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HP stories following Canon including OotP >> Harry Potter and the Goblin Rebellion, ch. 4 by dedalusdiggle

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Chapter 4 - A Night Out

After showering, Harry met with Lupin in the lobby of the Rec. Center. When they went out front, Lupin called for Tonks who came around from the left side of the building. Harry suspected she had been giving the place a look over for signs of visits by other sorcerers and possible defenses. He accepted that having members of the Order do that for the places he frequented was the way his life had to be, but it still gave him a pang of frustration that he found himself in such a situation.

“Looking for an inconspicuous guard post?” asked Harry.

“Oh, just looking around at the landscaping,” said Tonks.


“Yeah, I believe that like I’d believe Moody saying the same thing.”

“Okay, fine. You’re spending time here, so we’re going to be cautious. Does that make you feel ‘safe,’ smart-aleck?”

“I don’t know any more what it’s like to feel safe,” said Harry grimly, “but I don’t care for people acting like I have to be kept out of the loop.”

“Alright, Harry,” said Lupin, “but understand that for some things we’ll have to keep information away from you.”

“Fine, just don’t treat me like a child,” snapped Harry, “I’m stepping up to shoulder my share: give me credit for that!”

Lupin recoiled a bit at Harry’s reaction, and then looked ruefully at him. “Okay, Harry, calm down. A number of us are still very saddened that you’ve never really had the chance at a childhood that you should have. But, okay, you’re facing things like an adult, and working like an adult to meet them – you’ll get whatever can be shared.”

“I’m sorry I was short, there, Professor Lupin,” said Harry, more calmly, “I guess I’m not fully over the frustration of being kept in the dark.”

“Trust me, I understand. I know that there’s a lot more going on around you than I’ve been let in on. With your parents and Sirius gone, I feel like I need to step in to help, but all I know is to accept Dumbledore’s instructions. I’d like to know more, too.”

“Trust me on this,” said Harry, “You don’t want to know it all.”

Lupin looked him in the eye, then put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a squeeze. “Well, it seems that you know some things that I don’t. I’ll take your word for it, and I promise you I’ll be there for you in whatever way I can.”

Harry nodded. “Thanks.”

“I’ve called Arabella Figg, Harry. She’ll be expecting us,” said Tonks, “She’s even getting dinner going. Hope you’re hungry.”

Before Harry could reply, Lupin laughed, “He’s a fifteen-year-old boy who exercises more than half the day and you have to ask if he’s hungry? I wouldn’t hold food near him unless I planned on counting my fingers.”

Harry laughed with Lupin and Tonks as Lupin ruffled Harry’s still shower-wet hair, “I reckon I could eat.”

“Well, that’s good,” said Tonks, “we don’t need to make this talk seem like an interrogation. Sitting around the dinner table will make it more relaxed. You understand we have to go over this, don’t you?”

“Yeah,” said Harry, “Anything unusual that happens with me is not just my own business – it concerns all of you.” Then he added sarcastically, “Can I keep it to myself when I respond to a pretty girl?”

They grinned. “We don’t have to hear about that, Harry,” said Lupin, “but you might want to let the girl know you appreciate her.”

Harry looked down and smiled sadly, “Oh, I don’t know if I could do that.”

“Too shy, guy? Don’t worry, the girls won’t bite,” said Tonks, “unless you ask them nicely to.”

Harry blushed, “Well, I guess there’s a bit of shyness to it. I’m still not comfortable with girls. But as things are now, I’m afraid to get involved when there’s so much going on around me.”

At that moment, Harry’s head involuntarily turned as a young woman on a bicycle coasted by in the roadway going the other direction. Lupin grabbed Harry’s t-shirt sleeve to keep him moving the direction they were going.

“I think you’ll be able to overcome those fears, Harry. You seem to have a decent appreciation for things other than fighting,” said Lupin.

