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Published: 08/24/2006Updated: 11/26/2006Words: 62,834Chapters: 16Hits: 79,413
Harry Potter and the Past That Never Was
- Story Summary:
- Transported back to just before his eleventh birthday, Harry gets the chance to right the wrongs in his life. But, "knowing then, what you know now," isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Your best friends may not be your friend, your enemies may not be your enemy. Even the greatest enemy may be easily dispatched. But evil will remain as long as there is good. Harry discovers changing the past leaves the door open to a future that may be worse than he can imagine. Will our hero prevail?
Chapter 16 - Let's Bake Some Fudge
"Professor Dumbledore?" thought Harry to the headmaster. "Something weird is going on."
"What do you mean by weird, Harry?" Dumbledore asked him after a moment. Harry wondered if he'd woken Dumbledore with his contact.
He went over what had just taken place and how he was locked in his room after the administrator heard what happened.
"You would think they'd be happy to know it's possible they are not totally gone," thought Harry.
"Yes, on that I'd have to agree," said Dumbledore. "Perhaps you can use your ability to communicate without eye contact to ascertain exactly what is going on with the Longbottoms."
"I can certainly do my best," agreed Harry. "I'm a little more concerned right now to know why they've locked me in this room."
"That concerns me, as well," said Dumbledore. "Perhaps I'll pay a visit and get to the bottom of this."
"Thank you, Professor," said Harry. "I'm sorry I woke you."
"Don't be sorry, Harry," admonished Dumbledore. "It could be contacting me was the best thing you could have done. Just relax, and let me sort this out."
Harry had nothing to do BUT wait, as he couldn't leave the room. Therefore, he spent the time in conversations with Frank and Alice Longbottom. He wasn't able to get much information from either of them, other than they were trapped in there. Most interesting about those conversations, was neither of them seemed to remember anything at all about Bellatrix, and the curse that drove them into insanity.
It seemed like only a few minutes passed when Harry heard the clicking of the lock. He looked up at the door as it opened to reveal Dumbledore, and Snape.
"Come along, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Let us see if we can get to the bottom of Administrator Brandon's actions this evening."
Confused, Harry followed Dumbledore and Snape to the ward in which Frank and Alice were being kept. The same few people were there, and Mrs. Longbottom was having a go at the administrator.
"This is outrageous!" she shrieked. "The first breakthrough of any sort, and you tell me you don't trust the source."
"Mrs. Longbottom," he said, calmly. "The boy is eleven years old. Teams of healers all agree, there is just no way to reverse the effects."
"Teams of healers," she went on through gritted teeth, "have not been able to communicate with them."
"I'm not of mind to accept the word of an injured, and obviously deluded young boy," he said.
"If you could satisfy my curiosity, Brandon," said Dumbledore, politely. "Has there been any attempt at all to probe Frank and Alice's mind?" The administrator glared at Dumbledore a few moments, then shook his head wordlessly.
"I'm not deluded," protested Harry. "I've talked to both of them."
"Oho," said the administrator. "Then do tell me, boy. What bits of healing wisdom can you impart to us this evening?" Harry did not fail to pick up the sarcasm.
"Mr. Longbottom," thought Harry. "Can you tell me how is it you're trapped in there?"
"Yes," said Frank. "There are scores of dementors blocking the way out."
"Mrs. Longbottom," thought Harry to Alice, "Are there dementors keeping you trapped?"
"Hundreds of them," confirmed Alice.
"Yes," said Harry. "They are being trapped in their minds by dementors."
"Dementors?" the administrator fairly roared with laughter. "And they told you this, did they?"
"Yes," Harry thought to him. "They both told me dementors are keeping them trapped."
"Dementors?" asked Augusta.
Now, the administrator fell silent after hearing Harry's voice in his head. He turned to Dumbledore, and said, "Get him out of here. Take him back to Hogwarts."
"Harry," said Dumbledore, as Snape was looking at the administrator strangely. "Are you quite sure about this?"
"Professor," said Harry. "Why would I lie about something such as this?"
"If I may, Headmaster," said Snape. "Perhaps, given the circumstances, it would be prudent to bring the Longbottoms to Hogwarts as well."
