Chapter 9 : My Dear Readers
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Everyone was sitting around the table when there was a knock on the door. Arthur got up to answer it. Ron couldn’t hear him speaking to the person on the other side, but he finally opened the door to let Professor McGonagall in. Ron exchanged a look with Hermione.
“Evening,” Professor McGonagall said, looking around the table at everyone present. She noticed Tamsin and gave Arthur a questioning look.
“I don’t believe you’ve met Tamsin Weasley,” Arthur introduced her. “She’s married to Charlie.”
Professor McGonagall gave a short smile. “Welcome, then, Tamsin.”
“Thank you,” Tamsin replied, “I am sorry it isn’t under more pleasant circumstances.”
“What brings you here?” Bill asked.
Professor McGonagall pressed her lips together. “There’s quite a bit that we need to speak about.”
“Is it about Harry and Ginny’s funerals?” Hermione asked in a strangely flat voice.
Professor McGonagall glanced at her with a rueful look. “Indeed,” she inhaled sharply, trying desperately to keep control. She had spent a good deal of time guarding Harry while he was growing up at the Dursleys, which only Professor Dumbledore had known about. She hadn’t agreed with Professor Dumbledore about sending Harry to live there, something that she had continued to tell Professor Dumbledore until his death. “There are a few decisions that need to be made.”
“About what?” Ron asked, giving a puzzled look.
“As you may be aware, the Muggles buried his parents in one of their cemeteries,” Professor McGonagall explained. “I’ve spoken with the caretaker at the Muggle cemetery. He wasn’t aware that James and Lily had had a child, but he’s amenable to burying Mr. Potter with his parents.”
“You can’t bury him in a Muggle cemetery!” Fred protested.
“But he’d be with his parents,” Professor McGonagall tried pointing out again. “I would suspect that of anyone in the wizarding world, that your family would know exactly what that would mean to him.”
“But he’s dealt with that,” Ron added his protest.
“I don’t think that he should be buried there either,” Hermione added. “And not just because he’s dealt with it. I don’t think he’s been to their graves.”
Everyone was surprised. “He didn’t get to see his parents’ graves?” Molly looked ready to cry again. She looked at Arthur. “Why didn’t we think about taking him there?”
Arthur shook his head. “We didn’t think about it, much to our regrets now.”
“I suspect that when he first came to Hogwarts, he had a need to see his parents, but with everything that has been happening, I suspect that it’s been pushed to the back of his mind.” Professor McGonagall finally gave a ghost of a smile. “Though I will admit that I had a feeling that burying him with his parents wouldn’t do, but I wanted to make sure.”
“What are you talking about?” Charlie asked.
Professor McGonagall gave him a stern look. “I’ve spoken with the Portraits since there hasn’t been quite a precedent like this before.”
“What precedent?” George frowned.
“Quite frankly, Mr. Potter’s many accomplishments. Far too many of them were in defense of the school.” Professor McGonagall’s lips pressed slightly thinner.
“What accomplishments?” Bill asked. He had watched Harry handle the Tri-Wizard Competition, and he knew what had happened in Harry’s fifth and sixth years because he had moved back to the area instead of working in Egypt.
Professor McGonagall remained silent.
Hermione spoke first. “He has quite a list of accomplishments.” Ron nodded his agreement.
“Like what?” Charlie asked. He only knew of a few things, one being the First Tri-Wizard Competition Task where Harry had to outmaneuver a Hungarian Horntail.
Ron exchanged a look with Hermione. “Well, he’s battled a fully-grown Mountain Troll with me. He became the youngest Seeker in a century. He kept Professor Quirrell and You-Know-Who from getting the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Ron looked up as he recounted their first year and missed the looks of astonishment, ticking his list on his fingers. “Though we only got five points for defeating the Troll.”
Professor McGonagall shook her head. “Both you and Mr. Potter were awarded five points for defeating the Troll. Miss Granger lost five points because she lied.”
Hermione looked at Professor McGonagall in shock. “You knew?”
