This chapter is dedicated to Imogen for all of her kind comments and for all of the wonderful stories she has shared with us.
Harry blinked his eyes against the flickering of inadequate torchlight
in the dark forest clearing. He looked around and found himself in an
elevated seat with a large semi-circle of hooded figures in front of
him. Harry remembered those hoods and immediately realised that he was
in the middle of a gathering of Death Eaters. He could see nothing else
but a line of dark trees walling them in.
"Now that the
circle has been restored, we can proceed with the business at hand,"
said a voice Harry recognised as Voldemort's. As he looked around and
saw all of the figures looking in his direction, he realised he was
dreaming and that he was in Voldemort's head.
Bellatrix, approach me," commanded Voldemort. Harry watched as a pair
of hooded figures approached him and removed their hoods. Harry saw a
look of intense fear on Lucius' face despite the proud wizard's best
efforts to hide it. Bellatrix, on the other hand, wore a look of
confusion along with her fear, much a like a favourite child would
before she were about to be severely punished.
have failed me," hissed Voldemort with disgust as he turned to focus
his full attention on Lucius Malfoy. "You especially, Lucius. Not only
did you manage to lose the prophecy, you also managed to get yourself
captured, necessitating exposing myself further by breaking you out of
Azkaban. You know the punishment for failure, don't you Lucius?"
"Yes, my lord," Lucius said nervously.
then turned his attention to Bellatrix, deciding that it would be good
to allow Lucius to stew with nervous worry for a few moments. "My dear,
faithful Bellatrix," whispered Voldemort threateningly as he looked at
her. "You have failed me, too."
"But my lord," cried
Bellatrix, "I was faithful to you. I searched and searched for you and
I even went to Azkaban for you. I would not renounce you like all the
Lucius looked at Bellatrix with undisguised contempt.
I know that," answered Voldemort. "It is for your faithfulness that I
have decided not to kill you, but merely to punish you. Do not worry,"
he added, seeing the look of fear come over her face. "Your punishment
will not be as severe as Lucius'." He pulled out his wand and pointed
it at the two Death Eaters. "Crucio!" he thundered, and sat back in his chair.
searing pain exploded in Harry's head, emanating from the lightning
bolt-shaped scar on his forehead. He tried to remain in the dream but
awoke with a start, screaming as he sat up in his bed.
shivered as he lay in bed. He had woken up in a cold sweat. Hearing the
flapping of wings from Hedwig's cage, Harry got out of bed and went to
check up on her. "It's okay, Hedwig," he said. "It was just me having a
bad dream. Sorry about that," he added meekly.
Seeing it was
still night, Harry opened her cage door and then the window, thinking
Hedwig might like a little exercise and some hunting before dawn. She
eyed the open cage door and the window beyond. "Go on," said Harry. He
smiled as she hopped out of the cage and flew out the window. At least
one of them could escape.
Harry sat down on the side of his
bed and began thinking about everything that had happened in his dream.
As he pondered the dream, he wondered about Lucius Malfoy's presence in
the circle. Was Voldemort trying to influence his dreams, or was he
simply seeing everything from Voldemort's perspective? Not that it
mattered, thought Harry. He had no intention of leaving the safety of
Privet Drive to rescue Lucius Malfoy from his just deserts.
At that moment, he remembered that he had forgotten to renew his subscription to the Daily Prophet
prior to coming back for the summer. As he swung his feet back onto his
bed and laid his head down on his pillow, Harry resolved to write Ron
in the morning and ask whether or not Lucius Malfoy was still in
Azkaban. He closed his eyes and in a few moments, he was back asleep.
looked down and saw a rat with a silver paw sitting next to his foot,
the rat's eyes looking raptly at the still-twitching form of Lucius
Malfoy. Bellatrix Lestrange lay on the ground next to him. She was also
twitching, but not as violently as Lucius. The rat made squeaking
noises, and Harry almost thought he heard something that resembled a
"Animagum Reverso," said Voldemort as he pointed his wand at the rat. Peter Pettigrew's short form appeared immediately by his master's side.
you think my methods of punishment humourous, Peter?" asked Voldemort
in a soft, menacing tone which hinted that if Peter gave the wrong
answer, he would be next.
