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Harry / Tonks ship

Author Notes:

Everyone's reactions to the cliffy were great fun to read.  The voting (for those who stated a clear preference) were six to three to sack him.  Many others were torn, seeing arguments for both sides.  Thanks to all who reviewed.

Last Chapter:

"After all of today's revelations, I must ask:  Do you feel that we should replace Headmaster Dumbledore?"


Several people drew in sharp breaths, but nobody said anything.

Harry sighed and shook his head.  "Headmaster Dumbledore has given me, in confidence, the reasons for many of his actions, including why he kept Snape on staff.  I do not agree with all of these decisions, but I understand his reasoning.  I feel that his heart is in the right place, though I believe he's trying to juggle too many conflicting responsibilities.

"Therefore, as far as his Headmaster position goes, I would suggest that he retain the job but only if he makes an oath to put the students' interests first when it comes to decisions that affect the school; Snape's employment over the past decade and a half being a case in point.  Until such time as this board feels he is doing this consistently, I would recommend that the Headmaster and the four Heads of Houses act as a council of sorts to discuss and vote upon all such matters."

Chairman Brown glanced at the other board members, getting nods in return.  He turned back forward.  "One addition: This council's tiebreaker vote goes to the Deputy Headmistress.  With this addition, your suggestions seem reasonable to the board, Lord Gryffindor.  Your thoughts, Headmaster?"

Dumbledore adopted a slightly depressed look.  "I am saddened that you feel that I have failed you in some way.  If it is the will of the school board that the senior professors keep an eye upon my decisions, then I will of course comply."

Harry frowned.  Manipulative old coot is trying to make us feel guilty for this.  We're imposing limits on him for his bad decisions and he's trying to make us feel bad about losing faith in him.

He is crafty.  Gotta give him that.

Brown's eyes narrowed the tiniest bit, but his voice was as calm as ever.  "Very well, then we are agreed on this."  He turned his head to the wizard who had had a Dictation Quill going the entire time.  "Robert, please send copies of the relevant portions of this transcript to the four Heads of Houses."  He turned back forward.  "Headmaster, the rest of your end of term report?"

"Other than the change in the point and detention structure and the highly public arrest of nine students, the rest of the first term was without significant incident.  With this board's consent last summer, I rehired Professor Horace Slughorn for Potions and moved Severus to Defense . . ."


After the board meeting broke up, Harry spoke briefly with each of the members as they all walked down the path from the castle toward Hogsmeade.  Once at the small town, each board member bid a polite farewell to the others and Apparated out. 

Harry turned toward the Three Broomsticks, having made plans to meet Remus there after the meeting. Humming cheerfully to himself, Harry pushed open the door and looked around.  Several dozen townspeople were having lunch, producing a comforting babble of background noise.  It wasn't a Hogsmeade visit day for the school, so no students were to be found. 

Harry joined Remus, Laura, and Kelly at a table.  "Hey, you two.  What're you doing here in town?" he asked curiously.

"Nice to see you, too, Harry," Kelly said with a grin.

Harry grinned sheepishly.  "Sorry.  Hi.  How're you and your lovely daughter doing this fine day?"

"We're fine, thank you for asking.  Since Kay is buried in essays,  Laura and I wanted to get out of the castle."

"How do you like castle life?  You've been there for . . . a couple weeks now?"

"It's great!" Laura chirped.  "The ghosts help me when I get lost.  Did you know that one of them can almost take his head off?"

Harry smiled at the girl.  "Sir Nicholas.  He's Gryffindor House's ghost.  I was a student last year, remember?" he gently reminded her.

She pouted.  "I forgot."  She leaned over and whispered to him loudly enough that people three tables over could still hear, "I don't like Peeves."

Harry 'whispered' back, "Me neither."

"How'd the board meeting go?" Remus asked, fighting his grin.

Harry frowned.  "Not too bad, I guess.  After hearing what a mess Dumbledore had made with Snape, they asked me if I thought he should remain in his position."

The two adults were silent for a long moment.  "How did you answer?" Kelly finally asked.

"I said we should pitch him out and make the Sorting Hat the Headmaster with Fawkes as the deputy."

Remus made a single snort-like sound of laughter before he grew quiet.

Kelly rolled her eyes.  "This is serious."

"I know, I know.  His heart's in the right place, but he has lost track of the important things about running the school somewhere along the way.  I asked him to give us an oath that he'd put the students' interests first when it came to school related issues.  The four Heads of Houses will keep an eye on him until the school board is convinced he's back on track."

