Disclaimer: Full quasi-legal disclaimer in Prologue. However, if you do in fact still believe that anyone beside Jo Rowling and several corporate entities owns any part of Harry Potter, then please meet me for lunch tomorrow at Joe's Bar and Grill on Third and Main, your treat of course.
A/N: Caution! Character bashing ahead. If you really and truly still like the two youngest Weasleys and the MOB after reading HBP and DH, then you might not like some of what happens in this chapter. And, for anyone who forgot, MOB stands for Manipulative Old Buz… er, Bas…er, Bustard (a cross between Buzzard and that other word). I've corrected that deficiency now, I think, in the first chapter. I also just found out there actually is a bird called a bustard, go figure.Chapter Four: Please Don't Let Me be Misunderstood
In a part of the forests of Albania seldom visited by people, and only then by those of extremely stout heart, a wraith-like entity experienced agony as the snake it had inhabited for some few weeks began dying. The large snake's death throes were painful for the entity because it had not anticipated the death of the creature it occupied, as it normally would have. This was occurring much sooner than expected. The entity had been plotting on how to make its "associates" pay for all the years it waited for their assistance. In this state of absentmindedness it had not realized quickly enough that the creature was expiring sooner, it had to admit, than they usually did. It wondered momentarily if it was getting stronger. as it seemed at times, and if this was the reason the creatures seemed not to be lasting as long.
Finally the wraith was able to extract itself from the wretched snake, leaving the creature to those agonizing final moments. It drifted into a tree where it holed up awaiting its inevitable return to greatness, while continuing its contemplation of how to strike even more fear into the hearts of some of those it had counted on. The fact that it had failed with that bloody fool a year previous at Hogwarts, stymied once more by that Potter brat, incensed it and made the waiting that much harder.
In the only bedroom on the topmost floor of a house, just beneath the attic, a rat slept rather soundly in the sun of the window sill. Time had been good to the rodent and it had had little to do for nearly twelve years now. Occasionally it would sneak out of the house at night and transform into the human it was born as. Then, Apparating to Ottery St. Catchpole or some other small village, it would enjoy an evening in a pub filling itself on a good meal and ale, while partaking of the gossip and occasional free entertainment. Always it was careful to return as soon as the pub closed and sneak back into the ramshackle home, unnoticed by any of the occupants.
The rat had been rather amused that the Potter boy had stayed with the family and him, said rodent right under the bastard's nose, not to mention through two whole years at Hogwarts. Also, it knew it should not have been possible for the little whelp to have escaped his master, apparently, twice more now. But he knew, as well, that one day the Dark Lord would return, and dreamed of the day when he would help the master to become great once again. Of course those dreams always showed the rat/human rising to greatness himself soon after.
Far to the north, on a barren bit of land laughably called an island stood a stone fortress as forbidding as any ever known, the kind of place to give saints nightmares. In an average cell was a not-so-average prisoner. Few were ever sent here who were totally innocent. Although, a few now and then were temporarily incarcerated by some asinine Ministry moron who "had to be seen to be doing something for the safety of the populace". However, this prisoner, while never in danger of sainthood, was in fact totally innocent of the charges for which he was deposited here.
Another difference about this prisoner was that he was still quite sane, and the reason for that was because he was innocent and knew it, along with one other oddity about him. The man was an animagus and could turn himself into his animal form, wherein he was less affected by the loathsome things which guarded this barely habitable fortress.
The Dementors guarding Azkaban normally drove anyone there imprisoned insane within a few years at most. But this man had been here more than a decade, nearly twelve years in fact. Still, he was not exactly the picture of health either. The poor conditions of the prison coupled with the effects of the foul Dementors had taken their toll on the once handsome and fit young man. Now, at thirty-four years of age, he appeared much older, well past fifty at least. As time went on, he seemed to age even more rapidly. While he hadn't seen a mirror since being entombed here, he felt the difference and often wondered when it would all end, one way or another.
He had only two things to live for now; he longed to see, and probably kill, the one who had framed him for the horrendous deeds the Ministry and public believed him responsible for. And he yearned to see his only godson one more time. If he could only achieve those things some day it would all be worth it, or so he told himself. If only…
Speaking to the DMLE Head, Harry stated, "First, I have to ask you a couple of questions, Madam Bones." She inclined her head in acknowledgment, so he continued. "If I were to give you information on the whereabouts of a person who framed someone else for what was believed to be a terrible betrayal and several murders, and then could help you locate an escaped Death Eater who was removed by his father from Azkaban, would you take that all at face value and utilize it to bring justice to all four?" He noticed Professor McGonagall's eyebrows rose considerably on the first item, and assumed she knew who he meant.
Madam Bones looked taken aback for a moment, but nodded although she looked sceptical, and asked, "Within reason, of course, Mr Potter; but what is this about?"
"If you could bear with me until I get there in the tale I must tell, I'll explain what I mean shortly, ma'am. My second question for you, if I may, is that if you had such information, would you be willing to act without revealing the source." He was fairly sure the witch would do this for him, but was somewhat surprised, actually, that she wasn't interrogating him already.
Amelia was wondering where the boy was going with all this, but given his history, she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. She was thoughtful for a moment, then put on a sly look and replied, "I believe that if you were to give me sufficient cause to believe you, Mr Potter, I would do everything in my power to honour your request and bring those people the justice they deserve or have been denied without bringing your name into it if at all possible. I think I can honestly say that most of my life and all of my career have been dedicated to the pursuit of justice and truth." She also thought to herself that with where the young man's questions were leading, she was glad she'd had supper at the Ministry in a meeting with some other department heads. It seemed like this could take a while.
"Thank you Madam, and I have to ask you, all of you really, to be patient with me so I can tell all of this in mostly one go. It will make a lot more sense if it is all taken in context." Harry thought for a few more seconds, knowing he was stalling because he didn't want to appear completely foolish, or mental. At a slight hand squeeze from Hermione, he straightened his shoulders and leaned forward to take a drink from his glass.
