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Author Notes:

I've wanted to play with a Harry/Susan Bones story for quite some time, and I started a story - it started going in three or four different directions, so I put it on the shelf. Then I picked it back up and pruned a lot of the extraneous stuff.

One of my beefs with canon after GOF is that Harry has this face-to-face encounter with VoldemortReborn! and then goes back to his same old life - living with abusive Dursleys, slacking with Ron, pretty much acting as a passive little sponge.

So the gist of this story was that the graveyard scene changed, for Harry at least, everything  -  in later chapters Harry decided that he doesn't have the luxury of being a slacker any more, and thinks that training is more important than Quidditch - which results in a permanent rupture with Ron Weasley.  I also had chapters planned in which Sirus captures Pettigrew and forces a pardon from the ministry.  I kept the summer Dementor scene, but instead of Harry and Dudley, it's Harry and Susan, and the Patronus drives the Dementors back into the waiting arms of Dolores Umbridge, who is kissed.

Unfortunately, as I started paring down all the junk from the manuscript, I discovered that I no longer wanted to write this story.  Other writers have written HarryTrains! and others have written HarryGetsSerious! but I didn't want to write those stories, they've already been written. 

Sure, there are aspects of my projected story arc that would be interesting, but I don't want to rewrite Order of the Phoenix without Umbridge.  I reached the fatal point where I didn't care what happens to my versions of the HP characters.  If I didn't care, why should any reader care?  It's not like I'm getting paid for this, you know.

That being said, I did play around with this for almost two years, so I thought I'd stick the pared down chapter in the vault.

This Changes Everything

Chapter the First

Part 1 - Prologue

When she could, on Saturday mornings, Amelia Bones slept in. Once she awoke, she would brew a pot of coffee, read the paper and then look at any dispatches or logs that had arrived overnight, and then get sorted for the next work week. The headline on the latest edition of the Daily Prophet screamed “CEDRIC DIGORY DEAD IN PORTKEY ACCIDENT – POTTER WINS TRIWIZARD.” She heard a soft gong sound, indicating Apparation near the back gate. The foe glass next to the back door was its normal shade, so no one was approaching with hostile intent.

Amelia heard a knock at the door.

A wizard about her age, named Paxton, was at the door. He’d once been an Auror, and then left the department after the war with Voldemort. He’d ended up working as an investigator for Clovis Bones, her brother-in-law, a lawyer. She’d never been particularly close with Paxton, but she respected the man.

“Amelia, I’m glad I caught you at home,” Paxton said.

“What’s wrong?” Amelia asked.

“I think you and I both need to be sitting down,” Paxton murmured.

Amelia asked if he wanted coffee, received a negative reply and then returned to chair at the kitchen table, pushing the assorted papers into a pile.

“I think Clovis is dead,” Paxton said.

“What?” Amelia barked.

“Clovis works most Saturdays when Hogwarts is in session. Most weeks I drop in by eight o’clock or so and he’s usually been there for at least an hour.

“This morning I went to the office like usual and found it was a mess. His inner office was a shambles. There were scorch marks on the walls and a pool of blood behind the desk. Written on the wall, in blood, was ‘REPAYMENT.’”

“I take it there’s no body?” Amelia asked.

“No body,” Paxton said. “I sealed the office after I did a quick test on the blood – it’s consistent with Clovis, but that doesn’t mean a lot, his blood type is common.”

“Why didn’t you call the Aurors?” Amelia asked.

“What do you think I’m doing now?” Paxton replied. “I took the liberty of visiting his Muggle bank, pulling the grimoire out of the lock box for the law practice. Is there any magic that you can do with it to see if he’s still alive?”

Amelia sat, clenching her jaw. She removed the pince-nez glasses she used for reading.

“I’m afraid not,” Amelia said. “Josiah never read me into the grimoire for access. Legally I’m a Bones, but as far as the grimoire’s concerned, I’m an outsider.”

“Crap,” Paxton said.

“What’s your gut say?” Amelia asked.

“He’s dead,” Paxton replied. “During the war he didn’t exactly play nice with the Death Eaters. There have been rumblings this year that they’re getting active again, so that’s my first guess. I just hope they’re not going to turn his body into an Inferi.”

“Someone’s got to tell Susan,” Amelia said.

“That’s the other reason I’m talking to you,” Paxton replied.

“Can she stay with you?” Amelia asked.

“No,” Paxton answered immediately. “I live in a studio apartment; there’s no room for a fifteen year old witch, and people would talk if I moved in to her Da’s place once she comes home for the summer,” Paxton answered.

“Why would you care?” Amelia asked.

“Because I don’t want people to talk about Missy that way,” Paxton shot back. “I don’t have the greatest of reputations in certain circles.”

Pointing to the newspaper headline Amelia said “Fudge is saying that the Diggory death was an accident.”

“That’s not what I hear,” Paxton said.

“Oh, and what are you hearing?”

“I’m hearing that he’s back.” The “he” was implied.

“Fudge doesn’t think so, and he’s not letting us investigate,” Amelia said.

“Since when does he have the authority to order that?” Paxton asked. “Never mind, forget I even raised the question.”

“Are you sober these days?” Amelia asked.

“I haven’t been drunk since I was asked to leave the Aurors, and I haven’t had a drink since Clovis asked me to start looking out for Missy after her mum died,” Paxton answered.

“Can you work for me?” Amelia asked.

“What?” Paxton asked incredulously.

“Come next week, Susan will be out of school. I’m the closest thing she has to family, so she’ll be living with me, and I’ll need someone to keep an eye on her, the way you did for Clovis. Plus, I think I need to have an experienced investigator working for me who doesn’t have to worry about losing his ministry pension,” Amelia explained.

