Disclaimer: I only own the plot, the concept, any places and original characters you don't recognize, the aliases, and any articles/pieces of writing that the characters 'authored' in the course of this story.
Chapter Five: Jupiter Pavane
Jupiter, the king of the gods, the ruler of the celestial wanderers, his influence is undeniable. Imagine what that planet would have been like, should it have lived? But no, the sway of Jupiter shattered it into pieces, leaving only the sad remnants of a possibility. But I must ask myself whether I will become like that lost planet, drifting away in oblivion as the clock continues to tick eternally on, lost and irretrievable? Or will I allow myself to be destroyed once again by the powers of figures that are much larger than myself?
I won't be broken again.
It should have come as a shock to him. Really, it should have. But in the larger scheme of things, Harry had predicted this moment long before the call had come. Such a move had to be made by the old Headmaster. After the chaotic events of the prior year, cumulating into the tragic death of his godfather in exchange for revealing Voldemort to the world as well as having that cursed prophecy told to him, it was inevitable that he be summoned up for a chat. Given his mental state then, there was no doubt that Harry had become an unstable element in this grand tapestry of lies, deceit, war, and death.
In their minds, no doubt they felt that he had the time to recover and move on. Now they needed to get him back on track, back to figuring out how to defeat the ever-powerful Dark Lord using him as both a weapon and a shield. Of course, some excuse must be made to give him the space and guidance he supposedly needed. Even if it was to his own possible doom.
As Harry himself walked down the empty corridors, he frowned slightly at the thought of the confrontation. How would he manage this little meeting? Which role should he play as? He most assuredly could not be his new self – the connotation that he was Harrison Evans would be all the more obvious to the old man, as well as the knowledge that Harry himself had been influenced heavily by the mind of his enemy. So, would it be the heroically brave martyr? How about the pitiful and struggling youth, attempting to make sense and survive out in a world determined tow ear him down to dust?
This required careful planning. That was certain. And though he had predicted this would come eventually, he did not think it would be so soon. He had needed to see the actions of the Headmaster before making up a set persona to act out; one that would throw off any suspicion of his other motives and would genuinely hurt them.
He did not want to be cruel. In no such way whatsoever. Though he may have picked it up after seeing all he had over his lifetime, as cruelty was the only thing that he had really known in his life. But, no. That wasn't it. He just wanted them to see that they had hurt him – deeply at that – and feel remorse for what they had done. If they showed any at all, in retrospect.
As he moved down the hallways, approaching the passage where the entrance lay, inspiration hit him like a stinging curse. He remembered the look of worry the Headmaster had thrown his way as soon as he saw the cold look during the Welcoming Feast. After that, he had kept such glances to a minimum. But it was clear that had seriously caused some anxiety.
He had an advantage after all. And he would be a fool not to utilize it.
Harry paused for a moment, studying his slightly distorted image reflected back on the sheen of a knight's armor. He cast a quick spell on his robes and uniform, adding a few wrinkles here and there, deliberately loosening his tie and unbuttoning his collar, trying to make himself look as if he did not care that much about his appearance. It was doubtful that the Headmaster would notice; the man hadn't been to breakfast or dinner in a week. It did not take long for him to replace the scheming shine of his green eyes to the dull cold emerald of apathy and weariness. Lastly, he ruffled the back of his hair, making the wild locks of hair even messier, like he had witnessed – with some disgust and embarrassment at the memory – his father doing in Snape's pensieve. Of course, he made sure that the green highlights of his hair were more noticeable before continuing on, his steps less confident and purposeful but distinctly reluctant.
This was a role he was playing. And image had to be applied to be successful in this game.
The gargoyle was as ugly as it ever was. For good measure, he gave the inanimate a scathing look (though not worthy of any Snape-caliber glare) and gave the password. Hershey kisses. As he stepped onto the stairs and proceeded upward, he grimaced at the choice. Why must the man persist in with the candy theme? Anyone familiar enough with either him or muggle sweets would be able to guess the password eventually.
But he must admit that if Voldemort did manage to infiltrate and take over the school, and the Headmaster's office was the last defense for the ancient professor, he could not imagine the ever "cheerful" Dark Lord standing in front of that horrendous gargoyle trying out candy names.
"Is that a candy name, milord?"
"Silence, minion! Hmm…Skittles?"
"Forgive me, my Lord, but what are you saying?"
"What did I say about shutting up?!"
"Yes, my lord."
"…I've got it! ALMOND JOY!"
"…Sir, I don't think that was it…maybe it's Smarties?"
"That's it! Avada Kedavra! … Now back to the matter at – damn it, it was Smarties!"
It's too bad though. He kind of liked the Death Eater minion. And he could just visualize Voldemort in a rage over the fact that he couldn't get the door open but some grunt could. That must be really daunting to the ego of a homicidal megalomaniac making his comeback.
…why did everyone have a minion except him?
…Really, this wasn't the time to be thinking of these sorts of things. Not at a time where he must be focused and ready to deal with Albus Dumbledore.
With a slight feeling of foreboding, which he swiftly hid behind a neutral expression, one that conveyed no feeling and no thought, he stepped into the office.
The office was slightly different from what it used to be – courtesy of Harry himself and his out-of-control temper tantrum. What few of the whirring and shiny contraptions that were not smashed were not displayed and the shelves that once showed them were empty. As soon as he entered, the portraits of the old headmasters that were present whispered among themselves before leaving in a hurry. Perched precariously on a perch in the corner was the phoenix Fawkes, in its young fledgling form, the slight specks of ashes on the carpet indicating that not much time had passed since the bird's Burning Day.
And, as he should have expected, the Headmaster was sitting behind his paper-cluttered desk. The pile of newspapers and magazines – including an edition of Time lay under a pile of unopened mail. He'd have to remedy that. Meanwhile, the professor was drinking a cup of tea with such nonchalance that Harry was sure that the slight spasm of annoyance flitted across his face for a brief moment before it was hidden once more behind his expressionless mask. Dumbledore looked older in his eyes, frailer, somehow lacking that same strength that he had always sensed in the older man's presence. However, those piercing blue eyes were still as sharp as they ever were, observing his every move with intense precision. He hastily cloaked his mind in rather…mundane and boring thoughts…before the older man had a chance to use Legilimency . "Have a seat, Harry," was the calm greeting, coupled with a benign wave toward one of the armchairs. Keeping up his charade, with the added feature of suspicion, he warily took a chair, not saying a word, averting his eyes. Just waiting.
For few minutes, this went on, until Dumbledore cleared his throat and spoke again. "The reason I called you here, Harry," he continued, "was to ask how you were doing."
"Fine, I guess," was the somewhat vague and solemn reply.
