Harry Potter: Junior Inquisitor
Chapter 35: Denouement Part 2
Harry missed it, but Hannah and Hermione shared a quick conversation which took place using only facial expressions before they then got up off of Harry's hospital bed and made for the door.
"Just getting a drink," Hannah offered as an explanation for their sudden departure before she and Hermione disappeared through the door.
"So, you want to live with the Abbotts?" asked Sirius, breaking the awkward silence.
"Well, technically it would be with the Bones' because the Abbotts are living there until the ward system around Abbott House is repaired and strengthened. But yeah, I want to live with them. I got comfortable with them over the summer and… well…"
Sirius rubbed his forehead and said "Yeah, no, I get it. It's fine, really. It's just; I was kind of looking forward to having you around."
"I'll come and visit," said Harry. "So it's not like I'll never be around.
"Yeah," agreed Sirius. "Yeah. We can have guy nights, you know? Get some beers in, order some of that pizza stuff Lily introduced the Marauders to…"
"Watch the footie…" added Harry, drawing a blank look from Sirius. Quickly Harry clarified "That's short for football. Muggle sport, you know? Eleven players per side, kicking a ball about…?"
"Oh yeah. I'll have to get one of those felly-tisions then, won't I?"
"Television," corrected Harry. "Yeah. And it's not just football. There's rugby too. And horse racing. Oh, and Formula One… that's car racing."
Sirius grinned wryly and commented "Sounds good. And while we're at it, I can teach you all the things a guy should know but Sarah would never think to teach you."
"Like what?" asked Harry.
"Like…" Sirius paused as he attempted to think of something. Finally he settled on "Like how to chug a pint of beer in ten seconds flat."
"Yeah…" said Harry, slowly. "Seamus already showed me how to do that after the second task of the Tri Wizard Tournament. Then Ron showed me exactly why I should never do so."
Sirius' grin turned into a smirk "That bad, huh?"
"Finest piece of projectile vomiting I have ever witnessed," said Harry. "Followed closely by the second best right hook I've ever seen delivered to someone. Dean was pissed because Ron got vomit on his bed."
"Hitting the bed next to him? You weren't kidding when you said the projectile vomiting was impressive."
"No, I sleep in the bed to the left of Ron's and Neville sleeps in the one to Ron's right. Dean's bed is on the opposite side of the dorm."
"Damn, that is impressive. Though I can't say I blame Dean for punching Ron. So what was the best right hook you've ever seen if that was second?"
"Oh, Hermione walloped Draco Malfoy in our third year. He was being really foul about the Ministry's plans to execute Buckbeak and she just went over to him and clouted him. Then she pulled out her wand. She probably would have hexed him if he hadn't run for it."
"Really? She doesn't seem the type."
"Well, she was really riled up at the time. Overworking herself, what with that time-turner and all those extra classes she was taking. She blew up at Professor Trelawney about an hour later. Stormed right out of the class and never went back."
"Like that, is it?" asked Sirius. "Well Harry, it's a good thing you're on speaking terms with her again. A girl who can get riled up like that is always fun to have around, especially if you can convince her to let you help her work through her… frustrations."
Harry felt his cheeks burn at the implication. "Sirius! Hermione and I aren't like that!"
Sirius laughed and said "I'm just winding you up Harry. I know you and Hermione are just friends. But I do stand by that piece of advice. Keep it in mind should the opportunity arise."
Harry cleared his throat and said "Thanks for the tip, but if it's all the same to you I think I'm going to take a break from the drama of a love life for a while."
Sensing the opportunity to bond with his Godson, Sirius used his wand to conjure an armchair out of thin air and sat in it before prompting Harry to continue.
"Look, let's just say I'm unlucky in that particular area and leave it at that, ok?" said Harry.
Sirius raised an eyebrow at him, and before Harry knew it, the floodgates had opened. He told Sirius about his disaster of a date with Parvati Patil at the Yule Ball the previous school year. He told Sirius about getting on well with Parvati's twin sister Padma and going on a picnic by the lake, and then the subsequent relocation of both girls to India because of the actions of The Order of the Phoenix.
