Harry & Ginny
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Vgamermoon - Heir of Gryffindor
Chapter 41 - Chapter 41
DISCLAIMER: See Ch. 1.
A/N: Well, that was unexpected. Everyone's screaming for my blood more than they are for the Weasleys' blood. I can promise no more cliffhangers like that in the foreseeable future.
Some people have been asking me to have Harry never forgive them for what they've done. I disagree; Harry needs forgiveness and friends. On the other hand, the "never forgive" thing just might happen in "Faith," by Dragongirl16; I don't see a chance in hell of Harry ever forgiving them in that.
Note to Zaxxon: Blinks… blinks again… Damn, you're one good guesser. (The same goes for everyone else who guessed correctly; Zaxxon guessed it first.)
Note to Red Death: NO, this is not plagiarism, since Dragongirl16 allowed me to play around with her idea. Furthermore, it's hard to say exactly HOW similar my story is, compared to hers, since I'm getting through my story faster than she is with hers.
Note to Ouroboros Vipertooth (sp?): You're right, my plot has kind of twisted a lot from here to there; I kind of figured that the "betrayal" element filled in the hole needed for a plot for the end of 6th year. As for plagiarism, well, lots of authors think up the same ideas, so I really shouldn't be suspected of that.
Anyway, here's one of the chapters you've been waiting for. Here, read it, just please don't hurt me!
CHAPTER 41: THE ROAD TO HELL
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." –St. Bernard of Clairvaux
There were countless gasps of surprise and shock as the photographers clicked away. Her face was already on newspapers across the country, but this was unthinkable. She looked down, embarrassed with her eyes shut. She didn't say anything because she had a Silencing Charm placed on her. Exclamations then rose out from all over the Great Hall.
"What the hell!"
"How in ALL the hells!"
"But there was so much blood!"
"And her stuff, too!"
"Silence!" Dumbledore shouted, and silence was granted. "Please continue, Miss Weasley."
"I must protest!" Percy shouted.
"No, Mr. Weasley," Dumbledore calmly countered him. "She has every right to continue. And don't argue with me, Percy; you might have a lofty position in the Ministry these days, but I'm still the one who runs this school."
Embarrassed, Percy shut his mouth.
"Thank you, Headmaster," Ginny said. "We already determined that this is Lavender Brown. No Polyjuice Potion or any other tricks. We already interrogated her, but I'm sure that she'll have no problem explaining again why she faked her own death."
There was silence as Ginny launched into it. "First of all, at the scene of the crime itself, there was no use of magic, since that would have given Lavender away. The crime scene was so badly staged, that a Muggle detective could have seen that within seconds. Since our Aurors really aren't trained for that kind of thing, they really had no idea. My brother, Percy, MIGHT have noticed these things… that is, if he hadn't been in such a rush to find Harry guilty as quickly as possible."
After allowing a few seconds for Percy to look furious in front of everyone, Ginny continued.
"One major mistake was Seamus Finnigan. Oh no, he didn't do it of his own free will," she added as people turned to look at him. "We managed to get a hold of Lavender's wand; it seems she put the Imperius Curse on him, then a Memory Charm to cover it up."
At the accusations of Lavender's use of an Unforgivable, people gasped and Percy shouted, "How dare you, Ginny, you little-"
"One more word, Percy," Dumbledore said in his sternest voice, "And I will have you removed from this school until further notice. And if you try to resist, I would be forced to remove you myself."
There was no humor in the Headmaster's voice, only certainty. There was a coldness in Dumbledore's eyes that was visible to everyone in the hall, and no one doubted what he said. Percy stopped talking and decided to move behind the Minister.
Seamus spoke up next. "But, I thought I'd know if…" his voice trailed off as he tried to look for the right words.
Dumbledore got up and performed a spell on Seamus. His eyes went blank for a moment, and he said, "Thanks, Professor. I remember now; I heard a voice in my head, telling me to go to Professor McGonagall and tell her about what I'd 'found.'"
"And that in itself was a major mistake," Ginny added. "Lavender made Seamus use such weak acting skills. Professor McGonagall was in her office, a floor up from that bathroom. Seamus is in good shape, especially considering he was on the Quidditch team this year; a simple sprint like that shouldn't have winded him. Lavender, still having him under the Imperius Curse, was trying to make it look as though he'd just discovered it and hurried to tell someone as fast as possible. Unfortunately, she overdid it.
"Next, when McGonagall got to the bathroom, Seamus said that he'd already checked and no one was there. If he had already looked, he would have left PLENTY of footprints, of which there weren't any. And he wouldn't have tried to jump over the blood for the sake of preserving evidence, because NO ONE cares about evidence when someone they love could be bleeding their life away in a back space somewhere."
