Disclaimer: I'm too young to be Rowling so there is sadly no way Harry Potter is mine…

Parts of JK Rowling's HP7, end scene between Harry and Voldemort; and HP4, graveyard scene.

Inspired by Mono Inc.'s "Potter's Field" ; excerpts from Skillet's song "Monster"

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The secret side of me, I never let you see
I keep it caged but I can't control it

… … …

Albus Dumbledore stood outside of Alastor Moody's – Barty Crouch Junior's – office, staring out of a window towards the Forbidden Forest. There was a murder of crows gathering above it. His hand clenched around nothing. It was slightly burned, a bit blackened with soot.

The last half an hour had been one happening after the other. First, Harry and Cedric had returned from who knows where. Harry hadn't said.

'Voldemort returned,' had been the only thing Harry had told him – the boy oddly calm after facing his enemy. Albus had to admit that he was relieved that for all that happened, surprisingly, both Hogwarts' champions had returned alive and more or less in one piece. He had expected that Voldemort would have ensured that Cedric would die.

Albus swallowed, his eyes turning towards his soot-covered hand.

The soot was a greyish covering on his pale skin. Albus opened his hand and looked at his palm. The soot inside his palm was even darker than outside. Inside his palm, the soot looked black. It also looked a bit like a shadowy bird.

Albus Dumbledore clenched and unclenched his fist, his eyes fixated on his empty palm.

After Alastor Moody had left with Harry, Albus had started to suspect his friend. He had taken Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape and followed the Death Eater. They had barely been on time. Crouch Junior had had his wand in his hand, with Harry standing in front of him, unarmed and helpless. It had only been their stunners that had saved the boy.

And it had been the stunner he himself had shot that had sealed his fate.

The wand.

The Elder Wand – the wand he had gained from Gellert Grindelwald; one third of the Deathly Hallows – had burst into flames in his hand. It had burned to ashes within seconds, only leaving black soot looking like a bird as evidence in his palm.

It had only been years of experience in politics as well as the concern he had for the real Alastor Moody that kept his reactions in check.

Albus flexed his hand again.

He was sure that nobody – not Minerva nor Severus or Harry – had noticed that Albus had lost his wand. They had all been too preoccupied with Moody to see it when Albus wand had burst into flames and it had been gone before one of them had turned back to him.

Two seconds.

Two seconds had been all it had taken to go from owning the most powerful wand of the world to watching the ashes of the wand being carried away by the wind.

"Are you alright, Albus?" Albus looked up and into Minerva's eyes. He still felt out of it. Originally, he had planned to sent Harry to his office to hear the full story. Originally, he had planned to sent for the Weasleys and to go with Harry to Sirius who was waiting for them in Albus' office.

Now, Sirius was still waiting alone in his office, the Weasleys were somewhere on the grounds and Harry had gone to the hospital wing on Albus beheads.

Albus on the other hand felt off kilter, the loss of his wand unexpected and frightening when pairing it with Voldemort's return. Nevertheless, Albus also knew that he had to act strong and unflappable right now. So, he pushed back his worries and answered Minerva with a half-truth that wouldn't give away what had happened.

"I'm fine, Minerva," he said with a sigh and shook his head tiredly. "I'm just a bit exhausted."

His hand clenched again around nothing and when Minerva looked at him in disbelief, he added, "I mean it, Minerva. I'm alright."

It was a lie.

The wand.

His wand was gone.

It had burned to ashes after serving him for decades without fault.

And Albus had no explanation, no reason – just the soot shaped like a bird in his hand.

"The Minister is coming," Minerva said, her voice was cool and she sounded as if she disapproved of the fact that the Minister was on the way. "I still think we should have called the DMLE instead of agreeing for the Minister to come like he insisted."

"He is the minister," Albus reminded Minerva with a sigh. "If he wishes to come and see to Barty Crouch Jr. himself, then that's his decision."

"We should ensure that some Aurors come, nevertheless," Minerva countered, her voice slightly lilting with her Scottish brogue. "Like that, the Minister won't be able to silence Crouch."

