Edited and reposted 1/11/07. If you find any other errors, please let me know and I will correct them as soon as possible.
THE LORD OF AZKABAN
It had now been nearly eighteen months since Voldemort's defeat on Azkaban and the magical world was still in a state of rebuilding. With Voldemort powerless and most of his more powerful Death Eaters either dead or captured, it was a relatively easy task to hunt down the rest and bring them to justice. Since sending them to Azkaban was no longer an option, construction had begun on a new facility to take its place, that would hopefully be more secure than the island prison had been in more resent years when Voldemort had succeeded with two mass breakouts. Ministries the world over were still looking for replacements for those who had been killed and those that had allied themselves with the Dark Lord.
The magical community had greeted the news of what had truly happened at Azkaban with shock and disbelief, at first, but that shock had quickly turned to anger. Though not all of it was directed at Harry solely, though many still chose to hold him responsible for the current state of the world. The majority of the public's anger was directed at the late Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, and current Minister and Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. It seemed that most people failed to see where they were also responsible and were more than happy to place ALL the blame on a few select individuals that played key roles instead of acknowledging the fact that they too might also be at fault. But that is human nature. Everyone wants to believe that they had no real part to play in such a disastrous situation but when it comes to something truly remarkable they are more than happy to grab up all of the credit that they can. While it's true that Fudge and Dumbledore held most of the responsibility, as well as certain 'friends' of Harry's, they never would have been able to get away with the farce of a trial and illegal procedures if they had just demanded that their leaders adhered to the very laws that they were sworn to uphold. But they didn't. They allowed themselves to be led around by their hand like children because, 'hey, this is Dumbledore, he's never wrong,'
When the story broke that Harry now had control of Azkaban and had given sanctuary to numerous people, including many 'former' Death Eaters, only a few had anything beside angry words to say when the list of names was made public. The names that caused the biggest reactions however were obvious. Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy and Alister Moody! The first two because of their obvious notoriety as members of Voldemort's inner circle and the last because he was supposed to be dead as well as his close relationship with Dumbledore. The same could be said about Snape and McGonagall. There were a few that demanded that Dumbledore do something about some of the more infamous criminals on the list, but the majority of them kept quiet and didn't much care as long as they stayed on Azkaban and didn't bother decent folk like themselves. They probably didn't want to risk giving Harry Potter a reason to turn his attention to them. Besides, what were the odds that such a hated woman like Bellatrix would risk walking down Diagon Ally? Though most people were revolted that Harry would let the woman wander free, they all, including the Longbottoms, would have given an arm and a leg to see her in one of her 'meetings' with the now powerless Dark Lord.
Dumbledore himself, though he physically felt as young and strong as he did at age fifty, was slowly being worn down by the mounting pressures that were placed upon him as both Minister of Magic and Headmaster of Hogwarts. Unfortunately due to Voldemort's attack on Hogwarts and his execution of many members of the Ministry, there was no one suitably qualified to take over either roll. The only professor that met the right qualifications was Professor McGonagall and as of now the only surviving member of the Ministry, Arthur Weasley, didn't have enough experience. And even if he did he made it perfectly clear that he was only staying on to help rebuild the government and after that was complete he was going to retire to spend as much time as possible with his family. Percy's betrayal had hit them very hard indeed, as well as the news that he had been given the 'Kiss' with the other corrupt Ministry officials on Harry's order. But as much as it hurt them, they held no blame for Harry, not even Ron or Hermione did. The aforementioned Headmaster could often be seen muttering to himself darkly as he cursed Harry's name when the pressure was particularly heavy.
The entire wizarding world was greatly surprised at the miraculous recovery of the Longbottom family and when they learned that Harry was responsible for it, it only served to triple the amount of mail that was being sent out to the Boy-Who-Lived, asking for assistance with an ailling loved one, but like every other letter sent since Voldemort's downfall, every one was returned unopened and undelivered. Despite the debates that were wide spread on how the feat was accomplished, the three Longbottoms made the most of their time together and held nothing but understanding and thanks for the young wizard that had given them a second chance at a productive life together. Though each of them would have liked to join Harry at Azkaban to get away from all of the pointing and whispered words everywhere they go, they recognized that they could help make the magical world a much better place by remaining a part of it.
Like Percy's 'death' the sudden disappearance of Azkaban Island deeply troubled, at least most of, the Weasley family. Arthur had been searching for his twin sons, Fred and George, for many years now without much success and the sudden disappearance of Ginny had them all in a panic. After Voldemort's defeat Ron informed his parents that Dumbledore had evidence that the twins as well as Ginny were on the island with Harry and Arthur breathed sighed of relief, knowing that no harm would come to them as long as Harry had any fight left in him. Both Arthur and Molly would have immediately rushed to get to their children's side if it had not been for that annoying secrecy charm and he had been able to tell them sooner. After taking a portkey from Hogwarts to the Burrow Ron had tried on numerous occasions to tell his parents the news but each time he tried an incoherent string of noises were all he was able to muster. That is until after Voldemort was defeated. Roughly the same time that Azkaban had vanished, Ron and Hermione discovered that they could now talk about what they had witnessed while in the company of others. With one major exception that is. That one exception had been the fact that Harry was now 'involved' with both Nymphadora Tonks and Bellatrix Lestrange. It appeared that Harry had no intention of allowing his personal life to become a matter of public discussion as it had been while he was a student at Hogwarts.
Ron for his part spent much of his time aiding Frank and Neville Longbottom training new Aurors and Unspeakables for the newly reformed Ministry. While he didn't hold Harry responsible for Percy's fate, he did hold a large amount of anger and hatred for his former best friend. In his mind, Harry had acted as a coward and was no better than Voldemort himself since he refused to get involved until he himself was threatened. Though he never spoke of it out loud this was the same view that Dumbledore was beginning to hold as well. Ron's views were a constant source of arguments between him and his family who believed differently. Just one more thing he held Harry responsible for. With the birth of his son Robert, named for Hermione's murdered father, Ron mellowed a little but may Merlin help you if you ever dare speak a good word of Harry in his presence.
At first Hermione had held the same view as Ron but after the Fedelius Charm on the Burrow was removed she was confronted by a very angry Christine Granger. Hermione, who was usually very calm and composed, sometimes even with a look of superiority, while dealing with her little sister, cringed back at the look of absolute fury on the younger woman's face. What followed was a half hour verbal lashing about how stupid she could possibly be to actually expect Harry to help them after what he had been through just because she asked it of him. Remembering the numerous articles that appeared in many different news papers the first few days after they had left Azkaban only served to anger her further when she realized that their 'anonymous' sources most have either been her or her idiot husband since Lupin was wallowing in to much self pity to speak with any reporters and Dumbledore wasn't stupid enough to anger Harry further. Sources that referred to Harry as a cold heartless monster or even the next Dark Lord. After expressing her utter disbelief at her sister's stupidity for actually believing that he would do as they asked after his friends betrayed him in such away, she stormed out of the house, leaving Hermione crying on the floor. Needless to say, the two had not spoken since. Hermione had tried to contact her on numerous occasions since, but after over a year of returned letters and ignored messages, she finally gave up.
Unlike Ron, the rest of the Weasley family were firmly behind Harry and his decision to remain apart from the rest of the magical world that at the time had been corrupt and was led by imbeciles. Shortly after the war had ended, both Bill and Charlie had returned to England after a fair bit of begging from their mother. When they returned they were surprised to learn that Fred and George were on Azkaban and that Ginny had recently gone as well and all had obviously chosen to stay there, but they couldn't blame them really. After all, the twins were wanted criminals and Harry had given them a place to stay when just about everyone else, including their little brother, were after their heads. And unfortunately Ginny could no longer go anywhere without someone pointing and pretending to whisper while they spoke of her like she were some vial piece of trash. All thanks to the disgusting rumors her 'loving' brother Ron spread about simply because she wouldn't accept his views on how 'evil' Harry Potter was. The two oldest Weasley children had decided to stay in England for a few months, though they refused to stay at the burrow due to Ron's presence. In the end only Charlie returned to his home and job abroad. Bill decided to transfer back to the Gringotts branch office in London so he could also help in rebuilding the government as he had taken an interest in politics.
