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Prophecies? We Don't Need No Stinking Prophecies!

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Prophecies Are A Pain In The Ass". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: How would things have changed if Harry Potter was raised by the Scooby Gang?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered
Multiple Crossings > General
GreywizardFR1838161,6642691605861,53625 Feb 0620 Feb 14No
CoA Winner

Chapter 36 – "The Times They Are A-Changing..."

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Main Hall

Lunch time

The general buzz of conversation at the end of the Hufflepuff table where Susan, Hermione, Ron and Draco were currently sitting – with the spot between Hermione and Susan where Harry typically sat still vacant, as it had been for the past three days after his family had (hopefully, only temporarily) 'withdrawn' him from the school – slowly muted to almost nothing. The rest of the table slowly but surely noted how the remaining members of 'the Scrappy Gang' (the name with which Harry, for some as-yet, still unexplained reason, had dubbed their small group) had all gone ominously quiet as the doors to the Entrance Hall opened.

The more observant of the House also noted how all four had reflexively drawn their wands in what was clearly wary anticipation of the newcomers' behavior. And that observation, after a brief instant's consideration of the week's previous events, spurred the more judicious and/or cautious sub-groups of those same observers surreptitiously began drawing their own wands.

Any concern which may have been evidenced by the Scrappy Gang was instantly tossed aside, however, when Hermione and Susan both leapt from their seats with elated squeals of "HARRY!" a moment later. They began dashing towards the small group which had just entered, with Ron and Draco following only a bare fraction of a second behind the girls.

Fortunately for his physical well-being, Harry somehow managed to brace himself sufficiently so that he wasn't bowled over by both girls when they practically threw themselves atop him. Although the additional support and stability provided when Ron and Draco also jubilantly wrapped their arms around the staggering trio was clearly quite welcome, at least on Harry's part.

The wide smiles adorning the faces of the teaching staff at the sight of the enthusiastic First Years' reunion dimmed considerably, though, when they caught sight of the small group of people entering the Great Hall in Harry's wake, and they recognized exactly who they were.


Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Level Two
Ministry of Magic
London, England

"...gave us absolutely no indication of where we would be portkeying to," Lucius Malfoy, deep-cover Auror (so deep-cover that even he himself wasn't aware of what of he was, during his assignment), informed his boss and fellow co-workers with a slight shrug.

"Riddle merely handed out the portkeys among our assigned groups, ordered us to kill the first hostage who showed any sign of resistance after we arrived and had established control of the area we were portkeying into, and finished up with an order to not kill any of the staff members without his explicit permission," the blond deep-cover agent summarized his observations during his current mission.

"I'll grant you, the fact that Snape was both present among the invading group, and was commonly known and accepted throughout the entire group to be working for the Dark Lord as a spy in Dumbledore's camp," Lucius verified the generally-held assumption to his companions, as he paused in his recitation to take a sip of tea for his somewhat parched throat before then continuing on with his line of reasoning, "that final order before we portkeyed to Hogwarts is a bit puzzling.

"Unless, of course, you consider the possibility that Riddle had someone else working as a spy inside the castle, someone other than Snape – and he wanted to ensure their safety," Lucius suggested, a contemplative frown creasing his face as he proposed that particular possibility.

"And, if that actually is the case, after a fair bit of consideration, there's really only one person I can think of, who would fit the requisite profile for a spy, and who I think would be willing to work for Riddle and want to see him take control of the Wizarding World," the deep-cover Auror said, as he turned to face his teammates.


Hogwarts Castle
The Great Hall

"Mr. Harris. Mrs. Harris. I'm delighted to see you've managed to return and visit us, again," Minerva dissembled expertly as she greeted the group which had accompanied Harry on his return to the school, her eyes glancing uncertainly over the other four women and three men who – in addition to Sirius and Remus – made up the rest of their party.

{ Are they other witches and wizards from the world where Harry was raised? } the newly appointed Headmistress wondered to herself as she took in the polite, but unsmiling expressions on everyone's faces. She then requested that the new arrivals follow her to her office, so that they could confer about whichever issues Harry's parents undoubtedly wanted to discuss in a more secure and private location.

The secondary purpose was, to hopefully minimize the possibility that she would be embarrassed – or worse – in front of both the teaching staff and the entire student body.

