I have given the stories of Harry Potter a lot of thought. I have especially given a lot of thought to how the characters act vs. their actual ages. I realize that in this story, Ginny and Harry are thirteen and fourteen about to turn fourteen and fifteen. If, in my story, you find them engaging in activities more suitable for older persons, please remember the reality of their lives. I cannot help but believe that people who have experienced the things that they have, who have lived through what they have lived through, will be at least 2-3 years older than their actual age. After having been possessed by a sixteen year old Tom Marvolo Riddle, who has already committed murder as well as countless other atrocities, Ginny is no longer your typical innocent eleven year old girl. Her head will now contain memories of one who is physically five years older than she is, and mentally probably even more than that. Harry has now faced Voldemort three times and survived, he has survived a childhood filled with mental and physical abuse, he has witnessed the death of a fellow student, and successfully performed in a Tournament where the other contestants were at least three years older than he was. He is not your average fourteen-year-old student. So if, in my stories, they do not act or think like others their age, I hope you can understand why they are portrayed that way. I am also operating under the assumption that young people in the Wizarding world are more mature than their Muggle counterparts. The characters as J. K. Rowling portrays them in her books have always struck me as older than their purported ages, so I do not think I am off base in making this assumption. What it all boils down to is this, add a few years to Harry and Ginny's respective ages, and they should appear fairly age-appropriate. Think of them as their actual ages, and you will probably feel fairly uncomfortable with their thoughts and actions. You have been warned.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and his world belong to J. K. Rowling. I just thank her for allowing us to play in her sandbox. I, of course, receive nothing for my efforts, this, after all, is the world of fanfiction.
Chapter One – The Arrest
"Minerva, could I ask you to stand guard here while I take Harry upstairs?"… "Severus…go down into the grounds, find Cornelius Fudge, and bring him up to this office…" (Goblet of Fire, p. 692)
With those instructions out of the way, Professor Dumbledore escorted Harry up to his office to meet with Sirius, before proceeding on to the hospital wing.
Severus Snape made his way to Madam Pomfrey's office and then headed down to the Quidditch pitch to look for Minister Cornelius Fudge. He found him talking to Cedric Diggory's parents, extending the Ministry's condolences on the tragic loss of their son.
"Excuse me, Minister," Snape broke in, "May I speak to you privately?"
"Can this not wait? Can you not see that I am busy here?" responded Fudge irritably.
"I suppose it could, however, Professor Dumbledore has some urgent business that he is certain you would be interested in," sneered Snape.
Fudge returned his attention to the Diggorys with an impatient mien, and extracted himself as quickly as he could. Turning back towards Snape, he glared at him with barely restrained hostility. "What is it that Dumbledore deems so important, that you had to interrupt me while I was talking with the Diggorys? They have, after all, just lost their only child."
"I am simply the messenger, sir," retorted Snape, "Professor Dumbledore sent me to inform you that he has discovered that the man believed to be Alastair Moody is actually Bartemius Crouch, Jr."
"What! What? How could that possibly be? Barty Crouch, Jr. died in Azkaban several years ago! This is quite impossible! Dumbledore must be suffering from senility," exclaimed Fudge, all in a dither.
"Nevertheless, sir, Barty Crouch, Jr. is upstairs. Professor McGonagall is currently guarding him. Professor Dumbledore thought that perhaps you would like to question him."
Cornelius Fudge looked around anxiously, trying to determine if anyone had overheard this conversation. He seemed relieved upon realizing that no one else was close enough to have heard anything.
"Let me summon a Dementor, and then we shall proceed," stated Fudge.
"I'm sorry, Minister Fudge, but Professor Dumbledore has specifically stated that Dementors are not allowed on the castle grounds, and certainly not within the walls of the castle itself," snapped Snape.
"I am Minister of Magic," Fudge rapped out, "I can do what I like. I will not enter the presence of a known Death Eater without adequate protection."
"But Minister," drawled Snape, "Crouch is currently stunned and in a full body bind and has been relieved of his wand. How could he possibly pose a threat to your esteemed personage?"
"Nevertheless, I shall not enter without a Dementor as escort," reiterated Fudge.
"Then I shall be forced to accompany you also sir, in order to ensure the safety of the students," stated Snape.
After a Dementor was summoned, the two men proceeded through the main doors of the castle, through the entryway, and then on up to where Crouch was being held, leaving a trail of confused and terrified students in their wake. Snape held his wand at the ready the whole way. Upon passing Professor Flitwick, he inquired of Fudge if he wished the Ministry to be informed and Aurors summoned. Fudge nodded his assent, and Snape told Flitwick to contact Amelia Bones and request some trusted Aurors to escort a dangerous prisoner to the Ministry.
