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Defying the Odds

Chapter Text

Halloween, 1981

Sirius sighed again, finally prompting Marlene to elbow him. “Alright, what’s wrong?” she demanded. This Halloween date was supposed to be a chance for them to cuddle on her sofa and hand out candy to the occasional child who knocked, but Sirius had been acting like a wet blanket the entire evening.

The slight wrinkle between Sirius’s eyes became a full-fledged frown. “I was thinking about Harry,” he confessed. “This would have been his first real Halloween; doing the whole trick or treating thing.”

“We went out last year,” Marlene pointed out. The whole group of them - James and Lily, Frank and Alice, Sirius and Marlene, and her brother Mattie and his wife Ellen - had taken out Harry, Neville, Marius, and Melody trick or treating. Marlene’s niece and nephew were only a few months older than Harry and Neville, so it had been the first Halloween for all four children. They’d gone to a muggle neighborhood that Lily knew of, but no one in the wizarding world would connect to them. Dumbledore had protested that it wasn’t safe, with the war and all, but James and Sirius had insisted, and really, with four aurors and two unspeakables along, they were the best-protected children out that night.

“They weren’t even awake most of the night,” Sirius complained. “This year would be their first time to actually toddle around and eat the candy and everything!”

Marlene resisted the urge to laugh. Her boyfriend was like a big kid sometimes, but especially where his godson was concerned. He wanted Harry to have every childhood experience possible, despite the war. His love for the Potters was one of the reasons Marlene loved him - she just knew he would be an excellent father one day. A bit wild, sure, but also the most caring and protective.

In fact, it was Sirius’s love of the Potters that had saved Marlene’s life, and the life of her brother and his family. If they hadn’t been at the Potter Manor in July, celebrating an early birthday party for Harry and Neville before the families went into hiding, she and Mattie would have been home when Death Eaters attacked. As it was, their parents and two younger siblings had been killed, but it was a miracle that Marlene, Mattie, Ellen, and the younger twins were alive.

“I thought you said it was too dangerous this year, with Voldemort actively hunting Harry and Neville,” Marlene pointed out. It had been the reason for the early party, and the fact that both families had gone under the fidelius charm.

“I know, I know,” Sirius sighed. “But I could still wish, right? With them tucked away at the cottage, and no visitors, it just breaks my heart to think of Harry forgetting-”

“Did you say cottage?” Marlene interrupted, an image popping into her head that shouldn’t be there. “Where are the Potters?” she demanded.

Sirius’s eyes widened. “The Potter Cottage in Godric’s Hollow!” he replied. “I shouldn’t-”

“I don’t know the secret!” Marlene replied at the same time. “Did the fidelius fail?”

Sirius shook his head, even as he slipped Marlene off his lap and began searching for his shoes. “No, Dumbledore himself cast it. The only way for me to be able to tell you is if it didn’t exist. Where are my damn boots?”

Accio boots,” Marlene cast, trying to remain calm. “Accio cloak. Accio Sirius’s motorcycle.” By the time Sirius had managed to pull his boots on, Marlene had the cloak wrapped around him and the shrunken bike in his hand.

“The Floo at the cottage is probably still disabled,” she explained, “If you can’t apparate nearby, you’ll need this.”

“Floo the aurors,” Sirius replied, “I’ll need back up. And call Augusta too; this could also be happening to Frank and Alice.” Then he gave her a quick kiss before apparating away.

Marlene rushed to the fireplace, where a cozy, romantic fire had been crackling. An excessive handful of floo powder turned it into a rushing green inferno. “Aurors,” she called out.

A moment later, a face appeared in the fire, and Marlene signed in relief at seeing a fellow member of the Order. He would understand the significance of the Potters’ location being revealed. “Moody! Sirius thinks the fidelius has fallen around the Potters,” she said without preamble. “He remembered their location and was able to tell me. He’s gone to Godric’s Hollow to help, but he and James will need backup.”

“I’m on it, Lassie,” the Senior Auror replied.

“Send someone to check on the Longbottoms too,” Marlene said before he could pull out of the fire. “It might be a double-pronged attack.” Voldemort had started doing that this past summer; attacking multiple targets at once to spread the Aurors thin. Sirius had complained about it often, and it was what had happened when Death Eaters had attacked Marlene’s brother’s house and parents’ manor in the same day.

“Got it,” Moody growled. A second later he disappeared from the fire, and the flames resumed their normal color.

Without hesitation, Marlene threw another dash of floo powder into the fire. “St. Mungo’s,” she called.

“Marlene!” The night receptionist, Betty, answered the floo. “I thought you had the night off!”

“I do. Listen Betty, we have reason to believe that Death Eaters are attacking tonight. Aurors are being dispatched as we speak. You’d better warn whoever’s on shift to expect incoming.”

“Should we dispatch the battlefield unit?” Betty asked, turning serious.

Marlene hesitated. The battlefield unit was new; healers trained in basic auror tactics and able to go to a scene, instead of waiting for the fight to end and and victims to be portkeyed to the hospital. Usually only aurors could call on the battlefield unit, but as a newly promoted Senior Healer, Marlene had the power as well. The question was, what if she sent them and nothing was wrong? No, the fidelius was down. That meant that something was wrong. “There might not be wounded yet, but better safe than sorry,” she decided aloud. “Get one unit to Godric’s Hollow and one to… crap. The Bell Estate in Wiltshire. Tell them to get a move on!”

Until a few seconds ago, Marlene had been going to send the second group to Longbottom Hall in Northumberland, until the memory of Alice’s family home had suddenly reappeared in her mind. It was almost definitely a sign of the second fidelius coming down, though Marlene hadn’t known for certain where the Longbottoms were hiding. The feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach grew stronger, and Marlene knew she had made the right choice to send out the battlefield units.

“I’ll meet the Godric’s Hollow unit there,” Marlene decided. “Warn whoever’s in charge that there will be friendlies as well as combatants.”

Betty nodded. “I will.”

A quick wave of Marlene’s wand extinguished the fire, ending the call, and a series of accios later found Marlene with her own boots, cloak, and healer’s travel kit. She wouldn’t get in the way of Sirius or the other aurors, but the Battlefield Healers were at least ten minutes out. If she could save someone in that time, Marlene had to go. With a quick pop, she was gone.

A moment later, the doorbell rang; the first trick or treaters of the night eventually left Marlene’s door, disappointed.

oOo

When Sirius appeared in Godric’s Hollow behind the Gryffin's Inn, he immediately cast a disillusionment spell on himself. There was no way to hide the crack of his apparition, but he needed what stealth he could get. Then, transforming into Padfoot, he raced towards the Potter’s cottage. It was a short trip through the town, and as Padfoot drew close, he began to smell the signs of battle. Smoke, sweat, and dark magic tained the air. Not much blood, but that wasn’t always a good sign; victims of the killing curse didn’t tend to bleed. The distorted rippling in the air above the cottage gave Sirius his next clue as he drew nearer. As a dog he couldn't distinguish the color of the dark mark in the sky, but he had grown far too familiar with the look of it over the past few years.

Someone emerged from the cottage, and Padfoot snarled, but there was only one person Sirius knew who was that size. If Hagrid was here, the fight must be over. Quickly transforming mid-stride, Sirius then cancelled his dissilusionment spell. “Hagrid!” he yelled, running up to the giant man. “What happened?”

Hagrid whipped his umbrella at Sirius, before recognizing him and relaxing slightly. “Sirius Black?” he asked suspiciously.

“Hagrid!” Sirius skidded to a stop beside him. “James and Lily! What happened? What about Harry? Where’s Peter?”

Hagrid’s expression shifted, telling Sirius everything without a word. He felt the bottom drop out of his stomach, and it took all of his willpower to remain on his feet. “Hagrid, what happened?”

“James and Lily are dead,” Hagrid bawled, wiping his eyes on the sleeve of his coat. “I’ve got Harry here; Dumbledore said to get him.”

“Dumbledore. Hogwarts, yes, he’ll be safe there,” Sirius replied, his mouth on autopilot while his brain attempted to process this news. It was one thing to think something might be wrong, another entirely to learn that he had just lost his second brother. He was now all that Harry had left. Well, he and Alice. Marlene would help too, he was sure. He hadn’t gotten around to asking her yet, but Sirius knew that she was the one he wanted to have little Marauders with some day. She would help him with Harry. Merlin knew Lily had often said the same thing. Thank Merlin for Marlene and Alice, he could hear her voice in his mind, Sirius couldn’t even be trusted to raise one of Padfoot’s pups!

Lily and James couldn’t be dead. Couldn’t have left him and little Harry all alone. It had to be a mistake. Sirius looked at Hagrid, at the tiny lump tucked inside his coat. It couldn’t be. “I- I have to check,” Sirius declared. “I have to see. Hagrid, wait. Wait here. Don’t take Harry yet. They might-”

Hagrid clamped a heavy hand on Sirius’ shoulder. “I’ll wait; go on ahead,” he said.

Sirius ran into the cottage, through the gaping hole where the door had once stood. Into the living room, which looked like a battle zone. There were two bodies here, one dropped in a heap and one that appeared to have been blasted halfway through the kitchen wall. Both were in Death Eater cloaks and masks. Sirius absently bound them in ropes, just in case. Death Eaters never left living wounded, but Sirius had to hope that someone in this house was actually alive.

The kitchen had another dead Death Eater, and then, at the foot of the stairs, Sirius found James. He cast every diagnostic spell he knew; every one he had learned in auror training and several that Marlene had taught him. Every single one came up negative.

James was dead.

Sirius wasn’t sure how he managed to make it up the stairs James had been guarding, but here he found another two dead Death Eaters outside Harry’s nursery door. Binding them automatically, he stepped over their bodies and into the room he had helped decorate. There were the sky blue walls with clouds - perfect for quidditch - James had declared. There, on top of the Gryffindor scarlet dresser was the toddler broom Sirius had gotten Harry for his first birthday. There was the mobile with the quaffle and bludgers on it. Harry had pulled the snitch off every time Lily fixed it, until she gave up and left it off. The mobile was attached to the only remaining side of the crib. The rest, along with the back wall of the room and half of the floor, were blasted away.

And there, a the foot of the crib, were two more bodies. Lily, and Voldemort himself. Again, Sirius cast every charm he could, but Lily was gone.

No! She couldn’t be! Sirius cast the spells again, and again. Again. She had to be alive! She and James couldn’t be dead!

“Easy son,” a gruff voice said as a hand clamped down on Sirius’s wand hand. “Enough.” Sirius turned to see Moody and Diggle. Dimly he realized that Marlene had indeed called the Aurors. “What happened here, Black?” Moody asked.

“Hagrid has Harry,” Sirius replied automatically. He and James had given reports to Moody so often that the routine felt natural. “He’s the only obvious survivor. Two victims down. Five Death Eaters dead; I bound them. Voldemort appears to be dead-” Diggle choked when he heard that, but Sirius just kept looking into Moody’s mismatched eyes. He had to finish his report. “No apparent friendlies left in the building.”

“First on scene?” Moody asked. It was a standard question.

“Rubeus Hagrid, I believe,” Sirius replied. Moody raised an eyebrow in surprise. “He was here when I arrived,” Sirius explained. “He had already arrived and gotten Harry out. He told me- he told me-” Sirius couldn’t bring himself to repeat what Hagrid had said; what he had found and his diagnostic spells had confirmed.

“I don’t care what Senior Auror Moody told you; I am a Healer and I am going to look for survivors!” A familiar voice insisted, carrying in on the cold air through the destroyed walls.

“Let her in, Jugson!” Moody called down. Normally he would be amused at Marlene’s attitude; he’d teased Sirius more than once about dating a firecracker like her. But tonight, standing in a toddler’s destroyed nursery where two members of the Order had died, Sirius knew no jokes would be coming from the grizzled auror.

Sirius stood, probably in some kind of shock, waiting for Marlene to reach him. He smelled her perfume before he saw her reach the top of the stairs, and then she was there, kneeling beside him, waving her wand at Lily. Part of him wanted to tell her that it was useless; that he had already done that. But part of him wanted Marlene to prove him wrong. To find some kind of magic to bring Lily and James back.

Instead, Sirius found himself being handed a vial of something, which he drank automatically. The pepper-up potion burned down his throat, but it began to bring him out of his shock. Marlene wiped Sirius’s cheeks; he hadn’t realized he had been crying. He wasn’t sure if she realized that she was crying too.

“Report,” Moody said gruffly. If Sirius didn’t know better he’d think the old auror was trying not to cry himself.

“It was the Killing curse, both of them,” Marlene replied quietly. “They’re gone.”

Voices again rose downstairs, and Marlene quickly added, “That should be the battlefield unit from St. Mungo’s. I told Hagrid to stay put until they could look at Harry. Have you run the trace on the room yet?” Sirius could tell that she was clinging to the process of the report to stave off her own sorrow, just as he had.

“Not yet,” Diggle replied. “You and Black need to vacate the area first.”

Marlene nodded. “I’ll get you the spell damage report on the Potters as soon as I can. I’ll leave the Death Eaters to the unit. But the sooner you can get any findings on the room, the better we can treat Harry.”

“It’ll be our top priority, Lass,” Moody assured her. He then gave Sirius a look that clearly said to get going.

Somehow, Sirius wasn’t sure who was supporting who, but he and Marlene made it back down the stairs. The other auror team had removed James’s body, so they didn’t have to step past it again.

Outside, they found a pair of healers standing over a conjured stretcher, waving their wands at Harry, who seemed to be asleep. Another healer was speaking with the aurors, presumably about the row of body stasis bags laid out on the lawn. The final healer was chastising a very cowed looking Hagrid, so they headed in that direction.

“Healer Atwater?” Marlene asked as they approached.

The healer glanced at them, and her expression softened. “Good call, McKinnon,” she said. “This baby was about to be taken to a muggle residence without any medical follow up. We almost got here too late to stop it.”

Sirius wasn’t sure what exactly the healer was talking about, being too late, but one word stuck in his brain. “Muggle - you weren’t taking Harry to Hogwarts?” he asked.

Hagrid looked even more sheepish. “Dumbledore said ta-”

“Dumbledore? Dumbledore? How did Dumbledore even manage to send you here?” Sirius exploded, pieces of the night finally falling into place as he snapped out of the last of his shock. “Dumbledore cast the fidelius, the only way you could find this place is if he had the secret keeper tell you! Have you seen Peter tonight? Where is he?”

“The fidelius?” Moody’s voice said from behind him.

As the group turned, he thrust a sheaf of parchment at the healer. “Preliminary spell report on the nursery,” he explained. Atwater nodded and accepted the parchment, hurrying over to the two healers working on Harry. “What’s this about the fidelius?”

“Dumbledore cast it; Peter was the secret keeper,” Sirius spit out. “He had to have told Voldemort. How did he tell you, Hagrid?”

Marlene put a hand on his arm, calming Sirius down. “I don’t think the fidelius is up anymore,” she said, “remember?”

“Only the caster can take down the fidelius,” Moody confirmed. “If you lot remembered it, and were able to tell us, then it’s long gone. Peter didn’t need to tell Hagrid here the secret.”

“Why would Dumbledore take down the fidelius if it was keeping the Potters safe?” Marlene wondered aloud.

“Unless he already knew they were dead,” Moody speculated.

Sirius saw red. “Dumbledore-”

He was quickly hit with a petrifying spell; he hadn’t even seen Moody go for his wand. “You did good tonight Black, calling the cavalry,” Moody said, “but this is what your cadet instructors warned me about. You got a temper on you - never knew a Black who didn’t. You’re not going to go haring off after Dumbledore until we get this settled, clear?”

Sirius couldn’t nod, couldn’t speak, but as the fury leached from his mind, he hoped that his eyes conveyed a measure of sanity to the older auror. It must have, because the body bind loosened.

“Now, you and your missus are going to go with the tyke to St. Mungo’s.” Moody continued. Sirius opened his mouth but was immediately silenced. “You’re off duty. I’ll continue this investigation, and I’ll get to the bottom of it. Understand?”

Sirius nodded. Lily always told him his temper would get him into trouble. Harry was the most important thing. Right now he had to be a godfather first and an auror second. Sirius jolted upright, reminded of something. Longbottom’s? He mouthed, still silenced.

Moody removed the silencing spell, but Marlene had already guessed his question. “Aurors and Healers are on their way to the Longbottoms too,” she explained. “If Alice is okay they’ll send her to meet us and Harry at St. Mungo’s. If not... well, she’ll end up there either way.”

Sirius nodded again, and let Marlene guide him over to Harry’s side, just in time to catch their portkey to St. Mungo’s. Moody was the best; he would get to the bottom of what had happened tonight. Right now, Sirius had to take care of Harry.

Chapter Text

November 4, 1981

It took three days for the aurors to track down Peter Pettigrew, armed with every detail about him that Black and Lupin could provide, including his animagus ability. When they did, he attempted to blast a street full of muggles and disappear, but Alastor was faster, stunning him and casting anti-animagus blocks before the rat could finish his spell.

Now, with the rat delivered to the Ministry and locked in a specialty null-magic and anti-animagus cell, Alastor was on his way to deliver the good news and get a few updates. He quickly reviewed the files in his hand as he stalked towards the Spell Damage Ward at St. Mungo’s.

On Halloween, Dawlish had lead the other team to the Bell Estate just in time, catching the Lestranges in the process of torturing the auror pair. One Death Eater had been killed; the other three escaped. Dawlish had lost a leg trying to stop them.

Alastor harrumphed. While he would prefer the original, his magical eye was at least damned useful. Not sure how much good Dawlish would continue to be, clumping around on a wooden leg.

The McKinnon girl had sent healers there as well; their battlefield medic had stabilized Dawlish, as well as the Longbottom pair. Both had been held under the cruciatus curse for a time, but the healers were hopeful that it wasn’t too late for them. Alastor harrumphed again. They were a damn fine pair of aurors; he hoped they’d recover.

The Longbottom boy was found unharmed, hiding in a closet. Traumatized, though; the healers wanted a good look at his mind. Then there was the Potter boy. Another good auror lost, plus the unspeakable wife. He’d need to find a new partner for Black now. The boy, though, the reports weren’t looking good. Some kind of dark magic used on the boy. Hopefully the detailed spell report he held in his hand, combined with the healers’ study of Voldemort’s body, which they’d asked to have, would offer a solution.

He didn’t like to think it, but Alastor had far too much experience in battle to drop the thought. If something truly horrible had been done to the boy, then it might be kinder that he not make it out of the hospital. Like cauterizing a wound to save a life. The Dark Lord was gone, and if he had done something to the Potter boy that endangered their whole society again… well Alastor was charged with protecting all wizards and witches, not just one. It would be a shame, but he would do his duty.

Not that he would share that with Black right now. No, now he had some questions from his investigation of the night, and Black was his best chance for answers. And if that placed Alastor close to the Potter boy as the healers finished their analysis, so much the better.

According to the files he had, the McKinnon lass had gotten her brother involved in the case. He was an Unspeakable who had worked with Lily Potter, and had some idea of what magic she might have worked. He, in turn, had brought in a goblin of some sort. A Curse-Breaker named Rotclaw, according to the on-duty Auror’s report.

Once Alastor reached the Spell Damage floor, and had his credentials checked by the on-duty Auror, Kettleburn, he was directed into a large treatment room.

Longbottom was there, though she trembled periodically - lasting cruciatus damage. Her husband was still here too, Alastor knew, but expected to eventually recover. The son was probably either with his father or with the grandmother, though Moody had read the reports that there was some mental damage to the boy too - some kind of mental block on his magic - so he was as regular a patient as his parents.

The elder McKinnon twins were there - the Unspeakable probing a goblin crystal while the lass in her healer’s robes sat with Sirius Black. He was bouncing the Potter tyke on his knee, charming the boy with some kind of nonsense song. The boy had a bandage wrapped around his forehead, but other than that appeared unharmed. The curse-breaker, Rotclaw, and the Healer, Atwater, followed Alastor inside and closed the door. Clearly everyone had arrived.

“McKinnon, if you would?” Atwater said.

The lass placed her hand on Potter’s head, and a moment later he dropped off to sleep. Black cuddled him protectively as everyone settled in to begin the meeting. Atwater nodded and looked down at her files.

“Now, we’re here to discuss what is to be done with Harry Potter. Master Auror Moody, as the lead investigator into the death of his parents, do you have anything to add?”

“Nothin. Pettigrew admitted to being a spy and telling the secret to Voldemort and his Death Eaters. He sent in a team first, to soften up the parents, but according to Pettigrew, who stayed outside, he had orders that no one touch the child.” That in itself was a chilling revelation - what did Voldemort want from the boy? But Alastor was hopeful that today’s meeting would at least partially answer that question.

