LAST TIME

"So, you will call us?" Seamus blurted.

"If I feel it is needed, I will." Harry declared. "You all won't be the first ones I call. Not even the second one. But if I have no other option, the Dragon Legion will be called upon. Your primary objective will be to mitigate losses and protect civilians like you did back in March."

Cheers spread amongst the group, most looking satisfied that they could play a role in protecting the world.

Harry put his wand to his throat. "But I will only call upon those who perform well this week. I will assess you. I will test you. And I will ensure you are ready. Am I understood?"

"YES!"

"Then, let us begin."


Ch.79 Opening Moves

18th June 1996

Room of Requirements, Hogwarts

Whispers flitted amongst the members of the Dragon Legion as Flitwick and McGonagall swept in, followed by Fleur, who went to stand beside Victor and Cedric at the side while McGonagall and Flitwick took the center stage alongside Harry.

"Yes, as I said, two of the very best in their fields have joined us today." Harry announced. "Today's session will largely focus on the very effective use of transfiguration and charms in protecting yourself against an attack. Now, I have taught this to you before. I have, I believe, hammered conjuration techniques into your head in order to use whenever you see a green spell."

Harry's gaze swept around the room as everyone nodded in agreement. He had, after all, spent a week teaching them nothing but to conjure marble slabs and rocks to intercept spells of all kinds. He had also specially altered the blasting hex to appear green instead of the usual orange, so it looked similar to the shade of the killing curse.

It had been done to ensure that none of them froze when they saw the curse being used. After all, Death Eaters loved to use the killing curse and most people froze in their tracks when they saw it. Also, not everyone could control conjured animals as he could. It was an advanced technique in conjuration taught in the seventh year. It also needed concentration to be pulled off— which in high-pressure situations might not be the best tool to rely on.

In Helga's words, conjuring a marble block was much more reliable and safer unless you were a master of transfiguration and could perform the technique in your sleep.

"Professor McGonagall?" Harry gestured to her and McGonagall nodded.

"Today, Filius and I intend to show you all how to use basic transfiguration and simple charms to great effect in order to take down an opponent— sometimes, even multiple. You will also be learning how to protect yourself against these techniques, which is just as important."

"I am sure Mr. Potter has taught you a few of them." Flitwick squeaked. "Especially conjuration and a handful of advanced elemental charms. But he hasn't taught you to turn your own house into a trap for anyone attacking."

Harry raised an eyebrow while Flitwick gave a grin reminiscent of the goblins.

"Indeed." McGonagall nodded. "Filius has once in the past saved his own life by doing so. I, too, have defended the homes of some of my friends by turning the very room against the attacker. And I speak of simple spells. Spells that a third-year could potentially do. And we will be demonstrating this."

"You all have nothing for the rest of the day." Harry added. "We will be going on till the night. Yes. The whole day. I cannot stress enough how useful this can be. And I do not want to hear any whining or crying. You all will do this if you want to keep yourself safe and others safe."

"Thank you, Potter." McGonagall nodded. "We have taught most of you for nearly half a decade or more now. I believe you all have a grasp of the basics, or at least what might be needed to do what we demonstrate. First, I will be going."

Harry closed his eyes and the room shifted, the floor turning muddy while a moderate-sized house rose in front of them. A second later, the walls of the house turned transparent showing everything within.

"Transfiguration is the art of turning one object into another." McGonagall stepped toward the house. "Tell me, what all can you use effectively to defend yourself by using transfiguration? And how?"

Hermione's hand shot up.

"Yes, Miss Granger?"

"We can turn the tables and couches into animals, professor," she said promptly. "They can be used to attack any intruder or even intercept spells."

"Not bad. What else? Yes, Mister Creevy?"

"We can turn the sofa to stone and take cover behind it," he said.

"An excellent suggestion," McGonagall smiled. "But one with a fundamental flaw. Who can tell me what it is? You."

"The couch can be used to attack him," Cho said. "Transfigured or animated to attack him."

"And how can you prevent that?" Harry stepped forth, cutting through the discussion. "Sorry, professor."

McGonagall gave him a disapproving frown before turning to the rest.

"An anti-transfiguration charm, of course." Ernie replied. "But it uses runes to work."

"That is not what the runes are for." Hermione corrected. "The anti-transfiguration charm will work like any other charm till it is removed or fades. The runes are to ensure that it cannot be easily removed and lasts longer."

"Exactly." Harry said.

"Very good. Now, I suppose we should get on with the demonstration." McGonagall drew her wand. "I shall go into the house and defend myself by only employing basic transfiguration. Mr. Potter, if you will?"

"Fleur, Cedric, and Viktor will attack you." Harry nodded. "Whenever you are ready, professor."

