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Poppy Pomfrey entered her hospital wing to find Harry rummaging through her medicine cabinet. "Mr Potter, what are you doing?" she yelled.

"Is this one pink? I can't tell?" he whispered. "I can't really see anymore." His voice was severely slurred.

She ran a scan of him and was startled by the amount of pain that the boy was in. She grabbed the vial he was obviously looking for and held it to his mouth. He sighed as the headache potion hit its mark. "What happened?"

"It was Snape," he replied, still slurring his words. "When he found Heidi gone, he used Ledge . . . Leg . . . he mind raped me for the information."

"And now I know it. I need to leave as soon as . . . but I can't. The students are worth more to me than my life."

"You can't protect us if you're dead, ma'am," he said. "Just get out now, while you can. I won't put it past Dumbles to have you Obliviated."

"Or worse. I know some of his schemes now, and that Severus is helping."

"Knock me out and leave now," Harry said. "He'll mind rape me again, but I can't tell what I don't know."

"He could kill you if he does it again!"

"Dumbledore will kill him if he does so he won't." He shook his head. "That made no sense. Head still hurts. Go. Stay alive. Just remember Deutsche Bank, Einar Hogunson and my name. That should help you."

"I'll try. I'm not used to this, though." She grabbed another vial and filled it. "Dreamless Sleep. It should leave you unconscious for at least eight hours. More, since you're healing." He lay on his bed and drank it, and was out almost immediately.

She ran to her room to grab her money bag and a change of clothing, and then left the infirmary. There were routes to the infirmary that only the staff ever used, and even then it was infrequently. She hoped that no one else thought of it.

No such luck. She was met by Minerva on her way out. "Poppy! Where are you going in such a hurry?"

"I need to speak with Madam Rosmerta, Min," she said quickly. "The wing is quiet, and Potter is down for the night, healing. I can leave for a few minutes without a real problem."

"Would you like some company?"

"I'd love some, but we all have duties, and this is the first full day of the school year. As much as I'd like your companionship, I know you've got House duties to perform." She sighed, hoping that it wasn't too theatrical. "Probably for the best. I shouldn't be away too long, and if you're with me, I might be tempted to stop and sit with a cup of tea with an old friend. We don't get to do that enough."

"I understand. Hurry back." With that, Minerva bustled away to continue her work, and Poppy held in the sigh of relief.

It was not over yet, however. Her worst point was going to be getting out through the front doors. If they were after her immediately, then they'd be prepared for her exit right there. She cocked her head and then smiled as she thought of a potential solution. I hope Mr Potter forgives me for what I am about to do.

Five minutes later, she was rocketing through the halls of Hogwarts riding Harry Potter's Firebolt. I played Quidditch in school, although only as a Keeper. I think I can handle this. She shot around corners, once scaring a prefect out of her wits as she knocked the hat off the young witch's head.

It was when she exploded out the doors of Hogwarts that it got interesting. Apparently her disappearance had been figured out, and Dumbledore himself was waiting for her. He was not, however, prepared for her to shoot over his head at well over a hundred miles an hour, and his first shot to bring her down was extremely wide.

Her old Quidditch training came back to her, and she jinked around the local obstacles, making the shot that Albus would need to use to bring her down difficult, if not impossible. She was personally hoping for impossible. She also remembered to think three dimensionally, and bounced up and down in her flight from the school. He was only able to get one more shot off before she was well out of his range.

She landed right in front of Rosie's place, and ran in holding the broom. Without a word, she Floo'd to the Ministry and then ran for the Ministry's Apparation point. Moments later she was in France, outside her sister's home.

The door opened and the bone-weary woman was dragged inside the house. "Poppy? What's wrong?"

"I need to get to the Deutsche Bank as soon as it opens, Margaret," she gasped. "It could be a matter of life and death."

"Wizarding or Muggle?" her younger sister asked.

"Wizard."

"You rest while I call them, then, and see if anyone is available." The woman began to walk away.

"Mention the names Einar Hogunson and Harry Potter. It's apparently very important."


"She seems to have realised what was likely to happen, Albus," Severus said as he entered the office. "Potter is under the influence of Dreamless Sleep, and the only antidote I could give him would likely kill him with the damage I did getting the information regarding the three chits."