- HP - HP - HP -
Dumbledore turned to Harry and said, "Harry, why don't you come with me up to my office? There is someone waiting very anxiously to see you."
Harry just nodded his head wearily. He could hardly think let alone move. Wordlessly, he accepted Professor Dumbledore's hand on his arm, leading him out into the hallway and on towards the Headmaster's office. Too much had happened too quickly and he scarcely registered their passage through the halls.
Reaching the top of the stairs, he briefly glimpsed a large black dog pacing around the room. Suddenly, the dog transformed into his godfather, Sirius Black. Harry met him halfway and threw himself into his godfather's waiting arms. Burying his head into Sirius's shoulder, he felt the comforting warmth of his godfather's embrace as he hugged him tightly to himself.
"Harry, Harry! You're alive! I was so worried about you, pup! What on earth has happened?"
Harry choked back sobs; simply glad that Sirius was here and that he didn't have to deal with everything alone. His mind spun as he started to replay scenes from the maze and the graveyard. His shoulders started to shake as he burst out, "Cedric! I failed Cedric. I wasn't fast enough. I let him die!" The rest of his words were lost in the fabric of Sirius shirt.
Dumbledore gently broke in. "Harry, why don't you let me tell Sirius what we have learned from Barty Crouch, Jr., and then you can tell us what happened after you touched the cup."
Harry pulled away from Sirius and curled himself up in a chair, burying his head in his knees. He only half listened as Dumbledore told Sirius all about the events of the year, starting with Voldemort's return to Britain.
Sirius's face became grimmer and grimmer the longer Dumbledore went on. Finally he burst out, "Albus, I cannot believe you allowed these things to happen! How could you possibly have overlooked your Defense Against the Dark Arts professor being a polyjuiced Death Eater! I am really starting to fear for the safety of your students. Each year the danger to Harry and his friends seems to be increasing. And still you seem to do nothing about it. To top it all off, this year you allow a student to be entered into a potentially deadly tournament against his will, forced him to participate despite being three years younger than the other contestants, and allow him to be portkeyed away from school grounds and attacked by the deadliest known wizard. You claim to have only his good in mind and that Hogwarts is the safest place for him, yet I am not convinced either of these claims are true!"
Dumbledore's twinkle faded considerably as he faced Sirius. "You are in no position to question my motives or methods. Right now you are still on the wrong side of the law and have no jurisdiction over Harry or any other of my students. Sirius, I beg you, don't allow your emotions to get the best of you. You must look at things logically. Besides, we haven't even heard Harry's side of the story yet." And with that he turned towards Harry expectantly.
Harry, not having paid attention to what was going on, was oblivious to Dumbledore's regard at first. Eventually the silence that permeated the room slipped into his consciousness, and he raised his head and glanced around him. Seeing grim looks on the faces of both men, he knew something had transpired, but the details of their disagreement eluded him. "Sir, is something wrong?" he quietly asked of Dumbledore.
"Harry my boy, it is now your turn to tell us what happened to you after you entered the maze," Dumbledore responded.
Sirius broke in, "Albus, can this not wait until Harry has seen Madam Pomfrey and gotten some well deserved rest? He's covered with blood, he can barely hold his head up, and he needs time to recover."
"Sirius, I am afraid that time is of the essence at the moment. I will allow him to go to the infirmary, however, he will need to tell his story sooner rather than later. Come along, Harry, let us make our way up to Madam Pomfrey. Sirius, you may wait here if you like."
"Like hell I will. If he goes, I am coming too." With those words he transformed himself back into Snuffles and sat waiting expectantly.
Dumbledore shook his head regretfully, grasped Harry's arm and led him off to the infirmary, Sirius following silently behind.
- HP - HP -HP -
Upon reaching the room occupied by Professor McGonagall and Barty Crouch, Jr., the Dementor started to sail into the room heading towards the unconscious prisoner. Fortunately, Snape was ready, and quickly produced a Patronus to protect Crouch's supine body. McGonagall, reacting almost as quickly, produced another, stronger Patronus, and the two patroni stood guard over Crouch's inert form. Faced with the patroni, the Dementor retreated to furthest corner of the room and hovered ominously there.
"Minister Fudge, I suggest you call off your Dementor immediately," rapped out McGonagall.
"What is going on here?" shrieked Fudge. "I am not responsible for the Dementor's behaviour! I had nothing to do with this. It did it all on its own."
