Greye's Notes: This chapter is about to take a dive into the unknown. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter.
Last Time: Harry’s rest was interrupted as the Minister and his two Auror lackeys burst into the Hospital Wing, demanding answers. Fleur wolfs out-erm, Veelas out-but even her formidable power is not enough to combat two trained Aurors. Harry tries to help, but finds himself trapped in a binding curse. While he does manage to free himself, it seems that all is lost until Madame Pomfrey makes an appearance, quickly followed by Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Jefferoi. It’s decided that Harry will have to talk to the Ministry the next day. Ron delivers some news to Harry about his current status among the students and the wizarding world, and Fleur reveals her secret to her father.
Harry greatly resisted the urge to glare at the assembled witches and wizards before him. He had repeated himself what felt like a hundred times, and still they asked him the same pointless questions.
“Mr. Potter,” began an older witch whose name he had forgotten, “Please state again, for the record, whom you saw on the night you were attacked.”
Harry wanted to grind his teeth in frustration. Only the sudden calming influence he felt from Fleur kept him from lashing out at this panel. Before him were witches and wizards whose task it was to maintain Magical Law - most were members of the Council of Magical Law. Barty Crouch, whom Harry had met a couple times, and a man named Pius Thicknesse were on the panel. Presiding over the proceedings was Amelia Bones, who also served on the Wizengamot. If he didn’t want to end up answering to them, he reminded himself, he needed to maintain his cool here and now. So instead of lashing out, Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath before repeating himself.
When his eyes opened again, he thought he caught the faintest glimmer of approval from Amelia Bones. “I was talking with who I thought was Moody,” Harry began again, “And suddenly he started acting strangely-” He repeated what “Moody” had said, “And then he began to change. I knew right away it must be polyjuice potion.”
He saw that statement got a raised eyebrow from some of the men and women sitting opposite him, and he hurried on before they could question him about that. No need to get into his adventures from second year.
“And whom,” Amelia took over the questioning from there, “Did this impostor become after the effects of the potion had worn off?”
Harry didn’t know why they kept wanting him to answer this same question over and over. Did they think he’d “slip up” or something? “I didn’t recognize him at first-” this was partly a lie, as Harry had seen the man in a dream once, “but after I described him to the Ministry, and after my memory was reviewed,” he said that last part somewhat forcefully, “I was shown photos of several wizards of interest inside and outside of Azkaban. I was easily able to identify the man I saw, as Barty Crouch Jr.” He saw Mr. Crouch flinch as he repeated the name of his son, and Harry felt bad for the man. That didn’t change the fact that he had nothing more to say about it.
“And this man, allegedly Barty Crouch Jr.,” Harry wondered if Ms. Bones said that as a courtesy to Mr. Crouch or if she really didn’t believe him, “took some of your blood? Is that correct?”
Harry groaned inwardly, but responded. “Yes. He grabbed me, pulled out a knife, and sliced into my arm.” He delivered this in a deadpan voice that had the entire panel flinching. “Please ma’am, I have already told you everything I know, and you have my memory to verify my words. Why do we keep going over this?” He couldn’t help it anymore.
Before Amelia could respond, Pius spoke up. The man’s voice was strange, Harry thought, it was almost but not quite monotone, and also possesed an eerie quality. “Mr. Potter, you would be well advised to cooperate with these proceedings. Perhaps they seem tedious to you, but this is a system that has existed for hundreds of years. Trust it.” Amelia looked at Pius in surprise, and even Harry raised an eyebrow. Up until this point, the man had not spoken one word. It turned out he could be quite loquacious when he wanted to be.
Thought it wasn’t the answer he’d hoped for, Harry resigned himself to more inane questioning. He offered a stiff nod to Pius.
“Now Mr. Potter,” Amelia shuffled her papers, “Let’s talk about the Goblet of Fire...”