And the general public wasn't much better. If one good thing had come from this whole catastrophe, it was that people didn't seem to trust their leaders as much or follow them blindly anymore. Citizens watched the actions of the members of the newly reformed Ministry with a sharp eye for any sign of corruption or dark intentions. They clearly had no desire to repeat the mistakes of the past and that also included closely watching Albus Dumbledore, who didn't hold as much respect as he once did. As promised, Mr. Weasley retired after the new Ministry was formed and each member had been properly trained and had settled in to their new positions. Dumbledore had appealed to him to continue on and take over the position of Minister of Magic, but he had firmly declined. After a year, a public election was held and Bill Weasley was elected Minister of Magic in a landslide vote against a popular former potions professor named Slughorn. The odd thing was that Bill didn't even know he was running until the election was almost over and he himself went to cast his vote. It appeared that at the nomination ceremony the night before, held by the new leaders of the ministry and their subordinates, someone had cast his name. It was probably one of his old friends that thought it would be good for a laugh to see what the reaction would be. But instead of merely being laughed off, nearly everyone seemed to take it seriously and after a long debate it was agreed that he would join Horace Slughorn on the ballet.
Bill nearly had a heart attack as he read the piece of parchment in his hand. He, of course, had heard of Slughorn and was prepared to vote for the other guy no matter who it was. After all, the man was only one step up from being a celebrity stalker. If someone could help advance his position in any way he would do all that he could to rub shoulders with them but he had no interest and no use for the common individual. Pressing the tip of his wand into the mark below Slughorn's, he was prepared to cast his vote but when he read the name next to it he froze. After several minutes he simply dropped the paper in shock and apperated back to his hotel room and opened a new bottle of Fire Whiskey. And that was where three members of his family found him the next afternoon after the results were announced. Passed out on his floor with two empty bottles next to him and a third had obviously been thrown into the wall. Molly and Arthur were shocked beyond words but Charlie looked absolutely delighted to be there when his parents found his older brother in such a position.
Hogwarts was a completely different matter as opposed to the Ministry. While it had been hard to find people qualified to fill each position, they had a large selection of people with plenty of experience. Finding qualified witches and wizards to teach at Hogwarts high standards was a daunting task when searching for the usual Defense teacher each year, but now Dumbledore had to find six professors, three for three of the four core classes that demanded more experience and talent than all the others. Not since the school was first founded had so many positions been open at the same time.
Albus Dumbledore was currently sitting behind his desk looking over yet another resume of an unqualified applicant for the defense position. It seemed that was all he did recently. School had been back in session for three and a half months now and it seemed that anyone qualified to teach the class either had no interest in teaching or were afraid of the curse that seemed to be on that particular position. Professor Shacklebolt had held the position for more than a single year but he had, in fact, been murdered on school grounds. Magical folk were a superstitious lot and they didn't want to compromise their life expectancy needlessly. Due to the absence of so many professors, the reopening of the school had to be pushed back a full year while replacements were secured and repairs had been made on the school. He was able to find teachers for most classes before the students returned, with the exception of Defense Against the Dark Arts, so instead of postponing classes even longer he decided to teach the class himself until someone suitable was found. As of yet no one had.
On a whole, the Death Eaters had done very little damage to the school, the problem was that most of the damage was centered on the Great Hall. Not in all his years at Hogwarts had he seen such a mess. Every one of the long house tables were literally blown to pieces and the banners that lined the walls were no more than ashes. The apparent blast had destroyed the wards that protected the integrity of the hall which resulted in half the ceiling coming down and several holes were blown out of the walls. Everyone who saw the destruction simply could not find the words to express themselves, so they merely stood there in shock, paying no attention to the mangled bodies of Death Eaters that were scattered throughout the area. It was obvious that either the Death Eaters did something rather stupid and got themselves blown up or someone else had crept up on them while they had their guard down and did what Dumbledore could not do. Finding the dead bodies of many more Death Eaters all over the school gave them the obvious answer. The only question that remained to be answered was who was responsible. Dumbledore had a fairly good idea, but without a scrape of proof he wasn't going to open himself up to the possibility of being proven wrong later on.
After setting yet another resume aside, the old man set is glasses down and began rubbing the bridge of his nose. It was times like these that he was immensely grateful that a new Minister of Magic had been elected. That was just one more headache that he didn't need right now. Though he had his doubts when Bill Weasley had first been elected, he was surprised to see that the young man was actually quite capable at the job and welcomed any advice that the department heads and advisers had to offer. A quality that Cornelius Fudge lacked and made him so ineffective. Though he may not always act on or agree with such advice, everyone knew that he would take each of them seriously and if he disregarded it, there was a very good reason. After a few more minutes, reflecting on recent events, he picked his glasses back up, preparing to continue the time consuming task ahead of him. Just as he reached for another resume, a soft chuckling reached his ears. In one swift movement, he drew his wand and pointed it towards the door, but there was no one there. Scanning the room carefully he was deeply confused to find nothing. Due to protection and privacy wards, no one could enter his office without his knowledge but he was quite sure that he was not merely hearing things.
"Up here!" A familiar voice called out after whistling sharply. Snapping his head up in the direction of the voice he was only mildly surprised to see Harry Potter lying back casually on top of one of his tall book cases. "Now is that any way to welcome one of your favorite students? Besides, you might as well go ahead and put that away; it will do you no good." He said in amusement as he glanced at the wand that was currently pointing right at him. Even though he wanted nothing more than to fire every curse he knew at the young man before him, he knew that not one would penetrate his defenses. With a huff he lowered his wand and grunted angrily as he plopped back into his chair.
"So, why have you graced me with your presence?"
"What, Headmaster?" Harry said in a hurt tone. "Aren't you happy to see me? It was not that long ago that you would have killed to see me in this office. Well, times change, I guess, but if you are going to continue to use sarcasm like that, I suggest you take lessons because that was rather mediocre. But as to why I have 'graced you with my presence' as you say." He said as he hopped off of the bookshelves. "I am actually here because of Severus and Minerva. Moody believes that your freindship ran its course long ago, but despite the troubles you had with Minerva the last few years, she still greatly respect you and thinks of you as a dear friend and as you know Severus has always thought of you as more of a father than even his own. I am here to give you a way to communicate with them both while they are on Azkaban."
"And how would I do that?" He asked in interest. As much anger and dislike that he now held for Harry, he would still like to contact his old colleagues again and if that meant being civil than that is what he would do.
"Fawkes." Harry answered simply as he waved towards the sleeping phoenix. Dumbledore looked at Harry for a moment with his eyes narrowed.
"Mr. Potter, a phoenix is able to travel to every corner of the world despite wards or shields and yet Fawkes has not been able to find them."
"You're right, a phoenix can go anywhere in the world, so it stands to reason that if he can not find us, then we are no longer part of this world." He replied with a grin that got even wider when the Headmaster's eyes went wide.
"How…" He began to ask in astonishment when Harry cut him off.
"Don't bother asking questions when the answers will be beyond your understanding. All I care to tell you is that after Voldemort was beaten, I took Azkaban out of this dimension and have now learned how we can travel back and forth at will. Bella also came up with a charm that when placed on an owl or other animal, like a phoenix, they will then be able to make it to the island IF they are carrying a letter or package that is free of all forms of harmful magic. Harmful magic also includes any form of tracking or surveillance spells. So, if you will excuse me, I would rather get done with this and be on my way." Dumbledore was still trying to process this information as well as trying his best to stay calm when Harry implied that he wasn't intelligent enough to understand when the man in question walked over to the perch Fawkes was currently resting on.
