The Thief of Hogwarts
A/N: I don't own Harry Potter
Chapter 19: Attack of the Hormones
June 4, Paris, France
Nicholas closed the paper he was reading and looked at Julian, who had just finished speaking with his contact at the International Confederation of Wizards through the floo.
"It's as you predicted." Julian said, dusting a few ashes from his shoulders. "Dumbledore's using Cornelius Fudge to get Harry back into British hands. Fortunately for us, it would take a long time for Fudge to convince the ICW to drop the treaty. France has veto powers, and I'm confident that they would use it to vote down any proposals for amendment."
"Don't underestimate Dumbledore. He has considerable influence among the other members." The Master Alchemist warned.
"Then we should stop this media campaign of theirs before it gains further support from the British." Julian smiled. "I'll get Rita."
"Do you think Harry will agree to an interview with her?"
"That's why you're here." Julian smirked. "You're the only one he listens to."
"Hardly." Nicholas scoffed. "He only listens to me when he thinks it will further improve his skills in that hobby of his. Where's our young thief anyway?"
"With Fleur." Julian replied. "He said something about a business meeting."
Nicholas laughed. "That boy sure has a way with words. I wonder where they are right now?"
"I don't even want to know." Julian sighed.
Tonks Residence, London
"What do you think Harry? Will this do?"
Harry shook his head again and continued rummaging through his collection. He now had second thoughts about allowing Fleur to go with him to a business meeting in Surrey. He took out a few comic books – still sealed in their plastic packaging and put them on his bag and then stood up.
His contact, a fifteen year old named Hugh, had assured him that his new business proposal would be very profitable to both parties. Hugh didn't elaborate further, but insisted that Harry visit the first chance he got once summer started. Harry, curious about the promise of something new, unique and profitable, agreed to meet the older boy.
"Fleur, we're not going to some park or shopping center, but a hangout for kids buying and selling comic books and toys." Harry said.
The quarter Veela looked at her light blue sundress, complete with matching hat and purse and frowned at her betrothed. "But you said I should wear casual, and this is as casual as it gets."
Harry looked at her bare shoulders and arms for a moment before he replied. "It's certainly comfortable in this weather, but the problem is you look like a tourist full of money. You'd stick out like a white kitten among a pack of stray dogs."
"Then let them think what they want." Fleur sniffed. "I'm used to attention after all."
"You'd get your purse snatched the moment you step there. Hell, I'd steal from you if I didn't know you." Seeing Fleur's incredulous look, he scratched the back of his head and continued. "Look, you're the one who insisted on coming..."
"You'd really steal my purse?" Fleur asked. She smiled when Harry didn't answer and handed him her wand. "Well, if you know better, then transfigure my clothes to something you think is more appropriate."
Harry thought for a moment, and then transfigured one of Tonks' stuffed toys that suspiciously looked like his animagus form, into a baseball cap. Fleur's summer dress turned into a simple gray shirt and knee length blue jeans.
"Wear that." Harry tossed the cap and Fleur's wand to its owner.
"It looks so plain." Fleur inspected her clothing.
"That's what we're aiming for." Harry said simply. He looked at his wristwatch and then back at Fleur, who was busy tying her hair with a ponytail to fit the cap. "We better go. Andy, that's Nymphadora's mum, usually eats lunch here during Mondays."
Harry closed the cabinet shelf that Tonks grudgingly gave him for use for storage and held Fleur's hand. A moment later the thief and the quarter veela witch faded from view just as a loud crack was hear at the back lawn as Andromeda black finally arrived.
"Where are we?" Fleur asked. They had appeared in the bushes and she was suddenly glad that she allowed Harry to transfigure her summer dress- she could feel the dense vegetation scratching her transfigured jeans and shirt.
"This is where all the kids gather." Harry said as he made his way through the bushes. "It used to be a park, but the people responsible for maintaining it stopped after the local kids kept on destroying the playground."
"Here we are." Harry said.
"Wow." Fleur whispered. It looked like a small clearing, with the broken swings and slides' metal frames used by the local kids as support for their makeshift tents. Everywhere children ran around, laughing and shrieking while the older kids huddled together in groups.
"The parents of these children allow this?" Fleur asked.
"Sort of." Harry shrugged. "They just know it's a place where the kids gather, trading toys, comics, and anything else they can think of. They know it's harmless."
Harry looked around the clearing for a moment and finally spotted Hugh, who was talking with a group of older teenagers wearing weird hairstyles with piercings on their faces. He grabbed Fleur's hand and led her to the other end of the park, and waved at Hugh once the older boy looked his way.
"Glad you've come." Hugh shook Harry's hand firmly as he welcomed Harry to the park.
"You said it would be worth it, so here I am." Harry said. Ever since he received the letter from Hogwarts, he rarely visited the park since his interests moved on from merely trading and selling what kids wanted to more profitable and high yielding goods.
"Who's he?" One of the older teenagers with a pierced eyebrow asked Hugh.
"This is my most reliable business associate" Hugh declared. "Harry here has provided me with rare collectibles over the years, and at a reasonable price. Up to this day, he still refuses to tell me how he does it."
"It's a trade secret." Harry grinned. He reached into his bag and pulled out the comic books he earlier removed from Tonks' shelf and handed it to Hugh. "And here's a few things I thought you might be interested in."
"I'll be damned." Hugh said. "Issue number twelve and thirteen... where the bloody hell did you get this?"
"Like I said, it's a secret." Harry said proudly.
Fleur watched with amusement and fascination as she watched a new side to her betrothed, Harry the salesman. Having a father for a politician, she had some idea on how to sell an idea or a proposal, using flattery and sweet words. Though Fleur didn't understand what mint condition and original packaging meant, it was obvious that it was a big deal to Hugh. The older, brown haired boy was holding the two comics books carefully in his hands with reverence, and awe clearly written on his face.
"... and I know it's the issue her costume was stripped from her body, making her tits pop out."
Fleur coughed for a moment and then shot Harry an incredulous look, wondering if what she heard was right. What the hell?
Hugh however, was eating it up, and he seemed to be shaking, obviously trying to restrain himself from opening the plastic packaging and begin to read the page Harry had described.
