Well this was a surprise. I wrote the first chapter (vicious little bunny) anticipating that I might get one or two favorites or reviews out of it – what the hell, I write for me anyway. I got a LOT more than that. Thank you all. I even had a chance to squee since Clell65619 was one of them. Ahem. Far too dignified, yes…. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the second installment.
Word of warning: I only write with a very vague outline. I'm not that far along in writing skill beyond the 10 page theses essays. So if I stumble, your constructive criticism – and tolerance – is appreciated.
Hermione felt that if anyone ever needed a definition of chaos, all they needed to see was a picture of the Great Hall after Harry's abrupt departure. Aurors and students were laid out, food was spilled, and Hermione's ears were ringing.
Hermione regained her feet as quickly as she could; combat-stunned twice in short order meant she was a little slower than most recovering. Taking a quick inventory, she realized that yet again Harry had broken her wand. It seemed she wasn't the only one as Dumbledore helped the visitors in the great hall regain their feet, if not their equilibrium. Every Auror who had come, including Madam Bones, was now short their wand. Many students were likewise disarmed, particularly the Slytherin table, as they had been on their feet eager to see the show. With the otherwise sole exception of Hermione outside of Slytherin, every one else appeared to be fine, if shocked.
Hermione was cognizant of her surrounding enough to see the show of the day, however. Susan Bones, the nominally-quiet Hufflepuff, had just gotten to her Aunt's side. Madam Bones looked as if she was about to hug Susan when Madam Bones received a resounding SLAP instead. A tirade from Susan quickly followed.
"Every single person in this room owes Harry their lives and in some case their souls. He saved us from Death Eaters, Dementors, and who knows what else, and you just hounded him from the only place he ever felt safe. We all tried to help him, every of-age Hufflepuff female offered him our own open-end contracts – most more than willingly -- but he couldn't trust our contracts, couldn't trust us – all thanks to the Ministry trying to interfere with his life; a life he has put on the line time and again without hesitation or reward."
Madam Bones reeled, but tried to bluster back. "It's the law, Susan! We have to enforce order…"
"And you know damned well that that ridiculous law never should have passed! An unjust law is not even a law but a perversion of law! Who taught me that! Worse, how could you even have the gall to try to enforce it!" Susan raged.
Stammering, Madam Bones backed up as Susan continued. "If you were being coerced or forced by your position all you had to do was talk to Harry. Harry helps EVERYBODY who asks." Here Susan looked to take a deep breath and blinked away tears, but she continued. "Instead you come in here like Death Eaters and draw your wand on your precious national hero. Let me assure you, you sealed the fate of each and every one of your careers! It doesn't matter how badly the public wanted that thrice-damned law, they won't tolerate your attack on Harry when it comes out in the press!"
Turning her rage on the disarmed Aurors, Susan almost roared out "I hope you're all very proud of yourselves for your resounding bravery today."
Hermione stood there, her mouth slack-jawed as she watched Susan Bones stalk proudly from the hall, the entirety of Hufflepuff house suddenly rising and following rapidly in her wake. And the worst part of it all, Hermione was suddenly humbled by the knowledge that Susan Bones had just stood up for Harry with all the rage and fury of a valkyrie – and had sounded just like Hermione should have wanted to in defense of her friend.
Terry had just come to Hermione's side and tried to help steady her when Hermione collapsed again, this time in tears.
In the day that followed, Hermione wandered around in a daze. She managed to make classes and meals (and another wand appointment with Ollivander), but that was about it. She did manage to keep up on the gossip regarding Harry, however.
Susan was prophetic in her defense of Harry. Every Auror who had come to Hogwarts with the assignment of capturing Harry was on immediate administrative leave without pay, including Madam Bones. Kingsley Shacklebolt was assigned to lead the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Hermione found it interesting that in his first press interview with the Daily Prophet following the appointment, when asked about capturing Harry, Kingsley's immediate, but measured, response was "I am charged with the temporary responsibility of Magical Law Enforcement in Britain, and will uphold the law to the best of my ability. On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust." Hermione took it as a good sign.
Susan also had a public visitor, after a fashion. Hedwig had arrived during breakfast the day following Harry's escape bearing flowers for Susan. Hedwig had delivered them to Susan, who had sat there quite stunned until Hedwig had barked gently at her. Susan had then removed the flowers and quietly read a small card attached. Hermione barely heard Neville murmuring "that's appropriate" to himself.
