Harry Potter and the Daemon Sidhe


Story Summary:
In the aftermath of the events of the Ministry, Harry is in dire need of help. That help arrives in the form of six mysterious people, along with his friends and even foes, who give him the strength and support he will need to defeat Voldemort. Written post-OotP but will take some factors of HBP into account.

Chapter 10 - 10

Chapter Summary:
Harry has a strange and hopeful dream that leads to confrontations with his court, Severus and Dumbledore. Harry finally gets some answers from the Headmaster and makes a revelation of his own.

  • Chapter 10

When Harry and the others materialised in Dreamtime, they found the Daemon Sidhe waiting for them with looks of concern.

"Is everything alright?" Asa asked. "You're late."

"I was called to a meeting," Severus explained before anyone else could say anything. "There was a bit to deal with in the aftermath."

Gwydion's eyes narrowed as he looked at both Harry and Snape. "You two are suffering the after effects of some kind of odd spell," he said with growing alarm. "It's affected your nerve endings. They're recovering but they have been damaged."

Asa gasped and looked at the two men in question carefully. "You're right, Gwydion," she said, a little distracted. "You'll recover fully." She looked over at Snape. "Did you use some kind of potion to treat it?" Snape nodded. "What caused this?" she asked sternly.

"It's called the Cruciatus curse," Harry said slowly.

"Cruciatus," Gwydion repeated in a faintly horrified tone. "What does it do?"

Harry looked over at Severus and Remus and raised an eyebrow.

"It causes pain," Severus said flatly. "Intense pain. It stimulates the nerve endings into thinking that the body is being subjected to that pain. Prolonged exposure can cause insanity."

Neville whimpered and ducked his head. Harry stepped over beside him and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. The Daemon Sidhe looked at them with a questioning expression.

Harry murmured a quiet question in Neville's ear and received a small nod in return.

"Neville's parents were subjected to the Cruciatus," he said simply and with great sympathy. "They are...insane."

The Daemon Sidhe nodded in understanding.

"You have some knowledge of this spell," Kolos observed to Severus.

The Potions Master nodded then he hesitated for a long moment. "In my youth, I made a...foolish decision. I was young, angry and determined to prove myself. I...joined with Voldemort." There were a few sharp indrawn breaths from the Daemon Sidhe. Severus ignored them and turned to face Harry before continuing. "I realised quite quickly that I had made a mistake. I thought they had accepted me as an equal but in actuality they were more interested in what I could do for them. Voldemort had need of a Potions Master and I was...courted for that reason alone. But I had no idea how to correct my mistake. It was made quite clear that there was no leaving Voldemort's service and if any were in doubt about that, the aftermath of Regulus Black's attempt at defection certainly convinced them. Thus I threw myself on Dumbledore's mercy. I had no choice; I no longer wished to live my mistake but could not find a way to rectify it on my own."

"So Dumbledore asked you to spy for the Order," Harry said slowly.

"He offered it as a choice," Severus corrected. "He said that I had two options. One, I could go into hiding; it would have to be somewhere other than England, of course, and it would be for an indeterminate period of time. Or...I could return to Voldemort and spy for the Order. Dumbledore would protect me as best as he could and offer me a sanctuary at Hogwarts."

Harry nodded slowly; pleased that the Headmaster had offered that choice, even though it really was a Clayton's choice. Harry had seen the effects of being confined and hidden for an indeterminate period with Sirius and he suspected that Severus would have reacted much the same. Instead the man had taken the far more dangerous option that left him with his freedom. Harry closed his eyes and sighed; wishing that Sirius had been offered that option as well.

Severus had been watching the play of emotions on Harry's face and his voice when he continued was oddly uncertain. "I am not a nice man, Harry. I have used the Cruciatus in the spirit for which it was created. I did hate as much as any other Death Eater. I once embraced Voldemort's plans whole-heartedly." He stopped at that point and simply waited.

Harry opened his eyes and looked at Severus, drawing that air of command, of kingship around him. "Have used. Did hate. Once embraced," he said calmly. "These words are far more important than anything else you have said, Severus. You are no longer that man. I have seen that in your mind. You have courage that a Gryffindor can only admire. And no matter what happens, my support of you will be steadfast." He paused. "I can only hope that the Headmaster sees as deeply as I do."

