Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Starfox5, Apr 23, 2016.
I think the reference here is to how Dumbledore fully expected Harry to die in canon.
Chapter 36: Failed Plans
‘The Night of the Dead has been the subject of much speculation among both historians and the public. Why did the Dark Lord wait until his coup had failed to cast this curse? Wouldn’t his forces have won the Battle of the Ministry if they had had the support of the victims of the Withering Curse? If his spell hadn’t been ready in time, why didn’t he wait a few more days? Some of my colleagues claim that it was all part of an intricate plan of his to deal with Dumbledore, the main obstacle to the Dark Lord’s goals. However, I disagree. None of the theories put forth can explain, at least not in a satisfactory manner, why he would sacrifice so many of his followers for no perceptible gain. If he had done so to lull Dumbledore into a false sense of security, as the most popular theory goes, then why had he struck so hard at Dumbledore during their duel in Hogsmeade?
No, I am of the opinion that the Dark Lord didn’t want to resort to such a measure because he was aware of the consequences of using houngan magic. It was only after his efforts to appeal to the pureblood population had seemingly failed that he abandoned them and prepared to rule through fear. Undoubtedly, the Night of the Dead, which itself was an imprecise name based upon a common misconception of houngan magic, struck fear and horror into the very heart of Wizarding Britain.’
- Excerpt from ‘The Second Blood War’ by Hyacinth Selwyn
Hogwarts, January 19th, 1997
Harry Potter had stared at the body, had seen the flames slowly spread, the hole his Reductor Curse had opened in the boy’s chest bleeding, the stump of his arm, bleeding as well, his leg, the cursed, leathery one, twitching still. He had killed Colin Creevey. A boy who had revered him. He had barely noticed Fleur arriving - had the whole fight been so quick that she hadn’t managed to reach the room in time to intervene?
Then Luna had screamed, panicking, about her father, and he had whirled around. Xenophilius had been bleeding, hit by a bullet in the chest, Harry realised, and Luna had been desperately trying to help him, casting spell after spell while blood continued to flow from the hole in the man’s chest. She had been trembling, crying, but hadn’t given up. Xenophilius’s breathing had made a horrible sound, with more blood flowing from his mouth. The man’s lung had been hit, Harry had thought, and he had rushed to help Luna. His own spells had worked better, but the wounds had been so extensive - the bullet had gone through the man, leaving a far larger hole in his back - that Xenophilius would have died anyway, if not for Pomfrey’s arrival.
He had held Luna while the matron had saved the man’s life with spells and potions - and Colin’s body had burned behind them. None of them had noticed the stench. Not until Xenophilius’s wounds had been closed and Pomfrey had levitated him out of his blood-soaked bed.
By then, more victims of this attack had arrived, Ron among them! Colin’s body had been quickly moved to another room, joining two others. And Sirius had taken him away, to have him checked for injuries and curses.
That was the room in which Harry was now standing as he stared at the blanket covering the dead boy. He could still smell the burned flesh, and the blood, despite the spells that had cleaned and preserved the bodies. Or so he thought.
The door opened behind him, and he shifted, turning. Just in case.
Hermione stood there, and behind her, Ron.
His friend was looking a bit pale still, Harry noticed, and he sounded just a bit hesitant: “Sirius told us you were here.”
Harry nodded. His godfather hadn’t wanted to leave him, but he was needed, now more than ever, with the Minister dead. Harry had realised that, even if his godfather hadn’t.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Hermione said, stepping inside.
“I didn’t recognise him. He blinded me with a grenade.”
“Flashbang,” Hermione said.
Harry ignored her correction and went on, looking at the body again. “He was shooting at me, and at the Lovegoods. He’d have killed us, if I hadn’t stopped him.” He took a deep breath. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I killed him. I should have stunned him.” They had stunned Dennis, after all.
“He’d have taken a few Stunners, mate,” Ron said. “He might have killed you if you had tried that. Or he might have killed Luna and her father - he came close, didn’t he?” Harry’s friend rubbed his side, a reminder that he, too, had had a close call. If the bullet had hit a bit closer...
“He was mind-controlled by Voldemort,” Harry said. “It wasn’t his fault.”
“And neither was it yours. You did what you had to. It’s Voldemort’s fault,” Ron said. “Besides, Hermione is blaming herself.”
“What?” Harry frowned at the witch.
“I should have expected something like this. At least thought of the possibility,” Hermione said.
“Dumbledore didn’t expect it either,” Ron cut in. “No one expected the Dark Lord to use houngan magic. Which I told you already.”
“It’s not quite clear if it actually is houngan magic,” she said.
“Turning people into zombies certainly sounds like it,” Ron said. “It fits the stories about the war in the Caribbean.”
“They’re not exactly undead,” Harry said, “they’re alive but mind-controlled.”
“With the withered limbs providing the link to the Dark Lord,” Hermione said.
“Creepy,” Ron said. “Dennis’s arm was still moving, even though he was out.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “The snakes!”
“What?” Ron said, drawing his wand. Hermione had already taken a step to the side and turned, to guard their back.
“The snakes Voldemort sent after me and Dumbledore. I noticed that one of them had a dried-up tail. I thought it had been the fire, back then, but now…” Harry trailed off.
“Maybe that had been a test,” Hermione said. “We’re still not certain how detailed Voldemort’s orders are, or were. But as far as we can tell, all of his victims started attacking others at the same time. We haven’t been able to interrogate them, yet.”
“Colin and Dennis split up,” Ron said. “Dennis started attacking any student he saw, and Colin attacked you.”
“He’s been obsessed with me since he started at Hogwarts,” Harry said, and regretted it at once. Colin had been annoying as a first-year, but he had grown up.
“If Voldemort had wanted to kill you, wouldn’t he have sent them both together after you?” Hermione nibbled on her lower lip. “That might indicate that he can’t actually give such orders.”
“He could order all of his victims to fight,” Ron said.
“But they attacked without coordination,” she said. “He might have been limited to blanket orders - like ‘attack the Ministry’.”
“The Creeveys didn’t attack the Ministry, though,” Harry said. “So, he had to be able to split the orders.”
Hermione wrinkled her nose, then shook her head. “Not necessarily. He might have simply ordered them to attack his enemies, and leave them to execute the order as they saw fit. Colin saw you as Voldemort’s biggest enemy, which might explain why he attacked you.”
“Maybe.” Harry thought that was just speculation. “He shot Xenophilius too, though.”
“That might have been a stray bullet, or a ricochet,” Hermione said. “I think if Colin had wanted to kill him, he’d have shot him several times. We certainly trained for that.”
Harry refrained from commenting that that training almost led to his own death - it hadn’t been her fault. Though his friend would probably not believe it.
Not that he could blame her - he couldn’t help feeling guilty himself.
Ron Weasley felt like hexing both his girlfriend and his best friend. They were still blaming themselves! He took a deep breath - he could lose his temper right now - and rubbed his side. Pomfrey had said he should rest a day or two.
“Not even Dumbledore expected this,” he began. “There was no way you could have expected this. No one ever heard of something like this being possible.”
“There were tales of houngans controlling people,” Hermione said, her jaw set.
“Not like this. Not from afar.” At least Ron thought so.
“Still…” She bit her lower lip.
“You can’t think of everything. No one can. It wasn’t your fault.”
Hermione slowly nodded.
Ron didn’t think she was convinced, but hopefully it helped, he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her close for a moment, Then he turned to his friend.“And it’s not your fault either, Harry. You were surprised, blinded, deafened, and almost killed.”
“I still should have used a Stunner,” Harry said, frowning.
“You know what Moody said about Stunners.”
“That they’re great when facing a single enemy?” Harry snorted.
“You didn’t know there was only one,” Ron shot back. “And you know what happens if we assume there’s only one.” That had been a very painful lesson.
“Technically, there were two,” Hermione added. “They just split up.”
“You saved Luna and her dad,” Ron went on. “There was no time for you to wait until you could recognise him, and make certain there was only one of them.”
“I didn’t actually look for more enemies after he was dead. I went to save Xenophilius,” Harry said.
“And Moody will not be happy about that,” Ron said. “But you did save lives.”
“Doesn’t make killing Colin right,” Harry muttered.
“It wasn’t right, but it wasn’t your fault.” Ron reached out with his free arm and pulled Harry into a hug with himself and Hermione. His friend stiffened, but didn’t resist, and Ron could feel him gradually relax.
They remained like that for some time.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 20th, 1997
Albus Dumbledore had to hand it to Tom - this curse had been a masterstroke. Both in the timing of its use, and the effects it would have. It had been bad enough to see so many Ministry employees and even Wizengamot members struck with withered, dead limbs. But now, after it had been revealed that they could be controlled by the Dark Lord and even ordered to attack their own families… Tom’s leverage on the families of the victims, not to mention on the victims themselves, was too great.
He straightened up from where he had been bent over Bertie’s unconscious form, which was secured to a bed in the bowels of the Ministry, ignoring the slight pain that caused to his back, and holstered his wand.
“Ingenious!” Next to him, Saul Croaker, the Head of the Department of Mysteries, was still moving his wand through complicated spells. “He used the dead limb as a conduit to control the body! He found a way to use spells meant to control the undead to control the living! Even the Thief’s Downfall only removes an existing compulsion, but will not remove the withering curse that serves as the base curse, allowing the Dark Lord to retake control of the victim anytime he chooses!”
Albus suppressed a sigh. It figured that the Unspeakables couldn’t be bothered to actually get involved in the war until a new kind of magic had been discovered. “It is based upon houngan spells.”
“Are you certain?” Saul sounded as if he was frowning behind the magic hiding his face. “I think there are some similarities to the work Grindelwald did on Inferi.”
“Trust me,” Albus said, with more tension in his voice than could be blamed on his lack of sleep, “It is not related to Grindelwald’s studies.” He was quite familiar with the spells Gellert had created. “It is definitely based upon houngan magic.”
Saul was cocking his head slighty. He had done that as a student too. “I see. Your excursion in ’61?”
“Yes. As you deduced, it stems from their ways to control the dead, not the living.” Albus had had to teach the masters of the Magical Caribbean that trying to expand their fiefdoms into North America had consequences they couldn’t afford. Fortunately, he had had a lot of experience dealing with Inferi from the war with Gellert. “I destroyed enough of their creations to know that.”
“I would have expected them to use their zombies, not their Inferi. They are, after all, famous for having many muggle villages ready to fight for them when in need.”
Albus was reminded that for all his brilliance as a spellcrafter and researcher, Saul was neither a politician nor a strategist. “Using mind-controlled muggles in such numbers to conquer North American Wizard Enclaves would have threatened the Statute of Secrecy, in light of the political situation in the muggle world.” Of which Saul, like so many purebloods, was ignorant.
“Ah.” Albus’s friend nodded. “But you did attack their homes too.”
“The homes of a few, select houngans,” Albus said. “And I managed to surprise them, so they were unable to call upon their zombies.” Those not already serving them in their homes, at least. The fighting hadn’t been clean, but it could have been worse. And their practice of kidnapping muggleborn children on vacation in the Caribbean had, if not ended, at least lessened a great deal.
Saul, of course, only cared about the magical aspects. “But still… how could the Dark Lord control a living, ensouled being, even if one limb was dead, with a spell controlling dead bodies? And the bodies of wizards, to boot? That goes against Gunther’s theory.”
“Yes,” Albus said, nodding, “that is the question.” Gunther’s theory had not been proven, but neither had it been disproven ever since it had been formulated, decades ago. “Once we know this, we can cure them. Or at least prevent the Dark Lord from controlling his victims.”
“Yes, yes.” Saul was staring at Bertie. “We’ll need to experiment.”
“With the utmost care,” Albus said. His tone carried enough of a threat to even make Saul, who was caught up in the research already, take notice.
“Of course, of course.” Albus’s friend made a dismissive gesture with his free hand.
Albus felt not quite as guilty as he probably should at knowing that Saul’s research would make Tom consider him an enemy. It might even put the whole department firmly into the Ministry’s camp, though the Headmaster was quite certain that the Dark Lord had spies among the Unspeakables as well, and would know that, as a whole, the Department of Mysteries was still focused only on research, and safeguarding those magics too dangerous to see the light of day.
A policy Albus doubted Tom would let the Department continue, should he win the war.
“Acting Minister.” Amelia greeted Albus with a nod when he entered her office.
“Amelia.” He nodded back and sank into the seat in front of her desk. He had never sought the position, had taken pains to discourage any speculation about it, even, and yet here he was - as Chief Warlock, he was Cornelius’s successor until another Minister could be elected. As tragic as the reason was, it also facilitated certain things. “What’s the situation with the victims of the withering curse?”
Amelia’s lips formed a slight frown. “As ordered, we have taken those we could find into custody. As far as we can tell, the majority of them are now secure.”
Most of them would have been captured in the Ministry, attacking it, Albus knew.
“But a few have been reported as missing by their families,” Amelia continued. Her frown deepened.
“I think it is rather unlikely that the Dark Lord has told them to go into hiding.” He would not call them to his base either.
“Yes.” Amelia glanced at him. “I suspect that they are being hidden by their own families.”
Out of shame, or because they didn’t trust the Ministry to save them. Or because they were ready to make a deal with the Dark Lord. Albus didn’t have to lay that out; Amelia was already aware of that possibility. “That cannot be helped. But we have the vast majority of them in custody. At least of the survivors.”
“My Aurors and Hit-Wizards were protecting the Ministry. That was their duty, and I’ll not punish them for choosing not to risk their own lives, and those of their co-workers, to save the attackers.” Amelia stared at him.
“I am not about to condemn them for it, either.” Albus would have been a hypocrite for doing so, after assuring Harry that he was not to blame. Or more of a hypocrite - he knew his sins. “I was just remarking on the tragic loss of life, so close on the heels of the Battle of the Ministry.”
“Yes. Which has sent morale plummeting. Even my veterans are expecting another blow to come soon. We can only hope that this was the Dark Lord’s last surprise.”
It was a faint hope, Albus knew - Tom was crafty and cunning. But… “We have gained a respite, at least, unless I am gravely mistaken. Nevertheless, we need to sedate the victims of this curse, lest they rise and attack us again at a most inconvenient time.”
Amelia sighed. “Until we know whether that will actually stop the Dark Lord from ordering them around, that will tie up more wands. Wands we need elsewhere.”
Which was, of course, part of the reason Tom had done this - to further reduce the manpower available to the Ministry. Not to mention that such a large number of helpless enemies of the Dark Lord was also a very tempting target. “It is just a temporary setback, Amelia. We will find a cure for this curse.” They had to.
The witch didn’t look as if she believed him. “And how long will that take?” She put the parchment in her hand down on her desk, forcefully enough to displace the air so much that a few paper aeroplanes were sent flying. “Can we hold out that long? And while we search for a cure, what will he be doing?”
“It will not hinder or delay my plans to destroy him,” Albus said. Not by much, at least. Harry’s training was continuing, and in a pinch, Alastor would be able to step in.
Amelia still looked doubtful. She needed more reassurances.
“Trust me. I have an… acquaintance in Jamaica.”
“A houngan?” She was frowning, but she didn’t look quite that cynical anymore.
“Yes. I met him during the troubles in the Caribbean. I think he will be able to provide me with enough information about the houngan spells used by the Dark Lord to create a cure.”
“You’ll be delving into the Dark Arts.” Amelia didn’t sound disgusted, or wary, but calculating. She sat straighter, too.
She was likely considering how to use this information at a later date, Albus thought. If she knew that he had studied the Dark Arts for much less noble purposes, with Gellert himself… he smiled gently and just a tad patronisingly. “You cannot find a remedy without understanding the disease, Amelia. Any Unspeakable will tell you the same.”
“Saul will claim anything to justify his research and experiments.” The witch scoffed.
“That does not make him wrong.” At least not when it came to his knowledge. His ethics, on the other hand… “Between myself and the Department of Mysteries, we should have a cure for this curse in short order.”
“I’ll have to take your word for it.” She leaned back in her seat.
He nodded, conceding the point. “Now, there are several positions left vacant by recent events.”
“Traditionally, filling such positions is the prerogative of an elected Minister.” She summoned the paper aeroplanes back with her wand.
“Given our circumstances, I do not think that we have the time to follow tradition,” Albus said. “A functional Ministry is now more crucial than ever.”
“Given the urgency, the Wizengamot could certainly convene quickly,” Amelia shot back.
“With so many of their number still either absent since before the battle, and therefore suspect, or afflicted by the curse? I think not.” Albus shook his head slowly. “I would not like to taint my successor’s first term by having them be elected without a properly convened Wizengamot. Certainly you can see the problems that would cause.”
Foiled by her own principles, Amelia looked like she had bitten into a particularly disgusting Every Flavour Bean, but she nodded. “Of course. So, who do you have in mind for the various positions?”
Albus noted her wording - Amelia didn’t sound as if she considered his choices final - but let it slide. She couldn’t do much to stop him now, and she knew it. He almost shook his head. A Minister for Magic needed more than a bit of flexibility, and Amelia, despite being among the favourites for the position, might prove to be too stubborn for the office.
He was facing more time spent on politics and even worse, office politics, when he should be preparing for his visit to Laron. Not for the first time, Albus deeply regretted Cornelius’s death.
Hogwarts, January 20th, 1997
Inside one of the usually unused rooms near the infirmary, Hermione Granger was staring at Dennis. Sleeping and with his wounds treated, the boy looked peaceful. He had wanted to cut his withered arm off, she remembered. And she had persuaded him and his brother to wait for a cure, instead. And now Colin was dead and Dennis had killed students for the Dark Lord.
“Are we going to give him Draught of Living Death?” Justin asked next to her.
“Dumbledore said it was the best way to keep them secure until we find a cure.” That wasn’t an answer. She sighed. “The alternative is cutting the arm off, but it’s not yet known if that will keep the Dark Lord from controlling him.” She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth. “I wish we could keep him, but we don’t have enough people left to take care of him.” With a glance to her friend, she added: “Even Seamus will understand that.” She snorted. “He certainly wouldn’t want to be stuck caring for Dennis if he could be fighting instead.”
“Probably,” Justin said. “Will we ask him what he wants?” He nodded at Dennis.
“Could we trust it was him and not the puppet of the Dark Lord talking?” Hermione glanced at Justin and saw him flinch just a bit. “We don’t know enough about this curse. Dumbledore and the Unspeakables are researching it.”
“Can we trust them?”
“We are trusting Dumbledore. The Unspeakables?” She shook her head. “But there are too many purebloods suffering from this curse. They won’t be able to abuse this to get to us.”
“Mary-Jane has still not been taken through a Thief’s Downfall,” Justin pointed out. “Despite Dumbledore’s promises.”
“The situation at the Ministry was too volatile for him to risk a leak by the goblins. So he said.” Hermione shrugged. “Now that Dumbledore is the acting Minister, we can move her through the one at the Ministry.”
“Will we recruit her?”
Odds were that the witch would be another Seamus - or worse. After what the Aurors had done to her, though, it was understandable. Hermione sighed. “I think so. We can keep an eye on her that way.” She didn’t have to say that there wouldn’t be another Allan on their watch. Justin had been there with her when they had interrogated that monster.
“Why did he attack the students?” Justin took a few steps towards Dennis, but stopped a yard away.
“I don’t know.” She shook her head. “I heard that Voldemort ordered the cursed to ‘strike at his enemies’, but left it up to them how to execute the order.”
“So, he picked random massacres?” Justin sounded sceptical.
“Or he had some plan. We won’t know until we can talk to him.” She wasn’t looking forward to that - Dennis would be devastated once he realised what he had done. “And that will likely be a while. We’re not going to treat him like a captured enemy.”
“If they are really using Draught of Living Death on all of the cursed, then it won’t be long before half of Wizarding Britain will be in a magical slumber,” Justin said.
“It’s better than the alternative.” Hermione looked at him. “Imagine if the Dark Lord orders them to kill themselves.”
The words Justin muttered under his breath would have done the Sergeant proud.
Hogwarts, January 20th, 1997
Albus Dumbledore had barely returned to Hogwarts and eaten the meal the elves had prepared for him when Severus appeared before the gargoyle guarding the entrance to the Headmaster’s office. For a moment, Albus was tempted to pretend he was still at the Ministry, dealing with the aftermath of the recent events. He had craved some rest, or at least, a bit of quiet. Fawkes, who was still barely bigger than a freshly burned phoenix, had certainly acted as if Albus was in dire need of comfort. But needs must, he thought, sighing, and let the younger wizard enter.
“Good evening, Severus.”
“Albus.” Severus was stiff and tense, Albus saw, when the other man sat down.
The Headmaster knew the reason for this visit. He sighed. “I haven’t been able to find a volunteer, yet, Severus. The Ministry is in shambles, so many have been lost… I’ve been dealing with a myriad of things today.”
Severus nodded. “I know. But with all those deaths, it shouldn’t be hard to find a wizard or witch who has lost everyone they care about, and is willing to risk everything for a chance at revenge.”
Like Severus himself, Albus knew. His friend was correct, though - and unlikely to accept excuses. “There are a number of poor souls who lost their families, yes.”
“Pick the least useful then. Preferably some dunderhead with a smarter half-blood heir.” The younger wizard’s sneer was full of loathing and bitterness, and old wounds. His mother had been disinherited by her parents. “I trust you already have thought about such matters.”
Albus winced - his friend knew him too well. While he had not planned to act on such calculations, or so he liked to think, he knew a few wizards who, who, while firmly opposed to Voldemort, would not be very helpful in the time after the Dark Lord’s defeat. He hesitated a moment, then slowly inclined his head. What was another sin, piled up onto his numerous others? “Balthasar Brinden. His son was cursed in the Ministry, and killed Brinden’s wife before dying at his father’s hand.”
The smile on Severus face was so satisfied and cruel, seeing it hurt Albus almost more than knowing his friend would soon be dead.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 21st, 1997
The Ministry might officially be an ally now, but Hermione Granger wasn’t about to trust the Aurors or Hit-Wizards. The Resistance entered the Atrium with weapons and wands ready, with John levitating the stunned and bound Mary-Jane Wilton in their midst.
Two of the guards at the fireplaces confronted them. Hermione thought she recognised one of them - a Hufflepuff, two years above her. And the Auror apparently in command didn’t look that much older. At least his voice didn’t crack when he asked, “What is the meaning of this?”, but he sounded quite nervous.
Hermione used her best ‘command voice’, as the Major called it. “Imperius victim. We’re taking her through the Thief’s Downfall, on the order of Minister Dumbledore.”
Whether it was her tone, the Resistance’s reputation, or - as she suspected - the Minister’s name, it did the trick, and the Auror stepped aside. “Ah… alright.”
She passed the two wizards with a nod and walked up to the Thief’s Downfall, set up in an empty door frame, like a metal detector. A number of the wizards and witches working on repairing the damage to the Atrium were staring at her and the others. A few even fled further into the Ministry. She heard Seamus chuckle behind her as she stepped through the magical waterfall. Hermione didn’t share Seamus’s mirth, though. As satisfying as it might feel to see those who had worked to persecute the muggleborns shy away in fear, it didn’t bode well for the future - both for the immediate future, when they would have to work together to defeat the Dark Lord, and for the time after the war.
But she had to focus on their current mission, which was to finally free Mary-Jane from the Imperius. Which, fortunately, was the work of just a few seconds. A minute later, and the rest of the Resistance had passed through the waterfall as well, and cast spells to dry and clean their weapons and themselves.
“Alright, let’s head back!” Hermione said. There was no reason to linger. Justin and Sally-Anne were bringing up the rear this time.
But before the group reached the closest fireplace, a wizard stepped out of it, followed by another. She recognised them at once. Arthur Weasley and his son, Percy.
“Hermione!” The wizard greeted her.
His son nodded at her and the others. “Hermione. Mister Finnigan. Miss Dennel.”
“Mister Weasley. Percy.” She nodded at them. “I’m glad to see you have recovered.” She truly was. She turned to Justin. “Justin, take the rest to Hogwarts. John can stay with me,” she added, before he could protest.
“Alright.” Justin didn’t sound too pleased, but he nodded at her.
Mister Weasley’s warm smile turned into a puzzled one when he noticed the floating and bound Mary-Jane pass him. “What happened?”
“She was under the Imperius, so we took her through the Thief’s Downfall,” she explained.
“Ah.” He slowly nodded, then blinked. “But why is she still stunned?”
Hermione noticed that Percy winced - he had probably recognised the girl. She sighed. “She was imperiused by Aurors, some time ago, to trap us. We don’t want her to wake up in the middle of the Ministry.” The witch deserved privacy for that.
“Oh, I remember that. Dreadful affair.” Mister Weasley sighed loudly. “That Amelia would allow that…” He shook his head.
Percy scoffed. “Why wouldn’t she? As long as the Wizengamot says it’s legal, it’s good enough for her. I do not think she’ll change should she become the next Minister.”
That was an alarming thought. “How likely is that?” Hermione said.
“We haven’t heard much news during our convalescence,” Percy said, pursing his lips, “but before the recent events happened, she was considered the most likely successor to Minister Fudge.” He lowered his voice a bit. “Things might have changed with all the dead. Both of us have been promoted. Father’s now heading the new Office of Anti-Curse Measures and Research, and I’ve been promoted to the position of Deputy-Head of the Department of Magical Transportation.”
“Congratulations.” Hermione smiled. Dumbledore was stacking the Ministry with his people, then.
“Thank you.” Mister Weasley was beaming at her.
“Thank you.” Percy’s smile looked a bit cynical to Hermione.
“Oh, that reminds me: We’ll have to have dinner together, you, Ron and us!” Mister Weasley chuckled. “We should have asked you before, but with all the troubles, there never seemed to be a good occasion. And Molly wanted to invite you to a proper home - we’re currently just guests of Sirius. But we can eat dinner at a muggle restaurant!”
A family dinner with her boyfriend’s parents - in the middle of a civil war. Hermione certainly hadn’t expected that.
Mary-Jane didn’t scream when they woke her up, back in a private room at Hogwarts. The muggleborn witch simply started to sob and cry, curled up on her bed. Hermione raised her hand and took a step closer, then hesitated, uncertain if she should touch the girl, or if that would make things worse. Sally-Anne apparently had no such doubts, and moved to hug the other witch.
Hermione exchanged a glance with Justin, and left the room. Once outside, she leaned against the wall and closed her eyes for a moment. She remembered the time she had been under the Imperius herself, in her fourth year. She had been lost in a haze, utterly relaxed. No worries, no doubts, no thoughts of her own had crossed her mind. As if she had been drugged. And just as with drugs, once the curse had been lifted, all her doubts and fears had returned, worse than before, joined with embarrassment, shame, and the horror of remembering how helpless she had been. And she hadn’t been forced to betray her friends, and work for their murderers. She could only imagine what Mary-Jane was feeling right now.
And yet she was considering using that spell herself, if it was needed to win the war or save one of her friends.
Hogwarts, January 21st, 1997
Harry Potter ground his teeth and gripped his wand so tightly, he thought he could hear the holly crack between his fingers. He had already entered the Headmaster’s mind once this evening, and now he had to do it again - without a day to recover. His head was hurting, pain flaring up in step with his heartbeat.
He wanted to close his eyes and rest. Sleep. Give his mind time to sort out what were his memories, and what were glimpses he had caught from the Headmaster’s. But that would be giving up. And he wouldn’t do that. Everyone was counting on him to master this spell, so he could defeat - no, destroy - Voldemort once and for all. He wouldn’t, couldn’t let them down.
He raised his wand, pointed it at the Headmaster’s forehead, and spat the incantation out.
Once more the world shrank to pinpoint of light, then expanded, and Harry found himself floating in a room full of spheres of all sizes. They were moving around, some growing, some shrinking, and each was filling his ears with words and noise and sometimes music, forming a cacophony that made just thinking hard and painful.
But this was not his first time. He focused his mind, and concentrated on one of the spheres, until the rest had faded - pushed away, even. Until this sphere was all he could see, until it was large enough to swallow him, close enough to touch… and he was inside.
He found himself in the middle of a field with strange plants. Sugar cane, he realised, after a second. He could see a white mansion in the distance. It looked as if he was on a plantation - and an ancient one. Or at least an old-fashioned one. As he made his way through the field, he could see no signs of modern appliances - no antennas, no cars, no machines.
How old was Dumbledore?, he asked himself, as he stepped on a lawn - perfectly maintained, he noted with a brief glance - and started walking towards the mansion’s main entrance. He had barely covered half the distance when the massive door was blown off its hinges. A body flew out of the dust cloud the explosion had left, landing hard on the lawn. Another figure ran out of the cloud. A young man, just a few years older, at most, than Harry himself.
“Master!” the man cried, rushing to the fallen figure’s side.
“Step away from him, boy!”
Harry blinked. That was Dumbledore! But younger. And his expression… Cold and distant. He had never seen the Headmaster looking like that.
The young wizard was trembling, but raised his wand. An almost casual swish of Dumbledore’s wand disarmed him with so much force, he was thrown very nearly on top of Harry, a dozen yards back.
“You have a loyal apprentice, Mister Francis. Although I wonder just how deserving of his loyalty you are,” Dumbledore said, stepping closer to the older man, who was now feebly moving. “Did you kidnap him as well, years ago?”
Harry saw that the young man in front of him, who had been trying to get up despite a broken leg, froze when he heard that.
The other wizard - Mister Francis, Harry presumed - muttered something he couldn’t understand, then spat. He had skin darker than Dean’s, and was wearing the shredded remains of what might have been a white suit.
Dumbledore shook his head. “I told you that the times of enslaving muggleborns in the Caribbean were past. But you and your friends didn’t want to listen. People like you seldom do listen to mere words. You usually need a demonstration - or a lesson.”
Francis yelled something, and the young man flinched. Dumbledore looked at him and shook his head. “Do not waste your life trying to protect this man, boy. He’s not worth it.” Turning back to the prone wizard - houngan, Harry corrected himself - Dumbledore went on, talking in a tone as if he was discussing the weather, “I do think you and a few others of your friends will have to serve as an object lesson. To encourage, as the French are fond of saying, the rest of you to rethink your policies.”
The panting, bleeding houngan spat again, then started to yell - but Dumbledore interrupted him at once with a spell that smashed into his head with a loud crack.
“There won’t be any dying curses either, Mister Francis,” the Headmaster said. “Diffindo.”
Harry saw the head of the man roll over the lawn, trailing blood, and Dumbledore slowly picking up a wand. Behind the Headmaster, the mansion was burning. Harry blinked. That looked very familiar. He had seen that scene before, just … different. He started to walk towards the burning building, taking in the details. It looked right, and yet… it didn’t fit. The scene didn’t fit.
The closer he got, the more certain he was. The burning mansion was not real. Or had not been real. Just when he was about to touch it, it collapsed, and for a moment, Harry was floating in a dark, empty space.
Then he was back in the Headmaster’s office, kneeling on the floor, and his head hurt worse than ever. He hissed, clenching his jaw, so he’d not scream, and sucked in as much air as he could.
“Very good, Harry. You saw through one of my altered memories, and for a moment, you broke through my defenses.” Dumbledore sounded as tired as Harry felt, but he was smiling.
“It was an altered memory?” Harry managed to say while Ron helped him up and eased him back into his seat.
“Yes, it was. Inspired, so to speak, by a visit I paid to Jamaica, almost forty years ago.” Dumbledore leaned back in his seat, his gaze rising to the ceiling. “I have been thinking a lot about that visit lately, so it is not surprising that it ended up being used for your training.”
“Ah.” Harry closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. It didn’t help much.
“You have made a lot of progress. You will soon be able to penetrate the Dark Lord’s defenses. But I think you need to rest now.”
Harry started to nod in agreement, but stopped when that caused his headache to grow even worse. He couldn’t help wondering what exactly, other than the mansion, the Headmaster had altered in the memory he had seen.
Hogwarts, January 22nd, 1997
“Are you certain of this course of action?” Albus Dumbledore had to ask, even though he knew the answer. The two men standing in front of him had made up their minds, and nothing would deter them. Neither thought he had anything to live for, not any more. Albus thought that he might be able to make Balthasar change his mind, given enough time - but then, he hadn’t been able to change Severus’s, not in almost twenty years.
Predictably, both shook their heads, Balthasar with a grim expression, Severus with a faint sneer.
“Very well. I have prevailed upon Miss Granger and her friends to be ready to take down the wards, and our French friends, as well as some Order members suited for such a mission, will be joining us once we have a location.” Severus was without a doubt aware that Sirius and the Weasleys were the obvious choice, but Albus was not about to rub it in. He could do that much, at least, for his friend.
The potioneer produced a vial, and a small envelope. “A bit of hair from a first year Slytherin student.” He handed it to Balthasar, who took it almost eagerly. A bundle of school robes lay on Albus’s desk.
Albus refrained from sighing. The two had made their choice; now all he could do was honour it - and try his best to make certain they’d not die in vain.
Balthasar chuckled as he raised the vial. “Martha always used to say that I never grew up. She’d be very amused to see me change into a young boy.”
Albus forced himself to laugh at the joke.
“By using shaped charges, we can target the wards without doing much damage to the building. Planting them in the ground, and at an angle, will further help keep the building intact,” Hermione Granger explained. “They can be used to breach doors and walls too, during the assault.” She looked at the three men in the Headmaster’s office.
“Did you test these ‘charges’?” Snape was wearing his usual scowl. “I do not intend to risk my life only for some untested muggle contraption to fail at such a crucial time.”
“We have used similar charges before, and I trust my calculations.”
“You haven’t tested them, then. You have bombs you already used on other targets. Use those!” Snape spat.
“Those bombs destroyed the buildings as well as the wards. If we use them here, then…”
“Did I stutter, Miss Granger? Or do you think I’m fool? I said I will not allow this mission to be put in jeopardy by using untested bombs.” Snape sneered at her.
Hermione bit her lower lip so that she would not yell at the impossible man. Didn’t he understand that he would die if they used the same type of bomb that the Resistance had dropped on Malfoy Manor? She glanced at the Headmaster, surely he would be able to make Snape understand what he was demanding. But Dumbledore was looking sad and grim. And not saying anything. That meant…
Hermione gasped when she realised that Snape was very much aware of what he was asking for. “We will be using the bombs then,” she pressed out, staring at him.
“Good.” He turned away, to the Headmaster. “With that settled, I think we are ready.”
“Indeed,” Dumbledore slowly stood up. “The others have gathered as well. Let us be on our way then.”
“I don’t like this,” Hermione Granger muttered ten minutes later. “We’re not prepared for this.”
“But it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to let slip by,” Justin said. “And they’d not let us, anyway.” He nodded at the rest of the Resistance in the room.
“I know.” Hermione didn’t quite frown. But she pursed her lips. Seamus, Tania and Louise, even John and Sally-Anne, all were eager to kill the Dark Lord. To end this war before more people died. And so they were off to another ill-prepared mission on Dumbledore’s behalf. And once more with the Delacours, the d’Aigles, and the Weasleys at their side. If Hermione were superstitious, she would consider this a bad omen. But there was a reason she had walked out of Divination.
Still, she would have prefered more time to rest and recover. She didn’t like leaving Mary-Jane and Jeremy alone either. But it couldn’t be helped - they’d need everyone able to fight for this. Even with the Headmaster leading the attack.
“At least there won’t be much left once the bomb goes off,” she muttered.
“Provided they are not meeting the Dark Lord in the middle of a village or town,” Justin said in a low voice.They’d have to use the shaped charges then. “Snape’s braver than I thought.”
“Yes.” And more suicidal too, she added to herself. She glanced at Ron, and at Harry, who were standing with Sirius’s group. She wanted to be with him, with them, but she had a responsibility to her own group. A leader couldn’t leave her troops, not in this situation. And not to hug her boyfriend. The Major had been clear on that. And Hermione understood that. Intellectually.
She still wanted to rush over and hug Ron. Just once, before this battle.
Outside Withernsea, Yorkshire, Britain, January 22nd, 1997
Harry Potter could feel the Dark Lord’s presence the moment he arrived at the location Dumbledore had directed them to. Without a Supersensory Charm, it was not too bad, just a faint pain. But the Dark Lord definitely was in the area. He tried to catch Dumbledore’s attention, but the Headmaster was furiously casting - jinxes to block magical travel.
“Mate?” Ron asked at his side, wand out.
“I can feel him,” Harry whispered. “He’s nearby.” He stared at the building in front of them. It was too close to the muggle village for the kind of bomb used on Malfoy Manor, so the Resistance was already racing ahead to place the other bombs. The French were spreading out as well - they’d attack from the rear. Brave as usual, Harry thought - Sirius’s group and the Resistance would follow Dumbledore in.
“We can get him!” Ron said.
Both knew that Voldemort wouldn’t be killed today, but if his body was destroyed, he’d be reduced to a shade. And by the time he returned, the war would be over, and Harry would be ready for him.