Several hours later, Harry Potter found himself standing outside the Ministry of Magic somewhere in London, blinking owlishly at the sunlight beaming down on him. Somehow, it felt like it should be night. He picked a random direction and began walking, letting the events of the last few hours wash over him. He wanted to see Fleur, but he had needed a reprieve to walk for a while before going back to Hogwarts. And so he walked, and he mulled over what had happened.
Harry had already been given the go-ahead by Fleur to explain exactly why he had destroyed the Goblet-to protect her. He explained the conundrum of getting his bondmate out of the dangerous Tournament, without inviting the wrath, or blackmail, of Fleur’s headmistress. He had taken it as a heartening sign when he saw the skin around Amelia Bones’ eyes tightening when he recounted how Fleur had been threatened with harm to her father if she didn’t compete. He’d admitted that it seemed a little childish now, to go to the extremes he had, but he hadn’t had a lot of time and Harry had genuinely felt at the time that his actions were necessary.
Of course the Council-minus Barty Crouch, who had taken a leave of absence halfway into the Goblet of Fire part-interrogated him at length about the entire incident. Had anyone coerced him into destroying it? No. Had anyone pressured, dared, tricked him into it? No. The question that had really gotten under his skin, however, had been when they had asked directly if Fleur had put him up to it-if it had been her plan all along. Harry had answered that with such an angry and emphatic “No” that the two council members besides Amelia and Pius had jumped in their seats a little. Harry had declared then that he would answer no more questions about Fleur, as she had had nothing to do with it. The council hadn’t been pleased by that declaration, but Harry hadn’t budged on it and they’d eventually moved on.
Harry realized with a start that he had made it into some kind of park. Glancing around in bemusement, he found a little pond with a bridge and went to watch the water. His thoughts turned to the decision the council had made.
“Mr. Potter,” Amelia Bones had said some time later, after the council had deliberated in their chambers, “It has been decided that you will not face the Wizengamot today.” Harry couldn’t help the sigh of relief as she slumped in his chair. When he realized the countenances of each council member was still unequivocally stern, however, he slowly inched back up in the chair.
The head of the council continued. “Even so, your actions were grave, and the consequence must match the action. Thus, we have decided, that you will be given the task of finding a replacement for the Goblet of Fire. You must locate another magical item or artifact that can serve as an impartial judge of character. This you must do, before the Fall Equinox next year. That gives you nearly twelve months to accomplish this task.”
Harry stared at her, his eyes wide. He was supposed to do what? He was only a fourth year, and he had missed a good chunk of lessons already! How was he supposed to go about finding, and bringing back, another object like the Goblet of Fire?
Amelia Bones’ eyes glinted in the dim light of the small court room. “That is your task. If you should fail,” her tone became suddenly harsh and unyielding, “you will find yourself expelled from Hogwarts, and banned from wizarding Britain until your 17th year, at which time your case would be re-evaluated.”
He gaped in astonishment and horror. He had no control over his reaction, whatsoever. If he didn’t fulfill this crazy task, he would be banished? Suddenly, he began to sweat. Be expelled from Hogwarts? But Hogwarts was his home. Harry swallowed a suddenly huge lump in his throat. He had many questions, but he couldn’t find the breath to speak even one.
“Albus Dumbledore will be waiting for you when you return to the school, Mr. Potter, and he will give you further instructions. With that, this court session is adjourned.” She and the other council members left, and it was some time before Harry managed to stumble out of the room.
Now, he stood staring down at the murky water of a pond in some park in London. The water was as murky as his thoughts. The entire court session had lasted for hours, and Harry felt drained. He wanted nothing more than to find a place to lie down and take a nap. He couldn’t do that, however. This mission...this “quest” of sorts...needed to be handled. Harry scrubbed a hand through his shaggy black hair and groaned, unintentionally startling a few ducks that had taken refuge under the bridge. A glance up at the darkening sky told him why the ducks were taking cover. He turned and walked back through the park, their quacks of indignation fading behind him.
