Hindsight – 2/3 – Izzy Hound

Title: Hindsight
Author: Izzy Hound
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Family, Time Travel
Relationship(s): Gen
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Canon-Level Violence and Attitudes, Swearing, Death – Minor Character, Discussion – Death Eater activity
Author Notes: Thank you PhoenixRising253 and Daisy May for helping me wrangle my story and thanks Penumbria for all the awesome art.
Betas: Daisy May and PhoenixRising253
Word Count: 75,470
Summary: Terrible things happen to wizards who mess with time, that’s what Hermione had said. Harry hadn’t done anything but here they were, the perfectly normal, albeit accidently time travelling, family of number four Privet Drive. Now all Harry needed was a plan…
Artist: penumbria



Chapter Six

“We missed lunch,” Petunia said after they finally made it out of the bank. Harry had paused slightly at the door when he saw a poster advertising a reward for information on the failed thief, but had hurried to catch up with his Aunt who was unwilling to linger in the magical street.

“It’s London mum, I’m sure we can find somewhere to eat,” Dudley said once they were back on the Muggle streets.

“I suppose, something small no need to ruin your appetite for dinner.” They spent the rest of the day exploring the museums in London and trying to keep each other from dwelling on the revelations of the morning and what would be revealed tomorrow.

After a larger than normal dinner they made it back to the B&B and unlike the night before Harry fell asleep quickly without distraction.

The next morning Harry found himself filling Dudley’s role from the day before and offering support to his aunt and cousin. Both were unusually quiet and picked at their breakfast.

With nothing else to do they made their way to the solicitor’s office. As they walked in the door Harry heard the not so dulcet tones of Aunt Marge.

“I had hoped to arrive beforehand,” Petunia muttered as the made their way to the reception desk. “It may be best for you to stay here Harry, no need to make this worse than it will be. Dudley straighten your tie.”

Following his Aunts command Harry settled into a waiting area and picked up a magazine. Flicking through he saw a few recipes he might want to try so decided it was worth a read.

“Hmm. Finally got around to this did you?” Marge’s voice interrupted Harry’s attempt to memorise how to make summer fruit pudding. “Did you bring your bags Dudley?”

“Bags?” his cousin asked sounding bewildered.

“Yes boy, so you can be brought up properly.”

“That wouldn’t be by you,” Aunt Petunia hissed. Harry’s eyebrows raised never having heard such vehemence from his aunt, even directed towards him.

“Ladies, ladies let’s clam down now and go into the office and we will sort this out.” A male voice cajoled the ladies before he heard a door close and nothing more, Harry turned back to his magazine.

***

Harry was startled out of his reading by a slamming door.

“You wretched woman! It was a dark day when my brother married you. I warned him, I cautioned him, but he didn’t listen, too ensnared in your scheming ways. Well this is it, no more shall you bare the gift of my benevolence, Petunia Evans, for I shall not demean my name by sharing it with you. I say farewell you upstart…”

“Ladies please,” the same cajoling voice called out.

“No, I shall not listen to this anymore! That Jezebel who stole my brother, has corrupted his only son.”

“My son,” Petunia hissed.

“Such a waste and now she has taken his money, his name, everything no doubt to squander it on the undeveloped whelp of her sisters which should have been drowned at birth.”

“That is enough Madame,” The male voice chastised sounding horrified.

“Oh, be quiet you foolish man, you have done nothing for me,” Marge bellowed. She then stormed into view before charging into the waiting area and out on to the street not noticing Harry.

“Well then,” the man said.

“I suppose we should tidy the matter up,” Petunia said. “I would rather not have this terrible situation prolonged.”

“Yes, best get everything squared away. Do you need a cup of tea before we continue?” Harry heard before the door was closed again. Harry caught the eye of the receptionist and they exchanged a long look before turning back to their tasks.

About an hour later Dudley and his aunt left the office and after collecting him, headed back to the car without explaining what had happened. They had put their bags in the car after checking out earlier so with no reason to stay in London they headed back to Privet Drive.

When they got back home, they saw a letter on the floor bearing the Hogwarts seal. “Less militant about it this time,” Dudley observed as they looked at the single letter.

“Suppose it’s because they’ve already caught me,” Harry agreed.

“Well go and open it anyway, to stop them from getting ideas. Unpack while you’re at it,” his aunt ordered. Picking up the letter Harry grabbed his bag and headed up to his room.

“What happened?” Harry asked after he finally got Dudley alone that evening.

“Noticed how well it went did you?” Dudley said with a grin.

“Your aunt wasn’t exactly subtle.”

“Nah she wasn’t, but she was seriously pissed off. Thought she would get me and the money only to find out she got nothing.”

“Nothing?” Harry asked eyebrows raised.

“Yep. She apparently spent years telling dad how she was a strong independent woman and didn’t need a man to support her. So, he left her nothing not wanting to insult her.”

“Shot herself in the foot there.”

“Really did. Dad left most of it to me, but he gave plenty to mum. She doesn’t need to work which is a relief, and the house and car are all paid for so it’s a huge weight of for us too.”

“That’s great,” Harry said with relief. Otherwise he’d have given his Aunt the money she was entitled to from his parents will even if she’d protested.

“Yeah, Marge was furious and swore she would never speak to me again if I didn’t leave with her or contest the will. I refused and she all but disowned me.”

“Damn Dudley. Can she contest?”

“Nope. She’s not that well off so can’t afford the risk. She’s got a bit of a reputation as a puppy farmer and people aren’t buying dogs from her, so the only income is from what Grandad left her.”

“So, she’s gone?” Harry asked.

“Yep, bit of a relief, she and mum didn’t get on. Plus, she wouldn’t take magic well. Probably worse than dad did.”

“You alright?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, she wasn’t much of family anyway,” Dudley said with a shrug even if he looked a bit sad as he said it.

***

Privet Drive somehow found out that Petunia and Dudley inherited everything, and they had to put up with a series of visits and whispers about Petunia being an heiress. Harry wasn’t sure if she enjoyed these rumours or was infuriated by them.

However, these rumours were soon replaced with the fact that the boys were going to an elite boarding school. Where these rumours sprung from was a matter of debate for the boys. Dudley thought it was Marge, but Harry wasn’t so sure. He thought Petunia and Figg played a part in things.

The culmination in these rumours, was Dudley being invited over to play with Piers once again. Things hadn’t gone any better. Issues over the last second change in schools, were blamed along the with loss of Vernon.

Dudley however, confessed later than night to Harry that he still couldn’t connect to the much younger boy. Harry had tried to point out that Piers was particularly young for his age and Dudley had a lot going on. But deep-down Harry was worried, would he manage to make friends?

With no more play dates for Dudley and Harry never getting any invites the boys spent the rest of their summer learning about magic and the Potters. While it turned out the sacred twenty-eight was blood purist historical revisionism his family was an old one. What’s more, they had always been known to fight for magic. Not the light, or the dark, but for magic. That was something that Harry thought he could stand by.

***

Aunt Petunia had been thrilled to accept the challenge of destroying the bones of Riddle senior. Harry hadn’t been able to tell her the exact location of the grave so he had drawn some maps and pictures from what he could remember. Hopefully it would be enough for her and if not, she knew to go after all graves with a surname Riddle. It was after all best to be thorough.

“We’ll write to you every week,” Dudley promised his mother as she was once again driving them to London, this time to Kings Cross Station.

“I expect nothing less,” Petunia answered, it appeared she had grown to accept their magic and wasn’t as hostile to Dudley as she had been at the start. The promise to keep in contact was no doubt a relief to her.

“Things should be busy for a few days after we reveal the rat, Quirrellmort will likely keep his head down so it may be best to act this term and in daylight.”

“I’m sure you will let me know if things don’t go to plan,” Petunia said. “Your owl takes a few hours to deliver letters, yes. Then I expect an update tonight from you to read tomorrow morning.”

“Yes Aunt.”

“Don’t let them draw you in too far that they suffocate you. You’re good boys, both of you and magic has taken a lot from you don’t forget that,” she ordered as they pulled up to the station.

She helped them unload their luggage and gave Harry a brief embrace before giving a longer one to Dudley.

“I shan’t stay with you, it would no doubt ruin your plans. If you change your mind I’ll be here till after eleven and the train departs. Be good and be brave boys.” She kissed Dudley’s head and walked back to the car. With a back as straight as his mother’s Dudley pushed the cart into the station, Harry followed behind.

They were early. It was half ten and with a familiar eye, Harry could see a few wizards moving through the crowd. He even recognised a few and got that same kick in the gut feeling. They wouldn’t recognise him as Harry, but as the Boy-Who-Lived.

Hedwig cooed at him and hopped onto his shoulder to nibble his ear gently. “It’s alright girl, not too long now; you know what to do?” She butted her head into his. “Okay you’re a clever girl I know.” Hedwig was still covered by the Muggle obscuring spell, it made it much easier to travel with her free.

“Think she’ll manage?” Dudley asked watching the pair of them.

“Yeah,” Harry said, he just hoped that everybody else was in place.

“Good. You might want to tone down the manic look though. We’re going for innocent elven year olds not revenge driven maniacs.” Dudley said as they meandered through the station.

“It’s just…” Harry sighed.

“It’s just you’re about to get revenge for your parents and Cedric even if he’s not dead yet. I know, but you’ll give us away if you don’t tone it down,” Dudley chastised quietly.

“Yeah, I know,” Harry said trying to look lost.

“Got your ring on?” Dudley checked.

“Yeah. My mind is nice and secure no leaking secrets here. What about you?”

“The bracelet thing from the bank works I guess. I mean I think it does, it’s not like anybody has confirmed they’ve been trying to read my mind and asked why they can’t.” Harry snorted at Dudley’s comment and looked around for any sign of the Weasleys.

“Try to look lost, as well” Dudley gave Harry a bemused look. “Just like that,” Harry praised. Ten minutes of careful wandering passed before he could hear Molly Weasley interrogating her children.

“Is that them?” Dudley asked. “What about the statute of secrecy?”

“Dunno maybe she has an exception to round up all the lost Muggle-born students. Dumbledore’s a family friend he probably gets them off if they’re reported.”

“She does it every year?”

“I only remember her doing it this year maybe there’s a roster,” Harry suggested.

“Or you’re being naive again,” Dudley pointed out.

“Shut up Dudley. Dumbledore’s been told we know how to get to the platform,” Harry hissed as the Weasley family drew closer. Putting on his best confused look he walked towards them. “Err hello,” his mouth went dry from nerves and anticipation.

“Ah hello son,” Mrs Weasley’s eyes flicked up to his forehead, but his fringe covered any scar she was looking for. “What a fine owl, are you looking for the platform?” She gave him a knowing look.

“Err, yeah, my cousin and I,” he pointed at Dudley who wandered over to join them pushing the cart.

“Lovely first years, are you? So’s my Ronald,” she pointed at Ron who was standing a bit behind her, his shirt pocket bulged and wiggled slightly. Harry grinned sharply at the boy who flushed in embarrassment at being singled out. “I’m sure you will get on. But first the train, which platform is it again Ginny?”

“Nine and Three quarters,” Ginny called out, smaller than Harry remembered her being.

“Good girl. Now it’s slightly unnerving if you’re not used to it so it’s’ best to do it at run if you’re worried. Percy you’re a prefect why don’t you go first and show them how it’s done.” Percy as pompous as Harry remembered pushed his trolley forward and ran through the pillar, Dudley beside him flinched in anticipation of a collision.

We’ll go next,” the twins said, breaking from the way they had joked last time but not the pattern they crossed through to the platform. Not overly worried Harry took control of their cart and steered Dudley towards the column.

“Don’t worry boys it will be fine,” Mrs Weasley reassured them as they ran at the wall.

The platform was as Harry remembered it busy and crowed, with the red robes of Aurors dotted through the crowd, which he hadn’t noticed before. Excellent, their presence would help. He followed behind the twins thankful that their height and hair colour made them stand out in the crowd.

Like before the twins helped him load his luggage and Dudley’s too before they again headed off. Rather than stay on the train like Harry had before both boys got off and headed towards the Weasley matriarch where she stood trying to wipe dirt off Ron’s nose. Harry glanced at the clock ten to the hour plenty of time. The pair of them approached the Weasleys.

“Hello boys all sorted?” Mrs Weasley asked when she saw them.

“Yes, thank you for helping us through the barrier, your sons, helped us get stowed away too,” Harry said feeling overly polite to the woman.

“Oh, it was no problem boys, and I’m glad my sons helped you out, they can be good boys.” She gave the twins an arch look and propped a fist on her hips, the twins gave back looks of utter innocence. “As I said Percy’s a prefect, he’ll be there to help you out at school.”

“It’s my duty as a prefect mum,” Percy agreed solemnly while his siblings rolled their eyes.

“That’s great, will it matter if we end up in different houses?” Harry asked as earnestly as he could. At the word houses Hedwig took her que and few for the lump on Ron’s chest talons out stretched. Ripping the shirt, she snagged the sleeping rat and flew above the crowd.

“My rat. My rat, your owls, stolen my rat,” Ron shouted and jumped up to try and reach the creatures far above their heads.

“Well fuck,” one of the twins said.

“George language,” reprimanded Mrs Weasley who was trying to calm Ron while Ginny pulled on her sleeve asking what was going on.

The commotion was drawing attention and people on the platform and train were pointing, Harry was struggled to hide a grin until Dudley stomped on his foot.

“Hedwig,” Harry shouted, once again she took it as her que, and she lifted the struggling rat towards her beak.

“Scabbers, Scabbers,” Ron was shouting reaching towards the sky.

A beam of light shot through the sky and Hedwig dodged it. Harry threw a glare in the direction of where the spell had come from and hoped nobody else had the cunning idea of trying to stun his owl.

Hedwig let out a screech as the rat she was holding morphed and turned into a short dumpy man. She released him and swiped at him with her claws snagging his sleeve as he fell before flying up once more when Pettigrew hit the platform with a muffled groan. Hedwig’s attack was unplanned, but Harry didn’t care, the bastard deserved a bit of pain.

A stunned silence fell with Pettigrew, even the Auror who had been making their way toward their disturbance seemed unsure of what to do.

“Death Eater!” A woman screamed breaking the silence. “The dark mark, look he’s marked!”

Panic filled the platform. Children were shoved away from the commotion some towards the train others to the exits. Some adults tried to run away while others stood and fought each other firing off spells into the panicking crowd.

An Auror released a bang trying to regain control but only caused more chaos.

Harry was grabbed under the arms and pulled backwards, his legs hitting the step on to the train. Before he could orientate himself, he was pushed into a compartment, Dudley was shoved in just behind him. Older students stood wands out in the corridor.

Harry had been rescued. Somebody older than him had stepped up, Harry hadn’t been expected to do it all alone. Harry shook his head unbelieving that already things were shaping up better than they had the first time.

“See any more firsties?” one of their rescuers, a Ravenclaw by his robes, asked as he scanned the crowd from his vantage point in the carriage.

“Might be a bit hard to tell with some if they’re old enough to come, but Merlin knows they’ll be safer on here than on the platform. They can be returned to their parents later.”

“Good point, I’ll go and check for some more,” the first guy said leaving the compartment.

Harry looked around he was on the floor of the carriage with Dudley, Dean and Anthony and a little girl who Harry was sure started next year.

“I’m Luna, my Daddy was here for the newspaper,” She said when she saw Harry staring at her.

“Oh,” Harry answered.

