Harry Potter and the Winds of Change
(Year Six Fan-Fic)
Disclaimer: This is a non profit fan-fiction piece. No money is being made from it.
Harry Potter, names, characters and related indicia are © and tm Warner Brothers 2000.
Any quotes from the Canon books are © Joanne K. Rowling.
Special note that some of my non-canon facts come from "Acceptance of Fate" with permission from Jami.
"Circle of Lords" was created by my brother Christopher and I while discussing how Purebloods could possibly control the Wizarding population.
Chapter 1 – Padfoot's Wish
Harry looked out into the night sky looking for his snowy white owl Hedwig like he had every evening in the week that he'd been back at number four, Privet Drive. It was nearing dawn and the light from the sun's rays were beginning to block the sight of the one special star he was staring at.
The summer had, in contrast to the year before, matched Harry's mood. It was cold and miserable. The past week it had begun to warm up a little but it was still one of the colder July's on record. The rain had finally cleared off the evening before and the stars had been bright this evening as if to make up for their lack of appearance lately. The moon seemed brighter then normal and Harry took quick notice that it was fading away from full.
A wave of sadness rolled over him as the 'Dog Star' faded from view. As much as Harry tried he couldn't block the memory from surfacing again. He watched the bolt of red light splash across Sirius's chest, then the graceful fall of his body as it slipped into the deathly shimmering Veil in the Department of Mysteries without leaving behind so much as a ripple across the surface.
Tears clouded Harry's sight as the scene replayed in slow motion before his eyes. He watched every detail as if it was a memory in a Pensive, consuming his vision. The shock that spread across Sirius's face as the spell hit his chest right down until his body disappeared played for him in agonizing slow motion. The tears fell as he remembered Remus stopping him from following Sirius beyond the Veil.
Remorse mixed in with the grief as he thought of how much he had wanted to hurt Remus so he could run to Sirius. Then as always that pain was over-ridden by the guilt of knowing Sirius had died because of him. Remus had held on with more then a little of his werewolf strength, it wasn't until much later he'd realized just how much it had taken to restrain him. The bruises had been healed, as had all the physical damage everyone had received at the Department of Mysteries. It was the emotional scars that would take much longer to heal.
Hermione had been right; it had been a trap and she'd seen right through it. She'd even come to the same conclusions Voldemort had. Harry would always put others before himself and that was something Voldemort had counted on and exploited. A 'hero complex', she'd called it.
The remorse began to multiply as he thought of the disastrous results of his rash decision to go to the ministry without the Order of the Phoenix. Ron, Ginny, Luna and Hermione all had been injured. Neville's father's wand had been broken and Harry himself had learned first hand how Ginny had felt in her first year when Voldemort had possessed her. They had all been very lucky.
Funnily enough the one thing he did not feel enormous amounts of shame over were his actions in Dumbledore's office, largely because Dumbledore told him all of his things had been repairable or replaced and that Harry's actions were understandable. Harry looked on it as a necessary evil to get past the betrayal he felt over being lied to for so many years. The more he thought about it the more he understood Dumbledore's reason for not telling him in his first year or even his second. He felt that Dumbledore had made a mistake and had betrayed his trust by not explaining everything when Sirius had been found at the end of his third year.
Harry found he felt that Dumbledore and Snape were as much to blame for Sirius's death as he was. Had Dumbledore taught Harry his Occlumency rather then forcing Snape on him, Harry felt he might have been able to learn enough stop the dreams. Harry personally held Snape liable for what happened because he'd never been able to go beyond Harry's face. All Snape saw when he looked at Harry was James Potter, Snape's childhood tormentor. The hatred he held for James had coloured his treatment of Harry. Worse in Harry's mind was Snape's treatment of Sirius, it had made him ever more rash as the year had progressed.
If Snape had just once been an adult and given Harry a chance to learn rather then continuously attacking him again and again, there would have been a chance to learn enough Occlumency to stop Voldemort's plans. Harry couldn't help but wonder if that had been Snape's intention all along. Was he still serving Voldemort by not letting Harry learn the skills needed to keep him out? Or was it simply a matter of projecting the sins of the father onto the son? Harry didn't know what to believe anymore.
He was startled out of his musing by Hedwig's return and small affectionate peck at his fingers. He gave her a small, sad smile and petted her softly before removing the Daily Prophet from her foot.
"Thank you." He told her affectionately. He handed her a few owl-treats that she took gratefully before taking flight over to her cage. She took large gulp of water before settling down on her perch to sleep. Harry closed the drapes over the window to give her a little less of the direct sunlight that was creeping towards the window and to stop anyone from looking directly into the room without magical help.
Taking the magical newspaper over to his bed he sat back against the headboard. Turning on his small light he unrolled the paper.
He was grateful Hermione had thought to get him a 'pick-up' subscription of the Daily Prophet for the summer. He'd cancelled his subscription during the school year when they had begun the propaganda campaign against him and Dumbledore.
Though the Prophet had been controlled by the Minister of Magic's office last year and been useless in giving him any news, it had redeemed its integrity since the incident at the Ministry in June and had been reporting without interference again. Hermione had figured it would be better for him to have 'some' idea of what was going on during the summer, unlike last year. Harry made a note to thank her when he saw her again. He had no intention of ever taking her or any of his friends for granted again. Too many people had been hurt in the Department of Mysteries, including Hermione herself. Her letters had helped ease some of his fears. She didn't blame him for her injuries and was already insisting that he add some dodging exercises, transfiguration shielding and extra defensive charms to the DA training this year.
Ex-Minister of Magic Under Investigation for Covering Up "You-Know-Who's" Return!
