Title: Book Four
Series: What Happened To Harry Potter?
Category: AU, Drama, Angst,
Ratings: PG-13, for now
Pairings: Ron/Hermione, Harry/Astoria, pre-slash Harry/Draco,
Spoilers: Up through Goblet of Fire
Summary: Harry starts his Fourth year off with bang. The World Cup is just the start of it all though. Harry finds out that there is someone at Hogwarts that wants to give him to the Dark Lord. Is there a clever plot being done by a Death Eater?
Words: (Not Completed At This Time)
Notes: Unless stated in the story, please think that it happened the same way it did in the book. Of course, I wouldn’t want to get into plagiarism and I really didn’t want to change everything about the story so I assume that you can all fill in the blanks.
Warnings: I am twisting things. Also there may be some lines from the movies but that is mainly because I found them absolutely hilarious.
Chapter Twenty One-Summer Time Blues
Harry had dreams over the course of the summer. They were the same nearly every time that he had them. Harry wasn’t really scared by them. He just figured it was something left over from living with his Aunt and Uncle. It was more of a puzzle to him than anything else. The fact that he was never able to enter the room that he was walking towards.
“Harry! Your breakfast is getting cold. You’d better come downstairs now!” Severus called from the kitchen. Harry knew that if he didn’t get downstairs soon, his father would send his Patronus after him to herd him downstairs. He had it happen quite a bit over the summer. His schoolwork was long over. Each lesson was completed to the exacting standards of his father. Each essay was completed to O.W.L standards.
“Coming!” Harry yelled as he jumped out of his bed. He had been up for hours. Had even dressed for the day but had laid back down to think of the dream. Harry dashed out of his room and down the steps just outside his door. He had the only room the top floor. It was a small villa they lived in. Harry had been to Spinner’s End a few times when Severus had to put in an appearance there when someone showed up. House Elves were living there and making it seem like he lived there. They walked a fine line in keeping Harry’s life a secret. No one could suspect that Severus was the one raising Harry until the time was right. Harry didn’t know when that was going to be. Severus just kept telling him that they would know when the time is right.
“It may be summer but you are not lying in bed all day long.”
“I wasn’t. I was thinking.” Harry looked at his father and his face told Harry that he didn’t believe him. Harry sighed. “I was thinking about my form.”
“I see. What about it?”
“James was a Stag. You’ve told me his Patronus was as well. Mom’s Patronus was a doe. Then there is you. Your Patronus is a doe as well but your form is that of a raven.”
“That’s because I became a Animagus to hide. Ravens hide very well. Deer can’t hide as well. Your father became an Animagus to help keep Remus in line. Your form is of some medium-sized four-legged beast. You need to concentrate to finish forming all the way. That is what we are going to work on.”
“How long did it take James to learn?”
“Three years but he also worked on it all the time. You’ve been working on it for five years but you were much younger when you started and less driven than him. You are still very powerful in taking this short of time to learn.”
“Will we work on it today?”
“Yes. After breakfast. Then at lunch I have to meet with Dumbledore. He wants to talk about whom he is going to hire as a Defense teacher. I think he is leaning towards Moody.”
“He is also concerned with how things are progressing. And there is something else that is happening this year at school. I will tell you when I have confirmed it is happening.”
“Draco wants me to come over. You’ve been putting him off all summer. I haven’t seen him at all.”
“Harry, I don’t think Malfoy Manor is safe right now. There is too much chance of someone arriving. I’ve told you no.”
“What if I invited him here? I could write to him and have him Floo here.”
“Harry.” Severus’s tone was one that usually scared the students who he taught but Harry was lonely and hadn’t seen anyone all summer. It was only a week until the World Cup and Harry was going to be going to it but he wanted company now.
“I trust him and so do you. We can put an Unbreakable Vow on him. Make him swear he will never tell. I need someone that I can be around and trust with everything.”
Severus looked at his son. He was just turned fourteen. Only three more years until he was a man in Wizarding culture. Harry showed a maturity that most wizards didn’t get until they were in his or her twenties was time to let Harry start growing and making his own choices. He had taught the boy everything that he could. Harry could defend himself and with Remus’s help could cast a Patronus charm.
“You can go to Malfoy Manor and retrieve Draco. Have his father Apparate you both to the village on the other side of the forest. I will retrieve you from there. After you…” Severus did not need to finish his statement. Harry shoveled down the rest of his food. He jumped up from his seat and hugged his father before he dashed to the fireplace. Thirty seconds later, he was falling out of the fireplace in Malfoy Manor.
“Master Harry. Please stay here, I will go fetch Young Master Malfoy.” Dobby rushed out of the room and closed the door behind him. Harry was in the guest waiting area. Harry knew that once Draco and Mr. Malfoy knew that he was here, they would fetch him and hide him away. It was not safe here.
Just a minute later the door opened again.
“I am sorry to bother, Mistress but I could not find either of the Master Malfoys. I dared not let him wait any longer.”
“It’s fine, Dobby. Harry, please come with me. I will let Lucius and Draco know that you are here.” Narcissa Malfoy waved her arm for Harry to walk in front of her. “How long will you be staying?”
“Not long I am afraid. After last year and with the Ministry trying to force me to go with them. Father doesn’t trust me staying here. He knows that you would protect me but he doesn’t want to chance someone seeing me here.”
“Understandable. Then why are you here?”
“Father is allowing me to take Draco back to the house.”
“And see who he is?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I am afraid that Father will put him under and Unbreakable Vow. Father agrees that I need to form allegiances of my own and choose those who I will have stand with me.”
“And what of Miss Granger and Mister Weasley?”
“We fear what Voldemort would do to Hermione to get her cooperation if they ever even thought that she knew. Same with Ron. To them he would be a Blood-traitor. There are very dark ways of breaking a Unbreakable Vow.”
“And you would put Draco at this danger?” Narcissa asked with a smile on her face.
“It is his choice. He is the one who chose to befriend a young Muggle on the play ground even though he knew that it would be the wrong choice for his image that he was putting out.”
“Harry, it will take Draco and his father several minutes for them to get here. I want to have a word with you.” Narcissa opened a door to a room that Harry had never been inside of. Harry looked around. It was a sitting room of some sorts. “How is your Godfather going?”
“He is doing well. Remus has convinced him to get some form of counseling. He finally has his house affairs in order. The house at Grimmauld Place is finally cleaned up to his liking.”
“That is good. I shall have to call upon my cousin soon.”
“Cousin?” Harry asked with surprise all over his face.
“Draco has never told you? Well I am a Black. I am Narcissa Black-Malfoy. I wish now that I had had the courage when I was younger to do like Sirius did. His mother kicked him out when he was not out of school. He went to live with your grandmother and grandfather. I have something for you. When your parents were killed the Death Eaters sacked the house. This was taken as a prize and given to Lucius. I think that it is time it was given to you.” Narcissa picked up a ring from a table in the middle of the room. She handed it to Harry. Harry knew what it was. It was the Potter Family ring. Worn by the patriarch of the family. Which now was him.
“You are welcome. Lucius never comes in here. It is my personal space in the Manor. I think we should dead out now. They are probably looking for us.” She opened the door and there stood Draco.
“There you are! Come on I have so much that I want to show you! We got some new books in.”
“Draco, I can’t stay. You can come with me though. If one of your parents agrees to Apparate us to a secure location.”
“Secure location?” Lucius said coming up behind them in the hall.
“Yes. Draco is going to spend the day at Harry’s house.”
“Your father has allowed this?” Lucius queried with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes, Sir. Draco would be asked to take an Unbreakable Vow to hide both where I live and whom I live with.”
“Yes!” Draco said. Lucius smiled down at his son.
“Fine then. Where am I to take you?”
Harry told him the name of the town and Lucius nodded. He held out both his hands and the boys gripped one each. Harry closed his eyes and held his breath. It was only a few seconds and they were there. Lucius looked around.
“This doesn’t seem very secure.”
“This is just a way point. Father is going to get us from here.”
“Lucius, Draco!” Severus called out from the trees. Draco turned to look at Harry while Harry stared at his father in shock. “Fine day we are having!”
“All the better for secrets!” Lucius answered back. He smiled and shook Severus’s hand when he got close enough.
“Uncle?” Draco asked. He finally pulled his eyes away from Harry to look at Severus.
“I am sorry for all the cloak and dagger but Harry just could not wait to see Draco.”
“Its fine. I think that Narcissa is at home having fits of laughter.”
“You knew?” Harry asked Lucius. Lucius just nodded.
“I didn’t think that you would recognize me. I was the old man that watched over you. That’s why you never really saw him that much unless he was watching you. Your father trusted me above all else with his secret. I’ve long been under an Unbreakable Vow.”
Harry looked at his father sharply.
“He was my ace in the hole as it were. I could trust him to protect you if I couldn’t. I’ve always told you that when it came to your protection that I would be very strict.”
“Why the ruse then?” Draco asked.
“In case someone was listening in. One never knows who or what is in a house. Even one as protected as the Manor. We have no one ever enter our house so it is safer.”
“We best be going. Draco, Harry please?” Severus held out his hands. Each boy took a hand and held it. They closed their eyes and in a few seconds they were at Harry’s house.
The day blurred by as Harry showed Draco around the small house and the larger grounds. The gardens were extensive. Severus grew nearly all his ingredients on his own, preferring not to buy anything that he did not have to. Later that night after dinner, Harry and Draco spent a few hours on their brooms.
When it was time for Draco to leave, Harry stayed at the house while Severus flooed him home. Now that all was revealed between the two families it would be much easier for Draco to come over to Harry’s and spend the day.
It took a while for Harry to go to bed that night. He didn’t want to go to sleep, afraid of his dreams but also he was too hyper to sleep. It was only a week until the World Cup and Harry couldn’t wait.
Chapter Twenty Two-Information
Harry woke up the day before the World Cup and he almost flew out of bed. Ron and his father were going to be meeting him in Diagon Alley later that day and then they would head to the Burrow. Harry was already packed. He was going to be staying with them until the start of the school year. Dumbledore had Severus going out and trying to find information on Voldemort.
Harry dressed himself and went down to breakfast. Severus was sitting at the table. There was no paper of book in his hand and his own breakfast was only half eaten. There was something wrong. Severus looked up at him with a frown on his face.
“Harry, I am glad that I have taught you what I have taught you. This year at Hogwarts is going to be a trial for you. I have just gotten a letter from a old friend of mine. He wants to meet up at the game tomorrow. This will not spell any good for you or for I but I must go along with this to keep my cover.”
“He had not given me his name but with what he has told me it is someone that should be dead.”
“I see. You will be careful right?”
“Yes, Harry I will be. I want you to be careful tomorrow as well. I fear what could happen with all those people together.”
“Take the map with you. I fear trying to get it inside the castle.”
“I will. Is it still on your nightstand?”
“Yes. I will keep my wand on me at all points in time tomorrow. No one will touch it. I also have my spells and other protections down. No one will touch me.”
“There will be a lot of people from the Ministry there tomorrow and I worry.”
“Mr. Weasley got us a box to ourselves. We invited Neville and his grandmother to join us in the box as well.”
“Good. I think we both need to eat and then start packing this place up for the school year. It shouldn’t take long with magic.”
It took them several hours but they finished in record time. The elves would keep the house clean but there was no trace of Severus or Harry in the house. Severus had made a small batch of Polyjuice Potion in preparation of them leaving. Harry hated taking the stuff but they couldn’t take any chances.
“Masters ready to leave?” Zook asked from the doorway of the kitchen. Harry turned to look at the House Elf. He was going to miss the little guy.
“Yes. We are. I have already discussed the changes in security with the rest of the House Elves. Let me know the moment that anything happens. If one blade of grass is disrupted and you don’t think it was an animal, you let me know.”
“Yes, Master Severus. This house will find no one gets close to it.”
Severus patted Zook on the head. Zook smiled at them both before he left the room. Harry looked around the kitchen. It was going to be the last time he would see it for over nine months. Harry had a feeling that it also could be the last time they were at their little villa for even longer than that.
“This is the year that’s going to change everything isn’t it?”
“Yes, I fear that it will. We won’t be like we are here after this year. Harry remembered above all else that I love you and will keep you safe.”
“I know, Father. We should go. Mr. Weasley is expecting me anytime now in Diagon Alley.”
“Go get your things and shrink them. Meet me outside of the garden.”
Harry went up the steps into the upstairs. He walked slowly. Cementing the place in his mind. He wouldn’t forget any of this place. No scent, sound, or sight. Dread filled Harry’s stomach as he walked out of the house minutes later with his belongings in his pockets all shrunk to manageable size.
Severus said nothing as Harry looked back at the house one last time. Each year as more and more bad things happened to Harry it was harder and harder for Harry leave at the start of each school year. Severus knew that if not for himself being at the school, Harry would want to go to another school. Away from the touch of Voldemort and his followers. Severus himself could not leave. It was not safe. He knew even all those years ago that Voldemort was not dead. Defeated for a long time but not dead.
Severus had to stay in England. Therefore Harry stayed in England.
“I’m ready, Father.” Harry said breaking Severus out of his pondering.
Diagon Alley was busy as it usually was during summer. Children were everywhere. Harry didn’t have any fear of being recognized. They both looked like a set of Muggles from the village that was over thirty miles from their house. There hadn’t been a witch or wizard in the village in over forty years.
It was hard to miss Arthur Weasley and his four sons standing near the entrance to Gringotts Bank. Each had a bright head of red hair. Ron had gotten taller over the summer and so had the twins. Charlie though was the same as ever. Charlie for some reason got a big grin over his face and ran forward. He grabbed Severus’s hand and pumped it a few times before he dropped it and hugged Harry.
“Harry! So good to see you. It’s been forever.”
“Charlie? Why aren’t you in Romania?”
“I’m here to see the World Cup and work has me stationed here for a while.”
“It is as we feared?” Severus asked. Charlie nodded. Severus sighed and placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“Father?” Harry asked.
“It is something that does not effect you but there is something happening at the school this year.”
Harry nodded. It didn’t effect him and he knew that if his father could tell him he would so it was of no consequence.
“Son how did you?” Arthur asked. Charlie turned to smile at his father. He looked around and then looked back at his father. “You’re right. Not here. Is Harry ready to go?”
“Yes. He has all the money he should need and knows how to contact me if it is needed.” Severus turned his son to face him and gave him a giant hug. He kissed Harry on the forehead and then stepped back. He looked behind the Weasley’s and his eyes got very wide. Harry looked over and there stood Kingsley Shacklebolt.
“Mr. Weasley?” Shacklebolt asked as he looked at Harry and Severus in their disguises. He drew his wand and aimed it at them. Harry smiled at them as Severus Disapparated. Harry could feel himself starting to change. The potion was wearing off. Shacklebolt’s eyes grew very wide as Harry fully changed into looking like himself. “Mr. Potter. I assume that was your father?”
“Yes, Sir. I am sure that at some point you might be able to catch him if you leave now but his trail will disappear.”
“Actually I am under orders to detain you if I see you. The Minister seems to think that your father will come to save you if we have you. I think that that is a war that we don’t want to start right now. Arthur please take him before someone sees us.”
Arthur nodded and whisked Harry away. Just at the edge of the Bank, Charlie touched Harry and they were gone. Apparated away. They appeared on the hill just at the edge of the Weasley’s property. Seconds later, Arthur, Ron, Fred, and George appeared beside them.
“Hermione is already here,” Ron said he stepped up beside Harry. Charlie didn’t let go of Harry’s arm as the rest of the Weasley’s started towards the house.
“We leave early in the morning. With what Shacklebolt said…I don’t think that they will go after you tomorrow but they might. Please be ready. Have your wand out and be ready to change.”
“Father has been keeping in touch has he?”
“Yes, he has.” Charlie looked up and saw that Arthur was waiting for them outside the house. They both started walking.
“You know who his father is then?”
“Yes, I have known for quite some time. I am out of the influence of the Ministry and of Dumbledore but yet close enough that I could help if needed. If it is needed I am allowed to tell you who he is, in an emergency.”
“Harry really is safe with him? That reporter for the Daily Prophet writes that Harry is continually under the Imperious Curse and is in the clutches of a Death Eater. I know that one shouldn’t trust the word of Rita Skeeter but she is the only giving us any input on the subject. I just want to make sure that he is safe.”
“He is the safest child in the world.”
“She really writes that?” Harry asked. He hadn’t been reading the paper much that summer. There had been too much other things for him to do.
“Yes. The majority of the rest Wizarding World believes it as well. There are letters coming into the Ministry all the time demanding that you be saved from your father. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the people that we see tomorrow are worried about you in an unnatural way.”
Harry nodded at Arthur and walked into the house. He was lost in thought the rest of the evening. He talked at dinner about the upcoming match but didn’t listen much to what the others were saying when they weren’t talking about the match.
He went to bed when told that night but he didn’t get much sleep. He was wondering about the next day. He wasn’t prepared for hearing that the rest of the world thought that he was a slave to a Death Eater.
The next day dawned bright and early. Even though Harry had not gotten that much sleep he was rested. The dreams hadn’t come to him that night. There was no dream of a house and an old man.
Harry spent a hour sitting outside the house, before the rest of the house really woke up thinking and shoring up his mind. There was bound to many Aurors there, one the job and not. He wanted to make sure that no one got into his mind. His Occlumency skills had only gotten better with age and practice. As his magic level grew though he found that it was easier to defend his mind.
“Harry?” Arthur asked.
Harry turned around to look at him. He smiled at the older man. “I was just gathering my thoughts before we headed out.”
“Dumbledore has told me that you are a skilled Occlumens and Legilimens. I am sure that that is how you are able to keep your secrets from everyone.”
“Yes, Sir. My father has never tried but he figures that thorough my stubbornness I would be able to throw off the Imperious Curse.”
“Lets hope that is something that you never have to figure out.”
“Yes. How long until we leave?”
“Molly is getting the rest of the kids up. Percy, Charlie, and Bill are going to have a bit of a lie in. They are going to Apparate to the game later.”
“Are we going by Port Key?”
“Yes. We have to go a little early. Some of the people with tickets have to go weeks ahead. Our box is in a great place. We will be able to see lots of things really well.”
“I am glad.” Harry stood up and walked into the kitchen. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and the Twins were seated at the table. They were dressed but they didn’t look quite awake. Harry sat down beside Ron and looked over at the twins. The only thing of interest that happened that morning was that Molly blew up at the twins about some jokes they invented that they were trying to smuggle out of the house to take with them. Harry laughed inside at them. They had both wrote him a letter and gave him an order form months ago. Harry hadn’t ordered anything yet but he wanted to order some of the fake wands they had created. Before he knew it breakfast was over and they started on their way to the World Cup.
Chapter Twenty Three-World Cup
The hill where the Portkey was waiting on them wasn’t too far away but it did wake the rest of group up. Ron and the twins were debating by the time they got to the top of the hill.
“Here they are!” Amos Diggory called. He pocketed his watch and held up an old boot. “Wonderful to see you all. Harry, Ron, Arthur.”
“You know my son and Harry?”
“Yes, last year, we were one of the ones that were not able to make it into Platform 9 and ¾.”
“I see. Well we are a minute off. Are we waiting for any others?”
“The Lovegoods have been there for weeks and the Fawcetts couldn’t get tickets. No others in the area are there?”
The nine wizards crowded around the boot and touched whatever they could to it. Arthur counted down the seconds until the Portkey activated. Harry knew the sensation of it activating. It felt like about a minute of travel and they arrived. Harry watched as Arthur got their campsite down. It was not that far of a walk but they had to pass many people on their way. Some looked at his but didn’t recognize him. Most knew exactly who he was and he could tell that by the looks of pity on their faces. Harry knew that a mob was going to be outside of their tents in a just a while. Long enough for them to rally themselves and enough people around.
“Mr. Weasley, can we hurry? I don’t like the looks of the crowd.”
“Yes, I think that would be a good thing. I’ll just get the tents set up with magic and we will be set. Why don’t you girls go and find water. Harry stick close to me.”
Harry did stay close. He helped Arthur when he could. He knew that strictly speaking magic wasn’t supposed to be use but Harry knew that he was using it to save time and to get Harry in the tent as quick as possible. There were other displays of magic all around and theirs was the tamest.
It only took about ten minutes to get the two separate tents up. Harry was pretty sure they were wizard tents. Otherwise the Weasley males and Harry would not fit inside. Harry had heard about the tents and read about them but he had never been inside one.
Harry was not disappointed about what it looked like. It may have had a strange odor of cats but it was still wonderful. Next was getting things ready for dinner. Harry showed Arthur how to get the fire ready for them to cook on. The rest of the family came just as lunch was ready.
Harry watched many of the wizards and witches pass the tent. Most he knew by sight. He never let on that he knew who they were. After the attempted kidnapping at the start of the summer his father wanted him to be able to recognize Ministry officials. The ones he really knew were the Unspeakables from the Department of Mysteries. Those faces he memorized for this reason alone. They were the ones who had a hold of the Prophecy that sent Voldemort after him. Harry hadn’t heard all of the Prophecy, just what his father had over heard.
Harry heard the group of Wizards long before they were in sight. Harry recognized Ludo Bagman instantly. The man was a lot older looking than the picture Harry had seen of him from his Quidditch days. Harry didn’t listen much as the adults talked and gambled. Harry was watching the crowds around the tent. He saw lots of looks coming their way.
Harry was correct in thinking it wouldn’t take long. About five minutes after Bagman left they all heard a giant uproar.
“He’s over here!” Harry heard at least one person cry out. Harry pulled out his wand quickly and hid it in his sleeve. Arthur looked unsure of what it was that was going on. Harry knew. The rest of the Wizarding world was going to try to butt in on his life.
“Ah, Harry, I was wondering if you would like to come and talk to me?” Fudge asked as he neared the camp. Arthur stood up and smiled at the Minister.
“Actually, Minister I am quite happy where I am.”
“Then how about we all go inside Arthur’s tent to talk away from the eyes of the rest of the Wizarding World.”
“Sure,” Harry said as he opened the flap of the tent to let them pass. Fudge, Shacklebolt, Tonks, and Dawlish entered first with the Weasley’s, Hermione, and Harry entering last. Harry made sure that he was near the door. He wasn’t going to be taken against his will. He watched as wards were placed on the tent. Harry was sure that no one would be able to hear what was being said inside.
“Harry, why do you blindly follow your father?” Fudge asked. Harry laughed. Fudge looked at him shocked. “What did I say that was so funny?”
“I blindly follow no one, Minister. I have seen all of my father laid bare for me. I have seen the last of his memories this past summer. I have watched in a Pensieve all his life. I have seen him take Veritaserum. I don’t care what you think you are being told and who is telling you. There is no better person to raise me.”
“Harry, you must understand that I only care for your well being. You have to see that unless I can verify that you are safe, I cannot allow you to go home,” Fudge said.
Harry knew who was bending the Minister’s ear. It was Dumbledore. The man was still trying to make Harry into a little puppet.
“What you need to understand Minister is that I am a child. I have been with my father for seven years. Don’t you think that in that time a mistake would have been made if my father was a Death Eater? That he would have killed me before now after I have defeated Voldemort several times over the past three years. I have stopped him from coming back twice now. I don’t think I would have if I was under the Imperious Curse, do you?”
“Well Harry those claims have to be checked.” Fudge was looking nervous.
Harry looked at Fudge and smiled. He locked his eyes with Fudge and concentrated. “You don’t want to mess with me, Fudge. I can snap your mind in an instant.”
“I see. I think that I am done here. Potter, you will hear from me again. And soon.” Fudge swept out of the room with a quickness that no one had seen in quite a while. Arthur looked over at Harry. Charlie slung his arm around Harry and pulled him off to the side. The rest of the kids left the tent and let Charlie and Arthur talk to Harry alone.
“Harry?” Arthur asked.
“I may have done something that he didn’t like.” Harry looked at Arthur and then hung his head. “He had to know that I wasn’t someone that he could control. He had to know that it would be hard to control me. That was the only way. I think that I don’t have to worry the rest of the World Cup about his Aurors trying to take me.”
“Did you do what I think you did?” Charlie asked. Harry nodded as Charlie sighed. “I have to write to your father you know.”
“I know. I had to do it. He can yell at me all he likes. Out here I have to do what I can to save myself. He’s no where near me.”
“What did you do?”
“I may have used Legilimency on him.”
“HARRY!” Arthur yelled. Arthur started mumbling about Azkaban and others things like that Harry stopped listening to him.
“You have much to answer for young pup. I think we need to meet and talk.”
“You weren’t here.”
“There is other news. I will at your tent in ten minutes. Arthur, Charlie, Hermione, and Ron should be there as well. I think it is time they saw me for who I am.”
“Yes, Father.” Harry looked over at Charlie and Arthur. “Charlie, Ron and Hermione need to come in here. There is some news that my father tells me we need to know.”
“Your father?” Arthur asked. Harry nodded but didn’t say anything. He was waiting for Ron and Hermione to come into the tent. Just two minutes later they entered. Harry used his wand and cast a few charms against the tent.
“I have to get promises from all three of you. That you will hear me and my father out and not say anything until we are done explaining.”
“Of course,” Arthur said. Harry looked over at Ron and Hermione and they both nodded.
“When I was first taken I rebelled against the man who had taken me. My aunt had shown me a picture of him when he was younger and told me that if I saw him I was to run away from him. That was the only thing that my Aunt ever cared about when it came to me. Then I found out why. He was a wizard. The exact same one that introduced my mother to magic. She was afraid that he would take me and teach me magic. That’s when my father started showing me his memories. Right before I started Hogwarts he showed me everything, except about Sirius Black. That was the only thing he never showed me. This man is everything to me. He is my father in everything but blood.”
“Harry, are we going to meet him as he really is?”
“Yes, of course.” Harry said as the noise from outside started to get louder.
“Professor Snape, what are you doing here?” One of the twins asked.
“I have come to talk to your father about you two and how you are really doing in school,” Severus answered from outside. The tent opened and Severus stepped inside.
“Professor Snape, to what do we owe the pleasure?” Arthur asked as he stepped forward to shake Severus’s hand.
“Actually the twins have not been that bad. I come on another matter all together.”
“No,” Hermione said. Every one turned to look at her. Severus smiled.
“You are the brightest witch of your age, Miss Granger. You have guessed right.”
“What?” Ron asked. He looked between Hermione and Severus.”
“I am Harry’s guardian.”
“No. You can’t be. He…but…”
“I grew up with Lily. Even though she hated what I had become she still trusted that I would protect her son. She came to me right before she went into hiding and told me that if she and James were to die that I was to find the child and protect him from my then Master. It took me seven years to find him. I would never have thought that Dumbledore would have stuck him with magic hating Muggles. I arrived just days before the attack on the house. I found Harry outside weeding a garden. His aunt yelled at him to finish up so that he could start Dudley’s lunch. I stayed and watched for two days. Then I saw a Death Eater arrive on the street. The wards were nice and everything but a Muggle teenager was the one who started the fire. The Death Eater had convinced him to rob the house and set it on fire. The second the fire started the wards fell. I felt them crash to the ground. The Death Eater did not see me enter the house nor did he see me leave with Harry. The fire was started in the second little bedroom. I am assuming the Death Eater did not try to locate the actual location of Harry. He assumed he was in the room with Dudley. Harry was actually on the first floor in a small cupboard not far from the front door. I dropped Harry off at my house and came back. I set the magic spell to tell all that there were four in the house when the fire was started. If the magic said that then no one would look for Harry.”
“How did you take care of him during the school year?” Arthur asked.
“Easy. I created a Floo network to my house from Hogwarts. Each teacher has access to his or her houses. From there I went to the house that I was raising Harry in. It was simple and I had access to someone that no one would expect. Lily willed her House Elves to me when she went into hiding. I think that she knew that I would change sides when the choice came down to it.”
“Change sides?” Hermione asked. Severus looked at her with a fond smile. He held out his arm and raised his sleeve. There on his arm, faded, but still there was the Dark Mark.
Chapter Twenty Four-Death Eater March
Hermione gasped while Arthur just nodded and Ron just stared in horror. Ron looked quickly from Harry to Severus.
“You’re a Death Eater?”
“Yes, I am the Death Eater that passed the knowledge of the Prophecy to the Dark Lord. I also pleaded with him to save Lily, The woman that I loved from death. He showed me his true self that night. He cared nothing for any one but himself. We his loyal followers were nothing but a means to an end for him. I went to Dumbledore that night and pleaded with him. I gave him all my knowledge. He saved me from the Ministry and I promised to be his double agent when the Dark Lord came back.”
“So Dumbledore knew that he wasn’t gone?” Hermione asked. Severus nodded. “How did you keep Harry hidden?”
“The moment that the ward fell due to fire and they never found him, the Ministry broke Harry’s trace. All children are given his trace when they are born. It of course only can tell that magic is done not who does it. The Ministry only really keeps track of the Muggle-borns in that regard, they expect the parents of half and full bloods to keep the kids under control. Harry’s was gone in seconds. I gave it a week to be sure and then started training him. I had him casting some small spells using another wand I had. I didn’t want to take him wand shopping.”
“Why are you telling us this?” Arthur asked.
“There is something going on this year and I don’t like it.”
“How did the meeting go?”
“Strangely. I did not meet the person who sent me the letter. Instead, there was a letter waiting for me and several other Death Eaters. There is something that is supposed to go on here at the World Cup at the close of the match. I cannot protect Harry. I have told Dumbledore and he wants me to participate in whatever happens to try and found out who is doing this. Arthur, you will be the sole protection of Harry during and after the match. He can protect himself but he does stupid things when there are others that could be hurt. That’s the Gryffindor in him.”
“And my mother,” Harry said. He walked over to his father and hugged him. Severus leaned close.
“I don’t believe that Barty Crouch Jr. is dead. I think that he is the one doing all this but I do not want to alarm anyone this year. I have the map and will watch you at school this year. Be safe. I should not see you again until the feast.”
Harry stepped back and nodded. He knew what that meant. Barty Crouch Jr. had been one of the biggest supporters of Voldemort back in the day. For him to have escaped Azkaban and everyone think that he died in Azkaban was bad. If he was the one leading things then he had to be in contact with Voldemort. That was not good. Voldemort on his own was good but with a loyal follower like Crouch, Voldemort was able to get into contact with other loyal followers and he would be back to what he wants to do in no time.
Severus left the tent at a quick pace. He was muttering under his breath about the twins and the Weasley family in general.
“FRED! GEORGE!” Arthur yelled. Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the tent quickly and started to walk around the field. They ran into several classmates. Dusk arrived not quickly enough for all the kids. Finally they made their way to the stadium. Harry looked up at it in awe. It was huge.
It took a while but they finally got to their box. They had a small box but at least they were by themselves. The game was enjoyable and they all had a ton of fun. The ending was quite the shocker. It would leave people talking for years. It was hard to get to sleep that nigh with the noise outside the tents with the Irish celebrating.
Then it happened. Harry woke from a dead sleep and listened. What had been yells of joy were now screams of terror. Harry quickly sat up and saw that Arthur was rousing the rest of the kids. Harry looked around. Shoes were being put on without tying them. Everyone had a wand in his or her hand. Harry left his in his sleeve, were it was safe and quickly accessible. He patted it to make sure it was there and then stood up. His shoes were slipped on and he moved to the mouth of the tent. He peeked out. There were people running everywhere. No one knew where to go. Harry wondered what exactly was going on.
He saw a peek on one person. Where a face should have been was a mask. Death Eaters. Harry knew that his father was one of them as was Draco’s. He looked back and saw that finally everyone was ready. Harry waited and let Arthur take the lead.
“This is worse than I thought it was going to be. Harry, I need your word that you will stay with Charlie and Bill. Percy and I should go help get the Muggles to safety and the children. Charlie, Bill, protect them.” Harry grabbed Hermione’s hand while George grabbed Ginny’s as they left the girls tent.
They made it halfway to the woods when a group of adults split them. George, Bill, Ron, and Ginny were separated from the rest. Harry kept a hold of Hermione’s hand while Charlie and Fred looked for the others.
“Bill is with them, they will be safe. We can’t let anyone see Hermione!” Harry whispered loudly. Charlie and Fred nodded and they took off again. They had taken three steps into the clearing when Harry saw a light in the woods ahead. Harry drew his wand and looked around. There was no one about. He let go of Hermione’s hand and took a few steps when Draco stepped into sight from nowhere. Draco looked at them and drew his wand. Hermione drew hers as well. Harry held out his hand to stop her.
“This way. Severus created this place. He figured you would be heading this way.”
“Severus?” Fred asked. “As in Snape. What does he have to do with this?”
Harry looked at Fred. He knew. Harry didn’t know how he knew but he did.
“What is going on?”
“Hermione, we don’t have time. Please just trust me. I have nothing but Harry’s best interest in mind. We have to get inside.” Draco pointed to a tree and then walked towards it. Halfway there he disappeared. Harry followed and the rest after a beat did as well. Hermione looked around when she got inside. It was a small hut. There was barely enough room for all of them. “Your father created this for us. He thought that the rest of the Weasley’s would be with you.”