"So, you want it?"
"Of course I want it!" Hugh said instantly. Then his shoulders fell when he remembered something. "But Harry, I don't have cash on me. I just bought something from these lads here. It's the stuff I wanted to talk to you about."
"You know my policy Hugh." Harry reminded his old acquaintance. He had once allowed a customer to leave off with the object he had acquired for him, with promises that he'd pay him back the next day. The kid instead ran off from the deal, and Harry had spent weeks tracking the kid back to his house to take back the toy, along with his father's lightsaber replica as a penalty for reneging on the deal.
Hugh was on old acquaintance, but Harry trusted the guy as far as he could throw Fleur.
"What if I offer you something equally valuable?" Hugh suggested.
"What do you got?" Harry asked.
"Shit. I know you have almost everything you're collecting." Hugh looked thoughtful.
"What about this." The older boy looked around for a moment and withdrew a packet from his pocket. He handed it to Harry and grinned. "This stuff's very valuable, about the cost of these comics."
"What is it?" Harry asked. It looked like a bunch of dried herbs tightly packed inside a brown paper bag and rolled into the size of a box of soap, or a large matchbox.
"It's what the cool kids smoke these days." Hugh said and showed Harry what looked like a plain cigarette. "It makes you cool."
"I don't smoke Hugh." Harry said. He knew a couple of kids that smoked, but he didn't pick up on the habit since the scent irritated his nose.
The three older boys with Hugh laughed at Harry and the teenager with several piercings on his ears grinned. "This isn't a cigarette."
"Harry, this stuff's called weed." The teenager with the piercing in his eyebrow said. Now that he stepped closer to Harry, the wizard noticed that he also had a piercing in his lower lip. "It's the rage these days, and it's in high demand."
"What does this do?" Harry asked.
"Like I said Harry, it makes you a cool person." Hugh said. "Popular even."
"I'm popular enough in my school for my taste." Harry said dryly. He took a few dried leaves of the herbs and crushed it between his finger and thumb. "This stuff doesn't interest me." He also found Herbology boring.
Seeing that they were about to lose a prospective customer, one that Hugh assured was loaded with money, the teenager hastily added. "It'll help you relax! I assure you it's a most wonderful feeling. No nagging parents to think about... and no school problems to worry! It's like a piece of heaven!"
"I'm relaxed enough." Harry said dismissively. He really shouldn't have come here. His interests have since moved on from the goods that he used to acquire and peddle to the other kids in the neighborhood. Sure, he'd get an action figure and comic book for his collection, but that was for himself, one of his many hobbies. "And if it makes you forget your problems, wouldn't that be more difficult to deal with later?"
"It'll make you rich!"
"I'm rich." Harry said evenly, getting annoyed with the group for their persistence.
"Yeah? But this gets you the girls."
Harry looked at Fleur with amusement, and received a similar expression on her face.
"I already have a girl..." Harry pointed back with his thumb at Fleur who was standing slightly behind him. "If this weed is all about that, I think I'll pass. I'm afraid it's too boring for me."
The group of older teenagers only realized then that Harry was with someone, and that someone was a girl. Not just any girl though. Even with the cap, the girl looked prettier than any they had seen before. She seemed to belong more in the movies than hanging out with local neighborhood teenagers.
Fleur made her introduction more amusing when she removed her baseball cap and shook her head, making her long, silvery blond hair dance around her face before they rearranged behind her back. The effect was immediate, and the group of adolescent boys stood with their mouths open, clearly shocked.
"Bloody hell." Hugh whispered. The other teenagers gaped at Fleur, entranced by the weak veela charm from her hair.
"How'd you get such a fine girlfriend?" One of the teenagers asked breathlessly.
"I'm not just a girlfriend." Fleur sniffed. She hooked her arm around Harry's. "When we are older, we will marry."
"Damn." Hugh said, clearly shocked. Harry had a beautiful girl that wanted to marry him? How did he do it? He was rocked out of his sightseeing of an unearthly, beautiful and clearly French chick (from her accent) when Harry bade goodbye.
"Wait! What about the comics?" Hugh asked.
"Keep it." Harry said. "I'll be very busy in the next few years, so I don't think I'll be coming back here anytime soon. Consider that as thanks for the years of smooth business deals."
Hugh nodded held up his hand to stop Harry from handing back the pack of weed. "Keep it. Maybe you'll grow to like it."
Harry didn't want to stay longer with the group and argue that he didn't want the strange smelling herbs, and silently took it.
"Bye then." Harry said, and the wizard and his betrothed headed out of the park, leaving a thoughtful Hugh and the still dazed group of older teenagers looking at their retreating backs.
"That was a waste of time." Harry said as he walked with Fleur down Privet Drive.
"Not really." Fleur said. "I think it was interesting. I've never seen how non-magical children interact with one another before. The park was also interesting. Is it some sort of market for children?"
Harry nodded. "Before, we used the local school's playground, but the teachers kept on interrupting so we gradually moved to the park. It grew from there, and even other neighborhood children go there to hang out. That was the place where I spent most of the time when I wasn't doing odd jobs or in school."
Fleur eagerly listened. It was rare for Harry to be in a talkative mood, and she wanted to find more about her betrothed's childhood.
"And that's the house I grew up in." Harry stopped in front of number four.
"I understand why you're always out of the house." Fleur said. "It certainly looks boring."
"I know. It's nothing much to look at, with the houses all looking similar." Harry said. "It gets more exiting at night though. You'll be surprised how many neighbors think no one's listening or watching them, and I spent many nights wandering around each house."
"And acquiring things from each house when they're asleep?" Fleur teased.
"If it interests me." Harry shrugged. "What do you want to do?"
"I said I wanted to see what your normal day is like, so I'll just follow you around." Fleur said. "I'm kind of hungry though."
"I know a great place to eat, and it's free. The sandwiches are almost as good as Penny's"
"Have you ever been to Hogwarts?"
The two had a very satisfying meal in the kitchens. The house elves were very eager to finally have something to do, and cooked far too much for Harry and Fleur to consume. They had even fought among themselves on who had to serve their guests, and it ended with one elf serving one piece of kitchen accessory or utensil each.
