Disclaimer: If you strike Harry Potter down, JK Rowling shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
A/N: This is the official end of first year for The Accidental Animagus, but definitely not the end of the story. Harry's and Hermione's summer continues next week, same time, same place. Thanks for all the support. When I started this story, I never expected to attract this much attention-certainly not this fast.
A/N 2: I updated this story with some changes to the Quidditch match to fix some inconsistencies about points. Both Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets imply that Harry gets fifty house points for catching the Snitch. In order to have the contribution of athletics to the House Cup not be too large (after all, in Philosopher's Stone, all four houses end with 300-500 points), it makes the most sense that the house points awarded per match equal the spread divided by three (rounded to the nearest point).
Dear Father and Mother,
I'm sure you have been informed by now of Professor Quirrell's death. I don't know how much Dumbledore told the board, but according the rumours here, Quirrell kidnapped Potter's sister and took her into some hidden chamber under the school. Then, Potter followed them, and there was some kind of confrontation that left Quirrell dead and Potter in the Hospital Wing for two days. They're keeping very tight-lipped about how it happened, and they're trying to make it sound like Quirrell got mauled by the three-headed dog, but I'm not convinced of that story. I don't think either Potter or Granger has it in them to kill, but something doesn't smell right.
However, the most important thing is that Potter and Granger seem to have had a major falling-out with Dumbledore after the incident, but they're not talking about that, either; Potter will only say that it's a private matter. Most people think it's sour grapes just because Dumbledore let him get hurt, but I'm not convinced of that, either. I've heard rumours that Dumbledore tried to trick Potter into that fight somehow or maybe even put him in that situation in the first place. Whatever it was, it was bad enough that I've personally seen Potter glaring at Dumbledore during dinner. I think Dumbledore's looked a little less "energetic" this week, too.
Potter's attitude toward the other teachers doesn't seem to have changed, even for McGonagall. And it's hard to tell, but I don't think McGonagall looks happy with Dumbledore right now, either. I think you may be right that Dumbledore has lost influence among his own followers. If I may, I would suggest that putting increased pressure on Dumbledore to disillusion his supporters would be the best course of action for the next month.
Your loving son,
Our beloved son,
This is excellent news, and most welcome. The Muggle Protection Act hangs by a thread, and its keystone is now under fire. The whispers have, indeed, reached beyond the walls of Hogwarts, and with this information, your father can feel confident in acting upon them. The unfortunate downside of this will be that it will weaken the old meddler's defence of Professor Snape. However, we are investigating a compromise with the Board of Governors that should see him returning next year with minimal difficulty. We consider this a small price to pay for our larger goal. Next month, we will prevail.
However, we must give you a stern warning. Your father has heard the most alarming rumours regarding the circumstances of Quirrell's death. The less you know about them, the better, at least until the end of term. Tread very carefully around the subject of Quirrell's death, both within and without Slytherin house, but if you do learn anything concrete, inform us at once.
Continue to watch Potter and Dumbledore for any changes.
Father and Mother
"Okay, men—and women—this is it. Silencio!" Oliver Wood silenced Fred and George before they could step on his speech.
Harry's exams had gone well, he thought, despite his revising being disrupted. Indeed, Hermione had been a good deal more stressed about them than he was, as usual.
"The big one. The one we've all been waiting for. This is for all the Gobstones."
It was an open secret by now that Dumbledore had done something to make Harry pretty mad, though only Hermione, Ron, and Neville knew the true extent of it. There wasn't much he could do about that, though. He'd have to just take whatever happened as it came. On the bright side, Malfoy hadn't given him any trouble about it. A few people were convinced that Harry was a dark wizard and had killed Quirrell for daring to touch his sister, but given how badly he was hurt himself, most people chose to believe that Quirrell was eaten by Fluffy, and whatever else had happened down there was either Quirrell's fault or Dumbledore's (or both).
"Win the game by fifty points, and we win the Quidditch Cup," Wood continued. "Win by a hundred and thirty, and we win the House Cup. Potter, I'm counting on you. Don't go for the Snitch if we're down by more than twenty, got it?"
"Yeah, I got it," Harry said. He rolled his eyes behind Wood's back. Wood had been telling him that incessantly for days. Gryffindor was down by forty points against Slytherin the House Cup standings. The winning team in each Quidditch match received one third of the spread in house points, so while the Quidditch Cup would be a fairly easy win, they needed a sizable win to take the House Cup as well.