Having no better way of waking up a sleeping bird, Harry just lightly poked the phoenix in the chest a couple of times. The effect was immediate. Harry had to pull his hand back swiftly as the irritated bird tried to take a piece out of it. After eyeing Harry for a moment he went about straightening the feathers in his wings that got out of place with his sudden movements.
"Sorry to wake you, old boy, but you need to be awake for this." Harry explained in jovial voice as though he thought the bird's reaction was fairly amusing. This only brought Harry another cool stare.
/Well why didn't you just say something instead of poking me like an infant. Silly humans/
Harry looked around the room to find the source of the voice but found nothing. Dumbledore made no indication that he had heard anything as he was just watching to see what Harry was going to do that would allow his phoenix to travel to Azkaban. After a few moments of thought he came to the only possible conclusion.
"I'm just going to pretend that I didn't hear you say that!" He said in a confused tone as he turned back to Fawkes who was now looking at him intently and with no small amount of surprise. Without saying another word, he just lifted his hand and from his forefinger a small strand of yellow light shot out and surrounded the phoenix. At first Fawkes looked alarmed before he 'felt' that Harry was not trying to harm him and he calmed down but even for a bird he felt a great deal of curiosity. After a moment the light turned to a soft blue before Harry lowered his hand and broke the connection.
"Alright Fawkes, next time Dumbledore here wants you to deliver a message to either Severus or Minerva, you will instinctively know where they are and how to get there, much like you would for anyone else. Also, taking into account the differences between a Phoenix and a Dementor, you are now shielded from their power, as they are from you. Now, if you will both excuse me, I must be going, I have someplace else I have to be."
"WAIT!" Dumbledore shouted as he stood up quickly. Harry turned back to the man curiously. He would have thought that he would have wanted him to leave as soon as possible so he was a bit confused as to what the man wanted but as soon as he spoke again he found out and it only served to annoy him further. "Why have you done this to me?" He asked in a quiet voice. Instantly Harry's eyes narrowed.
"Is that all you can think about? Yourself?" Harry snapped angrily. "I don't know when it happened and I don't care. But somewhere along the way you actually started believing all those ridiculous stories people always say about you. Most of the mindless idiots around here seem to think of you as some sort of god. All knowing and infallible. Whatever you say must be true and whatever you do must be right. You, of course, do make mistakes and when you do, everyone thinks it must have been someone else's fault, but yet you never correct them. In fact, you encourage it and deny any fault, even to yourself. You have this vision of yourself as some great crusader against everything evil, including evil you helped nurture. You knew what Tom Riddle was from the first moment you laid eyes on him, and yet you did nothing. You told no one of the acts of cruelty he committed."
"MR. POTTER THAT IS ENOUGH! I will not be spoken to in such a fashion in my school."
"SILENCE." Harry roared and Dumbledore was shoved back into his chair and an unseen force held him there. "If you please, I will continue without interruption. You asked a question and you will get the answer, whether it is something you want to hear or not. Incidentally, I must review a bit of history to explain my recent actions. Now, right after Tom Riddle graduated, he immediately joined the ranks of Grindlewald's Black Guard but escaped after he was defeated. For many years after that he went in search of power, and later, followers. After you defeated the big bad Dark Lord, anything that went wrong in the magical world you were informed of, so you obviously knew what he was doing. You knew of the dozens of people he had already tortured and killed and yet you did nothing. You even met with him on numerous occasions face to face, even once in this very office when he applied for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. You had the power and skill to stop him, but you never stood in his way. That is, not until he killed your wife." Harry said slowly while a small grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. Dumbledore's eyes were wide and were slowly filling with unshed tears but his mind was racing. Despite all that had happened he was still deeply shocked and greatly angered when Harry said this in such a cold and casual way. As if it didn't matter.
"I find that rather hypocritical really. Judging by your actions it would seem that you believed it was perfectly alright as long as he was killing people you didn't know. But when he struck at you, and those close to you, you would do anything to see him defeated. So you formed the Order of the Phoenix. Your own band of marry followers. People that trusted you implicitly and would die to see your chosen goal accomplished. And that was what you wanted. The only reason you stayed on as Headmaster after your wife's death was so that you could mold talented students into believing as you did, and later, lead them to their deaths if necessary. A smart move really. But then that damned prophecy popped up. Even when I was a student I knew you didn't put much stock in divination, at least not the way Professor Trelawney taught it. But a true prophecy, that was something different all together. When she came out of her trance and knew nothing of what she said you knew it to be true. After all, a charlatan like her would not have simply ignored that. She would have made out like that type of thing happened all the time.
"It must have angered you greatly to learn that you wouldn't be the one to kill Voldemort." Harry said with a knowing smirk on his face. "But you being the manipulative bastard you are, planned to make the best of it. And when my parents were murdered it made it so much easier for you. I believe you sent me to the Dursley's and back again each summer for two reasons. If I was truly supposed to defeat Voldemort than that would mean I would more than likely be on your side. So reason number one, I was sent there because with as horrid as the Dursley's were, I would more than likely arrive at Hogwarts as a scared and lonely outcast that was just dieing to be accepted and treated with kindness for once. Which, of course, I was. This made it very easy for you to get your hooks into me and fashion me into your own personal weapon.
"Reason number two, and this is a big one. You wanted to find some measure of closer. After all, the fact that you ignored the abuse heaped upon Tom Riddle before he achieved some measure of control over his accidental magic was probably the biggest reason he became as cruel and evil as he did. But if I also endured much the same treatment and turned out differently than it must not have been anything you did, or rather, failed to do that created that monster."
"With the blood protection on that house it was the only safe place for you to be." Dumbledore said firmly and stubbornly which caused Harry to laugh out right.
"It is utterly amazing. Not only that you continue to claim that but the fact that you have actual convinced yourself. If this so called blood protection was so important, so vital to my security, then why did you allow me to remain at the Weasley's before my second year, the Leaky Cauldron before my third and then back to the Weasley's the following summer. It would seem that for all the protection I was under while there, I spent most of my time away. Granted, all three times I either left on my own, was basically kidnapped by Fred and George," Dumbledore raised an eyebrow when Harry left Ron's name out but Harry didn't seem to notice. "And then Mrs. Weasley raising hell about me being left there. But surprisingly you sent me back after my forth year. During his resurrection ritual, my blood was used to give Voldemort a new body, that took away any blood protection that may have been there.
"But we are getting off track. Let me give you the short version because I could continue to point out your failings in character for a long time. The bottom line is you are a manipulative old bastard who thinks of no one but himself and your own quest for vengeance. You will stop at nothing to achieve your goals and if they prove to be impossible you will continue on and get everyone killed in the process. Other people's lives are meaningless to you. Other people, period, are meaningless to you if they don't fit into your grand scheme. I'm rather surprised you weren't sorted into Slytherin when you were a student. When you meet someone all you think about is what they could do for you, what they could do to further your cause. You would go to any length, including stealing from and lying to your former mentor and oldest friend." The look in Dumbledore's eyes changed only slightly but Harry saw it and knew he was right.
"What are you talking about?" The old mage demanded angrily. Apparently he had no problem listening to Harry criticize him and his methods but didn't like being called a common thief. Harry of course was only to happy to explain.
"Before my powers awakened, I laid on my cell floor with an almost constant connection to Voldemort. I saw all of his attacks and even a couple where you confronted him. You always ended up beaten but managed to get away somehow but with wounds so severe that most men would never recover even with the most skilled healers available. Later, after I freed Tonks, I learned that after the two events that she was present for, you had recovered and were in perfect health the following day, looking stronger even. This was before I learned the secret to immortality so naturally I was curious as to how you managed it. After thinking it over for a few days I suddenly remembered my first year at Hogwarts and the Sorcerer's Stone. All you ever said was that after speaking to Nicolas Flamel you decided to destroy the stone. But you didn't destroy it, did you?" He asked with a lopsided grin. "You let Flamel believe you had and he later died because of it but in reality you saw an opportunity to gain something of power, something that could go a long way to at least seeing Voldemort's end so you took the stone for yourself and let your friend die." Dumbledore said nothing but his face was bright red and his eyes were bulging with rage.
