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Chapter 50

While sitting on the train to go back to Hogwarts, Harry looked down at the copy of the Marauders' Map in his hands. As he did, he considered what had happened a few days ago.

He had been sitting in the Potter library with Hermione, the two of them cuddled up reading some of their new textbooks, when an out-of-breath Ron came running into the room. The ash and soot covered enough of his robes to tell them he had just arrived by floo.

"Harry, Sirius just sent me to get you. I think I worked out how Junior was able to know where you were in the maze." Ron said. That had Harry's and Hermione's attention immediately. The trio immediately got up and went to the kitchen where Sirius was waiting. When they got there they found both Sirius and Charlus waiting on them. Ron, not in the mood to beat around the bush, immediately asked a question. "Sirius, how many copies of the Marauders' Map are there?"

A little surprised, Sirius said, "Originally four, we each had one, but only one in the end. Moony ripped his apart during a full moon. He had started keeping it pinned to the wall in the Shrieking Shack so we could check it before we took the tunnel back after there was an incident where a student followed us. Wormfail lost his after we left school, little Harry knocked a bottle of magical mess remover on it when Wormfail came to visit. Mine was confiscated and probably destroyed by Filch, so the only one left is the one Harry's father left for him."

"But I didn't get mine from dad, I got it from the Weasley twins who nicked it from Filch. And did you just call him Wormfail?" Harry said, trying to remember which of his books he had left it between the pages of when he had packed at the end of last year.

"Could Wormfail have made another map?" asked Ron.

"Easily. Even if he didn't have one to copy, and as an original maker he is keyed into the charms to do that, he would still know how to make one from scratch," Sirius admitted.

"But my impression was that Pettigrew was a bit of a loser from what you said. Even when we overheard Professor McGonagall talking about him before we knew you were innocent, she said he used to follow you and the others around like a lost puppy," Hermione said.

"Well, sort of. First, you need to remember everything you have heard me say about the rat is coloured by what he did. Secondly, you need to remember the group. You had me, James, and Remus, and we were brilliant. Like, top of our classes brilliant. Without us, Wormtail would have stood out as a brilliant student. Remember, he is still a guy who mastered his Animagus form at fifteen with no help from anyone who had done it before. He may not have been as driven, but he was never unskilled," Sirius told them.

From what they could work out, Ron had hit the proverbial nail on the head. Crouch had been able to time his attack so perfectly because he had had another copy of the map. The one he was now holding was his godfather's, and not as closely associated with his father as it had been.

Harry was still trying to work out how he felt about that. On one hand, it felt like he was losing something, but at the same time the only reason the map had been so significant was because he had almost nothing of his dad's. Now Harry had so much: he lived in the house his dad grew up in, he sat on the same furniture, ate with the same cutlery, even had the same lectures from grandfather Charlus that he had given to James. It was like losing a Knut and finding a Galleon. Yet he couldn't deny that he missed the connection his map had had with his dad, even if it had been made up in his head.

Harry's thoughts were interrupted by Ron, who was sitting across from Harry and Hermione in his brand new tailor-fit school robes. "So what are you two doing for dorms this year? Are you coming back to Gryffindor or are you gonna be sharing family quarters with Professor Potter again?" Ron had been trying to get back into the habit of calling him Professor Potter, he didn't want to slip up and be more familiar with him during class.

Hermione didn't even look up from her book as she said, "Back in the dorms, but if anything happens we will be moved back into family quarters."

"Grandfather said it was better for us to be with our peers, learn to be independent, and develop social skills. As long as no one tries to kill us this year, that's where we will stay," Harry finished.

"Brilliant. I prefer it when you're in the dorms Harry. It's more fun."

They talked for a while more until they were interrupted by the trolley lady asking if they wanted anything. Harry was just about to get them all something when Ron got there first. "I'll take three of everything," he said, pulling a handful of gold coins from his pocket. When he came back he dumped all the sweets on the seat next to him and told Harry and Hermione to help themselves. "I have been looking forward to doing that all summer. Just like you did our first year, remember Harry?"

Harry laughed. "Yeah, I was so happy to finally have money I had no impulse control. Just remember you will want to save some for once you're finished with school. Put it towards a house or something."