Harry and Fleur found it extremely amusing to see one elf carrying a spoon, another a fork while another carried a salt shaker. A short line of elves had formed around their table, each carrying a small kitchenware accessory or utensil and eagerly waiting their turn to place what was on their hands on the table.
Halfway through dessert, Dumbledore's familiar Fawkes appeared before them in a flash of fire, carrying a piece of cloth in its talons.
"Took you a long time to visit." The sorting Hat said once it was deposited on the table.
"Harry! Is that a phoenix?" Fleur asked, unable to believe what her eyes were seeing. Phoenixes were extremely rare and she never thought she'd get an opportunity to see one this close. To add to her delight, Fawkes landed on the space between her and Harry, and instantly started to finish off the remains of Harry's plate.
"That's Fawkes." Harry said. He took the sorting hat and settled it on the center of the table. "And this is the sorting hat."
"Amazing. It's completely sentient?"
"Who's that with you Mr. Potter?" The hat turned to the female voice.
"This is Fleur Delacour, a student from Beauxbatons. I just want to show her Hogwarts." Harry said.
"Good day monsieur Hat." Fleur said politely. She was talking to a thousand year old artifact after all, and she didn't know how to interact with it. She had heard from her father that Harry befriended the sorting hat, though she didn't know how.
"Call me Franz dear." The Sorting Hat said. "It was about time you thief. I was dying of boredom in Dumbledore's office with only senile paintings and a bird to talk to."
Fawkes' let out an almost menacing tone, causing the Sorting Hat to jump back. "It's not you old boy, It's just that you're not much of a conversationalist. You can't imagine how bad the suggestions of the paintings are for this year's sorting song."
"Where's Dumbledore anyway?" Harry asked.
"On vacation." The sorting hat replied. "No one's here right now, aside from Hagrid, but he doesn't go inside the castle unless if it's to talk to Dumbledore."
"Does that mean we have the castle to ourselves?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, I guess you do." Franz said. "Just make sure..."
Both hat and thief looked at the phoenix- it had suddenly let out a melodious trill. Fleur had finally given in to her urge and started to stroke Fawkes' chest feathers.
"Just make sure to watch out for the paintings, especially that airhead Dippet. Dumbledore assigned him to report any disturbance in his office. That sensory blocking charm you used before wouldn't work. Dumbledore would port right in if Dippet noticed any disturbance." The sorting hat advised.
"Do you think sleeping charms would work?" Harry asked.
"There's only one way to find out." The sorting hat said. "Now put me on your head thief. I need to see what you've been up to since the last time we've talked."
Harry did so and while the hat wandered around his head, he turned to Fleur who was still busy stroking the phoenix. Fawkes was delighted by the attention and basked in her affections.
"Hey Fleur, how good is your disillusionment charm?"
"Child's play." Fleur said. "What are you thinking?"
"Just cast it on the both of us and you'll see." Harry replied. "Had fun in my mind Franz?"
"You do get around, you little thief! I wish I can go along to one of your adventures." The sorting hat sighed.
"Hogwarts security isn't what it claims to be. I'm surprised at how easy it is for us to be able to break in here." Fleur said as she observed the Headmaster's office. They had appeared undetected by the paintings, most of them were snoring anyway and a sleeping charm with Harry's sensory ward made sure they would remain undisturbed. "At least we have personnel on the school grounds of Beauxbatons during the summer break."
"It is." The sorting hat said on his shelf. "Hogwarts has the most extensive wards anywhere, and with the school's defenses as strong as that, we don't need any security personnel. It's just that you have a boyfriend with a method of transportation that's completely unheard of in the wizarding world. You should see the defenses Dumbledore had cast on the entrance of his office."
"Also, Hogwarts herself has allowed you passage into Hogwarts. If you weren't the school herself would keep you out."
"Harry? What are you doing?" Fleur asked.
"Just getting some sweets." Harry said, stuffing his pockets with Dumbledore's candy. He noticed that his left pocket was full and realized that the brown paper bag full of weed was still in his possession. He threw it into the golden basin under Fawkes perch and continued to fill his now free pocket with candy.
He thought Gabby would like the sweets- Fleur's younger sister threw a tantrum when Apolline told her that she couldn't go with them. Also, he thought Gabrielle would like the idea of eating candy stolen from Dumbledore's own office.
Fleur ignored Harry and walked around the office, already used to his behavior and read the titles of the various books on the shelves. She recognized a few, some were in her father's and Nicholas Flamel's collection while most were completely unheard of. She didn't even realize that there were other branches of magic. She had to admit that Hogwarts had the edge in terms of quality of libraries, if the Headmaster's collection was any indication.
The quarter veela witch looked at her watch and realized that they had another engagement in the afternoon, a family reunion in Marseilles. She grabbed Harry before he decided to steal a few of Dumbledore's silver trinkets, he had been eyeing them as he piled the candy, and she could see a quill poking from his pocket.
After a quick farewell to the sorting hat and a few strokes of Fawkes' plumage, the pair vanished, leaving an amused Phoenix familiar.
"It's just a simple article then? No interview with Harry Potter himself?" Rita Skeeter asked Julian Delacour.
"Yes. I need the daily prophet to show Harry's everyday life here in France. Show them that Harry's enjoying his stay here, and that we are taking good care of him, as a responsible magical guardian should."
Rita bit the end of her favorite quill, her mind racing for the reason the sudden change of her treatment. Julian had threatened her with enough charges that would get her locked up for many years, and she was forced to comply and remain silent. Now, she was at the Delacour's summer home, and offered a substantial amount of money for her services.
"I'm writing this article because of the rumors floating around about Harry Potter, isn't it?" Rita smiled. At Julian's nod she continued. "The rumors had not yet spread enough that the normal folk are talking about it on the streets. It's Dumbledore's allies and Fudge's faction who are spreading it. In another week or two there might be an article written about these rumors by reporters in Fudge's pocket."
"And what are these rumors?"
"That Harry Potter is entranced by the Veela charm, and you are using him for your own political gains."
Julian laughed. "That boy's the most stubborn I have ever met. He has a strong will, and can completely overcome the Veela charm. And he has Occlumency lessons ever since he started living with us. I doubt if the imperius curse can even control him."
