An Inconvenient Truth
After the events in third year, the wizarding world grows darker. Fudge seems intent on spending more time covering up what's happening than dealing with it. Covers 4th year.
The story picks up at with the escape of Peter Pettigrew. The story examines the question, could a stronger relationship between Harry and the Bones family change history?
The major characters in this story include Harry, Susan/Amelia Bones, Pettigrew, Voldemort, Sr/Jr Crouch, Lucius Malfoy, Moody, Scrimgeour and Fudge. It illustrates a different set of scenes and PoVs than what JKR gave us in book 4. The divergence from her tale centers around the idea of Amelia Bones forming an active relationship with Harry immediately after Black's capture/re-escape at the end of book three, rather than blindly relying on a passive Dumbledore to watch over the-boy-who-lived.
Please note – Ron abandons Harry in book 4. My assumption in this story is that with a larger support base, Harry would be much less inclined to attempt to repair their torn friendship.
Rating – This story contains occasional elements of unpleasantness as well as aspects of a budding teenage relationship. In my mind, it has earned it's rating. The DEs in this story are, as a whole, quite an unsavory bunch.
Disclaimer - JKR's sandbox, not mine. I'm just having a blast pushing some of the piles around a bit and rearranging them.
Wizarding etiquette – This and most fanfiction stories are written strictly on a hobby basis. I make no claim that it is error free. Another volunteer has agreed to look it over once for me before I post it. If you enjoy my little stories and are willing to accept the quality level, please continue reading my story. If you can't accept the occasional typo or choose to nit-pick sentence structure based on new information that your parents just paid your college a lot of money to drill into you, please find a different story.
Please leave a review from time to time so I know that I'm not just talking to my steel horse.
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The Accidental Eyeful
Thursday 9 June 1994
As Hermione Granger screamed in horror while her defense professor turn into a werewolf, Peter Pettigrew saw his opportunity. He concentrated and transformed into the shape of a rat. As he did so, the ropes that had been conjured to restrain him while he was taken up to the castle slipped off, and he scurried into the high grass and out of sight.
Having been exposed as a murdering traitor, Pettigrew knew that he could no longer enjoy the comforts and company of his longtime role of a student's pet, and would need to quickly leave the area.
As Professor Remus Lupin mindlessly dashed into the Forbidden Forest to spend the night as a werewolf, Pettigrew felt a chill in the air as at least a hundred of the spirit demons known as dementors descended upon his childhood friend, Sirius Black. Since they were both wandless, the two escaped wizards had no way to defend themselves. Pettigrew scurried as fast as he could up into the relative safety of the castle.
While Harry Potter was conjuring an incredibly powerful Patronus charm, that would eventually save Black, Professor Severus Snape, and Potter's two friends Hermione and Ron Weasley, Pettigrew reached the main entrance to the thousand-year-old castle.
Staying out of sight, Pettigrew scurried along the corridors of the castle until he reached the Gryffindor tower.
Minutes later, Severus Snape awoke from being stunned, and conjured ropes to bind Black, as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who had heard the disturbance outside, quickly made his way to the front doors and out onto the lawn. Hearing Snapes's version of the events, without comment from the unconscious students, Snape and Dumbledore conjured floating stretchers and transported Black and the students into the castle. At the door, they were met by Assistant Headmistress Minerva McGonagall, who volunteered to levitate the three students to the hospital wing for treatment.
Meanwhile, at the entrance to the Gryffindor dormitories, Head Boy Percy Weasley opened the door to make his evening rounds. He didn't notice the little rat scurry inside before the door closed.
Pettigrew knew that he would need to steal a wand and as much cash as he could quickly grab, and scurried up the wall, circumventing the charmed stairway into the girls' dormitory. No stranger to the girls' dormitory, Pettigrew silently transformed just inside Romilda Vane's curtained room, where he quietly pocketed her wand, and picked up her purse. Rummaging his way through it, he pocketed a handful of galleons and more importantly, a dozen currency notes that the young witch had kept throughout the year; given to her by her overly generous, well-meaning parents. Silently, Pettigrew made his way into a few other rooms, rummaged through purses for money, and pocketed a second girl's wand before slipping back downstairs.
Minutes later, Pettigrew opened the doorway, changed back into his rat form and made his way to the front entrance. By the time Harry and Hermione were flying Buckbeak the hippogriff up to the tall tower to rescue Black, Pettigrew was nearing the edge of the castle grounds, where he was able to apparate away.
Pettigrew knew that he could no longer hide amongst decent wizards. He had overheard talk that the spirit of his master, the Dark Lord Voldemort might be hiding out in the forests of Albania. Not being at all familiar with Albania, all he knew was that it was across the Adriatic Sea, a hundred miles east of the heal of Italy.
… - …
Sunday 19 June
A week and a half later, department of magical law enforcement director Amelia Bones wore a concerned look on her face. Her grandniece, Susan had arrived home from Hogwarts for the summer last night after completing her fourth year, and Arthur Weasley had left her office ten minutes ago. She recalled the conversation with the red haired man as she ate her sandwich and crisps.
"They all saw him, Amelia. Hermione, Harry, Ron, and Remus Lupin – They all saw Pettigrew. They were in the Shrieking Shack and had somehow captured Pettigrew. Remus and… Harry confronted him. Unfortunately, Pettigrew changed back into his Animagus rat form as they were walking back to the castle, when Remus… due to his condition…"
Giving the kind-hearted man an indulging look, Bones admonished, "Arthur, I can't possibly act on half-truths and missing facts. Where were Severus Snape and Sirius Black at the time?"