"Harry…I know it still hurts you." Harry repressed a snarl of anger at the acknowledgment. How could he know what he was feeling? What he went through? "I understand that you're still grieving, but you shouldn't lose yourself in loss." A soft sigh and despite his new skills, he found it hard to just not lash out and cry again. No. He couldn't do that. He had to stay on track. Focus. He had come too far to back off now. He was no child, if he ever was one to begin with, so he couldn't go running to the nearest adult and expect everything to be all right again.
The only way was if he did something about it. And being a pawn in some grand scheme was not the way to go.
"Sirius meant a lot to you – to us all – and his death surely could have been prevented. And I accept part of the blame. But life goes on. And now, more than ever, we must be concentrating on stopping more needless deaths." A finger under his chin forced him to look into those cryptic blue eyes again, which he met with quiet apathy.
"I understand completely, sir," he said stoically, his voice flat. "Life or death, like the prophecy implied."
"Harry, I don't think you do."
"I believe that I get the gist of what it means. To be the human shield everyone hides behind. To be the sacrifice offered out of desperation and fear to the beast. It's to kill or be killed. Didn't the muggles define that as natural selection?"
He was getting to him all right. The frown deepened and he could feel the worry practically radiating from the headmaster. "You aren't some kind of tool to be used," Dumbledore admonished gently. "You have choices."
"Really? I wasn't aware of that at all. Considering that my life is completely and utterly disposable compared to the rest of the world."
"While it is true that there are some things that cannot be helped, you always have a choice. It's for your safety and well-being alone that we have kept the truth from you and limiting some of your activities," Dumbledore defended. It was a weak argument. Knowing how things were, he was going to have some new rules thrust upon him. For his safety. "While I am concerned about your behavior and your latest actions with your account, you chose to make those changes."
Harry nodded grimly before rising to his feet. "Sure," he replied. "It's for my safety." Turning on his heel, he left the office before the other had the chance to reply, leaving behind a heavily disturbed headmaster…and taking a copy of Time magazine – an unopened one at that – along with him.
(…printed in the London Times, circulated internationally…)
Don't Tread on Me!
The Constantly Broken Unalienable Right…to Privacy
If there was one right that is particularly close to our hearts, it is our belief that we are entitled to privacy. Whether it is from our parents, friends, or government, we defend that tenet with the kind of self-righteousness that one does not usually apply to other parts of life (even to those aspects that would require said quality). Now, it is even more of a concern, considering the vast amount of connections and ties between the individual, their information, and others. It is a constant question on our minds – where are we overstepping the boundaries when it comes to privacy?
There is a constant concern among parental guardians that their child will do something…horrifically wrong, so to speak. Be it drugs, smoking, cheating, sex, or other things. Of course, they have the right to check up on their child. I condone it…to a point. I maybe biased, as I am a teenager myself, but I feel that it is an important subject and one that I am currently tackling with my own caretakers. So, you'll have to excuse the absence of my wit here.
A parent or guardian has the complete and utter responsibility to look after their child. How else is the child going to know what is right and wrong, in the moral and social sense? Guidance is a must. But when a child gets older, there has to be some loosening of the reins. A teenager will want more control over their life – it's an absolute necessity in the end, unless one wants their child to be completely unprepared to survive on their own. Today's society is filled with risks enough and understandably, guardians are worried, as they should be.
I don't feel that the boundaries must be set when it comes to individual privacy, though. I definitely don't appreciate my mail and messages being read and carefully monitored. I'm not exactly grateful that my accounts, ones set up for my own personal use and no one should be messing with, had been altered and changed without my notification. While the prospect of a curfew (at a reasonable time) is rather sensible, I don't see why I have to be limited to a set amount of distance to be in at the same time! I don't like my life being picked apart, each little piece ready to be controlled. I won't take it and I doubt that any of you readers would. I have my own life to life and damn it, I will live it on my terms!
It doesn't stop there, though. Far from it. The issue of privacy is not limited to the petty desires of children and teens. There are much larger cases to put into context.
One of my earliest memories of my childhood had never been forgotten, because the said subject of the recollection kept occurring day after day after day. It was a ceaseless routine that annoyed me ceaselessly. What was it? My aunt, peering through the blinds of the kitchen window, her giraffe-like neck stretched as far out as it could extend, spying on neighbors. I never understood my aunt's fascination with the neighbors next door – they weren't particularly interesting or strange, boring much like the rest of my neighborhood. I won't even speak of the amount of gossip she shared with those nosy old hens at the grocery store. Every night at dinner, I was forced to listen to my aunt rattle off all that she heard that day. This exasperation might be the only thing that my uncle, my cousin, and myself ever had a consensus upon. It always bothered me how she always never cared about who or what she was talking about. But she wanted know. As such…that was her reasoning to do what she did. I guess I should be thankful my…less than auspicious reputation drove away such people. No one wants the "criminal delinquent" to know that they had been talking about him. Gasp! What if he does know?! Squeal! What if he comes after us! Run away!
…And you wonder why I go by an alias? But fear not!
…Or maybe you should. For this cycle keeps getting larger and larger.
In this age of information and communication, there is rarely ever anything that could not be found or traced anywhere in the world. Of course, the purpose of this was originally to ensure that whatever communiqué got to where it was supposed to and, if this were not the case, be returned to the proper sender. But in turbulent times of innovation and chaos, such things are twisted to fit the needs of others. With the introduction and full-out explosion of the Internet, a new kind of thief and saboteur was invented: the hacker. The hackers of today could get in and out of the most complex and complicated of computer systems, retrieve whatever information they want or plant whatever virus they wanted to unleash, and leave without leaving any trace at all. And if such experts could get into the government's computers, imagine how safe yours must be?
But does anyone have the right to access sensitive information about us through legal processes, even without our consent? Surely, there have been excuses for such actions. "Precautions" have to be taken and that this is making us safer. It's for our own good. Sure, it could be. However, where does it stop? What is the limit?
And does the decision belong to all of us together…or to the individual?
"So, he doesn't know?"
"Nope. From what I could tell, at any rate." Harry leaned back in his chair, tapping the feather of his quill against in thought as he spoke. "I don't think I've given him any reason to be suspicious either after that act, either."
The fire was crackling merrily in the Gryffindor Common Room, a majority of the house gathered around it, enjoying themselves by talking with friends, doing homework in groups, or playing games such as Exploding Snap and Gobstones. Only a few were not participating in this innate unity: the one or two outcasts as well as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. The two were sitting at a table in the corner across from one another, away from the distracting noise, several books open before them and parchment whose words were gleaming with the shine of ink. While Hermione's quill flew across the paper at a rapid speed, his was more leisurely and thoughtful. Though this instance was not very strange or extraordinary in the very least. If it were any other way, then it would be.
