Scion of Gryffindor
37 - Nim's Birthday
Harry / Tonks ship
I feel that I must apologize to you.
I had no idea that your detentions with Professor Umbridge were anything of the sort that was just revealed by the Daily Prophet. Had I known, rest assured that I would have done something about the situation, my boy.
In the end, however, it seems that things have worked out satisfactorily.
I have some other news for you, as well. While it does not pertain directly to you or Voldemort, there is nonetheless some information that I feel you need to have.
Considering all the attacks you have been launching against Cornelius, his popularity has been taking a severe beating. I fear that he may soon face a vote of no-confidence from the Wizengamot, of which you are a part. I would strongly suggest you familiarize yourself with the rules and procedures for the case of a vote of this sort, because I feel that such an event is soon to be upon us.
Feel free to come to use the Hogwarts library or see me with any questions you may have on this or any other topic, Harry.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Order of Merlin, First Class
Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot
Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards
"Can I cast a Fidelius Charm on my first name?"
Godric looked at the fuming Harry in confusion. "Uh . . . technically, I suppose it's possible. Why?"
"Dumbledore seems incapable of NOT using it," Harry spat, handing the letter over. "Despite my asking him to. Repeatedly."
Godric blinked at the venom in his descendant's words before reading the parchment silently. "Hmm, modest as always, aren't you Albus? Used most of your impressive titles and everything." He looked up again at Harry. "To answer your question, yes it's possible. But it's probably more trouble than it's worth."
Harry grumbled about that but didn't argue any further.
"There is some good information in here," Godric pointed out, re-reading the letter.
"Yeah, the no-confidence vote thing." Harry sighed. "Something else for me to look up and worry about."
Haven't heard from you for a bit, so I thought I'd drop a note.
Well, that and the Prophet just ran a story on how you put Umbitch in prison. Is what the paper said true? You presented evidence against her, accused the Minister of trying to bribe the barrister, and single-handedly convinced the judges that Toad-Woman deserves Azkaban?
I agree, mind you. I was there, after all, when the Inquisitorial Squad was holding us by her order.
No matter how much of it's true, you're the new hero here at the school.
Anyway, some news from your castle.
Yes, I said yours. I've been thinking, and between your messing with the rules about points and detentions, the costumes we all wore at Halloween, and the fact that you were wearing Gryffindor's sword when you showed up at the start of term (very hot look, incidentally), I have come to the conclusion that you're Gryffindor's heir. I haven't shared this theory with anyone else, but I wouldn't be surprised if several others, Hermione included, have reached the same conclusion.
Hermione. You may have noticed that she was sitting at the Ravenclaw table when you visited to give the Headmaster the news about Draco
Mal Black. She is, in fact,
dating one of the Ravenclaws. Kevin Entwhistle, I think. Not a big thing, but they're not making it a secret. She seems happy with him, and she's definitely easier to get along with
when we're all in the common room.
Just in case you're interested, my git of a brother is still trying to date Lavender Brown, but rumor has it that she's going to dump him soon. She cooled down the relationship after the hols and was very much NOT impressed with what he said the other day when you were here.
By the way, I'd like to thank you for that. I've gained a bit of notoriety. Not only did I apparently prevent a blood feud between the Blacks and Weasleys (you weren't really going to do anything serious, were you?), the fact that I was the only student you really spoke with has done wonders for me socially. I expect that they're all after me just because they think I have your ear, but in the meantime all of the attention is fun. Before you get concerned, big, not-quite brother, I'm going to be very choosy on who I date.
Because I know you're going to want to know, Draco's death hasn't actually had much effect around here on most of us. He'd been laying low all year, so it isn't much different now. The most affected ones were the little Death Nibblers (I have no idea who came up with the name, but it's stuck) who're either bummed that their former leader is gone or happy that the "traitorous Malfoy is dead." That's a direct quote from Bulstrode, by the way. The other one affected is Daphne Greengrass. I don't know what the thing is, but she's been even more quiet than she was in the past. Do you know if there was something going on between them?
In case you decide to visit anytime soon, I'd better give you a warning. Between the look and sheer presence you had when you visited and what you just did to Umbridge, I think just about every girl over third year (and a few of the guys) want to jump your bones.