“We got separated. I hope they are safe.” Harry turned to look at Fred and cocked an eyebrow.
“We figured out a way to copy the map. We did that at the end of the year with yours. We saw you in his office and then later outside the castle with Miss Greengrass. We put two and two together.”
“I see. How long will this place stay hidden?”
“As long as the Dark Mark is in the sky.”
“Dark Mark?” Hermione said. She looked at Harry. “I didn’t see it.”
“I did. That’s who is doing this. Father said that there was a group of them meeting tonight to plan something. I don’t think he thought this would be it though. This will scare everyone more than anything else. They thought they were safe here of all places.” Harry heard noises outside and shushed the group. He walked over the exit and looked out. There was a crashing going about just outside of sight in the woods. It took a few minutes but finally the cause of the noise showed themselves. It was a Ministry official. Bill was with them. Harry looked back at Draco and smiled.
“It was good to see you but I think we are safe. Bill is out there. He probably saw where we entered the woods and is looking for us. Draco stay hidden and I will contact you as soon as we get back to the Burrow.” Harry stepped up and hugged Draco. They said goodbye and the group left the tent.
“We are over here,” Charlie called out. Bill turned towards them and when he saw they were all there he smiled and ran to them.
“We feared the worst. When father found us and found that Harry and Hermione were missing, he got worried. The Death Eaters fled not long after we got split up. None of them were caught. Minister Fudge is very upset.” Bill looked at the man with him. His name was Smith, Harry remembered that but not his first name. He was very low level and was probably put to work simply because he was there.
Harry barely listened as the rest of them talked on their way back to the campground. There was still chaos all around but now there was no fear. Now it was just worry. It was so thick that Harry could taste it. Harry wasn’t going to be on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow this was going to be. No doubt Dumbledore would see it on an attempt on Harry and want him to come to him to save him.
Bill escorted them all back to the tent. Charlie and he talked the whole way back. Harry knew that they had to be talking about the Dark Mark and who cast it.
It took a while for them all to get to sleep that night and it seemed like not much time passed before they were woke up to go back to the Burrow. It took no time at all because the adults packed everything up with magic. It seemed that no one cared about keeping magic a secret. Every adult was just trying to get out of there quickly. Life had changed for everyone there. They had thought they were safe. They thought he and his followers were no longer a threat. That was no longer the case.
The Portkeys out were packed and Arthur wanted to get Harry out of there quickly. The adults Apparated the kids out quickly in a small section of the woods where no one could see.
Molly fused over all of them when they got back. Arthur had to go into work and so he left promptly.
Harry found Hedwig with a letter for him after he got his things settled in Ron’s room. Harry took the letter, gave her a treat and let he do what she wanted. Harry knew the scrawl on the letter and ripped it open.
How are you doing? Moony has kept me in good spirits while this whole trial business is going on. Pettigrew is still sticking to his old story but after giving him Veritaserum and looking at his memories it seems that I am finally getting people to believe that I am innocent. It shouldn’t be too long before I am finally a free man. My solicitor is thinking that I will get a large restitution from the Ministry for their treatment of me. Seems that no one is liking how I was put away with no trial.
I’ve been talking to Moony about some things and it seems that I have to accept that your father is doing a good job raising you. Moony thinks that I might need some help to come to grips with my years spent in Azkaban and dealing with it all. I think it might be a good idea.
When I do get released I hope that you can come stay with me for a few days. If it is not before you go to school maybe at your winter holiday. Moony is living in my old house and cleaning it up. He says that it will be ready for me to move into.
Your father stopped by to see me and made me take a Unbreakable Oath to keep my tongue about his identity. Don’t worry no one knows who he was so your secret is safe with me.
Looking forward to see you,
Your loving Godfather,
Harry reread the letter and smiled. His father and himself had talked long about going to see him at the Christmas break.
It wasn’t long before the morning news arrived. Harry took one look at the paper and nearly ripped it up. He knew who was behind it but he didn’t know how she still got away with it.
Chapter Twenty Five-Rumors Abound
Harry looked again at the paper before handing it to Molly.
HARRY POTTER ATTACKED AT WORLD CUP
The world watched as the World Cup came to a close and no one was expecting the Death Eaters to show up at such a public place to try and take the Boy-Who-Lived. The attack happened early in the morning and security was caught off guard. Word has spread that Potter rebuffed the Ministry’s help in protecting him. Potter was heard telling people that he could take care of himself and didn’t need help at all. Right after the attack started some admit to seeing Potter take of running into the woods screaming and didn’t come until he had an escort of over ten Aurors. Ministry officials chose not to comment and Potter himself has not been seen since late last night.
Harry didn’t need to read anymore of the story. Molly took the paper and read it herself. She sighed and moved passed the front page and went to the society pages.
Everyday for the rest of the week rumors abound about what happened at the World Cup. Harry’s name was drug into it all the time. The stories she posted got worse and worse. The only good point was that about half way through the week she got word of a missing Ministry employee and she started on it.
Worried about taking of the kids to Diagon Alley, Molly did the school shopping for all the kids on her own. She came back with dress robes for them all. Harry’s were normal looking except they were green like his eyes. Ron’s were another thing they had lace. Harry took one look at them and tried not to laugh. He promised Ron that he would help him make them look better.
The morning arrived when they were supposed to go back to school. Harry wasn’t looking forward to the year. He knew that bad things were going to happen. His scar was hurting near constant and earlier that morning it had spiked. Harry arrived in the kitchen of the Burrow in time to hear that someone had tried to attack Mad-Eye Moody. That couldn’t be good. Harry knew what his new job was to be and if someone attacked him the day he was supposed to start his job, they were trying to stop him.
Harry jotted off a quick note to his father and snuck Hedwig out of the house without anyone seeing. Harry then made his presence known as Arthur was rushing out the door. Molly just made a comment about something happening at work.
Harry just wanted to get to school so that he could look at the map. He was glad that he had his father take the map with him. There was bound to be some sort of fallout about what happened at the World Cup. The goodbyes at the train were odd because Charlie made mention that he might seem them and Bill said he would love to be a Hogwarts that year and that he might take some time off to watch. What he wanted to watch Harry had no clue but if he was seeing Charlie then that meant Dragons and that was never good.
There was talk aboard the train. There were those that knew what was going on and wasn’t saying and those that tried to make people think they knew. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville grabbed a compartment as soon as they found one empty. They didn’t allow Ginny to enter it. Harry told them all about what he had been dreaming of.
“Harry, you should have talked to Sn…your father about that.” Hermione gave him a long hard stare that was full of disapproval.
“I know but he has been so worried.”
“You’ve meet his father?” Neville asked.
“Yeah, listen Neville, you have to promise and swear a Wizard’s Oath that you won’t tell if I tell you.” Harry looked at Neville his face full of confidence that Neville would keep the secret. There was just one other secret that Harry as going to tell them and this was the perfect time to do it. Neville was about to speak when a scratching was heard at their door. Harry opened it and there at the ground was a white ferret. Harry reached down. “Must have gotten out of its cage. Think we should keep it until his owner comes after him?”
“I think that would be best. It might get stepped on.” Hermione reached out and petted the little guy, who had settled down in Harry’s lap.
Harry set out charming the compartment and spelling the other three so that they could not reveal anything discussed between them.
“First off, Neville, I think I should start at the beginning.” Harry spent and hour describing his life with the Dursley’s and his life up until the fire. He told them of his mother finding out that she was magical and the friend she made that she stayed friends with even during school.
“They stayed friends until her friend followed his families path that had been laid out before him. He took up with others who liked the Dark Arts and who followed Lord Voldemort for reasons that were valid then but are not anymore. Most didn’t know what they were getting in for.”
“He’s a Death Eater?” Neville asked. Harry nodded then he laughed.
“Rita Skeeter was right. He used to be and still acts like a Death Eater. He is Dumbledore’s spy into the ranks of the Death Eaters. He came to right just before my mother was killed. He tried to plead for Voldemort to save her but when he didn’t, Voldemort lost my father forever.”
“Wow,” all three said as the same time.
“So, I just want you to know, that if anything does happen to me and I am in danger and no one can help, you do have permission to run and find my father.”
“Find him?” Neville asked. He looked at the others in the little room. “That would mean he’s at…he’s a teacher?”
“Yes, Severus Snape.”
Neville just stared at Harry in shock. The teacher that seemed to hate Harry and treated him worse than he treated the rest of the Gryffindor’s. Neville was shocked.
“Harry, at the world cup…Malfoy and you seemed to be…friendly.” Hermione seemed reticent to ask the question but Harry knew it was coming.
“He was the first wizard other than my father that I met. I knew who he was because my father had been teaching me some of the higher wizard families and what they looked like so that I could protect myself. He has also taught me the face of all Aurors and Unspeakables and the like at the Ministry. The more I know the more I can protect myself.”
“How did you meet him?” Neville asked.
“At a Muggle play park. Father didn’t know that I went there to play while he was doing other things. A house we stayed at sometimes was near there. It seems that Lucius thought that Draco needed to meet Muggles. I kept him secret from my father but somehow he found out and I was never allowed to go back. That day first year when Draco wanted to talk to me, he just wanted to see if we were still friends. I’ve kept in contact with him somewhat over the years. Its not safe to meet with him in the school at all.”
“How can you…be friends with him?” Ron asked with a slight look of disgust on face.
“Because all you have seen is his persona that he has to give off here in school. He has to act the part of high class Pureblood who hates all others. He is not that way. He hates that he has to act that way but until it is safe for him to switch sides he has to act that way.”
“Wow, he’s good.” Neville stated with a smile.
“Yes, and he would like to meet you and get to know you. He is hoping that he can be friends with you all.”
“Here on the train it is safe. I can do a lot of magic and no one will think on it. They will think it is just Seventh Years. On that note, I think it is safe for some to reveal themselves.”
“Harry?” Ron asked looking at Harry like he was nuts. But his gaze was drawn away from Harry when the Ferret jumped off Harry’s lap and started changing shape. When the changing stopped there on the floor of the train was Draco Malfoy.
Neville and Ron started babbling nonsense while Hermione just looked at Draco in shock.
“He’s an Animagus.”
“Is he registered?” Hermione asked. Harry and Draco shook his head no.
“You will get into trouble.”
“No, he won’t. When this war is over he will register but right now it is in his best interests. If Voldemort takes control of the Ministry at any point, nothing will be safe. The less they knew the better.”
Hermione still looked at him with a glare. Harry knew that she still believed that adults knew what they were doing and had all children’s best interests at heart but he knew different and do did Draco. Hermione would learn. She hadn’t seen what the Ministry and its officials were like but she would. Everyone would learn that just trusting that their government is doing the best for them is not the way to go. You have to make sure.
Ron was just staring at Draco like he didn’t believe a word that was being said. Harry sighed and shook his head. They were almost to the school and Harry still had to give them the Unbreakable Vow that they would keep themselves. After that they would talk some more.
The trio stepped into the Great Hall and looked around. There was a charge in the air as the students whispered about the bits they had heard about what was happening in the school that year. Harry had heard bits and he was pretty sure he knew what it was. There were only a few things that would involve international wizards and of those only one thing that would make the older Wizards who were out of school jealous: Triwizard Tournament. Harry knew that if his father hadn’t told him about it then it wouldn’t concern him and Harry wasn’t worried about that, what he was really worried about was that meant the headmaster of Durmstrang was going to be there. Igor Karkaroff, Death Eater who escaped imprisonment by ratting out his friends.
All of the First Years that entered the hall were soaked. Harry barely paid any attention to the sorting. Moody was not sitting with the rest of the teachers. There was an empty spot and Harry noticed that Severus was looking at the spot in disdain. It held well with the rumor that he was mad that he was never picked for the position. It was all part of the ruse that he had put forward years ago. Harry knew that the spot was cursed. He also knew who had cursed it. No one thought it odd that Severus, an ex-Death Eater would try for the spot. It took their eyes off other things that he did.
The sorting and the Sorting Hats song barely registered on Harry’s mind. He was more interested in thinking on other things. Harry had to be on guard if Durmstrang students were going to be at the school. They were schooled heavily in the Dark Arts and they used it. Harry had to make sure that his mind was safe and his items safer.
Chapter Twenty Six-Stares
Moody decided not to arrive with the students on the train. He arrived on his own about half way through dinner The disturbance had to have made him more paranoid, therefore Harry expected him to arrive on his own but by the looks of him he walked the whole way.
Harry knew the students would be talking of it for days. He had made an entrance all right. The tables were buzzing. Harry knew why most of them were talking. They were wondering Dumbledore had hired him of all people. He was considered crazy, even by polite society. Harry had a feeling he knew why. Dumbledore wanted to watch Harry and protect him. Harry had proven that he didn’t need and it was frustrating the old man. Dumbledore was not used to being not needed. All the man’s plans had been ruined.
The only real big piece of news that Dumbledore gave in his speech was that starting this years all students belongings were to be searched before entering the school. There was a little bit of upset at this until Dumbledore glared at the students. He spouted that it was an added measure after the attack at the World Cup. What came after that was even bigger news. There was to be no Quidditch Cup that year due to something else that was going to be taking place: The Triwizard Tournament. That started a whole new buzz that didn’t die down until the last student had left the feast.
Several hours that night was spent talking about what that meant for the school. The Muggle-borns of Gryffindor were clued in on what the Triwizard Tournament was all about. Of course the older students used it to scare the younger ones but it wasn’t that bad, considering the younger ones couldn’t enter. Only students who were seventeen and over could enter. That was why his father had not told him. He was not eligible.
Harry left the discussions early that night and went to bed. He was glad that next morning that he did because he spent half the night in that same nightmare he had had over the course of the summer, except this time he finished it. He woke up very early the next morning and could not get back to sleep. He decided to write a letter to his father before the dream left him. He had seen Barty Crouch Jr. in the dream. He was in a house with Voldemort, or at least it sounded like Voldemort. They were discussing plans and they mentioned Bertha Jorkins. His father was right he was not dead and he had seen him. It wouldn’t stand up in court but his father would believe him.
Harry finished his letter and went to breakfast early. He wanted his map and the only way to get it was to go to Potions and Harry didn’t know when he had it. Harry also wanted to see his schedule because he wanted to see when he had Ancient Runes. He didn’t want to take Divination anymore and Runes was the only class that he would be able to take a test for and see if he could test into it. He had to take two electives until his sixth year by orders of his father. Then he could just do his classes that he scored well in. Harry didn’t know what he wanted to be so he had time to choose that later.
Students started filling in slowly. Harry was the only Gryffindor for over an hour. Ravenclaws were the first to arrive followed by the Slytherins. Gryffindors were the last House to get its full members at the table. Harry expected no less. McGonagall arrived with their schedules when most of the students had arrived.
Harry looked at his schedule and smiled. It looked good. He had Monday afternoons free and on Tuesday he only had one afternoon class, Potions. He had to wait until the next day to see his father and get the map. Harry knew that he was being paranoid. This father would never let something happen to him at the school if he could help it. He just felt unsafe without the map. Hermione and Ron were later than most f the students. Harry figured that Hermione was late because she had been trying to get Ron up.
“Harry,” Hermione said as a way of greeting as she sat down beside Ron on the other side of the table. Many of the younger students were sitting away from Harry and he didn’t mind. What was starting to bother him though was the way that many of the other Houses were looking at him. Harry knew that if had to do with all the things that Rita Skeeter had posted about him but it still made him very mad that they were believing her. He did understand that part of the reason that they believed what they were saying was because Harry was not talking for himself but it wasn’t time for that. They had no reason to trust him yet. He also didn’t put it past Dumbledore to sabotage whatever plans Harry had just to win Harry over to his side.
Dumbledore’s side, Voldemort’s side, and now there was a third side starting, Harry’s side.
Harry’s first day of classes went quick. It helped that he only had two classes. He was of course given homework in Herbology. There was still much discussion of how to enter the Triwizard without having to actually be of age. Harry knew several ways but he did not want to enter. His father would kill him. Harry laughed at some of the ideas that students in the courtyard were coming up with. He was not the only one without classes in the afternoon it seemed. Hermione had Arithmancy and Ron had Divination that afternoon.
“Potter!” Severus yelled from across the courtyard. Harry looked up over at him and winced. He looked mad. Every student in the courtyard stopped to look back and forth between the student and teacher. Harry quickly packed his backpack up and rushed over to where he stood.
“The Headmaster would like a few words with you.”
Severus didn’t wait for an answer. He spun on his heal and stalked away. Harry had to run for a few seconds to catch up with the mans quick departure. Harry wasn’t sure what to expect when he got to the Headmaster’s office but he spent the five-minute travel time readying his mind. Dumbledore had to be getting desperate. Sirius was out again and able to influence Harry. Harry was still not living where Dumbledore wanted him. The attack at the World Cup showed that Voldemort’s followers were getting dangerous again and felt safe enough to act out.
Arriving at the stone gargoyle startled Harry out of his thought. Harry cleared his mind of everything. He pictured the lake outside the school. Harry started to walk forward when Severus placed his hand on the back of Harry’s neck. Anyone that would have seen it wouldn’t have taken it for anything other than it was, a hand stop Harry from moving forward. Harry felt a charge go through him and knew it had to be a spell of some kind.
“Harry welcome!” Dumbledore said with a lot of happiness in his voice. Harry looked over at him and saw that Fudge was there was well. Harry sighed internally.
“Headmaster, if you will, I have things to attend to.”
“Actually, Severus, I think that you should stay.” Dumbledore pointed at the chairs that were in front of his desk. Severus waited until Harry was sitting down before he too sat down in the chair beside Harry. Fudge set down a small vial that looked empty but Harry knew what it was. Veritaserum, the truth potion. There were very few counteractions to it but Harry knew of one that was quick and seemingly invisible, the spell that his father had created and had just cast on Harry. There were of course some who were naturally immune to it but Harry’s father had never tested it out on Harry. He wanted Harry to be truthful if people asked.
“Do you know what this is?” Fudge asked Harry.
Harry didn’t give a verbal answer he just nodded. He couldn’t figure out what was so important that they had to give him Veritaserum. What was so scary about not knowing where he lived…they thought that he would be turned. They had scared themselves into thinking that Harry would go to Voldemort that was the only thing that made sense.
“Harry, I have obtained the right to give this to you. The Ministry has decided that you cannot understand the threats that you are under and feel that your father is not protecting you as he should. We have to step in and do it.”
“I understand what you are saying but what you don’t understand is that you are more a threat than Voldemort to me. As of this year I have spent the same amount of time with my father as I had with my Aunt and Uncle. I was seven when they were killed while someone tried to kill me. Yet here I am the closest I came to be attacked by Death Eaters was at the World Cup. That was all your fault, whether they were after me or not.”
Fudge picked up the vial and held it out to Harry. Harry took the vial and opened it. He swallowed the contents in one big gulp. Dumbledore held out a cup of tea to Harry but he didn’t take the cup. Instead he just sat there and waited for the potion to take its time to affect him. He could feel it in his body but he didn’t feel any different. There was nothing in his mind to tell him what to do.
“Harry, how old are you?” Dumbledore asked. Harry looked over at the Headmaster but felt no compulsion to answer. He decided to play along. He saw Severus sit up when it looked like Harry was being forced to answer.
“Who are your parents?”
“Lily Evans Potter and James Potter.”
Fudge looked at Dumbledore when Harry answered the question. It was not what they were expecting.
“Where did you go when the Death Eaters attacked at the World Cup?” Fudge asked. Harry looked over at him.
“I went into the woods with some of the Weasley’s.”
“To be safe. The camp was not safe so we fled from there. Mr. Weasley told us to.”
Fudge smiled at Harry’s answer and looked at Dumbledore. Both had giant smiles on their faces. They thought it was working.
“Who raised you?”
“Petunia Evans Dursley and Vernon Dursley.”
“Who raised you after that?”
This was not the answer that they were expecting. Harry tried not to smile.
“Obviously the boy has been lied to,” Severus said. He stood up and moved to stare into Harry’s eyes. His face was filling Harry’s vision. Severus winked at Harry and gave a small quick smile before he turned around to face Dumbledore and Fudge. “Regulus Black has been dead for years.”
“Yes, it seems that Harry has been lied to. Severus take Harry to his dorm and have a House Elf watch him until the effects wear off.”
“Of course, would you like the new House Elf to watch him?” Severus asked as he grabbed Harry’s arm and quickly jerked him up.
“Yes, that will work. Harry will like that.”
Harry heard the Headmaster and Minister start to talk about who could have him. Whether there was a chance that Regulus as still alive.
“New House Elf?” Harry asked. Severus smiled as they cleared the first hallway.
“Dobby. The Headmaster is under the idea that he was freed from his master at the end of your second year and has been looking for paid work since then.”
Harry smiled and nodded. They didn’t speak again until they reached Gryffindor Tower. The Fat Lady let them in without a password and they went straight upstairs. The Common Room was empty but who knew how long it would be.
“That was quick thinking, Harry. Regulus Black. That will send them in the wrong direction for a very long time.”
“Yes, I thought that it would. I didn’t feel any compulsion to give them an answer. I don’t know if it is your spell or the natural thing you talked about.”
“Your mother had it, you could very well have it.” Severus didn’t say anything else he just closed the door to the dorm and left. Seconds later, Dobby appeared at Harry’s side. He fetched Harry anything he wanted from the kitchens and even tried to help him with his Herbology homework.
Chapter Twenty Seven-First Week’s Excitement
When Neville, Ron, and Hermione came back after classes Harry had them come into the dorm and talk with him. He told them what had happened. Leaving out that his father had put a spell on him. Hermione had of course; found out from the Twins, that Severus had taken Harry away for a chat with the Headmaster.
They spent their time until dinner discussing how desperate the Ministry must be to actually approve the use of Veritaserum on a underage Wizard. Hermione wanted to look it up and see if they were allowed without the permission of the parent but Harry reminded her that this was the Ministry trying to find out who his father was.
“Who is Regulus Black?” Neville asked.
“He is my godfather Sirius’s brother. He was a Death Eater and defied Voldemort and was killed for it. I basically sent them on hunt that will turn up nothing. I do have something that I am going to do though. Hermione, I need your help finding someone. Her name is Luna Lovegood. She’s a Ravenclaw.”
“I know her. Why do you want to find her?”
“Her father owns the Quibbler. I may need to have access to a news source that isn’t in the Ministry hands. I hope that I will not need it but with Rita Skeeter out there I may.”
“Are you sure, mate?” Ron asked. He looked a little shocked.
“Yes, I am sure. I read the paper a lot. So does my father. While there is a bunch of stuff in there that is not true, there is more that is and flies under the radar of the rest of society. There is more truth published in that paper than there is in the Daily Prophet lately.”
“I’ll let her know that you want to talk to her tonight at dinner. I am sure that she won’t mind getting in contact with her father for you.”
“Thanks. Why don’t we head down and see about getting sat down for dinner.”
Harry stood up and the rest followed him. As they started down the steps from the boys’ dorm the twins were coming up. They looked at Harry and smiled. They grabbed Harry’s arms and pulled him back up inside. The others looked like they were going to follow but they stopped when Harry waved them on.
“We need to have a talk.” George pushed Harry down onto a bed. They sat on the bed opposite. “We have detention already. It’s an odd one though. We don’t have to serve until Sunday. That is another story though. We have been watching the map. We saw what happened earlier today. What did Fudge want?”
“Just tried to use Veritaserum to make me give him answers.”
“That’s what we thought. We want to ask a favor of you. We know that a War is coming and we want to help. Of course, you know about the mail order Joke Shop. We want to create a few potions and things that are practical. Do you have a book that has the ingredients for Veritaserum? If so, we would like you to copy the potion down and bring it to us.”
“Yes, I will look. I have a small library that I bring to school with me.”
“How did you get it past the Aurors this year who were checking everything?”
“It stays on my person. It looks like a bag of Bertie Bott’s.”
“Smart thinking. Just give it to us when you can.”
“Snape give you detention?” Harry asked. They nodded in unison. Harry started to wonder what they had done to make Severus give them a detention. Harry was sure that they had done something but they tended not to get caught.
Dinner went quickly for Harry. He really wanted to get looking at his books to see if he had the potion list that the Twins wanted. No one knew about the stash of books that he had. The students spent the evening talking about Moody in one way or another. Moody had a good knowledge of the Dark Arts. He to have a base. He was the one who had caught most of the Death Eaters that were either now dead or in Azkaban. There was another name going around. Snape’s name.
Snape had become the worst he had ever been to the students. Everyone guessed the reason. Another year where a new teacher had come in and taken the job that he wanted. Moody also seemed to have a great dislike for Snape as well. Harry knew part of the reason why; Snape was a Death Eater that had gotten away. There was no greater crime to Moody. His father had told him that years ago when he told Harry all about the first war with Voldemort.
Tuesday’s morning classes went quickly History of Magic was just as bad as every other year. No one really learned anything in the class. Luckily most of them actually used their books to learn what they needed. Care of Magical Creatures was fun. Hagrid was getting better with creating lessons that were closed to what one would expect from a teacher. Of course, the class that Harry was looking forward to was happening after lunch.
Harry was the second to enter the dungeon classroom. Draco was sitting in his regular seat in the classroom. Harry sat in the middle of the class like he always did. Draco turned back once to smile at Harry. Harry didn’t know what to expect in the class. This was the year of changes. Everyone was growing up. They were fourteen. Halfway through their schooling and three years from being adults.
The class filled while Harry was looking at his book for the year. The potions they were going to be brewing this year were complex but not nearly as complex as the ones that he had brewed on his own over the summer. He planned to partner with Neville this year. Hermione and Ron could partner. Harry knew that they liked each other. Harry wasn’t sure whom he himself liked. He had talked to his father much over the summer about his friends.
His father of course, had only ever loved one person in the world and he was the sole reason that she left him. His father believed that someone else should teach him of love. He pushed Harry to reach out to Remus or Sirius and ask them for help. Harry was not ready to bring someone into his life that he couldn’t tell the truth to and he knew that any girlfriend would want to know everything and he wasn’t ready to give that to those that he didn’t know very well. Trust came with time and unless he could tell them things, they would never trust him and he in turn would never trust them.
“Put away your books and things. I have a field trip planned for today. Those of you who have afternoon classes will be excused from them and will make up the work later. All years will be taking this trip. Sixth and Seventh years took it yesterday at this time. Today will be Fourth and Fifth years from all Houses. Then the First, Second, and Third years will be going the rest of the week. I am taking my class now and the rest of the students will follow. We are going on our own due to some safety concerns over the safety of Mr. Potter.”
“Where are we going?” Draco asked.
“We are going to two places. First off is St. Mungo’s to the Closed Ward then to Azkaban. The Ministry is forcing this on us. The current Minister thinks that showing you the effects of the Dark Arts wills stop you from dabbling in them. There will be no words spoken at Azkaban. No words at all.”
Harry pocketed his wand and made sure no one saw him do it. He was sure that wands would not be allowed but he wasn’t going anywhere without it. Severus leaned over and picked up several pieces of paper. He handed each one to a person at the front of the class. There were spots for ten fingers on the pages and each had a name. Harry saw that his sheet had his name and the rest were Slytherins. Slytherins that he didn’t really know. Harry looked at his father in shock. It was a trap. Severus was looking at him with a look that Harry had never seen before. The students all moved around so that they were standing beside the sheet that had their names.
“Harry!” the Twins screamed from the back of the class. Harry turned to look at them at the same time that all the students disappeared. Before Harry could react Severus stepped into the classroom and pointed his wand at the man who was acting as him. Harry backed up quickly. He didn’t know who that person was but he was scared that he had got into the school and was able to act as a teacher.
“Where are the rest of the students?” Severus asked. He looked around.
“According to the Imposter we were going to St. Mungo’s. My sheet said that I was going with a group of Slytherins.”
“Who are you?” Severus asked of the man standing at the front of the class. Right before their eyes the mans features changed. Standing there in front of them was the Death Eater Avery. Harry stopped his movement right when he got level with the Twins who were behind Severus.
“I die for my cause!” Avery said. He looked at Severus. “You have to remember who your true Master is, Snape. The Dark Lord fears that you do not have his best interests at heart. You will cower or you will die.”
“The Dark Lord knows where my true allegiances lie, Avery. I know that he did not send you here.” Severus pushed the kids out of the door. He pulled the door shut and
“We are worried about you, Snape. You have the boy here and he still lives.”
“The Dark Lord wants to kill him himself. He said so thirteen years ago, and it won’t have changed, I am sure. We also have need of him. The rest of the things are not put together though.” Severus made a move towards Avery but never made it to him before Avery touched a ring on his finger and Portkeyed out of the room. Severus cursed and opened the door to allow the Twins and Harry back in. It didn’t take long before Dumbledore and McGonagall showed up with wands drawn.
Harry was rushed to the common room of Gryffindor Tower where he was to stay under the watchful eye of the Twins. He was sure that the students were in St. Mungo’s, all of them. His part of the Portkeyed paper was still left behind on his table. They had wanted him and him alone.
Dumbledore did not want to speak to him that night. The rest of the students from the class had their memories modified. They remembered nothing of the class other than a lecture on safety procedures and the potions they were going to be brewing that year. Harry found in his backpack that was given to him later the Marauder’s Map. It was slipped inside his Potions book. Harry gripped it tightly and moved to the bathroom. He spread it out on the floor and tapped it with his wand. Hogwarts spread out before him. He knew that his father had to have used it and it was either him or the Twins who noticed the imposter. It was the second day of the school year and already Death Eaters had attacked him. This was not boding well for the rest of the year.
Chapter Twenty Eight-Defense Against the Unforgivables
Harry woke early on Wednesday morning. His dreams had stopped since he dreamed about Crouch Jr.. He was sure that because he finally made it to that part his mind had now stopped fixating on the dream since he had found out what the dreams had been trying to tell him. His father surmised that he had a link to Voldemort and that was why he had been trained in Occlumency from such a young age. Still things leaked through. Harry went to breakfast like normal with Ron. Ron and Hermione were still acting kind of weird to each other. Harry was going to have fun watching them move around each other and see how long it took for them to admit that they liked each other.
Harry looked around the table to the other Fourth Year Gryffindors. Some were already paired up but many were looking at others with longing. Even Hermione was looking at Ron in strange ways. It wouldn’t be long for them. Harry was looking forward to his afternoon class. It was Double Ancient Runes. His first class of the subject. He couldn’t wait for it. It had to better than Divination.
The morning passed so slowly. Harry was thankful that he didn’t have History of Magic or he was sure that he would have fallen asleep. The rest of Wednesday passed quickly. Harry loved Ancient Runes and knew that it would at least keep him interested. He and Hermione talked about it the whole time at dinner with Ron staring at Harry with what was close to hatred. Hermione started asking Ron about how he enjoyed his afternoon free and asked what he had done to pass the time. Ron slowly calmed down over the evening. Harry didn’t really notice the change in him.
Harry slept well that night going over words and such in Ancient Runes in his head to fall asleep to. He hadn’t really had a lot of dreams over the weeks. His mental shields were at the peak of their power and Harry knew that nothing could get passed them.
Transfiguration that next morning was a good double period. They covered a lot of things from the year before and even Neville kept the progress that he had attained the year before. Harry decided that maybe to push Ron and Hermione together quicker that he should partner with Neville in all the classes that year. He didn’t share the reasons with the other two but they didn’t mind at all.
Harry was thankful when lunchtime rolled around. He needed to eat quickly. He had to make sure that his mental shields were at their fullest. He trusted that Moody was not an imposter. He had spent the night before making sure of everyone in the school. The castle held no imposters. Everyone was who he or she should be.
Finally it was almost time for class. Harry packed up his things and headed for the classroom with Hermione, Ron, and Neville. Harry sat with Neville. Moody could be harsh and Harry wanted to help his friend as much as possible. Finally, they could hear him coming down the hall. Moody looked like he always did. A little on the scary side. Harry heard Neville gulp and Harry patted him on the arm.
They were told to put away their books. That was good. Lessons were always fun when they were told to put away their books. Roll call was done and Moody just looked at them for about a minute before he smiled.
“This class is going to be the only one that will serve in keeping you alive if you ever find yourself attacked. It is my job to make sure that you can keep yourself alive, at least long enough to have help arrive and help you. You have the knowledge that you need in dealing with dark creatures. I am here for this year only to help you deal with curses. I am here on a special favor to Dumbledore. He feels that I am the only one who can save your lives.
“I am only supposed to teach you the countercurses and stop there. The Ministry thinks that you are not able to handle anything more. Dumbledore thinks different. He wants you to see what the illegal Dark curses look like. I think that the sooner someone knows what they can find out in that world the better.”
Moody looked out into the crowd of students again before he settled on Harry.
“What are the curses that are heavily punished by Wizarding Law?”
Ron raised his hand and waited. Moody looked at him and nodded. “Imperious Curse.”
“Yes, that is one that your father would know, Weasley.” Moody stood up from his desk pulled a jar our of his desk. Inside were three spiders. Ron shoved back from his front seat desk. He hated spiders. He reached into the jar and pulled out a spider. “Imperio.”
