I'm baaaaaack! So sorry for the very long wait, I've just been dragging my heels on this chapter, as it was a little too dry for my taste. Thank you all for your wonderful reviews, and in answer to one of them, it does still matter. Thank you for letting me know you enjoy this, and I hope this next installment will satisfy for a little while. Thanks!
Harry looked back and forth between the three men, his bright green eyes wide with panic as he kept up a running stream of curses inside his head. They knew! They bloody knew! Harry had been hoping that he could find some way to stay with Draco and Azrael over the summer, but now that the blond was comatose he had high doubts that that was still an option. "Harry?" came the soothing voice Albus Dumbledore, and Harry curled up into a ball, the sheets bunching up around him as he tried to withdraw from the nightmare that was unfolding before him. He didn't want to do this! Not now! He made a silent prayer to anyone that was listening to save him from these men.
As if in answer to his pleas, the team of medi-witches swooped down on them in a flapping of white medicinal robes, all four of them hissing and cursing the men gathered around him. "Get away, you fools! Can't you see the boy needs air!" one of them hissed as he she shoved a very disgruntled Barty Crouch out of his chair and away from the young boy. "He's just been through a great deal of trauma, and the last thing he needs is you politicians swarming around him and asking him all sorts of stressful questions!" another cried as she attempted to hassle the Headmaster away from the young patient.
"Now see here!" Fudge cried as he freed his robes from the clutching hands of one of the nurses. "We are on official ministry business! I will not be manhandled!" he shouted in indignation as he swatted the hands of another witch away from him. His objections were cut short as he suddenly found himself faced with the point of Madame Pomfrey's wand. "You're presence here is a threat to the welfare of my patient, and it if you do not leave this instant, then it is within my power to remove you, Minister or not!" she growled, and the portly man gulped as he saw the fire in the nurse's eyes. Madame Pomfrey, though wizened with age, was not to be tampered with, and when her ire was raised she rose to defend her charges like a vicious she-wolf defending her pups. The Minister grabbed his green bowler hat from where he had placed it on the bedside table and turned about, moving to the door as quickly as he could while still remaining dignified, an anxious Crouch and bemused Headmaster in tow.
With a boom, the doors slammed shut, and Harry let out a sigh of relief. That was a close one. If he had been questioned then, with no preparation time, he doubted he could have fabricated a tale on the spot that would have held up under scrutiny and whatever details they had attained. His mind was brought away from his visitors, however, when the medi-witches began to send spells sweeping over his body, their ticklish probes checking his form for any discernible injuries, and relayed their findings to the women. They were all a little startled when their probes found no new injuries, but uncovered hundreds of old and healed ones. 'Oh, holy shit!' Isaac yelped as he felt the magical probes. 'Harry! Our perception filters are down!' he cried.
Harry's green eyes widened in shock, and he folded his arms over his chest just as one of the nurses was leaning down to uncover his chest. "Don't!" he whispered, looking at her with his best attempt at puppy dog eyes. She paused only for a second, before placing her hand on his head in a gentle motion. "Please, Mr. Potter, this is for your own good," she said, moving her hands to undo his hospital robe even as Harry shifted to try to stop her. He halted when he heard the stern voice of Madame Pomfrey addressing him.
"Mr. Potter!" she said stonily, and Harry turned his wide green eyes on the old nurse. "Don't make me restrain you," she warned, and Harry nodded meekly and sat back, unfolding his arms and allowing the nurses to finally disrobe him, leaving him with nothing on but his underwear, and exposing the collection of scars, bruises, scabs, and stray marks that he had accumulated after eight years in the Dursley family. As one the witches recoiled, before moving forward again to further examine the young boy.
Harry rolled his eyes as he relaxed into the bed. Sometimes people could be so dramatic over the smallest things. So what if he had scars and bruises. The Dursleys were dead! They couldn't hurt him anymore. "Harry," Madame Pomfrey whispered, her hands tracing over a particularly nasty gash that was a reminder of the time when Vernon threw a plate at him when he was six. "How did you get these?" she asked.
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "Here and there," he answered nonchalantly, his eyes starting to droop as exhaustion began to reclaim him. "Whenever I didn't get the chores done in time or Dudley needed to relieve some stress," he mumbled, before his eyes closed and he passed into the realm of unconsciousness.
The medi-witches looked back and forth between each other, before they at once began to cast diagnostic spells on their young patient, this time far more in depth. A scroll of parchment and paper were conjured out of thin air, and as the spells did their work, the quill began to move across the page, recording each and every one of the maladies that had been inflicted on the young boy.
Quickly, the scroll began to elongate, rapidly becoming over a meter long, and slowly it began to fill the room as eight years of abuse and punishment were recorded. Starvation, hypothermia, a cut on his ankle from glass where he had been thrown out a window when he was seven. Broken ribs from when he had been shoved down a flight of stairs by his cousin. A burn mark on his sternum from when hot oil had been splashed onto him in a cooking accident. Internal bleeding from when he had been hit in the stomach with a baseball bat, repeatedly. Whip marks on his back from when his uncle had beaten him for 'ruining' Dudley's seventh birthday.