The visitors' immediate agreement with her suggestion did nothing whatsoever to settle the rapidly growing uneasiness in Minerva's stomach, and she nervously led the majority of the group to the conference room adjacent to the Headmistress' office.

Three of the visitors, a brunette woman whom Mrs. Harris had referred to as 'Faith', a red-haired man scarcely taller than the woman who'd responded to Mrs. Harris' calling him 'Oz' with the barest hint of a smile, and a towering, black-haired and -bearded man, who'd answered to the name 'Casey,' had remained behind in the Great Hall – supposedly, to speak with some of the teaching staff regarding particulars of the school's curriculum and, judging from what she'd heard of this 'Casey' person's questions, the school's menu and its corresponding nutritional and dietary provisions.

The fact that Minerva was completely certain that she recognized all three of the trio, as well as the remainder of the visiting group, as having been members of the group who'd so quickly, efficiently, and ruthlessly taken down the almost three dozen Death Eaters who'd attacked the school earlier in the week, merely strengthened her suspicions that the group had remained behind to function as both bodyguards for Harry, and as a separate rear guard force, in the event of another emergency.

As she hurried along the corridor, Minerva tried to convince herself that the shiver which coursed down her back at the thought of this group possibly becoming – irritated – with the school's staff, and the likely results of that irritation was simply coincidental, and merely the result of a stray draft of chilled air.


Ministry of Magic
Undersecretary's office

"…and I want three – no, make that four! – teams of the best hit-wizards and -witches the Ministry has available, ready to move into action the instant the Minister orders them to move!" Dolores' unpleasant high-pitched voice echoed from her office.

"Neither Cornelius nor I wish to have any problems, whatsoever, when we arrive at the school to serve these writs and take the Potter heir into custody," the frog-like woman half-snarled at her scurrying minions as she prepared herself for the upcoming confrontation with the brat's muggle family.

{ Bah! That little half-blood abomination's family might possibly have some small degree of influence in the muggle world, but that counts for absolutely *nothing* here in *our* world! } Umbridge reassured herself as random fragments of Amelia Bones' warning regarding the Harris family scurried through her mind on little rat-like feet.

{ And not even a single one of those horrible muggle creatures possessed a wand! } Dolores reminded herself with a smile and a huge sigh of relief, as she recalled the consensus her staff had come to, after *thoroughly* reviewing all of the numerous and varied reports enumerating every detail of the confrontation between the brat's parents and both Cornelius and Dumbledore at Gringotts.

{ So, there won't be any sort of problem dealing with those abominable *muggles* and taking control of the brat, } Umbridge predicted to herself as additional plans for how she could best utilize the boy's fame and family resources began floating through her mind.

Once she had gained control of the little abomination, he would learn quickly enough that immediate obedience to the proper authorities brought rewards, while arrogance and disrespect brought only pain, Dolores promised herself with a pleased smile

And then, that brat – and everyone else who thought themselves better than her – would learn who *really* possessed true power around here.


Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmistress' Office
Peebles, Scotland

A few minutes following the Scoobies' arrival

"Well, first off, Mr. and Mrs. Harris, I'd just like to say that both I and all of the teaching staff here are simply delighted to see young Harry finally returning to Hogwarts, to resume his education," Minerva stated with as optimistic a smile as she could manage while facing the somewhat grim-faced quintet of people seated around her desk.

The former Transfiguration teacher had moved into her old friend's office only the day before, once she had been confirmed in her new status as Hogwarts' Headmistress, and she still felt more than a little uncomfortable occupying Dumbledore's former office and his old quarters. Minerva attempted to assuage her feelings of awkwardness and discomfort by reminding herself of the millennia-old traditions she was following, but she'd be the first to admit that she still felt extremely uncomfortable attempting to fill Albus' shoes. If nothing else, because the man had definitely managed to establish a far larger-than-life image, which it would take an overwhelming amount of effort to even measure up to, let alone surpass.

The group's short journey up to the Headmaster's Tower had been conducted in complete silence, which had only been broken during their ascent of the circular, moving stone stairway, when Mr. Harris had muttered in a low voice, "Well, this at least partially explains why these people are always going in circles and never seem to get anywhere."

