Disclaimer: I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I'm just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This is a sequel to Harry Potter and the Freedom of Apathy. I recommend reading that first as we start just moments after that story ended. Big thank you to MeQ for betaing this.
Harry Potter and the Apathy of Freedom
Tonks strolled into the Order Meeting Hall, a secret room in the third floor corridor of Hogwarts. She was pleased to be able to pass along the good news of Voldemort's defeat to the people who were grieving and scared. She paused at the doorway as she heard voices speaking passionately, then slipped into the shadows of the room and listened. The majority of the Order was there, even though most were healing from injuries sustained during the attack that had claimed the lives of too many of their members: Arthur and Molly Weasley, Minerva McGonagall, Severus Snape, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and the leader and head of the Order of the Phoenix, Albus Dumbledore.
"We're all hurting and feeling the loss." An angry Bill Weasley exclaimed. "My parents are dead! But we cannot give up hope. The Order is more than any one man. Even Albus would agree with that."
A teary-eyed Ron spoke. "We should force Potter to fight him," he spat bitterly. "If he's half as good as some people keep saying then he'd at least hurt the Dark Lord. And if he died, then it'd be one less worry anyway."
"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed. "He was once your friend, you know. And right now, he may be our only hope."
Bill looked around at the assembled people. They looked defeated. "Do we ask Harry to lead the Order of the Phoenix?"
A few people mumbled affirmatives while others didn't seem to care right now. One voice was adamant though.
"What?" Ron exclaimed. "Are you nuts? He'd probably mark us and make us call him 'Master'."
More than a few heads turned towards the insensible redhead.
Ron continued. "No. What we need to do is either find a reason for him to attack the Dark Lord, or find a reason for the Dark Lord to attack Potter. Maybe we could send an official duel challenge to the Dark Lord and sign it from Potter. And then tell Potter that Tonks got kidnapped by the Dark Lord. He seems to care for her."
Tonks had been standing in the shadows listening to this while getting angrier and angrier. "So are you going to stun me and lock me in a cage?" She finally said, revealing her presence. "Or maybe even give me to the Dark Lord to add credence to more of your lies?"
Ron looked somewhere between angry and embarrassed at being caught.
"And out of curiosity, does Harry's free will ever come into any of your plans now? Or has all this Dark Lord talk just gotten you thinking like a puppet master and we're all puppets?" Tonks asked, staring right at Ron.
Ron stood up and stared right back at her. "Albus was too kind and caring. He could have made an effort to end this war through Potter. I'm not as short-sighted as him as to worry over feelings. Ending the war is worth more than the cost of one ex-con's life."
Tonks was appalled. "And so acting less like Albus and more like the Dark Lord is the solution?"
"In case you haven't noticed, the most powerful wizard on our side is gone. Who's going to protect the wizarding world now? And if acting like the Dark Lord is the only thing Potter responds to, then we will do what we have to." Ron rationalized aloud.
Tonks shook her head. "Alright. That plan would never work, but let's say it did. What're you going to do when the Dark Lord is dead, and Harry's pissed at you now? Do you think you would have the strength to stab him in the back?" She smirked at Ron challengingly. "Again?"
"If it's necessary to protect us from Potter I would." Ron growled back. "But I doubt he could beat the Dark Lord anyway."
Tonks looked around to everyone watching them. It appeared the majority was disgusted by Ron's attitude, but more than a few seemed indifferent. "Everyone listen up. As far as I am concerned the Order of the Phoenix died with its leader, Albus Dumbledore."
Several people immediately cried in outrage.
"The Dark Lord is dead!" Tonks yelled. This silenced everyone. "Harry destroyed him less than an hour ago."
There were lots of wide eyes, most with tears in them, staring soundlessly at Tonks.
"He killed the inner circle at the same time. Every marked Death Eater is now at best a blubbering squib. A few of them died at having their magic ripped from them." Tonks paused to let people process this. No one seemed to be speaking up.
"As I see it now, this group carries as much hatred, bitterness, and intolerance as those we had pledged to fight. Our fight is over and this group is no longer needed."
"Not needed?" Ron exclaimed. "Potter's just another Dark Lord taking over. We need to stop him."
"For Merlin's sake, he doesn't want to be your enemy. Right now, everything is being handled at the Ministry. Albus's dying wish was asking Harry to assist in stopping Tom since he knew the Light would be as lost as headless chickens without him. Harry did as requested and is now finalizing everything necessary for Albus's other final wish."
Bill looked past the point of caring but asked, "What was his other final wish?"
Tonks smiled. "Harry has taken over Hogwarts and will be restructuring it as necessary. It will no longer be a school of witchcraft and wizardry. It will be a school of magic."
"What!" A few people exclaimed at that. "The Ministry won't allow that to happen."
"Actually Amos knew it was Albus's request and is assisting him, not that it would be necessary anyway. In times of strife, which is subjective to begin with, the heirs of the founders can reassert control if they feel it's needed or in the school's best interests. The line of Slytherin is gone finally, and Harry is the sole descendent left to both Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. We're not sure if the Ravenclaw lineage is still around, but even if it were, Harry represents two-thirds of any vote, so the point is pretty much moot."
No one seemed to be responding at all. Tonks continued. "It will be an integrated school. And it will also be another Sanctuary for the peaceful coexistence of all magical beings. The curriculum will be changing some, and the staff members will be interviewed to determine both how to best integrate their subject, as well as whether they are fit to hold their positions in the restructured school. Basically if their attitude reflects one that will properly represent the school."
The silence was a bit staggering, and the majority of the current staff were members of the Order anyway.
Filius Flitwick spoke up, slightly concerned for his future. "What do you mean 'integrated'?"
"I mean, for example, classes like History of Magic will be filled with wizards, witches, veela, vampires, house-elves, goblins, or any other intelligent magical being that wishes to learn and can communicate. Obviously, some courses will be specific to only certain magical races. Charms as it is now, would teach a young goblin very little, unless it were goblin magic that was taught."
The tiny Charms professor shook his head. "Oh dear this has been quite a day. Please extend my gratitude to Mr. Potter for his assistance with the Dark Lord and Death Eaters."
"You're thanking him!" Ron yelled. "What on earth are you thanking him for? He should have killed the Dark Lord years ago. Especially since it seemed to be so easy for him."
Filius frowned at Ron. "Contrary to what you may think, I am still grateful for what he did. With the death of Albus I feared all hope was lost, and now the entire shroud of Darkness has been decimated. Motives or timing aside, I doubt we would have lasted till Christmas."
Tonks snapped at Ron, "Tell me, Mr. Weasley. There are warring factions of muggles in the Middle East constantly. Why don't you help any of them?"
Ron replied, "It's not my problem. And I wouldn't know which one to help anyway. And besides wizards aren't supposed to interfere in muggle wars."
"Nor was this Harry's problem. Should he have assisted the people that betrayed him, condemned him to prison as a teenager, and were too prejudiced about their fear of the dark to even recognize their own failings? Clearly, one side's methods were far more objectionable, but does that mean their goals or hopes are automatically less honorable? Both sides truly believed in what they fought for and were willing to die for. And both were convinced they were right and trying to change their world for the better."
"Death Eaters weren't trying to change the world for the better!"
"They thought they were. You don't. Is your opinion worth more than theirs?"
Flitwick winced thinking about how bad things had gotten. "And honestly, from the sound of it, compared to Harry, we're all practically muggles."
Tonks nodded at Flitwick's sentiment. Tonks addressed the entire Order, "I'm leaving. I'm sure there will be more answers soon, but those of you living in the castle might want to consider packing up. I really don't know what's going to happen with Hogwarts, but those of you without permanent homes are welcome to a room in Grimmauld Place until we know more about what's going on. There'll probably be a lot of parties celebrating the end of the war." Tonks' eyes glazed over as she continued. "And memorials too. I'll say what Albus said many times before: Harry is not our enemy. I've seen what happens to someone when Harry decides they are an enemy. He is our hero, no matter how much he wishes he weren't. Goodbye."
Tonks turned and left many silent shocked grieving Order members behind. More than a few eyes were opened. And Ron certainly did not make any new friends.
Filius hurried after the young metamorphmagus. "Tonks! A word, if you have the time?"