Soon they found themselves at Mrs. Figg’s house. She greeted them even before they rang the doorbell. They were greeted by the smell of chicken broth warming and bread rising. She led them into the kitchen and gave them mugs of tea before resuming cutting the vegetables for the soup.

“Arabella, did you already have bread going when we called?” asked Tonks.

“Oh, no, dear. When you called, I put the flour and other ingredients in the bread maker there. I thought fresh bread would go well with the soup.”

“Bread maker – a muggle thing? How’s it work?” asked Tonks.

“Oh, it’s like a small electric oven with a built in mixer and a timer. I just punch the buttons to tell it to mix, and how long to let the bread rise and then how long to bake. See there’s the instruction book. The machine makes a ‘ding’ when the bread’s ready. We’ll be having a whole wheat and oat bread with dinner.”

“Yum,” said Lupin, both appreciatively and facetiously.

“This is fascinating,” said Tonks, leafing through the manual. “I’ve tried to master baking with magic and I come up with lumps you could use as bludgers. This is like magic.”

“Except even you could make it work,” snickered Harry.

Tonks opened her mouth in mock offense. “Cheeky monkey! So you do have a sense of humor yet. That’s good. Y’may need it before all is said and done.”

Lupin laughed and then got more serious, “Perhaps we should begin discussing your spell tonight.”

“Tonks didn’t tell me what happened,” said Mrs. Figg, “what was it?”

“Expelliarmus. Harry’s disarming spell stripped Arthur of his wand, while he was trying to use it, brought the wand directly into Harry’s hand, and tossed Arthur ten feet back into a stack of exercise mats.”

“Well, that’s good and strong, but not unusual for a wizard his age who practices.”

Tonks looked sidelong at her, “He didn’t use a wand.”

“Oh,” said Mrs. Figg woodenly. Then she recovered and said with a wink, “Don’t think anything of it, Harry: I never use a wand either.”

“Ah, that’s reassuring,” said Harry, “coming from a squib. Well, we can get on with it. I suppose I’d be more concerned if you didn’t interrogate me. After all, I seem to be right in the center of the maelstrom; I’d better accept it.”

Just then, Mrs. Figg’s cuckoo clock activated and the little bird came out cuckooing the time. Harry watched it as between each cuckoo, the eyes swiveled about. He hadn’t been here since he had known Mad-Eye Moody, but it occurred to him how much the movement of the cuckoo’s eye reminded him of Moody’s magical eye.

As they all sat at the kitchen table, Tonks and Lupin prodded Harry’s memory about all the occasions he had performed magic without a wand. Harry had been a bit woolly as to how unusual it was to perform wandless magic, but the reactions of the three of them told him it was quite unique.

They finished just as the chicken vegetable soup and bread were ready. Over dinner they had a good long talk about Sirius. It was quite a relief to Harry to be able to talk about his death, and more importantly his life, with people who knew him so well. They talked about adventures and missions with the original Order of the Phoenix, about his friends and interests, pranks and things that happened at Hogwarts, what it took to become an Animagus secretly, all sorts of things. Harry learned more about the way Harry’s father and Sirius had been vain, arrogant and boorish. Harry was pleased to learn that both Sirius and his father had matured immensely from the end of fifth year to the end of sixth year at Hogwarts.

“I hope I can mature like that, too,” said Harry, “I’ve been a right donkey, particularly last year. I hate that I hurt my friends and others who care about me.”

“Yes, you were, Harry,” laughed Lupin, nudging Harry’s shoulder, “but the people who care understand. Most all of us go through a time when we’re hard to be around, and it’s not as if you haven’t had a lot to deal with. I dare anyone to go through adolescence with the burdens you have and not get peckish”

“And now that you see what a dolt you were,” said Tonks with a smile, “you’ve taken the biggest step toward becoming a real adult, rather than just taller, older and hairier.” Then she gave Harry’s still fuzzy adolescent mustache a brush with her finger, and added “Needing a shave there soon, aren’t we?”