"Yeah I know not to spend it all on toys and sweets. Dad pulled me and Gin aside and warned us about being responsible. Told us how much we needed to keep aside, had us divide the rest by ten years and then again by twelve months to let us know how much it was okay for us to spend. So I can't go out and buy a Firebolt, or solid gold gobstones," Ron said as he broke open the packaging of a cauldron cake.

Harry grabbed himself a chocolate frog and a sugar quill for Hermione. He had just sat back down and handed Hermione her favourite sweet when the door slid open. "Hey Weasel I heard you came into some charity gold over the summer. Did your mother die of shock or embarrassment?"

"Oh piss off Malfoy," said Ron, already exasperated by the blond Slytherin after Harry and Hermione had given back from the prefects' meeting and told him that the blond git had somehow been made prefect. Though Daphne was the other Slytherin prefect, so hopefully I wouldn't be too bad.

"Speaking of embarrassment Malfoy, how did your father feel running away while so many of his friends were killed and captured by the Aurors? The big bad scary Death Eater afraid of a few little Aurors? At least Harry had the balls to stand and fight," Hermione said, not giving the blond git the courtesy of looking up from her book.

"You want to watch yourself, you filthy little mudblood. The Dark Lord is back and people like you will be the first to die."

Hermione snorted in derision. "He already tried to send a horde of Inferi after me. Didn't even break a nail."

"You know Malfoy, you really were mis-sorted," said Harry. Draco looked confused, so Harry continued. "You come charging in here bold as brass to mouth off to my friends and I when you know I duelled Voldemort to a draw only two months ago. I'm surprised you aren't pissing yourself, which means either you are brave enough you should have been a Gryffindor, or you are too stupid to have the cunning of a Slytherin. So which is it?"

"I have no reason to be afraid of you Potter," Malfoy sneered at him.

"Too stupid it is. Now run away before I decide to challenge you to a duel over the insult you just gave to a member of my house. And trust me, when I issue a duel I will actually turn up." All the warmth had left Harry's voice as he spoke that last sentence.

Harry was watching Malfoy carefully and saw the moment he realised he was actually in danger. "Crabbe, Goyle, come on let's go. Parkinson is expecting us soon." They quickly left.

"He does know we can see through his excuses, right?" Asked Ron.

"Who knows? His name is Draco and he is stupid enough to try and provoke someone he watched kill a dragon last year. If he is too stupid to have a working self-preservation instinct, then who knows if he can understand that other people know when he is lying?" Hermione said.

"We may have to watch out for Crabbe and Goyle though. We know Malfoy escaped from the graveyard but one of their fathers was captured and the other killed. For all we know the two gorillas will be looking for revenge," Ron warned them.

He was right. The Ministry was currently going through legal battles with the families of the dead Death Eaters, all of whom (with the exception of Randall Parkinson) had gotten off on the Imperius defence last time. The families were claiming that they were under the Imperius again and it was slander to drag their good names through the mud as they were already on record of being susceptible to Imperius and couldn't defend their reputations in front of the Wizengamot. Harry thought it was a bit late, as their names had already appeared in the paper. But according to Sirius, if the Death Eaters won their gag order there was magic to keep people from reminding everyone of that fact. Grandfather Charlus had told Harry that he was sure the legal proceedings would finish with the names being released, but until then there was a legal gag order on information.

The Ministry was also dealing with the Death Eaters who were captured. The Wizengamot had wanted a speedy trial for all of them, but unfortunately there was a lot of backroom work going on to slow the process down. Charlus suspected it was to buy time to move assets around, so that the criminals no longer owned anything that the Wizengamot could fine. It was a lot of underhanded delay to lessen the effect of justice as much as possible, and it pissed Harry off, especially considering it left him without knowing who might be coming after him. Except perhaps Parkinson, but she was never the type to actually do anything.

The rest of the train ride was pretty boring. There were a few people who came and said hello, which unsurprisingly included Susan Bones and her friend Hannah Abbott. Susan and Ron were both pretending not to flirt with one another, until Hannah told them to get a room and the two blushed.

"So what's the story here?" asked Hermione, looking at the two of them. "You were dancing around each other at the end of last year but Ron hasn't said anything about the summer."

