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Chapter Nineteen: Ministry Mandates

The Howler from Seamus' mum was only the first of a string of many that day. Luna cheerfully informed them that it was Howler number 231 of the day that had the stink bomb attached to it and ruined lunch. The packages weren't much better. A few were destroyed unopened because the first charms performed on them showed them to be dangerous.

There were all sorts of ridiculous requests for interviews. Merlin! One gossip rag Harry had never heard of wanted an interview with "The Malfoys"--which technically Draco and Pansy were--and "the Potters", meaning Harry and Seamus. Pansy's description of the weekly paper made it sound like the really trashy absurd rags in the grocery checkout line that proclaimed things like dead actresses and their half-yeti child living with aliens on the moon. Flowers, candies, and gift certificates to shops Harry had never heard of were included with the interview requests as enticements, along with absolutely absurd payment offers for the interviews.

The absurd streams of wedding gifts kept coming, and Harry finally managed to get the gifts redirected to the Apprentice's Common room if the wards could pick up that the wedding gift wasn't a) living--someone actually boxed up a young house elf and sent it--b) perishable food or c) dangerous. He had had a miserable time getting that managed.

It might have been easier if he'd had some idea of what the devil he was doing. Hogwarts wasn't cooperating either; the castle seemed delighted he was trying to "communicate" and kept trying to push images into his head in such a rapid blur none of them were distinguishable at all. He did get the impression Hogwarts liked him. It seemed to feel he was one of "her" babies, as were all Founders' descendants. Hogwarts wanted to "visit" with her baby. Harry just wanted the unending stream of owls at least redirected partially. It got done, but Harry needed a double dose of headache potion by the time it was, and the buzz of the wards had a very sulking and exasperated tone to it the rest of the day.

Harry had quietly offered to order books when it became obvious they all had numerous books they'd have to buy since the school's library didn't have a quarter of the books on their lists. They'd be his because he'd like as not need them later on, but Seamus and Neville could both use them--and any of his other books, which was a relief to both boys, as neither really wanted to write home for money already. It was not too much for their pride to accept, as Harry did have a point that he would likely need the books himself. It was easier to make a massive order now rather than scrabbling to owl off orders every other week and hoping the book arrived in time for the assignment. When he caught Luna chewing her lip and obviously eavesdropping on the conversation he made the same offer to her; if she had books that were going over her monthly allowance, he would purchase and allow her to borrow them.

The promised owl from Mrs. Finnegan found the group of Apprentices in the library trying to sort out where to even begin on their assignment lists from Dumbledore.

Seamus reluctantly opened the package, on the off chance it was some of the back-ordered books or some of the books his mum was going to try to get from her Gran for him to use. It wasn't likely, however, as his mother had addressed the package to him and Harry.

"Oh Merlin, why, Mum?" Seamus muttered.

Harry looked over and blushed just as red at the glaring title of The Joy of Gay Sex on the top of the stack of whatever was all in the parcel.

"Well, at--at least she's supportive," Millie sniggered.

Seamus snorted. "Love her, but bloody hell, there's such a thing as too supportive! She's driving me nuts. She freaked for about five minutes. Literally, for five minutes she just stood there gaping and going 'huh? Wha--ye said what?' She was shocked a bit and has felt guilty since, so she's been going overboard and supporting me into dying of humiliation. The last thing I want my mum actively interested in is my love life!"

The other Apprentices laughed sympathetically, and they went back to their work.

Harry nearly groaned as Fawkes swooped in at breakfast in the staff room the next morning.

"That's Dumbledore's bird, isn't it?" Neville sighed.

Harry nodded.


Professor Sprout's trial is taking a bit longer than expected. Minister Fudge is trying to delay the trial on the docket.

There are whispers of several new Ministry Education Mandates. I've yet to have any confirmation of them. I have, however, firm news of a Special Edition of the Prophet this afternoon.

Harry rolled his eyes in disgust and handed the letter to Seamus, who read it aloud. It was more of the same, really. Get as much of their assignments done as they could; mind Tonks and her parents, plus several inanities that made no sense, including that he'd found a Muggle kaleidoscope and found it absolutely fascinating.

"That senile old fool--" Draco began, too incredulous to manage to finish the insult.

"Why is he writing me? Tonks, you're the professor! You're supposed to be in charge."

Tonks shrugged. "Yeah, but you're the one he's grooming to take his place. And, besides. Me? In charge?"

"You're at least supposedly an adult," Harry complained. "You've completed Auror training and you are the professor."

