Chapter 08 - Minister Stupid
The lights came on slowly and the curtain rose. Bob waited anxiously in the wings to see if Alyx had followed his directions for this very special disclaimer.
He blinked his eyes in disbelief, then he blinked them again, and again. Nope he wasn't seeing things.
Angrily striding out onto the stage he walked over to Alyx who stood there looking confused.
“What are you doing?” asked Bob.
“Erm... wondering why you wanted jello for the disclaimer?” she replied.
Bob glared at her. “I said Cello,” he snarled. “I lined up Leonard Nimoy to tell everyone that we don't own Harry Potter and I wanted him accompanied by a Cello quartet. What did you come up with? FOUR QUARTS OF JELLO!!!”
Bob and Alyx turned. Near the jello stood Leonard Nimoy. “I wasn't aware you were serving dessert with this disclaimer, do you have a spoon?”
“ARGH!” shouted Bob.
“Do you like Lime Jello Leonard?” asked Alyx.
“It's my favorite!”
Bob ran off the stage pulling at his hair and Alyx blinked, then smiled brightly. “Good, more for us then.”
“Fascinating,” replied Nimoy.
Decisions and Chances lost (October 9th)...
Harry stumbled into the Great Hall the next morning, exhausted from the night before.
His friends looked up as he entered. Noting their concerned expressions, he ran a hand over his face tiredly and sat down next to Ginny.
“Here, Harry, this will help. You look exhausted,” she said as she placed a cup of tea in front of him.
He gratefully accepted the cup and sipped from it. After a moment he smiled his thanks.
“Yeah, mate. You didn't show up for our morning run.” asked Neville.
Ron sat nearby with Luna, watching carefully, but otherwise keeping to himself. Harry didn't fully trust him yet, and probably wouldn't for a long time to come, but he was at least speaking with him again.
“I think I'm too tired to be exhausted,” Harry mumbled to the amusement of the others.
“Didn't you sleep well?” asked Hermione.
He shook his head. The stress of yesterday evening kept him up for most of the night. “It was a bad night,” he replied.
Hermione frowned and leaned in. “Where were you last night, Harry?” she asked pointedly. “You weren't in the House when we closed up for curfew.”
Harry peered at her for a moment. “How's your occlumency coming?”
She blinked in surprise, not expecting the question.“It's coming along all right, but my shields are no where near strong enough, according to Professor McGonagall. She says I need more time. Ginny is the most advanced of us.”
Harry lifted an eye brow at her in shock. “You went to McGonagall to learn Occlumency?”
“Well, yes. It's not like we could go to Professor Snape, you know. And you say you can't teach us the craft,” she replied.
Harry closed his eyes and sighed for a moment, then he shook his head. “How much does Professor McGonagall know?”
“Only that we need to learn it to help you,” she said softly. “Ginny's shield is the most developed.”
When Harry looked at Ginny, she smiled. “What can I say?” she asked with a shrug. “Wanting to help you is enough motivation for me to work on it, despite this being my OWL year.”
He looked shocked for a second, then he leaned in and hugged her. “Thank you,” he whispered. The effort she was putting into this, especially in her OWL year, touched him deeply.
Ginny blushed as she began putting food on his plate. “Eat. It will help wake you for class.”
His unexpected and spontaneous show of affection pleased her, but she was annoyed to feel herself blushing. Without thinking, she slipped into her mother's habit of feeding people when stress levels were high.
He scooped up some food with a fork, but shook his head. “It will wake me,” he said, smiling at her, “but I'm probably not going to class today. I have to attend a meeting in the Headmaster's office after breakfast,” he finished with a grimace.
“What class do you have this morning?” asked Hermione. “I can take notes for you.”
“I doubt it. It's Transfiguration, and Professor McGonagall is supposed to be at the meeting, as well.”
Hermione frowned. If there was one thing she hated it was a disruption in her classes. It didn't help that Harry was grinning at her about it.
He turned away from Hermione and began to eat once more. When he finished, he pushed his plate away and sighed contentedly.
Smiling, he nodded his thanks to Ginny. “Unless something happens at this meeting, I'll see you at lunch,” he told her quietly as he picked up his book bag and stood up. Reaching down, he touched her shoulder gently, still a bit unsure.
She smiled. “I...”
“So, the Weaslette finally bagged herself a Potter. It's bad enough that she has to sleep with someone just to get out of poverty, but can't she at least pick someone human?” Malfoy said from nearby.
Ginny squeezed her eyes shut and nearly groaned. Damn Malfoy! The Ferret has the worst timing!
Hearing the muttering of her friends, her eyes snapped open and she stared at Harry. His expression was unreadable.
Harry slowly turned to face Malfoy, releasing his restraints on his magic as he turned. Seeing that Ron was climbing to his feet, scowling, he held up a hand.
The other students in the hall realized a confrontation was coming and fell silent.
“I didn't realize you had a death wish, Malfoy,” Harry said softly. “Sooner or later I am going to kill you, your family and everyone else who follows Voldemonkey. What I'm curious about is why you're rushing things. Insulting my friends is a sure fire way of pushing up your execution date.”
Malfoy took a step back, bumping into Goyle standing behind him. “You can't threaten me, Potter,” he snarled.
Harry chuckled, his eyes never leaving Malfoy.
Draco stared back and his hand twitched. Harry's gaze was unnerving him. For the first time he noticed his eyes had turned to a dark green. Little flecks and flickers of light back lit his pupils.
“I'm not threatening you, Malfoy. I'm making you a promise. Renounce Voldemonkey and turn yourself over to the Aurors and I'll let you live. Otherwise...”
“Otherwise?” asked Malfoy warily. He had turned away from Harry slightly, unable to bear that hard gaze any longer.
“Otherwise I'll hunt you down, wizard, and show you the same mercy my parents were shown. Only you'll die slowly and painfully,” Harry said calmly. His eyes flared brightly and Malfoy lost his nerve.
He gasped and turned, stumbling into Crabbe then fell to the floor. He reached for his wand and found it was missing again, despite the anti-summoning charm placed on it. On all fours, he scrambled down the aisle, trying to get away from Harry.
Harry dampened his magic down and looked at Malfoy's goons. “You might want to make sure he cleans up before class. The Professors do so hate an untidy student.”
The two hulking boys looked at him stupidly for a moment, then turned and lumbered after Malfoy
Harry watched them for a moment, shaking his head at their stupidity, then turned back to the table. “Are you all right Ginny? Don't let what Malfoy said bother you. He's big on talk, but couldn't find his way out of a paper bag if someone gave him a map.”
She smiled up at him. “Normally I don't, but I can't expect you to fight all my battles for me,” she countered.
Harry leaned down and reached into his bag. “You're right, but you can't expect me to sit silently by when he's saying things like that, either. But if it's revenge against the ferret that you want, why don't you, Luna and Hermione figure out what to do with this?” he said, placing Malfoy's wand on the table.
All three girls stared at the wand for a moment, then grinned at each other.
“Have it ready by lunch and I'll see it gets returned,” he added, then he stood and looked towards the entrance. Logan was watching him, grinning around an unlit cigar. He straightened and waved, then left his friends to join Logan.
Logan nodded in the direction that Malfoy ran. “Your work?”
He shrugged. “He was annoying me.”
Logan raised an eyebrow. “I could talk with him if you want.”
Harry laughed. “That, I would pay money to see.”
Logan put his cigar away and motioned toward Dumbledore's office.
With a mental sigh, Harry fell into step beside Logan. He hoped he had taken care of the spying devices, but he'd check when he got there.
“So, is this guy going to be a problem for you this year?” Logan asked.
“They all are, to one degree or another,” he replied.
“Even that pretty little red head? She kinda looks like a younger Jean.”
Harry grimaced and paused. Logan turned to look at him.
“There's already been one attempt on my life, but because I didn't see the shooter, Dumbledore did nothing. Most of the Slytherin boys in the sixth and seventh years are marked Death Eaters. I know it, Mum knows it, and I know she's given Dumbledore a list of names.
“Malfoy... he's changed in some ways and still the same in others. He's a bug, but now he's a dangerous bug. He's been doing something late at night in the castle, but I don't know what. His family is extremely dangerous, but he has an over inflated opinion of himself. I am pretty sure he wasn't the one throwing that spell that night, though. He's not the type to get his hands personally dirty. He'd rather pay someone to do it for him,” Harry said, then looked fully at Logan.
“That little red head is the most dangerous one of all. We're dating... I think... I'm not sure,” he added with a confused look. “The Death Eaters are simple. They want to kill me. To keep them from doing so, I'm more than willing to kill them first. End of story. But Ginny? She wants things. Things I'm not sure I know how to give her.”
Logan slapped Harry on the back. “All part of growing up, Wiz. I'm sure little Red will be happy to show you.”
He winced from the blow and nodded uncertainly. “Yeah, I know. That's what keeps me up at night.”
Giving Harry a small shove to get him moving, Logan began to laugh.
Snape's Quarters, Hogwarts...
Severus Snape was in an incredibly foul mood.
Last night the quill he had next to the receiver for his listening charm started writing what looked like a meeting between Dumbledore and the mutants. And then, for no apparent reason it inexplicably ended with no further conversation.
He gnawed worriedly at one fingernail and wondered if the charm had been discovered.
It would have been the second meeting with the Mutants that day, and the only meeting he would have caught that wasn't shielded by a privacy ward. Dumbledore was nearly as paranoid as Moody that way and it was a rare day that there wasn't a ward in place. Most of the time he picked up innocuous conversation about school matters.
To add insult to injury, the Potter brat had been present at the meeting. Somehow this was his fault, he was sure of that.
