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Visions and a Proposition
Boxing Day found most of the Hogwarts population lazing in bed, taking advantage of the Christmas holidays to catch up on sleep missed during term time due to late night adventures or simply an excess of homework. Five people, though, had roused early in anticipation of their trip to visit Heather Evans. Harry had explained the night before that he had promised to visit his aunt on Boxing Day when he had taken Draco Malfoy back to her after the attack on Canterbury, and his three friends and son had all agreed to come with him. Harry also planned on breaking the news to her that Dumbledore and the rest of the Order knew about her, due to Glen's telling them all when he returned from her house the last time, and at the Order meeting when Harry had returned from Teutoburg City. Harry knew, deep down, that it was his fault her secrecy had been compromised by his son. After all, if he hadn't abandoned him, he never would have had to tell Dumbledore when he got back, nor would he have had reason to blow up at his father during an Order meeting. Harry felt even more guilty about leaving when he thought that it might have endangered one of his few family members.
Before they left for Heather's house, Harry wandered around the castle, gathering the courage to speak to two people he really didn't want to speak with. The first was easier, he thought, as he made his way to the stone gargoyle hiding the headmaster's office. He could have easily created a door into the office from his room, but going the old fashioned way was a good delaying tactic. Eventually, he heaved a great sigh and started guessing passwords. After ten minutes, he became frustrated and simply asked the gargoyle to move. With a wolfish grin, it leapt to one side, leaving a rather shocked Harry to climb the moving staircase. As soon as he reached the top, he heard the headmaster's deep voice calling for him to come in. With an exasperated shake of his head, the Boy-Who-Lived turned the handle and stepped into his professor's office, taking a seat in front of his desk and accepting the offered Lemon Drop.
“ Now, Harry, what can I do for you?” the wizened wizard asked as he sucked on one of the sour sweets. The twinkle was present in his eyes, so he wasn't the least worried about the topic of the conversation. Harry swore sometimes that the old man was as mind-gifted as he was.
“ Professor, I came to ask if my friends and I could go and visit my Aunt Heather today.”
“ And why would you need my permission, might I ask? I believe that you would go anyway if I said no, and there would be no way for me to stop you.”
“ Probably, but it is your school, and I thought it would only be polite if I asked first. After all, students aren't supposed to leave the school grounds without permission.”
“ Well, Harry, I will certainly grant my permission. After all, the Christmas period is a time for family, and you of all people deserve to spend it with them. I ask only one small favour.”
“ Yes?” Harry asked, nervously. He knew the sort of favours the headmaster often asked of people, and he wasn't sure we would be willing to agree to it. Dumbledore smiled at him reassuringly, but Harry wasn't convinced.
“ I was simply wondering if I may accompany you for a short time. I would very much like to see Miss Evans again, and I believe it is time to let her know she can return to the wizarding world if she so wishes.”
Harry wasn't convinced. He knew the way the headmaster manipulated people, and he wasn't sure this was such a good idea. Best case scenario, he would simply speak to Heather and invite her to return, pulling some strings in the Ministry to get her off the proverbial hook. Worst case scenario, he would be asking her to reveal herself to Voldie and reintegrate herself into his ranks to act as a very close spy. Harry knew the latter was unlikely, but knowing the old man, he wouldn't rule it out. The possibility made him rather wary, as Dumbledore had a lot of influence in the Ministry, despite what Fudge and the Daily Prophet had been saying about his mental state. It wouldn't be beyond the headmaster to use blackmail, and Harry wasn't prepared to let anything happen to Heather. She was his last real connection to his mother, and he wasn't about to let her get hurt, even if it was for what the head of the Order believed was the `greater good'.
“ What are the conditions you will place on her return to our world,” Harry asked, an emotionless mask settling over his features. The twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes dimmed somewhat when he saw his student's shuttered look.
“ Don't worry, Harry, nothing too drastic. After all, I've seen what happens to people who hurt your friends and family, and I know better than to cross you.”
Harry wasn't totally convinced, but he nodded his head warily in acceptance. As he stood and turned to leave, he threw one last comment over his shoulder.
“ My friends and I will be leaving from Domus Corvus Corax in half an hour. If you're coming, I'll see you there. I have one last person to invite.”
His piece said, the emerald eyed boy strode out of the office, his robes billowing dramatically behind him.
Five minutes later found Harry staring at a bare wall in the depths of the dungeon. With a small grin, he prepared to hiss a single word in parseltongue. While he was in the seventies, and had the benefit of entry into the Slytherin common room, he had created a secret password for the Snake Den in parseltongue. He had done the same in the other times for the other common rooms, giving him access any time he needed it. As it was secondary, and no one would think to look for a parseltongue password, it was still in place and overrode the frequently changed main password. Harry had never mentioned this to anyone, as he knew that if Hermione or and of the professors ever found out, they would make him remove them. The opportunity for misuse was great, so Harry made sure only to use them when absolutely necessary. It had happened only once before, in the seventies, when Lucius Malfoy had changed the password and not told him, just to spite the one person who could always best him. He had forbidden any of the other Slytherins from telling Harry, so when the boy returned from a battle and found the door wouldn't open; he was more than a little annoyed. However, the look on Lucius' face when he came striding into the common room made the whole thing worth it.