"Er… unconscious and nearby, I suppose."
Skilled from a long career of interrogating witnesses, Bones, the director of magical law enforcement for wizarding Britain made a move to clean her monocle and asked, "What happened to Black?"
The balding red-head squirmed a bit in his chair and admitted, "Er, Ron didn't know. Apparently, Snape regained consciousness at some point, stunned Black and brought them all back to the castle after the dementors went away." Arthur would have liked to say more, but he really didn't know the specifics.
Amelia nodded. By the time that Fudge had told anyone in the Auror department that Black had been captured, the escaped fugitive had escaped again, was long gone and a search of the grounds yielded nothing of value. After coming up empty handed, Fudge had finally relented to Dumbledore's wishes and agreed to send the foul dementors back to the Azkaban fortress miles out in the North Sea.
Amelia collected her thoughts again and recalled her final question. "Obviously Black's been in Azkaban for the last twelve years. Where do you suppose Pettigrew's been?"
Arthur fidgeted for a moment, looked down and replied, "Apparently he's been living at my home all these years. My son, Percy found him when he was five, took him in as a pet and he's either been at the Burrow or Hogwarts since."
What frustrated Amelia the most was that most of what she'd just been told was, at least officially, worthless. Arthur's career would be over if it came out that he'd been harboring a mass murderer in his home for a dozen years, detected or not. Guilty or not, Sirius Black was a fugitive, and without Pettigrew in custody, alive or dead, there was no possible testimony from a reliable witness that could shed favorable light on his case. No one would officially accept the word of a werewolf or underage wizards regarding a political hot potato like Black. Rubbing her forehead, she doubted that he'd quietly surrender, even if she could guarantee him the trial that he'd never received.
Arthur's words also pointed to the widening rift that she was sensing in the dotted line relationship that she had with the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. Her department hadn't even been informed that Black was in custody, or that he'd escaped minutes later, only that the dementors had left the castle. She hadn't heard a word about Pettigrew prior to Arthur mentioning it. Fudge had obviously bungled the job, and was attempting to cover it up.
What confused her most was the dementors' behavior. If Black was out in the open on the school grounds that night, they certainly would have sensed him, swarmed, and immediately sucked his soul out. What had driven them away? Lupin must have been in his werewolf form, and would have been unable to cast a patronus, and it was doubtful that any of the students could have caused as much a wisp of silver vapor to appear, let alone in the presence of a dementor. What would possibly have caused a hundred or more to back away?
She decided to pay Potter a visit in a few days. Perhaps he could add some details that Arthur hadn't heard from his son.
… - …
Meanwhile, in Mid Wales, Amelia's grand niece Susan Bones and her lifelong friend Hannah Abbott were in the pool at the Bones estate just outside Welshpool, in their bikinis, sunning themselves on their floaties. They were enjoying the first day of their summer holiday. Hannah and her parents lived on the southern coast, but wizarding floo travel all but eliminated the distance of 200 miles between their homes. As a result, the two teenaged witches had always been able to see each other every day. Like Susan's Aunt Amelia, they were still trying to determine what had happened on that evening, a few days before the leaving feast.
Hannah recounted the events as best as she recalled them. "Ernie was at greenhouse three with Megan doing research that night, and they saw a bright light shaped like a large animal chasing away a hundred or so dementors."
Susan gave her friend a little smirk. Ernie and Megan had been spending quite a few evenings out by the greenhouses "doing research" in the last few months. Putting aside the thoughts of the raging hormones of her fellow teens, she tried to recall any spells that would chase away dementors. She'd have to ask Auntie when she came home for dinner.
Paddling her floatie raft to the edge of the pool, Hannah continued. "Cindy Smith heard shouting by the hospital wing as she and Cedric were doing their patrol rounds. She told her brother Zach that it sounded like Professor Snape was ranting something about Sirius Black getting away, and blaming it on Potter."
Susan protested, "But Harry, Ron and Hermione were in the hospital wing for the night. I saw them get admitted when I was leaving after Madam Pomfrey gave me some pain-relieving potion about ten."
Hannah smiled at the speed that her friend Susan came to Potter's defense. Though Susan had yet to admit it, Hannah was positive that she liked him.
Susan had lived with her grand aunt as long as she could remember. Her parents had been killed just days before baby Harry defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in 1981. As a result of their similar circumstances, Susan had always felt like a kindred spirit with the Boy-Who-Lived, except that she'd always thought of him as little Harry Potter, fellow orphan, whom she hoped to become a good friend with someday. He had always been nice to her, saying hi and the like when he saw her in Herbology class, but he always seemed to be paired up with Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom or Hermione Granger. Silently, she hoped that she would have a better chance this next term.
… - …
While Hannah and Susan were drying off, Pettigrew boarded the Bari Ferry in Italy that was headed to the Albanian port city of Durres. An older woman sitting next to him gave him a queer look as if she sensed something off about the man sitting next to her, but it could have simply been a total lack of proper hygiene on his part.
It had taken him the better part of two weeks to get this far, and Pettigrew calculated that his meager funds would feed him for another four or five days. He had never learned how to apparate to a place that he couldn't see or hadn't been to. As a result, he was forced to take busses or trains as he made his way through France and Italy. Compounding his problems, he had no passport and only spoke English. Looking at the map, he saw large forested areas by Godinje, Rostusa and Pestani. A few hours later, he got off of the ferry and made his way to Godinje to begin his search.
