Fandom: Harry Potter
Warnings: character bashing
Beta: the most fantastic Edronhia
Summary: What if….what if there was a fraud in their midsts? One wreaking havoc with everyone’s futures and making everyone’s lives hell? What if… what if they were found out?
Note: Canon, what canon? Takes place during first year. Not a fan of…pretty much most anyone.
Here he was in the library, hiding again from that ridiculous girl. Harry was not in the habit of sticking around folk that made him miserable. He did his best to keep away from them in Surrey, he was going to keep doing it here in this crazy place. Who was she to dictate his every move? “I thought I was free here to do as I please with my studies,” Harry mumbled to himself as he rummaged around the shelves next to his chosen seat.
It was fantastic finding this place, him and Neville, this one place where the two of them could relax, study, talk, whatever they wanted — and not be bothered by a mini-dictator or irritating redhead. Nev was wondering if they should bring the other two boys from their dorm in on it, but Harry didn’t have a good feel for their trustworthiness yet.
Bringing out yet another book, this one older looking than the others, Harry flipped it open. He wasn’t really paying attention to what he was reading, but a few lines caught his attention, made him sit up and start from the beginning of the passage.
15 November 1971
That half-blood guttersnipe is really doing it. He is going to hold a handful of indiscretions over my head to get what he wants. Well, so be it. If that little shite is going to blackmail me into helping him pretend to be some amazing “prodigy” in potions, then I am going to get something out of it as well. Merlin knows having your own pet legilimens will come in handy.
He doesn’t know it now, but he’ll owe me down the road hand over fist. He will learn what it is to be of Slytherin House.
Harry went scurrying to another shelf after another two passages that mentioned that word, “legilimens,” looking for a dictionary. It was apparently something important. And this book, this journal that he had found was obviously something significant. Something deep in his soul was telling him so.
What he found made him cold right down to his bones. He needed to see Neville.
“Neville, you need to see this,” Harry said, as he pushed his friend into a rarely used corridor. He checked once more to be sure no one was around.
“See what, Harry?” There was no concern there. Harry was forever finding something new to show him.
Harry brought out an older looking journal, somewhat expensive in nature and handed it over. “There, where I’ve marked it with the card. Read that section.”
Neville peered at his friend for a moment and then followed as directed.
12 January 1971
The guttersnipe is still at it. Mayhaps I should call him guttersnape! Ha! Would he dare curse me if I should call him that to his hideous little face? He won’t shut his mouth about those idiotic Lions, Potter and Black. I can’t blame them, really, for targeting him. His arrogance is astounding if I do say so myself. While he might have a bit of talent in potions, I am not sure how he expects me to get him up to the level of ‘prodigy’ in such a short amount of time. How many upper years’ minds does he think he can mine for information? And how will he put it to use correctly? I am at a real loss as to how he thinks he can carry this off.
I have found that this all began because of his infatuation with that mudblood, Evans. All this over a silly girl! Well, she certainly seems to be falling for his know-it-all ploy. Word around the faculty room is, though, that she is an actual prodigy with charms. Maybe that’s his angle?
Neville looked at the name on the inside cover quickly before he moved on to the next one indicated by his impatient friend.
Professor Horace Slughorn, Head of Slytherin House.
Neville finished reading all the selections and returned the book to Harry to be put away for safekeeping. “I’m assuming you found this in the safe area?”
“Of course I did. If I hadn’t, You-Know-Who would have it by now.”
“You really need to stop calling her that, you know.”
“No, I don’t. She is a terrorist in the making, and you know it. We might just be first years, but she is constantly trying to lord — lady? — her knowledge over us, boss us around, get us in trouble when things don’t go her way, confiscate things she deems contraband — did you see what happened to Jenkins yesterday?” Harry finished in a huff.
“Let’s not forget the inability to find fault in authority. She would totally go running off to someone with this, and probably the wrong someone.”
“But who is the right someone? No one is listening to us about what is happening in class.” Harry sighed in resignation. “And now we know he’s probably reading our minds! Our minds, Nev.”
“That is a real problem. How are we going to keep this from him? I won’t be able to look at him without thinking about it,” Neville replied. Neville thought about the journal again and smiled. “But that is one amazing find, mate. Merlin, I can’t believe that was just laying around.”
It took a week and a half, but both boys settled on asking one of the older boys in Hufflepuff for assistance. He was one of the only ones to not treat either of them as anything other than typical students, as opposed to the rest of the student body. Cedric Diggory never once used that ridiculous moniker when referring to Harry, and never once looked down on Neville, insinuating that he was deficient in any way.
They managed to get him in a semi-secluded area of the hallway without attracting any attention.
“Well, boys, this is quite the problem. I can’t believe — “ Cedric stopped speaking at the hand placed on his mouth.
“Let’s move, to a more comfortable area, please,” Harry requested.
Confused, but willing to go along with it, the other two followed quietly as Harry led Neville and Cedric to the Safe Area.
