plan effectively in his current mood and state of mind. Not until Molly and Ginny had been laid to rest properly at least.
On the advice of Arcturus, he had learnt all he could about Dolores Umbridge, just in case he was to encounter her on his excursion into the castle, something that Arcturus warned was a possibility.
"You must plan for all eventualities," the older man had told him firmly.
Umbridge was certainly not fit to be a teacher in any capacity and certainly had no place at Hogwarts. Her grades were deplorable overall in her academic studies and her only saving grace had been her high standard of theory work, but with a wand, anyone could see she was useless. She was bigoted also, and the more Harry read about her, the more he disliked the woman. She had introduced and backed bills that would allow employers to be prejudice towards creatures and those inflicted with illnesses such as lycanthropy and vampirism. Other legislations that would prevent them from having satisfactory lives had also been passed, seemingly at her behest. There was a small part of Harry that wished he would encounter the disgraceful woman so he could give her a piece of his mind.
That, however, would have to wait. As it was, Harry was stood on some of the land that the Weasleys owned, tucked away from the Burrow, in which many people had gathered to witness Molly and Ginny being laid to rest.
Knowing that he would only cause a distraction and take the attention away from the people of whom this day was about, he opted to attend wearing his invisibility cloak. He knew there would be a chance for him to pay his respects when the service was concluded.
He watched as the members of the Order of the Phoenix and the Weasleys in turn paid tribute to the duo. He watched as the coffins were lowered into the ground and the head stones were given their inscriptions, and he watched as the people gathered cried and comforted each other. Harry cried with them; he did not try to prevent the tears. This was the first funeral he had ever attended, and he was sure it would not be his last, but he was damn sure that he would prevent as many as them as possible.
As much as he wanted to, he did not approach the crowd. Both Sirius and Dumbledore knew he would be there, but this was not the moment for him to offer his condolences. He waited for the crowd to leave and approached the freshly filled graves. He said nothing but conjured a rose for each one and placed them in front of the stones. He allowed himself to cry a little more and was stunned as he heard a voice behind him.
"You see now what it is we face," Dumbledore said sadly.
"But I can't save them all" Harry replied downheartedly removing his cloak.
"No, you cannot" Dumbledore answered simply. "That is not your responsibility, Harry, no matter how hard that is to accept. People must be responsible for themselves and their actions. You are only one, Harry, and try as you might, you cannot save them all. As is the burden of being men such as you and I. People hold those like us accountable for casualties and will aim their grief at us because they simply cannot face that they could have done something to prevent what has happened."
"Nothing could have been done to prevent this."
"Again, you are right," Dumbledore responded with a bow. "But it does not prevent the grief and it does not make it hurt any less."
Harry merely nodded in response knowing that Dumbledore was right. He was only one man and he could not save everyone. It was not just up to him to fight this war and those who did not want to live under a regime created by Riddle, would have to do their part to stop it from happening.
"I'm sorry, Professor, but I have one more stop to make."
"Ahh, young Miss Lovegood?" If you wouldn't mind the company, I will join you, she was, after all, a student of mine."
Harry was grateful for the offer and gladly accepted with a nod. The two of them apparated the short distance to the Lovegood home, giving a last glance towards the final resting place of the redheads.
They arrived on a large expanse of land in which a very obscure tower-like building was situated in the centre. Harry could see there were two men standing a short distance from them and he and Dumbledore approached.
"Albus?" a man dressed in yellow robes questioned as he approached the headmaster.
"Xenophilius," Dumbledore greeted the man with a warm handshake. "I am very sorry for your loss. I hope we are not intruding?"
"Not at all," the man replied and caught sight of Harry. "Mr Potter, I was not aware that you knew my Luna."
"I didn't know her personally, sir, but I wanted to pay my respects."
"Thank you," Mr Lovegood as he offered his hand which Harry took. Upon doing so, Xenophilius pulled away quickly.
"My apologies, Mr Potter, I was not expecting to feel such strong magic from you. I should have known though."
Harry was confused and looked at Dumbledore for an explanation.
"Ahh, Mr Lovegood here is very adept at feeling magic."
"And yours is exceptionally strong, Mr Potter," the other man cut in. "So protective, yet dangerous. You must have particularly good control of it."
"I like to think so, sir," Harry replied.
"Anyway, it was not me you came to see. We have already buried Luna," Xenophilius said, trying to control his emotions.
"Do you mind?" Harry questioned, gesturing to the grave he could see.
"Please," Mr Lovegood replied, allowing them to pass.
"What were her favourite flowers?" Harry asked the man who was now losing control of his composure.
"She liked Lilies," he choked.
Harry took out his wand and conjured a dozen of the flowers, bunched and tied together with a yellow ribbon to match the man's robes.
"Thank you, Mr Potter," Mr Lovegood said gratefully. "It seems that it is just me now. You see, Luna lost her mother at a very young age and it was just us. She was such a gifted witch and Luna was the same, but this was the first year that she had made some friends. She was an eccentric girl, but brilliant in her own way."
"I'm sure she was," Harry comforted, aAnd losing her like this must be very hard for you."
"Was it truly an accident?" the man asked. "I know young William is excellent at what he does. I find it hard to believe that he would make such a mistake."
Harry looked towards Dumbledore who sighed.
"No, it was not an accident. The wards were purposely tampered with."
"I thought as much," Xenophilius responded. "Was it him?"
"So, he is back. Luna said as much, but I didn't want to believe it. You will stop him, won't you, Albus?" he asked the headmaster who shook released a deep, tired breath.
"I am afraid not, Xenophilius" he said sadly. "I couldn't stop him now even if I wanted to. I am far too old and not as quick or as powerful as I once was. I fear that he has surpassed me now. It will be up to those younger than myself to stop him and young Mr Potter here will be at the forefront of that."
He turned to look at Harry critically and nodded his approval after a moment.
"As is your right, Mr Potter. None have suffered at his hands as much as you have. Please stop him. Please don't let my Luna have died as nothing but a step towards his success," he begged and began to sob uncontrollably.
Harry could feel a rage heavy set in as he watched the emotion the man was experiencing. It all came back to Riddle, it was all because of him. He placed a hand on the man's shoulder causing him to look up.