Which brings us to Tonks. Harry, those of us who know you (and are being honest about it) feel that she's good for you. You seem happier, more relaxed. Hermione and I both feel that this is a good thing. The rest of the female population of Hogwarts, though . . . Well, as I said, I'm giving you a friendly warning.
You asked about Luna and Neville. They're here, and they're doing fine. Just yesterday she was trying to talk him into learning Mongolian for some reason. Other than that, they're both their usual selves.
I want to thank you again for the Marauder's Map. It's been a lot of fun. Learning about some peoples' habits (for instance, Cho Chang visits some unused classroom on the fourth floor every Thursday evening). One thing I noticed yesterday morning was Dumbledore walking out of McGonagall's quarters. This wouldn't be so strange except I'd awakened at five and just checked the map on a whim. Do you think there's something going on there?
So, what do you have planned for Valentine's? Fred and George have made some noises about setting up a booth in the courtyard that day and introducing their newest line of wheezes. I'm too scared to ask.
Take it easy, and be good.
Harry saw the magic shift slightly as Nim woke up and almost subconsciously morphed her image. He knew she wasn't fond of her base form and was more comfortable when she was wearing one of her masks, so he didn't argue the point. He'd seen her natural form like he wanted and wasn't going to complain if she used her skills to put herself into a form that was more comfortable for her.
"Hmm," she groaned out as Harry's hands continued their work on her bare form. "You can keep that up forever."
He chuckled. "Forever? You'd eventually get sore, wouldn't you?"
"I don't care. Ooooh, yeah. Right there," she moaned, arching her back a little.
He smacked her lightly. "Hold still, you. This is a very delicate operation." He returned his concentration to what he was doing.
"As long as you keep that up, I'll do anything you ask."
"Anything?" he asked with a smirk, using his thumbs to great effect if her continued moans were any indication.
"Anything, lover boy," she confirmed.
"Hmm. I'll have to give that some thought. Meanwhile," his hands came off of her back, "it's time for the birthday girl to get her lazy but cute arse out of bed and ready for the day."
She made a pouting noise but obediently got out of bed, wiggling her cute arse as she walked into the bathroom.
"Wench!" Harry groaned out through a chuckle.
"Happy birthday," everyone else chorused as Nim came into the dining room.
She smiled shyly around. "Thanks."
"So has Harry given you a gift yet this morning?" Remus asked blandly but with a sparkle in his eyes.
She refused to rise to the bait. "He did, in fact. Quite an enjoyable gift, too," she said calmly as she slipped into the seat the red-faced Harry was holding for her.
Ted Tonks started coughing violently.
Andy reached over and patted him on the back as she addressed her daughter, "That's nice to hear, dear. I'm glad to hear that he's treating you well."
His breathing under control again, Ted looked at his wife incredulously. "Um, dear, you DO realize that they're implying -"
She interrupted, "Ted, I love you dearly, but you need to realize that she isn't your little girl any longer. She's an adult, and anything they might be doing or not doing isn't any of our business any longer."
He sighed and nodded. "Sorry, Cami," he said to Nim, "but you'll always be my baby girl."
She smiled at him. "I know, Dad. Please, just remember that I'm not that little girl anymore."
"I know. You grew up somewhere along the line." He smiled. "Stop it."
Harry said, "I'm tempted to say that I appreciate how she's growing up, but I won't. It'll just give Moony too much ammunition against me."
Remus, grinning slightly, opened his mouth, but Andy interrupted him. "Instead of pursuing that," she said with a quelling look to the werewolf, "I have a gift for my daughter."
Everyone looked at her a little strangely. They'd agreed the previous day to wait until after the evening meal before giving Tonks her gifts.
Ignoring the looks, Andy turned to Harry. "It's done."
"What's done?" he asked, blankly. A moment later, his eyes lit in recognition. "It is? I thought it wouldn't be done until later this month?"
Andy shrugged. "So did I. Turns out I was wrong."
Nim was looking back and forth from her mother to boyfriend. "What are you two talking about?"
Harry was visibly excited. "Finish your breakfast, Nim. I have an errand to run in Diagon Alley before we celebrate your birthday. I think you want to be along for the errand. Trust me, you'll enjoy it."