Turning, he checked several of the other quills he had tied to other objects. He was surprised to learn that there was nothing for Minerva's office. She was normally in her office before breakfast and spent the time muttering to herself. Mostly about school issues and some of her comments were quite amusing.
One of the other quills had hit pay dirt, however.
Dolores Umbridge was in a rage. Apparently he wasn't the only one with a listening charm going to Dumbledore's office and she was quite upset that the charm now seemed to be nonfunctional.
Snape grimaced, at the thought. Obviously the charmed items had been found and disposed of. Now the next question was what could he say to relieve Dumbledore's suspicions?
He paced the room, slowly building his lie. He'd claim he was unaware that there was any charm on the book. Only that he had bought the book in Knockturn Alley and someone else must have charmed it before he got his hands on it. Knockturn Alley wasn't the most reputable place, of course, but the shopkeepers knew well enough not to press their luck with Snape. As such, it had been years since he'd felt the need to check the items he bought in the Alley.
That he checked every item he bought, regardless of it's source, was beside the point. Albus didn't know that, and the lie should work.
He sat and gnawed on his fingernail again. Yes, the lie should work, but he was now back to square one again. Dumbledore was still not letting him attend the meetings with the mutants, claiming they didn't trust him. And his master wanted him to find out what was going on in those meetings.
He glanced at the clock on the wall, then stood. It was time for class.
Perhaps I can find out what's happening from one of Potter's friends, he mused. And perhaps it's time to start looking into this Professor Xavier. He's the one who sent the letter to the old fool.
Office of the Minister of Magic...
If Dumbledore had been paying attention, he would have been surprised to note that Professor McGonagall wasn't the only teacher not attending classes. Snape was uncharacteristically late, but Dolores Umbridge hadn't shown up at all!
Instead, she was cooling her heels outside of the Minister's office. At one time, the door had always been open to her and she'd been welcome at any time. Now, she was forced to wait impatiently, reduced to the position of supplicant.
“The Minister will see you now, Miss Umbridge. He says you have five minutes,” said the pretty, young secretary.
Dolores stood, smiled at the woman and nodded. Internally, she was fuming. Once she had commanded respect and was second only to the Minister himself! Now, she could only get five minutes? And grudgingly given, at that?
She stepped into the room and Rufus Scrimgeour looked up from his desk with distaste. “What do you want, Dolores? I sent you to Hogwarts with the hope that you wouldn't return here anytime soon.”
Umbridge blinked, then squared her shoulders. “There are problems in Hogwarts, Minister,” she said sweetly. “Problems that require your attention. Dumbledore has been consorting with those filthy mutants. It's bad enough he hired that mutant witch, who has completely ignored Ministry guidelines on teaching Muggle Studies, but now he's got several other mutants running around the castle!
“And that Potter brat! The things he's allowed to get away with are downright shocking. You simply need to get involved, Minister, before they ruin the school for everyone!”
Scrimgeour arched an eyebrow and recalled the notice he'd received that the monitoring device had ceased functioning this morning. He was still frustrated by the fact that the Unspeakables had been unable to get much out of the attempt to listen in to the old man's office. While Voldemort was an undeniable problem, Dumbledore was a political threat that he wanted monitored.
He picked up and fiddled with a quill for a moment, not speaking. Finally, he leaned back in his chair. “Dolores, your attitude towards half breeds and other non-pure bloods is well known. I don't know why I'm surprised to see it transfered to the mutant community. The same can be said about your hatred of Harry Potter.”
“But you don't know what he's done to the Malfoy heir! It's a disgrace!”
She squeaked and backed up a step when Scrimgeour leaned forward suddenly and hit his desk with the palm of his hand. “The Malfoy heir is the son of a convicted Death Eater. If I could, I'd see Cornelius kissed for accepting the bribe that pardoned him. So you'll forgive me if I don't seem too upset about any discomfort someone gives that arrogant little monster.”
Scrimgeour paused and took a deep breath. “Your complaints about Hogwarts are duly noted. I will be making an inspection tour of the school in the near future, but not entirely for the reasons you point out. And I can assure you, I will be asking Dumbledore about his dealings with these mutants. Thank you for the information,” he said coldly.
Dolores nodded and turned to the door. Just as she reached it, Scrimgeour stopped her.
“Oh, and Dolores? You might want to consider finding yourself a solicitor. We've fielded a number of complaints concerning your actions last year, and the DMLE may start looking into them soon.”
She swallowed nervously and her body broke out into a cold sweat. Nodding she fled his office as quickly as she could.
Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts...
“So the last time you tried to destroy one of these things, you were injured?” asked Scott. He eyed the locket on the desk as if it were a poisonous snake.
Harry glanced everywhere but the desk, not wanting to look at the horcrux. There were a number of charmed items in the office, though even with his mage sight, it took him time to sort them all out and realize that none were going outside the office anymore.
He stiffened slightly when he found the tracking device. The charms had not been removed. He flicked his wrist and his wand dropped to his hand. With a single, silent cast, the device exploded.
“Harry!” exclaimed Jean, standing in alarm.
Scott turned in his chair and looked at Harry. “I hope you have an explanation?” he asked icily.
Harry shrugged. “It was still tied to me,” he replied angrily, glaring at Dumbledore. “As he couldn't be bother to get off his ass long enough to ensure that I wasn't neglected, beaten or starved, then I can't be bothered with annoying tracking charms he had no business placing on me in the first place.”
Scott was silent for a moment, then nodded, accepting his explanation. He turned back to Dumbledore, noting the man staring at Harry in shock. “Well, Headmaster? You did say you'd remove that charm.”
Even Professor McGonagall was now looking at him with annoyance.
“I meant to. I just hadn't gotten around to it yet,” Dumbledore said defensively.
Harry snorted and moved to sit in the back of the room. He knew he was once again close to losing his temper with the old man. He struggled with his anger, but he was tired, making it more difficult than it should have been.
“Yeah, well, now you don't have to worry about that pesky little detail,” Logan growled. “So, about the ring? You were going to say something?”
Dumbledore frowned and turned his attention back to Logan. Harry's actions disturbed him on a number of levels. He was upset that he'd lost a valuable magical artifact and a monitor on the boy. He was also unhappy with the fact that his so-called parents were so quick to accept Harry's explanation.
“Yes, the ring turned out to have powerful dark magic protection. It would have killed me if I were a bit slower in getting out of the way. As it stands, it managed to injure my hand, despite my speed. The only other Horcrux was destroyed by Harry in his second year. As far as I know, there were no protections on the diary,” replied Dumbledore.
“Or maybe there was and Mr. Potter is immune to them?” murmured McGonagall.
Harry blinked and looked at her. “Are you serious?” he asked in a strangled tone. “Why would I be immune to them?”
She frowned. “I am sorry if it makes you uncomfortable, Mr. Potter, but we must consider the fact that the destruction of the first Horcrux was completly uncontrolled. And yet you were not injured while destroying it. There could have been many protections on the diary and we simply don't know about them. Was it because of your link to Voldemort? Or was there some other protection we don't know about. Like Fawkes, perhaps. Was he singing at the time?”
Harry shook his head, his complexion paling slightly. “I don't... It's hard to remember every little detail, Professor,” he said. “Ginny was dying. I had to save her,” he added plaintively.
McGonagall scowled for a moment, then she stood and conjured a mug of hot chocolate. She handed it to him and patted his shoulder, trying to ease his discomfort.
“If I remember correctly, you were bitten by the basilisk and healed by Fawkes. Phoenix tears and basilisk venom mixed together. I can't recall ever reading about such a mixture and I don't claim to be an expert on potions. But both liquids are magically very powerful. Combining them might give you some form of protection.
“I do not mean to make you uneasy, Mr. Potter. I am just saying that we have two incidents of destroying a Horcrux. One resulted in injuries, the other did not. We need to examine both incidents in detail.”
Harry took the cup and smiled weakly up at her.
“Professor McGonagall is correct, but I think we are getting ahead of ourselves a bit. Destroying the Horcrux is a priority, but it doesn't have to be done today. I'd like to take the time to do some more research. Not much is known about Horcruxes in regular wizarding literature, but there are sources we haven't checked yet. If at all possible, I'd like to avoid any further injuries to anyone else.”
Harry breathed a sigh of relief and closed his eyes. When he felt a hand on his forehead a few moments later, he opened them and looked into green eyes, identical to his own.
“Are you alright?” Jean asked worriedly. “You're not running a fever.”
“I'm just tired. I couldn't sleep last night,” he replied. “You know how bad my dreams are after I have a flashback.”
“So you stayed up all night?” Jean asked with a frown.
Harry nodded and Jean sighed softly in exasperation.
The others remained silent, listening to Jean and Harry.
“I'll send an elf to Madam Pomfrey to ask her for a light sleeping potion. Just something that will let you have a few hours maybe? I don't want you to throw off your entire schedule,” Jean said softly. “Next time, come to me, or go to Poppy.”
“Before you do that, Jean, might I impose on Harry for a few more minutes? I'd like to ask some questions concerning how he managed to summon the Horcrux.”
Jean met Harry's eyes and he nodded tiredly before looking at Dumbledore.
“You summoned the locket over a distance of hundreds of miles. I understand this is somehow related to your mutant abilities, so I'll try not to press for too much information. But can you explain it better? How were you able to summon the locket?” asked Dumbledore.
“It's not as simple as it appears, Headmaster,” Harry replied. “Last night I had an exact replica of the item to help me visualize, and a vague idea as to it's location. I need to know what the object is, in detail, or precisely where it is.”
