Chapter Twenty-Five: Morinozuka's Invade Potter Hall
Like a snake slithering in the grass, Harry was poised ready to strike.
The fear was gone. He no longer felt Dumbledore would win, no longer feared he would be controlled and manipulated and thrust back into a cupboard under the stairs. Sensei was right. Dumbledore was an above average wizard who hoodwinked the magical community into believing him more powerful than he was.
The depression was gone. So were the feelings of loneliness. Why should he feel depressed? What other person had been as privileged as he had been? What other orphan had the opportunity to speak to their deceased parents, to know they loved him, were proud of him, and felt he was on the right track? He no longer had to assume they would be proud of him, he now knew beyond the shadow of doubt they were. He knew they were there beside him, strengthening him. He knew because they told him so, so why should he feel alone? He had his parents in his heart and he had the best staff and best friends in the world supporting him. There was no reason to feel alone.
Now, all Harry felt was anger. Albus Dumbledore had dared to manipulate him and ruin his life. The man had to gall to decide what was best for him and manipulated the courts, his family, the world, just so he could control one boy. His manipulations had endangered his life and nearly destroyed his psyche.
No longer would he sit back and let things happen. Albus Dumbledore thought he knew him. Thought he knew everything about his creation, the boy whose life he manipulated. It was time Dumbledore realized he knew nothing. It was time Albus Dumbledore realized he was not a boy rebelling against his so-called authority figure. He was not a wayward child who needed to be brought back under heel, but a powerful wizard in his own right. It was time he became what Dumbledore feared he'd become when he locked him away with the Dursleys, a powerful wizard, politically and magically. It was time Dumbledore learned the consequences of screwing with the Potter family.
Taking Ron's advice, Harry floo'd to the International Confederate of Wizards Headquarters in Bern, Switzerland to take his International Standard Ordinary Wizarding Levels. He stayed in the city for a week, and on the last day, received his scores. History and Astronomy-Acceptable; Herbology, Arthimacy, and Runes – Exceeds Expectations; Potions, Defense, Transfiguration, Charms, Muggle Studies, and Care of Magical Creatures – Outstanding. Now that he had taken his O.W.L.s Dumbledore and the Wizengamot couldn't force him back to Hogwarts unless they changed British law that only required standardized wizarding education to OWL level. From what he'd seen of the proposed bill, that hadn't been on the agenda. But just in case and to circumvent the bill, even if it didn't apply to him for now, he called a press conference with reporters across Europe to announce his O.W.L results. To further undermine Dumbledore and the Wizengamot he included others.
Daphne's older brother Brenner had left Hogwarts after his third year and hired tutors like he had. Then there was Harry's coup de grace, Tiberius Ogden's great nephew Rockford who never attended Hogwarts. Tiberius had attended non-magical preparatory school then Cambridge while being tutored privately in magic. Best of all, unlike Tiberius, Rockford was in the main line of the Ogden family and was Chief of Operations for the family's fire whiskey company, reporting only to his father and grandfather who ran the company.
Harry decided it would be best to go with a preemptive strike, as the general wizarding public wouldn't be aware of the proposed bill until the next Wizengamot session. Luckily, the press arrived at Potter Corporation for the conference just because they werepromised an interview with him. They ate up the story of how he managed to achieve such good O.W.L scores after only a year of private tutoring when it had been known he'd been a mediocre student at Hogwarts. They fired question after question and though it took some time, with the help of Brenner and Rockford, he steered the reporters in the direction he had wanted them to go.
"So you are saying that a Hogwarts education is inadequate?" a French reporter asked eagerly.
"Of course not," Brenner answered. "Hogwarts is a good start for a general magical education, but it is lacking for students who need specialized education. After my third year, I knew Hogwarts couldn't help me with my career goals."
"I wanted to become an Arithmancer. The standard Arithmancy course at Hogwarts is an overall course about what Arithmancy is and isn't as detailed as what I would need to begin my career. I also needed a strong foundation in Divination, which was not possible with the current professor at Hogwarts. After discussing the matter with my parents, I withdrew from Hogwarts and my parents hired International Standard tutors like Lord Potter has done. As a result, I took the International Standard O.W.L. and N.E.W.T.s and now work with the best Arithmancers in the world. Britain has very few true Arithmancy masters. If I had stuck to Hogwarts, I could've still achieved my goal, but it would've taken an additional five or six years."
