Albus Dumbledore and the Wizard's Ruse
Book Three of the Albus Dumbledore at Hogwarts Series
Disclaimer: this is a work of fan fiction based on the worlds created by JK Rowling. The story is written for entertainment and not for profit.
Author's Note: Thank you to those of you who have started reading Albus' adventures again, especially those who wrote such kind reviews.
To new readers, this is a series I wrote for fun from around 2004-7, and I've only recently decided to finish book three of Albus Dumbledore's adventures at Hogwarts. It is AU, because JKR's book seven wasn't out when I started, so I didn't know about Ariana and the rest of Dumbledore's background.
The reason for the three year gap in writing is that I'm now a published author in my own right. Check out michaeloehley dot com for more information if you like my writing.
I am unlikely to continue writing fan fiction in the indefinite future, but I will finish this story for completion (and for the sake of all my readers!)
"There is no true black or white, only shades of grey"
Chapter 19 – The Truth Outs
Albus ducked underneath a bolt of green light, hurtled down the staircase, dodging the legs of duelling wizards and witches, until he skidded to a halt underneath the arch at the bottom of the amphitheatre. He grabbed his father by the shoulders and shook him wildly.
'Father,' said Albus, a feeling of despair rising in his chest. 'Father, wake up! You cannot be dead, you cannot be!'
Other members of the Order crowded around Archaeon Dumbledore's limp figure, most of them uncertain how to act in the presence of what seemed to be a dead body. Aberforth could barely stand, leaning heavily on Ruth's shoulder for support. It was Swarbrick Prince, of all people, who had the presence of mind to act.
'Enervate,' said Swarbrick, his wand directed at Archaeon. Albus' father gave a loud gasp, sat up momentarily, wide-eyed and stunned, before slumping back to the floor making groaning sounds. Aberforth's legs gave way and Ruth nearly did the same, scarcely able to keep her boyfriend standing. Albus gave Swarbrick a quick, appreciative grin, before flinging himself on Archaeon's heaving chest.
'You are alive!' he cried, 'oh, thank Merlin, you are alive! I thought you were gone...'
Archaeon gave a low mumble that sounded like 'Ah-boos', before his eyes rolled back in his head and he fainted again. His breaths came in low gasps and he was terribly pale, but he was alive, and that was all Albus cared about.
'Albus,' said Jennings, tapping his shoulder. 'I do not think we should merely stand here in the middle of a raging duel. We must find a way out of here.'
'You go, then,' said Albus, gritting his teeth. 'I am not leaving Father's side.'
'That is not what I meant,' said Jennings. 'We must all escape, together. We will help you get your father out of here.'
Albus scanned around the blazing amphitheatre. He could sense the presence of anti-disapparation jinxes, which pre-empted the use of his own ability to apparate. It was obviously why Fawkes had not been able to rescue his Father yet. But getting the dead weight of a comatose man like Archaeon, not to mention eleven schoolchildren including Albus to the exit looked near impossible. Spells flashed across the room in flurries too terrible to behold. Part of the ceiling had caved in where a vicious spell had struck, and at least ten people lay motionless across the stone steps. Lubo was still engrossed in a torrid duel with Lionel Wilberforce, and Albus' eyes blurred from trying to figure out whether either had the upper hand.
'Albus,' said Mars, urgently. 'We must move!'
'Very well,' said Albus, his mind churning with solutions to what seemed, on the face of it, an impossible situation. 'Emily, can you do a levitating spell?'
'Yes,' she said, looking slightly offended that Albus even had to ask.
'Good,' he said, ignoring her petulance. 'Levitate my father and guide his body up to the door. We shall surround him on each side for protection. Aberforth, you are to lead the way. Do you feel up to it?'
'Of course,' said Aberforth, pleased that his younger, more talented brother was giving him the opportunity to lead the way for a change.
'Mars, Edward, Swarbrick and Alice, you are to take my father's left side and use shield charms to protect our left flank. Elizabeth, Ruth, Jennings and Davey, you do the same on the right. I shall take the rear position, protecting us from behind. I suspect that's where the gravest danger will come from, once the enemy realise that we are affecting an escape.'
