Chapter 28

Harry sighed as he stepped into the front office of the Wolf's Den, barely dodging out of the way of a rushing Healer. In the three days since the full moon and finding proof of a cure for Lycanthropy, chaos had descended on the normally calm, quiet compound. The press was camped just outside the wards, literally pitching tents in the hopes of getting the first interview with him. Healers from all over the world had descended upon the office, poking and prodding an increasingly irritated Adriana while Agatha was grilled about her treatment.

As much as he wanted to kick everyone out, and Adriana wanted to hex them, they couldn't. If they wanted to promote the cure worldwide, they needed to let the Healers see everything. They needed to make sure Adriana had indeed been a Werewolf, that the cure worked, and that it could work for others.

Already, Harry had set up three more golden cages and convinced Thor, Maggie's son, Josh, and Remus to go through the treatment. While Sylvia was anxious to have Amanda cured, Agatha cautioned her that it was too soon to test on someone so young. They would need to spend four days getting their blood treated before being taken out under the full moon to make sure the cure worked.

Squeezing past the Healers milling about in the hall, Harry made his way down to the basement. He passed what had to be thirty Healers before he reached Agatha and Adriana. Agatha looked exhausted as she explained the use of the dialysis machine – again – while Adriana sat off to the side, scowling.

"Are you ready to go?" Harry asked.

"Thank Merlin!" Adriana exclaimed, standing quickly. "I need to get out of here."

"I need just a minute," Agatha said.

With a quick apology, she turned away from the Healers she'd been talking to and grabbed her paperwork.

"If I knew all this was gonna happen, I would've let someone else go first," Adriana grumbled.

"I didn't think it would be this bad," Harry said, wrapping an arm around her waist. "It's almost over. After the Wizengamot meeting, I want you to go home and rest. The Healers have all of the data they need for now, and they can see the cure for themselves in a couple of weeks."

"Thank you," she said, sighing in relief. "I swear if I get poked or podded one more time…"

Harry smiled and hugged her to his side. Despite all her complaints, Adriana had put up with everything they'd asked of her. Underneath the gruff exterior, he knew she wanted to spread the cure as much as he did.

"I'm ready," Agatha said.

Nodding, Harry led them back upstairs. With a quick wave to Maggie, they Flooed to the Ministry of Magic. Andromeda met them in the Atrium and helped Agatha carry some of her notes as they made their way past security and stood, waiting for the elevator. The whole time, witches and wizards stopped to whisper and stare. Harry was quite used to that kind of attention, but the others weren't.

"Just ignore them," he whispered.

The elevator opened, and the people inside paused to stare at them before clambering out. It was empty when they climbed inside, giving the ladies a much needed respite from all the attention.

"Merlin," Andromeda breathed. "I can't believe this is happening. Our names are going to go down in history for this."

"Don't remind me," Adriana groaned.

"I'm sorry," Andromeda said. "I just don't know whether to be excited or terrified."

"Just don't let it go to your head," Agatha warned. "I've seen other Healers make discoveries and waste the rest of their careers by coasting by on their fame. You have a sharp mind and a talent for healing. Don't let this be your peak. Use it to propel you to new heights."

"Yes, ma'am. I will," Andromeda promised.

When the doors opened, they stepped out into the long, dark hallway leading to the courtrooms. A few Wizengamot members milling around outside abruptly stopped their conversations and whispered furiously to one another. Harry resisted the urge to roll his eye. Instead, he smiled and waved pleasantly. Once they'd entered the courtroom, he paused and pointed to the gallery.

"You can wait in the visitor's section," he said. "We should be the first on the docket."

"Do you expect them to put up a fight?" Agatha asked quietly.

Harry shrugged, "I don't think so, but I try not to underestimate the stupidity of politicians."

"I knew you were a smart lad," she smiled, patting his arm.

As she and Andromeda took seats in the gallery next to Regina and George, the Healers who'd witnessed the cure, Harry turned to check on Adriana. She scowled at the Wizengamot members staring at her.

