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Danger Rising

By Kinsfire

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The meal went as usual. The Sorting hat delivered yet another admonishment that the houses needed to work together, and students were Sorted. There were only twenty-four this time, and most of them seemed to end up in Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, with Slytherin and Ravenclaw each getting two.

Professor McGonagall came over to Harry as the feast was ending. "Mr Potter, the Headmaster will see you in his office now."

"Understood, Professor. By the way, before I leave, I'd like to let yo know that there will be roughly two hundred points contested from Gryffindor and fifty from Ravenclaw. Professor Snape was being himself, and taking points like mad as soon as we came in the door."

"I understand. The final arbiter is the Headmaster, but the points should likely be revoked." Harry rose to his feet, Hermione and Heidi rising simultaneously. Cho came over to be with them, and they began to head out the door. "Mr Potter, the Headmaster requested only you."

"For reasons that will become clear - sooner rather than later if you are part of the meeting - these three ladies need to be part of this meeting with the Headmaster."

McGonagall's eyebrows rose nearly to her hairline, but she said nothing more, and the foursome made their way once more to the gargoyle.

"And they conveniently forgot to tell me the password, or leave it open for me. Typical. Heidi, chairs if you would, please?"

"Certainly, Mr Potter," she said, and waved her wand. Four comfortable chairs appeared in the hallway surrounding the gargoyle.

"Shall we take bets on how long it will be before Professor Snape comes down and berates us for not contacting anyone?" he asked when they were all comfortable.

"What would the winner get?" Heidi asked.

"How about kisses in a place of the winner's choosing?" Cho asked, eyes sparkling with amusement.

"Ah, so I win no matter what," Harry replied with a laugh.

"We all do," Heidi replied.

They sat and laughed for about fifteen minutes before the gargoyle moved aside. Professor Snape glared at them. "I assume that it was too difficult to find a way to contact the Headmaster and let him know that you were down here? Or perhaps guess the password, since his preferences are known?"

"I can't speak for you, Professor," Harry said, "but I choose to practise security. It's bad enough that anyone who knows the Headmaster in the slightest knows his password preference, but for me to be sitting here chanting various candies while the possibility is there that someone in the shadows works for Voldemort -"

"Do not repeat the name, Potter. There is a valid reason for not saying it." There was a tone of fear in Snape's voice.

"No one has ever told me why it shouldn't be said, just that it shouldn't. Now, back to my comment. The Headmaster is the only one that Tom fears." Snape inhaled sharply when Harry referred to his nemesis as Tom. "So, my chanting candy names until the gargoyle moves is simply giving the password to a supporter of Riddle's, hence no password guessing. As for sending a message - how? All our things are packed, my Firebolt is in the basement of the school at best, and Cho's is in her luggage as well. Hermione doesn't fly. Heidi is my bodyguard and therefore is not leaving my side. The owlery? Yes, I want to see Hedwig, since you people kidnapped her this summer, but I'd still be heading there at this very moment if I went for an owl. Besides, I figured that this was a petty little revenge for the summer, when I slipped the leash and learned things."

"Upstairs, Potter," Snape growled. "I will not take points from you, because I doubt that you will be a student in Gryffindor for much longer." Harry rose, and the ladies rose with him. "They are not accompanying you, Potter."

"I beg to differ, Mister Snape," Heidi replied in clipped tones. "There are things to which you are not privy that require the presence of myself and these two in the meeting with Headmaster Dumbledore."

Snape narrowed his eyes and glared at Heidi, who met his eyes defiantly. Harry's wand was in Snape's neck immediately while he said "Look away! He's using Legilimency on you!"

"He tried," Heidi said with a glare. "It's not a common thing to learn, but one of my friends at school was an empath. We learned it for her health. I detected Mister Snape's attempt."

"Get your wand out of my neck, Mr Potter," hissed Snape. "I will finally see you expelled for this."

"I somehow doubt that the Headmaster will let his weapon out of his grasp again," Harry replied. "You're welcome to try, but I think you'll find it difficult. Now, ladies? If you'd give me the very great pleasure of walking up the stairs ahead of me?" Harry asked.

"You just want to watch my arse wiggle," Hermione said.

"As an American comic said, 'I am dumb, but I am not so dumb'," he replied impudently. Snape started up the stairs first. "Crying to mama before we can say anything," Harry muttered, but doing so that all could hear it. Snape's neck turned red, but he did nothing else.

Heidi climbed on first and began the ride up, followed by Cho, who whispered, "I do love that arse," to Heidi. Harry squeezed in next to Hermione, and 'accidentally' let his hand land on her bum.