Albus stared around the group of kids who had become so dear to him over the past few years, his companions and friends. They stared back, pale-faced but defiant, determined to help in whatever way they could. His heart warmed with gratitude, but his guts clenched with a contrary sense of anxiety. He did not want a repeat of last year, when Victoria died... he could not bear the thought of it happening again...
'Are we ready?' said Albus.
'Yes,' the Order replied, with varying degrees of confidence.
'Then, Aberforth, lead the way!'
Emily duly levitated Archaeon's motionless body and, flanked by four Hogwarts students on either side with Aberforth up front and Albus behind, the strange retinue began the dangerous ascent up the amphitheatre to its exit. Lubo was the first to notice the children's audacity. She managed to work herself into a position between Lionel Wilberforce and the Order, raising great defensive shields that rung like church bells whenever the Minister's spells struck. She spoke to Albus over her shoulder, her eyes not leaving Lionel Wilberforce once.
'Get out of here as quickly as possible,' she said. 'Take your father to Hogwarts; it is the safest place for him. Do not return to our home, we have no safety there anymore.'
'But I do not want to leave you either,' said Albus. 'I want to fight these evil...'
'No,' said Lubo, her voice so commanding that Albus was silenced without the influence of magic. 'This is not a place for you. These people are murderers. Get out, get out now!'
It did not take long for the Minister and his villainous allies to realise that their quarry, Archaeon Dumbledore, was being helped to safety by a group of schoolchildren. Soon they rounded on the staircase, their wands raised and expressions severe. Albus immediately feared for Aberforth's safety, and regretted putting him out in front. But his concerns were soon quashed. Aberforth's Protego spell was so fierce that the first round of attacking spells was repulsed with such intensity that five Ministry Aurors were bowled over! Albus swelled with pride in his brother, and wondered whether it was, perhaps, love for their father that empowered him so.
The Order weren't alone. Professors Prewett, Rolleston and Bones, among other faces that Albus vaguely recognised from Dumbledore family tea parties over the years, assembled on either side of the staircase to hold back the enemy line while the children made their way to the exit. Albus saw blood on Professor Rolleston's face and noticed that Hogwarts' Headmistress was carrying a broken arm. Perhaps Mother was right; the danger was too great for him. He bit down on his lower lip and remembered, rather humbly for Albus, that he was only thirteen.
An ear-splitting rumble was heard overhead and Albus spotted a vast chunk of ceiling falling down towards them. Before anyone else could react, he unleashed a flurry of Reducto spells, reducing the rocks to fine dust. Everyone was coated in a thick layer of dust, causing Edward and Davey to start sneezing uncontrollably. The collapsing ceiling had created some measure of confusion even among the adult ranks, so Albus saw an opportunity. He stepped out from behind the group and blasted a path forward to the doorway.
'Aberforth, run!' cried Albus. 'Everyone, follow!'
The floating body of Archaeon Dumbledore, flanked by eleven children, hastened out of the amphitheatre and into the shadowy corridor beyond. Albus turned one last time before they departed to survey the chaos that he was leaving behind. The fighting was more furious than ever, and he could not make out his mother anymore amidst the turbulent swirls of dust and blinding streaks of magical spells. Anger at what the Ministry had done to his family swelled inside, stronger than ever, and Albus was tempted to cast the Cruciatus Curse on the nearest Ministry Auror. But his conscience prevailed; or perhaps it was the tug of Mars' hands pulling him away from the room.
'Come on, Albus,' yelled Mars. 'We must stay together!'
Snarling with rage, Albus listened to his friend and hurried after the rest of the Order. They had just turned the first corner when a deep voice with a Germanic accent stopped them in their tracks.
'Ah, so you have brought ze prize to me!' said a giant of a man, who blocked their way down the corridor. He had pale, almost white eyes, and reminded Albus of the two, horrible boys he'd had the misfortune of meeting during last year's Triwizard Tournament: the Grindelwald brothers.
