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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10. Making the News

The four students with greyed-out house associations were all left wishing they had been sent home for a week too. Ron was the instigator of their troubles yet he currently nestled safely in the bosom of his family. They were the ones stuck in Hogwarts and left having to deal with the stares, pointing and not so quiet whispering of their peers. They were being shunned by their own housemates. There certainly weren't any offers to join other houses forthcoming on their behalf.

These four were the centre of attention in the great hall, right up until the Daily Prophet was delivered. The headline alone was enough for everyone to grasp that yesterday's happenings inside Hogwarts had made the front page. The headline also informed those inside the castle exactly which Hogwarts house the Prophet had received their information from.

Cowardly Lion Ready to Run

For months now, some of the decisions being made inside Hogwarts have been difficult for those outside the castle's ancient and hallowed walls to understand. Long-standing professors being suspended and then sacked. The head of Hogwarts' school board voted off their position - and then out of that body altogether. We also have the 'first years are not allowed their own broom' rule being cast asunder to allow a specific eleven year old onto their house quidditch team.

These seemingly unconnected events all have something in common, or should that be someone - Harry Potter.

"Dumbledore and McGonagall are pandering to this first year student's every whim. It wasn't until yesterday we discovered why." Said Lucius Malfoy, a respected citizen who formerly had his finger on the Hogwarts' pulse. It now becomes clearer why steps were taken to remove him from that sphere of influence as his views certainly clash with those of the people currently running Hogwarts.

"After rearranging the entire Hogwarts quidditch schedule to suit Potter, he then proved what anyone with any intelligence should have known from the start. First years are not allowed to play quidditch for a very good reason. He was a menace in the sky during the match, and it was only through good fortune someone didn't pay for his lack of ability with an extended stay in the school's infirmary."

The Daily Prophet was also contacted by students from within Hogwarts. These students didn't want their names used here, Harry Potter's grip on Hogwarts being so tight they feared reprisals.

"His own Gryffindor year mates were sickened by the cowardice Potter displayed during the quidditch match. When their Head of House refused to take any action, they were left with no other option but to invoke a house censure against him. While this forced Dumbledore and McGonagall's hand, those courageous Gryffindors were left facing a severe disappointment. Potter simply refused to be resorted, threatening to leave Hogwarts if this matter wasn't dealt with to his satisfaction. The Headmaster and his Deputy then fell over themselves to ensure that his wishes were met."

This reporter can reveal that the first year Gryffindors who brought this censure were all punished severely, the ring-leader even being sent home. And what of Harry Potter we hear you ask? Not only does he remain a Gryffindor, Harry Potter, his intended and a toadying friend of theirs have all been relocated to the luxurious accommodation within Gryffindor Tower reserved for the Head Boy or Girl. One can only think it is rather fortuitous that the current holders of those positions are not Gryffindors. Potter's influence in the castle being such that they would have been deposited in a cupboard somewhere within the castle, all so Dumbledore's golden boy can have his own way.

Lucius Malfoy summed the situation up nicely with the following quote.

"If this coward wants to leave the best magical school in the world, and take his muggle born intended with him, I say good riddance. It's time this country discovered just who's in charge at Hogwarts, preferably before Potter starts influencing the Ministry of Magic too."

We at the Prophet will be contacting the people involved and asking them some hard-hitting questions regarding these matters. We hope to print their answers in our pages tomorrow.

There was silence in the hall, digestion of the news being preferred to breakfast. Harry was left shaking his head, and with a particular mental image he couldn't shift.

"Hermione, all I could think of as I read this rubbish was 'put 'em up, put 'em up!' I'm gonna have that in my head all day now."

Harry's impersonation of Bert Lahr was so good, his intended just buckled with laughter. This was certainly not the reaction Neville expected, and he said so.

"You can laugh about this?"

Harry just shrugged his shoulders, Hermione was still trying to get her giggles under control. Using that famous film, Harry tried to come up with an analogy Neville would understand. "It's like a character from a movie Hermione and I love. He built this whole grand persona using smoke and mirrors but was eventually caught out. Malfoy wore his respectability like a cloak. Take that cloak away and everyone can see what he really is. This is his attempt at a fightback. I wonder how much it cost him to get this article in the Prophet? Any decent newspaper would have asked those hard-hitting questions first, instead of just publishing this Malfoy propaganda."

