The adults came back after half an hour of talking, and Mrs. Weasley informed her children, along with Hermione and Harry, that they were done cleaning for the day. Harry raised his eyebrows but said no more, he glanced over at the clock on the mantelpiece, which told him it was only eleven in the morning. Remus went over to the fireplace to ask Moody, Tonks, and Kingsley to come over, the kids left the room, knowing they were going to be shooed out at some point anyway. Quietly ascending the stairs, Harry and Ron walked side by side, just in case Harry felt too weak and needed any help going up. They all walked into a sitting room on the second floor, Fred and George usually used it to test some of their joke products, and sat down in the chairs that were scattered around the room.
"What do you think they were talking about?" Fred asked, his body draped across a chair on one side of the room.
"The locket." Ron replied bluntly.
"We know that, you idiot. What I meant was what exactly is that locket? We all know it's has some kind of dark magic, maybe they were trying to figure out what kind of dark magic it is?" George told him, his tone serious.
"Maybe, that would explain why they didn't want us listening in. I know this is something big, if it wasn’t then it wouldn't worry Dumbledore so much. They could have thrown it away or destroyed it with their wands otherwise. I don't think it's that simple." Hermione agreed, adding her own thoughts.
"Hermione's right." Ginny said from her chair, "I don't think it's gonna be that simple, but like Ron was saying before, Dumbledore will find a way, he always does. I'm sure this thing will blow over in a few days, and the Order will have found a way to get rid of it."
Harry looked around at everyone, and saw they were nodding at Ginny's words. He didn't think it would be as easy as Ginny made it sound but found himself nodding along regardless, not wanting to draw attention to himself as he thought over it.
Something about that locket gave him the chills, it made him feel uneasy and, though he didn’t want to admit it, a bit scared. There was something about that locket that felt familiar to Harry but he just couldn't place it...
Moody came through the fireplace first, wanting to take a quick look at the locket before the other two Aurors showed up, and asked a few questions about it. Minutes later Tonks and Kingsley stumbled out, grinning madly as they told everyone a warrant was out for Rita Skeeter's arrest. Sirius and Remus shared an amused look, and Sirius wrapped an arm around his cousin’s shoulder and pretended to cry in the crook of her neck, joking about how proud he was of her.
"Oh stop being so dramatic, Sirius." She said, pushing Sirius off her shoulder, with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
Sirius smirked at her before he walked over to Remus and sat down next to him in the couch. Everyone else seated themselves around the room and looked over towards Dumbledore, who had conjured a chair and placed it between the two sofas, and sat down.
"Dumbledore," Kingsley started, "I have a message to give you from Mi-"
"Can't it wait, laddie? I think what Dumbledore is about to tell you is more important." Moody interrupted, his fake eye spinning in every direction.
Kingsley nodded, trying to keep his face straight and hide his annoyance at the old Auror. Tonks sent Moody a quick glare, but he had turned his attention to Dumbledore before he could notice. Dumbledore briefly explained to them about the Horcruxes, informing them how dark and dangerous they were. At the end of his explanation he asked them if they knew any means of destroying anything beyond magical repair, but the Aurors couldn't think of anything. They thought over everything they had learned in all their years as Aurors but nothing sprung to mind.
"I would also like for everyone to look for anyone who might have been in the possession of any of the Founders of Hogwart’s possessions when they were alive." Dumbledore told everyone.
Confused looks ran though the room, and Sirius looked at Dumbledore like he thought he was acting even crazier than usual.
"I think that Voldemort would have made Horcruxes out of any Founder's possessions. Take the locket for example, this used to belong to Salazar Slytherin himself. I believe he got something belonging to everyone but Gryffindor, as I have the Sorting Hat and Sword that belonged to Godric Gryffindor." Dumbledore told them, answering the questions running through their heads.
"I know Helga Hufflepuff had some kind of cup, I remember reading about it in a book when I was researching an essay when I was at Hogwarts." Tonks said, her hair turning blond as she sunk deep into thought.
"I remember a Ravenclaw friend of mine telling me about a lost diadem a couple of years ago, but like I said, it's lost,” Kingsley added. “Do you think You-Know-Who might have found it?"
