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Going Out With a Different Type of Bang
Shortly after the meeting with Percy, an owl arrived, confirming that the meeting had been set up and was to be held in Nice. So far, Harry’s predictions were bang on the nose.
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Harry entered the boardroom in Nice flanked on both sides by a number of people, all but two of them female. The group formed a ‘V’ with Harry at point. To his left were Hermione, Heidi, Ron, Luna, and Neville. To his right were Cho, Katje, Parvati, Padma, and Lavender.
At the table already were Albus Dumbledore, Remus Lupin, Percy Weasley, Arthur Weasley, and someone nameless, faceless bureaucrat that Harry did not know. Dumbledore looked less than happy, because it was a three sided table, and the third side was being used by Einar Hogunson and his people.
“Is this truly necessary, Harry?” Dumbledore asked before he could even get seated.
“‘Mr. Potter’, if you please.” Harry said simply. “Only my close friends and relations are permitted to refer to me as ‘Harry’. You are neither, Mr. Dumbledore.”
“Show some respect!” Percy complained in his usual uptight manner. “You’re speaking to the Minister of Magic!”
“I stand corrected; thank you, Mr. Weasley. I should not allow personal feelings to colour my interactions with your side. Minister Dumbledore, my apologies for not using your title. I would request, however, that you not use my first name, as that implies a level of friendliness that does not, at this time, exist between us.”
“I understand, Mr. Potter, and apologise for my own opening familiarity.”
“Now that we have the niceties out of the way,” Harry said, “I suppose we can get this meeting started. We’ve a lot to cover.”
“Yes,” the unknown man said. “Not the least of which is when you’ll pay for murdering my Aurors!”
“And you are?” Harry asked.
“Random Folgai, Director of Magical Law Enforcement.”
“Well, Mr. Folgai, I assume that you have proof of these alleged ‘murders’? As in, you have proof that their deaths were caused by me, with no fault on their part? There was a point when my wives, my guests and I were attacked by people who turned out to be wearing Auror robes and badges, but for all I know, those people were Death Eaters that survived and wished to have me at war with the British Ministry.”
“Those were the Aurors I’m talking about, Potter! I-”
“Director Folgai, please.” Dumbledore interrupted.
“From our point of view,” Harry continued, “we were simply out on the patio of the place when we came under spell fire. Since the assailants didn’t identify themselves by using the standard ‘We are British Aurors, come out with your wands in plain sight’, we had no choice but to assume that we were under attack and offer resistance. And now you tell me that the British Aurors actually invaded another country for some unknown purpose?”
“We were-” Folgai started to say.
“Enough!” Dumbledore bellowed. “Mr. Potter, I would appreciate you not baiting my Chief Auror.”
Harry managed to stop his eyes from rolling... although it was a very close thing. “That tone used to work with me back when I was your student, Minister, but I do not accept receipt of your guilt trips anymore. I do not see how stating a basic fact is baiting someone who should be adult enough to know better. The question stands; did Aurors, in fact, enter France on a mission?”
“It isn’t as simple as that, Mr. Potter.” Dumbledore replied with a chiding tone.
“Actually, the question is a simple one.” Einar interjected. “As asked, the question merely asks whether or not the Aurors were in France because of Britain, or on their own time. Will you answer that question?”
Dumbledore scowled. “By the definition you seem to be searching for, it could be said that the Aurors invaded France. They were in France under the direction of the British Ministry of Magic.” he finally said.
“Was there any indication given to anyone in France as to their mission?” Einar asked.
“No.” Folgai grumbled.
“So, since no effort was made to contact either myself or anyone in a position of French authority, I can only assume, based on the attack upon myself and my family and friends, that the purpose was at best a kidnapping, and at worst, an assassination,” Harry said.
“We merely wished to speak with you in regard to several issues, such as the fact that you don’t have long before you need to marry for the Black family fortune.” Dumbledore said.
“Ah, yes.” Harry said, reclining slightly in his chair. “Let’s talk about that. We have two betrothal contracts that were properly written, witnessed and enacted. These perfectly valid contracts were illegally negated by the British government, at your bequest, Minister Dumbledore, when it was discovered that I had decided to choose differently than your wishes.” He met Dumbledore’s eyes. “Let us not forget that I can swear under oath, at the cost of my magic or life, about some of the interesting things that you said to me while you held me captive several months ago. Let us simply say that I do not trust your ‘clarity of vision’.”