McGonagall turned and walked into the house, her eyes darting around the surroundings with each step.

"Watch carefully now." Harry said. "You all can go closer if you'd like. The walls are present despite being see-through. Watch carefully what she does. What all of them do."

The members nodded, inching closer to the house, leaving the path to the door clear for the attackers to go in.

Harry glanced at McGonagall, who nodded. "Three— two— one. Go."

Krum moved first, taking the lead as he stalked toward the door followed by the other two. With a flick of his wand, the wooden door burst to pieces with a bang, scattering across the house.

McGonagall glanced at the broken pieces with a look that suggested she did not like the fact that Krum had made a mess. With a wave of her wand, the pieces rose and shot forward, turning into huge spikes— oddly reminiscent of needles in mid-air.

Krum raised a shield while Cedric dove to the floor avoiding the projectiles while Fleur shifted away from the doorframe, staying outside the house.

A stunner flashed past McGonagall's hips as she waved her wand again. The flower vase next to the door turned into a cat, and leaped onto Krum's arm, digging his nails into him before leaping toward his face while Krum shielded himself with his hands.

Before he could pull the feline off, long chains wrapped around his legs and he fell onto Cedric who was getting to his feet.

Both of them collapsed to the floor in a heap.

Harry facepalmed, watching as the chains trapped them completely, wrapping around them, ensuring they couldn't use their wands.

There was a difference between someone being good and their opponent just being embarrassingly bad. This, Harry decided, was the latter.

'I had expected McGonagall to win.' Harry grimaced. 'Just not this easily.'

Fleur darted out from behind the wall, and shot a series of spells at McGonagall, who levitated a cushion in the way, transfiguring it to solid steel to intercept the spells. The steel cushion shot across the room, turning into a flock of ravens on the way.

Fleur thrust her wand, a stream of fire bursting from the tip of her wand, burning the birds to ashes. McGonagall flicked her wand and the table on which the flower vase had been turned into a wolf which snarled and leaped at Fleur who rolled out of the way.

McGonagall turned her wand on the couch, the two remaining cushions turning into a pair of daggers, which multiplied a moment later, just as Fleur undid the transfiguration on the wolf. She wasn't given a moment's reprieve as the daggers sliced through the air toward her.

The table rose, the daggers embedded in the wood with loud thunks. A second later, the table and daggers turned to iron chains, leaping forward to wrap around Fleur.

With a yell, a wave of bluish-orange flames burst out, pulverizing the chains. From the haze of the fire, a pair of bludgeoners flew.

The couch leaped up, intercepting both the spells with ease before turning into a lion and running toward Fleur only to be torn apart by a gouging curse to its face.

Harry watched as Fleur's eyes darkened, the blue irises turning black.

'The restraints just came off.' Harry winced.

A stream of colors burst from Fleur's wand curving toward McGonagall, only to burst against a wall of marble, which blew to dust a moment later.

McGonagall looked unfazed by the turn of events as she swatted a curse away but Harry saw her body tense.

'And this just turned interesting.' Harry glanced at the members of the legion whose eyes were fixed on the two women.

McGonagall waved her wand in a wide arc and the ornaments around the room came alive, turning into cats of all shapes and sizes in the blink of an eye. Fleur's eyes widened as they ran toward her before narrowing.

Fleur stepped back, sweeping her wand across the room and fire poured out of its tip, running over the floor like flooding water, burning the cats alive before the fire continued toward McGonagall.

The transfiguration professor thrust her wand forward, slashing it downward as Harry felt a wave of magic roar.

"Elemental transfiguration." Harry breathed.

A tidal wave of water burst like a tsunami over the room, smashing Fleur against the wall, bursting through the windows, into the room of requirements.

Harry flicked his wand and the water vanished, pieces of glass flying back.

The house disappeared and Fleur slumped to the ground, unconscious and wet while Cedric and Krum coughed. Before Harry could step forward, McGonagall was already by Fleur's side, checking on her to see if she was alright.

With an absent wave of his hand, everyone who had become wet due to McGonagall's spell, dried, their clothes steaming.

"Is she—"

Fleur gasped awake, looking around wildly.

"Nothing much, Potter. Just a slight concussion." McGonagall said briskly.

She flicked her wand and the chains trapping Krum and Cedric vanished. "Why don't you two get her to Madame Pomfrey. It is best if she is examined by her than me."

"I am fine." Fleur said.

"No, you are not." Professor McGonagall gave her a severe look and Fleur wilted. "Diggory, Mr. Krum?"

The two obeyed without question, taking Fleur to the hospital wing immediately.