"I'll give you a week to remove that hand, Harry," she whispered.

"And if I don't?"

"Then I'll give you a month."

"If I still don't?"

"Then I guess I'll be stuck with a lifetime of a sexy man fondling my bum," she replied, giggling even as she leaned against him slightly.

As they reached the top, he gave it one final squeeze and let go, while the ladies arrayed themselves around him - Heidi to his left, Hermione to his right, and Cho behind. Not a word was said to put this configuration together. They entered the office as a team.

"Mr Potter, I believe that I requested only you," Albus Dumbledore said kindly, but firmly.

"Perhaps, but I suspect that this conversation will cover things that they have knowledge of as well. Besides, I have need of a change in housing. I do not believe that sleeping in the boys' dormitory of the Gryffindor Tower will be conducive to my study habits this year."

"And why would that be?" Albus asked, amused.

"Because I would not be sleeping with my wife." He reached out and took Hermione's hand.

"I fear that I must deny your request, Harry, since you did not receive permission from your wizarding guardian to marry, therefore the wedding ceremony you underwent is null and void." There was a look of triumph in the man's eyes.

"Ah, you see? Immediately we hit a subject where the presence of the ladies is important. Heidi, if you will?"

"Oh course, Mr Potter." She reached into her purse and pulled out several sheets of paper. "All these are copies - the originals rest in the Ministry and with the people involved. This one shows a legal change of wizarding guardian to Mr Einar Hogunson. This one shows, by the way, that Mr Hogunson has hired me as Mr Potter's bodyguard, and places some restrictions on your ability to remove me from the castle. The third sheet is a permission form for Mr Potter to marry Miss Hermione Granger, and the fourth is the marriage certificate, stating that she is now Mrs Hermione Potter. I believe that you will find all quite legal and within bounds, sir."

Dumbledore looked at the paperwork, a scowl forming on his face at the first, and it only deepened as the paperwork landed before him. By the time the fourth sat before him, he was in a state Harry had never seen on him before, but that he knew had graced this office - rage. The Headmaster gripped the edge of the table and visibly calmed himself down.

"You truly have no idea what you've done, do you?" he asked when his face was no longer an unhealthy shade of red.

"I know that I've gotten out from underneath abusive relatives. I know that I am happy for the first time in a long time. Also, I know that my name isn't Beowulf."

"And what does that have to do with anything?" Snape asked in his trademark sneering drawl.

"'. . . the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches . . . born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies . . . and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not . . . and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives . . . the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies . . .' I'm surprised, sir. I thought that you did better in history of magic than that. That's the Beowulf prophecy." He looked to the Headmaster. "It's also the prophecy that the Headmaster quoted at me less than an hour after Sirius died, knowing that I don't do well in History of Magic." He leaned forward. "That's the real reason you wanted me kept apart from everyone, isn't it? You wanted me to brood, and maybe get angry at my friends, but basically you wanted me to internalise it and not tell anyone, so that they wouldn't tell me how you'd flim-flammed me."

"What's the real reason that you've done this to him, Headmaster?" Heidi asked. "Why have you been his guardian without ever telling him, keeping his key from him - and we'll need that key, thank you very much - and generally controlling his life for him?"

"I do not have to answer to you, Miss . . .?"

"Koenig," Heidi responded. "Very true. But one way or another you will answer, whether to me and Harry's guardian, as I stand proxy for Mr Hogunson, or you will answer to the Wizengamot and International Confederation of Wizards, but answers will be forthcoming." When Dumbeldore smiled, she returned it. "Mind you, your position will avail you not at all, since we would of course demand you recuse yourself from the positions in question during the cases we brought before those august bodies."

She stopped and waited a second. "Do you wish to explain here, or before a large number of people where the press can overhear the accusations?"

Dumbledore scowled. "There are wheels within wheels, Miss Koenig. It is not as simple as you would have Mr Potter believe."

". . . the Dark Lord shall fall to the Marked One . . . beware, though, lest greater evil rise in his stead . . . the Dark Lord shall fall to the Marked One . . ." Harry said. "I've said that right in front of Professor Snape, knowing that he can now run to his other master and deliver." He turned to face Snape. "Remind him to pay very close attention to that, sir. I am the Marked One, and he is the Dark Lord. He will fall, make no mistake."

"Harry, the reason that I told you the Beowulf prophecy was that, yes, I know your History grades, and I was fairly certain that you would be willing to face Tom someday, but not yet. You need training, and I need you to be ready to face him. I don't believe that you are as of this point. I feared arrogance in your demeanour, and that you might doom many people by deciding to run out and fight him, thinking that the prophecy protects you from harm."

