Scion of Gryffindor
30 - DMLE Press Conference
Harry / Tonks ship
Dear Ginny, Luna, Hermione, and Ron,
I'm sure you've all already read today's Prophet. I didn't mean for your names to get out into the open media.
Now before you think I'm pulling a Lockhart, Neville and I weren't trying to hog all the attention for ourselves. I was mostly worried about all the bad publicity you four will get out of this. You know what I'm talking about, Hermione, from what happened after Skeeter's articles after the Yule Ball.
The good news is that we'll all be awarded the Order of the Griffon after the Wizengamot gets their collective act together. From what Neville tells me, that's only one step short of the Order of Merlin. Not bad for a bunch of fifth and sixth years, huh?
Again, I'm sorry for the press firestorm that will be hitting you all if it hasn't already.
"How do I look?" Harry asked Nim while looking at his reflection.
Harry started and blinked at Nim in the mirror for a moment before he responded, "I was going for distinguished, actually."
"Oh. Well, that too."
"Because, you know, Madam Bones may not appreciate me looking sexy at her press conference."
"Who cares what she thinks? I think you're sexy."
Harry smiled at her reflection in nervous amusement. "You're incorrigible."
"Oh, big word. Did you take a Thesaurus Potion this morning?"
"Dora, leave the poor lad alone," Shack said from the doorway. "He's enough of a mess as it is. Any more of your teasing and he's going to be a total wreck."
"Thanks." Harry paused. "I think."
"You're welcome. Now, are you ready to go and give a press conference before the entire wizarding world?
Harry sighed. "Shack, anymore of your encouragement and I WILL be a total wreck."
"I know what you need," Nim announced.
Harry turned in his seat to look at her but didn't voice the obvious question.
She stood and walked around to behind his chair. Her strong hands started massaging the knots out of his shoulders.
Harry felt his nervous tension evaporate as his shoulders melted under her touch. "Ooh, that feels good. I'll do anything you ask if you don't stop."
Before Nim could say anything, Shack spoke up, "Harry, you need to be very careful saying things like that. This IS Dora we're talking about."
It didn't take long for Harry to realize what Shack was warning him about. "True."
Nim chuckled as she stopped rubbing his shoulders. "We'll discuss payment later. Now, up. We need to get going."
Harry rotated his shoulders and stood. "Thank you," he said to her with a smile.
She just smiled back.
Harry nodded to his two bodyguards for the afternoon. Already keyed into the wards, all three apparated straight out and to the ministry's incoming apparition zone. Like all public apparition zones, this one had charms preventing people from splinching themselves by apparating into others who were also arriving.
Moving quickly, all three got through the security check and went to the public conference room in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Amelia Bones was waiting for them near the doors. "Harry, I’m glad you made it on time. Tonks, Shacklebolt, good to see you two again. How's life been treating you?"
"No complaints, Director," Tonks said. "Thank you for asking."
Shacklebolt nodded agreement before the two moved to convenient spots along the wall, near where aurors were already stationed.
Bones watched in satisfaction. "They're working out for you, then?" she asked Harry out of the side of her mouth.
Harry smiled and looked at Tonks in affection. "Definitely. They're both good friends and teaching me loads besides."
Bones nodded sharply. "Good. They're both fine people." She herded Harry toward the front of the room as reporters started filling the available space. "Now, I'm going to say a few words indicating that you and I are working together to combat the Death Eaters. I'll then introduce you. After you say a few words, go ahead and open it up for questions. If they ask anything you're uncomfortable answering, feel free to defer it to me or just not answer. Any problem?"
Harry shook his head, so she stepped behind the podium. A low level Sonorus Field Charm that Harry could barely see was already working, and her voice easily overrode the chattering people in the room. "Good afternoon, witches and wizards. If you'll all settle down, we can get this press conference started, so we can end it quicker."
Harry found himself liking her more and more.
"Thank you," she went on as the last reporter found a seat. "You're all aware that two weeks ago the Wizengamot voted to provisionally award the Order of the Griffon, which is the highest award that body can bestow without the Minister's endorsement, to the so-called Ministry Six. I'm pleased to announce that the D.M.L.E has delivered the reports that Wizengamot Chief Warlock Dumbledore requested of it.