"So what do we do now?" Remus asked. "From what you tell me, if they can get Hogunson involved, then a very large wrench gets thrown into your plans. We need for Harry to defeat Riddle and then die in the process. He's showing signs of becoming a very powerful wizard, and we're already in trouble with one Dark Lord with immense power. We don't need him replaced with one just as powerful, or more so!"

"As ever, your grasp of the obvious is astounding, werewolf."

"As is your ability to screw things up, Snivellus. If you'd have been able to avoid getting into a dick-waving contest with a girl - who won the contest in the long run, if you think about it - then we wouldn't be worrying about the alliances that Harry has been building."

Before Severus could return the scathing retort he was obviously planning, Albus interjected, "Remus is right in both, Severus. Had you kept your temper, this never would have happened. And Harry building international alliances is a very bad sign for when he attempts to become a Dark Lord." He shook his head. "Unfortunately, this turn of events means that a large portion of this will likely be fought in the public eye. I shall have to see how we can keep the press away."

"You know how the press is, Dumbledore. Alter things a bit," Remus said. "Chang is the homosexual, but let slip to the press that Harry is instead, and that he's overcompensating or trying to fool everyone by having three girls on his arm. Hints can be made about Chang's sexuality, and you get Granger in the splash as well. I'd imagine that with that all across the headlines, some of the political wrangling will slide beneath most people's notice."

Severus looked at the man with the closest to admiration that he would ever come. "That was quite Slytherin of you. I'm surprised that you were capable."

"Hiding a condition like mine for as many years as I have is conducive to letting out my Slytherin side. And thank you for the compliment." At Severus's extremely expressive eyebrows questioning his sanity, Remus added, "For you, that was a compliment."

"Sorry about that. Never meant it to be."

Remus simply snorted.


September 4th, Daily Prophet

POTTER A POUFTAH!

Does the Boy-Who-Lived bang boys?

By Rita Skeeter

It has come to this reporter's attention that our precious Boy-Who-Lived may not be as pristine and pure as we all thought. It seems that he has been caught multiple times in various broom cupboards over the years with members of his own gender, in very compromising positions.

Many will point to the fact that he has recently been seen with multiple women of admittedly attractive appearance (although one wonders what magics Miss Hermione Granger has used to improve her once exceedingly plain appearance). Overcompensation, readers. The girls feel safe being around him, most likely, knowing that their virtue is going to remain intact.

There is another possibility as well. It is known that Miss Chang is a homosexual, according to Marietta Edgecombe, whom Miss Chang apparently sexually assaulted this past summer. It has also been reported that Miss Granger planted a very public and very romantic kiss on Miss Chang's lips during the Welcoming Feast at the school.

Is this group giving each other a public alibi - supposed 'proof' of their heterosexuality - while actually being involved in perversions behind closed doors?

Do we really want Pouftah Potter where he can prey on our other students?


"This has Dumbledore all over it," Hermione growled. "This sort of report will generate all sorts of Howlers that Dumbledore will happen to let through the wards, which will demand his removal from the general population. Dumbles will accede to the insistence of the Board, giving him complete control over Harry. He will then hold him hostage for as long as he can. Make no mistake - he'll use him as a bargaining chip."

"I suspect as much," Einar said. "All I can do is go ahead at full speed." His eyes narrowed. "I do not know how, but that young man has touched me in a way I would not have expected. I begin to feel as if he were my son, and that bodes quite poorly for your Albus Dumbledore."

"What can we do?" Cho asked. "He's got our Harry, and he's already dissolved the betrothal contract. More precisely, he convinced my parents to do so in a manner that prevents its reinstatement." She had received the letter from her parents informing her of the payment of thirty pieces of silver to Harry's account for his breaking of their contract by lying to them. Such a payment was a mortal insult if falsely given. She had written back to her parents informing them that since she was seventeen years old, she was now considered an adult, and would have nothing to do with them ever again for their insult of Harry. They had disowned her.

Hermione's parents were livid, and her father was still prone to moments of blinding rage at Dumbledore's and Skeeter's treatment of their daughter. It was unlikely that she would ever return to Hogwarts while Dumbledore had a presence in the school.