And Harry severely doubted that Hermione would allow that.
It had been a full day since his talk with Dumbledore. And he was right – he did have new rules to follow. Apparently, Dumbledore wanted to talk to him about them himself, but Harry had left before he had a chance to. So, McGonagall spoke to him about the conditions later that night. An earlier curfew, never to be alone under any circumstances when on the grounds and especially at Hogsmeade, as well as the revelation that his mail was to be checked and read for hidden curses and charms before he got a chance to get them.
Needless to say, he wasn't too happy about it at all. And it must've showed on his face afterward when he swept into the common room, people getting out of his way as he went up to the dormitory. Writing about it certainly helped get it out of his system, but in this case it did not help remedy the situation. The mail would be simple enough. Harry had sent Hedwig out just that morning with a note to Keyes. If all went to plan, his mail (sifted through by a team of goblins hired by Keyes and paid quite well for going through thousands of letters, by subject and importance) would either arrive using the Gringotts Special eagle owls, who would not allow anyone other than the recipient to take the delivery, or through Hermione.
The others? He was still thinking about that.
While he was out, Hermione had contacted Jason Connolly and Lisa Turpin. According to her, Connolly had responded with fervor, handing her an essay right there on the spot. He had been planning on sending some of his own work to the papers already for similar reasons to Harry's own. Turpin, however, was much more cautious and skeptical. It took some persuasion on her part to convince her of the authenticity of their offer. Hermione had not revealed to them at the time that he was Harrison Evans, but he soon explained himself in the Room of Requirement after lunch.
As for the Slytherin representative? Malfoy was still the only possible choice from there. And it did not take much to gather from Hermione's closed expression that the only way they would willingly approach Malfoy in friendship would happen over her dead body. Harry redeemed himself – or tried to – by saying it was just a thought. There was nothing wrong with thoughts, right? Of course not. That didn't quell her doubts though. There was no danger in it anyway – he would make no offers to Malfoy unless he had some really spectacular blackmail on his hands.
Oh, he had an idea on that brewing already. But now was not the time to implement it. For starters, he needed a picture, which required a camera. The only one that was easily accessible belonged to Colin Creevey. Yeah. And getting a camera away from Colin Creevey would need a whole lot of planning.
"What is it, Potty? Not satisfied just plaguing my life with just your existence that you need to actually talk to me?"
"Yes. Anyway, I have a proposition for you. And you'd be pretty stupid to turn it down."
"Really. Well, I'm sorry but I'm not interested in hearing what idiotic harpings that those imbeciles brainwashed you with. Bye."
"Pity. Ah well. I guess I'll just have to circulate the picture around then. I tried to spare you the embarrassment, but…"
"What are you talking about?!"
"…Where'd you get that?"
"I don't think that's the most important question you should be asking me right now."
"Okay! What do you want from me?!"
"Why should I tell you? You already said no. Therefore, I'll just have to make a few copies of this. It shouldn't take too long. Bye, Malfoy."
"Wait! Come back here! POTTER!"
He'd need to act fast though. Catching Malfoy…in the act, so to speak…should be done quickly.
Invisibility cloaks were blessed things.
Furiously writing on how transfiguration on the human body could be both beneficial and incredibly dangerous, Hermione asked, without missing a beat, "Don't you feel guilty, for acting like that? He's probably more worried about you than he already was."
"He probably is," Harry admitted, grudgingly telling her. He hated the fact that he did feel culpable about it all. Even if it was better in the long run for his schemes and despite what happened last year, the pain and torments that he was forced to brave without any guidance whatsoever when he sorely needed it, he still felt awful about it. Which did not sit well with him. "And I will say that I did feel sorry. But I'm not giving up what I started. I'm saying my views, not those of the Order of the Phoenix." The tip of his quill broke in mid stroke from the increased pressure that he put on it subconsciously, the ink blotting the last letter he wrote. Harry cursed under his breath, drawing a scolding glare from Hermione, and started to cast an erasing charm to get rid of the mess.
Hermione sighed and grabbed a quill from her bag, handing it to him. "Use mine. There's nothing wrong in feeling guilty about what you had to do."
"It isn't that, per se. It's because he deserves it in all respects."
"If that's what you think, then why do you feel guilty?"
"I've yet to figure that out yet," Harry answered, "but I hope to soon enough." He then blinked absently, before turning in his seat to look over the people in the common room. The usual noise that pervaded the common room about this time was not present. It didn't take long to realize why. "By the way, where's Ron?"
Hermione frowned in distaste. "Quidditch practice. His fan club was tailing after him after he made his way onto the field." He smiled slightly. Hermione was much more angrier with Ron than himself. Perhaps it had something to do with the girls that constant followed him around – all giggles and no brain. He had thought that Ron had a crush on their bushy-haired friend, but it seemed that he was wrong about that. Nearly every chance that Ron tried to speak to her, she blew him off. Most of the time, she complained, the only reason they spoke was because Ron needed help with some kind of work – particularly the answers. Out of her typical nature and righteous anger, she declined every single time. At one point, she told him to go ask one of the airheads that worshipped the ground he walked on.
As for himself, Harry limited himself to being cold and distant. Even Ron, though he usually overlooked such trifles, was eventually getting the idea of Harry's indifference. So, the redhead was trying to spend more time with him. Sometimes, it was okay and he felt like welcoming his old friend back. But then something would always come up to stop it – whether in the form of an offhand comment or a group of admirers. But if there was one thing that Harry got out of this situation was that he was getting better at escaping people's notice, to the point that he had made it in late to Snape's class and was not noticed to be late at all. And that he should avoid standing too close to the girl who constantly chewed bubblegum. At one point, when making a bubble, it popped. Covering everyone with it. It was quite unpleasant. And a hassle to get off – his hair was bad enough to deal with on its own, he didn't need the help of sticky chewed strawberry-flavored bubblegum to provide more difficulty.
Nothing more needed to be said.
(…printed in The Daily Prophet, circulated internationally)
A Utterly Pointless and Outdated Argument
The Bloodline Complex
No doubt that I'm going to hit a few nerves when I publish this out. Especially when I judge the reactions from my contemporaries Helena Crawford and Joseph West. Though my other friend who forays into the writing field did have an interesting response of his own. It was quite strange. But, as with most things with Harrison Evans, it is to be expected that he act out of the norm. I believe that it has become his trademark.
Should I be talking about this or not? I do think that out of anyone that could write about such a topic, a halfblood such as myself would certainly fit the bill just fine. As the daughter of a well-off wizard and a muggle, my experiences with the wizarding and muggle worlds put them at around an equal scale for me. It is this way that I consider that I'm privileged: I've seen the best and worst of both worlds, something that muggleborns and purebloods really don't have the chance to.