He gave his friend one more smile and then a pleading look. "Hermione, what I am about to tell could affect how you might think and feel about me. I hope it won't, though, because you really are the best friend I could ever ask for. Please remember that, alright?"
She looked very worried at that, but said, "Alright then, Harry. I know you'd never intentionally hurt me, nor would you do anything too terribly wrong unless it was to save someone, or for something very important. You've proven that a few times already."
He nodded his appreciation and added cheekily, "Besides, this is where you get all that luscious information you've been craving since this morning."
Acting very mature, she stuck out her tongue at him, and swatted his arm playfully. Everyone laughed, though Minerva, observing the interplay between the two children, felt a chill go down her spine. It was odd, but somehow she knew she was looking at the future leaders of Wizarding society. She was quite intrigued with what young Harry had said so far. However, she was also hesitant about what he could possibly have to say that would need such promises of secrecy. She too knew his history, far better than Amelia, so she was willing to listen patiently to him for now.
Harry tried to put all his feelings into the look he gave Hermione as he smiled softly and said, "Okay, here goes then. I'm afraid this may sound somewhat disjointed at first, but I'm going to try to relate what happened in chronological order." He looked over the adults then, who appeared concerned, or sceptical in the case of a certain law enforcement official, and then called up his Gryffie courage again to start his crazy tale.
"This morning when I woke up, I thought I'd had a very weird dream. It felt like I was a thirty-seven year old me trapped in my twelve year old body. I was blubbering over having Hedwig back, because she had been killed the summer after we finished our sixth year at Hogwarts." Hermione gasped, so he smiled reassuringly at her, and aside to Madam Bones he added, "She's my owl." He continued, saying, "To say the least, I was really confused because if it was a dream then it was the most vivid one on record."
He could see from the looks of the others that they were wondering where he was going with this. "To be clearer as to why that is important, it wasn't long until I realized that this was not merely a dream, but something much more. They were… future memories for lack of a better term. "
"It was very early, and I sat there talking to… well, to myself for a few minutes, although arguing with myself would be more like it." He swallowed and grinned sheepishly before going on. "I was eventually able to convince the future memories, or personality I suppose, that I was in charge of this life and that it was going to take a back seat to what I wanted. To say the least, this was all quite bewildering, but I soon realized the memories could possibly be very important. Over the next few hours, I gained enough control to where I could shut off those memories, the... uh... personality, at will and be the one in control." He smiled, hoping they all understood that, but didn't want to take time to speak more about it just now.
"That is what I've been doing almost all day," he continued "except for when I was writing in this notebook," which he laid his hand on. "You see, I remembered everything, in a general way, that's occurred for a bit more than the next 24 years. But the important topics for the moment are the things I asked Madam Bones about and, what relates to Voldemort and his second war." Having dropped the bombshell, he waited for the reactions which ranged among total disbelief from Hermione, to utter shock from the older witches, to considerable bafflement by Jack and Dianne. Of course the older witches had flinched at the casual use of the name.
After giving them a moment, he asked, "Jack, Dianne, you do know who that is?"
Jack replied, "Yes, Harry, we both read the books about the Wizarding World we bought Hermione when we found out she was a witch, but we were under the impression he was dead!"
"Yes, technically I killed him that night nearly twelve years ago, but vanquished would be the better term. Many believe he is still around, and he is, I assure you, as a sort of ghost. It is, in fact, a portion of his soul." The older witches gasped at that and he grimaced at them. "I'll explain that another time, if I may." They nodded, so he went on. "According to those memories, he was resurrected and then started another war, one which nearly devastated the wizarding world."
The boy paused then and Amelia thought, "And here I was all set to visit briefly and go home for a nice relaxing evening. Hmm, on second thought, this could be a lot more fun."
Next to her, Minerva was thinking something similar. "Well, you had to come see the boy was alright, now the cat's among the pixies, as Arabella would say." She chuckled quietly.
Jack and Dianne were thinking variations on the theme, "What the fuck? I know wizards come up with some weird shit, but wow!"
And sitting next to Harry, the young witch thought, "Okay, Hermione, you've been through some really strange things with Harry, so just buck up and be cool. You really like him, and it's obvious he likes you, so not to worry, right? Er, alright, we know the Wizarding World contains a great many ancient and little known magics, so who knows what could have happened? Just be cool, this is your best friend no matter what happens! Yeah, that's it." She smiled in encouragement at Harry, hoping it didn't look like a grimace.
Done collecting his thoughts, Harry grinned and went on, "After getting myself sorted, and since I had time this morning, I decided to write down everything I could remember from this future that was so vivid in my mind. So, for the next couple of hours, before I had to fix breakfast for the Dursleys, I wrote down everything I could remember happening over the next five years, and well beyond that."
"I think I'm going to need a lot of help," Harry told them, "which is why I asked all of you to hear this. However, let's get on with the story. Er, mostly, I'm just going to hit the high points and bring out what I was speaking of earlier, Madam Bones, so you don't strangle me over the suspense." He grinned at her and she smiled back.
Amelia was thinking, "How does this kid know what I might be thinking. He sure has my attention, though. I've seen some strange magical effects in my time, so who knows?"
Harry continued, "Getting on with it, I wrote what I could remember for a couple of hours until it was time for me to make breakfast for my relatives. While doing that, I had time to think, and naturally remembered more things for the notebook. I also thought of a lot I can do to short circuit his return, which happened at the end of our fourth year by the way. But, perhaps the most important of what occurred to me was an idea on how to verify that I hadn't dreamed or imagined all of it."
"Hermione can tell you," he added, grinning, "that my imagination is fairly good, but not that good." They all smiled a little at that.
"Now, for something I think you'll find rather interesting, Professor," he smiled at his transfiguration teacher, "this is where what I asked you about earlier comes in. After breakfast, when I had gotten the kitchen all spiffy for Aunt Petunia, I sat down for tea at the kitchen table, where she was reading a magazine, then asked her a simple question." He looked at Hermione, as he said, "I asked her if she had ever known someone called Severus Snape."