Harry grinned. “But wasn’t it near the end of sixth year that Sirius tricked Snape into going to the Shrieking Shack when you were the werewolf?”

Remus looked grim and slowly nodded. “Yes, it was. I didn’t say maturity came suddenly. It happened late in Spring after Snape had pulled a nasty trick which got us all in a week’s detention and cost enough points that Gryffindor lost the House Cup. And while we had done plenty of other things which would have cost us dearly, on this we were innocent. Sirius particularly couldn’t let it go – I think because he had been breaking away from his dark relatives like his immediate family and his cousins Bellatrix and Narcissa, and Severus reminded him so much of them, with all his self-congratulatory ranting about purebloodedness and mudbloods and purification. So when the next full moon came, a week before exams, …well, you know the story. It was an awful thing for him to do. You’ve seen the werewolf – would you wish that on anyone?”

Harry took his time to think about that carefully, and then replied, “No. I think I can honestly say I don’t. I want people like Voldemort and the Death Eaters stopped and put away, and while I won’t be too fussed if they die or get the Dementor’s Kiss, I’ll be satisfied if they are just stopped. Their best punishment would be knowing they had failed.”

“And what about Professor Snape?” asked Lupin.

Harry sighed. “I don’t know what he’s on about. He’s unfair to all Gryffindors, but there’s some special venom for me - and Neville Longbottom. But still, as angry as I was just a month ago, I don’t want him hurt – I just want to not have to look at his greasy self again. Fortunately if I get the grade I expect in my Potions OWL test, I think I may at least see very little of him.”

Lupin laughed “Excellent, Harry, you’ve come a long way. Three years ago you were ready to throw Sirius to the Dementors for betraying your parents. Hatred and vengefulness can destroy you from within. But I can tell you part of what eats at Snape. Not only did he hate that your father saved his life, but the story got out that James had risked his own neck keeping Snape from a werewolf. Snape was a top student and Slytherin prefect, so even though he was not popular, he had been the obvious choice for Head Boy up until then. But with such heroics, your father – who had not even been a prefect, you know – was vaulted into being the preeminent male student and the overwhelming choice for Head Boy. Think how you’d feel if you were passed over for an honor you thought you’d deserved.” Lupin arched his eyebrow at that last statement.

Harry nodded. “I know – I had a touch of jealousy last year at Ron when I was passed over for prefect. I didn’t begrudge it to Ron, but I felt like I’d proved myself and, well, with Dumbledore not willing to speak to me, I felt like I was being rejected all the way around.”

Tonks nodded. “Yeah, everyone could see it. We were all surprised. How do you feel about it now?”

“I’m glad not to have it, actually. I mean, recognition is nice – well, not the kind the Ministry was giving me this past year – but it’s not as if I haven’t had my share of notoriety. I’ve got to keep my head on what’s important, and as it seems like Voldemort isn’t going to be leaving me alone, I’ve got to prepare for what may come. Being a prefect would just distract me from training.”

“Good” said Tonks with a smile, “We’re all thrilled that you’re getting focused on the skills you may need. But let’s not get too dour. There’s time for enjoying life, too, y’know. Oh, by the way, I’ll be filing a report saying that the Expelliarmus spell was mine, done to protect muggles, so that’s our story and we’re sticking to it, right?”

“Thanks, Tonks,” said Harry, “I imagine I’m still not Fudge’s favorite person.”

Now that dinner and the serious discussions were out of the way, they helped Mrs. Figg with the dishes. She was thrilled to have them cleaned and stacked by magic for a change. They played games and talked about cats and Quidditch and what everyone was up to. Mrs. Figg invited Harry to come any Monday or Tuesday to help her brew potions for the Order – though she was a squib and thus couldn’t do magic, she could follow the most exacting requirements of any recipe.

