You're my Density

Just Suppose Harry hadn't heeded his godfather's advice, and actually lost his temper at his trial? Time travel fic and title is 'Back to the Future' joke.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11033616/1/You-re-my-Density

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29. Justice!

The atmosphere inside the great hall that Sunday morning was a strange one. As the students would be heading home tomorrow for their Christmas Holidays, you would then expect the prevailing mood to be a jovial one. Today's issue of the Prophet however cast a dark cloud over everyone who read that the Ministry were still no closer to producing an antidote for Hermione Granger. What was strange though were the whispers going around the castle that something remarkable had happened. A smiling McGonagall entering the great hall provided the vital spark that had been missing for so many of them - hope.

Rather than keep everyone waiting, Minerva honoured her promise to the students and immediately approached the podium to pass on the good news.

"We have all hoped Miss Granger could be saved from her terrible fate. As time progressed though, I think it's fair to say our hope was fading. Due to the intervention of an old friend of Hogwarts however, I have some very good news to pass on. Miss Granger is not only out of danger, Madam Pomfrey expects her to make a complete recovery…" The hall exploded, and Minerva let them go. She herself had acted similarly not yet an hour ago.

-o-

Harry was standing beside Dan as everyone hugged and congratulated them. No one could get near Hermione at the moment, the girl and her mother were entwined in an emotional embrace that didn't look to be ending anytime soon.

Hugging Dan and Harry before kissing Sirius, Amelia had to leave at once for the ministry. She was also advising them they might be better having a press conference at Hogwarts, rather than having reporters hounding them when they left the castle. Harry quickly agreed, and asked if she could arrange something for them.

After establishing with Poppy that Miss Granger really was going to be fine, Minerva's attention switched to the ghost that was present. "Albus, what are you doing here? I can't imagine you having unfinished business…"

"Minerva, it's so good to see you again too. As Headmistress, you should know that help will always be given to those in Hogwarts who require it. In all honesty, I've never seen a couple who needed help more. I was delighted to do what I could.."

"Albus, save that bull for someone who doesn't know you and answer the question I asked. What are you doing here?"

Giving a little smile, Albus told Minerva the truth - just not all of it. "You know the task those two have been left with. I made a promise to them on my deathbed that if they ever needed me, I would try to help any way I could. I have no fear of crossing over, nor do I want to remain here. If it means aiding Harry and Hermione however, I'm prepared to do anything and everything I can."

"Like calling Fawkes?"

"Oh no, That is something I am no longer able to do. As you would have seen at my funeral, Fawkes is very taken with this young couple. Harry merely mentioned his name and Fawkes appeared, willing to help."

Both of them watched as Hermione and Emma were now busy thanking the beautiful phoenix, and Fawkes appeared to be revelling in the attention. "Normally when a familiar bond is broken, The phoenix will leave and never be seen again. It wouldn't surprise me however if my old friend decided to bond with either Hermione or Harry. It would be good for all three of them."

Minerva was standing talking about the possibility of a phoenix bonding to a muggleborn with her long time, and now dead, friend - all this before breakfast too.

-o-

Back at breakfast, Minerva got them quietened down before saying what she needed to. "Miss Granger and Mister Potter should be rejoining us sometime today, I want to make something clear to everyone though. Both have had quite the traumatic few days, that's not going to leave them in the next few hours. it would be a very foolish person who used this attack as a basis to taunt either of the pair."

Minerva's steely gaze swept over the entire hall, and it was no coincidence it lingered longer on the Slytherins. The last thing they needed now was for Harry or Hermione to put someone through a wall for a deliberately crass comment aimed at them.

-oOoOo-

The group, minus a once more departed Albus, finally left the infirmary and made it back to the Grangers' accommodation. With Fawkes sitting on Hermione's shoulder for the journey, the few people that they met in the corridors would soon have that news all over the castle. When they settled onto the couch, Hermione and Harry practically became one being while Fawkes perched on the back of a chair, Neville then said he would catch them later. With Susan and Luna confirming they too would need to go and pack for the holidays, it was soon only family left.

Petunia was a person who missed very little, just ask anyone who knew her. She could see there was something else going on here, something they obviously didn't want to include her or Dudley in. While hurt, she really couldn't complain about it. Petunia did want to point out she had noticed though.