"In my case," added Rockford. "I needed classes Hogwarts doesn't provide, nor do any of the major European magical schools. To run a global business like Ogden Firewhiskey, it was imperative I become proficient in non-magical subjects such as Business, Marketing, and Finance, which is why I declined attending Hogwarts, went to a non-magical preparatory school and like Lord Potter and Heir Brenner was privately tutored in my magical education. Hogwarts was not then and is not now equipped to provide for my needs."
"Exactly," Harry added wanting to kiss Rockford. "Now that I've completed my O. , I'll focus on my non-magical exams as well as N.E. , which would impossible to do at Hogwarts. Potter Corporation like Ogden's is an International Business and I need skill sets that go beyond normal wizarding subjects. To be honest it is not just my personal educational needs that aren't being met, but also the needs of my corporation. The lack of non-magical subjects often seen in the magical world has affected my ability as a CEO to recruit knowledgeable wizards to work for my company. Recently, Potter Corporation conducted a career fair at Hogwarts for sixth and seventh year students, but we were limited in what positions we could recruit for as most needed a foundation in non-magical subjects."
"Were you able to fill any of the positions?"
"A few, but they need additional training before they'll really be productive, additional training, which takes time and money. Outside of Europe, most schools provide basic non-magical education for its students and that is where a majority of my employees come from. In most cases, a non-magical who has knowledge of the wizarding world and who has a comprehensive non-magical education is a more viable employee than a fully qualified magical one. Hogwarts provides a good general magical education, especially with the recent changes, but depending on the career path a student chooses they'll need a little more education and experience, like we sought to achieve."
"Do you employ many squibs at Potter Corporation?" a Russian reporter asked curiously.
"Well, I prefer the term non-magical," Harry told the woman, "but yes. A majority of my middle and senior management positions are filled by non-magicals who were either born to magical families or who have become aware of the magical world as a result of having a magical in their family."
The reporter leaned forward eagerly. "Do you find it hard to recruit non-magicals?"
"It is a matter of getting the word out when we have openings. The biggest problem my recruitment staff faces is finding wizards who have knowledge of non-magical subjects. Unfortunately, both are needed for some management positions. We have several positions that we haven't been able to fill because of that lack."
"Do you believe Hogwarts and other European schools should offer non-magical classes to its students?" another reporter shouted out.
"I think it will only be beneficial, especially for students who would like to combine their non-magical education with a magical one and take non-magical exams like I will be. Personally, I think such courses will only improve the quality of wizarding life. To put it in layman's terms, if you compare the Daily Prophet with non-magical newspapers the differences are astounding. Non-magical news sources have to adhere to a strong code of ethics and require its reporters to have taken courses in ethics as well as courses in writing, and journalism. If magical Britain held the same standard then the situation that recently occurred with Rita Skeeter would've never happened, at the very least, it would never had escalated as far as it had. In non-magical papers, printing a story without verifying sources, like Ms. Skeeter preferred to do, would only have been able to be printed in sections especially listed as gossip."
Brenner and Rockford snorted. Harry flushed, he supposed he'd taken it too far, but who cared. Harry's press agent quickly wrapped up the interview and ushered the reporters out of the media room, once the reporters left Harry smiled gratefully at Brenner and Rockford.
"Thank you for doing this."
Rockford, a short and stocky man with blond hair in a buzz cut laughed merrily as he shook Harry's hand. "Grandfather always complains about Great Uncle Tiberius being idiot who was good for nothing but wiping Albus Dumbledore's ass. He knew Aberforth Dumbledore in their school days and knew what really went on between the two brothers. The old sod is pleased as punch at what you've managed to do so far in knocking Dumbledore down a few pegs. He would've disinherited me if I hadn't helped."
