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Chapter 2 – The coming to an Accord
To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent - Buddha
Three days after Harry was evacuated to Hogwart's he remained unconscious and in hiding within the private room of Hogwarts' Hospital wing. However, on this particular day, that wasn't the news that had caught the remaining staff's notice. Situated over early morning tea within Poppy Pomphrey's personal quarters, Poppy herself, Minerva McGonagall and Pomona Sprout were pouring over the advanced copy of The Daily Prophet that had been kindly sent by Pomona's long time friend, Amelia Bones.
Minister Fudge Deathly Ill – Amelia Bones voted in as Interim Minister.
Late last night, The Daily Prophet received a press release following an emergency Wizamagot meeting, detailing out the current health concerns of our dearly beloved Minister Fudge.
Minister Fudge is currently a resident of the Janus Thickley Ward, made famous following the torture of the Longbottom's and is where they have remained since their heroic defiance of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named's followers, and Gilderoy Lockhart, who was admitted following a magical accident at the end of his year teaching at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he tragically lost his memory.
Details are currently scarce as to Minister's Fudge's condition, but it has been confirmed that his condition is noted as 'serious' due to Spell damage that we here at The Daily Prophet do not know the nature of at current.
Following medical advice, the Wizenmagot has met on several occasions in the last few days following Minister Fudge's sickness, which initially occurred some weeks ago.
Albus Dumbledore, Chief Warlock was quoted as saying;
"We send our best thoughts for the recovery of Minister Fudge, however, in his absence, it became clear that alternative measures were needed to ensure the leadership of Magical Britain. If your readers would like to send wishes to our dear Minister Fudge, please send them directly to the Ministry"
This reporter was shocked by the news, following weeks of rumours of Minister Fudge's poor health but his apparent serious condition was a surprise. Our sources within the Ministry itself had noted his absence, outside of the usual summer break that Minister Fudge regularly takes in the South of France, and Albus Dumbledore's increased presence, known to be a close aid and confident of Minister Fudge. We all stand on tenterhook's as we await news of our dear Minister's health.
A St Mungo's Welcome Witch was asked for an update regarding Minister's Fudge's health, to which we were greeted with;
'Does it look like I'm the person to give a press conference, we have people to treat, go away unless you're aiming to catch Dragon Pox, we've had five cases of it in today'.
We have been assured that the Ministry will post periodic updates and us here at The Daily Prophet will keep all our readers up to date as to this developing story.
Following Interim Minister Bones appointment, voted into place with a majority of 39 votes to 9 with 2 abstaining members, the former Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement is a popular candidate, known for her fairness and strict stand on the last war with He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
In a surprising move, Albus Dumbledore himself voted against Interim Minister Bones ascension to the post, but declined to comment on the matter. He also declined to comment as to why he himself had not been offered the position despite the Wizenmagot's efforts in the past. As Supreme Mugwamp, he will be attending the International Confederation's bi-annual summer session, due to start in two days time.
For a profile of Interim Minister Amelia Bones' career can be found on Page 6.
For a review of the career, life and times of Minister Fudge, Page 10, 11, 12 and 13.
"He voted against Mia?", Pomona Sprout exclaimed after finishing the article.
"What is that man playing at? Everyone knows Amelia would make an excellent Minister for Magic", Minerva said, sipping at her tea.
"Merlin knows Mona", Poppy Pomphrey added, "Perhaps I should get him in on a medical evaluation before the beginning of term, sounds like the man is loosing his marbles, what does Amelia's note say Mona?" she asked.
"Thanks us for the head's up in regards to Harry, asks us to keep her updated. Oh, OH! Here we go! She cornered Albus getting rid of files within the Minister's office! Oh my, confidential files at that. Strongly suggested that he did not put himself forward for election or for the interim post should he want to drag matters out into the press, he backed down apparently. Mia's looking into it all, she's going to call for a full review of all the departments, Fudge is not expected to last. Oh Merlin, it was an assassination attempt! Hit with an unknown spell that's making his organ's fail, nothing St Mungo's can do. They expect it to be weeks at the most!", Pomona exclaimed.
Shocked silence permeated the room.