Andy nodded, smiling at her daughter. Nim thought the smile had a vicious edge to it, but she wasn't sure.
"Where to first?" Remus asked after the three apparated to Diagon Alley.
"Gringotts," Harry answered, already heading that way. "Snargtooth has some paperwork for me."
It was a matter of only minutes until they were safely in the goblin's office. "What may I do for you this day, Lord-Baron?"
Harry looked at the goblin in resignation. "How many times must I ask you to call me Harry?"
A smile flickered at the edges of Snargtooth's mouth. "I do appreciate what you are trying to do, Lord-Baron, but I am afraid that it is simply out of the question. While doing business with or for a wizard that we respect, all goblins will refer to you by your title."
"Give up, Harry," Remus advised. "He's not trying to be difficult, it's simply the goblins' way."
"Fine, fine," Harry said, holding up a hand in surrender. "Snargtooth, Andy tells me that you have some paperwork for me."
Wordlessly, Snargtooth pulled a rolled-up scroll from a desk drawer and handed it over. He gave Harry a toothy smile which Harry returned.
"Thank you," Harry said. "While I'm here, is there anything further we need to discuss?"
Snargtooth produced a handful of other parchments. "Simply a few signatures, Lord-Baron. Purchases and funds transfers authorized by your business manager and such matters."
Harry glanced at the sheets only briefly before signing each with the offered quill. Standing, he said, "Have a profitable day, Snargtooth."
"And you, Lord-Baron Potter-Black. Mr. Lupin. Lady Black."
Nim stopped on her way out the door. She flicked a glance at Harry before looking back at the goblin. "I'm sorry, what did you call me?"
"Lady Black. You are a lady, and you are of the House of Black, are you not?" Snargtooth asked innocently.
She rolled her eyes and left the room. Harry managed to wink at the goblin behind her back before he followed his irate girlfriend.
"Was that goblin teasing me?" Tonks demanded quietly.
"Yes," Remus answered around a grin. Ignoring the growling metamorphmagus, he turned to Harry. "Where to now?"
Harry grinned, eyes twinkling. "It's a surprise." He went down the front steps of Gringotts bank and looked around. "I know it's around here somewhere," he muttered. Finally spotting his target, he said, "Ah, there it is." He marched across the small square at the center of Diagon Alley, his two confused bodyguards trailing in his wake.
When Harry entered the business office of the Daily Prophet, Tonks turned to Remus with a questioning look. He just shrugged in response.
Harry smiled at the young witch at the front counter. "Yes, Mr. Potter?" she asked, unaffected by his notoriety.
"May I speak with the senior editor, please?" Harry asked politely.
"Mr. Cuffe is a very busy man," the receptionist returned immediately with a superior tone. She turned back to what she had been doing, dismissing Harry.
Harry found himself somewhat impressed. Nobody had ignored him so impressively since his return to the wizarding world. "Hmm. Perhaps you're right," Harry allowed after a few seconds of thought. "How about Rita Skeeter?"
The witch behind the desk now looked wary. "I'm afraid, sir, that I am not allowed to let walk-ins speak with senior editors OR senior reporters." Her snobbish tone from before had been replaced. Now it was equal parts defensive, apologetic, and scared.
Harry thought about that for a few seconds, surprised at such a vastly different reaction to his requests. He'd think she'd be more awed by the senior editor than a reporter. Unless . . .
"She's threatened you somehow, hasn't she?" Harry asked quietly.
Tonks glanced at Harry in pride and a little surprise.
The receptionist looked startled for a half-moment before settling back down to a professionally blank mask. Harry's fledgling Legilimency skills had shouted out her answer as clearly as if she'd spoken it aloud.
Harry nodded. "Okay, I'm going to send her a note and then wait for her here. Thank you," he glanced at the name tag on the desk, "Cathy."
Without further ado, Harry waved a hand and conjured a piece of parchment.
"Show off," Remus teased.
He smiled at Cathy and asked to borrow a quill. Wide-eyed, she gave him the one in her hand. After scribbling a quick note, Harry returned the quill and turned to Nim. "How do I turn this into the kind of paper airplane I saw flying around the ministry?"
