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.


25. Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot

While holding an event like this outdoors on a November afternoon, particularly in the Scottish Highlands, would normally be out of the question, this was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There was no way all those who wished to attend Dumbledore's funeral would ever manage to squeeze into the great hall so the largest concentration of house elves in the British Isles had created an area outside the castle's walls that was pleasantly warm and protected from the elements.

This bubble of calm conditions was accessed from the castle by a covered walkway, ensuring all the guests would be warm and dry from start to finish. It was an astonishing piece of magic, yet one that would simply be overlooked by the vast majority of the attending guests.

Even as they took their reserved seats at the front of this massive gathering, Harry and Hermione were still refining their speech to include things they'd seen today. While it was their speech, both understood it would be much more powerful if Harry delivered it. He though insisted Hermione be at his side as he did so. After his dream last night, that was an invitation Hermione was never going to turn down.

Sirius was sitting with Amelia, Dan and Emma, Petunia not being able to make the funeral. He was just thinking the entire magical populous must be in attendance when a voice he hadn't heard in many years lent even more credence to that idea.

"Hello Sirius, how are you?"

Standing up immediately, Sirius ignored the offered hand and pulled the wizard into a hug. "Mooney, where the hell have you been hiding?"

"I was out of the country when news broke of your trial. I have to say though, that news was kinda buried under all the stories of what that godson of yours had been up to. I was working my way back to Britain when I heard about Dumbledore. I owe him so much, I simply had to come..."

"Of course you had to come, you should've been home ages ago. This is Emma and Dan Granger, Hogwarts professors, dentists and Hermione's parents. This is my best friend, Remus Lupin. Hermione is Harry's intended, you'll certainly meet her later. Of course, you already know my fiancée..."

"Same old Sirius, though I thought Amelia was immune to your charms."

This actually had Amelia smiling, even though her thoughts were currently on events that were planned to happen elsewhere. "Not immune, I just had a very high tolerance factor. Getting to know Sirius again rekindled something in both of us, and I said yes when he asked. It's good to see you again, Remus. Please sit with us." Some shuffling soon had him seated beside Sirius, just before things officially kicked off.

Dan had surmised from what Amelia and Sirius had said beforehand that wizarding funerals might be different from what he and Emma would possibly recognise as such. While standing and speaking about the deceased, and the impact they'd had on the speaker's life, was both recognisable and understandable to them, today's event felt more like a political rally than a funeral to the two dentists.

The young Gryffindor couple were sitting waiting on their turn in the proceedings to speak. They were up after someone called Deadly Dingle, or something like that. Both thought it sounded like a mystical creature Luna would make up. Diggle eventually spent about quarter of an hour going on and on about how he and Albus were such great friends before leaving the small stage in tears.

It was now Harry and Hermione's turn to face a large crowd who, if they felt anything like them, would be bored to tears with what they'd already heard here today. The crowd hopefully wouldn't be bored after listening to what they had to say. They were dressed in their finest robes, the Potter, Black and Hogwarts crests competing with their Orders of Merlin, First Class for attention. Confidently approaching the podium that already had a voice magnifying charm imbedded into the elaborate carvings, Harry took a steadying breath before beginning.

"Today we're all here to say goodbye to a great wizard. That Dumbledore was a great wizard is beyond dispute. There seems to be some confusion though over just who Albus Dumbledore actually was. While the headmaster was many different things to so many people - politician, statesman, leader, friend - I think we were privileged to see the real Albus Dumbledore."

Hermione could see a few disparaging looks heading in their direction at that comment, as if they dare claim they knew Albus better than them. Her hand slipped into Harry's, offering encouragement for him to continue.

"Between his time as a student, Transfiguration Professor and of course Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore spent over sixty years at Hogwarts. He passed away in the castle's infirmary and Hogwarts will now be his final resting place. Hogwarts was way more than just his occupation, his home, it became his life. Those of us privileged enough to have been taught by the great man will tell you Albus Dumbledore was a wonderful teacher. That was his passion, seeing students grasp the particular piece of knowledge he was trying to impart was certain to get those eyes of his twinkling with a delightful sense of achievement."

Both could see that taking this line had won the doubters over, no one could dispute Albus was brilliant at teaching. This was the part though that wouldn't sit well with certain members of the audience but they didn't really care. If they wanted to hear Harry Potter speak, he was going to say exactly what he and Hermione wanted to.