"Well that explains a bit", Minerva remarked, "He must have been summoned by Fudge, or his aids, as soon as he fell ill. I wonder what files he was attempting to get rid of, it appears that Albus has a habit of doing such"
"Indeed", Pomona agreed.
"Well I best check on young Harry, he should be waking sometime today, and will most likely be extremely tender still, but we'll have him back up on his feet soon enough. How is the guardianship coming Minnie?", Poppy enquired, rising from her morning meet with her friends.
"Slowly, but tentatively positive. It appears that it is solely a Goblin matter, Harry being the presumptive heir to a Ancient and Noble house, it's all to do with ascension, recognition, and the Will of James and Lily, which to this day remains sealed. Upon Harry's Birthday, he will be able to access the Will and have it read. Hopefully matters will be resolved at that point, but I have an old friend in the welfare department at the Ministry who is quietly putting the legal paperwork in place with my name on it until Harry can settle matters with the Goblin's. It will not mean much, as in his case, the Goblin's jurisdiction over-rules the Ministry's, but it will stop Albus-meddlesome-Dumbledore from removing Harry from MY care at the very least", Minerva said matter-of-factly.
"And about Albus-meddlesome-Dumbledore, what are we going to do about him?", Poppy asked.
"Until we have proof, solid proof at that, we cannot bring anything legal against him, nor can I petition the Board of Governer's for Albus' removal, paperwork tampering is not, unfortunately, a sackable offence, we would also now come under review as we are personally holding Harry's file, although we have corrected the tampering. It really does depend on Harry as to how much he wants to push the issue as well. If he chose to, then his neglect, and Albus' apparent failure to check upon his ward would become a legal matter. However, I do have an idea, a very Slytherin idea. Have you both heard of the Muggle phrase, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer? I don't believe there is anything in that philosophy that says we have to make it comfortable for him. Poppy, do you think you could talk to Severus, you are closest to him, I may be requiring his potion talent", Minerva said in a dark voice.
"Minnie! You're not thinking of poisoning him?", Pomona asked shocked.
"Heaven's no! However there are several subtle potions that even he would fail to detect and could make life very uncomfortable for him, and I believe Severus has been wanting a little payback for many years now, ever since Albus made him take that unbreakable vow", Minerva replied.
"Yes, I remember that, terrible thing he made poor Severus do, it was tantamount to slavery, Severus would have looked after young Harry without Albus' interference, he's Lily's child after all, he made a promise to her, and that should have been enough", Poppy supplied.
"Poppy, if you could work on young Harry and Severus, see if they can come to an accord, I believe we have the beginnings of a plan..."
Blinking his eyes rapidly against the harsh light of the white barren room he was within, Harry awoke and attempted to gauge his surroundings. It strongly reminded him of the hospital wing at Hogwarts, however the room he was within was clearly smaller in proportions, and had only two windows, of which morning light was streaming into the room. Unusually, heavy drapes of a deep purple framed the windows edge, and he wished that they could be pulled to darken the light his eyes had become unused to.
His throat felt dry, and he reached a throbbing, but usable arm out to the side table to reach for his glasses but came up with nothing. Sighing, he tried to focus on the room. Although he required glasses, he could see without them, but with the harsh light that he was still attempting to blink away, blurriness was his enemy.
"Ah Mr Potter, you're awake. How are you feeling?", the recognisable voice of the school Mediwitch said from somewhere to his left.
"Madam Pomphrey?", he croaked.
"Oh, oh that will not do, I'm gathering your throat is sore. I have something that'll fix that right up", she said, placing a cool glass into his hands moments later, and helping him sip a strongly mentholated smelling liquid. It flushed down his throat as he swallowed sip after sip, burning yet soothing his throat and quenching a thirst he had not recognised at first. "It's a new concoction Severus has recently come up with, effective is it not? It settles your stomach as well so that you can re-hydrate without bringing it back up after so long without"
"Thanks, oh, yeah, much better", he said in a firmer, and pain free voice. He thought it was unusual for a Professor, or school nurse in this case, to speak about another Professor using their first name, let alone the obvious praise she had given out. Harry frowned lightly in thought.