"This is the best team Gryffindor's had in years, and I know we've got this in the bag. It's time. Good luck, all of you."
The two teams lined up on the pitch, and Harry smiled and waved, to the roar of the crowd. This time, at least, he didn't have to worry about getting hexed off his broom. It was time for a real Quidditch match. At the sound of the whistle, he kicked into the air, and at once, he felt more free than he had in months.
Winning by a hundred and thirty points wasn't particularly difficult, but it did mean that the Chaser Squad had to be on their game. Angelina, Alicia, and Katie were good, but Ravenclaw's Chaser squad was the best in the school. Harry weaved back and forth across the pitch as the points racked up, one team taking the lead, and then the other. Despite being annoyed with Wood, he knew full well how delicate this was. He not only had to catch the Snitch before the Ravenclaw Seeker, he would have to keep both himself and the Ravenclaw Seeker away from it if even Gryffindor was down by more than twenty points.
At one point, Gryffindor was, indeed, down by thirty, then forty, then fifty. It looked like the Chasers had slipped up. Slytherin was in line to win the House Cup for seventh straight year, and now, Harry had to start worrying about that one hundred point deficit that would lose them the Quidditch Cup, too. But just as he started to lose hope, Angelina took the lead ploughed through Ravenclaw's defence with the determination Wood had drilled into all of them, and she score three goals in quick succession. The crowd roared in triumph, including Hufflepuff and even a few of the Ravenclaws, they were so eager to see Slytherin dethroned.
Now, with the score standing at one hundred thirty to one hundred ten, Harry saw it: a flutter of gold barely visible against the yellow Hufflepuff section of the stands. With the points now in line, he gave chase at once, and the Ravenclaw Seeker was hot on his tail. But Harry had a better broom and was a good enough flier to use it, and when his hand closed around the Snitch, it wasn't even close. The stands erupted into deafening cheers from Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and the Gryffindor section took up the refrain of "Harry Potter is our king!" once more as the team zoomed towards the staff box.
The most dangerous part of that match for Harry turned out to be when Oliver Wood, sobbing with joy, hugged him in midair and nearly made both of them topple off their brooms. When they reached the staff box, Wood took the Quidditch Cup from Dumbledore, tears still streaming down his face and had him and Harry hold it up together, to another roar from the crowd. After so many years of Slytherin wins, even the Ravenclaws were taking it pretty well, and Professor McGonagall was actually crying harder than Wood. Harry was so happy that he couldn't give Dumbledore anything less than a broad smile as the old man patted his shoulder and said, "Good flying, Harry." He only caught a glimpse of Snape, sitting in the back corner of the box, looking most displeased, but even he gave Harry a small, grudging nod, as if acknowledging that he had at least won fair and square.
The rest of the term passed in a happy blur. The House Cup was awarded to Gryffindor, and the exam results came out, with Hermione being first in the class, like everyone expected, and Harry third, behind Anthony Goldstein. Ron and Neville only got by with average, but they were both happy with what they got. Soon, the trunks were packed, Neville found his toad again, and they sailed back across the Lake to Hogsmeade Station, feeling the wards of castle wash across them one more time.
"D'you think you three can visit our house sometime this summer?" Ron said to Harry, Hermione, and Neville as they rode the train back.
"Probably," Neville said. "Gran says you can stop by sometime, too."
"We'll try," Hermione told them. "We're gonna be pretty busy, though. We're going to France in August, and we still have the Wizengamot meeting next weekend to worry about."
"Oh, right," Ron said. "We'll all be there, too, for Dad. You think they'll finally pass it this time?"
"I hope so," Harry said. "I'm gonna do whatever I can to make it happen."
When they reached London, Hermione and Harry said goodbye to Ron's family (Ginny squeaked, turned bright red, and hid behind her mother's robes when she saw Harry) and briefly met with Neville's grandmother before their parents took them home for what was sure to be an eventful summer.