He grinned at the girl's look of surprise, and then glanced over to see an equally shocked expression on McGonagall. Continuing, he said, "She instantly looked horrified and started to ask how I knew him, but then vehemently told me she didn't want to know if I had met that devil incarnate, or how. The 'devil incarnate' bit is a direct quote, just so you know."
Minerva and Amelia both seemed pensive over his revelation. He could see they now understood why he'd asked about his mother and Snape earlier.
For clarification Harry added, "Petunia's reaction is why I'm reasonably certain the memories are real. Not sure of anything else I could use to verify it right now aside from that Arthur Weasley will win the Daily Prophet Annual Galleon draw soon, whenever that is held. There's also another event in the near future, which I'll talk about next, because I'd like to prevent it if possible."
"As for how Petunia knew Snape, it is because when they were all children he frightened her and my mum with a bit of magic, and then explained magic to my mother and told her she was a witch and he a wizard. Later on, at school, I think my mum tried to be nice to Snape because that is the way everyone says she was. I'm also fairly sure he deeply regrets that my mum was killed, because in part it was as a result of something he did. I seriously doubt, though, that she ever knew he carried a torch for her all those years."
Hermione interjected, "You had no way of knowing, maybe even from a conversation you might have overheard and forgot, that Petunia knew Professor Snape? And how do you know he had feelings for your mum?"
Shaking his head, he answered, "It wasn't until around five years from now when I learned about Snape knowing my mum before they went to Hogwarts. He is not from a pureblood family as he'd have everyone believe, just so you know," he smirked at Hermione's huge eyes. "Apparently his mother was a witch, but his father was a Muggle. Truthfully, Hermione, if I'd heard anything like that I'm sure I'd remember it because they never spoke about my parents except to say they were… awful people." He'd told them all about that earlier, but it still elicited growls of anger and frustration from the others.
"What you say about Professor Snape's ancestry is quite true," Minerva put in, "and it is a secret he guards very jealously. I'd caution you from even letting him know you know it, and even more from spreading it about. It could conceivably cost him his life."
Harry and Hermione both nodded solemnly in reply to her admonition. He then told the confused looking Jack and Dianne, "There are still a great number of Death Eaters at large, that's what Voldemort called his followers. His whole thing was to promote so-called pureblood supremacy," which caused the three witches to snort, but he went on, smiling at them, "and if any of them found out he was not a pureblood they wouldn't take too kindly to it. I'm surprised he's still alive, truth be told, given that Professor Dumbledore made it clear he was a spy for him after Voldemort was vanquished."
The elderly witch nodded in approval, then said, "On another note, I believe the way you speak now, as opposed to your normal speech lends veracity to your claim as well, Harry." Hermione voiced her agreement.
"Now," Minerva went on, "not to change the subject, Mr Potter, but I didn't tell you this earlier and I should have. I argued with Professor Dumbledore the night he left you on that doorstep. I wish I had been more adamant with him because I already knew what they were like, and for that you have my most sincere apologies."
Harry smiled sadly at the stern witch who could also be so kindly. "Professor, given what I now know about the illustrious headmaster, I doubt very seriously if you could have talked him out of that. Later I can tell you more as to why, but it really is spilled potions now, all we can do is try to rectify it as best we can." He was surprised at being able to keep most of the sarcasm out of his voice when referring to the MOB.
The older witch's response was, "Thank you, Harry, you are a very wise young man. I've always felt there was much more to you than most would think."
He smiled and blushed at the compliment. To Hermione, he said, "I'll answer your question about my mum a little later, if that's alright."
With a small smile, the young witch replied, "I can wait, Harry. I believe in you." Nothing else really needed to be said aloud, as they gazed at one another. Their silent exchange was as clear to them as if they voiced their thoughts.
The level of unspoken communication between the two again amazed the Grangers, along with Amelia now. Minerva just smiled to herself, she'd seen this before several times and it always reminded her of Harry's parents in their last year at Hogwarts.
After the few moments of silence Harry asked, "Alright then, back to the story?" At affirming nods, he chuckled and grinned cheekily, "This ought to blow a few minds, and Madam Bones, this is one of the items I referred to before. In a couple of weeks Fudge is going to visit Azkaban and be surprised that Sirius Black, who is my godfather," Hermione gasped, but he kept going, "is as sane as he still is. He will ask for the newspaper Fudge is carrying, saying he likes to do the crosswords. What Black will see on the front page is a picture of the Weasleys in Egypt where Arthur will take the family for most of a month with his winnings from the Prophet's annual galleon draw. In that picture Sirius will see something that will cause him to start muttering, "He's at Hogwarts, he's at Hogwarts", over and over."
Harry could tell that this pronouncement gave the older witches the same conclusion it had in the last timeline. They were instantly sure the infamous murderer was after his one missed victim. That the young wizard could then see on their faces that they were starting to doubt that conclusion, told him they were following his story closely.
"Shortly after that he will escape from Azkaban, which, supposedly, no one has ever done before." He explained the prison to the Grangers, and then went on. "Needless to say, the whole Wizarding World will get extremely upset, and a lot of really bad things happen because of it. They even tell the Muggles to keep an eye out for him. I can tell you more about that later if you want, but first I want to get to the point of this.
"At the end of our next year of school Hermione, Ron Weasley, Remus Lupin, and I would find out Black didn't do what he was thrown in prison for, without benefit of a trial I might add." The last was said bitterly and then aside to Dianne and Jack, he explained, "Black was supposed to have betrayed my parents to Voldemort. Peter Pettigrew is the man who Black reportedly murdered along with a dozen Muggles. The two of them, along with a man named Remus Lupin, were all very close friends of my parents. Lupin is probably going to be the next Defence teacher." He grinned at McGonagall who had a stern, if inquiring, look on her face.
