A/N 16.10.2014: I've received several reviews with regards to the first person/present tense issue, that I'd like to address: Yes, it's first person, yes, it's present tense - it is one way of telling the story, nothing more. It's a matter of style and of course any style isn't everybody's taste. Everyone has a right to their personal taste and it was mine for this story (as well as two others, 'Exile in Switzerland' and 'Chronicles' while we're at it). I did feel a bit rankled when a reviewer mentioned that not only was it first person and present tense, but by a 'relatively minor character'. In this story Remus Lupin is the second main character, which is stated in the main characters in the story details. So he may be a relatively minor character in the books, but you're not reading the books here, you're reading glimpses of the books at best. Therefore the character telling a story *is* a main character.
I apologise for the public address, but the review was from a 'guest' and couldn't be replied to personally. As the story has been completed for a while no new chapter could be used for the note.
A/N: This is my take on a „Harry goes back" story. It will be fairly short, and maybe a bit radical. It will be told from two points of view for the most part, one is Remus, the other is Hermione. Harry provides a third occasional POV. A pet peeve of mine is running a story from a single POV because certain things need to be kept secret for the outcome to work out. Personally I think that's poor penmanship.
Pairings will be strictly Harry/Hermione, Remus/Sirius and probably I'll throw in some others, because I like the characters. A few OCs will turn up, but they're not running, they're only supporting the story.
Manipulative Dumbledore, will be taken care of early. Powerful Harry with plenty of backbone, support and some radical ideas. I admit that I avoid most of the reasoning on how Harry manages to go back in time, but the fact must suffice, as it's what he starts to do with his second chance that forms the story.
Again? – Hell, no! But…
Chapter 1 – An eye-opener or two
Rainbow Cottage, New Forest – 17.06.1989
It's another morning and I get up to go about my business as every other day since I've left school. No real work, but I have two or three magazines that accept my articles for small contributions on a regular basis. I'm glad for these, because this bit of work has at least allowed me to live through these harsh times ever since I've lost all of my friends.
Every day I'm thinking of them. They're all dead or dead to me, anyway. I find that the memory is even vanishing quickly, but I know I've had them, I know they were real, that I went to Hogwarts with them and that we were friends. But that's about as much as I know. I even remember what their names were though I also wonder why I can't remember anything else.
To have lost most memories of them is just about the greatest tragedy in my life – I think. I've come to the conclusion that someone must have taken them from me by obliviation, but I have no idea who it could be! I'm so grateful that Albus helped me to work for these magazines, to be able to study and research and write. It's what I love best and at least it helps me to keep my cottage and puts enough food on the table to keep going.
Though I don't really know what for. I feel completely empty on most mornings. I know that there are things I should remember, but they're not there to remember.
Anyway, I'm getting up as every morning, having tried in vain to remember what it was that lost me James, Lily and Sirius. I go about my bathroom routine, then I take the way down the steps to the kitchen, where I find my two hungry cats, Selene and Solaris. I quickly feed them. They're my everything these days. The only ones who want some love from me.
A look to the clock on the kitchen wall tells me that it's my usual time for breakfast, just before eight o'clock in the morning. As I watch the cats eat their own breakfast I move to the pantry and get what I want to eat. It's not a lot, but enough for me to live almost comfortably. My parents have left me a wonderful cottage and I have my magic, enough to survive. I suppose it's a lonely existence, but it does fit my taste. I'm on my own, but I do have a quiet, peaceful life.
Breakfast is prepared with a few waves of my wand and as I lift my teacup for my first sip there's an owl tapping on my kitchen window. Instead of the cup I pick up my wand to open the window and let it inside. Probably one of the publishers asking for an article on a certain subject.
It's an owl I've never seen before. It delivers the letter and hops on the back of a free chair, looking at me expectantly.
"I suppose you'll be expecting an answer, aren't you?"
A little bow from the owl tells me that it is so. I feed her some of my freshly cooked bacon and pick up the letter to slit it open. As soon as I have it in my hands I notice that it's not a letter from a publisher as it's written on a sheet of normal paper, not parchment. I unfold the single page.
"Dear Uncle Moony
I'm sure you wonder who I am to call you this, don't you? Let me be blunt: my name is Harry James Potter and I'm your friend James' son…"
Harry! There's one of the memories that were gone! How could it be gone like that? I've completely forgotten Harry's existence! Not that it triggers any more memories, but at least I remember that little Harry was born in summer 1980. I quickly summon a piece of parchment and note down some facts I can remember from the past nineteen years from the day I went off to school. There aren't many. I have memories back to about eight years ago, no, even less, I think they are going back to about Christmas 1981 and even the ones I have are hazy? What the heck is wrong with me? I'm a scholar, I should be able to remember my own childhood, shouldn't I? I mean, I can't even remember why he calls me 'Moony'? Must be some joke about my condition, I suppose. I read on:
"I don't know why you aren't in my life, I only know that my parents were killed on Halloween 1981 and I was given to my mum's sister Petunia when I was only one year old. Don't ask me in written form how I come to know about you being one of my 'uncles', but I now know you were one of my dad's best friends at school.
Okay, so I know a lot more, but I cannot possibly put it down in a letter. I have summoned this owl from the play park that's near my aunt's house. I think it's reliable and inconspicuous. Can you do me a favour, trust me, and send your address back to me so that I can write to you by Muggle postal service? There are things going on that we have to talk about and find out.
I'm only eight years old, I'll turn nine in a few weeks, and I've become aware of the magic in me, but my relatives never told me anything. You'll probably think that no eight year old would be able to write the way I do, and you're probably right. I have my reasons, though right now I'm not able to write much better than this.
Anyway, tell me where I can reach you, I'd like to get to know you!
Love and hugs from
I'm speechless. Looking at the meagre two lines of notes on my parchment I quickly decide that yes, I'm sending him my address.
It's a sad and happy day at the same time since your owl just reached me a few minutes ago. For some reasons my memories of you and my friends are very, very hazy and I'm not sure if this isn't some elaborated prank, but I'd gladly receive letters from you! Your owl will reach me at Rainbow Cottage, New Forest. I have lived here since quite early in my childhood. If in any way possible you'd be welcome to spend some holiday time here!
With my best regards
Remus J. Lupin"
I hand the small letter to the owl, who picks it up and leaves through the window without further ado. I eat my breakfast and contemplate the letter. Harry probably thinks I still know, but I don't!
In the end I clean up the kitchen and head upstairs to find the ladder to the loft, to see if I have some stuff up there that would trigger more memories! Someone has been playing with my head big time and I don't like it one little bit. I'm just about to go up when I notice the small alarm ward around the cottage going off. It tells me when someone arrives by apparition. In the past years it has only gone off when Albus arrived here or Poppy. I turn around and go down to see, which of them it is.
It's neither. I'm speechless to see a small boy with unruly black hair, shabby, baggy clothes and glasses that seem to be kept together by a few bits of sticky tape in the small space between the garden fence and my door. How could he get there? But something in his face makes me stop – he has the greenest eyes I've ever seen on anybody! I know it should mean something to me! What is it?
"Good morning, uncle Moony!"
There is that name again.
"Hello? You must be Harry? How do you get here?"
"I may look only eight years old, but I'm a bit more than that. Would you let me enter, please? I'm going to tell you some absolutely unbelievable things, and you'll have to trust me, but then we can go about healing each other!"