The first order of business was, indeed, the Wizengamot meeting. The one dark cloud over the end of the term had been the continuing articles speaking out against the Muggle Protection Act and its champion, Albus Dumbledore. The fallout from the revelation of Harry's abuse was continuing, and the Daily Prophet (though it still printed letters in support) was trying to paint Dumbledore as a senile old man who saw muggles through rose-coloured glasses and wasn't able to keep them appropriately in line as guardians for the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry's more recent "grudge" against Dumbledore was tied into that, even though he had said it had nothing to do with it.
The Grangers and Tonkses worked together on a speech for Harry to give on the anticipated second day of the meeting, even as Andromeda and Sirius frantically tried to round up votes. They were behind now, and a lot of their sure votes weren't so sure anymore. It was definitely going to be a close one.
Before they knew it, the big day came. The Grangers arrived in the Wizengamot Chamber wearing their best clothes and sat in the visitors' area near the liberal members. The Chamber was nearly as crowded as it had been for Sirius's trial, and Harry spotted many more school-aged children in the audience with their parents, including several muggle-born students. To his surprise, he also saw Professor Snape.
Dumbledore called the meeting to order and got the usual housekeeping business out of the way first before bringing up the Muggle Protection Act. This took several hours, and was thoroughly uninteresting, but Andromeda assured them that even here, the horse-trading was still going on.
However, there was one event that threw the Chamber for a loop. It happened when Amelia Bones rose and said, "Ladies and Gentleman, I would again like to raise the issue that has been playing out in the press for the past few weeks: the quality of Potions instruction at Hogwarts." Many eyes turned to Professor Snape, who glowered but resolutely refused to move a muscle. "I'm well aware that Hogwarts is and always has remained independent from the Ministry, Chief Warlock, but it seems clear that the public opinion is that something needs to be done, and I apologise if I'm out of order, but I, for one, would like to know what is being done to improve the situation." A large swath of the audience broke into applause at that.
Dumbledore faced Bones and said as calmly as he could, "The situation is being investigated, Madam Bones. I am confident that we can reach a satisfactory resolution before the fall term."
"Actually, Chief Warlock, I have an announcement to make on that point." Dumbledore slowly turned and recognised Lucius Malfoy. "The Hogwarts Board of Governors has met with Professor Snape, the Potions Master of Hogwarts, and other interested parties, and in response to these discussions, the Board has now approved a new policy for this fall, based on best practises studies: henceforth, all classes at Hogwarts will accept students who receive and Exceeds Expectations on their O.W.L. exam to N.E.W.T. level."
A large block of people in Malfoy's corner of the room applauded mechanically, while some applause and some demands for more action were spouted from other parts of the room. One girl who had obvious just sat her O.W.L.s was jumping up and down screaming, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Harry and Hermione, and even more so Remus and Sirius, were gobsmacked. They couldn't have imagined Snape loosening his grip on the Potions classes like that. Indeed, while Snape stood and nodded his apparent approval of the measure, clearly trying to make it look like he was the reasonable one in this situation, his expression looked like he accepted the deal only grudgingly.
Dumbledore looked disappointed. It was obvious that Malfoy had timed this move just so to score points today, but he couldn't very well say anything about it. After all, he still needed to keep Snape around. He had no recourse but to move on to the Muggle Protection Act, and this time, the debate was not going well. Many of the conservatives cast aspersions on Dumbledore, on the bill's supporters, on Harry's mental stability, and so on. Some of them became quite vehement about the supposed moral failings of muggles—that they were violent, stupid, licentious, and jealous of magic, for starters. But it was Charles Nott, as he spoke near the end of the day, who most grated on Harry's nerves.
"The wizarding world is under a continually growing threat from the sheer weight of numbers of the muggles," the angry wizard bellowed. "Their uncontrolled population growth forces witches wizards further and further into the dark corners of the world and threatens to destabilise all of civilisation. They cannot control themselves and cannot even treat their own children properly. Their filthy industrial complex dirties the air and water for muggles and magicals alike. They scratch out a living by burning titanic amounts of coal to fuel their feeble powers of eckeltricity without the simplest of Smoke-Clearing Charms. When I say the muggles are a plague on the face of the Earth, witches and wizards, it is not an insult. It is the truth that the muggles' own scholars have been repeating for years, to no avail.
"Are we so worried about the occasional hexing of muggles by wizards when they are already so adept at maiming and killing each other with reckless abandon? When we have lived for forty years under the threat of a muggle nuclear war that would utterly destroy the wizarding world as well as their own? Are we so worried about protecting them from us when it is half by sheer dumb luck that we can protect ourselves from them? I ask you, where are our priorities in this day and age?
