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This Means War
5 - A Day In The Life Of A Prankster
From: Albus Dumbledore
To: Sirius Black
I will be arranging for Harry to have the time for his first lesson today. I suggest that you start in the Shrieking Shack. I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
This is, of course, in the utmost secrecy. I will be telling Harry’s friends that he is taking supplemental Occlumency lessons, and that you are providing an escort for him.
It is imperative that you encourage Harry as much as possible in these lessons, and do NOT place any limitations on him. It is starting to become obvious here at Hogwarts that he can do anything he sets his mind to, and placing limitations can impede this. I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you how important it is that he gets any edge over Voldemort he can.
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards
From: It’s too early
To: Early riser
Subject: Cabbages and Kings
Mornin’, Moony Ol’ Boy
Just had a curious Mmail from Dumbledore...
> It is imperative that you encourage Harry as much as possible in these lessons, and do NOT place any limitations on him. It is starting to become obvious here at Hogwarts that he can do anything he sets his mind to, and placing limitations can impede this.
Any idea what this means?
A tired S.
From: Early? Dawn broke hours ago
To: The Lazy Dog
Subject: Re: Since when have you read Carroll?
To put it in dog language: Woof woof woof bark woof bark.
From: Not amused!
To: Failed comic
Subject: Re: Re: Since you insisted on talking about the looking glass
Ha ha bloody ha!
Now give me the English version.
Sirius – and that explains so much
From: Extremely amused
To: The grumpy one
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Oh!
Ok, I thought it was funny...
As a guess, I’d say that it boils down to something in his third year. I was teaching the Patronus charm, and we know how hard that is. It seems that the information that a third year can’t produce a totally corporeal Patronus didn’t get to Harry.
Logic, and I know that’s a dirty word to you, would then dictate that the Professors at Hogwarts have come to the conclusion that Harry can do ANYTHING he thinks he can.
So, all you should have to do is show Harry how to Apparate, then see what rules he can break, and you should enjoy that.
And what do you mean by “and that explains so much”?
From: Not grumpy *pout*
To: Giggling to yourself is a sign of dementia
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: *smirk*
“Woof woof woof bark woof bark” is basically the biggest insult in dog language. It means that instead of eating sheep, you &*($ them.
From: Blinking wildly
Subject: Dog language
Are you serious?
From: I’m the dog Animagus
To: The werewolf
Subject: Re: Dog language
No, I’m Sirius!
From: Groaning wolf
Subject: Re: Re: Dog language
DAMN IT. IF YOU EVER MAKE ONE MORE SIRIUS/SERIOUS JOKE AGAIN, I WILL PRANK YOU INTO NEXT YEAR
From: Likes Scooby snacks
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Dog language
No need to shout, Remus old boy. And are my jokes that bad? Because Harry said the same thing.
From: Grateful for more blackmail material
To: A comedian without humour is a joke
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Dog language
From: Harry James Potter
To: Amelia Bones
Cc: Kingsley Shacklebolt
Subject: Obscure question
Hypothetically speaking, if a Death Eater was to suddenly appear in the Ministry of Magic, how long would it take to give him Veritaserum and put him on trial?
From: Amelia Bones (Head of Magical Law)
To: The Boy-Who-Lived
Cc: Amazingly Blind Auror
Subject: Re: Obscure question
To answer your question directly: we could do it immediately. Should we be expecting a Death Eater to suddenly appear?
The only problem I could foresee is interference from certain key Ministry personnel.
So, do you think he has something up his sleeve?
Subject: Re: Harry
I certainly hope so! He’s not the sort to ask a hypothetical question to sate his curiosity. I’m really curious now.
To: The chief justice
Cc: Head Auror
Subject: Re: Obscure question
So, it would help if Fudge was unavailable? I can probably organise that although it would help if Tonks was assigned as the Minister’s personal guard today.
On a completely unrelated side note, I would definitely not think about placing some Aurors in Mr Shacklebolt’s office. I probably wouldn’t reserve Court Number One today either. Oh, and I’m sure that a Daily Prophet reporter won’t be turning up.
From: Kingsley Shacklebolt
To: Harry Potter
Cc: Amelia, Tonks
Subject: Re: Today
I have no idea what you have up that sleeve of yours, but first of all, you can call me Kingsley. Anyone who’s duelled with the Dark Lord has earned that right.
For some reason, I’ve arranged for a meeting with four Aurors to discuss personnel requirements. This meeting should take all day.
Court Number One has been closed for cleaning although that should be finished about two minutes before the Court could be needed.
Tonks, you’re on guard duty today. The Minister may be making a trip, and we need to keep an eye on him.
From: The Boy Who Lived
To: Rita Skeeter
I propose a continuation to our truce. I need something done; you need to be in my good books.
If I were you, I’d spend the day catching up on your paperwork at the Ministry, perhaps hanging around Court Number One, despite it being closed for cleaning.
If something was to happen, and the results were to be reported by you in a fair and open manner, then I would perhaps be inclined to give you another exclusive interview.
Harry – who has friends at the Ministry who would love to know your secret.
From: The Prophet’s Top Reporter
To: The boy who grew up
Subject: Re: Scoop
Well, well, well, it looks like the innocent boy has finally started to grow up. Using the carrot and stick approach is a sure sign of maturity.
I’ll play along for today.
Harry groaned as he looked as his watch. Last night’s Portkey creating had taken a lot out of him, and he needed to do it again.
He dressed quickly, and jogged down to the Potions dungeons.
“Come in, Potter,” Snape called, as Harry knocked on the door
Harry walked in, looking around curiously. His professor was sitting behind his desk. The desk was completely clear, except for one bottle of green liquid standing in the absolute centre.
The dour professor had an expression on his face, which took the boy a few seconds to realise was nervousness.
“Here,” Snape said abruptly. “Drink this.”
Harry picked up the potion, and looked directly into the professor’s eyes, searching. Snape took a deep breath as for the very first time he experienced the sensation he had only been told about. He felt like those burning green eyes were delving into his soul, examining, judging him.
He really hoped that he passed, because the idea of Siberia was not a pleasant one.
Harry nodded slowly, and uncorked the bottle. “Cheers,” he grinned as he raised the bottle in a salute to the Potions Master, then drained it and winced; Snape knew that the taste was truly awful, worse than Wolfsbane.
It took a few seconds for the effects of the potion to hit, but when it did, Harry fell to his knees clutching his head in absolute pure agony. He struggled to keep his scream in as he curled into a tight ball.
It took a full sixty seconds for the potion to complete its work.
Snape waited patiently, deeply impressed that the boy hadn’t cried out, knowing just how painful the potion’s effects would be. He was more than a little sad as well, as he watched the boy writhe on the floor. No one should be so experienced with pain that they could withstand agony like that without crying out.
“My vision - it’s gone,” Harry whispered, his voice straining to rise into panic.
Snape sighed audibly. The boy was still a typical Gryffindor. “Take your glasses off.”
Harry did, and blinked. He looked around, and then blinked again.
He could see.
“I can see,” he whispered to himself, amazement and wonder now colouring his tone.
“One of my finest works,” Snape told him smugly. “It completely destroyed your optical nerves, cornea, and the rest of your eyes. It then created new ones, only without the imperfections of the original.”
“Why?” Harry eventually asked, fixing his gaze on his Potions Professor once more.
Severus Snape visibly paled, as he became the first recipient of Harry’s stare without the protection of a thin layer of glass. The boy’s eyes reminded him a little of Dumbledore, only without the benefit of years of experience in hiding emotions and curtailing power. They were raw and untouched, driven by something Snape wasn’t sure he even wanted to know.
He wanted to lie, to say something that wouldn’t make him look like exactly what Blaise and Ginny had called him.
“Because I don’t want you to send me to Siberia when you become Minister of Magic.”
Harry tilted his head, searching the professor for something. He wasn’t sure what, he just had a feeling that there was something deep inside the Potions Master, and he wanted to see it.
