Author's Notes: JK Rowling is officially the first billionaire author. If I had a dollar every time someone read this... I still wouldn't come close to that.

- Maybe it's just me, but writing is so much easier on the fly. Once I get a good idea in my head it rolls out pretty well spontaneously. Then I have to steer it back into the direction I want the plot to go.

Chapter 57: The Thunderhead

Sirius burst through the doors of the infirmary, frantically looking for Harry's bed. "I came as soon as I heard," he yelled as he rushed to the bedside. "How's Harry doing?"

"Stabilized, but not recovered," Madam Pomfrey answered. "Now, if you'll get out of the way, I have another blood-replenishing potion to administer."

"What do you mean, another? Aren't those supposed to last hours?"

"Yes, but this case is a little complicated. Enervate." Madam Pomfrey's spell energized the barely-conscious Harry just enough for him to down the potion safely. Hermione helped ease his head back onto the pillow.

"Mind telling me why there's still a knife in his chest?" Sirius pointed to the ruby-red knife still embedded in Harry's chest.

"The barbs… they've latched on to his veins somehow. It's draining his blood," Hermione answered for the school nurse. "Dumbledore managed to stop it from invading his body further, but he said he couldn't do more without more research. And no, we can't just smash it," she said, seeing the look on Sirius's eyes. "It looks like he'll bleed even more quickly if this thing is damaged in any way." She then applied a cooling charm to the area around the stab wound. Harry shivered slightly.

"Well, where's Dumbledore now?" Sirius shouted angrily. He started pacing back and forth, distraught at his own uselessness.

"Holding off the Minister and the press. Now if you don't calm down, Mr. Black, I'm going to have to ask you to leave. You're disturbing my other patients," Pomfrey huffed.

"Fine! I'm going to get me some answers. Hold on tight, kiddo." Sirius stormed out of the infirmary in search of the headmaster. His respect for the headmaster had been eroding away ever since he gained his freedom. As much as he hated Malfoy, the man raised some good points about the lack of justice that went on at the end of the war against Voldemort. And spending just a winter break with Harry taught him how much his godson had been missing in his early life. Still, he wondered if he had the courage to confront the Dumbledore, at Hogwarts, no less.

He was stonewalled by the guardian gargoyle at the headmaster's office. It wasn't an issue- he had prepared to get a little messy on this visit. He and James had never given up on trying to prank their headmaster throughout their years at Hogwarts. Getting their (explosive) pranks into his office without permission was one of the problems they'd nearly managed to solve. He pulled out one of Remus's recent inventions that he had intended for Harry- Respell Ink. He poured out the entire ink bottle onto a piece of parchment, spelling out "OPEN UP! S. BLACK" in large, sloppy letters. One setting spell later, he poured the ink back into the bottle and transfigured the whole thing into a gecko.

The tiny tropical animal wasn't made for the Scottish winter, but it managed to reach Dumbledore's window as planned, and exploded as the transfiguration wore off. The ink coated the window in messy splotches; it then quickly coalesced into the same message that Sirius wrote before.

A few minutes later, the gargoyle shuffled aside. Sirius was about to take a step inside when he was nearly bowled over by Moody, Dumbledore, Fudge, Percy Weasley, Maxime, Karkaroff, and Bagman all at once. Everyone was arguing so loudly that Sirius couldn't get a word in edgewise.

"You dare blame us? Ze attack was clearly perpetrated by one of your own, Minister!"

"Malfoy is a good friend of the Minister; he vouches for the family personally! Clearly, the boy was coerced- nay, he must have been confounded, or under a disguise!" Moody snorted in disgust at Percy's blind allegiance.

"Why is everyone so worked up? The boy survived, and the tournament will go on. This matter does not affect Durmstrang in the slightest… this meeting was a waste of time!" Bagman tried to stop Karkaroff from leaving by quoting a bunch of rules from the Tournament Tome.