“What’s this, then?” Cedric asked, looking around the little corner of the library he had never been in before.
“This is where Harry and I go to hide from Her Highness, the Terror of Gryffindor, Hermione Granger,” Neville explained.
“For some reason, she can’t find us here. After the third night of school, once I had shaken that red-headed idiot loose, I was in desperate need of a quiet place to study. I was wandering around the library tables, and sort of made a wish, and this area came into view.” Harry just shrugged his shoulders as if that was enough of an explanation.
Neville rolled his eyes and explained a little more thoroughly. “Hermione decided that everyone in the first year needed her assistance with homework, regardless if we asked for it. She would not take no for an answer. We’re talking snatching parchment from hands and bags, here.
“You know how there are no wards on the boys’ dorms? She started coming into our dorms to go through our trunks to see what we were doing. Harry found her changing his work. ‘Correcting’ it, she claimed –”
“Except it was already correct. She just doesn’t want anyone to get higher marks than her. Did you see her glare at me for answering a question before her in Charms this morning?” Harry interrupted.
“Right, so you both needed a safe place to do your work,” Cedric said.
“Yes, and also research. We found how to protect our trunks from unwanted intruders and other interesting things. Harry found that journal here. And now we don’t know who to trust with it.”
“The thing is,” Harry began, suddenly not as confident, “I’ve not had the best luck with adults. Especially not the adults in this school.”
“Surely, Dumble –”
“Cedric, according to Hagrid, the esteemed and revered Headmaster is the one who placed me in my current residence. My very, very miserable and unsafe residence. We won’t go into it now, but that man has a lot to answer for.” Harry handwaved Cedric’s as of yet unasked questions away. “Not to mention that he and our Head of House are trying to push that human trash can in my direction for some reason.” Both Neville and Harry shuddered in disgust.
“I am going to get Harry to Gringotts over break — somehow — and we are going to take care of it. Please don’t bring it up again,” Neville requested softly.
Cedric sat quietly, digesting all the information he had received both earlier and now. It was beyond him how to put himself in Harry’s shoes.
But that wasn’t the current problem. Or not the whole current problem. Currently, they needed to put this information — this outrageous and dangerous information — out there and through trustworthy people. But who was trustworthy?
“Right. So I think I know who to contact.” Hand was up to forestall questions. “I am tempted to go through the niece, but within five minutes it would be all over school.”
“That’s why I didn’t go to her, and I’m not — well, her Aunt would laugh me out of the room since every rumor out there has me as a squib,” Neville mumbled.
“Who are the two of you speaking about?” Harry asked, frustrated by his lack of knowledge.
“Madam Bones, Susan Bones’ Aunt. She is the head of the DMLE.” At Harry’s blank look, he explained further what that stood for and her role and those that worked for her.
“Is there a way to get her here without tipping off the Old Man or the Fraud?” Harry asked. “The last thing we both want to do is ruin our chance of getting rid of our tormentor.”
“Oh, Merlin! Do you think the Headmaster knew he was a fake this whole time?” Neville asked.
“Let’s leave that for the DMLE to figure out,” Cedric said, not wanting to touch that one with a ten-foot pole. “Also, human trash can?”
“Ron,” both boys answered at once.
“That stupid git keeps proclaiming to be my best friend, but I can’t stand him,” Harry said, sighing in resignation.
“All of us can tell Harry wants nothing to do with him, but Ron keeps talking about how he is the best mate of the Boy-Who-Lived, and everyone else needs to back off. Yet, Harry never spends any time with him and does his best to stay as far from him as possible. Harry even told him to piss off in the middle of the common room and that at no point did he agree to anything that he’s been telling people. That if he’d known he was such a bully, he would never have sat with him on the train in the first place.”
“How did Ron react?”
“Claimed Harry was going Dark.”
Cedric stared open-mouthed at the other two in shock.
“Yeah, this is when McGonagall started getting involved, and I have no idea why. Especially when she lets That Terror run around free.”
“You know she’s her favorite and turns a blind eye to everything she does,” Neville commented, beginning to gather his things.
“Yeah, yeah. I know.” Harry also made sure all of his things were secured in his bag before looking back to Cedric.
“Cedric, are you able to make a couple copies of that for us, please, just in case the original disappears?”
“Sure, no problem. I’ll make one for each of us, and give the original to Madam Bones, okay?”
“Thank you, Cedric,” Harry said, taking his copy and adding it to his bag. “Here’s hoping that there might actually be some changes in the future.
“Yeah, hopefully, changes for the better,” Neville added.
Madam Amelia Bones was very curious about the missive she had received from Cedric Diggory. She was very tempted to question her niece about it, but she, too, was aware of Susan — and Hannah’s — penchant for gossip. Seeing as Cedric had taken the time to put on the secrecy and security spells so that only she could read the message, it behooved her to take her own precautions, as well. That meant hearing him out before bringing anyone else in.
