Ashes of Chaos Chapter 39
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Harry Potter and the Ashes of Chaos
Year 2: The Sacrificial Slytherin
Chapter 22: TBD
December 21, 1992
With a blur of bluish light, the extravagant entrance hall of Greengrass Manor lit up for a fraction of a second as the light coalesced into a vibrant, magical tornado that dissipated as quickly as it had arrived. In its place was a girl, slim and tall for her age, with soft facial features, sapphire blue eyes and honey blonde hair.
Knowing that her mother would ask about it, Daphne reflected on her past number of months at Hogwarts. It didn’t take long for her to reach the sudden realization that when comparing how she felt about this semester to how she felt about others in the past, she noticed she’d never experienced what anybody would call a normal semester.
Perhaps her first, but even that was up for debate. Her best friend had almost been expelled. Sure, Slytherin schemes happened every now and then, but that one had been quite extreme, even for the notorious house of cunning. The next semester had been anything but normal, seeing as how it had ended in a mystery she had still yet to unravel. It wasn’t as if she had tried very hard to do so, but that was beside the point. She knew Harry well enough to know that if he hadn’t yet offered up the information, asking about it would be fruitless.
When thinking about it further, even with those odd occurrences in mind, she thought that this last semester might have been the most outlandish one she had yet endured. Supposedly, a mystical chamber housing a magical monster had been opened. That was debatable, but what was less so were the disappearances of several Hogwarts students. It said a lot about the corrupt, backward nature of the wizarding world that neither the Ministry nor the Wizengamot had intervened. She knew Hogwarts’ charter prevented many of their would-be interventions, but surely they could do something if sufficiently motivated.
Of course, sufficient motivation would probably only arise if an heir or heiress to an important family found themselves the next on the mysterious assailant’s hit list. Seeing as this was presumably the Heir of Slytherin intent on purging the school of the “unworthy”, Daphne didn’t think this occurrence to be at all likely. Thus far, all that had happened had been the petrification of a cat, and the disappearance of a muggleborn and two twins who were widely vilified as being from a notorious family of blood traitors.
Not exactly anything for the corrupt body that was the Wizengamot to pitch a fit over. Still, she knew her parents would ask about it. She sincerely hoped they didn’t honestly expect answers. She knew about as much as they did. Well… aside from the fact that one of her best friends was suspected of playing a part in said attack. Then again,she supposed they might well know that too, thanks to the luridly written articles published in the Daily Prophet. That was troubling on a personal level, but not exactly a groundbreaking revelation the likes of which would satisfy her parents.
Startled, Daphne looked towards the source of the voice. Astoria was walking towards her. She had grown significantly in the past few months while Daphne had been at Hogwarts. Throughout her life thus far, Astoria had tracked about two or three inches shorter than Daphne when comparing them at the same age. It seemed as if that gap may have closed a bit as of late, for it seemed as if her growth had become exponential.
Perhaps not just physically, either. Astoria didn’t fling herself at Daphne as she had last June. She definitely appeared happy to see her, and the sisters did partake in a rather joyful embrace, but Astoria’s movements were far more measured than they had been in the past. Daphne wondered if part of this was because her family had started training her in Occlumency since September.
“I assume Mother is waiting in the sitting room?”
To her surprise, Astoria shook her head. “She’s upstairs getting ready. We’re going to Weitts Manor tonight for a late dinner. Lord Weitts is going to be in Britain until the new year. They’re… going to discuss plans for next summer.” Her sister’s voice sounded a bit faint at the end and Daphne could not help but feel a tug on the strings of her heart. If she were Astoria, she would be equally apprehensive given her position.
She just hoped that at the end of the undertaking, Astoria would not only be spared from the rather morbid fate that had been viewed as inevitable for many years, but that she would actually be healthy and able to live her life as one of her station was supposed to.
“It’s going to work out, Astoria,” said Daphne, rubbing her sister’s back soothingly. “They’ve been planning this for years. They wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t sure, and there’s nobody better to be carrying it out.”
Astoria centred herself with a deep, nervous breath. “I know, it’s just… it’s scary. Especially when nobody has ever tried anything like this before.”
“I know. Trust me, I do. We’re all worried, but we’ve been worried for years. There might be a bit of risk involved, but we have to try something. I couldn’t live with myself if we didn’t, and neither could Mother or Father.”
Astoria nodded meekly and Daphne sighed deeply. “Well, I should probably go and clean up before we have to be at Weitts Manor.” Daphne also added “prepare” to her to-do list. If they would be at Weitts Manor, that just meant more sets of eyes. Particularly in the presence of Lord Giaus Weitts, on top of that. The adults would inevitably press the younger witches as to the happenings the past number of months at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so Daphne needed to ready herself for the occasion.
Meanwhile, back at Hogwarts, in the out-of-order bathroom on the second floor…
By the time Charlus finished explaining how his brother had exposed him to the Dark Arts and how his godfather had explained exactly how that had led to improper instruction which, in turn, had led to Charlus’s outrageous outburst at the duelling club meeting, Ron and Hermione were practically speechless. By the time he had finished explaining how, even after this had been brought up to Dumbledore, Harry had gotten off completely scot-free, they were shocked, livid, and resolute.
“There’s only one thing I don’t understand,” Hermione asked nervously. “Why did you wait until now to bring this up if it all happened months ago?”
Charlus stiffened. “I… I didn’t want to admit that I’d been looking into the Dark Arts. He… he made them sound so tempting. I couldn’t help myself.” He hung his head in shame.
“Not your fault, mate,” Ron assured him. “He tricked you. That’s what Slytherins are good at.” His best friend dawned a rather out-of-character expression, one that seemed far too vicious for his young, otherwise innocent face. “Bet he won’t like it as much when we trick him back and get him expelled like he should be.”