The spider started doing funny acts and the whole of the class started laughing, all except Harry and Moody. Harry knew what was really happening to the spider. There was a small glass basin of water on Moody’s desk. Harry figured why it was there. Moody set the spider down on the desk and released the spell on it. He quickly cast a nonverbal spell and the spider grew to three times the size it was. He once again put the Imperious Curse on it and the spider quickly crawled over the basin and up its side. It calmly put itself into the water and they had to watch as it drowned and never tried to save itself. The class was quiet.
“Total control. When He-Who-Must-Not -Be-Named was in control years back there were many witches and wizards who were under this spell. It was hard to sort who was doing things on their own and who wasn’t. Constant vigilance will save you from this spell. Does anyone else know another illegal curse?”
Harry knew them but he wanted the others to give a chance. Hermione’s hand shot in the air and to Harry’s surprise Neville raised his hand. Moody looked at Neville and nodded his head for him to go on.
“The Cruciatus Curse.”
“Longbottom is it?” Moody asked but didn’t ask anything else after Neville nodded. Harry knew why Moody didn’t ask. Neville’s parents were not around due to the Cruciatus Curse. Moody had to know it.
“The Cruciatus Curse.” Moody pulled another spider out of the jar and set it down on the desk before he cast another non-verbal spell. The spider grew to the size of a baseball. “Crucio.” The spider’s legs bent back under the rest of the body and it started to shake. Harry reached over and gripped Neville’s shaking hand. Moody looked at Neville and released the spell.
“You don’t need any torture devices when you know this spell. The pain is unbearable and there is no defense against it, again except CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” Moody put the spider in the jar and took out the third one. Harry knew what was coming. The spell that he was famous for. “And what is the third?”
Hermione raised her hand, shakily in the air. Moody looked at her and she spoke in a small voice. “Avada Kedavra.” Those words made the room tense and Harry could see the tension.
“The last and the worst. Avada Kedavra. The Killing Curse.” Moody set the spider down the desk and it acted as if it knew what was coming. “Avada Kedavra!” All the spider’s body parts stopped when the jet of green hit it. It was dead. “There is no block for this curse. You can run and dodge it but if it hits you, you are dead. There is only one person who has survived it. He is sitting in front of me. There is not just the spell for this curse to work. There are other aspects to it. All of you could cast it on me right now but I probably wouldn’t get much more than a nosebleed. I am an not here to teach it to you. You have to know about it. These three curses are called the Unforgivables. Using them on a human will get you a life sentence in Azkaban. Now its time for notes.”
“The rest of the double lesson was spent writing about the Unforgivables and other extremely dark things. When the bell rang the students rushed out taking all about how the spells were. Harry could hear the awe in their voices. They weren’t old enough. Harry stayed back and walked out with Neville. Harry didn’t touch him but reassured him that there was someone there for him.
“You know?” Neville’s voice was but a whisper and the question was vague but Harry knew what he meant.
“My father felt that I should know all that happened in the war with Him. I think that it was good.”
Their discussion was interrupted by the sound of Moody’s leg thumping on the steps. He spoke softly and nicer than they had heard him speak before and he wanted Neville to come back with him. Harry nodded and told him that they would talk later.
“I’ve got some books that might interest you.”
They went to dinner and they talked the whole time about what happened in the class. Harry didn’t share why Neville acted like he did with the rest of them. It was his story to tell and if he didn’t want them knowing then they shouldn’t. Neville appeared halfway through dinner. He was smiling and holding a book in his hands. He told them how all that Moody wanted to do was give him this book and discuss plants. Professor Sprout had told Moody all about Neville’s love of plants. Neville and Hermione then launched into a discussion of the plants in the books.
They all stayed in the Great Hall to do homework together that evening. They all completed theirs and Harry even helped Ron with his Divination homework. Harry couldn’t help laugh at how bad Ron predicted it to be. Hedwig flew into the room with a letter for Harry. It was odd because the last that he knew she was sitting in the Owlery upstairs just waiting for him to send out a letter. She dropped the letter in front of Harry and flew off. Harry looked at those around the table and then back at the letter. He didn’t know the writing at all. Harry pulled out a wand and checked the letter with a few spells. He then opened it.
This is Remus Lupin. I wanted to send you a quick letter. Sirius has been released and given a full pardon. He will be getting seventeen thousand galleons from the Ministry as well as his entire Black House holding returned to him. With all their businesses given back as well. Sirius wanted me to ask you to please write a letter telling us of your first Hogsmeade visit date. As Sirius is now the head of House Black again, he will want to name you heir I would suppose. You need not worry about anything. His solicitor will be handling everything. All that will be needed is a drop of your blood. If you want to become his heir that is.
Remus J. Lupin
P.S. I was just finishing this letter outside the court room when this Owl turned up and when I went to attach your letter to another Owl she pecked at me until I got the message. She was there to take the letter. You have a very smart owl and should feel proud. Now that I know her, I will be awaiting your reply from her.
Harry looked at the letter in surprise. Sirius wanted to name him his heir? That was a surprise. He figured that Sirius would try to settle down with a family now that his name was cleared. Harry grabbed parchment from his backpack and copied the letter over using a spell. He folded it up and gave it to Hedwig. There was no name on the letter and before Harry could say anything she flew away. Harry then set about replying to the letter. He would be happy to meet with them at the first Hogsmeade visit. Harry finished the letter and left his friends so that he could go up to the Owlery. There, Hedwig was waiting on him. Harry saw that she was finishing off a treat that his father favored for his own owls. The letter had been delivered. Harry attached the new letter and sent her out.
Heir of House Black and Heir of House Potter. Harry was collecting quite a few titles. He also knew that when the day was right his father was turning over his Prince holdings to him. Prince, Black, and Potter, Harry would have fun with that in the future.
Chapter Twenty Nine-Triwizard Tournament
At breakfast one morning, Harry noticed that a Second Year was staring at him. It wasn’t the normal staring that he was used to. She was looking at him like she was trying to figure out what made him tick, like she was trying to see the him underneath it all. Harry knew that she was a Greengrass; he just couldn’t remember her name. She was a Ravenclaw but that wasn’t that odd. Her family was usually Slytherins according to what his father told him but sometimes Slytherin family’s had children that were in Ravenclaw. They were almost never in any of the other houses. Harry continued to stare back at her and her gaze never left his. Finally, it triggered in his mind. Astoria was her name. She was the one that he had saved the year before. It wasn’t until other Ravenclaws sat down that she tore her gaze away from Harry’s. Harry made a mental note to look out for her. There was something there.
Neville, Ron, and Hermione arrived at breakfast not long after. Classes were discussed and at the top was Defense Against the Dark Arts. They were going strong on everything in that class. Dark item after Dark item were discussed. Dark Arts were revealed for what they were. Harry had a feeling he knew where the classes were going. It wouldn’t be long before Moody showed them what the Imperious Curse felt like. He had hinted at it for a while. Harry couldn’t wait. He wanted to see what it would do to him.
Harry got his wish that day because Moody did indeed want to show them what the spell was like. Grumblings were brought up about that being illegal and Moody told them that Dumbledore wanted them to know and if they really didn’t want to find out then they could leave. Everyone stayed of course.
Moody’s eye settled on Harry, as he knew that it would. Harry had survived one; of course he would be the test subject for the other.
“Potter, to the front. I want to see if it works on you.”
Harry nodded and put his wand in his pocket. He wasn’t going up there unarmed. He had been caught off guard once already this year and he wasn’t going it again. Harry moved into the space that had been cleared and waited.
“Imperio!” Moody waved his wand at Harry and Harry felt a wonderful sensation all over his body. It lasted for a few seconds before the voice started. Jump onto the desk…jump onto the desk. Harry felt no compulsion to even attempt it. He just turned his head to look at Moody. Moody was looking at his odd before he smiled. “Potter fought it off. They will have a hard time getting at you won’t they. Speaks for the upbringing that you have had.”
“I don’t understand, Sir.” Harry said playing dumb on the meaning.
“If you have been under the Imperious all these years, you would have jumped onto the desk just like I wanted. I never thought anything of the articles being published in the paper myself but that proved it. Your father, whoever he is, has raised you right. To think on your own and form your own opinion. Go have a seat. The rest of you are next. Of course, I don’t expect the same results but please try to fight it off. You know never know when that will be needed.”
Harry went back to his seat and wondered for a second if Moody had even truly cast it. Harry watched as classmate after classmate had it cast on them and seeing their faces and hearing Ron talk about it made Harry believe that he had cast it and Harry had really just fought it off. Harry wondered for a second if the Cruciatus Curse would work on him as well. He shook his head and thought better. He didn’t want to know.
Moody saved Neville for last. Harry knew why, to save him the most embarrassment. Seeing all the other kids fail at even throwing it off a little. Neville was coming out of his shell a little more this year. Harry watched with amazement when Neville paused for nearly a whole minute before doing a few leaps across the room. The leaps lacked grace but only because Harry could see in Neville’s eyes that he was fighting it even still. Moody was so happy that Neville had fought so hard that he didn’t give either him or Harry homework that night. The rest of the class was to write about what it felt like under the curse and to give a few pointers on what they could do to fight it off next time.
Harry had his Transfiguration homework done already so it was a free night for him. This was rare considering that their amount of homework given this year had doubled. Teachers were preparing them for their O.W.L.s next year. Harry found the work easy. He knew that came from his mother and not his father. It also was from the years of living with his father. Work came first and fun came later.
All of their teachers were making it very clear that this was the type of workload they should expect from now on from all the teachers. Snape was equally giving them a huge amount. Stress was showing on all the students in varying degrees. Hermione was trying hard to help Ron and it was succeeding some but he was still a lost cause when it came to some subjects. Harry found that himself backing away some from them, they were getting on their own without much help from him. Harry wasn’t lonely. They still hung out a lot. There was just more Ron and Hermione time for them and they hadn’t even noticed it.
A notice at the entrance hall stopped them from getting into class one day. Ron read it aloud to them and other students who were at the back of the mob trying to read it. The other schools would be arriving on Friday the 30th of October. Classes were going to be ending early so that the teachers could prepare. All the Gryffindors were happy because that meant that they got out of Potions early that day.
Harry had some reservations about the arrival of Durmstrang. Karkaroff could be his downfall. Karkaroff had never truly given up his Death Eater ways. He was just too spineless to go to jail for Voldemort. He followed those in power just like Pettigrew did. Harry’s father was keeping tabs on that certain Death Eater and how his trial was going. Now that Sirius’s trial was done Peter’s would go much quicker. Aurors of course had talked to Ron over the summer and the rest of Weasley’s about how long they had had Scabbers and how he had acted the moment that Sirius had escaped out of prison.
Friday arrived quickly for all the students. Most of who had never even met a wizard from another country much less a student from another school. That refreshed the fervor about the students who would be adding their names to the list of who will try to represent the school. The talk started again about whom or what was doing the judging and ways to bypass the restrictions. The twins were of course devising something. They had gotten into so much trouble with Snape that they now had detentions every Sunday night the rest of the year for two hours and always came back smelled so foul, that no one asked questions of what they had had to do.
Harry on the other hand a few guesses about what was really going on and wondered why Snape was even bothering with the Twins. Harry had vowed to sneak into the dungeon in a week or two and find out exactly what they were doing down. Harry still had his cloak in with all his other items of clothing. He had brought it with him because Dumbledore would have asked questions if it hadn’t been after he had sent it to Harry that first year.
The students were all there waiting on the arrival of the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students. Both were ostentatious schools that would make their arrivals a spectacle. The castle looked at its best and each House had been berated by their head to act on their best behavior. Harry was looked at the most during the speech with Neville not far behind. Neville didn’t turn away like he normally would have. Peeking out was the boy that he should have been with the raising of his parents not his grandmother and other relatives. Support was all that Neville needed and the Gryffindors were giving it to him.
Beauxbatons arrived in their flying horse drawn carriage with their headmistress Madame Olympe Maxime after waiting in the cold for a while. Harry didn’t know much at all about the other schools except where they were located. Which Harry was sure that most did not even know. His father thought it best to at least know of the other schools where he could have gone if he had wished it. Beauxbatons was located in Southern France and its location was very secret to those who were not French. Durmstrang was located in the sea near Norway. His father said that it should be in the Barents Sea somewhere, near Azkaban.
Harry figured that they would arrive by ship given their location and he was correct when the mast appeared out of the lake. Harry wondered how many students Karkaroff had brought with him. Harry figured that he knew the name of one. Given the information given about Viktor Krum at the World Cup, he had to be in his last year of school. That placed him at Durmstrang since he played for Bulgaria.
The foreign students were ushered into the castle with hurriedness. The French students were cold while the ones from Durmstrang barely felt the cold. Harry watched each with an eye. The girls from both schools looked him up and down seeing if they passed his muster while the boys just glared at him. Harry knew that he was considered cute to most girls. He was filling out and growing very tall. He was almost as tall as Ron. Harry shuddered at what he would have looked like if he had stayed with his Aunt and Uncle. Small and skinny probably.
Dumbledore stared his speech to the entire group of students. The Beauxbatons had sat with the Ravenclaws and the Durmstrangs sat with the Slytherins. Krum sat beside Malfoy and they started to talk. When the speech was over the food appeared. Harry saw several new dishes that had never been served before. He knew that it had to be for his guests. Part of the way through dinner a girl from Beauxbatons asked them for their bouillabaisse. Harry looked at her while Ron went purple.
“If you don’t mind me asking, are you part Veela?” Harry asked recognizing the traits in her face from when he had studied them with his father.
“Aren’t you a clever boy? My name is Fleur Delacour. You must know your stuff.” She said with a heavy French accent. Harry shrugged and saw out of the corner of his eye that he was getting many stares from the other guys. Harry handed the bowl over to her with a smile and she left the table. Other girls from Beauxbatons looked at him with a smile. Harry had wondered if his fame about being dead and then not dead would travel beyond the borders of Western Europe.
Harry looked up at the table and saw that there were still two empty seats. Harry wondered who was going to be sitting there when Ludo Bagman and Bartemius Crouch Sr. entered the Great Hall from the staff entrance at the side.
Harry watched both men with a great interest. The Tournament was spelled out in its entirety for all the students present. The Age Line was going to be a problem for the twins but he was sure that they would come up with something. Then the severity of the Tournament was pressed upon them all. Harry knew that most would not understand it. They would only see the glory of being picked and not the fallout after they were chosen. The speech finished on a more somber note than it began but the students were still eager.
While leaving the Great Hall, Harry noticed that Karkaroff was staring at him. Krum was also staring but in a way that only showed he had an interest in Harry. Harry nodded at Krum and noticed that Draco was near him as well. Harry strode across the Hall to meet up with him.
“Viktor Krum, welcome to Hogwarts.” Harry held out his hand in greeting.
“Harry Potter, thank you.” Krum looked him up and down. He smiled at him.
“How are you enjoying the warm weather so far?”
“It is much warmer than home, I do have to say that. I have to beg off. We are an hour behind you and I am not the greatest at the moment.”
“Head of Slytherin is also our potions master. You might want to ask him for something to make you feel better.”
“I think that I can care for myself. I find those who I supped with to be a rather strange group.”
“Maybe tomorrow, I you can sup with my House. You can see how we enjoy ourselves.”
Krum nodded and smiled before bowing and leaving. Karkaroff quickly met back up with him and belittled a few of the others that he brought with him. Harry wondered if that was done so that only Krum would be a true candidate for the Tournament. Madame Maxine seemed to have brought many true candidates. The Cup would have a hard time choosing out of them. Harry watched those leave the Great Hall and wondered whom of the few Sixth Years and of the many Seventh Years who would put forth their names. There were few in the school that Harry would even believe to be competent enough to survive. Given the talk that had been going on at the Hufflepuff table, Cedric Diggory was going to be putting his name forth for them.
Harry had no clue who was going to put their name forward for Gryffindor. He wasn’t even sure if Ravenclaw would put forth someone. Harry figured that many of the Slytherins were going to put their name in.
Harry woke the next morning. He was full of dread and didn’t know why. Harry pulled the map out from under his pillow.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” Harry said as he tapped it. The layout of the castle started to spread before him. He checked all the teachers’ rooms and saw that they were indeed who they should be. Bagman and Crouch were who they should be. There were no other names that stuck out. Harry knew the names of the First Years from the Sorting so he could check that as well. Harry knew that he would be checking the map every morning as a precaution.
Harry wondered if there were a bunch of people camped around the Goblet. Harry knew that many of the younger students were going to watch as each person put their name in. They didn’t want to miss any of the action. Harry though had other thoughts. He had a little bit of homework to do and he wanted to look at some of the Wizarding Laws in the library. Harry figured that Hermione was up to spending the day in the library with him. Harry was going to let Ron fly on his broom for the day if he wanted. Harry didn’t figure that Ron would turn him down.
Harry looked over. Seamus, Neville, Ron, and Dean were all still asleep. Harry looked at his watch. It was just a little after six. He had a while before any of them were going to get up. Harry grabbed his backpack that also had his bag of books in it. He quickly got dressed and went down to the common room. Hermione was sitting and looking through a book of hers. It was a book for Muggle-borns. It was all about Wizarding Society and its differences from Muggle Society. Harry looked at the page she was on and saw that it was all about House Elves.
“Wanna go to the library?” Harry asked.
Hermione jumped a little and dropped her book. She turned to glare at him.
“You could have made some noise.”
“I wasn’t exactly quiet. It’s not my fault you weren’t listening.”
“What are you going to the library for?”
“Wanna look some things up on Wizarding Laws and Regulations. I thought you might help me.”
“What exactly are we looking up?”
“Just some things.” Harry looked around the room and then back at her. Walls had ears. She knew that and she nodded. She tucked her book into her bag and stood up. Harry held out his arm and she tucked herself into his side. They walked to the library exactly like that. The only “people” that they ran into were ghosts and few Durmstrang students. Of course, no one gave them a second glance. There was no one in the library. Madame Pinch was shelving books from the day before.
“Madame, where are the law books?”
Pinch looked at him with a glare. Harry knew that she hated students bugging her but this was her job.
“Why do you want to know?”
“Since neither of us was really brought up in the Wizarding World, we really don’t know much that others would know from just existing in this world. I wanted to look at laws.”
“This way.” Pinch stepped away from her desk and quickly showed them the direction that the books were held. Harry smiled after she left.
“I really hope that when our children go here a better librarian is found.”
“How can she work here in a library and not want to help others. Still let’s get this book here.” Hermione pointed at a book that said on the side, Wizarding Laws and Their Changes Through the Ages. Harry nodded at her and she pulled it down. Harry grabbed the title he was looking for. Orphans and Their Magical Rights was the title and Harry knew what to look for in it. They took their books back to the closest table and sat down with them. Harry looked and found the section that he was looking for. Dumbledore had broken the law when it came to placing Harry when he had been one year old.
Harry should have been given to a magical family first and then only as a last resort given to Muggles, no matter the blood relation. Of course the will of parents would have given the choice of who he was supposed to have been given to. If everyone in the will was unable or unwilling to take him then other families would be asked first. Dumbledore broke the law by giving him to others before going through the law. Much like he had looked the other way when Sirius had been thrown in jail. Harry was thinking more and more that Dumbledore wanted Harry to be so thankful for the Wizarding world saving him from his Aunt and Uncle that he would have given his life for them at the first chance. His father had stopped that cold in its tracks. Harry and his father were not even sure if the prophecy was still in effect. Harry had stopped him once.
Harry looked up at Hermione and wondered if she would think the same thing? Hermione smiled at him and Harry noticed that he was being watched again. Astoria was standing in a book stack about twenty feet away. She would read a page and then look up at him. Harry looked at his watch and saw that it was after seven. Hermione seemed engrossed in the book she was reading and he touched her hand.
“Breakfast?” Harry asked.
Hermione showed Harry the page that she was reading. It was about the Animagus and the rules about them. Harry was that he had until he was twenty one to register with the Ministry. Harry smiled as she closed the book. They left them where they were and then told Pince that they would back and then they left.
Harry and Hermione did spend the day looking up whatever law they wanted to in the Library while Ron flew around. Come dinner Ron was exhausted and Harry and Hermione were mentally tired. Harry found out a good many things. Hermione spent the day looking at House Elves and the laws around them. She found out that the House Elves were actually treated better by most Wizards than most animals. She found out that they had been a dying race when found by a Wizard and they have only spread since then. Hermione’s dreams of freeing them went out the window at that point.
The Great Hall was full of noise. By the time that the three made it, almost every other person in the castle was there, including all the ghosts. Harry wasn’t surprised. They endured another speech while the Goblet finished its decision. Finally it was ready. The Goblet spit out the first name.
“The Champion for Durmstrang will be Viktor Krum.” The room erupted in a giant round of applause. Viktor made his way to the waiting room, to await the other two champions. The Goblet spit out another sheet of paper. “The Champion for Beauxbatons is Fleur Delacour.” The rest of those from Beauxbatons were very disappointed. A good healthy applause came from all the students. The Goblet spit out its last name. “The Champion for Hogwarts is Cedric Diggory.” A round of applause that was ten times greater than Viktor’s erupted from the students. Dumbledore started to speak about giving their support to the Champions when he suddenly stopped speaking. Everyone’s eyes were on the Goblet. It was spitting out another name. Dumbledore caught the paper and looked at it and then at the Gryffindor table. “The Champion for The Magical Academy of America is Harry Potter.”
Harry looked around his table at the others at it. Fred and George still bore beards from their attempt. Harry stood up from the table and made his way to the front of the Great Hall. Complete silence ushered him to the front of the hall. Someone had put his name in the cup under another school’s name. He found Snape and locked eyes with him.
I didn’t do it! Harry practically screamed through Legilimency. Snape nodded and barely moved his head towards the door. Harry trudged his way. The silence was over and the room was starting to roar. Everyone wanted to know how he had put his name in the Goblet. Harry didn’t want to look his classmates in the eye.
The three other Champions turned to look at him as he entered. Cedric looked at Harry with shock on his face.
“You have the worst luck don’t you?” Cedric asked. Harry nodded. Cedric waved him over to stand with them.
“I didn’t put my name in. It said that I was from the Magical Academy of America.”
“Harry, the ghosts watched the cup all night long. The Bloody Baron just told us about you being chosen. He doesn’t understand who could have done it,” Cedric put his arm around Harry and gave him a half hug.
“Only strong magics could have done it,” Fleur said with her heavy accent. Viktor nodded.
“Someone wants you dead, Harry. We know this. We need to make a pact here. None of us are going to die. Yes, we have to win but we will do it with honor. Agreed?”
“The moment his name came out, this stopped being a friendly game. Someone is trying to manipulate this,” Fleur agreed.
“We fight with honor,” Viktor agreed.
The four Champions turned to face the adults who were entering the room, fighting. Harry felt a little better. He still didn’t know how he was going to make it through this alive but at least the others were not going to forsake him.
Chapter Thirty One-Worthy Opponents
“He has to compete. His name came out of the cup. It is a binding magical agreement.” Crouch looked back at the rest of the people following him. Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick, Bagman, Karkaroff, and Maxime were all looking upset.
“He is to blame. Potter always does things that he is not supposed to.”
“Thank you, Severus. I am sure that we agree that he did not put his name in. the Goblet itself tells us that it thinks there are four schools participating. That is a good bit of magic. Even a Seventh Year would find it very hard to cast that magic. The school ghosts were watching the Goblet carefully. Potter it seems did not even go near it. Many students paused near it and many of the teachers spent time watching the students around it.”
“What are you thinking, Albus?” Karkaroff asked.
“Someone magicked the Goblet from a short distance and then forced a student to put the name in. Someone wants Harry to be in this.”
“We can’t stop it. There is too much tied into this.” Bagman looked around the room at the adults.
“Potter has agreed to compete with us.” Viktor looked at Karkaroff and nodded. Fleur looked at her Headmistress and nodded as well. Cedric didn’t do anything but stare at Dumbledore.
“This is something that only one person can win,” Crouch said looking at the children like they were idiots.
“We understand but surely we must still act with decorum and compassion. Potter is young yes but I am sure that with a little help from us he can compete just as well. We will all compete and know what we are facing or we will all step down.” Fleur looked at her fellows after giving her speech. They each nodded.
“I think that can be arranged.” Dumbledore looked at Karkaroff and Maxime before looking at the two from the Ministry.
“Yes. Fine. The First Task is dragons. You have to get past a dragon. That is all that we are telling you.”
Harry looked at Dumbledore.
“I still think that Potter should be questioned,” Karkaroff demanded.
“Potter has a very strong mind,” Snape said. He looked at the former Death Eater. “It would a great deal of Veritaserum to get him to spill his secrets and we are not allowed to use that on students without Ministry approval. The Minister I am sure will not grant that for use on him for this.”
“He must be questioned!” Karkaroff yelled.
“He is a child. I am sure that he will be injured in the First Task and unable to participate in the rest.” Maxime simpered a little and then she motioned for Fleur. They left the room. Karkaroff and Viktor followed.
“Potter, Diggory, please there are a few things,” McGonagall said as she waved them both towards her and Diggory. “We have your consent, Diggory bur Potter you are underage. I will give you a form you can send to your father. I have his old signature on file with your permission to go to Hogsmeade. I am sure though that it will all be in order. Diggory, please help him.”
“I will, Ma’am. Don’t worry. Whoever put his name in expecting something to happen will be disappointed.”
“Yes, that does seem to be the thing. Harry, who is after you now?”
“Any Death Eater that is still out there. Professor, I need to write to my father as soon as possible. He will be outraged and will want this looked into.”
“It will be, Potter. I promise. Now, off you go. To bed. The feast is over and I am sure that your roommates will want to have a chat with you.”
Cedric put his arm around Harry and they both walked off. Harry tried to think back and see if he could remember his father’s face just as his name came out of the cup. Of course, his father couldn’t really react but subtle movements of his eyes would tell Harry how he truly felt.
“How will your father react?”
“I am sure that he will be mad that this has happened but he should trust that I can take care of myself and stop if it gets to be too much.”
“My mother thinks that the Daily Prophet is a bunch of idiots. I’ve heard about that class with Moody. You didn’t even act as though the Imperious affected you at all. I am still not sure how they can write that and still sell their product.”
“I’m going to write a letter to someone else seeing if they are up to writing my side of things. I’ve yet to decide what to tell them about my life.”
“I am sure that once news of this gets out then they will jump at the chance.”
“How come all of you have taken to this so well?” Harry stopped walking and looked Cedric hard in the face. Cedric sighed and folded his arms to look back at Harry.
“The Bloody Baron told us once I had walked in the room that he felt something was up. He disappeared for a few seconds and came back in. He said that your face was genuinely shocked at your name coming out. He might be the Slytherin ghost and he may hate some students, he told us that he would never put his worst enemies name in the Goblet. He feels the tensions and thinks that maybe it is time that this school bans together.”
“Wow, I wonder how the Headmaster is going to like this.”
“How has he liked your so called ‘rebellion’ from him?” Cedric pulled Harry along to start walking again. Harry laughed.
“Just think, what will Professors McGonagall and Snape do when they no longer have so many detentions for Slytherin and Gryffindor going at it. Well at least fighting that is.”
Harry laughed so hard at Cedric’s statement that they had to stop walking. When he recovered he found they were at the entrance to the Common Room. Harry bid Cedric a good night and he braced himself to enter the Common Room. He was met with yells of joy from most of the younger students and many of his friends. There were two though that were missing. Harry stood on his tip toes to look over the crowd. Ron and Hermione were sitting at the back of the room.
Hermione looked up at him and smiled. She jerked her head slightly in Ron’s direction and Harry focused on him. Ron looked livid. He had to believe that Harry did put his name in the Goblet. Harry felt his heart ache that Ron didn’t believe him. Harry had thought that Ron would stand beside him in everything.
“What happened Harry?” Neville asked from his place at the back of the small throng of students.
“The Headmaster thinks that someone put my name in the Goblet to get me killed.”
“What about the others?”
“They figure the same thing. Fleur put her foot down and demanded that since the Tournament was basically sabotaged by someone, that we should know what the First Task is. I don’t know what we have to do but we have to face dragons.”
“Dragons?” Hermione asked from her spot by Ron. “Are they crazy? Adults can barely handle them but less students. Especially a fourteen-year-old!” Hermione stood up from her seat and the crowd let her pass to where she was beside Harry.
“Yes, well it is supposed to be safe to a degree. I don’t know when but I am to understand that we will all get together and discuss the best ways to do this. I’ve been thinking a little on it and while I can only take my wand with me, I am sure that whatever I can do with that wand will be allowed.”
“…fail,” the Twins said from somewhere behind Harry.
“So I was thinking that I might just have to fly with my broom. First though, I need to learn the Summoning Charm.”
“I have a small book on it,” Hermione said. Ron huffed from his side of the room, stood up, and stomped to the dorm rooms. Harry sighed and shook his head. “He’ll come around. I am sure of it.”
“I know. I’m just really tired. This has been stressful. Tomorrow is Sunday. I think I’m gonna sleep in.”
Harry waved by to all the other Gryffindors and went up to his dorm room. Ron was laying on his bed with the curtains pulled shut. Harry sat down on his bed and pulled his own curtains shut. He cast a spell that made it so that no one could open them from the outside and a silencing charm. Harry looked at his pillow and found a letter sitting there. Harry picked it up and recognized the paper it was wrote on. His father’s favorite. Harry tore open the letter and a small key fell out. Harry looked at it for a few seconds before he read the letter.
Use the cloak and come to meet me in an hour. I will be waiting for you in my store-room in the dungeon. We have much to talk about.
Harry nodded before he touched his wand tip to the letter. The letter caught fire and Harry dropped it to the bed. It burnt the letter but left no mark on the bed spread. Harry laid down and thought about who could have put his name in the cup. There was only one new teacher in the school so suspicions fell on him first but there were many children in the school whose parents were Death Eaters. There was plenty enough suspicion to go around but not enough clues to even help narrow the list down. Harry knew that many would look at the Slytherins first but Harry knew of several Ravenclaws who had one parent or both that had been Voldemort’s followers.
Listening intently he heard the rest of his dorm mates come up over the next hour. Dean and Seamus even tried talking to Ron but no word was heard back from him. They gave up and went to bed themselves. Harry heard Neville looking though a book and he couldn’t wait any longer. Harry went out of his bed from the side that faced away from the others. He slowly opened his trunk up and pulled out the cloak. He figured that he might want to start carrying it on his person from that point on. Just in case. Harry slipped it around his shoulders and crept out of the room.
When Harry got to the Common Room, he for a few seconds thought that no one was there. Harry walked over to the portrait hole and almost opened it when he heard a noise behind him. Harry turned around quickly but carefully. Fred and George were standing at the back of the room. Harry stopped and looked at them. They were looking at a book. They were very silent while looking at it. Harry crept over to see what they were looking at. Harry saw that it was a very old book of Potions ingredients.
“This is the book we need for making our products,” Fred said with a smile.
“Yeah, it will work perfectly.” George looked around. “He is either very quiet or for some reason he hasn’t left yet.”
“Harry will go. I don’t know why he wouldn’t.”
“I’m just very quiet,” Harry whispered. Fred jumped slightly and George slammed the book shut.
Fred looked around the room before he settled his eyes pretty close to where Harry was. “We ran everyone off and we are going to wait for you to come back. Just in case.”
“I’ll open the door.” George stood up and went to the portrait hole. He opened the door, waited for Harry to step through then stuck his head out into the hall. He looked around and spotted Mrs. Norris. George made a scatting noise and then shut the door. Harry watched it and then headed down to meet his father.
Chapter Thirty Two-Meeting with Severus
Harry made his way through the school slowly. He didn’t want to make any more noise than what he had to make. It took him ten minutes to make it to the storeroom. Harry looked around the hall before he put the key in the lock. Harry quickly entered the room and found that another door was open at the back. Harry kept his cloak on and walked down that narrow corridor. It took Harry directly to Severus’s bedroom.
Severus was sitting on the bed looking at a letter in his hand. Harry didn’t want to scare him; he was intently reading the letter with just his wand for light.
“I heard the door open Harry. Take the cloak off. You and I have a lot to talk about.”
Harry pulled off the robe and set it on a chair before he went over the bed and sat down. He looked at the letter and recognized Sirius’s handwriting. What happened that would have Sirius writing his father?
“Seems that Fudge approached Sirius about twelve hours ago about trying to get custody of you. Fudge spent several hours trying to make it seem that Sirius was the only one who could save you.”
“Why are we meeting here?” Harry asked looking around the room. Harry had never actually been in this particular room.
“It is the only room that is safe from Moody. Harry, Moody’s eye can see through just about anything. I have this room spelled so that he can’t see in. He also cannot look into the other teacher’s bedrooms. That was added this year. We are allowed our privacy but the students’ rooms are not protected. He can’t hear you but he can read lips, somewhat. Be careful what you say at all points. I know that you have been looking at the map.”