"Yes, of course! Please come inside. You look quite hungry, I'll fix you a little breakfast while you tell me your story, okay?"
"Would you? Thanks! I haven't had anything for two days and I've only just managed to get out of my relatives' house."
"Not eaten for two days? Come in quickly, Harry, that's not good news at all!"
I usher him into the kitchen. He looks around with curious eyes and smiles.
"This is a lovely place! My aunt's house looks spotless, but soulless. Your home looks spotless and like it has a great big heart that's beating here. Like home…" he says quietly.
"Thank you, Harry. It's probably the soul it received from my parents. They were wonderful people."
"You said in your letter that you have very few memories of your friends?"
"Yes, that's right."
"Let me start by telling you that I know you've been obliviated. It's been a cruel, cruel thing to do, and you probably won't believe me when I tell you that the person who obliviated you also forced you to implicitly trust him by using compulsion spells and possibly potions. I do think he didn't use Imperius on you, but I wouldn't be surprised if he proved me wrong on even that bit of trust I have left in him."
"How do you know all that?" I ask, while at the same time I'm shocked.
The only person I see these days and the only one I implicitly trust is the headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore.
"Because I'm my eight year old me, but I'm also my 35 year old me at the same time."
I manage to set down the plate of fry-up breakfast in front of him – probably with a bang, as he looks a bit surprised. Then I have to sit down because I'm so shocked! There's still something like a pad of cotton in my head, but only now I realise it's there! Definitely too many exclamation marks in my mind I manage to think.
"Yes, I know, it was a shock for me as well. Before I go into any lengthy explanations let me lift those horrible spells from you and while I eat you'll have time to think over what you've just received back, okay?"
I'm only telling him to go ahead because I'm having some newly found doubts about myself. Knowing that I should know some things when I really don't should make any wizard suspicious!
"May I use your wand as I haven't one yet?" he asks politely.
"Yes, you may, here!"
I hand him over my wand and he starts to incant and murmur a series of spells that I've never heard of – and I pride myself in knowing an awful lot of spells! As he hands me back my wand I can feel something in my head, almost as if water was dribbling from a tap. Like there were memories dripping inside, one by one and when I see some of them I faint.
I come around and find myself on the sofa in the living room, Harry looks at me anxiously, but when I smile and nod, he lets go a breath that sounds relieved.
"Phew! I knew it would not be easy on you, but I didn't know it would knock you out, uncle Moony. I let you rest up while I go back to the kitchen, okay?"
"Yes, that's fine – thank you, Harry."
"Rummage around and familiarise yourself with yourself again. I think you haven't been who you should be for a few years!"
It's like a flood! Not only do I remember James, Lily and Sirius, I remember our relationships, and I remember a fourth friend, Peter and many others. I can now remember all the years I've missed from my memory, our school years, the few years after school when we fought in the war – THAT'S IT! There are the main memories, the ones I should hold dear! The ones I should know! AAARGH! It's too much, it's too painful! All the friends we've lost, the secrets that were betrayed. Then another hammer hits me, I remember my time with my best friend and lover, Sirius, and how he betrayed us! Now I know that he's not dead, he's at Azkaban. I want to scream, but instead tears roll down my cheeks about a love that's lost. He betrayed us! How could he do that? But – that's not how he really was, is it? Could he have done it?
I rummage around a bit more and remember baby Harry. He made us smile every day from the morning he arrived to the day we lost each other. I think we all fought for him, for a chance that he may live in happiness. More tears; I don't stop them or try to hold them back, it's simply too much.
After a while I start to come back and hear the noise of Harry, eating in the kitchen and then cleaning it up. He comes back over and gives me back my wand.
"I've used it to clean up again, thanks for the excellent food," he says. "How do you feel?"
"Thank you, Harry! I think I've existed for eight years and I didn't know that I missed something. I just remembered that I had friends, some of their names, but nothing otherwise. You seem to know who abused me?"
"I do. I don't, however, know whether you'll accept it when I tell you."
"I might have a suspicion. But you're right, it's extremely hard to accept… tell me!"
Harry sits down next to me as I sit upright again. Selene comes and jumps up on the sofa to get some of the cuddles she loves. While I absentmindedly caress her, Harry starts with his own tale:
"I have already lived through a horror life for 35 years. I simply couldn't bear it anymore and decided to end it. I'll tell you everything that happened in that life, but I will start at the end for now. I have ended it by jumping through the Veil of Death, Remus. It was on Halloween 2015 and I had just left my wife and her two children. I say 'her children' because I hadn't fathered them. I had stopped touching her the moment she got me to marry her. I decided to end it because there was no way to get out of that marriage, as she had told me she wanted the old marriage bond, which is, as you know, unbreakable, so I took the leap into the Veil of Death in the Department of Mysteries.
"But I wasn't dead when I went in there. To my endless surprise I found myself in some sort of a limbo, where I was told I couldn't move on to the realm of the dead because I wasn't already dead when I chose that exit. I was told I had two options – to stay there eternally, never able to fully die or to go back to any point in my life to get things done better and to avoid all of the mistakes I made. Doesn't mean I can't make any new mistakes, of course, but with what I know of the future I can set things right and look forward to other things to come my way. It affects the magical world in the whole, Remus. When I left there were fewer than half of the people I loved left alive. You were dead and the horrors of the second war threw you into the arms of a woman, as Sirius was already dead…"
I blush. So he knows about my relationship with Sirius… he probably also knows that I'm a werewolf. But I stay quiet and spur him on to tell me all of his story.
"…in short it was a horrid world. Being used and abused was the theme of my life. Being manipulated by Albus Dumbledore practically from the day I was born was the main thread of that life. So, when I got the option to go back to any time of my life of my choice I went back to three days ago as I thought this is now the time when I can go about making those decisions that would change everything for the better."
He then launches into a story of his years at the Dursleys', of his years at Hogwarts, of his friends or the ones he thought were his friends, of the many friends he's made on the way at Hogwarts and how he lost some of them to the killing curses of the Death Eaters, of the manipulations and machinations of the headmaster, of the further horror of his marriage to a woman he thought he knew and loved.
"That was the final draw. The drop that made the barrel run over. The moment I knew it's impossible to live on. Ginny had been dosing me, and Hermione, for years with the strongest love potions she could brew. It was an awful feeling to find myself in an unbreakable marriage, Remus, there was no way I could possibly go on with that. The only way was to end it permanently. She had what she had wanted, the Potter title and the Potter fortune. From day one in our marriage she spent what she could and never cared about me anymore at all. Day after day I lived in a house full of contempt and saw her spending my family's money and flirting with everything that had a cock, just as long as it wasn't me. She slept around and I let it happen, feeling too betrayed to even start to do anything about it. She fell pregnant and before she told me she did sleep with me, then claimed it to be my kid, and that twice. None of them were. They were eight and five when I left and both weren't cared for as they should, because I wasn't allowed to bring them up as I wanted, she kept me away by forcing me into public appearances so that her name would be in the papers constantly."
How horrible is that? I can't but ask:
"Who would be so cruel, Harry?"
"Ginevra Weasley. I should have known from the moment I overheard her mother talk about love potions she brewed herself when she was a teenager. You know that these potions don't stick, they have to be administered on regular intervals if you want them to keep working, but not only did I resist them for years, it took a portion close to an overdose to actually get me to propose to her. She continued with them for several years, probably weakening them and then stopped using them when we got married and there was a first child. She only needed me to accept the child as mine and then she would have free reign over all of my possessions. My person, she stepped over like I was just dust under her shoes."
