Hi. This is The-Kop-Who-Scoused, again, making the most of my holiday time. This is a story starting in the second year, has no pairings till fourth year or later, but as usual, if it happens, it will be Harmony. No Lords. It will be just manipulation. The chapters will be in the 3000-6000 word range. Even if there might be millions of other stories like this, I am writing it. I can't write serious things, apparently. It is possible that the incidents/situations/solutions used may have originated elsewhere, due to that. So far as I know that should not be the case. If you encounter it somewhere else, in an older story, it will be put into recommendations in future stories. This first chapter is absolutely narrative and encapsulates the second year.

Oh, and by the way, different people are now writing/completing different stories on this account. So just because I have posted, others may not necessarily do so. I'm the schoolboy with a dictionary and some time to spare. The rest of the writers, cousins, have jobs.

The Search and the Questions

Harry was hiding. There had been another attack. This time the victims were Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington and Justin Flinch-Fletchley. Normally this would not have been a matter to make Harry hide – he had gone toe-to-toe with Voldemort last year, after all. But the situation was different now.

"Curse Snape, Malfoy and Lockhart", he thought viciously to himself, as he slinked away unseen from what seemed to be the whole school baying for his blood. "Had to conjure a snake, didn't the git?"

Well not the whole school. Hermione, Ron, the twins, Neville and the rest of the Quidditch team as well, were all supporting him. Unfortunately, that made them targets to the school's ire as well, which was why he had escaped. If he wasn't there, and they kept quiet as he had literally begged them to do, then surely they wouldn't be troubled by others, would they?

The Duelling Club had been an unmitigated disaster. His immediate move to drive the snake away from Justin had been instrumental in painting him as the Heir of Slytherin. Then Ernie McMillan had to be the one to see him find Justin and Nick petrified. "How the bloody hell, do you petrify a ghost?" he wondered idly.

Dumbledore made a big deal about asking him whether he knew anything, and also trying to tell him that he knew Harry wasn't behind the attacks. Well, he bloody didn't intend to tell the others about it, did he?

And so it was that the Invisibility Cloak clad tween entered the hallowed silence of the library as a last resort and asylum from the prosecution and persecution. Madam Pince would probably throw Dumbledore out, physically, if he so much as attempted to disturb the delicate balance of silence in her domain, and she was shorter than the Headmaster by about a foot and half.

He roamed, invisibly, through the rows upon rows of shelves. Oh there were all sorts of books. There were books about subjects he didn't even know existed. And there were books upon subjects he thought should not exist. Why would anyone want to check the reaction of a horned-toad's spleen sprayed over a person before his intestines were boiled in his own blood? Why would anyone want to undertake that? Idle minds were the Devil's workshops indeed.

Then there was this book about omens. Harry had heard Hermione ramble on about the electives for the next year onwards which they would have to choose around Easter. Somehow, he already knew that Divination was going to get the short shrift from him. Honestly; he had to be afraid of a great, big black dog, or hound or whatever? He snickered as he corrected himself. Were he in the place of Sir, Charles Baskerville, he would, probably, be afraid. But Harry knew it would at best be a large beastie going mad due to being clad in phosphorous.

The stray thought made him think of his friends. He was sure that Ron would go berserk. Trying to make fun of something that the magicals clung to stupidly would be nigh on blasphemous. Neville would fidget, wanting to agree with Ron, given his magical upbringing, but unable to resist the logic, and therefore just keep quiet. Hermione would give him that cheeky grin they shared in private when the magical world's stupidity amused them beyond measure.

He passed those shelves over, and instead reached the newspaper archives. He was surprised. All along, he had thought that The Daily Prophet was the only national publication. Here were stacks of The Daily Prophet, The Omen Reader, which was a weekly and more importantly a political commentary, The Times of Magic, which had been a pilot project by a muggleborn, apparently, because it had several scathing editorials about pureblood supremacy (hmm... that was interesting; it seemed the idea was present post Voldemort's temporary 'death' as well), and it was abruptly shut down one day. Oh yes. They must have 'closed' the mouth that talked.

It was also obvious that the magicals thought about money only in terms of getting it and spending it. Honestly, if there was The Daily Prophet, why wasn't there The Daily Profit?

Truth be told, Harry was not stupid – at least, he certainly wasn't as stupid as he let on. He also did not abhor reading as he had shown his companions.

The fact was that he had once attempted to read newspapers. Of course, Vernon took them away. Freaks didn't deserve to know about the world around them, after all. When he came to Hogwarts, he had borrowed the papers from Oliver, who was the only sort-of-friend who had a subscription. The Daily Prophet was unmitigated Ministry-propaganda and sensationalist drivel. Of course, he hadn't thought of things in those terms, but every muggle-raised person had a sense of very heavy scepticism against politics and governments as such. There was only so much he could read without grinding his teeth at the praise that the paper accorded the Ministry. Rightly or wrongly, the antipathy towards the government in the Magical World followed. He never bothered to read again. The antipathy mellowed down to apathy.

With Hogwarts proving to be more of an adventure than he had envisaged, his apathy as a member of the magical public extended to not even bothering to remember Fudge, the Minister elected in 1989, and dismissed by Hagrid as a bungler when the gigantic man had come to fetch him the year before.

Harry sat down at a table and started reading. One could never know enough about the world. He read everyday thereafter. It also saved him a fair few galleons on the subscriptions.

Over the next month, Harry spent more and more time sequestered in his corner of the library. Knowing that he would need an alibi if the spate of attacks did not subside, this corner was right opposite the table that the three elves used to sort and stack books. The elves were wonderful. It was funny how he never paid them attention before. Tippy, Timmy and Biffy were excellent, walking and talking catalogues all by themselves. When a wizard condescended to give them attention like respected aid-givers, they were all the more helpful.

