Cornelius sat at his desk, his mind reeling with information and everything that had happened. The meeting with Harry Potter had been much more intense that he anticipated. He'd been prepared for a cool aloof young man, but not the vengeful soul he was. Cornelius swore blindly that he would never get on his bad side, the power the boy had…he'd be lucky if he just lost his job and didn't become a reject from the magical world. Worse thing the boy could do was probably kill him, his and Snape's magic was extremely powerful. He was powerful himself, had to be to get into the Auror academy, so he was no slouch when it came to power. He'd had Hagrid put in Azkaban a few years ago, but Dumbledore had him removed within a few months. It seemed the boy wanted everyone to pay, and it was his prerogative. After all he had been the one who had been wronged, in the worst way imaginable to wizards. Abuse just isn't done in the magical world; all children were a gift, as long as they had magic (to a good portion of the magical world).
A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts.
"Come in," said Cornelius staring at the clock, he didn't have any meetings today; in fact he had no meetings until after Dumbledore's trial. He prayed it wasn't Lucius; he just didn't want to deal with the drama right now. Although it would explain his arrival, no doubt him being at Hogwarts had reached his ears via his son.
"Sorry to interrupt sir, do you have a minute?" asked the voice entering his office.
Cornelius arched an eyebrow in curiosity, why would the Auror want to speak to him? "Very well," said Cornelius not playing the part of bumbling Minister, he was in no mood to do it today. "Come in."
"Thank you sir," said Shacklebolt taking a seat, his stomach was queasy, but he had no choice he knew that. When the news reached him of Dumbledore's arrest he'd known it was only a matter of time. He'd stupidly relaxed when Minerva had let him know Dumbledore was safe. He wasn't, he'd been told by Scrimgeour that Dumbledore was in the cells and he wasn't about to risk his freedom to get him out. The old fool was being watched closely, very closely according to the Auror, if anyone attempted anything the Unspeakables would come down on them.
"You wish to speak to me?" asked Cornelius blankly; the Auror was extremely worried, that much he could tell. His body language indicated he was extremely uncomfortable and desperate. The silence continued and the Minister began to wonder if he was ever going to open his mouth.
Shacklebolt tried to remain calm, professional and stoic as he usually was, but he'd prefer to face two Death Eaters right now than tell Fudge what he knew he must. If he admitted it he may have a little hope in hell of keeping his job, and remain out of Azkaban. He'd tampered with an investigation; he'd get at least a year in Azkaban. Azkaban strikes fear into everyone, for good reason.
"Auror Shacklebolt, sometime today would be appreciated," said Cornelius irritated by the oppressing silence. Gesturing towards his pile of urgent paperwork. The ones concerning Dumbledore was under lock, key and spell, nobody was getting near them.
"I have something to confess," admitted Shacklebolt rubbing his eyes tiredly.
Fudge sat up paying attention now, his eyes narrowing in on the Auror, wondering if it had anything to do with Dumbledore. The timing suggests it might be, but what would he have to confess? He knew the Order of the phoenix had members in each department. He just didn't know who they were; even if he did they weren't necessarily doing anything wrong.
"I mislead the investigation into Sirius Black." stated Shacklebolt. Resisting the urge to shift about on the seat, at the look he was receiving from Cornelius Fudge. He'd gone over his reactions in his mind before coming, this wasn't one of them. Stuttering, shouting, yelling, firing him, yet all the Minister did was stare at him.
"Misled?" enquired Fudge, refraining from sacking the Auror right there and then, he needed everyone he could get at the moment - they were at war. He'd wait for more information before making a decision on that front.
Kingsley stared at Fudge in surprise, was he actually wanting him to outright confess everything? Did he actually have a chance at keeping his job? "I knew where he was, and had everyone running on false information." he'd even had Auror's going to Tibet after Black.
"Why?" demanded Fudge, although he had a good idea why, he just wanted to see if the Auror would admit it.
"I knew he was innocent," said Shacklebolt bleakly, unable to talk about the Order with anyone that wasn't a member.
"Evidently, why didn't you just bring him in and let him explain his side?" asked Fudge, was he seriously going to have to ask each question to get anything from the wizard?
"Without Pettigrew we knew that it was impossible," admitted Shacklebolt.
Fudge stared at Shacklebolt in confused disgust. "And you an Auror, believed that?"
"Yes," said Shacklebolt cringing, feeling like an utter idiot. He'd made bad choices, mostly by listening to Dumbledore in the first place. He'd often wondered why they didn't, but last time Black didn't even get a trial, so he hadn't wanted to risk it. In fact lately he'd been questioning Dumbledore's motivations more and more. Only to be brushed aside, something Dumbledore was very good at doing. "Black wasn't given a trial, I was afraid it may be repeated."
