Author: Beren (aka Didi)
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: This story is set post OOTP and therefore has SPOLIERS.
Summary: Harry has returned to Hogwarts after Dumbledore took charge of the situation at Malfoy Manor, but is he safe from the Ministry and is the world safe from him?
Sequel to: Third in the Corruption Sequence after Pt1 Corruption, Pt2 Distortion
Author's Notes: Okay so this is turning into an epic, but I will continue in the vein that each story adds to the last and the sequence could stop at the end of any of them. Thanks go to Soph for beta reading this as usual.
Chapter 1/5 Chapter 2/5 Chapter 3/5 Chapter 4/5 Chapter 5/5
Alteration (Corruption 3) - Chapter 4/5
Harry walked in to the dungeon room at the Ministry to find that the benches were full and it appeared that anyone who was anyone had decided to be present. Harry suspected Dumbledore's hand in the matter since at least this way Fudge could not sweep the whole thing under the carpet. The only section of society missing, other than the children, was the press, and Harry knew exactly where they were since he had had to dodge them on the way in. There were several gasps and some low whispering the moment those in attendance caught sight of him. Remus, Molly, Arthur, Hermione, Ron and Neville all gave him encouraging smiles as he walked to the chair before the adjudicating council. One was Fudge; one was Amelia Bones and the third he did not recognise.
Sitting down carefully he waited for what he was absolutely positive would happen, and true to form the chains on the chair leapt into life; Fudge had obviously ordered him bound. There was a murmuring of unrest at the action, but Harry was not about to let it occur anyway. His magic flared into life at the threat and the chains never reached him, becoming seemingly stuck in some invisible substance as they waved almost gently in the air.
"I believe perhaps a mistake has been made," Dumbledore said politely; "Harry is not a prisoner, why have the bindings been made active?"
"I ordered it," Fudge said angrily, seemingly believing that the headmaster was responsible for the halt of the chains. "This hearing is to ascertain how dangerous Harry Potter is to those around him, he must be bound to maintain court security. Release your hold on the chains, Dumbledore."
"Professor Dumbledore is doing nothing to them," Harry said in a menacing, but completely calm tone, "I am. Deactivate them now, or I promise you they will never work again."
It was probably not the best way to start the hearing, but he was in no mood to pretend. The whole situation was folly; Fudge had taken him out of the only place he felt secure and Harry wanted to make sure the man understood his idiocy. The Minister was now looking at him with something akin to horror, but Madame Bones came to the court's rescue, pointing her wand at the chair and speaking one word. The chains fell back to their original position.
"I protest," Fudge said immediately.
"Minister," Amelia Bones said calmly, "the chains are clearly pointless. Mr Potter is here of his own volition, he is not a prisoner and hence binding him to the chair is technically illegal."
That shut up the annoying little man and Harry sat on his desire to snarl at the Minister. Ripping the man's throat out would be such a delightful pleasure, but even if Fudge was an incompetent moron, Harry doubted that action would win him any friends. Focussing everything he had on his Occulmency skills he held on to his darker side.
"I would suggest you call the hearing to order, Minister," the man Harry did not know said calmly.
"Enquiry hearing of the sixth of December," Fudge said through clenched teeth, "in the matter of the magical status of Harry James Potter. Interrogators: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister for Magic; Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Francis Maxwell Agito, Head of the Department for Control of Dark Creatures. Acting for the defence, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore."
Harry looked into the eyes of the afore name head of Control of Dark Creatures and the man looked back without flinching; he was impressed, from what he understood, these days that was a hard thing to do. With so many people around it was impossible to isolate what any single wizard or witch was feeling without revealing more of himself than he wanted to, so Harry had to be content with the truth his eyes beheld, rather than the truth his extra senses could give him.
"Mr Potter," Fudge launched in immediately, "are you, or are you not a Dark creature."
"I believe, Cornelius," Dumbledore countered pleasantly, "that this is the question which we have come here to discuss. That Harry has gained certain abilities from several species of Dark Creature is not in question, however, what he has become as a result of Voldemort's," a murmur went round the room at the Dark Lord's name, "meddling is yet to be decided."
"Quite," Agito said evenly, "perhaps, Minister, we should move on. The facts of the case should be entered into the record."
Whether the wizard was on his side or not, Harry rather admired Agito's technique. The instincts clawing just beneath the surface had labelled everyone on the bench an adversary, but the logical part of Harry was not so sure.
"In a case of such grave importance I call for the use of Veritaserum," Fudge said bluntly.
Harry went cold and was unable to completely hide the snarl that threatened; his lip curled and his fingers went white on the arms of his chair.