"You mentioned Hermione was also doped?"
"Oh yes. Molly Weasley wanted someone for Ron who would do all the work – not only the housework, but also working for their living, because Ron was a lazy lay-about who would never do anything. He constantly insulted Hermione and put her down, but he forced her to work so he could stay at home and do nothing. He regularly took advantage of her even before they were married, and even though Hermione withstood the power of the potion for as long as I did she finally gave in when Ginny had broken my will. Probably didn't see another option anymore. Using such potions is nothing else but rape, Remus! It's an absolute crime and should be treated like an Unforgivable, because there's not much of a difference between a love potion and an Imperius curse, believe me!"
"I would agree with that, Harry."
"Well, that's the story, or most of it. My soul and memories have been implanted back in my body of the almost nine-year-old three days ago. Once I became aware of the facts and my back-story I apparated right into Gringotts and went to see about my inheritance. Dumbledore has denied me my rightful inheritance once, but not a second time, Moony! I then went to the vault and found something that will prove Sirius' innocence, even without the rat, but as I also happen to know where the rat is our proof will be twice as hard. I want you to contact Madam Bones, if she's already the head of the DMLE, and ask her for a possibility to speak with her. Just remember that we have to swim under Dumbledore's radar, so we possibly have to move on to Potter Manor, where he won't be able to reach us. I will ditch his wards at Privet Drive if you allow me to use your wand again, because there are some spells on me through which he checks up on my health and whereabouts. I don't think he's looking over the tracking charms very strictly, because he thinks I know nothing of the magic yet and can't go very far, but I prefer to err on the side of caution."
I start to work my Marauder brain again. Gosh, it's been so long since I've planned our pranks, but I find that the memories are now streaming back in my brain. For the first time in years I'm thinking clearly and not only when I work on some studies, but in connection with the world around me beyond my cottage and the store where I buy my edibles.
Harry tells me all about his knowledge of the headmaster's deceptions and machinations, not only his manipulation of Harry and myself, but what he got from his political clout and how he bound Fawkes, the phoenix to him.
"After Dumbledore's death at the end of my sixth year we all thought that Fawkes was lamenting his death, but in truth, and how Fawkes informed me much later on Dumbledore had used some horrid dark ritual to bind the phoenix to himself, it wasn't lament, it was happiness. He knew what a powerful signal the bond with a phoenix would give. And it did. Everyone who ever started to distrust him was pointed out how a phoenix would never stay with someone who would stray from the Light.
"Of course it was also that he actually thought he was working for the good of the people, but in thinking that he stepped over at least thirty or more lives that he willingly manipulated until they either died, killed themselves, sacrificed themselves or were left a vegetable. He has used so many of you and your friends it's not even funny! The Prewett brothers for example, what do you know about their deaths?"
"Just that it took five of them to kill them. Gideon and Fabian were formidable wizards, Harry, you would have liked them if you like the Weasley twins the way you describe them…"
"Well, these five were only there because Wormtail had sent them there – on Dumbledore's order more or less, too. Sirius only sits in Azkaban because Dumbledore set him up. He then went to have him sent to prison without even so much as a trial. He did it so I was left without any other possible guardians – which, by the way is not true, as my parents have set up wills and trust funds for a whole list of possible magical guardians, one of the surviving ones is you, one is Minerva McGonagall, one is Augusta Longbottom just to name a few, but Dumbledore in his function as the head of the Wizengamot had those wills sealed until I would come around and ask for them. He knew he couldn't deny that right to me, but since I was stuck in Privet Drive knowing nothing about anything I never had so much as an idea of any existing, non-executed wills of my parents. In fact I never learned about them until I received a letter from Gringotts after Dumbledore's death, asking me to claim my inheritance. I wanted to but then we went on the Horcrux hunt and I never got there for two years."
"Horcrux hunt?" I whisper.
"Oh yes, Horcruxes. Dumbledore knew all along about Voldemort's means of immortality. Looks like you've already heard of them?"
"I have read about some people having made a Horcrux to survive, but none of them has ever truly come back. I know that Voldemort isn't completely dead, just like these people aren't, but they have to be brought back by someone, they cannot do it alone."
"That someone in my previous life was Wormtail, Remus, he brought Voldemort back using my blood, taken by force – and believe me, if I had known that I would have given it freely, it would have weakened Voldemort significantly! – flesh from his servant, willingly given, and bone remnants from Voldemort's father. A horrible ritual! And one that could have been easily avoided if Dumbledore hadn't let the Death Eater at Hogwarts in Alastor Moody disguise enter me into a Triwizard Tournament. I don't even know where to start the list of things I could, should have noticed of Dumbledore's manipulations concerning me. I got invitation letters to Hogwarts, in their hundreds, but my uncle kept me from reading even one of them. In the end Dumbledore sent Hagrid to give me my letter and take me shopping, carefully avoiding any closer contact I might get to the magical world. I wasn't very studious then, Moony, because back at the Dursleys' I was punished every time I brought home a better mark on a test than Dudley. Which means that just about every test I wrote I had to underachieve, because Dudley is really, really stupid. I mean really dumb. He never worked either. I would have loved to work for school, but they quickly beat that out of me. A very good fortune for Dumbledore, because me being inhibited, almost retarded, not asking questions, trying to solve every problem I came across myself and as stealthily I could, all things that were plus points in Dumbledore's favour and big, big negative points where I was concerned. In my eyes he looked like my saviour from that horrible place where I had grown up and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. How should I have had the maturity to know? Or even to suspect? Only when I started to look back did I see the patterns. There were dozens of signs, dozens of little events that gave me hints, but I could only see them as manipulations once I established the connections between the events, myself and Dumbledore. But when I realised that it was too late."
I nod. It all looks sensible and logical. I already start to take mental notes of how to proceed. Harry says quietly:
"He may notice I'm out of his hands by the time I nailed my proper guardianship down. We will have to go to Gringotts together and get those wills out of my parents' vaults. The goblins will give me what's mine, of that I'm certain. It's proper business behaviour after all and while they are really hot for anything gold they're also painstakingly correct. They know it's against magical law to keep the magical inheritance from a member of an Old House. And as you know the Potters are about as Noble and Most Ancient as they come about. I know that Dumbledore was trying to get my line annihilated to get a nibble at their fortune. The Dumbledores were upstarts compared to even the Malfoys who are certainly nowhere near as old a family as the Potters."
"In fact, in England they only go back a few generations. That's why they don't even have a title of Noble, let alone Most Ancient here in England, much to Lucius' chagrin. They came from France at the time of the Huguenot rebellions and were able to get out with all their money and valuables. 1684 that was, shortly before the Edict of Nantes was recalled by Louis XIV. Which means that if caught they would not only have been tried for being magical, but also for being members of the Reformed Church."
"Ah! That explains a lot. I suppose not even Fudge would be able to give him that title."
"No, that would have to be the Wizengamot, but while Lucius keeps close contacts to Ministry officials he has only a small influence on the Wizengamot. That doesn't mean too much as most of the Wizengamot members are dead old and not too bothered about taking money for votes. And many of them are also associated with the pureblood agenda."
"Well, it may come as a shock to you, but I plan on actually eliminating a whole number of people. And by eliminating I mean just that. Only it will look like accidents. In the past three days I have devised a number of occasions where everyone who was cleared on the claim of being Imperiused will be taken out of the equation. They are all of them members of Voldemort's inner circle and every one of them has committed numerous murders and tortured numerous people. They will simply vanish off the face of the earth while Dumbledore still believes me to be safely at Privet Drive."
