No Hurry to Leave
A/N I intended to see if this idea would make a story AFTER I finished 'Souls Abound'. What changed my mind was a review I received some weeks back telling me I was approaching a total of a million words posted on FFN. On checking, very much to my surprise, I found that to be true. I decided to mark the event of my first million with a new story, this first chapter takes me over that million word total.
As usual, canon when story begins, AU by end of first chapter. As always – Thanks for reading.
The relief Remus Lupin felt at Dumbledore's arrival in the department of mysteries was immeasurable. He'd fought in enough battles to know they were only moments away from total defeat, that was before Albus showed up and turned the tide. When your opposition were death eaters, defeat meant death with only whether it would be quick or slow still to be decided. His relief proved premature though as Bellatrix Lestrange let out a triumphant scream. Remus spun around just in time to see his best friend in the world fall through the veil of death.
Remus was so shocked that Harry had raced past him before the boy's intentions even registered with the werewolf. Screaming "Sirius!" Harry Potter followed his godfather into the veil before anyone could stop him.
Harry had raced up the podium with only one thing on his mind, help his godfather. He dived into the archway and felt a sensation not unlike that of portkey travel before he found himself in another place. Harry didn't care where he was, he could see his godfather in front of him. With a cry of 'Sirius', he launched himself into his godfather's arms.
It was a thoroughly surprised Sirius who spoke to his godson. "Hey kiddo, what the hell are you doing here?"
"I couldn't lose you too Sirius, you're all I have left!"
The woman saying his name forced Harry to notice the two people Sirius had been talking with before he so rudely interrupted. His godfather's arms currently wrapped around him were now the only things keeping Harry upright as his legs turned to jelly. The young couple present were very familiar to Harry, he'd spent many an hour studying their images since Hagrid gave him that photo album at the end of his first year. "Mum? Dad? How is this possible? What is this place?"
His questions went unanswered for the moment as both his parents crashed into their son and his godfather. Four people were now involved in a needy hug that featured lots of tears.
The only thing Harry could equate his current environment with was the room of requirements at Hogwarts. He was just thinking that he could really be doing with a seat when a large semi-circular sofa appeared. Harry sat with his mum on one side of him while his dad and Sirius claimed the other. It was now time to talk although Harry was still holding on tightly to both his parents. He didn't want to take any chances of them disappearing and had no plans to release his holds anytime soon.
James Potter was the first to find his voice. Unfortunately his brain hadn't caught up with events yet, all that came out was a parrot of Sirius from earlier. "Harry, what the hell are you doing here?"
The stupidity of his question being asked again started Sirius sniggering, this set Harry laughing and his parents soon followed their son's example. For a boy whose only previous experience of hearing his mother's voice involved dementors and featured Voldemort, hearing her laughter was wonderous.
Lily couldn't take her eyes off her son, even when speaking to her husband. "Perhaps it would be better if you told our boy where here is James, we already know how he got here. Following his godfather through the veil, a godfather who was too busy taunting his cousin instead of fighting the crazy bitch."
Harry was certain he could never get tired of listening to his mother's voice. What did surprise him though was how much she sounded like Hermione, especially when his best friend was scolding him and Ron. His mother's tone matched Hermione's exactly, she also appeared easily a match for his dad and Sirius.
James thought it prudent to comply with his wife so started providing Harry with some answers. "This place really doesn't have a name son, you have to die to arrive here though."
Harry just stared at his father, "So I'm dead then?"
Lily now had both arms wrapped around her son before she spoke. "For everyone else, that would be true. You though, are different Harry. Circumstances have contrived to give you a second chance."
Harry was dumbfounded, "Circumstances?"
His mother smiled at him, she understood his deep-rooted need to be normal. "The night Voldemort gave you that scar, he didn't die because he'd deliberately created anchors to the physical world. Your scar was one of those anchors, it's lying over there."
Harry had thought the creature Wormtail had dunked into that giant cauldron was ugly, this thing just took that trophy. Harry felt unclean just looking at it. "That thing was in my head? Is that why I could feel Voldemort?"
His dad confirmed Harry's suspicions. "There was a bit of Voldemort's soul attached to your own. It couldn't influence you but has been feeding off your magic. There was another piece in that diary you stabbed, the one that nearly killed your friend Ginny."
Harry couldn't help but ask. "You guys know about that? How?"