This time, Harry quickly turned himself invisible, not wanting to be spotted by any of the Slytherins. After all, in this time, he wasn't simply an anonymous student. He was Harry Potter, enemy of the Dark Lord, and if any of the snakelets found him in their sanctuary, it wouldn't be pretty. Once he was sure he wouldn't be seen, and had mentally scanned the room beyond the wall for people, he hissed to password and entered the Slytherin domain. As soon as he stepped into the common room, he was filled with memories of sitting in front of the fire with Sev, offering to let him be a spy; standing by the door, pretending to be Voldemort and scaring the students half to death; hiding away and teaching his future Potions Master how to use wandless magic. A wave of nostalgia hit Harry hard, and he had to pause for a few minutes to collect himself before heading for the boy's dormitories. He was shocked, though, when he came to a halt in front of the door to his old room and saw the name `Draco Malfoy' etched into the small silver panel. Raising his hand, he hesitantly knocked on the door. Several long moments later, the door was pulled open by a rather disheveled looking Draco, who looked around the hallway in confusion. Just before he closed the door again, Harry turned himself visible, making the boy jump slightly in surprise.
“ What are you doing here?”
“ I came to talk to you about something. May I come in?”
Draco looked at his visitor warily before pulling the door open wider and gesturing Harry towards the armchairs by the fire. Once both were seated, Draco clasped his hands on his chest and waited for Harry to finish his inspection of his room. The Boy-Who-Lived was a little surprised to see his former Muggle hating enemy's desk adorned with a TV/VCR and a row of Disney videos. He also spotted the rumoured lion cub sitting on one of Draco's pillows. Once he had completed his inspection, he turned to his quietly waiting host.
“ You know, this used to be my room in the seventies,” he said. Draco raised one eyebrow.
“ Really? I didn't know that. You went to school with my father, I believe.”
“ Indeed I did. He hated me from the first day I arrived for undermining his authority in Slytherin.”
“ I can see how that would be a problem for him. He always liked being in control,” the former Malfoy heir conceded.
“ Strange then,” Harry countered, “ That he would spend much of his adult life grovelling before an insane half blood.”
“ He made his choices, Potter, and I made mine. Now, I don't believe you came here for a social visit, so kindly get to the point.”
Harry nodded his head, accepting what the blond was saying. After all, Draco may have called a truce, but the pair were anything but friends.
“ My friends and I are going to visit my Aunt Heather later, and knowing from her how close the pair of you have become, I thought it only polite to ask if you wanted to come with us.”
The blond stared at his former enemy in surprise. That was the last thing he had expected from the boy in front of him. However, he did miss Heather, as well as Evelyn, who he knew from their exchanged letters would be at Heather's house until just after New Year. His mind made up, he nodded slowly to the other boy.
“ What time are you leaving?”
“ In about fifteen minutes. We're apparating from the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. If you want some time to get ready, I'll leave a door open into my secret room so you can get there. Just use the fireplace to get there, calling out `Domus Corvus Corax'.”
“ Wait a minute, you're letting me into the resistance's headquarters? No questions asked?”
“ Well, Ginny told me I should be more trusting, so I'm prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt. However, I've demonstrated before what I'm willing to do if you betray that trust, so I wouldn't recommend it.”
Draco nodded slowly, taking in everything the dark haired boy had told him. He really wanted to see Heather and Evie again, and he figured it would be worth it. Harry stood and made his way over to the wall, placing his hand there and creating a door into his room. With a muttered spell, the door would remain open until pulled closed. Harry gave Draco one last nod, before entering the room and flooing to Corvus Corax.
As soon as Draco stepped out of the fireplace, shocking most of the people present, Harry led the group to the apparition point in the portkey room. Draco was looking around the castle in awe, amazed that the Order had such an enormous building at their disposal, especially one that the Dark Lord had never been able to find. When they stopped, Harry turned to the blond and fixed him with a glare.
“ Malfoy, can you apparate?”
“ Of course I can,” the blond said smugly, “ I've been able to for years.”
Dumbledore sent the former aristocrat a chastising look, before waiting quietly for Harry to give to go ahead. With a nod, the Boy-Who-Lived gave all of those who had never been before a mental image of Heather's house, before they apparated away with a series of *pop*s.
