Chapter 22 : Freedom from Fear
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WOE BE UNTO THEE WHO FAIL TO READ AUTHOR’S NOTES!
I realise this is a comparably short chapter when held up to most others, but I ask you to bear with me on that. There are some HUGE HUGE things yet to be revealed, and I don’t want to miss or forget anything as I pull it together in the end for you all.
And as much as you are impatient for new updates/chapters, I am much more keen to have them completed and posted. I don’t really wish to keep anything from anyone, but I also refuse to submit crap work. Everything must be tight. This has caused me to break up my most recent work into “bite size” chapters, as it were…LOL. Meaning, I could make you wait for more than a week between chapters, but I choose to parse it out in smaller doses. So sit back, relax, grab a Snickers… fun-sized ;P For you Brits out there, go and get a Nestles Aero bar (mint, of course) or an orange KitKat.
As always, lurve and enjoy, Rae
PS For those of you who wonder what I do besides write fic, I also do Harry Potter filks in my own wizard rock band. I've just launched a MySpace about a month ago now and have some songs up with more in the works... myspace.com/chaosofthephoenixmusic Haha. Yes, wizard rock does exist and it's alive and well--check the friends in my profile. It'll rock your Fawkes. ;D
Snape commenced to do something Harry had never seen or heard him do before. He’d cried aloud, “ALBUS!” to Dumbledore as the mental door had shut on Harry. The Slytherin professor was also staring down at Harry in utter shock and horror.
“You didn’t help me because Dumbledore told you to,” Harry told him loudly, “you helped out because you’re afraid of me!” And he proceeded to peel back Snape’s internal defences with his mind. More astonishing still, this accomplished Occlumens could not stand up to Harry’s relentless onslaught.
Something very dark was at the centre of Snape’s mind…and it was something involving Harry. Vague impressions of the past began to fill the young man’s mind…he was following a hooded figure toward the entrance of a small house…Harry felt a personal familiarity about it…
More sense of urgency was pressing in on the young wizard; Snape’s mind was clawing at him, trying to pull Harry’s projected self away.… For this time, Severus had no Pensieve to hide what was in his mind from the young Potter.
The door of the house Harry had seen was quickly blasted open, only to reveal the wild-eyed form of a courageous twenty-something James Potter. That’s why he’d recognised it! Harry was back on the steps at Godric’s Hollow of fifteen years ago…this must be the night his parents were murdered, and the only person that Snape must’ve been following was—
“You wish to prove your loyalty to me as one of my own,” screeched a chillingly familiar voice. The hooded figure in front of him half-turned, revealing an equally frightful profile. Long and slender alabaster fingers extended a wand toward memory-Snape, and the hooded person casually flicked its head toward James in the doorway. Then two words were uttered so menacingly that it frosted Harry to the core. “Kill him.”
Another voice unexpectedly entered Harry’s consciousness. “Harry, I am aware that you have every right to do what you are doing. This man has been almost nothing but a hindrance to you since your first day at Hogwarts. I am also aware you have no active reason to trust me right now, but please believe me when I say that you have nothing to gain by finishing your current action on Severus. You have only to lose. Back down out of good for yourself, not for him or me. I beg you.”
Harry was poised in the scaling of the Potion master’s response to Voldemort. Had Severus Snape really accepted the wand and killed James Potter? Harry had easily sensed the indecision about the memory of a younger Slytherin, and this was despite the fact that Snape held no reason whatsoever not to do away with his hated rival. The Potions master was many things, but was he a murderer too?
Though everything Harry felt screamed at him to continue, the headmaster’s psychic plea for Harry’s acquiescence truly struck a chord within the young wizard. Dumbledore had actually acknowledged Harry’s beholding right as a man, not as a child. As he withdrew from the professor’s mind, Harry watched as the shaken Slytherin attempted to compose himself and garnered stares from the others around him, as they had been mostly unaware of what Harry, Snape, and Dumbledore were engaged in.
That didn’t stop Snape from retaining his typical internal sneer toward Harry, however. Someone less than half his age may have nearly taken the oily professor down, but Snape would have sooner gnawed off his right leg than admitted fear of anything to anyone.
After shakily informing Harry that “Minerva sends her love”—it turned out that several of Hogwarts staff had to stay behind and “hold the fort”, instead of coming to the graveyard—he largely ignored Harry as best he could as the young man continued to eye him repeatedly.