“I’m a professor,” Professor McGonagall replied crisply. “I can tell when students prevaricate.”
Hermione blushed while she continued listing Harry’s achievements. “Ron and Harry talked with an Acromantula and his family.” She didn’t finish as everyone was too astonished at this fact.
“You talked with an Acromantula?” Fred stared at Ron in complete surprise.
Ron shuddered. “I hate spiders,” he shuddered again, “and I most definitely hate horribly huge spiders that want to actually eat you.” He couldn’t stop shuddering.
Hermione decided to take his mind off the spiders. “Let’s see. Harry got us invited to a Death Day party which is really fascinating. Hardly anyone alive is allowed to attend.”
“More like extremely boring,” Ron muttered to everyone’s amusement.
Hermione ignored him. “He and Ron found the Slytherin common room and got inside. And of course, he killed a Basilisk, pulled the fang out of his arm and stabbed the diary that was trying to kill Ginny.”
Everyone flinched. They only remembered that day too well.
“Wait. Did you just say that he had a Basilisk fang in his arm?” Bill exchanged a look with Fleur.
Hermione and Ron nodded. “Fawkes healed him before he died.”
“Our third year, he managed to prove Sirius was innocent and that Peter Pettigrew, or Wormtail or Scabbers, was the one that betrayed his parents to You-Know-Who and was the one to set Sirius up to take the fall. He also saved Buckbeak with Hermione.” Ron smirked at their expressions.
“Don’t forget that he also learned the Patronus Charm that year because of the Dementors.” Hermione paused at a thought. “Why did the Dementors focus on him?”
Professor McGonagall shook her head. “I couldn’t even begin to guess. I will ask Professor Dumbledore his thoughts on that.”
“What did the Portraits say?” Molly asked, changing the subject. Harry’s lists of accomplishments were too nerve-wracking.
“They agree that Mr. Potter may be buried at Hogwarts,” Professor McGonagall declared. “They cited Professor Dumbledore’s defense of the school as setting the precedent.”
“How?” Ron asked as Hermione jabbed him with her elbow.
Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows. “Professor Dumbledore gave his all to protect the school as well as the wizarding world. He died while still attempting to protect the school. Mr. Potter has shown the same inclination.”
“That leaves Ginny,” Fred pointed out. “What about her?”
“I think that Harry and Ginny ought to be buried together,” Hermione stated firmly. “Everyone knows how they loved each other. Since they couldn’t be together in life, let them be together in death.”
“You’re certain they were meant to be together?” Charlie asked. He didn’t get to spend as much time with Ron and Ginny as he’d like since he moved to Romania.
“Very,” Hermione nodded echoed by Ron and the twins. Even Arthur and Molly were nodding. Bill smiled sadly. Hermione continued. “I expect that their romance will be talked about the same way his parents are.”
“Why would their romance be talked about?” Fred asked.
“What did they do?” George asked at the same time.
Ron exchanged an amused glance with Hermione. “Harry was sitting detention, yet again,” Ron explained.
“For a good reason,” Hermione snapped.
Ron held up his hands. “I was just saying. Anyways, we had to play the last Quidditch match without our star Seeker and Captain. Ginny played Seeker that game and Dean filled in Chaser. We beat them by about 300 points and won the Quidditch Cup! We went back to the common room to continue the celebration.”
“Harry finished his detention and came to the common room, looking dejected,” Hermione continued. “He told me later that he felt horrible about messing up so badly and he didn’t know how he would be treated when he came into the common room. He and Ginny made eye contact across the room and, well, it was a very romantic kiss. And they were very oblivious to the fact that the entire common room was watching them.”
When the others looked at Ron for confirmation, he nodded. “I was starting to wonder if I should interrupt them. But Dean did that instead.”
“What did he do?” Fred asked.
“His glass shattered in his hand,” Hermione smiled.
Tamsin smiled. “If that is the case, then I think it would be right they are buried together as they cared so deeply about the other.”
Professor McGonagall nodded slowly. “I believe that can be arranged. Miss Weasley has also been instrumental in Hogwart’s defense.”