Remus slowly nodded.  "A good answer, at least for now.  If nothing else, keeping Severus teaching proved that he wasn't thinking about the students' education first."

"That's basically what I said."

"You know, he well could have information that the rest of us don't that means the decisions he made really were in the school's best interests.  Not to mention that fighting Voldemort by just about any means is better than if he were -"

The conversation was interrupted when multiple people Portkeyed into the room with their wands out. 

The one appearing behind Remus immediately shouted, "Argentum Spiculum!"  From a distance of less than a meter, the Silver Spear Curse didn't have time to completely manifest before it pinned Remus to the table with a partially formed silver lance through his right shoulder.

Two more stood near their table, aiming wands at the back of Laura and Kelly's heads.

Harry saw more had appeared around the outer walls of the room, all facing inward and covering the crowd.

His wand had already appeared in his hand.  With the threat to Laura, Kelly, and Remus, he hesitated.  He was still assessing the wretched tactical situation when he felt a wand-tip touch the back of his head.

This one was the apparent leader as she shouted, "Nobody move!"

Harry breathed a silent prayer of relief.  They were not going to immediately start killing everyone, their usual pattern of behavior.  His hesitation had been the right move.  Except for this minor piece of good news, everything else was bad.  Their planning and information had been superb.  Nobody had had any time to really react.  Their positions were perfect.  The layout of the room and positioning of the invaders made any shielding of innocents impossible.

Nobody else in the Three Broomsticks had so much as moved.

After his initial howl of pain, Remus was reduced to quiet whimpering in between ragged breaths.  That was the only sound in the room for long seconds.

The one behind Harry spoke again.  "We're only here for Potter.  The Dark Lord wishes everyone to know that so long as the witches and wizards of Great Britain do not fight against him, he shall let you live.  So long as nobody does anything stupid here, we won't have to hurt you."

Everyone else remained silent.

"Potter, slowly, wand on the table and back away from the door."

Harry didn't move.  Instead he observed, "Ah, so Voldemort wants my wand as a trophy?  Not surprising, I guess.”  He shrugged

"If it's only me you want, let everyone else go," he suggested next.

"And you start cursing us the instant the last one is out the door?  Just how stupid do you think we are, Potter?" 

Harry decided not to answer that question.  Instead, he said, "Tell you what, if you let them go, I promise to hand over my wand."

"Harry, no!" Kelly objected.

The person behind her snarled, "Shut up, bitch!"  He smacked the side of her head hard enough to nearly topple her chair.

Kelly shook her head and blinked a few times.  Then she turned a scared look toward Harry.

"How do we know you'll keep your word?" the voice behind Harry asked.  He finally recognized it as Pansy Parkinson.  He had sent her to Azkaban at the beginning of the school year, but she was one of the many who had been broken out by Voldemort at Christmas.

Harry answered, "You know us Gryffindor hero types.  We always keep our word and are honorable to a fault."  While he sounded calm and collected, he was anything but.  He didn't like negotiating like this, but Remus had to get to a healer very soon if the werewolf was going to survive the day not to mention needing to get the noncombatants out of the building.

Pansy said, "Let this be a lesson to you all.  If you do not fight us, we will not harm you.  Everyone except this table, leave the building."

Nobody moved for a few seconds.  Then Madam Rosmerta walked over to a table containing an ancient witch.  She helped the older woman to her feet and said, "Come along, Margaret.  Let's get you out of here."

As the two of them slowly headed toward the door, a few more small groups stood and moved out.  Once the others saw that the two Death Eaters guarding the door were letting them go, more and more people headed that way.

The Three Broomsticks emptied rapidly.

Harry looked toward Laura, Kelly, and the still moaning Remus, then turned his head around to look at Pansy.  He tilted his head toward the three still at the table and raised an eyebrow.

"I have a Portkey from Dumbledore," Kelly announced.  "I can get the three of us out of here and Remus to the Hospital Wing."

"Yes," Pansy said thoughtfully.  "But first: Potter, put the wand down and walk over to the bar.  Then she can Portkey her daughter and the beast away."

Harry nodded agreement, slowly placed his wand on the table and stood, moving across the room so that his back was to the bar.  From where he was standing, he could see an even dozen deez.  Four at the table, two at the door, and the rest spread evenly around perimeter of the room.

"Harry?" Laura asked in a very scared voice.

"It'll be okay, Laura.  Trust me," Harry tried to soothe her.

One of the Death Eaters Vanished the silver spear that was pinning Remus to the table.  He shakily stood up, face flushed and eyes wide as his left arm cradled his right.