Severus froze for a moment and then bowed low before his king. Harry suddenly dropped the regal air he had gathered around him and blushed, a look of chagrin settling on his face.

"Please, Severus," he pleaded with embarrassment. "Don't do that. I'm not bloody Voldemort. I don't need people bowing and grovelling in front of me, particularly not a member of my court."

Severus straightened and looked at the young man in front of him. Then he did something that the students at one time wouldn't have thought him capable of; he chuckled.

"No, you are not Voldemort," he said with amusement. "But you must get used to that."

"Why?" Harry asked, almost sullenly, crossing his arms across his chest.

"Because you are a king," Severus replied patiently. "Because there will be times when you must be treated appropriately and others will watch us, as members of your court, to determine how they should act towards you." He paused and raised an eyebrow. "You do not have to like it, of course. You just have to tolerate it."

That last statement caused Harry to smile wryly. "Alright. As long as I don't have to like it."

Chuckles resounded from the others in the room and Devante stepped forward.

"I think in the light of all that has happened, we can afford to cancel training for tonight," he said with a smile. "Besides it wouldn't hurt any of you to get a normal night's sleep."

There were murmurs of agreement and Dreamtime began to fade around them. Harry was slightly unsure about this, the memories of his nightmares coming back to him but he was tired after experiencing the Cruciatus, maybe he would be able to sleep.


The anguished scream of "Sirius! No!" ripped through the house, startling everyone awake. Remus, who had been tossing and turning due to his own night time megrims, and Severus, who was a naturally light sleeper, were the first to stumble out of their rooms towards the source of the scream. It was coming from Harry's bedroom and Remus swore under his breath as he ripped open the door, the Potions Master right on his heels.

Harry was thrashing around on his bed, tears streaming down his anguished face. Suddenly the trashing stopped and Harry stretched one hand out.

"Sirius, I don't know how," he said.

Remus started at this then headed for the bed. Harry was clearly still asleep and as he reached out to shake the boy awake, his arm was grabbed by Severus. He looked over at the other man with irritation but Severus was watching Harry.

"Severus, what..." he said sharply.

"Be silent," the Potions Master commanded. "I think this is not what it seems."

Remus looked back down at Harry. The young man had dropped his arm back on the bed and was frowning.

"They said you were dead," he whispered. "You fell through the Veil."

Remus gasped and looked at Severus in disbelief. Gasps from the doorway then drew his attention. The other students were standing there and clearly they had heard Harry's last comment. They slowly edged their way in and stood nervously at the end of the bed. As they all watched, more tears fell seeped out of Harry's closed eyes.

"But I don't know how," he said in a forlorn tone.

Harry shuddered in his sleep and frowned again.

"Remus?" he said in a confused voice. "How can he help?"

Remus started and stared down at Harry with surprise and concern. He was almost prepared to swear that the young man was actually speaking with Sirius.

"But how?" Harry asked plaintively. He was silent for a moment then he whispered softly. "Guide of Souls."

Remus' eyes widened. That phrase had been used when Harry identified his animal symbols. The jackal symbolised the Guide of Souls.

"He can find you?" Harry asked with growing hope. "You're not dead?"

Again Harry seemed to listen to an answer of some kind then he broke out into a broad, joyful smile.

"Yes," he said happily. "Soon. Love you, Sirius."

Harry expression then became almost incandescent. He shifted onto his side, curled up and fell silent, his breathing deep and even though the smile still lingered. Remus watched him for a long moment then looked over at Severus. The other man looked troubled and wary as he stared down at the sleeping boy.

"Come on," Remus whispered. "Let's leave him to sleep."

Severus nodded and Remus ushered them all out of the room, closing the door softly behind him. Ron opened his mouth to comment but Remus silenced him with a sharp gestured then led them all downstairs and into a small sitting room.

"What the hell was that?" Ron asked as soon as the door closed behind them.

"It sounded like he was talking to...to Sirius," Hermione said worriedly. She looked over at Severus. "Professor Snape? Could it be something that Voldemort sent?"

"No," Severus said, frowning. "If I understand the theory behind the Mentat spell correctly then the Dark Lord can no longer enter Harry's mind. He can still inadvertently draw Harry into his own as we saw ourselves but his mind is protected now."