“Why not bury them next to Professor Dumbledore?” Ron asked, getting everyone’s attention. “I mean, Harry told us that at Professor Dumbledore’s funeral, he had declared to Minister Scrimgeour that he was Dumbledore’s man when the Minister asked him again to be the Ministry’s poster boy.”
Everyone agreed. They decided to hold the funeral the next day, in the afternoon. Professor McGonagall left soon after with the twins who stated they would help in whatever way they could.
They were surprised when there was another knock on the door. Mr. Weasley answered it and stepped back in surprise. Ron and Hermione were shocked when Minister Scrimgeour entered the living room. Everyone gathered to hear what Minister Scrimgeour had to say.
“I came to offer my condolences,” Minister Scrimgeour started. “I learned early this morning about Mr. Potter’s unfortunate demise.”
“Unfortunate demise?” Hermione couldn’t help but mouth back. She froze when he turned his attention to her.
“On behalf of the Ministry, I would like to offer my apologies to Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley,” Minister Scrimgeour held their attention for a long moment. Hermione blushed as Ron looked like he didn’t know quite what he thought about the apology.
Minister Scrimgeour turned his gaze to Mrs. Weasley. “I realized this morning that it was Mr. Potter’s birthday and decided it would be best to reconcile with Mr. Potter. I sent a note of birthday wishes...” He paused when a couple people suspiciously coughed.
“Please ignore my sons,” Mrs. Weasley gave them a look that promised dire consequences if they continued. “You were saying?”
Minister Scrimgeour had trouble hiding a smile at how quickly her sons quit. “We could use you at some of our meetings.” He smiled slightly. “Perhaps then, they wouldn’t argue so much about details. But as I was saying, I sent a note of birthday wishes, and yes, I thought about including a note expressing a wish to meet with him again but did not.”
“But you still wanted to convince him to join the Ministry?” Hermione asked, politely.
Minister Scrimgeour turned to her. “At a future point, yes.”
“Even after everything the Ministry put him through?” Hermione continued.
Minister Scrimgeour nodded and held up his hand when Mrs. Weasley began frowning. “It’s alright, Mrs. Weasley, I expect I ought to explain a little bit.” He turned back to Hermione. “Miss Granger, with all due respect, I inherited a mess from Mr. Fudge who had, for lack of a better word, mishandled the events leading up to You-Know-Who’s rise back to power. Add to that mess the additional mishandling of events from the time Mr. Potter reported You-Know-Who was back to several months later when Mr. Fudge and several Aurors saw You-Know-Who with their own eyes and could no longer deny what they had been told.”
Hermione appeared to be listening and memorizing his every word.
“A mess,” Ron muttered under his breath.
Minister Scrimgeour smiled, though it looked slightly sickly. “Indeed, a mess, a horribly nasty mess. Because of that mess, the Ministry was losing face. I needed someone to bring support back to the Ministry.”
“In short, you wanted Harry to lead people to think he was fine with the way you handled business,” Hermione narrowed her eyes.
“Yes,” Minister Scrimgeour agreed. “It’s the way politics is played, Miss Granger.” He glanced at Ron who looked at him with disbelief. “And it’s very much like strategy in chess, Mr. Weasley, which I have heard you excel at.”
Ron blushed furiously at the unexpected praise.
“I think you’ve explained enough, Minister,” Mrs. Weasley gave Hermione and Ron a look that said they would be hearing more from her. “Thank you for explaining your position to them.”
“Thank you, Minister,” Hermione parroted.
“Thank you,” Ron muttered then repeated louder with a sharp glance from his mother.
Minister Scrimgeour frowned. “I don’t see Miss Weasley. I would like to offer her my condolences, given they were dating each other.”
Mrs. Weasley leaned against her husband. Mr. Weasley answered him. “Ginny was killed yesterday also. I’m sure she would have accepted your condolences.”
“Here I am talking politics and you are grieving your daughter’s death as well as Mr. Potter’s death. Please, accept my condolences on Miss Weasley’s death. Glowing reports have crossed my desk concerning her abilities. A great loss, indeed,” and before he could say another wrong thing, he quickly took his leave.
