As soon as he turned, he had a precognition.
Harry stopped from going any further, looked down, and closed his eyes as the scene played out with Crabbe and Goyle physically attacking him from behind. He just shook his head at the lunacy of the two. Then he waited.
He ducked the big meaty fist from Goyle that was aiming for his head and twisted out of the way of the fist from Crabbe that was aiming for his kidneys. He didn’t even need his extra speed to avoid their slow, ponderous blows. When he straightened back up, he concentrated and gave his response.
Suddenly both of the brutes were lifted several feet in the air and they were holding their throats, as they appeared to be choking. Harry liked this spell since it reminded him of Star Wars. Harry walked forwards away from everyone else as they floated in front of him. They stopped moving when their backs hit the wall behind them. They were struggling with all the strength they had but they could not break free of the magical grip Harry had around their necks.
“I thought we had a deal to drop it?” Harry asked calmly.
They just pointed at their throats since they couldn’t speak and hoped he would stop.
“You know, it wouldn’t take much to just snap your necks.”
Their eyes grew big at that statement and they shook their heads, pleading with their eyes for him to stop.
“Oh, I’m not going to do it. You haven’t given me a reason to do that and you’re not going to give me a reason, are you?”
They shook their heads again.
“Good.” Harry turned and headed back toward Mandy while they fell to the floor coughing and gagging, trying to catch their breath.
“I suggest you keep your attack dogs on a tighter leash, Malfoy,” said Mandy.
“I had nothing to do with it,” Draco replied. “They pulled this stupid stunt all by themselves.”
Everyone was just staring at the two of them coughing and holding their necks. Occasionally, they would glance over at Harry who was back to leaning against the wall and holding Mandy’s hand.
“What’s wrong with Mr. Goyle and Mr. Crabbe?” asked Professor Flitwick as he walked up. No one noticed the very short professor when he was approaching. All eyes were on Harry and the two idiots.
“They made the mistake of attacking Harry,” Ron answered his question.
“Ah, I see,” he said as if that made perfect sense. “Well, let’s all start class, shall we?” he asked everyone.
“Aren’t you going to punish them for fighting, Professor?” asked Hermione.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure they learned their lesson, Miss Granger. It looks like they were punished already.”
“Yes sir, I suppose they were,” she answered contritely.
“Mr. Potter?” Flitwick stopped in front of him and everyone thought he would get in trouble for what he did.
“I was very sorry to see that your owl was hurt. She is such a beautiful bird. I trust Hagrid is taking care of her?”
“Yes, sir. He seems to think she’ll be alright after some needed rest. Thankfully, Mandy was able to heal her right away.”
“Thanks for reminding me, Mr. Potter.” He then turned toward Mandy. “Thirty points to Ravenclaw for your quick thinking and healing spell knowledge, Miss Brocklehurst.”
“Thank you, Professor.”
“My pleasure. You earned it. Now, everyone in so we can get started.”
After a few minutes of lecture, Crabbe and Goyle both raised their hands.
“Yes?” asked Flitwick.
“Our throats are hurting, Professor,” said Goyle.
“Can we go see the nurse?” asked Crabbe.
“I’m inclined to make you wait until class is over, but I suppose in case it’s serious I should let you go. I doubt you’ll be able to concentrate anyway.” He mumbled that last part a little.
“May I, Professor?” asked Mandy.
“Yes, Miss Brocklehurst. Go right ahead.”
Mandy stood and walked to the back where the two Slytherins were. They just looked at her in their dumb manner. She then cast two diagnostic spells on them. She followed that up by casting two more spells before returning to her seat next to Harry. Crabbe and Goyle looked like they were feeling much better.
“They were just sore. No real damage done. I put a numbing charm on them both. They should be fine now.”
“Thank you, Miss Brocklehurst, and another twenty points for Ravenclaw. …Now where was I?”
The reply from Amelia said she was willing to meet with him on Thursday afternoon when neither he nor Mandy had a class. The time was set for 3:30pm. Then on Thursday, Harry faded Mandy and himself to the Ministry and they made their way to Amelia’s office for their appointment.
Her assistant, Penny, announced their arrival to her boss. Amelia actually came out of her office and greeted the couple.