“I agree,” Hermione seconded. “This just means that it’s even more important the Polyjuice plan goes off well. We can’t have somebody that clever catching wind of what we’re doing. And he’s clearly dangerous in more ways than we even realized.”
Charlus nodded stoically, a hard look in his hazel eyes. ““We won’t fail, Hermione. I’ll make sure of that.”
At the same moment, in the Headmaster’s office…
Albus Dumbledore sat behind his oak polished desk, tapping his long fingers anxiously upon its well-varnished surface. It had been a long four days ever since the conclusion of the Hogwarts Duelling Club’s first meeting. Not only had Chaos Magic raged in the centre of the school, but the political fallout had been more chaotic than the turbulent magic that had swirled malevolently through the hall. The destruction that had taken place on that night had manifested itself in a magical phenomenon. As stressful as it had been in the moment, no true long-term damage had been done.
Aside from the damage done to Charlus Potter’s reputation. The damage done there would likely prove itself to be longer lasting and harder to reverse. But Dumbledore knew he wasn’t the Heir of Slytherin. As long as they came out on the favourable side of that situation, his reputation would inevitably be salvaged.
The events of the next day were not as easily repaired.
According to Charlus, his brother was deeply involved in the Dark Arts. Involved enough to encourage Charlus himself to follow him down said path, at the very least. His stories had been rock-solid. Dumbledore hadn’t seen any gaps when Charlus had told him, and it lined up disturbingly well with the ever-mounting evidence pointing to Harry Potter being the Heir of Slytherin.
But the plot had thickened.
James had intervened and effectively negated Albus’s ability to order a search of the Potter Heir’s things. It wasn’t as if he was just going to expel him on principle. It would depend on what the search turned up. At least this way, they would have conclusively known one way or the other where Harry Potter stood regarding the ever-present conflict between the light and the dark.
Most disturbingly still was that James Potter had gone out of his way to lie, just to get his son out of harm’s way.
That did not sit well with Albus.
James never lied to him. If he was choosing to do so now, he had a very good reason. He suspected that it had something to do with Lord Potter’s desire to ingratiate himself to his eldest son, hopefully re-integrating the boy back into the Potter family in the process. Dumbledore knew this to be a fruitless pursuit. He’d known ever since observing Harry Potter at the gala this past summer that such a thing wouldn’t be possible anymore. At least, not without forced intervention.
He suspected that there was more to James’s decision. Perhaps he had learned something that Albus himself wasn’t aware of. A detail that caused forming a positive relationship with his son and heir to quickly rise in his list of priorities.
He just wondered what that thing could have been.
James had been researching the Potter family’s lineage but as he had said when bursting into his office, it had turned up empty.
Was it as simple as that? James thought Harry innocent because the Potters had no known blood connection to Slytherin?
Albus wished it was that simple. Perhaps it was. He wasn’t certain that wasn’t the case, but he more than had his doubts.
He was at least certain that the Chamber of Secrets had indeed been opened, just as it had fifty years ago. He suspected the culprit was the same, in one capacity or another. The problem was finding out supposed capacity, and he could only think of one way that could have been accomplished.
Well, two ways, depending on how certain magics had reacted on Halloween night of 1981. One of the twin’s presences was accounted for that night, however, whereas the other wasn’t. The most recent attack was also troublingly close to being directly connected to Harry Potter.
And the knowledge of the Dark Arts…
Before he could finish that train of thought, he sensed a presence nearing his office door. “Enter,” he called. The door opened, and a tall man in black robes stepped inside, looking as impassive as ever. “Ah yes, Severus. I have been expecting a visit from you for some time now.”
“Four days, I would suspect,” the man said dryly, earning a rather knowing smile in return from the ancient Headmaster. Snape took his seat across from Dumbledore and studied him impassively. Dumbledore felt no brush of Legilimency; he knew Severus would never use the skill on him, but it did feel as if the man were trying to bore through his eyes and look into his inner soul.
After making his Potions Master wait for a time, Dumbledore thought it best to begin the meeting in earnest. “Well, which question would you like to lead with, Severus?”
“What is it that happened when the Potter twins duelled? I have never seen such an occurrence before.”
“I would not have expected you to,” Dumbledore said a bit darkly. “What you and the rest of the school witnessed is called Priori Incantatem. In some ways, it is similar to the reverse spell effect, hence the similarities in name, but it did not progress far enough for said similarities to show.”
“Because the connection was broken?”
“Indeed. If it had been allowed to continue, one of the twin’s wands would have been forced to display the last number of spells it had cast. Unlike Priori Incantato, this is not limited. The spells would have kept flowing until the connection was broken. Breaking the connection would have been easy at that point.” Dumbledore frowned. “How did you break the connection prematurely, Severus. I can think of only a few spells that would have done it, and I am sure you used none of them.”
“A spell of my own creation,” Snape said curtly. “It is designed to combat inherently magical things, so it had no troubles in severing the very magic itself.”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “Quite ingenious, a spell with those capabilities.” When all Dumbledore received in return was a curt nod, he decided to push the conversation along. “Without getting into detail, the magic that manifested itself in Priori Incantatem very strongly wanted a resolution. It was intent on forcing the Potter twins to decide a true victor in the least destructive, yet most decisive way possible. When you robbed it of that opportunity, it took issue.”
Snape looked pensive. “You speak of the magic as if it was alive.”
“Alive is a rather abstract term that we humans have personalized a great deal over the millennia. It was certainly sentient. Some say that magic is a living, breathing force. While that is debatable, its sentience is not. I am unsure of what the magic would have coalesced into had I not intervened, but I am sure that in part, it would have sought to force the Potter twins to continue their confrontation.”
“I have still never seen magic like this before.”
“Nor will you again, I hope. You saw this form of magic in its most innocent form. It is far more heinous when controlled by those who would wish to abuse it, few as those sorcerers may be throughout history. It is the most evil of magics, Severus. I do not wish to speak on it any further.”