His mother was holding onto Harry every bit as tightly as he was onto her. "We've watched over you every minute since we've been gone. That night in the cemetery wasn't us, just an echo that came from Voldemort's wand. I don't think I've ever been prouder of you than I was that night. We can watch the ones we love from here, and everything that affects them. We'll be beside you always son but you can go back, we want to watch you living your life."
Harry had shed some tears already tonight but now began really crying. This felt like rejection from his parents and godfather, something Harry just couldn't deal with. "What life mum? You say you've watched me? Then you and dad must know what it's like for me back there. I have no life!" He tried to control his crying and explain. "When I was about six I once saw an old black and white movie that had one of the saddest things I'd ever seen. This poor little monkey was in chains, forced to wear a ridiculous costume and dance every time the organ grinder turned the handle. The poor animal's only function in life was to dance on demand for the public's amusement. It was sad and it was cruel but everyone just laughed while clapping along in time to the music."
Harry tried to wipe his tears and looked to his parents before continuing. "That has always stuck with me and you know why? It's because I feel exactly like that monkey! Before Hogwarts I was locked in my cupboard, let out to do what the Dursleys wanted before being flung back in there." Lily was now crying along with her son while his dad and Sirius just looked murderous. James had never hated anyone enough to use the cruciatus curse on them, he would have no problem casting it on his obese brother-in-law for the way he treated his son.
The support Harry was now feeling spurred him on. This was a much-needed opportunity for Harry to talk freely about his life with people who loved him unconditionally, he grasped it with both hands. "When I went to Hogwarts, it may have been a different tune but the handle was still being turned. The chains were still there and I was expected to perform for the demanding public. Saving magical stones, slaying basilisks, fighting dementors and finding myself in deadly competitions I knew nothing about. This year the ministry decided to get in on the act and I found myself undergoing trials and torture because I refused to dance to their tune. Well they'll all have to find themselves a new performer because this monkey's done dancing!"
Harry was now sobbing again as his mother held him in her arms while his father rubbed his back, this felt so wonderful that Harry began to calm down. He didn't change his mind though, if anything he was now more determined than ever to stay. Looking at his mum, dad and godfather as they comforted him soon had Harry speaking again. "This here is all I've ever wanted, all I've ever needed. How can you ask me to give this up?"
James attempted to comfort his son. "Harry, no one is asking you to give this up. We'll always be with you and waiting here for you when it's time to return. If it takes a hundred years we'll still be here, I only hope you keep us waiting longer."
Lily felt as if she were adding to her son's burden but he'd a right to know. Too many people had hurt her boy by not telling him things he needed to know. "Harry, that prophecy was about you and Voldemort. Basically, you are the only one that can kill him. That's why Death is prepared to take that part of Voldemort in payment for letting you return, he's hoping you can send the rest of him here. Voldemort has cheated death and Death doesn't like that."
This was a lot of information for Harry to absorb, he spotted a flaw in his mother's reasoning though. "Won't I be cheating death if I go back? Doesn't that make me as bad as Voldemort?"
James ruffled his son's hair. He fondly remembered his father doing that with him but had died before he could repeat the gesture with his own son. "No Harry, Voldemort doesn't just want to rule the world, he wants to be immortal and rule it forever. Death is prepared to bend the rules more than a little to stop that happening, this is the second piece of Voldemort's soul you've given him. Yes, you may still be alive but you'll die one day. Hopefully, peacefully in bed from old age with all your great-grandchildren around you."
Harry glanced toward his godfather, waiting to hear his opinion. Sirius didn't keep him waiting. "Harry, two years ago I was prepared to face death. I was prepared as anyone ever is until you and the brilliant Miss Granger arrived on a Hippogriff and rescued me. Now you may think that was all for naught as I'm now dead anyway but I would have to disagree. In those two years I got a chance to know my godson and his friends, that time was precious and priceless to me. Even knowing what I know now, I would still climb onto Buckbeak and take those two years."
Sirius understood Harry's reluctance. Even in the last two years, he'd watched helplessly as Dumbledore and now Fudge fought for control of his godson. "Harry, I can understand where you're coming from but it doesn't have to be that way. You'll now have the power to break those chains and dance to your own tune."
Harry still didn't want to leave though. "Is there any way of knowing what will happen if I don't go back?"