"I can understand that, Headmaster. Are you willing to permit the extra training, so that I can deal with the Dark Idiot once and for all?"

"Will you promise not to run off until you are properly trained to kill him?"

"I will give you an Oath, if necessary, not to fight him until I am sure that he will die and I will have a reasonable certainty of surviving the fight. That means I have a better than fifty percent chance of surviving."

The Headmaster looked worried. "I would prefer a better -"

"I'd prefer to promise not to fight him until I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I won't die, but that's a pipe dream. What I can work on is being ready at the drop of a hat to do everything possible to bring him down and live to enjoy life after."

"What if the only method to defeat him involves the sacrifice of your own life, though?" Dumbledore asked, a troubled look in his eyes.

"Unless you know something I don't about his ability to survive, then I don't see that as likely. But if it turned out that the only possible method involved me dying, then I suppose that I'd suck it up and go out like a true Gryffindor." He paused. "Actually, no. A Gryffindor would likely take out half the countryside too, in an overly heroic method of blowing himself up." Cho snickered at that.

"Thank you, Harry," Dumbledore said. "You just pinpointed why oaths are so dangerous, though. Carelessly worded oaths have killed before."

"Well, I said I'd be willing to make an oath. I'd want it properly phrased first."

"You still haven't explained the reason that Miss Chang is here," Snape said. "You have explained that you and Miss Granger are living is sin, I believe the phrase goes."

"Oh no, Professor, it is quite legal and binding. Hermione is, in fact, Hermione Potter. As for Miss Chang's presence? It has come to my attention that an oddity in the Black family charter requires a pureblood wife of at least five generations, and this position cannot be held by any other wife, if the situation is such that the Head of the Black family is also Head of another family. Miss Chang is verifiable as the eleventh generation magic wielder from her father's side of the family, and a fifteenth generation on her mother's side. She quite clearly meets the requirement, so I spoke with her parents and negotiated our betrothal contract. The wedding will be happening by Christmas at the very latest, so you may wish to choose those quarters for us as allowing four occupants, since my bodyguard, Miss Koenig, will need to be situated in there as well."

"And why would you need her there, Potter?" Snape sneered. "Are two women not enough for you that you must rub in their faces that you need a third?"

"You arse," Harry growled. "How do you actually manage to be a spy for Voldie . . . I mean for Dumbledore?" He let his eyes show that the 'slip' was no slip.

"How dare you speak to me in -"

"I'll use small words for you, Professor -"

"ENOUGH!" yelled Dumbledore. "Harry - enough baiting of Professor Snape."

Harry looked at the Headmaster for a long moment before nodding. "Agreed. Now, if you will see to our quarters? It's likely best to put Cho in there now, and perhaps someone to verify that we are not committing any sort of act that would draw her . . . ah, suitability for a white wedding gown, shall we say, into question? Perhaps a trusted house elf, such as Dobby or Winky could take care of us. I can guarantee that they would also be able to prevent us from doing anything untoward."

"Yes, perhaps that would be best," Dumbledore said, obviously lost in thought. "You know and trust them. Dobby? Winky?"

A moment later, the elves in question appeared. "Headmaster Dumbledore calls Dobby?"

"Yes, I need you two to prepare the quarters in the East Wing that used to house the Founders. We have need of those suites for Mr Potter and these three ladies."

"Dobby and Winky will do!" the excitable elf squeaked, and a moment later, the two were gone.

"While they're gone, sir," Harry said, "we need to talk about a situation that came up when we came into the building. We had several points removed from our houses before even the feast began, and for spurious reasons. We also heard a teacher refer to a student in a derogatory manner, using a particularly ugly epithet. This same professor has, in the hearing of other witnesses, made disparaging comments about the same students appearance. While I know that you will do nothing to stop his flagrant abuses of the student body, I felt that you should at least be made aware of the situation."

"Can you not forgive Professor Snape for the part that he must play?"

"How long has he been forced to play it, sir?" Hermione asked sharply. "Since before Harry and I started here at Hogwarts? I remember the very first day of classes, sir, and the derision that he treated Harry with. I was likely the only non-Slytherin in that room to know what a bezoar was, or that aconite, monkshood, and wolfsbane are the same plant. Let's not talk about his Draught of the Living Death question. I read ahead and barely knew that one."

"Of course, so much of this is unprovable," Harry said, "because Pensieve memories can be faked."