Suddenly, he blinked. The faint pain was growing a bit stronger… was the Dark Lord moving? They had been checking for tunnels and buried bombs too, so… Harry closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on his connection to the Dark Lord. Where was he?
“Shh.” He had to focus. Where was Voldemort? He was near, but … there! To his right. Harry turned, then opened his eyes. “He’s not inside! He’s on our flank!” he yelled.
“Retreat!” Dumbledore’s voice was so loud - Amplifying Charm, Harry knew - the muggles probably heard him.
“Hermione!” Ron yelled.
Harry whirled around, expecting the worst. But the Resistance members were already in the air, on their brooms, and speeding away from the building. As were the two Veela and the other French.
Ron let out a relieved sigh.
Harry turned his attention back to Voldemort. What was the Dark Lord doing? Where was he? He gasped. The pain was gone!
“He’s gone,” Harry said, “He’s left.”
“Blimey! It’s burning!” Ron pointed at the building.
Green flames were shooting out of the windows. Harry was familiar with them.
Outside Stamford, Lincolnshire, Britain, January 23rd, 1997
So, Snape had been a traitor, the Dark Lord Voldemort thought when he returned to his home hours later. A brave, but dumb traitor - as if such a simple plan would have worked against the heir of Slytherin. Dumbledore must be slipping, he thought, to have allowed that. Unless it had been a ruse.
Voldemort pondered this while he summoned a glass and a bottle of wine. If this had been a ruse, what had been his old enemy’s true plan? Potter had been there, and had sensed his own presence. Had that just been a test to see how well the boy could track him?
If it had been a test, then the boy had failed. No one had followed the Dark Lord, not to his first, nor to his second decoy safe house. And Dumbledore wouldn’t have sacrificed even a useless spy like Snape for a mere test. Not when he could have used the traitor still - there were few potioneers of Snape’s skill.
No, it had not been a test. A gamble then? Was Dumbledore ruthless enough to sacrifice Snape for a small chance to hurt him? The Dark Lord filled his glass, then nodded. Yes, he would be. Snape was a good potioneer, but Dumbledore was an alchemist. And the old wizard had had almost twenty years to use Snape as a brewer. The spy had been expendable. Doubly so since his enemy must have known what Snape had done to earn his Dark Mark.
Well, the gamble had not paid off. The Dark Lord almost regretted not having prepared a more lethal trap. If he had placed a few bombs nearby… but his enemies would have checked for that, after his ambush in Sussex. He would have to console himself with the thought that at least Snape and whoever had been posing as the child Voldemort had demanded would have suffered before their deaths. A result well worth a little Polyjuice, an Imperius, and a short lesson in conjuring Fiendfyre.
Cokeworth, Midlands, England, January 24th, 1997
Albus Dumbledore entered the small park and looked around. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Dirty snow covered the playground in the center, and the bushes and trees were mostly bare, naked branches sticking out and up. He wouldn’t have chosen such a spot, but it wasn’t his decision.
Sighing, he cast a quick Muggle-Repelling Charm, then reached into one of the pockets of his robes and pulled out a small urn. A quick tap of his wand enlarged it. There was no name on the urn, as per the instructions left to him. None was needed, either.
He flicked his wand, and the lid of the urn floated up, followed by a thin trail of the ashes contained within. A swish, and the ashes started to spread through the park, between the bushes, quickly sinking into the soil thanks to a small charm.
The Fiendfyre had burned for hours, and hadn’t left much of either Severus or Balthasar, nor of whoever had played the role of the Dark Lord. It had taken Albus some effort, even, to ensure that he would not take the wrong body to be cremated - Balthasar had wished to be buried with his family. They wouldn’t mind that their father and husband had not been in his own body at his death, Albus thought.
The urn had emptied in the time he had let his thoughts wander, and the floating trail of ashes was dispersing.
Albus shook his head at the sight. It was sad to think that, as far as he knew, this was the only place Severus had ever been truly happy in his life. The place he had met Lily Evans as a child. The Headmaster liked to think that as a student, his friend had been happy at Hogwarts as well, but he knew that for Severus, his time at school had been forever tainted by the end of his friendship with Lily.
He closed the urn, and vanished it, then checked his watch. There would be a wake for his friend, at Hogwarts. It would be a very small affair. Apart from Albus himself, Severus hadn’t had any friends, only colleagues and acquaintances. Duty and custom would make them attend, nothing more.
Albus shook his head. In a way, that was even more tragic than Severus’s death.
North of Santa Cruz, Jamaica, January 25th, 1997
The area of the Black River hadn’t changed much since he had last visited the island, Albus Dumbledore thought. Nor had the hidden enclave of the late Jevaun Francis. The swamp outside looked the same, the fields looked the same, and the mansion looked the same. Albus hoped that the workers tending to the fields were not enslaved muggles, though. He would hate to have to repeat the lesson he had taught Francis.
As he approached the main entrance, the door was opened and a young woman in a thin, short linen robe bowed to him. “The Master awaits you in his parlour, sir.”
“Thank you.” She didn’t look like an apprentice, but looks could be deceiving, Albus thought. He knew that very well. Still, he doubted that the current owner of the mansion, Bedard Laron, would try to ambush him. He wouldn’t consider Bedard a friend, but they were not enemies. And the man owed him for letting him not just live, but succeed his old master - and for keeping quiet about just how cooperative Bedard had been when it came to helping with Dumbledore’s lessons for the houngan rulers of Magical Jamaica.
The mansion hadn’t changed much inside either, apart from the repairs. Jamaican houngans seemed to be as conservative as the Old Families in Britain. Bedard, as Albus saw when the girl opened the door to the parlour, was even wearing the same suit his predecessor had worn when Albus had killed him over thirty years ago.
“Good day, Bedard.” He nodded at the houngan.
“Mister Dumbledore.” The man’s smile was thin, and just this side of polite. “I am honoured to have you visit my humble abode. Very honoured, even, in light of the current situation in Britain, which no doubt requires your constant presence.”
The boy he had left back then had grown some teeth, Albus thought. His own smile widened a bit. “It is exactly due to that situation that I have come to visit.”
“I can assure you that neither myself, nor my colleagues, have had anything to do with this ‘withering curse’, as the newspapers call it.” Bedard said quickly - too quickly. “We have kept the agreement.”
Albus sighed loudly. “I did not doubt that. But the curse is of houngan origin. That I am certain of.”
“That doesn’t mean any one of us was responsible. As much as we strive to keep our secrets, there are always dissidents and spies.” Bedard sighed. “A plague Britain is familiar with as well, I believe. But where are my manners? Please, have a seat.” He gestured to the couch.
“Indeed. I think it’s very likely that the Dark Lord currently making trouble in Britain stole your secrets, and then improved upon them.” Albus sat down, after a quick and subtle check of the couch. “If one of your colleagues had created such a curse, then I think we would have heard of it.” The infighting on the island would have rivaled the current war in Britain, Albus was certain.
Bedard’s expression soured some more. No houngan would like to hear that a British wizard had not just taken their own spells, but improved them. “A compelling argument, I have to admit.”
The girl returned, carrying a tray with glasses and a bottle on it. Albus passed. He didn’t think Bedard would try to poison him, but there was no need to take a risk. And he would be needing all his wits. He did use the distraction, though, to silently dispel a few enchantments in the room. Bedard was not quite as subtle as he thought - nor as skilled. But then, few could stand against Albus wielding the wand he had won from Gellert.
Bedard didn’t seem to have noticed that his defenses had been rendered far less effective than they had been. Sipping from his drink, he looked at Albus. “But even if that were true, how could I help you? I am ignorant of whatever spell might have formed the base for this curse.” His smile returned.
“Indeed,” Albus said, “but as a houngan of your stature, you have access to the Library of Souls.”
Bedard jumped up, letting his glass shatter on the floor. “How do you know about that?” he hissed, drawing his wand. When he found Albus’s wand pointed straight at him, though, he froze. His eyes widened even further when nothing else happened.
“Please,” Albus said, smiling.
Trembling, the man slowly stashed his wand again. “Everyone has sworn an Oath to the Loa! They’d die rather than betray our most sacred secret!”
“Death, sadly, is no bar to betrayal,” Albus said. “I would rather visit with you as my guide than find my own way there. I might have to break a few things to enter, and wouldn’t know where to start looking for what I seek.” He didn’t move his wand. He had hoped that Bedard would be less hostile. But the man’s reaction to the mere mention of the library had been enough to convince Albus that some rather disreputable measures would have to be taken. He sighed. “I’m truly sorry about this. Imperio.”
Harbour Mountains, Jamaica, January 25th, 1997
The Library of Souls, hidden in the mountains of Jamaica since the time of the Maroon Rebellion, was, as with so many things in the Magical World, a bit of a misnomer, Albus knew. While it did contain the knowledge of many dead houngans, their souls were not actually bound to it. No, the library was built with enchantments not unlike those used to create magical portraits, although these were significantly more thorough, Albus had to admit. And using the actual skulls of the dead houngans, instead of canvas and paint.
As he followed Bedard on the small path winding through a dense forest, he kept an eye out for the defenses he knew were there. The enchanted plants and animals were not supposed to attack Bedard or anyone in his company, but that didn’t mean too much given the often bloody nature of Magical Jamaica’s politics. Thanks to the expertise of Rubeus and Pomona, though, he was well-warded against both dangers.
As was to be expected for a location containing so much secret knowledge, there were more defenses than just guards. They had passed through several wards already - which wouldn’t stop Bedard or a guest of his. Overall, Albus expected the library to be at least as well protected against intruders as the vaults of Gringotts. Which meant that a wizard of his skill and experience could break in. Especially with the - albeit unwilling - help of one of the houngan leaders of the island. Every system had a weakness, and the library’s main weakness was that the ruling houngans did not trust each other enough to require more than one of them to grant access to their apprentices. That didn’t mean that the library’s defenses were easy to defeat, of course. The houngans had improved on them for more than two centuries, after all - ever since Magical Jamaica had won its independence from Wizarding Britain in 1752.
Aided by his enchanted spectacles, he spotted the Thief’s Downfall, concealed as a natural waterfall, ahead of them. A flick of his wrist, and a spell covered Bedard, letting the enchanted fluid wash over him without affecting the spells controlling the man - Albus had had ample time to study this particular enchantment, and ways to deal with it.
They entered a cave behind an actual waterfall - though Albus kept his counter-measures up, just to be safe - and reached a massive door carved from the same stone as the cave itself. Bedard slit his palm and smeared blood on the stone surface in a complicated pattern, then took a step back as the door started to retreat, almost flowing into the walls, revealing the antechamber of the Library of Souls. Albus frowned when he saw the silent, undead guardians arrayed there. He had known to expect such from his glimpses into the minds of Francis and his colleagues decades ago, but to see them with his own eyes…
But those abominations were not a threat to him. The spells layered on the entrance to the library proper were. Not even Bedard could get him through all of them. But Albus had come well-prepared for traps and curses. His wand made short work of the more obvious spells, and the more subtle ones were no match for his experience - he had broken into a few sanctums of houngans in his day, after all. And dealt with many more cursed tombs. And even if he should make a mistake, thanks to his skill as an alchemist and his friendship with a phoenix, he had the means to save himself which no others could count upon. Himself only, though - as the battle at Hogsmeade had shown, trying to protect another could be fatal, which was why Albus had traveled alone to Jamaica.
Soon, the doors opened, and the Library of Souls was revealed. It was far smaller than someone not familiar with Jamaica would expect. Less than a hundred skulls, each on a pedestal displaying the houngan’s name and deeds, gathered in a natural cavern, expanded with magic. Far more modest than anything similar in Britain, and yet containing so much knowledge… Albus was both tempted to peruse it, and to destroy it. But he had not come here for either.
“Please fetch me the skull of Lawrence Gayle,” he said. That houngan was almost unknown outside Jamaica, but the man had done more research into both Necromancy and Mind Magic than any other on the island. If he hadn’t been assassinated by a rival before he could turn his research into actual rituals and spells, he might have become more famous - or infamous. As it was, his contemporaries and successors had taken his death as proof that his work had little value. An opinion the Headmaster didn’t share.
Compelled by Albus’s magic, Bedard stepped forward. The oldest skulls were furthest back, but Gayle had lived in the 19th century, so his skull was far closer to the entrance, just a few yards away.
Bedard mumbled the appropriate prayer and picked the skull up. He had just started to turn turn towards Albus when the skull’s eyes lit up and fire shot out of its mouth, engulfing the man.
Bedard started to scream, his whole body on fire. Fiendfyre, Albus realised, as it formed a snake and dived at him. No, not at him - at the entrance! Albus hastily conjured a wall between himself and the flames, and retreated to the side, away from both the still burning and screaming Bedard and the flames sealing the entrance. The skull’s mouth was now spewing billowing clouds of green mist that ate through both arms of Bedard, leaving the skull floating in the air, while the eyes released curses in all directions.
“Fawkes!” Albus cried out, flicking his wand to banish the approaching acid back with a gust of wind. Then he saw that the curses were not flying off in all directions, but curving back - to strike at him!
He conjured slabs of metal and stone to block them, but the skull was still sending out more, and the cursed fire was spreading. Fawkes appeared - straight in the path of one of the curses, and Albus acted without thinking, sending one slab up to block the curse, leaving himself open. If Fawkes was quick enough…
His companion wasn’t. Albus felt the curse strike his side an instant before they vanished in a flash of fire.
When they reappeared, he fell down on the floor of his office, unable to breathe. Unable to say anything. He rolled on his back, flicking his wand, casting silently, trying to break the curse eating into his lungs. He failed. Fawkes was crying, his tears falling on Albus’s chest, but they didn’t help - this dark curse had to be beyond even their power. It had been a trap, he realised. For anyone researching that particular curse. He swished his wand, summoning a vial from his pocket. A last gift from his mentor. With fumbling fingers, he opened it, swallowing the liquid even while he felt as if his heart was bursting.
Relief filled him as the pain receded.
Then he realised that he still couldn’t breathe. That he was still asphyxiating. But he had gained the time to cast a complex spell that drew oxygen directly into his blood. His vision, which had been fading, returned to normal. He still couldn’t breathe or speak, but he was able to sit up. The pain was growing stronger again. He vanished the robe covering his chest, and shuddered.
His chest was rotting. He could see the ribs poking through the parting skin, could see the flesh shrivel up, blood and other fluids forming a pool under him. Fawkes was still crying, frantically flapping around.
Shaking his head, he smiled at his oldest friend. He wanted to tell the phoenix that it was alright, that he was just going on the next Great Adventure, but without lungs all he could do was hope that his companion would understand.
Then the rot reached his spine, and he started to fall back.
The last thing he saw, before the world turned dark, was Fawkes, crying above him. And the last thing he heard before death claimed him was the mourning song of his friend.
Edit: Damn, I thought i was going to be fast for once. Well, good news is I can start to read the next chapter.
As always, if you wish me to stop or drop something give the word. You are the author, you're good at it and your stories deserve respect.
No problem disagreeing. The Knockturn Alley attack pushes a number of my buttons and, a competent Dumbledore capable of realizing the various ways it can go wrong causing non-combatants and innocents to die, isn’t one that I will see in a positive light. It would probably be better if I stop commenting on this as some things I cannot, due to my own biases, see as being justified in any way by a decent person.
I will also try to stop commenting on Dumbledore as this, his thoughts about it and lack of certain thoughts about it has firmly changed my view of him in the story towards the negative.
Brenda Brocktuckle, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks on their own would be enough to keep me from equating all Aurors and Hit Wizards with SS thugs, never mind the fact that halfbloods and, if I recall correctly, muggleborn were Aurors as well and that the Auror corps had not been shown as purged of friends or sympathisers of their colleagues.
However, this seems to be one of those topics where we will not be able to see each other’s points, so I’m dropping it.
It was just a suggestion that could have been used to minimize the risk if the Aurors got lucky, if an Auror was a bit faster with a bezoar, if the Aurors were a bit more competent than Dumbledore had bargained on, if the Aurors were a bit less competent than Dumbledore had bargained on, allowing an attacker to escape, if an unexpected emergency resulted in the Aurors being called away at the last minute, if the attackers had a bit of bad luck or if Dumbledore had a bit of bad luck.
No problem with agreeing to disagree. Our upbringings, life experiences and thoughts are different, so viewing human nature differently is just a fact. (Also, this was about a bit more than just “crush our culture”.)
Well, if the bigot sees the other options as worse for him or her, yes. If he or she doesn’t see those other options as worse, then the majority will likely go for what is to them the more palatable option. At least, that is how I see bigots.
Can’t say much about true believers in the story except for the fact that Tracy and Daphne appear to be true believers.
So, teach them what hadn’t become Death Eater and Death Eater Wannabe special greetings, goodbyes and terms of recognition.
As to Christmas, yes, and in my lifetime it has also moved away (quite a lot) from a Christian celebration towards a somewhat generic non religious holiday.
Considering what Dumbledore told Amelia as well as his thoughts I expect that it was ensured that Auror’s were made aware of what awaited all Aurors who abused their authority, all those involved with cases were Muggleborn were killed resisting arrest, all those who believed that they would be seen as relishing hunting muggleborn and all those who didn’t trust the “much” in the following statement by Dumbledore: “Although those who have followed orders in good faith will not have to fear much.”
So I see the majority of the families of those Aurors pushed to join Voldemort and then killed blaming him. And how would a person feel about the one they see as responsible for the death of a parent, spouse, child or grandchild?
Same for the families of those killed in the attack on Malfoy Manor, how would they feel about the ones they see as responsible for the death of a parent, spouse, child or grandchild? Now, the distant playboy or playgirl who suddenly gets everything and doesn’t care about anything won’t be a problem for Dumbledore and the resistance, but the rest?
Also, splitting the country isn’t the same as charging at Dumbledore, not caring if you get killed. It’s anything from funding their own school to opposing him politically and financially on everything to formally attempting to secede. (Although a number might try an assassination if they thought they could succeed.)
They mingled with the Weasley’s. And with others, but is that sufficient or is that merely considered sufficient? My opinion lies towards children not necessarily being nice to outsiders and children not knowing enough not to make assumptions about what is known and what needs to be known.
To the best of my knowledge there were no such lessons, which is a major oversight in the original story, at least if you try to think of it in a serious way.
As to it being a Nazi culture… Not from what you’ve said previously. The Nazi part is new isn’t it? Previously it was oppressive and bigoted yes, with muggleborn being regarded either in a way that suggested that of blacks in 19th century America or perhaps in a way that suggested that of blacks in 1940s America?
My thoughts on family magic was how I saw it. My question about whether one needed to be a genius to create or modify spells was to get clarity on how it works in this story, as the level of intelligence required to (effectively) do so would limit the number of people capable of doing so. The number of people who are capable of doing so basically dictating how fast magic in its various forms can improve and advance, which leads to how much wastage of talent the current system had and how much improvement is possible. It would also likely lead to how people capable of creating new spells and rituals are viewed by society.
It requiring a genius (which I see Hermione as) leads to a very slow improvement and when those improvements occur it would mostly or only be in the areas the genius was interested in. Highly intelligent people would lead to a faster improvement rate in all areas. Very intelligent to just very clever people required would lead to.... I don't know, wonders being uncommon.
No, but it will limit the number of non-family members and non-purebloods assigned to head and control businesses owned by pureblood families, thus limiting the number of “bosses” that would be considered acceptable to keep running businesses for somebody else.
Holy shit... Dumbledore got himself killed for something this dumb. He's basically handed Voldemort victory this way.
Oh wow. Holy crap. Dumbledore is gone.
Shit just got seriously real.
You'll probably like it
While I agree that he's no saint, it might very well turn out that he was among the best and most benevolent characters in the story. Or at least, the one character able and willing to save the most people.
Also, Not to be snarky, but... the pureblood stooges were dropping fire bombs. Not Fiendfire. Normal fire. Something that could have been dealt with by many normal wizards with Aguamenti or even by vanishing the burning parts. I really think you vastly overestimate the risk Dumbledore had been taking there.
Brenda Brocktuckle may not have started out as a Death Eater, but she ended up as one - and mostly because of her own choices. Muggleborns were purged early on from the corps, same as Hit-Wizards - Louise and Jeremy got fired.
That's assuming a beozar would have worked.
The kind of bigots who'd rather risk their life than accept others as equals - at least outwardly - is not that big, and most of them will already have joied the Dark Lord. Although with Dumbledore gone, more might perceive the risk of dying for wanting to oppress mudbloods as being less now.
With "true believers" I mean the kind of people who actually are willing to kill and die for their religion. Not many of those in Europe - we tend to go through the motions on Christmas, at most. Tracey and Daphne didn't fight because of their religion. They didn't even fight for their culture either. The main reason that they fought was because they thought that the mudbloods wanted to kill them all, and because they wanted to avenge their dead families.
For what? So they can feel like part of the very culture that wants to oppress them, and would love to see the muggle culture erased? I still don't understand why that culture should be preserved in any way. Not when many of the purebloods already adapted and formed their own culture, like the Weasleys.
While Dumbledore did want to force those willing to join Voldemort to be exposed, I think it's unfair to blame him for the crimes committed by the Aurors. If an Auror abused his power and murdered a muggleborn "resisting arrest", then he deserves to get punished for it - and he already crossed a line that doomed him.
The story will be centred on exactly that problem: A country, torn apart by civil war, trying to rebuild. Sadly, odds are there will be many deaths that could have been avoided were Dumbledore still around - both because the muggleborns want revenge, and because even the muggleborns who do not want to take revenge might not see any valid solution other than killing anyone who will not stop fighting for the Dark Lord.
The Old Families couldn't form a viable country of their own. They'd have to pull all the other purebloods with them, and probably most of the half-bloods.
I think that's because in the original story, there was no such thing as "pureblood culture". Nothing ever hinted at that. A number of authors like to make up a pureblood culture, although they usually simply pick Victorian or Regency England and add some magic, but in canon, there was no sign of a pureblood culture, even less of one that the Weasleys were not part of. So, in my opinion, such lessons were unneeded in canon because the differences were not any bigger than between different parts of Muggle Britain.
Lynchings, sometimes becoming festivities for the entire white population with postcards to take home to remember the occasion where a black man was slowly tortured to death, were part of the culture that oppressed blacks in that USA. Not organised mass-murder - but I do think that it wouldn't have taken much for that to happen, had things gone a bit differently. A culture defining itself mainly or strongly by oppressing others for being born differently is evil, and should not be supported or spread.
Seeing the state of magic, I think only geniuses being able to make significant progress is a good explanation.
Fortunately,it's not that hard to learn being a "Boss".
He considered the need for a cure for the Withering Curse important enough to take what he thought was a manageable risk.
Also, while it has been quite a while since I read the books they gave me the impression that he did not care too much for the well being of the students, rather, he cared for his plan.
1st book: Somebody almost dies but Quirrel is left free to continue.
2nd book: People are petrified, there is no evacuation and nobody is called in to assist.
3rd book: Can't recall whether it appeared as if children were in danger.
6th book: Not doing something about Draco.
This isn't a problem for me in children's books, but if used in a more serious story my impression is that Dumbledore has his plan or perhaps his cause, and that always comes first, and the well being and even the lives of the children came second.
There hasn't been one I haven't liked yet.
(Trying not to comment because I'm biased. Failing.)
I saw him as having the potential to greatly reduce the problems that would come up after Voldemort's defeat.
(Keeping the comment short.)
Yes, Brenda did end up supporting Voldemort. (And I have to say that I liked how you did it. It was believable and her actions made sense to me when looked at from her perspective.) But she did not start out as a supporter and even towards the end didn't appear to actually like it, if I read what you wrote correctly.
As to the Muggleborn Aurors being purged, yes. But I mentioned their friends and sympathizers
A support base is more than fighters. Although if Dumbledore is dead a number of those who would have been his enemies because of what he did would just let things be. (I'm specifically thinking of the families of the Aurors pushed to join Voldemort and then killed. They might not like or support the government but they would not necessarily work against it.)
Quite true. However, there wasn't really an attack on their religion previously. (And enemies do more than just physically attack.) I'll wait and see what happens now.
First, there's no official attempt that I've seen in the original book to help the muggleborn adapt and feel a part of their new world. A bunch of 11 year olds appear to just be left alone to cope. Nothing like an older housemate being assigned as a mentor, additional classes or something like a club, nothing. Any attempt in that line would be a plus.
Second, what is the visible difference between an old family pureblood and a muggleborn? Nothing. The difference comes down to how they act, speak and dress. If those differences are lessened or eliminated, the casual discrimination stops, because Pureblood A can't say if B, C, D or E is a Muggleborn. (Casual is not the right word, but I can't think of a better one at the moment.) That means that children get a better chance to know one another, because Pureblood A doesn't know that Child D is an evil awful whatever his or her parents taught muggleborn and will not avoid Child D because of that teachings. So Pureblood A gets the opportunity to actually learn that Muggleborn aren't evil awful whatever his or her parents taught.
Third, this was from the start about two things, changing the old family pureblood culture by spreading it while robbing it of it's "specialness" and as a medium term way of trying to mend the damage that I believe this civil war will do to the country. I make three assumptions. First, that enough old pureblood families, good, bad and neutral, with enough members will survive that they could potentially be significant politically and / or financially. (Basically, that Voldemort doesn't conveniently kill them, that whoever wins not clandestinely have them killed and that there are no obvious war crimes.) Second, that they retain enough property, businesses and / or money via either having started with a lot, having resources outside of the country and / or having stuff in remote areas. (This depends of course on the government not stealing it.) Third, that they either don't think to start their own school or that the attempt to start their own school is blocked.
I didn't blame him for crimes committed by Aurors. I spoke of how he, given what he said to Amelia, would make certain that people be made aware of what was going to happen, so as to force those Aurors who had done certain things or acted in certain ways to join Voldemort. And how the families of those killed would likely have been Dumbledore's enemies because they saw that as him forcing their parent, sibling, child or whatever to declare for Voldemort so that he or she can be killed.
Depressing, but expected. And when people fight back things get worse.
For instance, what will Hermione do if somebody took revenge, and the victims family wants the attacker or attackers charged with murder? Putting them on trial will alienate her forces, not putting them on trial will create an impression that she condones revenge and or murder, and handing them over to the ministry creates all sorts of precedents. In fact, considering the previous chapter... (Don't answer though, I'm waiting to see what happens.)
I did say that splitting the country is anything from funding their own school to opposing him (Dumbledore) politically and financially on everything to formally attempting to secede. As to successfully seceding, I did not have enough information to guess.
Canon was a children's story but if it is considered seriously without some additions then Hogwarts was a less than adequate school and Dumbledore a less than competent headmaster.
Please consider, how would the existence of love potions affect courting? Just that one thing would lead to certain practices by parents and guardians to ensure that their child is not, to put it politely, taken advantage of. Those practices become customs over a period of time. Or what about spells that could control a person? How does those spells affect meetings between people who aren't friends? And, to not give offence, things aren't done because you're uncertain about a person, they're done because that's how they're done, which become custom and good manners. And that's just two things off the top of my head.
Thank you, if you had not mentioned the Lynchings... Let me put it like this. The culture of the Southern United States is different from the rest of the United States, if what fiction I have read is somewhat accurate. (As I do not know it, I would not be able to judge whether it is better or worse than that of the rest of the United States.)
While this culture at the time of the lynchings had substantial evil parts, were there a number of superficial and medium parts of it that were neutral, decent or good that survived to this day?
That is tragic. And the waste... Any people capable of advancing magic should have been treasured and encouraged. Hopefully that part at least will change.
I envy you. I've worked under a less than competent one and under a bad one. They did not learn. (Not that I would be a competent one either.)
Books 1-3 I explain by the "adults are useless" trope being in effect. If Dumbledore had acted as a competent adult, the kids couldn't have been the heroes. I generally assume things happened vaguely similar to that in my stories starting after the first four books, but assume the adults were not quite as useless - so there should have been good reasons for those "mistakes.
Books 5-7 I tend to consider plot railroads, and skip the charactersations there. Saving Draco while almost killing Ron and others is so fucked up, I want to ignore that shit. I don't understand why people can take this seriously, and then wonder why "evil!Dumbledore" is so popular.
Not just the potential. If he had lived, Britain would have been much, much better off. He had the moral authority, the personal power, and the skill and experience to handle many of the problems that will crop up.
And yet Brenda became a Death Eater, and was instrumental in cursing many of her co-workers.
Many of them died with Kingsley, or in the Battle of the Ministry.
I beg to differ. Dumbledore was the big stick keeping many in check. With him dead, the cowards might try things they wouldn't have dared before. Also, Dumbledore was the vanquisher of Grindelwald, and the Headmaster of Hogwarts - a person dominating Britain for decades. Many will have known him as an authority figure all their lives. I think it's mroe likely that others will be blamed, even for Dumbledore's mistakes - just like people tended to assume Hitler wasn't aware of many things. "Wenn das der Führer wüsste..." was a saying ("If the Führer knew this...").
But frankly, grumbling people are not a problem. People taking up arms are a problem.
I thought that was the prefect's job. Don't forget that many authors will try to avoid info dumps - even when info dumps happen in reality.
Indeed. And I think that the Old Families should adapt, not the other way around.
Not all of the survivors of the "good" Old Families are likely to ally with the "bad" ones. Take Neville as an example - his family has been wrecked by people claiming to fight for pureblood ideals. Would he turn against those who fought Voldemort, just so he can cling to a culture that will be associated with the murder and torture of his family? Or will he say "fuck off!" and join the Weasleys? Others like Andromeda Tonks turned away (and were cast out) already. Now add all the ones who were cursed with the Withering Curse, and their families. In the name of pureblood tradition.
I do not think there will many "good" or even "neutral" families willing to oppose the very heroes who killed Voldemort just to save a culture that is associated with so much of the grief they suffered.
If the traditionalists start up a school of their own, it'll be a very small school. It would have no reputation, no tradition, everything would have to be created from scratch. In other words, they would need to abandon core parts of their culture to do so - and they'd rob themselves of the chance to make connections with the other families and build informal networks while at school.
Well, those families would have to a) know about Dumbledore's plans and b) not assume that their relatives were supporters of Voldemort already, just hidden.
See above. The traditonalists would have to abandon a lot of what they supposedly are fighting for, to create a new mini-country.
I blame that sort of stuff on JKR's failed world building - too often, she didn't think things through.
I still don't understand why any organised effort should be done to preserve and spread parts of a culture that has disgraced itself. Why not spread muggle culture to the Old Families, instead?
As long as people value blood and traditions over anything else, it won't change. You really need to change the culture. And spreading the values of the Old Families will directly run counter to that goal.
Actually, I have to amend my sentence a bit: I do not really think that there are many competent bosses around in our economy. Many of the "elite" in our current system seem parasites, feeding each other billions for playing around with lives and businesses without doing anything even near worth their salaries. I assume that the Wizarding economy, riddled with even more "good old purebloods" networks, works in the same way - mainly, barely. So, it won't be that hard to replace the current batch of bosses.
Chapter 37: Legacies
‘The death of Albus Dumbledore would have shaken Wizarding Britain to the core under any circumstances. But following so closely after the Battle of the Ministry, and the Night of the Dead, the effect was devastating. The Ministry’s morale, flagging after the crippling losses it had taken in the recent battles, plummeted. Albus Dumbledore had not only been Wizarding Britain’s protector, seen by most as the only wizard able to stop the Dark Lord, but he had also been its most important leader. Even more important, though, he had been the Headmaster of Hogwarts for decades. The majority of wizards and witches had attended Hogwarts during his tenure there as a professor and later Headmaster, and had spent their formative years under his authority. They had not just lost a leader and protector, they had lost a member of their family.
And yet, despite the man’s importance, to this day the question of who killed Albus Dumbledore has not been answered in a satisfactory manner. Both the Dark Lord as well as various houngans of Jamaica have claimed responsibility for his death, with convincing although mutually exclusive arguments and evidence.’
- Excerpt from ‘Wizarding Britain in the 20th Century’ by Albert Runcorn
Hogwarts, January 26th, 1997
The Headmaster was dead. Harry Potter still had trouble believing it, even after he had seen the body in the infirmary. Dumbledore had been a fixture in his life, not just at Hogwarts. Harry had known that the old wizard was not immortal, but even after the fight in Hogsmeade, part of him had felt so. And now Dumbledore was gone, and Harry felt as if part of Hogwarts, part of himself, had died with the Headmaster.
He was walking past the hallway leading to the Great Hall. A few crouching figures drew his attention, and his wand rose, until he realised that it was just a Hufflepuff prefect trying to console three first-years, all four of them crying. He still kept them in his sights until he had turned the corner.
Most students were in their dorms or on the way back there after the meal, but he couldn’t stand being cooped up right now. Couldn’t stand the gazes, the whispers he expected as the Boy-Who-Lived. He longed to go flying, take to the skies and let the cold air numb him, but that would bring back memories of Hogsmeade. And he’d rather not think of that fight, not right now.
He didn’t want to think at all. He’d rather do something, anything to not feel so helpless. Which was why he was headed to the training room Moody used for his lessons. The old Auror wasn’t around, and Ron was busy with Hermione, probably, but Harry would be able to practise some spells, at least.
Harry had been training in silent casting more or less effectively for five minutes when the door to the training room was opened. He turned slightly until he was presenting his right side to the door, wand pointed not quite at the entrance.
“There you are!”
Seeing Sirius, Harry relaxed. It felt good to see his godfather. Comforting. Doubt quickly filled him, though. “Shouldn’t you be in the Ministry?” With Dumbledore dead, the Ministry would be panicking, from what Harry had gathered. His godfather was needed there, to keep it from rolling over for Voldemort.
Sirius shrugged. “I’ll head there in a bit. Once I’m certain that you’re holding up.” He frowned. “You practically ran away from there.” The infirmary, where they had seen Dumbledore’s body.
Harry suddenly felt guilty. He was keeping Sirius from more important matters.
His godfather sighed. “Don’t be like that, Harry.” The older wizard walked up to him and put a hand on his shoulder. “You are the most important person, for me.”
A weird mix of warmth and guilt filled Harry. Then he frowned. With Dumbledore dead, he was the most important person in the war against Voldemort. He was the one prophesied to defeat the Dark Lord - for good this time. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
“For what?” Sirius sounded honestly puzzled.
“For worrying you.” For letting everyone down who was depending on him to be strong.
“I’d worry about you no matter what you did, Harry. That’s what a godfather does.” There was a slight hitch in Sirius’s voice before ‘godfather’.
“Well, I’m training.” Harry pointed at the conjured block of stone. It was sporting several small holes.
“Piercing Curses?” Sirius peered at them.
“SIlent casting, mostly,” Harry clarified. His normal Piercing Curses did better than that.
“Ah.” Sirius nodded. “Show me?”
Harry took a step away, then jabbed his wand at the stone. Another hole appeared, in a small cloud of dust. He repeated the spell. Again and again.
“You’ve got it figured out I think,” Sirius said. “Just need more practice.”
“Not just with silent casting,” Harry said. He shrugged. He needed more training in Legilimency, more than anything else. But with the Headmaster gone…”I didn’t think he’d ever die. Not really.”
“No one lives forever.” Sirius frowned. “I didn’t think he’d die to a curse, though.”
“Did he duel Voldemort?” Dumbledore had known he couldn’t kill Voldemort, but had he gone and faced the Dark Lord in an attempt to gain more time for Harry’s training?
“No one knows so far. As far as we know, he was visiting the Caribbean, to search for a cure for the curse, but we don’t know if he actually went there, or was ambushed on the way, or if it was all a ruse.” Harry’s godfather sighed. “McGonagall found him in his office, dead. That’s all we really know, for now.”
Harry had known that already. “Is Fawkes still singing?” He thought he could hear the song, a sad one, faintly, as if in the back of his mind, but that could just be his imagination - his Legilimency training had taught him just how easily such a thing could happen.
“Yes.” Sirius conjured a chair for himself and sat down. He looked tired, Harry thought. “He hasn’t stopped since… well, we think it started at the time of death.” He snorted. “Moody’s leading the investigation, you know. Or at least claiming to. We didn’t want other Aurors poking around, but that won’t stop them.”
Harry hissed.“Do they even have enough Aurors left to guard the school and everything else?”
“If they scratch together everything, probably. Many of them won’t be any better than seventh-years, but… they can’t leave Hogwarts unguarded. No matter how effective they will be.” Sirius scoffed. “Politics.”
“Hermione will leave.” Harry’s friend wouldn’t stay. Not with the Ministry moving in and Dumbledore dead.
“Yes.” Sirius shook his head, rubbing his forehead. “Can’t trust the Ministry, even though they need her and her friends now more than ever.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Do you think they’d attack her to make a deal with Voldemort?”