"Professor Flitwick. What can I do for you?"
"Oh I just wanted to thank you for offering your home. I've spent the last eight summers in the castle with the war raging. I may need some time to find a new home to buy. And if I must leave the castle I would appreciate taking you up on that. So much has happened today."
"Tell me about it. Although, you may want to wait on your house-hunting, and elect to build on the grounds. Remember Hogwarts is going to be a sanctuary. And I for one am ecstatic to be able to live with so many other races and species."
Professor Flitwick smiled widely. "I hadn't even considered that."
Tonks smiled back. "I crashed at Sanctuary a couple times, and it's amazing. Waking up and hearing phoenix song in the distance is wonderful. I think my magic actually recharges and replenishes stronger and faster just by being there."
"These are exciting times to be in. Do you think he will open Sanctuary to wizards? Or at least allow them to visit?"
Tonks shrugged. "Dunno. Maybe though. I think things will be a lot more public now. And I think the Minister is going to want to keep Harry happy."
"Do you… do you think I'll be able to keep my job?" Filius somewhat timidly asked.
Tonks nodded. "You, I'm pretty sure have no worries. Harry just wants to make sure the instructors are going to treat the house-elves, creatures, and part-humans equally and fairly. As well as be a competent teacher. I think he might have Binns teach History only to young Goblins. And probably have a millennia-old Vampire teach it with some first person perspective to everyone else. I don't know if Hermione is going to have the right mindset for it though. That probably won't go over well."
Professor Flitwick nodded. "From the sound of Mr. Potter, I believe he will treat her impartially. But to put a teacher in charge of students, he must also consider her character. And he is well aware of some of her bad judgments."
The wizarding world rejoiced in the end of their terror. The Dark Lord was gone, as were all the Death Eaters. They cheered and toasted the names of Harry Potter, who did it, and Albus Dumbledore, who gave his life to help make it happen. They were not aware of many of the specifics, nor was there any mention of Harry's motivation for joining the fight when he did. Most probably assumed he had been training in secret with Albus, at the mysterious and rumored Sanctuary.
The Ministry saved the next bombshell for tomorrow's edition of The Daily Prophet.
The Daily Prophet
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry officially closed!
Restructured, HogwartsSchool of Magic to open September 1st!
As per the last wishes of Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter has invoked his rights as the heir of two of the founders to take complete control over Hogwarts. The Ministry of Magic is aiding him in his efforts in changing and preparing the grounds for the future, as well as assisting him in any way they can. It will no longer be simply a school for young wizards and witches. It will now be a school of magic for all intelligent magical beings and creatures. House elves, goblins, veela, and vampires, among others, will be learning about their magic in classrooms alongside wizards and witches.
General classes, such as Potions, History of Magic, and Introduction to Magical Creatures will be offered to all races and species. Magic courses more specific to race will, naturally, be offered to those who can use such magics. Those unable to practice specific forms of magic are free to learn the theory in the same classes even if the practical portions are impossible.
Introduction to Magical Creatures will be far more comprehensive and informative with so many more creatures participating and answering questions. The name change from Care of Magical Creatures was made to indicate the equality with which creatures and wizards will be treated, and there will be a section of the course discussing wizards and witches as magical creatures.
The current staff will all be evaluated for the courses they teach, how to best institute the new curriculum, in addition to the competency of the instructors. There are many worries about how well wizards and witches will receive the idea of creatures and other beings as equals. The new school is hoping to encourage and spread fair treatment and equality for all, including wizards and witches.
Harry Potter wanted to assure parents of current Hogwarts students, "There won't be vampires feeding on unwilling children, or veela using their powers to coerce other students. But for vampires, there would be instruction on how to properly feed, how to find willing subjects offering their blood, how to ensure you're not hurting or turning someone when feeding. And the same thing with veela, they would be taught about their powers and how to control them, and prevent them from getting out of control. And hopefully the wizards and witches will be able to observe and understand the other races better. This is a necessary step towards peaceful coexistence for all magical beings."
Mr. Potter is well aware some of these ideas and ideals are too radical for a great many traditionalists, and knows there will be parents pulling their children out from Hogwarts. He will assist in any transfers and speaks highly of both Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, as the other two premiere schools in Europe
"We will lose some wizards and witches I expect. Too many people have simply ingrained in their very existence the idea that a house-elf is less important than a wizard. Not to mention inordinate fears of other creatures and races. This shift in understanding and appreciation of coexistence is not an instantaneous process. I think the most likely rewards will be visible once this first generation of the new Hogwarts School of Magic's students is sending off their own children to Hogwarts. If you've grown up all your life believing goblins are beneath you, then that's not exactly an opinion you're likely to change overnight. It's really not all that different from being raised to believe having purer blood makes you worth more."
The other monumental change to Hogwarts will be its conversion into another sanctuary. The first sanctuary, simply referred to as Sanctuary, was created immediately upon Mr. Potter's release from prison. He, with the assistance of many other magical races and creatures, created a new home and safe haven to the beings he considered oppressed by wizarding society. Focusing, in particular, on those most affected by the war between the Dark and the Light. In short form, Hogwarts will serve as a new home and source of protection to any magical beings seeking refuge. Both Hogwarts and Sanctuary will exist outside of the Ministry's control, and will function as independently governed institutions. For a more an in-depth report on Sanctuary and what Hogwarts is going to become, see the article on page two.
Some may feel the history and greatness of Hogwarts is being tainted by these changes and Mr. Potter was willing to address these issues. "This idea came from the mind of Albus Dumbledore. I am lucky enough to have a family heirloom that is a wizarding portrait of Godric Gryffindor and Helga Hufflepuff. They are both highly in favor of this idea and have been encouraging me the whole way. Albus assured me he discussed it with all of the previous headmasters' portraits in his office and they were supportive of it as well. We're still figuring out the details and expect to be ready to open on September the first as usual. The Hogwarts Express will run as it always has. There will still be the same four houses and four dormitories. We just may find a far more eclectic group of bright young minds coming here to learn. Not much is definite yet, but I expect I will live on the grounds to organize and make this transition as smooth as possible. That will likely include serving as the school's Headmaster, unless I can find a more worthy and experienced candidate. The people involved seem to think it is a foregone conclusion that I should be the new Headmaster, but not even that is definite."
These are, without a doubt, the most significant changes to the most acclaimed school of the past thousand years. We can all hope they are changes for the better but only time will be able to tell. Convinced or not, with everything the wizarding world has done to Harry Potter over the years, and in response everything Harry Potter has done for the wizarding world over the years, and in particular two days ago, it feels like we all at least owe him an open mind to these changes.
Sanctuary: The Truth about What It Is.
Rumors have been floating around for a couple of years now about the mysterious Sanctuary. Well it's time to put some of those rumors to rest and to learn the real truth about it from its unofficial ambassadors: Harry Potter and his griffin brother, Archimedes. Yes, that is correct, Mr. Potter has a magical brother, a griffin that can communicate intelligently and in a variety of languages, when he shifts his body into a part-human.
"Sanctuary is a refuge away from intolerance and bigotry for those that previously were unable to oppose their oppression. The Ministry's laws on, for example, werewolves, are simply archaic and completely unfair. Lycanthropy is a disease or a curse that directly affects a person maybe five percent of the time. We should be helping people in need, and treating the disease, not condemning a sick, innocent person. So we made Sanctuary a place where beings in need could be treated fairly and equally. And provide safety from a war that was between wizards, not vampires or giants," explained Harry Potter.
Archimedes continued, "Creatures you would call 'dark' and creatures you would call 'light' understand their place in existence. They may have fought on occasion but for the most part have since recognized and tolerated each other. This is a lesson that wizards and witches are still learning. Fighting and wars do happen and all too often. There's only hope that when the battles are over, both sides have learned something, so that they won't resort to fighting again."
Sanctuary, as it turns out, is an entire island featuring an incredible assortment of creatures and races coexisting peacefully with a common goal of a safe stable home. It is not under the jurisdiction of any nation, as the land was never discovered or claimed by any nation. It should come as a shocking discovery to learn that the island of Sanctuary is actually the island of Atlantis, having risen from the depths of the oceans. Mr. Potter explained that he has evidence indicating that this was Merlin's Avalon and it was Merlin who raised it from the depths of the ocean floor.