"Idiot boy," Snape replied. "Proof that you speak on matters you know nothing of."

"Then you'll have no problems walking through Diagon Alley with me tomorrow while we talk about the Dark Mark that sits on your arm? It's an equivalent situation to the memory that you used as an excuse for why you were stopping teaching me. Remus walking through Hogwarts, in hearing range of other students, talking about and making jokes about his being a werewolf, when it likely could have gotten him expelled at the very least? Not to mention the fact that you didn't learn that he was a werewolf until Remus's Sixth year, and not the Fifth year memory that you allowed me to see." He paused. "Was there a small Imperius to make me want to watch that memory?"

"Are you going to believe this child, Albus?" Snape asked incredulously. "He flouts the rules constantly and you help him with it. He invaded my privacy, and now lies about what he saw."

"The Headmaster said that oaths are dangerous. Are you willing to swear one under pain of death that you did not create a memory - that the incident happened exactly as I saw it in the Pensieve?"

"I will make no such oath to you Potter. I will be no more beholden to you than I must be."

Harry snorted. "A life debt? You paid that back first year, when you helped keep me from falling from my broom. There is no debt between us, and I prefer it that way. If there are magical debts between us, then I freely release you from any that you feel you owe me."

"This is getting far afield," Dumbledore said. "I seem to have no choice but to permit you your own rooms - but make no mistake that I will be checking with the Ministry to verify the validity of these claims. If they are proven false, then there will be severe penalties."

"I am aware of that, sir," Harry said. Dobby popped in before anything else could be said.

"Rooms for Master Harry and his ladies are ready!" he said. "Their clotheses are already moved there."

"Thank you, Dobby," Hermione said. "We appreciate it."

"Then shall we repair to your rooms?" Dumbledore asked.

"I can't believe that -" Hermione said, but was stopped by Heidi raising a hand. She scanned the room quickly and quickly located several monitoring charms. A few moments later she motioned for Hermione to speak again.

"What was that?"

"Monitoring charms. Einar Hogunson taught me a few Gnomish tricks to keep others from listening in."

"Thank you." Hermione turned back to Harry. "I can't believe that you didn't say anything about so much of this summer. He avoided a few things entirely."

"Oh yes, I know. This isn't for me to have a chance to completely unload on him. If I do, he'd have a chance to design some sort of response. There are things I may never say to him. But I want him off balance. He'll check out the marriage and the guardian thing, spending most of his time on that. If he had someone else in mind for me to marry for the Blacks, then he'll spend time working on that, and trying to invalidate the current contract." He brushed a thumb across Cho's cheek. "Which is why the next few weeks are going to be a delicious hell for me, Cho. You'll be able to parade around here in whatever you want, and to keep you pure for the contract's purposes, I can't touch you the way I want to."

She chuckled deep in her throat, stood, and dropped her robes, displaying a sexy bra and knicker set in her house colours. "You mean like this, Harry?" she asked as she sat on his lap. "I can help you with the problems I cause. We just can't pre-consummate the marriage."

"How do you think I feel, though?" Heidi asked. "I can't even touch him now until Dumbledore has been defanged. I'm going to be relying on you two ladies to help me."

"That's not a problem," Hermione chuckled. "Now, before we make Harry explode before it's a proper time, what else do we need to cover?"

"Other than Cho's magnificent tits?" Harry asked. "I mean, if you want me to think?"

"I'll be crafting a letter to Einar and the Board of Governors tomorrow. I know that you three aren't happy with it, but I'm glad that the very first class that you have is with Snape. I'll wait until after the class to go speak with the Headmaster. As soon as that conversation is over, whether for good or ill, I'll craft the letter to Einar."

"And I'll start thinking about what I need to know to fight, defeat, and win against Riddle. I'm honestly thinking that a nice few ounces of lead might do the trick."

Hermione's eyes went wide. "You'd be shunned forever in wizarding Britain if you used a gun against him!"

"And I care about that why?" he asked in return. "I just want the little bastard dead."

"It could be hard to get the reforms through that you'll need to improve this place," Heidi said.

"Or I could use it as the platform to show how pureblood-heavy the government is, and how everything is weighted in their favour. 'Oh dear! You killed him, but you didn't follow pureblood methods! We'd much rather he be murdered thousands now than ever admit that the Muggles might have good ideas!'" He sneered as he finished. "Has anyone in England ever thought about how insulting the word 'Muggle' really sounds?"

"They think it sounds quaint," Cho replied. "Which is an insult of a different type, if you think about it."