"I'm overjoyed that Hermione has recovered but if you need Dudley and me to leave - so you can talk about what really happened - please just say."

Roller coaster didn't come close to describing Harry's emotional state since Hermione had gotten attacked. Those emotions had sank lower than the deepest mineshaft, only to soar into the stratosphere the second his Hermione had returned to him. The support his family had provided had been crucial in getting Harry through those long hours of watching Hermione lying motionless on that infirmary bed. It was an easy decision for him to make.

"Aunt Petunia, Dudley, how would you like to meet my mum and dad?"

Of course it was Hermione who sounded the note of caution. "Are you sure, Harry?"

"They're my family, Hermione, a family who came running when I needed them. With you lying in the infirmary, our family were the only thing that kept me sane. Even then, I would say it became a close run thing. Sirius, you want to give Remus a shout? I'd really prefer just to do this the once."

A grinning Sirius was out of the room like a shot, leaving Harry facing his shocked aunt and cousin.

"I'm not playing a trick on you, nor am I going to call them now. I've done it before, it was wonderful and pure torture at the same time. Talking it over with my mum and dad, we agreed to make their visits an annual event. I intend to call them sometime over the Christmas holidays. This gives us time to think of what we want to ask or say to them, and also prepare for the shock of seeing them again. We have a lot more to tell you, let's just wait until everyone gets here."

At that, both elves popped in and Hermione was off the couch. She was kneeling with Dobby held in one of her patented hugs, one that the little guy was returning with interest.

"Next time Dobby be stunning, and then letting his family deal with it later."

"Dobby, you go right ahead and do that." Emma's emotional declaration was quickly agreed upon by Dan and Harry. Hermione had pulled Darla into the hug too before Sirius returned with Remus.

Harry called a family meeting but the elves popped away for a few seconds, returning with drinks and snacks. Harry held Hermione as she told their tale, only interrupting when he felt she was underplaying her role.

By the end of it all, Remus was shocked but Petunia and Dudley were in bits. Harry went over and put is arms around both of them. "The ministry may have done a number on me, but they did the exact same thing to you - for no other reason than I'm your relation. They must have removed all memories of magic from you too. The upbringing and family I remember were a loving one. You and Uncle Vernon were as good as parents to me, while Dudley and I were more like brothers than cousins. That's the memories I have. That's the family I have - a family that were there for me when I really needed them. Last night was the worst of my life, thinking I was going to lose Hermione sometime today. You helped me through that, and helped get my Hermione back."

"I didn't help, I was in the bathroom throwing up." Realising what he'd just said, Dudley apologised. "Sorry Hermione, that sounded bad."

"Boy takes one look at me and throws up - how could that sound bad?" Hermione's grin actually helped Dudley reboot his brain.

He then asked a question for clarification. "So you two are really like - in your twenties?"

Now grinning too, Harry answered as best he could. "We were eighteen and nineteen when we came back, and have now been back for just over a year, so around about the twenty mark. It took some getting used to, looking in the mirror and seeing an eleven year old me looking back - especially before I got my hair cut and fitted with contacts."

Dan also helped out with the timescales. "We discovered the truth during last year's Christmas Holidays. It was only after Albus died that Sirius and Amelia were brought into the secret. Dudley, you're the only person their age who knows the truth. Are you going to be okay with that?"

"I'll be fine." Dudley's sharp answer was then quantified by the now scared twelve year old boy. "I don't want anyone using magic to make me forget about things - or remember them differently."

He got Harry's instant agreement and backing for that. Remus eventually found his voice, understanding why they'd waited before telling him - and also offering to help them any way he could. Harry's grin this time could only be described as predatory.

"Thanks Remus. You're most definitely invited along for when we talk with my mum and dad. Would you be up for a bit of grave robbing over the holidays too, along with Sirius?"

This obviously required more explanation but Petunia couldn't hold back the question that was really eating away at her.

"Could I really speak to Lily?"