Harry paused and ran a hand through his hair. “I could bring Nagini here to this room right now but I don't think you want to upset Voldemort like that just yet. Now that I think on it, I doubt I could bring a person to me. The locket was nice and small, easy to bring here. Nagini's pretty large. That might be troublesome, but worth the effort eventually.”
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and absently stroked his beard as he considered Harry's words.
“So if you knew what an object looked like, you could bring it here?” McGonagall asked incredulously.
“So that's why you wanted Harry to go with us last night. In case it proved too difficult to remove the Horcrux,” Dumbledore said, eying Scott.
Scott grinned. “That, and he wanted to pilot the Blackbird. He's been studying it since he first learned to fly.”
“And an excellent job of it he did,” Dumbledore replied with a hint of a smile, then his expression changed. “Harry, I'm grateful for the information you've given us. With your help, finding the Horcruxes may have become a whole lot safer.”
He wrote something down on a parchment and held it out to him. “Take this to Madam Pomfrey. She'll give you something that will help you sleep for a few hours, though I suspect she'll insist you stay in the infirmary. You're excused from attending class today, but I expect you to make up the work and do all the necessary homework.”
Harry pushed himself to his feet, more tired than he realized. A few moments later, parchment in hand, he left the Headmaster's office.
Jean watched the door close, then turned back Dumbledore. “You didn't mention anything about it, but I take it you've neutralized the listening spells in here?”
“And those we found in Professor McGonagall's office. I am troubled by the fact that in two of the cases, they were books given to us by Professor Snape. He must know the charms have been discovered and countered by now. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to determine where the other two objects went to. But I think it's safe to say that whomever put them here, now know their charms have been discovered, as well,” replied Dumbledore.
“We could meet in the Blackbird. That would ensure privacy,” offered Logan.
Scott shook his head. “Let's keep that idea in reserve for now.”
“What about the Chamber of Secrets?” asked Jean. “Correct me if I'm wrong, but Harry is the only one who can open the way. We could reopen the Chamber and make portkeys to it.”
“The Chamber would make an excellent, secure location, Albus,” McGonagall offered. “And it's never been fully explored, has it?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, it hasn't. Since the incident in the Chamber, I was reluctant to ask Harry to take us down there. However, knowing what we now know, it would be prudent to make sure Riddle didn't hide a Horcrux down there.”
Jean frowned. “I'll tell him about it. I'll be returning to the Blackmoor Castle for the weekend. I've been told, in very harsh terms, that I'm hurting my relationship with Harry by withholding certain items of information from him. As such, you should be aware that I will be discussing Snape's role, past and present, Headmaster.”
Dumbledore winced. “Are you sure that is prudent, Professor? Harry's reaction to the news might be rather volatile,” he said, concerned.
“I have little choice, Headmaster. By keeping this from him, I'm jeopardizing his trust in me and I won't do it any longer. I had wanted to wait until his friends could learn to protect themselves, but the longer I wait, the less he trusts me,” Jean said unhappily.
Scott reached over and took her hand in his. “He'll understand, once you tell him. Of all the people in the world, I think you're the one person he wants to trust the most.”
Jean nodded and smiled weakly at her husband. It had only been a few short months, but she found herself marveling at the fact that she couldn't imagine a life without Harry in it.
The Great Hall, Lunchtime...
Harry woke in the infirmary wanting to grumble. Dumbledore had been right. Madam Pomfrey had insisted he stay so she could monitor him.
She stepped from her office and moved to his bed. “Feeling better?” she asked.
He nodded. “A little. I still feel like I could sleep more, but I should be able to muddle through the rest of the day.”
Poppy shook her head and made a clucking sound. “You'll do more than muddle,” she said, producing a small vial from her pocket. “Drink this. It's an energy restorative. It will wake you up.”
He took the potion and eyed it with distaste. Sighing, he opened the vial and drank the contents quickly, trying not to taste it.
Poppy smiled approvingly. “The next time you find yourself unable to sleep, I fully expect you to come see me.”
“I hate sleeping in the infirmary,” he mumbled.
“You wouldn't have needed to, had you come to me last night,” she chided. “I would have sent you back to your dorm with a single dose vial. Now, you're free to join your friends. Lunch is about to begin and I expect you'll find them in the Great Hall.”
Thanking her, he made his way down to the Great Hall. At the door, he found Ginny, Luna and Hermione waiting for him.
He eyed the three witches suspiciously. “Erm... what's up?”
Ginny grabbed his arm and dragged him into a empty classroom, the other two following close behind.
“Can you get Malfoy's wand back to him?” she asked quietly.
Luna giggled and Ginny tried hard to suppress a grin. She held Malfoy's wand in her hand.
Harry took the wand from her and eyed it for a moment. “Do you want it to just appear in his pocket? Or should I leave it on the table where he sits?”
The three girls looked at each other.
“The table,” Hermione said firmly.
Ginny and Luna nodded in agreement.
Harry slipped the wand into his bag. “All right. Now, what did you do to it?”
Ginny gave him an evil grin. “What makes you think we did anything to it?”
“We would never dream of doing anything with Malfoy's wand,” Hermione said breathlessly.
“Of course we wouldn't,” agreed Luna. “That's Crabbe's job!”
The three girls looked at each other and began to laugh.
It took a moment for Harry to realize that they weren't talking about Malfoy's magic wand. He rolled his eyes. “Fine, I'm going to lunch then.” He turned away from them, muttering, “Not that I can eat with that image in my head now.”
He left the classroom with the others following him and snickering among themselves. Harry paused for a moment at the entrance of the Great Hall and the three girls nearly bumped into him. He fixed Malfoy's position at the Slytherin table in his mind, then he walked over to his customary spot at the Gryffindor table.
The girls followed him, expecting him to do something. When he didn't, their expressions grew confused.
Suddenly Malfoy bounced up from his seat with a startled yell. He pointed at the spot on the table where his wand had just appeared. His exclaimed cry drew the attention of the teachers at the staff table.
“Mr. Malfoy? Is there a problem?” called Snape.
Malfoy looked up at the staff table. “My wand just appeared on the table, Professor. It's been missing all morning.”
Snape frowned, stood up and made his way to Malfoy's side. The other teachers and most of the students watched with interest.
Snape pulled his own wand, then he turned to Malfoy. “You say it's been missing all morning? Did you report that fact?”
Malfoy nodded. “I spoke to Professor McGonagall about it, Professor. She said it would probably turn up being charmed with a prank, like the last time it went missing.”
Malfoy glanced at Harry, who was studiously pretending to ignore the spectacle.
Snape caught the direction of his gaze and nodded to himself. “Very well, Mr. Malfoy, let's remove that prank, shall we?”
“Now, that's a bad move,” muttered Luna.
Ginny snorted, and Hermione bit down on one knuckle, trying to keep herself from laughing.
“FINITE INCANTATUM!” Snape bellowed, pointing at Malfoy's wand.
Luna immediately slipped under the table, followed by Hermione and Ginny.
Ginny reached up and grabbed Harry, pulling him under the table with them, but not before the first effect went off.
A blindingly bright flash of light caused those in the room to flinch and close their eyes. The sharp, cracking sound had most slapping their hands to their ears.
Ginny looked at Harry, noting his surprise, and she collapsed against Hermione, giggling. Harry's forehead, and only his forehead was tanned. It was the only part of him still exposed when the curse went off.
He glared at the three giggling witches, then climbed back out from under the table and stared in shock. Everyone at the Slytherin table, except for Snape, was covered in soot.
Snape's hair had turned snow white, and so had his robes. The wand, what was left of it, burned merrily on the table. Everyone else in the hall had tan patterns based on what part of their bodies got hit with the light.
Luna popped up from under the table and sat down. She calmly poured herself a glass of pumpkin juice, then looked at Ron appraisingly. “It looks good, Ron. Almost as if all of your freckles have merged into one big one,” she said.
Ginny, who was still climbing out from under the table, slid back under, laughing.
“You ruined my wand?” Malfoy asked his Head of House.
Those in the hall grew quiet, but all eyes turned to Snape.
Snape glared at the boy balefully.
Everyone turned to Malfoy.
“You ruined my wand!” the blond accused, glaring back at his Professor.
Harry watched as everyone turned to look at Snape again. It was like watching some demented tennis game.
When the murmuring and soft laughter started, Harry turned back to Snape and Malfoy. The blond's face was red – whether from anger or embarrassment, Harry didn't know – but it was obvious the Professor was angry. Harry was surprised the man hadn't gone up in flames yet.
“Ten points from Slytherin!” Snape snarled loudly.
The shock of those words caused an instant silence to descend on the hall. Malfoy took a step back from his Head of House and swallowed nervously.
“That explains why he doesn't like wand waving,” Luna said, her comment echoing in the silent hall.
Professor McGonagall laughed. She manged to control it and look stern for a few seconds before she gave up and began to chortle.
Snape glared at her, his lips pulled back in a snarl. Then, turning abruptly, he pushed passed Malfoy and stalked from the hall.
As he rounded the corner, the students, including a few of the Slytherins, began to laugh.
Blackmoor Island and Castle...
He leaned against the chilly pane of glass and stared into the darkness, wishing his head would stop pounding. He and Jean had arrived late from Hogwarts, and after spending some time with Logan and Scott, Jean took him into one of the small sitting rooms to discuss 'things'.
He sighed and pushed back the urge to scream.
“Harry, before I begin, I want to apologize to you for holding this information back. But there was a good reason for it.”
He looked at her warily, not liking how the conversation was starting. “Go on,” he urged.