"So, you're okay with this crap?"

This drew a smile from Harry that never reached his eyes. "Without looking, I know that Draco is sitting with a smarmy and smug smile on his face. I also don't need to look to know both Dumbledore and McGonagall will be furious at this..."

Neville did the looking, confirming Harry was correct. McGonagall's glare in the Slytherins' direction actually caused a shiver of dread to run up his spine. His nod to Harry saw him continue with his explanation.

"Malfoy is using the Prophet to publicly poke me and Hogwarts in the eye, with a sly swipe at the ministry thrown in for good measure. I intend to let the adults deal with this. I will of course provide a quote of my own - if asked."

It was Hermione's turn to experience that shiver of dread, swiftly curing her fit of giggling. She knew from painful personal experience what one of the consequences of this was certain to be. "Harry, people believe every word printed in that rag. You'll be bombarded with hate mail - and worse."

The words had barely left Hermione's lips when the first owl bearing a smoking red envelope entered the great hall and flew straight to Harry. Hermione had her wand out, magically untying the howler from the bird's leg before the owl reached its target. As soon as it was untied, the howler became animated and began delivering its hateful message at a tremendous volume.

"HARRY POTTER! YOUR PARENTS MUST BE TURNING IN THEIR GRAVES, KNOWING THE SON THEY DIED SAVING IS A COWARD..."

There was never a chance Harry's temper would hold at that. Snatching the howler out of the air, he firstly strangled it into silence with his bare hands before tearing it into tiny pieces. No one had ever seen this approach used when dealing with a howler before, leaving three quarters of the hall staring at Harry in awe. Even the Slytherins stopped laughing when Harry glared in their direction. There was just something so disconcerting about being glared at by a pair of very angry eyes that were the colour of a killing curse. As more owls began arriving, bearing tidings along the same vein, Hermione was ready to deal with them. She found herself being joined in her endeavours by Professor McGonagall.

As the letters and packages began to pile up, Harry also dealing with another two howlers before they even got to voice their recorded tirade, he had a question for his head of house.

"Professor, can we contact the D.M.L.E. over this matter? Surely it must be against the law to send such things to children?"

"Suck it up, coward!" Was shouted from the Slytherin table. This saw Harry direct his anger in that direction.

Harry's intention to let the adults deal with this died the instant that howler began spouting its vicious bile. This was now very much his problem - it just got personal. "These people can anonymously send abuse to an eleven year old boy, yet I'm the coward? The people who sent these were probably hiding under their beds the night I banished the Dark Lord, yet they now call me coward with impunity. They won't even say the name Voldemort..." Harry let the screams settle before those green eyes swept over the Slytherin table, including all the snakes in his final question. "...yet I'm the coward?"

Turning his back on them, Harry then asked a question of Hermione - though loud enough so the now silent hall could still hear. "This makes no sense. Please tell me I'm missing something here..."

Again the shout came from Slytherin. "That's just the way it is..."

Whirling around, Harry once more made his opinion known. "That doesn't make it right. This will be the way it always is until someone stands up and says 'this is wrong'. I watched Lucius Malfoy cower his way out of the ministry, rather than publicly take an oath he didn't willingly become a death eater. Yet this murderer still walks free. With enough gold changing hands, he even gets citied as being 'a respectable citizen' - in the same excuse for a newspaper that calls me a coward!"

"You leave my father out of this, Potter."

"He's on the front page here calling me a coward. How the hell can I leave him out of this? Malfoy, you're an idiot!"

Draco had no comeback for that but Harry was far from finished. "Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie! Robert Burns wrote that about a mouse that got pulled out of its comfortable existence, but he could have been talking about an albino version - called Malfoy. Everyone else can see this for exactly what it is, your father's attempt to divert attention away from himself."

The sniggers started at the Gryffindor table but were spreading throughout the hall. Harry's next sentence stopped them dead. "Your father was a death eater. He kissed the hem of Voldemort's robe and called him master - until I defeated the Dark Lord. Your cowardly father couldn't denounce his former master quickly enough. Supplying gold for a new wing at St Mungo's kept him out of Azkaban - yet he still hides behind his money to publicly call me a coward. The way to fight darkness is to shine a light on it. Your father started this and truth will out. I will be pressing whatever charges I can against him..."

