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Chapter Twenty-Three
Plans of Attack

As Fudge and his escort made their way purposefully towards Harry's cell, the boy in question frantically formulated a cunning plan to humiliate the Minister for Magic.  His hate of Fudge rivalled his hate of the Dark Lord, which didn't say much for the cowardly man's chances when faced with a plotting Boy-Who-Lived.  Just as the `visitors' stopped outside the cell, Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on opening his link with Voldemort.  He knew he wouldn't be able to do much with the anti-magic field in place, but it would be enough to keep him amused for the next couple of weeks.  His time in Azkaban so far had been tedious at best, as his mental shields had successfully kept the Dementors at bay, but he knew he couldn't hold out indefinitely, meaning he would have to face their effects sooner rather than later.  

As the many bolts and locks were opened in the solid iron door, Harry grabbed hold of the thin thread of magic connecting him to the evil monster and coaxed it further open.  He could feel an ominous presence on the other end, and fiercely tightened his control on his mental shields to keep the Dark Lord out of his mind.   At the same time, he sifted through Voldemort's superficial thoughts, which mostly involved plans for maiming and torturing the scarred boy, as well as the odd design on pillaging his way through Hogwarts.  Harry turned away from the thoughts in disgust, looking deeper to his nemesis' personality traits and physical attributes.  As soon as he found them, he selected what he needed and quickly retreated back to his own mind.  By the time he was finished, his cell door had been pulled open and Fudge was smirking down at him.  He obviously expected to see Harry raving like a lunatic after two weeks with the Dementors, and his smug expression was betrayed by the look in his eyes.  Emerald green met mud brown, and Harry could see surprise and confusion, and not a little disappointment, in the Minister's eyes.  Harry smirked back, an especially cold expression on his face.

“ Good Morning, Cornelius,” he drawled.  Fudge puffed up in an indignant manner and sent him a poisonous look.

“ I don't believe I gave you permission to use my first name, Potter,” he huffed.  Harry grinned back maniacally.

“ Oh, no, Cornelius, I don't believe you did.  But then, titles are meant for people you respect, don't you agree?”

“ Now see here, Potter…”

“ Mr. Potter, if you please.  The Minister for Magic should be polite at all times, it's good politics, after all.  I, however, am a lowly convict, and am not bound by the same constraints.  Now, I ask that you state your business here.  You are, after all, disturbing my peace and quiet.”

Fudge gave Harry an incredulous look, clearly showing his disbelief at the boy.  

“ Potter, I am here to inform you that several people have appealed against your sentence.  However, as Minister for Magic, and being the person wronged by your actions, I vetoed their complaints and ensured your presence here for the next two weeks.”

Harry raised one eyebrow at the man in a show of obvious sarcasm.  A small smile appeared on his lips and he gracefully stood up and began circling the man standing in the middle of the cell.  The guard by the door shifted a little uncomfortably, ready to intervene if it became necessary to do so.  As Harry was circling the now slightly disconcerted politician, his eyes gradually changed colour, until he was gazing into Fudge's frightened eyes with blazing blood red orbs.

“ Do you honestly expect me to believe, Cornelius, that you came all the was down to Azkaban prison in person to inform me of such trivial news?  Tut tut, Cornelius, I thought you had better things to do with your time and the taxpayers' money.  Obviously I was wrong.”

“ I don't know what you're implying, Potter…” Fudge ground out, fear now obvious on his face.  The scarlet eyes gazed steadily back at him.

“ You know exactly what I'm implying, Cornelius,” Harry hissed in his ear from behind him, “ I'm implying that you came all the way down here to taunt me, to see me humiliated, and prove you were better than the famous Boy-Who-Lived.  But that's not the way it turned out, is it Cornelius?” he asked, now facing the Minister again.  Fudge gulped audibly when he saw Harry's skin pale even further and his fangs elongate slightly.  When Harry stepped into the other man's personal space and made an eerily Lecteresque slurping noise, the Minister for Magic let out a light scream and ran from the room as fast as his pudgy legs could carry him, the sound of Harry's creepy, hissing laugh following him all the way out of Azkaban.


That night Harry was in a much better mood.  While his games with the unfortunate Minister had weakened his mental shields a little, he thought it was definitely worth it to have the image of Fudge's face saved in his memory for all eternity.  The man had been nothing but trouble since Harry's third year at Hogwarts, and he was always glad to get a little revenge on the man who sent Dumbledore to St. Mungo's.  As Harry dropped of to sleep that night, his mind was filled with the image of Cornelius Fudge running screaming from the cell.  However, his dreams were soon invaded by an ominous void, sucking him towards a dark meeting in the depths of the Riddle house.  As soon as he saw the setting, Harry knew immediately what was going on.  He had opened the link to Voldemort, meaning visions came more easily to him.  Sighing in resignation, Harry's insubstantial self made his way through the room of assembled Death Eaters and found a good vantage point, close enough to hear what the Head Snake had to say, but far enough that he could have a good overall view of the room.

Within a few minutes, the room was filled, and the last of the Death Eaters had apparated in.  They formed an attentive circle around the Dark Lord, who was sitting on a large and elaborate throne.  Harry snorted to himself, thinking about small people needing large furniture to boost their egos.  He was drawn from his contemplations by Voldemort, who suddenly stood up and raised his hands.  The Death Eaters simultaneously knelt before their master, prostrating themselves on the ground.  Harry shuddered in revulsion, looking carefully at the masked figures to see if he could identify Severus.