Xenophilius could see a brightly simmering emerald fire and could feel the magic pulsing through the boy. It was powerful yet comforting.
"I will, sir," Harry vowed. "I will stop him if it is the last thing I do."
They spent a little more time with the man and his companion, who turned out to be a priest who had conducted the funeral of the young girl. After listening to Xenophilius tell stories about his wife and daughter, Harry was reminded of that moment he had witnessed on the ferry to France between the young girl and her father. It seemed much more important to him now, that small moment. Not that he had taken it for granted but after meeting a grieving father who had lost his daughter, it truly put into perspective how important those moments were.
The young man and the headmaster left the Lovegood home feeling truly humbled. Harry knew he had done the right thing by visiting, because if anything, it had steeled his resolve further and caused the words of the headmaster he spoke at the graves of Molly and Ginny to set in. He could not hold himself accountable for every catastrophe.
Both Arcturus and Dumbledore had told him, and he had even witnessed it in the pensieve with what his grandfather had allowed to happen to him by carrying his guilt the way he did. It made him truly appreciate his grandmother even more who always managed to keep her husband thinking clearly and not burdening himself with things he could not control.
His grandfather had learnt the hard way but harry would not allow things to come to pass for himself in that manner. He understood his limitations, although he did not like them at all. But he was one man after all and there was little he could do to change them. He had his responsibilities and they were his to face, but it was not up to him to accept the responsibilities of others. He would fight for, all of them, but they had to fight for themselves also. It was the only way that they would win.
Dolores Umbridge was feeling very happy at Hogwarts, despite having to put up with the disgusting children here. With Dumbledore out of the way, she had managed to take control of the castle and even subdue the students to a manageable degree. She had her inquisitorial squad on continual patrols and the staff had also been quelled in their continual attempts at interference. She had Cornelius to thank for that. Not only had he given her the headmistress position, he had even provided her with three of his personal guards to ensure there was no resistance. If there was, then the perpetrators would find themselves expelled instantly, and if the staff was stupid enough to try to intervene, they would find themselves dismissed from the castle just as quickly, rendering the small amount of protection they gave the students useless. How could they protect them when they were not here to do so? Yes, she had seized the hold on the school that she wanted to. There was, however, one small problem.
She knew from since before Christmas that a certain group of students had been meeting in secret, discussing who knows what. Though she could not prove who they were, she had her ideas. Their luck was going to run out soon enough. All she had to do was wait. One of them would slip up, and when they did, they would all be made to pay.
She rolled one of her treasured blood quills through her fingers and smirked at the thought of seeing them suffer.
'Yes, they will pay for disobeying me,' she thought to herself.
A week had passed since the funerals and Harry found that now he had grieved, he was starting to feel much better, though the rage he felt towards Riddle and his followers had not subsided. He doubted that it ever would and part of him hoped that it wouldn't.
Arcturus and Dumbledore had been spending a lot of time together discussing their plans and seemed to be working well, much to his surprise. The two men had helped Harry complete his plan and he was ready to enter the castle via one of the secret passageways. He of course would be using the map and his cloak knowing that he could enter and roam the castle at will, undetected. He had been studying the map and had noticed that there was always a presence in the corridors, a few labels he did not recognise and some he knew too well.
The older Slytherins appeared to have gained some authority. From what he observed, there was always some of them present from fifth year and up in the corridors. The rest of the houses seemed to spend all their time away from lessons in their common rooms or dormitories, something that Harry found odd. Overall the castle seemed to be much quieter than he was used to, but he did not dwell on it. It would certainly make collecting the diadem much easier.
Hermione Granger had been working very hard since the students had returned to school to arrange a meeting between the usual attendees. Ut had been quite some time since the last.
Life in the castle had become unbearable, resembling more a prison than an educational establishment. All incoming and outgoing mail was scanned and read before it could make its way to the intended recipient. Umbridge and her squad of sycophants had well and truly taken control of the castle in Dumbledore's absence, an absence that was questionable at best as the students had not been given an explanation as to why.
At first, the students had been relieved by the presence of the three aurors, believing that they would rein in and prevent Umbridge from being as terrible as she was, but that relief had been short-lived. The three men were just as bad as her and would report students for the most trivial of things and enjoy seeing them being punished. Hermione could not understand how these men were aurors, the forefront of protection in the magical community.
Ron and the twins had returned to the castle shortly after the funeral. Hermione suspected that they weren't finished grieving, but from what the trio had said, they could no longer stand living with their great aunt any longer. They had been subdued and very quiet since they had come back and it was a sad sight to see, particularly with the twins, who were always able to lift the mood of the students, no matter how bad things were. There had been an announcement of Luna and Ginny's deaths, but it was executed without emotion and seemed more of a footnote at the end of the other less meaningless announcements at the return feast.
A poor tribute if there had ever been one.
It had taken almost three weeks to set the meeting up, but here they were. There were no smiles, and most were tired and disheartened.
"Does anyone have any news?" she asked the group.
"We can't even get mail without it being invaded," Susan Bones sighed irritably. "I tried to speak to my aunt about everything, but she was barely home all holiday because of the problems with Azkaban and the whole Pettigrew thing."
"All I know is that this place is unbearable now," Tracey cut in. "Malfoy and the rest of her squad are even making our common room and dorms miserable. We can't even do our homework without them breathing down our necks and having a private conversation is impossible."
"What can we do about it?" Neville asked.
"Nothing, unless you want to be expelled. You heard Umbridge talk about her zero-tolerance policy. She definitely means it," Hannah Abbott answered.
"We have just under two months to get through," Hermione tried. "At least we managed to get all of our spell work down for our OWL'S earlier on in the year."
"I bet Potter is glad he didn't come back this year. He seems fairly happy," Astoria said with a grin.
"Shut up, Tori," Daphne hissed through gritted teeth.
She figured that her sister was taking advantage of the fact they were away from Malfoy and his cronies and could openly bait her sister.
Daphne would have welcomed a distraction from the impending conversation, but not in the form it arrived in. Her heart sunk as a sick, sweetly voice spoke from the now open door.
