Firstly I apologize for updating the next chapter so late. I have no reason, except that Real Life kept me very busy. Thanks a million for all the reviews and thank you all, for waiting so patiently for my next update. :) Hopefully I'll start updating regularly. I very much intend to finish the fic and soon too (keeps fingers crossed). :)
Harry Potter and the Trip to the Past
Chapter – 28
Dumbledore was very puzzled. It really had been that kind of a year. He was, now-a-days, searching for information about horcruxes; horcruxes of Voldemort about which he had had a suspicion for a very long time. But that had become a certainty, since he saw Riddle's Diary, and he had been making a concentrated effort to try and get any information he could about Voldemort's horcruxes. He was largely unsuccessful.
Snape too was trying, Dumbledore knew, about information on horcruxes and Bellatrix. But there was nothing. There were too many things puzzling Dumbledore these days. Harry was one, Bellatrix's disappearance was another (though he suspected the Malfoys to be involved in that mystery) and then there was always Snape and Dumbledore sighed. So many puzzles and usually he was so good at them, so good at finding out answers, but he was stumped now, he admitted to himself.
Harry; where to begin about that boy really; he seemed to have the power and intelligence of him, Dumbledore; so much more than a boy of thirteen years should in Dumbledore's opinion. And yet Harry seemed to balance it all. He was cheerful, intelligent, smart, friendly and kind. He had hoped that Harry would belong to him; he had liked the boy a lot and had loved his mischievous nature, chuckling to himself, remembering the horror of Severus, when Harry had hugged him.
Harry was also very puzzling; Dumbledore could not make him out; he seemed very mature for his age at times and at other times he seems to blend in with the others; he was also brilliant in magic, which was another thing that confused Dumbledore along with Harry's total acceptance of his life at the Dursleys. The Dursleys had not been kind, Dumbledore's face darkened with anger as he thought of what was surely abuse and yet it did not seem to have touched Harry. It was nothing short of a mystery, just like Harry's Occlumency.
To put it simply Dumbledore was baffled. He was distracted from his rather sombre thoughts by a noise at his window and he turned to see a mail owl flapping its wings impatiently, waiting for Dumbledore to open it. Dumbledore flicked his wand and the owl came in, dropped a letter and flew away.
It was from Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, confirming his acceptance of joining Hogwarts that year as the DADA teacher. Dumbledore smiled as he finished reading the letter. That was one worry out of the way. The Board of Hogwarts had agreed to host the Tri-Wizard Championship in Hogwarts this year and Dumbledore wanted everything to go smoothly.
The Quidditch Cup was also coming in about a week, after which Hogwarts would be busy making arrangements for the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
Beaubatons and Durmstrang would come with their champions. Dumbledore stopped there as he thought of Durmstrang. After all these years he still felt a pang go through him, at the mention of Durmstrang. That was where Gellert Grindelwald had studied and it was because he was expelled from there, that he came to Bathilda's home and showed Albus what falling in love was.
Smiling sadly and shaking his head, trying to clear it of memories which would not go away, Dumbledore stood up, and walked down to the Great Hall. It was summer time and the Hall was empty, the tables stacked against the wall. The Hall appeared huge and oddly silent without the chatter of the students. There was the aroma of delicious food wafting though the open doors and Dumbledore walked in slowly to the Staff Table and smiled at the Professors sitting there.
It was lunch time and Snape, McGonagall, Trelawney, Hagrid, were already there. Smiling at them, he sat down and turned his attention to his plate.
'Alastor has written.' He said a short while later.
Snape and McGonagall looked up at his words. "That is good Albus!" McGonagall exclaimed. "He will be helpful this year with the Triwizard Tournament and two other schools coming."
Snape did not say anything but bent down again. He had been unsuccessful to get any information from Lucius and the summer he was cut off from Harry too, which he missed! He had been shocked when he had realised that. Harry Potter! That boy had become a part of his life without his realizing it. Snape was intrigued by the boy/man and had spent many hours wondering what had happened in the future.
This year Hogwarts had decided to host the Triwizard Tournament and Dumbledore had been worried about what could happen there. Now that Bellatrix had escaped he was even more perturbed and had wanted to call the whole Tournament off, but the Board of Governors' and the Ministry of Magic had assured him that everyone would be safe. Albus had asked for Alastor Mad-Eye Moody as an extra protection, to watch over the students. His paranoia would be helpful during a year that Albus somehow felt would be extremely difficult.
Dumbledore smiled at McGonagall and then turned to Snape. 'Have you heard anything Severus?' meaning news from the Malfoys.