While the pair on letter duty were watching Harry, a howler escaped an owl's leg - and the attentions of McGonagall and Hermione. Harry didn't even appear to glance in its direction as he used his lightning fast reflexes to snatch the offending red stationery right out of the air. His hand seemed to glow with angry power as the howler turned to ash between his fingers.

Hermione's hand supportively placed on his shoulder encouraged Harry to take a deep breath and rein in his temper a few degrees. Turning to see the pile of messages McGonagall and Hermione had amassed, he actually attempted a grin.

"Hermione said people believe everything they read in this rag. It might not do any good but having the fact that all these have been passed on to the D.M.L.E. printed in tomorrow's edition should at least make people think twice before they send another one. I would be prepared to provide the Prophet with a statement, with the condition they print it as is. I will also post it in the great hall tonight so everyone will know if the Prophet alter it."

Asked Neville for a favour, one that was immediately granted, saw Harry quickly picking out Gryffindor's quidditch captain for a chat. "Ollie, do you want to have a meeting with the team in our quarters after dinner tonight? We could then have that discussion you asked for..."

Oliver quickly agreed he would make those arrangements with the rest of the team. This then saw the trio head for their first class. None of the three felt like eating any more. They passed the remaining four first year Griffindors without even glancing in their direction. It didn't need to be said that they were the ones responsible for all of this, the entire Great Hall knew that.

Draco watched the trio leave with hatred in his eyes. Instead of their planned revenge, the Malfoy name was once more dragged through the dirt. He was left with no comeback to Potter's accusations, and no other action available - other than to challenge Potter to a duel. Draco Malfoy losing to Potter in a duel was something that would hang over his head all throughout his time at Hogwarts - and beyond. When a Malfoy fought, they waited until the odds were stacked in their favour. That wasn't the case at the moment, so he would wait for his chance.

-oOoOo-

At The Burrow, today's Prophet was also the centre of attention. Reading the article, Ron took this as irrefutable proof he was right.

"I said the coward shouldn't be in Gryffindor but no one would listen. The Prophet just made sure everyone knows the truth. McGonagall will need to apologise to me and Percy now."

Percy had left earlier for Hogwarts but Arthur was just preparing to head off to work when the Prophet had been delivered. Arthur expected nothing but trouble for the Weasley family from this article, and that was before his youngest son's outburst.

"Do you really believe that, Ron? Can't you see this for what it is? Lucius Malfoy is using what you did to publicly attack Harry Potter, Dumbledore, McGonagall and fire a warning shot at the ministry too. There's more chance of McGonagall flaying you alive than her apologising for all the trouble you caused. If the ministry get dragged into this too, Fudge will feel he really has to be seen to be doing something. You and those others involved might find those punishments increasing in severity. Instead of worrying about remaining in Gryffindor, The Burrow might be your new school house. I think the chances of you being expelled over this are now about fifty-fifty."

Grabbing the paper, Ron pointed to a specific paragraph. "It says right here that we were heroes. Potter is the bad guy - but no one wants to admit that..."

Rising to leave, Arthur left his youngest son in no doubt of his opinion on the matter. "That is nothing more than propaganda, paid for by Malfoy gold. With your accusations, and then bypassing your head of house, you caused all of this. You are in the wrong, Ron. Until you recognise and accept that, you will not be returning to Hogwarts - whether you're allowed to or not."

Turning to his wife, Arthur had one last thing to say before he left. "Molly, don't overburden him with chores. I want Ron in his room and thinking about his future for most of the day. Make no mistake, that's what's at stake here. If you become known as the boy behind Harry Potter leaving Hogwarts, your future will be very bleak indeed. I just hope it doesn't bleed over to the rest of the family to a crippling degree."

The floo activating signified Arthur had left, and it was time for Molly to say her piece. She rhymed off a list of chores before adding to her husband's idea.

"While you are doing those chores, I will be emptying your room of anything that isn't school related. If you are looking for any distractions then reading something other than quidditch magazines will do you good."

The fierce glares coming from Ginny told Ron he wasn't going to find any support there either. They weren't exactly close but she wasn't even speaking to him now. This was going to be a long week. With the threat of this situation becoming permanent, Ron really did have a lot to think about.