Snape raised an eyebrow. “Can you at least tell me why the effect manifested in the first place? Is it a case of the brothers being twins?”
“It is the wands, I believe. Any myths of the occurrence have been linked to twin cores.”
If possible, Snape’s face was suddenly even more unreadable. “The Potters have twin cores?”
“It certainly appears so, yes. I admit I didn’t know of that until now. I am aware of Charlus’s wand composition, but I cannot say the same for his brother. I suppose now, I do at least know the identity of the core.”
“Phoenix tail feather.”
Snape wasn’t nearly as surprised as he probably should have been by that. By far the rarest core on the planet. There were very few known phoenixes. Even fewer who were willing to part with their tail feathers. And good luck taking one from an unwilling bird. Yet Harry Potter, from all he had seen, was a once in a generation prodigy. His brother most certainly wasn’t, but he was talented in the wanded subjects, at least. He was also the defeater of the Dark Lady, so that surely counted for something.
“And the magic you used to disperse the threat?”
Dumbledore’s eyes darkened. “I do not wish to speak of it,” he said firmly. “It is magic of a similar kind to Priori Incantatem, magic that I do not dare speak the name of. Suffice to say it is a far more sinister incarnation, one that I am ashamed to know of at all.”
Snape could sense he would get nothing more out of Dumbledore. “And Charlus Potter is a Parselmouth?”
“It appears that way, yes.”
“Any awe-inspiring insights on how that could have happened? As far as I know, the Potters share no relation to Slytherin.”
“Not that we know of, at least,” Dumbledore mused, stroking his beard thoughtfully. That really was the question, wasn’t it? “I have several theories on the matter, one, in particular, that is fairly dominant, but we will have to see how events unfold in the future if I am to be sure.”
Snape nodded. “Does it mean the other Potter can also speak to snakes?”
“Potentially, but not necessarily. My lead theory certainly wouldn’t necessitate his brother having the ability.” He paused. “Seeing how many of the unsavoury things happening around the castle as of late seem to point towards him, it is still certainly a possibility.”
“You actually think him the Heir of Slytherin?”
Dumbledore chuckled darkly. “Harry Potter? No, I do not. Not in the slightest, as a matter of fact.”
Snape raised an eyebrow. “Yet you speak of the boy with such suspicion?”
“If you would have asked me whether or not I thought young Harry could be doing the bidding of the Heir of Slytherin, I would have been far less certain of my answer.”
“But he would need to be a Parselmouth?”
Dumbledore seemed to think about that. “Perhaps,” he muttered, sounding more as if he were talking to himself than Snape. The Potions Master scowled. Getting a straight answer out of Albus Dumbledore was like trying to steal eggs from the den of a dragon. Completely and utterly pointless.
“So you truly think Competent Potter is in one way or another responsible for the incidents?”
Dumbledore frowned. “I do wish you would not distinguish the twins in such a childish manner, Severus.”
Snape’s eyes narrowed. “I hardly think you are in a position to speak on that matter after the events of last school year, Dumbledore.”
Reluctantly, Dumbledore nodded. “True, true. I am not certain Harry is responsible, though I do very much wish James would have granted me the privilege to run a search of the boy’s things. I believe it would have given us at least a small degree of clarity on the matter.” Dumbledore pierced Snape with his blue-eyed stare. “I would like you to watch him for me.”
Snape scoffed. “The boy is not related to the Heir of Slytherin incident,” he said bluntly.
Dumbledore shrugged. “Perhaps not, but my request does not change.”
“Very well,” Snape agreed with a fair bit of exasperation.
“If nothing else. I certainly think there is something to the claims Charlus made to me last Friday.”
Snape had been informed of these already, and he once more doubted their validity. “I will watch him.”
Dumbledore smiled. “Thank you, Severus. For that, I am most appreciative.”
An hour or so later, at Weitts Manor…
Giaus Weitts looked tiredly up from his open tome that was resting on his lap, and smiled softly at the sight of his youngest granddaughter, a warm expression on her face as she walked towards him. Giaus swept gracefully to his feet, allowing the girl a brief hug before taking his seat once more. He moved with grace and precision in spite of his age. Not quickly. He had lost much of his natural athleticism years ago, but his movements weren’t exactly limited either. Nor was his mind. His hair may have whitened over time, but his eyes still held just as much sharp intelligence within them as they always had.
“Greetings, Charlotte. How has Hogwarts treated you thus far?”
Charlotte beamed. “It’s been great, Grandfather!”
He nodded with satisfaction. “As long as you are enjoying it and it is furthering you as a sorceress.”
His own daughter, Adriana, had gone to Durmstrang, just as he himself had before her. Yet Adriana and his son-in-law had opted to send their two daughters to Hogwarts. He hadn’t objected, even though he abhorred the idea of them being under Albus Dumbledore’s crooked nose.
Then again, he knew things about Dumbledore that others didn’t. His opinion of the man wasn’t unbiased. He was well and completely cognizant of that fact.
“And Grace,” he said when the family’s heiress entered the room. Seeing as he was the lord, many would assume Adriana would be the heiress. On most occasions, she would have been. She was technically the Lady Weitts at the moment though, since Giaus himself had never married, and Adriana’s mother hadn’t stuck around for very long. Hence, Grace was the heiress, even if she likely wouldn’t take up the helm of the family for many years to come.
Sigmund was the Regent, and he handled most things about business, including sitting on their Wizengamot seat. Giaus could have done it, but he just couldn’t be bothered anymore. He had given up on it years ago. Since the death of the man whom he considered a surrogate son, he had lost all interest in dealing within the borders of Magical Britain.
“Hello, Grandfather,” Grace greeted respectfully. “How have you been?”