Heidi seemed unable to laugh or even smile in the last few days. Being bested and badly wounded, followed by being forced to leave her principal (and fiancé) behind, and then reading the insults aimed at him had changed her. She was out for blood now.

"This will blow up in Dumbledore's face," Einar said. "He cannot kill Harry because of the true prophecy. More precisely, he will not kill him. That reluctance to do whatever is necessary to prevent our retrieving him will spell their doom. I would imagine that he will do whatever is necessary to escape from the school, and from what you tell me, he has those who will support him within the halls of Dumbledore's castle. Dumbledore is fighting a losing battle, for there are those believed to be either powerless or on his side who will help us instead, by helping Harry."

"Is there anything that we can do other than sit around waiting?" Poppy Pomfrey asked.

"Right now? No."


Dumbledore was smiling as he entered the room where he had Harry locked. "Well, my boy, I have completed negotiations on your behalf. The Changs have renounced the contract, giving you the betrayer's price for not dealing with them in good faith, so that left you open once more for negotiations with an acceptable pureblood family."

"Now I understand Ginny's attitudes during the train ride and over these past few days."

"Precisely! I am glad you approve!"

"I didn't say that, Albus," he replied. "I said that I understood. Tell me - what will happen to the contract - and more precisely to the negotiator - when it is discovered that the contract was negotiated illegally? And what will happen to the family?"

"There will be no worries about that, Harry, because the wedding will be performed before the week is out, so that even after Hogunson manages to unearth the paperwork, he will be completely unable to undo the marriage, and you will be properly bound to the Light side."

"They're in your back pocket - how can they be Light side?"

"I wish you could understand, Harry. There is a great darkness out there, and so few can resist it. It shows its tendrils in you by your refusal to work with me toward the destruction of Voldemort."

"So you are the final arbiter of who is Light and Dark?"

"Few have the clarity of vision that I have worked for these many years. But some trust my vision, such as Remus and the Weasleys. Severus. Minerva. A few others, such as Alastor and Nymphadora, offer further support as they may."

"Thanks for the list of traitors," Harry said brightly. "I'll remember it at your trial."

Dumbledore shook his head. "I hope that I can make you understand. No worries, however. You will enjoy your wedding greatly."

"Are you really sure that you wish to inflict 'Pouftah Potter' on the Weasley family?" Harry asked with a mocking tone.

"That story can easily be refuted. But for now, it is for the greater good." He stood and walked from the room, and Harry heard the click and then the squelch.

Not that it matters. He's got my wand. He walked the room as he had so many other times these past few days. He could see sparkles and feel twinges as he walked throughout the room. Makes sense, though. He's locked the room, and even if I climb out the window, I've got a narrow handhold on the stone and probably a hundred feet or more to the ground.

He opened the window and looked down. There's a ledge down there, but it's a bit of a drop. He looked back to his bed and then grinned. That ledge is about twenty or thirty feet down. I'm betting that if I tear the bedsheets into strips and braid them together, I can make a rope strong enough and long enough to get me down there.

He closed the window and waited for the lights to go out. That was his signal to sleep. Dumbledore, of course, did not know about his ability to see magic, and the fact that Harry was getting used to sleeping in light as bright as day. He peeled the top and bottom sheets from the bed and looked for a sharp edge in the room, chuckling as he realised that Dobby had left his dinner things alone. He grabbed the knife and used the serrated edge to rip the blanket evenly, and soon had two inch strips that were six feet long. Counting them came to forty-eight of them, so he divided them into three even groups and began tying the ends together tightly, until he had three long strands. He tested each knot to ensure that it was strong.

When his three strands were done, he took the ends and tied them together and began to braid them. It wasn't long before he was tying a knot in the other end, a strong makeshift rope in his hands. He tied the one end to a wall sconce after verifying that it could hold his weight, and then threw the end out the window.

When he had reached the ledge, he looked further down and realized that the rope came to within twenty five feet of the ground. He could likely climb all the way down, and the twenty foot drop at the bottom, into soft grass, would likely not harm him. If it did? Well, he knew how to make a splint.