Leaning over to Neville, Hermione asked quietly, "What's about the flowers is appropriate, Neville?"
"What Harry chose. It's an interesting arrangement, I didn't know he knew all the meanings – it's more of a pureblood thing. It looks like he sent tea roses, snapdragons, white zinnias and narcissus, and the centerpiece is nasturtium. He sent her a message. 'I'll remember always', 'Gracious Lady', 'Goodness', 'Stay as sweet as you are', and finally 'Victory in Battle' or 'Conquest'. It's an appropriate thank you for what she did for him."
"What she did?" Hermione queried.
Neville raised his eyebrow at her. "Yes, you remember, her very public defense of Harry yesterday? Standing up for him… something I think everyone in here would have expected that you should have done. She all but spat in her Aunt's face – her only living relative – for Harry. Did you mean to imply there was more to the occasion than that?"
Hermione could only flush red and return to inspecting her meal.
The next morning at breakfast, the Daily Prophet landed in front of many of the Hogwarts students, including Hermione. The entirety of the front page was dedicated to a picture of Harry and his escape from Hogwarts.
Harry Potter, British no more?
By Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet Correspondent
In an escape as stunning as that of Sirius Black four years ago, Harry Potter has left school, denounced his British citizenship, and presumably fled the country all within a single day.
In accordance with the popular National Bloodline act and as reported yesterday, Madam Bones and a ten-man squad of Aurors went to Hogwarts to uphold the freshly-signed law. They expected to peaceably arrest the Victorious Harry Potter, Slayer of Voldemort, and force him to come to the Ministry of Magic to accept a randomly chosen marriage contract.
What the Auror squad instead received was a piece of pie. Humble, if you please. Harry Potter resigned from Hogwarts, denounced his British citizenship, and defeated all who stood against him in the Great Hall of Hogwarts before fleeing from the country.
Eyewitnesses at Hogwarts later reported that Susan Bones vehemently defended Harry Potter to the trounced law enforcement squad led by her own Aunt Bones, then-head of the DMLE, quoting "'An unjust law is not even a law but a perversion of law'". Our readers might also be interested to know that Miss Bones also received a bouquet of flowers from Harry Potter's own well-known owl the next day, thanking her for her efforts. The way to this man's heart may not be through his stomach!
While our inquiry yesterday as to the apprehension of Harry Potter to temporary head of the DMLE Kingsley Shacklebolt was vaguely rebutted, the Minister of Magic (mopping his head profusely) had this much to say.
"The law is the law for every citizen in the land. Those in the Ministry are tasked with upholding every law justly and we will continue to do so. Harry Potter has committed a felonious act by resisting arrest and attacking Aurors and will face punishment appropriately. The National Bloodline act will be enforced."
Supreme Mugwump and Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore volunteered a quote as well. "The days of He-who-must-not-be-named are behind us, Rita. Free wizards – and witches – should not have to worry about the loss of their own free will and seek out their own desires." It should be noted that while our Chief Warlock used the proper name for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, we continue to censor it for our reading public.
This reporter attempted to contact Mr. Potter in an effort to publish a statement. We are certainly not the only institution to do so as the Associated Wizarding Press has rumours of Mr. Potter in every Wizarding country in the world, from as far away as Christchurch, New Zealand and Alaska in the United States, all of them seeking an interview and apparently wishing to play host to the Victorious Harry Potter.
But we at the Daily Prophet were fortunate in that Harry Potter's own owl brought us a letter and we are pleased to report its exclusive, albeit brief, contents. 'I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery'. This reporter believes the quote speaks for itself.
The ICW Council at the United Nations was in emergency session yesterday, and while the reasons are unknown it is assumed that the cause is the request from Harry Potter for asylum internationally. More news to follow.
~Life on the Hag Vice Squad, Page 4
~"Business is booming", says Ollivander. Page 5
Finally, on the third day following Harry's abrupt departure, Hermione snapped out of her stupor. Harry was gone, temporarily she was sure, but he wasn't dead. She could still talk to him. She could still apologize and try to make it up to him. She could still try to help him. But to do any of that she would have to find him.