Severus struggled to keep a straight face, as the gaze bore into him mercilessly, deeper than he had ever let anyone.
“Don’t worry sir,” Harry smiled, his eyes shifting back to normal, as if nothing had happened. “I wouldn’t send you to Siberia.” He paused, enjoying the miniscule look of relief that flitted across Snape’s face. “I’m more partial to Alaska.”
Snape blinked. He tried as hard as he could, but he couldn’t hide the twitch of humour that flashed across his face. Harry grinned impishly at him, before his face dropped into a formal expression. “Thank you,” he said simply.
Snape inclined his head, acknowledging the expression of gratitude.
“I don’t think I’m quite ready for people to know about this,” the boy said, a thoughtful expression on his face as he considered the myriad situations he was currently involved in.
“Hiding a talent, Potter? How very Slytherin of you.”
“Coming from you, that’s definitely a compliment,” Harry mused.
Snape snorted, acknowledging the point. “Touch your wand to your glasses and say ‘Lassgay Learcay.”
Harry did what he was told, then smiled as the lenses turned completely clear. With another thank you, he then hurried off for breakfast.
To: Dumbledore and the other Heads
Subject: It works
First of all, I gave Harry the eye-repair potion this morning, and it worked perfectly. However, he has asked that it be kept secret for now, so I would appreciate it if no one told anyone.
Secondly, and as galling as it is to admit, it appears that Ms Weasley was correct. Harry wanted to change his glasses into clear lenses, so I told him to use ‘Lassgay Learcay’, which he did with complete success.
Advocating the end of silly wand waving for fifteen years
To: Albus, Sev, Pommie, Filli
Subject: Re: It Works
Oh, Severus! The Wizengamot would have your wand if they realised you were teaching children spells in Pig Latin.
Still, good to know it works; I’ll have to think up something for my lesson today.
To: Senior Staff
Subject: Re: It Works
Very interesting. Good work, Sev.
If you want a challenge, Min, teach him to be an Animagus. You already know that his father was one, and that sort of things tends to be hereditary.
From: Dumbledore, Albus
To: Head of Houses
Subject: Re: It Works
Capital idea, Filius.
Minerva, I’ll be telling Harry his new schedule at breakfast, so we can do it publicly - it will allay all suspicions from his friends
I’ll give you the same advice I gave Snuffles this morning: it’s important that you encourage Harry and not place any limitations on him.
I’m beginning to suspect that the root of Harry’s power is his magic itself. The boy seems to have a much closer relationship to magic than most of us; it’s almost at a personal level. I suggest you look at his aura when he is casting a spell; it’s a most entrancing sight.
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards
Are you insane? It takes months to learn to become an Animagus, even Harry knows that.
From: A sane mind is a boring one
To: Manic moggy
Subject: Re: Animagus
I assure you that I am in complete control of my faculty (pun intended) although, I have often wondered, if you were going mad, would you know?
As for the time, the Marauders taught themselves. Harry will have the benefit of the experience of the best Transfiguration teacher at school, and the most natural Animagus.
From: The cute kitty
Subject: Re: Animagus
Albus, if you were going mad, NO ONE would be able to tell.
As for the time, I can see your point, and as you know flattery will get you everywhere.
I’ll do my best to hide my natural scepticism.
Harry sat at the Gryffindor table, enjoying a lazy breakfast with Hermione and Ginny. His red-haired girlfriend was next to him, and his best friend opposite.
He looked over his shoulder, and to his delight noticed that Crabbe and Goyle were both sitting alone, near to Blaise and a few other D.A. members.
“I’ll be right back,” Harry announced, as he dropped a kiss on Ginny’s hair. “I need to arrange something.”
He walked over to the Slytherin table, pleased that there weren’t many people in the Great Hall to watch him.
“Hi Blaise,” he said loudly.
“Err, hi?” the girl responded, more than a little surprised to see him on this side of the Hall.
Harry winked at her, his back to the two Slytherin behemoths.
“There’s going to be a new D.A. meeting today.” His voice was calculated to carry to them. “I certainly hope that no one tells Fudge about it - as he tried to have it banned last year.”
Blaise saw the briefest flicker of intelligence appear in the eyes of the two boys, who were now watching them, in what they probably thought was a surreptitious manner.
“Ok, Harry,” Blaise replied. “I’ll not tell anyone about it. We’ll keep it a secret.”
“Thanks,” Harry grinned impishly. “I’ll see you later.”
He turned abruptly, and stifled a laugh as the two boys jumped backwards, and tried to appear innocent. Their expressions were curiously reminiscent of a couple of elephants that had just got themselves caught in the mud.
He walked back over to Ginny and Hermione and smiled happily. “Have you got a spare piece of parchment by any chance?” he asked.
Ginny handed him one from her bag, then watched over his shoulder as he scrawled out an Mmail.
“It’s past time you told us what your plan is,” Hermione stated firmly as she watched him begin writing.
Harry turned his head, and noticed that his girlfriend was nodding her agreement with Hermione, so decided it would be a wise move to tell them.
“It’s simple, really. To start with, I Mmailed Amelia Bones and Kingsley Shacklebolt to warn them that a Death Eater might be joining them later today. They said that wouldn’t be a problem, as long as Fudge was out of the way, so I told them I’d take care of it, as long as Tonks was on guard duty today.
“I’ve just now told Crabbe and Goyle that I would hate it if Fudge found out about the D.A., so they’ll try and be clever and tell Fudge anonymously, so they can get credit with their fathers for foiling one of my plans. I’m just going to send Tonks an Mmail, getting her to tell me when Fudge is on his way here to close down the D.A.
“Once I get that Mmail, and I’m certain that Fudge will be out of the way, away from the Ministry, I’ll send a Portkey attachment to Pettigrew.”
Harry was writing out the Mmail to Tonks, so he didn’t notice the stunned expressions that crossed the two girl’s faces.
“Harry,” Professor Dumbledore called as he approached the three. He was extremely curious to know what was causing the expressions on the two girls’ faces, but knew better that to ask what was causing it.
“I’ve arranged for you to have some supplementary Occlumency lessons with a master of the art,” he announced to the trio. “Unfortunately, she desires total anonymity, so your lessons will be held in Hogsmeade. You will have three two-hour sessions a week.”
“Three, sir?” Harry asked, surprised. He had only been expecting two: one for his dance lessons and one for his Apparating.
“Yes,” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled merrily. “If you’ll come with me, we’ll go and see Professor McGonagall to arrange your schedule.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry agreed. He sent the Mmail quickly, kissed his girlfriend lightly, and followed the ancient headmaster out of the Great Hall.
“Simple?” Ginny muttered under her breath.
“And they call me the genius?” Hermione muttered at the same time.
The two girls looked up, and grinned at each other.
“You know,” Hermione said quietly. “This little war with your brothers is incredibly good for Harry. It’s giving him all sorts of confidence in himself, and his ability to handle different situations. Do you have any idea what his prank is going to be?”
Ginny smiled happily. “I didn’t think this would have such a positive effect on him,” she admitted. “I’m really pleased though.”
“Harry’s prank?” Hermione prompted, as Ginny started to lose focus.
Ginny shook herself, and grinned. “I’ve not got a clue. All I know for sure is that it’s big, and he’s going to do all six of them at once. Oh, and he was talking to Professor Flitwick earlier about a charm to make a Muggle storeo...”
“Stereo,” Hermione corrected absently.
“Yeah, stereo, work in Hogwarts.”
From: Harry Potter
To: Lavender and Parvati
If I can get hold of several costumes, would you be able to adjust them to the sizes I give you?
I’ll pay you for your time, obviously.
Subject: Re: Costumes
Harry, we’d be delighted to help. I’m guessing that this has something to do with your rumoured upcoming prank. If that’s the case, we’ll do it for free.
We’re both expert seamstresses: we want to try to rival Madam Malkin when we finish school. The fact that we can help you would be really great public relations later, not to mention being a lot of fun, too.
To: Minster Fudge’s Public Address
We ave come into the knowlidge that Harry Potter is still running the D.A. club.