A flock of rather official looking matching owls swooped into the room only moments later, dropping a scroll in front of each of the Apprentices.

By Order of the Ministry of Magic,

Cornelius Fudge, Minister

Percival R. Weasley, Secretary of Education

"PERCY!!" Seamus yelped. Granted, Percy had been a seventh year their third year, far enough ahead of them that normally they wouldn't have had much to do with him at all. Percy, however, was an officious busybody, who had been a prefect their first and second years and Head boy their third year. He'd been an unbearable prat at every opportunity and didn't seem to have improved any since leaving school.

Harry stared at the rambling officious parchment. Wherefores, whences, in accordances and a lot of pomp and circumstance, tradition this and that. He was bleary eyed, having been up most the night with Snape, who had had a fever and a bit of infection that was sending his weakened body into a tailspin. He'd only come up to breakfast because Remus was doing so well, at least back to about 75-80% of normal and he wanted out of there long enough to shower and eat and get a new stack of books to work on. He was just too tired to try to sort out the vagaries and political double talk wrapped up in archaic terminology.

"Zabini?" he asked, hoping for a translation.

"Basically, if our families are bound to the Old Laws we must complete the Lineage Potion and a Lineage book, a copy of which must be submitted to the Ministry along with Heir-Designate if from a family bound to the Old Laws." Blaise answered, studying his parchment intently. "Well, it's directed at 'Mastery Apprentices in Britain'. Us. Any current Mastery Apprentices have 48 hours to complete the potion and submit a copy of their Lineage Book to the Ministry. All future Apprentices must do the same within 72 hours of commencing their Apprenticeship studies."


"Slytherin and Gentry are bound to the Old Laws, though I'm fairly certain the Potters aren't. Most of the families that are majority Gryffindor-sorted have broken from the Old Laws, but there are very few families that are strictly one house." Blaise sighed.

"And again--huh?"

"This is impossible!" Draco growled. "According to Fudge, we have to have someone who completed the Lineage Potion and has the tattoos watch us! Hardly anyone does the tattoos anymore because the Ministry is so asinine about the potion even being made. Now they're ordering this?" He looked at Andromeda Tonks. "Did you put the potion to skin?"

"I never made it." Andromeda shook her head. "I left home before I was eighteen."

"Harry?" Neville looked expectantly over at the other boy.

Harry sighed. Tonks had given them permission to dress as they wanted until Dumbledore and the rest of the staff returned. Harry was in jeans and a plain dark blue t-shirt. Seamus likewise was in Muggle clothing. The rest were in tunics and trousers. Harry pushed up his t-shirt sleeve to reveal the Heir Marks.

"How are we going to get everyone done in 48 hours, let alone whatever else is all there..." Harry groaned.

"The Great Hall?" Tonks asked.

Harry wanted to scream at her not to look to him to make the decision. Tonks was great, fun and bright, and Seamus said she was not too shabby at teaching either, though she had a rather odd way of going about it. Tonks had no problem with taking initiative or mother-henning a bit here and there, but taking charge completely was another thing all together.

"Have you done your book yet, Potter?" Blaise asked.

Harry shook his head. "Somehow, I've been just a bit too busy to get to it," Harry snarked.

Luna giggled. "Can you imagine how Fudge is going to blow his top over a group brewing?"

"Like we have a bloody choice. We're doing our best to comply with Ministry Mandates," Neville muttered fatalistically.

They were all looking at him. Harry wanted to scream. Tonks was the bloody professor. He was proud of himself for not hexing her when she said, "I'll join you lot, always been fascinated by that potion myself--if that's alright, Harry?"

He settled for clenching his teeth, nodding and rolling his eyes. "What about you, Pansy? Going to come get naked in the Great Hall with everyone else?" he asked, absently rubbing his scar from habit at the building headache he had.

Mr. Tonks choked on his eggs. His wife was clapping him on the back and hurriedly trying to explain the potion.

Pansy shrugged but agreed.

"Tonks, Mrs. Tonks, you two can apparate to Diagon Alley and get anything that we're short on for the potions. Zabini, Malfoy, Seamus you three sort out what we might need. Millie, Neville, get the house elves to clear all the tables out of the Great Hall. We need a large work table for each of you to brew at and a bed each. You might as well sleep off the brewing in the Great Hall 'cause it'll just be simpler. Luna, Pansy, can you two head to the library and find some first aid healing spells? Specifically, how the heck to do anything about a severed artery. Just in case."

"And you will be?"