"Yes, well now we've fixed that up, how are you feeling young man? I apologise about the lack of glasses, unfortunately they were unrepairable. We'll fix you up with some new ones as soon as a friend of mine is able to pop by. He owes me more than a favour or two", she said casually to the young man in front of her as she noticed his questioning and thoughtful look.
"Um, a little sore, my ribs...", he trailed of as embarrassment flushed through him, instantly reddening his cheeks. This was different, he had been treated by her before for Quidditch injuries, and even from the result of one of his adventures, but never, never for this. He had often hoped that someone, anyone would find him in that last week, however being on the other side of the matter now, he felt embarrassed, he felt ashamed. He knew what state he was in, how he was found, he remembered McGonagall's soft reassuring voice, how she had battled, although briefly, his relatives, he remembered crying in front of his Professor before that blissful blackness returned once more. He wished for it again, however all he hear was the soft sigh of a voice to his side.
"Harry love, you're safe, you do realise that don't you? Safe means away from harm, where you can express yourself as well, no holding back now OK?", Madam Pomphrey said in a shockingly soft and loving voice. Gone was the crispness he associated with the matron, here was the soft Mother underneath who genuinely cared for her charge, him, Harry, she cared. It was a strange thought.
"Yeah", he said in a strange tone himself, it was almost wishful, whimsical in its nature, "Yeah I know", he said with more conviction and a one of those smiles with an edge of roguishness.
"Good lad, now about those ribs, that is of course unless you'd prefer for them to ache for the rest of the morning?", she said good naturedly, ruffling his hair before attempting to straighten it once more, before shuffling several glass vials around on the tray and selecting the right one, holding it up to the light and handing it off to him. His eye sight was beginning to improve and adjust to the light already.
"Only two sips mind, strong stuff this. Then I'll re-set your ribs, shouldn't feel a thing", she said with a smile in her voice.
Taking the strangely glittering vial it appeared to have a pearlescent consistency and he vaguely wondered what it could be made out of. Trusting the matron to never set him wrong, he took the required two sips which slid down his throat with ease. This potion even tasted good, slightly salty and earthy, as though it was a liquid ready-salted crisp. Now he understood why she said only two sips, it would be easy to knock back a whole vial of this potent potion.
Secondly, he noted that it was the second potion he had taken since he had awoken that didn't taste like shit.
Soon enough, the pain had disappeared and Madam Pomphrey was waving her wand over his ribs and fixing them in a jiffy, warning him that he was still to remain on bed-rest due to his other injuries, some of which were still healing. The worried look on her face as she left made him vaguely wonder exactly how bad of a state he was in. He knew he had dropped a fair amount of weight even in the short time he had been within the cupboard, and he knew that his Uncle had, at times, beaten him down to get him to return to said cupboard after toilet breaks. He guessed it was just too much for his young body to handle after so long.
Staring off into space, he finally noted the second, and slightly unwelcome presence within the room. In the shadow of the corner was a figure that even without his glasses he had no trouble recognising. Staring back at him was Professor Severus Snape.
"Ah Mr Potter, discovered my presence at last", he said with a sneer, but with less bite than usual.
"Err... yes Professor, ah, I mean I can't see so well without my glasses, I didn't realise-", he flushed with embarrassment at the knowledge that perhaps Snape had been in the room longer than he realised, had he heard Madam Pomphrey's words? Those familiar feelings of shame slithered into his thoughts, until the Professor, who was staring intently at him broke his thought pattern.
"Indeed Potter. What is your evaluation of the Mentholated Soothing Potion?", he snapped. Shocked at his Professor's reply, he could not gauge if he had been commenting on his own thoughts or words.
"Um, that's the one Madam Pomphrey gave me for my throat right?"
"Merlin's saggy... yes Potter, the one for your throat", he replied impatiently.
"Really good sir. It burned, but it soothed, and it felt better almost immediately. Um, Thank you Sir, it's a really good invention", he said a little chastised. This was dangerous territory, he was almost holding a conversation with Snape of all people. What was going on? Snape was evaluating him again, and boy he was being a lot more thorough that he, Harry had been in describing the potion.
"Tell me Potter, what would you guess created the mentholated effect?", he said in a softer tone. Shock at the softer tone of voice made him blurt out the first thing he could think of.