Then he told Sirius about Cho Chang, how he had first noticed her in a Quidditch game against Ravenclaw in his third year. How he had wanted to ask her to the Yule Ball, only to find out that Cedric Diggory had gotten there first… how she had said she was sorry that she had already said yes to Cedric before he, Harry, had gotten to ask her.
"Did she mean that?" asked Sirius "Or was she just saying that to spare your feelings?"
"No idea." replied Harry. "I don't know how a girl's mind actually works."
His Godfather chuckled at that and said "Welcome to the pain of men everywhere, Harry."
Harry grinned before continuing "I like to think she meant it, but then, she did continue to go out with Cedric after the Yule Ball, so she can't have been that disappointed in her choice of date. Fast forward a couple of months and I appear outside the maze of the Third Task, holding on to her murdered boyfriend."
"Yep, that would put a damper on things." said Sirius, nodding.
"But at least I brought him back. I could have just left his body there and saved my own skin."
"Harry, I think you were in a no win situation no matter what you did. Had you left him she would have hated you for it. You brought him back, but now that she has that image of you in her head, well, surely you can see how difficult that that would be for her to get past. Hell, I think it would be difficult enough for most people."
"But then we got on the Hogwarts Express for the start of the new school year and she was all over me. It was quite disturbing actually. Then, of course, we find out she was dosed up with a love potion. Dumbledore's actions, as it turns out. He panicked when I aligned myself with the Ministry and he was hoping to keep me distracted."
Sirius sighed heavily and said "He was caught off guard and had to plan quickly."
Harry nodded. "Yes, I have noticed that Dumbledore's plans don't seem to work out too well when he has to think them up quickly. The dose was far too strong and as a result, Cho's behaviour was off-putting rather than appealing. I only wish I had spotted exactly what was going on with her sooner."
"I'm sure that you'll have the chance to make it up to her. Will she be attending Waxwings?"
Harry shook his head and reached over to his bedside table. He took the letter out of the drawer and handed it to Sirius, who read it twice before letting out a low whistle.
"Damn, Harry. You sure do have an effect on these witches, don't you? Are you going to keep in contact?"
"I might," replied Harry.
"You should. She's clearly extending an olive branch to you here. Even if nothing else ever comes of it, she still wants to be your friend."
"I suppose," agreed Harry.
"So, any other girls strike your fancy? You looked comfortable enough with Sarah's daughter when I came in here."
"Hannah? No, she's likes my friend Neville, though she won't admit it to him."
"And her red headed friend?"
"Susan likes an older boy in Ravenclaw; Eddie Carmichael."
"How about Ron's sister?"
Harry snorted derisively and said "Sirius, she looks like my mother. The universe has thrown enough shite at me in my life without adding an Oedipus complex into the mix, thank you."
At that Sirius broke out into laughter and a few moments later Harry joined him.
After it had died down Harry asked "Are you sure you're okay with me living with Sarah?"
"Harry, if it makes you happy, then I'm happy." He even had a genuine smile on his face as he said it.
"Amelia, have you got a minute?"
Amelia looked up from her desk to see Cyrus Greengrass standing at the door.
"For anybody else, I'd have to say no, Cyrus. But I trust that this is not a social visit."
"It isn't," replied Cyrus, shutting the door and taking the seat on the opposite side of the desk. "I've just come from Gringotts. King Ragnok himself called in Croaker and I earlier today."
"And?" pressed Amelia.
"Per our request following our discovery that Voldemort has been creating Horcruxes, the Gringotts Security Division has been conducting thorough searches of the vaults of known Death Eaters and their sympathisers. This morning they found a suspicious object in the Lestrange family vault. Croaker and I were able to confirm that what they had found was indeed a Horcrux."
"Where is it now?"
"We thought it best to destroy it there and then. We placed it within an empty high security vault and cast the fiendfyre spell. The vault successfully contained the flames until they burnt out. The Horcrux was destroyed."
"Well, at last we have some good news," said Amelia.
"Yes, but we need further leads," said Cyrus. "Amelia, the Horcrux was an ancient artefact; the golden cup that used to belong to Helga Hufflepuff."
