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Truth be Told by JKButcher

Format: Short story
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 15,437
Status: Abandoned

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence

Genres: Action, General, Drama
Characters: Draco, Ginny, Harry, Dumbledore, Hermione, James, Lily, Neville, Remus Lupin, Ron, Snape, Voldemort, Fred/George, Tonks
Pairings:

First Published: 05/19/2004
Last Chapter: 05/25/2004
Last Updated: 05/25/2004

Summary:
When last Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore met, the whole truth was disclosed, and Harry was informed of his purpose in life. But one story remained to be told. When Harry witnesses first hand the death of his parents, he realizes that there was more to their deaths than anyone but perhaps Dumbledore realized. Will Harry, Ron, Hermione and a cast of hundreds be able to use this knowledge to help defeat the Dark Lord?


Chapter 1: From Past, With Love
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Truth be Told


Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, who I am not, though I doubt you needed me to tell you that. No money is being made off of this and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. It's all in good fun.

A/N: Many thanks to Juli and Derek for being my sounding board. Had this idea and it wouldn't leave me alone, so I decided to use it as a jumping board into a full fledged 6th year fic. Please leave feedback especially if it's constructive. I always respond to all reviewers and unlike many others around here I can take criticism :).

Chapter 1: From Past, With Love.


There was a brilliant sunset hanging over the village of Little Whinging, signaling the end of what should have been a perfectly normal day. Those with jobs had gone off to work trying their best to look important as they stepped into their fancy cars, only to return for supper looking somewhat browbeaten. Those without jobs stayed at home firmly entrenched behind the window with the best view of their neighbor's house, craning their necks for a bit of dirt that they might silently lord over them. On this particular day, the resident of number six was going to feel as though she had just won the lottery. It all began when what appeared to be a riderless motorcycle appeared out of thin air some ten meters off the ground and proceeded to touch down for a perfect landing in the driveway of number four.

For Harry Potter it had also been a normal day. The warning that his friends had given the Dursleys at King's Cross Station had at least made them treat Harry more or less as a human rather than an animal to be caged up, though they still used him as their own personal slave. He had been awoken from his fitful sleep by his Aunt Petunia's yelling, given a list of chores to do as long as his arm, and had his work sabotaged incessantly by Dudley, who thought it funny to walk around the house while crumbling a piece of bread so Harry would have to vacuum again. After a dinner during which no one paid him the slightest bit of mind, Harry had come outside to the front yard to take care of his last chore for the day, watering the flowerbeds in the front yard.

Harry did not see the arrival of the flying motorcycle; his back was to the driveway, but he was quickly alerted to its presence by Aunt Petunia. "Boy!" she yelled as she stormed out of the house, causing Harry to turn quickly with the hosepipe in his hand. The water stream settled directly on top of Petunia's head, drenching her and causing her already red face to grow even more livid. Harry was so stunned he didn't even think to turn the hose away.

"I don't know what you think you're doing, but making a mo-" she stopped suddenly as she noticed someone across the street staring at the two of them. "And turn that bloody hosepipe off!" she roared as she tried to escape the stream of water. Harry quickly dropped the hosepipe, and started to apologize, then realized it wasn't worth it.

"I'm so- What's that?" he asked, seeing the motorcycle for the first time. It looked vaguely familiar to him, though he was sure that he'd never seen it before in his life.

"What's that?" repeated Petunia incredulously, "WHAT'S THAT? YOU BLOODY WELL KNOW WHAT IT IS!" Harry's Aunt risked a glance across the street and seemed to be trying to get control of herself "You mean to tell me that a flying motorcycle mysteriously appears in our driveway and you have absolutely nothing to do with it?" she whispered furiously. This set Harry's mind racing. He'd had dreams of flying motorcycles when he was younger.

"No I don't," Harry replied forcefully. "You were watching me out the window precisely to make sure that I didn't do any ma-"

"Shut up!" cried Petunia desperately, the blood that had begun draining from her face was now back and coloring her cheeks. She remained silent for nearly a minute, her eyes boring into her nephew. When she spoke, it was with a calm voice so forced, Harry thought her head might explode. "Come on, we need to get this..." she shuddered a bit, "this thing hidden or else people will talk." She strode over to Harry, grabbed his arm, and dragged him to where the motorcycle sat in the driveway, little rivers of water continuing to run off of her as she moved.

"You take that side," she ordered, "and we'll roll it into the garage." Harry did as he was told, not really wanting to upset his Aunt more than she already was. He was beginning to wonder if she wasn't mad enough to finally kick him out of the house once and for all despite Dumbledore's wishes.

But try as they might, they could not get the motorcycle to roll forward. It seemed as though it were glued to the spot, and the increasingly furious Petunia was beginning to lose whatever temper she had left. "Maybe it has some sort of brake on it," offered Harry cautiously as she started to kick the wheels as hard as she could while at the same time attempting to remain discreet about the whole operation. She didn't manage to get the motorcycle rolling, but in addition to injuring her foot, an envelope addressed to Harry that neither had noticed was dislodged and landed at his feet.

Wondering what it might be, he picked it up and turned it over to find that the envelope was sealed with a wax seal bearing the words "Astrea Lamont, W.A." Harry was just about to open the envelope when Uncle Vernon and Dudley burst out of the house. "Just what is going on here!" demanded Vernon, the veins in his neck popping out angrily. "Why is there a motorcycle in my driveway?" He looked to his wife for an explanation, but seeing that she was both soaking wet and furious, he immediately jumped to the conclusion that this was Harry's doing. Dudley, meanwhile, was admiring the machine up close, and was looking for all the world like he wanted to sit on it.

"You know, I'd quite like a moto-" he began as he hoisted a muscular leg, but was cut off by Petunia who grabbed him to prevent his sitting down.

"Don't sit on that Diddy, it's... it's... not normal," she whispered to him. Dudley immediately yelped and shrank away from the motorcycle, remembering his previous experiences with magic. Petunia pulled him into her body and gave him a big hug. "Would my little Popkin like a biscuit?" she asked trying to cheer him up. Desperate to get away from the driveway, Dudley allowed himself to be escorted back into the house leaving Vernon and Harry alone.

"Well Boy," growled Uncle Vernon murderously, "what have you got to say for yourself?"

"I had nothing to do with the motorcycle, I was just watering the flowers because you forced me to. That might go into my next report by the way." Harry's comment hit its intended mark, and Vernon went a lighter shade of puce.

"Don't you dare tell those..." he lowered his voice to a whisper, "freak friends of yours that you're being forced to do things or you'll sorely wish you hadn't," he threatened while waggling a stubby finger. Harry hadn't planned on doing any such thing of course, but it was always fun to press his uncle's buttons when he had the chance. Harry glared at Vernon expecting the same in return, but was surprised to see that his uncle was instead looking intently at the envelope Harry was holding. "What is that?" he demanded. "You obviously have something to do with all of this, that's your name on the envelope."

"I don't know," Harry replied, kicking himself for not hiding the letter. "I haven't opened it yet." An interesting cross between a scowl and a grin spread across Uncle Vernon's face.

"And you're not going to either," he said, holding out his hand. "Give it here. There might be instructions for you on how to use this monstrosity and we can't have that." Harry tried to pull the envelope out of his Uncle's reach, but he wasn't fast enough to prevent Vernon from wresting it away.

"AHA!" shouted Vernon triumphantly as he ripped the envelope open and withdrew an official looking piece of parchment. Harry had no choice but to stand there and watch his Uncle's face as he read, trying to discern just how much trouble he was going to be in. He was surprised when his Uncle started to smirk, as that was the last reaction he had expected.

"Give it here," he shouted. "What's so funny?" Vernon finished the letter and with a laugh he crumpled it up into a ball and tossed it at Harry with a laugh. Now Harry was desperate to find out what the letter contained. He unfurled the ruined parchment, and began to read.


Law Offices of Pescecane, Haifisch, Requin and Tiburón
138 Diagon Alley, London.


Dear Mr. Potter,
I am sorry to have to contact you under the present conditions, but I'm afraid that the death of Mr. Sirius Black has left some business that must be attended to. Upon Mr. Black's passing the last will and testament that he signed in January of this year came into effect and you were named as a benefactor in that document. As executor of his will we are now attempting to distribute his assets according to his wishes. As his godson he hoped for you to inherit half of his estate, the other half to go to Mr. Remus Lupin. However, given the nature of his life, the Ministry of Magic has confiscated a large number of Mr. Black's possessions both as evidence against him, and to pay off the debt they feel they are owed. One of the few items that did escape this fate is the motorcycle now before you. It is not precisely legal, and we can not condone your use of it, but we have followed the wishes of Mr. Black and delivered it to you. As it is yours and yours alone, only you will be able to get it started the first time. Simply tap it with your wand and it will be free to do with as you please.