"N-No, my lord," answered
Peter in a simpering snivel. A few seconds passed as he withered under
the Dark Lord's stare and gathered his wits to reply. "Is it so wrong
to take pleasure in the suffering of one's enemies, my lord?" he asked,
as he finally replied to Voldemort.
with an unearthly laughter as he pondered Wormtail's appeal to his own
penchant for sadism. Technically Wormtail had outsmarted him, but he
would never admit it. He smiled maliciously at Peter, indicating that
his lust for punishment had yet to be fulfilled. "You had better have
succeeded in your mission or Lucius will be the one smiling next," he
retorted smugly. Voldemort's smile grew larger as Peter's faded away.
"I did, my lord," simpered Peter as he cowered under Voldemort's glare.
us see, then," said Voldemort as he pointed his wand at Peter's temple
and muttered a spell in a language Harry had never heard before. Peter
screamed as Voldemort drew his wand back, causing a silvery mist to
come out of his head. The mist followed the motion of Voldemort's wand
and at the Dark Lord's command it formed into an image of Professor
Harry pondered the image for a moment,
wondering why it seemed so high and far up, and then realised it was
from the point of view of a rat -- Peter had stolen into Dumbledore's
office as a rat. He listened as the ghostly image of Professor
Trelawney repeated once again the same message he had heard for the
first time in the headmaster's office. Either a murderer or murdered,
that was his fate.
"Well, Peter, it does seem as if
you have succeeded," stated Voldemort, all traces of menace gone from
his voice. "Well done," he said as he looked down on the pudgy wizard.
could tell from the tone of Voldemort's voice that he was deep in
thought. At this point, he wished he had studied Legilimency instead of
Occlumency last year, because he wanted to know what Voldemort was
"Has Potter heard this yet?" demanded Voldemort as he once again addressed Peter.
"Y-Yes, my lord," replied Peter. "Dumbledore retrieved that memory especially for him."
"Has he told him of his inheritance yet?" demanded Voldemort.
"N-No, my lord," replied Peter.
"Are you certain?"
"Y-Yes, my lord," answered Peter, desperate to reassure Voldemort of the accuracy of his information.
"What could Dumbledore possibly be up to?" wondered Voldemort.
"Probably the same stupid response he came up with the last time," answered Lucius.
looked away from Peter, angry that Lucius had spoken out of turn. He
saw Bellatrix standing meekly beside him, eyes downcast. "Lucius, did I
ask for your opinion?" asked Voldemort softly.
grimaced ever so slightly as he realised his mistake. "No, my lord," he
replied, cowering a bit. He scowled when he saw Voldemort look to
Peter. Peter nodded.
Voldemort lifted his wand and pointed it back at Lucius. "Crucio!" he thundered.
woke with a start. Once again he shivered as he found himself in a cold
sweat. He jumped out of bed and scribbled everything down before he
forgot. As much as he didn't want to communicate with Dumbledore, he
knew he had to warn him that Wormtail had breached the security of his
office as a rat, and that Voldemort now knew about the prophecy. After
he finished recounting the events in his dream, Harry added an
additional paragraph -- a plea to be allowed to spend the remainder of
the summer at the Burrow. He carefully rolled the parchment up and
As he glanced at Hedwig's cage, he remembered that
he had let her go hunting. He looked out into the sky and saw no traces
of sunrise. Checking his clock, he saw that it was only four o'clock in
the morning. Realising it would be a while before she returned, Harry
grabbed another piece of parchment and hastily scribbled a letter to
Ron, telling him all about the two dreams and concluding with a request
for information on whether Lucius Malfoy had been broken out of Azkaban.
finished Ron's letter just as it was starting to get light. As he put
down his quill, he heard the soft whisper of Hedwig's wings. Looking
over to the window, he saw her outlined against the sunrise. He noticed
she was staring at the parchments on his desk.
but it's an emergency," Harry said as he rolled them up and tied them
with a bit of ribbon. He went over to the window and tied the
parchments to his owl's leg. "I need you to go to Professor Dumbledore
first. Please be quick about it," he pleaded. "If you're too tired to
continue on to the Burrow, take a rest in the Owlery. Otherwise, I need
you to get Ron's letter to him as quickly as possible," finished Harry
as he stared at Hedwig, trying to impart the urgency of the situation
to his owl.