By Marcus McDougall
With the testimony of Albus Dumbledore Order of Merlin first class, Wizengamot's Chief-Warlock and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry The Ex-Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, has been ordered to stand trial on the grounds of Witness Tampering, Bribe Taking, Abuses of Power, and Conspiracy charges regarding the Attempted Murder of the Boy-who-Lived, Harry Potter, Holding Prisoner's without Trial, Ordering a Dementor's Kiss without trial, as well as possible Death-Eater Activates all in the name of covering up the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. With him will be his accomplice Dolores Umbridge, Under-Secretary to the Minister, Ex-High Inquisitor and Headmistress of Hogwarts at the direction of Fudge, (See page 3 for Details of the rise of Ms. Umbridge as Hogwarts first ever Inquisitor) as well as a number of other employees that have been implicated.
Albus Dumbledore's testimony clearly shows that he had tried on numerous occasions to alert the public as to the dreadful threat that is once again at our doorstep. Standing by Dumbledore's side for the past year has been the Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter. (See page 10 for reprint of Harry Potter's Exclusive Interview from earlier this year about You-Know-Who's return from the dead.)
The Minister ordered a smear campaign against these two in efforts to keep the public's interests turned away from this threat, including putting Harry Potter on trial in front of a full Wizengamot court for using magic to protect himself, in violation of Restrictions of Under Age Magic, from two Dementors that the Minister's accomplice Dolores Umbridge ordered to have give him the "Dementor's Kiss". In addition the ex-minister tried to have Dumbledore removed as Chief Warlock and tried to remove his Order of Merlin first class.
Harry sighed and stopped reading the article. As always, the Daily Prophet was acting as if it hadn't been the main source of Fudge's propaganda. They had spent the better part of last year calling him a 'dangerous and an attention seeking child'. He couldn't help but smile knowing that Fudge was going to get what was coming to him. He skipped ahead to the end of the article as he already knew the background information.
The Wizengamot has nominated Arthur Weasley to step in as Temporary Minister of Magic until the election can be conducted as he has already turned down a nomination to run in the elections freeing Dumbledore from having to become the Interim Minister. Nominations for Minister are already being accepted by the Wizengamot and will be voted on by the Circle of Lords before being placed on the ballot. Elections are expected to conclude by November 29th.
All Witches and Wizards above the Age of Majority are reminded to register before October 31st in the area where they will be living. Attending a polling station will be required to be sure all votes are valid.
"Finally! At least he'll do something about Voldemort." Harry muttered to himself
He was really pleased to see Mr. Weasley getting some recognition for his work at the Ministry. He wasn't surprised that he'd turned down the nomination. Still he knew that Ron was likely to be very happy about the changes that must be taking place around the Burrow. He made a note to write Ron later that day to congratulate them. Ron was still recovering from his injuries and his letters were full of complaints about not being allowed out of bed to practice Quidditch like Ginny. Harry figured if Ron was worried about not being able to fly then he couldn't be hurt too badly. Unlike Hermione's letters Ron hadn't mentioned Sirius yet, and he was grateful for it.
The next article caught his attention as well.
Who Will Be The New Candidates?
By Rita Skeeter
With the news that the Circle of Lords is going to be approving the nominations for Minister of Magic, many are wondering if the Circle is in You-Know-Who's pocket. With high ranking officials such as Lucius Malfoy being arrested as Death Eaters this past week, some are wondering just how far the corruption of the system has gone.
"It's a well known fact that Sirius Black actually holds a seat on the Circle of Lords for the Black Family," states a clerk from the Ministry, "He is also in fact allowed to vote on behalf of Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, as Mr. Potter is not old enough to take his own seat and Mr. Black is the boy's Wizarding Guardian!"
Sirius Black of course has not lost the right to vote for the Black family and retained the right to vote for Mr. Potter because he was never convicted of the crimes he was accused of. He was sent directly to Azkaban without a trial under then Minister Crouch and forgotten. In the interview I did with Mr. Potter last year, he told the world how Sirius Black could have been cleared of all charges two years ago had Minister Fudge allowed the witnesses to come forward and testify. Even worse the real criminal Peter Pettigrew might have been stopped before he took part in resurrecting He-Who-Must-Not Be-Named!
There has never been a vote in the Circle that could be more disastrous for the Wizarding Community. Some say the Circle is divided almost evenly between the Light side, the Dark side and the Moderates. Families such as the Dumbledore's have often sided on the side of light while others are known for their shady votes in the past. (See pg 15 for details of the more sinister votes during the last rise of You-Know-Who)
Insiders are seriously concerned about the number of ex-suspected Death Eater Supporters that are in the Circle. The arrest of several previously pardoned Death Eaters from You-Know-Who's last rise to power has left many feeling like the old system needs to be taken down and replaced with a democratic systems such as those of the Muggle design.
"Muggle-born magic folk would then have a chance at holding office and making a difference," states a high ranking member of the Ministry who wishes to remain anonymous. "Right now money is the ruler of the structure. If you have money you can buy all the support you need, but most Muggle-born witches or wizards don't come from a rich background to face off against the rich, old purebloods." My source revealed.
While many believe this, no Muggle-Borns have accepted any nominations. It is fully believed that any such witch or wizard would be killed immediately after attaining office and that while the perception of the Wizarding world is still to look down on those of Muggle birth. However it is still surprising that no more Half-Blooded witches and wizard's have accepted a nomination yet either as they outnumber the Pureblood's by a large margin, but currently only two votes of the Circle of Lords are held by Half-bloods or their supporters.
