Harry Potter and The Fate We Make
Chapter 1: Decisions and Demarcations
A/N: Summary: After the confrontation with Voldemort after the third task of the Triwizard Tournament, Harry doesn't get sad. He doesn't get mad. He gets even.
Warnings: AU! This story is only partially canon compliant. It is fully canon compliant up to Dumbledore, Snape, Harry and Fudge's little ... chat. Beyond that point, I will be incorporating bits of canon from OotP, HBP, and DH, but only bits. NO HARRY!HORCRUX! Proactive Harry, Intelligent Harry. HP/GW, RW/HG
Disclaimer: Ain't none of it mine, woe. All belongs to the almighty J.K. Rowling.
Wrapped securely in the anonymity of his invisibility cloak, Harry Potter ghosted through the silent, darkened halls of Hogwarts. It was late ... or was that early? The sun would be up in an hour or two, at any rate. And Harry had not slept. He'd been released from the infirmary just after dinner, but his mind had been twisting around itself nonstop ever since.
Voldemort was back. Cedric Diggory was dead. 'Moody' had, in fact, been a Death Eater in disguise. Fudge was simply refusing to believe anything anyone said in regards to Voldemort. These and more facts kept twisting around in his head, making it impossible to sleep, so he'd gone for a wander hoping to clear his head. It both was and was not helping.
Fact: Voldemort wanted him dead. Fact: Voldemort had tried, on many occasions even /before/ he was fully corporeal to kill Harry. Fact: When he'd been on his first tear through the magical world, a whole ton of people had died or worse. Fact: a lot of Voldemort's followers had escaped Azkaban and spent the following decade doing Merlin-knew-what, but Harry was willing to bet that at least Malfoy was in a possition to cause some real damage.
So where did this leave him? Dumbledore would want him to stay safe, which probably meant staying with the Dursley's all summer. Harry gave a disgusted snort. Yeah. Safe. Sure. If they said so. And he was wholly unprepared to deal with ... well, much of anything, really. He'd very nearly died himself in that graveyard. Sheer dumb luck (as Professor McGonnagal would say) was the only thing that had saved his life. And damn it, that just wasn't good enough. But what the heck could he do about it?
His wanderings had taken him down near the kitchen, and since his stomach was rumbling (and he'd be on short rations soon enough!), he decided to get something to eat from the elves. He tickled the pear, and, almost the second the picture moved out of the way, nearly got taken out at the knees by a seriously over-excited house-elf.
"The great Harry Potter sir has come to see Dobby!" The little fellow squeaked, hugging Harry's leg tight enough to threaten the circulation.
Despite everything, Harry couldn't help but grin. Dobby tended to have that effect on him. "Hello, Dobby. Would you mind getting me a sandwich and a glass of pumpkin juice? I'm a little hungry."
"Of course, Harry Potter sir!" Dobby squeaked, then dove into the well-organized chaos that was the kitchens even at this hour of the night, only to reappear a few moments later with a plate and goblet. A snap of his fingers created a table and chair.
And a light suddenly went on in Harry's head. Actually, he very nearly slapped his forehead, only just managing to keep from doing it because he knew Dobby would misinterpret it. How could he be so /dense/? Really! It was so ... so ... so ... simple. Gah. He took a seat and a bite of sandwich.
"Thanks, Dobby." He grinned when Dobby's eyes started to fill with grateful tears. He took a deep breath. "Dobby, how's Winky doing these days?"
Dobby's ears sagged, and he looked sad. "She not be doing well, Harry Potter sir. She be missing her family. She be shamed to be free."
Hermione was going to kill him for this. Ah well. "Can you call her over?"
A few seconds later, Winky was there. Dobby hadn't been kidding. She looked /awful/. Worse even than Dobby had, the first time Harry had seen him. Filthy with dirt, wearing a stained, torn child's dress, ears sagging so far down the tips nearly touched her thin, sagging shoulders.
Harry took a deep breath. "Right, you two. I need your help." At this, Dobby straightened right up, eyes huge, and even Winky perked a bit. "How much do you know of what happened a few days back?" He wanted to know.
Dobby and Winky both shivered in terror. It was Dobby, though, who answered, voice shaking in fear. "We bes hearing most everything, Harry Potter sir. That He ... that He is back, and most awful things!" The little elf shivered.
Harry sighed, mostly in relief that he wouldn't have to explain everything. "He is. And that's why I need help. You-Know-Who has been trying to kill me since I was a baby. He was trying to kill me even when he wasn't completely alive. And now he's back, and he's got some of his followers back, and things are going to get bad again." He took a breath. "I want you two to work for me, if you're willing."