"I'm with you all the way, Harry. And then we'll get Padfoot out of that hole!"
"Yes. But unfortunately he'll probably have to sit it out for another year. He'll manage, Remus, we'll help him soon to get stronger. He'll get out of there as soon as we can clear his name. I just have to do a few things before that can happen. Together we'll be able to take out the last obstacles before this magical world can rebuild itself – Dumbledore and about ten of the top Ministry personnel are among them. We'll have the element of surprise and some cleverness on our part will make it possible and not at all too difficult. Once I have my inheritance we'll do two things: we get rid of the Horcruxes, the ones we can, that is, and we'll get rid of the Death Eater scum. As soon as that's done we'll get Sirius out and clear my guardian. And then we proceed to take on the remaining idiots."
I have to smile. He really has big plans. To be honest I'm scared shitless, but he has invaluable knowledge about people and items we need to take care of. I'm probably one of only a handful of people around here who know about the existence of the ghastly thing that's a Horcrux. If Harry knows what they are, where they are and how they can be destroyed then we stand a good chance of getting rid of them. And by the looks of it he knows that exactly.
"What are the Horcruxes? Hell, even to know he's made more than one makes me sick!"
"It does, doesn't it? Well, rest assured that we're two of about ten or twelve people who even know about Horcruxes, and that makes this part much, much easier. It needs to go hand in hand in taking out the Death Eaters and some inquiries we can only make once some of them are gone."
"What are they? And how many are we talking?"
"He's attempted to make seven parts of his soul – six in Horcruxes and the remaining part in his body, which is now a spirit, inhabiting animals and occasionally people. I don't know if you already know that to make a Horcrux it takes committing cold-blooded murder and a ritual following the murder immediately. Half of the soul in the murderer's body will then be split away to go into the Horcrux. It is to be assumed that he made five before I finished him off temporarily. That means that Voldemort is left with a 32nd of his soul. No wonder he looks like a snake, is it? Dumbledore thinks that the scar on my head is an accidental Horcrux, but I know that this is a lie. The main reason that this is impossible is that the ritual has to be done AFTER the murder, not before; he was dead before he could even utter a word and without the ritual there's no Horcrux. More information Dumbledore withheld when he told me about them. Another reason is the protection I got from mum's sacrifice. She offered her life to Voldemort and he fell for it easily, not recognising that by sacrificing herself for me she put a protection on me he wouldn't be able to break. That's about the only thing Dumbledore got right: Voldemort does not understand, nor does he want to understand, the concept of love. He thinks he has it right to say that there's no good or bad, there's only power and you have to have the courage to use that power to make you better. Only he doesn't feel better, he feels as rubbish as he has all his life, but that's neither here nor there – he'll have to be resurrected only to be killed instantly. Maybe that's not even necessary, the spirit might be a goner if all of his Horcruxes are destroyed, but again I'd rather err on the side of caution."
I'm stunned. I never knew that about Lily! But it fits my friend who was a kindred spirit in many ways. We studied together and we did that well! Had I not fallen in love with Sirius she would have been the one I might have gone for. She was the only one in Gryffindor tower who knew about my werewolf and didn't care. It didn't stop her from regularly demanding that I reign in my friends, but I turned a deaf ear and blind eye to that, as Prongs usually only went after people who were poison to the rest of the world. She came to that conclusion herself once he managed to actually behave when she was around. I'm just musing about this as Harry says:
"You know what the worst thing was? Knowing that Dumbledore protected Snape from any prosecution and letting him run free to maltreat every student at Hogwarts that wasn't a Slytherin while Sirius was stuck at Azkaban hardly remembering what day it was. It was so unjust I'm still screaming inside! And the top of the horror was when Snape told me that Dumbledore thought I was a Horcrux and I had to die in order for the Horcrux to be destroyed. And then he even went on to say how he loved my mum and wanted her for himself! It still makes me vomit! Turns my stomach every time I even think about it. And I took the bait, went out and allowed him to kill me. In truth, when he did use Avada Kedavra on me it was my mum's protection again that saved me, only this time, and I think it's because there was my blood running through his veins I was really dead for a moment. He never knew what hit him when I came back alive and rather spoiled his triumph."
Stunned again. Every little bit that Harry tells me makes me aware of the lie I have been living with these past years. I can't believe how I could have been so blind!
"Harry, I can't believe how I couldn't see at least some of this. It's a real insult to my mental abilities that I have never so much as suspected a teensy bit to be out of place…"
"Remus, that has nothing to do with your mental abilities! You are brilliant, but you have been exposed to Dumbledore's spells and maybe potions. No one has done anything of their own free will in his service, and some people are probably worse off than you. We'll want to have a close look at Professor McGonagall, as she's been hit almost daily! Once the love potions stopped hindering me I started to look for things and found out a lot. I helped Minerva out of these spells, and she was as appalled as you are, or even worse. She was devastated! She helped me a lot in the last years and she was the only one apart from Hermione whom I told that I was going to end it. I plan to send her an owl to meet me when I get my Hogwarts letter. We'll get her own self back and she'll be free to make her own decisions from then on. Professors Flitwick and Sprout were just as badly hit as she was, and also Poppy Pomfrey, even though he didn't go as heavy on her as he went after the others. They have been hit with obliviation spells as soon as they asked a question that sounded like they had a suspicion versus Dumbledore. He's a master Legilimens and Occlumens as well as a master in using the obliviation spells. No one casts compulsion spells as well as he does and none would last longer and held their victims tighter than his, believe me, I've been there, done it and bought the t-shirt."
"That's horrible, Harry!"
"It is. I'm sorry I can't get Fawkes out of there yet! But he may actually still listen to me, because I'm the companion he actually looked for when Dumbledore started to go down the path he chose. – Fawkes!"
A few seconds later the big bird that I remember so well from my own school days flashes in! But my what a sad view he is. It's probably just before a burning day, but as he sings to greet Harry and me he looks so sad! It pains me to recognise that this is probably proof of what Harry's saying.
"Fawkes, can you tell me if it's true that Albus Dumbledore has placed a compulsion on you that binds you to him?"
I get images of Dumbledore's office almost as it looked when I went to school. I look around those images and see a calendar that shows the date: 22nd October 1976. An alarm flash goes up in my mind – the date has a certain significance, but what was it? Now I remember – it was the day when Lily gave in to James and agreed to become his girlfriend, when she actually gave room to the love she had felt for a while. I see in those images how Dumbledore lifts his wand to cast the fateful spells on the bird. Fawkes is normally quite immune to magic cast on him but for the strongest of curses, so this one must have been a very powerful one. Fawkes then shows us a few images that would go on to be very helpful in our plans indeed. One of them proves that he intended to find Harry when he would be free of the compulsion. Harry and I stare at the bird, then at one another.
"Fawkes, I'm telling you here and now that I intend to deceitfully eliminate people in the near future. Even though these are people that need to be taken out in order to give this world a possibility to change to the better, it will still basically be murder. I will feel awful about it because I don't want to kill, but if we do not get these people out of the world indefinitely they will continue to make the lives of many innocent and good people hell."
Fawkes looks like he's grinning now. He then shows us an image of a Wizengamot with people who constructively work on building the world in a good and fair atmosphere.