“Between them, the Potters took down five Death Eaters, though Pettigrew insists there was a sixth,” Alastor continued. “We know who that is, but are having trouble getting to him.” Just one more reason not to trust Dumbledore right now, in Alastor’s mind. “Voldemort himself entered the fray and his wand shows the spell residue for the Killing Curse that took down James Potter. There was also an expelliarmus, a Cruciatus and a Killing Curse cast on Lily Potter. Lastly, there was also residue from an unknown spell, followed by the attempted Killing Curse on the boy.”

“We have identified the unknown spell,” The McKinnon lad said. “It was a soul rending spell.”

“He was going to destroy Harry’s soul?” Black burst out.

Alastor was tempted to stun him, but the McKinnon lass was faster, silencing him with her wand and holding him in place with her glare. Alstor chuckled; he liked the spirit in that gal.

“He was splitting his own soul,” the goblin spoke up. “We have encountered these objects often in our curse-breaking field. Dark wizards and witches have been creating them for millennia as a perceived path to immortality. They are not unbeatable, however, and it is certainly possible to defeat the dark one in such a way as to render this particular backup method ineffective.”

“What’s particularly unnerving is how many Voldemort created,” McKinnon continued. “With the size of the piece in Harry, we were able to base the arithmantic equations on it and work back to a whole soul. With only one piece to work from, the numbers aren’t completely accurate, but it appears that Voldemort made five before attacking the Potters.”

Though he was still silenced, everyone could see Black’s reaction to that. Five? He mouthed.

“We believe he wanted to split his soul into seven parts,” McKinnon explained, “as seven is a very arithmanticly powerful number. He could also have been aiming for thirteen, but our calculations show that his soul would have been unable to split that many times. Whether or not he did those same calculations…”

“So when he cast the spell at the Potters, that was the sixth time?” Moody asked.

“We believe so,” McKinnon said. “The spell residue shows the split working, meaning that his soul was in two pieces when he attacked young Harry. One piece was still in his body, and appears to have been hit by a Killing Curse, destroying the body it inhabited.”

“Spell residue shows it bounced off the lad,” Moody confirmed. “Rune sequences around the crib indicate that Lily did something.”

“I have confirmation from our superior that she was indeed working on a project in that area,” McKinnon nodded. “We haven’t been able to work out her notes yet, but it is likely that she developed a way to defeat the Curse, albeit at the expense of her own life.”

Rotclaw took up the explanation there. “When Voldemort split his soul that final time, breaking it into the sixth and seventh piece, as we said, one piece remained within his body, while the other was removed. When Voldemort cast the Killing Curse and Lady Potter’s spell activated, it rebounded the curse at him. This killing curse killed his body, and the fragment of soul within it, bringing him back down to six pieces. The sixth piece was still in the nursery, however, and would have completed its mission to latch into a suitable host object.”

Black bounced up again, clearly having made the connection. Though silenced, and hampered by the sleeping toddler on his him, he stomped wildly around the room.

His girlfriend laughed, and Longbottom chuckled weakly. “Best to let him finish,” the former said. “He’ll pay attention to the rest much better if he’s gotten this out of his system.”

Alastor didn’t hold with such young, hotheaded behavior, but they weren’t in the field right now, so he supposed he could let it slide. A few minutes later, Black deflated and slumped back into his chair. McKinnon patted his arm comfortingly before nodding at her twin to continue.

“As Sirius surmised, we have been assisting the Healers here in determining the odd nature of Harry’s scar, and we do believe that the piece of Voldemort’s soul has come to reside there,” he said.

Healer Atwater took over the explanation. “We were seeing traces of extremely dark magic on Harry,” she explained. “This alone was concerning, but not entirely unexpected, given what had happened around him that night. He also had quite a few cuts, presumably from the explosion of his room. We removed pieces of wood from his crib and plaster from the wall from several of these cuts, which were then healed quickly without scarring.”

“However, one cut refused to heal,” she nodded at Potter’s forehead, where the white bandage stood out against his black hair. “Rather than force it to heal, leaving a scar, we tried to determine what was preventing it from healing. Deeper scans indicated something very startling; young Harry has three life signs in him.”

Not missing a beat, Alstor had his wand in his hand and was casting hominum revelio silently. Sure enough, the tyke glowed green, orange, and black, the three auras twining around his young body.

Atwater continued. “We brought in Unspeakable McKinnon and Curse-Breaker Rotclaw at this point, and they were able to confirm that the black aura is the presence of the sixth piece of Voldemort’s soul. The green is that of young Harry himself. However, we were not able to identify the third, orange, life sign. We’ve run every test we can, and are at somewhat of a loss. Therefore, Master Auror Moody, as one of the few legally qualified to do this, we would like you, with the permission of the boy’s guardians, to remove Harry’s memory of the night to a pensive, so that we can study it and hopefully determine the cause of this anomaly.”

Alstor frowned. Using legilimency on a non-combatant outside of an interrogation setting was rare, but healing was usually the exception. He was certainly qualified, but Alstor had never cast that spell on a child before. Children’s magic was unpredictable, and if it fought against him… not to mention whatever the piece of Voldemort might do.

That decided him. If that orange spirit was malevolent, or if the piece from Voldemort was too strong for the boy to resist, then this was what Alstor had been preparing for. Better to peek into the lad’s head now than when he was older and more of a threat. And if they could find out how the Potter Lass overcame the Killing curse, that could save lives. “I’ll do it,” he agreed.

The Healer turned to Black and Longbottom. “As the boy’s godparents, you must also agree,” she said.

Longbottom nodded shakily. “I ag-g-gree.”

McKinnon removed her silencing spell from Black, and he nodded as well. “I agree.”

Atwater conjured a stretcher, and had Black place the boy on it. “Better to do this while he’s asleep,” Alstor declared. “But I’ll need eye contact.”

The McKinnon lass stepped forward and gently opened the boy’s eye. Moody quickly cast, “Legillimens.

The memory was there, right at the forefront of his mind; the boy was probably dreaming of it right now. Alstor tapped his wand to the boy’s temple and drew the strand away, seeing it fade from the lad’s mind as he did so.

Breaking the eye contact, Alastor looked around the room and spotted Atwater, holding a pensive beneath his wand. With a flick, Alastor dropped the boy’s memory into the basin. She then levitated the pensive over to Rotclaw and McKinnon, who were setting up some contraption for it.

Atwater then turned to the others. “Alice, Sirius, I know that, for Harry’s sake, and for the sake of his parents, you will want to watch this. And some day, to help him, that might be a good idea. But right now, we need people who can be objective; people who don’t need to risk setting back their own healing-”

“Right, Longbottom, Black, you’re hereby ordered to stay out here on protective detail for Potter,” Alastor interrupted. Atwater had the right idea, but she was tiptoeing around saying it. Longbottom and Black were his aurors, and they’d better obey his command, by Merlin!

Both aurors nodded, though Black looked a little rebellious. Atwater just gave Alastor a look he clearly interpreted as I was handling that. Alastor replied by jutting his chin at the McKinnon lass. He wasn’t sure if she could be objective in this, dating Black as she was, but she wasn’t his to command; her inclusion would be up to her own superior.

“I think another set of Healer’s eyes would be valuable,” McKinnon said, before Atwater could forbid her from going. “I will also be involved in the healing of Harry, and the more I know, the better I can treat him.”

Atwater seemed to debate with herself for a moment before finally agreeing. “Alright.” That decided, Alastor and the two healers joined the other two at the pensive.

Rotclaw pointed at a second basin with a light blue ward across it. “Instead of touching the memory, like a standard pensive, you will reach into this basin instead. This will allow you some control of the memory. We will be able to slow or speed up the memory, stop it, and jump backwards and forwards in one minute intervals.”

McKinnon pulled out a stack of small parchments and began to pass them to those going into the memory. “The commands require a flick of your wand, and are as follows: Retinentia Lente and Retinentia Jejuno for slow down and speed up, Retinentia Desino for stop, and Retinentia Prosalio and Retinentia Rursalio for skipping forward and back. With the latter two, simply saying the spell will jump one minute, specifying a number afterwards, such as Retinentia Rursalio three will jump back three minutes. Unlike a standard Pensive, which ejects you when the memory is done, you will need to say finite to leave. This will also work at any time, if anyone needs to leave early.”

Once everyone had the parchment of commands in their hand and their wands out, Rotclaw nodded for them all to reach into the warded basin.

Chapter Text

November 4, 1981

This was Marlene’s first trip into a pensive, but she adjusted quickly to the moment of falling before landing in the nursery of the Potter cottage. Harry was lying in his crib, almost asleep, when a loud bang sounded from below, jolting him into complete wakefulness.

“That’d be the front door,” Moody growled.

For a few minutes, there were only muffled sounds of the battle below, while Harry toyed with his mobile. Then, feet pounded up the stairs and Lily burst into the nursery. She looked scared, angry, and determined. As soon as she had the door closed, she cast something that Marlene recognized as an advanced locking charm, before tracing out a series of runes with her wand. Mattie and Rotclaw stopped and backed up the memory, playing it a slower speed as they noted what she had done.

“Defensive ward?” Moody asked them.

“A pretty nasty one,” Rotclaw confirmed, almost seeming pleased with Lily’s choice.

Once they had finished their notes, Mattie set the memory to play again at normal speed. Lily, finished with the door, turned back to to the crib. Harry had stood up, and was cheerfully greeting her, babbling “ma” amongst other baby gibberish.

Lily grabbed Harry, and spun, as though trying to apparate, but didn’t go anywhere. A look of frustration crossed her face as Moody commented, “Anti-apparition wards.”

Then Lily grabbed at the heart-shaped pendant she was wearing and said “Be brave.” Again nothing happened, and Lily’s expression of anger and desperation flared.

“Anti-Portkey, too,” Moody commented.

Lily grabbed the crib’s railing firmly, appeared to gather her magic, and chanted, “Be a good boy.” This time there was a struggle, as she and Harry started to fade from sight, but their image wavered, and suddenly they reappeared with a pop. A bit of smoke curled around Lily’s fingers where they gripped the crib.

Mattie immediately replayed the moment and then paused the scene; Moody whistled. “Strong ones. She almost broke through the ward there. Voldemort himself must have put up the wards, to overcome how much she put into that.”

“This is a specialty portkey spell as well,” Mattie confirmed, “created by the unspeakables. The only way for Voldemort to have specifically blocked it is if he had an Unspeakable working for him.”

Moody growled something in reply. Marlene was only half paying attention, though, as something else was coming together for her. “Her words - it’s a goodbye,” she murmured.

“What?” Mattie asked.

“Be brave; be a good boy,” Marlene repeated. “That’s- she was expecting them to kill her, but to give her the chance to say goodbye. Those are the kinds of phrases she would say to say goodbye to Harry…”

“The kind of thing that the Death Eaters wouldn’t suspect they were also an activation phrase, unlike ‘Emergency’ or somat,” Moody agreed, nodding in approval.

“Then why use them now?” Atwater asked.

“Better to try now before you’re cornered,” Moody said gruffly. “If anyone but Voldemort had cast that anti-portkey ward, she and the lad woulda gotten out then without a scratch.”

At Moody’s nod, Mattie restarted the memory.

Lily pulled out her wand and began tracing out runes again, this time around Harry. The battle noises from below ceased for a moment, before feet began to climb the stairs. Lily’s expression tensed, but her casting never paused. One of her pursuers reached the door, and it glowed a bright white for a moment, immediately followed by a thump from outside.

“That would be the defense ward,” Rotclaw reported happily.

“And the first dead Death Eater on the landing,” Moody was equally pleased with Lily’s work.

Lily now pulled out a small knife from the bedside bureau and sliced a gash in her hand. “Blood magic,” Mattie whispered. Dipping her wand in her blood, Lily continued casting runes, tracing them on Harry’s forehead.

“That would be why the souls latched onto his forehead,” Rotclaw commented, pausing the memory. “The blood from her rite would create a draw there.”

Mattie nodded, jotting down notes. “I think I understand where she is going with this,” he confirmed. “I see runes for sacrifice and transference, as well as redoubling and shielding. It looks like she was trying to draw fire from Harry to-”

“James told Sirius that Voldemort was after Harry, more than the adult Potters,” Marlene revealed, having an inkling of where her brother was going with that. “Harry was more of a target than Lily was.”

“That matches what little I got from Dumbledore and the Order,” Moody confirmed.

“So Lily was trying to draw any fire on Harry onto herself?” Atwater asked.

“It appears that way,” Mattie said, “I’ll need to go over these equations of course, but just based on the runes involved that would be my preliminary guess.” As he finished taking down notes, Mattie restarted the memory.

Another blast rattled the door, followed by a thump from outside. “The second Death Eater,” Moody noted.

Suddenly, the door burst inwards with a magical explosion. Those in the memory ducked instinctively, though the memory shrapnel simply passed right through them. Moody quickly slowed the memory.

Marlene watched as Lily was flung forward into the crib by the explosive force. She took a hit to the ribs that had to have knocked the wind from her, as well as a pretty solid hit to the back of one leg from shrapnel. She collapsed, half draped across the crib, as Harry started to cry.

At a gasp from Healer Atwater, Marlene turned away from watching Lily. There, in the smoldering doorway, stood Voldemort and another Death Eater. The latter shot a silencing spell at the crib, which cut off the baby’s cries.

The group watched the slowed memory play as Lily struggled to her feet and defiantly stood between Voldemort and the crib. Lily cast a spell at Voldemort, but he batted it away. Another jerk of his wand saw hers flying across the room. Absently, Marlene noted that it had flown beneath the dresser and might still be there. Sirius would want to give it to Harry one day.

“Join me,” Voldemort rasped.

“Never!” Lily spat back.

Voldemort turned towards the Death Eater beside himself. “Is this still your wish?” he asked.

“Yes, My Lord, Thank you, My Lord,” The Death Eater simpered.

Without thinking about it, Marlene found herself growling, fists clenched. “Snape!” She’d recognize that voice anywhere - having heard it taunt her boyfriend on practically a daily basis at Hogwarts.

Moody immediately paused the memory, and stalked towards the Death Eater. Marlene followed, taking in the dark eyes, the pale, potion-stained fingers, and the familiar wand they clutched.

“You’re lucky Sirius isn’t here,” Marlene said. “He’d try to rip him apart - memory or no.”

Moody chuckled. “That’s definitely Snape,” he agreed. “This should be all the proof I need to drag him out from behind Dumbledore’s robes.”

Marlene resolved not to mention that tidbit to Sirius - he was upset enough with Dumbledore as it was. She didn’t want her boyfriend to go to Azkaban for killing their old Headmaster.

Mattie restarted the memory.

“Stand aside, mudblood,” Voldemort commanded.

Lily looked puzzled for a moment, but she had clearly also figured out who her second guest was. Her eyes blazed as she glared at Snape contemptuously. “No,” the word was spat almost more at his minion that Voldemort himself.

“There is no need for you to die,” Voldemort said. “Step aside now.”

“And what, just let you kill my son?” Lily said. “You really believe I would do that?” Again, the question was directed at Snape. “You believe I would give up my son for you?”

Those in the memory watched with bated breath as Snape broke first, looking away from Lily and ducking his masked face.

Evidently, Voldemort had also realized that he was playing second fiddle in this conversation, as he angrily cast the Cruciatus on Lily. She collapsed, screaming, writhing on the ground before the crib.

Voldemort held the curse for several seconds; Marlene could hear Healer Atwater counting them off softly. Despite knowing that Lily was already dead, both Healers couldn’t help but count down the timer on her sanity.

After thirty seconds, Voldemort ended the curse. Long enough for the average person, but not yet approaching irreversible levels. Not nearly as long as either Longbottom had experienced that same night. Lily lay for a minute, trembling and coughing, before pulling herself to her feet with the crib. Young Harry was still silenced, but his face was red and he was squalling, clearly upset by his mother’s screams. Lily gently cupped his cheek before turning back to Voldemort.

“Stand aside,” he demanded.

Marlene feared that something had broken in Lily, as she began to babble. “Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead-"

“This is my last warning!” Voldemort said, raising his wand.

Lily continued to plead, a far cry from the defiant woman she had appeared to be. "Not Harry! Please... have mercy... have mercy... Not Harry! Not Harry! Please — I'll do anything..."

Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort cast.

Before the green light had left his wand, the memory paused. “That wasn’t Lily,” Marlene said. She had shared a dorm room with Lily for seven years, and those last moments were not the girl she knew.

“The cruciatus-” Healer Atwater began, but Moody cut her off.

“No, the Lass is right. She was defiant and spunky right till the end. Then suddenly she’s begging on bended knee…”

“I think it was the spell,” Mattie said. “Her spell, that is. Something about her spell must have changed when Voldemort tortured her.”

Rotclaw quickly backed up the memory, playing it forward again at half speed.

“Look at her eyes, just as he casts,” Moody pointed out.

“She looks triumphant,” Marlene agreed. “Could she have wanted him to cast the Cruciatus on her?”

“Perhaps not that spell specifically, but any spell of a particular strength…” Rotclaw mused.

“A personal shield!” Mattie agreed. “She cast the runes beforehand, and then a sufficiently powerful spell from her opponent would charge it.”

“But she would then need to trigger it quickly, before the charge dissipated…” Rotclaw agreed.

“If he thought she was still defiant, Voldemort would have continued to toy with her,” Moody growled. “Try to break her.”

“She made him think she was already broken,” Marlene said quietly.

Moody nodded. “If he thought he broke her, he’d just finish her off,” he agreed. “No sport left in it.”

Mattie and Rotclaw had a quick whispered conference. “It will take several viewings to figure out exactly what Lady Potter did, but I believe we know enough to confidently say that it was indeed a personal ward and move forward,” the goblin finally declared.

“Agreed,” Moody nodded.

They restarted the memory, and all watched again as Lily died. This time, though, as the slowed memory played, Mattie and Rotclaw were right beside Lily, observing her and Harry.

As the killing spell struck her, the green light enveloped Lily. And, when they slowed the memory even further, all could see, for just a split second, an answering orange glow around Harry. Lily’s body was in front of his, and the flash was so quick that it was impossible to believe that Voldemort or Snape would have noticed anything.

Indeed, as Lily’s body fell, Voldemort sauntered up to the crib. He stared down at Harry for a moment, and Marlene briefly wished she could know what was going through the dark wizard’s mind. A flick of his wand, aimed at his own body, made her realize that he was probably casting the soul splitting spell. Then, in one fluid moment, he raised his wand and cast at Harry, “Avada Kedavra!

Still in extreme slow motion, the group watched the green light streak towards the crying toddler. They watched it hit him, and then a field of orange light flared around him, shredding the green spell. The orange light coalesced over Harry’s heart and then shot back at Voldemort before he could react. The orange light punched into him, sending the dark lord toppling backwards.

Black light boiled out of his body, meeting the orange. When they touched, they exploded, tearing apart half of the room.

“Her ward didn’t just stop the curse, it rebound it somehow,” Mattie murmured, hastily scribbling notes.

“Was it a rebound, or was it an attack of her own?” Rotclaw replied, taking his own notes.

The memory began to flicker, and Marlene glanced at Harry. He had several bleeding cuts, and was wailing silently. Clearly he was fading.

A flicker of movement caught her eye, and Marlene turned to see Snape slipping off his Death Eater mask. He was devastated, crying himself, as he reached for Lily’s body. But as soon as he touched her, the orange light threw him backward, making him bounce off the wall beside the doorway.

He stood for a moment, stunned, before touching one of the many buttons on his robes. “Petal,” he whispered, as a portkey clearly activated.

“And that’s how Dumbledore knew,” Moody growled.

“Then he took down the fidelius,” Marlene ventured. “So Hagrid could find them? Or because he knew it no longer mattered?”

“I’ll be asking him that, Lass,” Moody assured her as the memory faded to black. A muttered finite from Mattie had all of them back in the real world.

“It is quite clear now that that orange presence is Lily,” Atwater said.

Moody nodded. “And the black is Voldemort.”

Rotclaw and Maddie nodded their agreement. “It would appear so,” the goblin said.

“So if it is Lily,” Marlene said, “do we really need to remove it? After all, it protected him from Voldemort. And Snape. Could it continue to do that? We know there are still Death Eaters out there.”

The others all considered this possibility. Finally, Mattie said, “We would certainly need to do more testing to make sure, but it is a possibility.”

Atwater nodded. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving it there without performing more tests, even though it seems unlikely to actively harm him.”

“Agreed,” Moody growled.

“It is also possible,” Rotclaw said, “that the spirits are now tied together, and it would be impossible to leave one without leaving the other, or to remove one without removing the other.”

“I’ll need to think on this,” Atwater said. “And of course...” she nodded to where Mattie and Rotclaw were standing.

“We’ll thoroughly research this,” Mattie assured her.

Rotclaw nodded in agreement. “I have several members of my team waiting to analyze the memory now that we’ve retrieved it. Since we have a very good idea of what Lady Potter was working on, that should narrow down our search considerably.”

“There are several Unspeakables ready to work on this as well,” Mattie agreed. “Everyone wants to know how Lily beat the Killing Curse, and if Voldemort is truly gone for good.”