“The same as ever,” Lord Weitts said with a slight curve of his lips. “Little has changed for me over the year I have been away. That is why I am far more interested in the two of you.” As the Weitts family waited for the Greengrass’s arrival, Grace and Charlotte regaled their grandfather with stories from their semester at Hogwarts. Edited accounts, mind you.
Charlotte made no mention of the incident involving Mulciber, Jugson, an illegal potion and a cursed dagger; and Grace made no mention of teaching a prodigious second-year student how to fight and defend his mind. Harry did come up in Charlotte’s tales, though.
“What do you think of him, my dear?” Giaus asked Charlotte, peering at her with genuine curiosity.
“I like him,” she said at once. “He’s probably my best friend outside of Daphne. I spend a lot of time with Laine Slater as well, but I get on more naturally with Harry.”
“What is he like?”
She thought about that. “A bit quiet until you get to know him, but he’s brilliant. I think he might actually be considered a genius. Once you actually get close to him, he’s witty, helpful, and extremely protective of his friends.”
Giaus nodded pensively. “All exceptional qualities.”
They also spoke briefly on the Chamber of Secrets. “I am afraid I can offer no insight,” Giaus told his youngest granddaughter, who was looking at him with unmasked curiosity. “I have read the same myths about Slytherin that you have heard of, but nothing beyond them.”
“Harry was found at the scene of one of the attacks, was he not?” Sigmund asked.
“Harry’s not the Heir of Slytherin,” Charlotte said vehemently.
“Oh, I’m sure of that,” Adriana answered with a small smile. “I certainly didn’t peg him as the type to go around attacking muggleborns. He seemed far too low key. What I think your father meant was whether he had any insight into the matter?”
Charlotte shook her head. “Most of the school- idiots, the lot of them- think he’s guilty, but he couldn’t seem to care any less. He’s pretty much avoided the whole thing.”
The small talk continued for some time before the Greengrass family entered the manor and the dinner itself began in earnest. All three elder members of the Weitts family inquired after each of the Greengrasses. Daphne and Astoria spent much of their time talking to Charlotte, while Grace divided her time between the two conversations, with about two-thirds of it being diverted to the adults.
When the meal concluded, the adults all stood to exit the room. They had important business to discuss. Charlotte didn’t know exactly what it was, but she knew it pertained to Astoria in one way or another. Sitting closest to the man, Charlotte practically leapt out of her chair to pull out her grandfather’s and ease the man’s rise.
He smiled down at her fondly. “Your kindness is appreciated, if not completely necessary. I am not yet broken, simply a bit battered by time.”
“Grandfather,” Charlotte asked, her eyes flitting from the old man in front of her to the retreating figures of the other adults.
“Gilderoy Lockhart said to pass along his greetings and… to thank him for your last conversation. He said it helped to save his life.”
Charlotte had never seen anybody look as old as her grandfather did in the seconds after she relayed Lockhart’s message. Giaus closed his eyes and didn’t speak for nearly twenty seconds. When he finally did, his voice was heavy, tired and significant.
“Pass along my formal thanks to your professor. Tell him that I am very proud of what he has made of himself, and tell him that I know his father would be even more so if he were here to see him now.”
Charlotte nodded. “I’m sorry if it brought up any bad memories-“
“It is nothing for you to concern yourself over. The memories still hurt very much, but it was a long time ago now. Just do pay the man the respect he deserves. His father was one of the greatest men I ever knew.”
“Yes, Grandfather.” Charlotte seemed to hesitate. “Do you think he knows Legilimency, Grandfather?”
Giaus looked a bit taken aback by that question. “Why is it you ask?”
“He…” she hesitated.
“I am not going to be upset by any reply, Charlotte. I am simply curious.”
“He thinks Harry is the Heir of Slytherin. Harry is worried he might try and breach his mind.”
“Ah,” Giaus paused to think about that. “I think it possible, but not likely. I am sure he knows of it, just as his father did, but like his father, I doubt he ever pursued learning the art itself.” Charlotte nodded. “Has your prodigious friend not yet began instruction in Occlumency?”
“He has,” Charlotte said pensively. “It’s hard to tell for sure, but I think he’s improving fast. I don’t know how though. I have no idea who’s teaching him.”
Giaus nodded. “Well, you can set his mind at ease, for I very much doubt the son of Sigmund Lockhart will be making attempts to breach his mind. Now, I must be off, my dear. We have very sensitive business to discuss.”
“Is-is whatever you’re planning dangerous? Is Astoria going to be okay?”
Giaus smiled softly at his granddaughter. “It is dangerous in the sense that it is unheard of, but don’t worry yourself. Your friend will be perfectly safe. I may have lost some things with age, but my mastery over the beautiful art of magic remains as strong as ever. I shall personally be here to ensure nothing goes wrong.”
Charlotte nodded as the man swept from the room. Mastery of magic was one of the things her family sought above all others. And with the past the Weitts family had, they had mastered more of it than perhaps any other family in Britain.
After all, that was to be expected from a family whose motto roughly translated to “Sorceries be Power”.
December 22, 1992
The Headmaster’s Office
This really hadn’t been Harry’s week. There had been the duelling club fiasco, to start, not to mention the attempted frame job by his absolute dickhead of a brother. On top of that, this was about to be the second time in a week that he was sat face to face with Albus Dumbledore. In Harry’s opinion, that alone rendered the entire week a failure in his books.
Thankfully, he had learned to suppress his emotions before that first meeting. Not only would he have inevitably lost his cool and made a complete arse of himself, but he had been fantasizing an awful lot since last June about strangling Dumbledore with his own beard. As beautiful as those images were to play on repeat in his mind, he doubted attempting to make them a reality would end well at all.
As the gargoyle stepped aside and Harry ascended the stairs leading to Dumbledore’s office, all he wanted was balance. Whatever force ruled over his misfortune had decided he had to meet with the old codger twice in a week. He just hoped that in return, that same force allowed this meeting to be short and far less dramatic than the last.