“So am I working for Amelia or the Director?” Paxton asked.

“The Director may issue you a badge, but you’ll be getting paid by Amelia,” she replied. “If I match what Clovis was paying will that be acceptable?”

“Probably, money’s not been all that important to me if I can pay my bills,” Paxton replied. “What am I investigating?”

“Clovis’ death, primarily, but I think a deep background on Harry Potter is in order.”

“When are we going to tell Missy?” Paxton asked.

“Can you come up to Scotland with me tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I’ll drop by here and we can go together,” Paxton answered.

#@#

Chapter the First - Part 2

Sunday Changes Everything

My name is Susan Bones; I’m fifteen, one of the older girls in my year at school. Physically, the operative word is nondescript. I’m not too tall, not too short. My hair, usually worn in a plait; is “strawberry blonde” which means it’s not really red and not really blonde. My eyes are either dull blue or dull green, depending on lighting and circumstances. The best thing that can be said about my figure is that I kinda have one. I have a waist, and, thankfully, in this boob obsessed world, enough bust that I’m usually not mistaken for a boy.

As of sometime last Friday night, I became an orphan.

A few words about the family I no longer have. My father, Clovis, had two brothers, Josiah and Edgar, both of whom were murdered at the order of the pretender, the so-called Lord Voldemort. Edgar had a wife and children. There are pictures where I’m present with my cousins, but I don’t remember ever being with them; I was a babe in arms at the time. Voldemort got the whole family, Edgar, his wife Priscilla, and my three cousins.

Josiah was a newlywed when he died. His wife of two weeks, Amelia, managed to not get murdered with her husband because she was back to work as an Auror and was responding to a different call on a different Death Eater attack. She learned that she was a widow at the end of her shift when she went home. No one had managed to put two and two together to figure out that Senior Auror Zohar, just back from her honeymoon, was now properly called Senior Auror Bones.

My father survived the first war, taking a behind-the-scenes role as a prosecutor under Bartemius Crouch. He’d married a half-blood he’d met at school and during the last years of the first war, I was born. Oddly enough, given the family history, Mum died of natural causes when I was eight. By that time Da was a solicitor in private practice serving both magical and mundane clientele.

For as long as I can remember, Da had an investigator named Paxton who more or less worked for him full time. After Mum died, Paxton became my nanny, although no one dared to use the title in his presence. Da got me to school in the mornings, and Paxton picked me up at the end of the day. On extremely dull days Paxton would make sure that I’d do my homework in a little office next to Da’s, but the best days were when Paxton took me “out into the field.”

On more than one occasion I’d provide his cover, usually by being a kid, playing in a park or something similar. He’d watch me play and simultaneously keep some miscreant under surveillance. I won’t talk about how useful I might have been in placing magical or mundane listening devices, because that certainly never happened, mercy me, that would be illegal .

This year at school was the spectacle of the Triwizard Tournament, and Thursday, June 24, was the third task. By the end of Thursday, Cedric Diggory was dead, Harry Potter was the Triwizard Champion and rumors began flying through the castle. The leading rumors were: Cedric died in a Portkey accident; Cedric was murdered by Harry Potter after beating him to the goal at the end of the maze, and finally, that Voldemort was back and Cedric died at his command.

#@#

The day after the second task, Friday, was an exam day and I dutifully wrote essays and did practical exercises. Sunday morning I got a summons to the office of my head of house. When I opened the door and saw Paxton and Aunt Amelia sitting there together, the first words out of my mouth were “Da’s dead, isn’t he?”

I don’t know for sure if they ever answered me, because I sat down hard in a chair. I wanted to curl up into a ball, but I probably did something half-arsed stoic like sit there and whimper. I remember Paxton hugging me, and that I blew my nose and wiped my face, thankful that I still had my hair in a plait because I really didn’t want to get snot in my hair. I composed myself and asked Paxton “what do we know?”

Paxton cleared his throat, sat back down and began to report. I’d seen him do it hundreds of times.

“I went into the office on Saturday at the usual time. I’d brought your Da some coffee from the shop he likes around the corner. His office was a mess; there were scorch marks on the walls and a pool of blood behind the desk. I did a quick field test before I left the office; it’s the same blood type as your Da, but O+ isn’t all that rare, so that’s not conclusive.

“Written on the wall in blood was the word ‘REPAYMENT’ in block print, all capital letters. Your Da’s appointment book was missing the page for that day, but Brigit’s book showed the last appointment of the day as being a Mister or Miss Yareva. My money’s on Mister, because it looked like there was a pretty physical fight, wands and fists. No body, no dark mark, but I’m fairly certain that your Da’s not alive,” Paxton said.

“I don’t want to believe that,” I said. “Did you get the grimoire?”

“Yes, Missy,” he said, a note of resignation in his voice. He turned to Auntie, who reached into her bag and pulled out an old, leather bound book. She handed it to Paxton, who then handed it to me.

I felt a spark when I touched the cover of the book.

“Oh, shite,” I muttered under my breath. Auntie shot me a dirty look for conduct unbecoming a lady, but didn’t go beyond that.

“I am Susan Amelia Bones,” I said in my best recitation-in-class voice and then opened the book.

There on the first page in silver ink was a new entry, “Susan Amelia Bones, Bones of Bones” with the day’s date.

“I’m so sorry, Missy,” Paxton said.

“Your father was a good man, Susan and we will all miss him,” Auntie said.

Nothing was said for a while after that. Professor Sprout handed me a box of tissues, my handkerchief being overtaxed for the moment.

“I need your help, Susan,” Auntie said.

“Mine? For what?” I replied.