"Another big mistake after that was leaving the Chamber of Secrets open; that in itself should have gone as proof. If Harry really did open it, he would have left it closed after he was done, so he could cover his tracks and no one would find out; he's not that careless. However, Lavender, as well as anyone she may have been working with, DELIBERATELY left it open so someone would notice."
"But how?" one reporter asked. "Lavender Brown isn't a Parselmouth."
"Indeed she's not," Snape said, speaking up for the first time since he had entered the hall with Lavender to prevent her from going anywhere. "But there are devices- Dark, illegal devices, mind you- which can translate a person's speech to Parseltongue, and vice versa." He reached into his robes and pulled out a sinister-looking device, which fit in the palm of his hand. "After questioning her, she told us where we could find THIS, which was in a secret compartment of her trunk."
An Auror took it and bagged it as evidence. "What about all of her stuff left there?" he then asked after putting it away.
"That's where I come in," said a voice from the Slytherin table. Mark Evans stood up and walked over, holding two envelopes of pictures in one hand. "Being a half-blood, I happen to know some things about Muggle forensic science, like things at the scene of a crime." Turning to Lavender, he said, "Another one of your big mistakes was PLACING things were you wanted them to be, just to make it look as though a life-or-death struggle took place."
He took out one envelope, which was of the pictures that Snape had received from the Aurors. With Snape's help, he enlarged them and hung them on the wall. "First of all, quite a few of Lavender's positions were scattered. Some of them she must have wanted to save so she could use them again, like her hat or that cosmetics kit, because they MIRACULOUSLY avoided getting splashed with blood, while blood was LIBERALLY spread all over the areas next to them. Other things were just thrown in for dramatic effect, like the books, which are ruined with the blood all over them; she must not have wanted to use them again, and so she was willing to sacrifice them for the cause. Besides, from what I've seen or heard of her, she's not the kind of person who would bring her schoolbooks with her to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
"She also goofed up with the blood itself. Myself and several other students-" the aforementioned students waved from their tables "-were able to recreate the scene based on these photos. With all the blood spread out all over the place, it was squirted from a bag or something, and in the bathroom itself, the patterns of blood being spilled lead AWAY from the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, instead of TOWARDS it. And then, inside the Chamber itself, there were those drops of blood leading off. That was staged because they're shaped wrong."
"You can tell if it's fake because of its SHAPE?" questioned one dubious Auror.
Mark nodded. He opened the other envelope, took out the pictures, enlarged them, and hung them on another wall. One picture showed circular blood droplets, and other showed elliptical blood droplets. "If someone is standing still while they're bleeding, the blood simply falls to the ground and forms a circle. If someone's moving around and the blood gets thrown off of them, it forms sort of a streak, like that."
"But there's still one problem," another Auror said. "There was more blood there than a girl of her age could lose and still be alive, and there was nothing to prove that a Blood Replenishing Potion might be involved."
As Mark took down and replaced the photos, Ginny spoke up again, "Yes, well, that had us stumped- for a while. Just because we found out the whole thing was staged, that didn't mean we knew exactly what happened. There was more than one possibility that could fit. She could have committed suicide and made it look like a murder, she could have had someone else work with her in the scam to fake her death, only they decided to make it a real murder… but Lavender's friend, Parvati Patil, helped me figure it out."
"I did?" Parvati asked, still shocked. "How?"
"You said yourself that Lavender had a freezer in her trunk that could store any kind of liquid," Ginny said to her. "Including BLOOD."
She Summoned the trunk and opened it, showing the Aurors the padlocked freezer compartment, which was now hanging open. Then Ginny pulled out some Muggle stuff and said, "I asked Professor Mundania, my Muggle Studies professor, what this stuff was. Muggles use it to withdraw blood. THAT's how Lavender did it. Over the course of several weeks, she could withdraw enough and keep it in storage."
As the reporters and Ministry officials jotted this down, Ginny had one last thing to say. "You do realize what this means, don't you. Harry's innocent. You arrested the wrong person. AGAIN."
Percy looked as though he'd been struck in the face with something heavy as the rest of the hall muttered feverishly. Looking angry, he charged up to Ginny. Dumbledore made to get up and remove Percy from the hall, but Ginny put said, "That's alright, Headmaster."
Sitting himself back down, he then decided to sit back and watch this amazing young woman stand up for herself.
"Potter's a lunatic!" Percy yelled at her. "Even if he's not responsible for this, he should still be kept locked up!"
