Chapter Thirty-Five: Drawing the Line
Fawkes' sudden appearance startled Alastor Moody. The retired Auror didn't have time to react before the phoenixís talons caught his cloak and the two disappeared from the attics of the Order Headquarters with a pop.
He drew his wand immediately when he reappeared in a large room with various groupings of furniture and a rather confused man in his thirties. "Who are you and where am I?"
"Tynan Morrigan, and you're at Hogwarts."
Moody snorted. "What did that old fool do this time, bird?"
With an angry squawk and another pop, Fawkes disappeared.
Moody muttered under his breath and went to the hearth. A bag of floo powder was produced from his many-pocketed cloak. He floo'd first Minerva, and as an afterthought Remus, to come find him. The Morrigan lad had helpfully supplied that he was in the Apprentices' common room.
Harry wanted to scream as the group came barging in. How had they even known he was awake?
"Hogwarts said you were up and needed to talk to us, Potter, so what is it?" Draco demanded.
Harry raised an eyebrow.
"The castle told Luna," Blaise explained.
Harry sipped at the water Seamus brought him, though his tortured throat had a difficult time swallowing even that. The image of a general and his advisors was pushed forward in his mind. For a castle, Hogwarts was almost as bloody annoying as Dumbledore at times, but he got the hint. He pointed at Draco and Pansy, who gave a quick recital of what had gone on at the ministry. Harry winced at some of the things Molly Weasley had said.
Blaise's "report" was next. The Wolfsbane had been finished up and Remus had taken his first dose already. Snape still wasn't back from the summons, which had Remus pacing the dungeon half out of his mind with worry, but he was keeping busy enough getting the Potions classroom ready and attempting to reacquaint himself with the curriculum. Blaise added that Remus was muttering about several points on the curriculum; he'd only gotten as far as the second year's, but was on that most of the curriculum had been OWL level when he was in school.
Harry shrugged when he thought about it -- most of what they had needed for the OWLs they had learned by the middle of third year.
Neville chimed in then on the condition of Karkaroff and their confrontation with Dumbledore.
Luna added her two knuts with what she and Hogwarts had been up to, and what Dumbledore had been up to by way of trying to manipulate Hogwarts wards to spy on them. That couldn't be allowed. Karkaroff would be given away, and none of them wanted to deal with that problem on top of everything else. They now had a "tutor" for the two youngest girls during the day, after all, and losing him would cause problems.
The images surged forward in his mind again. Snape. MacNair. Harry clapped his hand over his mouth, then more tumbled out of bed than anything else and stumblingly scrambled to the bathroom.
"Finnegan?" Draco demanded.
"I have no bloody idea," Seamus shrugged.
"Just what is going on around here?"
Tynan Morrigan stayed silent. Moody was shaking his walking stick at him. The man was a horrible sight with that hideous eye that rolled all directions, the scars and chunk of nose missing.
"No," Tynan managed.
"By Merlin, why not?"
"I can only speculate, and my clients wouldn't appreciate it, I'm sure."
"Yer clients?" Moody shook his head.
"Alastor?" Minerva hurried into the common room, a bit breathless.
"Whyn't you just floo in, woman?"
"Because the floos are blocked in this tower. I had to floo into a room down the hall." Minerva glared. Her words, however, were seemingly disproved when Remus stepped through the fire that blazed green in the hearth.
"She says the floos are blocked."
"They are ... mostly," Remus said.
"Harrumph," Moody glared. "Why did that bird come and get me?"
Remus looked at Fawkes with tired resignation. "He pushed them too far, did he?"
Fawkes squawked, irritated.
"I'll go up and talk to them."
"You cannot, the wards ..." Minerva began. Remus ignored her and headed up the stairs. When she tried to follow, she was blocked by an invisible barrier.
Moody glared questioningly at Minerva, who quickly gave what little she knew of the burgeoning power struggle between the Apprentices and Albus.
Moody shook his head. "Old fool wants his cake and eat it, too. Wants the boy to show initiative and when he does ... tries to shove him back into nappies. Just wants to know the boy can, and then won't let him."
"Harry is only sixteen," Minerva said tightly.
Moody snorted wordlessly. That didn't deserve a comment. The boy didn't have the luxury of being 'only sixteen' if he wanted to live.
Tynan raised his eyebrow but held his own opinion quiet. The whole lot of them were only sixteen, which in so many ways was true. The maturity wasn't quite there. Neither was the long-range thinking, but they had enough sense to look for help, even if it was from dubious places like a Death Eater spy and a werewolf. He wasn't even quite sure the kids even liked each other.
Harry stumbled out of the bathroom, horrified, his eyes locked on Luna.