"Um, honestly Professor, you would think it's something like peppermint, but it lacks the taste, and peppermint doesn't burn, it's sweet, it tingles. The mentholated bit reminds me of something my Aunt used to use with Dudley, my cousin when he was sick, I think it was called Olbus Oil, but you didn't drink it, you rubbed in onto your skin or put some on a tissue to sniff. I think it had Eucalyptus Oil in it"
Silence permeated the room as Snape once more evaluated him with his dark broody eyes.
"Potter, I would like to come to an civil accord, despite your, and your friends thoughts on the matter, I have never, nor will I ever attempt to harm your being, and I certainly would not try to kill you. I-I was friends with your Mother when we were children, I made her a promise that I would look out for you should the worst happen. We both have more than one common enemy on this Morning, I intend to help those who are trying to help you. In turn, I want no more slacking in Potions. You clearly have some brains and skills in deducing elements. Your Mother had an incredible talent with Potions. I would like to see if that talent has indeed been passed to you and you have been suppressing it due to your... circumstances, which yes, I know all about as your Professor, and as of this moment, as one of your guardians. Poppy, I'm in", he said to the nurse who had re-entered candidly before sweeping from the room.
Stunned into silence, all Harry could do was a passable impression of a goldfish.
"Well, that went smoother than I thought, Harry dear, why don't you rest, we'll explain all after lunch", she said leaving him even further confused.
What the bloody hell was going on?
Several hours later, and a very long conversation between Pomona Sprout, who out of lessons was a very sweet and caring woman. She had fussed over him as Mrs Weasley had done the previous summer, but without the over-bearing manner which sometimes made him nervous. It was simply gestures, of ensuring his comfort, breaking the tension of the conversation by a light gripping of his hand in support. He liked her a lot, and for a moment, almost wished he had been sorted into Hufflepuff. That was until the strict, stern Head of House, a House that he called home, Gryffindor itself and Professor McGonagall turned figuratively into a pussy cat. Her Animagus form suited her well. Prideful of her self, taking pleasure in her accomplishments as she described how she had effectively out-manoeuvred the Headmaster and had taken guardianship of him, albeit temporally. The papers had come shortly after breakfast, and she had produced them for Harry's approval with a flourish and a grin that would put any Cheshire Cat to shame. It looked odd on his usual strict and stern teacher, who had only previously given the slightest of upturns in the mouth when pleased, usually with Hermione's efforts in class. Another trait, a fierce need to protect Harry. He would not want to be the Headmaster if any of her plans came off.
Then there was Poppy Pomphrey, 'Might as well call me Poppy, you see me often enough anyway, and no-one will think to question it'. He'd already seen her softer side. Between them all, he was entirely and thoroughly glad he had them at his back. For the first time in his life, he felt that he was protected, cared for and perhaps had a place that he belonged, the start of his own family.
They had all sworn as much to him, along with a surprise in Professor Flitwick, who had also been drafted in. He was keen to spend time with Harry, his Mother, once more as it turned out, was exceptionally gifted at Charms. Flitwick expressed a desire to take him under his wing and show him the real ropes. Underneath the excitement however, he sensed that Flitwick felt the need to right a wrong, a wrong that had fallen at his shoulders, that the one person, Albus-fucking-Dumbledore had fucked up big time.
Oh he was mad, furious, spitting feathers. Well, not actually spitting feathers. He wondered vaguely if there was a charm for that, remembering back to Ron's slug incident, it would render someone pretty useless for a short while anyway. But oh, he was mad. All of the abuse, all of the hatred from his family, and he finds out that it all could have been prevented if he had just checked up on him, if he had taken action at his very first medical report, instead of shoving it all under the carpet.
So mad, so very very mad that the windows began to rattle.
"Why?", he said in a voice constrained by anger.
"At this moment, I do not know. All we do know, is that he's also been caught meddling with confidential Ministry files, and Harry, I ask that you keep that to yourself. It has come directly from the Interim Minister Amelia Bones", Minerva McGonagall said in a tired voice.
"Hang on, isn't Fudge the Minister?", Harry replied to the sudden change in the conversation. He breathed and let some of the anger go, he knew that his... well his other Professor's wouldn't let it go so easily.