"Now you just hold it right there," said the administrator. "You take the boy, and ONLY the boy."
Dumbledore looked back and forth between Snape and the administrator. "As much as I agree with you, Severus, I'm afraid Poppy wouldn't be up to something such as this."
"I think I'm up for it," came a voice from behind them. Harry turned to see Healer Drogdan standing only a few feet away. "I'm not letting this patient out of my sight until I'm convinced he's healed." He stepped up to where he was standing just next to Harry.
"You have no choice," said the administrator. "You work for St. Mungo's."
"Then I quit," said Drogdan, shrugging. "I would then like to offer my services to Hogwarts, if you have any openings for a healer."
"I think perhaps," started Dumbledore, "there just may be such an opening." He smiled, and then turned to look at Augusta Longbottom.
"I'll leave this up to you, dear Augusta," said Dumbledore. "I'd be happy to bring Frank and Alice along with us."
"Yes," whispered the older woman. "Yes, please do, Albus."
"You will do so, over my dead body," said the administrator, moving toward the door of the ward.
"I'd rather like to hope it wouldn't come to that," said Dumbledore, as he and Snape both drew their wands. "I shouldn't like to have to hurt you, Brandon. Please step aside."
Harry gasped, as Drogdan grasped his shoulder lightly. Harry looked back at him, and was greeted by the healer giving him the universal 'be quiet' sign, a finger over his lips.
Staring at two wands pointed in his direction, Brandon did just as he was asked to do. "Minister Fudge will hear about this," he warned, as Snape and Drogdan went into the room. "Of that, you can rest assured!"
"By all means," said Dumbledore, "inform the Minister." A few moments later, Snape and Drogdan emerged from the room, leading the Longbottoms. Dumbledore glanced at each of them for a moment.
"If you will escort Harry back to Hogwarts, Severus," said Dumbledore. "You can alert Poppy as to what is going to be happening."
"Yes, Headmaster," said Snape, and then turned to look at Harry. "How far do you think you can make it on your own?"
"Not very far, Professor," said Harry. "I'm already feeling a little weak and sore."
"Very well then," said Snape, stepping alongside of Harry and holding out his arm. "Take my arm, if you please." Harry did so and a moment later found himself standing next to Snape, just outside of the gates leading to Hogwarts.
"I'll have to levitate you," said Snape, flicking his wand. As Harry floated, Snape kept a hand on him to guide him toward the castle. The going was a little slow, so Harry had a few minutes in which to talk to Snape.
"Professor," said Harry, as Snape was making his way up the path toward the castle. "If it's dementors, is it possible to chase them off?"
"Possible, yes," said Snape. "But think about the price of trying, and failing."
"It could hurt them worse?" asked Harry.
"No," said Snape. "If someone were to try and fail, they would be trapped in the same place at the Longbottoms."
"Could You-Know-Who have done that?" asked Harry.
"The Dark Lord," started Snape, "would be able to remove the dementors."
"I wonder if I can do it," said Harry.
"I wouldn't know," said Snape as they neared the entrance to the Castle. "Even if you do have that ability, do NOT make such an attempt. Having the ability, and knowing how to use it are worlds apart."
Harry didn't say anything as Snape guided him toward the hospital wing. Once inside, he lowered Harry to the floor and went off to find Madame Pomfrey. Not knowing exactly what to do, Harry went to the nearest bed and sat down upon it.
A few moments after, Madame Pomfrey burst into the room, making a beeline for Harry. "You've got the right idea," she said. "But we'll have you IN bed, young man." Harry obediently climbed into the bed as the school healer began running her wand over him. Snape was standing just behind her during the examination.
"Drogdan's done a good job," said Poppy. "I'd say another week or so and you can resume a full schedule."
"We'll have to prepare a place to keep the Longbottoms," said Snape. "I was thinking perhaps classroom eleven."
"No, that won't do," said Pomfrey. "Albus has set that room aside for something else, a surprise of sorts."
"The new common room?" Harry asked. Poppy looked down at him disapprovingly.
"Well it won't be much a surprise now, will it?" she asked. "Yes, that's why the headmaster has set the room aside."
