Chapter 12: Dragons and Wooden Huts
Disclaimer: I do not in any way, shape or form own Harry Potter. It all belongs to JK Rowling.
Dragons and Wooden Huts
'Philosopher's Stone?' Mandy said, frowning a little. 'I can see the appeal for You-Know-Who but…?'
'It is out of style for him, isn't it?' Daphne finished. 'The Dark Lord likes to let people know when something is his handy work. Sneaking around doesn't fit him.'
'Death Eater?' Crabbe grunted.
'What's a Death eater?' Mandy asked.
'The Dark Lord's followers,' said Goyle.
Mandy looked thoughtful. 'You think it might be a Death Eater trying to bring their Master back?' she said. 'But who?'
'Quirrell,' said Harry. 'It has to be.'
'What makes you say that?' Mandy asked. 'He's been nothing but nice.'
'Listen carefully to his stutter,' was all Harry would say.
The next class the Ravenclaws had with Quirrell, Mandy listened very carefully to the way Quirrell spoke. What she found had her running to Harry.
'His stutter is fake!' she cried.
Harry smirked at his friends and rocked his chair back on two legs. 'I know,' he said smugly. 'Father and I have known for a while now.'
'You've been keeping an eye on him,' Daphne said slowly, realisation dawning on her.
Harry nodded. 'Not only has he been trying to steal the Stone, but he's been trying to kill me as well.'
'But why?' Mandy asked.
'In one fell swoop he would have gained his Master an immortal life and rid the world of the Boy-Who-Lived,' Harry explained. 'He would be top of the board with his Master.'
'It's a good thing you're too stubborn to die then, isn't it?' said Mandy cheerfully.
Harry looked at her blankly but his eyes glittered strangely. To Mandy, that look told her Harry was amused by what she had said.
'That's a horrible thing to say, Mandy,' Daphne scolded.
'It's true, though,' Mandy said, shrugging.
Daphne thought for a moment before conceding. 'Yeah,' she agreed. 'It is.'
'We need to get Harry away from Severus,' McGonagall told Dumbledore
The two of them had been observing the two Snapes for the last week and were disgusted how alike they were.
'How do we separate them, though?' Dumbledore pondered.
McGonagall sniffed haughtily. 'Severus was a known Death Eater,' she reminded Dumbledore.
Dumbledore waved that off though. 'Yes, but I had the Ministry pardon him. I have plans for him in the coming years.'
McGonagall huffed impatiently. 'That doesn't make him a safe guardian for the Boy-Who-Lived though, does it?' she said slyly.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled in understanding. 'Minerva, I have an urgent need to visit Minister Fudge,' he said. 'It is rather important.'
'I'll keep the school running smoothly in your absence,' McGonagall replied.
Dumbledore stood then and made his way to the ornate fireplace on the far side of the office. The elderly wizard took a pinch of Floo powder and tossed it into the fire.
'Minister Fudge's office!' he cried.
Stepping into the green flames, Dumbledore was whipped away in an emerald whirl.
He stepped gracefully out of the fireplace and turned to face the Minister.
'Cornelius!' he said. 'Dear boy, so good to see you.'
Cornelius Fudge stood up. 'What do you want, Dumbledore?' he asked suspiciously.
Dumbledore's smile fell and he looked as solemn as possible. 'It's about Harry Potter, Cornelius,' he said.
'I thought it was Harry Snape now?' Fudge said warily.
'That's the problem,' said Dumbledore. The two men sat down on either side of the desk. 'Snape is a Death eater.'
'I thought you said he was a spy for you?' said Fudge.
'He was spying for me,' Dumbledore agreed. 'But he's a Slytherin. He could well have been spying on me for Voldemort.'
Fudge flinched at the use of the Dark Lord's name. 'Why did you vouch for him then?' he asked.
Dumbledore sighed heavily. 'I thought that if I trusted and believed in him, Severus would remain Light.'
Fudge rather doubted Dumbledore was telling the whole truth.
'He is the boy's biological father,' Fudge said.
Dumbledore's eyes sparked angrily. 'I don't care! I want that boy back with his aunt and uncle!'