Sorry for your loss.

Very Sincerely,
Astrea Lamont, W.A.


Harry couldn't believe it. He clenched the piece of parchment tightly in his hand, tearing it slightly and stared at the motorcycle. This had belonged to Sirius, and now Sirius was dead. And no matter what anyone told him, he knew that it was his fault. He had been the one to fall for the trap, no one else. If he'd only been willing to practice his Occlumency a bit more...

Uncle Vernon had continued to laugh at the stricken look on Harry's face, and it stirred Harry from his guilt trip. "Looks like the world is free from one more serious freak," he managed to get out while gasping for breath. Apparently he thought himself quite a riot. Harry didn't find him so funny.

"How dare you speak that way about my godfather? He was a far better person than you'll ever be!" Harry could feel the anger rising within him, could feel the need to lash out at his uncle for dishonoring Sirius's memory.

"Oh honestly Boy," began Vernon, still wheezing, "a convicted mass murderer with nothing left in the world but some effin' motorbike is a better person than me? He got what was coming to him if you ask me. I hope his death was particularly painful." The sneer that had played at the corners of his mouth quickly disappeared as Vernon suddenly found Harry charging at him. Taken by surprise, he was to slow to react, and found himself stumbling backwards onto the grass of his own front yard.

"You take that back" Harry breathed, doubled over at the waist. Hitting something as heavy as Uncle Vernon with everything he had had been quite painful. He had felt angry enough to fight Dumbledore, the man whom he most respected in all the world only a few short weeks ago. Faced now with similar anger towards a man he held no respect for, he found he couldn't hold himself back.

"You will regret that Potter." All trace of joviality was gone from Vernon's face and little beads of sweat were forming on his forehead as though he were a teakettle about to burst. And burst he did. With a movement faster than Harry would have thought possible of such a large man, Vernon regained his balance, lunged at Harry, and somehow managed to hoist him over his shoulder in one fluid movement. Harry struggled against his captor, but there was nothing he could do. "Think you can fight me do you? Not in this lifetime you insolent brat." Vernon started towards the front door.

"Put me down or I'll... I'll yell and alert the neighbors!" cried Harry, a last ditch effort to save himself. Vernon glanced around at the already staring neighbors and gave them all a wave.

"Wish we could keep this one at St. Brutus's all year round," he quipped in a highly affected voice. "Terrible liar, just like his dead godfather the mass murderer. Honestly I don't know what happened to that side of the family. All cheats, liars, and murderers." Vernon closed the front door behind him and immediately made for the stairs. Harry assumed he was going to be locked back into his room as he always was in such circumstances. But his uncle didn't go up the stairs, rather he stopped and shoved him into the little cupboard beneath the stairs; a place Harry had sincerely hoped he had seen the last of.

"You can't keep me in here!" shouted Harry through the little grate that was his only opening to the outside world. "There's hardly enough room to lie down in here!" It was true, the cupboard seemed a whole lot smaller than the last time he had been in it.

"I think you'll find enough room," blustered Vernon, still witheringly upset. "You'll certainly have enough time to find it." And Harry heard the heavy footsteps of his uncle retreat into the living room where he watched television and cursed loudly for the rest of the night.

Ms. Number Six was already on the telephone and spreading rumors.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Harry struggled with his anger and his confinement well into the night, never really able to get comfortable. He couldn't stretch his legs all the way out without banging his head on the ceiling, and he was starting to cramp up. To take his mind off of the pain (and the rather insistent signal that his bladder was sending him) his mind was coming up with creative ways to get revenge on Vernon for the awful things he had said about Sirius. Rampaging acromantulas, a flatulance potion, and the kiss of a dementor were all intriguing options.

Harry knew better than to fall asleep without first emptying his mind, but he hadn't had a proper occlumency lesson in months and what little he had learned from Snape was either forgotten or simply ignored due to his current predicament. Why couldn't he have just lived with a normal family like the Weasleys? He knew the answer of course, the protection was greater here, but that was hardly comforting. Uncle Vernon was every bit a monster in his own right. The unpleasant thoughts came in fast and thick until Harry finally managed to fall asleep.

The dreams started off innocently enough. The flying motorcycle was present, and Harry was riding it while playing Quidditch. Ron was playing goal and singing Weasley is our king very loudly as he dangled from his broom using a sloth-grip roll. Ron promptly morphed into Hagrid, who lost his grip on the broom only to be caught by Grawp. Harry flew down to where the two were now standing and they all had rock cakes with Fang.

The dream changed suddenly.

He was pleased, but he didn't particularly like being pleased, so he was angry even at this. He'd had good news about the situation at Azkaban. He was staring down into a pool of clear liquid that had hundreds, possibly thousands, of swirling silver strands in it. He followed one of the strands carefully with his eyes, a sense of morbid curiosity welling up within him. In and out it fluttered, up and down; very difficult to keep track of. There was something elusive about it, and he had to know more. He withdrew his wand from his black cloak with his long sinewy fingers. He twirled it expertly a bit and pondered whether or not this was going to help. He realized that he didn't care, either way he'd get to revel in the glory of their deaths again, and that was enough. He tapped the wand to the surface of the liquid and the silver strands began to move faster and faster, becoming a blur, until the surface was completely clear. Looking through it he could just make out the spot where the accursed house was going to be in a few minutes time. He leaned down and fell through.

He found himself standing in a small patch of woods on a very dark night, the moon was new, and there was a small pudgy rat of a man hunkered down behind a large bush off to his left. The man was clearly nervous, and he was muttering under his breath. That was certainly interesting, perhaps he should find out what he was saying... it might provide a clue. He sauntered over to the crouching figure and bent down beside him.

"What have you got on your feeble mind Wormtail?" he asked no one in particular. The man, unable to hear him, went right on with his muttering.

"Merlin forgive me... Merlin forgive me... Merlin forgive me..." the man repeated time and again as he peered into the adjacent clearing.

"A traitor with a conscience I see. I never figured you had one of those you filthy coward. Now stand up, I'm approaching." As if on cue, the short balding man stood only to fall to his knees again as a tall dark hooded figure swept into view.

"My Lord!"

But he already knew what happened here. He knew full well what had happened in his presence that night, it was what had happened outside of it that interested him. There had to be some sort of a clue as to what went wrong, something that he had missed. He walked out of the forest and into the clearing. It was far too squared off and well groomed. Indeed, as he walked forward a cozy, bright, and thoroughly disgusting house appeared in a brilliant flash of light. Even now the sight of the house made him ill. A feeling of hatred built within his stomach and tried to hammer its way out through his chest. These people had nearly killed him. He was glad that he'd had the chance to return the favor.

The occupants of the house had no idea what was coming. Even now they were happily playing with that dreadful baby. He could see them through an open window. He could only faintly hear their voices, his memory was not so strong here. He was still back with Wormtail rewarding him for a job well done. But he needed to hear them as well. He needed to hear what, if any, protections were being placed. And so he walked through the front door. He didn't bother to open it, he couldn't be bothered with such trivial formalities as closed doors.

"Do you think we've done the right thing, Lil?" The two adults were sitting on the sofa in front of the fire while the mudblood held the snivelling little baby.

"We have, Sweetie." The blood traitor shook his head unconvinced.

"I just can't shake this feeling that little Harry's going to regret having us as parents if he ever finds out that we did this for him." Ah... so there was something that they'd done. He listened closer and silently urged them forward with the conversation. He hoped it would bear fruit before he came storming in to kill these two.

"Don't be silly, you love Harry with all your heart don't you? You want him to live a good life?" An emphatic nod. "Then there's nothing else we can do. If we want him to live we need to protect him. And there's only one way to do that. Dumbledore knows what he's talking about." He snarled at the mention of the older wizard's name. He knew that geezer had to have been pulling the strings.

"I know he does, I just wish there was some other way to grant Harry this protection. I want to see him grow up, I want to be able to watch him play his first Quidditch match, struggle with his first love... I want to be there for him Lily."

"He'll always be able to draw strength from you. You're his father. He'll always be proud of you." This was sickening. How two people could prattle on about such things as emotion and pride for this long he'd never understood. To him there was only power, and he was about to demonstrate his.

The fire suddenly turned green and the head of that accursed rat popped into it. "Right then, it's done." There appeared to be tears in his eyes. What was all of this? The anger that had built upon seeing the house now rose to a fever pitch. He had been betrayed?