“Mmh, he’s the editor of the Quibbler and the owner. I came because there’s nobody to look after me since mummy died.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry offered.

“I know. I’m sorry about the passing of your parents,” she turned to Dudley, “and your father.”

“Err thanks,” Dudley muttered look unnerved that the girl knew about Vernon’s death.

“It was your owl,” Luna stated looking back at Harry.

“Yes.” The other boys in the carriage looked at him curiously.

“Ah a familiar is it, they can sense a threat and a Death Eater is…” he trailed off looking concerned. Another person was pushed into their compartment.

The new boy looked around “I say good to see you Anthony.”

“Ernie,” Anthony said in greeting. “You okay?”

“Yeah utter chaos out there something about a Death Eater attack, spells flying everywhere. Rather terrifying really, not what I was expecting, when Mum said she’d see me off with a bang this morning.” They could hear the sounds of panic out on the platform.

“Disguised as a rat from what I heard. This, chaps familiar, well ratted him out as it were,” Anthony explained pointing at Harry.

“Well good on you. To think the bugger could have made it on to the train.”

“Umm, what’s a Death Eater?” Dean asked interrupting the moment of shared horror between the rest of the compartment.

“Muggle-born, are you?” Ernie asked. “Well Death Eaters are the follows of You-Know-Who a terrible terrorist we had a few years back, not all of them were caught and they like to cause trouble from time to time,” He continued without letting Dean answer.

“Well damn,” Dean muttered.

“Exactly my good man,” Ernie said clapping Dean on the shoulder. “Exactly.”

“Could I have an interview,” Luna asked interrupting their moment.

“Umm, maybe,” Harry hedged, he’d never heard of the Quibbler, but it couldn’t be much worse than the Prophet. “I may not be allowed to until the Aurors get their questions out the way. I mean I think they might have some questions for me, honestly, I don’t know.”

“Good point. They probably will, no need to complicate the matter for them by talking to the press first. It sounds bad enough as it is,” Anthony agreed.

“But afterwards, when it’s all sorted you can have my first interview,” Harry promised the girl who looked so very lonely. “We can be quill friends too.”

“Really, thank you,” she smiled at him before giving him a hug.

“Capital,” Ernie exclaimed clapping his hands together. “We’ll all write,” he vowed.

A whistle cut through all the noise on the platform and brought silence to their compartment.

“The Death Eater has been arrested,” an enhanced female voice announced before chaos could descend again. “Please get your children on the train we have two minutes. The Express cannot be delayed. If I see you with a wand in your hand, you will also be arrested.”

There were frantic sounds from the platform once again but no screaming this time.

“Madame Bones, Head of the DMLE,” Anthony said knowledgably.

“Department of Magical Law Enforcement,” Ernie added for Dean’s benefit.

“She got here quick,” Dudley muttered.

“Nah she’s here dropping off Susan, her niece,” Ernie replied

“Do you think I should get off?” Luna asked.

Dudley put his head above the panelling and looked out of the window. “Wouldn’t risk it; they’re packed trying to get on not sure you’d make it against the stream,” came Dudley’s assessment.

“Oh well how exciting I’ve never been on a train before.”

“We’ll look after you,” Ernie promised her. Harry got the feeling Ernie always committed himself fully into what he believed, hopefully this time there would be less thinking Harry was a cheating evil liar.

The whistle sounded again. The train jolted and they were off to Hogwarts. It was a lot more satisfying this time than the first. Pettigrew was publicly revealed to be alive and a Death Eater. There was no way they could cover this up and Harry was not being looked at as saviour but just another student. Albeit one who’s owl was involved in revealing said Death Eater.

“Think it’s safe to sit on the seats yet?” Dudley asked.

“I think so, much more comfortable than the floor for one thing.” Ernie pulled himself onto the seat and brushed himself off, “looks fine.” The rest of them got onto the seats, Harry gallantly offering Luna his hand.

“Well I’m Ernie Macmillan. My Dad said you make friends on the train, but not sure he meant it like this, oh well.” He stuck his hand out for Dudley to shake.

Harry remembered Draco doing the same thing on the train and Harry rejecting him. He now knew what an insult that had been to the blond, it was strange to think that if he’d accepted the offer things wouldn’t have been as bad between them.

“Dudley Dursley,” his cousin said accepting the hand shake.

“Dursley doesn’t ring any bells, Muggle-born?” Ernie asked.

“Err sort off, my aunt was a Muggle-born and my cousin,” he pointed at Harry,” is a Half-blood.”

“Welcome to the fold then,” Ernie said before holding his hand out to Harry.

“Harry Potter,” Harry said. He saw the moment of realisation dawn on their faces.

“Oh, I say.” Ernie mumbled. “Not a surprise it was your owl really thinking about it. Guess we owe you one more then.” Harry let go of Ernie’s hand and watched the boy greet Luna and then shake hands with Dean.

“No need to shake yours Anthony, we’ve shared a playroom for years,” Ernie laughed.

“Dudley was it?” Anthony asked then proceeded to introduce himself to them all.

Harry was honestly impressed with how well they were coping with his presence. They hadn’t asked to see his scar or made too much of a big deal. He got the feeling Luna had already known who he was somehow and Dean as a Muggle-born wasn’t inducted into the Harry Potter mythos. But Anthony and Ernie both from light families were raised with those awful stories they’d found in the bookshop, there would appear be something to say in favour of manners.

 

“Do you know about the houses?” Ernie asked unable to let a moment sit awkwardly.

“Err sort of,” Dean answered.

“Well, let me explain,” Ernie offered. “The houses are like your, family they are where you sleep and who you study, eat and compete with. There are four in Hogwarts, each named for the founders of the school. Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor.”

“They’re like your family because they’re based on the magical houses of society and are intended to instil respect of the family and the system into you,” Anthony interjected.

“Really? I didn’t know that,” Ernie replied. “They honour different traits, just like the great magical houses I suppose. Ravenclaw is for those who seek knowledge, like Anthony here.”

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,” Luna sang.

“Exactly and it would seem likely Luna shall join him there next year. Now the next house is Hufflepuff where it is likely I shall go, bit of a family tradition. Then there is Gryffindor for the brave likely where Harry shall be headed to,” Harry smiled at that. “And Slytherin is for the ambitious.”

“That’s cool.” Dean said. “The books were a bit vague on how you get into them though.”

“Ahh that is a mystery to us all,” Ernie sighed. Luna gave Harry a peculiar look which he couldn’t translate.

“So, we could end up anywhere?” Dean asked, “You seemed so sure earlier.”

“Well certain people show traits early,” Ernie tried to explain.

“Nature versus nurture, raise a child in a Hufflepuff family and they take on Hufflepuff values and often end up in Hufflepuff, though not all mind,” Anthony took over the explanation.

“I suppose we have all got traits from all the houses. The sorting just picks the one which is strongest tonight,” Harry added.

“Good point,” Anthony said giving Harry a considering look. “That could explain why so many sort into family traditional houses.”

“First night away from home and looking for a connection,” Harry finished the argument.

“Which means the only true sorting’s are the Muggle raised as they don’t come in with any expectations,” Anthony added.

“But we do,” Dudley threw in his sixpence worth. “We get visits from the heads of houses. And leaflets telling us about the magical world.”

“That’s true,” Dean chimed in, “Professor McGonagall told me all about Hogwarts and Gryffindor when she visited.”

“She’s the head of Gryffindor house.” Ernie pointed out he gave Dean a scrutinising look. “Do you fancy going to Gryffindor?”

“Yeah. It sort of sounded good,” Dean replied blushing slightly.

“We got Sprout and I have to say Hufflepuff sounds good too,” Dudley added, and Harry nodded his head in confirmation.

“Hmm. This is fascinating it would appear that the heads of the houses are recruiting amongst the Muggle-born,” Anthony said looking animated and gesturing with his hands as he spoke.

“I’ve heard Snape doesn’t do the home visits,” Ernie pointed out.

“And there are no Muggle-born Slytherin. I am seeing a correlation. We’ll have to do a survey amongst the years to see who visited and where they sorted. This could fundamentally change the way the house system is viewed.”

Anthony, very excited now, was rummaging in his pockets looking for paper and pencil to jot down his theories. Luna passed him a self-inking quill when she saw his difficulty.

“I do hope my luggage made it on board or it will be decidedly difficult tomorrow morning,” Ernie commented seeing the difficulty his friend was having. “I heard we had to wear formal robes for sorting, not sure how they’ll manage.”

The compartment door opened before they could start worrying about their luggage. A couple of older years stuck their heads in, one Harry was certain was behind their rescue.

“Here you go Gordon.” The Ravenclaw from early slapped the shoulder of the other Ravenclaw in the doorway who Harry saw was wearing the head boy badge. “All the firsties and younger that Jane, Micha and I found.”

“Right, I’m Seth Gordon head boy. We’re doing a register finding out who we’ve got and who needs to end up where.”

“Wasn’t it your owl kid?” a Gryffindor prefect asked when he saw Harry.

“Err yeah. Do you know if she’s alright?” Harry had told Hedwig to get clear once Pettigrew was exposed but with his rescue and all the chaos, he wasn’t sure where she was. he’d been looking out the window but hadn’t caught a glimpse of her. Although he had to admit it was a long shot considering the speed of the train, how Pidgwidgion managed was a mystery.

“Think she flew off when spells started flying, she’s probably on the way to Hogwarts.” The prefect who Harry though was called Lance Simmons reassured.

“Oh good,” Harry relaxed into his seat.

“Well then names and then kid you come with me,” Gordon ordered taking back control of the situation.

“He’s not in trouble, is he? My dad has a law firm he’ll help you out,” Ernie offered Harry.

“Woah calm down kid. He’s not in trouble, the DMLE want everyone involved to give a statement to the Auror, we’ve got one on board doing interviews.”

“It’s been over half an hour since we left though, why the delay?” Anthony asked.

“Cause’ it’s chaos and were still trying to figure out who made it onboard. Let alone who is needed for statements.”

“Why did we leave when we did then? Why not wait and sort it out at the station?”

“Muggle-born?” Dean nodded. “We can’t delay the train, the amount of spell work and scheduling to get us to Hogwarts hidden, is a logistical nightmare, the train needs to go when it does, or it can’t go at all,” Gordon answered.

“But it’s a train Muggles have trains too,” Dudley pointed out.

“It’s more to do with protection of the children than concealment from Muggles. A whole generation of magical children in one place is going to be protected at all costs, kids. Now names.” He brandished a scroll at them.

“Dean Thomas.”

“Got you.” Gordon said crossing the name off.

“Anthony Goldstein.”

“Ernie Macmillan.” Both were similarly crossed off.

“Luna Lovegood. I’m not old enough for Hogwarts.”

“Sure thing. We’ll let you off at Hogsmeade and a Ministry rep will take you to St Mungo’s where you’ll get a check-up and returned to your parent or guardian, they’ll be informed you’re safe before then so no worries.”

“Thank you,” she inclined her head regally.

“Dudley Dursley.”

“Yep,” Gordon said crossing him off.

“Can I go with you, it’s just he’s my cousin,” Dudley pointed at Harry as he said this.

“Sure, probably save time going with your cousin.” He gave Harry a look.

“Harry Potter.”

“Well damn.”

“Scott, don’t swear in front of the kids.” Gordon muttered giving Harry a slightly wide-eyed look.

“But I totally dragged Potter on to a train after he revealed a Death Eater. That is so cool.” Scott their saviour waved at him and Harry waved back. “Ha, Micha and Jane will never believe it.”

“We’ll before you tell them why don’t you get the kid and his cousin to the Auror. So, they don’t get mobbed by fans on the way there,” Gordon said striking through Harrys name.

“Sure, come on you two,” Scott said.

“Can we come back?” Dudley asked looking at the other occupants.

“Shouldn’t take too long. So maybe,” replied Gordon already moving out of the doorway and heading to the next compartment.

“Well it was great meeting you and hopefully we will be back but if not see you at the sorting,” Harry said to the others getting up. “Luna I will write when things get sorted out.” She gave him a blinding smile and then he followed Scott out the compartment.

“Err thanks for the help on the platform.” Harry said after they had walked down the carriage a little bit.

“Sure, thing kid. No way we were leaving any of you in that mess. Though I think we owe you a hell of a lot more thanks.” Harry ducked his head and blushed slightly; people didn’t normally thank him for his actions or those of his parents.

“Yeah…” he trailed off unsure what to say.

“So, I didn’t know you had a cousin?”

“I’m on his mum’s side,” Dudley answered.

“Lily Potter’s. Huh she was a great witch, our head of house, Flitwick was her mentor in charms he mentions her from time to time.” Harry perked up he hadn’t known that last time; although he hadn’t had much to do with Flitwick outside of class, much like Sprout. How much had he missed out on knowing?

“Well we’re here.” Scott pointed them into the dining car where Harry could see an adult in red robes at one end a cluster of children sitting on the benches. The Weasleys were sitting together, Ginny was in the middle of the group. “See you round then,” Scott waved as he walked off.

“Suppose there’s nothing for it,” Harry said as he walked into the carriage.


Chapter Seven

All the children turned to look at them as they walked in before an older Hufflepuff wearing the head girl badge came over to them. “Gordon sent you?” Harry nodded. “Great I’m Lucy, the head girl, come and sit here and wait your turn, afterwards you can head back to your seats or stay here.”

“Thanks,” Harry muttered.

“You boys want anything? Madame Walker has opened up the snack trolley early because of everything. Tea, pumpkin juice?”

“Maybe a gillywater and some chocolate,” Harry said fishing out a few knuts.

“Great you sit there, and I’ll get it for you. She took the money and headed over to the bar area.

“Why’d you do that?” Dudley asked.” I don’t think I could eat anything.”

“Something to hold on to and you know do, rather than sit in awkward silence,” Harry whispered back. The atmosphere was heavy in the area despite Lucy’s attempts at cheerfulness and Harry could hear the occasional sniffle.

“Thanks,” Harry said when he got back the water and sweets. “Can we talk?”

“Sure, but not about what happened,” Lucy replied with a smile.

“Okay,” they agreed, and she walked off and put her arm around a distressed girl who looked far too young for the train ride.

“Don’t,” Dudley warned.

“What,” Harry asked looking startled.

“Don’t feel guilty for this. It’s not your fault the adults panicked. No Death Eater intent on resurrecting his master hidden in the school is better than a few sacred kids.”

“I guess. I just didn’t expect everyone to be so wand happy; normally they just run away and let me deal with it.”

“That was then, and you heard Gordon they are super protective of all the kids in one place.”

“Apart from at Hogwarts,” Harry muttered.

“Maybe but just think about Sirius, this will do great things for his cause, just watch what you say to the Auror guy. You said they were seriously intense.”

“I think that was just Moody and it wasn’t even him but a Death Eater.”

“Merlin the schools got a serious problem with those whack jobs.”

“Yep,” Harry agreed.

“Still try to keep your cool and don’t try to know too much. Why can’t we hear what’s being said?”

“Silencing charm, I think. But more complicated than what we use for blocking snoring.”

The guy sitting with the Auror stood up and Harry realised it was Oliver Wood. Oliver looked around and then went and sat with the Weasleys putting his hand on Percy’s shoulder. Percy looked a mess, all his self-confidence from earlier gone and he seemed much younger than Harry had ever seen him.

“He’s the same age as us,” Harry murmured to Dudley. “Percy that is. He was always older and now we’re about the same age and its really fucking with me. We’re peers in a way.”

“He’s sheltered though,” Dudley pointed out.