With Hogwarts transition into becoming a second sanctuary, Mr. Potter is going to leave his brother, Archimedes, in charge of Sanctuary. "I need to dedicate my full attention to Hogwarts and getting both the grounds and division somewhat organized, as well as ensuring the school will be ready to open. Archimedes says what we do is more like an apartment manager than it is ruling or lording over others."
Archimedes added, "You might even say we're more like den mothers. Someone to go to when you have a problem, and someone to answer the myriad of questions no doubt others will have."
Mr. Potter was asked to explain his motivation and responded, "It primarily starts with my imprisonment. I completely disagreed with it and think it was an abhorrent miscarriage of justice. But the more I looked at wizards and witches the more I became disappointed in them. Disappointed in the way others were being mistreated and becoming bystanders to a war they had nothing to do with. So the idea of creating Sanctuary came to me when I saw this island in the mind of my other brother, Fawkes (the phoenix companion of Albus Dumbledore).
"Since then all of my actions have been from the stance of a representative of Sanctuary, a being hoping for equality and tolerance. This is how I get along so well with Minister Diggory. Because I am a representative for my beliefs speaking to the equivalent of a leader to a race wanting to know how they can help Sanctuary and or become a part of it. Not because I am a representative of the wizards and witches who have been oppressing others all these years, because at this moment I'm still not proud of us as a race. And that's why I'm trying to improve us too, so that one day I will be proud of wizards and witches."
Archimedes agreed and added, "Something tells me if there were more wizards like my brother we would have solved these problems a long time ago."
There was surprisingly little reaction to the articles. A few staunch traditionalists were appalled but it was only a small minority of primarily the oldest pureblood families. Many people thought the idea sounded fine, but doubted it would be able to work. They agreed the oppression needed to stop, while their house-elves still did their cooking and cleaning. Quite a few didn't grasp just how different things were going to be, and knew popular opinion was to hail your hero, and voiced aloud their agreements. But the majority of the wizarding public reacted with indifference. They were celebrating the end of the Dark Lord, and since they were done with schooling, then it wouldn't affect them greatly. Their children would have to deal with a few odd classmates, but they assumed their lives would be relatively unaffected.
Hermione Weasley read that morning's Prophet and had tears running down her face. She began to think of her former friend, Harry, and just what he had been through. How he had persevered and what he had accomplished. She, for the first time, felt like she was one of the bad guys.
"Oh Ron! What are we going to do? How can we get him to forgive us?" Hermione exclaimed.
Ron scowled at his wife. "You want his forgiveness? After leaving us alone to die at Voldemort's hand? He could have saved all of us at any time!"
"So what? So it sounds like he could have. He was waiting for us to give him a reason. We put him in prison with a decade of torture. He had no reason to save us. Oh God." Hermione finished with a sense of dawning horror. She whispered out, "He really had no reason to save us."
"If you have the ability to do something good, and choose not to, then it's as bad as doing something bad to someone."
Hermione frowned back. "That's just it though. Saving us, to him, wouldn't be good. And saving Death Eaters, to him, wouldn't be good either. So he was doing the only good thing he could, and that was saving everything else."
Hermione paused thinking. "Face it Ron, we screwed up. We made a horrible mistake with him and now we have to try and make it up to him."
"No! We don't! You said it yourself, 'Saving us, to him, wouldn't be good.' Well it became good and he did it, but he could just as easily change his mind about that, and decide that destroying us would be good. He is too powerful and needs to be contained or exterminated before he turns on us again."
"Ronald Bilius Weasley! In case you missed the bulletin, he is a good man! And no matter how idiotic and moronic you are being, I am still going to try and get his forgiveness. And if you were half the man I thought you were, you would want to get it as well."
Ron frowned harshly. "What if I forbid you from seeing or talking to him?"
Hermione laughed dangerously and smiled wickedly. "Oh Ron. Seeing you try to wear the pants in our relationship is cute but you're only lying to yourself. Now I will earn Harry's forgiveness, though I will not force you to do the same. But I will not allow you to talk about him like a rabid beast you want to see put down. The Ronald Weasley I fell in love with once had a best friend in Harry Potter. It'd be nice to have a piece of him back. Especially now, with the war over, I'm going to stop taking the birth control potion."
Ron, a married man for several years actually blushed at his wife's response. She belittled him, insulted him, and then reminded him that they regularly have sex. Witches are just plain wicked.
Nymphadora Tonks was ecstatic that she was going to be Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts, second in command only to Headmaster Harry Potter. She hadn't even considered that she would be working here. But when it came to the races and species responsible for insuring someone acceptable in the position, the wizarding world would want a wizard or a witch, and there's a pretty small list of candidates with Harry's approval.
It was only two weeks ago that Harry destroyed the Dark Lord. And now she sat, next to Harry, Marcellus, Griphook, Dobby, and Archimedes, interviewing Hogwarts staff for their own job. The six of them sat at a table obviously for seven, planning on filling the final seat shortly. The first interview just arrived, right on time.
"Professor Flitwick," Harry said jovially, "Please, come in. Have a seat."
Filius Flitwick walked in nervously and looked at Tonks with an inquiring face. Tonks smiled brightly at him.
Harry saw Tonks flash a smile at Professor Flitwick, who then seemed to relax and smile back. When Professor Flitwick realized he'd been spotted by Harry, he gained back that nervous appearance. Harry chuckled a little and waved his hand. "Please, sir, don't look so nervous. This is primarily just a formality."
Professor Flitwick settled himself into a surprisingly comfortable chair. And looked at Harry expectantly.
"Ah. Quick introductions for you, Professor. You know Tonks and myself, to my left is Marcellus, next to him is Griphook. That's Dobby, who you may have met, and at the end is my brother Archimedes. We're a panel at the moment, making our way up to a council, who will represent some of the different species' voices in the governing of Hogwarts. Sort of like the Board of Governors used to be, if each Governor represented a race. I am the official Headmaster for the school, though I'm not sure how much the conversion of areas of the grounds into a sanctuary is going to require my attention.
"It was agreed that for the sake of wizards and witches, I should have a wizard or witch as Deputy Headmaster. The most acceptable to the other races and trusted in my opinion is Miss Tonks. She is the Deputy Headmistress. She may end up with more official school duties than Professor McGonagall had, because Hogwarts is becoming so much more than a school. I wanted to explain this to you, so you would understand my reasons for her position. As the most senior member of the faculty, and one of the only two Heads of House, you would have been the only other logical candidate."
Professor Flitwick nodded. "I understand perfectly, Mr. Potter."
"Excellent. And you have no prejudices against any other races or irrational fears that would hamper your ability to teach other species?"
"Of course not," he responded defiantly.
"Is there anything that we should be aware of before voting?"
"Nothing will hinder me from teaching everyone fairly." Professor Flitwick said with his head held high.
"I agree Professor Flitwick." Harry said and then looked at all the others on his left and Tonks on his right. "Is there anyone against Professor Flitwick?"
Everyone shook their head and were watching Harry.
"Excellent. Congratulations Professor Flitwick we would love to have you continue in your current capacity at Hogwarts. Are you willing to continue in your role of Head of Ravenclaw House?"
"And would you like to join our panel on its way to being a council?"
Flitwick was not expecting that. His eyebrows rose a bit while Harry continued on his sales pitch. "We would really like a familiar face for the other interviewees, and someone representing the previous Hogwarts contingent having a voice in the shaping of Hogwarts' future."
Flitwick narrowed his eyes a bit. "That's why you had my interview first. That's surprisingly Slytherin of you, Mr. Potter. Am I to assume I start immediately, and that empty chair next to Tonks is for me?"
Harry chuckled. "Yes Professor, if you don't mind."
Professor Flitwick sat down excitedly. His day was turning out far better than he expected. "So tell me, Mr. Potter. Have you had any thoughts on a new Head of Slytherin House?"
Harry was organizing some papers in front of him and looking down he responded, "I was actually thinking of having a basilisk be the new head of house."
Dobby eeped out loud.
Marcellus barked a laugh that turned into a cough.
Griphook barely moved other than one of his eyebrows that slowly floated upward.
Archimedes looked thoughtful and was nodding his head at the suggestion.