He scowled in disdain as Dumbledore called for him to enter before he had even touched the doorknob and stepped inside. As he eyed the man neutrally, sitting serenely behind his ancient oak desk, Harry wondered whether the Headmaster even realized that oddly ominous habit of his was at all rude.
“Ah, yes, Harry. Do have a seat, please. I will try not to take up too much of your time, but I have one or two things I would like to cover.”
Harry just hoped it had nothing to do with the Chamber of Secrets. That was never going to be a pleasant conversation. Not that it would be much better if what Dumbledore wanted to discuss pertained to the accusations levelled upon him by his brother. If it wouldn’t have made him look even more guilty, Harry would have already decimated the tosser in some out of the way corridor. It would serve him right.
That entire matter was still concerning. Who had actually managed to convince Charlus to lie about him and how had they done it? His brother was a lot of things. Even though Harry knew Charlus thought he was guilty, he didn’t think his twin would frame him for something else. Pursue a manner in which he could expose Harry if he was the true culprit? Absolutely. But for him to just outright accuse Harry was something that both twins knew was complete and utter bollocks. If Charlus was anything, it was honourable and noble. Neither of those traits lined up well with framing your brother for crimes that he never committed.
“You don’t trust me.” It wasn’t a question. Dumbledore spoke in a soft voice, but it was very clear it was being modulated.
“Not even a little bit.” Harry saw no reason to lie. The man clearly knew it. He was also pretty sure the Headmaster had seen straight through his father’s lies in defence of him. If it was out in the open already, there was no need to make it a secret.
Dumbledore nodded. “I suppose I cannot blame you, given your circumstances.”
Harry snorted. “By circumstances, you mean how you shipped me off to people who hated me not once, but twice.”
Dumbledore frowned. “A bit crude, but not entirely inaccurate, I suppose.”
“Exactly accurate, Headmaster.”
Dumbledore seemed to ignore that last sentence altogether, which Harry thought to be a wise decision on his part. “Given your feelings towards me, I think it best if I reciprocate your openness with honesty of my own. I frankly don’t trust you either, Harry. There is too much about you that screams danger. You are connected to too many suspicious events which tie into even more dastardly schemes.”
“My father cleared me of the last thing you accused me of, sir.”
“Legally, he did do just that. You will forgive me if I do not entirely buy into what your father was saying. Between the two of us, I have become exceptionally good at reading people and situations.”
“Can I speak openly, Headmaster? Can I point out one of the reasons why I don’t like nor trust you other than the obvious?” Dumbledore actually looked intrigued and nodded. “You are ridiculously overconfident. You think you’re more clever than you actually are. I’m not saying you’re not a genius, but being a genius and being clever isn’t the same thing. I’m guessing you thought my relatives weren’t going to be as bad as they were. You were so sure of this, yet it backfired in your face. Last year, I’m sure you thought there was no way Voldemort would ever get the stone, but she almost did and would have if I hadn’t shown up.
“And now you think I’m the Heir of Slytherin. Or you think I’m connected to it somehow. Not only are you wrong on that, but what makes it even worse is that the reason you think this is because of what my brother told you. Which is nothing but lies, all of it. You’ve misread my brother, then you’ve taken that misinformation and misread another situation.”
Dumbledore actually seemed to ponder this. “You make several valid points,” the old man conceded. “I believe the last two to be half-truths at best, outright lies at worst, but I will take your initial points into consideration in the future.” Harry knew he wouldn’t. He almost said so. He and the Headmaster seemed to be engaged in a no-holds-barred conversation in which nothing was off-limits. But he decided not to. He had better things to do than partaking in verbal sparring with the chief warlock, and he really wanted to be out of this office as soon as possible.
“That’s your opinion, Headmaster. It’s wrong, but it’s what you think. Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so when this is all over.” Dumbledore didn’t rise to his challenge. “Was there anything else you wanted, sir?”
“I wanted to warn you, Harry. If it is you who is opening the Chamber of Secrets, I advise you to stop now, even if I see that admitting to your potential crimes is clearly something you would be unwilling to do. If you are caught later, after openly denying the fact, the results will not be favourable. And rest assured, the perpetrator will be apprehended.”
Harry dipped his head in acknowledgement. “If I ever work out how to open the Chamber of Secrets, I’ll keep that in mind.” He paused. “I did have something to tell you while I was here, sir.”
“I’ll be using my rights as the heir to an Ancient and Most Noble House to leave the castle at around noon. From there, I’ll be heading into Hogsmeade, and flooing to Diagon Alley. I’ll return some time later tonight.”
Despite his obvious fondness for lemon drops, Dumbledore suddenly looked as if he had swallowed a particularly sour one. He was clearly displeased. If he suspected Harry as being behind the disappearances, he could see why. Not that Harry particularly cared what Dumbledore thought. He had ruined his life and hadn’t exactly shown a great deal of remorse for it during this conversation.
For a brief moment, Harry debated throwing a one-liner in his face about the existence of the prophecy; the one that Voldemort had referred to down in the catacombs at the end of last year. As satisfying as it would doubtlessly be to see the shocked look of incredulity that would inevitably blossom on the headmaster’s aged face, he thought that to be a very dangerous course of action that almost certainly wasn’t worth the potential repercussions.
“Very well.” Dumbledore did a stellar job of hiding how annoyed the fact obviously made him, especially when his next words were hardly a choice. It wasn’t as if he could refuse Harry. “You are aware, of course, that a return to the castle is mandatory by curfew?”
“Of course, Headmaster.”
Dumbledore nodded with a frown. “I worry for you, Harry. I do not approve of the path I believe you to be going down. You are a magical talent the likes of which I have not seen in many years. Please, I beg of you not to squander that beautiful talent by going down a dark path like others who have come before you.”
