Chapter 8 : Fudge
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Harry and Hermione were still discussing how they should break the news of the living room redecorations to Aunt Petunia when Moody apparated in front of them with a loud crack!
“Ah, there you are. He’s inside,” he said, nodding towards the solid stone wall that now neatly blocked the door frame. “I’ll hold him inside until you are ready for him to leave. Just come back outside to me here and I’ll do the rest.”
“You’re not coming in with us?”
“No, I suspect that you’ll get more out of Fudge alone. He seems unusually nervous to me.”
“Well, perhaps he was worried that Voldemort was trying to kidnap him,” suggested Hermione.
“Maybe,” agreed Mad-Eye, scratching the stubble on his chin. “Mind you, when I said I was taking him to see you, he seemed to get even more twitchy. Anyway, I’ve taken his wand for safety’s sake and I’ve run a couple of dark-detectors over him. He should be safe, but be on your guard.”
They nodded, first to Moody and then to each other before disapparating.
Fudge was standing with his back to them, apparently checking the room for concealed entrances. Hermione let go of Harry’s hand and they stepped apart.
Fudge started and turned around quickly.
“Ah, Harry!” he said, fighting to control his breath.
“Welcome, Mr Fudge,” he replied. “Please take a seat. You remember Hermione, don’t you?”
“Of course,” he said nodding to her. “Miss Granger, how nice to see you.”
Fudge sat down on the simple wooden chair near him and Harry brought over a seat for Hermione. As she sat, he brought over a third chair for himself.
“Thank you for agreeing to see us,” began Harry, noticing that Fudge was sweating profusely and looking quite agitated.
“I didn’t get a chance to disagree,” commented Fudge, now wiping the inner brim of his bowler hat.
Harry nodded in understanding.
“I thought you were still staying with your Aunt and Uncle, Harry.”
“I was at the beginning of the summer. Mad-Eye was rather instant that any visitors shouldn’t know where we are really staying, though.”
“Nor be trusted to keep their wands?” added Fudge pointedly.
Harry smiled apologetically and said, “These are difficult times, Mr Fudge. We must all make allowances.”
“Of course, of course,” Fudge said absently. “So, now that I’m here, how can I be of assistance? I’m afraid I have little influence with the Ministry of Magic these days.”
“I wanted to ask you about something,” said Harry. “You see, of all the people I have met in the Wizarding World, you are the only person outside of Voldemort’s circle that may know what I need.”
Fudge jerked violently at the sound of Voldemort’s name.
“Only person?” Fudge repeated.
“Everyone we’ve asked agrees that you are the acknowledged expert in this area.”
Fudge frowned slightly, and Harry thought he saw him grow a little paler as he realised what Harry was about to ask him.
“I’d like you to tell me about the Dementors.”
“Dementors?” asked Fudge, but Harry knew now he’d been expecting the question. “But why ever would you want to know about them for?”
“I can’t tell you, Mr Fudge. Voldemort must never even know we asked. It would be very dangerous for you and your family if he learned we had even spoken together.”
“You are not giving me much incentive to co-operate, are you?”
“In order to defeat Voldemort we need information. I’m not going to force you to talk to us, Mr Fudge, but I’d have thought any opportunity to help defeat the greatest Dark Lord in history would have been incentive enough.”
“What if I went to the Dark Lord and bartered the fact that you asked me particular questions in exchange for the lives of my family and myself?”
“Well, he’d probably go for a deal like that,” agreed Harry. “Of course, he’d murder you all the moment he learned what my questions were and what they might mean.”
Fudge looked at Harry defiantly for two full seconds before his eyes fell and he nodded shakily.
“I know,” he agreed, toying with his hat. “What specifically do you want to know?”
Hermione jumped in and quickly told Fudge what they had learned about the Wizengamot trials and how Dumbledore had felt betrayed.
“Oh, that was only part of the reason Dumbledore disliked the Dementors,” commented Fudge.
“Do you know who the Defence Advocate was?” asked Hermione. “The one who acted for the Dementors on trial?”
“I’m afraid that was me,” Fudge admitted.
Hermione nodded and Harry saw that she had suspected as much.
“So,” asked Harry slowly, “is there more than one family of Dementors?”