Tonks was drinking water and had some of it painfully come out her nose after a swallowing mishap.
Flitwick just went pale and stuttered out, "yo- you're s-serious?"
Harry turned to Archimedes and asked, "Do I really seem crazy enough to do something like that?"
Archimedes finally lost it and started laughing out loud. "Apparently so."
"Oh lord," a now laughing Harry Potter responded. "It's another cursed Hogwarts position! The Headmaster must be barmy!"
When it seemed no one was really responding to the laughing man, he yelled, "For the love of Merlin I was joking. A basilisk head of house. You people are nuts."
Everyone relaxed and was chuckling a bit now. Harry added, "To truthfully answer your question, I haven't given it a lot of thought, but one idea was Marcellus here." Harry shrugged. "After Snape, a vampire can't really be all that different. And he's going to be teaching one of the main History of Magic courses."
Marcellus raised an eyebrow. "I didn't know you were going to stick me in charge of my own wing of the insane asylum."
"See? He's got the pleasant Slytherin demeanor down pat. Like I said, I haven't given it that much thought. But with two Head of House positions needing to be filled , I was hoping to have at least one part-human or non-human. And I figured werewolf, vampire, veela, and banshee were the closest to human that would be initially acceptable."
Marcellus just shrugged in response. He figured being a Head of House might be kind of fun.
Harry winced a bit. "Am I trying too hard to be diplomatic about everything?"
Archimedes chirped back at him. "Oh don't worry, Harry. Just be as diplomatic as you can until they completely break your spirit. I give you about three weeks."
"I won't even last until the students arrive?" Harry asked.
Archimedes avoided the question and pointed out they should call in the next interview. Professor Sprout was quite happy to continue on as Head of Hufflepuff House, and was looking forward to teaching all sorts of races and species Herbology. There were very few restrictions on specific forms of magic for her course.
Professor Trelawney was one of the first judgment calls. They were planning on introducing more variety to the course, with centaurs and goblins divination skills and abilities, but they also wished to still teach wizard forms of divination. She was not a very popular teacher, but there were students who rated her quite highly and they voted 5-2 in favor of keeping her on the staff. The panel was overall quite pleased to find almost all the teachers were quite open-minded and genuinely looking forward to changes at Hogwarts. This was no doubt due to the sorts of people Albus liked to surround himself with.
They were down to their last interview and the one most of them were looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Professor Hermione Weasley had taken over teaching Transfiguration while McGonagall focused on many of the administrative tasks, as Dumbledore was frequently called away to help fight back the Dark Lord. Professor Weasley was a fair instructor, not the most popular one, but instructed students with efficiency. She could easily be a valuable asset to the school, but if her attitude in general, or even towards Harry, was distractive then she could just as easily be a liability. That said there were a few people on the panel that were particularly protective of Harry, and had some strong issues with her character.
Hermione walked in and stood next to the chair in front of the panel. Before even being addressed she spoke. "First off, Harry, I would like to apologize to you. There are no words to express the remorse I feel, and I only hope my future actions will earn me forgiveness."
Professor Flitwick actually winced, while nobody else's face smiled or responded properly in the slightest.
Harry neither smiled nor frowned, though he was gazing intently at Hermione. After a brief pause he calmly replied, "Noted. Please have a seat."
Hermione was a little disappointed in how coldly Harry treated her, but was expecting it. She settled herself comfortably and looked at the panel of people apparently judging if she could keep her job.
Harry began, "Professor Weasley, you wish to continue teaching wizarding transfiguration, including the classes Professor McGonagall previously taught?"
Hermione nodded professionally.
"And do you feel you would be able to treat all students of Hogwarts fairly no matter what race or species they may be?"
Hermione was nodding but frowned and said, "Harry, Filius, Tonks. I would have thought you would know me better than this."
"Oh excuse me, Professor Weasley. I seem to have skipped an important step here. Introductions. You know Professor Flitwick, Tonks, and me. This is Marcellus. Next to him is Griphook. And then you know Dobby, and that is my brother Archimedes at the end. I am the Headmaster, and Tonks is my Deputy Headmistress. Both us may or may not teach as the conversion of the grounds into a sanctuary may take a lot of my time and Tonks may handle a fair amount of the administrative stuff." Harry explained and pointed out to Hermione. "Now my question for you is this: Will you be able to accept Tonks and myself as your direct superiors here at Hogwarts?"
Hermione hadn't ever considered Tonks would be her boss. She expected Harry would be, but she felt a bit insulted that Tonks was going to be dictating her career. "Of course I can. I'll admit Tonks position is a surprise, but a welcome one."
Harry began chewing on his lip. He could read the emotions on Hermione's face. And he saw flickers of disgust and jealousy when he mentioned Tonks. And he didn't particularly want Hermione around begging forgiveness and trying to act like how things were when they were children. "I am worried Professor Weasley, that our personal history may become a distraction. These first few years of development of both Hogwarts School of Magic as a school, and a sanctuary, are going to be the most volatile. Particularly in determining how well the wizarding world will accept the ideas of equality and tolerance. I do not wish for either you or myself to be setting any bad examples. Our pre-interview assessment was that you were extremely intelligent and an above average instructor, but some of us had worries over your character."
Hermione was a bit shocked at this. It felt like Harry was trying to make this personal. And searching for an excuse to fire her, or not hire her depending on how you want to define it. "I would be happy to answer any questions you have about my character."
Harry looked over at his colleagues and began. "Thank you, Professor Weasley. I'll begin by mentioning, the first major piece of legislature I've got the Minister helping to try and pass is about house-elves. We are working on beginning with reeducation programs, as well as regulation. It will impose strict laws on abuse, and is only a first step in their plight. This is a rather complicated issue and your past history reflects poorly on you here."
Griphook looked at a page of his notes and read aloud. "The Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare. Or better known informally as spew."
Marcellus got going. "What were you thinking intentionally naming that after vomit? I mean at the very least you could have just said 'Elvish Welfare Promotion Society' and called it 'ewps'."
Hermione blushed a bit and frowned. "I underestimated the juvenileness of teenagers. I apologize if my old acronym bothered you."
Griphook replied. "Yes Marcellus, you're running off on tangents again. The issue is how Professor Weasley was abusing the house-elves."
"I never abused them! I was trying to help them." Hermione defended.
Harry frowned. "Professor Weasley, your campaign of clothing was horribly unfair and dangerous. It would be the same as going to the zoo, and not only opening random animal's cages, but leading them into the heart of the city and leaving them to their own devices."
Hermione didn't like that comparison one bit. "They're not animals."
Griphook replied, "They are intelligent creatures. But not many of them would even be able to take care of themselves on their own. They have barely an infant's introduction to a great many aspects of the way the world works. Not to mention, the number one thing house-elves are raised to take pride in is loyalty. You were trying to trick them into freedom and forcing it onto the unwilling. Not to mention the Hogwarts elves are extremely well taken care of. They are a valued and useful asset to the school, not slaves to a master. Had any of them accidentally been freed they would have felt crushed and like a failure as though they were not worthy of loyalty."
Hermione remained silent, unsure how to respond.
Harry added in looking down towards his house-elf friend. "Not to mention the strain you put on Dobby. When you were knitting clothes and leaving them around, all of the other elves refused to clean out of fear. So for that time, Dobby had to clean all of Gryffindor tower all by himself. You deserve an award for that by the way, Dobby. That was impressive."
Hermione felt ashamed now. She had always known she was a bit misguided but she hadn't realized how poorly she had acted.
Dobby smiled at Harry. "I got my award. More nice warm hats and other clothes than I knew what to do with."
Hermione smiled. "I'm glad you liked them. And I am sorry, Dobby, that was horribly unfair of me. I made a mistake, and only now realize how bad a mistake it was. I understand the house-elf population may dislike me and will treat them in any way you ask me too. Whether you want me to issue a public apology, or to completely ignore them, just tell me. And I'm not trying to defend my actions nor to pass the blame that I deserve, but I would like to point out I was not the only member of S.P.E.W."
Harry raised a surprised eyebrow. He saw his brother smirk at him and sighed.
"That is an excellent point. Headmaster, care to comment?" Archimedes asked.