… - …
As Pettigrew was getting off of the ferry, wealthy wizarding investor Lucius Malfoy was in London enjoying a fine dinner while coaching Fudge into taking a favorable position on various topics. Cornelius Fudge was many things, but no one would accuse him of being an inventive thinker or a visionary leader. Objectively, he had no leadership qualities whatsoever.
He was, however, a decent administrator, who frequently sought advice from those who he viewed as leaders, namely Albus Dumbledore and Lucius Malfoy. Both leaders kept him in office largely for that reason – they viewed him as pliable, or in Malfoy's case, payable.
Fudge preferred the company of Malfoy, and objectively, shared Malfoy's conservative viewpoints on blood status. What separated them was largely wealth. Malfoy was of old family money, whereas prior to his rise in office, Cornelius had been, financially, much closer in status to middle class families such as Amos Diggery than his current dinner companion.
Malfoy had become a benefactor of sorts to Fudge some twenty years prior, and either helped him by opening doors that would otherwise be closed to him, publicly aiding in projects or charities that would reflect well on the politician, or directly lining his pockets by regularly contributing to Fudge's largely unregulated "campaign fund."
Besides the money, Fudge greatly appreciated that his friend Lucius rarely directly asked for anything in return. As a result, Fudge was only too happy to have helped him out years back by publicly backing his claim that he and a handful of his like-minded associates must had been forced to do He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's bidding due to being under the effects of the Imperius curse. For several years afterwards, had been only too happy to assist Fudge whenever requested, asking almost nothing in return.
Fudge was in a position to return a favor tonight, and commented, "Lucius, the Quidditch World Cup Final is coming up in a few weeks. I would be honored if you, your lovely wife Narcissa, and your son Draco would accompany me as my guests."
Malfoy, who had been expecting the invitation, and, having orchestrated the dinner to make it happen as an opportunity to meet the Bulgarian MoM, gave Fudge a sincere look as he replied, "We would be honored to accept, Minister." Malfoy wanted to meet the foreign leader to expand his sphere of influence, and felt that the casual atmosphere of the game would be a perfect opportunity to make it look like a chance meeting. They could chat for several hours in a perfectly innocent setting.
Malfoy had enjoyed the last dozen years. Free of the servitude that the Dark Lord required, his status and personal wealth skyrocketed. Like a mafia Don, the people who he did business with recognized that Malfoy was, at some level, a very dangerous man. As such, their business dealings were always balanced and Lucius frequently received discounts wherever he went. Over time, the percentage point here and there tended to add up to serious money. It had been years since Malfoy had personally been involved in violence, but in his line of business, perception was frequently as good as reality.
Appearing thoughtful for a moment, Malfoy added, "Since there is always the possibility that some misguided troublemakers might take advantage of so many fine citizens and merchants being away, it would probably make sense to add extra Aurors on duty at Diagon Alley and St. Mungo's while the match is on, especially during the evening hours immediately following the event."
Fudge could see nothing wrong with the request and nodded in agreement. He replied, "That's a splendid idea, Lucius. I'll take care of it. Speaking of which, have you heard the news regarding Sirius Black?"
Malfoy felt like a gambler who had hit the jackpot. He had heard Snape's report via Draco, and was one of the few who knew of Pettigrew's true alliance, though he'd previously believed him to be dead. He replied, "Only the basics, Minister. I understand that Black was temporarily apprehended while supposedly in pursuit of a long-buried hero. I'm certain that his real objective was to harm Harry Potter." He gave another apparently thoughtful look and commented, "It's unfortunate that the dementors couldn't have done their jobs a few minutes earlier, and made our world a safer place. There's been no word of Black's whereabouts since?"
Completely misinterpreting Malfoy's meaning, Fudge replied, "There's no need to worry your lovely wife, Lucius. I'm certain that the Aurors will find him and remove the threat of further despicable acts on his part within a matter of days."
Malfoy poured his dining companion more from the bottle of expensive single malt that was on the table. It was obvious to him that Pettigrew was alive and on the run. Black, apparently friendless, would be caught sooner or later. That would suit Lucius just fine, as he knew with certainty that Sirius Black had never been a Death Eater and had never been marked by the Dark Lord. Malfoy gave his head an involuntary shake at the idiotic notion that the Dark Lord had somehow forced his mark on anyone who had not demonstrated their absolute willingness to devote themselves to the pureblood cause. He still couldn't believe that the fools at the Ministry could so easily be sold the mistaken belief that so many of the captured Death Eaters had been forced into servitude and had simply been acting under the Imperius curse.
After a few minutes of silence, Fudge concluded that their business was over for the night, stood up and remarked, "Thank you for dinner, and I'll see you and your family at the World Cup."
Malfoy stood as well, and replied, "The pleasure was mine, Minister. My family and I look forward to your company. Please let me know how I may be of service to you next."
As Fudge put on his bowler hat, both men thought that they had gotten the better deal. Fudge had enjoyed a fine meal for free and received a good tip to keep his orderly world happy, while giving away some free tickets to a man that he was proud to be seen with. Malfoy had spent a handful of galleons on a dinner that he was going to enjoy anyway, and had cleared the way for a safe gathering of some old friends.