-oOoOo-

After discovering that Amelia was heading up to Hogwarts, Cornelius tagged along too. With some of the suggestions that had been set at him today, he really needed to talk this situation over with Albus.

On entering the Hogwarts Headmaster's office, the only word both visitors could think off for Albus' expression was grim. Once the pleasantries were dispensed with, it was time to get down to business.

"Amelia, Harry asked me to pass these over to you for investigation. After scanning what's inside some of them, I actually despair for our society. How anyone could think it acceptable to send something like undiluted bubotuber pus to an eleven year old child is beyond me."

"I'll do my best, Albus, but almost all of these will be impossible to trace."

"Harry knows that. He intends to say in the Prophet that these are now in the hands of the D.M.L.E. in the hope it might scare some of these idiots into not sending any more."

This interested Cornelius. "He intends to talk to the Prophet?"

"Harry has prepared a statement, but attached a binding proviso. They can only use it if printed as is - no editing and no snippets. Full unabridged statement or nothing. I was hoping Amelia would pass it on to them, lend a degree of seriousness to the statement. If that statement was delivered by the Minister of Magic, they wouldn't dare edit it. It's still their decision whether to print it or not." This was said with a slight smile, Amelia's harrumph signalling she agreed with the reason behind that smile.

"Unless this statement calls the entire staff of that rag the biggest shower of arseholes on the planet, it will be front page news. Scrap that, they'd still run it on the front page. Snape's trial was like a media feeding frenzy around Harry. A statement from him will get printed."

"Albus, I've had people at me all morning wanting answers about this. Some were even suggesting changing the law to force students who begin their education at Hogwarts to remain there."

"That would be childish, and also very foolish, Cornelius. Should Harry want to leave under that law, he would simply get himself expelled. Harry Potter may not appear your typical Gryffindor, but that is only because he stops to think - rather than recklessly charge ahead. Once he has reached his decision though, his bravery is never in any doubt. Should he decide getting expelled was his only way to leave Hogwarts, he and his intended would soon achieve that goal. I have no wish to find a naked Draco Malfoy dangling from the ceiling of the great hall every time I sit down to a meal."

The headmaster then informed his visitors what actually happened with the house censure, and why certain students were punished. Cornelius was a career politician, he could easily see the various pitfalls Albus had found himself in.

"As soon as the censure was served, you were in a no-win situation. The boy-who-lived being presented with a house censure and getting resorted into Hufflepuff would have been every bit as big a media storm."

Nodding his agreement, Albus confirmed he thought the current solution was about the best Hogwarts could have hoped for.

"Had this been a plot to discredit Harry, Slytherin himself would have been proud of it. Instead, some jealous first years jumped right into a situation without thinking it through. The Gryffindor prefect behaved more like a Slytherin, trying to use the situation to further his own position. You can guess how well that went down with Minerva. As I said, Harry thinks things through before acting. But when he acts..." Albus then handed over Harry's statement for them to read.

The Minister's eyebrows rose higher with every line he read. Finally, he could contain himself no longer. "Albus, do you think this is wise?"

"I explained the possible consequences to Harry. As I said, anyone doubting his courage is in for a rude awakening. This is the boy who took on a troll with his bare hands to save Miss Granger. Harry Potter really couldn't be anything other than a Gryffindor."

Conceding it was a bold move, Amelia asked what Hogwarts position on this was.

"The internal Hogwarts matter has been dealt with and the ongoing situation is being monitored. That is all we are prepared to say on the matter, though there is a school board meeting on Thursday. I'm looking forward to hearing Augusta Longbottom's reaction when she discovers it's her grandson the Prophet described as a toady."

All three knew that witch's description as 'formidable' was well earned. The Prophet just might have bitten off more than they could chew this time.

"I have a feeling young Harry will be back on the Gryffindor quidditch team and their next match is against Ravenclaw in a few weeks. You would both be very welcome as Hogwarts guests at that match..."

"Would it be possible to meet Harry?"

"I can arrange for both teams to meet with the Minister of Magic after the match. Share a few butterbeers and talk about the game - I think an arrangement like that would be best for all concerned..."