Albus frowned. "You think he plans to silence him?"

"He will want to stick him back into Azkaban without another trial," Minerva said thickly. "Like that, nobody will ever hear about any deeds Mr. Crouch has done while he was free. If Mr. Crouch had other victims while being free, we will never know!"

"His priority will have been the resurrection of Voldemort, Minerva," Albus said calmly. "I doubt that he will have had time for any other deeds. We caught him just shortly after he fulfilled what he sees as his duty, after all."

Minerva just frowned.

"That doesn't mean that he didn't commit crimes in the name of fulfilling his duty, as you called it!" she countered coolly, her Scotty brogue thickening. "Crouch should be brought to justice!"

"I'm aware," Albus agreed and closed his eyes. Most likely, Fudge would ensure that Crouch would vanish into Azkaban without ever being heard from again. Like that, they would lose a valuable witness when it came to the return of Voldemort. Without Crouch's interrogation and his testimony about Voldemort's return, Albus had the bitter feeling that Fudge was more than prepared to stick his head in the sand. The man was a peace-loving fool, unwilling to accept even the possibility for another war.

Of course, as of now, they only had Barty Crouch Jr.'s veritaserum-induced testimony and Harry's single sentence to that fact. Albus was more than well aware that he would need the whole story from Harry to understand what happened.

He wanted to sigh and rub his eyes. With Barty Crouch Jr. as good as back in Azkaban, Harry was the only who could give testimony of Voldemort's return. After the articles of Rita Skeeter in the past year, Albus was more than aware that it would be easy to dismiss the boy as attention seeking and maybe insane.

"I'm well aware that if Cornelius will manage to get Barty into Azkaban without being interrogated by Aurors we will lose more than just a way to ensure justice," Albus finally said after a moment of silence. "He is one of our few witnesses for the return of Voldemort."

A credible witness if veritaserum was used, since Harry's words could be discounted easily.

"Mr. Diggory might have also seen him," Minerva reminded him.

Albus just sighed. He still had no idea how the other boy survived but he doubted that Voldemort had kept him deliberately alive. It was more likely that the boy had barely escaped his death by falling unconscious instead of dying. If that was the case, then the boy most likely hadn't seen anything of importance and therefore wouldn't count as a witness even if he might end up believing Harry.

"I fear he might not have," Albus said gravely. "Whoever helped Voldemort return most likely tried to kill the boy before he could ruin their plans. Just the fact that he survived is a miracle – I doubt that we were lucky enough for him to see Voldemort as well."

There, Albus hesitated for a moment and contemplated his words.

"And even if he did," he added calmly. "Mr. Diggory's words are as easily dismissed as Harry's what with the experience clearly being traumatic."

Minerva frowned at him.

"You think Mr. Diggory's and Mr. Potter's words will be dismissed?" she asked.

"Since Cornelius already refuses to let us call the Aurors and wants to see to Barty Crouch Jr. himself, instead?" Albus looked at Minerva gravely. "I fear that that's exactly what he will do."

Again, he curled his sooty hand around the thin air, then he shook his head as if to clear it.

"It doesn't matter right now," he decided and then turned finally away from the wall in Moody's office he had been staring at. "We can always ensure that an Auror will interrogate Barty Crouch Jr. later on – even if he will end up in Azkaban without an interrogation, for the moment. There are other things we have to worry about at first."

They needed to plan and recruit and Albus needed the full story of what happened on the graveyard.

"I will need to talk to Harry," he decided, "but first, I need to get to my office."

He needed his old wand and also had to collect Sirius. Harry could use the support of his godfather right now.

"You will need to do more than just that," Minerva said with a frown on her face. "While talking to Mr. Potter and Mr. Diggory –" Albus could hear the reprimand in her voice. "– should be a priority, there's also the fact that the Minister –"

"I fear what the Minister is planning for his interrogation Barty Crouch Jr. is nothing that we can handle," Albus interrupted her. "He already told us that he would send for someone to guard him while he interrogates Barty."