“Bones wouldn’t make a deal with him. She’ll fight him to the last breath. But she won’t make a deal with the Resistance either. Not the kind of deal they need. We can but hope that she’ll keep the deal Fudge made.” Sirius snorted. “Not that it matters much until we beat the Dark Lord.”
Which, Harry knew, all hinged on him. And his training. “I’ll need a new teacher.”
His godfather slowly nodded. “There’s something else.”
The Headmaster had looked quite peaceful, laid out in the small room in the infirmary of Hogwarts, in Hermione Granger’s opinion. The robes had hidden the sickening sight of the remains of his chest, eaten away by some rotting curse Madam Pomfrey hadn’t identified so far. What a horrible end for a great man!
She hadn’t stayed long in there. Just enough to see for herself that he was really dead. Barely enough to pay her respects. With Dumbledore dead, things in Britain had changed, and not for the better.
Schooling her features, she addressed the rest of the Resistance gathered in Dennis’s room, where they had pushed the bed of the comatose boy into the corner: “The Headmaster is dead.”
They already knew that, but Sally-Anne, pressed into Justin’s side in a conjured armchair, gasped anyway, as if there had been any hope that this was just a mistake. Most nodded grimly - they knew what this meant for the group.
“Aurors and Hit-Wizards will be arriving soon, to ‘guard’ the school,” Hermione went on. “We’re not needed here anymore, and we’ll be returning to a safe house.” Better safe than sorry.
“You don’t trust the Ministry?” Seamus said as much as he asked.
“I trust Bones not to turn on us in the middle of the war,” she said. The witch was too competent for that. “But afterwards?” She shook her head. “I’d rather not reveal anything about us to them if we can help it. Just in case.”
“Damn bitch will stab us in the back before the Dark Lord’s body hits the ground!” Seamus growled.
“I don’t think that’s likely,” Hermione said, “but from what I heard, she’s almost fanatical about upholding law and order.”
Louise, the former Hit-Wizard, nodded. “Bones is a hard ass about justice. Incorruptible. Stubborn. Unyielding.” She was sitting on the conjured bed for Jeremy, holding his hand.
“Didn’t see much of that love of justice when the Ministry was hunting muggleborns.” Tania sneered, leaning back in her conjured seat.
“She doesn’t have the same view of justice as we do,” Hermione said. “If the Wizengamot passes a law, she’ll enforce it. No matter what.”
“Like a Nazi,” John added.
Hermione wasn’t quite certain she’d go that far, but she couldn’t really disagree with the assessment. That was how a number of Nazis had tried to defend themselves when they had been put on trial: That what they had done had been legal in the Third Reich. “In any case, we need to move. We can care for Jeremy at our safe house. Dennis, though… I’ll ask a few friends to care for him.” They couldn’t spare the manpower, nor could they leave him to fall into the hands of the Ministry.
“Who are these friends?” Seamus asked, staring at her.
“I’ll tell you if they can take him in,” Hermione said. She looked at him until he frowned and let his gaze drop. “Anything else?” she addressed the room again. When no one spoke up for a few seconds, she nodded. “Alright, let’s move!”
Ron Weasley felt helpless and useless. The Headmaster was dead, Hermione was with the Resistance, already preparing for the new situation, and Harry was off with Sirius, probably dealing with the Wizengamot - the Boy-Who-Lived would be the ray of hope Britain needed right now. His dad and Percy were at the Ministry, working to keep it from collapsing, no doubt. Bill was with the French, the twins in their shop… everyone was doing something useful. But for Ron, who was stuck at Hogwarts. And Ginny, though his sister was probably watching the map in their dorms.
He leaned against the wall, a hallway away from the infirmary. Dumbledore’s death meant the loss of the one wizard able to counter Voldemort. Maybe they should have tried to keep it a secret, even if only for a few days. He shook his head. No, the news would have spread anyway, and if the Dark Lord had been able to prepare for the shock of the revelation, or reveal it at a time of his choosing…
Dumbledore’s death wasn’t something Ron liked to think about. The consequences were too grim. Too many would now consider the war lost, even among the Order. Not his family, of course. They were Gryffindors to the core, and they knew the Headmaster would have made plans even for his death. They’d fight on. In the Ministry, and everywhere else. Sirius wouldn’t give up either, knowing that Voldemort wouldn’t rest until Harry was dead. Everyone knew that the French wouldn’t stop fighting until either they or their enemy were dead. Or both, as had happened a few times.
The Ministry would keep fighting too, as long as Bones was at the helm. That witch would not give up, and her Aurors and Hit-Wizards, those who were left anyway, would want revenge. And the Wizengamot members who knew that they would be killed if the Dark Lord won.
But the public? They’d be shaking in their boots, and either fleeing or begging for mercy soon enough. Ron knew that. Just as he knew that the odds of his family surviving were low. Not that that would stop them. Even Mum would know that. He closed his eyes. This would be hardest for her. But they had no choice, not really. As long as there was a chance to win, they’d keep fighting. And as long as Harry was alive, there was a chance to win.
He muttered a few curses under his breath and pushed off the wall. He couldn’t just do nothing. Maybe Hermione needed help. Or Harry. Or Luna. He’d do anything to stop feeling so helpless.
Ron ran into the Resistance at the infirmary. Or rather, he ran into Seamus, standing at the door there. For a moment, they stared at each other, Ron’s wand pointed at the other wizard, and Seamus’s muggle gun pointed at his chest. Then Ron lowered his wand, chuckling, although he had to force himself to do so. “Sorry, Moody’s training left me rather jumpy.”
After a second, Seamus lowered his gun, then snorted. “Can’t trust anyone.”
“Constant vigilance.” Ron shrugged. “Is Hermione inside?”
Once more Seamus hesitated for a moment, then nodded, turned his head and yelled: “Hermione! Your boyfriend’s looking for you!”
Ron chuckled again, without forcing himself to this time. That had sounded just like … as if Seamus hadn’t left. He ignored the other wizard’s slightly confused glance. Hermione arrived. She was wearing her uniform, and a rifle was dangling from a sling at her side.
“Ron.” She bit her lower lip in that manner he found so adorable, and once more Ron was reminded of the time before this mess started.
He spread his arms and took a step forward, then another, until he could pull her into a hug, wrapping his arms around her, above the gun. He ignored the snickering in the background. His girlfriend was leaving, and he didn’t know when he would see her again. Or - though he buried that thought quickly - if he would see her again. Then he felt her grow tense in his embrace, and pull back.
“The mirror,” she said, casting a privacy spell while she pulled it out.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 26th, 1997
When her door was opened, Amelia Bones had her wand ready. The Ministry’s defences had been mostly repaired, some had even been improved, but she hadn’t forgotten about Fudge’s death, and she was not about to let herself grow complacent.
“Bones.” Moody nodded at her, closed her door behind him, then started casting privacy spells.
She waited, not quite patiently, but trying to hurry the paranoid Auror would be useless, and given recent events, he was probably right in taking additional measures. If she fully trusted her security, she would have used the time to read another page of the latest report on her desk.
Finally, Moody finished, and turned to her. “Albus’s dead.”
Amelia felt as if she had been hexed in the gut. She almost blurted out a ‘What?’ as if she was a rookie. “How did he die?” she asked instead. Dumbledore dead…
“McGonagall found him on the floor of his office, chest rotted away by a dark curse, with his phoenix crying over the body. Died during the night, as far as I can tell.” Moody took a seat, his artificial eye spinning madly.
Amelia felt a cold shiver run down her spine. Someone had managed to kill the greatest wizard of Britain. There was just one man she knew was able to do such a deed. “Was he killed in the middle of his office?” No one would be safe in that case. Hogwarts had the best wards and defences in Britain.
“I saw no sign of any fight, or any trap being triggered there,” Moody said. “Best guess? He managed to escape whatever or whoever did this to him, but died in his office before he could get help.”
That made sense. Not that it improved the Ministry’s situation much. With Dumbledore gone the Dark Lord would be able to attack almost anything at will, especially if he himself had killed the wizard. Only wards would be able to stop him - if he tried to take them down himself, he’d be vulnerable. But if he hired Curse-Breakers… She shook her head. Normally, she’d cancel all leave, but that had already been done. Everyone able was already on duty, usually on double-shifts. “What is Hogwarts’ status?” Moody would know that; the old Auror was one of Dumbledore’s men.
“The wards are as strong as ever, but with Albus and Snape gone, the only ones left who would be of any use in a battle are McGonagall and Flitwick.” Moody scoffed. “The rest are barely up to scratch. Better than your average Auror, though. Heh, some of the kids there would probably do better than half your people.”
Amelia wanted to tell the old Auror off, but he was probably correct - they were scraping the bottom of the cauldron for recruits. Had been for some time. “I’ll send a squad then.” They could rotate. Enough to show the flag, and to keep an eye on the school.
“Don’t send idiots. And don’t send bigots,” Moody said.
She knew what he really meant. “I’m not about to renege on the Minister’s deal.” Even though it grated on her pride to admit it, working with those murderers was the Ministry’s - and her - only hope now.
“Good. You’re finally learning. You’ll still be a terrible Minister.” Moody cackled, then coughed and took a sip from his flask.
She adjusted her monocle. It wasn’t quite as good as Moody’s eye, but it let her see far more than even trained eyes like hers normally could.
“I’m not about to keel over, Bones. I’ll not quit until the Dark Lord’s done for.” Moody grinned, which twisted his scarred face into something fit to curdle milk. “But I’m not getting any younger.” He paused. “Who’s the acting Minister now?”
Amelia knew this by heart, of course. “Philius Runcorn.” The oldest member of the Wizengamot. Who had been missing since the Battle of the Ministry.
“Death Eater,” Moody said.
“I’ll call for an emergency session to elect a new Minister,” Amelia said.
“To elect yourself, you mean.” Moody cackled again.
“Is there anyone else who can do what needs to be done?” There wasn’t; she had looked. Rufus might have been able to, but he was one of the cursed.
“Arthur Weasley might surprise you.”
Amelia shook her head. “He has no support among the moderates, and the traditional Old Families hate him. And with Albus dead, even some of his own faction might not vote for him.”
“You could convince them.” Moody took another sip from his flask.
“Weasley’s not the wizard we need. He’s too radical.” And he’d bend too many rules and break too many laws. He’d focus on winning the war, and wouldn’t care about the consequences of such a stance. What good was winning the war if it meant turning the country into a dictatorship where the rule of law had been sacrificed on the battlefield, and the strong ruled the weak in the name of expediency?
“Might be that’s what needed.” Moody shrugged, as if he wasn’t concerned. Amelia knew him better, though.
“Hardly. Allying with the muggleborns, and electing a wizard who’s not only fascinated by all things muggle, but whose son is going out with the leader of the Resistance? Too many will feel as if that would be handing the country over to the muggleborns.” Amelia scoffed. Susan had told her about that particular couple. Weasley would make for a good scare though - the moderates would rally behind her, as would some of Dumbledore’s friends who had trusted him to keep the muggleborns from getting out of control. Whether the old wizard would have done that was another matter - he had sounded far too radical for Amelia’s taste, in their last talks. As much as it shamed her to admit it, if Dumbledore had died right after the Dark Lord, it would have been better for Britain.
“His eldest is the fiancé of one of the Delacours.”
“The fiancé of a Veela. People will assume that she controls him.” And as welcome as the Delacours’ help was, Amelia knew she wasn’t the only one who was wary of France meddling in Britain’s politics. If the French would commit to more than just tolerating a private initiative, things might be different, but such a commitment was very unlikely.
“Just remember, Bones: The muggleborns don’t trust you. Your Aurors spent too much time hunting them. You’ll have to tread very carefully with them.” Moody grinned again.
“I’ve spoken with their leader. The Resistance know that we need to work together to beat the Dark Lord.” Granger was young, but she wasn’t that foolish. And she had not even a dozen wands left - with a bit of luck, even more of them would die before the war was over.
“I’m not talking about just the Resistance, Bones.”
Amelia narrowed her eyes at him. “The rest of them fled and hid.” Unorganised rabble, on the level of the scum in Knockturn Alley - a persistent nuisance, but no real threat.
“That was before they had an example to follow.” Moody stood up, coughing again. “I’ll head back to Hogwarts, to continue the investigation. Have whoever you send to Hogwarts report to me. I’ll keep them from getting embarrassed by the students there.”
She didn’t let herself to react to Moody’s last jibe and simply nodded while the old Auror left. She had an election to organise, and quickly.
Outside Stamford, Lincolnshire, Britain, January 26th, 1997
The Dark Lord Voldemort stared at the note that had just reached him. His greatest enemy, dead? In the middle of the Headmaster’s office, even? Who but Voldemort himself could have achieved such a thing?
It could be a ruse, of course. A trap, meant to draw him out, overextend himself, so the Headmaster could ambush him. For a wizard of Dumbledore’s power and experience, faking his death would not be difficult. And yet… Would his enemy actually go that far? Shake the faith of Britain’s sheep in himself? Of course Dumbledore would do it - hadn’t he sacrificed two of his friends in an attempted ambush already?
The Dark Lord shook his head. No, he would have to stick to his plan, at least for now. See how long Dumbledore was willing to let this go on. Prepare to denounce the old man as a cruel manipulator, once he had revealed his deception. And if this was true, if someone had actually managed to kill his greatest foe, then the Dark Lord might even be able to exploit that. It would have been a foreigner, and Voldemort would be able to offer Britain his protection against this new threat.
But who could have done this? There was no wizard equal to Dumbledore, much less himself, in Europe. That Voldemort knew for certain. And what other part of the world would have a stake in British affairs? The Ottoman Empire might carry a grudge - Dumbledore had been the driving force behind the coalition that had forced them to end their slave raids against the Mediterranean enclaves, but that had been decades ago, and they’d risk a new coalition forming in response. Although… Dumbledore’s ‘visit’ to the Caribbean had been over thirty years ago as well, and the houngans were even better at keeping grudges. Voldemort had managed to exploit that when he had traveled through the area himself, a few years later…
His gaze fell on the skull on his desk. The skull he had taken from the Library of Souls, replaced with a trapped decoy. The skull anyone researching his Withering Curse would try to use. He had tied the trap to the wards of the place. Not something that was done often, since most intruders or attackers would take down the wards of a location before entering. Of course, the owners of the place would not have done that. But if instead of some houngan Dumbledore had managed to enter with the wards still active… Voldemort’s curses would have been empowered by protections which had been growing in power for centuries...
He summoned some parchment. He had inquiries to make.
Hogwarts, January 26th, 1997
While his godfather talked into an enchanted mirror, Harry Potter looked around the Headmaster’s office with some trepidation. Dumbledore had died here, in this very room. He wondered if the faint rotten smell was just his imagination, or a lingering reminder of the Headmaster’s death - a curse powerful enough to kill Dumbledore, despite Fawkes’s help, might also withstand a cleaning charm. It would fit the Dark Lord’s style to curse the Headmaster’s office that way - he had cursed the DADA teacher’s position, after all.
Harry was studying the various trinkets on the shelves when the door to the office was opened and Hermione and Ron walked in.
“What’s the emergency?” Hermione asked as soon as Ron had closed the door. She looked quite tense - understandably, in Harry’s opinion. “Sirius didn’t want to tell us through the mirror.” She looked around. “Where is he anyway?”
“He’s in the back,” Harry said, nodding gesturing towards the door behind the Headmaster’s seat, “preparing the Pensieve.”
He saw her eyes widen, and he nodded slowly. “Apparently, Dumbledore left us a message.”
“Us three?” Ron asked.
“Yes, you three!”
Harry turned and saw that Sirius had entered the office. “Albus gave me a vial with a memory, and was quite clear that you three - and only you three - were to see it.”
“Blimey.” Ron sounded more surprised than Harry had expected - the two of them had been training with the Headmaster, after all.
“Come on, you three - everything’s ready.” Sirius waved them forward.
Harry exchanged a glance with his friends, and the three stepped into the Headmaster’s quarters.
Sirius closed the door behind them, then cast a charm on it. “Moody should keep eavesdroppers out, but we shouldn’t waste time.”
“Aurors will be arriving soon, I assume,” Hermione said.
“Probably. Wizards and witches in red robes, at least.” Sirius scoffed. “They’re as useless as the curse-fodder the Ministry was recruiting in the last war.”
“There are still veterans left among the Ministry’s forces,” Ron pointed out.
“They won’t send them here, though.” Sirius snorted. “The Wizengamot and the Ministry want the best Aurors and Hit-Wizards right at their side - protecting them.”
Hermione muttered something Harry didn’t catch, but before he could ask her what she had said, they reached an alcove in the Headmaster’s quarters, where a stone basin stood. It looked like it was marble - and covered with runes. Dumbledore’s Pensieve. Above it was a small cloud - mist or smoke.
“You know how to use it?” Sirius asked. Hermione was about to answer, Harry saw her open her mouth, but his godfather went on anyway: “Just push your head into the mist above the basin. Get comfortable first - you might not feel anything while you’re watching the memory, but afterwards you’ll feel it if you were cramped.”
Harry didn’t care about that - he wanted to know what message Dumbledore had left them - and simply leaned forward until his head entered the mist.
He found himself in a very familiar scene. He was standing in front of the Headmaster’s desk, with Dumbledore seated behind it. The old wizard was smiling gently.
“Harry, Mister Weasley, Miss Granger. If you are watching this memory, then I am dead.” He smiled. “Or, as I prefer, I have gone on the next Great Adventure. I cannot tell you how I died - if I knew that I would have avoided it, of course - but since I came very close to dying in the fight with Tom Riddle in Hogsmeade, I think it is a safe assumption that he proved to be more devious than I thought.” He sighed.
“In any case, unless I managed to at least destroy his body before I died, Tom will jump at the opportunity my death offers him, and move against the Ministry and Hogwarts, which he will perceive as defenceless. A not altogether wrong assumption, to be honest. Without any false modesty, I have to say that with me gone, there is no wizard or witch left in Britain who can fight him as an equal on the battlefield. And while that is a grim truth, even worse is the fact that most wizards and witches will know this. While I do not expect the Ministry or my friends to surrender, I have to assume that they will fight with the courage born out of desperation, expecting to lose. Which is often a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
The Headmaster sighed once again, and his smile slipped just a bit. “And yet, you, you three, you know that the situation, dire as it may appear, is far from hopeless. Harry, you have made much progress in your training. I hope that between this message and my death, I have managed to teach you a bit more, but that does not matter that much. You know what you need to know, and more training will be helpful, but not crucial.”
Harry didn’t think so. “I can barely catch a glimpse of a fake memory,” he muttered.
“You might not think that you are ready, of course,” the Headmaster’s memory continued, as if it had heard Harry, “which is only natural - facing the Dark Lord in single combat, even, or especially, in your mind, is quite daunting.”
The old wizard had a gift for understatement, Harry thought.
“Which is why we will be cheating.”
“What?” Harry thought all three of them had said the same thing in response to this statement.
Dumbledore, smiling widely now, raised his wand. “With this, to be exact. You have heard the saying ‘the wand chooses the wizard’, I assume - Garrick is quite fond of quoting it. It is true as well - each wand is suited best for a single wizard or witch. If they use another wand, one less suited for them, their spellcasting suffers. Mister Weasley has experienced this personally, as you may recall.”
“Yes,” Harry heard Ron mutter, before Hermione shushed him.
“And yet, there is one known exception - although there might be more; we can hardly be certain where magic is concerned - a wand that will serve anyone wielding it, and better than any other wand: The Elder Wand.”
“Blimey!” Ron said.
Harry glaced at him and saw that Hermione was doing the same. Obviously, their friend knew what this meant.
“Thought by most wizards to be a legend, and sought by those who think it is real, the Elder Wand is said to have been crafted by Death itself.” Dumbledore slowly shook his head. “I do not believe this. I think it is far more likely that its first wielder, Antioch Peverell, made that up to conceal the wand’s origin - either because he killed its former wielder, or because he had crafted it himself using the Dark Arts. Although seeing as I am dead, I might have been proven incorrect by now.” He smiled again. “No matter its origin, the Elder Wand will allow you, Harry, to penetrate the Dark Lord’s defences, and face him in his own mind. It will not grant you victory, though. No wand, no spell will affect the struggle between you and Tom. All the Elder Wand will allow you to do is to reach his mind; the rest will be up to you.”
Harry pressed his lips together. When the Headmaster’s memory had mentioned cheating, he had hoped for something more. He should have known it wouldn’t be that simple.
“As you already know, you will have to be rather close to Voldemort to use Legilimency. Unlike before, finding him will not be the main challenge any more - after my death, the Dark Lord will grow quite bold. But you will have to brave his followers, and himself, without my protection. Ideally, he would seek you out to duel, to prove his own superiority, but I fear that after killing me, he will not feel the need for such a gesture.” Dumbledore’s smile disappeared. “A situation that can be laid at my feet, and for which I hope you will be able to forgive me.”
The old wizard’s memory took a deep breath. “Mister Weasley, Miss Granger, it will be up to you and your friends and allies to protect Harry in my place, against the Dark Lord’s followers and Voldemort himself.”
Harry was about to protest - he didn’t want his friends to take such risks for him - but Hermione shushed him and Ron glared at him.
“I wish I could give you more advice on how to face the Dark Lord and his followers, but as my death proved, my plans were not as well-made as I thought. ”
Harry heard Ron snort in response, and Hermione whisper something he didn’t quite catch. Before he could say anything, though, the Headmaster’s memory spoke up again: “However, I can leave you, Mister Weasley, Miss Granger, something more tangible than mere advice. Miss Granger, I leave you a quite exclusive collection of tomes you should find useful for dealing with the Dark Arts. I will caution you, though: It is very easy to think that the best counter to a dark curse is another dark curse. While that may be true in some cases, such ‘solutions’ are often more dangerous than the problems they are meant to solve. Do not succumb to such temptation - you will regret it, trust me.”
Harry glanced to Hermione and saw that the witch was tense, trembling even, as she slowly nodded.
“Mister Weasley, you may think you are just an average wizard doing what he can to help his friends, but you have proven yourself both courageous and able to think on your feet, facing dangers experienced Aurors would run from, or fail to deal with. I leave you a number of trinkets I have collected over the years which you should find useful. As with Miss Granger, I have to caution you, though - they can be quite dangerous, if used improperly. And sometimes even if used properly.” With a faint smile, the memory added: “I trust your experience with your brothers will serve you well there.”
“Merlin’s balls!” Ron exclaimed, only to be shushed again by Hermione.
“You may wonder why you three are hearing this, and not others, such as Alastor, Sirius and my brother, people who will fight at your side, risking their lives to defeat the Dark Lord.”
Now that the Headmaster’s image was mentioning it, Harry wondered why Sirius wasn’t in there with them.
“The reason for singling you three out is that Voldemort’s legacy will continue to threaten Wizarding Britain even after his final death. I am not talking about his surviving followers, but the hatred and fear his manipulations and ploys have caused.”
Harry saw that the Headmaster looked more serious than ever before in this memory.
“War brutalises people. As their friends and kin are killed, each side feels justified in retaliating - and escalating. Especially when fighting an enemy as vile as the Dark Lord and his followers. Violence often comes easier to those who have fought in a war. I have seen this in several wars myself. Experienced it, even, to my great shame.”
Harry’s eyes widened. He hadn’t expected that. The Headmaster, doing …
“The Dark Lord’s actions have discredited his cause, and his followers. I do not doubt that the surviving Death Eaters will be brought to justice.” Dumbledore took a deep breath. “But many pureblood wizards and witches will not see justice being done. They will see revenge being taken by the victors. They have been told for over a year how dangerous the muggleborns are, and how brutal. Even if they have not taken any action against muggleborns, even if they have not abused the laws passed by the Ministry, they will be afraid of being punished just for being purebloods. Those who have been raised in the belief that blood matters will expect others - the muggleborns - to act accordingly, and judge people by their blood, not their deeds.
“On the other hand, the muggleborns have been persecuted for a year, forced to leave their homes and go into hiding. They have seen friends and family arrested, killed even, for no other reason than having been born to muggles. They have seen their homes, their businesses, taken over by purebloods profiteering from the Ministry’s laws. Many of them will not want mere justice, but revenge. And some will not care who they hurt, as long as it is a pureblood.”
Harry heard Hermione hiss, and knew what she was thinking. And remembering.
“Britain will be a cauldron ready to boil over after Voldemort’s defeat. And I fear that many of my oldest friends and allies will not be able to do what needs to be done to avoid a bloodbath - or another war in ten or twenty years.”
“What?” Harry almost forgot that he was watching a memory. What was the Headmaster saying?
“Sirius has spent over a decade unjustly imprisoned in Azkaban, surrounded by monsters forcing him to relive his worst memories. His opinion of the Ministry is as biased as one would expect after such an ordeal. Alastor has spent decades hunting dark wizards, and has been crippled for his efforts - and left unable to trust anyone. My brother… it is not my story to tell, but he has been deeply wronged by this country, and hasn’t been the same since. Arthur is a good man, but he has been scorned and belittled by many in the Ministry, and like Molly, family comes first for him. Amelia is too rooted in the status quo, too convinced of her own principles, too unwilling to question herself or to bend when needed. Cornelius is too quick to bow to pressure, too easy to influence.
“Britain needs justice and reforms, but most of all, it needs people who will do what’s right, not what’s easy. People who will side with the innocents, even against their friends and family.” The Headmaster pulled his half-moon glasses off and seemed to stare straight at Harry.
“People like you.”
The Headmaster sighed again, and folded his hands. “You must not just win the war, but the peace as well. I hate placing this burden upon you, especially seeing what else you already have to shoulder, but I do not see any alternative. You’re young, but you’ve proven yourselves since your first year at Hogwarts. You have earned my trust again and again. Rest assured that no matter where I am, my thoughts are with you.”
“Blimey, the man’s barmy! Was barmy.”
Harry chuckled at hearing Ron’s expression, though he felt like crying in frustration. Dumbledore expected him to not only defeat the Dark Lord, in single combat, but to reform the country? Three teenagers? “We haven’t even finished school!” he said, as the memory started to fade.
Then he was back in the Headmaster’s alcove, rubbing his temple. His back hurt from being bent for such a long time, and he stretched to relieve some of the pain.
“Told you, but did you listen?” Sirius was shaking his head at him with a rueful grin.
Harry scoffed at him.
“So, what did the Headmaster tell you?”
Harry hesitated. He didn’t want to lie to Sirius, but he didn’t know how his godfather would take the Headmaster’s words.
“He explained how Harry can defeat the Dark Lord,” Ron said. “With our help.”
“And he left us quite a few things to help us,” Hermione added.
“And he told us not to lose the peace,” Harry added. He trusted his godfather. He saw his two friends glancing at him, then at each other.
“That’s kind of comforting to hear,” Sirius said, grinning, “that Dumbledore already thought about the time after the war.”
“It was anything but comforting,” Harry said, snorting. “Trust me, killing Voldemort is the easy part.”
“What?” Sirius was now staring at them.
Hermione spoke up. “According to the Headmaster, Voldemort’s death might start a bloodbath as muggleborns take revenge, and purebloods retaliate.”
“We can’t let any Death Eaters escape justice, or we’ll have to fight them again ten years from now!” Sirius said.
That sounded familiar, Harry thought.
“We won’t let any Death Eaters escape. But the Headmaster is, was, concerned about muggleborns attacking purebloods indiscriminately,” Hermione countered. “He’s correct, too - we’ve seen that happen.”
“Bloody berk,” Ron muttered. Louder, he added: “And he doesn’t think you and the rest of the Order will be able to keep the muggleborns in check in that case.”
Sirius frowned. “How bad could it be?”
Hermione looked at him. “Purebloods and muggleborns starting to kill each other, like Death Eaters - attacking homes, starting riots, trying to drive their neighbours out…”
Sirius cursed. “They’re not Death Eaters!”
“No, but it won’t be too long before people on both sides start acting like them,” Hermione said. “As long as everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing…”
Sirius was silent for a moment. Then he spoke up again: “But what if they are attacking Death Eaters, like the Resistance?”
“How would they know who’s a Death Eater? We have had a lot of trouble finding them, even with all the spying and other help we received,” Hermione said. “We cannot tolerate vigilante justice, certainly not once Voldemort is dead and the war won.”
“But who will take over hunting the Death Eaters down? The muggleborns don’t trust the Ministry, and many of the purebloods don’t trust the muggleborns,” Ron asked.
“Hah!” Sirius sneered. “Trust the Ministry with hunting the Death Eaters? They couldn’t hunt down a bunch of dead flobberworms in an empty room!”
“We can’t just take over the country and replace the Old Families with ourselves. We need to reform the Ministry and Wizarding Britain,” Hermione said. “And we need the trust of the purebloods too - those who did not support the Dark Lord, at least.”
“Those are either already on our side, or too cowardly to do anything, no matter who’s ruling them.” Sirius shrugged. “But let’s get you your inheritances, and then let’s focus on killing the Dark Lord. We can worry about the rest once we have won the war.”
Harry nodded in agreement.
Ron Weasley watched as Sirius handed Harry Dumbledore’s wand. The Elder Wand. He saw Harry take it, then give it a wave, and saw his friend’s eyes widen when Harry gasped. “Whoa!”
Ron had never been as jealous of his best friend as in that moment. Harry had just been handed the legendary wand of Death himself. One of the three Deathly Hallows. According to legend, people had fought and killed for that wand, risked their lives for it - and Harry just received it as if it was a seven-galleon wand in Ollivander’s. Or, worse, a hand-me-down from another family member, like Ron’s first wand.
Then he remembered why Harry had received the Elder Wand. His friend would have to face Voldemort in a fight to the death, and needed it just to have a chance. Just to be able to challenge the Dark Lord, according to Dumbledore - the wand wouldn’t help him in the actual fight.
Ron had never felt so ashamed of himself. Not since their fourth year, at least.
He saw Sirius hold out a package to him, about the size of a muggle shoe carton his dad had once brought home, and remembered that Dumbledore had left him something as well - a few ‘trinkets’. Hermione received a library, Harry a legendary wand, and he was left with some toys. “Thanks,” he said.
He almost didn’t want to open it, but the sight of Hermione’s eyes lighting up when she was presented with a trunk full of books and Sirius commented that he had ‘spent an hour collecting them in Albus’s flat’ made him look for any distraction, before he started to be jealous of his own girlfriend.
There were half a dozen … ‘trinkets’ was a good description, Ron decided, since he didn’t recognise any of them, inside the package. And a letter. He opened the letter, started to read the descriptions of the different items, and then chuckled, ruefully, at the last line.
I leave you with not just these devices, which should prove to be quite useful in your hands, but also with the counsel that even seemingly modest trinkets can turn out to be crucial and important at the right moment. Just like wizards.
The Headmaster had known him well enough for a last lesson, or so it seemed.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 27th, 1997
She was Minister for Magic. The Wizengamot - those who had dared to attend the emergency session she had called for, at least - had elected her but half an hour before. Everything had been in accordance with the law. Amelia Bones told herself this as she stepped inside the Minister’s office. Her office, now.
It had been repaired since Cornelius’s death, but nothing had been changed. She wasn’t about to change much herself. Cornelius’s personal belongings had been sent to his family already, and the office would suffice for her needs.
It wasn’t as if she would be starting her term in the shadow of her predecessor, as other Ministers had had to. Cornelius would not be counted among the great Ministers. No, she thought, looking at the lead article of the Daily Prophet placed on her desk by her secretary, at the big letters spelling ‘DUMBLEDORE DEAD!’, if anyone was to overshadow her, it was Dumbledore. Even dead his presence lingered. There had already been talks of placing a portrait of him in her office, so it’d be able to advise her once it was activated.
She had not decided to become Minister for Magic to be famous, she told herself as she sat down. She had become Minister because no one else was able to do what was needed to save the country. If she was to be seen as the mouthpiece of a portrait, then that was a small price to pay, as long as she could save Britain.
From all threats, she added to herself, looking at her calendar, where the entry of her upcoming meeting with Black, Potter and Granger was quite prominently placed.
Outside Stamford, Lincolnshire, Britain, January 27th, 1997
The Dark Lord Voldemort sneered at the missive he had just received from his agent. The Houngans of Jamaica had heard of Dumbledore’s death, and claimed that he had been killed while breaking into their holy library. If they thought that such a claim would impress anyone who mattered, then they were fools. Although they might just be trying to cow their own subjects. And some of the houngans might even honestly believe that their pitiful defences had managed to fell his greatest foe, Voldemort thought.
Fortunately, Dumbledore had died in Hogwarts, so the houngans’ claims would look foolish once he took responsibility.
He smiled, his slight anger fading quickly. His greatest, his only foe, was dead. Killed by a clever trap of his, even! A fitting end for Dumbledore, laid low by a Slytherin’s cunning and his mastery of the Dark Arts!
Wizarding Britain was his, now. No one could stand against him now, not for any length of time. All that was left were some minor obstacles: the mudbloods still fighting against their betters, those blindly following Dumbledore even after his death - and the Boy-Who-Lived.
And he had plans to deal with those obstacles.
Hm... Voldemort is too in love with the dark arts. You don't need extra evil bullshit to kill. A stick in the right place is enough.
It's good to see that Dumbledore had an idea what was going to follow. I've got no clue how they want to unify wizarding society after this war. The sentiments are still there and everyone knows.
I guess you could use the Bosnian method. Segregation + a central government so corrupt that people loathe it more than each other.
Now I want to see Arthur Weasley beat Voldemort to death with a baseball bat.
"Damn, these Muggle devices are even more useful than I thought."
Sorry for the delay. With family around and the needed visiting over this period it was impossible for me to get the time to sit down and work on the below.
The problem of course is that with a serious story, like this, unless you start from the start or unless it is clear that things weren’t the same the background colours the story considerably, which is both good and bad. Good because we are familiar with the characters as presented in the original story. Bad because we are familiar with the characters as presented in the original story.
I can’t really comment further because what was shone of him previously pressed a number of my buttons, so I’m rather biased against him in this story.
Yes, I and enjoyed how you wrote her, both understandable and believable.
Doesn’t change the fact that because of them, because of how Brenda Brocktuckle was shown, because of Kingsley Shacklebolt and because of Nymphadora Tonks I cannot just equate any unnamed Auror or Hit Wizard with a SS thug.
Not going to comment about Dumbledore because I’m biased.
Regarding a support base though, a support base isn’t people grumbling. It’s people who, if there are elections, are working against you, people who’ll attend rallies, organize rallies and go door to door. It is people who, if your new government sponsored muggleborn shop opens, will organize a protest outside or try to influence people to buy from the pureblood or halfblood shop that’s on the other side of the street. It’s people who’ll make donations to your cause. It’s people who’ll be as unhelpful as they can get away with when Auror’s come to question them and numerous other things as well.
If the Prefects acted as mentors then I cannot recall that we were shown anything in the original story that indicated this. Also, I would expect most to be bad at it.
As to an info dump, sometimes it is appreciated, greatly even, so as to provide background information needed.
However, sometimes an info dump is not needed, just mentioning that there is a specific kind of class, a specific kind of club or that so and so and his or her mentor were busy talking in a corner could have been enough. After all, we know there are classed called Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, but we did not need info dumps about them.
If it was done properly and subtly before Voldemort’s return, most definitely possible. And even then, I believe it would have been a medium term piece of work using Hogwarts classes and would have to have been done without giving the impression of forcing children to change.
But now? Without the victors coming off as bullies at best? A large reason for my suggestion has always been to promote goodwill between the pureblood kids and the muggleborn. (The other parts were to weaken and change the culture and to help the muggleborn kids adapt.) Anything that comes off as being forced onto a person, well, so far as I can see, breeds resentment and anger, almost always breeds resentment and anger in the target.
Let me put forth a situation. You tell somebody his beliefs and culture is wrong, evil and bad because somebody, who he and his family did not support, who he and his family might even have actively opposed, who probably killed friends or members of his family, who used his culture as an excuse to conquer his country. That he now has to abandon and revile his culture? How do you expect him to answer? That his culture is evil, or that those who claimed to fight for his culture was evil? That those who he and his family fought against represented the culture, or that those like him represent the culture? I know what answers I would expect from good and neutral purebloods and it isn't that they saw Voldemort as a representative of them or their families.
If they saw Hogwarts as unsafe for their children, an instrument of indoctrination, under the control of people who dislike them (at best) and less than competent in educating their children (this is my view and due to the original books) then I believe that starting from scratch might be more than acceptable.
Given what he said to Amelia I am of the opinion that he would have made certain that people were made aware of what was going to happen, so as to force those Aurors who had done certain things or acted in certain ways to join Voldemort. Am I wrong?
If he did that, I do not see that it would only have remained known among the Aurors, with nobody speaking about it to family members or friends. Further, family generally feel for family and even if they don’t know each other better, they generally believe (with reason) that they do. So yes, I feel comfortable in believing that they would blame Dumbledore.