James appeared to stare off into space for a moment before answering his son. To Harry it seemed as if his dad was receiving information from someone. "Harry, Voldemort was on his way to the ministry. He was only told part of the prophecy and is desperate to get his hands on the full thing. He'll meet Bellatrix in the atrium and won't care anymore. The instant she tells him you're dead, the prophecy no longer matters to him. He'll leave without anyone else seeing him. With you dead and no sign of Voldemort, the Malfoy money will get the death eaters out of trouble again. You and Sirius will be blamed for everything and Dumbledore will have to flee once more as our world spirals into darkness."
Neither Harry nor Sirius had any trouble believing that could happen. It was also obvious that his dad didn't want to say the next bit but felt he had to. "After discovering Neville had been subjected to the cruciatus by Bellatrix, his gran decided that was enough and the Longbottoms leave Britain. The Weasleys won't be so lucky, the Burrow will be burned to the ground. So will Luna's home but she and her father will be travelling abroad at the time, they will choose not to return."
Harry noticed his father didn't mention casualties at the Burrow, he didn't intend to ask. There was still one name missing, a name Harry was desperate to hear all about. Watching Hermione get hit with that curse tonight almost stopped his heart, Harry thought it only started back up after Neville said he felt a pulse.
James knew what Harry was waiting for and hated to disappoint. "I'm sorry son. When Hermione's parents saw her injuries and heard you had been killed, they withdrew their daughter from Hogwarts. With her being muggleborn, Malfoy used his money and ministerial influence to see all the Grangers had their memories of the magical world wiped. Hermione had her wand snapped and magic bound, we have no way of knowing what happened after that."
Hermione, his best friend, wouldn't shed a tear at his passing because she wouldn't remember him. That wasn't what changed his mind though, Harry couldn't see any way that Draco wouldn't want revenge on the 'mudblood' that had bested him at every turn. With his father's connections in the ministry, it would be easy for him to get hold of her address. Hermione wouldn't only be defenceless, she wouldn't even know trouble was coming. Draco and his cronies could walk right up her garden path and knock on the Grangers' door!
"What do I have to do to go back and change things?"
It was his mother who answered. "Chase Bellatrix back into the atrium and delay Voldemort long enough for people to see him. Only then will you have a fighting chance. There's so much more we need to tell you..."
Harry interrupted, "Don't I need to leave right away. Voldemort could have left by the time I get back."
Harry heard the sound of his mother's laughter again. "Harry, time doesn't matter here. You'll go back to the instant you left, it will be as if you passed right through the veil."
Something about his mother's statement triggered an idea in Harry's brain, it took a while to come out though. In his defence, Harry could honestly claim he'd just had one hell of a day. When it did click, he had a very important question to ask his mother. "Mum, if time doesn't matter here, does that mean I can stay with you guys for a while? I would still go back to the exact moment I left, wouldn't I?"
Harry watched as three faces lit up at that idea. "Told you he was smart Lily, we never even thought of that. There's so much I want to tell you son, there's so much I want to teach you. I'm finally going to get that chance!"
The hugs and happy tears started again as everyone showed their appreciation of Harry's solution. Harry himself was ecstatic, his life-long dream had just come true. Facing Voldemort seemed a small price to pay for spending time with his parents and godfather, and Harry was in no hurry to leave.
Remus was screaming 'NO!' when Harry appeared to flicker for a split second as he passed right through the veil of death, emerging unscathed from the other side. He didn't get time to contemplate this as Harry raced up the steps, chasing a retreating Bellatrix. Remus did get a glimpse of Harry's expression, the determination shown there was a sight to behold.
Bellatrix had just gotten the better of Shacklebolt when Dumbledore fired a curse at her, she deflected it away before deciding it was time to run. Bellatrix was speeding through the room that contained Potter's friends and was contemplating firing off a few curses. A powerful hex whizzing past her ear returned her concentration to the task at hand, getting the hell out of the ministry. She fired a curse over her shoulder, which luckily hit a tank full of brains. Bella didn't stop to see if her delaying tactic was effective but raced for the lifts. Lucius had their portkey so she needed to make it to the public exit in the ministry atrium since they blocked the floos.
Harry was desperate to stop and help his friends, his dad had been very specific though and they'd gone over this time after time. The best way to help his friends was to publicly expose that Voldemort was not only alive, but very much a threat. For that, Bellatrix needed to be allowed to reach the atrium. Harry had no intention of letting her leave the atrium though. After ensuring she didn't stop anywhere near his friends, Harry raced after her and followed through the revolving room, easy to get out of when you knew how. He saw the lift start to move up and called for one of his own.