"Nobody's blaming anyone! In fact, let's not speak a word of this to the press until the mystery's been solved. That would be best for everyone, yes? Just pretend this didn't happen? After all, anyone who would be insane enough to attack the Champion and the child hero of Britain is clearly acting on their own!" Fudge, as usual, was in his saving-face-by-pleading mode.

"HEY!" Sirius shouted angrily. "Aren't we forgetting someone?"

"You want to talk about Potter? Come with me," Moody rapped Sirius on the shin with his staff. Looking back at Dumbledore, Sirius only received a wink as the headmaster resumed his arbitration of the argument shouting contest.

"So, you've got a plan to help Harry? Nobody knows how to " Sirius asked once they were alone.

"Help? I've seen those knives before; this one's just a variation on an idea. But before I extract it, I need something from you."

"From me? You're making demands?" Sirius asked.

"Not a demand. Just a request. Think about it this way- What if he's an imposter, and the real Harry's stuffed into a closet somewhere? I'm just asking for a few memories, Black. Some from last June, and a few from December for comparison."

"Just get him better. Then we'll talk," Sirius said.

This time, when they got to the infirmary, they had to wade through a crowd of students to get inside. Apparently, news of Harry's critical condition had spread, attracting throngs of friends and enemies alike.

"…and that's why you should never let your pet vampire grow too big," Luna was saying. Somehow, she had managed to sneak past Madam Pomfrey and was now having a one-sided conversation with Harry. Hermione didn't mind the off-kilter distraction the young blonde was providing, concentrating on Harry instead. "Hi Allie!" Luna waved. "Is that Stubby Boardman?"

"Hello, Miss Lovegood. Have you made any interesting observations? Any ideas on how to help your friend here?" Moody's false eye swivelled back, looking through his skull towards the infirmary entrance. Nobody else was coming in.

"Clearly, Harry's been involved in a part of the Rotfang Conspiracy. This must be the first of the prosthetic teeth," she said, pointing to the knife, "although they'd have to find a way to make it much smaller, because something like that would be unwieldy to have inside your mouth all day."

Sirius stared incredulously at the girl. He knew the Lovegood name from Xeno Lovegood, and the infamous Quibbler as well. Apparently the quirkiness of the magazine was more of a family trait than a business practice. As for the Stubby Boardman comment… well, he wouldn't deny his own dashing good looks, but that man died when he was still in Hogwarts. It had been all over the news. And what was this conspiracy she was talking about? "She seems to be rather… friendly with you, Moody."

"I've discovered that she's got a knack for noticing things after I've already seen them. You just need to interpret her correctly. The last two people she accused of being part of that Rotfang conspiracy happened to have performed illegal blood magic. They both also suffered from halitosis, so I'm not sure if it's just coincidence, but just wait and listen…"

Luna continued to babble, ignoring the adults. "It's almost like a snowflake," she said, commenting on the mixture of crystal and veins, just barely visible underneath the skin. "It's a shame you can't melt it. Muggles say vampires melt in the sunlight, but I think this would look very pretty and glittery in the sun. Garlic wouldn't help Harry either. Maybe some sandworm saliva would dissolve the knife, but we don't have any of that around, do we? I guess we could also dissolve Harry's body. Could I keep the knife?"

Moody laughed. "I'm sorry, Miss Lovegood, but it is a dark artifact. I'll have to turn it into the Ministry."

"Oh pooey. It's so pretty," Luna sighed.

"Wait… you aren't taking her seriously, are you?" Sirius's eyes widened. Hermione looked at him questioningly, but only because it looked like Madam Pomfrey was completely serious as well. She was rearranging the beds in order to give Moody more room to work with, and casting a few isolation charms to prevent the other students in the infirmary from being disturbed.

"A little bit of battlefield tactics, my friend. Sometimes a procedure we invented in the heat of the moment turns out to be one of the most effective ones," Moody answered. He handed his staff over to Luna and stepped up to Harry's bedside. "It does take a bit of space to perform properly, though," he added as he waited for Pomfrey to finish clearing the way for him.