"Now here's the rub," Harry went on, "Sirius, my dad, and Peter became animagi in their fifth year so they could help out their friend Remus, who just so happens to be a werewolf." Hermione gasped at the animagi revelation and again at the werewolf comment, but he ignored her momentarily, busy smirking at McGonagall who had a hand over her mouth in extreme surprise. Amelia indicated she knew of Lupin's condition, but was also surprised the boys became animagi so young. He clarified that even though Remus was a werewolf Dumbledore had let him attend Hogwarts and explained the precautions taken.
He turned to the girl beside him and told her, "Yes, Hermione, it is very difficult to become an animagus, but my dad became a Stag, Sirius a large black dog that looks a lot like the mythical Grim, truth be told, and Pettigrew is a rat." He fairly spat the name and genus of his form, then added acidly, "Rather apropos considering what he did later," he added with a touch of anger.
"Despite what Professor Dumbledore told the world, and I have reason to believe he knew the truth but I can't prove it, Peter Pettigrew was my parents' secret keeper, not Sirius Black. It was the rat who betrayed us to Voldemort," the two older witches cringed again, "and he was the one who blew up the street and killed all those people." Harry smiled a bit when he said, "Sorry, I know that name makes you uncomfortable, but frankly the… creature just pisses me off." The two older witches nodded that it was alright, but looked pensive at his revelations.
To the Grangers, who looked a bit lost again, he said, "An animagus is someone who can transfigure themselves into a specific animal form at will. And even though Lupin is a werewolf there is now a potion he can take which makes him into just a docile large wolf on the full-moon nights. The rest of the time he is one of the kindest, gentlest people you'll ever meet."
They nodded looking amazed by it all. "We knew about witches and wizards being able to transform into animals," Jack said. "We just didn't know what they called it. Professor McGonagall demonstrated when she visited before Hermione's first year. It still seems so fantastic, though."
Harry then added, for their benefit and Hermione's, that his parents' home had been protected by the Fidelius charm and explained how that worked. Upon finishing, his younger personality seemingly took over automatically and he realize he'd used several swear words in telling his tale so far. He blushed and apologized to everyone, but it was waved off as nothing of consequence given who and what he'd been discussing.
Getting back on track, Harry said, "The reason I'm telling you all of this, is that I'd rather try to get Sirius cleared before Fudge's visit to Azkaban, or at least have a trial scheduled. I know exactly where the rat is; I've shared a dormitory with him and my four roommates for the past two school years."
He was treated to two identical shocked gasps and cries of outrage from Hermione and McGonagall. He merely nodded and went on, "From that picture of the Weasleys with Wormtail on Ron's shoulder, that's Pettigrew's nickname by the way, Wormtail, Sirius will know he can catch him at Hogwarts in September. Fudge, in his infinite stupidity will station Dementors around Hogwarts this fall in hopes of catching him. If you were look closely at the rat in the Prophet picture, you'll notice he's missing a front toe. How much of Pettigrew did they find?" He explained that reference to the Grangers, and about the foul creatures which guarded Azkaban.
Never let it be said his head of house was slow on the uptake. Minerva growled, "Ronald Weasley, and his brother Percival before that. Why did it never occur to me how long that rat has been around. They never live more than three or four years at most, and that makes it over seven years old since I know Percy had it before coming to Hogwarts." She then looked angry and quite pensive.
Madam Bones looked extremely shocked at that disclosure, but then assumed a calculating look. As well, she appeared to have several questions, but held them when Harry raised his hand to forestall her for a few minutes. "Madam Bones I know this all sounds fantastic, but I can and will start proving this in a short while, at least as best I can." Again she nodded her assent and assumed an air of highly interested patience.
He thought for a second, and because he didn't want to keep putting her off too long, Harry smirked. "I can in fact show you partial proof right now, I think. Would you care to cover me for a small bit of underage magic, ma'am?"
The woman had to admit the lad had her thoroughly intrigued, especially after Minnie's comment about the longevity of the Weasley's pet rat. She smiled and said, "If it will help us get the ball rolling in clearing your godfather, then by all means, Mr Potter, feel free. I will take care of any repercussions."
He was fairly sure his magic was strong enough for what he had in mind, so he asked, "Hermione, Professor, have either of you ever seen or heard of me having any special lessons?" Both voiced their denial, so he asked, a bit sheepishly, "And you both know I'm not the greatest student and not inclined to study much on my own, correct?" They both nodded again, smiling quizzically at him.
He smiled and pointed his wand out into the garden, he'd drawn it so fast none of them but Amelia saw it come out, and she only barely. She was impressed, to say the least, and was about to be even more amazed.
Thinking of how Hermione was beginning to make him feel, Harry said in a calm voice, "Expecto Patronum!" Prongs leapt from his wand fully formed and investigated the garden for enemies for a couple of minutes before it came back to him, bowed and dissipated.
While Prongs put on his show, the others were speechless for a variety of reasons. Jack and Dianne were, for the simple fact they rarely got to see much magic. Hermione was in awe, proud, and slightly jealous of her best friend. Minerva had never heard of a twelve year old able to cast a N.E.W.T. level spell that casually, let alone a corporeal patronus which most adults had trouble with, if they could do it at all. That it happened to be one of her young Gryffindors didn't hurt her pride in the least.
Amelia, however, was astounded because, while most Aurors, and many of her MLE officers could cast one, none she knew of could do it so effortlessly. And that was setting aside how few people in the entirety of Wizarding Britain could create one and keep it distinct and fully formed that long. "For that matter," she thought," the bloody thing looked almost alive and real, like you could touch it." She again looked calculatingly at the lad for a bit.
Harry smiled at all the adults and his dearest friend, hoping they all understood at least in part why he had done that. He told them then, "I had to learn that from Professor Lupin, this coming year because the Dementors make me pass out." To the still shocked looking people around the table he confirmed, "As I said, according to the memories he will teach Defence this coming year, at least I hope he does. He was the best one we had, so far as the memories tell me, which unfortunately isn't saying much. He's good, though, and I hope he can stay on this time, werewolf or not. He was outed by Snape at the end of the year," the youngster added distastefully.