"Witches and wizards, I, along with Lord Malfoy, Lord Jugson, and others, have long called for a firmer separation from the muggle world—to separate ourselves to make it easier to deflect attacks, witting or not, from muggle quarters. Instead, the mad desire of many in our nation seems to be integration! A few words of support, and these creatures are freely permitted to enter the hallowed halls of the Wizengamot itself. Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot, I call on all of you to put aside this madness and focus your energy where it truly belongs: on protecting our own world and making it strong enough to withstand the barbarians that are even now slipping past the gates. I yield the floor."
It was a brilliant bit of spin, focusing on the real dangers of the muggle world and surprisingly well-versed in muggle environmentalism and geopolitics. Slytherins weren't stupid, after all. But Charles Nott had made one mistake—possibly no more than a slip of the tongue—and Harry Potter just couldn't take it anymore. He sprang to his feet and called out, "Chief Warlock, I would like to speak."
"Of course, Lord Potter," Dumbledore said.
Andromeda and Sirius both looked very nervous as they met Harry's eyes. He was supposed to give his speech tomorrow, right before the vote, when it would have the greatest impact. But then again, after Nott's tirade, maybe now was the best time.
"I don't appreciate my parents being referred to as something less than human!" Harry spat. "And yes, they are my parents. They love me as if I were their own flesh and blood, and have from practically the day we met. And I love them, too! You think muggles don't know how to treat their kids? Just look! My parents have given me everything—a home, a sister, a chance at a normal life that I never thought I could have—"
Harry stopped and collected himself from that rant, then launched into his speech proper: "Over the past month, you have heard stories about my horrible treatment at the hands of muggles. I would like to say right now that those stories…are true." There were scattered gasps from around the room. Harry drew on his feline indifference to stay calm as he repeated his story: "My muggle aunt and uncle kept me in a cupboard. It was my bedroom from the age of fifteen months to the age of five years. For four years, I was chronically underfed, made to wear my fat muggle cousin's cast-offs, called 'boy' or 'freak' more often than my own name, sometimes locked in my cupboard for extended periods, punished for things I didn't do, or for no reason at all, overworked with chores when I was old enough, routinely pounded on by my cousin, with my aunt and uncle's encouragement, and twice was much more severely beaten by my uncle himself. Muggles did all of this."
Most of the crowd looked appalled. Many, especially the mothers and young girls, were in tears. He saw Ginny Weasley crying into her mother's robes as he turned to survey the hall. Several of the conservatives looked ready to spring up and respond with more anti-muggle ranting, but Harry wasn't done yet.
"What those stories haven't told you," he continued, "is everything else that muggles have done for me. Six years ago, two muggles, who are here with me today, took one look at me and immediately brought me into their home, wrapped me in a blanket, and gave me my first proper meal in weeks. They had never heard of magic, much less the name 'Harry Potter'. They didn't see a wizard that day, and these past six years are proof that it wouldn't have mattered if they had. All they saw was a scared, hungry, dirty, lonely, abused, and, frankly, terrified little boy, and they did what any decent human being would have done in that situation: they brought me into their home and made feel safe and cared for the first time in my life.
"It was muggles who, within half an hour of meeting me, reported my relatives to the authorities. It was those muggle authorities who, within an hour of finding out, arrested my aunt and uncle and made sure I would never have to see them again. It was muggles who, in that first afternoon, whilst still reeling from the shock of learning about magic for the first time and finding out that they had a witch for a daughter, fed me, cleaned me up, and dressed me in properly fitting clothes for the first time in four years. It was muggles who, after knowing me for all of one day, decided that they wanted to adopt me as their son, at no small risk to themselves." And here, Harry teared up and struggled to choke the words out. "To a boy who had suffered like I had, who had never known anything but neglect or worse, that was the greatest gift anyone could possibly have given me—to know that I was wanted and loved, no matter how messed-up or freakish I was."
He took his glasses off and wiped his eyes on his sleeve. He was pleased to see that there were more even people crying now than before.