For all his efforts, though, his alibi was not established, for there was no attack. All the same, people felt safer when they could see him doing something as mundane as reading a newspaper, writing in notebooks using the funny quills, or doing homework. Harry, indeed, had taken to making notes about inconsistency upon inconsistency he had seen in various reports. He had been introduced to the concept of Death Eaters. He had a ready list of people suspected to be amongst them. He also had a list of victims. It was interesting to note that though they were pro-pureblood supremacy terrorists, most of their targets and victims were purebloods.

He also learnt about a man named Sirius Black. When Harry read about him first, it was in the newspaper dated the thirteenth of November, 1981. It had taken a while for him to cool down. This was the man who had betrayed his parents. Dumbledore himself had testified so in court. This was the man who had sold them out to Voldemort. He had not revisited the subject, because his anger had led him to rather cruelly imaginative daydreams about what he would do once he got his hands on the man. Peter Pettigrew, out to avenge his parents' deaths, temporarily became Harry's hero.

With Hermione sent to the hospital wing though, after her unfortunate but hilarious (Harry made sure that he did not laugh with anyone around; that had to count for something) transformation into a part-cat, he had to have something to occupy his time for the week she was in the infirmary for. It was during this time that he learnt more about the three years between 1978 and 1981 – the time period during which his parents were out of school and alive. Set theory he may not have learnt, but it was intuitive that to learn about their roles – and they had to have some role, if people remembered them fondly – in the war, that was the period he had to learn about.

And learn he did. He learnt that his parents were among the only four people who had faced Voldemort in battle and lived to tell the tale – not once; not twice; but three times! He wondered whether Neville knew that his parents were the other two. Now that he came to think of it, he hadn't ever heard Neville talk about them. He smelt a story there. Days later, when he learnt the fate that had befallen them, he would cringe at that instinct.

What was even more interesting was that in the latter two times, that man, Sirius Black, had not only fought by his parents' side, but had landed the curse that drove away Voldemort, and decimated an abandoned building behind him. Sirius Black had injured Voldemort, grievously.

The simmering rage that he held gave way to intrigue. Why had Sirius Black turned traitor? And so he went back to the papers post-Halloween 1981. The newspapers did not contain trial transcripts, of course, but there had to be something that he had overlooked before; something that he had missed. It was going to be seemingly insignificant.

And there it was. In every other case that he read about, including the one about Lucius Malfoy, Benjamin Nott and many other people that were now considered the pillars of society, there was one line that stood out: The defendant pled 'not guilty', owing to being under the thrall of the Imperius Curse. There were medical proofs presented in court that this was true. Harry frowned. Anyone with eyes could see that Lucius Malfoy was still a Death Eater in everything he did.

And Minister Fudge and he supported each other. That was a difficulty; a very big difficulty. People never liked to hear things which would mean that they had done something or believed in something that was wrong. Fudge would never hear a word against Malfoy.

There were other Death Eaters as well. Not all of them went scot-free. All of them had 'pled guilty' in their trials, according to the newspaper reports about them.

Sirius Black's report had no such sentence. It was all a lot of bluster about his betrayal, eulogies to Harry's family and lots of waffle about reconstructing the magical world. But Harry knew that his sleuthing had revealed something. What that something was he didn't know.

The three Lestranges, Dolohov, a bloke called Rookwood and several others were the Death Eaters under the auspices of Azkaban, the Wizard Prison where Sirius Black now lived. It was guarded by Dementors. A quick search about them revealed information about the darkest creatures on earth.

The Lestranges had been arrested along with a boy called Bartemius Crouch Junior for torturing Neville's parents to insanity. It had been something that he had shared with Hermione and Ron after making them promise that they would never speak about it. Neville, the boy on the periphery, had become included into their close-knit group slowly by February.

This Crouch was an interesting case again. The boy's father was the then Head of the DMLE. The man had apparently not batted an eyelid while sentencing his son to Azkaban. Yet a few days later, he and his dying wife had visited the son. Three days later, both Junior and his mother had died.

It did not sit well with Harry. It absolutely didn't. He didn't believe in coincidences, and for the healthy convict and the terminally ill patient to die simultaneously was too fishy to be a coincidence.

What he also noticed though, was the fact that Crouch Sr. was a shoo-in for the top job. And Crouch Jr. had made him lose it. And even now, so many years later, Crouch was the main, if seemingly uninterested contender, and Minister Fudge's chief rival. That had to mean and count for something.

By the end of April, the newspaper clues had dwindled. Even if they hadn't, there were more important things to occupy his thoughts. Hermione had been attacked. And now, after the unwilling distance he had put between himself and his friends, with the prospect of her probably never waking from that petrifaction hurt. It hurt insanely. He had distanced himself from them because he didn't want them attacked by other people. But he had forgotten about the Heir of Slytherin. And why was she attacked?

What ensued was an adventure of a lifetime, involving Acromantula, semi-sentient enchanted cars, framed half-giants, suspended Headmasters, mad diary-inhabiting, little girl-possessing, un-dead Dark Lords, gigantic basilisks, and a happy phoenix with a hero-complex.

As Harry hugged Hermione – or to be precise – as Hermione imitated a constrictor snake with Harry as her prey, one thought was making itself known to his mind. Somehow, he had to set things right. Why him? He didn't know. How? He didn't know that either. But somehow, it had to be done. And by Merlin, if only to take those people who were priming Magical Britain for subjugation by Voldemort when he returned – and he would, Harry knew – he would do it. And he had to be seen as a good person as he went about it, by everyone.

Had the Sorting Hat heard his thoughts, it would have laughed. It was not necessary for Harry to be in Slytherin to be great. Gryffindor worked just as well.