Fudge rose to his feet. 'I cannot do that, Dumbledore,' he said. 'Severus has legal custody of his son. Now, please leave before I call the Aurors.'
Dumbledore stormed out of the office, slamming the door shut behind him. 'Hang on,' he said to himself. 'I'm the Head of the Wizengamot.'
With his new idea in mind, he went straight to the Head of the Department of Law Enforcement – Amelia Bones.
'Dumbledore,' Madam Bones said. 'What can I do for you?'
'I'm afraid I have a request,' Dumbledore said, smiling rather sadly. 'It's Harry Potter. As an ex-Death Eater, I feel Severus Snape is not a suitable caregiver for the Boy-Who-Lived.'
Madam Bones raised her eyebrows. 'You want him back with his Muggle relatives?' she queried.
'They could care for him so much better,' Dumbledore urged.
'Very well,' madam Bones said briskly. 'I shall arrange a hearing to determine whether Mr Potter should live with Severus Snape or his aunt and uncle.'
Dumbledore looked very pleased as he rose to his feet. 'Thank you, Madam Bones. That's a load off my mind.'
'Yes yes.' Madam Bones waved a dismissive hand, causing Dumbledore to frown. Nobody had ever dismissed him!
'Thank you again,' Dumbledore said pleasantly.
He went down to the Ministry atrium and Flooed back to Hogwarts to tell McGonagall the good news.
The following morning, an owl delivered an official-looking letter to Severus.
Dear Mr Snape,
It has recently come to the Ministry's attention that you, a Death Eater, are the guardian of Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived. Because of your Death Eater status, we would like you to come for a hearing on 2nd May so we can examine the possibility of you remaining as Mr Potter's guardian.
So you can be prepared, if you lose custody Mr Potter will be returned to his aunt and uncle's care.
Head of the Department of Law Enforcement
Severus gaped at the letter incredulously. Were the Ministry unaware that Harry was his biological son or were they ignoring that altogether? Looking at Dumbledore and McGonagall out of the corner of his eye, Severus knew who had planted the idea. He was just surprised the Minister himself wasn't in on it.
Severus looked down at Harry. 'Yes, son?' he replied.
'You look troubled,' Harry said monotonously. 'Is something bothering you?'
Severus considered lying to his son but decided again it. Harry always seemed to know when someone was lying.
'Read this,' Severus said, passing the letter to his son.
Harry and Daphne read the note together. Harry's eyes were burning with anger as he looked up and locked eyes with a smug headmaster.
'You will not win, Dumbledore,' Harry hissed furiously. 'You will not keep my father and I apart!'
McGonagall's jaw was set and Dumbledore's had dropped open as Harry stormed from the Great Hall.
'What is the meaning of this?' Fudge roared.
Amelia Bones looked up as the Minister for Magic stormed into her office.
'The meaning of what?' she asked coolly.
'This!' Fudge waved a piece of parchment. It was information regarding the Snape hearing.
'Oh, that,' Amelia said carelessly. 'I agree with Dumbledore; Harry Potter should not be allowed to reside with a Death Eater.'
Fudge looked furious. 'Severus Snape is the boy's biological father!' he shouted. 'There is nothing you can do to change that!'
Amelia shrugged. 'Paternity test,' she said. 'I feel substantial proof is needed.'
Fudge's eyes bugged. 'Are you mad, woman?' he said, aghast. 'The boy's his spitting image. There's no possible way they aren't related.'
Amelia shrugged again. 'Well, it's done now,' she said. 'There's nothing you can do.'
Fudge was furious and everyone in the building knew it.
'They won't win,' Harry said vehemently. 'I won't let them.' He looked up at Severus, glad they were alone. 'Dad, you won't make me go back, will you?'
It was a rare moment of vulnerability for the young Slytherin and Severus's heart ached for him.
'Of course not, son,' Severus said, putting an arm around the boy and pulling him close.
They headed towards the grounds for a walk. They were silent for a while.
'Harry, I'm going to need to know how the Dursleys treated you,' Severus eventually said, speaking in an uncharacteristically gentle tone.
Harry stayed silent.