He shot out the lift doors before they were fully open and spotted the bitch, she was nearly at the telephone lift. Harry fired a curse at her before diving behind the fountain of magical brethren.
Bella spun and batted it away, before firing a curse that blew the golden wizard's head clean off. She stopped running and started taunting. "Come out, come out, little Harry!" Bella started to walk slowly back toward the fountain. "What did you come after me for then? I thought you were here to avenge my dear departed cousin?"
"I AM!" Shouted Harry, his words echoing around the empty atrium.
"Ah, did you love him? Little baby Potter."
Harry was calmer than he thought possible with that question, having long ago come to terms with the fact that Sirius was dead. He'd also been intensively coached by his godfather on how to deal with Bellatrix. Ironic, since Sirius didn't and she'd killed him. "Yes I did, and he loved me! He loved me so much, Sirius made me his heir. I'm the new head of the Black family!"
It was Bellatrix who lost it, she screamed 'NO!' before firing another destructive curse at the fountain.
Harry though, was just getting started. "Yes, he didn't want it passing to anyone who would bow to a half blood bastard called Tom Riddle. I believe you know him better as Voldemort!"
Bella was now raining destructive curses down on the fountain while screaming at the top of her voice. All attempts at baby talk were long forgotten. "You dare let his name pass your unworthy lips, I'll kill you for that."
Harry laughed loudly at her. "Just wait until your wonderful master discovers that you failed him, the prophecy is gone. His best death eaters beaten by a bunch of kids! Now there's something to put on those death eater recruitment posters. Can death eaters actually read?"
Bella was now foaming at the mouth like a mad dog. "You're a liar Potter, you've got the prophecy. Give it to me and I'll kill you quickly. Accio prophecy!"
Harry taunted her with his laughter again. "Nothing is happening Lestrange, that's because it's gone. Do you think your beloved master will be merciful?"
"No, it isn't true, you're lying! Master I tried, I tried. Please don't hurt me..."
"Don't waste your breath, he can't hear you."
"Can't I Potter?" Asked a cold voice.
Harry now saw lord Voldemort standing in the middle of the atrium. He was staring intently at him. "So Potter, you destroyed my prophecy?" Harry didn't think he was supposed to answer that so didn't bother with a reply. The longer Voldemort talked, the more chance there was of the ministry finally getting its arse in gear. How the hell could they get a warning owl to him within seconds of Dobby dropping a cake on that woman's head, yet running battles inside the ministry were so far being ignored.
Voldemort continued, basically talking to himself. "Months of preparation, months of effort and my death eaters have let Harry Potter thwart me again."
Bella flung herself at Voldemort's feet. "Master I am sorry, I knew not. I was fighting the animagus Black."
Harry was thinking it was easier to face this arsehole without that piece of soul in his head, he certainly didn't miss those blinding headaches Voldemort's physical presence used to cause. He saw the broken golden wand lying amongst the wreckage and could think of a far better use for it than spouting out water all day.
Bella was prostrate on the floor, desperately trying to avoid being punished by her master. She was sobbing as she spoke. "Master, you should know..."
Voldemort never got to hear what he should know as the golden wand shot across the atrium at great speed and imbedded itself into Bella's head. The dark lord was reduced to watching helplessly as his most trusted lieutenant was slain at his feet.
Harry's voice echoed around the atrium to break the resulting silence. "You may give out silver hands Tom but I thought giving a golden wand was a touch of class, don't you think so? Mrs Lestrange appears quite taken with it, it's the first time the crazy bitch has been quiet all night."
Voldemort hissed and unleashed a killing curse at his young nemesis.
Harry was already moving before the damaged golden statue of the house elf animated and deflected the curse away. The golden elf then stood guard in front of a bemused Harry Potter.
"What!" screamed Voldemort before turning around and spotting who was responsible for this outrage. "Dumbledore!"
"It was foolish of you to come here tonight Tom, the aurors are on their way!"
Harry hated to admit it but, as much as Dumbledore pissed him off with his 'I know better than everyone else' attitude, the old bastard had his own inimitable style! He walked calmly toward Tom as if he was taking a stroll around the Black Lake on a summer evening. Curses were raining down on Dumbledore as Voldemort unleashed a maelstrom of magic designed to end his long life, the old wizard never even blinked. At one point Fawkes appeared and swallowed a killing curse to save his bonded wizard.