"Are you alright?" Harry asked softly.

"I'm fine," she replied stiffly.

He wanted to press and find out what was bothering her, but he knew this wasn't the time or place. When he squeezed her shoulder in support, Adriana smiled briefly before taking the seat next to Andromeda. With a sigh, he made his way to his seat.

"There's the man of the hour," Francine Abbot said, the skin wrinkling around her warm brown eyes as she smiled.

"Man of the century, more like," Jonas Longbottom said with a boyish grin. "Curing Lycanthropy has eluded wizards for thousands of years."

"Indeed," Damien Greengrass added. "You'll no doubt get another Order of Merlin for this."

"Oh no," Harry said, shaking his head adamantly. "Healer Agatha Moon gets all the credit for this one. All I did was provide the gold."

"You did a lot more than that," David said, smiling as he and Charlus joined them on the bench. "The Wolf's Den has made a big impact. Petty crime is down almost fifteen percent since it opened."

"Really?" Harry asked, surprised.

"Until you came along, Werewolves had trouble finding work," David said. "Most of them resorted to theft just to feed themselves. There're some that still cause problems, of course, but it's much fewer than before."

Harry opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by the banging of the gavel.

"If everyone is ready, then I call this meeting to order," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling brightly. "As I'm sure most of you are aware, one of our members has a tremendous announcement to make. Harry, if you would like to come forward and make your presentation?"

Getting to his feet, Harry smoothed out his plum-colored robes and made his way down to the center of the room. Taking a calming breath, he looked out at the eager faces staring at him, though he noticed more than a few scowling unpleasantly.

"Witches and Wizards of the Wizengamot, I believe we have discovered a cure for the Lycanthroy Curse," Harry announced.

Immediately, people started whispering loudly.

"What do you mean 'believe?'" Tiberius Ogden asked with a frown.

"Because it's only been tested on one witch so far," Harry replied, looking over his shoulder and motioning for the others to join him. "However, we're confident the process will work on anyone. We'll be attempting the cure on three more Werewolves on the next full moon."

"And what exactly is this cure?" Alfred Nott asked derisively.

"I'll let Healer Moon explain the process," Harry said. "She's the one that developed and administered the cure."

Agatha stepped forward, her hand fiddling nervously with her robes, though her face betrayed nothing.

"For thousands of years, we've known that silver can harm a Werewolf," she began. "Most don't understand that this is caused by a magical reaction. You see, when the Lycanthropy Curse comes into contact with silver, the innate magic of the metal causes it to die. As it does, the curse releases toxins that, in large enough quantities, can permanently damage or even kill a Werewolf. So, we've known how to kill the curse for a long time. The question has always been how to do so without killing the patient. This is further complicated by the fact that moonlight causes the curse to regenerate rapidly, not just the light of a full moon. If even a single cell of the curse survives, it will replicate itself.

"The breakthrough came with Mr. Potter's discovery of the use of gold," she said, nodding in his direction. "By using a golden cage to block out all natural magic, we were able to not only prevent a Werewolf's transformation, but we could treat the blood over a longer period of time. Over a period of four days, the blood is drawn out of the patient and filtered first through a fine silver mesh, then through a filter made of crushed Bezors to remove the toxins before being pumped back into the body. I'd also like to note that it was Andromeda Black's idea to treat the blood outside of the body. This drastically reduces the dangers for the patient and dramatically speeds up the process. Treating the body directly would be torturously painful and take weeks to complete the treatment. Now, were are able to treat a patient painlessly over the course of mere days."

"And you say you've already used this cure?" an elderly witch asked eagerly over the excited whispers.

"Yes," Agatha nodded, pulling Adriana up next to her. "This is Adriana Zabini. She was bitten and confirmed to have Lycanthropy three years ago. Myself, as well as Healers George Stevenson and Regina Jones of St. Mungo's, were present when Ms. Zabini stood before a full moon three days ago and did not transform."