Snape shook his head and slowly looked up. 'I wish I did. You know about the one time I went there after the holidays started, but young Draco told me that both Lucius and Narcissa had gone out. He and Narcissa had both gone out that day, and I understood that Lucius was always working, sometimes late into the evening, which he never usually does when his only child is home for the holidays…I found his mind to be full of fear that his father was somehow involved with Bellatrix's escape.'
'Severus! You didn't!' exclaimed McGonagall, while Dumbledore remained silent.
'Of course I did!' Snape retorted, feeling no guilt. 'I read only the surface thoughts mind you, nothing deeper, just what we had been talking about and I found that his father was away almost everyday and his mother accompanied him at times and Draco had no clue what they were busy with, though I could see his suspicion about Bellatrix.'
Dumbledore turned to McGonagall who had a very disapproving expression on her face and was about to launch into a tirade. 'Bellatrix must be found at all costs Minerva.' He said sombrely, his blue eyes very serious. 'She has the capacity to resurrect Lord Voldemort.'
McGonagall gasped in shock. 'I never thought of that Albus, though when you think about it, it looks very obvious isn't it?'
Snape nodded once. 'I am sure Bellatrix had met with Narcissa, only I don't have proof. I went to meet her and Lucius, wanting to discuss about a rare potion, but they were not at home.'
McGonagall nodded back, very thoughtful. Only she and a few very senior members of the Order of the Phoenix had known that Snape was a spy for them in the first war; Dumbledore had been very careful about just who knew that.
'Well Alastor coming this year would help us a lot then.' She said, still thoughtful and just a bit frightened about Bellatrix and Voldemort.
Dumbledore nodded and they finished the rest of their meal in a rather uneasy silence before they got up to attend to their work for the beginning of the year classes, with some relief, as if moving away from there would also move them away from their problems.
Harry spent a very dissatisfied holiday that year. Grimmauld Place was full and he joined the fun and frolic during the holidays, but his mind was very far away, with Draco, Snape, Bellatrix and Voldemort. He also had to make the decision of whether he should tell Snape about the false Mad-Eye Moody. Barty Crouch Jr. would be the one to come to Hogwarts that year as the DADA teacher and he would kill his own father who had helped him escape Azkaban. The real Moody would be alright, and they would be able to get Barty Crouch Jr. as well, but Harry was still in a dilemma about Barty Crouch Sr. He did not know how to tackle that and save the man.
He participated with all the crazy things Sirius and Remus got up for him and the other Weasleys who joined him for a part of the holidays, with an outward show of enthusiasm, but kept worrying all the time. He received no owls and he did not send any either to Snape and Draco, deciding to meet them in Hogwarts.
The big event of the holidays was the Quidditch World Cup. The day before, Harry, Sirius and Remus flooed to The Burrow and spent the night there, so that they could leave in the morning to the Quidditch Pitch. Harry entered the familiar Burrow, his second most favourite place in the whole wide world after Hogwarts; the last time it had been pushed to third place after his home in Godric's Hollow and Hogwarts in that order. Now every time Harry saw the Burrow he was amazed to find it as it had been in the last timeline. He had been to the Burrow, but not as many times as he had in the last timeline and he certainly was not as close to the Weasleys as he was, Harry thought with a pang as he shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Molly beamed at him and gave him a warm hug, but while it was informal, there was not the closeness that there had been before.
Harry knew that was his fault; he had kept away from Ron and had deliberately befriended Draco and now Harry was friendlier with the Weasley Twins than Ron or, Ginny, Harry thought sadly, as he watched her come into the room and smile shyly at them. He grinned at her and turned to talk to the Twins, who dragged him to their room to show him a few tricks of theirs, which they wanted to play on the Slytherins next year. Harry also knew they would bet with Ludo Bagman; he sighed as he was wont to do every time he came in contact with the family he had loved and which had become his own the last time around.
He walked up to Ron's room, chatted a bit about the Quidditch Cup before going to sleep. Ron was much too excited as he chattered about Krum and his prowess, while Harry was lost in thoughts; another change, he realised was the absence of Hermione; she was not invited to the Burrow, though she had planned to join them the next day, flooing to the Leaky Cauldron and taking a portkey from Diagon Alley to the World Cup site, this time Sirius, providing the tickets for Harry, Remus and Hermione, another change from last year. How Sirius had managed to get the best seats was indeed a mystery. Harry suspected he had pulled some strings with the Ministry about his unfair stay in Azkaban to ask for top seats.
The next morning, the day of the World Cup, Harry was woken up very early, and yawning and stumbling, he walked along with everyone else to the hill, to take the portkey.