Minerva's eyebrows rose considerably when another thought occurred to her. She asked, "Didn't you say your father's animagus form was a stag, Harry?"
He grinned and said, "Yes, it sure was, and my Patronus was amazing to both Professor Lupin and me, though I didn't find out about it until some months later."
The Professor replied, "That was absolutely astonishing, Harry. We must speak of this another time." He only nodded in response.
Amelia spoke next, saying firmly, "You have my undivided attention, Mr Potter; I know few people who can cast a patronus that well. Given your age, I'm surprised you aren't exhausted, but then given the strength of the accidental magic you performed earlier today I don't suppose I should be."
Harry smiled at the compliment and ducked his head, blushing a bit. He was still alternating back and forth between using the memory personality and his own, so that his reactions were mostly that of a twelve year old.
"Thank you ma'am," he replied. "I was pleased, frankly, that it was you who came this evening. Last time around, in those future memories or whatever they are, when I did something similar later in the summer it was Fudgehead himself who caught up with me. Fortunately, though, he didn't seem to take the incident too seriously, and told me he just wanted to make sure I was safe. He said circumstances change, and that they didn't go expelling students for blowing up their aunts. I then I pointed out that's exactly what they threatened last summer when a house elf levitated a pudding and they assumed it was me." Harry knew he had a sour look about him at that statement.
While the others either sucked in their breath or didn't quite see the irony in that statement, Amelia laughed outright. "Oh, Mr Potter, I think we are going to get along famously. It seems we both have the same opinions of certain people." She smirked, first at him, and then Minerva who couldn't help but smile, nodding but not voicing her own opinion which Amelia knew they shared. All reasonably intelligent people in Magical Britain thought that way about the largely ineffectual minister. Few could understand how he'd been elected at all. The elderly Auror didn't tell her long-time friend what she thought about Albus Dumbledore, an opinion that was rapidly further degrading as the evening wore on.
But then, in a friendly tone Amelia asked, "Mr Potter, may I call you Harry?"
He nodded assent, saying, "I'd like that, ma'am."
"Good, then you should call me Amelia when we are in informal settings like this. In my office and such I'd prefer you use a more formal title, please."
He grinned, "I think I can do that, Amelia." He tried out the name and found he liked being able to address someone in that way whom the future memories told him he'd always admired.
"Good," she replied. "That goes for you too, Miss Granger, if I may use your first name as well."
Hermione blushed but smiled, "Yes, ma'am, that would be fine… er, Amelia." She blushed a bit harder.
The woman laughed lightly but then turned serious once more. "Harry, you said there was at least one more person who was an escaped Death Eater I believe?"
"Yes, Amelia, however, let me give you a bit of background before I amaze and astound you with that bit of skulduggery and slight of hand, so to speak. In our fourth year some moron decides to resurrect the Triwizard Tournament. I was forced to compete when my name came out of the Goblet of Fire, even though it was put in there by the same Death Eater I'm speaking of, and despite that it was supposed to be restricted to people who were at least seventeen. And all that is besides the fact that Dumbledore put enchantments up which were supposed to guard against entry by underage wizards. I was stuck competing, because it was a purportedly binding magical contract. I never questioned that, and Dumbledore insisted because of it. I'll get to my feelings about him as relates to these memories later," he added a little darkly.
"Our Defence Teacher that year was the infamous Mad-Eye Moody, known far and wide as the single most paranoid man, wizard, and retired Auror on the face of the planet."
Amelia laughed again, "You hit that on the head, Harry, described my old mentor and friend to a tee."
"Yeah, he's great, and I do like him despite that. I just wish he had actually been our professor." To the bemused looks all around, he said sourly, "Instead he'd been captured by that same damnable Death Eater, held in his own trunk for nearly a year, and used as a component of Polyjuice potion. Namely, his hair was said ingredient. Now, for the grand finale: the Death Eater I'm speaking of was taken out of Azkaban by his father at his mother's insistence, her dying wish if you will. When they got permission to visit, because she was dying, she switched places with him using Polyjuice. He has been held in his home under the Imperius curse and often hidden under an invisibility cloak ever since. Sound familiar, Amelia?" She looked thoughtful, so he sweetened the pot. "His father put him there."
The light of understanding came on in her eyes and in Minerva's, and both then took on very hard looks. Amelia appeared decidedly un-amused, in fact.
The DMLE Head's voice was hard as titanium steel when she ground out, "Are you telling me, Harry, that Bartemius Crouch is keeping his own son under the Imperius Curse, and that his wife is buried under Polyjuice out at Azkaban? And further, that the grave which supposedly contains her body is empty?"
Harry's eyes were just as flint hard as hers at that moment, and she knew without a doubt he told the absolute truth. "Yes, Amelia," he responded, "Barty Crouch Junior, who willingly helped torture Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity using the Cruciatus Curse, is right now in his father's home, and most likely under the Imperius. I'm sure that someone on your staff can determine long-term use of that horrid spell."
Her voice softened when she replied, "Yes, Harry, we can. We can also determine approximately how long it has been in use on a person."
He merely nodded, knowing that was true from the future memories. "Good," he said, "because I really want to see both of those criminals in prison!" Harry was only slightly less adamant than earlier about Pettigrew. He added, "Crouch Senior, is one of those responsible for that blasted tournament, though I have to wonder just whose idea it was in the first place. I'd be willing to bet that can be laid at the feet of a certain manipulative old miscreant I'd rather not speak of at the moment. Besides which, Crouch threw Sirius in Azkaban without a trial or anything. How can that be right?" he asked rhetorically. "Beyond that, though, I shudder at the thought of what those people did to Neville's parents."
He was leaning forward to speak with Amelia, but then Hermione put her hand on the inside of his arm. He looked around at her and sat back. She was wide eyed at all he had just revealed. She asked, timorously, "Harry, did that really happen to Neville's parents? How do you know that? Oh," she blushed, "the future memories, right." She turned with a raised eyebrow to the other two witches.