"Currently, we have over thirty Healers from around the world studying the results and preparing to observe the treatment of the next three Werewolves," Harry said, drawing the attention away from Adriana. "If all goes well, which we expect it will, we'll be ready to make a presentation to the ICW. Our hope is to spread this curse as far and wide as possible."

"Wonderful news," Dumbledore smiled. "I think I speak for everyone when I thank you for finally finding a cure to this terrible affliction."

Charlus stood and began clapping, followed closely by David and Francine. Soon, nearly everyone stood to applaud. Harry and the others all blushed under the attention. None of them had done this for the fame or recognition. Harry, Agatha, and Andromeda were only interested in helping others, while Adriana just happened to get dragged into this. Dumbledore let it carry on for a long moment before banging his gavel loudly.

"Does anyone else have any more questions for Mr. Potter before we move on?" he asked.

"How much do you expect this cure to cost," a wizard asked curiously.

"Er," Harry stammered, wracking his brain. "Well, the cages cost a few hundred each to make, and the other equipment is a couple of thousand, I think. We're already manufacturing them at Potter's Enchantments and selling them at cost. Really, the most expensive part is paying the Healers to administer the cure."

"How much do you expect to charge to treat a patient?" Jonas Longbottom asked curiously.

"We're not," Harry said. "All treatments are free. The greenhouses and enchantment shop make enough to cover the costs."

"The Ministry would be happy to help cover some of your expenses to see the end of Lycanthropy in the country," Minister Bagnold said.

"Thank you, Minister," Harry said. "That would be greatly appreciated."

"Anyone else?" Dumbledore asked when no one else spoke. "Very well. Thank you for your time and your efforts. You have given a great many people hope today."

Nodding gratefully, Harry went back to his seat while the others walked back to the gallery. The session dragged on for another two hours, but nothing important was mentioned. When it finally came to a close, Harry met up with Adriana and got out of there as fast as he politely could.

"How can you stand doing that?" she asked as they stepped into the elevator. "It was so boring."

"I wish I didn't have to," Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I have things I'd much rather be doing than sitting in those dusty chambers listening to people argue about cauldron bottoms. But I can't change anything by sitting in my house. Which reminds me, do you mind if I come by your place and set up some wards? I just want to make sure people aren't going to bother you over this."

"I'll be fine. I'm staying at the Den," Adriana said.

The Den was the affectionate nickname of the house at the Wolf's Den.

"If the Healers start bothering you, let me know," Harry told her. "If it becomes a problem, you can come stay with me until things settle down."

"Now that's a tempting thought," Adriana smirked.

Harry smiled at her as the elevator stopped at the Atrium. As they walked towards the Floo, she suddenly grabbed his arm and pulled him to a stop. When he turned to look at her, she surprised him by pulling him into a hug.

"Thank you," Adriana said softly, her lips brushing his cheek as she pulled back. "I know I've complained a lot lately, but I really do appreciate everything you've done for me. For all of us. You have no idea how much life has changed for Werewolves since you showed up."

"I'm glad I could help," Harry smiled.

"If you ever feel like inviting me over for the night, let me know," she said with a wink.

Before he could respond, she turned away and walked to the Floo, her hips swaying provocatively. Smiling and shaking his head, Harry stepped into the Floo after she disappeared.

"Thirty-two Godric Lane," he shouted before vanishing in a swirl of emerald flames.

Back at the house in Godric's Hollow, Harry ate dinner with Bellatrix and Narcissa before spending a couple of hours lounging around. Lily was staying with her parents. She visited often during the day, but they all missed having her around all the time.

The Floo flared to life a little after seven, depositing Kingsley and Elizabeth into the living room. While Harry greeted them with a smile and told them about the new house, Moody arrived, followed by Jenna and Greyson a minute later.

"This is a nice little place," Jenna smiled. "It's funny, though. I thought you'd need something bigger with all of your girlfriends."

Harry rolled his eyes.

"No need," Bellatrix grinned. "We all share one bed."

"Lucky git," Greyson grumbled. "I can't even get one girlfriend."