“But responsible for his family. Looks like he’s blaming himself,” Harry whispered.

“Then make it better for him. Like we are for us and Sirius. Let’s help him too and his brother,” Dudley stated simply.

“Yeah, we can do that.” Another kid had been called up to talk while they were watching the Weasleys and they were next in line.

“You want to go first?” Dudley asked him after fiddling with the bottle for a while.

“Maybe, I mean it might take a while, you be alright sitting alone.”

“Yeah. I’m sure Lucy will keep me company or somebody else will turn up,” Dudley said with a shrug. Harry had to wonder when Dudley became a voice of wisdom.

“Hey guys one of you want to come with me.” The desk was free the other boy walked past them on his way back to the rest of the train and Harry followed Lucy to the Auror.

As he walked through the silencing ward even the background noise of the train was cancelled out and Harry nearly stumbled at the sudden silence.

“Sit down kid. You’ll get use to the silence in bit. I’m Kingsley Shacklebolt an Auror. This is a Ministry grade recording quill it’ll take down what we say.

Okay,” Harry nodded looking clueless, and getting a sympathetic smile.

“First off name and age.” The quill ran across the page writing down what was said, unlike Skeeter’s quills which happily embellished anything said and even the silences.

“Harry Potter, I’m eleven. Do you need my date of birth?” Kingsley gave him a quick glance.

“I think it’s well known, but for the records sake yes please.”

“Oh well, the 31st of July nineteen eighty,” Harry said with a slight blush.

“Your purpose for being at the platform this morning?” Shacklebolt asked although he likely knew the answer.

“I was catching the train to Hogwarts, with my cousin.”

“And how did you get there?”

“My aunt drove us, she’s a Muggle so dropped us off and we tried to get to the platform but got a bit confused. There was a lady talking about platform nine and three quarters, so we headed over and she and her sons helped us get through the barrier.”

“Right, did you get that ladies name?”

“No sir.” Harry said shaking his head. He didn’t particularly want Molly in trouble for breaking the statute, but Shacklebolt would probably figure it out from what the Weasley’s said. Harry was happy to delegate that thorny issue to somebody else.

“That’s fine. What can you tell me about the incident on the platform?”

“When we got to the train her sons helped us get our trunks on board, so my cousin and I checked the time and there was plenty of time to go over and say thank you for their help. When we got over Hedwig, she’s my owl, launched herself at the boy, Ronald I think it was. I was really confused because she’s never done that before which was partly why she wasn’t in a cage. She flew up with a rat in her claws and tried to eat it, the man in the shop said her natural magic would mean she wouldn’t eat pets. Plus, I fed her before we left because I didn’t know how long the sorting would take.”

Harry took a sip of his gillywater. “Err you probably did need that bit.”

“It’s fine keep going son,” Kingsley said with a small smile even as the quill wrote it down. Oh, well it would make him look human and more his age.

“Right, so Hedwig was trying to eat the rat and the boy was upset, which I totally understand, and everybody was staring. And I tried to call her back, but she was startled by flash of light, a spell, I think. Then the rat turned into a man. I don’t know how, and she dropped him and maybe she tried to catch him, but she couldn’t, and she flew off. Do you know if she’s alright?”

“We believe she’s fine. Did you see the man?”

“No, who was he?” Harry asked before remembering he was the one being questioned and flushed slightly.

“We’re still investigating” Shacklebolt answered to Harry’s surprise, although it was unlikely he knew considering he was on the train along with them. “What happened next?”

“My cousin and I got pushed about in the confusion and then somebody screamed about a Death Eater and spells were flying everywhere. Then we were grabbed and pulled onto a train compartment by a guy called Scott in Ravenclaw. I think. We heard screaming and then somebody getting the situation under control. A woman she used the silence from the whistle. I didn’t see anything as I was sitting on the floor with the others in the compartment who were all rescued too.”

“That’s fine had you met the boy before? The one with the rat.” Kingsley clarified.

“Harry shook his head. “Err no I should say that aloud for the quill. No, I hadn’t seen them before. What happened?”

“We’re looking into it. Can you think of anything else?”

“No sir. Am I in trouble?” Harry asked.

“No son you’re not.”

“Is Hedwig?”

“No, although when she turns up it would be great if you get in contact, your head of house can sort it out.”

“Yes sir, is that everything?”

“Yes. Your cousin can come in next.” Shacklebolt said using his wand to stop the quill and cast a spell on the parchment which shimmered and then rolled itself up. He placed it into a bag beside him.

Harry got up and walked back to Dudley, he noticed Susan Bones had turned up too. That would be an interesting interview, considering her aunt was Shaklebolt’s boss. Passing through the ward once again caused him to stumble this time due to the onslaught of noise.

Lucy touched his arm and led him over to the other side of the carriage near to the Weasleys. Before she headed over to Dudley.

“You alright mate?” one of the twins asked as Harry sat down on an empty seat nearby them.

“Why you asking him? It’s all his fault,” snapped Ron. Ginny started to sniff in her brothers’ arms.

“That’s enough Ron,” Percy rounded on his brother looking more alive than he had since Harry had seen him again. “It’s not this boys’ fault, he and his owl saved us from a Death Eater. That monster was so close to us. We should thank him for revealing the situation.”

“He could have been in on it,” Ron sullenly muttered.

“Of course not, he’s bloody Harry Potter,” The closest twin to him said. Ron gaped at him, Percy went paler and Ginny burst into tears. Harry shuffled his feet awkwardly unsure what to do, Ron hadn’t been entirely wrong by suggesting it was his fault.

“Any good at quidditch?” Oliver asked and Harry started to giggle slightly hysterically.

“Really, Wood, this is not the time and you don’t know where he will sort,” Percy began to chastise Wood who was smiling at the response.

“I dunno, never played a game,” Harry answered.

“You’ll love it, it’s the best sport,” Oliver said over a sighing Percy. “Oliver Wood captain of Gryffindor team.” He held out his hand and Harry leant over to shake it.

“Hi.”

“This is Percy Weasley fifth year Gryffindor prefect,” Oliver said patting Percy on the shoulder. “If you need anything ask us. Though for security, I recommend these two,” he pointed at the twins. “Best pair of beaters I’ve ever seen; can keep anything away from you.”

“Thanks, Oliver, but I think little Harry’s all sorted on that front,” started the closest twin.

“What with that owl of his. But we’re willing to be back up, if she needs a day off,” the other twin concluded.

“Good to know,” Harry grinned at them, reminded of their efforts during the chamber of secrets debacle.

“Do you have the scar?” Ron interrupted.

“Ron,” Percy hissed, “What did mum say?”

“Not to make a fuss over him. But how do we know it’s him, I mean he could be lying to us to hide his involvement in everything,” Ron muttered.

“Merlin, did mum let Mad Eye babysit him? Why else is he jumping at shadows and seeing dark wizards everywhere.” One of the twins, who Harry was beginning to think was George sighed.

“No but, it’s suspicious,” Ron retorted.

“What is suspicious is the fact that a common garden rat lived eleven years. It’s not Harry’s fault. If anything, it’s mine for not noticing,” Percy lamented looking utterly devastated once more.

“Come on Percy, it’s not your fault, and what about your parents? Or Dumbledore, they’ve all seen the rat and all the other adults who missed it,” Oliver said nudging Percy with his shoulder.

“It’s my fault too for being Harry Potter, and apparently all the terrible stuff which go with it,” Harry tried to console.

“Absolutely not, you’re a kid and you have lost enough. It’s not your fault, and I won’t hear any more about such nonsense,” Percy declared giving them all a fierce look.

“Then why can you blame yourself Percy?” Wood questioned.

“Because I’m the oldest,” Percy said with some of his old dignity.

“And Dumbledore is way older,” most likely Fred pointed out. “It’s none of our faults.”

“Exactly,” his twin declared. Ron gave Harry a slightly shame faced look and a mumbled apology.

“He could have swapped in recently,” Harry pointed out trying to make things better for the Weasleys. He didn’t actually know when Pettigrew became Scabbers or even if he’d bumped of the original Scabbers and assumed his identity.

“Thank you, Harry. But no doubt the truth will come out at the trial,” Percy answered.

“Will there be a trial?” Ginny sniffed. “Will Daddy get in trouble?”

“No,” Oliver said. “Well yes. That is there will be a trial and I doubt your Dad will get in trouble. I mean so many other adults missed it too they’d have to penalise too many notable adults for it to be a good idea to go after your dad.”

“Well that’s something,” George said although Harry noticed Percy was still looking distressed.

“I’m not sure we should be thankful for such self-serving behaviour in our judiciary system George,” Percy replied. “Even if it’s of benefit to us.”

“Hey Harry,” Dudley said arriving at his shoulder.

“Hi Dud, these are the Weasleys, and Oliver Wood,” Harrys said waving towards them and making sure he didn’t give away he knew all their names.

“I’m Oliver the none ginger over here,” Wood said with a wave. “You all done?”

“Yeah I think so. Didn’t feel like I helped much though.”

“Don’t think any of us did, it was so out of the blue and over so fast,” Wood said shaking his head.

“Didn’t know Potter had a cousin,” Ron said beginning to look suspicious again.

“I’m on his mum’s side, the Muggle bit,” Dudley said. “Noticed they don’t mention her much in any of the books let alone her family.”

“Biased bastards,” Wood muttered.

“Oliver do not swear you have a position of responsibility, you have an example to set,” Percy frowned looking more like his old self if you ignored the conflicted look in his eyes. “It’s great to meet you.”

“You too despite, well everything,” Dudley said looking awkward.

“Err well we’ll see you later then,” Harry said. It was probably in their best interests to leave before they set Ron off again.

“You sure? You can stay here,” Percy offered.

“It’s fine. Better go see if we can find our luggage,” Harry evaded before following his cousin back into the rest of the train and back to the waiting first year boys and Luna.

***

Unlike the first time Harry didn’t bother changing into his robes, instead he was thankful that he had dressed well. The normal announcement came telling them to leave luggage behind to laughter from most of them as they didn’t know where it was to begin with.

Soon the train rolled to a stop. The platform was already busy with more Aurors and some adults in formal looking robes.

“Looks like they’re taking precautions,” observed Anthony as they watched the patrols.

“They kind of had to after what happened earlier. Bet the Minister’s been getting howlers all day,” Ernie added.

They got out the carriage, Dudley lifting Luna over the gap. Harry quickly realised they weren’t the only ones to forgo their uniforms.

“First years over here,” Harry heard Hagrid call.

“Underage children this way, that’s it dears,” A female voice called out.

“Come on Luna, we’ll drop you of on the way,” Harry said grabbing her hand, so she didn’t get lost in the crowd. They made it over to the lady easily, the platform quickly emptying of older years unwilling to linger, and found her with a scroll and some accompanying Aurors.

“Not for Hogwarts?” she asked as she saw them approach.

“Just me, they’re keeping me safe” Luna said twirling her skirt.

“Lovely, thank you gentlemen, what’s your name dear?” she said taking Luna’s arm and leading her to the side where several other young children stood. Luna turned and gave them a little wave. They waved back.

“Well then, suppose it’s our turn,” Ernie said rubbing his hands together.

Hagrid was just as Harry recalled but he didn’t greet Harry personally this time not having met him. Instead the boys grouped together with the other first years waiting till the platform was clear of the last few older students.

“That them all?” Hagrid asked an Auror.

“Looks like. Best get them on their way no need to keep them out in the open.”

“Right then this way you’ll get your first look in a moment. Onto the jetty with you and four to a boat, quick now,” Hagrid directed from the back of the group, his pink umbrella gripped tightly in his hand.

Harry climbed into a boat with Dudley, Dean and girl called Mandy who Harry hadn’t had much to do with before, he smiled at her anyway. The boats jolted and they were off.

“Mind your heads,” Hagrid called despite being the only one who needed to duck for the opening. Then in front of them was Hogwarts lit up from within and more inviting than Harry recalled.

The trek up to the castle was shorter than Harry remembered but they were soon standing in front of McGonagall as she extolled the virtues of the houses. Her speech was the same, she still called the houses families. Last time Gryffindor hadn’t been one to him, but this time it would be. He’d make sure.

“Now normally I would ask you to straighten up your uniforms but under the circumstances I understand many of you became separated from your luggage,” she pursed her lips. “Rather than deny you the spectacle of being accepted into your house the school elves have found and provided you with robes to wear. They will be returned to the school when put into the laundry.”

A series of black cloth piles appeared. “They are in size order please be sensible in donning them, I will be back shortly,” she cautioned them before leaving through the side door.

They quickly descended on the pile of robes and put them on even if a few were complaining about having to wear second hand items.

“Very good,” McGonagall called them to attention upon her return, a scroll in her hand. “This way.” She led them from the antechamber to the Entrance Hall and through the double doors into the Great Hall.

The celling was just as magical as it was all the other times Harry had seen it. He thought he heard Hermione explain that she’d read about the enchantment in Hogwarts a History but couldn’t catch sight of her.

“When I call your name please come forward and sit down, and I shall place the hat on your head.” McGonagall gave them a moment to understand the instruction before calling out the first name. “Hannah Abbot.”

Hannah hurried up to the stool. “You fine with me being in Hufflepuff?” Dudley quietly asked.

“Yeah go for it, you have friends there too now,” Harry said thinking of how well Dudley had gotten on with Ernie. It was good that he had friends that they both had gotten on with children their own age. The next few students were called up and then Dudley was sitting on the stool.

It was rather surreal seeing the son of Vernon Dursley sitting in a magic school wearing a talking hat but at the same time it fitted the situation. Dudley it appeared was a hat stall, nearly five minutes passed before Hufflepuff was shouted aloud for the room. Getting up Dudley grinned at him and went to sit by Hannah and Susan.

Harry watched the sorting; Hermione went up and made it once again into Gryffindor and Harry had to combat elation and worry at her sorting. She wasn’t his friend this time and any relationship would be tainted by his secrets, but she was so eager for friends that he didn’t want to hurt her.

The next notable sort was Neville, Harry was pleased to see he was going back to Gryffindor. They hadn’t been close at first but the past year, particularly when Ron had been in a snit with him, Neville had been a great friend. Maybe he could get Neville and Hermione talking sooner, make them both less lonely.

As he watched the sorting unfold it dawned on Harry that nothing had changed. Despite the drama of the day they were still going back to the same houses. Would his actions today change anything or was he deluding himself into think he could make a difference.

“Harry Potter.” His name was called and like before the sitting students pointed him out as he walked to the stool.

“Well then,” the hat murmured on his ear. “Well this is a new one for me.”

“You can tell?” Harry panicked; he thought the ring was protecting his mind.

“Oh, it is working, no Wizard magic will gain your secrets and I shall not tell them. But my magic is older and wilder, you’ve met its type before. It’s how you came to be here again.”

“It’s still a secret then? The time travel?”

“Unless you utter it aloud, yes. Now where to put you?”

“Gryffindor,” Harry stated firmly like he done the first time.

“Hmm so you say, and I’m inclined to agree, you can do much for that house like your cousin for the badgers.”

“Will you announce it then? They must be staring at me more than they already were.”

“Soon.” The hat stirred on his head. “They’re staring, but then they always do. I don’t mind it is my moment after all. The rest of my time is spent on a shelf far removed from the world. Although I’m enjoying myself more than normal it’s not often that you can see how your decisions play out before they are made. I watch you grow into yourselves; some settle well, other perhaps should have gone elsewhere. I only see it as it happens. Only the best and the worst of you as you, as you appear before the headmasters. But now I can see what can be for the next few years at least.”