A commotion just outside of the hospital wing caused all three of them to look up as Dumbledore, and Drogdan were leading Fred and Alice into the room. Without speaking, they went directly to the farthest two beds and helped the Longbottoms into them. Harry was left alone for several minutes as Dumbledore conjured a thick curtain around the two beds, effectively separating them from the rest of the room.
Finally, Dumbledore and Snape emerged from within the curtains and took up places on either side of Harry.
"Professor," started Harry. "What's going on?"
"I'm not entirely sure, Harry," said Dumbledore, frowning deeply. "But when a healer refuses to follow up on information such as what you brought to light, something is definitely amiss."
"I don't understand," said Harry.
"Being able to communicate with someone who is for all intents and purposes catatonic, is an extraordinary event," said Dumbledore. "Knowing what is keeping Fred and Alice Longbottom from regaining lucidity makes it all the more likely is can be accomplished."
"Will I be able to do that?" asked Harry, looking back and forth between Dumbledore and Snape.
"It would mean teaching him offensive capability," said Snape, quietly. Harry did not fail to register the face Snape pleaded ignorance when he was asked if Harry would be able to do so.
"Ah, so it would," said Dumbledore. "So it would, indeed."
"What does that mean?" asked Harry.
"Until now," said Dumbledore, "the mind training you've had has been of a defensive, or a passive nature."
"You mean to go into their mind and fight dementors would be an attack?" asked Harry, still looking back and forth between them.
"Yes, I'm afraid it would," said Dumbledore.
"Professor Dumbledore," started Harry. "Exactly how much of Voldemort's power do I have?" Dumbledore didn't answer the question right away, he just sat there gazing at Harry as if unsure whether or not to answer it.
"I don't know for certain," said Dumbledore, finally breaking the silence. "But I suspect very nearly all of it."
"Do you believe Voldemort is aware of that?" asked Harry.
"He was aware of something out of the ordinary about you," said Snape. "As to what he became aware of, he did not share with me."
"Draco told me I just might be surprised to learn just how much he knew about me," said Harry.
"Indeed, Harry," said Dumbledore. "Voldemort has been obsessed with you. He sought to know everything he could."
"Perhaps around the time he tried to get the prophecy?" asked Harry. Madame Pomfrey moved up behind Dumbledore with a potion.
"You've had a rather long day," said Poppy. "You better have this, and get a good night of rest."
Harry took the potion, and dutifully drank it straight down. He had several of these, and knew it was only a matter of moments before he was asleep. Before he dropped off, he heard Madame Pomfrey telling Dumbledore she didn't want her hospital wing being turned into some sort of revolving door with visitors all day and night.
When he awoke, Harry became aware he was not alone. Draco was sitting next to his bed, reading the Daily Prophet.
"How did you know I was back?" Harry asked him.
"Dumbledore told us," said Draco. He then closed the paper, and showed Harry the front page. The headline blazed at him.
SHAKEUP AT MINISTRY; FUDGE ON THE WAY OUT?
Harry took the paper and read the accompanying story. According to the story, it became known Minister Fudge was in some way responsible for no attempts being made to bring Frank and Alice Longbottom out of their state on insanity. A full meeting of the Wizengamot was to be convened that very day, to ascertain the exact extent of Fudge's involvement.
"What do you make of that?" asked Harry, as he looked past Draco to see Hermione walking up behind him, also carrying a copy of the newspaper.
"Fudge has long been in You-Know-Who's pocket," said Draco. "Not exactly an ally, but at least always willing to turn his head away at the proper time."
"So someone doesn't want the Longbottoms coming out of that state," said Hermione. "But why?"
"That's easy," said Draco. "They have information someone doesn't want seeing the light of day."
"That would explain why I was kicked out of St. Mungo's," said Harry. "Did Dumbledore tell you all this started because I am able to communicate with them?"
"NO!" exclaimed Hermione. "He only said it was decided to bring you back to Hogwarts. He didn't say why."
Harry told them both what took place the night before. How he was locked in his room, and Dumbledore's trip there to St. Mungo's.