"Between that event in June and an event on August eleven, Harry Potter was instrumental in securing the capture of a total of twenty Death Eaters. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, that's better than any single auror has done in the same time frame. Fortunately for all of us, Harry and I will continue to work together to secure peace for the British Wizarding population.
"Harry, would you like to say anything?"
When Harry approached her, she held out her hand, and he automatically took it.
Every magical flashbulb in the room seemed to go off at the same moment. Blinking the purple splotches from his eyes, Harry smiled at the apologetic and wry expression Amelia shot him.
He took a place behind the podium. "Thank you, Director Bones. Before you start giving me too much credit for the twenty arrested Death Eaters, please remember that I had help in both situations. Five fellow students were with me in June before the cavalry showed up to finish the fight, and three adults, two of them former aurors, did most of the work in August.
"To be honest, I didn't want to be awarded with the Order of the Griffon." The reporters gaped at him, but he continued, "Both Neville and I voted against the awards for us. Upon reflection, though, I realized that if I didn't accept, then the other five with me wouldn't recieve the award either. As I feel they deserve the recognition, I suppose that I must accept it.
"As Director Bones has mentioned, she and I will continue to work together to bring down Voldemort and his -" He cut himself off with a scowl as most of the reporters shivered. "Oh, grow up. It's just a name a psychopathic half-blood made up for himself. I know you all read the letter I wrote to the Prophet in August. His real name is Tom Riddle."
He took a breath to rein in his anger. "As I was saying, I hope to continue to work with Director Bones and her Department of Magical Law Enforcement to stop Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Who, if you think about it, are nothing more than a band of terrorists following a murdering psychopath convinced of his own superiority.
"That's all I have prepared. Are there any questions?"
One of the reporters was quicker than the others and got his question off before the others. "Mr. Potter, you just referred to Tom Riddle as a half-blood. Does this mean you believe in blood purity?"
Harry shook his head. "No, not at all. I'm a half-blood myself. My mother was muggle-born. One of my best friends at Hogwarts is muggle-born. I only pointed out Voldemort's blood status because I wanted to show how hypocritical he is in his stated position of pure-blood superiority."
"There are rumors that one of the attackers died in the August attack at the Shacklebolt home. The rumors state that you killed him. Are they true?"
Harry's throat refused to work for a moment. Fortunately, Amelia was already speaking. "One of the Death Eaters, Zackary Forsum, did die of his wounds at the scene. The cause of his death was NOT spell damage, however. Neither Lord-Baron Potter nor any of his comrades are going to be charged with his death."
"Harry, are you dating anyone?"
Inordinately thankful for a question that got away from the death he'd caused, even if the topic was something else he didn't generally like to discuss, Harry answered, "Yes. Let me guess, you're from Witch Weekly."
"Teen Witch Weekly, actually. Who's the lucky girl? Or girls? Or is it even a witch?"
Harry's eyes narrowed. "I heard about the article that implied all sorts of things about my dating habits. For the record, I categorically deny asking anyone to take Polyjuice Potion. As for who I did or am dating, I'm afraid that I'm not going to answer that."
"Why not? Afraid of limiting who else you can ask?"
"No," Harry growled, "I'm trying to keep her name away from Voldemort. He's been known to go after close friends of his targets, after all."
"So it is one witch, then?" the reporter asked with a smug grin.
Harry almost screamed. Trust a reporter to ignore the message he was trying to get across. "Next question," he said in a low voice.
"Mr. Potter, you have withdrawn from Hogwarts. What, if anything, and where are you studying?"
The doors at the back of the room crashed open, interrupting the evasive answer Harry was about to give.
Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge pompously strode through the doorway and planted himself at the back of the room. He already had a full power Sonorus Charm upon himself, and his voice boomed out, "Ah, thank you for delaying the press conference until I arrived."
Harry's flash of anger was quickly smothered. He couldn't afford to be seen attacking Fudge, no matter how much of a lying idiot he actually was. "We weren't delaying the conference until you arrived, Minister. In fact, I think we were about finished. Director Bones?"
Before she could speak, Fudge interrupted, "Now, Harry, I know how much you dislike the public spotlight, but I wanted to thank you before all these people for all of your help. Together, we can get through this troubling time."