The Ministry was in an uproar. The head of the European gnome confederacy had arrived and was demanding information regarding his guardian. This had most workers in a tizzy, because they hadn't ever known that there was any other type of gnome than those brain dead potatoes that they threw over their fences. A short time into the uproar, Albus Dumbledore soared into the Ministry, quite obviously angry. Most sighed in relief, because he would obviously fix the situation.

They were wrong.


Dumbledore was angry, and he would show that child just how angry when he returned him to his control. He fought the anger from his face and demeanour before looking to the gnome leader and asking, "How can we help you today, sir?"

Einar Hogunson looked at him and said, "Where is Harry Potter, Mr Dumbledore? After you illegally dissolved a betrothal contract and declared a marriage null and void, you now keep my ward in seclusion?"

"I believe that you will find that the paperwork you refer to was in error, sir," Albus said diplomatically. "It did not actually transfer guardianship to you."

"I had that paperwork looked over by a member of your own Ministry, good sir. A member of your own Unspeakables. His work is unimpeachable."

"Oh, which one? Some are not properly up to date on the most recent changes."

"Later. Now, is anyone in this building capable of doing a proper paperwork search and locating the information I seek?"

"You do not endear yourself to the wizarding public, sir," Dumbledore said with some affront.

"I have no desire at this time to endear myself to the British wizarding public. A young man that I have come to think of as a son has gone missing, last seen at your school. His wife and his intended were forced to leave the school at high speed, for fear of being Obliviated by someone on your staff. A staff member left under similar circumstances, after learning that you have no intention of giving Mr Potter a fighting chance against your Dark Lord. She was literally in fear for her life, and reports that you personally fired at her as she left the school. And worst of all, one of your employees fired on my employee because she was doing her job of guarding my ward!"

"You speak dangerously," Dumbledore said with a growl. "That could be taken as threats that could lead to war between our peoples."

"Right now, Dumbledore, your actions are what drives this inexorable drive toward the war that you threaten. I want the paperwork found, and I want Harry Potter brought to me."

"So that you can deliver him to the Dark Lord?" Dumbledore fired back. "Don't think that I haven't found links between your people and Voldemort, Hogunson!"

"So war it is, then?" Einar replied quietly.

"DUMBLEDORE!" bellowed a woman from the edge. "WHAT IN MERLIN"S NAME ARE YOU DOING? YOU DON"T SPEAK FOR THE MINISTRY IN THIS!"

"Madam Bones, I -" he began imperiously.

She would have none of it. "You are perilously close to a stint in one of our cells if you keep inciting this toward war! You do not work for the Ministry - you are a member of the Wizengamot - WHICH IS NOT IN SESSION!"

Before anyone could say anything further, a young wizard came running up to the group. "Mr Hogunson?" he asked, looking around.

"Yes?" Einar asked.

"I have your paperwork, and the more recently input paperwork by the Chief Mugwump." Dumbledore made a move to reach for them, but Einar took them before he could touch them.

"If my services are not needed here," Dumbledore said in rather a huff, "then I believe that I shall retire back to Hogwarts."

"I wouldn't if I were you," Madam Bones said. "You and I need something of a talk after I'm done speaking with Minister Hogunson."

"I do not believe that you can hold me here," he replied darkly.

"Nor do you want her to keep you here," Einar said into the quiet, "especially since these documents show that you knew quite well that my claim to guardianship was valid. You have your own version of the Death Eaters secreted about the Ministry, don't you?"

"Are you equating me with Voldemort?" Dumbledore exploded.

"Yes."

This simple one word answer had a startling effect on the assembled people. There was dead silence for several seconds, and then a cacophony of people talking and yelling over each other. Dumbledore tried to disappear in the sudden flurry, but Amelia Bones was watching him too carefully. "Don't make me stun you, Albus," she said. "I won't hesitate to."

He seemed to collapse in on himself for a moment, before suddenly bursting upward and firing a series of spells. Everyone ducked in order to avoid being hit, and by the time any of them looked back in Dumbledore's direction, he was gone.

"Madam Bones?" Einar asked. "Are you empowered to speak for your government?"

"I'm in charge of law enforcement, not diplomacy."

"Law enforcement is what we need at the moment. We shall need to go to Hogwarts and free my ward, and arrest Severus Snape."

