Lions and Badgers
(Author's Note: The story, for most part, follows the canon of the first five books, from PS to OotP. The story begins in the timeline of OotP, but follows the canon for all practical purposes until the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. This was the point which turned me off the whole HP series (as anyone who has read my other story will know), so the canon after from this point on is mostly ignored and the story becomes AU. Another point common with my other story is that Harry will be independent and pro-active, while Dumbledore will be a meddlesome, manipulative and unpleasant old coot. If you love Dumbledore, you have been warned. Furthermore, I am a firm believer in the Evil-Overlords list, so if you are looking for a super-Harry (or dumb everyone else) or a super rich Harry (whose personal wealth outstrips the wizarding world economy by several magnitudes), you are going to be disappointed.
The story will follow a Harry/Hannah ship. Why Harry/Hannah? Harry is under terrible pressure and everyone has too many expectations from him, so someone who can offer some unconditional loyalty is what he needs. Hufflepuffs seem to fit the bill perfectly. Secondly, Hannah Abbott seems to have a clear and logical head (she defends Harry in CoS), at least decent magical ability (she is the Hufflepuff prefect, after all) and she is one of the few Hufflepuffs about whom we actually know something from canon. Writing a Harry/Daphne, or a Harry/Tracey, or Harry/Megan is like writing a Harry/OC with the canon name, since we know almost nothing of them. Come to think of it, we know more about Hannah than any girl in Hufflepuff, including Susan Bones, with whom there are quite a few romances.
Lastly, I believe in the profound comment made by Rafael Sabatini, who said 'The future is to be read with certainty only in the past.' Past events invariably cast their shadow on the present and the future – this is a theme I will be exploring. Further, the Death Eaters are too much of caricatures in canon. Are all of them just pureblood bigots? Is there no one else with a different agenda who might support the Dark Lord?
All criticism is welcome.)
July 23, 1980
Three men sat quietly in an old country house in Lancashire, sipping tea. Or it would be more accurate to say that there were two young men and a boy in his late teens.
"We must be mad to even be thinking of this", muttered the soft voiced, and blond haired Sempronius MacDougal, voicing aloud the thoughts that were passing in the minds of his two companions.
His companion, Evan Rosier, a tall and thin man with a gloomy, ascetic face, smiled a cold, tight smile, "Relax, Semp. We have some excellent bargaining counters. I doubt old Barty would pass up such an opportunity to all but end the war." His lips twisted cynically as he continued, "Think of the boost it would bring his career – he would be the shoo-in candidate for Minister." His words were true and reassuring, but it seemed that Rosier was speaking more to convince himself, rather than anyone else. The shadow of the Dark Lord loomed over the wizarding world, and the actions the three were contemplating were treason of the sort which the Dark Lord never forgave.
"Let us hope so", murmured the tall, nervous, and dark haired Regulus Black,
Evan Rosier leant back in his chair and studied his two companions. It amused him that the three of them were all committing treason against the Dark Lord for entirely different reasons – but then, they had joined him for entirely different reasons. At first sight, there seemed no perceptible difference between the three young aristocrats – all of them were from old, rich and powerful pureblood families, and all of them had the natural arrogance of their class. But the similarities ended there – they had very different outlooks, and they had ended up on the same side only via an alliance of convenience.
MacDougal had joined the Dark Lord because he had a grouse against the Ministry placing severe strictures against the giants. While the Ministry's bigotry against the giants outraged him genuinely at some level, what angered him even worse was the disruption of commerce with the giants – something on which the MacDougals thrived – and the consequent depletion of the MacDougal family coffers.
There was Regulus, striving to be a good son' – which, in essence meant that he was expected to be snobbish, look down on muggle-borns and half bloods, and in short, protect the interests of the old ultra-conservative aristocratic families, both inside the Ministry and outside. However, Regulus had no stomach for the atrocities, and he had seen the boy petrified with horror at the things he had witnessed, and at times, even been forced to commit.
