Chapter 25: Consequences
Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.
Chapter 25: Consequences.
Saturday 29th June, 1996.
The headmaster's unexpected arrival caused all conversation to stop, and while most of the group stared in shock at Albus' cheerful greeting, one of the members took issue with it.
"Don't you mean 'good morning' instead, Professor Dumbledore?"
Albus chuckled at the question before replying. "Yes, I suppose it is after midnight, isn't it? Thank you for pointing out my error, Miss Lovegood. I hope you have been well? This is a lovely place you've found."
"Yes, I've been quite well until this evening when I started getting very worried about my friends. Why did you summon my wand? I think that was quite rude of you to take it without asking."
Dumbledore nodded in agreement with the girl's question. "You are right, it was quite rude of me, but I thought it best not to risk being cursed before we could talk."
"And you thought I would curse you, Professor?"
"I think, Miss Lovegood, that under the right circumstances that you are capable of whatever you put your mind to. You were duelling Death Eaters only a couple of weeks ago, were you not? That isn't something that many students can claim to have done."
"Non sequitur. Your facts are uncoordinated, Professor. Unless you are suggesting that you are either a Death Eater, or worried that I might defeat you in a duel."
Albus chuckled again and shook his head.
"Then you won't mind returning my wand to me then, will you?" she asked, extending her hand.
Albus continued smiling and shook his head again. "Perhaps a little later, my dear."
By this time Moody had lost what little patience he'd had. "Alright, cut the shite, Albus. Where are Potter and the others?"
Albus gave his old friend an offended look. "Do you now trust me so little that you feel the need to demand their whereabouts before even greeting me, Alastor?"
"Hah! Says the man who summoned my bloody wand without so much as a 'hello'. The Albus Dumbledore who was my friend would not have done that, so you can climb down from your high horse right now! I'll ask you again; where are Potter and the others?"
Emma decided to interrupt the growing argument. "Excuse me! But I think this discussion would be a little easier if we all sat down and talked this out like civilised adults over a cup of tea! I'll be back in a minute. Do try not to kill each other until I get back."
Albus smiled. "An excellent suggestion, dear lady. Two sugars if you please. I've developed something of a sweet tooth as I've gained years, I'm afraid."
Emma nodded and turned to Alastor. "Behave yourself!" she ordered the man, who merely huffed in annoyance at her.
She then turned to Albus. "And that goes for you too!" she warned him, giving him a stern glare as though disciplining an unruly child.
Albus gave her an almost patronising nod, yet was grateful to the woman for trying to tone down the tension. Looking for a neutral topic to break the silence while waiting for the tea, he turned to Xenophilius Lovegood. "And how goes the search for the elusive Snorkack? Might we be seeing some news in the Quibbler soon?"
"Ah! Yes, yes, I'm glad you asked. I think we may be on to something here, the tracks we've found could– Oh, I almost forgot to ask! You haven't drunk any chamomile tea lately have you?"
Not long afterwards, Albus was extremely relieved to see Emma bringing out a serving tray with a number of teacups sitting on their saucers. She distributed them to the others, and then brought the last to him, approaching slowly. He assumed she was trying not to alarm him, and did his best to look wary so as not to make her feel foolish. He took the offered cup and saucer with a smile and a nod of thanks to her.
"Is it sweet enough?" she asked, prompting Albus to take a sip of tea to check.
Unfortunately for Albus, the rather solid serving tray colliding with his head sent him into unconsciousness before he could respond or enjoy the tea.
Not content with her assault, Emma quickly took the man's wand from his loosening fingers and threw it as far as she could behind her. Then she reached for the other wands he'd summoned and pocketed earlier, and threw those in the direction of the others. She then backed away carefully, tray at the ready in case he regained consciousness.
Alastor gave the woman a shocked look, before he started laughing loudly as he headed to retrieve his wand. Remus followed him to collect his own wand, and tried to work out his feelings. There was something amusing about the greatest wizard of the age being brought down so readily by a Muggle woman and her tea tray, but equally it was extremely sad and worrying as well.
Once Emma saw that Alastor had taken his wand and was now focussed on the headmaster, she let go of the tray she'd been gripping tightly like the weapon it had been. She winced at the loud sound it made as it landed on a small stone, and she began to wonder whether she'd done the right thing. Had she really attacked that old man a minute ago?
Her husband's arms wrapped around her and gave her a reassuring hug. She started to relax into his embrace as she focussed on what was important. Her family was safe again. Everything else could be sorted out later.
While Emma was receiving some much needed reassurance, Remus and Alastor had started arguing again.