Ginny and Hermione tried to discreetly question Harry, but he was too torn by what he had seen in Snape’s mind. This was something he hoped didn’t get lost in his transmission back into his body. Harry finally had an inkling of reason as to why Professor Snape both loathed and feared him so much.
Slowly, much of the apprehension ebbed away as they drew closer to the middle of the graveyard. Perfect strangers, magic folk Harry had never met, had filled the small clearing and beyond. He could scarcely take in all the faces, and was struck again by just how much he regretted having to forget all of this.
Harry noticed that some people were starting to point and whisper to each other. It was easy for him to tell they were expressing their fear over seeing Hagrid and Lupin. Irritation at such ignorance started to grate on his nerves.
At last Dumbledore was able to bring everyone to the appointed place in the centre of the graveyard. Once again, Harry was amazed at the amount of people who had gathered here in such a short time. A raised dias had been placed there, so that everyone might better be addressed.
The headmaster had already explained to Harry that the platform and the area around it had been enchanted to capture and amplify vocal sounds.
As Dumbledore walked up the steps of the dias, the conversation in the crowd began to quiet down, but the emotional energy was beginning to spread as the people had caught sight of the small group behind him; Harry was once again hooded and hidden as Donnie and Jamie were.
“I wish to extend a hand of gratitude for all of you gathered here tonight,” began Dumbledore, his voice booming over the heads of the assembly. “I know that it was very short notice but I can assure each of you the haste was necessary. I apologize for not giving further elabouration other than conducting a secondary wandlighting ceremony for our dear Harry Potter at this cemetery. Explanations shall be forthcoming, and I ask you to please bear with me as all is revealed. But first, I have a presentation for all of you.”
That was Harry’s cue. He gulped and nervously followed the headmaster’s earlier path up the steps and onto the platform, still keeping his head down and face hidden. Clutching a fist to his chest, he held his broken wand in place under the Ghost Net, almost positive that he would mess up or trip in front of everyone. He didn’t.
Harry stopped opposite of Dumbledore on the platform and reached into his robe. Face still concealed, Harry thrust his damaged wand into the air for all to see, glasses wire and all. Excited murmurs started to fill the air as he did so, and he sensed the rampant recognition of the holly wand amongst the crowds.
“I assume that most of you must know what this artifact is,” boomed Dumbledore. “I inform you that you are correct—it is indeed Harry Potter’s missing and damaged wand; the very wand Ministry claimed was stolen and sent out photos for in the Daily Prophet.”
People began to call out such things as “where did you find it” and “how come we didn’t know sooner.”
The headmaster continued, “Where the wand was found is not important right now, but the reason you didn’t know sooner was because it was found mere hours ago, or so.”
He turned toward Hagrid, Lupin, and a concealed Donnie who took their cue and mounted the platform. The half-giant gently lowered the still-unconscious, still hidden Jamie onto the dias in between Dumbledore and Harry. Since Lupin had insisted Donnie take the last phial of Liberabitonic, the healer only needed minimal assistance and carefully lowered herself next to Jamie. But something happened as the crowds caught full on sight of Remus and Rubeus. Ripples of fear started to spread through the gathering.
This was pure idiocy, that’s what it was. Had it not been for Hagrid and Lupin, Harry’s depleted body would more than likely not even be around for revival at this intelligence-forsaken ceremony. Yet Harry’s friends were garnering almost nothing but bigoted responses from the consensus. Thankfully though, Harry could also tell a lot of people were just as disgusted as he was with the overall errant attitude.
One officious man Harry didn’t even recognise stood out and shouted, “These men—“ and he pointed to Lupin and Hagrid, who had left the dias, “—are known beasts, and a danger to wizard kind. Not even you have the authority to ignore that, Professor Dumbledore. And who are these people with the cloaks over their faces? What do you mean by bringing them here? What gives you the right? Are you insane?” the man demanded.
Several equally angry people commenced to shouting similar things at the headmaster. As resultant prejudice infected various members of the crowd, something inside of Harry snapped.
“You want to know who gave him the authority?” he yelled to the man as loudly as he could. The amplifier spell took his voice and threw it outward, making it even louder. Because of this, several of the crowd members quieted, the annoying man spoke up again and called out, “Yes, I do. We all do,” and many others began nodding up at him.
Harry reached up his free hand to his hood, and pulled it back for everybody to see his ghostly yet angry face.
“I did,” he answered the man, even more passionately.
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