Tonks waved her wand over the page, muttering under her breath. The short note Harry wrote to Rita folded itself up and flew out the back door of the room.
Harry, Tonks, and Remus retreated to the seating area.
They had barely seated themselves before Rita Skeeter burst into the otherwise empty room. "Harry, darling! So good to see you again. Thank you ever so much for coming to see little old me. This must be Nymphadora Tonks! I can see why you are dating her, Harry. Quite a woman. And you are Remus Lupin, I believe. Charmed to meet you." She turned back to Harry, still wearing her syrupy sweet smile. "Tell me, what can I do to help the Boy Who Lived?"
Harry's first few dozen suggestions died before they were spoken. As satisfying as voicing some of them may have been, it wouldn't help. "I'd like to speak with the senior editor, and I was wondering if you could get us in to see him."
Rita's face fell just a little bit.
"You, of course, are welcome to sit in on our discussion. In fact, I will insist on it," Harry said.
"I can get you in, Harry, but may I ask what it is about?"
Harry smiled conspiratorially. "Not here. This is something only you and the senior editor of this paper need to hear about."
A bright light formed itself in Rita's eye. She stood and walked past the desk, not even slowing as she fired a smirk at Cathy. She led Harry, Remus, and Tonks down two hallways before knocking on a door that had a simple nameplate, B. Cuffe.
"Enter!" a gruff voice called.
Rita entered the room. "Barney! How are you doing?"
The overweight, middle-aged man seated behind a cluttered desk sighed. "Rita, for the last bleedin' time, my name is Barnabas, not Barney." His eyes slid to Harry and widened slightly. He quickly stood and offered his hand. "Lord-Baron Potter. What can the Daily Prophet do for you?"
After shaking the man's hand, Harry turned his head. "Remus, could you seal the room, please?" While the very confused werewolf was doing that, Harry waved Rita to a seat and took the last guest chair.
Rita took out her acid green quill and a sheet of parchment, a gleam of excitement in her eyes.
Harry gave her a cold look. "Put that away before I blast it through the wall," he commanded flatly.
Rita looked shocked and turned to Cuffe.
The editor looked uncomfortable. "Mr. Potter, I'm allowing this unannounced meeting simply because of who you are. Please do not order us around. When it comes down to it, you have no authority here."
A slow smile formed over Harry's face. It was not a cheerful smile; it was instead the smile of a predator that had cornered his lunch.
A look of dawning comprehension formed on Tonks and Remus's faces.
"You didn't?" Remus asked, impressed.
"Andy did," Harry confirmed.
"You are going to get a VERY thorough thank you when we get home," Nim announced.
"What are you people talking about?" Rita demanded, clearly irate.
Nim looked at Harry, a question clear in her expression.
Harry waved in invitation. "Happy Birthday, dear," he said with a grin.
"Petrificus Totalus," Nim said cheerfully. Rita froze in position. Nim waved her wand again, and an opaque, soundproof Privacy Sphere formed around the two.
Harry turned a smirk to the now-scared editor. He placed the scroll he'd been carrying onto the desk. "I suggest you read this, Mr. Cuffe."
The man hesitantly leaned forward and took the page. It took him less than a minute to read the contents. He blinked hard and stared up at Harry before looking down and reading the parchment again. Licking his lips nervously, he glanced at the Privacy Sphere before turning his full attention to Harry. "This is . . . unexpected, sir. With the Gringotts seal, it has to be true. Therefore, you're now the majority stockholder in the Daily Prophet. What happens now?"
"Rita is being fired," Harry stated flatly. "You will carry a high-profile story on it. The reason is her gross journalistic misconduct. I will work with a writer of our mutual agreement to tell the stories of what Rita's done wrong as it affects me. As much fun as you've had smearing my reputation, you know that muckraking DOES sell papers. We'll see if the same can be said about a reporter's reputation.
"Generally, I don't plan on taking a very active role in the day to day operation, here. I WILL step in if you get out of hand, though. Therefore, there are a few ground rules. These damn Quick-Quote Quills are absolutely off limits for all reporters. Using a Transcription Quill is fine.