As in the last timeline, they met with the Diggorys and the Lovegoods. Harry watched as they all chatted and waited for the portkey to take off. Amos Diggory was as he was the last time, but without his comments to Harry. He was still very proud of Cedric and rightfully too, Harry thought and he looked at the handsome face and hoped that in this time Cedric would live longer then he had the last time.
The portkey took off at the right time and Harry and the others landed a minute later on grass and on each other, laughing and shouting, while Mr. Weasley and Mr. Diggory and Cedric landed gracefully and perfectly. Harry got up grinning, seeing Sirius and Remus on the grass rolling with him. Really they were kids and would not grow up at all. Sirius, Harry thought was a kid still, seeing him talk mostly to the Weasley Twins and laughing a lot; Remus was laughing too, but he was more mature than Sirius.
They put up their tents, waving to the Diggorys who were planning to put up their tents a little further up. This time Sirius had offered to bring the tents and Harry watched as Sirius and Remus put up the massive tent in a couple of minutes. The Weasleys, Sirius, Remus and Harry all walked in and Harry and the Weasleys stopped at the magnificence inside. There seemed a real house inside. Harry and Ron took a bedroom, Ginny would share one with Hermione when she would arrive and the twins would have theirs.
Harry went into his bedroom and dumping his bag on to his bed and then calling to Sirius, walked out to search his way to the portkey destination from Diagon Alley. The whole place was as he remembered it. Wild looking tents, tents looking like buildings, weird looking tents were all there and Harry enjoyed his walk looking at strange tents, waving to kids and smiling at strangers.
He reached the portkey place and was hugged by Hermione who had been waiting for him for some time apparently.
'Why are you so late Harry?' she asked, as Harry took her bag and they set off to their tent.
'Oh, we just reached ourselves and I waited only for Sirius and Remus to pitch the tent, before I dumped my bag on my bed and came straight here. How long have you been waiting?' He said.
'I came some fifteen minutes ago.' She said looking all around her in amazement.
'Is our tent like this?' she asked shrinking a little at one garishly coloured tent that looked like an ugly castle and was emitting some odd smelling fumes from one of its Towers.
'No!' Harry assured her. 'Our tent looks like a muggle tent from outside. Inside, though, it is spacious and kind of big. We are almost home and you'll see for yourself.'
Hermione's expression looked more and more doubtful as she passed various tents and she was not impressed by Harry's remarks. Soon they were at their tent and Harry grinned at Hermione sigh of relief and laughed outright, when she stepped in and gasped.
The tent was huge on the inside. It had a few bedrooms, a kitchen and a drawing room, not to mention bathrooms. Almost everyone was in the drawing room and all of them shouted a greeting to her, which brought a blush to her face. She waved at everyone, accepted Sirius's hug and went to her room along with Harry and sank on her bed and looked around in amazement at the wonders an ordinary looking tent on the outside could have inside.
'How can this even be possible?' she asked Harry.
'Magic!' he replied with a grin and laughed when she hit him.
They spent the rest of the day wandering about the camp laughing at some of the more absurd tents and smiling and waving to people they did not know and chatting with those they knew. That night they went to sleep excited, knowing that they would need to get up early. Harry lay down in his bed beside a snoring Ron, wondering, if events would take place as they would the last time. He had felt his scar twitching slightly, but he had no visions, mainly because he had closed his mind.
Harry had debated a lot with himself as to whether he should or not open his mind and see Frank's death and Voldemort and Barty Crouch/Bellatrix with him, but after thinking greatly on it he had not opened his mind. He decided that he would need to visit his vault, place much of his memories especially of the last timeline into it before he could actually risk opening his mind to Voldemort.
If Voldemort even suspected anything amiss, Harry knew there would be trouble. While he had taken a lot of protective steps to ensure that his mind would be safe, he did not know how powerful the mind link would be; last time in his seventh year, he was able to peep into Voldemort's mind, now Harry wanted to do the same, but before that, he also wanted to remove his old memories. There had been no chance during the holidays and Harry did not want to try until he was safe.
The next morning Harry woke up very early and lay in bed. He wondered what the day would be. A while later, Arthur Weasley could be seen shouting for everyone to get up and Harry jumped out of bed and got ready. Before leaving, he also placed a lot of anti summoning charms to his wand and then left the tent along with the others, greeting Hermione, Sirius, Remus and the Weasleys.
Everyone was in high sprits, and talking and laughing loudly, all of them left for the Quidditch Pitch. Harry entered the stadium, his senses on high alert and looked around as they reached the box, where they would be sitting. It was the same as lat time and Harry looked around for the Malfoys and Winky. Both of them had not arrived. Yet.
