Actions

Work Header

Redivider

Chapter Text



Chaos at the Ministry!

Is Harry Potter the Dark Lord’s Annihilation, Ammunition, or Competition?

As the wizarding world is still reeling from the revelation that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has returned, new and disturbing information has surfaced surrounding the events that took place at the Ministry of Magic in late June.

Multiple eyewitness accounts have confirmed that Harry Potter confessed to using extensive dark arts during the confrontation between a small group of Hogwarts students and several Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries.

The confession has been corroborated by several wizards that were present at the scene soon after You-Know-Who was spotted in the Ministry. Potter was seen lifting a dark curse from Rasmus Nott, one of several Death Eaters that were arrested that night. Potter explained that he was the one that had originally placed the curse upon Nott, and he then implied that he had used dark arts repeatedly throughout the battle.

While younger wizards dabbling in the dark arts is certainly not unheard of, Nott’s state seems to indicate far more than mere experimentation on Potter’s part. Reports state that Nott had been ‘screaming bloody murder’ before Potter removed the curse, at which point he lapsed into ‘soul-wrenching sobs’ before finally falling silent hours later.

St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries has been unable to determine what curse was used against Nott, but they did release a statement that he has been catatonic since that night. Nott was admitted to the Janus Thickey ward at St Mungos when Mediwizards were unable to improve his mental state. Healers are confident that there are a select number of spells that can result in the injury laid upon Nott, and that it is only a matter of time before they cure him and release him to the Aurors posted at his door.

Several Healers at St Mungos were questioned concerning Nott’s state, but all declined to provide a comment outside of the official statement. However, considering their shocked reactions to the Daily Prophet’s questions, the Healers were seemingly unaware that Potter was the cause of Nott’s catatonia.

It has also been reported that Draco Malfoy, another Hogwarts student who accompanied Potter to the Ministry, had just been accused of using blood magic before Potter removed the curse and then made his confession. Draco Malfoy is the only son of Lucius Malfoy, another of the Death Eaters that were taken into Ministry custody.

Some of the witnesses to Potter’s confession are concerned that Potter, as well as the younger Malfoy, may have only been allowed to remain free due to a technicality. Per a previous Wizengamot ruling, the use of some dark arts spells are permitted in times of war as a form of self-defense. The reappearance of You-Know-Who was considered to be a sign that our world is again at war, thus resulting in Potter’s use of the dark arts to be permitted.

Considering the current state of Rasmus Nott and the fact that Potter did not remove the curse until well after the battle was over, many witnesses are wondering if Potter should have been arrested for his actions despite the technicality.

“He only made his confession when Draco Malfoy was about to be taken into custody,” one witness reported. “It makes you wonder what their ties are, and what Potter’s ties are to a known Death Eater. Wouldn’t be surprised if Potter was actually working with You-Know-Who to get to that prophecy!”

We must reiterate that the existence of a prophecy has not been confirmed. As previously reported, the events in the Department of Mysteries are rumored to have been centered on the legendary Hall of Prophecy, and on one specific prophecy concerning Harry Potter and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Most Ministry staff have always denied the existence of the hall, but their denial does little to stop the swirl of theories as to what such a prophecy may contain. Many were going so far as to call Potter ‘The Chosen One,’ believing that this prophecy may have named him as the one who will finally defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The recent information on Potter’s involvement in the dark arts have stirred up a new wave of alarming speculation.

Is Potter destined to defeat You-Know-Who once again? Is Potter meant to stand at You-Know-Who’s side? Or perhaps Potter is meant to replace He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? Could the wizarding world see the rise of a third dark lord in less than a century?

This is not the first time Potter has been suspected of being a dark wizard. (For more information on Potter’s Parseltongue abilities, turn to page four.)

Harry did not turn to page four.

Instead, his eyes drifted back up the page to the picture of him. It was an old photo, taken just after the first task in his fourth year. He couldn’t believe how much younger he looked. He appeared dirty and furious, and although Harry knew that the anger had been directed at Rita Skeeter, he knew that the vast majority of the wizarding world would see him as dangerous and unstable, just as they usually did.

It was the worst photo the Prophet could have picked. Although he supposed that in their eyes, it was the best possible photo to use.

The Prophet really wanted to sell their story. Unlike with Skeeter’s stories of rubbish, though, this one was very, very true. Aside from the speculation about him possibly working with Voldemort or actually being the next dark lord, everything had actually happened.