"I accept that I shoulder some of the blame in my ignorance to understand about house-elves. I also am at fault because I learned of Dobby's significant duties, and since he seemed so happy, and I didn't want to hurt my friend Hermione Granger's feelings, I neglected to talk to her. But my standing is not in question here and I have already addressed a significant portion of the British house-elf population."
Hermione looked a bit wistful. "That was kind of you, Harry. But it is Weasley now, don't forget."
Harry tilted his head a bit and said, "The last time she was my friend she was named Granger." He shrugged and looked over at the other panel members.
Hermione felt as if she had been struck.
Harry asked the rest of the panel members. "Does anyone have anything else they want to ask before we vote?"
They all shook their heads, though some of them were looking at Hermione a bit hostilely.
"Professor Weasley, do you have anything you would like to add or ask us before we vote?"
She took a deep breath. "Thank you Headmaster. I know my long-windedness is an annoyance so I will try to keep this brief. I would like to continue to teach here. I am a good instructor, and I have every intention of treating anyone and everyone equally. I would like to think I am fairly open-minded and essentially free from prejudice. I apologize on behalf of my failings with house-elves, but even in that instance my intentions were pure, just my methods were abhorrent and moronic. I will make it no secret, Headmaster, Harry, I do wish for your forgiveness. But if you would prefer I have as little contact with you as possible and it means we can work together as colleagues, I will do so. Both for my own benefit to my job, and because it is something you're asking of me. And lastly, I would like to thank all of you for your consideration today." She finished looking each of them in the eye and sat down.
Harry grimaced and started. "Voting time. Tonks?"
"Against. These are volatile times, and subconscious or not, I think she was surprised someone as 'unrefined' as me could be her boss."
"For. She's been a colleague of mine and an asset to this school."
"Against. I fear there is too much history between you and my brother. And it shouldn't surprise you that I would choose my brother over the unknown."
"For. I know what she did and was doing, but back then there were only ever two people who treated Dobby like he counted and he was somebody. Harry and Professor Weasley."
"Against. I think if we want to be honest for the house-elf reeducation we shouldn't be forcing their children to be taught by someone who inadvertently or not, terrorized them."
"For. If only for the reason to make you choose, Harry." Marcellus said with a smile.
"Thank you, Marcellus. You're all heart." Harry responded with a sigh. Harry was obviously thinking and observing Hermione. She was obviously worried and trying to remain professional. It seemed she was wavering between smiling slightly or not. Finally Harry continued. "For. But I'd like it under the proviso that she is on a sort of unofficial probation. Dobby I would like you to determine how the general populace of house-elves feels about this. If they want her to apologize or to leave them alone. In the interim, your classes will more than likely be exclusively wizarding transfiguration. I understand you are an animagus, and could potentially teach many races the various wandless 'shifting' abilities. More than likely you won't be teaching house-elves any time soon. Is this acceptable, Professor Weasley?"
Hermione nodded meekly. When it came down to Harry, she was sure she'd lost her job. This was a lot more than she had expected.
"Now, Professor Weasley. I do not wish you to fear me or to avoid me. If you have a problem, I would hope you would bring it to me. I am the school's Headmaster, and you are a valued member of the faculty. I have every intention of treating you with common professional courtesy that I would any other member of the faculty. But you are correct in that I do not wish our relationship to extend beyond that. Are we clear?"
Hermione made no effort to hide the disappointment on her face. She nodded sadly. "Yes. We're clear."
Harry smiled. "Excellent, Professor Weasley. Congratulations and welcome aboard to the Hogwarts School of Magic faculty. For now, expect to teach wizards and witches transfiguration as you always have. We would like you back in the school a full week before students arrive, as we will have an awful lot of changes to inform and explain to all current and new staff members. Good day, Hermione."
"Thank you, Harry. Goodbye." A slightly dejected Hermione Weasley left the panel alone.
As soon as she closed the door behind her, there were a number of simultaneous sighs let out.
Archimedes added. "You're going to have plenty of headaches, my brother. Don't be masochistic just because you wish to appear impartial. I think everyone knows without you, there would be no changes or advancement in Hogwarts. If Professor Weasley becomes too trying, either on her own, or perhaps with her friends and family, then don't be surprised to hear about it from everyone around you." He finished with a smile.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Don't worry, Archie. To be completely blunt, I doubt I'm even physically capable of caring about her enough for it to even affect me. It's not a matter of like or dislike, just a significant lack of respect. And Dobby, please find out if the majority of house-elves are as forgiving as they are hyper. Character issues aside, she is a leading candidate for the Head of Gryffindor House. But, if there's any house-elves at all bothered by her, I won't put them or her in that position."
Professor Flitwick was surprised to hear that. He too immediately thought of her to replace Professor McGonagall, but after that interrogation he figured she had a snowball's chance in hell.
Harry noticed and laughed. "Don't look so surprised, Professor Flitwick. We're not the evil Gestapo of tolerance here. Half of the point of the interviews was to insure the faculty recognized us as the people to turn to for help, and the ones responsible for making the biggest decisions. Surely, you noticed no one in fact was even let go?"
"Sorry Headmaster. I think a part of me just counted the staff extremely lucky."
"Please call me Harry."
"Alright Harry, then I ask that you call me Filius."
"Delighted to, Filius. Tell me, do you have a lot of plans this summer, or would you be available to provide us with an exorbitant amount of assistance?"
"I'm here to help, Harry."
"Wonderful. Because I would like myself and Tonks to appear as comfortable and in control as possible, and we will no doubt have questions that you may be able to answer for us."
"Will I get to see Sanctuary?"
"Certainly! We can go there now and give you a tour. As well as have a few conversations about Hogwarts. Archimedes, would you care to join us?"
Archimedes responded by walking over and cuffing Harry on the head. "Don't think I forgot you called me 'Archie' a moment ago. And I'd be delighted."
The panel dissolved and they all went off to their own duties. Harry was questioning Tonks, Filius, and Archimedes about the positives and negatives to installing portals to Hogwarts ground's sanctuary as well as to Sanctuary within each house's common rooms.
The wizarding world continued on celebrating the end of the war. The general populace still sang the praises of Harry Potter though there was a significant backlash towards some of the changes he was implementing. Many politicians agreed with the motions he was using his fame to push through, until it became their turn to give up and relinquish their slaves to have them evaluated and allowing them all to choose on how the house-elf wanted to continue.
Dobby and many of the elves from Sanctuary were doing their part to explain freedom, and how it wasn't wrong or disloyal in mandatory reeducation seminars. All elves were evaluated for abuse and given the option of finding new homes and potential masters, becoming free, or even continuing in their current capacity either paid or unpaid. House elves were allowed to freely accept master-servant bonds, but they were unable to bind their families or anyone other than themselves. Freedom and payment were highly encouraged but by no means mandatory. If the elf was happy where they were, treated fairly and wanted to continue they were free to do so as well. They were no longer possessions or a tradable commodity.
A few elves even took some initiative and opened up a restaurant and bar called The Frelves. Apparently they decided 'Free Elves' was too many syllables. It catered to both segregated elves in an elf-only section, as well as a public area for serving wizards, witches, goblins, elves or anything that came in wanting a drink. Harry making an appearance to congratulate the elves certainly helped improve their business. A number of the older wizards thought the establishment was ludicrous and a joke, while their children and a number of more open-minded people raved about the service and the quality of the food and drink. It was a hit, and a great step forward in Harry's mind. He was slightly worried it would be a very public target for the people opposing the unofficial 'movement of tolerance', but apparently Harry's wrath was something no one thought it to be a good idea to incite.
Harry was extremely busy settling areas on the Hogwarts grounds, as the sanctuary there was taking off. Harry was quite pleased when the first few wizards and witches began moving in and they all were extremely helpful and kind to their neighbors and other races. Those first few wizards and witches, including Professor Flitwick, were well-known for being exceptionally helpful and fair. They were about a week away from school starting and they'd all been working like crazy getting the curriculums planned and laid out. They realized they would need to be very flexible as the integration became accepted. Areas of study or magics certain species and races would learn at what ages were all general outlines that only experience could clarify.