Hedwig glared at him before turning around in a
huff and flying out the window. Harry smiled as he watched her go,
wishing that he, too, could fly out of his room and visit Ron at the
Burrow. He sighed and went to get dressed in some rather ratty clothes.
It was time to do the back garden again.
Two days later, Harry
was awakened at the break of dawn by the noisy chatter of Pigwidgeon as
he fluttered around his room. Harry groaned and sat up in bed. He
waited until the little owl flew close by and then snatched him quickly
in his hands. Harry laughed as he realised the only Quidditch practice
he was getting over the summer was catching Ron's owl. He pulled the
letter off Pig's leg then let him go and watched the little owl fly to
Hedwig's cage, obviously in search of water and some food. Seeing that
there was enough for Pig, he sat on his bed and tore Ron's letter open
quickly, anxious to find out about Lucius Malfoy's status and any other
news of the wizarding world from his friend.
Aren't you getting the Prophet?
Well, anyway, yes, there was an enormous jailbreak at Azkaban. All of
the Death Eaters who were being held escaped. The Ministry hasn't
released too much information and Dad absolutely won't talk about it.
The only thing I know for sure is that all the prisoners who wouldn't
join forces with Voldemort were killed. Sturgis Podmore was one of
them. The Ministry had extended his sentence. Dad said something about
Fudge trying to get information on the Order out of him. Ruddy bastards.
of which, those dreams of yours gave me the creeps. At least Lucius
Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange got what they had coming. Stupid sods.
Dumbledore said anything about allowing you to come to the Burrow? Mum
said we're staying here for the summer as security at Grimmauld Place
may have been compromised by the loss of Kreacher. Dad said he's gone
to serve Narcissa Malfoy and is no longer bound by any of the oaths he
swore to Sirius.
Frankly, I'm glad we're not going. I'd
much rather stay here than that wretched place anyway. No offence,
Harry. At least here we can play Quidditch and we don't have to worry
about a nutter house elf or screaming wizard portraits.
is due in another couple of weeks and I'll make certain she gets your
first letter. I'm certain she will have something to say about it all.
After all, she does about everything else.
felt a pang of jealousy and then anger as he read Ron's mention of
Hermione coming to the Burrow; it was as if last summer were repeating
itself all over again. Remembering the opportunity his anger might
afford Voldemort, Harry began thinking about Lucius Malfoy and the
prison break instead.
It was too bad about Sturgis Podmore. He
had been a member of the Order and Harry assumed he had been a decent
person, especially if Dumbledore trusted him. He wondered about Fudge's
motives for extending his prison sentence and worried that the Minister
of Magic might still be trying to resist Dumbledore, albeit not openly
this time. Harry shook his head, not understanding why Fudge had become
so paranoid; Dumbledore rarely ever ventured beyond the confines of
Hogwarts, and his rejection of the nomination for Minister of Magic
should have told Fudge everything he needed to know ages ago. Harry
couldn't understand why Fudge kept resisting when the only thing
Dumbledore wanted was the general good of the wizarding world.
was distracted from his thoughts by the heavy clatter of talons on his
windowsill. He looked up from Ron's letter and saw a large, dark brown
barn owl eyeing him impatiently with its enormous yellow eyes. Harry
put Ron's letter down and got up to check on the newly arrived owl. As
he approached, the owl lifted its leg and revealed an expensive-looking
piece of parchment. Harry took the letter and went to Hedwig's cage to
get an owl treat, but before he had gone two steps the owl hopped
around haughtily and took off, flying away majestically into the early
Harry broke the embossed wax seal on the
parchment and unrolled it, smiling when he saw the letter was from
Neville. His smile turned to a frown, however, when he looked at the
letter and saw the shakiness of the handwriting.
What should I do?
continued to frown as he thought about Neville's options. Even though
Neville was stuck living with his obnoxious grandmother, he did have
more options than Harry. If nothing else, he was in the magical world
rather than the Muggle world and could possibly get help and training
from his grandmother and great-uncle.