“Oh, yes,” said Fudge at once. “The Azkaban Guards were only one family. They reached a deal with the Ministry to take charge of Azkaban. It was actually some way away from their ancestral home, but the Ministry was in no mood to compromise. They had successfully almost eradicated the other Dementor clans from the entire British Isles.”
“Were the Azkaban Dementors different from the others?”
“You mean, were they more controllable?” asked Fudge and Hermione nodded.
“Actually, no. They weren’t more controllable from the Ministry standpoint. There was a difference, though, in that they had a leader who was prepared to ensure that they upheld the bargain that was reached.”
“Are they intelligent?” asked Hermione.
“Very,” agreed Fudge. “I’ve suspected for some time that they imbibe something of the people they perform this kiss on.”
“Wouldn’t that mean they take in the characteristics of murderers and insane wizards?” asked Harry.
“Indeed, which is perhaps why the Ministry lost control.”
“Is that true?” asked Hermione.
Fudge smiled and said, “No, but that’s what the Ministry believe.”
“Tell us about this leader?” prompted Harry.
“Ah, yes. He is very unusual for a Dementor. I suspect that, perhaps many decades ago, he performed the kiss on either a very wise or a very powerful mind. That is the only thing I can think of that makes him so different.”
“Did he desert Azkaban and join Voldemort too?”
Fudge shrugged and said, “Well, he certainly left the island. He also ignored my many attempts to summon him.”
“Do you think he joined Voldemort, though?” pushed Harry.
“I honestly don’t know. I’m sure some, perhaps all, of his family did follow the Dark Lord’s call.”
“Alright,” said Harry. “I’d like to know how you communicate with them.”
Fudge smiled to himself.
“At the risk of sounding immodest,” Fudge said, “I must admit that I am indeed the expert in such matters. It was my Great Grandfather who first brokered the deal for Azkaban. He passed the secret down to his son and so on until it was passed on to me. It ensured that we all had good jobs at the Ministry.”
“Not so good now, though?” said Harry, crossing his arms.
“True,” admitted Fudge, but did not continue.
“It must be a way to counter the effects of the Dementors,” said Hermione. “Do you use a Patronus?”
“I’ve never been able to produce a full corporeal Patronus,” said Fudge.
“I thought the Patronus was the only thing that worked against Dementors,” commented Harry, unfolding his arms.
“Well, it is, provided you want to force a Dementor away,” said Fudge slyly. He leaned forward a little.
“Think what a Patronus is,” he suggested.
“It is made from positive, happy emotions,” said Harry. “It makes the Dementor feed on it rather than your emotions.”
“Yes, but that isn’t entirely it. If a Patronus was just happiness, why would the Dementors be driven back? You’d think they’d be attracted towards the thing, wouldn’t you?”
Harry frowned, trying to remember exactly how Remus Lupin had described the Patronus and how it worked.
Fudge was looking intently at Harry now with a smile playing on his lips. He looked bursting to tell them what they were missing.
Fudge chuckled dryly and said, “Don’t worry. The entire wizarding world hasn’t realised that either. Let me give you a clue or two. After all, I’ve no-one to leave my inherited gift to; so it might as well be you, Harry.”
“I’m flattered,” said an unsmiling Harry.
Fudge coughed and looked up to the dark ceiling.
“Let me see,” Fudge said to himself. “The common perception is that Dementors take away all your happy emotions and memories, leaving just the negative feelings.”
They nodded, listening intently now.
“Well, that is indeed what happens, except those are the effects, not necessarily the cause.”
“Sorry?” said Harry. “What’s the difference?”
“The difference, Harry,” said Hermione, “is that it might not be the Dementors making us feel those negative emotions.”
“Absolutely, Miss Granger. The Dementors just get the blame because they are the ones we can see and feel are there.”
Harry shook his head doubtfully.
“Let’s think about this,” said Hermione. “We’ve always believed that the Dementor will suck out any happiness from those present, but a Patronus will drive them away. Positive emotions drive them away.”
Harry frowned slightly, but decided to keep quiet while she reasoned.
“So,” she continued slowly, “if the happiness in us isn’t being sucked out, it must be driven away because of some other cause.”
“Or,” prompted Fudge.
“Or, we are feeling amplified negative emotions. Perhaps it’s the negative emotions being brought to the fore.”
“Excellent!” exclaimed Fudge. “That’s much closer to what usually happens.”