“No one is an imposter. I check it every morning. I also check the students and I see no names that I don’t recognize.” Harry straightened up and smiled at his father. Harry stood up and started wandering around the room. There were many pictures of Severus over the years. Harry didn’t see on picture of himself but he didn’t expect that either. It wasn’t safe at the school. Severus knew that. Harry knew it as well. Harry found a picture of Severus standing in front of a Christmas tree. Harry saw what he was holding. It was a book. It wasn’t just any book. It was the book that Harry had bought him in Muggle London the last Christmas before Harry had started school. Harry knew that it was as close as it would get as far as Harry being on the wall. Harry watched the photo as Severus opened the present again and again with the giant smile on his face.
“What do you think?”
“Sirius will have to reveal that he knows who raised me. That will put him on Fudge’s radar. I am glad that this has happened after his trial is over. It wouldn’t have been good otherwise. Sirius is happy with you raising me. Otherwise he would have had no problem telling everyone. He is very content to right his life right now.”
“That’s what he told the Fudge. Let me read it to you:
I told the Minister that I was not in any place to raise a child no matter the age until I dealt mentally with what happened to me in Azkaban. Fudge gave me the name of a man who worked with the Wizards who do work in the prison. I have contacted him and he will see me on November 4th. Fudge tried to tell me that anyone could be better than who had me. I asked him how he knew who had you. He stated that anyone that would not be open about having Harry had to know that Harry would be taken away from him. I told him that no who had Harry was scared of the giant sign that would be painted on both of them if anyone knew who his father was. I told him that I was happy with who currently had Harry. I said that Fudge was an idiot if he thought that I wouldn’t have checked out who had Lily and James’s son for myself. Fudge then demanded that I tell him who had Harry. I told him that even if I wanted to I could not because I gave my oath. Fudge said that he would see about compelling me to tell him. I laughed. I gave the Unbreakable Oath, I said with a laugh. There was no way that I could tell anyone until I was told that I could. He got real upset at that. That also could have been because Remus came in at that point.
I have heard rumors of what is going at the school this year. Thank Merlin that the younger students won’t participate in it. Harry is safe.
My case against the Ministry is going good. My solicitor feels that I have a good case against them. While my trial releasing me went well, there is still the fact that I was put away with no trial. My solicitor wants to drag them through the courts right now. I think it will serve well. The Ministry might not be able to bother you and Harry as much.
The House of Black
“Why is the closing so formal?” Harry asked with a frown. His godfather has never been so formal with him.
“Because while he respects that I am taking good care of you, we still do not get along. We are not friends and probably never will be. We have already agreed to act civil for your sake but I doubt we will ever go any farther than that.”
“Why would Remus entering the room make Fudge upset?”
“He and several of his staff are trying to destroy the half-bloods as they call them. Anyone with magical creature blood in them. Werewolves, Veelas, and many other creatures. Remus is finding it very hard to get a job because of the Ministry. He was in France before he came back here to teach. France doesn’t have the same stance as England. They had a great population of Veelas and their families. Many werewolf families seek refuge there now.”
“Who knows. With the invention of the Wolfsbane Potion, there is no fear of a werewolf during the three days of the full moon. Veelas and many other who have some creature blood in them pose no threat at all. Harry its hatred on a scale that would boggle your mind. I know that you know about World War II.”
“Think about our world like that. If the Dark Lord and others like him continue, that is what is going to happen to our world. We will be consumed in a fight against innocent because they are different from us. Your generation is the only hope we have. I fear that if our world doesn’t change in some way we will destroy ourselves or magic will leave us forever. Our society is on the brink of turning into a large group of people who hate anything that is not them. We have existed in peace with Muggles for many hundreds of years but here and now we hate them. Muggles have their downfalls but they are not on a whole evil. They are not more totally evil than we are.”
“That’s how he got so many followers isn’t it? He told them that the Muggles would destroy them one day.”
“And that the Muggles were going to take their magic just like the Muggle-borns have been doing. What he doesn’t understand is that magic doesn’t just appear in someone, it has to be in their core. Muggle-borns have a magic person somewhere in their family. Many Muggle-borns are the product of a Squib giving up on this world and going to live with the Muggles. Then a generation or two a Witch or Wizard pops out.”
“Yes, many Muggle-borns are actually the product of a Wizard having a one night stand with a Muggle woman. It’s not as uncommon as one would think. Especially give some of the potions and spells one could use.”
“Are you talking coercion?”
“In only about two percent of the time. In Lily’s case it was actually that her mother was in love with another man but he disappeared after they had sex once. In an effort to save her dignity your grandmother married another man very quickly. He did love her and your adopted grandfather loved your mother very much. He always knew that shew wasn’t his but didn’t treat her any different from Petunia.”
“Did Petunia know this?”
“She found out not long after your mother graduated from Hogwarts. That was when Lily found out as well. By then her adopted father was already dead and her mother couldn’t carry it around any longer. She confessed this to her daughters and James. Vernon was not around at this point. Lily traced him down but found that her birth father had been killed by Voldemort a year before, along with all of his family. They weren’t much of a family just him and his parents. Lily petitioned for their things but was never awarded them. The Ministry wasn’t going to give them over when she wasn’t named in a will even if magic revealed that she was in fact his son. She didn’t even get a picture of him.”
“So no family there for me as well, huh?” Harry laughed at look at the small fire that was in the hearth.
“Harry, your grandfather left your grandmother because when his father found out about him having an affair with a Muggle, he threatened to kill your grandmother and her whole family. He was never to have any contact with her anymore. He died not knowing that he a child. When your grandmother carried your mother, a little of the magic bled over. It wasn’t enough to make Petunia a Witch but it was enough that she could see our world and feel the pull of it. Her perfect little world was destroyed when she found out that her mother had not been faithful in her eyes.”
“What are my chances in this Tournament?” Harry asked changing the subject. He didn’t want to talk about it anymore. It didn’t affect him that much but it was still something that bugged him.
“It depends. Do you think the others are sincere in their push to make this a joint effort?”
Harry described the conversation that Harry had with Cedric. Severus looked thoughtful for a good ten minutes before he stood up. He grabbed Harry’s cloak and threw it over him. Severus walked out of the bedroom and into his study. Harry heard him mutter something and then in about a minute the Bloody Baron entered the study.
“Master Snape?” the Baron queried with a small smile on his face.
“I had an interesting talk with one of the students tonight.”
“Does this have to do with my statement that the school should band together?”
“Yes, it does. Explain yourself.”
“The Grey Lady, Fat Friar, Sir Nicholas, and I feel that with this little Tournament happening and with young Potter’s name coming out of it, things are turning for the worse in the outside world. Albus has stated on several occasions that he feels that the school sorts its students too soon. Potter is going to be facing the Dark Lord alone in several years.”
“Yes, he is.”
“The Sorting Hat tells me that he could have been in Slytherin. Potter chose to go to the house that his mother was in instead of the house that his adopted father was in.” The Baron looked at Severus with a sharp look.
“The Hat shared this with you?”
“Only so that I would look after the boy and his friend.”
“The Malfoy Heir. Seems that Malfoy is rather attached to Potter. You did know that this past year Malfoy’s betrothal to the youngest Greengrass was put aside. You have no need to fear anything, Master Snape. I have not spoken a word of Potter’s origins to anyone and will not. The Hat is the same way. While we do have an oath to the lord of this castle, we were put here for the children and must see to their needs above any others.”
Chapter Thirty Three-Fallout
“You might as well come out, Harry,” Severus said sighed as he looked over where Harry sat on the bed.
“Mr. Potter,” the Baron said with a smile and a small bow.
“Bloody Baron.” Harry greeted back with a bow.
“Mr. Diggory is very earnest in his want to help Harry. As are the others. If someone put Harry’s name in the Goblet to kill him, they want it to not happen. If they put his name in because they want him to win, helping each other and making this a fully fair Tournament will be a shot to whoever did put his name in.”
“What do the rest of the students say?”
“They agreed. Miss Delacour was very insistent about making Potter a part of the it in the fullest way. I have been keeping an eye on Karkaroff, at your request. He hasn’t done anything yet that would set off an alarm. I will continue to watch him.” The Baron said nothing else he just floated away through the wall. Severus turned to look at Harry and gave a small shake of his head.
“What are you going to do about the First Task?”
“I was thinking that my broom and a nice stock of spells should do it. Charlie slipped up a little, he let it be known that he would be at the castle this year. That meant dragons. I’ve been wondering about why they would need dragons and obviously the Tournament came to mind. I’ve been thinking of it a little over the past two months.”
“You are still too observant for your own good. Go to your room. Don’t want anyone getting suspicious. Be careful. No matter what the map says, there is someone here who has it out for you.”
Harry hugged his father before he threw his cloak back on and left the way that he came. He pulled his map out before he left the storeroom and looked at it. Moody was patrolling somewhere on the third floor. Harry quickly left the storeroom and moved at quick as he dared to his own room. Fred and George were waiting on him at the door; George had their map in hand. Nothing was said as Harry entered and threw off his cloak. The twins trudged off to their dorm while Harry went to his. The mystery of what they got up to on Sundays was going to have to wait.
Life was going to be different from now on. Harry had a lot to do. He was lucky that he had a good grasp on his schoolwork or he would really have a problem. Harry knew that was also part of why the Tournament were supposed to be seventeen and over. They would be well on their way to passing their N.E.W.T.s. While their classes were more demanding, there were less of them for the students in their final year of school.
Harry woke up Sunday morning and for a few seconds couldn’t remember why he had slept so bad the night before. When Harry looked over at the bed that Ron was in and found Ron glaring at him, Harry remembered. His name had come out of the Goblet the night before. Ron finally looked away and got up without saying a word to him. There were going to be others who were upset as well all over the Castle. Harry knew that it was coming.
Breakfast was a strained ordeal. Many of the older Gryffindors were upset at Harry. The younger ones were in awe and Harry’s own class was in support of him. No one believed him though, well almost no one. There were a few that believed that he hadn’t put his name in. There were very few of those though. Harry didn’t know what Dumbledore really thought though. Harry didn’t know what to expect from the rest of his classmates. Would they be mean and hateful or would they just ignore him.
Finished with his lunch, Harry stood up only to run into someone. Harry turned around and found Cedric behind him.
“Meeting in Professor McGonagall’s office between the four of us. She let us use it. Viktor and Fleur are already heading there now.”
Harry nodded and looked around the room. There were so many that were glaring. Cedric seemed to notice and squeezed Harry’s shoulder. Harry smiled and followed the older boy out of the Great Hall. The trip was strange because they saw no one on their way to the room. Every student was in the Hall eating their breakfast.
“Have you seen the Prophet?” Cedric queried and when Harry shook his head ‘no’. Cedric sighed. When they entered the office, Fleur handed Cedric the paper and he handed it to Harry. It was an article by Rita Skeeter. There was actually very little truth to the article like normal like all her other stories.
Harry Potter Enters the Triwizard Tournament
Harry Potter, a boy of fourteen, enters the Triwizard Tournament. While there is little information being released at this point in time, this Reporter has found out that indeed, Harry Potter will be participating in the Tournament. This has far-reaching effects because it was decreed that no one under the age of seventeen would participate this time around. Why would a child of fourteen put his name in the Goblet?
Rumors have already started that Potter’s father forced him to put his name in, for reasons unknown. The Ministry should start a full investigation into the life of young Mr. Potter because it is obvious that his life is unstable and that his father has it out for him.
For more on this story and the Triwizard Tournament please go to page fourteen.
Harry threw the paper down in disgust. Fleur and Viktor just looked at Harry.
“Harry, we all understand that what she writes can’t be true. I have watched you since you arrived at the school. There is no way that a Death Eater is your father. We won’t demand anything of you. Your secrets are yours to keep. We would like to train with you though. I’ve told Fleur and Viktor what I have seen of you and what I think you can do but I have never had a class with you for obvious reasons.”
“You will find that I have been trained for war, Cedric. I will tell you about my life in some ways. I was trained for war from the moment that my father laid his hands on me but not for the reasons that most would think. Dumbledore was going to leave me with my Aunt and Uncle in the Muggle World with no knowledge of my true parentage. I was raised to believe my father was a drunk. I was supposed to come to my first year of school so thankful to get away from them that I would idolize Dumbledore and do what he asked, which would have ended with me giving my life against Voldemort.
“My life would be very different from others. I would have known nothing of this world and would have probably learned very little of it, all to keep me loyal to Dumbledore. My father changed that when he saved me from my Aunt and Uncle’s burning house. That fight with Voldemort will still happen but I will have a better chance of living. I walk a fine line right now between staying under the radar as much as possible and keeping myself alive from the threats around me.”
“You are not a child,” Fleur stated with a hard tone.
“No and that is something that I think I will change in people’s thinking this year. I have faced Voldemort in two forms over the past three years and have won against him both times.”
“Why do you keep your father a secret?” Viktor asked with a small smile.
“My Aunt and Uncle were supposed to be safe. My mother died for me and that gave me a special power as it were. Voldemort can’t even touch me without it killing him. There were wards set up all around the house, all by Dumbledore. Do you know what killed them? A Death Eater found out about my family and found them. He convinced a Muggle to rob the house and set it on fire. He didn’t use magic just convinced him. There was so protection against that. If it were revealed who raised me and where they lived I would live in constant fear that I would be attacked or him and he used against me. My mind is a steel trap as he says. I was raised in Occlumency and Legilimency. I was raised the way that I am with one goal in mind: living at the end of this.”
“There was a rumor last year that you produced a corporeal Patronus. Is that true?”
The Four Champions spent the hours between breakfast and lunch getting to know each other and what their specialties were. Harry wondered what they would be like when it all came down to it. Would they stick by their words now when it was between Harry and them and the Tournament and all the glory. Harry knew one thing about most wizards. They fought with their minds and their wands. Muggles fought with their bodies and most Wizards looked down on it but Harry had been taught by his father to fight will all that he had. Viktor looked like he could fight very well with his fists as did Cedric, of course they were Quidditch players as well but Fleur looked like she could be over powered very easy.
“It’s lunch, I don’t want someone to come looking for us,” Cedric said with a look at the sky outside the window. They made their way as a group back down to the Great Hall and found that the Ravenclaw table had a space for four right inside set up for them.
“You will find a refuge for everything at our table,” Luna Lovegood said as she moved towards her own seat. Harry looked and found that Astoria was sitting beside Luna in the middle of the table. Harry wondered what the Ravenclaws setting them a place at the table meant. Harry looked at the other tables and found that most were glaring at him. Harry looked at Cedric and he just shrugged.
“What happened?” Fleur asked the boy beside her.
The boy stuttered at her and then told them. “Several of the others students think that Potter should be thrown out of the school for what he has done. Many of the Hufflepuffs actually are at the head of it. They think that Potter has done something to you so that you will accept him as a teammate in all of this. We of course step aside to logic. As powerful as Potter may be, there was no way that he put a spell on your three as well as the Headmaster and Headmistress from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons plus Headmaster Dumbledore, Professors McGonagall and Snape, with Crouch and Bagman there as well. Potter also seemed genuinely scared when his name came out.”
“You are very smart,” Fleur said. She smiled and touched his arm. She started talking to him and ignoring the others.
“Things are getting out of control fast, Harry.”
“Yeah, they are Cedric. What do you want to do, Viktor?”
“There is little to do except so them all at the First Task, what we are all facing. They think you want the fame but if you wanted that then you could have done so much to gain it in other ways. You are the Boy-Who-Lived. You could be doing books tours and many things like that. You have not a big heart, just a too large heart.”
Chapter Thirty Four-Waiting
Harry wondered if anything else was going to go wrong. Everyone was making it his or her’s business to make sure that Harry was late for every class. Monday’s Herbology was the worst because it was with Hufflepuffs. Harry started feeling like he was back in the Muggle school he had been in so long ago. Everyone there had hated him as well. The other Champions were his only solace. They spent every evening training on various things. Their showed him some of the magic that they knew and Harry walked them through some of the fighting styles that he had learned from a family friend from Japan of his fathers.
They had fought him at first but when he told that it could mean life or death for them they gave in. It took only one session and they told him that it helped clear their minds as well. The time of the First Task was fast approaching. Harry wasn’t scared. His father would not let him die, no matter what.
One day during Potions, someone came for him. Severus kept up the ruse and tried to act like it was the last thing that he wanted to do, letting Harry out of his class. In the end, Harry took his things and went with the First Year that had been sent after him. Harry knew it had to do with the Tournament but he didn’t know why he was being pulled out of class. Surely whatever it was could be done outside of class. Colin, the First Year that pulled him out of class said it was for pictures.
Harry wanted nothing to do with the pictures that were going to be put in the Daily Prophet. He hated that newspaper with a passion. They were not any better than a Muggle gossip rag. His father explained that the reason it had become that way was because they found that it sold better. They were telling people the news that sold the best not the news that was true. Harry knew that with pictures that had to be a reporter there as well.
Rita Skeeter was the most notable person in the room when Harry entered it. Viktor, Cedric, and Fleur were standing in a corner talking. Harry tried to make his way quickly over to them but was stopped by Bagman and Skeeter.
Hello, Harry. Welcome. Don’t worry this is just the wand weighing part. Where we check to make sure your wand is functioning at top peak. Then we will be doing a photo shot. Let the world see the Champions.”
My name is Rita Skeeter.” She held out her hand waiting for Harry to shake it but he didn’t put his hand forth. She dropped hers and continued. “I will be doing an article to go with the photos. I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time. I want to talk to him one on one, Ludo.”
Before answering Harry looked over at the others. They just nodded and smiled. Harry nodded as well and Rita grabbed his hand to pull him along. They ended up in a broom closet and she seemed to love it. The interview went just as Harry expected. She talked over him and used something that she called a Quick Quotes Quill. It wrote down everything that she and he said. Harry peeked at it and saw that it didn’t write just what he said. It embellished it a lot. In that moment Harry decided that he really did need to push for a interview in The Quibbler. It was going to be the only safety he had from the masses and the paper that published the trash that this woman wrote. Harry stood up after a ridiculous question about his parents and stormed out of the closet. He went over to stand with the rest of the Champions.
The weighing of the wands was simple and held no interest to any of the Champions. Ollivander spend the most time on Harry’s wand. Harry remembered well going into his shop four years ago. When he was finally done with Harry’s wand, Dumbledore released them to go to dinner as it was about to start.
Tuesday was the day that the First Task was to start. What had Harry more worried was that Skeeter was going to be publishing that article in the morning’s paper and there wasn’t any class to deflect the fallout of her lies. They sat down at the Ravenclaw table again. That same Ravenclaw boy sat down beside Fleur. Luna sat down beside Harry.
My father wants to know if you want to publish an article in the paper. A friend of his from the Prophet sent him a copy of the article she just sent in. He was thinking that after the First Task was over. He sent me a list of questions to ask you. I would just have to write your truthful responses and let it go from there.”
I’ve been meaning to get you to send a letter to him. I think that a interview like that would be ok. I would want to read the interview before it was published.”
Of course, I will write to my father tonight. There will be more questions added to the list depending on how you do in the First Task.”
You mean whether I die or not right?”
No, I mean how you do. Where you place. I don’t see you dying. That would make whoever put your name in’s day.” Luna smiled as she stood up to go sit by Astoria again. Harry and the other boy Champions ate in silence. Fleur spent the whole time talking to the Ravenclaw.
The weekend passed quickly. The Champions hid from the other students by training with each other in McGonagall’s classroom. The article that had come out painted none of the Champions right. It had interviews with each of the kids but only Harry had even talked with her. Harry was thinking of seeing if Mr. Lovegood would mind doing a giant interview of all of them. It would help sell the article as a whole.
That night Harry decided to get some along time. Harry was standing at the edge of the unused Quidditch Pitch when he heard someone come up behind him. He or she was making enough noise to be heard but not enough to disturb him. Harry turned to see a Astoria.
“You looked so alone.”
“I feel alone.”
“You don’t have to be. I’ve seen that your friends don’t spend as much time with you as they did.”
“Ron still thinks that I put my name in the Cup without telling him. Hermione is just starting a relationship with him so she is trying to bridge peace. I still talk to her when Ron is not around.”
“It’s a two days to the First Task. Surely, he sees now how it is affecting you.”
“He’s hurt and once again pushed to the side. He will one day grow up and he will come back and see what friends really are.”
“You see the best in him don’t you?”
“I try to.”
“Friends, Harry Potter?” Astoria held out her hand and Harry grabbed it. He smiled as he shook her hand.
“Friends, Astoria Greengrass.” Harry held her hand for a few seconds and released it. He needed a friend right now. Someone new to get to know. She’s a Ravenclaw so she should be smart enough to understand why he wasn’t allowed to speak of certain things. Cedric, Fleur, and Viktor were becoming friends but this was different. They became friends because of something that was affecting all their lives. That friendship could just stop at any point. This one though. Harry felt that it would last years and be very significant through his whole life. “Weren’t you betrothed to Malfoy?”
“Yes, it was set aside for reasons unknown to anyone but them. Ever since I can remember I have had to spend three weeks out of my summer at the Malfoy Manor. The past few years we would spend those weeks walking all over the Manor grounds.”
“I’ve always wondered about what their place looked like.” Harry smiled at her and motioned for her to sit. They sat down so that they could look at each other and talk. Harry felt a strong connection to her. He didn’t know what it was but it was nice. He hadn’t felt a draw this strong to anyone since the first time that he had met and talked to Draco.
“They haves miles of land around their house. All of it is kept up by magic and House Elves. They have hundreds of exotic birds, various kinds of peacocks are among them. There is even small forest that they have created paths in. I love spending those three weeks there. Mother and Father miss me since I spend so much time here at school now but I love it. Draco is so different than he is here at school. He doesn’t have to act at all there. He can be himself.”
“That I would have to see to believe.” Harry lied with ease now. It had become a second nature to him. He couldn’t wait for the day when he didn’t have to lie about anything anymore, his friends, his life, or his father. Astoria gave him a look that made him think for a second that she knew his secrets. But there was no way of that. “Are you sure you don’t know why it was set aside. It sure sounds like you and Draco get along very well.”
“Mister Malfoy showed up at my house one day at the beginning of summer and talked to my parents. When they were done my parents had a nice bit of money, to use as dowry for me when I get serious with someone, and a promise that whoever I set my eyes upon if it was in his power he would make sure that I had him. It was very strange. The next day I got an owl from Draco. He told me that he was sorry and that he really did like me as a friend and that if I wanted I could still come out for the three weeks that I usually spend. He didn’t go into any more details either there or when I arrived at the Manor a month later.”
“Tell me about him. I don’t have much contact with Slytherin’s it’s not smiled upon here at school.”
“Yes, I know. Draco is great. His godfather is Professor Snape did you know that? He’s great with potions and the animals on the Manor property seem to really like him. When he smiles, his whole face lights up. He laughs so easy away from school. He acts so different away from school. He is so free. He has to keep appearances at school. His family is great as well. Mrs. Malfoy loves him dearly. At the Manor the world revolves around him. He isn’t as stuck up there. He doesn’t act like all life is at his beck and call.”
“Maybe when the times comes, he and I could be friends.”
“Maybe. He is a loyal friend. Well, Harry Potter it is time for you to go to bed. You need to make sure that you get enough sleep. You have a big task in front of you.” Astoria turned and walked away from him. Harry watched her walk for a while before he followed as well.
His walk through the castle was unmolested as most of the students were already in their Common Rooms for the night. There were a few students out in the halls but they said nothing to him, just stared. Harry didn’t mind it. His mind was flying. He was confident that he would live through the First Task but he was worried that in saving his life from a dragon he would expose everything about himself.
Chapter Thirty Five-First Task
Sleeping became a problem over the next two days. He wasn’t sure if it was nerves or not but in the morning he could never remember what he dreamed about the night before. He woke up Tuesday morning feeling the effects of not sleeping well at all. Harry had his plan fully drawn out. He was going to summon his Firebolt and use it. He knew that he could out fly most things. While the dragon would have mass, he had his speed. Harry didn’t know what the others were planning. They did know more about some things but Harry knew that simple was always better. They were keeping their strategies a secret from each other. That way things were fair. Maxime and Karkaroff wanted their two children to cheat and do whatever no matter what to win.
Harry was slightly looking forward to competing later. This would prove that he can take care of himself, and that whoever his father was it didn’t matter. The urge to leave was becoming stronger and Harry hoped that coming out of this task would stamp out the urge.
Classes went quickly for Harry. He was able to focus on most of the things that the teachers were talking about. He knew that the entire school was watching to see how he was. Waiting for him to crack under the pressure. He knew that he wouldn’t though. He was tougher than most gave him credit for and those who were waiting for him to crack really didn’t know him that well.
Finally the time came. McGonagall came for him and gave him a nice speech. They had to endure a speech from Bagman and then they pulled small replicas of the dragons out of a bag. Fleur chose first and got the Welsh Green, Viktor chose the Chinese Fireball, Cedric the Swedish Short-Snout, and finally, Harry chose the Hungarian Horntail. Harry looked at his new friends and saw that they were worried. He could tell that it was worry for him and not for themselves. Cedric was going first and just after he left the tent Bagman tried to corner Harry and see if he needed anything. Harry brushed him off. He went over to a corner and sat down. He knew that after his bad nights of sleep his mind was not as protected as he should be.
Harry got lost in his own world in his mind. A world that was perfect and full of love. Where children didn’t grow up without parents. Harry was only brought from his thoughts when he heard the crown cheer for the sixth time signaling that Krum had at least grabbed the egg like he was supposed to. Harry stood up and went to the opening. It was now his turn.
Harry stood in the arena that had been constructed. He was armed only with his wand and his mind. The Hungarian Horntail just stared at him from her nest. Harry raised his wand and summoned his broom. It didn’t take long to arrive and Harry was off. Harry hovered far above the ground. He watched her movement as she sat with the eggs. Harry could see the egg from where he was and thought about how to get it. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to summon it but he had another thought. Harry found a nice spot at the far edge of the field. He reached it and waited. When the Horntail’s eyes fully focused on him , he drew his wand and summoned one of the real eggs. It quickly flew towards him, and so did the Horntail. Harry set the egg down safely and then flew off towards his golden egg. Harry went as fast as he could.
He made it to the egg and when he got about ten feet way, the tamers rushed in and started to settle the dragon down. Harry had gotten his egg and done it without getting a scratch on him. Harry immediately found his father in the stands and focused on him. His father nodded and let a small smile cross his face. Harry looked back to see Bagman and others coming towards him. He knew that they had to have gotten his score ready. Harry felt someone run into him from behind and turned to find Hermione trying to feel up his whole body.
“Hermione?” Harry asked uncomfortable.
“I wanted to make sure that you aren’t hurt. Harry you are the only one that didn’t get hurt in some way!”
Harry wasn’t paying attention to her though. Standing behind her was Ron. His face was red. Harry knew that Ron had to understand now what was at stake.
“We will talk later. We have a lot to discuss. You are not forgiven yet.”
Ron didn’t say anything; he just nodded and stayed back. Harry had gotten full marks from all the judges except Karkaroff who had given him a two. Harry knew the reason why. It tied him with Krum based on what Hermione spouted from beside him. Harry just wanted to go to sleep. He was so tired. His match with the dragon hadn’t taken long but it was tiring and he hadn’t gotten sleep, it was catching up to him.
Harry let his classmates carry him forward into the castle. They had to stop and let Bagman take Harry back into the tent. Bagman gave them a long speech about the Second Task and what they could expect. It wasn’t till February. Harry had a long time to prepare for the next one. Harry quickly made his escape when he saw Rita Skeeter. He remembered that he needed to meet up with Luna in the coming days so that his article would be published soon.
Harry found his paper and quill and wrote to his father the second that he was left alone. It was now real. He had chosen the Hungarian Horntail. There really was someone out there after him. Harry sat down at his small desk he had set up and opened up the map and set about a quill to write down the name of every person in the castle. It was going to be a master list of who he has crossed off. Certain names magically went to the top of the list. Those who had family of any kind that were either Death Eaters or supporters of Voldemort in the last war.
Several names, Harry crossed off himself. People that in no way could be the person doing this. His close friends were the first off the list along with Dumbledore, McGonagall, and his father. The rest of the teachers stayed on the list with Moody being at the top. Sometimes being that crazy made someone crack. He could be thinking that Harry was another Dark Lord in the making.
He knew that they were planning a party for him downstairs. He wanted to give him time to get it all ready. He needed the time to get himself ready. It could very well be an older student from his own house doing it. Harry wasn’t too worried. They wouldn’t go anything until the next task.
“NO RAVENCLAWS ALLOWED!” Harry heard someone from in the Common Room yell. Harry set aside his paper and said the words to hide the map from the view of others and walked downstairs. Luna and Astoria were standing in the painting opening looking in. Luna had stack of papers with her and Astoria was looking for him.
“It’s my party and I say they are invited.” Harry called from the steps. The whole of the Gryffindors turned to him. Astoria and Luna entered and the Fat Lady shut her painting. Harry smiled and went to meet them. Harry grabbed Astoria in a hug and swung her around. She giggled as she was set down. Harry didn’t see Ginny Weasley staring at both of them with a glare in her eyes. She left the room and went to her bed for the night.
The party lasted for a long time with Harry answering questions of Luna’s in between talking with others. The egg was sitting on the other side of the room on a table all by itself. Astoria stayed by Harry’s side the entire time. When the curfew time hit, Astoria and Luna left. Over half of the interview was done and they made plans to do the rest the next day after classes.
The rest of the party lasted until one in the morning and Harry went to bed and slept so well. He woke up the next morning feeling refreshed. Ron as sitting up in his bed, fully dressed and ready to start classes. Harry looked over at him and smiled.
“I was stupid.”
“You were hurt. I understood that but you need to understand that being my friend means that you might me pushed into the spotlight in the coming years. I know that with all your brothers coming before you, that you feel that you don’t get to shine but that time is coming. I need you, Ron. I don’t need you getting jealous of me about stupid things. You know that I would never have put my name in that cup. I try to keep a low profile. With Skeeter making my life hard by publishing those stories about my father all over, I now have the Ministry trying to decide who should be raising me. They never cared when I had Muggles who were abusing me. Now when I am the happiest I have ever been in my life they want to step in. Dumbledore has also decided that only he can protect me. They are even trying to get Sirius to raise me. I wonder what they would think about him and Remus in a relationship. Thinking that their Golden Boy would be living with a Werewolf.”
“I know. Hermione has already read me the riot act. It was stupid. I don’t know why I was like that. I guess that I was just so hurt for a few seconds that you didn’t put my name in as well that I didn’t think. I just got madder and madder. Then Hermione wouldn’t stop talking to you. You also didn’t freak out. I could tell you were scared but if someone had put my name in the cup, I would have freaked out. I would have screamed and ranted and raved. You didn’t do any of that. I know that you can’t show anyone that but even here in this tower.”
“I couldn’t freak out. Then the person who put my name in there would know that they had got to me. I couldn’t act scared. Ron, they want me dead. Not maimed not out of commission. Dead, as in never coming back. I couldn’t let them see how much it scared me. No one can know exactly what I know. There are spells that I know and how I use them that would very easy point to my father. I’ve had to try very hard to keep my mental shields up at all times. One little peak into my memories and Dumbledore would know who my father is. Dumbledore really truly believes that if I stay where I am now that I will die and not be his sacrifice for Voldemort.”
“He really cares, it seems.”
“Yes, he does but he needs to back off. He is the one that left me at my Aunt and Uncle’s with no protection. I could have died in that fire, Ron. I would have easily done it. My father seriously thought about not letting me go to school my first year. If I hadn’t I could have grown up and gotten powerful and no one would have known. Then I wouldn’t have any attachment to anybody but him. He was thinking more of my social and mental development than the needs of the world. Dumbledore doesn’t. I have a mind of my own and there will come a day when I will show the world exactly what I am capable of. You are forgiven this time, Ron but the next time you won’t be. I will drop you as a friend for good.”
Ron nodded and smiled. “So you and Astoria Greengrass?”
Chapter Thirty Six-Published
Harry went to class like normal. Nothing much changes except now no one glared at him, they just stared. He could tell that some were upset and he was pretty sure he knew why, his beating of the Dragon was so simple. Harry used what he knew, his broom for flying and his mind for finding the easiest way to do something. The others got hurt and Harry hadn’t had a thing happen to him. He was the youngest; he should have been practically killed. Fleur, Viktor, and Cedric didn’t have any problems with how it all went down and Harry knew that they never would. Harry wondered if on the next task he should mess up on purpose if it seemed that he was going to come out on top like that again.
Even during the worst of late November and early December weather the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang stayed in their respective homes away from home. Harry was sure that they were offered rooms in the castle but decided that even a little of home was better than nothing at all.
Harry’s classes didn’t change much and neither did his homework, other than it kept getting larger and more complex. On the side he wondered about the egg. He opened it at all hours of the day and even on the nights of a full moon and still it was the loud noise that hurt his whole body to hear. Over the Christmas holiday he vowed to look up things on eggs in the library. He wondered if the clue lay in what type of egg it was.