"Thanks Peter, you're a true friend. Remember, no one must ever know." The head in the fire nodded then disappeared with a pop. The two stared at each other and then kissed, the baby caught in between them. It was only interrupted by the front door being blown off its hinges. He'd just missed it. If he had been a few seconds earlier, he would have known something was awry and not to attack the pitiful baby. He was going to murder Wormtail.

"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!" But it was already too late for James Potter.

Harry's head exploded in pain, and he could hear himself screaming at his dad to run away. With a start he sat upright, only to earn himself a rather nasty bump on the head. He felt a trickle of blood run from his forehead down his cheek and didn't know whether it was from his scar or from a new wound.

His parents had known.


Chapter 2: Chapter 2a: Confession and Flight
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Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been Joanne Kathleen Rowling, which is good as I quite like being myself. Unfortunately it means that I don't own the characters or locations in this piece of fiction.

A/N: Many thanks Joda for being the first reviewer at this site. I've decided to try something different. My last story got bogged down in part because I pressured myself into writing these incredibly long chapters, and once I hit a snag, that was it. For this story I am going to release whatever it is I have done at a certain point so long as it is at a good stopping point. For example, what is below is not all of chapter 2, but rather than wait for all of chapter two to be done, I'll post this half now, and the rest later.

Chapter Two (Part One): Confession


Harry rubbed his forehead trying to alleviate the pain, but it wasn't helping. His body ached all over, and he found that he was trembling slightly. His hand was soaked, but he couldn't tell if it was from blood or from sweat. He'd just seen his father's murder, and his brain kept replaying it in slower and slower motion. His father, who had loved his mum and who was willing to die for his son. Harry was ashamed that he ever doubted him.

And his mum. There she had been, holding him in her arms just moments before she too would be killed by Voldemort. Harry wiped his face again. He could feel anger build up at the thought of the dark wizard who had ruined his life. How could he have been so uncaring about it all? It was like he wasn't even human.

But his parents had known that they were going to die that night. How did they know that and what did Dumbledore have to do with it? Harry remembered that his mum had mentioned the headmaster's name and said that he knew what he was doing, but what exactly was he doing? Whatever it was, he still wasn't telling Harry the whole truth.

The real puzzle, however, was Wormtail. His dad had called him a "great friend" even after Peter had told Voldemort where they were hiding, after he had given up the secret. At the moment all Harry was sure of was that the answers were not going to be found in this cupboard under the stairs.

He had his wand with him, Uncle Vernon hadn't thought to take it away, but Harry thought it would probably be smarter not to use it. He had been in more than enough trouble the last time he had used magic illegally during the summer, and he couldn't risk getting expelled again. If only he still had Sirius's magical penknife... the thought of Sirius brought about a great sigh. Wait, had Sirius known about what happened that night in Godric's Hollow? Did Lupin?

Harry felt like yelling, all of the unanswered questions felt like a great pressure welling up on his brain, squeezing a little more as each one was asked. All the frustration of fifteen years worth of a hard life had built up to this point, and he could take it no longer. So he yelled, and he felt surprisingly better after he got through. His aunt and uncle were not similarly pleased.

"BOY!" shouted Vernon from just outside the master suite upstairs. "If you make so much as one more sound I will not hesitate to leave you locked in there until there's nothing but a skeleton left. I have a very important meeting tomorrow, ruddy big contract is expiring and we need to renegotiate. I'll not have you fouling up my sleep with your little episodes, you hear?" Harry remained silent. "ANSWER ME YOU FREAK!"

"Vernon dear, why don't you go lie down and try to relax. You have a big day tomorrow, and this won't help at all. I'll take care of - the problem." Harry was just able to make out Petunia's voice from up above. He couldn't help but think that were he forced to share a bed with Uncle Vernon every night he'd be anxious to leave it whenever possible as well.

"Very well Petunia," huffed Vernon, apparently rather gutted that his wife was making sense and that he wouldn't be allowed to carry on with his favorite pastime: bashing Harry. Harry listened to the creaks of the stairs directly over his head as his aunt proceeded down them, and was surprised when he heard the deadbolt on the cupboard door slide back. He coiled himself to make a break for it if he had to. He'd run over to Mrs. Figg's on Wisteria Walk - anything to get out of this house. But Petunia merely opened the door and beckoned him out.

"Come on out of there Harry," she said in what, for her, was a rather kindly voice. Harry was amazed that she still remembered his name; it had been ages since she'd used it last. "My - you look beastly," she managed to spit out when she caught site of his face. "Go wash up in the bathroom, I don't want you dripping on my nice clean carpets. You have no idea how hard it is to keep these clean." Harry decided not to point out that he did, in fact, know precisely how hard it was.

A quick look in the mirror once he reached the bathroom proved his aunt right. There were streaks of blood all over his face and hands, mainly from a large gash just above the hairline where his head had smacked the ceiling, and he had very dark circles under his eyes. He washed up and attended to some other business, then walked back into the living area to find Petunia waiting for him.

"I think it would be best for you to leave Harry," she said softly.

"Leave? But what about what Dumbled-" His aunt had raised a hand to silence him. Leaving was what Harry had wanted, but he wanted to do it on his own terms, not because he was kicked out.

"The deal was that I would keep you here only until you were no longer safe within these walls." Harry tried to interrupt, but she didn't give him the chance. "And," she continued, "I believe that time has come now that you've attacked Vernon." Harry couldn't keep quiet any longer.

"Attacked him?" he blurted loudly. Petunia quickly put a finger to her lips to shush him. "Did you hear what he was saying about Sirius, about my godfather?" he asked in a quieter voice.

"No, no I didn't. But I met that awful man once, and I don't think your uncle could have said anything that wasn't more than deserved." Harry felt his blood begin to boil for the upteenth time that day. He was finding it hard to come up with a reason to stand here and put up with this. But at the same time he was intrigued.

"You knew Sirius Black?"

"I met all of Li- your mother's friends at one time or another. She always had them over to the house during the holidays. Mum and Dad were all suckered in by them, but I could see the truth... the whole lot of them were rotten. Real freaks if you ask me." She looked for a moment as though she were going to cry, and Harry was forcibly reminded of the one brief instant after last year's dementor attack where she had looked at him so differently.

"But I don't understand, what did they ever do to you to make you think that?" he asked angrily. Petunia shuddered and bowed her head as a single tear rolled down her cheek.

"Lily and I were best friends until they came along. It's like I was some old toy she just discarded after a new and fancier toy came along. And then - you..." she looked up and glared at Harry's scar. "You took her from me for good. You killed her. You killed my sister. I'm sorry, but I don't think I can ever forgive you for that." By this time the tears were coming easier and she sank down onto the couch. Harry was incensed. How could she possibly think that it was her fault that his mother had died. But at the same time a little voice in the back of his head was asking if she wasn't right. "Just go," Aunt Petunia said as a sob broke loose from deep in her throat.

Harry did as he was told. He climbed the stairs and entered his room to begin packing. Thankfully Hedwig was off delivering one of his bi-weekly updates to the Order, and so he had one less thing to carry. There was still the matter of his trunk and her cage however, and once he had gotten all of his books, clothes, potion ingredients, and the contents of his secret stash underneath a loose floorboard beneath his bed, he had quite a load. As silently as possible he dragged the trunk downstairs, praying that the dull thumping wouldn't wake his uncle.

Once he reached the door he looked back to see his aunt still sitting on the couch with her head in her hands. "See you next summer?" he asked quietly. Without lifting her head, Petunia nodded once and then set off sobbing again. Harry had seen enough. He opened the door and walked out into the brisk night air.

-----
A/N: So see, a good place to stop. I don't really leave you hanging or anything, and it makes the updates come faster. Let's see how it works. The second part of chapter two should be up in a day or so.

Chapter 3: Chapter 2b: Confession and Flight
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been Joanne Kathleen Rowling, which is good as I quite like being myself. Unfortunately it means that I don't own the characters or locations in this piece of fiction.

A/N: So here's the second half of chapter two, which really doesn'y need much in the way of introduction. So I won't give it one...

Chapter Two (Part 2): Confession and Flight

Once out the door of number four Privet Drive, Harry immediately wondered where he should go. He could drag his heavy trunk over to Wisteria Walk, but there was no guarantee that Mrs. Figg would be up at this time of night. Harry really didn't want to wake her up, but even if she was awake, she'd probably just tell him to go back to the Dursleys anyway. No, he needed to leave on his own.

His eyes settled on the flying motorcycle that was still sitting in the middle of the driveway where it had been left earlier. So Sirius had ridden that thing. Unfortunately, knowing this didn't ease Harry's concern about riding it one bit. In addition, he wasn't certain he really wanted to ride it for other reasons. After all, it had belonged to Sirius. Harry's head bowed at the thought of his deceased godfather. No, he wasn't quite ready for that yet. Just looking at it re-opened the still fresh wound on his heart, and Harry didn't want to consider what flying it might do.