Except he hadn’t known that Nott had been unconscious since that night.

He’d been expecting a story that only covered his confession. For some reason, what he’d done to Rasmus Nott had almost become an afterthought.

“Should I…” He paused, taking in a shaking breath. “I should write Theo,” he said quietly.

“Who is Theo, Harry?” Andromeda asked.

“Theodore Nott,” Harry said. “He’s my roommate… and my friend.” In fact, Theo had been the first Slytherin to call Harry a ‘friend.’ “And I put his father in St Mungo’s.”

Before Andromeda could respond, there was a clatter at the window. Harry finally tore his eyes away from the front page to see at least four owls sitting outside, all clambering to be first in line.

Ted unhooked his wife’s firm grip from his arm to open the window, and feathers seemed to erupt in the dining room. It took the combined efforts of Andromeda, Ted, and Harry to help several owls find spots to land and retrieve their letters. When they’d finally ushered the last owl back outside, Ted kissed Andromeda on the cheek.

“I have to go to work, unfortunately. Long shift again,” he said before turning to Harry. “Sorry I can’t stay around to help, but you’re in good hands.”

Harry might have imagined it, but he could have sworn he saw relief bloom over Ted’s face as he turned to leave. He wasn’t sure if Ted was relieved to not have to deal with the small pile of letters for Harry - some of them clearly Howlers - or if he was relieved to get out of Harry’s presence. He supposed that after learning Harry had put someone in St Mungo’s, he wouldn’t blame Ted if it was the latter.

Andromeda made quick work of the Howlers. The red envelopes lifted into the air and dissolved into ashes before they could explode. “You’ll… have to teach me that one,” Harry said.

“Since this is likely only a taste of what you’ll be experiencing this year, you will almost certainly need it,” Andromeda replied. With his guidance, she helped him sort out letters from strange witches and wizards who were unhappy with him, putting them in a separate pile from the letters from his friends.

“We can go over these later, if you’d like,” Andromeda said, tucking the offending letters away on a side table on the far side of the room. “I’m certain that most of them will not be worth your time.”

The letters from his friends were all very much the same. Draco, Pansy, and, surprisingly, Millicent had all asked if he was okay and if needed anything. Draco’s letter was the most strongly worded, begging Harry to not react like a Gryffindor. Pansy’s letter didn’t mention Theo, much to Harry’s disappointment; he knew Theo was staying with Pansy over the summer. Millicent asked how he was planning to respond.

The most shocking letter, though, came from Neville.

Harry,

I saw the Prophet this morning and my grandmother nearly had a heart attack. I hadn’t told her what you did at the Ministry and now she’s asking me why. I didn’t know exactly what happened after you ran after Malfoy. Why on earth did you confess to a bunch of aurors?

I just wanted to let you know that if you wind up getting in trouble for this, I’ll vouch for you if you need me to. It was really scary to see you using the dark arts, but the only reason you used any of those spells is because you were defending everybody that came with you. The Prophet saying that you were working with You-Know-Who or that you’re trying to replace him is complete rubbish.

I don’t know why you started messing with the dark arts and I really wish you wouldn’t, but I know you’re a good person. Don’t listen to the Prophet.

Just wanted to let you know that I’m still in your corner.

Neville

“That one is making you smile,” Andromeda said.

The smile quickly turned into a grin. He wordlessly slid the letter across the table and waited for her to read it.

“His surname is… Longbottom, correct?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“Good. You should write him back… today.” She folded the letter and passed it back to him. “The Longbottom name still carries significant weight. He would be an excellent ally to have.”

“I prefer to think of him as my friend,” Harry said, a hint of a frown on his lips.

Andromeda smirked. “That’s even better.”

Harry somehow managed to resist the urge to roll his eyes.

“Tell me about the curse you used on Rasmus Nott.”

A bit startled at her abrupt change of subject, Harry blinked. “Um… Reditus Dolorit.

Andromeda’s chin tilted up and she leaned back in her chair, arms crossed. “I’m not familiar,” she said.

“Um… it’s called ‘Return of Suffering,’” Harry said. “It’s… you cast it on someone, and it takes all the pain they’ve ever caused to come back to them. They’re supposed to feel all the pain and hurt they’ve ever made others feel.”

“Where did you learn it?”