Harry met Dumbledore stare with his own, hard gaze, making one last point before promptly but politely making his exit. “There is no such thing as light and dark, sir. Only power, and the intent with which it is wielded.”
He had cut the part about good and evil because at the moment, he doubted it would have gone over at all well.
The last thing Harry saw before leaving the office was Dumbledore’s mask crack as a modicum of concern made itself obvious on his otherwise impassive visage. It obviously put him off greatly that Harry was paraphrasing, if not completely quoting Emeric the Evil.
Later that day, at the Greengrass’s law firm…
Harry didn’t trust Dumbledore. Not even a little bit. He could have done the normal thing and walked down to Hogsmeade, but paranoia had insisted he act with more caution. So instead, he’d snuck out of the school using the passage that was concealed by the humped back, one-eyed witch on the third floor. After sneaking into the cellar of Honeydukes, it had been all too easy to slide into the Three Broomsticks, pay a measly sum of gold, and vanish into the green flames, only to appear thirty or so seconds later in the Leaky Cauldron. The hardest thing about the journey had been finding the law firm, but it hadn’t taken him terribly long.
The lobby was as well-furnished as one would expect when dealing with a place owned by one of the richest pureblood families in the country. The receptionist took Harry’s name, checked her register, and confirmed that he did indeed have an appointment booked with his solicitor. Once this had been established, he was led down several hallways and into yet another well-furnished room. This one was obviously an office, and Harry took a comfortable seat on one side of a dark, oak desk.
On the other side of said desk sat the woman whom he assumed to be his solicitor. She was slim and had a pale complexion along with sharp features, dark eyes and jet black hair that fell to around her shoulder blades. When he took his seat, she studied him rather intently for some time before speaking. “I’ll admit, I don’t usually get clients this young.”
Harry shrugged. “First time for everything, I suppose.”
“I was surprised when I was signed with you this summer. I was wondering when I might see you. Regardless of your age, I am contractually obligated to assist you.” She leaned forward, obviously interested in what the young, estranged Potter Heir could possibly ask for. “So, Heir Potter, what is it I can do for you today?”
Harry reached into a pocket of the travelling cloak he’d worn to the meeting and withdrew a carrying case which he’d ordered by owl.
He placed the plain black case down on Veronica Tate’s desk, prompting the woman in question to look at him inquisitively. “I’m assuming whatever is in this has something to do with why you’re here?”
“I’m actually here for a couple of things, but this has to do with one of them, yes.” Tate gestured as if asking permission to open the box and Harry nodded, prompting her to do just that.
When it had been opened, her eyes narrowed. “I’m going to assume this is a special dagger of some sort?”
“You can’t reveal anything I tell you, right? Solicitor’s oath of confidentiality and all that.”
“Even if it’s potentially incriminating?” This seemed to pique Tate’s interest, but her only response was a curt nod. “I’m not positive, but I think this dagger was a Mulciber family heirloom of some sort. Let’s just say I got into a fight with the family’s heir and I ended up with the dagger.” Tate indicated she was following along, so Harry continued. “I have a few questions. First of all, is this legal for me to have? Like… is it illegal that I took it from the Mulciber family? Am I obligated to give it back to them?”
“You almost definitely don’t have any obligation to give it back to them. I have a feeling this dagger isn’t legal to own in general, so they wouldn’t have disclosed it to the Ministry. As long as it’s not covered under a family charter, you should have no troubles because of that. If it were covered under a charter, the family would have almost certainly released a public statement by now. One that demanded the artifact be returned to them.”
He hadn’t been sure about the specifics, let alone the parts about family charters, but he had been reasonably sure from his own research on the topic that he was well within his right to forcibly take the dagger. It could technically be classified as theft, but that charge would fly straight out the window as soon as the offences of those whom he stole from came to light, so he was sure it was a charge that would never be levelled against him.
“Okay then, do you have any idea how much this might be worth?”
Contrary to many people put in a similar position, Tate didn’t even bat an eye. Apparently, being asked complex legal questions by a twelve-year-old, followed by an expressed desire to learn the estimated value of a dark artifact by the same twelve-year-old wasn’t enough to faze her.
“I have no idea. That would depend on a lot of things. I would need to have the blade formally examined. Both to figure out what enchantments might be on it, plus to learn as much as possible about its history.” She leaned forward once more. “Is this something you’d like to have done?”
“How much is that going to cost me?” Harry asked carefully.
Tate’s lips twitched as if she were fighting back a smile. “It’s not a cheap process, but it won’t cost you anything.”
He blinked. “What?”
“In the contract you signed, it expressly stated that the Greengrass family were to handle any and all legal fees associated to you.”
Clearly, Harry needed to get better at reading contracts. All he had taken from the offending documentation was that his base legal fees were covered. This made the whole process much easier, especially when considering his other, and altogether more pressing reason for being here.
“Have that done then, please. Can you owl me as soon as it’s done? I‘d like to talk on it more once we have actual information.” She nodded and this time, it was his turn to lean forward with a gleam in his eye as they came to the other business that had brought him here. The business that he had planned to attend to for months now.
That night, at Malfoy Manor…
Needless to say, the altogether more pressing business had been more complicated as well. As in — a lot more complicated. The two of them had spent several hours discussing the intricacies and complexities of Harry’s presented situation and the scenarios that were likely to arise from his desire. Tate had thought his plan viable with some alterations in the end, so it had been a fruitful day, all in all.
Thus far, at least. He still had one major bit of business to attend to that day. Standing in an out of the way alley off of Diagon, Harry eyed the eagle feather quill in his hand. He had never used a portkey before, even though he did of course know what they were. This would be his first time experiencing them, and he very much hoped not to be reduced to a vomiting mess upon his arrival for a meeting that he was quite certain would be very serious in tone.