Yes. If it were possible, if they were allowed to do so and if they actually did it they would need to change a lot, some changes that they would probably aware of, some changes that they would only realize afterwards.
Quite true, there are a number of holes in her world.
But those kind of things and more are what leads me to believe that a magical country would develop a set of customs over time, creating a different culture than what would be found in the non-magical part of the population in the same general geographical region.
Why not work to spread parts of muggle culture to the old families as well? A proper muggle studies class from first year onwards, day trips that include everything from movies to shopping, learning to blend in in case of emergencies and older students being allowed to visit clubs.
In the meantime the muggleborn cam work on pureblood culture, both local and from abroad.
Not forcing anybody to change, but showing alternatives, explaining the reasons behind things and generally being subtle.
But, speaking of muggle culture, there are aspects of it that wouldn't work, or not as well.
Religion is a significant part of a culture, whether a superficial part for some, something more substantial for others or, these days, a major part of their lives for a portion, don’t you agree? Now, how does the major religion in Western Society, Christianity, see magic? Not positively. So, a break between muggle and wizard culture seems needed here, with Muggleborn being steered towards wizard alternatives.
Sex, marriage and our views of these influence us a lot as well. I would hope that whichever parts of whichever culture, muggle or wizard, that promotes freedom as well as the parts that promote personal responsibility be spread. I would however expect that due to certain unsavoury magical possibilities that various parts of the magical culture / cultures would be dominant in these areas.
Television. As far as I know there is no television in the wizardling world in this story. The parts of the wizard culture that fills up those many hours would need to be pushed.
Weapons and self-defence. I believe that that given the possibilities inherent in wands, not to mention wards, the wizardling world’s culture and views are quite different than those of the muggle countries they share space with. I expect that this is another spot where wizardling culture would need to take the lead.
Business. With magical contracts that inflict a curse upon you if you break them being a possibility, legimency and mind and memory alterations, business customs would likely need to follow a number of customs of the wizardling world. However, muggle advances that are not vulnerable to the above could and should be pushed.
What does that leave, culture wise? Manners mostly I think, although some of that might already be included in the above, and the belief that people should be equal. I personally don’t think government is a form of culture, but maybe that too. Anything else?
Honestly, I think a lot of muggle culture would not be appropriate in a magic using society, because magic changes the possibilities available to individuals.
If Snape was capable of effective spell and ritual creation but used as a teacher and spy I would say that the problem is quite widespread, all the various parts of the Wizardling world needs to have some sense shaken into them. Magic is supposed to lead to “more” and “greater” and wonders. (Which was captured beautifully in Patron in my opinion.)
I agree about the top bosses.
I’m not talking just about the top bosses though, but still, unless the new government is going to steal, or to put it nicely, confiscate businesses it’s not really going to matter.
That's why I assume that the past happened in a similar way, but not quite as questionable. F.e. the troll attack happened, Harry and Ron had to save Hermione - but it happened in a way that didn't net Quirrell the Academy Award for worst actor and a subscription for Evil Overlord List and didn't get Dumbledore a talk with Child Care Services, the Police, and a drug test.
Not everyone. But frankly, if you're working for a Ministry that's hell-bent on persecuting muggleborns, then you are a legitimate target. If you are a spy for the good guys, you still know the risks, if you work for the Ministry and try to keep your hands clean... well, you free a bigot who can be sent to do the dirty work.
If your government is turning to fascism and is hunting down muggleborns, the only moral choices are to either quit, or resist. Nymphadora and Kingsley resisted and acted as spies, but they can't expect that anyone fighting the Ministry's enforces would have to stay their hand just on the off-chance that the Auror they see in their sights is actually a spy.
Anyone who actually does such things (like a protest) will disqualify themselves, and brand themselves as a Death Eater. Same for donations for blood purists. Anyone who, after Voldemort's fall, actualyl does such things is either such a fanatic that they'll have committed capital crimes, or so stupid it's a wonder they still have the money left to spend. It's on the level of people holding up signs "Kauft nicht bei Juden" in 1946 Germany at Checkpoint Charlie.
I'll say it again: Pureblood ideology has been utterly disgraced by Voldemort. Anyone with half a brain will notice that, and will avoid even looking like they might sympathise with the notion..
First, you need to qualifiy "Pureblood kids from Old Families". Many purebloods will have no trouble with the muggleborns because they are not part of the Old Families to start with. They may have been brought up to aspire to be part of the families one day, but that can be changed more easily than having been part of the culture.
Second, the victors are the good guys. They have fought the nazis. They will have to denazify them to avoid the next war - and cozying up to them, allowing them to feel as if it was just Voldemort and a few evil followers, and not a foundation of their culture that was the cause of this, will do far more damage.
And yes, it'll bred resentment and anger. And trouble. And conflict. But as with the KKK, trying to appease them is not a good idea. Britain tried this just a year ago, and it caused a damn big civil war.
If he still can't see that a fundamental part of his culture is at fault, then he's probably a lost cause. Look at it as at a country going from a monarchy/aristocracy to a democracy.
Not to mention that a culture that is built on the idea that you're better for being born into an old family cannot be shared with "mudbloods" anyway. It's like trying to share a culture of "Whites are superiour to Blacks" with African-Americans.
And yet that would defeat their purpose, being keeping things as they have been for centuries. I've touched upon that in another story: When the only way to defeat the enemy is to become the enemy, then you have lost the war from the start. Not many will be fanatical enough for such a step.
Dumbledore wanted to push those who had already condemned themselves and would rather join Voldemort than man up for their crimes to break cover. He wanted to avoid a situation where too many scumbags were left alive and in power, like after the last war. Anyone blaming Dumbledore for this would effectively be blaming Dumbledore for fighting Death Eaters. That won't be a popular stance after a defeat of Voldemort.
Yes. But it wouldn't be a monolithic culture. In this story, we have different cultures in Wizarding Britain, and the muggle culture affects a lot of it still, thanks to muggleborns and half-bloods. I'd say that a defining characteristic of Old Families culture would be to be not like muggles. That alienated them from half-bloods as well, and the purebloods not on board with bigotry.
Again, there are pureblood cultures and pureblood cultures. Why bother with saving nazi pureblood culture?
Religion doesn't really play a major part in muggle culture in Europe anymore. The portion who actually cares about religion, and doesn't follow a set of philosophies that are actually violating crucial parts of Christianity (aka: If you do not accept Christ as your saviour your're going to hell no matter how many lives you save) is negligible. Most muggleborns will not really have trouble with religion because no one really gives a damn about the actual bible anymore, and focuses on "love each other, be tolerant and benevolent" and other, quite universal philosophies. And most muggleborns will not really seek wizard alternatives since their version of Christianity doesn't have anything against magic.
Again, in this story, muggle influences are quite present, among half-bloods and muggleborns.
Radio and books. Not that it will matter much once tv is available. Much less once portable internet becomes a thing.
I think you'll need to focus on concepts and ideas, not details. A lot of muggle culture is quite appropriate, if handled and adapted.
That's the problem with anything that relies on individual talent to advance.
As always, if you wish me to drop something or to just stop please say so. You are the author and a very good one.
Unless otherwise shown in a story I always assume that the background is the same or near enough not to matter. I usually wait to see if changes are shown, but if they aren’t I base my thoughts on what was shown in the original and what has now been shown in the new story.
(Which is why I have opinions about Fred, George, Arthur, Snape, McGonagall, Flitwick and Sirius.)
I never argued that Aurors are not a legitimate target in the war. I stated that the attack on Hailey’s Hats was an act of revenge, taken too far, not an act of war, and that those Aurors and Hit Wizards killed were killed while attempting to protect the public, an act that I find admirable. I also stated that due to the examples I gave I do not just see unnamed Aurors and Hit Wizards as SS thugs.
Or they’ll show themselves as haters of Dumbledore and the Resistance. And while I don’t doubt that such distinctions will not be made, they do exist.
Or, to put it another way, if a first year student called Hermione a murderer for killing a slightly older sister attended the ball, tried to work against her recruiting students for the resistance and later, opposed her politically and in any business ventures Hermione was involved in, would that make the student a Death Eater or would that make the student somebody who hated (with a valid reason) Hermione?
That is in a nutshell what I’m talking about, not supporters of Voldemort, but those that would have opposed Dumbledore if he lived, because of what he did, in their eyes, to their loved ones.
My apologies for not being clear about "Pureblood kids from Old Families.
Victors aren’t good guys. They’re victors. Depending upon how they achieved their victory and what they do after the victory shows whether they’re good guys or not. (And even then it is still somewhat subjective.)
I will not speak about Dumbledore, but as it is Hermione has already killed children, and in all likelihood people neutral to her cause at least, in the bomb attack on Malfoy Manor. She has killed a murderer and hidden the fact instead of having him stand trial and be executed, denying his victims’ families and friend’s either justice or closure, depending upon how you view such things. She has taken a criminal who should be judged and executed into her organization. All of these things were necessary, but they weren’t good. She’s a white hat, but it has been stained by what she has had to do. What she still will do will determine whether she stays a white hat or not
As to Nazi’s. You’ve consistently likened the culture of the Old Pureblood families to Nazis, when, so far as I can recall it being shown, that isn’t the case. Bigoted, certainly, on its way to that to appease Voldemort, yes that has been shown, but not yet a Nazi’s culture.
And, as I’ve said, that is one of the reasons why I mentioned Muggleborn having a Wizardling culture class, to weaken and change the culture.
No, in the story Britain was shown to try and appease Voldemort. And this is not appeasement, this was me explaining how Muggleborn learning about Pureblood culture, minimizing the obvious differences between them and pureblood children, allows the children to actually get to know one another without the bigotry learned from their parents stopping the old family pureblood from approaching the muggleborn. Thereby reducing bigotry in the next generations.
I would say that it makes him human and not a self-hating one. He is part of his culture. His culture is part of him. If he and others who are part of his culture opposed Voldemort then no, I do not see him as seeing his culture being at fault.
Also, are there any magical countries that are pure democracies? From what was said in the story so far the answer appears to be no, or if there are then Hermione didn’t consider immigrating to them, which seems to indicate that this is either new or any existing democracies are an utter mess. So, either a mess or a new thing. And if it is a new thing, then why should he think a pure democracy is a good thing? (We know why, the question is why should he think that with his knowledge base.)
Like I previously said, I do not see the superficial aspects, or even the medium aspects of a culture as anything but that. If you do we’ll have to disagree.
And I believe that parents would be willing to change to protect their children. They’ll likely try to control the change, but create a new school if they think Hogwarts is unsafe? I believe yes. (And Hogwarts having competition would be good.)
Also, I believe that some control over how one changes is always better than no control.
I’m not talking about a popular stance. I’m talking about human nature and how a person will see somebody whose words and decisions prevented a loved one from surviving, if they believed the loved one would have been able to survive otherwise.
Not saving it but changing the old family pureblood culture by spreading it among Muggleborn while robbing it of its "specialness" as a medium term way of trying to mend the damage that I believe this civil war will do to the country. I know it will not happen, but that is what and why I wrote it.
I did not know that Wizardling Britain has its own version of Christianity that disregarded the bible.
And chess, various board games, various card games, things like bridge clubs, amateur theatre productions, poetry readings, amateur musical performances, eating at the table, book clubs and probably a whole heap of things I can’t think of. A pre television culture is quite different from a television culture. And if the issues with wards are addressed, allowing electronics, then up until that time there will be a difference that should have been addressed just to ease the child.
That still leaves out dating, sex, marriage, business, self-defence and whatever I did not think of
Everybody being equal in the eyes of the law does not help the new business owner who did not realize that making claims to get the contract, claims that he would only be able to make good on when he was able to show the supplier the contract, would ruin his reputation as the customary sip before signing was actually Veritaserum. It does not help the girl married to the abusive bastard because she was never taught that accepting edibles from your date is a no and that being checked by a qualified chaperone is more than a stupid tradition of backward purebloods, and since he keeps up the potions she’ll never try to leave her “love”. It does not help the new door to door salesman who does not know opening a gate to go and knock on a door is a bad idea.
Personally I think most things in the real world relies on talent to advance, but lesser intelligence's and talents can still advance us, either little bit by little bit or more, by working together. I think that is why we’ve come as far as we have.
Chapter 38: Politics
‘Amelia Bones was the obvious choice to succeed Cornelius Fudge. The witch had been leading the Department of Magical Law Enforcement throughout the Second Blood War, and was widely seen as both competent and incorruptible - and willing to die rather than surrender to the Dark Lord. Those who had tied their fates to Dumbledore saw her as their last hope to survive the war after the Chief Warlock had been killed.
However, Amelia Bones also had the reputation of a witch who scorned politics. More than a few members of the Wizengamot must have been privately wondering - and worrying - about how she would handle issues that required compromises and deals, instead of a firm dedication to upholding the law.
Her biggest problem, though, was the fact that for many muggleborns, Amelia Bones had been the face of the Ministry’s oppression. It had been she who commanded the Aurors and Hit-Wizards harassing and arresting them, she who led the Ministry’s efforts to enforce the muggleborn laws, and she who had authorised the undercover mission against the Muggleborn Resistance. Some of the muggleborns who had not lived through the First Blood War even considered her a worse enemy than Voldemort himself.’
- Excerpt from ‘The Second Blood War’ by Hyacinth Selwyn
London, Diagon Alley, January 27th, 1997
Hermione Granger entered Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes wearing a wig, large old-fashioned glasses, and slightly shabby robes. None of which were affected by the door’s variant of the Thief’s Downfall. One of the twins was behind the counter, sorting through a box of various enchanted sour drops with his wand - which was pointed in her direction when she stepped closer. She suppressed the urge to draw her own. No one else was around.
She put her hands on the counter and leaned forward, ignoring the way his wand was almost touching her chest. “Hi Forge,” she said.
His eyes widened when he - finally - recognised her. “Using muggle disguises is cheating,” he mock-complained.
“Think of it as pointing out a weakness in your defences.” Hermione smiled for a moment, then grew serious again. “Do you have a moment?”
“Of course.” A flick of his wand flipped the sign on the door to ‘closed’, and a swish opened the door to the backroom. “After you, milady!” he said, grinning exaggeratedly.
Hermione snorted. When she stepped through the door, she felt a slight tingling sensation running over her. More enchantments. And the door had been reinforced as well. She glanced at the twin behind her.
He shrugged. “Can’t be too cautious, with Dumbledore gone.”
She nodded. The shop had been attacked during the riot in Diagon Alley, and later Davis and Greengrass had tried to infiltrate it. The Death Eaters would certainly try again soon. “You’re not planning to stay and fight.” She didn’t make it sound as a question, but she wasn’t quite as certain as she tried to appear. The twins had been quite reckless in the past. They hadn’t been in a war back then, though.
“No. Just long enough to make them pay for attacking us.” The wizard grinned. “We have prepared our escape routes, and a nasty surprise. After this and the Burrow, they will never dare to attack a Weasley home again!”
Hermione doubted that - the Dark Lord would want to demonstrate that the Weasleys could not stand up to him and his followers. “Are you prepared for the Dark Lord walking down Diagon Alley too?”
Fred - or George, she still couldn’t tell them apart - winced. “We could be prepared… if we were willing to destroy most of Diagon Alley and probably break the Statute of Secrecy.”
Hermione nodded. Apparently, they had acquired their own explosives. “Yes. That is a concern.”
“Hopefully the Dark Lord will think we are prepared to do so.” The wizard was looking at her quite peculiarly.
Hermione nodded again. “We could probably prepare a shaped charge that would not do too much collateral damage, but the odds of the Dark Lord walking on top of such a bomb…” she shrugged. “He has used explosives himself, so he’ll be watching out for them. There are ways around the common detection spells, but…”
“Which means you’ll have to drop a bomb on him, if you want to kill him. One of those that destroyed Malfoy Manor.” He wasn’t dropping the topic.
“I think he’ll be prepared for that as well. We’d need to prevent all sorts of magical travel right before the bomb is dropped…” she trailed off.
“And that means whoever is casting the jinxes will not escape either.”
“Yes.” And coordinating such an attack would require a lot of planning, and probably some luck as well.
“You’d still try it if you saw an opportunity, right?” He leaned against a workbench, crossing his arms.
“As a desperate measure, yes. But we’ve made other plans.” Hermione smiled. “Dumbledore’s been preparing a surprise for the Dark Lord for a while, and his death hasn’t stopped the preparations.”
“Yes.” She wasn’t about to tell him anything else. She probably shouldn’t have told him as much as she had, Hermione thought. But he deserved to know that not all hope was lost. Especially since the twins might try something brave but desperate themselves otherwise.
“I don’t suppose that you are visiting our humble abode because you need help with that?”
She shook her head. “No. I’m here because of Dennis Creevey. He’s a victim of the Withering Curse, and we don’t want to leave him in the Ministry’s care, but we also can’t spare the people to take care of him ourselves. We’d like to let those who take care of Greengrass and Davis take over.”
“It’s not us,” he said, frowning for a second.
“But you know them.” She kept looking straight at him.
“And the Headmaster organised them.”
“So, they can be trusted.” Or so Hermione assumed. Dumbledore’s death had changed a lot, but many would simply try to go on as usual.
“Yes.” The twin sighed. “I’ll contact them.”
“Thank you. With a bit of luck, it won’t be needed for long.” But longer than he’d expect, Hermione thought. Once Voldemort was dead, the Ministry would be taking another look at their alliance. Tomorrow’s meeting with Bones would be crucial to lay the groundwork for the time after the war.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 27th, 1997
Brenda Brocktuckle pushed the meal that had been floated into her cell around on the tray. She had been hungry, until she’d overheard the guards’ conversation through the slit in her cell’s door while they distributed the meals. Dumbledore was dead! Killed by a dark curse!
A few months ago, such news would have shocked and saddened Brenda Brocktuckle. But now, sitting in a cell in the Ministry, she smiled. With the Headmaster dead, the Dark Lord was certain to win the war. And without Dumbledore, the Ministry wouldn’t be able to resist - they certainly wouldn’t dare to sentence her or the other prisoners to death!
She knew that the Dark Lord didn’t care that much about his followers, especially not those who had failed him, but executing them would be a slight he’d have to repay with blood. Lots of blood. And, she told herself, not for the first time, she hadn’t failed him. She had done what she had been ordered to - she had planted the cursed paper aeroplanes and had struck down the traitors in the Auror Corps. That she had failed to take over the Ministry hadn’t been her fault; others had failed to stop the mudbloods and French from breaching their lines. If anyone was to blame, then it would be Bellatrix Lestrange. The dark witch had been in command. Brenda had only followed orders.
She just hoped the Dark Lord would see it that way. At least she had been under Malcom’s command as well, so if the Dark Lord was looking for a scapegoat, and unwilling to let Lestrange be blamed - rumours claimed she had been his lover - maybe Malcolm would be the one to get tortured as a punishment.
Brenda put the tray down on her bed, drew her legs up and wrapped her arms around her knees. And even if that didn’t work out… she didn’t want to get tortured, but anything was better than dying. At least the Ministry couldn’t get a Dementor to suck out her soul. And, she thought, with a cynical smile, they couldn’t send her to Azkaban to be guarded by Dementors either.
She snorted, almost against her will. Who would have thought that there’d be a day she’d be glad that the Ministry had lost control of the Dementors? She was an Auror, she shouldn’t be imprisoned in the very cell to which she had sent so many criminals! It was all the fault of those mudbloods, and of the blood traitors!
She hissed through her clenched teeth. They’d pay. Brenda would get out of these cells, and she’d make all of them pay.
London, East End, January 27th, 1997
“Home, sweet home,” Hermione Granger whispered when she entered the safe house in London to which the Resistance had returned. It wasn’t quite the joke she would have liked it to be - after months of living here, moving back from Hogwarts felt like coming home.
And wasn’t that sad.
“How did it go?” Sally-Anne stepped out of the kitchen as soon as Hermione drew near - the other witch must have waited for her.
“We can move Dennis later today,” Hermione said.
Sally-Anne smiled. “Thank God!” She sighed. “I mean, I’d like to care for him, and it wouldn’t take much, but…”
“We can’t spare a permanent guard for him, and if anything happened, no one would know how to find him,” Hermione finished for her friend. She didn’t mention that should all of the Resistance perish, then the odds of Dennis ever being woken up, much less getting cured, would be very, very low.
“Yes. But I still feel guilty about moving him out from here.” Sally-Anne grimaced.
“Me too,” Hermione said. She wasn’t quite lying, but she felt rather more guilty about failing him in the first place. Besides, Dennis would understand that they couldn’t spare anyone to care for him, not if they wanted to win this war.
“Have you heard anything from the Ministry?” Sally-Anne asked.
Hermione saw that the other girl was fidgeting with her hands. Not quite wringing them, but close. She shook her head. “No. Tomorrow’s meeting hasn’t been rescheduled, though.”
“I don’t like that you’re going there alone.” Sally-Anne was frowning, though it looked more like a pout.
“If it’s a trap, then I’d rather have everyone else safe. Your chances of saving me are much greater that way.” Hermione had used that argument quite often in the discussion. “I won’t be alone, anyway. And Ron will not be at the meeting either.” Although he’d be in the Ministry, visiting his father and brother.
Sally-Anne blinked. “Why not? Everyone at Hogwarts knows about your relationship after you spilled the beans to Brown and Patil.” There was a slight sneer in her voice when she mentioned the two Gryffindors.
“I’m attending for the Resistance, Sirius will represent the Order, and Harry is the Boy-Who-Lived,” Hermione said.
“Ah. No place for the Resistance leader’s pureblood boyfriend?” Sally-Anne was smiling now, teasing.
“We’d actually considered that,” Hermione said. “To show that we don’t care about blood.” She smiled cynically when she saw the other witch wince slightly - lately, some of the Resistance seemed to care greatly about someone’s blood - and continued: “But I think Bones would not think highly of me should I show up with a boyfriend to a meeting.”
“She’d underestimate you, though.”
“She might - and as a result, she might betray us.” Hermione knew that the Resistance was not quite as strong as many, including some of their own members, thought they were. The Ministry would regret it, deeply, but that wouldn’t help those killed in an ambush, or in retaliation.
“What? Do you think Bones will sell us out to the Dark Lord?” Sally-Anne was gaping at her.
“No. She’s too smart to stab us in the back during the war, either. But once the war is over the Ministry won’t need us any more. If the Minister sees us as a bunch of kids led by a stupid teenager she’ll be unlikely to work with us.” Quite the contrary, actually.
Sally-Anne exhaled loudly. “We are rather young. Especially for wizards and witches.”
“Yes.” And if they acted their age, they’d invite trouble. Hermione snorted - she had spent a big part of her time at Hogwarts trying to get Harry and Ron to act more maturely. This wasn’t that different.
Far more was at stake this time, though.
Hogwarts, January 27th, 1997
Harry Potter knew that voice. He had heard it often enough in the last few days - both cheerful, and desperate. Luna was definitely sounding cheerful today. She was about the only one in Hogwarts, with the possible exception of some secret pureblood bigots, he thought. He turned around and saw Luna and Ginny walking towards Ron and him. They must have just left the infirmary.
“Hi, Luna, hi, Ginny,” he said.
“Hi.” Ginny’s greeting was not as enthusiastic as Luna’s.
Ron simply nodded at them. Harry’s friend seemed to either miss or ignore his sister’s resulting frown - he had been quite distracted, after Dumbledore’s message.
“How is your father?” Harry asked, before a sibling row could break out. Tempers were frayed enough.
“He’s already writing and researching again!” Luna said, beaming at him. “Madam Pomfrey released him a few days ago.” Scrunching her nose, she added: “Although he might be a carrier for some illness - she said he’d drive the other patients crazy if he were to stay longer. I’ll have to ask her for treatment for that.”
Harry didn’t quite know how to answer that. He settled on nodding. “How are you two doing?”
“With Daddy healthy again, I’m doing fine!” Luna said with a wide smile.
“Shouldn’t we ask you that?” Ginny said. “You were very close to Dumbledore.” She bit her lip right afterwards.
Before Harry could assure the girl that this wasn’t exactly a secret, Luna piped up. “Oh, yes. I think Harry holds the record for being called to the Headmaster’s office. I’d have to ask Hermione to check.”
“It wasn’t quite like that,” Harry said.
Ron chuckled. “Close enough, in our early years.”
Although Harry realised that they were correct - he couldn’t remember any students who had met Dumbledore as often. The Headmaster had been quite distant, for all his friendly manner.
“Will you be OK?”
Ginny’s question shook Harry out of his thoughts. The witch was staring at him.
She was probably worried about the war, with her family so prominently involved. Harry slowly nodded. “The Headmaster was prepared for such an… eventuality, I think he’d say.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Ginny said with a frown, “but what about you?”
“Yes, you.” Ginny was still staring at him. “And don’t say you’re fine!”
Harry was tempted to say it anyway. He sighed instead. “I’ll be alright.” Once Voldemort was dead.
“Don’t nag him, Ginny,” Ron said.
The two siblings stared at each other for a moment, then Ginny looked away. “Sorry.”
“No problem,” Harry said. It was nice to see that she cared. And he was used to ‘interventions’, as Hermione called them, that were a bit more pushy.
Which reminded him of tomorrow’s meetings, and his good mood vanished. If the Ministry tried to double-cross them… He shook his head. “We have to go. More training.” That was no secret either.
“Oh! Good luck!” Luna said, brightly.
“We should get training as well,” Ginny said. “It’s not safe here, not any more.” She looked at Harry, her chin slightly raised, before glancing at Ron.
She wasn’t wrong, Harry thought, but the kind of training he and Ron were doing tonight wouldn’t help the girl. “We’ll talk to Moody,” he said after a moment.
Ron glanced at him, but didn’t say anything while Ginny smiled. Luna nodded, though Harry couldn’t tell if the blonde Ravenclaw actually knew what they were talking about.
A few minutes after they had left the girls, Harry and Ron were in the room Moody used for their lesson. They were alone, though. Dumbledore was dead, Sirius was busy at the Ministry, Remus still in Albania, and Moody wouldn’t trust anyone to enter his mind.
That left just one person to practise on.
Harry aimed his wand - the Elder Wand - at Ron.
“Remember: No embarrassing scenes,” his friend said, flinching a tiny bit.
“Promise,” Harry said. He had no plans to delve into Ron’s childhood memories. He had other plans, though. “Legilimens!”
Harry entered Ron’s mind as if his friend had no Occlumency shields at all. A second after he had cast, he was amidst spheres containing memories, drifting around, changing sizes as they floated by in a cacophony of words and sounds. Harry focused his mind, his will. He wanted specific memories. They wouldn’t be embarrassing, he knew that already, Harry told himself to ease the guilt he felt.
It was hard to find the memory he wanted, so many other memories were swirling around him. Some he just needed to catch a glimpse of, or a word, to remember them himself… there! He grit his teeth and dived in.
He was in a small restaurant. A French one, judging by the menus and the accents. Looking around, he spotted his two best friends at a table. Hermione was wearing a short black dress. Not an evening gown. Ron was wearing a jacket, though. But the whole set up of the date seemed… less expensive, certainly less formal than Harry’s own date with the witch. They were talking about France, about Ron’s family. And about Allan Baker. And the Yule Ball. Ron was quite open. Brutally honest, even, Harry would say. No pretenses.
He dropped out of the scene when Ron reached out to hold Hermione’s hand.
He floated for a while - how long he couldn’t say - pondering if he should check another memory of them together. To find out what Ron had done differently. What had made Hermione choose Harry’s friend over him.
He decided against it, though. He felt guilty - and stupid - enough about this already. She had made her choice.
He opened his eyes again and saw Ron sitting down on a bench, rubbing his temples. “Blimey! I didn’t even notice you, not even when you were inside!”
“It’s the wand,” Harry said, hefting it. “Let’s try it with a Shield Charm,” he added. Ron wasn’t exactly Voldemort. The Dark Lord wouldn’t be that easy.
London, No. 12 Grimmauld Place, January 27th, 1997
“Trust me, Albus had plans for all eventualities. This war is far from lost.” Sirius Black was smiling as confidently as he could at Elphias Doge while he sat in his preferred armchair in the living room of Grimmauld Place.
The old wizard - almost as old as Dumbledore had been, but far from as wise - didn’t look convinced, though. He took a deep breath. “But what can we do, without Albus? No one else could stand against the Dark Lord. His forces barely failed to take the Ministry before, and that was without him being present.” Shaking his almost bald head, he went on: “No. We best flee the country. Gather support on foreign shores.”
Sirius was tempted to tell the man about the prophecy, and the plan to kill Voldemort. That had to remain a secret, though. Instead he snorted. “And what kind of support do you think we’ll be able to gather, as refugees? If a country even takes us in, knowing the Dark Lord will want us dead. How long will we last, bereft of our ancestral homes, and their protections, when he sends out his assassins after us?” He leaned forward, lowering his voice slightly. “We could flee to muggle Britain, of course. Abandon magic and live like muggles.”
Elphias gasped at him. “Surely not!”
“That’s the only alternative. How many enemies did Albus make since he defeated Grindelwald? And how many of them will want to take revenge, with him dead?” Sirius scoffed. “We can hide among muggles, or we can stand and fight.”
“And die,” Elphias added. He sounded more resigned than afraid now, though. At least Sirius thought so.
“We may very well die. Like so many of us in the last war. Did we let that hold us back, or make us back down?” Sirius shook his head. “And trust me, the Dark Lord hasn’t won yet.”
“But what can we do against him? He even killed Albus!”
“Albus made plans, Elphias. That’s all I can say.”
Suddenly, the man’s eyes seemed to light up. “It’s the Boy-Who-Lived, isn’t it? Harry Potter is the only one who has ever defeated the Dark Lord!”
Sirius didn’t wince or frown. He didn’t obliviate Doge either, although he wanted to. He knew it would be futile, though - with Albus dead, people would be turning to Harry as their only hope. It was a sign of how shaken up Doge was over Albus’s death that the wizard hadn’t thought of Harry until now. He wasn’t wrong, of course - Harry was the key to defeating Voldemort for good, although Sirius wouldn’t mind blowing the bastard’s body to dust if given the opportunity. And even without him knowing about the plan, Voldemort wanted to kill Harry anyway. Having him come after Sirius’s godson would only help their plans.
Sirius told himself all that, and still wanted to take Harry and run. Far away. Despite his own words. But he knew that his godson would never run. Even if he might want to, Harry would never leave his friends, and they would never leave either. Gryffindors! He slowly shook his head. “I can’t tell you anything. You know that.”
“I know, I know.” The old wizard was grinning now. “I should have realised it before. All the rumours of special treatment… I won’t tell the others, but I’ll tell them not to give up hope.”
Which was what Sirius had wanted him to do. “Good. We need to stand firm in the Wizengamot. Until…”
Once he had seen his guest out, Sirius leaned back against the wall next to the fireplace, and closed his eyes. Merlin’s balls, he was exhausted! But at least now it seemed as if the Order’s supporters in the Wizengamot would hold together for a bit longer. Which would help in tomorrow’s meeting.
“Did you succeed in stiffening their backbones?”
The familiar accent, and the slightly teasing tone, had him smiling before he opened his eyes and looked at Vivienne d’Aigle. “I hope so.”
The witch was wearing her duelling robes. Cut to not impede her movements, and tight enough to prevent them from snagging on anything - or from providing an enemy with an easy hold - they emphasised her figure as well. An effect she claimed was coincidental. Sirius didn’t think so - duelling was a sport, after all, and that meant spectators. Not that he minded. Although he hadn’t missed that prior to the Battle of the Ministry, and the horrible losses her family had suffered, she hadn’t been wearing these robes quite as often.
“Is there any news from Marcel?” he asked, pushing off the wall.
She shook her head, her smile fading. “The recent news ’as not been received well at ’ome.”
If he hadn’t come to know the Delacours well in their time at his home, especially the witch in front of him, Sirius would have been surprised by how the famous French élan seemed to vanish in the wake of Dumbledore’s death. As it was, he knew better. “The Duc’s having trouble?”
She nodded. “They try to use the opportunity to attack the Duc’s ‘apparent support for violent muggleborns following in Grindelwald’s footsteps’. Fools,” she added with obvious disgust.
She was looking lovely even with her face stuck in a frown. Sirius didn’t know if it was her Veela beauty, or that French je ne sais quoi that was almost as famous as their élan. He took a step forward and gathered her in his arms. The smell of her long blonde hair, hanging loosely down her to the small of her back, was both familiar and enticing. “Your family’s sending help, though, right?”
“Of course!” she answered, indignantly. “Our blood will be avenged.” As he had expected - the French were like that. In a lower voice, though, she added: “But they’ll ’ave to be careful. Marcel cannot appear to defy the Duc. That would force ’im to demonstrate that ’e ’as not lost control of ’is supporters.”
“Politics.” Sirius spat the word out.
“You are a politician, you’d know all about it.” Her tone was teasing, but he knew what she meant. He had responsibilities. Duties. To Harry, of course. And to Britain.
“I’m also - and foremost - a brave and dashing wizard,” he retorted, pulling his head back to meet her eyes with his best smirk. “And I’ve had a very long day.”
“Oh?” Her smile grew more pronounced, more teasing. “You’re too exhausted for anything but rest, then?”
That was a challenge to which Sirius had never - almost never - failed to rise.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 28th, 1997
Amelia Bones didn’t shake her head at the Daily Prophet’s headline article, but her mouth formed a thin line as she read it. According to the article - Skeeter was at it, again - Dumbledore had died fighting dozens of houngans to save the victims of the Withering Curse in Britain, ‘taking them with him into death’s embrace’. A load of drivel, she thought, that would fit much better in The Quibbler. Which had brought out an ‘Albus Dumbledore Memorial Special Issue’, and blamed the man’s death on a curse cast by Grindelwald in their famous duel fifty years ago, which had been held at bay by phoenix tears until now.
She sighed. More trouble for Britain. The Jamaican houngans had already sent a complaint to the ICW. It wouldn’t go anywhere - apart from some sympathetic North American wizard enclaves, they had no allies - but some other countries might use the opportunity to put some pressure on Britain when Amelia’s country was weakened. Payback for some of Dumbledore’s less popular policies as Supreme Mugwump.
“Madam Minister?” Her secretary’s voice coming through the mirror on her desk interrupted her reading. “Auror Moody is here.”
“Send him in.”
“So, how’s it feel, being Minister?” the old Auror asked, in lieu of a greeting.
“It’s just like my old job, just with more stress,” she shot back. It wasn’t quite true, of course. And his laughter told her he didn’t believe her.
“You wanted it.” He conjured a seat for himself and sat down, his artificial eye spinning madly. “Why’d you send for me? I was about to whip some of our better curse-fodder into shape. Make them more likely to hit the enemy with their spells than their own feet.” He tapped his peg leg for emphasis.
“I’ve picked Dawlish as Head Auror.” She steeled herself for Moody’s reaction - his opinion of that Auror was well-known. But Moody wouldn’t make a good Head Auror. He was far too paranoid. And he was Dumbledore’s friend.
“As expected. You don’t really have many decent choices left.” Moody snorted. “At least he’s not one to rock the boat. Who’ll be your successor? Thicknesse?”
“Yes.” Amelia wasn’t certain what annoyed her more - that Moody hadn’t reacted as she had expected, or that he had predicted her so easily.
“Decent man. Useless in a fight, but he won’t screw up paperwork or hinder his Aurors. That’s more than most of the Ministry employees.” Moody chuckled.
Amelia didn’t think that the current state of the Ministry was funny, and didn’t react to the comment.
“Was that all? Or did you want to pick my brain before the meeting with Black, Potter and Granger?”
“Would you tell me anything?” She narrowed her eyes at him. The scarred Auror had been an old friend of Dumbledore’s, and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Probably one of the leaders now, unless Amelia’s estimate of the organisation’s strength was mistaken.
“Of course I would. Don’t want you to make a fatal blunder, after all.” Another wide and ugly grin appeared on Moody’s face.
Amelia wasn’t quite certain if he was trying to rile her up, or if he had become even more abrasive and uncouth lately. Her long experience with him and others in the Ministry allowed her not to show her annoyance, though. “Can we beat the Dark Lord?”
“Yes. Plans are in motion.”
Which meant that the Order was doing the planning. She would have to ask the others, then. “Centered on the Boy-Who-Lived?” Dumbledore had showed far more interest in Potter than would have been normal even for such a celebrity.
“Mh.” Moody grunted noncommittally.
“Can the Ministry trust them? All of them?”
“If you don’t act like the idiots who got us in this mess, yes.” The old Auror leaned forward. “They don’t trust you, Bones. Granger’s been the most wanted witch in Britain for months, and she hasn’t forgotten that. And Potter and Black owe her their lives. If you try to play games, it’ll end badly. For all of us. But mostly for you.”