Grabbing Harry's arm firmly, Moody's body quickly began to fade and turn into a swirling white smoke that enveloped both of them. The smoke turned thicker, completely shrouding them from view, and suddenly shot across the room. The sound of shattering glass coincided with the whirling missile's sudden upwards arc across the ceiling and back down to the bed. It was over in a second, with Harry back on the bed and Moody gripping both Harry and the bed frame. He let go of Harry's arm, and steadily lowered himself into a chair.

Madam Pomfrey was ready with a full bottle of essence of dittany, which closed up the haemorrhaging wound in Harry's shoulder speedily enough to prevent a great loss of blood. But by his pale complexion, he didn't have that much blood left to lose. "Is he going to be alright? What did you just do to him?" Sirius asked.

"He'll be fine. If the stories of the basilisk are true, then this is nothing," Moody said. "Just a little side-along fumation. Haven't had to do that for fifteen years now… not as easy as it used to be." Seeing that Sirius was still wanting for a better explanation, he added, "It's like splinching, except you do it deliberately and precisely. And Miss Lovegood, don't touch that knife!"

Luna was on the other side of the room, where the knife had been ejected. She wasn't trying to pick up the knife, but was inspecting its crystalline protrusions so closely her nose was almost scraping one of the many barbed points. "They're like little trees. Harry had a garden inside of him," she concluded. She continued to watch as the blood on the knife receded down the "branches" and into the handle, leaving the weapon a dull white, like frosted glass.

"Now we just need to know where that blood was sent," Moody said, levitating the knife and sealing it in a box labelled "DARK ARTIFACT – DMLE USE ONLY."

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Haven't you already said it was the Malfoys? If the aurors aren't already on it, I'd raid that manor myself."

"Don't be hasty, Black," Moody warned. "You don't want to be thrown back in Azkaban so soon after you got out. I've already contacted Amelia and Scrimgeour about it, but I'm going to need your help on the legal side of things. Just to be sure, I need to know if I can trust you," he whispered. "I'll tell you more once the ladies are done."

Madam Pomfrey and Hermione were finished cleaning up the wound. Harry remained unconscious throughout the ordeal, but Pomfrey was satisfied after a quick scan. She insisted that Harry had to recover under his own strength now that his condition had stabilized, having used so many potions already neutralizing the dark magic and the blood loss; he could overdose if he had any more. That meant he'd have to remain in bed for the next week, minimum.

That meant Hermione was now wearing her swimsuit, beside Ivan and Fleur, on the docks at the edge of the Black Lake. Ludo Bagman had hastily informed her two days ago that she was to compete in Harry's place, due to some vague rule somewhere on the fiftieth page of random parchment that Harry was forced to sign at the beginning of the tournament. In short, she was marked as the "champion's consort" or something like that and was allowed to compete in his place in case of grievous injury that was not due to a tournament event.

Ivan didn't seem to consider her a threat. She knew what was going on in his mind- this was the girl that was dating Harry Potter, nothing more. He remained overconfident about Harry and gave him little respect; was there any doubt he'd do the same for his mere girlfriend? As much as Hermione preferred to watch the tournament than participate, she knew she had something to prove and this was probably her only chance to prove it.

As for the boys in the audience, she could feel their eyes on her, and it wasn't anything like the New Year's Ball. How did Fleur put up with it? She looked over to the French witch. Oh, yes, she revelled in it. That was how she handled it. At least most of them were concentrating on the girl that had experience with all the attention. She didn't even know why a swimsuit was officially considered the proper attire for this event- well, other than for the cameras that were clicking away non-stop. Even Ivan was getting his fair share for Witch Weekly. Hermione, the plain daisy out of the three, decided to run the plan through her head one more time.

She didn't have gillyweed this time. She didn't have a ready-made map. In fact, she had little more than a swimsuit, a wand, and a trinket or two that was lying around Gryffindor Tower. At least she wasn't wholly unprepared- she still remembered watching most of the event last time (until Sirius had interrupted), and she was still a better swimmer than Harry. Her plan was more or less to do what Harry did last time, but with a few shortcuts.