“Fudge has ruled Cedric Diggory’s death to be due to Portkey accident, without any investigation from my office, and has prohibited us from even opening one,” Auntie said.

“He can’t do that,” I objected.

“You and I know that, but I’m not particularly eager to provoke a confrontation right now, not unless I know that I can win the day and end up with a better Minister,” Auntie said, using her ‘this-is-an-educational-moment’ voice.

“What can I do?” I asked.

“I need to know everything about Harry Potter – I think he can give us information from what happened at the Third Task that may shed some light on your father’s death,” she said.

“I barely know him, and school’s letting out at the end of this week,” I objected.

“I have a suggestion,” Auntie said.

#@#

Chapter the First - Part Three

The Leaving

#@#

Thursday was the leaving feast. It was also the one-week anniversary of the death of Cedric Diggory.

"The end," said Dumbledore, looking around at them all, "of another year."

He paused, and his eyes fell upon the Hufflepuff table. Theirs had been the most subdued table before he had gotten to his feet, and theirs were still the saddest and palest faces in the Hall.

"There is much that I would like to say to you all tonight," said Dumbledore, "but I must first acknowledge the loss of a very fine person, who should be sitting here," he gestured toward the Hufflepuffs, "enjoying our feast with us. I would like you all, please, to stand, and raise your glasses, to Cedric Diggory."

They did it, all of them; the benches scraped as everyone in the Hall stood, and raised their goblets, and echoed, in one loud, low, rumbling voice, "Cedric Diggory."

"Cedric was a person who exemplified many of the qualities that distinguish Hufflepuff house," Dumbledore continued. "He was a good and loyal friend, a hard worker, he valued fair play. His death has affected you all, whether you knew him well or not. I think that you have the right, therefore, to know exactly how it came about."

Harry raised his head and stared at Dumbledore.

"Cedric Diggory was murdered by Lord Voldemort."

A panicked whisper swept the Great Hall. People were staring at Dumbledore in disbelief, in horror. He looked perfectly calm as he watched them mutter themselves into silence.

"The Ministry of Magic," Dumbledore continued, "does not wish me to tell you this. It is possible that some of your parents will be horrified that I have done so - either because they will not believe that Lord Voldemort has returned, or because they think I should not tell you so, young as you are. It is my belief, however, that the truth is generally preferable to lies, and that any attempt to pretend that Cedric died as the result of an accident, or some sort of blunder of his own, is an insult to his memory."

Stunned and frightened, every face in the Hall was turned toward Dumbledore now... or almost every face. Over at the Slytherin table, Harry saw Draco Malfoy muttering something to Crabbe and Goyle. Harry felt a hot, sick swoop of anger in his stomach. He forced himself to look back at Dumbledore.

"There is somebody else who must be mentioned in connection with Cedric’s death," Dumbledore went on. "I am talking, of course, about Harry Potter."

A kind of ripple crossed the Great Hall as a few heads turned in Harry's direction before flicking back to face Dumbledore.

"Harry Potter managed to escape Lord Voldemort," said Dumbledore. "He risked his own life to return Cedric's body to Hogwarts. He showed, in every respect, the sort of bravery that few wizards have ever shown in facing Lord Voldemort, and for this, I honor him."

Dumbledore turned gravely to Harry and raised his goblet once more. Nearly everyone in the Great Hall followed suit. They murmured his name, as they had murmured Cedric's, and drank to him. But through a gap in the standing figures Harry saw that Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and many of the other Slytherins had remained defiantly in their seats, their goblets untouched. Dumbledore, who after all possessed no magical eye, did not see them.

When everyone had once again resumed their seats, Dumbledore continued, "The Triwizard Tournament's aim was to further and promote magical understanding. In the light of what has happened - of Lord Voldemort’s return - such ties are more important than ever before."

Dumbledore looked from Madame Maxime and Hagrid, to Fleur Delacour and her fellow Beauxbatons students, to Viktor Krum and the Durmstrangs at the Slytherin table. Krum, Harry saw, looked wary, almost frightened, as though he expected Dumbledore to say something harsh.

"Every guest in this Hall," said Dumbledore, and his eyes lingered upon the Durmstrang students, "will be welcomed back here at any time, should they wish to come. I say to you all, once again - in the light of Lord Voldemort's return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

"It is my belief - and never have I so hoped that I am mistaken - that we are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this Hall have already suffered directly at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Many of your families have been torn asunder. A week ago, a student was taken from our midst.

"Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory."

Dumbledore then sat down; it was obvious that the feast was over. Benches scraped on the stone floor and students began milling around.

Harry startled when he felt a hand on his shoulder. His closest friends knew not to come at him from behind.

"Harry, I'm sorry I didn’t get a chance to talk to you earlier,” Susan began.

Harry gave her a blank look, and then nodded.

“I – I just wanted to say thanks, thanks for bringing Cedric’s body back,” Susan said, her voice a marked change from her usual chipper tone.

“Not exactly something where I should say ‘you’re welcome’ I guess,” Harry said quietly. “You know, we reached the cup at the same time. I said we should both take it, it’d be a victory for Hogwarts. Now he’s dead.

“Well, anyways, thanks, Harry,” Susan said, nodding her own head before turning and merging back into the crowd of milling students.

#@#

Part IV

Meanwhile, in Little Whinging

It was not quite supper time on Thursday at the Dursley house. Vernon was enjoying his last natural night for the summer before his unnatural nephew came home.

The doorbell rang.

“Could you get it, Vernon?” Petunia called. “I’m covered in flour and I don’t want to interrupt what I’m doing.”

Vernon fumed. He didn’t want to get up, but then again, he didn’t want to jeopardize the pie Petunia was making.