"This is how it should be, isn't it?" I ask.
Fawkes nods and trills.
"Are they all poisoned?"
A definite shake of Fawkes' head is followed by the image of everyone in the Wizengamot he trusts. There are, all in all, about 60 people. As far as I know there are about 120 members of the Wizengamot, but the number fluctuates between 110 and 160, depending on the body's decisions on new nominations. If they go under 110 they will appoint new families to send in their representatives. If it weren't for the werewolf my own family would have held a seat as well. About 15 seats were held open for orphaned children to grow up and take over, one of them is Harry's. Some seats are held in proxy, either appointed by the holder or appointed by the wills of deceased members. I recognise most of the people on the good side, and note down their names. As soon as Fawkes notices he slows down and gives me the images again. The list is quite long and I can't identify all of them, but I should recognise them immediately when I go and follow a public session. Most of the sessions can be publicly accessed, so it won't be a problem of identifying these members.
Next is a series of images of members that we know not to trust. They are the worst actually, because they will be the wolves in sheep's' clothes. They will follow every leader who gives them what they really want and the most they want is money. They will sell their votes to the one who offers them most of it, regardless of their own desires. 26 of these people are burned into my mind. The next group is the large group of conservatives who would never align themselves openly with organisations like the Death Eaters, but who would sponsor them without thinking, because they have the same kind of horrible beliefs. For years they've prepared the ground on the political side. I know many of them. Too many. Roughly fifty of them are in the chamber.
"I think we have a problem in the political department, Harry. I count about fifty conservative Voldemort supporters and about 26 who have to be bought. That's normally a small advantage over the reliable light families…"
"More accidents. Fifteen of them are actually marked Death Eaters. Never even tried for anything. Just went on after the first war as if nothing had changed. Lapped up any kind of legislation that would hinder magical creatures or Muggle-born witches or wizards or squibs."
I close my eyes. That would have to be a lot of accidents… but Fawkes seems to accept the fate of some of the current Wizengamot members with ease.
"No worries, Remus, I do not plan to leave any bodies. What I plan to do is to transfigure them into little matchboxes – and keep them feeling the matches lit on their sides. I plan to do this so long until they start taking the right kind of decisions. Decisions that will help everyone not just the purebloods. I never understood why the others never stood up to those legislations. Taxes under Fudge have risen to crippling heights and business in Diagon Alley has gone down considerably. People can't afford to buy and businesses hardly make any profits at all because Fudge is calling it all in to the Ministry. All the while no one sees any changes anywhere and people start wondering where it all goes. And still don't really protest."
"I bet that a lot of it lands in the Minister's personal coffers. I'd love to have him pick up a few drops of Veritaserum to hear what he's done in the past few years. He has become Minister one year ago, when Millicent Bagnold retired. She was a good woman, Harry, and worked hard, but she couldn't go on, she was getting a bit too old, you know. And when she retired and Dumbledore refused to take over it was between Fudge and Malfoy…"
"I can imagine the rest, Moony. And while Malfoy didn't get the job he successfully bought the one who did. Fudge is firmly placed in Malfoy's pockets."
Fawkes is staying on for a while and I notice that he looks considerably better just until he has to leave. His feathers droop and he goes back to looking morosely.
"Heads up, Fawkes, we're going to break that spell!" Harry promises.
With a happy trill the phoenix leaves. I don't expect that Dumbledore knows he's gone away, as he lets the bird free reign to come and go as he pleases.
"Remus, do you know how to procure a house-elf?" Harry asks me.
"I do. But I'm not one to go out and buy a living sentient being, Harry."
"I won't do more than that. I need one to help me get to places without having to apparate myself. I don't want the Ministry to find out about my mobility and ask stupid questions. A house-elf could pop me here and there without a problem."
"Oh. That's a valid point. It could help you with other things; house-elves have strong magic."
"Exactly – and if they're treated well they will do everything for their wizards or witches. I fully intend to become friends with the elf that's coming my way."
"There are regular sales at the Ministry. I could ask someone who would be inconspicuous at such a sale. But it will have to wait until after our visit at Gringotts."
"Tomorrow. I should probably return to Durzkaban now or they will start to miss me. Skipped school, you know."
"Well, since you've already gone to school I can let it pass. I'm very glad to have met you now, Harry, I really look forward to learning to know you better and to spend more time with you."
"So do I, Moony! You're every bit as brilliant as dad described you in his diary."
I open my arms and he actually comes and lets me hug him. He hugs me back and smiles.
"It's so good to have real family again, Remus," he whispers.
"Soon you'll be free of them. Do you want me to transfer the charms on you on a box or something, to be left at your relative's place?"
He nods into my robes. I pick up my wand, release him from the embrace and step back a little to get an idea over the spells on him. I'm shocked to find seven different spells! The first is a spell that holds his magic on a minimum level. Harry will easily learn spells, but he'll have a hard time applying them in practice! The next is a power limitation spell that I remove immediately! The next is a health-checking spell, which I redirect onto a small piece of crockery. The next is another spell that shocks me. It causes Harry's relatives to become aggressive when speaking to him. They were even forced to do it, but all the while they were so unpleasant already naturally that it's a miracle that Harry is still among us! There are two tracking charms. All three are directed onto the little stoneware vase I chose. The last spell is the one that strikes me as the worst of them all: a curse that causes Harry to have a lot of bad luck! I remove and redirect that as well, but not on the vase, I take a metal piece for that. Wouldn't want the vase to fall down and break, releasing all the spells on it. Dumbledore would be onto us in no time!
"Harry, how often were you away from the Dursleys?"
"Not very often, and never further than school…"
I quickly redirect all spells from the vase to the copper spoon I've used for the bad luck spell. I hand him the spoon and explain:
"If you put that in your pocket he'll never notice you're not really at Privet Drive while you still go to school…"
"Not very long anymore. I'll leave it there tomorrow and we'll go to Gringotts, okay?"
"That's fine with me, Harry. Will you come here?"
"Yes, I will. I can apparate occasionally without being discovered. No danger of splinching myself, I assure you."
"I thought so, having the mind and abilities of a 35 year old inside of you should work out just fine," I say, smiling.
I watch him apparate away and then I sit down, completely exhausted from all that I've heard today.
What stuck most apart from all the details Harry has given me is that Sirius is in Azkaban, and innocent! It breaks my heart to know that. I can hardly stand to sit here and not rush out to do something that would save my love! I have to force myself to be patient, to trust Harry. Which, I have to admit, is very, very hard to do after what he told me about Dumbledore.
We'll have to be very Slytherin to find ways to twist this world around. I think about all I've heard today. I think I have to note the details down and charm a piece of parchment to small slips, where I note all those little scraps of knowledge. It helps me to sort them out and put them in different connections. That again allows me to draw conclusions from the facts I have on hand. I'm off this afternoon to see which of them I can quietly verify.
Before I do that I check my whole cottage, and myself, for tracking and spying charms. I can hardly believe that I find ten different spying charms and of course a tracking charm on myself. I quickly redirect the tracking charm and I'll have to think of something that we can do about the spying charms. They're real-time charms, Dumbledore would have to have been there to actually gain knowledge from them, but that is still horrid to know. I can only hope he's been out somewhere and not in his office when Harry and I talked this morning or our venture is doomed before it started.