Ginny stood her ground, and shook her head. "You stupid fool," he said to his face in front of the entire hall. "You've been had, smart guy. They handed you a script and you read it like a mindless moron."
Turning to Amos Diggory, Ginny then said, "Minister, now's the best time to have Lavender answer, under the influence of Veritaserum, why she did this."
Mr. Diggory didn't know what to say. "I don't know, I mean…"
Ginny looked him straight in the eye. "Trust me, Minister," she said respectfully. "Harry brought back your son's body; if it wasn't for that, you would have never known what would have happened to Cedric. You owe him that much. If he wanted you to know the truth, now's the best time to return the favor."
There was silence while Mr. Diggory worked it over. Finally, he said, "I'll approve the use of Veritaserum right now." Accepting a vial from an assistant, Mr. Diggory went up to Lavender and administered it.
"Thank you, Minister," Ginny said. "If you don't mind, I'd like to ask the same questions we asked her last night."
Mr. Diggory nodded formally. "Go ahead."
Turning to Lavender, Ginny got it started. After removing the Silencing Charm and magically increasing the volume of her voice, she asked, "Can you hear me?"
Lavender blinked. "Yes," she answered in a monotone voice.
"What's your name?"
"Which House are you in?"
"Did you fake your own murder and frame Harry?"
"Yes." The Gryffindors gasped.
"Are you supportive of the Dark Lord?"
"Yes." More gasps, even screams of protest from the Gryffindor table, and it took the teachers a minute to get everyone to calm down.
"Did you use the Imperius Curse and a Memory Charm on Seamus Finnigan?"
"Why did you frame Harry?"
"Because I hate him."
"Why do you hate him?"
"Because he disrespects Professor Trelawny. She works hard to maintain her gift of Sight. Potter has visions, and yet he downplays Divination. I wanted to put him in his place."
"What did the Dark Lord promise you if you framed Harry?"
"The gift of Sight."
"Do you realize that's not a good reason at all, and that Harry never spoke ill of her?"
Lavender blinked again. "No."
"You said that you knew of the Dark Lord's plan to set Gryffindor House against Harry, correct?"
"Yes. He let that idiot, Percy Weasley, steal that so-called 'Dark research.' It's entirely fake, ESPECIALLY about the curse scars. In fact, I even helped supply things that would make people turn on him. It was extremely satisfying, really, how his entire House turns on him, especially Weasley and Granger."
Even more gasps and exclamations, and Percy looked thunderstruck, as did his mother. The entire House looked ashamed, but none more than Ron and Hermione.
"Are there other supporters of the Dark Lord still at Hogwarts?"
"Who are they?"
"Zacharias Smith and Michael Corner." 1
There were more gasps and exclamations, and the traitors tried to get away, but their Housemates who were still supportive of Harry held them back. After they were turned over to the Aurors and taken back to the Ministry via Portkey, the questioning continued.
"Who tried to kill Professor Lupin with that bomb?"
"Me, Zacharias and Michael." Lupin got up and looked ready to hex Lavender, but Dumbledore had him stay where he was.
"Were you also responsible for all those other acts of terror?"
"Were you trying to make it look as though the Slytherins did it?"
"Yes." This resulted in a lot of booing and hissing from the Slytherin table.
"Were you planning on getting away with all of this?"
"Who's the Ministry insider who also conspired with Umbridge at her trial to kill Harry?"
Lavender struggled for a moment, determined not to let this secret loose, but it came out anyway. "Joseph Cornwall. He's even related to Michael Corner." 2
There were more gasps as the Ministry officials present looked ready to kill. "Minister, he got away!" one assistant told Mr. Diggory.
"Find him!" Mr. Diggory ordered. Everyone's attention was then drawn back to the interrogation as Ginny had one last question to ask.
"Is Harry Potter innocent?"
That one-word answer seemed to echo throughout the entire hall as another Auror administered the antidote to the Veritaserum and took Lavender away. Snape eyed the Gryffindors with absolute loathing as he returned to the staff table.
"Innocent?" Ron's voice came from the Gryffindor table. "Potter's innocent?"
Ginny whirled around and stalked over to the Gryffindor table, her brother flinching at the sound of her voice. "Yes, you idiot, HARRY's innocent!" she yelled at her youngest brother in front of the entire hall. "IN-NO-CENT, you stupid moron! Honestly, you acted so abominably! He's your friend and you betrayed him! And you," she yelled, advancing on Hermione, who cringed in her seat, "You're the biggest, stupidest hypocrite I have ever had the misfortunate of meeting! Harry treated you like a sister, and this is how you repay him? You listened to your boyfriend instead of using your own common sense! Both of you are horrible! I'm surprised Professor McGonagall didn't take away your prefects' badges! Everything you hated about people like Draco Malfoy, you've turned into! At least he came to his senses and realized how horrible Voldemort is!"
