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Blood and Thorns (Old)

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Chapter Twenty Seven

 

Harry and Ron had just sat down for breakfast on Tuesday morning, the day after the Quibbler’s article on Sirius Black when the post owls soared into the hall. Hundreds of owls filled the air and dropped off copies of the Daily Prophet. Its headline stood out in sharp relief:

 

MINISTRY SUED

Harry picked up his copy after paying the owl and with Ron reading over his shoulder, he couldn’t stop the satisfied look from crossing his face.

 

MINISTRY SUED

Yes, dear readers you have read the headline correctly. Our Ministry of Magic is being sued! By whom? I hear you ask. The suit is being filed on behalf of Sirius Black himself! With the aid of his cousin, Narcissa Malfoy who is outraged by the false imprisonment of her cousin. The Black family have highlighted that it is unlawful for the ministry to continue to hunt Mr Black with their primary objective being his execution . Lady Malfoy had this to say:

My poor cousin has been through more than enough. He was only twenty-one when he was falsely accused and given no trial before being sent to Azkaban, and now the Ministry wishes to see him executed even though he has been proven innocent of his alleged crimes.”

To which Amelia Bones replied:

It is indeed horrible what has happened, but the law is the law. All escapees from Azkaban must be given the Kiss.”

The journalist tried to investigate the specifics of this law but was refused entry to the archives. How can our public trust the laws if they are not able to have access to them? Is this even a real law ? This journalist will not rest until she finds out the answer!

In the meantime, the Ministry is facing a lawsuit from the Black family with the backing of the Malfoy family, which is not surprising seeing as Narcissa Malfoy was a Black before she married Lucius Malfoy...

-Rita Skeeta, The Daily Prophet

 

“Huh,” Ron leant closer. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Do you think Malfoy wrote home about everything?” Harry asked him.

“Probably not everything but maybe about how you two are friends and how you’re upset about Black being hunted.” Ron scratched his cheek sheepishly. “I saw him write it.”

“It’s fine.” He was quick to reassure his friend. Harry truly wasn’t upset about Malfoy writing to parents about this. “This could really help.”

“Yeah.” He smiled relived before pointing out the next article. “Look, it says something about the international response.”

 

International Outrage

As you all know, we are part of the International Confederation of Wix, an international governing body that keeps the member countries to a certain standing. Albus Dumbledore is our representation and the Supreme Mugwump at least he was until Monday morning when he was asked to step down. Due to the controversy over Sirius Black’s false imprisonment, his escape, and the call for him to be given the kiss, the international community is up in arms. Mr Dumbledore was asked to step down due to his inaction as the Chief Warlock, general consensus is that he should have demanded a trial for Mr Black despite ‘everyone knowing that he was guilty’.

People across the globe are demanding to know how this had happened and why the current government body is doing nothing to fix the mess that their predecessors created by ignoring the right for everyone to have a fair trial. The interim Supreme Mugwump Babajide Akingbad had this to say: “ It is clear that we have left the British community without guidance for too long. The ICW will be auditing the past twenty years of trials held or in the case of Mr Black, not held. We desperately hope that Mr Black’s incarceration with a trial is a one off, however we will be diligent in our duty to ensure that all members of the British public can trust their justice system once more.”

Akingbad went on to reassure that their first point of call would be to examine the law that calls for any escapees of Azkaban to be Kissed on sight. This reporter has a feeling that said law will be repealed or at the very least edited with a clause for the wrongly accused in light of the Sirius Black situation.

- R. Almeidus, The Daily Prophet.

 

“Look at Dumbledore.” Fred hissed from across the table.

“He looks furious.” George added and nodded to the front of the room where the teachers were sat having their own breakfast.

Harry turned and saw that Dumbledore was indeed furious. His knuckles were white where they were clenched around his spoon and the hand that held the paper kept twitching as if he wanted to crumple it up and throw it away.

“Well, he did just lose his potion on the ICW.” Ron pointed out.

“That reminds me.” Harry picked up a piece of toast. “What exactly is the ICW? I read briefly about them during the summer, but the chapter was more focused on the statute of secrecy.”

“Well, it was formed in response to the growing dangers that we faced from Muggles.” Percy started in full lecture mode. Harry liked that he didn’t ask them about why they were so pleased that Dumbledore had lost his position with the ICW. “Basically, each magical governing body across the globe sent forward a person to represent their country in a council to discuss the global issue of the danger that Muggles posed to us.” He explained. “After the statue was decided on and enforced, they kept the ICW going because it was an effective way of sharing problems with other countries that may be facing similar issues.”