"Need to check on Karkaroff--"

"What?" Andromeda Tonks gasped.

"He's being held for safe keeping up in the South tower till Dumbledore gets back and figures out what to do with him." Harry shrugged. "I need to talk to Pomfrey again. Get Snape settled up. Hagrid ... you all just concentrate on getting the Great Hall set up and everything ready, we'll start at five this evening. I'll take care of the rest of--everything, I guess," Harry sighed. "Yes, yes, I'm not the boss of you, you don't take orders from me, Malfoy. You still hate me. Did I forget anything, Malfoy?"

"You are an arse. And I was going to say Severus' dictoquills arrived." Draco glared, hot color on his cheeks.

"I'll take them down later."

Andromeda Tonks shook her head, muttering something about Albus Dumbledore needing a good beating after the teens dispersed to get started on their day's work.

"Really, Nymphadora, you are the professor!" She glared at her daughter. She'd kept quiet while the teens were present, but wasn't going to withhold her opinion from her daughter any longer.

Tonks nodded slowly. "Yeah, I know, mum. Harry's got to learn how to think and how to take charge, though. He's the one Dumbledore is grooming to take charge after him eventually. Besides, he's been in charge since the attack at Regis Isle more or less; it isn't quite fair for me to take charge of everything when he's the one that knows what's going on and has been doing such a good job. It'd be like a slap in the face, me coming in and taking over, really. I'm only twenty-four, mum. Not that much older than them. Your average bunch of sixth years, well, yeah, I could pull the professor card and take charge, but that lot--no. They're--well..." Tonks trailed off with a shrug.

Andromeda snorted, muttering more details of how Albus Dumbledore really needed some sense and reality beaten into his thick skull, but conceded her daughter's point.

The entire day was spent dodging numerous Howlers by all the Apprentices, on top of their assigned tasks and what homework they managed to squeeze in when their other duties completed. Before he even went anywhere near the Great Hall late that afternoon, Harry was worn out.

Harry had reluctantly put Snape into a spell-induced Healing Sleep at Lady Ygraine's urging. The Ravenclaw ghost worked with him on the spell, Remus volunteering as the practice subject. Most of his day was spent brewing the salve that would help the infection, again with Lady Ygraine hovering about instructing him step by step. The reason for the Healing Sleep was that the salve was often quite painful; effective, but painful. Remembering the agony of having all the bones in his arm regrown, Harry could understand that.

The infection in Snape's hands and the subsequent fever were worrisome but not unexpected, unfortunately. Lady Ygraine was quite optimistic that the Healing Sleep and the salve would go a long way in rectifying the set-back in Snape's recovery. "He's quite the most stubborn creature I've ever laid eyes on. That goes a very long way in his favor," the ghost surmised.

He did manage to wheedle the castle into helping him get into Snape's storeroom for the ingredients, at least. Hogwarts was still sulking and exasperated with him, but he managed to convince the obstinate presence in the back of his head that it was necessary.

Snape was left deep under the Healing Sleep with Remus, who was still scraped and sore but nearly back to normal, and Lady Ygraine, with Winky ready to go fetch whatever was needed and Dobby and the Bloody Baron guarding the hall.

Snape was going to kill him when he recovered, Harry thought. If not for having a werewolf, a pair of house elves and a ghost helping with his care, then for the way Harry had snapped at him trying to get the stubborn man to accept treatment.

Harry went to check on Karkaroff. Upon entering the room, two thick tomes when flying at him. Karkaroff was rather annoyed at being left again, for days, and irked by the books that had been brought to him--Hogwarts: A History and a biography of Alastor Moody.

Harry dealt with Karkaroff's temper tantrum by having one of his own. By the time he left, Karkaroff was sitting meekly on his bed and thankful to be left with the biography of Moody to pass the time, as Harry had scooped up Hogwarts: A History and was taking it with him. The Death Eater defector wondered if the Daily Prophet hadn't had a point about the Boy Who Lived being slightly insane after the furious foul-mouthed screaming episode he'd just experienced.

It was a good thing Karkaroff had caught the worst of Harry's temper because he was gnashing his teeth by the time he got done with his conversation with Madame Pomfrey, who in one breath was certain that they were managing fine with Severus. He'd barred her from his quarters long since and she wasn't going to antagonize the poor man in the condition he was in by disregarding his wishes. Harry gripped his pant legs to keep his hands still; he truly wanted to slap Pomfrey for that bit of idiocy. She quizzed him on the making of the salve, and thought it would do the job quite well. It was a very archaic version of the salve she was more familiar with, but it should do splendidly. Pomfrey asked if he would find out if Lady Ygraine would mind coming and visiting the Hospital Wing sometime, as she would be most interested in the Healer ghost's opinions on a great many modern healing techniques. If the Apprentices had any spare time she certainly had a number of potions needing brewed, and she had her annual report for Dumbledore, if Harry would be so good as to deliver it.