“Doesn’t seem likely,” Moody growled, “If he made more horcruxes.”

“Yes, but hopefully studying this will give us an idea on how to defeat those as well,” Mattie agreed. Then he turned back to Atwater and Marlene. “Rotclaw and I will take the memory for further study and get back to you on a treatment plan for Harry as soon as possible.” he said.

“Provided you are able to give me this information,” Atwater agreed, “I feel very confident that we can cure young Harry. We will continue to observe him, but I feel comfortable, having seen this, saying that he may leave St. Mungo’s for short periods in the presence of Black and Healer McKinnon or the Longbottoms. Master Auror Moody?”

Moody seemed to consider that for a moment, and Marlene knew he was judging how big a threat little Harry might be. Finally, he nodded. “I agree.” Then, dismissing the healers, he turned back to Mattie and Rotclaw. “Now, before you make off with it, I’m going to need a copy of this memory,” he growled.

Chapter Text

November 5, 1981

Much later that night, or rather, the next morning, Alastor finally finished at St. Mungo’s. After a long conversation with McKinnon and the Curse-Breaker, followed by another viewing of the memory, Alastor was ready for action. As soon as he left the hospital, Alastor returned to the Ministry and headed directly for Bones’s office.

After Crouch’s son was found to be the Death Eater killed in the Longbottom attack, Alastor had insisted that Crouch recuse himself from any Death Eater trials, for potential conflict of interest. Bagnold and Dumbledore had been called to an emergency hearing and had agreed. Crouch’s assistant, Amelia Bones, took over as prosecutor. Moody thought she was a bit young, but since her fiance - one of the Prewitt boys - was killed in the war, she would be plenty harsh against Death Eaters.

As she was in charge of prosecuting the Death Eaters, Bones was no longer going out in the field, so Moody was fairly certain he would find her in her office, even at this early hour. Wasting no time with her assistant, Moody brushed right past the cadet and strode into her office.

“Master Auror Moody, what a pleasure,” Bones said wryly, looking up from a thick stack of parchment. “You’ll be pleased to know that we took your advice from the Pettigrew case. There’s an anti-animagus ward over the Alleys now.”

“Good. But I’ve got something more important than that.” Alastor smirked and deposited the vial containing a copy of the Potter boy’s memory on her desk. “You oughta take a look at that, Lass,” he said.

With a look that said she was mostly humoring him, Bones turned and levitated her Pensive off of her bookshelf. Dumping the memory into it, she raised an eyebrow at Alastor, inviting him to join. Alastor shook her off, having already watched it twice in the hospital. With a shrug Bones placed one hand into the memory, her body going rigid as her mind was sucked in.

When Bones emerged 15 minutes later she was livid. “Is this certified?” she demanded.

Alastor met her glare with a matching one. “Took it from the lad myself.”

Bones pushed the intercom button on her desk. “Abbott get me Auror teams Kelpie and Ironbelly, now,” she demanded.

Alastor nodded approvingly. Those two teams had plenty of experience with Death Eaters and Ironbelly’s leader, the younger Greengrass, was also politically savvy. They needed that when going up against Dumbledore.

While waiting for the two teams of Aurors to report in, Bones pulled a stack of parchments from her desk. Quickly filling them out she gave Alastor the official order. “I want you to march over to Hogwarts and arrest Severus Snape,” she commanded. “If he gets in your way or tries to stop you, you can take in Dumbledore too. If you find anyone else at the school with knowledge of these actions, bring them along.”

Once the two teams had assembled, Bones gave them a quick overview of where they were going and why. After a few moments discussion on the best tactics, Moody lead them to the Apparition point and they departed for Hogsmeade.

On the short walk up to the castle they passed Rubeus Hagrid's hut, reminding Alastor that they needed to talk to him in more detail as well about the events of that night. Making a mental note to gather the half-Giant on their trip back out of the castle, Alastor continued to lead the way.

As it was the middle of the morning, they expected Snape to be in either his classroom or his office. The preliminary plan was to grab him and get out before Dumbledore even realized what had happened. However, both Alastor and Everett Greengrass were sure the Headmaster had a way of monitoring his spy and doubted they would make it through the operation without that contact.

Fortunately, luck was on their side. As they entered the dungeon classroom they found Snape in front of a group of students, sneering at them as they chopped ingredients.

Taking in the Aurors before him, Snape’s sneer intensified. “And to what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked.

“Class dismissed,” Alastor growled.

Not needing to be told twice the group of what appeared to be first years quickly grabbed their bags and bolted for the door, skirting around the Aurors standing there.

Snape was reaching for his robes and, remembering the memory, Alastor twitched his wand at the spy. “I’ll have your guts plastered around this room before you can activate that portkey,” he warned.

No portkeys should have worked inside Hogwarts, but for all they knew the Headmaster had found a way to bypass that particular ward. And unfortunately, that very same ward prevented the aurors from laying their own anti-portkey spells.

Snape appeared ready to resist but after a moment seemed to think better of it. Dropping his wand on to his desk he glared at Alastor as the Auror bound him in magical ropes.

“Dumbledore won't stand for this,” Snape said.

Alastor chuckled. “We'll see about that, lad.”

As the Kelpie team surrounded the bound man and lead him back through the halls of Hogwarts, Alastor and Everett Greengrass took point with the rest of the Ironbelly Squad.

Sure enough, as Alastor had predicted, they had no sooner reached the Great Hall than Dumbledore himself appeared, with McGonagall by his side.

“Hello Alastor,” Dumbledore said cheerfully. “Can I help you today?”

“No thanks, Albus,” Alastor replied. “Got what we came for.”

Appearing unfazed by his brusk reply, Dumbledore continued. “Can I ask where you are taking Professor Snape in the middle of his class?”

“You can,” Alastor replied, taking him literally. A quick hand signal behind his back indicated that the team with Snape should keep moving.

A flicker of annoyance crossed Dumbledore's face before he smoothed it away. “Very well, I shall play along,” he said calmingly. “Where exactly are you taking my professor?”

“To the ministry.” Alastor replied shortly.

Dumbledore nodded as though he had expected this reply. “And may I ask why you are taking away my professor in the middle of his classes?”

Alastor snorted. The old man just didn't learn, did he? Using his magical eye, Alastor saw Kelpie team, with Snape, inching toward the doors of the Great Hall. Smirking in a way he knew would just annoy Dumbledore more, Alastor answered, “You may.”

The flicker of annoyance returned before Dumbledore schooled his features. With exacting patience, he said, “And why, Alastor, are you taking away my professor in the middle of the school day?”

With small pleasure at finally thwarting the man, Alastor replied, “Snape is being charged with treasonous actions against the Ministry, belonging to a terrorist organization, murder, and a whole host of other charges.”

McGonagall gasped but the twinkle never left Dumbledore's eyes. Kelpie were almost at the doors and Alastor knew they were almost out. Unfortunately Dumbledore chose that moment to draw his wand. “Alastor, would you kindly tell your team to stop inching towards the door,” he said calmly.

Alastor sneered. “Nope,” he shot back. “I'd rather tell them to hurry up,” he said.

Dumbledore frowned. Though his wand was in his hand, Alastor knew that Ironbelly had their wands out as well. Dumbledore was a top duelist but the odds were in their favor. Unless of course McGonagall jumped in. however Alastor knew they couldn't take Dumbledore down without a few casualties. Better to take the path of least bloodshed, as much as it might grate knowing what he did about the headmaster's role in the deaths of the Potters.

“You wouldn't be about to interfere in the arrest of a suspect, would you Albus?” Alastor asked, raising an eyebrow.

Dumbledore's gaze hardened. “I wouldn't dream of such a thing, Alastor,” he replied, “but I must protest this treatment of my Potions Professor. I have already made a statement to the Wizengamot as to Severus’s role in this war. I can't imagine you would need to question him any further.”

“Well, see, that would imply we had been able to question him in the first place,” Moody replied, “but it seems that the word of the Chief Warlock has been enough to keep him out of our interrogation rooms.” Then deciding to rile the old man up even more and knowing what Bones would have in store for him, Alastor dug the knife in a little deeper. “If our information about Snape proves correct,” he said, “that might be former Chief Warlock.”

McGonagall paled drastically and the smile was wiped from Dumbledore's face, though his hand tightened on his wand. After a moment, Dumbledore dropped his arm to his side. Needing no prompting, Team Kelpie quickly ushered Snape out of the main doors. Alastor knew that now out of Dumbledore's sight they would double time it down to Hogsmeade and back to the Ministry. With any luck Snape would be in a cell before Alastor and the others were even back in London.

Before Dumbledore could begin another convincing argument, Alastor turned to his deputy. “Are you aware of what transpired on Halloween?” he asked her.

McGonagall frowned. “I know what everyone knows,” she replied. “What happened to poor James and Lily... Weren't you one of the team who rescued Harry?” she asked.

Alastor nodded grimly. “Aye lass, I was. that's why I want to know why the Hogwarts Game Keeper, of all people, beat the Aurors and the Battlefield Medics to Godric's Hollow that night.

He could see the wheels turning in McGonagall's mind as she put everything together. Quickly her legendary Scottish temper came to the fore and focused entirely at Dumbledore. “You said Alastor called you!” she yelled at him. “You said the Aurors had cleared the scene and Hagrid was just going to pick up Harry!”

Alastor didn't bother to hide his smirk; now Dumbledore's house of cards would come toppling down. “Professor McGonagall, would you mind coming to the Ministry to make a formal statement?” he asked. She looked torn for a moment before Alastor added, “I would be happy to leave an Auror behind to cover your classes for the afternoon.”

He looked at Greengrass, who nodded. “Auror Smith is our Transfiguration expert ma'am,” he said.

Auror Smith stepped forward and McGonagall's face brightened slightly upon seeing him. “Of course, Mr. Smith,” she said. “Hufflepuff year of ‘73 wasn't it?” she asked.

“Yes ma'am,” he replied.

“I trust you remember the way?” she asked.

“Yes ma'am.”

“I also appear to be short one Potions Professor,” Dumbledore said, again appearing desperate to derail this conversation.

Alastor exchanged a look with Greengrass as another Auror stepped forward expectantly. This one Alastor recognized himself - one of the many Weasley cousins. “Auror Weasley,” Alastor snapped out.

“Gryffindor in ‘74” he said cheerfully to McGonagall. “Hello again Professor.”

“And our Potions expert,” Greengrass said.

“I'd be happy to take over for the afternoon,” Weasley offered Dumbledore.

As the two Aurors split from the group, Alastor faced a dilemma. He didn't want to give Dumbledore any time to scupper their plans, but as he kept replacing Hogwarts professors with his team Alastor became less and less capable of taking in the Master Duelist against his will. Making a quick decision he smirked at Dumbledore.

“I'll also be taking your Game Keeper,” he said. “But I trust you won't need an Auror to cover his duties for the afternoon.”

Dumbledore got a sour look on his face as though he had swallowed something unpleasant but didn't object.

Finally Alastor played the Ace up his sleeve. “Of course, you are welcome to accompany your employees to the Ministry with us,” he offered.

Alastor could see Dumbledore thinking about it. On the one hand he could use the time to Floo his contacts and pull some strings. On the other hand, he probably thought he could walk all over Bones and override Alastor. If he went to the ministry now there was likely a chance, in Dumbledore’s mind, that he could get Snape freed before any questioning could take place.

Of course he would be sadly disappointed, as Alastor had discovered Bones had quite a backbone. And once the Potter Lad’s memory was played in the Wizengamot Chambers, Dumbledore wouldn't have nearly as many supporters as he thought. The question was, if Dumbledore didn't accompany them to the Ministry right now, could they get enough information out of Snape before he was pulled from their grasp again?

Fortunately for Alastor, Dumbledore seemed to decide that his chances were better at the Ministry. Sheathing his wand he smiled benevolently and stepped forward alongside McGonagall. “Of course I shall accompany you to the Ministry to try to clear up this misunderstanding and retrieve my Professors,” he said.

“Wonderful,” Alastor replied sarcastically. With that, the group trooped out of the doors and down the path to Hogsmeade. Alastor was pleased to note that Kelpie and Snape were nowhere in sight. He would’ve had their badges if they were still lolligagging around. After a quick stop at Hagrid's hut where the half-giant warily agreed to accompany them, the squad continued on to the small village and then portkeyed back to the Ministry.

oOo

Back at the Ministry, Alastor was pleased to see that Bones had anticipated their return, and had another full squad, helmed by the Abbotts, waiting at the portkey station.

Wilbert Abbot snapped off a salute to Alastor. “Master Auror Moody, we’re here to accompany Mister Hagrid to give his statement,” he said. “Ironbelly is to accompany Professor McGonagall, while you and the Headmaster proceed to Acting Commander Bones’ office, Sir.”

“Thank you Abbot,” Alastor replied. “Carry on.”

“Excuse me, but I would like to see Professor Snape before I see Miss Bones,” Dumbledore interrupted.

“I haven’t seen Snape,” Abbott replied, his expression slipping from polite respect to hard anger at the slight against Bones.

Alastor sneered. “Acting Commander Bones has requested a meeting with you, Headmaster Dumbledore, pursuant to the most recent terrorist attacks,” Alastor said sharply. “You are duty bound to report to her. Now you can either accompany me on your own two feet, or I can get you there the hard way.” He grinned in anticipation of the fight ahead.

“Albus!” McGonagall sounded scandalized. “I am sure that Severus will be fine, just as I and Rubeus will be.”

“I’m sure he will be, Ma’am,” Abbott’s wife, Miranda, said soothingly. “I believe he was already giving his statement before our team was summoned. And we’ll take right good care of you and Mister Hagrid.”

“So what’ll it be, Albus?” Alastor asked, drawing all eyes back to Dumbledore.

The old man had clearly been weighing the risks and benefits and, just like at Hogwarts, decided that compliance was the better option. “Of course I shall accompany you, Alastor,” he replied calmly, as though he was in charge and had not just been threatened by the Master Auror. “I was merely worried about my other Professor.”

“Right decent of you,” Alastor agreed with equal calm cheer, even as they split off from the teams and the witnesses they escorted.

Chapter Text

November 5, 1981

Late that night found Amelia Bones slumped over her desk. She had never been one for parchmentwork - throwing herself into the activities of battle after Fabien’s death - but that had just earned her commendations and a promotion to Assistant Head of the DMLE. The promotion had taken her out of the field and plunked her behind a desk full of the dratted stuff. And then with the revelations about Barty’s son, her elevation to Acting Head had seen her practically drowning in parchmentwork.

This night, however, really took the crup. She had stacks of parchment from the day’s various interviews and interrogations, dutifully copied by dictaquill. More than the mountain of notes, the thing that really weighed on her soul was the contents of the confessions.

Senior Aurors Dunbar and Moon, along with the rest of team Fairy, were the best interrogators in the DMLE, and they had been kept on the hop over the last 36 hours. After a bit of consideration, Amelia had decreed that all Death Eaters were to be questioned under Veritaserum. In many ways, this made the interrogations easier, as the prisoners were unable to lie. However, they also had to break the interrogations down into shorter sections, or risk an overdose. Plus, Healers from St. Mungo’s had to be on hand to monitor the prisoners’ vitals between doses.

First, there had been the capture of Peter Pettigrew; his initial questioning had been rushed through the afternoon of his capture in order to send any information he had strait to St. Mungo’s. The next morning, however, had come the more thorough questioning of his years with the Death Eaters.

Then Moody had shown up with that memory from young Harry Potter, leading to the arrest of Snape and the witness testimony of McGonagall and Hagrid.

If that wasn’t enough, just after lunch the Animagus ward on Diagon Alley had tripped, stunning a large black crow that was aiming for Gringotts. When team Augury had cast the Animagus-revealing spell and discovered Bellatrix Lestrange, it had caused almost as big an uproar in the DMLE as bringing in Snape had.

She was quickly bundled off to a cell and Amelia authorized her questioning.

Then, a tip off had lead to a raid in Knockturn Alley. A dozen Death Eaters were caught, including several prominent citizens like Lucius Malfoy, Rupert Parkinson, and the Carrow siblings. It was a huge boon to their cause, but it also meant more parchmentwork for Amelia, to authorize their arrest and questioning. All of which was hampered by the presence of Dumbledore in her office all day.

Thankfully, Moody had stalled him for quite a while, and Amelia’s assistant, Cadet Clearwater, had been her most solicitous and distracting. The two of them had gained Amelia almost an hour to initiate her plan.

Minister Bagnold was not without faults, Amelia knew, but the woman was also not fond of Dumbledore. They met on opposing sides of too many issues, but neither one had enough political clout to take down the other. In this, Bagnold would be an ally to Amelia. And, with the Minister meeting with Amelia, Dumbledore couldn’t protest to being made to wait even further.

Upon hearing the relevant part of the Witness accounts from Black and Moody, of the attack on the Potters, as well as Moody’s recounting of McGonagall’s accusations at Hogwarts, Bagnold was much more willing to take to politically dangerous step of angering Dumbledore. Once she was shown the part of Harry Potter’s memory that indicted Snape, she finally agreed to suspend Dumbledore’s position as Chief Warlock, providing that Amelia could get the Assistant Chief on board.

Amos Diggory was a Neutral, and inclined to believe the best of people, as most Hufflepuffs were. However, he also had a young son, and Amelia knew that if she could appeal to him as a father, she would have a chance.

He was quickly summoned to her office, yet again delaying Dumbledore’s meeting, much to Moody’s amusement. Again, Amelia laid out her preliminary evidence against Dumbledore. She explained to Diggory that, like Crouch, Dumbledore’s relationship with Snape clearly indicated a conflict in loyalty. He would need to recuse himself, either voluntarily or forcibly, until the Death Eater crisis was solved. It took a little more convincing by Amelia and Bagnold, but finally Diggory agreed to suspend Dumbledore.

With that done, Amelia cheerfully emerged from her office and commanded Moody, and the subtly waiting Opaleye and Vipertooth squads, to escort the Former Chief Warlock to his own null-magic cell for questioning.

With everything else going on that day, Dumbledore’s actual questioning wouldn’t happen until the next day, at the earliest, but at least now he was out of her hair and unable to interfere with the Snape case.

Just as the Ministry bells chimed six, a cadet began bringing in the reams of parchment from the day’s interrogations. Though she wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep, Amelia knew that the job came first. A quick floo call saw her sister-in-law passing her a warm dinner, and Amelia once again settled at her desk.

Perhaps the least sinister testimony of the day, at least on the surface, was McGonagall’s tale. She had come upon Dumbledore imparting instructions to Rubeus Hagrid on the night of the attack and had questioned him on it.

Dumbledore had lied to her, saying that Moody had contacted him, as the leader of the Order, after the attack had been mopped up. He had sent Hagrid to retrieve young Harry - at Moody’s suggestion - because he believed that few Death Eaters would be willing to attack the Half-Giant, and Dumbledore himself would be needed at the Ministry.

Having heard him mention Muggles, McGonagall had questioned Dumbledore further. He revealed that he intended Hagrid to take Harry to the house of his aunt, Lily's Muggle sister, Petunia.

At first McGonagall had left it at that, however upon returning to her rooms and thinking on it, she finally remembered a story Lily had told her. Apparently, Petunia had been quite upset when Lily went away to Hogwarts, feeling angry that she was not also a witch. Where their parents accepted Lily’s powers, Petunia became jealous and began to hate her sister.

While McGonagall was inclined to believe that Lily was overstating things slightly, she had been a teacher for several decades, and Lily was far from the first Muggleborn student to have trouble with a family member over her magic. Concerned about that, McGonagall looked in Lily's old school file and found their parents’ address. She made her way there, where Petunia now lived, and spent the day in her animagus cat form watching the family. She wanted to see if she could find any indication that Petunia would not transfer her disdain for Lily's magic to Harry

When McGonagall explained what she saw that day it appalled both the Aurors present at her statement, and Amelia upon reading it.

The family were the worst sort of Muggles; Petunia actively turning her nose up at several other people the least bit odd. She had been seen gossiping with a neighbor about a new family down the street who were “strange,” and Petunia complained that no such strange people should be allowed by their council.

The son was obviously spoilt and horrible, kicking his mother for attention and seen eating with terrible manners, despite being unhealthily overweight. The father was a braggart and appeared somewhat violent, if the road rage McGonagall had witnessed was any indication.

McGonagall was quite sure, and Amelia found she had to agree, that the Dursleys’ house would have been a less than ideal place for Harry to grow up.

According to McGonagall, when she returned to Hogwarts after observing the Dursleys for a day she again questioned Dumbledore about his choice, telling him what she had seen. He blew her off with a statement that Harry needed to be with his blood family; that only his blood kin could protect him from Voldemort's remaining followers. McGonagall’s argument that he seemed just fine at St mungo's with Sirius Black and Marlene McKinnon bore no weight with the Headmaster.

McGonagall had little else to divulge about Dumbledore's actions that night or his involvement with either the Fidelius Charm or Snape's spying activities, however Amelia had requested that should anything else arise she make herself available for further questioning. After the bombshell she had dropped that day, there was no telling what other tidbits she might have picked up without realizing it.

