Posted: Not Yet
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Harry Potter and am not using this story for financial gain.
Fudge paced around his room nervously. It had become an annoying habit of his ever since he had arrived here…wherever here was. He wished that he knew what was going on. Out of all things that irked Cornelius the most, not being in control of a situation was one of the top. Not being in control meant not having enough information and not having enough information meant lots and lots of surprises. Cornelius absolutely detested surprises.
But that Potter boy had done it again and given him more surprises than he knew what to do with. Once he had heard about the attack on the Burrow, Fudge immediately grabbed an escort and traveled to the Weasley's home. He wanted to asses the situation himself and check on the Aurors that Dumbledore had secreted away to move the Boy-Who-Lived from his house in Surrey. Fudge was not a simpleton; he knew that many of his Aurors 'worked' for Dumbledore as well as himself. They were subtle and cautious but not cautious enough. Dumbledore may be a strong and powerful leader of the people but he was no politician skilled in deceit and lies. But Fudge thrived on politics and it would be a cold day in hell before Dumbledore would usurp any of his people without him knowing about it. Dumbledore's plans and actions were rarely at odds with that of the ministry so Fudge let them be. Taking no unnecessary action and leaving the Headmaster of Hogwarts to his own devices.
Arriving at the Burrow had definitely been a shock. The land was scorched with craters gouged out all around them. Hanging in the sky for all to see was the feared symbol that he had seen too much of during the Dark War. Looking around some more he had just gotten a good look at several incapacitated Deatheaters being guarded by his Aurors before two people managed to get the drop on him and his escort.
Fudge shook his head in disgust. His escort was dropped to the ground in a matter of seconds and Cornelius himself was restrained by the pair without a spell being fired. It had been over before he even had time to blink. When the young Harry had came over, Fudge had been livid and made it known. But the display of power that Potter had shown quickly snapped his mouth shut and had him thinking serious thoughts about his own mortality.
But now, after the fact, Cornelius pondered about the Boy-Who-Lived. He had been afraid of the boy's popularity before. Fearing that the young man might try to put him out of office but Fudge had been secure with the knowledge that Harry lacked the power and the knowledge to pull anything like that. After watching that impressive display and how the young man ordered his 'lieutenants' around like a seasoned commander Fudge wasn't so certain anymore. Clearly Harry had the ability to oust the Minister yet he hadn't. Why?
Perhaps, he s0till had some use. He had been extremely popular in his earlier days as Minister and held a great amount of sway and power in the international community. But lately he had been lacking in both. Perhaps, if he tried to hearken back to his earlier days Potter would not dispose of him. Perhaps….
A knock on the door drew him away from his pacing and he turned to see one of the cooks bringing in his dinner. It was a full spread that he would be lucky to eat even as the Minister but he quickly allowed a mask of disgust to wash over his face. "This meal is unsatisfactory," he sneered to cook. "I demand that you speak to Mister Potter and bring him to me so I may discuss the poor arrangements around here. Such dingy quarters and skimpy meals are ill befitting one of my station."
The cook didn't' say anything but nodded and bowed out of the room. Fudge made certain that the man was gone before letting his face resume its normal expression. Perhaps this time, Potter would actually come. Cornelius had many questions and the only one with the answers was Harry.
Jill watched in satisfaction as the last of the Weasley sons had their memories altered to fit the new story. All traces of the captains fighting against the deatheaters had been erased from their memory. Everyone, including the deatheaters and the Aurors had the same story implanted in their head. There was the matter of the three escaped deatheaters but that was easily dealt with. Tomorrow the newspaper would have a detailed article about the attack, including reports from several of the Aurors, the Minister of magic, and possibly even Dumbledore. Soon, they would let one of the Deatheaters escape and he will report the same story to Voldemort. With all the evidence given to him, the Dark lord would probably come to the most reasonable conclusion and the one they wanted him to believe. That the three Deatheaters had lied to make their failure be viewed in a better light and that Harry and Ginny were not truly such skilled fighters.
This realization would probably end up in the three fools undergoing more torture and possibly even death. Jill spat to the side, it was no less than those bastards deserved. Harry and Ginny were two of the most loved people on Phoenix Isle. They always gave anyone who needed it a helping hand and often went well out of their way to help someone. When Jill had come down with the flu Harry and Ginny had come over and Ginny had cooked her some chicken soup while Harry took care of her duties for the day.
She didn't know how they did it, but those bastard Deatheaters had managed to put Ginny in the hospital and Jill knew that most of Phoenix Isle would not stand for it. The council had been arguing over whether or not mages should enter this war and Jill doubted that with Elder Smith pulling the strings that anything would truly change even after today's events. She did know that Harry and Ginny would no longer remain unprotected at any time of the day. Even though she knew how much Captain Potter would protest but Jill was adamant. He would just have to learn to like it.
Harry sighed and leaned back in his chair, pushing away from the large mahogany desk that stood centerpiece to his office. He wondered how long he had been working. It would have been easy to look at the clock on his computer and check but he didn't want to. It would have been far too depressing. He had only gotten a few hours of sleep at best in the last three days and it didn't look like he would be getting many more. Sandwiches and coffee had been sustenance for the time being and he was looking forward to having some soup…for variety's sake.
He stood from the chair and twisted his back, reveling in the slight popping sounds and the relief of pressure as he did so. He looked down at the papers that littered his desk in scorn. This being his first time back to Phoenix Isle since he had left to Hogwarts four years ago, he was up to his neck in reports. Every notable event had to be written up and unfortunately for Harry the last four years had been extremely eventful.
But a small smile came to his face as he headed for the door, he had just finished with his last report on the attack of the Burrow and after three days of nothing but paperwork he was finally free. If he never had to write another report again it would be far too soon. An aide ran up to Harry as he made his way down the hall towards the lunchroom. Now that he was done with the reports he wanted to celebrate a little.
"Sir," the aide called a few steps behind him. "Sir!"