We think you should know.
From: Cornelius Oswald Fudge
It has come to my notice that an illegal club is still operating at Hogwarts. I will be visiting Hogwarts at midday to demand an explanation from the Headmaster. Please have a Portkey available for instant transport; I’m a busy man.
Vote Fudge in the upcoming elections. A vote for Fudge is a vote for Stability and Prosperity.
To: The boy with something up his sleeve
Harry, Fudge is going to turn up at midday to demand an explanation about your little club. What are you planning?
From: Totally innocent
To: My favourite metamorphmagus
Subject: Re: Fudge
Me? Nothing at all. I have no idea why Fudge would suddenly demand to come to Hogwarts.
On another note, how are you and Charlie doing these days?
From: Harry Potter
To: Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Professor Flitwick, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Sprout
Cc: Gin-gin, Hermi, Snuffles, Moony
Subject: Diner’s Association
I’d like to invite you all to lunch, in the Room of Requirement, today at noon. We will be having an extra special guest, Minister Fudge, who has somehow got it into his head that the D.A. is still active.
It seems obvious to me that he didn’t get the memo that the D.A. was the Diner’s Association - a group set up to allow students and teachers to talk in an informal manner and discuss what is currently happening in the school.
I feel it would be a good show of school spirit if he were to be invited to join us.
To: The four professors
Subject: Re: Diner’s Association
Ok, I’m not going offer odds on the idea that Fudge’s visit has something to do with last night’s Portkey revelations. I’m going to be there just to see what the young Slytherin has up his sleeve.
Advocating the end of silly wand waving for fifteen years
Cc: The three professors
Subject: Re: Diner’s Association
I will admit to being somewhat curious myself. He is definitely up to something. I suspect that Ms Weasley knows what it is; she was in a daze throughout her entire first period.
And Severus, might I remind you that Harry, whatever his actions, is still in Gryffindor. As such, he’s mine.
To: Severus and Minerva
Cc: Ponoma and Filius
Subject: Re: Diner’s Association
Minerva, I believe that you are correct when you say that Ms Weasley knows what is happening. I believe that Harry told her at breakfast, along with Ms Granger.
And I am sure that Severus wasn’t trying to steal Harry, he was just pointing out that he has been letting his inner Slytherin show a bit more recently.
I am eagerly looking forward to lunch with Minister Fudge. I’m sure it will be most illuminating. For everyone present.
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards
Subject: On our way
Harry, we’re leaving now.
Oh, and Charlie and I are getting close. Why?
From: Harry James Potter
To: Lord Voldemort
I’ve sent an Mmail detailing my skills to your worm.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Worm! Potter has sent you a letter. Read it and send me the contents immediately. The fool is joining our forces. As soon as he arrives, we will kill him.
Victory or Death
Harry smiled as Sirius, in his Padfoot form, and Remus walked into the Room of Requirement. Sirius transformed to his normal self upon seeing Harry. Harry walked over and hugged them both. “I’m so glad you could come.”
“We’re glad to be here,” Remus smiled. “Why, exactly, did you invite us?”
Harry smiled innocently. “I just wanted to see my favourite godfather and teacher.”
Any response was forestalled by the arrival of Ginny and Hermione.
“Hey,” Ginny smiled, dropping a kiss on her boyfriend’s cheek.
“Woooo,” Sirius smirked. “I’ll bet that’s not all she kisses,” he teased, hoping to make her blush. He remembered how she would blush when she was younger, and felt the opportunity was too good to miss.
Harry took a quick step forwards, placing himself between Ginny and Sirius. “I really wish you hadn’t done that,” the boy said, shaking his head softly. “You’ll be regretting it shortly.”
“What?” Sirius demanded.
“Let me tell you what my wonderful girlfriend did to Draco Malfoy,” Harry said as he manoeuvred his godfather away from Ginny.
Fudge stormed through the doors of Hogwarts, in a manner he was convinced was majestic. Tonks and two other Aurors followed behind him, hiding their smiles.
“Minister Fudge,” Professor McGonagall called, faking surprise at seeing him. “What can Hogwarts do for you?”
“I’m here to see Dumbledore,” he growled, trying to be as intimidating as possible.
The austere professor raised one eyebrow, distinctly unimpressed. “If you’ll follow me, he is currently having a meeting with the D.A.”
“The D.A.?” Fudge cried, scurrying after the tall professor.
McGonagall hid a smirk, and walked a little faster, causing the Minister to have to half trot to keep up with her.
“He’s not only aware of it, but is encouraging it? I’ll have his resignation over this.”
Professor Dumbledore had charmed the entrance to the Room of Requirement to act like a normal door for a small period of time. McGonagall opened the door and entered the room. It was set up like a Victorian dining room. A long mahogany table was surrounded by chairs, all of which were currently filled with the senior staff of Hogwarts, and Harry, Ginny, and Hermione.
“Minister Fudge,” Harry said delightedly, as he stood. “What a pleasant surprise. Will you be joining us for our D.A. meeting?”
“What?” Fudge blustered.
“The D.A.,” Harry continued. “The Diner’s Association. Professor Dumbledore felt it would be beneficial if members of each house could have dinner with the Professors to talk about the school. We’re allowed one guest, normally, so I invited Professor Lupin. We’re so lucky that you decided to come on our day. Won’t you please join us?”
Fudge gaped at him, his mouth open and closing as he tried to come to terms with the idea that there was no such thing as the Defence Association, and that he had been tricked.
“Yes, Cornelius,” Dumbledore said, getting to his feet. “Please join us.” He waved his wand, creating several more chairs for the new guests.
The lunch was a success, with intelligent and frank discussion around the table. The professors individually made a mental note to try this again in the future, for real.
“Excuse me,” Harry suddenly announced, looking embarrassed. He pulled out his wand and checked his Mmail. He smiled at the contents.
“Tell me, Minister. What do you think of Sirius Black?”
Sirius was currently in his Animagus dog form, being fed scraps from Hermione’s plate. Ginny was studiously ignoring his pleas for scraps from her as well.
“Disgusting criminal. Such a disgrace to the wizarding world.”
Sirius sat up, and growled threateningly.
Fudge looked down at the dog that suddenly appeared and smiled internally. Here was a chance to assert his authority and remind everyone here exactly who was in charge. “That mutt has no collar, or any magical restraints,” he stated portentously.
Sirius snarled again, his hatred for the man who had imprisoned him overriding any good sense. He lunged forwards, only to be grabbed by Harry, restraining him.
Snape rolled his eyes; he could see that this wasn’t going to end well.
“I’ll have to demand that such a dangerous mutt be put down instantly,” Fudge said, his face glistening with fear. The dog’s resemblance to a Grim was not lost on him.
“You,” he pointed to one of the Aurors next to Tonks, “take this mutt to the Department of Magical Animals instantly.”
Harry froze, and looked to Dumbledore, who appeared stumped. Technically, Fudge was correct. Sirius’ animal form was neither licensed nor restrained, and as such, with his size and the fact he was in Hogwarts, it meant that the animal was in some way magical and therefore could be dangerous.
“No!” Ginny cried, as she lunged forwards. She dropped to her knees next to the surprised dog and buried her face in the dog’s neck. “Not my Snuffles.”
The red-haired girl looked up at the Minister of Magic, her eyes bright with unshed tears. “You can’t kill him, Mister, you can’t. He’s just a little overprotective of my boyfriend and me. He’s a good dog, really. He’s just being a bad doggy now.”
The witch looked down again, and smacked his nose firmly. “Bad Snuffles, bad doggy!”
Sirius whined, partly because he had to act the part, and partly because the girl hadn’t held back when she’d smacked him.
Remus Lupin coughed, trying desperately to hide the hysterical laughter welling up inside him. Harry had told Sirius this would happen, and now the Animagus was paying for it.
The five teachers were each, with varying degrees of success, trying to hide their laughter, too. McGonagall was probably enjoying the scene the most, seeing as she still remembered that time when Sirius had had a few too many butterbeers.