That left the Knight Bus, an option which wasn't particularly appealing. Not only was the ride nauseating, but with Ernie and Stan operating it, Harry was certain the whole wizarding world would know precisely where he went in a matter of mere moments. It was, however, the only option he could think of. He dragged his trunk and Hedwig's cage to the curb, and withdrew his wand from his rear pocket so that he could hail the bus.

"Psst... 'allo 'arry." Harry turned violently without having lifted his wand to see the shadowy figure of Mundungus Fletcher looking appreciatively at Sirius's motorcycle. "This 'ere's a nice bit o' work, isn' it? Woss it exactly?" he asked, kicking it gently.

"What are you doing here Mr. Fletcher?" Harry asked, unhappy at having been discovered and ignoring the question.

"Oh yer know, it were a quiet night for business and I just though' I'd check up on me ole mate 'arry Potter. Wotcha' mean wot am I doin' 'ere?" Mundungus looked rather chuffed with himself.

"You were assigned to watch me tonight?" asked Harry quietly. But he already knew the answer. "It's rather ironic that the one night I needed you here you weren't, and now that I'd rather you weren't here you show up." Mundungus lowered himself into an overly extravagant bow .

"At yer service," he said with a grin. "Wot'cher doin' all packed up, eh, 'arry? Are yer plannin' on gahn somewhere?" He had left the motorcycle behind and was now walking towards the street to join Harry. "Have a fallin' out wiv the misses?" Harry wasn't sure if this was meant as a joke, or if Dung knew more than he was letting on.

"No, I-" Harry found himself wondering precisely how much he should tell Mundungus. Sure he was a member of the Order of the Phoenix, but he certainly wasn't the most trustworthy of people. "I thought that perhaps it would be best to get out of the house for a while. You know, maybe take a trip to Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade or somewhere." He began walking pointedly away from his would be captor, and towards the entrance to Privet Drive.

"Oy, wait up," Dung called in a slightly louder voice. Harry was briefly afraid that he'd wake up the neighbors. "I'm afrai' that I can't just let yer wander off. Dumbledore would 'ave me 'ead. Why don' I take yer ter Arabella's 'ouse and the two of yer can figure out wot ter do in the bloody mornin'." Harry stopped walking and turned to look at Mundungus as he trotted to catch up. There was really no way for him to get away. If he called the Knight bus, Mundungus would just get on too. If he tried to run away, Mundugus would be able to catch right up by apparating. Harry didn't see how he had much choice in the situation.

"Right then," he said through clenched teeth. He turned back around and started walking towards Wisteria Walk, the trunk dragging along behind him.

"Here, let me 'elp yer wiv that," said Mundungus pulling out his wand. "Locomotor trunk." Harry felt the trunk he was dragging become weightless and start to move of its own accord.

"Thanks," he said grudgingly.

It took them no more than five minutes to reach Wisteria Walk once Harry was free from carrying his trunk. Mundungus attempted several times to start up a conversation while they were walking, but Harry was having none of it. All he wanted at the moment was to be alone so he could think about what he had seen only an hour earlier.

Upon turning onto Wisteria Walk, Harry could immediately tell that Mrs. Figg was asleep. There were no lights on in her house at all, and even the cats seemed to be dozing off. There were a few on her front porch that he needed to step over to reach the door. He was therefore not surprised that the door wouldn't open when he tried it.

"Looks like we'll have to do something else Mr. Fletcher," he said, not a trace of disappointment in his voice.

"Woss this Mr. Fletcher business, then? Just call me Dung. Right. Ev'ryone else does, tho' I'm not sure why," said Mundungus scratching his head. "And don't worry a bit about copping in. I've been thru' me share of locked doors in the past." He pulled out his wand with a flourish, and with far too much ado, cast a charm on the door. It opened noiselessly. "Jus' a simple alohomora, lad, any thief worth their salt knows tha' one. After yer then," he said as he held open the door for Harry to pass through.

The living room of Mrs. Figg's house smelled of cabbage, just as always, but for the moment it was thankfully cat free. Harry plopped down on the couch and winced as the plastic it was covered in let off a rather embarrassing noise. Much to his relief, Mundungus didn't seem to hear.

"Righ' then. I'll jus' be off ter - well, ter take care o' some business. I trus' that' you'll be alrigh' here until mornin'," he said with a grin. "Don' be doin' nothing tha' I wouldn't do."

"You're just going to leave me here?" Harry asked incredulously. He wasn't certain how someone like Mundungus Fletcher had ever been allowed to do guard duty.

"Tha's the plan, have a good nigh'," he said as he slipped back out the door and over the still sleeping cats.

Harry took stock of the room around him. There was the couch and a few chairs, a rather large fire in the fireplace, some booksh - Harry's eyes jerked back to the fireplace. If it was hooked up to the Floo Network, he'd be able to get to 12 Grimmauld Place tonight, where he might be able to talk to Lupin or Dumbledore and ask them about what he'd seen. He began searching for Floo Powder in all the corners of the room. He never remembered seeing a bowl with dust in it when he came over for tea, but he supposed that Mrs. Figg would probably hide such a thing to avoid uncomfortable questions from Muggle houseguests.

When he finally found the bowl, he nearly let out a triumphant shout. It had been hiding underneath a cookbook in one of the bookshelves' drawers. He grabbed a handful, dragged his trunk to the fireplace, and placed Hedwig's cage under his arm. He tossed the Floo Powder into the flames and covered his eyes with his free hand as the flames flashed a brilliant green. He picked up the trunk again, climbed into the fireplace, and very clearly (he didn't want to get stuck in Nocturn Alley again) said, "12 Grimmauld Place." He soon found himself whirling through darkness, fireplace opening after fireplace opening passing him by.

When he stopped, he found that he had come out in the drawing room where the old Black family tapestry hung on the wall. Looking at it brought back memories of the last few times that Harry had been with Sirius while he was alive. Perhaps it had been a mistake to come here. The room was dark, and the entire house was quiet, it being the middle of the night.

Harry retrieved his trunk and dragged it out into the middle of the room and placed Hedwig's cage on top of it. He needed to find somebody to let them know that he was here, but most everyone was probably asleep. Unless they had a guard up, he found himself thinking. Hoping that there was indeed a guard on duty, Harry made his way downstairs to the entrance hall, noting with anger that Kreacher's head had not yet taken its place on the wall with his ancestors. Harry didn't want to think about what their first meeting was going to be like.

Unfortunately for Harry, Kreacher chose just that instant to walk past the bottom of the flight of stairs mumbling. Harry immediately drew his wand and began to run down the stairs and after the house elf that had mislead him into believing Sirius was in trouble.

"Hey!" he shouted, coming dangerously close to breaking his neck on the stairs.

"I see the Potter boy has come back," Kreacher mumbled as he froze in his tracks. "But there's no one left for him here, now that the vile master is dead. Yes, Mistress, it's just you and I now." The house elf rubbed his hands together and reached out for the draw that controlled the curtain covering the portrait of Sirius's mother. Just as he began to pull down, Harry reached him and put his hands around his neck, wand long forgotten.

"How could you?" he cried.

"Blood traitor! Infidel! Mogrel freak!"

"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL'S GOING ON IN HERE?" Harry's head snapped around at the sound of this new voice, but Sirius's mother went right on with her insults. A wizard with gray wiry hair approached the two of them slowly with his wand out. "Who are you, and what are you doing here?" the wizard demanded. He looked familiar to Harry, though he couldn't place his finger on where he knew him from. "And get your hands off of that house elf." Harry let his hands fall. Kreacher gasped for breath and then with a pop disappeared from view.

"I'm Harry Potter," the wizard's eyes narrowed slightly, "and I'm here to talk to someone in the Order," said Harry with confidence.

"Order? What order? This is the house of deceased felon Sirius Black, and you are now trespassing on Ministry of Magic property! If you do not leave at once I will be forced to take extreme measures." Harry's memory clicked into place. The wizard was Dawlish, the auror who had tried to single handedly stand up to Dumbledore the previous year. But what was he doing here?

"You don't understand, I'm Harry Po-"

"Yeah, and I'm the ruddy Queen of England..." the tough looking wizard interjected. "Look Mr.... Potter was it? I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to come with me." He bent over and picked up Harry's discarded wand, walked the rest of the distance to where Harry was standing, and placed his own wand in the small of Harry's back. "Get a move on," he snarled. Harry didn't have any choice but to follow Dawlish's orders, and together they left the hall to a chorus of Mrs. Black's frightful screams.