“Harry, Mandy, what a pleasant surprise. Come on in and have a seat,” she said cheerfully then followed them in shutting and spelling the door. She made her way back behind her desk and sat down. “Now, what can I do for you two that’s so important?”
“Let me ask you a question, Amelia,” said Harry.
“How many known Death Eaters do you think there are right now on the loose? Do we have a list of all those no longer in Azkaban and the ones that joined more recently?”
“Sure, we have a pretty good idea of how many he has. We know most of their names too,” she answered.
“Do you have an exact figure?” Harry asked.
“Give me just a second,” she told them then stood up and went to her door and opened it. “Penny?”
“Yes, Director?” they heard her answer.
“Have Auror Shacklebolt join me in my meeting, please.”
“Right away, ma’am.”
Amelia walked back to her desk and sat down again.
“Let’s wait on Kingsley Shacklebolt. He should have the info you need.”
Harry and Mandy nodded. Soon after, Kingsley entered the office.
“You wanted to see me, Director?” he asked.
“Yes. I believe you know Harry and Mandy,” she indicated her guests.
“Of course. Hello you two,” he said in his deep baritone voice.
“Harry was asking if we have an exact number of Death Eaters on file. I believe he also wants to know if we have their names as well. Correct?” she asked looking at Harry.
“Yes, that would be helpful.”
“Wait a second, Harry,” said Kingsley. “Why do you want to know? You’re not planning on any vigilante justice are you?”
“Actually, you’re not far off. I plan on hiring it done,” he replied. “In a fashion, at least.”
“What do you mean exactly?” asked Amelia leaning forward.
“He means that he wants to put a bounty on all the Death Eaters,” answered Mandy. “That way bounty hunters and assassins, in other words, professionals, can do the job of hunting them down and removing them.”
“I recommend we post the bounties as dead or alive,” added Harry.
“The Ministry can’t afford that,” said Amelia.
“The Ministry can’t, but I can,” said Harry.
Amelia, who was sitting forward in her seat during the conversation, leaned back in her chair and appeared deep in thought. Kingsley had a pensive look on his face as well.
“So how many are we talking about?” asked Harry after a few seconds. “I need to know how much money to set aside for this.”
Kingsley appeared to shake himself out of deep thought and looked right at Harry who just raised his eyebrows in anticipation.
“Last count, after he broke them out of Azkaban, was around thirty-six. We can probably come up with solid names of thirty or so of that number.”
“Names you are positive they are Death Eaters so we could actually name them on a bounty?” asked Mandy.
“Excellent!” exclaimed Harry. “That will help a great deal. Now, the question is how much of a bounty should we put on their heads?”
“I think this discussion is going to take a bit longer than expected,” interjected Amelia. “We have a lot to decide and think about. I’ll order us some tea.”
Amelia went to the door and asked Penny to supply tea for all of them and requested Penny join them so she could take notes for the meeting. Penny returned with the tea and a Dicta-Quill in hand.
Much tea was consumed and all the details hashed out for Operation DEBI (Death Eater Bounty Initiative.) That was Penny’s idea. It was decided to assign different amounts to different Death Eaters. The marked, but unknown ones, were basically add-ins at 5,000 galleons. The known, more dangerous ones, could fetch as much as 20,000 galleons.
The funds were going to be setup where the unsavory types could pick up their bounty money from Gringotts without fear of reprisal from the Ministry. Of course, the Death Eater prisoners or corpses would have to be verified before any money was released. Harry hired Remus for that job. He was given a signature on the special account so was able to dispense funds from it.
Remus was also given Auror portkeys to send the Death Eaters straight to a specific holding cell where an Auror on duty would be alerted so the Death Eater could be dealt with. They were pretty sure most, if not all, of the Death Eaters would be dead on arrival. Since the bounties were set for dead or alive, which is what Harry pushed for, they were fairly certain of it.
In March, on Mandy’s seventeenth birthday, Harry had arranged with David and Alison to surprise Mandy with a family birthday party. They would take care of inviting their extended family over and prepare the food, while Harry was responsible for getting Mandy to the party on time.
“Where are you taking me, Harry?”
“Not telling. It’s a surprise for your birthday. I’ll fade us there and I’m sure you’ll have a good time.”