"Alastor, I understand why you want to question him, but I don't think we should try reviving Albus now. He took quite a blow, and I think he should sleep it off naturally. His breathing and heartbeat are fine, but that's quite a lump he's got on his head. I don't want to mess with it, and I don't think you should either. I suggest we levitate him into a bed and restrain him."
"How do you suppose we do that, Remus? He knows wandless magic in case you've forgotten."
"Tape his fingers and thumbs, and tie his hands to the bedframe. Tie him to the bed, lock the door, throw up an imperturbable on the room, and place a caterwauling charm on the door and window. If he does somehow manage to get out of all that, then at least we'll hear about it."
Moody grunted his agreement, and started levitating Albus towards the room Minerva and Tonks had been using. Once they'd bound him as they'd agreed, Remus asked the question he'd been wondering about since Albus had first shown up.
"Alastor, are you able to use Legilimency to learn how Albus found out about us?"
"Somehow I doubt it, but there's no harm in trying I suppose," he replied. After casting the spell, he held it for a couple of minutes before pointing his wand down, and shook his head. "Even asleep, his subconscious mind must be maintaining his Occlumency barriers."
"Is that even possible?"
"I wouldn't have thought so, but he's doing it anyway. You learn to expect the unexpected when dealing with him."
"Well, can you at least obliviate him of the knowledge of where we are?"
Alastor grinned. "Now that I can do!"
Tonks woke the next morning with a headache and a sore chest. It didn't take her long to recall the events of the previous evening and while she wanted to take a few minutes to kick herself in the arse, she needed a sitrep more. Opening her eyelids slightly, she tried to determine where she was and whether there were any potential hostiles nearby.
Her initial scan showed her to be in the Hogwarts hospital wing and with nobody else around. Taking a chance, she opened her eyes further and found she'd been mistaken. There was someone else in the room. She looked fondly over at Harry, who it seemed had ignored the many empty beds in order to sleep in a chair, with his head on his folded arms at the side of her bed. She gave the hand holding hers a squeeze, and called his name softly.
He woke with a start, looking around the room before focussing on her with concern. "Tonks, are you alright?"
"Yeah, Harry. I'm a bit sore, but otherwise I'm okay. How are you?"
"I'm fine," Harry replied.
"Hmm, you don't sound it, but we'll talk about that later. Where's Minerva?"
"I'm here, Dora," Minerva said, hurrying into the room. "My ward just alerted me that you'd woken. How do you feel?"
"Like a Hippogriff kicked me in the head and chest. Who do I have to snog to get a potion for it?" she asked, looking pointedly at Harry, who blushed.
"You just have to ask, Tonks," he muttered, as he got up and stretched noisily before heading for the medicine cabinet. As he walked off, the two women shared a silent conversation consisting of various head movements and facial gestures in his direction.
After Tonks had finished the potion provided and started feeling better, Minerva got down to business. "If you're feeling fit enough to travel, we need to get out of the castle and work out what we're going to do now."
As she spoke, Harry took Fawkes out of the bowl he'd been sleeping in, and was cradling him in his hands.
"Oh shite." Tonks exclaimed, her eyes widening at the realisation that their ride home wasn't old enough to take them anywhere.
"Quite," Minerva agreed. "Without Fawkes, we'll need to find another way back to wherever it is our friends are."
"You mean Sweden?" Tonks asked.
Minerva's eyes widened for a moment. "Sweden is it? And just how would you know that since we all had our memories modified before we came here?"
"Oh, bloody hell! It was Dumbledore!" Harry exclaimed. "I woke up last night to find him standing by your bed. He must have reversed the obliviation while you were asleep. He probably knows where we've been staying now. I should have stayed awake."
"And I shouldn't have started the fight with Snape. Don't worry about it now, Harry, we'll sort it all out later. For now, let's get you both remembering our camp, and then get the hell out of this castle."
A couple of minutes later, Harry led the way to the one-eyed witch statue and the secret passage to Hogsmeade.
"So how are we going to get back to Näshultasjön?" Tonks asked.
Harry didn't waste any time in replying. "Once we're far enough down the passage to be past the Hogwarts wards, we can Portkey to Diagon Alley and visit Gringotts. Hopefully we'll be able to convince Ragnok to let us leave through the door at Västerlånggatan. If not, we'll just have to visit the travel agency for an international Portkey. Prof– Minerva can make us a Portkey once we're back in Sweden, right?"
"Why not just make an international Portkey from here? We've already got our visas and checked in with their ministry, and you've seen where we need to go, Minerva?" Tonks asked.