"Even lying there in his coffin, Albus is still trying to teach us lessons we really need to learn. Being Albus Dumbledore though meant you had to do a bit of work for that knowledge. He would never just come right out and say something, rather provide enough clues for you to work out the answer for yourself. So that's what we're going to do right now."

This had more than the crowd nervous. Harry's speech was second last in this event, with only the Minister of Magic still to speak. Fudge was a career politician however so they had no worries that he wouldn't be able to say something after them. Both were betting however that his carefully prepared speech would probably be torn up after they were finished speaking.

"Look around you. The sheer number of people here today is an instant indication of just how high an esteem Albus was held in. What we have to do though is take a closer look, because that's where the real message lies. In the crowd we have witches and wizards from all walks of life, yet you can be sure Albus treated every single one of them the same. At last month's Quidditch match, Hogwarts played host to the muggle parents of our younger students. Two of those parents are in this audience today. From the moment they met, Albus treated them so well they are now professors at Hogwarts."

Hermione gave a smile and a little wave to her parents as Harry kept going. "We have representations from ministries all over Europe here to pay their respects, as well as representatives from the Goblin Nation. Again, Albus would have treated them all as equals. If you look behind me, toward the edge of the Forbidden Forest, you will see an honour guard of Centaurs. Look toward the lake you'll witness the same respect being demonstrated from the Merepeople. This ceremony could only take place because the castle's house elves were able to create this wonderful magical bubble that's protecting us from the usual Scottish November weather. Albus treated the Centaurs, Merepeople and House Elves with respect, that's why they are all here to honour him today."

That didn't go down too well with some of the people present but Harry carried on regardless. If they didn't like hearing that, they were certainly not going to like the rest of his speech. The passion began to build in both of them as Harry started the process of publicly nailing their colours to the mast.

"While I understand hearing this might make some people uncomfortable, let's examine the alternative that's been offered by a privileged few. Wars are never pretty but the last conflict fought in this country doesn't deserve the name war. It was nothing more than a bunch of thieves and murderers trying to overthrow this country's legal government of the day."

At this time of the year, so far north, the sun never climbed high in the sky. It was currently peeking out from the clouds and backlighting Harry and Hermione. This in itself was a dramatic effect. When you then factored in the magical power that appeared to be bubbling over from this passionate young witch and wizard, and distorting the sunlight now shining from behind them, it was truly mesmerising to see. Harry's words also drove home their opinion like hammering a tent peg in with a sledgehammer.

"There was no honour involved in their cause, this was no noble quest to form a better land for everyone who lived here. Men, women and children were being slaughtered in their sleep for the supposed crime of not meeting their murderer's ill thought out standards. My father actually met those standards, but simply disagreeing with their bigoted opinions was enough to have these genocidal scum turn up at your door. Their acts were so despicable and cowardly, they wore masks as they murdered innocent women and children. This allowed them to walk amongst us during the daylight, as if taking off their mask removed the stain of blood from all the innocents they had murdered. When their leader was defeated, those masks were hidden as they tried to pretend they were still respectable citizens. The arrest and trial of Lucius Malfoy showed that these people haven't changed."

The audience reaction to Harry's speech was as varied as the Scottish weather. One thing was certain however, none of the listeners were bored. Many were actually terrified over what this boy would say next, Harry didn't keep them waiting. "If you're still not sure, then just look around and ask yourself this very simple question. How many people attended Voldemort's Funeral? After Voldemort's demise, how many witches and wizards stood and proclaimed they believed in his teachings?"

If the Weasley twins has simultaneously set off the country's entire stock of dung bombs inside this elven made bubble, there were still people sitting whose complexions couldn't have gotten any greener. Raising their joined hands high in the air, Harry finished their presentation.

"Hermione and I are proud to say we had Albus Dumbledore as a mentor. We stand here today and publicly proclaim both of us will do our best to live our lives by the lessons he taught us. Earlier this year, we stood together and once more defeated Voldemort - and will continue that fight until the darkness is defeated. Who amongst you will stand against the darkness with us?"

The silence that question caused was soon broken. The Centaurs were first to shout their support, the Merepeople's song certainly sounded as if they supported the young couple's stance too. The loud pops caused by what must be every house elf in the castle appearing inside the bubble startled those sitting, no one had ever seen a house elf standing proudly before. The Goblin delegation too were on their feet, their lack of height however not making their gesture of support as dramatic as some of the others.