“A few days before school started, I learned something about Professor Snape. When I informed Professor Dumbledore about what I had discovered, he told me that what Snape had done to you was illegal. He hadn't been aware of it or he would have put a stop to it. What Snape did left you emotionally vulnerable and probably was what started the process of triggering your mutant abilities.”
Jean walked over to sit next to Harry on the love seat and she put a hand on his arm. “What Snape did was a kind of rape. According to Dumbledore, he damaged you emotionally.”
“That doesn't mean your crazy,” she said in a rush to explain. “What it means is that often victims of this kind of attack have difficulty controlling their emotions. Your mood swings and the panic attacks all tie back into the damage he caused. Recovery from an attack like this is often long and difficult.”
Harry stood and walked over to the fireplace. He stared at the flames moodily, waiting for her to continue. When she didn't, he hunched his shoulders and put his hands in his pocket. “There's more, isn't there?” he asked quietly..
“Yes,” Jean admitted. “Snape has been spying for Voldemort even more than he spies for Dumbledore. The man belongs to the side he thinks has the best chances of winning. Right now, in his mind, that's Voldemort. For some reason, Voldemort seems to have a hold on Snape that Dumbledore can't match.”
Harry shook his head in dismay and another long silence ensued. “He's going to let Snape get away with it, isn't he?” he asked finally.
Jean dug the fingers of one hand into her thigh and wished it were Snape's neck. “Yes,” she confirmed. “They plan on using him to feed false information to Voldemort.”
He turned to face her and crossed his arms across his chest. “I think the only thing that surprises me about all this is that you would keep it from me. I've been expecting Snape to betray Dumbledore for years. As for me?” he shrugged. “What he did is exactly what I've come to expect from him.”
Jean shifted in her seat uncomfortably and opened her mouth, but Harry waved her to silence.
“I need time to think about this,” he said.
She nodded helplessly and watched as he turned and walked out.
He had replayed that conversation a dozen times in the past two hours. He had made plans, then thrown them out. He thought about running away and leaving everything to burn. He thought about sneaking back into Hogwarts and killing Snape and maybe Dumbledore. He's even worked out a plan to sneak back into Hogwarts, kill Snape, punch Dumbledore, then leave the wizarding world and telling Jean to get lost. He's survived without family before, after all.
He compiled a list of all the students he knew were marked Death Eaters, carefully writing down each name. He thought about sending it to the Ministry. Or maybe the Daily Prophet. No, wait! The Quibbler!
In the end, he crumpled the parchment up and threw it into his book bag, disgusted with himself for being unable to make any sort of realistic plan.
He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the cool glass. Outside, an approaching storm pounded the island and moonlight reflected off the waves crashing against the rocky shore.
Slowly, his anger bled away, leaving him to feel as though he were sinking into a vast hole and he hadn't the energy, or the inclination, to claw his way out of it. With a heavy lurch, he jerked away from the window and kicked off his shoes. Crawling into bed, he pulled the blankets around him and just wished it would all go away.
He hadn't felt this alone since Sirius died.
Blackmoor Island and Castle (the next day)...
Harry rolled out of bed and stretched.
He knew his reaction to Jean's news last night had surprised and concerned her, just as he was sure it had surprised Scott, when she told him about it.
He looked out his window where he could see several house elves, on loan from Hogwarts, setting up chairs. He could also see Hagrid moving about, making sure everything was perfect.
The storm from last night had passed and the day was dawning, bright and sunny, though he was sure it would be chilly.
Harry frowned and considered what to do with himself today. His potions class had been canceled because of Hagrid's field trip, and that left him with some free time.
When news spread of Hagrid's intent to bring the students to visit with one of the few, rare species of sentient dragons, everyone clamored to be brought along. So the date for the trip was moved to a weekend and arrangements were made to bring the school to the castle in two groups. A morning group, consisting of the first through fourth years, and an afternoon group of fifth through seventh year students, escorted by several Professors.
The students would arrive by portkey and be taken directly to the edge of K'nor's lair. The castle was temporarily concealed behind a disillusionment charm.
Hagrid had spoken with K'nor and she had told him that she would bring out her fledglings to meet with the students. Her eggs had hatched two weeks earlier, giving her two male and two female dragonettes. The cow sized dragons were growing rapidly and could often be seen playing in the surf under K'nor's watchful eye.
A popping noise by his side alerted him to Dobby's arrival with breakfast. Once the meal had been arranged to the elf's satisfaction, Harry picked up a cup of coffee and nodded his thanks. He was still standing there when Jean found him, nearly a half hour later.
She opened the door, and seeing him dressed, walked over to stand next to him. “You seem awful quiet today.”
He shrugged. News of Snape's betrayal and their acceptance of it left him numb. “What am I supposed to say?” he finally asked. “He tore through my mind and left me wide open to Voldemort. He got most of my friends hurt and got Sirius killed. But does anyone punish him for it? Of course not. Instead, they turn to me and ask me to make another sacrifice.”
When Jean flinched, he turned to look at her. “What's next? Will you also tell me I have to fight Voldemort? I know you want to know how I feel.” He tilted his head slightly, then shrugged. “The answer is, I don't feel anything.”
He turned and walked to the door. Opening it, he paused and looked back at her, his eyes empty and is expression blank. “I don't think I have it in me to feel anymore,” he told her calmly, then turned away and left the room.
Jean closed her eyes and bit her lip. She'd felt nothing from him.
Harry wandered through the castle aimlessly, no real destination in mind. When he reached one of the two towers, he sighed and sat down next to one of the windows, trying to find a way out of the mess he found himself in.
Several hours later, Professor Dumbledore arrived with the first batch of incoming students and Jean was there to meet him. His smile slipped, seeing her expression. She motioned for him to follow, then turned and led him away from the students, who Professors Flitwick and Sprout were leading towards the end of the island.
“I take it from your expression that your news was not well received?” Dumbledore asked.
“Did you expect it to be?” She asked waspishly, then sighed and looked away. “To be honest, his reaction wasn't what I expected. I thought he'd be angry. Instead, he shut down tighter than ever. His shielding is so absolute now I can't even detect a hint of an emotion from him.”
“Yes, he's become quite adept at hiding his emotions. It wasn't until I reviewed some memories in my pensieve that I realized what he was doing,” replied Dumbledore. “What do you intend to do?”
Jean crossed her arms, hugging herself. “I'm not sure. But I feel I must tell you, if forced to make a choice between Harry or your war, Harry is going to win every time.”
Dumbledore's expression fell for a moment.
“There's something you should keep in mind, Professor,” Jean said. “You denied me a chance to grow up in the cult of Dumbledore. So I don't suffer from the awe and reverence that so many of the other wizards seem to hold for you. You are simply a man, and as fallible as any of us.”
“If you think it would help, I could try talking to Harry,” Dumbledore offered.
“That depends on what you intend to bring to the table,” Jean countered.
“What do you mean?”
“Professor, Harry will expect you to do something about Snape, at the least. What are you prepared to do?”
Dumbledore frowned. He wasn't prepared to do anything about Snape. In fact, he thought he was quite clever in keeping Snape on and feeding him false information.
“Why don't we discuss that?” Dumbledore replied with a smile, trying to stall for time. He motioned towards several chairs nearby.
Reluctantly Jean allowed herself to be led over to the chairs and sat down.
Dumbledore smiled and tried to remain calm and collected. He couldn't allow their plans to change over something so minor, so he'd have to be persuasive.
Later that day...
It was the sound that first alerted Logan. The room was rumbling noisily when it shouldn't be making any noise at all! He walked over and opened the door to the control room. Unlike the Danger Room in the Westchester manor, this one had it's control room at floor level.
Checking the display, he blinked and wondered who was running what looked like a major battle scenario. Leaning over the console, he looked through the control room window to see what was going on.
Inside the Danger Room, Sentinels and Death Eaters alike were advancing on a single point. Harry's wand flashed nearly continuously as he cycled through normal and phase space. Sometimes he'd cast with both hands, but not often.
Logan flinched as Death Eater stepped out from behind a body of a downed Sentinel. Harry raised a hand and a thick rope of energy hit the Death Eater in the chest. Another Death Eater vaporized into a blood red mist.
Seeing enough, Logan slammed his hand down on the panel, hitting the emergency shutdown and halting the simulation.
Harry turned and glared at him behind the glass. “What the hell did you do that for?”
“You're not even attempting to capture these guys!”
“I'm not a policeman! I don't take prisoners,” Harry spat.
Shaking his head, Logan walked to the door and opened it. “So you're looking for a fight then?” he asked as he entered the room and walked over to Harry.
Not waiting for an answer, he hit Harry, or tried to. Harry phased just as the punch was about to land, then he swung with his own fist, turning it solid just in time to hit Logan in the stomach.
Logan grunted softly, then grinned and shook his head. “You need a lot more power behind those swings before they'll bother me, Wiz.”
Harry laughed, then the two men went for each other. By unspoken agreement, both refrained from using their abilities. It had been part of Harry's training during the summer months and something he'd missed while at Hogwarts.
The pair grappled for several minutes without either gaining an advantage over the other. The lack of abilities forced them to rely on technique. Logan was a mean fighter, with much more experience, but Harry was wickedly fast and wiry. He didn't have a lot of technique, but what he knew, he used to his advantage. Despite Logan's advantages, they were surprisingly well matched.
The door opened and Harry's concentration was momentarily broken as he glanced toward it. Logan used the opportunity to slip inside his guard and throw him. He sailed through the air, twisting as he did. He landed and rolled back to his feet, crouching down.
“Got ya!” called Logan.
“You got lucky, old man!” Harry replied, knowing it would piss him off. He was right.
Logan growled and charged at Harry, who leapt to one side. Logan bounced off the wall and collided with Harry, pushing him to the ground. He pivoted on top of him, pinning him to the cushioned floor.