Emma sat beside Petunia and told the story of when they'd met the ghosts of Lily and James Potter. "Lily said to tell her sister that she was on the right path…"

Hearing that, Petunia broke down and Emma held her close. It was actually a cathartic process for both women. Petunia really needed to release her anguish at her previous treatment of Lily's son. Emma agreed one hundred percent with Harry, only the support of her family and friends had seen her through the last two days. Madam Pomfrey had offered both her and Dan the opportunity of having their memories of being imperiused and then attacking Hermione removed from their minds - they had instantly refused. They would get through this as a family, and come out the other side stronger. Being able to offer Petunia comfort was actually helping Emma too.

Sirius was explaining to Remus just what graves they would be robbing, and why, when Amelia returned. She had Augusta and Cornelius with her too, both of whom made straight for Hermione. Augusta's stern exterior was nowhere in evidence as she hugged one of her grandson's best friends. "You had us really worried dear, and I can't say how pleased I am to see you up and well."

Cornelius offered similar sentiments, thought with a handshake and a lot more emotional control.

"The press returned to Hogwarts with us, the headmistress is placing them in the classroom you both use for your training. Do you need some advice on what to say to them?"

The Minister looked at Harry expectantly but he had no intention of turning control of this press conference over to Cornelius. "Thank you, Minister, but we have it covered. Sirius, Dan and I discussed this while waiting on Hermione to recover."

After Fawkes stepped onto her shoulder, Hermione stood beside Harry - ready to face anything. She already knew the men in question wouldn't have discussed what would have happened if she didn't pull through. None of them would have wanted to face that. She would talk about it with Harry when they had some alone time. "So, are you going to tell me what you lot discussed?"

"No time, love. You'll soon find out, and we can talk about it later."

With her parents right behind them, Hermione and Harry led as they headed for the classroom.

-oOoOo-

Few people would recognise Severus Snape as he purchased a copy of the Daily Prophet in Paris. With a ten thousand galleon price tag on his head, he was forced to take drastic measures. He was livid after reading yesterday that those bloody muggles not only didn't kill Potter, both had survived to point the finger at him. His anger had lasted up until he read about the Ministry of Magic placing such a large bounty on the death eater, Severus Snape.

The wizard buying today's issue of the Prophet was almost bald, with short greying hair surrounding the expanse of showing scalp on the top of his head. A sip of ageing potion would also have seen anyone being asked to estimate his age guess at nearer sixty than his thirty four years.

Reading the front page of his newspaper though saw some of those wrinkles disappear, Severus' aged face was now wearing a wide smile. He knew the Ministry potions masters wouldn't be able to produce an antidote to his poison, certainly not in the time they had available. The poison he had concocted was far too complicated to decipher in anything less than a week.

He could actually visualise Potter sitting helplessly beside the dying Granger's bed, with both her grieving parents present too. That happy thought was the reason for Severus' smile. Had he put a bit more thought and planning into the attack, he would have engineered this scenario. Severus now realised this was actually a better outcome for his retribution - Potter being forced to be nothing more than a spectator as death slowly took the woman he loved. Apart from everyone knowing who instigated the attack, Severus thought his revenge was perfect. Potter knowing who caused Granger's demise actually felt great, it was the ten thousand in gold reward on Severus' head that frightened him.

Severus was well aware there were ruthless wizards and witches who would hunt down and kill someone for a lot less gold than that. He would stay in the outskirts of Paris one more day, awaiting confirmation that Granger was dead. Then it would be time to disappear and begin searching for the Dark Lord. He might even get lucky and see the Prophet printing a picture of a broken-hearted Potter on its front page. That would be something Severus would keep as a memento. It would also serve as a golden ticket to pay his way back into the Dark Lord's good graces - or at least not see him tortured to death under his master's wand.

-oOoOo-

While the reporters were sitting on seats at the front of the class, Hermione was pleased to see some of their friends and McGonagall sitting at the back. Augusta led Remus, Petunia and Dudley over to join them while the rest of the group made for the tables and chairs that had clearly been laid out for the interview.

As Harry was holding Hermione's chair for her to sit, Fawkes' perch from Dumbledore's office was placed behind them by a Hogwarts elf. The Phoenix sang its thanks before moving off Hermione's shoulder and taking up a position where Fawkes could see everything in the classroom. Emma sat on Hermione's other side with Dan taking the end chair. Cornelius was stopped from sitting in the centre beside Harry purely by the fact Sirius beat him to the chair. With Amelia claiming the seat beside her fiancé, Cornelius found himself sitting at the opposite end of the table from Dan.