… - …
Monday 20 June
Harry Potter's first days back from school hadn't involved floating in a pool. His uncle Vernon had sensed a new look of confidence on the face of the boy, and had decided that he needed to wipe it off before the boy grew defiant. After a few minutes of man-handling the boy in the back garden, he'd given him an impossibly large list of chores and maintenance tasks to be completed for the summer and had walked back into his sitting room, feeling quite proud of himself. Pouring himself a glass of Johnny Red, he sat down in his easy chair, obviously pleased that he'd nipped yet another problem in the bud.
The next day Harry woke up and noticed that there was an owl sitting on his windowsill and another owl – well really half of an owl, since it was so small, fluttering in his small bedroom. Exercising his seeker-honed reflexes, Harry gently grabbed the fluttering owlet out of the air and carefully untied the message that had been tied to the little fluff ball's leg. Unrolling it, he read:
We all got home. This is just a test message to see if the little owl, Pig could really deliver a message.
Percy got a job at the Ministry. Big Headed Prick if you ask me.
More later. Try sending a short reply with Pig.
Harry's beautiful white owl, Hedwig looked at the little bird with a mixture of pity and scorn. No owl should behave so ungracefully, nor should they have to suffer such an undignified name. She turned her back on the little owl and gave her attention to the handsome great gray owl that was waiting patiently on the windowsill.
Harry picked up a pencil and dashed off a reply, then tied the message to the little owl's leg and sent it on its way. Harry looked at the great gray and he fluttered onto the desk next to him. He carefully untied the message, broke the seal, and unrolled the parchment.
Dear Mr. Potter
I would like to talk with you regarding the events of 9 June that took place on the Hogwarts grounds and in the Shrieking Shack.
As this is not an official deposition, it is my belief that you would be more comfortable having this conversation someplace other than at my office at the Ministry.
Additionally, it is my understanding that your uncle's home is not currently attached to the floo network. As such, I would like to invite you to my home for dinner tonight. I will pick you up this afternoon at 4:30 and have you home again by 10 PM.
If this is acceptable, please use a quill and write yes on the parchment. If another time or date would be better, please indicate it.
I look forward to meeting you.
Harry was understandably nervous as he reread the parchment and put it back on the desk. Obviously he had broken some laws when he and Hermione had helped Sirius escape. No one else knew that she had been involved, and Harry resolved not to bring up her name if at all possible. He found a quill and some ink and wrote yes on the paper.
As he did so, the great gray gave Hedwig one last look, and flew out of the open window.
… - …
Barty Crouch Jr sat on the chair in his bedroom staring at the wall as he'd been commanded to. He had been in his room for several weeks now, ever since that woman, Ms. Jorkins came to the house unexpectedly and saw him sitting on the sofa.
From time to time, the pleasant feeling faded somewhat, and other thoughts crept into his consciousness. This usually happened on the few occasions when he and his minder, house elf Winky would go out in the back garden.
He continued staring at the wall.
… - …
A few hours later, Petunia Dursley opened the door and was immediately intimidated by the woman that was standing at her doorstep. Approximately seventy, but looking younger and exceptionally alert, the older woman carried herself with an ease that a large company executive would have. Petunia became nervous when she noticed that the woman at her door had taken in dozens of details about her home in the few seconds that the door had been open. She inquired, "May I help you?"
The older woman spoke with level of confidence that Petunia had not heard in a woman before. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Dursley. My name is Amelia Bones. I'm here to pick up your nephew, Harry. He is expecting me. I will have him home by ten PM." There was no hint of asking permission in her voice. It was simply a statement of fact.
Amelia looked around the immaculate living room as she stepped into the Dursley home. The fireplace was blocked off, and there were a dozen studio family photographs on the fireplace mantle and on the walls. Taken through the years, each of them pictured a family of three; adding weight to her friend Poppy Pomfrey's claim that, at best, Harry was neglected while living with his relatives.
"I'll get the boy," remarked Petunia.
Dudley heard her from the top of the stairs where he'd been listening and yelled, "Hey freak, get down the stairs. Someone's at the door!"
Amelia gave the now visibly nervous woman a look that clearly indicated that she wasn't impressed.
A moment later, she saw Harry at the top of the stairs, wearing his white school shirt and black trousers. She hadn't specified that they were casual at her home. She noticed that his trainers had recently been cleaned, but were in horrible condition. They obviously were the best that he had. She smiled at him and in a cheerful voice greeted, "Good afternoon, Harry. Are you ready to go?"
As he came down the stairs, he replied, "Yes, Ma'am."
Amelia glanced at Petunia and just barely above a whisper stated, "There'll be some changes when I come back tomorrow morning to see you."
Recalling the pig tail that had been placed on her Dudders several years ago, Petunia nodded in resignation.
… - …
Bartemius Crouch Senior sat in his sitting room chair recalling the last time that he saw his wife alive. He rued the day that he had made the vow to Nancy that he would break their son Bartemius Jr. out of Azkaban, where he along with three others were serving life sentences for brutally torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom.
Nancy had believed that Barty Jr. had simply been misguided, and as she was terminally ill, had been able to talk her husband into having her switch places with their son in prison. Due to his position at the Ministry and her illness, they had been allowed an unsupervised visit with Junior in prison. While there, both Nancy and Barty Jr. took a dose of polyjuice potion so they took on each others' appearance.
Minutes later both Bartys left the island prison, and Nancy died a few days later, still looking like her son. Senior threw his empty lowball of single malt into the fireplace, smashing the crystal glass, disgusted that he hadn't even given his wife of nearly thirty years a decent burial.