"I see," said Fudge nodding his head in reluctant agreement, it may have happened but they'd never be sure. No, Pettigrew was dead now, and Sirius Black had been fully pardoned and compensated. His dead body had been found and identified, the missing finger heavily pointing in his direction as well. It made Fudge gag just thinking about it, cutting off ones own finger, and it was the most revolting thing he'd seen. "Turn in your badge and robes."
Shacklebolt cringed once more, swallowing thickly, his broad shoulders hunched. Removing his Auror robes, he passed them over along with his badge which was attached to them. Just like that his career was over. His mind was going overdrive, wondering if he was about to be arrested as well.
"Kingsley Shacklebolt you are suspended for three months without pay, I do not want to see you in the Ministry during this time. Any raises and bonuses you have received will be stopped immediately, any promotions you were up for will be denied. When you return you will be given basic duty until you prove yourself, and your loyalty to the Ministry. Whether you believe someone to be innocent, the Ministry has to deal with it." said Cornelius grimly. He didn't want to sack the wizard, he was a formidable Auror. Fudge could see Shacklebolt as Minister one day; hopefully the suspension won't hinder it. Unfortunately it was going to be marked down; he couldn't let him away with it. One too many corners had already been cut.
"S-s-suspended?" squeaked Shacklebolt his brown eyes like saucers as he stared in blatant shock. He still had a job? He slumped back onto the seat completely numb. Okay this was something he hadn't expected while he paced the corridor outside the Ministers office for half an hour.
"Pack up and leave," said Fudge. "Just to be clear, the only reason you aren't being fired is quite frankly we need everyone we can get - and because Sirius Black was indeed innocent."
"Yes sir," said Shacklebolt standing up and immediately leaving the office. He could feel all eyes on him, it was almost as if everyone knew, but that wasn't possible. No it was probably because he didn't have his robes on; they had to by law when they were on duty. He was grateful nobody was in the office when he went to pack his belongings and immediately Floo'ed from the Ministry to Hogwarts. He wanted answers from Minerva McGonagall, and had to find out what was happening to the Order with Albus out of the picture for now.
"Come in," called Minerva as she approved the paperwork for Madam Pince to get the new books she wanted for the library. Dumbledore wouldn't have allowed it; in fact he'd denied her often enough, probably why she was taking this time to ask her for it. Unlike Dumbledore, Minerva didn't see the harm in learning magic that Albus would have considered bordering Dark Magic. No the money in the Hogwarts vaults were for the betterment of the school and this would educate them. "Ah, Kingsley, I have been expecting you." she admitted as she placed the paperwork in the done pile she'd created. She wasn't sure how Dumbledore kept track of everything without piles to help along the way. All the cluttering things had been removed from the desk, after being scanned for magic.
"Why?" demanded Shacklebolt.
"Excuse me?" said Minerva coolly not appreciating the tone the Auror was using to speak to him in.
"Why did you nod that everything was fine when it clearly wasn't?" said Shacklebolt his accusatory voice still evident.
"Are you questioning me as an Auror, Kingsley?" asked Minerva her mood darkening even further. How dare he continue to defend that man after what he did? It sickened her to the core a man like him could or would.
"I've been suspended," replied Shacklebolt sullenly.
"Why?" asked Minerva surprised, it certainly explained his mood.
"I told them about Sirius," said Shacklebolt sitting down looking defeated. "It was only a matter of time before they found out anyway."
"Ah," replied Minerva, not sure what to say to the Auror. "It is better than being fired surely."
"Yeah, it's what I expected." conceded Shacklebolt grimly. He was lucky, he knew that, but any hope of advancing within the Ministry was gone. At least he would still be able to help people by being an Auror at the end of the day. Merlin he wanted a drink so badly, Dumbledore hadn't half screwed him over time and time again.
Minerva quietly stared at Kingsley with nothing to say. She pulled more paperwork towards herself, if he wasn't going to say anything she may as well get more work done before the Order arrived.
"Why didn't you help Albus?" asked Kingsley his voice just lost and confused.
"Do you not know why he's been arrested?" asked Minerva incredulity.
"No, we weren't informed," said Shacklebolt blankly. "Why what has he done?" nothing bad surely? His mind drifted to the last Order meeting, and his heart sank damn it was bad then.
"Albus has been arrested for the following reasons, child abuse, child endangerment, the use of an illegal potion, which by the way is equivalent of an imperious curse without being able to remove it. Tracking someone's magic, though means of removing their file from the records room by which means still currently unknown. Negligence and last but not least coercion." Minerva summarized for the Auror.