"It was muggles who, within a matter of weeks, tried and convicted my aunt and uncle for child abuse and neglect and shipped them off to prisons where they remain to this day. It was muggles who helped me to catch up on the school I had missed. It was muggles who gave me Christmas presents and birthday presents for the first time I can remember. It was muggle children who befriended me when I was just some scrawny, shy, and kind of weird new kid, not knowing I was either famous or magical—muggle children with happy and loving families. It was muggles who helped me to overcome my past—who calmed my fears, held me through the nightmares, healed the trauma that had been inflicted—which was not slight, but with their help, I have overcome it—and showed me how much good there is in the world—family, friends, teachers, and mentors, all as good of people as any I have met in the magical world.
"It was also," Harry said, gazing intensely at the moderate wing of the Wizengamot, the ones like Adrian Greengrass Sr., who cared most for tradition, "my muggle parents who reached out to my remaining cousins in the magical world so that I could grow up knowing the rest of my family, who took me to see my birth parents' graves for the first time, and who set out to learn as much as they could about the magical world so that I—and my sister—could enter it better prepared than any other muggle-born child even has a chance to. It was my muggle parents who have supported me in everything these past six years, who have never treated me as anything but their own son and have loved me just as much as the parents I lost.
"What I mean to say is that yes, there are some bad muggles out there, but there are also bad wizards, like Voldemort." Harry waited for the horrified screams to subside. That hadn't been in the script, but he just couldn't help himself. "To be sure, I was raised for four years by muggles who were incredibly cruel, but I was also raised for six years by muggles who are incredibly kind. I have found the vast majority of muggles I have known to be good people, my family first among them. They are good people just as deserving of equal rights and protections as any witch or wizard in this Chamber. If you are concerned with other issues like the traditions or safety of the magical world, fair enough, but a few long-overdue protections against muggles being cursed or mistreated do nothing against that. It is simply showing common decency towards a good and capable group of people who are, inevitably, some small part of the magical world as well. It's the right thing to do, and I promise you that my support for the Muggle Protection Act has never wavered…I yield the floor."
Harry slumped into his seat and sighed with relief as the hall broke out in thunderous applause. Many witches and wizards stood on their feet, teary-eyed, and a few called out, "Bravo! Bravo!" Sirius and Andromeda were two of those who were cheering the loudest. They had coached him through the speech all week, but it was entirely heartfelt, and Harry's delivery was spot-on. Even those who opposed the Act couldn't help but be touched by his story.
But there were still many who were not applauding. Malfoy, Nott, and many of the more conservative families in the room sat with their hands in their laps, glaring at Harry. This still wasn't going to be easy.
But Dumbledore had things under control. "Thank you, Lord Potter," he said, "and with that, perhaps it would be best to adjourn until the morning. Do I have a motion?" This was something of a breach of protocol for him to suggest it, but not technically against the rules.
"I move to adjourn," Andromeda said quickly.
"I second," Sirius jumped in.
Dumbledore called the vote, and it did, indeed, pass, though that was probably because of the late hour as much as rightness of the time. The Grangers relaxed as the crowd filed out of the hall.
"Good job, son," Dan told Harry, and he, Emma, and Hermione all hugged him tightly.
That evening was a mixture of sitting and waiting and being dragged off by Andromeda or Sirius to glad-hand Wizengamot members and their families who wanted to meet Harry Potter for the first time. Harry and his parents had to shake a lot of hands and answer a lot of questions from politicians and from members of the public, which they did their best to answer succinctly. But through it all, Andromeda was mentally counting votes, and as the hour grew later, she pulled the Grangers aside to fill them in.
"Okay, the good news is that the public's on your side," she said. "Of course, they've been leaning that way since Christmas, but that'll be really important for dealing with the aftermath. As for the Wizengamot, we've gained back the losses we sustained with that speech, thank Merlin. It all comes down to the Greengrasses, now. With their little club, they can swing the vote one way of the other. I think the speech really got to them, but Adrian Greengrass is a politician first, and he might need some pushing to commit."
"What you mean by 'pushing'?" Dan asked.
"Well, if you were watching this morning, you can see there's an awful lot of quid pro quo going on around here. Usually, it's just that they want support for some pet project of theirs, but in this case, we have a certain one-of-a-kind item that would be particular interest to the Greengrass family—that is, if you and your family are willing to part with it, Harry."
"What item is that?" Harry asked in confusion.