As the following day was a Hogsmeade visit for the upper years, it would do for way to meet with him without having to step foot on Hogwarts grounds. She quickly penned a note to that effect, arranging to meet with him in one of the side boutiques, not frequented by students on the regular, and to keep the meeting to himself.
Curious, very curious.
“I did some more reading,” Harry informed Neville as they headed to breakfast on Saturday morning. “It said in this one book that if we don’t know occlu — something or other –”
“What?” Neville asked, looking at him like he was crazy.
“I can’t pronounce it. It’s the opposite of what the Fraud is doing. It protects your mind, but it takes time to learn and everything. So if you don’t know how to do it, then you should avoid looking into his eyes. Stare over his shoulder or right above his head or just something like that.”
“But you know he won’t let us get away with that, he’ll grab us or –”
“And so what? I didn’t give him permission to touch me, did you? Make one hell of a scene, man. For God’s sake — I mean Merlin — ugh, whatever. Thor. Just, make a big deal about him touching you without him being allowed to.”
At Neville’s wide-eyed look, Harry continued, “Did you know in the muggle world, it’s a firing offense, touching a child like that. Even the way he speaks to us — that would get him fired. I have to tell you, Nev, there is very little about this world that has impressed me, that makes me think my parents died for something worthy.”
“Merlin, Harry, that’s — really, I don’t — I can’t,” Neville stuttered as they still trailed after their classmates. They walked in silence for a moment. “I don’t know what to say to that, Harry, I really don’t.”
“That’s okay, it’s just how I feel right now. Maybe we can talk to those Goblins about it when we see them.”
“Yes, all right. Yes.” Neville just kept clenching and unclenching his hands, upset that his friend felt so negatively about his world, but also that it never occurred to him that he could tell an adult no about his treatment.
Cedric managed to slip away without anyone volunteering to come along by some miracle. Who was he to look a gift hippogriff in the beak? The horror of what he read still had him reeling. Teachers reading students minds without permission, teachers lying about their credentials, the headmaster probably knowing about all of it…it was just a lot to handle.
The pottery shop was very dull on the outside, a minimal display in the window. However, upon entering it was a whole different world. All around were different tea sets made from the most delicate china, and dessert plate sets in a variety of designs for every occasion. A menu was set up for the charms one would want to add to the collections, be it for a wedding gift, anniversary gift, birthing gift, etc.
Cedric gingerly made his way through the displays and passed through a curtained off area to a private meeting room, as the proprietor of the shop indicated he should. There sat the Director in understated robes, alert and ready to get down to business.
“Well, Cedric, let’s get on with it, shall we? There’s not much time before people start wondering where you’ve gone off to.” Amelia pulled out the chair next to her and waited for him to sit down.
“I don’t think there is really much to say, rather than for you to read. And once you’ve read it, the people you should be questioning are Neville and Harry,” Cedric said quietly as he handed over the journal. “They are the ones who found this and are also the ones who are suffering the most under his hands.”
Amelia stared at him for a moment before nodding once and checking the journal for curses. Opening to the first page, she began to read. She immediately understood why all three boys were so cautious.
“Why did you not bring this to the Headmaster?”
“Harry said — well –” Cedric seemed hesitant to answer.
“Cedric, I assume you mean Harry Potter. And earlier, you mentioned Neville — Neville Longbottom?”
“Yes, exactly. Well, Harry said that he doesn’t trust the Headmaster, not since he found out that he was the one responsible for leaving him with his horrible relatives. He said a lot of things that — Neville said he is going to sneak Harry out someone over the break to the Goblins to find out some stuff because Harry doesn’t know things he is supposed to know.”
Amelia took a moment to let that sink in. “All right, there is a lot to unpack there, but that isn’t your job or your concern. I will need to continue reading this in a more secure environment, and then I might have questions for Mr. Potter and Mr. Longbottom.” Amelia forestalled Cedric’s question before a peep could be made. “I will take care to do it off grounds and without any outside interference.”
“And without Susan knowing?”
Amelia’s lip quirked a bit, and she merely bent her head slightly in acknowledgment.
A huge sigh of relief and Cedric stood. “Thank you, Madam Bones. I have no idea where this will go, but I hope that it does lead to some changes. Those first years — that man is a menace. I can’t even imagine how many potions masters we have lost out on because of him.”
“Yes, I agree.”
Putting the book down for the final time, Amelia sat back and contemplated what she had just read. There was a lot to unpack there, and where to begin? With Snape? Slughorn? Definitely not Dumbledore, that man was too slippery.
With a sigh the director of the DMLE set about finding the previous head of Slytherin house, Professor Slughorn, to ask him some questions. But first, she needed to be sure she had some help on her side — help that wouldn’t go running to one of her other targets straight away. This mess was way too big for her to handle on her own.
What she needed was an Unspeakable.
And maybe someone on the inside. But who?
It took a moment, but after quickly going through all the adults within the castle in her mind, Amelia figured there was only one that could be trusted to use their brains and not run right to the Headmaster. Calling her House Elf, Inky, she prepared a discreet letter requesting to meet in Hogsmeade under the guise of parent/teacher conference. She hoped Filius understood the whole of it. Making sure the proper charms for secrecy were on it to be read only by the intended recipient, she gave to Inky for delivery.