'Who are you?' snapped Aberforth. 'Get out of our way.'
'Zat is no way to speak to ze High Imperial Kaiser of Prussian Magic,' said the man, who Albus now recognised as Edelwert Grindelwald. Now he truly understood why Archaeon Dumbledore was a 'thorn in the side' of this man, as he'd written in his letter to Lionel Wilberforce. Albus' father had organised the last challenge in the Triwizard Tournament, which had resulted in the death of the older Grindelwald brother. By seeing the resemblance to the boys in the Prussian Minister's face, Albus knew that this was the father of the pale creature that had become Albus' greatest enemy during last year's Tournament.
Albus thought quickly about how to escape this perilous situation. Even outnumbered eleven to one, he suspected that Edelwert Grindelwald could easily overcome a bunch of schoolkids and murder his father.
'We have proof of your crimes, Minister,' Albus called out. 'Let us go, or else we will show the world how corrupt you are.'
'Ah, so we have all of the Dumbledores here today,' said Edelwert. 'I will delight in killing each and every one of you.'
The Prussian Minister raised his wand, pointed it at Aberforth and began, 'Avada...'
Something happened so suddenly that even Albus had to cry out in surprise. An old man had been standing in the corridor behind the Prussian Minister, unnoticed by anyone. With a flash of brilliant golden light, he transfigured into a magnificent bucking stallion. It was the Horse Man, Hogwarts' ageless Care of Magical Creatures teacher. The glorious beast kicked up onto its hind feet and, with a triumphant whinny, kicked Edelwert Grindelwald in the back. The Prussian Minister was thrown to the ground, knocked unconscious and deprived of his wand, which clattered against the wall. Albus quickly vanished the wand so that Grindelwald was left unarmed, and hurried forward to greet the Horse Man.
'You came,' he said, breathless. 'Fawkes must have called you. Thank you...'
The horse nodded, its liquid brown eyes conveying reassurance to Albus and the other members of the Order. Then, with a backwards tilt of its head, the horse indicated that they should lift Archaeon's body onto its back. Emily did as instructed, levitating him until he lay prone across the Horse Man's muscular hindquarters. Then, without a further word, the immortal horse galloped off down the corridor, carrying Albus' father away to safety.
'What now?' said Aberforth, who still looked rather green after his close encounter with death at the wand of Edelwert Grindelwald.
'We do as Mother said,' said Albus, feeling the air for traces of magic. There was no anti-disapparation jinx here. 'We return to Hogwarts. I can apparate back to the Room of Requirement alone, but we will need Fawkes to carry the rest of you back. Fawkes, where are you?'
The phoenix appeared with a flash of flame and held out its tail for Emily, Davey, Swarbrick, Elizabeth and Alice to take. Albus waited until the phoenix had disappeared, reappeared and then disappeared with Aberforth, Ruth, Jennings, Mars and Edward before disapparating himself.
The eleven children reconvened moments later inside the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts, where a ring of chintz armchairs sat around a cosy fireplace, with house elves on hand to serve warm mugs of hot chocolate to the returning adventurers. Albus felt a massive sense of relief to have escaped the Ministry without one death among his friends, but a new peril clawed at his heart: the fate of Lubo. What if he had saved his father, only to leave his mother to die? He chose not to think about it; it was too awful a thought.
'So what now?' said Mars, voicing a thought shared by everyone else in the room. John Gaunt lay prone and unmoving on the carpet before them, bound by jinxes inflicted before the others had left for the Ministry. The first and second year members of the Order had been guarding him; they now fixed expectant eyes on Albus, clearly eager to find out what had been happening.
Albus massaged his temples gently, trying to soothe the thumping headache that developed whenever myriad thoughts crossed his mind at once. Being a leader was difficult, as it involved solving problems for several other people. Albus had the recurring thought that a Pensieve would be nice, if only to siphon off some of the issues clouding his head.
'First things first,' said Albus, feeling a bone-weariness that he hadn't ever experienced before, 'I need an owl.'