“Certainly, Pet,” he said.

He opened the door, casting an appraising eye at a workman standing on his threshold.

“Mr. Vernon Dursley?”

“Aye, that’s me,” Vernon said.

“I’m Paxton, with Paxton Lawn Service.”

“We don’t need any lawn service,” Vernon said dismissively.

“Oh, I’m not calling about that,” Paxton said. “I’ve heard you have a nephew.”

“Aye, what’s it to you?” Vernon growled.

“I’m looking to hire some more day laborers and your nephew was suggested by one of your neighbors,” Paxton said cheerfully.

“He’s not totally useless in the garden,” Vernon said.

“I’d like to hire him for the summer. I would, of course, remit his wages to you; I wouldn’t want him to squander it and have nothing left at the end of the summer when he goes back to school.”

“Remit to me?” Vernon asked. “How often?”

“Every two weeks on Friday,” Paxton said.

“Cash or check?”

“Cash, but it’ll be in a sealed envelope with a paystub so you’ll know he’s not skimming.”

“I think, Mr. Paxton,” Vernon said with a smile “that we may have a deal.”

“He’ll need to buy a uniform,” Paxton said, “we can deduct it from his wages, or we can see what we have kicking around at the office.”

“Start him off with what’s around the office,” Vernon said “until you know he’s going to work out.”

“I can see you’re a man of business, Mr. Dursley,” Paxton said unctuously.

“Yes,” Vernon said smugly. “He comes back from school tomorrow.”

“I’ll be by the day after then?”

“Excellent,” Vernon concluded.

After the door closed, Vernon smiled broadly.

“Good news, Pet,” Vernon announced.

#@#

Vernon was the only Dursley present at the station. He looked at Harry and then began walking away at what was a fast clip for an overweight man.

They reached the car, Vernon making an off-hand motion that Harry was to sit in the back.

“You start a job tomorrow,” Vernon growled. “Bloke named Paxton is hiring you for lawn work. There’s a package next to you in the seat, it’s your uniform.”

Harry found a brown grocery bag stuffed with tan trousers and shirts, some underwear and some sturdy looking trainers. He didn’t know if it would fit, but after years of wearing Dudley’s cast-off clothing, he was certain he could improvise something . At the station he’d told Hedwig to go hunting, knowing that she’d come back to Privet Drive in the evening, provided that he left his window open.

Once he got home he pulled his trunk and Hedwig’s cage up the stairs, somewhat surprised that Vernon didn’t lock everything up in the cupboard as he’d done in prior years. Once in his room he dumped the contents of the grocery bag on the bed. Out fell two tan colored shirts, a pair of trainers (black), four pairs of socks (two white, two grey), two tan trousers, a tan baseball style cap that had “Paxton” embroidered on the front in red thread and a small envelope that said “Master Harry Potter” on the front of it.

Harry took off his ratty trainers, and put on fresh socks and the new trainers, standing up to assess the fit and feel. The trainers were exceptionally comfortable, although it took some getting used to a shoe that actually fit and didn’t need to be spellotaped to stay together. He then put his finger under the lid of the envelope and tore it open.

Dear Harry,

I will introduce myself properly tomorrow, but for now know that I’m a friend of Susan Bones.

This letter was spelled with Muggle repelling charms, so it’s likely that Vernon will never see it, but I suggest that you destroy it afterwards anyway. Susan gave me her best guess as to your sizes, so I purchased clothing accordingly.

If anything doesn’t fit, we can either make it fit, or purchase new that will fit. Vernon may or may not have told you that I’ve hired you to work for me over the summer. To seal the deal I told him that I’d be remitting your pay to him.

My estimation of the man is that you’ll never see any money remitted to Vernon, so you’ll find twenty quid in this envelope. Every young lad should have some money in his pocket when walking around.

Paxton

#@#

From the extremely confidential diary of Susan A. Bones

Like I’ve said before, I’m used to working with Paxton. On Saturday morning Paxton showed up at Aunty’s house. I was ready, dressed in the tan uniform of Paxton Lawn Service. There really is a Paxton Lawn Service, it’s run by some sort of distant relation to Paxton, and I’ve actually worked for the company in the past when I wanted to earn some pocket money, but usually I’m there as some sort of cover for a surveillance that Paxton was running. The uniform is not particularly flattering uniform if you’re a teenage girl – but then again, I was never particularly impressed in how my backside appears when I’m wearing trousers. I suppose the current Muggle fashion of low-rise jeans is worse, being both uncomfortable and unflattering, so I should be grateful.

This morning I loaded into the pickup truck and we drove out to Surrey.

“Paxton?” I asked.

“Hmm, Missy?” he replied.

“What’s Harry’s family like?”

“Miserable,” Paxton replied. “This is the place – Harry’s not-so-happy-home.”

I let that pass without comment.

Paxton parked the truck by the kerb and stopped the engine. I moved to open my door, but he put out his hand with a cautioning wave.

He then left the truck, walking up the neatly groomed sidewalk to Number Four Privet Drive.

After a conversation I couldn’t hear, Harry stepped out of the house, dressed in the bland tan uniform of Paxton Lawn Service.

Jeepers, it’s so unfair, on him it looked good!

I stepped out of the cab of the truck so as to flip the seat forward and climb into the jump seat in the back. Harry gave me a shy smile and a wave as he stepped into the truck.

“I assume that we don’t need introductions,” Paxton said blandly as he started the truck and headed to the motorway.

We drove for ten minutes or so and ended up in a light commercial area, townhouses that might be doctor’s offices or accountants. After settling into the safe house Paxton was using for Harry’s debriefing (which sounds either pretentious or slightly smutty) I walked down to a little diner to pick up breakfast and coffee.

