Clashes of Power - Part I
Chapter 33 - Emancipated Minor - Clashes of Power - Part I
Harry summoned his invisibility cloak and ducked under it, circling around the students in front of him, so that he could see what awaited him. He'd caught a glimpse of Hermione pulling out her wand and the Lucius-made galleon as he crept away from his friends. Minister Thickeness was standing in the doorway of the school's broad entrance, flanked by eight aurors, none of whom Harry recognized. Un-bloody believable! he raged inwardly, completely engaged with the warm thrum of his wild magic. He was not going anywhere with this bastard and his corrupted abuse of power. The desire to apparate resurfaced, which deepened Harry's anger because he still didn't know if he could actually do it, and yet, here was another situation where he was facing another life threatening event where it could end up being the only option. Always alone, when it really comes down to it, he reminded himself. He'd be ready to flee if he needed to.
"Ah, Minister," Headmistress McGonagall greeted with a tone that told him exactly what she thought of him, "you've arrived just in time. How did you know we'd need an auror escort to remove four additional children of Death Eaters from the grounds, for their barbaric and violent behavior?"
"That is not why I'm here, Madam Headmistress," Thickeness answered in his syrupy, insincere cadence, blatantly ignoring her jab at his allegiance to Voldemort, and clearly unconcerned to hear there had been violence in the school. "I have come to remove Harry Potter from the grounds, as he is currently in an illegal state of non-custodial care. He has no legal guardian, and is therefore a ward of the Ministry-"
"Ah, that's where you are mistaken, Minister," McGonagall interrupted him. "Harry Potter has a legal guardian. He is attending this school under said guardian's care, until he reaches his Emancipation at the end of the month."
"That is not possible, Madam Headmistress," Thickeness responded in growing agitation.
"Actually, Minister, it's Deputy Headmistress, once again, or haven't you heard?" McGonagall told him. "Albus Dumbledore was reinstated as Headmaster by the Board of Governors and The Wizengamot just last evening."
"That is impossible," Thickeness spat angrily, no longer even attempting to sound like a charming politician, "I was not consulted, and the Ministry currently has the majority voice in such matters."
"Apparently not, Minister," McGonagall said, with a satisfied smirk. "You see, with the murder of Cornelius Fudge, came the acknowledgement that as Minister of Magic, he'd rewritten Wizarding Law to suit his own political interests. Between Cornelius, and Dolores Umbridge, Hogwarts became a place of institutionalized abuses on children that are intolerable. The Wizengamot has purged itself of Fudge's corrupted cohorts, and as a result, has officially reinstated the protections to Hogwarts that were stripped when he decided to deny Voldemort's existence. The Board of Governors, the Wizengamot, and the Headmaster of Hogwarts have voted your voice out of Hogwarts policy." She turned to the mob of students. "You are to adjourn to the Great Hall immediately," she said sternly, returning her watchful glare to the Minister while she swept her arm to shoo the students along.
Harry could tell from McGonagall's tone that she feared things were going to get violent. He guessed the time to be about nine o'clock at this point, just barely enough time for Dumbledore and Montegue Morris to have filed his transfer of guardianship, in the best case scenario.
And where were the rest of the galleon holders?
"Young ladies," Lucius called sternly as he briskly made his way down the fifth floor corridor toward Thora Breckin and Mabel Dawlish, "why are you not in your classes?" They are trying to access the Room of Requirement, he realized.
The smaller of the two, Miss Dawlish, squeaked with fear, and watched his approach as if she was watching her life flash before her eyes. The other girl had a far more haughty expression of annoyance, as if he was interfering, and she had no patience for it. His coin warmed and vibrated. He pulled it out as he walked, glancing down to see the message from Miss Granger.
The MOM is in the Entrance… with 8 aurors, asking for Harry… Harry's under his cloak… McGonagall is here, but… please come help…
Lucius messaged that he was on his way. He glared harshly at the two delinquent second years. "You will report to your classes immediately, or there will be consequences. Go. Now!" He glared after them for a few perilous moments as they departed, and then broke into a run in the other direction toward the nearest stairwell.
