See chapter 1 for notes, disclaimer, and everything…
IMPORTANT NOTE: I've finished writing this story (153 pages!!), but I need to format scenes to post them here. Stay tuned.
By the time the new school year started, Crouch Jr had vanished from the Aurors' radars, but Bellatrix Lestrange was still spotted from time to time.
The Minister for Magic was afraid that she'd try to attack Hogwarts to try and kill Harry. Much to Dumbledore's chagrin, magical guards from Azkaban, the dreaded Dementors, were to be stationed around Hogwarts. Dementors were odd creatures feeding on happy memories – and sometimes souls.
Severus was absolutely furious to have such vile and dangerous creatures near the school, but even Dumbledore couldn't reason with the Minister.
The first incident of the year took place on the Hogwarts Express.
As usual, Remus and Severus were travelling with Harry and his closest friends. The two professors were on the window-side; Harry sat with Ginny, Ron with Hermione, and Kelly faced Draco. Pansy, Neville, Blaise and their two appointed bodyguards, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were sharing the compartment next-door with Hermione's protégée since the prior year, Luna Lovegood.
The kids with Remus and Severus were chatting about spells and their next school year. Severus was trying to discreetly encourage Remus to invite Tonks for tea. Suddenly, the train stopped, the lights went out, and cold spread.
Remus and Severus knew what must be causing that, but Hermione was the first to say the dreaded name aloud. 'Dementors,' she gasped.
These creatures weren't supposed to be anywhere that close to the students. One of the Dementors opened the door of the compartment where Harry was, and he observed the people there.
Remus and Severus stood up and ordered the Dementor to leave, as it was obvious that neither Lestrange nor Crouch were hiding there, but the Dementor seemed to have another agenda.
The Dark creature floated closer to Harry, who fainted. Ginny placed herself in front of Harry, but the energy that the Dementor was sucking from her made her dizzy.
Remus cast a Patronus to protect their students, but the Dementor resisted it. Right then, Severus understood that this Dementor must have been ordered to hurt Harry. The Patronus that Severus cast against that Dementor was a brilliant, silvery doe; the magic in it was so strong that the Dementor was thrown against the window-pane in the corridor. Severus sent his Patronus to disperse the other Dementors, and then he focussed and whispered a spell that Ichi had taught him; the creature was fully bound and couldn't escape.
'I'll go store him with the trunks, and I'll send Albus an emergency message,' Severus told Remus, who's started taking care of the kids by giving them chocolate to counter the negative magical effect of the Dementors. 'Kitty!' Severus called.
The house-elf appeared instantly and gasped when she saw that her little friend had been targeted by a Dementor.
'What do you want me to do, Severus?' kitty inquired.
'Take care of Harry. Wrap him in love until I come back,' Severus said.
'Are you sure you don't want me to take care of that thing?' Kitty inquired, pointing at the Dementor. 'I could go to Hogwarts, too.'
Severus nodded; Kitty's message to Dumbledore would be too nice for Severus's taste.
While Severus made the trapped Dementor float towards the luggage compartment, the other kids came to see Remus and their friends.
'Why is Harry still out?' Neville asked, very concerned for his friend.
'Because the Dementor focussed on him,' a very shaken Ginny answered.
The poor girl was pale and shivering as she kept munching on the piece of chocolate that Remus had given her.
'And because he was present when his parents were killed,' Luna added.
'He was too young to remember when it happened, Miss Lovegood,' Remus said.
Luna looked at Remus as if he didn't know the simplest things in the world.
'I'm afraid Luna is right. He didn't consciously remember until that thing sucked happiness from our sweet Harry, and then the latent memory became active,' Kitty said.
'What can we do for him?' Draco asked.
'Be there for him when it overwhelms him, and he starts crying,' Kitty said.
They all nodded.
Harry began to stir when Severus joined them again.
Ginny didn't let go of Harry, but the others moved to let Severus sit next to his son.
'I remember her scream,' Harry gasped.
Not caring that the others saw him weak, Severus wrapped his arms around Harry – and Ginny – and rocked slowly.
Remus gave Harry a piece of chocolate that Ginny urged him to eat, and then Harry fell asleep in Severus's arms. Harry mumbled a "thanks, Dad" that only Severus, Ginny and Remus heard.
Ginny beamed at her professor, who gave her a small smile.
'One point to Slytherin,' Remus said.
'Brat,' Severus said with a small chuckle.
'What's going to happen now?' Kelly asked.