The Room of Requirement obliged. A window was flung open and one of Hogwarts' imperial eagle owls fluttered in, landing on Albus' knee and nodding officiously. Albus took out the incriminating parchment that proved Minister Wilberforce's treacherous alliance with the Prussian Ministry against his father, and quickly scrawled an additional note on a second piece of parchment in his neat, narrow writing. He wrote:
To Gregorian Skeeter,
Editor-in-chief, the Daily Prophet
Dear Mr Skeeter,
Please read the attached letter from the Prussian Minister for Magic to Lionel Wilberforce that proves a terrible plot against my family. It is important that the wizarding world hears the truth, before the Ministry makes up a story to cover-up their actions. As I write this, a ferocious duel is happening in the Ministry of Magic between Wilberforce's allies and the allies of my parents.
Minister Wilberforce and the Black family have acted with evil intentions against my family all year. My father disappeared ten months ago and was held captive in the Department of Mysteries. We have only just rescued him and brought him back to Hogwarts. Our house was ransacked, our wealth stolen, and the Minister himself infiltrated my mind by using Legilimency and the Polyjuice Potion, pretending to be Archaeon Dumbledore. These crimes against my family all relate to the knowledge my father gained in the Egyptian desert a few years ago about an ancient Dark Lord called Imhotep. Minister Wilberforce, the Black family, and the Prussians are all trying to steal that knowledge for their own ends.
Please help expose the Minister's ruse. They cannot be allowed to get away with this!
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Aberforth, Mars and several of the others crowded around as Albus wrote the letter, nodding with approval at the last sentence. Albus bound the two parchments together and attached it to the owl's leg.
'Take this to Gregorian Skeeter immediately,' Albus said gently but firmly to the owl. 'Make sure he opens it, and nobody else.'
'Can Skeeter be trusted?' said Jennings, one eyebrow raised. 'What if he is on the Ministry payroll?'
'We have to trust him,' said Albus. 'There is nobody else with enough influence to contradict the Ministry. The integrity of Gregorian Skeeter might be our only hope.'
'Or,' said Aberforth wisely, 'his love for a good story. I rather suspect he would enjoy making up headlines for this.'
'What should we do about Gaunt?' said Emily, who hadn't taken her eyes off the Slytherin fourth year since their return to the Room of Requirement. 'Can I hex him?'
'No,' said Albus. 'We need to find out whether he betrayed us out of his own accord or whether he was under the Imperius curse by the Minister.'
'What?' cried Emily. 'Do not tell me you think he is innocent after what he did…'
Albus raised a hand and Emily fell silent. Everyone sat back in their armchairs, astonished to feel a genuine wave of power from Albus. His aura was so strong that the hair on their skins prickled and nobody could speak. If anyone in the room had doubted that Albus was the greatest student ever to attend Hogwarts, these were quashed for good.
'Enervate,' said Albus, his wand pointed at Gaunt. The tall Slytherin woke up, but remained wandless and bound by invisible ropes.
'Let me go!' he growled.
'No,' said Albus. 'First, I must know the truth.'
There was a moment of silence in which Albus locked his clear blue eyes with Gaunt's. The Slytherin's face quickly contorted and assumed a panicked expression.
'Get out of my mind,' he cried. 'Do not… I cannot… I do not know Occlumency… how dare you…'
The other members of the Order watched, spellbound, their heads popping from one to the other as Albus probed Gaunt's mind. The hapless Slytherin tried to fight the intrusion into his head and the spells that held him motionless, but could not escape. Albus' face was a picture of concentration, but then it relaxed and he leaned back in his chair, looking utterly serene.
'What?' said Emily. 'What did you find out?'
'Do not dare reveal my secrets,' spat Gaunt.
'Silencio,' said Aberforth, giving the Slytherin a harsh glare. Gaunt glared back, but was powerless to retort.
'So?' said Emily. 'What did you learn?'
