Chapter twenty-nine: Ministry mayhem part 1
'Focus … remember … concentrate,'
Remember the wind that blew through her hair as she practically plummeted toward the ground,
Remember the sound of the fans cheering as she sped toward the little golden ball that would win them the match.
Remember the anticipation, getting closer and closer to the golden ball, letting go of her broom with one of her hands and stretching it forward, closer and closer, she had almost had it, the anticipation was building, closer, closer, her fingertips could already touch the little ball … she caught it!
Elation filled her as she raised her fist with the snitch in the air. They had done it they had beaten the Gryffindor team, she had beaten Potter they had won the cup!
Grey eyes shot open and a wand was trusted forward.
'' Expecto Patronum!''
… nothing … no grand silver-y animal … no wisp of silver … just nothing. Grey eyes stared at her wand in frustration; why was still spell so unnecessary complicated! Harry had told her he had been able to cast the spell when he had been a third year. So if Harry as a thirteen year old boy could do it then why couldn't she do it?
Okay … admittedly from what she had heard no normal thirteen year old should be able to cast a Patronus. Heck most of her mother's former colleagues couldn't even cast the spell from what she heard, but that did little fact did not matter to her. Harry could do spell, he said he thought she was able to learn it and as such she will learn it, end of story.
Unfortunately by the looks of it, it would take quite some time before she would be able to cast the spell that would protect her against those trice damned foul creatures which kept showing her worst memory. The only saving grace in this situation was that she actually had more time than she knew what to do with. A scowl appeared on her face as she thought about exactly why she had so much free time.
She could not believe what she had just been told; the ministry was closing Hogwarts! She could not believe the gall of the Minister for deciding that. His own undersecretary was found guilty for murdering multiple students. He should have resigned in embarrassment, but instead of doing that he decided to order the closure of the school until 'we can be certain no other teacher forms a danger for the young minds'.
Alex snorted in derision as she strode through the corridor; a scowl featured prominently on her face as her mind was still on the prefect meeting she had just existed.
Her ears twitched as she heard someone´s trying to catch up to her from behind her. She slowed her pace down and glanced at the approaching source of the footsteps. It was her best friend and fellow prefect; Rose.
''I can't believe they are closing the school.'' The redhead said as soon as she was walking alongside her.
''I can,'' Alex grunted, ''Mom and dad always said that Fudge doesn't really think and just acts upon what he think his voters want. I bet he is probably just closing the school because by doing so not all of the attention will be directed to his undersecretary.''
´´Nope it is a bit more complicated than that.´´ A voice replied, but it was not the voice she had expected to hear as unless her best friend had undergone some kind of magical sex change in the last few seconds the voice sounded far to masculine to belong to the Hufflepuff prefect. In fact she recognised that voice. She halted her stride and turned her head to the direction the voice came from. Her thoughts were proven right when she caught sight of a grinning Harry Potter standing there behind them.
'How did I not hear him approach us,' Alex thought while also wondering why he looked so happy. Especially considering how he looked just the day before when he met her and Rose in the Room of Requirements.
''Hey,'' he said as he gave them a somewhat lazy wave. ''I came by Hogwarts to give you two a way to contact Astoria, but then I saw you girls had a meeting with McGonagall so I decided to wait for a bit.'' He then pulled two small wrapped parcels from one of his pockets and tossed them in the direction of the fifth years.
The two Quidditch players easily caught the underhanded toss and looked at the identical package in curiosity, but before they could open it, Harry spoke up again. ''There are communications mirrors inside of them and written instructions on how to use them.''
Upon hearing this, Alex remembered something her father had mentioned sometime in passing. ''Didn't my dad use a mirror to communicate with others too while he was attending school?'''
Harry nodded before gesturing them to continue walking. He had no desire to remains where they were as sooner or later they would encounter a teacher and he rather not deal with them right now. So with that in mind he slowly started to guide them outside. While walking in the middle of the trio of students, Harry answered the Black girl's earlier question. ''Your father … well my universe's counterpart actually gave me the idea for it. I just altered it a bit so that multiple connections were possible instead of only between two mirrors.''
''That sounds useful.'' Rose commented.
Harry shook his head, ''You have no idea,'' He said before adding, ''Even if we don't take in account the use for normal day use. Do you even realise how useful those mirrors have been for me when I had to direct multiple security teams in different places?''
''If those mirrors are so useful why don't you try to sell them?'' Rose suggested. ''It definitely sounds faster than using owls.''
Harry shrugged, ''True, but like I said before it is a very useful tool for leaders during a war and I rather not have Voldemort get his hands on it .Maybe if the war is over I will put it on the market, but until then I keep it to those I trust.''
