A/N: Dumbledore, I don't see him as dark, more like an arrogant SOB who feels that whatever he does is done for the greater good. He TRUELY believes that Harry is the only way to handle Riddle and if that means removing his parents, sticking him with the Dursleys, keeping him ignorant of certain aspects of life, then that is fine, after all he is going to die. I find that people who are true believers aka fanatics can be ten times more scary than any garden variety murderer.
There was complete silence in the ballroom as Harry absorbed that news, looking at his godson, Sirius was once again reminded that for all of Harry's maturity and power, he was after all still thirteen years old. Pulling him close, he softly whispered that they would find a way. That he wasn't going to allow James and Lily to remain in the portrait.
When the teenager buried his head into Sirius' shoulder and began to shake from his tears, he could only hold him, feeling complete helpless even as he buried his own rage at what was going around the room, seeing the icy rage in Malfoy's eyes, he nodded at the other wizard, well aware that this was even more proof that his dislike of Dumbledore had long been justified.
Finding Narcissa reaching for her husband and holding on tight, had Sirius' rage almost exploding as he debated telling them exactly what he had learned that evening. Albus had been unaware of just how much he had revealed to him earlier that evening.
Talking to his insane and now ex-cousin had him wishing with all of his might that he had never fallen for the man's so called Great Good spiel all those years ago. His eyes went to Andromeda who as a Black sister knew exactly how dark their family was and that the spell needed was more than likely in the books in the family library.
His only pleasure in the entire situation was watching as his young cousin comforted Remus whose head was buried in her shoulders as his shoulders trembled from where he was clearly distraught.
The black eyes of Severus Snape were calling out for revenge, but even a hot head like Sirius knew that this would have to be dealt with in a delicate manner. They had no idea where or how to retrieve the bodies of James and Lily. If Dumbledore got the least hint of what was going on, there would a chance he could prevent the very slim chance of giving Harry back his parents.
When he felt Harry pull back a bit, then the teenager turn to Hermione and pull her close, Sirius stepped back to allow them to comfort each other. When he felt the soft touch of Minerva McGonagall, he looked at his former head of house and asked "Why would he do this?"
"I truly don't know." She answered looking sick to her stomach. When Severus looked over, she asked "Do you think this is about the prophecy told by Trewlawny?"
"I was thinking that at first, but I never thought of Albus as someone who believed in predicting the future." Severus said. He had already confessed his part in that debacle but he hated the thought of it having anything to do with the torture that Lily and even James had to have lived with for the last twelve and a half years. "I think we are missing some piece of the puzzle."
"I think we need to plan this out." Croaker announced. When he had everyone's attention, he looked at the teenage Potter and said "I think we can all agree that getting the Potters out of this portal is the most important piece, but there is more to consider."
"Like what?" Draco rudely asked.
"The records according to Ragnok here state that there are Potter portraits, not one painting." Croaker said. He saw the boy at the center of the mess stop and then call out for his house elf.
A bit of questioning later had Dobby telling everyone that he had seen two paintings and neither were the one propped up against the wall. A discussion with the Malfoy elves had the whole room confused except for the unspeakable who grinned, Severus snapped "What has you so happy?"
"I think I know the ritual used to get them into the portal and the counter course, however we do still need the blood of their enemy spilled to free them, I am rather afraid..."
"But is it Voldemort's blood or the headmasters?" Hermione asked. When the room went still she said "I just can't help thinking that he is equally an enemy of the Potters if he confined them to this painting/portal while they were still alive. Plus, I think that it is important to figure out exactly why he did this."
"She is correct, but how?"
"We grab him, tie him up and pour veritiaserum down his throat until he confesses the truth." Harry said struggling with his pain as he fought hard against his anger.
"I only wish it were that easy but Albus Dumbledore is immune to the truth potion, Harry." Madam Bones said.
"Maybe Snape could invent something new that would work." Harry said looking at his other godfather.
"While I appreciate your faith, unfortunately all truth potions have the same base ingredients." Severus replied. "Otherwise, I would agree."
"Maybe..." Hermione went silent then bit her lip before tilting her head sideways and then hesitated yet again, this time drawing Harry's attention. When she noticed him looking she said "How about dosing him with nitrous oxide?"
"What is it and why?" Amelia asked only for Ted Tonks to stand and then turn to the young girl he had just met. He had known she was a muggleborn, but that someone so young knew of this drug had gotten his attention.
"It might work, but how are we going to get a hold of nitrous oxide and I am sure we have to be careful about administering it. So you not only need access to the drugs but someone who can make sure we don't overdose him." Not that Ted felt too guilty about doing so, but he really didn't want to end up in the middle of a murder investigation.
"What we need is a dental surgeon." Hermione replied with a wicked grin on her face. "What we need is one that would love a chance to take down the Headmaster a peg or two and I just happen to know two that would gladly volunteer."
"Hermione?" Harry had begun to get it and was fast losing his doom and gloom expression. "Would they?"
"Hey, Draco, when you visited my parents at the office, did they show you the machine with the mask and tell you never to touch it." She inquired.
"No, but then after that first day when your mom treated her patient without potions and he got her all bloody while screaming in pain, I sort of stayed as far away from that room as possible." He said shuddering in memory. Seeing his father looking at him, he said "Let's just say that when we got back to the house, I picked up my room and it sort of cured me of the need to rebel."
When his father's eyebrows rose, Draco tried to explain but Ted Tonks simply chuckled and told the Granger girl that they now had to figure out a way to get the headmaster to her parent's house.
"Oh, that won't be a problem. It's keeping the rest of the guests at Harry's party from noticing my father kidnapping him that will be." she blithely stated. When they all looked her way she rolled her eyes and said "Does any here really think that he doesn't already know about the party and have plans to crash it?"