Turning to all of her fellow Housemates at large, she finished, "All of you are despicable! If the situations were reversed, I'm sure Harry would have defended you! You deserved every last prank they played on you! There's nothing wrong with the traits that Gryffindor values, except you greedily abuse them to look good and get what you want!"
Allowing those insults to sink in, she continued, "It's a good thing there aren't any dementors guarding him, at least."
Just then, she heard Percy make a sound from where he was standing, looking as though he wanted to say something, but quickly shut up. Unfortunately for him, Ginny picked up on this. "Something you want to share with us, Percy?" she asked with an edge in her voice, slowly walking over to him.
Percy muttered something like, "Oh, nothing…"
Ginny, on the other hand, had different ideas. Raising her wand, she warned him, "You tell me right now, or you'll see just how many WONDERFUL new spells Harry has taught me."
Percy gulped. The rest of the hall remained deathly quiet, watching this dispute between siblings. All of them remembered Ginny's temper and the trick with the cutlery, and none of them wanted a repeat of that.
"Percy, I recommend you tell ALL of us what it is," Mr. Diggory said, "Seeing as it concerns Mr. Potter. Then again, that's only my opinion."
Bracing himself for the worst, Percy told her, "Cornwall made it a secret Ministry decree to have dementors guard higher-security prisoners."
As the implications of this sunk in, a few professors gasped. Lupin closed his eyes in horror and buried his face in his hands; he of all people knew Harry's reaction to dementors. Hagrid started shaking from guilt and grief, remembering his own times in Azkaban. McGonagall quickly brushed away a tear falling from her eye, sickened at the thought of making the same mistake twice and throwing an innocent person to the dementors.
Ginny, on the other hand, was even more furious, if that was even possible. "You fool," she spat at Percy, pocketing her wand and taking a few more steps towards him. "Harry… the one person who can kill Voldemort, mind you… has been exposed to dementors for nearly two weeks… and he's affected by them worse than anyone else… he may have survived several confrontations with Voldemort, but dementors alone are enough to make him lose his mind…"
Percy backed up as his sister slowly advanced on him, knowing she was building up her anger. "Ginny, I…"
With a truly frightening scream of anger, Ginny swiftly grabbed Percy by his robes and slammed him against the Hufflepuff table, forcing a few scared students to get out of the way. "HE COULD HAVE LOST HIS MIND BY NOW, PERCY!" she yelled in his face. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU'VE DONE!"
Percy shook his head and tried to say something, but with a relinquished hold on him, Ginny continued in a dangerous tone, "When we get Harry out of there, I will make sure that you'll be begging him on your knees for forgiveness. You're not going to sleaze your way out of this one. You disgusting, vengeful little creep." Roughly dropping him, she stormed out of the hall, slamming the doors behind her, which nearly caused them to fall off their hinges. 3
As silence rolled through, Dumbledore got up. "Amos, I think some things need to be done. Please, come with me. Fellow staff members, please come with me as well." Pulling out his watch, he jumped a little in surprise and said, "Oh my! Halfway through dinner already?" Putting the watch away and addressing the student body, he said, "Dinner will be extended, due to today's events."
Mr. Diggory turned to the remaining Aurors and said, "Get Mr. Potter out of there, and hurry." They dutifully nodded and hurried out of the hall.
The food appeared, but no one seemed very hungry. Well, except for the Slytherins, who ate victoriously and praised their members who had worked hard for their goal.
The professors and the Minister filled the staff room. The last to enter were the Minister of Magic and his pair of bodyguards.
As they all took a seat, Dumbledore sat down, looking old and weary. This was getting worse and worse. During the decade or so of the first war (from 1971 to 1981), he had never gone through anything like this.
There was a moment of silence as the Headmaster composed his thoughts. Finally looking up at the Minister, he said, "As we all know, Harry is innocent. We need him out of there and able to recuperate. He's the only one who can kill Voldemort, and in spite of that, we allowed him to be in Azkaban. Even if we didn't know about the dementors, it makes it all the worse."
"Needless to say, Albus," Mr. Diggory said, "An official pardon will be drawn up, and compensation if he needs or wants it. If he has any requests for help or aid, it will be welcome to him." He sat back, closed his eyes, sighed, and when he opened them again, he said, "I didn't want to put him there, dementors or not, but common logic dictated that he had to be arrested."