“So why didn’t they help with the War?” Harry asked. He noticed that they had gained a lot of attention from the nearby students that were eavesdropping including Hermione. He hoped that she didn’t decide to but in.

“The history books say that they refused to help.” Percy shrugged. “But I know that our previous Minister of Magic Millicent Bagnold was asked to explain the country's action when there were several breaches to the statute of secrecy following the fall of You-Know-Who.”

“I remember reading about that!” Lee Jordan interrupted. “It was in one of my history books. Apparently old Bagnold responded with,” He cleared his throat and the continued in a higher pitched voice. “ ‘I assert our inalienable right to party’,” He grinned. “She’s infamous for it.”

“Indeed.” Percy chuckled before becoming serious again. “So, they must have known that something was going on in Britain.” He shrugged. “But I honestly don’t know.”

“Huh.” Harry was kind of disappointed that Percy didn’t know the answer. “Is there like a public face of the ICW?”

He asked. “Like somewhere we could send a letter asking about it?” After all Harry Potter wouldn’t know this, no one outside of the group that regularly hangs out in the Chamber of Secrets could know that they were the ones that sent off the information about Sirius Black.

“Yes, there is.” Percy perked up at the fact that he did have information that he could reliably share with them. “Do you have a spare piece of parchment?”

Harry searched his bag and pulled out his first draft of his potions essay. He had already rewritten it, so this was essentially rubbish and he meant to get rid of it but kept forgetting. “Here,” He passed it over to Percy.

Percy scribbled something onto the back of the old essay before handing it back. “I’ll write it up neater and stick it on our message board in the common room later.”

“Thanks, Percy!” Harry cast a drying charm on the parchment before folding it and put it in his robe pocket so it wouldn’t get confused with his real potions essay despite his essay being held flat inside his potion textbook. He would send the ICW a letter personally later. He wanted to know more about the world he was living in.

“Ugh, we better get moving, we have potions first thing.” Ron sighed dramatically and snatched up one last sausage to munch on.

“He’s been weirdly nice.” Harry commented.

“Yeah, but who knows how long that's going to last.” He pointed out.

“Okay fair.” Harry conceded and stood up. “Best not be late then.”

 

 

Ron and Harry took their seats in the potion’s classroom, as far away from Granger as they could. Neville and Dean, who had drawn the short straw to pair with the potion disaster that was Neville Longbottom, sat on the table next to them. The rest of the Gryffindors, minus Hermione, filled in the seats around them sort of like a guard, keeping Hermione away, making her sit at the back of the classroom, her least favourite place to sit.

“Today,” Snape started speaking as soon as he flounced into the room wordlessly summoning their homework essays from their desk, “We will be attempting to brew the potion known as the Antidote to Common Poisons, also known as ACP for short.” He waved his wand towards the blackboard and a piece of chalk floated up and wrote the potion name on the board. “Can anyone tell me what the potion does?” He drawled sarcastically.

Harry didn’t have to be looking to know that Hermione was probably halfway out of her seat with her hand in the air, desperate to be picked to answer. Harry had actually read about this potion, he was unfortunately a celebrity and so he had spent a lot of time last year behind his bed curtains learning about poisons and their antidotes and so out of spite, he put his hand up. Snape predictably homed in on him.

“Potter.” He called on him.

“It’s a potion and antidote which counteracted ordinary poisons, such as creature bites and stings.” Then he added with a small smirk “Its ingredients include bezoars.” He remembered rather clearly Snape asking about bezoars in his first year.

“It also contains ground unicorn horn and mistletoe berries.” Snape nodded slightly at Harry which was the closest he was probably going to get to approval. Snape may be acting nicer but that clearly didn’t mean that he was going to be giving Harry house points. “It is a simple potion so you will be working individually.” He then smirked. “We will be testing the potions on your table partner.”

Most of the class paled. Harry exchanged a worried look with Ron.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Get started!” Snape barked and everyone hurried to obey.

Harry set up his cauldron and grabbed a mortar and pestle before going to the cupboard to gather his ingredients before returning to his station and got started. He carefully read through the instructions, the ones listed on the board and in his book. He noticed that there was an inconsistency between the two recipes. He raised his hand.

“Yes Mr Potter?”

“Which recipe do we follow? The one in our textbook or the one on the board?” He nervously asked as the dark eyes of the Potion Master narrowed on him.

“The one on the board, unless you want a subpar potion and a grade to match it.” He drawled before sweeping off to loom over another student.