Harry thought it was magnificent, ridiculous, bordering on insanity as both wizards appeared determined to prove who the most powerful mage in the country was, while discussing death as if it was the weather. They would see the ministry building collapse on their heads before giving an inch. As a spectacle, it was breathtaking. As a fight, Harry thought it was a dead loss. Dumbledore had no intention of killing Tom and continually countered every move snakeface made, it was always going to end in a draw with the coward eventually running away.
It went quiet and Harry thought it was over before he was suddenly in immense pain. It felt as if Nagini had gotten under his skin and was determined to squeeze his intestines out through his eyeballs. When his mouth started moving, it wasn't Harry who was doing the speaking. "Kill me now, Dumbledore..."
Harry recognised what was happening and began fighting back. "Yes professor, kill me now. My parents and godfather are waiting for me on the other side, I'm not afraid of death sir. Not like Tom!"
The love that was flowing through Harry was like sulphuric acid to Voldemort, he was ejected screaming in agony. Harry was panting from the effort but still standing, Voldemort slowly rose to his feet. "You say you don't fear death Potter, very well. By the time I've killed all your friends, you'll welcome it!"
Quick as a flash, a blue bolt of light shot out Harry's hand and hit the dark lord in the centre of his forehead. Voldemort didn't get knocked on his back, the curse hit with such force he flipped right over and hit the floor with his chest. The atrium was now rapidly filling with people, most of who had just witnessed what happened. Harry didn't give a toss, he only had eyes for Voldemort. The feared dark lord was now sporting a rather large lightning bolt shaped scar in the very centre of his forehead. It was bleeding profusely and looked as if it hurt like a bitch.
Harry's voice though cut right through any pain, it had all the power and focus of an industrial laser. "Go after my friends Tom and it won't be death you'll need to fear. I will destroy you and everyone who bears your mark. Tell Peter I'll be coming for him, soon!"
Only after Voldemort portkeyed away did Harry notice the atrium was now rather full and that all eyes were on him. Shit, normal service has been resumed. The minister was even there, wearing pyjamas under his pin-stripe cloak. Hadn't the man ever heard of transfiguration? Honestly!
At least the minister had the decency to head Dumbledore off before the old man could get his hands on his pet project Potter. After all, why would Fudge deal with the monkey? You go to the organ grinder for answers. That this particular organ grinder was still a wanted criminal had probably slipped the minister's mind at the moment. No wonder the country was in the state it was.
This development actually suited Harry, he had places to be and things that needed doing. He didn't have time to shoot the breeze with these two right now.
Albus had to confirm for about the fortieth time that, yes, that actually was Lord Voldemort who'd been inside the ministry. These people had seen him with their own eyes yet still needed it confirmed. When Fudge heard there were more death eaters below in the department of mysteries, death eaters that Harry Potter and his friends had fought, he refused outright to believe it.
He demanded to question the boy himself, it was only then they realised that Harry Potter was no longer there.
Neville was the first to see him. "Arry!"
Harry grabbed his friend in a one-armed hug before placing his other hand gently over Neville's broken nose. He spoke quietly to Neville as a white glow appeared underneath Harry's hand. "Neville, you were fantastic tonight! I would never have made it without you, none of us would. I know you're terrified to tell your gran about your dad's wand but I think I can help." Harry slipped a golden wand into Neville's hand before explaining. "I copied your move from earlier when you jabbed Hermione's wand into McNair's eye. I stuck this wand into that bitch's head, Bellatrix Lestrange cast her last cruciatus on a Longbottom tonight!"
Neville was now staring at the golden rod with awe before Harry offered a word of caution. "Hide it for now Nev, I kinda stole it and they might want it back as evidence." Neville clamped an arm around Harry's shoulders while the other hid the precious rod of metal inside his robes. He thought his gran would probably frame it. Harry was right though, she wouldn't say a word about his dad's wand being broken now.
Harry left a happy Neville and quickly made his way over to Luna and Ginny. Both witches were sitting together on the floor with their backs against the wall. Harry knelt down and put his hands on the redhead's injured ankle. "Girls, you fought like tigers tonight, I was so proud of you. We worked as a team and looked out for each other, that made the difference." Ginny was looking at Harry and blushing at the praise, missing his glowing hands and the pain leaving her broken ankle.