Cornelius quickly nodded, accepting good advice when it was offered. This way, if Harry's statement produced negative results, the Minister of Magic was only meeting two school quidditch teams. Playing both sides, he also offered to personally deliver Harry's statement to The Prophet offices.

-oOoOo-

The Gryffindor quidditch team were very impressed with the trio's new accommodation. After a quick tour though, it was down to business. No one had any problems with Hermione and Neville sitting in on these discussions. After all, this was their rooms too.

"I have only ever seen one quidditch match, and played in one other game. Calling me a quidditch novice would be an extremely accurate statement. Here's the bit I don't get though, it's like there's two separate games being played up there. You lot are working your arses off, battling against the opposition. That's where the real action is. The seekers just sit above all that. One eye looking for the snitch while their other follows the opposition seeker all over the sky. Yet it's the seekers who stop the match - those one hundred and fifty points usually win the game too. How did this bipolar mess ever get to become the most popular magical sport in Britain?"

It was the captain who took up the responsibility of answering that. "In the professional game, about seventy five percent of the matches are decided before the seeker catches the snitch..."

"Do their seekers just sit up there, detached, or are they involved in the match more?"

"They're usually much more involved in the pro game. That's a high risk strategy though. When you don't have a replacement seeker on the bench, the risks become unacceptably high. Only a seeker can stop the match. Lose your seeker and you totally hand control over to the other side. It doesn't matter how many points your team are up, you can't win the match until the snitch is caught."

"I see. I never thought of that. Given we lost our first match, so must win our second - are you prepared to go for the high-risk strategy? I'm assuming there are plays where the seeker is used for more than just seeking?"

"There are certainly plays out there - books worth of them. We just don't have many of them here in Hogwarts."

"Tell me what to get, Ollie, I'll have them here in a few days. Even if this doesn't work out, consider them my contribution to the Gryffindor quiddich team."

"Harry, I hope you're not considering using tactics like this against Slytherin? They would love any excuse to get a hit at you. After reading what you posted in the great hall, Malfoy will be paying them to do so."

"One game at a time, Hermione. The Slytherins will be coming after me no matter what tactics we play..."

Katie had been sitting listening but just had to say something. "Harry, what happened to 'it's only a game'? You seem to be proposing taking an awful lot of risks here."

"I still have no intention of dying while trying to get the snitch. Being a bit battered and bruised has become acceptable though. Sorry guys, but this next match is now no longer just a game. I'm a quiet kinda guy. I try to get along with everyone and shirk the spotlight as much as possible. When someone deliberately pushes me however, I push right back. A lot of people will be turning up to the next match - specifically to see if I'm a coward. That's unavoidable and, according to McGonagall, our audience will also include the Minister of Magic. Just something else the captain needs to consider before choosing his team and their tactics..."

"My entire team is sitting right here." This declaration from Oliver produced smiles all round. What he said next only widened them. "Our tactics will be decided when I can read through some of these quidditch plays. I'll book the pitch for the weekend but can't make any promises. If we don't get time to work in these new plays, I would be happy to go with the same seeker tactics Harry used in the Hufflepuff match."

After some congratulatory back slapping, the meeting broke up. It was getting late and Neville headed straight off to get changed for bed. Noticing the twins were hanging back, both Harry and Hermione wondered what was wrong. Fred and George had been unusually quiet all evening. When only the four of them remained, George gave their reason.

"We're really sorry that our brothers caused you all this trouble.."

"Yeah. Percy is such a prat, he still thinks he did nothing wrong…"

"He lost his precious badge - and now you are living in the rooms he wanted. He caused all this yet he's actually livid - go figure."

"Guys, this had nothing to do with you two…"

Hermione's mind was suddenly racing at full speed, wondering if she could manipulate an event that didn't happen for another two years. "Harry's right. Don't worry about it. Harry even got to sleep in Prongs' bed, his father had carved a miniature stag's head into one of the posts…"

This really got the twin's attention, as Hermione knew it would.

"Prongs?"

"Your father?"

Harry knew Hermione was up to something, he just hadn't figured it out yet. He of course played along. "Yeah, Prongs was his nickname at Hogwarts. Apparently he was a right prankster - a bit like you two."

The twins only needed a glance between them to confirm what they wanted to do. Hermione had to work very hard containing her excitement as Fred took an old piece of parchment out of his pocket.