"What about the allegations that you're using him and his popularity for political gain?"
"I admit that my standing with the French Ministry rose when he became my ward." Julian said. "But that has been a long time coming and I have prepared many years for it, and Harry's presence just hastened the process. I think it's unavoidable for any witch or wizard to gain fame and popularity when you are taking care of Harry Potter."
"I heard a few purebloods say that they're concerned that you're after his wealth."Rita said.
"The Delacour family's not lacking in resources, and I work hard to give the best to my daughters." Julian said firmly. "Harry's money is his own and of course, I supervise his transactions to make sure he's not taken advantage of. But so far, Harry's content, he's not the type to flaunt his material wealth. It would be very hard for someone to get the better of young Harry."
"Can you elaborate on that last statement?"
"Let's just say Harry's a very smart kid." Julian smiled.
"And how's the relationship between your daughter and Harry?" Rita asked.
"As can be expected of the situation. They're still young, and they have arguments, but that's common for all couples. Harry's enjoying his childhood, and we let him learn from his mistakes."
"What is the reason for entering your daughter into a betrothal agreement with the late James Potter?" Rita asked.
"Let's just say, that as a father, I would do everything and anything to ensure the happiness and futures of my daughters. Harry is a powerful wizard, and is a good match to my Fleur, a powerful witch herself."
"I think I have enough for a whole spread Mister Delacour." Rita closed her notepad and tucked her quill on its case. She was very pleased with Julian's answers. The reporter thought that he would only give vague statements, similar of those public figures in the British Ministry of Magic.
Julian nodded and poured a drink for the both of them. Rita eyed the expensive whiskey and took a sip.
"Here's a gift for your troubles." Julian handed Rita an envelope.
The reporter opened it and took out a bank draft and she immediately coughed when she read the amount written on it. It was equivalent to a year's worth of her salary working for the Daily Prophet, bribes from Fudge included!
"All this for a simple article?" Rita asked.
"Just keep me and my family happy, and we'll take care of you." Julian said. "I still don't trust you, but that can be gained over time. Now, why don't we head out and you can take your pictures, and I'll choose what will be posted along with your article."
Rita flinched and almost dropped her glass of whiskey when she heard the voice. It was the youngest daughter of Julian, the one that she was sure would become a dark witch. She already suspected that the girl enjoyed torturing poor insects, and wondered how many had already fallen from the girl's evil hands.
Gabrielle appeared and Rita forced herself not to back away, afraid that she might offend her host who had just given her a generous gift, and a rare opportunity to further her career. It was every reporter's dream to be the exclusive media contact that every celebrity had, and there could be no bigger celebrity in Britain than Harry Potter.
"Hello darling." Julian scooped up her daughter.
"Are Harry and Fleur back?" Gabrielle asked. "Mama's looking for them. Auntie Monique and her sisters are here!"
"They should arrive anytime soon." Julian said fondly. "Did your mother put on the sunscreen charms?"
"Yes!" Gabrielle nodded, obviously excited. "I already have my swimming costume on! I can't wait to go the beach!"
Julian laughed and put his daughter down. Gabrielle realized that they were not alone and looked at Rita Skeeter with a curious expression on her face. "Who are you?" She asked.
Rita gave the girl a nervous smile and she discreetly backed away. She couldn't forget the horror of being spun around and tied to a string in her animagus form. It was her worst memory.
"You may not remember her..." Julian began but Gabrielle interrupted him.
"You're the bug lady!" Gabrielle exclaimed.
"Yes." Julian grinned. "She's the bug lady. She's here to write an article about Harry and to take a few pictures of our family reunion. Now why don't you talk with your Auntie Monique? I heard she has some gifts for you."
"Kay!" Gabrielle chirped. She was about to run outside when her father reminded her about their talk earlier.
The young girl nodded solemnly- her father and mother told her about keeping certain secrets about their family, like Harry's animagus form and the Flamels, and she was determined not to give them away. After all, Harry said that a good thief was one that could keep secrets, and she wouldn't want to disappoint him.
"Are you alright Rita?" Julian asked.
"Fine... I'm fine." The entertainment columnist of Witch Weekly took a deep breath to calm her nerves and finished the remaining whiskey in her glass. "It's the heat, that's all."
They both turned at hearing Gabrielle's squeal of delight, and Julian spotted the short messy black hair of Harry Potter among the sea of hair of silvery blondes.
"It looks like Harry had just arrived with my daughter." Julian said. "Why don't we head out?"
Rita agreed at once, her earlier fear of the bug torturer gone at the prospect of finally meeting Harry Potter in a formal fashion. As she stepped out of the backyard of the Delacour's summerhouse, she understood why the family moved here from Paris every summer.
The beach was certainly enticing, with gentle waves lapping at the powdery white sand, and she wondered if she could catch a tan and frolic on the beach before going home. She would certainly stand out among her fellow entertainment reporters and writers while wearing a nice, golden tan.
Julian must have noticed her look of hunger because he laughed.
"Why don't you spend a night or two at one of our guest cottages?" Julian indicated the small single rooms that lined the private stretch of beach. "I think you could use it."
Rita gave her first, honest smile in gratitude at Julian and nodded. She immediately removed her heeled shoes and walked barefoot, first on the grass near the main Delacour summer house and as she neared the sea her feet dug into the warm, almost scalding white sand.
She gave a quick glance at the famous Boy-Who-Lived as she made her way. He was currently surrounded by what looked like a group of Veelas who were enthusiastically chatting with him. She spotted a young woman and deduced it to be Fleur, as she stood near Harry and had the appropriate age as given in the previous articles.
She wore a blue summer dress, and was the only female of the group of Veela not in a scandalous bikini. She took out her camera and snapped her first picture of the Marseilles assignment, and then continued on her way to her cottage.
Two days later:
Azkaban Prison, North Sea
"Damn you." Sirius Black whispered in agony while the Dementor continued to torment him. It held a prison issue cup in its long fingers, and was currently rattling on the bars of Sirius Black's cell. It irritated the hell out of the famous prisoner and caused him agony, and the Dementor relished feeding of these emotions from the man.