"The administrator put up a fight over bringing the Longbottoms here," said Harry. "Dumbledore and Snape had to threaten him with wands."
"The Longbottoms are here?" asked Draco. Harry nodded, pointing to the curtains in the corner of the room.
"Healer Drogdan quit his post and is here now, as Madame Pomfrey's assistant, I think." Harry went on. "It was a weird night."
"This is all much too strange," said Hermione. "Dumbledore doesn't act without a good reason."
"I'm curious to know if Scrimgeour gets the post of Minister, or if someone else grabs it," said Draco.
"That's assuming Fudge loses the post," said Hermione. "You don't get to be the Minister without being adept at politics."
"Or without having certain well connected friends," added Draco.
"I'm just wondering how this got in the paper so quickly," said Harry.
Madame Pomfrey was carrying a tray with Harry's breakfast on it when an owl swooped into the room.
"I've asked Albus not to allow those ruddy birds into my hospital wing," she said angrily as the owl landed on the table next to Harry's bed. Without thinking, Harry extended his hand to take the envelope attached to the bird's leg. Once he had it, the owl turned its head to stare at the healer reproachfully, then darted off.
"Harry," said Hermione in a low voice. "That letter is from the Ministry of Magic." Madame Pomfrey laid Harry's tray down and stalked off, muttering about owls and keeping a clean hospital.
"I'll bet they want you to testify at the hearing," said Draco, as Harry tore the letter open. As Draco predicted, the letter was to inform him he was to appear as a witness in front of the Wizengamot, that very afternoon.
"Oh dear," said Hermione. "This isn't good at all."
"Why?" Harry wanted to know. "If Fudge is up to no good, and I can help prove it, so much the better."
"Think about it," said Draco, frowning. "What exactly would you suppose they are going to ask you?" Harry did just that and did not like the answer.
"Oh," he finally said. "I have to talk to Professor Dum..." Harry was interrupted by Snape entering the room; looking at Harry with a bit of distaste. He drew his wand and cast the Muffliato before he spoke.
"The headmaster is already aware you've been summoned to the Ministry," said Snape. "I'm here to prepare you for your testimony."
"Do you know what I'm going to be asked?" asked Harry.
"Obviously, they're going to ask you about your conversations with Frank and Alice Longbottom," said Snape. "No doubt, someone on the Wizengamot is going to ask you about how you were able to do so. Minister Fudge has some allies on the Wizengamot, they'll be doing all they can to discredit any witnesses against him."
"What should I tell them?" Harry wanted to know.
"We have a cover story concocted for you," said Snape. "Under NO circumstances are you to reveal the total truth."
"It's going to be bad enough when this makes the newspaper," said Hermione, looking frightened. "Harry, this is not good at all."
"Can't professor Dumbledore keep this out of the Prophet?" asked Harry.
"This hearing will in all likelihood, end with Cornelius Fudge being ousted as Minister," said Snape. "Not even the headmaster can suppress this sort of information."
"So at the very least," said Hermione. "When this ability you have becomes public knowledge, it's going to make the wrong people get nervous."
"Quite right, Miss Granger," said Snape. "Sooner or later, the Dark Lord is going to come to the right conclusion as to Mr. Potter's abilities. When that happens, it will be full scale war."
"We can beat them though?" asked Draco. "Having all this information?"
"Beat them," said Snape with a humorless smile. "If a full scale war breaks out this soon, we'll have enough trouble surviving, let alone winning the war."
"So what do we do?" asked Hermione.
"We do nothing for the moment," said Snape. "If our cover story for Potter's abilities is believed, it shouldn't lead to all out war. But Potter will at least become more of a target."
"That's nothing new," said Harry. "It's not like they've haven't tried to kill me several times."
"Potter," said Snape, tiredly. "If it weren't for me assuring the Dark Lord your abilities were in no way special, you'd have been dead a long time ago."
"I believe that," said Draco. "He was saving you for himself as sort of the icing on his cake."
"Very true," agreed Snape. "They could have killed you at the Ministry, or even last year. The Cruciatis put on you from behind, could just have easily have been the Avada Kedavra."
"And I could have done nothing about it," said Harry, frowning.
