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Chapter 15

"The House of Longbottom pledges itself to stand with the House of Potter, your enemies are our enemies, our wands will stand with you in your time of need."

Harry stared at Madam Longbottom in surprise and disbelief. He had not expected for her or anyone to do what she had just done. Yes, he knew it was legally possible, he had read about it in the laws when he was doing his research into this. But he was in a unique situation; declaring a blood feud like he had meant that it was totally legal for those he had declared feud against to kill him. But they were already trying to kill Harry anyway, so that put Harry in the unique situation that declaring the blood feud put him in no more danger than he was already in. In fact it could be argued that made Harry safer because now he could react to known Death Eaters even when they were out of their masks. For the Longbottoms, though, it was different, as they could choose to not risk their entire family. Sure, Neville was pushing to train with Harry again this year, but he hadn't made a move either way yet. Madam Longbottom had just fully thrown him into a war.

The silence of the room was becoming oppressive, and Harry thought everyone was just as surprised as him until he remembered he was meant to reply to her declaration. "Oh uh… the House of Potter will accept the aid of the House of Longbottom, and as your wands stand with ours our wands shall stand with yours. May our foes tremble at our combined might." The words felt hollow to Harry. Combined might? With the two Longbottoms they were now a force of five against who knows how many Death Eaters.

Fleur walked in front of Harry, and with a quick wink she said loudly, "The French House of Delacour and their ally Hermione Granger pledges itself to stand with the House of Potter, your enemies are our enemies, our wands will stand with you in your time of need."

Then from behind Harry came another voice. "The Ancient and Noble House of Black pledges itself to stand with the House of Potter, your enemies are our enemies, our wands will stand with you in your time of need." That was obviously Sirius.

God damn it Sirius, Harry thought. This is why you insisted I sit with you, I wanted to keep Grimmauld as a safe haven.' Harry waited just to see if anyone else was going to join in on his stunt that was meant to do no more than confirm to everyone exactly who the Death Eaters were, so that way people like Greengrass would keep training with them to preserve their status as neutral.

Harry turned to Fleur and looked her in the eyes and saw nothing but love and determination staring back at him. She knew his plans, he had discussed them all with the people he considered family. She had obviously asked her boss to attend so she could do just this. This was Fleur's way of saying that she was going to stand by him. She leant in and whispered, "Sorry for not telling you before, but this way you couldn't try to stop us."

Harry tried to glare at her for doing this but he couldn't. He understood exactly why they had done this and he would have done the exact same thing in their position. He sighed and took a deep breath before saying, "The House of Potter will accept the aid of the Houses of Black and Delacour and their allies. As your wands stand with ours, our wands shall stand with yours. May our foes tremble at our combined might."

That was the end of Harry's business but not the end of the Wizengamot meeting, so it was back to their chairs. The rest of the meeting was weird, as everyone was practically buzzing with excitement over what Harry had done. Yet at the same time, the wizards who were left to speak had the most boring topics to cover. One literally spent ten minutes talking about flobberworms, the one magical creature that was officially classified as boring.

It was clear that everyone wanted to get out of the meeting as soon as possible. The few members of the press that had bothered to come to the meeting wanted to get out and run to their papers with the news, and many of the warlocks wanted to run home and tell the latest gossip to their families. Though the ones Harry had just declared war on wanted to run back to the rest to tell them what had happened. Lastly, given the way the minister and the Aurors were looking at him, it was clear HarRy wasn't going to be getting back to the school for at least a few more hours.

-ϟϟϟ-

Harry and Fleur were now sitting in the minister's office sipping on what was probably some of the best firewhiskey made in Britain in the last century. He had just gotten off a mirror call with Hermione to explain what had happened to her and to ask her to inform the headmistress that he was going to be late. After the meeting was over, Auror Tonks, and it was Auror Tonks in her official capacity, had politely but firmly asked Harry to meet with Minister Bones in her office. Sirius was going to be busy giving a prepared statement to Rita Skeeter, as there were certain things Harry wanted in the Prophet tomorrow. Considering Harry was still technically a minor, Fleur had told her boss she was clocking off the day and insisted on accompanying Harry. Because of Harry's age Tonks, more so the minister, couldn't really object.