“Do ya give?” he growled.
Harry slapped the floor and Logan sprang to his feet. Harry climbed to his own feet and did his best not to groan.
“Damn, Logan, you've put on weight,” Harry grumbled as he rubbed his aching chest. “Getting soft, are you?”
Logan growled at Harry, then turned to Scott and Jean, who were standing in the doorway.
Harry saw the two and stiffened. “I'll talk with you later, Logan. I should be with my classmates at Hagrid's demonstration.”
He walked toward the door, stopping to pick up his towel. Draping it around his neck, he walked out of the room.
Jean watched him go, then she sighed sadly and shook her head. Scott and Logan shared a look between them.
“All right,” Logan growled. “What hell's going on? I heard Harry running the Danger Room at a nearly suicidal level and now he won't even look at Jean?”
“He's just upset,” Jean said.
Logan blinked at turned to Scott. “We need to get her back to the States. She's picking up on the Brit's liking for understatements. If Harry is upset, then Rodeo Drive's a strip mall!”
Scott placed an arm protectively around Jean and she leaned against him. “He's angry at the moment. Jean told him about Snape last night.”
Logan scowled and pulled a rather smashed looking cigar out of his pants pocket. Surprisingly it had survived his sparring match with Harry...mostly intact.
“Let me go have a pointed talk with Snape,” he said, extending the claws on one hand. “That will solve the problem and make Harry happy.”
“We can't!” Jean snapped at him. “And when are you going to outgrow your reliance on violence?”
“But it works so well, and will make the Wiz happy,” Logan protested, trying to look innocent.
When her eyes flashed angrily, Logan took a step backwards.
“Whoa, Jean, it was just a joke. Listen. He's got to work this through by himself. I know you're both hurting, but he's a smart kid and he'll find his way. But if you're bent on worrying about someone, turn your attention to Dumbledore and Snape.”
“Snape?” Scott said, looking up from Jean. “You don't think he's going to go after Snape, do you?”
Logan chomped down on his cigar and smiled beatifically. “Not in the manner you're thinking. But Snape and Dumbledore are going to find that pissing off the Wiz is a really bad idea. If I know Harry, and I think I do,” he added, rubbing an aching rib, “he now considers Dumbledore and Voldemort to be equal in his eyes. And if this world is telling him that he has to kill one bad wizard, it wouldn't be a stretch to add another corpse to the pile, now would it?”
Logan looked between the two, then laughed quietly as he walked out of the room. If Harry decided to go after Dumbledore, he could only hope the kid invited him along for the fun.
Care of Magical Creatures class, Blackmoor Island...
Harry wandered around outside of the castle for several hours before he approached the crowd of students, who were staring up the the huge head of K'nor in awe. Several students had cameras, while others were frantically sketching images either with pencils or charmed quills.
Hagrid stood to one side, while K'nor spoke telepathically to the students, telling them of the Dragon Age, the time when Dragons ruled the land, sea and skies. Hagrid's pleasure at seeing his students so engrossed in the lesson was obvious by the smile on his face. Even the Slytherins seemed to have lost most of their haughtiness in the face of the ancient and awesome creature.
“And then Migard battled Bahamut for supremacy of the world. Dragon fought dragon and the world rocked and shuddered from the battle. Fire consumed the world. For a thousand circles around the sun we fought with tooth, fire, claw and tentacle. And then it was over. Migard and Bahamut were slain and the clans broken.”
Harry quietly joined the half giant, not wanting to interrupt the lesson. “Everything all right, Hagrid?” he asked quietly. The students ignored him as they listened to K'nor's tale. Curious, he lowered his shield slightly, then blinked, surprised.
He could see the imagery behind the words K'nor was projecting into their minds. He glanced at the students, surprised to discover that he wasn't the only one who could feel and see what she was describing. Hermione stood not far from Neville, who had a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes were filled with tears.
Hagrid turned to Harry, grinning “Just fine, Harry. This is one o' the finest classes I've ever had. Everyone, even the trouble makers, are behavin' 'emselves fer a change.”
Harry nodded. He was happy that his friend's work was such a success. Ancient dragons were exceedingly rare and the younger dragons were losing their ability to communicate with man. Some thought that they may be losing their sentience, as well.
K'nor had explained to Harry and Hagrid that the dragons weren't losing their sentience, they were merely frustrated by Wizarding kind and their lack of respect for other magical beings. He looked at the students again, ignoring K'nor's tale. He had heard it before, although without the graphic imagery backing it up.
There were few of the older Slytherin boys present. The conditions Harry had imposed on the trip made it unappealing to the Death Eaters in the school. All of the students, including his friends, had to turn over their wands and submit to a magical scan before being allowed to portkey to the island. None of the Death Eaters had been willing to attend unarmed and without their toys.
Harry nodded towards K'nor. “She seems to be enjoying this almost as much as you are,” he observed.
Hagrid nodded happily. “She likes to teach, she told me. She's says tha' by touchin' the lives o' the younger wizards, she's helpin' her own kind, since so many now rely on us fer protection from the Muggles.”
Harry nodded and looked seaward. “I don't see the babies.”
“They were out earlier,” Hagrid replied. “When the first class came through, we fed 'em a bunch o' fish, while K'nor watched an' talked about baby dragons. There were several first year students tha' I think wanted to adopt the little tykes, but K'nor brought 'em back inside fer their nap.”
He gestured to the older students. “This batch are learnin' more about dragons as they once were, rather than about the babies, but there will be plenty o' pictures an' photographs fer 'em to look at.”
Harry grinned, watching Hagrid smiling lovingly up at a creature that could swallow him whole. He patted him on the arm. “I'm glad everything worked out all right, Hagrid. From the look on their faces, I'd say this was a big success.”
Hagrid nodded happily, still staring up at the dragon.
Harry turned away from him and started to walk back towards the castle.
Seeing him, Neville nodded in greeting, then nudged Hermione gently.
She glanced at him, then looked at Harry, who smiled, but kept walking. He missed her incredulous look when she spotted the tattoo on his upper arm.
K'nor turned away from the students and hissed something, startling them.
“You seem troubled, young dragon friend,” she said in parseltongue.
He stopped and turned to look at her. “I am, great one, but this is not the time nor the place for me to discuss such matters,” he replied, hissing back at her.
“Truly, and our conversation upsets your classmates. We will speak when we next meet. Her great head tilted and she gazed at him for a moment. For now, I would ask that you remember that not all problems are for you, alone, to solve. Nor can all problems be solved by one who is alone.”
Harry nodded. “I will consider your words, great one,” he hissed.
“Take them to heart, fledgling. A clan may begin with one, but can only continue with many.”
Harry bowed to K'nor and backed away from the dragon respectfully. He paused next to Hermione and ignored the stares from his other classmates, then he made a snap decision.
“I want to talk to you, Ron, Neville and Ginny later tonight. It's important,” he said quietly.
When Hermione and Neville nodded, he turned and walked back to the castle.
Gryffindor Common Room, (Later that evening)...
After he had left the students, Harry wandered around the island, thinking mostly, before returning to the small interior court where the students were assembling to return to Hogwarts. He spoke briefly with Jean, trying to signal that things, while not perfect, were getting better between them.
He still wasn't convinced that he needed to fight anyone. But he thought it would be a good idea to warn the others about the danger in the school.
He and Jean returned to the school, portkeying with one of the last batches of students. K'nor's comments had touched him deeply. Somehow, despite his shields, the ancient dragon seemed to know what was bothering him. She had told him something that, while making sense, he wasn't willing to fully accept, yet.
Harry waited until most of the younger students had retired for the evening before returning to the common room from the library.
Hermione looked up and smiled. She didn't know what he wanted, but his seriousness worried her.
He walked over to join his friends and wandlessly conjured a high backed armchair to sit in. Ginny, sitting on the large couch, frowned over his choice of seating arrangements. He stared into the fire for a long time not saying anything.
“Harry?” Hermione said softly.
He blinked and looked away from the fire. “Snape is a traitor. He's not working for Dumbledore like everyone thinks,” he said bluntly. “He's in charge of the marked students in the castle.”
He reached into his book bag and pulled out the crumpled parchment with the list of student Death Eaters. He handed it to Hermione and stood. “I strongly suggest you find a way of arranging for fatal accidents for these people. They won't use a jelly legs curse on you, if given the chance. Especially you, Hermione, you and the other Muggle born.”
Hermione paled and took the offered parchment. “What is this?” she whispered.
“It's a list of every marked person in the school, including our illustrious Potions Master. Everyone that bears the mark is listed there, starting with Snape,” he replied. “If you don't do anything about it, then you might as well go back to sucking Dumbledore's dick and waiting for the axe to fall on your neck.”
Hermione looked up from the list, shocked by what he had given her and by what he hadn't said. “You're not going to help us?” she asked incredulously.
He shook his head. “No. This is a wizard problem. Oh, if any of these wizards attack me I'll kill them, but it stopped being my business when I discovered that I'm supposed to fight for wizards, but no wizard is willing to fight for me.”
Harry turned walked up stairs to the boy's dorm. As soon as he was out of sight of his friends, he phased and vanished.
“What the bloody hell is going on?” exclaimed Ron explosively.
Hermione passed the parchment to Ginny. The number of marked students, including those not in Slytherin, terrified her.
Ginny took the parchment with a trembling hand, but she was upset for different reason. Harry hadn't looked at her once tonight, and his eyes, his expression, seemed so cold and distant. He was cutting ties and she knew it in her gut.
She quickly read through the list, paling when she saw Michael Corner's name, and Cormac McLaggen.