"Not a thing," said Snape. "My advice to you is to begin attending the dueling club, that IS why it was started, for your information."
"It was started for my benefit?" ask Harry.
"To enable you to be taught things of a more advanced nature," said Snape. "Without making it seem you were getting special training."
"I didn't know that," said Harry.
"Be that as it may," said Snape. "Have your breakfast, and I'll return in time to escort you to the Ministry."
"Yes, sir," said Harry, reaching for his tray as Snape left the room. Hermione, and Draco just stared at Harry in silence, neither of them knowing what to say.
After he'd eaten as much as he could, Harry was joined once again by Snape who was carrying with him Harry's school attire.
"It won't do to have you in bed clothes," said Snape. "Get dressed, and we'll be on our way. If you begin to feel a lot of pain, let me know. I have a potion with me to help ease it."
"Okay, Professor," said Harry, easing himself out of bed and accepting his clothes from the Potions Master. Once he was dressed, Snape flicked his wand, and a tin can appeared in his hand.
Snape laid the can on the table next to Harry's bed and pointed his wand at it. "Portis," said Snape, turning it to a Portkey.
Soon, Harry was standing at the security desk in the Ministry of Magic, having handed his wand over for inspection.
"Right then," said the security wizard. "Phoenix core, in use three months, is that right?"
"Yes, sir," said Harry, accepting the return of this wand.
"Do you know the way to the courtroom, then?" he asked them. Harry was about to say he knew, but Snape spoke before he could.
"Yes, I do," said Snape.
The cover story created for Harry was that he'd been receiving lessons from Dumbledore, Snape, and Lupin since he was six years old. Dumbledore was going to take the 'blame' for teaching someone that young, but would pass it off as necessary seeing the talent Harry was sure to have.
"Will it work?" Harry wanted to know.
"We hope so," said Snape, as they made their way toward the courtroom. The floor, which was nearly deserted the last time Harry was there, was on this occasion full of people. Through the crowd, Harry could see Lucius Malfoy walking toward them.
"Mister Potter," said Malfoy, his hand extended. "It's so good to see you again."
"Hi, Mr. Malfoy," said Harry. "It's good to see you as well."
"Dreadful, that Quidditch incident," said Malfoy. "I'm told you're the one who uncovered the fact the Longbottoms are not as far gone as we've all been led to believe."
"I don't know how," said Harry. "All of a sudden, Mr. Longbottom's voice was in my head."
"Yes," said Malfoy, with a knowing smirk. "It seems that will be just the tip of the iceberg." Harry's heart skipped a beat, until he realized Malfoy meant the tip of the iceberg, as pertaining to Fudge's apparent abuses of the post of Minister of Magic. "You're looking well, Severus," said Malfoy, shaking hands with Snape.
"As are you, Lucius," said Snape.
"And how is Draco doing in school this term?" asked Lucius.
"Quite well, in fact," said Snape. "One of the top three in his year."
"Excellent," said Lucius. "Would I be wrong to assume the other two of the top three are Mister Potter and that Muggle born Draco is friends with, Granger?" Harry was alarmed to hear Lucius was aware of Hermione's lineage. Nevertheless, he did his best not to betray the alarm he was feeling.
"You would be quite correct," said Snape. "The three of them are neck and neck for the top marks."
"Well done, I'd say," said Lucius. "And it shouldn't come as any shock, as advanced as they are." He smiled and moved along, stopping to talk to others.
"I didn't know he was aware of Hermione being Muggle born," said Harry, in a low voice.
"Nor did I," said Snape. "He seems more concerned with Draco's marks. More than likely, if he believes Miss Granger is helping him to get those high marks, he will overlook her less than perfect bloodline, at least for the time being. However, that comment about being advanced is more than a little disconcerting."
A few minutes later, the doors of the courtroom opened and all were allowed to enter. The members of the Wizengamot were already seated, and Fudge was seated in the very same chair Harry occupied when he attended his own hearing.
As Head Wizard of the Wizengamot, Dumbledore was in charge of the hearing. He spoke for a few moments about the proceedings, and told of the events leading to this hearing. As each witness was called to give testimony, a yarn of deception, and conspiracy took shape.
