Chapter 6: And It All Fell Down
Harry awoke the next morning only to realize that he had had no dreams the night before. As he lay in his bed, recalling the conversation he had had with his Potions Professor the night before, a sense of sadness overcame him.
'There would be no way for us to know how long they might last.'
Could it be that this mystery girl, his sister in another world, had told him everything she could? Or had something happened to break the connection? Was she injured? Had she died? Did someone discover what she was doing?
'It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.'
Dumbledore had told him that in his first year when he had been caught staring longingly into the Mirror of Erised. Why had he not seen a sibling then? It had been just him, his mother, and his father staring happily back at him. Surely it was not his deepest desire to be an only child? He would give anything for a sibling now. He was often envious of his friend Ron for having so many. He wondered if Ron was ok. Did anyone realize he was missing? Had his friends tried to find him? Deciding that lying in bed all day would accomplish nothing, except perhaps an exacerbated mood from Professor Snape; Harry got out of bed and prepared for his day.
Coming down the stairs Harry could hear voices coming from Snapes study.
"-and now the ENTIRE wizarding community KNOWS that Harry is missing. And as you are missing as well, it has been assumed that you have kidnapped him and deposited him to Our Lord. I am surprised that you have not been summoned yet Severus. He will be MOST unpleased that you have kept this bit of information from Him."
"Calm yourself Lucius. I have made preparations for a situation such as this. It was always known that at one point or another my cover as a spy would be blown, and that I would either wind up dead, or be forced into hiding. Dartmoor Manor has deep and ancient wards around it. It has been woven with both wizarding and elven protection. Only a handful of people know its exact location, and I doubt that you intend to betray me anytime soon," came Snapes bored tones.
"And what of when you return to Hogwarts? Do you really think you will be safe there?"
"I haven't a choice now do I? I can manage my house on my own. Not all of my Snakes are loyal to the Dark Lord and I intend to use that to my advantage. Dumbledore has never kept me safe from retaliation. My survival has been guaranteed by measures I put in place when I first went to the old coot seeking absolution."
"You could hide here? I know you have made quite a sum off of your independent potions research. And I know several businesses and private individuals who use you as their première potions brewer. I could even pull some weight at the Ministry to have your inheritance released to you."
"Be that as it may, that would leave no one to protect the boy. I will not send him to Hogwarts alone where he will continue to be used as a weapon, and be placed in constant danger. I made a promise, and I do not intend to break it!"
"You are as stubborn as ever my slippery little friend. I must away. The Ministry is in disarray, and the Board of Governors has called an emergency meeting over the whole mess. I'll be up to my neck in paperwork for the next week at least."
"Do keep me posted on the whole ordeal. And give Draco my love. Tell him to keep his nose down and his mouth shut."
The floo had just died down as Harry stepped into the study, yet he knew that he had been caught eavesdropping.
"Listening in on private conversations is not very becoming of a Gryffindor Harry."
"What's happened? And who were you speaking to?"
"I was speaking to an associate that works with the Ministry. And what has happened is that the throne has just fallen out from underneath our esteemed Headmaster, and he seems most determined to take as many people with him as possible. I believe we will be looking for new leadership for Hogwarts, and for the wizarding world at large. The Prophet will be having a field day."
"What happened to Headmaster Dumbledore?" asked Harry with a touch of concern.
"It appears as though he has been caught in his own game of chess. Check and mate," sighed Snape.
"What do you mean, Sir?"
"Harry…Dumbledore has always been a very manipulative man. He has never taken 'no' for an answer, and he has always gone to subtle, yet extreme measures to guarantee things turn out his way. Until just recently, no one realized, it appears, just how far Albus Dumbledore was willing to go. The old coot will be lucky if Azkaban is all he gets."
"Surely there has been a mistake. I mean…this is Dumbledore we're talking about. He's head of the Order! He's on the Wizengamot! He's practically the leader of the wizarding world! No one makes any kind of decision without asking him first!"
"I assure you, there has been no mistake. My associate was contacted to quietly conduct an investigation, and he was quite thorough. He is not the sort to make any kind of declaration without first checking, and then rechecking to make sure his findings are absolutely correct, and he has a whole slew of people at his disposal to get any information which he might require. I fear this is only the beginning."
"How bad is it?" asked Harry chewing on his bottom lip.
"Right now it is bad enough. Evidence has surfaced that Dumbledore has repeatedly used memory charms and even obliviated several highly placed ministry officials on numerous occasions to ensure outcomes he desired. He has manipulated everything from laws being passed to the outcome of several trials and their sentencing. My associate found enough information to have Dumbledore brought in and detained, without hope of talking himself out of the current charges, while other allegations are being investigated."