Rainbow Cottage, New Forest – 18.06.1989
I still smart over my excursion of yesterday afternoon. I bet that Dumbledore thought I was stupid. I know I trusted him ever since he was the one who let me into the school. His grandfatherly image was obviously always deceitful, and his generosity probably is a mask as well. I am more than glad that as a werewolf I'm naturally protected from any attempt of Legilimency, which is why he probably had to forego that with me. But the way Harry described him he used it on students all the time. What did Harry say? When he twinkles and tells you he believes you he's just had a good ole rummage through your head… what a terrible thought.
I'll have to move out of here as soon as I can! It will be easy to be cleaned once Dumbledore is out of the picture, but until then I'll have to leave my parental home behind me. It makes me sad because of all the good memories I have here…
I can hear the apparition wards. I quickly summon my purse and go outside, where I greet Harry.
"Best we take off again immediately, Harry, I've detected a series of spying charms around the house. No idea what could be in the garden!"
And with that we apparate directly to the Gringotts apparition point. Harry is wearing a baseball cap, too big for his head, but ideal to cover up his telltale scar. We wait in the queue at one of the tellers' booths and when we get there, Harry says:
"Hello! I'm Harry Potter and I've come to claim my Potter inheritance."
The goblin gets up and stares Harry down. He checks him and only when Harry lifts the cap slightly, he recognises the scar.
"Very well then – do you have your key, sir?"
"I'm sorry, the key to my trust vault probably sits in Albus Dumbledore's office."
"And what's it doing there?"
"No idea. Probably being bored out of its head if it has one. Sir, I need to gain access to my parents' vaults, I need to get to their wills. Would I be able to talk to Toothgrinder about it? I know he's my parents' Gringotts caretaker."
"I would think that's possible in any case, Mr. Potter. May I direct you directly to his office at the back? I'll inform him that you are coming."
"Thank you, sir!"
We are sent to an office in the back part of the bank and when we reach it are welcomed inside by the goblin Toothgrinder.
"Welcome to Gringotts, Mr. Potter, I'm happy that you are already showing up. I'm not sure if you are aware of the fact that Mr. Albus Dumbledore has taken care of your accounts since your parents' deaths…"
"It's even worse than I thought then. Has he taken anything?"
"No, not really. We have been able to cut his access to the vaults. But he's been giving us unsolicited advice how to invest the money within. Had we followed his advice then I believe you wouldn't be destitute but not much of your money would actually be left."
"Well, come to think of it I'm not astonished. Toothgrinder, there is a reason why I'm coming already."
Harry explains his adventures to the goblin, who listens and actually grinds his teeth in a very menacing way at the end of Harry's tale.
"Mr. Potter, I believe you and I know I can probably trust you and your story, but to make sure and to make this absolutely fully legal and airtight, would you mind to undergo the inheritance ritual? It is a ritual that will determine your ancestry by goblin means, it's not painful in any way and it's recognised and accepted by the wizard authorities."
"I'm ready, Toothgrinder. What do I have to do?"
"Not much. All we need is a bit of your blood, which will then be applied on a special piece of parchment. You might know that next to your Ministry Gringotts is also keeping records of every magical person born – not only in Britain, but in the whole world. Every branch has its own records. If we need information about a certain person we are able to get it from any of our branches. The wizards aren't too happy about it but they have to recognise it if we are to conduct clean business practices. We have to be able to ascertain that a person is the person they claim to be when they seek services from the bank. Normally that works easily with the keys, but keys can be stolen, therefore we are able to conduct tests if we believe that a key does not belong to the person who brings it in."
"That's fine then, Toothgrinder. I gladly provide the blood," Harry says with a smile.
The parchment is not only a simple enchanted parchment. It seems to be hundreds of years old and not only shows that Harry is who he claims to be he is; it also shows his ancestry right down the line to Godric Gryffindor. Obviously the male Gryffindor line died out a few hundred years ago, but a daughter was just as able to inherit, therefore, after several turns in the 12th century, the Potter line became the primary family heirs of Godric Gryffindor and his wife, Rowena Ravenclaw. It actually shows that Rowena married twice – after Godric's death she remarried and created another line of her own heirs.
Over one thousand years of Harry's ancestors are lined up on this parchment. Harry follows the family tree with his fingers, moving here and there and is shown other branches and relatives as he moves to the respective names. Auntie Dorea for example, leads him over to Sirius' family and shows him that he was actually one of the closest Black relatives after Sirius. I'm sure Sirius would know about that.
"Well, that's all the proof we need. I send this to my assistant to make an imprint for the Ministry, should they care to ask. They cannot overrule old magical law and a head of house cannot be kept apart from his or her inheritance."
Harry nods and thanks Toothgrinder. They go into the vault and bring forth James and Lily's last wills, which we read together. The content is known to Harry, but surprises me to no end when there is a legate to me by both, James and Lily. I receive 100'000 Galleons from James, a huge amount of money, which I only accept because I can't throw them back to James as he happens to be dead. Lily left me something much more personal, a charm bracelet that I had given her when she became head girl at Hogwarts. From then on I added a little charm for each birthday and Christmas and to Harry's birth and first birthday.
"This is very sweet, Remus!" says Harry.
"It makes me cry all over again at their loss, Harry. They were so close, and we were so close, I've never again met anyone I let in so deep as I let in Sirius, James and Lily. Only my parents knew me as well as they did."
"You'll find that you still have and find loads of friends, Remus. Some of them have received the Dumbledore treatment and are incapable to know of you. Most of them are old Order members like Hestia Jones, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Emmeline Vance. I would think even Mad-Eye Moody should still be around you, he thought highly of you, you know. Who knows what Dumbledore did to him! He wasn't that easy to catch…"
"Dumbledore is a goner if he actually did something to Alastor and Alastor found out! He wouldn't hesitate a moment to get the old man and nibble a few bites out of him."
"I'd bet. He liked me, too, don't know why, because he still called me out for carrying my wand in my back pocket."
Harry doesn't take much from the vault. He uses my wand and calls:
"Accio dad's Invisibility Cloak!"
Nothing moves. He shrugs his shoulders and says:
"I thought it wouldn't be here. The old bugger took it from dad to 'study' it – but in truth he knew it's one of the Peverells' Deathly Hallows."
"It is? Then anyone underneath is truly invisible! Wow, I knew it was old, but not that it's that old."
"Yeah, it is. I also know where and what the other things are."
"Well, they're a wand and a ring. I don't know if it is wise to try to bring them together. You would truly conquer death with them."
"I don't think that would be wise. I would like to neutralise the wand though – at least. But on to other things…"
The first of these things is the information about Potter Manor, which comes in the form of a ring. He is told to wear the ring to get the knowledge of the manor.
"Your father had invoked the old magic to hide the manor completely when he went into hiding. He came to me and placed this ring in the vault, and he told me to keep this hidden until either he or you would come back to claim it. I would have informed a possible successor of this had I not been here anymore. In any case you should go back to the manor to take possession of it. I'm sure you'd have good sources of information there."
Harry puts the ring on his finger and we watch as it adjusts to his size. He looks at us with a pleased expression.
"I really don't know how it works, but now I know that this is a Portkey and will take us to the manor, Remus. All we need is to get you out of your cottage. Shame though, it looks like a real home…"
For that comment alone I could kiss him. What a sweet kid! He may have the mind of a 35 year old, but here in front of me he's also still a child. And he will need lots of love and support, which I vow in this moment to give him unconditionally.