Remus had been ignoring this as he ran through the one-sided conversation they had witnessed. "Guide of Souls," he muttered to himself as he began to pace. "Gwydion said the knowledge of how to act as the Guide of Souls is instinctive and would come to me when I need it. But Sirius fell through the Veil! Everything I've read says that to enter the Veil is to die."

"Remus?" Ginny said, breaking into his thoughts. "What exactly is the Veil?"

Remus looked at her blankly for a moment. "Er, the no one really knows," he said a little helplessly. "Only two people who have passed through it have ever returned and they never spoke of what they saw behind there." He paused and shuddered. "In fact, it is written in nearly every account of those two wizards that they weren't quite the same after they returned. They were...odd."

"How odd?" Hermione asked with alarm.

"Distant," Remus replied. "Otherworldly, eerie, strange, fey were all words used to describe them."

"What was the Veil used for?" Neville asked.

"Executions, Mr Longbottom, executions," Severus replied sourly. "Though no one knows its true purpose, it was used for an extended period of time for executing people. That practice was discontinued after the second wizard returned. Apparently something he said frightened the wizards and witches of the time. The building that now houses the Ministry already existed at that time. The Veil Chamber was closed and locked until the formation of the Department of Mysteries."

Hermione frowned as she thought this through. "Okay, let's assume for the moment that Harry was talking to Sirius," she said abstractly.

"Hermione!" Ron objected but was stopped before he could go any further.

"I'm trying to erect a hypothesis here, Ron," Hermione said irritably. "You can have a go at knocking it down when I'm finished."

Ron stared at her open-mouthed for a moment then gestured warily for her to continue. Both Remus and Severus swallowed smiles; for a moment the girl had sounded like Kolos.

"Alright," Hermione said primly, almost visibly settling her ruffled feathers. "Let us assume that Harry was, in fact, somehow talking to Sirius and that this is not some scheme of Voldemort's." She paced about for a moment, her nightgown swirling each time she turned. "Now the only two people who have returned from behind the Veil were rather odd, except that both of the people who returned from behind the Veil were also condemned."

She paced a little more as she put all of her thoughts together. Her fellow students watched with amusement while Remus and Severus watched with amusement and respect. Her studies with Kolos were going extremely well; they were kindred souls in many ways and Kolos' education and encouragement had allowed Hermione to spread her wings and soar.

"However," she continued absently, "Sirius was not condemned to death. To Azkaban, yes, but not to death. So perhaps, just perhaps, his situation is different from those who have gone before him. And Harry spoke of the Guide of Souls." She glanced over at Remus for a moment, her eyes distant and thoughtful. "Guide of Souls," she repeated softly. Then she gave herself a shake and her manner became rather more brisk. "There's not much we can do now except wait for Harry to wake up and tell us what happened and what he wants to do."

She looked archly at the others. "And I think we should go back to bed and get some sleep. We'll probably need it."

"Hermione," Ron said with great patience and a touch of humour. "If you're going to let me have a go at knocking down your hypotheses, the least you can do is set one up for me."

Everyone stared at the red-haired boy for a moment then started laughing; Hermione combining that with a rather fetching blush.

"Well," she said sheepishly, "I suddenly realised I didn't really have enough information to make a proper hypothesis."

"Though she is right about getting some sleep," Remus said with a smile. "This has to do with Sirius and that means Harry is going to want to do this no matter what. We need to be ready."

"So will you," Ron said abruptly. "Want to do whatever it is, I mean."

Remus bowed his head and was silent for along moment, long enough to cause Ron to shift nervously. Then the werewolf raised his head and the others saw the look of determination in his face.

"Yes," was all he would say.

The others nodded and they slowly drifted out of the room and upstairs to their bedrooms.


Harry woke with a start and quickly fumbled for his glasses on the bedside table. The dream he had had last night was vivid and strong. He had been about to slip into a nightmare when he had rather abruptly found himself standing somewhere...blank; that was the only word he could think of to describe it. Sirius had then appeared and spoken to him. And now he needed to speak to his friends. He jumped out of bed and quickly showered and dressed. He clattered down the stairs and swung into the kitchen whereupon he came to a screeching halt. Sitting around the table were all of his friends as well as Professor Snape; Remus was busy cooking breakfast. The werewolf turned around as Harry walked in the door and smiled at him.

