After several days under time compression in the Department of Mysteries, it felt strange to be waiting with Madame Bones back in her office only a few minutes after she had allegedly left to go to the loo. Harper tried to practice her meditation, but it was hard to relax knowing what was about to happen.
Madame Bones broke her concentration with a warning. "Harper, wake up. They're coming."
"Who all is it?" Both Madame Bones and Mr. Grey predicted that Dumbledore himself would join the Pomfreys to 'rescue' Harry Potter from the Ministrey. Still there was a chance it would be just the Pomfreys and the man with too many titles wouldn't be there.
"All three of them, just as we expected. You'll be fine, Harper. Between the Fidelius Charm and your occulumency no one is going to be getting into your memories with passive legilimency."
At least that was the plan. However, the plan left a lot to be desired. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore wasn't just anyone. Even if her occulumency kept him out of her memories, he would still probably be able to pick up stray thoughts and that could be bad enough.
The door to Madame Bones' office flew open and Dumbledore stalked in with Steven and Poppy Pomfrey trailing in his wake. "Madame Bones, I demand to know what is going on here! How dare you remove one of my students from Hogwarts!"
Madame Bones smiled pleasantly. "This is a criminal investigation, which falls under my authority, not yours, Chief Warlock. As for your authority as Headmaster, Mister Potter was under arrest. He was very cooperative and I was about to clear him of all charges and release him. So the arrival of the Pomfreys is very timely. If you three would have a seat, I'll be glad to explain."
Harper wondered where the Pomfreys and Dumbledore could sit, but even as she wondered she noticed that the office had somehow grown larger and added a few chairs. Apparently the office had some kind of adjustable expansion charm on it that accommodated the number of people inside it.
Poppy sat down next to Harper and stroked a hand across her back. "Harry, are you alright? Have you been treated well?"
Harper reached up and squeezed Poppy's hand. "I'm fine. Madame Bones has been very professional. Things have just been a bit confusing." So far her occulumency hadn't twigged yet — good.
Steven Pomfrey sat down beside his wife. Dumbledore frowned and then took a seat as well. "If this is a criminal matter, then you still had no business abducting a witness, nor questioning a minor without the presence of his guardians."
"Mr. Potter was under arrest. The charge was kidnapping. I will admit, Chief Warlock, that you are correct about questioning him without the presence of his guardians. If I had been intent on pressing charges against Mr. Potter, I would have bollixed it up good. Fortunately, I'm already dropping the charges against him. In fact, I recommend that he be given a commendation. I'd go as far as Order of Merlin, First Class, but it would be up to you and the Wizengamot to vote it for him."
While Poppy gasped, Harper tried to keep a straight face. An Order of Merlin had not been part of the plan they had discussed. Had Madame Bones kept that back or was she ad-libbing?
Dumbledore's entire attitude shifted. In a flash the angry Chief Warlock was replaced with the kindly grandfather face. "I see. That's very impressive, but what exactly has young Harry done, that would merit such honor and why if he was so blameless did you act so rashly, Madame Bones."
Harper was quite pleased at the way this was all playing out. She'd been afraid that she would be the center of Dumbledore's attention, but Madame Bones was catching all the heat.
Madame Bones took a moment to wipe her monocle before she replied. "Mister Potter has caught a mass murderer, discovered evidence that will see an innocent man freed from Azkhban, and revealed corruption within the Ministry. It is because of the corruption that I acted so decisively, Chief Warlock. Due to Mr. Potter's actions, I have learned that an innocent man, the heir to an ancient and noble house, has been incarcerated in Azkhaban without trial for a decade. My haste was due to urgency, not rashness. I don't want this covered up. I would appreciate your help, Chief Warlock. I have the authority to set the victim in this travesty of justice free, but you can help make sure that those who caused it to happen suffer politically."
Dumbledore nodded and gave a kindly smile. "I always want to see justice done, Madame Bones. However, I think it is past time to stop speaking in generalities. Perhaps it would be best if Mr. Potter told us the story."
"I have no objection." Madame Bones gestured to Harper. "If you would, Mister Potter."
Harper took a deep breath, cleared her mind and launched into her well-rehearsed speech. "Apparently I'm a little bit of a seer."
"You're a seer?!" interrupted Poppy. "Why didn't you ever say anything? Do you know how rare that is?"
"Well, not a true one and I just have a touch of the sight. I just found out today. Madame Bones called it 'dreaming'. I don't remember my dreams when they happen, but sometimes I get a flash of warning, a déjà vu sensation. I had a flash earlier today..." She kept her eyes on Poppy, deliberately not looking at Dumbledore.
"Please Harry, what was this flash?" asked Dumbledore.