"That thing's been missing for decades. How did he get a hold of it?"
Cyrus then related his and Croaker's meeting with Caractacus Burke shortly before his death, and the details that had been revealed during it.
Amelia took out her monocle and wiped it on a piece of cloth as she thought for a few moments before finally asking "So, where do you suggest we go from here?"
"We need to reopen the case surrounding the death of Hepzibah Smith. We must determine whether or not she did have the locket of Slytherin at the time of her death, and if she did then we must confirm that it was indeed stolen. That probably won't help us with locating it now if it is a Horcrux, but at least we will have confirmation that Tom Riddle stole it. Then we need to discover if any further items were stolen."
"That won't be easy," said Amelia. "That murder happened nearly fifty years ago and the Smith family is still greatly divided over how Hepzibah's assets were shared out. There are five branches of that family, all claiming that the others stole things for their own."
Cyrus well understood what she was saying. Family politics and in-fighting frequently caused investigations to grind to a halt and often required large amounts of time and money to sort out.
"Unfortunately, we do need to establish what, if anything, Tom Riddle also stole that night. We also need to look into the Gaunt family. We all know that Voldemort often referred to himself as the heir of Slytherin. We also know that Marvolo Gaunt used the title as often as he could. Further, the last known surviving member of the family, Morfin, spent an extended period of time in Azkaban for the murder of Thomas Riddle and his parents. Thomas Riddle if the biological father of Tom Riddle. That cannot be a coincidence.
"You believe Voldemort killed his father, yet framed Morfin?" queried Amelia.
"As that father was a muggle, then yes. Put that together with Harry Potter's claims that Voldemort's resurrection took place in the grounds of Riddle Manor and that the Gaunts were known to live nearby… We need to establish any links that the Gaunts and Riddles had. I believe that the answer may lie with Voldemort's mother. If we can identify her-"
"You believe she was a member of the Gaunt family," prompted Amelia.
"That will certainly take some work," said Amelia. "Let me get the trials of The Order of the Phoenix out of the way and I'll see what I can do."
"Head's up Harry!" called out Hannah, chucking a rolled up copy of The Evening Prophet towards him as she entered his hospital room with Susan in tow.
"It's a special edition," explained Susan as she and Hannah took seats. "They started printing them within two hours of the trials being over. Oh, and I've brought you this like you asked."
Susan handed him the box that contained numerous things belonging to the Potter family that the Aurors had uncovered in Dumbledore's office. Harry hadn't yet sorted through everything and had wanted it so that he could keep himself busy whilst confined to his hospital bed.
Harry set the box aside for now. Instead he unrolled the newspaper that Hannah had brought for him and looked at the cover. Many photographs of the members of the Order not taken away by Dumbledore covered the front page
"How did your appointment with the mind healers go?" asked Hannah as she helped herself to a few grapes from the dish on Harry's bedside table.
"Well, the blocks by Dumbledore have indeed been weakened," said Harry, not taking his eyes off the front page. "They think that a few sessions with a skilled in legillimency could help me begin to unlock them properly. Hey, is this right that Filch and Figg, or whatever their real names were, are the only ones who were sentenced to Azkaban?"
"It's true," said Susan. "However, all the members of the Order still at large were tried in absentia. They're all going to Azkaban the moment they're caught."
Harry began reading aloud the various punishments.
"Filius Flitwick: fired from Hogwarts; fined 70,000 galleons; sentenced to five hundred hours' worth of community service; forbidden to ever take on another student or apprentice; stripped of all prizes and titles awarded to him on the professional duelling circuit, including removal of his name from the British Duellers Association's Hall of Fame."
"That last bit was decided by the British Dueller's Association, not the Wizengamot," supplied Susan, helpfully.
Harry nodded and continued reading.
"Kingsley Shacklebolt; fired from the Auror office and stripped of all titles awarded therein; fined 50,000 galleons; sentenced to four hundred hours' worth of community service; never again allowed to seek employment within the British Ministry of Magic or with any of its affiliates."
