129 Chapter 129: New Beginnings

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2 June 1993, Hogwarts

As Harry sat down in his compartment, ready to go home for the summer holidays, he started to ponder about the previous school year.

The past few months were pretty uneventful in his opinion, at least compared to the rest of the year. Yeah, after a sentient Horcrux of a teenaged Dark Lord, a Basilisk, a fucking divine beast that was thousands of years old, there was very little that could really shake things up.

After the whole Chamber of Secrets happened, Dumbledore got into a little trouble, far too little since he let five students get petrified on his watch, and that's not even mentioning Hermione Granger's fate, which was in the hands of the Department of Mysteries.

It was both amusing and depressing to see how easily the man got away with it. Sure, technically Harry had him by the balls because if he revealed that there was, in fact, a Basilisk, the headmaster would lose a lot of goodwill from the public, and possibly his position as headmaster. But Harry wouldn't risk it; Dumbledore would kill him. He had proven that he was willing to do it when he did it to Flamel and Harry wasn't willing to risk it.

Because what people have forgotten, what Dumbledore ensured that they forget, is the fact that in the magical world, power is might. Political power is meaningless for someone like Albus Dumbledore because he could easily just take over the nation. A man who could flatten cities in minutes has nothing to fear from a few politicians and angry parents.

The reason why he was losing the war to Voldemort was because it was a guerrilla war. Sure, the Dark Lord was very impressive in terms of power, probably as a product of his countless rituals, but he always avoided a straight battle with the aged headmaster for a good reason. So, Harry definitely did not want to push a man like that into a corner. Undermining him is alright, maybe giving him a few setbacks, but to destroy his reputation entirely could literally make the man do something drastic and Harry had doubts he would survive his wrath.

Of course, Harry wouldn't let it go. He wanted the magical world to prosper, and it wouldn't do that with Dumbledore at its helm. Since he couldn't attack the man's reputation suddenly, the last Potter knew that he needed to do it gradually. He would make the public doubt him, getting hesitant to trust him, with one blunder after another. It would be small things at first, things that Dumbledore would consider barely more than an annoyance, which would come from multiple sources. He would think that it was just some bad luck, which would over the course of years, destroy the man's credibility without even noticing.

Because it's the slow knife, the knife that takes its time, the knife that waits years without forgetting, then slips quietly between the bones, that's the knife that cuts deepest.

Something quick, something fast, would never cause enough damage to the empire that Dumbledore built. A little patience, a little persistence could plant an idea. And that's the beauty of it, an idea can't be killed, it can't be eradicated. You can't obliviate an idea if it's over a long time. It would start slow, like for example, the boy that people often consider to be his successor, Neville Longbottom, breaking the statute of secrecy openly, then impersonating other scions of old families to spy on the conversations in Slytherin. Things like students getting attacked, one of them maybe even never recovering. Maybe someone would talk about the baby dragon that Longbottom tried smuggling, maybe even about the Cerberus, the challenge, the possessed professor. Small incidents and leaks would get people to start asking questions.

Then, two, maybe three years of small incidents, small mistakes, would just shake the blind faith that the magical world had in him. It would provide an opportunity to truly bring back the might of the magical world before Albus Dumbledore started doing his best to smother it.

Riddle was right to want Dumbledore out of the castle, but he was too impatient. With a man like the headmaster, you needed to play the long game. People were already suspicious of the headmaster's statement about the Chamber of Secrets and only stopped their protest when the minister for magic, the head of the DMLE, and Bartemius Crouch confirmed his words after investigating the matter themselves. Dumbledore definitely didn't tell them the truth, but whatever he said convinced them enough to side with him.

So, things came back to relatively normal around a month after Harry's fight with Riddle. The petrified victims – apart from Dean Thomas – had caught up with whatever they missed; the exam sessions happened as normal. Daphne had to attend a lot of remedial classes in her free time, which stopped them from hanging out as much as they did previously. As for Dean Thomas' fate, it was still up to him. The boy had chosen to try to finish the curriculum and do his exams in August to not be pulled back a year. Harry sincerely wished him good luck with his endeavour.

As for Blaise and Tracy, Harry started to get closer to them after he explained the whole Chamber situation. He really did trust them, and while they were shocked about what happened they quickly accepted his version of things, like the fact that Longbottom wasn't actually delusional, that Dumbledore was subtly convincing everyone that he was just to save his own ass, and that Harry was fighting the heir in the shadows without anyone other than Daphne and Luna even knowing about it. They were now as close as they could be as if the year of slowly drifting apart hadn't happened.

Harry's thoughts were interrupted by Tracy asking, "So, will this be the first time you meet Arcturus Black?"

He shrugged, "No, I saw him a couple of times. I even went to his home at Christmas, so this isn't an impulsive decision."