"Personally I think that is the reason I was packed off to Azkaban so quickly on such flimsy evidence. Like I said earlier, you wanted to be the one to kill Voldemort. Even after the prophecy and everything else that had happened, you still believed you could do it yourself. Especially with a healthy supply of the Elixir of Life on hand. You saw a way to get rid of me and take the glory for yourself, so you took the chance and it backfired. But now that Voldemort is no longer a threat you want nothing more than to crawl into bed and never wake up the next morning. You may be a master of Occlumency but I can still read your every thought. Death is what you long for the most, even more than seeing Voldemort dead. And that is precisely why I am denying it to you. Up until I was thrown into Azkaban you took everything I had from me. Everything I ever lost to Voldemort could be traced directly back to you and your methods. So before I let you die, I am going to do the same to you. And I fully intend to show the world what you truly are. Not all at once, of course, spread it out over a period of time. It will be much more entertaining and satisfying that way. But as I told you on Azkaban, I am not as forgiving as Sirius was." Harry finished coldly as he prepared to leave. With merely a thought he released the Headmaster from his unseen restraints and turned to walk out the door.
The instant his back was turned, Dumbledore jumped from his chair and with a cry like a madman he raised his wand and fired the first curse that came to mind. In a move that was scarcely seen, Harry spun around and 'slapped' the curse right back at the man. Dumbledore's eyes went wide in surprise as the bright green glow of the killing curse slammed into his chest. An ear splitting scream echoed through the office but none outside heard the faintest whisper. Harry stood and watched in fascination as the 'all powerful' Dumbledore collapsed to the floor as his body convulsed and his screams became rough as his throat and vocal cords were obviously damaged. After a few moments Harry became bored and approached his 'former' mentor. After immobilizing him he went about healing him and placing a few calming charms on him. After all, he wanted the man to remember this meeting with great detail. When he was done he stood back up and was once again preparing to leave but someone, or rather something, else thought differently.
Fawkes had stood on his perch watching calmly as Harry spoke. He, of course, had known about Dumbledore's ways for a long time but had bonded with him when he was still a young man and as a result of that bonding he felt and experienced a great many of the man's emotions and so he understood and even shared some of his desires. Although a phoenix is supposed to be the very strength of light magic and the embodiment of nobility, a bonded phoenix sometimes becomes to attached and forgets these things. While he was greatly shocked and disgusted by Dumbledore's cowardly attack, he felt it was justified, so he did nothing. Normally he would give his life to protect the man but the deflected curse caught him by surprise so he was unable to intercept it. It seemed his mind froze for a time and he sat rooted to his perch in shock even while Harry was healing him. Soon, however, he was able to shake these feelings and the need for revenge, which normally a phoenix never experiences, coursed through him.
Harry saw and heard nothing so it was quite a shock when a sharp pain ripped through his chest when Fawkes collided with him and dug his beak into his right shoulder while his long talons tried to slash at his chest and abdomen. Harry's teeth clenched in pain as he batted away the wildly flapping wings to get his hand up toward Fawkes' head just as Dumbledore made it back to his feet with an insane smirk as he looked on but he quickly found himself restrained yet again. Harry felt warm blood run over his hand and his fingers felt silky when they tightened around the great bird's neck. With a grunt, he pulled him away from his shoulder and held him out at arms length while his other hand restrained his legs. His wings were still flapping furiously and after a moment he burst into flames. This merely caused Harry to grin.
"Sorry, old boy, no fire flight today." He chuckled as the flames were extinguished as quickly as the erupted and the bird was frozen into place. Harry took this opportunity to quickly heal his wounds but then looked back at Fawkes curiously. "You know, its strange really. How much corruption the human race spreads. I'm sure you know this already, Professor, but the Phoenix was the first form of life created in the universe. They never truly die and they cannot reproduce. Every one on earth has been here since the beginning of time and shall be here till the end. They are true symbols of everything good this world was meant to be. But then humans came along and some bonded with people that they thought were worthy. Unfortunately, with the decay of morals and principles in the human comes the eventual decay of the phoenix. I once read a book on these creatures that had many excerpts from the personal journals of Gryffindor himself. If you're going to learn about them you might as well get your information from one of the only men that has ever been able to speak with them. The interesting thing is that he learned that the thing a phoenix fears the most is death, to no longer exist. Strange that a creature that cannot die would fear death." Harry paused for a moment and looked between Fawkes and Dumbledore a few times before focusing his full attention on Fawkes. "When his time comes," he said indicating to Dumbledore. "You will join him in death." He said simply before dropping the restrained bird to the floor and vanishing.
Many miles away from Hogwarts, a certain family of redheads was waiting nervously for the rest of their family to arrive. Naturally, Mrs. Weasley was in a near panic, cleaning everything for the twelfth time, making sure everything was perfect while she cooked up a storm at the same time. Mr. Weasley was the only one able to calm his wife down these days but he was having a difficult time keeping calm himself so it wouldn't do any good. Bill, now in his seventh month as Minister of Magic, looked as calm and composed as ever but he found it difficult to sit still and constantly found himself walking around to look out the windows in anticipation. Charlie just found everyone's reactions laughable and amused himself by humming some annoying tune that was driving everyone else insane. Then you have Ron and Hermione.
Ron's face looked like a thunder cloud and it was clear that he wanted to be anywhere else at the moment. Life after Voldemort had been rough for him. At one time, he was a fairly respected Auror that was taken seriously for his keen analytical mind and his fair fighting abilities. However, that changed swiftly after Voldemort's defeat. For a time, he helped rebuild the Auror Division with Frank and Neville Longbottom but quickly fell out of favor with his constant insistence that his brothers, Fred and George, not be pardoned for past infractions. In fact he demanded that all of the people on Harry's so called 'protection list' be arrested as traitors the moment they were found, whether they had committed any crime or not. Not to mention his opinions that the newly rebuilt Ministry immediately begin making plans to seize Azkaban by force and bring the new Dark Lord, Harry Potter, to face justice. Even knowing the considerable power Harry now possessed, his jealousy and anger clouded his judgment and he quickly became a liability. While the new leaders of the Ministry may not like the recent turn of events, they were not stupid enough to make Harry an enemy by declaring war on him when twenty five percent of the witches and wizards of Great Britain had already been wiped out during the war with Voldemort. Ron now works as an assistant trainer for the Chuddley Cannons, a job he loudly expresses that he his over qualified for and can usually be heard badmouthing the teams current keeper. The only reason he currently had a job with the team was because the current team captain is a former teammate of Charlie's and he kept him on as a favor. As much as he despised Ron's recent actions, Charlie had no desire to see his younger brother lose yet another job when he had a young son to take care of.
Despite the pain and anger she felt of Harry's rejection, Hermione was still immensely happy to be seeing Ginny again. She was even looking forward to seeing the twins despite the fact that they were on opposing sides of a very nasty argument concerning Harry the last time she saw them. She was currently feeding her son Robert for the forth time that afternoon in yet another futile attempt to distract herself for a while. They were all very surprised to receive the message that the estranged members of their family would be returning that day. But that surprise was quickly forgotten as Mrs. Weasley got everyone busy to make the already spotless house 'presentable'. They were given no exact time for their arrival so everyone nearly had heart failure when someone knocked quite loudly on the front door. After calming herself, Mrs. Weasley went to see who was there with a bit of disappointment considering her children had no reason to knock on the door like strangers.