On and on and on went the parchment, filling up with all the terrible things that had been done to Harry Potter. And then, all of a sudden, they stopped. Sometime after the boy turned nine years old, all signs of abuse ceased, and not a single wound was found that was any day older. This puzzled the old nurse to no end, but not as much as the prospect of how in the hell he had gotten all these wounds. The only people who had this sort of regular contact with Harry were the boy's deceased family, but Dumbledore had said himself that he was sure Harry was safe there.
Pomfrey's eyes widened as an idea manifested itself in her head: that either Dumbledore was wholly unaware of the situation, and thus an incompetent fool that she knew he was not; or, even more disturbing, that he was aware the whole time and did nothing about it. Either way, the child should never have been entrusted to the old man if the sheer length of the scroll was anything to go by. Pomfrey's hand shot to her mouth as she started to read what the list had recorded, stifling the half formed gasp that had threatened to escape. The severities of the injuries were flooring, and the sheer scope staggered the pure-blood, to whom the concept of child abuse was nearly altogether foreign.
In just under five minutes, Harry Potter had risen from an annoyance to the single worst case of child abuse Madame Pomfrey had ever laid her eyes on. Raising her eyes to her fellow nurses, she saw similar expressions on their faces. They all jumped as the quill finally stopped writing and dropped to the floor, leaving the parchment at just under nine meters long. As one, the nurses raised their wands and redrew the barrier around the young boy before withdrawing to Pomfrey's office, one of them bundling up the list and carrying it in her arms, a good few stray meters trailing behind her.
Madame Pomfrey glanced back one more time at the drawn curtains separating Harry from view, and she felt her old maternal instincts rearing up. The ones that were responsible for the young boy's current condition would pay, she swore to herself.
'And there is no way I'm going to let Albus too-many-middle-names Dumbledore stop me!' she promised with conviction as she shut and locked the door to her office. With a flick of her wand, the shutters closed, blocking out the sunlight and any possible eavesdroppers that might be snooping around. Several candlesticks were conjured by one of the nurses, and the women all sat down and began to pour over the list of atrocities inflicted upon their young patient. As she started to read further into the details of the maladies, Pomfrey felt her gut twist in horror and disgust. A retching sound came from another one of the nurses, and Pomfrey looked over to see her dry heaving as she stared at the description of a particularly nasty day in mid-June when Harry was five. Pomfrey sighed. It was going to be a long day.
The sun was just past its zenith when the doors to the office finally reopened, revealing the five bedraggled witches. Each one of them had puffy eyes and runny noses, evidence of their extreme grief. Wet tissues were piled high behind them, and the whole room smelt of vomit. Closing the door again, Pomfrey leaned her wizened head on the old oak, taking minor comfort in its solidity. Her mind was still reeling at the atrocities that their young patient had been forced to endure, and she wondered at the level of metal sickness any rational human must contain to commit these kinds of acts.
She turned her puffy eyes onto her fellow nurses, whom were all looking to her with expressions that held the deepest level of both sorrow and revulsion. "What are we going to do now?" asked the youngest of the witches, a small blond of only twenty three, fresh out of training. Pomfrey steeled her gaze before turning her whole body to face the others, discreetly leaning against the door to support her, as her legs were threatening to give out. "We are going straight to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement!" she cried, speaking over the surprised witches' gasps. "But, Madame!" breathed one of the nurses. "Don't you think that's a bit drastic? I mean, shouldn't we at least tell Dumbledore, before we do anything rash?"
Pomfrey's countenance seemed to harden into concrete, the look of pure determination in her eyes forcing the witch who had spoken to take a step back. "There is no way we are letting that old creep cover this up!" she hissed, her fury practically dripping off of her words. Raising her gaze to include the whole contingent of witches before her, Pomfrey stared them down with her cold gray eyes. "And if any of you have any sense of decency, or justice, then you will help me protect this boy, too."
Slowly, the witches all nodded their consent, their wills bent to the old matriarch's demands. Satisfied, Pomfrey spun around, reopening the door to her office with a wave of her hand. Striding forward, she lit the fire with a wave of her wand and splashed some floo powder into it, instantly turning the flames green. The other medi-witches slowly filed in behind her, their eyes locked onto the older witches motions as she gathered the list into her arms and stepped into the fire. "Department of Magical Law Enforcement!" she cried loudly, and away she went, zipping out of view in a flash of green fire. The other witches followed her example and climbed into the fire in single file, all but one, who was instructed to remain there and look after the patients.
A cough from the main room caused the nervous witch to jump, and the nurse spun around to face the open door to the office. When she saw nothing that would cause alarm, she slowly calmed herself and strode into the ward. Looking around, her bright green eyes landed on those of purest silver. Draco Malfoy was sitting up in his bed, apparently fully recovered. A smile spread across the nurse's face, which was slowly mirrored in the young aristocrat's fair countenance.
"Are you feeling better, Mr. Malfoy?" the nurse asked, folding her hands in front of her as she spoke. Draco nodded and rolled his shoulders, unconsciously trying to stretch out wings he knew were not there. After the recovery, little snippets of Azrael had interwoven with Draco's soul, just as he had with the angel in turn. He was still a little disoriented, and a phantom ache stretched across his shoulder plates where he knew his wings should attach. He looked back at the nurse quickly before his eyes narrowed. "Where's Madame Pomfrey?" he asked.