“Yes. You see, there is something more that you need to know. Although Dementors do usually fear goodness and are attracted to our worst feelings, that isn’t always the case.”
“The Kiss?” asked Hermione.
“Exactly. During the Kiss, the very essence of a person’s soul is removed and consumed. That essence can be said to be the sum total of a victim’s emotional state. There is no way to filter out the goodness felt by that person, and yet the Dementor is compelled to consume it.”
“Does it harm the Dementor?”
“Oh, yes; and they know it,” said Fudge. “They are like moths to a flame, except they know the flame can be fatal sometimes.”
Harry glanced across to Hermione and was surprised to see her looking at him with a very thoughtful expression.
“What?” he asked.
“Harry, think about all those Dementors that attacked you, me and Sirius that time. They also flooded onto the pitch during that Quidditch match too.”
“So?” said Harry.
“Was that really just a coincidence?”
“Of course it wasn’t,” said Fudge before Harry could respond. “That night we almost caught Sirius Black, the Dementors tried to perform the kiss on you, Harry.”
“Yes, that’s what you said in the Hospital Wing,” agreed Hermione. “It didn’t occur to me at the time, but how did you know they tried to do that? I mean, everyone else was unconscious at the time.”
“Oh, that isn’t a mystery,” said Fudge dismissively. “I was with a group of Dementors outside the school, checking if they had seen anything when they suddenly grew agitated. They gathered together and then entered the school grounds en mass. I tried to call them back but it was no good. I hurried after them but I was much slower than them on foot. It seemed I’d barely got a few yards inside when they all stampeded out again.
“I managed to get one of them to tell me what had happened and they admitted to me that they had attempted to perform the kiss on you.
“I have no doubt now that had they succeeded they would have moved on to both Black and you Miss Granger, if only to hide their crime.”
“Mr Fudge, what did you mean when you said it wasn’t a coincidence that they attacked Harry?” asked Hermione.
“Harry would be quite a prize for the Dementors,” said Fudge carefully. “I don’t mean that the Dark Lord would be pleased, though. You see, Harry’s life-force is quite unique. The Dementors may be quite blind, but they find their way by feeling.”
“So, they can feel a person’s life-force?” asked Hermione.
“Yes. The stronger the life-force, the greater the attraction.”
“And Harry’s life-force is particularly strong?”
“Well, yes; but I think there’s more to it. I said strong, because that’s the easiest thing for us humans to understand. I suspect that a Dementor will see these things more subtly. It is possible that You-Know-Who’s curse would have left an imprint.”
“Mr Fudge, what about when Harry and his cousin were attacked?”
“Well, Dementors can’t usually be used like that. If you sent them out to attack a person, the chances are they would attack the first unfortunate they came across. To achieve success you’d probably have to literally guide the Dementor to their victim.”
“So, how was Umbridge able to send them after me?”
“There is still no direct evidence she did any such thing,” Fudge reminded him. “However, if someone directed the Dementors in the right general direction them I’m convinced they could find you with little difficulty. They can feel your presence over several miles, actually. That’s why being posted just outside the school was such a torment for them.”
They were quiet for a moment, with Hermione thinking hard about what Fudge had just said and Harry just fuming silently.
“Tell us how you communicate with the Dementors?” said Hermione.
“There are three parts you need to achieve before you can communicate, but first I should say that you can’t speak to a Dementor in the traditional sense. I prefer to speak aloud, but you really do your talking with your mind. They respond in a telepathic way, but mostly you get feelings returned rather than an actual voice. You need to ask questions in such a way that it makes it possible for them to respond in simple terms.”
“How do you mean?” asked Harry.
“Well, for example, when on Azkaban island if, say, I asked are all the prisoners secure, then I would generally receive a feeling of wellbeing or contentment.”
“How do you ask anything more complex?” asked Hermione.
“Well, I didn’t in general,” admitted Fudge. “Probably the most complex question involved when a prisoner last ate. In those instances I mostly volunteered various answers until I got a positive response.”
“Somehow I’m beginning to think that communicating with them won’t help us very much,” observed Harry darkly.
“Well, not necessarily,” countered Fudge. “Conversations with their leader were much more satisfactory. He had had extensive vocabulary, unlike most of his kind. He spoke very good English.”
“Oh,” said Harry. “Is this leader still around?”
“He has not responded to my calls for some months now. Indeed, not since they abandoned Azkaban.”