He then moved on to Ron, his mate was still sitting in a daze. Harry placed one hand on his forehead and the other on his scared arm. His hands were glowing again. "Hang in there Ron, this will do the trick but leave you with the mother of all headaches. Pomfrey will fix you up with a potion when you get back to the castle." His healing could mend Ron but it would take a potion to neutralise the toxins currently in his system. Either that or twenty-four hours in a dark, quiet room while the body got rid of them itself.
Ron groaned in pain but was clearly back with them again. "Bloody hell Harry, you weren't joking about the headache part. Is everyone ok?"
"Just Hermione left to see, heading there now. Sorry mate, I need to move before everyone else arrives. Take care of them for me."
Harry could now go to the one person he'd been desperate to visit since coming back through the veil. Hermione was unconscious, lying on her back on top of a desk. Her complexion was ghostly pale and her breathing was far too shallow for Harry's liking. Harry conjured privacy screens around them before carrying out his first action, he had to tear her clothes away to get at the wound. His hand was luminous as he slowly moved it up and down the wound, Harry's other was tenderly moving bushy brown hair off Hermione's face. By the time his luminous hand had completed a full circuit, the wound was almost closed. Hermione's colour and breathing were also rapidly improving, so much so that her eyelids began to flicker.
Hermione slowly opened her eyes to find herself looking directly into a very familiar pair of sparkling green ones.
"Hermione Jane Granger, don't you dare ever frighten me like that again!" Harry's voice was barely above a whisper but he still managed to express a full symphony of emotions. "I thought I'd lost you Hermione, I don't know what I'd do without you!"
Hermione answered him with a smile before asking a question she really needed answered. "Harry, why is your hand moving up and down my chest?"
"Well, I wanted to make sure I didn't leave any scarring. Oh, next time we go shopping, it's on me. I didn't have time to loosen anything."
Hermione didn't know what to make of that answer but Harry didn't give her time to think about it. "We'll be getting disturbed pretty soon and there's something I really need to say to you. Whatever you hear me say tonight, don't worry your pretty little head over it. I will always need Hermione Jane Granger in my life. Please don't worry about me, I'll find you wherever you are."
"Harry, you're not making any sense, and your hand is still on my chest!"
Hermione raised her head to look down her body and couldn't believe what she saw. Harry's hand was glowing as it glided over her unblemished skin, she didn't have a mark on her! He moved his hand away and her torn clothes became a Gryffindor Quidditch jersey.
Harry bent down and kissed her forehead before whispering in her ear. "It says Potter on the back but you can keep it. I still owe you a shopping trip though."
The screens disappeared and, with a wink that only she could see, Hermione thought Harry just became a different person.
"Don't you know that people put up privacy screens for a purpose? Usually because they want a bit of privacy." Harry gently helped Hermione to sit, his back still to the people who'd entered the room and removed the screens.
Fudge was not impressed. "Potter, what's the meaning of running away upstairs? I wanted to question you!"
Harry's answer was fairly dripping with sarcasm. "Why minister, don't you read your own propaganda in the Prophet? I'm nothing but an attention seeking arsehole!"
Harry was now sitting on the desk with his arm draped around Hermione, she couldn't help but join in. She'd literally been trembling with fear earlier tonight but had stood and fought beside Harry. She'd also known tonight was a trap but followed Harry anyway. This may be a different battle but she had no intention of abandoning him now. Hermione knew she was badly injured tonight yet Harry's magic hands had healed her. They felt absolutely bloody wonderful too! No time to think about Harry's gentle caress now but she already planed on detailed exploration of this new phenomenon later. Hermione didn't know what was going on here but instantly knew whose side she was on.
"Harry, don't you remember? It was delusional, attention seeking arsehole. Speaking of arseholes, please tell me you caught Lucius Malfoy? I would hate to see him get away with it again." Only the slightest of squeezes from Harry's arm was needed for Hermione to know he appreciated what she was doing, they never did need long speeches between them.
Harry was almost chuckling with glee at Hermione's forwardness, this could be fun. He had no trouble imagining his mum, dad and Sirius choking with laughter, munching popcorn as they watched and cheered them on. "Oh we got him Hermione, in full death eater costume and with a wand that's fired off nothing but unforgivable curses all night. I wonder how he'll buy, I mean talk his way out of this one?"