Shacklebolt's jaw dropped, "Child abuse?"
Minerva wasn't surprised by the fact that's the one he picked up on, to most it was a crime most unconceivable. "Indeed." just wait until he found out who it was.
"Who?" he asked baffled, the only children remotely close to Dumbledore was Ginny Weasley, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger and yes they were all children, they hadn't graduated Hogwarts yet. They shouldn't be in the Order, it wasn't right, but it might explain why if he had abused them.
"Are you being deliberately obtuse?" asked Minerva incredulity wafting from her in waves. She could barely believe what he'd just asked her, had he suffered a recent blow to the head? He had been at the last order meeting. She had no idea just how much she sounded like Severus Snape at that moment.
Shacklebolt thought back on what she'd said, and his eyes widened in disbelief. They had to be talking about Potter, there was no other explanation. So he hadn't recorded Harry's magic after he managed to get him to Hogwarts, he had somehow gotten into the records room and stole it. He had often wondered why they didn't use Voldemort's to find him. Unfortunately he had found out his answer, Tom Riddle a.k.a Voldemort hadn't been born in the magical world or registered. No he was essentially a Muggle born, since that's normally the only way they aren't registered. Children with at least one magical parent were registered in the Ministry.
"Harry Potter?" asked Shacklebolt, "He abused Harry Potter?" unable to believe it. He was a hero, what on earth had Dumbledore been thinking? He was according to the old man their last hope.
"The Order will be meeting here in an hour, why don't you go and get a rest or something to eat?" suggested Minerva, and digest everything he'd just learned. She was going to have to repeat herself to the entire order anyway, and it wasn't going to be easy.
Shacklebolt just blinked and got up, in a daze barely able to believe it.
"What are you guys doing here?" asked Hermione seeing the twins, walking towards them, the coin she had created for the Order told her they were meeting at two o'clock it was only one so why were they here?
"Business," said Fred, lying through his teeth and having no problem doing it. Hermione Granger was the biggest teacher's pet they'd ever seen.
"Are you going to the meeting?" she asked her voice quiet.
"Yes," replied George. "You okay?"
"No, not really." she sighed sadly, "I can't stop thinking about the other meeting, what Dumbledore done." she had believed him so completely. Defending him against anyone who dared to call him names, mostly against the Slytherins, but she just didn't have it in her to do so anymore. Her world had been turned upside down; Hermione wasn't sure whether she wanted to remain in the Order anymore. Oh she was so conflicted, she wished she had someone to talk to, but Ginny was too young and Ron was a…well not someone she could talk to - he was too immature.
"I know," said George, not as surprised as her, they may be Weasley's but they didn't think anyone was above doing whatever it took, including Dumbledore. They had longer to get over what he done, having met Harry and learned a great deal of the truth.
"Do you know what happened earlier?" asked Ron joining in.
"What happened?" asked Fred worried.
"Dozens of Auror's came into the Great hall," said Ron in a rush, "We got off classes! And Dumbledore hasn't been seen in weeks…" that unfortunately wasn't usual since Dumbledore liked to go off on some quest or something. He'd been doing it all last year.
"Huh," said George curiously.
"At the meeting…"
"With a bit of luck."
"Now, we have to go…"
"So goodbye." finished George, walking away with his twin right beside him.
"Man!" groaned Ron shaking his head, "I wish they would stop doing that."
"You say that every time you talk to them," said Hermione exasperated, "I need to go to the library."
Ron quickly tried to come up with a reason why he couldn't go with her, wracking his brain didn't help, he couldn't think of an excuse. Instead he was grabbed by the arm and led towards the library, staring longingly at the hall he reluctantly went with her - wondering what the twins were doing. They didn't have any products with them, which was very unlike them if they were actually really here on business. He was smarter than he liked to think (or anyone else thought) just too bad he didnt apply thought to every day situations or while working/studying.
"Did we just have a tolerable conversation with Granger of all people?" asked George surprised. Granger and Ginny were friends, best friends, but she couldn't tolerate Luna, so Ginny had to choose between them. So from one day to the next it would be either Hermione or Luna she'd hang out with. To make matters worse, Granger had begun hanging around with Ron as well, who actually fancied her ever since seeing her in a dress at the Yule ball. The tournament Cedric Diggory won glory to the Hufflepuff's for once.
"Yup, the world must be ending." chuckled Fred as they descended into the dungeons. Passing a few suspicious Slytherins as they went.
