HP Year 5: Let the War Begin
Chapter 20

The next day passed in a blur to Harry as he explained to several different groups of people what had happened the previous night, and learned the consequences of his less-than-clever actions the previous night… such as the death of Sturgis Podmore. Harry hadn't known the man well at all, and in fact could barely picture his face when he was told the name, but it didn't stop the guilt. If he had just thought to take someone with him… of course, Sirius and Remus weren't about to let him blame himself, and told him that even if he had gotten Ron or someone to walk with him, Malfoy still would have had the essence of surprise and would have easily overpowered them both.

.

It wasn't until a couple of days after the attack that Sirius and Remus were finally able to tell Harry what was happening with Malfoy –

"Absolutely nothing," Sirius told him bitterly.

"What? How?" Harry asked, entirely confused. He had come directly from breakfast, having spotted Malfoy's return to the Slytherin table.

"He's claiming he was acting under the influence of the Imperious Curse," Remus explained. "The fact that it's illegal to subject a minor to interrogation with use of Veritaserum combined with his father's wealth and willingness to hand out bribes…"

"But Dumbledore doesn't believe that, right?"

"No, he doesn't. But Minister Fudge gets the final say, and Lucius cleverly formed a strong bond with him, way back at the start of his career."

"Why does he? I thought the Headmaster was supposed to have the final say."

"The Minister has the power to step in and fight against any decision he deems unfair or biased, or if he feels there is insufficient proof."

"That's… that's…" Harry trailed off, unable to think.

"We know, kiddo," Sirius told him sympathetically. "We don't like it any better than you do. Once that idiot Fudge gets involved though, there isn't much that can be done."

"The teachers are going to be keeping a closer eye on him from now on, though," Remus assured him.

"That won't stop him."

"It's better than nothing," Sirius sighed. "Just keep your guard up. Don't go walking the corridors alone at night. We can't take the chance of something similar happening again."

"Yeah," Harry agreed, dropping his gaze.

"Don't keep beating yourself up about it, cub," Remus told him gently. "We've already told you it isn't your fault. You need to forgive yourself and move past it."

"But if I hadn't been alone…"

"Malfoy still would've got you. No offence to Ron, Harry, but Malfoy's a better dueller. And you had just had Voldemort in your head. He would have easily over-powered you," Sirius reminded him.

"Not to mention, there's a chance that Luna still would have been taken, only she would have been on her own. Without you there, they'd have killed her on the spot."

"Maybe," Harry said doubtfully.

.

The last few remaining weeks passed quickly enough, with exams and studying taking up most of Harry's time. He did manage to fit in extra training, and even seemed to be doing much better with Occlumency, much to his surprise! He wasn't sure what had changed, but it was suddenly much easier to defend his mind from Snape's, and it didn't even take all that much effort. He put it down to his new-found motivation to do everything in his power to stop Voldemort, after the events that had happened at the Ministry. He didn't want to give Voldemort the chance of harming any of his friends, again.

He had, though, developed a slightly worrying voice in the back of his head. He hadn't mentioned it to anyone yet, as it reminded him of the voice that was always in the back of his mind as a child, always reminding him how worthless he was. Difference was, now the voice didn't insult him; rather, it made subtle comments about others. Oftentimes, it was right, but Harry didn't like it. He didn't like seeing the negative in his friends. No one was perfect, he knew, but where was the point in focusing on their bad points? And so, he ignored the voice, figuring it was just his twisted mind trying to remind him not to trust anybody. Well, he tried his hardest to.

Despite this, the remainder of the year passed without trouble after the end of his exams, and so it was with a much brighter atmosphere than the previous year that Harry boarded the train with his friends. They had marked Viktor's death the previous week with a small picnic on the grounds which Cedric had joined them for, although Fleur had been unable to as she was away on Order business. It had started out a quiet, sad affair until Cedric had decided Viktor would have preferred them happier and had started distracting them all. It had been a nice day, although of course it would have been nicer if Viktor had been alive to be there.

Harry and his friends passed their time on the train by swapping chocolate frog cards, playing games of exploding snap and discussing their upcoming summer. Hermione was going on a holiday to Egypt, but none of the others had any definite plans. Fred and George hinted at something spectacular that they had planned, but refused to spill any information about it, annoying them, especially Ron, to no end.

.

The train eventually slowed to a stop, and Harry stood up with an eager smile, already looking very much forward to this Summer. Since he and Ron were nearest to the luggage rack, they took the job of pulling down everybody's belongings and handing them over to their owners, before finally taking their own and following the others off the train.

Sirius and Remus were standing with the Weasleys, Grangers and Changs, and Harry frowned when he didn't see any sign of Luna's father.

"We're taking Luna," Ginny told him, correctly interpreting his look. "She only lives about a five minute walk away from the Burrow."

"Oh, okay," Harry replied, though the frown stayed on his face as he caught sight of angry expressions on Sirius's and Remus's faces now. Before he had a chance to guess what had them looking so furious, he felt a hand grabbing his arm and tugging him round.

"Uncle Vernon?" Harry asked in shock as his mind scrambled to register just who was standing in front of him. "But you're – you're in jail!" Suddenly realising he had frozen in fear when Vernon grabbed him, Harry forced his mind to work and tried to pull his arm back, yanking so hard he thought he might dislocate his shoulder, but his Uncle's grip was very tight. He didn't look angry, though… actually, his face was almost calm. He was vaguely aware of Sirius and Remus moving towards him, out of the corner of his eye, and then Harry recognised the look in his Uncle's eyes, the glazed-over look that showed his Uncle was unaware of much of anything. He barely had time to register this fact, that his Uncle was under the Imperious curse, before there was a sudden familiar jerk behind his navel and the train station disappeared from sight, morphing instead with a dizzying array of colours into the familiar kitchen at Number Four, Privet Drive.


Sorry for the delay. My parents are getting divorced and school has been a pain, so I haven't really had the energy for this. It was killing me though, knowing that I was leaving you longer and longer without an update, so here we go. I apologise for its shortness, but this chapter did not want to be written, and really, I covered all the important points for year five, so this was more a bridge to year six, the first chapter of which can be found on my profile! I just couldn't bear to leave you with such an awful cliff hanger.

A big thanks to everyone who has followed this series so far. Your reviews and support mean the world to me! I will try my hardest to make sure that year six does not take so long to complete, but as I mentioned above, life is stressful right now, so bear with me.