With her condemnation over, Ginny light scratched Sirius’ haunch.
Sirius’ animal took complete control over him, and he wagged his tail eagerly, then bent over and licked himself, before he realised what he was doing. If it was possible for a dog to blush, he would have.
Ginny looked back at the Minister, and made her voice a little higher than normal, while adopting a wide-eyed look.
“Please don’t hurt my little cuddly, snugly, Snuffly-poo. I meant to get him a license, I really did, but I couldn’t afford it. I found him as a puppy, in Hogsmeade, when I was feeling really homesick. I was so alone, and he just came over to me and licked my face. He was so cute and nice, and such an innocent little puppy, not even house broken yet. I tried to train him, but he’s obviously a simple dog because it took AGES to teach him not to go potty where he shouldn’t, and not to keep chewing on my shoes. But I love him! He’s always comforted me when I cried, and I feed him scraps from the table, and his tongue tickles, and he rarely has fleas, but sometimes he does have gas, and they really smell, and he’s my bestest friend. Please don’t hurt him, Mister, please.”
Fudge concentrated for a moment, slightly distracted by trying to work out how the girl had said all of that without pausing for a breath. Harry was now bright red, as he tried desperately to control himself. The urge to laugh was so bad it was almost painful. Hermione was banging her head against the table, trying as hard as she could to hold her laughter in. Snape, in a moment of brilliant common sense, cast a Silencing spell on the teachers and Remus. Behind the Minister, Tonks’ hair was rapidly cycling in colours as she tried to control her laughter.
“I’ve been saving up my pocket money for ages, Mister,” Ginny continued, absently stroking Sirius’ stomach now, causing him to roll onto his back with his paws in the air. “I’m going to get him licensed. I was gonna ask Uncle Remus to do it for me, cause I’m in school and all. I couldn’t decide if I should get him neutered or not.”
Sirius whimpered pathetically, under the spell of her fingers and not willing to move.
Snape froze dead still, as revenge for all of Sirius’ pranks was done before his eyes. He called on the skills he had garnered from facing Voldemort not to collapse in paroxysms of laughter. To help control himself, he silently chanted over and over again, under his breath, “She should have been in Slytherin... She should have been in Slytherin.”
The whimper was too much for Remus. He suddenly found he had to tie his shoelace, bent over, and once out of sight, he collapsed into a ball and gave in to the hysterical laughter.
“I thought about putting him out to stud for a bit. He’s such a big dog, with such good lines that I’m sure someone would want him. That way he could pay for himself. What do you think, sir?”
Fudge found that he couldn’t look away from the girl, whose eyes seemed to be glowing.
“Err,” he started, “I think that the safest thing...”
“Oh,” Ginny interrupted, “You’re right; they were teaching us in school the other day that there is no such thing as safe sex. They’ll have to come off.”
Filius Flitwick slid off his chair, and joined Remus on the floor. He took a second to admire Snape’s spell, as it made them completely silent, while allowing them to hear what was going on, before letting his laughter consume him.
Ponoma Sprout bent over the table allowing her hair to hide her face, as she rocked back and forth, tears pouring down her cheeks.
Severus Snape was now incredibly still, completely locked in place.
Minerva McGonagall drew from all the experience of dealing with the original Marauders and the Weasley twins, and appeared as if nothing was happening. Only the continuous twitching of her lips betrayed her deep emotions.
Albus Dumbledore was the same as always, except perhaps for the twinkling in his eyes, which was at record levels.
Tonks had given up now, and was hugging her knees with her back against the wall in the same position of the other Auror members, who had been carefully chosen, as they knew the truth about Sirius Black.
“But,” Ginny continued, reaching for her wand. “I can’t afford to get it done, so I’ve been studying.” She transfigured a couple of the knives on the table into a pair of shears, with glowing red tips.
“Look, it cauterises as well as cuts,” she announced proudly, showing it to the Minister of Magic.
Fudge took one look and automatically grabbed his crotch, reassuring himself that he was still intact.
Sirius, feeling the heat from the blades, tried to squirm away, but was held firmly in place by Ginny, who displayed surprising strength.
“I’ll have to be careful though, otherwise I might cut more than his testicles.”
Sirius fainted, the idea was more than he could handle.
“Look,” Ginny said. “He’s gone to sleep, I can do it now. Won’t you help me, Mister?”
Fudge gulped, and then shook his head wildly. “No. No, that’s quite all right, Ms Weasley. I’ve just remembered that I am due back at my office, immediately. Get him licensed and we’ll hear no more of this, I promise.”
The Minister took one last look at the prone dog and ran out of the door, not wanting to see what the girl was about to do. The Aurors, who took a necessary second to compose themselves, followed him and shot incredibly grateful glances at Ginny for the privilege of watching the entertainment.
Sirius awoke, and looked relieved as Ginny transfigured the shears back to knives.
“I’m sorry,” Ginny said, her face showing remorse, “but Fudge insisted that I finish the job.”
Sirius’ eyes went as wide as possible for a dog, and then, despite the fortitude he had gained from his years in Azkaban, he fainted again.
Dumbledore slumped into the nearest chair, and for the first time in many, many years, collapsed into hysterical laughter. The look on the dog Sirius’ face as Ginny lied to him would live in his memory until he died.
The Animagus recovered again, to see the rest of the room in hysterical laughter. He transformed back to himself, and grabbed for his crotch to check. It was only then he realised that he had been pranked.
He made a move towards the girl, but found himself unable to move, as did the rest of the room as Harry decided he should get to Ginny first. It wasn’t a conscious decision on his part to use magic; he just wanted to make sure he got there before anyone else.
He moved and picked the small girl off the floor, swinging her around.
“That was amazing,” he told her, his eyes intense. “You were brilliant.”
He took a deep breath, trying to control himself. He raised one hand, and lightly cupped her cheek, so he could look into her eyes.
“I love you, Ginny Weasley,” he told her for the first time, as earnestly as possible.
Ginny lost herself in his eyes. She flushed at his praise, and then looked amazed at his declaration. The others found that they could move again as Harry was currently distracted. “Do you mean that, Harry, really?”
“With all my heart,” he whispered simply.
Ginny reached up and kissed him as gently as she could, letting all her feelings for this raven-haired boy to come out.
Remus, back on his feet, looked at the two with admiration and a bit of jealousy. First, James Potter had managed to get Lily Evans to fall for him, and she was one of the best witches in the world, as far as he was concerned. And now Harry had this wonderful girl, who was so very different from Lily, but the same in her obvious love. He envied the Potter’s luck at finding their life mates so early in life.
Harry kept their kiss as brief as possible, aware of their audience.
“Ms Weasley,” Snape said first, “take 20 points for Gryffindor for your Slytherin-like quick thinking.”
“And take 20 more for your excellent Transfiguration,” McGonagall added, determined not to be outdone by Snape. These children were still her students, after all.
Harry moved so that Ginny’s back was against his chest, wrapped his arm securely around the her waist, deciding he had no wish at all to break contact at the moment, something Ginny was more than happy to abide with. The teachers, Hermione, and Remus were all in various states of dishevelment from laughing so much. Sirius looked like he wasn’t sure if he should be grateful or annoyed, as he realised just how successfully Ginny had pranked him.
“I’m sure you are all wondering why Fudge was here,” Harry said, deciding it was time to come clean.
Dumbledore, back under control, nodded. The other teachers sat back down.
Harry didn’t move, he was enjoying this cuddling. He was about to explain, when the sign of an incoming Mmail appeared. He touched his wand to it, and grinned.
“How about I answer your questions after you read the Mmail you’re about to get,” he told the gathered people.
They looked a little confused, as the Mmail sign appeared before all of them.
From: The Daily Prophet
To: Mailing List Subscribers - Early Edition
Subject: Sirius Black Innocent!