"If it pleases the Wizengamot," Snape's voice carried over the stunned court room, "I believe that to be unwise."
"The Wizengamot recognises Severus Snape, Potions Master and Professor at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry," Amelia Bones said smoothly before the Minister could object.
"Thank you, Madame Bones," Snape said in his usual cold tone, standing up where he was still to one side. "Mr Potter's physiology is not understood and he has shown adverse reactions to some common potions ingredients. To administer Veritaserum would endanger Mr Potter and the Wizengamot."
"I do not see ..." Fudge began to bluster back.
"To place any wizard in an altered state is dangerous," Snape continued smoothly as if the Minister had not spoken, "due to unconscious magic; to place Mr Potter in an altered state could be tantamount to suicide."
That brought the whole room to complete silence.
"The Wizengamot relinquishes its requirement for Veritaserum," Agito said firmly, without bothering to look at either of his fellow bench members.
The expression on Fudge's face was furious, but the Minister had been out manoeuvred.
"Mr Potter," Fudge launched straight in again before either of the others had a chance, "on Saturday the twenty seventh of November you went from Hogsmeade village to Malfoy Manor in the company of four Death Eaters, is this not correct?"
"Was taken," Harry said firmly, "by force."
He was no longer the scared fifteen year old he had been last time he had set foot in this room and he was not about to take Fudge's contemptible bullying. The Minister's attempts to skew the court record were, quite frankly, annoying rather than worrying.
"Would you care to tell the court, in your own words," Madame Bones put in before Fudge could react, "what happened that afternoon."
Having to sit quite firmly on his desire to tell Fudge exactly what he thought of him, Harry nodded.
"Ron and I were in Honeydukes," he began as evenly as he could, focusing on the woman who had asked the question rather than the vexing Minister.
"This would be Ronald Bilius Weasley, son of Arthur and Molly Weasley?" Agito clarified calmly.
"Yes, Sir," Harry replied, though he really didn't feel like being particularly polite. "It was when we walked out of the shop that it happened; there was a large explosion, at least I think it was large, but I was right next to it and it hit me full on so I could be wrong. I hit my head when I fell back and I vaguely remember a couple of people grabbing me, but nothing else. The next thing I knew I was being dragged in front of Voldemort. He jeered at me for a while, gloated, the usual thing, and then he had one of his Death Eaters force a potion down my throat. That's the last thing I remember except for vague feelings and pain, until I woke up in Draco Malfoy's bedroom."
He stopped, unwilling to just plough on unless he was pushed. It seemed that for now Fudge was more interested in the events he had described rather than anything else, if the malicious glint in the man's eye could be believed.
"So you claim you were not a willing participant in the Dark Magic performed on your person," the Minister said evenly.
Harry knew what was coming, but there was little he could do to avoid it; he just hoped he could hold on to his temper better than he had when Caveo had accused him of the same thing.
"I offer into evidence the report of the specialist Auror unit who examined, revealed and catalogued the spells performed to render Mr Potter into his current state," Fudge said, barely hiding his glee.
"So noted," Madame Bones said formally.
"Mr Potter, are you familiar with the Crevitemero ceremony?" the Minister asked and Harry just about managed to keep his features from showing his anger at the wizard.
It was a stupid question; they both knew Harry had no idea what Fudge was on about.
"No," he answered shortly.
"It is a Dark Magic ceremony to take power from one wizard and place it in another," the Minister continued eagerly, "it requires the wizard receiving the power to be a willing participant. A variation of this ceremony was performed on you."
A muttering filled the room and Madame Bones struck a large round stone on the desk to quiet every one down.
"Could you be a little clearer in your definition of 'willing participant', please, Cornelius?" Dumbledore's calm tones begged no argument, even though he sounded as if he had just asked the Minister to pass the butter.
"The participant is required to chant the ceremonial spells with those performing the power transfer," Fudge said victoriously, "and hence Harry Potter must have been complicit in his own transformation."
When Dumbledore did not immediately deny this Harry looked round at his mentor, to see what the headmaster was up to.
"Come now, Cornelius," Dumbledore said pleasantly as if speaking to a child, "Harry had already revealed that he was drugged. A drugged mind cannot protect itself. When I arrived at Malfoy Manor on the morning of the twenty ninth of November I took the liberty of having Harry checked for traces of Imperio. The results I believe were positive and are also a matter or record."
Fudge appeared dumbfounded; the Minister had obviously not read that far in the report.
"I would put it to the assembled council that Harry was not complicit in his own transformation, but was drugged to prevent his resistance of the Imperius curse, and was subsequently forced to take part in the Crevitemero ceremony," the headmaster said calmly.