Once they had all arrived at their destination, Harry strode up to the front door and knocked loudly, waiting for his aunt to answer. He was surprised, therefore, when a small girl, no older than ten, opened the door and gave him a curious look. He immediately realised that this was the same girl who had been clinging to Malfoy in Canterbury. This was confirmed when she let out an excited squeak, and ran into the grinning blonde's arms. After a few minutes, Harry cleared his throat pointedly and she pulled away from Draco, her cheeks flushed as she asked them to come in. Once they were all seated in the living room, she disappeared into the kitchen, coming back seconds later with Heather right behind her. The woman had a smile on her face, obviously anticipating seeing Harry and Draco again. Her expression turned from happy to afraid in the blink of an eye as she spotted Dumbledore sitting by the window, a gentle smile gracing his lips and his eyes twinkling madly. She immediately drew her wand and started to back up, pulling Evelyn behind her in a protective manner. The headmaster stood, walking slowly towards her, but this only seemed to distress her more. Noting her reaction, Harry decided it was time to intervene, and stood up, moving between the pair and holding his hands up.
“ Alright, stop, both of you. Professor, please sit down, you're scaring my aunt. Heather, you sit down as well. Dumbledore won't hurt you, I promise. I won't let him,” he said, sending the headmaster a pointed look. The pair reluctantly took their seats, and Dumbledore decided to break the silence.
“ Heather, my dear, there is no need for alarm. As Harry said, I won't hurt you. Now, as you have probably guessed, some selected members of the Order discovered your whereabouts when young Glenadade told us that Harry had run off. The rest found out when he chastised him upon his return. When I heard that some students would be visiting you today, I thought it was time for me to pay you a visit, and offer you the chance to return to the wizarding world.”
“ What's the catch?” Heather asked, looking at the old man in suspicion.
“ Ah, I see you are as perceptive as your nephew. There is, indeed, a catch. Now, from what limited information I have gathered from our resident Potters, you have suffered a great deal under Voldemort, and would not easily be convinced to rejoin the Order. However, I do have an alternative for you. Call it mutual back scratching.”
“ Headmaster, I have experience with mutual back scratching, and most of the time it's a case of `I'll scratch your back, and you'll stick a knife in mine'.”
“ Believe me, Miss Evans, Harry would never let me do that.”
“ True,” Harry agreed, “ I don't know what he has planned, but hear him out, Aunt Heather. Remember, I won't let anything happen to you, even if I have to memory charm the entire Order to keep you safe.”
“ Shouldn't I be the one doing that?” Heather teased her nephew, “ After all, I was a Ministry Obliviator.”
“ Indeed,” Harry said, one eyebrow raised.
“ What do you propose, Albus?” Heather asked.
“ I am fully prepared to pull some strings at the Ministry and clear up a few things, including the fact that you are an Order of the Phoenix member, and not a Death Eater.”
“ And how do you propose to do that?”
“ Do you have the Dark Mark?”
Heather flinched, but pulled her sleeve up, showing bare, pale skin. There was no sign of the Dark Mark that had once marred her skin, and she was infinitely grateful to Harry for removing it when he rescued her. If she had had to live with it, she would have given up long ago and done something drastic. Its removal, though, gave her the motivation to put her life back together and sever all ties with her past. The arrival of Albus Dumbledore on her doorstep, though, had shaken her world up.
“ The Dark Mark is gone,” the aged man said, relief colouring his voice.
“ I removed it twenty years ago,” Harry admitted.
“ Well, that certainly makes things easier,” Dumbledore said in relief.
“ Supposing I did want to return to the wizarding world. What is your condition?” Heather asked, afraid of what the old man would say.
“ Well, you actually have the Potters to thank for this suggestion,” he said, giving Harry and Glen a pointed look, “ We seem to be in need of a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and I wanted to offer you the position.”
Heather was stunned, as were the students. This was the last thing she had expected him to offer her. She looked to Evie, who was giving her a large grin and nodding her head vigorously, and Draco, who was sending her a hopeful look. When she looked to her nephew, she saw a relieved look in his eyes, and he gave her a slight nod. Her mind made up, she turned back to the headmaster.
“ I will agree on one condition.”
“ And what would that be?”
“ I want everything in a magical contract,” she said, “ I don't want you coming to we in a week or a month, asking me to do something else for you, and using your favour as blackmail. I want it all in writing. You know magical contracts are unbreakable.”
Dumbledore considered what she was saying for several minutes before nodding his head and pulling out his wand. Heather jumped, startled, and quickly drew her own wand. Dumbledore, however, simply waved his own wand and conjured a magical contract, signed it, and handed it over for her to read. Taking it carefully, she read over every inch of it, checked it for invisible clauses, and then signed it with a sigh of resignation. Immediately, the contract rolled itself up and disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving a nervous Heather and a beaming Dumbledore.
“ Well, now that we have that settled, I'll be off. I have preparations for your arrival to make, don't I? And I'll need to decide what to tell the Ministry. I will see you in January, Professor Evans,” he said with a bow, before preparing to apparate out. Before he could leave, though, Ginny let out a loud gasp and grabbed her head, falling heavily into Harry's lap.