"Breakfast, Harry?" he said cheerfully.

"Uh, yes, thanks," Harry said as he sat down at the table and looked around at the others. His eyes narrowed suspiciously as he realised that the others had all tightly shielded their minds. His suspicions grew when Ron, Neville and Ginny began an oddly cheerful conversation about Quidditch while Hermione and Luna pretended to listen raptly and Severus ruffled his copy of the Daily Prophet and promptly hid behind it, a sour expression on his face. Harry contemplated asking what on earth was going on but then the aromas of Remus' cooking reached him and he decided that he could wait until after breakfast.

The mood during breakfast was definitely weird and Harry kept shooting the others curious looks, which they were all very careful to avoid. When Ron finally pushed back his plate, Harry decided enough was enough.

"I need to talk to all of you," he said firmly. "So can you all please get over whatever has got you acting so strange."

Remus sighed. "I...think we have an idea of what you want to talk about."

Harry's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"

"Harry," Remus said carefully. "You...screamed last night. You...woke us up."

Harry paled. "I'm sorry," he said with some distress.

"Harry, don't," Remus said kindly. "Frankly I'd rather you woke us up. But...you..." He broke off and took a deep breath. "You screamed 'Sirius! No!' and when we came in you kept speaking in your sleep. You...seemed to be talking to...Sirius. You said something about not knowing how to do something and that I might be able to help in my role as the Guide of Souls."

Harry blanched. That was what he had said to Sirius in that odd blankness they had been in.

"I...I think I was going to have a nightmare," he began in a shaky voice. "But all of a sudden it stopped and I found myself standing somewhere...blank. I can't describe it any better. It was just...blank. Then..." He swallowed and let out a small sob. "Then Sirius appeared and he spoke to me. He said he was trapped. He said he knew I had gained some new allies and power and that we could get him out of where he was. I said I didn't know how and he said that you would." He looked up at Remus, hope and fear warring in his eyes. "When I asked how, he said it was because you were the Guide of Souls, that you would know what to do if you entered the Veil. He said that you would be able to find him and that he wasn't actually dead, just lost. Then he said we had to come soon and left."

A great silence descended around the table as everyone took in Harry's words.

"We have to rescue him," Harry said in a tone that would brook no argument.

"Yeah, we'd already worked that out, mate," Ron said with a wry smile.

Harry stared at him for a moment then a slow smile spread across his face.

"Of course we were going to help, Harry," Remus said with an amused and hopeful look. "Whatever made you think we'd argue about it? It's Sirius, after all."

Harry's smile became rather sheepish then it fell from his face and he looked over at Severus, who was still hiding behind the newspaper.

"Severus?" he said quietly.

The paper was suddenly folded and slammed down on the table. The Potions Master's face was unreadable and Harry sighed.

Severus? he said quietly through the mental link, taking care to keep the others out of this.

Yes, Mr Potter? came the arch reply.

Harry struggled for a long moment to find the words he needed. Finally he settled on the quiet, He's my godfather.

Severus' face turned to stone and his eyes glinted angrily. And this means what to me?

Harry sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. The others stayed silent and still, realising that this lay solely between Harry and Snape. Finally Harry opened his eyes again.

What he and my father did to you was wrong, he said quietly. I have been bullied as well. You think I was happy to see that my father and the other man I consider to be like a father were like that? Do you really think I was pleased, that I was proud of them? What they did was wrong. But Severus, they were fifteen. They were children. They were young, stupid, arrogant and foolish. So were you once; isn't that why you joined Voldemort?

The tone of Harry's mental voice was challenging at the last and Severus flinched.

Yes, he said slowly, as though the words were being dragged out of him.

Harry sighed. I'm not asking you to like him or to be his best friend but Severus, he's my godfather. I love him, I miss him and I want him back. Tears were standing in Harry's eyes. And I need your help. I can't do this without you. You are my Advisor. You have been my protector, however unwilling. Harry paused for a long moment before he said the next. You are my friend.

Severus started and stared at Harry, disbelief plain in his eyes. What? he demanded.