"Speaking, of which, Amos, did you know about the dementors?" Dumbledore asked.
Mr. Diggory shook his head. "No, I didn't; Cornwall was obviously playing all of us for fools."
Dumbledore nodded, accepting the Minister's response. "I understand, Amos." Surveying the staff as a whole, he said, "The other reason that we are all here is to figure out how to help him heal, and to help him recover any information he knows about magic, if that's the case."
"By the way," Mr. Diggory added, once Dumbledore was finished talking, "What did Miss Weasley mean about Potter possibly losing his mind? He's only been there for twelve days; it can't have been THAT bad, could it?"
Lupin groaned and shook his head in the negative. "Harry's worse when it comes to dementors, as opposed to most other people, because most other people haven't gone through what he's had to endure. He told me in his third year when I was teaching him how to conjure a Patronus when he told me. He kept hearing his parents die whenever a dementor got too close to him… he would shudder, convulse and collapse…" Lupin broke off here, his throat obstructed with grief. "He's been through more since then… he's seen Cedric die at Voldemort's rebirth… he's seen Sirius die… who knows what else has happen to him in the past twelve days?"
There was silence, other than Hagrid groaning with remorse. Just to reinforce the truth about Harry's sensitivity to dementors, Lupin then added, "That one Quidditch match during his third year… the match in the storm where your son won, Minister, because the dementors got loose onto the field… he was barely exposed to them for twelve SECONDS when he fainted and fell off his broom."
Mr. Diggory went pale and nodded, torn between the memories of his dead son and the suffering of this boy who had once felt some false blame for Cedric's death.
A knock on the door interrupted his musings. "Come in," Dumbledore called.
The Aurors sent to retrieve Harry were there, looking nervous, scared, and worried.
"What happened?" Dumbledore asked urgently, straightening up and sensing something terrible. He could feel it…
"New Azkaban," the leader said worry and panic. "It must have been Cornwall… You-Know-Who broke in and took the kid."
There were muffled exclamations, sounds of horror, and even a couple of profanities expressed. Personally, Dumbledore felt as though he wanted to break down and weep.
After lazily using bangs of sound from his wand to restore silence, Dumbledore said, "We must not panic. No one is to know about this; we can't have Voldemort demoralizing everyone with this. I will make an announcement to the school regarding their mistakes. In the meantime, Amos, I only ask that you do everything within your power."
Amos could only nod in compliance with the old man. Turning to his Aurors, he said, "Well, what are you waiting for? Assemble a team and find Potter!"
The Aurors quickly nodded and just as quickly departed. After magically shutting and securing the staff room, Dumbledore finished, "I will need to assemble the Order and inform the Weasleys that they are welcome again, now that they see exactly what they've been doing wrong. Minerva, Severus, Filius, Samantha, Remus, Rubeus, Amos, please come with me to Grimmauld Place; the rest of you, please try and keep the school in order and prevent the different Houses from trying to kill each other."
There were nods, except from Snape. With a look of impatience, he got up out of his chair and strode towards the door. "Severus, what are you doing?" Dumbledore asked worriedly.
"I'm getting him," Snape said curtly. "He's my responsibility, he's my relative, I'm getting him."
"Severus, you can't-"
Snape whipped around, his beetle black eyes glittering malevolently. "No, Albus, I'm in no mood for your 'let's wait for the right time' games. Come hell or high water, I'm getting him."
Lupin made a quiet noise which sounded suspiciously like laughing. "Sorry," Lupin said, fighting the grin forming on his face, "You sounded like Sirius for a moment."
Snape blinked and just shrugged it off.
Dumbledore explained, "First of all, you don't know where he is. Second, you won't know until if and when Voldemort summons you. Third, that might be difficult in itself, since there aren't many Death Eaters for him to summon these days since Draco Malfoy's attack on his base."
Snape bowed his head, unwillingly accepting the facts.
Mr. Diggory blinked. "Sorry, but what's this about Draco Malfoy?"
A small grin appeared on Dumbledore's face. "I'll explain later." The grin faded as he got up to lead the aforementioned people to Order headquarters at Grimmauld Place.
Percy was sitting in his office at the Ministry, in a state of total disgrace. His own reputation had been skewered, his Order of Merlin, Second Class had been taken away, and his sister still sided up with Potter! 4
As he sat brooding, a voice spoke from the darkest corners of his mind. Harry Potter isn't evil.
He's a twisted loony.
No he isn't. He's just a teenager who cares about your family very much.
He's a troublemaker.