Both Madame Bones and Agito nodded in agreement, Fudge had no choice but to come in to line. Smug satisfaction was not something Harry often felt, but he experienced it now on Dumbledore's behalf. It couldn't last though, and he knew it.
"What happened after you woke up, Mr Potter?" Madame Bones asked kindly, but professionally.
He went cold again and the hostile feelings rose to just below the surface as every one became the enemy once more.
"I met Draco Malfoy for the first time since the train home after the sixth year," he said, picking his words very carefully and holding on to his feelings with an iron will.
"And?" Agito prompted evenly.
"He told me what had happened, what I was becoming," Harry said shortly.
"So at this point you were still human?" Amelia Bones looked sorry to have to ask the question, but her tone was firm never the less.
"Yes, Ma'am," Harry replied, trying to distance himself from the memory, "I could feel the power inside, but it hadn't changed me yet. I think the patterns were some sort of holding spell and only when they started to fade could the magic alter me. Once that started I passed out."
This time the murmuring sounded vaguely sympathetic.
"And when you woke up the second time," Agito asked plainly, "what occurred, Mr Potter."
"I did part of what Voldemort expected of me," Harry said, unable to keep the self-loathing out of his voice, "I had sex with Draco Malfoy, whether he really wanted to or not, and then I bit him."
"Are you saying you raped, Draco Malfoy?" Fudge leapt at the chance to confirm what Harry could not bring himself to outright admit without the anger he had shown Caveo.
"If it pleases the Wizengamot," Snape's voice carried over the room a second time, "I believe this answers that question."
Harry turned his head to look at the Potions master in surprise; he had not expected anyone to come to his rescue on this point. He had not given Draco a choice, even if his lover had not resisted.
"What is it?" Madame Bones asked calmly.
"A written account of the incident in question by Draco Malfoy," Snape said evenly.
"Hearsay," Fudge said instantly, "if the witness cannot appear the evidence cannot be accepted."
"The document has the Malfoy family seal," Snape replied and the Minister's face fell again.
Harry didn't understand.
"There are only two individuals who may use the Malfoy family seal," Agito pointed out to the other two members of the bench, "Narcissa Malfoy who is unlikely to produce a document defending a wizard who attacked her son, and Draco Malfoy. Hence I do not see why the account should not be read into evidence."
"He could have been coerced," Fudge insisted.
"Mr Malfoy also requested that I present this if necessary," Snape replied and held out a small globe, "it is a memory ball of him creating the document."
Madame Bones nodded to a prim looking woman to her left who stood up and walked over to Snape to retrieve the two objects. When the witch handed the parchment and the globe to the bench the Head of Magical Law Enforcement peered into the memory ball before passing it to Agito and then opened the letter. Harry just stared as she read, wondering what Draco would have said in the letter. The document and the memory ball worked their way through all three Interrogators and then back to Madame Bones.
"I believe the only section required for evidence it the last paragraph," she said firmly, and the look she sent Fudge dared the man to disagree.
Her companions both nodded.
"I, Draco Malfoy," Madame Bones read firmly, "was complicit in all actions upon my person taken by Harry Potter on the night of the twenty eight of November. I expected to die at his hand, as was Voldemort's desire; that I am not dead is a tribute to Harry Potter's character."
Total silence reigned around the room and Harry dared not look at anyone as conflicting emotions raged within him. His memories were too clear, and they excited the darker part of his nature, but what he had done still abhorred the human part. Whatever Draco claimed, it had not been a mutual choice.
"Perhaps you would care to tell us what occurred after this point," Madame Bones said eventually.
It took Harry a few more long seconds before he could lift his eyes from where he was staring at the floor and meet the witch's gaze. They would pull every detail from him, he knew it, and he steeled himself against his own reactions.
"Mr Potter?" Madame Bones coaxed kindly.
"I left him unconscious on the bed and left the room," he said slowly and watched as Fudge leapt at the opportunity to interrogate him.
"How exactly did you do that, Mr Potter?" the Minister asked shortly.
The man was determined to reveal everything dark about Harry to the court and Harry glared at him without being able to stop himself.
"I changed into a wolf and jumped through the door," he said plainly, stating things directly being the only way he could deal with the emotions the memories recalled.
The murmuring around the court increased again, but quietened down before Madame Bones was required to call for order.
"And what did you do once outside?" Agito, asked evenly.
Harry's eyes flicked to Fudge, he knew that the man would have read the report and there was no point in trying to hide the truth. Circumventing the issue of who he had and had not killed was going to be impossible.
"I killed the Death Eater on guard," he admitted, trying to keep any emotion from his voice.