'It all makes sense,' said Albus. 'The Gaunt family has fallen upon hard times. Their family wealth has dried up and the Minister had leverage against them. He offered John's parents a significant bribe if their son cooperated with his plot. John's parents ordered him to infiltrate my Order and serve the Minister. He did not want to, but he had no choice.'
'Of course he had a choice,' snapped Emily.
'That is easy for you to say,' said Swarbrick, perhaps feeling that his fellow Slytherin deserved a fair hearing in the presence of so many Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws.
'There is no need to quarrel,' said Albus, looking directly at Gaunt's defiant face. 'John, I understand your reasons for betraying me. I forgive you, but you cannot remain a member of the Order.'
Albus undid the spells that bound the Slytherin and handed his wand back to him. Gaunt was bristling, his arms tense with a desire to fire spells at Albus, but he thought better of taking on the school's best wizard (and a room full of enemies). Instead, he shouldered past Albus and stormed out the door, scowling and grumbling all the way.
'Good riddance to bad rubbish,' said Emily, haughty as ever.
'That is enough,' said Albus, somewhat disappointed that his tolerant and inclusive Order had been reduced to just one Slytherin. 'Now we await news of my father and mother. Fawkes, can you report on my mother's wellbeing?'
The phoenix, which had been preening in the corner on its mahogany stand, disappeared for a few minutes. In the meantime, Albus found a telescope by the window and strained to see any movement down by the Hogwarts school gates or the Forbidden Forest to suggest that the Horse Man had arrived with his father. Before he spotted anything, Fawkes returned with a flash.
The fire-coloured bird locked eyes with Albus and conveyed the news that he'd been waiting to hear. Breathing a massive sigh of relief, he relayed it back to the others.
'My mother and her allies have escaped the Ministry,' said Albus. 'Professors Prewett and Rolleston are badly injured, but they will return to Hogwarts shortly to receive treatment. Several people died, but nobody that we know.'
'Thank Merlin,' said Aberforth.
'Yes,' said Albus, nodding to himself. 'Yes, thank Merlin.'
'Look!' cried Mars, who had commandeered the telescope while Albus was communicating with Fawkes. 'It is the Horse Man, with your father!'
Albus needed no invitation. He and Aberforth made a simultaneous dash for the door, sprinting down several flights of stairs and hurtling across the grassy lawns of Hogwarts to meet their weakened father on horseback. The Horse Man carried him up to the hospital wing, where he could be properly cared for. All other thoughts were pushed out of Albus' head for now. He merely wished to stand by Archaeon's bedside, watching his father intently for signs of improvement. They were shortly joined by Lubo, as Professors Prewett and Rolleston came in for treatment of their injuries, and for the rest of the evening, the Dumbledore family watched and waited anxiously by Archaeon's side.
It went unspoken all night in Hogwarts' hospital wing, but everyone was on tenterhooks about what was going to happen. The Ministry would be furious with the Headmistress and her schoolteachers for openly fighting Aurors and other Ministry allies in the Department of Mysteries – but how could they justify their imprisonment of the world-famous Archaeowizard Archaeon Dumbledore? Of all of them, only Albus had a quiet hope that the outcome would be in their favour. It all depended on Skeeter…
That morning, Albus and Aberforth went down to the Great Hall for breakfast, after some protests against their mother who insisted that they leave their father's side. The school portraits had, as usual, disseminated the whole story across the school, so hundreds of gossiping heads turned to watch the Dumbledore brothers take their place at the Gryffindor table. The attention did not last too long; people were still talking about the Quidditch Cup and Gryffindor's astounding triumph.
Just as the golden bowls were filled with porridges, fruits and other delights, owls swooped into the Hall bearing mail and the morning papers. A Daily Prophet landed on William Potter's head and Albus had grabbed it and unravelled it to the first page before anyone else could flinch. He couldn't help but yell out in delight, relief and happiness.
'Aberforth! Mars! Everyone – look!'