“But if they sort else where it changes things,” Harry argued.

“Isn’t that what your trying to do? So much has already changed, for the better I must admit from what I can see. Maybe it will change the choices I make. You and yours are not the only ones who need saving. You focus on your tasks and shall do what I can with my own.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Perhaps, time will tell, but then it always does. Time to go onwards with your journey little one. Do not worry about she who sleeps in the deep halls of this castle. She will not be disturbed for some time. Make the world safer and then she may never stir at all,” the hat cautioned him.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome now go bravely on,” the hat moved again, “Gryffindor,” was called aloud. The hat was lifted off his head and the table to the right of the hall was already cheering his approach, his robes shifting to a matching coloured trim. He was home.

Settling on to the bench he greeted those already sitting there and gave Percy a bright smile. “Did Ginny get back okay?”

“Yes, thank you. Now shush the next student is being called.”

The sorting continued on till it was Ron’s turn, there was a slight murmur of interest, but it would appear that Hogwarts rumour mill had yet to connect him to the rat.

Ron sat on the stool and they waited, and they waited, he wasn’t the quick Gryffindor sort of the first time but a hat stall. Had Harry changed so much, between Scabbers and his discussion with the hat that Ron’s path had changed so far without his say so? Just when he had been concerned, he had made no difference.

“Hufflepuff.” The word hung awkwardly in the room, people threw glances at the Weasley siblings and then a frantic clapping was heard from Hufflepuff, Dudley and the other first years were leading the welcome, but it was soon picked up by the rest of the house. Freckles stark on his pale face Ron stood up and with a resolute expression walked to Hufflepuff, his robe trim turning yellow.

“Blaise Zabini.” The name broke the spell of glances and whispers and the last student sat to be sorted. He too ended up where he had once been. Just Ron had be re-sorted. Not that he knew he was a re-sort.

Mind spinning Harry struggled to pay attention to the Headmaster speech till he remembered that it was after dinner the warning about the third-floor corridor was given. He went back to worrying.

Food materialised and Harry started to fill his plate with the experience of an old hand going for his favourites, luckily nobody noticed his slip up. Small smatterings of conversation happened but most people were too focused on their dinner to get chatty.

Harry was feeling guilty like he had failed Ron. He’d taken away his security twice in one day. He’d made a monster of his pet and separated him from his family. But maybe that was for the best. Ron had always wanted to be free from the shadow of his brothers and he’d always enjoyed attention when their antics had become known. Now he’d get both.

Dudley was there too, Harry reminded himself. Dudley would keep an eye on Ron, make sure that he didn’t resent Harry like it sometimes had appeared in the first timeline. Harry could still be his friend and help Ron adapt to a radical change in his life and so could Dudley. Dudley had been through a few of those recently, also because of Harry. Always because of him or was that a bit arrogant? Could you be arrogant in your own thoughts? Harry pondered as he took a slice of treacle tart.

“You look deep in thought?” Hermione said breaking into his personal theological debate.

“I was just thinking about things,” he waved his hand vaguely.

“It’s been quite the day hasn’t it. I’m Hermione Granger.” She stuck out her hand and smiling Harry shook it. “Are you new here too? Well we’re all new as first years but to magic?”

“Sort of, magical born but Muggle raised. My cousin is Muggle-born.”

“Oh, I completely forgot you’re Harry Potter. I feel so silly,” she whispered look mortified.

“It’s fine. I was rude, I forgot to introduce myself,” Harry found himself assuring her.

“You know none of the books mention you having a cousin.”

“So, we’ve heard today,” Harry said with a wry smile.

“How frustrating, I suppose it’s not something you want to talk about.”

“Not really.”

“Sorry, I’m not very good at this… I just so desperately want to make friends,” she bit her lip looking frustrated with herself.

“It’s fine, I’ll be your friend.” Harry found himself impulsively pledging, he may have spent too long with Ernie. “I’m sure others will too, and I met a nice girl on the train, too young this year but she seemed lonely and I promised to write. You could too I’m sure she’d like it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah and Dean he’s Muggle raised too, and we had a great chat on the way here.” Harry pointed to Dean. Soon the first years were chatting away with each other. It didn’t feel right without Ron, but it was liveable and more animated than it had been once before.

The headmaster rose and silence fell. Harry focused on the man. First, he reiterated his welcome then he listed the rules and finally he warned about the third-floor corridor. It was on. Harry was simultaneously relieved and furious, excited and terrified. The stone was in play and Quirrellmort by the look of it was sniffing around the trap.

Percy gathered them up once again to lead them to their new home. While before Percy had been distant and directed from the front this time, he herded them along clucking over them in a way he must have learnt from his mother. He would likely have fussed over them longer, but his brothers pulled him away and they got a chance to explore the tower.

The boys trooped up to their dorm and Harry startled at finding only four beds. It was really happening, Ron was a Hufflepuff.

“Plenty of room,” Dean observed and there was with one less bed in the room. It was Harry supposed like his father had known it, the thought brought a brief smile.

“Looks like they managed to get all our stuff too,” Harry said looking at the trunks at the foot of each bed.

“Great. guess we go with what they’ve done for now and sort it out later if we need,” Seamus said from where he was emptying the contents of his trunk onto the bed.


Chapter Eight

Harry stirred awake the next morning. He was somehow still exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. Things were the same but yet at the same time things were changing and it was never going to be the same again.

It was Harry realised a bit late to come to this realisation. Dudley was magical, Vernon was dead, but that hadn’t hit Harry as hard as yesterday’s changes. Magic had been his escape and it was now intrinsically changed.

“Ah Harry,” Percy greeted him as he came down the stairs. “Good to see you. Sleep well?”

“Yes, thank you, You?”

“Err,” Percy fiddled with the rim of his glasses. “Not the best, a lot happened you know. Ron’s sorting was a bit of a shock.”

“He’ll be fine. Dudley and he know each other and Ernie seemed like a great bloke.”

“That’s good, very good,” Percy nodded looking relieved. ‘He’s not alone. Yes. Thank you.”

“Plus, you’ll still see him all the time. Visiting and such,” Harry pointed out.

“That doesn’t really happen,” Percy admitted.

“Really?” Harry exclaimed trying to act innocent and confused. “Why not, I was going to meet up with Dud?”

“Well it’s… You know… I don’t actually know why; we can ask Professor McGonagall,” Percy finally answered.

“We?”

“Oh yes I need to take you to see her. You’re not in trouble,” he added when he saw Harry’s eyebrows shoot up. “All of us closely connected to yesterday have to go. They want to do a quick check up I think, make sure we didn’t get too hurt.”

“Okay, are we waiting for your brothers?”

“No, I figured Oliver could get them up, he manages to get them to early Quidditch practice so he’s got experience, and then he can bring them. I figured you’d want to go to the owlery and check for you familiar.”

Grinning Harry did something he’d never done before in either timeline, he hugged Percy Weasley. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he petted Harrys shoulder and then pulled him off. “This way.” Harry followed behind Percy as if he didn’t know the way.

The moment he made it in to the owlery Hedwig swooped down and landed on his arm. “Hey, girl you caused quite the scene. Are you alright?” he ran his fingers through her feathers but saw no signs of distress.

“You can bring her with you. Professor Kettleburn, the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, or Hagrid can give her a check-up if you want.”

“Thank you, Percy.”

“Best get going.” Once again Harry followed Percy though familiar corridors until he made it to McGonagall’s office. Percy knocked and stuck his head around the door when it opened.

“Come in, Come in.” Harry hadn’t spent much time in his head of houses office, but it was much cosier than the Headmasters. “Help yourselves to tea and biscuits, I assume you’ve not had breakfast yet?”

Harry took a cup and some shortbread and sat down on a chair that he was directed towards.

“Well Mr. Potter welcome to Gryffindor has Mr. Weasley explained what’s going on?”

“He said that because of yesterday, those close to everything need a check-up.”

“Very good. Mr. Weasley, an excellent choice for prefect,” Percy looked down flushing.

“I’m not so sure.” He mumbled.

“Mr. Weasley, I have no doubt you are a superb choice,” she said giving him a firm look. “Classes start tomorrow morning so best to get all these things done today. A health check to make sure you’re fine after everything. We’re working through the student body but due to your proximity you’re first.”

“Oh,” Harry said, he hadn’t been given a health check before.

“It doesn’t hurt lad,” McGonagall reassured him. His concern must have shown on his face.

“Percy said somebody could check Hedwig over and the Auror on the train, Shacklebolt, said they’d like to know when she makes it here. I also need to send my aunt a letter. I completely forgot to do so last night.”

“Well then, I’ll contact the DMLE, although they may well be here in person. You can have a bit of paper and write a note to your Aunt. The elves will see it sent and I can get your lovely girl checked over when you’re being seen to,” McGonagall offered.

“Thank you, Professor,” Harry couldn’t recall her being so helpful the first time around. But by the time they’d truly interacted in person she known him as a lack lustre student and that may have influenced her behaviour towards him.

***

Once the other Gryffindor students were gathered in McGonagall’s office, they walked as a group down to the hospital wing. While Madame Pomfrey was still there, the room also has several other men and women in healer robes.

“They’re from St Mungo’s, looks like they’re here to help Madame Pomfrey out with the case load,” one of the twins whispered to him.

“The Gryffindor’s,” McGonagall announced. “Ah Madame Bones, you’re here. The owl, Hedwig, has made it, I’m just going to take her to Silvanus for a check-up of her own.”

An older woman with dark hair and monocle turned around. “Thank you, Professor, I’ll accompany you.”

The ladies walked over to where Harry stood awkwardly. “I’ll take her now Mister, Potter don’t worry she’ll be fine.” Reluctantly he passed Hedwig over.

“She’s not in trouble, is she?” Harry asked the imposing woman wanting some reassurance before he let her out of his sight.

“Not at all, if anything she might get a medal, at the very least an awful lot of spoiling.” Bones gave Harry a tight smile and followed McGonagall out the door. A shoulder bumped into his.

“Come on kid let’s get this over with,” Oliver said cheerfully while pushing them to the front of the queue and Harry was reminded of Hermione’s previous assessment that Wood had taken one to many bludgers to the brain.

The health check wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great either. His scar caused some fluttering and long looks and a small degree of poking but otherwise he couldn’t complain he even got to keep his clothes on. The frustrating part was he didn’t get his results, instead they were filed and sent to his guardian. Apparently, you had to be over fifteen to know about your own health.

By mid-morning he was free and so walked back to the Professor’s office hoping she was there with Hedwig and an assessment of her health which he would hopefully get to hear. He knocked on the door hoping they were in.

“Ah, Potter come in,” McGonagall had opened the door herself. Inside her office sat Madame Bones and Hedwig with a bowl of bacon. “Good news lad, your owl is as right as rain and with a healthy appetite.”

“Great,” Harry relaxed. Using Hedwig had turned out to be a larger emotional gamble than he had previously considered. He’d do everything he could to look after her, although it looked like he had an ally in McGonagall when it came to her care.

“Now come sit down,” he was led to a chair while the two women exchanged looks.

“Potter, Harry,” she hadn’t ever used his name before, and Harry focused on her intently. “The DMLE have identified the wizard, he was a Death Eater and his name is Peter Pettigrew.”

It took all of Harry’s self-control not to react too negatively to the name. “Who, was he? Was he one of the bad ones?”

“He wasn’t known to be a Death Eater and he was in fact believed to be dead. Pettigrew was a school friend of your fathers and now after questioning,” McGonagall glanced at Bones. “We know that he was responsible for betraying your parents to Voldemort. He framed your godfather and he killed a lot of Muggles while faking his own death.”

“Oh,” Harry’s vision blurred. Was he going to cry? Why was he going to cry he already knew this? “Oh, how did he hide,” Harry asked blinking heavily.

“As a rat, he was an illegal animagus, a person who could turn into an animal,” his professor explained.

“Oh,” he hesitated. “I keep saying that, I think I should say something else, but I don’t know what.”

“It’s okay lad it’s a lot to take in. Madame Bones was wondering if you had any evidence that would help them investigate the matter of Sirius Black your godfather.”

“The will, my parents one that is. That could help I think.”

“That’s been sealed, can you unseal it?” Bones asked leaning forward.

“I did, over the summer. I didn’t understand a lot of it, there was something about a Pettigrew now that I think about it and secret keeper. Sorry I forgot. I didn’t really understand it,” he ducked his head.

This was all happening so quickly. Far quicker than what he’d seen before. He’d started a snowball down a mountain but instead of rolling at a leisurely pace it’d caused an avalanche and Harry was being swept along with it too.

“They’re complicated things lad, that’s why we pay people to write them for us. Can you ask the bank to pass a copy to the DMLE it might help speed things along?” Harry gave a shaky smile to his teacher, things were already going so quickly.

“Sure, I’ll need to write to the bank, then I suppose.”

“That’s fine we’ll sort it all out.” Bones patted his shoulder and headed out the office. Harry rubbed at is eyes trying to compose himself. He was feeling all helpless because the adults were actually doing their jobs and suddenly, he was expected to sit quietly instead of saving the day. Maybe he would grow use to it in time.

***

The other first years were down at lunch, so he let McGonagall lead him down. Hedwig wanted to stay with her treats, he got the opinion his teacher was spoiling his owl.

“Harry,” Hemione waved and Harry walked over to join her.

“There you are, they said you had to have a check-up because of everything yesterday. Are you okay?”

He shrugged, “They let me go.”

“I suppose that’s something,” Hermione said. “McGonagall’s going to give out schedules, normally it’s done in the morning but what with everything it’s been delayed I’m rather looking forward to it. Oh, before I forget your cousin was looking for you, he has to see the healers after lunch, so he said see you at dinner.”

“Thanks Hermione. Want to explore after we get our schedules?”

“I’m not sure,” She looked a bit worried.

“We could figure out how to get to classes.” Hermione would have to be gently encouraged; she was still in the “worse expelled” frame of mind but she’d loosen up. Harry would help her, maybe she’d be able to help with his house improvement project he could recall her enthusiasm for the SPEW campaign.

“Oh, that sounds great.”

“What does?” before he knew it the Gryffindor first years were all committed to an afternoon of exploration together. Harry had almost baulked. He’d have to hide his knowledge from them all but he figured it’d be good practice.

***

Dinner came and Harry was pleased to see Dudley sitting at the Hufflepuff table. He hadn’t been held back either. Ron was sitting by him and looking more relaxed than he had the day before.

After finishing his meal, he wandered over. “Hey Dud, Ernie.”

“Harry good to see you,” Ernie said shaking his hand again and gesturing for Harry to sit beside him.

“Cousin,” Dud said with a nod of his head once Harry was settled.

“Going to introduce me?” Harry asked as he looked at the rest of the first years.

“After you,” Dudley said instead.

Harry glanced behind him to see Hermione hovering. “Sure, this is Hermione Granger, I think you spoke earlier.” He reached back grabbed her hand and pulled her on to the bench beside Hannah.

After a flurry of introductions Harry sat back and watched the conversations play out. He caught Anthony’s eye where he was sitting at Ravenclaw and gestured for him to come over.

‘Hi, Anthony, made any progress with your sorting theory?” Harry asked by way of greeting.

“Oh, good question.” Ernie chimed in. “We came up with a theory…’

“Shh, don’t tell them or you’ll throw of the results. Here, please answer these as honestly as you can.” Anthony passed out a square of parchment to all of them and a small nub of a pencil.