The nurse tried to cover her involuntary wince as a random gesture, but Draco's keen eyes still detected it. "She had to leave unexpectedly. She asked me to keep watch over the ward while she was away," the nurse explained, but Draco had stopped listening halfway through her explanation and was no regarding the drawn curtains in the bed next to him. His expression was that of confused agitation, and he turned troubled silver eyes back onto the nurse. "Who's behind this?" he asked, not caring if he sounded rude or not. Something was setting his nerves on edge, and it was making him quite irritable. He could feel the angel unraveling and growling beneath the surface of his skin, and he sent a soothing wave of magic rushing over the celestial. Startlingly, this did nothing to soothe it, and the Angel of Death continued to become even more agitated. 'His grace,' Draco heard the angel mumble. 'It's wrong…something's wrong!' Azrael rumbled.
"Mr. Potter suffered an attack of some kind a few days ago and was severely injured. We thought it best that he…" the nurse trailed off as she saw the young boy's eyes flicker suddenly, and for the briefest moment a silhouette was cast onto the wall behind him: a pair of two, humongous wings. Then they were gone an instant later, and the boy's eyes were no longer facing her as he leaped out of bed and pulled back the covers on Harry's bed.
Scenting danger, the nurse stepped forward with a half formed protest forming on her lips. She was brought up short as the boy snapped his gaze towards her, his furious expression freezing her heart cold. His eyes, so luminous and silver only moments ago, were now a harsh, powerful gold. Unseen by the mortal, Azrael's huge black wings spread menacingly behind him, enraged that a human would dare try to come between him and his property! Isaac was his! His angel, no one else's! With a wave of his hand, the mortal dropped to the floor, her eyes closed in a deep, death-like slumber. When she awoke, this whole encounter would seem like nothing more than a dream. The angel paid her no heed, though; his attention was now wholly occupied by the young boy stretched out on the bed before him.
Azrael was almost all animal now, his protective instincts flying out of control as his disturbing golden eyes took in the remains of the puncture wound in the human vessel's abdomen, as well as the several minor scratches that had been inflicted by the Demon Lord. Azrael bent over the smaller male and began scenting his form, his sharp nose wrinkling at the demonic stench that permeated the wounds. Azrael's right hand suddenly swung forward and began to glow with an ethereal light, and he stroked it over the bare torso of the shared body of Harry and Isaac. Everywhere he touched, the demon's essence was forcefully expelled, cleansed by the holy light, and replaced by Azrael's own unique grace. The dark winged angel continued this until his scent was entirely encasing the boy, and every hint of the demon had been removed.
The angel's golden eyes snapped up to the boy's face as he twitched, and he watched with almost reverent fascination as pale eyelids slowly rose to reveal gleaming blue sapphires. Isaac's eyes widened considerably as he stared into the Angel of Death's wolf-like gaze, his expression almost hungry, like he wanted to eat the smaller angel whole. He tried to shift away but immediately stilled as a low growl resonated from the other angel's chest. The smaller angel's pupils dilated as he took a whiff of Azrael's scent wafting up from his body. For another angel to mark him in such a way, it was tantamount to carving "MINE" into his skin.
Isaac's mouth parted slightly, and he spread his pure white wings a little, showing the undersides in an expression of submission. "Azrael," he whispered, catching the black winged angel's full attention. "You need to calm down," he said, speaking softly as if to soothe a wounded animal. Slowly he sat up, and Azrael's eyes followed the movement.
Carefully, Isaac placed his hand on top of Azrael's and removed it from where it was touching his bare skin. He had to be careful. The other angel's rational mind was currently buried, and he was not fully in control of himself yet. If he made one false move, it could have severe repercussions on both of them. "Azrael, I need you to listen to me!" Isaac said firmly, and his hand cupped the angel's cheek to return his gaze back from where it had wandered down his form. "I need you to calm down!" he said again, putting as much force into his words as he could without making them seem threatening. "Now."
Azrael blinked a few times, before finally his wings fell down from their raised, aggressive stance where they had remained since he had first taken control. Slowly, Azrael's animalistic nature subsided, and his rational thoughts returned to the forefront of his mind. Isaac breathed a sigh of relief as the last piece of grace finally fit back into the dark winged angel's being, and Azrael visibly relaxed.
"You okay?" Isaac asked, looking his friend up and down. Azrael nodded before sitting up properly, no longer hunched over the other boy as he previously had been. "I'm sorry," he said softly, his heavy golden eyes staring into Isaac's blue ones, the expression in them so different from what it had been moments before. "I didn't mean to scare you like that," he said, and Isaac shrugged his shoulders. "Not your fault, and besides, we've dealt with worse."
He shifted on the bed until his legs were dangling off the side that Azrael was on, one of his white wings casually draped over one of Azrael's black ones in an unconscious display of affection. "So I assume that you and Draco have sorted yourselves out?" he said, framing the statement so that it seemed more like a question. Azrael nodded before glancing down at the now fully healed wound. "How did you get those?" he asked. Isaac glanced down at himself and back up at Azrael before shrugging again, playing down the severity of the wound. "Well, you were out of commission, and someone had to stop Valefar. If I hadn't shown up, he would probably be back at full power by now," Isaac said quickly.