Granger had killed dozens of Aurors, Amelia thought. Not all of them, not even the majority of them had been Death Eaters. And the attack on Malfoy Manor… that muggleborn witch was a mass murderer! She controlled herself, though. “Cornelius has made an alliance with the Muggleborn Resistance. We’re all fighting the Dark Lord.”
“The Resistance will want a pardon, Bones. A full pardon. No ifs or buts or clauses.”
“Carte blanche?” Legitimise their murders? Amelia pressed her lips together. A country that sacrificed law and order to survive doomed itself. If she let the Resistance - or the Order - run rampant, kill at will…
“Call it what you want. We’re at war, and they’ll want assurances that you’ll not stab them in the back once it’s over.”
“You know how easily that would be abused. If they have nothing to fear from the law, what will keep them from settling accounts with their wands?” That was how the Death Eaters worked, Amelia thought.
“They don’t have much to fear from the law anyway. You haven’t been able to catch them in months.” Moody scoffed.
“They’ve had help from Dumbledore. And his agents.” She stared at Moody.
“I was retired.” He shrugged, then twisted his scarred face into a grin. “But I think you’d be making a mistake if you blame their successes on Dumbledore’s meddling. They’re good. You don’t want to start a war with them. Not now, and not later. There won’t be much left of the country if you do.”
“They will know that as well.” Two could play that game, Amelia thought. She wouldn’t let the Ministry be pushed around either.
“But do you think they’ll care much?” Moody leaned forward, baring his teeth. For a moment, his enchanted eye stopped rolling around and fixated on her. “It takes a lot for people to take up wands. A lot of guts, a lot of stupidity most often. Or a lot of desperation. You don’t want to push desperate people, Bones. You should remember how desperate people react - you were an Auror once.” He stood up. “I’ll return to whipping the latest recruits.”
That dig hurt. But the rest of his words… Amelia nodded jerkily as he left her office. Moody was a member of Dumbledore’s Order. Of course he’d say that. Although he was correct about Granger’s ties to Potter and Black. And to the Weasleys. As much as she hated to admit it, if push came to shove, and if the Order sided with the Resistance, things would turn out even uglier than the Battle of the Ministry.
But that didn’t have to happen. Black was the key. He was another of Dumbledore’s men, but he was from an Old Family. The Blacks were proud - too proud, at times. He knew the forms, and the customs. And he held a seat in the Wizengamot. He had a lot to lose, should Britain descend into anarchy, like several wizard enclaves in the New World had in the past. And Black had shown that he knew his way around the Wizengamot, since his exoneration. He was also Potter’s godfather, and as far as Amelia knew, they were very close. If she could convince Black, Potter would likely follow. The Weasleys were numerous, but poor - they were not part of the Old Families.
If she could get Black to see reason, this whole problem could be solved.
London, No. 12 Grimmauld Place, January 28th, 1997
Harry Potter raised his eyebrows in surprise when he saw Hermione in the entrance hall of Grimmauld Place. She was wearing her uniform - her fatigues.
She must have noticed his reaction, since she frowned at him. “What’s wrong?”
“I’d have expected you to wear something else,” he said. She looked like a guerilla fighter. Which she was, he guessed.
“Why? I’m not about to wear robes. I represent the Resistance. And the purebloods wouldn’t be able to tell one style of muggle clothes from the other.” With a grin, she added: “But every one of them knows this uniform. It sends a message.”
Harry nodded. It would certainly be a not too subtle reminder that Hermione and her friends were no pushovers. Quite the contrary.
She looked around.
“Ron’s gone ahead already,” Harry said, answering her question before she could ask. “Scouting for an ambush, I think.” He shrugged. “Even though his dad, Percy, Tonks and Moody are in the Ministry as well.” Ron could have waited for Hermione here.
“Another pair of eyes and a wand can’t hurt,” Hermione said.
“Indeed!” Sirius said loudly, appearing on top of the stairs. He was wearing his best robes, though. “Can’t be too careful when dealing with politicians. They’re worse than goblins - they’ll stab you in the back as soon as you turn around.”
“Aren’t you a politician as well?” Harry asked.
“I’m just posing as one. Temporarily, until this mess is over.” Harry’s godfather walked down the stairs.
“That could be a long while,” Harry said. Dumbledore’s message hadn’t sounded too promising.
“Yes.” Sirius coughed. “So… everyone’s on the same page with regards to our goals?”
“A full pardon for the Resistance covering the whole war, all the muggleborn laws gone, all Death Eaters and their supporters tried and punished,” Hermione started. “Those are just the short-term goals, of course. Wizarding Britain needs far more than merely a change in government and a return to the status quo. The idea that blood defines a wizard’s worth needs to disappear - and that will necessitate far-reaching reforms. Too many laws have been passed with that thought in mind, too much has been built upon that sick ideology. The current Wizengamot is composed of hereditary seats, held by the Old Families, and appointed seats - granted by the Minister for the duration of his term. As long as that remains the case, as long as the Wizengamot is controlled by rich, old pureblood families, we’ll always risk a resurgence of the blood bigots.” With a grin, she added: “I’m not telling the Minister that, of course.”
Sirius chuckled. “If you tell Bones that she’ll draw her wand on you. She’d fear a revolution.”
“If we can’t reform Wizarding Britain there will be a revolution,” Hermione said. “Things cannot continue as they are. Not after this war. There’s too much wrong with the country.”
“Might need another war to change it,” Sirius said, almost casually.
“That’s what Dumbledore is afraid of,” Harry said. “Can Wizarding Britain survive another war?” Or the current one, if it went on for much longer, he added to himself.
“Should it survive, if it can’t be reformed into a country that’s not a corrupt cesspit of bigots and murderers?” Sirius scoffed. “I’d rather see the Ministry burn, than let it go on like this.”
When Harry saw the expression on his godfather’s face, he shivered. Sirius certainly hadn’t forgotten who sent him to Azkaban. He glanced at Hermione, but his friend simply nodded.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 28th, 1997
His brother’s office was a nice one, Ron Weasley thought, looking around. Much bigger than Dad’s old office. Furnished better, too. Percy could be proud. Ron hadn’t seen him that often since his brother had graduated from Hogwarts. It wasn’t as if they had grown apart, well, there was the mess during the Triwizard Tournament, but Ron couldn’t really cast hexes there, not with himself having been a right stupid git for most of that year too. They hadn’t grown apart, but their paths hadn’t crossed often. Just like with Charlie and Bill.
“So… you’re now the Deputy-Head of the Department of Magical Transportation,” Ron read from the small plaque on the door to Percy’s office.
His brother nodded. A year ago, he’d probably have straightened up and acted all proud, like when he had received his Head Boy badge, Ron thought. Not any more, though. “Yes”, Percy said. “I was the most qualified left, after the battle. And the most trusted.”
Ron nodded. “You have access to the Floo Network then.” Which was very useful.
“Yes, I do. Although all manipulations are logged. Or should be.” With a wry grin, he added: “Our workers are not always as diligent as they should be.”
“As long as the enemy can’t sabotage it.”
“I’ve taken measures to prevent that.” Percy sat down behind his desk. “How are things with Hermione?”
Ron tensed slightly. “Fine. As fine as they can be, in the middle of a war.” Merlin’s balls, he sounded like Harry! “Have you heard anything about the meeting later?”
“The meeting with the Minister?” Percy shuffled some parchment around. “There’s a lot of speculation, but no bigger security effort than normal.”
That meant Percy hadn’t heard anything about an ambush.
“Some of the older employees are concerned, of course,” Percy went on. “Father mentioned that during lunch yesterday. There aren’t that many left of the more extreme ones, of course.“
Ron sighed. “The muggleborns save their lives, and these purebloods still don’t want them around. Damn wankers!”
Percy’s mouth formed a thin line and for a moment, Ron’s brother looked like that time he had deducted points from Harry and Ron in their second year. “I see that even your relationship with Hermione hasn’t influenced you to correct your language. You might truly be hopeless.”
Ron chuckled. “I don’t curse when I’m with her, so I have to curse more when we’re apart, to even it out.”
Percy snorted. “Returning to the matter at hand, I do not think that those who have concerns about Hermione’s goals would have suffered much under the Dark Lord. They are the type to simply do as they are told, and close their eyes when they see something disturbing.”
“Ah. No trouble then?” Ron knew that type.
“Not as far as I can see. Although I’m not a trained Auror, so I’m not that well-versed in spotting spies.”
“Well, as long as the Minister is not trying anything sinister…” Ron shrugged.
“I doubt that. Though it would be a good opportunity for the Dark Lord to sabotage the alliance, if his spies could attack her and frame the Ministry.”
Ron cursed again. “Maybe I should be in the Atrium when they arrive.”
“Bones will have the Aurors and Hit-Wizards there vetted. She’s not dumb,” Percy said.
“She’s not perfect either,” Ron shot back, already on his way out. “Thanks!” he called over his shoulder.
He knew he couldn’t attend the meeting, but damned if he wouldn’t make every effort to protect his friends. He wasn’t useless.
When Hermione Granger entered the Ministry’s Atrium through the Floo Network, she did her best to appear confident and unconcerned. It wouldn’t do to show any weakness before such an important meeting. For all her faults, Bones wasn’t stupid.
Half a dozen Aurors and Hit-Wizards were present in the Atrium, and Hermione tensed up slightly when she saw two of them stare at her a bit too intently. She relaxed a bit when she spotted Ron in the background, and almost smiled at him. Arthur Weasley was present as well, nearby.
“You’re drawing more attention than I do,” Harry whispered next to her.
She glanced at him and saw that he was grinning. She shook her head. There were probably too many wizards and witches in the Ministry who had a guilty conscience, or they’d focus on the Boy-Who-Lived as their best hope against Voldemort.
To her surprise, no one tried to stop them for a quick chat before they reached the lift. Five minutes later, they were in front of Bones’s office, and the Minister’s nervous secretary waved them through.
Bones wasn’t alone, of course. She was there with Dawlish and Thicknesse, Head Auror and Head of the DMLE, respectively. It made the meeting look more like a parlay than a gathering of allies - there even was a table with three seats on each side.
“Thank you for coming, Sirius, Mister Potter, Miss Granger. Please have a seat,” Bones said, gesturing at the table. Conjured, Hermione thought, with possibly an expansion charm to fit it in without the office appearing cramped.
Sirius took the seat in the middle, with Harry at his right side, and Hermione on his left side. If Bones thought that their seating arrangements would tell her anything about their group she would be mistaken.
“Thank you, Amelia.” Sirius smiled at the witch, all grace and politeness.
Bones presented her two underlings, and there was some polite exchanging of greetings and even more polite refusing of refreshments. Hermione didn’t think the Ministry would try to poison her, but better safe than sorry.
“Well, let us get to the point of this meeting,” Bones started. “Since the last meeting eleven days ago, the situation has changed a great deal. Where we could be confident of our impending victory, we must now just hope that Dumbledore’s last plan - whatever that is - will work before the Dark Lord takes the Ministry. I assume,” she added with a glance towards Harry, “that it depends on the Boy-Who-Lived.”
That hadn’t taken a lot to deduce, Hermione thought. Harry’s presence alone confirmed it. It wasn’t as if it was a secret either - Voldemort knew that Harry could sense him. The Dark Lord couldn’t be allowed to know the real plan, though.
Sirius smiled politely. “Harry has been instrumental in the war so far.”
Dawlish was about to say something, but a glance from Thicknesse shut him up. Interesting, Hermione thought. She hadn’t heard good things about the new Head Auror - he certainly hadn’t managed to make trouble for the Resistance in the past, so she wondered why he had been promoted. Probably because he was the one with the most time in the department, and a pureblood, she thought with no small amount of cynicism.
“And you’re not going to tell us what the plan is,” Bones said with a pronounced frown.
Sirius shrugged. “No offense, but the Ministry’s still riddled with spies. And with Albus dead, a number of people will consider turning traitor to save themselves.”
“We can keep a secret. We have done so in the war,” Dawlish said.
Harry snorted. He, like Hermione, had to be thinking about the spying operation they had set up in Diagon Alley. Neither said anything about it, though.
“Better safe than sorry,” Sirius said.
“We’re doing our best,” Harry threw in. “I’ve faced the Dark Lord a few times already.”
“And the last time, Dumbledore had to save you,” Dawlish spat out. “He’s not around any more.”
“That has been taken into account,” Hermione cut in. They had made plans. Ones not as concrete as she’d have liked, but they were preparing to face Voldemort.
“In any case, you can’t deal with the Dark Lord, and you know it, so just let us handle him,” Sirius said with a not-quite-smirk. “There are plenty of his followers still around for you to face. Recruiting will be easier for him with Albus dead.”
Thicknesse winced at that. “Our own recruitment efforts have suffered in the last few days.”
“The cowards are reconsidering their decisions,” Sirius said. “The Order and our French friends are ready, though, and won’t falter.”
“We’ve recovered as well, and we’re ready for battle,” Hermione said. It was technically true. “But we have concerns which need to be addressed first, before we can deploy. Both the Minister and the Chief Warlock, who have been the driving forces behind the recent alliance between the Ministry and the Muggleborn Resistance, have been killed. While the muggleborn laws have been repealed already, there are certain fears that you might not uphold their other promises.”
Bones didn’t show much of a reaction. “I’m aware that a pardon for past crimes has been promised.”
“A pardon covering any action during the war,” Hermione corrected her. “From the day the Dark Lord returned to the day the war ends.”
Bones’s face seemed to freeze up. “Impossible. That would give you carte blanche. You could commit any crime without repercussion.”
“No. We would still police ourselves,” Hermione said. “Just like muggle military forces do.” Which had far more than a dozen members, of course.
Bones seemed to be aware of that, judging by how she scoffed. “Miss Granger, the Ministry is the lawful government of Wizarding Britain. We’re not a secret organisation created by private citizens. We represent our country.”
“After our experiences with your law enforcement practices, we will not grant you any jurisdiction over us. Not during the war, at least,” Hermione shot back. “As a courtesy, we can inform you should a case concern you. But unless we have a full pardon as promised, there will not be any alliance.”
“I have to agree with Hermione. The Order and our French friends needs the same reassurances as the Resistance.” Sirius smiled widely and leaned forward. “My personal experiences after the last war have taught me not to trust the Ministry when it comes to justice.”
Bones, who had a reputation as a stone-cold witch, actually hissed, while Dawlish growled. Thicknesse, though, simply nodded.
“Nor do we trust the Wizengamot when it comes to trying Death Eaters. The track record of our esteemed parliament is abysmal,” Harry’s godfather added.
“Your want to be untouchable and demand to judge others? That would undermine our entire judicial system!” Bones was leaning forward as well. “No one is above the law!”
“We don’t trust the law,” Hermione said. “Not any more.”
“If the law doesn’t apply to you, then you might as well take over the country,” Bones said.
That wouldn’t be a bad idea, Hermione thought. She held her tongue, though.
“I can’t see myself and my friends fighting Voldemort effectively if we are worried that we’ll be punished for what we had to do afterwards,” Harry said.
“No Auror has a problem with fighting the Death Eaters without breaking the law,” Dawlish said.
“Your muggleborn Aurors might have. Oh, wait - you fired all of them a year ago.” Harry snorted.
“It’s quite simple, Amelia,” Sirius shook his head. “You need us more than we need you. If you want this alliance to work, you need to trust us to police ourselves. The Ministry and the Wizengamot have done too much harm to us to let us trust them.”
“Will you grant the Aurors the same protection?” Thicknesse asked.
“For actions taken against Death Eaters, yes. Not for actions taken against muggleborns,” Hermione said. The Resistance would not let those murderers walk.
“They have acted in accordance with duly passed laws,” Bones said. “They cannot be punished for doing their lawful duty.”
“Leaving aside the validity of such laws, Aurors and Hit-Wizards who have abused even those laws can and will be punished.” Hermione stared at Bones. “How many muggleborns were killed while resisting arrest? Compared to how many purebloods?”
Bones frowned; the Minister obviously knew what her employees had done.
“We want justice. Real justice, not some corrupt play by the Wizengamot where murderers are let go because they are related to half the members!” Hermione said. Her voice had grown louder, and she forced herself to stop.
“Many Death Eaters were sentenced after the last war, despite their blood ties,” Thicknesse said calmly.
“The fanatics who loudly proclaimed their allegiance were judged,” Sirius said. “But their helpers? And those ‘imperiused victims’?” He scoffed. “We’ve seen how that works when the Greengrass girl tried to kill students at Hogwarts.”
Bones hadn’t an answer to that, Hermione thought. Frowning, the older witch pressed out: “Who decides when the war is over?”
Hermione suppressed a smile. They were arguing over the details now. That meant they had already succeeded.
Outside Stamford, Lincolnshire, Britain, January 28th, 1997
The Dark Lord Voldemort frowned, going over the numbers again. While recruitment was starting to pick up, he was still far from having replaced his losses. He wanted to storm the Ministry, but until he had sufficient numbers to take it over and keep it going, that would not do him much good in the long run.
And yet he couldn’t let this opportunity to cow Wizarding Britain pass. After the death of his greatest foe, the sheep would be frozen with terror. Another demonstration of his power should be enough to teach them not to resist, and lead to the isolation of his remaining enemies.
He leaned back. Even so, he needed more people. More competent people. Rodolphus and Rabastan had returned from abroad, and they would show no mercy to the murderers of Bellatrix. But Travers, Macnair, Rosier and Mulciber had died in the Ministry, and Flint in Hogsmeade. Rookwood was busy with research, and Dolohov was on the continent, recruiting. As were Pettigrew and Yaxley.
He needed at least a dozen to make a good showing. That would take a few days. Time enough for his spies to scout Diagon Alley.
There's a vast gulf between what characters do in canon, and how they are portrayed. Trying to judge characters by how they act in plot-railroaded canon leads to "Evil!Dumbledore". Hence I try to avoid it.
And I said that I do not consider the attempt to protect war profiteerers admirable. Nor do I consider working for a fascist government admirable. We'll have to agree to disagree here.
If a KKK member gets executed for lynching a Black family, and his family members then decide to oppose the civil right movement, then they are barely better than their murderous relative. You can be a Death Eater and have a valid reason to hate Hermione. But there's no valid reason to oppose attempts to reform Wizarding Britain into something less facist and bigoted.
Well... what I have shown of the Old Families was a cobbled-together "Pagan faith" based on lies, and a bigoted attitude. That's not really different from the Nazis. I don't know why you assume that there's this vast, hidden and rich, untainted culture that a few bigots have kept alive. It's really more of a Country Club who really hate that they had to remove the "No Dogs and Blacks" sign fifty years ago, and have their own secret handshakes and insider jokes.
Again - that's happening. Just without the culture that has the underlying creed of "I'm better than you". That shit has to go.
Well, let me put it this way: If a man is against racism, then he shouldn't have any trouble abandoning the use of racial insults, racist customs, and racist laws. And once that happened, he might realise that there's not much left that's actually different from his pureblood neighbours who are not Old Family.
Because as I said before: The underlying base of the Old Families is the belief that blood matters. If you remove everything based on that, there's not much left that the Weasleys don't have - love of Quidditch, love of magic, basic customs, wizarding games and artists and sports, and so on.
Yes. I do not think the superficial aspects of that culture are in any way meaningful enough to consider them distinct.
If the loved one was a murderer, then that's different. It's understandable if they react like that - but it's not right, not just, nor excusable. If someone take sup arms for Nazis to avenge his brothers, he's still is a Nazi supporter.
Or you can simply get rid of that special culture. Trying to mend fences with everyone after the first blood war led to the second blood war. Time to change tactics.
I do not know any christian who doesn't disregard at least part of the bible. The more delusionals don't realise it, and call it "interprete" and "judge it by the times it was written", but I don't know any who actually takes the Old Testament and its genocide diatribes seriously. No one thinks God actually massacred entire cities just for the fault of one man. And I don't think there are that many European Christians who actually think you're going to hell if you're a good man, but not a christian.
But as I said, in Europe, christians seem to mainly pick a few basic decent philosophies, pick the parts of the bible that do not contradict it, and delude themselves into thinking they are christians. Not that the majority actually cares about Faith anyway.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and we actually didn't really watch much television at home, maybe an hour a day, so I don't really think you need to ease kids into it.
It depends on how such things are handled. In the books, we haven't seen anything like that. Is it logical to assume that there'd be such customs? Yes. But how exactly they are handled can't be said with certainty. Just look at how differently the US and Europe handle sex, even though the pill has been around for decades and we all have the same technology.
So Voldemort is playing on time. I'm kinda wondering where he's getting his minions from. Being a Death Eater is awefully risky and little fun nowadays and mercenaries don't like suicide missions.
As always, Tell me to stop or drop something and I will.
One complaint about the new chapter. Asking for a blanket pardon for future actions is both needlessly antagonizing and stupid, unless the point is to antagonize Amelia. It is basically saying that they are going to do things that deserve imprisonment or execution.
If Hermione is considering doing things that deserve action it would be best not to warn anybody. If she isn't, a blanket pardon for actions until now, a pardon for future actions against non Voldemort supporters who attack her or her force, clear rules of engagement that does not hinder her force and a basic list of crimes and the punishments for them that she will apply to anybody under her command (either implying or stating that the ministry will get a transcript) should be sufficient. (Start by asking for the blanket pardon and then have Amelia "succeed" in arguing her down.)
If a character is shown as being different than in canon, then I go with what is shown in story. If not or if there is no significant character building in story, then I go with what was originally given. Same for events. That way when you mention Snape, I automatically get "biased against Gryffindors", "hates Voldemort", "hates Sirius", "is a spy", etc. I do not automatically assume that he's different unless I'm shown it. Which is both good and bad, but basically is the way that I read fan fiction.
Agreed to disagree, since we're looking at it in two very different ways.
You don't have to be a Death Eater to hate Hermione, the resistance, Dumbledore, Sirius, Ron or Harry. All he, she or the organization need to have done was give you a valid reason to hate them. And if that happens, said person opposes whoever not because of what they do, but who does it.
Or, to use your example, said family member is not opposing the civil rights movement, they're opposing a supporter or group of supporters who has given the family member a personal reason to hate him, her or them. If this fictional supporter or group of supporters of the civil rights movement were to quit, start a taxidermy business selling stuffed black babies, the family member would still oppose them.
It is not ideological, but personal.
I assumed there was an Old Family Pureblood culture because in story we've been shown that there is something, versus the nothing that we've been shown for the rest of the Purebloods. Since I do not believe that a society can exists for centuries without developing some form of culture that is theirs and that contains more than back-patting and put downs I believe you can understand my reasoning.
As to religion, I have my suspicions about the origin of my own nominal religion, but that doesn't change the fact that once a religion is established enough it is a religion, not a scam, and the only bigoted part is not allowing halfbloods to join in. Now, considering how Christianity was a couple of decades ago, never mind in the 18th Century, I can understand that. I think it should have been changed, and I hope it will change, but I understand it.
I think we're talking past one another. To me a culture is styles of dress, styles of cooking, holidays, religion, ways to say hello and ways to say goodbye, ways to insult somebody and ways to praise somebody, appropriate behavior to your elders, towards children and towards the other sex, stories that are told to children, poetry styles, specific songs and types of singing, dances, both formal and fun, they way you should react to an insult towards yourself and the way you should react to an insult towards your family, games, sport and the attitude towards sport, art, the marriage ceremony, all the little superstitions and all the little lessons you learn as a child, all the lessons you learn as a teen, gardens, how they're seen and how they're laid out, the way a night out on the town is done and a multitude of other things as well that grew over centuries, including how one has been taught to see specific other groups. Of that the only things I would see as objectionable is derogatory terms used to refer to specific peoples, mudblood and the like, and seeing muggleborn as lesser. The rest I have no problem with.
What does culture mean to you?
That is where we differ. I literally cannot conceive a culture that consist almost totally of racism. I literally cannot comprehend it. The deliberately insulting terms used to refer to somebody from a different race? That I can see. Family first being taken too far? I can see that too. Pride in the past accomplishments of your family with not enough though for your own? Yes, I can see that. Your religion being racist? Maybe, but I've already commented on it. Your dances, greetings, dishes, song styles, way of dressing, way of courting, flower arranging styles and a host of other things all being racist? Nope, I can't see it.
And that is why I do not see somebody just abandoning his culture. Parts that he doesn't actually use? He doesn't use it anyway. Parts that have been perverted by Voldemort and the Death Eaters? He's got nothing to do with the perversion, he practices the real parts.
Or, to put it another way. The culture of the old pureblood families and the culture of the rest of the purebloods have not been shown enough for me to see this as a possibility.
My apologies, but that wasn't the impression I got previously. That the difference between the two cultures is only racism.
That part of the discussion was about how Dumbledore would be seen as their enemy and why they would work against him after the war. (If he had happened to survive.) Also, the enemy of my enemy isn't my friend, he's my enemy's enemy. In other words, hating Dumbledore and considering him an enemy would't have made somebody a Death Eater, it would have made that person somebody who hated Dumbledore, considered him an enemy and worked against him.
I was under the impression that Voldemort, a weak Minister and a mistake was whet led to the second blood war, that the general attitude and relationship had actually improved.
I can't comment on European Christians as I don't know any. As to people who take the Bible seriously enough to believe in at least the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, I know two. One who definitely gave the impression during a discussion where Lot's wife's transformation came up (a woman in her late thirties) and the other an 86 year old family member who definitely believes it. I know a number who believe that homosexuals are damned if they act on their needs and I know several with strong views about magic (which amusingly enough came up when the Harry Potter books came out). I also know a number who believe that yes, you will go to hell (or perhaps purgatory, they differ) unless you are a Christian.
I grew up in the 80's, took long walks, played with the dog, played with the cat, fell out of a tree when building a tree house, read lots, played sword fighting with a stick and a rope could really keep me busy. Easing me out of watching television wouldn't have been a problem. My sister is 12 years younger than me and was overweight and unfit because she basically did nothing but watch television ans snack. She would most definitely have needed easing out of watching television into other pursuits.
I believe there has to be something if it is considered in a serious story. The possibilities of Veritaserum in the business world is staggering. Something like that would change a great deal about how business is done. And then we get magical contracts, something the people in the sales department (and we poor fools in client services) would love. As to love potions, the possibilities are nasty enough and tempting enough that I cannot think that there wouldn't have been enough ugly incidents to create a custom or something.
Now, how the customs work for the various possibilities magic allows would differ between countries, regions and different groups, since such things should have developed over centuries, but I cannot see that people would not have tried to incorporate ways to take advantage of the good possibilities and ways to guard against the bad. At least that is what I believe would be the case if it was real.
The Resistance doesn't trust the Ministry. It may not be smart, but they'll not risk fighting for the Ministry, and then be accused of crimes afterwards. And she certainly will not let the Ministry dictate terms of punishments. Limiting the pardon for actions taken against Death Eaters runs into the problem that then someone has to decide if X and Y really were Death Eaters.
Yes, it's anatgonising, yes it's not the smoothest course of action, but the Resistance doesn't trust the Ministry's justice. They don't want to let them have any power over them again, not in the Ministry's current form.
The problem is that characters are shown one way, and act another, so the plot works. Dumbledore is shown as a wise, experienced and good man, with faults, but benevolent. And his (in)actions make no sense until one realises that the plot demanded it.
If his personal reasons are that he wants to avenge a murderer, then that's what matters, and makes him evil as well.
But the differences between general pureblood culture and Old Families' culture is basically that - the Old Families consider themselves better, and made efforts to accentuate that. The basic pureblood culture was still quite unified - given their low numbers - in most aspects.
That's because there's not really that much of a difference. It's really more a "we're better, because we get to do this, this and this, and you don't because your blood is dirty!". They both go to the same Quidditch matches. They cook the same stuff (within reason), they go to the same school, have the same holidays, and they handle love potions and stuff the same way. Hogwarts is a big unifier - the chidlren spend their formative years in an egalitarian school.
As an example, imagine a US town. 25-50K people. Everyone goes to the same few schools, and then to the same college. They have are fans of the same sports team, were in the same sports teams, like the same cars and listen to the same music.
It's just that a few rich families are also members of the KKK. They socialise with each other and have their own country club. They marry each other. They have their own little inside jokes and traditions.
That what makes them different from the rest is ingrained in their racism because in all other ways, they follow the trend.
And I do not believe that such a "culture" is worth protecting or spreading.
See above. I took care to show a different culture in Patron, with all their customs and quirks. I didn't do that here because there really is not that much of a difference between the Weasleys and the Malfoys - but for the gold and the bigotry.
It had improved, but not as much as Dumbledore thought. Like antisemitism and racism, it was hidden, but didn't go away, and just waited for the right moment - someone in power who said it was OK to let it out now - to resurge.
I'd pity them, if not for the hatred and pain their beliefs are causing.
I don't really get the "easing out" part. If there's no TV, children will adapt. It's really not difficult. There's no TV, and they see everyone else doing other stuff, so they'll join in. Honestly, that's no problem at all.
Introducing TV to the magicals on the other hand could cause problems.
And I cannot see meaningful differences between how the general public handles those things and the Old Families. Unless it's some privilege, so say Old Families get to use those things - in which case removing the privilege is the right thing to do.
I suppose it really comes down to how much the culture in question defines itself around what we consider intolerable philosophies, and to what degree it is capable of enforcing those philosophies upon others. In this story, the answer for the 'blood purist' faction appears to be "a lot" and "a lot".
To be frank, if I'm reading this story right, the government of this take on the British Wizarding World isn't actually a democracy- more of a family-based oligarchy. At best, it's a democracy whose voting franchise is limited to heads of pureblood families, which pretty well defeats the purpose. To be frank, a such zero-accountability government is likely to produce resentment at least in a population like the late-20th-century UK; toss in a bunch of laws straight out of Nuremberg and a actively genocidal threat, I'm betting only low numbers and Dumbledore's surface imposition of equality kept things from blowing open before this.
One thing I find interesting to the story is that, while you're planning on taking it out beyond Voldemort's victory and the consequences of the factions created during the war, it spends a pile of time on the war itself. Marriage Law Revolution took up after the war, Patron is the story of during with a bit of epilogue after, but this straddles the line. It'll be interesting to see the maneuvering and troubles afterwards- seeing both the war and the peace won.
Indeed - they dominate the politics of Wizarding Britain.
In this story, Wizarding Britain is a de facto aristocracy, with the Wizengamot filled with heriditary seats and a few appointed ones, through the Ministry.
Originally I had planned a shorter story starting after the war, and handling the "highlights" in flashbacks. But it wouldn't have conveyed to the Readers why the different characters were acting as they did, so I started with the leading up to the war.
A pardon is only as good as the person or group offering it. In other words, if she trusts them to respect the pardon how can she not expect them to respect rules of engagement agreed to beforehand and if she doesn’t trust them to respect rules of engagement agreed to beforehand how can she expect them to trust the pardon? And if she doesn’t trust them to respect the pardon, why warn them beforehand that she’s preparing for a betrayal? (That’s leaving out the propaganda value a clear set of rules of engagement and some form of code of military justice would provide. Showing unaligned muggleborn groups what the resistance considers acceptable and what it considers unacceptable. Showing purebloods and halfbloods that no, we aren’t whatever you might be thinking, we have rules and we enforce them.)
As to deciding whether somebody was a Death Eater or not after the fact, that is what rules of engagement and Veritaserum are for. Rules of engagement to state that making an attack if the resistance received sufficient evidence to indicate that said person or group is a Death Eater or group of Death Eaters is ok and Veritaserum so that it can truthfully be stated that “Yes, according to the information received to the best of our knowledge at the time we judged such and such to be a Death Eater.” (Consider, memory charms are a thing so Hermione can get away with stuff and that these rules of engagement does not need to be politically correct.)
Also, how does it look to demand a blanket pardon for future events? How does it look to Amelia? I would say that it looks as if Hermione and the resistance are planning to commit acts that would demand imprisonment or execution. Which should affect how she sees Hermione, how much she trusts her, what forces she'll keep aside to protect them from the Resistance making a "mistake" that just happens to be covered by the pardon and what other agreements she'll make. Then, unless she's conveniently killed, once Voldemort is dead she'll view Hermione and the Resistance as people who commit acts that demand imprisonment or execution. Which will affect how she deals with them. And while the pardon will protect their past actions, it doesn't stop Amelia from preparing to counter any further actions, trying to put them under surveillance or work to counter their advantages.
Now, I have no problem with Hermione and Sirius not thinking about the above, because Hermione is inexperienced and Sirius... Let's not talk about Sirius. But, this should affect how Amelia acts towards them and what preparations they make. Also, demanding a blanket pardon for future events should affect how a number of people see them, act towards them and how much assistance they receive. Basically, a number of people upon learning about the insistence on a blanket pardon for future events should see them in a bad light (preparing to commit acts that deserve execution / imprisonment) and act appropriately.
I think in the books he was shown as somebody who was seen as wise, experienced and good, not shown as somebody who was wise, experienced and good. A rather important distinction. That is why I view Dumbledore's personality, character and competence by what was shown in the original story, until the new story shows him differently, if it does.
There we disagree. I see it as evil in some cases, misguided in some cases, excessive in some cases, damn appropriate (considering Dumbledore threatened those who followed orders in good faith) in some cases and all too human in all cases. Also, it has drifted a bit.
But let’s leave it for a moment. In story, do you agree that revenge is an appropriate response if the person who was being avenged was not a murderer? How about if the "murder" was done in the belief that it was to protect oneself, is revenge for the murderer appropriate then? Or how about revenge on the person who pushed a loved one into being a murderer before being killed, is that appropriate? Or do you believe that revenge is wrong? Or do you believe that only the right sort of people may take revenge, and if so, how do you define the right sort of people?
In Chapter 21 the following was given: "Albus Dumbledore, was quoted as saying that he saw “no sense in trying to teach students the manners of people who would never accept them in the first place, nor in elevating the outdated attitudes and pretensions of a very small segment of the pureblood population into a course when the vast majority of the purebloods didn’t act that differently”. Sadly, that quote has never been properly dated, so we lack the context to interpret it properly."
I hope you understand that the above plus the fact that Wizardling Britain’s old pureblood families was shown as at the least having a separate religion from at least the 18th century and the fact that it was stated by the George in story that the old family pureblood traditions aren’t theirs gave me the impression that there were real cultural differences and enough differences to make it two different cultures, not one culture that has a rather small split, religion and bigotry/racism.
But... A small population with locked into a number of institutions and areas that everybody has to attend. That reasoning and explanation makes sense to me if you state that there is basically one pureblood culture, with two religions, one group in that culture obviously bigoted and the other not. That brings up two things you might wish to consider for the story and one statement.
First thing. Inbreeding. If the wizardling world has such a small population, inbreeding would be a problem among the old family purebloods unless they made up significant portion of the population, enough that they could mostly keep marrying among themselves without risk of it. As that wasn't a problem in the original work nor mentioned in this one I'm making the assumption their clans / families make up enough of the wizardling world that inbreeding isn't a problem.
Second thing. The attack on Malfoy Manor. If the population is small and everybody attends Hogwarts, then those children/teens killed in the attack on Malfoy Manor must have attended Hogwarts. Leading to schoolmates, acquaintances, friends and family members of those still attending Hogwarts being killed in the attack. Something that should be shown, considering that Ron and Harry kept on attending Hogwarts, if you're going to update the story at a later date. Also, something that should be shown when Hermione returned to Hogwarts, if you update the story.
The statement. Not having a class on pureblood customs, the parts common to all, for Muggleborn was either less than competent, showed a lack of care or showed a dislike in all parts of the culture.
And wouldn't it have continued to improve without Voldemort and a weak minister?
To me religious beliefs like that don’t matter unless you rub it in another person’s face (in which case they’ll avoid you) or try to force another person to conform to it. And I’ve always felt better about people who are up front and firm in their beliefs more than those who pretend or go through the motions just because it’s expected, and change their tune when it’s expedient. I might not like them, I might not agree with them, I might even wish lightning on their heads, but they at least have conviction and the willingness to stand for their beliefs.
But, since I’m not incapable of magic, I might not know to what lengths the people I know would go. (Fairly certain I know how far they'd go regarding the homosexuality though, basically pity and shunning for most.)
Maybe it’s just my experience with my sister when we went on vacations that colours my opinion. That and the fact that I see less and less kids playing or biking or walking somewhere and more and more fat kids when shopping.
That's the part I don't think would be a problem. Strange how we think the opposite.
My stance was that muggleborn wasn’t shown as being taught anything, and that they could “work on pureblood culture, both local and from abroad” in a class to learn about the things where muggle culture wouldn't work, or not work as well.
Chapter 39: Reflections
‘In any other war, the death of Albus Dumbledore would have marked the end of the conflict. That had been the case in both Grindelwald’s War and the First Blood War - without their leaders, neither Grindelwald’s armies nor the Dark Lord’s followers were able to oppose Dumbledore any longer, and accordingly, the vast majority of them fled or surrendered. In both conflicts, only a handful of fanatical wizards and witches kept fighting. And, as one would expect, they were swiftly defeated.