Harry did have enough sense to realize the Mediwitch was run ragged herself and hadn't meant to be so aggravating. During most of the conversation with him she was worriedly watching one of the still-critical victims of Regis Isle who'd taken a turn for the worse.

With a sigh, he headed for the Great Hall to get the Lineage Potion brewing done. It was painfully obvious that Fudge had expected to have the Apprenticeship program disbanded by their inability to fulfill the eligibility requirements of this new mandate. He didn't want to think of what the petty tyrannical idiot would come up with when this exploded in his face. Harry just hoped that for once Neville didn't blow up his cauldron.

"I am going on record as saying Cornelius Fudge and Percy Weasley are going to die," Luna muttered, red faced.

"Can see the headlines now--Hogwarts Apprentices and a former Auror Professor being held for questioning in the lynching deaths of Minister of Magic and Secretary of Education," Millie muttered.

Tonks and the three girls were on one side of the great hall, the boys on the other, the center cordoned off enough for decency's sake. The Glamoris Purgis was cast in rapid succession, first Tonks, then Pansy, Millie and Luna. They all flinched and hissed a bit but their reactions were nothing like what had happened when he had the Glamoris Purgis cast on him. He quickly retreated to the "boys" side of the Great Hall. Technically he had to be up where the teachers normally sat so he could keep an eye on everyone, but he intended to avoid looking at the girls' side as much as possible.

Seamus was the first of the boys. Again no problems. Then he cast the spell on Neville.

"Oh bloody HELL!!" Harry shouted as Neville dropped to his knees screaming. A red glow surrounded him.

Tonks came running. "What--what happened?" The trio of girls peeked around the divider.

"He has a glamour on; this is what happened when Snape hit me with the Glamoris Purgis."

Neville had a line of runes going vertically down his left cheek, a line across his forehead nearly in his hair line and one around his throat, much the same as Harry's. There was also a line of runes all the way up his right arm from wrist to shoulder and a starburst pattern of runes over his heart.

"You okay there, Neville?"

"Uh--maybe," Neville answered weakly.

"Let's get this over with, Potter." Draco muttered, with a feeling of dread.

Harry cast the spell again. Draco let out a nearly inhuman scream as the spell hit him and an ice-blue glowing mist began to form around him.

Ten minutes later Draco was panting on the floor of the Great Hall. He too had the band of runes about his neck and across his forehead, and a thin line ringing each wrist. Along the left side of his jaw was another line of runes. A--well, it looked like a braid, was tattooed down his spine comprised of runes and there was what looked something like an Ironbelly Dragon, save for the fact it was an eerie icy-blue-white, on Draco's chest.

Harry was ready to hex a few holes through the walls when the Glamoris Purgis dropped Blaise to his knees screaming as well.

Blaise had the same line high across his forehead and the thin bands of runes ringing his neck. There were three joined circles of runes on his left cheekbone, and a similar group of three joined circles of runes on his chest.

Over ten hours later the potions were completed and all eight had opted for the tattoo markings, mostly to have absolutely undisputable proof in the face of Fudge's mandates that they had brewed the potions.

Harry blinked, helping Tonks to bed. Her tattoo wasn't an Heir mark, but a Lineage Inheritance mark. Tonks had the Gentry Rowan Branch in the band under the Sword which Harry presumed was the Black Family Mark.

Seamus had managed to get Neville and Blaise into the beds set up and waiting for them in the Great Hall.

"Lay down before you fall down, Seamus," Harry ordered brusquely as he made a mad dash for Malfoy, who was weaving on his feet while trying to bottle the remainder of his potion for the book they'd need to make later that day. Steadying the blonde, Harry quickly bottled it and levitated Draco to his bed.

"You need to at least sleep a couple hours, Harry," Seamus glared, stumbling to the empty bed.


"I get to win this argument."

"Are you sure you two aren't together?" Blaise snorted weakly.

Harry flipped off the Slytherin and summoned a House-elf, ordering it to come and wake him in three hours. Kicking off his sneakers, he told Seamus to scoot over and flopped down next to him.


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