Chapter 4: Chapter 3a: The End of an Era
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A/N: Thank you again to those who have taken the time to review. It is the constant reminder that people are reading and enjoying this story that drives me to work faster. As such, I've decided to continue chopping up chapters into smaller pieces so that you won't have to wait as long between updates. If any of you would rather not read the story using this method, it will be posted on fanfiction.net in whole chapter chunks. So without further ado, the first portion of what should be a three part chapter.

Chapter 3 (Part One): The End of an Era

As Harry was led down into the kitchen there were a million different thoughts running through his brain. Where had the Order gone to? What was the Ministry doing in possession of Sirius's old house? How in the world had he got himself in this mess? More importantly how was he going to get out? Dawlish kept his wand jabbed fiercely into Harry's back, and it was starting to become quite painful.

"Wait here," growled Dawlish after they had come to an abrupt stop. They were standing inside the kitchen, at the foot of the long wooden table where Harry had enjoyed many a meal with the Weasleys, Lupin, Tonks, Sirius...

Dawlish kept his wand trained on Harry at all times as he walked to the table and picked up a dark cloak. He reached into an inner pocket and brought out a small book. He tossed it to Harry. "Hold that," he ordered. Harry glanced down at it to see just what it was he was holding. The words "Official Aurors Handbook," stared back at him, and he was forced to grin. So this little book had all of the information he would need to become an Auror? He'd need to ask Moody if he had a spare copy laying around. He was about to thumb through it when Dawlish's shadow blocked out his reading light.

The Auror had somehow managed to get his black traveling cloak on while still keeping his wand pointed at Harry, and now he placed his free hand on the book alongside Harry's. "Armadillo bile," he said to no one in particular. Harry was about to ask him if he'd gone mad when he felt a jerk behind his navel, and he began to travel forward through a myriad of different colors; the classic indicators of travelling by Portkey.

Upon impact, Harry fell forward due to the deceleration. Dawlish grabbed his left arm to prevent him from either falling over or running away, Harry couldn't be sure which. His loss of balance did however give him an excellent view of the highly polished marble floor. In fact, everything in the room had a very bright shine to it: the seemingly solid gold furniture, the row of overpolished purple boots that were lined up by the door, the pristine grid of magical paraphernalia that were arranged just so, even the forehead of the individual sitting behind the very large desk that dominated the room. All together it reminded Harry of Dumbledore's office, just a lot harsher on the eyes.

"Dawlish, wha- " began Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge as he stood up from his seat behind the desk. His eyes fell upon Harry. He noticeably shrank away from the boy-who-lived. "What are you doing with H-Harry Potter? Weren't you stationed at the Black estate tonight?" He pulled a handkerchief from a robe pocket and used it to dab his face with. Harry thought he looked terribly uncomfortable, but he diverted his attention to Dawlish, hoping to catch the look of shock on his face when he found out that it really was Harry Potter he'd captured. The Auror just grinned; apparently, he'd known all along.

"That's correct, Sir," answered Dawlish. "I caught Mr. Potter trespassing in the entrance hall and attempting to do bodily harm to a defenseless House Elf." Harry opened his mouth to try and defend himself, but Dawlish elbowed him in the ribs. Harry shot him a quick glare and tried again to speak, but Fudge beat him to it.

"Oh ho! So the famous Harry Potter thinks he can just break into the house of a dead mass murderer and try to hurt House Elves does he?" A wide grin was spreading across his face, and he was clearly becoming more confident now that he knew why Harry was there.

"I was only tr-" Harry tried to interject.

"This proves once and for all that you were in contact with Sirius Black all along. You knew where he was hiding and you deliberately kept that information from Ministry officials. You can't wiggle your way out of this one Mr. Potter, oh no." Fudge looked practically giddy.

"But Sirius was innocent!" shouted Harry, finally allowed a moment of silence to be heard. Fudge didn't so much as blink.

"Do you have any proof of that Mr. Potter, or are you just making up wild stories again?" Harry couldn't contain his anger any longer.

"AGAIN!" he raged, "WHEN HAVE I EVER?" Cornelius winced upon hearing Harry's outburst, and further wilted when he seemed unable to come up with a suitable reply.

"Last time you didn't believe me people wound up getting killed!" Dawlish let out a warning grunt beside him, but Harry didn't pay it any heed and pressed on. "I'd think that with Voldemort back you'd be more than willing to listen!" The Minister flinched audibly at the mention of the Dark Lord's name. He was becoming quite flustered. Dawlish, still holding Harry's arm, gave him a violent shake.

"You will address the Minister properly Mr. Potter or I'll force you to calm down in some rather unpleasant ways," he growled, though Harry thought that he heard some uncertainty in his voice. Harry forced himself to take a few deep breaths. There was no need to get himself cursed by an Auror. For his part, Fudge looked desperate to change the subject as well.

"What were you doing in the Black residence?" he asked quietly, scrambling for a limb to stand on.

"I was-" Harry wondered whether he should tell Fudge about the Order of the Phoenix. Chances are he already knew, what with the major battle that had taken place downstairs in this very building a little less than two months ago. Still... "I was looking for a - a picture of my parents," he said. It wasn't even entirely a lie.

"Your parents?" asked Fudge incredulously. He looked Harry up and down as if seeing him for the first time. "Why do you think that Black would have had a picture of your parents?" and then, as if the thought had just occurred to him, "and in the middle of the night?" Harry was struggling to come up with an answer to the latest charge when the big double doors to the office burst open behind him. Harry's arm was nearly ripped out of its socket as Dawlish whipped around to see who had entered. Because he didn't want his arm to break, Harry turned as well.

"Sir!" cried Percy Weasley. He was breathing very hard, and he stooped to catch his breath. Fudge looked impatient.

"Well what is it then Weasley? Can't you see I'm in the middle of something rather important." Looking up, Percy saw Harry for the first time and his eyes went wide. He didn't otherwise acknowledge his presence however.

"There's a developing situation at Azkaban," he said hurriedly, his attention turning back the Minister. "Supporters of - of you-know-who have showed up on the island and are in the process of freeing the prisoners." Percy looked frightened, and Harry supposed he would be as well if he had to deliver that sort of message. Fudge's face took on a defeated aspect, but he couldn't stop himself from asking the obvious question.

"Dementors?"

"They are back and appear to be helping the - Death Eaters, sir," Percy informed him. Harry could visibly see Fudge deflate. Were it not for the seriousness of the situation, it would have been quite comical.

"We need to go and fight, sir!" Dawlish barked. He had whipped out his wand at the mention of Death Eaters, and he looked like he was going to go fight with or without his boss. "We can't let them just walk away without a fight, we might be able to put a stop to them!" Cornelius didn't make any sound at all, he just stood stock still studying the floor. "Sir?" The Minister jolted upright, as though he'd been wakened from a particularly bad dream.

"Wha- Oh, right you are Dawlish," he said hurriedly. He looked as though he might be regaining a little air. "Pass me Mr. Potter's wand, I'll just keep it here for safekeeping." Harry watched in horror as Dawlish handed over his wand to Fudge, who placed it in a drawer. "We can't have you running around Azkaban putting our Aurors in harm's way, now can he Mr. Potter?" he asked condescendingly.

"You mean I'm coming with you?" Harry had hoped he'd never have to see Azkaban prison. He wasn't terribly excited about the idea of facing hundreds of out-of-control Dementors either, to say nothing of the Death Eaters. And he was going to be wandless to boot.

"Of course," said Fudge with the best smirk he could muster under the conditions. "I can't very well leave you here, you might try to strangle my House Elves." He shifted his focus back to Percy. "Weasley, I want you to raise the alarm, make sure that you get as many Aurors out to Azkaban as quickly as you can." Percy nodded and sprinted out the door, nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste to comply with the order.

"How are we to get to Azkaban, sir?" asked Dawlish, "it's unplottable."

"You think I don't know that?" Fudge sounded quite insulted. He turned to a large cabinet behind his desk and opened it by tapping it with a wand he had produced from his robes. It swung open to reveal a vast array of items that one would never find in any normal cabinet. Harry even thought that he saw what looked to be a shrunken head. Each item had a label beneath it, and Fudge was studying them carefully. "Let's see... Hogsmeade... Malfoy Mansion... the umm... yeah... Azkaban!" He took down what appeared to be a rusty pair of Muggle handcuffs. "Now what was the word for these again?" he asked himself as he leaned in close to get a better look at the card that had labeled the handcuffs. "Ah yes, Cheering Charm." The Minister instantly disappeared from view.

