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Harry / Tonks ship

Hand in hand and looking happy with the world, Harry and Nim showed up for breakfast the morning after Christmas.

Laura watched Harry hold Nim's chair out and asked, "So does this mean you two are getting married?"

Ignoring the momentary nonplussed looks on the two adults in question, Kelly answered her daughter, "I told you before that they need to date for a while before they decide to get married, dear."

Laura nodded.  "I know, Mummy, but they started dating AGES ago."  She turned back to the couple.  "If you aren't getting married, then how can you have kids for me to play with?"

Remus, eyes twinkling merrily, propped his chin on one fist.  "Yes, do tell us how you can have kids without being married."

"Stuff it, you crazy wolf," Nim grumbled without looking up from her plate of waffles.

Shack and Remus weren't being very successful in stifling their laughter.  Godric was simply smiling very widely.

Harry was a little flustered as he tried to formulate an answer for the young witch.

Kelly tried to come to their aid again.  "It takes months and months to have a baby, Laura."

Laura thought about this for a moment before turning to Tonks.  "Well, hurry up and get started!"


The teasing and generally light mood from the beginning of breakfast didn't last.

Azkaban Breakout!

The night of 25 December at approximately 10 o'clock, the prison of Azkaban was attacked by a large group of apparent Death Eaters.  Of the 30 aurors on duty, 20 were killed and the rest were wounded to various degrees and escaped. 

At 1 o'clock in the morning of 26 December, a massive auror force arrived at the island fortress to discover every prisoner had either been killed or was missing.  The unconfirmed yet general theory is that every released prisoner is now a follower of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

The names of the slain aurors will be released later today by Director of D.M.L.E. Bones.  According to Minister Fudge, a list of missing prisoners is not available at this time.

In an apparently related move, Minister Fudge has given authorization for immediate execution of captured Death Eaters, saying, "These people are too dangerous to try to hold in custody anywhere.  Harry Potter and I have discussed this, and we've agreed that they should be executed after they're captured."

The tense silence was broken by Shack.  "Please tell me you didn't actually suggest that to him."

"He's twisting my words.  Again," Harry ground out through clenched teeth.

Nim reached over and laid one hand on the back of his neck.  Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  The feeling of static electricity in the air subsided.

"I have a very bad feeling that the Death Eater Inner Circle was just re-populated," Remus said darkly.

Harry held up his hand.  "Accio communication crystal."  The crystal flew into his hand from the direction of the study.  Placing it onto the tabletop, he tapped it with his wand.  "Contact Narcissa Black."

After several seconds, Cissy's voice came out of it.  "Hello?"

"Hi, Cissy.  Everyone's here and we just read the Prophet."

"I'm presuming you're worried about Lucius?"

"Very much so."

"I'm not so worried about my safety here with Andy.  The wards are sufficient.  I'm more concerned for Draco.  I've spoken with him this morning, thank you for the crystals you gave the two of us, by the by, and he's refusing to hide from his father."

"And here I thought it was only us Gryffindors who were stupidly brave," Harry observed with a twisted grin at his grandfather.

Multiple voices raised in laughter came from both ends of the magical communication.

"You are," Andy's voice said.  "You're rubbing off on Draco, I guess."

"If you ever say that to him, I want to watch a pensieve image of his reaction, okay?"

Andy laughed.  "Deal.  One other thing, did you read what Fudge has quoted you as saying?"

"Yes," Harry growled out.  "I did say that execution makes sense to me, but I explicitly said after capture of ESCAPED deez AFTER interrogation.  He's misquoting me pretty badly."

"You say that like it's a surprise," Shack said.  "Also, the way it's coming across is that you're working with him."

"Agreed," Cissy said.  "You need to go on record immediately refuting what he's trying to do."

Harry nodded.  That made sense.  "Cissy, could you write something up for me?  I think you're the best writer in the group for something like this.  I'll sign it and send it to the Prophet.  They'll publish it simply because it will make it look like Fudge and I are at each others' throats."

"Aren't you?" Ted asked dryly.

"Details, details," Harry said dismissively but with a grin.

There was a rustling on the other end of the connection.

"Andy just got an owl with a phoenix seal," Cissy reported.  "While she reads that, you'd be interested to know, Baron Black, that my son mentioned that he emptied the Malfoy vault before he renounced the name and took the oath Solicitor Wordsmith wrote up for him."

"That sneaky little snake," Remus said in obvious admiration.

"He is a Slytherin," Narcissa and Nim both said in chorus, causing scattered chuckles from the listeners.  Narcissa went on, "He also asked if his gift made it safely?"