"Now," McGonagall said, turning to the rest of the dragon legion. "I believe that you couldn't have had a better demonstration. Can anyone tell by what all types of transfiguration I applied from the start to the end?"


27th June 1996

Grimmauld Place, London

Bright sunlight glinted off the silver cups and silver spoons on the table. Swirls of steam curled off their rims as Harry blew them away before taking a sip. Fleur and Daphne sat beside him, while Susan stood at the kitchen counter, buttering a piece of toast.

Across the table, Perenelle sat, looking at them speculatively as she consulted a book she had summoned moments ago out of nowhere.

"Potter, what you are looking to do is vigilantism." Perenelle pushed the book forth. "And you will be violating a minimum of nine laws."

"I do not think the Wizengamot or the ministry will be eager to prosecute us." Harry said dryly. "You have to realize that I am no ordinary citizen. I am Harry Potter."

"And rules don't apply to you?" Perenelle raised an eyebrow.

"No, but whoever thinks to oppose a single move against the Death Eaters is being labeled as a sympathizer or worse." Daphne said. "And Harry can influence what is printed in the Prophet to a vast degree.

"I could've stopped the slander against me last year." Harry added. "But, the sole reason I didn't is because—"

"You'd be labeled the sole voice of truth. Doing right by the world when everyone says you're wrong." Daphne said. "So, next time you do something unconventional or say something hard to believe, people will think thrice before going against you."

"Politics is not a game of days but decades." Perenelle nodded. "Especially in the wizarding world. But that is not my point."

"Then what is?"

"You can make it all legal instead." Perenelle said. "Why break laws and suffer punishment when you can do it and have the law award you instead?"

"And how can we do that?" Susan blinked.

"Have your aunt organize a manhunt." Perenelle leaned back. "If anyone brings in a Death Eater— a person bearing Voldemort's or Grindelwald's mark, to the ministry, or their information leads to one's capture, they will be rewarded."

"And if that happens, taking into consideration our plan, we will be heroes." Daphne's eyes glinted sharply.

"But the Ministry won't have that kind of funds, would they?" Fleur frowned. "To put out rewards for every Death Eater they bring in?"

"I don't think they will." Susan agreed. "I'd have to ask auntie… but it is unlikely, yes."

"We have the funds though." Daphne said. "Or Harry does."

"The money from Mrs. Zabini." Harry nodded. "I still have a part of her original funds left."

"You can just ask her to directly fund this." Daphne snorted. "After all, you are protecting her precious Blaise and warded her home for her. Plus, they are loaded. Heck, even without the Zabini fortune, Anastasia Zabini herself is rich enough to fund this whole hunt with practically pocket change."

"A slight exaggeration, but that she is." Perenelle agreed.

"I still have about seventy-thousand galleons of her first quarter-million left." Harry said. "Money isn't going to be a problem but the manhunt is. Because Amelia cannot pass that law. The Wizengamot has to."

Fleur raised an eyebrow. "It shouldn't be too hard for you, mon cher, should it?"

"Not hard, but long." Harry said. "It would take a minimum of three to five sessions to do this. Which means at least three months."

"Not if you have it drafted and pass the law during an emergency session." Daphne said. "Madam Bones can call the session, Dumbledore can present the bill and you and your godfather can approve. You just need to convince Dumbledore that what we are going to do is right. And then the Wizengamot."

"Dumbledore will not approve. Not readily." Harry said. "Even if we intend to capture rather than kill, there is always a possibility of casualties considering we will be breaking into homes. Not all of those inside will be Death Eaters."

"We will do our research." Susan said. "First, take down the worst of the bastards. Get the correct information. And it is not like we only have to attack their homes to get them. We can follow them, lure them out, or even lay a trap. We just have to know how to and with whom to. I doubt that the old inner circle will fall for any of those tricks. But the henchmen?"

"They will." Harry nodded.

"A simple spell done under a proper disillusionment charm will lead to them going down. Most of them." Fleur said. "There would be a very few capable of avoiding all of us."

"But it won't work for long." Perenelle pointed out. "Once a few disappear— or get into the ministry clutches, they will be wary."

"We can start with trickery." Susan said. "Once they grow wary, we move on to following them and hunting them down when the opportunity arises. They will have to get out of their houses at some point or another."

"That they will." Perenelle agreed. "We will have quite some work to do, without any doubt."

"But the question is how will we get the information?" Daphne asked. "It is not like there's a list lying somewhere."

"No, but we can get names." Perenelle said. "And when looking for criminals, we must examine the dregs of the society."

"Knockturn Alley." Susan said. "We will go there tonight th—"

"No." Perenelle's voice was as sharp as the crack of a whip. "You will not. I cannot allow it."

"And why's that?"

