Best Served Cold
October 1, 1995
“He is not safe on his own, Sirius. Where is he?” Dumbledore asked once more. He was beginning to become exasperated at the man.
“I specifically never asked, Albus. I have no idea, and we carefully do not stay in touch except for postcards and letters sent the Muggle way, which are always routed a different way each time. And before you think about sending a tracer or Portkey to him that way, I should tell you that he’s already thought of that. The drop at his end cancels all magic on incoming letters, be it beneficial or not. If it can’t be cancelled, it’s destroyed. Harry told me that’s how it was set up, at his request, because he expects that either you or Voldie will try something that way.”
Albus frowned. “He has chosen the worst possible time to be childish about this, Sirius. His safety is paramount.”
“It is being taken care of, Albus. Where is he? Besides, why should you care? You made your position fairly clear to him this summer. You spoke to him once, to tell him he was as much a prisoner in this house as I am. Other than that, you have treated him as non-existent. Is it to toughen him up? Is it because you’re disappointed that the Diggory boy died and you feel that Harry didn’t do enough to save him? Is it something else?” Sirius shrugged. “No matter. I'm not being told where he is, because I don’t want you or Snape rooting around in my skull to pull it ‘for the greater good’. And by the way - both the Americans and the British Prime Minister are aware of what’s happening. If Harry doesn’t report to them in some way or another, then a whole can of ‘international incident’ opens up on you. Harry will contact you when he’s ready to.”
"I just worry. There are things he does not know, Sirius."
"And whose fault is that, hmm, Albus?"
January 10, 1996
"Please, Miss Granger, I must know where he is."
"Well, I can't tell you, sir. He never told me. All I know is that I took my bikini with me, and that there was sand. We took a Portkey that was supplied for us. He is safe, and happy."
"How can he be? His wand was snapped."
Her eyes twinkled, and if it had been anyone other than Dumbledore, they would have known that she was biting back a fairly racy comment. "I'm not sure, but he certainly seemed happy to see me," was what she finally chose to say.
"Miss Weasley? I know that you are still close to him. Perhaps -"
"I wasn't allowed to be there this break." She frowned for a moment before continuing. "Not to be rude, sir, but this is exactly why he's not telling anyone. You pester people about it, and Professor Snape simply Legilimences people, whether or not it's legal to do so, because he knows that you'll protect him, because you find him vital to the war effort or something. So he says nothing to anyone that can give it away."
"To be honest, sir, when we went to the beach, it was by Portkey," Hermione added. "For all I know, we could have been ten feet away from where he was living, or a thousand miles."
Dumbledore sighed. "Very well. You may return to your Tower." They turned and left the office. As they headed downstairs, he could hear Miss Weasley say, "I note that you said you took your bikini. Did you wear it?"
"Let's just say that I've got no tan lines, and …" Their voices faded as they exited at the bottom of the stairs.
"We must find him," Albus murmured. "Voldemort will come after him, and he is unprepared."
"Whose fault is that, Albus?" asked the portrait of Armando Dippet.
June 12, 1996
"This is intolerable, Dumbledore!" Umbridge said. "Potter must be found and returned to England to perform his duty to the wizarding world!"
Cornelius was about to say something, but Dumbledore cut him off. "This is, of course, the same Harry Potter whom you and Cornelius railroaded last August? The same Harry Potter who not only had his wand snapped, but had the pieces incinerated, thereby destroying a brother wand to Voldemort's wand?" He met Dolores's eyes. "Feel free to run back to your master with that titbit, madam. I am certain he already knows it, or planned it."
"How dare you!" she shrieked. "I am Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic, and you will respect my office and title!"
Albus did not rise to his feet. He merely released his aura, which beat heavily upon the two. "And I am once more Headmaster of Hogwarts, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, and once more the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. If we are throwing around titles to be respected, Dolores, then you had best be respecting mine." He pulled his aura back in, murmuring, "I begin to understand why Harry and the others get annoyed at my insistence that they respect Severus."
They seemed properly cowed at that, and Percy Weasley, who had come to take notes as necessary, looked as though he needed new pants and trousers. Albus continued as if his outburst had not been required. "I have been in contact with the Muggle Prime Minister, who was apparently instrumental in the removal of Harry from England. Harry is still a subject of the British Crown, but it was made clear that were he to be found by us, both the Queen and his hosting country would take it rather strongly amiss were he to be simply retrieved. We will have to actually petition Harry and convince him of the rightness of our need for him."
Dolores scoffed. "How much fight could his hosting country put up?"
"Ignoring that it might be China, Japan, or the United States," Dumbledore said, "there is also the small matter of offending the Queen, to whom the Ministry, and therefore the wizarding people, have several oaths. I have looked at these documents, and let me simply say that the penalties for breaking these oaths would be … severe. The absolute gentlest would be dissolution of our government as it stands, and being placed directly under the rule of the Queen. Death would be a kindness to those who willfully and knowingly broke these oaths."
"To clarify, Headmaster," Percy Weasley asked softly into the silence of the room, "are you stating that an attempt by the Ministry to reclaim Harry Potter would be seen as breaking these oaths to the Crown."
"It has been made clear to me, through diplomatic language, that Her Majesty would see it exactly that way, Percival." He smiled and said, "May I say once again just how much I admire your name?"
Percy blinked for a moment, and then clearly remembered one of Dumbledore's many names and chuckled. "Thank you sir." He puffed up and said, obviously mocking himself, "Clearly a name destined for greatness."
"One never knows, Percival," was the reply. The smile disappeared. "I shall begin talks with the Prime Minister to see if we can secure a meeting with Mr Potter. That is the best that we can do at the time."
"We must have him back!" Cornelius nearly wailed. "You Know Who has returned, and we need Potter to fight him! He never should have left England."
"Whose fault is it that he did, Cornelius? Dolores? Whose fault is it?"