No he isn't. He does what he has to in order to save people and protect them. You acted like this because you convinced yourself that you were doing the right thing. You thought that Harry was trying to usurp you as someone who protected your family. He doesn't care about attention or any of that; you made yourself think that.
"Shut up!" Percy said aloud, earning him some rather strange looks from people passing outside in the hall.
Ginny stormed up to her dormitory, but by the time she reached it, her anger was replaced with grief. Harry's mind could have snapped. Would he even be the same ever again?
She couldn't stand to be in the Gryffindor dormitories anymore. They weren't like her home anymore. Taking her invisibility cloak and her trunk (she had to magically shrink it first), she swiftly headed out of the tower.
Her footsteps seemed to take her to the Slytherin dungeons, which were the only place she felt comfortable these days, strangely enough. Pansy, Daphne, and Nora were all walking towards her from around a corner when Ginny had to quickly move aside to avoid running into them. All three of them raised their wands as Nora shouted, "Who was that! I know you're there, I heard you! I'm a prefect."
"So am I," Ginny said, taking off the cloak. All three girls gaped at her. "Harry gave it to me," she explained.
"Gin, you're a wreck," Daphne commented. Ginny nodded, letting a few tears run down her face.
"Come with us," Pansy said, taking her by the hand. "Put your cloak on too."
Ginny put it back on, letting herself be led to wherever it was by these three mother hens.
"Raven feathers," Daphne said to the bare stretch of wall, which opened up to the Slytherin dormitories. 5
"Are you sure about this?" Ginny asked Nora.
"No one else is exactly in a position to talk," the older prefect said evenly. Ginny shrugged and decided to go with it.
Everyone in the Slytherin common room was collected quietly. When the praise for their heroes died off, they worried over Harry.
"What's going on?" Neville asked.
"We've got a guest," Pansy chimed. Turning to where she thought Ginny was, the blonde said, "Off with the cloak, dear."
People gasped as Ginny took her cloak off and wiped her tears away.
"Another transfer?" Draco-as-Roy asked.
"Not exactly," Pansy asked. "More like can't stand to be with her Housemates at the moment."
"Who can blame her?" Blaise asked rhetorically.
"Anyway," Nora explained, "I can conjure a bed in our dormitory."
"A new girl in their dormitory," Draco whispered to Blaise and Neville, "Get the Silencing Charms ready, boys, because they'll be up all night at this rate."
"I heard that," Pansy said. Draco had the good grace to look guilty.
"Actually," Draco responded, "I was hoping to talk to Ginny for a moment."
Pansy shrugged and said, "Fine, but don't take to long, we need to get her set up."
"My point exactly," Draco called over his shoulder while walking over to Ginny.
Still crying a little, Ginny hugged Draco and sobbed into his shoulder. Draco took it all in stride; recently, he had come to think of Ginny as a sort of younger sister.
"Hang in there, Ginny," Draco whispered in her ear.
"You know," Ginny said with a hint of mirth in her voice, "It's strange how at the beginning of this year, we would have been set to fight each other for our own causes, and now look at us."
"As Harry once put it," Draco said, "'Nothing like a Dark Lord to put things in perspective.'"
Ginny laughed a little, wiping away her tears and pulling away from him. "How did you and Harry ever come to an agreement?"
"In his opinion," Draco said, "Both of us can't condone everything the other has done, and neither of us have acted perfectly. Besides, according to him, anyone who wanted to stand against Riddle couldn't be all that bad."
"Sounds just like him," Ginny commented.
"Once he's on your side, there's hardly anything you can hate about him," Draco said. "Strange, really, how he can have the mind of a Slytherin and the heart of a Gryffndor. I wouldn't be surprised if a he was a descendant of both Founders… or maybe Gryffindor at least."
As Ginny contemplated this, something clicked in Draco's observant mind. Fire… lion… phoenix… sword… Harry…
"Draco?" Ginny asked, noticing the look on his face.
"I just realized something. Be right back," he breathed, hurrying out of the common room, leaving a confused Ginny behind him.
In the kitchen of Number 12, Grimmauld Place (Mrs. Malfoy still allowed Dumbledore to use it, since she really had to use for it herself), Dumbledore was preparing to talk when Mr. and Mrs. Weasley walked in.
There was some booing and hissing, but it stopped with a gesture from Dumbledore. "Welcome back," Dumbledore said neutrally. "Are you ready to accept the truth now and not scapegoat innocent people?"
Arthur nodded silently, even though he really hadn't spoken out against Harry. Molly looked about ready to cry.
"You hypocrites," Snape snarled. "You basically dragged your family name through the mud, and for what?"