The administrator of St. Mungo's testified it was on Fudge's order no action was taken to actually cure the Longbottoms. He further testified it was why he reacted the way he did when he became aware of Harry's conversation with the two insane Aurors.
Two of the healers also gave testimony on the matter, saying they were only told the order to keep the Longbottoms on ice came from high up.
Then it was Harry's turn to testify. Harry nervously took the seat a few feet away from Fudge and waited for the questions.
"Just relax, Harry," said Dumbledore. "I only want to ask you to relate the conversation you had with Frank Longbottom last night."
"Yes, sir," said Harry, feeling his insides shaking. He told the story once again, exactly as he'd done the night before to Dumbledore.
"And you say they believe themselves to be trapped inside their minds by dementors?" This question came from Amelia Bones.
"Yes ma'am," said Harry. "Dozens of them." There was a buzz of conversation behind them.
"Hem, hem," came the voice of the hated Delores Umbridge. "Mister Potter, I for one, am quite curious to know how you have an ability only one other is known to possess."
"Harry Potter's abilities are not in question here," boomed the voice of Alastor Moody, who was sitting in the front row of spectators. This caused quite the uproar, as Dumbledore called for quiet.
"I can answer that," said Dumbledore, once the room fell silent. "It has been believed the failed attempt to kill Harry also transferred to him, certain abilities. I have found he possesses two such abilities we've all come to associate with Voldemort." An audible gasp filled the room at the mention of Voldemort.
"Yes," Dumbledore carried on, "One such ability is he is able to communicate via Legilimency without having to have eye contact. And also, he is a Parselmouth."
"That extraordinary ability aside," said Amelia Bones, "I'm more interested to know what he learned from his conversations." Harry visibly relaxed, as it seemed the rest of the Wizengamot wanted to hear the same thing.
Harry fielded questions about those conversations, and then eventually the topic got around to him being locked in his room at St. Mungo's. Harry related how he then contacted Dumbledore, told him what happened and what followed.
Overall, Harry was questioned for around a half hour. When they were done, Dumbledore told him he was free to return to Hogwarts.
"How did I do?" Harry thought to Dumbledore.
"You did just fine, Harry," Dumbledore sent right back to him.
As Harry got up from his chair, he had the uncomfortable feeling every eye in the room was on him. Snape was standing and pointed to the door of the courtroom, letting Harry know they were leaving directly. Harry walked right past him and was suddenly sandwiched between Snape, and Kingsley Shacklebolt, who began walking directly in front of him.
Dumbledore had apparently also ascertained the testimony Harry would give was going to cause him to be more of a target. He was seeing to his safe return to Hogwarts, using members of the Order. Once in the hallway outside of the courtroom, Harry saw the reporter, Rita Skeeter, had followed them from the room.
"If I can have a few minutes of your time," said Rita, her acid green quill already out, and ready to do a hatchet job on him.
"Out of the way," growled Moody, as he bolted from the courtroom, brushing past Rita and moved to stand between her and Harry.
Snape held out his arm to Harry, which he took and they Apparated to just outside the gates of Hogwarts. Moody and Shacklebolt appeared beside them, and they quickly entered the school grounds. Snape asked Harry if he could walk this time, Harry thought he could.
"Do you need us to go all the way with you?" asked Moody.
"Thank you, no," said Snape. "Mister Potter will be safe now that he's back within the confines of Hogwarts."
"Good," he growled. "I want to get back to the hearing." They shook hands all around before the two Aurors turned and walked from the grounds, leaving Harry alone with Snape.
"Do you think Fudge will lose his post?" asked Harry as they walked toward the castle.
"There's no doubt of that," said Snape. "The only question is whether he is sent to Azkaban."
They walked in silence the rest of the way to the castle. Harry was beginning to get tired and sore, but he was able to make it all the way back to the hospital wing, and was left alone to remove his school robes and get back into his bed clothes. Poppy was upon him with a wand, to make sure he did no damage to his injuries.
"How do you feel?" she asked him after a few moments.
"A little sore," said Harry. "But I think I'm alright."