Winky ran into the room as fast as her little house elf legs would carry her, and immediately cleaned up the mess. Crouch paid no attention to the servant. He recalled with disgust that Junior hadn't just been misguided, rather he was a true believer. Lacking the courage to murder his own son, and unable to simply return him to prison, Senior had cast the first of many years worth of Imperius curses on Junior in order to contain him in an unofficial, unauthorized house-arrest.
Winky the house elf had been given the responsibility for Junior's day-to-day care. He was kept locked in his bedroom for many hours at a time, or was allowed to be in the sitting room if under a poor quality invisibility cloak, as Senior didn't want to see him. This had gone on for nearly a dozen years when Winky had begged her master to allow Junior to go out and attend the Quidditch World cup as a long-promised favor to his deceased wife.
The logistical nightmare of keeping such a promise was solved when Fudge gave Crouch a pair of tickets in the private top viewing box. Senior would demand that Junior sit in the back corner seat with Winky seated right next to him, to keep an eye on Junior and keep anyone from accidentally bumping into him. He would take them up two hours early and she could bring him down after the match was over and the crowds had gone. He gave her strict instructions not to let Junior out of her sight and retired for the evening.
… - …
Amelia and Harry walked around the house to the Dursley's back garden and Amelia asked, "Harry, have you ever apparated with anyone before?"
In a very polite voice, Harry replied, "No Ma'am."
Expecting his response, she held onto his bicep and directed, "Please hold onto my arm, about this tight. Don't let go until I ask you to."
"Yes Ma'am"… Pop!
After a moment, they reappeared just to the left of her fireplace hearth. Looking over at Harry, he seemed surprisingly steady on his feet. She sensed that he would have a very easy time learning this mode of magical transportation. Pointing to her kitchen table, she suggested, "Let go, Harry and please have a seat. Would you like some biscuits and butterbeer or some tea?"
The skinny teen replied, "Butterbeer, please, if it isn't too much trouble. Thank you."
Amelia's house elf, Smidgen was there in an instant, and within seconds they both had been served.
She let him have a few minutes to get settled in, and then suggested, "Harry, I'd like you to tell me what happened that night and what you think it means. I'm not trying to get you or your friends in trouble, just understand what happened. I'll try not to interrupt you, so I might take a note from time to time to ask a question when you've finished. Is that okay?"
Harry glanced at the steely-eyed woman who exuded confidence, even though it was evident that she also had a softer side. He thought for a moment, found that he believed her, nodded, and began; "Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and I went down to visit Hagrid before Buckbeak the hippogriff was to be executed. While we were visiting him, Ron found his pet rat, Scabbers that had run away about a week earlier."
He looked at Director Bones who nodded for him to continue. "Fudge and Macnair were coming, so Hagrid sent us out of his back door. We started going back to the castle, when Ron's rat went nutters and tried to get away. Ron managed to get the rat back into his cloak pocket when this huge dog came up and grabbed him and dragged him to the tunnel that leads to the Shrieking Shack. We didn't have a clue why that was happening, but Hermione and I ran after him."
Harry stopped for a moment to collect himself. Amelia was pretty sure that the teen was deciding how much to tell her, and she looked at him encouragingly.
"We found the tunnel and followed him until we got inside the Shrieking Shack. We looked around and it was apparent that he'd been dragged upstairs. When we got upstairs, and opened the door, Ron gave us a terrified look and Sirius Black was behind us. I reached out and grabbed him and had my wand on him, when Professor Lupin came in. He'd figured it out and took all of our wands, so we wouldn't kill him."
Harry took another pull on his butterbeer bottle. It was obviously a difficult story for him to relate, but Amelia felt that she had to hear it without coaching him. She'd eventually ask for a pensieve memory of the night, but wanted to use this opportunity to help them build a relationship of sorts.
"To make a long story short, the rat was Peter Pettigrew in an animagus form. Sirius had recognized him from a picture in the newspaper of the Weasleys on holiday in Egypt. Professor Lupin and Black talked with him and he confessed to giving up my mum and dad to Voldemort. When Sirius caught up with him a few days later on that street, Pettigrew cut his finger off, yelled out loud that Sirius was the traitor, and blew a hole in the street with his wand behind his back. I reckon that was what killed those people. Anyway, Sirius saw him change into his rat form and disappear. As I understand it, he got landed in Azkaban without so much as a trial."
Amelia was tempted to say something, but she restrained herself, and sipped her tea in silence. She was certain that everything that Harry had told her was the truth, at least as he believed it, but she was fairly certain that there was more to the story. She looked at him and knew that he was feeling stressed as he was talking with her. Something told her that he was mentally strong and could keep going.
After he set his empty butterbeer down, he continued. "Snape had found us in the shack, but he hadn't seen Pettigrew. He was going to take Sirius to the dementors to get his soul… to get kissed, but I knocked him unconscious when I disarmed him. Anyway, on the way back to the castle, while we were in the tunnel, Sirius told me that he was my godfather, and told me that I could come live with him when he got his name cleared. I was so happy. It would be so much better than living with my…would have been, anyway."
Amelia could feel the pain rolling off of the teen. She hoped in some way his telling the story would be therapeutic. She had a dark feeling that his life with the Dursleys was so much less than it should be. Smidgen the little Bones family elf handed Harry another butterbeer, and another plate of biscuits and he continued.