When the article was published, it caused a lot of talk. Harry heard through Sirius that the old guard inside the Wizengamot had been outraged. They were now fighting amongst themselves on whether they were going to present the bill or not. Most were afraid that doing so would make them look like fools, but several hard-core Dumbledore supporters wanted to go ahead. In addition to the work Harry had done to undermine the bill, Sirius helped by working with a coalition of neutral and dark-not all dark wizards supported Voldemort- fractions, which outnumbered Dumbledore's supporters. They were poised to stop the bill if it was proposed.
They had built a strong case and just had to wait to see what would happen at the session. Since it was Ron's musings about if he would be ready to pass his O. a month early than he had expected that got the ball rolling, Harry would be forever grateful to his mate and his strategic mind. In gratitude, Harry had covertly arranged with the Hogwarts House Elves for whatever food Ron touched for the next two weeks to turn into different non-magical culinary delights like fizzy drinks, pizza, tacos, Chinese food, hamburgers, fish and chips, and the like. Needless to say, he had a blubbering, grateful best mate on his hands.
The issue with Dumbledore was on the backburner for now, Harry could focus on issues that were more important. Mainly that Takashi would be in town, the timing was perfect, because Harry would be there to celebrate Takashi's sixteenth birthday. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be just he and Takashi, but his whole family, which was nerve-wracking. He would host Takashi's family at Potter Hall for the week and a half they were in town for the World Kendo Championships in Glasgow. Sensei, Takashi's parents, grandparents, aunt, and cousins along with their families all had tickets to the competition. As the National Champion in his age group, Takashi would participate in the individual and team championship competitions. Sensei, Takashi's father Akira, and grandfather Raiden were well known in the Kendo community and would referee matches. His Aunt Mayu was competing in the Womens' Division and was taking her next dan examination after the tournament.
So for the first time since the remodel, all ten bedrooms in the main house would be filled with members from Takashi's family as well as Mitsukuni.
Thanks to May, Harry had managed to keep his nerves to a manageable level, but he did assign house elves to be on standby to assist the family on whatever their needs may be while visiting. The family would arrive the Saturday before activities began the following Tuesday, but because of the time difference, the Morinozuka's arrived at the stroke of midnight on Saturday, the first of May. Harry had tried to stay up to welcome them, but apparently, he had driven Sensei crazy with his nerves and teenage angst and had been forced to bed with a calming draught. The draught wore off quickly and Harry stood inside his suite pacing as he heard Sensei showing the Morinozukas to their rooms.
Potter Hall's main house was comprised of a basement, ground floor, first, and second floor. Takashi was assigned to one of the first floor bedrooms, the same floor where Harry's master was located, but Takashi's bedroom was next to Sensei's and he couldn't get to Takashi's bedroom without walking down the hallway past Sensei's room. It also didn't help that Takashi's grandparents and parents were in the other bedrooms on the first floor, though in a different hallway. Harry had never been so happy that he lived in a mansion in his life, because the walls and carpeting were thick and insulated against sound.
He waited thirty minutes after everything had gone quiet before slipping out his bedroom and creeping to Takashi's. He slipped inside the room to find the bedside lamp on and a shirtless Takashi sitting up in bed reading.
"Figured you'd be reckless," Takashi said in greeting.
Harry rolled his eyes and jumped on the bed to hug his friend, burying his face in Takashi's neck when he felt Takashi's arms wrap around his waist and hold him tight. Hug complete he cuddled up to Takashi's side even though he was on top of the blankets and Takashi was beneath them.
Takashi laid down and unearthed one of his arms from beneath the blanket to hold Harry close.
"Ojisan will catch us and make our lives miserable," he warned.
"Don't care," Harry grumbled. "I missed you. Please Taka?"
In answer, Takashi reached for the draught on the bedside table that would help him sleep and regulate his body to help him adjust to the time difference. He drunk the potion and turned out the bedside light. Harry grinned happily as he settled to sleep at Takashi's side. He was in a deep sleep five minutes later, the most comfortable rest he'd had in months.