Harry went to his
trunk, pulled out a small piece of parchment, and sat at his desk to
write a reply to Neville. When finished, he looked his letter over one
last time, hoping the advice he had given Neville was adequate.
your grandmother and your great-uncle what's going on. Show them the
letter and ask them to arrange some sort of Defence Against the Dark
Arts training for you. Take advantage of the fact you're in the
wizarding world. Also, make sure they get you your own wand -- do NOT
allow them to give you someone else's wand again. If they force you to
take someone else's, sneak off to Diagon Alley on your own, go to
Ollivander's shop and get a wand that selects you. If you need anything
else, let me know. I'll do what I can.
was rather a short letter, but from where he sat, there was little
Harry could do to help Neville except give advice and hope his fellow
Gryffindor took the initiative and followed through. He rolled the
parchment up and sealed it, placing it on the side of his desk to await
The next several days passed in a blur of
chores and study. For once in his life he had actually managed to get
all his homework finished and was ploughing ahead, trying to get a jump
on classwork, especially Potions. Of course, when you avoid sleeping at
all costs you have much more time available for studying, thought Harry
as he closed his Potions textbook. He had had about all he could stand
of that particular subject for the time being.
He looked at
his alarm clock and saw it was four o'clock in the morning. He wasn't
overly concerned about getting to bed at a reasonable hour as all of
his chores for the week had been completed, and he was damned if he was
going to paint the house again this summer. He chuckled a bit as he
decided he needed to draw the line somewhere. Not that it mattered.
Uncle Vernon had yet to order him to do anything, and if Harry was not
mistaken, his uncle was rather surprised that Harry continued with any
chores at all.
Harry sighed, wondering what it was like to
have a real family. He wished he knew what it was like to be loved. He
rubbed his scar absentmindedly as he remembered the dull ache in his
head. It had become so constant he was forgetting it. Realising that
his thoughts were turning maudlin and that this line of thinking would
get him nowhere, Harry decided he would go to bed. He didn't want to.
He didn't want to see Sirius or Cedric dying again, but he had little
choice in the matter. He had to get some sleep sooner or later and it
might as well be now.
Harry got up from the floor and
stretched up on his tiptoes, holding his Potions textbook close to the
ceiling as he did. He brought it down and placed it on his desk gently,
then set his glasses on top of it. Yawning, Harry changed quickly into
pyjamas that were several sizes too large, hand-me-downs from Dudley,
and lay down. He yanked the covers up and laid his head down sideways
on the pillow. An instant later he was asleep.
examined his surroundings hurriedly, nervous to find himself in a dark,
overgrown yard surrounded by people in dark robes with hoods over their
faces. As he heard himself giving orders to them, he realised he was
dreaming. Listening to the Death Eaters answering reverentially, he
knew he was in Voldemort's head once again.
"Are Bellatrix and Lucius in position?" he asked in a quiet voice.
"Yes, my lord," replied a familiar voice.
racked his brain trying to identify the speaker but quit worrying about
it when he felt himself move closer to the house. "Now!" he shouted,
and recited a long incantation in Latin. Harry realised he didn't
recognise the spell and wished Hermione was here to help him. She would
know what it was.
A beam shot upward from Voldemort's
wand, interrupting the darkness with its brightness. As it arced
upward, Harry saw it collide with two other beams, and the darkness
above a house Harry had never seen before took on the look of a
fireworks show. Light and sparks flashed everywhere. They appeared to
be outlining a shield over the house, and Harry wondered whether or not
Voldemort was trying to bring down the wards that protected the house.
Harry felt himself straining as the power left his body. After several
minutes, a flash of light broke over the house and Harry felt himself
"The wards are down!" he shouted in a voice he
recognised as Voldemort's. He watched Death Eaters slowly make their
way up to the house. Voldemort had stayed back, and Harry wondered what
was going on. Bright flashes of light emanating from the house pulled
his attention away from his thoughts. Whoever lived in the house was
putting up a good fight, thought Harry, as he watched several Death
Eaters drop to the ground.
felt his head turn in the direction of the source invoking the
Unforgivable Curse, wondering why his orders not to use the Avada Kedavra
were being disobeyed. He ignored the resulting explosion as the curse
missed its intended target and impacted against the exterior of the
house. He continued looking for the Death Eater responsible for the
incantation, and saw a figure in robes illuminated by the explosion. In
an instant, his wand was up.
he heard himself exclaim in Voldemort's voice. A feeling of
satisfaction came over him when he heard the thud of someone hitting
the ground. He would deal with his disobedient follower later. He
turned his head back to the ongoing battle and watched impassively as
two more Death Eaters were felled by the occupants of the house.
appeared to be two people defending the house, switching positions at
random to keep the Death Eaters off balance. For a few minutes, it
seemed as if they would be able to hold off their attackers, but a
spell from a Death Eater's wand finally took out one of the occupants.