Passing through the classroom, not surprised by the lack of people knowing that classes had been cancelled now. At least they didn't have to annoy Snape again. The office was empty so there was only one other place to look - his quarters. It was one place they'd never gone as students, their teachers private quarters. Although it would have been a thrill to get into them, they were troublemakers after all. Fred knocked on the door waiting patiently for someone to answer it. They were admittedly curious why Harry wanted to see them; they hadn't half jumped out of their skin when his house elf appeared. It wasn't something they were used to; elf's popping into their bedroom when they were working.
"Hey mate," grinned George when Harry answered the door.
"Come on in," said Harry smiling genuinely at them, it wasn't a sight they'd seen before, he normally just smirked at them as though he had a secret they'd never find out. Or as if he found something extremely amusing about you, it did make Harry look years younger. He had to be really happy to show it, even after only seeing him a few times they knew he was a lot like their Potions Master. He didn't show emotion easily or at all actually.
When they entered the lit room, they noticed the myriad of love bites on Harry's neck and chest. Snape was one possessive Slytherin, and for the first time since they met Harry they didn't blush. Not even at the fact Harry wasn't properly dressed, just a vest and a pair of shorts that could actually be boxers. They were surprised Snape wasn't making Harry go get dressed! They wouldn't have been surprised he was extremely overprotective and selfish - he did want Harry to himself. No that wasn't true, if he did... then they wouldn't be here, he cared more about Harry than being selfish for himself.
"Did you get to use the pranks?" asked Fred eagerly, sitting down across from Harry, his twin doing the same.
"I did," said Harry smirking with sadistic pleasure, reminding them of Snape when he handed out detention and deducted hundreds of points from Gryffindor.
"Spill!" said George just as excited as Fred for news.
"I had to remove them," said Harry his smirk turning into a scowl.
"That sucks!" grunted Fred, "I hate when that happens." they'd had to do it numerous times when they were at school.
"It does," said Harry sighing. "Good thing is though nobody else could undo it, nor could they read the spells in a scan? Or something Sev said."
"A scan detects what spells have been cast on you, so a nurse or someone with medical training can find." explained Fred.
"I know," said Harry nodding.
"But at least you got to use them, was it fun?" said Fred smugly.
"I didn't get to see it," said Harry, "But it was better than him getting away with it."
"Where's Sna…Severus?" enquired George, remembering to call him by his given name. Harry didn't like it when they called him Snape for some reason. They weren't doing it out of disrespect, they were just used to calling him Snape, he'd been their teacher, and you just didn't call your teacher by his given name.
"Brewing more nutrient potions," Harry told them his face screwed up in obvious disgust.
He'd tasted them before then. Given how thin and short he was compared to them, it was no surprise really. He was shorter and thinner than Ginny, although admittedly not by much. "All potions taste disgusting, but they work so can't complain. Although we like the prank potions more." agreed Fred.
"Course you do, speaking of pranks I have something for you," said Harry.
The twins just stared at him curiously wondering what he meant. Had he invented a prank? Or come up with one? It wouldn't surprise them the least. Harry produced a long wad of parchment and handed it to them. Opening it up their eyebrows rose in unison unable to believe it. Their eyes immediately sought out the amount he was offering them to get the business started. Bloody hell, they could buy the shop they'd been eyeing for years, the flat above it and get their products. There would still be a lot left; they stared at Harry in awe. He believed in them this much? Nobody else did, not Gringotts, not their parents, not a single person believed they had what it took. Yet a boy who'd only seen them twice was offering them all this money? They'd often dreamed of something like this happen, but didn't believe it actually would.
"Is this for real?" asked Fred totally astounded.
"I get thirty percent of your income if it works out." said Harry seriously, "And it will."
"How can you believe that?" asked George baffled. "Even our own mother keeps trying to get us to get 'proper jobs' as she calls it." She went on about Bill, Charlie and of course Percy all the time, and how they had jobs that got them reliable incomes. Constantly telling them to get their heads out the clouds, that it would never happen and the quicker they realized that the better. Here was a boy who didn't know the magical world giving them something.
"Snape agreed to this?" added Fred, Snape of all people believed they could do it as well? There was no way he'd risk Harry's money otherwise, surely? Thirty percent was a lot of money, but Harry was taking a much bigger risk in giving them money for this venture of theirs.
"It's Severus," growled Harry, he didn't like people saying Snape like that, as if he wasn't worthy of a first name.
"You know we don't mean it disrespectfully Harry, he was our teacher, and we are used to calling him Professor Snape. It just got shortened when he was no longer our professor." said Fred.
"You better get used to it; everyone calls him that, well most people, especially the Order." George told Harry, adding to the conversation.