McGonagall had easily agreed before collecting Rubeus Hagrid and returning to the school.

The questioning of Rubeus Hagrid was even more disturbing. At first, the half-giant had simply repeated over and over again what a good man Dumbledore was. His blind devotion smacked a little too much of those under the Imperius curse and other compulsion spells. While those of mixed parentage were usually at least somewhat immune to such things, Dumbledore was a renowned Potions Master and Alchemist. His pet Death Eater, Snape, would also be fully capable of adjusting a potion to compensate for Hagrid's unique biology.

Thus, Amelia had sent for a specialist Healer from St Mungo's to check the man out before they continued his questioning. The Healer had found a very mild loyalty potion in Hagrid's system, but upon dispelling it with a flushing potion they found Hagrid still staunchly loyal to Dumbledore.

Determined to get to the bottom of everything, Dunbar had taken Hagrid down a rather unusual questioning path. She had inquired as to why Hagrid believed Dumbledore was such a good man. Over the course of the afternoon it came out that Hagrid had been expelled from Hogwarts for something he claimed not to have done. While the Headmaster at the time, Armando Dippet, had refused to listen, Dumbledore had been receptive to Hagrid's pleas of innocence.

Once it was proven that Hagrid had not committed the crime he was accused of, he was released from Azkaban. However Dippet had still refused to allow him back into Hogwarts. Something that Amelia now made a note of to investigate further when she had time.

Hagrid had forsaken his giant parentage to attend Hogwarts but with a snapped wand, he no longer fit into the Wizarding World. After a few years living with his father and working odd jobs, Hagrid had been approached by Dumbledore. The recently promoted Headmaster offered Hagrid a job at Hogwarts as the ground and games keeper. Hagrid was well aware that because of the combined prejudices over his parentage and his expulsion, it would be very unlikely for anyone else to give him a job in the Wizarding World, and quickly accepted.

Thus began his loyalty to Dumbledore; the man who believed him when it seemed that no one else did. While reading the transcript of his questioning, Amelia found herself making numerous notes. The first was to investigate the attack at Hogwarts that had seen Hagrid expelled. The large man knew very little about what happened and was willing to share even less save for a comment that he really didn't like the Dementors. At least it helped to explain his reticence around her people. For someone who had been arrested before - as a child - and thrown into Azkaban for something he didn’t do (as he claimed), Aurors were probably right up there with dementors as personal boogeymen.

The whole thing smelled fishy to Amelia. She made a further note to look up the records of Hagrid's trial; a child should never have ended up in Azkaban for anything short of the Unforgivables. Then there was the fact that Dumbledore seemed to have enough pull to get Hagrid out of Azkaban while still not getting him reinstated as a student at Hogwarts. Once he became Headmaster, and as Hagrid was only eighteen at the time, he should easily have been able to get the man an exemption to finish his studies and retain and re-select a new wand.

The entire incident felt like a bit of a setup to Amelia and after everything else she had heard that day she no longer believed Dumbledore incapable of ensnaring Hagrid in such a trap. In fact after hearing some of the information given by Sirius Black and Remus Lupin in regards to Peter Pettigrew, she suspected that Hagrid was not the only one that Dumbledore had set up in such a way to ensure their loyalty. But all of that would have to wait for another day.

When further questioned about Dumbledore's goodness Hagrid could only recite a list of the man's positions and better known accomplishments; defeating Grindelwald, achieving his seat on the IWC, becoming Chief Warlock, and being the Headmaster of Hogwarts. Dunbar and the Healer suspected the loyalty potion had been made in a very mild form and given to him over a span of years, thus ensuring his unwavering faith in Dumbledore without arousing suspicion.

Finally they had questioned Hagrid about the night of the Potters’ murder. Dumbledore had summoned to Hagrid to his office and given him a portkey to Godric's Hollow. he had instructed Hagrid to find the Potters’ cottage and retrieve young Harry as quickly as possible. He was then to use Muggle transportation to go to Number four Privet Drive in Surrey.

Professor McGonagall had entered the office just before this last command and had started asking questions. Dumbledore had then dismissed Hagrid with an injunction to hurry, while he stayed and talked to his Deputy. When Dunbar questioned Hagrid further, they discovered he had no idea how to operate Muggle transportation and had no idea how he was going to get Harry to Surrey, or even where Surrey was. He explained that once Sirius Black showed up he had thought to ask the man to borrow his flying motorcycle. However, before that he had had no plan in mind.

This information had completely bowled over Amelia and the others. It was almost as though Dumbledore expected or wanted Hagrid and the young Harry to get lost or waylaid on their way to the Muggle residence. There was also the question of why Dumbledore was sending Harry to a muggle residence, as opposed to a Wizarding one. Especially when Harry had two living Godparents and several Wizarding relatives almost as closely linked as the Dursleys, who would certainly make better guardians for a young magical baby.

And further, as one of the Aurors pointed out, with Hagrid taking Harry directly to the Dursleys he would not be seen by any magical Healer. Given that the lad had been at Saint Mungo's for several days now without being released, he clearly needed a thorough checking over. The idea that Muggles such as the ones McGonagall had described would think to take Harry to a Muggle healer for the trauma he had experienced, let alone a magical one, didn't wash.

And of course none of that explained how Dumbledore had known about the attack on the Potter's or the survival of Harry in the first place. Young Harry’s memory of Snape Portkeying away could explain it, but Amelia wanted more proof.

When questioned on this, Hagrid had simply replied that he didn't know but he trusted Dumbledore. When asked what he thought upon arriving at Godric's Hollow and finding no Aurors or Medics, or indeed anyone else there, Hagrid had simply shrugged and said ‘I didn't think of that.’

The whole thing was highly disturbing to Amelia. And that was before the testimony from Snape came in. He was still being interrogated as they had several years worth of Death Eater activities to account for. They had discovered in these situations that starting at the beginning was best to ensure that victims didn't omit any information.

While Veritaserum forced the truth out of those dosed with it, it did not detect lies of omission or misunderstandings. Starting from the beginning and going slowly through the timeline involved usually resulted in a more complete testimony. Unlike with Pettigrew, there was no need for immediate information to stop an attack, and since Dumbledore had been neutralized, they had plenty of time to work Snape over.

When Snape had been asked to talk about his first use of dark magic and had started talking about his tenth birthday, they knew that this questioning session was going to take a long time. With the dicta quills going full force and her interrogators substituting out in regular shifts as soon as the Healers okayed it, Amelia felt confident in saying that they would know the full truth by the end of the week.

In the meantime, Auror teams Basilisk, Graphorn, and Sphinx, helmed by Master Aurors Moody and Diggle were being sent out to collect anyone implicated of being a Death Eater. Teams Augury, Wampus, Manticore, and Runespore were patrolling Diagon Alley and its offshoots in shifts, while Lethifold and Cerberus were doing the same for Hogsmeade.

After thanking her for her help, Amelia had warned McGonagall that Snape and Dumbledore would not be returning anytime soon, but that she needed her Aurors back, and recommended canceling Potions class for the week if needed. McGonagall and Hagrid had returned to Hogwarts and relinquished both of the Aurors there, who had returned to the Ministry and, like the rest of Ironbelly, were on call.

After reading over the testimonies of McGonagall and Hagrid, Amelia also sent copies to Diggory, despite the late hour. Though the man had agreed to take over as the Acting Chief Warlock, he had insisted that it be on a “purely temporary basis,” until the “business with Snape” was sorted. Amelia hoped that, after reading the witness statements of McGonagall and Hagrid, and seeing the result of the later’s medical scans, Diggory would be less reticent.

While she initially wanted Dumbledore out of the way so that she could question Snape, it was becoming more and more clear to Amelia that the ancient wizard was involved in the attack on the Potters up to his neck. Stripped of his position as Chief Warlock, Dumbledore had no more legal bargaining chips, and Amelia intended to keep him that way. The wartime statute gave her the power to hold any witness or suspect for interrogation for up to a week without pressing charges, and she intended to keep Dumbledore for the entire week if needed.

Amelia intended to wait until they had all of Snape’s and Pettigrew’s testimonies, and knew exactly what Dumbledore was up to before preparing to interrogate him. Even without the power to stop her, Dumbledore was still a wily politician who had been playing the game for decades. Amelia had no intention of going into a conversation where he still held any cards. And if that meant that the former Chief warlock was cooling his heels in a null-magic cell for a week before she got to him, then that was his tough luck

While sticking to the minutiae of questioning session schedules, filling out parchmentwork, ordering more Veritaserum and Healers, and planning her next move against Dumbledore, Amelia was able to put from her mind the disturbing notion that the man - manipulatively speaking - might almost be as bad as either of the dark Lords he had fought against. However, the more she learned, the more she feared that was actually the case. And that fear, more than anything else, had her wanting to reach for the emergency bottle of firewhiskey she kept in the bottom drawer.

Chapter Text

November 8, 1981

As the sun disappeared from her magical window and the torches automatically ignited, Amelia didn’t even pause in her writing.

On the one hand, the last three days had been some of the most productive for the Light since the war with Voldemort began. Cadet Auror Jugson had suggested that each Death Eater interrogation begin with two simple questions: “Name every Death Eater and Supporter that you know of,” and “Name every Death Eater and Supporter that you suspect and why.”

They were astonishingly simple questions, and Amelia knew that Dunbar and Moon were kicking themselves for not having thought of them earlier. Implementing that saw Amelia inundated with the names of dozens of Death Eaters and more than twice that number of supporters. Any confirmed names were immediately arrested, while those only suspected were brought in as suspects for interrogation.

In fact, the null-magic cells in the DMLE had been completely filled, and Amelia had needed to resort to converting the abandoned offices and storage rooms on level Ten, with trainee aurors patrolling the floor.

In many cases, whole families had been brought in, and there was now a hastily arranged orphan’s ward at St Mungo’s. There the Death Eater’s children were housed until a non-Marked, non-Supporter family member could be found to take them in. Since all applicants had to undergo questioning by a Senior or Master Auror, and most of them were busy arresting people, it was a slow process.

The mass arrests had been a boon to the light side, but not without its cost. The cot in the corner of Amelia’s office attested to that.

It was her emergency cot, which Amelia used to get a quick kip in when pulling all-nighters. Currently, her young niece, Susan, slept fitfully on it, having cried herself to sleep earlier.

The Lestrange brothers had attacked Amelia’s brother and his family, intending to trade them for the release of Bellatrix Lestrange. When Edgar had managed to send Susan to Amelia, using their emergency portkey, the brothers had become enraged and killed their hostages.

Amelia had personally led Moody and Vipertooth squad, but had been too late to save Edgar and Clarice. Ironically, the Lestrange brothers had apparated back to their Manor, only to run into the squad sent there to arrest them. It had been too little, to late, for Amelia and Susan, but at least two more of the bastards were locked in her holding cells.

oOo

November 13, 1981

After the death of her family, Bones went after the Death Eaters tooth and claw. First she authorized Gringotts to temporarily lock down the vaults of every Death Eater and supporter named. Once they confessed to their crimes under veritaserum, the vaults were officially seized. The Goblins would then work with a team of unspeakables to search the vault for dark objects. All objects would be removed to the ministry for further assessment. Both the Goblin and unspeakable teams were paid from the confiscated vaults, with the remainder set aside for future heirs to claim.

Within a week, every person in the ministry not otherwise involved in hunting down Death Eaters, questioning them, or keeping the basic functions of their society running, was drafted into the DMLE.

Those of a studious nature, or a background in research, were set to pouring through Tom Riddle's history. Those with any substantial brewing ability were tasked with helping the Ministry Potions Masters make veritaserum, it's antidote, flushing potions, and various other brews for the department.

Several mind healers were drafted to the Riddle research team, while others assisted in the interrogations. Still other remained at St. Mungo’s, dealing with victims of the attacks, orphaned children, and those who had actually been placed under the Imperius curse.

Further teams were established to search the homes of every admitted Death Eater. This move was controversial with the Neutrals, and of course the Darker members of their society protested, but Bones stood firm. When the first list of confiscated items was read out before the Wizengamot, only the most die-hard of the Darker element abstained from voicing their support for Bones’ decision.

Anyone in the Ministry with defense or dark arts training was soon drafted into her department and sent either to Gringotts or to the raids of the Death Eaters homes, freeing up several Aurors from those searches. And a number of secretaries were drafted to assist in both the DOM and Amelia's office, keeping track of everyone else.

oOo

November 20, 1981

Within two weeks, the ministry holding cells were completely overstuffed, and by their best estimations, every known Death Eater, bar an elusive handful, was now off the streets.

Though Peter Pettigrew had certainly been a good start, It was really the capture of Bellatrix Lestrange that had been the linchpin of the Death Eater organization. When she was caught by the anti-animagus wards on Diagon Alley, they immediately questioned her.

Finding out that Bellatrix was a member of Voldemort's Inner Circle meant that her questioning under veritaserum was a gold mine. She was in command of dozens of Death Eater cells, and could name all of those beneath her. She had also been responsible for coordinating with several supporters, and was able to give those names as well.

While some of the names she provided, such as those of the Lestrange brothers, were unsurprising, some of Bellatrix's revelations left the Aurors speechless. For instance, she led them to the Death Eater among the unspeakables; Rookwood was the one who had passed information to Voldemort about the defenses Lily Potter had used, and the special Unspeakable portkey schema.

There were also several hostages within the Lestrange Manor, and Bellatrix revealed their presence. While a few were prominent members of the Light Side, two were goblins, which the Aurors found unusual. Bellatrix herself had captured them because, as she explained, Voldemort had left her a special object to be used to resurrect him if he ever fell. She believed that the goblins, as experts in Egyptian mummies and resurrection rituals, would be able to help her fulfill this request. Finding the horcrux in her vault had clarified her actions, though the Goblins she had captured were unaware that that was the object in question.

As more and more Death Eaters and Voldemort supporters were arrested, the remaining ones became increasingly desperate. Futile attacks on the Ministry and the Auror teams sent out to arrest them resulted in no success for the Dark side. However, several unknown supporters were revealed through their actions, and a of number of those who were only suspected of being Death Eaters were confirmed when they attacked.

However, the DMLE had run into a problem. There simply weren't enough trained interrogators, nor a big enough stockpile of veritaserum, to properly question each of the captured wizards and witches. Those who were not the Inner Circle were simply thrown into holding cells to wait their turn, while those widely believed to have more information were prioritized.

While a lower-level Death Eater like Pettigrew had only implicated Lucius Malfoy, questioning of Bellatrix revealed that both his wife Narcissa, and his father Abraxus were also Death Eaters, and that both Malfoy men were Inner Circle. When the team went to arrest Narcissa and Abraxus, they were not at home. By sheer coincidence, they had chosen that moment to approach Minister Bagnold with the intention of paying a bribe to get Lucius free. They claimed that Lucius was under the Imperius curse, and Bagnold agreed to free him without questioning, under that reasoning.

Upon hearing this, Amelia immediately authorized the Aurors to arrest the now former Minister Bagnold for corruption, and all three were tossed into holding cells. No one was escaping questioning under veritaserum; those who actually were under the imperius, such as those Bellatrix confessed to ensnaring, would be freed once the truth was confirmed.

With their leader, and tactical mind, dead, the Death Eaters were making stupid mistakes. Not that they weren’t dangerous when cornered, but them gathering in Knockturn Alley, attacking Order members in an attempt to find out the details of Voldemort’s death, and turning on each other for leniency when captured all made Moody’s job easier.

Several, like Pettigrew and Kakaroff, began singing as soon as they hit their cells, naming every other Death Eater they could think of, even without veritaserum. Others, like Malfoy and Parkinson, tried to buy their way out of punishment, claiming that they were under the Imperius curse, but Moody and Bones had two words for them; “prove it.”

The arrest of Narcissa and Abraxas, however, lead to a new problem. With no adult Malfoys free of prison, the question arose of what to do with their two-year old son. There were only three living Malfoys, and all were arrested. On Narcissa’s side, her sister Bellatrix and cousin Regulus where Death Eaters. Her parents were dead, and no one would leave a child with Walburga Black. That left only her sister, married to a muggleborn named Tonks, and Sirius Black remaining. Both had quickly agreed to initial questioning under veritaserum, and once each had sworn they were neither Death Eaters nor Supporters, they’d been allowed back to St. Mungo’s. Black, to hover beside Harry Potter again, and Andromeda Tonks to pick up her nephew.

More than one family went the way of the Malfoys, with only the children spared prison and sent to live with cousins while the rest were arrested. The Rosier, Avery, Lestrange, Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson, Carrow, Rowle, Dolohov, Mulciber, Pucey, Nott, Pyrites, Macnair, Travers, Wilkes, Dapworthy, Hilliard, Kegworth, Olney, McLaird, and Yaxley families were completely decimated. In many cases, such as those of Crabbe and Goyle, the wives were not Death Eaters themselves, but heavily involved supporters, which saw them also thrown into the Ministry holding cells. Of them, only the Lestrange, Travers, and Hilliard families did not have children.

Some of the darker members of the Wizengamot - those who remained after the culling of Voldemort's supporters - protested that in the cases where a family member was a supporter but not a full Death Eater, they should be freed from prison and their child returned. But Bones and Moody refused. Anyone who supported Voldemort was going to be held just as responsible for their crimes as those fanatical enough to be marked.

Initially an entire ward of St Mungo's was converted to hold these children, but their family members were quickly contacted. Once cleared by veritaserum questioning, confirming that they were not also Death Eaters or Voldemort supporters, they were allowed to take the children in. For some, the relation was more distant, as the darker pureblood families tended to intermarry closely, and the nearer family were also in jail or taking in other children.

For example, the next closest relative to take in Young Milis Dolohov or Orvis Kegworth were the Blacks. However, with Sirius Black taking in Harry Potter, and Andromeda Tonks taking in Draco Malfoy, neither was willing to take in the other boys. Both ended up with their more distant cousins, the Fudges. The MacDougal clan was the closest match for several groups; the Notts, Puceys, and Pyrites. As the latter were also related to the Diggorys, their three children went to Amos and his wife, while the three Nott children and two Pucey boys went to the two MacDougal brothers.

As the wives of Crabbe, Goyle, and Rosier were three of the seven Fawcett sisters, it was easy to place their three sons with the various Fawcett families. Avery and Rowle’s wives were both Greengrasses, with Rowle’s daughter going to the older brother and Avery’s two to the younger. Similarly, several other children went to their mother’s families; Pansy Parkinson to the Clearwaters, Amry Carrow to the Cresswells, Jewel Wilkes to the Selwyns, Edward Olney to the Boles, and Anador Macnair to the Ogdens.

The last few to be worked out were tracked down with a little help from the Goblin’s inheritance department; its magic was clearer than some of the tangled family trees on file with the Ministry. Through that process, Dagmar Mulciber ended up with the Runcorns, the Dapworthy boys with the Malkins, Hamilton Yaxley with the Warringtons, and the three McLaird children with the Prescotts. The final arrangements were made by mid-December, and the ward at St. Mungo’s was finally able to resume its normal duties by Christmas.

Of course, as with Harry Potter and Susan Bones, many families on the Light side had been completely decimated by Death Eaters, and their surviving children placed with relatives as well. However, those placements had always been made immediately after the individual attacks occurred. Thus, the mass of Death Eater arrests was the largest single rehousing of the war.

oOo

November 21, 1981

With Bagnold and several of her top undersecretaries under arrest for bribery, an interim Minister was needed. With both Amelia and Diggory acting as head of the DMLE and Wizengamot, respectively, now all three of the highest positions in their government would have been replaced.

At the emergency wizengamot session to pick Bagnold’s successor, Amelia and Moody were both determined to get the right person into the job. That half of the darker members were currently in holding cells certainly made their job easier, however several of the neutrals were concerned about the harsh line they were taking.

Finally, after a few hours debate, the Elder Greengrass brother, Matthias, was chosen to be the interim Minister. He was a Neutral, which pleased that faction. He had also been completely cleared of any involvement with Voldemort, before being allowed to take in his niece, which pleased those on the Light. And he was a pureblood from one of the old families, which somewhat mollified those of a darker persuasion. In all, he was probably the best any of these three factions could hope for.

As soon as the Wizengamot session was over, Greengrass, Bones, and Diggory met in the Minister's office.

Having just learned that Voldemort had some kind of connection with Dementors, and hearing claims from several of his followers that he could control them, Amelia urged Minister Greengrass to remove the creatures from Azkaban. He hesitated at first, knowing that the Aurors were already spread too thin as it was. However, as other Departments of the Ministry had been drafted in to help, including the Auror Cadets and trainees, he relented. While several Dementors were kept on hand for those prisoners who earned a kiss, they were no longer the main guards of the prison.