At that, shy, awkward, no confidence Neville decided to get in on the act. He approached his two friends. "Hermione, here's your wand back. I had to borrow it after mine got broken. You may want to give it a good clean and polish though. I stuck it through McNair's death eater mask so it may still have a bit of his eyeball on the tip. Doesn't he work for the ministry, minister?"
Luna and Ginny helped Ron over as the six once more stood together. Luna's musical voice also lent support to Harry. "Harry, I'm sure daddy will love another interview for the paper. He'll probably want to talk to all of us after what happened here."
Fudge had listened to enough. Getting dragged out of bed and then finding Voldemort inside the ministry had really ruined his mood, he wasn't about to take shit from kids. "Just who do you think you are? You six children broke into the ministry, caused massive amounts of damage and now stand there slandering the names of upstanding wizards! You'll all be facing charges for this farce tonight."
Harry's tone was nothing short of derogatory. "Tut, tut, tut, minister. Been there, done that, can't be bothered doing it again. Didn't Albus here tell you we're now playing by new rules? What am I saying, of course he didn't tell you. He didn't bloody tell me and it cost my godfather his life!"
There were loud gasps from Ginny and Hermione at this revelation, Harry also felt Hermione's arm snake around his back in a welcome offer of comfort. He knew Ron was pretty much out of it at the moment, Luna and Neville could be brought up to speed later. Fudge appeared ready to explode while Dumbledore was preparing to take over and direct the conversation away from things he didn't want anyone to know. Harry pushed on regardless. "Voldemort is back, you all saw him. What you didn't see was the battle that took place down here. He sent his best death eaters into the ministry to steal a prophecy, a prophecy that says I will be the one to defeat him."
This drew gasps of astonishment from everyone, even Dumbledore was shocked by this revelation. Harry figured it was more to do with him changing the prophecy that rocked the old wizard, rather than spouting it out into the open. You could guarantee within forty-eight hours, the entire magical population of Britain would have heard about the prophecy. The ministry leaked information all the time, there was no way this would be contained.
A lot of the ministry crowd were obviously not happy at hearing this revelation, it was an auror who voiced their grievance though. "If you can do that Potter, why didn't you finish him off tonight?"
The contempt running through Harry came over clearly in his voice and body language. "Why should I? So Fudge here can set me up with some bogus charge and ship me off to Azkaban? Problem solved! Dark lord gone and Potter rotting his arse off in prison. Feed the Prophet any old shit and the magical population will eat it all up. This is the same man who sent Umbridge to Hogwarts and allowed her to torture children. Why the hell should I lift a finger to help him or you?"
The mood had certainly turned hostile and Harry noticed the three girls had their wands in their hands. Ron quietly passed his to Neville, he couldn't concentrate enough at the moment to cast a spell. Harry wasn't finished though, not by a long shot.
"How many of you saw Voldemort here tonight? How many of you actually fired a curse at him? I put him on the ground while you all stood there like frightened children. We six took on Voldemort's best and are still standing, you'll find eleven bound death eaters in the other room. Bellatrix ran away but didn't get far, she's lying dead in the atrium. My advice would be to have the lot of them kissed. They came here tonight intent on murdering schoolchildren, the fact they got their arses kicked doesn't take away that they're a bunch of murdering bastards. Voldemort has already proven Azkaban is no obstacle to him. How many aurors and guards will die trying to stop him, next time he wants his followers back?"
Fudge was a political animal, he understood at once Harry held a good hand here. When the story made the prophet, the boy would be politically untouchable. The public would demand the reinstatement of crucifixion and use it on the minister if he moved against Harry Potter. While Voldemort lived, Harry Potter had just become the-boy-who-gets-whatever-the-hell-he-wants. It was time to find out what that was. "What do you want Potter?"
"I'm sorry to disappoint you minister but you have nothing I want. I've had enough of Hogwarts and the magical world, I intend to leave both. I've sat my O.W.L.s and am head of two families now. Legally I'm entitled to walk away and that's what I plan to do."
Dumbledore had been quiet up to now but couldn't remain so any longer. "I'm sorry Harry, I can't allow you to do that."
Harry expected nothing less, he stood up to face Dumbledore. "Could you please tell me why this is any of your business? Last time I looked you were no longer headmaster of Hogwarts. You're a criminal on the run, just like Sirius. Oh sorry, since you keeping crucial information to yourself got him killed, that's no longer a true comparison." It was clear for everyone to see Harry's anger was building. "I asked you straight out why Voldemort was after me, you fobbed me off with some shit excuse and I've just watched another person die tonight. Quirrell, Cedric and now Sirius! No more old man, I've had enough!"