“Must have been busy writing these out all day Anthony,’ Ernie said as he helped distribute the paper amongst the first years.

‘Nah one of the prefects did a duplication charm on them.”

“Really this is a fascinating concept,” Hermione leant around Harry to pass back her filled in questionnaire. “I’m Muggle raised and ended up in Gryffindor and McGonagall introduced me to magic. I didn’t think anything of it but now I’m fascinated and if you need any help sorting your data, I’m willing to help.”

“I do indeed, I’ve got questionnaire responses from most of my house now and hopefully from the others soon.” He reached into a pocket and pulled out some more squares of paper. “But first do you think you could get them filled out for me in Gryffindor and Hufflepuff?”

Hermione and Ernie eagerly accepted the bundles of parchment and were promising to help. Maybe it would be easier to improve Gryffindor than he thought, maybe they could unite the houses by getting rid of the prejudice. He could hardly take credit for it, but that didn’t matter as long as he got to benefit.

“Do we have many classes together,” Hermione’s question pulled Harry out of his thoughts.

“Let me check,” Soon schedules were laid out in front of them and cross overs were being scrutinised.

“Well this is ridiculous,” Hermione huffed. “We have only one class with you Hufflepuffs and that’s history and Astronomy with Ravenclaw. How are meant to get to know you?”

“Well from what I’ve heard Binns is rather boring and pays no attention to the class. What with him being a ghost so many use it as err social hour,” Ernie explained to a horrified looking Hermione and Anthony.

“That’s terrible and while it may give us a chance to chat it’s not going to help our education,” Anthony was nodding fervently to what Hermione was saying. “With astronomy so late, it gives us no chance to get to know each other either, we’ll all be exhausted.”

“Well this a rum thing,” Ernie said looking tragically despondent. “We’ll just have to eat together and visit.”

“I asked Percy about that,” Harry spoke up. “Apparently visiting the other common rooms isn’t allowed and there’s no social place for inter-house mingling. Sitting together is sort of frowned upon but okay as long as it’s not a feast.”

“Percy, he said that?” Ron said looking flustered.

“Well he was trying to figure out when he and your other brothers could hang out.”

“They don’t hate me?”

“Nope, I think they were worried that Hufflepuff would be mean to you, but they’re kind of proud of you doing what’s right for you.”

‘Yeah, maybe we could have breakfast,” he looked over at the Gryffindor table. “Or pudding, what do you think?”

“Go for it,” Ron gave Harry a shaky smile, grabbed the bread and butter pudding and headed over to his brothers. They watched him get welcomed with a hug and couple of thumps to his back before settling in.

Harry shrugged. “They missed him too and don’t see why having your house be your family means you have to forget your blood or not reach out and make new friends.”

“You know with an attitude like that you could be a Puff too,” grinned Ernie.

“He was a hat stall,” Hannah pointed out.

“It would have been my honour to be a badger, but alas I am a lion,” Harry said with a dramatic flourish making them all laugh.

***

Classes began the next morning and Harry found himself caught up in the nervous excitement of his year mates. His classes were as he could dimly recall, although he was planning to put more effort into the theory this time around.

The only major deviation came in transfiguration where Harry arrived on time and Professor McGonagall stood as herself rather than in her animagus form.

“Normally I start this class with a demonstration of transfiguration prowess, which if you work hard you may achieve. Part of this is the introduction of my animagus form. However, given recent events I felt it wise not to startle you. This is my form.” She shifted into a tabby cat before their eyes and jumped up on to her lectern and gave them a scrutinising look before shifting back, thankfully not staying perched on the lectern.

“I am registered, and I hope you can recall my form in case you come across me again. That said I do not stalk the halls as a cat, it is not a form in which you shall see me often or perhaps ever again. Any questions? Yes Mr. Malfoy.”

“Why get a form then?”

 

“Good question, it’s part of a transfiguration mastery training and many pursue it for the challenge. Some elect not to complete the transformation unhappy with their form. Yes Miss Greengrass.”

“Do you not get to choose your form?”

“No, the form is not negotiable much like with the Patronus charm.”

“Guess it’s no surprise a Death Eater was a rat,” Seamus muttered, and several students shifted on their seats in either amusement or discomfort.

“Please put up your hand Mister Finnigan if you wish to speak in my class. Now one last question Miss Brown.”

“Is there a way to keep them out?” It was a good question, as Harry could think of four illegal animagi who’d been on Hogwarts grounds, what’s to say there weren’t many others.

“Yes, there are ways.”

“Then why did the rat try and sMuggle himself here. He’d have been caught.” Another Slytherin called out Harry thought it might have been Nott who normally sat quietly at the back of all his classes.

“Please remember your hands. The Headmaster and board of governors are investigating the condition of the school wards in conjunction with the DLME in case there are larger forces at play. This shall be done during school holidays so as not to disturb lessons. But do not be alarmed you are perfectly safe. I am registered with the wards which allows my transformation within the school. Any unauthorised magical signature or transformation would be alert the wards and the Headmaster would be informed. Now on with the lesson.”

Harry frowned, that would mean Dumbledore had known about Sirius and Skeeter, maybe even Pettigrew if he shifted back. Also, which break were the wards being checked? What if it was Christmas and the DLME found the stone? Would they also get Quirrellmort or would he slip away? The question distracted Harry to the point he wasn’t the first to transfigure his match.

***

A few days later Harry wandered over to have dinner with the Puffs they’d started to swap tables at different meals and an informal schedule had formed. Although Harry was certain it would be tweaked soon by the number of Ravenclaws joining them.

They weren’t the only ones doing so, Harry had seen older years sitting amongst other tables and a few Slytherins had made it as far as the Ravenclaw table.

It may have happened before, and Harry was honest enough to admit he wouldn’t have noticed. But it did seem freer this time. Percy never sat with Penelope first time around, but now he and the twins could be found at least one meal a day with Ron at the Hufflepuff table.

Percy was more relaxed in general and seemed to be much more inclined to help. The failure of the adults in his life to identify a threat had shaken him and his drive to be head boy and join the Ministry was gone. Harry had heard he’d tried to resign as prefect, but McGonagall had talked him round.

“Hey,” he nudged Dudley who was looking pale and only playing with his food. Dudley while slimmed down a bit was still fond of food, so not eating was a warning sign something was up. “What happened?”

“Potions,” Susan answered him.

“Snape’s an arse,” Dudley expanded at Harry’s worried look.

Hermione gasped. “You can’t say that about a Professor.”

“I can and I will. He’s an abusive arse with a little prick and big issues.”

“Dud, language,” Harry hissed nudging him in the side.

“Just you wait till it’s your lesson and the little bastard lays into you and see what you call him.”

“What did he do?” Hermione asked eyes wide.

“He insulted me, you and mum, then tried to humiliate me in every way he possible could.”

Snape had been an arse to Harry before because of his dad at least that’s what Lupin had implied, so why had was he after Dudley? Maybe he was hoping to upset Harry by going after his cousin. Well actually it was Snape so who could say maybe he was just mean for the sake of it. Or was it because of something else. He could remember his Aunt mentioning a wretched boy, could it have been Snape?

“That’s terrible have you told anyone? Surely Sprout will help she seemed very nice during our Herbology lesson,” Hermione consoled.

“Apparently it’s standard form for him to be dickish to us Puffs,” Ernie sighed. “We asked our prefects, but they say nothings been done, despite a multitude of complaints. Best be on your guard he’s supposedly worse to Gryffindors, and Harry, from his comments I don’t think he’s a fan of yours.”

“I’ve never met him and now I don’t want to.” Harry glanced up at the head table where Snape sat near Quirrellmort, that had been an interesting lesson too. Quirrell had been a fluttering mess between showing overt interest in Harry and outright ignoring him. Something everybody else in the class had noticed.

“Dud have you written to your Mum?”

“Yeah.”

“Write to her again and tell her about it she could help.”

“Oh, that’s a good idea Harry, it’ll make you feel better too,” Hermione praised, Harry smiled. It might make Dudley happy to rant to a receptive audience, but it might also explain why a potions professor knew so much about Dudley’s Muggle mother.

“At least we know why he’s not doing Muggle-born home visits?” Hannah smiled attempting to lighten the mood.

***

Friday came and Harry spent the time walking down to breakfast preparing himself for Potions. They were at Gryffindor for breakfast today, but as soon as he entered the Great Hall Harry knew something was up. The room was buzzing with rumours.

“What’s going on?” Harry asked sitting down beside Percy.

“DMLE turned up and arrested Snape this morning half way through his early morning detention. Allegedly Dumbledore tried to stop them, but he got stuck supervising the group as they had potions on the go for Madame Pomfrey.”

Harry looked over to the twins who were in the middle of telling a story, probably the arrest. At the head table Snape and Dumbledore were absent.

“May I have your attention?” McGonagall’s magically enhanced voice called out, the room fell silent. “As you may have heard the DMLE have taken Professor Snape to the Ministry concerning matters that have arisen during one of their investigations. The Headmaster has gone to Ministry to find out what is going on and will keep the school informed. I have no further information. As it stands Potions is cancelled for the foreseeable future, please use your time wisely.”

“She thinks he’s guilty of whatever’s going on.” They all turned to Hermione

“What makes you say that,” Percy frowned obviously trying to recall the speech.

“She said foreseeable future, that means she doesn’t think he’ll be back before the weekends over and that means guilt.”

“Well damn. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke,” Fred whistled.

***

Snape’s arrest dominated the gossip for the whole weekend. Harry and his friends all came up with several theories about why the DMLE had not only arrested him but done it so quickly. Harry himself not having a clue about the reason for the arrest, seeing as it hadn’t happened before, happily joined in. At least all the drama was keeping the attention of him, last time he had been ruthlessly stalked by people curious in him and his fame.

Theories flew around the school. The most popular was that Snape was attempting to help the rat Animagus, who miraculously was still unnamed in the press. Others questioned if it was for his behaviour and several ugly rumours about him offering favours for grades began to circulate.

“Have you heard?” a breathless Lavender asked slipping into a space on the bench at dinner. “Snape’s a Death Eater.”

Pandemonium broke out around them as the Gryffindor’s clamoured for the new gossip to add to the scandal. Around the Hall he could see others revealing the news. Harry had to wonder where it came from. Last time he’d managed to hide it even with Karkaroff around and questioning him all the time. Although, Dumbledore had ratted him out through pensive memories to Harry, it was obviously a fairly well-kept secret.

“Are you sure?” asked Percy.

“Yeah I overheard the teachers in the staffroom when I was dropping of a bag I’d found. He has the dark mark and everything,” Several people gasped at the revelation.

“Well guess he wasn’t sleeping with students with that on his arm,” muttered Fred.

“Don’t need to take your clothes off to fuck Fred.”

“Oliver!” chastised a blushing Percy. “Not in front of the firsties or even the second years come to that.”

“Glad to see you care about our innocence big brother.”

“You were already corrupted by the time you made it here George.”

“Plus, he’s a Death Eater sleeping with students is the sort of depraved thing they’d do,” Oliver continued.

“But that’s hardly smart. He was bound to be caught for doing it to one of them” Hermione argued.

“Death Eaters aren’t smart, depraved little sickos, yeah but smart no. Why else would you brand yourself a follower?” Oliver rebutted.

“Could he have been imperioused?” Hermione asked instead.

“Hermione, most of those who got out on that excuse were the rich and powerful and not actually imperioused. Why are you fighting for Snape’s innocence so much?” Percy asked after a quick look at Oliver.

“Because it would mean the Headmaster probably knowingly employed somebody who wants me dead. Or at the very least supports my subjugation,” she sniffed.

“Oh Hermione,” Percy drew her into his arms and Harry remembered Percy had a little sister, he knew how to deal with crying girls. “You’re safe, you’re a Gryffindor, we’ll look after you.” Lavender and Katie joined in the hug.

“You-Know-Who is gone and the DMLE are rounding up his followers who got away. And not a single one of them can measure up to you.” Oliver agreed.

“You’ve more heart and brains than them all combined,” Harry said when he saw her wiggle back onto the bench.”

Harry looked at the table. Hermione was giving a watery smile with one of Percy’s arms around her while Lavender moped up her tears. George had an arm around Neville who was looking resolute. Fred and Angela were cuddling Katie whose dad Harry remembered was a Muggle. Oliver was checking on Seamus and Dean both looking affected by Hermione’s point, after all they had Muggle family members.

This was Gryffindor; this is the family he’d been promised his first night here; this was as it was supposed to be. He looked up to the Head table and saw Quirrellmort. Harry wasn’t going to let him ruin it.


Chapter Nine

The morning owl post-delivery swooped in. The cloud of birds bringing the Daily Prophet and the latest on the Snape scandal was an anticipated morning event with those having a subscription being centre of attention as the distributed the news.

Harry was immensely glad that he’d gotten his letter to Gringotts off when he had. The school owlery was empty of birds and the skies of Scotland were a twitcher’s dream of different, normally nocturnal species.

Hermione’s fear about Dumbledore knowingly bringing a Death Eater into the school to teach Muggle-born and half-blood students spread by wild fire. Whispered tales of Death Eater initiation rituals swirled around until the Madame Pomfrey nearly ran out of calming potions and dreamless sleep.

The Daily Prophet was quick to pick up on the parental outrage of having a Death Eater teach children. Rita Skeeter was at her slanderous best and former pupils were quick to give details of his abuses in the classroom.

Dumbledore hadn’t been seen at dinner since the arrest. At first, he was likely trying to get Snape out of trouble. But now he was probably trying to get himself out of trouble.

Lucius Malfoy, never one to miss an opportunity to get his name out there and slander Dumbledore, defended the board of governors, putting the hiring practices directly at the Headmaster’s door. This had, not so sadly, backfired on him and now people were questioning what was the point of having the board if they did nothing?

It was an unexpected bonus in Harry’s opinion, especially as it soon came out that Snape was a friend of Malfoy’s and Draco’s godfather. Malfoy, who had been setting himself up to be trouble like he was the first-time round, quickly deflated and was trying his best to imitate a demiguise.

“Bones has made a statement,” Percy said from behind the paper. “Apparently under veritserum questioning they have verified that Snape hasn’t killed any Muggle-born or Half-bloods.”

“Well that’s something. But what about torturing them?” Oliver muttered trying to read over Percy’s shoulder.

“Nothing about that, although he certainly does enough of it in class that nobody would believe the statement if she’d said that,” Percy agreed.

“What About Muggles?” Hermione questioned.

“They’re not mentioned at all from what I can see,” Oliver said. “Damn, that’s going to be how he got marked.”

“So, he really is a monster, they’re just not saying anything.” Hermione sighed looking deeply disappointed. Hermione and Percy had both become much more critical of authority figures. On one hand this made Harry’s life easier and theirs safer. But Harry still felt like he had damaged a part of their character and taken away their innocence.

“I think it’s to try and calm down the angry parents. Most of them don’t care about Muggles, well, not those who can cause the most problems for the Ministry. The ones who do are probably a bit focused on the danger to their children to think about the bigger picture right now,” Percy said looking at the paper disgustedly. “They’re covering their own backs.”

“Why did they wait so long then?” Harry asked. It had been a week before they made even this small statement.

“They had to wait till any potions had cleared his body which is four to five days and then they probably gave him a flushing draught to be sure which is another two days.” Fred said from over the table.

“Snape’s a potion Master they’re weren’t going to risk him having an antidote in his system and the dark mark means they can hold him for a month. Dad mentioned it in his last letter, it’s a left-over law from the last war.” George concluded.