"Okay, questioning Albus is taken care of. We just need to decide who from our side will do the questioning." Croaker replied.
"It will be me." Boudecia announced. "No one will miss me from the party, I would ask Severus to help, but I am afraid that in your present mood you just might end him."
"No, not until Lily is returned, Potter too." Severus said glaring at the painting of the couple. "Still, this only gets us the answers of verifying the portraits are connected to the portal, nothing more. We still need a plan to get them out of the portal and to do that we need the blood of Voldemort."
This had everyone quiet down before Harry asked. "Is that soul anchor the only way to get the wraith back to a body."
"Wraith?" Croaker asked looking at the teenager.
"Well, we haven't talked about it, but Voldemort is still in wraith form. At least I think he is." Harry replied.
"I think someone needs to tell me exactly what went on at that school during your first year and in the chamber, Mr. Potter." Croaker announced. "I would prefer to see it, if you don't mind using a pensive."
Harry agreed, then asked "How will this help my parents?"
"I need to see what this wraith looks like, how he exited his victim and anything else I can see. If we are going to succeed it might just be something simple that helps."
"Are we really considering bringing Voldemort back to life?" Augusta Longbottom asked sounding uneasy.
"No, we are talking about bringing back Tom Riddle." Minerva said as she looked at Boudecia then asked. "I think that the binding spell would work. We would have to get Narcissa up to speed to perform it as I am not so sure we can trust Griselda not to go to Albus."
"We need six, Minerva." Amelia said. "Myself, you, Boudacia, Augusta, and Narcissa only make five."
The older woman nodded and then said "I was counting Hermione."
"Is her magic up to this?" Amelia said. "Not withstanding what she did in my office, she is still growing."
"Hermione turns fifteen in September and spent most of her third year in possession of a time turner that allowed her to attend all of her classes." Minerva said. "Harry is the strongest in their class, but she is well above average. Neville and Draco are strong as well but we both know that girls mature faster than boys when it comes to their magical core."
Amelia looked at the new Vesta and then at her mentor and saw that Narcissa was nodding in agreement. "I am in agreement, but only if we wait until it is closer to her birthday."
"It will have to be." Croaker said. When they looked his way he stated "I am going to try and find it, but there is a ritual that requires the bone of the father, blood of the enemy and flesh of the servant to regain a body. If you witches are going to do what I think, it should be the night we perform the ritual."
"What do we do with him afterwards?" Lucius inquired. "We can't just let him walk around; stripped of magic or not."
"The ritual will only let him live mere minutes." Croaker said in rather flat tone. "It requires magic to keep the conscripted body alive. Once he is stripped of his magic, he will fall apart and the nice part, the wraith will cease to exist."
"I suggest that everyone take an oath of silence before we leave here tonight." The Goblin announced. He held up his wand and quickly offered his silence and then looking at the others announced "Mr. Potter, you should be aware, the contents of those baskets, need to stay in place. I know that it is going to be a struggle when you are close to them to reach out and touch what is there, but whatever you do, don't remove anything in them."
Harry nodded feeling numb as he looked at the man he had just realized was the Goblin's ruler. As the others began to leave after making similar vows, in the end it was only his godfathers, the Malfoys and Hermione in the room with him.
Turning to Remus, Harry attempted a wan smile but his lips refused to cooperate. "I just...I hate him so much. It hurts not to go to wherever he is and just hurt him as badly as he has hurt my family."
"I know." Remus said touching his chest. "He took my pack away, Your parents, and then you. He cost me my best friend and so much more. The inner wolf wants to rip his throat out, but for now, it is more important to concentrate on returning your parents to you."
His right hand entwined with Hermione's, Harry used his left to reach across to Remus and then he said "I told Narcissa that we were a rather oddly structured family but a family none the less and I meant it. I want my parents back but I won't let my behavior place anyone else at risk. I can't."
"None of us will." Sirius said resting his hand on the back of Harry's neck. "Now, you aren't going to like what I am going to say next, but you will obey me. I want you to take a dreamless sleep potion and go to bed."
When Harry started to protest, Sirius pulled him close and said "We will put the portrait in your room so that you may keep it close, but Harry, you will be of no help if you are not well rested. Please, for your parents, listen to me."
Harry had already capitulated and was reaching for the potion Snape was offering. He gave the older wizard a weird look, a bit discombobulated that he had just happened to have the potion in his robes. "What about Hermione?"
"I am going to take her home and speak to her parents." Remus stated only for Narcissa to say that it would be best if she did it. "We need to speak to them about our plan."
"Yes, but we aren't going to spring this on them at almost ten o'clock, Remus." She replied. "Now, I suggest that all of us head up to bed early. The teens have Neville's party tomorrow and I am sure that there are many moving parts to this plan that have to be attended to very quickly."
With that, she exited the ballroom with Hermione who had given Harry a quick hug and promised to look through her books to see what she could find. He returned the hug and when she had left, took the potion and went to his room where he found the portrait already leaning against the nearby wall thanks to the house elves.
Sitting on the floor in front of it, he said "Hi Mom, Dad. I guess you know that I am your son. I just wanted to let you know, we will find a way to get you out of that portal."
Standing, he said "I promised to take the potions, so I will talk to you in the morning. I can't wait until we can actually speak back and forth, I really have a ton of questions."
Harry changed into his pajama shorts, took the potion and settled into his bed, his eyes on the painting of his parents, unaware that they had heard every single word he had said and were crying behind the paint.
Draco went to his room, stunned at all they had learned. He had looked at what was in the baskets, clothes, a wand in each and to his surprise some rings and a book of photos. His father had placed a protective ward over it then sent him to bed.