Harry could almost see the thought processes going through Moony's head.  "Don't do it, Remus," he ordered.  "They'll pay for what they've done.  You need to go with Kelly now."

Remus twitched but didn't object as Kelly laid a gentle hand on his arm.  Other hand on her daughter's head, Kelly triggered the Portkey.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief.  Now free from distractions, he sarcastically asked, "Showing his benevolent intentions, Tom is graciously allowing them to go free?"  He snorted derisively.  "More likely, he's got too many enemies now and is trying to keep the people from rising against him until it's too late."

Pansy answered in a brittle voice, "If My Lord wishes to let the sheep remain sheep, I will not question him."

"You mean you refuse to think for yourself.  Though I doubt he really wants you thinking."  Harry shrugged.  "No matter.  On to business: you can all save me trouble and surrender now."

Most of the deez laughed, some more forcefully than others.  The smallest figures did not laugh at all.

"Very bold statement for someone who is outnumbered twelve to one, Potter."

"You do realize that your half-blood master will eventually get you killed, don't you?" Harry asked conversationally.  He turned his head to the side where the two smallest hooded figures were standing.  Based on their size, he assumed they were still students.  "Did he warn you about the dementor attack?  If it'd worked, all the students would have been Kissed.  And you actually want to swear loyalty to someone who shows no loyalty toward his followers?" 

"Our Lord is loyal to us!" Pansy proclaimed.

"No he's not, Parkinson."  There was a minor stir as they realized that he recognized her despite the hood and mask.  "He rescued you from Azkaban because he was after Lucius Malfoy's money, not out of a sense of loyalty to you.  Tell me, now that Malfoy is broke, how well is he treated?  How are all of you treated?  Abject humiliation and Cruciatus Curses?  How much loyalty does that show toward you?"

"Shut up!" Parkinson screamed.  She leveled her wand.  "I'm going to enjoy this."

Harry's wand jumped off of the table and flew into his outstretched left hand.

Everyone gaped at him.

"How did you do that?  You swore to hand over your wand!" Pansy's voice was somewhere between confused and whining.

"And I did.  Is it my fault that you can't keep it?"  Harry glanced over toward the smaller figures again.  "Drop your wands, and I'll accept that as a surrender."

"Crucio!" Parkinson screamed.

At the first sound she made, Harry sank into his combat mindset: Occlumency techniques that enabled split concentration.

Harry Banished one of the heavy oaken tables toward Parkinson.  The Cruciatus Curse impacted the surface, leaving a smoking crater, but the large, heavy table continued to fly towards her.

"Perseco," Harry whispered, waving his arm in a broad gesture.  A bright blue, ribbon-like light came soaring out and toward all of the deez in a broadening arc.  Roughly half of them cast a shield, and most of the rest ducked.  The three who did neither learned that the spell was originally used as the magical equivalent of the guillotine.

Some of the deez who had ducked fired spells in retaliation as Harry raised his wand and cast a long duration shield spell that Godric had taught him.  He sidestepped the single Unforgivable, a Killing Curse.

A wave of his hand sent the bottles behind the bar flying toward the two deez near the door.  One raised a Barrier Shield, stopping the flying glass from hitting him.  The second cast a Blasting Curse, shattering half of the bottles in flight only to be sliced to ribbons by the flying shards he had unthinkingly produced.

Harry immediately followed with a flame spell, and the spilled alcohol caught fire.  The physical barrier spell did nothing to protect the remaining wizard at the door, and in seconds a third of the room was engulfed in flames.

As the billowing smoke provided a visual barrier as well as making it difficult to breath, Harry ducked behind the bar and cast a Bubblehead Charm on himself.  With spells flying randomly around the room, Harry shifted to Mage Sight and stunned several more deez before one of them thought to cast an Air Purification Spell.

When the air cleared, Harry was standing behind the bar, wand pointing to where he knew Pansy was cowering behind a ruined table and hand toward a pile of debris that he knew contained the two other surviving deez.  Pansy’s ragged voice ordered, "Attack him, you fools!"

"Last chance to surrender," Harry countered flatly.  The spells that had come from that corner with the smaller deez had been weaker than most, so Harry concluded they were students.  He had no desire to kill unMarked students.

Only a moment passed before two wands came sailing over the pile of debris.  Two deez slowly stood with hands in the air and masks off, revealing themselves to be fifth and seventh year Slytherin students.  "We surrender, Lord Gryffindor."

Pansy screeched for a moment before Harry saw the magical flare of a Portkey activation.

