It was less of a hotel room and more of a flat. As he looked around, there was a kitchen, multiple bedrooms, living room, dining room, even a balcony, all of it tastefully decorated.
“Enjoy your stay, Harry Potter,” Griphook said as closed the door behind him.
Harry walked out onto the balcony, sitting down in an armchair and leaning his head back as he thought about everything that happened.
Somehow Moody had found him, and all the training he did over the last few days hadn’t helped as much as he hoped it would. He could only last as long as he did because of luck on his part and Moody underestimating him.
‘It won’t happen a second time,’ Harry vowed to himself. It was clear now, the number of spells he learned wasn’t anywhere near enough to stand against a fully trained Wizard. ‘Moody easily countered every single one of them.’
Then there was the even larger problem of Dumbledore. He could practically feel the power pouring off the old wizard. There was absolutely no chance of him surviving a direct fight with him.
When he went back to Hogwarts, it would be as a student. This would naturally give the advantage to Dumbledore. How was he supposed to stop him from following through on erasing his memories? And then there was the even larger issue of his wand.
“Your issue is not the memory spells,” Merlin interrupted. “They won’t work on you, anyway. Your mind will easily counteract them. The issues with your wand are the main concern.”
“What am I supposed to do about that?” Harry asked.
“That is what the solicitor is for,” Merlin replied. “He will find a way to keep this headmaster in check.”
“I hope so,” Harry agreed. “What did you think of Dumbledore?” Harry asked.
“He is certainly powerful magically,” Merlin acknowledged. “Not nearly as much as some I have faced, but it seems like he holds some powerful positions in government as well. That is where his true power lies. You have a lot of work to do.”
An owl bearing a letter interrupted their conversation. It cocked its leg out to Harry and when he removed it, the owl flew off again. Harry unfurled the letter. It was from Ben.
I’m glad you’re ok. When I woke up, both you and that man were gone. The last thing I remember was a flash of red light, then nothing.
These people you’re hiding from are a lot more dangerous than I thought, and you need to be very careful.
They wouldn’t have attacked us and kidnapped you if they weren’t completely sure that they would get away with it.
My address is 337 Elm Street East, New York, NY
I think you should come stay with me and May.
Be careful, and keep in touch,
Harry sighed as he looked at the letter. It wasn’t a bad idea. It would actually solve a lot of his problems. Dumbledore could never find him there.
“Don’t count on it,” Merlin denied. “He’ll find you again if you run. It’s just a matter of time, and you’ll have a much better chance facing him here.”
“Why is that?” Harry asked. “It didn’t seem to do much good today.”
“You have resources here,” Merlin explained. “The Minister for Magic, the Goblins. You’ll soon have a solicitor, and your name carries for more weight here than anywhere else.”
“Dumbledore cares about his reputation, and his positions far more than he cares about you. If you make it too costly for him personally, he will have no choice but to step back.”
“I hope you’re right,” Harry replied. Facing two adult wizards on the same day really put into perspective how far out of his depth he was, and how much he would have to improve.
The next morning Harry sat in the living room, waiting for Ted Tonks to arrive anxiously. He desperately needed a way to deal with Dumbledore.
A few moments later there was a knock at the door, and a brown-haired man in his early forties walked in carrying a briefcase.
“Hello,” He said, shaking Harry’s hand. “I’m Theodore Tonks, but you can call me Ted.”
“Thanks for meeting me on such short notice, Ted,” Harry said as they sat down.
“Think nothing of it,” Ted smiled. “So I take it you’re looking for a solicitor? What kind of help do you need?”
“Before we start, I need to know. Will you be discussing this with anyone else?” Harry asked.
“Absolutely not,” Ted shook his head. “Even though you have not hired me as your solicitor, any discussions we have are privileged, and I’m bound by magic not to discuss it with anyone unless I have your express consent.”
“Yesterday, someone named Moody attacked me and a muggle friend of mine under the instruction of Albus Dumbeldore. He knocked out my friend, kidnapped me, then brought me to Hogwarts,” Harry said, laying out what happened. “The only reason I escaped was because of a portkey that the Chairman gave me.”
“What??” Ted asked, his jaw dropping. This was definitely not what he was expecting to hear. He usually dealt with rich purebloods trying to protect their reputations after making some ill-informed decisions after a night out. “You need to bring this to the attention of the Aurors.”