The next morning, Harry jerked away as Sensei hefted his body over his shoulder and he was carried out Takashi's bedroom. Hanging down Sensei's back, Harry gulped as he felt how tense Sensei was and the angry stomps he made back to the master suite. When Harry attempted to speak, or be released from Sensei's grasp, Sensei would growl. The growl, which resembled a bear about to attack shut Harry up. They didn't stop until Sensei deposited him in his dressing room and thrust workout clothes into his hands.
The expression on Sensei's face was curiously blank and he didn't speak. Harry knew Sensei would find out what he'd done and not be happy, but what Harry hadn't counted on was how bothered he'd be by Sensei's anger. Sure they were close, but why should he care so much that Sensei was disappointed and angry with him? Why did it hurt so much? Why did he want to cling to Sensei and beg his forgiveness? He was close to Sensei, closer to him than he was to anyone. Was this what it felt like when you disappointed a parent? He had meant what he had said to Takashi last night. Whatever punishment Sensei came up with would be worth it because he had been with Takashi. Why did he feel awful now? Why did he now regret what he had done? He had really missed Takashi and it wasn't as if they did anything, they didn't even sleep under the covers together.
Sensei's glare intensified as if he read Harry's thoughts. "If I can't trust you with the little stuff, how can I trust you with the big stuff?"
Harry flushed and wrapped his arms about himself. He had a point. "It was my fault, not Takashi's."
Sensei snorted. "Takashi knows better. If he isn't strong enough to say no to you, even when he knows what you two are doing is wrong then he's not mature enough to have you in his life." Harry opened his mouth to protest, but stopped at the look on Sensei's face. "Hurry and get dressed, we're meeting everyone in the inner courtyard for training."
Sensei turned on his heel and stalked out the dressing room. Harry bit his lip at the anger and disappointment he saw on Sensei's face. He didn't think it would be this bad. They hadn't even done anything! Blinking back tears, he quickly dressed, washed his face, brushed his teeth, and made his way to the inner courtyard attached to the annex of the main house. Harry got there as everyone gathered. The only ones missing were Takashi's Aunt Mayu's six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter. The nine-year old boy was there as well as was everyone else; to include grandparents and wives, which only highlighted how important martial arts were to the Morinozuka family.
After everyone warmed up, Takashi's grandmother and mother began a combat form of Tai-Chi, Takashi's father and aunt began to spar, Satoshi began instructing his young cousin, and Sensei turned to Harry with a wicked smirk on his face that didn't bode well.
"Mitsukuni, I've been teaching Harry Aikido. I want you to test him to see how he holds up to a real life attack."
"Okay, Ojisan," Mitsukuni said in his usual cheerful manner. He had sat on the sidelines not really participating, but jumped up excitedly and made his way to Harry.
"Ike-oji," Takashi began plaintively. He stepped forward to stand in front of Harry blocking him from Mitsukuni's view.
Sensei grabbed Takashi by the collar of his dogi and pulled him to the other side of the courtyard. "He'll live. You're with me. Oh. . .." Sensei turned to the cheerful teenager who looked more like a prepubescent young boy. "Don't kill him, he's the last Potter."
"Okay Ojisan," Mitsukuni said as he waved.
Satoshi giggled at Harry. "Oooo somebody really got on Ojisan's bad side."
Looking at the maniacally grinning Mitsukuni, Harry's stomach curdled. He couldn't help but think that the payback Takashi had warned him about had begun.
"Ready?" Mitsukuni called.
Harry took a deep breath. "Ready."
Two seconds later Harry was on his back gasping for breath blinking up at the slowly dawning sky as his body was slammed on the pavement hard. He jumped to his feet and unsheathed the daggers Sensei had gifted him with. He ran to Mitsukuni ready to attack. With a few lightening quick movements, Mitsukuni had disarmed him and he was flying through the air, his arm throbbing in pain. Before he hit the ground and lost consciousness, Harry's last thought was it was going to be a very long morning.
"Hurts doesn't it?" Sensei asked sometime later.
Harry would've answer if he could speak, or move. He had been revived several times to finish his 'morning workout' with Mitsukuni. He now laid on the ground, his breath knocked out of him, bruises covering him, every muscle in his body aching. Harry would swear his arm was broken and he had a concussion. Bad enough that because of him, Takashi had to suffer the same fate. Takashi laid next to him just as bruised, just as battered, just as exhausted. Standing above them with arms crossed over their chests where Sensei and Takashi's father Akira. What a way to make a good first impression.