*The Daily Prophet*
*/_Sirius Black Innocent!_/*
*Peter Pettigrew Alive!*
Special Report: Rita Skeeter
In astonishing news from the Ministry of Magic, Peter Pettigrew is alive! He was turned over to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement yesterday and administered Veritaserum immediately. Mr. Pettigrew was captured by none other than the Boy-Who-Lived, Harry J. Potter. Mr. Potter released a statement saying that his parents, James and Lily Potter could now rest in peace after the capture of their Secret Keeper, who released their whereabouts to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named fifteen years ago.
This information came as a shocking discovery to the community, as it has long been believed that Sirius Black was the Potters’ Secret Keeper, and had betrayed them. The Potters, Black, Pettigrew, and Remus J. Lupin had all been friends at Hogwarts and remained so after their graduation from school. According to sources around the family, Black, 37, was the original choice for Secret Keeper, but had convinced the Potters to choose Pettigrew, as he would not be as obvious a choice.
In Court Room One at the Ministry of Magic, Madam Amelia Bones held an emergency court session to convict Peter Pettigrew of being an accessory to the murder of James and Lily Potter, as well as the murders of twelve Muggles. He was sentenced immediately to the Dementors’ Kiss at Azkaban Prison. Aurors transported him directly for his sentence to be carried out.
Madam Bones said to Mr Pettigrew in his sentencing, “You are a disgusting individual, who has helped ruin countless lives. You are personally responsible for crimes that would cripple the normal person with overwhelming guilt. I find you guilty of all charges, and sentence you to receive the Dementors’ Kiss immediately.”
Bones continued, “As for Sirius Black, I find him innocent of all charges, and is hereby free to continue his life as normal, with no stain on his character or record. Restitution for the years of wrongful imprisonment will be decided at a later date.”
On November 1, 1981, the day after the Potters’ murder by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Sirius T. Black was accused of murdering Peter Pettigrew and twelve Muggles on a busy London street. The chilling DMLE report taken from Aurors on the scene depicted Mr. Black as a cold-blooded murderer who had killed not one, but actually three, of his best friends. Dedalus Diggle’s personal account of the scene was that Black was found laughing when the Aurors appeared to take him away.
Black was given no trial at the time of his arrest and was sentenced to Azkaban Prison immediately. He spent twelve years as an inmate of Azkaban. Black escaped in 1993. A massive manhunt had been underway with both the magical and muggle governments. He was never found.
Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke to this reporter as soon as court was out of session.
“Pettigrew’s capture was orchestrated purely by Harry, and without his help, this travesty of justice would have continued for many years,” Shacklebolt stated, as prime Auror responsible for ongoing efforts to find Sirius Black. “I have at no point believed that Sirius was guilty. I have known Mr. Black since we were at Hogwarts together on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. My main interest in Sirius’ case was to find him, only to prove his innocence.”
An anonymous source inside the Ministry states that Mr Black is part of a secret organization that is fighting against You-Know-Who. Such interesting information, considering most of us have believed that Black is a Death Eater. At press time, I was unable to interview the newly pardoned wizard.
There was a stunned silence inside the Room of Requirement, as everyone finished reading at different times.
“You did it!” Ginny squealed, twisting herself around so that she could kiss him. “You did it!” she bounced wildly with joy, knowing just how much it meant to him, and to Sirius.
Sirius Black stared at the illusory representation of the Mmail pronouncing his freedom. He couldn’t believe it.
Remus lightly placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder, and smiled at him. “Congratulations, Sirius.”
“Remus, why don’t you take him to my office,” Dumbledore said. “I have some firewhiskey in the desk; Sirius looks like he could use a drink. The password is ‘Harry Emergency’.
The werewolf nodded and guided the unresisting Animagus out the door.
“You sent Pettigrew one of your Portkey Attachments?” Dumbledore asked Harry. The headmaster was watching Harry with an amused expression.
“Yes, sir,” Harry replied. “Hermione and Ginny were the ones that came up with the spell and how to attach it to the Mmail.”
Hermione smiled slightly. Her eyes were now back to normal, having recovered from the tears of laughter. It was so like Harry to immediately give all the praise to everyone else, as if his contribution had been negligible. She wished that Ron was here enjoying it as well, but knew why he wasn’t. As much as she loved him, she definitely needed him to get rid of some of his attitudes. She could not agree to spend the rest of her life with someone who was both hypocritical and closed-minded. He had many wonderful qualities that she adored, but his refusal to see the world in anything but Gryffindor red, while fine when she was younger, was now standing in their way.
“How did you get Pettigrew’s Mmail address?” Snape was the first to ask.
“Voldemort gave it to me, with an invitation to join him.”
“And you got Fudge here, so that Ms Bones could deal with him without interference?”
“Pretty much,” Harry agreed. “I figured that with the way the Ministry works, if we could get him tried and sentenced before anyone could use their influence, it would be a lot better for everyone involved. The only person who could have stopped it was Fudge, and he was helpfully out of the way.”
“Well,” Dumbledore was smiling with pride. “I feel that congratulations are in order, although we must now be on guard, as Voldemort won’t take this lying down. ”
From: Hermione Granger
To: Fleur Delacour, Penelope Clearwater, Nymphadora Tonks, Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson
Cc: Ginny Weasley
I feel that I should bring to your attention the behaviour of the overbearing prats we all seem to be in love with. I have tried to find a cure for this, but it seems that one doesn’t exist. ;-)
It seems that the Weasley boys, not content with destroying two of Ginny’s relationships, have decided to try and ruin a third - regardless of the fact that Ginny is completely in love with her new boyfriend, one Harry Potter.
So far, they have caused Harry to appear in the Great Hall, clad in only a towel, as a warning to make him leave her.
Now, it does seem that Harry is handling it very well so far, but that’s not the point. If your boys are anything like Ron, this behaviour is hypocritical in the extreme.
So, I would like to propose the creation of the Society for Protection from Overbearing Twits.
I suspect that we will need all the help we can give each other.
I have started to get hints of the prank that Harry is planning in revenge on the Twits, and I believe that we will be able to get front row seats if we offer our help to him.
From: Fleur Delacour
To: S.P.O.T. Members
Attachment: Veela Bible.pmt
Subject: Re: S.P.O.T.
I completely agree with Hermione. I had no idea that Bill was participating in such underhanded behaviour.
I have decided that until his attitude changes, he has lost certain privileges.
I have no problem with helping Harry; he’s such a charming boy.
Attached is the Veela Bible, as a gift to my new sisters. I feel that you will enjoy its contents when this is all over.
To: S.P.O.T. Members
Subject: Re: Re: S.P.O.T.
Count me in. I had thought that Percy had had enough of being a prat last year, when he wouldn’t believe Harry. This is going too far.
I agree with Fleur. Percy is cut off as well.
To: Fellow S.P.O.T. members
Subject: Re: Re: Re: S.P.O.T
I’m in as well. While I’m falling for Charlie, I do feel like he could do with being taken down a peg or two.
Mind you, I’m not sure that Harry really needs any help dealing with them.
Have you seen what he did today? He freed his godfather and captured Voldemort’s right-hand man in a single action. Still, when he pranks back, it should be good, so if it will get us seats, I’m all for it.
From: Katie and Angelina
To: Everyone in S.P.O.T.
Subject: Us too
Yep, we’ll join in. Fred and George are about to experience a dry spell. Good idea, Hermione, although we really need to talk about titles at some stage.
“Thank you,” Sirius said firmly, as he embraced Harry in a huge hug. Several shots of fire whiskey, and a walk through Hogsmeade as himself, had convinced him that it was true. That he was finally free.
Harry grinned happily.
The two of them were walking towards the Shrieking Shack for Harry’s first Apparating lesson, as it was just outside the anti-Apparating wards of Hogwarts.
“Ok, Harry.” Sirius adopted a serious, professor-like demeanour, which lasted approximately five seconds before Harry pushed him over.
Sirius transformed into his dog shape as he fell, and then bounded onto Harry, knocking the boy over. He eagerly licked his face, drooling as much as possible.
“Eww,” Harry yelled. “Down boy, or I’ll tell Gin!”