"Your portrait of Belladonna Greengrass Black."
"Ohhh…" Harry said in recognition, remembering the eighteenth-century portrait they had moved from his bank vault.
"Isn't that bribery?" said Hermione.
"Yes. Yes it is, but on parchment, we'll call it a non-monetary gift, and it'll be fine. Honestly, Lord Malfoy is much worse."
"But is that really necessary?" Dan said in surprise.
"Well, not necessarily, but it'll certainly help. I'll understand if you don't want to give up the portrait."
"It's not really the portrait so much. It's just that—I'm sorry, Andi, but it's just disgusting that the simplest human rights legislation can't get through the Wizengamot without resorting to these underhanded tactics."
"I know, really. Blame Malfoy and Nott for not going to Azkaban like they should have. Without them, support for their views would be a lot weaker. But the painting should be a viable option, if you're okay with it."
"What do you think, Harry?" Emma said.
"Well, I guess we can," Harry said. "I mean, I don't really know much about her."
"Alright, well if you're sure, then we can do it."
"Will Melania Potter be okay with that?" Hermione asked. "I know she was sharing Belladonna's frame."
"I asked her, and she said it was fine," Andi confirmed. "The Potters have always been pro-muggle, even in her time. Plus, I went and got her another frame. You can get still-lifes to replace old or damaged frames. So we'll keep the painting as a bargaining chip. Oh—but let me do the talking on that bit. You don't want to say the wrong word, for legal reasons. It can be a bit tricky. Come on, I'll introduce you."
She led the Grangers through the Wizengamot offices toward the Greengrass office, with Ted and Sirius following close behind, in part to fend off reporters. However, before they could get to their destination, they were blocked by another family that had given them more than their share of grief.
"Very impressive performance, Lord Potter," the patriarch spoke most insincerely.
"Why thank you, Lord Nott," Harry replied, equally insincerely. "I thought it made quite an impression."
"Yes, well, sentimental, childish stories will do that," Lord Nott said offhandedly. By his side, Theo sniggered at Harry.
"Hey, that was a lot more than a—!" Hermione started, but her mother held her back.
"Nobody asked you, mud—"
"That's enough, Theodore," Lord Nott waved his son back. Harry had started forward at that, but Emma and Hermione both stopped him. "This is about Madam Tonks, not Lord Potter's 'family'."
"What do you want, Lord Nott?" Andi said impatiently.
"I'm here to call you to account for what you've been doing here—taking advantage of an obviously emotionally-disturbed child—"
"Why you—!" Sirius lunged forward, but Ted stopped him.
"He's baiting," he whispered. "Don't do it."
"Emotionally disturbed?" Andi said with an oddly cold laugh. "Are you sure you were listening to the same speech I was?"
"You mean that obviously rehearsed speech."
"I helped write it," Harry protested.
"I'm sure you did, boy," Lord Nott said patronisingly before turning back to Andi. "I weep for the next generation," he said. "If only he had been raised by a proper wizarding family…"
But Lord Nott had said exactly the wrong thing to Harry. That insulting use of "boy" had dredged up and ancient and unpleasant memory, and he wasn't going to stand for it. "Like you, Lord Nott?" he burst out. "You remind me of my uncle more than any other wizard I've met."
"Harry!" Dan, Emma, and Hermione all whispered at once. Theo gasped. They were lucky there weren't more witnesses. A duel with Harry involved would be the worst possible thing to have happen in this situation.
But Lord Nott didn't bite, not yet. "So impertinent," he said. "You're lucky you're underage, boy. But then that's what I said about upbringing. You, on the other hand, Tonks. I can't fathom where you went wrong. Perfect breeding, and yet you represent such nonsense and keep such company. And I thought you could sink no lower after you married this muggle-born like a common whore."
"Why you—!" Ted shouted and lunged forward himself but this time, Andi held him back.
Andromeda Tonks stood up very stiff and straight, fighting to keep the fear off her face, not so much for what Charles Nott could do, but for the political risks involved. But she had to take control of the situation. She drew her wand and said with a deadly fire in her eyes, "Do you really think you can insult me so, Lord Nott? I am a daughter of the House of Black. I survived sixteen years under the same roof as Bellatrix Lestrange. I may be able to proudly bare my arms in public, as you do not, but if you think I can't hold my own in a duel, you will be sorely disappointed. Now—" She levelled her wand at him. "—will you apologise?"