"He will call one of his lackeys who will do exactly wha' he says!" Minerva immediately objected. "Crouch will most likely end up in Azkaban withou' anybody knowin' what he has been up tae by mornin'!"

"That's what will most likely happen," Albus agreed gravely.

"Ye cannae plan tae let the Minister get away with tha'!" Minerva said outraged, her Scottish brogue thickening the more she said. "We should at leas' try an' talk tae someone else at the ministry… like Amelia Bones… tae ensure tha' somebody the knows tha' Fudge is plannin' tae break the law by throwing someone withou' a trial intae Azkaban!"

"Crouch Jr. already had a trial, once," Albus reminded Minerva.

"Nae for this!" Minerva countered immediately. "Who knows wha' else he did while he was walkin' free! He shoul've another trial!"

"We can't afford dissent right now, Minerva!" Albus looked at her gravely. "If we want to survive the upcoming storm, we will have to act in concert."

"I doub' we can act in concert if ye allow the Minister tae stick his head in the sand!" Minerva countered heatedly, her Scottish brogue lacing each word.

"Minerva…" Albus trailed off when the witch glared at him before he finally shook his head and sighed. "Cornelius will come around. He's still processing. If we go behind his back and report him right now then he will dick his heels in."

Minerva's glare intensified.

"Believe me, Minerva, he will come around," Albus assured her.

"Oan yer bike pal," Minerva growled at him, sounding more like an angry cat about to strike than the sever professor Albus usually dealt with.

Apparently, Minerva wasn't ready to listen to him right now. Albus had heard that declaration from the Transfiguration Professor before and decided to take the cue. With an 'I fear I will have to talk to Harry now before he falls asleep' he took his tactical retreat before the temperamental Scottish witch decided to curse him for good measure before she went and lay siege to the Ministry.

Of course, Albus didn't immediately go towards the hospital wing and Harry. He was quite aware that if he left Sirius alone in his office any longer, the animagus would leave on his own to look for Harry.

Not to mention that Albus felt quite naked without a wand.

With that thought, Albus turned towards his office. When he finally reached it, Sirius was still inside. He was standing at the window, his face white and gaunt, looking outside towards the gathering of crows over the Forbidden Forest.

"It's a curious thing that we call something so innocent as a gathering of crows a murder, isn't it?" Albus asked and also looked outside, startling the former prisoner of Azkaban.

Sirius scoffed and then turned, with concern written all over his body.

"I knew it – I knew something like this – what happened?" he asked and pushed his hand nervously through his wild hair before he settled and glared at Albus instead.

"Where's Harry?" he added before he repeated more forcefully. "What happened, Dumbledore?"

Albus sighed and then stepped around his desk. He opened one of the drawers and pulled out his old wand to add it to the sheath where once the Elder Wand had rested.

"I haven't talked to Harry, yet," he admitted. "So, I can't say. From the few things that were said the only thing I know for sure right now, is that Voldemort returned."

Sirius's fingers clenched.

"Where's Harry?" he repeated.

"In the hospital wing, most likely sleeping," Albus said before gesturing Sirius to follow. "If you turn, you can accompany me there. I hope that I might get the full story from him now instead of having to wait until tomorrow."

Sirius frowned. "Don't you think that he went through enough today if V…Voldemort really returned? Shouldn't you let him sleep it off for now?"

"I fear that taking action now might be crucial. For all that we know, a day or a few hours might be what will help us win the war in the end," Albus countered. Sirius pressed his lips together.

"He should have a right to rest. A few hours won't make a difference," he countered stubbornly.

"There are things that should be done as soon as possible," Albus countered. "We need to have our bases covered and for that, I need to know the information the boy can give me."

When Sirius continued to glare, Albus added, "believe me, Sirius, if I had the choice, I would refrain from dragging up those memories for Harry. But there is a chance that he might have seen something to our advantage without realizing it. Speaking to him now, when the memory is fresh, is the best thing we can do."

Sirius acquiesced, but nevertheless added, "I still don't like it, Dumbledore."