Minerva McGonagall seemed to be the first amongst the witches and wizards to stand, so many people got to their feet at once it was hard to say with any certainty. She was certainly the first to place her right hand over her heart, a move Harry and Hermione quickly copied, This gesture was then mirrored by everyone on their feet - even the house elves took it up.

Remus was on his feet, his hand might be on his heart but his mind was certainly elsewhere. He could only mutter one word though. "Merlin!"

Standing beside him, a proud Sirius was beaming a megawatt grin. "That's my godson, and his wonderful girl. Between them, they're going to turn our world on its head."

After what he'd just witnessed, Remus had no cause to disagree with Padfoot. The young couple had basically called all Voldemort's followers murdering cowards, and then got everyone here to stand up to show their support of their fight against these animals. Remus knew he had been out of the country for years but this was unbelievable. Even though he'd just witnessed it happening, he was still having trouble believing it.

Like Remus, Dan was also standing with his hand over his heart. Unlike Remus however, after what happened this morning, Dan had no trouble believing what he'd just witnessed.

-o- earlier -o-

Both parents knew something was wrong the instant Harry and Hermione entered their accommodation, Hermione practically leading Harry to an armchair before sitting in his lap was a sure giveaway.

"Harry had another dream last night, a bad one…"

"Hermione, if there are any worse days than that in my past then I don't ever want to experience them."

With going down to breakfast now forgotten about, both parents sat to hear what had happened. They thought this could be bad but 'bad' just didn't do it justice.

"Last night, I experienced the final event of the Tri-Wizard tournament. Sorry love, but hearing of Cedric being murdered and experiencing it are two totally different things. I now understand why that Harry flew into a rage when the ministry dragged him in front of their show trial. Experiencing that would break people a lot stronger than a fourteen year old boy."

Kissing her intended, Hermione defended that Harry to her new Harry. "They never broke you. Even without the support structure you have now, they still couldn't break you. You didn't have me as your girlfriend, you didn't even know my mum and dad. The Weasleys and me were really the only friends close to you. There was no family support from the Dursleys and Sirius was the most wanted man in Britain, so couldn't leave Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore repeatedly withheld crucial information and everyone else treated us like little kids. Looking back, you losing your temper at that trial was practically inevitable - but they still couldn't break you."

Gazing into those hazel eyes he loved so much, Harry voiced his greatest fear. "Losing you would break me, losing you would kill me…"

"Never going to happen…"

At this point Dan interrupted, since it appeared the couple cuddling on the chair were entering their own little universe where no one else existed. "Excuse me for asking but what has one dream changed?"

With his arms still tightly around Hermione, Harry uttered the words he knew her parents would hate. He hated those words himself. "Everything, Dan, it changes everything. As I said to Hermione, watching Cedric's murder was hundreds of times worse than hearing about it. Seeing Voldemort though, that was the game changer. He wants to kill me, needs to kill me, and will stop at nothing until he achieves that. We might be able to hide but he won't let up, he won't rest until I'm dead. What do we do when he decides to murder all the first years in Hogwarts unless I face him in a duel? Threatens to raise Crawley to the ground? Starts randomly wiping out muggle schools - nothing is beyond the bounds of possibility to this maniac."

That this shocked the two dentists was hardly surprising, someone who was a capable of committing cold-blooded savagery on a scale like that really had to be seen before you could believe it. The casual way that ugly little construct had said 'kill the spare' was easily the most shocking thing Harry had witnessed in his entire life, and finally opening his eyes to what a restored version of Voldemort would be capable of. That the life of pureblood Cedric Diggory was wiped out with about the same regard one would swat an annoying fly that entered your home spoke volumes to the witnessing Harry.

"In the original timeline I was stripped of my memories and magic, so was no longer any threat whatsoever to him. He and his death eaters would have spent their time after Dumbledore was murdered tightening their grip on the country. That witches and wizards were still talking about me a couple of years later was eventually enough for him to decide it was time for me to die too. Thankfully, he didn't reckon with my wonderful best friend."

While getting the gist of this, Dan needed to hear the words spoken out loud. "What are you saying, Harry?"