Hoping for the best, Harry glanced down at the portkey and repeated the activation phrase, one he had needed to practice several times in the past few days to ensure he could pronounce clearly and consistently.
“Sanctimonia Vincet Semper.”
Harry did indeed find his first portkey experience to be less than pleasant. Mercifully, it wasn’t so disconcerting that he vomited on landing in an extremely ostentatious entrance hall that he knew belonged to Malfoy Manor.
The hall had a much darker look than Weitts Manor, which was well lit by a fair share of magical lighting and its white marble aesthetic. The floor in Malfoy Manor, at least in this room, was done in a dark, rich-looking wood. Soft, pale drapings obscured what Harry pictured to be large, glass windows on either side of a somewhat circular staircase that converged in the centre of a balcony on the next floor, which overlooked the entrance hall itself. The pale, cream curtains cast a soft, yet ominous light across the otherwise lowly lit hall. In the relative darkness, the staircase’s railings, which were made of what appeared to be pure gold, glinted sinisterly, if such a thing was at all possible for such rich materials.
Beneath the staircase, there was a life-sized portrait depicting the current three members of the Malfoy family, noses upturned, heads held high and surrounded by a gilded, ornate frame.
With a pop, the most nervous-looking house-elf Harry had ever seen popped into being in front of him. It took him a moment to realize why the creature looked as if it would turn and bolt at any moment. He recognized its tennis ball-like eyes and his own set widened.
Dobby belonged to the Malfoys.
“M-Master Lucius is waiting for Harry Potter up in his study, sir.” It was very clear that Dobby was terrified. Terrified that Harry would expose him to Lucius there and then.
The thing was, Dobby didn’t think like a Slytherin.
The benefits of exposing him were negligible. Harry very much doubted the elf would be making any more attempts at “keeping him safe” any time soon. Plus, what would he really gain from exposing Dobby’s misdoings? The elf would be punished, he was sure, but Harry couldn’t honestly say he cared much one way or the other. A lesser mind may have exposed him in hopes of getting information out of the interaction, but Harry didn’t doubt that any valuable information the elf possessed would be getting no further than the ear of its master.
All of that was true, but it wasn’t the primary reason Harry had no intention of exposing the creature. That reason was the fact that obviously, Dobby overheard rather sensitive, potentially important information. He was more likely to gain said information if Dobby slipped up around him in the future. He may not have thought any more interventions from the elf were likely, but he still thought their probability to be higher than that of Lucius Malfoy spilling sensitive information.
There would be no world in which that happened. At least none where the Malfoy patriarch did so voluntarily.
Harry followed the house-elf up to the second floor, noticing that the railings of the balcony were also made of gold. It was perhaps the most Malfoy thing he had ever seen. It was needless, over the top, and blatantly extravagant to the point of being openly braggadocious.
If their heir was anything to go by, it seemed a fairly apt assessment of the family as a whole.
Harry just had to keep in mind that tonight, he wasn’t dealing with Draco Malfoy. He was dealing with his father: a political mastermind, economic titan and prominent figure,who was once suspected of being a Death Eater.
In short, a much more dangerous man than his son would likely ever be.
Harry was admitted into the room and took a seat across from Lord Malfoy. He had to admit, as dangerous as this man may have been, it felt rather nice sitting across from an older man, with a well-polished desk in between the two of them and not wanting to strangle the person on the other side. Personally, he thought this said a lot about Albus Dumbledore. He was the supposed Lord of the Light, yet Harry was far less wary of one of the Conservative co-leaders, despite the faction’s more than shady reputation.
“Heir Potter.” Lucius’s voice might as well have been silk for how soft and smooth it was. Every syllable was spoken with well-practiced precision.
“Lord Malfoy. Thank you for welcoming me into your home.”
“I think it was inevitable that it was going to happen at some point, or so I would like to think. Certain matters simply… expedited the process, and here we are. I am happy to have you, Heir Potter, and I do hope we can reach an agreement of sorts.”
That sounded fairly ominous, but Harry chose not to comment. Instead, he gazed back at Lucius Malfoy with a completely blank expression. “What would you like to discuss, sir?”
Lucius leant back in his chair. “To put it bluntly, Heir Potter, you are the future of your family. For now, the Potters rest firmly in the Liberal camp, as they have for generations. Due to your… unique position, I see a possibility of that not being the case when you one day take your lordship. That may be many years away, but a skillful politician is always looking to expand their circle and form new, strong alliances.”
Harry tilted his head. “You’re trying to recruit me?”
Lucius smiled thinly. “Certainly not directly. It is far too early for that, I am afraid. So much is still unknown about you. To openly begin recruiting you would be unwise with so much mystery surrounding you. Indirectly, I suppose you could say I am doing something of the sort.” He suddenly looked more business-like, and Harry knew that whatever was to come next was the real reason he’d been invited to Malfoy Manor.
“Just as you will one day ascend to the helm of your family, the same could be said for Draco.” Lucius seemed to watch him carefully, but Harry gave away nothing by offering a visible reaction. If this perturbed Lucius, he didn’t show it. “As much as the time for that may still be very far away, foundations are important. It is essential to build them early. As I have looked deeper and deeper into the events at Hogwarts since you and my son started attending the September before last, I’ve concluded that your relationship has been far more… antagonistic than I would have liked.”
Harry might have worried over such an ominous statement had they not been in Malfoy’s home. It was true he had the position of power, but to actually do anything morally questionable would be very foolish on his part. Most of all because currently, Blaise had the letter Lord Malfoy had sent to him inviting Harry to the manor. His solicitor also knew he was here. He had toyed with the idea of requesting that Lord Malfoy permit her to join him, but he had eventually decided against it. For one thing, he highly doubted the man would have accepted that condition. For another, it really wasn’t that difficult to just agree to nothing today, go see his solicitor before the end of the break and provide her with his memories of the occasion. The Greengrass law firm was armed with a pensieve, after all.