He yelped as he felt Azrael's arms suddenly latch onto his form, spinning him to face the larger angel and meeting a truly ferocious glare from his amber colored eyes. "You what?!" he hissed, his black wings rising once again into an aggressive stance. "You challenged the Demon Lord alone? What the HELL were you thinking?!" Azrael shrieked, the windows of the Hospital Wing beginning to vibrate as he threatened to dip into his true voice. Isaac, however, had had just about enough of Azrael's attitude, and with a flare of his own white wings, he pushed the darker angel away from him. "I did what I had to, no more, no less. You know I couldn't just let the demon run free when there was something I could do about it!" he cried, and now the windows did shatter as he too dropped into his own true voice.
Azrael retaliated immediately. "But you could have died, Isaac!" he cried, flapping his wings in extreme agitation, now no longer caring the damage his voice was causing. A chunk of plaster shook free from the ceiling and crashed to the floor not a foot away from the angel, but he paid it no heed as his eyes locked with furious sapphires. "Then I would have died, and that would be that. Don't insult me by making my sacrifice seem in vain, brother, when I laid it all on the line for you!" he hissed, his voice causing fissures to form in the bricks on the wall.
At his words, Azrael stopped shaking, and a shocked expression plastered itself on his face. His wings fell down from their raised position, and for just a moment, the Angel of Death looked truly helpless. Isaac's expression softened slightly at the sight, and he spread his wings invitingly. Immediately he was met with an armful of blond hair and black feathers as the two angels embraced. "Just please, don't do that again!" Azrael whispered tearfully into Isaac's ear. "I don't… I don't want to lose you again," he said around a sob, and Isaac squeezed his friend just a little tighter. "You won't, Azrael. I'll always be…right…here," he said softly, his voice dipping back into his natural human tone, rather than his angelic voice, and his gaze locked with glowing golden orbs in a silent promise.
Azrael nodded and pushed himself away, before flaring his dark wings and disappearing in a flash of grace, presumably to go and calm himself down. Isaac sighed as he sat back on his bed, and for the first time his eyes discovered the damage that their little 'argument,' had caused. With a wave of his hand, he remolded the room to the way it was before. The chunk of plaster reformed on the ground and shot back up to where it had originated on the ceiling, as if time were going in reverse, and the windows mended themselves while the fissures in the wall sealed up. Isaac sighed as his grace relaxed, now fully replenished and ready for action. If only Harry were in the same condition, but unfortunately the poor boy was still out of it.
While they had slept Isaac had been working overtime to purge the disgusting demonic essence from his body, and as such Harry's magic had been forced to cope with healing the more physical aspect of his wounds. Still, the magic that coursed through his veins was far stronger than any ordinary wizard's, as it had been trained to keep its user's body alive since he was a one year old. The constant demand on its healing powers had forced it to develop faster than normal, and Harry was left with an abnormally powerful core that was particularly adept at self-preservation and healing. But Harry had never had a puncture wound that went all the way through his body and out the other side, so his magic had worked itself to exhaustion both to try to heal the wound and keep the young wizard alive. The first time he had awoken, the core was only just beginning to recover some of its strength, and was now receiving aid from the resident angel's grace, giving it extra juice.
But for now he slept, and Isaac didn't have the heart to wake him. So he lay back down, closed his eyes, and fell into his meditation in preparation for the sure to come emotional upheaval.
The Weasley family clan were all happy to finally be back from their long trip in Romania. Sure, they adored Charlie, but, as the saying goes: There's no place like home. Molly was busy preparing dinner for her pack of children when the clock on the wall shifted. Glancing over, her eyes settled on the clock, which was not really a clock, but rather a magical heirloom that had been passed down her family for generations. On the face of the clock were nine hands, each bearing a different name and face, which denoted every one of her immediate family members. As she watched, the hand tracking Arthur shifted from Work to Traveling, and after a few seconds from Traveling to Home.
A crack was heard outside the kitchen window, and a smile etched its way onto her face as she took in the figure of Arthur Weasley stepping through the side door and into the breakfast area, where he met a chorus of greetings from his offspring. Molly's smile, however, began to droop as she spied the telltale signs of worry on her husband's countenance. His eyes were sunken, with dark bags underneath, and his back was slouched more than usual. All the wrinkles on his face were standing out, making him appear as if he had aged thirty years. "Everything alright dear?" Molly asked, her familial instincts beginning to kick in.
The table grew silent as Arthur raised his exhausted visage to look at each of his family, and inside his head he was thanking whatever god there was left that none of his children had had to go through the same fate of the young Potter. "I had a rough day at work," he started, stepping around the table slowly, one hand trailing along the rim of the old oak, making the veins on the appendage appear that much more prominent. "I've been having to fend off hate-mail all day long. You have no idea how many howlers I've had to fend off!" he burst out, releasing a jet of hot air as he seemed to melt into his chair at the head of the table.
Molly's eyes widened. Arthur's job at the ministry was to handle magically cursed muggle artifacts, which was loosely related to the Muggle Protection Act that Dumbledore had created. Why the hell was he getting hate mail?