For once, Molly didn't even have the energy to retaliate.
"Someone once said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions," Dumbledore said as though making a speech. "The Wealseys didn't want a repeat of what happened to Marlene McKinnon, Molly's late sister. Some of us, like Remus and Rubeus-" the werewolf and half-giant bowed their heads in shame "-were made to think of what happened with people like Peter Pettigrew or Tom Riddle, and so they were forced to do what they thought was the correct and only thing they could do. Part of this is to figure out how to help Harry rehabilitate, and re-establish any broken trust."
There was silence while ways were contemplated. "Naturally, his wand will be given back," Mr. Diggory stated formally, "Although I might want to let his temper cool for a day or two."
"Being his guardian, I will handle it," Snape said.
Mr. Diggory nodded. "Fine, Severus, I will pass it to Dumbledore to pass to you, just to be safe."
As Snape nodded in agreement, Dumbledore continued, "I agree with Amos about letting his temper cool, especially considered the damage he caused to my office at the end of last year without his wand."
There were curious looks as the Headmaster elaborated sadly, "He was furious over Sirius dying, so he broke a few things. Not like I can blame him; even if he somehow managed to turn me into a cockroach, I wouldn't have been able to bring myself to get angry at him."
There was some quiet chuckling, and Dumbledore was about to say something else as a beeping sound came from Snape's robes.
As Snape took out a magical tracking device, Dumbledore asked, "What is it?"
"Filch," Snape said flatly, "I've been tracking him ever since he quit, just to make sure…"
His device was the equivalent of something a Muggle would use to "bug" someone and eavesdrop on conversations. Filch's voice cackled just so the whole room could hear it: "…ah, that idiot Dumbledore would never let me use THESE whips, my sweet, but soon enough, that scar-headed brat will finally get what's coming to him, thanks to our NEW employer, the Dark Lord…"
As Snape turned it off, there were exclamations and profanities expressed, but none more furious than Snape. With a few choice words, he launched himself up out of his seat and exclaimed, "That traitor!"
Looking at Dumbledore, who looked angry himself, Snape said snidely, "May I please pay dear old Argus a little social visit."
There was a strange twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes as he nodded. "Just try to bring him back alive and in one piece, Severus."
Snape smirked at his boss' since of humor. "I'll try, although I can't promise anything." In a flash of black hair and robes, Snape was gone from the room.
In a dingy house in a Muggle neighborhood (being a Squib, Filch had to rely upon Muggle devices), the crooked old man eagerly went through his collection of dangerous (and most sharp) torture objects, which were stored in a closet adjacent to the living room.
"Ooh, I haven't used this one in a while… this one needs to be oiled… this one, perhaps?"
Mrs. Norris hissed as a bird-sized shadow was thrown over the floor. Filch glared at her but shrugged it off.
Suddenly, a huge shadow covered the floor, and with an entrance worthy of Batman, a dark figure burst through the window, causing glass to fly all over the place.
"What in blazes-!" Filch exclaimed, backing up. Mrs. Norris hissed and ran into the closet itself.
"Hello, Argus," the dark man said from under the cloak. His hidden face turned to the closet of torture devices. "Nice collection, but nowhere as lethal or untraceable as even my best poisons."
"Severus!" Filch gasped indignantly.
"Indeed," Snape said, whipping out his wand and pointing it straight at Filch's heart. "You have ten seconds to tell me where Potter is before I find out whether you really do have a heart or not."
Filch wasn't going to stand for this. He raised his left hand, which already had a knife in it, just as Snape shouted, "Stupefy!"
The curse bounded off the knife at a funny angle and narrowly missed Snape. Filch then delivered a right hook to Snape's chest, which caused him to recoil and drop his wand, which then rolled away under an armchair.
Filch then grabbed a whip from the cabinet, and made to whip Snape, who swiftly dodged it. Snape then grabbed a thin sword from the cabinet and lunged for Filch.
The whip ended up being tangled around the blade, and Filch hissed, "I don't see why you care about Potter so much!"
Snape towered over Filch, his own hawk-like nose barely an inch away from Filch's bulbous one. "News flash, Argus: I'm related to him and I even took him in!"
Argus lost his grip in a moment of surprise, and as Snape's blade cut through the whip, Filch was kicked in the chest, consequently being thrown back into the cabinet, where several sharp objects fell on him. 6
By some satanic miracle, Filch only got a few shallow scratches. With a roar of fury, he grabbed three more whips by their handles and lunged at Snape, who swept aside.
The crazed fighting continued for several more minutes, practically tearing up the room, until Snape got thrown back against an electric switch, when turned on an overhead fan.