Jenna laughed while Narcissa looked up helplessly. Mercifully, Connie showed up at that moment, ending the teasing. After the sisters greeted her, they headed upstairs while Harry showed everyone else to the kitchen.

"How's it feel being back with the Aurors?" Harry asked Connie as he passed out drinks.

"I like being back in action, but I forgot how much I had the politics," Connie replied, taking a sip of her Butterbeer.

Moody grunted, "Things've gotten better since you were gone. Potter's made Crouch look bad so many times he's actually started doing his job for once."

"Bloody hell," Harry sighed while the others laughed at his expense.

"So, what's the plan?" Moody asked.

Reaching into his pocket, Harry pulled out a folder and set it on the table before enlarging it.

"David Bones and I had a chat," he said. "He knows what I'm doing, but he doesn't know about any of you. If you want to tell him, you can. I doubt you'll get in any trouble, but I thought it was better for him to have plausible deniability. This is a list of Know Death Eaters he recommends we go after first. Every last one is a known violent criminal."

"Isn't this something the Aurors can handle?" Jenna asked.

"Probably," Harry admitted. "But the idea is to bring in some known criminals to build trust. As far as Crouch and Minister Bagnold are concerned, I'm an anonymous Death Eater that's turned against them and will only work with David. Once we build trust, we can start going after the more politically connected Death Eaters. We also thought it might be a good idea to dose them with truth serum before handing over some of the more controversial ones."

Moody grunted in agreement as he started flipping through the files.

"I need to be clear about this," Harry continued. "This is dangerous. We're not just defending anymore. We're going on the offensive. If the Death Eaters catch us, we'll likely be tortured and killed. If the Aurors catch us, we'll be fugitives."

"Or in Azkaban," Greyson said.

"I can break us out of Azkaban," Harry told him. "But our lives as they are now will be over. What I'm trying to say is this is a risk. A big one. If any of you want out, I'll completely understand."

"I'm in," Connie said immediately. "Between what you've told us and what I've seen happening, I can see what coming. If we don't start fighting back now, we're all fucked anyways."

"I'm in," Greyson said.

"Me too," Jenna added.

"Kingsley and I have talked about this a lot since the last time we met," Elizabeth said, sweeping her long, dark hair over her shoulder. "We want a world where we can raise our family in peace. We're in."

Harry smiled gratefully and turned to look at Moody as he slapped a file on the table. On the front, paperclipped to a thick wrap sheet, was the photo of a man in his late thirties with a sharp nose, cruel dark eyes, spiky black hair, and a writhing snake tattoo going up his neck with the head resting on his cheek.

"Marius Dredge," Moody said. "He runs a crime ring in Knockturn Alley, theft, blackmail, extortion, assault, arson – you name it, he's got a hand in it. We need to cut off the head of the snake. If we take out dredge, the people under him will be so busy fighting each other that they won't have time to help You-Know-Who."

"So, I take it you're in?" Harry asked with a smile.

"I'm here, aren't I?" Moody grunted.

Grinning, Harry leaned back in his chair and took a sip of his Butterbeer.

"Alright then. Let's get to work."

Harry and the others took turns over the next three days, following Dredge around Knockturn Alley. Comparing notes, they found a pattern in his movements, just like Moody had hoped. They knew Dredge lived in a dingy flat deep in Knockturn Alley. While it wasn't heavily warded, it was filled with criminals of the worst sort. They had people watching the only entrance at all hours, and they didn't know the layout inside. It would be impossible to take him from there without a fight, something they wanted to avoid.

Watching Dredge's movements, they knew that he left the pub at around two in the morning, found a prostitute, and then headed back to his flat for the night. Thankfully, the prostitutes were spaced far apart, and hung around dark, rarely used alleyways. With a plan in place, they decided to go for it the next night.

Harry sat in a loud, dingy, crowded pub, nursing a Firewhiskey that tasted more like petrol than alcohol. When the bartender looked away, he vanished the rest before ordering a refill. Fortunately, walking around with your hood up and face obscured wasn't unusual. Glancing at the corner of the room, he could see Dredge talking and laughing loudly with his buddies. When the waitress walked over with a bottle of mead, he waved her off.