You maybe confused by what I mean by muggleborns not seeing both, considering that they were raised as muggles and educated in wizardry. Indeed, Helena had to be included in this group – she is muggleborn herself after all. However, it is impossible to deny that for muggleborns, there will always be a bias. They were raised in different environments, and then introduced to a new one. It is through this premise, that they will always compare everything they find in the wizarding to the muggle one they were born in. For them, it is hard to imagine living in a household completely devoid of muggle items, at all times for every day of your life, where the magical world is all around you.
Purebloods have a similar handicap when it comes to the muggle world. It is a common trait among purebloods, particularly ones from old and socially conscious families, to be less than gracious towards muggles and, as a result, muggleborns. Growing up in a magical environment, of course they would see the efforts of muggles to compensate for a lack of magic as low and ludicrous. And I doubt you would see many pureblood wizards to intrepidly waltz through a muggle town with ease…or without frustration. The only wizard who comes to mind is Albus Dumbledore, who would probably be traipsing through the streets joyfully, as well as making sure to tiptoe through the tulips.
The amazing fact about that tidbit is that you actually can see him doing that.
But if there is one thing that being a Hogwarts student always makes you acutely aware of, the school being under Albus Dumbledore or not, is the intense rivalry between the purebloods and muggleborns. Surely, the first thing that comes to mind is Slytherin house. It isn't a house thing. Not every single muggle-hater is in Slytherin. I know plenty that are in the other houses – even a few in Gryffindor. And I know quite a few nice Slytherins, some are even muggleborn. My friend Joseph West comes to mind, though he is no Slytherin. I can gather that all of you figured that out already – he isn't exactly subtle or cunning.
The question is, what exactly makes the subject so sensitive and instigative? Why do the purebloods (and I use the term generally towards ones that dislike muggles) hate the muggleborns, and vice versa?
It is a good question. And from all that I could gather, I could only trace it to a superiority complex. You heard me. The whole conflict is based on an imbecilic idea that one set group or individual must feel equal if not better than the other, coupled with a wide array of social changes in the last couple of centuries. This is the driving force behind the entire trouble. Muggleborns, who are growing to be an overwhelming majority in the wizarding population, feel that they are just as good and influential as those old families that have produced wizards for a long period of time. Purebloods meanwhile, in the light of this rising social threat, respond by spreading the idea that muggleborns are weaker and have dirty or 'muddy' blood' unsuited for the practice of the magical arts (thus, coining the insulting term 'mudblood').
Genealogy and the accepted theory of evolution speak otherwise. Ironically, these are concepts that are credited solely to muggle scientists, though ones unaware of the wizarding world.
According to Charles Darwin, the strongest will survive and the weaker will perish. If pureblood families had always existed, then essentially there should have been a few primordial ancestors of humanity that possessed the ability to use magic. But if that were the case, how come there aren't more wizards and witches in the world, with few or no muggles? Aren't wizards stronger than muggles? If so, then why are the muggles so widely more populous than us? Is it our magic, some strange twist of nature, or perhaps the muggles' impressive aptitude for adaptation and change? That is another matter entirely, but one that should come under further investigation.
Then there is also genealogy, the study of lineage and ancestry. Certainly, wizards have been following their family lines for a while, but not as long as muggles (particularly muggle nobility) have. Common trends among the major pureblood families' trees, however, show a shared theme. Most of the lines start with ancestors in the late-Roman era and early medieval period. A precious few start before that. However, that is where the line just begins. There are no records of the relatives of these forbearers of the pureblood families, or of any ancestors before that. They just begin. Which, logic states, means that these ancestors were muggleborn themselves. Because like muggleborns of today, they just appear on the magical scene with no prior ties.
Though this does prove that any conflict between the two groups is meaningless, I have no doubt that it will continue. Such drastic changes in thought are too massive to suddenly inspire a change in societal mannerisms. Time, as well as acceptance, is the only thing that could. And if you were wondering how Harrison reacted, it's really quite simple.
He laughed. But if it was about the content or the image of Headmaster Dumbledore 'tiptoeing through the tulips', I'm not sure.
The classic tinkle of glasses rapping together broke the somewhat somber mood, as everyone took appreciative sips of the bubbling champagne. Harry himself only allowed himself a small amount – for the rest of the evening he'll stay to water. Alcohol was good in moderation. He had no desire to repeat the last incident either. It was no joke that hangovers were hell on a man and Hermione's silent 'I-told-you-so' was not a welcome addition to that situation.
There's only so much worshipping of the porcelain god that he could be willing to give. Particularly on a school day.
He took his seat and prepared to devour the succulent meal in front of him. It was practically calling out to him. Though it may have to do with the fact that he skipped over dinner at Hogwarts and was absolutely famished. Then making a speech on the general apathy towards the conflicts happening in other nations entirely in French, since they all were in Paris.
All he had to say there was to thank heaven for translating spells.
The speech had been well received, judging from the response from the other guests gathered at this gala party. But just because they said it was a good speech and his views eloquently delivered, did not mean that they agreed or not. More likely there was going to be some negative feedback in the next couple of days. There always were. However, this seemed to be the way things were run in this business. Put a good face while snubbing in written word. Though, from his observations of these spectacles, it fed more from jealousy and conceit rather than a true love of what they were doing. One example could be drawn between Wendell Halliwell and Daphne Reyes from the States. He had seen there work and they were constantly at each other's throats. Yet, not just three minutes before the toast, they left together in the same taxi.
That was the general view, at any rate. Of course, there were exceptions, particularly embodied in the form of the Captain and Isolde Vitronka (no, not Tenielle). A jolly Irishman with a heady love of strong spirits and the ocean, the Captain was the life of the party. It was hard to believe that the man had devoted his entire life to trying to end the fighting between the religious factions in the world, journeying far and wide. Isolde Vitronka was more laidback and benign. Considerably, more laid back. Like the Captain, she was a veteran of the field, particularly in the area of the Cold War and its aftereffects in the Eastern European nations.
Seeing as this was the seventh or eighth similar event that he had been to, he was becoming pretty good at making friends, allies, and connections. Which might be very useful in the future. And he would have to agree that the muggle gatherings were a bit more enjoyable than the wizarding ones. There, an atmosphere of quiet tension always pervaded, ruining the entire purpose. Also, the chances of meeting Dumbledore or some other important Order figure (like Moody or Mr. Weasley) were much greater. Though the glasses shielded his identity from people had never met him in person or did not know him very well, it did not protect him from those who did or those who had enough skill to see through the illusions.