Ivan and Fleur dove in as soon as the signal sounded. Hermione stuck around on the dock, summoning one of the rowboats nearby and stepped in gingerly. She cast a locomotion charm, sat back, and dipped an Extendable Ear into the water. The ear worked well enough underwater for her to locate one of the chests; and if her judgement was right, she was already far ahead of the competition.

The oars were transfigured into flippers, and she cast a bubble-head and a warming charm on herself to prepare for the descent. The final transfiguration turned the wooden boat into a large lead weight and rocketed downwards, holding on for dear life. As she saw the thick algae forest come up, she let go. The lead weight formed a path through the algae and it created a shockwave as it hammered the lakebed that scared or stunned all the creatures nearby. Hermione faced no resistance when she picked up the chest.

You have nearly claimed your prize

The egg you seek is just inside…

So the riddle was identical to last time. Rather boring for her, but it would help put Harry in a substantial lead. Fresh water from her wand, ice for the second, and flame coral for the third. She vaguely remembered a coral somewhere to the northeast area of the lake. "Point me." The wand move slowly and unsteadily in the water, but it succeeded in getting her bearings.

As she approached the reef of burning coral, she saw that a few selkies were playing around. They noticed her as well and wasted no time in seeing what entertainment Hermione could provide them. They swam up, poking at the bubble surrounding Hermione's face, tugging at her fins, and trying to get at the chest. "Hey!" Hermione shouted, trying to wave them away. Undeterred, they made snatches at her wand. One was almost successful, causing her to drop the treasure chest and grab the wand back with both hands in order to prevent it from snapping.

The selkies wasted no time grabbing the treasure chest after Hermione dropped it. They proceeded to swim away with it and toss it around and fiddling with the locks. Some tried smashing it with a rock to no avail- Hermione wouldn't have minded if they did manage to open it up for her. She needed to distract them, though the rules of this particular trial forbade her from hurting the selkies and mermen directly. Knowing that grindylows were natural predators, she pointed her wand to her arm and lightly cast, "Diffindo."

The salty water stung the wound as it bled freely, but Hermione calmly waited and followed the Selkies as they continued to play. The smell of blood attracted the grindylows within minutes; she healed her wound with an episkey once they were in sight. The selkies fled well before the grindylows arrived, allowing Hermione to pick up the chest without a fight. Casting a stream of boiling water behind her stopped the little water demons from giving chase.

The remainder of the task was routine- breaking off some fire coral and sticking it to the first lock; conjuring enough ice to release the second, and fresh water for the third opened up the last one. Not using gillyweed this time gave her an advantage over Harry's results- she didn't have to wait for the magical herb to wear off before surfacing. It had taken Harry just over an hour to finish the task; even with the selkies getting in the way, it had taken Hermione less than half that.

Both the judges and the crowd were flabbergasted when Hermione climbed onto the dock bearing a golden egg. After drying off, she had nearly an hour to watch the other champions explore the murky depths of the Black Lake. Just like last time, Fleur was well out of her comfort zone and had trouble dealing with all types of sea creatures, not to mention being bad at swimming as well. Even the giant squid seemed to take pity on her, making some lunch out of a few jellices that were starting to swarm around. Ivan didn't make the same mistake as Krum did when the selkies stole his chest; instead, he took the route of scaring them off with a grand show of magical power instead of attacking the selkies directly. That earned him a solid second place and Fleur third.

Potter Picks Potent Partners

By Rita Skeeter, Witch Weekly guest writer

For all you young witches still hoping to snag Harry Potter's heart, it may be time to put away those perfumes and pick up your wand! It seems that Potter prefers power over pretty. For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the Triwizard Tournament, here's the latest scoop: Harry Potter himself was attacked on school grounds (see cover story for more details) and is now recovering in the Hogwarts Infirmary. Competing in his place was his girlfriend, Hermione Granger.