"Oh dear," the voice simpered. "A group of students meeting without permission and admitting to breaking the rules? tut tut. Round them up," she commanded the group who were stood in her wake, waiting for the go-ahead to bring them in.
The students who had been caught did not hesitate and began firing spells at Umbridge and her cohorts, knowing that they now had nothing to lose. They managed to break free from the room and split up to confuse their pursuers.
Things were finally coming to a head at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry.
Harry apparated into Hogsmeade and made his way to Honeyduke's, intending to make use of the same entry into the castle he had used during his third year when sneaking out to the village.
He had decided to use this passage instead of the one in the shack as it led straight to the fifth floor. Much closer to where he needed to be. It didn't take him long to access the throughway as the shop was still busy, so he slipped through the crowd with ease.
Upon reaching the end of the tunnel, he removed the map from his jeans and consulted it to check that the coast was clear. It was. There were a few small groups dotted around but most of the students were either in the Great Hall with Umbridge or in their common rooms.
He exited the tunnel and followed the instructions that Pettigrew had given him, albeit reluctantly. He reached the seventh floor without hindrance and found the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy teaching some trolls how to dance. It turned out to be quite the amusing depiction, though he spent little time focusing on it.
He walked backwards and forwards thinking that he needed the room of hidden things, and on his third pass, a large, very old, oak door appeared.
Entering the room, he was amazed at what he found. It was stacked from floor to ceiling with various items of furniture, books and many other things he could not identify. Instead of wasting an opportunity like this, he called for Dobby who appeared instantly wearing what seemed to be a dragonhide jacket and matching trousers.
"Dobby," he addressed the elf. "I want you to go through this room and find anything that could be useful. If you find anything valuable, open a new vault with Gringotts and place it in there. I'm sure the school could use the gold."
"Yes, Harry Potter, sir" Dobby answered with a salute and began the arduous task.
Harry went about his own task, looking for the diadem and found it much quicker than he had anticipated.
He felt it before he could see it. He could feel the strong wave of hatred radiating from the item and he followed it. When the negativity became almost overwhelming, he spotted it sat upon the head of warlock's bust. Levitating it down, he placed and sealed it in a nearby box.
"Dobby?" he called once more. "Could you take this to Baron Black, please? Do not touch the thing inside the box. It is very dangerous."
Dobby shuddered as he took the box but disappeared, nonetheless. He appeared again a moment later and informed Harry that he had done as he asked to which Harry thanked him.
He left the elf to his work and exited the room, consulting the map to ensure the path was clear for him to leave unencumbered. What he saw made him frown.
Most of the students were in their common rooms as before, but there were around forty people in the Great Hall now, a strangely mixed group that Harry suspected would not be in such proximity of each other voluntarily.
He checked the time and saw that dinner had been finished some time ago. Harry was confused and looked at the other groups on the map. Nothing seemed overtly out of place. He recognised some of the names and they all seemed to be with people in their own houses.
He shrugged it off, his own clandestine endeavour making him overthink everything in the moment, a thought that was debunked only a moment later as he descended the stairs from the sixth floor to the fifth.
He was making his way down the corridor he'd arrived at when he heard a raised voice coming from a classroom on his right.
He paused to listen as he consulted the map.
Within the room, sounds of a confrontation continued and the dots whizzed around the confined space until four of them managed to corner a fifth, who had evidently put up quite the resistance, despite being outnumbered so heavily.
"I should have known you and your disgrace of a sister were fraternising with the enemy," the familiar voice of Draco Malfoy spat. "Hold her still I'm going to teach the whore… argh you dare hit me? Crucio."
Harry felt his anger surface. He had been on the receiving end of the curse himself and knew how painful it was. Without pause, he flicked his wand into his hand and aimed it towards the door, blasting it into a thousand pieces, crossing the threshold as the dust settled.
The occupants of the room were shocked to see a rage-filled Harry Potter enter. looking murderous.
Harry recognised them all immediately; Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Nott, all of whom sporting various injuries from the fight, though now they held the advantage.
Malfoy had his wand pointed towards the crumpled form of Daphne Greengrass who was twitching and screaming on the floor, his other hand working on undoing the buckle of his belt.
Harry growled and fired a bludgeoning hex at the blonde, banishing him face first with a sickening crunch into the wall. The other three simply gaped at the turn of events and before they could react, they were all stunned and bound on the floor in thick black chains.
He approached the prone form of the quivering girl and reached out to grab her shoulder gently so not to startle her. She whimpered and recoiled further at his touch.
"It's okay, Miss Greengrass," he comforted her quietly, causing the girl to turn to him slowly her eyes full of tears.
"Potter?" she asked just above a whisper in disbelief.
He could only shrug, feeling slightly awkward though relieved he had happened upon the situation.
Without hesitation the girl flung herself into his arms, shaken by the ordeal. Harry instinctively wrapped his arms around her and held the distraught girl to him closely, not knowing what else to do.
"It's okay, you don't have to worry anymore," he whispered, attempting to both calm and comfort the girl. "I will make sure he ends up in Azkaban."
It seemed to ease her considerably being held by him, and though he was out of his depth, he allowed her the moment of vulnerability to compose herself.
"He was going to rape me, wasn't?" she suddenly said, shocked by what had happened. "He's been threatening to do it. I didn't think he actually would."
"From what I saw, it seemed that way," Harry replied, his expression darkening considerably.
"That's why I kicked him," she replied quietly and began to shake again.
Feeling his anger rise once more, he turned and approached the boy on the ground, looking at him with disgust.
"So, you've gone from being a nuisance to a disgusting criminal have you Malfoy?" he questioned the blonde who was looking terrified. "What's wrong Draco? Don't you like it when it is you that is helpless? You are going to Azkaban, you filthy little bastard and good riddance to you, but first," he continued looking at the boy with complete contempt before stomping with all of his might between the boy's legs, causing him to scream. "That's what you get for trying. Had you succeeded, I would have removed them."
With a wave of his wand, the boy was bound in chains as were his companions and Harry turned to face Daphne.
"What the hell is going on in this castle?"
"Umbridge," she answered simply.