The reporters had been given a short press release explaining the circumstances behind Hermione's recovery - though with no mention of Dumbledore's ghost making an appearance. Seeing how the seating arrangements had played out however saw the first question of the day being fired at Harry.

"Do you or your intended blame the ministry for releasing Snape from Azkaban early?"

Taking a minute to form his answer, Harry soon had the reporters' quills flying across their parchment. "Were their mistakes made with Snape? I would have to say yes..."

Before Cornelius could say anything to defend his ministry, Harry quantified his answer. "Albus Dumbledore confided to Hermione and myself he thought vouching for Snape back in eighty one was a mistake. Snape convinced the headmaster that he was nothing more than a young wizard who had made a bad life choice, a choice he tried to rectify by spying on Voldemort for Dumbledore. Looking back at Snape's behaviour and attitude since that time, it's now clear to see he didn't really change."

As Cornelius began to relax, Harry dropped his next bomb. "I also made a mistake. At Snape's trial, I had information that could have seen him facing far more severe charges. That was information I really didn't want to reveal at the time so used the mere threat of releasing it to force Snape to change his plea to guilty. I thought getting Snape out of Hogwarts would be enough to neutralise him, clearly I was wrong. By my calculations, had the Ministry not released Snape when they did, he would have been out this week anyway. The Ministry is in no way to blame for this incident, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their hard work in trying to find an antidote for Hermione."

There were a few questions shouted after hearing that, Harry chose which one to answer. It was the one he'd hoped for.

"When you say the Ministry isn't guilty for this incident, are you implying they are guilty of something else?"

"First I would like to say that neither of the Ministry officials sitting here are in any way implicated in these mistakes but yes, the Ministry really dropped the quaffle. We have a perfect example of Ministerial Justice working as it should in this room with us. Dan and Emma Granger were placed under the imperius curse, something that was quickly established beyond any doubt by the use of truth serum. This begs the question 'why was this procedure not used on those death eaters who claimed to have committed their crimes due to being under the influence of this curse?' That the Head of the D.M.L.E. from that period now resides in Azkaban, alongside Lucius Malfoy - a supposed imperius victim - means all those 'I was under the imperius' cases need to be at the very least reexamined. When death eaters can use the imperius curse on Hogwarts professors to murder their students then our society really has to take action and eliminate this threat once and for all. As I said, we have the perfect example of Ministerial justice sitting beside us here. Those who were genuinely under the influence of this unforgivable curse have absolutely nothing to fear..."

As Harry's voice trailed into silence, Cornelius was getting ready to step in and attempt some damage limitation here. Reopening all those cases could wreck havoc on their society. A reporter asking another question would kill that idea stone dead, or rather Harry's answer to it would.

"Can I ask what information you had on Snape, and why would you not want to release it?"

Hermione's hand moving over and clasping Harry's raised one or two eyebrows, that was before Harry's answer blew their minds.

"Albus had kept this information secret for many years, it was not something he wanted know by the general public. He thought it would paint a large target on me and mine. Since we all know why we're here, no one can refute that danger already exists. Years ago, a prophecy was made to Albus that a child would be born with the power to defeat the dark lord. That child is me!"

The silence this time was total. Hardened reporters sat there not knowing what to ask next, too busy thinking the story of the decade had just landed in their laps. Cornelius too was at a loss for words, a highly unusual state of affairs for a career politician. It was left to Harry to break the silence, the entire classroom now hanging on his every word.

"Voldemort didn't come to Godric's Hollow that night to murder my parents, he came for me. While Pettigrew certainly gave Voldemort our address, it was Snape who pointed his master in our direction. Snape had overheard the prophecy being made and quickly informed his master of this."

The questions then started pouring out, with Harry point blank refusing to reveal the actual wording of the prophecy. He did respond to one asking if this didn't focus the remaining death eaters'

attention onto him and his family.

"We know Voldemort isn't really gone, can the country really afford to have his followers sitting waiting on his return? Every follower we take out now is one less we'll have to fight when Voldemort returns and they don their masks again. Without these death eaters' political, financial and magical backing, the threat of Voldemort is greatly reduced. Those old enough will remember how bad it was the last time, can our society survive going down that same road again?"