Nominees so far have been Norton Bestforth, Mathew Knightsbridge and Amelia Bones. While many thought that Ms. Bones would in fact be the Interim Minister of Magic she declined the offer to peruse her chance at being the "Light sides' choice" according to several sources. With both Death Eaters and the 'Order of the Phoenix' watching, it should be a good indication which way the coming War shall go.
Harry's eyes opened wider as he looked at the article. He had been aware of the Circle of Lords; they had covered it in History of Magic. He knew all the original Pureblood families were sitting members and they worked much like a muggle senate, vetoing laws that the Wizengamot made that they didn't approve of. It was one of the reasons pureblood families still had control over the government and most of the money in the Wizarding world. He knew there were twenty-one seats in the Circle. Having two votes in the Circle was a big deal and could swing the voting of the Moderates to the right or wrong side of the War. Harry wondered now that Sirius was dead who was going to be responsible for the Black Family vote and his own.
Looking over the rest of the paper he didn't see anything else of interest so he carefully lifted the loose floor board under his bed and placed the paper in the hidden space. He leaned back on his bed against the headboard once more and pushed the thoughts of the Circle of Lords out of his mind. No use worrying about that just yet. He figured he'd talk to Remus about it when he had the chance.
While he was allowed to have his things in his room this year, his uncle had forbidden Harry from letting his freakish toys out of his trunk. He was allowed his books and quills needed for doing his homework, not that he had any yet, but that was all. He wasn't allowed to have anything else such as his precious Firebolt or his Invisibility Cloak.
He had been extremely relieved to find the Firebolt packed in his truck when he got home. The note from Dumbledore said he'd found it in the dungeons and was sure Harry would like to have it back for Quidditch Training once he left the Dursleys this summer. Harry had taken that to mean his lifetime ban had been lifted and that he wasn't to spend the whole summer at the Dursleys. He hoped all the 'Educational Decrees' had been lifted as well.
Normally at about this time in the morning his aunt would be yelling at him to come down and begin to cook the Dursleys breakfast. This summer however the agreement was Harry was to stay out of sight as much as possible. His aunt would leave leftovers in the fridge for him to get for himself after they had eaten.
In a way, this made things better for Harry. His uncle had wanted to lock him in his room but Harry had stopped that with a threat of writing Mad-Eye Moody that he was being mistreated. That had stopped Vernon Dursley in his tracks. He hadn't spoken a word directly to Harry since, always telling Petunia to tell him something even if Harry was in the same room. If Harry hadn't been so depressed over Sirius's death he might found it funny or even taken advantage of his uncle's fear of Moody. Instead Harry found he was happier being alone whenever possible.
For the past few summer's Dudley had been on a diet and as such Harry had been nearly starved to make Dudley feel better knowing he'd get more to eat then Harry at least. This summer however Dudley had been training harder to keep on the boxing team at Smelting, Dudley's school. As a result Harry was instead getting full, balanced meals. The down side however had been his cousin's insistence that if he had to workout by running (well walking at least) in the mornings that Harry should have to as well.
Harry had protested but his Uncle Vernon was never one to let Harry lay about, especially if Dudley wasn't. So every morning since that first night home, Dudley had banged on Harry's door and dragged him along. They'd walk over to the park and then they'd begin to walk around the neighbourhood in the shade of the trees and houses. It wouldn't have been so bad except Vernon or Petunia would come in the car and pick up Dudley when he got tired. It didn't matter if they we're around the corner or a mile or so away, Harry had to get home on is own.
Harry was beginning to think Dudley was leaving him further and further from home on purpose. Like leaving a cat further away hoping it would never find its way back or in Harry's case that his enemies would come for him before he returned. Of course the Dursleys didn't know about the Order of the Phoenix keeping tabs on him. Once Dudley and Vernon were gone whoever was watching would come out of hiding and keep him company on the walk back.
Some of the conversations had been enlightening. Such as the story in the Prophet naming his best friends Ron and Hermione as his companions at the Department of Mysteries but the paper had not named or mentioned the fact that Luna, Ginny or Neville were even there. Dumbledore's request to the Ministry to keep their names from the paper was honoured without question. Tonks had informed Harry that the reason Dumbledore had not wanted the information leaked was simply to keep Voldemort guessing as long as possible about what had happened down below the main floor of the Ministry and to give the Lovegood and the Longbottom families time to put up their own extra security measures. At that point Dumbledore would lift the ban if Neville, Luna or Ginny requested it.
Harry also learned that Dumbledore had placed Remus Lupin in charge of Harry's safety that summer. Remus had pretty much moved into Mrs. Figg's house. He only had left there once because it was absolutely necessary and it was Mad Eye Moody's turn to be on shift. Harry knew Remus wouldn't leave Mrs. Figg's often this summer if given a choice. He wanted to avoid Headquarters as much as Harry did. He understood the grief that Remus was going through.
Both of them were not ready to talk about Sirius yet. The mornings that Harry spent at Mrs. Figg's had been mostly small talk over tea. Harry was still working up the nerve to ask Remus about his mum, dad and Sirius. There was still so much he didn't know about them, but it seemed Remus was gaining comfort from sharing the pain with someone who understood and cared for Sirius as much as he did.
Dudley banged on Harry's door once loudly, startling Harry once again from his thoughts. He put on his sweats, grabbed his wand, opened the bedroom door and ran down the stairs. He watched as Dudley grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and put in his fanny pack. (Where Aunt Petunia had found one that had a belt that large Harry could only guess.) With the extra long strap wrapped around his cousin's waist, Harry had been shocked to find his cousin had in fact lost a little weight over the year. Not as much as one would think considering he was in fact working out but he still hadn't expanded sideways as Harry had come to expect. Then again it was hardly possible to go further in width then Dudley had been last year.