'Headmaster Dumbledore should have Aurors and people from the Ministry waiting for us when we arrive. I want to know who sent that Dementor after Harry,' Severus said.
'It has to be a Death Eater or a member of the Ministry,' Hermione stated.
'We heard nothin' about an attack,' Vincent said.
His friend Gregory elbowed him to remind him to be more discreet. Blaise and Harry had convinced them that the way of the Dark Lord would never be to their advantage, but the two boys still had to improve on their strategy skills in order not to betray their new friends and to reveal their new loyalty.
'Hermione was trying to be a diplomat,' Draco pointed out.
Vincent looked at their Ravenclaw friend, obviously lost. Hermione gave him a sad smile and explained, 'If you heard nothing about an attack against Harry, it must mean that someone at the Ministry ordered the attack.'
'Not good,' Vincent mumbled.
They all thought that the boy summarized the situation perfectly well. The adults in the Order of the Phoenix had always known that there were cowards in the Ministry, but they'd hoped that they wouldn't have enemies there. The situation had just got much more complicated.
Severus turned towards Remus and whispered, 'I have the odd feeling that I'm going to yell in Albus's office even before we start the school year officially this time.'
When the train arrived, Severus entrusted Harry's security and well-being to his friends. It was raining cats and dogs as the carriages took the students to Hogwarts. On their way, in their packed carriage, Harry's friends agreed that they had to train even harder. They knew that they were young, but they didn't want to feel as powerless as when the Dementors had boarded the train.
'What's the spell that Professor Prince-Mallard used?' Pansy asked.
'It's a Patronus,' Harry said.
'You must ask Uncle Remus to teach it to you,' Kelly said.
Her voice was odd, and when there was a stroke of lightning, her friends saw that her eyes were completely black. She had become a full seer.
Kelly's eyes turned back to normal once Harry promised to ask.
'Then, you'll have to teach us,' Ron said.
Draco nodded in agreement, as he said, 'He'll teach you to protect yourself, but if we try to learn it, too, they'll mother us.'
'They could stop us,' Gregory said softly.
'Not if we train in secret,' Blaise suggested.
'But where can we do that?' Pansy wondered.
'We'll have to ask the twins. I'm sure they can find us a safe spot, thanks to the Map Sirius gave them,' Ron said.
'I'll ask them,' Ginny said.
The little Slytherin had her brothers wrapped around her finger.
While the kids were planning to start their own branch of the Order, Remus and Severus used the Floo Network at the station, and stormed into Dumbledore's office.
The guilty Dementor had been taken there. Moody and Tonks had Floo'ed to investigate the incident. The Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, had joined them with his special assistant, Dolores Umbridge.
Fudge was horrified that one of the Azkaban guards had targeted Harry. However, Umbridge didn't look too bothered.
'I said it was a terrible idea to use Dementors to protect the kids!' Moody growled.
'They're too unstable,' Tonks agreed.
'Auror Tonks!' Umbridge spat with pursed lips. 'The Dementors obey the Ministry.'
The civil servant wore a hideous pink suit, and she looked like a toad that had eaten too many flies.
Before Nymphadora could say anything that might anger Umbridge, Moody growled, 'That is exactly the problem, Umbridge. Someone must have ordered the Dementors to look for Harry. We'll need to take this one to Headquarters.'
'What for? Are you planning to try to give it Veritaserum?' Umbridge said as if Moody were a fool.
'There are ways to interrogate a Dementor,' Moody and Remus said in synch. They smiled at each other in spite of the strange situation.
Umbridge squeaked and paled, as if she didn't know that and it bothered her. Her high-pitched voice was even higher when she said, 'I'm sure that Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, must have done something to draw attention to himself. Maybe the child is a Dark creature.'
If Severus could have used the Killing curse and got away with it, he would have, but since it was impossible, he decided to use any and all means to make sure that Umbridge wouldn't be a threat to his Harry.
All his friends admired Severus's self-control.
The first to speak, with Fawkes perched on his shoulder, was Mike – much to everybody's surprise, because Dumbledore's companion was usually silent in the office. 'If this were one of my crime scenes,' Mike said, 'I'd search for anything not in its place.'
'And what would that be?' Umbridge spat.
'The only odd thing here is you, lady,' Mike said.
'Dolores is helping me a lot!' protested Fudge.
'Helping you, or manipulating you?' Tonks asked.
Umbridge glared at the young Auror.
'Cornelius, you should have this Dementor destroyed,' Umbridge suggested.