“You truly do not understand, Harry.” was the reply, once again in that friendly ‘grandfather’ tone that the man used so well.
“Again, I am ‘Mr. Potter’. You do not have the right to refer to me as ‘Harry’. If I ‘truly do not understand’, explain it to me. Explain to me why your vision meant that I needed to live with relatives who hated me. Explain to me why I was forbidden from visiting Gringotts bank to discuss my account. Why was it so bad that I chose my own matches to marry? What possible reason could you have for letting me know that you controlled my life and that you intended me to die when I fought Voldemort? Why was it necessary to give me a false prophecy?”
“Did you not hear the prophecy? The real one? It states that you are destined to rise as a Dark Lord! I needed to ensure that you could not do that. You just rid us of one... I refuse to allow you to rise in his place!”
Harry nodded thoughtfully. “Curious... especially since the prophecy does not state that I will rise in his place, it stated that a Dark Lord would rise in his place. From the point of view of an outsider, a point of view I now gleefully hold, it seems like you’ve failed in that self-appointed mission, Minister. There is a Dark Lord in control of Great Britain. You. You control lives, you send people to kidnap and possibly murder those who would ruin your image of Wizarding Britain, and you eradicate laws that you find inconvenient.”
“You dare call such a respected man a Dark Lord?” Remus exploded. “After all he’s done for the Wizarding world?”
Harry’s arched eyebrow was the only response. “Someday, Remus Lupin, you will meet my parents again. I hope that they record for me the blistering they give you.”
Remus’ eyes shot to Dumbledore, who seemed to give the tiniest nod of assent. This moment of non-verbal conversation gave Harry more than enough time to prepare. Remus’ wand came up in a fast, fluid motion, but was cleft in twain by a gnomish axe. The backlash from Remus’ spell being disrupted blew the man back against the wall, quite obviously unconscious.
At this moment, wands and weapons appeared in everyone’s hands, bar Dumbledore. The old man sat in his chair, eyes twinkling as he saw everyone aim at him. He wasn’t concerned. He had no need to be concerned. He was Albus Dumbledore!
“You’ve picked a truly fascinating group of people as your delegation, Minister.” Einar said hotly. “A head Auror who breaks international treaties because someone else asks him to and a member who attempts to attack the very person we are here to speak to. We also have two members of a family who some evidence points at being aware of some of the legal chicanery that has been performed in my foster son’s name.”
“Excuse me?” Arthur asked, sounding confused.
Hogunson turned to Arthur, steepling his fingers together. “You, sir, were one of the parties directly responsible for the marriage contract concerning Mr. Potter and your daughter. This means that you wish said contract to be enforced. I find it curious that when Minister Dumbledore stated that Mr. Potter was leaning towards the Darkness, you have not attempted to cancel the marriage contract. Logic suggests that there is more to your desire for the contract to be enforced than merely the love of your daughter.”
Arthur leaned forward slightly. “I trust Albus Dumbledore in all things. He’s stated that a marriage between the Dark … Harry Potter and Ginevra, a member of an old Light lineage, would bring Harry back from the Darkness to the Light.” He saw Harry scowl. “My apologies... The marriage would bring Mr. Potter back.”
Hogunson blinked in shock. “Tell me, Mr. Weasley... when Dumbledore stated that only the love of your daughter is capable of performing this miracle... you believed him?” Einar asked, his voice making his disdain and disbelief more than evident. “Mr. Potter already has the love of several powerful, not to mention ethically outstanding, young woman. Do you believe that each of them in incapable of keeping him from ‘the Darkness’?”
“Hermione wasn’t raised in the Wizarding world.” Arthur said. “There are things she has already done to this point that, while they might be commendable, show an amazing lack of foresight or study. Her attempts to free the house elves is an example of this. Minister Dumbledore believes, and I agree with this assessment, that she could accidentally lead him down a path of eventual darkness without ever realising that she was doing so until far too late.”