"Voldemort has to die, preferably before he can get himself a new body. We have to take a few more risks. Start going on the offensive while pulling out all the stops searching for his horcruxes. I know some graves that need robbing - that will be a good and yet safe place to start. If at all possible I want to avoid a direct confrontation with him, because I know who'll be standing right at my side if it comes down to that. Black Island is still an option, but more as a secure base of operations and safe haven for noncombatants - if things ever get that bad. This guy's like the Terminator, Dan, he'll just keep on coming - killing everything and everyone that stands in his way of getting to me. Like the Terminator though, we can stop him - permanently."

"Oh, does that make me Linda Hamilton?"

"Hermione, how can you joke about this?" Emma was almost in tears at the way this conversation had gone. Her daughter tried to reassure her, though without leaving Harry's lap.

"Mum, dad, this is who my Harry is. Yes he now thinks carefully about things, and considers all the options, but that doesn't mean he won't make the hard decisions. This is a very hard decision, but it's the right one. We still intend to take all the help we can get and hopefully put none of us at any risk. We also promise to discuss everything with you and not go charging off to battle. Right now, the only thing that's changed is our attitudes."

While agreeing with his intended, Harry tried to explain to her parents what these changes would actually mean in terms of their actions. "Albus has been championing the changes that are without doubt helping magical Britain take a step back from the dark future Hermione witnessed. While both of you, Sirius and Amelia can certainly help that cause, none of you can publicly lead it. That can only come from the two of us. That's the only real change we're talking about here, anything else can be discussed amongst the family."

"Mum, dad, the people who will staunchly oppose our stance already hate me and Harry - nothing will change there if we do this. I see the transformation in Luna and can't help but think this is something we need to do. Starting today, we hope to become the new champions of our cause for the witches and wizards of Britain."

-o- present -o-

Dan watched as the young couple approached Dumbledore's casket and bowed. Hermione kissed the tips of her fingers before laying her hand on the lid. This seemed to produce a wonderful sound that completely filled the bubble they were all standing in before a flash of flame introduced Fawkes to the proceedings. The song from the Phoenix took on a mournful tone as it landed on the casket. Harry and Hermione approached the mythical bird, stroking his feathers in their attempt to offer some comfort over Fawkes' loss. The flashes coming from the photographers capturing this scene meant there was already no doubt what image would appear on tomorrow's front page.

When Fawkes flamed away, the young couple returned to their seats as all those assembled once more sat down.

As Cornelius walked toward the podium, Both Harry and Hermione noticed his prepared speech stayed firmly in his pocket. He gave a nod in their direction before starting to speak.

"Albus was many things to many people, I couldn't have said it better myself. To me, he was a confidant, a college, an advisor, a good friend. While Cornelius Fudge can stand here and mourn the passing of his friend, the Minister of Magic can't afford that luxury. As Lord Potter so eloquently implied, Albus was many, many things to the entire country. His loss left a large hole in our community that I, as Minister of Magic, didn't know how we were going to fill. I should however have known Albus would never leave us in the lurch. That was so ably demonstrated by the young people who just spoke to you before me. Albus might not have complied with the strict terms of the recognised agreement, does anyone who just witnessed them speak have any doubts that Harry and Hermione were his apprentices?"

This caused a ripple of surprise throughout the assembled crowd but Cornelius now had their full attention, and wasn't for letting their attention wander anywhere. He of course recognised what this couple had just attempted to do and, being a shrewd politician, certainly understood the value of having someone else available to take the blame if things went tits-up. The mere suggestion these two were Albus' apprentices lent a degree of respectability to their claim, and cost Cornelius nothing. His public popularity had skyrocketed since he'd aligned his ministry alongside the boy-who-lived, Cornelius saw no reason to change course now.

"While I have no doubts Albus had hoped to have more time to instruct his two apprentices, I also have no doubt he chose the right people to pass on his knowledge - and take up the banner of his beliefs. The fact that both were able to stand here on this sad day yet still command the attention and respect of what is actually a quite daunting crowd really showed everyone their metral. Even Albus Dumbledore though couldn't do what he was attempting alone, his friends, colleges and his apprentices were assisting him every step of the way. Those two apprentices will need all our help to take Albus' work forward, I would just like to assure Harry and Hermione they have mine. By the way everyone present stood a few moments ago, it would seem they have yours too."

At any other time, those comments would have drawn tumultuous applause. This was after all a funeral so support was shown by a respectful lowering of heads.