"Pomona Sprout; fired from Hogwarts; fined 70,000 galleons; sentenced to five hundred hours' worth of community service; forbidden to ever take on another student or apprentice; forbidden to grow or cultivate any manner of magical plant; name removed from the Wizarding Horticultural Society's list of noteworthy herbologists and fired from her position within the Wizarding Horticultural Society's publishing offices."
"That means they've discontinued the two pieces she used to contribute to the WHS monthly magazine," explained Hannah. "She used to do a piece on the month-by-month happenings within the greenhouses at Hogwarts, and had an advice column called Ask the Expert."
The other members of the Order were all sentenced in similar ways. In addition to various fines and sentences to community service, Bill Weasley was no longer employed by Gringotts and had had his curse-breaker's licence revoked. Tonks had already been fired from the Auror Office for past misdemeanours, and like Kingsley she could now never again attempt to seek employment within the Ministry. Like Flitwick and Sprout she was also fired from Hogwarts and forbidden to ever take on a student or apprentice.
Harry continued through the list; Emmeline Vance, Sturgis Podmore and half a dozen others, Madam Hooch and Professor Burbage, all sentenced in pretty much the same way.
And at the end, as Susan said, were Chris Fugal and Bella Fairgag, also known as Argus Filch and Arabella Figg, each sentenced to twenty years in Azkaban for their part in successful plot by The Brotherhood for Squib Freedom to set off a muggle bomb in the Ministry for Magic in 1967, an act that had cost sixteen people their lives.
At the end there was a small note stating that, although Arthur Weasley had been cleared of all charges, he had taken the decision to resign from his post within the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office.
"That's a shame," commented Harry, who, despite everything, had always rather liked Mr Weasley.
"Auntie told me that he felt he had no other choice," said Susan. "Percy Weasley resigned from his position within the Minister's Office as well."
Harry nodded and flipped through a few more pages before observing "Still no word on Hagrid, I see."
"The Department of International Magical Cooperation is still trying to get permission to send a team from our Ministry to the Ural Mountains," said Hannah.
"It's difficult though," added Susan. "The International Confederation of Wizards likes to create as much red tape as possible."
"I wonder where Hagrid is now…" Harry muttered.
Albus Dumbledore held his wand high as they made their way through the dense growth of trees. A light emanated from the trip, guiding them through the gloom created by the forest canopy.
"Are you sure this is the right way, Albus?" asked Minerva McGonagall.
"As I have already told you, Minerva," said Dumbledore "I wrote a letter to Hagrid and placed a tracking spell on it before sending it off with an owl. According to the readings from that spell, the owl delivered the letter right around here."
Alastor Moody's magical eyes whirled about manically in its socket as he looked here, there and everywhere for any sign of their quarry until finally he muttered "Albus, shine your light over that way."
Dumbledore aimed his wand in the direction Moody indicated. To the eyes of Dumbledore and McGonagall there was nothing to be seen but tree trunks in the gloom.
"He's there," said Moody with a nod "And… gulpin' garyoles! He's got a blasted giant with him!"
As if to illustrate his point, one of the mighty oak trees was snapped clean in half and fell to the ground with an almighty crash.
Dumbledore raised his wand a little higher, and they found themselves looking at the face of a giant.
"Perfesser Dumbledore, sir!" said a familiar voice suddenly. "Perfesser McGonagall."
Dumbledore turned the beam from his wand onto the person who had spoken, and his eyes confirmed what his ears had heard. They had finally met up with Rubeus Hagrid.
With a twinkle in his eye, Dumbledore approached his old friend. "I see you were successful in your mission, Hagrid."
"Er… not exactly, Headmaster," said Hagrid. "Grawp here is th'only one that I managed ter persuade ter come onter our side."
"Are you sure he's on our side, Hagrid?" asked Moody, eyeing the many bloody wounds that were currently marring Hagrid's face.
"Oh yeah," said Hagrid. "It's just… 'ee don' know 'is own strength, see?"
"And what happened with the other giants?" asked Dumbledore.