“Enough!” Dumbledore barked, his aura becoming evident. “I tire of these trivialities. There is a prophecy and I intend to ensure that the second half of it does not come to pass. Dithering about meaningless issues while Harry builds a power base from which to start a dark reign is not going to be allowed.”
Hermione was the first to notice that the twinkle in Dumbledore’s eyes was just a tiny bit...wrong.
“What is this prophecy that you speak of?” Einar demanded. “You speak as if the first part of it has been fulfilled.”
“It has.” Harry said. “It was simple; it prophesied that the Dark Lord would fall to the Marked One, but that the people had to be careful to avoid letting another Dark Lord rise in the old one’s place.”
Einar nodded slowly. “An understandable situation, and I admire your forethought. There’s always a vacuum in these sorts of situations. It’s possible that one of his lieutenants could rise, or one of the heroes of the light could be turned.”
Harry inclined his head at Einar. “Dumbledore is certain that the ‘Rising Dark Lord’ means me.”
“Oh?” Einar asked. “Why so?”
Harry couldn’t stop the smirk from claiming his mouth. “Because Albus Dumbledore is utterly incorruptible, and has a vision of how the universe should run. He told me so himself the time he locked me in the room off his office. He was very sorry that I had to die for the cause, but it was necessary to prevent a new Dark Lord from rising.”
“Now, Harry, why must you lie?” Dumbledore asked, one of his hands slipping under the table.
“Now, Albus, why must you use my first name without permission?” Harry shot back. “Would you like me to make a magical oath? I’m willing to stake my life on what I just said. Are you willing to stake your life that I’m lying?”
“I would be interested in that answer, as will everyone else listening in on this, Minister Dumbledore.” Einar said into the room. “There are many people I am aware of who are willing to testify to things that they have witnessed. Amelia Bones is one, who reports finding Harry Potter’s wand in your possession after Mr. Potter disappeared. This was around the same time that Cho Chang-Potter, Hermione Granger-Potter and Heidi Koenig-Potter made an extremely rapid exit from the school premises, followed within the hour by Healer Poppy Pomfrey, in fear for her life. She can personally testify to you firing spells at her to prevent her from leaving Hogwarts.”
Dumbledore shook his head, as though in shock at Hogunson’s gullibility. “You see? Already, Harry is turning people from the Light to the Darkness.”
“Where’s your evidence, Dumbledore?” Einar demanded. “Show me the smallest shred of proof... if you can.”
“I have no need.” Dumbledore said airily, pulling his hand up, revealing his wand. “I have been alive for a long time, and I have seen three Dark Lords rising... four, if we include Mr. Potter. My experience shows me these things. If I say that Harry’s a rising Dark Lord, then that is the truth.”
He flourished his wand. “I have already consulted with several experts on what must be done to stop Harry’s descent.”
“Would all these experts be called ‘Albus Dumbledore’?” Harry asked, not bothering to look concerned at the wand in Dumbledore’s hand. “Let me see if I can guess... each of your experts, whoever you may be, advised that only the ‘love’ of Ginny Weasley, a rabid stalker/fan-girl who spent most of the time at Hogwarts staring at me or squeaking, would be able to slow my descent into the ‘darkness’. This, coupled with the power of Nymphadora Tonks’ love would be able to stop me from sliding down that dark path. Of course, the two of them would have to take over the running of my family finances, since such an evil creature as myself would only use that money to foment rebellion against your ‘benevolent’ rule. This money would no doubt be distributed to several ‘worthy’ causes, notably the Weasley family and you, old man.
“Naturally, it’ll be necessary to completely bind my magic, making sure I’m not a threat to your ‘grand vision’. It’ll be for my own good, of course. Can’t have me running around making a mess of things, can you? Stage three, after stealing my money and binding my magic will be getting your pet Death Eater to mind-rape me into oblivion, conveniently dying... all in the name of the ‘Greater Good’, of course.”
Dumbledore nodded. “I can see that you understand the necessity of my plans, Harry. Proof that there may still be time for you. I do not believe that your descent can be stopped entirely. Miss Weasley and Miss Tonks will be able to slow the descent, but it is inevitable that you will become Dark... termination is the best thing.”