"Now would be the time for that, given that Dumbledore is probably not returning to Hogwarts right now."

"How soon can you have a team together?"


Fifteen minutes later saw Amelia Bones leading a troop of Aurors up the walkway to the Entrance Hall of Hogwarts. They were met by Minerva McGonagall. "May I help you?" she asked in her thick brogue.

"Yes. Give us access to Severus Snape, and if he is here, Albus Dumbledore. Also, tell us where Harry Potter is."

"I've not seen him," she replied. "Not since he was hospitalised after firing on a professor."

"I've heard a rather different story from witnesses, Minerva. My niece being one of them."

"Hey Tonks!" yelled a student from the side. Amelia looked up to see that it was a Weasley. Being male, it was likely Ronald Weasley. "Here to help Dumbledore do more damage to Harry?"

"Care to explain that, Auror Tonks?" Amelia asked with a raised eyebrow.

"He's the kid who got hit by the brains a few months ago, ma'am. I doubt his sanity." She gave Ron a look that promised retribution.

"Mr Weasley, why would you know Auror Tonks in the first place?"

"She and Shacklebolt are part of Dumbledore's -" his face blanked at that moment, and he began to look confused.

"Who performed that Obliviation?" she yelled, spinning on her Aurors.

"It was the big black one with the earring!" one of the girls yelled. "I saw him point his wand at Ron!"

Before anyone could react, Amelia Bones had dropped both Shacklebolt and Tonks. "Looks like we're taking these two in for questioning as well. Care to explain who else is involved with this?" Amelia asked Minerva.

"Why do you believe that I would know?" the professor blustered.

"Because you dote on Albus and think he can do no wrong."

A sandy-haired boy ran up. "If you can, get some people at the Shrieking Shack and at the Whomping Willow. A few should be outside Honeydukes as well. There are apparently secret tunnels at those places."

"You think that Dumbledore and Snape know of them?"

"Snape knows the Whomping Willow one," Ron said. "He's used it before. Seamus is right, though. If either of them is still here, they'll be running for those places to be able to Apparate away."

She motioned and several Aurors broke away and headed to cover the areas in question. Two others picked up Tonks and Shacklebolt and returned to the Ministry. This still left ten Aurors with her. "Now it's time to figure out where Mr Potter might be. Any suggestions as to how to find him?"

"Could try Hedwig," Ron suggested. "Might not work, but it's worth a shot."

That quickly turned out to be a dead end, because the striking white owl was nowhere to be seen. "I wonder what they did with his owl?" she asked out loud, not really expecting an answer.

"Well, it's another way to control him," Ron said with a near growl.

"True. Unfortunately, that means that we now have to go about this the long way, and attempt to search an entire castle with potentially hostile teachers hampering us."

They had begun the trip back to the front of the school when a silvery dart stopped in front of her and murmured. She snickered. "Mr Weasley? Can you get your broom and return here? I have a mission for you."

He pointed toward the castle and called out "Accio broom!" At Ginny's startled look, he said, "Harry did it, and I've been studying this summer." A moment later, his broom zoomed in.

"If you could circle the castle, I think you'll see where I want you to check out, Mr Weasley. There's an Auror beneath the spot as well."


Ron Weasley mounted his broom and headed off in the direction that the silver dart had come from. He hadn't gotten far when he saw immediately why she had reacted, and why she had snickered. "Harry, you sneaky bastard!" he said with a laugh as he looked at the makeshift rope. "Living with the Muggles did you a world of good in this case!" He looked down at the Auror, who waved up at him.

He flew down to the man. "I think somehow that Potter's not here anymore," the Auror said with a small smile.

"Y'think?" Ron replied with a laugh.

"Would you mind looking in the room and see if there's anything else we can find out, like where to get to the room without a broom?"

"If it helps find my friend? I'll draw fire from Death Eaters if that's what it takes."

"Luckily, it just calls for flying up to a window," was all that the Auror said.

Ron's flight was quick, and he landed inside the room with little trouble. He pulled his wand and aimed at the door after noting that it was locked. "Alohamora!" The click told him that the door was now unlocked, so he opened it, and immediately scowled. While he couldn't immediately remember being in there before, the fact that it was Dumbledore's office was blatant.