He hesitated outside of Harry's room, but hearing him talking to his parents, he continued down the opposite corridor to his own and couldn't help thinking of all the times he had envied Harry for something. Now that he actually knew the other boy, he realized that he wouldn't want Harry's life for anything.
Settling into bed, he found he was restless and then looking around to make sure no one saw, he climbed out of bed, went to the back of his closet and pulled out his by now lumpy and bedraggled favorite stuffed dragon.
Sliding back into bed, he tucked Zeus in beside him and wrapping his arms around it, fell asleep, grateful for the comfort he still found from him.
In the ballroom, Severus looked at Sirius and said "You were in a rage even before you entered the room."
Sirius sat down on the conjured chair and leaning forward buried his head between his legs to regain control. Once he had it, he told them his secret.
"Since escaping Azkaban, I have had severe back pains. Back issues that only ease when I am Padfoot." He said. "While hiding in the Azores, I found a way to ease them, using a muggle technique since at the time I couldn't use magical means. When I was freed, I went to St. Mungos. The healer I spoke to said that at most they could give me pain potions but that there was nothing she could do for me."
"I asked for a second opinion, there was a muggleborn doctor who caught me as I was leaving after another healer, also a pureblood said that I would just have to take the potions. She and her husband are in private practice and combine muggle and magical treatments. She is also something called a chiropractor, they use massage to treat spinal issues connected to our brain reactors whatever that means, but what is most important is that it helps, immensely."
When no one said anything, Sirius continued to speak. "I see her three times a week and when she isn't available her husband works to realign my back. It has done wonders and it allows me to sleep and move without pain. Today we met at the house on Grimmauld Place and I used that meeting to see if I was right about Albus having me watched."
"I am gathering he was." Severus asked.
"Yes, by Dung Fletcher who when he reported to the Headmaster helped himself to a few of the silver instruments in his office, my guess with the intent to sell them." Sirius said. "They entered my house and triggered the burglar alarm that the goblins put in place. Unfortunately they interrupted my session so I expected to have a bad evening, but I think that I will be in with Harry, in case he does."
"I understand that need." Severus said shaking his head, knowing he would be having a few nightmares himself. "Why were you so angry if you were setting him up to be caught?"
"Albus was once again embarrassed by his lack of clothes." Sirius said. "It ballooned from there into an argument regarding Harry that I am sure right now the headmaster is regretting because he let his over sized ego give away more than he expected."
Pulling the letter out of his pocket, Sirius hesitated then handed it to Lucius. "Turns out he was intercepting my mail while I was staying with the Potters."
Lucius read the letter, his rage almost imploding as he read his wife's desperate pleas for help from her cousin. "You just got this."
"Yes, what is worse is the rest of the story." He said sounding drained. "Dobby was answerable to me the minute my grandfather died, not the family, however Albus also kept me from getting the news of my inheritance. The Black family magic couldn't fulfill it's new connection to me, its why until I placed the ring on, I had no idea how much he had interfered. Now, knowing that he had prevented Dobby from locating me, prevented me from invoking the family magic, that he did so and then when we were talking today made it sound like I should be grateful for what he did..."
"I was angry already but after speaking to Dobby...I also learned his elf magic had located Harry and already considered him his new master, it's why he saved him two years ago." Sirius said. "After speaking to Dobby and knowing I had to find out what happened before talking to Narcissa and yourself, I went to see Bellatrix."
"Well that explains the rage." Severus quipped with a sad shake of his head.
"It's more than that. When I heard her reasoning for going along with this, how deluded she is regarding her master and her role in his life, it sickened me. She also swore revenge against you, Lucius."
"She did that when I killed her father." He replied.
"I only wish." Lucius replied in an icy tone. "She locked herself behind the wards and I couldn't get to her."
"Which is rather strange, considering that the wards belonged to me." Sirius said then tensing up gave him the rest of the news. "She wanted me to end her marriage, I refused which had her sprouting threats as I left. I am thinking, the ritual we need to perform, flesh of the servant."
"Are you insane?" Remus asked as he sat up and glared at his oldest friend. "We would need her free and frankly I can't think of anyone I would prefer to keep locked up more than Bellatrix."
"He is right." When the four wizards turned, Narcissa went to sit next to her husband and said "I think I know someone who would willingly agree to do this if we promise to kill him afterwards."
"Rabastan Lestrange." She answered. When she saw their rejection to her thought, she filled them in on what she had learned. "He blames himself for what happened to the Longbottoms. I know from when Andromeda looked at his memories, he wants death. It would be a release for him."
"We should talk about this some more, later on. Right now, we all need to at least pretend to try to sleep." Severus said as he stood. "Sirius, be careful, Albus is a wounded animal right now, how he attacked you is proof of that."
"I don't think you should go back to the school until we have already finished this, Severus." Remus stated.
"No, I have to go back. He would never suspect me if he were to find the portal gone." Severus replied. "I also need to be seen complaining about Harry escaping some more. I already did so to Filius at dinner and had a loud rant about it in front of Pomona Sprout with Hooch. We need me at the school, if for no other reason than to back up Minerva."
With that, he exited the house and Remus stood to do the same.
"We have plenty of guest rooms." Narcissa pointed out only to notice the slight flush of his skin. "Of course, I am rather sure that my niece is uh, rather eager to offer comfort at your time of need."
Remus quickly left and when Sirius let the event go without speaking or even a smile, Lucius and his wife exchanged concerned glances before she moved towards him. "Don't blame yourself, Sirius."
"For what? What happened to you, what happened to Harry? There is a whole long list of times where my impulsive actions added to this mess." He bitterly retorted.
"You can't go back and change the past, we can only go forward." She replied. "I have healed, Sirius. It took facing it, but I am past what happened. I have a husband I love, a son I adore and am regaining my family. You owe me nothing. You owe it to yourself and to that young man upstairs to move past this and work towards a brighter future."