"Good," said Poppy. "I'd like to see you do without the pain reducing potions if you think you can."
"Yes ma'am," said Harry. "It's not too bad." The healer nodded and went about her way.
"I'm back," Harry thought to Hermione, and Draco in turn. "Come down when you can, and I'll tell you all that happened."
It wasn't long before Hermione and Draco was sitting around his bed. Harry cast the Muffliato Charm, and then told them all about his testimony.
"Leave it to Umbridge," said Hermione, shaking her head.
"She probably did that on Fudge's order," said Draco. "It sounds as if she didn't get anywhere with that."
"No," said Harry. "Rita Skeeter tried to interview me, but Snape got me back here straight away."
"Then there's no doubt it'll be in the paper," said Hermione.
"Snape says there's also no doubt Fudge is finished as Minister," said Harry. "Oh yes, Draco, your father knows Hermione is Muggle born."
"What?" asked Draco; his face had a pained expression. "How do you know?"
"He was asking Snape how you were doing," said Harry. "When Snape said top three, your father asked him if the other two were myself, and the Muggle born girl you were friends with."
"Oh dear," said Hermione. "I wonder how he knows."
"That's easy," said Draco. "Everyone in our world is registered with the Ministry. That includes parentage."
"He didn't seem upset," said Harry. "He seemed more concerned with your marks."
"Maybe," said Draco. "But I'm sure to hear about it, anyway." He shrugged, as if resigned to his fate.
"Something else interesting," said Harry. "It looked as if your father was working the room."
"Of course he was," said Draco, with a laugh. "He'll want to make sure to stay in good standing with the next Minister, won't he?"
"To stay well connected," said Harry, nodding. "I can see that."
"Too right," said Draco.
They chatted for a few minutes before Hermione brought up another subject.
"Harry," said Hermione. "What exactly have you been doing in the Room of Requirement with Pandora?"
"Uh," said Harry, blushing furiously, "Come on, Hermione."
"Harry," said Hermione. "Do you know how sick that looks to everyone else?"
"I know it does," said Harry. "We've only gone there once to snog."
"That's once too many, Harry," said Hermione, exasperated. "Do you have any idea of what she will have to go through if it's known she's carrying on with a first year?"
"She's right," said Draco. "I know she's aware of what you really are. But look at it from everyone else's point of view."
"She knows," said Harry, frowning. "But you know in that room, in candlelight, she can see me as seventeen, and not eleven."
"What do you mean?" asked Draco.
"I don't know, really," said Harry. "But I feel bigger when there's only candlelight in there."
"Are you saying you appear as you really are, in candlelight, in the Room of Requirement?" asked Hermione.
"I think so," said Harry. "But Pandora doesn't seem to mind. In fact, she's been the aggressor."
"Well," said Hermione, slowly. "That makes me feel a little better. But Harry, you can never be seen."
"I wish I had my cloak," said Harry. "That would make it much easier."
"I'd like to test that theory," said Draco. "Let's you and I go up there and see if we look seventeen in candlelight."
"We could do that," said Hermione. "By the way Harry, have you thought of a name for the new common room?"
"No," said Harry. "I have it narrowed to three, though."
After chatting a little longer, Hermione and Draco left to go check out the Room of Requirement. Harry then realized he'd not yet told Pandora he was back at school.
"Hello there," he thought to Pandora.
"Well hello, dreamboat," she said back to him. "And how are you feeling today?"
"I'm all right," said Harry. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, but things have been crazy since last night. Did you happen to read the Prophet this morning?"
"Yes, yes, did you by any chance have something to do with what happened at St. Mungo's?" she asked.
"You might say so," said Harry. "I was the one who communicated with the Longbottoms."
"Oh, dear. You just can't seem to stay away from trouble, can you?" asked Pandora, with a giggle.
"It's seems not," agreed Harry. "Anyway, because of that, Dumbledore brought me back to Hogwarts. I'm in the hospital wing, now."
"Are you really?" she asked. "Is there any way you can sneak off to the seventh floor?"
"Ah," said Harry. "I'd love to. However, we're going to have to wait until I get my invisibility cloak. We can never be seen going around together."