Thankfully for Sirius Black, this particular dementor, smaller in stature compared to its peers, visited him only once a month, thus preventing him from being driven into madness. He was sure he'd be mad the first week if this dementor was on guard at his wing for a week. He wondered whether the strange dementor also tortured the other prisoners with this method.
"Shaddap!" Sirius barked and clamped his hands over his ears. "No more!"
His plea for help seemed to be answered when the dementor dropped the cup and fled, after a white light erupted from the wand of one of the approaching guards.
"Thank you." Sirius Black croaked, amazed by the guard's kindness.
"I didn't do it for you Black." The guard said in an even tone. "The minister's coming to visit."
"Ahh." Sirius said in a raspy voice, as if the guard's explanation answered his question. In truth it did. "Trying to bolster his falling ratings again, eh?"
"Obviously." The guard scoffed. The guards of Azkaban from time to time, grew bored at just watching the prisoners since the dementors handled any discipline problems. They sometimes spoke with the prisoners just to get rid of their boredom, but in the maximum security wing, very few were sane enough to hold a decent conversation.
Bellatrix Lestrange was the most amusing for the seasoned guards and the most terrifying, even worse than the Dementors for those in their first deployment in the island prison. She would keep spouting threats from her vile mouth that showed how sadistic and imaginative she was in ways to kill an enemy, and then proclaim her undying love for he-who-must-not-be-named. The worst was she would hump the metal bars between her legs when she spoke about was the Dark Lord, how she eagerly awaited his return and how he would reward her for her loyalty. The guards left before she got going, leaving the hallway full of her moans.
Sirius Black was the only prisoner sane enough in the maximum security wing that they could speak amicably with, and the Black scion had a sharp tongue and outrageous sense of humor. Because of his fairly good behavior, the seasoned guards gave Black more food and less exposure to the dementors if possible, but it was difficult, with him located in the maximum security wing.
They were deeply impressed with how Sirius Black managed to retain his sanity, compared to his peers who were all but lumps of flesh, their minds long broken by the dementors.
"What's the reason this time?" Sirius mused. Fudge usually made an inspection of Azkaban when his public rating approval went a steep dive to show how brave he was facing dementors and the most dangerous dark wizards. "No don't tell me. He was caught in another scandal involving his mistress?"
"That's old news." The guard made a sour face when he remembered the last scandal. "Don't remind me Black, I just ate my breakfast."
Black barked a laugh, and then it turned into a coughing fit. Azkaban was slowly killing him.
"What is it then?" Black asked after he recovered.
"Fudge managed to lose THE boy-who-lived, Harry Potter to France." The guard said. "It was shocking news. And I think even a few riots broke out in anger for losing our hero to a foreign country."
"What?" Sirius gasped.
"I'm not even sure if Harry Potter's still a British citizen. Bloody French must be laughing their pampered asses off at our incompetence." The guard continued.
Sirius slowly recovered from the shock at hearing something new about his godson. The last he heard from the guards was that Harry had just started Hogwarts. He lied back on his thin mattress and imagined how his godson was doing. He must just be like his father, Sirius thought, sorted into Gryffindor, and starting pranks from the first day and giving McGonagall no respite. Moony must have taught him many pranks by now.
Sirius Black slowly calmed down, glad that his godson was now somewhere out of reach from the Ministry of Magic. He knew there were still many supporters of Voldemort that plead to the imperious curse excuse, and they could take revenge on his godson for getting rid of their Lord. His eyes snapped open when he heard a lot of footsteps followed by flashes of light.
He noticed Cornelius was striking a pose in front of an auror carrying a camera, with his wand pointed forward. Sirius couldn't help it... he tried to control himself, but seeing Fudge's large potbelly and trying to look brave, the marauder in him couldn't resist.
"Ahhhh! Dementors!" Sirius shouted.
The effect of his shout was instantaneous. Fudge suddenly leaped backward and tried to let out a curse from his wand, but it flew from his grip and clattered to the ground. Fudge's aides dived behind the aurors who had their wands out and searching for the dementor attack.
The aurors stationed in Azkaban merely looked around. They knew there was no Dementor on the maximum security wing, and experience taught them that you'd feel a dementor's presence before you saw one. Silence ensued for a moment before they heard a deep, barking laugh from one of the cells.
"Where's the Dementor?"
Everyone in the vicinity heard Fudge's voice, and the aurors, seeing that there was no threat, moved apart, revealing a Minister of Magic huddled on the ground, shaking with fear.
"False alarm, minister." One of the aurors said. His face remained impassive, though his eyes were twinkling with amusement. He couldn't wait to tell Moody about this.
"Oh." Fudge slowly got up, while his aides picked up fallen documents that they had dropped around the vicinity.
Sirius saw a roll of newspaper and used the opportunity to snatch it through the bars while everyone were still trying to organize themselves and determine what happened.
"WHO DID IT?"
"I think it was shouted by one of the prisoners, minister." The lead auror suggested.
"Yes, yes, probably trying to cause panic!" Fudge appeared to have regained his composure, his face red and his clothes dirtied from diving into the ground. He was breathing heavily and looked at the faces of his retinue, they all looked away when he tried to meet their eyes, and he knew the reason why.
"You!" Fudge snarled at the auror holding a camera. "You got the pictures?"
"Yes minister Fudge!"
"I'll be cutting this inspection short." Fudge said to the lead auror. "Find out who caused this... distraction and punish them appropriately."
"Begging your pardon minister." The auror began. "But most of the prisoners on this wing are mad from over exposure to the dementors. It's normal for us to hear them scream every now and then.
"Oh." Fudge didn't know what to do, and looked to his aides for help. One whispered into his ear and a after a few seconds the minister of magic straightened up and glanced at his auror guard.
"It looks like I have pressing matters of the ICW waiting for me." Fudge declared. "Let's go back to the docks."
Fudge and his party quickly moved away from the maximum security wing, while a few of the Azkaban guards lingered for a moment.
"Good one Black." The lead auror said.
Sirius Black sat up after he spent several minutes with his ear on the barren stone floor, listening for any signs of the auror guards. Satisfied that he wouldn't be disturbed for the mean time, he eagerly unrolled what looked like an issue of Witch Weekly and scanned the front page.