Susan shrugged. "All we did was exchange letters. Auntie is a little paranoid over what happened at the start of summer." She gave Hermione a significant look, telling the trio she knew that Hermione was the target of the Inferi attack at the start of the summer. That information had been kept out of the papers, but as her aunt was the Head of the D.M.L.E it's not surprising Susan knew.

"I can understand your aunt's concerns. Waking up to a horde of dead bodies attacking your wards is not an experience I recommend. I'm just lucky that they didn't expect there to be any wards, or they would have had a better attack plan."

"Yeah but Ron isn't the type to help You-Know-Who," Susan insisted. "She could have let him visit when I asked."

Ron nodded along with her but said, "What's done is done, nothing we can do about it now. But to make up for it, why don't I take you to Hogsmeade the first chance we get?"

That had brought a smile to Susan's face and she quickly agreed. She said she had other friends to catch up with so left not long after, but not before she reminded Ron that tomorrow was a Saturday so no classes.


While Harry and Hermione were dealing with their first duty as prefects and patrolling the train, Colin Creevey spotted Harry and came running up. "Hey Harry, I just wanted to say thank you for the gold and thanks again for killing that monster. I would have sent a letter earlier but I don't have an owl and I don't live anywhere near London so I couldn't get to the wizarding post office until I did my back to school shopping, but my family does that on the last day of the summer so that we only have to come to London once. And then I would be seeing you today so the letter didn't seem worth it. I mean I don't know where you live but there was a good chance you may have left before the owl got there. So yeah I wanted to say thank you."

"You're welcome Colin. Think of it as compensation, as the gold came from the sale of the basilisk. And for the record, I live in Wales," Harry said.

"Colin, every major city in the country has a hidden magical place. Nowhere near as big as Diagon Alley, but they all have at least a magical pub with a public Floo fire, a post office, and a magical shop. Like a Muggle corner shop with a bit of everything," Hermione said.

"Wait, they do? How did no one tell me about that?" Harry asked before Colin could ask pretty much the same question.

"It's one of those things no one thinks to tell muggleborn because it's so obvious," Hermione complained. "I only knew to ask because Lavender once complained that her local magical shop had stopped selling her favourite brand of skin care potion."

"You should write a book. All the stuff they forget to tell muggleborns. It would be a bestseller," Colin said.

"I doubt it. Muggleborn make up about five percent of the magical population. After the first few years I'd be lucky to sell more than ten a year, probably less because older muggleborn would pass their copies to younger muggleborn once they were done with it. Still, if I were to write it maybe the new headmaster would add it to the book lists for first year muggleborn? I'll think about it."

"The problem with writing a book like that is you don't know what you don't know and most people you ask don't know what it is you don't know so they can tell you what you don't know," Harry said, causing Colin to go a little cross eyed as he tried to follow what Harry was saying.

"I think the best way to deal with that is to ask muggleborn what they have learned and ask others what they were surprised they had to show or teach a muggleborn," Hermione mused. "Tackle the subject from multiple sides to get as much information as possible."

"Sounds like a plan, but before you get lost in that we have a patrol to finish." Harry reminded her and the two said goodbye to Colin before finishing up their rounds.


The sorting and feast both passed by without incident. There was some surprise at Professor Lupin returning to the school to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, but there was also plenty of support. Like with all prejudice, the louder people weren't necessarily the majority, and Lupin was a good professor that a lot of the students liked. There was also a new living History of Magic professor and a notification that there would be a team of curse breakers working in the school over the next few weeks doing some necessary maintenance and the students were not to bother them.

There was good food, good conversation, and good company, and for the first time Harry could remember since his own sorting it felt like he had a perfectly normal feast that didn't even have any bombshells to drop on him. Sure, his own sorting had been normal enough, except for the warning to stay away from the third floor corridor, so that wasn't even normal now he thought about it. Then there was the flying car second year, third was the warning about Dementors, and fourth was the announcement about the Triwizard Tournament. It seemed every year on this date something was supposed to happen that would in some way be connected to something trying to kill him by the end of the year. Harry quickly pushed those thoughts down and returned to eating. If he wasn't careful, he could end up a paranoid lunatic always looking for patterns.