After a few hours, Tonks and Lupin walked Harry home. They got to talking about changes at the Ministry. Fudge was pushing to have all banking transactions reported to the Ministry, giving as a reason the need to track Death Eater activities.

“Well, that’s a good idea, isn’t it? I mean, it’s one way to get after them, right?”

Lupin explained. “Yeah, it sounds good, doesn’t it, but it’s not as simple as that. We’re all subject to it, and we all would have to explain to the Ministry every time we take out more than just a few galleons. And we’d all be forced to reveal any earnings and investment income and any other economic activity. That information can be used by others with access to the information to drive hard bargains or otherwise take advantage of the honest wizards. Also, there are any number of ways that the unscrupulous can evade it, so it only burdens the honest wizards and witches. It also violates the regulations for protecting each wizard’s independence that were created when the Ministry was created – the ministry was formed to protect the magical and muggle worlds from each other, but this looks like another in a number of steps toward making us all subjects of the Ministry, rather than sovereign citizens of a magical republic.”

“I think I see.”

“Harry,” added Tonks, “people aren’t just controlled by particular laws which are set up. People, even sorcerers, need money and things to do almost anything, so when someone takes control of your property, that person is taking control over you. It won’t stop with this, you know. We’ll be told of other ‘protections’ that are needed as the Ministry starts telling us when we can get our money, or what we can do with our money. Pretty soon it’s ‘our’ money in name only, because the Ministry has taken all control. It’s happened with many other magical republics through history, as well as most muggle governments.”

Harry once again wished he had paid more attention in History class, but he had the impression that Professor Binns had never talked about issues such as this; at least, it had never been on the exams.

“And that may not be the worst of it,” added Lupin, “by passing regulations impinging on banking, Fudge is increasing the friction with the goblins. If we are going to have warfare with the Death Eaters, we need all the allies we can get, and Fudge’s banking regulations are pushing the goblins away. They are natural allies of stable wizard society, since most of their income and security derives from wizard commerce and cooperation. But too often the Ministry has treated them poorly, and this law is a good example. After all, most of the burden falls on them through Gringotts, and the accounting and insurance industries, and they are not even allowed a voice on the Wizengamot.”

“Not that Fudge too much minds,” said Tonks, “He’s always had harsh words for the goblins and any non-human magical beings - just hates ‘em. Won’t have any dealings with part-humans either. It’s no surprise that he placed Delores Umbridge at Hogwarts last year – they’re two peas in a pod when it comes to non-humans.”

Harry shuddered at the mention of last year’s Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Umbridge had been the vilest teacher they had ever had, surpassing even Snape, and had imposed actual tortures on him to try to make him deny that Voldemort had returned. She had even threatened to use the unforgivable Cruciatus Curse on him before Hermione had devised a scheme to stop her.

Harry asked “Is anybody trying to stop these new laws?”

“Well, Dumbledore, Madam Bones and a few other members of the Wizengamot have tried to speak against them” answered Lupin, “but Fudge is very effective at rallying people with a patriotic speech. Arthur’s been very outspoken, and he and Molly are very concerned he may lose his job. Most people like and respect Arthur, but not the wizards that Fudge has been placing at the top to surround himself with sycophants. Molly tries to calm him, but Arthur is just as passionate about protecting wizards and goblins and other creatures as he is about protecting muggles.”

“Yeah, Arthur can seem kind of silly with his affection for muggle things, but he’s a regular volcano when it comes to any being getting treated badly or unfairly,” added Tonks approvingly, “You saw how he jumped to protect you tonight – after a while, he just couldn’t stand to see that enormous cousin of yours beating up on you, even if you literally asked for it.”

By then they had reached the Dursleys’ home. Tonks handed him the mirror and told him that Dumbledore said he would be available the next evening to talk. Harry thanked them and said goodbye. Since he had showered at the gym, he said goodnight to the Dursleys, brushed his teeth, cleared his mind, and went right to bed.


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