“Well, Amelia, I’m not sure what you would need to see me about so early in the year. Susan hasn’t had a chance to really get in trouble, and she isn’t quite the trouble-making sort,” Filius started off as he sipped tea. He took note of the decorations in the tea house the Director had asked to meet at, never having been here before.
The tea house was tucked at the back of two of the homes in the village, ownership shared by the families there. Students generally did not frequent the place, and so it was a good place to escape them and most of the foot traffic in the village. Just as well, Amelia still put up a privacy spell and border spell just in case.
“Are those really necessary?” The professor asked.
“Oh, yes. Yes, they are. Let me explain my headache to you, so you may share in this catastrophe decades in the making.”
And all Filius Flitwick could answer two hours later was, “Oh, dear Merlin. The Horde must be told immediately.”
The two of them opted to travel to the bank right then so as to get everything out of the way. Suddenly, it seemed crucial to complete this task sooner rather than later. The feeling of urgency was thick and heavy in the air.
Filius took them through three different Goblins before they were led to a door with POTTER written on plaque beside it. “Enter!” a voice commanded from within.
A stoic, not quite elderly Goblin sat at a large desk, full of trays with a decent amount of scrolls among them. A nameplate with Glancer graced the front of the desk facing two chairs for guests. Glancer indicated that the two of them should sit.
“What do you want?”
“Yes, good to see you, too, cousin,” Filius commented, making himself comfortable.
“Well, let’s get down to it,” Glancer said expectantly.
It took all of twenty minutes before Glancer held up a hand to pause the explanations so he could call in a few more Goblins. The only one of note was Ragnok, the Head, who just nodded silently for them to continue once he read the notes his employee handed over.
Another hour of explanations, suppositions, copy of the journal, and then more questions and three angry Goblins stood facing the two guests.
“So to recap, we have a potions ‘master’ responsible for a decade of disastrous attempts at more potioneers from this country; said potions ‘master’ also violating numerous minds for untold years; a Headmaster complicit in the fraud as well as raping young minds; same man responsible for the kidnapping and mishandling of the Heir of an Ancient and Noble House and Presumptive Heir of another Ancient House.
“I want those young ones brought here tomorrow night for evaluation and questioning.” Ragnok was not a happy Goblin to say the least.
“Getting them out will not be easy,” Filius spoke up. “Especially not with Peter there watching, however that is happening.”
“Glancer will give you instructions on where to bring them to activate a portkey. The portkey will bring you directly to this office.” Ragnok seemed completely calm — not worried one iota about portkeying two students out of a warded castle right out from under the nose of what was considered the most powerful wizard alive.
“How do you expect to portkey two students out of Hogwarts without setting off the wards or alerting the spy? Or spies, rather?” Amelia asked.
Glancer paused in his task and asked, “And who would be the second spy?”
“Ah, I think the Director is referring to young Mr. Weasley. I, too, have noted that the boy continuously attempts to get close to Mr. Potter and is rebuffed on every turn. However, this does not seem to dissuade him. His mother is very close to the Headmaster.”
“Yes, that is who I meant. Susan’s letters are full of his antics at meal times and how Mr. Longbottom and Potter do their best to stay away from him. Well, him and and Ms Granger, but that is an entirely different story, I hear.”
“Yes, one I hope to speak to them about tomorrow, since they’ll be a captive audience, so-to-speak,” Filius agreed.
“Excellent. There is only one space, which we are fairly sure is unknown to the Headmaster still, that is available to us for this endeavor. Before you do this, take care to check for any tracking spells on your charges and all their belongings.”
The next day was a bit of a trial for the Charms professor. On the positive side, he did have the two boys in his class that afternoon. On the negative side, Ms. Granger was also in the class and was entirely too curious about why he wanted them to stay after. It seemed she thought it was also her business to hear everything as well and would not leave the classroom.
“Ms. Granger, I have asked you already once to leave the room, and I will not ask again. It is the teacher’s prerogative to have a conversation with his students. It is their right whether or not to share said conversation with you. You have no right to demand such things from either of us, have I made myself clear? Out. Now.”
All three waited until she had exited and the professor had put up a privacy charm to begin speaking. “Well, boys, it seems we have a spot of adventure on our hands. Mr. Longbottom, your plan to see the Goblins has been moved up to tonight, and I will be going with you to make sure nothing gets in the way. Madam Bones will meet us there.”
Harry and Neville looked at their professor and then each other in surprise, and not a little bit of hope. Never had they dreamed that things would move this quickly or to their advantage.
“Where and when are we meeting? And how are we getting around Ron Weasley?” Neville asked.
“Yes, really. That git just won’t leave me alone. Every time I leave the dorm and it’s not time for class he is on me about where I am off to. And if it’s not him, it’s that nutter you just kicked out of class,” Harry ranted.