Remus read the message from Hermione and growled in anger. His seventh year Defense class looked at him curiously. The full moon was Thursday of this week, and the buildup was beginning. His temper was closer to the surface, and with all that had come to light with Harry, he was struggling with deep turmoil, both emotional and physical. Fortunately, the Head Boy was in this class, and he trusted Morgan Monroe enough to say, "Mr. Monroe, I must leave to attend a school matter. I am putting you in charge, and if I do not return before class ends, you are all to return to your common rooms and await further instruction."
"Professor Lupin?" Monroe asked. "Can we help?"
"It may be nothing, but if I do not return, assume that a school emergency is underway and you could help by getting your younger housemates safely into your common areas," Remus said, removing his robes as he spoke, and tossing them over his desk chair, leaving the room clothed in newer, well tailored trousers and jumper.
"Yes, Professor," the group said in unison.
"Lupin's a bad-arse," Morgan declared aloud after the door had clicked shut. The rest of the class readily agreed.
Severus stood with the detained Slytherins in McGonagall's office, still bleeding, still enraged, and wondering what in the bloody hell the hold-up was. He felt the coin, and read the message.
He flung his wand arm out angrily, flicking and swishing quickly, resulting in four chairs scraping along the floor to bang into the backs of the knees of the four restrained Slytherins, forcing them to plop heavily down onto sticking charms that prevented their escape. He silenced them all for good measure, and stuck the chairs to the floor as well. Next he floo-called Poppy and sent Zabini off to the hospital wing where the medi-witch was waiting to receive him.
Harry read the message from Lucius, just before Minister Thickeness announced, "I will not tolerate your interference in this Ministry matter, Madam. Point me, Harry Potter!"
Knowing he was about to be caught, Harry pulled off his cloak and stood near McGonagall, glaring at Pius Thickeness. There was a collective gasp of surprise from the students, who'd obediently vacated the entry, but now lingered in the passage leading to the Great Hall.
McGonagall drew her wand. "You idiot man! There are students in the vicinity! You will lower your wand, Minister! Potter is not a criminal!"
All eight aurors drew their wands now, openly at the ready to backup their Commander in Chief.
"That is still under consideration," Thickeness said with the pompous smirk of satisfaction that only an overinflated ego could enjoy. He leveled his glare at Harry as he continued to threaten McGonagall, "and you, Madam Headmistress, are in jeopardy of being physically restrained, and charged for criminally interfering with Ministry operations."
"That bloke has bloody lost it!" Harry heard Ron proclaim from the passageway.
A new message surfaced on the coin. It was from Dumbledore: Harry's guardianship is… officially in Severus' name… I'm on my way…
Smiling a brief, secret smile, Harry pocketed the coin and his wand, and took a step forward, now standing with his arms loosely at his sides, letting everyone see he was unarmed. "I am not going with you, Minister Thickeness. You are mistaken, I do have a legal guardian, as Deputy Headmistress McGonagall told you. Regardless, I know for a fact that you are a follower of Voldemort. I know that you weren't high ranking enough last summer to have been summoned to the graveyard with Voldemort's inner circle, but I heard your name come up in their snarky commentaries-"
"How dare you!" The Minister of Magic grated between clenched jaws, raising his wand.
"What? Are you denying it?" Harry yelled. "You've brought eight aurors to take a fifth year student into custody for being an orphan! Everyone here is watching you do it!"
The spell erupted from the tip of Thickeness' wand, as Harry imagined a protego style of shield that spread into a shimmering field around his body. The lethal red curse deflected and zipped back to hit one of the aurors. She went down and did not get back up. Harry quickly realized that he would run out of strength if he was not careful, but this menace needed to be put down before someone got killed.
Enraged, Thickeness cast another spell at Harry that was again deflected by the shielding magical field. Harry's potions classmates had retreated down the passage, and DA members Ron, Hermione, Neville, Dean, Seamus, Lavendar, and Parvati were now standing in front of the rest of the students in a defensive stance, prepared to block spells. Worried that attempts to curse him would put them in the line of fire, Harry moved farther away, changing to a simple blocking shield so that deflected curses couldn't hurt McGonagall, who was currently facing seven aurors and Thickeness with only Harry fighting alongside.
Someone literally flew into the scene from the second floor landing that overlooked the hall. It was Severus, firing a ferocious hex at Thickeness midflight, the magic renting the air with a loud RIP of jagged orange light. Harry gaped in awe, noting that many of the Ministry representatives did as well, as Thickeness took the blow and went down. A second later, Remus appeared at the top of the stairwell, and then Lucius came from the opposite passage.