"If he was desperate enough, I believe he would have." Dumbledore replied to him, a hand on his chin as he thought.
"That would make four: Tom Riddle’s diary from Harry’s second year, Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff's cup, and Ravenclaw's diadem. You believe he would have made seven, Albus?" Moody said.
"Yes, I'm trying to think of what else he could have made into a Horcrux..." Dumbledore trailed off into thought.
"Wasn't there a message you needed to give to Albus, Kingsley?" Arthur said, the thought suddenly popping into his head.
"Yes, thank you Arthur," Kingsley said, and turned his attention to Dumbledore. "Minister Fudge requested a meeting with you, to talk about Hogwarts and the kidnapping."
Dumbledore sighed and stroked his beard, looking more like the old man he really was. He checked the gold watch on his wrist, and stood up from his chair.
"I have some time left before I need to help Hagrid with the animals he bought for the new school year. If any of you need me please don't hesitate to call, I'll be in my office at Hogwarts." Dumbledore told them, heading towards the fire.
"Albus," Sirius started, standing up from his spot, "Have the meeting with Fudge here. I'll stay upstairs with the kids, keep them busy for a while."
"I have invaded your home enough, Sirius." Dumbledore said with a small smile, "I've over-stayed my welcome."
"Nonsense," Sirius said with a wave of his hand, "I insist. Besides, wouldn't it be easier with Harry there? If Fudge doubts anything you say about Voldemort's return, we bring Harry down and show Fudge all of his injuries. That's enough evidence, I would think." He explained.
Dumbledore thought it over for a moment, looking at Sirius over his half-moon spectacles.
"If you insist," He said with a sigh, "I'll call Fudge immediately. You may want to head up now then, Sirius. He might come over as soon I tell him he may. Plus, the children will need a explanation as to why they aren't allowed downstairs at the moment."
Sirius nodded, and with a grin on his face, headed towards the stairs. Molly got up from the sofa and grabbed the pot of tea from the coffee table, and went to the kitchen to make a new batch. Dumbledore headed over to the fireplace and threw Floo powder in.
"Minister for Magic's Office!" He said, and stuck his head in the fire.
Moody said a quick goodbye to the room in general and set off toward the front door to leave, knowing he could not be in the same room as that 'moron of a minister'. Arthur, Remus, Kingsley and Tonks were quietly talking about any new Death Eater sightings to fill the silence. After a few minutes Dumbledore pulled his head out of the fire and walked over to his.
"What did he say?" Remus asked as Molly walked back in, a steaming pot of tea clutched in her hands.
"He'll be here in a few moments." Dumbledore replied, leaning back in his chair.
"Should I be here? Or should I join Sirius and the kids upstairs?" Remus asked worriedly.
"Please, feel free to stay. You might be able to help me out when he asks about Harry's kidnapping." Dumbledore said him with a sad smile.
Remus nodded, grabbed himself a chipped mug, and poured some tea into it. Tonks put a comforting hand on his shoulder, and he looked at her with a smile on his face, her hair now a dull orange with dark blue eyes. He quickly looked away as he felt his cheeks flush and took a sip out of his mug for something to do. The room filled with silence, waiting for the moment they would have to speak of the horrors Harry barely escaped a few days ago. Suddenly the fire roared and turned green then Cornelius Fudge stumbled out, coughing from the soot. Fixing his bowler hat and wiping his robes off, Fudge’s eyes searched the room for a moment, taking in everyone who was there.
"Dumbledore," He started, with a slight nod of his head, "I trust Auror Kingsley has informed you of what we need to talk about?" He asked.
"He has," Dumbledore assured him with a small smile, "Where do you want me to start? " Dumbledore questioned curiously.
Fudge walked over to Dumbledore and conjured his own chair, his eyes flickering to each person in the room before he sat down, and he kept his eyes on Dumbledore.
"First off, most importantly, the capture and rescue of Harry Potter." Fudge replied, almost hesitantly.
"Yes," Dumbledore said with a nod, "It is quite a story. Although I feel I would be wasting my breath. As you do not believe the person who captured him is alive, I really see no reason to bother you with the story."
Fudge squirmed uncomfortably in his chair, all eyes on him.