“What is his name?” asked Hermione.
“To speak it, is to call him. You need to know more than just how to summon a Dementor,” said Fudge wisely.
“Alright, tell us about these three things,” demanded Harry.
Fudge nodded and paused to collect his thoughts.
“Firstly, you need to grab their attention. That means focussing a controllable degree of negative emotion. I’d recommend the memory of an event where you felt sadness. Remember, the memory has to be of an emotional pain, not a physical one.
“Secondly, you need to keep a clear head. Many people become so involved in their memories as a Dementor approaches, all they can do is fall unconscious.”
“That might be a problem for me,” admitted Harry. “Without a Patronus to fend them off I kept fainting.”
“Me too,” said Hermione.
“It may not be as hard as you think,” said Fudge kindly. “It was reported in the Press that you heard your parents’ voices when the Dementors approached you. If that was indeed what happened then quite naturally you would have felt compelled to fall deeper into the memory.”
“That’s exactly right,” said Harry, not hiding his surprise that Fudge had been so perceptive.
“So long as you remember that you want the Dementors there and let the feelings wash over you, then you will be able to control what happens.”
“What’s the third part?” Harry asked doubtfully.
“This is the most important point,” stressed Fudge. “You must always keep in mind the fact that these are sentient creatures. For as long as you regard them as intelligent thinking beings you will be safe; but the moment you consider them to be mindless animals they may attack or at the very least refuse to communicate with you.”
“We need to do all three thinks at once?” asked Harry.
“Yes, that’s essential.”
“Um, how did you learn to do it, Mr Fudge?” asked Hermione.
“My father taught me. He summoned the Dementor leader and asked if I could practise. The leader had a good deal more self-control than his underlings, I should add. Eventually, I got it right and we spoke. It got a little easier over the years.”
“We’ve heard that you used your wand to help you communicate with them,” said Harry.
“Ah, yes,” said Fudge. “To be honest that has nothing to do with talking to them. You see, tenses tend to get confused and I found that pointing helped explain what I wanted to explain. My father rather hoped I’d grow out of the habit, but there you are.”
“Could you summon the leader for us and explain that we need to learn too?” asked Hermione hopefully.
“Well, as I said he hasn’t responded to my summons at all recently.”
“Would he respond to a summons from Harry?” she asked.
Fudge considered for a moment before nodding.
“It might be dangerous, though. Remember that all Dementors will feel your call. That means that Dementors loyal to You-Know-Who may respond as well.”
“I think we’ll have to chance it,” said Harry. “If I call him, will you explain that we want to talk to them?”
“That may not be wise, Harry. If I am considered an enemy, they won’t listen to me. No, I think your inherent feelings will protect you far better.”
They were silent for a long moment before Fudge took out a small business card sized piece of parchment from a pocket.
“Here,” he said. “It is the name of the Dementor leader. Take care not to speak it aloud before you are ready. When it is time, you must think it clearly as you speak.”
“You expected me to ask you?” said Harry, reaching out to accept the parchment.
“Yes,” admitted Fudge.
“Did Dumbledore tell you I might?”
“No, it was the Dementor leader himself who suggested it.”
Hermione bid Mr Fudge goodbye and disapparated away to fetch Moody. Within five minutes Fudge had been taken away leaving Harry and Hermione alone in the made-over living room.
“What do you think?” asked Harry.
Hermione didn’t answer at once.
“Actually, I don’t think the three things will be too hard to get right. The worst thing for me will be keeping a clear head in their presence.”
“Me too,” agreed Harry.
“I’m rather hoping that as this Dementor leader is expecting your call and is clearly much more intelligent than the others; perhaps then he will be more tolerant.”
“Good point, unless he just wants to kill us.”
“How do you know the leader is a he? She could be female.”
Harry chuckled and nodded just as Tonks apparated before them.
“All done?” she asked brightly.
The nodded and stood before Tonks restored the living room with a wide sweep of her wand.
“That’s much better!” she declared.
Harry coughed and pointed up to the ceiling where a solitary stalactite still hung where the lamp shade should have been.
“I know what you’re thinking, Hermione, but we didn’t summon this one.”
A Dementor arrives but Harry realises they hadn't summoned him. It is the leader. While they practise the requirements for communication, Harry accidentally sees part of Hermione's memories.
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