Harry ground his teeth together at the man's incredible audacity. "Sir, I'm afraid I must point out a flaw in your thinking. I'm not backing YOU, sir; I'm helping Amelia and the D.M.L.E.
"Also, I have repeatedly asked you to call me Lord-Baron Potter. I respectfully reserve my first name for my friends' use."
Harry ignored Fudge's attempt to interrupt and kept speaking. "Now, as I recall, you promised me that you'd allow an investigation into Dolores Umbridge, one of your senior undersecretaries and formerly Hogwarts High Inquisitor by YOUR decree, on charges of setting dementors loose on me, attempted use of an Unforgivable Curse, and use of a torture device. How's that investigation going?"
The reporters had watched the two men speaking, heads swiveling from the front to the back of the room, until this point. At Harry's question, they all exploded into shouted questions.
Harry glared at Fudge, who glared right back. Amelia finally quieted the room by repeatedly casting Canon Blast Charms.
Before she could say a word, though, Fudge, still with the Sonorus Charm active, cleared his throat and said, "Director Bones, you are ordered to investigate these . . . allegations." He looked around the room at the reporters. "Thank you for your attention. This press conference is concluded." He spun on his heel and left, his auror guards following silently.
Some of the reporters bolted after him. The rest of them started shouting questions at Harry and Amelia.
Bones grabbed Harry's arm and pulled him out through a concealed door in the back of the room, Tonks and Shack barely slipping through behind them before the door closed.
Once into a quiet corridor, Bones released Harry. "I'm sorry," she said immediately. "I had no idea he was going to do that."
Eyes still flaming, Harry nodded at her. "Apology accepted. If I know how he thinks, it's not your fault anyway. It doesn't surprise me that he would do this, though. I TOLD him that I wasn't going to support him. I agreed to this press conference in exchange for the changes in the werewolf laws he suggested the other day."
Amelia held out an arm to indicate a direction and fell into step with Harry. "That makes sense. I'd wondered why he suddenly changed his attitude on werewolves."
The four were silent until they got to Amelia's office. Once the door was closed, Harry bellowed out, "That pompous arsehole! Why do that and force me to publicly go against him? Is he THAT blindingly stupid?"
Tonks moved in front of him and pulled Harry into a scorching kiss. This effectively derailed his rant.
Amelia laughed as she dropped into the seat behind her desk. "Well, that answers one of my questions. I remember you two at the Equinox Ball, but I didn't know how serious you were."
Harry, now wearing a slightly goofy grin, sat down in the guest chair. Tonks, looking smug, moved to beside the door. Shack just shook his head, a grin threatening to erupt.
"Congratulations, by the way," Amelia added. "I can see why you're keeping it quiet.
"Now, about these allegations. What can you tell me?"
"Do you have a pensieve?" Harry asked, shaking himself back to reality. "I think that'd be the quickest way to let you know what happened."
She nodded and turned her chair toward the wall behind her. She waved her wand in an intricate pattern and muttered under her breath. An opening appeared in the wall, through which Harry could see a variety of instruments and parchments. Amelia pulled a small, empty pensieve out and placed it onto the desk.
It was much smaller but more ornate than the one he'd seen in Snape's classroom. The number of runes along the bowl was so high that it looked more like decorative carving than distinct runes. To his Mage Sight, it was absolutely glowing with power.
While he was studying the pensieve, Bones had closed her security vault, returning it to physical and magical invisibility, and turned back to him. "This is a specialty pensieve. It's used in court where the person giving the memory may be trained in occlumency or other mind arts." Her gaze shifted to Shack for a moment before turning to Harry. "Please understand that it's not that I don't trust you, but as I'm collecting legal evidence, I must follow strict guidelines." She made an inviting gesture to the pensieve and looked at Harry expectantly.
Harry had studied pensieves earlier in the summer after having seen them in use by Snape and then Dumbledore. Therefore, he knew how to use one without anyone showing him how.
He pulled the first memory he wanted Amelia to view to the "front" of his mind and used his wand to pull the silvery thread out of his temple and deposited it into the bowl. He repeated the process with two more memories before sitting back in his chair.
Amelia nodded. "For the record, do you agree to my viewing the memories that you have placed into this pensieve, Lord-Baron Potter?"
"I agree, Director Bones," Harry replied, deducing from her tone that this more legal requirement.