With one person out of the way, the other couldn't keep the entire
house covered. Before long, two Death Eaters slipped inside and managed
eliminate the last person firing on them.
stood impassively as a dark robed person ran up to him."The house is
secure, my lord," stated the Death Eater breathlessly.
felt himself nodding in acknowledgement, then walking forward, through
the yard and into the house. The interior of the house had taken on a
surreal appearance, lit only by the light of flickering torches from
one of the inner rooms. Harry walked toward the light and found himself
in the parlour where three Death Eaters stared down at the Petrified
bodies of two very scared people. Harry felt himself grinning with
satisfaction as his plan was enjoying a successful start.
what I found!" shouted one of the robed and hooded figures as it
entered the room pulling behind it a struggling small child.
Harry could hear the intake of breath from the figures on the floor. Because of the Petrificus Totalis
they had been hit with they could say nothing, but they could watch and
feel. Harry suddenly felt himself laugh. "Feel helpless," he said
quietly to himself as he thought about what he was going to do to the
Harry looked down and saw a pretty little girl
with big, tear-filled blue eyes and short, straight, blonde hair. She
appeared to be so scared that she was incapable of speech. He felt
himself laughing again as he moved his gaze from the little girl back
to the two figures on the floor. As he stared at them, trying to see
their faces in the dim, flickering torchlight, Harry thought he
recognised the woman as one of the members of the Order of the Phoenix
who had escorted him to Grimmauld Place last year.
"So, how shall we begin our entertainment tonight?" Harry felt himself saying.
"Let me begin it, my lord," said Bellatrix Lestrange.
would like to ask for the privilege tonight, my lord," drawled another
voice, which Harry recognised as belonging to Lucius Malfoy.
"No, not you two," Harry heard himself say. "I want the two of you to save your anger for Potter."
"That will not be a problem," said Malfoy.
turned from the two Death Eaters to face the Petrified couple on the
floor. He smiled at the two of them and saw the fear in their eyes. As
he did, his mind began to fill with a hatred of all people: wizard,
Muggle, Squib, and anything in between. It was so extreme it was
painful. As Harry turned to the little girl again, he heard Voldemort's
voice yell, "Crucio!" and heard the screams of the little girl.
The next thing Harry heard were his own screams as he jumped up in his
bed, covered in a cold sweat. The pain in his scar was so intense he
couldn't think; he felt himself becoming nauseous and thought he would
pass out. He collapsed back onto the bed and remained that way for what
seemed like an eternity. As the pain finally subsided, Harry pulled
himself up and looked for Hedwig, who was staring straight at him, her
amber eyes twice the size they normally were.
croaked Harry as he dragged himself off of the bed and sat down on the
chair at his desk. He grabbed a quill and a piece of parchment and
hastily wrote a letter to Dumbledore describing what he had seen. As he
finished, he saw that Hedwig had already jumped to the door of her
cage. He smiled at her and tied the letter to her outstretched leg.
"Take that to Dumbledore for me, would you?" asked Harry.
Hedwig hooted as she jumped off her cage door and flew out the window into the darkness.
knowing what else to do and too exhausted to stay awake, he fell back
into his bed and immediately passed into a restless nightmare-filled
Harry awoke with a start, feeling claws on his chest
once again. "Go to your cage, Hedwig," he muttered sleepily. "Quit
pestering me," he added as the owl stayed put on his chest. "I've only
given you one piece of mail to deliver in days. What is your problem?"
he said, as he pushed the offending owl off his chest and reached for
After settling his glasses on his nose, Harry's
vision became clear once again and he was startled to see a large brown
owl -- which reminded him vaguely of the owls the Ministry of Magic
used -- standing next to him on the mattress. He took the letter which
the bird timidly offered him. The shell-shocked owl immediately
fluttered off the bed and flew out the window, not even waiting for an
"Bloody bird," muttered Harry under his breath as
he checked out the letter. It was made of expensive parchment and had
an elaborate engraving upon it indicating that it was a communication
from the Ministry of Magic. Harry tore it open, hoping that it was not
another letter from the Department of the Improper Use of Magic. He
relaxed a bit when he saw it was the results from his O.W.L.s.