Bill’s lips twitched as he kept his face straight. He shut the door behind the Minister and allowed himself to lose his battle with laughter. “I’m sorry, Mum, Dad, but it was the look on his face.”
“It was nice that he stopped by to express his condolences,” Mrs. Weasley reminded everyone. “Good manners are never too late to learn. And Ron, Hermione? Know that the Minister didn’t have to explain even a little bit about his position. Learn from what he explained.”
Minister Scrimgeour sat at his desk, looking exhausted. He felt exhausted. He had a far larger mess than the one Mr. Fudge had left him when he first took office. Gawain Robards sat in a chair on the other side of his desk. “You are certain?”
“As certain as we can ever be when magic has been used.” Gawain sounded as tired as Minister Scrimgeour looked. “I believe we managed to track down all the Muggles who witnessed the atrocity, even those who had been committed for medical observation.”
Minister Scrimgeour shook his head, “And?”
“Posing as a doctor, we had them tell their story and Obliviated them, giving them a far better story for their real doctor,” Gawain looked at his notes. “The last one ought to be released fairly soon. Not related to the incident.”
“Good,” Minister Scrimgeour sat back in his chair. “Has there been any sign of Mr. Potter?”
Gawain shook his head. “He doesn’t have the Trace on him any longer, so is able to use magic as he likes.”
“So how do we know for sure?” Minister Scrimgeour asked. “I wrote out birthday greetings and sent it by owl. The Weasleys hadn’t received an owl, which means that Mr. Potter is not with them.”
“But where did the note go?” Gawain wondered aloud. “If Mr. Potter was dead, the owl should have come back with the note.”
“Precisely,” Minister Scrimgeour gave a tired sigh. “But there is no owl and no returned note.”
“What about Miss Weasley?” Gawain asked.
Minister Scrimgeour pinched his nose. “I admit I don’t know how she died, but she apparently died at some point after Mr. Potter yesterday.”
Hermione wished she wasn’t the one to read aloud what the Daily Prophet said the next day. Even though she didn’t like them, just knowing that so many people did was the only reason she kept reading it. She wanted, needed, to know what everyone was thinking and this was the simplest way. She had gasped, catching everyone’s attention, when she had seen the front page. The huge letters screamed at her. She wanted to throw the vile rag in the fire, but she found herself reading the entire front page for everyone.
HARRY POTTER – MISSING, PRESUMED DEAD
Written by Rita Skeeter
It has come to my attention that The-Boy-Who-Lived may not have been so lucky this time. It has been said, my dear readers, that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his followers brutally attacked Privet Drive, capturing Mr. Potter and killing him in front of his relatives and his friends Mr. Ronald Weasley and Miss Hermione Granger.
I will admit to a certain curiosity, my dear readers, as to why his supposed friends never lifted a wand to help their famous friend. Could it be that they were too interested in each other to pay Mr. Potter any mind? Or were they jealous of the attention that Mr. Potter has gained over the years for his various escapades?
Could it be they are involved in covering up Mr. Potter’s death? After all, they were the last wizard and witch to see Mr. Potter alive, but left him behind in their cowardly flight away from Privet Drive.
But my dear readers, that would also beg the question that if Mr. Potter was killed as his errant friends claim, then where is he? When the Magical Reversal squads appeared to settle things down, they were unable to find Mr. Potter who should have been where he had been left by those who cared for him.
And that is not all! It appears that one Ginevra Weasley is also missing. It seems that she ran away after hearing the dreadful news from her brother and friend. She was apparently found in the surrounding countryside by one of her older brothers, Mr. Fred Weasley or Mr. George Weasley. Quite interesting, do you not think? That one of the most notorious tricksters of our age would find her first? For more information on their known scandalous pranks, turn to page four.
It seems more likely to me that Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley have concocted an ingenious plan. I propose that instead of meeting their dreadful ends as some people would have you believe, that Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley have run off together. According to several witnesses, Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley discovered each other after winning the Quidditch Cup at Hogwarts only to break up after Professor Dumbledore’s funeral. Very interesting, indeed.