The auror guards at the ground floor of the prison fortress momentarily stopped in their patrolling when they heard a howl from the top floor. All went back to patrolling their assigned sections, already used to the screams of prisoners, though this one was unusually loud. They all assumed that another mind had been broken by the dementors of Azkaban.
Sirius brooded in the corner of his cell, and glanced occasionally at the picture of his godson in the middle of a group of Veela in bikinis. It mocked him, no, insulted his manliness. Toss him in a cell without a trial, sure. Have him periodically tormented by Dementors? No problem. But to see his godson had already reached his ultimate dream at thirteen? It was ridiculous.
He was Sirius Black! Witches wet their panties at his mere smile. He never went to Hogsmeade with the same witch twice. And his first kiss was Rosmerta, the busty teen barmaid that all the older boys lusted at, and he was just a third year student then!
He had to do something about this, Sirius decided. He can't just leave his godson alone among those Veela. He had a responsibility to guide James Potter's son. Harry... He suddenly realized that his godson was about to marry into a family that had Veela relatives, lots of Veela relatives.
With new found resolve, Sirius Black decided that he had to go and help his godson handle the Veela horde, and maybe get some Veela love and finally achieve his wildest dream, revenge on the rat be damned. James would surely agree, though he couldn't help but marvel at his best friend's foresight into arranging a contract between his son and a Veela. He managed to arrange the whole affair under his nose! Maybe he'll find Pettigrew someday, and then give the traitorous rat his due.
Remus Lupin's house, Britain
"Damn it Sirius!" Remus rarely cursed, but when he saw that morning the front page of the daily prophet, he simply couldn't help himself. He had plans to get Sirius a trial, now that they had Pettigrew captured with confessions that he was the real traitor to the Potters.
Escaping free from prison only complicated things, and he knew it will be harder to convince Amelia Bones to give in to his request for a proper investigation into Sirius Black's case.
Remus read the rest of the article, and once the shock of having his plans come into ruins wore off, he couldn't help but smile at seeing Sirius free of the wizard prison. The marauder in him was even proud of his old friend, no doubt James was cheering his brother in all but blood in the afterlife.
He glanced at the picture of his friend and after a moment he burst out in laughter, almost spilling his cup of coffee. After a minute, he had regained enough composure to wipe tears of mirth from his face and carefully separated the front page from the rest of the newspaper. It needed to be framed, truly a work of a marauder.
Remus drained the last of his morning coffee and proceeded to floo Julian Delacour.
Spinner's End, England
"Damn you Sirius Black." Severus Snape spat his tea on his Potions Weekly paper when he read the bold words printed on the cover page. Normally Potions Weekly didn't bother to print daily news, only new developments and achievements on the field of potions making. They were forced to comply however, with the ministry decree that ordered all media print to post Sirius Black's escape along with his picture.
Severus Snape looked at the photograph of the escaped convict, and it took all of his considerable restraint not to toss the latest issue of Potions weekly into the fire. Black was mocking him again, he accurately guessed. He could see it clearly at the moving picture of Sirius Black's latest photograph, taken roughly a month before his escape.
Even though there wasn't any sound, he could clearly read the words out of Black's picture. It did not take a lip reader to see the words that came from the mutt's mouth.
Black kept on repeating those accursed words while wearing a truly wicked smile on his face before the picture looped again.
His morning was once again interrupted when he heard the loud cracks of apparition in front of his door. When he looked out the window with wand in hand, he saw several aurors standing on his lawn.
"Mr. Snape?" One of the aurors stepped forward once they saw the potions professor open his door.
"Yes? To what do I owe a visit from ministry aurors that conveniently interrupted my peaceful morning?"
"That won't work Snape." One of the older aurors growled. "We're not Hogwarts students that you can intimidate. I still remember when you were a pimple faced fifth year that wears dirty underpants and can't get a date to save his life."
The rest of the aurors sniggered while Snape's face twisted into a sneer. "If you just came here to insult me..."
"No, we came here by the Minister of Magic's orders. " The auror replied. "Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban prison this morning, and the Ministry believes that he has escaped to kill you."
"Me?" Snape scoffed. "Who is the dunderhead that came to that conclusion? Black betrayed the Potters, wouldn't it be more sensible that he escaped to kill the boy-who-lived?"
"Have you read this morning's paper Mr. Snape?"
"Yes. What has that got to do..."
"Did you see the picture?" Interrupted one of the aurors.
She removed an official ministry poster with the same photograph of Sirius Black that Snape saw in his Potions Weekly, but several times larger in size. There was a big 'Have you seen this wizard?' text at the very top, with the promise of reward from the Ministry for the information that would lead to the escaped wizard's capture.
"You can clearly see here that Black is saying something, and the department of magical law enforcement has concluded that he was saying... Snivellus." The female auror paused, clearly trying hard not to smile. Her companions though laughed softly behind her.
"Don't say that word." Snape warned, but the auror continued as if she didn't hear him.
"Now from information that we have gathered, your nickname when you were a student at Hogwarts was Snivellus..."
"IT IS NOT MY NICKNAME!" Snape roared, drawing his wand. The aurors responded, and the potions master found six wands at the hands of six aurors, their humor gone, glaring at him.
"Were you about to attack an auror, Snape?" The oldest looking auror asked menacingly.
"Good." The leader nodded to the only female among them and said "continue."
The female auror nodded and smirked at Snape then continued. "In light of this evidence, we are prepared to offer you protection until September the first where you will be safe in Hogwarts."
"No. I can handle myself, and I know Black. He's a coward that can't take on a single opponent without the help of his gang." Snape drawled.
The witch nodded, expecting Snape's answer. "Will you consent for us to station a guard in the vicinity in case Black shows up?"
"No." Snape growled.
"Good, because we really don't need your permission anyway, we were just trying to be nice." The auror said cheerfully. "Bye Snivellus!"
The aurors laughed and disappeared in a loud crack, leaving an auror who grinned at the potions master and then tapped himself on the wand, leaving his body disillusioned. Snape turned around and headed inside his house, anxious to floo Dumbledore.