When she opened the door she looked about in confusion when she saw no one. That was until she looked down and saw two small girls looking up at her with wide mischievous grins. The two greeted the Weasley matriarch with big wave and an excited hello before they rushed passed her into the house. Molly spun around with a look of absolute confusion on her face and saw the two bouncing around the living room, shaking everyone's hands and greeting them like they were old friends. They even seemed to know everyone's names and made comments referring to their occupations and interests. That is, everyone except Ron who they seemed to ignore as if he were not even there. One of the little girls, who had long chestnut colored hair, enthusiastically asked Hermione if she could hold Robert. Everyone seemed to be held in the same state of shock and confusion that held Molly rooted to her spot next to the front door that still stood open.
Charlie was currently just staring open mouthed into the face of the young girl that introduced herself as Catherine, as she rambled on excitedly about all she had learned about dragons and their behavior. Despite the completely odd situation, he was surprised that a girl so young could hold that much information. He figured she must be around five or six years old and she had long glossy black hair and bright vivid green eyes. He knew he had never previously met this girl but there was something strikingly familiar about her. Looking her over for yet another time his attention was brought back to her eyes. Very familiar… Charlie's eyes went wide as he suddenly figured out what was so familiar and probably would have shouted in shock if he had not been cut off by a loud burst of laughter. Everyone it seemed was a bit on edge as they jumped to their feet and drew their wands, looking for the source of the commotion. Molly dropped her wand and gasped when she saw Fred, George and Ginny standing just inside the kitchen as the twins had to hold on to each other to prevent themselves from falling as they laughed hysterically. Ginny looked just as amused but had the good grace to at least try to cover it up, though it took a lot of effort. The two young girls skipped over to the twins with wide grins and sparkling eyes.
"Did we do it right, Uncle Fred?" Catherine asked as she jumped into his arms and her sister did the same with George.
"Yes, you did. The two of you were perfect." Fred praised. "We wouldn't have been able to plan it better ourselves."
"Well, it was Anna's idea but I came up with how to act and what to say." Catherine said really fast with excitement. All the Weasley's watched on with a morbid sense of fascination. The twins were going on and on about how proud they were and what not. After some time, the Weasleys were able to pull themselves together but were a little annoyed that they were made the butt of some joke when they should have realized that after being gone for several years Fred and George were bound to pull something. Mrs. Weasley was the first to approach, or rather charge at the group and sweep them all into the biggest hug she could muster as she cried. Anna and Catherine, who were still being held by the twins, almost gagged when they were crushed between the twins and their mother. Ginny however was smart and side stepped the collision of bodies and watched on with a smile when Molly backed up and asked the question everyone seemed to be wondering.
"Who are these two young ladies?" She asked as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
"Well, this here is my Goddaughter, Anna." George said happily as he held the girl in his arms.
"And this is my goddaughter, Catherine."
"Who in the hell would be insane enough to name either of you Godfather to their children?" Bill asked with a slight smirk while he was questioning the wisdom of placing the twin pranksters in a position to help raise and corrupt little girls.
"It was Harry, wasn't it?" Charlie blurted out as he remembered his realization before his siblings showed up. Everyone looked at Charlie stupidly for a moment before turning back to the objects of the discussion.
"My daddy is not insane!" Anna snapped before smirking a little bit. "He's only misunderstood." Despite wondering who the mother was, everyone smiled at this response. That is, except Ron who sneered at the two as if they were something less than dirt for being Harry's children.
"That bitch Lestrange." He muttered darkly to himself as he took in Catherine's black hair and aristocratic features. He spoke softly but his voice seemed to echo throughout the room and everyone heard him. The Weasleys were looking at him in confusion but Catherine pulled herself out of Fred's arms. She ran over to Ron and kicked him squarely in the shin causing him to cry out.
"Don't you talk about my Mommy!" She yelled before kicking him in his other shin as well. Everyone was right back to feeling nothing but shock after this little revelation. With the exception of Ron and Hermione, everyone was totally flabbergasted at the very notion of Harry Potter being involved in any way with the former Death Eater, much less having a child with her. Both Ron and Hermione were surprised that he was able to speak of it at all. He had been trying to say something about it for ages now, but that bit of information had apparently been well protected by one of Harry's secrecy charms.
"Is this true?" Arthur gasped out as he looked back to Fred and George. The two merely nodded as if it was nothing of importance. But Ron, being himself, just couldn't keep his mouth shut.
"And did the other little urchin come from that bubbling fool Tonks?" He asked scathingly as his eyes bulged in anger. Once again, silence. Unlike his brother, George managed to hold on to the girl in his arms as she tried to struggle free to no doubt attack his younger brother for his remarks about her family.
"WHAT IS GOING ON?" Molly shouted and everyone winced at the sheer volume of her voice and it was even enough to halt Anna's attempts to attack Ron. It's amazing how such a lovely woman could scare such strong and powerful wizards and witches into silence. Fortunately, Anna and Catherine had been warned about her temper so that they wouldn't become frightened and lose control of their magic. Under the intense stare of their mother, Fred, George and Ginny nodded to each other and began explaining. Thankfully, multiple marriages, while rare, in the magical world, were not unheard of. In fact, Molly's uncle had had two wives, but they had become jealous of each other and ended up killing him. The biggest difficulty they had was explaining how Harry had become involved with Bellatrix of all people. All the while they were cursing Harry for not arriving yet and leaving them to explain.
It was easy to explain how Harry and Tonks had gotten together, after all, she was a friend to him before he was sent to Azkaban and when he discovered her locked in a cell, he would no doubt want to know why she was there. And the rest was history. But with Bella it was different. It was simple to tell them that Harry and Tonks had become rather bored with no one else to talk to, but the idea that Harry would choose Bella of all people left them confused and the three Weasleys didn't really know how to explain it sufficiently. But surprising it was Hermione that helped them out.
"Well, from what Harry told us, he and Tonks chose her because despite what she had done, she was the only inmate that they both had any familiarity with. Plus with his time in prison and the almost constant visions of Voldemort he probably lost a lot of his hate and prejudices against people who use dark magic. Or something like that. It stands to reason that when three people are pretty much alone together for an extended period of time, and have no one else to talk to, they will eventually begin to get along and start to develop feelings for each other as they get to know each other better." Hermione tried to explain as if it were something she read in a book about psychology. After a great deal more explaining everyone just decided to accept the fact even if they didn't agree with it.
"Well, you two obviously knew about this so why didn't you say anything before now?" Arthur asked Ron and Hermione curiously since he knew his wife was sure to ask the same thing, only be more accusing in her tone. But once again the answer came from someone who was not asked. In this case, Ginny.
"Everyone who knew was put under a security charm to prevent them from speaking of it, much like they were after they first went to Azkaban to 'free' Harry. He doesn't want his personal life plastered all over the news papers and be open for public debate like it was when he was at Hogwarts."
"Also it will protect my children should they ever leave Azkaban." Everyone turned sharply to the source of the strong voice and everyone gasped when they saw Harry sitting casually in a previously unoccupied chair. "If no one knows who they truly are, then certain elements in the magical world will not seek to harm them simply because I am their father." Harry stated matter of factly as he shot a quick glance at Ron indicating that he was speaking of those that believed as he did. "Consequently, the lot of you are now under this same security charm. As these two can attest too." He continues as he jestured toward Ron and Hermione, not even bothering to speak their names or even look at them. "My charm is perfect, with no loopholes." He took a moment to explain the guidelines of this charm for everyone's benefit so that each of them understood perfectly. While most of them did not like having some unknown charm over them, they understood the logic behind it. Besides, most of them, being members of the Order, had had such charms placed on them before, so it was nothing new. After a few more minutes of discussion, Molly's eyes went wide for a moment before she quickly turned to her only daughter and rushed to her. With all of the strange and shocking news they were getting from the moment they first arrived, she had completely forgotten to greet Ginny properly.