What's that, you say? You've never heard of Granger? You've never even seen her before? Well, that's no surprise, folks. Ms. Granger is a muggleborn, and thus has no ancestral history of magic of any sort. According an anonymous local source, "She's utterly forgettable. Nobody would have noticed her if she didn't have her arms wrapped around Potter all day." Blaise Zabini had slightly better things to say, including, "She cleans up nicely. I don't think anyone recognized her at the New Year's Ball. But day-to-day, she's got nothing on those Beauxbatons girls."

So, if not for looks, what could Harry Potter see in a girl like this? Well, we got a bit of a clue last Saturday. Granger completed the Trial of Water in less than a third of the time of the second-place finisher, Ivan Kolov. Some would argue that Potter himself could have done better, but there's no denying that this witch packs a punch. Not only that, but she has been leading a student study group that both OWL and NEWT students consider the best thing since the Panis Inciso charm.

Potter is scheduled to return to the tournament for the Wandless duel, just under a month away! We at Witch Weekly wish him a speedy recovery!

"I totally could have done better," Harry quipped humorously as he tossed the paper back at Hermione. She swatted his leg with it. He'd been slowly recovering- he was practically reliving second year as he had to regrow his collar bone, two ribs, and a bit of lung. The colour had returned to his face and he was awake and alert, but Pomfrey insisted he stay in bed for at least another day. "Any news on the Malfoy front?"

"Not much, I'm afraid. Take a look at this," Hermione said. She tossed him a copy of the Daily Prophet.

Misfortune Strikes Malfoys Again!

By Reginald Shillings

The Malfoy family has been making great strides lately in the Wizengamot, being the leading proponent of Magical Heritage Preservation laws that have irked many opponents, including the famous Albus Dumbledore. Most famously, he has worked tirelessly to restore the Black family name, which had suffered grievous losses in the last war with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Years after suffering his own losses from a long-term Imperius curse, his son has now fallen victim to the very same curse.

Theories are abound as to who could be the culprit, but for now the Malfoy family is in hiding for fear of their safety. The young Malfoy was witnessed performing acts of dark magic he had never learned before in an attack on the current star of Hogwarts, Harry Potter. Some suggest that framing Malfoy to attack Potter was a way of creating a rift between Malfoy and Sirius Black, head of the Black family and Potter's godfather. As Black's mistrial thirteen years ago was the cornerstone of Malfoy's stance against the hasty prosecutions of prominent wizarding families at the end of the war, a feud between the two would have ended his chances of appealing for re-trials of many of those in Azkaban.

Senior Undersecretary Dolores Umbridge gave the official position from the Minister's office: "There are those who, when feeling discontent, resort to violence and deceit instead of voicing their concerns openly. This attack on the Malfoys, Harry Potter, and the Black family is clearly an attempt to systematically dismantle the strength of Magical Britain one family at a time. We must provide these "heritage families" with greater protections, lest we allow the people who made this country what it is to live in fear!"

Dumbledore, both Malfoy's greatest opponent in the Wizengamot and one of the central figures in the mistrial of Sirius Black, also commented, "The dark wizard that Peter Pettigrew was working under appears to have struck again. Rest assured, I will do everything in my power as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot to ensure the safety of every witch and wizard in Britain, and not just the ancient and noble families."

The DMLE has made no confirmations of any connections between last summer's capture of Peter Pettigrew and this new attack on the Malfoy family.

"I should have expected that," sighed Harry. "Malfoy's still got the minister in his pocket, along with half the Wizengamot. At this point I'm wondering if defeating Voldemort will really change anything."

Hermione sat down and rubbed Harry's shoulder reassuringly. "One battle at a time, love."

Harry grinned. "By that, do you mean Voldemort, the Ministry, the Tournament, or Dumbledore?" Getting bored of his pillow, he leaned on Hermione's arm instead.

Hermione ran her fingers through Harry's hair. "We can always hope that Voldemort will keep Dumbledore off our backs, the Aurors will defeat Voldemort, Dumbledore weeds out the corrupt Wizengamot members, and we can just finish school in peace." When their eyes met, the staring contest lasted only three seconds before they broke down in laughter.