Finally around the beginning of December his article in The Quibbler finally came out. Harry knew that it change everything. Harry received a copy of it first thing the morning that it came out. It wasn’t a giant front page worthy story. It has a small byline on the bottom but Harry knew why, people wouldn’t notice and would have starting reading the whole thing before noticing it. Harry turned to page sixteen and starting reading.
The Real Harry Potter!
Harry James Potter, 14, sat down with my own daughter to answer some questions after the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament. He was tired but answered questions that she put forth to him quickly. Luna has been at school with him for three years and tells me that he is one of the nicest students there. He knows everyone by name and treats everyone equal. Harry answered several questions that burn on everyone’s minds.
“I grew up with my Aunt and Uncle until they were killed. I was treated worse than a slave there. I cooked and cleaned from the age of three. Hearing that my father was a drunk and jobless. I was told on a daily basis that parents were worthless and died in a car accident.
After my father rescued me from their house while it was burning, he told me the truth of who I was. I learned that I was not a freak as I had been called day to day. I learned from him how to be strong and to stand up to those who prey upon those who are weaker than they. I have studied magic so that I can protect myself. There are those who feel that I cannot chose my life. They are the ones who left me with those who would have seen me turn into someone like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I would have been cruel and hated anyone that was not like me.
I could have become so much worse than him. I would have been an unknown. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would have found me with them and destroyed who I was. Who knows what would have happened then. Everyone believes that he is gone but I don’t think that he is. How could have a one-year-old destroyed the worst Dark Wizard in a very long time, he couldn’t have.
My father loves me and has taught me right from wrong. Whose right and wrong you will have to find out when I become a man. I have learned everything from him and I love him dearly. I know that there are those who think that my father cannot protect me but I say this. If he could not protect me, don’t you think that you would have found me by now and so wouldn’t those who put my name in the Goblet.
I did not put my name in for the Tournament. I have tried to stay out of the public eye and I keep getting brought back into it. My name was put into the Goblet with foul things in mind. The person who did it either wants me harmed or dead. There were tests that could have been done to see if I had done it or not. Others in the school tried and could not get past it why am I any different? If it had been Ronald Weasley or Neville Longbottom whose name had come up, there would have been an investigation. I wasn’t given the chance of not participating. I have to fight with other students who have two to three years of education above me. Luckily, they have taken me under their wing. They are trying to keep me alive when the whole world seems to want me dead or under their control.
Harry Potter may be a child but he has a lot on his mind it seems. I for one think that it seems that those who seek to control Harry and take him from his father need to stay away and let Harry grow up on his own. I know that searches have been made for young Potter and if you can’t find him don’t you think that maybe he really is safe where he is?
Harry smiled and closed the article. He looked around and saw that many were reading over the few Quibbler’s that people actually got at the school. Then he saw that there were more than normal. Harry scanned the room quickly and found that Luna had a giant stack of them at the other end of the Ravenclaw table and was selling them. Harry laughed and then noticed that those who had already read the article were staring at him. That was also when he noticed that Dumbledore was staring at him hard from the front of the Great Hall.
The doors of the Great Hall banging open made everyone jump, even Harry. Almost at the same time everyone turned to see who had entered. Harry gulped when he saw that it was Fudge. In his hand was the Quibbler. Harry didn’t see him reading it to someone must have told him about the article. Dumbledore stood up and when he got to Harry he stopped. Harry stood up and started walking with him.
When they arrived at the outside of Dumbledore’s office, Harry saw that all four Heads of House were standing outside waiting. Harry looked down and didn’t look up at all. He just followed the adults into the office.
“Don’t act like that. You will not get in any kind of trouble for anything you do.” Harry heard in his head. Harry then stood up proud and looked Fudge in the eye as he and Dumbledore settled themselves on the other side of the desk. Harry sat down and McGonagall sat beside him. Flitwick and Sprout stood on Harry’s side of the desk and Severus went to stand on the other side. They all faced Harry.
“What was the purpose of this interview?” Fudge asked.
“To show my side of what Rita Skeeter has been writing. Since no one else was going to stop her, I decided that I should. Since she was publishing things without any basis I figured that people would want to hear from me what is really going on in my life. I figured that even if I sat down with someone from the Daily Prophet my article would never get published. I knew that Luna Lovegood’s father owned The Quibbler and I was sure that he would publish the article for me. I contacted him a while back about it and with my name being submitted for the Triwizard Tournament, I knew that her stories would get more outlandish.”
“You feel that you have the right to correct you elders?”
Harry laughed and that just made Fudge huff out an angry breath of air. “No, Sir. I think that I have the right to correct anyone who is telling lies about my life. How does she know any of that? If she thinks that someone is feeding her the truth about my life you need to see who that is because I will take a Wizard’s Oath that I am telling the truth about my life and not her.”
“I think that maybe we should try the Veritaserum again. Force this child to tell us where his father is.”
“Veritaserum?” Flitwick asked. He looked over at Harry and saw that Harry was staring at him hard.
“You have the right to use it on a child?” McGonagall asked.
“Yes, the Wizengamot gave me the right to use it on Mr. Potter so that the truth of his life would come forward.”
“That is preposterous! Albus, you would let this man use it on Mr. Potter. He is but a child.”
“It seems that his life is something that needs revealed. I trust that this goes no further than this room. The last time he admitted that his father was Regulus Black. We have searched all over but all records of him ended with his death at Voldemort’s hand. Either has been lied to or Mr. Black is very good at hiding himself.”
“Surely there are other means of asking him to give up the information.”
“Minerva, this boy has not given us a bit of information about where he lives or who he lives with that wasn’t taken with the Veritaserum.”
“What about his Godfather? Sirius Black.”
“Mr. Black refuses to sue for custody of Mr. Potter this past year. I approached him myself and told him that he would have the full backing of the Ministry but he threw it in my face.”
“Yes, well Sirius feels I am safe in the hands of his brother doesn’t he. Plus, with all the laws you are putting out there about half breeds and the such, he wouldn’t want to be seen supporting you in any way. He was hand-fasted to a werewolf just after my parents married all those years ago. They knew that they would never be able to get married in the traditional way so they did it as best they could.” At Fudge’s blank look Harry sighed. “I am talking of Remus Lupin. I am sure that when you had people looking into Sirius’s life you found that Remus was very in it.”
“Of course, but no one knew that they were involved. How do you know all of this?”
“Sirius told me himself and so did Regulus.”
“Harry, I am sorry but I cannot let this continue.” Harry turned back to Flitwick. “Minister, Albus, I spent much time with Lily while she was here at Hogwarts. That was when I found out that she was adopted. He father was a full blooded Wizard of the Smithington lineage. I don’t what whatever one here knows about that certain family but they passed on a nice trait. They were immune to the Veritaserum potion. It is a very dominant trait and would have been passed to her and then to Harry as well. I thought about whether I should tell you but I feel that you should know. It is probably why he is able to resist you as well Albus with your Legilimency. People with the Smithington blood tend to have very hard to get into minds.”
“Thank you, Filius.” Dumbledore looked over at Harry but Harry wasn’t looking at him. Harry was looking at Fudge.
“You lied?” Fudge asked.
Harry laughed at him and looked around the room. Everyone was focused on him. His father’s eyes were closed in thought but his head was turned towards Harry. “You never asked if it was working. I just answered your questions.”
“I could go to the Ministry and get approval for me to compel you to answer me.”
“You don’t honestly think that you can keep me here do you? I could leave whenever I wanted. You would never find me. My father only wants me here do that I can get to know my peers. I am sure that the majority of the Wizarding World, especially those from other countries that would love to know what lengths you would go to invade the privacy of your citizens. You are not concerned with anyone else’s lives. You left other children with Death Eaters and don’t think about the life they will have.”
“You are the Chosen One!” Fudge practically yelled.
Harry cocked his head to the side to look at the Minister.
“You meant that prophecy that sits in the Department with Voldemort’s name on it and mine added afterward? I got a nice letter about that from my family solicitor a few years ago about that. I was given the full copy of it from the mouth of Trelawney. My mother had it copied over so that if something did happen to them, I would know everything that I needed.”
“Then you know why you surviving is of such great importance.”
“No, I don’t. I defeated him then. We were both alive now we are not. The next time he gets a human body it will be someone else’s job to take him down. I am a child. Whatever magic there was in me at that time is gone. If he entered this room right now, I think that I would die at his hands this time and there is no coming back for me.” Harry looked over at Flitwick. “I don’t blame you nor am I mad at you. I didn’t know my mother’s father’s surname. Thank you for giving that to me. I know that the family was eradicated during the war.”
“You are welcome.”
“Harry,” Dumbledore started. Harry turned back to look at him with a hard glare. “I think that your father is misleading you about this Prophecy.”
“He never told me nothing of it. I went to my family’s solicitor’s office on my own. He took me there but he was not at the meeting. I am only going by what he told me and what I think. It does not speak of great battles lasting for years. He marked me as his equal when he chose me over Neville and then he died. Now I have classes that I need to be going to. Minister if you want to speak to me again, you need to go through my solicitor. He will expecting your letter. I am sure that the Headmaster can give you his name.”
Harry stood up and left the office with his back held high. His secrets were fast coming out and he didn’t know how to stop them.
Chapter Thirty Seven-The Gloves Are Off
After what happened in the Headmaster’s office Harry didn’t trust that incoming and outgoing mail would be safe. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get any mail from his solicitor without Dumbledore reading them. The next day he got his answer when he was given back his homework from Severus and inside was a small letter from his solicitor telling him that his father had updated him and he knew the procedure of what was to be expected.
When Harry made it back to his room before dinner, he found that his room had been ransacked. Everyone’s things had been messed with and Seamus, Neville, and Ron were furious, Dean wasn’t back to the rooms yet.
“Were they after your things?” Neville asked with a whisper. Harry nodded his answer back. Luckily the map, cloak, and magicked bag were with him and were not found. He didn’t want to have that conversation with the Headmaster. While Dumbledore did know about the Cloak, it would better if he thought Harry hadn’t brought it with him.
“Yeah, I really think that they wanted to know all my secrets and thought they would find them here. He must think that I am dumb. I think that I should start doing things with the gloves off.”
“Sorry it’s a Muggle saying. I won’t let him run me over and I will keep my eyes open. He’s an enemy on my list and will be treated as such. There is so much he could have done to protect me,” whispered Harry to Neville and Ron. He was mad. He was supposed to be safe here. Harry looked around and saw that Seamus was not paying attention to them. Harry moved his wand and muttered a cleaning spell. Everything in the room went back to where it was supposed to be. Seamus looked at him and gave him a grin and giant thumbs up. Harry grabbed Neville and Ron and pulled them out of the rooms. Harry kept his bag on him. He wasn’t going to ever not have it on him in one way or another.
“I need your help. I need you two to come with me. First, though we need to get Hermione. She’ll enjoy this a lot.”
Neither of the other two boys said a thing. They just followed Harry as they searched for Hermione. They found her on her way to the library. Harry didn’t say much just motioned with his hand that she needed to follow. They made their way up to the seventh floor. No words were spoke until Harry stopped in front of a tapestry of a man trying to teach Trolls to ballet dance. Ron was staring at the tapestry and almost didn’t hear Hermione exclaim. Ron turned and there on the opposite wall was a door that hadn’t been there the moment before.
Smiling, Harry walked over to the door and opened it. He ushered the other three in quickly and then looked around before entering and shutting the door himself.
The room as magnificent. There was a long table in then center with over twenty places with chairs it. There was only plates placed on four of the spots though.
“Severus told me about this room. It’s called the Room of Requirement. The House Elves call it the Come and Go Room. It contains within it everything that any one could ever want. We are safe here unless someone really wanted in. Lets say that we are in here and Dumbledore knows it and uses magic to get in. He would have to break down the walls. The Room would never just let him in.”
“What do you mean whatever we could ever want?”
“Lets say we wanted to train in here, all we would have to do in think on it before entering the there would be dummies to fight on, books about training and the like. Today, I wanted a place we could all talk without anyone hearing us. As well as eat dinner in. I am not sure where the food comes from but I am sure it is from the kitchens.”
Hermione wandered over to the book shelves that were lining the room. There were so many books there that she had never heard of. Then she spotted some on a shelf.
“Harry, these are from the Restricted Section!”
“Yes, I have found that this set up pulls books that relevant to our talking from anywhere in the castle. There is a Potter Family history book in here as well as one for every one of my line and Severus’s family lines. I am sure that everyone who is in the room’s family’s books are in here. I know that this room will become whatever is needed. When I was young and Severus would bring me with him during the summer this would become daycare like place for kids. There were so many toys and learning things in here. I learn a good bit about Wizards from this room. I spent a lot of my first few summers with him here. Dumbledore never knew.”
“What about your map?”
“Nope, doesn’t show up on it at all. And there is no way back into the castle from this room other than that door. You can leave through the fireplace but cannot return via it into this room. I’ve left via this room in a pinch if my father couldn’t come and get me safely for some reason. Any one can enter if they know the reasons that the other people are in here unless getting away from them is the reason. Why don’t we sit down to eat?”
Neville and Hermione were the first to sit down. Harry chose to sit beside Neville so that Ron could sit beside Hermione. They has just started eating when another two plates appeared on the table. Harry stood up and drew his wand just to be safe. When Severus and Draco entered, Harry sighed a breath of relief. He quickly came around the table and hugged his father.
“Remus Lupin sent me a very nice gift the other day. He felt that I might need it with you as my ward.” Severus drew a old piece of parchment out of his robe pocket. Harry laughed. “I guess that it is Pettigrew’s copy. As Sirius and Remus only need one they also went one along for Draco to have. They are of course keeping one because it does work outside the halls of the castle. They are watching you as much as they can it seems. The letter came to the house and Rook brought it to me along with my other mail from Spinner’s End.”
Harry turned to his friends to introduce them to his father and saw that Neville was looking a little peaked. Harry moved over and threw an arm around his shoulder.
“Buck up, Neville, father is not as bad as he seems. He is Slytherin and must act like he despises all Gryffindors.”
“Neville, I know that sometimes I do scare and belittle you in Potions but think back on it. Have I ever been truly mean? Most of how I act in Potions is for a reason. Potions is the most dangerous class int the school. With one wrong amount or one wrong ingredient you could kill everyone in the room. I have wards that are on the room so that the rest of the school is not in danger but I cannot do that every class for your classmates. I assure you, once it is common knowledge that I am Harry’s father you will see a change in some things.”
“I know, Sir.” Neville reached his hand out and shook Severus’s hand with a firm grip. Severus looked at Harry and smirked. Harry knew why. Neville was becoming someone who would be a force to be reckoned with.
“So what are we doing?” Draco asked looking around the room.
“Having a pleasant dinner with unpleasant conversation.”
“I have some things that I need to tell these three without the chance of anyone over hearing. I thought this the best place. The room has already set up plates for you two, so please stay. It would be good for you to hear what I have to say as well.”
“I heard that someone broke into your dorm, Ron, Harry, Neville. Was anything taken?” Severus asked after he sat down at the chair beside Harry. Draco sat beside Hermione much to Ron’s dismay.
“Don’t worry Ronald. I have no eyes for Hermione. I don’t swing that way.”
“You don’t swing that way?” Hermione asked with her voice full of question. She wanted to make sure she was understanding him.
“Yes. That is why my betrothal to Miss Greengrass was set aside but we remain good friends. Father decided that it would be best if it was set aside now while she can still catch the eyes of someone else inside Hogwarts. He also will not force me into a marriage that I will not be happy in. My mother and father were not in love when they married, luckily they did fall in love but neither wish that type of marriage for me.”
“Wow,” Ron said. He didn’t say anything else just that. Harry decided to not go anywhere near that topic with a ten foot pole.
“I wanted to talk to Ron, Hermione, and Neville about some things. I know that you guys think that he is a good guy but he really isn’t. He does some things that others would deem evil, trying to get a good outcome from things. He knew that Pettigrew was the secret keeper and let Sirius rot in jail. He seeks to remove me from where I am safe just so that he can control me. He didn’t follow my parents will. He put me with those who would have seen me become a slave to them just because I had magic and they didn’t like it.”
“Harry, we have…”
“Hermione, Neville doesn’t know all of this. If he is to join our little group he needs to know everything.”
“My Gran has been reading between the lines on a lot of what has been published. She sees the truth in it all. She quite understands and has made me understand that if the good guys can’t find you neither can the bad and in her book that is good enough. She also had explained to me that if a Death Eater truly had you then you wouldn’t be like this.”
“Well…” Severus rubbed a hand over his forearm. He looked at the kids in front of him. They were going to be the ones who stood beside Harry during everything. Ron and Hermione knew but Draco and Neville didn’t. Neville had to accept him as well and it was better brought out here and now instead of later when it wouldn’t be as easy to forgive. “You have to understand that not all Death Eaters are the same. Some joined the Dark Lord for fame and fortune. Others because they truly thought they had no other choice. Then there were the ones who were just sick and twisted. The last group are the ones who back then believed that the Dark Lord’s aims were noble and would be handled the same way. We found out that it wasn’t so. My father was a Muggle who was very close to Harry’s relatives in how they acted especially towards Magic users. I thought all Muggles were like that. I took the mark because of that and that all my friends were doing it. At least all the friends that I had left.”
“You…” Draco stopped and just stared.
Severus raised his sleeve and showed them both the mark. Harry noticed that it was a lot darker than it normally was. Severus saw him looking. “Yes, its getting darker. We were correct. The Dark Lord is getting stronger and I don’t know how to stop him.”
Chapter Thirty Eight-Other Views
Draco looked back and forth between his Godfather and his best friend. He didn’t understand most of what was going on but he knew that it had to do with Harry’s safety and he would do anything to keep Harry safe. Draco knew that Harry didn’t look at him like he looked at Harry. Draco saw what was forming between Astoria and Harry. Astoria had talked to him about it on several occasions. Just to make sure that he was fine with it. She thought that he still held affection for her in that way and he didn’t. He could only see himself happy with one person and that was Harry.
He wanted to be in Harry’s life and he didn’t care how. As the best friends or the one that Harry loved. Draco was brought from his musing at Harry’s laugh.
“You should have seen his face when I told him that Sirius and Remus were lovers and had been for many years. Fudge nearly choked. That a Pure Blood like Sirius would take up with a werewolf. I am sure that in the next few years, we will see the laws cracking down on the half-breeds as they call them. Luckily though, Sirius has enough money to keep Remus in is Wolf’s Bane potion and neither of them will ever have to work a day in their lives. There is a Black Family estate in France, somewhere, that if things get too bad here in England, they can go live there in peace.”
“So you could go live with them if it all came down to it?” Hermione asked with a frown looking at Severus.
“We wouldn’t have to the Potter family has estates in many countries and Harry is the Heir and would have access to them. Our main residence is not in England either.”
“You said that the gloves were off, Harry. What did you mean?” Neville wanted to change the subject because he was wondering about Harry current mindset after finding their rooms broke into.
“I won’t support Dumbledore in anything at all. He has decided that my happiness does not matter to him. He’s going to do something that the Governors don’t like and then he will be gone. I have a feeling that Fudge is going to keep sticking his head in the sand and it’s going to come back and bite him in the ass. I don’t think that he is going to last as Minister for very long. I am still not sure how he got elected in the first place.”
“He had a lot of friends,” Severus said as he took a drink of his pumpkin juice. He checked the time and saw that they needed to be hurrying up. “Why don’t you table the discussions? It’s time to eat. Leave the room one by one and give it a minute or two between people. Go separate ways. I need to leave, as I have to do the patrol for the rest of the night. Farewell and goodnight.”
Severus stood up from the table and left the room. Harry was growing up so quick mentally. He was going to be a force to be reckoned with when he became a full adult. The Wizarding World didn’t know what it had set itself up for.
He wondered if Harry would ever run for Minister of Magic or would he be happy and content to live his life as an Auror. Auror was the only job that Harry ever talked about getting. It all came down to whom Harry decided to spend his life with. That was going to be the deciding factor on what his child did for a living. His child…Severus had never thought much about having kids when he was younger.
Children had been out of his thoughts. His childhood was bad enough; he didn’t want to take the chance to ruin another child’s life. Then he had to find Lily’s child. Harry’s life before had been much like Severus’s had been except the female in his life actually loved him. It made it worth it. Harry’s life had gotten so much better with Severus in his life. It made Severus sometimes rethink his life. Maybe he should find someone to settle down with and have a life and children. Harry was almost grown and Severus was still young enough to have kids. The ache was there sometimes when he was alone in his room at the house. With the way the war was going, he truly believed that Harry was going to come out on top.
Harry wasn’t going to stick around at first though. It would be a few years before he became part of society. The Wizarding World was slowly turning him away from itself. Harry was becoming fed up. They hated him and had never even met the real him they believed whatever was said about him, no matter what.
Harry had two that were going to be fighting over his heart in the years to come, Draco and Astoria. Severus didn’t know who was going to win at first but he was pretty sure that Draco would win in the long run. Every time Severus pictured Harry and Astoria together for the long run, all he saw was darkness and that didn’t bode well for her. There was very little happiness to be had in her life.
Severus shook his head to clear it of the dark thoughts he was having. He needed to keep his head clear while he was on patrol of the castle. Snape pulled his copy of the Marauder’s Map out of his cloak. He tapped it and said the words. Except for the Prefects and the Head Boy and Girl, everyone was where he or she should be. Harry and Draco were just entering their common rooms. They were safe for the night. He found that Hermione, Ron, and Neville were already in the dorm rooms. Harry must have made all of them go before him.
Harry never had a chance of growing up to be like his birth father, Severus could see that plain as day and mourned a little for the bastard he probably would have been to the orphan if his Aunt and Uncle had never died and he hadn’t taken the boy in. Harry would have never known a moment of peace in his life, Severus hating him while at school, along with probably all of the Slytherins and his family hating him at home. Movement on the map caught his eye. Mad Eye Moody was stalking around the dungeon, near Snape’s stores of potions ingredients. Moody would be long gone by the time that Severus made it to the dungeon so he decided to stay where he was and check the stores the next morning. He knew that it would be easy to see what was taken. Severus watched his stores like a hawk and since Harry had access to his own stores if need be, Severus was the only one who ever took any stores.
Moody was someone that needed watched it seemed to Severus and he was going to do just that.
“How is the pup doing?” Sirius asked Remus, as they got ready for bed. The map was laid out on the desk in their bedroom as it always stayed always open and active. He smiled when he thought that Severus now had a way to keep track of Harry at all times. He would have to remember to ask Severus who he had given the other map to.
“He disappeared for a while on the seventh floor but he was with Hermione, Ron, Neville, Draco, and Severus so I believe it was a meeting of sorts. Severus left first.” Remus looked away from the map with a frown. “Mad Eye just broke into Severus’s store of ingredients and stole some things. Severus was doing patrol and stopped at the time when he was doing it so I would say that he knows.”
“I think its time to get that parchment up and running and give Severus the other part,” Sirius said sitting down on the bed. They had been pondering whether to give it to Harry or Severus but Severus it seemed would be the better choice.
“Why don’t you give Harry that mirror that you and James used in detention?” Remus asked with a frown as he watched Severus just go about his patrol duties without looking into what Moody had done. “Severus isn’t going after Moody.”
“Probably wants to watch him. He has been acting strange, especially according to the pup.”
A knock on the front door of the house startled both of them. It was late and only unwanted people came this late at night. Remus ducked over to a wall and used a spell to open a door. It would lead him out into the Muggle streets of London where he would slip away unnoticed if Sirius didn’t send his Patronus after him. He would end up at Grimmauld Place if Sirius’s Patronus never reached him.
Sirius answered the front door and found Shacklebolt, several other Aurors, and Fudge standing there.
“We are here to detain the werewolf Remus Lupin and question him on the whereabouts of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Please step aside and you will not be harmed,” Shacklebolt said with a small smile on his face.
“You are welcome to search, there are rooms in this house that you will do well to have caution upon entering. They hold secrets of the Black Family history and will not allow you to enter alone. Please send word and I will accompany you.”
“Mr. Black, may we talk?” Fudge asked.
Sirius was pretty sure he knew what this was about. Fudge was going to make it all go away if Sirius took Harry in.
“You seem to be a smart man, Mr. Black.”
“I can be when I want to be.”
“Yes, well. I am sure that you have seen all the news about our young Harry. Obviously he is in a very unstable home. Lashing out like he did. I am sure that if he were to have a home like yours, that he would be better served by it.”
“And what do I have to do, bow to you and Dumbledore in all things? Let you sacrifice him because you are scared?”
“I think that you have been reading too much into things. The Ministry of Magic has nothing but the best in mind for young Harry. He needs to be protected. He is unwilling and unable to see that whoever his father is, that man is putting him in danger. I know that he has been able to blind all of you but you need to see. This man will get him killed.”
“This man that you don’t even know, has given up his life for my godson. This man could have let Harry burn in that house when he was seven. His life would have been better without Harry in it Fudge. He hides his whole life from the world so that no one knows that he has Harry. His Aunt and Uncle starved Harry. Harry is doing so well, he is fed everyday when he his home and look at how he has turned out. You need to take a hard look at yourself, Minister and do it quick. You keep up with what you are doing and you will find yourself out of office so quick, you won’t know what to do.”
“I see there is no reasoning with you. Go about helping the Aurors search your house.”
Sirius walked away from Fudge. It wasn’t safe for him or Remus in England anymore. They had to get out. Remus would have gone to Grimmauld Place the first chance he got. Even there wouldn’t be safe for much longer. France was where they would go. It would serve them best. Sirius had the ear of the Minister of Magic for there. He would make it safe for Harry and Severus there if it came to it.
Chapter Thirty Nine-Harry’s Inner Circle Forms
The Yule Ball fast approached and with it new and interesting things. Winky was found to be part of the kitchen staff, of sorts. Dobby was settling into the school in his new job with zeal. Harry often wondered how it escaped Dumbledore’s notice that Dobby was not a free elf. He had to be too focused on other things and letting others slip through his fingers.
Harry thought long and hard about whether to take Astoria to the ball as his partner. McGonagall had already cornered him after class to brief him on what was to be expected of him at the Ball. His father had given him simple dance lessons over the time that he had lived with him. Mainly they had been for later in life, Severus had said but he was glad now that he had been given them.
Ron had already asked Hermione and Neville and Ginny were going. The whole of the school was pairing off and it made Harry smile at some of the pairings. There were still those who didn’t have partners. They made it seem worse than fighting a Horntail. Draco and several other male Slytherin’s were the talk of the school. They were going with another male was the rumor. Harry wasn’t sure about it and he didn’t have a way to contact the young Malfoy. It was still unsafe for them to be seen on friendly terms. Harry wasn’t sure if it was more unsafe for him or for Draco.
Hermione busted into the common room one night late. She was gasping for breath so hard that it took nearly five minutes for her to actually get enough air in her lungs to speak.
“Fleur is taking Roger Davies to the Ball. Cedric is taking someone named Cho Chang and Viktor is taking…Malfoy to the ball.”
Ron who had been taking a sip of a cup of Pumpkin Juice spit it all over Harry. Harry just looked up at her in shock. Everyone in the Common Room turned to look at her.
“Whom did you hear this from?”
“Malfoy and Viktor themselves. They were in the library talking. Cedric and Fleur were with them. I was surprised you weren’t with them.”
“I decided to miss tonight to help Ron with Potions homework. But I think that I will go join them. I told them I would.”
Harry packed up his things and went to the library. They were still sitting around the table but now Astoria was with them. Harry felt the ward around the table as he stepped towards. It was Draco’s magic. Harry could tell. They let Hermione hear that. They let her hear all of that and tell everyone else. They wanted the rumors started better than the other rumors that could have started.
“So it will be all over the school my morning.” Harry sat down beside Cedric and across from Viktor. Draco was on the other side of Viktor.
“That’s why we let the whole place hear. I wanted no more invitations.” Fleur flipped her hair behind her head as she spoke.
Harry looked out into the library. No one was looking at the table. Which was odd considering who was sitting at it.
“We also had Draco set up the wards around the table. Don’t worry they actually can’t see us as we are now. I asked the Headmaster if he felt it was all right if we used the Come and Go room to meet and practice from now on and he said yes. I got permission for all of us, Ron, Hermione, Roger, Cho, Neville, Luna Lovegood, and the twins to join as we see fit. I told him that since Viktor and Draco were dating I couldn’t not include him and had to promise I would not let you two kill each other. Any others and we have to ask him before they are allowed in the room.” Cedric looked at Harry with a smile. He pulled a package out of his school bag and handed it to Harry. It was addressed to Cedric but he knew the handwriting it was Sirius’s. “Father sent both it and a letter. They were afraid that your mail was being watched so they sent it to me to give to you. I don’t know what is in it but father’s letter told me that you could open it in trusted company.”
Harry opened the package and saw a mirror inside. He cocked his head to the side and looked at it. “Why would Sirius send me a mirror?” Just as Harry said his name the mirror shimmered and Remus’s face appeared. Remus gasped.
“Is it safe?”
“Yes. What is this?”
“A two way mirror. Your father and Sirius used them to talk to each other while they were in separate detentions. Sirius is not here right now. Your father, Sirius, and I have a way of talking without letters and now we have a way to do it with you. Harry, we will not be in England for a while. The Minister is pushing Sirius into taking you and he is using me against him. We think that life will be better for all in France. The Minster there has already found me a job if I want it. Sirius would rather be my…sugar daddy as he called it.”
“I better go. I think that we will have to take up Headmaster up on his use of the Come and Go Room.”
Remus nodded and touched his mirror and the connection turned off.
“Cedric, you trust Cho with secrets? Fleur, what about you?” Both nodded their answers. “Then bring them both to the rooms. Gather everyone who is allowed to use the rooms. I am going to trust all of your with a secret that is so secret once you know you could become a target by Dumbledore and the Minister. Those who don’t want to know can back out now and I won’t be angry.”
“You need friends right? One you can trust?” Fleur asked.
Harry nodded at her while looking at everyone at the table.
“Draco, would you mind…” Viktor trailed off. He knew that
“Draco can join us, Viktor. We have known each other for many years. I will go get Ron, Hermione, and Neville.”
Inside the Room of Requirement was a large table with room for fourteen people to sit at it. Harry was the first to arrive. Hermione was staying in the hall to usher anyone who was supposed to enter into the room and scare off those who didn’t need to know.
Harry knew that he was risking a lot but things were happening and he needed friends. The fact that some of these friends were older was a bonus. He would have friends out there in the world helping him in the years to come. His father would be distraught at the rate that people were finding out his darkest secrets but he would understand, eventually.
It took over a half an hour but finally everyone was in the room. Harry had made sure that no one else could enter the room and then he turned to look at his friends, old and new.
“Thank you everyone for coming. I know that some of you know most of what I am about to say but to some it will be a surprise. I know that you will all have questions but please save them for the end of my little speech.”
“What is he doing here?” Astoria said pointing at Draco. Draco looked taken aback at her tone but he saw by the look on her face it was surprise not disgust.
“Viktor trusts him and other things will come to light during this meeting.” Harry walked around the table to stand at the head of it. He looked down the table and saw that Draco was at the other end. Harry smiled a looked at the six chairs on either side of him. “Remember who you are sitting beside. That is the question that we will ask each other to make sure that we are talking to the real person and not a fake.”
“Is this all really that necessary, Harry?” Fred asked with a small smile.
“Yes, it is. Voldemort is becoming more powerful. My father decided a long time ago, when he found me in my Aunt and Uncle’s burning house that I would never be used like a tool in the war against Voldemort. I know that to some of you Albus Dumbledore is a good man and I think that he is, he is just a trifle off on his understanding of some things. If my Aunt and Uncle had never been killed, I would have been raised ignorant of my Wizarding heritage. I would have been raised in a household that hated magic in all its forms. Many would think that I would turn into another Voldemort because of that but all it made me do was be thankful that magic saved me from that. I would have come to Hogwarts so happy and thankful that when the time came for me to sacrifice myself, I would have.
“Instead I know more than Dumbledore probably wants me to. I know that most of you don’t know much about Voldemort but here it is. Voldemort for all his pure blood supremacy and hatred of Muggle-borns is a half-blood. His mother was a pure blood from the Gaunt line and his father a Muggle which whom she lived near and feel in love with. His father thought did not love his mother and she made him fall in love with her using magic. After a while she truly felt that he loved her and she undid her magic. He left her and the unborn child. Tom Marvolo Riddle was born in a Muggle orphanage and his mother died shortly after. He never knew who his father was until many years later and one of his first acts was to kill his Muggle side of the family.”
The looks on everyone’s faces were of pure shock. Harry knew that there were very few who knew the true origin of Voldemort’s lineage.
“He hates the Muggle part of him and sought to get rid of it forever as well as find a way to live forever. That is why he does much of what he does. I could have easily gone that route. Raised to fear magic and to find out that it was family that was keeping the truth from me, my Muggle family. Those who are like that are to be pitied not killed. They need to be taught and understood.