With a purpose once again, Hermione found herself in front of the gargoyle to the Headmaster's office. Tapping the gargoyle's head, Hermione said "Hermione Granger." After a few seconds' pause, the gargoyle began to turn and open the staircase to the Headmaster's office.
"Miss Granger, a pleasant good morning to you. How can I assist you this morning?"
Hermione took the seat furthest away from a glaring Fawkes and quietly said, "I'd like to help Harry, and I don't know how. I don't know where he is. I don't know how to find him, and I need to find him so I can at least apologize to him. I'll do whatever it takes." A tear slowly rolled down Hermione's cheek.
"Ah", sighed Dumbledore. "Regrettably there's little I can do for you yet, Miss Granger. Harry 'did the deed' well with his escape. Where he is I truly do not know, though he has been kind enough to let me know he is safe and comfortable, if more than a bit angry at the moment.
"However, it is also likely I shall see him soon. After the emergency meeting of the ICW at the United Nations yesterday, the ICW received post from Harry indicating his willingness to speak to the open council about the current difficulties in Britain, both for him personally as well as politically as a whole. I could use an assistant at the hearing, perhaps…" Dumbledore trailed off here.
"I would be glad to assist you at the hearing if you'd let me, sir" Hermione nearly begged. Five minutes was all she needed to at least beg Harry's forgiveness, to make their friendship right again.
"Oh, I daresay it will be an educational experience regardless, Miss Granger. The reality of the situation in Britain, though the Ministry doesn't seem to be aware of it, is that the extraction of Harry's fortune from Gringott's would have a massive impact to Gringott's Britain, the Ministry, and even Hogwarts. And since Harry couldn't, on the whole, care less about the Ministry or Britain at the moment, and since the Ministry has threatened to take him and his fortune by force, I would not put it past him to remove his fortune to a safer haven, such as the Swiss Gnomes."
"You're saying that Harry can bankrupt the Ministry?"
"He can bankrupt us all, Miss Granger, Muggle and Magical alike. Consider, if you will, Miss Granger. The Potter fortune, along with the Blacks, the Malfoys, the Longbottoms, and the Lestranges, originally making up the majority of the Wizarding economy of Great Britain. Gringotts would take the collective funds, invest them as capital for loans, home ownership, and the like – typical banking trade. The goblins profit, the shareholders profit, borrowers earn their holdings. Now consider Harry. Through birth, inheritance, and combat he is now the holder of the Malfoy fortune, the Lestrange fortune, the Black fortune, and the Potter fortune. That leaves the Longbottom fortune as collateral for Gringotts. Capital funding vanishes overnight. Properties are impossible to purchase and businesses can't borrow to continue to grow. Large purchases stop and subsistence and survival becomes the mainstay of our economy, with no new capital to help it out. Then you add in Harry's social case, which shows the erosion of human rights – his, to be specific – in Britain on the world stage. Government lending vanishes from Britain on the Muggle side as well. Overnight, we lose our power globally, cannot gain funding economically, and we're socially ostracized on the world stage. Tell me, Miss Granger, what you think happens when a major economy on the world stage takes a sudden downturn?"
"The global markets… would follow."
"Precisely. It truly is a world economy, Miss Granger, a world marketplace. If a market such as Britain, with our once-strong currency, tanked overnight, markets would falter in confidence if nothing else. Worldwide depression, all because of the mistreatment of one human being."
"Harry would never do that!" cried Hermione. "He would never risk the livelihood of so many people."
"I believe as you do, Miss Granger. But I also believe that a person can only be pushed so far. Would you suggest to Harry that he allow the Ministry to take his fortune as well as his freedom? I can say with a certain amount of confidence that Harry would not allow that to happen. There may be other solutions, certainly, but I feel safe in saying that Harry would rather see the British Ministry fail and fall than lend them another galleon."
Hermione sighed and then said, "I'll help if I can – but I'll help Harry first. The Ministry can rot for all I care. When do we leave?"
"The ICW anticipates a rapid response from Harry, Miss Granger. It is highly likely we'll meet in session again as early as tomorrow."
Author's note: I have seen the flowers and their meanings used in one other fanfic. I would attribute it properly but it has been some time since I read that tale and I read a LOT of fanfic. If anyone has thoughts on which one it might be I'd be glad to check and give credit where credit is due.