Both girls nodded at that admitting that his logic was sound, but Rose had still one more thing to ask about the mirrors. ''What about the Order are you going to give them mirrors to?''
Harry did not even have to think about that as he immediately said, ''No.'' his reply and tone was so absolute that Harry decided to elaborate before they thought he considered the Order the enemy. ''While it is true the Order is fighting Voldemort, Dumbledore has no real control over the action of the members of the Order. I have no doubt that if I were to give a bunch of mirrors to them then several will disappear to Voldemort and even more will end up somewhere in Diagon Alley or more likely Knockturn Alley. Besides the Order already has the Patronus charm for communications. While not as effective or as subtle as my mirrors it still beats the dark mark.''
''Patronus charm?'' Alex asked with a frowned brow. ''Isn't that a defensive spell against Dementors? What does it have to with communications?''
''Normally you would be right that it is the defence against Dementors, but with a slight adjustment during the casting you can have your animal guardian deliver messages.''
At those words another moment of her past came to the forefront of her mind. ''That skeleton horse thing! That was a Patronus wasn't it?''
Harry looked a bit bemused at her question, but answered regardless. ''Yes that 'skeleton horse thing' is my Patronus –''
Harry was suddenly cut off by Rose who in a disbelieving tone said. ''You can cast the Patronus charm? But that is supposed to be a very advanced charm. Most adults can't even do it.''
''Most adults can't do it because it is a very different spell than most Latin based spells. They give it a few tries and give it up when they fail because they assume it is just too difficult just like the rumours say.'' He said before giving his wand a flick and without saying a word silver coloured Thestral sprung from his wand. ''This spell is not difficult. I learned it when I was only 13 years old and while part of the Militia I taught it to each of my team members in a matter of weeks. I am sure if you two try to learn it then you will be able to do it in no time at all.''
''What makes this spell so difficult then?
Harry hummed thoughtfully for a moment before he answered. ''Like I already told you once before Alex, Latin based spells are very intent based spells. With the weaker spells you do it subconsciously, but more powerful Latin spells you truly have to desire it in your head to fire it.''
''But the Patronus charm isn't based on intent?'' Rose asked.
''No it isn't,'' Harry said with a nod in agreement, ''the charm is based on emotions; positive ones to be more precise. The easiest way to do the charm is to bring a strong positive memory to the forefront front of your mind and use the emotions tied to that memory to fire the charm. It really isn't that difficult charm to cast; you just need to have a different mind-set than normal. Of course with Dementors floating around it is a lot harder considering they bring up your worst memories while you try to bring up your best, but as long as they aren't to close by it is definitely doable.''
By now they had reach the open doors that led out of the castle and with a mental command Harry cancelled the animal floating alongside them. For a moment the trio walked in silence as the sun shone down upon them. Then the silence was broken as Alex turned to Harry and asked.
''What did you mean when you said it was a bit more complicated than Fudge being incompetent then usual?''
''Well for one our dear Minister didn't come up with this himself. From what I heard he decreed the closure of the school shortly after being visited by the 'grieving' father of our former schoolmate; one Draco Malfoy. It is not too far of a stretch to assume that that man is responsible for the closure of the school nor is it a stretch to assume he did it on orders of his master.''
''You seem to be in rather good mood considering Voldemort has Hogwarts practically given to him.'' Alex noted and even when she said that his smile did not falter.
''Well I am in a good mood because I manage to acquire an unexpected, but most welcome ally.'' Harry said before adding. ''Besides as long as Dumbledore is still the recognized headmaster of this school Voldemort will not have a easy time entering the premise even with no one here. And even if he can somehow enter I already knew he would set his sights on Hogwarts sooner or later so I have made some plans that I can use in case necessary.''
Alex opened her mouth to ask what the plans were, but then thought better of it; if Harry wanted them to know then he probably would tell them so this was probably one of those the less they knew the better. Instead she asked,'' Well what now?''
Harry shrugged again, ''Go home enjoy the peace while it lasts because I have the feeling it will not last much longer.''
''Because of what happened to Hogwarts?''
''Among other things yes,'' Harry replied. ''You could say it is that or perhaps it just that feeling in my mind that is telling me something big is going to happen soon. I have learned a long time ago not to ignore those feelings. Of course there is also that ball Fudge is hosting.''
''Ball? What Ball?''
Harry hummed, ''I received an invitation this morning Fudge is hosting a ball next Friday; probably to boost his fragile standing. Normally I wouldn't be too interested in it, but the invention stated that Fudge would announce his plans on how he would cleanse the country of the threat it was facing. Considering how that was worded and what he already did to Hogwarts I probably should show up.''
''Do you think he is going to support the Death Eaters?'' Rose asked after connecting the dots on the fact that the threat was never specified and also knowing that many Purebloods considered Muggle-borns and their Muggle influence a threat.