Hermione cleared her throat daintily. “Dumbledore... Harry was being sarcastic. Instead, you’ve just confirmed what he said; he’s not a threat to the world. He’s a threat to you... and he must die for that. He managed to save the entire magical brethren from the threat of Voldemort... and allowed an even greater monster to rise in his place.”
“That’s what I’m trying to prevent!” Dumbledore snapped angrily, glaring at Hermione. “You are just a foolish child. I am Albus Dumbledore!”
“You’ve lost the plot, old man.” Harry said. “We asked you earlier for proof... and instead, you provide us with even more proof of our own. Proof of your ignorance. Your arrogance. You’ve drawn your wand on foreign nationals while on foreign soil. We could have you arrested for misuse of your authority.”
“There are none who’d be foolish enough to try!” Dumbledore snapped. “Random, Arthur, confiscate their wands.” He smiled smugly. “Allow me to tell you what will happen now; Miss Granger, Miss Chang and Miss Keonig, I’m going to have you escorted to a holding facility until we can undone whatever damage Mr. Potter has done to you. I believe that you must be under the Imperius curse. As such, I will cancel these silly notions of marriage that you believe you have, and bind Mr. Potter to good, light witches, for the good of everyone. Your individual fortunes will be confiscated in fines for your brutal murder of the Aurors. Mr. Hogunson, you will also be arrested for your links to subversive groups.”
Arthur started to move forward, only to find a gnomish spear pointed at him, the tip glowing. Random Folgai was a little dumber, and found himself unconscious as a beam of red shot from another three spears.
“Percival! Assistance!” Albus Dumbledore yelled, glaring hatefully at the gnomes.
“Yes, sir!” he replied, and shot Minister Dumbledore in the back with a Stunner. By the time that Dumbledore was able to shake off the effects, he was in custody of the gnomes, in suppression manacles.
“Your career with the Ministry is over, Mr Weasley!” Dumbledore bellowed.
“You are correct, sir. While I aided in the capture of an ascendant Dark Lord, I have also committed a crime by firing upon an elected official, and when things have settled, I shall place myself under the control of the Aurors. My trial will effectively destroy any chances at further advancement in the Ministry.”
“The Ministry was your life, Percy!” Arthur cried out, his own hands clapped in manacles.
Percy managed a weak sneer. “Perhaps... but first and foremost, I am a man of honour, from a family that was traditionally Light. I was naïve before, and ostracised my family, thinking that following Mr Potter was a bad thing. I see now that the truly bad thing was being born to parents who had no scruples. I find myself wondering how Ronald and the twins ever developed the strength of character that they have shown. William and Charles as well.”
“You’ll never get away with this!” Dumbledore growled. “I can spin the press any way that I need it.”
“Oh dear.” Cho Chang-Potter said. “Did we forget to mention that?”
“It seems so.” Harry said, not bothering to hide his evil grin. “Would you care to share, my love?”
Cho nodded, her smile rising. “It seems to me... that someone... forgot to tell the British Minister that this conversation has been going out live across the Wizarding Wireless, and in areas of the world other than Britain, there have even been visuals to go along with it, since other nations have decided not to stagnate, and have the Wizarding equivalent of television in their homes. I suspect thousands of witches and wizards are commenting now on what they have seen and heard the British Minister do.”
“I suspect that Magical Britain will need to choose a Minister who’s willing to work with other nations.” Hermione said. “The one currently in custody will be facing gnomish and French justice.”
Harry stepped forward, clearing his throat. “Although we’ve been at loggerheads recently, I think I’d trust someone like Amelia Bones. Listen to her when it comes to choosing a Minister. If she suggests someone, I’d think long and hard about them. She wants what’s best for Britain.”
Einar chuckled. “You’re aware that you just gave a speech that suggests that she’d make an excellent Minister?”
He slapped his forehead with his palm. “I hope they’re still broadcasting. Sorry about that, Madam Bones.”
As expected, Albus Dumbledore went down hard in the world courts. It was realised that he was insane, but he also still understood the difference between right and wrong, so he was declared sane enough to stand trial. He continued his attempts to use his powerful past and historical Light siding to prove that he knew what he was doing when he controlled Harry’s life. That proof didn’t serve him in good stead.