"I didn't do it!" She said to the unspoken question. "Hogwarts had to do it on her own."
"What?" Millie wanted to know. As she wasn't bound to Hogwarts like the others, she hadn't received the image of the Headmaster in the room they had put Karkaroff in before they moved him to their Tower. She didnít see Dumbledoreís confusion quickly being replaced by a viciously calculating look.
Harry could feel Hogwarts' anger. Dumbledore was a threat to her babies. The castle was so insistent on making her case that the images tangled with the visions from his scar, which were still seeping through randomly. Seamus was looking at him with an expression that Harry really didn't want to delve into any more deeply than "worried". The rest were looking at him as if he was going to be able to fix everything. Including fucking Malfoy! He wasn't a hero, he wasn't a savior. He was just a boy who got people killed by being near him. He didn't want this ... any of it.
Albus was thrown to the floor as the whole castle shook with rage. The fury was palpable in the air.
Remus clung to the railing desperately. Merlin, what the hells was going on?
"CALM DOWN BEFORE YOU KILL US ALL, POTTER!" Draco bellowed.
Pansy made a strangled sound when the castle stopped shaking and bolted from the room to check on her sisters.
"Easy, mate," Seamus ordered.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Potter?" Draco glared.
"He's not going to answer, he lost his voice from screaming so much during the visions," Seamus snapped at Draco.
Harry glared at Seamus. Lovely, that would get him more pitying looks and oh, is Harry going to lose his bloody mind and go evil looks, he thought. But Harry didn't notice that; it didn't. At least not from the others in the room. He was as grateful as surprised over that.
"Right, now sit your arse down and we'll sort this out." Seamus steered Harry back toward the bed. "Accio notebook and pen."
Draco stared at the strange things that flew at Seamus. The cheap -- white, no not even white, whitish and so thin it could probably be seen somewhat through when held up to light -- parchment strung together with wire and a strange little blue and white stick.
Harry rolled his eyes at the half-sneering Slytherin. It was just killing Draco not to demand what the notebook and pen were. Wizarding "notebooks" were more leather bound ledgers with heavy parchment. The purebloods could certainly ascertain the function of the muggle notebook and pen easily enough, though Draco especially seemed to have a hard time reconciling that someone would actually use such an ugly thing.
Close your mouth. You'll catch flies. Harry scratched out quickly. Seamus laughingly repeated what Harry had written. He was crowded close next to Harry on the bed, his chin resting on Harry's shoulder, so he could read what Harry wrote easily enough. Neville sat next to Harry on the other side. Blaise sprawled on Seamus' bed. Millie slapped Blaise's shin to make him move his legs and sat down on the side of Seamus' bed. Luna summoned over a desk chair and transfigured it to an overstuffed chair, then curled into it with her knees drawn up to her chin. Draco sat down on Harry's bed facing the three Gryffindors.
Blaise -- brew blood restorative for Karkaroff?
"Easy enough." Blaise nodded.
Calming potion left? Harry wrote with Seamus reading aloud over his shoulder.
"Maybe," Blaise frowned. "Should be a dose or so left of what we had on hand after Karkaroff earlier."
Snape's going to need a dose even if we have to hex him and pour it down him.
"What's that supposed to mean, Potter?" Draco demanded.
Harry merely shook his head.
"Was Snape-- er--" Seamus asked shakily. The others hadn't seen Harry during the worst of the vision.
Harry swallowed and shook his head. Forced to participate, was all he wrote.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Draco repeated.
"Don't ask, Malfoy, I don't want to know myself. It was bad enough Harry screamed til he lost his voice. You really want details?"
Draco seemed to get a little green around the edges at that.
"Is everyone alright in here? What's going on? Fawkes brought Moody to the castle. He's downstairs with Professor McGonagall," Remus said in a rush as he entered the bedroom. He drew up short at the sight of the seemingly relaxed, sprawled-about group. "Harry?" Remus raised an eyebrow at Seamus, cozied up to the smaller boy.
Blaise burst out laughing.
Luna -- Mad Eye, McGonagall Harry scribbled. Seamus relayed the request. Luna began wheedling at Hogwarts to get the castle to comply.
"We need to discuss things with Professor McGonagall and Professor Moody," Neville said aloud. "Cooperate. Harry's in no shape to go down; he can barely sit. You caused this problem, let us fix it."
With a sullen pop a very startled McGonagall, s wary Moody, and a very irritated Fawkes appeared in the room.
"Mister Potter, how on earth did you do this?" Minerva demanded.
"Heir bound to the Castle ring any bells?" Draco sneered.
Remus frowned slightly but stayed quiet. Luna was the one who was managing to communicate with Hogwarts after a fashion, not Harry.