Harry was rather grateful to his past self for getting new glasses otherwise he wouldn’t be able to read the board like he hadn’t for the first two years at Hogwarts. He had never realised before that the instructions were different to what was in the book. He quickly jotted the recipe down so he would have a chance to investigate the changes later, he wanted to understand why Snape had made those changes. He had after all made a promise to himself that he would do better this year, and that meant in all his classes. With that decided Harry got to work.

 

Harry left the classroom with a smile on his face. His potion had been the right colour and consistency AND Snape had given him an EE on it!

“Mate, how did you get such a good grade?” Dean asked as they left. Ron was strutting just as proudly next to Harry; he also got an EE on this potion.

“I followed the instructions on the board, and it helped that the Slytherins weren’t trying to sabotage us.” Harry shrugged.

“That you crushed the bezoar to dust.” Ron commented. “I noticed that you were grinding it for longer than most people, so I copied him.” He added sheepishly.

“I wanted it to be a fine powder.”

“Maybe I should fight Ron to be your desk partner?” Dean nudged him with a grin.

"No chance!" Ron snorted and wrapped an arm over Harry's shoulders and messed up his hair with the other. 

"Get off." Harry laughed, it felt great to joke around with his friends. He pushed Ron's hand away from his hair. His heart warmed at the action though because he had seen the twins and even Percy do it to Ron before now, he relished in the brotherly act.

"Oi, Gryffindorks." Malfoy called out to them. 

"Yeah?" Ron turned to look at him without removing his arm from Harry's shoulders. 

"We've got Runes," Malfoy caught up to them. "So, stop with whatever this is." He gestured to Ron and Harry. "And let's go Potter." 

"Ah," Whoops he had almost forgotten that Potions wasn't his only class today. "I'll see you guys later." He told Ron and Dean before ducking under Ron's arm and walking faster. 

"Later, mate!" Ron waved him off as he sped walked alongside Malfoy. 

As he left though he overheard Dean say to Ron: "Since when were we friendly with Malfoy?"

 

Later after classes had finished for the day and dinner had been eaten, Harry, Ron, the twins and Malfoy could be found in the Chamber of Secrets. 

“Have you seen the glares Granger has been sending you?” Malfoy asked as soon as Harry and Ron entered their sitting area. 

“No…?” Harry and Ron shook their heads. 

“I’ve been avoiding her to be honest.” Harry admitted. 

“Well she looks like she wants to set you on fire and then dance on your ashes.” He was draped across his seat, his shoes kicked off and his feet on the table. Harry bet that he would never be allowed to sit like that at home. 

“We should practice our shield charms then.” Harry sighed. “She’s already proven that she is more than happy to curse us.” 

“We can-” Fred started.

“Teach you some spells.” George finished.

“Really?” Harry sat up straight. 

“Sure,” Fred shrugged. “We’re older and despite how ‘talented’” He made quotation marks over the word ‘talented’. “Granger is-”

“We know more spells than she does.” George continued. 

“And will you let me take part in these lessons?” Malfoy asked, sitting up, taking his feet off the coffee table. 

“As if we would ever leave our-”

“Favourite snake, defenceless.” They scoffed. 

“Let’s get started then!” Harry beamed. He had missed his lessons with Fenrir over the summer now that he was back in school. 

 

They moved back into the main chamber where the dead basilisk lay, so that they wouldn’t damage the cool rooms that they liked to hang out in. Harry bounced on the balls of his feet as he waited impatiently for the twins to start. 

“Okay, so first thing first, ickle little students.” Fred started standing before them with his wand held loosely in his hand. “Shielding.” 

“The most common shield that you’ll be taught is ‘Protego’.” George explained. “It's not actually taught until sixth year which in our opinion is-”

“Stupid.” Fred rolled his eyes. “Surely a shield charm should be one of the first spells taught?”

Wasn’t that the spell that Fenrir had wanted him to learn? Harry hadn’t actually had a chance to even look it up! He was kind of surprised that the werewolf hadn’t sent him a letter asking about his progress on it. 

“Is’t that spell supposed to be really hard?” Malfoy commented. 

“Unfortunately most adults aren’t able to perform it.” George admitted. 

“But that's probably because they are too lazy to put the effort into learning it.”

“It can’t hurt to give it a go.” Ron sighed and raised his wand. “What was the incantation again?”

“That’s the spirit!” The twins send in unison. 

“It’s pro-TAY-go.” George over exaggerated the pronunciation. “The wand movement is a sharp jab in a downward motion.”