Dudley gave him an evil grin as he placed his cell phone in the fanny pack. Harry just gave him a lopsided grin and shrugged before walking away from him.
"You didn't bring your freakish stick this time did you?" Dudley asked in his most condescending tone, making him sound like a younger version of his father. The mention of magic was still forbidden in the Dursley household. Dudley however seemed a little more resentful but strangely respectful since the incident last summer. Harry couldn't help wondering just what it was that Dudley had seen when the Dementors attacked.
Harry pulled up his long sleeved shirt to show Dudley his wand strapped to his lower arm. "I'm not supposed to go anywhere without it." He gave Dudley a small, innocent smile. "Never know when a Dementor might come up and try to suck your soul out." He told him, his tone sarcastic.
Harry's taunt made Dudley white with fear. "Th-that's n-not f-f-funny." He stuttered. He shivered and rubbed his large arms with his ham sized fists trying to push away the remembered cold that enveloped him. The memory from the attack was enough to start the shivers running up his spine.
Harry pulled his sleeve back down over his wand. "Must be awful to know you owe your life to me and my freakish magic hey Dinky Duddyums." He smirked as he mocked him.
Dudley started towards Harry; his overly large fist was clenched so tight it was white from blood loss. His eyes were almost bulging out in panic and his breaths come in very quick small puffs. "You're not allowed!" He snarled.
Harry whipped his wand from his arm and held it up to Dudley's nose. Dudley looked cross eyed at the stick and gulped loudly. "Are you forgetting I got away with blowing up Aunt Marge?" Harry laughed. "Or that I got off for casting spells last summer, running off the Dementors!"
Dudley lowered his fists and shoved them into his pockets, his hyperventilating becoming noticeable. "You had all those problems last year because of it, the court hearing and stuff." He whispered breathlessly. He was never sure if Harry was or was not allowed to do magic. Every time the Dursleys had thought he was going to be expelled from Hogwarts and not be allowed to perform magic anymore, Harry had found some way around it.
Harry smiled back at Dudley, taking advantage of the fact that it wasn't him on the receiving end of the threats for once. "Yeah, but we have a new Minster of Magic as of this morning... You've met him." He was enjoying the look of terror on Dudley's face.
Dudley's face pinched up as he tried to remember. "One of your freaky friends then is it?" His fists were clenching even harder in his pockets as the last bit of the color drained from his face.
Harry nodded while laughter sparkled in his eyes for the first time in ages. "Arthur Weasley. You know the one that blew up the living room." Harry nearly started laughing hysterically at Dudley's frightened features and the way his hands flew to his mouth, covering it tightly at the memory of the Ten Ton Toffee Dudley had eaten. His actions reminded Harry of how Dudley normally tried to cover his backside when confronted with Wizards thanks to Hagrid.
Harry continued to laugh to himself as Dudley ran upstairs and started to pound on his Aunt and Uncle's bedroom door. "Mummy! Mummy!" He heard Dudley crying loudly.
Harry decided it might be a good idea to head out of the house for a while. Uncle Vernon would be heading to work soon for another sixteen hour day just so he could avoid Harry's existence. It was his Aunt Petunia that he was anxious to get away from. She wouldn't take Harry's implied threat very well and had warned him yesterday not to let Dudley even see his wand this summer. He wasn't sure what she knew in regards to the magical world anymore. Last year she had astonished him when she knew what Dementors were and even more astounding to him had been the fact she knew Professor Dumbledore well enough to recognize his voice when Harry himself had not.
He slipped out the back door and went around the side away from Vernon and Petunia's bedroom window and strolled down the street to Mrs. Figg's. He could hear Petunia pounding down the stairs looking for him. He smiled sadly to himself for a moment. Sirius would have been proud of that little display with Dudley.
Harry was slowly walking away from the house when a medium sized grey and black Tabby looked at him reproachfully and began to follow him at a short distance. Harry gave her a small lopsided grimace as the feelings of guilt and sadness enclosed around him again like a cloak making the grief seem tangible. Everything reminded him of Sirius these days and it made him miss the old Marauder more.
"Hello, Professor McGonagall." He whispered to the cat after a quick look around to make sure no one was watching. "I guess I have to get to Mrs. Figg's so everyone can check on me?" He couldn't help but let his shoulders slump a little.
The reproachful look seemed to slip for a moment. She walked farther ahead when they passed through the alleyway onto Mrs. Figg's street and then led the way past the clean and perfectly manicured lawns and gardens that lined the streets of Mongolia Crescent. He followed her to the door of the house and knocked before he opened it and stepped inside.
When he closed the door, Remus came out of the kitchen in time to see Professor McGonagall transfer back into her human form.
"Hey Harry." He spoke faintly. "You're earlier then I expected. Had to get away again?" He asked, concerned.
Professor McGonagall snorted. "Mr. Potter decided to threaten that muggle cousin of his. He is hiding out from his Aunt." She looked at him sternly. Harry hung his head a little, "I could hear him screaming all the way outside and to the front of the house."
Harry abruptly snapped his head up and his emerald eyes blazed with anger. His face took on an annoyed scowl. "So what? It's not like Dudley didn't deserve it!" He snarled.
Professor McGonagall was appalled. "Remember who you are speaking to Mr. Potter. I do not take kindly to that type of attitude from anyone!" She scolded him sternly.
Remus couldn't stop a brief snort from escaping. "Sorry." He mumbled, trying to keep a straight face when she had turned and shot him a glare.
Her expression didn't change. "Mr. Lupin, do you have something to say?" She asked him in her best displeased-professor voice. Despite the fact that Remus himself was an ex-Professor, he had still been her student. Minerva McGonagall would always remind all her ex-students to respect their elders and most especially her.