As if following their mother's thought process, the Weasley children immediately began to inquire about this exact question. Choruses of "What happened Dad!?" and "Who the hell do they think they are?" echoed around the table, before they were slowly silenced as the Weasley patron raised his hand for silence. Setting his hand down, Arthur seemed to shrink into himself as his whole form tensed. His hands gripped the edge of the table in front of him hard enough to make the old wood creak in protest, and his knuckles turned white from the pressure.
"What happened, dear?" Molly asked slowly, leaning over Arthur's shoulder to peer worriedly into his weary face.
Arthur let out another heavy sigh, before reaching into the folds of his cloak and withdrawing the morning's edition of the Daily Prophet. Molly blinked owlishly at it, recalling how she had been surprised that morning when she had not found it on her doorstep. "I called in a favor with some friends at the prophet. Didn't want your first day back to be spoiled by this," he said softly, before handing the paper over to the woman.
Mrs. Weasley's breath caught in her throat as she caught sight of the headline. Raising her left hand to her mouth, she drew in a few sharp breaths as if to keep from hyperventilating. Her fingers slipped, and the paper slid out and onto the table for the rest of the family to see. There, in large, black capital letters, were the words that no one had ever expected to read.
HARRY POTTER: THE BOY-WHO-SUFFERED!
Mrs. Weasley bent over and picked the paper back up, her face by now colored an ashen gray as dread gripped her heart. Her eyes moved off the headline and began to scroll down the page, finding the related article. Her mouth began to move, speaking in a monotony voice as her horror and revulsion grew to a cold flat dread.
Ministry employees are stunned today as new evidence has been placed forward concerning the already shocking case of Harry Potter, whom we have already learned is now, once again, an orphan. This evidence was put forth by a team of practitioners from Saint Mungo's Hospital, who were sent to Hogwarts earlier this week to aid in the treatment of Mr. Potter in a recent accident. The nurses were understandably shocked to find a long history of scars, bruises, burns, and other evidence of copious abuse on the young boy's body.
Poppy Pomfrey, head of the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, claims that she and her assistants discovered the scars after several highly advanced glamours gave out, revealing the true skin of his damaged body. 'We were shocked…no, DISGUSTED with what we found on that boy,' says Madame Pomfrey when interviewed by the Prophet. 'The evidence that we have gathered indicates that the boy suffered years of this type of abuse. Eight years, to be specific, going all the way back to when he was a one year old. And the nature of the wounds found on him, well, they were atrocious! The only people who could have possibly done this kind of damage to the young boy would have to be his adopted family!'
That's right, you read it correctly. Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, has most likely been subjected to child abuse, as shocking as that is to all of us here in the Wizarding Community. Further investigation revealed that the boy's magical guardian is none other than Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, Supreme Mugwump of the Wizengamot, Order of Merlin First Class. He will be attending trial for alleged criminal neglect. The trial for Harry Potter's custody will be held January 7th, at the Department of Magical Law. Here's to hoping that justice is dealt with appropriately.
Molly set the newspaper down and looked over to her husband, who was staring at the table with a dead-eyed expression. The whole family were known Dumbledore supporters, and if he were to go to trial for child abuse, indirect or not, it would drive a hole into whatever credibility the family still had. "Great Scott," Molly whispered, and the sentiment was shared by the rest of the table as they sat in silence.
After eating a cold meal, the dinner having long ago lost its heat, they retired to bed, their heads hung with shame.
The crowds lined up outside the Ministry of Magic headquarters were massive, as thousands of witches and wizards from all over the country rallied to see that their beloved icon receives proper justice. Signs and banners floated across the crowd, all with messages protesting the Muggle Protection Act, the people's faith having been shaken by the news of Harry Potter's treatment. On the steps of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, a line of men in black robes stood guard, making sure the crowd didn't get too rowdy.
A flicker of movement at the base of the steps had people surging forward as a small boy flanked by two auror bodyguards appeared. Harry glanced back at them with bright verdant eyes, surprised at the sheer mass of people who had gathered to see him. His guards looked down at him, and he turned his bright eyes up at them and nodded. Together, the three figures moved up the steps and into the main building.
Harry looked around in awe at the courtroom that lay out before him. He was seated in a chair that was raised up on a dais, and all around him were large stands in the shape of an arena, upon which sat the full assembly of the Wizengamot. Cornelius Fudge himself sat at the head post, directly in front of Harry, where normally Dumbledore would be sitting. But, seeing as how he stood as one of the accused in this case, it would obviously be highly inappropriate to have him also act as a judge. Along one side of the hall, Harry's left, sat the witches of the Wizengamot, and dressed in pink full length robes. To the right sat the men, dressed in a uniform dark blue. 'Color coordinated,' Isaac commented inside Harry's head. 'I like it.'
"Hush you," Harry whispered, and the angel settled down as Fudge banged his gavel down on his placard. "The case of one Harry Potter, son of the late James and Lilly Potter, will now commence!" he announced, and the Wizengamot hearing began.