The house elves took this as their cue. Dumbledore's casket rose off the temporary podium it was resting on and floated toward the lake. It passed without any problem through the magical bubble and carried on across the grass, coming to rest on a raft floating at the edge of the lake. This raft was then taken up by the merepeople as it glided along the mirror smooth surface of the Black Lake, the raft's destination clearly being the island where the white marble tomb awaited the headmaster. Everyone stood once more as the elves floated the casket to its custom-built home. The thick marble lid being placed on top sealed Albus Dumbledore into his final resting place, a place that would always be visible to those who visited Hogwarts. Albus Dumbledore may be gone but his influence lingered on.

A final bow of heads, lead by the Minister of Magic and the ceremony was over. Cornelius had barely stepped down from the podium, approaching Harry and Hermione, when the podium disappeared. So did the temporary one that had held the casket as tables laden with food and drink soon took up this space. Once again the house elves were performing incredible feats of magic, and once again it was being ignored by the vast majority of the crowds.

Cornelius ensured he was first to shake their hands, though he would be by no means the last to do that today. The young couple were continually introduced to people they didn't know. After what they'd said today, both had expected this.

They were happy to shake Arthur and his wife's hand. While this was Harry's first real meeting with Molly, both of them already liked her husband. Shaking Amos Diggory's hand was also an experience. Harry kept flashing back to seeing the broken wizard weeping over his son's body - that wouldn't be happening this time. A ministry witch called Dolores shook their hands but Harry could sense it was forced. Turning to Hermione, he was rather shocked to see that there was also a sense of revulsion reflected from her toward this witch too. That would be a story for later though as Harry found himself being introduced to Barty Couch.

While he had never met the wizard, nor had any memories of doing so, Harry did remember his death eater son. The memory of Barty Crouch Jr getting ready to murder him, and only being stopped from doing so by Dumbledore blasting the door off the defence professor's room, was still vivid in his mind. He wondered how Amelia managed to deal with the man at the ministry, now knowing he was harbouring his son at home. He was soon to find out as Amelia approached.

Instead of coming forward to greet Harry and Hermione, Amelia chose this moment to initiate a confrontation that surprised everyone within earshot - and she wasn't being quiet about it.

"Barty Crouch, you are under arrest. We already have your son safely locked away in a ministry cell…"

The shocked wizard turned to face the Minister of Magic. "Cornelius, what is going on here…" While turned though, a panicked Barty was reaching for his wand.

Harry and Hermione were in a position to see this and their stunners hit who they aimed at, along with another three - including Sirius'. Madam Bones clearly was not one for taking chances as the remaining two stunners had come from her aurors. A quick glance around showed there were actually six keeping a careful eye on the situation from all different angles. While two moved toward the fallen wizard, the other four were rapidly joined by other colleges and their presence soon had the crowd reassured everything was in hand.

While restraints were fitted, Barty's wand was being taken as evidence. Cornelius finally found his voice.

"Amelia, I hope you know what you're doing here? If you're wrong, Barty will demand your head - and I would be forced to give it to him."

"I wasn't joking, we have his son in a cell…"

The Umbridge witch couldn't help adding her two knuts worth. "That's preposterous! Everyone knows Barty's son died in Azkaban."

"Just like everyone knew my fiancé was a murdering betrayer? Everyone knowing that supposed fact saw Sirius Black flung in Azkaban for over a decade. No questioning, no trial - everyone just knew. Barty was the chief architect of that decision being made, while in the background he was busy engineering his own son's escape from the very same prison. There will be a public trial and, after hearing all the evidence, then 'everyone' will discover the truth. That's how things work, Dolores. No one is above the law - no one."

The aurors were taking a still unconscious Barty away, a very powerful indicator to all the people present of just how much things had changed. Cornelius took the opportunity to have a quiet word with Amelia.

"Are you sure about the public trial?"

"Cornelius, we have nothing to hide. Barty was working alone, using the imperius curse to keep his son under control. He's guilty, so let's show all the witches and wizards of Britain how we deal with guilty people. We're putting a marker down here. Doesn't matter who you are, break our laws and you will be dealt with. First Malfoy, now Crouch - we're cleaning up our country a bit at a time."