Harry and Dawlish turned to look at each other. The Auror looked as though he was daring Harry to make a crack about how stupid the Minister was so that he could use the wand he'd pulled out. Harry smartly decided to stay quiet. It was only a matter of mere moments before Fudge came plummeting to a stop right where he had been before. His cheeks were a little red. "Well come on then," he said, motioning them to join him. Harry was dragged by his arm around the large desk, and he placed a hand on the Portkey when it was lifted up by Fudge. Dawlish did the same, and one "Cheering Charm" later Harry was taking his second Portkey trip of the night.


Chapter 5: Chapter 3b: The End of an Era
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A/N: Thank you again to those who have taken the time to review. It is the constant reminder that people are reading and enjoying this story that drives me to work faster. Faster is not always better however, and if you see something that you think I could be doing better, please don't hesitate to point it out. At the request of a few readers I have set up a mailing list. If you wish to be alerted of updates through e-mail, just leave me yours in a review. Now on with the chapter.

Chapter Three (Part Two): The End of an Era

It was not at all as Harry had imagined it, it was far worse. The Portkey had set them down facing a sheer cliff which Harry was unable to see the bottom of due to the excessive amounts of fog that shrouded everything. In fact, it looked like the entire island that he was now standing on was floating on top of a murky gray cloud. The waves crashing onto the rocks below were the only indication that they weren't indeed floating far up in the night sky.

When Harry turned around he caught his first glimpse of Azkaban, and his stomach leaped up into his throat. It looked more like a giant tower than anything else. There were no windows that he could see, and there was no light at all emanating from within. In fact, even though the moon was shining brightly, it almost looked as though its light was purposely avoiding the area around the prison.

"Never did like this place much," breathed Fudge. Harry could feel the handcuffs that the Minister was holding begin to tremble underneath his hand before Cornelius pulled them away from Dawlish and Harry. "Dawlish," he snapped, "You go on ahead and leave Potter here with me. See if you can't help the Aurors who are already here."

"But you won't be safe he-"

"That was an order Dawlish! There will be a team of Hit Wizards here presently, and they will be more than adequate to keep me protected."

"And Potter?" asked Dawlish, though he looked like he already knew the answer.

"What about him?" Fudge gave a dismissive wave with his hand, and Dawlish nodded and took off towards the prison at a brisk trot. Harry felt a surge of anger at his being treated with such obvious disinterest.

"What are you planning on doing to me?" he asked, believing that the Minister had some sinister plot up his sleeve. Fudge ignored him.

"I think we need to get a closer look, Potter," he said, all but confirming Harry's suspicions. "I'll need to know who my enemies are exactly."

"You should figure out who your friends are first!" cried Harry. "I'm on your side but you still treat me like I was Voldemort's closest ally!" Fudge poi

nted his wand at Harry's head and scowled.

"Listen Potter, I'm the one holding the wand in this relationship. You will not speak to me like that again." Harry said nothing, but he hoped the withering glare he was giving the Minister spoke for him. "You and I are not on the same side," Cornelius continued, "You have done nothing but try to undermine my authority as Minister of Magic since the day you met Albus Dumbledore. You have told vicious lies about me, subverted my attempts to keep you safe, and deliberately disobeyed rules that I've made, all to make me look like a fool." Fudge was now livid with anger, and lime green sparks were shooting out the end of his wand. "No Mr. Potter, you are my enemy. You took me to the brink of political ruin, but now I get to fight back."

"Don't you see?" Harry was desperate now to make the Minister understand. "This is what Voldmort wants! He wants us to fight each other so that he can return to power!" Fudge was having none of it.

"Silencio," he muttered, and Harry found that he was no longer able to speak no matter how much he moved his mouth. "You know," began Fudge, appearing to be in deep thought. "I hadn't considered it before, but it does seem to make sense... you and Dumbledore conspired together to bring Voldemort back to life." Harry's eyes went wide with disbelief and he made wild movements with his arms. Fudge paid him no heed.

"I was right, he didn't come back after the Tri-wizard tournament, oh no. I see what's happening. You brought him back on purpose didn't you Potter? You and Dumbledore wanted to be the heroes of the Wizarding World again. You can't fool me Mr. Potter, you can't fool Cornelius Fudge." Harry had never felt so helpless in his life. Here he was being accused of terrible things with no way of getting his side of the story out. For the first time he truly appreciated what Sirius had been forced to do for all those years.

Fudge pocketed the rusty handcuffs and took hold of Harry's arm in much the same manner that Dawlish had earlier, though the Auror's grip was far stronger, and led him off towards the base of the tower. They had only taken a few steps when a voice rang out from behind them.

"Minister! Please stay back here at a safe distance." Harry looked back over his shoulder to see a group of Aurors and Hit Wizards that had just arrived on the island. The one who had spoken, a middle aged woman with flowing gray hair was standing closest to them and she was now giving Harry a quick once over. He heard a sharp intake of breath as her eyes reached his face. She didn't say anything however.

"Don't tell me how to do my job," barked Fudge before he once again began walking towards Azkaban. By now they were close enough that Harry could just make out jets of green and red light streaking through the night air. Mercifully the sounds of the battle had yet to travel this far.

Most of the witches and wizards that had appeared now passed them at a run to join the battle, but two stopped running one on either side of the linked duo of Harry and the Minister. Glancing at the one beside Fudge he recognized Kingsley Shacklebolt, head held high and wand at the ready. Beside himself was the gray haired witch who had called out to the Minister. When Harry looked up at her face she gave him a wink.

"Wotcher," she mouthed. Harry felt a surge of relief watch over him. The Order of the Phoenix was on its way, they'd show up and keep all of the prisoners from escaping. They'd get him away from Fudge. But they walked on with nary a word being spoken.

The closer they got to the base of the tower the colder the air began to get. The Minister had been shaking farther out, but now even Harry was beginning to shiver and he could see his breath hanging in front of him. To make matters worse, he began to hear screams and shouts, though to be honest he wasn't certain that they weren't inside his own head. The happy thought that the Order was going to come and join the fight left him. Where the hell were they anyway?

He could now make out individual participants in the battle, and he watched with interest as Dawlish sent a flash of orange light at the nearest Death Eater, then whirled to block an attack that had been launched at his back. He certainly seemed capable of taking care of himself.

Elsewhere on the battlefield things were not going so well. Several Aurors were laid out flat on the cold hard ground, while several others looked to be losing their battles. It was a matter of numbers, and the Death Eaters combined with the escaped prisoners had the upper hand. Conspicuous in their absence though were the Dementors, which Harry could not see at all. He could certainly feel them however, his lungs were starting to scream at him to get somewhere warmer; each breath brought freezing air down his throat where it seemed to lodge permanently in his stomach.

Harry needed to act, to do something useful to try and save these people. Already several were dead, a flash of green light and a scream welcomed another to their ranks, but here he was, just standing idly by watching people get murdered. He yanked his arm free from Fudge's weakening grasp, and made a grab for the wand that he held in his other hand. Unfortunately Fudge was just a bit ahead of him.

"Oh no you don't," he snarled, though his breathing too seemed labored. "I'm not going to give you the pleasure of doing me harm with my own wand." Harry tried to yell at Fudge that he just wanted to help, but he was still doomed to silence. Fudge made a motion to Kingsley, who walked behind Harry and pinned both of his arms down to his sides. Harry couldn't help but notice that he was very gentle about it however.

But while Harry's attention had been diverted by his escape attempt, the Dementors had made their entrance onto the battlefield. They were streaming through an opening at the base of the tower, their long black hooded cloaks appearing to glide along on top of the mist shrouded ground. The Aurors that were still fighting immediately turned and ran or pulled various objects from their pocket and disappeared into thin air. Those that were on the ground did not fare as well. Harry watched in horror as the Dementors encircled each and feasted on whatever life was remaining in those unfortunate bodies.

"Expacto Patronum!" he heard Tonks cry from beside him. He had been so engrossed in the horrifying scene before him that he had not realized there was a group of Dementors coming straight at them, their rattling breath removing the last vestiges of warmth from their surroundings. The moon, which had been bright to begin with was now invisible.

Tonks's attempt at conjuring a Patronus amounted to nothing more than a thin wisp of silver which the Dementors easily avoided. Harry felt Kingsley let go of his arms and raise his own wand, and he could hear Fudge yelling, "Expacto Patronum!" as well, but his mind was rapidly losing it's grip on reality.

"Not Harry! Please not Harry!" he heard his mother cry as he sank to his knees.

"There's nothing you can do, Harry... nothing.... He's gone." Remus Lupin's voice broke the news Harry had still yet to come to terms with.