Harry frowned and turned around; he was really looking forward to getting some food. "Yes?"
"Sir," the aide panted, slightly out of breath. "Mr. Fudge wants to speak with you. He doesn't like the available food."
Harry's frown deepened. He had been dealing with problems like this ever since he brought the fool to Phoenix Isle. The food Cornelius was getting right now was a five course meal to most people. Dumbledore at least, had been content enough to wait and treat this time like a vacation once he had learned of the time difference. Indeed, realizing that he wasn't going to be missing for more than three hours, Dumbledore had spent the time reading in Phoenix Isle's main library and talking with Kyle.
The two men had hit it off the moment they met. Both being scholars first and foremost, they quickly overstepped any boundaries that might have existed between them. Kyle had been ecstatic at learning some of the new ways that wizards were using magic during this century and Dumbledore was just as excited to be learning some of the more ancient forms of the magical arts. Harry was certain that between the two of them they probably knew just about every spell from the last four centuries.
Unfortunately for Harry though, Fudge had not been dealing with the change as well as Dumbledore. When they had first arrived it had taken a good hour to calm the Minister down and convince him that Harry was not out for his job or life. Since then, Cornelius had been trying to make life as hard as possible for the residents of Phoenix Isle in the hopes that they would get tired of him and send him back early. Regardless of how hard the man tried though, Harry was not going to let the Minister go until they had a nice long chat about the current and future state of the wizarding world. However, Harry doubted that he would ever get the chance to talk to the minister before the fool's incessant whining caused one of the mages to obliterate him and be done with it.
Their tenure at Phoenix Isle would only last another two days though so catering to Fudge for a little bit couldn't hurt. Besides, it would put the man on a hopefully more gracious standing for when they had their talk. Harry looked at the aide and spoke, "Go ahead and give Fudge what he wants. It will only be another two days and then he's out of our hair for good."
"Very well than, Sir. I will inform the cooks." The aide gave a slight bow before turning on his heel and rushing back the way he came. Harry watched the man's retreating back for a moment before heading towards the lunchroom once again. He could almost taste that soup.
The lunchroom was a small little place that was a floor below Harry's office. There were a few tables interspaced around the room and a buffet line filled with various foods against the back. Though most mages could just go home, eat, and be back before their lunch break was over, the lunchroom was a convenient eatery for those that didn't have a lot of time or didn't want to go home. Harry pushed open the double doors and walked into the room. He started making a beeline for the food when he heard Dazna's familiar voice call out to him. Looking around, Harry saw Dazna sitting with Cynthia and Kyle in one corner of the room, waving at Harry for him to come and join them.
"Come on and sit, Lad," Dazna called.
Harry gave a pained glance toward the food and than looked back at Dazna. Cynthia seemed to sense his plight and let out a light laugh that reminded Harry of Ginny in so many ways. "Let the poor boy get some food first, Dazna," she said. "With all the paperwork he's been doing or the last few days I doubt he has had much to eat."
Giving his grandmother in law a grateful look, Harry practically ran to the back. A quick whispered spell and the plate was in his hands just before he began shoveling food on it. Minutes later, he was sitting next to his adopted father with his plate resembling something more along the lines that Ron would eat rather than someone with a smaller frame like Harry. With out even pausing, Harry began to eat and drink his soup.
Kyle, Dazna, and Cynthia all looked on with wide eyes as Harry laid waste to the food in front of him. It seemed that he wasn't even pausing to breathe in between bits as all the food disappeared in short order. Draining the last bit of soup from his cup, Harry leaned back in his chair patting his stomach lightly, oblivious to the amazed stares that the others were giving him. A small burp and an embarrassed chuckle escaped Harry's lips. "Oops, excuse me."
"By the Goddess, Lad," Dazna spoke. "When did you eat last?"
Harry had the decency to blush slightly and duck his head. "I was just hungry that's all…" Harry replied in a small voice."
"As we saw," Cynthia said amusedly, her eyes sparkling with laughter.
Harry blushed some more before seeking to divert the attention from himself. "So," he began. "What has been going on with the council these last few days?"
Dazna, Kyle and Cynthia all let out simultaneous sighs. Whatever was going on with the council, Harry was certain that it wasn't going well. "It isn't as bad as you think," Kyle spoke, seemingly reading Harry's mind. "It's just that Elder Davis is becoming a problem…especially since you brought Dumbledore and Fudge to the Island. He never really did like you for some reason and the fact that you brought two non mages to the Isle without the council's consent really rubbed him the wrong way."
Harry nodded in understanding. He knew that Davis took offense to just about everything Harry did in one form or another. The man saw Harry as a threat to his position somehow, as if Harry would want to give up being a war mage and attempt for a spot in the council's civic division. It was preposterous even without knowing that Harry was the Lord Phoenix and could overrule the council should he so choose. If anything he would try to get Dazna or Cynthia's job on the council, the military division.
The system was fairly smart; the council of nine was divided into four divisions: Scholar, Civic, Military, and Medical. It had been designed this way many, many years ago, shortly after the time spell was activated. By keeping the council divided thus it prevented the council from straying too far out of balance and creating the same issues that lead to the destruction of Phoenix tower all those years ago. No one division could gain control of the council and thus rash decisions were avoided and with three Civic positions on the council, the people of Phoenix Isle usually came first.
This was not to say that the system was perfect. Every once in a while a person would hold a position on the council and manage to sway the others to his way of thinking. Through process of speeches and bribes, such a corrupt man could worm his way into control of the council and vote issues yay or nay in any way they saw fit. It was fortunate that people like that had never lasted long.
In Harry's opinion, Elder John Davis was fast becoming such a man. While Kyle held the seat of Head of the Council, most of the decisions that came from the council were Davis'. Cynthia and Dazna would sometimes be able to change a vote or two but more often than not, they were voted down. The man was a little too much like Fudge for Harry's liking. Firmly entrenched in office and doing more to keep himself there than to help the people of Phoenix Isle. While Harry had hopes that Cornelius could change he doubted that Elder Davis would change at all.