Headmaster's office, Hogwarts
'Damn.' Albus Dumbledore eyed the bowl that was used to be full of Lemon Drops. He had just arrived at hearing the news of Sirius Black's escape, and asked the Hogwarts staff to meet inside his office once again to address the situation.
He eyed his familiar's perch, and once again Fawkes was absent, and the ancient wizard wondered when the phoenix developed a taste for his Lemon Drops. His familiar was the only one, bar House elves, that could have taken his candy.
The door to his office opened, and as expected his Deputy was the first to arrive, followed by the Pomona Sprout and Madam Pomfrey. They all look disgruntled at having their vacation time cut short, but tried to hide it from him. Dumbledore smiled and flicked his wand, and three comfortable chairs appeared, and indicated for them to sit.
"I apologize for disturbing your well deserved rests." Dumbledore began. "But recent news has forced me to call this meeting as soon as possible."
"We understand headmaster." Minerva replied. "It's about Sirius Black's escape, isn't it?"
Dumbledore nodded. "That's the primary reason. I have also asked old friends to come to this meeting. Let us wait for a few more minutes."
"How was your vacation Headmaster?" Pomona asked.
"The prey remains elusive." Albus smiled at his joke, though his staff didn't get it by the looks they gave each other.
"Albus?" Madam Pomfrey asked.
"My quest for a defense professor." Dumbledore replied. "And I have to say, it is quite fitting that Remus should teach now when his old friend has escaped prison. I feel that the school and her students will be much safer with someone who knows Sirius Black, and could act accordingly to prevent any harm to Hogwarts and the students."
McGonagall seemed pleased with the headmaster's choice and voiced out her thoughts. "We finally have a competent teacher on the subject. I assume the Shrieking shack will be used for Remus' condition?"
"Yes. Though I need volunteers for the times Remus will be unavailable to teach, the night of the full moon and the day after."
"I'll volunteer Headmaster." Minerva said. "I'm sure Filius will gladly volunteer his time too."
"I'll volunteer too headmaster." Pomona added cheerfully.
"Excellent!" Albus said, and his eyes twinkled to its full blast.
The door opened and Severus Snape marched in, followed by Aurora Sinistra, Filius Flitwick and Alastor Moody.
From the way Severus was giving Alastor a dirty look, Dumbledore deduced that they had an argument on their way to his office, and Alastor seemed to enjoy infuriating the potions professor.
"Now that we are seated, I'd like to thank everyone for their prompt response to my request." Dumbledore began. "Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban, and it is widely believed that he is targeting our Potions Professor."
Everyone nodded, except for Aurora Sinistra, the professor that had the senior professor next to the Headmaster and the Heads of houses. "Headmaster, how did they arrive to that conclusion?"
Snape transferred his glare to Sinistra, who merely ignored it, already used to the broody potions master.
"It's this." Moody pulled a paper from his cloak, and held it for everyone to see. It was the Ministry poster that every auror was issued to show to the public. "This was a photograph of Black a month prior to his escape. As you can see he's chanting Snivellus..."
"SHUT UP!" Snape shouted. His mood did not improve with Sinistra's giggles.
He rounded on the senior auror and snarled, spittle flying out as he spoke. "First, it's your aurors coming into my home and insulting me. I suppose that's to be expected, with you teaching them."
"I'm teaching them just fine." Moody grinned. "They're not really tolerant of those who have received the mark, so watch your tongue around my aurors. Wilkins wanted to curse your oily hair on fire."
"Back to the topic." Dumbledore ordered. He gave the witches and wizards around his office a disapproving look before he continued. "Because of this, the ministry has decided to send dementors to guard the school."
The headmaster held up his hand to silence the protests of the professors. "Naturally, I objected to Minister Fudge's proposal, but sadly my authority does not extend beyond the perimeter of the school grounds. Dementors will patrol beyond the grounds of Hogwarts."
"Director Bones was furious." Moody added. "She was more than willing to send a full complement of aurors, but Fudge ignored her."
"Tell Director Bones that I am grateful for her support, and that any aurors will be welcome inside the grounds, provided they do not interrupt our day to day activities."
Moody waved off his concern. "My aurors knows how to be discreet. And I think this will be a good opportunity for our trainees to gain experience."
"Albus, you said you were still looking for Remus to teach Defense against the Dark arts?" Minerva asked.
"The werewolf? Headmaster you can't be thinking to hire that man, especially now with his cohort Black on the loose!" Snape exclaimed. He had argued several times against the hiring of the werewolf, and he thought Dumbledore would pick another candidate. "He could very well allow him inside the castle!"
"Scared that he'll get you Snape?" Moody asked. The veteran auror looked back at Dumbledore and nodded. "Good choice to pick the werewolf. He would have been a good auror if it weren't for his condition. Knew his parents, decent and vigilant folks."
"Remus Lupin is a capable wizard, regardless of his condition." Dumbledore said. "Once I locate him that is. I have searched for his current residence, but the man is proving to be hard to find."
Moody nodded, no doubt he approved of Lupin's ability to remain hidden. "It will be also good for him to see James Potter's boy."
At the mention of Harry Potter, the mood around the office drastically changed. The professors seemed to realize that Sirius Black is coming to Hogwarts, not just to kill Snape, but perhaps to finish the job his master has failed to accomplish.
A burst of fire appeared high above Dumbledore's desk, and immediately Moody pointed a wand at the direction of the disturbance.
Fawkes appeared and circled the room, singing a short tune before he landed on Dumbledore's shoulder. The headmaster lightly stroked the phoenix's feathers, and lightly admonished his familiar. "You could have left a few lemon drops for me Fawkes. Do you know how hard it is to get them in muggle London?"
Fawkes merely let out a trill and flew to his golden perch and observed the various wizards and witches inside the office.
"Fawkes has decided to visit since he noticed that I have guests." Albus explained.
"Do you think he'll come here to get Harry Potter?" Minerva asked.
"It's the most likely conclusion." Dumbledore answered.
"And how is the Potter boy's situation in France?" Moody asked.
"Julian Delacour continues to deny my request to increase additional wards in his home." Dumbledore sighed. "I have resorted to using my political connections to get Harry Potter back, though it is proving difficult with France blocking my every move."