"Yes," Harry answered as everyone else looked at him curiously.

"What'd he get you?" Shack asked.

Harry shifted in embarrassment.  "A bottle of 50 year old firewhiskey.  The note said something about wanting to see me totally pissed . . ."

Everyone chuckled again.

"I just got an information packet from Dumbledore," Andy reported.  "He can't seem to send an owl to you, so he sent it here.  In his letter, he gave a list of the released prisoners.  I can read it out loud if you want, but it looks like the Inner Circle is fully reformed plus various low-level Death Eaters.  A bunch of other names, too, presumably more common criminals that joined him in order to get out of Azkaban."

"Great, more deez," Harry said sourly.  It wasn't a surprise, but having a definite list was at least helpful.

"Dumbledore also commented on the article this morning.  He didn't ask it outright, but he's clearly curious about what you've been saying to Fudge."

"What I'm saying is not the same as what he's hearing," Harry grumbled.  "Cissy, if possible, please make that article mildly critical of him, would you?  He keeps trying to use me to shore up his image, and I have got to stop him."

"I'll do that," Cissy promised with a slight note of anticipation in her voice.

Andy's voice continued, "Lastly, he mentions that your previous article to the Prophet, the one about Riddle, had an adverse affect on the Death Eater recruiting efforts and fundraising."

"Glad to hear it.  Sounds like Dumbledore wants me to write another article, doesn't it?  Hinting about a previously successful article?"

"Probably.  Most people listen to you."

"He didn't mention anything about yesterday's article of Nim and me?"

"Nope."

"Hmm.  Well, how about that?  He CAN keep out of my private life."

Shack wore a disapproving frown.

Remus said, "Harry . . ."

"I know, I know.  I'll behave.  Anything else, Andy?"

"I don't think so.  Has Shack opened his present yet?"

"How'd you hear about it?" Shack asked Andy curiously.

"I arranged the tickets.  They are owner's box seats."

Shack's jaw dropped, and he turned to stare at Harry.  Nim, Remus, and Kelly were all also staring at him.

"What?" Harry asked, trying to look politely confused.

"You own the Puddlemere United quidditch team?"

"Only partly," Andy said, "but he's the biggest single investor."

"On that topic, how goes the purchasing effort?" Harry asked in an obvious effort to redirect the conversation.

Andy let him.  "Which one; the big one?"

"Yep."

"Getting there.  Late February, probably."

"What's this?" Remus asked.

Harry grinned at him in a manner that reminded him of James.  "You'll find out when it's done.  Nothing bad for us, I promise."

"Why doesn't that make me feel better?" Remus asked.


Harry,

Happy Christmas back to you.

Christmas here has been good.  Definitely better than last year's!

I hope you enjoy that book I gave you.  Let me know what Nim thinks of some of the suggestions.  As for who got it: it was me, of course.  Would I ever con one of my brothers into doing something like that?

On second thought, don't answer that question.

Thank you for the Marauder's Map!  Yes, I already knew what it was, so I didn't have to go to my twin brothers for any information.

That didn't stop them from realizing I had it, though.

I caught them in my room later.  The Map was on the floor (inactive), and they both had Snape's nose and greasy hair and were repeating in Snape's voice, "I stuck my abnormally large nose where it doesn't belong."  It wore off a few minutes later, which was fortunate as I was laughing too hard to go get Mum to cancel the spells.

I think they want to ask you and Professor Lupin how you two set the jinxes on the Map.  They were muttering about, "Professor Impersonator Peppermints," when they left.

Interesting to hear about your mother's opinion of Snape.  I can't imagine him ever trying to ask anyone out!

I know you did something to keep him reined in, Harry.  Whatever you did, it's worked wonderfully.  Gryffindor and Ravenclaw are running first and second in the house points, and it's been close all year.  Slytherin has barely stayed in the positive numbers.

I know this will come as a real surprise to you, Harry, but this has made Snape angry.

All sarcasm aside, it's starting to get scary.  No, let me start at the beginning.

He was reasonably calm for a while after school started.  Once he realized that pulling points didn't work, he just gave detentions instead.  But then that stopped working.  It was very strange.  I had one detention just after Halloween for talking in class (I wasn't, but that's about what I expect from him).  The thing is, when I went to the detention, the door to his classroom wasn't there.  It's like the castle wouldn't let me into the detention.  I found McGonagall and together we went back to where the door SHOULD have been.  Come to think of it, she didn't look all that surprised that it wasn't available.  Anyway, I sat with McGonagall for the next hour.  When Snape nearly hexed me the next morning during breakfast, McGonagall vouched for my whereabouts and the fact that his door wasn't visible.  Snape nearly popped a blood vessel at this.  It would have been funny if his expression toward me didn't make me fear for my safety, at least until it was clear the situation wasn't limited to me.  It was limited to him.