"Harry my boy, this is just the grief talking. Perfectly understandable..."
Harry interrupted. "That's what I thought I was being here, perfectly understandable! Apparently you're just not listening. I'm walking out of here tonight and I would advise you not to try and stop me."
Albus sighed in resignation. "I'm sorry Harry, you'll see this is for the best when you cool off. Activate!" Having silently cast the portkey spell on Harry's robes, he watched along with everyone else as Harry Potter left the building. The lad was now safe in the headmaster's office at Hogwarts, Albus would give him some time to kick his heels before talking some sense into him. "Now Cornelius, Harry is safe at Hogwarts and I really must insist..."
Hermione Granger's hand connected with Dumbledore's cheek, knocking his half moon glasses flying and leaving behind quite the handprint. "How dare you do that to Harry. What right have you got to just kidnap someone?" Hermione didn't wait for an answer, she was off on a rant about injustice. "There are laws that protect, governments to enforce them, that's how a society works. Yours is dying because certain people think they are above all that."
Hermione's voice now dropped to barely that of a whisper but everyone strained to hear what she said. "Let me tell you something, Dumbledore has just lost the one person who can save us all. Harry won't lift a finger to help you now, and I for one don't blame him."
Hermione started walking and her friends followed, wands drawn just in case.
Dumbledore was again forced to speak "Miss Granger, where are you going?"
"Back to Hogwarts."
"And how do you propose to do that?"
"We made it down here on our own so I'm sure we'll make it back. Harry speaks for all of us. We neither want nor need the help of anyone here."
It was like the parting of the Red Sea as people stepped out of their way. They'd all seen Harry Potter's reaction to Voldemort threatening these kids. No one wanted to have Harry Potter that upset with them, so they were allowed to leave unchallenged.
As they made it into the lift, Ron was the first one to speak. "Hermione, please tell me you have a plan?"
"My plan consists of us all flooing to the Burrow and asking your parents for help. I know it's not much of a plan but it's all I can think of at the moment."
Hermione was close to tears when she felt Luna's arm going comfortingly around her. "Don't worry Hermione, Harry will be fine. Professor Dumbledore hasn't realised he's dealing with a different Harry Potter yet, he soon will."
"What do you mean Luna?"
"Well, apart from being a lot more comfortable in his own skin, he's more powerful too. He wandlessly healed Neville, Ginny and Ron before coming over to you. Hermione, when you got injured, Neville had to carry you around tonight. Yet now, not only are you healed, you're able to smack Professor Dumbledore one as well!"
Neville also had something to add. "He killed Bellatrix Lestrange too. Sirius Black fell through that veil thing and disappeared, Harry raced after him but was too late. He then chased Bellatrix and apparently fought you-know-who in the ministry atrium."
Hermione just kept repeating to herself Harry's private words from earlier. 'I will always need Hermione Jane Granger in my life, I'll find you wherever you are.' This was the only thing stopping the tears flowing. Harry would never lie to her. When he said something, he meant it!
At that, the lift doors opened at the atrium, an atrium that looked as if a tornado had swept through it in the last few hours. They used the destruction and chaos to quickly make their way unnoticed to the nearest public floo and headed for the Weasley home.
Albus finally got away from the ministry. Cornelius had insisted on some answers, answers which took the old wizard a while to provide. Remus Lupin though, was a lot more demanding and certainly more forthright than the current minister of magic had been. Albus was left in no doubt what Remus thought of his treatment of both Harry and Sirius. Remus also refused ever to work with Albus again, citing lack of trust on both their parts. It was only the injuries to Miss Tonks that stopped him leaving with Harry's friends. Not for the first time tonight, Albus emitted a sigh. He would need to check with Severus if the party of Harry's friends actually made it back to the castle, Minerva was still recovering in St Mungo's. Albus was sure that the job of retrieving Umbridge from the forbidden forest would also fall to him, that would have to wait though.
He was mentally preparing himself to confront an irate teenager, a teenager who owed Albus some answers. He called for the headmaster's office and stepped into the floo. Nothing could have prepared him for the devastation that awaited him there. Devastation was the only thing that greeted Dumbledore in his office, Harry Potter was gone.
A/N Thanks for reading.