“Uh…I...” Harry frowned, his brow scrunching up in concentration. “I honestly don’t think I can remember. A book in the Grimmauld library; I’m not sure which one.” And that was the truth; he honestly couldn’t remember. He’d gone through so many books in such a short amount of time that many of them blurred together in his mind.

“I see,” Andromeda said, her eyes narrowing. “I know very well what kinds of books Black libraries could hold. Take care to not learn from the wrong ones.” Before Harry even had a chance to react to that statement, she sighed and leaned forward. “That spell at least seems… appropriate for Death Eaters, and it seems likely it wouldn’t cause nearly as much harm to the average wizard.”

“That’s… kind of what I figured when I learned it,” Harry said.

Andromeda seemed to study him for a few long moments before getting to her feet. “I’ll make you some breakfast,” she said.

As she bustled into the kitchen, a knot began to form in Harry’s gut. He’d mostly felt awful about what he’d done to Nott because of Theo. He had to admit that he’d given little thought about what it meant for Rasmus, himself. Harry felt a bit torn between thinking that the result of the spell dictated that Rasmus Nott had deserved it and thinking he’d done something truly wrong.

If Andromeda, a dark witch, had questions and concerns about the spell he used on Nott, that certainly didn’t bode well for how the rest of the wizarding world would react.

***

Harry spent most of the morning returning the letters to his friends. He reassured Draco that he was fine. He asked Pansy how Theo was doing. He told Millicent that he wasn’t going to react immediately, but that he wasn’t planning on lying about what he’d done.

The letter to Neville was infinitely more complicated. Attempt after attempt was crumbled, torn up, or otherwise scrapped.

Andromeda thought of Neville as a potential ally. Harry could understand where she was coming from; if Harry really was going to try to change the wizarding world’s opinion on dark wizards, Neville’s assessment of Harry’s use of the dark arts essentially as scary but justified was far preferable to just being written off as ‘evil.’

While Harry was still planning on telling the world the truth, he’d already accepted that he’d likely have to wait until after Sirius had his trial. He knew that if he didn’t the world would simply see it as one dark wizard defending another. While that was technically the truth, it wasn’t the whole truth. Harry knew that it could take quite some time before the wizarding world would change their minds.

Neville still only knew that Harry had used the dark arts, not that he was now a full-blown dark wizard. Harry didn’t think he could tell Neville everything like he’d told Hermione, and definitely not in a letter. Since Neville was the only other Gryffindor that had stuck with Harry all through their fifth year, Harry felt like he owed Neville the truth. It would be better to have that conversation face to face.

In the end, Harry finally settled on just thanking Neville for having his back and that he’d tell Neville why he’d done what he did next time they spoke.

After he’d sent Hedwig off with the lot, he and Andromeda turned to the angrier letters. They were very much exactly what they’d both expected; all of them berated Harry for using such terrible magic, some scolded Harry for failing to be a role model for their young children, and most expressed the opinion that Harry should be in Azkaban.

Despite expecting the world’s reaction, their words still made Harry doubt his plans to go public. If the world would write him off for merely using the dark arts, their response to outing himself as a dark wizard would almost certainly be far worse.

Andromeda seemed to notice his distress, and she immediately scooped up the letters and ordered him to relax as much as possible for the day. “We already know that you shouldn’t make a move until after the trial,” she said. “There’s little point in pursuing a plan now.”

“Is it right for me to wait?” Harry asked quietly. “Just because I want Sirius to be free, does that make it -”

“Even if there was no impending trial, it would still be wise to allow the dust to settle,” Andromeda said. “It is your decision, of course, but I think responding immediately may just result in the flames spreading faster.” She offered him a smile. “Let them smolder a bit.”

Harry found himself a bit relieved at the thought of not having to do anything immediately, and she ushered him out of the dining room and into the sitting room. He curled up with her books again, though he didn’t choose one of her dark arts books; instead he pulled out a small volume that covered Occlumency.

He was surprised to discover that despite Snape’s abysmal teaching methods, his words hadn’t been all that far off from what Occlumency actually was. Occlumency required clearing the mind, somehow thinking of either nothing at all or of inane, unimportant things.

Most dishearteningly, it required a great deal of emotional control. Harry had always had terrible control over his feelings, and since declaring dark he knew that he’d gotten even worse. He was beginning to suspect that Occlumency was something that would likely always be beyond his reach.