With his fangs apparently pulled, he was the target of a prank involving the locked cabinet behind his desk in the classroom becoming suddenly unlocked, an animated statue of a sheep, and someone's Ventriloquism Spell.  THOSE points and detentions (it was seventh year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws) stuck.

As you can imagine, Snape is in a consistently livid mood.  Some ministry potions brewer was in the castle for some reason back in early December and ended up getting on Snape's wrong side.  He escaped the castle with his arms removed from his body, his hair on fire, and three cobras chasing him.  Don't know what he did, but Snape sure looked pleased with himself later.

Other than avoiding a very grumpy potions master turned defense professor, Hogwarts has been relatively calm this year.

Of course, the articles over the past couple days may well change that . . .  I'll let you know.

Ginny


Letter to the Editor,

In a news article dated 26 December, you quoted Minister Cornelius Oswald Fudge as stating in regards to Death Eaters, "These people are too dangerous to try to hold in custody anywhere.  Harry Potter and I have discussed this, and we've agreed that they should be executed after they're captured."

This is an inaccurate synopsis of my words.

We did indeed discuss what to do with captured Death Eaters as the Ministry holding cells and Azkaban prison have both proven to be incapable of incarcerating the individuals in question.  I will not speculate here whether the root problem is inadequate funding or some other cause.  That question is best put before the investigative agents of Madam Bones of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

As I said, we discussed what to do with captured Death Eaters.  I suggested execution of re-captured Death Eaters after interrogation.

Let me repeat that in a different way.  It's multiple steps, so please bear with me for a moment.

First, someone must have been convicted of being a Death Eater.  Second, they must have been broken out of prison or escaped.  Third, they must be re-captured.  Fourth, I feel they should be interrogated for any and all strategic and tactically useful information they may have.  Then and only then do I feel execution by a humane method is a reasonable action.  If we continue to imprison them only for Voldemort to continue to release them, then we are not getting anywhere and merely endangering the lives of our brave auror forces as well as the general populace.

I do not advocate execution of Death Eaters upon first arrest.  I do not advocate execution of Death Eaters without first draining them dry of all useful information that can then be properly investigated and used in the continuing fight against the self-stylized Lord Voldemort (really Tom Riddle, Slytherin from  fifty years ago) and his merry band of psychotic terrorists.

I had thought at the time of my discussion with Minister Fudge that he understood what I was suggesting.  He seemed quite interested in my suggestion, especially after I had commented that this would also have the added benefit of silencing individuals such as Lucius Malfoy and any incriminating or embarrassing information he may hold in his head.

I did not then, nor do I now, speculate on what information Minister Fudge may have been afraid of letting out into the open media.

Apparently Minister Fudge did not properly remember the suggestions I gave him at the time.  I'm writing merely to put forth the intent of what I said, rather than the inaccurate way I was quoted.

Thank you for your time.

With a wide grin, Harry signed the parchment that Cissy had written up for him.  It was just the right mix of "correcting" and political attack.  He almost wished she could have worked in how Fudge was trying (ineptly) to take political and security advice from an underage wizard.  Unfortunately that would also make Amelia look bad, and that was something that Harry wanted to avoid.

"Now let's get this sent off to the Prophet," Harry said with quiet anticipation.

Harry heard a hoot.

He looked up to find Hedwig already standing on the perch in his study.  If he didn't know better, he would've sworn his owl was smirking at him.  Shaking such ridiculous notions out of his head, he sealed the parchment and tied it to Hedwig's leg.  After a few moments of attention, he gave her a boost out of the window.  She rapidly disappeared into the night sky.

Harry spent a moment just enjoying the quiet.  It wasn't often that he had a few minutes to simply listen to the silence.

His quiet moment was shattered by the chiming of his communication crystal.

"Who would be contacting me at this time of the night?" Harry muttered to himself.  "Accept," he said, tapping the crystal on top of his desk.  "Hello?"

Narcissa's voice, frantic and breathless, came through the item.  "Harry?  Draco just contacted me.  He's at the Leaky Cauldron, and he's under attack!"

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Author Notes:

Fudge's "misquoting" bunny of Harry courtesy of Cami.  The prank on Snape bunny (or is it a lamb?) from Finbar.  Snape's actions toward the ministry representative bunny is from Marie.

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