"How and why?" Fudge demanded instantly.
"Now, Cornelius," Dumbledore put in immediately, "the how is a matter of record, I do not believe it would serve any purpose to bring in such details at this time."
"I concur," Madame Bones agreed before the Minister could protest, "but the why is pertinent to this enquiry."
"He drew his wand on me," Harry said, knowing that Fudge would make an issue out of the matter if he hesitated and let the Minister have a way in; "he was a danger to me, so I killed him."
"Did it not occur to you to disarm the wizard?" Agito asked reasonably.
This line of questioning seemed to appease Fudge somewhat since someone else was asking difficult questions, but Harry's glare still focused on the Minister.
"No," he replied honestly, "nothing occurred to me except removing the threat."
"And if you were threatened now, what would be the result?" the Head of Control of Dark Creatures asked calmly.
"I don't know," Harry replied, unable to answer the question, "it would depend on the threat."
He really didn't know how to explain it, it seemed rather obvious to him.
"I believe what Harry is trying to say," Dumbledore entered in to the conversation slowly, "is that his response is equivalent to the nature of the threat. Death Eaters have been trying to kill Harry for years; he had no reason to suspect less of them in this instance."
"So you considered everyone in that house a deadly threat?" Agito asked, obviously trying to clarify the point in his mind.
"Yes," Harry said immediately and then paused, "well all the Death Eaters. They were the enemy; they'd been torturing me for two days, what was I supposed to think?"
The anger at being second guessed and put on display twisted in the pit of his stomach, but he held himself very still to prevent a reaction.
"Quite," Agito said, seemingly satisfied. "Why did you clarify 'Death Eaters'? Surely all those at the Manor were in Voldemort's employ?"
"No," Harry replied, his mind skipping back, "I met Narcissa Malfoy at the bottom of the stairs, she was only worried that her son had been sacrificed to," he paused, waiting for the memory to crystallise, "'this madness' is what she called it. I told her to take Draco and leave, and then I went to the secret rooms under the kitchen."
His memory was already flicking forward to Voldemort and he was ready to go on, but Madam Bones interrupted him.
"I'm sorry, Mr Potter," she said professionally, "but you're saying you met Narcissa Malfoy and let her go?"
"Did you mention this when you made your statement?" she asked evenly.
Harry nodded again; when Tonks had taken his statement, after Remus' first visit he had told her everything.
"Why is it not in the official record?" Madam Bones asked pointedly, looking at both of her fellows. "If someone has been tampering with official statements I will have them thrown in Azkaban."
Fudge did not appear in the least guilty, but then Harry suspected the man had had a lot of practice. A quiet rumble of a growl made it past his clenched teeth and he looked away to calm himself down.
"There must have been a clerical error," the Minster said as if he was perfectly innocent. "I will have the matter looked in to as soon as this hearing is over."
"Why did you let Narcissa Malfoy leave, Mr Potter?" Agito seemed to consider the matter closed and was moving on.
Harry let his mind trawl over the memory, trying to understand his reasoning. At the time he had not really been thinking, just doing.
"She was almost as desperate as I was," he said eventually, "and she wasn't a threat. She was like Draco, a prisoner of circumstance. I didn't need to harm her and she could help get Draco away."
All three members of the bench were looking at him when he glanced back at them this time; even Fudge seemed to be considering what he had said.
"I am sorry to dwell on the matter, Mr Potter," Madam Bones said kindly, "but would you mind explaining why the freedom of Draco Malfoy was important to you? Surely once he had provided what you needed he was no longer relevant to you?"
"He was innocent," Harry said, not understanding quite what she was getting at. "I didn't know what would happen when I confronted Voldemort, I didn't want anyone innocent being hurt."
The witch sat back in her chair a small smile playing at her mouth and he realised suddenly that he had said exactly what she was hoping to hear. In that moment he knew that in this Madam Bones was on his side.
"So, Harry," Dumbledore said pleasantly, "am I correct in saying that even as a werewolf you maintained enough of your original personality to wish others out of harm's way?"
Harry glanced at his mentor now and he found himself in awe of the war of words being played around him; it was almost as if the whole thing was scripted. Not quite sure of his voice at that moment, he nodded.
"Thank you, Harry," the headmaster said with a smile, "please go on."
Turning back he found Fudge glaring at him once more, but the other two members of the bench seemed to have relaxed slightly.
"Um," he said, trying to gather his thoughts again, for now his confusion quelling the anger which had been building, "I went to the underground rooms; Voldemort was waiting for me. He seemed to think that now I had so much Dark Magic in me I was his to command. I don't really understand it, he seemed to think he had created a Dark slave, it never seemed to have occurred to him that I might still want to kill him."