Fudge sat forward and looked down on the small boy. "Will the subject please say his full name for the record?" he asked, and Harry sat forward in his chair. "Harry James Potter," he said firmly, his small voice carrying throughout the room. Fudge nodded as the secretary to his write began to scribble down the words as they came. "Mr. Potter, we are here today to discuss the allegations purporting that you have been subjected to severe neglect and…child abuse." Harry shifted nervously on his chair, before nodding to the man his understanding. "Do you have anything to say on the matter, Mr. Potter?" Fudge asked, and Harry shook his head. Fudge frowned.
"Mr. Potter, for the sake of trial etiquette I will have to ask that you enunciate when asked a question. Do you understand?" Fudge asked, peering down at the small boy. Harry nodded, and then, almost as an afterthought, said, "Yes, sir," quietly. Fudge nodded in acceptance, and sat back in his chair. "Now, the council is aware of your current orphaned state, Mr. Potter. Would you please elaborate on how that came to be?" he asked, looking down his nose at the small boy. Harry nodded, and sat forward in his chair to begin his tale.
"It was dark when they came," he said softly, shifting on the stand. "I didn't see their faces, but they were dark, and had hoods on their heads. They started to take all the stuff in the house, and they were making lots of noise." Harry shivered in fear, putting on a very convincing act for the audience. Isaac was helping him come up with the fib, the angel proving to be surprisingly good at making up believable stories to fool an audience. "Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia came down the stairs, carrying the metal baseball bat. Uncle roared at them, telling them to get out or he would kill them. He didn't see the gun."
Harry took in a deep breath, faking distress. "Petunia's cry must have woken Dudley, because he came running down the stairs too. They shot both him and Petunia, then took the things and left." Harry sat back in his chair, looking up at the Wizengamot. "Forgive me if I sound a bit harsh," came a voice from the men's side of the audience. "But why didn't they kill you, Mr. Potter?" he asked. Harry looked back up, his green eyes shining in the dim light. "I was in the cupboard, and Uncle had locked me in before he went to bed. Why would they think to look there? Plus, I was quiet. They wouldn't find me!" he said quickly, and the whole Wizengamot began to shift in their seats.
"Mr. Potter," Fudge addressed as he sat back up in his chair. "Why did your Uncle lock you in a cupboard that night? Did he know they were coming?" he asked, his eyes dancing with confusion. Harry shook his head quickly. "No, he had no idea they would come. He locked me in there every night ever since I came into their house. It's where I slept. They didn't want the neighbors to think that they were harboring an 'unnatural freak,' so they tried to keep me out of sight as much as possible."
Everyone in the audience stared at the young boy in shock, not even daring to wonder why on Earth they had thought it acceptable. A cupboard was no place for a young boy to grow up in, and his small stature now made since to the audience. "You said that they tried to keep you out of sight, Mr. Potter," Fudge said slowly, leaning forward and dropping his volume. "What else did they do to you, Harry?" he asked softly, and Harry dropped his head into his lap.
"I did all the housework, the cooking and cleaning. Everything always had to be spotless, neat, and tidy. If I didn't do a good enough job, then I was…punished," he said softly. Fudge's mind was reeling, but he tried to keep focus. "What did those punishments entail Mr. Potter?" he asked, his voice soft and caring, like one a father would use with his small child. Harry didn't answer, didn't even look up. "Harry, did they beat you?" he asked softly, and Harry finally looked up. Tears were pooling in his verdant eyes, and these he didn't have to fake. Genuine grief swept through him at the thought of his misspent youth, and several tears leaked down onto his lap. "Yes," he said softly, and then dropped his eyes once more. He began to shake with silent sobs, and Isaac sent soothing caresses over him, helping to calm him down.
Fudge and the rest of the Wizengamot were now extremely incensed. The rumors had now been confirmed, and Dumbledore was in a heap of trouble. Speaking of which; "Mr. Potter, did you never receive word from your magical guardian?" Fudge asked. Harry's eyes shot up, his gaze confused. "Who?" he asked.
"Your magical guardian! The one who was supposed to ensure you were in good health! Are you saying he never appeared?" Fudge asked incredulously. Harry's eyes darkened, and anger began to appear behind them. "No. I never, in all my life, received a visit from anyone in the magical community, nor had any knowledge whatsoever of my origination. Who is my guardian?" he asked, his teeth now grinding together at the thought that someone could have saved him. Fudge looked down at his notes before pulling out a strip of paper. "It says here that the magical guardian of Harry Potter, is none other than Albus Dumbledore!" he announced, and many in the audience gasped in shock.
Harry's jaw dropped. All this time, the old man was supposed to be looking out for him. All this time, he could have been free. But the old man had turned his back on him.
"You mean, he could have stopped this?" he asked, Isaac's anger now seeping into his voice. The angel was even more infuriated than Harry, if that was possible, and was now threatening to take over the vessel. "You're saying that Dumbledore could have stopped them? He could have helped me?" he shouted, his voice echoing in the chamber as he slammed his fists down on the chair in outrage. "Then why didn't he? Why did he leave to those monsters?" Harry cried frantically, and Fudge realized that he might need to gain control of the situation again. "Dumbledore is not our concern right now Harry, but this new information will certainly be helpful later."