The reporters then turned their attention to the ministry officials sitting in front of them. Amelia neatly sidestepped that attention by declaring her department stood ready to carry out whatever orders they were given. Cornelius palmed the press off with some 'taking the situation under advisement' platitudes but could see he was rather neatly boxed in here.

Conformation of Harry's prophecy claims would see a new nomenclature attached to this young man, the boy-who-gets-whatever-he-bloody-asks-for. Since Harry clearly wanted the death eater problem dealt with, that was what Cornelius was going to have to do. His one consolation would be that, when this story hit the papers, the public would be clamouring for their Ministry to do that very same thing. For a politician, having public opinion on your side was always a good thing.

Seeing they were getting nothing more out of the Minister, the reporters returned their attention to Harry's side of the table. A question aimed at Emma concerning Snape saw Harry closing that avenue right down.

"Snape is nothing more than a cowardly death eater, cursing muggles and using poisonous potions really is about the limit of his abilities. The only thing he excels at is looking after his own skin, which probably means he's already gotten himself out of the country. With the Ministry now facing a far more serious task, I would hate to see a large proportion of Madam Bones' aurors tied up in the search for this loser. I thought the Ministry's idea of placing a ten thousand galleon price tag on the criminal's head was a very good one. To help speed up that capture, the house of Potter will add another twenty thousand to the pot."

Before anyone else could comment, Sirius knew this was his moment to back his godson. "I agree with everything my godson and heir has said today. His intended was also under the protection of my house so I'll add another twenty thousand to the pot. This cowardly attack on our family will be dealt with. Since Snivilius is probably hiding in a deep dark hole somewhere, a fifty thousand galleon reward will hopefully soon see that hole full of people wanting to claim that gold. As someone who personally suffered with what passed as Ministerial justice, back before Minister Fudge and my fiancée were in charge, I too call on the Ministry to clean up this historical mess it's been left with."

Fawkes trilling while nodding his head in what appeared like agreement with Sirius' sentiments saw a question being politely asked of Hermione.

"Is their any truth in the rumours that Fawkes has bonded with you?"

A smiling Hermione stood and petted the beautiful bird. "I don't know about bonding, Fawkes here feels more like one of the family. It's very hard to describe..."

The Phoenix leaning over and affectionately rubbing his head off Hermione's recently healed cheek answered the question better than words could.

Cornelius was now desperate to end this press conference and this seemed like a good opportune moment to do so. That Harry and his family then posed for some pictures - a few including him - left Cornelius thinking these two had learned more than magic from their former mentor. Their clever manipulation of the Ministry was a feat worthy of Albus Dumbledore himself.

With the last picture taken, the press couldn't get out of there fast enough. Only the fact it was now dinner time would stop the newspapers printing special editions. Xeno Lovegood was the only reporter to hang back, he wanted a chat with his daughter. When Petunia heard that chat becoming more of an interview, she deliberately interrupted by introducing herself.

"Hello Mister Lovegood, I'm Mrs Dursley - though I suppose that should be Professor Dursley, since we're currently inside Hogwarts. I'm glad to meet you, and you can rest assured Luna will be fine when she stays with us over the holidays."

Listening to this father tell his daughter the article she would write over the holidays was now more important than ever had Petunia's arm slipping supportively around Luna - something Xeno should have already done. Petunia had witnessed first hand how Hermione being attacked had affected this girl, it would seem there would be no comforting coming from her parent. As Xeno left too, Luna attempted an explanation for his behaviour.

"Daddy always gets carried away when he's working on a big story..."

While holding Luna a little tighter, Petunia asked the question that got right to the heart of the matter. "...and how often does your father work on these big stories?"

Putting her head down, Luna couldn't answer - she didn't need to.

After checking that Harry and Hermione were going down to dinner, McGonagall began to get all of them moving in the direction of the great hall. Cornelius was having a discussion with Amelia, a privacy charm ensuring they weren't overhead. As Sirius was waiting on his fiancée, Remus took the opportunity to have a word with his best friend.

"You were very low key there regarding Snape..."