+@+

Paxton led Harry into the townhouse which might have been a doctor’s office or some other business place. At what looked like a reception desk, Paxton took off his cap and walked into a room cluttered with side tables and a large conference table surrounded by chairs.

On the table top were a Muggle tape recorder, note pads and what Harry recognized as a dictaquill.

“I’m Paxton,” the man said, extending his hand to Harry.

“I kind of guessed as much,” Harry said. “Do you really own a lawn service?”

Paxton laughed.

“There is another Paxton, some sort of cousin of mine, who really does own a lawn service. I’ve borrowed his trucks and uniforms for years,” Paxton said.

Paxton dug into this trouser pocket pulled out an old, battered leather case, opening it and putting in on the table in front of Harry.

“My credentials,” Paxton said.

Harry looked at it, not knowing for sure what Auror credentials should look like.

“Let me tell you a little story about how I got here today,” Paxton said.

“I went to Hogwarts, same as you, but I left after I got my OWLs. I worked for a while in my cousin’s business and then enlisted in Her Majesty’s Army, ending up in the military police as an investigator. I decided that I didn’t want to make that a career, and got out.

“This was about ten years before you were born. Voldemort was beginning to make trouble, and the Ministry was trying to expand the Auror Corps, so I went downtown and applied.”

“How could you get in without NEWTs?” Harry asked.

“Didn’t need NEWTs then,” Paxton said, laughing. “I did about a year of training to learn the Auror way of doing things and then was thrown into the war.

“Nasty business that, although I did manage to meet your Dad once, years later, but we never worked together.

“The war ended, and I was asked to leave the Auror Corps as I’d developed a bit of a love affair with the bottle. It took a while to dry out.

“Clovis Bones, Susan’s father, offered me a job as in investigator in his law practice. At first it was little things, and then it worked into a full time position.

“When Susan’s mum died, Clovis asked me to help out, picking her up from school and the like.

“I’m the guy who discovered the Clovis had been murdered at his office, we’ll get into the details later. I came to Susan’s aunt, Amelia Bones, and she hired me to work as an investigator. Officially I’m looking into Clovis’ death, but I’m also looking into your allegation that Voldemort’s back.”

“Why you?” Harry asked.

“Minister Fudge is playing stupid, thinking that if he can say that Voldemort’s not back often enough, it’ll be true. I’m not counting on working long enough to get a pension from the Ministry, so I have the freedom to tell Fudge to get bent when he discovers that parts of the DMLE don’t buy his manure.”

“What’s Madam Bones think?” Harry asked.

“She thinks you’re telling the truth, but she can’t prove it yet. I’m looking for proof.”

“Okay.”

Thus began an interrogation that went on for two days.

<<Snip this>>

Susan came into the office carrying a large paper bag. She put it down on the table and put a foil wrapped cylinder in front of Harry; she then held her hand out to Paxton and dropped a collection of notes and coins into his outstretched hand.

“The Greek makes a breakfast of eggs and other stuff all wrapped in a thin flatbread. If you have a bit of dexterity, you can eat it with one hand, which made it popular with Aurors on surveillance jobs.

“Coffee or tea?”

“Tea please.”

Paxton got up and headed into another part of the office.

Susan unwrapped her breakfast and began biting bits off one end.

“Hard to eat it in a dainty fashion,” she said “but it’s really good.”

Harry unwrapped his own cylinder, tantalizing smells rose with the steam. He took a bite and rolled it around in his mouth.

“That’s not bacon,” he said.

“It’s lamb,” Susan said.

“Never had lamb, but this is good.”

Paxton returned with tea. Harry sweetened his and sipped cautiously as the mug was steaming.

Paxton returned to his seat and unwrapped his breakfast, murmuring appreciatively as he ate.

When breakfast and tea was done, Harry collected the mugs and found his way to the kitchen, washing the mugs and setting them on the counter to dry. He then visited the loo and went back to the conference room.

Paxton began with a check of the tape recorder and then the dictaquill, making sure that it was picking up their voices transcribing properly.

Paxton began narrating an introduction.

“It’s 10:00 on Saturday the third day of July. I’m Clement Paxton, Special Inspector under Amelia Bones, Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

“With me is Harry Potter, our interview subject and Susan Bones, who is assisting me in this inquiry.

“I have not given Mr. Potter any rights advisements as he is neither a suspect or a person of interest in this inquiry. He is believed to be a potential witness who may have material information pertaining to the disappearance and suspected homicide of Clovis Bones on the twenty-fifth day of June.

“Let’s start with some background. Where were you born, Mr. Potter?”

“I’m not sure,” Harry answered.

“Where are you currently residing?”

“I’m living with my aunt, uncle and cousin in Little Whinging.”

“How long have you lived with this family?”

“Since shortly after my parents were murdered by Voldemort, I was a year and a half old at the time.”

“Do you remember anything about your parents?”

Harry began to squirm uncomfortably.

“Until a year ago, I didn’t remember anything. Last year I was exposed to Dementors. When I’m near them, I hear the last few minutes of my parents’ lives before they were killed.”

“Did you witness these murders?”

“I didn’t see my dad’s death; I remember seeing a green flash from the stairwell, as Mum had taken me upstairs. I remember seeing a green flash in the nursery and seeing Mum fall down. There was another green flash after that, but I don’t remember much afterwards.”

“What’s the name of the family you’re living with?”

“Vernon and Petunia Dursley, my cousin’s name is Dudley.”

“Is this a magical family?”

“No sir, they’re Muggles.”

“How did you come to live with them?”