“Dumbledore feels that unless he is protecting me, that I am not safe. More has happened to me inside of this castle than the seven years that I have lived with my father. He can protect me. It was Dumbledore’s magic and protection that make it possible for the Death Eater to make the Muggle burn down my Aunt and Uncle’s house.
“My father has prepared me for the eventuality that I will be facing against Voldemort on my own. He knows that I will have friends that will help me get to where I will be fighting Voldemort but he also knows that I would never force any of my friends to fight with me. You are all here with me because either I already trust you or someone I trust trusts you. If you cannot or will not stand with me in the fight against Voldemort, you are free to go but I will have to erase your memory from the past little bit.”
No one stood up or even acted like they were going to head out. Harry took time to smile at each of them before he dropped the bomb on them.
“My father was and is still considered by some a Death Eater.” The gasps from the few not in the know were loud and Harry held up a hand to forestall any questions. “He turned tide before the end of the last war. Voldemort doesn’t understand love and what it truly means. My father loved my birth mother and had since they were ten years old. When Voldemort turned his sights on me and my family, my father pleaded for my mother’s life and when he found out that Voldemort did not deem his love enough of a reason to spare one of his most trusted ally’s love, my father turned on him. Voldemort in his eyes was a liar and not worth anything. His methods were not valiant and he was little better than the Muggles he so hated.
“My father has given me free access to his mind, something that Voldemort never had. My father truly loves me and I trust him the most in this world. I am not asking you to trust him but to trust that I know what I am doing. The Minister of Magic and Dumbledore have tried to black mail my Godfather, Sirius Black buy using his loved Remus Lupin and his werewolf problem against him. He threatened to lock Lupin away unless Sirius sued for custody of me. My Godfather and Lupin are now heading to France, where Lupin will be safe. They have never proven to my father or I that they have my best interests at heart and they will not know who my father is until a time come that we decide to let them know.
“My father is Severus Snape.”
Harry looked around the table and saw the shock. He knew that the group in front of him would become an extended family and they were stick together for years to come.
Chapter Forty- Ball Time, Yule Tides
Christmas morning came up on Harry quickly. His inner group had met one other time to pick Harry’s brain on his childhood and what it was like to be raised by Severus Snape. Harry knew that most of the Hogwarts students had never seen a nice side to him. It mystified all of them and the two from other schools just wanted to know how they had kept the secret for so long, given that Snape was right there under Dumbledore’s eyes. There had even been a few spells that were discussed and they promised to meet again to help the two younger students with spells.
Harry’s free nights when he wasn’t doing homework, he spent going over the golden egg. It was a mystery to him and he didn’t know how to understand what ever the eggs message was in all that high pitched screaming. He knew that he would crack it and he still had around two months to do it but he wanted to make a great headway into it over the Christmas holidays.
Harry had his normal amount of presents for Christmas. He saw that Mrs. Weasley had sent his two packages, probably a sweater and some homemade treat. There was a present from Sirius and another from Remus. There was a small package that Harry didn’t recognize the writing of until he picked it up it was from Dobby. Harry smiled and opened it up. Inside was a pair of socks. Harry could tell that Dobby had made them himself. Harry look at the one that had Snitches on it and other that had broomsticks. Harry pulled off the socks he currently wore and put them on. Later he would put on the sweater that Mrs. Weasley had made for him.
He got a book from Hermione that was about Quidditch teams from Ireland and England. Ron got him some Dungbombs. Sirius’s was a penknife that could undo any lock or knot. Hagrid’s was a giant amount of candy, all of which were ones that Harry liked. Then there were the presents from his father. The first was a small bag of gillyweed. Harry wondered what that was for. His potion kit was still pretty full of it. He promised to look up the uses of it the first chance that he got. There was a book on defensive spells that was what looked to be a sixth year book. Another book about Animagus forms. The last book was a surprise. It was hand written and bore the name of Arimethia Slytherin. There was no title on the book just the name of the author. Harry could feel the magic on the book. It was protected by magic to keep it in good shape. Harry double-checked the wrapping paper to make sure that his father had in fact sent it and it even bore a small picture of the Potter family crest on the seal. It was a special book that Severus wanted to make sure that Harry knew was safe.
The title page of the book only had one word wrote upon it. Horcruxes. Harry knew the word. His father had mentioned it once to a house elf when Harry was nine. Harry hadn’t thought much of it then and was intrigued now. Harry flipped to a random page and found that it was written in Latin, Wizarding Latin at that. When Harry was flipping thought the book, a small piece of paper fell out. Written in block letters were the words “I am to never leave your reach!” Harry stood up and slipped the book in the pocket of his pants. It was a small book and fit there nicely. He knew that it had to be important and should never be let out of his sight.
The morning was spent in the common room and lunch was wonderful. Due to the Yule Ball, almost all of the Fourth Years and up stayed for the Christmas vacation. After lunch the boys started a snowball fight and the girls watched until they all to leave to get ready for the ball. Harry and Ron called it quits earlier than the other guys so that they could work on Ron’s robe and make it manlier.
Ron pulled his robe out and looked at it in disgust. Harry motioned and Ron laid it out on the bed. Harry muttered a few words and the lace started coming off the robes. Harry did it slowly and made sure that it was perfect. Next a few spells to mend the robes up some and another to turn the robes a more deeper purple. Ron looked at the robes in wonder.
“Wonderful job, mate. I like it. Now it’s time for us to get dressed.”
Dressing his best was Harry’s job. He had to look his best of the school, McGonagall had told him just after he had asked Astoria to the ball. Harry wasn’t really looking forward to the Ball. He hated it when the public eye was on him for long periods of time and that was what this was. A chance for those to stare at him. Ron escorted a very beautiful Hermione to the ball. Harry met Astoria at the entrance to the Great Hall. She was beautiful. Harry held out his hand and she took it. Fleur and Roger came down next. Fleur was stunning and every male’s eye turned to her. Cedric and Cho came down next. Harry looked over at them but his gaze was drawn to the next couple that came down the stairs. Viktor and Draco came down. Astoria gripped his hand tighter when Professor McGonagall started on her way over to the Champions.
The night was wonderful. Harry got over all the eyes on him very quickly. Astoria was a great dancer and kept Harry smiling the whole evening. Harry wanted to give her his full attention but his gaze was drawn to Draco time and time again. Astoria either didn’t notice or didn’t care that she only had about ninety percent of Harry’s attention. The Weird Sisters were the entertainment and they were great.
There was only one thing that disrupted the whole evening. Harry noticed that Mr. Crouch was not there. Percy was there in his place. It seemed that Crouch was taking a little vacation. Percy was an insufferable ass about the whole thing and Harry was beginning to not like the Weasley at all. Which surprised him, he never thought he would think that.
The evening flew by quickly and Harry was sad to see it end but it was a relief to not be in the public eye anymore for the night. He didn’t like the way that Dumbledore and Percy both stared at him throughout the night. Lying on his bed that night, listening to Ron’s snores and the breathing from the other boys in the room, he pondered his future.
On Boxing Day, Harry woke up early. He was the only one it seemed in the whole school who did. Still though he wanted quiet time for his egg and a place where no one would bother him. Harry dressed while he thought about where he wanted to go and then it came to him. Myrtle’s bathroom, it was quiet and no one ever went there. Harry loaded up his school bag with everything that he thought he would need and then left the common room before anyone else got up.
Once in the room, Harry looked for Myrtle. She was not there at current. He spread out his things. He looked around and set the Golden Egg on the edge of the sink so that he could look up at it. It was odd the sink was full of water. He had several books but the one that was really making him want to read was the one on Horcruxes. It was the perfect place to read it. No one would bother him here and want to know what he was reading. Harry sat and opened his book.
Horcruxes are a nasty bit of magic. To use them is to knowingly admit that one is crazy. To create on you have to harm to ones soul of a foulest measure that it actually splits. That piece of soul is then housed in a living or non living object.
Living objects of course are the worst place to house your soul. Your soul’s life is shortened to the life of the object you have put it in. The only upside is that there are very few things that can kill a living object that has a Horcrux inside it. The easiest and best is the Killing Curse. There are many other methods. Nearly any heavily imbued Goblin weapon. Basilisk venom. There could be many others but as Horcruxes are not that plentiful, they have not been found yet. Objects that have been made into Horcruxes can be gotten rid of with the same means except the Killing Curse, as they are not alive.
Creating a Horcrux gives the person a measure of immortality. As long as one is able to create another, when one dies the bit of soul inside the Horcrux can be used to create a new body. The creating a new body is simple and uses little except blood, bone, and flesh.
Harry closed the book and set it aside. He now knew why his father had given him the book. This had to be how Voldemort was still alive. He had to be killing other people to make sure that he never died. Voldemort was obsessive though. There had to be more than one at a time. Just in case. A scratching at the door pulled Harry’s thoughts away from the book and he looked up. Harry was loath to get up. He didn’t want anyone to know that there was someone in there. It could be Mrs. Norris for all Harry knew. He reached into his bag and pulled out the map. Just a few seconds later, Hogwarts was scrawling in front of him. It took Harry just a few seconds to find where he was on the map. Harry found his name and then there was Draco outside the door.
“Must be in Ferret form.”
Harry stood and opened the door and sure enough a beautiful white ferret ran inside. Harry shut the door as Draco was shifting back to human form.
“Took you long enough, Potter!” Draco said as he moved to embrace Harry.
“I had to check to make sure it wasn’t Mrs. Norris.” Harry waved at the map to prove his point.
“She’s waiting outside Gryffindor Tower. I would say that you need to watch for her from now on.” Draco looked around the room and frowned. “What are you doing in here?”
“This is where Myrtle stays and all the girls stay out of here. I figured it was a good place to get some alone time. Father and you could find me but no one else.”
“I could leave.” Draco shifted towards the door.
“No, its fine. I am just trying to figure out the egg.”
“Yes, I heard it once when Viktor opened his up.” Draco looked towards Harry and smiled slightly when Harry made a slight face of disgust. “What’s wrong, Potter?”
“Quit calling me Potter in here.”
“I am just trying to get a rise out of you.”
“It’s working.” Harry stepped closer to Draco. “This is a horrible idea.”
“It’s taken you long enough to catch on.”
“I doubt your father will want you to not produce an heir.”
“I have several little cousins I can groom to take on the Malfoy line or we could have a surrogate.”
“This is still a horrible idea.”
Draco didn’t reply this time. Instead he pulled Harry closer and kissed him. Harry’s hands sputtered for a second and then one settled on Draco’s waist and the other on the side of Draco’s face. Draco kept the kiss light and simple. Giving Harry time to adjust and Harry plunged in and deepened it. Harry started pushing Draco backwards until Draco hit a hard surface. It didn’t stop the kiss. But what did was the thunk of the egg falling. Harry jerked his face away from Draco’s and reached around to grabbed the egg but it wasn’t falling to the floor. It fell into the sink. Harry looked on the other side of Draco and there the egg sat open in the water.
Chapter Forty One-Matters of the Heart
“It’s not screaming.” Draco said as he turned his whole body to look into the sink. He was right. It wasn’t screaming. They could hear a song coming from it. A thought came to him. “Harry, its Mermish. Above ground it doesn’t sound right but underwater it does. You need to get underwater to hear it right.”
“I can’t speak Mermish.”
“I am sure that it is actually in English under the water. I know how to get into the Prefect’s bath. It the fourth door to the left of the statue of Boris the Bewildered on the fifth floor. When you leave here today, you can go there and try it out.”
“I should go now. Who knows what its going to give me to do.” Harry started to gather his things. Draco put his hand on Harry’s to stop him. “I am not running. I just have to protect myself. Given what is going on, I have to know all that can.”
“I know that you do. I will watch my map. If you want me or want to talk to me, come here. I will do the same. This can be our room. Our secret place.”
“This is why you put aside your marriage to Astoria. You have…”
“Only seen you in my future.”
“Your father knows this and he still doesn’t care.”
“Malfoy’s tend to love for life. Once we find that love, there is not much that can stop it. That is why my father has never truly gone over to the Dark Lord. Her love for him and the love they had for me.”
The other Champions were found in the Room of Requirement, practicing spells. Their eggs were sitting on a table in the corner of the room. Harry smiled. It seemed he was the first to figure it out. Harry watched them for a few moments before he let them know that he was there. It wasn’t until Viktor looked at him that Harry thought about what had happened between him and Draco in the bathroom.
“So why did you take young Malfoy to the Ball?” Cedric asked.
“I was not taking any of the people from my school. I was also not going to take any young girl from Hogwarts. I am famous and I know what some girls will go to just to have a man from power on their arm. Draco found that he really wasn’t interested in anyone who was unattached. It seemed like a good fix.”
“Then his heart is still set on Harry?” Fleur asked.
Cedric looked back and forth between the two. He had no clue what they were talking about. Fleur looked at him and laughed.
“I could tell that young Draco was in love with Harry from the moment that Harry’s name was pulled out of the cup. No one else noticed because they don’t look at him at when he looks at Harry. Young Harry was so jealous when he saw you taking him to the ball, Viktor.”
“What about Astoria?”
“I think that Harry likes her as a friend but Draco holds his heart, he just hasn’t accepted it yet.”
Harry turned away from them and left the room. They had given him plenty to think of. He was sure that he never really looked at Draco any more than he looked at anyone else. He didn’t know where they were getting it that he loved Draco. Harry wandered around the castle thinking for hours.
When he thought of the future he did see Draco in it but that role was never defined. Draco was just always there. He turned his mind to the night of the Ball. Astoria hadn’t been upset when Harry spent much time watching Draco. Instead she was resigned. Like she knew that she would lose him someday and she was happy with whatever time she was given with him.
He thought about what he would feel if he had to leave, go to France or wherever to keep himself safe. He would miss Ron, Hermione, and all the other friends that he had gained in the past four years but it was Draco that broke his heart. Harry stopped walking and looked around, to make sure no one was there. His life revolved around Draco. He wasn’t happy during summer when he didn’t see Draco. Every morning he made sure that Draco ate and was looking good.
“Young Master, what are you doing wandering the halls like you are?” The Bloody Baron asked from behind Harry.
Harry whirled around to look at the ghost. “Just thinking.”
The Bloody Baron just stared at Harry for a few seconds before he nodded and turned away. Harry found it odd but he had other things on his mind. He needed to talk to his father. Harry pulled out his map and started looking for his father. Severus was walking outside at the boundary of the Forbidden Forest. Harry looked to make sure no one was around him. There wasn’t anyone on that part of the castle other than his father.
He was almost to the doors of the castle when he was stopped by Ron and Hermione. They had been a little worried that they hadn’t be able to find him and that no one knew where he was. Harry assured them that he was fine.
“It’s almost lunch. Why don’t we go and talk in the Great Hall?” Hermione motioned towards the large room. Harry nodded.
It wasn’t worth trying to get out of going with them. He knew that he would have to. Otherwise he would have to explain to them what he wanted to do. There was too big of a chance that others would over hear them. It also gave him a chance to tell the other three about the egg and water.
Draco looked at his map and saw that Harry was found by Ron and Hermione. He felt himself relax. He was worried about Harry wandering around the castle by himself. It wasn’t safe. Snape had spent the better part of the year trying to find out who had orchestrated this whole thing. He was no closer than he had been at the start of the year.
Draco found his Godfather walking at the edge of the grounds. Draco quickly made his way to the exit that the Slytherin Common Room had to the outside. Since the Slytherin rooms were in the basement, it was wise to have another escape route.
When he got into the tunnel, Draco changed into his Animagus form. Draco wondered for a second if Harry changed into his much at all. Draco was easy to hid and he didn’t know Harry’s form at all. It was a secret that Harry shared only with his father.
Draco laughed a little when he watched as Snape drew his wand and pointed it at him.
“What are you doing out here? One of my little snakes must have left the tunnel open.” Snape picked up Draco, not realizing when he had in his hands. Draco was astonished. That meant Harry had never told him. It wasn’t really that surprising, really. Harry valued privacy. “I think that I will take you to my room and let you stay there until someone comes and asks if I have seen you.”
Draco sat calmly in Snape’s arms as he was carried into the castle and down into the Professor’s private rooms. Snape set him down on a table and turned around to get a small cage on the other wall when Draco jumped down and changed. When Snape turned around, there was Draco.
“Draco, you gave me a fright. What is the meaning of this?” Snape demanded as he set down the cage.
“I had to talk to you in private. There is actually more than one thing I need to talk to you about.”
“Let’s sit and be civilized about this. How about some tea?”
Draco nodded and Snape set about making the tea himself. When it was steeping, Draco took a huge whiff. It was Snape and Harry’s favorite tea. It was of an oriental origin and Draco had never had it anywhere but around Harry.
“Why the cloak and dagger?”
“I was stopped by the headmaster after I left Harry a few hours ago. The Headmaster did not know that I had just been with Harry but Harry was the topic of the conversation. It seems that he resents that am friends with Viktor and pushing my presence on Harry while he is going through this trial.”
“What did he want you to do?”
“Stay away from them all. I told him that I could not. Viktor liked having me around. I also told the Headmaster that Harry and I were tolerating each other. We didn’t speak to each other when we all meet up to train.”
“And he said?”
“Nothing. I don’t think he thought that I would speak back to him like that. I wasn’t going to push it though.”
“What were you and Harry doing?”
Draco looked at his Godfather with a slight look of guilt. He wasn’t sure how Snape would react to Harry and him as couple. If they ever became one.
“So this time has finally come. Harry is figuring out his heart.”
“I know my son very well. He doesn’t recognize love all the time, due to his upbringing. I am sure that if you and he had grown up together, he would have loved you like a brother. Instead you are the one he sees in his future. That day after I caught you and he in the park, he spent the whole night crying. I had taken him away from his Draco. That was the exact words that he used. HIS Draco. I knew then that you and he were going to be a pair. Your father set aside your betrothal for that same reason. Harry is the only one for you in your life. When he did that, he came to me. He knew that I loved my son but he would not stand for me to take Harry away from you. He made me swear an oath that if it was Harry’s wish, I would never separate you two.”
“He did that?” Draco was shocked. He looked down at his shoes. He knew that his father knew that he loved Harry and that was why his arraigned marriage was set aside but to go to those lengths.
“I am sure that your mother would have been there was well but she has the role to play, that she hates me because I used to be a Death Eater. Its the roles we play to keep you and Harry safe. As to the Headmaster, keep doing what you are doing. Don’t talk to Harry in public places. You two watch each other but that is understandable. Your mother and father and Harry’s were enemies. As to you and Harry, don’t get caught. That would ruin so many things. Soon you will be able to be public. Be public with your friends. I see that Harry is drawing a circle of friends around him quite nicely.”
“We all seem to get along. Harry trusting me so complicity has made all of them trust me. I think they know why the Malfoy’s are keeping the appearance that we are.”
“How is he coming with the egg?”
Draco blushed and Snape laughed. “We knocked it into water. We heard it not scream and that is when we figured it out.”
“And how did you come to knock it in water?”
“We were kissing.”
“Harry has never entertained an idea of a significant other. He feels that with all that is coming, it would be unfair to ask that person to give up him for the protection of the world. He also feels that having one would split his focus. This summer I will be giving him that talk that your mother and father have given you for years. Do not make me regret not giving it to him before now. I expect you to not let him get in over his head.”
Chapter Forty Two-Second Task
With them figuring out they were going into the lake to get something, each champion split off on their own to figure out that meant they were going to use to actually survive the water. Harry had no clue what his friends were choosing but Harry was at a loss. He had thought of the Bubble-Head charm. Harry hated the charm though. He could never get used to the quality of air inside of it and still he couldn’t produce one that lasted a long time. He didn’t want to have to cast it again once under the water. He was sure that it would be dangerous to try.
Turning his head into an aquatic animal was completely out of the question. He didn’t know what he was going to do but it took him all of January and most of February to even admit he needed help to Ron and Hermione.
One night, not being able to sleep, Harry went walking around the castle under his cloak. He knew that it wasn’t safe but he had to. He saw two things that night that sent his mind reeling. First was the fact Moody never seemed to sleep. He walked the halls all night long. Also Moody’s eye could not see him under his cloak. Harry wondered why because it seemed that it could see through everything else.
The second thing was when he was in the dungeon and found his father’s storeroom wide open. Harry peeked inside and saw that things had been taken. Severus came out just seconds later and found it open and looked inside. He quickly put the items back to order and counted it all. Harry knew that his father had just restocked his stores cause he was also sent some new things for his potions kit. He knew what his father liked to keep on hand and how much. It was only a few things that were gone and those items were used for Polyjuice Potion.
Severus started looking around and Harry pulled out his map. Whoever had done it was no longer in the halls. There were only five people out of place other than himself. Moody, Filch, Dumbledore, Flitwick, and Severus. Harry stopped in his tracks. Moody. Could he be the one doing all of this? Harry stopped following his father and instead went back to the storeroom. Harry went inside his father’s room though the passage and waited inside his father’s bedroom.
It took over an hour for his father to come back. Harry stayed under the cloak until he was sure his father was alone. When he took off his cloak his father raised his wand and almost had the spell out of his mouth before he stopped.
“Harry, I could have killed you.”
“I’m sorry. I had to be sure you were alone.”
“What are you doing out? You could have got caught. You…”
“Moody is the one that is trying to kill me.”
There was a long pause. Severus didn’t answer. Instead he went over to a cabinet that only opened to his magical signature. He pulled out two glasses. In one he poured a full glass of what Harry was sure was Whiskey. In the other he poured a tiny amount of brandy. That was what his father gave him sometimes when it was going to be a hard conversation. Severus walked back out into the main area of the room and waited for Harry. When they were both settled, Severus looked at Harry.
“How do you figure that?”
“Look we know that someone in this castle is trying to kill me. If it were someone under the Imperious, after this long there would be a crack somewhere in his or her personality. If it were someone using Polyjuice, they would have made a mistake, unless it was an unknown coming in. That is Moody. There was that attack at his house the day before school started. I was there when you found your stores. Moody had been all around the castle tonight. I followed him for some of it. Think about it, he only ever drinks from his flask, which is a documented fact. Dumbledore has been so occupied with the foreign students and trying to reign me in. He is the only one who really knows Moody.”
“You have valid points but do you really think that Dumbledore wouldn’t have checked him out?”
“Moody is known to be the most paranoid of anyone in the world. Would you really think that anyone could get the jump on him?”
“Except a dead person,” Severus whispered. Harry’s eyes widened.
“No, you don’t think. It fits but right now we have no way to be sure.”
“No, we don’t. I will look into this. Be safe and don’t be alone with him. Tell your friends that you don’t trust him. Don’t tell anyone the reason. We have to be careful. You couldn’t sleep?”
Harry shook his head. He looked at the glass in his hand. He drank the tiny amount of brandy. He made a face as it went down. He knew it would help calm him but he still hated the taste of it. He looked as his father downed his whiskey. As they stood up, Harry wasn’t sure what he was to do now. He took the few steps to his father and hugged him tight. Severus hugged Harry just as tight.
“We’ll figure this out and stop whatever it is. Don’t fear Harry.”
Sleep was fitful for Harry up until the start of the Second Task. Harry woke that morning with a fear tight in his chest.
He was at a loss for what he was going to do. He had no way to get into the water and down to the depths to save whatever it was that had been taken. Harry pulled out his potions book one last time to look through it. There was nothing better to do. Harry looked at each potion in it. It was one of the advanced books his father had given him. That’s when he remembered the gift he had gotten from his father at Christmas. Gillyweed. It wasn’t listed at all for any of the potions in this book. Harry never remembered it for any of his potions.
After dressing, Harry raced to the library just as Madam Pince opened it.
“Potter, shouldn’t you be getting ready for the Task?”
“I have to look something up. I won’t be long.”
Harry went to the plants section. He found a book and looked up gillyweed. There it was. It was going to give him gills and let him breathe under water. Harry quickly made his way to the lake. He was one of the first of the Champions to arrive, only Fleur was there.
Harry cleared his mind while Bagman introduced the Task and set the crowd up. Harry had one hour to retrieve whatever had been taken from him. At the whistle, Harry stripped off his clothes, shoved the gillyweed in his mouth. He quickly waded into the water and set off. He was under the water in just a few seconds. He figured he needed to go towards the middle of the lake. Using his wand to cast a spell to orient himself. Harry started swimming while he chewed. Pain started searing his throat and what felt like a blanket was shoved over his mouth and nose. He gulped the water. He could breathe through his gills. He felt his feet change and become flippers. The water was not so cold anymore.
Casting Lumos, Harry started swimming in earnest. He thought he saw shapes and figures but when he got close, there was nothing that shouldn’t be here. After only a few minutes, a group of grindylows attacked him. Harry used Relashio on them. They scattered quickly. Passing Myrtle he knew he was going in the right direction. She smiled and waved at him.
Through a dense patch of seaweed, he could see the city. He could hear the Merpeople singing the song from the egg. He could see four people tied to the tail of a giant stone merperson. He could make out Astoria, Draco, Cho, and someone who he was sure was related to Fleur. Harry cast a tempus charm. The hour was over half gone. Swimming over, Harry was sure that Astoria was his intended target but he couldn’t leave the others either. He didn’t trust those in charge to not take their safety as priority.
Using a severing charm, Harry released Astoria. He looked around. No one else was coming. A noise frightened him. He spun around and there was Cedric. He had used the bubblehead charm. Harry smiled as he left with Cho. Harry was going to wait around. Viktor arrived next; he had transfigured himself into a shark, badly. When Viktor was making no effect with his teeth and Harry was afraid of him hurting Draco. He used his wand to free the ropes. Viktor nodded and to him and pointed at the other girl. He made a slashing motion with his hand. Fleur was not going to make it. Harry nodded and freed her. The Merpeople tried to stop him but he brandished his wand. He waited until the last possible minute that he could arrive inside that hour and then he left. He arrived at the surface with Astoria and Fleur’s person with just a minute to spare. He looked around and saw that Madame Pomfrey was treating Fleur.
Everyone who had been in the water was being ushered over to where Madame Pomfrey was. Harry was wrapped in a thick blanket. After a minute, Fleur besieged Harry. She was giving him kisses and hugging him.
“You saved my sister. Oh, thank you, Harry. It was the grindylows. They surprised me. I was hurt and couldn’t go on. Thank you, Harry.”
“It was nothing, Fleur. You would have done the same.”
It was time for points. Since no one had been late, Harry was sure that Fleur would have the lowest points, and she did twenty-five. Viktor was next since his transformation into a shark was not complete, he got forty. Cedric’s points were tallied next. He got a score of forty-seven points due to injuries he received fighting off the grindylows. Harry looked at himself and saw that he also had some cuts and was the last to return, even though he did have the moral fiber to take another with him and not leave her down there. He got forty-five points. That gave him and Cedric a total of 85 points apiece. They were tied for first place.
“You have a beetle in your hair, Draco.” Viktor said, breaking the silence of those in the medical area. Harry turned and looked at the beetle. He had been seeing one like it all over the place. Harry looked at it hard. It had odd markings for a wild beetle. It almost looked like it had glasses on its back piece. Harry reached out and caught it with his hands as it tried to fly away. He kept his hands closed and looked around.
Hermione and Ron were rushing over to the group of people. She seemed happy.
“Harry, everyone! I am so happy you are all safe. I was upset and Cho and Astoria were missing from the crowd.”
“Hermione, can you summon a jar with a lid? I just caught a really interesting beetle. I am going to keep it a while to study it.”
Before Hermione could summon it their talks were interrupted with Bagman giving the information about the third task. It was going to take place on June the 24th at dusk. Before they could start talking again, Madame Pomfrey started ushering them all into the castle. It was a while before they could talk. Finally, she left the infirmary and left them to talk.
“Hermione, the jar?”
Hermione summoned the jar and Harry set about making it livable and then he placed the beetle inside of it. Harry was going to watch the beetle for several days. Harry set the jar beside him as he turned to the other champions and his friends.
“That was interesting. What would they have done if the grindylows had attacked on our way back up with our hostage? I mean they attack in groups. It would be hard to defend oneself in water with another person that you had to hold onto,” Cedric stated.
“It was dangerous. As I came up I saw some grindylows on the edge of the lighted area. I am sure that if there were more of them they would have attacked. It would have come down to being able to cast and holding onto my hostage.”
“I can see why they have not done this tournament for many years. It is barbaric,” Fleur spat.
“Saturday, everyone meet in the hiding place. We can talk freely there.” Harry lay back on his bed and tried to sleep. He was tired.
Chapter Forty Three-Revealed and Imprisoned
That night when Harry finally got to go to his room and stay for the night, he set his beetle on the nightstand. He lay down in his bed and looked at it for a while. It acted strange. It didn’t fly around the jar. Just stayed on the leaf or the stick that he had placed in the jar. It was also almost always facing him. It didn’t eat any of the items Harry placed in the jar. Instead it just sat there. Before going to sleep that night just on the off chance something was to happen, Harry placed an unbreakable charm on the glass. The markings under the antennae were familiar but he didn’t know where he had seen them before.
He dreamed that night but couldn’t remember what of the next morning. He could only remember gravestones. He brushed the dream aside and instead focused on a little of his schoolwork. He hadn’t had classes yesterday but he did have a little studying he had to do for a quiz that afternoon. He was almost done reading when the rest of the boys of his dorm finally started waking. Harry packed his school bag and then went down to the common room.
Thinking about the day before and the fact that Percy had had to fill in for Crouch, made Harry wonder. He took out his writing materials and penned a letter to the young man. He asked if Percy had actually spoken to Crouch in person since Christmas.
Just before heading out to go to the Great Hall for breakfast, Harry remembered his pet. He raced up the stairs and checked on the beetle. It was fine and still sitting on the stick in the jar. Harry patted the jar and added a little bit more of the food items Hermione said that it would eat. Some of the other food in the jar was gone. Harry was happy that it was eating.
At breakfast, Hermione poured all over The Daily Prophet and barely ate. Harry thought that it was strange. Hermione always ate, no matter what, even if she needed to study for a test.
“There is nothing about the Second Task in here from Rite Skeeter. She has covered this thing so much and loves to write about you. This is strange.”
“Who knows maybe she was fired after all that she wrote about us all,” Fleur stated as she sat down. The Champions and their friends all sat at the end of the Ravenclaw table now.
Looking over at the Slytherin table, Harry found Draco staring back at him. Soon they would be able to be friends and more in public. Harry could feel it in his bones. Everything was going to blow up in his and his father’s face. Draco was the first to look away.
“We have much to prepare for. With this Task I think that we should all train much harder. They are only going to give us a month to prepare for the last Task. Given how the last two have gone, I think that we need to be able to protect ourselves a lot better than we have.” Cedric looked around the table. He caught Viktor’s, Fleur’s, and Harry’s eyes before he looked at the others at the table. “We will need a lot of help with this. There are enough of us that we could be a nice class of sorts into the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. I think that we all need to work on our taking on more than one enemy at a time.”
“That is something that I could use a lot of work on,” Harry said. Fleur laughed.
“You’re father did not train you on that?”
“He figured that if I was fighting more than one person, I would get out of there as soon as possible.”
Fleur leaned over the table and whispered in Harry’s ear. “I have heard rumors form my home country about Animagus forms and your family. Are they true?”
“You will have to stay friends with me and find out,” Harry said aloud to the table.
Fleur laughed and sat back down. She leaned over to Roger and started speaking to him.
“Draco wanted me to stop and see him before he finished breakfast.” Viktor made sure to look Harry in the eye and show that it wasn’t a romantic visit but instead a friendly one. Harry was also sure that Draco would be invited to the training. “Pick a day and tell me. I am always free. We should have a Quidditch game sometime. Or at least we should fly, Harry. You too Cedric. Draco is a fair seeker.”
“As are Harry and I,” Cedric stated with an amused voice. Viktor laughed and waved before walking away from the table.
“Men and your sports,” Fleur stated with a sigh but she smiled. Harry was sure she would love to watch them all play.
The week went by quickly and Saturday was upon them before they all knew it. Hermione had been keeping an eye on the paper and still there was no article from Rita Skeeter. Harry was starting to get worried. Either she had been removed from the equation or she was working on something big. Harry really hoped that she hadn’t found something big.
Harry arrived late to his own meeting. Everyone else was there and Cedric and Hermione were in a heated discussion.
“She has been quiet for too long and she had access to too much information before she disappeared. There is no way that she is just staying away from it all.”
“I say we don’t worry about her and just get on with all of our lives.”
“Actually, I think that Hermione is sort of right.” Harry sat down in a chair and closed his eyes. He brought up the picture in his mind of the beetle sitting on the stand in his dorm. “She has had access to a little too much information lately but we also don’t need to worry about her now. I have her under control.”
“What?” Cedric and Hermione said at the same time.
“That beetle, Hermione. I kept it. It’s marking were familiar and I was going to look into it and haven’t gotten the chance. Those markings match those horrible glasses that she wears. When I leave here in a little bit I will be taking her to the Headmaster. I doubt that he will be too thrilled. She could get access to who knows what in her Animagus form. The Minister will probably jump on this.”