"Prongs was a member of a group called the Marauders…"

"They're rather heroes of ours. This was theirs…"

"So it should rightfully be yours." As Fred activated the map before handing it over, George had a plea to add on.

"Eh, could we borrow it occasionally? For our pranks…"

A very happy Harry knew from Hermione what the treasure he now held in his hands actually was. Not only was he going to let them borrow the map whenever they needed it, Harry had something else to sweeten the deal for the twins. He dived into his room, returning holding another prize.

"I received this over the holidays. It was my dad's too. If this will help your pranks, you can borrow this as well." Harry dramatically swirled the cloak around himself, the hood popping over his head so he totally disappeared.

The twins stood there with their chins hitting the floor.

"The Marauders had an invisibility cloak…"

"…and made the map - awesome!"

Of course, the twins had to try it. Their exuberance making their earlier quiet selves mere distant memories. The noise brought Neville back in, and he to wanted a shot at disappearing. Neville gave his roommates a knowing look, thinking he'd figured out how Hermione had been slipping into Harry's bed in their old dorm.

An excited Hermione could hardly wait for Harry to join her in bed.

"I should be getting used to this by now but would you mind telling me what I missed earlier tonight?"

Hermione just activated the map and showed Harry the section that contained the defence professor's quarters. Catching on at once, Harry now only had one question left.

"And just when do we discover this?"

"When the time is right, Harry. When the time is right."

-oOoOo-

The Prophet's arrival in Hogwarts was eagerly awaited next morning. Since Harry had posted his statement in the Great Hall last night, it was more to see how the newspaper handled the situation. No one seriously believed they wouldn't print a statement from the boy-who-lived.

Lion Cub Roars Back

The following is a statement from Harry Potter. We at this newspaper were not allowed to edit it, and were also required to print it in full - or not at all. The Daily Prophet would like to point out that the views expressed in this statement are those of Harry Potter - and do not necessarily comply with those of this newspaper.

Yesterday I was very publicly called a coward. This was done by a wizard who didn't witness the incidents, and then printed in a newspaper who neither witnessed nor investigate the matter. This directly resulted in me receiving malicious and downright dangerous hate mail delivered to Hogwarts. These items are now in the hands of the D.M.L.E. and considered evidence in what has become a criminal investigation.

My house censure procedure wasn't carried out properly. Unlike the opportunity I'm being offered here, I wasn't given a chance to put my side of the argument forward. When the case was eventually heard properly, in front of all members of Gryffindor House, decisions were then fairly reached and accepted by all. That matter is now closed.

An accident inside Hogwarts on Halloween damaged my memory. This was responsible for the quidditch roster being charged - I was declared unfit to play Gryffindor's first game. The sorting hat attacking that damaged part of my memory caused me great pain. That's why my resorting was stopped - and also why I subsequently refused to put the hat back on.

Since my arrival in Hogwarts, I have been attacked by a troll, a professor and Slytherin students - twice. My intended and my late mother have been continually referred to by a derogatory term I refuse even to write down. I have suffered an unfair house censure, been branded a coward on the front page of a national newspaper and subsequently been sent items by post that were deliberately designed to cause me harm.

I would like to think that if my parents were still alive, they would be looking at alternative schooling for me too. They gave their lives to save their infant son - not this country. Only a complete fool would think my Hogwarts experience to date was in any way acceptable from an educational establishment. Leaving Hogwarts for another school remains an option I am considering. If, in the eyes of magical Britain, this action brands me as a coward - so be it.

I have now clearly answered all the accusations made against me. While some people might not like to read those answers, they were given honestly.

What of my accuser though, where are his answers?

Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater, an undeniable fact. The only question therefore is whether he did so willingly, or was indeed forced to do so while under the imperius curse as he claims. That those claims have never been settled in court, by truth serum or magical vow, will always leave this crucial question hanging like a bad smell over the Malfoy name.

If Lucius Malfoy committed all those crimes while under the influence of the imperius curse, he of course can't legally be held responsible for his actions. As a responsible citizen though, surely he has a moral obligation to the country and the D.M.L.E.? Lucius Malfoy should come clean about every disgusting act he was forced to perform whilst held under this curse. Not only would this allow our aurors to finally close some long unsolved cases, it could and should stand as a warning to the youth of today of what can happen to even responsible citizens when darkness is allowed free rein.