"When we got out of the tunnel, we took a few steps and Hermione realized that it was the full moon. Professor Lupin began changing into a werewolf, and Sirius tried to protect us. They both ran off and Pettigrew slipped out of his ropes and got away."
She noted that Harry hadn't yet mentioned that Black was also an animagus, but didn't say anything. She let the teen continue with his story.
"We couldn't find Pettigrew in the dark and heard Sirius cry out for help. Hermione and I ran towards him, but just about the time that we reached him, a hundred or so dementors began swooping down at us. I tried casting my patronus form, but it wasn't working properly. We must have passed out. When we regained consciousness, we were in the hospital wing, and we heard Fudge arguing with Professor Dumbledore. We tried to explain to Fudge that Sirius was innocent, but he wouldn't hear a word. He left to go get the dementors."
Amelia was so disappointed with Fudge. As Minister of Magic, his primary job was to develop the budget that funded the different departments. In the last few years, he'd insisted on cutting the Aurors headcount, and transferred the funding to International Magical Cooperation, personal assistants and the Improper Use of Magic department which seemed to have a fixation on reporting minor spellwork done by school age muggleborn witches and wizards. He had justified his actions as proper peacetime administration, but she knew that Aurors were made and developed over time and couldn't suddenly be purchased at a moment of need. She wondered about those who were pulling on his strings.
Harry paused for a minute. He was visibly upset, but hadn't finished his story. She sipped her tea in silence until he began again.
"Professor Dumbledore came back in a minute later and suggested that we needed more time to make things right."
Amelia caught on immediately. The Granger girl must have had access to a time turner to take all of the classes that Susie had mentioned that she'd been enrolled in. She prodded, "What happened, Harry?"
The distraught teen replied, "Hermione and I went back three hours in time. We rescued Buckbeak from getting beheaded for no reason, and hid until we came out of the tunnel again. We waited for help across the bay and when the dementors came, I realized that I hadn't seen my dad rescue us; I'd seen myself. I cast my best patronus and it leapt across the bay and chased all of the dementors away."
Amelia was astounded at his tale. She doubted that there was anyone in the Auror corps that could cast a patronus and have it hold up against a dozen dementors, let alone chase away over a hundred. Yet there was no hint of exaggeration in his voice. He was simply a distressed teen, relating a story that he'd lived through.
Potter finished his story. "We waited until Snape came to and had tied Sirius up again. Then he took everyone back to the castle. Fudge came in a few minutes later and left after that to go get the dementors. After he left the castle, Hermione and I flew on Buckbeak up to the window where he was, unlocked it, and helped Sirius get away."
Amelia rubbed her forehead as she thought through what she'd just been told. There was no doubt that Potter, the Granger girl and Dumbledore had broken or disregarded a handful of laws that night. Yet there was no doubt in her mind that they had done the world a tremendous service. So very much was wrong with this entire situation - An innocent pureblood head of house had been imprisoned without so much as a trial. Pettigrew was alive, apparently guilty of a dozen murders and was on the run. Crouch had completely circumvented the justice system, probably at someone's suggestion. Only a few weeks after Black had been imprisoned, Crouch's son was arrested with Bellatrix, her husband and brother-in-law, captured while they were in the act of torturing the Longbottoms. The more she thought about it, the more it smelled like layers of cover-up heaped upon each other, fueled by gold and the need for elected officials to appear to look good. Why had Crouch and Bagnold allowed this to happen? Why had he resigned from office so suddenly? Why had Fudge of all people been elected Minister?
Amelia sipped the rest of her tea as she recalled that Crouch's wife had fallen ill and passed away a few days after they visited their son Barty Jr. in Azkaban. Junior had unexpectedly died shortly after that, and Crouch Senior transferred in disgrace, to the Department of International Magical Co-operation - Bagnold's last action before leaving office. The Wizengamot had confirmed her promotion to Crouch's old position the next day, and the rest was history.
After a moment, she recalled her current circumstances, and looked over to see a silently sobbing teen. She got up, hugged the boy and acknowledged, "Thank you, Harry. Let's get you cleaned up." She led him upstairs and suggested, "The bathroom is the second door on the right. Take your time." She walked back down to the kitchen to review her notes and talk with Smidgen about dinner.
… - …
Amelia hadn't heard the girls come in while she was upstairs with Harry. Hannah had taken the floo home, and Susan dashed upstairs to change while Amelia was in the kitchen.
Susan walked into her bedroom, peeled off her wet suit and grabbed the top and shorts that were lying on her bed before walking into the bathroom to shower. She was holding her wet suit in one hand and her dry clothing in the other as she walked into the bathroom. As she closed the door, she was shocked to see Harry Potter sitting on the tile floor with his back against the ceramic, quietly sobbing!
It took Susan a few seconds to realize that a boy that she very much wanted to be friends with was in her home, crying his eyes out on her bathroom floor. It took her a few more seconds to recall that she had dashed from her bedroom to the bathroom to shower. It took her one last second to realize that she was quite naked.
Harry came out of his self induced trance to see a very naked, very healthy Susan Bones make some sort of gurgling noise and dash out of the bathroom. She must have tossed her clothing into the air when she left, because when Harry blinked again, there was a woman's bra draped over his head.
As the door slammed down the hallway, Harry couldn't help but notice that to his nearly fourteen tear old eyes, it was… very interesting looking.
Realizing that he must have caused the girl extreme embarrassment, he got up off of the floor, ran cold water over his face, dried it off and walked down the stairs. He wondered how much trouble he was in, and hoped that Hermione wouldn't be arrested too.