“I don’t know, sir, Petunia is my mum’s sister.”

“How do you get along with this family?”

“Can we stop the interview for a minute?” Harry asked.

Paxton stopped the tape recorder and then paused the dictaquill looking up at Harry.

“If you’re going to ask me more about the Dursleys, can Susan leave?” Harry asked.

Paxton nodded at Susan, who got up from the table and left the room.

“Before I start up again, why do you want Susan to leave?” Paxton asked.

“Not many people know about what it’s like living with the Dursleys,” Harry replied.

Paxton pondered this, and then started up the tape recorder again.

“Interview resuming. Susan Bones has left the room. Tell me about how you get along with the Dursleys.”

“It’s pretty bad. They hate magic, and don’t particularly like me,” Harry said. “My cousin punches and hits me and chases me with his gang of friends – he calls it ‘Harry hunting.’”

“Do Vernon or Petunia know about this?”

“Yes.”

“Do they strike you?”

“Not as much as they used to – now it’s mainly a lot of yelling and bad talk, saying that I’m unnatural, useless, and that I’ll be a shiftless bum like my mum and dad. I didn’t know that I was a wizard until my Hogwarts letter came when I was eleven.”

“Did you have bouts of accidental magic before starting at Hogwarts?”

“Yeah, and I was usually punished for it,” Harry said. “Before I got my Hogwarts letter I slept in a cupboard under the stairs. They’d lock me in there without meals as a form of punishment. I got a few whippings from Vernon with a belt, and Petunia hit me with a frying pan when she got mad at me once, I think I’d dropped something in the kitchen. That’s when she broke my arm. I was eight at the time.”

“I think we have enough background with the Dursleys, can Susan return?”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” Harry said.

“It wasn’t your fault, Harry,” Paxton said sympathetically.

“I know, it’s still not very comfortable,” Harry said.

+@+

“Let’s talk about the third task,” Paxton said.

“Okay.”

“What happened when you entered the maze?”

“Well, it was a maze – big hedges. There was a section in which gravity was reversed, another that was total darkness; there was a Sphinx that asked you a riddle to let you go by, some Blast-Ended Skrewts, that’s a monster that Hagrid bred, stuff like that.

“Krum was torturing Delacour, I think he was under Imperius. I stunned Krum and sent up sparks. Close to the end of the maze was an Acromantula, a big spider. Cedric almost got to the cup before me, but he got nabbed by the spider. I blasted the spider.

“I said that Cedric should go first, but he wanted me to go first, so we decided that we’d grab the cup together. It was a Portkey.”

“Where did you arrive?”

“It was a graveyard – I don’t know where. We were by the grave of Tom Riddle – that’s Tom Riddle Senior, Voldemort’s father. Voldemort’s real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle,” Harry explained.

“How do you know that?” Paxton asked.

“It’s something I learned in my second year,” Harry said.

“Okay, we’ll go back to that later,” Paxton said. “What happened when you arrived?”

“I heard a voice call out ‘kill the spare’ and Peter Pettigrew cast Avada Kedavra at Cedric Diggory,” Harry said.

“How do you know it was Peter Pettigrew?” Paxton asked.

“I met him last year,” Harry explained.

“We’ll get back to that too,” Paxton said. “How do you know it was Avada Kedavra?”

“It’s what I heard Pettigrew call, then I saw a green flash, then Cedric was dead,” Harry said, sniffling a bit.

“I was banged up from the Port key landing; Pettigrew dragged me off and tied me up to the tombstone for Tom Riddle Senior. Pettigrew had some sort of Homunculus; it looked like a scaly cross between a snake and a human baby. There was a cauldron brewing, Pettigrew put the Homunculus into the cauldron and then added a bone from Tom Riddle Senior, then he cut off his own hand, tossing it into the cauldron and then he added some blood he took from me.

“The cauldron started spitting out sparks like crazy and then I saw a thin snaky looking man arise from the cauldron – Voldemort had a body again.

“What happened after that?”

“Voldemort took Pettigrew’s good arm and put his finger to the Dark Mark, calling the Death Eaters back to him,” Harry said.

“Then what?”

“They started to arrive – they were in black robes and masks,” Harry said.

“Did you see any of them without masks?” Paxton asked.

“No.”

“Did you recognize any of them?”

“Lucius Malfoy I know, he was there – Voldemort called him ‘Lucius my slippery friend’ or something like that,” Harry said.

“What happened then?”

“Voldemort made a new hand for Pettigrew – it looked like it was silver metal of some sort. Then he started casting Crucio on one of the Death Eaters, someone he called Avery. Avery asked to be forgiven and Voldemort said ‘You ask for forgiveness? I do not forgive. I do not forget. Thirteen long years ... I want thirteen years' repayment before I forgive you.’ At least I think those were his words,” Harry said.

“Did he name any of the others?”

“Lucius Malfoy, but I already said that, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Walden McNair, he’s in the Ministry, I met him last year too,” Harry said.

The interview went on for the rest of the day, telling and retelling the story of what happened in the graveyard. In between recitations, Paxton coaxed the story of what happened to Harry at Hogwarts in his first, second and third year, and in this past year, his dealings with Bartemius Crouch Junior, polyjuiced as Alastor Moody.

#@#

Chapter the First -Part V

Summary Debrief

Wednesday, July 7

Amelia signed her last memorandum, countersigned two purchase requests, and put the rest of the ordinary paperwork into her portfolio for review at her leisure. The majority of Ministry workers had gone home a half hour ago, so the common Floo station should be quiet by now, but she wasn’t planning on departing that way, instead she walked to the executive entrance, hoping that she wouldn’t run into Fudge or any of his minions.