Harper turned to face Dumbledore, let her eyes focus on his beard briefly then sought out Steven Pomfrey's eyes before continuing. "It was about a rat. It was watching me and I knew it was evil. I stunned the rat and I took it to Madame Bones. She was able to identify the rat as an animagus and force it to assume human form. That's when we found out the rat was really Peter Pettigrew. Ever since then I've just followed Madame Bones and done what I've been told. I don't really see how that justifies any medal, let alone an Order of Merlin."
Steven shook his head. "I'm puzzled about that as well. Peter Pettigrew was supposedly killed by Sirius Black. I think we all know that, but I'm not following the rest."
Dumbledore entered the conversation. "I think I understand. Sirius Black was never the Potter's secret keeper. It was Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew faked his death and framed Sirius Black. However, that doesn't change that Sirius Black killed twelve muggles. I'll also admit that if the capture of Pettigrew leads to an innocent man being freed it is quite an achievement, but I fail to see the corruption that you do, Madame Bones, nor why young Harry's actions merit the highest award in our world."
Madame Bones pounced on the conversation. "The corruption is that there was no proof. There was never any proof, no trial, no confession. I have already had Sirius Black recalled from Azkaban and questioned under veritaserum. Actually, he is still being questioned, but I have the preliminary report right here." She taped a folder full of parchment in front of her. "He didn't kill those twelve muggles. Peter Pettigrew killed them. As for the award, Peter Pettigrew was given an Order of Merlin, First Class, for merely confronting Sirius Black. Mr. Potter captured the real betrayer of his parents and saved an innocent man. Now, doesn't that merit at least the same reward that was bestowed on Pettigrew?"
Harper glanced Dumbledore's way wanting to see his reaction. That was a mistake. There was no reaction, just a placid smile. However, she felt the sudden pressure when her gaze met Dumbledore's. She focused on the bank vault around to keep him out of her thoughts. She felt squeezed from all sides, but that pressure abruptly stopped. Instead it was more of a tickle or a slither. Neither Mr. Grey nor Madame Bones had tested her like this, but it felt like Dumbledore was wiggling in through little cracks in her defenses…
"Chief Warlock, are you listening?" Madame Bones asked forcefully.
Suddenly the pressure was gone. Harper hurriedly broke eye contact. What the hell had that been? Was that the difference between normal legilimency and a master?
"I'm listening, Madame Bones."
"No, you weren't!" Harper had been coached to ignore it, but to hell with that. "You were poking in my head! That just not right! Madame Bones, is he really permitted to do that? Isn't there a law against mind reading?"
Four adults stared at her in collective silence. Steven Pomfrey spoke first. "Harry, that is a serious accusation. The use of legilimency without authorization is illegal. You were staring at Harry and not responding, Headmaster."
"Harry, I would like to apologize to you. My actions were rude and inconsiderate. I assure you that I was just checking the truth of your words." He turned to Steven. "They were not however, illegal. As I am headmaster and Harry is a student of Hogwarts, I have certain expanded rights normally granted to parents and guardians."
Poppy abruptly leaned forward and slapped Dumbledore. "How dare you! You know what he's been through and I don't care what kind of legalistic justification you can come up with. Steven and I are his guardians — not you. That's how you wanted it! We're sitting right here. You could have asked us first."
Madame Bones frowned. "More importantly, do I understand correctly the claim that being Headmaster of Hogwarts allows you the right to use legilimency at any time on any Hogwarts student?"
Dumbledore rubbed his cheek. "I think all of you are making mountains out of molehills. There are many in our world who know a bit of legilimency. I normally use it with discretion to root out falsehoods among Hogwarts students, nothing more. No, I don't advertise this, as it would upset many, but it is among my prerogatives."
Steven Pomfrey stood up. "Then perhaps it is time those prerogatives were reassessed. As Harry's guardian, I hereby insist that I be invited to any future discussion between him and yourself Headmaster. I also think that it is time that we take Harry and go."
Poppy surged to her feet. "I very much agree."
Harper found herself cheering inside. She had been expecting a much different outcome, but surprisingly Dumbledore was getting the shaft.
Madame Bones stood up as well. "I can't keep you, but there is one thing that Mr. Potter had a concern about. He doesn't want to be known as a seer. I can understand that as he only has a small talent and doesn't want the reputation. My report will state that Harry saw the rat in a foe glass. Would that be acceptable to everyone?
Dumbledore nodded. "A wise suggestion, Madame Bones. I'd also like to apologize to all of you. Steven, Poppy, I am not your enemy. Nor am I Harry's enemy. I have his best interests at heart. I hope you see that."
Poppy huffed. Steven laid a hand on her arm and whatever she held back whatever it was she'd been about to say. "I don't believe you are an enemy, Headmaster, but those weren't the actions of a friend. Hogwarts is our home and I would hate to leave. However, Poppy and I take our duties as guardians of Mr. Potter seriously. Please don't force us to take drastic action to protect his privacy that we will all regret."