Sirius and Ted stopped struggling with each other and drew back in awe. Harry and Hermione could feel Andi's magic flaring through her wand. The tip glowed a dangerous red. They knew immediately that she was not someone to cross. Lord Nott was plainly calculating very fast. Baiting someone into attacking him would work to his advantage. A formal duel would be a crapshoot.
"I apologise, Madam Tonks," he said, in that overly formal and flowery tone that meant what he said was meant to be especially insulting. "I was out of line. Your extreme lack of loyalty to your pureblood heritage was no cause for me to cast aspersions on your virtue."
"Thank you, Lord Nott. Now, we really must be getting to our next meeting." And before the Notts could respond, she pulled the Grangers forward to the Greengrass office. When they were out of earshot, she said, "Phew, that was close."
"That was amazing!" Hermione said.
"Now you see why I married her," Ted said with a grin.
They went into the office, where they found three generations of Greengrasses: the white-haired Adrian Sr., the young and energetic Adrian Jr. and Hyacinth, and two young girls: Daphne and a younger, brown-haired girl whom Harry and Hermione didn't recognise. They shook hands with the adults, and then Andi went to work on Adrian Sr., while Harry and Hermione met the girls, whose parents were watching them closely.
"Good evening to you, Lord Potter, Miss Granger," Daphne said. "May I present to you my sister, Astoria."
"Pleased to meet you," Hermione said, shaking the younger girl's hand.
Harry started to shake her hand as well, but then, on a sudden impulse—perhaps it was the annoyingly formal setting—he leaned down and kissed her hand, saying, "I am honoured to meet you Miss Astoria."
Little Astoria's eyes went wide (as did Daphne's), and she barely managed to remember her etiquette training: "Th-th-the honour is m-mine, Lord Potter," she squeaked.
"Wow, just when I thought I'd seen everything from you, Lord Potter," Daphne said. "Listen, I…I was really impressed by that speech. I've…I've never heard anything like it."
"Thank you, Miss Daphne," Harry replied cautiously. He wasn't quite sure if that was a compliment.
"When I read about…you know…in the paper…I wasn't sure I believed it…" She seemed to be having difficulty making the words come out.
"It sounded horrible," Astoria said.
"Yes, it did. But I could see it in your eyes today…I can't imagine what it was like to live through that and then find a loving family…I'm impressed, Lord Potter."
Harry nodded and smiled. "Thank you."
"You know, when you first talked to me about the Muggle Protection Act, I thought you were just being self-serving—and, be honest, you kind of still are, aren't you? But after that speech…seeing how much your family…well, I guess what I'm trying to say is…I think I'd think less of you if you weren't out here pushing it as hard as you could."
Harry's and Hermione's eyebrows shot up. "That…that means a lot to us," Harry said.
"May I ask how you feel about it?" Hermione said.
Daphne snapped back into her aloof pose, but it didn't seem to fit her quite as well, now. "It's politics, Miss Granger," she said. "That's all it's ever been to me. You're the first muggle-born I got to know at all. And if, hypothetically, I'm starting to think it shouldn't be all about politics, well, I'm not the head of the family, am I."
Hermione and Harry did their best to hide their surprise. "But I'm sure your grandfather listens to you," she replied.
Astoria nodded a little too eagerly, but Daphne just said, "He does. He listens to a lot of other people, too. And he makes the final decision himself. But my sister and I will share our feelings with him."
"That's…all we can ask," Harry said uncertainly. It wasn't much, he thought, but it meant a lot coming from Daphne Greengrass. Maybe in a few more years, they could be something like friends.
By now, Lord Greengrass was also breaking off the conversation. "That's certainly a very interesting proposal Madam Tonks," he said pleasantly. "I must discuss it with the rest of my family, and we will certainly give it full weight. Good evening."
"Good evening," Andi said, and she led the Grangers out. "He's not talking," she told them. "Doesn't want anyone to be able to turn him before the actual vote. I'm optimistic, but we won't know until the time comes."
"Well, we've done all we can," Hermione said. "We think Daphne and Astoria are on our side."
"You do? That's a good sign. If that's so, I think we just might have it."