"So let me get this straight. You evoked an old law that hasn't been used for centuries, painted a target on your back for some of the most ruthless criminals in the country, all so that you could force the identity of the Death Eaters into the public eye and so you can legally kill them?" Minister Bones started.

"Not exactly," said Harry as he sipped on his drink, the alcohol helping to settle him now that the adrenaline had dropped from his system.

"Explain it then." Bones was not in the mood for games.

"Well for one, I already had the target on my back. Mask or not, they are the same people who would curse me in the back if they get the chance. As far as the target goes, all I have done is reveal it to more people. And I can do a lot more than kill the people I'm feuding with. In fact, if my plan goes off without a hitch," he held up a hand to forestall her objection, "like I said, if - I am fully aware of plans not surviving first contact with the enemy - if my plan works, then none of them will die. They are far more useful alive," Harry finished.

"And you think you can take them down and keep them locked up when the D.M.L.E. couldn't?" Tonks scoffed.

"Well you have to do weird shit like follow rules, gather evidence, get a warrant, give them a warning, and if you don't do everything by the book they end up back on the streets. I don't have to follow any rules like that. I can take them from their beds using every spell short of an Unforgivable, and they wake up in a cold dark room with no law wizard, no trial, and no one knowing where they are. It's a little easier when you don't actually have to act like a cop." Harry tried not to sound like he was calling the Aurors stupid; those rules were important most of the time. It's only with unusual cases like the Death Eaters that it became a hindrance.

Both Tonks and Bones stared at Harry. "You know we can't protect you any more right?" Tonks asked.

Fleur answered that. "Actually, you can to an extent. There is no indication that every Death Eater was named, and their masks are meant to conceal their identity. If they are wearing a mask, you have to treat them as if you have no clue who they are. The only way they can claim protection from the D.M.L.E. for anything they do to us is to reveal their identities. And if they do that, then you can still arrest them for being a Death Eater and the other crimes they have committed against other people. And if they were to just attack us without the masks, that would confirm to the public that they are in fact a Death Eater. It is about stripping them of their masks and hopefully exposing them enough that all the evidence the Aurors need is right there."

Minister Bones sighed, then fixed Harry with a tired look. "I haven't had an opportunity to read the laws you're using yet, but I doubt it just says any house can declare war on another anytime they want. There has to be some checks and balances. What are they?"

"Well, the declaring party has to state a legitimate reason for the feud when it's declared. There are very specific things that let you declare war: murder of a Warlock, attempting to end a line, killing an entire family, sustained financial attack, that sort of thing. Things that are already illegal and normally it's easier and safer to let the Aurors deal with it. It also has to be true, because in the three days before the fighting is permitted to start the accused have the right to present evidence to the Ministry. If the accusation is shown to be false, then the Ministry can declare the feud legally over and the accused can demand compensation."

Tonks interrupted. "That's why you offered a thousand Galleons as weregild."

Harry nodded. "Because by accepting the weregild they can't ask for more, and because I knew Warlock Greengrass would jump on the chance to make a thousand galleons so easily. When Warlock Greengrass gives his vow in front of everyone, they can't claim it's a ridiculous standard or that it's dangerous. Also, the other check against feuds is the Wizengamot. A two-thirds majority vote can end any ongoing feud. That doesn't put blame on anyone, though it's meant to be a way for the Wizengamot to just force the fighting to stop."

"Two thirds? I can get a two thirds majority to vote that they agree water is wet, but not much else," the minister said.

Tonks smiled and tried to lighten the mood. "But boss, water is what makes things wet, it cannot itself then be considered wet."

Minister Bones just groaned at her bodyguard's antics.

-ϟϟϟ-

After his meeting with the minister, Harry was pulled into an interview with the D.M.L.E. They wanted his statement over what had happened in the Wizengamot chamber, and they also wanted him to tell them exactly which laws he was using to declare the blood feud. Apparently it was so old and hadn't been used in so long that, while a few of them knew of the law, and none were clear on the specifics. As it was already well past ten at night, It was going to take until at least the next day when they could consult the legal professionals on the law, but it was clear to Harry at least, who had read the law in preparation for today, that Warlock Goyle was going to Azkaban. In this case, it was just (slightly) a pity that the prison wasn't the hellhole it used to be with the Dementors having left to join the Death Eaters.