His anger was impressive when he recognised a particular wand on the desk. He nearly vibrated with rage before walking back out and yelling to the Auror, "Get Madam Bones up to the Headmaster's office!" The Auror nodded and fired off the communication spell, while Ron waited in the office.


It took several minutes for Einar to be able to speak to Harry when he appeared, because the ladies were laughing and crying over him. "Are you feeling better, dear boy?" Poppy asked. "After that monster did what he did to your mind, I'm astonished that there wasn't permanent damage."

"Not for lack of trying on his part," Harry said. "And I am so glad that most wizards insist on remaining ignorant of Muggle customs and ideas. If Dumbledore had thought that I might be able to do what I did with those sheets . . . well, I wouldn't be here right now."

"What you did do once you were free was brilliant," Einar said. "Floo to a destination that people can't remember due to the Fidelius covering the place, and then Floo to another location from there. Going to Ms Houghtailing's studio was excellent thinking."

"Although waking up from being Stunned when I appeared without warning was less than fun."

"What was she wearing at the time?" Hermione asked. "That might explain it."

"I have no idea. Was that why she Stunned me? Should I have complimented her clothes when I burst in on her like that?"

"What if she was naked at the time?" Cho asked with amusement.

"Good point. She Stunned me before I had a chance to see. Besides, I've got three right now. I don't need a fourth, and she's more of a big sister to me."

The assembled people started to smile at that comment when a familiar snowy owl drifted into sight. "It's Hedwig!" Hermione said, a bit unnecessarily.

"It's for you," Harry said as he turned to look at his owl with his own wide smile.

Sure enough, Hedwig flew past Harry and landed near Hermione, holding out her leg for delivery. As soon as she had been relieved of the message, Hedwig flew the short distance to Harry and perched on his arm. "I need to get owl treats as soon as possible. She deserves them." There was an answering bark from her, and he chuckled. "Yes, I know. I've neglected you horribly this summer. Dumbledore used you as a pawn in his game against me, and I'm sorry you were put in that position." She bobbed her head and nipped his finger gently. "Thank you for forgiving me, girl." The others were looking at him when he was finished, and there were soft smiles on all the faces.

"I assume that you sent the letter?" Cho said. "It would explain why you knew who it was for."

"Yeah. I escaped from Dumbledore because he forgot that the non-magical make due without magic. He's still got my wand somewhere. But all the important things I did involved no wand-waving."

"'Hermione,'" the addressee read, "'Worry not. This message should get to you after I'm there. If not? Well, I'm free of AD for the mo, and on the run. Talk to KH (EH knows her) and see if she's heard from me.'" She looked up. "'Worry not?'"

"Faster to write. Less letters than 'don't worry'. I was still on Hogwarts grounds right then. Maybe only one and a punctuation, but you'll note the entire letter was written fast. Every second counted, as far as I was concerned."

She nodded and then pulled him in for another welcoming kiss. He returned it with a fervour that startled her, and she noticed that he was shaking. "What's wrong?"

"I looked up to that bastard, and all he's been setting me up for is to fight Riddle and die against him. I'm sure that's who the Dark Lord in question is - if I don't do something, then Dumbledore rises to control everything with his 'It's for the greater good' crap, where he takes everyone's freedom."

"Did he tell you that he was going to kill you?" Hermione asked, aghast.

"No, but his demeanour made it obvious. Explaining his plans does sort of make that clear. Telling me that no one else has his 'clarity of vision'? He has no intention of letting me stick around and bother anyone, or tell anyone what he told me. Besides, I think that even after I'm done with Riddle, I'd like to leave the U.K. and let British wizarding society finish the job of destroying itself from the inside." He shook his head. "I'd do it now, but that would leave Dumbledore in charge, and Riddle alive to kill more people. So we defeat the both of them. Actually, I think we'll need to return to Hogwarts, to be honest. Once word gets out that Dumbles is losing it, Voldemort will attack. If I'm there to deal with it, then we can finally be clear of that menace. And if Dumbles is nowhere to be seen at that battle? It helps us discredit the man even more."

"Are you sure you want to leave?" Hermione asked.