He unfolded it hastily, not bothering to read the greeting from the Ministry's testing group or the Ordinary Wizarding Level Exam Results: Interpretation and Application Instructions
pamphlet, which were also included with the results. Finally he found a
document listing each exam he had taken with the mark recorded next to
it. He had made an 'A' on the Charms exam, which disappointed him a
bit, even though it was a passing mark. Remembering Professor
McGonagall's vow, Harry resolved to apply himself more to his studies
during the next school year. He had made an 'E' in Transfiguration.
Harry smiled when he saw that, knowing that Professor McGonagall would
To his surprise, Harry had also made an 'E' in Herbology. He attributed that mark to Professor Sprout's excellent teaching.
smile became broader when he saw the 'O' he achieved in Defence Against
the Dark Arts, although that mark was no surprise to him considering
the fact that his examiner was clapping as he finished the practical.
So much for Umbridge's opinion, thought Harry, as he wondered what kind
of people worked in the Ministry of Magic and whether or not he really
wanted to answer to Cornelius Fudge. He considered for a moment working
as a free-lance Auror (after all, Professor Lockhart seemed to make
quite a good living appearing to do so), but decided it would probably
be better to go through all the Ministry training first and then decide
what he wanted to do after that.
As he continued to look down
the list, he saw a blank space beside Ancient Runes, an exam he had not
taken, and wondered how Hermione had done. Looking further, Harry
sighed when he saw his Potions mark. He had scored an 'A'. On the one
hand, he was pleased that he had passed the very difficult exam, but on
the other hand, this would keep him out of Snape's N.E.W.T.s class. He
knew Professor McGonagall would be sorely disappointed as it looked
like his chances at becoming an Auror were now a thing of the past;
however, it was rather difficult for him to feel too sorry about it.
There was something to be said for missing out on two additional years
of Snape, whatever the cost. Harry saw another blank space beside
Arithmancy and wondered, once again, how Hermione had done. "Probably
made straight 'O's," he muttered under his breath.
of another 'O' next to Care of Magical Creatures caused Harry to smile
again. He hoped the rest of the class had also received high marks; not
that he wanted to wish anything good on Malfoy and the rest of the
Slytherins, but if they all did well, that would vindicate Hagrid as a
Harry breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the 'A'
beside Astronomy. Personally, he thought the practical should have been
voided due to the attack on Hagrid and given over again on a different
night, but then again, Dumbledore had not been there to take up for the
students -- or Hagrid, for that matter.
The 'P' he saw next to
Divination did not surprise him and he contemplated giving up the
course altogether, but then remembered the prophecy Professor Trelawney
had had about Peter Pettigrew returning to his master just as Harry's
third year had ended. He wondered if he should continue, if only to
stay close to her in case she prophesied again. He decided he would
return to this consideration later.
Harry sighed once more
when he saw the 'D' next to History of Magic, which was no surprise to
him either. "Nothing like a nightmare about your godfather being
tortured to muck up an exam," muttered Harry angrily to himself. He
wondered whether or not continuation in History of Magic was mandatory
or if he would be allowed to forgo the class. He couldn't see much
purpose in it. For most of the students, the only function of the class
was as an afternoon nap period, much like Trelawney's class.
Harry thought about his scores, he groaned as he realised he was going
to have to work harder on his schooling, otherwise the N.E.W.T.s could
ruin his desire to do something useful with his life. Either that, or
he could grab his Firebolt and see about playing professional Quidditch
-- that is, if they ever lifted his lifetime ban.
wondered whether or not his marks would be good enough to allow him to
become an Auror, Harry was brought back to earth by his memory of
Trelawney's first prophecy. Either murdered or murderer, that was his
fate. He crumpled up the test scores and the accompanying paperwork and
threw them into his bin; the thought of wondering if he could ever
become an Auror had been replaced with the thought of wondering if he
would even be alive long enough to take the N.E.W.T.s. He shuddered
angrily as he resolved not to worry about the O.W.L.s ever again.