Harry and Hermione were tasked with showing the new Gryffindor first years up to the common room and dormitories. They took the long way using the main stairs as it was the easiest for them to remember, and Ron tagged along to walk with his mates. As they walked, Hermione kept pointing out parts of the castle that were mentioned in Hogwarts, A History. Harry, on the other hand, would point down corridors saying things like, "And that's where the three of us tackled a twelve foot tall mountain troll our first year," or "And that's where they had a massive dog with three heads living for a year." Hermione scolded Harry for trying to scare the firsties, but as it was Harry they all just seemed excited to hear more. A side effect of them growing up on the dreaded Harry Potter adventure books, of course the Boy-Who-Lived had amazing adventures.

Once they got the kiddos to the common room and taught them the password, Harry and Hermione sent them all off to bed with a promise that they would take them down to breakfast in the morning. However, as it was a Friday and there were no lessons tomorrow, most of the older students (including the trio) decided to stick around in the common room for a few hours chatting and catching up with their housemates.

However when Harry got back to his new dorm room, the first thing he did after climbing into his new four poster bed and drawing the curtains closed was pull out the Marauders' Map and take a look at who was in the castle, making sure there were no names he knew shouldn't be there and no baby Death Eaters were anywhere but their own dorms. A little paranoid? Sure, but as far as Harry was concerned they really were out to get him. Satisfied, he wiped the map and put it away before he settled in and fell asleep.


Having the second of September be a Saturday felt weird to Harry. He felt like he should be rushing to class, but instead it was the start of the weekend. He had gone and given the first year boys a wake up call. Some of them grumbled at him, frumpy about having to be up, but he told them they would have to get up just as early on Monday so it was best to get Into the habit. He left them to get dressed and made his way down to the common room, where he found Hermione waiting not for him but for the girls she had also just kicked out of bed.

"So once we have dealt with the firsties, what do you want to do with our day?" Hermione asked.

"Well Ron is going on a date with Susan, so it's just us. Why don't we make a day of it as well? Grab a packed lunch and go for a walk around the lake, before the chill really sets in up here?" Harry suggested.

"Oh that sounds lovely," Hermione agreed. They took the first years down to breakfast, showing them the way for the second time, and after breakfast and a short trip to the kitchens to request a couple of packed lunches, they went for a walking date.

"So Harry, it's our O.W.L. year, only three years left in Hogwarts. What do you think you will do after? Say, in five years?" Hermione asked as they strolled between the edge of the forest and the lake.

"Honestly, I'm not sure," Harry replied. Before coming to Hogwarts, my plan was to leave school at sixteen and go find a job, maybe even sign up for the military. Anything to get me away from the Dursleys as soon as possible. But now I have actual options. It's kinda hard to decide, though most likely I will either be playing professional Quidditch or working on a Mastery. I got a few subjects I could see myself pursuing after Hogwarts, I will probably take whichever one I get the best N.E.W.T in. Unless, of course, a Quidditch team makes a good offer. I can always put off a Mastery for a few years while I build my fortune a little."

Hermione had to fight to keep from rolling her eyes and grinning, she already knew all of that. "I meant more like the rest of your life? Where will you live, what about family? Stuff like that."

Harry rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment; now that he thought about it he had told Hermione all that before. "Well, grandfather said renting a house is a waste of money. Something about it costing more and having nothing to show for it at the end. So he said he would give me the gold for a modest starting house. I did some thinking about where to live. My dad's side of the family is Welsh but I grew up English. There is a town on the border called Hay-on-Wye, half of the town is in England and half in Wales. Small enough to be out of the way so it's easy to hide magic…" Harry paused because Hermione had a massive grin on her face. "What?" he asked.

"Harry, Hay-on-Wye is the British Mecca for bibliophiles. It has more book shops per person than anywhere else in the country. Mostly secondhand book shops, some even specialise in antique books," Hermione said.

"Well that will be a good excuse for you to come with me," Harry said hopefully. Hermione paused and just looked at him, and Harry, feeling uneasy, started to ramble. "Well it's just we are together and we are talking about in five years, we will be twenty years old at that point. And grandfather was telling me about witches' and wizards' magic pushing them apart if they weren't compatible with each other. It's apparently why so many magicals get married so soon after leaving school they know they have found a lasting relationship so they don't see the need to wait. And we have been together a year and I still want to be with you. Not that I think we need to get married straight away or anything…I'm going to shut up now."