"Might be leaving soon," Harry said, doing his best impression of a mumbling drunk.

"I'm in position," Moody growled through the Listening Charm they'd applied to each other. "Jenny, you're up."

"On my way down the alley now," Jenna replied.

A short distance from the pub, Jenna made her way down the steps to a narrow alley. Half a dozen small gaps between buildings along a hundred-yard stretch led to the apartment with cloaked and hooded figures milling around each one. Stopping in front of the first witch, the unattractive woman looked up at her and sighed.

"I don't do witches," she said.

"I'm not here for that," Jenna said, pulling a sack of Galleons out of her pocket. "I need this corner for an hour."

With a suspicious look, the witch opened the sack and her eyes widened comically. Taking out one of the coins, she bit it.

"It's real," she said, looking up in surprise. "You can have it for the whole night."

Without another word, she clutched the sack to her chest and scurried away as quickly as she could. Jenna didn't blame her. Harry had given her enough Galleons to change her life if she spent them right. Standing on the corner, she revealed a bit of her face. The hope was that seeing an attractive face would entice Dredge into buying her services.

"Leaving now," Harry said.

Taking a deep breath, Jenna put a shy look on her face and tried to look nervous. A couple of minutes later, Dredge came stumbling down the alley. Following behind him at a safe distance was a hooded figure she could tell was Harry just by the way he moved. Knowing he was there, keeping her safe, helped to settle her nerves.

The moment Dredge looked at her face, he smiled in a way that sent an unpleasant shiver down her spine. Biting her lip in a way she knew men thought looked cute, Jenna glanced at him before looking away quickly.

"'Ello there beau'iful," Dredge said. "I haven't seen you around 'ere before."

"I'm new," Jenna said.

Flashing a smile, Dredge pulled out two sickles and held them between his thumb and forefinger.

"'Ow 'bout I a right proper welcome?" he asked.

Smiling shyly, Jenna nodded and allowed him to lead her between the two buildings. Immediately, he pinned her against the wall and smelled her hair, his alcohol soaked breath washing over her face. She was grateful he couldn't see her face as she grimaced, her hand instinctively twitching for her wand.

Suddenly, there was a flash of red, and Dredge's body slumped against her.

"Oh, fuck. This guy's heavy," Jenna grunted, lowering him to the ground.

"You alright?" Harry asked.

"Nothing a hot shower can't fix," she said, flashing him a smile.

"Dredge's friends are heading your way," Greyson warned. "You're got about two minutes before they reach you."

"Leaving now," Harry said.

Pulling a length of white rope out of his pocket, Harry wrapped it around Dredge's wrist, grabbed the middle, and then handed the other end to Jenna. As soon as she grabbed it, he tapped it with his wand, and they vanished in a swirl of color. Seconds later, they were back in his living room in Godric's Hollow.

"We made it back," Harry said as he was hugged by Narcissa and Bellatrix.

"Everyone pull out and head back," Moody ordered.

"Bad choice of words considering what I've had to watch all night," Connie muttered.

Harry and Jenna snickered. Connie had been watching the prostitution alley for hours from a rooftop. With a flick of his wand, Harry bound up Dredge just as several pops sounded from the backyard. A moment later, the others entered through the back door.

"Quick and clean. Just the way I like it," Moody said, walking over to Dredge and nudging him with his foot.

"Did anyone notice anything?" Harry asked.

"Everything was still quiet when we left," Elizabeth said.

She, Kingsley, and Moody had been watching the end of the alley near the apartment just in case Dredge escaped.

"Good," Harry said, "I'll go drop this guy off at David's place, and then we can all have a drink."

"While he's doing that, can someone tell me what happened?" Narcissa asked curiously.

"I'll fill you in," Connie said.

Smiling, Harry levitated Dredge over to the Floo and vanished in a green flash of fire.

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