Pressing a kiss to his cheek, amused at his shock, Narcissa said "Sirius, one person created this mess but to fix this it is going to take all of us. When it is over, then we get revenge, Black style."
"Vendetta?" He asked with a slight smirk. "Really?"
"We only need four and once we have James back, we have the required set." She answered. "Go to Harry, comfort him."
Sirius changed into Padfoot and loped up the stairs towards his godson's room. Once he was out of sight, Narcissa turned to her husband and her smile faded as she said "Dumbledore is going to die."
"I agree, but it will not be easy." He said.
"I never told you but I think I saw Lily Potter when I was at my initiation. She told me about Pettigrew, the thing is I am rather curious. She referred to her son in the past tense, I took that to being because she was dead, but what if it wasn't? I am going to speak to Boudacia. I think that there is a connection between her and myself. I think that mother to mother, I might be able to reach her on this other plane she is stuck on." Narcissa said.
Lucius nodded, his mind reeling from all that had happened. "You know, I fear that when the truth is exposed, the mythos that surrounds Albus Dumbledore is going to come crashing down and there is going to be a power vacuum."
"Please, let someone else step in." She requested as they called for Tipsy and had her take the two baskets to Harry's room. Heading towards their bedroom, she realized he hadn't answered her plea.
When he saw her eyes on him, he chuckled and said "I know my limitations my dear and that I like power just a little too much. I was thinking... what about Arthur Weasley for Minister."
"Lucius, have you lost your mind?" She inquired as she stopped outside Draco's door to check on their son. Noticing the slight hint of purple and green scales, she moved closer and tucked the blankets around their son a bit before pressing a kiss to his cheek.
"Did you know he still had Zeus?" Lucius asked with a soft lilt to his voice as he took in his teenage son's arms wrapped tightly around a present he had bought him years ago, when brooms and expensive games weren't even a thought.
"Ssh." she said and once they were outside replied "Yes, he has kept him hidden in the back of his closet since he went to Hogwarts. I pretend not to have seen him."
"Its good to know he isn't growing up completely." Lucius said with heavy sigh as they entered their room. "Narcissa, how are you with things, really?"
"Like I said, Dumbledore is going down. Hard." She answered as she went to freshen up and go to bed. Soon tucked in beside her husband, she pressed a kiss to his bare chest then resting her head on his shoulder whispered "I love you, you know."
"I love you too." He replied only to wrap her up in his arm and drift off to sleep himself.
At the Granger residence a certain fourteen year old found herself sitting in the window seat of her mother's conservatory, petting her cat as she tried to deal with the changes that evening had created.
"Hermione?" Looking at her mom standing in the doorway wearing her bathrobe over her nightclothes had the teenager realizing it was very late at night. "Sweetie what is? I haven't found you sitting in here once since you returned from school this year."
Jean Granger settled in next to her daughter which disturbed Crookshanks who took off towards the house and asked. "Is everything alright with Harry? Did you two have a fight? You do know that it is perfectly normal to have simple arguments with your boyfriend."
"It's not Harry, at least we aren't arguing or anything." Hermione said as she leaned against the cool glass and felt her lips turn down into a frown. "It's just, that when things seem to be settling into a happier pattern for him, something else has to happen that tears him apart. I can't help feeling as if the fates keep throwing bad thing after bad thing at him. It is all that I can do not to scream sometimes at what he has endured."
When she realized her mother had no idea what she was talking about, Hermione filled her in on the latest revelation then said "It isn't fair. Do you remember when Professor McGonagall told you about my being petrified by a monster at school?"
"Yes, something about a potion that released you a bit later." Jean said as she recalled how angry her husband and she had been and how they had talked about removing her from Hogwarts.
They had only agreed to let her return for her third year because they had at the time believed it had been mere hours. It was only recently while eavesdropping on Hermione and Harry that they had realized she had been petrified for weeks.
"What I didn't tell you...it was longer than I led you to believe." She softly admitted. Seeing her mom wasn't surprised, she asked why.
"I heard Harry and yourself talking about this. We have also figured out that there is more you haven't told us about. Things that would make us want to have you return to regular schooling. If it wasn't for Madam Pomfrey speaking to us about things I am not so sure your father would have let you return for school this year."
"Oh Merlin." Hermione said as she bit her lip then knowing she needed to talk to someone, and that it couldn't be Harry or even her mentor as Narcissa still had a sense of guilt at what her husband had done. Looking at her mom she said "I need to tell you something."
"Penny Clearwater and I were using a mirror to check around a corner when we saw the snake in it. I saw large golden colored eyes and then that was the last thing I recalled until I was being levitated to the infirmary. I had regular sleep cycles mom, I wasn't unconscious the entire time."
When she saw her mom looked confused, she said "It was like being a statue, unable to move but aware of what was going on around me. I could hear people talking, could think and when I first woke up, kept screaming for someone to help me. Nothing worked."
"Oh my dear..." Hermoine let her mom comfort her, knowing that it was equally important to her mom as it was to her. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was scared, terrified but then around lunchtime and then after dinner I would hear a voice telling me about the lessons I missed and anything else going on in Hogwarts. I would hear Harry. He would come and see me every single day. A few times Ron would come with him, but most of the time, it was Harry who would stay until Madam Pomfrey's niece would kick him out of the infirmary."
"Was that when you started to develop feelings for him?" She asked.
Blushing a bit, she said "No, it was a year earlier during another adventure we had. His visiting me made me feel as if I hadn't been forgotten. My roommates would stop in for a few minutes every few days, the Weasley twins did as well, though that was mainly to beg me to wake up. They kept threatening to prank the world if I didn't wake."