I have publicly answered the questions my accuser posed of me. Will Lucius Malfoy have the courage to do the same? From my understanding of the term, with my non magical upbringing perhaps altering the issue, his continuing silence on the matter clearly brands him as the coward here - not me.

Harry Potter's statement was actually handed into the offices of the Daily Prophet by none other than Minister Fudge. When asked for his opinion on this matter, here's what he had to say.

"This was an internal Hogwarts' matter that has been dealt with by the senior staff. That others chose to use this spat between children in an effort to promote their own agenda is regrettable - and should never have been allowed to happen. I was at the school on another matter and simply offered to drop this off for Harry."

The Minister of Magic was then asked for his thoughts on the boy-who-lived leaving Hogwarts, and presumably the country too.

"Considering his heritage, the special place Harry Potter holds in all our hearts, and not forgetting he and his intended are academically the top two students of their year - I think this would be a great loss. That is simply my personal opinion, having met them both just before Christmas. While the ministry may not have an official position on this, it certainly does on the matter of witches and wizards owling items deliberately designed to cause harm to children. These items are now in the hands of the D.M.L.E. for further investigation."

We here at the Prophet welcome that last piece of news, and apologise to Mister Potter that a story in our newspaper caused a few of our readers to behave in this deplorable manner. Like the Ministry of Magic, we too in no way condone these type of attacks on children.

Every single reader simply couldn't miss the Prophet had totally changed their opinion on this matter. The reason behind this change wasn't hard to figure out either. The people at the Prophet were clearly terrified they would be saddled with the blame, should Harry Potter leave Britain.

The entire Gryffindor quidditch team were sitting beside the trio at breakfast, very publicly showing their support for their seeker. Katie leaned over Hermione to speak to him.

"Harry, when you push back - you give it your all. If I was a Ravenclaw, I would be really worried about my next quidditch match…"

Hermione couldn't hold back at that. "…while the Slytherins will already be working on the best way to put you in the infirmary."

"Game at a time, Hermione. We'll deal with that when we have to."

Draco was already angry enough to wish he was on the team for a shot at Potter. He knew though that his anger would be nothing when compared to his father's. Draco couldn't even warn him of what was coming.

Potter's statement had been stuck to the wall last night. It was protected though, both from being taken down and magically being copied. Draco would need to have stood there with parchment, quill and ink - writing it out word for word. That would have been impossible to do without being noticed, so his father would have been surprised by today's Prophet. Knowing his father, this could not end well. He looked forward to Potter finally being brought to his knees. His father would settle for nothing less.

Hermione's groan of 'incoming' had most of the hall looking to the ceiling. There seemed to be a veritable flock of owls with messages for Harry Potter. Thankfully, none of them were of the howler variety today. The sheer volume of mail had both McGonagall and Dumbledore scanning them for anything harmful - and finding nothing.

As this mountain of mail grew ever higher, a speechless Harry could only look to Hermione for an explanation. "Once they knew the truth, you had the support of three Hogwarts houses on this matter. It would seem your support outside Hogwarts has just increased too."

Opening one and quickly reading the sentiments expressed there, Harry then condensed the message for those listening. "This witch says she was a Gryffindor first year while my mum and dad were Head Boy and Girl. She cried when they were murdered, though was pleased I had lived. She also says my mum and dad would be proud I'm standing up for myself…" Glancing at the now huge pile of letters, Harry could think of only one thing. "Hermione, I'm going to have to write back to most - if not all - of these people."

Delighted with the attitude of her lion cub, Minerva offered her recollection of that time. "Mister Potter, there were many students still at Hogwarts who fondly remembered your parents and honoured their memory on the night they fell. The great Hall was draped in black as the school remembered two of her own. I think answering these letters would not only be the right thing to do, it would also let all those who wrote know you took the time to read their messages. We can have all these transferred to your room. I'll even excuse you from transfiguration homework this week to give you more time to work on your new task."

A clearly touched Harry could only react one way to that. "Thanks Professor, for your kind words about my parents and the offer of help. While I'll happily accept your help having these removed to our rooms, my homework will be on your desk along with the rest of my class. I wouldn't want there to be any rumours of favouritism within Hogwarts starting. Who knows where that could lead?"

