Disclaimer: I own neither Harry Potter nor The Dresden Files.
Of Wands and Staves
Getting Sirius exonerated turned out to be far more simple than John had anticipated. One would assume that getting an untried convict declared innocent would take months, perhaps even years, but the opposite was true. The American wizarding community rallied behind Sirius, seeing him as a sympathetic hero that deserved their protection rather than deportation. With the support of the American Ministry (which John hadn't even known existed until they'd shown up at his doorstep), as well as John's support as a Signatory, the British Ministry had little choice but to actually allow Sirius onto British soil for a proper trial.
Sirius returned to British soil August 18th, where he was taken into Auror custody. He was held for less than three hours before his trial, where he stood before the Wizengamot and testified under the influence of Veritaserum. His testimony was corroborated by the body of Peter Pettigrew and by Professor Severus Snape, who apparently had been there to hear Pettigrew confess to the murder. He was declared innocent of all charges that same day, pardoned for any crimes he may have committed while on the run from Azkaban, and offered a large sum of money as compensation for the false imprisonment.
Sirius turned down all monetary compensation and instead requested a set of five tickets to the Quidditch World Cup instead.
The sporting event was... an experience, and one that John wasn't sure he wanted to repeat. He enjoyed getting to know his son's Professor from last year, though he was unamused when Harry apologized for shooting the man. Apparently he'd been a werewolf. And, now both he and Harry understood just how dangerous Quidditch was and could worry even more when Harry talked about it in his letters home. Not that Harry worried. Harry thought it looked like fun, and John forbade him trying it.
His son was already unhealthily obsessed with the game. He really didn't need his lover suffering from the same affliction.
They went home the night of the match, despite the fact that the Weasleys invited them to share their tent. That turned out to be a good thing, considering that there was some kind of attack in the middle of the night.
And then it was time for Harry to head back to school. As always, John didn't want him to go. He pointed out that his teacher had tried to kill him yet again, which made them three for three when it came to some form of assault from professors at the school. Harry had caved and told them all about Lockhart during their discussion of the mishap with Professor Lupin. But Harry still wanted to go, and Harry also knew that neither John nor Harry could stop him from going. And so, feeling like something was bound to go wrong again this year, John and Harry sent him off once more.
Harry sent them several letters over the next month and a half, and then, quite suddenly, they stopped. A few weeks after Halloween, they got their first from him in almost two months, and the letter was simply three lines,
I want to come home.
John didn't stop to wonder what had changed his son's mind. He simply woke Harry in the middle of the night, contracted Sigrun and woke Nathan, and got himself and Harry tickets. Before dawn, he and Harry were on a plane, heading over to Scotland to go pick up their son.
Harry sat, alone and tired, in the Great Hall as he picked at his dinner. He'd sent his letter to his father off three days ago, as soon as he'd known what he would be up against for the First Task, knowing that it wouldn't be soon enough. He should have written to them sooner. Now the task was over, and he'd almost been killed, and everybody had thought it was great entertainment.
He hadn't put his name in the Goblet. He'd told them all. He'd told every single person every chance that he got that he hadn't put his name in the Goblet. He'd told the Headmaster when he'd first been asked, he'd told Rita Skeeter, he'd told Ollivander during the Weighing of the Wands. He'd told them all, and it hadn't done any good. He was still forced to compete.
He'd tried to hide on the day of the task. He hadn't put his name in the Goblet. He couldn't be forced to compete. It did no good. They'd found him, and they'd forced him on to the field. He'd nearly been killed, but he'd come in first in the Tournament, tied with Krum. That was great, right?
Ron had come to him, after the first task was over, asking for his forgiveness, and Harry had punched him. How dare he? How dare he just expect Harry to let his cruelty slide? He'd thought Harry had wanted to be in the tournament. When had Harry ever done something just for the sake of glory? All of the things he'd done over the years, every single thing, had been because of somebody else. He'd gone to save the Stone from Voldemort, to save Ginny from the Chamber, to save Ron from a murderer. How could Ron have thought that he was some kind of… of glory seeking… whatever.
It didn't matter. He finally saw what his parents had been trying to tell him for so long. Hogwarts was a horrible place. So what if he could be around wizarding children like himself? They all hated him. He'd much rather spend time with Molly who'd never turned her back on him, never told on him no matter what he told her. And feeling closer to his birth parents? Now Sirius was staying with his parents. Sirius would tell him anything he wanted to know about them. He'd probably also make sure Harry kept up with his wand-work.
There was absolutely no reason to stay at Hogwarts now. Not now that he saw what they were all really like, and he wondered why he hadn't noticed it before. Had he really been that blind, that stupid? This whole school was full of two-faced people.
The doors to the Great Hall banged open, pulling Harry from his thoughts. He realized he'd been idly playing with his mashed potatoes. They looked disgusting right now, just like everything else on his plate did. He could hear the Great Hall going silent around him and then he heard, "Harry, are your things packed?"
Harry's head dropped further in relief. "Yes sir," he whispered in response. He'd packed just about as soon as he'd written the letter. He knew that Dad and Uncle Harry didn't exactly like that he still came to Hogwarts, and knew that they would be quite eager to take him away the moment that he asked to go.