Ginny for her part seemed to grow a little nervous when she saw her mother approaching and Harry looked like he was planning to run and hide. Despite the changes that had taken place in him over the years, he still greatly respected the Weasleys and he still wanted their approval. When she had reached her daughter, Molly threw her arms around Ginny, apologizing for forgetting her, but she suddenly jumped back with a surprised yelp. Ginny grimaced as her mother looked at her with wide eyes before looking down. More specifically at Ginny's midsection. With a shaky hand she reached out and poked her stomach that was concealed in loose robes.
"OH MY BABY!" She shrieked as she once again threw her arms around Ginny and began sobbing hysterically while everyone else watched on in confusion. After a few moments Ginny was able to untangle herself from her mother. "How far along are you?" She asked while she sniffed a few times, trying to hold back another onslaught of tears.
"Seven and a half months." Ginny answered carefully as she glanced at her father and two oldest brothers. She didn't care about Ron, as far as she was concerned, he was no longer family to her. Hearing this statement, realization dawned on everyone present and every Weasley male was now on their feet and Hermione glanced sideways toward Harry who looked like he was planning a quick escape if needed. That told her all she needed to know.
"WHAT?" Her brothers and father shouted loudly. Almost immediately, Fred and George inconspicuously put down their respective Goddaughters and began moving slowly in Harry's direction. "Who's the father?" Arthur asked after taking a moment to calm down, but it was very difficult. A slight coughing sound brought their attention back towards Harry.
"Um, ah, that, that would be me." He said quietly as his face began to turn red. With this statement not even Arthur could keep his temper under control as he, Bill, Charlie and Ron began advancing on Harry. However, Fred and George were quick to intercept them. Positioning themselves right in their path with stern expressions that looked out of place on their normally carefree faces.
"I don't think you want to do anything you may regret later." Fred said seriously as the group stopped suddenly.
"Get out of our way, boys. I don't want to have to move you by force. I will not have ANYONE taking advantage of my daughter." Arthur said with barely restrained anger.
"We aren't going to move." George spoke up in a solemn tone. "And I'm afraid you will find moving us by force a bit more of a challenge than you think. We didn't defeat the Death Eaters, while being outnumbered ten to one, for nothing."
"The man already has two wives, and you have no problem with him messing around with our little sister just because it suits him?" Bill asked through clenched teeth. It was obvious that Arthur, Bill and Charlie were extremely angry but it was also very clear to those watching that the only reason Ron was at their sides was because he thought that taking on Harry four to one would be more in his favor.
"Harry doesn't have two wives." Ginny spoke up in annoyance, temporarily drawing attention away from Harry. "He has three." She continued with a smirk. Everyone looked at her gob smacked as if their brains had just shut down. "And Harry didn't take advantage of me. If anything he was the one that was taken advantaged of, the first time anyway."
"So, now you finally live up to your reputation," Ron was the first one to find his voice as he sneered at his sister in much the same way he did to Anna and Catherine. "You're nothing more than one of Potter's little whores." With this statement everyone in the room seemed to turn their anger towards him. But even the combined anger of the temperamental Weasleys was dwarfed in comparison to Harry's. With a ferocious growl, he literally threw Fred and George out of his way before knocking through Bill and Charlie to get at his former best friend. Too angry to even think of using magic, he did it the old fashioned way and landed a heavy punch to the side of Ron's head. The force of the blow threw the youngest Weasley male backwards with alarming force, sending him crashing through the couch side table and on into the wall. Subconsciously, Harry's magic was holding everyone in their place and preventing them from interfering. Ron lay dazed beside the fireplace when Harry approached and grabbed him by his lower jaw. With the help of a bit of wandless magic Harry easily lifted the man off of the floor and held him a good eight inches off of the ground while Ron's hands tried in vain to break Harry's hold on him.
"You speak so casually of her reputation as if it were something she earned. Nearly every witch and wizard in England spits on her and shouts obscenities at her for simply walking down the street because of you and your lies. You are no better than that piece of shit fudge or even Percy. Everyone who disagrees with you, you have to attack in some way. There are countless examples of you using your 'former' position as an Auror to try and dictate other people's lives. Following along as Fudge tried to destroy those that would not see things his way. If no crime was committed, you would invent one or seek to destroy their reputation, such as you did with Ginny. Your own sister, because she believed in my innocence while you were so blinded by the attention you always wanted that you didn't care who you stepped on in the process, even if it was your own family. I always knew that you were jealous of the fame and attention that was heaped upon me but I had never thought that you would go as far as you did to achieve some level of notoriety.
"You came to Azkaban with Dumbledore to free me so I could clean up your mess just like he did. After everything you have done over the past eight years, the only difference between you and the Death Eaters is that they are dead and you are alive. A situation I will gladly remedy if you ever speak to Ginny that way again, do I make myself clear?" Harry growled as he stared into Ron's panic filled eyes. He nodded his head slightly through Harry's grasp as he tried to choke out his response. Satisfied that he sent the proper message to the little shit Harry pulled him away from the wall and dropped him through the coffee table before storming out of the house and vanishing.
As soon as Harry left, everyone was able to move freely once again but they didn't seem to notice. Everyone stood in absolute shock. Well, except Fred and George who looked like Christmas had come early and Ginny stood with Anna and Catherine, all three had smug smiles on their faces as Ginny looked down at her unconscious brother. Finally Molly's maternal instincts kicked in and she rushed over to Ron and revived him. It took a few minutes for him to clear all of the cobwebs out of his head and make sure there wasn't any serious injuries but when he did he became furious. Standing up, he rounded on his family as if they were somehow at fault.
"Why didn't any of you do anything? That monster could have killed me and all you do is stand there and let it happen."
"Well, before I comment I feel it is my duty to inform everyone here that when Harry's anger gets out of control like that his magic tends to 'restrain' everyone present to prevent them from interfering." Fred informed his family calmly as if nothing had happened before turning back to Ron. "However, even if this were not the case, it is more than likely that I still would have done NOTHING. Or it is also equally possible that I would have taken the opportunity to get in a few shots myself. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that our dear younger brother here gave an interview with the Daily Prophet and said, and I quote. "Despite the fact that the fugitives we seek are my brothers, it is my belief that they should be hunted down like dogs."
"Yes, I must agree with my dear twin. In fact, the only reason we didn't blast him with a few curses the moment we arrived was because we gave Harry our word that we would 'try to move on from the actions of the past'. I believe those were his exact words. But sadly, Ron's mouth and ego had to get in the way." George picked up from where his brother left off. They both spoke in dramatic tones as if they were playing a role in some Greek tragedy. Looking at his father and oldest brothers, Ron could tell that they shared the twin's feelings on the matter. They would not have stepped in either, even Hermione. With no thought of what he had done to his family over the years, he was angered by their 'betrayal' and looked at them all with contempt before storming out himself.
Harry was currently sitting in his office on Azkaban speaking with both Tonks and Bella. They had returned from visiting Tonks' mother Andromeda shortly after Harry left the Weasley's. All three of them had first visited the couple shortly after Anna and Catherine were born. Since her father was muggleborn and they lived in the muggle world there was little danger that someone would recognize them should they be seen. To say the couple was shocked by their sudden arrival and relationship would have been a gross understatement. Andromeda, coming from a hardcore pureblood family, multiple marriages and even marriages between family members was not uncommon. But her husband was different. Both of these situations have been illegal in the muggle world for a very, very long time, so finding out that his daughter was now married to the same man as her aunt was just not acceptable to him. That was the last time Harry had gone with Tonks to visit her parents. He planned to just give the man time to come to terms with the situation but five years later and he still wasn't giving an inch. The addition of Ginny into the relationship had fueled his anger to even greater heights according to Tonks. So he just stayed away from the man. Thankfully though, he was still more than happy to accept Anna and Catherine.