"He's been blocking some of the security measures we've been trying to enforce since Voldemort has risen again. He doesn't seem to believe that the monster really has come back." Kyle continued.
"What!" Harry shouted jumping up from his chair. "Does he seriously believe that? What…does he think Cedric just happened to die and I've been lying this whole time? That the recent attacks were just rouge Deatheaters?" Harry was furious, Kyle may have not said it but it was certainly implied that Davis thought Harry was lying just to explain off Cedric's death or gain some more attention. Both options would be composed of Harry having to kill Cedric in the first place.
"Calm down, Lad," Dazna tried to soothe Harry. "Everyone knows he was just being outlandish when he said it. The council doesn't take him that seriously."
Harry sank back into his chair and rubbed his forehead. "They obviously take him seriously enough to vote against extra security." Harry sat up a little straighter. "Why don't we just go ahead and reveal my position as Lord Phoenix and be done with it?" he asked angrily. "We wouldn't have to worry about getting these votes through or Davis trying to block us in the future."
"The timing isn't right yet Harry," Cynthia said, her voice calm and pleasant. "The council isn't yet ready to hear that you are the Lord Phoenix. If it came down to the wire, your only support would be us and possible Jasmine. Things would just get ugly from there and you would be so bogged down in trying to convince everybody that you're right, you would be unable to do exactly what you want and need to do to protect the Isle."
" So much for the undisputable signs of the Lord Phoenix…" Harry gave a huff and sagged down in his chair once more. She was right and he knew it, as much as he hated to admit it, there was just too much politics when dealing with the Lord Phoenix. It was a lot of power to give just one man and people were wary of giving anyone that much control over their governments and worlds. And while Harry didn't like it, he knew that the best way was to keep going on as they were. Cynthia, Dazna, and Kyle trying to erode Davis' support in the council and Harry trying to prevent as much as he could from Hogwarts until he was needed elsewhere.
"So we continue on as is then?' Harry sighed.
Dazna nodded, "We continue on as is. You, Ginny, and Katie will continue on to your next year of Hogwarts and we will do what we can from here. Hopefully you will be able to start an active role soon but we just don't know." Dazna shrugged a little and looked slightly apologetic.
Harry simply gave a wane little smile as if to say, it's alright. Thoughts were roaring around his head in mass confusion. Each idea needed paying attention to but Harry just couldn't find the effort to focus on them or ask the others about them. But amid the plethoric amount of thoughts, Harry heard one growing from deep within him and becoming stronger by the second. He focused on the feeling and suddenly shot straight up out of his chair.
Alarmed, Dazna and Cynthia shot up too, in a protective position around Harry. "What is it, lad?" Dazna asked urgently his eyes scanning the room to see if some one was in a position to hurt Harry. He didn't see anything though and that just worried him some more. "What happened, Harry?" he tried again.
Harry, eyes wide just stared foreword and spoke in a soft tone, "Ginny's awake." With that said, the as of yet to be named Lord Phoenix turned on his heel and rushed out of the lunchroom, the three Elders right behind him.
Harry rushed to the hospital as fast as he could. It sat near the middle of the island, near the council hall and some of the more important buildings and armories. When the new city had been designed after the old one had been destroyed, it had been built with the thought of defense against attack. The most crucial buildings and facilities resided in the middle of the city with stout, sturdy walls built around it. All along the wall were defensible parapets and every so often, a small tower stood to give the defenders an elevated place of attack. A well laid attack or superior army would still be able to breach the walls but it would be certain that the mages would deal a large amount of damage against their adversary.
Of course, this also meant that Harry had quite a trip to make it to the hospital. From his office to the hospital was a trip of a fifteen minute walk or a six minute run. Harry made it in three. Almost knocking several people over in the process, he barged into the front waiting lobby of the hospital, looking around almost frantically for a nurse. He didn't have to look very long as the medic that had originally checked on Ginny at the Burrow was making his way out of a set of double doors to Harry's left. The man was reading a medical chart but looked up when Harry called his name.
"Ah," the man replied, closing the folder in his hand and giving Harry a small grin. "I see that you have noticed that Ginny is awake. I've always heard about such things being able to happen between soulmates but I have never witnessed such a thing. I wonder if –"
But Harry was in no mood to be listening to the man's babbling and quickly interrupted. "Can I see my wife now?" he asked impatiently, tapping his foot as if the hint in his tone of voice wasn't enough.
"Yes, yes, of course," the doctor replied, but before Harry could brush by him and go to his wife's room, the man spoke up once more. "There is, however, something that you should know before going back there."
Now Harry was worried. "Why…what's wrong is she okay?" His heart beat heavily in his chest and Harry could feel the bile rising up on his throat. He would never forgive himself if Ginny wouldn't make it. When he had first tried to see her, the doctors were adamant that nothing contaminate the care unit and that he was not allowed to see her. Harry had been angry but understood that with an unknown spell being a causing factor, the doctors could not risk any more possible unknowns. For all they knew, it could be some latent spell that only went off when the victim drank a glass of water or held somebody's hand.
So Harry had resigned himself to waiting and kept himself busy with the paperwork until he would be able to see Ginny. And now, here he was, standing in the waiting room with baited breath. He desperately wanted to see his loving wife but it seemed like something else was wrong. By the Goddess he hoped not!
"We have identified the spell that your wife was hit with. It is an old spell that has not been used for many, many years. Well beyond the time of the Great War. The spell is known as the Infecuditas Spell, used as a…kinder form of population control. By kinder I mean preferable over outright killing people, instead, just preventing more people being added to the mix." The doctor gave Harry a sad look, "I am sorry to tell you this, Captain. It really is lucky that we found out what the spell was. It's only passed through the old wizarding families, who have continuous and ancient bloodlines. We found it when…"
The doctor continued on but Harry wasn't paying attention. Population control? He wondered. What did he mean by that? Harry tried to remember what the word meant but it wasn't a common word in the Latin language and he hadn't practiced the ancient language for a while now. Infecuditas…Infecuditas…population control…instead of outright killing…? Harry's eyes grew wide, his hands started to shake and he took several deep breaths. He tried to get the doctor's attention but all he could manage was a small sort of croak.