He stood, then, and walked to his father's side. This world was terrible. Three times now he'd been attacked by teachers, more than that if one were to count the verbal barrages that Snape liked to use. He never learned anything in half of his classes, and now he was being forced to compete in a tournament that he hadn't entered and nobody believed him and he'd almost died again. He would never come back here.
"Svana, if you wouldn't mind? My son's things are likely in the Gryffindor tower. You may need a teacher to let you in," John murmured to one of the extra members of Monoc Securities he and Harry had met with when their plane touched down in London. Sigrun was next to him, and there was a third woman behind her and to her right. Nathan had been forced to wait for them at the gates to the school, as he'd never had any sort of permission to be on the grounds.
"It would be my pleasure," she murmured through a thick accent.
"Mr. Marcone, Mr. Dresden! What brings the two of you to Hogwarts today?" the Headmaster asked, a beaming and bright smile on his face. "If we'd known you were coming-"
"I'm not here to make nice," John said sharply. "My son wants to come home, and I'm here to see to it that it happens. Tonight, and not whenever you decide that you're willing to finally let him leave."
Dumbledore's smile was politely puzzled. "I'm afraid that Harry can't leave in the middle of the school year. He's magically bound to compete in a tournament on Hogwarts' behalf," the Headmaster said. His eyes twinkled.
John could feel something behind him, heard Harry mutter something, and heard the deep sound of something large cracking. He glanced up and his eyebrows rose. "Did you just break their ceiling?" he asked his lover.
"I did. Because as the Headmaster might recall, I threatened to bring this place down around him if he ever did something to hurt our Harry," Harry said, sounding almost cheerful. "I'm sort of looking forward to doing that if I have to."
"I haven't done anything to hurt Harry. I'm simply enforcing a contract," the Headmaster said, the twinkle fading from his eyes. "Harry must compete."
Harry jerked next to him, as though he'd been struck. "I didn't put my name in the cup! It can't be binding because I never wanted to enter!"
"What tournament are you talking about?" John asked sharply. He knew his son. Harry had done many stupid things, yes, but thus far they'd all been in defense of another. He couldn't see his son breaking that habit now.
"Why, the Triwizard Tournament, of course. Your son's name came from the Goblet of Fire, obligating him to compete in the tournament," the Headmaster said cheerfully. "There are three tasks. He's already competed in the first, and the second is rapidly approaching. Removing him now is... impossible."
"The tournament is restricted to those of seventeen years and older," Sigrun said shortly beside John. "In fact, you drew the age line yourself, did you not?"
"I did," the Headmaster said softly, and now the twinkle that had tried to come back was fading once more from his gaze.
"Then either you are admitting fault with your magic, which I doubt considering that nobody else under the proper age was able to enter, or the boy did not enter his own name, in which case he cannot be bound to compete."
"He'll lose his magic if you're wrong," Dumbledore cautioned.
"He'll lose his life if he competes," Harry interjected. "That tournament was banned for centuries because of it's danger." He slung an arm around Harry, who was pale and shaking and looked desperately like he needed to be put to bed with a warm cup of milk.
Harry leaned heavily against him, and John rested his hand on his son's shoulder. "Right. Now that that's settled, we'll be going," he murmured once Svana had returned with Harry's trunk, Harry's owl, and Mouse.
"We can remove him from the tournament!" the Headmaster called as they retreated from the school, Sigrun and the third Valkyrie watching their backs. "You don't need to take him from school over this!"
John felt something in him snap. He let go of his son's shoulder, stepped forward, and clenched his hands into fists. "Do you mean to tell me that you could have removed my son from this tournament, which is so dangerous there was a minimum age to compete that my son is two years away from, and you chose not to do so?" he asked through gritted teeth.
The Headmaster, apparently realizing some of the danger he was in, took a wary step back. "It isn't as simple as that, Mr. Marcone. Removing him at this point, now that he's competed in a task, could mean cancelling the entire tournament. You have to understand that we aren't really willing to do that, and we'll have to see if we can't work something out instead. But if it's a choice between removing him or withdrawing him from the school, then obviously we'd rather remove him."
"That wasn't an answer," John ground out. "Could you have removed him from the tournament? By cancelling it or in any other way?" He stepped forward again, until he was practically breathing the same air as the Headmaster. He towered over the man, glowering at him as fiercely as he'd ever glowered in his life.
"Yes," the Headmaster said with great reluctance.
John's hand moved almost against his will. Though he had to admit he was rather satisfied with the crunch as his fist connected with the Headmaster's face. The Headmaster fell in a heap of brightly colored robes and the teachers at their table all let out horrified noises, one or two going so far as to draw their wands.
"I wish you would," Harry said from behind him, and John could feel his power building. There was the sound of glass shattering, and the windows in the Great Hall blew out. The torches went out as well, sending the room into darkness and panicking the students.
"I just want to go home," his son said quietly, barely heard over the shrieks of the students.
John turned his back on the teachers, the students, and their ridiculous Headmaster. "Then we'll go home," he said quietly. They left the hall and the school.
He didn't look back at the school. His son was with them, now, and safe, and he would never come back here again. Nothing else mattered.