But Harry was by now frantic, and his eyes were threatening to turn white as Isaac's rage built up. "He could have helped me! They starved me, beat me, made me feel like I was a waste of space, a FREAK! And he could have stopped it? How is that not my concern, Minister?!"
Harry's scream forced the audience flinched as the righteous anger poured from the boy before them. "Harry," Fudge said softly, as if he were calming a wounded animal. "We are sorry that we were not able to save you. But shouting will not turn back the clock, nor will it undo what has been done to you. Our job is not to focus on your past, but to ensure your future, and we need your help to do it. Can you do that for us?" Cornelius Fudge asked, his voice calming the raging fires of grace and magic that were boiling over inside of Harry, and the boy slowly relaxed.
"Yes," he said finally, and his whole form seemed to deflate, highlighting just how small and frail he was. Fudge banged his gavel down on the placard, and announced in a loud voice, "Hearing adjourned!"
He had to duck his head as tears of his own welled in his eyes, and he quietly dismissed himself as the Wizengamot disbanded.
"But I don't see the reason for this!" Ms. Weasley exclaimed as she addressed the court. "We were recommended by the boy's magical guardian, surely that must count for something?" she said loudly, and Fudge shook his head again. "I'm sorry Ms. Weasley, but as I have said before, the court cannot, in good conscience, hand over another child to a family as large and financially depleted as your own, especially in this case!" he said firmly.
This was the seventh family to try to gain custody of Harry Potter, and Fudge was becoming frustrated. So far, he had had to turn away four wealthy but pompous families, who he recognized as only wanting the heightened power that would come of having the boy who lived as their ward, the Malfoys being especially keen on getting a hold of Harry; two foreign families, one French, one German; and now the Weasleys, who were quite possibly the poorest pureblood family in the British Isles. It was absurd.
Ms. Weasley huffed and folded her arms, before striding out of the courtroom, her face a mask of dignified disgrace. "Next," he called. He looked up in surprise as an old woman came marching in wearing robes made of old fur and a hat with a dead vulture atop it. Behind her came a small boy, larger than Harry but still no older than eleven. "The Longbottom family?" he asked himself, and he quickly settled down to observe. "Please state your names for the court," called the secretary, and surprisingly it was the boy who answered. "Neville and Augusta Longbottom, here to request guardianship of Harry Potter!" he announced, and his grandmother nodded in agreement as she quietly conjured a chair for herself to rest her aching bones on. Harry waved to Neville from where he sat on the far side of the courtroom, near the end of the male side of the Wizengamot, and the other boy smiled back.
Fudge nodded as the secretary recorded their names. "Why do you think that you would be good candidates to take over Harry Potter's care?" he asked, and again it was surprisingly Neville who stepped forward. "I represent the Longbottom family when I say that we hold nothing but respect towards Harry, and would do nothing to harm him under any circumstances," he began, turning to look at Harry. "I have been Harry's dorm mate and friend for the past semester at Hogwarts, and in that time I have seen nothing but a good, loyal friend who will do anything for the people he loves." His words were for the audience, but he still faced Harry as he spoke, looking at him with his unwaveringly calm deep, deep brown eyes. "The Longbottom family is quite well off, seeing as we only have to care for two of our members, and we have quite extensive grounds upon which we have built our home."
He turned away from Harry to face Fudge, all trace of his normally bumbling nature gone, replaced by a cool, calculating pureblood. "I can assure the court that Harry will be lacking for nothing should he agree to become a member of our family," he said, his eyes shifting over the crowd as he looked at each member in turn. "Not in money. Not in food, water, shelter, knowledge, or anything he desires. And one of the most important aspects: he will be loved for and cared for as one of our own. I will look after him as if he were my own flesh and blood, and ensure that he is well taken care of and guided. Does that satisfy the court's wishes?" he asked, looking around at the whole Wizengamot with his almost black eyes, before redirecting them to Fudge. "It does," the Minister said, before raising his right hand. "All in favor of allowing guardianship of Harry Potter be entrusted to the Longbottom family?" he asked. Almost everyone in the crowd raised their right hand high. "All opposed?" he asked, and all but three members kept their hands down.
Turning his gaze, Fudge looked down on Harry with concern. "Mr. Potter, the final judgement is up to you. Do you wish to go with this family?" he asked. Harry stood up, his green eyes locked with the brown-black of Neville's own orbs. "I do," he said softly, before striding across the floor and stopping before Neville and extending his hand to the taller boy. Neville smiled, and accepted the handshake. "Welcome to the family, Harry," he whispered, and Harry smiled up at him before turning to face the Minister again.
Fudge stood up in his chair and looked down upon the three people before him. "Therefore, let it be written that magical guardianship of one Harry Potter will pass to the head of the Longbottom Family, as long as the line continues."
A solid blue glow suddenly highlighted the three people, marking them as family members and solidifying it in their magic. Harry's name would still be Potter (he was still the last remaining heir of that line) but from now on the courts would recognize Neville and Augusta as his next of kin. "Congratulations. Please sign the adoption papers outside in the hall. Mr. Potter's personal items will be relocated to the Longbottom estate at the end of their term at Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Are there any last remarks that need to be said?" he asked, glancing around the audience. When there were no hands, he smiled and raised his gavel. "In that case, I call this court adjourned!"