It was some time later that Ginny returned with the twins and two very excited little girls. As soon as they entered the room they rambled on about all they had done while at the Weasley's and how much they liked everyone. Harry was a bit relieved that his confrontation with Ron hadn't ruined everything that day. It turned out that it went quite well after that although both Molly and Hermione were worried about Ron but no one else seemed to care. Molly, being herself, absolutely loved Anna and Catherine and they in turn loved the attention she and the others heaped upon them. After the initial shock wore off, everyone decided to try to accept Ginny's relationship with Harry because they could all see how happy he made her.
The following week Harry returned to the Burrow to apologize for his actions. Despite their reserved attitude the week before, Harry was still nervous as hell to speak to the closest thing he had to parents when he was younger. They may have been reserved with Ginny but she wouldn't be with him today. Thankfully his fears were unfounded. It seemed that his fierce defense of Ginny's honor the week before had made an impact with the Weasley men, so they were willing to let things be and accept it. Harry was greatly relieved by this since he deeply respected the Weasleys and the last thing he wanted was to come between Ginny and her family.
The situation with Ron however was more disturbing. After he left the Burrow he seemed to have disappeared. No one, not even Hermione had heard form him. After waiting at their apartment for three days for him to return, Hermione temporarily moved into the Burrow so that Molly could help out with the baby. Though he did not like her in the least, Harry still felt a little pity for her. She had made her dicision about who to side with many years ago and now everything was crashing down around her. She had to apologize to a former friend that she had betrayed only to be rejected. The man she chose to follow blindly like a mindless sychophant was slowly being discredited in the press and was very quickly losing the support structure he had spent over a century building due to information she was sure either Harry, or his supporters, was supplying. Information Dumbledore couldn't deny in any convincing manner. And finally, the school friend she chose over the other, and later married, had disappeared, apparently abandoning her and their son. Despite the slight pity he felt for her, Harry wouldn't have done anything differently, she had made her choices and she would have to live with the consequences, just like everyone else.
A month and a half later, Harry was standing outside the infirmary waiting for someone to come tell him what was going on. The first two times it had been only him, Bella and Tonks, so he was present during the whole time. But this time it was different. They had a proper medical staff and a chief healer, Madam Bliss, that was just as strict as Madam Pomfrey ever was and she refused to let anyone of the opposite sex within the ward. Mr. Weasley watched Harry with amusement from across the room. He had been through he same thing eight times before so he had gotten used to healers peculiarities.
When Ginny went into labor, just a few hours ago, Harry had reluctantly agreed to bring her parents to Azkaban for the birth. He was deeply worried about their reactions to certain people that they would come into contact with. Thankfully, Molly's mind was only focused on one thing and that was getting to her daughter. Both Tonks and Bella were already with Ginny when they arrived so Mr. Weasley had not seen her, but he had yet to hear any curses being thrown on the other side of the door so that was a good sign, he hoped. Fred and George seemed to find his anxiousness amusing as he constantly stood from his chair to pace the length of the corridor several times before starting the cycle all over again.
"God, I was never this nervous with Anna or Catherine. What do healers have against men being there for the delivery anyway? Napoleonic power monger!" Harry muttered to himself in reference to Madam Bliss. Looking across the room he saw that Mr. Weasley seemed to be as calm as ever. "How can you remain so calm?" Harry asked in an annoyed tone as Arthur merely smiled.
"This is my second grandchild Harry, and I had to wait for seven children before that. After all that, a man is forced to learn patience." At the mention of his seven children Harry just had to ask.
"Have you heard anything form Ron yet?" Harry asked with a sigh as he lowered himself down into a chair opposite from the older man. He certainly had no love for the man but his disappearance has hurt Molly greatly. At the mention of their brother's name, the twins turned their attention elsewhere. They no longer thought of him as family and had no desire to hear anything more about him. However Arthur's features immediately darkened. He really did not want to talk about it but he felt that Harry needed to know.
"No, we haven't. He has not even contacted Hermione. For the last few weeks Bill has had the Department of Mysteries keeping an eye on a group of witches and wizards in Bulgaria that are calling themselves The Dragons. They seem to believe that it is their duty to destroy you and those you have under your protection. They say it's for the public good, but they are behaving a great deal like the Death Eaters did. Attacking and killing anyone who speaks out against them, including those in neighboring countries. It's only a matter of time before they branch out even farther, if they haven't already. Bill has reason to believe that Ron has joined this group. He may even be one of its founding members." He explained in a weary voice as he rubbed his face. Harry put his elbows on his knees and just looked at the floor for sometime before speaking.
"I'm sorry, Arthur. I never meant for anything like this to happen."
"I know you didn't. We all do. To be honest with you, I believe Ron had the potential for this for many years now. Maybe even before you were imprisoned. He has always felt that he was in his brothers' shadow. In a way he was but he took that fact harder than most children would and resented anyone that achieved what he could not. Though he held you as a great friend while you were younger he still believed that he was always in your shadow aswell. I think that was why he was so eager to believe you were guilty. Without you there he was in a position to stand in the spotlight himself." Harry just nodded in understanding. There were many times when they were children that Ron's jealousy for him, his brothers or anyone for that matter, made him a very unlikable person, but they had always worked through that. At least that's what he had thought at the time. The silence was broken when a high pitched cry seemed to cut through the air like a knife and Harry immediately jumped to his feet and charged at the door only to find it locked. He spent several moments trying to knock the door down before remembered that he was a wizard and could easily overcome any locking spell. Throwing a sheepish grin at the three men with him, he unlocked the infirmary doors and ran in with Arthur, Fred and George right behind him. He took the fact that Madam Bliss didn't try to intercept them as a good sign and they rushed to the bed that was currently surrounded by squealing women while Anna and Catherine jumped up and down on a nearby bed.
"WE HAVE A SISTER! WE HAVE A SISTER!" The two girls shouted loudly in excitment.
When he reached her bedside, Ginny was red faced and had a layer of sweat coating her body but Harry thought that he had never seen her look more beautiful. Madam Bliss was just handing Ginny the small bundle when he arrived. Molly was standing on one side of the bed with tears streaming down her face while Bella and Tonks were jumping up and down hugging each other like excited teenage girls, much like their daughters were doing right behind them. Getting down on one knee Harry kissed the side of Ginny's head while he stared into the pink face of his sleeping child. He could only smile at the fact that he now had three daughters. While most men would certainly have wanted to have a son after having two girls already, Harry found the idea of yet another little girl running around appealing. Sure, he would love to have a son someday, but it will come in good time.
"What should we call her?" Harry asked quietly.
"Oh, how about Gretchen?" Tonks suggested with excitement. Everyone looked at her blankly. "What? I had a friend named Gretchen and I always thought it was cute." She continued defensively.
"No, they have to stick with the pattern." Bella said as she whacked her niece upside the head.
"Pattern? What pattern?" Harry asked cluelessly, and everyone else looked just as confused causing Bella to huff in annoyance.
"Anna is named for Nymphadora's mother and Catherine is my middle name. So you might as well stick with what works. You have to name her after Ginny or after someone on her side of the family."
"We can make a tradition out of it." Tonks exclaimed happily drawing more curious stares.
"In that case I want to call her Emily. It's Mum's middle name." Ginny decided as she smiled at her mother who once again burst out in tears as she hugged her daughter. Harry took the opportunity to pick up his youngest and he just stared at her in wonder.
"It never gets old, does it?" Harry looked over to see Arthur looking at him knowingly. Harry just smile and shock his head, not trusting his voice to speak as his eyes filled with tears. He was right, Harry didn't think he could ever get tired of this feeling. All his life he had wanted his parents to be with him, to have a real family. However having his three daughters made everything else seem unimportant. All the hardships he had endured in his life had led him to where he was today and he wouldn't trade it away for anything. Not even a happy childhood with his parents without the threat of Voldemort hanging over everyone's head.