And there was only so much of Rita Skeeter, free of her promise to Hermione to keep her quill to herself for a year, that he could take.
"What do you think?" he asked Lisa, who was sitting next to him, all the while watching the happenings around them. The four of them (now, they were collectively seen as a group) had been invited to two events on the same night, so they split up to attend both. Hermione and Jason went to the party in Venice, while he and Lisa handled Paris. "It isn't so bad."
"You're right about that. I should have expected as such, considering how well known you are and still not caught. But there is no downside to being cautious." If there was one thing that he had learned about Lisa in the short time that they had known each other, it was not only that she was shyer than most but also extremely nervous about everything she did. She had explained that it was the result of being in the Ravenclaw house: every little thing was a contest of intelligence and the smallest mistake could make one the so-called embodiment of a dunce. Which explained Luna Lovegood's troubles with her housemates quite adequately.
He had to admit that Lisa was pretty when she tried, which she normally didn't. Her heart-shaped face was framed by her mane of pale blond hair, feathered for the occasion, and not in a tight plait like it usually was day to day. She was pretty tall, her height equal to his own, with a statuesque and pale figure. Her brown eyes were hidden behind a pair of blue and bronze sunglasses, different from his own and the others in its style, but with the same function. It matched her long cobalt blue dress, courtesy of Seine McCallister.
Seine had been all to eager to comply with their requests and needs. She was being paid well for it after all. She had begun selling a few of her creations to mainstream stores and was consequently becoming a famous designer. Unfortunately for the clamoring plethora of vain actors and rich clients, finding her was another story entirely. Something the woman with the two different colored eyes enjoyed immensely.
"The only thing that is vaguely disturbing," the quiet Ravenclaw girl added after a pause, "is the fact that many of these people seem to think that either Helena or myself is your girlfriend." There was a short silence as he digested this, before they both broke out into laughter.
"It's all the same wherever I go," Harry joked, shaking his head at the very thought. To think what those reporters came up with about him – even when he was under disguise and using an alias. Was he just some kind of media magnet? And the twist was that he was now part of that media hoard. Will wonders never cease? "Everyone is determined to set me up in some kind of romantic tryst, hoping that it would end up becoming some outrageous scandal. Honestly, can't I have some platonic female friends? Does everyone think that I am merely some kind of hormonal animal?"
"Apparently, you can't. And I was under the impression that all teenage males, in general, were hormonal animals."
"You wound me!" Another bout of laughter followed before a tap on his shoulder interrupted the moment. Still shaking slightly from the dry hilarity that had occurred, Harry looked up to find the editor of the London Times staring back down at him, his face captured between amusement and nervousness. Harry had never understood why the portly editor, George Mansfield, was always so edgy around him. He later heard that Mansfield was going through a divorce and was fighting for custody of his children. It was putting him under a lot of stress.
There was nothing else but to be polite. The Times was where he got his start and the man had always been gracious and agreeable towards him. "Hello, Mr. Mansfield. Enjoying the party? I'm sure you've met my colleague, Miss Fowler." Lisa lifted her glass slightly in greeting while Mansfield gave her a nod of acknowledgment, before turning to him.
"I know you like to keep your identities secret and all," the editor muttered quietly, "but you have a problem. A woman came by at the office, waving around a badge and meaning business. Punched out a security guard and fairly demanded information." Harry raised an eyebrow. A woman looking for him? Most likely another private investigator trying to track him down, he was getting a lot of them lately. Though they all eventually went to the offices, they all found nothing. He had been careful not to leave his real name around. However, none so far had punched out guards.
Mansfield sniffed in distaste, reminding him a bit of Fudge when he was perturbed, but the two were as different as night and day when it came to personality. "Yes. An American woman, strangely enough. She was quite short with the largest – I digress. I shouldn't speak badly of the lady. Not because I'm a gentleman, but because she was certainly no lady." They laughed a bit there, Lisa joining and listening in her usual quiet way. "Her name was Claudia Matchison, a private investigator. She did not get your name, but I was not present at the office that day due to…family matters. I left my second in charge and he was so frightened of the woman that not only did he nearly go in his knickers, but he gave out the name of your neighborhood." Mansfield clucked in sympathy. "He kept the presence of mind to keep your house number and street to himself, at least. But this one's gotten pretty close."
Crap. Harry did not need someone finding his or her way to Privet Drive. He personally would not wish Vernon Dursley on anyone…okay, maybe Malfoy (Senior), Lestrange, Wormtail, or Voldemort…but other than that, nope.
"Hello, sir. Thank you for inviting me to your home."
"Of course, miss. Anything for an officer of the law. How can I help you?"
"I was wondering if I could speak to your nephew?"
"My nep- I HAVE NO NEPHEW!"
"Yes, you do. I checked. I'm sure that he lives here. Now, I would like to speak with him."
"YOU'RE ONE OF THOSE FREAKS, AREN'T YOU?! GET OUT! YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED IN MY HOME!"
"Did you just call me a freak?!"
"WHAT DO YOU THINK, YOU BIG – (something, for it was here that his imagination failed him) – FREAKISH HUSSY?!"
"I see," he said neutrally, snapping out of his imaginings when he noticed the odd stares he was receiving from Lisa and Mansfield. "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it. Thank you for telling me." Mansfield visibly relaxed before moving on to other acquaintances.
"I'm assuming that you've got a scheme on the mind."
He smirked. "I believe this will be somewhat fun." He raised his glass to toast her own. "Cheers."
(…printed in the Edinburgh Journal, circulated internationally…)
Antagonism, Passion, and Motivation
I'm Not 'Overdramatic', I'm Angry!
I've been told many times by people that I'm not exactly subtle (this usually comes when subtlety could be appreciated) and that I'm a 'drama queen'.
Yeah. Me, a drama queen. Never mind the fact that…I'm a guy, you idiots! Look at me! Look. At. Me! And if the picture isn't enough to prove it, take a glance at the name! Joseph – decidedly male name. Please take note of that.
My so-called "anger problem' has gotten me into trouble quite a bit of the time. Especially among my friends, though some of the stranger ones to find it more amusing than frightening (i.e. Harrison Evans, who got me into this gig to begin with, manipulative git that he is). It's become something I'm known for – and the reason for my exclusion from most of my peers.
Losers. And I'm not even going to go on about my professors!
Why am I angry? Dissatisfied? It's simple really. I just don't like the way things are in the world. Can you blame me? Have you seen, truly examined and looked into, how everything is run? Into the behaviors that we consider normal, to the events that occur daily across the globe? I do not mean just a cursory glance before yielding to the overwhelming bias that weighs on our minds, but see everything without the rose-colored glasses, without the screen of contentment that blinds us from the actual vision?!