He asks the goblin about house-elves and is told that Gringotts could actually help him to find one instantly. Harry agrees and we're shown to a part of Gringotts where some house-elves are called in for Harry to find one. All the ones he calls in are in the best of health and look fine to me, probably all of them are treated well.
Harry looks at them all and calls them closer.
"Hello, dears! I can see that you're all very fine people, but for the moment I can only engage one of you. Who would like to come and work for me?"
Maybe it's because Harry is still a small kid and hardly taller than the little elves, but as he stands in the midst of them all they flock to him. I stand next to the goblin and look at him, he looks back at me and we both grin at the picture.
"Not a house-elf that will be mistreated, I take it," says Toothgrinder.
"I'm sure not. He has a huge heart, the little one," I confirm.
"It still will be good for him to have a house-elf as a companion. They're easily the most loyal when they're treated well."
"Harry is well aware of that. He loves his house-elves. He will take their service, but he'll insist they're friends and even family."
Harry seems to have difficulties making a decision. The chance to work for the famous Harry Potter is naturally a great incentive to prove themselves worthy, so the elves want to present themselves in their best way.
"Oh, I wish I could take you all with me, all three of you, but I have to pick."
He takes the hands of one of them and looks closely at it.
"What's your name?"
"Dinky, what can you do best?"
"Dinky is good cook, Master Potter. Is good at cleaning, too."
"Thank you, Dinky."
Harry goes through them all and the next one answers his question for his name:
"I is Noodles, Master."
"Oh dear, who would give you such a name? That must have been a very unkind person."
"I is Elfling of Dobby, Master, the Mistress is be giving me for sale and Dobby says I is lucky to get out of his Mistress' hands."
"What can you do well, Noodles?"
"I is also good at cleaning, but not yet at cooking. I can do cleaning very quickly. Can do looking after Master's wardrobe and personal needs, too."
So he's come from the Malfoy household. Great, he really has been lucky. I suppose he didn't look so well when he came to the goblins' possession. Harry seems to have found his elf in any case as he takes Noodles by his hands again.
"I think I'd like to get this one, Toothgrinder. He sounds like a good elf that I can train up. And he seems to want to come and work for me."
Noodles nods enthusiastically. He even quivers with excitement. And he makes me smile. I bet he's already devoted to Harry before he is even bought. It's a horrible feeling to know that these wonderful creatures are traded like goods. They all have feelings and so much more to give than just their work. Harry knows that and that's why he's choosing so carefully.
"Very well, you two can return to your places and you stay here, Noodles."
"How much do I pay for him, sir?" Harry asks.
"85 Galleons should do fine. He's not very well trained yet and very young. We've only had him for a few weeks."
"That's fine, you can charge it to my trust vault then. Can we return to your office, I have more questions to ask you."
"Of course, Mr. Potter. You can come along, Noodles. – You're right, Mr. Potter, it IS a ridiculous name."
"Well, we'll just have to find something better then, won't we, Noodles?"
"If Master wants Noodles called differently then it shall be so, Master," the elfling said politely.
"You should want it, too! To give you a name that's at best suited for a cat! It's downright cruel. I bet you've been made fun of about it. Will you think of a name you'd like to have?"
"Noodles may choose a name? Master is too good to Noodles."
"You may choose!"
As we reach the office again, the little elf tells Harry that he'd like to be called James and Harry accepts the choice. Toothgrinder oversees the bonding ritual between the Master and the elf, which doesn't take long. Then Harry sits down and asks Toothgrinder:
"Toothgrinder, it is absolutely imperative that nothing of the following is noted down anywhere or told anyone! Can you promise that?"
"You can speak openly and in full confidentiality here, Mr. Potter. As long as you do not propose illegal actions you are guaranteed our complete and utter discretion."
"Well then. Do you have knowledge of what a Horcrux is, Toothgrinder?"
The goblin's eyes open wide and he stares at Harry with a horrified look.
"I take it you do then. If I told you that there is a Horcrux in a Gringotts vault what would you do?"
"You are putting me in a difficult situation, Mr. Potter! A Horcrux! And you say there's one in a Gringotts vault?"
"The vault in question belongs to Rodolphus and Bellatrix Lestrange to be precise. They're both locked up in Azkaban, as you know very well – for life. They have no legal heir other than Rabastan Lestrange who sits in Azkaban as well. For life, too."
"It would normally go to the nearest head of house's possession, Mr. Potter. In their case that would be another Azkaban inmate though."
"If he were innocent and if it could be proven, what would happen then?"
"Oh, he'd actually get everything related to the Black family that's not owned by someone else."
"Good. That's all I needed to know. We have to get to this Horcrux legally to destroy the spirit inside."
"May I inquire whether you know who made the item?" Toothgrinder asks.
"You may. And I'll tell you, but remind you of the necessity of being discreet about it - especially towards one Albus Dumbledore. It was Lord Voldemort."
"He's not gone completely then, is he? I always thought he was just powerless, but if he has a Horcrux I understand why the rebound spell didn't fully kill him."
Harry nods. I sigh and am relieved that he doesn't try to get at the Horcrux yet. But Toothgrinder takes it up again.
"If I would be allowed to talk to Ragnok about the Horcrux… it's You-Know-Who's Horcrux, after all, none of us goblins would want him to come back! Maybe I would then receive the consent to take something out of a vault."
"Yes, I think we can go that far, don't you agree, Remus?"
"I do. Under no circumstances we'd want to do anything illegal. I know Sirius Black better than anyone else and he'd want you to give this thing to be destroyed in any case. I have only just learned from Harry that he is innocent and how we can get him out of the prison."
"That would facilitate things. You'd think he wouldn't accuse us of stealing from his vaults?"
"No way!" Harry said.
"I don't believe so at all. He'd congratulate you to a prank well executed rather than accuse you!" I confirm. "Actually the way I know him he'd probably do anything to have one up of this particular cousin of his. He hates her."
"Very well, I shall bring it to the attention of the Gringotts director and I'm sure we'll be in contact with you about it soon. Does this conclude your business or do you need anything else?"
"Nothing else, sir, thank you. I have what I need most urgently. Just a question. Can I send my elf to Gringotts, too, if I need any fresh cash?"
"Of course. You just need to accredit James with us as one of your intermediaries."
"I can do that right now. As I'm not supposed to know anything about the magical world yet I would like to stay out of Diagon Alley for as much as I possibly can. Can't be seen where I'm not supposed to be if I don't want to give away my game now, can I?"
"You would not be well advised, sir. You may leave with your Portkey from out of my own office."
"Great, thank you very much for your time, Toothgrinder."
With that the newly baptised James and I touch Harry's family ring and we're all taken to his old family home.
It's another thing I have completely forgotten. The moment James put it under the family secret charm the memory of his childhood home slid from my brain and I never even missed it. Now that I see it again it all comes flooding back. Harry stares at it. I know how big it is, but he's looking at it and shakes his head.
"I always wondered why my parents didn't stay hidden in here. No matter whether it is known or not, the Fidelius should have covered it just as well as any other house. I wonder what Dumbledore told them to make them leave…"
Before I can reply there's the rustle of a few little people and no less than six house-elves come out from different directions and one of them cries:
"Master Harry! Master Harry is back! Oh what a wonderful day it is, our dear sweet Master Harry is back! – But why is you bringing another house-elf in?"
We both stare and Harry groans.
"Oh, why have I been so stupid to forget about the fact that a whole bunch of house-elves are still here? Oh, what the heck, you'll just find friendly family here, James. May I be reminded of your names, dears?"