The meeting the next day was even more crowded, and all of the muggle-born families in Harry's and Hermione's year were in attendance, but the tone had noticeably changed. Harry's speech really had made a lasting effect. Large parts of it had been reported in the Daily Prophet, which, as biased as it was towards the purebloods, was even more hungry for Harry Potter gossip, and Andi reported that the owls that were coming in this morning were more in favour of the bill than they had ever been, and there would be serious consequences should it fail. That boded even better for Lord Greengrass's decision, since he tended to follow the political winds.
The debate at this point shied away from the subjects Harry had addressed and more to the practical side of enforcement, penalties, and harshness. Additionally, with Harry no longer a viable target, Lucius Malfoy made a long speech railing against Dumbledore, noting in particular Harry's recent falling-out with the old man and suggesting that the front for ratification was not so solid and unified as they let on, then trying to project this onto the merits of the bill itself.
This led Harry to stand and deliver his other, much shorter, rehearsed response: "The Chief Warlock and my family have had some serious disagreements, both in the past and more recently. This is a private matter on which we are still coming to an understanding, and I ask all of you to respect that. But on this issue, we stand united. The Chief Warlock can have no stronger ally than me in support of the Muggle Protection Act, and I am proud to call him my ally as well."
That didn't have the impact of his first speech, but it did cut off the worst of the criticism.
The debate went on tumultuously for a long while, but finally—it was past dinner time—there was a call for cloture, which passed easily, and, after closing statements by Lucius Malfoy and Augusta Longbottom, Dumbledore called the final vote.
"All those in favour, light your wands," the old man said.
Wands lit up around the room. Many people in the audience lit their wands in solidarity, making it hard to count the votes, but Ted, Remus, and Arthur Weasley, all sitting around the Grangers, were counting them. The wands went up slowly, almost one by one, including a very nervous-looking Cornelius Fudge (after all, he had to take the public's side). All three men were frowning as they counted until, to a flurry of whispers from around the hall, Lord Greengrass lit his wand, and three other Lords sitting around him did as well.
"I think we've got! I think we've got it!" The Grangers' friends whispered to each other, and similar sounds were coming from around the hall.
"All those opposed, light your wands," Dumbledore said.
Lords Malfoy, Nott, and Jugson immediately raised their wands, and many others followed suit. It looked very close, even closer than at Sirius's trial, but Ted, Remus, and Arthur all agreed that they had won out.
Even so, no one dared speak until Dumbledore read the final tally: "By a vote of thirty-one to twenty-seven…the law is passed!"
"Yes!" Harry leapt up, pumping his fist in the air. Around the packed Chamber, hundreds of supporters were on their feet, shouting, cheering, and crying at their success—a solid majority of the spectators, even if it was just barely half of the actual Wizengamot. Harry was lucky that he didn't get lifted up on the crowd's shoulders.
Across the hall, he could see some of his Slytherin classmates. Draco Malfoy looked appalled, and Theo Nott looked outraged, but Daphne and Astoria Greengrass seemed to smile slightly when they met his eyes, and Daphne made a gesture that seemed to say, "You're welcome."
Arthur Weasley was weeping as he shook Harry's hand: "I can't thank you enough Lord Potter. That was a beautiful speech. And whatever you did to get Lord Greengrass…Thank you. I've been dreaming of this day for years."
"I'm proud to have worked on this law with you, Lord Potter," Augusta Longbottom told him.
"We were worried when we first heard about the prejudice in this world, Granger, but we feel a lot better about it now," Sir William Finch-Fletchley told Dan.
Gilderoy Lockhart insisted on another photo op as he said, "Harry, Harry, Harry, you're a natural at this. If you ever need some advice, though, I'm happy to give it. You know, I've always said my dearest wish is harmony between all magic and non-magical peoples…"
Somehow, the receiving line was even longer than it was at Sirius's trial or the Order of Merlin presentation, but Harry didn't care this time. At the first one, he'd just wanted to talk to his godfather, while the second was for an award he didn't feel he deserved, but this—this felt like he was doing something really worthwhile. Quidditch was great, too, but this was the kind of thing that could change lives. And even though it had been so hard to pass through the Wizengamot, that made it that much better to see how much support he had gained from the people of magical Britain. After the disaster at the end of the school year, things were really looking up. Score one for the light side.