"Even Arthur Weasley falls prey to it," Harry said. "Thinking Muggles quaint, that is."

The next day at breakfast Harry noted that Dumbledore was nowhere to be seen. "I'd imagine that he's gone to the Ministry to see if he can . . . to verify the validity of the paperwork he was given last night."

"What were you going to say?" Seamus asked.

"The same thing, but wordier. Something like '. . . if he can prove that the paperwork we gave him last night was real'. Less clear than what I said."

"But what are we going to do if you start being understandable?" the Irishman asked with a wide grin.

"Love you too, Seamus," Harry answered him with a laugh. Breakfast went well, expect for the small bobble when Ginny arrived. She was still unhappy at Harry's comments to her on the Express, and she was now to the stage of being angry. She said nothing, but her glares at Harry, Hermione, and Cho as well made her opinions quite clear.

"I'd say that I'm done," Harry said. "Meet you in Potions, Hermione?"

"I'm done, to be honest. Let's get there early, to avoid giving him that reason to remove points." Cho joined up with them, and the four - Heidi bringing up the rear - made their way to the Potions classroom.

"I will lay money on your Professor Snape attempting to remove me from the class," Heidi said, "knowing that I am a bodyguard. He will not wish me protecting you, and he will not wish me to be able to gather evidence against him."

"Stand your ground. What he'll end up doing is ejecting me from the class, since your attitude is obviously due to my incredible arrogance, and if you refuse to leave my side, then I will be disrupting the class, and therefore I will be forced out, receiving a zero for the day."

"I wish I could argue with you," Hermione said. "You weren't originally thinking what you told Seamus at breakfast, were you?" she asked, changing the subject.

"No, I was thinking that he was at the Ministry to see if he can weasel his way out from under the paperwork. Apparently Einar used all the French judges that he could on those things that had international standing. Dumbledore has offended them a few times, so they're less likely to reverse their rulings. He can't afford to have me free of his control, I suspect."

"I suspect that you're right," Cho said sadly.

They entered the classroom, the first ones to be there, in fact. "Let's sit where we choose, but Heidi, mark my words - he will walk in and proceed to pair us as he chooses, claiming that he wishes to prevent cheating. He will not mention me by name, but he will be openly glaring at me at the time." Harry and Hermione sat together, with Cho on Harry's other side.

The rest of the class filtered in - a smaller class than Harry was used to, and it contained people from all four houses. As the last of them filtered in, Snape breezed into the classroom with his characteristic sneer, his cape billowing behind him in a manner reminiscent of a psychotic moth. "You are all in N.E.W.T. Potions, although how some of you made it into this class can only be attributed to blatant favouritism." As he expected, Snape's eyes were directly upon Harry as he said this. "Only connections with people in high places could explain the presence of such students." Snickers could be heard from the Slytherin section of the class.

"Be that as it may be," Snape continued, finally taking his eyes from Harry, "I will not permit even less . . . non-Potions related behaviour than I have allowed in your earlier classes. There are potions in this curriculum that will cause explosions if they are not precisely followed. I will also deal harshly with cheating." His eyes once again snapped to Harry. "In fact, to prevent this, I will rearrange the seating. Granger, sit with Malfoy. Potter, sit with Parkinson. Chang, sit with Edgecombe. Patil, sit with . . ."

This continued until the entire layout had been changed. "This seating will remain until such time as I choose otherwise. Miss Koenig - leave."

"I think not, Professor Snape. I am Mr Potter's bodyguard, and I remain with him."

"I am the master of this domain, and I will not have your presence distracting my students. You will leave. I offer you the choice of whether or not it is under your own power."

"Am I to understand that you are stating that you will use physical force to remove me from the room?" she asked, her wand sliding into her hand.

"A bodyguard as stupid as her charge. I would think that had been quite obvious, Miss Koenig. I shall repeat it, using small words so that your imbecilic brain can understand me. You will leave or I will force you out."

Her wand rose. "I will not leave my charge."

His rose and he snapped off a spell in her direction. She slid sideways, causing the spell to miss her and blow a significant portion from the wall. Several students screamed and bolted for the doorway. "Leave now!" she ordered Harry. "This room is not safe!"

Harry gathered Cho and Hermione and left at the highest speed he could manage. A moment later a loud bang happened inside the room, shaking dust free. Snape exited the room with an unconscious, bruised, and bloody Heidi hovering before him. "Some bodyguard, Potter," he sneered.

"Well, she was up against an Inner Circle Death Eater, what can I say?"