A dozen heads crowded around to read the massive headline that seemed to cover the entire front page, leaving only a small space for text at the bottom:
MINISTRY PLOT UNVEILED! CORRUPTION AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL! ILLEGAL IMPRISONMENT OF FAMOUS WIZARD! FATAL DUEL ON MINISTRY PROPERTY! MINISTER FOR MAGIC FORCED TO RESIGN IN DISGRACE! MINISTRY IN UPROAR! CALL FOR MORE HEADS TO ROLL! PRUSSIANS IN DENIAL! FOREIGN RELATIONS IN DISARRAY!
Gregorian Skeeter reports:
In one of the most salacious scandals ever to embroil the Ministry for Magic, evidence has emerged of a terrible plot by Minister Lionel Wilberforce and several other figures of importance within the Ministry against world-famous Archaeowizard Albus Dumbledore, with the Prussian Ministry in cahoots! The evidence came to light yesterday as a massive duel took place in the Ministry, causing the deaths of at least three Aurors and another seven people. This humble reporter has never heard of such treachery against all the ideals upon which our magical community was founded.
See page 2, 3 and 5 for more outrageous details…
See page 4 for the full story of Archaeon Dumbledore's unlawful imprisonment…
See page 7, 9 and 10 for editorial commentary…
And so on it went. Albus allowed the newspaper to be hijacked by other people interested in reading the details, and went about eating his breakfast in silent, pleasant contemplation. His family was vindicated. That was all that mattered. Secretly, he'd been worried that the Ministry would invent trumped up charges against his mother and father, leaving the Dumbledore name disgraced. But now, there was no chance of that happening. The Minister had resigned, and the other collaborators would be forced out in good time. With any luck, the Dumbledore family fortune would be returned to them… but none of that really mattered. What was truly important was that Archaeon, Lubo and Aberforth were all alive, well and safe within the walls of Hogwarts. That and Albus' friends had all made it through a terribly dangerous adventure intact.
This time, unlike last year, nobody dear to Albus had died.
The weeks and months that followed blurred into one. Archaeon Dumbledore remained an inpatient of the Hogwarts hospital wing until the end of the school year, slowly but surely recovering from his ordeal. He seemed to have lost some of his aura, but his sparkle soon returned and Albus took great pleasure in visiting his father every afternoon. Professors Prewett and Rolleston returned to work, hale and healthy, and all the teachers (Lubo Dumbledore included) acted like slavedrivers as the end-of-year examinations approached. The Order's weekly meetings were postponed because there was so much studying to be done, but Albus breezed through it unaffected. Having his father back meant he could take anything, even long nights of studying until the candles had burned low and the moon had risen and set.
Of course, the examinations went swimmingly for Albus (and not so much for Aberforth, who protested that Ruth distracted him). He topped the class in every subject, and then some, winning every single prize available to third year students. Even Jennings Ranger had to begrudgingly admit that 'Albus Dumbledore is the best'.
And so, Albus' third, most tumultuous year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry drew to a close. A glorious summer back at the Dumbledore's home in Wales awaited, a summer of frolicking with the Jones brothers' in the Quidditch fields and learning even more challenging magic from Lubo and the now-recovered Archaeon. Four years more at Hogwarts awaited him – and Albus desperately hoped that he could focus on learning how to be a great wizard instead of dodging life-or-death situations. But, when he thought about all the fun that he had with the Order, Albus knew that there would certainly be more adventures to come.
Because one thing was truer than most – wherever Albus Dumbledore went with his extraordinary talent - wonderful, magical and sometimes dangerous things were sure to follow. Of that there was no doubt.
Thank you to everyone who has ever read and/or reviewed my fan fiction series about Albus Dumbledore's life at Hogwarts. As I said before, I am unlikely to write fan fiction again, now that I am a published author of my own. But I'll never say never: because this has been a lot of fun.
If you've liked my writing, see www dot michaeloehley dot com for information about my children's book and links to buy it. To everyone in the fan fiction universe I say: goodbye, good luck with your writing, and thank you for the opportunity to practice my developing writing skills back when I lacked confidence and was still learning the tricks of the trade. It has been worth every word, page, chapter and all the hours spent.
'Grandson of Dumbledore'