“You are sure?” Viktor asked.
“Oh, yes. Our Minister likes his privacy and I doubt he will like that she could get most places in that form.”
Harry picked up the jar and smiled at the beetle inside of it. He slipped it into his bag and then left his dorm room. The common room was full since it was only two hours away from curfew and most of the lower year students were scared of Filch. It didn’t take long for Harry to get to the Headmaster’s offices entrance.
“I need to speak with the Headmaster. My name is Harry Potter.”
Harry didn’t have to wait long. The gargoyle cleared the entrance in less than two minutes and Harry started on his way up to the offices. Dumbledore was not alone inside the office. McGonagall and Snape were there.
“Headmaster, I am sorry to bother you but I have something of importance to discuss with you. Tuesday at the close of the Second Task I pulled a beetle out of Draco’s hair. I thought it was really cool looking and so I kept it. That night just to be safe I put an Unbreakable Charm on the glass. It wasn’t until tonight that certain things were brought to my attention. Rita Skeeter has not wrote a single article since that day and the markings on this beetle are the same as her glasses.”
“She’s an Animagus?” McGonagall asked.
“Then she is unregistered. I have looked her up. She has had access to some information that is unsettling. I think that I had better call Minster Fudge here before we go any further.”
Fudge arrived half and hour later and was surprised to see McGonagall and Snape there as well.
“Your teachers can go.”
“I think, Minster that I would like them here for me. Other wise I can go to The Daily Prophet or someone else with this.”
“Fine, what is so important to the security of this country?”
“A reporter being an unregistered Animagus and possessing a form that would allow her to go almost anywhere without being noticed.”
“Rita Skeeter, Sir.” Harry pulled the jar out of his bag and set it down. Dumbledore lifted his wand and muttered a spell under his desk. The jar disappeared and before the beetle could fly away a spell hit it. The beetle transformed into Rite Skeeter before their eyes. Harry watched as Fudge’s face ram the gamut of emotions. His wand was drawn before Rita was able to right herself.
“You are in violation of the law.”
“This boy here kidnapped me.”
Fudge looked at Harry who was staring out the window. Fudge clearing his throat made Harry turned back to him. “Yes, Minister?”
“What about her accusation about you kidnapping her?”
“Actually, I took a beetle that I wanted to keep to study. The moment I figured out that she was an Animagus, I immediately came here to Headmaster Dumbledore.”
“He put a spell on my jar.”
“Yes, I live in a dorm with four other guys, Things get broke. I put an Unbreakable Charm on her jar. I didn’t know it was going to keep her in it.”
“Miss Skeeter, you will have to come with me. You are facing serious charges. You know full well that everybody has to register when they become an Animagus. Those who hold positions such as you hold are fully required by law. You lied when you go your job at The Daily Prophet. That right there will gain you more jail time. Do not expect to see the outside of Azkaban for a long time.”
“Minister, if you will not be needing me. It is after curfew and I don’t want to be caught out much later.”
“Come, Potter. I will take you to your common room. Wouldn’t want Mr. Filch to catch you.”
“Thank you, Professor McGonagall. Professor Snape, thank you for staying as well.” Harry bowed at Snape.
Snape only glared at Harry but stood up and moved to walk out with them. Harry really didn’t think much about anything he just followed the two Professors through the halls of the school. Whey they arrived in the Dungeon outside Snape’s rooms. Harry looked up.
“I need to have a word with you both. Severus’s rooms are more fit for this conversation.” Minerva strode into the room like she owned it and waited for the two males to follow her. Harry didn’t look at Snape just followed her into the room. The Potions Master followed and shut the door. Harry didn’t hear any spells cast but knew that Snape would have cast charms so that no one would hear them. “You boys have some explaining to do.”
“What?” Harry and Severus asked at the same time.
“I know your secret. The Headmaster asked me the other night to do my rounds in the castle in my cat form. It’s very easy since at night some of the student’s pets escape. I found very little except that when your head House Elf left, Severus I noticed something. His smell. You always reek of potions to my cat form but the Elf smelled exactly like Potter did the first time that he came to school. Especially the smell of that exotic potions ingredient that you grow at your house. It grows only there and in India.”
“I don’t know what you mean, Minerva.”
“I think that you do. Your secret is safe with me. This boy is the best that Albus and I secretly hoped for. I never agreed sticking the child with his relatives. I am sorry that they had to die but I am so happy that Harry got away from them.”
Harry looked at both McGonagall and his father. He was gaining allies and his enemies were finding it hard to get at him. He knew that it wouldn’t last.
It was in the next morning’s paper that Rita Skeeter was in Azkaban awaiting trial for several charges. If the Wizengamot found her guilty she could face up to fifteen years in prison.
Chapter Forty Four-Madness
Harry’s life calmed down until he decided one day to visit Dobby in the kitchens with Ron and Hermione. What Harry found when he got to the basement shook him to his core. There was an Elf sitting on a stool beside the fireplace. Harry immediately went over to her. She was drunk and based on the bottles around her, he knew why.
“Hello, what is your name?” Harry touched her leg gently. She was too thin.
“Winky, Master Wizard, Sir.” She hiccuped as she talked and with her accent it was hard to understand her on some words.
“Why are you here?”
“My Master needs me and he let me go.”
“Who is your Master?”
“Mr. Bartemius Crouch, SR, Sir.”
“Why did he let you go?”
“I was a bad Elf, Sir.”
“What did you do?”
“I was a bad Elf.”
“Winky, did you know that Mr. Crouch has stopped coming here to the castle for the event?”
“He had stopped coming? What is wrong with him?”
“All we know is that he is ill.”
“Master needs his Winky!”
“Winky, your Master needs help. We can only give him that help if you tell us what is going on.”
“I will never betray my Master.”
“Winky, you need help. What if I promise that you will be taken care of and that you won’t have to speak at all of your master?”
“You would do that for me?” Winky asked. Harry nodded at her. She looked over at Dobby.
“Harry Potter will take good care of you.”
“I would like that.” Winky stood up on unsteady feet and hiccuped. Harry smiled at her.
“You need to come with us to the Room of Requirement.”
“Dobby can take you there quickly. He stepped forward and held out his hands to Harry and Ron. Ron pulled Hermione into his arms and Harry picked up Winky. They appeared outside of the Room of Requirement and the doors opened quickly for them and they all rushed inside. Harry set down Winky on a chair that was there. It was soft and there was a small change of clothes perfect for Winky on a stand beside the chair.
“Winky, do you think that you could put these on?” Harry asked. Winky nodded and everyone turned away while she changed. She cleared her throat when she was done. Harry turned back. She was dressed in a nice dress. “You look nice. Winky I am going to call my personal House Elf here. Will that be all right?”
“Zook!” Harry called out. Hermione gasped a little at the House Elf that appeared. He was dressed in a small black suit. It was beautiful. He was clean and looked so wonderful in his outfit.
“You are beautiful!” Winky said giggling. Zook bowed and blushed. Harry laughed.
“Zook, this is Winky. She is currently without a Master and has consented to go with you home and to stay there. You are to care for her and treat her with the utmost respect. Never ask about her former Master.”
“Why do you do this, Harry Potter?” Winky asked.
“All creatures should be happy and healthy. You are not damaged, you are just different. I promise you, Winky that at my house you will be loved and cared for until you feel that you can do your work again.”
“You are a wonderful Wizard, Harry Potter.” Winky put her hand into Zook’s and they both disappeared.
Harry sighed and sat down.
“Harry, she would have got better if you had just left her…” Hermione started. She stopped when Harry glared at her.
“Hermione, House Elves, yes there are some that are treated unkind but they are not slaves. If a House Elf really wishes to get away from their Master or Mistress, their magic will free them. Those House Elves find themselves usually at house of someone who was once kind to them. Zook’s family has served the Potter family for a very long time.”
“What about Dobby?” Hermione asked. She gave Harry a haughty smile.
“He was never abused. You ought to see the rest of the Malfoy’s House Elves. They look much like Zook does. It was a part that the Malfoy’s had to play and they played it so that Dobby could come to Hogwarts to watch over me. He has not been fully relinquished. You would know, his Magic would be affected and he wouldn’t be much better than Winky. That story was put out there by Lucius Malfoy himself.”
“You truly believe that?” Hermione asked.
Harry could tell that she was wavering. Harry knew that she saw it as slavery but he didn’t see it as such.
“Yes, I have seen what a House Elf looks like if they can’t find a new place to live and work. It’s not pretty. They have to do things, Hermione. They were that way when the Wizards found them. They started out as basic caregivers for children. That is how magical children lived without being taken out by rival families. House Elves could take the child out of any situation. They are the best defense for magical children. It was also how Squib children were protected a long time ago. There was a point where they weren’t dismissed as they are now.”
“That sounds like they started out as being treated well.”
“Most House Elves know when to run just like children of abusive parents do. They don’t care much about anything except working. If you want to help the House Elves, try to pass laws that state that they have to all be treated fairly and that those who are hit while working will be taken away and no compensation given. And if the offenses get any worse, then they will be thrown in jail. That is how you can help the House Elves. Talk to them instead of trying to tell them what they want.”
“I can try that.”
“Ron would have killed you if you have gotten us thrown out of the kitchens.”
“Yes, I know.”
Harry looked around the room. It was again different. It was all decked out for secret meetings. There was even a tray of food and that was where Ron was. Harry stood up and walked over to him and started eating himself.
“I fear that it will not be too much longer before all my secrets are put out there. I know that as long as I hid, my life is truly not my own but at least I don’t have to defend my choices and who my parent is to anyone. I can handle what I have now, I am not sure that I can handle adding more stress to my life. I still have the third task and it is an unknown.”
“Harry, we support you in all of your endeavors, you know that.” Hermione touched him on the shoulder.
“I know but there is something that you may no support me in. Who I have chosen to go with.”
“Mate, Astoria is great. She cares for you. What more can we ask?” Ron smiled at himself and then put a pastry in his mouth.
“He is not talking about Astoria. They are just friends. Even if she wants more. Is it Ginny?”
Ron spit the pastry out of his mouth as Hermione said Ginny’s name. Ron looked at both of them as Harry cleaned up the mess.
“Then who is she? She’s not a Slytherin is she?” Ron’s face was starting to get red with the strain of thinking of who he had seen Harry with. Harry just looked down at his hands. He had to tell them. If they didn’t support him in this then he was going to have to find new friends. Ron would take some time but he was sure that he would come around.
“It’s not a she is it, Harry?”
Instead of verbally answering, Harry just shook his head.
“I have suspected that for a while now. You’ve never really looked at anyone and even when you took Astoria to the Ball you only had eyes for one person that night. I watched your reaction to me telling you who was taking him to the Ball. I’ve been waiting for you to see it.”
Harry’s eyes snapped quickly to hers. Hermione could see the need for his boyfriend to be accepted by him.
“Who?” Ron asked.
“Ron you are so thick,” Hermione laughed. She moved closer to her own boyfriend. “Harry is your best friend right?” Ron nodded. “You want him to be happy?” Ron say anything just cocked his eyebrow telling her to get on with it. “Ron, I am sure that Harry would have no problem wiping your memory if you decide you can’t accept his boyfriend.”
“Ron, its Draco.”
“Malfoy?” Ron looked between Harry and Hermione thinking that it was a joke but then he truly looked in Harry’s eyes. The need in those green eyes. Ron smiled. “I am sure that I can act civil around him.”
“We aren’t going to start snogging in the halls like you two do. We have to stay secret. More secrets we both have to keep.”
“Still just like all the rest, its safe with us.”
The friends spent most of the day just talking in the Room of Requirement. House Elves served then their meals and snacks.
When finally, Harry and Ron entered their dorm room, there was a black owl sitting on the edge of Harry’s bed. Harry had only ever seen the bird once in his life. On one of his brief visits to Malfoy Manor, it was Narcissa’s personal owl. It had to be important. She would not have sent it otherwise.
“Birds been here for hours, Harry.” Neville held up a hand. “I tried to get him to put the letter down and I got bit for it.”
“Thanks, Neville. Where are Seamus and Dean?”
“Out on the grounds.”
“Shut and put up privacy charms.” Harry stepped forward to the bird while Neville and Ron did has he asked. He unrolled the letter and started to read. He got half way through and then stopped to start reading from the beginning out loud.
I am sure that you recognize Apollo. My husband and I thought that he would not be recognized if he was caught. I am writing you because I fear the danger you are in. My husband is writing your father to let him know. Given that Crouch did not show up again for the Second Task, Aurors and Unspeakables were sent to his house. Upon arrival, they found the patriarch of the Nott family fleeing and Crouch was found quite mad in his house. He had been taken to Saint Mungo’s where they are unsure that he can be cured. He is suffering from living for months under the Imperious Charm. One of the Aurors is a good friend and told me all of this including the fact that he believes that his son is alive. I know that you and your father has thought this as well. Fudge is sending someone to Azkaban to find out but we don’t know what will come of that. Be on your guard. If it is Barty Crouch that is after you, you are truly in danger.
Harry looked up at Ron and Neville. This was not good. If Fudge goes and finds out that Crouch Junior is not in the grave what will he do? Harry knew that he wouldn’t tell anyone. That would be bad for his image with the Wizarding World. Harry had to protect himself and now he had more proof of who was after him. He just didn’t know where he was.
There was a good thing in all of that. She knew about him and Draco and had accepted it.
Chapter Forty Five-Who’s After Me?
Arriving in Potions class that week for the first time, Harry knew that his father was not getting any sleep. Severus was mean and grumpy for the first time ever. The only good thing was that the Slytherins were getting on his nerves just as much. His first act was to pair every Slytherin with a Gryffindor. Draco was paired with Harry and the banter ensued between them. They still managed create the perfect potion in the allotted time which was well before class was over.
“You may both leave. I don’t want to deal with you.” Severus didn’t even look at them when they set down their vials. They both rushed to their table and cleaned up their cauldron and packed their backpacks. Draco pulled out his map and then nodded at Harry. They were going to meet in bathroom. Potions was Harry last class and he was sure it was the same for Draco. They had both escaped with no homework in Potions and the only thing Harry had to do was write and six inch essay on some war for Binns.
Harry arrived at the bathroom first. He left the door propped open enough for Draco in his ferret form to come in. About a minute later, Draco did come in. He changed back to human form and before Harry could say anything, he kissed him. The force of the kiss nearly knocked Harry onto the ground but he finally got his legs fully under him and cupped Draco’s face. It was several minutes before Draco pulled away from the kissing.
“Mother sent me a letter as well. You have truly thought that Crouch was out there?”
“Yes, Father believes it as well. He is who is behind the attack at the World Cup. He is after me.”
“How can you be sure?”
“We weren’t until that letter. It was just how things were done with the Death Eaters. They never saw who was giving them the orders. Only a supposed dead person would hide who they are.”
“We need to make a list of who it can be. It could be anyone in Hogsmeade. It would be so easy to Imperious a student and then have them do it. There are some memory charms that once the Imperious wears off the person can’t remember what they did. It was what made it so hard for the Ministry. They would have no memory of doing it or getting Imperioed. There is no one one the map that shouldn’t be.”
“Unless somehow Pettigrew has let them know how to bypass the enchantments on the map and it is confused.”
“You think that is possible?”
“I have come to learn that when magic is involved anything is possible. It still doesn’t help us though. It could be anyone then. I thought that Barty Crouch was quite mad?”
“He was but who knows how stable he could act for periods.”
“I am really scared, Draco. I don’t know who to trust. There are so many people that it could be. Summer term is starting and I still have no clue what the next task is going to be. I have a crazy man after me and I don’t know why. He wanted to just kill me he could have at any time. I am sure that he fears going back to Azkaban if he kills me. Once I am dead it is only a matter of time until Voldemort is brought back. He wants me for something and I am terrified of what that could be.”
“Don’t dwell on it. You have to just not dwell on it. They win if you are scared. You can’t let them win, Harry. I don’t know what I would do if they won. I don’t know what I would do with myself if you weren’t in my life.”
“Draco, you…we are…”
“Young? I know. It is a Malfoy trait. We love early and for the rest of our lives. Father loved Mother from the moment that he saw her. I have loved you for quite a long time.”
“Harry, I didn’t know who you were at first. When I went home crying because I was sure that I was never going to see you again, my heart was broke. My father almost started searching for you then but I told him not to about a week later. I was sure, my magic was sure, that I would find you again. Father trusted me and waited. When I came home for Christmas in our first year and told him that my love was in the same year as I but a different house, he was happy. He never pressed me for anything about you.”
Harry didn’t say anything he just settled down and leaned against where Draco was sitting, leaning against the stall of the bathroom. Harry pulled out his Potions book and started reading it. Draco, taking the cue, pulled out a book. It was going to be a quiet afternoon of them reading until time for dinner.
Draco felt Harry’s head get very heavy after about an hour and looked down. Harry’s eyes were closed and the Potions book was laying open on the floor. Draco cast a small wandless spell and Harry’s glasses slid off his face and set themselves on his backpack. Draco smiled and moved so that he could touch Harry’s head. Harry didn’t react at all. Draco picked his book back up and started reading again. He as going to give Harry an hour and then they would have to go to dinner. Draco missed being able to touch Harry when he wanted like they had been able to as children. He knew in his heart that the time was coming. The world was slowing going to hell and soon it wouldn’t matter that Draco and the rest of the Malfoy’s stay on the bad side. They would soon be safe to come out to the world as the lightsiders that they were.
May came quick with the normal weather for the season. As the end of my approached, Harry was getting anxious about finding out about the Third Task. Cedric, Fleur, and Krum were as well. Finally the day arrived where McGonagall asked him to say behind in Transfiguration. He was to go to the Quidditch Pitch at nine that night. Harry sighed in relief.
“Thanks, Professor. I will be there, on time. I have waited for this. Are the other Champions finding out right now, or do you wish me to pass along the message.”
“Thanks, Potter but they are finding out or have already. Just get there on time.”
Harry nodded at his Professor and walked away with his backpack. Harry stopped by one of the windows and looked out. It was coming. Slowly the end of the year was getting there. He loved school but he wanted away from. His grades were still the best. For their year Harry, Hermione, and Draco were bouncing back and forth at being the top. It had become a small competition between them. All in fun but still a competition.
Someone on the grounds caught his eye. Harry strained his eyes. It was a body. Harry ran back inside and grabbed McGonagall. They both raced through the castle to get to the grounds. Harry knew the body as he slowed down. It was Crouch, SR. McGonagall gasped.
“He must have escaped from St. Mungo’s. Potter, go get the headmaster.”
“No need Minerva. I am here as is Severus. Harry, Minerva, how did you get here so quick?”
“I saw the body from the window up there, Headmaster. I retrieved Professor McGonagall and we came here at once. Is he dead?”
Severus crouched down to the ground and touched Crouch’s neck.
“No, he is just passed out. Albus, Minerva you go and clear the way. Potter will help me get him to the infirmary.”
“Yes, of course,” Dumbledore said. Minerva and he turned at once and made their way into the castle.
“Will he live?”
“If Albus, Poppy, and I have anything to say about it, yes. Harry help me support him.”
Not using his wand, Severus cast a spell and Crouch raised up. Harry cast the same spell and moved to the front. They were a strange sight going through the castle. Harry in front with a body floating behind him and Severus walking at the rear. They barely looked at the students that they passed. They should have been they would have seen the look of pure shock and anger that was on Moody’s face as they passed him. In that instant, they would have known who Barty Crouch had been hiding as.
When they arrived at the Infirmary, they found that Fudge was there are well. He must have been sent for the instant that Dumbledore got into the Infirmary. Harry and Severus set Crouch down as gently as they could on the bed that Poppy indicated.
“He escaped some time last night from the ward he was on. We have now clue how but he did. No one saw him leave. We were searching all over London for him. He must have Apparated.”
“Potter, go to my class room and fetch me the bottle labeled like this.” Severus grabbed a sheet of paper and sketched a logo on it. There were five X’ but two were on top, one was in the middle, and two were on the bottom. “Go now!”
Harry ran out of the room. He knew what was in that bottle. It was a healing potion but also contained Veritaserum in it. His father carried some of it where ever he went just in case. People would take a healing potion from a Potions teachers if it smelled, tasted and looked like one. Most wouldn’t suspect that it had something else in it.
“It’s my super strength healing potion. Since I have had my rooms broke into a lot lately, I’ve taken to marking some of my more potent potions with symbols. Just in case.”
Harry didn’t hear the rest because he was out of the room. He wasn’t stopped on the way to the Potions classroom but on the way back, Filch tried to stop him. Harry winced at the man’s voice. He was going to be in trouble and Dumbledore had to step in for him. He has a reason for running in the halls and he wasn’t going to stop. He arrived back in the Infirmary out of breath but the vial was held safe in his robes. When he was sure he wouldn’t drop it, he pulled it out of his robes and handed it to Severus.
“Thank you, Potter.” Severus didn’t look at him, instead he motioned for Poppy. “Tip his head back. All the potions that St. Mungo’s gave him have left his system. He’s not out of danger yet.”
They all stood there for hours as Severus and Poppy cared for him. Harry didn’t notice when dinner passed and so did the hour of nine. No one did. At eight Crouch had regained enough consciousness for him to talk.
“He escaped from my house, Albus. I didn’t know what to do. Then that man came. Nott, and I wasn’t allowed out. What have I done?”
“What do you mean?” Albus asked as he leaned close. Crouch had been given another does of the potion just a half hour before.
“I got my son out of Azkaban and he escaped from my home. I betrayed everything. They kept me under close watch. I had to write those notes to Wesley and I wasn’t allowed anything to myself. Finally, someone noticed and I was freed but I still…My son is out there in the world killing and I let him.” Crouch looked at Albus one last time before he closed his eyes and took a last breath.
Chapter Forty Six-What’s In It?
It was after Crouch died that they noticed that they had all missed the unveiling of the Third Task. McGonagall rushed him to the Quidditch Pitch to find that there was no one there. On their way back to the castle they ran across Bagman.
“We postponed it to tomorrow night. With all the action going on. We felt it would be better. I’ve just come from Dumbledore. Sad day, isn’t it?”
“Potter, I think it best if you go on to the Common Room. Remember to go to the Quidditch Pitch tomorrow at nine.”
McGonagall waved him off and Harry knew that she wanted to talk about something that she didn’t want him hearing. Harry walked off a ways, out of their sight and then he doubled back a little, putting on his cloak. He crept up slowly and quietly. Harry could hear them talking perfectly.
“So he started just babbling?” Bagman asked.
“Poppy thinks that he just started talking, due to the stress on his body and the breaking of his mind from the Imperious Curses he had been subjected to.”
“Could he have been the one to put Potter’s hand in the Goblet all those months ago?”
“We don’t know and we will never be able to ask him. He died with a lot of questions about him unanswered.”
“Did he really break is son out?”
“We are working on that assumption. When they arrived to dig up the body to examine it, it was burnt. Fiendfyre. So even if he hadn’t pulled his son out, someone wants us to think that. Fudge doesn’t think much of it. Just a guard who hated Crouch and wanted to desecrate his body and that Crouch SR is just going crazy. If the Aurors hadn’t seen Nott leaving I am sure that he would have found an excuse for how Crouch had the Imperious put on him so many times and the way he had been acting.”
“There are some strange things going on. I must be off. I was getting ready to head to the Hogshead when I saw you two going to the Pitch.”
The sound of foot prints made Harry step off the path so that no one would run into him. He waited until he was sure that McGonagall had passed before he stepped back out and made his own way to the castle under the cloak.
He arrived in the Common Room and found Ron and Hermione talking to Dobby.
“Master Harry, I has your dinner. Would you like it now?” Dobby waited for a nod from Harry before he popped away and appeared back in just a few seconds. He had a tray in his hands that was covered with a metal lid. Harry sat down and then set the tray down. Harry lifted off the lid and handed it to Dobby who left after taking it.
“What happened? We’ve all heard rumors that Crouch is dead.”
“He is. I found him on the grounds. He died within hours. There was nothing that could be done for him. His mind and magic were messed up.” Harry gave Hermione a look that told her that he would talk more later. Everyone in the Common Room was listening to the conversation. Harry quickly ate the food that had been kept for him. He was sure that the House Elves had kept several dinners for those that had been in the Infirmary with Crouch.
“Tomorrow night we find out about the Third Task. It was supposed to be tonight but given what happened, Bagman postponed it. Whatever it is, we are meeting at the Quidditch Pitch at nine tomorrow night.”
“Should be interesting. The Pitch has been block for some time. No one has been able to enter and it had a repelling charm on it,” Fred said coming up behind the small group. George was on the other side of the room talking to some of the First Years.
“You would know,” Harry said laughing.
“We have to know what is happening at the castle. Its in our best interests and yours,” Fred said with a wink before departing. Harry laughed and looked at his empty plate. He was stuffed and it was very late. There were not that many kids left in the Common Room.
“I think that I want to go to bed. You coming, Ron?” Harry stood up as he asked his question. Ron didn’t answer just stood up and gave Hermione a good night kiss. Hermione smiled when he did. Harry thought that she was so beautiful when she smiled. She was the sister he never had and was glad that she was in his life. His father had chosen his friends well for him.
He remembered how Severus had spent weeks looking at all the children that were going into Hogwarts with him. His father was sure that he was going to be sorted into Gryffindor and had wanted it for him. So that he could be in the same house as his father and mother. Ron had been the only one that he was sure was going to be in Gryffindor other than Neville. Hermione could have gone into either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw but Severus was adamant that Harry be friends with her no matter the outcome.
It had been a trial for Harry to act like the rest of the students. He wasn’t used to people. He had never been around many and there were more students in Hogwarts than Harry was used to. Still he made sure that he had fun but kept his grades up. When his final scores for the year had come in, Severus had been so proud. Harry could tell that by the look on his face from the table at the head of the Great Hall.
This years grades were no different. Harry was sure that his grades would be wonderful and he had chosen to sit his exams even though he didn’t have to. He wanted to show the world that he could handle it all. He got the occasional letter telling him that he should be off trying to find the next dark wizard to fight, not knowing that Voldemort was rising again. So many of the Wizarding World thought that he should have to fix their world instead of them doing it themselves.
Sleep was hard to catch that night. He was spent the first part of the night wondering about what the death of Crouch and what it meant. This was just a sign that it was getting worse in the world.
The next morning, Harry woke up feeling refreshed. It wasn’t the best sleep he had the whole the year but it was pretty good. He couldn’t wait for that night to come. He wanted the reveal over with. He wanted this year to be over with. He wanted to be home, safe and away from those he couldn’t trust.
Crouch could have been the easy fall person except that it was too easy. It fit too well. Especially since Crouch was dead no one could prove that he hadn’t done everything. He was the prefect fall guy for everything and the world would think that he was just crazy.
Harry had his own thoughts about who it could be. He had looked at all the people that he knew of in Hogsmeade but none fit. There was really only one person that it could be. Moody but he didn’t know if Crouch was acting as Moody or there was another Death Eater after him. Harry wanted to keep an eye on him as the rest of the year progressed.
Harry’s day went in a haze of looking over his shoulder in a way he had never done before. That night he was ready for getting the reveal over with. He wanted to get to bed. He was tired. He wanted sleep. He wondered how Moody survived looking over his shoulder all the time, it was exhausting.
Walking to the Quidditch Pitch later that night he heard the others talking about what they thought it was. They had all meet in the Great Hall and went down together. He was sure that Dumbledore and the other Headmasters were already down their waiting. When the Pitch itself came into view, Harry and Cedric stopped in their tracks. It was covered in what looked liked walls.
“Hedges!” Harry cried out. It was hedges running all over the whole field. They twisted and crossed all over and created a maze. Bagman was standing in the middle of a group of them. The Headmasters were standing beside him.
“What do you think? Growing nicely?” Bagman asked. He was so chipper that he missed the looks of hatred that Cedric, Harry, and Viktor shared before looking back at him. The description of what they had to do didn’t take long. It amused them all but it didn’t hold their interest for long. Now they had a goal and their minds were racing into what they had to do to live through the last task.
“You will enter in order of the points that you have. Cedric and Harry enter first, followed by Krum and then Miss Delacour. There is no time limit and its every man for himself. Lets head back into the castle. It’s a bit chilly outside.”
Bagman walked up with the students and left the Headmasters to walk and talk amongst themselves. Harry tuned the chatter out as he walked. It was a maze filled with creatures and who knows what else. There wasn’t much that could be done except learn all the hexes and spells that he could. He had to be at his best for going into the maze.
Bagman finally left them as they neared the castle. He moved closer to the adults. Harry and the others held back a little more so that no one could over hear them. It wasn’t long before they were safe.
“We must train more and harder. I know the kinds of things that Hagrid keeps and they are not the kinds of creatures you find in a pet shop. We will have to be on our toes.”
“It is a maze, its meant to confuse and trick us. Half of the battle will be on our minds. We have to not let it get to us and go crazy.” Fleur stopped when they reached the castle doors. She turned to the three guys behind her. “We are friends first are we not?”
“Twice a week meetings of our group to train?” Cedric asked.
“I think that sounds good. I will make a list of what Hagrid has been training and keeping over the years. Just as a reference.” Harry smiled at the group before he entered the castle. He went straight up to the Common Room. Ron and Hermione were waiting for him. He told them everything. Ron looked scared while Hermione was pensive. Harry just stared at her for a while and then went to bed.
His mind was in overdrive but soon exhaustion took over and he feel to sleep. He dreamed for the first time in a long time. He was flying through the air. He wasn’t on anything, not a broom not an animal, he was just flying. Finally, he arrived where he was heading. It was that old house from other dreams he had at the beginning of the summer and before the start of school. There was a snake and another man. Harry knew the man is was Nott. He was on the floor writhing in pain. Harry could not see what but the snake was watching the man on the floor but would look at a chair in the room. ‘
“He is dead, My Lord. He died from exposure and the weakening of his mind and body. No one knows. No one believes him! Please My Lord.”
“I will not be feeding you to Nagini this night. Do not fail me again. Crucio!”
Harry woke up gasping. The scar on his head was killing him. Harry dug around into his bag that he kept on his bed side. Inside was the dreamless sleep potion. His father had given him a small store so that if he needed it he could sleep before the Tasks. He hadn’t needed it so far but tonight he did. Harry drank a small amount and laid back down. Harry closed his eyes and dreamed of nothing.
Chapter Forty Seven-Calm Before the Storm
Waking the next morning, Harry didn’t even remember the dream. He woke up feeling great. He didn’t remember taking the potion or why he had to. It was a wonderful day of classes. He even read the Daily Prophet and didn’t get upset. He noticed in an article that Bertha Jorkins was still missing in Albania. He truly wondered how someone could be lost for so long and not be found, unless they were dead.
Harry was wandering the halls after his last class. There weren’t many other students in the hall. He knew that his classes ended early. Hermione was in Arithmancy and Ron was in Divination. It was Harry’s free time.
“Harry, might I have a word?” Dumbledore called from behind him. Harry turned to see that he was near the Headmaster’s office. Harry had no reason to say no and his mental defenses were at their best from the good nights sleep he had gotten.
“Sure, Headmaster.” Harry followed him into the office to find that Fudge and Moody were there as well. Harry immediately touched a small stone that he carried in his pocket and said a little spell, then he pulled his hand out. Moody was looking at him but Harry didn’t act any different.
“We were talking again about the night that Crouch was found. Some new information has come to our ears. It seems that Madame Maxime has been implicated in the death.”
“Because of what she is.”
“What is she? Other than a honored diplomat from another country.”
“She is a…half giant.” The last was whispered so low that Harry almost didn’t hear and he really wished he hadn’t.
“Really? That’s good for her. Don’t you think that if she wasn’t perfect for the job then she never would have been given the job of Headmistress of the school? I am shocked by you, Minister, thinking that you know more about a wonderful lady who you have known for less than a year while she has been at the school for over a decade. Just because you are prejudice doesn’t mean the whole world is. Just think those twelve students she brought with her, their parents had to agree and they allowed them to come. Doesn’t that tell you anything?”
“You had better watch that attitude, Son.”
“I said nothing disrespectful, Minister, to a man who has an open mind. You think that you have the right to suspect her just because she is different than you. Isn’t that what Lord Voldemort did? Muggles were worth the air they breathed in his mind so they had the right to die.”
Fudge didn’t answer, he just stared at Harry with rage in his eyes. Dumbledore cleared his throat and Harry looked at him.
“We are going down to the ground to look once again. Harry, if you will stay here. There is something I need to talk to you about.”
“Sure, Headmaster.” Harry sat down in a chair and pulled a book out of his bag. Fawkes flew over and perched on his shoulder. Harry waited long enough that Moody would be far enough away and then he put his book up. He stood up and looked around the room. A glow from a cabinet caught his eye and he walked over to it. He opened the door and smiled, it was a Pensieve. Harry noticed there was a memory floating on the top and he looked around before popping his head into it.