"Neither do I, my boy," Albus agreed and Sirius sighed. For a moment, the former prisoner of Azkaban threw another look out of the window, his face now thoughtful but not less troubled by what his godson had experienced.

Albus followed his gaze.

"You know, my boy, I think I heard Minerva say once that in the muggle world, people believe that seeing a murder of crows is a bad portent," he said thoughtfully. "They're seen as harbingers of death, and all that."

Sirius snorted in amusement.

"I think I'll start worrying when I start seeing the grim," he said with a grin pasted on his face that looked painful instead full of mirth. "And I should be safe from seeing the grim as long as I don't walk in front of a mirror while in my animagus form."

"That's the spirit, my boy," Albus cheerfully agreed.

For a moment, Albus' gaze returned to the window and the murder of crows over the Forbidden Forest. He rubbed his soot-stained hand and then shook his head in amusement.

"Let's go and see Harry," he said, his gaze returning to Sirius. "Unless you want to wait until he sleeps?" There was a twinkle in his eyes when he spoke.

Sirius snorted. "No, thank you," he answered dryly and gestured towards Albus' office door. "After you, Dumbledore."

They left Albus' office, Sirius turning into his animagus form before he slipped out of the office door after the headmaster.

When they reached the hospital wing, the first thing Albus noticed was the calmness and tiredness Harry displayed. Whatever had happened while he and Cedric had been missing, must have been dangerous. From the way Harry was tilting into his cushions, he was already way on the way of having an adrenaline crash.

"It's good to see you still awake, my boy," Albus greeted him jovially.

Harry and Cedric exchanged a glance with each other. It was clear to Albus that the two boys had bonded over whatever had happened.

Albus pulled out his wand and called a chair over so that he could take a seat at the foot of the two occupied beds. Sirius, on the other hand, jumped on top of Harry's duvet. The boy immediately raised his hand and curled his fingers into Sirius' coat.

"Harry, my boy," Albus said. "I know you're exhausted, but I need to know what happened after you touched the Portkey in the maze."

The boy frowned, but didn't say anything. Instead, his fingers tightened in Sirius' fur for a moment, before he uncurled them and started to pet it instead, following the motion with his eyes. He was clearly unwilling to talk. His eyes were drooping and he looked as if he desperately needed rest.

"I know you're tired, Harry," Albus said gently and leaned forward in his chair while trying to meet Harry's eyes. "Believe me, if I thought I could help you by putting you in an enchanted sleep, I would do so, but I know better. Postponing what happened will not help you. It will only make it worse when you have to remember it, in the end. We can't leave this until morning. I know you have shown bravery beyond what anybody could expect of you tonight, and what I ask of you is hard, but I hope you will demonstrate your courage one more time. I ask you to tell me what happened."

For a moment, Harry's hand stilled and his eyes seemed to flash with supernatural light, his body slightly strumming with tension. Harry's eyes fixed on his hand and then he slowly and deliberately restarted stroking Sirius' fur. With his eyes now fixed on the motion of his hand it looked as if he was actually contemplating ignoring Albus' words but then he sighed nearly silently and relaxed back into the pillows again. Harry lifted his eyes and looked towards the window and the sky darkened by a murder of crows. The motion of the boy's hand stopped and his hand started to hold onto the strands of Sirius' fur instead.

"Voldemort returned," Harry finally repeated as if he hadn't said the same thing before. There was something thoughtful and at the same time judgemental in the boy's absent gaze, as if he was evaluating Albus and not too sure he liked what he saw.

"I need the details, my boy," Albus said and supressed a sigh. "I know you said that Voldemort returned, but I need to know how. I need to know everything from the beginning, from the time after you touched the Portkey in the maze."

Harry crooked his head and his hand tightened in Sirius fur until the Azkaban-escapee whined in discomfort. Immediately, Harry loosened his hold on Sirius again and petted him instead as if he really was a dog.

His gaze met Cedric Diggory's and when the other boy nodded, Harry finally took a deep breath and started to speak, recounting the events of his and Cedric Diggory's kidnapping.

