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Birds flew. Bees stung. And it hadn't taken Voldemort long to make his assault on Azkaban.

It was all over the papers and was all anyone was talking about. Voldemort's followers along with other low lifes we're free now. They didn't have wands but they were loose. Azkaban had been emptied.

The ministry was gearing up it's defenses and the Wizengamot was split. Military spending got pushed through but that was about it. One way or another both sides wanted an increase in the efficacy of armed forces.

Harry breathed and relaxed as he went to classes. It wouldn't do to start slipping now.

Daphne had informed him of everything he needed to know regarding the break out and the wizard councils. Fudge was pushed out of power after a vote of no confidence. Daphne told him so. Rufus Scrimgeour had replaced him. Fudge was a fine beaurocrat but he wasn't a fighter. They needed a fighter in charge. The Wizengamot had managed to get that done despite the dark voting block. Harry wasn't sure what politicking and deals had been struck to make that happen and wasn't sure he wanted to know.

Not with Daphne knowing everything she knew. All her knowledge was his knowledge. Just an ask away. Less than that even.

They had a Hogsmeade weekend and Harry walked with Neville to the three broomsticks. Neville's fists were clenched. Harry knew he was pissed that the LeStranges were free. He didn't need to read his friend's mind to know that.

"Neville," Harry attempted to get his friend's attention as they walked through the snow. Neville didn't hear him. "Neville!"

"What?" Neville asked at length.

"We'll get them. You know that right? You and me. We can do this. We just need to be patient."

"Bellatrix LeStrange was an outstanding duelist," Neville mumbled.

"And who knows what fifteen years in Azkaban did to that but that's not the point. You're powerful and talented at defense. You can get there but only if you're patient. You'll have your shot at LeStrange's throat."

"You really believe that. Don't you." Neville didn't phrase it as a question.

"I really do. At the end of the day it's going to be Voldemort and I. Why shouldn't it be LeStrange and you? It's like poetry. It rhymes."

"Cliché." Neville clicked his tongue at Harry.

"Don't knock clichés, they're powerful." Harry returned. They entered the three broomsticks. Tracy and Daphne were waiting for them there already. They had their drinks and we're whispering to one another in a corner.

Neville and Harry went up to the bar and ordered butterbeer. They took their drinks and sat down next to the girls.

"Anyone seen Lisa?" Tracy wondered.

"Not since breakfast," Harry shrugged. "I know she had a letter to send and she sometimes hangs out with the other Ravenclaw girls. Madison and whatnot."

"Good for her." Tracy decided.

"How's life in Slytherin?" Neville asked the girls.

"It's fine. There are some divisions. You Know Who faces more opposition. There are half bloods and whatnot. Sure there are the scions like Knott and Malfoy to worry about but they haven't made any moves."

"They're basically shoe horns for death eaters." Daphne followed Tracy's explanation up.

"I should do something about that…" Harry trailed off.

"Like what? Kill them?" Daphne shook her head. "You can't do that."

"I most certainly could. We're at war." Harry disagreed. "But yeah you're probably right. I kinda have to wait for them to make moves. It's a waiting game and I have to be perfect when they make those moves."

"You can't be perfect," Daphne reached across the table and gave Harry's hand a squeeze. He slipped into her mind and she sighed at his caress. He saw how much she worried about the scions and saw it was healthy without slipping into anxiety.

"I have to be perfect. When Voldemort makes his assault on the ministry the aurors have to be almost perfect. It's the nature of the game we're playing. Our defense needs to be airtight or people could die," Harry murmured.

"Let Dumbledore worry about that," Daphne returned easily.

[I'm safe. You're safe. Everyone is safe.]

But for how long?

Harry telepathically shot back.

"He can't let Dumbledore worry about everything. We have to get involved. It's our fight too." Neville disagreed.

"When we're ready. Sure. I mean this is all well and good to say you want to oppose You Know Who but honestly we're just students. We should be relaxing and worrying about crushes and dating. Oh and school work of course," Tracy sighed.

"At least this school work isn't in French," Daphne exasperated.

"Yeah like you had any problems learning French." Tracy rolled her eyes. Harry slipped into her mind and saw that she knew Daphne was psychometric.

Harry was suddenly ripped away from his seat in the three broomsticks. He was in Durmstrang academy. He was writing a letter. He was sending it to his best friend. The one person in the world who understood him. Albus Dumbledore. He was writing about the future he foresaw with wizards and muggles living together. With wizards on top of course.

Then Harry was back in the three broomsticks. Daphne gave him a worried look. He gave her a gentle smile. Grindelwald never had that. He never had a Daphne. All he had was a rival and friend. It hadn't been enough to stabilize his life. Harry could feel it. The pit of despair in Grindelwald's stomach when the girl died. Albus's sister. She'd died on accident but it didn't change the facts. Grindelwald had hurt Dumbledore. He alienated the one person in the world who understood him. That had been Grindelwald's greatest lost. In fact, whether he knew it or not, he lost the war then and there.