Finally, Harry and Fleur were allowed to leave the Ministry. They Floo'ed from the Ministry to the house in Hogsmeade. Finally alone, Harry did what he had wanted to do since he had first been surprised by Fleur that morning and leaned in and gave her a kiss. Both of them were tired and Fleur practically melted into the kiss. The two stayed together like that for a few minutes, as much avoiding the reality of what he had done today as out of the genuine love and affection the two shared.

Once they broke the kiss and were just leaning together, each propping the other up, Harry asked. "What are you doing tomorrow?"

"I need to go to work. I have a meeting with the board of directors." Fleur didn't sound too thrilled about that.

"About what we did today?" Harry guessed. Fleur just nodded. It was sensible from her employer's point of view, she was in her first few weeks of her first year of her apprenticeship at the bank. No one in her position would be on the radar of anyone on the bank's board unless there was something outside of the bank, like the apprentice being a relative of the director or the apprentice was connected with a customer who was important enough to catch the board's attention.

"They will want a full report from my perspective." She added. "You should get going. Your headmistress is probably waiting for you to get back."

"Can't I just stay here?" He knew he couldn't, but he really wanted to just climb into his own bed and cuddle up with Fleur right now.

"You know you can't. I will speak with you tomorrow. Keep your mirror on you, and if I can get out of the bank early enough then you can ask permission for me to come visit you and Hermione for the afternoon. I'm sure your headmistress would understand, we have a lot to talk about."

There was a pause for a few seconds before Harry said, "You're gonna make me do the right thing, aren't you?" He was just playing for time so he wouldn't have to break the hug yet, and they both knew it so Fleur didn't say anything. After a few minutes they finally separated, and Harry turned back to the fire, grabbed a pinch of powder from their pot, and Floo'ed back to Hogwarts.

Fleur had been right, Professor McGonagall was waiting for him. She was sitting at her desk working on some paperwork when Harry arrived. She had immediately demanded a full explanation as to why he was so late when the Wizengamot meeting had ended hours ago. He explained what exactly he had done that day in the Wizengamot, and how it had led to the Goyle warlock trying to kill him and two meetings he couldn't exactly say no to.

To say the headmistress was disturbed by the fact that one of her students had just declared war on a terrorist organisation would be a massive understatement, one that was only dwarfed a few minutes later when she realised that the war extended to students in her school. It was only Harry quickly informing her that the school was neutral ground where they were subject to the same rules and laws they would be if there was no feud. "Basically, according to the law, school is for learning, not wars between the students. Hell, feuding students even trying to violate the peace of the school is a major offence. Anything more than a stray spell in class could land the caster a five year sentence in Azkaban. Same if you involve anyone who isn't part of the feud."

The professor started to rub her head like she was getting a headache. "Mr Potter, do me a favour. You and your friends shouldn't be seen tomorrow morning. We both know how some of the students will react to learning about the feud, I would very much appreciate having the opportunity to talk to those students and explain the restrictions before they charge in and do something stupid."

Harry agreed, and he was finally given leave to go to bed. He did run into Filch on the way back to the tower, but the pass he had from the headmistress was enough that all the man could do was grumble about not being able to use his well maintained collection of thumb screws.

Hermione was of course still waiting for him in the common room, despite the fact that it was almost midnight by the time he got there. She even had a plate of ham and cheese sandwiches that she pushed towards him, and considering Harry hadn't really had much to eat since lunch he fell on the sandwiches hungrily.

"So what did McGonagall say?" Hermione asked, but when she saw Harry's confused look and his mouth was full of a bite of sandwich she added. "Fleur called me when you left and told me the short version of what happened and why you're so late. When you didn't arrive within five minutes I checked the map and saw you talking to Professor McGonagall."