He paused for a moment, using his Occlumency training to distance himself from the memory.
"I played along for a while," he began again, concentrating on long, calming breaths, "until I was close enough to strike. Then I ripped out his heart."
No matter what steps he had tried to take, his proclamation of victory came out with a relish he could not hide. It was almost as if he could smell Voldemort's blood on his hands and more than just the dark creatures inside him revelled in the recollection.
"You expect us to believe that You Know Who just allowed you to walk up to him and kill him?" Fudge asked derisively. "Are you sure it was not more that you were now a trusted ally and killed everyone present to prevent them telling the world?"
That pushed the wrong button in Harry's head and he stood up with a snarl, fangs descending and supernatural defences coming to the fore.
"Voldemort has been trying to kill me since I was eleven," he said in a very low voice, resonating the power he could no longer hide; "he did kill my family and as good as killed my godfather. I would never, ever have pledged my allegiance to that monster. No Dark Mark, see," he finished coldly, holding up his arm and ripping back the sleeve of his shirt.
There had been some rustling and he could see the Aurors of the court with their hands on their wands and several plain clothed officers doing the same in the assembly. In a second his gaze flicked around the entire room cataloguing every possible threat in an instinctive move, then with a last glare at Fudge, he sat down again.
"Minister, do you have any evidence to support you hypothesis?" Agito asked calmly, as if nothing had just happened.
Fudge appeared suddenly slightly awkward.
"No," the Minister said evenly, "I just thought it best to record Mr Potter's reaction first hand."
Agito wrote something on the parchment he had been making notes on all though the hearing and then looked up once more at Harry.
"What occurred once Voldemort," the official pronounced the name slowly and calmly, "was dead?"
Harry tried to banish the bloody images of rending Fudge limb from limb from his mind, but his imagination was feeding off the memories he did have of the slaughter he had committed after killing Tom Riddle. It was a few moments before he could make his fangs ascend back into his jaw and bring himself to answer.
"I went after Bellatrix Lestrange next," he said quietly;" she killed my godfather. I don't remember how I killed her; it's all quite hazy after that. All I know is that I chased them all down; his whole inner council and I killed them. I don't really remember anything clearly until Draco Malfoy came back for me, I think I wanted to be dead."
"And it was Draco Malfoy who alerted Headmaster Dumbledore and the Ministry," Madam Bones interposed smoothly, "is that correct, Mr Potter?"
A nod was about all Harry could manage. The self-hatred he had felt after the killing had faded, but it still hurt and it was difficult not to allow it to take over again. He did not think the court would appreciate a banshee wail.
"Thank you, Mr Potter," Agito said calmly, "do you require a few minutes to compose yourself before we proceed?"
Taking a deep breath, Harry lifted his eyes and shook his head slowly. He was not sure how long he could keep this up, and a break was unlikely to help. What he really wanted was to leave the room and never have to come back.
"I believe the next incident of interest to the court occurred the morning of the thirtieth," the Head of Control of Dark Creatures said in response.
"An incident in which three Aurors were injured seriously enough to require treatment at St Mungo's," Fudge put in his two pence worth quickly, "one was petrified."
The murmuring grew again.
"Thank you, Minister," Agito said calmly, "I am sure we will come to that."
Fudge appeared rather affronted at that, but something stopped the pompous wizard from reacting.
"Mr Potter," Agito continued, "would you please explain what precipitated this incident."
"I had to stop them taking Draco to the Ministry," Harry said plainly.
"Why?" the simple question came back.
"I..." the words caught in Harry's throat as he hit the barrier in his mind, "he...Draco was going to die."
Was all he could say and he looked to Dumbledore for assistance.
"If I may be permitted to explain," the headmaster said smoothly, "we were able to ascertain that Harry had a premonition of Mr Malfoy's death. This ability comes from the banshee power forced into him, and hence he cannot speak of it. The Auror in charge was informed of the situation and he chose to ignore the warning."
"Draco Malfoy bears the Dark Mark," Fudge blustered quickly, "it was of tantamount importance that he be taken to a secure location. The Auror in charge was following procedure."
"And endangering the life of his prisoner, Cornelius," Dumbledore said smoothly, "a banshee has never been wrong."
Even the Minister of magic could not really argue with that one.
"So you reacted when the Auror team attempted to remove Mr Malfoy to the Ministry, is that correct?" Agito continued his questioning and headed off any confrontation between Dumbledore and Fudge.
"Yes," Harry replied very firmly, glad to have his voice back.
"Please tell us in your own words, what happened," the wizard requested in a professional manner.