“… That’s why I wanted to speak with you,” Harry sighed as he placed his wand on the coffee table. “When I solved Merlin’s cypher, this wand appeared in my pocket. Dumbledore knows I got it from Merlin’s Vault. He doesn’t have any proof that I took it, but he threatened to accuse me publicly of stealing it.”
“… I see,” Ted replied, looking at the wand. It was certainly distinct. “I assume disposing of the wand is not an option?”
“No,” Harry shook his head. “I can’t explain it, but I can’t destroy the wand. It’s mine,” he said, picking it up.
“Then I will have to do some research and figure out a strategy to deal with this,” Ted replied. “It will take me a few days, but please, don’t leave the bank in the meantime. It’s the safest place for you. No one will attack you here, unless they want to face down an army of goblins.”
“I will also put together a plan for you to grow your fortune and craft your public image. Was there anything else you needed?” Ted asked.
“No,” Harry shook his head, he didn’t really care much for the rest. His main focus was on how to deal with Dumbeldore, and whoever else was working for him.
“Good, don’t get worried. Stay calm. There’s a way out of this. It will just take some time to figure out,” Ted said. He knew that if he handled this right, he could secure the biggest client of his career, no more cleaning up after spoiled purebloods.
“Were you able to find the boy?” James asked as Albus entered through the fireplace.
“Yes, I spoke with him yesterday,” Albus said, careful not to reveal too much of what happened.
“Where is he?” Lily asked. “I thought you would bring him home.”
“That is proving to be more difficult,” Albus said. “As you know, Harry is emancipated now, so there is nothing we can do to force him to return.”
“There must be something we can do, Albus,” Lily asked.
“I believe Harry removed an item from Merlin’s vault,” Albus added. “I think with some more time for him to understand the seriousness of his actions, he will see reason.”
“He’s had more than enough time to think,” James replied. “It’s clear that he’s not going to do the right thing on his own. I think it’s time to take the decision out of his hands.”
“And how do you propose to do that?” Albus asked, already knowing it was going to be a terrible idea.
“We bring him home, by force. I think that after a few days with his family, he’ll realize that we have his best interests in mind,” James replied.
“James,” Albus began. “First off, there is nowhere near enough time before the start of Hogwarts to do what you suggest, and second, he has a goblin made portkey in his possession. He would only possess that if the Goblins took an interest in him. So unless you want them to come here knocking down your door, you will forget that idea in its entirety.”
James paled at the implication. Even he knew better than to get on the wrong side of the Goblins..
“Can you talk to him about the wand? I can’t imagine the Ministry will be happy that Harry has it,” Lilly suggested.
“That will be difficult to prove,” Albus replied, remembering Harry’s words. “The item he took was a wand. While we can claim he took it from the vault. He could easily claim that it was something he purchased with his new vault. The Ministry would not have enough evidence to act on it.”
“Then we can tell the press that it was really Glory that figured out the cypher and Harry ran off to the museum to get the credit before Glory,” Lily suggested. “If we involve the Wizengamot, we can at the very least take away Harry’s emancipation.”
“Those actions may be too rash,” Albus shook his head. “Harry knows about Glory’s less than favorable reputation with the international press. If we make accusations, he will make accusations of his own, and he will have a far easier time proving his claims than we will.”
“The best course of action is to wait, give Harry some time to come to the right decision,” Albus said. He knew the boy would arrive at Hogwarts soon, and with some time and a little planning, he could make up for their unfortunate first meeting.
“When is that supposed to be?” James asked.
“It’s not much longer until the start of the fall term,” Albus said. “When he is in Hogwarts and settles in, we can try to speak to him again.”
“Now if you will excuse me, I have another appointment, but we will discuss it again soon,” Albus promised, as he left.
“We can talk to him at the train station,” Lily suggested. “If we can see him, I don’t think it will take very much to convince him.”
“Nothing has worked so far,” James groused. “What makes you think he’ll listen now?”
“Harry just wants a little attention,” Lily replied. “That’s what all this acting out is about. We just have to tell him we’re proud of him and give him a pat on the head and he’ll do what he’s told.”
The next morning, Harry had his follow up meeting with Ted.
“I’ve got some good news for you Harry,” Ted said as looked through a large stack of papers. “It took some work, but the wand won’t be a problem for you. I have a few informants inside the Ministry and the Department of Mysteries. They’ve informed me that while the door to the Vault is open, there is still a magical field protecting the contents of the vault, so if it comes down to it, they won’t be able to prove you removed anything.”