"Now Dumbledore, you know I only believe such because I have no evidence to support it, and seeing as such, I wouldn't scare the Wizarding World about what could be nothing." Fudge explained, wiping his sweaty hands on his trousers.
"What would you say if I told you I do have evidence. We both know of a spell only Voldemort himself uses on his victims, seeing as he created the spell. No Death Eater has ever used the spell, in respect for their master. Harry has wounds healing on his back from the Retrorsum Vellit* Curse, which can only heal the Muggle way as of now." Dumbledore told him, watching Fudge carefully.
Fudges eyes widened a bit, and he took an audible gulp. He thought over Dumbledore’s words, searching for anything in his words to suggest he was being lied to, but found nothing. Taking a deep breath, he wiped the sweat off his brow and looked back over at Dumbledore.
"And can you produce such evidence?" He asked, already knowing the answer.
"Indeed." Dumbledore replied, and looked over at Remus. "Will you bring Harry downstairs please?" Dumbledore asked.
Remus nodded and stood up quickly from his seat, setting his mug on the table in front of him before making his way out of the room, and hurried up the stairs. The room once again waited in silence, and Mrs. Weasley stood up and poured mugs of tea, using her wand to send them out to everyone.
"Thank you, my dear." Fudge said, looking over at her with a kind smile on his face, and taking a small sip out of his cup.
A minute later they could hear people descending the stairs, talking in hushed voices. The creak on the floorboards announced they were in the hallway, and within seconds Remus walked into the room, his arms wrapped around Harry's shoulders. Harry gave a small smile, and eyed Fudge worriedly, already knowing from Sirius what he was going to be asked.
"It's good to see you, Harry." Fudge said after a moment. Harry sat next to Remus on the sofa.
"It's nice to see you again too, Minister." Harry replied hesitantly.
Dumbledore turned his body towards Harry, studying him curiously for a moment before he began.
"I believe Remus filled you in on everything?" He asked.
Harry nodded, tearing his eyes away from Fudge to look at Dumbledore, "Yes, Sir."
"Excellent. Now, Minister Fudge has said that he needs actual proof that Lord Voldemort has returned, and you have that proof healing on your body. Will you please lift your shirt and show Minister Fudge the wounds that were inflicted upon your back?" Dumbledore said.
With the help of Remus, Harry stood up and walked over to stand right in front of Fudge, and turned around. Harry gripped one of Remus' arms as he used his other arm to pull his shirt up, all the way up to the bandages covering his back, blood staining through them. Remus grabbed his wand out of his pocket and waved it around Harry's back, making the bandages disappear. Harry sucked in a deep breath as the air hit his wounds, and kept his body tense. Fudge looked at his back with wide eyes, getting off his chair and walking up to Harry to get a closer look, and studied the wounds closely.
The rest of the adults watched Fudge, wondering what he was thinking. They all worried that Fudge wouldn't believe what he was seeing, and the Wizarding World would continue to be unaware of the return of Lord Voldemort.
Not only did Fudge see the three long cuts along Harry's back, he saw how weak and white Harry looked, he could see the little cuts that covered his hand and parts of his body, his tired eyes and his sudden weight loss. It all finally clicked in Fudge’s mind, he knew no one in this room would lie about who did this, they wanted justice for it. Remus could see the understanding in his eyes, and with a smile he led Harry over to the couch, watching as Tonks summoned bandages and placed them carefully around Harry's back.
"It-It's true." Fudge stuttered, stumbling back into his chair, his mouth open in what seemed like shock.
Dumbledore let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding, and watched as everyone else gave a small sigh, Harry looked a bit annoyed.
"Yes," Dumbledore said, "And now you know Voldemort is back..." He trailed off.
"I need to inform the Aurors and Daily Prophet right away." Fudge muttered, his brain rushing through everything he now needed to do.
"We can help you with that." Kingsley said, standing up from his seat, and after finishing putting the bandages on Harry's back, Tonks did as well.
Fudge nodded numbly, holding onto the arm of the chair as he stood up, his face pale and worried. Kingsley and Tonks made their way to the fireplace, waiting by it as Fudge walked over to Dumbledore, who was getting out of the chair he had conjured.