Harry looked toward the spot she'd just occupied before smirking.  A wave of his wand and a Messenger Spell flew off.  Tom, give Pansy my love.

Harry turned to the two students who were nervously looking at him.  He pointed at a bare spot on the floor and flatly ordered, "Sit."

They instantly moved to comply.

He bound them before turning to the still-burning fire and extinguishing it with a long Water Spell.

Only then did Harry check himself for injury.  Finding none, he took a deep breath, fractionally relaxing for the first time in what felt like a long time.

"Attention inside," a Sonorus-enhanced voice proclaimed from the street.  "Come out without your wands or we will come in after you."

Harry walked over, moved the charred and still dripping door out of his way and cautiously looked outside.  A half-dozen aurors were pointing wands at him.  "Come on in, guys.  The party's over."

He calmly walked back inside while the aurors hesitantly entered, looking around at all of the destruction.

"What happened?" one of them asked.

Harry cast a quick Scouring Charm and hopped up on the now-clean bar and recounted the story.  He finished by saying, "Careful, there are Portkeys on that one and that one," as he pointed to the older surviving Slytherin and one of the charred bodies.

The lead investigator looked over at the two aurors standing over the prisoners and simply raised an eyebrow.

"He's right, boss; this one has a Portkey.  Hmm, no Dark Marks on either of them."

One of the aurors magically checking the bodies confirmed the presence of the second Portkey.

The one standing beside the leader, younger looking than most, asked, "Sounds like you hit them hard and fast without giving them much of a chance."  It wasn't quite an accusation, but his attitude was clear.

One of the witches who was poking around turned and spoke in an accent that Harry could not place.  "A fight like this isn't a formalized duel, McGee.  The survivor is usually the one who hits first, hardest, and fastest.  Neatness and playing by the rules is for tournaments.  It has no place in real combat."

The one in charge, standing and silently studying Harry asked, "Could we have a Pensieve account of all of this?" he asked, waving a hand around to indicate the entire situation.

"I'll visit Amelia later this afternoon," Harry offered.

"That'll do."  The lead investigator looked around the room to see that all of his people were doing their jobs.  "Dual casting and some wandless?" he asked quietly.

Harry was a bit impressed that the older wizard had drawn those conclusions so quickly but only smiled in return.

The auror nodded fractionally.  "Thank you for your actions and your time, Mr. Potter.  Please see the Director to give that Pensieve account.  I'll owl you with any further questions or if I need you to come in."

Harry said, "You're quite welcome.  I'll go and see Director Bones straight away.  Good day."  He jumped down from the bar top, heading out the door.

Outside, he found Madam Rosmerta with tears tracks snaking down her face.  He went over and gently touched her shoulder.  "Are you okay?"

"Oh, yes, Lord Potter, I'm fine.  It's just  . . . my tavern . . ."

Harry thought about it for a moment.  "Dobby."

Dobby popped in.  "Yes, Master Ha-"  He cut off as he looked at the scene.  Turning back to Harry, he blinked a few times before resuming, "How can Dobby be helping Master Harry?"

"Please go to Hogwarts and find an elf who is willing to work outside of the castle temporarily and send that elf to me here.  Then please find out Remus's condition in the Infirmary and report back to me."

Dobby nodded and popped out without a word.

Harry pulled out his communication crystal and called Nim, giving her a report on the situation when she answered.  Hearing that he was fine calmed her considerably after hearing that a fight had occurred.  She promised to go to Hogwarts, inform Kingsley if Kelly hadn't by then, and then come to guard him.  It took Harry several minutes to convince her to sit vigil with Remus while Harry took care of business at the Ministry.

When Harry finally put his crystal away, he found a small, young elf standing patiently at his side.  "Dobby is telling Sherry that Master-Lord Gryffydor be needing her?"

"Yes.  Could you please work with Madam Rosmerta here until The Three Broomsticks is cleaned, repaired, and open for business again?"

Sherry looked unsure.  "Will Sherry still be being a Hogwarts house-elf?"

"Yes.  You are just helping out here temporarily.  I'm not going to ask you to move and leave the castle and your friends."

The little elf nodded happily.  "Sherry can be doing that."

Madam Rosmerta, who had been listening, objected, "Lord Potter, you don't have to -"

Harry gently cut her off.  "I don't have to, but I want to.  It was because of me that your place got damaged and much of your stock was destroyed.  That reminds me: bill me to replace what I sent up in flames."

Madam Rosmerta gaped, mouth opening and closing several times before she finally collected herself.  "You don't have to do that, but if you insist, My Lord."