"Not really. Part of me wants to, but I'm not going to insist that the two of you leave your home country just because I've gotten tired of being picked on." He looked to Heidi. "For that matter, I'd probably be forcing you from that big penthouse of yours."

Cho giggled. "Harry? Ever hear of commuting? Floo? Apparating?"

"She's right," Heidi said. "There's room for all of us to have our own rooms for those times when we want to be alone, and still have one big bedroom with a big bed we all can sleep in. You could live in Germany or the United States or wherever you want to. You mean more to me than a damned apartment building. I'll even sell it at a loss, if I have to."

"Don't do that. We'll worry about what to do later on. First, let's get Riddle and Dumble out of the way. Then we can decide where our orgy suite will be."

"Let's get other things out of the way first," Heidi said. "You have a woman here that you are betrothed to, and there's nothing I can see in the way of marrying her."

"True. That reminds me, though - when the Ministry admits that Dumbledore lied to the Chang family, I want whomever Einar is willing to sic on them to get back that seventy-five hundred Galleons. They broke the contract, so I want them to return it." He grinned a rather nasty grin. "I think that, with Cho's permission, we make sure that word gets out that they also gave me the traitor's payment."

"Go ahead. They aren't my family anymore."

He blinked. "Your choice or theirs?"

"Disowned," she said with a sniff.

He pulled her into a hug. "Then we need to check the rules as to whether or not you still qualify as a witch fulfilling the Black requirement, but we're marrying either way."

He stopped and furrowed his brow for a moment. "Either magic or the prophecy or something has sped up the process, as far as I can tell, because I shouldn't feel like this without knowing you for a lot longer, but I love you, and am going to marry you whether or not you fulfil some stupid requirement for a family that doesn't really have any members anymore."

She sniffed again. "I want to be your wife as soon as we legally can, Harry. And once I am, I want you to destroy them. Take their apothecary from them. Bankrupt them. Maybe then I'll accept the apologies I know that they'll try to give to assuage their so-called honour."


"So, Mr Snape," Amelia Bones said with some relish, "you admit to being a member of You Know Who's ranks, but say that it is only as a spy for Dumbledore."

"And I am also aware that he is likely to hang me out to dry, as the saying goes," was the resigned response. "I have no one else who can vouch for my membership, as far as I can tell, because none of the other people who know me as working for the Light are Death Eaters."

"Are there those who can vouch for your sympathies?" she asked.

"Yes, but they are not in your best graces right now. Minerva McGonagall, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and - of course - everyone's favourite werewolf. Perhaps Arthur Weasley might be willing."

"What can you tell me of Dumbledore's plans, and why you were so mixed up in them?"

"Dumbledore is aware that the Dark Lord will fall, but the prophecy in question states that Potter will rise in his place. As for why I am so mixed up in them? Between Albus controlling my freedom and the blood feud between myself and the Potters, I think that largely explains things."

"Why did you not come forward with some of your information when you realised that the Headmaster was blatantly breaking the law?"

"First off, as much as the phrase annoys me even more than Potter does, I truly believe that Albus is doing things for the greater good of the wizarding world. And if I didn't, this tattoo on my arm is a one way ticket to a cell, without ever speaking to someone in authority. I doubt that just anyone can approach you, or else you'd have all the people who believe the Quibbler trying to get you to investigate their various . . . ideas."

"True, in regards to approaching me. But do you truly believe that Albus Dumbledore casting an Unforgivable on someone is for 'the greater good'? That illegally ending a betrothal contract in such a way that it will end up destroying a family in all likelihood is for 'the greater good'? His methods are likely to leave young Mr Potter dead!"

Snape grinned slightly. "Please, I doubt you are trying to make me happy. Did you not hear that the prophecy states that Potter will rise to take You Know Who's place?"

"I think I need to talk to the Department of Mysteries. I need to hear this prophecy."


Dark Lord Dumbledore?

By Dillwyn Barton

Sources at the Ministry are talking about an investigation that will rock the wizarding world. In fact, it is already starting to.

It seems that Albus Dumbledore has been less than honest with us over the years. This came to light when an incident happened a few days ago, where he single-handedly almost brought us to war with another magical species, which likely would have brought other magical populations into the mix.