Once or twice Sirius made a noise that sounded as if he would have spoken up if he had been in human form, but otherwise, he kept his silence and instead pressed himself closer to Harry as if to comfort the boy wordlessly as well as he could.

Nevertheless, there was a part in Harry's recounting on how Wormtail attacked them before Voldemort resurrected himself through a potion and then fought against Harry that actually surprised Albus enough that he interrupted the boy himself to clarify some more.

"A killing curse?" Albus couldn't help but ask when Harry spoke of the curse that had been aimed at Cedric.

"I dodged, barely," Cedric elaborated before Harry had to. "But I hit my head. I was out cold for most of Harry's interaction with… You-Know-Who."

Albus could hear the slight break before Cedric uttered the name most people used for Voldemort and he couldn't help but wonder what else Cedric had originally planned to call Tom Riddle and why he had amended it. How much had the boy been traumatized by Voldemort's return and how much would he panic when he understood that war was inevitable? It was clear that both, he and Harry, were still in shock, but unlike Harry's reactions, Albus didn't even pretend to know how Cedric would react.

Nonetheless, Albus couldn't help but meet the older boy's eyes, sending a tiny Legilimency probe towards Cedric Diggory's mind in the hope to get a better picture of the boy's mental state. Sadly, reaching out and probing the boy's mind only left Albus slightly dizzy and still without answers. It felt like there was a barrier between the boy's mind and Albus' - not one of a trained Occlumens, but one that seemed to exist thanks to a unbreachable, fundamentally difference between Cedric's brain and Albus'. It felt, as if the boy was thinking on a whole different level than Albus - something that was impossible, of course.

Albus wondered if it had been the trauma that changed the boy's mind in such a way or if he had always been so different in his thinking and the only reason Albus had never know had been because he had never gone and looked.

It was an interesting thought, even though it was not one he would ever know the answer of.

"Harry, please continue, my boy," he said instead, dismissing his thoughts about Cedric's unusual brain from his mind and turning back to the currently quiet younger boy and his story. He already knew from the memories he had gleaned from Harry's mind that the younger boy had thought Cedric dead.

There was also a foreign, statical feeling to Harry's mind, as if his mind was sending on a slightly different frequency than Albus' was used to receiving. Something had changed, but Albus was sure that he could find an explanation as long as Harry finished telling his story.

The boy continued.

When Harry told of Wormtail piercing his arm with the dagger, however, Albus stood up quickly, taking the two steps to Harry's bed. There was something resigned in Harry's gaze, but he willingly lifted his hand to show Albus where his robes had been torn and the already healing cut beneath, he had suffered thanks to Wormtail's dagger.

"He said that my blood would make him stronger than anybody else's," Harry told him emotionlessly. His eyes looked dead when he recounted that titbit as if he wasn't afraid at all of the fact that Voldemort had used his blood in his resurrection. "He said that with that, he'd have the protection of my mother, too. He could touch me, afterwards."

When Albus heard that Voldemort had taken Harry's blood, triumph cursed through him.

Voldemort had taken Harry's blood.

Their connection was complete.

Now, there was a slight chance that the Potter line wouldn't end with Harry.

He supressed the feeling of triumph and instead just said. "Very well. It seems as if Tom overcame that particular barrier. Please continue, my boy."

Harry crooked his head, his eyes studying Albus for a second. Most likely, he had caught the flicker of triumph in Albus eyes than he hadn't been able to supress in time. Then, Harry sighed and continued. When he reached the part where he had been hit with a Cruciatus curse, Albus suddenly found the answer to the different feeling of Harry's mind.

The elder Longbottoms who had lost their sanity to the Cruciatus curse felt even more static than Harry, their minds inaccessible to Albus ever since they had been tortured to insanity by the Lestranges.

Apparently, when Harry suffered the Cruciatus curse, his brain had been at least slightly affected by it, too. The boy didn't act as if he had gone slightly insane thanks to the curse, so Albus guessed that the static feeling would vanish again over time. Thankfully, Albus only needed a slight Legilimency connection to ensure that Harry didn't leave anything off and didn't lie. Everything else, Albus could gleam from Harry's words and not his thoughts.