Snape's wand spun on Harry, dropping Heidi to the ground unceremoniously. Before Harry could do anything, an ugly purple beam exploded from the end of the wand.

Harry awoke in the hospital wing. "Don't move!" Madam Pomfrey insisted. "The explosion broke several ribs and punctured a lung. You're still healing."

"What explosion?" he coughed. "This was caused by Snape hitting me with a Bludgeoning Curse."

Pomfrey looked startled, and then scowled. "I'd ask if you're sure, but you've always been honest if you didn't know. What was that man thinking?"

"Well, I did publicly accuse him of being an Inner Circle Death Eater, but I think that I would be chewed out if I fired a spell at someone after they merely verbally attacked or insulted me."

"You are correct," she replied. "I can't believe that man would do that." At Harry's look, she corrected herself. "I'm sorry, that was imprecise. I believe you, it's more that it's an unbelievable thing he did. Does that make sense?"

He nodded. "I think so. You're not doing what I predict Dumbledore will do, but rather saying that you don't like it."


"How's my bodyguard? She was bleeding and unconscious the last I saw."

"She's hurt, but she'll recover as well."

"How long for the two of us to recover?"

"You'll be here longer than she will, at least as a patient. That punctured lung was not as easy to deal with as the bones of your ribs were. You ache more because of the muscle strain, but your lung is not as easy to repair. You will likely be here until Wednesday at the earliest."

"Wonderful. Well, at least Hermione will get all my homework for me."

"Have you asked her to?" Pomfrey asked with amusement.

"No, but he knows me so well," Hermione said as she and Cho entered the room with Ron in close pursuit. "How are you?"

"I ache, but she tells me I'll live, no thanks to Snape. How many did he Obliviate?"

"He can't - they've told too many people. The Slytherins in the class are denying the story the way that it's being told, instead saying that Harry pulled his wand on the professor, forcing said professor to defend himself. The reason is your lover, also known as your bodyguard."

"Expect some comments from them when we see them next," Cho said. "Edgecombe has already made a few snide comments in public."

"We know the truth, though, no matter what she says," Hermione said. "We aren't with you because we're settling, we're with you because we love you."

"When we're done dealing with Voldemort, I suspect that it would be best if we just leave. I personally find less and less to admire about the wizarding world. There's a Headmaster trying to manipulate me for his own purposes, and a bunch of people who expect me to deal with a problem of their own devising, and who hate me when I don't do it fast enough, or 'the right way'. I see no reason to stick around to try to fix a problem that they don't want fixed, and that they're just going to vilify me for anyway."

"I want to argue," Cho said, "but you're right. From things you've said, the Headmaster had to recognise that something was odd with Riddle when he was here at school. As soon as it was announced that the school might close, Riddle just happened to find the supposed culprit? It must have thrilled Riddle to have someone else go to prison for one of his first murders."

"Logic has never been a wizarding strong point, Cho," Harry said.

"Harry!" the Headmaster exclaimed as he bustled into the infirmary. "How are you?"

"Surprisingly well, despite your professor's best efforts."

"He tells a somewhat different story, my boy. And he has students to back up that same story that he tells."

"Very well," Harry said. "The four of us will prepare our things and be out of the castle before the week is out. As per your story, I attacked a professor, and that is an expulsion offence."

"No, my boy, you will be remaining right here. I have managed to find out the legal trickery involved with your supposed change of guardians, and it has been returned to the proper individual, who has control over your schooling. Since this guardian did not give you permission to marry Miss Granger, the marriage between you is null and void, as is the contract between yourself and Miss Chang. As for Miss Koenig, she will be leaving the castle as soon as she is healthy enough to do so."

"Congratulations, sir," Harry said through clenched teeth. "You have just managed to enter the British wizarding world into a second war. I, for one, will sit back and watch you attempt to fight it on your own."

"You will someday understand my reasoning, Harry," Dumbledore continued in a grandfatherly voice. "Right now it hurts, but you will someday see that it is all for the best."

"So you say. So, do I start my detentions with Snape tonight, or will you wait until my ribs heal?"

"You will begin detention with Professor Snape on Monday next, and will be in detention with him for at least two months for your infraction."

"Right." He laid his head back and closed his eyes. Tears had begun to leak from the corners.

"You will someday understand, Harry," the Headmaster said, clapping a hand on Harry's shoulder. he then turned and left the room.

Harry sat up immediately, his ribs protesting. "Get Heidi and the three of you get the hell out of here. Immediately. He obviously blackmailed a few people at the Ministry, and I know that he won't want Heidi reporting to Einar. Get her out now. And the both of you go to your homes. Ron, I need you to tell everyone in Gryffindor what happened. He wants a war, he's got one."