As the DMLE finished questioning each captive in the Ministry holding cells, they would be sent to Azkaban. Those who had committed murder, or used the Unforgivables, would be sentenced to immediately receive a Dementor’s Kiss. Supporters of a less violent nature would simply be sentenced to life in prison. As Amelia had sworn before, anyone who proved under veritaserum that they had been acting under the imperius curse, or other strong compulsion spells and potions, would be freed.

Now completely convinced by the initial testimony of Snape and Pettigrew that Dumbledore was at the least hiding something, Diggory had quit protesting his promotion and given Amelia carte blanche to continue her investigation. Greengrass also quickly approved of the measures that Amelia was taking with regards to the Death Eaters. So, with the support of the acting Minister and Chief Warlock, and assured that neither would take bribes or otherwise work against her plans, Amelia was able to continue to push forward with the arrests and interrogations.

Chapter Text

November 22 1981

Moody growled as he read the summary of Snape’s testimony. Here was a man trained from before he started Hogwarts, to hate those considered beneath him. His father was as bigoted as any pure-blood, believing in the supremacy of Muggles over those with magic. Snape seemed to have jumped into the pureblood cause with open arms despite his childhood friendship with a young Lily Evans.

That tidbit alone had filled in some blanks.

What was most disturbing about Snape’s Hogwarts years was the games the Headmaster appeared to be playing. Amelia as a Hufflepuff and Moody as a Ravenclaw had been largely largely immured from the Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry in their years at Hogwarts. However seeing through the eyes of a Slytherin made them realize that there was so much more going on behind the scenes.

And most disturbingly, Dumbledore did not discourage it but seemed to encourage and even deliberately inflame it. When Snape told the story of Black sending him to face a werewolf the interrogators couldn't believe that he had not been punished. What's more, Snape's almost gleeful recitation of the so-called pranks he had played on Potter and his friends both before and after the incident was disturbing to hear.

Alastor and Bones both agreed that a schoolchild prank was common, even expected. However they both defined prank as something that couldn't cause lasting damage. The war - and there was no better word for it - between Potter's gang and Malfoy's at Hogwarts could have resulted in permanent disfigurement and even death on a practically monthly basis.

Snape had attempted to list only the pranks played against him by the Gryffindor quartet but the interrogators had closed that loophole of omission and forced him to reveal his own actions. It was no wonder that Black had tried to set a werewolf on the boy! Had he done a tenth of the things to Moody that he had done to Potter and Black, Alastor would have seriously considered setting a werewolf on Snape himself.

Snape's disgust that Lupin had been allowed to finish school instead of being thrown in Azkaban or beheaded had also raised some questions. Bones had shared her theory on Hagrid, and Alastor agreed that Lupin was another who would feel beholden to Dumbledore. As the only werewolf to ever attend Hogwarts, and as he had been discriminated against since his graduation, Lupin was bound to feel indebted to the Headmaster who had allowed him into Hogwarts.

While Alastor was not inclined to trust anyone with creature blood, he was certainly willing to acknowledge that Lupin had not committed any crimes at Hogwarts. In fact, Black had been the one to trick Snape into going near the transformed werewolf in the first place. Snape's insistence that an innocent boy be killed for that rubbed Alastor the wrong way.

However he knew there were several in the Wizengamot who would agree with Snape, regardless of Lupin’s actual involvement in the incident. And Lupin would surely know it too, having faced anti-werewolf discrimination for most of his life. The fact that he had not been reported for the incident was certainly due to some back-room shenanigans by Dumbledore.

On the one hand, Alastor was inclined to believe that Snape had been well set on the Dark path as a child, thanks to his father's manipulations. On the other, had Snape not spent seven years fighting against the lauded Gryffindor Light side, he might not have become an active and remorseless Death Eater.

Alastor wasn't the type to give an enemy a second chance, or to be anything but suspicious about someone until proven they could be trusted, but even he wouldn't have treated an eleven-year-old the way Snape admitted that he and the Gryffindors treated each other.

Given the man’s history, Alastor might even be inclined to think that Snape could be redeemed as Dumbledore seemed to believe. Snape had gotten an inauspicious start in life from his father, but he also seemed to have a genuine love of Lily Potter - whom he continued to call Evans even under veritaserum.

However one thing Snape could not do was lie about his emotions and hearing that he believed that Lily would finally come to love him after the death of her husband and son was unforgivable. The glee he expressed upon seeing James Potter dead, the disdain he felt for any of his victims, and the way he argued that Lily was different simply because she had been his first before Potter’s, characterized a man with no morals or remorse.

Alastor was appalled at the knowledge that this man was teaching children at Hogwarts. True, Snape was a Potions Master, but being certified to brew complex potions did not equate to having the temperament to teach. Nor did having the qualifications or ability to teach mean that he was experienced enough to be a Head of House.

This concern was borne out when they got to questioning Snape about his actions at Hogwarts. He confessed to deliberately terrorizing the children in his classroom, especially those in Gryffindor. He admitted to sabotaging potions, changing grades, taking points for spurious reasons, and generally making life miserable for three-quarters of the students under his care. When asked if he knew that he was sabotaging their career goals, as so many fields required a Potions NEWT, Snape admitted that he knew, but simply did not care.

As the Head of Slytherin, he encouraged his students to bully Gryffindors. He refused to take points from, or assign detentions to, his own House, unless another Professor complained to Dumbledore. He had overlooked several criminal behaviors from his students, including assault, attempted murder, and rape.

He also confessed to fantasizing about the horrors he intended to inflict upon the children of his school-year enemies, once they reached Hogwarts. He intended to spend the next decade coming up with particularly “fitting” torments for Harry Potter, and any future spawn of Black or Lupin. His rapturous emotion when explaining that sicked his interrogators.

Snape even confessed that the story he told Dumbledore to prove his remorse and regret at becoming a Death Eater was falsified. He smugly related that Dumbledore didn't even question him under Veritaserum, but simply performed legitimacy on him. Having been trained in the art since childhood by his mother, Snape had easily forged the required memories and emotions and kept Dumbledore from seeing his true intentions and feelings.

Alastor knew that, though he might have been fooled then, Dumbledore couldn't be oblivious to his spy’s actions since becoming a professor and Head of House. It was clear that Dumbledore had a plan of his own, using Snape’s actions for his own means, just as he had encouraged the Slytherin-Gryffindor rivalry for so many years.

There was also the question of why Dumbledore had made Snape the head of Slytherin in the first place. Moody could see giving a spy a job at the castle and he could even acknowledge the logic in not wasting a certified Potions Master as a caretaker. However there was no justifiable reason to give the 21 year-old the Head of House position. A first-year teacher should never be given so much responsibility, even if he did have the temperament for it, and there were at least three other Slytherins on staff who could have taken over for Slughorn.

No by giving Snape so much power it was clear that Dumbledore was continuing his games with Gryffindor and Slytherin, pushing the two Houses together at every turn and encouraging the extreme bullying that had characterized the last decade.

Moody wasn't sure what Dumbledore was up to but he was fairly confident that the Headmaster was using Snape for his own ends at Hogwarts as much as he was using him against the Dark Lord Voldemort.

oOo

However, Dumbledore’s actions with Snape at Hogwarts were just the appetizer. The main course was his work with the Order of the Phoenix. Once Snape “proved” his loyalty to Dumbledore, he was treated almost as a confidant or advisor. Dumbledore had discussed strategy and plans with him, and had made Snape, under concealment, privy to several confidential meetings.

Because of this, Snape knew more about the order’s plans and members than anyone, bar Dumbledore himself. And under Veritaserum he confirmed everything that they had so far learned about the attack on the Potters. Then Snape revealed another damning bit of Dumbledore's plan.

When Dumbledore first convinced the Potters and Longbottoms to go under the Fidelius Charm, he had believed the Potters would use Black as their Secret Keeper. He had tried to suggest that the Longbottoms use any number of Order Members, but they had insisted on Augusta. Dumbledore knew he could not get either Secret Keeper to betray their family, so he intended to ask both for a written copy of the Secret, just for “emergencies.”

Dumbledore would then leave the parchments where Snape could find them while “searching” his office, thus allowing Voldemort access to the two families. As Snape explained, when the Potters switched to Pettigrew, Dumbledore had been thrilled that this would allow him to advance both of his spies. Pettigrew could give up the Potters while Snape could give up the Longbottoms. Snape himself was angry at this turn of events, as he didn’t care about the Longbottoms, but wanted to be the one to personally lead to James Potter’s death.

Dumbledore had done this kind of thing before, using Snape to reveal certain plans of the Order to Voldemort so that he could cement his position as a spy. Snape listed these missions, including the one that had gotten the Prewitt twins killed.

Alastor had almost needed to stun Bones when she heard that, to keep her from storming down to the interrogation cells and strangling Dumbledore with her bare hands. Not that Alastor could blame her, after she had lost her fiance to Dumbledore's machinations of his Order. Alastor was questioning many of his own conversations with Albus and the missions he had accepted for the Order, but he could wait until they got Albus dosed to the gills with Veritaserum.

Though he had already guaranteed both himself and likely Dumbledore a date with a Dementor, Snape’s questioning wasn’t over, and neither were the shocking revelations.

Though several in the Order of the Phoenix knew that some kind of Prophecy had come into play towards the end of the war, none knew more than that. Or so Alastor thought. However, Black and the McKinnon lass had both mentioned a prophecy and said it applied to the Potter and Longbottom boys. Snape had even more information.

When the Divination teacher decided to retire, Dumbledore - for some indecipherable reason - had Snape hide and observe the interviews for his replacement. During one of these interviews, the Prophecy had been made. Dumbledore had quickly cast a muffling spell on Snape, but he had heard the first line. Snape never learned the full Prophecy, but had been allowed by Dumbledore to reveal what he knew to Voldemort. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...

Even with that limited amount of information, someone as smart as Tom Riddle would be able to make the same connections that Dumbledore had, pinpointing the impending birth of the Potter and Longbottom babies.

For some reason, despite knowing that Riddle would figure it out, Dumbledore did not forbid his spy from revealing the information. Nor did he obliviate the information from Snape. Snape had confirmed that Dumbledore had no qualms about obliviating the Hogwarts professors or Order members when they disagreed with him, so he was fully capable of removing the prophecy from Snape’s mind.

Learning that Dumbledore had allowed Voldemort to learn of the prophecy made it clear that Dumbledore had all but painted the target on the Potters and Longbottoms himself. He could have kept the information from Voldemort and there would never have been a need for the Fidelius in the first place.

The list of things they had to question Dumbledore about just kept growing longer and longer, and Alastor was having a harder and harder time seeing the old man's actions as Light.

Chapter Text

December 2, 1981

 

While the arrests and interrogations continued as quickly as the Ministry was able, the Horcrux team lead by Mattie McKinnon and Rotclaw was not idle.

The authorization of the DLME and Gringotts to search every Death Eater home and vault was resulting in thousands of items arriving at the Department of Mysteries for classification. Having drafted anyone who was able to cast the detection spells into the office, and a brace of undersecretaries with dictaquills to properly label each item, the DOM got down to the business of sorting out centuries of Dark objects.

It was during this operation that two more items were found with readings that confounded the basic scans. A cup, found in the Lestrange Vault, and a journal found in Malfoy's Manor were both confirmed to be horcruxes; these were immediately handed over to the advanced team that McKinnon and Rotclaw had created.

With them, the horcrux team was able to refine their original arithmatic equations and confirm the number of soul splits Voldemort had made. McKinnon was also able to pinpoint where in Voldemort's timeline each horcrux they had, had been made. The one in young Harry Potter was obviously the last, and it became clear that the diary was in fact the first.

McKinnon explained that they couldn't have gotten a better example to trace back from. They now knew that a second horcrux had followed the diary, proceeding the cup. The others they were seeking fell between the cup and Harry Potter. This gave the DMLE’s research team a good idea of how to narrow down their search for more objects. The magical signature on the diary confirmed that it had been made when Voldemort was still underage, heavily implying that it had been created at either Hogwarts or his summer residence.

By completing some truly migraine-inducing calculations, McKinnon's team was able to establish that the cup was made when Voldemort was roughly 22 or 23, putting the second horcrux somewhere between there and 16 to 18, when it was believed the diary was created. The research team was instructed to delve deeply into Voldemort’s life at that age, in the hopes of tracking down his second horcrux.

It was also telling that both of these early horcruxes had been given to his followers. To Moody it indicated either a complete lack of concern for the security of the items, or an overabundance of trust in his followers. No one could picture Voldemort as overly trusting, yet the fact that he had attempted to make seven horcruxes to anchor his soul implied he thought extremely highly of the items. It was truly a puzzle.

Adding to the mystery, one of the undersecretaries accidentally dripped ink onto the diary, causing it to write back. This led to very carefully observed sessions of communication between the Unspeakables and the diary. All involved were concerned that the diary could be capable of possessing someone who spoke to it, so the exercise was undertaken with much caution. The diary quickly revealed that the name on the cover, Tom Marvolo Riddle, was not that of another of Voldemort's victims but in fact the name of the soul in the diary. While he would not confirm to the unspeakables that Tom Riddle was indeed Voldemort, there could simply be no other explanation for the spirit of that boy to be in Voldemort's horcruxes.

Now knowing Voldemort's real name, this lead the DMLE to search Hogwarts’ records for more information about the Tom Riddle boy. They discovered that he was an orphan, and that his home before Hogwarts and during the summers was an orphanage in London. An Auror team immediately went to scout out the orphanage, only to find that it had since been razed and turned into a garden center. Disappointed, the team concluded that there would be no evidence to be found there.

When it came to light that Tom Riddle had been present for the mysterious attacks on the school in 1942 and 1943, and had been the one to point the finger at Rubeus Hagrid for causing those attacks, it added another layer of suspicions to that already confusing series of events.

When it was mentioned, the Diary took great delight in offering to show the scene with Hagrid to the person communicating with it. After much debate, a volunteer, cloaked in as many protective spells as the team could imagine, agreed to let himself be sucked into the Diary’s memory.

Upon emerging and removing the, for want of a better word, hooks, that the diary had put into his soul, the volunteer then shared that memory with the others. It became increasingly obvious that Rubeus Hagrid had not been responsible for the death of the girl, and one of the the DMLE’s legal teams was sent to Hogwarts to speak to the half-giant again.

The smug attitude of the Diary made it exceedingly clear that he had been responsible for the attacks on the school and the death of the girl, only pinning the blame on Hagrid when he found out that the school would be closed as a result. A mind-healer from St Mungo's, brought in to help with the Diary, put forth the idea that, having grown up in an orphanage, Tom Riddle saw Hogwarts as his first true home. Thus he would fight to protect it, and his ability to return the following year. This need to retain his connection to Hogwarts trumped his need to attack those he considered unworthy at the school.

At first the team posited that the death of the girl had been the occasion Tom Riddle used to split his soul for the first time and create his first horcrux. However after seeing the memory, which occurred after the death of the girl, it became quite clear that the soul split could not have happened at that time, or the memory could not be in the diary. However it did give them a clear indication of Tom Riddle's age and, combined with his school records, helped to narrow down their focus for the death that created this horcrux.

One of the members of the Unspeakable team was discussing the problem with Moody and several of the other older Aurors over a late night repast when one of them, Bob Ogden, suddenly bolted upright in his chair. The names Marvolo and Riddle rang a bell, and he scrambled to recall why. A quick check back through the Department's files gave them a valuable new lead.

Bob had been investigating a Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt for Muggle-baiting a man named Tom Riddle. During that investigation it came out that the daughter loved Riddle. A fight ensued and both Gaunt men had been arrested. Upon being released from Azkaban, the son, Morfin, returned to the area and soon murdered the entire Riddle family. It was an open-and-shut case. The team thought it was highly likely that the Tom Marvolo Riddle of the Diary who became Voldemort was somehow related to these two families.

The Gaunt name drew great interest from the Unspeakables, as the Gaunts were the last strong line of descendants from Salazar Slytherin. Despite becoming so inbred that the line could not sustain itself, they had fiercely maintained their pride in their ancestry.

The revelation that Voldemort might indeed be a legitimate descendant of Salazar Slytherin, something he had always claimed, also cast a new light on the other horcrux they had. The cup had been identified as the cup of Helga Hufflepuff, stolen from her remaining descendants several decades ago. That had been another open-and-shut case, where a house elf was accused of killing his mistress. Despite the creature’s protests, it was quickly killed and the case declared solved.

With the questions swirling about the case against Rubeus Hagrid, and the cases of the Gaunts against the Riddles, it now looked like another death could possibly be laid at the feet of Voldemort.

Indeed, the Unspeakables speculated that the death of the Hufflepuff descendent, Hepzibah Smith, could have been the death used in creating the cup horcrux. That would also strongly indicate that the incident with the Riddles was the progenitor of the Diary horcrux, and possibly of the horcrux between the two.

The research team discovered that Tom Riddle had worked at Borgin and Burkes after graduation, and that Smith had been a frequent customer of theirs. This knowledge saw several things began to fall into place.

Much of Riddle’s early life before Hogwarts was still a mystery, but things were becoming clearer. His life after Hogwarts they were now piecing together, as well as the origins of the first few known horcruxes. The team was feeling quite confident about their quest for the rest of the items.

Emotions took an even more jubilant turn when the raids on the various Death Eater properties continued to bring in dark objects for the team to analyze. At first no new horcruxes were found, though plenty of equally Dark objects were safely stored in the lower levels of the Department of Mysteries. However, things always seemed to come back to the Blacks. Bellatrix Black Lestrange had the cup, Narcissa Black Malfoy’s husband had the diary, and as the team discovered, Regulus Black appeared to have the next horcrux.

As part of their search, the team had asked Sirius Black for more information about his family members who had become Death Eaters. He informed them that Bellatrix and Narcissa’s parents had lived on a Black family estate in Wiltshire, but that it was far more likely that either woman would have hidden things at the Lestrange and Malfoy residences. Nevertheless, he suggested that they talk to his Great Uncle Arcturus for access to his aunt and uncle’s property.

When asked where his brother lived after completing Hogwarts, Black had informed them that his brother never left the family home in London. But, he warned, that would be impossible to search, as his mother was completely mad and would never let them enter her house. He wasn’t sure she was an actual Death Eater, as she might still have enough pride not to submit to anyone else, but she was certainly a rabid supporter, and had pushed his brother into joining the Death Eaters.

Sirius again suggested going to his great uncle who, while certainly a blood supremacist and a dark wizard, did not believe that Blacks should sully themselves by bowing to another and thus disapproved of the family association with Voldemort on principle.

Arcturus Black had indeed given the Auror teams permission to search his daughter's house for any items of Voldemort's that could be found, but forbid them from removing any Black property unless they could prove it was Regulus’s and not that of a different family member who had not been implicated as a Death Eater. While they disliked this caveat, the team took what they could get.

At the Black family Manor in London, where Sirius and Regulus had been raised, the team was met by their mother, Walburga Black. As Sirius had indicated, she was less than willing to invite them into her house, however, with the presence of Arcturus Black at their side, she had no choice.

When the team explained that they were only looking for items belonging to Voldemort, and not going to touch any Black property, she still refused to calm down. She screamed for a house elf, ordering him to kick the Aurors out onto the street. However the elf itself gave them a pleading look as it very slowly, and in a deliberately stalling way, moved to escort the team out.

Arcturus was not the longest-living Black in recent generations for nothing; his sharp old eyes caught the same thing that Moody saw. As the head of the Black house, he could countermand the orders that any in his clan gave to their elves. He demanded the elf stop and tell them everything it knew about Voldemort's items. Moody was forced to silence Walburga as she screamed obscenities at the elf when it obeyed.

What followed was a simply unbelievable tale, as the elf begged them to help him fulfill the last order of his master, Regulus. Having heard what they came to do, and knowing that his master had died for one of the Dark Lord’s objects, the elf had seen this as his best chance to fulfill his duty.

Upon finding out that the elf actually knew where Voldemort had originally stored that horcrux, the team requested he assist them in tracking it down. When the elf popped away to retrieve the item, Walburga, incensed, flung her shawl at the returning creature. Before the elf could dissolve into a pathetic mess upon being freed, Arcturus quickly returned it to the Black family, under the direction of Sirius. He then commanded the elf to continue to assist the Aurors in taking care of Regulus’s last wish.

As Dawlish described it, one might suspect the creature's head would spin off, so quick were its mood changes to that series of events. However, it finally composed itself enough to hand them the device. The locket was immediately confirmed as a horcrux, and the Unspeakable team quickly worked out that it was the last horcrux created before the attack on the Potters.

The elf had then lead the Auror team to the original location of the locket, where they discovered a highly enchanted cave at a Muggle seaside resort. it took the Hit Wizards and Curse Breakers several days to safely bring down all of the enchantments, but they finally gained full entry. Once there, they discovered a giant subterranean lake full of inferius.