Of course, then Harry reached the part where he and Voldemort started their duel. The retelling of the connection between his wand and Voldemort's was a surprise to Albus and for a moment, he wished he could have seen the uncommon event of two wands connecting with each other through beams of light.

"Priori Incantatem," he muttered to himself.

"The reverse spell effect," Cedric said, surprising Albus with his unexpected knowledge. "Harry's and You-Know-Who's wands share cores?"

"Shared," Harry corrected the other boy immediately. "My wand burned to ashes when I broke the connection."

He lifted his hand and showed off the soot-stained palm. The stain looked like a bird, quite similar to Albus' from the Elder wand when it had burst into flames in his own.

"Your wand burned?" Albus asked concerned.

Harry just hummed. "I'm not dead," he countered. "It could be worse."

Which was true, but the fact that the boy had lost his wand was unfortunate, nonetheless. His wand had been another weapon against Voldemort – a weapon Harry had now lost – not to mention that getting a new wand after Voldemort's return would be dangerous. It wasn't a good idea to allow the boy to roam Diagon Alley, but Harry would have to go to the alley if he wanted to get a new wand. A wand, unlike a cauldron, could only be bought by the one who would use it.

"We will see what to do about your lack of wand," Albus finally decided with a sigh.

Harry shrugged.

"I'm fine," he said. "After all, Hogwarts is the safest place in the world." He side-eyed Albus at that, his eyes gleaming in an unnatural green light.

For a moment, Albus wondered if Harry had meant those words sarcastically, but, in the end, he decided to take them as a fundamental trust in his ability to keep the students of Hogwarts safe, instead.

"You will be safe at the Dursleys', too," he assured the boy.

Harry raised an eyebrow.

"Even with Voldemort having my blood cursing through his veins?" he inquired innocently.

Albus sighed. "I doubt he will come to the muggle world himself," he countered calmly, fully aware that Tom would most likely start with gathering forces and staying in the shadows. He would use every minute he could get to ensure that he would have the advantage against the ministry and with Cornelius' fear, it seems as if the chances were high that Tom would have a lot of time to strengthen his forces before his return would be known. Albus dismissed those dark thoughts and elaborated what he knew of Tom's modus operandi, "and his followers still won't be able to enter."

Albus would also ensure that there was a guard on Harry every minute of the day just in case.

Harry just hummed noncommittally and instead selected to continue with his story. He skipped to after his wand having burned when the connection between his and Voldemort's wand broke. For a brief moment, Harry hesitated, after mentioning the breaking connection, then he added slowly, "I got away with some help."

"Some help?" Albus inquired.

Harry looked out of the window, watching the crows.

"The lost ones helped me," he said nearly silently, and surprisingly calm.

Albus raised an eyebrow at those words.

"Lost ones?" he repeated.

"Those who fell to the soul stealer, the soul breaker," Harry said. "The killing curse."

A curious expression. Albus wondered how Harry came to the conclusion that the killing curse was a soul stealer. Sadly, Albus couldn't object to Harry's view of the killing curse being a soul breaker, even though it was curious that Harry thought of the killing curse like that.

Albus hummed. "You mean that your wand forced Voldemort's to regurgitate its last spells and the echoes of those who were killed by him returned?" he inquired. While Harry hadn't mentioned anything about his fight with Voldemort except that the wands had connected and that his wand had burned at the end, Albus knew how Priori Incantatem usually worked and he guessed that it hadn't been Harry who had lost the duel of wills between his and Voldemort's wands. If he had, Albus was sure that Harry would have been dead.

As it was, Voldemort's wand would have been forced to show an echo of the spells it had cast last in their reverse order – and Albus was sure that Tom Marvolo Riddle had killed in the not too far past.

"Yes," Harry said calmly, still not looking at Albus. "Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins and my parents. They helped me to reach Cedric and the Portkey."

Albus startled at the first name. "Frank Bryce?" he had never heard of the man before and wasn't too sure how Harry knew the name of a victim of Voldemort who Albus wasn't even aware of.