Finally, there was Rosier himself. He had never had any illusions about the Dark Lord. He had joined the man only because of one thing – power. Rosier worshipped nothing but power, and there was power in the Dark Lord's wake. However, now after a decade of insurrection, the winds of war were slowly, but surely shifting against the Dark side. Most of the Dark Lord's followers had not seen it yet, but Rosier was no fool. The ruthless drive and purges of Crouch were yielding results and the Ministry was once more becoming an effective fighting force. Just as important, the Order of the Phoenix, which in the older days was completely irrelevant, was now a force to be reckoned with. Infused with newer and younger members, the Order of the Phoenix could field a bunch of motivated, disciplined and hardy fighters – the group had inflicted some serious casualties on the Dark side, which was now beginning to suffer from war-weariness and lowered morale. So Rosier was doing the only thing possible – he would sell out the Dark Lord and his followers if he could purchase his own pardon, and a few favours along with it. It was better to take care of number one' rather than follow a megalomaniac to the bitter end.
The door of the drawing room opened, and a small house elf appeared, "Mr. Crouch, and Mr. Moody is here, Master Rosier."
"Thank you, Liddi. Will you show them in?"
A moment later, the two men had appeared in the dimly lit drawing room. The first was a dark haired and impeccably dressed man, with hard black eyes, while the second was a badly scarred one with a growling voice.
"Good evening, Mr. Crouch, Mr. Moody. Pray be seated", began Rosier in his soft and suave voice, waving his two visitors towards the sofa. "May I ..."
"Cut the drivel, Rosier", growled Moody. "Let's hear your offer."
Rosier sighed theatrically, "People these days – no sense of etiquette."
Crouch cut in his cold, clear voice, "Excuse me, Lord Rosier, but we are here on business. It were imprudent to waste time on trivialities."
"Very well", smiled Rosier. "My offer is simply this – I can help your faction win in the next six months."
"Most generous", muttered Moody. "I hear it six times a day from captured Death Eaters."
"Doubtless. But, really, for all their boasts, have any of the Death Eaters been able to compromise more than a few others of their ranks? Yes, you have certainly got a few small fry, the occasional Karkaroff and even Antonin Dolohov. But have you had a single conviction of a high ranking pureblood? Or a high level Ministry official?"
"How do you propose to provide us with those", queried Crouch, distrust and disgust written on all his features.
"Simple, gentlemen. My colleagues here and I have the perfect plan to change the course of the war. Your three main opponents are the pureblood aristocrats, the giants and the Dark Lord himself. Now, I can provide you with means to find and enter all of the Dark Lord's safe houses in this country; my friend, Lord MacDougal, can persuade the giants to leave the enemy, while Regulus Black can provide you with enough knowledge about how to destroy the Dark Lord himself. Besides, the exit of three of the most ancient and noble pureblood families from the Dark Lord's cause should give you enough propaganda material."
"Most gracious", sneered Moody. "You aren't doing this for love and kisses, are you?"
Rosier rolled his eyes, "Of course not! Whatever our sense of civic duty, we cannot be expected to run such a high risk without some – shall we say – favours?"
"What do you want in return, Rosier?"
"For myself, I will want a full pardon for all alleged crimes committed in the Dark Lord's service. Secondly, I will need a certain sum of money – still open to negotiations – to be placed in a vault in Gringotts. Finally, if this works out, you will be the Minister of Magic. I will want my nominee to have the position of either Adjudicator or Inquisitor in the Wizengamot ."
"Preposterous! It is unacceptable!"
"Is it so preposterous, Mr. Crouch? You are spending a half a million galleons a year on your raids, and each year's salaries, pensions, and disability allowances amount to nearly twice as much. You will have saved more than ten times what you offer me."
"How on earth do you expect me to help you in the Wizengamot?"