"Mind your tone, Mr. Malfoy," Minerva scowled.
Moody harrumphed. "What the devil did that old fool do and what did you do to him?"
"Where to even begin?" Draco answered snidely.
"Mr. Malfoy--" She began, but stopped when she felt Harry's furious glare.
HE'S RIGHT!!! Harry held up the furiously scrawled words on the tablet page.
"Be that as it may--" Minerva began.
"Letís hear what this lot has to say for themselves first," Moody cut her off.
Alastor Moody left the Apprentice's tower several hours later still chuckling to himself. The lot of them were good. They'd gotten one over on Albus with him being locked up for the night. Moody agreed that the fool like as not deserved it and could very well stew in his own juices for the night. Minerva had wanted the children to apologize and trust her to keep Albus in check; her nose was a bit twisted out of joint when they wouldn't so much as consider it. The kids had the right of it, in his opinion. It needed to be settled now before things went too far, and Albus wasn't going to listen to reason unless it was beaten into that thick skull of his one way or another.
Albus paced the chamber he had been deposited in, trying to sort out what his first move would be when he got out of this room. This couldnít be allowed to continue. Harry was bound to Hogwarts, which gave him all too much power to be allowed to use it whimsically.
Harry was the Heir of Slytherin. That was daunting enough. That had been the final deciding point; he hadn't had time to research. He had to protect Hogwarts and put Harry in the best position to stay where he needed to be.
Especially coming from two such tainted bloodlines as the boy did -- Slytherin and Gentry. It was those very bloodlines that were worrying Albus now.
Albus had known Harlan Gentry; they'd both been apprenticed to Nicholas, after all. Harlan had been a quiet young man. He'd also very openly had little use for Albus. Later, he and Harlan had worked together again stopping Grindelwald. Afterward, Harlan had snarled that Albus was nothing less than a glory hound and a danger to the wizarding world. That ...
Well, best to leave old troubles lie. The current trouble was Harry. Harry absolutely couldn't be allowed to go dark.
Albus turned and faced the door when he heard the doorknob turn.
"Youíve really put yourself in it this time, Albus," his visitor said.
"Alastor, what are you doing here?"
"Your ruddy bird got me last night."
"Did you finally convince them to see reason?" Albus frowned. If it had taken Alastor that long, then it seemed safe to assume that Harry had been well and truly poisoned against him by the others.
Alastor shook his head. "You best watch your step, youíve gone way too far and this lot won't be pushed any farther."
"I want to hear what you have to say for yourself. What possible reason could you have had to put Harry with those Muggles? Knowing that the man killed his own daughter for being a witch? Do you know how many laws you broke? You could be in Azkaban for the rest of your life if that lot cared to put you there. They--"
"Theyíre children. From questionable bloodlines--"
"Bulstrode is not a questionable family."
"Slytherin to a one, that lot."
Alastor shook his head. "You stupid bloody bastard. Youíre making all the same mistakes, aren't you? Bloody damned Gryffindor fool!"
"No, I donít hold with that nonsense, but public opinion is another thing."
"Aye, playing it for what it's worth so no-one is looking at what you are doing, eh Albus? They have proof. They have Lilyís Will. The Will of the Lady of the Isle of Shadows was disregarded willfully by you. Do you know what that could do? Do you know what is within the current Lord's right to demand to be done to you?"
"Harry would never--"
"Don't you count on that," Moody cut him off.
"He needs to be separated from the others. The Morrigan and O'Malley families--"
"Have never liked you. Brandon Morrigan and Eiru OíMalley hate your guts. I'm surprised either of them let the children attend this school with you as headmaster."
"There is no proof--"
"There is. Their solicitor has it safely tucked away. I've seen it and I've half of a mind to haul you before the Wizengamot myself, Albus."
"It was necessary!"
Moody stared in shock. "HOW COULD TURNING OVER A YEAR OLD BABY TO A MURDERER BE REMOTELY NECESSARY?"
"It was necessary! Amelia would have corrupted him with the Lore. There was no other way. No other alternative."
Moody stared. "What utter rot is that?"
"You didnít know Harlan as well as I did, Alastor."
"You bloody fool. C'mon, the boys are a waiting to have a piece of your hide." Moody roughly grabbed Albus by the arm, without fear of reprisal. The castle was still blocking Albus' ability to perform magic within its walls. Moody hid a smirk at the worried look that crossed his old friend's face.
Albus was a fair and just man for the most part, but he was intractable in his blind spots, and one was the Shadow Lords. Utter nonsense. Including the superstitious foolish name of the Shadow Lords. Lot of rot and nonsense.