Over the next few months Harry stepped up his media blitz against Albus Dumbledore with the aid various news organizations by giving evidence of some of his more questionable actions, including his theft from Nicholas Flamel that eventually resulted in the other man's death. Normally he would get the information to Rita Skitter because she could always be trusted to make sure it was seen in the worst possible light and she would leave his name out of it if he could guarantee her more information later on. And getting these stories as an exclusive was certainly something that she would keep quiet for. Not to mention the small fortune she was making by selling her stories to any interested news organization. Of course Harry also had her under a secrecy charm just in case but she didn't have to know that now did she? To say that the public was disgusted at the conduct and deceptions by one of their most revered figures was a gross understatement.
Of course he tried to deny everything but as Harry always believed, the people were sheep and they were eating it up and believing every word. Of course his popularity was already in decline after everyone found out that he sent 'The-Boy-Who-Lived' to prison wrongfully. Skitter's articles appeared in every major news publication and many were discussed in debates over the wireless. As more proof seemed to surface, Dumbledore became resigned to his fate and lost all fight in him. He had already lost his position as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamont and the Hogwarts Board of Governors was already actively searching for a replacement for the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts.
Unfortunately for Harry, the peaceful life he desired with his family had to be put on hold temporarily. Despite himself, he was saddened to learn that Ron was indeed a member of the group that called themselves the Dragons just as Bill had suspected. They had definitive proof when, six months after he disappeared, Ron had attacked the Burrow with seven other members in an attempt to kidnap his own son. Luckily, they had picked a day that the twins were visiting their mother and they were defeated quite easily, although Ron managed to escape. Not long after that, news got out that the Dragons had taken control of the Durmstrang Institue of Magic and made it their headquarters. After three failed attempts to recapture the school, the Bulgarian Ministry formally asked for international assistance.
Bill was prepared to send every available Auror to aid the Bulgarian Ministry but before he could issue the proper orders Harry had mysteriously appeared in his office and told him to stay out of it and that he would take care of it. When asked what he meant he replied, "These Dragons want to destroy me and my people, I'm simply going to give them the opportunity."
Since this was a fight that would be taking place away from Azkaban, so their lives were not in immediate danger, Harry decided to lay out the situation to them and let the people of Azkaban decide for themselves if they were to fight or not. Not surprisingly, nearly everyone capable agreed to go. After all, they might not be able to attack Azkaban but they were attacking others while trying to rally support against them and their leader, Harry. It was almost unanimously decided that Azkaban would supply the support the Bulgarian Ministry so desperately needed. The only outsiders Harry allowed in was a representative of both the Bulgarian and English governments so that no one could claim that Harry was launching illegal operations in foreign territory to gain more power. After receiving detailed plans to the school they set out for battle once again.
As Harry expected it was more of a minor scuffle than the grand siege the government had believed would take place. Despite the fact that these people wanted him dead, Harry was impressed at the modifications they had applied to the wards protecting Durmstrang. The wards were now well beyond Hogwarts standards and only Azkaban surpassed them in its protection. However this was a moot point, with the help of Bella and Snape Harry shattered the wards in just under half an hour. Using the maps the Bulgarians had provided them, they quickly spread out into their individual strike teams and entered the school from different locations. Whether they didn't notice the wards crashing down around them or they were too shocked by it, wasn't known; after all they had repelled the three previous attacks by the Ministry already. Their ignorance, or shock, proved to be their downfall as they were not prepared for a fight. They seemed fairly confidant when they were attacking defenseless people but they seemed to know nothing of what they were doing when involved in pitched battles with skilled fighters.
Unlike with the Death Eaters, they actually tried to take as many prisoners as possible and used deadly force only when necessary. One such occasion involved Fred and Ron Weasley. The youngest Weasley male obviously had no intention of going quietly and actually sought his brother out. Ron was on the defensive almost the entire time but he refused to give in and attacked with an animalistic rage. As a result he had suffered many grievous wounds before he was finally taken into custody. Unfortunately, for the Weasley family anyway, he would later die from his wounds. When they received the news both Molly and Hermione were naturally almost inconsolable. Harry felt sorry for the two women but he felt a bit guilty at being thankful that it was Fred that had killed Ron and not himself. He was already directly responsible for the death of Percy and he didn't want another Weasley to die at his hands.
Those that had been captured were held in high security holding cells within the Bulgarian Ministry until a new secure facility was built. This new massive prison was built with Harry's aid in the wastelands of northern Siberia and would house the most dangerous magical criminals from around the world.
As a result of their help in retaking Durmstrang, the Bulgarians had agreed to the same terms that Harry had forced Dumbledore to sign. It was not long before he had signed similar agreements with nearly every magical government in the world. Now, every citizen of Azkaban could walk freely throughout the world without fear of prosecution for past crimes. Also, Harry now had the legal right to eliminate any threat to Azkaban's security throughout the world regardless of national borders. In return, the Dementors would stand guard over the new prison facility in Siberia in alternating shifts with Azkaban and, after discussing it with everyone, he also agreed that they would give aid to those that agreed to his terms should any serious threat arise. BUT, they would only get involved if absolutely necessary. He had no intention of putting his people in harms way simply because some weak minister wanted to save the lives of his own people by throwing away the lives of others.
After Ron's death, Hermione gave up her apartment and moved in to the Burrow permanently to make things simpler for when she went back to work and Molly was watching Robert. She got a job with the Department of Mysteries, investigating and researching different magical artifacts. At first Harry was a bit uncomfortable when he visited the Burrow while she was present but soon just settled for ignoring her entirely, never even acknowledging her presence. Hermione was greatly saddened that her relationship with Harry did not improve as time went on but she had resigned herself to the fact that the friendship she had so carelessly thrown away those many years ago was truly gone for good.
Ginny rarely left Azkaban because of the reactions she usually attracted from the wizarding population in England, so Harry gave Molly and Arthur access to the island so that they could visit her and Emily anytime they choose. Naturally, both Anna and Catherine were thrilled to have a new little sister but were a bit disappointed to find that she was so small and couldn't play with them yet. Harry almost had a heart attack one night when Bella decided to announce that she wanted to have another child of her own. He just looked at the woman in fright as he remembered the night she gave birth to Catherine. While it isn't uncommon for a woman to curse while in labor, it is unusual for said woman to 'literally' curse. He still winced every time he thought about that horrible testicle biting hex she had used on him.
Much to everyone's delight, a double wedding had been given for Fred and Katie Bell and George and Angelina Johnson. Like Harry had told Snape once, weddings were a rare thing on Azkaban so it gave them a legitimate reason to have a big party. It seemed that the Weasley family was in a baby boom period when both Katie and Angelina ended up pregnant right after the Wedding and Bill and Fleur Delacour, who have been seeing each other for some time now, were expecting one of their own. Due to Molly's demands after discovering the pregnancy they were now planning a wedding of their own. Besides, as Charlie like to tease him, it is unacceptable for the Minister of Magic to have a 'bastard' child.
Thankfully there had been no further threats serious enough for Harry to get involved. It would seem that the possibility of the fierce fighters of Azkaban descending upon them was enough to keep most people in line. The public outcry against Harry had all but disappeared and he was able to sit back and relax for once without heavy thoughts weighing on his mind and the weight of the world on his shoulders. Bella got what she wanted and soon gave birth to a healthy baby boy whom they named Sirius James after both Sirius and Harry's father, once again sticking with their knew tradition.
Harry was currently sitting in the living room of the family's quarters with a sleeping Sirius held close to him and Catherine asleep next to him with her body wrapped tightly in his free arm. Tonks was sitting before the fire with Anna bouncing around her with an ungodly amount of energy and Ginny and Bella were on the floor playing with Emily who was now almost two years old. Looking around at all of his children Harry thought back to the question Arthur had asked him the day Emily was born.
"No, it never gets old." Harry muttered to himself quietly before leaning his head back and drifting off to sleep himself.