Fortunately, Gringotts had a special means of settling inferius without destroying them. This was useful in searching tombs, where any spell that would be destructive enough to take down an inferius would also run the risk of collapsing the tomb or triggering more traps. This crystalline powder, when flung at an inferius and accompanied by an activation spell, would freeze them in place. By dumping the powder in the lake, they were able to target all of the inferius at once and freeze them in their watery grave. The team was then able to drain the water from the lake and retrieve the bodies unharmed. These were transported back to the ministry for safekeeping. Once everything else calmed down and the DMLE had a bit more time on their hands, they could use these bodies to put to rest several missing persons cases.

The inferius having been taken care of, the team was able to safely make their way to the island in the center of the cavern that the elf had described. There they found a highly enchanted plinth which took another full day's work to dispel. Once that was done, and regulus black’s locket retrieved and returned with the elf to Sirius, the horcrux team fully examined the space.

They, as yet, could not figure out the significance of this as a hiding place, but the fact that Regulus Black had been the one to provide the house elf to assist in its set up again reinforced the connection to the Black family. However, as the locket had not been given to Regulus himself for safekeeping, as and as it in fact had been layered with a staggering amount of protections, it made the team seriously question the fact that Bellatrix and the Malfoys had possessed the other two horcruxes.

It was a contradictory view of Voldemort's mind that made the search all the harder. Without being able to say if Voldemort would casually trust his other followers, or hide his horcruxes behind nearly impervious defences, it reopened pretty much the entire country for potential locations of future horcruxes.

One Curse Breaker had put forth the idea that the horcruxes might not be only limited to the British Isles, as Voldemort had spent quite some time on the continent traveling, between his disappearance as Tom Riddle and his reemergence as Lord Voldemort. However, McKinnon and Rotclaw were able to squash that idea rather quickly. Since Voldemort had decided to make so many horcruxes, it meant that they were, after the first, inherently less stable than a typical horcrux. They would need to be kept inside a relatively small circumference or risk deactivation, premature activation, and complete rupture of the Soul.

This risk became obvious when the basic arithmetic equations were worked out on the possibility of splitting the soul multiple times, so there was no way a brilliant student like Tom Riddle would have missed that potential issue. He would certainly want to keep all of his horcruxes within the same geographic area, and since three had already been found in Britain, four with Harry, it was as certain a thing as they could say that the rest were here as well.

The locket, upon closer inspection, was found to belong to Salazar Slytherin. The research team determined that it had been sold to Hepzibah Smith several decades prior, and had likely been stolen by Tom Riddle at the same time that he acquired the cup.

It was when carrying out further research into the Gaunt family just after the New Year that the team made the next big discovery. An investigative team looking for the Gaunt family’s old shack encountered extremely strong wards around the property. They called in the ward-breaking team, who spent almost a week dismantling the particularly vicious traps around the hovel.

Having the same signature trace and intensity as the wards at the cave with the inferi lake, the team was hopeful that they had discovered another horcrux.

Once the wards were finally disabled, and a nest of large, vicious cobras were destroyed, the team managed to get inside the Gaunt shack. There they discovered a ring, identifiable from the memory of Bob Ogden as belonging to Marvolo Gaunt.

The ring was quickly identified as the missing link between the diary and the cup. It was also identified by the research group as being another relic of Salazar Slytherin. With this confirmed link to the founders bringing the total to four, the quest began to narrow down all of the remaining legacies of the Hogwarts Founders.

After several weeks of research, it took a cadet auror to ask the obvious. If Voldemort hadn’t been intending to make Harry Potter into the next horcrux, what had he intended to use?

Voldemort’s effects had been stripped from his corpse, checked for dark magic, and then put into a box for safe keeping. Retrieving the box, they found a golden band in the pocket of his robes. The research team quickly identified it as one of Godric Gryffindor’s arm torcs.

It had been passed down through the Gryffindor family for generations, but had been presumed lost during a Muggle war when the Manor of Exavius Potter was destroyed.

No one knew what had happened to the torc after that, as Exavius and his family had been killed, but they now suspected that some Muggle had scavenged the torc from the ruins. How Voldemort had then traced it down, no one knew.

Still, with items confirmed to belong to Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor, the team focused their research on Ravenclaw. Her known relics included a battle stave, two notable rings, several journals, a diadem, and a handful of miscellaneous jewelry.

The journals, like those of the other founders, were in the Headmaster’s private collection at Hogwarts, where only the Headmaster and deputy could access them. It was highly unlikely that Voldemort would have ever gotten his hands on them. The battle stave and the Ravenclaw family ring were confirmed to still be in the Ravenclaw vault at Gringotts. Rowena’s wedding ring had been passed down through the family for several generations before being broken and reformed; the team thought that Voldemort was unlikely to want something that was no longer in its original form, and so held off on tracking it down.

The diadem and various other pieces of jewelry, including several necklaces, some bracelets, and at least one pair of earrings, had also been passed down to a variety of descendants. The team began the painstaking process of tracking each item down.

Meanwhile, a secondary research team was working on potential locations for horcruxes, and another was pouring over the veritaserum transcripts to see if there might be another Death Eater that Voldemort would have trusted with his soul. The location team had several Mind Healers and the parent of a Muggleborn who specialized in child psychology.

Together, they reasoned that, following on the significance of the Founders items, and the location of one horcrux at the Gaunt hovel, it was likely that Voldemort would want to place a horcrux at Hogwarts. Riddle’s desire to remain at Hogwarts overruled his desire to kill when he was a teen, and the connection to the Founders was indisputable. Finding out that Riddle had applied for the Defense job from Dumbledore upon his first return from the continent just solidified their theory.

Chapter Text

February 1982

The interrogation of Dumbledore filled in many of the blanks that the DMLE was scrambling to decipher, but it seemed that three new questions arose for every one that was answered. Even the most innocuous appearing questions seemed to reveal a tangle of information and dubious decisions on Dumbledore’s behalf.

Once the dictaquills were set up and the veritaserum administered, Senior interrogator Violet Dunbar began with what she thought would be an easy question. “Did you know that Petunia had issues with magical people?”

Dumbledore easily replied, “Oh yes. She was quite vocal in her dislike and eventual hatred of magic.”

“How long had you known about this?”

“Lily confided in her head of house, Professor McGonagall when she was a student. Later, when she was in the Order and we were talking about using the Fidelius Charm, she told me that her sister would be of no help, and that for all intents and purposes she had been an only child since the age of eleven.”

“Then why did you intend to place Harry Potter with Petunia?” Violet asked.

“I had hoped that, because of her hatred of magic, she would repress Harry’s burgeoning magic. He was quite powerful, but I thought her hate would be stronger. If not, I could reinforce it.”

Violet paused for a moment to reorganize her thoughts. Finally, though, she asked the first one that had popped into her head. “Why?”

“The prophecy says that Harry will have a power that Voldemort knows not. I believe that power is of an obscurial.”

Violet glanced to her side, but Kelly Moon looked just as confused by the word. “And what is an obscurial?” she asked.

“An obscurial is a magical child whose core has been repressed to the point that it develops into essentially a magical bomb.” Dumbledore easily replied.

“And if Harry Potter became an obscurial, what would you do?”

“I would come rescue Harry, being seen as his savior. Then I would throw him at Voldemort and watch the implosion from a safe distance.”

Taking a quick break, Violet and Kelly joined Amelia Bones and Alastor Moody on the other side of the interrogation room window. “We’ve never heard of it either,” Bones quickly confirmed. “I sent McKinnon back to the Department of Mysteries to inquire of his coworkers.”

Information on obscurials was so rare that they had to comb through the Department of Mysteries to find an Unspeakable who had studied them. Finally, almost an hour later, a cloaked man, who simply asked to be called Croaker, joined the group in Bones’ office.

“While obscurials do indeed exist, and have been quite common in years past, there is no proven “formula” to create them,” Croaker explained. “There is no guarantee that sending Harry to live with Muggles who hate magic would result in him becoming an obscurial.”

“In fact, there is every chance that, while suffering abuse, Harry's magic could lash out at his relatives, killing them. Another possibility is that Harry would develop his magical core normally but begin down the path of a Dark Lord. Or he could develop into an abused child who was just not an obscurial, or one of a hundred other permutations.” Croaker concluded.

Frustrated with that avenue, and even more upset about what Dumbledore had planned to do to young Harry, Amelia turned sharply to Violet and Kelly. “Alright. If this information on obscurials is so rare, I want to know, one, how Dumbledore know of them in the first place, and two, why he believed that Harry becoming an obscurial was the path to destroying Voldemort.”

Both women nodded and hurried back to the interrogation room. Once Dumbledore was ready again, Kelly began the questioning. “How did you come to know about obscurials?”

“My sister was one. She had a severe mental defect that kept her from being able to train her magic. My mother stayed with her at all times. When her core finally became too unstable, it killed my sister and mother. I’ve spent much of my time since devoted to researching the phenomenon.”

“And why did you think that this was the specific power needed to defeat Voldemort?” Violet asked.

“Because obscurials are so rare, I believe this would be an area foreign to Tom. Riddle was a prodigious seeker of knowledge, but only that which was applicable to adult Wizards. I believe that Riddle would not have researched something that occurred to children, especially as most imploded before puberty.”

“What about the magical shield or whatever it was that Lily created? Did Snape tell you about that? Wouldn’t that have protected Harry?”

“Snape did tell me about the orange power that lashed out at him, and I was aware of it. I planned to use it to fuel a shield around the entire Dursley residence. This special blood ward would work to hide Harry's presence from everyone I keyed in and those I didn’t.”

Moon and Dunbar exchanged another look. That odd phrasing bore further looking into. “How would keying the wards work?” Violet asked.

“In general, those not keyed into the wards could not pass them, and those keyed in could. However, it is also possible to create a key to those who especially needed to be kept out, making the wards react violently to them, instead of just rebuffing them.”

“So you were going to include certain people as acceptable to these wards, and include certain others as major dangers?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

“I was going to use Severus’s Dark Mark to make the wards reject all Death Eaters except him. Only myself and Severus would be allowed through the wards. I also intended to exclude anyone who might support or help Harry, such as Remus Lupin, Marlene McKinnon, and Minerva McGonagall.

Thoroughly disgusted by this revelation, Violet also noticed an omission. “Why would you key in Lupin and McKinnon but not Sirius Black or the Longbottoms?”

“Everyone believed that Sirius was the Secret Keeper for the Potters. I intended to throw him into Azkaban.” Dumbledore replied evenly.

“Even though you knew he was innocent?”

“I am the Chief Warlock. Him being innocent doesn’t matter.”

“And the Longbottoms?”

“I didn’t intend for them to leave St. Mungo’s.”

A knock on the window summoned Violet and Kelly back outside, where they found that someone had put Black into a body bind. Even their boss was fuming. Bones, however, wasn’t the one who called for them.

“Ask him again about Lily’s protection,” Unspeakable McKinnon said. “All Snape saw was the power lash out at himself immediately after Voldemort’s defeat. How did Dumbledore know that the power would still be active hours later, and useful for making blood wards?”

“You think he knew about it in advance?” Moody asked.

McKinnon frowned. “I’m fairly certain that Lily would not have discussed her research with anyone outside of the Department of Mysteries, and very few within; the fewer who know, the less chance of a counter being discovered. I was her friend and probably her closest coworker and even I didn’t know.”

“We’ll ask,” Kelly assured him, before the interrogators quickly returned to Dumbledore.

“While casting the Fidelius Charm, I plastered the cottage at Godric’s Hollow with monitoring charms,” Dumbledore answered when questioned. “I watched the attack as it happened, and saw Lily’s spell work as she set the ward. I had also seen her researching it and working on it beforehand, so I had some idea of what she was doing. Once she cast the spell, I studied that recording very carefully. I was fairly certain that the ward she used could be bent for my purpose.”

Violet Dunbar knew that, behind the window, more than just Black were probably now being restrained. Dumbledore had just admitted to watching the attack on the Potters, and therefore the death of James and Lily, without lifting a finger in their defense. Had Sirius Black been free, the observation window wouldn’t have stood a chance, and he would be in here strangling the old man. As much as Violet wanted to do the same, though, she had a job to do.

As calmly as she could, Violet asked, “When you saw Voldemort attacking, why didn’t you help the Potters?”

“To interfere now would ruin the prophecy.” Dumbledore explained. “I had worked hard through the Order of the Phoenix to ensure that both the Potters and the Longbottoms defied Voldemort three times and no more. If anyone was to interfere at Godric's Hollow that night and one of the adult Potters survived, they would have defied Voldemort a fourth time, thus affecting the prophecy.”

“So you were willing to sacrifice the Potters and the Longbottoms.” Kelly asked.

“I would sacrifice whatever I had to, to defeat Voldemort. At this moment there were two families who fit the prophecy. We knew Voldemort knew that. All he had to do was attack those two families and the prophecy would be fulfilled. Either he would be mysteriously killed by one of the boys or, upon killing them, complete the prophecy. Once the prophecy was complete the Potter and Longbottom boys would no longer be the only ones who could kill Voldemort; he would be mortal again and someone like me could kill him.”

After several moments to process this, Violet continued. “So you saw Voldemort killed in the Potter home thanks to your monitoring charms?”

“Yes.”

“And what did you think?”

“I believe that the prophecy had been fulfilled. Voldemort was dead and it appeared that Harry Potter had been the one to kill him.”

“So you dropped the Fidelius Charm?”

“There was no point anymore. The prophecy has been fulfilled. Voldemort was gone.”

Kelley interrupted. “So you could have dropped the charm at any moment, regardless of the status of the Secret Keeper?”

“Of course. I cast it.”

“Why didn't you? Certainly that would be an easier way to get Voldemort into the property?”

“Yes, but it would be clear that he had entered because the charm was gone, not because the secret had been told. I couldn't have anyone thinking that I had let him in.”

Violet wanted them back on track. “You said that Voldemort was dead that night. And yet, you still intended to place Harry with his aunt and make him an obscurial?” she asked.

“A backup plan.” Dumbledore explained. “There was a chance that Voldemort had a way of returning. If he did, then Harry would be ready.”

Kelly, however, was not for letting go of her own line of questioning. “So that night. Voldemort appears to be dead. Harry is still alive. You drop the charms. Why both of them? Why the Longbottoms as well as the Potters?

“If the prophecy was done, then the Longbottoms did not need to hide anymore.”

“You weren't concerned about someone other than Voldemort finding them? Death Eaters perhaps?”

“It didn't matter. The prophecy was done.”

Despite the layers of silencing charms, Dunbar fancied she could hear the commotion that was being caused on the other side of the observation wall. It has been decided that only those who could be considered neutral would be allowed into the same room as Dumbledore, with the others watching from outside. However the more he said, The more hard-pressed all of them were to retain their neutrality and not strangle the old fool with his own beard.

oOo

“You know,” Marlene said suddenly, once the interrogation had moved on to ‘safer’ topics and Sirius had been released from his full-body bind, “I think Dumbledore is wrong.”

“Of course he's wrong!” Sirius exclaimed. “He's a madman!”

“Wrong about the prophecy,” Marlene clarified. “He was basing his interpretation on the fact that he had set the Potters and the Longbottoms against Voldemort three times in battle.”

“Yes . They had to defy him three times.”

“Yes, but that only means they battled him three times. They defied him far more often than that.”

“What do you mean?”

“What about when we went out at Halloween last year? They weren't supposed to go out because Voldemort was after them; he had ordered them to be killed. Dumbledore didn't want them out either, and yet they went out. What about every time they called him Voldemort instead of You-Know-Who? What about every time James went out in the field as an Auror fighting against the Darkness? What about every time that Lily worked on her special ward to protect Harry when Voldemort came for them? They may have escaped from him in battle three times but they defied him on a daily basis every time they refused to give up.”

Everyone stared at her with dropped jaws. Moody was the first to speak, nodding in agreement. “You're right, Lassie, they defied him more times than I can count.”

Chapter Text

April, 1982

As soon as the students were sent home for their Easter break, Moody lead Thestral, Kelpie, and Lethifold teams to Hogwarts. Once in the castle, Moody had McGonagall call for the head house elf. He had gotten the idea after what happened at the Black family house. Realizing that the elf there had known exactly where to find the item they were looking for, had him rethinking the usefulness of the creatures.

When the elf, introduced by McGonagall as Ellie, appeared, Moody said, “Right. We are looking for an item left here by either Tom Riddle, who was a student here in the 1940s, or Lord Voldemort. Did he leave anything here?”

The elf thought for a minute. “Youse could check the come and go room,” she finally decided. “Anything a student leaves here gets put in there.”

“Where is this room?” McGonagall asked. She had clearly never heard of it before, despite having been the Headmistress for several months.

“Ellie will show you, headmissy,” she said.

The whole group trooped after the little creature, all the way up to the seventh floor. There, she stopped in front of a blank wall. “Youse has to walk back and forth three times,” she said. “Think about wanting the come and go room as youse walks.”

Feeling a bit foolish, Moody did as instructed. Walking back and forth three times , he repeated the request of the ‘come and go room’ in his mind.

After the third pass, Moody turned and saw a sturdy wooden door where there had only been blank wall before. Opening it, he saw a room as big as the Great Hall, towering with accumulated junk. Sizing up the situation quickly, Moody despatched the three teams in a semicircle around the door. Searching in grids, they cast detection spells upon every item they encountered.

Meanwhile, Moody and McGonagall questioned the elf. “Do you know for a fact that Tom Riddle or Lord Voldemort left something here, or did you just suggest it because everything gets put here?” She asked.

“Ellie doesn't know if anything here belongses to Tom Riddle or Lord Voldie, without touching it,” the elf said. “Ellie could ask all the elveses if they remember touching an item from them, but many elveses from 1940s no longer here.”

“A grid sweep it is, then,” Moody declared. Just in leading them to this room, the elf had far exceeded his expectations.

“Are there other places like this?” McGonagall asked.

The elf appeared deep in thought for a few minutes. “No other rooms at Hogwarts change shape like this one,” she finally declared. “But other rooms with things in them, yes. Lots of classrooms with old desks, chairs, furniture. Also rooms only elveses know about, that people don't go to. Elf rooms in tower attic, food rooms off of kitchens, bad bad room on second floor.”

Moody didn't care about elf rooms or pantries, but anything classified as bad bad piqued his interest. “What is that last one, the bad bad room?” He asked.

She got a nervous look on her face. “Old elveses tell young elveses about it. Bad bad room with death in it. Elveses not go there.”

“Could you show us where it is?” McGonagall asked.

The elf trembled but nodded her head jerkily.

“As soon as you shown us you may leave the area,” McGonagall told the elf.

Appearing to take some reassurance from that, she nodded a little more steadily and then lead the duo out of the come and go room. Back down several flights of stairs, they arrived at what appeared to be a girl's toilet. The elf was shaking at this point, and refused to go inside.

“That's the bad bad room,” she said, pointing at the door. Without waiting for a reply, she popped away.

Moody raised an eyebrow at McGonagall. “Bad bad room?” he asked sardonically.

She shook her head. “As far as I am aware it is simply a girl's toilet, though there is a ghost…” she trailed off. “This might be where the attack… I never thought about it before…”

“Thought about what?” Moody asked gruffly

“The attacks in 1942 and ‘43,” McGonagall said. “I had just graduated and was working on my Mastery, so I wasn't here, but it was all over the Daily Prophet at the time. And of course I heard all about it once I became a teacher. The attack where the girl was killed. I never put the two together, but there is a young ghost of a girl who haunts this particular toilet.”

“She could be our victim,” Moody said. “And whatever or whoever killed her could be the bad bad that your elves are so afraid of. Let's go talk to her.”

McGonagall held out a hand to stay him. “This ghost is extremely temperamental,” she said. “If we questioned her, she would probably just burst into tears and hide. She has a habit of crying so hard she floods this bathroom.”

Moody snorted.

“I imagine it was very hard dying as a teenager.” McGonagall said diplomatically.

“Well if we can't question her, who else can we talk to?” Moody demanded.

“Perhaps one of the other ghosts,” McGonagall said. “She might be more forthcoming with them. And they were all at Hogwarts at the time of the attacks.”

“Did anyone question them about it before?” Moody asked.

McGonagall shook her head. “Not that I know of, but I would assume so. Then again, I wasn't here at the time.”

“Fair enough. How do you get a hold of these ghosts?”

With a smirk, McGonagall turned to the nearest painting. “Please summon all of the castle ghosts here,” she told it. “Except Myrtle, of course.”

The painting was of a young couple by a pond, and both bowed smartly to the Headmistress before getting up and running out of opposite sides of their painting.

“The ghosts should be here within ten minutes,” she said, still smirking.

Moody chuckled. That was one on him.

Within a few minutes, ghosts began to drift up to the duo, and soon there were over two-dozen silvery figures crowding the hall. Moody eyed them warily, but ghosts were actually less likely to lie to him than people - especially the ghosts tied to Hogwarts. “Right, I’m here to investigate the attacks back in the 1940s,” he said without preamble. “I presume that most of you were here at that time?”

“We were,” a ghost confirmed. Moody’s hazy memories of his Hogwarts years pegged this as the Gryffindor ghost.