“Yes, well, that’s the easy part. At 21:00 close the curtains on your beds and lock them. A house elf will appear and take you to meet me in another room. From there we will go to the bank. You’ll be returned to your bed the same way.
“Both the Goblins and Madam Bones have a lot of questions for the two of you, but you are not in trouble. Please keep that in mind.”
“Yes, sir,” they both replied.
“And if that girl out there harasses you, I’ve made you partners for the duration of the year because you work so well together.
“But also, Neville, incidentally, I have noticed that there is an issue with your wand.”
“Yes, sir, sorry, sir.” Neville looked down in embarrassment. “My Grandmother wouldn’t let me get a new one, made me come with my father’s.”
“Well, that just won’t do!” Filius was shocked. “Of all the silly things — that woman! And why hasn’t Minerva — never mind.” After getting himself under control, he continued, “We need to get you a new wand before you do yourself any damage, young man. We’ll speak more about it tonight, all right?”
“Yes, sir,” Neville responded, this time with a smile.
Obviously, Hermione had tired of waiting for them in the hallway, so had gone on to the Great Hall for dinner. Most of the students were already in attendance, along with most of the professors, with the exception of the Headmaster, Snape, and Hagrid. Professor Flitwick, of course, was still in his classroom.
Upon seeing them enter the room, she called attention to them right away. “And just where have you two been? Don’t tell me the professor has been talking to you this whole time? What could you two have possibly done to get in that much trouble?”
Her voice had carried over the whole hall, quieting everyone in the process.
“Oh look, Nev, it’s She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” Harry said in the flattest tone possible.
Neville buried his face in his hands in dismay. “Harry, I thought we agreed not to say that out loud anymore.”
“How dare you call me that!” Hermione screeched.
“Why? Does the truth hurt?” Harry asked, still unconcerned with the events occurring in front of him.
“I am not — I am not the same as him.” Hermione punctuated each word with a pointed finger and stamp of the foot.
“Well, you kind of are. You’re definitely an emotional terrorist,” Harry began.
“And you’re a personal space terrorist,” Neville continued.
“You terrorize anyone who disagrees with you in the least,” Dean spoke up from the table.
“If anyone refuses to share their books or knowledge with you, you take it without asking,” Fred joined in.
“Or in Jenkins case, you destroy what you don’t like, even though it isn’t your property,” George added. “He’s not even in your year, for Merlin’s sake, and was taking a study break. What gave you the right?”
“And why was I not informed?” Professor McGonagall asked from the dais.
“Well, Professor, you’ve made it clear so far this year that Hermione can do no wrong, even if it’s done right in front of you. We, the members of the House — and probably some outside of it — have attempted to speak to you about it, but you would not hear of it.” Harry was just done with his Head of House. “In fact, you’ve pretty much abandoned us since the sorting feast, so I’m not exactly sure why you’re trying to act like you care now.”
“Well, I never –” she started.
“Exactly, you never. Never. Ever.” Neville finished.
“50 points from Gryffindor for insubordination,” McGonagall responded automatically.
“Who cares? You’ll just give it back to your little pet there the next time she bats an eyelash at you,” Harry said walking around the girl in question to get himself some food.
The Weasley twins graciously made space for both him and Neville and helped fill their plates up for them. Both Harry and Neville even managed to get quite a bit of food into themselves before the Transfiguration professor and Hermione managed to regroup and demand their attention again.
“Detention, one week, with Professor Snape,” McGonagall pronounced in anger.
“Did you catch that, Neville? We just got detention with the teacher that has made it plain he detests us for breathing because we pointed out to another teacher that she lets her pet student terrorize her other students. Quality caregiving at its best. Gold star standard, yeah?” Harry snarked at his friend as he reached for his water.
“But Harry, Hogwarts is the best magic school in the world,” Neville replied, sarcasm dripping off every word.
The twins almost fell off the benches they were laughing so hard at this point, Lee had his face folded in his arms on the table, shaking in laughter as well.
“Are you arguing with me, young man? Another 50 points!”
Spending all that time in the library, Harry wasn’t exactly wasting time. He’d found quite a few resourceful books there. For example, the Hogwarts Charter and Student Rule Book.
Harry looked at her in silence for a moment before stating in a confident voice, “Challenge.”
“What nonsense are you –” the professor began.
“I challenge the detention on the grounds it is uncalled for. I dispute the points deficit on the grounds it is undeserved.”
And from from the very walls themselves was heard “APPROVED ON ALL COUNTS” in a deep bass tone.
“Well, guess that’s that. Thanks for playing,” Harry said, gathering his belongings and his friend.
In the hallway the two of them ducked into a shortcut passageway they had found to get to the library quicker. Once in their safe space they spread out their books and relaxed.
“Holy Merlin, Harry, what was that?” Neville asked, still in shock.
“That, Neville, was me grasping at straws and hoping that what I had read in the books here still held true. Besides, I didn’t want anything to mess up being able to get a good night’s sleep, you know?”