Harry settled down in his seat, choosing the one closest to the seats he had seen Winky sit the last time. He would also be sitting just before Draco. Though he would not be able to talk much to him, if at all, Harry thought.
Cornelius Fudge, the pompous and incapable Minister for Magic walked into the box with his Bulgarian counterpart a few minutes later and greeted Arthur Weasley and Sirius. He did not shake hands with Remus, rather looked through him, Harry and Sirius noted angrily. The Minister looked around and saw Harry and beamed.
"Well, well, well, Harry Potter." He said loudly, smiling, and extended his hand. Harry shook it gingerly, trying not to let his dislike show. "Mr. Fudge." He said, trying to smile. It came off more as a grimace. Cornelius Fudge, though, did not notice. He beamed at Harry and introduced the Bulgarian Minister to Harry particularly and to everyone else generally and escorted him to his seat.
Harry remembered that the Bulgarian Minister knew English, but was pretending not to and watched amused at Fudge's attempts to explain many things. Harry sat down and looked around. There was no Winky and an empty seat beside her still. He wondered when he saw Mr. Barty Crouch Sr. walk in briskly to talk to Fudge. Harry tried to overhear, but it was difficult with the noise around him and he gave it up as a bad job, when Mr. Crouch shook hands with Fudge and the Bulgarian Minister and walked out again.
Harry was very curious to know what Barty Crouch had done with his son, but he had to keep quiet; he could not ask, naturally. He sighed inwardly and turned his attention to the crowd, when he heard a soft drawl behind him. Harry went quite still, before he turned to see the Malfoy family. Lucius Malfoy, his wife Narcissa and Draco, the Malfoy family was there. Harry stared at Draco for just a minute before turning his attention to the elder Malfoy, who had finished greeting Fudge and was looking sardonically at him. Harry's eyes narrowed just a little bit and he looked back at Lucius, allowing a small sarcastic smile to fall on his face, thinking of the Diary.
Lucius seemed unperturbed by the hostile looks he was getting from the Weasleys, as he slightly dipped his head in an inquiring manner and murmured 'Harry Potter!' As if he had only just heard of him and was seeing him for the first time. Harry stared back and glared at Fudge as he finished bowing and greeting Narcissa, who looked as if she was trying hard not to throw up and was now asking Lucius Malfoy to sit down. Arthur Weasley had by then forced his children to sit down in their seats and Remus was trying to make Harry do the same. Sirius had glared at Lucius and hearing Narcissa's mild sniff, was now almost growling at her and glaring at Draco, alternatively. Draco was very quiet. He was between his parents and after looking at Harry, he was trying to blend into nothingness. He did not look up at Sirius, but was staring with fascination at his hands, which lay clenched in his lap, betraying his tension.
'Well, well! You know Harry Potter!' Fudge had boomed.
Lucius nodded carelessly. 'Who doesn't know the Boy-Who-Lived?' emphasising slightly on the words "Boy-Who-Lived" making it sound insulting.
'Yes!' nodded Fudge, not seeing the way Sirius's and Harry's expressions had changed. 'He is the Boy-Who-Lived. The boy who vanquished He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.'
Lucius nodded. 'Indeed! Mr. Potter has rendered great service to the Wizarding World. We must all be grateful to him.' He said with a laugh and watched amused as Fudge nodded his head, oblivious of the sarcasm in Lucius's voice. He was about to reply, when the announcements started and he turned away, leaving a tense group glaring at an amused Lucius Malfoy.
Sirius was about to jump on him, snarling, when Remus dragged him back and had whispered urgently to him. Arthur had done the same with Harry. 'He's not worth it Harry. We've come here to enjoy the game. Let's not allow him to spoil it for us.'
Harry had sat down, reluctantly, glancing one more time at Lucius and Narcissa, who was looking as disdainful as possible. Harry thought he could just see a hint of worry in her eyes. Harry's eyes narrowed as he turned away to enjoy the game, which went on like last time. Ireland won, though Victor Krum of Bulgaria caught the snitch amidst great cheer. Harry saw the Twins cornering Ludo Bagman and turned to see the Malfoys rising to leave. Harry and the others also stood up shouting excitedly about the game. As they turned to leave Harry noticed there was no sign of Winky or indeed anyone else. Barty Crouch Jr. had not come. The Malfoys left with Draco, who gave Harry a brief look, before he turned to follow his mother, his father walking ahead of them with Fudge.
Harry was completely flummoxed. His head was spinning with all kinds of things. Why had Winky not come? Where was Barty Crouch Jr.? Why did not Barty Crouch Sr. bring him to the game? Then the Dark Mark? Who would make it appear in the sky? Harry wondered for a second, if Lucius would cast it, feeling frustrated. What would happen today? Why had it not happened like the last time?