“Okay, Harry, if you say so.” She hooked her arm around Harry’s arm. “I’m ready.”
“Here we go.”
Harry faded them and they ended up just about twenty steps from her front door. She knew exactly where she was.
“You brought me home?”
“I thought you might like some private family time on this important birthday. I know I would.”
She frowned realizing how much he meant that. She stroked his face with her right hand.
“This is great, Harry! I’m glad you did this. It’ll be so good to see my parents again.”
“Let’s go say ‘hi’ then,” he led her to the door which she opened excitedly but didn’t see anyone.
“Mum, Dad, I’m home,” she called out.
Suddenly, a whole bunch of people jumped out of their hiding places and others removed disillusionment charms.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” they all shouted as streamers and balloons appeared out of nowhere.
Mandy stumbled back into Harry who grabbed her and held her up. She put her hand to her mouth as she slowly started to smile. She turned back to Harry.
“I thought you said this was going to be a private family get together?”
“I was told only family was invited,” he assured her.
“It looks like the whole family,” she said turning back around to see her mother and father was right in front of her now.
“Happy Birthday, honey,” Alison told her as she gave her a big birthday hug and then David followed his wife.
“Happy Birthday, sweetie,” he said as he hugged her tight.
Next came all the rest of the family so Harry just stood in the background and watched. He shook hands and greeted any who bothered talking to him, but hoped they stayed focus on Mandy. It was her birthday after all and they all seemed to understand that.
Harry was surprised to see Tracey Davis there. She explained that her parents came and got her for a special family event so she was allowed to leave the castle for the afternoon and evening. She was the only one that actually greeted him with a hug, besides Alison.
Tracey also introduced Harry to her parents. They were happy to meet the young man and had been watching him since he entered the house with Mandy. He appeared to be quite confident and well spoken, not to mention, powerful.
When the party was over, the family who stayed were served a light but tasty dinner. After all the cake and ice cream, no one could handle a big meal. Mandy received many, many presents, but most went to her room. Only a few needed to go back with her. Harry dutifully shrunk them for her and put them all in a bag he conjured.
When it was starting to get late, they said their goodbyes and left to go back to Harry’s chamber.
That was when Mandy received her second present from Harry. When he was done, she was having a hard time believing that he could make her feel so good so many times. Well, if she hadn’t experienced it herself that is.
It had taken two and a half days of rest before Hedwig was feeling back to her old self again. Harry was glad to see her up and about. He had checked on her every day and petted her while she was with Hagrid. He took good care of her and fed her food that would help her recover faster.
A month or so later, when Harry showed up in the owlery with another letter for Amelia, Hedwig flew down and landed in front of Harry with her foot stuck out.
“Not this time Hedwig. It’s way too dangerous for you. I’m not risking your life.”
Hedwig hooted and shook her head. She even stomped her feet in her own way before sticking her leg back out and insisting on it.
“I’m sorry Hedwig but I can’t risk you.”
Hedwig stared at him for a second then started pecking at his hand to get to the letter. It was hurting him.
“Ow!” Harry said moving his hand and himself back away from her. “Hang on a second, Hedwig. I may have a solution.”
Hedwig settled back down and looked up at him expectantly.
“I’ll let you take this letter, only if you let me change your feathers temporarily to another color. I think brown should do the trick. It’s the most common owl color and no one will recognize you that way. I’ll change you back next time I see you. Deal?”
Hedwig stared at him for a few seconds then bobbed her head up and down and hooted.
“Great! Stand still for a second.”
Harry looked over at a few of the brown owls and got the right image in his mind of what he wanted. He then took out his wand and waved it in front of Hedwig. She suddenly changed from a snowy-white color to a nice brown with varying shades like the other brown owls.
Harry inspected his work.
“Not bad, if I say so myself. You look just like a regular brown owl, Hedwig. Now, you may take this letter for me to Amelia Bones,” he said while tying it onto her leg, “but, you must promise me you will be extra careful.”
Hedwig rubbed her head against his hand.
“Thanks, Hedwig. I love you too. Fly safe!”
With that, Hedwig left the owlery.