Harry removed the map and checked it. Seeing the same group were still gathered in the Great Hall, he frowned.
"What is that about?" he asked the blonde, indicating the strange assembly of people.
"Oh no, she caught them all," she noted worriedly. "We have been meeting since the beginning of the year and she and her idiot squad caught us."
"I assume that's not a good thing?"
"They'll all be expelled," Daphne responded.
Harry let out a deep breath.
"How bad is it?"
"Unbearable," she replied despondently.
"Okay, I'll check it out," he conceded.
This was not the plan, but it seemed like he had no choice having seen how bad it was for himself, especially what he had witnessed here.
"I'm coming with you."
Her vulnerability was evident still. She likely did not want to be alone and he couldn't blame her. What had almost happened to her would leave any in a similar state.
"Okay," he replied, removing his cloak from his pocket. "Cover those morons with this. We will have to take them with us."
"An invisibility cloak? And what is that map?" she asked pointing to the parchment.
"Something my Dad and his friends made," he replied dismissively.
Daphne covered the other four in the cloak, accepting that he did not want to discuss the fascinating map he had in his possession.
"Why are you here, anyway? Shouldn't you be with your harem or something?"
Harry simply raised an eyebrow at her and shook his head with a chuckle.
"You shouldn't believe what you read in the media, Miss Greengrass."
"So, you're not holstering your wand all over the world?" she asked with a smirk causing Harry to grimace.
"You read that article too?"
"Oh, come on, Potter" she responded. "There must be some truth in it, you said yourself that there is some truth in rumours."
"Not in this case," he denied vehemently. "I can assure you I have not been holstering my wand anywhere."
This certainly silenced Daphne. Either Potter was a very good liar, or he was, in fact, telling the truth.
"Do you know the Disillusionment charm?"
She nodded and cast it on herself, impressing him. It was not an easy spell to master but she seemingly had.
Casting his own and reaching out, he pulled her closer to him so not to lose her. With a flick of his wand, he levitated the four beneath the cloak behind them. They made their way to the Great Hall and entered to another scene that stoked the embers of his rage.
He saw many people he recognised cut or injured to some degree sat at a single table on the left, the rest of the furniture having been banished to the other side of the room.
There was Hermione, Ron and various other members of his house along with some Ravenclaws, Hufflepuff's and even a few Slytherins amongst them.
Umbridge was stood at the head of the table with three aurors and a collection of older Slytherin students, keeping watch over the roughly handled group. His anger rose to where he lost control of his magic and the disillusionment charms and levitation charm ended, causing the four under the cloak to hit the ground with a loud thud and rattle of chains.
Everyone turned to see Harry Potter stood in the doorway with his arm wrapped around Daphne in her own silver and green trimmed robes. The group at the table simply stared open-mouthed at the two while Umbridge and her own entourage looked on dumbly.
"What the fuck is going on here?" Harry demanded angrily.
Umbridge snapped out of her stupor and approached, addressing him in a sickly voice that made his skin crawl.
"Ahh, Mr Potter I assume?" she questioned. "And Miss Greengrass, we have been looking all over for you."
Harry pulled the girl behind him protectively.
"You must be Umbridge I heard that you looked like a toad but I didn't realise the resemblance was so uncanny," he said with disgust, causing the woman to flush in anger and a few stifled bouts of laughter to break out from the seated students.
"How dare you?" she screeched.
It was then she noticed the four bound students that were partially visible from where the cloak had slipped off.
"Oh, I will have you locked up for this," she hissed gesturing to the students on the ground.
Harry saw some of the Slytherin students stood with the aurors reaching slowly for their wands.
"If any of you reach any closer for those, I will peel your arseholes up over your ears," he warned dangerously causing them to stop in their tracks and look at one another stupidly. "You will find it will be Mr Malfoy who will be going to Azkaban and I will push for him to be executed. Use of the Cruciatus does carry a life sentence after all."
Umbridge blanched before sneering at him.
"You, Mr Potter, are trespassing. You are not a student here this year and whatever happens within these walls, is not of your concern."
"I think you'll find that when students are being treated like this," he said gesturing to the seated group, "then it is everyone's concern."
Umbridge began backing away to the safety of her own group and spoke when she reached them.
"You will regret this, Potter," she vowed to the young man wagging a finger towards him. "These aurors are going to be taking you in."
"Aurors?" Harry asked with raised eyebrows. "Aurors are supposed to protect the magical community. If they are allowing some of the most vulnerable people in it to be subject to this, then they are not aurors, they are scumbags just like you," Harry snorted, readying himself for the inevitable attack.
"DAWLISH," Umbridge screeched. "Arrest him."
Dawlish stepped forward as he drew his wand. He, however, had telegraphed the move and was not quick enough. In the blink of an eye, Harry had drawn his own and fired a bonebreaker, hitting the man in the knee, causing him to collapse to the ground screaming in pain. He then hit Daphne with a cushioning charm and banished her to the side to keep her out of the line of fire.
The other two aurors had not been idle during the interim and went on the attack. Harry dodged the spells with practiced ease, positioning himself as best he could to keep the other students out of harms way from any errant magic.
He caught the spell of one of the aurors and hissed at it before sending it back to its caster with blistering speed. It found its mark, and as it hit the man, a very large, green snake appeared and coiled itself around him, wrestling the him to the ground.
"Hold him," Harry hissed at the snake.
The auror was quickly subdued, his face purpling from the tight squeeze of the reptile.
His final foe, however, yet remained.
"Avada Kedavra," he roared.
A jet of green light hurtled towards Harry who did not have time to dodge. Instinctively, he conjured a brick wall that formed just in time to be struck by the curse, smashing it into several dozen pieces. He quickly banished the debris, hitting him with several of the fragments. He then quickly bound him in the same black chains he had used earlier and did the same to the whimpering Dawlish who was still clutching his knee.
"Crucio," Umbridge screeched and the curse hit him before he could react.
There was no doubt in his mind that it was painful, but it was nothing compared to Riddle's or even any other types of pain he had endured throughout his life. This stood, as not a testament to his toughness, but the ineptitude of the witch.