Amelia was lost in thought, but Minerva looked down for a moment, then back up to smile sadly. "Yes, Miss Granger, what Harry says is true about the Longbottoms. They were outstanding Aurors and good friends, as were Harry's parents. I dearly miss them all. I do hope, though, that you'll not mention this to Neville. It really is his secret to tell, or not, as he chooses."
Hermione's look was also sad, when she replied, "Of course, Professor. I rather assumed that anyway, but I appreciate you saying so."
Harry nodded his agreement to Minerva and turned to Jack and Dianne. As he explained the three Unforgivable curses to them, especially the Cruciatus and its effects to them their eyes filled with horror.
Trying to lighten the mood and thinking he was joking, Jack said, "Harry, lad, you sound like you've experienced that one a few times."
Harry sadly told them, "I'm the only known person to have survived all three of them intact, if these future memories are true. I can throw off the Imperius fairly easily, or at least I have several times according to what the memories tell me, and have been under the Cruciatus more times than I care to remember, frankly. The one from Voldemort was the worst, though there is little difference between one foul caster and another."
All three witches were appalled, but Amelia was also intrigued. "Harry," she asked, "when and how did you learn to throw off the Imperius?"
"Fourth year, again if the memories are correct. The fake Moody put us all under it to see who could throw it off. I doubt that earned him many points with ol' Voldie who tried it on me later in the year and I threw his off too. But then Moronister Fudge had Crouch Junior Kissed before anyone could question him more thoroughly beyond what the headmaster did when he was discovered, so then I guess it didn't matter what Voldie thought. Mr Crouch Senior, was killed earlier that year by his son."
Amelia paled, choking out, "As in Kissed by a Dementor?" Minerva was just as pale. Harry nodded, and then explained that to Hermione and her parents who all then looked sickened at the concept.
"Shall I move on, then?" He asked. Amelia and Minerva both nodded distractedly, so he took up the story again.
"What I remember is that, at the end of that blasted tournament, I was kidnapped by a portkey arranged by Barty Junior, in what would be two years from last month I was then used in helping resurrect old Snake Face by having some of my blood forcefully taken. Of course Fudge, in all his idiotic glory, refused to believe he was back and to get the Wizarding World ready for him. So, the only ones prepared were us and some friends of ours," he looked fondly at Hermione as he squeezed her hand, "as well as a group Dumbledore organized during the first war." He winked at Professor McGonagall, who returned it smiling slightly. He noticed out the corner of his eye that Amelia seemed amused at the by-play.
"To put it mildly, the next three years were difficult with one thing after another going wrong. Sirius was killed at the end of fifth year, before he could be proven innocent. Then Dumbledore was murdered at the end of Sixth, but was dying anyway. He stupidly allowed himself to tamper with a cursed object, and the curse was slowly killing him. I can head that off, I believe, with a little help.
"Obviously, I'd first like to head off the death of my godfather and to get him freed. He really is a good man, despite what the press has made of him. And I want to see both Crouches in prison where they belong; the senior of the duo is every bit as bad as Junior, in my opinion. He threw quite few people in Azkaban without trial. That seems to be a constant in this wacked-out world we inhabit. Fudge put poor Hagrid there just this year, because he 'had to be seen to be doing something'."
"Please don't ask me to speak of the object causing the headmaster's death for now, because that is absolutely Most Secret information. It should only be spoken of, for now, in the most secure locations, such as your office, Amelia, and then only with strong silencing charms and a thorough sweep for listening spells and devices. In addition, there are some other, similar, objects which need to be recovered and destroyed. One already has, and I know where all the rest are, but it may not be all that easy to get to two of them. It could, in fact, take some difficult negotiating to get at least one of those, but the good news is that I might have a way of doing so."
"So, to finish at least this part of the story, in the end it came down to me having to fight Tommy-boy and kill him five years from now. Hermione, Ron, and I didn't return to school that year since we were trying to seek out some of those items I mentioned. The biggest problem is that one of those may be exceptionally hard to destroy without killing the person it… erm, accidentally became lodged in." Though he knew none of them likely had the slightest inkling what he was talking about, he got the feeling from their looks they knew exactly whom he was speaking of. Hermione's hand tightened on his ever so slightly.
There was still enraptured silence around the table, so he added, "Hmm, by way of proving myself, a bit more, Amelia, there are a couple of other things I should have no way of knowing about. The Departments of International Cooperation and Magical Games and Sports are already negotiating with Durmstrang and Beauxbatons for the tournament."
Amelia was astonished, and as she was already mostly convinced of his veracity she nodded and smiled conspiratorially at him. He returned the smile in kind, adding a wink.
"One other thing," he went on, "and I know this is a long way off, but the Quidditch World Cup will be held here in Britain next summer, and the teams in it will be Ireland and Bulgaria. Ireland will win simply because their Chasers are all but unstoppable, but Viktor Krum will catch the Snitch for Bulgaria. The ending score is really close, don't remember exactly, but there's only a few goals separating. Bulgaria can hardly score a thing, while Ireland runs over them. Krum gets the Snitch because he knows they are going to lose anyway and he wants it to be on his terms."
He smirked and winked at the adults, adding, "In case anyone wanted to make a bet with great odds." That got him a few chuckles. "Just don't place your bet with Ludo Bagman though, he's deeply in debt with the Goblins. You might want to investigate that, Amelia." He smirked after she looked thoughtful for a moment, then somewhat feral. It was obvious to Harry she didn't like Head of Magical Games and Sports. He was fairly sure she didn't care for Barty Crouch either, given how angry she had seemed earlier.
"Amelia, I don't know how our activities over the next year might change things and affect events at the World Cup, but probably they won't. After the match is over I recall a ghastly occurrence, which I imagine will very likely still happen. Late that night, while everyone is still celebrating, a bunch of arseholes…"he paused to blush and said, "sorry for that." It was waved off again by all the adults. "Anyway, some former Death Eaters put on their cute little costumes, terrorize the World Cup camping area, and torture the Muggle family who manages the campground."