When it became clear that the man sat in front of him was waiting for a reply, Harry gave the most neutral one he could come up with on the spot. “We’ve had our disagreements, yes.”
Lucius smiled thinly once more. “There’s no need to worry, Heir Potter. I have spoken to Draco at length over the past twenty-four or so hours about your relationship. I’ve concluded that it is, for the most part, my son’s foolishness which has sparked the animosity between you.”
This surprised Harry, and that evidently showed, for Lucius suddenly looked particularly amused. “Oh, you technically acted first by maneuvering him into the duel against your twin. However, I can admire the cunning. My son blatantly implied how unimportant he thought you were at the welcoming feast. It was an obvious attempt to pollute any political foundations you might have tried to build, and it was about as subtle as a bludgeoning hex.”
Lucius drummed his fingers rhythmically upon his desk’s surface. “Then, the situation was escalated by Draco’s attempt at framing your friend, Miss Davis. By this point, I would say the two of you were even, but my son sought to take it a step further with the dragon fiasco. I was more than a little bit cross to pay your father that gold, but in truth, it was my son’s ineptitude that annoyed me most.
“This year, he has repeatedly failed to get the hints you have sent his way, hints which are less subtle than even his initial ploy against you.” He fixed Harry with a cold, grey-eyed stare. “I do not support your attack of my son in the common room. If it happens again, I will be much more interested in taking action. However, he was forewarned and suffered the consequences.
“All of this is to say that your relationship has been less than ideal. As standing Lord of House Malfoy, the duty of repairing the damage done by my heir falls upon my shoulders. That is what I called this meeting for, Heir Potter. I would like to mend the damage my heir has done in potentially securing an alliance much further down the road. I am unsure of exactly how to do this, but it is something I would like to do as soon as possible. If you have any ideas on how this might be accomplished, I’m all ears. If you need to think about the matter and get back to me at a later date, that is also perfectly acceptable.”
Whatever Harry had expected, this wasn’t it.
Much like he had done with Tate earlier that day, he leaned forwards. He wouldn’t be agreeing to everything, and there were compensations he was sure Tate could help him acquire, but he had some ideas to get things started with.
Later that night, at the Royal London Hospital…
It was late and all was quiet in one of London’s premier hospitals. The patients were asleep, much of the staff was at home, and those still present were quietly going about their obliged business.
In one, specific hallway somewhere within the hospital in question, nobody was present at all, and there was no sound whatsoever that would be discernible to the human ears.
That wasn’t to say there was none at all.
If somebody had superhuman hearing, they might have been able to pick up the sound of a small, grey rodent moving quickly down the hall, not stopping until it reached a specific door. The rat just stood there and surveyed the door, sniffing frantically all the while. If one was watching, they might think that the rat in question was actually doing reconnaissance, like they were some well-disguised spy from some overdramatized movie. Of course, a person would only think this if they were extremely short on common sense. Rat’s couldn’t do the same level of reconnaissance as a human.
Not normal rats, anyway.
This rat was far from normal, as was made obvious when it suddenly wasn’t a rat at all. In its place stood a short man with watery blue eyes and sharp features who withdrew a long stick of wood from the pocket of what appeared to be robes and pointed it at the door he now stood before.
The lock clicked and Peter Pettigrew pushed the door open, stepping inside quietly , wand at the ready.
There was nobody inside.
Nobody alive, anyway.
There was a large cooler that dominated most of the room. One that was clearly locked from the outside. Peter knew that without magic, he would have no chance of ever unlocking it unless he had a very specific key.
Thankfully, he was not without magic.
The cooler unlocked with as much ease as the door. Peter locked and warded the latter with several waves of his wand before making his way towards the former. He knew, from the intel he’d gathered, that there was a body he was very interested in examining locked within that cooler.
The body of one Vernon Dursley.
Pettigrew very much suspected foul play, but there was only one way to find out.
Sometime later, he was back outside the hospital, standing on the streets of London as he pondered what to do next.
It had indeed been the Killing Curse that had slain the eldest Dursley. That much had been obvious. Despite doing his utmost to gather clues, Peter hadn’t managed to gain any idea as to who might have been responsible for killing the man.
Which meant Peter had some loose ends which very badly needed to be tied up.
It would be utterly disastrous if certain individuals who were obviously interested in the situation realized that, many years earlier, Peter had placed several compulsions on the two elder Dursleys. Compulsions which would lead them to be particularly cruel to their then one-year-old nephew.
Yes, that would be very bad indeed. Peter couldn’t allow that possibility to come to fruition. With a thoughtful expression and the swishing of a cloak, Peter Pettigrew vanished into the night.
The question has come up before as to why the Dursleys were so needlessly cruel to Harry. There is your answer.
As for why Dumbledore didn’t find this, the Memory Charm is a wonderful thing. If you remember correctly, he didn’t dig as deep as he could have into the Dursleys’ minds. He specified that he could have broken the memory charms placed on them by the Greengrasses, but he chose not to because the process would be… unpleasant. The same is true of Peter’s Memory Charm. The difference is that Dumbledore never even noticed because he was so focused on the most recent one. If he had broken that, he would have noticed the second one immediately.
Just thought I would clarify that here since there really wasn’t a good way of doing it in this chapter, and I know it would have come up in the reviews otherwise.
Please read and review.
Thank you to my lovely Discord Editors Ashabel, Athena Hope, (and others) for their contributions/ this week!
You all might have realized there is no chapter title. Since I couldn’t come up with a decent one and this worked so well last time, I will let all of you suggest titles. PLEASE PING ME IN THE SUGGESTIONS SO THAT I SEE THEM! In a week or so, I will open a poll with some of the best ones.
Thanks in advance for the help,
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