Harry took Tonks to The Frelves in Hogsmeade to celebrate all the work they had been getting done. Harry had really been enjoying Tonks' company and he had come to depend on her an awful lot as he was being spread so thin in so many directions. He was still deep down, a relatively oblivious male, but even he could tell Tonks had feelings stronger than friendship for him. He certainly remembered the meddling old fool's post script on his last letter. He realized Albus had been giving some pretty good advice lately and knew he was going to do this at some point. He just kept putting it off for so long, as he was holding out hope that his feelings would change.
After a lull in their dinner conversation about work, Harry sort of blurted out, "Tonks, you know I like you, right?"
Tonks attention became focused. She smiled lightly and said, "I was kind of hoping so. It makes all the time you spend around me make more sense."
Harry bristled a bit and clarified, "I'm referring to relationships extending beyond simple friendship."
Tonks felt anxiety flood her body. "You make it sound so businesslike, Harry. If you want to snog me you only have to ask."
Harry paled a bit at her bluntness. He thought her suggestion sounded wonderful and terrifying at the same time. "Err… yeah. Sorry for the tone. This isn't exactly comfortable territory for me."
Tonks smiled. "Relax Harry. In case you really are the most oblivious person in the world, I like you too, Harry. A lot. And I know the world has messed with you too many times and you may feel like you're still adjusting so I've been doing my damnedest to not bother you or pressure you about it. I got the feeling you liked me too, and your blurting it out a second ago gave me a bit of reassurance there. I truly cannot imagine how your life is and how you are the person you are, but in case you hadn't noticed, I am willing to wait for you to be a bit more comfortable in the territory." She maintained eye contact so that Harry could see the depth of her convictions.
Harry couldn't miss the intensity in Tonks' eyes. His resolve was strengthening. "Thank you. I guess I'm bringing it up because I want to be more comfortable in the whole… umm, you know… all that crap about emotions and stuff."
Tonks just laughed and smiled at Harry's attempt. "I'm here to help you, Harry. And it sounds like you could use the help. So have we established that we like each other?"
Harry was a bit irritated. Not so much at Tonks, as at the fact that Tonks was right. He hated needing help from anyone. Harry frowned and grumbled, "I suppose. Though, I'm beginning to wonder if that's subject to change."
"Oh pish with your grumbling. You know you like me. You even admitted it in public just now. That's a big step for you. The question is are you ready for the next step?"
"What's the next step?" a curious Harry asked.
"We go on a date."
Harry looked thoughtful. "Would that be very different from this dinner?"
Tonks' ire rose a bit. "Of course it would. I would be aware of the fact that we were on a date for one. I would be dressed nicer, smiling a lot more probably, and usually I like to bump up the twins a cup size or two for a first date."
"Really?" Harry goggled.
"You don't want me to?" a smirking Tonks asked.
Harry considered the idea and shrugged with a smirk back at her. "Mmm, you do what you want."
Tonks' smirk got predatory. "I'll try my best to, that's for sure."
Harry's eyes widened reconsidering his choice of words. "Actually before we get too far, there's something I wanted to talk to you about."
Tonks face quickly turned into a meeker serious expression.
"I wanted to make sure you understand that I want to get these projects going for a while before I even consider starting a family. Because frankly, as the world is now, I'm not sure I want to bring my child into it. I'd like to fix the world a bit first."
Tonks wasn't sure how to react. She thought Harry was jumping all kinds of guns here.
"I'm not saying I will never have kids," Harry added quickly, "but if you were wanting a family you should know for me that's not going to be an option for at least a few decades. I was going to say fifty years, but that's not fair to you, but it won't be for at least twenty. I want to see if the next generations are becoming more open and tolerant."
"Okay, Harry? That help you needed? Discussing the children and fifty years into the future is a topic for a time after a great many dates. Not the sort of thing you mention before the first date. We're not getting married or engaged or anything warranting issues like this. I appreciate you telling me, and reserve the right to try and change your mind. But in case you didn't know, had I been anyone else, there is a very good chance I would have gone running for the hills after a declaration like that."
Harry felt sufficiently scorned. "Alright. Geez. Maybe that was my way of ensuring you would be willing to accept my social retardation. Or maybe I just wanted to watch your bum as you ran for the hills."
"Playful flirting! Ten points to Gryffindor, Mr. Potter." The Deputy Headmistress stated.
Harry reluctantly blushed a bit. "I suppose I should ensure the laws allow fraternization among the staff."
"Okay, umm 'fraternization' sounds like dirty talk to Percy."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Should I ask how you're familiar with Percy's dirty talking habits?"
Tonks gagged a bit and frowned at Harry. "Okay, let's go if you're going to try and make me ill."
The couple decided to walk back through the Forbidden Forest. Harry conjured a series of floating lights illuminating a path for them. Harry broke the silence of their walking and asked, "Do you think we're making a mistake complicating our lives? We've already got so much we rely on each other for. I don't want to lose what we have."
Tonks turned to Harry and asked, "You said you like me and I like you, right?"
Tonks looked forward and continued. "Then we'd be making a mistake if we didn't see where that took us. The only mistake is potentially if this is the right time. I've been ready and waiting for you for a while now Harry. And I'm willing to wait more. Maybe not forever, but I'll wait for you."
Harry smiled and looked forward as they walked too. "I think I'm ready to see where a first date takes us then. I don't know if this should count as a date, but our schedules are going to be hectic. And I would like to have lunch with you tomorrow after the morning's meeting with Hogwarts' staff."
Tonks smiled. "I'd like that."
"So is this going to be labeled our official first date?"
Tonks laughed. "You know Harry, the more I think about it, the more I doubt we're going to be able to have things labeled properly. You just break too many rules."
Harry frowned. "Yeah, I do." He leaned into her and put his arm around her in a very friendly gesture.
Tonks leaned into him and wrapped her arm around his waist. She had no idea if these were romantic gestures or simply the welcome companionship of her best friend. 'Oh well' she thought to herself. 'When it comes to Harry, sometimes thinking is the wrong course of action.'
They walked quietly and peacefully back to Hogwarts castle.
Harry was frustrated though unsurprised to see his dinner out with Tonks last night was making headlines. Tonks now appeared to be more than just his rumored girlfriend, according to the smiling pictures someone had taken. Harry's frustrations were at the fact that he shouldn't even be that angry as essentially the accusations are well on their way to being accurate.
The introductory staff meeting the next morning Harry had to endure much joking and jibing at his and Tonks' expense. There was a clear divide though. The majority of the new professors, who were a wide variety of races and species all seemed to enjoy poking fun at their Headmaster, while the wizards and witches that had been teaching at Hogwarts for years were for most part apprehensively quiet and a bit fearful of their new Headmaster. The exceptions to this were Tonks and Professor Flitwick. Harry and Filius had grown pretty close as friends in all the time they spent together and Harry would happily admit the professor was truly a never-ending pit of joy.
Harry dismissed the morning's meeting and asked Hermione to stay after. The room had cleared except for Tonks, Harry, Hermione, Professor Sprout, Professor Flitwick, and Marcellus.
"Professor Weasley." Harry addressed her. Once he made sure he had her attention, he continued. "Unsurprisingly, the house-elves have been extremely forgiving. They know you meant well and your heart was in the right place. They pointed out even house-elves make mistakes. I'm assuming you have learned the error of your previous ways, and would like to offer you the position of Head of Gryffindor House."
"Sure. I would love to." A surprised Hermione answered.
"Excellent. Filius and Pomona are retaining their positions and Marcellus is the new Head of Slytherin House. I expect the four of you to deal amicably with your charges and each other."
Marcellus made a sarcastic face and mockingly waved hello at the three other Heads of houses.
"See! Marcellus is practicing his annoying Slytherin sarcasm. Now I thought as a good way for the four of you to bond, you three will let Marcellus feed from you."
Pomona and Hermione went pale.
Filius exclaimed, "What!"
Marcellus just stared at Harry and started laughing.
"Boy, I really do need to work on my jokes, don't I?" Harry asked.
Tonks rolled her eyes and emphatically added, "Yes, you do."
Harry was mentally making a list with number one: no Percy dirty talking, number two: no forcing the staff to submit themselves to dark creatures.
"Thank you, Harry, for sufficiently frightening my colleagues." Marcellus grumbled out.
"Oh please. If you really want to frighten them, tell them how old you are."
"In the presence of ladies, one should never discuss age," he haughtily responded.