The rest were chattering happily abut the most spectacular match. 'Did you see it Harry?" Ron asked, from behind.
'Err... What?" Harry turned startled out of his thoughts and he hastily summoned a weak smile.
'The fantastic chase Kipper gave Krum when he was…" Harry nodded and grinned at all the right places, when suddenly there was a loud noise, almost like an explosion. All of them looked at each other as Arthur and Sirius just paused for a minute before setting off almost at a run towards the noise, nodding at Remus, who did not waste a minute as he started leading them towards their tents. Harry's heart began to pound as he ran with the others. Soon they reached their tents and packed up quickly. Remus brought down the tent and in five minutes, all of them hurried out, wondering and slightly scared about the explosion.
The noise, panicked screams and the shouts were completely different from the excited shouts and chatter that was present only a few minutes before. People were hurrying just like they were; all of them trying to get to the portkeys and get to their homes as quickly as possible, when suddenly there was a scream and a loud clear voice shouted "Morsmordre". People stopped hurrying and as one looked up into the sky where there was a frightening skull with a snake from its mouth. The Dark Mark. A moment later, there were louder screams and frenzied shouts as mothers called to their children and fathers packed up the tents, before running to the nearest exits.
But Remus did not allow them to stop and stare. He hurried all of them to the place from where they would take their portkeys and waited there for their turn without allowing them to ask questions saying that he would answer them when they reached home safely. They ran to the portkey point and managed to get hold of their portkey and then they were swirling through the air and landed in the woods near the Burrow. Remus herded all of them until they reached the Burrow. He explained shortly what happened to a surprised and rather shocked Molly who was in the kitchen and had not been expecting them so early. Telling Molly that they would be in touch, Remus, Harry and Hermione flooed to Grimmauld place. From there, Remus waited only to tell Harry not to leave the house for any reason whatsoever and hurried out with Hermione, not even giving her the time to say her goodbyes to Harry properly. He dropped her at her home before heading back to the Quidditch Stadium to help Sirius and others.
The Quidditch Stadium was in utter chaos. Some Aurors were running into the Stadium from portkey destinations, towards the Dark Mark sign on the sky. While others had stood by the portkey destinations and were checking the wands of every one who was leaving and at the same time trying to stop the panic among the people. Harry and Co. were the few people who had managed to leave the Stadium without detection, since they had left within minutes of the appearance of the Dark Mark. Sirius, Remus, Arthur, Barty Crouch Sr. and other Ministry officials were rushing among the people and trying to help them pack and point them towards the portkeys and at the same time trying to keep a look out for anyone suspicious. But there was no one.
It was well into the evening before Sirius and Remus came back to Grimmauld Place. Both of them looked extremely tired and exhausted. Harry took one look at them, before he pushed them into the kitchen and filled their plates with the food he had cooked and kept under warming charms. He did not ask any questions until they had finished eating and was about to open his mouth, when Sirius smiled tiredly. "I'll be a minute Harry. Let me just have a wash. I'll tell you everything then." Remus nodded and ruffled Harry's hair and Harry was made to wait for some more time before Sirius and Remus came down cleaner but still tired.
'What happened, Sirius, Remus?" Harry asked anxiously, unable to wait anymore. He had stayed in Grimmauld Place and had obeyed Remus's order's, not wanting to go back, since that place would be swarming with Aurors, Ministry officials and Order members, not to mention Death Eaters. He had waited in patience and all alone for Sirius and Remus to come and tell him what happened.
"Six people were killed Harry and some twenty people are injured." Sirius said abruptly, making Harry gasp in shock. How had that happened? No one had died last time. "Merlin! How?" he asked and a second later, "Is it anyone we know?"
"No kid." Sirius said, and Harry felt terribly ashamed of the relief he felt. While those who had died today were not known to Harry, they were still people with families who would be mourning them. "How did they die?"
"We heard a huge explosion, did we not?" Remus answered Harry, who nodded. "Someone had cast an exploding spell at the Stadium, and a small part it collapsed. Luckily the strong spells placed on it by the Ministry workers held fast and the people who died were those exiting it. Otherwise more people would have been affected."
"Who was it? Was he caught?" Harry asked eagerly.
Remus shook his head. "No Harry. We don't know who they were and how they were able to cast such powerful spells. Six innocent people whose only fault was to come to the Quidditch Cup died." He finished bleakly.
The rest of the holidays were spent quietly and it was with some relief Harry got ready for his fourth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
End of Chapter – 28