He appeared in one of the court rooms that had been used to convict Death Eaters at the close of the last war. Harry looked around and saw that Karkaroff was the one in the chair with everyone looking at him. Harry wasn’t listening to what he said instead he was looking at all the faces in the room. There was one face that Harry was sure he should have recognized but he couldn’t. After a few minutes the room shifted again and this time Bagman was int eh chair. Harry remembered his father telling him about that. Again he paid no attention to what was being said. Instead he was looking at the faces. Again that face was there. Harry moved closer to the man but before he got there the court changed again.
This time that face was not in the crowd but instead chained to a chair in the middle of the court. Harry looked around the court and found Augusta Longbottom in the crowd. She was crying. Harry looked again at the four in front of him. It was the Lestranges and Barty Crouch. This was just after Frank and Alice Longbottom had been subjected to the Cruciatus Curse and lost their minds. Harry’s stomach revolted and he left the memories. He appeared back in Dumbledore’s office with Fawkes still sitting on the chair that Harry had been sitting in. Harry shut the door back to where it was and sat down to read his book again.
Hearing the door open, Harry sighed in relief. He had finished just in time. Dumbledore entered alone and he looked at Harry before setting a few wards on the room.
“Just in case. Now, Harry what I wanted to talk to you about is your scar. Has it been hurting you any over the school year?”
“No, Professor and even if it had been, I would not tell you.”
“Harry, I have your best interests at heart, you have to see that.”
“No, I don’t have to see that. I don’t have to see what I don’t believe. I have been hidden for many years and the only time anything untoward has happened to me, it has been here in this school. You can cry that you only want to help me as much as you want but I don’t have to believe it.”
“Your father has done you a disservice. You are distrustful when you shouldn’t be.”
“No, actually my father didn’t do that. Living with the Dursley’s did that to me. Now Professor, classes are over and I need to meet with the other Champions so that we can train for the maze in a month. I am sure that you don’t want me to miss training do you?”
“Are you going to the Room of Requirement?”
“Be wary of Young Master Malfoy.”
“I will take that under advisement but I will not tell Viktor that he cannot bring one of his few friends to the meetings and trainings.”
“Why yes. Do you think that we are just casting spells at each other. We all discuss what we think might happen at the task and plan. We will all enter with mostly the same spells at our disposal. There is actually something that I want to talk to you about. The outer hedges, how are they protected?”
“What do you mean?”
“Can spells go through the outer edges?”
“So that if one of you gets into trouble, we can help you quickly.”
“What about if someone wanted to influence the outcome? How are you going to stop them? I am sure that the staff will be walking the outer edge. What if they wanted Hogwarts to win?”
“What about Ministry officials?”
“I will discuss your misgivings with the other Headmasters and we will talk to Bagman.”
Harry arrived in the Room of Requirement last. The others were already in the room and talking about some things.
“What took you so long? We thought you would have been the first to arrive.” Cedric smiled at him so Harry would know that he wasn’t mad.
“I was talking with Dumbledore. I learned something that I think we should all four stand up for. The staff and other ministry officials are going to be walking the perimeter of the maze and the outer hedges won’t be resistant to magic. Any one of them could do anything to us and we would never know cause we can’t see them.”
“Someone like that Moody?” Viktor asked.
“Don’t like him?” Fred asked with a shudder.
“No, I don’t trust him.”
“Neither do I. We are the ones going into he maze and fighting for our lives. We should have as much protection as we think that we need. I am sure that if we stand united that it will be done. Having a few access points or making the maze let the adults move through it will make me feel safer.”
“You are so grown up,” Fleur said with a smile as she kissed him on the cheek. Harry blushed and smiled back at her. “I will talk to Madame Maxime.”
“I have a list of spells that you should know to fend off the creatures that we have seen Hagrid with. I have another list of spells that I just think that you all should know.”
“Been busy, Hermione?” Draco asked. Hermione looked at him and gave him a hard stare. Draco sat up straight.
“She’s always like this, Mate. Lists and charts for everything. You should see some of the ones she has done for what we need to learn for the exams.”
“And I know that you have been slacking off in Potions, Ronald.”
Everyone in the room laughed as Ron ducked his head down. Harry finally sat down beside Viktor and Cedric at the side of the table that the Champions sat at.
“You make him happy, Harry. You ever don’t and I will find you and kill you.” Viktor spoke barely above a whisper but Harry heard him none the less. Harry nodded his understanding and Viktor smiled before looking back at Hermione who was talking about the spells.
There was one spell that Harry wasn’t ever going to teach anybody that he knew. It was a horrible spell that he had been taught as a last resort.
June flew by quickly. Meetings were held with the group over three times a week but given that the rest of them still had to do exams, many were not there every time. Harry studied for his exams because he still wanted to take them but he was going to take them early. Everyone else would be taking them up to the Third Task.
There were many nights that it was just the Champions practicing their spells and hexes. The Room never failed to provide for them. There were practice dummies that they could use their spells on. They reappeared after just a few seconds, back to how they had been before they got hit with the spells. The night before the Third Task, Harry stayed late in the room to practice his spell. When the practice dummy didn’t look like itself anymore, Harry finally left. When he got to his bedroom that night he didn’t have any trouble sleeping. He was so tired that he slept with no dreams.
The next morning, he was stopped by McGonagall who told him that the room off the hall was where he needed to be to meet his family. Harry was surprised, there was no way that his father was in that room. It was too dangerous. The sight that greeted him raised his spirits. Mrs. Weasley and Bill were standing in front of the fireplace. Harry raced over to hug them.
“He thought we would be safer,” Bill whispered in his ear as he hugged him. Harry took them for a tour of the castle and talked with them around the castle until lunch, where they sat at the Gryffindor table and were joined by the rest of the Weasley family. It was the best day that Harry had in a while.
Again after lunch, they walked around the castle and talked up until the feast before the Third Task. Harry ate enough to mostly fill his stomach, he didn’t want to be stuffed going into the maze.
Finally, everyone made their way down to the Quidditch Pitch to watch the task. Everyone was given the rules and Cedric and Harry entered the Maze. When they reached a fork they separated and heard the whistle meaning that Krum had entered. Now it was on. This was it. Whatever move was going to be made by the traitor would happen that night. Harry was ready.
Chapter Forty Eight-Whisked Away
Harry heard the whistle for the third time, everyone was in the maze now. It was anyone’s game. Harry used the Point Me spell to get his bearings. He needed to go northwest to get to the cup. Harry set off north for a while. As he went through he came across a few creatures that he just avoided by backtracking. It would lose him some time but so would fighting the creatures. There first one that he came across that he didn’t want to try to bypass was what he thought was a Dementor, in the end it was a Boggart and it was gotten rid of easy.
Next was a golden mist. He entered it cautious and when his world was flipped, he quickly grabbed his glasses and held them in his hand and took a shaky step forward. The moment his foot touched the grass, his world was put back to right and he put his glasses back on. For ever ten minutes he ran into nothing at all except dead ends. He had to do the direction spell again found he was on the right track.
Hagrid’s Blast End Skrewt was huge! Harry had to wait until it was close enough that he could hit the underside of the beast before he quickly ran past it. The Impedimenta spell would not last long. Harry kept running until he ran into something that he had only ever seen and heard of in textbooks: a sphinx. It took Harry only several minutes to solve her riddle and then he was past her.
When he hit the end of that part of the maze he had two choices so he used the spell again and went to the right. He was running and ran into Cedric who was running from a spider. Together they turned and started firing spells at it. Their combined strength toppled the spider quickly. They turned and could see the cup. It was there just twenty feet in front of them. On the other side of the cup coming out of the other entrance to the clearing with the cup was Viktor and Fleur.
All four of them started laughing as they stepped to surround the cup. Each was starting at the other. “We take it together. We each went our own way inside and reached the Goblet at the same time. We have earned this and we should split the rewards.” Harry look at his friends and saw that they each wore a smile. Harry reached out his hand and they did the same. As they all touched it at the same time, they felt it. It was a tug somewhere behind their navels.
They landed in a heap. None of them had been ready for the Portkey. Upon righting themselves they all pulled out their wands. They were in a graveyard many miles away from the castle. That’s when they heard the sound of someone walking. As one they looked and saw someone walking carrying something in his or her arms. The person turned to stare and Harry’s scar exploded in pain. That was all that it took. Viktor and Fleur stepped in front of Harry and held their wands at the ready.
“Voldemort!” Harry gasped through gritted teeth.
“Kill the spares!” a voice whispered from somewhere. That was all that it took. Viktor and Fleur dove one way while Cedric took Harry another. they all ended up behind gravestones.
“You cannot hide forever. Come out Potter and meet your death.”
Harry cleared his mind and shoved the pain away. He had been taught how to do that.
“You’re mind is open to me. I can read your every thought.”
“You wish you could, Voldemort. I know that you cannot.”
Sudden sound from all around them had the four teens on their guard. But there were too quick. Harry felt someone grab him from behind and then he was being drug around the headstone. Harry looked back and saw that it was Death Eaters. There were four of them in total plus the one who had been there at the start. Before Harry could even attempt to fight he was tied to a headstone. Magical ropes bound him to it, tightly. Harry looked at the names face it was Nott. Harry had an idea who the others were. Lucius Malfoy, MacNair, Crabbe, and Goyle. The rest were either dead, in Azkaban, or like Karkaroff, too scared to face him. Harry didn’t think about the one who wasn’t there.
“HARRY!” Cedric screamed.
Harry looked over and saw that the other three were being held by the Death Eaters. Harry wasn’t sure what his next move should be. Nott was pushing a giant cauldron closer to where Harry was and there was Nagini, Voldemort’s snake, twinning around Harry’s feet. Nott prepared the cauldron to his liking and then cleared the robes away from his bundle that had been laying on the ground. Harry kept a scream of horror from escaping. He would have nightmares about what Voldemort currently looked like. Nott slipped Voldemort into the cauldron and Harry knew that wishing about him drowning wasn’t worth the effort.
“Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son!”
A crackling noise at Harry’s feet alerted Harry to whose grave he was over. A fine dust came forth from the grave and went into the cauldron.
“Flesh of the servant, willingly given, you will revive your master.” Nott raised a shining dagger to his own arm and cut his own hand off and dropped it into the cauldron. Harry stared into Nott’s eyes as he came towards Harry with a new dagger. He sliced Harry’s arm with it and used a vial to catch the blood. “Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe.”
The blood was dripped into the cauldron and the liquid inside turned white. Harry watched and waited. It wasn’t long before a mist filled view and a man stood up inside of it. Lord Voldemort had risen again. Another Death Eater walked towards them and robed Voldemort before he stepped out of the cauldron.
Nott stood his ground, wrapping his arm slightly so as to stop the bleeding. He waited patiently. After Voldemort checked out his new body, he turned to Nott and held out a hand. Nott gave Voldemort his bloodied arm and sighed in relief when Voldemort drew his wand out of a pocket and muttered a spell. Replacing the hand that had been sacrificed to him with a silver, mobile, hand.
“Harry Potter,” Voldemort said lazily. He turned to face Harry for the first time since regaining his body. He walked closer and touched Harry’s cheek. It did not burn him. Using Harry’s blood had given Voldemort a pass on his mother’s protection. Harry didn’t like that one bit. Harry started thinking about escape plans while Voldemort described the last thirteen years of his life to them. Harry didn’t care about it. He needed to get out of there and with Cedric, Viktor, and Fleur. There wasn’t one as things went at that moment. Something Voldemort said though did catch Harry’s eye near the end. He had a faithful servant at Hogwarts. That couldn’t be right. No one was there that shouldn’t be. Unless they knew of the map and had some how bypassed it. Wormtail. Wormtail had to have told them how to get passed the map. Then who was the traitor at the school.
Harry felt pain beyond what he had ever felt in his life. Harry endured it without calling out then it was gone. Voldemort gave some kind of small speech then “Release him and give him his wand. I want his friends to watch him die before they die themselves.”
Nott did as was asked of him and for a small second, Harry thought about running but he wouldn’t leave his friends.
“Let us duel, Harry.”
Nott handed Harry his wand and Harry nodded at Voldemort. He didn’t know what he could do but he would do his best to save his friends. He was sure that he would not leave the graveyard alive. He moved away from the gravestone slightly. He could see the cup and it was so close to where his friends were. It wouldn’t take much for them to grab it and go.
Harry and Voldemort bowed to each other. Voldemort acting like it was a normal duel and not one to the death. When they righted Harry threw a body bind hex at Voldemort who in turn cast the Cruciatus curse at him. Both miss their targets. Back and forth it went. Voldemort toying with Harry before he died and Harry lulling him and the Death Eaters into a false sense of security. He could tell that the Death Eaters were dropping their guard.
Harry closed his eyes for one second for he cast what he knew was surely to be his last spell. It was a one that his father taught him. It was for enemies. He wasn’t going to say the words, just use what little wandless and wordless magic he knew. The robe and flesh on Voldemort’s chest flayed open. Voldemort winced in pain and looked down. Harry reacted before he could.
Voldemort cried out, “Avada Kedavra!” Green light jetted out of Voldemort’s wand and Harry didn’t move. His red light was flying to Voldemort and they met in mid air, stopping. His wand started to shake and it seized his arm. He couldn’t let go. Then a beam of bright gold light connected both of the wands. Both of them started raising in the air. Harry was astonished. They floated over away from the graves and over to a patch of open grass, closer to the cup. The Death Eaters dropped their charges and ran to their master. Harry’s friends did as well but they stayed on the closer end to the cup and opposite the Death Eaters.
Then more light came from their wands. They were encased in a giant web of golden light.
“Do nothing. Do nothing unless I command you.”
A song filled the air. It didn’t take Harry long to recognize it. Phoenix song. It told him to not break the connection. Harry knew that and he wasn’t going to. Not until he could be sure that his friends were going to get away. His wand started shuddering more and more and Harry saw that beads of light were moving towards him. Harry started concentrating on sending them back to Voldemort and after several minutes of concentration, they were inches from the tip of Voldemort’s wand. Just a little more and they connected. Voldemort’s wand started to scream in pain it seemed. A ghostly hand flew out of the tip of Voldemort’s wand. Nott’s hand. Next came a dense cloud of smoke that made up an old man. A witch was next, Harry didn’t know who she was. Then another witch and Harry knew who she was, his mother. Then his father. Harry nearly dropped his wand at them appearing. They told him what to do, wait for the signal and then release the wands. they would last for a little after that and stop Voldemort from going after him.
“Your father is raising you fine,” James said. He smiled. Lily gripped James’s hand a look at Harry with all her love.
“He would have been a fine man without Voldemort,” Lily said.
“You have any more trouble and you bring this out and show it. We give our approval for the way that he is raising you. We couldn’t have done better ourselves. We both grew up. I just had to die to do it.”
Harry looked over at his friends and then the cup. They nodded. They would wait for him and then summon the cup. James nodded and Harry yelled. His friends ran closer to him as he broke the connection of the wands. He took off running, knocking over a Death Eater and zigzagging all over the graveyard to make it to his friends in time.
“Stand aside. I will kill him.”
Harry dove at his friends. Cedric was turned with his face away from Harry and the second that Harry fell into them, Cedric summoned the cup and they all four grabbed it out of the air at the same time.
Chapter Forty Nine-Traitor
They all landed in a lump again. This time though they knew that they were safe. The horrors of the graveyard were behind them. They were at Hogwarts. When they stood up they didn’t let go of each other. Cedric was on one side of Harry with Fleur on the other. Viktor was on the other side of her. They were shielding Harry.
“They are safe!” Dumbledore yelled and they finally heard the noise. They looked around. Dumbledore and many others were around them. Their faces blurred until Harry found the one that he wanted. Severus Snape stood there on the side. He rubbed at his arm and Harry knew why. The mark had to be full and dark on his arm. He knew.
“He’s back. Voldemort is back.”
“What’s going on? What happened?” Fudge demanded. Harry though looked around. There was a traitor here. Before he could say anything though, Viktor spoke up.
“There is a traitor here. We were taken to a graveyard where we saw one of the darkest rituals I have ever heard of being preformed and the dark wizard that you call Voldemort was given a body again.”
Screams filled the air.
“The boy is in shock,” Fudge yelled. Harry felt Dumbledore tug at him but he resisted. He wasn’t letting go of Cedric and Fleur. “Get these people out of here.”
Teachers cleared the area and Harry looked at them. There was only one who it could be. The one who had been so focused on Harry all year. The one he suspected all along. Harry looked at Viktor and Viktor nodded. Harry dropped Fleur’s arm and raised his wand. “Stupefy!”
Moody dropped on the ground where he was, not expecting the spell at all.
“See here, Potter. Just because you just had something happen to you in the maze doesn’t mean that you can just go around stunning your professors.” Fudge raised his own wand as he spoke.
“I think that you will find that this person is not Alastor Moody. I think that you will find that he is Barty Crouch Junior. Who is believed to be dead.”
The teachers reacted but none faster than Severus. He rolled Moody over and pulled the flask from his hip and opened it up. He took a whiff and recoiled. “Polyjuice.”
“Dumbledore?” Fudge asked.
“I think that we should take this inside.”
“Voldemort is back and his Death Eaters joined him. MacNair, Crabbe, Goyle, Malfoy, and Nott.” Cedric stared at Fudge, daring him to say anything about what he just said.
“He’s back? Dumbledore that just cannot be. I will not stay here a second longer. I am leaving.” Fudge turned around and stalked off.
Severus used his wand to conjure ropes to bind Moody/Crouch. Dumbledore motioned for them to go in front of him.
“We shall go to the Defense rooms and see if we can’t figure this out.” It was an odd troop that was moving through the halls of Hogwarts. There wasn’t another person to see them though.
What felt like hours later, Harry was able to lie down to sleep. Veritaserum was used on Crouch to get the truth out of him. Finally after he had given all of his information, Dumbledore handed him over to Fudge, who was getting ready to leave. Confronted with the fact that one of the Death Eaters had escaped from Azkaban with the aide of his family, Fudge had a Dementor give him the kiss. Dumbledore had been outraged. There was the proof that Voldemort was out there and it was gone because Fudge was too scared to face the truth.
The real Moody was freed from his prison and being treated in the Hospital Wing. A place that Harry had only just escaped. Other than the cut on his arm, there wasn’t anything wrong with him other than a giant headache. He was on the edge of sleep when two ideas came to him. The first was that he had known that ritual, at least had heard of it. The second thought was so foul that he ran to the bathroom and started to throw up. The others in his dorm were so out of it that they never heard. Just like they didn’t hear him grab his bag and run out of the room and the entire tower. There was only one person who watched him flee. Seconds after Harry left, Dobby disapparated himself.
Harry didn’t put on his cloak or even try to hide himself. He ran to the dungeon and from there he went to his father’s room, through the front door. The door knew his magical signature and opened when he touched it. There his father sat in front of the fire with a glass of whiskey in his hand. Harry had only ever really seen his father drink in memories. He had told Harry once that with Harry in his life he had no reason to drink. It pulled Harry up short but he was still mad.
“It was a theory but given your dreams lately and the hurting of your scar. I couldn’t be sure though. There was no way that I would even want to tell you and then it not be the truth. The harm that could have done. If you hadn’t put it together, I would have told you when you got home for the summer. It was part of the reason that I gave you that book. I prayed and hoped these months that it wasn’t true. That that monsters soul was not in your body. You are a living Horcrux for Voldemort. Although one that I don’t think he knows he created. Otherwise he never would have tried to kill you.”
“I won’t survive the war will I? I have to die to save the world from him.” Harry ran to his father and slammed into his body. He let all his emotions out. Severus couldn’t stand it anymore. He had to confront the older wizard but he didn’t want to leave Harry alone. Seconds later, Dobby appeared in the room with a dressed Draco. Dobby nodded at Severus and then left again. Severus carried Harry into his bedroom and laid him down. Draco laid down with him.
“Draco, please stay with him. Don’t let him out of your sight and don’t let him leave this room. The Bloody Baron will not let anyone into the rooms but you must keep him here.”
Draco nodded as he pulled Harry closer to protect him from the world for a little while. Severus stopped and grabbed a vial that Harry had given him while he had been in the infirmary.
“You had no right to keep this from Harry!” Severus said as he stormed into Dumbledore’s office. He was sitting at his desk writing a letter with Minerva standing beside him. They both looked up at him in bewilderment. Dumbledore stood up.
“Harry?” Minerva asked. Severus knew why. He had only ever called him Potter to their ears. Minerva played it well.
“You have tried to keep all of his life secret from him.”
“What is your angle in all this Severus?” Dumbledore queried.
Severus looked at him and laugh. It wasn’t a happy laugh. Instead it was bordering on crazy and made Minerva gasp in shock at the sound of it.
“You really have no clue do you? The great Albus Dumbledore didn’t know that Harry had been at Hogwarts every single year since his family died. That I have not been living at Spinner’s End since Harry supposedly died. I am the one that took Harry in and each year I would bring Harry with me sometimes. He stayed in my rooms or in the Come and Go Room.”
“Severus, you took him in?” Minerva asked quietly. She rounded the desk and sat down. Severus took a seat close to her and waited for Dumbledore to say anything.
“Why did you even care?” Dumbledore asked. “You hated them. Lily for leaving you and James for just being. You softened on Lily after she died but never on James. He was the reason she was dead.”
“Because I found that hate did nothing for me anymore when Lily died. You used that hate to try and control me but I had already got rid of it. The only thing was that I still needed you. I made my plans to secretly help Harry as he grew up in your hands. I just never knew that I would have to take him in. He was living in a cupboard, Albus. Minerva told me about how she told you that they were the worst sort of Muggles but you didn’t care. I saw how Petunia treated Lily as a child. Whatever love she had for him was buried deep in her soul. Her husband was foul to Harry. You wouldn’t hear any of it though. That is why I kept my own council. I watched Harry from afar after I found him. It wasn’t hard to find him. I knew how to find Petunia so I just had to track her down. Harry was seven one of the first times I ever really got a good look at him. He was so skinny and small. Much smaller than he should have been. He was cooking in the kitchen. Petunia was standing over him making sure that he cooked the food right. When went to school that week, I watched him when I could. He was being chased by that whale of a cousin and his little goonies. He didn’t cast magic that day. I did. I put him on the roof of the school to save him.”
“You defied my orders?” Dumbledore asked, clearly mad.
“Yes. I did. If I hadn’t he would be dead, so nothing you can do will change that.”
“I could have the courts take Harry from you.”
“Have fun with that. First you will have to let it be known that I have Harry. At the moment only a few teachers here and a few others know. I am still able to function as your spy to Voldemort even now. I will follow you as far as Harry is protected. I serve you because you saved me but I will stop if Harry’s life is put at risk. He is my child now. Lily agrees.”
“What?” Dumbledore asked. Severus smiled and held out a vial.
“Contained in this is a copy of a memory of Harry’s from tonight. While he fought with Voldemort their wands connected as you know, but what you don’t know is that while did Lily and James’s ghosts came out and spoke to Harry. Both told him that they were proud of him and Lily said that he was doing well with me. James commented that I was a wonderful father to his son. I am keeping this copy safe just in case someone tries to fight me for custody later on.”
“Surely, Severus you see that you cannot protect him like I can.”
“I see no such thing. Albus, you couldn’t protect him when he was a young child. I have kept him safe these last years through cunning that you don’t have and friends that you don’t trust. Harry will live with no one but myself. If you try to take him from me I am sure that he will disappear and never return until this world is in flames. He might protect the rest of the world then but he will make sure that this world knows who caused everything. Do you really and truly want that, Dumbledore? The skeleton’s in your closets will come out do you want them to come out this early?”
“Severus, you don’t understand.”
“My son is in my rooms, lying on my bed and crying. He put the pieces together tonight and figured out that he is a bloody living Horcrux for that monster.”
Minerva gasped aloud and turned to look at Dumbledore.
“I have suspected that since the night he survived. Then when he arrived and all that he can do. Parselmouth, the nightmares. I knew it.”
“You mean that he is going to die? No matter what?” Minerva asked.
“No, I think that I have found a way to make sure that he survives.”
“He has to give his life to save others. He will have to face the Dark Lord and not fight when he kills him. His love for his friends and the giving of his life for that reason will save him” Dumbledore hopes.
Severus turned around and stormed out of the rooms. He was going to help keep his son calm. He made sure that he had a dose of Dreamless Sleep Draught on him before he entered his rooms. Harry needed sleep. He would be slightly better after it.
Chapter Fifty-We Are at War!
“But the map!” Hermione stated as she sat up farther on the couch in the Room of Requirement. The whole group was there, including Severus. Discussing what had happened the night before. He had recounted his story once before for Dumbledore while they were all in the Infirmary. Now he was telling it all.
“He knew. Somehow Crouch knew about it. I think that Pettigrew told him a way around it.” Harry looked over at Severus before looking down at his hands.
“I lied to Headmaster Dumbledore last night. There is one part that I left out.”
“What was it?”
“I used Sectumsempra on him. He didn’t like it, that was when he decided we had dueled long enough and he was going to kill me.”
“That’s what that is called?” Viktor asked.
“The way his skin and robes just flayed open. It was horrible.” Fleur turned pale as she spoke the words. Harry nodded.
“I’ve never used it on a living person. I never want to again.”
“It is a horrible spell but it is better than the Killing Curse. I am not sorry that I taught it to you, because it probably saved your life, Harry and the lives of your friends.”
“I know but still.”
The room lapsed into silence. It was whole new world for them. The Dark Lord was back and in a body.
“We will make sure that our countries know about this. We will not let it die down,” Fleur stated with force. She stood up from her chair and hugged Harry. “You two will not be alone in this. We are with you.”
“Once he finished with Great Britain and its allies, he will try and take on the world. He will find that we will not roll over and die.”
Harry smiled at his friends. This was whom he would have to rely on to survive over the next few years. There were a few that were not there, the adults but he knew that he could trust them.
The next few days rushed by for them all. With the death of Barty Crouch at the hands of a Dementor, there was no proof other than the word of the Champions. Fudge was not taking that as any proof. Luckily, there had been no deaths of any of the Champions. Harry shuddered when he thought of what might have happened then. Fleur and Viktor had already left the country but vowed to keep in touch and make sure that their Government believed them. Their prize winnings were split and each got two hundred and fifty galleons. Harry knew what he was going to do with his. The world would need laughter for the next few years and what better way to bring it than to give it to Fred and George for their joke shop.
Fudge had tried to pass off Harry as a ravening nut based on the things that Rita Skeeter had published, even though she was in jail. Cedric Diggory’s parents were having none of Fudge trying to destroy their son’s good name. It was turning into a battle that Fudge was not going to be prepared for.
Harry and his friends spent time discussing what he could do to prove to the world that Voldemort was back. In the end, they decided to hang back. It would be enough in the end that there was someone out there who was looking to stop Voldemort. Dumbledore was at least going to be keeping at watch out for everything that could be him.
It was a somber ride home for Harry and his friends. He hadn’t been able to meet or see Draco much after the Third Task. It was safer that way for now. Harry knew that he would see him over the summer. Severus was going to be doing a lot for Dumbledore. He was going back to Voldemort as a spy. Harry worried about his but not that he would die; just that he knew it was going to take a lot out of him. Harry knew that this day would come, and he was mentally prepared for it, but his heart wasn’t.
Arriving at King’s Cross, Harry looked out at the crowds. He could see the Weasleys and Malfoys but no one else familiar. He stayed in his cabin, making the others leave before him. Only Neville had stayed but that was because his grandmother hated the crowds and was always late. They played a game of Exploding Snap while they waited. Finally, it was mostly empty and they left the train. Harry had already shrunk his trunk and it was in his pocket. Neville’s was waiting for him with his grandmother when they stepped off. Harry started to really look for someone to pick him up when he noticed the Aurors standing at the exit. Past them was Fudge.
“Ah, Harry just who I wanted to see. I wanted to talk to you about the unfortunate incident at the Third Task. I wanted to let you know that if you spoke out against Dumbledore, I would support you one hundred percent. You don’t need to be bullied by him.”
“Bullied by him? Minister, I think you forget that I am the one who stated that Voldemort was back. Dumbledore fed me nothing. I watched him being reborn of my own blood. You can hide all you want but the truth will come out. You fear losing your job more than you fear what is actually going on. If you really wanted to protect and serve the Wizarding World, you would listen to those around you and not your fear. We are at war, Minister Fudge and whether you recognize it or not, it is happening. You can join us or you are against us. You could be remembered as a great man. I fear you will be remembered as a coward.”
“Watch your tone, Potter. I will have your respect.”
“Respect has to be earned. With all that you have tried to do to me over the past four years, you haven’t earned it.” Harry saw Winky out of the corner of his eye. She was standing at the edge of the exit into the Muggle World. She looked well. She was slowly walking towards him. When she did reach him and touch his hand he spoke again, “I wish you to have a good day, Minster. I fear it will be one of the last you have.”
With that, Winky took Harry away from there. They appeared in the middle of a Muggle area. It was near where his mother had been raised. They must be heading for Spinner’s End. When Winky Apparated them again and did it no less than seven more times, Harry knew that his father was being serious with his protection. He was going to be with someone every second of the summer. There would be no more being home alone with the elves. He would be with his father, at Malfoy Manor, or at the Burrow. It wasn’t a bad thing, just something he would have to get used to.
“Master Harry, I wanted to tell you. I have accepted the position in the Potter household. Zook and I seek your permission to bond and have children,” Winky said when they finally stopped at the edge of the house protections. Zook and Severus were waiting on them. Harry smiled at Zook.
“Of course, you can bond at your will. I am happy for your both and hope you have many children to enjoy in your years.” Harry leaned down to hug them both before they went back inside to continue with their duties.
“You know they will breed worse than the Weasley’s right?”
“I know. There is something I want to do. My vacation home in America, I want to sell it. I know there has been a staff of four elves at the house but I want to put three of them at my other three houses and that little elf, the newest born one, Zula. I want to give her to the Weasley’s. With everything that is coming, they will need her.”
“I will have the papers drawn up. As for Zula you will have to take up with her and Molly. Did you want to talk?” Severus started walking the grounds. Harry easily caught up with him and looked around. It had changed in the nine month he had been gone. Still it was home.
“Not about you going to spy for Dumbledore. You have told me every year that it would be possible for you to have to do it. What are we going to do about the war?”
“This is going to be a four sided war for a while, Harry. Voldemort will be hiding from the world on one side. Fudge will be hiding from the truth on another. Dumbledore will be trying to bring you onto his side, his ways, and his protection on the third side. Then there will be you and yours fighting the true fight against it all.”
“That is going to be a very tiring war for me. I know that Fudge and Dumbledore are going to be going after me to bring me to their side and Voldemort is going to want to kill me. I am going to have be more on guard aren’t I?”
“Yes, you will. We have learned that the map is not going to be infallible. You might have to be more active with your Legilimency. I don’t know who the new teacher is going to be but all you will have to worry about is the students. I will take care of the teachers. I will make sure that Dumbledore is extra careful as well. He is going to have to prove that you are safe in his walls and then I will start to trust him. He knows that I have you. He won’t tell anybody. We are still a small group. I just have the feeling though that this next year is going to be the test year.”
“I feel it to. Everything is coming together.”
“Have you heard any word on how Viktor and Fleur are doing?”
“No, not yet.”
“Do you know how their claims are going over?”
“Karkaroff running has made those in Bulgaria and Durmstrang believe that Viktor is telling the truth. Preparations are being made. Madame Maxime is doing well in supporting Fleur and her claims. France will be ready. Sirius and Remus are helping. The French Minster of Magic is bending over backwards to do what they want. They are preparing France for war. Once they give all their knowledge about Voldemort to France, they will be coming home. Albus wants to use Grimmauld Place as a hiding place for the Order of the Phoenix.”
“He is starting it up all the way now?”
“Yes, and this summer I will be helping a lot.”
“I figured that I would be spending probably about a month in Malfoy Manor and then the rest at the Burrow.”
“Malfoy Manor is no longer safe for you. Lucius has his part to play and he wants his son far away from it. Draco will be staying here with you for the next month. Narcissa will be as well. Once that month is up, you will be going to Grimmauld Place. The Burrow will not be safe either. I have a smaller item you can use to store your items in. I have already placed the undetectable expansion charm on it. It’s a wallet. There is an area that has the charm but the rest can carry real things that go in a wallet. Including Muggle ID for you. On the off chance something goes wrong. The area with the charm on it can only be opened by you.”
“I’ll transfer the items later. Can I just enjoy one day at home with nothing to worry about. I was going to take Zook and look in the woods for potion ingredients like I used to.”
“You can. The whole month you will have to just be a kid, Harry. I won’t make demands of you, except your homework. Three hours an evening. I want it done before you go to Grimmauld Place.”
“Yes, Sir!” Harry saluted his father before starting to laugh so hard that he had to double over. Severus pulled him up into a hug. They clung to each other for several minutes before Severus released him.
“I love you, Harry. Not matter what happens over the next year, never doubt that.”
“I love you too, and I will never doubt you, ever, Father.”
To Be Continued in Book Five