There is crime running through the streets, corruption still exists, and in our so-called free world there is still poverty and servitude. We've become decadent and depraved, concerned only with the material wealth that a person possesses and the image with try to uphold. Our language has become so corroded that even despite the amounts of money we pour into educating children, they can't speak or write correctly. Instead of embracing the different, we either close it out from our minds – dismissing it as mere codswallop – or make it into a fad, which can be just as demeaning.
I want change. A revolution! Not one of wars and bloodletting for such trivial things as land or money or potential threat. I want a real revolution that would transform the mind of the individual, for better or worse! A battle of words and wits, of ideals and intellectual progress! Don't use violence, use argument! Use that anger to make a difference, not conflict! There is no greater emotion than anger – it literally calls for action, an inheritance from our primitive ancestors. Instead of dampening it down, let it out and channel it into something. Let it motivate you into doing something useful, not letting it stew while you lie on your couch or into a psychotic rage. If you want anything to change, then get up and do something about it. The quicker you do it, the faster it will most likely come.
As for me, I'm making a revolution of my own. It's a sad fact of life that you'll have to deal with. Unless, of course, you want to come along for the ride and join on the fun. Then you're quite welcome.
His fingers gently ran over the thick spines of the book, green eyes eagerly searching out the titles for the books he wanted. Occasionally, one was pulled out one, put another back. A thoughtful smile played on Harry's face as he perused the shelves devoted to the wizarding law. Of course, one would wonder why he was in this section to begin with, seeing as Advanced NEWT History was just as boring and sleep-inducing as the first.
However, Harry had his reasons. His next article required some level of research on wizarding law. And where else should he turn to? It wasn't as if the Ministry had a site on the Internet that he could check on the modified laptop, currently hidden beneath his trunk's false bottom.
Wizarding law continued to frustrate him the more and more he became frustrated with the state of things. The entire system was full of loopholes and fallacies that any good defense lawyer could use to get even the most despicable and malicious of individuals acquitted. It certainly explained how so many Death Eaters managed to walk free during and after Voldemort's reign. And there had not been any major reforms in the legal code since the repealing of Crouch's act to give Aurors the right to use Unforgivables. And that was fifteen years ago.
If things gone differently, if the numerous mistakes that both the ministry and the Order had not made, then the war that was building up now would probably have never arisen. Harry would have a somewhat normal life, one where he didn't have to look over his shoulder for those that wanted to take his life, one that didn't care if he was the Boy-Who-Lived or just some smart-alec kid embarking on a journalistic career to let off some steam.
Sadly, it hadn't. And this is what he had to deal with.
"Potter." In the middle of slipping out Wizarding Law: The Rights of the Individual, he turned his head at the sound of his name, surprised that anyone would bother to even come into this section of the library. It was notorious that the law section was the most deserted place in the library. The privacy was one of the reasons why he came here – despite the righteous anger he felt towards the law system in general.
Standing in the same shadowy aisle as he was, Draco Malfoy gave him a cold and icy glare. Harry's green eyes narrowed behind his glasses before he returned to looking through the shelves, adding The Rights of the Individual and book of Jacques Rousseau to the collection under his arm. Whatever Malfoy wanted, Harry wasn't going to let him feel like he was actually interested in what he had to say. If there were two weaknesses that Malfoy constantly left undefended, it was his pride and egotism.
"I'm talking to you, Potter," the other fairly ground out.
Harry shrugged easily, "I'm very well aware of that. But you haven't said anything other than my name." He calmly approached the blonde boy (he was slightly perturbed to find that Malfoy was still taller than he was) and inched out of the aisle to the main part of the library, where the tables were. There were not that many people there at this time, but he was not going to remain alone in a dark aisle with a person who had already threatened his life. Because, frankly, it was just smart.
Setting the small pile of books on the table, making sure that Madame Pince and several other students were in sight, he sat down and began flipping thorough the first text. Not too long after, Malfoy reemerged. Hiding his expression behind the pages of the book, he smiled in amusement. Apparently, the younger Malfoy still had not mastered the benefits of keeping his emotions off his sleeve.
Scowling magnificently (though still, not up to Snape-caliber, but there was rarely anything that was up to that to begin with), Malfoy stalked over to him, taking the seat across from him. To his credit, the blonde Slytherin brought one of the books from the law section with him to make it seem like he was actually doing something. Other than trying to get under Harry's nerves. "What are you planning, Potter?" he muttered, a book on criminal lawyers open in front of him, quietly enough so that no one other than Harry heard.
Reading nonchalantly, he answered, "Wouldn't you like to know?" That should irritate the other a lot. Sure enough, Malfoy's sour look deepened, his fingers clenching the sides of the book. This was a bit too easy for his tastes. But he wasn't the who instigated the meeting in the first place.
"I would," was the answer.
"That's nice." Then…silence. Which was not well received.
"STOP PLAYING GAMES, POTTER!" Malfoy burst out angrily, slamming his hands against the grain of the wood and rising to his feet. Immediately, everyone in the library turned to look at them. Harry raised a skeptical eyebrow at the slight coloration on Malfoy's cheeks before he ran out, denying Madame Pince the joy of ordering students out. He blinked in surprise at the hurried exit, wondering what brought that on.
Nothing came to mind, really. And it was strange. There was some old saying that a person always knew best the people they loved and the people they despised. Harry would have to admit that Malfoy's behavior was strange. Usually, the blonde would just mock and threaten him. Not go up, deliberately, to meet him and…ask. It was that last part that really got him. Where on earth did he learn how to ask, not whine or demand?
The voice of Jason Connolly broke his train of thought, noting the perpetual undertone of suspicion and anger. Jason despised Malfoy even more than Hermione and he did – due to some strange pureblood rivalry between the families. The short Hufflepuff boy with the longish mousy brown hair glared at the exit of the library as if Malfoy himself were standing there. In the light of the setting sun illuminating the library, the gold colored lenses from his sunglasses glinted. "What did he want?"
"Okay, Mr. Malfoy. I know that you've done well on the OWLS and all…"
"I know. You've been my tutor for years now. It's what we pay you for to begin with."
"Right. But I must insist you learn this lesson. I had thought that your parents or perhaps contact with your peers at Hogwarts would have taught you this, but apparently this is not the case. And this skill that I'm about to teach you is essential to your future. Are you prepared to learn it, young Master Malfoy?"
"Yes, yes, get on with it. I'll probably master it in seconds, anyway."
"I would like you to ask me for this pen."
"Correct. Ask me for this quill?"
"Alright. Give me the quill."
"I told you that you had to ask me for the quill."