Neville bolted from his spot next to Hermione, running up the stairs to their dorm room. He returned a few minutes later with a puzzled look on his face.
“He's not there. I don't understand it. The window is closed and his broom is still leaning against the bed. Where could he have gone?”
Ron looked up from reading the list. “He probably took his cloak and slipped out.”
“We would have noticed the Common Room door opening, Ron,” Hermione replied with a shake of her head.
“Well then where is he? He couldn't apparate away. Merlin knows you've told us enough times that it isn't possible to apparate at Hogwarts,” he replied.
“Well, it's nice to see you're finally listening to me,” Hermione snapped.
“Will you two stop it? We have a big problem here,” hissed Ginny. “Harry's cutting himself off from us. Something happened to him this weekend,” she said worriedly, glancing up at the boys dorms before turning back to her friends, “and now we have to deal with having Death Eaters in every house!”
Hermione leaned back, looking pensive. “I told Harry the we'd not only support him, but try to bring in others, as well.”
“What about the DA?” asked Ron.
“Perhaps, but we'd have to be careful,” Hermione replied, pointing to the list. “There are a few ex-members who are marked now. Secrecy is going to be critical. This list is explosive.”
The three pure bloods looked at her strangely and she frowned. “I mean it's dangerous. Just knowing the names is dangerous, and if we move against these students, Dumbledore could turn against us. He has to know about these students and he's allowing them to remain in the school.”
Ron looked doubtful, but Ginny and Neville nodded.
“And what about Harry?” asked Ginny worriedly.
“I wouldn't worry about him too much, Ginny. He's angry right now and I think he feels alone. But he'll come around,” offered Neville to everyone's surprise. “He just needs some time to think, that's all.”
Everyone turned to stare at Neville who had become much more outspoken this year. During the summer months his face had lost most of it's baby fat and sharpened as a result. He was still soft spoken, but now spoke with confidence and a newly found sense of authority.
Hermione blinked her eyes and wondered where this Neville had been hiding all this time. Had he always been like this and she just hadn't seen it? She looked down at her hands, realizing to her own shame, that Harry had seen it all along, while she'd missed it.
Muggle Studies Office...
Jean read the paper for the third time and still couldn't concentrate on it. She had spent a tense Sunday trying to grade papers and today's classes hadn't been much better. She hadn't seen Harry since Saturday, when they returned to the castle.
The Muggles have power stations which are powered by adams. This is called knukleer power.
Jean stared at the line for a moment. It was part of a paper written by a Slytherin third year. In frustration, she threw down her pen and pushed away from the desk.
“Are you all right, Jean?”
She started in surprise and looked toward the door. Smiling, she shook her head and waved Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall into the room.
“We were just going to have tea in Poppy's quarters and thought we'd invite you to join us,” Minerva said, then she looked down at the pile of papers on her desk and arched an eyebrow.
“I was just trying to grade these homework assignments,” Jean said, staring at the pile.
Minerva walked over and took the younger woman by the arm. “And driving yourself crazy in the process, I bet. Come on. A cup of tea and some time away from the homework will make you feel better.”
Jean nodded and let Minerva pull her from her office. After a short walk they ended up in Poppy's quarters, just off the infirmary.
Jean settled onto a large couch, while Poppy served tea. She sipped quietly and relaxed for the first time in nearly two days.
“I really need to start drinking more tea when I'm back in the States. Coffee only makes it harder for me to relax,” she murmured with a sigh.
Poppy eyed her shrewdly. “Hmm, yes. I noticed you seemed unhappy when you were at breakfast this morning. Is there something wrong?”
Jean placed the cup on the table in front of her and looked at the two older women, then shrugged her shoulders. “I'm just worried about Harry. He and I had some necessary conversations this weekend and things didn't go well. He's barely spoken to me since Saturday afternoon.”
“I guess that explains that comment,” Minerva said softly.
Jean turned to her, curious.
“I was approached today by Miss Weasley, who asked if I had seen Mr. Potter today. I didn't have him in class, and I don't recall seeing him in the Great Hall, but in checking with Filius and Hagrid, I learned that he has been to class.”
Poppy frowned. “I've known Harry since his first year. It's not like him to shut out his friends like that.”
Minerva snorted and put her tea down. “Upset? He's been slowly pushing everyone away since the beginning of the year. I imagine what you told him only sped things up.”
“He knew I was hiding something from him. I had to tell him,” countered Jean.
“You did,” Minerva said with a nod. “But now he needs to work through it.”
“Would someone kindly tell me what has him so upset?” asked Poppy in exasperation.
Jean looked down at the cup sitting before her, debating with herself exactly what she could reveal. Fortunately, Minerva came to her aid.
“Harry was abused by several members of the staff last year, Poppy. Some of their actions weren't exactly legal,” Minerva said guardedly.
Poppy glared at her friend. “You can't fool me, Minerva. I know you mean Severus, even with your alluding to Dolores and her damnable quill. Why the Headmaster asked him to teach Harry Occlumency and not you, still baffles me.”
McGonagall looked at Poppy, shocked. “How did you know that I knew Occlumency?” she demanded.
Poppy leaned back in her chair and grinned. “I said you can't fool me, Minerva. I've been your healer for eighteen years, and your friend even longer. During that time, I've nursed you through sickness and injury. Some diagnostic charms work slightly different on people who have mastered Occlumency. I've known for years.”
Poppy paused and her expression darkened. “I take it from both of your expressions that this wasn't just the usual Snape yelling at a student routine.”
Jean sighed and her shoulders slumped slightly. “I suppose you should know. I've helped him medically several times, but it's not a good thing to treat your own family. You're the closest thing he has to a primary care physician.”
She paused and looked at Minerva. She was torn. She didn't want to reveal Harry's secrets, but Poppy did need to know about this.
“Severus used his Legilimency skills to hurt Harry,” Minerva said, jumping in. “Instead of learning to protect his mind, his natural defenses were damaged, making it easier for You-Know-Who to attack him. The Headmaster is keeping Severus in the school because he still believes him to be useful to the war effort.”
Poppy nodded. “That explains why Harry isn't taking potions,” she said, then she turned to Jean. “And you told him about it this weekend?”
Jean nodded unhappily. “He was upset at first, asking me what else he'd had to sacrifice. He thinks that I agreed with the decision to keep Snape in the castle and not demand justice be done. Truthfully, he's right. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but Harry doesn't see it that way. All he knows is that, once again, he's been put upon and denied justice.”
“And now he's having trust issues,” Poppy said quietly, then shook her head sadly. “I've been the school healer for nearly twenty years. I've seen my share of students who've been abused. Trust is just one of the problems these children have. Harry's not all that much different. If you discount his abilities, he's trying very hard to be an average teenager.”
“He's never been all that average,” Minerva objected. “Until he took his OWLs, he always seemed to be a rather average student academically, though his practical skills have always far outstripped his classmates.”
“Well, about his grades, it turns out there was a reason for them,” Jean said.
When the two women looked at her, she sighed and rubbed a hand across her forehead. “Harry admitted at the beginning of the school year that, before coming to Hogwarts, he used to receive beatings if he did better in school than his cousin. His cousin was a particularly poor student.”
Minerva frowned and sat straighter in her chair. A small pop signaled the arrival of a house elf.
“Binky is sorry, Professor, but the Headmaster is asking for you and Professor Summers. Mister Minister is here demanding to speak with Harry Potter.”
Jean groaned and wiped her face with one hand. “This just keeps getting worse and worse. Harry's going to freak.”
McGonagall ignored her and turned to the elf. “Do you know where Mr. Potter is Binky?”
The little elf nodded.
“Excellent. Please inform Mr. Potter that he's needed in the Headmaster's office. And warn him that the Minister is here.”
Binky nodded and vanished.
Suspecting there was going to be a problem, Jean reached for her phone as she walked with Minerva. If the Ministry was going to be causing problems, she wanted to alert the American Embassy.
Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts...
Harry took a deep breath, then walked up the circular staircase to the Headmaster's office. The elf had been quite specific about the Minister wanting to speak with him. Harry knew that speaking was probably the last thing on Scrimgeour's mind.
He paused, then knocked on the door at the top of the steps.
Opening the door, his eyes darted to Jean, then moved around the room. He noted McGonagall's presence absently. Dumbledore was in his customary position behind his desk. Scrimgeour stood next to him, along with Dawlish, Shacklebolt and several other Aurors. Dolores Umbridge sat in one corner, looking pleased.
“You wanted to see me, Headmaster?” he asked.
“I summoned you, Mr. Potter,” Scrimgeour interrupted. “Dawlish, take away his wand.”
Dawlish pulled his wand, and to Harry's surprise, he snapped off a spell.
Harry teleported from his position to one immediately behind Dawlish.
Before Dawlish could move Harry had him screaming on the floor from a well placed kick to the back of his right knee. He then stepped forward and grabbed Dawlish's arm, breaking it at the wrist and the elbow. He followed it up with a blow to the back of the Auror's head, causing him to smash his face against the stone floor. Dawlish gave a strangled gasp and went limp.
Pivoting and pulling his wand, Harry covered the other Aurors, who seemed frozen in shock at both the intensity and speed of his attack.
“Harry, stop!” Dumbledore shouted, then he turned to the Minister. “You said you wanted to talk to him, not arrest him!”
Umbridge jumped to her feet with an inarticulate shout, causing most of those in the room to look at her. Her eyes blazing, she drew her wand on Harry, who was still watching the Aurors.
“Look out!” Minerva shouted as she reached for her own wand, but it was too late.
Harry glanced over his shoulder and saw the spell just before it crashed into his left shoulder. He groaned and blood fountained from a hole the size of a soda can.