Well, that's not exactly true. It was an impulsive decision. Harry was so focused on avenging Daphne, that he had asked Arcturus to take him as his ward to make sure that Dumbledore wouldn't try anything. Harry had always wanted to stay beneath the man's notice, but he had accepted the truth that as a potential prophecy child, the headmaster would always keep an eye on him as a potential replacement for Longbottom. Arcturus becoming his guardian would stop the man from having any kind of authority over him outside the school and would even limit the man's authority inside it as well.

Blaise nodded, "So, you're going to be the next Head of the Black family?"

"Not really. I can't be the head of a family if I don't have its crest activated. I'll technically be the regent and I'll pass on the Black Crest to one of my children if I have any, and they'll be the next Black Head."

"Lucius Malfoy will not be happy with that…" Daphne commented.

"Lucius Malfoy is not happy about a lot of things these days," Harry answered with a snort, causing his friends to burst into laughter.

He was right. The Malfoy family was starting to get into a bit of trouble. It seemed like Dumbledore did not appreciate the man kicking him out of the castle for the few days he did. After the Chamber fiasco, the man was removed from his position on the school board, and he lost his house elf, somehow – Harry had no idea how it happened, nor did he really care, to be honest – but the biggest hit was the ministry raid that was spearheaded by Arthur Weasley. They found a secret room filled with hundreds of banned artefacts that were ceased by the ministry, and apparently, the fines that the Malfoy Head had to pay was staggering.

Honestly, Harry didn't know if Dumbledore somehow knew if the entire Chamber of Secrets plot was made by Malfoy – something that the Last Potter wasn't even certain of – but this was very brutal, and proof that Harry was right in not overly antagonizing the headmaster. 

Luna perked up, "Oh, Draco had a lot of Nargles moving around his head."

They all nodded at the Ravenclaw's comment. After a while, her figures of speech got sort of repetitive, and you could understand what it meant. She usually had a hard time explaining her interpretations of her clairvoyance, and even if they didn't understand at first, it became easier to deduce over time, especially since she started hanging out with them a lot after she found out that Harry dealt with Tom.

Even the Ravenclaws that bullied her stopped after they kept getting mysteriously cursed in their own common rooms. On an unrelated matter, Harry was getting really good at modifying spells to only act after a certain delay.

Any response to Luna's statement was silenced by Neville Longbottom angrily walking past their compartment with his trunk. Blaise shook his head at the scene, "Still moody as ever, huh?"

The Longbottom scion has been in a foul mood ever since the whole Chamber of Secrets thing happened. Being ridiculed and people thinking he was crazy, made him very irritable, that's not mentioning the giant fight he had with Weasley in the middle of the Gryffindor common room. Apparently, the redhead thought that his friend had been the Heir of Slytherin, and if that wasn't enough, he was caught telling everyone about how disturbed Longbottom really was, and that he was always prone to imagining things. Of course, that didn't end well, and with Hermione out of commission, the boy who lived ended up practically friendless, with people actively trying to avoid him, making him even more prone to bursts of anger.

The Weasley twins tried to break the tension in their common room with a few pranks, one of which ended up dosing Professor Lockhart with a basic truth potion. The man was a mediocre professor when he wasn't being controlled by Riddle, but it wasn't really noticeable. Only the NEWT students really complained, but they had learned a long time ago not to rely on professors for that particular class, and just self-studied.

So, yeah, the ponce had confessed in the middle of the great hall that he was just a front. That his entire career was to buy stories of adventures from actual heroes and write about those adventures with himself as the protagonist. It was all a big scam. The actual adventurers got a shard of the profits, which got them to not say anything because it would stop them from getting even more gold. Surprisingly, he didn't even have to memory charm anyone.

Technically, it wasn't illegal. Even if the Daily Prophet crucified him for his scam. He argued that he played Lockhart, the character, and didn't really lie to anyone when people started making a fuss. And that since he had the signed permissions from the people who actually committed those deeds to use their stories. And while it is written that those stories were based on true events, there was a small amendment telling them that there might be some changes, which in this case was the protagonist.

Sure, the man was fired, and his books were no longer sold, but he ended up with a fortune that no one could take from him. He disappeared one day, a few weeks before the term ended, and no one has seen anything about him. He probably retired somewhere abroad with enough gold to live in luxury for the rest of his life.

Harry had to admit that he had a smidge of respect for the man's cunning.

Daphne poked his shoulder, breaking him from his thoughts once more, and whispered "What were you just thinking about?"

He didn't even notice that his friends continued his conversation without him.

Harry just gave her a smile, "Just about new beginnings."

And it was true. He was going to have an actual guardian for the first time in his life. He had to admit that he asked Arcturus Black to become his guardian out of desperation to stay away from Dumbledore's influence. He had succeeded. He only hoped that it wasn't a mistake, trusting the Black Patriarch. At least there was something for certain, Harry's summer was bound to be eventful at the very least.


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Thank you guys for your support in these hard times.

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