If only he could turn back time.
"Yes," Harry finally managed.
"So what did we learn?" Sensei asked.
"To not piss you off," Harry answered before he thought. Takashi elbowed him in the gut while his father cracked a smile. Sensei saw his older brother's grin and glared at him, which only turned Akira's smile into laughter.
"You are not helping," Sensei growled at his older brother.
"Never thought I'd see the day when you'd become the disciplinarian Otouto (little brother)," Akira answered amused. "It's like watching Satoshi trying to be serious. Since you're such a man now, maybe I'll tell Chichi (father) it's time for him to arrange your marriage."
"Do that and I'll murder you in your sleep Oniichan (big brother-cutesy)," Sensei replied sweetly.
"Promises, promises." Akira Morinozuka chided grinning.
Harry and Takashi slowly backed away from the bickering brothers, but since they were still lying on the ground and didn't have the energy to stand, they didn't get far. Sensei saw them escaping and pinned them with a deadly glare.
"Harry," he warned.
Akira laughed. "Now, this is just sad. Watch and learn little one." Akira Morinozuka stepped up to Harry and held out his hand helping him to his feet being careful of his broken arm. "We'll see you later, you help Takashi."
"Chichi?" Fear colored Takashi's eyes.
Akira Morinozuka waved his son off and he and Takashi's father began walking away from them. Harry had never been more terrified in his life. This man could destroy his and Takashi's relationship with one word.
"So, Lord Potter, you have a crush on my son." Morinozuka-san began conversationally.
Harry flushed. "Yes sir."
"And despite being told that you are too young to enter into a relationship with anyone, I understand that you, at thirteen, believe that you know best and can go around doing what you want, correct?"
Sweat poured down Harry's face. "Err . . ."
"And despite your supposed care for my son, you in your selfishness are forcing him to go against everything I and the rest of his family have taught him about respect, honor, and integrity by using the feelings he has for you against him. Is that correct?" he continued in the same conversational tone.
Harry prayed to every deity, every god, every ounce of magic inside his body, for the ground to crack open, take hold of him, and send him to hell. Anything to get away from this conversation. Nothing happened. "Err. . ."
"So, tell me Lord Potter, why should I allow your relationship with my son to continue? It is obvious to me that my son deserves more respect than what you have shown him so far, correct?"
"Yes sir," Harry whispered. He knew tears were welling up in his eyes, but he couldn't stop them. Morinozuka-san was right. He had been selfish.
Akira Morinozuka nodded at the acknowledgement. "I understand given your life, you do not know much about family, Lord Potter. But if you're intent in continuing your friendship with my son, it is imperative you learn. Your first lesson is to respect the edicts we have laid down for Takashi, especially when he is doing his best to respect and honor the decisions his family has made for his safety and happiness. Tempting him to go against his family shows a tremendous lack of respect for a person you supposedly care about, don't you think?"
"Yes sir," Harry whispered. He now knew why Sensei had been so mad and he felt awful.
"What happened last night will not happen again, right Lord Potter?" Akira said his voice just as pleasant as it had been during the beginning of their conversation.
"I'm glad, because if it does, I will make sure you never see my son again and that includes any and all communication magical or otherwise including that little diary Takashi seems so fond of. Do you understand?"
Harry swallowed. "Yes sir."
"Good." They reached Morinozuka-san's bedroom and the older man turned and bowed at him. "I'm glad we had this conversation. Thank you for inviting my family into your home, it has been illuminating."
Takashi's father turned and entered his bedroom. Harry wasn't sure how, but he made it into his own suite only to collapse on the floor the moment the door closed behind him, shaking. His knees drew up to his chest, his good arm wrapped about himself as he rocked back and forth, tears pouring down his face. Morinozuka-san was right. Takashi had explained why he felt the way he did, why they couldn't go as far as Harry would've liked and Harry had been selfish and hadn't respected his feelings and he made him go against himself. Why? Because it was what he wanted. And he had continued to do what he had wanted, even though Takashi warned him they would pay for their actions. He hadn't cared, because he was sure he was right and what he wanted would triumph over whatever others thought best. He was a bad person. He was a selfish, evil, manipulative person just like Dumbledore, so sure his way was the best way, not caring about anyone else, just his 'greater good'.