Hermione chuckled for a moment as she recalled the strange visit from the equally strange twins. "The thing is, even after I was awoken, I kept having nightmares of being stuck in stone, forgotten by the world. Its the real reason I went to speak to your friend at the hospital. It had nothing to do with dealing with having been bullied. I told her it was a nightmare, since I couldn't tell her the truth, but it helped, a lot."
"You should have told us, Hermione." Her mother said as she hugged her little girl. "We might not understand this world you seem to love so much, but you are still our little girl and we will always love you."
"I know that Mom. I just was scared you would not let me go back, but in spite of everything, the prejudice, the monsters and the Headmaster I now loath, there are so many wonderful things in this world. I have made some great friends, I have Harry and now, this Vesta appointment. I have come to love this world." She said biting her lip. "I wish you could share more of it with me. It's why I asked to host Harry's birthday party here, it lets me show you my world and show the magical world my muggle side."
The two Granger women sat there, curled up against one another for a long time, then as if of one mind, they stood and wandered towards the main house. Separating at the doorway to Hermione's bedroom, her mother reached out and straightening her daughter's curls, said "I love you."
"I love you too." Hermione replied as she went to curl up in her bed. Finding Crookshanks already curled up on the pillow, she laughed as the part kneazle purred loudly then moved to her side. "I love you too, you furball."
The Hogwarts Headmaster had an uneasy feeling but believed it to be the result of the loss of the monitoring devices. As he prepared for bed, he thought about his day and the news from both Severus and Arthur that Harry had been seen at the Ministry.
Arthur had unfortunately admitted to distracting Severus in regards to keeping track of the boy thanks to Delores Umbridge's attack. Now that he knew Harry was in London, Albus was determined to locate the boy. He had hoped to send him to the Weasley residence, but now, he was concerned that that wasn't far enough away from Sirius Black.
He did believe that he had proven his point to the younger wizard, but he still didn't trust him not to interfere with his plans for young Harry. He had had some very exciting plans for the upcoming school year, things that he had hoped would allow him to discover just how strong magically the boy was.
Still, it didn't matter, he had a way to keep things under his control, thanks to the prophecy that was locked away in the Department of Mysteries. With a sigh, Albus looked at the wand sitting on his nightstand and reminded himself that that wouldn't have allowed his ownership if he hadn't been deserving.
After all he was the leader of the light, the guardian of his world and most importantly the person to lead it into the future. All he had to do was track down an errant teenager and thanks to Molly Weasley he knew EXACTLY were the boy would be in two days.
In the Department of Mysteries, Croaker was speaking to two others then after they were in agreement, he stated "It should be tonight."
"Agreed." The trio separated and went to the appropriate stations then placing their hands on the runes engraved in the wall, set their long delayed plan to take down Albus Dumbledore into motion.
On the main floor of the Ministry, the few scattered employees felt the ground trembling and all rushed to the main lobby and began to ask what was that.
A few minutes later, an auror arrive and said "Whatever happened it was in the Department of Mysteries. Croaker is sending out a call for the Minister and Dumbledore along with my boss."
Floo powder was tossed in and a few minutes later, Fudge wearing lime green pajamas and slipper entered the corridor from which he could smell the rancid odor of smoke. His guards covered their noses and were muttering among themselves. Dumbledore soon joined them along with Amelia Bones who was clearly not in a good mood as she demanded to know what happened.
"I fear that there was an accident in my department." Croaker announced as he appeared wearing his slate gray robes. "If you will follow me."
The trio did and when they arrived in the Hall of Prophecies, he waved his hand towards the mess that was still smoldering and said "It appears that an entire set of shelves of fulfilled prophecies crashed and caught fire. We are preparing a list as we speak."
"How do you know that they were fulfilled prophecies?" Amelia inquired.
Moving towards the spheres, Croaker prevented Auror Yaxley from touching it, "If it is unfulfilled and isn't about you and you touch it, it will drive you insane. Now, see how the sphere is clear or milky colored. That means it is an unfulfilled prophecy. Once it has been fulfilled, like..."
Moving towards a shelf with a sphere that was blackened, he lifted the ball like item and showed it to the others. "When the prophecy has been declared fulfilled by fate such as this one it turns black. Now this one was fulfilled on October 31, 1981. This is the sphere of the prophecy regarding Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort aka Tom Riddle."
He saw the startled expression on Dumbledore's face and made a note of the angry one on Yaxleys. He saw that Bones had been watching as well and knew that by the end of the next day, Mr. Yaxley would no longer be employed at the Ministry.
"I was unaware that there was a prophecy regarding that event." Fudge announced in as solemn a tone as he could manage at learning something of the secrets of this department.
"Yes, there was, as I am sure that the Chief Warlock could verify as it was told to him." Croaker said showing them the other side of the sphere. "As you see it was told to him by someone with the initials SPT."
Yaxley and the rest soon exited the department and Amelia took advantage of the opportunity to suggest that she had a potential vacancy knowing that the ambitious wizard would be thrilled to be promoted to the empty head auror spot. Too bad, she was going to arrest him.
Getting his agreement to an interview the next day, she waited until he left and then sent out an owl to Moody. Locating Fudge who was demanding answers from the Headmaster as to why he had not told anyone about the fulfilled prophecy regarding Potter, she suggested that they head to bed that they would all have a busy day tomorrow.
Once Dumbledore returned to his quarters, he sank into his chair and sat there, stunned at the information he had been given. He had always believed that the prophecy had been false but had used it to gain his own goals. Now, it had turned black, thereby no longer being of any use.