In the Second Blood War, however, the Ministry leadership did not even contemplate surrendering or exile. Even though their situation should have appeared objectively hopeless, they fought on.
Why would they choose such a seemingly suicidal course of action? Some might have put their trust into Harry Potter, the famous Boy-Who-Lived. He had survived the Dark Lord’s Killing Curse as a mere toddler, and he had been Dumbledore’s protege. Though while he had already shown quite remarkable talents for his age, most notably in the Triwizard Tournament, he certainly was no equal of Dumbledore or the Dark Lord. The Muggleborn Resistance had suffered critical losses, as had the Order of the Phoenix, and neither could stand up to the Dark Lord in open battle or match his guile. But they did not give up either.
In my opinion, this shows that all factions of the Second Blood War had become so fanatical during the conflict that they preferred death to defeat and would keep fighting even when there was but a faint hope of victory.’
- Excerpt from ‘Wizarding Britain in the 20th Century’ by Albert Runcorn
London, No. 12 Grimmauld Place, January 28th, 1997
Harry Potter sighed with relief as soon as he, Sirius and Hermione entered Grimmauld Place. He hadn’t really thought that the Ministry would try to ambush them on the way out, or that Death Eaters would manage to infiltrate the Ministry, but the meeting had certainly become quite tense at the end…
“Did you see her face at the end? As if she had eaten a basket full of lemons!” Sirius chuckled while he cast a few quick cleaning charms on the group.
His godfather was taking this a bit too lightly, Harry thought. “That’s not a good thing,” he said. “She seemed to really hate our demands.”
Sirius scoffed. “It’s all about power and control with her. She is obsessed with it. In her eyes the idea that we wouldn’t submit to the DMLE and let her judge us is almost as bad as Voldemort taking over.” He stepped forward and opened the door to the hallway with a flick of his wand.
“The Minister’s focusing on the rule of law,” Hermione said, hesitating for a moment when Sirius bowed slightly in a ‘ladies first’ gesture. “She isn’t completely wrong, actually. Vigilante organisations and paramilitary groups are generally not a good thing for a country. And no one should be above the law.” She shook her head and ran a hand through her short hair as she stepped through the door. “But if the law was passed by a fascist government catering to mass-murdering bigots… The legal basis of Wizarding Britain is just one step removed from ‘might makes right’.”
“If Amelia didn’t know for certain that, without us, Voldemort would kill her and her family, and take over her precious Ministry, she’d never have accepted our terms.” Sirius muttered a curse under his breath Harry didn’t catch as both followed Hermione. “If only she had shown such dedication to upholding the law when I was unjustly imprisoned without a trial!”
Harry was a bit concerned how quickly Sirius had switched from chuckling to scowling. But then, all of them were suffering from a great deal of stress. Himself as well, he thought.
“Was that actually illegal?” Hermione asked. When Harry and Sirius stared at her, she winced. “I meant, didn’t they pass a law that made it possible to hold people without trial?”
“Not for so long after the war,” Sirius said. “But no one really cared. I was just another Death Eater in Azkaban.” He clenched his jaw and stared ahead - no, at the wall, Harry realised.
Sirius’s face broke out in a wide smile. “Vivienne!” He stepped forward and embraced the Veela, almost sweeping her off her feet.
“’Ow did the meeting go?” the French witch asked when Sirius released her.
“Bones had to give in. But she really didn’t want to.” Sirius grinned. “The Ministry, depending on muggleborns and vigilantes! She’s probably drinking a Calming Draught right now.”
“There’ll be trouble after the war,” Hermione said.
“We already knew that.” Harry’s godfather made a dismissive gesture with his hand. The one that was not holding onto Vivienne’s waist. “She’ll oppose our plans every step of the way. But if we can deal with Voldemort, then we can deal with her easily.”
Harry exchanged a glance with Hermione. He wasn’t quite that optimistic. And, as far as he could tell, neither was she.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 28th, 1997
Ron Weasley saw his friends leave the Ministry, and let out a breath he hadn’t realised he was holding. They had made it out safely without incident.
“You can relax now.”
His dad’s comment made him flinch. “Was it that obvious?” he asked in a low voice. He had cast a privacy charm, but some habits were hard to break - Moody had drilled into Harry and him that all it took was one Supersensory Charm, and an enemy could listen from afar.
“No. But I know you.” His dad smiled and put a hand on Ron’s shoulder. “And it’s good to see that you haven’t changed that much.”
Ron was confused. “What do you mean?”
His dad sighed. “You’ve changed. All of you have changed. You’re not just growing up, you’re fighting in a war.”
Ron stiffened. “Is this about the Death Eaters I killed?” He hadn’t had a choice. They had been trying to kill him, and Harry, and would have killed anyone else Voldemort wanted dead. Like Hermione, or Ron’s family.
“In part only.” Ron’s dad closed his eyes for a second. “I know that people change in a war. And not just because they kill.”
Ron nodded. His family had fought in the last war. Gryffindors to the core. Mum’s brothers had been killed in the last year of the war, as members of the Order.
“If you know you could die in the next battle, it makes you look at things differently. You gain a new perspective. You tend to live more passionately, a friend once put it. Things you considered very important suddenly seem frivolous.” His dad pulled his hand away from Ron’s shoulder. “It’s partially why you’re here, today.”
“Huh?” Ron was confused again. What would have been more important than his friends’ safety?
“Hogwarts has strict rules. You’re not even allowed to visit Hogsmeade until your third year. Outside family emergencies, you don’t leave the school outside Hogsmeade weekends and vacations.”
Ron blinked. That was true, but he had been so used to leaving with Dumbledore’s blessing that… “Ah.”
“Even if the war was over, do you think you’d easily adjust to being confined to Hogwarts again?” His dad chuckled when Ron winced. “You’re not the only one. Your friends too. And Ginny, of course.”
“She’s been sneaking out?” Ron asked. That was dangerous, she… he clenched his teeth together.
“I hope not. But I bet she will, if she thinks it’s important.” He sighed. “Molly hates it. And she hates even more that we cannot protect you. I do as well, of course, but I can handle it better. Molly… her two brothers were killed in the last war. To know you and your brothers are fighting is...” He trailed off.
Ron felt guilty for putting his mum through this, but some things were more important. He was needed. He opened his mouth, but his dad held his hand up.
“I know, and your mother knows it as well. That doesn’t mean we don’t hate it. But we understand.” He sighed again. “I just wish we had done a better job in the last war, so this wouldn’t have happened.”
“Not even Dumbledore managed it, dad,” Ron said.
“Yes. So, how are we supposed to achieve that this time?”
Ron didn’t know, but he trusted his friends. “We’ll manage.” He looked at the lift where his friends had left.
His dad chuckled. “Go. I know they’re waiting for you.”
Ron nodded, and left.
London, No. 12 Grimmauld Place, January 28th, 1997
“Ron!” Hermione Granger jumped up from her seat when her boyfriend entered the library in Grimmauld Place. She quickly crossed the space to where he was closing the door and embraced him. She heard Harry chuckling behind her, probably because she was doing exactly what Sirius had done before, but didn’t care.
“I wasn’t the one in danger,” Ron said, wrapping his arms around her.
She didn’t answer that. She simply enjoyed his embrace for a moment. Or a few moments.
Then they pulled apart again.
“So… how did the meeting go?”
“Bones accepted our demands, but she wasn’t happy. Not at all,” Harry said, standing up to greet Ron himself.
“As expected, then.”
“More or less. She’ll be trouble once Voldemort is dead,” Hermione said. She tried to sound as matter-of-fact about that event as possible. Harry still winced, as she saw with a glance. “How are things?” she said, turning to her friend.
“He’s got the Legilimency down,” Ron said before Harry could answer. “His new wand works great. Even got through my Shield Charm.”
Harry winced again. “I can’t really test it on anyone close to Voldemort’s skill, though. Dumbledore said that Tom’s mastered Occlumency and Legilimency, but that my link to him would negate that. Somewhat at least.”
So, they were counting on the Elder Wand to make up the difference. Hermione nodded. As with the meeting, it was what she had expected. It was better than expected, actually.
“I have an idea for the actual fighting too, but… I couldn’t test it. Dumbledore said it was too dangerous.” Harry sat down again and stared at the next shelf.
That wasn’t a good sign, Hermione thought. She glanced at Ron, but her boyfriend was staring at Harry. So, their friend hadn’t told him either. And knowing how many risks Harry took in that stupid game, and if the Headmaster had said it was too dangerous… she took a deep breath. She didn’t like prying, or pushing - at least she had tried not to do either as much as she used to - but this was too important. “What are you planning, Harry?” she asked.
“Well… it’s basically a fight between our two minds. Or wills.” Harry slowly turned his head to look at them. “So… I remembered a similar situation.” He grinned, though weakly, and told them.
Hermione blinked. It was dangerous. And unprecedented. She wasn’t certain if it would even work. But if it did… She sighed and nodded. “It would be a good last resort.” Better to risk it, than dying.
Harry’s grin turned a bit more wry. He had to know that already.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 28th, 1997
Amelia Bones was livid. The nerve of those… those… impudent upstarts! She clenched her teeth together and did her best to keep her anger from turning into rage - or showing on her face. To grant such criminals a full pardon was bad enough, but carte blanche for the rest of the war? She felt as if she had betrayed everything the Ministry stood for. And Black! Acting as if he was a muggleborn upstart himself, instead of the head of one of the oldest families in Britain!
Dawlish was not as restrained. “Those cursed....” he caught himself before he used Death Eater vocabulary. “How dare they treat the Ministry like this! Dictating terms as if they were anything but a bunch of...”
“We had no choice. We need their help, and they know that,” Thicknesse said, in his usual measured manner. “As much as it pains me to admit it, we cannot hope to resist the Dark Lord by ourselves.” He frowned. “Though the consequences of this agreement could be dire.”
Dawlish shook his head. “We don’t even know what that apparent plan of Dumbledore’s is. Only that it involves the Boy-Who-Lived.” He sneered. “The same boy who had to be saved from the Dark Lord by Dumbledore in Hogsmeade.”
Thicknesse spread his hands. “It’s not as if we have alternatives at our disposal. They did seem confident, though. Confident enough to pressure us like they did. They must know that if they fail, such arrogance will come back to bite them.”
Amelia nodded. It was vexing enough to have to accede to such demands, but if Black and the muggleborns failed to deliver…
“The muggleborns might simply use a bomb on the Dark Lord,” Dawlish said. “Blow up the Ministry or Diagon Alley with him.”
Amelia shook her head. “That is unlikely.” She saw both wizards seemed to be sceptical, though Thicknesse was hiding it better, and elaborated. “They used one bomb in Knockturn Alley, but it was a rather weak one. They did not use more powerful bombs on Diagon Alley or the Ministry.”
“They might simply not have wished to harm muggles,” Thicknesse said, “or they did not want to risk breaking the Statute of Secrecy.”
Amelia nodded. The Resistance had not cared about innocent bystanders when they attacked Malfoy Manor, but those had been wizards, not muggles, and the muggleborns hadn’t risked the Statute. So far. “But even if the Dark Lord might be a tempting enough target for them to change their modus operandi, he is aware of bombs. Granger is not stupid, she’ll know that he’ll be ready for such an attack.” That would, hopefully, curb such attempts.
Dawlish was still scowling.
Thicknesse sighed - whether at their situation, or at Dawlish, Amelia couldn’t tell. “While the Dark Lord’s defeat is of the utmost importance, it would be better, I think, if it came about at the hands of the Boy-Who-lived, and not through muggleborn means.”
Amelia nodded. The wizard was correct. If the muggleborns defeated the Dark Lord, they’d be impossible to handle afterwards. Were that to occur, the Ministry simply wouldn’t stand up to them. Potter, though, while not ideal by any means, should be easier to handle. Not much easier, sadly - he seemed quite attached to Granger, even though she had apparently dumped him for his best friend. Amelia almost snorted - who’d have thought that she’d consider the teenage rumours her niece was passing along in her letters when deciding the future policies of the Ministry!
Her mirth was short-lived, of course - the threat of the Dark Lord, and of the muggleborns’ arrogance, made certain of that. And Black. “Marginally better, at most. Black is Potter’s godfather, and he’ll be as willing to use the boy’s reputation as Dumbledore was.” And given Black’s apparent radical notions, that would be trouble. But there were other, more urgent concerns. “We’ll focus on shoring up our defenses. We’ll protect Diagon Alley and the Ministry. Let Dumbledore’s Order and the muggleborns take the fight to the Dark Lord.” It would serve them right to bear the brunt of the fighting, after they threatened to watch the Ministry fall without doing anything. And with some luck, a few of her problems might even get solved in the fighting.
Dawlish grinned - he knew what she was thinking.
Thicknesse nodded, but spoke up: “Our nominal allies might not take it well if we’re not doing anything in the war.”
The Head Auror scoffed. “They got what they wanted, so they’ll have to fight now - or renege on the deal.”
“We’ll offer them something to placate them,” Amelia said.
What she had in mind would both show the Order and the muggleborns that the Ministry was dedicated to the war against the Dark Lord, and shore up the morale of her forces - and it would keep Black busy as well.
Granger and her friends might have won a victory today, but Amelia wouldn’t give up. She’d uphold the law against any criminal - even against the Dark Lord, or the muggleborns.
London, No. 12 Grimmauld Place, January 29th, 1997
Sirius Black rubbed the bridge of his nose while his two guests glared at each other. At least their wands had been lowered. Lowered, not stashed - ready to be raised at a moment’s notice. He mentally cursed Dumbledore for not warning him about this. Or rather, for not making it crystal clear that when the Headmaster had talked about ‘old grudges’ he had meant something akin to a blood feud between Aberforth Dumbledore and Mad-Eye.
Sirius cleared his throat, and tried not to flinch when Moody’s wand flicked up to point at him. “We’re here to discuss how to handle the war against the Dark Lord, not to settle old grudges.” If Remus were here, he’d be be chuckling at the irony of Sirius saying this, he thought. “We need to work together to win this war.”
“With him and his criminals? Fletcher’s bad enough, but his sort?” Moody scoffed, and his face contorted into a grimace. “They’ll sell us out as soon as they get the chance.”
“Says the Ministry’s enforcer,” Aberforth retorted, sneering worse than Snivellus ever had. “Did you jump to enforce the law against muggleborns as well?”
“They weren’t robbing people blind. Unlike your friends.”
“You have no idea why they did it!” Aberforth was standing, but he wasn’t raising his wand.
“And I don’t care,” Moody said. “They weren’t in a war either. And if they were skilled enough to break through wards, they were skilled enough to earn honest gold. No excuses.”
“Shut up!” Sirius yelled. “You can kill each other once the Dark Lord and his followers are dead!” In a more normal voice, he continued: “But if you don’t manage to drop this, we’ll lose.” He took a deep breath. “Albus’s death has fragmented the Order. I’m certain there are a number of members he was the only one to know.”
“I’m not part of his Order,” Aberforth said through clenched teeth.
“Not any more, at least,” Moody added.
“Well, you’re a member now,” Sirius said. “Of the Order, or of a new Order. Whatever.” That seemed to surprise both older wizards. Before they could say anything, Sirius pressed on. “But we don’t have time for old grudges. With Albus dead, the Dark Lord will not wait much longer before he’ll strike. We need to be ready. And we need every wand we can get.”
“We don’t need thieves who will run at the first sign of danger and sell us out at the first opportunity,” Moody spat.
“Enough!” Sirius yelled, drowning out Aberforth’s angry reply. “You don’t need to work with each other! You don’t even need to see each other!” He wondered how Albus had managed to stay sane while dealing with this sort of stupidity for so long. “All you need to do is to wait with killing each other until the Dark Lord’s dead!” Both men stared at him, then Mad-Eye chuckled. Aberforth was still scowling, but as long as he wasn’t leaving or cursing anyone, Sirius would take what he could get. “Now… Moody, we need all the Order members you know who can and will fight ready.”
The scarred wizard nodded, grinning. “I’ll get them ready, even if I have to curse them until they shape up. Been doing that with the Ministry’s recruits already.”
Sirius turned to Aberforth, who had been scoffing. “Aberforth, your friends need to keep their eyes and ears open. The Dark Lord will try something soon, if he’s not already doing it. We need to know what he’s planning. Even a few minutes of advance warning will save lives.” Like Harry’s.
Moody mumbled something, probably another insult, but Dumbledore’s brother nodded, if still reluctantly. “I’ll get the word out.”
Sirius smiled. “Good. It goes without saying that we also need your wand, once the Dark Lord makes his move.”
Aberforth’s scowl deepened. “I’ll work with the Resistance.” With a glance at Moody, he added: “They won’t curse me in the back.”
Sirius sighed. How had the Headmaster kept the Order from tearing itself apart? “Also, if you know any members of the Order in the Wizengamot, or close to it… I need to talk to them.”
“Ah. Bones’s throwing you a bone?” Moody laughed at his own remark.
Sirius shrugged. Since the old Auror was working in the Ministry, he’d already know about it, of course. “It’s better than nothing, and it’ll help the war.”
And he’d enjoy seeing it, too. Even if he was not looking forward to shoring up a quorum in the Wizengamot.
Dover, Kent, Britain, January 29th, 1997
“Do you understand your task, Pettigrew?”
The Dark Lord Voldemort, wearing the guise of a random Albanian wizard whose hair he had collected years ago, stared at the pudgy wizard in front of him. They were seated in a muggle pub, the last place anyone would expect him to spend any time.
“Yes, Master!” Pettigrew nodded eagerly, smiling too widely. He was rubbing his gloved left hand, though.
Voldemort knew that the other wizard was a coward, despite his sorting, but he was skilled. No talentless wizard would have managed to become an animagus while still a teenager - or to conduct the ritual that gave Voldemort a new body. He would do. The Dark Lord pulled out a small bag from his pocket and handed it over.
Pettigrew fingered it, and Voldemort saw the man’s eyes widen. “Three, Master?”
“Yes. Just in case.” He had two hundred more bones of his father’s skeleton, safely hidden in many places. He could easily spare three. A bag with three vials followed. Madam Longbottom hadn’t any use for the blood, not any more, and she had definitely been an enemy of his. “Find a safe place, and if a day passes without my mark burning, conduct the ritual.” With a smirk, he added. “Don’t use a whole limb this time. A toe or two will do.”
Pettigrew gaped at him for a moment before closing his mouth and glancing at his left hand. He was a talented wizard, but his mastery of the Dark Arts was lacking.
“Don’t tell anyone about this. And don’t let that werewolf find you,” Voldemort added.
Pettigrew shuddered. “Yes, Master.”
Voldemort watched as the man got up and hurried out of the pub. Others of his followers would try to exploit this, or would start to doubt him, should they know about this. Not Pettigrew, though. That wizard valued his survival more than anything else, even ambition, and understood the value of precautions.
A trait that had served Voldemort well in the past, and would serve him well again.
London, Ministry of Magic, January 30th, 1997
“Honoured members of the Wizengamot! We have gathered here to pass judgement over two accused of that most serious of crimes, treason.”
Brenda Brocktuckle forced herself not to pull on the chains securing her to the seat. She wouldn’t show such weakness. She hadn’t much left, but she still had her pride. She glanced at the Chief Warlock. Or the man in place of the Chief Warlock. It should have been Philius Runcorn, the most senior member of the Wizengamot. But it wasn’t. Had the blood traitors done away with him too? He certainly wouldn’t have been party to this farce, Brenda thought as she listened to the accusations leveled at her and Malcolm by Thicknesse.
It was a long list. They even brought up the Imperius she had used in the Ministry, citing that it hadn’t been a lawful use. It wasn’t as if it mattered. Brenda had brought the cursed paper aeroplanes into the Ministry and had fought and killed the blood traitors in the Corps. That would be enough to damn her.
Especially, she added, glancing over the half-empty Wizengamot, with only blood traitors and their proxies present. She wouldn’t have thought that there were so many fools willing to defy the Dark Lord.
“What a farce!” Malcolm muttered, next to her. She glanced over at him, and he grinned at her. “They’ll pay for this, once the Dark Lord takes over.”
That wouldn’t help either of them, Brenda thought.
“Brenda Brocktuckle, how do you plead?”
For a moment, she was tempted to plead guilty, just to get it over with. But she wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. She was no criminal! Brenda raised her head and looked at Bones. Her former boss stared back at her without showing any emotion. “Not guilty!” Brenda announced loudly. “I fought blood traitors and mass murdering mudbloods to save Britain!”
That started yells and murmurs among the members of the Wizengamot present.
“No self-control,” Malcolm said in a low voice. “How far have they fallen!”
“Take note that the accused Brocktuckle pleads ‘not guilty’,” Thicknesse told the court scribe. “Malcolm Parkinson, how do you plead?”
“Not guilty!” Malcolm scoffed. “My only crime is having failed in my task.”
Which was, Brenda noted, very much true. If they had won, they’d certainly not be treated as criminals, but would be hailed as heroes. She chuckled at the thought while she watched an Unspeakable approach.
She knew the procedure. They’d check her for potions and spells, before administering the Veritaserum. “Let’s get this over with,” Brenda said and opened her mouth.
“Those in favour of conviction, raise your wands!”
Brenda Brocktuckle had known the outcome in advance, but she had had a sliver of irrational hope anyway that the Wizengamot would not dare to challenge the Dark Lord. Would falter at the last moment. Malcolm certainly had reminded them of the consequences of a guilty verdict when he had spoken in his defense.
But it seemed that Bones and Black had picked their tools well - the vast majority of the members present lit their wands, sealing Brenda’s fate.
“Brenda Brocktuckle, the Wizengamot has judged you guilty of treason, conspiracy to treason, murder, conspiracy to murder, unlawful use of an unforgivable curse and partaking in a dark ritual.”
While the replacement Chief Warlock read the sentence, Brenda closed her eyes for a moment, composing herself. The Ministry had no Dementors, so they couldn’t give her the kiss. Maybe they’d imprison her…
“As punishment, you will be sent through the Veil. The sentence will be carried out immediately.”
She clenched her teeth. She wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing her lose her composure. She’d die with her head held high. The Veil wasn’t bad, she told herself while the Wizengamot rendered their judgement on Malcolm. It was supposed to be quick and painless. And she wouldn’t lose her soul. She still flinched when her wand was snapped in front of her, but any witch would, in her place. Malcolm flinched as well when his turn came.
Then the Aurors guarding her stepped up, contempt in their faces. She sneered at the traitors. They’d get theirs when the Dark Lord came for the Ministry.
Maybe he was already on the way. If the wards came under attack, they’d need every Auror and wouldn’t be able to spare the time to execute her...
She knew it was stupid, irrational, but she kept hoping, kept watching, listening for any sign that the Ministry was under attack. Right until she reached the Death Chamber, and saw the Veil standing there. And heard its whispers. Alien. Wrong.
She faltered in her steps, then, and shook her head. “No!” she muttered. Anything but that.
But her hands were bound, and she had no wand. The Aurors escorting her grabbed her arms, and pushed her forward. Towards that thing.
It was quick, but it wasn’t painless. Not at all.
London, East End, January 30th, 1997
“They executed Brocktuckle and Parkinson,” Hermione Granger announced to the rest of the Resistance gathered in the living room of their base. “Sirius just told me.”
“Good riddance to bad rubbish,” Seamus muttered. “Did anything important happen?”
Hermione suppressed the annoyance she felt upon hearing his comment. “The ones who imperiused you are dead,” she said, looking at Mary-Jane, then glancing at Seamus.
The wizard at least had the grace to look embarrassed when Mary-Jane closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. The witch recovered before Sally-Anne reached her, and looked at Hermione. “Thank you.”
Hermione hoped that this information would help the girl. She had been under the Imperius for so long, mind-controlled, her very emotions manipulated… it was as bad or worse as being roofied, Hermione thought.
But she couldn’t dwell on the matter. They had a war to fight. She cleared her throat and leaned forward, putting her hands on the dining table. “That said, Sirius also told me that the Order has mobilised, so to speak, and is ready to react to any sighting of the Dark Lord.” She looked at the others. “And so are we.”
“And the Ministry?” Tania asked. “What are they doing?”
“Guarding the Ministry, mostly,” Hermione said, scoffing.
“They’d only get in our way anyway.” John grinned in his seat.
“Or stab us in the back,” Seamus added.
“That’s unlikely,” Hermione said, “but not impossible. Bones really didn’t like our demands.” Once the Dark Lord was gone, the witch would try to renegotiate their deal. Or renege.
“And so they’ll let us bleed against the Death Eaters while they guard the Ministry?” Justin shook his head.
“It’s not as if we have a choice. The Aurors and Hit-Wizards left certainly won’t be very effective against Voldemort. Even if we could trust them completely, they’d not be much of a help.” Hermione sighed.
“But we could blow them up together with the Dark Lord!” Seamus grinned widely. “Kill two birds with one stone!”
He wasn’t just joking, Hermione knew. She was tempted to agree - she wasn’t looking forward to dealing with the Ministry once the common enemy was gone - but she shook her head at the proposal. “It’s very unlikely that we’d encounter such a situation.”
“Because the Dark Lord would kill them all easily before we’d arrive!” Tania said, balancing her chair on the two back legs.
“Yes.” Hermione smiled at the witch, though she was tempted to tell her to stop fidgeting with her chair.
“We have a bomb or two ready with Voldemort’s name on it,” Seamus said. “If he shows up, he’s history. As long as we are informed in time,” he added with a frown.
“We will.” Bones would want them to engage quickly, Hermione thought. “But deploying the bomb will be very difficult. Voldemort will be prepared.”
“If we make it big enough then whatever he’s planning won’t help,” Seamus said.
“You’ll also run the risk of killing yourself with it.” Hermione looked at him. “The bigger it is, the bigger the height you’ll need to drop it from - and the longer he has to react to it. And the collateral damage would be far too great.”
“What can he do?” Seamus stood up, staring at her. “If wards can’t stand up to it, what can Voldemort do? Unless you care more about some stupid purebloods than winning the war.” He sneered. “You didn’t have such issues when we bombed Malfoy Manor.”
“Malfoy Manor was isolated and full of Death Eaters and sympathisers, not in the middle of London,” Hermione retorted. And, a small voice in the back of her head added, their kids. “What can the Dark Lord do? Fly away before it hits. Conjure a bunker. Vanish it before it explodes. Use a decoy to make us kill innocents.” She shrugged. “These are just the obvious counters.”
“So, what can we do then? Lestrange was bad enough, and the Dark Lord is worse,” Tania said. She wasn’t balancing on her chair any more.
“We have a plan,” Hermione started. “The key is Harry. He needs to get close enough to Voldemort to take him out. Which means we’ll have to clear the way for him, and protect him.”
“What? Are we supposed to die so he can play the hero?” Seamus shook his head as if he couldn’t believe what he had heard.
“We’re not supposed to die,” Justin quoted the Sergeant. “We’re supposed to make the enemy die.”
“Easier said than done,” Tania muttered. She would be remembering Mary. “But what can Harry do? And why hasn’t he done it in Hogsmeade, when the Dark Lord was chasing him?”
Hermione hated to keep secrets from her friends, but they didn’t need to know the exact details. “He wasn’t ready then. There’s a prophecy about him and the Dark Lord. Dumbledore has been training him.”
“Dumbledore’s dead!” John said.
“Yes, he is. But Harry’s ready now.” She was frowning, which wouldn’t help her.
“Ready for what?” Seamus gesticulated with his arms. “You can’t expect us to risk our lives without knowing what the plan is!”
“You know the plan. Telling you what Harry will be doing will not change anything except for putting the entire plan at risk.” Hermione glared at him.
“So it’s OK to tell your pureblood boyfriends everything about us, but we’re not to be trusted?” Seamus straightened up, then looked at the rest of the Resistance.
She resisted the urge to correct him about Harry’s blood status. That didn’t matter. She glanced at the others too, though, trying to guess where they stood. Justin and Sally-Anne would support her. But the others? “Are you willing to risk our best shot to kill the Dark Lord for good, just to feed your ego?” She took a step around the table. “Do you think everyone should know everything, so the enemy just has to take one prisoner, and we’re all lost?”
“You tell Weasley everything!” Seamus shot back. “And we’re protected against spilling secrets!”
“I don’t tell Ron everything.” Hermione pressed her lips together. She couldn’t get angry about this. “We’re protected against betraying the Resistance. Other secrets are not safe.”
“We know enough. I trust Hermione,” Justin said.
“Me too!” Sally-Anne added.
“Keeping information classified is basic procedure,” Louise chimed in. Next to the former Hit-Witch, Jeremy nodded.
Hermione started to relax. John wasn’t a hothead. That left Seamus, and possibly Tania.
“I just want the Dark Lord and all the Death Eaters dead. If you say this is our best shot, then I’ll trust you,” Tania said.
Seamus flinched. Hermione could see him glance around, then meet her eyes with clenched teeth. “Alright. We’ll play bodyguard for Harry,” he pressed out, then sat down. Tania reached out to put her hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged it off and looked away.
Hermione took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. If she hadn’t had the trust of her friends... She returned to her seat and pulled out maps. “So… we’re expecting an attack on the Ministry, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade or Hogwarts. Here’s what we’ll do in each case…”
An hour later, Hermione was lying on her bed and staring at the ceiling. What was Seamus thinking? He hadn’t said anything questionable after their confrontation, but she was certain that he hadn’t changed his views. At least Tania hadn’t supported him. The two had grown close, after all. Hopefully, the witch would be a good influence on Seamus. Hermione didn’t know what he’d do if he felt that he was completely alone. If he decided to follow in Allan’s footsteps…
She closed her eyes. She hoped she was worried over nothing. So far, Seamus had just been talking about attacking purebloods - or rather, had tried to change the Resistance’s definition of acceptable collateral damage. He hadn’t actually done anything.
Nothing she knew about, Hermione corrected herself. It wasn’t as if she had been keeping track of what he was doing when he went out. She sighed and shook her head. No, she couldn’t assume the worst of Seamus. He hadn’t let her down so far, and he had had her back in every battle.
And yet… Allan had said the same things.
Hogwarts, January 31st, 1997
Attending lessons while there was a war going on was becoming more and more tedious, Harry Potter thought. How could he care about Herbology, or History of Magic, when he was fated to face Voldemort? At least Charms and Transfiguration had some use in battle. Potions on the other hand...
But it was over for now, at least. Harry smiled while packing his potions kit into his cauldron. No more lessons until Monday. No more useless lessons, at least - there was a training session in the evening, as usual.
Ron had already finished, and was waiting for him at the door. “Finally done! Come on, mate! Let’s get out of here before we start wearing green and silver!”
They made their way up to the Gryffindor dorms with their wands ready. Without Dumbledore, Hogwarts was not as safe as it had been. McGonagall was doing her best, but she wasn’t the Headmaster. Harry shook his head. It was a good thing that McGonagall was a witch and would be the Headmistress of Hogwarts - Dumbledore would probably always be the Headmaster for Harry, and for many others.
He smiled at his whimsical thought.
“Today there’s another broadcast, isn’t there?” Ron said as they stepped through the Fat Lady’s painting.
“If they stick to their schedule, yes,” Harry said. And knowing Hermione, the Resistance would stick to their schedule.
“Oh, they will,” Ron said. Probably thinking the same thing.
Neville was in their dorm room, peering at the Marauder’s Map. “Hello, you two,” he said, without looking up.
“Hello, Neville.” Harry hesitated for an awkward moment. “How are you doing?”
“All’s clear.” The boy still was staring at the map with an expression of intense concentration on his face. “Do you have any news about the war?”
Neville sounded eager, Harry noticed, not scared or nervous like most of the students. He didn’t know what to tell the other boy - Harry doubted that he wanted to hear some empty words about being ready.
“No, mate. The Ministry’s still sorting things out, and the Resistance and the Order are picking up the slack.” Ron apparently had no such compunction, although he was telling the truth.
Neville grunted something unintelligible. Then he looked up, staring at the two of them. “Do you think he’ll attack Hogwarts?”
“I doubt it,” Harry said. “The wards are too strong. He wouldn’t be able to break through them quickly enough to avoid getting attacked while he’s tied up and vulnerable. And I doubt that he has competent curse-breakers left.”
“Have you heard anything about the Lestrange brothers?” Neville was splitting his attention between the map and Harry and Ron now, his eyes darting around.
“No, nothing. They haven’t been seen as far as I know.” Harry shook his head. “Like Pettigrew,” he added. The traitor hadn’t been seen by anyone since Voldemort’s return.
Neville nodded. “If they do appear, tell me.” He stared at them again.
“Of course, mate,” Ron said, smiling a bit weakly.
“He’s become even more fanatical about this than Moody,” Ron whispered, sitting down on Harry’s bed and kicking his cauldron under his own bed.
“Yeah,” Harry said, stowing his own cauldron in his trunk. Moody’s training didn’t help, of course. Part of him was glad for another wand fighting Voldemort. But he couldn’t help wondering if Neville was fighting to win, or trying to die fighting. Especially now, with Dumbledore dead.
“...and while Dumbledore has died, the fight goes on! The Muggleborn Resistance will never surrender! We’ve fought both the Ministry and the Death Eaters together, and we’ll fight the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord by ourselves, if we have to.
“But we’re not alone! The Order of the Phoenix is with us! The Ministry’s fighting the Dark Lord too - just a day ago, they tried and executed several Death Eater spies. The French have sent help!
“And the Dark Lord’s forces were almost wiped out in the Battle of the Ministry and in Hogsmeade! He hasn’t shown his face since he was driven out of the village, either!
“Dumbledore is dead, but we’re not beaten - far from it! We’re ready to deal with the Dark Lord himself, should he dare to attack us, or anyone else in Britain! We will not rest until the last follower of his ideology has been defeated!”
Harry turned away from the wireless when Hermione’s voice was replaced with some rock music and shifted in his armchair. He, Ron and Ginny were sitting in their usual corner in the Gryffindor common room. He glanced at the witch. It had been his, Ron’s and Hermione’s corner last year and seeing Ginny sitting in Hermione’s usual seat was still somewhat disconcerting.
“That was pretty intense,” Ron said. He had a wistful smile on his face.
“Yes,” Harry said, “but it doesn’t change the fact that Dumbledore’s death hit us hard.”
“Well, it’s a good sign that everyone’s working together,” Ginny went on. “I was afraid that with the Headmaster gone, everyone would turn on each other, again.”
“According to Sirius, the Order almost did. Or some of them, at least. He didn’t name names, but apparently, some of the Order members really hate each other,” Harry said.
“Fred and George told me about that thief, who tried to swindle them out of stock, claiming Dumbledore sent him. Fletcher,” Ron said, nodding. “They drove him off with a few product demonstrations.” He grinned.
“Stupid. Why’s Dumbledore been recruiting such people?” Ginny frowned and pulled her legs up, hugging her knees in her seat.
“Probably as spies.” Ron shrugged. “Can’t fight a war without doing some shady stuff.”
“Did you do some ‘shady stuff’?” She was looking from one of them to the other with her chin resting on her knees. Harry was surprised how small she looked like that. Tiny, even.
The witch didn’t look convinced, but didn’t pry either. For a moment, none of them said anything. Judging by his expression, Ron was probably thinking of Hermione again, Harry thought. He couldn’t tell what Ginny was thinking about. Hopefully, she wasn’t remembering Voldemort possessing her in second year.
“Why can’t they see that we all have the same enemy?” Ginny huffed, and blew at a strand of her hair that had fallen on her face.
“They do. But everyone’s already planning for the time after the war. And that won’t be pretty.” Ron leaned back in his own seat and folded his hands on his stomach.
“They should win the war first!” Ginny said, snorting. She was clenching her teeth and staring at the floor. “Why’s everyone acting like idiots?”
She had a point, of course. But simply focusing on beating Voldemort was not that smart either. “The aftermath will be chaotic enough, it’s better to prepare in advance.” Harry stretched. He had another training session planned for this evening.
“That would be a good thing, if the Ministry wouldn’t be preparing to double-cross the Resistance as soon as Voldemort’s dead.” Ron shook his head, glaring at the wall.
Ginny whipped her head round and stared at her brother with wide eyes. “Did you hear anything from Dad or Percy about that?”
“No. But that’s no surprise. Bones knows that we’re blood traitors. She wouldn’t tell us anything. Especially not with people knowing about Hermione and I dating.” Ron glared at the Daily Prophet on the table nearby.
“It was a nice article,” his sister tried to console him. “Nothing like the Skeeter ones in third year.”
“Fourth year you mean,” Ron corrected her.
“It was my third.”
“So? It was Harry’s, mine and Hermione’s fourth!”
Harry chuckled while the two redheads bickered. The Legilimency training could wait a bit longer.