"He's gravely ill Harry, there was a big meeting of the Wizenmagot, the main council for Wizarding Britain, Amelia was voted in. She halted any moves from Albus after finding him destroying the files. He relented, so we can but guess but the content of those files must have been important", Pomona supplied gently, holding his hand between her own once more and radiating comfort. He sighed.
"So, let me sum this up, he's messed up my life with the Dursleys, after he knew, he didn't do anything about it, he actually covered it up. He's found destroying files in the Ministry and the Minister is, what, on his death bed. Does no one else think that that's a tad suspicious?", he said in a resigned voice.
"We do Harry, but unfortunately until we can get anything on him, there's little we can do. You can raise charges against him if you wish, he had, wrongly I suspect, appointed himself as your guardian by placing you with them personally, he has not undertaken the duties that a guardian should, and because of your circumstances and what happened, he would very well stand to answer some telling questions. However, I suspect that if that was to happen, it would be leaked to the media, if Dumbledore himself didn't do it in some twisted way to make you seem like even more of a hero than your current status. Personally however Harry, and this is just my opinion, but I don't think you're ready to face that just yet. We can set the balls rolling with Amelia, gather what evidence we need, and should you ever feel that you could face that, we would hit him with everything. Again, as I explained before, there's not a lot we can do about the tampering of your school record because it might now get myself in trouble as I am now holding it. This was the reason for your accord with Severus", Professor McGonagall replied, clearly upset that at present she could not do more for him than she had. She had told him of Severus' involvement in the Big Slytherin Plan. He agreed whole-hearteningly with it.
"You're right, I'm not quite ready to, well yeah, talk and stuff. I'd just like a couple of quiet weeks, get over well, all this", he said gesturing his hands around at the mess and the meeting of his Professor's, "but after, when I'm ready, you can be sure that he'll pay for the ten years of total and utter bollocks I've had to live through", he finished with a venom.
"Then it's decided. Filius and Severus will be looking into the first wave, we believe a thoroughly humiliating mixture of potions and charms should keep him occupied for a few weeks once he returns from the ICW. Hopefully by that point I will have caught up with my workload and Filius has kindly offered to be in attendance to 'push the button' on the Hogwart's letters this year. If you like Harry, and as long as Poppy here gives you a clean bill of health, I was planning on visiting some family this summer for a short break, I would like to bring my new family to introduce them to. I was extremely close to your Mother and Father, but particularly your Mother. I held you mere hours after your birth and ran the first scans to ensure you were a wizard also. I would like it if we could see where things go and see if we can't build you a better family this time", she finished with an unusually shy smile.
"That-that sounds great", he said a little choked up. His Professor actually wanted to call him family. Man, he had had a emotional few days.
"Wonderful", she clapped and beamed a smile at him.
"Don't forget us too!", Pomona added joyfully squeezing his hand.
"Of course, Poppy, Professor Flitwick and yourself too Professor Sprout", he replied just as joyfully.
"Oh, I think we can do better than that, family doesn't use titles. Out of school, we're Mona, Poppy and Filius", Pomona Sprout added to the nods of her Professor's.
"That's going to take a little getting used to", he chuckled.
"Well, if that's the case, you may call me Minerva", his transfiguration professor said with a small smile, "I'll leave you in the capable hands of my friends if I may, I would really like to get caught up on some summer work so we can be ready to depart before Dumbledore returns. I'll be by later however" she finished leaving the room with a little wave.
"Ha! Don't listen to her Harry", Poppy added in a undertone, "Call her Minnie, or Min. The old crone needs a little softening around the edges, but she's a fine woman to have your back Harry. She'll fight tooth and tail to keep you safe, happy and loved you know, tooth and nail"
"I heard that Poppy! Cats ears remember!", a shouted voice echoed back into the room which sent the room into a round of deep chuckles.
AN: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I've had an AMAZING reaction to the beginning of this tale, i'm truly bowled away. So thanks to all of you who have joined me on the road to hell :)
Special thanks goes to my reviewers, peniqudeplata, PotterinCanada, Au Hunter, XRoosie and Man of Constant Sorrow!
Here's to hoping that this chapter is as successful as the previous!
Em :) xx