I remember Sally, who seems to have taken the lead of the bunch. The other five are Blossom, Dalli, Gregory, Jumper and Gilly.
"Thanks! It seems that you are a bit of the leader here, Sally? Could you take care of James, so that he may find accommodation and integrate him into your daily schedules?" Harry asks.
"Yes, Master, of course. Is you going to stay here?"
"Yes, I will stay here. I will need some of you to help me get around, and especially get around unseen. If it were for headmaster Dumbledore I shouldn't even know about this place…"
"If it were for this monster you would be dead as well as your parents, Master Harry, let's be frank here," Sally cries.
James looks at her, astounded that she dares to talk back. He backs away from Harry, obviously expecting punishment for the outbreak of the other house-elf. Harry turns to him and declares:
"To all of you who were ever asked to punish yourselves: I will NOT do anything of the sort. You are NOT to go about punishing yourselves at all. Never. If you do think you've done something wrong your punishment will be telling me. I will decide if further punishment is really needed, but I don't think it ever will be. This is an order and one that I mean most seriously. Okay?"
Sally grins. Obviously she's not afraid to have her own opinion. I quickly tell her to take good care of James, because he's been born in the Malfoy household.
"Oh dear! You is poor soul! I have heard how elves are treated there. You will be very happy here. We is working much, but we is being friends with family."
"Friends who will be part of the family, eat with the family, celebrate holidays with the family and be there with the family," Harry insists.
"You is already best of Masters, Master Harry!" James says.
"Well then. Can you prepare us rooms and can one of you help Master Remus to relocate his possessions to the manor?"
They practically jump on me to be helpful. I smile and pick four of them.
"With four of you we'll have the moving done quickly enough."
Together we return to Rainbow cottage, where I disable the spying charms. The house-elves gather everything I point out to them. I pick up my cats and put them in cat carriers and call for my owl. He doesn't like it, but he has to go into the cage for the transport. The books and my clothes, and the content of my loft goes into crates and are taken back to the manor one by one by the elves who come in and pop back until everything has been moved that I need. When I get back to the manor I find Harry in the entrance hall talking to one of the portraits. It is the one of Harry's grandfather and grandmother, Charlus and Dorea Potter. It is currently adorning the space above the grand fireplace. A few older family members are displayed throughout the corridor. We see some movement and then a painted James comes running into his parents' portrait.
"Is it true? I heard that Harry has come home?" he cries.
"Yes, James, here he is! Looks just like you, with Lily's eyes!"
"Harry!" that's Lily's sweet voice.
"Hello, mum, dad!" Harry says.
"Harry, dear! Where have you been? You were supposed to grow up here, but years have gone by and you never showed up… oh, hello, Remus. Where have you been and where's Sirius?"
"It's a long story, Lily. What's the last thing you remember?"
"Writing up our wills. I think James still remembers taking them to Gringotts."
"Okay, you've got most of the knowledge you need then."
"Well, we obviously heard about us being killed and Harry orphaned. But other than that this has been like a bloody grave in here," James cries.
"Language, James!" both, wife and mother chide.
James only grins. How it hurts to see his painted careless self in front of me. He looks at me and sobers quickly.
"You must have had hard times, Remus. You look horrible. Where's Siri?"
"They threw him in Azkaban… rather, Dumbledore had him thrown in Azkaban, so he didn't have to contend with him having custody of Harry. We have the means now to get him freed though."
"How old are you, Harry?"
"Eight. It's June now, so I'll be nine soon."
"Why have you waited for so many years without having done anything, Moony?" James screams.
"Dad, he didn't know anything. Dumbledore's obliviated him of practically everything he knew about you guys and Sirius! He hardly remembered you were even his friends let alone that Sirius was his partner. Scream at Dumbledore if you like, but Remus is not at fault, dad!"
"Oh Remus! Dumbledore? How could he do this to you?"
"I can only imagine that he wanted even more glory than he already has. Or more power, or whatever. It could be that he's simply greedy for money or fame. I wouldn't know, James. I couldn't believe he'd abuse me like that."
"Gulping Gargoyles, what kind of a rotten egg is he turning out to be?"
"Very rotten. He's dropped Harry on your sister's doorstep, Lily, and just left him there not even looking back!"
"Aaargh! You were right, James! I'm so sorry I didn't believe you when you started to doubt him!"
"That's water under the bridge, dear Lily, we need to think ahead now," Charlus throws in.
And that's what we do. We really can't trust anybody. I first need to get in contact with Augusta Longbottom to see what she thinks of the situation. She's always been independent and has probably been able to keep Dumbledore out of her house.
Potter Manor, 19.06.1989
Harry goes and looks for the family Pensieve, which he soon finds and brings to the great hall, where we have taken station. He asks for my wand and I give it to him. We'll have to get him a wand of his own soon. No magic can be monitored in this house he can use any wand he likes. He digs deep down in his memories and takes some from the earliest months of his life. We go in to have a look at the memories.
The first one is a nice one showing him playing with his dad and another shows him in my care and in that of Sirius, both take place before they go into hiding. There are several with all four of us Marauders and now I notice that every time he's with Peter he either throws up on him, wants to get away or cries. I suppose that was why Peter never wanted to pick him up once he was a few months old. This is amazing to see. Harry knew that something with Peter was off. And then we get to the defining few memories. Since he was so small they let him stay in the room when Dumbledore was coming to visit.
They discuss the Fidelius charm.
"I believe you said you could cast the charm, Lily?"
"I certainly can, Albus."
"And you insist on Sirius being the Secret Keeper?"
"Sirius would die for us, Albus, but we switched to Peter. You are the only one we told though. No one should know about the switch. Sirius is ready to be the decoy."
"Very well, that adds security. I will part from you then. Good luck to you both!"
How false can you get? He has insisted that Sirius was the Secret Keeper and that's what has led them to throw him into Azkaban without a trial! I could scream all over again!
The fateful night. Harry is in the kitchen, Lily has obviously just fed him and he's still busy playing with something while Lily cleans up with a few quick spells. There's a heavy knock on the door. James looks out of it and screams:
"Lily! Run! It's him! Take Harry and run! I'll try to hold him off until you're gone!"
Lily tears Harry out of the high chair and runs up the stairs in the back of the house while the door is opened with force. James puts up a fight like a cat, but a stunner from Peter when he's concentrated on duelling Voldemort helps Voldemort to simply apply the Killing curse. It's all audible from downstairs as Lily fights to get out with Harry. She can't apparate. So she places Harry in the cot and stands guard before it, her wand drawn. Voldemort comes inside and orders her to get away. She first tries to plead for Harry's life, then tells him to murder her instead of her child. He laughs cruelly when he obliges. It's turning my stomach to see how Wormtail grovels behind the murderer, grinning like a maniac to be with the winning party. The grin freezes on his face as soon as he sees the curse bounce off the baby and the evil killer turning to a mere spirit. He screams, picks up Voldemort's fallen wand and transforms before scurrying away, still squeaking.
"Show her these two memories, Remus! She should understand a lot more after those," says Harry.
"I will, cub! I'll be back soon. Stay here and enjoy your time learning to know your family, even if they're only portraits."
"Yep, that's what I'll do. We'll start to think of accidents that could befall those poor, poor pureblood idiots."
I laugh! That's the spirit we need to have. I may have got out of Dumbledore's radar and Harry got out of his own private hell, but we're only at the start of our mission.