Hermione couldn't help it; she burst out laughing. She wrapped her arms around Harry and pulled him into a hug. "Harry, of course I will move in with you once we finish school. And we can shelve the marriage talk until then as well. Because there is no way we are ready for that level of responsibility."

"What about you?" Harry asked.

"Pretty much the same, without the Quidditch. My parents started a university fund for me when I was a kid. I'll use that for an academic apprenticeship to get my Mastery. Then I was thinking of joining the Ministry. There are quite a few laws that need improvement, the rights of non-human magical beings for a start. Somewhere I can have a positive impact on the magical world."

"The way you latched on to Colin's idea I would have thought you would aim to be an author." Harry said.

"That feels more like a hobby than a career," Hermione admitted.

"Well if you ever want it, the official Harry Potter biography is yours to write. That should make you an instant best seller," Harry joked.

The rest of the walk was just as enjoyable. They had their lunch on a small rise with the sun at their backs and a great view of the valley. They arrived back at the castle about an hour before dinner, glad to have had some time to themselves.


He looked down at the man who was just finishing testing his blood. Normally he wouldn't let anyone but himself anywhere close to his blood, but needs must, and this particular man had the necessary skills despite how much he had displeased him recently. Still, necessity may mean he had to give the man some of his blood to test, but prudence ment that he was going to watch like a hawk.

"What's the result?" He demanded of the greasy-haired man.

"It is as we fear master, the restoration has stalled. There just wasn't enough of the restoration potion left to finish the job." The man made a show of placing all the remaining blood in an empty cauldron in front of him and casting a fire into it, destroying the leftover blood and any link it had to its owner.

"So for now I'm stuck like this." He waved his hand at himself and his body that was half alive, half Inferius animated by his own force of will. "How do we restart the process?"

"There is enough of the original restoration potion in your system that I could probably make a potion to merge with it and finish the job. However, it would require some rather specific ingredients. Some are just expensive but one will be exponentially difficult."

"Speak plainly Snape," Voldemort hissed.

"Yes my lord. Potter's blood; because it was a key component in your original recipe, it will have to have his blood again unless you wish to start from the beginning again." Snape said, sounding repentant for his waffling.

"Restarting the ritual is not an option. The D.M.L.E. have secured my father's bones, they are a key ingredient." Voldemort said angrily.

"What of your mother's bones? I'm sure I could fix any resulting gender issues that their use could impart." Snape was being very cautious about what he said.

"An idea that isn't without merit," Voldemort conceded, as a temporary inconvenience like that would be more than worth having a fully living body again. "but my mother's bones were burnt and scattered before I could walk. They are unavailable to us. I will just have to get Potter's blood again. Do you think you could use your new position to call him to the hospital for tests and drain him while he is unconscious?"

Snape shook his head. "The oaths required of me for my new apprenticeship prevent me from acting in such a way." He practically spat the word apprenticeship; it was clear he still considered himself a master and found his new position insulting. "And if you want my help capturing Potter, I will need to leave that position, as the oaths include 'do no lasting harm to people save in defence of yourself or another.'"

"No, you are useful in your position at the moment, and I will need a healer's knowledge shortly, knowledge you have access to, do you not?"

"I do my lord. Is there anything I should be researching in preparation?" Snape asked, not having heard anything about this before.

"So you can run and tell your other master my plans? No Snape, I think not." Voldemort sneered.

Snape bowed. "Master, you know I must share information to maintain my cover. But I would never share anything too important."

"Speaking of your other master, what is he working on?" Voldemort asked, his intensity of moments before replaced with curiosity.

"He is obsessed with Potter. He is working on a plan to get himself back in the castle after his attempt to make himself the only option for the Defence position fell through when the werewolf accepted the job again. He is trying to pass a law to install himself in the castle as some type of ministry overseer."

"The old man is obsessed. Still, maybe it is worth checking the prophecy. If Dumbledore knows something I don't then it could be dangerous. You're dismissed. I will want more of the pain potion, so get on that and tell Malfoy I want to speak with him. I need to figure out a way to get Potter's blood."


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