I have also discovered from numerous sources that Mr. Bill Weasley will still be marrying Miss Fleur Delacour just days after they bury two of their own. I ask you, why would they continue with their wedding if Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley had truly died? Which reinforces my point that Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley have been hidden away.
But as we are to believe the story of their deaths, there will be a funeral held for both Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley on the second of August at two o’clock at Hogwarts near the late Professor Dumbledore’s tomb.
Hermione gnashed her teeth again. “That vile woman! I thought she had learned her lesson by now not to spout garbage like this!”
Ron took the paper from her. “Harry wouldn’t run away like that. And neither would Ginny.”
“No, they wouldn’t,” Arthur sat with his hands covering his face. “Of course, that will be a little more difficult to prove given their deaths.”
“And people will now believe that they’ve run off together,” Bill pointed out. “Especially considering that we don’t have Harry.”
“But what about Ginny?” Charlie shook his head. “We were able to find her.”
Arthur waved his hand. “It can be said that it’s not really her. That it’s a transfigured stick or the like. None of us were actually there when she died.”
Hermione gave Ron a look, but turned her attention back to the article. “I don’t understand. Why is she being hateful of Harry again?”
“Simple. Sensational news like that sells more papers,” Bill sank in his chair. He cleared his throat. “Fleur and I, we have been talking about putting off the wedding for a month or two.”
“No,” Molly shook her head. “Neither Harry nor Ginny would have wanted you to do that.”
“But zis Skeeter woman, she ees correct,” Fleur protested. “We should not marry days after such...”
Molly shook her head again. “No. If you want, we can tone down the wedding.”
Bill exchanged a glance with Fleur. “That would be best.” Fleur nodded her agreement.
Minister Scrimgeour read the article with growing alarm. He didn’t remember seeing Rita Skeeter in his office when he and Gawain had spoken about the missing birthday wishes note or the fact that Miss Weasley had died on the same day. And while she hadn’t referenced their conversation, the conclusions that she had drawn from it were extremely damaging. How had she heard their conversation?
The people of the village gave the blonde-haired young man very distrustful looks. He looked like a vagrant with long, stringy hair and clothes that had definitely seen better days. While they might have offered him help, many changed their minds, hurrying away when they heard him talking gibberish. The braver of the villagers watched as he paused by a dust bin where a newspaper lay crumpled on the ground, either having been blown out of the dust bin by the wind or else dropped there on purpose. He picked it up, and heedless of those watching, began to read it, muttering to himself. The closer villagers would tell their neighbors much later they had to have been seeing things as pictures don’t move.
Draco ignored the Muggles around him. His entire focus was on the article that Skeeter woman had written for the Daily Prophet. The great Harry Potter dead? Saint Potter? How had this come about? He frowned at her implication that Harry wasn’t really dead but had chosen to run away with Ginny. He sneered at the thought. He knew they had been dating at the end of the year. It wasn’t that difficult to figure that particular tidbit out. Not with the way they were acting. But he had trouble believing that Potter would just run away. As much as he detested Potter, he knew Potter wouldn’t just stop until whatever he was doing was finished.
A small thought wriggled in Draco’s mind. Potter was fighting against the Dark Lord. He remembered snippets of conversations he had overheard while on breaks. The type of information Professor Dumbledore would have found useful. He shut away those feelings. Professor Dumbledore was dead, by his machinations if not his wand. No one in his Order of the Phoenix would pay attention to him longer than it would take to deliver him to the Ministry.
That small thought refused to be fully shut away. With a long-suffering sigh, Draco decided there might be one or two people who might listen to him first. But before he gave up his precious information, he should first see if they would be willing to listen. And to do that, well, it looked like he’d have to attend Saint Potter’s funeral.
A/N: As always, I hope you have enjoyed this next chapter. Please let me know what you thought about this chapter, especially if you have constructive criticism! I am always looking for ways to improve my writing! Thank you very much!
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