London, Greenwich, February 1st, 1997
The Dark Lord Voldemort looked at the building, and suppressed the rage rising inside him. He wasn’t seeing the modern muggle house in front of him, but the dark walls of Wool’s Orphanage. Memories appeared in his mind, unbidden, unwelcome. Hunger, pain, shivering in the cold, living amongst muggle filth. Stupid children, mocking him for being different, until he taught them better. Dumbledore, visiting, and showing off his power.
He didn’t like to remember his childhood. He had been weak. Weak and ignorant. Barely better than the muggles around him… No! He had always known that he was destined for greater things. That he’d one day rule over all of those who had looked down on him. And he had risen far, far above this.
He shook his head. This wasn’t Wool’s Orphanage, and he wasn’t here to remember his childhood. It was an unpleasant task, but a necessary one, and one he could not entrust to any of his followers.
He put a smile on his face and entered the building. There was a desk at the entrance, a reception. As if this was a hotel. A young muggle was sitting behind it. “Hello, sir. How may I help you?”
He smiled at her, once again disguised as an average man, and pointed his wand at her. “I have an appointment with the director.”
She blinked as the spell took hold. “Of course, sir! She’s expecting you. If you’ll follow me.”
Voldemort’s smile deepened when he spotted a few children peering at him from around a corner. Perfect.
Half an hour later, two dozen children, all between five and eight years old, had gathered in the orphanage’s courtyard. Most were smiling, and staring at the bus parked there. One, though, was frowning. “I didn’t hear about a trip. Those are usually announced in advance. Where are we going, anyway?”
Voldemort sighed. He knew the type. And hated them. He bent down and smiled widely at the annoying muggle boy, showing his teeth.
Amelia might be seen as the type to respect a pardon given, even if she doesn't like it. But a pardon granted is a also a public affair - and a good deal for the propaganda. The issue for the Resistance is that they will not submit to a system that has disgraced itself thoroughly by preparing genocide. Now, of course that will not look good for the purebloods. But the majority of the half-bloods will understand - since they all have muggle and muggleborn relatives, so they know what was going on. Basically, Hermione does not want to give the impression that she accepts the jusstice system of Wizarding Britain in its current form.
Indeed, rules of engagement - but veritaserum? Under Ministry supervision, in front of the Wizengamot? That's not something the Resistance will accept. That's like trying Jewish resistance fighters in front of a Volksgerichtshof to judge their actions during WW2. It will not happen.
Amelia already considers the Resistance criminals. She doesn't trust them. She doesn't accept their reasons for not submitting to the DMLE. Pardon or no pardon, that would not change. (She might still change, but it would take a lot to make her understand what the Ministry did wrong.)
Well, not submitting to nazi justice sends a message indeed. And many purebloods will see them in a bad light. But then, if they did submit, a number of muggleborns would question their sanity.
There we differ.
There is no "following evil orders in good faith". That argument was disproven in Nürmberg.
Revenge is wrong. Revenge taken for a criminal is worse.
Where do you draw the line between a culture, and a club? How many people do you consider the minimal amount needed to have a culture?
You might understand my point better if you replace "culture" with "class".
Inbreeding is a problem, just compare it to the aristocracy of Europe. It wasn't as if they were drooling idiots, but they had more genetic problems than the commoners.
Many of those who had relatives (at least relatives they cared about) attending left Hogwarts with the Slytherins. Just remember how the Blacks treated Andromeda, and you might understand that not too many of the "lower class purebloods" gave a damn about the Upper class blown up at Malfoy Manor. And those who did would certainly not start shit with the Resistance.
A dislike for the isolated, bigoted "culture" of the Old Families, indeed. I still don't get why you think that should be protected.
Not to the degree that there was no backlash possible. As real life teaches us, racism has staying power.
Well, in my opinion and experience - we used to spend all vacations, sometimes months long, without TV - it works well.
Well, I see a problem with fat wizards kids in the future once TV takes off.
As always, tell me to stop and I’ll stop. You write a great story and that deserves respect.
You are the author but please consider the following when thinking of the propaganda value of a blanket pardon for future events, no rules of engagement and no code of military justice.
The resistance’s first action had collateral damage, a number of “neutrals” some who would undoubtedly have been real neutrals, decent people or innocents, and children. Their second public action also had collateral damage and the poisoning of a large number of people in the street. Now, hold that against the other publicly known actions where collateral damage has been possible but did not occur. Among those actions where civilians and non-combatants were close by, how many does the public see as being clean and how many does the public see as the resistance getting non-combatants killed? So, how does that look?
The second thing to think of when it comes to the propaganda value is that this is a small country. You likened it to a city with a population of between 25000 and 50000 if I recall correctly. That means that for the Knockturn Alley bombing, a decent percentage of the population would either have known somebody affected personally, know somebody who knows somebody who was affected personally, or know somebody who saw the result, either as an Auror or more likely as a gawker. And those people would now have reason to feel threatened by the possibilities opened by a blanket pardon. Same for the bombing on Malfoy Manor.
Now, Hermione fixating on showing her independence from the current system is quite believable, she lacks experience. That doesn’t mean however that her and the resistance past actions happened and have no further effect on her situation. And a blanket pardon won’t reassure anybody if the past actions of the resistance contained a large percentage that featured collateral damage.
In front of Amelia or whatever liaison is appointed, as soon as possible after the action, to make certain that no questions keep floating around until it is convenient or inconvenient. And then it’s done. Not a long, drawn out political circus. There is a war to win after all.
This also helps with trust, Aurors, Hit Wizards and any commanding them not wondering for weeks or months whether an action was a legitimate action in the war or an act of revenge / a theft / an act meant to weaken them for a later attack.
My point was not so much the “sees them as criminals” but rather “sees them as planning acts that would demand imprisonment or execution”. A criminal you can work with if you have to, I assume, so long as your interests coincide and you keep your eyes open, the other you need to be on guard against, as well as guarding non-combatants, because you know they're planning to stab you in the back.
I might be mistaken, but so far in your story you have not shown Wizardling Britain as Nazi Germany. On the way to it, fast, if they had kept appeasing Voldemort? Yes. Bigoted against Muggleborn? Yes. Magical Nazi Britain? Quite a way to go and no longer on that path.
I agree to disagree.
Spoiler: Honest Question
Anything in the books specifically except the way people spoke about him? It has been quite a while and they weren’t the kind of books I reread.
Not for an argument or a debate, and I’ll try not to bring it up in any other part of a discussion, but if there’s something specific instead of just two different interpretations of the same facts then I would like to take a look at it. (I don’t like making obvious mistakes. Different opinions can be interesting, obvious mistakes feel bad.)
All right, what were the obviously evil orders given to the Aurors in the story? There are no camps shown, no systematic seizure of assets shown, no sterilizations shown, no experimentation shown and no extermination shown. If they had continued to appease Voldemort then yes, but it had not gone that far as far as I saw. So what were the obviously evil orders?
How about killing somebody tied to a chair, somebody unable to defend himself? That’s wrong too isn’t it? Or poisoning people, stealing from people, killing somebody coming to take you for questioning, destroying somebody’s memories, denying families and friends the closure of justice, killing kids (young teens) or sheltering a criminal from justice? None of these things are right, but whether they are wrong depends upon who is doing it, why it is being done, what if anything, was done to warrant it, would not doing it lead to worse and probably a bunch of other stuff.
So why is revenge different? After all, if the person or organization against whom the revenge is aimed escaped the consequences of his, her or its acts due to politics, power or luck, why is revenge against him, her or it wrong? (I’m not saying revenge is right, but sometimes it’s dammed appropriate or deserved, and not wrong in the least in my opinion.)
I would say a stable (or extremely close to stable) breeding population. It sounds crass, but bear with me. If Group A marries outside itself on a regular basis, especially into a single different culture, let’s call it Group B, Group A’s culture is going to disappear and Group A will become part of Group B’s culture. If a child, officially in Group A, has two parents, one from Group A and one from Group B, he will be raised with a mix of both cultures. Probably not 50/50, since he is being raised in an environment that reinforces Group A’s culture. So let’s say 70/30. And then he marries somebody else in Group B, because everybody in Group A is too closely related. So his kids get even more of Group B’s culture and attitudes, from him, from the grandparent and from his wife, putting them perhaps at 50/50. And so it goes, until the entire culture of Group A is gone.
This is an oversimplification, and it wouldn’t happen as fast if it was only every second or third generation married outside the group, but I trust you get the point I’m trying to make.
That of course brings up the question of when a culture has changed enough between two closely linked groups to be called two different cultures, and that I cannot say.
Could one say that two different classes exist within one culture. Yes.
But how would something like that work with the family / clan structure of the old pureblood families?
The family head is obviously ruling class, but we’ve been shown that old pureblood family members also work as Aurors, which should be middle class or upper middle class… Interesting. So class as I know and use it (upper class, upper middle class, middle class, lower middle class, lower class and criminal class) probably isn’t quite accurate for this.
Thank you. I’ll probably spend the next however long working out in my head how a two classed small (population between 25000 and 50000) magical culture / country with a number of regular immigrants could work. Class one (old pureblood families), class two (pureblood families and halfbloods) and immigrants (muggleborn). Class one with an extended family structure, class two with mostly just an immediate family structure and the immigrants as singletons. Should be an interesting thought exercise, How I see it work in relationship to the story, how it could work and how to make it work well.
Generally, unless it’s mentioned I assume it doesn’t exist. (The stories I’ve looked at that mentioned it either weren’t serious or were rather forgettable.) Also, to throw the question in the air, does anybody know how large a population would be needed to keep inbreeding from becoming a serious problem over a 300 year plus period? I googled it, but the articles I opened were rather dryer and more technical than I’m capable of handling, so I’m uncertain about a number.
Edit: Most or all of the ones killed were Slytherins? Given all the possible reasons to go, the fact that the Longbottoms were invited and the fact that even the Weasley’s had a grandmother who was an Old Family Pureblood it feels forced. My apologies, I do not recall it being mentioned and it should be a huge blow against the school and Dubledore. End of Edit. If you're going to be adding to the story before reposting it, at the very least it could be used as a reason about why the Hogwart’s Houses had internal difficulties. Saying Hufflepuff is split because some blame Hermione for killing that first year and that seventh year and some say it was not her fault, Malfoy / the Ministry / Voldemort forced the Muggleborn to act or die. Or because of dead family members of some of the students.
As to Harry and Ron, they were still young and (in my opinion) immature enough to believe that so and so must be a death eater or sympathizer if they were at Malfoy Manor.
As to the Blacks, I always got the impression that the Blacks were on the “worse” side of the “bad” spectrum, due to that painting and Sirius. (In the books Sirius either didn’t see the difference between a prank and “cursed plus grievous bodily harm” or perhaps killed. Years later as an adult he’s shown as having no understanding of what he did nor any remorse. And he’s supposed to be the nice one.) Given that she wasn’t killed or mind raped their treatment of Andromeda seems not bad at all by their standards.
As to starting shit? Hermione seeing an acquaintance who turns around and walks away rather than greet her back, and then realizes or is told that that person’s mother, cousin, father or sibling was killed would show the cost of what was done quite clearly.
You said that:
“But the differences between general pureblood culture and Old Families' culture is basically that - the Old Families consider themselves better, and made efforts to accentuate that. The basic pureblood culture was still quite unified - given their low numbers - in most aspects.”
Which is why I said “a class on pureblood customs, the parts common to all”. So, the parts of the culture common to all Purebloods.
While I think it's possible to get that far, I agree that in the real world, with all the time, money and education we have going for us, we aren't there yet and it will likely take much longer than I imagine for us to get there.
Differences in experience leading to different views. So let’s just say that some wouldn’t have a problem, some would initially have problems and some would be a problem with their whining and tantrums.
Well, of course that carte blanche will look bad to the purebloods, and they'll see all the problems you mentioned. But I can only reiterate - in the eyes of the Resistance, the vast majority of the muggleborns, and many of the half-bloods (those who did not cut their mudblood parents off), Wizarding Britain is seen somewhere between Apartheid South Africa, and Nazi Germany. They care about the Malfoy Manor bombing about as much as British people cared about the Bomber offensive against Germany back in 1944. I think you need to keep that in mind when talking about the general attitudes. And, if taking South Africa as an example, Nelson Mandela just was killed.
Yes, that does mean that there'll be enormous problems to solve to avoid ruining Wizarding Britain.
On the other hand, any attempt by Amelia to not grant a pardon will be seen as a sign that she plans to stab the Resistance in the back and uphold discrimination as well as protect the old system. The latter is, incidentally, actually her goal, though she sees it as restoring law and order.
Amelia sees resisting the Ministry as a crime anyway.
They had passed legislation that discriminated based on blood, and treated muggleborns like the Nazis treated jews in the 1930s.
Hermione even realised that in the first chapter. Beaten by the cops for shit and giggles, robbed, forced out of their homes, their shops taken over or plundered, and there even was a riot to take the place of the Reichskristallnacht. Yes, Wizarding Britain acted like Nazi Germany, and yes, the muggleborns noticed. Would they have gone as far as the Nazis if teh Death Eaters would not have taken over? Probably not. But the system did thoroughly disgrace itself. That most of the purebloods do not realise that is part of the tragedy of the conflict.
I can't recall anything concrete, but he's portrayed as the wise if not infallible, but benevolent mentor.
You could argue that enforcing discrimination and effectively hunting down muggleborns for being muggleborns is evil. But if there were no obviously evil orders, then the Auror is in the clear anyway.
Those things were done for a purpose - fighting an evil army. Revenge is done for revenge's sake. That's the difference. And if it's justified and appropriate, it's not revenge anyway.
But in this case, we have the upper class absorbing the ones marrying into it since among purebloods, their culture (or, their "secret handshakes") was seen as desirable.
How does it work in real life? The upper class manages to keep apart from the "rabble" in many countries. Class is quite accurate - provided you take a third world country, a corrupt banana republic, as example.
Well, I can just keep saying: Some will feel bad about their relatives getting killed. But it's a far cry from feeling bad to supporting Death Eaters. And, frankly, Hermione will be avoided out of fear far more than out of some anger about the collateral damage. So, I think that's a moot point. Of course, one could argue if seeing the true face of people is actually a cost. But hey - someone turning their back on Hermione for bombing Malfoy Manor is no big loss. Because favouring their relative, who sucked up to the KKK, instead of the girl who fought the Nazis? That's not a person you want to be close to or associate with anyway.
Sadly, for many purebloods, family - or blood - will trump everything else. Which is a part of the reason why Wizarding Britain is so fucked up.
And that part will not vanish. What will vanish is essentially the secret handshakes, so to speak. And the inside jokes. The tainted parts, in other words. But then again - it remains to be seen just how different that culture actually is from muggle culture.
Chapter 40: Battle of Diagon Alley
‘Many of my colleagues have described the meeting on January 28th 1997 in the Ministry as an event involving the leaders of all the factions opposing the Dark Lord - effectively, a meeting of Wizarding Britain’s leadership. In my opinion, that is not quite correct. While it is true that the Minister for Magic and the leaders of both the Order of the Phoenix and the Muggleborn Resistance were present, it has to be noted that none of them had the degree of control over the sides they nominally represented which many attribute to them.
Amelia Bones was the Minister for Magic, but she was dependent on the support of the Wizengamot for crucial issues, and was far from having the same degree of influence on its members that Dumbledore had commanded. Likewise, she had the personal loyalty of most of the surviving members of the DMLE, but other Ministry employees were not quite as reliable.
Sirius Black was the leader of a cell of the Order of the Phoenix and didn’t know all of the other cells and agents - some information Dumbledore had taken with him to his grave, apparently trusting his more discreet friends to contact his successors on their own. Black also had contacts in the Wizengamot, but these were not very extensive.
Harry Potter was the famous Boy-Who-Lived, known by everyone in the country, but he was still a student, and for all his famous deeds, not many adults would follow him.
Hermione Granger was the undisputed leader of the Muggleborn Resistance, and, at that point, as well-known as Harry Potter in Britain, but that did not translate into being a leader of all muggleborns - or even most of them.
Knowing this, the events that followed should be far less surprising than they have been made out to be by some.
- Excerpt from ‘The Second Blood War’ by Hyacinth Selwyn
London, Diagon Alley, February 1st, 1997
“A fine day for a little stroll, don’t you agree, Ackerly? You’re quite familiar with such outings, aren’t you?” The Dark Lord Voldemort smiled when he saw Nott cringe - the man hadn’t forgotten what Voldemort had done to him as punishment for organising the riot last summer that had disrupted his plans. Nott hadn’t been able to walk without the help of magic for months.
“Yes, milord.” Nott was probably glancing around behind his mask - the man’s posture betrayed how nervous he was.
Rabastan chuckled at the sight, twirling his wand. “Not losing your nerve already, I hope?” He nodded at the two dead bodies that lay sprawled on the floor, victims of Killing Curses. “We haven’t spilled any mudblood yet.”
The man’s wit had suffered during his time in Azkaban, though not many had the courage to tell him that to his face, but he was otherwise as capable as he had been. He had secured the clothes shop the Dark Lord was using to stage his forces without any problems.
Rabastan had been pleased when he had been given the honour of being the vanguard for this mission. Unlike Nott, who had been nervous even when he was walking at the Dark Lord’s side. He’d do his duty, though, if he didn’t want to be punished even worse than before.
Voldemort looked around to make certain that they were hidden from the street by the shelves inside the shop and flicked his wand.
The fireplace flared up, and Rodolphus stepped out.
“Milord.” The man nodded at Voldemort and took up a position at the door. He hadn’t talked much since Voldemort had broken him out of Azkaban and only seemed to display his old savage temper in battle.
Today would accommodate that, Voldemort thought, as the fireplace flared up again, and a young boy fell out of it, rolling over the floor. Rabastan didn’t bother waiting until the muggle could stand up. Two spells had the child stuck to the wall while the rest of the urchins arrived through the Floo, none of them displaying even the least hint of grace. It was very fortunate that Silencing Charms prevented their crying from being annoying.
By the time Dolohov stepped through the Floo, two dozen of the little animals were covering the walls and floors of the shop, some of them still futilely trying to free themselves as if their weak limbs could overcome magic.
A dozen of the recruits Dolohov and Yaxley had brought with them from the continent followed, a number of them shifting around, obviously unfamiliar with the robes they were wearing. Then came Yaxley himself, carrying four rolled-up carpets.
Voldemort smiled. All was ready.
London, Diagon Alley, February 1st, 1997
“Not much going on,” Ron Weasley said, looking around the twins’ shop.
“I know.” Fred, sitting behind the counter, sighed, spreading his hands. “People need to laugh more, especially right now, but they’re too scared. We have products that can make anyone laugh!”
Family loyalty, and the desire to avoid serving as a test subject for his brothers’ next product, kept Ron from pointing out that many of the twins’ products were not that funny for the victim. “With Dumbledore dead, people are expecting the Dark Lord to attack any day now. The Alley looks almost deserted,” he added, looking out through one of the store’s windows.
“It hasn’t changed that much,” Fred said, standing up and joining him at the forefront of the shop’s main room. “People have been avoiding walking in the Alley for a while - noticeably since summer, and even more so since some muggleborns dropped fire bombs on people.” He chuckled. “We’ve had customers who wanted to use the Floo to enter, and to move to the next shop.”
“That’d be a terrible idea,” Ron said, shaking his head. “All your protections could be bypassed like that. Did you check who made such a request? It could have been an agent of the Dark Lord.”
Fred laughed, briefly. “Is that Hermione’s influence? You didn’t use to be so…”
“... suspicious?” Ron shrugged. “It’s Moody’s training, actually. He encourages paranoia.”
Fred winced. “I’ve met him.”
Ron snorted. “You haven’t really met him until he’s been training you. If Pomfrey knew how often Harry and I were hurt in his lessons, she’d curse him so bad, he’d need another peg leg.” He noticed Fred was staring at him in a weird way. “What?”
Ron waited, but Fred didn’t go on. “Well, we’re in a war. Everyone changes.” He didn’t have to say that he had killed; his brother was well aware of that fact, as was his entire family.
Once the silence had grown uncomfortable, Fred spoke up again. “So, what brings you to us when you should be at Hogwarts?”
Ron laughed. “Dad said that he doesn’t think we’ll get used to Hogwarts’ rules again, even once the war ends.” Strangely, his brother didn’t seem to think that that was funny. Ron cleared his throat. “Anyway, I’m here because I need some of your inventions. We want to improve security at Hogwarts.” Some of the twins’ products, like the Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, would give even a First Year a chance to escape a Death Eater. And Ron knew his brothers had created things that were not quite as harmless. Of course, he was planning to see Hermione before returning to the school, too.
“For free, I suppose?”
Fred was smiling, though Ron didn’t think he was entirely joking - no customers was a bad thing for any shop. So he shook his head. “Harry’ll cover it.” Or Sirius.
“Where is our illustrious Boy-Who-Lived, anyway?”
Ron sighed. “He’s showing the flag at Hogwarts.”
“Really?” Fred looked doubtful.
“Well, he has a harder time sneaking away, with the rumour that he’ll defeat the Dark Lord going around.” Ron shrugged. “And Sirius likes him safe at Hogwarts.”
Fred laughed. “I bet he hates that.”
“He does, but what can you do?” Ron shrugged. Harry was crucial for the plan to defeat Voldemort.
Something moved on the street outside, and Ron turned around. That was… “A flying carpet?” He stared. “Aren’t they banned?”
“There’s another one, behind it,” Fred said, “And… there are children on it.”
Children who, Ron noticed, were looking far too frightened for this to be harmless. And they were wearing muggle clothes too.
He was already sprinting to the fireplace when Fred yelled: “Death Eaters in the Alley!”
Ron grabbed some Floo Powder and threw it inside. “Grimmauld Place!” he yelled, but the flames didn’t turn green. “Floo travel’s blocked!” he shouted to Fred. The door to the backroom was thrown open, and Ron almost hexed George before he recognised him.
“Apparition’s blocked too… and the wards are under attack!”
“They’ll hold them back long enough… Merlin’s balls! That’s the Dark Lord out there!”
Ron felt a cold shiver run down his spine. Voldemort, here in the Alley - there were not many targets for him, and the twins’ shop was the most prominent one.
“Alright, don’t panic!” George yelled, sounding quite panicked himself. “We’ve prepared for this.”
While his brothers ran around, pulling all sorts of things from shelves, Ron pulled out Hermione’s mirror. They needed to get the word out. Harry had to know.
London, East End, February 1st, 1997
“Hermione! The Dark Lord’s attacking Diagon Alley! Call Sirius and inform Harry!”
Hermione Granger gasped, her smile at seeing Ron in the mirror dying on her lips when she heard his words. Her first thought was that the attack they had been waiting for had finally come. Her second was that this could be a trap. But they had to react anyway. A flick of her wand opened her door, and assisted by an Amplifying Charm, she alerted the rest of the Resistance. “Voldemort’s attacking Diagon Alley! Get ready to move out at once!”
She dropped the mirror on the bed and pulled out Sirius’s mirror. “Sirius!” she yelled while she hastily changed into fatigues. Fortunately, Harry’s godfather didn’t take long to answer.
“Voldemort’s attacking the twins’ shop!” Hermione yelled. “Ron’s there and talking through his mirror.”
“... about a dozen of them, and the Dark Lord. The wards are holding, but they won’t last forever,” Hermione heard Ron go on. “Blimey! He’s got hostages, kids on flying carpets! Over a dozen!”
Hermione froze for a moment. Hostages? Children? Where had the Dark Lord found so many… Muggles! “Are they wearing muggle clothes?” she asked, pulling on her boots and tying the laces with a quick charm. They had to be muggles - just about all of the wizard children were either at Hogwarts, or hiding with their families.
“Let me check… Yes. Looks like they’re muggles. Blimey! He’s torn up the street across from us!”
“Don’t linger!” Hermione yelled, grabbing her rifle and the mirrors. “Sirius! We’re apparating to Grimmauld Place at once!”
She rushed out of her room. Justin met her outside, just slipping into his rifle’s sling. Behind him, Sally-Anne left his room, struggling with her harness. “Where are we going?” he asked.
“Grimmauld Place. We’re linking up with the Order and the French.”
Hogwarts, February 1st, 1997
“Harry! Death Eaters are attacking Diagon Alley. Hermione called me.” Harry Potter stared at Sirius’s image in the communication mirror. And to think he had been glad for the distraction just a moment ago, when he had felt the communication mirror vibrate in his pocket and had slipped out of the common room to activate it.
“We’re gathering at Grimmauld Place!” Sirius said. “Hurry!”
Harry was already running. The next Floo connection was in McGonagall’s office, but… he sprinted through the common room.
“Harry! What’s happening?”
He ignored Neville’s yell. The infirmary’s Floo connection was not as close as McGonagall’s, but if she wasn’t in her office he wouldn’t be able to enter.
Neville was running after him, but Harry had no time to explain, much less argue with the boy why he wasn’t ready to come with him. He pulled out his shrunken broom without stopping. A few seconds later, he was flying through the hallways - close to the ceiling, so he’d not ram anyone in his path.
An Auror was standing guard outside the infirmary. Harry thought he had been a Hufflepuff two years above him. Maybe one of Cedric’s friends. He couldn’t remember his name, though.
“Stop!” The wizard was was belatedly drawing his wand.
If this had been an attack, Harry could have cursed the man twice over. Moody would have fun training that one, Harry thought, jumping off the broom right in front of the man. “Medical emergency!” he yelled.
The Auror blinked, gaping at him while he slipped through the door. Moody wouldn’t have fun, Harry corrected himself. He’d be spitting mad.
He reached the fireplace and grabbed some Floo Powder. “Sirius! I’m coming through!” he said to the mirror. “Grimmauld Place!”
A moment later, he stumbled out of the fireplace into the entrance hall of Grimmauld Place. Sirius was in the center of the room, next to Delacour, surrounded by Order members and French wizards and witches. Moody was there, too. And Aberforth Dumbledore. As far as he could tell, pretty much all of the Order members left - at least those able to fight - were present. But where was…? Harry looked around. He couldn’t spot… there! Hermione and the rest of the Resistance entered through the door. They must have apparated, he thought. He couldn’t spot Ron, though. Hadn’t he planned to meet Hermione? Then he hissed - Ron had said he’d visit the twins first!
That was Sirius calling him. Harry went to his godfather while the wizard addressed the room. “Alright. The Dark Lord’s attacking Diagon Alley - focused on Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. He has about a dozen Death Eaters with him, and twice that number of hostages - children stuck to flying carpets.”
Harry wasn’t the only one who gasped upon hearing that.
“Aurors are engaging them already, and the shop’s wards are holding - the Dark Lord hasn’t risked taking them down himself so far - but neither the Aurors nor the wards will last that long. We’ll take the Floo to the Leaky Cauldron, and then hit them from the air and from the ground, from all directions. With the hostages, we can’t just blow them up, so we’ll have to be careful. Unless you’re ordered to, don’t engage the Dark Lord - leave that to those who have been preparing for this. Stick with your group, and stay alive!”
Harry swallowed, trying not to show how nervous he was. This was it. He’d face Voldemort. All he had to do was get close enough to use Legilimency.
The French were already at the fireplace, taking the vanguard, as usual, followed by the Order members. The Resistance would apparently be the last to leave. While a short line was forming, Harry walked over to Hermione. She was glancing at a mirror. At Ron. He was alive and well!
“Hurry up!” he heard his friend yell. “The building’s shaking already.”
“We’re coming,” Hermione said, staring at the mirror with a grim expression.
Harry wanted to hug her, wanted to talk to Ron, but Sirius started to usher the Resistance through the fireplace before he could do either. All he managed was to briefly squeeze Hermione’s hand.
Then they stepped through the fireplace.
London, Diagon Alley, February 1st, 1997
Ron Weasley stopped casting, horrified, when a Blasting Curse struck a flying carpet, shredding it and the six children stuck to it. Who had… there! The curse had been cast by an Auror advancing on the Death Eater position.
Ron wasn’t the only one to spot him - before he could say anything, the man was banished into a wall next to the shop with so much force, he left a bloodstain on the bricks when he slid down to the ground. A second later, the man’s chest exploded, blood and gore splattering the cobblestones.
Fred, crouching at the door, cast a curse at the Death Eater who had killed the man, but missed as the dark wizard stepped behind an overturned cart. Ron’s own Reductor Curse hit the cart, but didn’t do much damage - it had been turned into solid stone, he noticed. He was tempted to use a Blasting Curse, turn the thing into deadly shrapnel, but… he glanced at another floating carpet nearby. He couldn’t.
George arrived, with two floating stacks of rockets trailing behind him. “Let’s see how they like this!” he yelled, lining them up with a flick of his wand.
“No! You’ll hurt the hostages!” Ron yelled. The children were stuck to the carpets and couldn’t flee - and couldn’t be summoned to safety either.
“Don’t worry,” his brother bared his teeth, lighting the fuses. “It’s not going to hurt anyone… technically.”
What good would they do then? Ron thought, then ducked as the rockets shot out of the shop, towards the stone bunker shielding the Death Eaters attacking the wards. A second later, he saw the rockets blow up into thick, fluorescent smoke.
“Poison?” he asked, glancing at George. That would certainly harm the hostages.
“Not the deadly kind!” George grinned. “I loaded them with our puking pastilles!”
All of them knew that the odds of catching a Death Eater without a Bubble-Head Charm up were slim, but the enemy wouldn’t know what the rockets did, so it should at least distract them. It was quite ironic, Ron thought - the twins had spent a long time weaponising their products, turning pranks into lethal devices in preparation for such an attack, and now they were forced to rely on their harmless products, or they’d kill the muggle hostages. Of course, used correctly, even pranks could be deadly, he added to himself, with a glance at the corpse of a Death Eater who had been caught out of cover with a Freezing Frisbee. The ten seconds he had been held immobile had been more than enough to kill the dark wizard with Piercing Curses.
But that was just one of the attackers, and there were too many left. And the Dark Lord. If not for a handful of Aurors attacking, the wards would probably have been shredded already. Instead, the Aurors had been shredded - Ron could see three more red-robed corpses on the street.
He wasn’t feeling too sorry for them, though - not after that Blasting Curse. Ron shivered, glancing at the grisly remains.
Then he ducked, involuntarily, when another Blasting Curse hit the street right in front of the shop, at the wardline, and the building shook again.
“We should retreat,” George said. “The wards won’t hold much longer.”
They had reinforced the walls and door, but that would not offer much protection. Not against a dozen Death Eaters, much less against Voldemort. Ron shook his head anyway. “No. We need to keep them here, attacking us. Help is on the way.”
“You’ve been telling us that for a long time now!” Fred said, casting a few more curses.
“Just a few minutes,” Ron corrected him while his own curse drove a Death Eater back into cover.
“We might not have that much longer!” George said, summoning a bundle of Screaming Screwdrivers from a shelf in the back.
“They’re coming!” Ron said. The bracelet on his wrist, one of Dumbledore’s gifts, told him so. He could feel Hermione’s presence, and Harry’s, much closer than a minute ago. They were not yet in the Alley, though. He reached into his enchanted pocket and pulled out a small flask, another trinket left to him by the Headmaster. It wasn’t quite harmless, but if he used it correctly, then it shouldn’t harm the hostages. Or himself. And it would buy them time. But if he made a mistake… he took a deep breath. He should have used it right away, when no one but the Death Eaters had been in the Alley.
“Brace yourself!” he said. Then he broke the seal.
The Dark Lord Voldemort was growing impatient. Even without his help, his Death Eaters should have taken down the wards of that blood traitor shop by now. This was taking too long! At least, though, he had only lost one of his followers to the defenders’ curses - given the competency the new recruits had displayed, that was already a success, even with those boys hampered by the hostages.
They’d learn, though, or they’d die.
A speck of red caught his attention - another Auror? He waved his wand, and the street corner the figure had dashed behind vanished. The Auror stared at him, gaping, instead of moving, and Voldemort’s Killing Curse struck him in the chest.
That was the sixth dead Auror - they were displaying an appalling lack of skill. He was wondering if the one who had killed half a dozen of the muggle children had done so to strip him of the protection the hostages granted, or had simply mistaken them for Death Eaters. Once he was ruling Britain, standards for Aurors would be raised considerably.
He glanced at the stone bunker protecting his Curse-Breakers - or rather, those of his followers claiming to be Curse-Breakers. The three wizards had clearly overstated their experience. He told himself that it didn’t matter - the wards would not last forever, and the shop was, ultimately, not that important, as long as it served to attract his enemies so they could be slaughtered. And with two buildings burning, and the blood traitors trapped, his enemies had to react.
He checked the sky, still obscured by thick clouds of smoke, and smiled. That would hinder his enemies, too. More than they believed - they wouldn’t be able to see through it either, unlike himself.
A loud roar made him whirl around in time to see a huge blue figure shoot out from the joke shop. A Marid, here? He definitely had underestimated those blood traitors. To use a bound genie showed both their skill and nerve. Genies served only if forced to, and would take any opportunity to betray their master.
They were fierce fighters, though, and hard to hurt with magic. A swish with his wand reinforced the defences of his followers, just in time to absorb a crushing wave of water slamming into them. The mass of water rebounded, then formed deceptively slim tendrils which struck at the stone walls with enough force to send splinters flying. And they were making their way around the obstacles, probing for weaknesses. A shriek told him that one had found a gap, and struck a Death Eater. He sneered - as weak as his new recruits were, he needed them.
“Avada Kedavra! Avada Kedavra!”
Water conjured and controlled by the genie intercepted his curses, exploding into clouds of steam and obscuring the Marid from Voldemort’s view - and himself from the genie’s. Long enough to send another volley of curses at it.
Those two were blocked by water tendrils, but the genie was now on the defensive. Voldemort glanced at Rabastan, but his follower had anticipated his plan, and was already flanking the creature with his brother.
The genie managed to dodge and block their curses as well - a truly formidable example of its kind - but in doing so, it spent more of the water it controlled. And to conjure more, it would have to focus - and greatly reduce its ability to block more curses. It had to know this as well, since it suddenly struck out with all its tendrils at the Lestranges, obviously trying to overwhelm them. Rabastan was struck, but his Shield Charm held, even while he was thrown back, while Rodolphus managed to roll away, but had to take cover.
But in doing so, the genie had offered an opening to Voldemort - and he didn’t lose any time exploiting it. He sent a volley of curses at it, striking the remaining water tendrils, disrupting them long enough for another curse to hit the genie. It started to shriek at once, writhing in pain, arms clawing at its back, where a dark stain was spreading.
Voldemort was almost disappointed that the Lestrange brothers killed the genie before he could see his curse run its course, but he couldn’t fault them for being efficient. They were his most effective followers.
Despite the victory over the creature, he was annoyed. After seeing such magic used against him, it was clear that he could not afford to leave the shop and move on towards the Leaky Cauldron. He had to keep the shop bottled up. On the other hand... He turned his attention to the Alley again. The Ministry forces should arrive any moment, provided they had deployed as quickly as possible. If he could decimate their best, those who’d never surrender anyway, and rout the remaining forces, then the Ministry would be too weakened to further resist him.
The Leaky Cauldron was full of panicking wizards and witches, Hermione Granger noticed when she walked out of the fireplace. Two Aurors were herding them through the exit to muggle London. They could have simply apparated, she thought - magical travel wasn’t blocked in this part of the Alley. Yet. But then, they’d probably splinch themselves in their state.
It wasn’t her problem, anyway. The French were already out of the pub - she had tried to tell them not to be quite as aggressive, but even after the horrific casualties they had taken in the Ministry, the Delacours had not been willing ‘to abandon two centuries of tradition’.
The Order members were moving as well - with some exceptions. She saw Aberforth and Moody waiting to the side, together with Sirius and Harry.
Hermione turned to the Resistance. “We’ll use the brooms to fly around them and hit them from the other side. Louise, Jeremy - you’re front. Tania, John, fire support. Seamus, you’re with me behind them. Justin and Sally-Anne, you’re bringing up the rear. Mary-Anne, you’re on evac duty - summon and levitate the wounded.” The witch would be most useful in that function - she lacked the training to fight effectively.
This wouldn’t be like the Ministry, she told herself. They had trained for such missions. And they knew the area. But a small voice in the back of her head kept reminding her that they were once again rushing into a battle without proper planning.
“We’re at the Leaky Cauldron,” she said to the mirror. “We’re taking off now! In a lower voice, barely more than a whisper, she added: “Love you.”
She saw Ron smile for a moment, but she stashed the mirror before she could hear his answer.
Then she stepped into the yard behind the pub, and pulled out her broom from her pocket. A tap with her wand unshrank it, and she straddled it. “Let’s go!”
