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the Treehouse

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Harry was quiet.

That wasn't anything new, Harry was usually quiet during the last few days of term as he processed what happened during the yearly event. So far he'd almost died at the end of every school year, and each time it was a closer and closer call. Ron and Hermione were honestly worried (already) about what the next year's end-of-term had in store for their best friend.

This year, though, there was the added bonus of a potential new home being ripped away from him. Harry had confided in them in their first year that the Dursley's hated him, and that he would really rather not go back there, but the Headmaster said differently. Hermione wondered about that, but he was the Headmaster, he had to know what he was doing, right?

"Hey, Hermione?" Harry asked after Ron settled down from Sirius giving him a new owl. He was eyeing the permission slip for Hogsmeade with a frown.

"Hmm?" She looked up from her book.

"Dumbledore is the Chief Warlock and Supreme Mugwump, right? What exactly does that mean?" He asked.

"Well, Supreme Mugwump means he's the head of the ICW, that's the wizarding UN. And the Chief Warlock is the head of the Wizengamot. Kind of like the Leader of the House in Parliament."*

"So, he's got some political power, then." Harry said slowly.

"... Yes, I suppose." Hermione said curiously.

"Then why didn't he stop the Minister? Why didn't he demand that Sirius be at least questioned about his escape? Why send two underage, under-trained kids to rescue him? Why let Lucius Malfoy get his way in almost killing Buckbeak? He had to know that those charges of being dangerous were bogus, and yet he let Hagrid go through all that."

"I'm sure he knows what he's doing." Hermione said, but she didn't sound too sure of it herself. Laid out like that, she was having a hard time explaining it, even to herself.

"The Minister was going to kill Sirius. Without even questioning him about how he escaped. Wouldn't they want to know that information? That's a major security breach, and the Minister was just going to kill him. Dumbledore knew he was innocent, why didn't he try harder to talk the Minister around?" Ron asked this time, starting to think things through.

"You told me yourself that bad things happen to wizards who meddle with time. And yet the Headmaster told us to go back in time to save him from Dementors that he shouldn't have even been in danger from... if he'd been doing his job." Harry frowned.

"That may be, but Harry... if we hadn't done that, it wouldn't have mattered. You and Sirius were swarmed, there must have been nearly a hundred Dementors there." Hermione reminded him.

"The Dementor's wouldn't have been there at all if Dumbledore put his foot down and refused to allow them to be placed around the castle. He could have." Ron said. "He's the Headmaster, he has final say in what happens at Hogwarts, including if we get extra 'security'. The Ministry has no say in Hogwarts."

"They should have been removed anyway when it was obvious Sirius had already gotten past them. They were only hurting us." Harry grumbled.

There was a sudden knock on the door, and they looked up, startled, to find the Twins and Percy standing there. The Twins looked serious in a way that the Twins never did, while Percy looked like his usual disapproving self. Harry glanced at Ron and Hermione and realized that they'd forgotten to close the door all the way.

"I think you need to explain just what happened last week." Fred said grimly. The three had heard enough of the conversation to know that their brother and his friends had possibly aided in the escape of a wanted fugitive, who may not actually be guilty. Either way, if it was ever discovered by the wrong people, the three of them could be the ones in trouble. Big trouble, the kind that even the Twins were leery of getting into. The Twins stepped inside, closed the door, and hit it with locking and privacy charms so that nobody else overheard this conversation.

Ron looked at his two best friends, and made a decision. They were in over their heads this time, this wasn't just stuff going wrong at school, this was law and Minister's trying to kill people to cover things up and... if Harry was really going where he thought he was with his questions, they were going to need help. Who better to help them then his older brothers? So, he explained everything he knew, leaving Harry and Hermione to fill in the gaps of what happened during their jaunt through time.