'You're right. He's too dangerous,' the Minister agreed.
Fudge's obedience was suspicious, and Severus projected a single word – "Imperius" – to Moody, who allowed the invasion of his mind. Even though the Imperius curse was illegal, there was a chance that the witch had used it on her employer to make sure that she could control him.
Since he'd been freed, Dobby had come to work at Hogwarts, and he was quite fond of Mike. The house-elf arrived instantly when Mike called him.
'Dobby, I need you to enter the mind of that Dementor and retrieve the name of the person who ordered him to target Harry. Can you do that?' Mike inquired.
Dobby whimpered, but obeyed.
The magic that Dobby used was not something that Umbridge could comprehend. She cast a spell that only high members of the Ministry could use, and she annihilated the Dementor.
'No need for that interrogation. We'll send a secretary to check that the other Dementors are obedient and still bound to the Ministry,' Umbridge announced.
'We should have Aurors around, too,' Moody said.
'Do whatever pleases you,' Umbridge spat. 'The brat should be safe now. Come, Cornelius, let's go back to your office now.'
Fudge followed her obediently.
'Does "Do whatever pleases you" sound like a carte blanche to you?' Moody asked quietly.
'From where I stand, it does,' Mike answered.
Dobby squeaked and pointed towards the fireplace.
'Is she the one who told the Dementor to attack Harry?' Dumbledore asked.
Dobby nodded, his eyes bulging with fear.
'Why would she order such a thing?' Remus wondered.
'Because she's a power-crazed bitch,' Tonks declared, which made Remus grin at her.
For the first time since they'd met, neither Remus, nor Tonks, was stuttering or blushing or doing anything odd. They were on the same wave-length and completely at ease.
They all chuckled at Tonks's statement, but they had to agree.
'We can't prove what she's done now. The Dementor has been reduced to ashes, and no one would believe Dobby,' Mike pointed out.
'I'll go check on Harry,' Severus announced. 'We can discuss plans during the banquet.'
Tonks looked at Severus curiously as he stormed out of the office.
'Better not even try to imagine what he's really going to do,' Mike told her.
She nodded fervently.
'Tonks, you'll stay here. I want you to protect the kids, order of the Ministry,' Moody said.
'I'll warn the other teachers to be very careful,' Dumbledore promised.
'You should call a meeting of the Order as soon as possible,' Remus suggested.
'Tomorrow night,' Dumbledore decided.
Moody went back to the Auror Headquarters, and worked on warning the members of the Order that they had a new enemy.
The others, including Tonks, went to the banquet. Severus was already sitting at his usual place when they arrived.
When Severus had left the office, he was planning to kill Umbridge. James's words were turning in his head, and he knew that the witch was a real threat. He was choosing a poison he'd invented – something that no one would ever detect – when Kitty appeared next to him. She'd told him that she'd already taken care of the dangerous toad. Kitty had used a Dark spell that would slowly increase Umbridge's paranoia.
Kitty's timing was absolutely perfect, because the next day, Umbridge attacked the Minister for Magic in front of many witnesses and was killed by Aurors, who protected Fudge. Umbridge's death freed Fudge from the curse she'd put on him, and after a quick check-up at the hospital, he Floo'ed to Dumbledore's office to apologize for what the apparently demented woman had made him do.
Fudge was feeling so guilty for not seeing what Umbridge had been doing that he granted Dumbledore everything the Headmaster wanted.
All the Dementors were sent back to Azkaban – and interrogated to check that Umbridge hadn't left some Dark and hidden legacy. Fortunately, she'd used only one to attack Harry and try to discredit the boy, because she thought that he was too dangerous.
It was true that the wizard or witch on the street usually believed that Harry was the one who had defeated the Dark Lord, and most people were fascinated with Harry, as if he were a Muggle actor or rock star – even though Harry's family managed to hide that fact from him most of the times. Apparently, Umbridge had decided that Harry's unsolicited popularity was a threat, and she'd taken measures – measures that had cost her her life.
A unit of Aurors was dispatched to Hogwarts for as long as the two escaped Death Eaters were not captured. Moody and Tonks moved in with a few of their friends. They were all given quarters in various areas of Hogwarts; the castle gave Tonks quarters that were next to Remus's. It made things easier when they started dating.