Harry stiffened unconsciously as he thought about the girl dying. Grindelwald had never been sure who's spell had killed her. It could have been Dumbledore's. It could have been Dumbeldore's brother's. Or it could have been his. He just never knew. It was a by product and accident of being centennial wizards. He hurt people on accident. He had his whole life. Harry paused. Grindelwald had hurt people his whole life. Harry had not.

It was getting more and more difficult to keep up that distinction. Here Harry, there Grindelwald. There was this no man's land that like an ocean rising on a plain was flooded with both from both sources. Harry cleared his mind with occlumency and refocused. Daphne was still giving him that worried look. He needed to do better. Be better. Worry her less.

"So what's the plan for the rest of the afternoon?" Neville wondered. Harry shrugged in answer.

"You don't want a treacle tart? I thought you liked those." Tracy observed.

"I do but I don't have any plans to get one. We can go get candy later. We have plenty of time. I suppose I better help Michael with some things but besides that I'm free," Harry shot back. Michael had been studying Occlumency and Augeomancy. It was time to put it to the test. Michael had worked hard enough that he probably had some measure of defense.

Harry had observed it in him. His casting improved.

"What did Susan say about the break out?" Tracy wondered.

"We haven't talked super recently but I imagine that her aunt has been playing damage control like nobody's business. Trying to stop a general panic."

"You really think that could happen?" Neville asked Daphne. "I know its scary but wizards are competent. They can handle themselves right?"

"You Know Who just released every murderer and thief out onto the street. They don't have wands but that's likely to change," Daphne shrugged. "Your average wizard has no clue how to handle themselves in a real fight. They rely on hit wizards and aurors."

"Pathetic…" Neville sighed. "If everyone knew how to fight there would be no threat. Well some threat but it would be smaller."

"Most people don't like fighting and are mediocre at defense. You can't see it because you're good at defense. And Harry is Harry," Tracy cut in. "Look at me. I do fine in potions but I can hardly cast a spell chain. Dueling isn't taught at Hogwarts."

"Maybe it should be. It is a Beuxbatons and Durmstrang," Harry pointed out. "It means that only the powerful know how to fight. It makes a might makes right world. That's pretty awful."

Was it?

The voice questioning him was his own. Not Grindelwalds. Harry frowned at that voice and shut it down. Nobody should have too much power. He flirted with that line.

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In the end Harry had gotten his treacle tart. It was good and he enjoyed it. Then he met up with Michael and did some Occlumency training.

"I am now going to breach your mind. You will attempt to repel me. Are you ready?" Harry asked Michael.

Michael nodded and shifted.

Harry lanced in Michael's thoughts with a spear of magic. Michael stumbled back but could not clear his thoughts and repel Harry. At least not yet. Harry made it hurt a little as he dug in. He saw the crush Michael had on Brocklehurst during their first couple years of school. Michael stuttered aloud and refocused. Eventually he overcame the weak probe.

"Very good. You can relax now," Harry informed him.

"You saw so much…"

"I could have seen more. But yes. I did. I saw your memories of Mandy."

"I had no idea. And to think even just a few months ago I would have been blind to any attempt on my mind," Michael breathed.

"The mind arts are not simple. The mind is complicated. Each mind is unique. They all have different flavours."

"That's what a Legilimency attack feels like."

"From me. Today. This hour. I didn't have to cause you pain. I could have made it feel good. Are you prepared to resist such a thing?"

Michael shook his head. "No. I'm not. I'm too weak. So every Legilimency attack is different."

"Correct. It varies inevitably person to person and hour to hour. An attack from me will feel entirely different from an attack orchestrated by Dumbledore. But the concepts are the same. The means by which you repel and detect attacks are the same. Mindfulness. Being aware of the present and your own mind. Both are critical to the mind arts. As I'm sure you have discovered."

"Yes. But… how does one become a Legilimens?"

"The incantation is exactly that. Legilimens. Eye contact and familiarity with the mind in question both are useful."

"You didn't use it. Eye contact. A wand. Or an incantation."

"I'm powerful and talented. I hardly need those things to read my enemies' thoughts."

"What about your friends'."

"I'm not in your mind now. Am I. I have respect for most people's privacy and rarely use my talents on my friends. Susan is learning the same way you are. Daphne is already an occlumens."

He nodded. "I have so much to learn."

"Yes," agreed Harry. "But we yet have time."

"My memory is improving. I've noticed that much."

"Very good. You will find, in time, that your memories don't record the past. Not really. Instead they exist to give your present self context."

"Human memory is fallible. There are things I remember which couldn't have happened. I had hoped Augeomancy would help with that."

"Help you how? Not to form such memories or to be able to identify them?"

"Well…" Michael trailed off. "Both ideally."

"It shall. When there's a conflict of interest the mind invents something. The mind prefers what is familiar even if its frightening over the new which could be good."

"I think I understand," Michael nodded. "About You Know Who… this latest attack… the prison break…"

"What of it?"

"Well what do you plan to do about it?"

"Nothing for now. It's our job to play defense. That means waiting for the murderers and thieves to make their moves. I admit it scares me. I admit that I am terrified. I have to be almost perfect."


"Me." Harry nodded. "Why shouldn't I be scared? I have as much to lose as anyone. And I know the stakes."

"Thank you, Harry."

"Of course."

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