“Hey guys,” Dudley said as he sat down with them. “You see the latest news?”

“Yup, just discussing it and the blatant lack of Muggles mentioned,” Harry replied.

“You caught that too, we figured it could have been a squib too.”

“Yeah, the Death Eaters had a serious hard on for them,” Oliver agreed, Percy had given up correcting Oliver’s language.

“Here, mum wrote back.” Dudley passed the letter over. It was in Petunia’s tight script. His aunt’s ability to write in straight lines on unlined paper was a terrifying talent.

“Well, fuck.”

“Harry!” he was scolded from several directions.

“You’d swear too if you found out Snape had an epic crush on your mum. I mean epic from what Aunt Petunia’s written.”

“And unhealthy, serious stalker vibes towards the end there,” Dudley added.

“Yeah. I mean wow, no wonder he kind of hated your mum, sounds like he considered her competition for my mums time.”

“Really?” Percy asked.

“Yeah he would follow Aunt Lily everywhere from about the age seven and watched her for weeks. He was apparently the one who told her and mum about magic before her Hogwarts letter arrived, showed her magic and everything.”

“Snape broke the Statute of Secrecy! You’d better take that to McGonagall, the DMLE will likely want it for whatever case they’re building against him,” Percy said sounding a bit like his former self.

“Yeah possibly, but they may be a bit more concerned with the fact that Aunt Petunia thinks he sold out Grandma and Grandad Evans to Death Eaters,” Harry muttered glowering at the letter.

“Does your Aunt have any evidence for this?” Percy asked pushing his glasses up his nose.

“You mean, apart from her parents’ house burning down completely in less than five minutes leaving nothing but ash two days after Lily got engaged to James Potter? And Snape being seen lurking outside the house the day before?” Dudley asked.

“Come on boys lets hand this over to McGonagall. l I trust she’ll be able to do something about it,” Percy got up and indicated they should follow him. In the end, it was a small group who traipsed up to the head table.

“Professor,” Percy said to get McGonagall’s attention.

“Ah Mr. Weasley, you brought Mr. Potter over. Did you also receive a note from Madame Bones young man? She didn’t mention it,” McGonagall glanced down at her letter in case she had somehow missed that bit of information.

“Err, no. That is to say I don’t think he did?” Percy said looking at Harry who shook his head, he had yet to receive any letters. “Harry and Dudley received a letter from home, and it makes some serious allegations against Snape.”

“Does it now? May I see it?”

Glancing at Dudley who was nodding his consent Harry passed the letter over. “Here ma’am.” They stood awkwardly watching as she read it. Harry had to fight the impulse to shuffle his feet.

“Well then. Madame Bones has asked for a meeting with you Mr. Potter, as there is some paperwork needing your signature. Nothing serious just a formality, but one to protect the interests of all the parties involved in the use of a will in a trial. I recommended you give her the letter at this point so you can be given a formal receipt and insure it goes into the correct hands.”

“Sure, when would the meeting be? I haven’t heard anything?” Harry asked. He was a bit worried that the bank hadn’t gotten back to him about everything that was going on. He’d sent a letter the other day apologising to them about the speed at which things were progressing.

“You haven’t heard anything? No letters received?” McGonagall asked eyes sharp. Harry shook his head and accepted the letter back.

“He never gets anything in the post deliveries,” Hermione piped up from beside him. “Dudley gets their joint letters.”

“How curious. Filius are you free this morning?” McGonagall asked looking down the table.

“Yes, I am, till third period,’ Professor Flitwick replied.

“Good would you mind running Mr. Potter down to the bank. Letters are going astray, and time is of the essence right now.”

“Of course. Shall we leave after I finish my coffee?” He asked Harry.

“Err, yes sir, but what about classes?”

“You have potions this morning and we still haven’t secured a replacement so it would just be free study in the library I’m afraid,” McGonagall answered.

“Do you know when we’ll get a new one? Just with our OWLs…” Percy trailed off.

“Soon, we have a replacement in mind,” McGonagall pursed her lips. “But without the Headmaster and Board we can’t get him in place.” A bell chimed. “I’ll let Bones know to meet you at Gringotts, off to class with the rest of you now,” she dismissed them.

Harry stayed behind along with Professor Flitwick. Hermione gave him an encouraging hug and Dudley slapped his back and Harry managed not to flinch. He could still remember when Dudley use to hit him during Harry hunting, but they were both working on their relationship. They both wanted to be more than they were being shaped into through bigotry.

“Well then lad do you have everything you need?” Flitwick asked breaking Harry away from his thoughts.

“I have the letter, but apart from that I have no idea what’s needed sir.”

“Well we’re going to the bank not the end of the world and can nip back easy enough. The sooner we get there the sooner we can sort this out. Now have you ever apparated?”

“No sir.”

“Oh dear, did you have a big breakfast?” Flitwick asked giving Harry a worried look.

“No, I got a bit distracted by the paper and the letter, why?”

“Oh, nothing to worry about, just some people get a bit queasy being side along apparated.” Harry sighed it looked like apparition wasn’t going to be any better than the portkey.

***

Harry staggered on arrival in the bank and it was only his professors’ surprisingly strong grip which stopped him landing on his face. He took several deep breaths and managed to control his stomach which was threatening to rebel.

“There you go lad. Take a moment. You did well, that was a big jump too from Scotland to southern England.”

“Thank you. Do we have to go back that way?”

“I’m afraid so. Now then to your account managers office, Sharrock, if I recall correctly.”

Harry found himself steered out of the fireplaced room and led into the main bank. A sign over the door of the room they exited revealed it to be for magical arrivals and departures.

Rather than join any of the queues they headed straight through the double doors without stopping for a guide.

“Don’t worry lad I know my way round these halls, grew up in them and still have a fair amount of kin here.”

“Oh,” Harry replied unsure quite what to say there had always been speculation about Flitwick’s parentage, but he’d never heard it confirmed. Although there were humans working in the bank like Bill so maybe he was just assuming things.

“Here we are,” they stopped outside the door Harry vaguely recognised as belonging to Sharrock. “Best knock,” Flitwick advised. The door swung open as Harry’s fist connected to the door and Harry had to fight not to fall though the doorway.

“Ah Heir Potter, I have been trying to get hold of you.”

“So I was told this morning, Sir. But I haven’t received any letters from you since I made it to Hogwarts.” Sharrock gave him a long considering look.

“Curious do sit down. Master Flitwick are you staying?”

“I can if there are no objections.”

“I don’t have any, I just don’t want my private information discussed far and wide, but I trust you sir.”

“None of us do lad. I gather you claimed your heir ring,” Harry nodded. “Good.”

“Have you been receiving letters from the bank?” Sharrock asked Flitwick.

“Yes, both personal and professional. I’ve also seen Gringotts owls deliver to others within the school.”

“Curious, have you noticed a decline in correspondence?”

“I’ve never received any post,” Harry admitted.

“Never, how very curious,” The two adults shared a glance. “That is a matter for investigation. Where are your letters going?”

“Do you think somebody has gotten hold of them?”

“It would look that way.” Flitwick admitted. “If you would like I could act as an intermediary and pass letters onto you as we know I’m receiving them.”

“Would you sir?” Harry asked feeling relieved. “That would be great.”

“Excellent we will draw up a contract, non-financial I assume. It will keep us busy till Madame Bones arrives at half past,” Sharrock said retrieving a blank parchment.

Harry was wiggling his fingers in his hand getting rid of the strange feeling of using a blood quill when Madame Bones was shown into the room.

“Ah Heir Potter. I’ve been trying get in contact with you for a few days,” she said nearly copying Sharrock word for word.

“You haven’t been alone in that. It would appear Mr Potter is labouring under a potentially illegal postal ward. Master Flitwick is now acting as legal recipient of Heir Potters post,” Sharrock replied.

“I will no doubt be availing you of that service. Heir Potter we will look into the matter of your correspondence. Thankfully if somebody is reading your post from me, they shall not be getting any information from it.”

“Err thank you, that’s good to know,” Harry answered. The thought of somebody using his post to get inside information hadn’t crossed his mind. Was it Quirrellmort, Dumbledore or another person he didn’t know about?

“Now on to the matter at hand Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew,” Bones said rubbing her hands together. “The two of them are currently in separate Ministry holding cells and we have enough to take them to trial.”

“So, Sirius is guilty then?” Harry asked his heart sinking.

“No,” she hesitated, “not of anything significant. Nothing that wouldn’t normal be dealt with by a fine. A trial however will be needed to convince the public of his innocence. I trust gentleman, this goes no further than the four of us.” They all nodded their heads.

That’s good and utterly terrible,” Harry said after a moment of silence.

“It is indeed lad. Now the reason we need the meeting is the bank has more evidence which you authorised in August. We hope to use it in the trials but need you to give your official consent.”

“Sure, I guess that’s going mean another contract and another blood quill?”

“I’m afraid so,” Flitwick said with an unsympathetic grin.

“Right I guess before we get too carried away, I have some more evidence which may as well be included but I’m not sure quite how it fits in as it’s mostly about Snape.” They all gave Harry scrutinising looks.

“Where did you get it?” Bones asked.

“My Aunt sent it. She grew up near to him and Dudley, my cousin, wrote to complain about Snape’s attitude in class and ask why he kept bringing Aunt Petunia up in his rants.”

“That man,” sighed Bones. “Do you have the letter to hand?” Harry pulled it out of his pocket and put it on the table. Bones cast a few charms at it and then picked it up to read.

Detection charm and a sealing and protection charm,” Flitwick said at Harry’s curious look.

“Master Sharrock could you also draw up a receipt for the letter as well,” Bones sighed after finishing the letter. “Will your aunt testify to this?”

Harry hesitated. On one hand Petunia would likely be thrilled to deal with the nasty boy and get some kind of punishment for her parents’ deaths. On the other it would involve dealing with the magical world.

“Probably I’ll write to her… Or I’ll get my cousin too, I don’t know if I can send letters. But I’m not sure she’d be happy in a room full of wizards.”

“That’s fine. We can’t convict him on the breach in the statute due to his age at the time, but it certainly says a lot about his character from a young age. The killing of your grandparents could be argued as another break in the statute and is certainly punishable due to the death and destruction.”

“If you would sign by the marks,” Sharrock slid two documents over to them. “The first is the release of evidence from the bank the second is the transfer of the evidence.”

Given the scrutiny with which Bones was reading Harry didn’t feel guilty doing the same before he signed.

“Excellent,” Bones declared after they were done. She put the letter in her pocket. “This will speed things up I imagine all three trials will be done by the end of the month. Probably at once they’re all rather interconnected. Professor Flitwick do please pass on my thanks to Minerva and let her know that things are coming along. I’ll send word beforehand as a few of the students will be required for witness statements.”

“The evidence from the bank will couriered to you this afternoon at expense or can be collected from Master Riddaxe’s desk,” Sharrock informed Bones as she stood up.

“Thank you, Master Sharrock, I’ll collect it now and get to work on it.”

“I do believe that concludes our business too,” Flitwick said after Bones had left.

“It does unless you wish to speed up the distribution of the bequests?”

“Err, no, I think it’ll be for the best to let this settle down first,” Harry said.

“Quite wise, a little bit more time will make no difference after a decade,” Flitwick agreed. “Well we must be off as we have lessons to get too.”

Harry found himself whisked out the bank and in short order walking back through the school gates.

“We’re a bit early for lunch so you can join your housemates in the library or write that note to your aunt. Either way I best give you a slip, so nobody takes points,” Flitwick said handing over a hall pass.

Harry headed off to his dorm to get his school bag and to write out a quick note telling his aunt to expect the Auror and if she hadn’t already, to hold off on having a picnic in the graveyard. He left the details vague in case whoever was taking his mail also got hold of the note.

***

“Have you heard?” Lavender said coming into the common room with the certainty that in fact nobody had. “There’s a new potions professor.”

Chaos temporarily reigned as everybody shouted questions at the girl who seemed delighted with the attention. Lavender was a gossip but not a mean spirited one. Harry was pretty certain she’d keep a secret, although he didn’t have any, he was willing to trust that theory on.

“Who is it?” became the main question being asked and eventually the room quietened down enough for her to reply.

“Well, from what I hear, he’s actually the previous potion master returning, Snape was his replacement when he retired about ten years ago.”

“Slughorn then,” Etta, one of the seventh years said. “He taught my parents and probably any number of yours who attended here.”

“So, should be competent then?” asked Lance Simmons the sixth year Prefect and one of the few Gryffindor students still studying potions. “Or are we thinking senile?”

“From what I heard he was decent but tended to surround himself with the clever, influential and those with the potential to be famous. Rich didn’t hurt either.”

“He was a Slytherin, that’s what most of them do,” Etta pointed out.

“Will he be head of Slytherin house,” another person called out although Harry couldn’t see who.

“No,” Lavender chimed in. “Sinestra is going to become the official Head of House as she already has a relationship with the students and they’re more likely to trust her than a newcomer. That and the fact McGonagall didn’t want any problems like there was before.”

“What does that mean?” McLagan demanded.

“Probably referencing last time, he was head of house most of his students got recruited into a terrorist organisation,” Oliver chimed in.

“So, he’s just as bad as Snape then?” Hermione asked looking down hearted.

“Who knows, let’s give him a chance, they wouldn’t bring him back after this scandal if they though he was cut from the same cloth,” Percy said trying to put a positive spin on things.

“Why not bring in someone younger without any of that association?” Katie asked.

“Who is there, Snape’s spent a decade destroying the potions education in Britain and most parents would be up in arms about a foreign potion master coming in,” Etta answered.

“Guess it means they officially fired Snape then?” George said trying to cheer up the room.

“That’s true brother dear, shall we get some cake and throw him a leaving party?”

The room quickly fell in to party planning mode, and the twins and Lee slipped out to get provisions, the Marauders map no doubt going with them. Harry would try and see if he could get to use it from time to time.

Dean was drafted into drawing a banner which was charmed to move to the beat of the music which was playing from the corner as several older years moved the furniture to make a dance floor.

“Hermione come dance with me,” Lavender laughed as she came over to them at the edge of the dance floor.

“I can’t dance,” Hermione said blushing.

Oh, don’t be silly and come and wiggle, while I twirl you, Neville’s stolen Parvati from me.”

“I’m not sure what about Harry,” Hermione said gesturing towards him.

“Little Harry will be dancing with us,” said the twins both draping an arm over Harry’s shoulders.

“There see, come and dance and maybe you’ll stop looking so frowny.”

“Maybe, but Lav, I was thinking, why doesn’t Hogwarts have a newsletter? My old school used to and it was smaller than here.”

“We don’t do we? I have no idea why, maybe we could start one. I would love to write articles. Oh, Hermione what a great idea.” Lavender grabbed Hermione’s hand and pulled her into the crowd on the dance floor. “Let’s ask Percy if he can help.”

Before he could go and help them find Percy Harry found himself being spun around the room by the twins. The whole house was present and having fun, dancing and talking together.

“Here you go,” Katie said passing Harry a drink which he gratefully downed. “Those two dance like they’re bludgers, no wonder they’re such good beaters.” Laughing Harry took her hand and spun them back on to the dance floor.

***

“I take it you heard that Snape’s gone,” Ernie said over breakfast.

“Yeah, I wonder why it took so long with all the uproar. Pass the jam please,” Hannah said while buttering her toast.