"Oh, come off it, Crouch! If you win the war, you will have all those old goats eating out of your hands. You could easily have your way in Wizengamot appointments."
Crouch appeared deep in thought. Finally, he spoke, "You, sir, how do you know about all the safe houses of the Dark Lord?"
"I am the Dark Lord's top ward-setter, Mr. Crouch. I was commissioned to choose a number of safe places in the country and ward them against all manner of intrusion, which I have done. I can provide you with the list of those places, along with the wards that are on each place. In a coordinated and organised raid on all of these places simultaneously, you should be able to pick up the bulk of the Death Eaters in one fell swoop."
"And you two?", asked Crouch turning to MacDougal and Black.
MacDougal answered, "I want a full amnesty for all crimes in the service of the Dark Lord. Further, I want the restrictions on the giants to be rescinded, and the Giant-Law prior to 1967 reinstated. If you can do this, I will vouch for the neutrality of the giants for the rest of the war."
"People hate the giants, Lord MacDougal!"
"So? Would you rather lose another thousand wizards to their raids? Also, they are weary of taking casualties in this war and are seething against the Dark Lord now. Offer them peace, and you can get it without losing a knut from the Ministry coffers."
Regulus finally spoke, "I want a full pardon for myself, my cousin Bellatrix and her husband, Rodolphus Lestrange. The current campaign to disenfranchise my family in the Wizengamot and the High Council should be aborted. In return, I can offer you knowledge of how to destroy the Dark Lord."
Moody cut in, "Let us take the last one first, laddie. How in thunder can you know how to destroy He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"
Regulus returned, "The Dark Lord has made a number of horcruxes." At his words, there was a horrified look on both Crouch's and Moody's faces – making one was extremely draining and tough. How the hell had the madman made multiple horcruxes? Regulus continued, seeing that his audience understood what he was talking about, "You cannot kill him while these horcruxes remain. I know some of the objects which are horcruxes."
"Some!!! How many has he made?", ejaculated Moody.
Regulus smiled bitterly, "At least three. Possibly more. I can give you the location of the three horcruxes."
Crouch paced around, head sunk on chest, without speaking for a few minutes. Finally, he raised his head and spoke. "I can't answer you right away since some of your demands are beyond my power to concede. I'll speak with the Minister tomorrow morning and then let you know."
"How long will your consultations take?"
"No more than three days."
Rosier returned, "Very well. I'll be here in three days. Same time. We will discuss this further then."
The two visitors bade goodbye to their hosts and disapparated.
Evening of 23rd July, Hogwarts
Three very agitated men were gathered in the headmaster's office in Hogwarts. Alastor Moody was reporting to Dumbledore what he and Crouch had heard.
"Alastor, are you certain that this offer is genuine?", questioned a very serious Dumbledore.
"Would old Tom let anyone know he had multiple horcruxes, Albus?", retorted Moody.
"No, that is true. If so, we must stop this information from reaching Millicent Bagnold's ears – this could ruin everything. Severus, return immediately to Tom and tell him that Rosier, Black and MacDougal have betrayed him. Tom should be able to take care of both MacDougal and Black. Rosier is a very different matter, though – he is a very secretive man. When are you to meet Rosier again, Alastor?"
"He told us to meet him in three days in his country house."
"Good. Alastor, when you return to Rosier, you will attend to the problem." Moody nodded and asked, "And Crouch?".
"I will meet with him tonight. He will – have a lapse of memory – about the meeting with Millicent Bagnold."
A few days later, both MacDougal and Regulus Black had been hunted down by the Death Eaters and tortured to death. Rosier had been killed while resisting aurors, and Moody got a medal for his bravery in bringing a terrible Death Eater to justice.
---(End of the Chapter)---
(Author's Note: I know many of you are probably wondering about the motivations of Dumbledore. Well, let me just say – he is not on the side of Voldemort. He is just on his own side and he has very good reasons to do what he did.)