"I do, and I'm still 'Harry', right?" he quirked a grin at the witch who had received innumerable student crushes over the years.

Though her eyes were still red, she laughed.  "You rogue!  Just like your father and godfather, you are.  Fine, I accept the help, but only if you come back sometime and let me thank you properly."

Harry smiled her and then turned.  "Thank you for the help, Sherry."

The little elf simply curtsied before turning to Madam Rosmerta.  "What does Madam Rosma wish Sherry to be doing?"

Dobby popped back in, distracting Harry from the conversation.  After a quick, shy glance at Sherry, Dobby turned to Harry.  "Master Harry, Madam Healer told Dobby that Master Remus is very ill but will not be dying.  She is saying that the silver burns will be taking weeks to be getting back to normal."

Harry let out an explosive breath and felt the band constricting his heart loosen up.  "Thank you, Dobby.  That is very good news.  Please return to the Keep and inform everyone still there what happened.  I need to go to the Ministry for a while then I'll be at the Infirmary."


Amelia looked up from the paperwork on her desk when Harry entered.  "Hi, Harry.  I already heard some of what happened from Auror Gibbs.  How's Remus?"

"He'll survive, I've been told.  The silver burns will take weeks to heal, though."

"Thank Merlin he'll be okay.

"So, what brings you here?" she asked, leaning back in her chair.

"The senior investigator - Gibbs, you said? - asked me to show you a Pensieve memory of the fight."

She nodded and pulled one from her hidden wall vault.  Harry deposited the memory, starting from when the Portkeys brought the deez in and lasting until the aurors came into the tavern.  She immediately viewed it.

Harry spent the time practicing an Occlumency meditation. 

When the Head of Magical Law Enforcement came back out a few minutes later, she rubbed her eyes.  "Students.  He's recruiting bloody students again."  She sighed and leaned back in her chair as Harry put the memory back into his head.  "The last student trials were difficult enough," she said softly.

"They aren't Marked," Harry pointed out.  "I remember the aurors saying that.  Besides, the ward I put up last summer would've triggered if they were."

She sighed again.  "What was the Messenger Spell you did?"

He waved it off.  "Taunting Voldemort.  Nothing important."

She barked out a laugh.  "Only you could call taunting him 'nothing important'."

Harry smirked but did not verbally respond.

She peered at him.  "Seriously, how're you doing?"

"Honestly?  So far, I'm okay.  I'll probably fall to pieces tonight, but for the moment I'm holding it together."

She said, "The books don't suggest it, but you may want to have Tonks with you tonight.  She knows what to look for and can . . . help you through some of the issues."

Harry smiled softly.  "Thank you for the recommendation, Madam Bones.  I'd already planned on asking her to be . . . nearby."

She nodded once and changed the subject.  "Based on what I just saw, you won't be in any legal trouble.  You're probably going to get some bounty pay, depending on who all was caught, in fact."

Harry shrugged.  "Whatever.  Not like I need it."

"Probably true, but it makes the citizens feel better to see bounties being paid for catching escaped deez."

He grimaced.  "I hate the attention, but you're right, of course."

Harry thought for a moment and then began to wave his hand around the room and cast several anti-eavesdropping spells.  Amelia watched him in silence.  Once the room was as secure as he could make it, he asked, "Could I make a request?"

"I'm listening," she said noncommitally but with a tilt to her head that hinted toward curiosity.

"Could you dig Voldemort's location out of Pettigrew's brain if you haven't already and get it to me discreetly?"

After a moment of silence, she asked, "Any particular reason why?"

"You know enough about me to know the answer to that, Amelia.  Or at least you suspect it."

"That whole 'Chosen One' thing?"

Grimacing at the nickname, he nodded.

She frowned.  "I don't suppose I could talk you out of doing something foolish, could I?"

Harry took a long time before softly answering, "Every day that he's free, more innocents are hurt or killed.  I've been trying to run from that fact while I’ve been training, but today shoved it in my face.  We were lucky.  Only Remus was hurt, and he'll heal.  How many will die in tomorrow's raid?  How many more students will be “recruited” by Voldemort and their lives destroyed?"

She closed her eyes and sighed sadly.  "Are you sure you're ready for this, Harry?"

"As ready as I'm going to get, Amelia," he stated calmly.

She seemed to accept him at his word.  "I'll owl you to come back in once I have some relevant information, Lord-Baron," she promised, straightening in her chair.

Harry stood and bowed respectfully.  "Thank you for your time, Madam."  He left quietly, heading toward Hogwarts and his wounded friend.


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