Both Dumbledore and Snape went on trial, and Snape proved once again that he knew how to protect the most important person in his life, because he detailed every single meeting and conversation that he and Dumbledore had ever had. In the long run, for his help he was sentenced to Azkaban for fifty years, rather than the Dementor’s Kiss that Albus Dumbledore received.
Five years under the tender mercies of Azkaban’s guards had him wishing he’d shared Albus’ fate.
Minerva McGonagall was so horrified at what she had done in Albus’ name, thinking that he had the right of things, that she quit teaching at Hogwarts and largely became a hermit. After a long time, Harry forgave her, but only after she admitted that she, like so many others, had fallen prey to the mythos of Albus Dumbledore. She never again taught a student, however.
The international incident that destroyed Dumbledore’s mythos also destroyed the traditional line between Dark and Light. Such a historically Light wizard turning so Dark made many wonder why the line existed in the first place. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry rapidly became a much friendlier place, with several of the older professors retiring in shame, or making powerful magical vows to change.
The heaviest price paid, however, was for the goblins of Gringotts. They had chosen their side in the Wizarding conflict... and had chosen badly. Dumbledore’s trial smoothly led to the truth of their involvement, causing them to close their doors. Unfortunately, this resulted in the destruction of Gringotts, as the witches and wizards of Britain literally pulled down the building. British goblins were driven so far underground that it was unlikely that they would be seen again before another thousand years had passed. They had gold and gems and jewellery, but they were worthless to them now, since goblins would most likely be killed on sight.
Madam Pomfrey retired from Hogwarts after Harry and the others had finished school. She had simply had enough. The combined Potter-Black families snapped her up quickly as their personal Healer, since they trusted no-one else in the beginning. Having no living relations other than her sister, she was 'adopted' into the family of her choice, choosing Black, as a further way to help lighten the image of the traditionally Dark family. Her sister followed suit, and Aunts Poppy and Maggie were favourites amongst all the children born to Harry’s extended family.
Neville and Katje married on his twentieth birthday, and proceeded to increase the Longbottom family size in a rather Weasley manner. Interestingly, this seemed to be the impetus for the healing that Frank and Alice Longbottom finally underwent. Neville and Katje visited quite often, and when her belly began to swell for the first time, it was noted that Frank and Alice seemed to connect more with the world. By the time that she entered St. Mungo’s to give birth, Alice had been allowed to explore the hospital somewhat, albeit with an escort. As Neville walked to meet her carrying their son, Franklin Harry Longbottom, she focused completely and smiled, taking young Franklin from her son. “My grandson...” she had cooed to everyone’s surprise, since she had not spoken sanely in years. Even during her walks, she had merely hummed. Frank’s recovery followed soon after. The prospect of new happy memories had managed to percolate through the pain-filled fog and healed them.
Remus was eventually able to repair a small amount of the relationship with Harry, but they would never be close in Harry’s lifetime, given his open betrayal. He had attempted suicide, but Harry had prevented it and soundly berated him. Not a single physical blow was struck, because the verbal blows were far more effective. He was called a coward and liar, and told that escaping his punishment was what people expected. What truly struck him was the comment that upon his death, he’d meet James, Lily, and Sirius once more. He lived another thirty years, but when death came to him, he was begging for more time. The shame of what he’d done was overwhelming, leaving him as a man too afraid to live but too scared to die. On that day, Harry was there, shaking his head in sorrow at what might have been.
Tonks disappeared from his life. She had been an avid supporter of Dumbledore, and this had destroyed any chances she had at the Ministry once Amelia Bones took office. No trace of her was ever found again. It was believed that she ran to the United States to start a new life. There were hints that her disappearance may have been more sinister, however. None of the hints were ever proven to be more than simply hints.
Harry’s wives topped out at three, since Luna insisted on being ‘the other woman’. The fact that she was ‘the other woman’ for Harry and his wives was unimportant; she felt that it added spice to their lives. Privately, she admitted that given the way she was raised, being married would have lessened her enjoyment of her family, while ‘being naughty’ and committing technical adultery with the four of them somehow gave her rather explosive orgasms. It was an open secret that she was also sleeping with Ron, Parvati, and Lavender. Harry pretended to look the other way, but the recordings that ‘somehow’ showed up occasionally made them all quite aware of the relationship. Her relationship with Neville was oddly strengthened by this as well.