Harry locked eyes with him and opened his mind so that Severus could see the truth in his statement. You are my friend. You haven't always been; in fact, I have hated you in the past but things change. You are a new friend and the friendship is still growing but you are, nevertheless, my friend. Will you help me?

Severus stared at him a long, long moment and Harry could feel the other man's mind testing his for falsehood. When it became plain that Harry truly meant what he said, Severus began to shake. He stood suddenly and stalked out of the room.

"Harry?" Ginny asked softly from where she was sitting beside him.

Harry looked down at her and smiled. "It's alright," he said calmly. "Just give him some time. I hit with something he wasn't expecting."


The Daemon Sidhe were lounging around in the little pocket of the Void they had made their own while they waited for their chance to become corporeal. All of a sudden Awena gasped and her eyes glazed and she froze in place. The others looked over at her and waited in anticipation; those actions indicated that Awena was Seeing something and she rarely Saw trivialities. She stayed frozen for a long time, long enough for the others to start getting worried. She had only very rarely been caught in a Seer Vision this long and in each previous case, the visions had been significant. Finally she shuddered, her eyes cleared and she slumped back in her chair.

"Awena?" Asa said softly.

The powerful Seer turned her gaze on her fellows and smiled wanly. "Give me a few minutes to sort everything out."

The others nodded and waited with expressions of concern. After a few minutes, Awena straightened and turned a grim look on the others.

"Events are in flux," she said quietly. "Something is happening with Harry that stands to change the future markedly."

"For good or for ill?" Malini asked.

"Unknown," Awena replied. "The futures are still too varied but one thing is clear. Where once I saw Harry, surrounded by his court and ourselves, I now see something different." The others exchanged looks of alarm as Awena continued. "Both the court and ourselves remain but there is someone new standing next to Harry."

"Who?" Gwydion asked urgently.

"I do not know," Awena said hesitantly. "But he is filled with love and he stands as a guardian and protector."

Devante and Kolos froze and exchanged incredulous looks. This was something they hadn't anticipated.

"Awena, are you saying that Harry will find the one member of his court that none of the other kings we have followed have managed to find? Including Merlin?" Devante said in a stunned voice.

The others started and stared at each other.

"The Champion?" Malini said weakly. "This new person is the King's Champion?"

Awena frowned as she delved into her vision for answers. "I...Yes," she breathed with excitement. "Yes, he is! But there is a problem. I...can't determine what it is but something blocks the Champion's path to the King. This is the first test for our new King. This is where he and his court must prove themselves, for their own good as much as anything else."

"Will they succeed?" Gwydion asked softly.

Awena looked at them a little helplessly. "Unknown. There are too many possible futures to determine what will happen."


Harry and his friends sat in the kitchen and talked quietly amongst themselves. After about half an hour, Severus walked back in and sat down. He looked over at Harry and his eyes reflected the fear, hope and uncertainty within him.

"Very well," he said quietly.

Harry sighed with relief and looked between Remus and Severus. "How do we get in there?" he asked with a voice full of resolve.

An air of determination filled the room.

Remus and Severus exchanged looks and Harry got the sense that they were exchanging ideas between themselves mentally and he gave a small smile. This was what was meant to happen with his court. Finally the two men nodded and looked grim.

Remus looked at Harry and took a deep breath. "Dumbledore," he said. "Harry, he's the only one who could get us in there without too many questions being asked, not to mention getting us out of there with Sirius afterwards."

Harry took a deep breath. "Well, I always knew I'd have to have a confrontation with him sooner or later. I was just hoping for later, when we were better prepared."

"We," Hermione said firmly and the others nodded in agreement.

"What?" Harry said, a little baffled.

"We," Hermione repeated firmly. "We are going to have a confrontation with the Headmaster. You didn't really think your court was going to be left behind on this, did you?"

Harry grinned a little sheepishly. "I'm still getting used to that."

"If we go now, he'll still be having breakfast," Severus said abruptly. "It would be best to approach him while he still has the day in front of him. He is undoubtedly busy at the moment."

Harry nodded and stood. "Well, let's get this over with."

The others nodded grimly and they flooed into the Headmaster's office.