Fleur sat alone in the Great Hall, the students long departed after lunch. Classes in Hogwarts had continued as if nothing had happened, as if her bondmate had not nearly blown himself up, gotten killed by a crazy man impersonating Mad-Eye Moody, and been manhandled by the Ministry. As if she herself had not spent every moment she could at his side, when she wasn’t being wrongfully interrogated by the British Ministry. Now that Harry was in London, she found herself feeling an almost painful stab of loneliness. She had wanted to go with Harry, but that had been out of the question. Her father was right in that she should really stay away from the British Ministry for the time being, until the whole mess with Fudge and the Dementor had blown over.
Uncharacteristically for the Veela, Fleur allowed her head to droop and rest on the table, a sigh escaping her lips. It really was sad, she thought, how dependent on Harry she had become. She wondered, not for the first time, if this is what it had felt like for her mother. She wondered too if this...this need ever eased over time.
Her thoughts drifted back to her final confrontation with Madame Maxime, after Harry had left. She really wanted to talk to him about it.
“Fleur.” The girl in question jumped when Madame Maxime suddenly appeared near the doors to the Great Hall, startled.
“M-Madame...what are you doing here?” Fleur had assumed that her headmistress would have returned to France by now, or at the very least have been asked to leave Hogwarts.
The extremely tall witch narrowed her eyes at Fleur, an expression of loathing crossing her face. “I have every right to be here, I am still a guest of Professor Dumbledore.” Fleur’s eyebrows raised in surprise, but before she could question her headmistress, Maxime continued. “The carriage has returned to take me home to Beauxbatons however...but you, my dear, will not be on it. Before I left, I wanted to make it very clear that you will not be welcome back at Beauxbatons this year. You will need to make some...other...arrangements to finish your schooling.”
Fleur felt her mouth drop open in shock, and the first swirls of anger spreading through her at the amused smirk on the Madame’s face.
“Au revoir Fleur.” Madame Maxime passed by her former student haughtily, and paused by the doors outside. “Oh, and my dear, your betrayal has been noted. I will be seeking legal action against your father.”
Anger suffused Fleur, but by the time she reached the door, Madame Maxime’s longer legs had carried her down the steps and across the lawn to her carriage. The young witch stared hard at her former headmistress in blistering consternation. She couldn’t do this!
Fleur watched as the carriage was pulled up into the sky, before turning back into Hogwarts. Her father was still here somewhere, she knew. She just needed to find him. To warn him. How could Dumbledore have allowed her to stay? Maybe he didn’t know, she reasoned. Well, she was about to inform him.
And Fleur had found him, she’d found them both together, actually, in Dumbledore’s study. When she had told her father what Madame Maxime had said, he waved her worries off and told her that he would handle it. Dumbledore though had told Fleur that he had asked Madame Maxime to leave the grounds the day previously, and had been monitoring her to see when she actually would take her leave. The old headmaster apologized that Fleur had been involved in a confrontation at all, but Fleur hadn’t needed an apology. She just wanted to protect her father. Jefferoi had been adamant that she not worry about it, though.
“My sweet daughter, leave this trouble to me. You have faced enough trouble of late.” Her father smiled patiently at her. “This is what parents are for - we protect our children, not the other way around.” Fleur had nodded, though the frustration and worry hadn’t left her.
“But Papa, she expelled me from Beauxbatons and-”
Jefferoi had cut her off gently. “I know, Fleur. But I think you don’t give your old Papa credit. I’m not the Minister for Magic for nothing, after all.” His blue eyes twinkled comfortingly. “This will be set right. You will get to finish school, and I will not be sent to Azkaban, or our own magical prison. Right now Fleur, I don’t want you to worry anymore.”
Professor Dumbledore spoke up then, “And if I may, Minister, I would like to add that Miss Delacour would be most welcome at Hogwarts, should things not work out with Beauxbatons.” Fleur couldn’t help but smile gratefully at Dumbledore for his generosity, though inside she still worried. How could she not?