"Do you mind if I also watch?" Tonks asked unexpectedly.
Amelia looked at Tonks apologetically. "I'm afraid I can't permit that." She raised a hand to Harry's gathering question. "It's not a confidentiality issue - I gather you'd agree to her request - but keeping the memory unimpeachable. I can't permit another non-ministry person into the memory while I'm in there. I'm sorry, Tonks."
Tonks's expression showed her displeasure, but she nodded her acceptance. With no further comment, Bones entered the memory, becoming immobile, leaning over the bowl on her desk.
Harry looked around the room, silently chastising himself for not having taken in his surroundings before this point. Aside from the door behind him and the security vault behind Bones's desk, the left hand wall had three magical windows, currently showing a sun-drenched, grassy field. The last wall of the relatively small room contained about a dozen photographs. Most of the pictures were reasonably small and contained in simple frames. Each image showed Amelia shakings hands with someone. The only two that Harry immediately recognized were Margaret Thatcher and the Queen. In the center spot was a large image of Amelia and Susan, sitting on a bench and pointing and laughing at something off camera. Harry sighed sadly at the image of his now-dead classmate.
Trying to find a happier subject, Harry turned in his seat and said, "The occlumency is helping, Shack. Bringing the specific memories up was almost easy."
Shacklebolt nodded. "One of the benefits. Purely out of curiosity, what memories are you showing her?"
"First D.A.D.A. class, first detention with that damn quill, and when the Inquisitorial Squad had caught us trying to break into her office."
Kingsley, having seen all the scenes in question through his training with Harry, merely nodded.
"We'll have to find another pensieve. I'd like to know exactly what you're talking about," Tonks said.
Shacklebolt raised one eyebrow at her. "He could transfer the memory over."
Harry looked at him blankly.
Shack explained to Harry, "Legilimens her and instead of searching for something, push your memory over to her. If she were a legilimens, she could pull it out, but since she isn't . . ." He shrugged after trailing off.
Tonks looked excited by the possibility, but Harry was leery. "I don't have any real practice with something like that. I can barely connect to your mind, Shack. What if I hurt her?"
"I received enough occlumency training through the aurors that you wouldn't hurt me unless you seriously tried," Tonks assured him. "Just come on over, drop the memories, and leave. No big deal, right?"
Before Harry could answer, Bones leaned back in her chair, looking absolutely livid. "The absolute nerve of her! How dare she . . . But then she was going to . . ." She took a deep breath and looked up at Harry. "Yes. Well, I can see why you wanted an investigation of her actions. May I see the back of your hand, please?"
Harry presented the back of his right hand to her.
She looked at it carefully before pulling out her wand and casting several detection spells. Nodding in satisfaction, she leaned back in her chair. "You may have your memories back, Harry. I'm through with them for the moment." As Harry was putting the memories back into his mind - a very unusual sensation to him, to be sure - she stared at the photo-covered wall pensively. When he was done, she gave one decisive nod and turned to him. "This will take some time. Especially as Cornelius is no doubt warning Dolores about what he just oh-so-grudgingly ordered me to do. Don't expect anything to be done until after the new year at the least. Do you know of other students who underwent detentions with her?"
"Lee Jordan that I know of. I don't know any more for sure."
"Well, that's something I can request from the headmaster. I'll owl you once I know something more. Thank you for bringing this to me." Her posture shifted and she went on, "Again, I'm sorry about how the press conference went."
Harry shook his head. "Not your fault." His sudden grin had a wicked edge to it. "Tell you what: If you put Umbitch away, we'll call it even."
Amelia nodded, looking determined and angry. "THAT will definitely be my pleasure."
That evening in the parlor, Harry studied Tonks's eyes intently. At the moment they were a green that matched his, but they were still clearly hers. The humor and affection he saw directed at him was something his own mirror rarely showed.
"Legilimens," he whispered.
Not encountering any resistance from her, he was immediately into her mind, finding only a quiet, blank space.
Harry brought forth the memory of the first D.A.D.A. lesson and then tried to push it outward, toward the patiently waiting presence he could feel.
A few moments later, he received back a burst of annoyance, but he could tell it wasn't directed at him. After a few seconds, the emotional waves stopped, and it became quiet again.