Professor Dumbledore was having breakfast and reviewing some school paperwork when the floo in his office activated. He looked up to see who was coming to see him and was rather surprised when first Harry and then all the others who were staying at Grimmauld Place followed him. Harry's grim expression and the determined looks on the faces on those following him alerted Albus that this was not likely to be a pleasant meeting. He watched wordlessly as Harry and the others brushed themselves off and walked over to his desk.

This was the first time he realised something was rather different about the group. Not just physically, though Harry and his fellow students certainly showed signs of being taller, stronger and fitter, but also in the group's interactions. This was plainly obvious when they came to a halt in front of his desk.

Harry stood at the front of the group flanked on his left by Severus, much to Albus' surprise, and on his right by Remus. Ron stood on the far left behind those three with Hermione on his right. Luna stood between her and Ginny and Neville stood on the far right, next to the red-haired girl. All eight of them wore stern and determined looks and there was an air of command and power around Harry that Albus had never seen before.

"Professor Dumbledore," Harry said firmly. "We need your help." He paused. "And no, we do not want any tea or sherbert lemons or anything like that."

Albus raised an eyebrow and leaned back in his chair. "Very well, Harry. What can I do for you?"

"We need your help to get into the Department of Mysteries," Harry replied. "Specifically the Veil Chamber."

Albus looked surprised then concerned. "Harry, Sirius is dead," he said gently. "There is nothing there that can help you."

"No, Professor," Harry said. "Sirius is not dead but he could be if we don't get in there as soon as possible."

Albus looked at the young man in front of him then glanced at the others. Their expressions were implacable and they were clearly supporting Harry. He looked back at Harry and wondered just what in hell had happened while he had been looking the other way. He had thought that both Harry and Remus were being obstinate because they were grieving for Sirius but clearly something else had been happening.

"Harry," he said slowly. "I need more than that. I have a certain amount of influence at the Ministry to be sure but for this I will need more."

Harry stared at the Headmaster for a long, long moment, unsure of what exactly to do.

I think you should tell him everything, Remus said suddenly.

I...agree, said Severus. But you might want to get an answer to some of your questions first.

Harry gave a short nod, which surprised then intrigued Dumbledore.

"Headmaster, before I can tell you anything, I need to know a few things," Harry began.

"If I am able to answer your questions, I will," Dumbledore assured him.

Harry's eyes narrowed at that answer but he chose not to do anything other than continue.

"Why have you been manipulating me all these years?" he demanded.

Albus' eyes widened. "What do you mean?" he asked, a little stunned by the question.

"You always seem to know what is going on in this school," Harry said fiercely. "So you must have know something was off with Quirrell. Yet you just left it; you let Ron, Hermione and I risk our lives going down after the Philosopher's Stone. Then you go and hire Lockhart when it was completely obvious to anyone with eyes that he was an idiot. And I'm sure you could have found some rule that you could have bent to get me out of the Triwizard Tournament. And last year you just ignore me for the whole year and don't explain anything to me. So why? Why did you allow all of that to happen? Am I just some pawn on a chessboard to you? Just a weapon waiting to be used?"

Dumbledore fell back in his chair, his face blanching. "No, no," he said weakly. "Never that. I have never thought of you as that."

"Then why?" Harry demanded. "And why leave me at the Dursleys? Surely there were better places. I understand about the blood protection but surely Hogwarts would have been just as safe?"

Albus slowly closed his eyes with a pained expression. Only now could he see the damage he had done to his relationship to the young man in front of him with his actions over the years. He truly loved the boy like a grandson; indeed he thought of him as a grandson. He opened his eyes again and the others in the room were startled to see the pain in those eyes. A warbling sound came from Fawkes and the phoenix flew over to his friend. He landed in the Headmaster's lap and glared at those in front of the desk. Albus soothed the phoenix and looked up at Harry.

"It seems I owe you some explanations," he said slowly then he gestured towards the chair and couch in front of the fireplace. "Please sit; this may take some time."

Harry nodded and walked over to the large couch, his court following. When he sat down, Remus and Severus took the seats on either side while the others distributed themselves in the other chairs. Albus lifted Fawkes up onto his desk then walked over and sat down. He sighed deeply.

"You have asked so many questions tonight that I hardly know where to start," he said slowly. "Though perhaps beginning at the beginning might be best."