Harry nodded in understanding, and once he had finished his bite he told her everything that he had talked to the headmistress about. Hermione nodded at that and then called on Sassy. When the elf popped in looking sleepy, Hermione apologised for waking her but had her deliver a message to Daphne, Tracey, Luna, Hannah, and Susan to not bother with breakfast next morning, but instead they were to go directly to the Room of Requirement. She gave Sassy another message for Dobby to provide breakfast for them all in the morning, and told Harry it was on him to tell Ron and Neville.

Considering that neither of them had seen the other all day, they were reluctant to part after Harry had finished eating, but it was also late and they were too tired to consider sneaking off to the Room of Requirement, so it was with reluctance the two teens split to return to their own dorms. Harry was asleep almost the second his head hit the pillow.

-ϟϟϟ-

It was a rather grumpy group that met in the Room of Requirement the next morning. The Slytherin and Hufflepuff girls were particularly sour given they had had to climb up a lot of stairs before breakfast, but the urgency of the message they had gotten from Sassy in the middle of the night was enough to have them all here. The grumpiness was quickly abated when they found what Dobby had done for breakfast, Hogwarts breakfasts were good but it was practically impossible to beat Dobby's skill at breakfast.

Luna was the last to arrive, and she was the only one who looked like she wouldn't rather be back in her bed. Once everyone was well fed, Daphne demanded answers. "Okay Harry, we know what you did yesterday but why couldn't we go to breakfast?"

Harry had indeed told everyone here about what he was doing, it had the potential to pull them, as his friends, into the fighting. He had needed their support before he moved forward. "Well, there is probably going to be a newspaper article and letters arriving soon telling all the baby Death Eaters I declared war on their families, got the Goyle warlock thrown in prison for attempted murder, and the House of Longbottom pledges its support." Neville stared at Harry in surprise at his words, but Harry continued to answer Daphne's question. "The headmistress wanted an opportunity to talk to them before they saw us, to tell them that the law says that feuds don't apply at Hogwarts, they will face five years in Azkaban if they try to start a fight, zero tolerance, don't do anything stupid. You know the stuff."

"So they are gonna try something by the end of the day," said Ron.

"I doubt it." Luna said. "It's a Hogsmeade weekend next week. They will see the obvious loophole and will try to attack when off the school grounds."

"Can I pull you back to the part about House Longbottom pledging their support? I think that's kind of relevant," Neville asked.

"Um yeah as soon as I was finished with my declarations your grandmother stood up and pledged the support of House Longbottom, before Sirius did the same for House Black. Fleur, who was there as a Gringotts employee, also pledged her support and the support of her ally Hermione," Harry finished, giving Hermione a significant look before he turned back to Neville.

"Well, that saves me having to convince her to join," Neville shrugged.

"None of you were meant to join. It was just supposed to be me," Harry said, his voice telling everyone that he wished they would stay safe.

"And me and Daph, or did you forget we are part of the House of Potter?" Tracey demanded.

"No, but I gave Daphne's grandfather a wake up call yesterday. There is a good chance he will let Daphne go home and may even accept you too. Or there was always the option to register you with the House of Black but Sirius broke that plan by jumping in."

"You mean he acted like a Gryffindor, how shocking," mocked Daphne. "Now what's this about a wakeup call for my grandfather?"

Harry explained how he had accused him of being a Death Eater, knowing he would grab at the opportunity of a thousand Galleons, after all what would he lose? But how Harry had then used that to show the vows were harmless if you were innocent, and then proceeded to accuse a lot of the upstanding people that Warlock Greengrass had considered friends. People who didn't take the simple vow to prove their innocence.

"There will be no invite coming to me any time soon, Harry. Grandfather is a stubborn bastard. He will drop Malfoy and the others like a stone. That's way too much evidence for him to risk his neutral status by assisting with them. Good job on that, by the way, he will also stop selling to them and that will make it harder for them to get a lot of stuff like rare potions ingredients. However, he won't admit he was wrong to me yet. It will take him months, maybe even years to work up to that," Daphne said, and it was only because they knew her so well that they were able to see she was putting on a front. She may not care much about her grandfather, but he was keeping her away from her parents and sister and that was something she very much cared about.

"So what is your actual plan, Harry?" asked Ron.