He turned to look at her in annoyance as she was trying with all her effort to cause as much pain to the teen as possible. Growling, he banished her with a flick of his wand and bound her the same way he had the others.
He found the rest of the gathered students looking at him in awe. Before he could even think of saying a word, a brown blur had launched itself into his arms and he found himself in the crushing embrace of Hermione.
"Harry!" she shouted with joy. "What are you doing here?"
"It's good to see you too, Hermione," he replied shaking his head. "I had to get something."
He spoke in a tone that meant she should not ask any further questions which she seemingly understood.
"Decided to show yourself at last then?" a bitter voice cut in.
Harry turned to see a pale and unkempt Ron. The boy was glaring at him, shocking him with his attitude and appearance.
"You come back and save a snake, but where were you when my mum and Ginny needed you? What we aren't good enough for you anymore, is that it? You didn't even come to the funeral."
The last was spoken as a grieving son and brother, the pain he felt outweighing the anger.
Harry felt bad for him, but he would not allow him to place blame for things that were out of his control.
"I think you'll, find Ronald, I was at the funeral. I went under my cloak so I wouldn't be a distraction when that day was about them."
Ron gaped for a moment but managed to compose himself.
"They still died, Harry. Where were you? You're supposed to be this great and powerful wizard, but you couldn't save them, could you?" he spat again.
"Let me explain something to you, all of you," Harry replied addressing the room. "It is not my responsibility to save you all, if I can then I will, but you have to take responsibility for yourselves, I am only one person I can't save everyone. Let me ask you something Ron," he continued to the shocked room, "It's been almost a year since you've known he's back, what have you done to prepare? Let me guess, you've sat on your arse talking about quidditch and slacking off."
"We've been practicing," Hermione cut in timidly.
"What have you been working on?" Harry returned, slightly surprised.
"Stunning, disarming and a few jinxes you learnt last year."
In one movement, Harry had drawn his wand and stunned her before turning his attention to the rest of the students.
"If you were in a fight and you found your friend like this," he said gesturing to the unconscious girl, "what would you do?"
Neville stepped forward and pointed his wand at Hermione. "Ennervate," he said confidently, rousing the girl.
"Don't you think the Death Eaters know that?" Harry asked them exasperatedly. "Stunners are for aurors wanting to arrest someone and have no place on a battlefield."
"Then why don't you teach us?" Neville asked.
"I can't teach you what I use," Harry replied, shaking his head.
"What, because you'll go to Azkaban for using dark magic?" Ron asked sarcastically.
"No, because it is my family magic," Harry explained causing those who understood to nod. "But I have some other books that I can send you."
"So, your family is dark?" Ron asked. "I knew it! That's why you saved the snake. That's it," he suddenly said in realisation. "It must have been one of the snakes who snitched on us."
Harry shook his head at the boy.
"How do you know it was a Slytherin?"
"Oh, come on, Harry," he pleaded. "You can't trust any of them. They're all on his side, there has never been a decent person from Slytherin."
"My grandmother was a Slytherin," Harry replied coldly causing his friend to pale. "And she was a healer and was not dark."
"Your grandmother was a s-snake?" Ron stammered.
"Yes, Dorea Potter who was born Dorea Black," he explained to the gaping group who had speculated on this very subject. "And I would have been a Slytherin also if I didn't meet that prat before the sorting" he added, pointing at Malfoy. "I had to beg the hat not to put me with him"
"You were almost a snake?" Ron asked wide-eyed.
"I am just as much a Black as I am a Potter," Harry answered with a shrug. "You soon learn though that houses mean nothing away from here. Everywhere you could get a job will have a mix of houses, it means nothing."
The students in the room thought on what Harry had said.
"Where are the rest of the Professors?"
"They have to stay in their own quarters after seven pm," Daphne answered.
Harry shook his head and placed his wand to his throat.
"CAN EVERYONE IN THE CASTLE COME TO THE GREAT HALL?" his amplified voice sounded throughout the building. "Expecto Patronum," he added quietly.
Arcturus wold be furious if he acted further without him. It was one thing to defend the students on a whim, but his next move would be one he wanted the old man there for.
"Miss Greengrass I am going to be taking these to the ministry," he explained gesturing to the bound people. "Would you mind coming with me? Your father will be there. I just need you to explain what happened."
Daphne nodded her agreement.
"What on earth is going on here?" the surprised voice of Professor McGonagall rang throughout the hall.
"Just dealing with some vermin, Professor," Harry replied giving the older witch a cheeky salute.
"Potter?" She asked disbelievingly. "What are you doing here?"
"Just visiting," Harry answered with a shrug. "It turns out that Madame Umbridge and her associates were either torturing or allowing people to be tortured."
"It had gotten that bad?"
"It had But I will be taking them with me so you shouldn't worry."
"You must call the aurors."
"Professor, three of these are aurors, apparently," he responded gesturing to the men in the red robes.
"Potter, you are going to be in so much trouble!"
"Well I have apprehended an attempted rapist who also used the Cruciatus curse and three so-called aurors who attacked me and allowed other students to be mistreated," he explained, causing the woman to pale considerably. "Oh, and that disgusting toad who tried a piss-poor attempt at using the Cruciatus on me. I'm sure the Wizengamot will be lenient with me."
"Rape?" she gasped disbelievingly.
"It seems that Malfoy here likes to get his kicks that way." he replied
"And why is Mr Malfoy in such a deplorable state?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Self-defence, Professor," Harry replied innocently to which the woman just shook her head.
The rest of the students not involved in the night's activities began to arrive, most confused by what was happening within the hall.
It was then that Harry noticed a small girl at the front of the crowd who had blood on the back of her hand and was clutching a red quill.
He frowned as he approached her, noticing immediately that she was upset and in pain.
"Can I see your hand?" he asked, kneeling in front of her.
She was very nervous but passed it to him, trembling. What he saw made him furious.
"How did this happen?" he asked her.
The girl said nothing but handed him the quill, one that was very different to the norm.
"Do you know what this is?" he asked McGonagall showing her the writing tool. She frowned and shook her head in response.
"It is a blood-quill," Snape cut in, a look of distaste marring his features.
"I'll assume it is dark if you know what it is."