"Why would he use memory charms on someone? I mean, he and I didn't exactly see eye to eye last year, but surely he hasn't done anything as bad as what you say…"
Harry was at a loss. He had thought of the headmaster as a grandfather figure. He simply couldn't imagine that the man could do so wrong.
"Harry, the man has sent innocent people to prison, to their death even, simply to keep them from interrupting his plans. He has obliviated people who caught on to what he was doing. There is evidence that he has bound some magical powers in people, simply because he was afraid of being a lesser wizard than they. As I have said, and I'm sure you overheard, there is much still to be looked at. We have only touched the surface of what is sure to be a huge pile of manipulations and lies."
Harry nodded his head, lost in thought once again.
"Who did he send to prison?" he asked.
Liquid fire. Avada kedavra brought to life. That was the power in Harry's eyes.
"WHO? Did. Dumbledore SEND to prison! That was innocent?" asked Harry, an edge to his voice that Snape had never heard.
"Your Godfather, Harry. He was innocent, and Dumbledore knew it. That alone is enough to have him sent to Azkaban for the rest of his natural life."
Tears silently fell down Harrys cheeks. Sirius. The only family Harry had had left, who had died on the run as a fugitive, had finally been declared innocent, mere months too late, and all along, Dumbledore had KNOWN.
Harry couldn't even form coherent words to ask how Dumbledore had supposedly known of Sirius' innocence.
"The Fidelus Charm. Dumbledore was the only one strong enough to cast it. I don't know why no one thought to question it before. When Sirius switched places with Pettigrew, Albus would had to have redone the charm. He would have KNOWN that Sirius didn't kill your parents."
"But then there was still the question of Pettigrew and all those muggles he killed. Why did no one realize that Sirius didn't do that either?"
"Again, Dumbledore. Your father and Sirius weren't just Aurors. They were the best of the best. They were trained in things no other Auror knew. They went places the Ministry wouldn't dare send anyone else. Dumbledore reasoned that through their training Sirius had developed immense skills in occulmency and an immunity to Veritaserum. Therefore it was the word of 'witnesses', versus the word of an innocent man consumed with grief, and delusional from all of the spells he was attacked with in that street."
"But…in my third year, in the Shrieking Shack. You SAW Pettigrew. Why didn't you SAY anything? If you KNEW he was dead, why didn't you ask how he was standing there?"
Snape looked agape.
"I have no idea what you are talking about Harry. Pettigrew wasn't in the Shack. You and your friends attacked me when I tried to apprehend Black under the impression that he was guilty. Remus and you carried me, while Granger and Black assisted Weasley."
"No, Professor. Hermione took your wand so we could explain. So we could show you. Remus and Sirius confronted Pettigrew. They were going to kill him, but I made them wait. We were taking him back to Hogwarts to turn him over to Fudge and the Dementors. Sirius and I helped Ron and you and Remus escorted Wormtail. He got away because Remus forgot to take his Wolfsbane. Don't you remember?" asked Harry.
"No," said Snape looking perplexed, "I don't."
Harry closed his eyes remembering back to that night. He let out a bitter laugh.
"I bet Remus doesn't either. I always figured he didn't speak out because of his condition, but thinking on it, he would never let that stand in the way of helping a friend. In the hospital wing, just before Sirius was to be kissed, Dumbledore came in and Hermione and I rushed him. We tried to get him to let us speak to the minister. He said the word of three thirteen-year-old wizards would convince few others. That a child's voice, however honest and true, was meaningless to those who had forgotten how to listen. We were so caught up in trying to save Sirius from being kissed, that at the time, I didn't think to ask about you and Remus," Harry frowned. "Why Sirius though? What did he do to deserve that kind of life?"
"I do not know Harry. We were never close, any of us. I do know that should anything happen to your parents, you were to go to Sirius to be raised. Perhaps it has something to do with that?"
Harry just shook his head.
"May I be excused? I don't feel so well."
Snape just nodded his head, a feeling of overwhelming grief settling in his office at the thought of how badly the adults in Harry's life had failed him.
The next day found Severus and Lucius pouring over mountains of paperwork in an effort to find any clues as to why Dumbledore had handled Harry so.
"What of the Potter's wills Lucius?" asked Severus.
"What of them?" asked Lucius cocking an eyebrow.
"Who filed them with the Ministry? It seems as though they were never read. I know for a fact that Lily would NEVER let a child be placed with Petunia, let alone her oaf of a husband."
"I have found no record of the wills being filed. We're they not requested from Gringotts to be read?"
"I would assume not. Have you been in contact with the Goblins?"
"I have, actually. They refused comment without permission from Harry's legal guardian, which appears to be those muggles."
"Yes, just the kind of people to tell goblins exist. Can we get him emancipated? I'm sure we could convince the muggles to sign him over to someone, after all, from what Harry says he has been considered a burden the entire 13 years he has been there."