“Added to that, I have the signed bill of sale for your wand from a reclusive wand maker in the Balkans that owes me a favor. Should Dumbledore move forward with these accusations, he won’t have a leg to stand on.”
“That’s a relief,” Harry replied. He knew it wasn’t exactly right to lie about it, but it was far better than doing what Dumbledore wanted.
Ted nodded, “and as for your public image, setting up a charity would be a good start.”
“What do you recommend?” Harry asked.
“Well, it can be anything really, but the best one will be something you care about.”
Harry sat back in his chair. ‘What do I care about?’ Harry thought.
Before all this started, it was just so simple. He cared about getting away from his family, just finding a place where they couldn’t ever find him.
Harry thought about Ben, helping him when no one else even looked twice at him. He thought about Bill, and his family, what he did with his life. Even Tom had gone out of his way to help him.
“I want to help people,” Harry said after a long pause. “Someone helped me when I really needed it. He asked me to pay it forward.”
“There’s certainly no shortage of people that need help,” Ted agreed.
“The werewolf population, for example. It’s difficult for them to find and keep jobs. Most of them end up destitute or working menial jobs in the muggle world, since no businesses in the magical world will hire them.”
“The war also left behind a lot of orphans. There are a few orphanages for them, but they’re overcrowded, and they can only stay until they reach the age of majority. After that, they’re on their own. A lot of them turn to crime to survive, usually ending up spending a stint or two in Azkaban as well.”
“The war veterans could also use some help. Some of them are in long-term care because of their injuries, both physical and mental, and a lot more end up on the streets because they can’t afford the treatments they need to work a normal job.”
“Doesn’t the Ministry do anything to help them?” Harry asked in surprise.
“They do a lot more now than they used to,” Ted acknowledged. “But the money they set aside is nowhere near enough, and a lot of the purebloods that have the money to help are only interested in appearing to help, rather than spending their galleons.”
“What about the orphans?” Harry asked. “Why aren’t they able to find jobs after leaving Hogwarts?”
“They never get to attend Hogwarts,” Ted explained. “The Ministry covers a third of the expenses, and the parents cover another third. The remaining amount comes from donations from Alumni, revenue generated by selling potions the students produce, sales of tickets to Quiditich games, and a percentage of the sales for school textbooks.”
“If they don’t go to Hogwarts, how do they learn magic?” Harry asked.
“The Ministry provides a free course, but it’s pretty basic, just four weeks long. They just learn to get their accidental magic under control. They aren’t even given wands.”
After a long moment, Harry decided. “I want to start by helping the children,” Harry decided. “How much will it cost per student?”
“It’s about 6000 galleons per student, per year. Your portion would then be 2000 galleons per student, and an additional 50 galleons for textbooks and other school supplies each.”
“To start, I suggest three students, and when your vault generates some income, we can look into expanding the number of students, or look into other groups to help,” Ted suggested.
“Will we be able to start this year?” Harry asked.
“The timing will be a little tight, but I think we can manage it,” Ted smiled. “Next, we can discuss how to invest your fortune,” he said, keeping the conversation moving along.
“There are various businesses that you can buy into. Nimbus seems like a good place to start. They’re a bit undervalued at the moment, and rumor has it they’ll be launching a new broom soon that will increase their revenues substantially. They just need an investor to come on board to help with production costs.”
“Flourish and Blotts is another good one, primarily a bookstore, as you know, but they have plans to expand into owl orders soon.”
“I’ll put a list together if you would like to retain my services,” Ted offered.
“Alright,” Harry agreed.
“Great,” Ted smiled as he pulled out a contract. “Please read this and sign when you are ready.”
Harry quickly read over the contract. Everything seemed fine. Either party could cancel whenever they wished and everything would remain confidential. Ted would receive 1.5% of the profits from Harry’s investments as payment.
Harry signed the contract and passed it back to Ted, who signed his part.
“This is your copy,” Ted said as he made a duplicate for himself and handed the original contract to Harry.
“I will also send Professor Dumbledore shortly, informing him I am now representing you, and that any further communication not relating directly to your schooling can only be while I am present.” Ted explained.
“Do you think that will work?” Harry asked skeptically. “He didn’t seem like the type of person that would stop just because of a letter.”
“I also informed him that I knew about your first ‘meeting’ with him and their circumstances,” Ted went on. “If I suspect you are under the influence of any potions or mind altering spells you will be evaluated by a professional.”