“Alright Papa, I will leave it to you. And thank you, Professor Dumbledore, for your kindness.” She had bowed her head respectfully before departing.
It was entirely possible her father had gone home now, Fleur thought idly as she looked around the Great Hall. And she would likely be recalled to France very soon herself. No doubt her father was just giving her a chance to say goodbye to Harry properly. A surge of gratitude rose in her, and she sighed. She really did owe her father a lot for his understanding. A clock chimed the hour somewhere in the Hall, and Fleur realized with a start that it was drawing on toward evening. Where in the world was Harry? Surely he was done now?
Harry walked up the great stone steps to the school, reflecting that he had ascended these very same steps many times over the years. This might be one of the last times. He paused at the door and looked around, taking in the castle as he hadn’t in a while, enjoying the rough, weathered stone and the protective gargoyles. This was his home. He didn’t want to lose it.
The moment he walked inside he felt his bond with Fleur sharpen, and he knew she was in the Great Hall. Madame Bones had said he would need to talk to Dumbledore, but she hadn’t said when. He let his feet carry him towards Fleur, and he could feel her doing the same. His green eyes lifted to see that doors to the Great Hall standing open, and between them was a very familiar, very welcome figure. Despite his weariness and worry, a smile stretched across his face. “Fleur.” He greeted warmly, happy when she mirrored his smile. By unspoken consent, they came together in a comforting embrace. Harry could hear Fleur sigh as she tucked her head in under his chin, and he felt relief and contentment spread through him. He was happy to stand there with Fleur’s arms around him forever, he thought.
When he felt a small laugh building inside Fleur, and heard the faint giggle that escaped her, he realized that she had heard his thought. Somewhat mortified, Harry blushed deeply, but didn’t retract the comment. Fleur leaned away from him and looked up into his eyes, and smiled. Harry thought it was highly unfair, the power of that smile. “It is alright Harry,” she murmured quietly, blue eyes shimmering in delight, “I feel the same way.” She raised herself up and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek, and Harry felt his heart skip in his chest. Swallowing, Harry diverted the subject. He didn’t feel ready to go any further with that feeling, or the look in her eyes.
“I’ve got to go and speak to Dumbledore, about what the Council said. Would you come with me?” He could tell that she knew he had changed the subject on purpose, but he could also tell that she didn’t mind. Fleur’s eyes became serious.
The French witch pulled away from him in favor of linking her arm through his. “Of course I’ll come with you. Anything I should know before we get there?” Harry walked with Fleur for a few little ways, organizing his thoughts, before answering.
“Well, for starters, I don’t have to see the Wizengamot.” Harry figured he may as well start with the good news first. All the way to Dumbledore’s office, he filled Fleur in on the proceedings...and his grand task.
After he had finished, Fleur remained silent. The link between them didn’t tell him much, either, just that she was in some kind of turmoil. Finally, when they reached the stone gargoyle, she spoke. “I don’t like this Harry. Something about this just doesn’t seem right.” Harry didn’t get much chance to respond, as the gargoyle suddenly leapt aside.
Harry stared. He hadn’t even said the password yet. He looked around, uncertain if there was someone else nearby, but didn’t see anyone. “Guess Dumbledore was expecting us?” Harry led the way up the spiral staircase, but not before addressing Fleur once more. “I don’t like it either. I don’t know what I’ll do if I get banished from Britain. But this is what they’ve ruled for me, and I have to do it.”
The door swung open before he could knock, much like the gargoyle downstairs, and Harry entered with a somewhat perplexed expression on his face. Dumbledore sat behind his desk, pale blue eyes merry. “I can tell that you are uncertain why my office has opened itself to you today Harry, and I shall answer that for you now. Quite simply, I’ve spelled it so that you always have access, should you need anything. In light of the Ministry’s task for you, I thought it might be prudent. There are many resources here Harry, and perhaps one or two will be of use.” The old wizard sat back in his chair then and gestured for Harry and Fleur to each take a seat, which they did. It was silent for a few moments, and Harry was beginning to wonder if he should speak first.