It was not an easy thing to explain since he had mostly been working on instinct at the time, but he tried to make sense of what had occurred.
"I just knew they were taking him," Harry said, grasping for words as he went, "the banshee knew. It was the worse feeling I had ever felt, like I would explode if I didn't react and the wail just happened. I couldn't stop it. I didn't mean to hurt the Aurors on guard, but I couldn't control it. Everything in me needed to save Draco and I jumped out of the window. They were trying to put him in a car when I dragged him away from them; they couldn't have him, he's mine."
A reassuring hand on his shoulder brought him back from the memory and he looked up at Dumbledore as he gathered his thoughts.
"Why did you petrify Auror Blythe?" Agito did not give him much of a respite.
"He cast a Patronus when I tried to use the Dementor to keep them away," Harry said, automatically telling the truth without even considering it, "I just reacted. I had to protect Draco."
"Harry," Dumbledore said calmly, from beside him, "the Aurors were firing spells at you, were they not; spells which can be deadly to the creatures which now make up part of your nature. Is this not true?"
"I don't know," he said honestly, "I supposed so; I would have done if I was them."
"Madam Bones," his mentor continued, turning back to the bench, "what is standard procedure when faced with a dangerous dark creature?"
"In the case of a Dark Creature which can be lethal," Madam Bones explained calmly, "and does not stand down, standard orders are to kill it."
"So when faced with a werewolf, a Dementor and a basilisk," Dumbledore said in a very reasonable tone, "it is safe to assume they would not have been trying to merely subdue Harry?"
"That is correct," the Head of Magical Law Enforcement replied.
"You have no proof..." Fudge tried to put in.
"My Aurors are highly trained," Madam Bones said firmly, "if they react incorrectly in a situation they could die or worse. As is also standard procedure Auror Blythe's and Auror Patterson's wands were inventoried and the spells used entered into their reports. Mr Potter was in mortal peril."
Dumbledore smiled at the witch with a short nod.
"Harry," the headmaster turned his attention back to the bemused young man, "when the Aurors were trying to kill you, why did you not kill them?"
Harry just sat there, blinking at his mentor blankly. He had never thought of it like that, and the question stunned him for a moment.
"I," he said, trying to answer it and having to pause. "They weren't my enemy," he said eventually, finding it quite a revelation himself.
"But they were trying to kill you, Harry," Dumbledore insisted gently, "doesn't that make them your enemy?"
"Not like that," Harry said without thinking, "Aurors fight on the side of the Light; they were only doing their jobs, but I had to protect Draco."
He remembered the desires that had flooded through him, the need to hunt and kill, but he also recalled controlling them and it was not until now that he truly understood why. He could have killed them easily, he had proved that with Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and he knew he would have had there been no other choice, but he also realised that he had not wanted to destroy them. The fight with the Death Eaters had been so different and now he knew why. He looked into Dumbledore's sparkling blue eyes a little in awe of what the headmaster seemed to have known all the time and what he had only just come to accept.
"Thank you, Mr Potter," Agito took over again with his seemingly habitual efficiency. "Is there anything else we wish to ask Mr Potter at this stage, Interrogators, or do you wish to call your first witness, Minister?"
The look Fudge sent Harry was anything but happy.
"The Wizengamot calls Professor Algernon Priest to be a witness for the Ministry," the Minister said eventually, obviously exasperated with Dumbledore and annoyed with the way things were going.
A short wizard with glasses and a closely cropped white beard stood on the left of the bench.
"This tribunal recognises Professor Algernon Priest," this time it was Agito who spoke the formal words.
"Good morning, Algernon," Dumbledore greeted pleasantly, although from the expression on the other wizard's face Harry did not think there was any love lost between the two, "for the benefit of those not lucky enough to be of your acquaintance would you mind explaining what you do?"
"I am the chief potions master for the Department for Control of Magical creatures." If Harry had been in wolf form his hackles would have stood straight up at that moment; he didn't like Priest at all.
"I do believe he's your witness, Cornelius," Dumbledore turned back to the bench and smiled politely at the Minister.
It was a toss up as to whether Fudge asked his questions or blew a blood vessel if the bright red cheeks with little white spots were anything to go by. That at least gave Harry some satisfaction, which handed him some ammunition to help keep his dark side under wraps.
"Professor Priest," the Minister said eventually, "would you please tell this assembly all the dark creatures you have identified that now make up Mr Potter."
"Do not forget that Harry is human as well, Cornelius," Dumbledore said pleasantly; "if he wasn't I do not believe we would be sitting here today."
Fudge just glared and then looked at Priest as if the headmaster had not spoken. The man in question produced a list from his pocket and began to read.