"I'm sorry, Albus," Fudge started sincerely, guilt in his voice, "I should have believed you when you told me after the Third Task, but-"
"But you didn't want to believe it, you didn't want to deal with everything that Voldemort's return would bring you." Dumbledore cut in, his voice calm.
Fudge flinched as though Dumbledore had smacked him, knowing his words were true.
"There is still time," Dumbledore continued, "to inform everyone about his return, before too much damage is done. Do what you need to do, Cornelius, and if you need me I'll be by your side."
"Thank you, Albus. I'll contact you after I inform the Ministry of You-Know-Who's return." Fudge said with a weak smile.
Dumbledore nodded, and he and Fudge shook hands. After a moment Fudge cleared his throat and started to walk over to the fireplace as Kingsley grabbed some Floo powder from the mantle. Fudge turned around and looked at everyone in the room, guilty eyes stopping on Harry, as he spoke.
"Thank you all for your time, and I'm terribly sorry for my grave mistake."
And with that he, Kingsley and Tonks walked into the fireplace, all shouting the same destination, Fudge completely forgetting about wanting to ask Dumbledore if he had found a new Professor for DADA at Hogwarts. The room sat in stunned silence for a moment, as if hardly believing what just happened. Remus finally cracked a smile, and carefully put an arm around Harry's shoulders, ruffling his hair slightly.
"You did it, pup! You finally got Fudge to believe us!" He whispered excitedly.
Harry felt his lips curve into a smile, finding Remus' excitement amusing. Harry felt relieved, glad that Fudge had at last seen the truth and that he wouldn't be made out to be a liar to the entire Wizarding World anymore. Dumbledore vanished the chair Fudge had conjured with a flick of his wand, beaming over at Harry and Remus. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley got off their couch, walking over towards the couch Harry and Remus sat on, and Mrs. Weasley pulled Harry into a warm hug, careful not to touch his wounds while her husband sat down on Remus' free side. Harry put his arms around her, closing his eyes as he took in the comfort she was giving him, as if telling him everything was going to be alright. They stayed like that for a moment, and then at the same time they started to pull away. Before Mrs. Weasley fully pulled away from him, she turned her head and whispered in his ear.
"You mother and father would be very proud of how strong you are."
And then she let go of him, beaming at him with tearful eyes as she sat down on his other side. Harry gave a choked smile, a warm feeling spreading through his chest at her words.
"Would you like to inform your friends and godfather about what just happened?" Dumbledore asked Harry, his eyes twinkling merrily down at Harry.
"Yes, sir." Harry said, quickly standing up from the couch.
"Do you need me to help you?" Remus asked, starting to sit up.
"No thanks, I think I got it." Harry muttered with a smile.
Remus sighed and sat back down, watching Harry as he hurried as fast as he could over to the stairs, clutching the railing as he climbed up. By the time Harry made it up the stairs to the second floor, his heart was beating fast and he struggled to catch his breath, but he hurried into the room he knew Sirius was waiting in with the rest of the Weasley's and Hermione. Harry opened the door slowly, peeking in before he walked through the door. Hermione and Ginny were sitting on a sofa together, looking at a magazine Ginny was holding in her hands. Sirius, Fred, George, and Ron were all sitting in a circle on the floor, reading a piece of parchment Fred and George had written out their ideas on for their joke shop, all of them snickering over something written there. All heads turned to him the moment the door shut and Harry saw Fred trying to hide the piece of parchment.
"Bloody hell, Harry! You scared me, I thought you were mum." Fred exclaimed, setting the parchment back in front of him.
"What happened?" Sirius asked eagerly, getting up off the floor.
Harry stared at him for a moment, before he broke out into a smile.
"Fudge believes us." Harry replied, watching as everyone beamed at his words.
A/N: Finally another chapter! Sorry for the wait, but I was vacation for the past few days, and couldn't find the time to contact my wonderful Beta. The next chapter might take a little while to get up, I haven't found the time to continue with it, but I hope I can get it up soon! Thank you for continuing to read the story, you don't know how much it means to me!
*Retrorsum Vellit- Latin for Back Tearing