Sirius bounced off him and turned back, shooting a foul look at his godson. “Hiding behind her skirts?”
“Sure,” Harry agreed, and then grinned impishly. “I get a great view of her arse from there.”
Sirius laughed loudly. “You seem to have fallen for a fire cracker.”
Harry nodded, “I know. She’s amazing.”
“Anyway, back to Apparating. I’m supposed to give you a load of theory about how this works, but you know me. I couldn’t follow a rule if I was drawing a straight line.”
Harry laughed and nodded.
“What I want you to do is pretty simple. All you’re going to do is imagine, as vividly as you can a destination, which in our case is that corner. Then open your mind, and push yourself there. The travelling feels like the opposite of a Portkey. Whereas that grabs you by the stomach and pulls you, this is your magic pushing you, so it feels like a huge mattress is pressed against your back.”
Sirius moved next to Harry.
“Watch me first.” A fraction of a second later, Sirius was standing the other side of the room, having turned around.
“See, it’s easy.”
Harry nodded and breathed deeply, suddenly very nervous.
“Don’t worry about it,” Sirius called from across the room. “Fred and George can do it, so it can’t be that hard, can it?”
Harry laughed and nodded. He concentrated on the corner and tried to open his mind.
“That’s it,” Sirius’ voice floated across the room. “Now push yourself there.”
Harry tried. He could feel his magic growing behind him, eagerly trying to help, but he couldn’t seem to release it.
Sirius gave him another second, and then decided to help. As silently as he could, he Apparated behind Harry, and shouted, “Boo!”
Harry jumped, and twisted. “SIRIUS!” he yelled. “What the hell was that?”
Sirius looked smug. “Have you seen where you are?”
Harry looked around, and realised he was in the other corner.
“I did it?” he asked, uncertainly.
“Yep,” Sirius had a look of almost fatherly pride on his face. “Now, see if you can come back over here, without me having to scare you.”
Harry nodded, and did as he was told. He arrived next to Sirius with a loud pop.
“Excellent,” his godfather said. “Now, I want you to do it again, but this time, try and keep the noise down. I know the twins make a lot of noise, but they do it for effect. You’re going to want to be able to move as silently as possible. The displaced air causes the noise as you reappear. If you try and appear a bit slower, you should be able to do it.”
Harry nodded, and concentrated once more. It seemed a lot easier now that his magic knew what to do. The sensation was much better than using a Portkey. He felt like he was in control. He disappeared, and reappeared behind Sirius as slowly as possible.
With a grin, he shouted, “Boo!”
Sirius jumped, and glared at Harry, who looked back innocently.
“Ok,” Sirius growled. “As you seem to have this short range thing down, how about Apparating to Little Whinging?”
“Sure,” Harry agreed eagerly. “The park?”
“Yep,” Sirius said, as he vanished, leaving Harry to do it by himself.
The green eyed boy grinned and vanished as well.
Instead of immediately appearing, he paused in the ether to have a look around. It was exceedingly grey. He could see strips of light flash past him, and presumed that they were other wizards Apparating.
In the distance, he could see what looked like a wall, and moved towards it.
He was there instantly, distance having no meaning in the void. He took a close look at the wall, curious as to what it was. What he had thought was solid, was actually a fast moving swirling demi-sphere of magic. It seemed to cover a huge area.
As he watched, he could see small holes twinkle in the shield, as if it was made up of multiple layers of magic, all revolving around a central point at varying speeds.
Harry knew what he was about to do was incredibly foolish, but he couldn’t help himself. He watched the patterns formed by the shield, and then pushed himself towards the space where a hole was about to appear. He timed it perfectly, and was through the shield.
A millisecond later, he appeared in Professor Dumbledore’s office.
Dumbledore was sitting in his big chair, his feet on desk. He was not wearing shoes, but was wearing socks that would have made Dobby proud. In his hand was a report from one of his Order members.
Albus suddenly felt someone in his room, and jumped to his feet, his wand out and pointing at the intruder. As far as he was concerned, no one should have been able to just be there.
“Harry,” he said, as he sat back down again. “It’s not very nice to scare an old man like that. Shouldn’t you be with Sirius?”
Harry blushed. “Sorry, sir. I was Apparating with Padfoot, but stopped to have a look at the void. I saw this huge shield, so I had a closer look. I was curious, so when I saw a pattern in the holes that appeared, I shot through them. But I thought it was supposed to be impossible for you to Apparate in Hogwarts?”
Dumbledore fixed his pale blue eyes on the boy and looked thoughtful. “Not impossible, Harry,” he said eventually. “It’s just beyond the ability of most wizards. Why don’t you go back to Sirius, we’ll talk about this later.”
Harry nodded and vanished, finding it easier to anticipate the holes in the shield this time.
From: Albus Dumbledore
To: Aberforth Dumbledore
Aberforth, how are you, old boy?
I was wondering if you might do me a quick favour, and have a look at the wards surrounding Hogwarts. I’ve just had someone tell me there are holes in them.
From: Little Brother
To: Big Brother
Subject: Re: Wards
I’m fine; people still leave me alone thinking that I am quite mad. Of course, the goats helped with that.
Have you tried Gummi Bears? They’re a Muggle confectionary I tried for the first time the other day. Most enjoyable.
I had a look at the Wards, and I must say that they are still our finest work to date.
Impenetrable, and I couldn’t find a thing wrong with them. I’m afraid that who ever told you there were holes in it must be as mad as I am reputed to be.
From: Dumbledore, Snr
To: Dumbledore, Jnr
Subject: Re: Wards
I did try Gummi Bears a few years ago, and they were indeed, most enjoyable. Not as good as my Lemon Drops, of course.
I do wish you weren’t quite so determined to appear mad. Or that you wouldn’t do it in such a strange manner. Look at me, everyone thinks I’m quite mad, and I’m still respected.
As for the wards, I just had a student Apparate through them. He said that he paused to have a look at the Void, saw the wards, found a hole in them, and went through it.
From: I can hardly be called Jnr, I’m over 150
To: The Ancient one
Subject: Re: Re: Wards
You were always the one who wanted respect, Albus; I just wanted a quiet life, a little barkeeping on the side, and helping you out when ever you ask. You know how I feel about the Wizarding world. If the Ministry had one bit of sense, none of this nasty Voldemort business would be happening.
Now, as for this student of yours... Need I point out how ridiculous that sounds? I was quite ready to declare you completely insane and commit you to St Mungo’s. But, on the off chance you were right, I decided to try an experiment: I Apparated without a destination in mind.
It turns out that your student is quite correct, and that Void is a very good name for it. I would suggest that you try it sometime. Anyway, I had a look at our Wards, and sure enough, there are tiny holes in it. I suspect it is the nature of magic itself. I tried to get through one of them, but couldn’t.
I also had a look at the Ministry of Magic, and found that they have some rather shoddy work over there. Not as good as ours at all. Their holes are much bigger, and I managed to get through them with some effort.
I truly wouldn’t worry about it, Albus. I’d say that there are only ten or fifteen wizards on the planet capable of entering the Void, and only three (your student not included - and I mean You, Me and Voldemort) who would be capable of piercing the wards at the Ministry, and none capable of entering Hogwarts.
While I would say that a good half of the wizards capable of entering the Void are on the Dark Side, I think that none of them would even think of doing it. I hadn’t.
Oh, and please congratulate Mr Potter for me. In fact, why don’t you and he come to tea one night? I’d be fascinated by what else he could do.
A very curious Abe.
From: I’m only a year older than you
To: The spring chicken
Subject: Re: Wards
Thank you, Abe. I appreciate your time on this. I’d be delighted to bring Mr Potter along. Congratulations on an extremely accurate guess by the way.
We have recently noted that, partly due to Harry’s upbringing, he has no idea that there are some things you just can’t do. He managed to capture Peter Pettigrew earlier using a Portkey Mmail attachment. It is most stimulating to teach him, as he is a constant surprise.
Shall we say Friday @ 6pm? I think I will get Mr Potter to Apparate us both to your house.