It has long been understood that Albus Dumbledore was the wizarding guardian for the Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter. Apparently, this summer led to a situation where Mr Potter legally petitioned for a change in guardianship. (The reason for this is as yet undiscovered by this reporter, but it raises questions as to what had led to such a course of action.) This change was authorised by international wizarding courts at The Hague, and several actions were undertaken because of this, including a marriage that satisfies the Potter family requirements, and a betrothal contract to satisfy the Black family requirements for continuing the line.

Evidence uncovered in the Ministry shows that Albus Dumbledore faked paperwork and evidence to make it appear that the guardianship change was illegal, and he proceeded to reverse the marriage and break the contract.

As we began the process of unravelling some of his machinations, we find further, uglier things that the man has done in his lifetime. Apparently, Dumbledore has subverted several members of the Aurors, and has altered placement records for Mr Potter. He was apparently placed with abusive Muggles until he left them earlier this summer. (Note that this writer does not blame all Muggles for this. Much as there are bad seeds amongst wizards, there are the same within the Muggle world.)

Dumbledore has also apparently used this very paper to damage Mr Potter's reputation. It has been discovered that Ms Rita Skeeter was requested to write a very slanted article by the Headmaster. Most of the population of wizarding Britain has read this article and believes Mr Potter to be a homosexual. Given the truthfulness of the Headmaster being so very uncertain at this time, it is this author's opinion that the Skeeter article should be ignored.

On a related topic, Ms Rita Skeeter has been suspended from the Daily Prophet staff indefinitely.


"He's got powerful people in his pockets," Dumbledore grumbled to Arthur and Remus after reading the Daily Prophet. "I fear that I shall have to find a way to provoke Tom into an attack, and hope that Harry will arrive, fight him, and die alongside him. If not, Harry will end up controlling the entire wizarding world in short order. I will not have that! I have worked too hard my entire life to see to it that we do not fall to darkness."

"One question, Albus," Arthur said. "What will happen to you if they don't overturn the gnome leader's petition, and end up declaring the betrothal contract with Ginny null and void? We won't take much by way of damage, being seen as 'being taken in by the master manipulator'," he said in disgust at the idea, "but it could irreparably harm your ability to work easily within the wizarding world."

"Quite honestly, Arthur, once Harry is dead, the history will be written by the victors," Remus said. "With Harry out of the way, we can tell people how Albus was trying to fight Harry's turn to the dark, but how the dark was too seductive to the boy."

"I am also working on bills to place before the new Minister to allow us to overturn the Potter and Black wills," Albus said. "I do not relish those monies going to dark pursuits. Once my position is reinstated, I shall speak to the Wizengamot and convince them as to the logic of these bills."

The other two men nodded. "Albus, I need to be going," Arthur said. "I've got a job at the Ministry, and they're checking things too carefully for my taste right now. If I take too long a lunch hour, they'll investigate me, and where I'm travelling."

"Go, Arthur. And thank Molly for the lunch she prepared for us. It was as delicious as ever."

The balding redhead Apparated away, leaving the werewolf and Dumbledore together. "I'm still your man, Albus," Remus said. "After all you've done for me in my life - hell, you made sure I had a life - I'm yours to order."

"It doesn't bother you that you might be called upon to deliver the stroke to Harry if Tom or I can't for some reason?"

"Of course it does!" Remus shot back hotly. "I'd be as Dark as You Know Who if I could do it without qualms!" He stopped and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, sir. It doesn't help that I've got this Dark curse that will someday likely kill me. I'm hoping that someone will put me down before I hurt someone. But as far as Harry is concerned, it hurts a lot. He's the last connection to the only real friends that I've ever had in my life, and knowing that he has to die to keep him from falling completely to the Dark is painful. But for me to stand by and wait for him to become a major force for destruction just because he's the son of my friends? That would likely be darker than anything he might do."

"I am sorry for the pain that this will cause you," Albus said softly. "If I knew how to save you from the pain, I would."

Remus waved a hand at the man. "Don't. The fact that I can still feel the pain for the possibility tells me that my curse is still under my control, and not the other way around." Dumbledore simply nodded sagely.

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