He had to get out of here, he'd surely have his soul sucked out if he couldn't escape. He struggled to get to his feet trying as hard as he could to think happy thoughts, but nothing would come. A sudden flash of silver light interrupted his thinking and warmed him considerably. Kingsley Shacklebolt had managed to conjure a Patronus, an enormous ethereal hawk which swooped down and grasped one of the Dementors in its talons, and with each flap of its wings pushed the weightless Dementors backwards. The voices slowly left Harry's head. Fudge had lowered his wand and was now attempting to get the Portkey out of his robe pocket.

"Not so fast Fudge." The slow drawl of Lucius Malfoy startled the Minister and he dropped the Portkey on the ground just as he got it out of his pocket. Harry turned to look at the face of the man he had helped place in Azkaban. Lucius's normally pale gaunt face was now an ashen gray color, and his skin was so tightly stretched his chin, Harry wondered that the bone didn't rip right through. He ran a hand through his greasy white hair and left streaks of black where his fingers touched. It appeared as though his brief stay in Azkaban had not agreed with him.

"L-Lucius," stammered Fudge, backing up slowly. His heel landed on the handcuffs and they made a soft clinking noise. "Wh-what a p-pleasant surprise," he managed.

"Pleasant for me," Lucius answered smoothly, all his attention focused on the Minister. He shook his head sadly, but kept his wand trained on Fudge. "After all I've done for you Fudge, I'd expected better treatment. You'd think that with the money I'd let you borrow you'd be able to buy some better accommodations for your honored guests. Expelliarmus." Fudge's wand flew out of his hand and through the air to Malfoy.

"P-please Luc- Mr. Malfoy, I swear to you that I'll continue to turn a blind eye to -"

"Conjunctivitis!" Malfoy smirked. "Make that two blind eyes," he said with a snort. Harry was disappointed that Azkaban hadn't seemed to improve Malfoy's sense of humor. "You never could see two feet in front of your face, could you?" Fudge was now stumbling blindly sown a small hill towards a group of Dementors feasting on the soul of an unfortunate Auror. One of them turned it's head, the large black opening of the hood revealing nothing of what lay underneath. It broke off from the group it was in and glided towards the Minister.

Tonks saw what was happening, and started to run towards the Minister to steer him back to safety. Lucius, seeing this, took his attention off of Fudge and eyed his new moving target. "Avada Kedavra!" he shouted, and a bolt of green light shot towards the running Tonks.

"TONKS!" Harry tried to warn her but no sound would come. Fearing that his friend's next step would be her last, he looked away expecting to hear a scream when she was hit. Instead his ears were greeted by a loud clank and then the sound of a body hitting the ground. His head snapped back to where Tonks had been, only to find her lying on her back next to the handcuffs.

"Expelliarmus!" Kingsley had left the Dementors he had been rounding up apparently alerted by Lucius's attempted Killing Curse, and he was now dueling with him fiercely. Harry didn't wait to see whether Malfoy was able to block the spell, he ran to Tonks's side and knelt down over her. She was rubbing her head with her non-wand hand.

"That was quite a spill, eh, Harry?" she asked him. Harry opened and closed his mouth trying to get her to understand that he couldn't talk. She seemed to get the point. "Finite Incantatum," she said, and with a flick of her wand Harry was finally able to talk again.

"Thanks," he said breathlessly. He grabbed the pair of handcuffs from beside her and gripped them tightly. "I'll be right back, I just need to get my wand." Tonks looked like she was going to protest, but Harry didn't give her the chance to speak her mind. "Cheering Charm." Yet another hook implanted behind his navel, and the island of Azkaban disappeared beneath his feet.

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This time Harry was braced for impact, and he didn't stumble as he came to a stop on the marble floor of Fudge's office. To his great surprise he wasn't alone.

"Hello, Harry." Sitting behind the desk in the Minister's chair was none other than Albus Dumbledore. He was holding Harry's wand in one hand and a short piece of parchment in the other. "I believe you were looking for this?" he asked holding up Harry's wand. Harry was too dumbfounded for words; he just nodded weakly. "Come have a seat." Dumbledore used Harry's wand to summon a plush purple chair in front of where Harry was standing. A glint in Dumbledore's eyes told him that he was not being asked to sit down, he was being told.

"But, Sir, people are dying out there," he went on futilely. He already knew he wasn't going to get his wand unless he sat down and handed over the Portkey. He tossed the handcuffs onto the desk but refused to sit down. He was tired of Dumbledore bossing him around. "Are you just going to let them die Professor? Do their lives mean nothing to you?" Professor Dumbledore continued to motion towards the seat.

"There are battles that cannot be won, Harry," he said softly. "The trick is knowing which ones to fight."

"But Tonks and Fudge-" Harry tried desperately.

"Cornelius Fudge is dead."



Chapter 6: Chapter 4: A Matter of Trust
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Disclaimer: I do not own anything that you recognize in this chapter. No copyright infringement is intended, and no harm is meant.

A/N: Man am I nervous about posting this... People will either love it or hate it, so lets hope it's the former, shall we? If you're interested in joining the mailing list, leave your e-mail in a review. This is a one part chapter.


Chapter Four: A Matter of Trust

Harry was too stunned to say anything, so he just stood and stared at Dumbledore. The old wizard was staring down his crooked nose at Harry, and the glint which was forever in his eye seemed duller than it ever had before. Apparently the coming war was taking its toll on Albus Dumbledore already.

"Sit, Harry," he instructed again. Harry followed the order, still too shell shocked to think properly. "Nymphadora and Kingsley know how to take care of themselves, I'm sure that they are perfectly safe." This snapped Harry's attention back to the current situation at Azkaban. He had hundreds of questions that he needed to have answers for. For the time being he had even forgotten the vision that he'd had just earlier that night.

"But others died! Why didn't the Order fight? Why didn't you fight?" the contents of Harry's stomach were starting to churn, and he could feel his face growing hot. If he didn't get some answers he figured he might explode in anger. Dumbledore's face never wavered, and his voice remained as calm as his exterior when he opened his mouth to speak, further upsetting Harry.

"The job of the Order of the Phoenix is to fight and defeat Voldemort," he said softly, holding up a hand to ward off another volley of questions from Harry. "We are not an invincible force, Harry. Were Order members to have shown up at Azkaban, they could have died tonight just as easily as the Aurors that were there."

"But-"

"We cannot afford to lose people this early in the game Harry. When we have a better idea of what Voldemort's plans and capabilities are we can afford to take more risks."

"SO THAT'S ALL THIS IS?" roared Harry, "A GAME?" Dumbledore dropped his head slightly and his eyes grew darker. He put down the parchment and started to rub his left temple with his free hand.

"No, Harry," he began, his speech slower than it had been before, "War is not a game. It does, however, have winners and losers, strategies, risks, rewards... it is not a game, but we must play by the rules or face defeat. It was not in our best interests to be at Azkaban tonight. We would have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of Death Eaters and Dementors present." Harry realized that there was a certain amount of sense in this, but that hardly changed the fact that there were several people who had died, including the Minister of Magic. Harry really didn't like him, but surely he was worth protecting.

"So you're saying that the people who died tonight - died for no reason? They should have just left Azkaban and let the Death Eaters waltz right out?" he asked.

"No life that is given to our cause is given in vain. Each life has a-" Dumbledore looked as though he were trying to find the right word to use, "a purpose. I have a purpose, you have a purpose, the Order has a purpose, just as every Death Eater and Dementor has a purpose." Harry was instantly reminded of the prophecy he'd heard for the first time just after Sirius's death.

"You mean my purpose - to, er, fight Voldemort." It wasn't a question.

"Yes, and my purpose is to place you into a position where you can do so. No matter what the costs." Harry's eyes widened. Did Dumbledore mean what Harry thought he meant?

"You'd be willing to let hundreds of others die, to die yourself, just so that I can - fight him?"

"As terrible as it may seem, that is precisely what I - what the Order of the Phoenix - exist to do. Your safety is more important than anything else. Without you, the Wizarding World would cease to exist. Voldemort would destroy everything." Harry nearly fell out of the chair Dumbledore had summoned. His fingers had gone numb from squeezing the armrests so hard, and he had a terrible headache from the constant prickling of his scar that had started just after the attack on Azkaban. Dumbledore noticed this.

"Are you all right, Harry?" he asked, a note of concern in his voice. His brow furrowed and he leaned forward over the desk as though to get a better look.

"Yeah, it's just a - it's nothing," Harry concluded. If Dumbledore expected him to do all of that, he probably didn't want to know that he was just feeling a little sick. Harry found himself worrying over whether he'd ever be allowed to be normal again when his thoughts were interrupted by Dumbledore.

"It is a tall task in front of you Harry, you will not be able to succeed alone. The love and support of your friends will be vitally important to your ability to defeat Voldemort." Dumbledore straightened up and pushed his chair back from the desk as if to stand. "Therefore, I must ask that you learn to share your feelings with them. This is not your burden to bear alone. There are those who will gladly share it with you." Harry nodded glumly. Sure Ron and Hermione were great friends, but did he really want to share this with them? Would they still want to be around him after they learned his purpose?