Louise and Jeremy were already in the air, taking the lead. Hermione saw smoke rising from a burning building - not the twins’ shop, but close. A lot of smoke, actually - she couldn’t see the ground in the area. They wouldn’t be able to take advantage of their rifles’ range, she thought, unless they managed to clear the smoke.
But that would take too long with the spells she knew. The two former Hit-Wizards were already half-way to the landing zone. Too eager, she thought, especially Jeremy, who should still be resting. But they needed everyone.
She swerved to the side, giving the area where she could see spells flashing through the smoke a wider berth. They weren’t the only ones in the air, she noticed. An Auror was ahead of them, sending a spell at the ground. She hoped he could see his target, and wasn’t just casting blindly.
The man banked to the left, avoiding a green curse that shot up from the ground, and disappeared into the smoke. Then he reappeared - flailing on his broom, which was descending rapidly.
“The smoke’s enchanted!” Hermione yelled, watching the man crash into a roof. “Don’t touch it!”
Ahead of her, Louise and Jeremy were pulling away sharply, putting more distance between them and the smoke. It could be poison, she thought. Or maybe a cursed mist or fog - she had read about such spells, but usually they were used in traps.
In any case, they had no time to examine it. She pulled her mirror out again - she had to warn Sirius and Harry.
“...the smoke is a trap, don’t touch it!”
Harry Potter flinched, hearing Hermione’s voice from Sirius’s mirror. He hadn’t been planning to simply rush in on his Firebolt, straight at the Dark Lord, but he had kept it in mind as a last resort. And he had thought about using the smoke as cover…
“Don’t touch the smoke!” Sirius’s voice rang out over the Alley, thanks to an Amplifying Charm. Of course, Harry thought, Vivienne and her cousin would be flying!
They were running towards the twins’ shop, right behind Moody and Aberforth. Ahead of them, Harry saw flashes of spells coming from the roofs - the French were already engaging the Death Eaters. And the Dark Lord.
In front of them, Moody stopped at the last corner before the twins’ shop. “They’ve dug in!” he said, without looking around the corner - his enchanted eye could see through it, Harry knew - “and they’re covering the approaches!”
Harry saw a red-robed corpse on the ground, close to the corner, and nodded. They couldn’t get close enough. Not without cover - or a distraction. Or… he looked up, to the roof. They would provide some cover, and they could…
A gargling scream made him look at the next building, and he saw one of the Delacours stumble and slip on the shingles, sliding down the slope, then falling off. A Cushioning Charm cast by Sirius stopped him from crashing on the cobblestones, but the man kept flailing and thrashing around, then suddenly grew still.
The smoke was touching the roof above them, Harry realised. Before he could react, though, Aberforth raised his wand and a gust of wind shot up, pushing the billowing cloud back up.
“Can you get rid of it?” Moody asked.
“Would take too long,” the old wizard answered.
“Too dangerous to go over the roofs, then,” Moody said. For the first time since they had reached the corner, he turned his head to look at them. At Harry. “They’re covering the side-alleys too. The French have already lost half their number, and with the smoke, the muggleborns can’t shoot them from afar. This’ll be messy.”
“We can go through the buildings,” Sirius said.
“Three of them are burning,” Moody said, “and two more have collapsed. But it’s the best option.”
“He’ll be expecting that,” Aberforth said.
“We’ll go first,” Moody said, staring at the other wizard.
After a moment, Aberforth nodded.
A frontal assault was the worst way to attack an enemy position, Hermione Granger knew that. But between the deadly smoke and the burning buildings, the Resistance didn’t have any other option. And they couldn’t wait - the Order and, of course, the French were already fighting. And dying.
“Watch your fire - they are using children as human shields!” she said into her radio, sprinting after Louise and Jeremy, with Seamus close on her heels. She flicked her wand, raising walls and boulders in the street to provide them with cover.
Behind her, Tania started firing her machine gun from the first floor of a shop. Justin had entered the building across from her, but hadn’t reached a firing spot yet. John was crouching behind a low wall, providing covering fire. She couldn’t see Sally-Anne or Mary-Jane - they were preparing a safe spot to treat the wounded.
Rolling behind some conjured cover, a bit too close to a burning building for her comfort, she glanced up. If the smoke started to sink down, they’d have to react at once. She sent a gust of wind at it, just in case. “Keep casting at the smoke, to prevent it from setting down on us!” she said into the radio. One of the boulders she had conjured exploded, and she pressed herself into the ground when splinters rained down on her. Seamus grunted, next to her.
“Are you hurt?” she yelled.
She stood up and flicked her wand, raising more walls ahead of them. “Go!”
Seamus hadn’t waited for her signal and was already running. She followed him, raising another wall on the side - mostly as a distraction and to conceal their movements. It wouldn’t stand up to the Dark Lord’s spells for long.
And it didn’t. It started to explode behind her, the last parts blowing up while she slid behind the rubble from a collapsed house. A few yards away she saw the body of an Auror, chest torn open.
Louise and Jeremy were working their way even closer to the Death Eaters, through the rubble strewn around. Even from her spot, she could see three floating carpets full of terrified children. Some of them were bleeding, she realised.
She could see the positions of the Death Eaters as well - it looked like they were behind solid cover too. And smoke from burning houses obscured them - she couldn’t tell where that smoke ended and the deadly one started, though the Dark Lord wouldn’t use such a dangerous spell too close to his men, or to the hostages.
Another reason to get closer, she thought. Seamus stood up, firing a short burst. She leaned around the edge of their cover, trying to summon the closest flying carpet. It didn’t move towards her, though. Her Human-presence-revealing Charm showed her where people were hiding - but the presence of so many children made spotting the Death Eaters harder than usual. But there was a group of two people moving towards them. Death Eaters! She tapped her headset. “Two moving through the ruined house on the other side. Marking them for you.”
“Alright,” she heard Tania acknowledge while she switched to tracer bullets in her rifle. The markers were moving faster than she expected - disillusioned then. She waited until the first broke cover, then fired two bursts at it.
Tania and Justin immediately fired at the same location, a long burst from the machine gun tearing up the area. The marker dropped, and Hermione shifted her aim, firing two more bursts. Next to her, Seamus was firing as well, and under the combined weight of fire, the Death Eater’s Shield Charm shattered. The Disillusionment Charm followed when more bullets found their mark, revealing a wizard missing half his head.
The other marker was moving back, towards the Death Eaters’ position. He was running. “Marking the other,” Hermione announced on their channel, “he’s running!” She started to fire single shots, the tracer bullets following the running Death Eater.
Tania was firing as well, hosing down the area with long bursts, but the marker kept running - until right in front of him, a wall rose, courtesy of Louise. It didn’t last long, but long enough for Seamus and Tania to drop that Death Eater as well.
That meant the flank of the enemy was open now. With the Delacours keeping them busy, the Resistance could hit them hard. There was just one problem. She keyed her radio again.
“Louise, Jeremy - once you can see the hostages, start conjuring walls around them!”
Next to her, Seamus chuckled. “Then we can blow them up!”
She didn’t answer him. Instead she stood up and laid down some covering fire. Or tried to - a Cutting Curse almost took her head off before she could duck down again. “Too close,” she muttered.
But Louise and Jeremy were in a flanking position now. And Seamus was getting his bombs out.
“No bombs! Use grenades!” she told him.
Seamus shook his head. “We have to take that risk.”
She stared at him. Was he really willing to go that far? A second passed. Another. Then he cursed, and started to collect the bombs.
Hermione let out the breath she had been holding and stood up again to cast once more at the enemy.
“I barely see them long enough to shoot!” Justin’s voice sounded through the radio.
Hermione had expected that. She tried to clear the smoke with a gust of wind, but it barely moved the thick clouds. At least Louise and Jeremy were making headway with the walls around the children. Just a few more, and…
The rubble the two former Hit-wizards were moving through suddenly exploded, and both disappeared in a cloud of dust. Seamus cursed.
Hermione pointed her wand at the cloud. “Accio Louise’s uniform!”
“Accio Jeremy’s uniform!” Seamus was slower to react.
Two bodies flew towards them. “Catch them!” Hermione yelled, already casting to raise another wall, so they’d not share the fate of their friends.
Not a second too soon - another explosion made the ground shake, tearing through her obstacles as if they were made of cardboard. That had never happened before - it had to be the Dark Lord. “Voldemort’s engaging us!” she shouted, hoping Sirius or Harry were paying attention to the mirror.
“Jeremy’s dead!” Seamus yelled. “Louise’s badly wounded!”
“Sally-Anne, Louise needs help!” Hermione said, tapping her radio again. For a moment, she debated staying. If they managed to keep the Dark Lord busy, it would allow Harry and the others to get close. But the smoke was covering the entire area now, obscuring the street - not even tracer bullets would allow her to direct the fire from Tania and Justin - and more obstacles were growing from the ground. And she had to keep casting to prevent the smoke from reaching her - it was probably harmless, but they couldn’t risk being wrong. If Voldemort reached their position in the middle of this…
No, she thought - they’d die too quickly. It was better to make him chase them. “Fall back!” she shouted, levitating Louise and starting to run.
Seamus dropped a smoke grenade behind them, then sprinted after her. Behind them, their old position vanished in a green cloud - acid, she thought. Or poison. Or both. They were almost out of the ruins when she saw the body of the Auror she had noticed before standing up - despite his chest sporting a hole she could see through.
And it was charging her! She couldn’t use her wand without dropping Louise, not could she use her rifle. She fumbled for her pistol, but Seamus was quicker, firing several bursts from his rifle at the walking corpse.
The body shook under the impact of the bullets, but didn’t stop advancing.
“Use your wand!” Hermione yelled, backpedaling.
A Reductor Curse blew the thing’s head off, but it took two more to make it stop moving.
And Hermione had seen more corpses around.
“Zombies!” she heard Tania yell through the radio.
The Dark Lord Voldemort snarled, lowering his wand. The cowardly mudbloods had killed Rabastan and Yaxley, then ran from him! But he had paid them back. They had lost more people, and dealing with a few dozen animated corpses would shatter his enemies’ cohesion as they defended themselves against the walking dead. It wasn’t actually necromancy, but a mere charm, the results far from a true undead like an Inferius, but the mudbloods and fools opposing him wouldn’t know that.
Not until it was too late. He raised his wand, blowing up a roof nearby and sending another fool to their death. The mudbloods were running, their nerve lost when their muggle weapons had been rendered ineffective and their plan to save the hostages had been foiled. All they had managed to achieve was drawing him away from finishing the blood traitors. A meaningless delay, since they were trapped inside their shop. And the majority of the Ministry forces had been driven off or killed already. That left Dumbledore’s Order, and what was left of their brave but foolish French friends. His Death Eaters had taken losses too, and three were still tied up taking down the blood traitors’ wards, but that didn’t matter now - the remaining enemies wouldn’t be able to withstand a charge led by himself. He could feel Potter out there as well - close, even. Killing the Boy-Who-Lived at the same time as he shattered his enemies would make the day perfect.
“Ackerly! Rodolphus! Follow me!” he commanded, striding out from their position. It was time to end this battle - and this war.
Nott rushed after him, almost stumbling over some rubble left in the street, while Rodolphus showed the awareness of a true fighter, moving over the uneven ground as if it was a smooth street. He vanished the pitiful walls the fools had tried to raise around his hostages, and summoned one of the carpets.
Something moved in the ruins ahead, and he sent a Blasting Curse their way, then turned the dust thrown up by it into acid. A grey-robed Hit-Wizard stumbled out of it, screaming as the acid ate away at his skin. Rodolphus added to the man’s agony by hitting him with an Entrail-expelling Curse.
Voldemort frowned - without any enemy to frighten with it, such a display served no purpose. A Killing Curse would have been better. But he had to indulge his most loyal followers.
He spotted movement ahead, and his Human-presence-revealing Spell marked them. Were the fools actually attacking still? With just two of them? He smirked, covering the street ahead of the two enemies in a cloud of acidic poison that looked just like the smoke from the burning house next to it.
To his surprise, the cloud was blown away - towards him, even! - by a single spell. His eyes widened slightly. There were not many wizards skilled enough to do such a thing. Then he grinned. It looked like he’d be able to avenge another slight today!
As expected, it was Mad-Eye Moody who jumped out from the corner, sending a Killing Curse at Voldemort. No, at Nott. The fool had moved away, too far for the floating metal shields protecting Voldemort to intercept the curse. He fell, dead, with a surprised expression on his face.
Good riddance to the coward, Voldemort thought, returning fire with a few Killing Curses of his own. His enemy showed surprising agility for a cripple, moving far quicker than expected. Had he enhanced himself with spells or potions?
Rodolphus was moving to the side now, to catch the enemy in a crossfire, but a volley of curses from the corner drove him back - Aberforth Dumbledore had entered the fray.
Voldemort smiled. A flick of his wand started to draw the Cursed Cloud above them down towards the street. When Dumbledore’s brother began to counter that, Rodolphus started to press him hard. Which left Voldemort free to deal with Moody.
The old Auror was casting rapidly, Killing Curses mixed with Cutting and Piercing Curses. Efficient, but hardly surprising - but then, few could surprise a man who had delved further into the Dark Arts than anyone else, so it stood to reason that Moody wouldn’t try.
Voldemort’s defences and protections weathered the assault, if not without some effort, a number of his shields exploding as they intercepted the Killing Curses, his Shield Charm straining to handle the rest. But he was sending Killing Curses of his own at the Auror. They too were met with conjured obstacles. Voldemort frowned - it was rare to find an opponent able to match his speed at casting the Killing Curse. He raised his estimate of Moody accordingly. It wouldn’t save the Auror, of course - Voldemort had far more spells at his disposal than the Killing Curse, even though he liked its power and simplicity. And thanks to Barty Jr., he knew a lot about the Auror’s enchanted eye - and its weaknesses.
He ducked beneath a decidedly illegal curse - Moody was using more exotic spells now, too, he noticed - and swished his wand, then stabbed it at the Auror’s position. Mixed with three Fire-Dart Spells, a few charms greased the ground beneath his enemy, but without any effect - Moody showed no trouble in avoiding the darts, having enchanted his peg leg to avoid slipping - another piece of information Voldemort’s late follower had acquired a few years ago.
Having known all this, Voldemort had cast those spells to distract his enemy, and keep the man’s enchanted eye from noticing the other spell he had cast at the street. He smiled when the ground suddenly opened beneath the Auror, the stone and earth forming a sphere around his enemy. Too quickly to let the man react and escape, but not quick enough for Voldemort to miss with the Fiendfyre he sent into it right before it closed.
That left Dumbledore’s brother. Voldemort turned just in time to save Rodolphus from being overwhelmed.
Ron Weasley was staring at the smoke above Diagon Alley. He had heard Hermione’s warning - it was a trap. And he had seen an Auror fall from the sky after flying through it. They had to get rid of it, but he had seen how quickly the Marid he had released had been dealt with by the Dark Lord. A Djinn would come in very handy now. But he didn’t have another genie bottle.
“What are you doing, Ron? We need to kill those Death Eaters before they break down our wards!” Fred yelled at him.
“We need to deal with this smoke!” Ron yelled back. “Before it settles in the Alley and kills everyone.”
“The others are keeping it at bay with spells.”
They were - but every spell cast at the smoke was one spell less cast at the enemy. You couldn’t fight under such conditions. Ron ground his teeth. The trinkets he had received from Dumbledore were of no use here. And the pranking items wouldn’t help either. Unless… His eyes widened. He dug out the ‘Everlasting Evaporator’ from his enchanted pocket, then grabbed a bezoar from another pocket. “George! I need a mortar!”
“A mortar! Now!”
“The wards are about to fall, and you want a mortar?”
“Yes! Hurry up!”
His brother arrived, with a mortar in hand.
Ron grabbed it and put the bezoar inside, then started the mortar. “Come on, grind grind grind!” he mumbled.
“What are you planning?” Fred asked.
“Dealing with the smoke,” Ron said, stopping the mortar and pouring the dust into the Evaporator.
“The wards will fall any minute now! We have to get out!” George said.
“Not yet!” Ron started the Evaporator. Thick, brown smoke poured out of it. He cast a Doubling Charm on the smoke, and the shop rapidly started to fill with it.
“Ron! What did you do?” George yelled.
“Neutralising the smoke!” Ron yelled, before coughing. He picked the Evaporator up and pushed it outside.
“At least it’ll hide us from them once the wards fall,” Fred muttered, coughing. “Unless we suffocate in here.”
Ron was ignoring him, staring at the sky. The magically multiplying smoke was rising, and mixing with the other smoke. If he had guessed correctly… he conjured a small bird and sent it up. Right into the thickest smoke. It didn’t die.
He pulled out his mirror. “The smoke’s neutralised where it’s brown!” he yelled into it.
He was repeating himself when the shop suddenly shook violently. He knew what that meant - the wards had fallen. He turned around, and saw a wall of flames rush towards him.
Harry Potter saw Sirius suddenly stop, ducking into a broken door instead of continuing through the side alley.
“Ron said the smoke has been neutralised ‘where it’s brown’,” Sirius said.
Harry gasped. That meant… He stuck his hand into his pocket, feeling around for his shrunken Firebolt.
He met his godfather’s eyes. “It’s the best way. I can reach him in a few seconds.”
Sirius muttered a curse under his breath, but he was pulling his own broom out.
Harry opened his mouth to tell him not to follow him, but a glare from Sirius shut him up.
A few seconds later, they were in the air. The faint pain Harry had felt ever since arriving in the Alley grew stronger - Voldemort was close. He pushed his broom down, skimming the edge of the next roof, then shot across the Alley. Where was the Dark Lord?
A slew of curses missed him, and he banked, then corkscrewed. There were the Death Eaters, and there was… He gasped - the twins’ shop was on fire. Flames shot out of the windows. As he stared, the roof was blown off - from the inside - and three brooms shot out of the burning building, chased by a giant snake made of flames. Fiendfyre!
The three broom riders disappeared in the brown smoke while the snake broke apart into tendrils of fire.
“There’s the Dark Lord!” Sirius shouted, before Harry could change course.
He glanced down. There was Voldemort - looking at him. Harry snarled, and dived down.
The Dark Lord was casting rapidly, and Harry had to corkscrew and break off his dive to avoid the slew of curses flying at him. Even so, the curses came very close. He couldn’t reach him by flying straight at him, Harry knew - he would be too easy to hit that way. He had to approach from the side, while circling. Just like in the tournament with the dragon.
Only Voldemort could cast faster than the dragon had been able to breathe fire. And the Dark Lord had better aim as well. Harry had to use all his skill at flying to avoid getting killed - and was still driven away, rather than closing in.
Then Sirius dived at the Dark Lord, his wand spitting curses. That gave Harry an opening. He pulled his broom around and closed in again on the distracted enemy. Before he could finish his manoeuvre, though, a curse hit Sirius’s broom, sending him spinning away. Harry had to pull up again to avoid the next barrage of curses. He glanced around - he couldn’t spot Sirius. He hesitated. Should he press on, or go help his godfather?
He clenched his jaw and bent low over his broom. He had to get the Dark Lord.
That was Ron! Harry glanced over his shoulder and saw his friend approach, on his broom, wand out. Another Death Eater stepped up next to the Dark Lord, wand raised, but before he could cast, a spell hit him in the back and he crumpled. Was that Aberforth? Before Harry could take another look, the man vanished in a cloud of smoke when Voldemort unleashed more curses.
That was an opening! Harry banked left, approaching the Dark Lord at an angle, in a shrinking circle. Ron, however, flew straight, raining spells down on Voldemort. Distracting him further, Harry knew.
Harry rolled, narrowly avoiding a Killing Curse. He was almost close enough. He drew the Elder Wand as the ground suddenly rose, and rose, forming a wall. Harry pulled on his broom with all his strength, hampered by his grip on the wand, but he managed to swing around, enough to scrape along the wall, rather than crash into it.
Ron flew over it - but the Dark Lord must have been waiting for that - Harry’s friend flew straight into a curse. He screamed as he crashed.
But that curse had cost Voldemort. Harry was close enough now, and the Dark Lord was facing away from him. Voldemort was still turning towards him, his wand rising, when Harry pointed the Elder Wand at him, just a few yards away from crashing into him.
His scar flared up in sudden, excruciating pain, and time seemed to stop.
Harry found himself floating in empty space, the pain gone. There were spheres containing memories, but they were distant, their sounds barely audible.
He whirled around.
Voldemort was floating there, his inhuman face sneering at him. “What did you do? Did you try to read my mind?” The Dark Lord blinked. “No, that’s not it. You used the link between us. I see. Clever, boy. But not clever enough.”
Harry clenched his jaw, rage filling him. That monster had murdered his parents. Had hurt, possibly killed his godfather and his best friend, and so many others. He aimed his wand at the Dark Lord. He couldn’t cast spells here, but it would serve as a focus for his will. His rage.
Voldemort hissed, twitching, and floated back a foot, before steadying himself. “You think you can defeat me, in my own mind? You, a mere boy, not even out of school?” Voldemort laughed, raising his own wand. And Harry felt the pressure against his own mind. Like in the graveyard.
“I’ve beaten you before,” Harry spat back. “As a toddler. As a first year. As a second year. I almost beat you in my fourth year, too.” He had forced the Dark Lord’s spell back when they had been caught in that golden cage. He could do it again.
“You never beat me. Dumbledore and your parents protected you. But they are dead. As are your friends. They sacrificed themselves, so you could fail. All those deaths, all that suffering, for naught! Because of you!” He laughed again, then smiled. “You will die here, and then Britain will be mine.”
The pain grew stronger. Harry let out an involuntary hiss before rallying. He’d not let this monster defeat him! He’d crush him, and avenge everyone! Save everyone! And yet, little by little, he felt himself being pushed back. Felt the pain grow inside his head. Harry tried to focus his rage, but to no avail. He was driven back, beaten. He was about to die, he realised. Killed by Voldemort.
Voldemort was smiling now. “Who had this foolish idea? Did Dumbledore truly believe that a mere boy, without any experience in the Dark Arts, could be a match for me? Die!”
Harry heard someone groan, and realised it was himself. The pressure was growing even worse. His head felt as if a red-hot poker was being driven through it - through his scar. He thought of his friends, his family, and closed his eyes. He couldn’t beat the Dark Lord with rage. He should have known that. Had known it. But to see Sirius, and Ron, fall…
“Think of your loved ones, and their deaths! You’ll be joining them now!”
His head felt as if it was bursting. His heart was racing. His body was shaking. He remembered his parents dying, Sirius crashing, Ron screaming, Hermione… he blinked. He had felt like this before. At the Black Lake. In third year. He focused on that memory. On the memory inside the memory. The happiness he had felt then, and remembered. Love.
He opened his eyes, facing Voldemort. The pain was fading, his rage and frustration and fear receding. He saw a glimpse of surprise, of fear, in his enemy’s eyes, and smiled.
No stag appeared, not here. But Harry started to glow, glow so brightly that Voldemort had to shield his eyes with his free hand. The Dark Lord looked afraid, Harry realised. And he smiled again.
This time Voldemort was shaking, hissing, his smile gone, replaced by fear and hatred.
Harry’s pain was gone now. He focused on his enemy, and pushed. And Voldemort faltered.
“No! No!” The Dark Lord was stammering now, panting. Sweating.
Harry was still glowing, the light seemingly reaching out, traveling from his wand to Voldemort’s. Like in the graveyard, almost two years ago.
But unlike back then, Voldemort couldn’t flee. Couldn’t break the confrontation off. He would die here.
And that realisation was, Harry suddenly knew, too much for a man who had sacrificed everything to avoid death.
“No! No! NOOOOO!”
When the light reached Voldemort’s wand, it started to crumble, turning to ashes that faded as they fell. His hand followed, then his arm. Behind him, the memory spheres started to fade as well.
The Dark Lord kept screaming until his head disintegrated and Harry found himself alone.
Voldemort was gone.
Huh. That just happened.
... Wonder what the wait time is for moving in on your best friend's girlfriend after he heroically sacrifices himself to help kill a dark lord. I'm thinking a couple weeks? A month, tops.
"Now all you wannabe Bane Of Heroes, Dark Lords and Evil Empresses, what does this teach you?"
"Gloating is stupid. Rubbing the so called hero's face in his failures is idiotic. Savoring your imminent victory is foolishness of the highest order!"
"Kill the brat! As hard and fast as you can! Don't give the interfering ass time to think! Don't give the murderous little bastard time to find some infantile source of strength? Kill. Him. Immediately!"
"Want to see him realize the futility of opposing you? Save it for playtime with your concubines?"
"Want to get a speech off before crushing her like a cockroach? Don't and lie about it to your biographer."
"I hope you've paid attention to this lesson, because when life tests you on it, you either pass or die."
Not quite like the Bomber offensive against Germany, because the man on the street can and has been a casualty. We know Hermione tried to limit the deaths of the neutrals and children by attacking late. We know that the the poisoning of Knockturn Alley and the additional deaths were mostly due to a lack of competence. The public doesn't. So how does the Resistance look? Like people who would kill neutrals, innocents and children to get at their targets. Like people who would poison half a street while killing one man. So I would expect them to look bad to the "man on the street", pureblood and halfblood, because the "man on the street" knows about other "men on the street" who were poisoned or killed by the resistance.
That is one of the two reasons why I mentioned the propaganda value a clear set of rules of engagement and some form of code of military justice would provide. Because I cannot see that the resistance is not viewed, due to Knockturn Alley and Malfoy Manor, as being rather indiscriminate by the general population of purebloods and halfbloods, the people who make up the majority of the population.
Eagerly awaiting what you have planned, because I cannot personally see how the country will not end up being ruined.
From what you wrote I never got the impression that she's one to break agreements, so if it was agreed that the resistance members were going to get pardons for their actions I saw that as a done deal. Hermione, Sirius and Harry might not see her that way though, and I do believe that the pardon they asked for wasn't the one that would have been best for them long term.
The point is that she would see them as planning acts that would demand imprisonment or execution, the kind of things that could not possibly be justified even by the fact that the country was at war and struggling against a dangerous enemy.
And that is my point. Not Nazi Germany yet, as we see it in our heads when the term is used, and not on the path since the appeasement was abandonded.
And that's the thing, that wasn't what was said. “Although those who have followed orders in good faith will not have to fear much.” Not fear much. Meaning that there is still reason to fear, even if orders had been followed in good faith. And no guidelines, no nothing was given. That is... Bad.
Revenge is when you personally make somebody pay for the harm that they've done you or yours. Some people might try to hide it behind the term justice, but if you or yours were harmed it is personal, and that makes it revenge. It might be justified because the person's position, money or friends make it impossible to get justice from the government, it might be appropriate because you do not get excessive and only target those responsible, but it is personal. And here's something to think about, a what if. What if a mother goes to the Aurors, stating her child was killed by the poison cloud in Knockturn Alley and requesting Hermione's trial, would citing the Pardon be justice for her child's death? Not in my eyes. And if she poisoned Hermione, causing her death, what would it be called, justice or revenge? I believe such an action would be called revenge, despite being justified and appropriate.
Not according to Fred and George, the only sources (I think) we've had for this. If there were other discussions about it I can't recall them.
It might not be what you meant but what you said indicate that the old family purebloods were one class and the others the second class. Which made me think.
I am thinking about the fact that the one class appears to contain everything from what I would consider ruling class to middle class (perhaps even lower) while being organized along a clan/family structure. The other appears to contain everything from what I would consider ruling class to criminal class and doesn't appear to be organized. And they'd have to interact a lot, there in the middle. Something like that makes for interesting thinking. Like what the lower class parts of a family should be able to expect from higher up in the family. And what the family head would be able to expect. In fact, it seems almost feudal. Force magnifier as well. That's not even considering things like upward mobility.
Add a constant number of immigrants, a small size, the need to stay hidden and all the changes magic would bring to such a society and it is quite interesting. For instance, the ability to magically repair items, I did not think beforehand about how that would change the type of jobs available, the mass production of items like clothing just wouldn't work. And that has a knock on effect. Lots of things to think about.
This is actually quite different from a third world banana republic. Corrupt yes, but to have it be workable... Lots of things to think about. And how it can be made to work well...
Like I said previously, the enemy of my enemy isn't necessarily my friend, he is my enemy's enemy. Hating and opposing Hermione or the late (and unlamented by me) Dumbledore because of what they did to you and yours doesn't make you a Death Eater or a supporter of Death Eaters. It makes you somebody who hates and opposes Hermione or the late (and unlamented by me) Dumbledore. Being a Death Eater or a supporter of Death Eaters is what makes you a Death Eater or a supporter of Death Eaters.
And there is a number of reasons why somebody could have gone to Malfoy Manor, one which I think is stupid enough to deserve it (no, not the dumb blond), three which I think would make the person bad or evil and seven which I do not believe deserve death.
He or she is showing his or her conditional support should Voldemort win.
He or she is not actually a neutral but somebody who has already been swayed (or is looking for an excuse to be swayed) to Voldemort's side.
He or she wants to make it clear that if Voldemort wins he or she will accept it as business as usual.
He or she hates both Voldemort and Dumbledore and want to see if there is a possibility of somehow arranging for them to confront and hopefully kill each other.
He or she is not an adult and was ordered to come by a parent.
He or she is not too bright and thinks of it as just a ball.
He or she is concerned about his or her family, spouse and children, and wants to make it clear that so long as they aren't targeted he or she will stand aside. (This person for some reason, maybe good or maybe bad, doesn't believe that Dumbledore or the Ministry could or would protect his or her family.)
He or she is concerned about his or her workers and wants to make it clear that so long as they aren't targeted he or she will stand aside. (This person for some reason, maybe good or maybe bad, doesn't believe that Dumbledore or the Ministry could or would protect his or her workers.)
He or she is there to take a quiet look without drawing much attention so he or she can judge how much support Malfoy and Voldemort has among the neutrals and let Amelia know, either at Amelia's request or on his or her own initiative.
He or she is there to take a quiet look without drawing much attention so he or she can judge how much support Malfoy and Voldemort has among the neutrals and who is supporting Voldemort so he or she can decide how best to work against them politically.
And the last one, which was brought up. He or she judge that with returning from the dead Voldemort has proven that he is greater than Dumbledore and is now showing Voldemort his or her belly.
So stating that every person who went is automatically a suck up to the KKK... Well, you're the author, you can say it. But it makes the story shallower.
As to the cost? I've always seen the cost as being the suffering and death of those who are not involved, whether a child losing a parent, somebody losing a friend, a parent losing a child, family members gone, loved ones dead, livelihoods ruined, the loss of a loved home, the loss of innocence and the hate created. (Yes, I believe that hating, really hating is suffering.) And I believe that Hermione, unlike Harry, Ron or Sirius is smart enough to to realize that if an acquaintance turns her back on her.
Lastly, I mentioned these as possible changes because you've previously stated that you were going to make at least one change before posting it for the final time. The story is very good, no doubt about it, I will argue against anybody who says differently. However sometimes it appears as if the effects of certain actions or events just suddenly stop, when it could or even should have a more widespread effect. Adding a sentence about Hufflepuf being split and a paragraph about Hermione not meeting her acquaintance would show the bombing of Malfoy Manor as affecting more people than just Draco, Pansy, Astoria, Daphne and Tracy. Noting that more than just Slytherins left Hogwarts... Actually, that would look very bad, and bring up a number of questions about Hogwarts.
If considered in a serious story it has to be very different because of the possibilities, some very nasty, some very good, that magic make available. Ignoring those possibilities leave huge holes. Which is why I'll always say there should be a proper class for muggleborn about pureblood culture, both that of their own country and an overview of other countries.
This was not gloating. This was an attempt at psychological warfare aimed at demoralising Harry - something quite useful when you're locked in a willpower duel inside your mind.
I think you really don't get that the half-bloods are not purebloods, and are not stupid. They know they are not purebloods, and that absent muggleborns, they'd be the lowest of the low. They all have either muggle or muggleborn relatives. And not all of them are willing to cut those relatives off just to suck up to the purebloods. Their views would be more like those of the French who became collateral damage in WW2 when the allies attacked. Best to imagine half-bloods as people of mixed race descent, either in the Deep South 1860 to 1940, or in South Africa, Apartheid era. So, they might see the Resistance as too ruthless or uncaring - but they'll compare them to the Ministry, who wanted to persecute their families.
Well, it's mostly a question of how much injustice and bigotry will the Resistance and the Order accept, in order to not keep on fighting. And of how much power the Old Families will be willing to lose in order to not risk getting massacred, French Revolution style, in case they lose a war that results from not giving in. Basically: How tired are the different sides of the war? Just how much do they want to have peace? Enough to tolerate uncouth mudbloods in power? Enough to leave some bigoted assholes in charge?
But, to be honest: The current Wizarding Britain is a ruined country. It's corrupt, bigoted, and has no concept of human rights.
Oh, yes. But for example, she'd argue that with Voldemort dead and his Death Eaters gone, the deal was done, and now the Resistance would have to obey the law.
As I said, Amelia already sees the mere existence of the Resistance as such a crime. Incidentally, she considers the Order illegal as well. And Amelia has a rather big problem with "justified by war" for any crime.
A country that is acting like Nazi Germany in the 1930s will and should be considered like Nazi Germany. Especially if you're among those treated like the Jews back then.
Yes, there is a reason to fear. They were still supporting an evil system willing to sacrifice the rights of part of the population to avoid a war. It would be bad if they had nothing to worry. Because such a thing cannot be allowed to be repeated. And for that, people have to realise that it was unjust and bad - and evil.
Objectively, the whole war is the fault of the Ministry and the Death Eaters. Now, people will not see it the same way. And many will blame Hermione for doing what she had to to win this war. That doesn't make them right. And That woman poisoning Hermione would neither be justified nor would such an action be appropriate. She would be an either unwitting or uncaring supporter of the Death Eaters and the evil system in place.
They're not exactly unbiased. Of course people who do not want to join the Old families will claim they don't care about their customs. But other poor purebloods who have the opportunity to marry up? You can bet that a number of them would have assimilated rapidly.
You are mixing things up. The Old Families are the rich upper class - the aristocracy. They do not contain a "criminal class". The Death Eaters will contain a number of poor purebloods, most of them useful fools fighting in order to have a chance to raise in status, and a few who will actually raise in status, should they win. Also, if you're middle class, aka "poor", you're not Old Family. The Old Families are the rich upper class. Lose your money/influence/mansion, and you'll not be an Old Family anymore - they'll cut you out. You can compensate for some, of course. The Blacks could have lost quite a lot of money and land, as long as they kept their curses sharp, so to speak, and had the minimum to keep up.
If you're a poor relative to an Old Family, you're not a member of an Old Family. I think you still don't get just how tiny the Old Families actually are, when things come down to it. It's really best to consider them an aristocracy where, if you are not rich enough to maintain the trappings of your stature, you're kicked out. The head of the Old Family controls the money, and through it, the rest of the family. Cousin (twice removed) Elsbeth Runcorn might be a member of the family by blood, and even consider herself one, but unless she's invited to the ball the Head is throwing, or presented there, no one of the other families will consider her truly Old Family.
If one side is fighting the Nazis, and you fight that side, you're helping the Nazis. If fighting them is more important than fighting Nazis, you've some really sick priorities.
Lots of reasons, but each and everyone of them should have known that if you visit a Death Eater ball, you take a risk. And if that means you die, you're at fault. We'll have to agree to disagree here.
And yes, there will be some who share your view - but then, that view won't be popular outside Death Eater and Old Family circles. Because you know - each and everyone one there was an Old Family member in good standing. And trust me, not many of the peasants, having finally seen a hope to change the system, will show much sympathy for the aristoccrats.
Effectively, they add legitimacy to the KKK through their presence. I don't see how it makes the story shallower - it's not as if the characters follow my moral views. I abhor the death penalty, for example, and most characters will ask for it for the Death Eaters.
And she's smart enough to realise that the acquaintance would have betrayed her anyway. Those who choose family over justice are enemies of any modern civilisation since ultimately, they oppose the rule of law.
I'm not quite certain what you mean by "adding that Huffelpuff was split". From Chapter 6:
But ultimately, nothing much came from that. Compared to the actual war, that was a side-show at best. Now, the different sides will have to sort out what kind of country they want, and what kind of country they can have. And yes, Hermione will have to deal with people fearing and hating her. But, as I said - they are wrong. Just as Draco and Daphne were wrong.
How many such classes do we have in the real world? Yes, such a class would - probably - be useful, but you can adapt to a culture without a class. Not to mention that it's also prone to abuse if a teacher is biased.
Just imagine "pureblood culture" taught by Narcissa Malfoy, or by Molly Weasley. One will try to justify an evil system, spread bigoted values, and try to instill a sense of inferiority among muggleborns. All under the guise of teaching them about pureblood culture. The other will try to teach the kids how to deal with magic, but might lack the understanding needed to know what they start out with. Ideally, it'd be someone raised in both worlds, but then they'd be likely a half-blood, and probably biased as well.