Harry wasn't sure where the laughter started but soon the entire table was chuckling away. McGonagall might have only nodded by way of an answer but Harry suspected that was to stop her breaking into a smile. Her eyes were certainly twinkling with mirth.

Oliver also thought this would be a good time to arrange his quidditch meeting with his head of house.

The way the entire team were gathered around Harry, Minerva was sure she was going to like what her captain had to say. She had no idea just how much her captain would actually have to say on the matter. The team might be the same as the one that faced Hufflepuff but the tactics were going to be radically different.

-oOoOo-

Hermione, Harry and Neville were all slowly sifting through the mountain of mail, sorting them into two piles. One was for those that could be covered by a general reply. They were working on wording a reply that could basically be copied and signed, saving Harry a load of work. The other pile was those Harry was going to have to personally write a reply to.

It was a rather nervous Neville who drew a particular letter to Harry's attention. "This one here's from a young witch called Ginny Weasley. She says she's Ron's younger sister and hopes her idiot brothers don't drive you out of Hogwarts. Eh, it says she was really looking forward to meeting you - and Hermione."

Hermione couldn't help but remember the younger girl's crush on her intended, and asking her for help on how to get to know Harry better. There was no ambiguity in what Ginny meant by 'better' either. This time it would be different though. Harry was with her, and she had the ring to prove it.

She encouraged him to write back. "A reply to this young witch will either end up framed on her bedroom wall, or tucked under her pillow for her to sleep on at night. Whatever she chooses, it will certainly annoy the hell out of Ron."

As Neville chuckled at that, Harry could only groan. "This is going to take weeks."

-oOoOo-

The Prophet was now deliberately focusing the country's ire onto those who had sent Harry Potter malicious mail, all in an attempt to take that focus off the newspaper. That Lucius Malfoy had a case to answer was also conveniently ignored. The head of the Malfoy family was doing his best to help this along by keeping an extremely low profile - while hoping it would all blow over. These actions had the knock-on effect of shifting the country's ire from a certain Ron Weasley too. With the prospect of his expulsion from Hogwarts diminishing, Ron was now ready to say anything in order to get back there.

His last few days at The Burrow had been some of the most miserable of his life. Just when he thought it couldn't get any worse though, it did. Potter sending a letter to Ginny saw her hyperventilating at breakfast. Their mother needed to administer a calming draft as Ginny was in danger of passing out from sheer excitement.

It was as if they had won The Daily Prophet Grand Galleon Draw. Ginny walked about with a perpetual smile on her face. Their mother was delighted Harry didn't hold the rest of the Weasley family responsible - even citing in his letter that he was friends with the twins. Their father appeared more relieved, Potter's attack on Malfoy had shifted the focus away from them. Neither the press nor the ministry could go after the Weasleys, while ignoring the Malfoys' part in this.

Ron was ready to say his beloved Cannons were crap to get away from home, accepting the blame for something he actually did was child's play compared to that.

His arrival back in Hogwarts wasn't what he'd hoped for however. Dean and Seamus were still angry at him, while the two girls wouldn't even speak to Ron. Lavender and Parvati were far too busy trying to ingratiate themselves with Longbottom, obviously in the hope of getting back on Potter's good side. Both were at least smart enough not to approach him directly, not with Granger always at his side.

That Potter was back on the quidditch team shocked Ron too, nearly as much as the entire team heading up to the trio's private rooms most nights to discuss tactics. Percy had lost his badge, Ron had been sent home and now walked about with his house association greyed out - yet Potter got everything. How could that be fair?

-oOoOo-

It was the night before the quidditch match and things inside Hogwarts had been going deceptively well for the golden trio. All the letters had been answered, though some had even written back. The Gryffindor quidditch practices had been going wonderfully. Oliver wore a grin that was very lionish, almost like a great cat that was sneaking up on its unsuspecting prey. Those Ravenclaws wouldn't know what hit them.

Harry hadn't experienced any more dreams from his past, something both he and Hermione were very grateful for. The couple were about to be dragged into a real live nightmare though as Dobby shook them awake. It wasn't just their still sleep befuddled states that had them questioning what their little friend was saying.

"The house is being attacked…"

 
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