Gathering the memory of the beginning his detention, stopping after the first dozen or so lines, he pushed that out as well.
The emotional reaction from Nim was much more pronounced this time. Horror, murderous rage, sympathetic pain, and sadness were all mingled together. Once that initial burst was ended, a comforting wave of love enveloped him. This wasn't the kind of love he felt from his mother's memory or Mrs. Weasley, but it was much more a romantic love of an equal offering him comfort.
The unexpected and largely unknown feeling caused Harry to momentarily lose control of his emotions. Ignoring the implications of what he was feeling, it took him a few scrambling seconds to bring his mind back under control. Nim, surprised by his reaction, retreated to a calm, waiting state.
Harry finally pulled himself together and pushed the last memory, the Inquisitorial Squad capturing him, her aborted Cruciatus Curse, and Hermione's quick-talking escape, to her. Before she could react, he broke the mental connection.
Harry found himself looking into Nim's eyes again, but this time they were gray and tears were giving them a shimmering appearance.
Kingsley, standing by as his occlumency coach, whispered, "Did it work?"
Harry cleared his throat. "Yeah, it worked. Thanks. I hate to ask this, Shack, but could you . . ."
Harry didn't have to figure out how to finish his request. Kingsley nodded and left without a word.
Tonks took a deep breath and bit her lip. "Okay, I can understand why you hate her so much now. What I don't understand is your reaction."
She didn't have to specify which reaction. "I didn't know how to deal with it."
The unspoken confusion in her expression requested an explanation.
"Nobody's ever loved me before," he whispered, looking away from her gaze.
Her hand gently pushed his chin back around. "That's why . . ." She trailed off, not sure how to finish the question.
He laughed quietly and bitterly. "Everyone I love dies, Nim. Mum, Dad, Sirius. I'm AFRAID to love you, but it's happened anyway." He took a breath. "As for why I haven't tried to go further with you? I don't know HOW," his admittance came out as a whisper.
She smiled sadly. "Nobody gave me instructions, either, Harry."
He shook his head. "No, that's not what I mean. I mean, what if I . . . don't do it right?" He blushed vividly.
She looked momentarily confused before her expression cleared. "Ah, so that's it," she said gently.
Harry flushed and looked down. "You probably think I'm a git now, don't you? The Boy Who Lived, the Great Harry Potter," he spit out the titles sarcastically, "doesn't know the first damn thing about women. How pathetic is that?"
"It just proves you're an honorable and noble git." She giggled quietly at the aggravated expression he gave her. She calmed and went on seriously, "I'm honored that you're even thinking about me in those terms."
He let out a breath, calming back down. "Yeah, I guess I am."
She leaned forward and gave him a slow kiss. After she broke it, she pulled him into a hug and whispered, "We'll move forward together then?"
She felt his miniscule nod and the tightening of his hug.
Pulling from his hug, she ran one hand down his cheek and smiled at him. "As much as I look forward to that, tonight is probably not a good time to start. It's been a long day and, to be honest, I'm beat."
Forcing himself to be honest, Harry nodded agreement. Reliving the worst moments with Umbridge, twice, a confrontation with Fudge, and now this emotional wringer had wiped him out. His body was crying out for rest despite not having done much of any serious physical activity.
She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and retreated before her resolve wavered.
She went to the dining room, hoping to calm her frazzled nerves before she even attempted sleep. She found Kingsley, Remus, and Godric sitting around the table. When she took a seat, a cup of her favorite tea appeared in front of her without a word spoken.
"Thank you, Dobby," she whispered, before taking a quick sip. "What's up?" she asked the three men in a casual voice.
"Kingsley was telling us about the meeting with Director Bones," Remus answered, looking at her closely.
"I didn't expect to see you again tonight," Kingsley mentioned.
She shot him a poisonous look that was ignored.
"Ah," Godric said simply.
Emotions flickered over Remus's face for a moment. "Just don't hurt him," he requested. Not saying anything else, the werewolf stood and left.
Kingsley stood and rested a hand on her shoulder for a moment. "And don't get yourself hurt, either." He also left without waiting for a response.
Godric nodded to her solemnly. "For what it's worth: good luck."
Letting her face twist in semi-amusement at the ghost's words, Nymphadora stared down at her cooling tea for a very long time.