"Knockturn Alley is bad during the day, worst during the night." Harry said. "Especially the deeper parts. Not even Aurors venture there unless they have a full squad to go in with. If they see a pretty girl roaming in the alley, it is likely that she won't be seen again."

"So, who will?"

"Potter and I." Perenelle said. "It is not the first time I will do such a thing and I pity the poor soul who tries to intimidate him."

"We can fight." Susan protested.

"That is why you will be going to take down Death Eaters." Perenelle said. "Also, we need ears above the ground. Once the information— the names are found, we will need details. Where to find them, where they go… we all cannot get onto running Knockturn Alley rounds, can we?"

"Right." Fleur shot a glare at Susan, quelling her protest. "So you and Harry will go to gather intel on the names. Then we follow them, keep a lookout… and then take them down?"

"Exactly." Harry said.

"And if we are successful here, we can even move for Grindelwald." Perenelle's eyes darkened. "Take his people down and get information from them."

"That would need us to go international." Harry pointed out. "Where my influence doesn't extend beyond a certain limit."

"That is something to discuss later, I suppose." Perenelle conceded. "First, Death Eaters. The Knights can wait for a while. Grindelwald will have to surface properly sooner or later, and you can face his men en masse."

"That is probably the best we can do for now, I suppose." Harry sighed. "Let's begin tonight."


30th June 1996

Little Hangleton, Britain

A flock of ravens flew in the pinkish-orange sky, disappearing amongst the canopy of trees in the distance. A few cars drove down the road as muggles went about their daily work without a care.

In the graveyard a little distance away, two men appeared out of nowhere with a slight crack.

"Is this where…" Dumbledore shuddered. "Necromancy."

"This is where he was resurrected, yes." Harry glanced around. "They cleaned up pretty well but the echoes stay, don't they?"

"Indeed." Dumbledore whispered, looking up to the crumbling house in the distance. "And it seems that Tom has abandoned this house now that he has no use for it. Though, I can still feel the remnants of the wards that had once been and the magic that was once cast."

"It was a brutal battle." Harry shrugged. "Lots of death, elemental magic, necromancy… you name it. But that is not what matters."

"The Horcrux, yes." Dumbledore said. "From what I gathered from the tales, the daughter of Gaunts— Tom's mother eloped with a rich muggle in her town."

"Tom Riddle Senior." Harry wrinkled his nose, glancing at the grave he had been tied to. "Bone of his father."

"Yes." Dumbledore said.

"We should check this house for the Horcrux too." Harry said. "Though, I do not think Voldemort's foolish enough to keep it here even if it had once been here."

"He wouldn't be." Dumbledore agreed. "Neither would he store something as precious as his soul in the muggle house of his father who abandoned his mother."

"Right." Harry said. "But the house of his ancestors could be a worthy place."

"The Gaunts were all but knut-less by the time of Tom's birth." Dumbledore said. "But yes. It should be, in his eyes, worthier than anything muggle."

"But the ministry records don't detail where it was?" Harry frowned.

"Morfin Gaunt, the last of them, was arrested for the muggle of the Riddles in Little Hangleton too." Dumbledore said. "But it doesn't say exactly where the house was."

"I am going out on a limb here to say that it was Voldemort who did it." Harry commented.

"That is likely, my boy." Dumbledore waved his wand and magic rustled through the graveyard. "It seems there is nothing in the graveyard, at least."

"Then we check the Riddle house first and then search for the Gaunt house." Harry declared. "Hopefully, we will have a Horcrux down by the end of the day."

"Let's hope for the best." Dumbledore nodded. "Shall we?"


AND… DONE! Hope you all liked the chapter!

So, yes. Harry and Dumbledore are onto the Horcrux. Very very close. And not only are they close to the Horcrux but also something else… if you get my hint. On the other hand, our heroes have decided to no longer remain on the defense and will be pulling moves to regain their place in the game.

Also, yes. McGonagall is a badass. No one compares to her. I have been wanting to write a McGonagall battle for quite a while. And it was fun. :D

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Guest: Honestly both of them, Ian Mckellen and the late Michael Gambon are/were legends when it came to acting. Even Richard Harris (Dumbledore in the first two movies) was perfectly cast.

Immaterium: Voldemort doesn't have a goal. He wants a throne on top of the world, nothing more, nothing less. He doesn't give two shits about what he is fighting for or who his followers are.

GamerHdmD: No.

Guest: Actually, I did think of it. Then, I honestly forgot. Also, a part of me feels that Moody would never trust the leg completely being the paranoid bastard he is. Let us not forget that the silver hand strangled wormtail when he tried to help Voldemort's enemy.

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Thank you for all your reviews!

A huge thank you to Mughil and Nanu for betaing this chapter!

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