Occasionally, Harry and Amelia exchanged letters regarding Operation DEBI. They wanted to make sure they were on the same page at all times. Remus reported to Harry whenever funds were released from the account. It included who the funds were for. Amelia reported back to Harry which Death Eaters showed up in the Ministry cell so he could reconcile with the report from Remus. So far, they had four dead Death Eaters verified. None were any of the big names.
However, after another month, things were looking up. Twenty-six Death Eaters were killed and turned in for payment. Amelia had the bodies verified in the cell. What was interesting was Remus reported that a Muggleborn with sniper skills had turned in the most bounties so far. He said he wasn’t a professional bounty hunter or assassin. He had just served in the military after graduating Hogwarts many years ago. All were shot in the heart or the head.
He also told Remus that he saw the report in the paper about the bounties and knew he could help. His military experience came in handy tracking them down and then taking them out. He had no love for the Death Eaters. They had murdered too many of his friends.
All three of the Lestranges, Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan, were killed by him along with Greyback, the vicious werewolf, and those were among the highest bounties.
Joseph Montague was a sixty-three year old Muggleborn wizard. When he graduated from Hogwarts in 1951, there were no jobs for him in the magical world. The jobs went to purebloods instead, even if a Muggleborn or half-blood was more qualified. His family was not that well off, so he had to fend for himself.
Knowing he had to make money in the regular world, but without a Muggle education he was limited on the jobs he could do. However, his family came from a long line of military men and a few women as well. He grew up with a father and uncles who taught him how to handle guns and became an excellent marksman.
When he joined up to train and fight if necessary in her Majesty’s army, he was soon separated out for his skills as a sniper. With the extra military training, he soon became one of their best snipers they had. He could consistently hit his mark from over two miles away, and that was without using his magic.
He was highly decorated and made a career out of the military. He was surprised when he was recruited by the SAS who was looking for a good sniper. It was there he was trained in covert reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue. They had to first locate the hostage, then take out the hostiles.
It was this training that enabled him to be quite proficient at hunting down people, putting the puzzle pieces together, and following through on the mission. He had a silencer on his rifle and since he was over a mile away from his targets, they never heard a thing.
Joe did some research, first of all, on where the Death Eaters lived. Most all were purebloods from old families so finding their homes was not that difficult if you knew where to look. When he found the Lestrange Manor, he was happy to note they were just using wards to hide the place from Muggles and keep other people out. It had no Fidelius charm. It was likely the place was too big for the Fidelius anyway.
He tested a bullet by shooting it into the ground just past their wards. Just as he thought, the bullet passed unhindered. Most purebloods never realize the danger Muggles with guns can pose to their well-being. Their wards held no shield against bullets. They were only concerned about magic and people not getting through. That was their undoing.
Joe setup a little over a mile away on a slight rise that allowed him a good field of vision over the property, except for the opposite side of the manor he was on. Just in case, he scouted out another hidden location on the other side so he could cover that side and apparate back and forth from one hideout to another if needed. He had long since learned how to apparate silently. In his line of work silence was a necessity.
Now, all Joe had to do was wait. No problem. He was very accustomed to waiting. He had done it many times as a sniper. He had is nephew and grandson, who were both masters with wards, disillusioned and working on bringing the wards down while Joe waited. All three had hi-tech communication to stay in touch with each other.
Their break came when Rabastan came to visit his brother and sister-in-law. He apparated to within a few steps from the front door and was just about to reach it when a large caliber bullet went right through his heart and embedded into the thick door in front of him.
Rabastan Lestrange was dead before his body ever hit the ground.
The ones in the house heard the thud of the bullet, but didn’t realize what it was. An elf opened the door and screamed when it saw the body of Rabastan. It hurried back into the manor but left the door wide open.
Joe patiently waited.
Soon Rodolphus ran to the door and stepped out to check on his brother. He was kneeling over him when he suddenly looked up to see if anyone was around. When he did a large caliber bullet went right through his left eye and blew out the back of his head. That second bullet bore into the front stoop behind him before it came to a stop.
The elf was looking on when it saw it’s master, Rodolphus, slump over his brother dead with his brains splattered all over the place, including on the elf. The bullet also buried itself about a foot in front of the elf’s feet. The elf leaped about three feet into the air and popped away.
Joe waited for fifteen minutes but no other movement was detected.