"Well we got there, Headmaster. An' we showed 'em the magic like yer asked us ter. An' we nearly had the leader, Karkus, persuaded ter join us. But then Death Eaters turned up. One of 'em was Macnair. 'Ee encouraged another giant, Golgomath, to take over the tribe. Killed Karkus outright, he did. After that there was no talkin' ter the rest of 'em. Didn't want ter risk goin' the same way as Karkus, see?"
"But this one was brave enough to follow you, was he?" asked McGonagall.
"Well, I 'ad ter encourage 'im a bit," said Hagrid. "He's actually one the small side fer a giant. T'others kept pickin' on 'im. An' I couldn't jus' leave 'im. He's my half-brother."
"Well, the news about the giants is indeed unfortunate," said Dumbledore. "But another ally in the battle against the darkness is certainly nothing to be sniffed at. Come, Hagrid. We must return to our safe-house."
"Safe-house, Perfesser?" questioned Hagrid in puzzlement. "What abou' 'Ogwarts?"
"Alas, I am afraid that Hogwarts is currently lost to us, Hagrid. The Ministry has seen fit to take over the running of the school and evict those of us who did not wish to bow to their will."
"No!" exclaimed Hagrid in shock. "But what about the students?"
"Unfortunately this change has the approval of the majority of parents," said McGonagall.
"An' Harry?" asked Hagrid. "I can't see 'im bein' happy about this."
"Ah, Hagrid," said Dumbledore, sadly. "It is my sad duty to inform you that we may well have lost Harry completely. The Ministry arrested him over the summer for a case of underage magic. Despite my attempts to have him released, he was not seen in public until he made his return to Hogwarts. By then he had been brainwashed. Now he is but a puppet of the Ministry. With their encouragement he has publically backed the changes at Hogwarts, earning further approval for the Ministry's actions."
Hagrid had to sit himself down on the broken stump of the tree Grawp had snapped. "No," he muttered. "No, I don't believe it. Harry wouldn't do that."
Dumbledore sighed wearily. "I am afraid it is all too true, Hagrid. There may, of course, come a time when we will be able to make Harry see the error of his ways and come back to the light, but until then I am afraid that he is lost to us."
As Hagrid buried his face in his hands and began to sob, Dumbledore silently gave himself a pat on the back. Not because of the mixture of half-truths and outright lies that he had just spoken to Hagrid, but because neither Minerva nor Alastor had made any effort to correct him. His loyalty spells were back in full effect and, perhaps, better than ever.
"Come, Hagrid," he said in his favourite grandfatherly tone. "We must away."
"And Mr Black, if you could just sign here…" said the clerk, pointing to a dotted line at the base of the form.
Sirius dipped his eagle feather quill into the pot of ink and applied his signature to the form.
"Right," said the clerk, signing her own name "that's it. Harry Potter's permanent guardians are now officially the Abbott family, with Sirius Black still maintaining Godfather status."
"I still don't get how you got the Dursley's to sign this," said Harry.
Sirius and Sarah exchanged a look as they recalled the events that took place two hours previously:
Vernon Dursley opened his front door to find two people he didn't know standing there. Their dress sense, however, immediately told him that they were some of those freaks!
Before he could slam the door on them, Sirius pushed his way in with Sarah following. Vernon stormed after them as they entered the living room where Petunia Dursley was sitting.
"Vernon, Petunia," began Sirius. "We've never had the opportunity to meet each other before now, though I expect that you may recognise me. I was on your news about two years ago. I believe I was referred to as a being a highly dangerous, escaped convict who had partaken in the mass murder of thirteen people."
Vernon Dursley had turned from a shade of purple to almost pure white, while his wife looked ready to faint.
"Now," continued Sirius. "I wish to speak to you about your nephew. I am his Godfather, though I believe that he already informed you of that fact. This lovely lady here is his Godmother and she and her husband wish to become Harry's permanent guardians."
He took a roll of parchment out of his pocket and continued to speak as he unrolled it "So, just sign here, and you can be rid of your good-for-nothing nephew once and for all."
It was hard to tell whether Vernon was excited about the prospect of never having to deal with his nephew again or just scared about what would happen if he refused to cooperate with this man, but he promptly snatched up the nearest pen that he could find.