"He was the none-magical gardener of the former Riddle family," Harry said emotionlessly, still looking out of the window instead of into Albus' eyes.

"He told you?" Albus asked. It was the only explanation how Harry could have known the old man's name.

"He wasn't buried," Harry said as if it was an answer. "He needs to be buried."

"Is that what he told you, Harry?" Albus inquired and leaned forward. "If that's what he wants, then tell me where he died and we will see to it that he's buried."

For a moment Harry said nothing, his hand slowly and rhythmically patting Sirius. Then he sighed and uttered an address without removing his gaze from the window and the crows outside.

"After I reached Cedric and the Portkey, we came back," Harry finally concluded his tale. His hand stopped its movement and his gaze returned to Albus. "I'm tired, Professor. Can I sleep now?"

"Of course," Albus immediately agreed. He stood up and opened his mouth to tell the two boys goodnight before ordering Sirius out and send him to gather the old crowd, but before he could, the doors of the hospital wing burst open and Fudge strode in.

"Dumbledore!" he exclaimed, but before he could say anything, Severus and Minerva entered on his heels.

"Minerva? What's the meaning of this?" Albus asked, his gaze settling on the Transfiguration Professor who looked to be fuming.

"He – the Minister – brought a Dementor to – "

"It was my right to protect myself!" Fudge immediately interrupted her. "I'm the Minister of Magic and –"

"The moment that – that thing entered the room," Minerva spoke loudly over the Minister's words, "it swooped down and – and –"

Albus immediately understood what happened. The dementor had taken Crouch's soul. He grimaced and mentally sighed while Fudge started to rant. "See here, Dumbledore. You can't seriously believe that – You-Know-Who – back? Come now, come now… certainly, Crouch may have believed himself to be acting upon You-Know-Who's orders – but to take the word of a lunatic like that, Dumbledore…"

Albus tried to argue, but no matter what he said, it was soon clear that the Minister had made up his mind. It was surprising that Harry wasn't arguing at all for what he had seen. Instead, the boy had crooked his head and his fingers had curled around some strands of Sirius' hair. While Minerva and even Severus tried to argue with Fudge, Harry's gaze returned to the window, as if he was magically attracted by the sight of the Forbidden Forest.

"I don't know what you and your staff are playing at, Dumbledore, but I have heard enough," Fudge declared in the end. His voice sounded final. "I have no more to add. I will be in touch with you tomorrow, Dumbledore, to discuss the running of the school. I must return to the Ministry."

Then he first looked at Cedric and then at Harry. He grimaced while looking at the later, but Harry didn't return the gaze, instead preferring to stare out of the window.

With a deep breath, Fudge finally stepped in between the beds of the two boys and set down a bag. "Your winnings," he declared, not looking at either one. "One thousand Galleons – for both of you. There should have been a presentation ceremony, but in the circumstances…" He glared at Harry.

Harry turned his head and returned his gaze. The boy's eyes seemed to be supernaturally bright in the weaning light of the day, as if they were glowing from within, fuelled by a killing curse.

"Thank you, Minister," he said calmly, surprisingly unbothered by the unvoiced accusations the Minister had uttered at him. Then he crooked his head at the man thoughtfully. Fudge on the other hand turned around and heeded for the door without looking back at anyone.

"Minister!" Harry exclaimed shortly before Fudge reached the door. Fudge stiffened, but in the end looked over his shoulder at Harry. "I hope you know what you're doing." The boy's eyes were glowing eerily. "We don't want you trying to kill a Potter in their kingdom, after all."

Fudge glared, while Albus threw a surprised look at Harry. He hadn't expected that Harry knew the wizarding expression of 'killing a Potter in their kingdom' for being stupid – and he had even less expected that Harry would actually use it. It was very seldom that the Potter family used that saying as far as Albus knew.

"I'm sure that's the last thing I would do," Fudge finally said and then turned back towards the door and marched out.

Harry hummed. "We'll see, Fudge, we'll see."