"And the recent article about Harry Potter's peaceful life in France isn't helping your cause, Headmaster." Minerva added.
"We should start training Potter to defend himself." Moody suggested as he rubbed his chin. "He could at least cast a decent stunning curse and a shield with enough training. I assume he's not lacking in power?"
"Not a squib like Longbottom." Snape answered. "But the Potter boy seems to have no ambition in life."
"You looked into his mind!" Filius Flitwick looked angry at the thought of one his Ravens having their mind invaded without permission.
"I did no such thing." Snape sneered. "Those adept at the mind arts, once we mastered the art, develop a passive skill that scans the surface thoughts of those who meet our eyes for more than a glance. Those who have unorganized minds are easily read without effort. I saw Potter's surface thoughts while he just submitted a sample of his potion, and his thoughts were on food and what spot in Hogwarts is the best for his afternoon nap!"
The professors laughed at his statement, while Dumbledore looked thoughtful.
"He's just like your phoenix, Headmaster. All thoughts on food and sleep! An airhead!" Snape declared.
Fawkes flapped his wings angrily and disappeared in a burst of fire, though no one noticed it as Flitwick answered to defend one of his Ravens. "Harry Potter may appear aloof at times, but he is a gifted wizard, I assure you!"
"He maybe a fair student, but have you really observed your Raven, Filius?" Snape asked. He was in a foul mood since early morning, and had been looking for someone to direct it to. "That boy has no ambition in life. He avoids the school rivalries, does not join extracurricular activities or clubs, and barely talks to anyone, not even his roommates for two years. Something is wrong with him."
"It's as if you wish the boy was acting more like a Gryffindor, Severus." Minerva observed. "Frankly, I see nothing wrong with him. He had a terrible childhood after all, and he is just learning to adjust to the wizarding world. The poor boy..."
Moody sniffed a couple of times and his right eye immediately spotted faint swirls of smoke rising from Fawkes' pan under his perch. He was about to ask the reason for the smoke when the voice of Cornelius Fudge came out of the floo.
"Dumbledore?" Fudge's voice sounded desperate.
"Excuse me a moment." Albus said to his colleagues. "I have a privacy charm around the floo to insure the privacy of our meeting. Let's see what the Minister wants."
The rest of the teachers waited patiently while Dumbledore sat in a smaller chair in front of the floo, though they could not hear and see the person he was speaking with along with what Albus answered in reply.
Moody looked around, and noticed that Snape still simmered in his chair, though he looked better than when he entered the office. No doubt that the surly professor had vented his anger during his rant and now looked content. Moody's eyebrow rose up when he saw Snape take a deep breath and release a sigh.
"What's that smell?" Pomona sniffed. She was seated near Fawkes' perch and seemed curious at the source of the smoke. The other looked around, and noticed that the room was slightly hazy from the smoke. They hadn't noticed it before because they were all concentrating on the meeting except for Moody.
"It's coming from the phoenix's perch." Moody replied, and took out his wand. "I'll vanish it if you want."
"No, it's really pleasant." Pomona smiled. "It's a herb I've never smelled before."
"It's probably another of the Headmaster's strange ways of relaxing, and Fawkes must have accidentally ignited it." Minerva said. She drained the last of her tea and let out a small burp. "Pardon me."
"It's alright Minerva." Flitwick giggled. The diminutive professor took a deep breath himself and exhaled loudly. "Marvelous. This smoke is not at all unpleasant, vastly different from tobacco leaves."
"Though it's a bit stingy in the eyes." Madam Pomfrey observed. Beside her, the astronomy professor was humming a tune in her corner between sips of her tea while Snape was mumbling something that sounded like snivellus.
"Sissy." The potions professor sneered and closed his eyes again, relishing the relaxed atmosphere. "I wonder if the Headmaster can give me a sample of his herbs. I can develop a potion that maybe more effective than the calming draught, judging by the effects of the smoke."
"I'll help you Severus. This can revolutionize the treatment for patients!" Pomfrey gushed.
Moody frowned as he looked at bottom of his canister. It had been filled with whiskey during the start of the meeting and he did not drink the tea that was offered at the table. The veteran auror shrugged and continued to tap his artificial leg on the floor, his thoughts suddenly on the next lesson he would teach his promising apprentice. The image of Nymphadora Tonks and her familiar caused him to grin, he enjoyed the little training sessions he had with both witch and feline.
"Say Minnie..." Moody said, unaware (or perhaps he didn't care) of the looks that the other professor gave him. "Being a cat animagus and all, how sharp are cat's senses?"
"Why do you ask?" Minerva asked. She had removed her glasses and was now holding what looked like gin in her hands.
"I have this auror trainee, Nymphadora Tonks. Really promising lass." Moody answered. "She has a really strong connection with her cat familiar. I was wondering if such a bond can be used out in the field."
"I remember her." Minerva smiled. "A bit clumsy, but excellent in transfiguration. What was the question again?"
"I... forgot." Moody massaged his temples while the others save Snape, laughed.
Harry Potter's eyes suddenly snapped open, startling Fleur who was watching her younger sister pile more sand on top of Harry, only leaving his head and feet to stick out. Gabrielle didn't notice, and continued to gather more sand into her bucket before she happily dumped it on her favorite playmate.
"What is it?" Fleur asked.
"I don't know." Harry tried to remove his hand buried under a pile of sand, but stopped at Gabrielle's protest. "I feel like I'm missing something very pleasant to watch."
"Harry, sometimes, you're really weird."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked. Gabrielle came back and started to put shells she picked on the beach over Harry's sand entombed form, grinning from ear to ear.
"What could be more pleasant than this?" Fleur swept her arm around, and Harry looked at the wide expanse of beach, with Fleur's cousins playing in the surf while Apolline, a vision of perfection in Harry's opinion in her attire, chased her husband with her arms on her chest since Julian had snatched her top while she was tanning.
"You're right." Harry agreed. The young thief closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.
A/N: Had to cut this short. The pacing of the story will increase from this point. It seems we're all looking forward to the Triwizard tournament.
Edited, with help from wolf550e.