"Will the two of you keep it down in here?" hissed Madam Pomfrey. "I know you're feeling fine, Mr. Potter, but do have some respect for the others, will you?"

"So why do I have to stay? I think all of us would be happier if you'd let me walk out the door right now," suggested Harry.

"Not possible, Mr. Potter. Dark artifacts can have delayed effects. We need to keep you under observation for at least another day," she reminded him while passing a tray of food over.

"Yes! Real food!" Harry cheered as he dug into the standard Hogwarts breakfast. "Those nutrient potions are so bland... would it kill you to flavour them with a little chocolate?"

"No, Mr. Potter, that could compromise the integrity…"

"Sure it's possible. We've practiced it with Mr. Fleming. You just don't want students faking injuries to get some delicious potions, do you?" Harry and Hermione both laughed- Hermione had been secretly flavouring Harry's potions during his recovery.

"Well, it's never a good idea to encourage bad habits," Madam Pomfrey said. "I'm sure plenty of students… especially the workaholic Hufflepuff and Ravenclaws would rather nip a tasty nutrient potion from my cupboards than spend their time eating a proper meal." She started waving her wand over Harry, concentrating on where he'd been stabbed. "Does anything feel unusual, Mr. Potter?"

"Nothing's wrong at all," Harry said. "In fact, I'm… I…" His fork clattered on the ground as his eyes rolled up to the back of his head.

Hermione recognized his symptoms at once. Why now? she thought.

There were a great many more people surrounding Harry when he awoke. Some he expected, some he didn't. Hermione was hugging him protectively. Luna was poking at his scar curiously. Moody was arguing with Sirius while Dumbledore were being held back by Madam Pomfrey. Professor Trelawny was attempting, unsuccessfully, to get to Harry's bed. Snape stood away from the group, watching everyone else stoically. Harry tried to assess the situation as best he could. With two of the most powerful and experienced wizards in all of Britain beside him, fighting his way out of the situation was out of the question.

"The blibbering humdingers are leaving," Luna announced, bringing everyone's attention back to Harry.

"Potter. Welcome back," Moody grunted dryly.

"Alastor, please." Dumbledore motioned for everyone to be silent. "Harry… I believe it's time for you to explain. Has a power like this manifested itself before?"

Hermione nudged him. "You told my parents already," she hinted to him.

Harry nodded in acknowledgement. "Right. Yes, I've had a vision or two," Harry admitted.

"You see? He has the inner eye within him!" Trelawney shrieked in excitement. "Dear, dear Potter, you must return to your divination studies! You have potential to be as talented as my great-great-grandmother, Cassandra!"

"Please try to contain your excitement, Sybill. You may speak to him at your leisure after he's been released from the infirmary." Dumbledore gently directed Pomfrey to guide her to the door. "Now, Harry, as you've witnessed one of Professor Trelawney's prophecies before, you already know your visions are unlike hers. Please tell me what you just saw."

Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Snape palm a tiny vial of colourless liquid. "Voldemort," he answered. Snape stiffened and instinctively grabbed his arm. Moody muttered under his breath. Dumbledore dropped his hands to his sides, smiling knowingly. With everyone's eyes still trained on him, Harry knew he wouldn't be able to get away with such a terse answer. He added, "He's got himself a body now."

"So your visions are not of the future, but of present day?" Dumbledore concluded. Harry nodded. "And Voldemort is always the subject of your visions?" Harry nodded again. "I believe Miss Lovegood caught on long before many of us," he said, grimly. "That cursed scar of yours is linking you to your parents' murderer."

Harry held back the urge to roll his eyes, and decided to play dumb instead. "I don't know what's worse, the visions of Voldemort, or the visions of my future being like Professor Trelawney."

"There, there, Harry, you were always a horrible seer," Hermione reassured him.

"Nevertheless, you need to take more precautions. This connection between you and Voldemort could go both ways; you must close your mind to him at all times," Dumbledore explained. "He was a master legilimens. Perhaps you should train your occlumency with Professor Moody."