Even so, he continued to read, although he did it almost passively. He’d poured through all of Andromeda’s other books in just over two days, and he found himself missing the more extensive collection in the library at Grimmauld Place. He was sure it wasn’t nearly as big as whatever Draco had grown up with, but it still held more books than Harry thought he could ever read.

He managed to get just over halfway through the Occlumency book when Andromeda swept into the sitting room with a piece of parchment. She held it out to him.

“This just arrived for you.”

It wasn’t signed, but Harry immediately recognized Hermione’s confident handwriting.

CALL ME!

Before Harry could ask Andromeda to use their phone, they heard a loud clatter at the door, followed by rapid footsteps coming down the hallway. Tonks poked her head in the door, looking a bit frazzled.

“You’re early, Nymphadora,” Andromeda said.

“Yeah, well, I figured I should give you as much of a heads up as possible,” Tonks said. “Dumbledore is back. He’s calling an Order meeting tonight.” She crossed her arms and leaned up against the doorframe, fixing Harry with a knowing look. “I’m gonna have to tell him that you’re here, Harry.”

Harry scowled. “Right,” he said irritably. He slammed the book shut, dropping it into his lap and glaring sightlessly at the cover. He knew he couldn’t avoid Dumbledore forever. He also knew that he shouldn’t avoid Dumbledore; they still had a common enemy, and that had to take priority over his anger towards the headmaster.

“I… could try to skip the meeting,” Tonks offered, sounding hesitant and reluctant. “That might give you an extra day, if you’d like.”

Harry immediately looked up at her in amazement, his eyes widening.

Tonks had no idea why he was angry with Dumbledore, and she was still offering to help delay him having to meet with Dumbledore. His eyes drifted between Tonks and Andromeda, unsure of what to say.

“It’s up to you, Harry,” Andromeda said quietly.

His gaze settled back on Tonks, who appeared unhappy and very tightly wound. Tonks was one of the more perpetually cheerful people Harry had met, and it didn’t feel right to see her so troubled. He knew that he was the one making Tonks feel so conflicted between her loyalties to the Order and her loyalties to her mother, and he frowned at the thought.

“No,” Harry said, shaking his head. “It’s okay. You can tell him.” He sighed. “I’ll have to talk to him at some point, and I should probably just… get it out of the way.”

***

Hermione’s father sounded even more smug than he had the night before. He called for Hermione in a sing-song voice, who again shooed her father off the line with a heavy sigh.

“Are you all right, Harry?” Hermione asked immediately after her father hung up.

“I’m fine,” Harry replied. “Got some nasty letters, but that’s about it. Andromeda toasted the Howlers before we could even hear them.”

“Howlers? Oh, Harry…”

“It’s fine. It was... manageable.”

There was a beat of silence. “Can I…” Hermione paused, then tried again. “What exactly did you do to Nott?”

Harry suppressed a sigh. He should have known that Hermione would ask. It was the third time that day he’d had to explain what the curse was and how it was intended to work, and he tiredly repeated the same explanation to Hermione that he’d given to both Andromeda and Tonks.

“So… in theory,” Hermione said slowly, “if the curse was placed on someone who was completely innocent, it would have no effect?”

“Right,” Harry said, feeling a bit relieved that Hermione could see it from that angle so quickly. “I definitely wasn’t expecting Nott to... be that affected by it, but I guess… I guess that means he’s caused a lot of pain.”

Hermione didn’t respond for a long few seconds, and Harry began to feel a bit anxious.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, unable to contain his uneasy curiosity.

“I…” Hermione sighed. “I suppose it makes me wonder what Nott’s done to have responded like he did,” she said. “And I can’t help but wonder about the specifics of how the spell works. Did he feel all of the pain he’s ever caused all at once? Or is it… linear?”

Harry blinked. “I’m not sure,” he said, feeling quite uncertain if he even understood the question Hermione was asking. “I’ll have to look it up when… if I get back to Grimmauld.” He frowned as he said those words. “With Sirius in custody, I’m not even sure if the Order is still meeting there.” He felt like kicking himself for not thinking of that possibility sooner. He’d have to ask Tonks next time he saw her.

“I think they are,” Hermione replied. “Ron said that they’re staying there again this summer.”

“Really?” Harry’s face lit up for a brief moment before he scowled. “Of course, there’s a good chance the Order might not even want me there.” As he said it, he realized just how realistic that was; aside from Snape, the Order was full of witches and wizards who despised the dark arts. “And that’s…” He let out a frustrated huff. “Staying with Andromeda has been fantastic, but I have to get back there.”