Remus's eyes sparkled with his suppressed mirth. "Oh I don't know, Minerva. I seem to recall several times when it was too much trouble to worry about attitudes like that." He chuckled. "I seem to recall that exact expression Harry has, on James's face once in your classroom in the middle of lecture."
She raised an eyebrow and the corners of her mouth twitched as she tried not to show any amusement trying to keep her stern expression in place. "That time it was not directed at me unlike right now with this Mr. Potter." She said turning back to Harry. She noticed that his expression was no longer angry but more curious. She was staggered at how quickly and volatile his emotions were this past week.
Remus had noticed the change in Harry's expression too. He smiled at him, he'd known the best way to get Harry to relax was to throw out a memory of James or Lily, best of all it distracted Minerva at the same time. It still unnerved Remus just how quickly Harry's mood would change since he'd been back to the Dursleys. In the past week that he'd been watching him he'd seen it happen time and again in the blink of an eye. "Well, Harry and I do have some things we need to discuss." He said, clearing his throat, adding a touch of authority to it. McGonagall's eyes narrowed slightly at Remus, it was comparable to the looks Molly gave anyone who disobeyed her wishes.
Harry looked confused studying both their faces. "I wasn't aware of anything."
McGonagall nodded to Remus, remembering his authority over Harry's protection. "Just remember, the choice is Harry's. Dumbledore isn't going to keep things from him anymore, if it involves him." She told him sharply, emphasizing that last part as much for Harry's sake as for Remus. Looking at Harry even more sternly then before she continued, "That does not mean you can join the Order before you're of age." She waited for Harry's nod of acceptance making sure he understood what she had meant by her statement. It was a long moment before he relented and looked straight in her eyes as he did so.
"I understand Professor." He told her, meekly. "I think I did enough damage already."
Remus placed a hand on his shoulder. "You can't blame yourself Harry. You only did what you thought was right with the information you had." He said kindly. He looked more concerned then McGonagall could ever remember. She wisely let Remus handle the situation.
"I should have remembered the mirrors." Harry whispered as his voice choked up with tears he tried to hold back. "I should have tried something else rather then Umbridge's fire. I should have gone to Snape. I just didn't think he'd help me or…" His voice trailed off. He took a shaky, deep breath trying to hold in even more pain.
Professor McGonagall looked ready to say something but Remus gave her a stern look of his own and she again wisely decided to wait. She knew she didn't understand Harry's pain as well as Remus did and she respected their right to grieve in their own way.
Remus could feel the guilt flowing off Harry like waves of heat. "I know Professor Snape has given you the impression he wouldn't help you Harry. His history with Padfoot and the way he's treated you… you had no reason to believe in him." He paused and looked off out the window for a moment before he could continue with a steady voice.
"He did send on your message." He reminded Harry. "The important thing to remember and learn from this is next time to trust in the Order members." He told him gently. "They will all stand together regardless of personal feelings. Snape is learning the hard way, as are you and I. Personal issues can create factures the Order can't afford. Voldemort's defeat is more important then petty school day grudges."
Harry snorted his contempt showing but with another hard look from McGonagall he nodded and looked away a little embarrassed.
"I know it will take time Mr. Potter, but I trust you will make an effort to get along with Professor Snape this year?" She questioned in a softer voice then she normally did when lecturing him.
Harry smirked, his dislike mirrored in his expression. "Well it should be easier then in past years as I don't expect to have him as a teacher."
She raised a brow at his statement. "And what gave you that impression? I imagine Ms. Granger prepared you better then anyone else in Hogwarts could have for your O.W.L.S, did she not?" She kept her face strictly neutral.
Harry's eyes widened. "You're not saying I actually passed my O.W.L.S with a high enough mark to enter Professor Snape's N.E.W.T Potions class?" He was in shock. He was sure he had not passed a few classes, Potions he knew he'd passed but he did not think he'd done well enough to get into Snape's class. Snape never allowed anyone with less then on Outstanding into his NEWT classes.
She gave him a smile. "Did I not tell you I would do everything in my power to see you become an Auror? Professor Dumbledore has convinced Professor Snape that his standards have been too high. It was agreed that an Exceeds Expectations overall with at least one Outstanding in either theory or practical would be acceptable for continued study, with some corrective homework over the summer. Of course Professor Snape doesn't seem to think you'll achieve that high a score."
Harry took a deep breath. "So if I did, I'm going to have to listen to him prattle on about how I needed Dumbledore's help to get into his class, the Golden boy who can do no wrong?" He scrunched up his face in a look of utter distaste. "I think I'd rather transfer to Drumstrang."
Remus laughed out loud while McGonagall's face returned to her normal appearance of sternness. "I'll be sure to tell Professor Dumbledore his help was not appreciated."
"It's not that Professor." Harry said quickly, not wanting to offend the stern Head of his house. "It's just that I don't know that I can handle the constant hatred that he throws at me without retaliating. It wouldn't be so bad if it was only me but he goes after all my friends the way Voldemort does, it just to get to me. I don't want to deal with that while I have the whole Prophecy thing hanging over my head."
Both of the older adults looked concerned. "Harry this is exactly why Professor Dumbledore didn't want to tell you. You know what I think of Divination." She reminded him. "If you truly want to be an Auror then you can't let Professor Snape stand in your way. While I can understand the point I certainly can't approve of you comparing a member of the Order with The Dark Lord! There are sure to be more difficult situations in your future if you truly wish to follow the path of an Auror. Think about it seriously before you refuse to take the class." Harry looked down as she lectured him on his career path. "May I remind you on one thing I told you last year Mr. Potter? You will need to demonstrate the ability to react well to pressure and such with perseverance and dedication. You are going to need to learn to control your temper if you truly wish to be an Auror."