This got an ecstatic, ear-piercing squeal from Dobby, who started bouncing up and down like he had springs in his feet. Winky looked gobsmacked for a moment, then started to cry.
"Yous wants Winky to be yous house-elf? Even though she be a bad elf and failed her master and got clothes?"
Harry nodded. "I'm even willing to make it official, bind you to me or whatever it is. You'd have to tell me how, though ... I haven't a clue." Hermione was going to /slaughter/ him, but she had never understood this. The idea of freeing the elves wasn't necessarily a bad one ... she'd just gone about it all wrong, and with little or no information, which was very atypical of her. There might be a way to improve house-elf treatment, but right here and right now, most elves didn't /want/ freedom, and trying to force it on them ... well, look at Winky.
Because his offer to make her his elf officially had transformed the sad little elf. Though she was still dirty and in a stained and torn outfit, it wasn't really noticeable at the moment, because her face, her body language had transformed from grief and despair to utter joy. She squealed and hugged his leg even harder than Dobby had earlier.
"Yous just be saying yous takes Winky as yous house-elf. Then Winky bes saying she bes yous elf." She explained, her voice shaky.
Harry nodded, then looked over at Dobby. "It's your choice, Dobby. If you want to stay free, I'll be more than happy to pay you a salary and all that."
Dobby's eyes filled, and he pranced from foot to foot, clearly debating the issue, looking from Harry to Winky and back again before finally saying. "Dobby still wants to be free, Harry Potter sir."
Harry nodded. "That's fine. I'll pay you ... what did you say Dumbledore was paying you? A galleon? Well, I'll pay you a galleon a month, and you get a day off every week." Dobby bounced in glee, and then Harry turned to Winky, and took a deep breath. "Winky, I take you as my house-elf." He said.
"Winky accepts being yous house-elf." Winky said, and they were surrounded, for a half-a-breath, by a golden glow. Winky's grin threatened to split her face in half.
Harry grinned too. "All right. First order of business. Neither of you are to punish yourselves /ever/ again. If you think you've done wrong, tell me, and I'll deal with it from there, ok?" Both elves nodded. "Secondly ... Winky, I'd like for you to clean up. Dobby ... just how much can you guys do? I don't know much of anything about the wizarding world, or house-elves. Can you take someone with you when you pop in and out? Can you make purchases for your master?
Dobby grimaced. "Dobby be sorry, Harry Potter sir, but we's not being able to take wizards with us when we travel. But we's be able to buy things for our masters, yes."
Well, the not being able to travel was a bummer, but the buying things would help immensely. Harry rubbed his hands together. "Right, good. I just need to formulate a plan." He needed Hermione. And Ron. And the Twins. Better add Ginny, too, or she'd hex him for being the only Weasley at school to not be included in the War Council. And he needed to write Sirius and Remus.
"Dobby, would you go get me some parchment, a quill and ink?" He asked. Dobby popped off immediately, and returned a few seconds later.
Harry thought for a few moments, then bent to write.
Dear Sirius and Remus
I've been an idiot. We had a totally secure way to communicate all this year and I didn't even think of it until today. This is Dobby. He used to be Malfoy's (I'll tell you that story later. Sirius especially will enjoy it!), but he's totally loyal to me now. We can send letters back and forth with him.
I'm writing because I need your help. With HIM back, I can't sit on my hands. He's tried to kill me three years out of four here at Hogwarts, and I doubt it's going to stop anytime soon. I need to be able to defend myself. I need to be prepared. And before either of you get upset, no, I'm not looking to go after him. I just want to be able to stay alive when the inevitable happens. Any help either of you can supply would be great.
He folded the parchment, then looked over at Dobby. "Would you be willing to take this to Remus and Sirius?"
Dobby nodded. "Of course, Harry Potter sir!" He took the parchment and disappeared with a pop.
Harry glanced at Winky. "Winky ... would you go see if Hermione and the Weasleys ... all of them ... are awake yet? If they are, ask them to come down here, would you?"
Winky nodded so hard her ears flapped. "Yes Master Harry sir!" And popped out.
Which left Harry to contemplate the harder parts of the plan that was taking shape in his mind. To whit, Dumbledore and Snape. This was not going to be easy ... but it had to be done. Harry planned to harass Dumbledore until he got the answer to the question he'd asked clear back in first year. The time to be coy and secretive was well and truly over. As for Snape ... Harry grimaced. He hated the man. And the man hated him ... and something had to be done about that, one way or the other. Harry sincerely doubted they'd ever truly get along, but a ceasefire between them would suit Harry down to the ground.