Cho, of all people, startled the group by being something of an exhibitionist. Once she was secure in the fact that she was truly loved, her real personality came out, leading to some very interesting situations. The Aurors developed a tendency to ‘not notice’ Harry and his wives any longer, since they had long ago been embarrassed by trying to arrest Cho for some of her more interesting attempts at getting pregnant. By interesting, the average wizard and witch came to understand the word ‘interesting’ to mean ‘entertainingly public’. Obfuscation charms were Harry’s friend in regard to keep his own specific measurements private, but Cho had no such cares.
Her public escapades dropped sharply on the day that her parents called Harry and requested a meeting, where they apologised profusely for their actions, admitting that they had trusted Albus Dumbledore too much. It took a lot of time and discussion, notably between Cho’s father and Harry. The stigma of paying back the betrayer’s price would not leave their family line for the next ten generations. Since the normal resolution of this would be for Harry to kill the patriarch and claim the rest of the family as spoils, Harry considered it remarkable generosity on his part when he punched Cho’s father and told him to get out. The relationship between daughter and parents only healed when they made it clear that they considered all Harry’s children their grandchildren, and asked Cho if she would consent to becoming a member of the family once more.
The public escapades did not end, however – they merely lessened. She had discovered that the fear of being caught gave her powerful orgasms, as did being watched during lovemaking. In that regard, Luna turned into her most enthusiastic lover.
Heidi, already an astute manager of money, was taken under the wing of Einar, turning her into an economic powerhouse on her own. She managed to turn Harry’s impressive holdings into one of the greatest fortunes on the planet, although only those who had a true understanding of where the money went ever figured that out.
Hermione became a spell researcher after finally finishing Hogwarts. The problems with Dumbledore’s interference led to Harry, Cho, and herself all being forced to finish their schooling a year behind when they would have, and Hermione took full advantage of this. The group of them could be found in the library at most hours, and it was only Madam Pince who kept Hermione from moving in. Her and Harry’s tendency to get her slightly aroused and then leave, promising the rest if she came back to their quarters. She helped Harry fulfil Cho’s fantasy about the Quidditch showers as well in February of that year, and they all treated that as the conception date of Harry’s first child with Cho. Hermione’s first child was conceived in the library, during the week of their NEWTs, when the library was full of students. It was in full view of the students, but Harry’s spell work was impeccable by this point, and none ever noticed. Hermione, however, kept that memory in reserve, in case she was ever called upon to fight the Dementors again. It was the most powerful positive memory she possessed.
The Weasleys were roundly humiliated in the press for their part in Harry’s life, and Harry was forced to step forward in order to point out that Ron and the twins had been behind him all the time, and that Charlie and Bill had never made a move against him. He supported Percy as well. “Largely, if you’ll note, it’s the parents and the youngest child. All the rest seem to have turned into worthwhile adults. I know I trust Ron at my back. I trust the twins back there, but I’ll be checking for a ‘Kick Me’ sign too.”
Magical Britain, thanks to their sheep-style nature, received international censure from the rest of the world. It became more and more apparent to them as time went on that, although they were British and ‘British was best’, the rest of the world was rather important too. With Amelia Bones steering the ship of state, they found themselves being dragged out of the Victorian Era and hurtling towards the twentieth century. It would take time, but they were finally learning.
Harry lay on his back on the beach, watching his children laugh, splash and shout at each other. Hermione leaned on his left, while Cho was on his right, Heidi gently smoothing his brow. Luna was happily hiding under a blanket, using her mouth as only she could. The fact that all four were utterly without clothing was icing on the cake for Harry, since all four had kept their figures through multiple children.
“What are you thinking, Harry?” Hermione asked, noting the slightly absent look on his face. "Assuming you can think, that is," she said dreamily, having experienced Luna's talents more than once.
“I was just thinking about how this... all of this started out because of Betrayal. It Started One Summer, and now I have a huge, beautiful family. It just reminds me of something I read in a book once.”
“Yeah... ‘All was well’.”