The Lords of the Isle of Shadows kept to themselves. They rarely, if ever, allowed anyone not of Gentry blood on the aisle, not even spouses if it was unnecessary in recent centuries, since the family had taken up the Gentry name and the isolated hold in Northumberland. Tall tales abounded about the secrets housed there.
The Lords, and the few Ladies that held that title, were for the most part loners. They didnít like people poking about. And that line bred sorcerers with a frightening regularity, at least one in a century. Ignorance, fear, and utter stupidity were the sources of the ancient tales and suspicions about the Keepers of the Isle.
Harlan Gentry had been the most powerful man Alastor Moody had ever met. As a young man, before he'd even started his auror training, Moody had gone to Northumberland and sought out the man. He'd spent two years studying with him. If Harlan Gentry had still been alive when Voldemort made his first bid for power, none of them would be worrying now about his return.
"What, Harlan put you in your place and wouldnít tell you his secrets so you decided he was evil?"
"Donít speak of things you don't know," Albus snapped. "Harlan Gentry aided Grindelwald!"
"That is a lie!"
"He refused to allow any of the ancient artifacts from the Isle of Shadows to be used in the fight against Grindelwald."
"That meant he had sense!" Moody snarled.
"I was there--"
"So was I! I was there as well, you fool! I was there when Harlan first banded the Order of the Phoenix back together to stop Grindelwald!"
"Harry, what is the meaning of your shenanigans?"
"Sit down and be quiet," Harry glared. "NOW!"
"Harry--" Dumbledore glared.
"Donít you dare try Legilimency on me again."
"What!" Moody gasped.
"You will sit down and listen. There is enough evidence at the ministry that we only have to say the word and you will be in Azkaban for life, if not outright executed. After all, Fudge is still the Minister of Magic and he'd be happy to have someone's head on a pike to say he had the reason that Voldemort was back." Harry glared. He kept his face schooled carefully blank. He was going to need another dose of the potion that Blaise had managed earlier that morning for his throat; each word was excruciating, but delaying this would not be to their advantage.
"I donít know what lies--" Albus began.
"A Veritas Crystal my mother recorded her will in, for starters," Harry snapped. The crystal was spelled to hold a holographic projection, recording an event. The spells were similar to the spells on the fluid in a pensieve, though Veritas Crystals were rarer and a good deal more expensive, as well as considered to be completely tamperproof. "And that is the least of it."
"How about a Veritas Crystal made by my aunt, Longbottom's mother, Potter's mother and Malfoy's mother about your misbehavior and treatment of students while they were in school here? The list of crimes includes failure to report rapes and beatings," Blaise asked icily.
"Stay out of this, Moody," Draco said coldly.
"You think putting you in time out for a night is all we can do?" Harry glared. "You bound us to this castle. You have no clue. Hogwarts is no longer yours to manipulate. You are not even going to be able to call upon the castle to do your job as Headmaster."
"Harry, I must--"
"Too bad. Find another way to monitor the goings on of the school. You are no longer allowed to touch any part of Hogwarts' magic. You won't even be able to change your password without our express approval and one of us changing it for you."
"Withholding proof of the activities of a Death Eater -- Petrus Parkinson," Neville said with only the slightest waver in his voice. "Turning the wards of Hogwarts over to a sixteen year old. Forcing seven underage students to be tied to the castle. Willfully disregarding the life of Pansy Parkinson. You've nearly killed her twice now. It would have been fatal for her if the marriage between her and Malfoy had been annulled. You witnessed a copy of the marriage contract, yet still falsely filed an annulment petition on her behalf."
"Covering up the death of a six month old ... Rose Dursley. Protecting Rose Dursley's murderer for nineteen years. Child endangerment. The list of falsifying documents, destroying documents, and withholding information is endless. Be glad we let you live. You can do what magic youíre capable of on your own. You are nominally headmaster of Hogwarts but the ability to manipulate the magics of Hogwarts, the wards, or drawing on the castle itself to protect it from siege are gone. If official school business requires your presence at the ministry, you may leave, but that's it. Mr. Moody can be your liaison to the old crowd. Consider yourself confined to quarters until further notice. And WAKE UP ALL OF YOU!" Harry bellowed.
"Any portrait that passes information to Dumbledore will be found out and burnt," Neville spoke up, worried that Harry had injured his throat again.
Draco visibly stiffened, distracted, as the image of Severus at the apparition point in the forest was pressed to the front of his mind.
Harry stalked from the room. Snape needed their help more and he didnít think his voice was going to hold out for a further confrontation with Dumbledore. The man wasnít going to give up his position that he was right, and Harry could no longer even remotely believe everything would be all for the best.
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