“Before we begin, Harry, have you any questions you would like to resolve?” The wizened wizard steepled his fingers before himself, a faint smile resting across his lips.
Harry frowned, green eyes uncertain. “Sir?” He asked. What did Dumbledore mean, did he have any questions? Well of course he had questions about his assignment, but was that what the professor meant?
The faint smile on Dumbledore’s lips grew. “Harry, I sense that there has been a question burning in you for a couple of days now. I give you full leave to ask it.”
Almost as if the prompting reminded him, Harry’s eyes widened in a suddenly comprehending “oh”, before narrowing as anger filled them. “Yes sir. I would like to know what exactly is being done about Fudge.” Fleur glanced at Harry in surprise, but she quickly turned back to Dumbledore as well. Harry knew that she deeply desired the answer as well.
The headmaster nodded his head knowingly. “Yes, I thought you might wonder. It may please you to know that even as you were facing your panel, Cornelius was being prepared to stand before the Wizengamot for a myriad of reasons - not the least of which was releasing a Dementor on a school age young lady!” Dumbledore’s normally placid blue eyes flashed angrily, and Harry felt momentarily worried, and then gratified that Dumbledore was on their side. Still, he was glad Dumbledore’s angry eyes had never been focused upon him. He didn’t think he would fare well under that gaze. “I expect,” Dumbledore continued after a few seconds pause, “That Cornelius will be facing punishment. Of what nature, I cannot say, but I firmly believe the Wizengamot will see justice done.”
Harry nodded, expression serious. He was pleased that, for once, the justice system seemed to be working. He felt Fleur squeeze his hand, and turned to meet her smiling face with his own answering smile.
“Now,” said Dumbledore, eyes becoming serious. Harry and Fleur both turned to look back at him. “Unless you have anymore questions...?” When Harry shook his head in the negative, he continued. “Let’s discuss this mission. Harry, I assume that you have filled in Miss Delacour?” Harry nodded, and Dumbledore continued. “Good. Now, as you should have been informed, I have further directions for you.” Harry heard Dumbledore talking to him, explaining something about rights that he had, his timeline, and things he could use to help, but he was processing none of it. All at once, the enormity of the task at hand crashed over him, along with the nerves he had felt sitting before a panel of witches and wizards with accusing eyes, being attacked in his hospital bed not once, but twice, burning all the skin off his back, and everything else he had dealt with just since the summer. His breaths came short and his vision narrowed.
Dimly, he knew that someone was next to him, talking to him, and then he felt cool hands pushing gently down on his head. He let his head get pushed between his knees, and accepted the soothing motion of the hand rubbing his back.
“That’s right Harry, deep breaths, deep breaths.”
The voice was soothing, and he did as it asked, breathing deeply and focusing only on that sensation. Gradually, his vision and hearing returned properly and he no longer felt like he was about to pass out. He slowly straightened up, still feeling shaky. “I’m okay now.” He said, realizing that it had been Fleur who had been speaking to him, and Dumbledore rubbing circles on his back. “Really.” He assured them. Dumbledore looked concerned, and Fleur looked like she was nearly distraught. Reflexively, he reached for one of her hands. I’m okay. He told her again silently. Sorry for scaring you. I just got overwhelmed for a second there. Her expression smoothed out into relief, and she gave him a weak smile, squeezing his hand tightly.
“I apologize, professor.” It was difficult to tear his gaze away from Fleur’s, but he did. His eyes followed Dumbledore back to his chair. “Would you please start over?”