“That’s all?” Harry asked. “Isn’t there anything else we can do?” He had hoped to at least file a complaint with the Aurors.
“That would be difficult,” Ted sighed. “Professor Dumbeldore holds many important political positions both in Britain, and abroad. It would be your word against his, and you have nowhere near the influence or connections that he does.”
“Then what good will the letter do?” Harry asked, wondering if it would be better to take his chances and leave the country.
“That’s the thing about people in power,” Ted explained. “They always have something to lose, it’s just a matter of knowing what it is, and applying the right amount of pressure.”
“How’s this letter going to pressure him?” Harry asked, confused. “You said it yourself, getting the Aurors involved won’t do anything.”
“Dumbeldore isn’t a young man anymore,” Ted explained. “He has another ten, perhaps fifteen years left before he dies. His reputation, his legacy, are the most important thing to him now.”
“Every action he takes is carefully planned to account for that, and you have just enough influence now to tarnish it. He won’t take that risk.”
“Why not do it anyway?” Harry asked, “let people see what he’s really like.”
“In this case, the threat of exposure is far more useful to you than the reality of it,” Ted explained. “Dumbeldore will more than likely be able to bury this complaint, but to do that he will have to spend more of his political capital than he wants. You would also lose your protection, and free him to act against you.”
Albus sat in his office talking with Alastor as he thought about his discussion with Harry, and the boy’s dramatic exit. Looking back at it now, it was clear that he underestimated him.
“I told you the kid was good,” Moody smirked.
“Yes, so you said,” Albus replied, rubbing his temples. “What can we do to find him now?”
“Honestly… not much,” Moody admitted. “We have less than a week before Hogwarts starts, and if he’s where I think he is, there’s no way to get to him now.”
“Gringotts?” Albus asked.
“Can you check with your contact? At least confirm it?” Albus asked.
“Not a chance.” Moody shook his head. “That will bring way too much suspicion down on them. They’re too well placed for me to risk that.” Moody leaned back in his chair. “He’s still registered for school, right? Have your ‘talk’ with him when he shows up.”
Albus was about to answer when an owl flew in with a newspaper. As a member of the Wizengamot, he had subscriptions for all the newspapers in Wizarding Europe.
What immediately caught his eye was that Le Gardien, a French newspaper, had a headline about the British Aristocracy.
BRITISH LORD ATTACKS POLITICAL RIVAL
By Rita Skeeter
Many of you may be asking yourself why a British reporter has an article published about the Aristocracy of a foreign country. The answer is simple. No newspaper in Britain is brave enough to publish it.
Why? Because this article exposes the corruption at the heart of the Wizengamot of Britain.
Lord Harry James Potter abused his position on the Wizengamot to manipulate the democratic election for the office of Minister for Magic.
He falsely reported Cornelius Fudge to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, then used his clout in the Wizengamot to have a team of Hit Wizards sent to his home.
When the Hit Wizards stormed the Fudge residence, they were not following the proper protocols. They did not announce their presence and did not give the occupants a chance to surrender peacefully.
They attacked an unarmed Isabela Fudge, the only one home at the time, with an unknown series of spells, leaving her in a coma to this day.
The now duly elected Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, tried numerous times to bring these Hit Wizards to justice, but was summarily blocked by the Wizengamot on every occasion.
He attempted to bring this to the British Press, but no newspaper in Britain was willing to side against the Wizengamot.
All evidence of this heinous crime has been collected and destroyed, and if not for a very brave confidential informant, the perpetrator of this crime would have escaped justice.
See the animated pictures below to see the heated argument between Cornelius Fudge and James Potter, who not only admitted to this heinous act but also had the audacity to call it a miscalculation.
What we don’t know is who helped him. Who helped James Potter commit this attack? Who helped to cover it up? And most importantly, if they were willing to attack a candidate for Minister for Magic during an election, what else have they done?
I promise you that this is just the start of my investigation. I will leave no stone unturned, and I will make sure that everyone that took part in this heinous miscarriage of justice and its subsequent cover up are brought to justice.
Albus’s hands were shaking as he took out his wand and tapped the picture, watching as James admitted to everything. Obviously it was not the full argument they had, just clips, but the results were devastating.
“… Damn,” Moody said after reading the article himself. With one article, she had flipped the entire British Aristocracy on its head.
Albus said nothing as he stalked to his fireplace. “Potter Manor,” he growled as he threw in a pinch of floo powder.