“I don’t think they could do anything until he was charged. I imagine Aunty informed the Headmaster and the board yesterday,” Susan said passing the jam as she did so.

“Why not?” Hermione said. “I mean he wasn’t by all accounts a great teacher?”

“Because he’s a potion master, he’s protected by the potions guild from what he could allege was unfair dismissal,” Anthony answered. “But with criminal charges he’ll have violated his teaching contract and the school can get rid of him.”

“Do you think the paper’s heard about the change,” Dudley asked looking at the opening where the owls came from.

“No idea but we’ll find out soon,” Harry replied the first owl was coming through the opening. Hedwig landed in front of Dudley and he took the letter before she flew over to Harry.

Harry wasn’t keen on having her in the Great Hall as she still got a lot of attention due to the train station attack. He didn’t want anybody to hurt her. But seeing as Ron was at Gryffindor table and unlikely to be upset by her presence Harry decided to indulge her love for bacon.

“Huh, he’s not the only one on the way out. Looks like Malfoy and the board are done for too,” Ernie muttered while reading.

“They’ve all been thrown off; I didn’t think that was possible?” Susan said looking curious.

“Nope but Rita’s written an expose and it doesn’t look good for them. I mean significant pay rises for them and not the teachers, giving their own children scholarships and ignoring requests for new equipment. Oh, and supressing complaints about Snape. That’s how Rita got her claws into them.”

Harry had no doubt that the board members were getting hate mail like Hermione and Hagrid had when Skeeter had turned her quill on them. But by the sounds of it and the vicious smile on McGonagall’s face they deserved some censure.

“So, they’re done for?” Dudley asked.

“They will be, at least some of them. The school won’t take the scandal and they’re not part of the school charter,” Anthony answered. “Tried in the court of public opinion. Depending on how it goes they may have to pay back some money.”

“I’m sure my dad’s looking into it,” Ernie said.

“But the good news is we may have new brooms for our flying lesson next month,” Hannah added. “Plus, we could have more funding to the clubs, the gob stones are in very poor shape.”

“Lavender and I were talking about setting up a school newsletter or paper to keep up to date on events and news. But Percy reckoned we’d struggle without any funds.”

“That sounds like a great idea. Articles could be submitted to it, good practice for academic circles,” Anthony added looking thrilled at the thought.

“And the clubs could advertise their meetings and public events and all sorts,” Ernie said getting caught up in the excitement.

“This really should go ahead, talk to McGonagall soon. You’ll need a teacher to sponsor it,” Anthony added.

“Oh, I didn’t realise” said Hermione looking a bit deflated.

“What about Madame Pince? I know you said it needed to be a teacher, but Hagrid does some magical animal sessions.” Harry said after thinking about it for a bit.

“Oh, that’s a great idea Harry, I’ll run it by Lavender in History. That sounded terrible but really, it’s impossible to learn from Binns, maybe while they’re doing their improvements they can get him to move on.”

“Did you learn about the process when you were researching ghosts, Harry?” Anthony asked.

“Err, no. I think they removed those texts to protect the school ghosts,” Harry said. He had however learnt that wraiths and disembodied spirits needed an invite to inhabit ensouled beings. Hence the proliferation of golems and zombies in necromantic practice.

“Makes sense, I must say I’ve been tempted to shuffle him along. They’ll be able to afford a new teacher at least if they pluck up the courage to do it,” Ernie muttered a bit cynically.

“You okay Dudley?” Harry asked quietly while the others discussed the types of articles they’d like to read in a paper.

“Yeah Mum’s written. She’s got your letter and agrees to go on a picnic before the weather turns bitter but is going to have wait because of the rain,” Dudley gave Harry a significant look at this. Harry bit back a sigh, once the bones destroyed there would be one less thing for Harry to be a nervous wreck over.

“She also says that the Auror came to visit and took her statement and a copy of her memories to use in the trial against Snape. Which she’s sort of happy about. She doesn’t like the memory stealing, even if she still has a copy in her head, but she’s also glad she doesn’t have to attend the pre-court sessions, only the main one. Though, she’s not going to let them in her house again since they made her uncomfortable.”

“The Aurors were mean to her? I’ll tell aunty and she’ll have it dealt with,” Susan interrupted.

“Nah, they were just a bit morbidly curious, what with mum being Lily Potter’s sister and nonmagical.”

“Still I’ll tell her, they should be professional,” Susan said and quickly started to pen a note.

“Mum, also says she mentioned Dad’s death, the Muggle police keep mentioning the evidence seems to have disappeared as if by magic.”

“I’ll mention that to Aunty too just in case they forget to pass it along,” Susan said quill flying across the page.

“Thanks Susan,” Harry said.

“It’s okay Harry, better go send it now before everybody rushes to pass on the latest gossip to their parents about who’s replacing Snape. Those poor owls are going to need feeding up before winter with all this extra exercise.”

***

“Mr. Potter please stay back,” Professor McGonagall ordered. Harry shuffled out of the queue for the door ignoring the curious looks from his classmates and made it to the lectern.

Once Hermione had left and closed the door his teacher turned back to face him. “You’re not in trouble. But I’ve received word from the DMLE, and they wish to have the students who gave their statements reiterate them in court. Apparently, the emotional impact of children describing the horror will be more likely make an impact. Furthermore, some of them will also be in position to testify against the former potions teacher.”

“So, we all have to go?” Harry checked.

“Yes. It’ll be a logistical nightmare, luckily Madame Bones is willing to help with the arrival and departures.”

“When is it? not on the weekend I imagine.”

“Of course not, they’re not going to work when they don’t have to. The trials begin in a week on Monday. Plenty of time for the court to make decisions before then. Luckily, you’ll only be needed for one day, probably Tuesday, they’ll take Monday to set it all up.”

“Trials? Who will it be for?”

“Snape, Black and Pettigrew.”

“All three of them at once? I know Madame Bones said they’d happen at the same time, but I thought in different rooms.”

“They’re too entwined to be done separately and I imagine the cost of holding three trials was a consideration.”

“Well that’s…” Harry trailed off he was eleven and he had to act that way.

“Exactly. But not our problem, you’ll get a package of schoolwork to take with you, probably just reading as writing would be a mess if tables aren’t provided which I doubt they will be. Not that a lot of work will be done in that week.”

“Yeah, that’s fine Ma’am. Do we have to wear anything special?”

“School robes for a feast will do. Best you look like the students you are. The other heads of houses are informing the students from their houses of the situation. Professor Sprout asked me to mention she’s holding lessons for those going to the court on the history of the government and the obscure etiquette that goes with it. A sign-up sheet will be going around. If you have any questions, ask Mr. Weasley who will likely be attending those sessions and will be going to court as well.”

“Okay,” Harry nodded and ran down to the Great Hall for lunch and to see if anybody else had been told yet.


Chapter Ten

“Ah, Harry do you mind coming with me?” Percy interrupted their homework session in the common room. Hermione was trying to find a space that all the hoses could use and a big enough space easily accessible for them all. It was harder than Harry thought considering the size of the castle and the amount of empty rooms, possibly explaining why it hadn’t been done before.

“Err sure,” he agreed. It was the day before the trial was due to begin, the Daily Prophet had promised a daily special at the cost of a knut a day for subscribers, delivered in the evening in addition to the morning delivery.

Percy led him back to McGonagall’s office where he was ushered in and left. “Sit down lad.” Harry did as he was told looking at pile of biscuits and tea things. Last time he was given them he found out about Pettigrew, what would it be this time.

“Now, lad stop glowering at my tea set,” Harry looked away. “I imagine you’ve guessed I have some news. Madame Bones sent it through earlier, much of it will come out during the trial, however we felt that as it concerns you, it would be best to prepare you.”

“Is it to do with Hedwig?” He asked worried about his owl. “Do I have to bring her to the court too?”

“No, not directly, its more to do with the night of your parents’ death and the role that the three men on trial played in it.” McGonagall looked away and after a moment poured the tea. They sat in silence as they drank.

“I don’t remember much.” He knew more now since his exposure to the dementors, but how would he be able to explain having that memory. Better to stick with his earlier dreams. “I mean it may not even be a memory just a dream I always had, of a woman’s scream and flash of green light with evil laughter.”

The cup of tea in his professor’s hand fell to the floor and smashed, she didn’t flinch but instead kept staring at him, her eyes filling with horror and then tears. “Oh, lad, I would never wish that memory on you.”

“I… I won’t have to talk about that will I? Because that’s my mum dying isn’t it? And I don’t want everybody to know, not when they barely remember her when they write about our family. She deserves more than to just be a tragic female victim in the story of my heroism. I mean it’s so ugly to her because from what I’ve heard is she was brilliant and really what did I do that was so heroic? I was just a baby!” He was almost panting at the end of the speech.

“That you were, and it’s a travesty that more people don’t remember that or who your parents were themselves,” she sniffed. “With your permission I’ll mention your memory to Madame Bones, and she will hopefully navigate her way around you having to discuss any of this. The last thing you need is insensitive questions or worse.” She was probably talking about the Department of Mysteries, at least his obscene fame protected him form their curiosity.

She flicked her wrist and the cup on the floor was repaired, another movement and the tea was back in the cup, before it all floated up to her and she put it onto the table. “Wandless magic, not as difficult as many think especially after mastering the Animagus transformation.” She said misinterpreting his look.

“Is that why you have to register?” Harry asked, he’d only seen a few examples of wandless magic but most of it was a lot showier.

“Partly, they like to know who will be harder to find and contain, and that brings me back to what I wanted to discuss with you. The trial.”

“About what’s going to be said?”

“Yes, I’m not sure how much will come out, there are, from what Madame Bones has said, warring factions trying to control the distribution of information. But it would be best that you aren’t caught off guard.”

“Because that would be a weakness. Professor Sprout said that it would be bad to show any overt emotions and hesitations unless we want to be underestimated. But there would be allowances due to our age.”

“Sadly true, and more so for you due to your future position within the Wizengamot, there’s a reason heirs are kept away until they’re of age; it helps iron out unseemly wrinkles in their personalities.”

“Right. Thank you for your help ma’am. I’d probably make a mess of it without all of you.”

“Perhaps but you’re a smart lad and your lack of previous education is not your fault. If things hadn’t been what they were your parents would have raised you. Or if not, your godfather Sirius Black.”

“I haven’t heard much about him apart from that he went for prison, for what we now believe Pettigrew did.”

“Yes, the DMLE now believe him to be innocent of all charges and Pettigrew the true guilty party. Black will be in the room. They’ll expect you to react to him, it would be best that you didn’t.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“However, we now believe that Snape was also involved in the situation and was the one who directed Voldemort towards your family.”

“He sold them out. Were they friends?” Harry asked eyes wide.

“No, your mother and Snape once were, as your Aunt may have mentioned. However, by fifth year that fell apart. Snape sold them out on the hope that your mother would survive and be willing to talk to him again… If not more.”

“That bastard,” Harry bit his lip giving his teacher a wide-eyed look.

“Normally I’d chastise you but lad I agree, I’d even use stronger language than that. However, he realised his dark lord was unpredictable and turned to the Headmaster to help. This is why Dumbledore trusts him. In the end, Snape played them all, but still lost out because your mother loved you the most.”

Harry remembered her begging Voldemort to kill her instead and being ordered to stand aside. How much was Snape in favour that he could get such an indulgence from Voldemort?

“Will he be punished for that?”

“Absolutely and for the death of your Grandparents, it was his induction into the Death Eater ranks. The fact that he was in this school at all sickens me. There are a few other things ranging from covering up crimes to illegal potions making that he’ll be charged with.”

“Good. Will it all come up in the trial while I’m there?”

“Yes, it’ll all come out, but probably not when you’re questioned. Probably on Wednesday which means you shouldn’t be asked to talk about it, but then again pre-warned is pre-armed.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.” They sat in a quiet silence. “Did you know my parents well; it’s just we didn’t have any photos of them growing up.”

“No photos,” McGonagall gave him a sharp look. “No, I suppose you don’t they’d have been in the house and magical to boot, not something for a Muggle home. I’ll see what I can do. Now eat a biscuit lad and then you can run the rest of them back to the common room with you.”

“Yes Ma’am.”

***

Harry stood in the common room in his formal robes and put up with Percy fusing over him and the twins. Simmons, the other Gryffindor Prefect going with them was busy checking a list making sure he had all the students he needed.

“Good luck Harry,” Hermione said as she hugged him before straightening his collar before Percy noticed it had gotten knocked askew. “It’ll be fine, just do as you’re asked and don’t elaborate. They’ll ask leading questions because they want you to say certain things. But you’re not on trial. It’s more like the Victorian court system than the modern Muggle one, so not all that into evidence.”

“Thanks Hermione.”

“Right that’s you all,” Simmons interrupted before he could be given any more advice. “Let’s get a move on we have a Ministry schedule to work with here.” Simmons led them to the main staircase where they met with students from the other houses.

“May I have your attention please.” McGonagall’s voice echoed through the space. “We will be leaving shortly but before that you will be put into groups. You will stay in that group for the whole day with no exceptions. I will call out your names now.

Harry found himself in a group with the Weasleys and Dudley, he couldn’t complain. Professor Flitwick who was also attending was put in charge of their group. Harry wasn’t sure if it was because of his presence or the fact that they were the main witnesses that they were given a teacher when the other groups were under the command of prefects.

“Now if you would please follow me to the school gates where an Auror is waiting with a portkey to transport us to the Ministry. Once we are in place you will be provided with your school work and there will be no opportunity to misplace it.” She gave them a knowing look.

“Well she’s got out number,” Fred muttered as the started out of the hall and down to the gate. Harry tried to smile but his stomach was churning last time he’d used a portkey it had been to flee from the cemetery with Cedric’s body.

He knew that it was going to be different this time, there were nearly thirty students going, Voldemort was in the school and they had an Auror with them who thankfully wasn’t Moody. Harry was certain he would never trust the man near a portkey even if it hadn’t been him last time, the mental association was too much.

“First time using a portkey?” Flitwick asked as they got near the waiting Auror.

“Yeah,” Dudley answered for them.

“Well not to worry it’s not too bad just a bit dizzying and I wouldn’t bother trying to land on your feet. More than five people on a portkey always turns into a game of skittles.”

“Worse than apperating?” Harry asked trying to mask his unease, it would be good practice for the court.

“No squeezing, many find it more comfortable, but it’s an expensive way to travel and the permits can be slow to be approved.”

“Oh, that’s good, not the expensive bit though.”

“Still there’s a reason you’re all not getting breakfast until after you arrive,” Flitwick added with a mischievous grin.

“Come on now gather round, hold on tight,” McGonagall ordered as a length of rope was unfurled and woven through the group. “Is everybody holding on tightly?”

A chorus of voices all called out affirmatives and then they were hooked them up and spun through the air. Harry was certain at one point he collided with Oliver on the other end of the rope but before he could figure it out, he found himself being landed upon by Dudley and Ron.

“I’m not doing that again,” his cousin groaned while being pulled to his feet by Percy who was already fussing over his uniform.

“I’m afraid you will be on the way back this evening, I wonder if I can convince Minerva to let me apparate,” Flitwick mused looking at the pile of tangled limbs and rope.

“Up you get quickly now,” McGonagall chided them. “We have to get to the room put aside for us.

They were led to their designated room which seemed to be an antechamber to the main courtroom. An array of breakfast foods were spread out along a table at one side of the room.