"And very illegal. They are only to be used for signing certain documents and are heavily regulated."
"Did Umbridge make you use this?" Harry questioned the girl who nodded.
"Okay, I want you to tell Professor McGonagall all about it," he advised gently, not wanting to appear forceful towards her. "She will make sure it gets passed to the aurors. Is there anyone else that this has happened to?"
Several tentative hands were raised causing him to growl.
"All of you, write down what happened and pass it to a Professor," he instructed before turning his attention back to the young Gryffindor girl. "What is your name?"
"Natalie McDonald, sir," she answered quietly.
"Well, Natalie, I'm Harry," he said giving her a smile. "Colin?" he called causing the mousey-haired boy to approach. "Could you take a picture of this?" he asked gesturing to the wound.
The boy complied immediately and Handed Harry the photo which he pocketed along with the quill.
"Now, Natalie, would you like me to heal that for you?" he asked the girl again who just nodded shyly. "Okay, it might hurt a little at first, but I promise it will feel better after."
He drew his wand and traced the wound hissing gently in parseltongue. The girl winced but didn't pull away.
"See," Harry said placing a gentle kiss on the back of her hand, "all better."
"Thank you," the girl whispered.
"Now, all that is left is for me to receive my reward," Harry declared with a nod.
The girl hesitated for a moment but reached into her pocket and pulled out a single silver sickle and held it out to him.
"It's all I have, sir," she said disappointedly.
Harry just shook his head and chuckled.
"It's not your money I am after" he informed her. "I was thinking something more along the line of a hug from a pretty girl."
The girl looked around, searching for someone that fit the bill.
"I meant you," Harry huffed as he opened his arms.
The girl approached him nervously and Harry pulled her into his arms. With an exaggerated heave, he lifted and spun her on the spot.
"Definitely worth the effort," he declared, placing her gently back on her feet.
"For fuck sake, Potter, you come here for the simplest of things and I find you here hugging children. Angling for Fudge's job, are we?" Arcturus asked as he entered the room.
"Never," Harry replied firmly. "But I am planning on giving him a huge kick up the arse, so make yourself useful, you grouchy old git, and start taking these," he instructed, gesturing to the bound people. "You did call the meeting?"
"Watch your tongue, you insolent bastard, you're already in for a cursing. And yes, I called the meeting. I, unlike yourself, am not a complete moron."
"Language! There are children around," Harry pointed out.
"No worse than what they say," the older man grumbled but began levitating the people out of the hall. "The old coot is waiting for them in the antechamber at the ministry, so I suppose I will take them off the grounds and send them?"
Without waiting for an answer, he left the castle to carry out his task.
"Shall we, Miss Greengrass?" Harry questioned.
"When will we see you again, Harry?" Hermione asked.
"We will catch up soon, I promise," he replied sincerely to his friend. He was sad to be leaving but he had other things to attend to.
Before they exited Tracey gave Daphne a grin and a wink to which the girl narrowed her eyes at her friend in return.
Not noticing the back and forth, Harry led the blonde from the castle and through the gates when they reached them.
"Have you ever apparated before?" he asked.
"Yes, my father takes me along sometimes."
"Then you'll be used to it."
He took her arm and apparated them away knowing it was going to be a long night.
The pair appeared outside the Ministry of Magic and Harry caught Daphne as she stumbled, to which she smiled gratefully. They made their way through the empty atrium and past the guard on the desk who just seemed to stare at Harry apprehensively while he checked their wands in. It wasn't long before they found themselves in the antechamber Where Arcturus and a very angry and upset Dumbledore were waiting for them.
"Is what I have been told true?" the headmaster asked sadly.
"Yes, Professor" Harry replied. "Malfoy and his friends here did try to assault Miss Greengrass in that disgusting way and the aurors here facilitated Umbridge and her disgusting forms of punishment. She and Malfoy both used the Cruciatus Curse also and the last three", he indicated to Nott, Crabbe and Goyle, "were helping Malfoy in his attempt."
"I see," he sighed. "I am sorry you had to experience that Miss Greengrass."
"You have nothing to apologise for, sir" the blonde sighed. "It was lucky that Potter was there," she added, swallowing at thought of what could have transpired.
"Cornelius really is not going to like this," Dumbledore mused aloud, shaking his head. "These are some of his personal guard, his secretary and all of these students have parents in there."
"Well, Fudge should have kept a tighter rein on his staff and chosen his associates more carefully, because right now I don't give a damn about him. This might not get him kicked out of office, but it will certainly give him some much-needed accurate publicity."
"Or he could ruin your reputation, and have you thrown in Azkaban," Arcturus pointed out.
"I don't care about my reputation. I very much doubt that Azkaban would be so difficult to break out of without the dementors," he returned with a shrug
"Very well," Dumbledore muttered. "The room is ready, and I believe Baron Black managed to inform the media."
"We can't afford for him to cover it up," the other man explained.
Cornelius Fudge was very annoyed as he sat in his seat waiting for this undoubtedly pointless session to begin. He had been at home enjoying a very fine glass of scotch when he got the call, and of course, he immediately sent for Lucius as he always did for aid in meetings such as these.
He was at the edge of his patience when the door to the chamber opened revealing Albus Dumbledore and Arcturus Black, just the sight of them setting him on edge. He was about to address the pair when he spotted none other than Harry Potter and an unfamiliar blonde teen, but it was what the boy that was levitating behind him that caught the man short.
"Daphne?" Jonathan Greengrass called to his daughter who immediately ran in to her father's arms. "What is going on?"
"It's okay, Dad, Harry stopped them."
Before the two could speak any further, Fudge found his voice.
"How dare you, Potter? Those are my aurors and my Senior undersecretary," he seethed, spraying spittle in various directions as he turned a rather impressive shade of purple.
Harry was undeterred by the man's anger and was immediately filled with rage himself.
"No, Fudge, how dare you?" How dare you expose school children to filth like this?" he hissed, gesturing to the pile of bodies.
"Excuse me?" the man replied, taken aback by the lack of fear and venom in the boy's voice.
"You heard me," Harry growled angrily. "Your undersecretary and these sorry excuses for aurors were torturing children and this disgrace of a human being," he added pointing to Malfoy, "attempted to rape a young lady."