Harry walked back into the kitchen, and sat down back at the kitchen table. Amelia asked him if everything was all right.
Harry replied, "I'm fine. You might want to go up and check on Susan though. She kind of walked in when…"
Knowing her niece's habits after getting out of the pool, Amelia envisioned what the profoundly embarrassed teen was attempting to mumble. She squeezed his shoulder and replied, "Have another butterbeer, Harry. Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes or so."
… - …
Susan Bones had no idea what to do. She muttered to herself, "Smooth move, Bones. Way to get Potter to notice… Oh, Merlin! Now what?"
She'd heard her Auntie mention that she was having Harry Potter over for dinner this week, but hadn't heard the day. Her hair was a mess, she needed a shower, she… Crap.
"Suzie? Are you in there?"
"Harry Potter's over for dinner. He's downstairs with Smidgen. Get showered and dressed, please. We'll eat in twenty minutes. I'll help you with your hair when you get out."
Susan threw open the door and dashed into the shower, passing her amused grand aunt in the hallway
Five minutes later she ran back into her room, wrapped in a towel. Amelia gave her a sympathetic look as she drew her wand and dried off the teen's hair. In barely more than a whisper, she looked at her niece and said, "Don't worry about the bathroom, dear. He's had a very hard day, and needed a bit of cheering."
A bit of cheering! "Auntie, he saw me naked!" Susan gasped, horrified that her aunt was making light of such a disaster.
"And he enjoyed it, I'm sure," Amelia smiled.
"Auntieeeeeeee!" her niece moaned, covering her face with her hands.
"Now sweetheart, I'm positive he doesn't think any the less of you," Amelia continued reassuringly. "Do you know what he said about it? He suggested I go and check on you because he was concerned about how embarrassed you'd be."
"Really?" Susan whispered, peeking out through her fingers before slowly pulling them away. "He didn't make fun of me or … anything?"
"No," Amelia replied, fighting back a smile. "Now finish getting dressed and come downstairs.
Susan's horrified expression returned. "I can't face him now! Not after he saw … everything! It'd be so embarrassing!"
"Well, you're going to have to see him sometime, Susan," Amelia explained, "and it'll be even more awkward if he knows you're avoiding him. You need to pull yourself together, gather up your courage and make the best of it." Susan gave her grand aunt a doubtful look, as her timid side reminded her that she was a Hufflepuff, not a Gryffindor. Realizing this, Amelia switched tactics. "Besides," she pointed out, "think how guilty he'd feel if you stayed in your room."
"I suppose," Susan admitted reluctantly, not wanting to cause Harry any additional consternation. Then she recalled what her grand aunt had said earlier about the boy needing cheering up, and remembered that he had been crying when she'd encountered him in the bathroom. "You said he'd had a very bad day," she noted, concern now overcoming her embarrassment. "Is he all right?"
Amelia admitted, "He told me about what happened that night with Sirius Black and the dementors. It was very stressful for him, but it's really his story to tell. Finish getting dressed, Susie and let's have a nice dinner with him." She gave her grand niece a squeeze on the shoulder and closed the door behind her as she walked back down the stairs. In spite of the fifty-six years that separated them, she really felt close to the teen.
… - …
While Harry was pondering female anatomy, Lucius Malfoy was having a drink with Stephen Nott. The two "old friends" agreed to meet two hours after the Quidditch Cup match ended, or at three AM, whichever was later. As he drained his glass of single malt Lucius remarked, "It will be time to show the Ministry that there are still those that remember the old ways."
Nott asked, "Won't the grounds be crawling with Aurors?"
Malfoy replied, "They'll be scared witless, like they always were. We'll have about five minutes before there is any sort of organized resistance. I expect that most of the Aurors will either be asleep in their tents, or dutifully guarding Diagon alley. Hundreds of wizards will be reminded that there are those who know the difference between a pureblood and a mudblood."
Nott smirked and replied, "I'll tell the others."
… - …
Susan finally came down the stairs and into the kitchen. She saw Harry there and before she thought about it, greeted him, "Hi, Harry. Why the school clothes?"
Once Susie mentioned it, Amelia guessed immediately and covered for Harry, saying, "We had a bit of official business to go over while you and Hannah were still outside." Based on the condition of his oft-repaired shoes, his relatives obviously weren't meeting his basic needs. Didn't Harry know that he was from an old money family? He'd evidently worn the best clothing that he owned. Why had Susie stuck her foot in her mouth when she so obviously liked the boy?
Just then, Amelia heard Hannah calling through the fireplace and remarked, "You should tell her that you'll call her back in the morning, dear."
Susan, nodded and replied, "I'll be right back, sorry."
When Susan was out of the room, Amelia asked in a quiet voice, "Would you allow me to take you to Diagon Alley tomorrow morning, Harry? Perhaps you should visit Gringotts and you might wish to engage in a bit of shopping at the same time. I could help you pick a few things out, if you'd like."
Harry looked at the kindly old woman with grateful eyes and replied, "That would be fantastic. Thank you, Ms. Bones."
She smiled back at the teen, and remarked, "I believe that we can be on a first name basis if you'd like, Harry. Amelia, okay?"
Harry replied, "Yes, Ma'am… Amelia, Ma'am… Amelia."
Amelia smiled, and replied, "Heaven's Harry, you can say He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's name as if it's nothing. Am I that scary?"
Harry replied, "No…Amelia, and his name isn't Voldemort, it's Tom Riddle."