The very public arrest of such a prominent figure in the ministry could have spoiled the event, but not when there was free food and drink available. With only a few student representatives from each year attending, most of the school were currently in their houses being supervised by the prefects, Harry and Hermione stood out even more. Cissi watched people practically queue to meet them and knew keeping Draco from trying to antagonise these two was now more important than ever. They were the new golden couple of British wizarding society, and Cissi knew how that system worked.

When she first married Lucius, they had held that heady position. They were invited to every event, and that was where the power lay. Just a mention to the host or organiser could see names added to the guest list - or removed. Although they probably didn't understand this yet, Potter and Granger now held this power to a far greater degree than the Malfoys ever had. With who they had around them though, Cissi knew that would soon be explained.

Watching as Augusta Longbottom publicly embraced both of them sent a message out to everyone who witnessed the act. Come Christmas, the Longbottom Ball would be the most sought after invitation in Britain. By her actions, Augusta had just declared Harry Potter and Hermione Granger would be present. Her ball was already a guaranteed success, while the former premier event on the British social calendar, the Malfoy Yule Ball, would be nothing more than a memory.

Like everything in life, things tend to work in cycles. The problem here was Cissi couldn't see anyone else being able to dethrone these two as the king and queen of society for many years to come. Their eventual marriage and any subsequent children would only cement their positions, not harm them. This unfortunately meant that the only way her son could ever regain any prominence for the once proud Malfoy name was with the approval of this couple.

Even without trying to, they held her son's future in their hands. What pureblood family would let their daughter marry Draco if the Malfoy money didn't grant that daughter access to the top echelons of wizarding society? Augusta had also cleverly just elevated her grandson into the most eligible bachelor in Britain status, since his best friend, Harry Potter, was most definitely off the market.

Trying to get her son to accept this new reality though was certain to prove a lot more challenging than teaching defence. Cissi would have another talk with Draco tomorrow, preferably before the newspapers were delivered to Hogwarts.

Dan and Emma had finally caught up with them while Amelia was thanking the couple for being so alert. Sirius dramatically cleared his throat, causing Amelia to thank him too, but this was not the reason behind his actions.

"Harry, Hermione, there's someone I want you to meet. This is Remus Lupin, a very good friend of mine - and Harry's parents too. Remus was actually a prefect with Lily and a marauder, his marauder name is Moony."

"A stag, grim and wolf - yet Prongs, Padfoot and Moony were the best names you could come up with? Looks like these marauders weren't as hot as they thought they were, Hermione." Harry was smiling as he held his hand out to a Remus who thought he couldn't be any more shocked today. Harry mentioning wolf in that manner had Remus instantly looking toward Sirius.

"You told him about me?"

"Moony, these two used the marauders map to capture that rat and get me freed - while still in first year. They also won those medals they're wearing for defeating Voldemort, the very same night! The marauders thought we were hot but trust me, we weren't ever in the same league as this pair."

"Why thank you, Sirius. Harry, behave yourself. Pleased to meet you Mr Lupin, I'm Hermione Granger. Oh, and your furry little problem doesn't make any difference to us."

Hermione had fond memories of Remus, she just didn't know if they could trust him - certainly not with something as big as their secret. The fact that she'd seen him transformed, and the werewolf had wanted to kill both her and Harry, played no part in Hermione's decision.

Remus was a kind and compassionate man, an academic who was also brave and loyal. While Remus Lupin was a wizard who wouldn't hesitate to stand beside them in any fight, there's no way he would get involved in publicly pushing the changes they wanted to happen. Remus had been dealing with his condition for so long, he'd let it define who he was. The attitudes of witches and wizards in Britain toward those afflicted with lycanthropy had certainly played a massive part in forging what was Remus' defence mechanism against being hurt.

A change in attitude had allowed Luna to emerge from her defence mechanism cocoon and bloom into a beautiful butterfly. While Remus could never be described as a butterfly, the mere chance of him one day being able to stand that bit straighter was yet another reason for them to continue with their cause. Hermione didn't know but there was news coming Remus' way that would allow him to take the first steps down that long road.

While shaking Hermione's hand, Remus had an epiphany. "Very pleased to meet you, and hear that. Hermione, I hope your not offended if I say that, though you look nothing like her, your poise, mannerisms and the way you speak remind me so much of a dear friend of mine - Lily Evans, later to become Lily Potter. She was also the only person I've ever met who could keep James and Sirius in line, something you seem to have already mastered."