"And that's exactly what I did. Give me the quill."
"No. You're demanding it, not asking."
"There's a difference?"
"Yes. Now ask."
"Why should I? I'm a Malfoy and remember who's paying you, here!"
"Ask me for the quill."
"…Fine. Can I please have the quill?"
"Yes, good boy."
Harry shrugged in response. "He thought I was up to something and asked, then demanded, what I was doing." He grinned at the somewhat astonished expression gracing Jason's face. "Yes, he asked."
"How in the good name of Merlin did a Malfoy learn how ask for something?!" the other boy spluttered. "It's unheard of! Incredible! That spoiled narcissistic git learning to be civil! Unbelievable! Should we commemorate this day?"
He nodded solemnly. "Yes, we should. For I have never known him to ever ask for anything…other than I drop dead in the literal sense just two weeks ago."
"True," Jason conceded, then throwing Harry a sly look. "You know, people could have taken that the wrong way." Harry blinked owlishly in confusion, not getting what his friend was implying. What on earth was Jason getting at? "You know, what I mean," Jason elaborated, gesturing dismissively at exit. "I mean, Malfoy follows you into a section of the library where no one goes into. He follows you out and out of all the places to sit, takes the chair right in front of you. Then he gets up and tells you to stop playing games. After that outburst, he blushes – as much as that pale imbecile could blush, at any rate – and fairly runs out of here."
"Still not getting it, Jason," Harry replied sullenly.
"Do you think Malfoy's interested in you? I mean, not in the usual 'I'm-your-enemy-and-I'm-going-to-kill-you interest, but in…another way."
It was at that point he got it and fairly shouted out, "What?!"
(…printed in The Daily Prophet, circulated internationally…)
The English Ministry: The Lonely Light in the Dark?
Pride Goeth Before a Fall
You don't have to go very far to hear about the news on the war against the Dark Lord Voldemort (I refuse to be censored). It's everywhere and understandably, one of the worries on the forefront of our minds. One cannot deny the rising terror, cold like the briefest touch of a evil specter, that runs through us every time we hear of the disappearances, the raids, the horrors and torture survivors had been forced to endure, the battles between the forces determined to protect us and the armies of one who wants nothing more than to control us.
What has always preyed on my mind was this: how come the rest of the magical community, outside our borders, has not been contributing to the fight? Voldemort is a threat to everyone, no matter who they are or where they are from. And it is no secret that the Death Eaters have been moving faster and faster, despite Auror attempts to keep the conflicts within our own borders. Just two days ago, five muggle villages in the Netherlands and three ports in France have been attacked and their populations massacred. These assaults have been growing more and more in number.
It is clear that this has become more than just a conflict within Britain, but now one of international proportions.
Yet, even so, there has been no move on the part of our ministry to join forces with other governments, who have also been under attack. Of course, the statements provided by the French and Dutch ministries have possessed numerous calls for unity and cooperation to deal with threat. However, the British Ministry has made no moves forward to make ties. If one were to read the response to these attacks, one could definitely find a note of contempt and antipathy, most of the comments for unity seeming rather two-faced and evasive.
It's obvious that our government isn't interested in cooperating at all, but would rather just deal with a gigantic problem as this on our own, no matter what other nations would have to say. Our diplomatic record speaks volumes. The friendliest relations that our ministry has had with other ministries occurred during the times that Bartemius Crouch and Paul Peter Saunders served as heads of the Department of Magical Cooperation. And even under Crouch, relations were somewhat strained – and Saunders served over two hundred years ago.
And back then? To put it mildly, the British and the French weren't the best of friends during that period of time. And the American Revolution at the time didn't help matters much either.
Why do we continue to experience such bad luck with our forays into diplomacy and world collaboration? Judging from past experiences, it seems to come from not only a complex network of alliances and old worn-out grudges, but also because in most cases we tend to elevate ourselves above the statuses of other nations, thinking ourselves better than them. While it is true that Britain is influential and a world leader, this does not mean we should treat other countries as if they were not just as essential to the world community.
We don't own the world. We shouldn't be afraid to ask for assistance if it would benefit the general people as a whole, just because of some supposed image and reputation to be upheld. Which is the exact purpose government was meant to fulfill.
Will the bureaucratic rivalries of a few men turn out to be our greatest disadvantage in a time where we are facing a true crisis? Who can say? One would hope that it wouldn't be.
The teacher's lounge was not silenced as the Headmaster of Hogwarts, regarded as the greatest wizard of the age, Albus Dumbledore walked in. In a sense, this was not a good thing. He really had something important to discuss, which was why he called it in the first place, something that went far beyond the importance of using muggle candy brands as the passwords to go to his office. What caused this distraction of attention was not in anyway new. At times, the arguments between the venerable Minerva McGonagall and enormously critical Severus Snape could get a bit out of hand – especially when concerning the sensitive subject of one Harry Potter. These…"debates"...had been going on a regular basis for so long over the past five years that the incredulity had since long worn off. As for the novelty, that remained the same.
Dumbledore in particular disliked the squabbles. In a way, he did. Surely, he did not want to have his staff fighting amongst each other. But at times it was just funny. In this instance, he was mildly curious as to their quarrel this time, which the rest of the staff were observing with interest.
Apparently, this was over who had the better student within their house: Harry Potter for Gryffindor or Harrison Evans for Slytherin. Of course, it had not been confirmed that Evans was a Slytherin or not, but it certainly seemed like it, and the rest of the staff had accepted that for now. Snape especially, though maybe this also had to do with the fact that the man apparently liked the young writer – whoever he was – and his views along with his character. There was also the additional fact that if the mysterious boy was actually Slytherin, then he may prove to be an example that not all of the Slytherins had to bow down to the prejudice that their house seemed to flaunt in a twisted pride. Indeed, the usually stoic man admitted that if he ever managed to unveil Evans' true identity among his Slytherins, then he'd award the boy with 250 points for what he was doing – in an apparently cunning and ingenious fashion.
What were his views on Harrison Evans himself? Mixed. The young man, whoever he was, was certainly to be applauded for his clever writing and wit, along with the idea of using the media as the perfect soapbox to proclaim his views to a world that though conflicted, embraced his originality and uniqueness. But there were times that he could sense, underneath the droll words and intellectual philosophy, that there was a boy that was crying out for help in his own way.
It made sense to him, he who had dealt with children and the mind for a long as he had. Evans had a fierce streak of independence and a strange confidence, along with style and a charming nature. Why hide it behind an alias? Why hide so adeptly, that he could not be picked easily out of the students? They had been scouring the work of the students desperately, but still no luck. Even Legilimency did not help. Evans also mentioned a bad relationship with his relatives and a horrible reputation – as well as growing up muggle, if his references as well as submissions to muggle newspapers were anything to go by. His caretakers were described as quite strict and limiting of his freedom as well. Also, he demanded a voice to be heard – as if he had been stifled for a long time, his opinion never heard.