“Why?”

“The library, of course!” Harry snapped, a bit annoyed that Hermione hadn’t realized that. “If I’m supposed to beat Voldemort, I should be trying to figure out how!

“I’m sure Dumbledore would allow you to stay there,” Hermione said.

“Well, I’m not sure about that at all.” Harry nearly snarled the words. “I told you about all of the utter shite he said to me, right? He definitely wasn’t happy with me when I told him I was a dark wizard.” His upper lip curled in irritation. “He kept things from me all of last year. Wouldn’t surprise me if he decided to keep everything from me now. Can’t have a dark wizard in on any Order secrets, after all.”

The line was silent for a moment before Hermione responded. “I can respect that your temper is... more volatile now, but I really wish you wouldn’t bite my head off,” she said. “I’m on your side, remember?”

Harry found himself blushing and his anger began to dissipate. “I’m sorry,” he said, reaching under his glasses to rub at his eyes. “It’s just… I know I’m going to be seeing Dumbledore pretty soon, and it’s got me a bit…”

“On edge?” Hermione finished for him, her tone dry. “I can tell.”

“Sorry,” Harry said again sheepishly.

“Well, if you are going to see Dumbledore soon, you’ll be able to ask him about going to Grimmauld,” Hermione said reasonably. “And in all honesty, he’d probably want you where he knows you’ll be safe. I’m sure Andromeda can be trusted, but does her house have all that much protection? You can’t argue that Grimmauld Place would likely be safer.”

She was right; Harry couldn’t argue with that.

“If you manage to get to Grimmauld, let me know,” Hermione said. “There’s no phone there, and I’d like to speak to you more about the dark arts. Maybe I could meet you there.”

Harry immediately lightened up at her words. For the first time in his life, the thought of spending his summer cooped up in an old, windowless library to study with Hermione sounded absolutely delightful.

***

Early the following evening, Dumbledore arrived at the Tonks’ residence.

After shooting Harry a questioning look, wondering if he wanted her to stay, Andromeda left the two of them alone. Neither Dumbledore or Harry took a seat, instead standing at opposite ends of the dining table. Harry crossed his arms, while Dumbledore clasped his hands behind his back. Harry glared down at the table, quite unwilling to meet Dumbledore’s eyes.

“How are you, Harry?” Dumbledore finally asked.

“Just fine,” Harry said, his tone biting. He glanced up for a moment. It could have been Harry’s imagination, but Dumbledore seemed to deflate a bit.

The Daily Prophet article about you was… less than flattering yesterday,” Dumbledore said. “Are you all right?”

Harry gave a half-shrug. “It’s not like it’s all that surprising,” he said with a hint of a sneer. “Dark arts - evil and disgusting, right?”

“That’s not what I’m asking, Harry,” Dumbledore said, his voice growing softer. “Are you all right?”

A spike of anger shot through Harry. He’d been asked that exact same question so many times over the past year. He was asked after he’d been sorted into Slytherin, and again when Hermione suspected him of ‘messing with the dark arts.’ Ron had asked when rumors began swirling about Harry having defected to Voldemort’s cause.

The only time anyone ever posed that question was when they suspected Harry of doing something that they thought was wrong.

“Why don’t you ask whatever it is that you really want to ask?” Harry said, his voice low.

Something flashed in Dumbledore’s eyes, but Harry couldn’t read what it was. “I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that, Harry,” he said. “I won’t deny that I have other questions for you; I have several, in fact. But first, and most importantly... I just want to know how you are.”

Harry said nothing; he merely set his mouth in a hard line and looked down at the table again.

“Among other things, the Prophet implied that you may be working with Voldemort, or else attempting to replace him,” Dumbledore said. “You and I both know that neither of those things are true, and they must be upsetting to hear.”

“They are,” Harry said. “But I think I’m just used to it now.” He let out an oddly hollow laugh. “Last year I was a liar. The year before that I was an attention-seeking, broken orphan.” He shook his head. “It’s not even the first time I’ve had people call me ‘the next dark lord.’ Although I suppose in second year - or last year - it didn’t make it all the way to the Prophet.”

Dumbledore bowed his head in a slight nod. “It is immensely frustrating that our world can be so fickle,” he said. “It often seems that it’s full of people who are determined to do nothing but misunderstand who you truly are.”

Harry’s eyes widened.