Again Harry nodded but he looked back up into her eyes. "Still can't help but wish I didn't have to take lessons with him."
"Of course this year you will not need to worry about taking your Occlumency classes with him as he still refuses to teach you." She paused, Harry could see disappointment but he was unsure of who it was she was disappointed in, him or Snape. "Professor Dumbledore has agreed to take over as long as you are willing to learn from him."
Harry's eyes opened wide. "He's willing to teach me after what I did to his office?"
There was no mistaking Professor McGonagall's disappointment this time. It was directed solely at him. "Professor Dumbledore is a very forgiving man. More so then I would be if you had tried that shameful and disgusting behaviour in my office." She almost growled at him. The look she gave him now was the most stern he'd ever seen her give anyone. Like most of the staff she was very loyal to Dumbledore and she'd been horrified to see the condition of Dumbledore's office when Harry had left. In fact she and Dumbledore had only just in the past two days finished repairing all the items he'd broken in his fit of anger.
Harry's eyes opened wider at the thought. While he had been in a rage at the time, he doubted he would have had the nerve to break anything that belonged to the stern Head of Gryffindor. "Yes Professor, he is." Harry tried to not think about Dumbledore's forgiveness of Snape's attitudes and prejudges that had made going to Hogwarts sometimes extremely trying.
"I'd like to see the displays of temper from last year brought to an end, Mr. Potter. If you truly wish to be an Auror," She couldn't help but remind him again, "I plan to help you every step of the way. But you really must show more restraint. Have I made myself clear?" She asked him more kindly then Harry would have ever expected.
Once again Harry nodded. Looking her in the eye he could see concern reflected back at him. While she didn't always show it he knew she cared deeply for all the Gryffindors. She had personally argued with Dumbledore to keep him from living with the Dursleys. At least that's what Hagrid had claimed.
"Yes, Professor. You have my word that I'll try harder to control my outbursts." He told her sincerely.
She nodded one last time. "I'll be heading back to Headquarters if I'm not needed any further, Remus?"
He gave her a small smile and nodded. "Not a problem, Minerva. I can handle the rest of the morning if you have other things to do."
They both watched as she left through the fireplace. Remus took a deep breath and then let it out with relief.
"I thought she'd never leave!" said Mrs. Figg dryly. She walked through the doorway leading into the kitchen.
Harry looked back and forth between the two. He had gotten to know the real Mrs. Figg this past summer. He liked spending time at her home now that she'd stopped acting like a batty old woman in front of him. He'd been surprised to find out a lot of her cats were in fact like Crookshanks, and had been helping to keep an eye on him over the years.
"So what was she talking about anyway? What choice do I have to make?" He asked sounding a little more confident now that Professor McGonagall had left.
Remus smiled genuinely, as he was pleased to see Harry's emotions weren't clouding his ability to grasp the situation. It made his job easier. It was more then he'd hoped for in such a short amount of time. "I knew you wouldn't forget she'd said that." He patted Harry on the shoulder.
Arabella snorted with amusement. "It's the first time they have ever given him a choice. You honestly thought he'd miss it?"
"So what is the choice I get?" Harry asked impatiently.
"Dumbledore is giving you the choice of staying at the Dursleys," Remus paused at Harry's hopeful grin, "Or staying at a secure location that has yet to be determined in a short while, as soon as the old magic is fully renewed."
Arabella laughed and patted Harry on the back. "Real hard choice isn't it, my boy."
Harry chuckled. "Hmm... let me think…" he said playfully. "I choose anywhere in the world without the Dursleys!" He said emphatically. "I'd even go to Grimmauld Place." He added quietly.
Arabella smiled fondly at him, not having heard the second statement. "I'll be sad to see you go," she told him as she ruffled his hair. "But I'll be glad to see you as far away from those worthless Muggles as possible!"
She looked them both over, not liking the lanky look they both had. "Well, should I cook you both up some breakfast while you have your chat with Harry?" Her smile, warm and caring, helped him feel a little better. His stomach growled telling them all that his tummy at least loved her suggestion.
Remus chuckled. "I think Harry and I could both go for one of your wonderful omelettes first. That is, if you don't mind, Arabella?"
"Well of course not!" She beamed. "You boys just sit down and I'll have them ready in a jiffy."
After breakfast Remus led Harry upstairs into the bedroom he was using as his office for the summer. The room was surprisingly similar to Harry's own bedroom. The walls were painted a simple white; the single bed was against the far corner with navy blue duvet, and a matching throw rug, the desk was a simple student's desk covered in paperwork and time tables, it had two wooden chairs with navy cushions. Next to the window stood a dark stained, wooden bookcase, stuffed with books on defence, wards and duelling and on the other side o the window was an owl perch with a brown owl sitting very quietly watching them.
Harry took one of the two seats by the desk. He'd grown more impatient as breakfast had continued. Now that he was about to get some answers he could barely keep his foot from bouncing against the floor.
Remus watched him for a moment. "You can't sit still any longer then Padfoot could." He whispered mostly to himself. He still could not bear to say Sirius's real name out loud.
Harry looked at him in surprise. "What?" Remus barely spoke about the times before Sirius had gone to Azkaban. Even more surprising was the fact he'd called him Padfoot. Harry couldn't remember him calling Sirius by that name since third year.
Remus looked a bit grim but he still placed a smile on his face. He hadn't realized he'd spoken loud enough for Harry to hear. "Lately you've reminded me more of Padfoot then Prongs." He explained when he caught Harry's curious look. "I might even have to start calling you Padfoot Jr. instead." He teased, but with a sorrowful smirk.