Harry knew he probably looked as fierce as a twelve year old wizard could at that point. But then he realized he was squeezing Hermione's hand harder, and he had to consciously make himself relax so he didn't hurt her. He'd been looking down for a moment, lost in the memories, and now he raised his head to give her a look that said, "Sorry, my friend". She gazed back with a small smile of understanding. He returned the smile, though sadly.
Looking over at Amelia who had a thoughtful, if somewhat sick look, he said, "I hope you can do something to catch those… people."
Her determined gaze told him she'd do all she could about controlling the bastards. And she replied, "You can bet there will be Aurors and MLE personnel there, hidden, who will make sure they get what is coming to them, before they can do much, if any, damage. Anyone caught in Death Eater garb is still subject to certain laws. And now we can disprove any attempt to claim the Imperius, as we spoke of earlier. That detection spell is fairly new, developed after the farce of so many of them escaping justice by claiming to be under that foul curse."
He looked across, then, at Jack and Dianne, hoping they wouldn't think he really was nutters and chuck him to the kerb, while calling the authorities to have him locked up as a menace to himself. They didn't seem angry, or even particularly disturbed, but they did look rather concerned. He smiled, a bit sadly and they smiled back warmly, as if trying to bolster his confidence in his situation. His smile widened, as did theirs and he felt better seeing at least tacit acceptance.
Not feeling like talking more about his future memories for a few minutes, or even experiencing them for a bit, Harry shut them off. That helped to clear his mind some. He wanted to avoid the inevitable queries for a moment, so he told everyone, "I know you have questions, and I will answer them in a few minutes. But it makes it hard for me to be myself while I'm doing that, accessing the other memories, I guess you could say. Would anyone mind if we talk about other things for a few minutes so I can get me back in control of myself? He grinned at the small joke, which did elicit some chuckles from the others.
Amelia, Professor McGonagall, and Hermione all seemed poised to ask what he was sure would be a torrent of questions, and he noticed Jack and Dianne had a few of their own it seemed. After his request they all relaxed some and nodded or voiced agreement.
Harry smiled then at everyone and quipped, "So that is how my morning went." After a few chuckles he continued. "After Petunia got the doo-doo scared out of her, she was rather amenable to me ringing you," he nodded to the Grangers, "and coming to visit. I can't tell you how grateful I am just to be out of that house, even if it winds up being for only a few days. They make me crazy, as I'm sure you sort of sussed by now, but with what I know now, I don't want to stay there no matter what." He quieted then, looking around at the concerned faces of his friend, her parents, and two older witches. These were the people he regarded higher than most anyone else in Britain.
Ever the good hostess, Dianne asked, "Would anyone care for more tea?"
At that moment an owl came swooping into the garden, dropped a letter in front of Harry, and was heading back out when Amelia commanded, "Halt! I will need you for a reply." The surprised looking owl turned back to land on the waterfall of the pool, and calmly awaited the return missive. It did avail itself of the flowing water to get a drink, however.
Harry picked up the envelope and showed it to Hermione who was shocked to discover it was addressed to both of them. She panicked for a moment as she realized what the letter was and who it was from. Harry smiled though, and that calmed her as she remembered what Madam Bones, Amelia rather, had said.
Dianne, who'd been in the act of getting the tea things together so as to freshen it all, paused as the owl left its letter. Seeing her daughter's pale and frightened expression, and naturally being concerned, she asked, a moment ahead of Jack, "What is it dear? Is it bad news?"
Amelia answered, saying "It is likely from the Improper Use of Magic Office, and will be a warning about the Patronus charm having been performed adjacent to them. It is always assumed that if magic is performed near an underage witch or wizard in a muggle household that they are the perpetrators. One must provide proof otherwise if they did not do so."
Harry asked, "Just out of curiosity, Amelia, what would happen if I actually had to fight off a Dementor and used that charm but not very effectively. Would anyone be sent to see if there was a good reason for me having done that?"
Hermione chose that moment to jerk the letter from his hand and rip it open, almost angrily it seemed. She hissed, akin to Crookshanks in a bad mood, when she read the contents.
Amelia ignored the angry young witch for a moment, though she did give her a benevolent smile which seemed to calm the girl a bit, and replied, "That is a very good question, Harry, and you will not like the answer, I'm afraid. The official Ministry position is that the Dementors are all under Ministry control and therefore not going to bother anyone. Consequently the use of a Patronus, except by Ministry personnel is not normally responded to, without due cause for us to expend the resources. Not that the Aurors have had that much to do lately, and Merlin knows the MLE officers aren't really over-burdened at the moment either. But, that is the political climate under Minister Fudge."
She was nearly smirking when she added, "I do, by the way, like your references to him, quite appropriate, for one of his ilk." The matronly witch then grinned like a school girl. After a moment, she added, "But I'll vehemently deny it if you tell anyone that." She was still smiling, though.
Beside her, Minerva snorted in a manner neither of her students had ever heard before. At their inquiring looks, she stated, "Let's just say, Mr Potter and Miss Granger, that I have heard nothing here this evening about the Minister with which I disagree, and let it go at that." She looked rather stern, but there was a hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth and her eyes were dancing, almost twinkling like Dumbledore's when he was highly amused.
That all gave everyone a good laugh and was an excellent tension breaker for the seriousness of the last hour or so. Harry read the letter and passed it on to Jack and Dianne who read it together:
Dear Miss Granger and Mr Potter,
We have received intelligence that a Patronus Charm was used in close proximity to the both of you and at Miss Granger's residence at two minutes before seven this evening.
As you know underage wizards and witches are not permitted to perform magic outside of school and any further spellwork on the part of either of you may lead to your expulsion from said school (Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, 1875 Paragraph C).
We would also ask you to remember that any magical activity which risks notice by members of the non-magical community (Muggles) is a serious offence, under section 13 of the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy.