He staggered and flicked his fingers at Umbridge. She screamed and fell into a heap, bleeding from dozens of wounds.
Several Aurors took the opportunity to fire off curses at Harry.
Jean stood and gestured. The curses hit a kinetic barrier and bounced upwards, gouging deep holes in the ceiling.
“HOLD YOUR FIRE!” thundered Shacklebolt angrily at his men. Most looked at him in shock, but they lowered their wands.
Harry had staggered into a corner, his body phasing in and out of normal space. Jean blanched, knowing that his survival instincts had kicked in, inadvertently revealing abilities he didn't want known.
The fact that Harry kept switching in and out of normal space was enough to freeze everyone as they stared at him, shocked by what they were seeing.
Leaning heavily against one wall, he turned enough that Jean was able to see his wound better and she gasped. Blood pumped from the hole Umbridge's spell had blast through his flesh and she feared she was watching him bleed out in front of her.
Fawkes trilled loudly and sprang aloft, gliding over to Harry.
He blinked at the large bird hovering before him, not comprehending what he wanted. He slid to the floor clutching at his shoulder and the large bird moved closer, dropping tears on the wound. Even with the help of the phoenix, loss of blood and pain forced him into unconsciousness.
Scrimgeour reached for his own wand, only to find himself facing down an enraged Albus Dumbledore. He held his wand right between the Minister's eyes.
“You were never the best student in Defense, and I am sure you have not improved over the years, Rufus” Dumbledore said mildly, though his eyes burned with anger. “Though you are welcome to try.”
Jean and Minerva knelt by Harry's side. Fawkes had closed the wound, but he had lost a lot of blood. Jean carefully examined the wound as it was healing, noting that she could see the collar bone and that it was broken. Apparently Phoenix tears didn't help very much with broken bones.
When the Minister slowly moved his hand away from his wand, Dumbledore turned to Jean. “How is he?”
Jean and Minerva both glared up at him.
“How do you think he is?” Jean snapped. “He's been attacked by an agent of the Ministry. He needs a healer!”
“I've already sent for Poppy. I assure you that we will do everything in our power to see that he is well taken care of,” Dumbledore replied calmly.
“Yeah, because that's worked so well for you in the past,” Jean muttered under her breath.
Minerva grumbled her agreement.
Dumbledore turned back to the Minister. “Can I ask why you took it upon yourself to order an attack against my student?” he asked, in a much harder tone. “I think the Wizengamot is going to be very interested in these proceedings.”
Scrimgeour winced. “I didn't order Dawlish to attack Mr. Potter,” he protested. “But it's Ministry procedure to disarm a possible threat to the life of the Minister, and as you know, Mr. Potter is a registered dark creature.”
“Mr. Potter is no more a dark creature than I am,” exclaimed Minerva.
The door opened and Poppy entered, followed by two men in gray Muggle suits. Then men were sweaty and breathing heavily, having obviously been running.
Dumbledore's brow wrinkled in confusion as both men entered. He watched as one of the men approached Jean. When he knelt down, drew his wand and spoke quietly with her, the Headmaster turned to the second man and raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me, but who are you people?”
The other man, taller and with graying hair, glanced at Scrimgeour for a moment before stepping past him. “I'm Robert Wilkins, from the U.S. State Department, Magical Division. Mrs. Summers contacted me when she learned that the Minister of Magic wanted to speak with Harry Potter. Suspecting the possibility of an incident, I grabbed the Embassy healer and we came here as quickly as possible.”
“What interest do the Americans have in this? This is a British matter!” protested Scrimgeour angrily. This meeting was not going as he had envisioned it!
“Actually, Minister, Mr. Potter is the adopted child of Mr. & Mrs. Summers. Mr. Summers is an American citizen and Mrs. Summers holds a dual citizenship in both the U.K. and the U.S. At the request of Mr. Potter, and with the approval of his adopted parents, he was granted dual citizenship under our political asylum laws.”
Wilkins smiled thinly at the sputtering Scrimgeour. “As you can see, we have a vested interest in this matter.”
He turned to Jean. “Can you explain what happened here, Mrs. Summers?” he asked gently.
Jean looked up from Harry and nodded towards Scrimgeour. “He came in here, demanding to see my son. As soon as Harry arrived, he ordered an Auror to disarm Harry. The Auror fired off a spell. He didn't ask for his wand, he just attacked. When Harry disabled him, Madam Umbridge attacked him from behind.”
Scrimgeour stormed over to Wilkins, who was a full head taller than he was. “Now see here! Just because he's got some trumped up citizenship doesn't mean he doesn't have to follow our laws. You have no jurisdiction at all in this matter and he's a registered dark creature. For that matter, by our laws, she can't adopt him. Dark creatures aren't allowed to have or adopt children!”
“She's not a dark creature, you stupid, arrogant wizard,” said a voice.
Harry was awake and he was spitting mad. He stood slowly and unsteadily. “Why have you attacked me, Minister?”
Poppy stood behind him, watching carefully as she finished up her bone knitting spell, fixing the damage that Fawkes could not.
Rufus smiled placatingly. It was obvious, even to him, that the boy was boiling mad. Magic rolled off him in waves, making the atmosphere in the crowded office oppressive. “Now, Harry, I assure you that was not my intent. I came here because I was intending to offer the services of the Ministry in training you for your fight with Voldemort.”
“Wait a second!” said Wilkins, turning to look back at the Minister. “You told us you were taking care of Voldemort and that he was nothing to worry about. Why are you asking Mr. Potter to fight him? Are you saying this is more of a problem than you've told us?”
While the Minister and the American conversed, Poppy finished with Harry and walked over to Dolores, who was still on the floor, bleeding from numerous cuts. She looked around, then waved her wand sloppily, closing the wounds and leaving very obvious scars. She looked guilty and a little ashamed, when she spotted Minerva staring at her. But then Minerva's lips thinned and she nodded firmly at the healer before turning away.
“How can you call it under control when you obviously don't have it under control!” shouted Wilkins.
Rufus sputtered and fingered his hat. “It is under control, or will be, with Harry's help,” he declared, then he turned to look at Harry hopefully.
Harry's smile was almost feral. “Fuck you! I'd rather surrender to Voldemort than fight for you or this society,” he spat.
“Surely you don't mean that, Mr. Potter?” Dumbledore asked quietly.
Harry sneered at him. “Try me.”
Harry turned to Wilkins. “Do you think Salem would be willing to accept a late transfer?”
“Harry,” Jean said warningly.
He shook his head at her. “No! This is the last straw. I've given up my parents, my godfather and my life. For what? Stupid people who label me a dark creature, restrict my rights within their society, yet still expect me to risk my life to save them?”
He looked at each person in the room, meeting their eyes one by one. “You're all insane. All of you. I have no reason, not one, to risk myself for you. Voldemort can kill you all and burn your world to the ground. I no longer care. The other magical governments will keep him confined to Britain.”
“Enough!” Jean snapped. She wasn't really angry at him, but she'd explain that later to him.
Harry blinked at her in surprised shock. Jean turned away from him, looking at the others. “Despite his rudeness, my son has a definite point, and one which I happen to agree with. You people are sitting on your asses doing nothing. The Ministry hasn't caught a single real Death Eater, and the people working for the Ministry are more interested in maintaining their positions than they are in keeping their people safe.
“You unfairly classify both myself and my son as dark creatures because of a difference so minor in our makeup that you can't see it without a electron microscope, a piece of equipment your backward world doesn't know about and is incapable of comprehending! You discriminate against us, and tell us we can't hold jobs or marry or adopt. Then you have the gall to demand Harry save you? Why should he?”
“Go, mum!” Harry muttered.
Jean ignored his comment, her anger driving her on. “Since we've come back to Britain we've been vilified and forced to register. This is the only government on the planet that considers mutants to be sub-human! What's next? Will we be forced to sew a large M into our sleeves? Concentration camps? Gas chambers?
“I have been trying very hard to help Harry find reasons to help you people because I thought it was the right thing to do. And he's been fighting me, telling me those reasons don't exist. I'm beginning to think he's right!”
Wilkins was grinning broadly. He'd been wanting for years to be there when someone took the British Ministry down a peg or two. The British knew the references and he could see her scoring with every comment.
Jean marched up to Scrimgeour, going nose to nose with the man.
“Back off! If you don't want every media organization in the world to know what happened here, you will issue a public apology to Harry for what happened here today. You will also take that disgusting waste of human flesh you call a teacher,” she said pointing to the weeping Umbridge on the floor, “and toss her fat, toadish ass into prison. Last year, she tortured students and you, Minister, allowed her back in this school! Have you no sense? Where is the fabled British sense of honor? How could you allow that woman back in this school when she should be in prison?”
Scrimgeour backed up, and Minerva, along with several Aurors, smirked at the sight of the short red head cornering their Minister.
Shacklebolt gestured to one of the Aurors, who then stepped over to Dolores and snapped a pair of manacles around her wrists. Umbridge took one look at the magic suppressing handcuffs and wailed loudly.
One of the Aurors silenced her and Scrimgeour used the distraction to try to mollify Jean and Harry.
“Mrs. Summers, I assure you no one was supposed to get hurt or arrested today. Auror Dawlish overstepped his bounds and will be severely punished for it. As for Dolores, if your charges are true, we will, of course, see that she is properly punished. In fact, I'll assign an Auror team to investigate your charges immediately. Shacklebolt, take her in.”
Shacklebolt nodded and gestured to the Auror who'd handcuffed her. The man grabbed Umbridge with one hand, then activated a special portkey to take them both back to the Ministry.