It had the desired effect though and the doctor stopped talking and gave Harry his full attention, "Yes, Sir?"
Harry tried again to speak and was more successful this time, "D-Do you m-mean to tel –" Harry swallowed trying to ease his troubled throat and began again. "Do you mean to tell me," Harry said his voice much stronger than before. "That Ginny…t-that my wife was hit with a sterility spell? That she will not be able to bare children anymore?" Harry's eyes almost pleaded with the doctor, begging the man to tell him that it wasn't so. Tell him that the spell had had no adverse effects on Ginny and that she would soon be released and nothing would be different.
The look he got back from the doctor was not one that he wanted to see. The man had a look of reluctance in his eyes. A look of sorrow at having to tell Harry that it was exactly as he feared and that he and his soulmate would never be able to produce an offspring. A child that they would love and call there own, that they would provide for and shelter. A child that would be their own flesh and blood…a child that they both longed to have one day.
"I am sorry, Sir," the man placed a hand one Harry's shoulder. "But it is true. Ginny is now barren and will not be able to have a child." The doctor looked down at the shorter Harry and said with much regret, "There is nothing that we are able to do. The spell is complete and final…there is no counter curse."
Harry was devastated. He had hoped to have a family one day, after his fight with Voldemort was over. He had hoped that he would be able to live with Ginny and his son or daughter in their house on Phoenix Isle and let Dazna have the joy of a grandchild. He wanted to teach his kid how to fly and all the secret passageways in Hogwarts, so they could sneak around and do childish things like pulling pranks. But now he was being denied that opportunity, being denied that joy that only a child can bring. So numb were his thoughts and actions he almost failed to notice Dazna, Cynthia, and Kyle rushing into the hospital lobby, slightly out of breath.
Numbness still controlling his actions, Harry turned to the others and said, "I'm going to go see Ginny now." He looked at the doctor. "Does Ginny know yet?"
The doctor shook his head, "She has just woken up and we thought it would be better coming from you…"
"Thank you," Harry nodded. "C – could you please tell them?" he asked, gesturing towards the three Elders that stood behind him. "I will go talk to G-Ginny."
"Of course, Sir," the doctor replied, sympathy in his eyes. "I really am sorry, Commander."
Harry nodded again, before turning to the doors that lead towards the patient's rooms. Shuffling slowly he made his way towards Ginny's room, his mind awhirl with thoughts about how he was going to break the news to his beloved wife.
Harry sighed, and held back a groan. He was strong and fast. He could do magic with a mere thought and was more powerful than almost any mage on this island. More powerful than most wizards and sorcerers as well. He was loyal and brave, honorable and cunning. And, thankfully for Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, he was a very patient man. Not that the minister wasn't testing Harry's limits. He had thought that dealing with Lockhart had been hard and dealing with Elder Davis had been harder. Neither of them held a candle to Cornelius Fudge.
"For the last time, Minister," Harry spoke. "If you sit down and listen…you will understand everything I need you to know." Harry doubted that the man really would listen to reason but he had to try anyway. He was exceedingly surprised when Fudge did just that. There was a chuckle to his left and Harry checked his gob smacked expression and turned to scowl at his Professor. "I assume you find this amusing, Headmaster?"
Dumbledore's eyes sparkled with mirth as he replied with a straight face that any profession poker player would kill for. "Why of course not, young Harry." Dumbledore folded his hands in his lap and looked over his spectacles and into Harry's bright green eyes. "I do, however, find myself in agreement with Cornelius in that I am wondering what has been going on here. We have been patiently," Fudge snorted disdainfully but Albus ignored it and continued on. "…patiently waiting for four days now and are hoping that you can explain all this."
"That's exactly right, Potter," the minister interjected. "I demand to know why you have kidnapped me and have held me hostage here for the last half week."
"Well when you put it that way, Minister, I guess that I have no choice but to answer your questions." Harry brought a hand up to his chin and gave it a few scratches. "There is quite a bit to tell you two and I don't quite know where to begin." He mumbled.
Dumbledore spoke up, "I find that the –"
"'–beginning is always a good place to start,' yes I know." Harry said waving his hand. "Very well then, the beginning it is…"
Dumbledore studied Harry intently while the young boy began his story. He had been concerned at first when he had been first taken to this island and unable to return to the Burrow immediately after. And truthfully, he admitted to himself if no one else, he was quite frightened at finding himself disarmed and captured so easily by the people that were pretending to be in league with the fake Harry.
The changes, Dumbledore had seen in the young boy were much too great to have all occurred over the month long stay at Private Drive. Despite all the fame and publicity surrounding the young boy or perhaps because of it, Harry always tried to stay out of the spotlight. Allowing others to control and direct the situation while becoming as small of a target as possible so as to not attract unwanted attention. It showed in everything the boy did, from his soft voice to his hunched shoulders. Yet when Dumbledore had arrived at the Burrow, 'Harry' was firmly in control. Directing other people around with firm, commanding orders in a strong voice and a stature to match. Harry didn't look like Harry anymore. More like a Commander or some other military figure directing his troops.
It hadn't been until Harry let Dumbledore scan a bit of his magic to prove that he was the real deal. Magical signatures were a lot like fingerprints. Each one having its own, unique texture, taste, and smell. They couldn't be changed or duplicated in any way. And as much as it confused Dumbledore, it was the real Harry Potter. After a brief explanation of the time spell that surrounded the Island and…'insisting' that the two wizarding leaders remain as his guests, Harry had turned and left for business unknown. Since then, Dumbledore had been able to gain more information from the various people he had come in contact with over the last few days. It was a strange picture that he was beginning to piece together indeed.