“Are you boys ready with those wards?” he asked over the com-link.
“We’ve been waiting on you Grandpa. What took you so long?”
He heard his nephew chuckle with his grandson.
“Watch it you two. I still have my rifle,” he warned them with a smile.
“Just tell us when, Uncle Joe. We’ll bring them down.”
“Now would be good.”
A minute later, they reported back.
“Stay where you are for now and keep me covered,” he ordered.
“Yes, sir,” they both replied all business this time.
Joe apparated to about the middle of the walk up to the front door. He had switched to a smaller automatic rifle and had it up to his chin, aiming with it as he approached the house. Before he made it to the brother’s bodies, he heard a feint crack from within the house and then a loud one right behind him. He felt a hand grab his collar and pull him down hard backwards.
When he fell back, he immediately threw his rifle away from him and saw Bellatrix with a knife striking down with it to stab him. He just used his backwards momentum and brought his foot up and over, kicking the witch right in the chest which knocked her backwards hard onto the grass where she lost control of the knife as it went flying.
She came up with her wand drawn and the Killing Curse on her lips until she was struck three times in the chest with 45 caliber bullets from the pistol Joe pulled. He drew it right after he kicked her then flipped over sideways onto his knees, coming up into a ready position where he then fired with pinpoint accuracy.
The crazy witch with her wild hair, dropped her wand when she was hit in the chest with the three bullets. She just stood there and stared at the man kneeling in front of her. She thought that was appropriate for a mudblood. She turned around looking for her wand, not realizing it was right in front of her and she was basically already dead.
She fell to her knees and finally saw her wand. She reached, picked it up slowly, and looked at it strangely. Joe was about to shoot her in the head. Magic must be keeping her alive, he thought. But then, she fell over dead with the wand still in her hand. Joe walked over and felt her neck for a pulse. She had none. She was no longer breathing either.
Joe then walked up to the door with his pistol at the ready but didn’t go in. He pulled his wand and cast Homenum Revelio inside the house. The spell showed no other humans in the house. Joe then had a talk with the elf that was left and explained why he did what he did. The elf did not seem to be all that upset with the loss of his masters. They probably abused him horribly.
Joe made sure only he was seen turning in the bodies. He wanted to keep his nephew and grandson out of that part so no one would know they were involved. They did however get their share of the bounties.
Things slowed down after that. Everyone assumed the remaining Death Eaters had gone into hiding. There was a noticeable drop in Death Eater attacks as well. The Daily Prophet reported heavily on the Death Eater deaths so readers were well aware of what was going on.
The dementors were a different story. There were news reports of the dementors attacking Muggle neighborhoods and even some magical areas as well. The aurors and the Order were running themselves ragged trying to stay on alert so they could get to those places as soon as they knew. Sometimes it was after the fact and many people were kissed.
Apparently, since Voldemort could not use his Death Eaters as he would like then he turned to the dementors instead. He pretty much gave them freedom to roam and feed with an occasional order to attack a certain area.
The Muggles couldn’t see them so were helpless against them even if they had weapons. Most witches and wizards could not cast a patronus to save their lives. On the rare occasion when the dementors ran into a few who could cast a patronus, the area they were attacking was barely saved from complete disaster. This continued for a few weeks with Muggles and magicals alike losing hope that this nightmare would ever end.
Suddenly, like a light at the end of the tunnel, hope was found in the midst of the darkness.
What was that hope?
It was in the form of a black-haired teenager who discovered a way to end the dementors terror. It took a good bit of searching by Harry. Mandy had to quit when nothing was found in his library using regular magic. However, Harry had to continue because there was something in the library about it using Parseltongue magic.
In fact, he found two items of magic that was an answer to the problem. They were not easy to learn, however. There was a spell to destroy the dementors and that was the one that was slightly less difficult to learn. The second spell was horrendously difficult, mainly because it was more of a ritual with about twenty complicated steps.
In truth, the second spell should be used first for that spell enabled the caster to draw all the dementors to him or her in one spot. If he could master that ritual, then Harry could get them all together for the final spell to remove them completely from existence. Of course, once he had them all in one spot he would have to work fast and make that spell work the first time. He would not likely get a second chance, because if he doesn’t make it work the first time, he will be too drained to do anything else.