Petunia on the other hand was a little more hesitant to add her name to the form when her husband shoved the pen into her hand. However, after only a few moments of indecisiveness she signed too.
"Pleasure doing business with you," said Sirius, rolling up the parchment. "We'll show ourselves out, shall we?"
"Don't worry about it Harry," said Sarah. "The important thing is that they signed it. Now you are a member of a proper family."
Harry felt a mix of pleasant emotions bubble up inside him. He had a proper family, one that actually wanted him around.
"Right, come on," said Sarah, getting to her feet. "You're supposed to still be in St Mungo's. Sirius, Harry is scheduled to be fully released from hospital on Sunday morning. We're going to have a celebratory dinner Sunday evening at Bones Manor if you would like to come."
"I'll be there," replied Sirius with a grin.
He watched Sarah leave with his Godson and the headed out himself. He hadn't gone far when door to his right opened up and a rather harassed looking witch stepped out, carrying a stack of parchment under one arm. As Sirius watched, she marched up the corridor and pushed open a door on the left.
His curiosity piqued, Sirius followed and looked into the room.
"Alright you lot," she said, addressing a group of Hogwarts-aged students. "The Ministry is still trying to locate suitable homes for you but unfortunately we aren't having much luck finding people willing to take you in."
"What about our parents?" asked a rather thickset boy with a shaved head.
"I am afraid that there has been no sign of any of them, Mr Goyle. I again ask that if any of you have any idea where they might have gone, please share it."
None of the group answered. With a resigned sigh the witch turned and left the room.
Throwing caution to the wind, Sirius asked "What's going on here?"
The witch looked at him in surprise before answering in an offhand manner "A few misplaced students. When Hogwarts closed, there were a fair few parents who did not turn up to collect their children and appear to have pulled a vanishing act. We found homes for a few of them but we're having no luck with the rest."
"Really?" asked Sirius. "Who have you got?"
She pulled a sheet of parchment out from the stack under her arm and handed it to him. Sirius looked it over with interest, noting the sixteen names.
"So all their parents have disappeared?" he asked for clarification.
"Without a trace, it seems."
Sirius thought for a moment before saying "You know, I believe I can be of help here…"
With an unpleasant smile upon his face, Lord Voldemort set aside the letter and turned to address the three people standing obediently beside his black throne.
"We have received some most excellent news, my friends." he said. "It seems that Macnair has been successful in his quest. The Gurg of the Giant Colony in the Ural Mountains has sworn allegiance to us and will assist us in our cause."
All three Death Eaters made the appropriate vocalisations of appreciation at this news.
"Wormtail," continued Voldemort, addressing the shortest and fattest of the three. "See to it that a message is sent to Macnair, informing him of our change of circumstances. Then tell him to head to Transylvania. I believe that there is a vampire enclave there that will join our side as well."
With a nervous nod, Wormtail turned and hurried out of the room, almost tripping over the snake, Nagini, as he went.
Voldemort turned his eyes to the tallest of the men. "How go the negotiations with your relatives, Lucius?"
"My Lord, I am pleased to report that my second cousin, Domitius Malfoy, has agreed to work with us. He is using his position within the French Ministry to delay the British Ministry's attempts to locate our current whereabouts. The French Minister, Christophe Guichard is little more than a puppet to him and as long as things remain that way then France will continue to use its position within the International Confederation of Wizards to stall out any attempts by the British to search for us beyond their own boarders."
"Are there any threats to his position?" prompted Voldemort.
"Just one, my Lord. Claude Delacour has much support within the French Ministry, as well as with the public. He is not as easily swayed as Minister Guichard and could be well placed to successfully call a vote of no confidence and win an election."
"Then we must be cautious," said Voldemort. "While I would normally wish to eliminate such a man as quickly as possible, we are not yet ready to make ourselves known to the world. To remove him would cause panic and risk our exposure. To leave him presents a threat to our hold on the French Ministry. Inform Domitius that he must be careful. While I would prefer him to continue to use his influence to stall the British Ministry's attempts to locate us, he must not do so to such an extent that Guichard is removed from office."