Dumbstruck, she admitted, "There aren't many people alive who've made that connection. How did you know?"
Just then, Susan came back and announced, "Hannah and I are going to Diagon Alley tomorrow for lunch, then I'll be over there for the afternoon." Harry's presence gave her an idea, and despite still battling her nerves she asked, "Harry, would you like to have lunch with us tomorrow?"
Harry squirmed in his chair a bit and let out an "Err.. um," when Amelia saved him again, replying, "Harry doesn't have quite the same accessibility to the floo system, dear. Actually, he and I have a spot of business to work through in the morning, but I'm certain that we'd be done by noon. Where did you have in mind?"
"The Hollow Quill."
"Okay. Harry, I'll pick you up at nine."
Smidgen had made a fantastic dinner, though Amelia was surprised at how little Harry ate. It was as if he had purposely selected the smallest portions of each item served.
On the positive side, as the dinner wore on, Amelia noticed that Susan and Harry seemed to get over their awkwardness around each other.
After they were done with dessert, and Amelia refused Harry's offer to do the dishes for the third time, Susan asked, "Harry would you like to come out and see the back garden?"
Amelia smiled a bit and told Susan to have him back in an hour so she could get him home on time since she'd promised his aunt.
When they got outside, Susan remarked, "Harry, I'm sorry about barging in the bathroom this afternoon. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
Before he thought about what he was saying, Harry replied, "I didn't mind, er, I mean…you're really quite beautiful, oh Lord."
Susan blushed at his words, smiled, gave his hand a squeeze and said, "I'll be sure to knock next time, Mr. Potter." She didn't press him for details about Black or the dementors. She showed him the pool and suggested, "Maybe you'd like to come over sometime for a swim?"
Harry looked down and replied, "I don't swim, er, I've never been, but it sounds like fun."
The strawberry blonde gave him a warm smile and offered. "I'd be happy to teach you. You never know when knowing how might come in handy."
Harry smiled at the thought.
The hour passed amazingly quickly, and before Harry knew it Susan was saying, "We'd better go back now. Auntie will be waiting." Harry nodded and they walked back to the house. She opened the back door and announced, "Right on time."
Amelia smiled as she recalled Susan's habit of getting home mere seconds before a stated deadline. She walked out the door and mentioned to her grandniece, "I'll be home in twenty minutes."
Susan nodded, looked at Harry encouragingly and said, "See you tomorrow, Harry."
Harry replied, "See ya."
Amelia took Harry's arm in hand and asked, "Are you ready to try apparition again?"
Harry nodded, and replied, "Yes, thanks."
He held her arm and a few seconds later they were in the Dursley's back garden. She was fairly certain that if he thought about it enough, he could probably apparate by himself within an hour.
Harry was going to walk back towards the house, when Amelia held his arm for a moment and cautioned him, "Harry, you and your friend broke at least a few laws that night. I'm not saying that you didn't do it for the right reason, but if you're caught again, not everyone will see it that way. Regardless of what you believe, Sirius Black is still a fugitive and Peter Pettigrew is a desperate and highly dangerous wizard on the run. Let me just ask this, if something comes up again, will you send me an owl or better yet, call if you can?" She handed him her Ministry business card, and added, "I have a mobile telephone that will work from most places. Don't hesitate to call me. I'm not too busy and I won't judge your actions. I'll just try and help you. Okay?"
Harry nodded, and replied, "Okay. Thanks again for dinner…" He wasn't quite comfortable calling her by her first name yet.
She added," I'll be back tomorrow at nine. If your aunt or uncle objects to your being gone tomorrow, ask them to ring me. I'd be delighted to have a few words with them."
Harry nodded, and promised, "I will. Goodnight."
She smiled at him and replied, "Goodnight, Harry." A moment later she was gone.
When Harry walked inside, Petunia asked, "Harry, who is that woman?"
Harry replied, "Her name is Amelia Bones. She's the head of the magical law enforcement division. She wants to ask me more questions about my godfather, Sirius Black."
Petunia gave a startled look and asked, "Sirius Black, the mass-murderer?"
In an even voice Harry replied, "I don't know how many people he's killed, but I reckon if he goes after anyone else, they'll deserve it." He gave his aunt a smile and she shuddered.
Harry added, "She wants to see me again tomorrow morning."
Petunia was about to object, but thought better of it. Their chief of police wouldn't be bothering with the boy if there wasn't a good reason. Maybe he'd end up as a ward of their court system. Vernon would like that even if it meant putting off doing some long-needed repairs around the house. Potter could always do extra chores the next day.
Harry went to bed and slept peacefully; dreams filled with slightly naughty thoughts of a strawberry blonde.
…. - …
While Harry slept, Pettigrew wandered aimlessly through the forest near Gadinje in Albania. Most of the time he plodded north and south as he worked his way through the thick forest, but he sensed nothing that resembled his master. So far, the only reward for his searches had been hundreds of bug bites and too little bad food.
ooo CCC ooo
As the old scribe began his journey to the castle, he pondered the other scribes for a few minutes. He worried greatly about his friend Mike and wished him the very best.
The steel horse sprang to life and Crow felt the excitement that comes with starting a new report. He was delighted to be in contact with his fellow scribe Chem Prof and more than grateful for the help that the old professor and his bride had provided. Hopefully McGonagall would be as happy to hear from him again, as they hadn't parted on the best of terms after the conclusion of his last report.
…. - …