And with that, he brought his mallet down on the placard, and the sharp rap echoed around the room. Neville, his grandmother, and Harry all moved out the exit to where a table stood waiting for them. As the signatures appeared on the pages, Harry was embraced by his now foster brother. "Welcome to the family, little brother," Neville whispered into Harry's ear, and Harry nodded in excitement. Isaac, however, was looking oddly at the boy. There was something eerily familiar about him for some reason.
Far above them, hidden in the rafters, a pair of ruby and golden eyes peered down at them. "Well, all's well that ends well, right Matt?" Fawkes asked, looking at the hugging pair with interest. "Yes, I suppose so," the hat replied distantly, his eyes never leaving the youngest Longbottom. There was something familiar about the way he acted, some spark that seemed to be drawing the angel in. His thoughts were interrupted as the phoenix snapped his fingers in front of his face, unintentionally producing a small spark of flame. "Hey, wake up. No sleeping while you're on my head!" Fawkes said, his wings rustling in mild irritation. Matthew nodded, and then clamped down on the phoenixes head as flames erupted around them and Fawkes brought his wings down in a mighty flap.
Suddenly, they were outside, looking at a glorious sunset. The hues of the setting sun glistened gorgeously on the firebird's wings and tails, and the heat made him feel alive. "Why do you always watch the sunset and sunrise?" Matthew asked, confused at the bird's odd behavior. Fawkes let out a chuckle, before he sat down on the edge of the roof they were located on. Matthew noted with some trepidation that they were on top of big bend, and Fawkes was dangling his feet over the clock face.
"It's a ritual all phoenixes enjoy," he said softly, his wings splaying out behind him to try to soak up the sun's warmth. "Legend has it that the first phoenix in creation was the one who made the sun," he said, his tails flicking idly as he watched the sun dip down even further towards the horizon. "He was the first one, the alpha of our race. So bright, so powerful, capable of burning whole continents to ashes and lighting up even the darkest of places. At one time, god asked him to help him wipe the slate clean, so the alpha burned the earth while god made it anew." Fawkes chuckled, pulling his right wing forward and plucking out a few stray feathers.
"That's how the dinosaurs actually died out," he said, causing Matthew to jump in surprise. That was a phoenix? Fawkes continued speaking. "But the alpha! He was so beautiful that even god's archangels would stop and marvel at him whenever they saw him. However, he, like everything else in this world, must come to an end, so one day he died. God, however, took his still burning body and placed it high in the sky, forming the core of the sun. And so whenever we, his children, are in doubt, we look to the sky. Where the wild winds tear across the clouds, and the first of our race, our father, our alpha phoenix, still burns brightly!"
Fawkes spoke with such awe in his voice that Matthew had no choice but to believe him. He had never heard the tale of the alpha phoenix, but he was fascinated to hear it. "So you draw power from the sun?" Matthew asked. Fawkes grinned a little. "We draw strength from the courage and nobility of humans. They burn with fierce power, and the desire to remain alive. As long as the sun burns bright in the sky, and the hearts of men remain true, then so will we!" he said with pride, and with that he stood up and leaped off the edge of Big Bend, spreading his wings and tails to catch the updraft. Within minutes, he was flying above the clouds in the direction of the sun, trying to chase the dying day.
"I love being free," he whispered as he soared through the air, his flames flying out around him as he tried to compete with the sun. Matthew smiled. "Is there any particular place you'd like to go?" he asked, and the phoenix suddenly twisted in midair to stop, hovering on a thermal. "Well, there is one place I've always wanted to go, but I've never had the opportunity!" he said happily, before turning and plunging straight down through the air. "Where's that?" asked the hat, looking a little alarmed as flames began to engulf Fawkes' entire body. Suddenly, he felt the world shift as the phoenix flash teleported, and they were suddenly plunging down towards a whole different skyline.
A sprawling metropolis met them, with huge skyscrapers and busy streets. Two rivers ran around the perimeter of the city, and to the east lay an ocean, forming an island. "Hello NEW YORK CITY!" Fawkes shouted as he plummeted down, his joyous cry ringing out for all to hear.
Matthew let out a laugh as well, and gripped the phoenix harder as he swept by the Empire State Building. "Oh, Fawkes, you don't get out very much. But when you do, you go out in style!" he cried over the whistling of the wind. Fawkes let out a laugh of his own. "You know it old man!" he cried, before angling down to land on top of a building.
A man looked up from where he was drinking a beer in a bar, his gaze captured by the sight of a small boy landing on top of a parking garage across from him. He set down his beer and left a tip, before stepping out of the bar and hopping into his pickup truck. Adjusting the mirror, he looked into it to see dark curly hair and dark brown eyes staring back at him. Revving the truck, the man took off.
John Winchester had just found himself a hunt.
Boom! Oh yeah, I went there. Looks like they're going to have a busy summer! Sorry for all of you who were hoping that Harry would move in with Draco, but I've got different plans for those two that will come into play later. Also, I'm glad you guys like Fawkes, and you're going to be seeing a lot more of him soon. Hope you've been having a good summer!
Favorite, Follow, and please, PLEASE, REVIEW! Thanks- Arudon