He couldn't help wondering what it meant for the future. He knew that Riddle was still out there, that he had created horcruxes that needed to be destroyed including the one in Harry. Still did this mean that he didn't have to wait and could defeat Riddle himself, that he didn't have to deal with chasing down that errant little kid who didn't seem to show him the respect he deserved?
Deciding to be safe rather than sorry, Albus vowed to make sure that Harry Potter was kept protected until he had need of him. After all, legally he was still his magical guardian.
Morning came and the various factions began their day while others ended their very long but successful evenings.
Croaker and his coworkers were drinking fire whiskey and toasting each other at having successfully fooled Albus Dumbledore into thinking that his hand delivered prophecy had been fulfilled.
In truth, an expert had created a blank sphere and had copied the names and dates on the real sphere. It was still on a shelf, someplace deep in the bowels of the building, still being looked at because they believed it had not been a true prophecy but one that the Headmaster for some reason was turning into a self fulfilling one.
As they exited the department, Croaker paid a visit to a nearby room, removed what he was going to need and then joined the others in the lift. Once there, he said "Now that the first part has succeeded, time to begin the second. Dealing with his total control over Hogwarts."
Yaxley was early to work for the first time in years, his chest puffed out as he mentally let the title of Head Auror roll across his lips. His master would be so proud when he returned.
Arriving at the office of the woman he planned to kill and replace once his current position was secure, he nodded and took his seat. After some questioning in which he felt he answered acceptably, he could almost taste the power when she said that there were a few secrets he needed to be made privy to if he were to take the promotion.
Yaxley's brain was so full of the power almost in his hands that he never noticed that Alastor Moody was in the auror training center when Bones took him there for a tour.
A boring half hour later, he heard her talking to the insane trainer who decided to join them uninvited on the rest of their tour. His pleasure now lessened, Yaxley struggled to pay attention to Bones and never realized that they had entered the holding cells.
"We have secretly been making upgrades to the cells. Moody, perhaps you would care to demonstrate." Bones suggested only for the infamously paranoid auror to refuse.
Curious about these changes, knowing he would have to tell his master, Yaxley rolled his eyes and supremely confident that he was beyond suspicion, the death eater stepped into the cell.
When he felt the drain on his magic, he looked at Bones and said with a small grin. "Magic suppression charms have been added?"
"Not to all cells, just certain ones. Ones to hold potential death eaters." She replied with a glare growing on her face. She began to walk away and could hear Yaxley coaxing Moody to let him out of the cell.
"Com'n Moody, the joke is over. Now let me out." Yaxley said annoyed and thinking his first duty was going to be to find a way to get this old fossil either killed or at least permanently returned.
"Now, letting you out would defeat the purpose, death eater." Moody said with a grin on his face that had Yaxley's heart racing. When the auror began to walk away, Yaxley snarled and went to pull his wand.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Moody said with a slight chuckle to his voice. Yaxley was furious with this bastard so pointing his wand at the visible ward, he started to send a reducto curse at it.
Nothing happened then recalling that he was in a magic suppression cell, he snapped. "Moody I am serious, let me out of here immediately."
Watched as the auror thumped his way back, Yaxley saw that he was unfolding a piece of parchment which he pushed into the cell and was told to read it.
Yaxley opened the parchment and his eyes went wide as he realized he was reading an arrest warrant with his name on it. The crime was being a death eater and to his shock, it listed several crimes that he knew he had committed in the muggle world. "What is this crap."
"Your arrest warrant. You should know for future reference, the muggle world has many, many new ways of detecting crime. Last night, Amelia removed a sample of your blood to send to the muggles. That list of deaths, your magic and blood is all over them. Oh, in case you didn't realize, the job offer was simply a ruze to get you in this cell. Have a nice day, Death Eater."
At Hogwarts, Albus had tried to speak to his people only to be told by Minerva that she had a busy day and would speak to him later, Filius had informed him that he had been called to a meeting at Gringotts regarding an unknown issue and Severus had been brewing potions that morning.
When the potion master joined him at breakfast, Albus realized that the man was as bad tempered as he had ever been. "Everything alright, Severus?"
"It's fine. Was there something you needed as I am rather behind in brewing potions for Poppy." He snapped.
"I was rather interested in knowing if I would need to hire a new potions' professor as Minerva mentioned that you had a meeting at Gringotts regarding a job." He probed knowing that there was no way that Severus would leave Hogwarts.
"No, I will be here this upcoming term, just like usual. If you must know, the Goblins were looking to me for a name of a potential potions staffer to pair with a cursebreaker." He replied then standing said "I have to get back to brewing."
"You haven't had any breakfast." Albus stated.
"I don't have time." Severus replied and once the other wizard had left, Albus frowned at his short tempered attitude.
"Headmaster, we have located some of those brownies you liked so much." The head house elf announced as he sat the large plate down right in front of the man.
"It appears as if I will be dining along. Why don't you deliver the brownies and my usual breakfast to my office." He replied as he saw some of his lesser professors entering the great hall, all talking about the events at the Ministry the day before.
"I always knew Delores Umbridge was insane, but attacking the Potter boy, clearly she needs time in St. Mungos." Sinestra was saying as she sat down in her usual spot. "Oh, good morning Headmaster. Will you be joining us today?"
"No, I fear that I am rather busy this morning. Enjoy breaking your fast ladies." He announced as he exited the Great Hall and returned to his tower to do some work before the afternoon visit to the Ministry.
At the Malfoy residence, the two teenagers had prepared their gifts for Neville and were finishing up the last of the transfiguration school work that they had been working on, under the supervision of Remus Lupin.
"I just don't get why Hermione didn't have to be here." Draco said as he handed over the last of his written revising assignments.
"Because Hermione Granger does her homework correct the first time, doesn't need to be reminded to practice and other than being a bit over eager to be perfect does well in school." Remus said and noticed the smile on Harry's face. "I see you seem in a better mood this morning."