Harry shrugged. "The basic plan is pretty simple. I intend to capture Death Eaters and force them to sign a magically binding unconditional surrender," he explained. "How that will work will take a lot of planning, and I will probably need a different plan for each Death Eater."

"How are you going to keep them prisoner? That seems really difficult," asked Luna.

"The goblins have agreed to help me with that-" Harry started.

Ron butted in. "Bloody hell, you convinced the goblins to get involved? I thought that was impossible."

Harry sighed. "Not really. Technically I'm paying the goblins, they are acting as mercenaries. Legally, everything they do falls back on my head. But I offered the goblins something that they value more than gold."

"Goblin artefacts!" Ron interjected again. "My brother Bill told me all about how goblins consider most of the goblin artefacts we own as stolen. Did you find a load of them hidden in your house or something?"

Harry grinned. "Nope, and goblins like to gamble. I guaranteed them that for every unconditional surrender I got, they could take every single goblin made item from their Gringotts vaults. The goblins have some old mines somewhere that they have converted into cells. Each prisoner will be fitted with magic suppressing manacles and kept in total isolation until either they or their warlock signs an unconditional surrender. Though I'm considering adding the Mr Blobby song on constant repeat. Should speed up how fast they sign."

"Harry, you can't do that, the Blobby song is torture," Hermione shuddered. "That song is cruel and unusual."

Harry laughed. He was the only one there who knew what Hermione was talking about. "That's not a problem Hermione. Wizarding Britain hasn't signed on to the Geneva Convention. I'm not even sure they could, each house may need to sign on separately?"

Hermione was about to answer when Dobby popped in with a stack of the Daily Prophet. They each grabbed one, and as Harry expected he had made the front page. 'Boy-Who-Lived declares blood feud on Death Eater families' was written boldly over the top of the page, and the photo was of him dodging the spell Warlock Goyle used to try and kill him. There was silence for a few minutes while they all read the article.

Yesterday during the quarterly extended Wizengamot session, Harry Potter, 'The-Boy-Who-Lived' and Warlock of the House of Potter, stood up to speak. There was some anticipation over what he was going to say, and as someone who was there watching I can say he didn't disappoint. The young warlock used old laws that haven't been invoked for generations to declare blood feud on people he suspected to be Death Eaters.

The exact rules to blood feuds will be on page 3, provided to this paper by Sirius Black on behalf of Harry Potter. However one of the laws seems to be that each warlock had the opportunity to refute the claims made by Harry Potter. Warlock Potter accused a large number of families, and of them only two refuted his claim. The first was Warlock Greengrass, who took a magical vow that he and his family were not involved with the Death Eaters. The second was Warlock Rookwood, who again under oath claimed that his house as a whole did not support the Death Eaters and disavowed the actions of Augustus Rookwood, convicted Death Eater and Azkaban escapee.

Warlock Potter paid each man 1000 galleons in apology for the insult. Of the other families' warlocks accused who were at the Wizengamot meeting, Warlocks Carrow, Crabbe, Goyle, Macnair, Nott, and Yaxley, not one offered a word in their defence even after seeing Warlock Potter apologise when he was wrong and pay weregild for the insult. To further compound their apparent guilt, Warlock Goyle tried to kill Warlock Potter right in the middle of his presentation.

After a section talking about how Harry was being joined by Houses Black, Delacour, and Longbottom, the paper went on to recap the entire event, taking time to point out just how guilty the people who refused to give a vow looked. Only then did the paper have the information Harry wanted added. It informed everyone that they couldn't fight in Hogwarts or the Ministry, and that there could be no fighting for three days after the declaration. Most importantly, each of the people accused, even if they weren't at the Wizengamot meeting, could go to the Ministry and give their vow in front of Ministry witnesses, end the feud on them, and net themselves a thousand galleons. After the fighting had started, they could still go to the Ministry and give the vow, only there wouldn't be a weregild.

It then added something Harry wasn't expecting, a piece of speculation that was right on the nose. If the accused could use the three days to put up their defence to the Ministry, then if some other warlocks wanted to sign their families up to join the feud, they probably could as well. Harry read that part multiple more times, then just let his head fall onto the table. "Why can't a plan not fall apart just once?"

A/N

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