"I see that you have had a long night, and indeed the sun is about to rise," said Dumbledore in a somewhat fatherly tone. "We need to find you a place to sleep." Harry was suddenly reminded of he reason why he was even in this situation.

"I can't go back to the Dursleys'," he said quietly. He felt terrible. Dumbledore had only recently told him why it was so important that he stay on Privet Drive, and now he had gone and got himself kicked out.

"I know, Harry," said Dumbledore simply. "I received a rather frantic message from Arabella Figg. It seems she just missed you before you flooed to Grimmauld Place, she was, I'm afraid, having kittens." For the briefest of moments Harry could see the twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes return to full strength, and even under these dire circumstances he was forced to smile.

"I'm er - sorry," he said, growing suddenly serious again. "I know that it was important for me to stay at the Dursleys' house, for my own protection, but I couldn't stand around and listen to my Uncle talk that way about Sirius." Dumbledore removed his long fingers from the arms of the great golden chair he was sitting in and pulled it back closer to the desk.

"I know that Sirius Black meant a lot to you Harry," he took his glasses off and rubbed his nose, "and I cannot fault you for defending his honor. He was a good man and his memory deserves to have someone like you protecting it. Your parents were ri-"

But Harry lost the rest of what Dumbledore was saying. The mention of his parents has caused him to remember the vision, and all of the questions about Dumbledore's involvement in their deaths. He fixed the Headmaster in his gaze and interrupted him.

"I saw their deaths," he said loudly enough to be sure the man sitting across the desk heard him. Dumbledore stopped talking and frowned. "I had a dream - a vision - earlier tonight. Voldemort went back to his memory of it in a Pensieve." Dumbledore remained strangely quiet for several seconds. He had placed his elbows on the desk in front of him and he was bringing his fingers together then taking them apart again in sequence. Harry was just about to speak again when the fingers stopped moving.

"I'm sorry that you had to see that, Harry." Dumbledore again pushed his chair back from the desk and was on the verge of standing up. Harry couldn't help but feel that his Headmaster was avoiding something.

"Wait!" Dumbledore simply held out Harry's wand, offering it to him. Harry shook his head. "I won't take it unless you let me ask you about that night," he said. A furrow appeared in between Dumbledore's shaggy white eyebrows, and he pursed his lips together.

"Very well then," he said. "I did tell you that I would tell you the whole truth. Just know that there are some things it is better not to know." Harry's heart skipped a beat. He was finally going to get his answers. But why was Dumbledore looking so troubled?

"Why did Wor- er - Peter Pettigrew - alert my parents after he had already betrayed their location to Voldemort?" Harry watched Dumbledore's reaction in amazement. The wizened wizard slumped over, and it appeared as though a good bit of life drained out of him at that very moment. Harry couldn't stop himself from asking if he was all right.

"Yes," breathed Dumbledore, a grim expression on his face. "I just had hoped that you would never find out what had really happened that night." Harry began to get angry again. He couldn't believe that Albus Dumbledore, the man he had trusted most, was capable of keeping more truths about his past from him.

"I want to know what happened," he said firmly. Dumbledore nodded and stood up.

"What you must understand Harry is that I would have done it another way if I could. We simply did not have another alternative. We - I - knew the whole contents of the prophecy," Harry's stomach did a flip at its mention, "and I knew that Voldemort did not. I therefore had to act quickly before he was able to learn the contents of the remainder of the prophecy."

"What did you do?" growled Harry.

"Please just let me tell the story Harry, it pains me to tell you this, and I would like for it to go quickly." Harry nodded sharply. "Very well, I decided that what we had to do was trap Voldemort into fulfilling the portion of the prophecy he did not know, or else he would simply kill both you and Neville Longbottom and be done with it. You were, being a child, defenseless against anything he could have thrown at you. There was, in my opinion, only one way to prevent Voldemort from killing the both of you before you had ever had the chance to fight him."

"What did you do?" repeated Harry more insistently. It appeared that Dumbledore was withering under his glare.

"I asked both your parents and Neville's parents if they'd be willing to sacrifice themselves." Harry's eyes burned and his scar prickled. He could feel his hair begin to stand on end.

"YOU WHAT?" he shouted, nearly coming to his feet. Dumbledore began to pace on the far side of the desk.

"The only way to protect you was to use an ancient magic which Voldemort would never be able to understand, the magic of the heart. So I asked your parents and Neville's to -"

"TO GO GET THEMSELVES KILLED! YOU KILLED MY PARENTS!"

"Voldemort killed your parents, Harry," Dumbledore's normally calm voice was beginning to crack. "There was no other way Harry. If we had done nothing, he could have killed you both easily, and the world as we know it wouldn't exist. Both your parents and Neville's agreed to go along with the plan. We set up two separate safe houses for them, with two separate Secret Keepers." A light went on inside Harry's head, though he was already seeing red.

"Wait, Sirius once said that he was supposed to be the Secret Keeper, but he persuaded my parents to use Wormtail," he said mainly to himself, trying to prove the nightmare he'd just been made privy to was a lie.

"Sirius was mistaken. Lily and James wished for no one to know about their sacrifice, they thought you'd think less of them for doing what they were going to do, so they agreed to the plan only if it was kept an absolute secret. Peter Pettigrew had been working as a double agent for the previous year, and he had intimate contact with Voldemort. He was always going to be the Secret Keeper. James merely asked Sirius to do it to keep up the appearance that it was not a trap." Harry was shaking in his seat. He wasn't sure what to think.

"Unfortunately, after that night, Peter was so wracked with guilt over what he'd done to his best friends, he shunned all that was good within him and began to work exclusively for Voldemort. There are some things that just cannot be helped. He never did, however, give up the secret out of respect for you, Harry." Dumbledore appeared to be crying, but Harry had had enough.

"NO!" he shouted, "WAS THAT MY PARENTS' PURPOSE? DID THEY EXIST JUST SO THEY COULD DIE? ARE WE ALL JUST PAWNS IN SOME STUPID CHESS MATCH?"

"Emotion is what makes you strong Harry, but it is also your weakness. I'm afraid that what you have just learned may eventually be your downfall, and that is why I sought to keep it from you. You must realize that there is something greater than you, greater than me, greater than any of us at stake here." Dumbledore wiped his cheek and appeared to steel himself. "What's done is done," he said softly. Harry sprang to his feet and pointed an accusatory finger at Dumbledore.

"You murdered my parents. You're the cause of Sirius going to Azkaban. You placed me with the Dursleys. You - everything bad in my life can be traced back to you."

"I have done it only to keep you safe."

"AT TOO GREAT A COST!" Harry reached out his hand to take back his wand, and Dumbledore offered no resistance. Harry was so angry that as soon as he touched the wand it shot off sparks.

"Harry, you must -" But Harry never gave him the chance to finish.

"NO!" Harry turned towards the double doors that led into the office's reception area, but couldn't resist a parting shot. "Their blood is on your hands," he said coldly, and left without looking back.

In the reception area of the Minister's office (Harry briefly wondered who was Minister at the moment) Percy Weasley was sitting on the floor with his back to the wall staring at a piece of parchment identical to the one that Dumbledore had been holding. "I can't believe it," Harry heard him mumble over and over.

Harry wasn't certain that he believed it either, any of it. He hoped that this was all nothing more than a dream, that tomorrow he'd wake up back in the cupboard. But he knew that it would have to remain wishful thinking. Fudge was dead, Dumbledore had orchestrated his parents' deaths, and he was now willing to let people die pointlessly so long as Harry was safe. It just didn't make sense.

Harry didn't know where his feet were leading him, but they found there way into one of the elevators that ran the length of the Ministry of Magic, and he punched a random number. He had nowhere to go. He couldn't go back to the Dursleys, he couldn't go to the Burrow, it wasn't safe for Ron and his family for him to be there. He couldn't go to Hermione's for the same reason, and 12 Grimmauld Place was no longer in the possession of the Order. He thought briefly of going to the Leaky Cauldron, but that would just be inviting an attack on Diagon Alley. The only place he was safe anymore was at Hogwarts, and he had no way of getting there. Harry realised with a start that his trunk was still in the Drawing Room of Grimmauld Place.

When Harry got out of the elevator, he recognized the corridor that he found himself on. Mr. Weasley's office was just down there, and his feet led him the rest of the way down the corridor, just as the sun rose in the enchanted windows. Vowing to himself not to think about it anymore, he slumped down against the door to the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office, and almost instantly fell asleep.


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