"Why thank you for that, Remus. I will take any comparison to Harry's mother as a compliment. I don't know about mastering keeping these two in line though, Harry continually finds new ways to infuriate me, while Sirius will soon be Amelia's problem."

Remus couldn't help but laugh at that comeback and found himself being gently punched on the shoulder by Sirius. "What did I tell you, Moony - streets ahead of us at our best. If only I could get them interested in pranking..."

They were joined at that moment by Minerva. "I don't know that you were unsuccessful in those attempts, Sirius. These two, aided and abetted by the Minister of Magic, just pulled off the biggest prank I've ever seen. I've no doubt Albus' eyes would have been twinkling as he watched. Cornelius pulling that apprentice line out the air was something I didn't know he had in him. Hello Remus, so nice to see you again."

"You too, Professor - though I wish the circumstances were better."

"As do all of us, and it's Headmistress now. It's as headmistress I'd like to have a word with you, if you have the time?"

After hearing from Hermione that Remus had taught them defence for a year, Sirius was delighted at the prospect of his friend being offered a job. His smile though froze on his face as Minerva then turned her attention to him. "I'd like to speak with you too, Sirius. I realise that you have plans you'll need to make for you and Amelia's future but I hope we can work something out that's beneficial to everyone here."

As usual, Sirius tried to cover his shock with a joke. As usual, he was the only one who thought it was funny. "It's alright, Minerva, my favourite professor was always getting an invitation to our wedding."

Looking from Sirius to Amelia, Minerva let her own dry wit make a rare appearance. "There's still time to change your mind, Amelia..."

That her gag was better received than his own did nothing toward reinstating Sirius' smile. "Have we written those invitations yet, love?"

"We've been too busy, and I'll need to head to the ministry and question Barty."

"We'll need to head out too. We managed some cover and rearranged a few appointments but the Granger Dental Practice won't run itself. We'll see everyone again on Friday evening." After some farewell hugs, Dan, Emma and Amelia headed for the front gate while Minerva escorted Sirius and Remus to her office - something she hadn't had to do for a number of years.

Harry and Hermione set off for Gryffindor, thinking the might as well enjoy the relative peace just now. Things would change tomorrow when the papers hit Hogwarts.


Severus certainly knew things had changed. If the Prophet's front page picture of Potter and his mudblood, standing with Fawkes at Dumbledore's casket, didn't get that message across - their headline left no one in any doubt about how things now were.

The Leader of the Light is dead, long live the Leader of the Light

He didn't need to read any speeches or speculation about apprenticeships. With that one sentence, the witches and wizards of Britain had just bestowed the title of Leader of the Light onto a twelve year old boy. Thinking they were all crazy, Severus would have been dismayed to learn he now shared an opinion with James Potter's whelp.

His real ire though was reserved for an article deeper inside the newspaper. McGonagall had been confirmed as the new Headmistress, no shock there. No surprise either in her choice of deputy. Filius wouldn't want the job while Septima didn't have the experience, Pomona was always the clear favourite for the post. It was Minerva's other appointments that had Severus' blood boiling.

While she clearly wished to continue teaching, it wasn't really practical for the new Headmistress to have a full timetable. She'd solved this problem by having the bloody werewolf teach Transfiguration to the first three years worth of students. If that wasn't bad enough, that bastard Black would be in his dungeons teaching potions to the classes Dumbledore used to take. The real kick in the teeth though was appointing them both joint heads of Gryffindor. He was also willing to wager their partial timetables didn't overlap, allowing Black to cover for his furry friend on those awkward few days of the month Lupin became a deadly dark creature.

It wasn't so much the light's objectives that Severus couldn't accept, rather the personnel involved. Potter, Black and Lupin were the bane of his teenage life. They certainly played a part in half blood Severus Snape's decision to become a death eater. While he couldn't dispute change was all around him, some things were really too ingrained to be altered. Quite simply, whatever those three stood for, Severus would be on the other side.

History was repeating itself as those very same names once more saw him choosing the dark lord. Dumbledore had promised to keep Lily safe, he didn't. Promises were also made about him teaching in Hogwarts, and broken by Dumbledore because it suited the old bastard. Severus had made a promise to himself about Lily - that promise was now going to join the long list of broken promises in his life.

He would rest up and recuperate first, probably waiting until the new year to start looking for his master. He would still be keeping an eye on the situation in Britain, though continually seeing Potter being praised on the front pages of the newspapers would only harden his decision.

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