Lucius nodded and left the room.
Turning to the last figure, Voldemort asked "And what report do you bring, Nott?"
"We found him, my Lord," replied Nott.
"Very well. Have him brought in."
Nott left the room and returned a few minutes later, followed by Crabbe and Goyle who were dragging a beaten man between them. The two large Death Eaters threw the man to the ground at Voldemort's feet and stepped back, along with Nott.
Voldemort looked down at the man who was shaking in the floor. "Why do you cower, Igor? Is that any way to greet your master after thirteen years?"
"M-m-my L-lord…" stammered Igor Karkaroff. "I… I…"
"Could it be that you fear me, Igor? Does my return fill you with terror?"
Karkaroff looked up at him fearfully.
"But why would you fear me, Igor? Did you not enter my service willingly? Did you not maim, torture and kill dozens in my service? Surely you should rejoice. My return marks the beginning of a new era, an era that you once so valiantly fought to bring about."
"Or perhaps you are changed. Perhaps you no longer wish to see the purebloods take their rightful place as the unchallenged leaders of the Wizarding World. Perhaps you no longer wish to see Wizardkind put the filthy Muggles in their place."
"My… my Lord… I do, my Lord. I wish to see the scum of this world learn its rightful place –"
"And yet you betrayed me!" shouted Voldemort. "You betrayed me and you betrayed your comrades. You willingly gave up the names of your fellow Death Eaters in order to save your own skin from the icy grip of the Dementors of Azkaban. You condemned many others so that you could go free."
"My… my Lord, I…. I…"
"Then you failed to return to the fold when I summoned you. You fled Igor. You fled from me."
"No!" protested Karkaroff. "I did not flee from you, my Lord. I fled from the others. From those who would wish me harm because they could not see the genius behind my actions."
Voldemort glared down at the man for a few moments before leaning back in his seat. "Very well, Igor. Enlighten me to the genius behind your actions."
Still terrified by the man before him, but emboldened by the chance to be heard, Igor began.
"In Azkaban, I was useless to you and to our cause, my Lord. I felt sure that you would one day return to power, but what use would I be if I spent years rotting inside Azkaban? People go mad in there, my Lord. I saw them. I could hear them screaming. Many of them are insane. I knew that if I stayed there too long then I too would become little more than a screaming mound of skin and bone.
"So I hatched a plan. I managed to secure a deal with Bartemius Crouch of the Ministry of Magic to secure my release in exchange for information. I intended only to give the names of less important Death Eaters, such as Travers, Rosier and Mulciber, but that information turned out to be useless to the Ministry as Travers and Mulciber had already been caught and Rosier was dead. In the end I had to reveal the name of Rookwood in order to secure my freedom, but it worked.
"Your freedom came at the cost of a valuable spy," observed Voldemort. "Rookwood's position within the Department of Mysteries made him indispensable."
"It was unfortunate," said Karkaroff. "But as more and more names were rejected, I could feel my plans slipping away from me. I turned in Rookwood as a last resort, my Lord. I had to do it in order to ensure that I was well placed for your return."
Voldemort regarded him hatefully, knowing that the man was not being entirely truthful. "And how does your being out of Azkaban benefit me more that Rookwood being free?"
"My position. After leaving Britain I secured employment at the Durmstrang institute, where I myself had been educated. I believe that you know Durmstrang's reputation?"
At Voldemort's nod, he continued "Within five years I had secured for myself the spot of Deputy Headmaster and two years after that I was appointed Headmaster. In my employment I have seen many students pass through Durmstrang's halls, many of whom show the right mind set to join our cause."
"Indeed?" asked Voldemort. "And how many of those are likely to join us?"
"Not all of them. But I estimate that I could encourage perhaps two hundred former students to come to your side. Many of them remember be favourably for improving the teaching of the Dark Arts. And once we persuade those, they can be used to persuade others…"
Karkaroff trailed off, letting the implications of his words hang in the air. Voldemort stared at him, judging him, before pulling out his wand and casting.
Karkaroff screamed and writhed in agony under the effects of the spell. Voldemort subjected the man to two minutes of torture before lifting the curse.