Her hope appeared to be dashed. Walking into the ministry building through the executive entrance was Dolores Umbridge.

“Good Evening, Dolores,” Amelia said to Fudge’s bag lady.

“And a good evening to you, Amelia, I’m so glad you’re able to go home and enjoy spending time with your delightful niece,” Umbridge said.

“Yes, she is a charming young lady,” Amelia said in return.

She walked on into the hallway leading to the Apparation point. People coming into the Ministry Apparated to a location at street level. From there they walked through a guarded hallway that brought them to the executive level of the Ministry. People going out of the Ministry were able to Apparate from this one point that allowed out-bound Apparation only. Amelia had always contended that this point too should be guarded, but was summarily voted down in budget meetings year after year.

Once out of the Ministry building, she Apparated to a Muggle business area, walking into the townhouse office that Paxton had used for his debriefings. She smelled fried garlic when she entered the office; Paxton had procured Chinese take-out.

“Right on time, Amelia, I just got back with the food,” Paxton said.

“Where’s Susan?” she asked.

“She’s safely at the farmhouse, the wards are activated. I think the Abbot girl is coming over tonight,” Paxton reported.

“And Potter?”

“He’s back with his miserable relatives,” Paxton said.

“So, what do we know?” Amelia asked.

“We know a lot, but proving it’s another thing,” Paxton said philosophically. “Harry’s a good witness, I’ve interviewed him nonstop on Saturday and Sunday; his Pensieve memories are quite detailed, and when he’s paying attention his recall of dialogue is almost word perfect. A lot of these facts are from Harry’s testimony, confirmed by his Pensieve memories, but if he’s crazy, like Fudge is saying, his memories are no good as evidence. After the interviews, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday doing investigation, confirming what he’s said – it all checks out.”

“So, here’s what we know.”

“James and Lily Potter died October 31, 1981 at their cottage in Godric’s Hollow in Wales. Potter has a short recollection of that evening that’s consistent with the evidence from the crime scene. It’s not common knowledge that James’ body was found on the stairwell and Lily was in the nursery, but that’s how he remembers it, poor sod,” Paxton said, getting into his storytelling mode.

“Someone spirited him away from the cottage and on the evening of November 2, 1981, Potter was left in a basket, bundled up in a blanket with a note on the doorstep of Vernon and Petunia Dursley. Potter’s location on November 1, 1981 is unknown. He has no memory of the event and we don’t have any witnesses, not yet.

“James Potter used the same solicitor that Charlus Potter had retained, so there was a copy of the Potter will on file there. The old solicitor gladly shared it with me, assuming that the will had already been read and executed. I did not tell him anything to the contrary.

“Under the terms of the will, Harry was to be left with Frank Longbottom, Sirius Black or Andromeda Tonks, but under no circumstances was he to be placed with the Dursley family.”

“Can you speculate why?” Amelia asked.

“Vernon Dursley is a close-minded bigot who makes the most rabid blood-purist look warm and kind; he hates magic in any form. He’s a mid-level manager at a manufacturing company; his wife stays home full time. There’s a boy there about Harry’s age, named Dudley. Vernon and Dudley are morbidly obese, while Petunia is two steps away from anorexia.

“The Dursleys were physically and psychologically abusive to Harry, never buying him anything as ‘spending money on a freak would be wasteful.’ Harry did all the chores while Dudley was spoiled and is turning into a little hoodlum. On at least two occasions school personnel, one teacher and one nurse, reported suspected physical abuse. In each instance, there’s a documentary record of the report, but the complaining witnesses have no recollection of making the report. Harry’s school file was charmed with a notice-me-not charm, a Confundus hex and an alarm ward. I bypassed all of them before I reviewed the file.

“Conclusion?” Amelia asked.

“Someone knew about the abuse and took action to silence the witnesses, probably Obliviating them, but I didn’t examine them long enough to look for evidence of Obliviation. Harry said that Dumbledore was most insistent that he had to stay with the Dursleys, even after he entered Hogwarts, so my money’s on Dumbledore, but I can’t prove that.”

“So Harry’s life is nothing like what John Q. Wizard imagines if he read any of the Boy-Who-Lived stories to his children,” Amelia said.

“Correct. Harry’s very embarrassed about his placement; I won’t dignify it by calling it ‘home life’ and asked that Susan be excused from the room when I asked him about it.”

“Did you?”

“Well, yes, in a manner of speaking. She went into the adjoining room and watched through a charmed mirror,” Paxton said. “No way in hell was I going to interview a minor without having a witness.”

“His time at Hogwarts was extremely eventful, and most of the stories haven’t made their way into the public view.”

“Oh?”

“First year, Dumbledore was storing Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone at Hogwarts when he had reason to believe that Voldemort’s agents were interested in acquiring the stone. The former Muggle Studies teacher named Quirrell taught Defense that year. It turns out that he was possessed by a spirit being that identified itself as Voldemort. The possessed teacher tried to kill Harry, and Harry burned him to death, the apparent side effect of some magic that Lily had placed on Harry years ago.”

“That certainly never was made public,” Amelia said, her eyebrows rising.

“Second year an eccentric house elf from the Malfoy family tried to keep Harry from returning to Hogwarts. Gilderoy Lockhart was the Defense teacher that year, and something was set loose in the school that was petrifying students.”

“The petrifaction made the news,” Amelia said.

“It was a basilisk.”

“What?” Amelia said incredulously.