The parallel he could make ideally to any student in his lifetime would fit Tom Riddle and Harry Potter, two students so alike in mind and circumstance, both of whom he had on some level failed. However, Tom was too far gone now. And Harry…it was a possibility. If it weren't for the distinctly cunning undertone, he would have immediately pinpointed Harry for this. But in his experience, Harry had never displayed such a quality – at least not openly. And there was also the fact that Harry still appeared to be recovering from his loss. Both Evans and Harry had some apathy towards the world, but in Harry it was far more defined and focused. Also, there was the fact that Evans had been seen at several gala events outside Hogwarts. While this did bring up the question as to how students could sneak out and make a trip to London and back, according to young Ronald Weasley, Harry had never left the dormitory that night.
He would not discount Harry yet. It was too early to do so. If they erred, they would err on the side of caution.
Eventually, the occupants of the room realized that the Headmaster had been there – for a while, sitting in an armchair that he had claimed by the fire. Most seemed embarrassed by this, their faces betraying them, but they settled down and waited to hear what he had to say. Clearing his throat slightly and adjusting his half-moon spectacles, he held a piece of parchment in his hands. "I received this from Xander O'Callighan from the Department of Public Relations in the Ministry. You'll probably guess as to why I have called this meeting after you hear this." With this preamble, he proceeded to read the longish document, his voice grave and serious.
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore:
I understand that your responsibilities as of late have been increasingly burdensome. Not only must you care for the well-being and education of the latest generation of wizards and witches, you must also tackle on the threat and terror of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to defend us from the relentless darkness. Truly, you are a man of great strength of mind and body to take on such tasks of infinitesimal proportions. You have, as you always had, my eternal and deepest respect.
However, I must humbly but most urgently proceed to the subject of this correspondence. I am afraid that I cannot evade this any longer; its importance is so great. I speak of the seemingly third party in this fight against the dark. I am, of course, referring to those four clever manipulators: Helena Crawford, Joseph West, Elissa Fowler, and above all, Harrison Evans.
You are as acutely aware as I am of the impact of these four individuals. It is incredible and almost supernatural at the amount of success they have managed to win in such a small amount of time. Particularly in a field where veteran writers have yet to amass recognition, much less this kind of fame. It is under my personal belief that this is a result of their forthright attitude and clear eloquence that they state their opinions, which are quickly influencing the public so manically. They are different, unique, as well as young and well spoken. They are not afraid of negative feedback at all! Considering their natures, from what I can glean from their words, they probably find it all amusing.
No doubt they are charming, intelligent, and interesting young men and women and I would love to see them continue on and succeed. Merlin knows we need that kind of charisma and intelligence to lead the next generation.
But I must raise concerns. It is true that as of yet, they seem to be decidedly neutral on the issue of which sides they are on. Some of their statements support the dark and others the light, equally, in fashions that evenly praises and mocks both of them. While this seems to be quelling any new recruits to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's forces, the same applies to our side as well. Indeed, there have been several hot protestations towards the ministry's handling of the situation. There have even been calls for the Minister's resignation! The sheer madness of it all, when our respected minister, Cornelius R. Fudge, is the only man at the moment that has the leadership to move our country out of this chaos. With your help and advice, assuredly.
I implore you to please find these four. They have admitted already that they attend your school, though they go by aliases. If you cannot have them completely devote themselves to our cause, at least have them stop writing. We need all the support we can amass at the moment. Evans, Crawford, West, and Fowler can be the figureheads of the anti-Dark movement, drawing in and uniting the population against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named! Their influence and appeal, applied to our side, could turn the tide easily over to us! But their articles are too neutral to provide this sort of base at the moment. We need them. If not on our side, then no one else's. And if you do not comply, we may need to investigate the students themselves to find them. I do not want to intrude upon your territory, but these children must be found and quickly at that!
Please, I humbly ask you to fulfill this request. Both the interests of the war and as old friends.
Most sincerely, your old friend,Xander O'Callighan
Department of Public Relations, The English Ministry of Magic
To be put mildly: they were not happy. And neither was he.
"I suppose you see what we must do," he spoke solemnly into the silence. "We have to find these four students. And we must find them quickly, before the Ministry has a chance to become involved."
There were several gasps of disbelief, to which a small smile did form upon his lips briefly. Of course they would be surprised. Here he was cooperating with the Ministry in an plain attempt to use these four children as tools for propaganda, who at the end of the war would be thrown aside. Not only that, but by putting them out in the front of the media spotlight in such a fashion, they would be risking their lives and most likely become the focus of Voldemort's ire. Undoubtedly, he had no idea how well they could duel or survive against Death Eaters and the wrath of the Dark Lord. But after last year, he did not want to have any unnecessary casualties.
"I do hope you aren't serious, Albus," Minerva said tightly. It was the same tone that she used often when he was making decisions about Harry Potter. The irony, considering the argument that had taken place prior. "You aren't going to hand them over to the ministry?! Though they are certainly quite smart and intelligent, they are still just children. If you do what the ministry wants-"
Dumbledore cut her off with a raised and wizened hand. "I am well aware of the risks that we would be exposing them to if we give them over. That is not my intention. I plan to keep them away from the ministry. While it would definitely be an advantage to have them blatantly support us, the best move we can make is to find them and protect them from Fudge's manipulations."
Severus' gaze grew grim, remaining quiet while the other professors conversed among themselves. The implication was easily understood despite the lack of words: Severus thought that he would attempt to win them over by acting as their protectors and having contact with them. If such a result occurred, Dumbledore wouldn't be upset by it. However, it would not be his aim to do so.
He had already driven Harry away, much like he failed Tom all those years ago. It was clear that he could not keep repeating his actions as he had. For they all seemed to lead to more pain and a sacrifice of innocence and faith.
He would have to redeem himself. Not only to protect these four and help their apparently troubled ringleader, Harrison Evans. But also to regain the trust of the boy who had looked to him for help and found nothing.
Like he had a hundred times since that fateful resolution in his office the previous term, he swore that it would not happen again.
25 pages of Celestial Requiem goodness. Next chapter, Harry meets with Claude Matchison from Case #546. As for the thing with Malfoy, Jason was just teasing Harry. Malfoy was just embarrassed at losing his cool. That's what we can guess at anyway.
Hope you liked the chapter! Next update should be Elemental Prophecies. But first, I have to do the American History report due tomorrow.
Wish me luck!