“I’m sorry you had to find this out so young,” Dumbledore said. “But I have learned that this is why it’s important to hold our friends even closer.”

Harry was beginning to feel more startled than angry, and he supposed Dumbledore’s words made sense; the headmaster had also been subjected to all sorts of strange and flat-out untrue press just in the time that Harry had known him. It was something they had in common.

“I know that I’ve made you very angry, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “And I will not deny that I deserve it. I could attempt to justify or rationalize my actions, but I don’t think either of us would appreciate that very much.”

Harry agreed, but he didn’t say so.

“I will try to repair what was broken, if I can,” Dumbledore continued. “But more importantly, I want to try to build something so that we can move forward.” He paused then, letting out a strange, almost uncharacteristic sigh. “So we can move forward together.”

A part of Harry wanted to immediately rebuff Dumbledore’s offer, but he also knew that he shouldn’t. He couldn’t. Dumbledore had the keys to two things Harry needed - information on Voldemort, as well as Grimmauld Place. Whether he liked it or not, he needed Dumbledore. Besides, his anger seemed to be deflating to a low simmer. He’d manage.

Dumbledore at least seemed to be trying. Harry could attempt to do the same.

He finally let out a deep sigh, arms dropping to his sides. “I won’t lie. I’m still…” He clenched his teeth and his fists, and his ears felt like they were burning. “You knew about that stupid prophecy since even before I was born, and you didn’t bother to tell me until I found out it existed,” he sneered. “Would you have told me at all if I hadn’t discovered it first?”

Dumbledore’s expression appeared to fall with every word Harry spoke. “I hope that I would have, but I don’t think we’ll ever truly know. It rarely helps to speak in hypotheticals,” he said quietly. “What I do know is that I regret what I did do. I am so very sorry, Harry.”

Harry shook his head and turned away from Dumbledore, almost as if by instinct. He stared out the window, the night making him unable to see anything but his own furious reflection.

Emotional control, he thought. I may not have enough for Occlumency, but I have to find enough to handle this.

“It’s… going to be hard to move on,” Harry finally replied, his voice still hard, but calm. “But… I’ll give it a shot.” He sighed. “You’ve got that much from me, at least.”

“I’m very glad to hear that, Harry,” Dumbledore said, a smile seeming to bloom underneath his long beard. After a moment, he added, “Thank you.”

Harry merely shrugged.

“I did not come here tonight merely to check on you,” Dumbledore said. “I was alarmed to hear that you’d left the Dursleys, but I must admit that you found an excellent hiding place.”

Harry turned back to face the headmaster again. “Then why are you here?” he asked gruffly.

“I was hoping you would accompany me on a trip to visit… an old friend,” Dumbledore said.

Harry raised an eyebrow, a habit that he was certain he’d picked up from Draco. “If you really want this to work,” he said, “you’re gonna have to be a little more upfront than that.”

“Of course, of course. I owe you that for certain,” Dumbledore said, nodding. “As we are, once again, short of one professor this year, I am attempting to convince an old colleague of mine to come out of retirement.” He inclined his head just slightly to peer at Harry over the rim of his glasses. “I think your presence would help me convince him.”

“How?” Harry asked.

“Horace is… how shall I put this?” Dumbledore shook his head. “I will be frank with you, Harry. Your presence will help simply because of who you are. Horace quite enjoys the company of the famous, the successful, and the powerful. He prides himself on the connections he’d made throughout his life, and I daresay he may want to make a connection with you.”

Harry’s head tilted to the side as he considered Dumbledore’s words. “Slytherin?” he asked simply.

Dumbledore chuckled. “You are correct,” he said. “Slytherins always seem to recognize one another, almost more than any other house.” He paused, his expression becoming a bit somber. “That is also why I believe he will still want to… collect a connection with you, even with the article that was published yesterday. I doubt it will matter to him.”

Harry couldn’t deny that he was now incredibly curious about this man named Horace. He was a Slytherin that Dumbledore actually wanted back at the school, and it sounded as if he might not care about Harry’s use of the dark arts. The man might have even been a dark wizard himself.

But it sounded as if Dumbledore needed Harry for this task, just as much as Harry needed Dumbledore.

“I’ll do it,” Harry said, a slight smirk appearing on his lips, “if you can do a favor for me in return.”

Dumbledore looked wary at Harry’s words. “And what is that, Harry?”

“I want to go to Grimmauld Place.”