“James, step through,” Albus ordered when he saw the man’s face.
“Hello Albus,” James said, not realizing the severity of his predicament. “It’s going to have to wait. I have some important business to take care of.”
“That was not a request,” Albus said, the anger clearly evident in his tone. “You will either step through or I will drag you through.”
James immediately sobered at the old man’s tone and stepped through quickly. He had never seen Albus in such a state.
As soon as he entered the office of the headmaster, he felt something impact his chest. He reflexively grabbed it before it fell to the ground.
“Read it!” Albus demanded.
James looked down in confusion, but dutifully read the article. His eyes grew wide at the headline and his face steadily paled as he read through the article. He didn’t even have to view the pictures to know the trouble he was in.
James slowly looked up into the furious eyes of the Headmaster, very much feeling the dread he felt in his youth for his father.
“I asked you what you talked to Fudge about. You told me it was just about Harry,” Albus accused.
“Albus… it’s… I didn’t know he recorded it,” James finished lamely.
“Do you have any idea?!” Albus said, shaking his head. “All the favors I had to call in? All the promises I had to make? Just to cover all of this up for you in the first place?”
“I made a mistake,” James admitted.
“You did a lot more than that,” Moody said as he stood up. “You painted a target on all of us. Every. Single. One. of our allies. Skeeter said it herself. She’s going to keep digging. What else do you think she’s going to find?”
“We can tell people she faked the pictures. I’ll keep a low profile for a while and the whole thing will blow over soon,” James said, trying to convince himself just as much as the other two men.
“The pictures don’t matter anymore, the story is already out there,” Albus explained. “The public will want an inquiry. They’ll start asking why you don’t just submit to questioning under veritaserum to clear your name, and then they will draw the obvious conclusion when you don’t.”
James looked away as his hopes to get out of this situation unscathed went up in flames. “What do we do now?” He asked desperately.
“WE?” Dumbledore demanded. “Where was this consideration for your allies when you created this mess not once, but twice?”
“There must be something,” James begged.
“Yes, something I should have done when you made this mess in the first place,” Albus said, sitting down in his chair, glaring. “I’m done with you.”
“What?… What do you mean, done?” James’ eyes widened.
“I am tired of cleaning up your messes, and those of your unhinged and psychotic brat,” Albus replied. “I’m done trying to build her reputation on the world stage, only for her to destroy it just as quickly.”
“But she’s the girl-who-lived,” James said numbly. “She defeated the dark lord.”
“There is nothing special about your daughter,” Albus said bluntly. “Quite the opposite, actually. She is not intelligent, or resourceful, or even powerful magically for her age. If the dark lord ever returns, anyone from her age group would stand a better chance than her.”
“Leave, but if you breathe one word of my involvement or anyone else’s in covering up your crimes, you will see the apathy I currently hold for you quickly change. Do I make myself clear?” Albus demanded.
James nodded as he quickly made his way to the fireplace and left.
“What do you want to do about him?” Moody asked.
“There’s nothing we can do,” Albus muttered darkly. “If he were to meet with an ‘unfortunate’ accident now, it would just lead to more investigations. The risk is too high that it will lead back to us.”
“Do you really think he’ll keep his mouth shut?” Moody asked skeptically.
Albus sighed audibly as he leaned back in his chair. “No… I doubt he’s smart enough for that, but the evidence is already destroyed. If he points fingers, it will just make him look like a desperate man trying to keep himself out of Azkaban. A few articles in the Prophet should take care of it.”
“Even then,” Moody said as he walked to the fireplace. “It’s not the kind of attention we want to draw. I’ll double check nothing leads back to us.” He said as he left.
Dumbledore popped a lemon drop into his mouth, deep in thought. The one saving grace seemed to be that it was in a foreign newspaper. With any luck, it wouldn’t draw too much attention from the rabble.
Cornelius smiled as he read the newspaper in his study. Working with Skeeter was proving to be even more useful than he hoped.
The fact that the article was published in a French newspaper instead of the Prophet meant that it would not get much attention in Britain, but it would still get the attention from the people he needed to see it most, the Wizengamot.
It would force them to act now. They couldn’t allow Potter to remain on the Wizengamot after this scandal, and many of the protections he had as a member would be gone with it.
It would take time, but he would take everything away from James Potter, just like he had done to him. “Soon Isabel,” Cornelius promised, “soon.”