Hermione boldly asked, "How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?"
Marcellus eyed her closely and responded, "I'm approximately five years from my thirty-eighth centennial."
"You're 3,800 years old!" Hermione exclaimed. "So… did you know…?"
"Salazar?" Marcellus smiled. "Oh yes. Though, my wife was much closer to him than I was. I'm quite sure he'd approve of me as the Head of his House now."
Harry was muttering about the 'showoff' and said, "Okay. At the afternoon meeting I will introduce the two of you as the new Heads of House, but before then, Tonks and I have a lunch engagement. So if you'll excuse us."
Tonks smiled and blushed as she grabbed onto Harry's hand and he led her away.
Marcellus made a taunting coo at the little lovebirds and earned himself some very curious looks from his three colleagues. They were all trying to reconcile the idea of a being as old and experienced as he must be with this childish sarcastic goofball in front of them. Marcellus noticed the looks he was getting and looked ashamed. "Sorry."
Harry and Tonks were having a lunch together just like any other, but this one felt vastly different.
Twice Harry opened his mouth to say something and he would stop and close his mouth.
Tonks was feeling a bit of the butterflies too but maintained a calm exterior. She raised an eyebrow and said, "Relax, Harry. We can talk about anything, even work. We're less than a week away from the students arriving. Nervous?"
Harry relaxed a bit. "Honestly?"
"This morning's meeting had me the most anxious I've been in anticipation of this lunch. I'm looking forward to the students arriving. We'll be able to get a hold on things a lot better once we have some actual experience with the integration. I am nervous, but I am more excited."
Tonks smiled. "I'm terrified! I'm worried I'm going to be stuck teaching an extra class or two. I cannot even imagine me teaching. But it will be fun and wonderful and nice and most likely drive us barmier than Albus."
Harry laughed. "I feel like I'm already there."
The pair fell into their usual warm easy conversations. The discussion was kept fairly light as their food arrived. They were both smiling more, although Harry would frequently have solemn pensive expressions on his face.
After they were both finished with their meals, Harry decided to ask a more serious question of Tonks. "Tonks, I was hoping you could do me a favor."
Tonks nodded. "Course. What do you need?"
"I would like you to call an Order meeting so I can address them and answer any questions they have for me."
Tonks' eyebrows rose in surprise.
"I think for the wizards and witches of the world to understand what I'm doing I need to be open and address their questions. But I would first like to address the Order in private."
"Alright, Harry. How about the evening of August 30th? You'd still have another day before the kids arrive."
Harry smiled. "That would be great. Thank you."
Tonks and Harry spent a few more minutes discussing Harry's plans and confrontations. Talk went back towards work and they paid their bill and left. Right outside the restaurant, Harry took a chance and gave Tonks a chaste kiss and thanked her for a lovely lunch.
Tonks smiled and blushed. "You're welcome, Harry. But if you'll excuse me…" And she grabbed him and gave him a far more intense and powerful kiss.
Harry blushed when he realized people were watching, and couldn't stop himself from smiling. "Yes… well… umm, back to meetings." Harry grabbed Tonks hand and led her back to Hogwarts.
The evening of August 30th, the Order of the Phoenix convened in their old meeting hall on the third floor corridor of Hogwarts. Harry was seated in the chair that had belonged to Minerva McGonagall, right next to the empty chair that belonged to the late Albus Dumbledore. When it appeared that everyone had arrived, Harry stood up to speak. Just as he was going to open his mouth, there was a flash of fire, and Fawkes appeared. He settled himself down in Albus' chair and sent out telepathically, "I'm here brother. Let the fireworks begin."
Harry snorted and looked at Fawkes. "As I was trying to say, it appears we are all here. I'm not sure you all know why you've gathered, but it was at my request. I am aware in the past many of you have entertained the notion that I am evil." Harry looked sadly at Ron. "And some of you still do. But I wanted you all to be aware of what I am doing and hopefully address any of your questions or concerns."
Harry paused and looked across all the expectant faces. "Alright. The short version of the plan is to unite the magical worlds in a semblance of harmony. Opening Hogwarts up to all magical beings and the creation of the second sanctuary there is a major step towards my goal. And I would like to remind you that these are the same goals Albus Dumbledore asked me to strive for. I am not evil. I am not your enemy. I have seen the complacency in the masses of the wizarding world, and I realized for the idea of integration to work I will need to be more open and public about my life, as much as I may wish otherwise. I am hoping we can clear the air of any misconceptions we may have. Is there anything anyone would like to ask me?"
Bill Weasley spoke up looking interested. "Yes. Why didn't you help us sooner?"
"I didn't want to. I wanted no part of that war." Harry replied.
An angry Order member yelled out. "It was your war too! Your parents and godfather died fighting it."
Harry looked at the man. "They died so that I could live. Not so that I could fight without choice. Because if you agree I deserved a choice then I chose not to fight."
"None of us wanted to fight either!" Ron exclaimed.
Bill remained looking relatively impassive. "But you could have ended the war that your parents fought, with what appeared to be little effort. Why wouldn't you?"
"You all fought because you felt it was right. Because if you didn't the people you cared about would have gotten hurt. Those you wanted to protect you did so by fighting. I did not fight for those exact reasons. It didn't feel right, and those I cared about and wanted to protect were protected by staying out of the fight. In all honesty, the majority of the people here gave me no reason to care for them. You all doubted me and condemned me to prison. None of you stood up for me, except for a werewolf who wasn't even allowed to visit me. I had been your friend and would have stood up for almost any of you. Not a single one of you ever came to visit me.
"I wonder if any of you realize how much that bitterness and distrust cost the wizarding world. If you had I could have given you a lot of information. The dementors' effects forced my connection to Voldemort to be even stronger. I knew about attacks and plans well in advance and was unable to tell anyone. Can you even begin to imagine how helpless that made me feel? By the time I was even sane enough and conscious enough to understand, it forced me to heavily reconsider my view of humanity and in particular the wizarding world. I wasn't going to fight against you despite everything the so-called light side did to me, but I saw no reason to fight for you."
Professor Flitwick paled at that new bit of information. Alastor Moody seemed agitated only his normal amount. "So why did you help when you did?"
"Albus asked me too. I'm not sure I'd really call him a friend or say I completely forgave him, but in death is absolution. The way he asked, it felt right to fight. And if I hadn't you all would have been annihilated. If the Light and the Dark as you classify them must be warring opposites, then the sides must be equal to be able to coexist."
Moody mockingly prompted, "So if Albus had killed Voldemort, you would have killed Albus."
"Oh for Merlin's sake, no. If Voldemort was defeated you wouldn't be warring."
Ginny Weasley asked, "Are you still angry with us?"
Harry shook his head. "You misunderstand me. I held no anger or contempt for you, but I had no care or compassion either. I haven't been angry with you since at least the first half of my imprisonment. It was then that I accepted the wizarding world as it was."
"Can you forgive us?" a sniffling Hermione asked.
Harry looked at her. "It depends on what you mean when you ask for forgiveness. If you mean do I have ill feelings for you or wish you harm, no. I wish you all long and happy lives, preferably away from me. But if you're asking whether I want to see you any more than I must or rekindle friendships the answer is a resounding no. The Order of the Phoenix should have been the people who would have been helping me and supporting me. You all have in my opinion failed me personally. I don't hold any of you responsible for anything more than your own actions. But failing me personally and the wizarding world are two separate things. Unfortunately it is impossible for me to overlook your dealings with myself and impartially judge all of your other actions, but for all intents and purposes you should represent the best parts of the wizarding world."
"What will it take for you to forgive us?" a crying Hermione Weasley asked.
"Hermione, you cannot begin to understand what it is you made me go through. It's not something I would wish onto my worst enemy."
Hermione was just sobbing and begging, "Please Harry. You have to forgive us."
Harry paused and added, "I don't have to do anything. But I'll tell you what, how bout this: you get a hold of a dementor and lock the two of you in a closet for 24 hours. After a day, come on out and decide if understanding me is worth that much to you. If it is, just do that 3,649 more times. Only then can we sit and discuss it over tea as equals."
"That's not even fair!" Ron exclaimed.
Harry had yet to lose his calm demeanor. He just stared at Ron. "And how is that?"