"I'll get Miss Koenig ready to go," Madam Pomfrey said. "I want to believe him, but . . . something felt wrong about what he was saying. There was a feeling of gloating in there. He was pleased to be pulling something." She shook her head. "I just wish that you were in a condition to travel with them."

"Oh no, if I leave too, he'll mobilise the Aurors to get me back. If I stay here, he'll simply think that Hermione and Cho left in tears at their humiliation, and not go hunting them."

Heidi came into view. "I overheard the conversation. I was awake when the Headmaster came in. Harry's right. I need to get out of here before he can Obliviate me."

"Dobby?" Harry called, and the elf appeared. "Can you get Muggle clothing for the three ladies and bring them here? Afterwards, we'll need you to move their trunks elsewhere, once we know where they're going to be staying."

"Missuses Potters are leaving Hogwarts?" the green fellow asked in alarm.

"Yes. Something bad has happened, and they need to leave as soon as possible." Dobby popped out and returned with the girls trunks in hand. "Missuses Potters can choose own clothes, and Dobby will return trunks to rooms."

A few minutes later, they had stripped down and changed in front of Harry and Madam Pomfrey, much to the woman's surprise and amusement. "We'll leave our robes on and sneak to one of the tunnels out, and Floo to London immediately," Hermione said as she grabbed her money, an action mirrored by the other two. "We'll get to France and try to meet Einar as soon as possible. We probably won't be able to return before tomorrow, unfortunately."

"Take a different route," Harry said. "Now that you've told me, I expect that Dumbles and Snape will mind rape me to find where you are to stop you. Get to him, but do it in a manner that is anything but the one you just told me."

"You're right," Hermione said. "Add a day or two to our trip, then, because it's going to take longer." She leaned down and kissed him, eyes bright with tears. "Stay as safe as you can, my love."

"And you three," he replied, voice thick.

With that, the three girls sped from the infirmary.

"We shall need to work quickly, Severus," Albus said in his office. "Miss Koenig will not be a patient for much longer, and we cannot permit her to report to her employer. I have forced several things through certain channels that will not hold up under any real scrutiny, but as long as no one actually forces a trial, I can do what needs to be done."

"I shall Obliviate the little bitch with great relish, Albus," Severus Snape responded. "I hope that you've managed to break the little bastard's spirit with this manoeuvre. If not, the detentions with me should do the trick."

"I need him able to fight, Severus. If you break him too much, then Tom wins the day, and life will not be good for any of us, even you."

"I am no child like Potter. I know the limits of what to do. Perhaps I overstepped my bounds by attacking the child before witnesses, but they have never reported things before, and I do not believe that they will this time. I am used to the stories, and those rise and fall with the tides. I shall weather this as I always have."

"Excellent, dear boy. Now, please go to the infirmary and send Poppy to me, at which point you can Obliviate the Koenig girl and send her on her way."

The three ran through the halls until they reached the hump-backed witch statue on the third floor. "Dissendium!" Hermione whispered as she touched it with her wand, and it moved aside, exposing the tunnel to Honeydukes. "Let's go! We can be in London within twenty minutes!" They all sped down the corridor.

Cho asked, "What's our plan?" as they ran.

"Not saying until London," Hermione panted. "He might have ways of picking it up while we're in Hogwarts territory, even if it's something he listens to later." Cho nodded, and they ran in silence.

Minutes later, they burst from the door of Honeydukes, breathing heavily, but they continued to run to the Three Broomsticks. "Emergency, Madam Rosmerta!" Cho gasped. "We need to Floo to the Ministry immediately!" The startled patroness simply pointed at the fireplace.

"Nicely done," Heidi praised as they spun to a stop in the Ministry Floos. They quickly exited the building and headed for King's Cross.

"We take exactly the route we described to Harry," Hermione said as they purchased their rail tickets. "He made certain to tell us that it was unsafe, and I know that Snape will yank that from his mind - that he told us that, I mean - and that makes this actually the safest route, even though they'll know exactly what we're doing."

"Why do you act so smart when you know it makes me horny?" Cho giggled.

Snape billowed into the Hogwarts infirmary carrying a small box. "Poppy? Albus needs to see you in his office for a moment. I shall place these in the usual cabinet."

"Thank you, Severus," she said. "You may wish to watch your temper, however. Whichever version is the truth, both show a sharp temper, and that could cause you problems if some student decides that he wants to tell his family."