"In the future, you will confirm any information you print." Harry raised his hand to Cuffe's impending objection. "I realize that you also have to report things that cannot be confirmed, but there are a few rules on what I consider acceptable behavior. Do NOT report something as fact unless it can be confirmed by at least two UNBIASED sources. If something is given to a reporter by only one source, state that it's unconfirmed or a rumor. Reporters should be reporting FACTS, not opinions. If they want to give opinions, they can write a second article for the editorial page. I'm going to start holding the individual reporters responsible for the libel they write. I understand that sometimes your sources are wrong, but if you and they can prove they tried to get to the truth, they'll be fine so long as a retraction and a correction is printed."
Pale and perspiring, Cuffe chewed his lip in thought. "I understand, sir. You do realize that this will adversely affect the value of our stock?"
Harry glared. "If you're worried more about making money than being truthful and honest, then you'll be replaced very, VERY rapidly."
Cuffe audibly gulped. "I was not trying to talk you out of your suggested course of action, sir," he said in a quavering voice.
Harry didn't quite believe the words but decided not to pursue the issue. "Of course not. Now, call in a reporter that you think can write this story with as little sensationalism as possible."
A minute later, Remus brought down the privacy wards to let in a young woman just barely older than Harry.
She stopped short at entering the scene. Her senior editor looked like he was about to have a heart attack, a Privacy Sphere was taking up a quarter of the room, one of her old Defense professors was standing there looking highly amused, and Harry Potter was looking at her in surprise.
"Samantha," Cuffe called, getting her attention. "I believe you know everyone here?"
The girl nodded, confusion written all over her face.
"Lord-Baron Potter just bought a controlling interest in the Daily Prophet," Cuffe announced to her mounting shock. "He's going to give you a story about Rita's," he waved vaguely at the opaque sphere, "misconduct. It'll be printed on the second page, day after tomorrow."
He turned to Harry. "For something like this that isn't earth-shattering, it's too late for tomorrow's paper." He held his breath, worried that his new boss would begin making unreasonable demands.
Harry nodded and turned to the woman. "Samantha Firthquill, isn't it? Hufflepuff keeper?"
She smiled shyly. "I'm surprised you remembered, Lord-Baron."
Harry rolled his eyes. "It's Harry. Now, it'll probably be more than one day until you can print this anyway." He turned to the editor. "It all needs to be confirmed, right? After all, I am a VERY biased source." He smiled at Cuffe's look of confusion. "I'm not going to demand preferential treatment. I'll probably do something wrong or stupid eventually, and you'll report that. So long as all the reporting stays honest, we won't have a problem."
Exhaling loudly, Cuffe mopped his sweaty forehead. "Understood."
Harry frowned in thought. Cuffe and Samantha looked worriedly on.
The Privacy Sphere came down, revealing a very angry yet resigned looking Rita. She had apparently been released from her paralysis but was silenced and magically stuck to the chair. A very chipper and happy-looking Tonks put her wand away. Seeing Harry's expression, she turned to Remus. "What'd I miss?"
"Dunno. That's his 'I'm about to have a wild idea' look."
Cuffe gulped again.
"Nim, please go to Amelia. Ask her, politely, if she can spare a few aurors."
"Will do." She tilted her head and grinned. "Are we gonna be checking forearms?"
At Harry's nod, she nodded back and apparated out of the room with a truly scary grin in place.
Harry turned to Cuffe. "Is there any other way out of the building other than the front door?"
Confused, he nodded. "Back door. Left out of this office, right at the second hallway, all the way at the end."
Without prompting, Remus said, "I've got it covered." He left the room.
"What's going on?" Samantha asked in confusion.
Harry suddenly had his wand in his hand. "Mr. Cuffe, Samantha, slowly, please raise the sleeve on your left arm."
Still confused, Samantha did as requested. Grumbling, Cuffe did the same. Neither were marked. Harry stood and pulled Rita's sleeve up. She wasn't marked, either.
"What's going on?" Samantha repeated her earlier question, this time with more emphasis.
Cuffe answered, "Rumor has it that all of the Death Eaters have a tattoo of some kind. Presumably, he's checking that we aren't followers of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
"Another rule," Harry announced. "Either call him Voldemort or Tom Riddle. You're just adding to the irrational fear by not using his name. It's what he wants you to do."