“Well then settle yourselves in. Food is on the table, toilets are through the plain door, the courtroom through the fancy one and the hallway through the one we entered, which we shall not use unless a dire emergency occurs,” McGonagall said as she headed towards the pastries.

***

It was incredibly boring, Harry discovered sitting in the magical equivalent of a conference room. The pile of school books had been provided and Harry had browsed through them listlessly.

He wasn’t the only one, McGonagall had been drawn into a lively debate on quidditch with Oliver and some of the other older students. Ron had found a chess set and was playing against any willing opponent and the twins were holding an exploding snap tournament which even Percy was joining in with. Flitwick was chairing a debate with several others.

Lunch, sandwiches and other finger food had come and gone and they were still not being called into the courtroom. It was beginning to feel a bit like a waste of time.

“Err, could group one come with me please?” A pink haired woman in Auror robes asked from the door way. The room froze and looked back at the woman who flushed slightly at the attention, her hair looked like it went redder to match her blush.

“Right, come on you lot with me,” Gordon the head boy announced getting up from where he’d been debating, several others followed him and the Auror out the room.

An hour passed and some more snacks arrived but the members of group one didn’t. Shortly after the same woman returned and group two was called away. When it was time for group three to leave Professor McGonagall left with them.

“Are they not coming back?” Ron asked looking at his half-finished chess game, his most recent opponent having being called away.

“They’re going to another room, so they don’t come back and influence you with their account of what happens,” Flitwick replied.

“So, more waiting.”

“I’m afraid so Mr Weasley, we’re the last group to go so if you wish I’ll play you,” Ron perked up at that and reset the board.

“I thought we were just restating our statements,” Harry said to Percy. “Why go to the hassle of keeping us apart we’ve been in school together for nearly a month.”

“I suppose it’s routine or they’re asking for something specific. Try not to worry about it and just do what they ask but nothing more,” he repeated Hermione’s advice.

While Harry vaguely got why he was being cautioned not to say more than he was asked for he could also see why they had all these injustices when nobody was speaking up.

Eventually it was their turn and Harry trailed after the Auror through the fancy door and down another corridor and into a large circular room with elevated benches seating a host of wizards and witches most of whom were in purple robes.

In the centre sat three metal chairs binding Pettigrew, Snape and Sirius in chains. It was the courtroom he’d seen in the pensive, the one they used to try the Death Eaters.

Harry heard the gasps from the Weasleys. Harry glanced back unsure of what had caught their attention and was surprised to find Percy pushing Harry behind him. They were staring as they saw who was sitting in the chairs

That’s when Harry realised that they didn’t know that Snape and Sirius were also going to be on trial too. The DMLE had kept a lid on things and the Daily Prophet had only reported that other associated criminals would be brought on trial today. They didn’t know Sirius was innocent and Percy was trying to protect him.

They were ushered into a row of benches up a flight of steps. Once they were on the steps all the sounds of the courtroom ceased, they were behind silencing wards.

“Harry,” Percy, said urgently from where he was sitting beside him. “The man with long dark hair beside Snape is Sirius Black, he was the one who betrayed your parents to You-Know-Who.”

“Why’s he here?” Ron asked before Harry could say anything.

“I’m not sure but I don’t recall his first trial,” Flitwick murmured from where he was sitting. “Try and keep your composure boys you’re under scrutiny here.”

Harry glanced out and saw that most of the room was watching them. Some of the purple crowd were going so far as to point at them, the spectacle of having Black before them obviously having worn off in the presence of a new public figure.

The Headmaster stood out in orange pinstriped robes from where he was sitting amongst a group on none purple robed wizards. Harry recognised Fudge from his green bowler hat and beside him was lady all in pink. All in all, they made a rather garish group.

Snape was glowering at him from his chair, Pettigrew was attempting to look as pathetic as possible in an attempt to gain sympathy but only gaining Harry’s scorn. But Sirius he looked desperate, frantic and so hopeful; he didn’t take his eyes of Harry even as things in the courtroom progressed.

“Would Fredrick Weasley please come with me?” A rather nondescript man asked. Startling them from their return scrutiny. With a quick glance at the others Fred followed him along the raised bench to the podium at the end where he sat down.

The chair lit up with a soft light. “What’s that, is that the honesty charm Professor Sprout talked about?” Ron asked.

“It is, don’t worry it doesn’t hurt, not even if you lie it only changes colour.”

It was like watching a muted television show. They could see all the reactions but couldn’t hear what was being said to cause them. They had told them that they would only be asked a few questions if at all but after fifteen minutes Fred was still sitting at the podium. He was more focused than Harry had ever seen and that included the time Ginny had been taken into the chamber.

“Do you think Black’s presence is the reason it took so long for us to brought in?” Dudley asked and Harry was glad for the distraction unable to stand the silence any longer.

“Most likely. Although Snape’s presence would also need to be accounted for,” Flitwick replied.

“Do you know them sir?” Percy was the one to break the silence.

“Oh, yes I taught all three of them, but I do believe that our friend over there wishes us to be quiet,” The courtroom usher was giving them a very firm look.

Fred stood up and was led out the podium to the bench on the other side where he sat alone. “George Weasley.” They watched the same silent tableau play out a second time.

“Dudley Dursley,” they all startled as the usher called for Dudley. Harry guessed he wasn’t the only one who had assumed the Weasley family were going first.

If they thought that a long time had been spent on the twins, they were in for a surprise at how long they spent questioning Dudley.

“You know, your cousin may have just single handily doubled the amount of time the Wizengamot has spent listening to Muggle-born students.” Flitwick muttered after half an hour had gone past.

“Is that good?” Harry asked, he was worried that Dudley had let something slip that he shouldn’t have. The non-expansive questioning would hopefully serve them well in that regard at least.

“It will be making some bigots uncomfortable,” Flitwick looked out at the assembled great and allegedly good. “It’ll be good for them.”

“Harry Potter.” He glanced to the side as saw Dudley was sitting with the twins. He got up and walked carefully to the podium. The possibility of tripping hadn’t crossed his mind until this moment but now he could barely manage to put one foot in front of the other.

As he stepped into the podium, he heard the rustle on several hundred people trying to sit quietly in one room.

“Please sit down.” Harry did as he was told and felt a surge of magic wrap around him. He struggled to keep his expression calm as him magic rose up to meet the foreign intrusion. “It’s an honesty charm, relax into it.”

It was easier said than done, he managed to forget about the audience as he tried to broker a truce between himself and a chair. That achieved he looked up to a waiting room.

“Heir Potter, I am Madame Bones the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I have some questions for you, do you consent to this.” She was sitting in a separate podium slightly to his left and Harry had to turn slightly to see her.

“Yes Ma’am,” Harry felt the chair warm, but the light didn’t flicker so he ignored it.

“First please state your name and date of birth for the record.”

Harry took a deep breath, why was it he always forgot his date of birth when asked. “Harry James Potter, thirty first of July nineteen eighty.” The chair stayed content.

“Thank you. Could you please recount the events of the first of September nineteen ninety-one between ten thirty and eleven?”

Harry then carefully described the events reading the magic of the chair to make sure that nothing was going to give him away. His answers seemed to be going down well, his speed giving him an air of calm and consideration which he may not have manged otherwise.

“Did you know the animagus was in the pocket?”

He had to be careful here, “This was the first time I met the Weasleys” the chair accepted this as a truth, “I had no idea the animagus was in Ron’s front pocket when I met them.” Hoping is different to knowing after all and it took a few minutes to spot the creature.

“Did you know the animagus know as Peter Pettigrew?”

Harry hesitated. “Theoretically.”

“Could you please explain what you mean?”

Why couldn’t they leave it vague like he’d been warned they tended to do. “His name was mentioned in my parents will.” A murmur of voices broke out Harry glanced around and saw Dumbledore frowning at him.

“Would you allow this to be repeated in the court?” Madam Bones asked and Harry realised he was frowning hadn’t he already agreed; Bones gave him an encouraging look.

“Yes.” A paper aeroplane flew across to Madame Bones. She unfolded it, read it and then set it on fire.

“Heir Potter is not on trial he is a witness; I will not be indulging any of your whims where the boy is concerned. Harry caught Dumbledore flush with anger. “Heir Potter could you please tell me any memories you have associated with the three men before you?”

This wasn’t what Harry expected, he’d also have to say something about each of them or the chair might give them away. He also had to get it right to make Sirius look as innocent as he was.

“I saw Pettigrew at the station when he was a rat before he was revealed to be a Death Eater, but not for long.” The chair was happy with his reply. “I also first saw Snape on the first of September at the school sorting feast, I never had a lesson with him. I think I can remember Black from before my parents died there was cat and a broom, maybe a broken vase.”

It was a hazy memory and yet magic was accepting it as true. Sirius had tears running down his face giving further proof to its validity.

“Thank you Heir Potter I can’t think of anything more to ask you.” The clamour of voices suggested that other people could, but Bones had already ended the possibility of him being asked.

“This way,” it was the usher again waving him towards Dudley and the twins. He got up carefully and headed to them. There weren’t any silencing wards on this side of the podium.

“Was it so disjointed for you too?” Harry whispered once he was sitting with them.

“Yeah, we had more questions on Snape and Scabbers though,” Fred muttered back.

“It’s because we’re only witnesses and there are three of them, need to give reason for their inclusion in the trial I reckon so they ask random questions. They’ll likely be more thorough when they interrogate them,” George agreed nodding towards the three chairs.

Percy was brought next to the chair. They heard him describe events at the train station. It sounded much like when Harry had described it and probably everybody else.

“Can you describe how you got Scabbers the rat and what he was like?” Percy’s questioning seemed to be shaping up to be like that of his brothers.

“I found him in the garden, I wanted a pet and I asked my parents and they said maybe, but only after they checked him over. Dumbledore was there and did the check and said that he was healthy. I named him and kept good care of him. He didn’t do a lot, I assumed he was a common garden rat. When It was time for me to go to Hogwarts, Dumbledore came by and gave me an exemption to bring him to Hogwarts. He mostly stayed in my dorm room. I didn’t bring him to class as if figured it would distress him and he was an old rat. I was given an owl for my birthday this year and was ready to leave him at home, but my mother said Dumbledore suggested I give him to Ron to give him a sense of responsibility. I was hesitant, I assumed he was close to dying and having his pet pass away would be bad for Ron.”

Harry looked around and saw that Dumbledore was getting lots of dark looks, Fudge has shuffled away from him and was almost sitting in the pink lady’s lap.

Percy was holding his nerve but not quite meeting Dumbledore’s furious look.

“Did you find anything suspicious about the rat?” Bones asked.

“Not beyond how long he lived, but even then, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that my parents didn’t slip in a replacement after the first died.”

“Do you know Peter Pettigrew?”

“I’ve heard of him, that he was a wizard who was killed by Sirius Black at the end of the war and was given an Order of Merlin. Or so the books said.” Percy said looking at Pettigrew where he sat giving Percy pleading looks. Percy gave him a dark look and turned back to Madame Bones ready for the next question.

“Do you Know Sirius Black?”

“I read that he was in Azkaban for betraying the Potters to You-Know-Who and that he killed Pettigrew and twelve Muggles when blowing up a street.” Sirius looked both gutted and furious at the accusation.

“And finally, what can you tell me about Snape?”

“He was the potions master at Hogwarts and the head of Slytherin house when I started. I attended lessons with him for four years. He was not fond of me or my housemates and took delight in penalising us for imagined slights. I complained about his behaviour and nothing happened apart from him becoming more hostile towards me.”

That, Harry thought was another very damning account for Dumbledore. The Weasleys didn’t come over too badly, maybe just a bit gullible. Then Percy was sitting with them and a pale Ron was being called up to give his statement.

Like with all the rest of them Bones began with having Ron describe events at the train station. His account of Scabbers being brought into the Weasley household was similar but not as detailed as Percy’s. It was also less damning of Dumbledore, but nowhere near the hero worship of the first timeline.

Harry thought that after Ron was freed from testifying, they would all be shuffled off to the antechamber with the rest of the groups so he was rather surprised that Flitwick was next to sit before the court.

“Did you witness the events of September the first.” Bones asked after having Flitwick confirm his identity.

“No.”

“Did you witness the rat known as Scabbers around school?”

“No.” Flitwick took the brevity of answering far more serious than anybody yet.

“Did you know he was in the school?”

“The headmaster informed the staff of the exception he had granted for the rat on the chance that we came across it. I was asked by Professor McGonagall toward the dormitories to ensure no cat could enter and eat the rat, however the headmaster did this before I could.”

“Did you know of Snape’s affiliation and attitude?”

“I knew he was in a bad crowd at school; however, he was a half-blood who was immensely attached to Lily Potter nee Evans, I wasn’t aware he was marked. The Headmaster and board of governors vouched for him and they also quashed any complaints about Snape.”

“Did you know Pettigrew?”

“I taught him for a number of years until he passed his OWLs. He was never a phenomenal charms student or a stand out member of the school body. He was often in the shadow of Potter and Black.”

“How well did you know Black?”

“He was a student for seven years and a presence within the school, I oversaw many of his detentions for light hearted mischief that boys are known for.” Flitwick seemed to be vouching for Sirius, had the bank warned him or was he just more observant than most of the wizarding world.

“Thank you I have no more questions.” Flitwick left the podium and walked towards them, rather than stop he kept walking.

“This way boys,” he muttered as he walked past them. They trooped out behind him.

“Ahh, you’re here, dinner will be brought in shortly.” McGonagall said when she saw them enter. Harry glanced at the clock on the wall, it was nearly six. “We’ll be in here for a little bit to let the crowds settle although I hope we’ll beat the Prophet.”

As promised the buffet dinner turned up. But Harry wasn’t hungry; he wanted to run back through the fancy door and hug Sirius and let him know that he believed in his innocence and that he wanted to be in his life. But he couldn’t. He choked down a sausage roll under Percy’s watchful eye.

“Did you know?” Percy muttered to him once they’d eaten a bit more. Harry gave him a confused look. “About Black?”

“Yeah, Bones let McGonagall know so I could be warned.” Percy nodded.

“Good. I don’t think things are quite what we thought they were. In fact, I would be very careful what you say. Hopefully the Prophet has more information because we are terribly uniformed despite being the ones here.”

“I think that’s the plan.”

“Probably.” Percy looked disgusted at the thought. “Oh well we’ve done our part now we just have to hope they follow through.”


Related Posts

Izzy Hound

In an attempt to escape from my academic writing I took up a hobby ... writing. Like all crafters, no matter the medium, I soon found myself getting buried under the products of my creativity. So in the time honoured practice of all crafters, I started sharing my work. Whether you want it or not, you're getting it and just be thankful you don't know me in person or else you'd be getting another handmade scarf for Christmas.

4 Comments:

  1. That horrible, rat bastard, meddling old ARSEHOLE!!! Fan of Fumbledore I am NOT at the best of times. And this is NOT the best of times!

    Excellent fic!

  2. Great second chapter! Thank you.

  3. Oooh, court intrigue. Always exciting! I really enjoyed reading about the court scene, and the detail you put into it. I don’t think anyone’s ever gone to the trouble of explaining how witnesses are treated during a trial, so thank you for laying it all out. It felt very authentic. Also, very big damned clue: a student’s familiar shouldn’t need an exception. It’s no wonder that school is so dangerous. The adults never pay attention when it matters!

  4. Another great chapter. Dumbledore checking out Scabbers as a pet for Percy and vouching for him with Mr and Mrs Weasley seems very suspicious. As well as suggesting that he be passed on to Ron to be brought to Hogwarts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.