Staying alive would be his primary concern until either he or Voldemort
Harry stared at the crumpled ball of parchment in
his bin, willing it to be destroyed. "Incendio!" he muttered wishfully,
without thinking or bothering to point his wand at the paper. He jumped
as the crumpled-up parchment exploded in a ball of flames that shot out
of the top of the old metal bin. His exam results and the accompanying
paperwork were consumed in an instant and there was nothing left but
black smoke curling up toward the ceiling. Harry gaped in troubled awe
at the magic he had just performed and wondered if he would soon
receive another owl from the Ministry of Magic. There was something
about being close to the Dursleys, he mused, that just seemed to bring
out the ability in him to perform focused, wandless magic. He sighed
and thought, if he was kicked out of Hogwarts, Dumbledore would have to
take him into the Order of the Phoenix this time...
is it now?" shouted Cornelius Fudge, as he woke from a peaceful slumber
to the voice and face of Mafalda Hopkirk in the fireplace of his
ornately decorated bedroom.
"Minister Fudge, you personally
asked me to contact you if any unauthorised uses of magic were ever
detected at number four, Privet Drive again," whined Mafalda as she
recoiled from Fudge's wrath.
"All right, all right," groused
Fudge sleepily. "What is going on at number four, Privet Drive? Wait a
minute -- isn't that where Harry Potter lives?"
"Yes, sir," replied Mafalda.
hell, what in Merlin's name is wrong now?" moaned Fudge, wondering how
he was ever going to deal with the Harry Potter situation.
"We have detected an illegal use of magic," replied Mafalda.
"What was it?"
"Harry's O.W.L. results were set on fire magically."
"Are you sure it was Harry?" demanded Fudge. "The first time it was a house elf, you know."
yes Minister, we verified that after you mentioned it to us. We changed
the surveillance on the residence. It is far more accurate now than it
was three years ago when that incident occurred."
"You didn't answer my question," interrupted Fudge as a scowl came across his face.
"Yes, sir, well, the problem is that no use of a wand was detected."
"What do you mean by 'no use of a wand was detected'?" shouted Fudge.
"I mean exactly what I said," answered Mafalda as best as she could. "No use of a wand was detected."
"Are you sure it was Potter?"
"As sure as we can be, given the circumstances."
other possibilities are there?" demanded Fudge, fighting off flashbacks
of Salazar Slytherin from his advanced History of Magic classes with
"The only other possibility is that there was
another wizard present using some form of non-standard Invisibility
Spell that shielded them and their wand from notice," replied Mafalda
in a more confident tone.
"And which wizards are known to be capable of such a spell?"
our knowledge, Professor Albus Dumbledore, Professor Minerva
McGonagall, Professor Severus Snape, retired Auror Alastor Moody, a
handful of senior Aurors including Kingsley Shacklebolt, possibly
Lucius Malfoy, and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," replied Mafalda.
shuddered at the mention of Voldemort. "Well, I highly doubt that any
of the aforementioned wizards would be hanging around Harry Potter's
bedroom waiting to set his O.W.L. results on fire," he commented acidly.
"We had thought of that, sir," said Mafalda. "That is why I decided to contact you."
stared at Mafalda's image for a moment, lost in thought. If this was
true, it meant that Harry was capable of focused, wandless magic. Any
wizard who could command that magnitude of power was beyond the control
of the Ministry of Magic. After all, what could the Ministry do to
them? Snapping their wand would make little difference in the
Ministry's ability to regulate their magical abilities. Placing them in
Azkaban, especially now that the Dementors had deserted their posts and
gone over to Voldemort's side, was an exercise in futility. He sighed
and decided that he would do the same thing with Harry that he had done
with Voldemort. He would ignore the issue until he no longer could. He
cleared his throat loudly.
"Mafalda," said Fudge, finally finding his voice, "this never happened."
"What do you mean, Minister?"
Fudge picked up his wand and pointed it at the image in his fireplace. "I mean exactly what I said. Obliviate!"
he commanded and a burst of light shot from the tip of his wand to the
image in the fire. "No unauthorised use of magic was ever detected at
number four, Privet Drive today. On further investigation, it was found
that one of the magical sensors was defective and needed to be
adjusted. Am I clear on this?"
"Yes, sir," intoned Mafalda
mechanically, as if waking up from a hypnotic episode. "No unauthorised
use of magic was detected at number four, Privet Drive today."
muttered Fudge as he put his wand down on his bedside table and pulled
the covers back over him. "Now quit bothering me and get back to work."