What followed happened in a chaotic flurry that was amplified by outrage and fear for all engaged.
Harry saw Severus cast viciously at each of the aurors, methodically forcing them all to defend themselves. Remus and Lucius fired disarming and disabling spells simultaneously, the combined onslaught effectively dropping two more aurors in a matter of seconds. It was still not yet down to one-on-one fighting.
Where is Dumbledore?
Harry quickly shook his wand out of his sleeve.
Remus was under attack from two aurors. He darted up and down the stairs, drawing their fire into odd angles that were easier to dodge and deflect. One of the aurors cast a silent bombarda at the lower stone baluster, sending chunks of fragmented rock flying dangerously through the air. In the flash of an instant Remus appeared to slap them with a spell that reacted like a bat on a bludger, smacking several of the rocks back at the same auror, all of which hit his body, inducing several yelps of hideous pain and disabling him.
"Incarcerous!" Harry yelled, using his wild magic to enhance the spell that shot thick ropes around the fallen auror.
Remus continued his battle with the other auror, but Harry sensed movement to his right and spun just in time. "Nonmusculi!" he shouted, sending the muscleless hex at Thickeness and watching peripherally with satisfaction as the Minister promptly collapsed back to the ground in a brittle heap. No time to waste, he cast another spell Severus had taught him, "Prohibere!" pointing his wand at a charging auror, who appeared to be intending to bodily tackle him. The spell erected a brick wall in front his assailant. There was a loud crunching sound as the collision occurred, followed by a yell of rage.
Harry quickly discovered that these adult wizards were all adept at wandless and nonverbal spells, and in a matter of seconds, Thickeness was back on his feet, murder in his eyes as he fired a brutal blasting hex at Harry. It hit the teen's shield, and Harry promptly sensed a weakening in his own magic. He retreated a little further, instincts telling him to leave the fighting to the adults and to save his strength for his own defense. He kept his eyes on the Minister, who seemed to be most determined to get at him. A slash of brutal mustard colored magical energy slammed into Thickeness, knocking him heavily down. Harry spun to see Severus sweeping toward the Minister, exhibiting a murderous rage of his own that was both thrilling and terrifying for his ward to witness as he towered over the fallen Death Eater, wand pointed at the man's face. It was then that Harry realized his guardian's right side was covered in blood. It took all of Harry's self control not to call out to Severus in fear. He's obviously okay. He's on his feet.
A swath of red energy zipped by, and Harry heard a yell of pain and saw that Lucius was down.
"Father!" Draco yelled, pushing past his classmates, wand drawn, mouth trembling as he raced through the melée towards Lucius, who was writhing in pain on the ground. Harry rushed over to join Draco, standing shoulder to shoulder with him in front of Lucius, both boys with wands at the ready to block any further attacks. McGonagall moved closer to them, currently not engaged in battle, but watching for an opportunity to interfere as she cast a Finem on whatever was torturing Lucius. The blond wizard stopped writhing, but stayed down.
Finally, a loud crack revealed Fawkes delivering Dumbledore just outside of the entryway, effectively caging in the remaining upright Ministry assailants, who promptly fell beneath some sort of stunning spell that took them collectively down for good.
The ensuing silence was as startling as the onset of the battle had been. All who were still standing looked around at each other, with most eyes eventually turning to Dumbledore. All but Harry's, as he quickly made his way over to Severus, focusing on the blood-soaked shirt tail that had come untucked during the fighting, and now literally dripped blood onto the restrained Pius Thickeness. Harry knew he would snicker about that at some point in the future, but the thought of Severus bleeding so profusely scared him enough that any shaking that had been brought on by the other scare he'd just had, was now completely overpowered by quakes of fear, awe, and adoration for his guardian.
"First things first," Dumbledore was saying, looking around at them. "Auror Shacklebolt and his team are en route. There will be much to discuss with them, so let us adjourn to the Great Hall. Severus and Lucius, please let Madam Pomfrey work her magic on each of you, if you will."
"I'm alright, Harry," Severus said quietly as Harry came closer to his uninjured side. He put a hand on the boy's neck and lowered his head to drop a kiss on his temple. "Do not waste your energy on fear for me. I will see Poppy now, and be with you in a short time."