"The best thing to start with, I guess…" Dumbledore was brought out of his musings by Harry's soft voice. There had been several physical changes to Harry as well since Dumbledore had last seen him. He was still shorter than most people and it didn't look like he would get any taller, but he was extremely proportionate for his five foot six inch frame. His limbs were not incredibly lanky like young Mr. Weasley, nor pudgy like Mr. Longbottom. If anything he was fairly well built with clearly defined, whipcord like muscles covering his body. Much like and athlete or a martial artist. No extra fat and a body built for a combination of speed and strength instead of one over the other. "…well, I am a mage."
So that explains it! Dumbledore let a smile out on his face, at both the revelation and the look of bewilderment that appeared on Cornelius' face. This explained many things about what was going on and answered many of his questions. It was a look of both relief and regret that managed to settle on his face in the end though. He had always hoped that Harry could have had a normal childhood and eventually…a normal life, but he knew that the life of a mage was anything but. Yet he was relived that Harry was able to protect himself and others around him from many dangers. It was probably the reason that he was able to survive his first four years with relatively little injury. The troll alone should have taken out the three friends quite easily.
"If you don't mind my asking Mr. Potter," Dumbledore spoke. "How old are you?"
Harry gave his headmaster a smile, "I see that you catch on quick. I have just recently turned twenty-two years old." Beside him, Fudge sputtered, apparently unable to form words for his disbelief.
"I see, and Mrs. Potter?" Dumbledore risked a small gamble.
Harry gave his hand a quick glance as if checking to see if something was there before his smile widened even more. "You don't miss a thing do you? I had thought that we were keeping it fairly quiet. But I can see we managed to slip up somewhere…what happened to tip you off?"
Dumbledore chuckled, "Actually it wasn't until you told me you were a mage that I put everything together. You and Ginny hid it very well. In the last four years I have only thought you to might have a minor interest in each other. Ms. We…Mrs. Potter's crush on you and your apparent lack of reciprocation towards those feelings threw me off entirely. Whose idea was that by the way?"
"It was Ginny's," Harry said proudly. "She didn't think that she would be able to be around me and not show any feelings and came up with the crush idea. She really is very smart."
Dumbledore could see the pride and love shining through Harry's eyes and only then just began to realize how much Harry and Ginny were keeping hidden. Not just from him but from family and friends, teachers and acquaintances. Everyone they knew had an impression about who Harry and Ginny were, but they were all wrong. Albus knew from experience how hard it was keeping so much knowledge a secret without at least some of it leaking through and was impressed at the tight lid these two had managed to keep on their information.
He was getting worried though, about the thoughtful pose that Cornelius had adopted beside him. It was a pose he had not seen on the Minister for many years, not since he was first elected into office. Albus wondered if the man was going to do something that he would later regret for it would not do to have Harry and the mages as an enemy. But there was a flash of something in the man's eyes that gave the headmaster pause…and hope.
"Is Ginny doing any better?" Dumbledore knew that Ginny had gotten hurt during the altercation at the Burrow and hoped that everything was alright. In all reality, she was Harry's only living family. It seemed that all was not well however, as the little emotion Harry had been showing was quickly cut of and an emotionless mask was slid into place. Dumbledore marveled at such complete control over one's emotions. It was a difficult thing to do.
"Pettigrew hit her with the Infecuditas Spell." Harry's voice was hard and cold.
Fudge seemed to have finally regained his former composure while Harry and Dumbledore had chatted and was done with being out of the conversation. "What the hell is the Infecuditas Spell? I've never heard of it!" Cornelius burst out, hands flying wide. "And who the hell is this…Mrs. Potter?"
Harry looked ready to hurt the Minister so Albus quickly interjected. "Mrs. Potter," he said softly. "Is Molly and Arthur Weasley's only daughter. And I am not quite surprised that you haven't heard of the Infecuditas Spell as it is an ancient spell only passed down through the older pureblood families." Dumbledore continued on over Cornelius protests of his family being a pureblooded family. "I mean the oldest pureblood families. It was used as a form of population control among their slaves by making the females barren. That way they could control the birth rate and not end up having more mouths than they could feed. Its use ended up dying out several thousand years ago though."
Cornelius' mouth snapped shut and a look of horror passed over his face before being covered by one of determination. To Dumbledore, it looked like the man had just come to some sort of decision but about what, the ancient man couldn't gather. Dumbledore turned to Harry, "I am sorry to hear this Harry, as far as I know, there is no counter spell. Is Ginny taking the news alright?"
Harry sighed, "As well as could be expected. It hit both of us hard, we wanted to have a child after Hogwarts but now that seems impossible."
"I would still like to offer my condolences, and the use of the entire Hogwarts Library for any search that will allow you to counteract this curse. No married couple should be denied the opportunity to have kids." Dumbledore's eyes were soft and caring as he said this. Harry nodded his thanks and the aged wizard was about to continue on with the conversation when, to his left, came the last thing that he had expected to hear.
"I offer the resources of the ministry archives as well."
Dumbledore and Harry turned to look at Cornelius with wide open eyes. "What?" the Minister said defensively. "I'm not heartless and I can see that this has hurt you greatly, Mr. Potter. If there is something I can do…please…name it."
Harry stared at the minister some more before asking slowly, as if to a mentally unbalanced man, "What brought around this…change?"
Fudge straightened in his chair a bit, fumbling with his bowler hat, he seemed to be a bit nervous and Dumbledore didn't blame him. Harry had one of the most piercing gazes he had ever seen, it was all he could do not to fidget under the boy's stare. Of course there was also the fact that Fudge had not really been…polite towards Harry during their last few encounters and was about to explain his attitude. Dumbledore figured that would make just about any man nervous as well.