“Yeah, yeah. Right.” Neville took a moment to revel in his friend’s ability to think on his feet like that before digging into his homework.
The two worked until almost lights out, and then went right up to their dorm room and got ready for bed, ignoring everyone else.
Glancer went about informing both young men about the agenda of the evening, including that he wanted his charge to see a Goblin Healer. “We will get to the interview as soon as you are looked over, I promise,” he told the anxious boy.
An angry healer handed over her official report an hour later. “The boy will need to return for treatments — multiple treatments — and will have to take these potions for at least two months to make up for whoever has been watching him. The results speak for themselves.
“However, I did remove all the curses I found. Why no one took the time to do so beforehand, I have no idea. A simple finite was all it took for almost all of them.” The healer huffed in annoyance as she produced a second report. “You can see here the signatures of those who placed what. I am not impressed.”
Glancer and Ragnok looked over the reports together, the anger was palpable as both of them reached the end. Silently, Ragnok made a copy and handed it to Madam Bones for her own assessment.
Now deathly pale, Amelia put the report carefully down on the desk before her and turned to Harry. “Mr. Potter, in light of these reports, perhaps we should start with your home life and then we will move on to Hogwarts and your discoveries there.”
Harry looked at the papers on the desk with curiosity, but knew they were pressed for time. “Right, okay. How much do you want to know? Who they are? What school was like? What exactly are you looking for here?”
“Mr. Potter,” Ragnok said, “We would like to know the cause of these results in the reports. It says here you are malnourished and have several broken bones that were not healed correctly.”
“Oh, that.” Taking a deep breath, Harry contemplated what to do. He studied the adults around him closely. “And if I tell you about that, will something actually be done? Or are you just going to try to figure out another way to keep me quiet?”
“And what do you mean by that, young man?” Amelia asked, alarmed by the question.
“Well, it’s not like a couple of teachers over the years haven’t noticed that there is something wrong in my house. I’m not an idiot, you know. I know that what’s happening to me isn’t right. But any time someone tries to stop it, they disappear, or they are convinced that I am the one spreading lies. The next day anyone involved suddenly forgets that a complaint was made or that an investigation was going to be started. I learned a while ago not get my hopes up.
“I’ve been a veritable slave in my house since I was old enough to reach the stove, old enough to handle a broom on my own, old enough to handle the gardening. Until those damn letters came, I was pretty sure that was going to be my life until I could test out of school and get away somehow. My relatives had everyone in the neighborhood convinced I was some sort of troublemaker, and because my idiot of a cousin was such a dunce I wasn’t allowed to get better grades than him.
“And then those stupid letters — which were actually addressed to my cupboard, mind you, the cupboard under the stairs, my bedroom — and my relatives started freaking out to a whole new level. And that oaf Hagrid showed up to tell me about this ‘wonderful’ new world all the while threatening them with magic. Made my summer ten times worse when we got back from shopping. Did you know he gave my cousin a pig’s tail? I was not impressed. The man might act all sweet, but he had no business being the one introducing me to anything, especially when I learned that everyone else had a professor come to their homes.
“And on top of all that, the man wouldn’t let me get anything not on the list! It was obvious I needed more clothing, more books, more everything. He kept taking things out of my pile. I wanted more information about this new world, but he wouldn’t let me. ‘No, the Headmaster said just what’s on the list now, Harry.’ Ugh.” Harry grumbled, not caring that everyone around him was gawping at this point.
“And then after suffering through another month with my horrendous relatives who were just scared witless by that buffoon, I get on this train — which he had forgotten to tell me how to do, by the way — and this red-headed idiot lies his way into my compartment. Now, I was eager to meet new people, so I let it slide. But the first thing he does is start in on seeing my scar and asking about the night my parents died. Everything out of his mouth was about my fame, my money. I made some excuse and got out of there, found Neville along the way.”
Neville picked up the story from there. “I was trying to find my toad, and Hermione Granger was lecturing me on magic for some reason. Harry saved me by telling me he knew someone who could help me, and dragged me off without so much as letting me have a word in response,” he told the adults in the room with a little laugh.
“Your reports are somewhat alarming, as well, Mr. Longbottom,” the healer said, handing over the reports to all involved. “It seems that you have some blocks on you, some curses and jinxes as well. The blocks are from the same signature as most of the damage on Mr. Potter, however, the other issues are from another offender.”
Neville just nodded, pale, and unable to make any sound come out of his mouth for a moment.
Harry decided to lend his friend a hand. “Neville has told me some things about his home life, and since he seems unable to, maybe I should share them.” With a nod from Neville, Harry continued. “Neville has told me about his uncle that has set some ‘tests’ to try and get him to do accidental magic before Hogwarts. All sorts of dangerous stunts that probably would have killed a regular kid, actually. That in and of itself should have clued the moron in, but he just kept on torturing poor Nev, and his Grams just kept on letting it happen.”
Amelia and Filius both listen on with wide eyes as the Goblins took note of everything being said.