"I turned him down for the post of Potions master at Hogwarts," Dumbledore said quietly in Harry's ear, which he appreciated no end as he tried to ignore most of what he already knew. "He has never forgiven me for choosing Severus over him, but Severus always was and always will be a superior potions master to Algernon."
Even trying not to listen, Harry couldn't help himself and when Priest finally finished he knew that the Ministry knew less than Snape. Of course they had not had access to more blood samples, but Priest had missed the Ethologi for a start, and a couple of others Snape had come up with over the last two days.
"Thank you, Professor," Fudge said in an oily tone as Priest finished.
Now the Minister seemed very pleased with himself.
"How can we possibly be asked to believe that Harry Potter is safe to remain at large with that many dark creatures within him?" Fudge said pointedly.
Dumbledore simply walked towards the bench and smiled, producing two parchments from within his robes.
"I believe Algernon missed a few," the headmaster said cheerfully, "and I have also included a list of which powers Harry has been shown to manifest from which creatures, and a list of his donors for any hungers which have come to light as well. Professor Snape has had more ready access to Harry so his research is more complete."
Fudge looked stunned and now it was Priest's turn to blow a blood vessel. For his part, Harry was not surprised; he had agreed to full disclosure. He did not want to be locked up for the rest of his life, but neither did he wish to be a danger to others and he had agreed that honesty was the only way to ensure this. Agito opened both documents, read them and passed them to Madam Bones.
"My compliments to Professor Snape," the Inquisitor said honestly, "some of these are very hard to trace."
Harry did not bother looking at Snape, he had too many other things to think about, like the pounding headache behind his eyes.
"Exactly what hungers are you referring to?" Fudge demanded, regaining his composure.
That was one question Harry could not bring himself to answer and he looked to Dumbledore for help. It was one thing knowing that you were reliant on certain things; it was another entirely to speak of it in front of so many people.
"Is it really necessary to discus this matter at the current time?" the headmaster asked pleasantly. "The facts have been documented and entered into evidence."
"I believe it important," the Minister said pompously and Harry found himself staring at the floor in embarrassment and anger.
"Minister," Agito said calmly, "I believe it would be proper to move on."
Fudge looked about ready to explode and Dumbledore took the moment of the Minister's impotent fury to take over the floor.
"I put it to this Inquisition that Harry Potter has had the opportunity and incentive to kill on several occasions," the headmaster began as silence reigned over the room, "and yet he only killed those who were trying to kill him. As accounted before this assembly he has shown time after time that although he is changed, he is still human at his most basic level. We do not claim that Harry is in complete control, nor ask that he should be allowed to return to his previous position as yet, but he had been afflicted for only a week and already his abilities have improved. To lock away a young man, who has saved us all, for crimes he has not yet committed, and will never commit, is neither fair nor just. I submit that..."
"But there is crime that cannot be overlooked," Fudge was on his feet and he did not look happy about something, but the Minister appeared determined, "one hunger that Harry Potter has fed which must be answered for; one hunger which cannot be tolerated."
At that moment Harry knew Fudge was playing his last card and he knew that it had to be an ace. Every instinct in his body screamed at him to fly at the wizard and destroy his enemy, and he felt his fingers actually dig in to the surface of the chair as he held on desperately for more than his own life.
"To what are you referring, Cornelius?" Dumbledore asked in a reasonable tone, but as the headmaster touched Harry's shoulder in support, he could feel the tension running through his mentor.
"Bring him in," Fudge said shortly without looking at the door towards the back of the court.
The other two members of the bench appeared as in the dark as Dumbledore and when Harry saw who was led through the second entrance, he almost stopped breathing. There stood Wormtail and nothing could have stopped Harry as he surged to his feet, a snarl on his lips.
"Harry!" it was only Dumbledore's commanding tone that stopped him from tearing the traitor to pieces.
He managed to come to a halt a few feet from Wormtail, fangs bared and claws ready to strike; reason was only a very tiny voice in his brain and it was Dumbledore's will holding him in place not his own. He could feel the headmaster demanding of him control, and only that unwavering resolution held the monster inside at bay.
"We were led to believe that Peter Pettigrew had escaped," Dumbledore said evenly.
"He was found wandering the grounds of Malfoy Manor and brought to the Ministry," Fudge said firmly. "A wizard may kill in self defence, but what he may not do is devour a man's soul."