Mr Potter, please note this is your second offence and as such members of the Magical Law Enforcement will be visiting your location shortly to investigate the circumstances. You must present yourself and your wand for this investigation at that time. If you are found in violation of the statutes you will be prosecuted under the above mentioned laws. If you fail to make yourself and your wand available at that time, you will face even more serious prosecution under the law. When you are located your wand will be confiscated until after you are prosecuted, at which time it will likely be snapped and you expelled from school permanently.
Enjoy your holidays!
Improper Use of Magic Office
Ministry of Magic1
Dianne absently handed the letter off to Minerva who perused it briefly, her eyebrows rising and her ire increasing even more at the mention of Harry possibly being expelled. That would happen over her dead body. And if it did, then she'd tutor the boy herself with a wand procured… elsewhere. Even if she had to do so as a ghost.
Taking the letter from Minerva's hand, which she noticed trembled a bit, Amelia was surprised to see the thinned lips and narrowed eyes indicating extreme anger in her old friend. She decided to lighten the mood a bit, after perusing the letter briefly. She said in a joking tone, "Well, I shall just have to disabuse Ms Hopkirk of certain notions, which I know for a fact she has adopted from the Minister's Senior Undersecretary."
This joke, however, also fell quite flat as Harry immediately growled out, "Umbridge."
At the inquiring looks of the others he stated, "The Amazing Toad Woman, according to the future memories, was our purported fifth year Defence Professor, if what you want to call what she did teaching." Seemed he couldn't shut the memories off as easily as he thought.
Amelia looked amused, despite his tone, as she told him, "Yes, Harry, the very same. It would tickle me no end to discover something on that… witch that could get her kicked out of the ministry."
Oddly, at least to the kids, Minerva nodded and fairly hissed at that statement. It was fairly obvious she knew and disliked the woman as much as Amelia did.
The latter dug a quill and ink out of somewhere on her person, and penned an acidic reply to Hopkirk's missive advising that she was on the premises, and warning that they would be talking in the morning as to who had the right and responsibility to discipline children accused of violating statutes. She then called the owl back to her and attached the note to its leg and sending it on its way back to the Ministry. Apparently it arrived back before a squad of the "ever vigilant" MLE officers could be dispatched.
Harry grew thoughtful, and, much as he hated to, opened the future memories fully again. For a couple of minutes he ignored the conversation around him, vaguely noting Dianne disappearing to get more tea, though the teapot was already filled and hot thanks to Minerva. He dimly took notice that Jack mentioned he'd talked with his friend, Alden, and they had agreed to combining a bit of business with a lot of pleasure on the morrow.
After a time, the young wizard came out of his thoughts to hear Jack and Dianne explaining to the older witches how they knew Alden and his family, and that they had a very large surprise in store for the family. It was a light-hearted moment, in an evening of, so far, dark conversation and was appreciated and needed by all.
Moments later, they all had another good laugh when a second owl appeared, apparently due to the conjuration and charm Minerva had cast on the teapot. Amelia commanded it to halt, once again, and gave it back the letter instructing it to return it to Ms Hopkirk. The owl looked extremely confused, but flew off nonetheless.
When that laughter died down, Harry smirked at Amelia and asked, "How would you like get shut of Madam Umbridge," he sarcastically stressed the honorific, "and at the same time take down or remove most if not all of the Death Eaters and their sympathizers from the Ministry? Hmm, come to think on it, doing that should unseat his Fudginess as well." His smirk became even more pronounced.
For a while they discussed the idea and its implications and possible ramifications. The discussion continued for some time on that and other topics. Harry spoke of some of the other things to have occurred which he stated he truly hoped they could head off or minimize. He told them of how the Ministry had become so much more enlightened after the war, and asked if at some point they and perhaps others could brainstorm on how to accomplish that without a war.
Jack interrupted a short ways into the discussion to ask what everyone wanted for supper and to invite Amelia and Minerva to stay. The former dithered a moment, finally saying she'd love to stay regardless that she'd already dined, if they didn't mind. The latter accepted graciously. The consensus was to order in Chinese food, and the two older witches were surprised at how good it was, Amelia having been tempted into having some despite having eaten earlier. She had a small helping of each dish before they finished. Warming charms on the food, supplied by the professor, increased everyone's enjoyment and little remained after the meal.
At one point they discussed Harry's future living arrangements and he secured promises from both Minerva and Amelia to assist as much as they could in him moving his abode from the Dursleys to the Grangers. The Deputy Headmistress also promised to run as much interference with the MOB as she could. She and Amelia grinned wickedly with how they could bury the man under mountains of parchmentwork over the next while. Amelia said she might be able to start a very on-the-sly, ultra-secret investigation into his involvement in Harry's placement as a toddler and into Sirius' imprisonment without trial. She explained that, to her cop side, some things just "smelled wrong" there.
The two older witches stayed much later than either had intended, learning a lot from Harry, and thoroughly enjoying the two children as well as the two Muggle parents. As the evening was winding down Harry became pensive again and told them all, "I am desperately going to need the support of all of you, and truly hope I can count on it in the coming months and years." He received firm promises of support from all.
Actually, he didn't especially care what changed in the long term. He now knew how to head off certain events and how to corral the threat to his life, his friend's lives, and all the pain the second rise of that snake would create. In that moment he vowed to stop it. He would tell Hermione everything else about it soon and together they would become a force to be reckoned with. He hoped Ron and their other friends would join them, but he and Hermione had always been at the heart of it, and always would be.
A/N: This may seem somewhat like a "place-holder" chapter as there is no particularly new information. But the way the story is told, who is involved, and a few other things buried in the rhetoric are very important to the story. This is, quite literally a pivotal chapter. The chapter title is from another Animals song, "Don't Let Me be Misunderstood". I added the first word, which is part of the tag-line in the song.
1With some minor changes and one inserted paragraph, this is quoted from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Bloomsbury Edition, pg 21 © 1998 J. K. Rowling.