"I don't care if we're seen," said Pandora.
"Maybe not, but I do," said Harry. "You could get in loads of trouble if you're seen carrying on with a first year."
For a few seconds, Pandora didn't say anything to him.
"Are you still with me?" Harry asked her.
"No, I'm pouting," she said. "You're right. We'll have to make certain we are never seen."
Shortly before the dinner hour, Hermione and Draco returned to the hospital wing to tell Harry they could indeed see each other as seventeen as long as they were in candlelight.
"That's good to know," said Harry. "As long as I can make sure we're never seen, everything should be alright."
"You just need to be careful," said Hermione, nodding at him. They were chatting about nothing in particular when Dumbledore came into the hospital wing, still dressed in his Wizengamot robes.
"Is the hearing over?" asked Harry, as Dumbledore found and took a seat next to his bed.
"The hearing is over," said Dumbledore. "You will be interested to know the attack on you during the Quidditch match was ordered by Fudge."
"Fudge ordered it?" asked Draco. "I wonder why Flint admitted to planning it, then."
"Because he DID plan it," said Dumbledore. "Minister, rather, former Minister Fudge only ordered the attack."
"Did Fudge say why he ordered that attack?" asked Hermione.
"No, he wouldn't say," said Dumbledore, with a slight frown. "If I had to guess, he saw you as the instrument I was using in my plot to take over the Ministry."
"You've never wanted to be the Minister," said Hermione.
"No, I've never wished to be the Minister of Magic," said Dumbledore. "In fact, I declined the post when it was offered to me this afternoon."
"What else did Fudge do?" asked Draco.
"He did a lot," said Dumbledore. "Interestingly enough, it seems the only act he committed at the behest of the Death Eaters was to see that the Longbottoms stayed in their state of insanity. The rest appears to be only to thwart what he saw as challenges to his power."
"It just goes to show the lengths people will go to in order to get, and keep power," said Hermione. "Are they going to put him in Azkaban?"
"I don't think so," said Dumbledore. "The new Minister seems to be of the mind he didn't actually break any laws, only abused his power. However, St. Mungo's has petitioned the Wizengamot to have Frank and Alice Longbottom returned to them so that they might receive the proper care. There will be a hearing on that matter, soon. I'm afraid you'll be called to testify again, Harry."
"You're going to fight it?" asked Draco.
"No," said Dumbledore, "if the Wizengamot decides to send them back to St. Mungo's I'll of course comply with that decision." There was a little twinkle in his eye. "However, I'm going to have Professor Snape teach you the offensive capability you will need. Together, you and I will chase those dementors out of their minds."
"I get it," said Hermione. "If they are returned to normal, there can be no question of them going back to St. Mungo's, since they'll no longer need the treatment."
"Indeed," said Dumbledore, with a nod. "I can delay the hearing for a short time, hopefully long enough to be able to accomplish our goal."
"And if we can't get that done?" asked Harry. "What will you do then?"
"In that event," said Dumbledore, "they will more then likely be sent back to St. Mungo's. Even if that's the case, I think there will be no further keeping them on ice. I'd just prefer not to take that chance."
"Is it known why they were being kept in this state?" asked Hermione. "Do they know something Voldemort doesn't want coming to light?"
"That's my guess," said Dumbledore. "The only way we can ascertain that is to talk to them. And to talk to them, they'll need to be lucid."
"I can contact them if needed," said Harry.
"As a last resort," said Dumbledore. "My first choice is to return them to full health if we can."
"Is Rufus Scrimgeour the new Minister?" asked Draco.
"Funnily enough, he only received two votes of the Wizengamot," said Dumbledore. "His opponent had the support of everyone else."
"Oh," said Hermione. "Who's the new Minister?"
Dumbledore didn't answer for a few moments. However, he finally looked straight into Draco's eyes and said, "Lucius Malfoy is the new Minister of Magic."
And there's the bombshell I promised. I can almost hear some of you sitting there going, "No, you did NOT!" Ah, but just wait to see what little surprises I have in store for the next chapter. I've also tried to clear up the matter of Harry and Pandora snogging in the Room of Requirement, hopefully that did the trick.