Minerva appeared a little embarrassed. "I'm afraid I am unable to do that. In addition to the other reasons I gave that night at the Lovegoods' house, there is another requirement for making an international Portkey. One needs a certain level of raw magic, and since being hit by those stunners at the end of last term, mine has yet to fully recover."
"No worries, Gringotts it is then." Tonks said, giving Minerva's back a reassuring rub."
Emma hadn't had a very good night at all, and had eventually given up trying to sleep. She was now sitting in the living room of the tent they shared. From time to time she'd looked at the door to the bedroom that Dumbledore was sleeping in, and had found herself listening at it a couple of times as well. She'd just settled back on the couch after one of those inspections, when she heard Moody's voice.
"I think we need to talk."
She turned to the voice and watched as he took a seat in one of the chairs. He looked at her with concern for a few seconds before he began speaking.
"I've known Albus Dumbledore for more years than you've probably been alive. So I want you to listen to me carefully. You did the right thing, and you did it for the right reasons. Albus would tell you exactly the same thing if the positions were reversed and it was me that you'd hit me with your tray. There's also a damn good chance that he'd agree with me even though he was the one being hit."
"But I hit that poor old man, and–"
"Stop right there. That 'poor old man' as you call him is probably the most powerful wizard alive, and is generally considered to be the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. He disarmed us all, and held us at wand point, while our friends were overdue after last heading to his school. Make no mistake, he put himself in the role of an enemy, whether he actually is one or not. You know that I'm right, because you made that same judgement yourself last night, and then took action to protect your daughter, your husband, yourself and your friends."
"I am afraid I must agree with Alastor."
Both turned to face the voice and saw Dumbledore standing in the bedroom doorway, showing none of the bindings he'd been placed in the night before. He raised his hands to show that they were empty. "I regret putting you in that position, Mrs Granger, and I bear you no ill will."
He walked slowly towards one of the other chairs, and sat down with some relief. He touched his fingers to the lump on his head, wincing slightly as he did so. Seeing the look on Emma's face he smiled slightly. "A small price to pay for failing to remember that actions have consequences, and also for forgetting that mothers can be the most dangerous creatures in the world. I am grateful to still be alive."
"Alright, Albus. Are you going to tell us now why the others didn't return last night when they planned to?" Moody asked impatiently.
"There was a conflict with Severus, and Nymphadora was injured enough that she required an overnight stay in the hospital wing. I would be surprised if they aren't heading back here–" Albus paused, as though realising something. "Hmm, it seems I have forgotten where 'here' is," Albus said, peering at Moody over his half-moon glasses.
"Why would Tonks need to stay overnight when Fawkes was with them?" Moody asked, ignoring the accusing look as irrelevant.
"Ah, yes. Well, I'm sorry to say that Fawkes went through an unexpected regeneration last night. He won't be able to provide any tears for about a week I'm afraid."
This news did not please Moody one bit. "Damn you, and your foolish bloody plans! You know full well that phoenix was the most important protection Potter had! Now he's vulnerable again, and it's entirely your fault!"
"I assure you, Alastor, Fawkes' regeneration was none of my doing," Albus protested.
"What a load of bollocks! 'Scuse me, Emma."
The raised voices brought the other two occupants of the tent out of the bedrooms. Dan moved to sit beside Emma, and appeared ready to charge at the old man if needed, while Remus took up station behind the couch they were sitting on, his wand pointed directly at Dumbledore.
Alastor stared angrily at the old man he'd thought of as a friend for several decades, considering what needed to be done.
"Did you get around to swearing any vows or oaths to Minerva before the interruptions occurred last night?"
Albus shook his head. "Unfortunately we didn't get around to discussing that."
"A coincidence I'm sure, right? And of course you had intended to provide those vows that Minerva wanted?"
"I'm sure we could have come to some agreement that would have satisfied her," Dumbledore replied.
"I see. Then you'll have no problem agreeing to an unbreakable vow with me now then, will you? Remus can be our bonder."
"An unbreakable vow is–"
"Absolutely necessary! At this point in time Albus, I don't think there are any Death Eaters that have done more to help Voldemort than you have. Every single thing you've done lately has been wrong, and I wouldn't trust you to brew a cup of tea properly!" Moody said, interrupting him. Albus could only stare in shock at his statement.
"I'm deadly serious, Albus. I'm sure in your own mind you've been doing nothing but trying to save the Wizarding world. But in practice, you've been weakening it. You're the headmaster of Hogwarts, but instead of turning out Auror and healer candidates, you're turning out Death Eaters. You're also the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, yet Death Eaters can pay their bribes to an incompetent minister and go free, while innocents like Black are thrown into Azkaban without a trial. Aren't you supposed to be the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards? Where is the help and support of the other nations then?"