Harry raised his wand and mumbled a very long incantation. A yellow burst of light emerged from his wand. Another long spell and a blue light came out. Nodding in satisfaction, he said, "Apparition and portkey wards are up. I'll take them down after everyone in the building has been checked." He turned to Cuffe. "I presume you have a break room or meeting room of some kind. Please have everyone in the building assemble there. It'll speed up the aurors checking everyone and so we can let you get back to work faster." He fixed the editor with an intense look. "If I hear that you tried to warn anyone about what's about to happen, you won't live to regret it," he threatened flatly.
Cuffe nodded and bolted for the door, personally convinced that the man he was leaving behind could scare a basilisk with that stare of his.
Harry waved his wand at Rita's chair and floated it into the air. "Samantha, could you please grab a couple quills and parchment? I'll meet you in the lobby, and we can start going over the information I can give you about Rita's serious lack of honesty."
Samantha's smile had a wicked edge to it as she looked at Rita. Giving Harry a quick nod, she also left.
Harry, with Rita and her chair floating along behind him, entered the lobby less than a minute later. He waved his wand and set Rita down with a hard thump near the seating area.
Cathy looked on with wide eyes. "Um . . ." she said, clearly not knowing how to react to the strange sight.
"Cathy, I'm sorry about earlier," Harry said to the flustered girl. "I wasn't trying to imply you couldn't keep secrets. I was just trying to get Rita here to take me to see Mr. Cuffe."
"Okay," she said with a frown.
"Why don't you come on over here and have a seat? Samantha Firthquill is going to interview me about this sorry excuse for a reporter. I expect you'll enjoy some of what you hear." He paused for a moment. "And you may have some things to add."
As Cathy was cautiously crossing the room, the front door opened and Amelia Bones entered, followed by six aurors and lastly Tonks.
"Director Bones," Cathy squeaked, nearly snapping to attention.
Amelia looked at her in amusement. "I see Harry's antics have captured you, too, young lady." She turned to Harry. "What's up, Harry? Tonks said something about a quick sweep to find Death Eaters?"
Harry pointed his wand at the door behind her. "Colloportus. Yep. I suggest your aurors go to the break room or meeting room or whatever they have back there. I strongly suspect that Senior Editor Cuffe will cooperate with letting you check everyone for Dark Marks."
She frowned. "Won't the majority owners, whoever they are, object?"
Harry grinned, eyes sparkling. "No, I won't."
She laughed. Cathy and the aurors all blinked in surprise. Tonks smirked as she took a seat next to Harry.
Amelia turned to her aurors. "Secure the employee meeting area. Sweep the rest of the building, then start checking everyone for a Dark Mark. If anyone has one, stun them immediately and then bring them here."
"Remus Lupin is guarding the back door," Harry mentioned.
Amelia nodded. "Exclude Remus from your sweep. Check his arm if you must, but he can hold the rear exit while you're all busy. I'll be here with Harry. Report developments as needed."
The senior auror saluted just as Samantha entered the room. She stopped in shock at who was facing her.
"Samantha, Cathy, please raise your left sleeves," Harry called as he calmly raised his own sleeve. To the auror, he said, "I asked them to come here. Please let them stay up here with Amelia and I as you do your sweep."
The man looked at Amelia.
At her nod, the man started politely but firmly checking the arms of every non-auror in the room.
"You certainly know how to give unique birthday gifts, Harry," Tonks whispered to Harry as she rolled up her own sleeve.
He chuckled but didn't answer.
When the group of aurors had left to carry out their orders, Harry waved a hand at the empty chairs in invitation. Highly amused, Amelia sat down. More hesitantly, Cathy and Samantha also took seats.
"Let me tell you what I know about Rita Skeeter," Harry said to the assembled witches. His smile did not bode well for the silent, bound reporter.
Use of Fidelius on Harry's name bunny from Ronnie McMains. Finbar asked what happened to Luna, so that pseudo-bunny is credited to him. The Dumbledore/McGonagall thing is for Dale, who has been bugging me for months about the possibility.