The healer was not done, though. “You, too, will need to come in for treatments. Getting rid of those blocks, and the subsequent training for your magic will take time.”
“Yes, ma’am. Whatever I need to do — we need to do — we’ll do,” Neville agreed.
“You had something else you wanted to speak about, Mr. Potter?” Amelia asked, adjusting her monocle to sit comfortable around her neck.
“Yes, thank you, Director. It’s just –” Harry stopped, fidgeting some, unsure how to continue.
“Just tell her what you told us, Harry,” Neville encouraged his friend. “It might sound out there, but consider who is involved.”
Taking a deep breath, Harry nodded to himself and sat up straight, determined to continue. “Right. I was on my way to the library when I overheard the Headmaster and Snape speaking quietly. I was going to just sneak by, when I heard them mention me. They were upset that I wasn’t friends with that complete git, Weasley, and that the little house terrorist didn’t have me under her thumb.”
Filius and Amelia spared a speaking glance for each other before turning back to the young men in front of them. “Perhaps you should explain that a bit more,” Amelia requested.
“Right, Ron Weasley has made it plain since the train ride that he only wants to be friends with the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ and has been angry every since he realized that it just wasn’t going to happen. He’s a bit of a bully, really.”
“No manners, either,” added Neville. “Always insulting anyone who isn’t pureblood, or who disagrees with him. Thinks the Headmaster will get him out of any problems. The twins try to take him in hand, but there is only so much they can do.”
“And the other one? The — what did you call her? — terrorist? Who is that?” Filius asked.
“That Granger girl. I know you all love her because she answers questions in class, but honestly, sir, the rest of us can’t stand her. And it isn’t because we’re jealous. It’s because she takes every opportunity to make sure we know that she knows more than us — regardless if we actually do know the answer or not — and that we are all lower than her on the intelligence scale.”
“She has decided that only she knows the right way to do homework, the right answers to the homework, and your opinions on her correcting your homework are invalid.” Neville’s face was red with anger now.
“We learned real quick how to spell our belongings to keep unwanted people out of them so she would stop stealing our papers to change them.” Harry took out two scrolls from his bag to show them. “Here you can see what I mean. I kept it just in case I ever came across a professor that would actually listen to what I was saying. Granger would nip into the boys dorm — there’s no ward there like on the girls dorms — and rifle through our stuff to find our finished essays. She then rewrites them.”
Neville huffed in frustration as he interrupted his friend again. “However, she isn’t rewriting them to make them better, no. She is making sure that her paper is the best, so if she finds that yours is getting too close to getting a better grade, she will dumb it down.”
“This obsessional behavior sounds worrying,
Filius took the two scrolls to read over and, to his disbelief, found that the two boys were telling the truth. He recognized Ms. Granger’s handwriting all over the
“But that does not quite make her a terrorist,” commented Amelia.
“No, her screeching and lecturing anyone who doesn’t follow her rules, does.” Neville started pacing as he explained. “She rips things out of your hands to see that you are following her instructions and not off doing something ‘unapproved’, so to speak. If you are not following her study schedule, you are interrogated.”
“Granger considers everything her business, you see. She thinks because she wants to know, she has the right to know, and McGonagall and all the other professors just pat her on the head like she is the second coming of Einstein,” Harry said wearily.
“Like earlier, when she decided she had a right to stay and listen when Professor Flitwick wanted to speak with us privately after class.” Everyone turned to the professor for confirmation.
“Quite true, quite true. I had to tell her multiple times to leave and that she had no place sticking her nose into their business. It was their choice to share our conversation or not,” Filius explained.
Harry picked up the thread again. “I’m sure you’ve heard about her little tantrum in the Great Hall. She really acts like she has the right to tell us what to do, where to be, what to study, who to talk to — basically the right to be the boss of us. This is what prompted us to find a place to be that wasn’t in the dorms. And it’s also why I wasn’t sure about that last part that the Headmaster said.”
“What last part?” Both Amelia and Filius asked at the same time.
“Well, after commenting on me not making friends with the right people and such, they said that Peter hadn’t reported on anything happening in the dorms. But I don’t remember there being a Peter in Gryffindor.”
“Peter? There is no Peter in Gryffindor,” the Charms professor confirmed. “Did they say anything more in relation to him?”
“Snape called him something else, I assume it’s his surname. Petty something, I can’t remember, sorry,” Harry apologized.
“Petty –” Amelia’s mouth closed slowly and then went to a thin line before she spoke again. “Do you mean Pettigrew? Peter Pettigrew?”
“Yes, yes, that’s it,” Harry agreed, nodding excitedly. “Do you know him?”
Taking in the Director’s pale complexion, Filius decided to end the meeting and let her get on with her business. “We’ll explain another time, Mr. Potter. I think Director Bones needs to leave right now. You’ve just given her some very important information.”
“And now there are even more Heirs in peril,” interjected Ragnok, who had been silent for this last conversation. “If what I gather is true, then we need to call in the Black account manager and also the Lord of the House.”
“Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, will someone please explain what had Madam Bones flying out of here, and why another account manager is needed?” Harry asked, exasperated.
“What is a pogo stick and who is on it?” Neville whispered with curiosity.
“Oh, for — never mind. I know you keep swearing to Merlin as if he’s a deity of some kind, but he was a man — wizard, whatever — not a god or in
Glancer chuckled in amusement as he sent off the notes for the people indicated. “Look at that, a wizard using logic,” he said softly.
“Mr. Potter, Harry,” Filius began, “there is entirely too much to go into right now, but in short, this man that the Headmaster was speaking about is supposed to be dead. He was supposed to be killed by another man who was said to be the traitor that led to your parents’ death. I’m so sorry.”
Harry was quiet for a moment as he digested this information. “Can I read the transcripts from his trial? This traitor, I mean.”
“I’m fairly sure Amelia has gone to retrieve that as part of her tasks just now.”
The head Unspeakable put down his copy of the journal and proceeded to pour himself a healthy glass of whiskey. Amelia kept silent as she waited for his thoughts on the entire debacle that was sure to come. Croaker had already thrown a fit when she had presented him with the trial transcripts — or rather, lack thereof — and the OWLS and NEWTS results for the last 12 years, not to mention all the memories she had borrowed from multiple students after leaving the bank.
“I knew we should have chucked that little shit in Azkaban the moment he was dragged into the courtroom all those years ago, Albus be damned!” Another two fingers of whiskey poured. “And Albus, oh, Albus. We’ve been looking for dirt on that man — concrete dirt, mind you — for ages. It seems like nothing sticks to him. But here we are, in black and white, party to fraud, mind rape, stalking, harassment, assault, and a whole litany of other charges.”
Croaker pat the book on his desk with fondness at all he could with it. “And the original? As this is obviously a copy.”
“Ah, yes. The original is in a safe place. I have taken an oath not to repeat it’s location so that it’s safety is assured.”
Croaker laughed in appreciation and lifted a hand in a symbol of surrender. “Good enough, I can appreciate paranoia in a case like this. When those two are involved, it pays to take every precaution possible.”
“Yes, well, do I need to mention what sort of mess the school itself is turning out to be? The more I hear the more I want to pull Sue out and homeschool her,” Amelia opined.
After bringing the empty Black folder back to the bank, Harry had pretty much exploded. He had went off on how it was “no wonder the justice system is so shoddy when the school system is lacking.” When asked to explain, both Neville and Harry had gone over all the problems they had had so far, outside just the potions classroom. Besides the Ms. Granger issue, it seemed that their Defense teacher was useless, they were all exhausted due to the scheduling of Astronomy, History was useless, the staff took no responsibility for the actions of the students whatsoever, and actively encouraged the enmity between houses.
“It’s like you aren’t allowed to be smart if you aren’t in Ravenclaw, or a hard worker if you aren’t Hufflepuff. Friendship between houses is anathema, especially the Lions and Snakes. But if you go to the library or one of the open rooms, everyone is pretty much teaching themselves, because what’s happening in the classroom is apparently only ¼ of what is on the exams.”
Neville chimed in with the fact that no staff member really had the time to listen to anything the students had to say either — especially the Gryffindor head of house.
“Well Amelia,” Croaker said after hearing all of this, “it looks like we have some people to pull in and interrogate.”
“But how? You know Albus has people everywhere — even here. We don’t’ want him or Snape tipped off.”
“I will take care of it.”
One by one suspects were brought in, all in the dead of night straight from their beds. No wards were tripped and none of them had a chance to call for help. The Goblins joined them for the interrogations, willing to make this a joint venture as some of their top clients were affected so severely. All interviews took place at the bank itself for security reasons.
The list wasn’t long: Horace Slughorn, Master Maximo Intali, Aberforth Dumbledore, Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy, Augustus Rookwood. The main players, Albus and Severus, would wait for another time.
It was decided that instead of calling the Wizengamot to bring a full trial about, they would use the old protocols and call for a Tribunal of Elders. Both Croaker and Ragnok were of one mind that most of those sitting in the vaunted seats of the Wizengamot were corrupted souls and could not be trusted.
“The magic of the courtroom needs to be looked at, as it should be preventing any such things from happening. Someone has broken the Seal for the infection to have gone so deep and for so long.” Ragnok paced his office in anger and disgust. Once the tribunal is over, the investigation into this crime against magic will commence.”
The interviews themselves took time. As a precaution, Ragnok had curse breakers first evaluate each of the wizards and witches waiting to be questioned. It was lucky he did, otherwise they would never have found the insidious curse laid by Snape upon anyone involved in his scheme. Compulsion charms were found with Dumbledore’s signature as well. At that point, another diagnostic was performed to suss out any potions that could have been used on these people with or without their knowledge. Again, unsurprising results considering who they were speaking about.
Finally, the Tribunal was ready to go forth.
To be continued…