“You heard me correctly. It turns out that Harry’s a Parselmouth and could open Slytherin’s legendary Chamber of Secrets. Malfoy Senior had left a cursed artifact with a student, whom Harry would not identify, and that student was possessed, again by a spirit being that identified itself as Voldemort. Harry killed the basilisk with the sword of Gryffindor and used a basilisk fang to destroy the artifact. The basilisk is still in the Chamber of Secrets, we’re going to try to get Harry into the school this summer and have someone render the body, that is, if you approve.”

“The body’s his, the law is clear on that,” Amelia said.

“Third year, Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban,” Paxton says. “It turns out that Black didn’t betray the Potters, and he wasn’t their secret keeper. Peter Pettigrew is alive. He was an unregistered Animagus, as was Black. Black was a large black dog, Pettigrew was a common rat. Pettigrew, as a rat, had been hiding with the Weasley family for thirteen years. Sybil Trelawney delivered a prophecy that year, let me find my notes for the exact wording,” Paxton said, flipping through a binder of notes.

“Okay, here goes: ‘IT WILL HAPPEN TONIGHT. THE DARK LORD LIES ALONE AND FRIENDLESS, ABANDONED BY HIS FOLLOWERS. HIS SERVANT HAS BEEN CHAINED THESE TWELVE YEARS. TONIGHT,

BEFORE MIDNIGHT. THE SERVANT WILL BREAK FREE AND SET OUT TO REJOIN HIS MASTER. THE DARK LORD WILL RISE AGAIN WITH HIS SERVANTS AID, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN EVER HE WAS. TONIGHT. BEFORE MIDNIGHT THE SERVANT WILL SET OUT TO REJOIN HIS MASTER.’

“Now, get this, Harry reports this to Dumbledore after both Black and Pettigrew escape from the Hogwarts grounds. Dumbledore says ‘That brings her total of real predictions up to two. I should offer her a pay raise.’

“Dumbledore’s comment leads me to believe that there might be another prophesy about Harry stored in the Hall of Prophesy at the Ministry. If you okay it, I plan on taking Harry for a little covert field trip and see what we can find.”

“Approved, let me know the details,” Amelia said.

“Of course.”

“What of his fourth year?” Amelia asked.

“I’m not done with his third year yet. Lupin was teaching Defense that year and taught him the Patronus charm. Harry can cast a corporeal Patronus, it’s a big stag. He and Black were attacked by something over one hundred Dementors and he held them off with one Patronus.”

“Impressive,” Amelia said. “Did your debriefing shed any additional light on Barty Crouch Junior?”

“Not much beyond what we know,” Paxton said.

“On the night of the Third Task, the Cup was a Portkey. It took Cedric and Harry up to a graveyard, location as of yet unknown, but I have a lead. Pettigrew killed Cedric Diggory and then used some of Harry’s blood for a ritual that built a new body for Voldemort.

“Voldemort summoned a bunch of Death Eaters: Avery, Malfoy, McNair, Goyle, Crabbe, Nott and some others who weren’t named. Avery asked for forgiveness and Voldemort refused, saying that he wanted thirteen years of repayment ,” Paxton said, looking up from his notes.

“Repayment?” Amelia said. “He said ‘repayment’?”

“Yes, that very word. Harry pointed out that Yareva was probably a phonetic transcription of ‘Avery’ spelled backwards, which is about the level of sophistication for either Avery Senior or Junior. It appears that the lad did a lot of puzzles growing up and word jumbles are pretty easy for him.”

Avery – why didn’t we see that?” Amelia asked.

“Because we didn’t want to connect Voldemort getting a new body with the death of your brother in law?” Paxton replied.

“It was a rhetorical question, Paxton,” Amelia said.

“Yes, M’am,” Paxton said meekly, and then winked.

Amelia snorted. “So, Mr. Potter does indeed have material information to assist us in the investigation of Clovis Bones. Well done, Paxton. Any loose ends?”

Paxton fiddled with his biro.

“How many times have you ridden the Hogwarts Express, Amelia?” Paxton asked.

“Well, doing the maths, at least twenty-eight times,” Amelia answered, “not counting the times I’ve seen Susan off, which would be more.”

“So in young Harry’s first year, why would Molly Weasley be wandering around Kings Crossing asking in a loud voice which platform held the Hogwarts Express?” Paxton said.

“Is that what happened?” Amelia asked.

Paxton nodded.

“So either his best friend is Dumbledore’s agent, or his mum is Dumbledore’s agent,” Amelia concluded.

“I’d put money on the second option,” Paxton said, “but Ronald Weasley hasn’t been much of a good influence on Harry, and has done everything he can to keep students from other houses away from him.”

“Susan confirmed that?” Amelia asked.

Paxton nodded again.

“Does he know?”

Paxton shrugged. “I did the maths with him and let him draw his own conclusion. For now he’s not making any decisions, but he knows he’s going to have to do something when he goes back to school. By the way, he’s extremely happy to be getting away from the Dursleys six days a week. On days that I’m not interviewing him, he’s actually working for my cousin’s lawn service. Susan’s working there too.”

“How’s Susan?”

“Is that, ‘how is Susan dealing with her da’s death?’ or ‘are two teens together starting to click?’”

“Both?”

“Susan likes keeping busy. I’ve given some thought to doing some training for them both, physical and magical conditioning with them both. Susan’s doing about as well as can be expected with having just lost Clovis. On the other front, I think Susan thinks that Harry’s cute, but I don’t think either one of them is burning with passion of any variety,” Paxton said.

“Well, you know, nothing propinks like propinquity.”

“I read Fleming too, Amelia,” Paxton said.

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Author Notes:

So, this is the chapter - I may return to it some day, but that's unlikely.  Let me know what you think.  

Copyright (c) 2016 - John Cornell - all rights reserved.  Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling, but against everyone else in the universe, this is my story.

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