"I'm not worried about these dunderheads. They simply do not understand discipline."

She shook her head. "On your head be it. I'm off to speak to Albus." She bustled from the room.

Severus Snape walked over to Potter's bed and sneered down at the boy before walking deeper into the infirmary, checking the beds. Except for Potter's, all of them were empty. A closer examination showed that one of them had been used recently, and Severus found signs that this had been Heidi Koenig's bed. He sat and chose to wait for a few minutes, figuring that the girl had simply stepped to the water closet.

After five minutes had passed, he scowled and stepped to the girls' W.C., finding the door open. He took a momentary look inside and quickly realised that she had not been in this room recently, if ever.

He stalked over to Potter's bed, kicking it hard and making the insufferable child start violently. He smiled softly to himself at the wince of pain the movement caused. "Where is she, Potter?" he growled.


"Koenig - the slut masquerading as your bodyguard. She is no longer in the infirmary."

"I have no idea where she is, sir," the brat said with a smirk.

"We shall just see about that! LEGILIMENS!" he bellowed, and sank into the child's memories.

Harry sat up immediately, his ribs protesting. "Get Heidi and the three of you get the hell out of here. Immediately. He obviously blackmailed a few people at the Ministry, and I know that he won't want Heidi reporting to Einar. Get her out now. And the both of you go to your homes. Ron, I need you to tell everyone in Gryffindor what happened. He wants a war, he's got one."

"I'll get Miss Koenig ready to go," Madam Pomfrey said. "I want to believe him, but . . . something felt wrong about what he was saying. There was a feeling of gloating in there. He was pleased to be pulling something." She shook her head. "I just wish that you were in a condition to travel with them."

"Oh no, if I leave too, he'll mobilise the Aurors to get me back. If I stay here, he'll simply think that Hermione and Cho left in tears at their humiliation, and not go hunting them."

Heidi came into view. "I overheard the conversation. I was awake when the Headmaster came in. Harry's right. I need to get out of here before he can Obliviate me."

He scowled. The little bastard thinks he can play with the big boys, does he? He tore further through the child's skull to find out where they went.

A few minutes later, they had stripped down and changed in front of Harry and Madam Pomfrey, much to the woman's surprise and amusement. "We'll leave our robes on and sneak to one of the tunnels out, and Floo to London immediately," Hermione said as she grabbed her money, an action mirrored by the other two. "We'll get to France and try to meet Einar as soon as possible. We probably won't be able to return before tomorrow, unfortunately."

"Take a different route," Harry said. "Now that you've told me, I expect that Dumbles and Snape will mind rape me to find where you are to stop you. Get to him, but do it in a manner that is anything but the one you just told me."

"You're right," Hermione said. "Add a day or two to our trip, then, because it's going to take longer." She leaned down and kissed him, eyes bright with tears. "Stay as safe as you can, my love."

"And you three," he replied, voice thick.

With that, the three girls sped from the infirmary.

Sickening, he thought. But they are gone. Albus will not like this. He turned and stalked from the hospital wing, leaving behind a thoroughly unconscious Harry Potter.

He stormed through the castle and burst into the headmaster's office, where Pomfrey still sat with Albus. He looked at the man, which told the Headmaster everything he needed to know.

"Where is she?" he asked harshly. "Miss Koenig is gone, apparently, and I need to know where she is. At this moment, she is a danger to everyone in wizarding Britain."

"More likely that she's a danger to your schemes, Albus," Pomfrey barked back. "She's gone, as are Chang and Mrs Potter. Whether or not you dissolved it, they are married, and will be again as soon as legally possible."

"Unlikely," Albus said. "Given the fight he must someday face, I doubt that he will live that long."

"So you need him under your control until he can die, leaving you the hero of the wizard world?" she asked with disgust.

"You simply do not understand," the elderly man said. "There is a far greater good at stake, and a life here or there is worth it if the world is saved in the process."

"As long as it's someone else's life, you mean," she said. "You gladly give up Harry's, and likely mine now that I know too much."

"I would not do such to you. You will be Obliviated of the knowledge, but you will be left alive."

"Small comfort, but at least I know that the students will still have someone to watch over their medical needs."

"Speaking of which," she said, rising to her feet, "I have a patient still in the infirmary that needs looking after, given the damage that your dog here did to him earlier today." She turned and left the office.

"You know what to do, Severus. We cannot trust that a simple Obliviation will be enough." Snape nodded.

"Pity. I rather like Poppy."

"So do I, but we've come too far. too much has happened to allow it to fall apart now, my boy."

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