Harry was surprised, as he had never considered the possibility. He always maintained a low-level occlumency shield out of habit, but perhaps it was time to step up his efforts a notch. If Voldemort were to get a hold of any of the information in his head… well, disastrous would hardly describe it. "Yes. Absolutely," Harry agreed immediately. "Could Hermione come along, too? And Ron as well?" That would round out the trio, and perhaps Ron would be more inclined to practice it this time.

"Of course, Mr. Potter. I believe once a week should be sufficient?"

Harry nodded. "We'll still be continuing with fumation lessons as well, right?"

"You've already experienced its potential uses firsthand. No doubt our lessons will continue."

"You should have let me question him some more," Moody growled unhappily. "He didn't explain anything at all!" He slammed his cane on the office floor, causing Fawkes to squawk.

"We can already make a few deductions, Alastor," Dumbledore said. "We know he is pulling far more than just visions from Voldemort. He must be gaining knowledge as well- and perhaps some emotion." He recalled the cold reception Harry gave to him at the Ministry that summer. This would easily explain the boy's sudden change in attitude, knowledge, and magical ability. Those inexplicable blood runes, the Parseltongue, and his newfound affinity for the Chamber of Secrets- it had to stop soon.

"Even if I teach him the finer points of occlumency, are you sure he's going to use it?" Moody wondered. "Because if it were me, I'd be pulling as much knowledge as I can to use against the dark lord. I'd be working day and night to master everything to fight him on equal ground."

"And that is the difference between a Gryffindor and a Hufflepuff. Harry does not want to be on equal terms. He will face Voldemort when he feels it is necessary, not when it is prudent- and that can be an advantage in itself. We must befriend him, Alastor, because so long as he is assured we have things under control, he will not act. If he is to become Voldemort's equal by taking Voldemort's essence, our savior may become our enemy's successor- the start of a dangerous cycle. We have to keep him on our side, shut out the temptation, and avoid all dark magic."

Moody nodded in understanding. "So, for these occlumency lessons… do you want me to teach first, or probe first?"

"You are the head of security for the year. I will leave it to your discretion," Dumbledore replied.

Moody hobbled out of the office and down the moving staircase. When Dumbledore was certain the magic eye was far out of range, he mumbled to himself, "…power the Dark Lord knows not… power he wants not…" He opened up the cabinet to his pensieve, and extracted a bottle labelled "Trelawney interview, 1979" and poured it in.

Author's Chapter End Notes:

- Another problem with the epilogue: here's an issue of overt messages vs. implications. Albus Potter is afraid of being sorted into Slytherin, and Harry tells Albus that Slytherin isn't evil and he won't be mad at him if it happens. Yay, that means 19 years later, Slytherins are good and the houses get along, right?


Assuming that Harry actually comes home from work often enough to help raise his own children, he wouldn't have been teaching Albus that Slytherin is bad. Heck, he might have even explained the kid's name. So where does Albus get the idea that Slytherin is evil? Society. Everyone else in the Harry Potter world still believes Slytherin is evil. Good old discrimination is still as strong as ever.

- Also, a few thoughts on fics that use the "Ginny love potion" idea. Personally i think it's kind of a cheap cop-out to end the canon relationship, but at the same time I can see why it's so common. In fact, if it were canon, by the time it was revealed I would have been thinking, "Well, that was pretty obvious." Why do I say that? Symbolism, pretty much. Let's look at love potions in the entire course of Harry Potter:

Love potions mentioned in Book 2. Ginny stars in book 2 as the damsel in distress. We have Gilderoy Lockhart as the ultra-fake celebrity, and Ginny as an ultra-fangirl.

Love potions almost never mentioned again until Book 6. Ginny remains in the background until book 5-and-a-half-ish.

Then comes the Half-blood Prince: Love potions are sold by Fred and George. Love potion is shown in class. Love potion is suspected in Tom Riddle Jr.'s conception. Love potion poisons Ron. Ginny is suddenly everything Harry could ever look for in a girl and is not a fangirl, but has true, genuine love for him.