Harry grimaced sounded like a bunch of arseholes; didn't they care what his Dom had done for them? He had to speak to him, find out if it was the proper way, or if he was just overreacting. Although if anyone disrespected his Dom they'd have him to answer to, he wasn't going to put up with it. He knew Sev wanted to take care of him, but it didnt stop Harry from wanting to look out for his Dom from time to time. In a way he did take care of Sev, just in a different way to how he was looked after.
Fred and George stared at each other, almost as if they were having a silent conversation together. In the end George nodded then his twin did the same. Having come to a conclusion they stared back at Harry seeing him in deep contemplation as well. Whatever it was, he didn't like it, if the curling of his lips was anything to go on.
"Are you sure you want to risk it?" asked Fred seriously, changing the subject.
"It's not much of a risk you know, it's been untouched for sixteen years," said Harry shrugging his shoulders. As his Dom had said, he would be taking care of him. His new clothes were proof of that, they'd come earlier making his mood a little better after having to remove the spells from Dumbledore.
"Alright then," said Fred eagerly, "Do you have a quill?"
"They're over there." said Harry gesturing towards the desk where he did his work.
"Thanks," said Fred jumping up he grabbed a quill and an ink pot, making sure it was black, all official documents had to be done in black - it was just the way things were done here. Dipping it in Fred signed his name first, his hand trembling with excitement, appreciation and anticipation. He was seconds away from his dreams coming true, and he was…well he just wanted to jump around like a mad man. Handing it over to George, he saw his brother was in pretty much the same state as him.
"Here," said George his heart racing, half of him feared this was a wonderful dream…or a horrid prank. Harry huffed at the quill but began writing his name down, a bit messy but readable. The scroll wound up and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"Sev says all you need to do is go to Gringotts, they'll give you the key," said Harry.
"Thank you," said Fred and in a move only Gryffindor's could make, both pounced on Harry to hug him. Unfortunately they didn't count on Harry's reaction; they only touched him once before Harry's magic sent them flying into the bookcase at the other side of the room. Later they would be thankful it hadn't been the fireplace, otherwise they would have gotten severely burnt. Right now though they were just groaning in agony completely winded and confused as they tried to sit up.
Unsurprisingly the noise drew Severus out from his laboratory.
"What happened?" asked Severus assessing his surroundings, arching an eyebrow in surprise at the scene before him.
Harry stared down at the floor feeling contrite; a very small part of him wondered if they'd still want to be friends with him after that display. Unfortunately he couldn't help his reactions, they had been coming at him, and it was an automatic reflex. The street hardened part of him was impressed with what his magic could now do. It wasn't accidental otherwise he wouldn't have been able to do it. emotional or otherwise, he could control his magic now.
"Harry?" questioned Severus, his fingers probing Harry's head to meet his.
"It's not his fault," said Fred groaning as he successfully managed to sit up.
"They came at me," said Harry shrugging helplessly.
"We surprised him," said George before Severus could turn on them.
"We wanted to thank him for…you know…helping us start our shop." added Fred hastily, "It was just a hug, we didn't expect him to react like that. We should have, sorry about that Harry." inhaling sharply as his ribs protested to the movement of standing up.
"Yeah, we are sorry," said George as Fred helped him up. "Crap are we late for that Order meeting?"
"No, ten minutes until its time." said Severus immediately.
"It's going to be fun," said Harry smirking ferally, the episode with the twins evidently over.
"You're coming?" asked Fred perking up. Oh this was really going to be fun! And they were getting front row seats to it. He couldn't help but rub his hands in gleeful anticipation, wincing again Merlin he hurt. He made a mental note to NEVER ever sneak up or surprise Harry ever again.
Severus rolled his eyes and summoned two pain relievers for the twins, and handed them over.
"Oh that's better," said George gratefully as the pain immediately disappeared once the potion had been drank.
"Ready to go?" asked Fred his eyes twinkling madly as they always did when he was happy.
"Ready," agreed George.
Harry laughed in amusement while Severus just shook his head and smirked. He was getting too comfortable around the twins, he didn't know if that was a good thing or not.
I've been looking forward to getting to this point in the story for a while :D lol so who will be the focus of Harry's ire? who will say the wrong thing and bring the full extent of Harry's magic and wrath down upon them? anyone you dont like? *blinks innocently* anyone you'd like to see get their arse kicked by a novice like Harry? moody? or someone close to Dumbledore? will they blame him or welcome him? what did you think of fred and george getting blasted hehe :D I hope i've kept Harry in character for this story with a bit of luck i have will harry have a bigger part in the prank shop or will he stay away knowing Severus didnt like pranks? or will sev know harry wants to and put his own uncomfortable history aside? R&R PLEASE!