“Nick, we suspect that Myrtle is the ghost of the girl killed at that time,” McGonagall said, a little more diplomatically.

“Yes, she is,” a female ghost confirmed. This one Moody knew - the Grey Lady of Ravenclaw.

“Has she talked to any of you about her death?” he asked. Some of the ghosts shuffled - it seemed that their deaths was a bit of a sore subject. “Or did any of you witness it?”

“The elves call this the ‘bad bad room,’ and are terrified to enter, but they do not remember the details behind their fear,” McGonagall added. “As they have no more information, and as there are no portraits in the bathroom, we are hopeful that you can help us.”

The Grey Lady exchanged looks with Nick and then beckoned another female ghost. Together they floated into the bathroom. “The first attack caught us all by surprise,” Nick began. “It was in the wee hours of the morning in early December, and all of the students and teachers were abed, so we had generally retired for the night. Professor Melinda Thistlewait, and some of her advanced NEWT students had stayed up to watch a unique astronomical event, and she was escorting them back to their dorms. She and the last two students, the Hufflepuffs, were petrified by the beast just outside of their House.”

The Fat Friar, the Hufflepuff ghost, took up the tale. “They were discovered the next morning when the first students emerged for breakfast. After they were revived, they explained that they had heard an unusual noise, and believed it to be Peeves, hiding in a suit of armor. All three had been looking at the armor when they were petrified, and could only recall a blurry glimpse of something yellow.”

“However, we did not have that information yet,” Nick explained. “At the time, there were no ideas as to what had happened, though a prank was the main suspect. Many students were questioned, but there were no leads. As nothing else happened before the winter break, it was assumed to be a one-off.”

“The second attack was the night that the students returned,” he continued. “Most of us were in a meeting with the Headmaster, while several were near the dorms.”

“This attack was much earlier in the night than the first one,” The Fat Friar explained. “It caught two second-year Gryffindors returning from the kitchens. They later explained that they saw a yellowish reflection in a window. At the time, however, it was again believed to be a prank. All of the students were chided at breakfast the next morning, and warned that if these attacks continued, there would be a much harsher punishment for the perpetrators.”

“The third attack was actually a string of attacks, at the end of March,” Nick took back over the explanation. “It was an extremely wet spring, and it had been pouring quite heavily all week. Our caretaker was having trouble keeping up with the mess, and it was believed that several students were… helping things along by opening windows. Needless to say, there were puddles of water and mud everywhere.”

“Let me guess…” Moody said.

Nick nodded grimly. “Five different students in four different groups were petrified over the space of one afternoon and evening. As near as we could tell, the third and fourth attacks happened while we and the staff were dealing with the first two and the prefects were attempting to usher the younger students to their dormitories.”

“However, despite what it seemed, these attacks were not as random as we first thought,” the Fat Friar said. “With all of the confusion, many more children could have been attacked that night. Sometimes the one petrified was only moments behind or ahead of another group of children. Why weren’t they attacked as well? The monster, or whoever was controlling it, was either not aiming for mass casualties, or had picked those students for a reason. It was then that we realized that every student attacked thus far was a muggleborn.”

“Even Professor Thistlewait was a muggleborn, though she had married a pureblood, so you wouldn’t know from her name” Nick added. “The next morning, when that fact was announced, a message appeared on the wall just down the hall from here. It said The Chamber has been opened.

“At the time, no one knew what that meant. Eventually the staff decided that it was probably referring to the Chamber of Secrets. There was much debate about what to do. Some believed that the students should be evacuated, but the Purebloods resisted. Then it was suggested that only the Muggleborns be made to leave, but Professor Dumbledore argued that it would be against the school charter to restrict the kinds of students who were taught at Hogwarts.”

“Why did the school stay open?” McGonagall asked, scandalized.

Nick signed. “At the time, there was a law that said that any underaged students who did not attend Hogwarts, or who did not use registered tutors, would have their magic bound and their wand snapped. The law at the time was poorly worded and did not make allowances for Hogwarts closing. Had the school closed, any student who could not then afford registered tutors would have had their magic bound.”

Moody thought back to his law classes in Auror training school. He thought he specifically remembered that the law made allowances for Hogwarts closing. The Fat Friar apparently read his expression, “When that was discovered, Professor Dumbledore convinced the Wizengamot to amend the law, and to do so as quickly as possible, given the circumstances. It now has contingencies for Hogwarts closing, prolonged illness, and several other factors.”

Moody nodded; that explained it. “So at the time, Hogwarts couldn’t close, or risk the students,” he confirmed.

“Indeed. Though Professor Dumbledore was working to change that, for the time being, the school had to remain open.” The Fat Friar continued, “Throughout the months of April and May, there were another handful of attacks. All told, they resulted in the petrification of six more Muggleborns, including the caretaker, Mr. Gallagher, and the death of one student’s pet kneezle.”

“In mid-June, the school’s luck ran out, and a Ravenclaw student, Myrtle Warren, was killed,” Nick said, nodding at the closed bathroom door. “At that, and as they were only a few weeks from end of term, it was decided that Hogwarts would close early. Everyone hoped that the Wizengamot would change the law before the end of the summer. Within days of that decision, Tom Riddle caught young Rubeus Hagrid with a pet acromantula. The monster ran, and the attacks, which had become weekly by then, immediately stopped.”

“It was decided that Hagrid had been responsible, and, on the condition that it would immediately close if there was another attack, Hogwarts was reopened the next year. There were no more attacks, and so the matter was considered closed.”

At that moment, the Grey Lady and the other female ghost emerged from the bathroom door. “Maria was able to talk to Myrtle,” the Grey Lady informed them. “She does indeed remember her death, and this is the bathroom where she died.”

The other ghost - Maria - took over the tale. “Myrtle had been teased, and so was hiding in the bathroom. She heard someone come in and speak in a different language. Recognizing that it was a boy’s voice, she opened the stall door to tell him off. Instead, she was greeted by a huge pair of yellow eyes, and then she died.”

“Yellow eyes,” Moody asked. “Didn’t the others say something about seeing yellow reflected in the armor and puddles and such?”

Nick nodded. “Yes, they did. It appears that they saw the same beast as Miss Warren.”

McGonagall could never be accused of being slow. She was quickly putting the pieces together. “The others all saw the monster’s reflection,” she deduced. “In the armor, window, puddle, and so on. Myrtle saw it face to face. Looking into its eyes kills, while looking at a reflection only petrifies.”

Several of the ghosts nodded in agreement. “That is our belief,” Maria said. “However, we are still unsure what kind of creature it is.”

“In the meantime, I would suggest warding the area,” the Bloody Baron said. “Impenetrable ones to keep anyone from going in or out. Alert wards to inform you if anyone tried to break through.”

“That, the Ministry can do,” Moody said. “I’ll have Amelia send someone over as soon as she can.”

Chapter Text

May 1982

As the months after Christmas went by, the Wizarding world began to settle into its new reality. The Ministry slowly resumed its standard operations, the fear of living in a war zone lessened, and life got back to normal.

In the long term spell damage ward at St Mungo's, normal was a relative word. Alice Longbottom had finally been released; all the symptoms of her torture cured. Frank was well on his way to recovery, only getting shakes once every few weeks. It was estimated that by the end of the year he would be completely fine. The Mind Healers had found an accidental magic block on young Neville, and hypothesized that he had created it as a reaction to the magical attack on his parents. When it was dispelled, his usual incidence of accidental childhood magic, which had been absent since the attack, returned. And with the improvement of his parents, his confidence and smiles also returned.

Sirius Black, who had been practically living in the ward with the Longbottoms and young Harry Potter, was finally banished back to his flat by his annoyed fiance. And, as the summer approached, Mattie McKinnon and Rotclaw finally completed their preparations to remove the horcrux from Harry Potter.

As soon as Amelia entered the ward, accompanied by Alastor Moody, she turned to where the Unspeakable and Goblin were standing. “Have you finished your research?”

“We have.” McKinnon said. “We have determined the exact nature of the personal ward that Lily created. In the moment of her death, it siphoned off her magic to create a shield around Harry. Though it couldn't be seen with the naked eye, her magic was completely swirling around his body. She essentially managed to create a physical manifestation of magic around him.”

“But magical shields can't stop the unforgivables! That's why they are unforgivable!” Black cried.

McKinnon smirked. “And that's where the brilliance of what Lily did comes in. Her magic did not make a magical shield, it made a physical shield. Just as walls, or chunks of debris, or metal shields can stop an Unforgivable, so did Lily's shield.”

“That's incredible,” Amelia said.

“It is. Unfortunately it can only be created by willingly sacrificing your magic and soul. it would be impossible to replicate in a battle situation.”

Moody harumphed. “Not much use, then, is it?”

McKinnon shook his head. “Unfortunately not.”

“But you have now found a way to remove the Horcrux from Mister Potter without hurting him?” Amelia wanted to check.

“Oh yes,” McKinnon gestured at a table full of potion vials, runic tablets, and various other devices. “We’re all ready to proceed.”

“Very well. What needs to happen?” Healer Atwater asked.

“We have set up an observation wall,” Rotclaw said, indicating the far wall. “The fewer people who are present, the better the magic will work.”

“Normally, we would need the patient awake for something like this, to aid our magics,” McKinnon said. “However, thanks to Lily’s magic, we can use her will instead of Harry’s. We only need one healer in here with us, and the rest of you can observe.”

Taking the not-so-subtle hints, his sister, Marlene McKinnon, and Amelia began to usher the others out. Once out of Potter’s room, McKinnon lead the way to the observation room next door.

They watched as McKinnon handed Healer Atwater a series of potions vials. She passed each one over to Harry Potter. Well used to this kind of thing, after his months in the Hospital, Harry obediently drank them.

While that was happening, Rotclaw began placing the runic tablets in a pattern around the room. They had moved Harry’s bed to the center, and it was around this that he laid the sources for a series of concentric wards.

When Harry had finished all of the vials, Atwater had him lay out comfortably on the bed. Once he did that, she hit him with a mild stupefy. Harry immediately fell asleep, and Atwater made some minor adjustments to his position.

As the watchers observed, McKinnon cast a complex spell on the room. Within moments, it began to fill with multi-colored glows. “An aura revealer,” Moody commented. McKinnon was covered in a deep purple aura, save for a white burst coming from an amulet around his neck. Rotclaw’s aura was a deep brown with streaks of green, also with the white amulet. Atwater was a pale yellow, and as they watched, McKinnon handed her her own white-auraed amulet. Harry, as they had seen before, had a green aura, threaded with black. However, overlaying these other two colors, was a rippling orange shield.

Several things on the tables glowed with their own auras as well, as did all of the rune tablets.

After a moment, the watchers adjusted to seeing all of the colorful auras blanketing everything, and were able to watch the action normally again.

Atwater cast a monitoring charm on Harry, and then stepped to the side as Rotclaw directed her. Once she was in place, he and McKinnon took their own positions. Picking up the first items from the table, they began to chant and cast spell after spell at Harry. Items were picked up, placed on Harry, moved around the room, exchanged between the two casters, and eventually placed in certain positions within the protective wards.

Spell after spell was cast at Harry, and even some of the objects. Potions were poured over Harry’s scar, and over a small tablet that was eventually placed beside his head.

Slowly, the orange aura around Harry began to shift. It wrapped around the strands of black in his aura and began to retract them towards his head. First his feet were freed of the other two, shining a clean, bright green. This cleansing worked up his body, until all but his head was bathed in a pure green glow. Here, however, the fight was vicious, as tendrils of black and orange battled between boy and tablet.

Finally, with a shouted chant from Rotclaw and a blinding burst of light, it was done. The last of the orange and black auras leapt away from Harry, encompassing the tablet fully. Harry’s aura was a pure, deep, pulsing green.

Rotclaw and McKinnon continued their actions, sealing the auras into the tablet. Finally, they finished. The trio slumped tiredly, but McKinnon gestured to the observation wall. “You can come back in,” he croaked, his voice quite hoarse.

Black and the Longbottoms lead the rush, immediately converging on Harry’s bedside. Amelia and Moody entered more sedately, and approached McKinnon.

“It’s done?” Amelia asked. Despite what she had seen with her own eyes, she needed to get an official confirmation.

“It’s done,” McKinnon assured her. “Harry’s safe now.”

Beside her, Amelia saw Moody noticeably relax, and she found herself doing the same. “And this is definitely the last Horcrux?” she checked.

“Yes. The diadem found at Hogwarts perfectly fit our equations. This is the last one. Voldemort is now completely contained.”

oOo

“This is the prophecy Dumbledore was talking about?” Amelia asked, eying the softly glowing orb.

“To the best of our knowledge, yes,” Unspeakable McKinnon replied.”Every Prophecy made within the Ministry’s borders is automatically recorded to a sphere. The magical tag net that records the prophecies makes a record of who spoke it and who heard it, if anyone. You’d be surprised how many are unheard, actually.”

“Then how’d Potter’s name get on here?” Moody growled.

McKinnon frowned. “Anyone with access can edit the tag on a prophecy, though it takes special spells to take one off the shelf. My guess would be that Dumbledore added Harry and Voldemort’s names. As the Chief Warlock, he would have the ability to access this room.”

“So let me get this straight,” Amelia said. “Magic recorded the names of Trelawney, Dumbledore, and Snape, so they are a matter of true fact. But the names of Potter and Riddle were added by Dumbledore, and thus we only have his interpretation of the prophecy to justify their being there.”

“Indeed,” McKinnon replied. “And there’s another wrinkle. If the text of the Prophecy as Dumbledore recounted it is accurate-”

“He said it under Veritaserum,” Moody pointed out.

“Yes, then, there are a few problems with his interpretation. Firstly, unless the various members of the Ministry and Gringotts are the ‘power he knows not,’ then young Harry would have needed to destroy each piece of Voldemort’s soul. In fact, according to Dumbledore’s interpretation, Harry was the only one who could do that.”

“Since your joint team has, in fact, destroyed each piece of Voldemort’s soul, then this Prophecy clearly doesn’t relate to Harry.” Amelia concluded.

“Yes. And furthermore, I don’t believe that it actually relates to Voldemort. If that was the case, then when we finished off the last piece of Voldemort’s soul, the Prophecy would have been fulfilled. Any time a Prophecy is fulfilled, it immediately becomes cloudy and dark.”

McKinnon continued, “Once a month, one of the apprentices scans through this room to find any prophecies that have been fulfilled and marked as such. I can’t tell you how many prophecies we have in storage that no one in this department has ever heard, let alone determined the details of, which magic fulfilled on her own.”

“Magic completes the prophecies in her own time, regardless of your actions,” Moody said.

“Exactly. As this prophecy has not been fulfilled, I would submit that, despite Dumbledore’s insistence, it has nothing to do with Voldemort or young Harry Potter at this time.”

“Agreed,” Amelia nodded. “So can you remove Harry and Voldemort’s names from it?”

“Easily,” McKinnon said. “Any name added by a person, as opposed to the original tag net, can be changed by another with access. I’ll get those removed today.”

“Good. Then I think we never need to bother the Blacks or the Longbottoms with this.” Amelia decided. “As Dumbledore did give the adults some information about the Prophecy, it might be helpful to let them know that he was wrong, but the children have no need to know.”

“Agreed.”

Chapter Text

June 1982

 

After filling in for Albus all Spring, Minerva made a request at the end of the year meeting of the Board of Governors. Though she had previously filled the role of Deputy, she had no interest in actually being the Headmistress. She preferred to be in the classroom with the students, teaching Transfiguration, instead of shuffling papers up in a tower.

The school board accepted this, and eventually voted one of their own members, Augusta Longbottom, to the position. Aside from her position on the board, which she had filled for the last 24 years, she also had had a child in the school in the last ten years, and her grandson would be attending in the next decade, so she would have ties to the school for years to come. Additionally, thanks to the revelations at Dumbledore's trial, the name of Longbottom was held in as much respect as that of Potter. Having a Longbottom at Hogwarts would help to dispel the stigma that remained from Dumbledore.

It was pointed out that Augusta had no teaching experience, but the Board actually felt that was to the better. Dumbledore had been a teacher, but had no administrative experience when he took over as Headmaster. He coasted on his Alchemy and Transfiguration skills, and the glory of his triumph over Grindelwald. Several of his failures at Hogwarts could be blamed more on his lack of understanding the intricacies of management, rather than his being deranged.

Augusta, who had run the Longbottom estate for over a decade since the death of her husband, and who had been a successful undersecretary in the Ministry when younger, would actually understand how to organize and run the school far better than someone with only teaching experience. And with Minerva as her deputy, she had a teacher to advise her.

With such a compelling argument, Augusta agreed. She also agreed, and indeed championed, the need for transparency in the office of the Headmaster. Dumbledore had played far too many things close to the vest, and many of his decisions made no sense. The board needed to understand why Augusta made the decisions she did, to prevent things getting as bad as they had with Dumbledore.

As a parent and grandparent herself, Augusta agreed. She had sent her son to Hogwarts, and had barely heard from him all year other than the occasional letter home. She knew nothing of any discipline events, or injuries, or even accomplishments. This she intended to change.

Also having been a student at Hogwarts herself, albeit many decades earlier, Augusta had several ideas.

The first thing Augusta focused on was the teachers. Though Horace Slughorn had returned soon after Snape's arrest, he had been enjoying his retirement; he had no intention of staying on the following year. With this in mind, Augusta begin to look for a new Potions Master. However, the example of Snape had taught them all a lesson, and she had no intention of hiring someone just because they had their Mastery, if they were not also a good teacher. Unfortunately, she found no Potions Teachers at other schools willing to transfer to Hogwarts.

Potions Masters were not exactly uncommon, but most preferred to work in the research arena. Few had both the temperament and the inclination to teach. Instead of focusing on those with a Mastery first, and teacher second, she switched things around and began looking for Potions teachers. She quickly found several potions tutors who were working on their Masteries. Indeed, the biased teaching of Snape had created quite a demand for potions tutors in the last several years. After speaking to the students whom they tutored, Augusta invited five to come interview at Hogwarts. Each had their own strengths, weaknesses, and plans for their mastery. In the end, she ended up hiring two different teachers.

The first teacher was Leopold Bell. Bell had quite a way with the younger students, tutoring those of pre-Hogwarts age and those in their first few years. He was especially good at explaining the methods and intricacies of potion brewing to the younger and muggle-born students in ways that they would understand. Augusta decided that he would teach the first through fourth years, as well as a muggle-born introductory course, while he finished gaining his Mastery.

Her second hire was Graham Tofty, the grandson of one of the Hogwarts OWL examiners. Tofty had specialized in tutoring students for their NEWTs, and had taken on dozens of new students since Severus started teaching. It had considerably delayed his Mastery work, but after hearing from his students about Snape’s antics, he felt that he couldn't refuse.

His preferred field was medicine, and he wanted to be a Healer once he gained his Mastery. Augusta decided that he would teach only the older three years, while catching up on his Mastery work.

Once his Potions Mastery had been completed and he began the less-intensive study for his Healer’s certification, he would use his extra time to offer an advanced class for the seventh years on experimental brewing, and do all of the brewing for the Infirmary. Poppy Pomfrey was hopeful that, if he did get his Healers certification, he might take over for her in the Infirmary when she someday retired.

That problem solved, Augusta turned her attention to the Defense position. The curse on the position had been lifted by the Aurors a few months prior, but not before claiming the past years’ teacher. Her husband, a quidditch player, had joined the Portuguese national team, and she had followed him from the country.

After a few weeks of deliberation, Augusta hit upon what she thought was the perfect solution. Though her son Frank had been cleared by the healers for release, he was no longer able to be an active duty Auror due to the lasting damage from the Cruciatus curse he suffered. However, as an Auror, and one who had been on the front lines against Voldemort, he had years of experience in defense against dark arts. He was quickly talked into taking the post.

However, it was decided that he would not move to Hogwarts, but rather the family would move to hogsmeade. While it was traditional that the professors lived in the castle, it was true that there would be no other children Neville's age for him to play with. There was also the matter of him being unable to wander around the grounds while the school was in session. By moving to hogsmeade, Alice was still able to work at the ministry, and Frank could floo up to the castle to teach everyday. Neville would be able to stay at home, and not be cooped up in a teacher's suite at Hogwarts.

The Board had also initiated a thorough examination of Hogwart’s financial records. When finished, it showed that, despite being dead, Binns was still allotted a salary in the school’s budget. After some deep probing, and a request to Gringotts, they finally figured out that Dumbledore had been collecting the history teacher's salary himself.

Having sat through the class many years prior, Augusta was well aware that no student had learned a thing in Binns classroom for at least 200 years. With the knowledge that she would indeed be able to pay for a new history professor, she quickly saw to hiring one. Since the subject was so under-studied in Britain, thanks to years of middling education in the subject at Hogwarts, she reached out to the continent. Eventually she found a young woman from Greece, who had revolutionized the history department at her previous school. She was more than willing to come to Hogwarts and do the same. Professor Matia, along with her husband and five-year-old daughter, decided to live at Hogsmeade, like the Longbottoms.