Fudge sputtered dumbly, not knowing what to say.
"Is that my son?" Lucius Malfoy asked disbelievingly.
"Yes, it is," Harry spat. "He and his friends here tried to rape Miss Greengrass and your idiot son used the Cruciatus Curse on her."
"Is that true?" Jonathan Greengrass all but whispered as he got to his feet.
He was beyond furious. His fists were balled at his side, likely to prevent himself from reaching for his wand.
"It is, sir," Harry replied, "but they were unsuccessful beyond the curse. There is an abundance of proof and I am happy to be questioned in any way you see fit. I am sure those four won't be so keen to be questioned under veritaserum." he
The entirety of the room was in shock. This was not something they had envisioned would be occurring during this meeting.
Jonathan simply wrapped his arms around his daughter and took his seat again looking very pale at the thought of what could have happened to his little girl.
Harry took advantage of the silence and addressed Amelia Bones.
"Madame Bones, what is the current sentence for attempted rape?" he asked.
"Attempted rape is five years in Azkaban," she answered, shaking herself from the shock.
"And the use of the Cruciatus Curse?"
"That would get you a life sentence or execution," she answered, her expression darkening.
"And the killing curse carries the same, even for aurors unless it is a life or death situation, am I right?" he asked further.
"Indeed, you are, Lord Potter," she informed him.
"And what about this?" he pressed, removing the quill and the photo from his pocket and handing them to her. She paled when she recognised the offending item.
"Where did you get this?"
"Madame Umbridge was forcing children to write with it as punishment," he explained. "The other students are all writing statements and I imagine they will find their way to you soon enough."
"Well, that will most definitely see Madame Umbridge in prison for the rest of her days," Amelia responded.
"Can you not see the boy is lying?" Lucius Malfoy tried desperately.
"I have more than enough evidence to prove it, Malfoy. Are you questioning my honour?"
Malfoy faltered at the glare the boy was giving him and he swallowed deeply. He was rescued from the staring match by Fudge.
"For goodness sake, the boy is clearly deranged," he huffed, pointing accusingly at Harry.
"The only persons mental credibility that should be questioned is yours, Fudge," Harry retorted. "Your own aurors, your own secretary and the son of your closest associate. It doesn't look good, does it? And let me tell you, I don't trust you to lead a waltz, and yet, you are leading our entire country."
There was a significant amount of murmuring at his declaration.
Fudge was simply dumbfounded. He hadn't noted the implications of the people involved. The boy was right, it really did not reflect well on him.
"Surely, Lord Potter," he began in his best political tone, "we can find a way to deal with this without having to send usually upstanding members of our society to prison. It must have been a momentary lapse in judgement, they must have been caught up in the heat of the moment."
The entire room were watching Harry, waiting to see what the young man would do. This could be a defining moment for him, this is how people would see him from now on. Would he follow in the wake of many others and crumble under the attempted machinations or would he stand tall?
It was as though a collective breath had been taken in and held whilst those within the room waited for his response.
"Stop trying to make excuses for them. This was not a heat of the moment thing, this has been a continual and systematic approach to discipline by your staff, and these morons," he added, gesturing to the students, "decided they wanted in on it, but they took it too far."
The held breath was released at his words, many nodding in respect at the commitment he showed to his laurels. Fudge was a buffoon but could make life exceedingly difficult for any below him. As things were, that was all of them.
"Then you will be arrested also for attacking them," the minister spat angrily.
"Fair enough," Harry shrugged and held out his wrists. "It just makes you look even more incompetent than what you are. What do you think the public will think when they learn that you had me locked up for stopping their children being tortured by your staff?"
Fudge found himself in a bind. No matter what he did next, this was not going to end well for him. The boy would not be swayed to drop the matter and Cornelius knew that he would be making serious reparations in some form. He sunk back in his chair, defeated, knowing that it would be much better for him to accept what had happened and weather the storm instead of adding fuel to an already roaring fire.
The members of the Wizengamot were more than a little surprised at how well the fifteen-year-old handled himself. They knew that one day, he would be quite the political force, be it ally or opposition.
"And just who are these other three students?" Amelia asked having written down the major points of the meeting.
"That would be Crabbe, Goyle and Nott," Harry answered.
There was a sudden shout of rage from one of the gathered members and a man stood up pointing his wand at Harry.
"You dare attack my son and accuse him of such a disgusting thing? I will kill you, Potter," he finished, breathing heavily.
To everyone's surprise, it was Lucius Malfoy who intervened.
"Sit down, Theodore," he hissed. "We will handle it."
Harry knew that Malfoy was already formulating a plan to get his son off the charges, but he would do everything he could to stop it.
"NO!" the other man shouted in rage. "I will not have this half-blooded bastard accuse my son and get away with it."
"Well, Lord Nott, you could always make that a formal challenge, if you so wish," Harry provoked.
"Theodore!" Lucius warned.
"Oh, and you think you can take me, do you?" the man asked laughing at the teen. "Then so be it, Potter, I am going to wipe the floor with you."
Harry frowned at the man, the prospect of an impending fight filling him with adrenaline.
"That didn't sound like a formal challenge to me."
The man's claw as clenched so tightly that Harry felt that his teeth may break under the force.
"I, Theodore Dominus Nott challenge Harry Potter to a duel by the honour of my family."
The gathered people in the room gasped. It was a very rare thing for a challenge to be made in such a way.
"I get to pick the place and you can pick the date," Harry replied not wanting to be caught in a trap.
"Fine," Nott spat.
"Then I accept," Harry declared with an incline of his head.
Lucius sat back in his seat, defeated. The Dark Lord was not going to be happy and Nott had no idea what he had just gotten himself into. Though valued, there was a strong he was either going to be killed by the Dark Lord for his foolishness or by Potter in a duel.
"If that is all?" Amelia cut in. "I have some prisoners to process. Notification of trial dates will be issued to all of you pending the gathering of evidence," she informed the room.
With that, the Wizengamot filed out, headed by Nott senior who stormed from the room.