"Remus, you of all people must know I want that bastard dead. The difference now is I don't mind if it's not me who actually kills him - just as long as the job gets done. Going after Peter saw me lose a decade. That's a decade I should have spent with Ami, raising Harry, Susan and the next generation of Blacks. That's the new mature version of me talking. Put Snivilius in this room though and I'll rip his head off, before spitting down the bastard's neck."

"I believe you. I was just surprised, that's all."

"You also know Snivilius. How do you think he'll react to being dismissed out of hand like that?"

"Oh his ego will be severely dented. Livid isn't a strong enough word..." A though suddenly hit Remus. "You deliberately set out to do that!"

There might be a smile forming on Sirius' lips but that smile never reached his cold, hard eyes. "Angry people make mistakes - I should know. That fifty thousand in gold will attract the attention of people who will pick up on those mistakes. I want him hunted down like the rabid animal he is, without Ami having to have half her department tied up in the search. They have far more important work to be getting on with."

"You think Fudge will actually go for this?"

"Ami is currently telling him Harry mentioned the prophecy while waiting on Hermione recovering. He wouldn't say what it was, but she can confirm its existence in the hall of prophecy. If you were in Fudge's shoes, what would you do?"

Thinking for a moment, Remus gave the only answer he could. "With Harry now established as the wizard prophesied to defeat Voldemort, Fudge really has to support him. Neither Harry nor Amelia would go along with any scheme that Fudge might come up with to look after the couple - he really has to remove the problem. After what happened here, that's what the press will be screaming for too..."

Nodding his agreement, Sirius added his own two knuts. "We came up with this while sitting at Hermione's bedside. Harry is powerful and driven but don't underestimate his intelligence either. Dan Granger is also a very smart man, and both needed something to take their mind off the young witch lying dying on the bed. We either end this or all of us then start living on Black Island. Snape's attack took away the middle ground and imposed a timetable on us. Four of our family were meant to die in this attack, that can't and won't be ignored. Fudge really has to act, otherwise it's over for us in Britain. We can't take on Voldemort and all his death eaters too. We need the bastard isolated, his supporters facing the justice they deserve, then we have a shot at ending this."

"Just say what you need, I'll be there."

Ami came over before anymore could be said, the passion in her kiss enough to tell Sirius what was happening. "I'm going to be busy, love. You'll need to look after our family."

"I think we'll all bunk at Grimmauld until you're free again. It's big enough to handle everyone. Our lot will be giving the train a miss, we can floo from Minerva's office. You be careful." After kissing his fiancée, Sirius made a point of shaking Cornelius' hand.

"Minister, I think you're doing the right thing. It may be tough but I've no doubts our country will not only be a safer place when you're done, it will also be a better place."

As the two ministry officials left, Sirius put his hand on Remus' shoulder. "Moony, I've hardly eaten a bite for two days and my appetite seems to have returned with a vengeance. Let's go and get some dinner."

-oOoOo-

With Fawkes' perch appearing at the end of the Gryffindor table nearest to the professors, that's where the group of students headed. The shouted greetings, cheers and even some applause had Hermione blushing. Being wedged between Harry and Dudley, with Fawkes on her shoulder, gave Hermione the confidence to walk into the busy hall - and help overcome the memory of the last time she was here. The elves had added a water dish and also one containing figs and plums to Fawkes' perch - something the phoenix seemed to appreciate.

With Neville, Parvati, Padma, Susan and Luna joining the trio at the table too, and the professors only a matter of yards away, Hermione began to relax. This actually seemed strange to her, since the last thing she remembered before waking earlier was Madam Pomfrey trying to treat her in this very hall.

While that had been unbelievably painful, she could see Harry had been through the mill and Hermione couldn't wait to get him alone in her bed later. Only then would he open up, and they could perhaps start the process of putting this incident behind them.

Talking to Neville about the Longbottom Ball, and then turning Susan's attention onto a certain looming wedding managed to introduce a bit of normality into a situation that needed it. Hermione wanted things to get back to normal as quickly as possible. She knew the family would be having talks on what the future held, the current status quo being unsupportable. This might actually be their last dinner in Hogwarts, Hermione wanted to be able to look back at it with fond memories.