Then his eyes met Albus, before Harry looked down towards Sirius and started to pet his godfather as if he was a real dog again.

Albus sighed and watched Fudge go. He had hoped that the Minister would come around, but apparently, it wasn't meant to be.

"Mr Potter's right," Minerva said glaring at Fudge's retreating back. "The Minister's abou' tae kill a Potter in their kingdom."

Albus sighed and then shook his head. Instead of saying something to Minerva's comment, he decided to send her to get Hagrid, instead. Someone would have to talk to the giants in the hope of getting them as allies – and Hagrid and Madam Maxime were the best people to do so, what with them having giant blood.

For a moment, Albus hesitated and thought about his options, but in the end, he decided that revealing Sirius in front of Cedric Diggory was too dangerous. Nevertheless, he turned to Sirius. "I would like you to leave with me," he said to the animagus, ignoring Severus' and Cedric's frown. "There's something you can do for me."

Sirius huffed, but Albus ignored him and instead turned to Severus. "You know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready… if you are prepared…"

"I am," Severus agreed. He looked quite pale and Albus suppressed any emotions from escaping. He knew that asking Severus to spy might mean that he would lose his potion's master. It wasn't ideal, but he needed a spy more than a safe potion's master.

When Severus left, Albus turned back towards Harry and Sirius.

"If you would come with me, my boy," Albus looked at the animagus. Sirius turned his head and buried it in Harry's side.

Harry blinked in surprise and then crooked his head to look at his godfather thoughtfully.

"Can't he stay for the night?" the boy finally asked, softly.

"I fear what I want him to do can't wait," Albus countered calmly. "We need all hands on deck right now."

Sirius just huffed, but refused to lift his head from where he had buried it into Harry's side while Harry's fingers curled tighter into Sirius' fur.

"He stays," this time, there was no question. Harry's eyes met Albus and his body showed more confidence than Albus had ever seen before in the boy. Apparently, the boy wasn't willing to listen.

Albus sighed. "I'm sorry, my boy, but I fear you're not thinking too clearly right now," he told Harry softly. "I know you want Snuffles to stay, but at the moment –"

"He stays," Harry interrupted him. "It's his decision if he'll leave later on, but right now, he stays."


Sirius huffed, then with a noise that sounded quite similar to a sigh, he stood up and jumped back onto the floor.

"Thank you, my boy," Albus said and also stood up before he turned towards Harry and Cedric. "You two should try and get some sleep. Madam Pomphrey might have a Dreamless Sleep Potion, if you'd like some."

The two boys exchanged a look and then nodded, but didn't start to look for Madam Pomphrey. Albus mentally sighed at the boys' stubbornness, but in the end, just turned towards the door and opened it again. He held it open until Sirius had stepped through and then followed the animagus outside.

"I need you to set off at once. You have to alert the old crowd – Remus Lupin, Arabella Figg, Mundungus Fletcher. Lay low at Lupin's for a while, I will contact you there."

Sirius growled, but, in the end, he turned and slipped away down the stairs.

Albus closed his eyes and this time, he actually buried his face in his hand for a moment. There was a lot to do. Albus had been waiting for Voldemort's return for years, now, and yet, when it finally happened, it still felt as if the time was running away from him.

It would be a long upcoming year – even longer now that Cornelius Fudge was denying the return of Voldemort.

Albus could only pray that they would come out on top of the war.

For a moment, Albus looked out of one of the windows of the corridor and towards the Forbidden Forest where the murder of crows was still wheeling.

"Let's hope you aren't a bad omen," he said, his gaze still on the crows. Albus clenched his right hand, still covered in soot. The soot in his palm had been smudged and lost the shape of a bird. "Let's hope you're not harbingers of death."

Sadly, Albus suspected that at least death would be unavoidable in the upcoming war…

… … …

So stay away from me, the beast is ugly
I feel the rage and I just can't hold it

… … …

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Guess I finally managed to add another chapter. It took quite a while until I was satisfied with it, I'm sorry.

Hope you liked it.

'Till next time.