Harry was unsure how to take the comment. On the one hand he loved his godfather very much but he wasn't blind to his faults. The same went for his father. He had seen them both at one of their lowest points when they had attended Hogwarts thanks to Snape's memories. He also knew Sirius had been the rash one of their group and Harry's own rash actions were something he still had yet to forgive himself for.
Harry's uncertainty showed and Remus gave him a real, but small smile. "That's a good thing, Harry. Padfoot would have loved that he rubbed off on you so much. Especially since the traits you picked up were from his fun loving and fiercely loyal side." Harry seemed to take the meaning of his words to heart and even returned his smile.
Remus took a deep breath, "It's a good thing you are so much like him. You are likely to enjoy the consequences of what Padfoot wanted to do." He began to explain.
Harry's curiosity had reached its peak. "Can we skip the build up and get to the point?" He asked, impatiently. "Dumbledore is always doing that and it drives me nuts." He said with just a hint of disgust.
Remus laughed wondering if Harry knew just how much he looked like Sirius at that particular moment. He had James's face and Lily's eyes, but that look was Sirius all over. He was amazed at just how much Harry seemed to be a sum of all the best parts of each of Remus's dead friends. He had James's sense of humour and honour, Lily's temperament, but most of all Sirius's impulsiveness, loyalty and courage. They had all been Gryffindors, but of them all Sirius had been the one with the most courage. He'd stood up to his family all his life so he could believe in what he thought was right, moved out on his own at sixteen rather then stay with his family any longer. He then followed his own personal dream and became the first Black in well over a hundred years to become an Auror.
"Ok, ok." He held up his hands in surrender. "Just promise me you'll let me explain in my own way. It's complicated but I promise not to hold anything back." He told him.
Harry sighed with frustration but nodded his agreement. Anyone else would not have been able to get Harry to listen as easily, but he trusted Remus in the same way he had trusted Sirius. Remus had never lied to him, unlike almost everyone else. He was the only adult who Harry was certain would tell him as much as he thought Harry should know rather then needed to know as Mrs. Weasley had last year.
Remus stood by the window for a moment and then began to explain Sirius's plans. "As you know Padfoot never approved of Molly's insistence that you kids be left in the dark." Harry snorted but when Remus shot him a look he remained quiet trying hard not to feel like a child being lectured. That was no secret to anybody who'd seen Sirius and Molly together that they didn't see eye-to-eye about what the children should know. She'd even called him a bad Godfather for wanting to tell Harry the truth during one of their louder rows.
"With Dumbledore in charge of your guardianship when you are away from the Dursley's, because of Padfoot's legal situation, he was limited in what he could do for you." He continued to explain. "He couldn't override Dumbledore because he couldn't legally sign any Ministry papers as long as he was on the run. Any legal papers he signed would give away his location. You were a ward of the courts and they left you to Dumbledore."
Harry was sitting on the edge of his seat now. As much as it hurt to hear about Sirius's miserable year stuck in the Black Family Manor last year, he was very interested to know how far Dumbledore's influence over him ran.
Remus bit his lip not wanting to further the rift between the two, but he had promised Sirius to see it through. He took a deep breath trying to steel his nerves for the hardest part of the conversation. He just couldn't be sure if it was going to hurt Harry more or not. "Padfoot couldn't do anything as long as you were only his godson and not his own son."
Harry's eyes widened. His breathing became harsh and a little laboured. "You mean he was going to…" He couldn't finish the sentence.
Remus nodded, knowing what he was asking. "He wanted to adopt you. You're over ten years of age and he was not convicted of any crime, he only needed to fill out the forms and have you sign them too, with at least one witness. They are magically binding and once you signed it would be legal. They have already been dated when Padfoot signed them and I've signed them too as the witness. If anyone asks I'll swear you signed them at the same time." Remus explained carefully. "These papers meant a great deal to him. Several times he was tempted to send them to you anyway even though he would have been very likely found by the Ministry."
Harry's hand began to shake. He grabbed his thighs hoping to steady his emotions but the tears formed and fell from his eyes and down his face. "He loved me that much?" He choked out through the tears.
Remus heightened senses could feel the emotions start to roll out from Harry's body as his magic started to grow a little wild once again. "Yes, he did Harry." He answered quietly. His own emotions were starting to make him feel a little overwhelmed. The wolf inside him was grieving as well for his final lost pack member.
He waited purposefully for Harry to regain control. It took a few minutes but Harry controlled the magic, letting the tears fall unashamed.
"It's important that we get the papers signed before," He paused and winced, "before Sirius's will is read next week. I know that sounds a little insensitive." He flinched, hating to be pushy with the subject.
Harry waved his hand dismissively. "Where are the papers?" He asked quickly, his voice barely above a whisper but Remus still heard him perfectly.
Remus pulled them out of his robes but he didn't hand them over. Instead he placed them on the desk, still folded. "You need to understand Harry, this isn't something to be done spur of the moment. Once you do this you are going to legally become Harry James Potter-Black. You are going to become Sirius's son and heir."
Harry pulled back his hand as if burned. A look of pain washed over his face. "I don't want Sirius's money."
Remus's look of understanding made Harry feel a little better. From anyone else it would seem like pity, he couldn't take anymore pity from the others, even his friends. They meant well but it was too much too soon.
"I know Harry, Merlin knows I wouldn't want it either." Remus shuddered involuntarily at the thought of the Black legacy. Harry accepted his statement with a nod. "There is also the matter of the Circle of Lords. Have you read today's paper?" He asked quietly. Harry only nodded, still too choked up to speak.