Ron just snarled when he couldn't think of a proper response.
"You're being too hard on her, Harry." Ginny Weasley spoke up with a fierce glint in her eye.
Harry raised an eyebrow at her protectiveness of her friends these days. His anger seemed provoked but he still hadn't even raised his voice. "I'm being hard on her? I'm doing nothing to her. She is acting like a spoiled child who feels she deserves whatever she wants and will cry until she gets her way. There is no logical reason for me to forgive any of you or to attempt to make any sort of friendship or relationship with you. I will maintain courtesy and civility in the instances I must deal with you, and I ask you to do the same. Do not misinterpret this as any sort of forgiveness or desire to become friends. If you'd like think of the courtesy with which you treat your friend's owls or the tellers at Gringotts. That is the kindness I am extending to you. But to expect forgiveness and to demand it shows how little you understand me."
Ginny complains "The Harry Potter I like to remember, who I am well aware I failed as a friend, would not do this."
"Well think about the Ginny Weasley I remember. If it had been her on trial, and the Ministry had been claiming she was tainted by the Dark Lord's possession and turning dark, what do you think the Harry Potter you like to remember would do? Would he testify against her, helping to ensure her conviction, or would he stand up next to her even if it meant going to prison?"
"I was fifteen! What was I supposed to do differently? My parents, my brother, and my Headmaster, who is considered an authority by just about everyone, all tell me you're turning evil. Tell me, what did you expect me to do?" a hysterical Ginny sobbed.
"Not a thing. You wouldn't be the Ginny Weasley you are today, if you had done any different." Harry calmly replied. "Just don't be surprised that the Ginny Weasley you are today is not someone I particularly care to get to know."
Ginny just sat in silent tears now, similarly to Hermione.
Bill seemed sad for his little sister, but felt their situation was deserved. "You've changed."
Harry shrugged. "Of course I have. It was all of you who changed me even more than the dementors or Tom ever could. I expected nothing from them. What they wanted from me they were quite clear about. It was all of you here that had my faith at one point. And it was that vulnerability that was taken advantage of, in my opinion. There was a point in time when I thought I had friends in the wizarding world. But when the time came and I needed them the most, even just one of them, I realized none of them were who I thought they were. I'm not trying to fix the problems in your lives, they are your own and you should deal with them.
"In my mind, in terms of fairness and equality and tolerance, the wizards and witches of today are nearly lost causes. I know how pessimistic that sounds, but I just find it extremely improbable the chance of you changing, so the best I am hoping for is to help change your children. Teach them to think for themselves. To understand and to care for beings beyond those most similar to you."
"Well I'm not sure I want you to change my children." An unidentified voice called out.
"If that is the case, then do us both a favor and take them to a different school then. If they are as open-minded as you are, there's a decent chance they'd be expelled for the unconscious bigotry the wizarding world has ingrained into their very being anyway. I don't want people to simply listen to me or give value to my words because they feel I am their hero, savior, or whatever other words they are calling me now. I would like these people to grow up to be better than the mindless sycophantical followers that encompass a large majority of the wizarding public. The line is thin between those following a leader they allow to make their decisions for them, no matter if it's Voldemort, Dumbledore, or even me."
Dung asked, "Why do have so little faith in us?" He paused and then added. "Nevermind. Just realized how stupid that sounded."
Harry laughed. "It isn't so much a lack of faith in humanity, as it is a faith in the stubbornness of the majority of wizards. It's just the steadfast opinions you hold and what you've always believed. Most wizards' minds are unwilling to accept the idea that a house-elf or a goblin is every bit as important as you are. If there were a young child and a young goblin in mortal peril, and you could only save one, I'm sure to most of you there isn't any moral dilemma in the slightest. Quite the same as a Death Eater choosing between a pureblood child and a muggle child, it's merely a value you personally place on life. I'm of the opinion we're all equal and trying to spread that idea."
"If you have so much faith in your own beliefs, why do you have so little hope that the wizarding world can change?"
"I can only draw my conclusions from my own experiences. Wizards and witches as a race are extremely lazy. This is why the muggles have advanced while wizards prefer to maintain the status quo. It takes no effort to believe today what you did yesterday. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to change your own mind. And to be frankly honest, I wouldn't be trying this hard to unify any other species. I'd just accept that they are to set in their ways if this had been the centaurs or the banshees and moved on having happily united every other species. But Albus asked this of me and I am hopeful within a few decades I won't be ashamed of the wizarding world."
"Why are you here preaching to us if you are going to treat us so coldly?"
"I am trying to keep my personal grievances out of my professional dealings. The Order should theoretically represent the people of the wizarding world most open to changing things towards righteousness. If I cannot convince you, what hope would I have with the general public?"
Harry paused and looked at everyone else remaining silent. "I imagine most of you would like to go home, so is there anything else anyone wants to ask me?" Harry waited. "No one?"
They all watched him impassively.
"I thank you for coming and listening to me. I hope I have allayed any of your fears, and nothing I have said here tonight is to be bound by Order secrecy. I will leave this room as it is, and will allow it to continue as an Order hideout if any of you need it, though I do not think the Order will be needed and I hope you agree with me on that point at the very least. Good evening."
Most members got up and left without even looking back at Harry. Minister Diggory shook Harry's hand and thanked him.
Charlie and the twins came over and apologized but felt the best thing was to honor Harry's wishes and avoid him as much as possible. Hermione seemed awfully resigned to her fate and just sat there still crying.
Bill looked unsure. He wasn't crying but he wasn't angry either.
Ginny was still crying. She looked straight at Harry and asked, "What can I do to get your forgiveness? This is tearing me up."
Harry stared back at her and replied calmly. "I can only assure you the same as I gave the Headmaster. Beyond that I wouldn't hold out any hope."
"And what did you give the Headmaster?" she asked.
"Forgiveness in death. I harbor no ill will for the life you have lived, particularly when it shall never again cross mine." Harry finished with a sad smile.
Ron hugged his sobbing sister and led her away. He scowled at Harry and said. "You know it's your choices these days that make you such an asshole."
Harry smiled a little. "I'm not the only one. And it's nice to have a choice."
The two youngest Weasleys left without another word. Hermione got up and went back to her staff quarters too.
It was just the silent Bill and Tonks left now. Bill seemed to be thinking heavily. "You know, it's pretty ironic when you think about it. We put you in prison for casting an 'unforgivable'. Even though I know, in the same position I probably would have done the same, and most likely just about anyone else. But it was us condemning you for it that was truly unforgivable."
Bill stood up. "There's nothing I can say that will change the past, but, Harry, I hope you have a better future." He walked out of the room then leaving Tonks alone with Harry.
Tonks smiled at Harry. "You doing okay?"
Harry smiled. "Yeah, I am. I think they all listened to me, but I was surprised to see Bill actually heard me." Harry frowned. "I'm probably going to forgive him, aren't I?"
Tonks shrugged. "That's completely up to you. I'm not influencing you at all on this one. But truthfully, yeah, you will forgive him eventually. After tonight, he's the one I'm most sure about."
Harry growled playfully at her and was fighting a smile.
Fawkes stuck his head up reminding the young couple they weren't alone. He trilled a warm phoenix song for his brother and Tonks. "And I seem to remember someone saying he wanted to change the wizarding world from being so stubborn and steadfast in it's ways."
Harry frowned at his brother. He rolled his eyes a bit at his own apparent hypocrisy. "So I assume if it were you, as one of the lightest creatures in existence, you'd forgive them all?"
"They say 'To err is human, to forgive divine.' A god could forgive anything, but a man can only forgive that which he is able to. And you, my brother, are only human."
Harry smiled at his brother. "Thanks Fawkes." He turned to Tonks and said, "Did you notice how Fawkes managed to answer my question without answering my question?"
Tonks smiled at Fawkes, who was cuffing Harry on the back of his head. "Yeah. I'm pretty sure he learned that from Albus."
"Oh, I'm certain of it." Harry said as they walked back towards his Headmaster's office. "Time to get ready for school."
There you go, a much longer epilogue to the story, sort of. I doubt I'll write
more in this 'Apathy' universe. And I
said it earlier and I'll say it again, big thank you to MeQ for betaing
this. Reviews make me happy. Flames too.