"I am." He said not telling his godfather he had spent an hour that morning telling his parents about his summer. He wasn't sure that they could hear him, but he wasn't taking any chances. "I have had to do the impossible for the last three years, this time it is something that give me back my parents. I won't allow myself to fail."
"You aren't in this alone, Harry." Remus reminded him gently.
Harry looked at one of his father's oldest friends and grinned and said "That is why I know this won't fail. I have all of you, plus the great research ability of one Hermione Jane Granger."
"If this wasn't so important, I would tell you that you are extremely nauseating, Harry." Draco said as he went to change his clothes.
"Where are you going?" Harry asked.
"To change into an appropriate outfit." Draco said looking at Harry's jeans and t-shirt. "You might want to consider doing so as well."
"We can't wear robes in the muggle world, Draco." He replied.
"No, but Aunt Andromeda and my mother arranged for appropriate muggle wear. Something called khakis and a polo shirt. To be worn with those trainer things you used to wear." He replied with a wrinkled up nose. "The ones she left with me were the least gaudy pair she could find and they were still green and white with writing all over them."
Harry rolled his eyes at the other wizard and said "You are such a prissy wizard, Malfoy. Seriously, you spend more time on how you look than any girl I know."
"He can't help it, you know. It's a family trait." The dark haired wizard standing in the doorway announced. Severus moved in to stand close to Harry and said "Now try to be understanding, Harry, after all Draco was raised by Lucius who I assure you has never passed a mirror without looking at himself in it."
"Both you boys get moving and Harry, wish Neville a happy birthday from me too." Remus said as the two teenagers left the classroom taunting each other in a more playful manner than they ever would have at school. "What brings you here, I thought you were spending the day at Hogwarts."
"If Albus were to check, I am gathering supplies in the forbidden forest." Severus said as he settled into the chair that Draco had been seated in. "I had an idea and need you to talk to the Grangers for me."
"Is this about Hermione's suggestion of using muggle truth serum?" Remus asked.
"I looked, she is correct that nitrous oxide would relax the manipulative, bastard there is however no guarantee that it will make him tell the truth. There is something called sodium pentothal that will. I sort of have some." Severus said. Noticing the surprised expression on Lupin's face. "Don't ask if you don't want to be told."
"Fine, but what do you need from me?" He inquired.
"I can't risk being seen with the Grangers and I am sure that the Headmaster has them being watched. I need to have whichever one is more proficient with muggle drugs brought to me here. I need to question them as to how much and what how long it will last." Severus replied.
"I am going there while the children are in Richmond." He replied.
"Who is attending as watchers?" Severus asked.
"Andromeda, Ted, Augusta Longbottom will be there of course and I believe that Narcissa is also attending." Remus said then after a moment, said "I believe that there is only going to be eight children."
"Neville, Harry, Hermione, Draco, the Lovegood girl, who else?" Severus asked.
"The Nott boy, which was a bit of a surprise."
"No, Theodore has a big interest in Herbology like the Longbottom boy. I know that his father had encouraged his interests." Severus replied.
"Okay, well I have heard that Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones are also to attend." Remus replied as they heard Lucius and Narcissa entering the room. Noticing how Lucius was dressed, he felt his jaw drop at the same time as he noticed Severus struggling not to laugh. "I gather you are attending the birthday party?"
Tugging at the pants, scowling at Severus who chuckled again, he said "Why do muggles insist on wearing these so tight, are they that less endowed that this is comfortable for them."
"I don't know, I never asked." Severus said with a smirk on his face as he took in the shortened blond hair. "Seriously, Lucius, I believe that what you are doing right now, shows a serious lack of good breeding."
"Bugger off, Snape." He replied as he finally got comfortable in the clothes. "Narcissa, are you sure dressing like this is necessary?"
"It won't kill you, Lucius." She absentmindedly replied. Looking at the two wizards, she asked "Do you know where Sirius went so fast this morning?"
"We were discussing the ritual needed and he suddenly stood and rushed off telling us he would explain later." Remus replied.
"I spoke to the Grangers, we are going to their house to pick up Ms. Granger and then are apparating to that castle, it was pre-arranged with the Department of Magical Cooperation. It seems as if Cedric Diggory was invited and his father paid Augusta a visit this morning."
Harry and Draco returned, Harry trying to fix his hair and Draco frowning at his sneakers and asking why they had the name Nike all over them.
"its the brand name, Draco. Sort of like Nimbus or Cleansweep." Harry replied as he gave up on his hair when Narcissa simply pulled out her wand and dealt with it. "Besides, no one will notice what is on your feet."
"Not when they get a look at your sneakers, they won't." Draco said. "Who is this Air Jordan and why is Nike wearing his shoes."
"Let's go, I am sure that Hermione will be very glad to tell you all about them." Harry said with a wicked smile on his face. Looking at Remus he said "I told them I am going to Neville's party. You should talk to them."
"I will." He said as he watched with a bittersweet smile on his face as Severus seemed stunned at the news of Harry talking to the portal. "He thinks that they hear him. I have to go."
"Let me know what the Grangers think." He replied as he took out his small potion's notebook and made notes of potential changes to his experiment.
Those leaving for the party were in the front hall when Remus arrived. Soon at the Granger house, he listened as Harry had a tug of war contest regarding carrying Hermione's gift for the other boy. "Harry, I am perfectly capable of carrying my gift, besides, you are the one with floo issues."
The teenager who had been about to go through the floo, stopped then handed her his present to carry as well, said "Good point, here I will go though and then you can pass the gifts through to me."
The general laughter this created had Hermione grinning at her boyfriend who promptly stepped through the fireplace only to hear him let out a sharp grunt at the other end. "Harry?"