The headmaster inclined his head. “That’s quite alright Harry. Everyone finds themselves feeling overwhelmed from time to time.” It occurred to Harry that perhaps his headmaster had heard what he’d said to Fleur, though he hadn’t voiced it aloud. “I just ask that you take care of yourself Harry. Lean on your friends if you need to, and when you need to, take a break. It isn’t healthy to let everything pile up on top of you.” When Harry nodded in response, Dumbledore went on. “Now. As you know, you have until the Fall Equinox next year to find a new impartial judge. That’s sometime in September, if you didn’t know.” The young wizard shrugged uncomfortably - he hadn’t. “You will of course want to start your search right away, but I have been given leave by the Ministry to provide an opportunity for you to train, so that you might have a few more spells in your arsenal. I’ll explain that in a moment.” Harry nodded, and smiled faintly when he felt the gratitude from Fleur - he was also grateful he would be getting at least some help.
“How you go about your search is entirely up to you. You may travel anywhere, and use any magic at your disposal so long as you do not break the International Statute of Secrecy, or any of the laws within the country you are currently in.” Dumbledore took a deep breath, and leveled an intense look at both the young witch and wizard. “And here’s the hard part, Harry. You will have to do this alone.”
Harry sat next to Fleur, feeling dazed. They had wandered out onto the grounds to sit by the lake to find a quiet place to be together, and to give Harry’s mentally exhausted brain a chance to catch up. Fleur had fought valiantly against Dumbledore’s pronouncement, but it was to no avail. This was not a decision that the headmaster had made, the old man had explained. He was merely repeating directions.
“You are to have no one accompany you, as no other young witch or wizard should be deprived of school, and older witches and wizards have jobs. You alone did this deed, and you must fix it.” Harry repeated dully, gazing out at the water. “Fleur, how am I ever going to do this alone? I’m going to wind up banished.” A hand crept into his and squeezed tightly.
“You won’t be alone Harry. We’ll figure this out, together. Somehow.” He could feel her working up to another question, and turned his head to look at her. “Who are you going to choose to train you?”
Harry let his mind drift back to the one consolation of Dumbledore’s explanation.
“You will receive two weeks private instruction from the adult practitioner of your choice, so long as that person is available. That includes professors at Hogwarts. I will need your choice tomorrow.” Dumbledore’s eyes had twinkled knowingly.
“I’m not sure. Professor Dumbledore is an obvious choice, but there are lots of good professors here.” Harry paused, thinking. “Professor McGonagall would be good, I’m sure she could teach me a lot of really practical spells.” More importantly, Harry knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could trust Professor McGonagall. She may be stern, but he knew that she would lay down her life for her students. Fleur nodded at his words, and seemed to be thinking about something. Harry waited for her to figure it out. After a short time, she spoke.
“Harry, Dumbledore said you could ask any adult practitioner. Do you know anyone who isn’t a professor? I mean, that sounds like you could ask anyone, even an Auror from the Ministry or something.” Fleur was looking at him with something akin to excitement. Harry returned her eager look blankly for a few moments as he thought about it. Did he know someone else? He had jumped upon the quickest, most obvious answers. Who else would even help him, aside from a professor? Had he overlooked -
His hand flew up to slap himself on the forehead, a broad grin stretching across his face. “I know who I want to ask!” Pressing his hands to the ground, he jumped nimbly to his feet and pulled Fleur up with him. He felt giddy enough to pull Fleur into an awkward dance, grasping her hands to spin in a circle. Laughter poured out of him, and he shared his delight through their length until Fleur was grinning too. “Come on, I should write him a letter now! I know he’ll help me!” In his excitement, he nearly forgot the way to the Owlery, his feet eager to run. “Fleur, I can’t wait for you to meet him!”
The young witch laughed. “Harry, slow down!” Fleur pulled back on his hand a little, though she was still smiling. “Who in Merlin’s name are you talking about? Who have you chosen?”
Harry obligingly slowed down a little, before turning another beaming smile sliding across his face. “Why, my godfather, Sirius Black of course!”
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