When they were done, they still had a few hours until they arrived, and Percy was shaking his head. "That's not right, that the Minister just... there are laws. Procedure. He shouldn't have just called the Dementor's, he should have called for the Auror's to take him into custody." Ron was right, they would have needed to question him on how he escaped at least, that was a security breach at the prison housing their most dangerous criminals. And for the Headmaster to leave two third year students to deal with it, instead of using his own political power wasn't right, either. Percy had been wondering for a while if Dumbledore didn't have too much power in their world, but for him to not even use all that power on a man that he believed to be innocent...

"And you say that Black flew off on Buckbeak?" George clarified. The three nodded.

"He could be anywhere by now." Fred muttered. It would be difficult to get the man proper help (legal and possibly medical) if they didn't even know where he was.

"I think he's still fairly close by, if he was able to send Ron an owl to replace Scabbers." Percy pointed out. And that was something else he was having trouble wrapping his head around.

Scabbers was a person. Not a rat.

He slept in Percy's bed! He slept in Ron's bed! He slept in the same house as their little sister! And Percy shared everything with Scabbers. Everything that was bothering him, he told Scabbers things that he never shared with his parents or siblings. He pushed his revulsion down before he became sick, and focused on his brothers instead.

"I'm going to owl Bill, maybe he can take some vacation time and renew the wards around the Burrow." Fred glanced at Ron and Percy, glad that he and George refused to let Scabbers in their room (mostly because of the experiments they sometimes had laying around), he couldn't imagine how his brothers were feeling right now. Hopefully getting Animagus wards around the Burrow would help them.

"Yeah, that sounds good." Percy nodded. "You can use Hermes, Errol isn't going to be able to make the trip."

"Thanks." All five of his companions blinked at him. They all knew that he was very stringent about his siblings using Hermes to send letters. In fact, he refused every time anybody asked to borrow his owl, no matter if Errol was out of the house on another mail delivery or not.

"What about Sirius?" Harry asked.

"Treehouse?" Ron asked his brothers.

Percy nodded slowly. "Yes, it will give him somewhere warm and dry to stay, we can sneak him plenty of food... I can make him some potions. I think I still have that Healers manual, I can take a look through it. After twelve years in Azkaban and another year on the run, I doubt he's the healthiest person. We can decide how to handle mum and dad later." In other words, if they were going to tell them anything. Arthur, they could rely on to calmly listen. Molly... well, they would be lucky to stop her before she called the Aurors after the first words came out of their mouths.

"Didn't Bill and Charlie both get a few weeks off to visit at the same time this summer?" Fred asked. Their oldest brother had written them about the good news the week before.

"They both have training as medi-wizards." George chimed in. It was a requirement for their jobs, as dangerous as they were. Calling for a Healer, getting the Healer to the patient, or getting the patient to the Healer wasn't always possible in either the tombs or on the reserve.

Percy shrugged. "Until then, I'll do what I can." He said simply. He believed his brother about Peter Pettigrew, especially since the more he thought about it, Scabbers had lived an awfully long time, longer then a rat should, no matter how well Percy took care of him. And there was his missing toe, which was on the same hand of the finger that had been all anybody found of his body. And an explosion would have left more pieces behind then one finger.

He was very angry (and slightly betrayed) with Minister Fudge for dismissing his brother the way he did. He'd expected better of the man, he shouldn't have just brushed off the possibility like that, he should have had it investigated.

"What treehouse?" Harry asked, confused.

"Oh, I didn't show it to you when you were over?" Ron blinked, surprised. "Dad built Bill and Charlie a treehouse out on the edge of our orchards. It's still in good shape, we still use it sometimes. It's comfortable, warded against damage, just like any house would be. Sirius will be safe there." He assured Harry.

"I'll send him a letter now." Percy decided. "I'll give it to Hermes. Sorry, Hedwig, you're too noticeable, we don't want to draw attention to wherever he is." He apologized to the owl that hooted indignantly at being passed over when she was right there. She was only slightly mollified by his explanation.