"I'm fine." He was saying. When he took the gift bags she was handing him, he stepped back as she came though, only to have Augusta Longbottom using a cleaning charm to remove soot off them.
When the Malfoy's arrived, there was some strange looks from the Hufflepuffs but that ended when Neville came down and was greeted by his guests.
"Hey, Harry, Hermione. Draco, that pen you dad gave me is great. I have been using it to map my garden. It's so much easier to change between colors with it."
"I am glad it is working for you, Mr. Longbottom." Lucius announced. Looking at Augusta, he asked "Are we missing anyone?"
"No, the Lovegood girl is talking to Mr. Nott and Ms. Tonks in the garden. I have arranged for us to portkey from there." Augusta announced as they entered the house.
Harry and the latest arrivals were telling Neville happy birthday and asking about his morning when they came to the group already gathered. Narcissa greeted her sister and then her niece before getting a good look at the Lovegood girl.
She was dressed in muggle pants that didn't quite come to her shins and a pale green sleeveless linen shirt and white canvas trainers. When Narcissa was about to speak to her about the pants being too short, she heard Hermione greeting the young blond.
"Hi, Luna. I am Hermoine Granger, nice pedal pusher pants. I considered wearing mine, but my mom insisted on bermuda shorts." She cheerfully announced to the girl she had never met.
"Hello Hermione Granger, I have often wanted to meet you." The girl replied as she looked around the group of people. "Congratulations on being a Vesta, the Vesta council made a good choice. Your aura is strong."
After a quick discussion between the adults, Augusta announced "A slight change in plans. It seems as if some of the of age wizards have already been to the palace and to the room we were to portkey into. So half of us will be portkeying there and the other half will apparate."
The two groups gathered as directed and began their journey to Hampton Court in Richmond, but back at the Granger residence in Crawley, after Hermione's mother confirmed that things were well in hand for Harry's party, they all sat down so that Remus could fill them in on the latest news.
When Remus finished filling them in on the latest mess, Jean said "Hermione spoke to me last night, I talked to my husband this morning and he is going to help you. You should know, I am all for this, but fear that the drug my daughter mentioned won't do as you hope."
"Well earlier this morning, our potions master realized that when reading up on what this nitrous oxide does. He has something called Sodium Pentothal in mind." Remus said.
"Unfortunately, that is a severely controlled substance. To get a hold of some, impossible." The dentist announced.
"I am not sure how, but he had already acquired some." Remus said.
There was a not so nice smirk on the not so mind mannered dentist's face as he said "Well, that will definitely make things easier. I have had some experience with it, during my time in the service. When does he want to do this?"
"We figure that he will crash Harry's birthday party tomorrow and we were thinking it is the perfect time." Remus suggested.
"Not happening." When Dan Granger looked over at Remus he said "While I am more than willing to help, I have spent the last three years basically segregated from my daughter who had always been very much a daddy's girl and I am going to be here tomorrow to meet her friends and to see more of this wondrous world she lives in. I am free today and will be all evening then again later in the week, but tomorrow, even for Harry, I am not going to miss this."
"I suggest we speak to Severus, find out what time would work best for all concerned. Would you mind going back to the Malfoy residence with me for a bit?" Remus asked.
Jean Granger said "I am coming too."
The three went to the fireplace and then Remus realized that it might be better to bring them through one at a time. He took Jean though and sent her to where Severus was to be then went to get her husband.
As they arrived in the classroom, they stopped in the doorway amused at the sight in front of them. Severus Snape was fast asleep, the chair tilted back and every few seconds, a familiar looking house elf would lift up an eye lid and ask if Harry Potters potions godfather was still alive.
"Dobby?" Remus called out a bit worried about how the Grangers would react to a house elf until he recalled that they had seen several of the Malfoy house elves. "What are you doing? Is something wrong with Severus?"
"Dobby's be a bad elf, I's trying to practice putting the gray bearded one to sleeps, but grumpy wizards not waking up." Dobby said, his ears lowered with a slight trembling.
"Dobby, did you practice on Severus?" Remus asked.
"Nos, nots without Master Harry Potters permission." Dobby announced. "I's simply tries waking up already grumpy wizards to practice."
"Dobby, why would you want to put him to sleep?" Dan Granger asked.
Dobby looked at the two muggles and announced. "Hellos Harry Potters Miss Grangys parental figures. I's be wanting to put bad gray bearded one to sleep to take back Master Harry's property. Bad gray beard has wards."
"Uh, Dobby for now until we have talked to Harry, let's not do that." Remus said with wide eyes. Looking at Severus, he winced at the potentially bullocking he was about to receive, but he needed to wake up sleeping beauty.
Holding his wand out from a few feet away from Severus, he was about to used the augamenti spell when his wand flew from his and and to the not so asleep wizard. "We thought you were asleep."
"Obviously, you were incorrect." Severus said as he straightened his chair and closed his book. Looking at the Grangers, he narrowed his eyes as Remus began to explain why the Grangers were there. "I have an idea. Remus what time are the kids returning?"
"Not until after dinner." Remus stated. Noticing the smile growing on Severus' face, he asked "What do you have in mind?"
"I would suggest you contact Boudacia Pomfrey, I have a great idea." He replied as he sat back down and then began to explain. The Granger's verified that it would work.
An owl was sent and an hour later, the five co-conspirators were gathered in an office with Minerva McGonagall who had agreed to help. Severus went to put the first step into motion while Boudacia and Minerva looked over the list of questions they wanted answers to.
When the potion master returned, the two witches exited the small office and went to confront a man who would have no control over his responses. The Grangers had prepared a second syringe before Severus walked to rejoin the ladies now that he was sure that the Headmaster was out of it.