"I-I guess…it was your telling me off at the Burrow, really," Fudge stumbled over his words, hesitant to say the wrong thing. "It kind of…shocked me and I guess…I guess I began to think of you as less of a kid then…and I began to look at what could your motives possibly be." Cornelius drew in a deep breath and continued on. "I have always been fond of my position as Minister, but I once liked it because I could help people and lately I have liked it because people would help me. I began to fear that everybody wanted my position…that I could trust no one. You and Dumbledore had me afraid the most." He said, nodding towards the aged wizard and the younger mage.
"You both had the people looking up to you no matter what you did and I was afraid of that. Afraid that you would oust me from my position so easily because of whom you were." Fudge's face sat, and Albus could only wonder at the change in this man.
No, he thought. Not change but…reemergence. The more Cornelius spoke the more Dumbledore was convinced that Fudge was returning to the man he had once been. A shining star in the bleak aftermath of the Dark War and a man who put the people first, going so far as to create a restoration fund with his own money to help rebuild the state of the wizarding world. Fudge was quite brilliant at politics and a very good speech giver. He knew exactly what to say and when to say it. It looked like that man was coming once again. Dumbledore could even place the look of determination that was creeping up on Cornelius' face. The man had worn it as he was campaigning other countries for help with the restoration.
"But apparently you are a mage and have nothing to do with wizarding government and Albus has always been Headmaster first and last. I don't know why I have let this irrational fear rule my actions and I know that I have done wrong by you but it is time that I start making up for that. Over this summer I have had too many reports of attacks for them to have been done by rouge deatheaters alone and I have become convinced that you are right and that You-Know-Who has returned." Fudge paused and seemed to consider what to say next but Harry beat him to it.
"They say…" Harry drawled. "That you were a great politician and a great minister. Eloquent with words and fast in helping the people." Harry stopped and looked the minister in the eye. "Somewhere along the line that man was beat and locked in a cupboard somewhere. Somewhere along the line…that man disappeared." Fudge drew in a deep breath as if drawing in the courage to face whatever Harry had to say, whether good or ill.
Harry simply continued to stare the Minister in the eyes. "I am pleased to see that man is coming back." Fudge let out his breath in an explosive puff and Dumbledore did the same, surprised at the action for he had never realized he had been holding his breath in the first place. "I think that you will be able to restore the Ministry to the uncorrupt power it once stood for and I think that you will do it splendidly. There are however a few things that you must do and soon."
Cornelius leaned in eagerly and Albus found himself doing the same. "What needs to be done, Harry" Dumbledore asked, his eyes bright.
"Ginny and I have concerns of there readiness of the wizarding world for another confrontation. During the World Cup last summer, those deatheaters were allowed to continue on for far too long even after Ginny and I dealt with a quarter of them." Dumbledore raised an eye at that; he had always wondered who had taken out those deatheaters that they found bound and gagged after the turmoil. "I know that it is far too late to redo the training policies for the Aurors," Harry continued on, "but a few policy changes could do some good."
"A rotating watch, more stringent security at events, etcetera…" Fudge interrupted. "I understand, what else?"
Harry nodded in approval, "It is rather difficult in the wizarding world, I know…" Harry ventured. "Here, the entire Island is warded but is it possible provide at least basic warding for most families?"
Fudge seemed to think for a moment, "It is rather difficult to put up wards. It is usually done by special security companies but I do have a few warding teams in Ministry employ and several other workers that have the power and knowledge to do so. I think we could do it." He nodded in affirmative.
"I think," Dumbledore spoke up. "That we will want to place special emphasis on the muggleborn and halfblooded families as well. Voldemort has long since declared his hatred towards them."
Cornelius winced, "I don't think I have enough workers to cover everybody. I'll have to outsource the job to some security companies."
"Which brings us to the next point," Harry picked up. "You need to get rid of the corrupt money flowing into the ministry income. Do not allow yourself to become dependent on Lucius' funds. You will find them disappearing right when you need them most. Abrupt changes are almost impossible in the Wizarding world. You need to slowly gear the government towards a wartime setting. Voldemort has been waiting for many years to take control of the wizarding world and now that he is back in his body he won't want to wait much longer."
"I agree with Harry," Albus spoke again. "Voldemort will not wait much longer before making his first move."
Cornelius nodded, thinking deeply about the steps he would have to take to prepare for war. The Minister abruptly stood up and looked towards Dumbledore. "If you two gentleman would excuse me I would like to get back to my rooms and start writing up some rough drafts for these new changes."
"Of course, Cornelius," Dumbledore said with a smile. "I hope that you can pull this off. Best of luck to you."
"We will be leaving in six hours back to the wizarding world," Harry spoke up. "A war mage will come get you and escort you to the Burrow with me. Please be ready to go." Fudge gave Harry a nod before turning and leaving the room, a bright hop in his step.
Dumbledore watched the man leave before turning just in time to see Harry slump further into his seat. He was really amazed by what the boy had just done and he hoped that Harry understood that. "It was a good thing you just did there Harry," he said softly. "You gave a man a second chance to prove himself. There are not very many who are willing to do that or take that risk."
Harry waved his hand dismissively, "I wasn't that much. He is the only man for the job really."
"There are others."
"Who…Mr. Weasley?" Harry scoffed. "He is a good man but he is too entranced by his toys and knows nothing of politics. Madame Bones? She is too much the stickler for following the law and rules. In politics you sometimes have to the bend or break the rules to get things done. No…Cornelius is the only man that will be able to get things done the way they need to be. I was just worried that he wouldn't let go of his paranoia that everyone wants his job."
Dumbledore didn't even ask how Harry knew about the other candidates for Minister but did ask about another aspect though. He was curious. "And what would you have done had Cornelius not regained some semblance of whom he once was?"
Harry's face turned hard, "I would have ousted him from office and replaced him in a second."
Albus could not contain himself, "With whom?"
Harry's face seemed to harden even more, "Myself."
The seriousness in his voice surprised Dumbledore and he knew that he had to ask his next question. "Do you think that the wizarding world would follow the leadership of a boy? Even if said boy was the Boy-Who-Lived?"
A frown made its way across Harry's face and the youth said with such certainty that Albus believed him. "They wouldn't have a choice."