''I honestly don't know; Fudge will do what he think is best for him and if has any common sense he will not bow down to Voldemort, but then again common sense does not seems to be his strong suit. Although on the other hand in my invention there was also a not so subtle note clearly handwritten by Fudge mentioning that his daughter didn't have a date yet.''
''What!'' Alex said in a voice that was clearly several levels louder then what a normal person could consider an 'indoor voice'. She felt the blood rush to her cheeks when both Harry and Alex turned to her; Harry giving her a questioning look while Rose gave her a knowing smile that made her avert her gaze so she could hide the blush that was very visible on her pale skin.
Seemingly taken pity on her Rose drew Harry's attention by asking, ''So are you going with her?''
A look of distaste crossed Harry's face for a moment before it was gone again. ''At first I flat out rejected the idea.'' Harry began. ''Even I can see that me arriving with Blaise can be seen as a sign that I support that man … support he drastically needs, but on the other hand me going with his daughter can also be seen as the minister supporting me and by extension Hydra Enterprise. Also I need to consider that if I don't take her than he might feel insulted and turn against me … Merlin I hate politics.''
''Can't you just say you already had plans with someone else for that day?'' Rose enquired and Alex who by now had managed to control her facial expression also turned to him.
Harry's brow furrowed seemingly in thought, ''doesn't that sounds a bit too convenient. I mean what are the chances I would already have planned something I can't cancel or move on the same time as that Ministry Ball.''
''Well… you do know that Friday is the fourteenth right?''
''It is?'' Harry questioned before adding, ''And that matters w-'' He said before he suddenly stopped and a look of realisation appeared on his face''- ah Valentine's day.''
Rose nodded her head while looking rather serious, but inwardly she was smiling. ''Yes Valentine 's Day; so you could always say you had already a date for that day. Or you could compromise and still go to the ball so not to ruffle the feathers of that man, but with your supposed 'date' instead of with Zabini.''
Harry looked thoughtful at hearing the younger Potter's words and upon seeing that Rose decided to press on. ''In fact didn't you say you weren't even sure whether the minister would side with Voldemort. Wouldn't it be better that if you go you have someone with you who can watch your back … someone you known is a skilled duellist?''
Her shooting glancing at Alex while saying that proved that Slytherin would probably not have been a good house for her. Her expertly ignoring the death glare directed toward her showed she might not have done badly as a Gryffindor.
Back in the present a small smile appeared on Alex's face as she thought back on what had happened after that; Harry had actually asked her if she wanted to come with him to the ball. Oh don't get her wrong him asking her was not exactly the scene one would expect to see in one of those trashy romance novels, but to be honest if anyone was expecting a scene like that then they probably didn't know Harry very well.
No instead he had at first had made it very clear that if Fudge turned out to be a Death Eater loyalist that this might very well be a trap and even if it wasn't going with him would still point a pretty big target on her.
When she had made a quip about his feet being probably a bigger risk to her heath than anything else at the ball he had given her an amused grin and had told her she was probably right considering that the only lessons he had ever received on formal dancing had been given to him by her cousin Tonks.
This had shut her up rather quickly as while she had never seen her cousin dance considering how much a klutz she was in everyday life she really could not see her as a teacher for formal dances. Unbeknownst to her Harry had a rather mirthful smile on his face at seeing her look. He probably could have pointed out that after Tonk's 'lessons' he had had the chance to attend several more formal and informal dances and due practice could do several basic dances at a level where his dance partner at least didn't end up with broken toes, but he had to admit the look was rather amusing.
When it apparently became clear to Harry that despite knowing about the danger she still was willing to go with him Harry had given her a warm smile that had spoken of trust … and perhaps something more and he had said. ´´Then I look forward seeing you in a dress.´´
Alex smile widened as she thought of it; she had a (sort of) Valentine's day date with none other than Harry Potter. If someone had told her she would do that a couple of months ago then she would probably hex them or laugh in their faces … or most likely she would hex them to the ground and then laugh in their faces.
Now trough now things were different and she was actually looking forward to next Friday … telling her parents where she was going not so much, but she couldn't have it all after all.
As her mind was still filled with what she was going to do the coming Friday she lifter her wand in front of her again and whispered. ''Expecto Patronum.''
To her surprise silver a coloured substance sprang from her wand, it hovered in the air for several moments and then it disappeared.
'Huh maybe this charm was that difficult after all.'' The Black girl mused as she got ready for another try.
Meanwhile in another part of the country Rose Potter was not having a good time. Shortly after she had been told that she had to return home Harry had approached her and told her he wouldn't be returning to Potter manor. He had also informed her that according to the law he as her head of house was the one with the final responsibility regarding where she lived.