Scrimgeour sighed and shook his head ruefully. Yes, he had planned the meeting, but he hadn't expected Dawlish to take his command as permission to curse Harry Potter. Nor had he counted on Umbridge's actions.
With one last, searing glare, Jean turned away from the Minister and went to Harry's side. She wrapped an arm around his shoulders and he leaned unsteadily against her. At her gentle urging, she managed to get Harry moving toward the door. Poppy and the two Americans followed them out.
Wilkins turned at the door and looked at Scrimgeour for a moment. “I will try to report this in a favorable light to the Ambassador, but this will not look good, no matter how I tell it. You can probably expect my government to demand clarification on your Voldemort problem, as well as an explanation of why you expect one of our teenaged citizens to solve it for you.”
When the door closed behind the man, Dumbledore took off his glasses, dropped them on his desk and rubbed his face tiredly.
“Minister, if you don't need us?” Shacklebolt asked. He knew from Dumbledore's expression that he really didn't want to hang around much longer.
“Yes, of course, Auror Shacklebolt. Take your men and return to headquarters,” Rufus murmured, wishing fervently that he could join them. Suddenly being Minister wasn't as much fun as he thought it could be.
Shacklebolt nodded and stepped over to the floo with his three Aurors. Two of them were dragging an unconscious Dawlish between them. A moment later they were gone in a flash of green flame.
Minerva tugged on Poppy's sleeve, then signaled to Dumbledore, who nodded in return. They left the office to go in search of Jean and Harry.
“Have a seat, Minister,” Dumbledore said softly.
Scrimgeour sat, looking about nervously. The recent events had unsettled him completely.
Dumbledore leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk. “For just over a month I have been trying to convince Mr. Potter to help us. It's been a slow, painstaking process and I admit I haven't been altogether successful with it. Your actions today have jeopardized that. Whatever possessed you show up here with Aurors, as if you were going to arrest Britain's most wanted criminal?”
Scrimgeour leaned back in his chair. “You know the rules, Albus. Always disarm a sentient, dark creature before you talk with it.”
Dumbledore shook his head. “Well, I'm afraid that wouldn't have worked very well where Mr. Potter is concerned. Forget for the moment what he did to your fully trained Auror without a casting a single spell. Even without his wand, he is quite capable.”
Rufus frowned. “Nevertheless, our offer of training and support still stands,” he replied, standing up.
“I will endeavor to make sure he is aware of that Minister, although I doubt he will take you up on the offer,” Dumbledore countered. He stood up, put his glasses back on, then leaned over his desk, staring at Scrimgeour. “Understand something, Rufus. If you ever come to my school and threaten any of my students in such a way again, you will pay for it,” he concluded quietly. His eyes bore into the Minister's and many of the trinkets and books on the shelves shuddered and rattled as the Headmaster released the restraints on his magic.
Scrimgeour nodded in terror and all but ran for the floo and the haven of the Ministry. Dumbledore watched for a moment before turning to his pensieve. He wanted to examine this incident again, and in particular that strange fading that Harry had been doing.
Jean's Quarters, Hogwarts...
Jean turned and closed the door to her quarters. Wilkins, the man from the Embassy, had caught up with them and given them two portkeys to be used to bring them to the Embassy in case of emergency.
Harry had collapsed on her couch, looking pale and trembling slightly. Frowning, she cast a diagnostic charm that Poppy had taught her on Harry.
She leaned down and smoothed the hair out of his eyes and smiled gently, then she turned and pulled a chair with her telekinesis so she could sit.
“We really need to talk,” Jean said softly. Noting his frown, she sighed. “I'm not mad at you, but it's time you face reality, however much you don't want to.”
“Harry, Voldemort knows what the prophecy says. He might not know the exact wording, but there has been enough information in the press about you being the 'chosen one' that he'd have to be stupid not to figure it out. Do you think Voldemort is stupid?”
He dropped his gaze and shook his head. “No,” he muttered.
“Neither do I. Scott, the Professor and I all believe that, even if you don't want to fight Voldemort, even if you run away to some remote place and never do magic again, Voldemort will come looking for you.”
Harry scowled. “You're just saying that because...”
“I'm saying that because if you don't fight him, he will hunt you down and kill you!” she snapped at him. “I don't want you to fight for these people! They are as bad as you have been saying. But if you aren't willing to fight for yourself, he'll kill you!”
She slid off her chair and knelt in front of him, cupping his face in her hands. “A few months ago I discovered I had a nephew, and then I had a family. I don't want to lose that, Harry. Don't fight for everyone else, but fight for yourself and your family.”
“I don't know, mum. I understand what you're saying and it makes sense, it's just,” he broke off and shrugged helplessly.
His eyes closed tiredly and she brushed the hair from his face again.
“You're tired. Close your eyes and rest.”
She watched him for a few moments longer, then went into the small kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. She glanced over at the sleeping form and smiled. For the first time in several days she felt they had really connected.
A knock at her door distracted her a few minutes later. She placed the cup on her table, then walked over to the door. Seeing Minerva and Poppy, she opened the door wider and motioned for them to be quiet. Poppy walked into the small living room and seeing Harry sleeping, nodded in satisfaction. Jean motioned them to follow her to the small kitchen.
“I'm glad to see he's sleeping,” Poppy said in a hushed tone.
“I'm rather surprised by it myself. It just seemed to hit him hard and down he went,” Jean replied.
Minerva frowned. “Shouldn't he be in the infirmary?”
“Ordinarily, I'd agree with you, Minerva,” Poppy said. “But he's asleep now and he needs to recharge.”
“Recharge?” asked Jean.
Poppy nodded and glanced toward Harry. “That was a bad wound. He lost a lot of blood and even with Fawkes' help it was terribly painful. He used his magic to sustain himself for a while, then I used even more of his magic healing what Fawkes couldn't. It's only natural that he'd be tired after that.”
Minerva flicked her wand in Harry's direction, and the couch he lay on transfigured into a small bed. Jean shot her a grateful glance.
Minerva turned back to Jean after a quieting glance at Poppy.
“Jean, can you explain that strange fading Harry was doing? I'd swear he was transparent.”
Jean grimaced. She'd hoped that, in the excitement of the evening, it would have been overlooked. “This has to remain completely confidential. I mean it. You can't tell anyone, even the Headmaster,” Jean said in a low voice.
Minerva frowned and looked reluctant, but Poppy nodded her agreement. After a moment's hesitation, Minerva nodded as well.
Satisfied, Jean leaned back in his chair. “Harry's a very powerful mutant. As with most powerful mutants, his talent extends over several abilities. One is what we call a legacy talent, which he inherited from Lily, and the other is his primary talent.
“He is a weak empath. He can feel the emotions of people around him. It's how he knew I was withholding information from him. He's also a teleporter.”
Poppy leaned closer. “A teleporter? Do you mean like apparation?”
Jean shook her head. “No, it's not the same, although he holds his license for apparation. What he does with his teleporting is something entirely different. He can travel to anywhere in the world in an instant. The reverse of that is that he can summon an object to him. The fading is part of the process and it's something he can control.”
Jean leaned back on her chair and closed her eyes for a moment. “How did he describe it? Oh, yeah. He said he phased, which is his word for turning transparent, then he tears a hole in the world, which he steps through.”
Poppy rocked back on her chair, stunned.
“He can do that without magic?” asked Minerva incredulously.
Jean nodded. “He can phase without teleporting. And when he does, he's still able to cast spells, but virtually nothing can touch him. During the summer, before I took him from the Dursleys, he was using his ability to keep them from abusing him anymore.
“It's a powerful ability. We ran him through a number of tests during our time in New York. It was important that he understand the limits of his talent. I nearly died when I watched Logan turn a Uzi on him while he was phased.”
Both women stared at Jean with blank looks and she grimaced. “An Uzi. You know, a machine gun? A gun that shoots a lot of bullets very quickly?”
Poppy gasped and Minerva frowned. “Why would anyone do that to Harry?”
“It was part of the training he received this summer. All mutants need to learn the limits of their talents. And knowing what he might face, we felt that he needed to learn to fight under deadly conditions. I couldn't help with that, as I've never been taught how to cast a dangerous curse. The best I could do were tickling charms and stunners,” Jean said with a shrug. “I wasn't happy with it and I'm still not happy with it. But I can see the need to teach him that sort of thing.”
She paused and sipped from her tea. “It was only a few days of training and I bit my nails to the quick while it was going on.”
“Are you saying that when he's 'phased' no spell can touch him?” Poppy asked in astonishment.
“We think so,” Jean replied. “But he's been taught to avoid the Unforgivables anyway.”
McGonagall looked at Harry speculatively. “I think I will speak with him tomorrow.”
“Gently,” cautioned Poppy. “Gently Minerva. Right now he's really stressed.”
“I understand that, Poppy. But he needs to know that at least one of his teachers is willing to stand up and fight for him in this school. I want to make it clear to him that I can help him, if he'll allow it. But I'll make sure that he knows it's his choice to make,” the Professor said quietly.
While in town today, remember to pick up the following;
42 gallons of whip cream
8 pickled herring
1 Four pound bag of M&Ms (all blue, if they don't have, open bags and make one from the opened bags)
1 box of catnip
1 head of lettuce, make sure it never ends up upside down.
Enjoy your day in court, email me if you're not coming home tonight or for the next couple of years. I told you the mailman wouldn't be thrilled with your electrifying the mailbox.
(Looks at the readers angrily) “What? You expect me to answer reviews or something?”
Bob walks away muttering to himself about ungrateful readers and the effects of knuckleer weepans on them.
This story has been marked as suitable for adult readers only.