“So what took you so long?” Sirius asked.
“Oh, I stopped to have a look around on the way here,” Harry replied cheerfully.
“How are you feeling?”
“Fine,” Harry grinned.
“Ok, have you ever read Quidditch Through the Ages?”
Harry looked surprised at the apparent non sequitur. “I’ve glanced through it a few times.”
“Ok,” Sirius nodded. That was the only book that he could think of that Harry might have read that mentioned a limitation about international Apparating. “What I want you to do is called dual-Apparating. You’re going to Apparate us both to Isla Español.”
“Where’s that?” Harry asked.
“You don’t need to know,” Sirius grinned. “Come on; are you up for the challenge?”
Harry reached out and grabbed Sirius’ hand, and they vanished together, reappearing on a sandy beach.
“Wow,” Sirius looked really impressed. “Great work, kid. Most wizards can’t even travel internationally, never mind with someone else in tow. How do you feel now?”
“Tired,” Harry admitted with a yawn. “Where are we?”
Sirius smiled a little, and led Harry down the beach, to a small cave. Inside it was the remains of a fire, and a lot of dead bird carcasses.
Harry’s eyes went wide, as he turned and looked at his Godfather. “This is where you were?”
Sirius nodded quietly, an unusually serious expression on his face.
“You never told me what happened, in any detail,” Harry prompted. He used his wand to create a fire and two comfortable chairs.
Sirius smiled and sat down. He looked out at the beach, marvelling once more at the 25-metre-tall spray.
“When Bellatrix sent me into the veil, I panicked, and attempted to Apparate away. It saved my life. The veil is a gateway to, well, somewhere unpleasant. I think I Apparated halfway through the transport. It was incredibly difficult, and I remember using everything I had. I ended up here, no idea how. I was so tired, I turned into Snuffles and fell asleep.
“When I awoke, it was dark. I tried to turn back, but couldn’t. I had no magic left in me, at all. I was really worried, because the idea of spending my life as a dog, on an island in the middle of nowhere, isn’t that pleasant. And of course, I was worried out of my mind about a certain godson.”
Sirius idly conjured up a couple of drinks, passing one silently to Harry.
“I was here about two months before I started to feel my magic building back up. I was extremely relieved when I realised that. I lived on the Mockingbirds and Lava Lizards that are the native animals around here, which wasn’t the most inspired diet, but it kept me alive.”
Sirius got to his feet and started to pace, the memories affecting him. “It was another month before I could turn back to being a human. I’d explored the island as a dog, but was worried about approaching people looking like I did - my terrorist look isn’t that popular with Muggles.”
“SIRIUS!” A voice suddenly shouted, interrupting them. A golden-skinned woman, wearing what looked like a light poncho and a vivid pink skirt, was storming towards them. Although Harry couldn’t understand the language she was speaking, it seemed pretty obvious that she was swearing.
Harry looked at his godfather, who was shuffling his feet and looking embarrassed. The lady, who was barefoot, finally reached them, and without hesitation swung her right fist back and delivered a devastating right hook to the ex-convict’s chin.
Sirius dropped to the floor like a punch-drunk boxer.
The woman, still incensed, kicked sand over him, still shouting in the strange language. Harry idly contemplated helping his godfather out, but decided that whatever Sirius had done, he probably deserved what was happening.
Finally, the woman dropped to her knees and kissed the fallen wizard hard, leaving him dazed.
“You godson?” she asked Harry, in broken English.
“Yes,” Harry said, nodding at the same time.
“Sirius love you very much. Him talk about nothing else. Him also promise keep in touch with Juanita. Him lying pig.”
Harry laughed, “You knew Sirius when he was here?”
“Sí, Sirius stay my place, make beast with two backs lots.”
Sirius was now blushing furiously; he quickly cast a translation spell on the two of them, allowing them to speak Spanish.
“I’m sorry, Juanita,” he started to apologise. “I meant to call you, I did.”
“You bloody wizards,” was the polite translation of the lady’s words.
Sirius froze. “You know about wizards?”
Juanita rolled her eyes. “You appear from nowhere, with no identification, no means of support, saying that you have been around for several months. At the same time, the huge dog that was hunting the local wildlife disappears, and only appears when you are not around. You got excited when you saw an owl for the first time, and you managed to get off the island when someone sent you a dirty sock. I may just be a simple peasant girl, but I am not stupid, Sirius Black!”
“So, Sirius wasn’t alone the entire time he was here then?” Harry asked.
“Suddenly he speaks Spanish like a native? Wizard!”
Harry nodded and took off his glasses; at least he knew where he was now. He remembered doing a school project on the Galápagos Islands before he went to Hogwarts.
He stared into the woman’s eyes, examining her deeply.
Juanita gasped, before the Boy-Who-Lived turned his gaze onto his godfather.
Harry could feel Sirius’ confidence, he’d had staring contest with his godfather before. He smirked to himself, Padfoot had no idea how much easier this was without his glasses in the way.
He smiled at the women in front of him. “Is there anything you want from your home?”
“My jewellery,” Juanita replied, almost in a daze.
“Accio Juanita’s Jewellery,” Harry called, concentrating hard, waving his wand.
“What are you doing, Harry?” Sirius asked, suddenly very nervous.
Harry smirked at him, but didn’t answer.
The jewellery arrived a minute later. Harry stood from the chair, grabbed Juanita’s, and Sirius’ hands, and transported them to the Black residence in Grimmauld Place.
“Where am I?” Juanita sounded a little scared.
“England,” Harry replied. “Sirius loves you. He couldn’t come back to you, like he wanted, because he was still a wanted criminal for a crime he didn’t commit. He thought it would be better if you forgot about him than for you to live a life on the run. He was found innocent this afternoon, and the first thing he did was come back to be near you.”
The last line was a slight exaggeration, but Harry felt he could get away with it.
“Sirius, Juanita is in love with you, Merlin only knows why, and she never forgot you, or moved on. She has no family back home, and already knows a lot more than she has said about the Wizarding world.
“You can both tell me how you met later. I’m out of here!”
With those words, Harry Apparated back to Hogwarts.
“You love me?” Juanita looked at Sirius.
The wizard nodded slowly. “Have since I met you,” he said simply.
“Why didn’t you come back for me?” The unshed tears in her eyes hurt him more than anything else.
“I was on the run, living as a dog half the time. That’s no life for you. You deserve the best.”
“Don’t I deserve to make that decision for myself? I’ve lived as a peasant in Ecuador all my life, it’s hardly as if it could have been worse than that!”
Sirius moved over to her. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
She placed her head on his shoulder. “I can see why you love him.”
The Animagus moved his arms around her, loving the feel of her in his arms again. “Harry’s pretty amazing,” he admitted. “He was the one who freed me.”
Juanita moved her head back, and then slowly kissed him.
Harry arrived back in Dumbledore’s office, completely exhausted. He immediately fell asleep on the professor’s couch. He was so deeply asleep that he didn’t hear the headmaster return, try to wake him, before settling at his desk to do some paperwork.
“Harry?” Dumbledore called.
Harry opened his eyes wearily. “Sorry, professor.”
“You need to eat,” the pale blue eyes were looking concerned at him.
“Did I ever apologise for destroying your office?” Harry asked tiredly.
“Yes,” Dumbledore smiled at him. “The minute you forgave the mistakes an old man made.”
“You’re not,” Harry started automatically, and then grinned impishly. “Well, actually, you are pretty old.”
“Anyway, I’m sorry I did it, all the same.”
“I know, Harry, I know. Do you feel up to walking to the Great Hall?”
“Not really, no,” Harry admitted with a huge yawn.
“Well, we’ll eat here then.”
Harry smiled gratefully. “Actually, I think I need to tell a few people what happened this afternoon.”
“Who?” The headmaster asked.
Harry thought for a second, and decided to add Professor Snape to his mental list, he’d need him for the second stage of his plan against the Weasley boys, and besides that, the professor had offered him an olive branch that morning. “Ginny, Hermione, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Snape.”