"Minister, I was under the understanding that the Dementors are under the Ministry's control. Is that not true? Have they gone rogue?" questioned McGonagall. "If this is so, the people need to informed and warned before anyone is harmed."
"No, they have not gone rogue," Fudge quickly backpedaled. "They are completely under the control of the Ministry. No one is in any danger."
Fortunately for Fudge, McGonagall's line of questioning was interrupted by the arrival of Amelia Bones, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, a tall stately woman of middle years and graying hair, monocle firmly affixed to her eye, and two Aurors, Kingsley Shacklebolt, a tall, bald, black man wearing a large hoop earring, and Nymphadora Tonks, a slender woman with a heart shaped face, sporting a head of bright pink hair. Upon walking into the room, Amelia Bones halted abruptly and stared at the occupant in shock. "How can this be? That man cannot possibly be who he appears to be! I demand an explanation!"
Professor McGonagall turned towards Fudge and inquired politely, "Since you now have two Aurors here to protect you, do you think the Dementor could be dismissed? Director Bones, although it seems quite inconceivable, everything will be made quite clear."
Fudge hemmed and hawed, but agreed to the dismissal of the Dementor. He indicated that Auror Tonks should accompany the Dementor out of the castle. Both McGonagall and Snape sighed in relief as the Dementor left the room and let down their guard, watching as their patroni silently dissipated. McGonagall turned to Madam Bones. "If it is all the same to you, I would prefer to wait until Auror Tonks returns, before explaining how this man came to be here today." Amelia Bones gracefully acquiesced to her request and spent the next few minutes chatting amicably with her former Professor.
As soon as Tonks returned, Professor McGonagall began to explain the situation to them. Minister Fudge tried several times to interrupt and persuade Director Bones and the Aurors to simply take Crouch back to the Ministry, but was brushed aside by Director Bones who insisted that she could not possibly take Crouch in without first obtaining the whole story.
Just as McGonagall was finishing up Professor Dumbledore appeared. All three members of the Auror's office appeared stunned. Tonks and Kingsley kept exchanging glances of disbelief and concern.
"Are you saying, Minerva, that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has returned? And a student has been killed? And that a Death Eater has been teaching at this school the whole year? A man presumed to have died several years ago in Azkaban!" gasped Director Bones.
"Ah, Amelia, Kingsley, Nymphadora," exclaimed Dumbledore, eyes twinkling madly, ignoring Tonks's muttered, "Don't call me Nymphadora!" "How pleasant to see you all again. A pity it has to be under such trying circumstances. Have you been informed as to what has transpired here today?"
"Yes, Albus," replied Director Bones solemnly. "Minerva has been quite helpful. However, her story is almost unbelievable. I cannot comprehend how Barty Crouch Jr. was able to impersonate Mad-Eye so successfully the whole year. I thought you two knew each other fairly well. I also have a hard time believing that You-Know-Who is back and was bested by fourteen year old student, even if it was the Boy-Who-Lived. Nevertheless, I will have Kingsley and Tonks take Crouch to a secure holding cell in the Ministry and plan on interrogating him under Veritaserum as soon as we can."
At those words, Fudge visibly flinched and looked rather panic stricken. Getting a hold of himself rather quickly, he broke in, "Yes, yes, a splendid plan. Wouldn't want lose such an important prisoner, nor miss out on acquiring valuable information." Upon saying this, he looked slightly ill.
"Are you feeling quite well, Cornelius?" questioned Dumbledore solicitously.
"I'm fine, thank you Albus. I think I shall return to the Ministry and attend to matters there," responded Fudge.
With those words he bowed to the women, and made his way quickly out of the room looking like weight of the world was on his shoulders. Tonks and Kingsley stared after him suspiciously. It seemed they would have their work cut out for them, if they were to keep their prisoner alive and capable of standing trial.
As soon as he was out of sight, McGonagall turned towards the three Ministry employees. "I suggest you keep a close eye Barty Crouch. He was almost kissed by a Dementor before you arrived. Had it not been for Professor Snape's watchfulness, we would have lost him."
Dumbledore nodded serenely. "I suspect that Cornelius is attempting to keep what transpired here today quiet. It appears he fears for his position. I encourage you to seriously look to the safety of your prisoner. You may also wish to question Harry Potter about what he experienced today. I believe it will be eye-opening. If you will excuse me, I need to return to the infirmary and check on Mr. Potter. I will leave you all to your business. I shall be in my office later if anyone needs me. Minerva, Severus, I shall expect you in my office after you have seen to the safety of your houses. Good day. Director Bones, if you would care to accompany me?" And with those words Dumbledore left the room, his robes flaring behind him.