"The Dursleys," Harry stated flatly.

"Yes, the Dursleys," Dumbledore sighed. "I knew that Petunia and Lily had had their differences over the years but I was also sure that Voldemort had not been killed, just banished in some way temporarily. So I knew that you had to be protected."

"So why not here?" Harry demanded. "It would have been easy for you or Remus or both of you to take care of me here."

"Because you were the Boy-Who-Lived," Albus said simply. "Because the entire wizarding world wanted to place you on a pedestal and all but worship you. I just could not see how a boy could live with that kind of adulation and not turn into someone spoilt. I did not want for you and I hoped that with the murder of her sister, Petunia would be able to see past her jealousy." He sighed and ran a hand down his face. "I deliberately kept the wizarding world away from you so that you could grow up with a normal childhood. I made a mistake. I should have kept a closer eye on you. I am sorry."

Harry stared at him for a long moment. "You didn't know about what they did to me?"

"No," Albus said. "In fact, even now I don't truly know. I have some suspicions but, Harry, you have never told me."

Harry paused. Well, that was true enough, he hadn't. He nodded. "Perhaps we have both made mistakes on that score. Would you have let me leave if I had told you during First Year?"

"I honestly don't know," the Headmaster said. "I certainly would have spoken to the Dursleys." He smiled thinly. "I daresay they would have listened to a personal appeal from me."

Harry thought about that for a moment then snorted with laughter. "Perhaps."

"Perhaps I should have made better choices back then," Dumbledore said with painful honesty. "But I truly believed that I was making the best decision for you. I always thought that if anything happened to James and Lily that Sirius would be there. I did not anticipate being fooled so comprehensively on that score."

"So why not ask Remus to look after me?" Harry asked.

"Because I knew that I could never get the Ministry to agree to that," Dumbledore replied. "I have a fair amount of influence with them but not that much."

He's right, Remus said. The Ministry would have objected strenuously and they would have had the law on their side.

Harry gave a small nod to Remus before looking back at the Headmaster. "Why did you believe that Sirius would betray my parents?" he asked flatly. "Everyone who has spoken about them always mentions that my Dad and Sirius were like brothers. Surely you should have been suspicious?" Then he paused and closed his eyes with an air of chagrin and regret. He opened them again and looked at the Headmaster sadly. "The...incident in their Sixth Year. That was what influenced your thinking."

The Headmaster sighed. "Yes, I'm afraid that did colour my thinking. I also did not anticipate that they would have changed the Secret Keeper. James seemed so adamant about using Sirius."

Harry nodded slowly then his expression became grim. "What about everything that has happened here?"

Dumbledore smoothed his beard. "I certainly suspected one of the teachers was working for Voldemort in your First Year," he said musingly. "Quirrell was merely one of my suspects. I did not realise exactly how far he had gone. And I was relying on the protections that had been put in place. I felt that even if someone did get past the obstacles, the Mirror of Erised would hold them long enough for me to get there. There were wards on that room you know, to inform me if there was someone there." The Headmaster paused and eyed Harry kindly. "Telling me your suspicions would undoubtedly have helped."

Harry suddenly blushed as he remembered exactly who he had suspected. "I don't think my suspicions would have helped actually."

Ron and Hermione snorted in amusement but quickly got themselves under control. Amusement also bloomed momentarily in Severus' eyes before disappearing.

You were there that night outside the library, weren't you? he said. Under your father's damn cloak.

Yes, Harry replied dryly. And what I heard of the conversation between you and Quirrell was rather damning in your direction. Quirrell was still acting completely insipid.

He was good at that, was all Severus said in reply.

"You let us go down there," Harry said flatly.

"Would you have listened to me if I had forbidden you?" Dumbledore replied.

"If I'd known you were aware of what was going on, yes," Harry said bluntly. "But it seemed like everyone was just blindly ignoring everything that was happening and trusting in the protections. Quirrell did get through them pretty easily." He paused then continued softly. "How do you think I felt facing Voldemort down there. He offered me my parents back in return for the Stone, you know."

"But you resisted him," the Headmaster replied gently.

"He was lying," Harry replied bleakly. "Nothing can bring my parents back. If something could have, I'm sure you would have already tried it."