"You lie to me, Igor. Your actions in turning in your fellow Death Eaters were to save your own skin and nothing more. However, it is true that you managed to achieve a position of respect at Durmstrang. You will go and recruit as many of your former students as you are able, but you must be careful to not alert any Ministry as to your actions."
Relief washing through his system, Karkaroff got to his feet, nodding his head emphatically. "I will my Lord. You are merciful. Thank you."
"You will take Nott, Crabbe and Goyle with you." added Voldemort. "I expect you to obtain the services of at least fifty new recruits within a month."
"Yes, my Lord. Thank you."
It was a subdued Weasley family that sat around the dinner table at The Burrow. This was the first time in over a year that all nine members of the family had sat together like this, but no one said anything as Molly served sausages, mashed potatoes and runner beans to everyone.
Finally it was Charlie who broke the silence "So, Dad, Bill, Percy, any of you got any leads on potential employment prospects?"
"I checked The Daily Prophet this afternoon," said Percy. "Flourish and Blotts is looking for a store assistant. I might go for that until something better comes along."
"I'm afraid that at my age, I may have to settle for whatever I can get," commented Arthur.
The words had barely left his mouth when the fireplace burst with a roar into green flames and two men stepped out; Amos Diggory and Alain Fawcett.
"Oh, good evening both of you," said Molly. "What brings you here?"
"Actually we wanted to have a chat with Arthur, if that's alright Molly?" said Amos.
"We've had a bit of a business idea," added Alain.
As the sun finally dipped below the horizon outside, Harry Potter sat in his bed in St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, going through the box of assorted Potter Family Paraphernalia that had been found in Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts School.
Visiting hours were officially over and as he only required bed rest he wasn't expecting to see another healer that day, apart from someone sticking their head through the door every hour to make sure he was alright.
There were a number of journals within the box, each of which appeared to be blank until Harry pointed his wand at them and incanted "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Contained within the journals were all sorts of notes made by each of his parents, though there were many more written by his mother. For every one journal kept by his father there were three by his mother.
Three of those written by his father contained notes on how James, Sirius and Peter Pettigrew had gone about becoming animagi, and even had additional notes from Sirius on the subject. Two others were dedicated to the creation of the Marauders' Map, seven contained Quidditch strategies devised during his father's days as captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team and three were for spell work.
His mother's journals on the other hand contained far more detailed notes on everything from potions, to charms, to hexes to rituals. Harry wondered if any of it had anything to do with the reason for his survival the night his parents were murdered.
He also wondered whether Dumbledore had ever figured out how to access any of the notes contained within, though given how Dumbledore had written to Sirius in order to ask how to activate the Marauders' Map, Harry guessed that the man had never found out what the journal's contained.
Beneath the numerous journals as a small brown box which had the Potter family crest engraved into the lid. Harry picked it up and examined it closely. To his surprise it opened easily.
Contained within was an even bigger surprise; a small, red stone that was all too familiar to Harry.
"No way…" he said in a low voice, hardly believing his eyes.
A/N: Later than advertised, but here it is: Denouement Part 2. I hope you enjoyed it.
For those of you wondering, no, this story is not going to go the Harry/Hermione route, Sirius just questioned their relationship, much like Cho, Skeeter, Dumbledore and Krum do within the canon of the books. I do have a storyline planned for Hermione though, so those of you hoping she would just go away are out of luck. Personally, I rather like Hermione, and I'm hoping to allow her to grow and develop better than she did in canon, but she will probably remain a secondary character as opposed to a main one.
Similarly, the Weasley's aren't going away either. This chapter already contains the beginnings of what will be happening with them in the future, though again their story will not be taking centre stage.
In other news, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been released in book form. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that I wish time turners were real so I could go back and stop myself from reading it, though the story has set a few ideas a-bubbling in my brain which may one day make an appearance as something for you to read.
Anyway, last chapter I mentioned that I might break this story up into separate books. This got a mixed reaction, so I will put a poll in my profile in order to determine whether or not to break it but or continue it as one long story.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for taking the time to vote (those of you who do!)