"I am sure I can have my solicitor look into it. What else have you found of any use?"
"Nothing, I'm afraid. I have been requested at the Ministry to be seen by a mind healer, and I fear that a statement will need to be released regarding Harrys well-being before I can safely be seen in public."
At this Lucius frowned.
"Yes, I can see your reasoning. What shall it say? At this point it does look suspiciously like kidnapping on your part."
"Harry is here of his own free will and he understands that he may leave at any time he wishes."
"I shall schedule a meeting with my solicitor. I feel the need to recommend you acquiring one as well. Things are bound to get terribly messy from here on out, and I don't see this situation resolving itself for quite some time."
"I have neither the funds nor the resources to acquire a solicitor in the caliber I would need. The good ones cater to pure blooded families only, and require a sum of $100,000 galleons as a retainer. I am sure you can see the problem."
"The problem, Severus, is that you are stubborn to a fault. Your Uncle has died, a bachelor no less, and you are the last remaining member of the Prince line. The Ministry would rather see the entire fortune seized and placed under their control, however, I am sure the goblins could be persuaded to release the estate to you as the last surviving member, and an upstanding and important member of society."
"Upstanding," Severus snorted.
"Money does wonders for one's reputation," provided Lucius.
"Yes, you would know my slippery friend," laughed Severus.
The next day Severus received a floo call from the offices of O-Meara, Abney, & Woods, the premiere solicitor service of Wizarding London. Apparently, Lucius had pulled some strings and managed to get Severus seen without an upfront retainer.
Stepping thru the floo in his finest dress robes, Severus took in the deep mahogany wood of the office.
"Potions Master Snape, Mr. Woods is waiting on you in his office," said a pretty blonde secretary.
Snape simply nodded and approached the door she had been pointing too. One knock and he entered.
"Master Snape, Darren Woods, at your service," said the man from behind the desk.
He looked young, in his late 20's, with shaggy brown hair, and stunning blue eyes. Seeing the doubt in Severus face, he smiled.
"Don't let my age fool you Sir. My father was one of the best, Merlin rest his soul, and he taught me everything he knew before he died. We here at O-Meara, Abney, & Woods take pride in our personal approach with our clients, and we never handle more than four clients each at a time. It is fortunate that Lord Malfoy informed us some time ago that you would be in need of our services. I imagine an entrepreneur such as yourself stays quite busy and I am glad to inform you that as part of our retainer, we are able to offer ourselves at no additional charge day or night for whatever you may need, be it legal documents regarding your potions experiments, or inquiries into potential business partners."
Snape looked him up and down. The child was a smooth talker for sure, and seemed to know exactly what he was looking for in a solicitor, for most of his needs would be of a business nature.
"Yes," sneered Snape. "I am quite sure then, that Lord Malfoy has informed you of the recent troubles with Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter and how they have adversely affected me."
"Indeed. Lord Malfoy let it be known that, fearing for Mr. Potter's safety, you retrieved him from his relatives' home, whom he mentioned were possibly abusing the child, and took him to your cottage in the south country. He also advised that you would be petitioning the other party for temporary custody of Mr. Potter, and as such I have drawn up the appropriate paperwork and filed it with the Ministry. All that is needed now is their signatures which Lord Malfoy assured me you could get without trouble."
Severus Snape was loathe to admit that he was highly impressed.
"I take it you were in Slytherin, then?" he couldn't help but ask.
"Ravenclaw, actually. But I do come from a long line of Slytherins, so it is often easy for others to make that assumption," the man smiled.
"No wonder I don't remember you," he conceded.
"I also took the liberty of requesting information on the Prince inheritance from the Ministry and have a team of experts reviewing the wills and addendums of the last Lord and Lady Prince to make sure there aren't any facts or requests that have been overlooked. Here is your paperwork for now. Is there anything else that you will be requiring today?"
"No, this shall suffice for now. Once the paperwork is signed, how long will it take to be approved? I do have business at the ministry to attend to and I do not wish to be held up due to false allegations."
"Once the paperwork is received in my office I will personally floo to the Department for Children's Welfare. Lady Greengrass is quite disturbed by young Potter's case and is awaiting the paperwork so that she may sign it and file it immediately. She has assured me that Madam Bones has been notified and will also be awaiting the paperwork so that she make place her seal on it as soon as it is presented to her. I assure you Sir, you will find no better firm to entrust your legal needs. We have not lost a case since we opened in 1584, and I have no intention of smearing my father's great name by not being as efficient as possible."
"Very well," nodded Snape. "I expect to return within the hour."
"Of course. I will notify my secretary to admit you upon arrival. Good day to you."
With that the two gentlemen shook hands and Snape took his leave. Sometimes, he thought, it paid to have high friends in high places.