Ron grunted sourly as he hauled his trunk bodily onto the Hogwarts Express. Despite the growing he did every year he found that loading the bloody thing onto the compartment racks had yet to get any easier. He thought that at least some of the growth he made was in muscle but from the amount of struggling it took him to move the trunk he doubted it. Of course there was the fact that there was more and more stuff to add to his trunk each year but Ron choose to ignore that and just blamed the trunk itself.
Just ahead of him, already loading his trunk onto the rack in the compartment they normally stayed in, was Harry. His best mate hadn't seemed to grow like Ron himself did. Over the last four years, Ron's best friend seemed to grow very little and Ron now stood over Harry by a good ten centimeters easy. Ron didn't think Harry would get much taller and he knew that, by the time he himself was done growing, the pair would look rather odd as friends. Something akin to a giant and a midget standing next to each other.
Ron snickered at the mental picture, garnering the attention of his friend. "What's so amusing?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.
Ron snickered some more and shook his head. "Nothing…come on, lets go get the girls' trunks." The two friends made their way back to the train platform and over to where the girls were waiting. The youngest Weasley boy took a moment to examine his other best friend. Hermione, like he, had grown several inches in height over the summer. Her bushy brown hair seemed to be calming down as she got older for Ron noticed that it got less and less frizzy each year. She had cut it shorter than before and it fell down to just below her shoulders instead of the small of her back like it had during the years before.
Her skin was tanned, most likely from the traveling she had done with her parents during the summer. He had received several of her letters talking about the good times she was having in Greece or Italy or some other Mediterranean country. Unknown to anyone, Ron had kept these letters, bound in some twine, at the bottom of his trunk and pulled them out and read them every so often. He didn't know why, but after reading Hermione's letters he always felt better for some reason.
Harry walked up to Hermione's trunk and turned to Ron. Ron was surprised to see that Hermione now stood several inches taller than Harry as well. "I'll get Hermione's trunk, Ron. You take care of Ginny's."
Ron was about to protest that it would take at least two of them to carry Hermione's book laden trunk but his dissent died before it had even been voiced. He knew from experience that it took every ounce of muscle he had to even lift her trunk even an inch off the ground. Its weight gave even a grown man trouble judging by the way Mr. Granger struggled to get it out of the boot every year. But Harry lifted the monstrosity like he didn't even feel the weight. Ron gaped, there was no way that five foot six, skinny Harry Potter would be able to lift a trunk that weighed at least 75 kilos but here he was watching his best friend do just that.
"Wha– But– How…?" Ron couldn't understand it and as he tried to puzzle through it his thoughts were interrupted by Ginny.
"Come on, Ron…the train isn't going to wait all day. Grab my trunk." Ginny spoke up irritably.
Ron couldn't answer though, still struck dumb by watching Harry easily maneuver Hermione's heavy trunk up the stairs onto the train. To his side, Hermione was gaping as well.
Ginny was not amused however. "Fine then!" Ginny snapped. "I'll do it myself!"
Once again Ron was about to tell her that she wouldn't be able to lift it on her own when history seemed to repeat itself. While not as heavy as Hermione's, Ginny's trunk was still heavier than normal, having been stuffed with all the various shoes and accessories that women needed. His baby sister picked it up just as casually and easily as Harry had done only moments before and began to make her way to their compartment.
Ron looked at the spot that had held Hermione's trunk. Then he looked where Ginny's trunk had been. Then he looked at the train. Trunks…… train…… trunks…… train……. He couldn't understand how his sister and best friend managed but it certainly made him suspicious. Had it not been for the whistle signaling the train leaving Ron would have sat there for hours trying to puzzle his way through what had happened. As it was, he grabbed Hermione and the two hurriedly jumped on the train and walked towards the back where their compartment was.
"Finally," Ginny exclaimed as Ron slid open the door and entered the compartment. "We thought you two were going to miss the train." That said she promptly turned back to the book she had been reading. Ron said nothing and took a seat across from Harry, Hermione sitting done next to him.
Maybe it had been the incident on the platform that had him so wary or at least something like it, but Ron suddenly found himself studying his best friend and his baby sister with more intensity and attention than he ever had. Ginny sat across from Hermione and next to Harry and, now that Ron was paying attention, he noticed that the two were sitting much closer than was normal. Their legs were almost touching and every now and then the train would jostle and their bodies brushed against one another. Sometimes lingering for far longer than natural movement would allow for.
For once, Ron squelched his overprotective urges and continued to study the pair. Harry too, had his head in a book. A book Ron knew for a fact that did not involve Quidditch at all. He had seen Harry pulling it out of his trunk the night before, and looking at the cover now he could swear that the title was written in some sort of Chinese or Japanese…one of those eastern languages. Of course that didn't say much, Dean often 'read' those Japanese comics and they weren't in English….but the book Harry was reading didn't look like any of that flimsy, 'manga,' that Dean read.
Ron continued to study his friend and once again noticed Harry's eyes. No matter what the expression, Harry's eyes always held something behind them, a feeling, a look that Ron had tried many times to describe. They looked like Harry was too knowledgeable…too aware…too…too…old. He had the eyes of an adult that has seen much in the world, many of it bad. They were not the eyes that someone would expect to see on a thirty year old let alone a young teenager like Harry.
It was in Ginny's eyes too, he noticed now. The same age and wisdom that Harry had in his emerald green eyes could be seen in Ginny's brown ones. In fact, glancing back and forth between the two, Ron could notice a lot of similarity between the two. The large books they were reading, the expressions on their faces….even the position that they were sitting in with their feet on the seat knees bent and book resting on their legs was the same. To any casual observer the two would appear to be a nice young couple.
A…couple. Ron rolled that thought around his head for a moment. As much as he hated to admit it, it wasn't that hard to imagine his sister and Harry becoming involved with one another like that. After all Ginny had liked Harry from day one and Harry had gone down into the chamber of secrets to save her. They had always been friends too, not as close as the trio was but friends all the same. It had become even more apparent over the course of the summer.