"Yes, I would have," Albus said.

Harry shook off his melancholy thoughts. "Why did you hire Lockhart?" he said with disgust. "He was completely useless."

"Because I had little other option," Dumbledore replied simply. "No one wanted the position and by the time Gilderoy showed interest, it was late in the summer holidays. I had to take him on reputation initially. By the time I realised what a fraud he was, it was too late. I am pleased you were able to see past his charm and charisma."

A small grin floated across Harry's face; he didn't have to turn around to know there was a blush reddening Hermione's cheeks.

"You lied to me that year," Dumbledore said sternly. "I distinctly recall asking you if there was anything you felt I ought to know when you came to my office. You said no as I recall."

"I thought I was hearing voices," Harry said with exasperation. "And everyone was starting to think I was the Heir of Slytherin. I didn't think those were things you could help with."

"But if you had told me about hearing that voice, perhaps we might have worked out what was creeping around the school a bit quicker," Dumbledore said then he sighed. "Ah, Harry, I think we both made mistakes that year. You showed great courage down in the Chamber, in a situation you should never have been put in. However, I think you would have still ended up having to go down there."

"Why?" Harry said with a frown.

"None of the teachers could have opened the door to the Chamber," the Headmaster replied. "For none of us are Parselmouths. And we would have had to go down there to solve the problem."

Harry blinked. "Oh, of course."

Incidentally, I don't suppose you would mind taking me down there at some point this year, Severus said suddenly. Even after all this time, the potion ingredients I could harvest from the basilisk would still be viable.

Harry's lips twitched, much to the Headmaster's interest. Certainly, sir, though we will need Fawkes to get us out of there. It's straight up and down, you know.

Levitation spells, Severus grunted.

Oh, okay then, Harry replied.

"What about the Triwizard Tournament?" Harry challenged. "Surely there was a rule you could have bent to get me out of that damn thing?"

Dumbledore froze and his expression became one of chagrin. "Yes, there was," he said slowly. "But...I allowed myself to be talked out of using it."

"By whom?" Harry said indignantly.

"Moody," Dumbledore said simply. "I did not suspect him at that point and he suggested that he might be able to flush out whoever had put your name in the Goblet if you were permitted to compete." He ran a hand down his face. "Perhaps I was wrong to allow it but I knew that the Tasks could be halted if you were truly in danger and Moody's suggestion was sound. I was worried that if we withdrew you then whoever it was that had endangered you in the first place would simply try again, only this time in a far more direct manner. Harry, I should have withdrawn you in any way I could. I am sorry."

"Tell that to Cedric," Harry said harshly as he ducked his head.

Harry! That was uncalled for, Remus chided. No one regrets Cedric's death more than the Headmaster. There was no way of knowing what would happen during the Third Task.

Yes, I know that, Harry said sharply.

Harry, we had no inkling that Moody was not what he seemed until after you returned from the cemetery, Severus said calmly. It was only when Albus realised that he had taken you away that he suspected Moody. That was why it was Minerva and myself that he brought with him.

Harry nodded slightly then looked up at the Headmaster. "I'm sorry, sir," he said reluctantly. "That was...a bit harsh."

"No, no, it wasn't," Dumbledore said sadly. "I did not take into account that the others might be at as much risk as you. Madame Maxime took me to task on that score as well."

Harry was silent for a moment. "What about last year?"

Dumbledore closed his eyes. "I thought my reasons were good," was all he said. Then he looked up at Harry. "What has happened Harry? I know something has changed though I cannot determine what it is? Does it have something to do with why you wish to return to the Ministry? And why Severus seems so firmly on your side?"

Harry froze. Well? He said to his court.

Tell him, came Remus and Hermione's voices in unison. Noises of agreement came from most of the others.

Not everything, Severus said warningly. Tell him of the Daemon Sidhe and the formation of your court, by all means. But I would not tell him of some of the things we have already done.

Secrets for the sake of secrets? Remus asked dubiously.

No, Severus replied. I trust the Headmaster but I do not trust all of those he trusts.

Good point, Ron said suddenly. Remember, he trusted Moody in Fourth Year.

Harry nodded and looked up at the Headmaster. "What do you know of the Daemon Sidhe?"