'Just tell me anything, Harry,' Severus said. 'Whenever you're ready.'
Harry was still silent, then –
'They called me 'Freak,' he said quietly. 'Or 'boy'. I didn't know my actual name until I was five – when I started school.'
'You had no sense of identity?' Severus queried.
Harry shook his head. 'No,' he said.
They were quiet again; Severus giving Harry time to gather his thoughts.
'I lived in the cupboard under the stairs until I was seven,' Harry continued. 'That was when they realised I no longer fit in there.'
'A cupboard?' Severus repeated. 'That's outrageous!'
Harry didn't respond. 'They used to lock me in there for days on end,' he continued. 'They never fed me at those times either. The longest I was ever in there was a week. They did it to weaken me so I couldn't fight back.'
'Fight back?' Severus sounded alarmed.
Harry nodded. 'When Uncle Vernon punished me,' he said.
Severus' eyes narrowed. 'And what form did these punishments take?' he asked frostily.
Harry never answered. He suddenly gasped and pointed toward the gamekeeper's hut; it was ablaze with thick grey smoke pouring out of every crevice. Alarmed, Harry and Severus started running.
'Conjure a jet of water!' Severus shouted to his son. 'The incantation is Aguamenti!'
Harry did as requested as people emerged from the hut, coughing and spluttering. People had noticed in the castle as well and were running to help.
'There, Harry!' Severus shouted over the roar of the flames, pointing to where the flames were flickering out of a window.
Harry moved to douse it as Sprout and Flitwick arrived. Pointing their wands, the two teachers joined in the fire fighting.
To one side, Hagrid, Granger and Weasley were still coughing. Longbottom appeared with Finnigan and Thomas.
'Aguamenti, Longbottom!' Harry shouted.
Longbottom and his friends joined in, moving to help Sprout and Flitwick. Daphne and Mandy came running.
'Stay back!' Harry bellowed. 'Crabbe, Goyle, keep them away!'
'Yes, boss!' the two goons shouted back.
The flames were diminishing now. A couple of older students performed the charm with ease, diminishing the flames further.
McGonagall and Dumbledore arrived as the last flame went out. The fire fighters dropped onto their backs in exhaustion. Daphne and Mandy immediately knelt by Harry, checking him for injuries.
'Would all those who were in close proximity to the smoke please make their way to the Hospital Wing?' Dumbledore requested. 'I would like you all checked by Madam Pomfrey.'
Everyone grumbled but staggered to their feet anyway and haltingly made their way to the castle. Dumbledore watched Harry go; he was deep in thought.
Dear Minister Fudge,
I thought you would like to know that this afternoon the gamekeeper's cabin was lit with flames due to his owning a dragon.
Harry Snape née Potter
Everyone looked up as Fudge stormed into the Great hall. Two Aurors followed him in, both looking incredibly nervous.
'Good evening, Cornelius,' Dumbledore said pleasantly. 'What brings you to Hogwarts?'
'Your gamekeeper's dragon, that's what!' Fudge snarled.
The students gasped and started whispering among themselves. Dumbledore shot Harry an annoyed look, sure he was the one to have informed the Minister. Harry stared back impassively.
'Yes,' Dumbledore said. 'That has been dealt with. Hagrid has been suspended for two weeks and the two students have two weeks of detention with myself.'
'Owning a dragon is a criminal offence!' Fudge said through gritted teeth. 'He will go to Azkaban for this.'
'Dumbledore looked panicked for a moment. 'Hagrid is simple,' he said reassuringly, glad the giant man was still in the Hospital Wing. 'I'm sure he was unaware dragons are illegal in Britain.'
Fudge looked wrong-footed. 'Well,' he blustered. 'It's going on his record! Next time – Azkaban!'
Dumbledore nodded as Fudge turned heel and left. The elderly wizard looked furious.
A/N: I tried my hand at action again (think back to the troll and how disastrous that chapter was) and I think I did better this time. Let me know what you think cos if you think it sucks still I'll have to try harder when it comes to them going through the trapdoor. I'm already dreading that chapter!
My many thanks to iGymnast for betaing this for me.