"It's not just fear," Harry admitted, whispering so that his voice couldn't break on him. "You'll tell me everything?"
"Everything." Severus confirmed. He squeezed Harry's neck and walked with him towards the others, who were heading into the Great Hall, along with the potions students who'd witnessed the entire event.
Remus was giving Lucius a hand up, while Draco stood fretfully by. The expression on Lucius' face was only what Harry could have ever expected from the pompous blond wizard: utter fury at having been bested by a lowly auror. His scowl only deepened when Remus reminded him that it had been two-on-one for each of them for nearly the entire engagement. Remus, on the other hand, appeared completely unscathed, which was a heartening sight for Harry. Severus released Harry to Remus, who stood looking down at the son of two of the dearest friends he'd ever had with enormous pride. But all Harry saw as he returned the regard, was that side of Remus that was just plain cool.
"It's really too bad Tonks wasn't here," Harry said softly, still too shaky to smile, but his voice communicated his awe. The responding look from Remus was one of confusion, which actually did bring a smile to Harry's face.
Within twenty minutes, two dozen Ministry aurors had swarmed the scene, removing the Slytherin students, the fallen aurors and the Minister of Magic on the overwhelming evidence of an unprovoked attack on Hogwarts staff and students. Aurors Shacklebolt, Tonks, Dawlish, and Jones remained to take statements.
Harry sat where all of the Slytherin and Gryffindor students had chosen to congregate together, albeit in a cluster with their housemates on either end of the table, but none were adverse to the close proximity at this point. There were calming draughts and butterbeers on the table for them, along with plates of sandwiches and cakes. No one had an appetite but many took the calming draughts and everyone grabbed a butterbeer. After a short time, Blaise Zabini appeared and joined them, sitting beside Draco, who had been the nearest to the Gryffindor side. He immediately told Draco that Lucius was fine. Everyone listened while Zabini described the way he'd been ambushed when he'd run back to his dorm for his potions textbook. He told them how Snape had interfered, portraying their potions professor in a very heroic light. He looked over at Harry, saying, "Snape's getting patched up. He's coming straight here in a mo'."
Harry nodded, and obviously his relief was written all over his face.
"When did you get so close to Professor Snape, Potter?" Daphne Greengrass asked.
She'd used a friendly enough tone, but Harry didn't really know how to answer at first. After a long moment, he realized the entire table was waiting for his response. "Uh…" he started, he flashed a look at Ron and Hermione and could see they were ready to rush to his defense if needed. "Well, you all know now that I'm always fighting off Voldemort, and this last time, Snape was there to help, and we just… Well, things changed, and he's been really great."
"Tell us something we don't know, Potter," Knott called out. But he was smiling.
Harry looked at his housemates and the questions began in earnest.
"How'd you learn all of those spells, Harry?"
"Can we learn them next?"
"Did you do wandless magic just now?"
"Who's your guardian now? Will you be safe from your relatives?"
Harry held up his hands in an exasperated gesture to stop. There were some snickers of teasing humor, but everyone did actually grow quiet. "The most important thing is that there's still trouble. I didn't kill Voldemort. He may return again, and after what happened just now, I hope all of you can see how important it is for us to stick together." He looked around at each of their faces, landing last on Ron's, knowing that he really wanted his best friend's blessing to invite the Slytherins to join the DA. Ron had that awkward grimace on his face, the one where he reluctantly conceded defeat. Harry grinned at him, and looked at Hermione.
"Harry started a group called the DA," Hermione told everyone, "last term, when Umbridge was refusing to teach us properly. It's been a secret club of sorts, where he's been teaching us everything he knows about defense. But now that Dumbledore is back, it's going to be an officially sanctioned club. If any of you would like to join, the next meeting will be tomorrow evening at eight o'clock. We meet on the fifth floor, near the statue of Barnabus the Barmy."
"You hold it in a bloody hallway?" Pansy Parkinson asked, finally showing her snitty attitude after having been overtly subdued by the day's events.
"No," Harry said, slowly, like he was speaking to someone who had trouble with concepts, "we meet in the bloody hallway." He looked around. "You're all welcome, but this isn't a place to air your opinions or politics. It's a place to practice defense."