"You did well, Potter," Arcturus praised. "And good job on not backing down from the challenge. It would have not looked good on you if you had."
"It's his funeral," Harry replied, to which the man grinned.
"Remember, never underestimate an opponent. The Nott's are well known for their duelling ability."
"Who said I was going to duel him? As far as I'm concerned, it's a fight. I know he doesn't plan on playing nice, so I won't either."
"Good. I will see you at home," he finished, nodding over the teens shoulder.
Harry turned to see Jonathan Greengrass approaching with Daphne still wrapped in his arms.
"Lord Potter," the man greeted with a bow. "It seems that I have to once again thank you for coming to the aide of my family."
"It will always be Harry Sir" Harry responded. "It does seem I have a knack for it."
"Then you may call me Jonathan," the man replied warmly. "You, if anyone, has earned that right. You do seem to have a tendency for it, a tendency that I am, of course, grateful for."
"And your family seems to have a tendency for landing themselves in these situations," Harry pointed out, causing the man to chuckle.
"That they do," he mused aloud. "Well, Harry, I must be getting my daughter back to school."
"I'd be glad to escort her, if you don't mind?" Harry offered.
Jonathan looked between the pair before nodding.
"You know," he said scratching his chin. "There is no man I would trust to escort my daughter anywhere, apart from myself. But I think I can add to you that very exclusive list, Harry," he finished with a warm smile.
Harry nodded. He had not known what to expect from Lord Greengrass when he received the invitation to dinner, but he had proven himself to be a good man and respectable Lord.
"Well, Daphne, I imagine your Mother will be writing to you first thing, enjoy the peace while you can" he advised, pulling his daughter into a final hug. "I hope we get to see you soon also, Harry," he added before making his exit.
The teens followed shortly with Harry escorting Daphne out of the ministry and apparating her back to Hogwarts. They walked together to the front doors in companionable silence, reaching a silent and peaceful castle that had been so very different only a few hours prior.
"Well, Miss Greengrass, I do hope we get to meet sometime under better circumstances," he spoke sincerely. "And when you don't feel the need to shout at me," he added with a chuckle causing the girl to blush.
"I'm sorry about that," she said quietly. "I was confused."
"Confused?" Harry asked, frowning.
She shook her head as she released a deep breath. She didn't know if she was ready for this conversation, but she knew not if or when she would get the chance again.
"I was confused about how I feel about you," she replied in just above a whisper.
"Was confused?" he questioned, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm not so confused anymore," she admitted shyly, looking the boy in the eye. "Thank you, Harry, for everything," she said gratefully and reached up, kissing him on the cheek.
"You called me by my first name," he acknowledged in surprise.
"Then you should call me by mine."
His inexperience in these matters showed as he stared for a moment before shaking his head of whatever thoughts he was having.
"I'm sure I can do that, Daphne."
There was another moment of silence between the two in which Daphne broke.
"Goodnight, Harry," she bade farewell reluctantly, squeezing his hand gently.
She turned to leave but was stopped by the voice of the boy.
"The day in Hogsmeade, your patronus didn't work because the memory wasn't strong enough. Your concentration is fine" he finished with a small smile.
"That is the happiest memory I have."
"Then you will need to work on making better ones."
A slight frown formed on her brow as she nodded, and in a moment of boldness, she closed the distance between them. She snaked her arms around his neck before placing a chaste kiss on his lips.
"What was that?"
"It seemed like as good a place as any to start," she answered.
"Did it work?"
"Well, I won't know until I try. Goodnight, Harry," she offered once more as she turned and entered the castle.
"I'll write to you," he blurted. "If you want me to?"
"I'd like that."
Both the corridors and the common room were empty as she made her way to her dorm. She entered her room to find an expectant Tracey and Astoria still awake and waiting for her to return.
"Are you okay?" Tracey asked.
"I'm fine, Tracey. Much better than anyone of them will be. Harry tore Fudge and the rest of them a new one."
"Harry now, is it? What happened?"
"Nothing happened, Tracey," Daphne replied trying to busy herself by preparing for bed, but she couldn't hide her smile.
"Oh, come off it Daph," the girl huffed exasperatedly. "I would have been all over him the moment we left the castle. He's gorgeous, he's powerful and did you see how he handled that little firsty?" she asked. "My ovaries nearly exploded at how good he was with her."
"Tracey!" Daphne gasped in shock. "He just helped me with my patronus."
"And how did he do that?" Astoria cut in.
"Well, I Kissed him," Daphne whispered.
"Shh! Do you want the whole castle to know?"
"How was that supposed to help with your patronus?" Astoria broke in.
"He said that my memory wasn't happy enough, so I kissed him. He said I needed something better," Daphne defended.
"So, you and Potter then?" Astoria asked her sister.
"I don't know" Daphne replied shaking her head. "He said he would write to me."
"And what about his harem?" Tracey asked with a smirk.
"I may have asked him about that," Daphne answered sheepishly. "He said none of it is true, he is either a very good liar or he was being honest with me."
"What do you think?"
"I don't think he was lying. The boy is too honest for his own good."
"We will just have to wait and see if he writes, but, for now, I am tired and need my bed. You know how grumpy I am if I don't get enough sleep," Tracey pointed out
Daphne smirked at the girl. She was horrible to be around when sleep deprived.
"Goodnight, you two," Astoria said with a yawn and exited the room to head to her own bed.
Tracey and Daphne finished getting ready for bed themselves and got in, both exhausted from the day.
"Night, Daph," Tracey called from her bed.
Daphne stayed awake for some time, replaying the day throughout her mind. It had been bad to start with and only got worse when they had been discovered by Umbridge. But again, Harry Potter came to help her when she needed it most. She fell asleep that night, content that the school was now bereft of Umbridge and happy with how the evening had ended for her.
She needn't wait long for the promised letter from Harry. Much to her and the surprise of Tracey and Astoria, she received her very first letter the next morning at breakfast.
Just a quick note, I do not hate Luna at all, I just do not subscribe to the worshipping of her. She died; it is what it is.
I received a few death threats the first time I published this story. Be warned, if it happens this time, I will respond to those with profiles and block all guest reviews until people grow a pair to put a name to the threats they make.