"Those titles do not come with either omniscience or omnipotence, Alastor. I do not have veto powers to change things I believe should be changed. As for the international, I am required to represent the Ministry, not my own beliefs."
"I might be willing to accept your impotence regarding the Wizengamot and the international, but what about Hogwarts? Do you or don't you have control over your school?"
"The Board of Governors–"
"Are irrelevant if you're doing your job properly!" Moody said, interrupting the man's excuses again.
"Face it, Albus, either your age or the pressure you're under has affected your judgement, and your actions are affecting all of us, and not in a good way."
Dumbledore appeared to consider this. "Severus said much the same thing last night. Do you truly believe this, Alastor?"
"Albus, tell me; does it make any sense to hide the most desired magical object in the world inside a school full of children? To hide a Cerberus behind a door that a simple Alohomora can open? It's a miracle half the school didn't die.
"What about the chamber of secrets? The Grangers' daughter worked out a basilisk was involved, so why didn't you? For that matter, why didn't you send the students home when kids started getting petrified? Well?"
"I'm sorry, Alastor. I doubt any reasons I gave you would satisfy you. I assure you that the students were safe in my care."
"Like the Diggory boy was?"
Albus looked down for a moment, before looking back at Alastor. "No, Alastor, not like Cedric Diggory. His death was a tragedy, but he was Portkeyed away from Hogwarts and outside of my control."
"Yes, he was, in a tournament that should never have been run again. That was another one of your errors in judgement, wasn't it?"
Albus considered his words for a moment before answering the implied accusation. "Tell me, Alastor, what is it that you, Minerva, Remus and Nymphadora are doing here with Harry and his friends. Training him perhaps? I think training him to be better able to face his destiny is an excellent idea."
"Then why haven't you started training him yourself then?"
The headmaster's eyes started to twinkle, and Moody suddenly saw the verbal trap swing closed. "Are you so sure I haven't been? I wonder; does he seem to be more advanced than other students his age? Able to cast spells beyond his year level, like a Patronus, for example? How about his ability to teach defence to students – even Ravenclaw students in higher year levels than his own?"
"Enough!" Remus yelled, losing his patience. The day before a full moon was hard enough to manage at the best of times. "This isn't getting us anywhere. Moody, I'm sorry, but you will never win an argument against Albus. If you even start getting close he'll simply bring out his 'Greater Good' excuse, so it's a waste of time.
"Albus, you can sit there as self-righteous as you like, as confident in your plans and decisions as you like, but answer me this. If you are so right and just, why has your phoenix judged you lacking and left you to bond with Harry?"
Albus turned his gaze on Remus in surprise, and a small frown appeared to form.
"Perhaps Fawkes has seen what we have – that your actions have strayed from the light. The Muggles have a couple of sayings, Headmaster, which I'm sure you must have heard before. The first is; 'the road to Hell is paved with good intentions', and the second is; 'power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely'."
Albus nodded. "I know of them. I even met Lord Acton once."
"Excuse me?" Remus asked, not understanding the reference.
"Your second quote. I believe Lord Acton actually said; 'power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.
"Albus, what…?" Remus asked, confused at why the man would be prattling on about inconsequential corrections.
"Of course, I was a lot younger at the time–"
"Albus! Now is hardly the time for a trip down memory lane. Either you're stalling, or you truly are losing your judgement!"
Albus looked around at the faces of the people in the tent. These were good people. Remus and Alastor were dedicated to the light, and one only needed to know Miss Granger, to know her parents were good people as well. He was truly saddened that he couldn't reach an accord with them.
"I'm sorry that my visit has caused such unhappiness. The reason I came here was only to reassure you that your friends were well, and should be returning this morning. Perhaps I ought to have made that clear at the beginning, instead of getting caught up in everyone's reactions to my appearance.
"But I thought I had the situation under control, and that I had time to enjoy your company. I was wrong. I caused you to worry, and this dear lady to fear for her family and friends. For that I must apologise again." He stood and slowly walked the short distance to Emma, taking her hand and patting it as he murmured another apology to her.
Straightening to his full height again, he addressed the group. "I think perhaps it would be best if I left you to your holiday plans. You are welcome to contact me if there is anything I can do to help. Please be safe. Goodbye."
As he said the last few words, he moved his hand slightly and his wand flew quickly into it just before he disapparated away.