Once the Death Eaters had pulled themselves to their feet, Voldemort addressed them all.

“ My faithful,” he called to the crowd, “ I have summoned you today to explain my final plans for the downfall of Hogwarts and the destruction of my most hated enemy, Harry Potter!”

While the followers muttered amongst themselves, Harry paled considerably.  He had been cut off from all news concerning the outside world, so didn't know what had been going on.  He assumed Severus had told the Evil Git about his and Dumbledore's absences.  He wondered, though, when Voldemort was intending to attack if he was hoping to take out Harry at the same time.  His question was answered when the Dark Lord continued.

“ My faithful followers, or greatest hour is soon at hand.  As many of you will know, the Great Fool, Albus Dumbledore, has been committed to the mental ward of St. Mungo's Hospital, and Harry Potter has been incarcerated in Azkaban!”

Many cheers rang out at this news, making Harry feel vaguely nauseous, despite his incorporeal state.

“ We now have an opportunity,” Voldemort continued, “ An opportunity to strike the heart of the Light while they are at their weakest.  My sources tell me that Potter will be released from Azkaban in two weeks time.  I have also heard that Dementors have an amusingly strong effect on the boy.  He will be severely weakened upon his return, making it easy for us to not only take over Hogwarts, but rid ourselves of the Boy-Who-Lived!”

The entire room cheered loudly, enthused by the prospect of finally taking over the wizarding world.  Harry glared daggers at Voldemort, who had an incredibly smug smirk on his face.  After a few minutes, he cleared his throat and regained the attention of the Death Eaters.”

“ I need every one of you preparing for the attack.  The day of reckoning is coming, and on the 5th May our time will come!”

As Harry jerked awake with laughter ringing in his ears, he shuddered at what he had just heard.  The date for the final battle was set, and there was nothing he could do to prepare.


Albus Dumbledore was disturbed from his contemplations several days later by a loud knocking on his door.  Looking at the inconspicuous exit of the padded room in interest, he calmly waited for one of the nurses to unlock it.  Sure enough, seconds later he heard the unmistakable noise of the bolts being thrown.  When the door finally opened, he grinned widely and held his hand out to his unexpected visitor.   

“ Eustace, my friend, how good it is to see you!  Please, take a seat.  I would offer you tea and lemon drops, but they took away my wand.”

“ That's alright, Albus, I'll take care of it,” a saddened Eustace replied as he sat down on the edge of the bed.  With a wave of his wand a china tea set appeared on a conjured table.

“ So, what news from the outside?” Dumbledore asked, some of the twinkle returning to his eyes.

“ I don't know where to start,” the eldest Potter said with a sigh, “ It's a complete mess.  Since you and Harry were taken away, the Order is in a shambles.  Attacks are going unchecked.  We can't call an Order meeting.  Moral is at an all time low.  Glen is missing his father, as is Ginny.  Voldemort is planning an attack for the fifth of May, at least that's what Severus is telling us, and Fudge has had a nervous breakdown.”

Dumbledore raised an eyebrow in surprise, a small smile playing on his lips.  

“ A breakdown?  Really?  What prompted that

“ Harry,” Eustace replied, rolling his eyes in amusement.  Albus let out a light chuckle and shook his head.

“ Of course.  What did he do this time?”

“ I'm not sure, but from what Arthur has heard in the Ministry, Fudge went to visit him in Azkaban and came running back out, screaming his head off.”

“ That sounds like Harry.  Are you prepared for the attack on Hogwarts?” the former headmaster asked, a note of seriousness replacing the amusement in his voice.  Eustace let out a loud sigh and dropped his head into his hands.

“ Without the option of calling the Order, we have to do the best we can.  The Hogwarts residents who are in the Order have been rallying as many of our allies as possible, but until Harry returns we can't bring everyone together at the same time.”

“ Who have you contacted?” Albus asked.

“ Well, we managed to floo or owl most of the Order.  I also sent a message to Meilani, Leilani and Vrykolakas, telling them the date of the attack.  Last night I managed to get hold of Minh and her family in the elven world, so they've agreed to help when the time comes.”

“ Good good,” Dumbledore said, even though in his heart of hearts, he knew the coming battle would tear all of their lives apart.


On the first day of May, the Great Hall was abuzz with supposition as students and teachers alike speculated on Harry's mental state upon his return that morning.  Most of the Slytherins were coming up with spectacular stories about how he would be almost Dementor like, having had his soul sucked out.  While he wasn't participating in the gossip, Draco Malfoy certainly didn't discourage them, listening attentively to the creative notions his Housemates had dreamed up.  At the other tables, the conversations followed the same subject.  The Gryffindors especially were worried about Harry's mental state.  They had all seen his fluctuating moods and attitudes, and his close friends in particular were concerned that the stint in prison might have thrown him so far over the edge he would be beyond help.  They were pulled out of their conversations with the loud banging of the Great Hall doors as they were thrown open.  As the entire Hogwarts population swivelled to look at the figure standing in the doorway, they all tried to make him out in the shadows.  With a grin, Harry Potter stepped into the morning light, a dangerous glint in his eyes.

“ Good morning, everybody.  I'm back.”

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