The attack on the Burrow didn't seem to faze Harry much despite his portkeying in at the crux of the battle and ending up in Saint Mungos courtesy of a stray curse. When he had awoken and Ron had told him about the fight he had barely even batted an eye. Even though it was a little strange, Ron had chalked it up to the desensitizing Harry had already gone through due to the various conflicts he had personally participated in. When one faces down a giant Basilisk armed with nothing but a sword and wins it seems like a battle between humans would be dreary and lackluster.
Later though, when Harry had returned to the Burrow, the oddest thing happened. One of Ron's cousins was going to have a baby and his mother had gone shopping for some baby clothes to send as a gift. She was folding a few outfits and putting them into boxes when Harry and Ginny had walked in. His Mum had smiled at Ginny and asked if she would help her wrap the boxes because they all knew that the Weasley men were incompetent when it came to anything domestic. The youngest Weasley had walked over to the table and picked a small baby blue jumper, holding it up so that she could see the small sailboats printed on the fabric when she had suddenly burst out crying.
Ron was stunned, he had seen his sister cry before and always tried to help her but the sobs that wracked Ginny were worse than he had ever seen or heard. Her legs gave out and she would have fell to the ground had Harry not rushed in and caught her. So quick was the motion that even later Ron was not able to his friends movement across the room. The black-haired youth wrapped up the girl in a tight embrace and started rocking her back and forth, much like a mother or father would do for their child... or perhaps a husband for a wife. Ron just watched, unable to comprehend how this situation had come to be and the reasons for Ginny's obvious pain. He had turned to his mother to see if she knew anything but the look on her face was just as stunned as his own was. And Ginny continued to cry into Harry's shoulder, soaking his shirt with her tears.
It happened several more times over the next two weeks. Ginny breaking down at the strangest times and Harry just holding her and comforting her. Ron would sometimes hear words coming out in between her choked sobs. Words like…'baby' or 'why us?' He didn't understand what was going on but Harry seemed to be the only one that could console her and their relationship became closer. Ron could do nothing but watch in frustration, feeling hopeless that there was nothing that he could do to help his younger sibling.
Ron jolted at the feel of someone nudging his shoulder and looked up to see Hermione looking at him. He smiled and shook his head ruefully, "Sorry, Hermione," he said. "I was kinda lost in thought there for a moment, did you say something?"
Hermione gave an exasperated sigh, "I said we have to go to the prefect's car for a meeting. If we don't hurry we'll be late!"
Ron gave a silent chuckle at Hermione's unwillingness to be late to anything and stood up stretching. "Alright then." He looked to Harry and Ginny, "Well be back in a bit. Don' know how long these things last but if the trolley comes by, get me some frogs will ya?"
"No problem, Ron," Harry said without looking up from his book.
"Thanks, mate," Ron turned to Hermione and followed her out of the compartment.
They made their way towards the front of the train in silence until Hermione cast a sideways glance at Ron and said, "I've noticed you have been studying Harry and Ginny for most of the trip."
Ron shrugged, "I was just trying to figure out what's goin' on is all. Harry lifted your trunk like it was nothin' and Ginny did the same…." He paused in the hallway. "Why do you ask?"
"Because I want to know too," Hermione said stopping and turning to face him. "This isn't the first time that these two have done something that weird and while I've been discounting it before, I've seen it happening more and more often over the last year."
"What do you mean?"
"Did you know that your sister can speak Japanese? Or that the two of them can dance like a pair of professionals? Or that Harry has a mind that can grasp and understand complex philosophies and ideals?" Hermione continued to rattle of several examples of what Harry and Ginny could do. Ron was shocked that Hermione had observed this much from the pair. He had only just begun to notice something strange.
"H–How do you know all this…I–I mean when? When did any of this happen?"
Hermione sighed, "I've been seeing some of this since last Halloween but the bigger slips have only happened recently."
Ron had always been a person more towards taking instant action over planned, "Then I'm goin' to go confront them. I want to know what is going on…we're best friends for cryin' out loud!" He turned and began to march back down the hallway.
"Ron no!" Hermione hissed latching onto his arm and trying to drag him back. "You can't just go in there and start demanding answers. You'll get nothing but denial from them."
"What should we do then Hermione!" Ron exploded, throwing his ands up in the air and inadvertently breaking the grip she had on his forearm. "Something is goin' on and I want to know what! They're obviously not goin' to come tell us on their own. They've proven that already!"
"But they way you want to do it won't get us anywhere either. I want to know just as much as you do alright," Hermione placed her hands on her hips and gave Ron a small glare. "We need to take it slow, watch them some more. When they make a big mistake, we'll confront them with all the evidence we have and they'll have no choice but to tell us."
"My sister is a stubborn person, Hermione," Ron growled.
"So am I," said Hermione. "One way or another we will find out what is going on…even if I have to use Vertirserum to find out what it is." Hermione concluded with a narrowing with her eyes.
Ron huffed and crossed his arms, looking down the corridor to the closed door that his sister and best friend sat behind. "Fine," he said finally, "We do it your way. But it had better work or I am going to take matters into my own hands."
"Fair enough, Ron" Hermione whispered, "Fair enough."
Harry's soft voice filled the compartment, "They're getting suspicious…"
Ginny nodded, "It will make things easier in the long run. This way, they won't be too surprised by the truth. We've been lying to them enough."
Silence made its way into the compartment once more and it was several moments before Harry broke it, "A truth is only a truth, if it is what you want to hear."
Ginny turned another page.
Warden's Rants: Well...now that Christmas break is over and done with I am back to my writing. This chapter should have been out...about a week ago but with various power outages and problems with the FanfictionNet servers it's out late. I already know that this is going to be one of my most controverseal chapters. Just keep an open mind to the story. Anyways, I'm totally wiped and need some sleep so I'll just leave it at that. Best Regards, Warden