Dumbledore nodded, and used Floo powder to invite Professor Snape, suggesting he bring a pepper-up potion with him, to his office, and to ask Professor McGonagall to bring Ginny and Hermione.
The two girls and the head of Gryffindor arrived first.
“Harry!” Ginny called, looking shocked at how tired and drained he looked. “What happened to you?”
“I’ll tell you when Professor Snape gets here,” Harry yawned.
Ginny sat next to him, and made him lie down so his head was on her lap. She gently caressed his hair, their audience pretty much forgotten.
McGonagall and Hermione exchanged a soft smile, and sat down quietly.
“Sorry I’m late,” Snape explained as he burst into the room with far too much energy for Harry’s liking. “I didn’t have any ready, so I brewed a batch up quickly.”
“Thank you, Severus,” Dumbledore smiled at him, and created him a chair.
Snape took one look at Harry, and handed him the potion, instantly recognising it was for him.
“Thanks,” Harry said, having trouble keeping his eyes open. He sat up and emptied the bottle in one go.
Everyone watched him, expecting to see the smoke come out of his ears, but nothing happened.
“Did it work?” Hermione asked.
“Yep,” Harry smiled. “I no longer feel like I need to sleep for a year. A few days should do it now.”
“Harry,” Snape frowned. “That potion should have you bouncing off the walls like an annoying Gryffindor.”
“M’eh,” Harry said, emphasising it with a wave of his hand. Several large plates of sandwiches appeared on the desk, and Harry wasted no time in demolishing the food. “Sirius is in love,” Harry eventually dropped into the conversation.
Snape dropped his plate. “What!?”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Harry grinned. “It turns out that while we all thought Sirius was dead, the old mutt was ‘making the beast with two backs’ with an interesting Muggle named Juanita.”
“Juanita?” Dumbledore asked, his eyes twinkling.
“Yep, she’s a very pretty Ecuadorian.”
“How do you know this?” Hermione demanded.
Harry took a deep breath, and reached for his girlfriend’s hand. “I persuaded Sirius to teach me to Apparate.”
“Good idea,” Ginny smiled.
“After going through the basics this afternoon, he told me to Apparate us both to one of the Galápagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador. While there, he told me why he’d been incommunicado for so long. Then suddenly Juanita appeared and punched him out.”
Laughter filled the room, especially from Snape, who was feeling a lot more sociable towards Black, after Ginny’s revenge earlier.
“Anyway, I could tell they were in love with each other, so I Summoned Juanita’s jewellery, and then transported the three of us back to Grimmauld place. I told them that they were still in love with each other, then Apparated back to Hogwarts, leaving them together.”
Harry was getting sleepy again.
“You can’t Apparate in Hogwarts,” Hermione stated.
Harry didn’t reply, he was asleep on Ginny’s shoulder. The girl lightly twisted, letting his head drop back into her lap.
The two teachers and two students automatically turned to Dumbledore for an answer.
The ancient headmaster’s eyes twinkled at the merrily, as he sat back in his chair. “Creating anti-Apparition wards is extremely difficult. What you are in effect doing is creating a permanent magical barrier around the area you want to protect. As you know, magic is a living thing, and is never stationary.
“From what I can tell, Harry was doing his first long-distance Apparating and decided to stop half way through it and have a look around.”
Snape and McGonagall both started. They looked at each other, and nodded together. They vanished, were gone for several seconds, and then reappeared where they had been.
“You’ve seen the Void?” Dumbledore asked them, a smile on his face.
“Yes,” Severus replied. “Good word for it. I’d never thought of having a look around there before. I could see the wards, very impressive.”
“Did you see the holes?”
“Yeah, but they were hardly there.”
“That’s what Harry Apparated through.”
“Could Voldemort do it?” Snape asked.
“I don’t think so,” Dumbledore replied cheerfully. “It’s extremely unlikely he’d even try. If it hadn’t occurred to us in all our years, I doubt it would occur to him.”
“So why is Harry so tired?” Ginny asked. The idea that her boyfriend could Apparate in Hogwarts was extremely appealing; she could see all sorts of uses for it, and a few of them even had something to do with schoolwork. She was enjoying having Harry sleeping on her; it showed a level of trust in her that she really liked.
“Ginny,” Professor McGonagall smiled at the red-haired witch, “the average wizard can Apparate around the country with ease, maybe get into Europe. Basically, the farther you go, the more tiring it is. Harry took another person half way around the world, something that took a phenomenal amount of power. He then brought two people back with him. I will be having a very serious word with Sirius about letting Harry do that. I can’t guess how tired he must have been.”
The five of them spent the evening discussing the events of the day, while Harry slept as peacefully as he ever had. Ginny’s soft fingers were keeping away any nightmares.
Eventually, Dumbledore sent the two girls back to the dorm, promising to take Harry to the hospital wing where he could sleep off his exhaustion.
To: Brothers, all
Subject: My back hurts
Do you know why my back hurts?
Because I had to sleep on the bloody couch last night. My darling half-Veela girlfriend used two languages to express her dissatisfaction at our actions against ‘darling ‘Arry’.
I don’t like the couch.
I suggest we let Harry date Ginny.
Bill - And I'm not sure what "comment peut on etre aussi stupide et borné, ça me dépasse!" means, but by the expression on her face, it wasn't good!
To: The Weasley Boys
Subject: Re: My Back Hurts
Well, Tonks also expressed her displeasure, vocally I might add. Having a metamorphmagus as a girlfriend might have some perks, but it’s EXTREMELY disquieting when she turns in to Mum to bawl me out.
Couldn’t you have kept your bloody girlfriend in check, Ron?
To: Older ones
Subject: Re: My Back Hurts
Well, I warned you this would happen. And don’t even think about backing out now. So what if you lot are sleeping on the couch? I’ve been going through it for days now.
We’re in this together.
Oh, I had an idea. Why don’t we do a Weasley Huddle on Harry?
From: Mr P Weasley
Subject: Re: Re: My Back Hurts
Well, I too spent last night on the couch. Penelope would not even allow me to get a clean robe today.
However, Ron is right, we are in this together. It is merely a minor setback.
Now, as for the Weasley Huddle idea, as the latest recipient of this technique, I can vouch for its effectiveness. Although candour does force me to admit that as frightening as the rest of you are, it’s our little sister who is by far the scariest.
I don’t know if you have noticed that her eyes glow when she is feeling passionate about something. They were glowing when she called me a ‘pig-headed invertebrate’ and I could feel them burning inside me. It was extremely disconcerting. I’m afraid that it was Ginny who forced me to examine what I was had been doing, and made me realise what a total tosser I had become.
I’m still grateful that you all rescued me from the path I was merrily heading down. I forgot the cardinal rule of being a Weasley: Family comes first.
Percy - a night on the couch makes one extremely introspective
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From: The twins
To: Not the twins
Subject: Bloody Hell!
What is it going to take to get you guys to give in? Ginny’s old enough to look after herself. And quite bloody frankly, Harry’s the best man for her.
Have any of you even seen the Prophet this morning?
Harry captured Pettigrew AND freed Sirius Black in one bloody day. Need we point out how long the Order has been trying to do that? Over twenty bloody years, that’s how long.
We are NOT going to lock Harry in a room and try and scare him till he leaves Ginny like we did with Percy - it simply won’t work. He’s faced Voldemort!
We do not like being kicked out of bed either, especially when, for the first time EVER, we don’t want to be part of this anymore.
Oh, and Percy, you were being a git; it doesn’t stop you being our brother, though.
I've got a few people to thank for helping me out here:
Annie: for her extremely accurate translation of This Means War! Into French, (http://twwo.haisoft.net/fanfic/viewuser.php?uid=574)
Comet Moon: for his invaluable help and incredibly good ideas.
Jaquelyne Hawkins: for rewriting the Rita article for me.
Mash: for translating the insult into colloquial French.
John: Who I'm so excited is back working with me.
And last, but certainly not least, Aibhinn for the excellent beta job.
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