The last position that Augusta felt needed immediate review was that of muggle studies. She had heard from multiple sources upon taking the office, including from Sirius Black and Alice, remembering what Lily had said, that the Muggle studies class was a joke. Apparently the text was over a century behind, and written by a pureblood who didn't understand the basics of Muggle society to boot. For years muggle-borns had been complaining about the class but had been ignored.

Augusta felt that, to truly do her duty by her students, she needed to take their complaints seriously. She consulted the records of recent Hogwarts graduates and found the perfect solution. A pair of muggle-borns, a few years above Frank and the others, had married and then left the Wizarding World when pureblood prejudices kept them from working in it. The wife, Anna Spinnet, had become a teacher of high school history, while her husband, Marcus Spinnet, taught maths.

Since the idea had worked so well for Potions, Augusta once again decided on team teachers. While they would work together on the curriculum for the Muggle studies class, they would also offer specialty classes. Consulting with several muggle-borns about the class, Augusta learned that there was far too much about muggle life to fit into just one elective class.

She was also informed that any wizard who ever entered the Muggle world should have at least a basic understanding of it. Examples of the ridiculous things that Wizards had done were plastered across a type of muggle newspaper called a tabloid. Furthermore, it was explained to her that some Muggle classes actually helped with Wizarding classes. A basic introduction in science helped immensely with potions., while maths taught the basics of arithmancy.

With this in mind, Augusta created a new system. All First Years would have a class in the fall with Mrs. Spinnet on penmanship and essay structure. Then, in the winter, they would learn the basics of muggle science. This would be taught by Mr Spinnet, in consultation with Professor Bell. Finally, in the spring, both Spinnets would teach the students the basics of how to survive in the Muggle world. Any muggle-born students who already knew this would be drafted to playact the examples.

For second years, the seminar class was again broken into sections. The first was an introduction to muggle maths, taught as a primer to arithmancy. This was followed by an introduction to muggle animal science, as a precursor to care of magical creatures. Finally there was a seminar on historical muggle cultures, focusing on those who were covered in ancient runes.

Augusta had heard from multiple graduates that they wished they would have known exactly what the elective classes were about before they picked them. It was one thing to know that arithmancy was the study of magical numbers, but another to try it and find that you were horrible at the subject and now stuck in it for the next three years. The idea behind the second-year primer courses was that the students would figure out what they had an aptitude for before committing themselves to the three-year courses.

With two young children of their own, the Spinnets would also be living in Hogsmeade. With four of her professors having young children, Augusta gave a second thought to having them live at Hogwarts. However the argument that there would be nothing for them to do in the castle, and no other children their age, was compelling. As a compromise, she assigned a Hogwarts house elf to each family, to watch the children while their parents were in classes, and to bring them meals from the school kitchens.

Despite thinking that she was done hiring new teachers, the summer was still young when Augusta learned that she had some more work to do. Upon hearing what happened to Binns, a flood of former students Owled her to complain about the caretaker, Argus Filch. After spending an afternoon disillusioned and following him around, Augusta had to agree.

The man spent all of his time complaining about the students, even when they were not there. He reminisced aloud to his cat about the “good old days”, when he could hang children from shackles or lock them in stocks. Augusta had no idea what days he was referring to, as to her knowledge that had never been allowed to happen, but it certainly confirmed the students’ complaints. Speaking to the house elves, she learned that, since Filch was a squib, they had been performing most of the caretaker’s duties anyway since Dumbledore had hired the man. They did not supervise detentions, but it appeared that that was the only thing Filch actually did, besides ineffectually dragging a mop around. That clinched it, and Augusta decided to abolish the caretaker position, firing Filch in the process. The house elves would continue with all of the duties they had already been performing, and the teachers would pick up the extra detentions.

At the beginning of August, Augusta was struck another blow. The Ministry investigation into what had happened in 1943 had been placed on the back burner while the Death Eaters and Dumbledore were sorted out. However, by the end of July, the DMLE had finally finished their investigation. Minister Greengrass issued an apology to Hagrid on behalf of the Ministry, and paid not only for him to get a new wand, but for any educational path he wanted.

After discussing it with Minerva and Augusta, Hagrid decided that as much as he loved Hogwarts, he would feel uncomfortable attending classes there at his age. He decided on hiring tutors instead. When Minerva and Filius immediately offered to teach him, Hagrid burst into tears. Augusta and Matthias Greengrass quickly came to an agreement. In addition to paying for their time, the Ministry would hire assistants for both teachers to handle their Hogwarts grading while they were tutoring Hagrid. The unexpected support for the professors meant that Hagrid was not the only one tearing up.

However, now Hogwarts was short one groundskeeper. And hearing Hagrid’s happy exclamation that he might now get to work with dragons once he passed his NEWTs, Augusta suspected that it would be a permanent appointment.

After overhearing a conversation between Amelia Bones and Minerva about yet another person Dumbledore had harmed, Augusta made her decision. She knew it would be controversial, however, and so consulted with his Hogwarts friends and Minerva, and then the Board of Governors, before she offered the job to Remus Lupin.

So when he protested that he was a werewolf, she was ready, and countered that, short of a half-giant, who better to control the actual dangerous beasts in the Forbidden Forest.

When he protested that he would turn into a dangerous beast once a month, she asked what he had done as a student, and pointed out that both of her new Potions Masters were capable of brewing the Wolfsbane potion, or would be by the next full moon.

When he protested that the Board of Governors would never allow her to hire him, she showed him the parchment with her proposal and safety measures, and the signature of every Board Member at the bottom.

When he protested that she shouldn’t place the responsibility of her students in the hands of a werewolf, Augusta countered that Minerva had given him the responsibility of a Prefect, and he had handled that admirably.

When Remus sat there, staring at her, unable to think of another excuse, Augusta handed him a quill and told him to sign the employment contract. Which he, bemusedly, did.

Of course, when he then saw the amount he was to be paid, he again protested, but Augusta was able to quickly find a copy of Hagrid’s contract and prove that it was the same amount.

And thus, Augusta gained Hogwarts a new groundskeeper, much to the relief of Hagrid. He had offered to maintain his old position while he took his lessons, but Augusta had told him to focus on his studies and assured him that he could still live in his hut for as long as he needed to. Remus would have rooms in the castle with the other staff.

Her hiring spree finished, Augusta was finally able to turn her attention to the students, just in time for the new school year to start. However, it seemed that she would never be done with the mess that Dumbledore had created.

The audit of Hogwarts’ finances had also shown that, while Dumbledore had demanded raises for his staff from the Board every few years, that money had not gone to the teachers. Dumbledore had, instead, skimmed it into his own pay, just as he had with Binn’s salary.

As Augusta had simply accepted the Headmistress pay without checking it, she now made arrangements with Gringotts to reclaim the extra amount and distribute it to the teachers to whom it rightfully belonged. She could do nothing about the losses from Dumbledore’s time, but Amelia Bones promised to look into it. Now the Hogwarts teachers found their pay nearly doubled, as several years worth of raises were awarded to their proper place.

With this sign of greed on Dumbledore’s part, Augusta began another investigation. It turned out that many of the things in Dumbledore’s office were also being kept from the school. His large telescope had been donated by an alum for the astronomy department, but Dumbledore had kept it for his personal use. Hundreds of the books on his shelves also belonged in the library, but he had hoarded them. These too were redistributed.

Early in the fall, Augusta was approached by Pomona Sprout. She had been thinking about the come and go room that Minerva had told her about, ever since the Aurors had searched it. If, as the elves said, many of those items belonged to students, then Hogwarts should return them. For any items that did not belong to students, such as other missing founder relics, missing library books, and the like, the school should deal with them appropriately.

Augusta thought this was a marvelous idea. Since the castle elves were able to identify an object’s owner simply by touching it, Augusta knew that part would be easy. Getting the items to their former owners would be the tricky part. She contacted the Ministry, where she found Minister Greengrass more than eager to help. Soon, a contingent of Ministry elves had arrived to help the Hogwarts elves with their increased duties, as well as a legal team, a handful of undersecretaries, and a squad of cadet Aurors from the DMLE.

They set up in a large empty classroom just down the hall from the come and go room. There they created shelves full of boxes with every wizarding family name they could think of. As the elves popped in with an item and identified it, the undersecretaries labeled each item with the name of the owner and the year lost. The Auror cadets then placed it into the box with the appropriate family name, or created a new box if needed. The legal team kept a list of each item, and prepared the messages to send with them.

There was also a box for library books, which was quickly filled. Every so often, one of the cadets would take it to the Hogwarts library and empty it before returning to the fray. Another box held loose money. While the elves could identify money pouches, trunks, and clothes, which money may be in, the individual galleons, sickles, and knuts did not have an owner signature. So any loose coins were placed in a box to be put into the Hogwarts accounts.

By early December, the come and go room was empty. Each family box was shrunk, had the letter from the legal team attached, and owled to the current head of the family.

Several relics of the founders had been discovered, including a few pieces of Ravenclaw’s and Hufflepuff’s jewelry, Gryffindor’s sword and belt knife, the matching saucer and spoon to Hufflepuff’s cup, Slytherin’s belt knife, and assorted pieces of clothing. These were all put on display in the Entrance Hall, along with the items that had been cleaned of Voldemort’s horcrux pieces.

Before that project was even halfway done, however, Augusta was approached by several magical creature specialists from the Ministry. After the true story emerged about the creature attacks in 1942 and 1943, they had been concerned to hear about the large spider Hagrid had released.

Further questioning of Hagrid revealed that it was indeed an acromantula, and that he had, several years later, found his “friend” a female companion. As the acromantula became sexually mature at one year of age, with a breeding cycle that was just under a year, and as they laid up to a hundred eggs in one go, it was probable that there were now several thousand of the monsters hiding in the Forbidden Forest.

Remus Lupin had done a little investigating, and the centaur herd confirmed that the giant spiders had indeed taken over the depths of the forest. Both Augusta and the Ministry were in agreement; the spiders had to go!

By waiting until the winter break, and insisting none of the students be allowed to stay in the castle, they hoped to have everyone well away from the forest for two weeks. Then, a team of Aurors, Hit Wizards, Creature specialists, Goblins, and Centaurs would go in and clear out the acromantula nest.

After making all of those arrangements, Augusta was looking forward to a relaxing spring and then a nice summer holiday when trouble again entered her office. This time it was in the form of her COMC teacher, Professor Kettleburn, and the librarian, Madam Pince.

After the questioning of Riddle’s diary, Myrtle’s ghost, and Hagrid, the DMLE had come up with a few details about the creature that had done the actual killing in the 1940s. They had passed this on to Kettleburn, who, along with Pince, had spent their free time researching the possibilities. They had a handful of theories, but upon learning that Riddle was a parseltongue, one creature became the odds on favorite: a basilisk.

When Augusta recovered her composure, Kettleburn asked if they could arrange for a parseltongue specialist from India to come over during the summer and clear out the beast. She quickly agreed, and also sent word to the Ministry about this new development. Once over his own shock, Minister Greengrass approved whatever she needed. Both of them were dreading discovering what else Dumbledore’s legacy had in store for Hogwarts!

Chapter Text

A month later...

Seeing Amelia lead Amos into his office with a gleam in her eye, Matthias Greengrass suppressed a sigh. Though he wasn’t technically a wartime Minister, it certainly felt that way some days. Between the Ministry’s own problems and the messes that Dumbledore left at Hogwarts - where Matthias had just sent a few dozen people and elves to help out - he was exhausted.

“What can I do for you now, Amelia?” he asked as soon as the other two were seated.

“Actually, Amos is the one that brought this to my attention,” she said, the gleam lessening not one jot. Whatever Amos had suggested had gotten Amelia quite excited.

“I’ve been going over the transcripts,” Amos said without prompting. Matthias knew he meant the transcripts from the DMLE interrogations that had filled last winter and spring. “And I noticed a disturbing trend.”

“Really?” The last thing Matthias needed was for another Dark Lord to be brewing in their midst, or something similar.

“I think the reason that Voldemort was so successful was due to the general attitude of the wizarding world,” Amos declared. “Dumbledore was the key. He admitted to using the attitude to those of mixed blood to ensure Mister Hagrid’s loyalty. Also in his experiment of letting Mister Lupin attend Hogwarts, but no other werewolf children, and constantly holding that over his head ever since.”

Matthias nodded, recalling both instances.

“It is the same thing with Muggles,” Amelia butted in. “Augusta told me that dozens of muggleborn alumni contacted her with regard to changing the muggleborn classes. No one who has graduated Hogwarts in the last few decades knows anything about real Muggles.”

“And look at how helpful the goblins were with regards to this whole horcrux thing,” Amos continued. “They worked with our Aurors to find them, our curse breakers to destroy them, and our Unspeakables to fix young Harry.” Though it wasn’t common knowledge, all three were aware of the last Potter’s condition.

“It is clear that our society’s views on Muggles, werewolves, goblins, and those of mixed breeding are dangerous and outdated. And they are exactly the kinds of views that Dark Lords like Voldemort and Grindelwald capitalized on when recruiting!”

Having lost two of his sisters, who followed their husbands into Voldemort’s clutches, Matthias was well aware that Amos was speaking the truth here.

“Dumbledore always preached forgiveness,” Amelia spoke up again. “We now know that that was a cover for his own twisted plans. He would have had us release anyone who claimed to be redeemed, like Snape, regardless of their actual views. People like Malfoy knew that our highest government officials were for sale; he would have been walking the streets right now too!”

“So what are you proposing?” Matthias asked.

“We need to make sure that the same kind of people don’t get back into power in a few years,” Amelia said forcefully. “Augusta is changing views at Hogwarts, but we won’t see the effects of that for years to come. We need to make sure that the next, more tolerant, generation has something left to inherit from us.”

“I contacted my counterpart with the Muggles,” Amos said. “And asked how they handled corruption. He said that their people swore loyalty oaths. Theirs are only pieces of paper, but we could make similar ones that are actually binding.”

“What kind of oaths are you talking about?” Matthias asked. It was a very interesting idea, but also had the potential to be abused.

“Make Ministry employees swear not to try to overthrow the government, for starters,” Amelia snapped. “Make it impossible to plot against us from within. There should never have been an Unspeakable Death Eater. Those who want to overthrow us shouldn’t be working alongside us.”

Matthias held up a hand to stall her rant. “I agree in principle, but something like that must be carefully worded. Though Slytherin has had a bad reputation recently, thanks to Voldemort, we are not inherently evil. Our defining trait of ambition itself is not bad. I agree that there is a difference between wanting a promotion, or thinking that your superior is incompetent, and wanting to overthrow the government entirely, but surely you can see where a poorly worded oath would restrict the former?”

Thankfully, both Amelia and Amos stopped to consider his words. “I hadn’t thought of that,” Amos admitted. “We certainly need a few Slytherins on the legal team that figures out the wording.”

“Yes,” Amelia agreed. “And to look for loopholes that we Hufflepuffs might not think to exploit,” she teased. Matthias grinned; though she was a Hufflepuff like Amos, Amelia had the ruthlessness of a Slytherin when it came to doing her job. Together the trio made a good team.

“Once the oaths are created, we should publicise them,” Matthias thought aloud. “Make it exceedingly clear that anyone who wants to join the Ministry exactly what they are letting themselves in for. Those who have other ideas won’t even bother trying.”

“Yes,” Amos agreed.

Amelia, however, had one last idea. “And we should open up Ministry positions to those of mixed breeding,” she said. “We saw how those people feel rejected and flock to Dark Lords who promise them change. Or they are used by someone like Dumbledore to ensure their loyalty. We need to destigmatize them and embrace them in our society.”

She looked at Matthias with some defiance, as though expecting him to disagree. He enjoyed the surprise in her eyes when he nodded instead. “I agree whole-heartedly. Perhaps some sort of anti-discrimination clause in the oath, including blood status and parentage.”

It was not common knowledge, so Matthias doubted that either of his counterparts knew it, but his wife’s great-grandmother had been a half-veela. Neither she nor their daughter would manifest the full powers of a veela, but they would still be considered “creatures” by Voldemort and his ilk. If he didn’t support an anti-discrimination measure like this, his wife would kill him!

oOo

Eight years later…

Amidst the hustle and bustle on Platform 9 ¾ on September First, 1991, the Black, Longbottom, McKinnon, and Tonks families managed to converge together near the back of the train. With her youngest on her hip, Marlene kept an eye out for all of the children gathered around the extended family.

Neville and Harry had been raised together like brothers, and were also quite close with their Black cousins, Draco and Tonks, and her brother’s oldest two, Marius and Melody.

“I want to go to Hogwarts!” pouted Jimmy Black.

Harry simply rolled his eyes at his nine-year-old brother. They had already had this argument a dozen times over the last week, and twice this morning. Marlene, while keeping a more neutral expression, was also not looking forward to repeating this conversation again.

A more sympathetic Uncle Mattie beckoned Jimmy over to where his own children were standing. The twins were slightly apart from the others, as they always were, but eight-year-old Meghan and six-year-old Morgan were eagerly watching the crowd.

“I understand that you want to go, too,” Mattie told the trio. “You’re not the first younger siblings to have to go through this.” Neville’s two younger sisters and Marlene’s three remaining children also drifted over to listen to their uncle. “Your mom - Aunt Marlene - and I had two younger siblings who had to follow us. Dora here is a seventh year, and Draco is just a firstie; he’s been waiting far longer than you lot will have to.”

Dora decided to chime in. “One of my friends who just graduated - Charlie Weasley - has one older brother and five younger siblings. They’ve spent years waiting to go to Hogwarts.”

“Which one is Charlie?” Draco asked, his forehead wrinkling as he mentally scrolled through his cousin/sister’s friends.

“He went to the dragon preserve to work with Mister Hagrid,” Tonks reminded him. “When they brought a baby dragon to the COMC classes two years ago, Charlie fell in love with them. I think one of his brothers is in your year. Two of his younger brothers are twins and they’ll be in third year this year. They were trying to be the new Marauders last year, so you’ll have some competition,” she added with a wink.

Marlene stifled a chuckle as her husband immediately snapped to attention at those words. “Now these Weasleys might have a head start, but I fully expect you three to fulfil your Marauder’s legacy,” Sirius lectured Harry, Neville, and Draco. “If I haven’t been called in to deal with a prank of yours before October I shall be highly disappointed.”

“Yes Dad,” Harry said exasperatedly. “We know. You know you can leave at any time now. You don’t have to make a scene.”

“But making a scene is what he does best!” Marlene and Alice replied almost simultaneously.

Neville elbowed Harry and then threw Sirius a significant look. “You can’t leave until you give us what you promised, Uncle Padfoot,” he mock whispered, with all the subtlety and mystique that an eleven-year-old could manage.

Marlene had a good idea of what Sirius had promised the boys, having seen the map herself while at Hogwarts, but pretended to be highly distracted by little Reggie in her arms. Once the furtive exchange had taken place and the map was tucked into Harry’s bookbag, Marlene cleared her throat.

“Best get on the train now,” she warned. “You don’t want to miss it!”

“Oi, I’ve got to go to the Prefect’s meeting as soon as I get you lot sorted!” Tonks exclaimed. “Get a move on!”

“Oh, and remember to look out for the Muggle-borns!” Marlene reminded them. “They’re not used to our world, but they can make the best of friends!”

Clearly knowing that she was thinking of Lily, Sirius reached out and squeezed Marlene’s hand comfortingly.

The five first-years quickly made the rounds, hugging parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, before dragging their trunks towards the train. Tonks followed along, shepherding the group and helping each one lift their trunk up the steps.

A few moments later, two compartment windows slid opened, and first the twins, then the trio, poked their heads out and waved. As Harry laughed and waved at his family, Marlene thought she saw a flicker of orange in his eyes.

As soon as she saw it, it was gone, but as Sirius squeezed her hand again, Marlene knew that they both had seen the same thing. Though the shield had been broken a decade ago, both of them were now certain that Lily’s spirit was still beside Harry.

oOo

Two hundred years later…

Deep in the heart of the forest preserve outside of Seville, the young centaur Yiren stood triumphant over his foe. After decades of watching his tribe members suffer at the skeletal hands of the Dementor Lord, Yiren had finally defeated their dark opponent.

Yiren had used his exceptional smelting skills to recreate the mythological adamantos spoken of in the ancient centaurian stories. It had been lost since the time of Chiron, but Yiren had puzzled out the process to recreate it. After forging a helmet that protected him from the Dementor Lord’s horrifying effect, and an adamantos sword, Yiren had attacked.

The battle was long and hard, but finally Yiren succeeded, hacking off the head of the Dementor Lord and freeing all of the occupants of the preserve from its oppressive presence.

Deep in the heart of London, a small sphere in aisle ninety-seven of the Prophecy Room turned cloudy and dark. Two weeks later it was collected by the newest DOM apprentice and placed it in a box in the “completed” room, never to be seen again.