Harry convinced Remus to teach him the Patronus spell. It took the boy a lot of training sessions, but he managed to produce a complete Patronus. In fact, Remus noticed that the shape of Harry's Patronus was odd; Harry knew that James's was a stag, and Lily's and Severus's a doe. Harry was torn between his two magical father figures, and Remus suggested that Harry relax and focus on his first Protector. Harry's Patronus ended up taking the form of a mallard, which made Severus quite happy – and made him chuckle, too. Harry's Patronus wasn't a big manifestation, but it was extremely powerful.
Harry shared his additional lessons with his friends – and a few other volunteers who'd understood that the war might well be about to start again. The Weasley twins showed them how to summon the Room of Requirement, and the group, whose name was Dumbledore's Brigade, trained in every possible field. They may be very young, but they didn't want to be helpless when the fighting started again. Older students agreed to share more advanced knowledge with them.
There was only one secret, one ability, that Harry shared exclusively with Ginny – he taught her how to become an Animagus. She was making progress, but she couldn't transform yet.
The school year was very busy.
The hunt for Bellatrix ended in the early spring in a strange and disturbing way.
Severus was brewing a potion for the hospital wing, when a Malfoy house-elf begged him to Floo to Malfoy Manor.
Severus threw a pinch of Floo powder into the fire to call Dumbledore and let him know where he was going, and he went to the Malfoys'.
Narcissa welcomed him; she had apparently been asleep when something happened; her usually impeccable hair was a mess, and she was wearing an obviously hastily put-on dressing gown.
'Lucius's killed Bella,' she explained.
She led Severus to Sophie's nursery. Bellatrix was dead on the floor, the room was a complete battlefield, Lucius's clothes were torn and singed, and his long hair was half-burnt. The arrogant Lucius Malfoy was sitting on the floor, his daughter in his arms, rocking the child, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Lucius pointed his wand at Severus's throat.
'I'm here to help,' Severus said.
Lucius didn't lower his wand and said, 'You'll have to report me to the Dark Lord. I'll kill you before I let him have my baby girl!'
'What do you mean, Lucius?' Narcissa demanded.
Lucius nodded towards Bellatrix and said, 'She told me that Crouch has located our Master, and she added that Crouch needed the blood of an innocent, Pureblood child to restore our Master's body. She was about to take Sophie. I had to kill her!'
Narcissa gasped. 'She wanted to give him Sophie?!' she growled.
Lucius nodded. He looked at Severus and said, 'I've killed to protect my children, I'll do it again, Prince-Mallard.'
Severus unbuttoned his left sleeve and showed Lucius that he was free of the Dark Lord's influence.
'How?' Lucius gasped.
'My sister. Voodoo has ways to fight against Dark spells,' Severus explained. 'Will you let me help you?'
'Yes,' Narcissa answered for her husband.
Severus took a deep breath and considered their options. He made a few choices and called Moody and Abby.
Since it would be too dangerous for the Malfoys to have the Death Eaters suspect what was going on, the death of Bellatrix was attributed to Moody. He pretended that he'd been monitoring the Malfoys in the hope that Narcissa's sister would show.
Abby agreed to free Lucius from his Dark Mark. It would complicate their spying activities, but Abby agreed to focus on her gift to warn them about the activities of Riddle and his followers.
Moody pretended that he needed to interrogate the Malfoys, and they disappeared from the face of the Earth. The day after Bellatrix's death, Lucius and Narcissa packed a few things, took Patrick and Sophie and moved to the Mallard side of the Burrow, which the Order had made Unplottable. The Malfoys couldn't go out, but as long as it meant that their family was safe, they didn't care.
That issue was settled, but the Order needed to understand Riddle and Crouch's plans. Severus was the first to come to the most logical conclusion, and he didn't like his deduction.
Between the moment when Riddle had tried to kill Harry – and had lost his body in the process – and the day he'd met Quirrell, the Dark Lord had been gathering energy. When Harry had killed Quirrell, thanks to the traces of Lily's magical sacrifice in her son's blood, Riddle had found himself almost back to square one.
However, as soon as he'd escaped, Crouch went looking for his Master, and the young, ambitious Death Eater came up with a plan to help the Dark Lord. There were potions that would allow Riddle to regain his own body, but those would require a lot of time, and Harry would have to be captured to contribute with a blood offering. Riddle and Crouch were not patient enough for that solution; they decided to take another kind of action. Crouch was so demented and power-crazy that he offered to give Riddle his body; a tiny part of what made Crouch would survive in his body, and Riddle's soul would instantaneously be given a new, younger body.
The Dark potion that would allow Riddle to settle into Crouch's body didn't take too long to brew, but it required the death of an innocent, Pureblood child.