That shattered Harry's rage as he finally looked at the wizard in front of him. Wormtail looked at the world with cold, empty eyes and suddenly a crystal clear memory jumped into Harry's mind:
He was covered in blood and he was revelling in the kill, but his revenge was not complete; there was one more left to go. The slaughter had been efficient and bare minutes had passed since he had killed the Dark Lord, and now only one remained, and he had Wormtail's scent as he ran up the stairs. As he ran through the house and in to the open air, nothing could have kept him from his prey and he hunted the traitor with glee.
Wormtail was running along the drive heading for the front gate when he finally caught him and the wizard gibbered in terror as Harry loomed over him.
"You'll pay for everything you have done," he said with a deep growl in his voice, "you will know true suffering."
Wormtail had not even had the power to speak as Harry took him by both arms and pulled him closer. There was only one fate good enough for Peter Pettigrew; one revenge, and he let the coldness of the Dementor take over his body. As he leaned forward and opened his mouth, Wormtail was helpless and it took less than a minute as he dragged the wretched wizard's soul from his body. When all that remained was a husk, he pushed the shell away and turned back to the house; his job was done.
Snapping back to the present Harry could do little more than stare at the empty eyes of the man who had betrayed his family and his godfather. The coldness in his bones and the chill of the air around him let him know that the Dementor was in control, but he could not put it away. Looking into the shell standing before him he realised that his revenge meant nothing to anyone but him; Wormtail was as good as dead and all his actions would do was bring him down for a crime he had not remembered committing. In that moment he wanted to take back those few seconds, he wanted Pettigrew to know the torment Sirius had felt and the pain he knew every time he was reminded of his parents.
He was virtually unaware of the rest of the room, all he could see and hear was Wormtail, and he found himself moving towards his victim. Someone seemed to be trying to stop him, but it was irrelevant and he more glided than walked up to Pettigrew. Reaching out he took those empty features in both hands, pushing Wormtail's mouth open with his thumbs on the wizard's lower jaw. Caught in his own power and desire he leant forward, and with his lips only millimetres from Pettigrew's, he pushed instead of pulled and something he had not known he was holding deep inside of him moved up and out of his throat. It hurt as he let the captive soul go and he lurched back the moment it was gone, breathing hard and collapsing to the floor in pain, but it was a strangely liberating experience.
His vision was swimming and his ears were ringing, and yet part of him felt as if a huge weight had been lifted. He heard Pettigrew whimpering in terror and another part of him revelled in it, and he lurched to his feet, the Dementor gone for now, but hot anger replacing the cold creature.
"I told you Pettigrew was alive," he snarled at Fudge, "you said I lied and you tried everything not to bring him in here today because you knew it would show everyone the truth. He betrayed my parents; he framed Sirius Black for his murder; he restored Voldemort to full life. I may have dark creatures inside me, but you, Cornelius Fudge, are the monster. You have hated me since the day I told you Voldemort was back, simply because you were afraid. I saved my cousin from Dementors and you tried to have my wand broken; you put Umbridge in charge of Hogwarts and allowed her to try and ruin any chance the pupils had of learning to defend themselves, and you allowed her to victimise me for lying when I was telling the truth. You took away every adult who could help me because you feared the truth, and so Voldemort had another chance at the Department of Mysteries. You even tried to have me expelled last year when you knew the truth, when you had seen it with your own eyes. You're not fit to be a Minister, you pathetic, frightened, little man."
He all but screamed the last part and only a firm hand on his shoulder stopped him from doing anything further. He didn't care about the court anymore, it didn't matter, and all he wanted to do was go home. Turning he met Remus' eyes and the werewolf nodded at him in understanding and agreement.
"Well done, Harry," Remus whispered quietly and opened his arms.
In need of support and comfort more than he could express, Harry fell into the embrace, unheeding of whatever else was going on. Strong arms surrounded him and for a while all strength flowed out of him, Remus' comforting hold being the only thing keeping him on his feet.
"I request an adjournment," Dumbledore calm voice rose above the chatter in the room.
"Request denied," it was Agito who replied and Harry felt as if the world was falling away beneath him, "case dismissed. Harry Potter is released into the charge of Albus Dumbledore until such time as they both agree he is ready to once more take his place in the Wizarding world."
Without hesitation Madam Bones smashed her stone onto the desk in agreement and suddenly it was all over. What had happened to Fudge's vote, or Pettigrew for that matter was lost on Harry as he found himself being led towards the doors.
It was only as the outer doors opened that he remembered why they had originally come in the side entrance to the chambers. It felt like a thousand flash bulbs went off at once. The chattering of the reporters went eerily silent when they finally saw him for the first time and Harry really couldn't take it. There was a simple choice; let his darker nature have free reign and sort out his metabolism or take the simply human way out. It really wasn't a matter of options at all and, grabbing weakly at Remus, he fainted.
End of Chapter 4
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