He had then told her that if she wanted she could join him at Hydra Enterprise HQ for as long as she wanted as long as she signed a secrecy contract that is apparently mandatory for anyone to sign before they are allowed in the building.
At first she hadn't been sure on what to do; she may not have had the best relationship with her parents, but at the end of the day they were still her parents and she had the feeling that if she decided to go with Harry then something would be severed that could never be quite whole again.
She had weighted the pros and cons of each choice and when the morning they were set to leave the castle came she still wasn't too sure what to choose. No in fact she didn't come to a decision until the post arrived. It was not a message she received from an owl or something that influenced her decision. No in fact it was the fact she hadn't received anything from her parents since the attack that did it.
Seriously several days had passed since the attack and yet she hadn't received even a small note from her parents. Heck she had even received a letter from Mrs Black asking how she was and yet her parents apparently didn't find her near brush with death important enough to contact her.
So when she hadn't received anything that morning she had made up her mind. She had approached Harry who had appeared when breakfast had just started and from the looks of it was handing something which she hadn't been able to see to a select number of what she believed were seventh years.
He hadn't seemed surprised when she had informed him of her decision and he had just pulled out the contract he had mentioned before. He had given it to her and told her to read it through thoroughly as the consequences of breaking the contract were rather severe.
In the end she had singed the magical binding contract and as soon as she and Harry were outside of the Hogwarts wards Harry had side-apparated her to the place where she would be staying for the foreseeable future.
She had to admit she was rather impressed by the place; Potter manor had been much and much bigger, but this place even though it was apparently the headquarters of a company still felt much more lively than her old home. Apparently she and Harry wouldn't be the only ones staying here as several of the younger employees; those right out of Hogwarts lived at HQ in exchange for a reduced wages. Apparently there were also a couple of people here who were under the protection of the company and by extension the wards surrounding the building, but Harry hadn't told her much about them only that Astoria wasn't one of them.
The room that had been assigned to her hadn't been exactly her old room, but she could hardly expect that considering it was meant as either a guest room or space for future employee, but Harry had told her he had ordered his elf, Toby to bring her stuff from Potter manor. The elf had worked fast and when she closed her eyes that night to sleep it was in a room that wasn't exactly hers, but still held some hints of familiarity
The next morning she had been woken by someone knocking on her door. When she went to open it she came face to face with a familiar face; Katie Bell, former chaser of Gryffindor had stood there. She had told her as Harry had errands to run he had asked her to finish the tour she had received the day before.
The tour had been interesting until they reached the point which had resulted Rose current bad mood. Katie had told her she and several others had to attend lessons under her uncle a man name John Bell, a former Auror who supposedly helped create the organisation. Rose not having anything else to do and still feeling a bit shaken up about how little she could do during the attack on Hogsmeade had asked if she could join her and the others in training … that might have been a mistake; training under John Bell was more difficult than anything she had ever done before, but it wasn't all bad; she had seen how strong her best friend had gotten under a proper instructor and as such she would endure and she would show the world she was not just the Puff sister of the boy-who-lived.
While two girls were training to prepare for the future a meeting was taking place that involved a whole different kind of preparation of the future. The meeting was held in small room which only furniture seems to consist of two armchairs which were facing each other and had a person sitting in both of them, in between them was a low table; on it were two photos.
The sole female in the room picked on of the pictures up and studied it for a moment. ''Those eyes,'' She muttered. '' Succubus?''
The young man opposite of her nodded and the female gave the photo and last look before putting it back on the table. ''So kill her if it looks like her husband joins up with the enemy and leave her alone if he's not?''
Again the male nodded and the female merely shrugged seemingly not really caring whether she ended up murdering someone. She then picked up the other picture and gave the male a mocking grin, ''Really? You think I need a picture for this one?''
The male shrugged, ''Well you aren't the youngest anymore. I thought it might help you.'' He said with a teasing grin.
The female mock glared at him as she replied. ''Haven't I warned you before, never ever joke around about the age of a lady.'' She then turned more serious as she tossed the picture back on the table. ''Are you sure about this one?'' She asked gesturing to the picture now back on the table. ''Don't get me wrong I can do it, but killing him would be much easier than kidnapping him.''
The male shook his head, ''No, kill him if there is no other choice, but for now he is far more useful alive than he is dead.''
''Well if that is what you want then you can consider it as good as done. ''
The male smile at hearing that, ''It's good to have you back on my side.''
Does anyone have any suggestions for Alex's Patronus animal? To be honest while her learning it was part of the plot I had planned out the actual animal did not really matter so I never thought of it. So any suggestions and why?
Next Chapter: chapter thirty: Ministry Mayhem part 2