"Dumbledore is trying to find out what will happen if Sirius's will is contested." He explained. "As of right now Sirius's will is in violation of Wizarding law and can be overturned by the courts if the rightful male heir to the Black fortunes, lands and titles contests it." At Harry's confused look he explained further. "Wizarding law states that the majority of the estates, all titles and all rights from an Estate must go to the child of the deceased unless there are none left alive, then it would go to the next 'rightful' male heir in a family line. As with all Pureblood families there is a list of people who could claim the estate. It's also the reason that despite wishing she could, Mrs. Black was never able to give her Estate to the Malfoys and the Lestranges."
Harry just nodded and looked at the papers once more. He picked them up and unfolded it looking at Sirius's signature. He noticed they were dated less then a week after Harry had left after Christmas. He smiled through the unshed tears in his eyes again.
Remus cleared his throat. He'd known the conversation would be difficult but it was beginning to make his chest tighten as he watched as Harry struggle with the choices he was giving him. "Dumbledore doesn't know all of what is in Sirius's Will."
Harry's head snapped up. "You do… don't you?" He asked watching with wide eyes. He finally understood why this was so hard for Remus. He was hiding the papers from Dumbledore because he wasn't likely to be happy about what was in the second will. It went against Remus's normal instincts to do something to disappoint or make someone angry with him. Especially someone who trusted him as Dumbledore always had.
Remus nodded again unaware of Harry's own thoughts. He then sat down across from him and placed his hands on his own knees as he leaded forward. "I know about most of it, the important bits. There is a second will that will override the one Dumbledore knows about if you sign these papers, as well as a few other things that will be unsettling for him. The Order of the Phoenix rests in your hands and Dumbledore doesn't even know it. Although, I think he suspects that Padfoot was up to something."
Harry looked shocked. "How can he not know?" Harry's image of Dumbledore had taken a beating this past June but he still couldn't get the image of him being an all powerful Wizard out of his head either. The duel in the Ministry of Magic had shown Harry just how powerful both Voldemort and Dumbledore could be.
Remus sat back and ran his hands through his greying brown hair. "You know Padfoot, always trying to do something unexpected! Some prank, turning the world on its ear if he could. More then anything he loved to annoy or embarrass his family for their choices to follow the Dark Arts and Voldemort's cause." He shook his head trying to clear the images of Sirius's laughing face. The same grin he always had when they'd managed to pull off a particularly difficult prank floated in front of his eyes.
"He gave Headquarters to you in his will." He paused as Harry took in the information. The sour look on Harry's face told him he didn't like the idea anymore then Sirius had when he found out it had been left to him.
To his credit Harry looked him straight in the eye and nodded once. "So either I accept and sign the papers to make the will legal or I don't and the will becomes illegal and a Death Eater will get Headquarters and the Circle of Lords vote, right?"
Remus scowled at the thought but nodded. "There is also the Black fortune to help Voldemort in his rise to power and the scary possibility of them contesting your guardianship." Harry looked up with startled eyes and a sharp intake of breath. Remus sighed and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Dumbledore has found a way to make sure that should they contest the will you would be able to choose your own guardian."
Harry looked relieved. "Would I be able to choose anyone?" He questioned.
Remus shook his head sadly. "No. I, for example, would not be allowed to be your guardian. As a werewolf I am not allowed to have children under seventeen in my care or home."
Harry's eyes blazed. "But you're the last of my parent's friends, and the last adult that I trust."
Remus nodded and swallowed the lump in his throat. "And I would love to be your guardian Harry, but it wouldn't be a good idea. The courts would place you with a known Death Eater's family before they placed you with me." He gave Harry's shoulder a small squeeze. "There is also the fact that Voldemort would know that I can't protect you around the full moon."
Harry's eyes still smouldered with anger. "I hate that…"
Remus crossed his arms and looked out the window. "I know Harry. Padfoot has named someone I trust to be your 'official' guardian. He left instructions for you to be left mostly in my care or the care of someone you want to be in care of. But that person must be of age and approved by the 'official guardian' as a replacement. So there is no way the Weasley twins could have guardianship." He winked playfully at Harry, hoping to lighten the mood a touch.
Harry's anger was dosed with a faint smile at Remus's joke. "He knew he couldn't leave me in your care so he arranged someone to do it for you on paper?"
"Yes." He replied.
"Who," He asked excitedly, "Certainly not Dumbledore."
Remus smirked and shook his head. "I can't tell you that yet. I don't want to ruin the surprise.
Harry just smirked. "That good, huh?"
Remus chuckled at the look and continued, his face turning a little grim. "If it's any consolidation," He continued trying to change the subject, "He was proud of you and wanted to adopt you more then he ever wanted anything in his life." He paused as the words began to sink in. "He loved you as if you were his own son." He choked on his own tears as a fresh wave of grief passed through him. "It didn't matter to him that he was only your Godfather. To him you were his son." He wasn't surprised at just how much his voice shook. He was glad to see Harry was taking the words the way they were meant to be.
Harry took several deep calming breaths trying hard to not burst out into uncontrollable tears. Those words had made his chest ache and he felt like his heart was going to explode with overwhelming pain and pure happiness. It was a hard combination to overcome. It was harder to do so when Remus stood and pulled him into a comforting hug. The two stood there for a long time both let the silent tears run down their faces as they let the grief overcome them.
After a long moment, Harry pulled back and reached for the quill and signed his name Harry James Potter-Black. The parchment glowed and the signatures burned a bright, shinning red before it enclosed itself in the envelope already addressed to the Ministry of Magic Records Department.
They watched as Remus's owl soared off towards London. Harry felt something snap inside him and he gave Remus his first real smile that even reached his bright green eyes since the night Sirius had died. Remus smiled back.