Harry lifted his head to see Takashi kneeling in front of him, his face twisted in concern. Harry launched himself into Takashi's arms and buried his face into Takashi's neck as he held his friend tight as he sobbed.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"What?" Takashi asked confused as his hands rubbed soothing circles up and down Harry's back.
"I do respect you. Your opinion means more to me than anyone. I'm sorry."
Takashi sighed. "Chichi got to you, didn't he? It was both of us, Harry."
Harry shook his head. "No, you just gave in. It was me. Your father was right, I used your feelings for me against you. I'm an awful person."
"May?" Takashi called quietly. A few seconds later, a pop of apparition could be heard in the room. "Could you run a hot bath for Harry please? I think he broke his arm. He'll also need a calming draught, pain potions, and bruising salve." Harry heard several other pops and seconds later, Takashi was thrusting potions down his throat while May healed his arm with her magic. Once he was relatively healed, Takashi carried him into the bathroom.
Takashi sat on the edge of the tub, Harry still crying, still wrapped up in his arms. Takashi pulled Harry's head away from his neck and stared deep into his eyes. "I knew what I was doing Harry. I knew we would get into trouble." Takashi flushed. "I didn't care. I wanted you in my arms just as much you wanted to be in mine. I hate living so far away from you."
"Really?" Harry asked hopefully.
Takashi leaned forward and whispered in Harry's ear causing Harry to shudder.
"You mean everything to me Harry."
"Your father hates me," Harry whispered devastated.
Takashi snorted. "Chichi manipulated you. Granted he'll kill us if we break the rules again, but you amuse him. If he was really mad he wouldn't have joked with Ojisan. Plus he was impressed with how you handled Mitsukuni."
"Takashi, Mitsukuni destroyed me," Harry said as if he were talking to an idiot.
Takashi waved a hand as if he getting beat up and humiliated was nothing. "Mitsukuni destroys everyone. Chichi was impressed with how you handled your defeat. You knew you couldn't beat him, yet you handled yourself with grace and courage. You impressed everyone."
"You're biased," Harry muttered.
Takashi smirked. "No doubt."
"We won't be able to have any late night meetings here," Harry said sadly.
Takashi laughed and hugged him. "Ah. I won't be able to get you alone again until your seventeen."
Harry sighed. "I deserve it."
"We disappointed them. They'll forgive us. I know my family. That was only a warning. If we do it again . . ."
"Your father will forbid us from seeing each other," Harry said morosely.
Takashi shrugged. "Probably. We have to earn their trust back. It'll amuse them to try to break us, so we have to be strong. But first, you need to take a bath and come downstairs for breakfast. Welcome to the family."
"Families are confusing."
Takashi smiled, kissed his forehead, and left the suite.
Breakfast was not the most comfortable meal he'd ever ate in his life. Akira Morinozuka glared at him whenever Takashi's back was turned much to the rest of the family's amusement. Takashi was right. The adults took great pleasure in sending cleverly concealed jabs he and Takashi's way. Harry's only consolation was that the jabs weren't mean-spirited and the only one who really appeared angry was Takashi's father. Harry was happy when breakfast was over and everyone split up for the day.
Harry was taking the kids to the London Dungeon. Though it was basically a haunted attraction, there was a lot of history behind it that he thought with Takashi being a history buff, he'd enjoy it while the rest of the group wouldn't be bored. The moment they piled into the limousine and pulled away from Potter Hall, Mitsukuni pinned Takashi with an amused stare.
"So what did you two do last night?" Mitsukuni sing-songed.
Takashi flushed and refused to meet his cousin's stare, which only made Mitsukuni giggle and the other boys laugh. "That bad, huh."
*I apologize for no updates recently. Unemployment=No job=No Money=No Internet Connection. I hope to have internet in another week or two.
*So I apologize for not responding to PMs and reviews.