Crouch and Riddle tried to kidnap a baby when Bellatrix didn't come back to them with Sophie Malfoy. That attack confirmed Severus's theory, and Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that measures had to be taken. In consequence, Pureblood parents of very young children were informed of the threat, and Aurors were sent to their home if they felt they needed extra protection.
Crouch and Riddle ordered a couple of Death Eaters to have a child who'd be sacrificed on the altar of this madness.
The plan of the Dark Lord and his most faithful minion was to take over the country and end the war for good as soon as Riddle could migrate into Crouch's body. Until their sacrifice was born to the Macnairs, Crouch suggested an evil plan to capture Harry and kill him. Riddle was convinced that he had to finish what he'd started and kill Harry to fulfil the Prophecy, and then, with the boy out of the frame, Riddle thought he'd rule easily and win the war he'd started decades ago.
The Order of the Phoenix was working to be ready for whatever was coming.
However, the Order was slowed down tremendously when someone at the Ministry decided to revive an old tradition by organizing the famous Triwizard Tournament.
Dark spells had been cast on various people working in the Ministry, so that the idea couldn't be traced back to Crouch – even though the young Death Eater had found a way not to be detected when he worked for his Master.
The Crouches were an old family, and young Barty's mother was deeply attached to him. The night her son broke into their home and captured Crouch Sr, she agreed to help him. The loyal civil servant was imprisoned in his own cellar, his own wife becoming his warden to prevent their son from being sent back to Azkaban – and possibly executed.
Crouch Jr used a cauldron of Polyjuice potion he'd brewed, which allowed him to look like his father as he worked on trapping Harry.
Hogwarts was to welcome the Tournament and accommodate students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons. There was to be one champion for each school – a champion who had to be old enough to know powerful spells and charms in order to face the tasks of the tournament.
The Goblet of Fire, a highly magical artefact, received the names of all potential candidates, and it chose the students who would enter the competition.
Durmstrang's champion was a young semi-pro Quidditch player, Viktor Krum. Beauxbatons' champion was a young woman, Fleur Delacour, who had a bit of Veela heritage, which made her very attractive to the opposite sex. Ron was almost levitating to the ceiling of the Main Hall when the Goblet chose a Hufflepuff, Cedric Diggory, to be Hogwarts' champion.
The fears of the older members of the Order came true when the Goblet spat out a piece of parchment naming a fourth champion: Harry Potter.
The four champions were taken to Dumbledore's office. Viktor and Fleur's Heads, Igor Karkaroff and Madame Maxime, were protesting loudly, saying that Harry was too young and that Hogwarts couldn't have two champions. Crouch, under his father's guise, declared that even though it was extraordinary, the magic of the Goblet was binding. The Triwizard Tournament would have four champions; Crouch pretended to be sorry, but Harry would have to compete with the others. Crouch didn't want to stay too long in a place where Moody could notice something unusual and endanger Riddle's Dark plans; he announced that he'd go back to the Ministry to register the names of the four champions.
As soon as the Ministry impostor was out of the office, Karkaroff and Maxime started protesting again. Their students became rather vocal, too.
Cedric Diggory wrapped a protective arm around Harry's shoulders and cast a spell to silence the others with his free hand.
'Are you all completely stupid?! Harry is underage for this competition, and even though he's quite gifted, he's too young to have tricked the Goblet. If the Weasley twins, however hard they tried, couldn't trick it, Harry didn't do it! It's got to be a plan of the Dark Lord to endanger Harry. I'll protect and help him, and I hope you'll do the same. We should work together against darkness,' Cedric declared.
'Thank you, Mr Diggory,' Severus said as he revealed his presence.
'Zis 'as to be a lie,' Maxime said.
'The only lie here was Crouch. It's not the father, but the Death Eater son. He's using Polyjuice potion. I've read his thoughts,' Severus declared.
They all gasped.
'We must plan our next actions carefully,' Severus paused dramatically. Then he added, 'I'll give you all the choice between two spells. Either I Memory-charm you, or you'll agree to an Unbreakable Vow that'll prevent you from mentioning what I've just revealed.'
Crouch's plan backfired, because the guests and champions all agreed to help.
The adults followed Severus's strategy, working against Crouch without letting him know that they knew he wasn't who he pretended to be and planning things to counter every possible action with Abby's invaluable help.
In the meantime, the students were not inactive.
(Next scene as soon as possible. It's typed and edited… I "just" need to format it for here)