“If successful, a thin, invisible shield will form.” Fred finished explaining. “Like so, Protego!” He jabbed his wand down and a shimmery virtually invisible shield appeared in the air in front of him. “The more power you pour into the spell the more visible it becomes.” 

Unable to help himself, Harry fired off a spell towards the shield to test it. “Expelliarmus.” The shield glowed brightly where the spell hit but didn’t break. 

“Sneaky sneaky.” Fred snarked and cancelled the spell. 

“Now it’s your turn!” George clapped his hands. “For now just focus on getting the spell, we’ll test the shield once you lot are able to produce them reliably.” 

Harry was eager to start so he took a few steps away from the others and held out his wand. He took a deep breath and focused. “Protego.” His magic surged and a very weak shield appeared for a moment before shattering. 

“Show off!” Ron shouted but he wore a teasing smile so Harry knew that he wasn’t really upset. 

“Protego!” Malfoy cast and a similar flickering shield appeared before it vanished. “It's not so hard.” 

“Come on, Ron. You can do it.” Harry cheered his friend on as he was the last to try it. 

“Protego!” Ron yelled the spell and much to everyone’s amazement the shield that formed was rather visible meaning that he had put a lot of magic into it. 

“Well done!” Harry grinned at him. He was glad that Ron had done so well.

“Nice!” The twins swarmed their brother and ruffled his hair almost violently. “Now do it again.” They ordered the three of them in sync. 

“Yes sirs!” Harry playfully saluted. He felt buoyant at their success after just one casting all three of them had managed to get a shield even if it was a weak shield! He dodged a stinging hex that George sent his way for his cheek. 

“No dodging!” Fred called out. “Shield charms only!” and followed that statement with another hex. 

“Ow!” Ron yelped as the hex shattered his shielding charm. 

“Don’t worry, Gred knows healing spells.” Fred continued to fire off hexes at the three of them. “He’ll heal you all at the end of the lesson.” 

“You are evil-ah!” Malfoy scowled only to wince as a stinging hex hit him. 

“Protego!” Harry cast and to his amazement it was strong enough to deflect one hex before breaking. 

“Well done, Harry!” George brought the evil Fred’s attention to him. 

“But can you do it again?” Fred aimed his wand at him with an unholy gleam in his eye. 

Oh merlin, he regretted letting the twins teach them! He winced as his next shield charm broke, letting through the hex. 

 

By the time they had called the lesson to an end, Harry, Ron and Malfoy were groaning in pain from all the stinging hexes that Fred had managed to land. 

“Not bad,” Fred commented as George approached Ron to heal him. “You did a lot better than I expected any of you to do.” 

“Next time could you use a colour changing charm instead?” Malfoy complained. 

“Nah, you’ll learn the charm faster this way.” Fred refused. 

“Did you have to put so much power behind the hexes?” Harry rubbed at a partially sore spot on his arm. 

“Sorry.” He frowned and approached to look at the welt on Harry’s arm. He winced. “Yeah I think I’ll switch to the jelly legs jinx.” 

“I think I speak for all of us when I say that we would appreciate that.” Harry sighed in relief as George came over and muttered some spells under his breath. The pain immediately faded. “Think you could also teach us some healing spells?”

“Sure.” George easily agreed as he moved onto Malfoy. “Also Fred, I agree with these three, jelly legs jinxes from now on.” 

“Agreed.” Fred looked really apologetic. “Sorry.” 

“It's fine.” Ron patted his brother on the shoulder. “It was your first time teaching, you were bound to make mistakes.” 

“But if you hit me with one more stinging hex I will summon a snake for Potter to set on you.” 

“I think you can call me Harry,” Harry smiled tiredly at Malfoy. “We have after all just survived torture together.” 

“Draco then.” Mal-Draco nodded at him. 

“And I’m Ron.” Ron added with a lopsided smile. “Now, can we go to bed? Curfew is probably soon.” 

“Good idea.” Harry agreed and groaned as he climbed to his feet. George may have healed him but he still felt sore. “I want a shower.” 

“Forget a shower, I want to go to bed.” Ron helped Draco up. 

“And that is why you smell, Weas-Ron.” Draco corrected himself. 

“I’ll push you back down.” Ron threatened. 

“Now, now.” George swooped in and wrapped an arm around Ron, pulling him away from Draco before taking a dramatic sniff. “Phew! You do smell.” 

“Ew, you do!” Fred immediately joined in on the fun.

“Oh shove off!” Ron pushed his brother away. 

Harry just laughed at his friends and led the way out of the chamber. They followed behind him, still bickering.