"You always were a slimy little miscreant as a student, Severus!" Filch gloated, looking slightly crazed, owing to the fact he had a whip around his next like a gigantic pet snake. "Time to get what's coming to you!"
Snape, sprawled out on the floor, saw his wand a few feet away from him, still under the armchair where it rolled under.
As quick as a flash, Snape grabbed it, aimed, and shouted, "Expelliarmus!"
Filch was thrown back and upwards into the now turned-on fan, and one of his whips got caught. A strangled scream could be heard as Filch tried to get himself loose.
"How ironic that the traitor should hang, hm?" Snape smirked, getting up of the floor.
Just then, the fan fell out under the weight, and Filch fell to the floor. The fan then landed on his head, knocking him out.
"Clever, Severus, clever," came a Cockney-accented voice from behind him. 7
"Hello, Fletcher," Snape said. "How did you know I was here?"
"You left your eavesdropper on the table," Fletcher said with a grin.
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Ah. Anyway, before we haul this traitor back… Accio Mrs. Norris!"
Mrs. Norris came flying towards him with a yowl, and after putting a Full Body Bind on the creature and dumping her in a conjured bag (he HATED those bulbous yellow eyes), Snape put restraints on Filch.
Looking up, he saw Fletcher eyeing the cabinet of torture weapons and walking over to it. "Mundungus," he said. "Don't."
"Why not?" the sneak-thief asked.
"Two reasons. One: We need it as evidence. Two: It's kind of disturbing that you should think about it that way, especially in regards to what he wanted to with it."
"Hm, I see your point."
Just then, Kingsley and Tonks appeared with a few other Aurors. "It was Filch, who's been conspiring with the Dark Lord ever since he quit from Hogwarts."
"So it WASN'T Mundungus Fletcher for a change?" one of the unfamiliar Aurors asked.
"Hey!" Dung shouted. "I may have a questionable record at best, but I have absolutely NOTHING to do with Dark Magic whatsoever!"
As Filch and Mrs. Norris were taken away, Snape's smirk vanished as one thing came to mind once again:
Where was Harry?
A/N: I decided to make this chapter shorter in order to satisfy you all.
1 In case you were wondering, I decided to make them the traitors, simply because I don't like them.
2 This was a hint. Even before I decided to make my plot based on the story "Faith," I still wanted Michael Corner to be the traitor, or at least one of them.
3 This little spat between Ginny and Percy was inspired by a scene in "Aliens," where Ellen Ripley finds out that Burke was responsible for the deaths of the colonists. (Watch the movie; you'll know what I mean.) This scene in particular is more than halfway through the movie.
4 Haha, serves you right, Weatherby! Sticks out tongue.
5 Snape came up with this particular password, which is a vital clue to future events in this story.
7 I THINK that Mundungus Fletcher has a Cockney accent; am I right?
NEXT CHAPTER: TO HELL AND BACK AGAIN
A cure for the Cruciatus Curse is finally found, Bill and Charlie recuperate (and catch up on current events, with help from Ginny), and Joseph Cornwall learns the hard way exactly what happens when you endanger Harry Potter while Albus Dumbledore is around…
Joseph Cornwall was lifted off his feet and slammed into the wall. There was a small streak of blood left as he slid down against it. He made to go for his wand, except he had been disarmed!
The hall was deadly silent as Dumbledore slowly advanced on the insider for Voldemort. Anger was written all over the Headmaster's face. All the heat in the room seemed to vanish, as though the infuriated wizard had become the only source of heat in the entire Great Hall. Dumbledore didn't charge up to him, but his footsteps seemed to echo like those of an elephant's thunderous steps.
Dumbledore was right. He was powerful. He was in charge.
Dumbledore was also as mad as hell.
"Come now, old man," Cornwall sneered, trying to relish whatever he could. "Surely you wouldn't set such a bad example in front of your students, would you? Even me you would grant a second chance, right?"
"Wrong," Dumbledore said, his voice heavily laced with hatred and fury.
Cornwall's smile faltered. "Why would that be? You always do."
"Not for you, I wouldn't," Dumbledore responded, his eyes burning brighter than the sun, and his voice not like one of this world.
The traitor's smile completely vanished from now. "And why not?"
No one present would ever forget the next few words spoken. "Because you endangered Harry," he said with a trace of a growl, his wand raised and focused on its target.
(I think I'll leave it to your imaginations to wonder what will happen to this guy. Oh, and as for Percy, the "sticky situation" I talked about will happen next chapter, and his fate is still a toss-up.)