-oOoOo-

There was no wide smile to iron-out Snape's manufactured wrinkles today. Reading the paper in his shaking hands seemed to be adding another decade to Severus' potion projected age. The picture and headline in the Prophet were enough to manage that themselves, he hadn't actually managed to drag his gaze off that yet to read the actual article.

The picture featured a sitting Potter looking lovingly up at a standing Granger. The reason for her miraculous recovery was explained by the picture too, she was rubbing cheeks with an affectionate phoenix. Snape couldn't be a hundred percent sure but thought it was Fawkes, a Phoenix he was certain wouldn't be seen again.

The headline then left no one in any doubt what the Prophet's take on the matter was.

Phoenix Saves Chosen One's Intended after Cowardly Death Eater Attack

As he read through the article, things only got worse for Severus - much worse. Details that a prophecy existed between Potter and the Dark Lord would see the ministry fall over themselves to give the brat whatever he wanted. That Severus Snape was named as the person who passed details of that prophecy onto the Dark Lord - leading to the attack on the Potters - would certainly see a death sentence waiting on him should he return to Britain.

Reading that Potter wanted all the death eater cases reopened, with questions on their past activities being asked under truth serum, means the ministry might have serious competition in the race to kill him. All those death eaters who had used their position and gold to escape Azkaban or worse would now be cursing his name. They would certainly be firing actual curses at him if they ever managed to bring their wands to bear on his person.

Potter and Black's derogatory comments - obviously deliberately aimed at Severus - had his temper reaching white hot, only for it to be quenched by the icy hand of fear that now gripped him after reading the really scary part. If his master had some way of collecting that offered reward, Severus knew he would be all out of options - a walking dead man.

Fifty thousand galleons in gold was a fortune, a fortune anyone who knew Severus wouldn't hesitate to kill him and collect. That was a life changing sum of gold, a life ending sum for him.

It was now imperative he not only find the Dark Lord as quickly as possible, Severus needed his master restored to his own body too. While confident of his own abilities, the calibre and sheer amount of people that sum would see coming after him meant the safest place for Severus Snape was at his restored master's side. While he would never agree with any opinion Potter had, Severus' greatest skill just might be looking after his own skin.

-oOoOo-

Gilderoy's greatest talent, apart from being gifted in the use of memory charms, was sniffing out a story. One where he could silently slink in, obliviate the shit out of the real wizard or witch who had pulled off an extraordinary feat, and then pen a bestseller extolling and of course embellishing these heroic actions as his own that saved the day. This was the formula that Gilderoy had built his career on, a career that needed to be rebuilt after his disastrous stint as a Hogwarts professor.

These woods had been notorious across the magical community for having a dark presence contained within them, a very good reason for Gilderoy to normally avoid the entire area like the plague. His current situation wasn't normal however, no fan mail for months, so desperate measures were called for. Stories had reached his ears that this darkness had disappeared, Gilderoy wasn't that desperate to come within miles of here otherwise.

What he needed to do was find the person who was responsible for this darkness disappearing, share the food and wine he was carrying with this person - their portion liberally laced with veritaserium - and then the famous Gilderoy Lockhart would have his next great adventure ready to be recorded for posterity - and of course prosperity. His wand would soon have this poor fellow forgetting all about their accomplishments while the latest Gilderoy Lockhart bestseller should be hitting the book shelfs by the summer.

That timeframe should be more than sufficient enough for his trials and tribulations at Hogwarts to be forgotten about. Now all he had to do was find this person.

Sitting on a fallen tree while taking a needed drink of water, Gilderoy was left wondering just how bad this place must have been before the darkness was lifted. The atmosphere was so oppressive and threatening, he was never without his wand in his hand. The snake that moved stealthily along the tree trunk, its head resting on Gilderoy's thigh soon discovered this.

""Who are you?""

Gilderoy heard the question in his head, even though it appear to be broadcast from the poisonous snake he'd only just noticed. Panicking, a terrified Gilderoy screamed off the most powerful curse he knew - ignoring the fact that his curse must of course hit him too.

"OBLIVIATE!"

The snake acted on impulse to this attack and sank its fangs into the warm thigh, a split-second before the powerful obliviate curse hit. As might be expected, the curse left both wizard and reptile unconscious.

 
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