Minerva had graciously ignored the remark, but the majority of the group accompanying Mr. and Mrs. Harris had each given either a small chuckle or snort upon hearing Mr. Harris' comment, while the elder gentleman in the party had simply shaken his head, as though in resignation, and let out a small sigh.

Now that they were all seated in her new office, her behind the massive, claw-footed desk and her guests seated in a semi-circle in front of her, with the portraits of all the former Headmasters remaining quiescent and merely watching from their positions on the walls in the small annex Albus had created, Minerva was starting to feel much more confident about the entire situation confronting her and the school.

Hopefully, now that the Harrises had finally dealt, once and for all, with the man responsible for kidnapping their son, they could put aside all of the unpleasantness involving that whole affair, and concentrate on Harry's education, the newly-promoted Head of Hogwarts told herself.

Not that the slowly-graying Transfiguration teacher actually believed that there was any real chance of that truly happening, mind you, but it was still an idea one could fervently hope for.

{ Of course, } Minerva cautioned herself, { that probably had the same likelihood of occurring as there is of Trelawney actually uttering another true prophecy. }

The polite smile which the Headmistress had been currently wearing slowly faded away as the stunningly beautiful, somewhat petite blonde woman across the desk from her nodded at Minerva's initial words and leaned forwards lightly as she said, "That's exactly what we're here to discuss, Headmistress McGonagall.

"But, before we proceed, I need to introduce to you the rest of our group," Buffy said as she presented the other members of their party who'd accompanied them to her office.

"You've already met my husband, of course," Buffy reminded McGonagall with a small smile as the woman gave a nervous nod of her head to acknowledge Xander, who simply gave her an equivalent nod and a small, chilled smile.

"This is my father, Dr. Rupert Giles, and my stepmother, Dr. Lena Kendrick-Giles," Buffy went on, indicating a distinguished-looking older man and a classically beautiful brunette woman, "and this is Ms. Willow Rosenberg, a very close friend of ours," she indicated the beautiful redheaded woman, who sat next to the tiny blonde

"Giles and Lena have a fair amount of experience teaching, and Will's not only a practitioner, but she's also one of the people who teach our students back home about magic," Buffy added informatively.

"And I'm told you already know Sirius Black and Remus Lupin here," the diminutive blonde said, completing the introductions as she indicated Minerva's final two visitors, and Minerva gave each of them a professional smile and nodded confidently as she looked back at Harry's mother.

"So, now that we have all the introductions out of the way, you should know that we're all here so that you can explain to us, exactly how is it that those Dead Beater terrorist idiots who took over this school last week could not only manage to bypass all of the various wards our people have identified as protecting the school and the students here. We also want to know why those same wards allowed someone who was magically tattooed with the symbol – and a soul-binding one, no less – of a notorious terrorist group credited with the murders of hundreds of innocent people. And why he's allowed to not only pass through those wards without being incinerated, but reside within the castle and be permitted to teach the children here," the tiny blonde somehow looming over everyone in the room stated, with an extremely disapproving expression on her face.

No, Minerva decided as she slumped back in her chair, it didn't look like things were going to be going well, at all.


Hogwarts Castle
The Great Hall

Approximately the same time as the preceding scene

Seeing his friends' excited response to his reappearance was definitely something that made Harry feel really good, even though he also felt like he was going to have bruises the next day from those same enthusiastic reactions.

And seeing the way that the rest of his Year, as well as the rest of the school were practically hanging on his every word made him realize that, if he really did intend to complete the rest of this year's schooling at this place, then his family's recommendation about coming clean about his actual identity was probably going to be the only way to ensure that he would ever have any real peace around here.

After all, it would be a lot better for his family to let everyone present here know their view of what had happened in Gringotts, rather than just let the 'congenitally morally corrupt prats ensconced in the Ministry, who are more concerned with maintaining their personal fiefdoms than with addressing actual social issues' (as Grandpa Giles had expressed it) spread their... propaganda. Well, maybe that wasn't the best choice of words – but since those people had merely announced the news that Dumbledore had died in some sort of battle inside Gringotts, without even defining the situation, Harry figured it'd be better to let everyone know the truth straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, rather than let the typical Wizarding World witch or wizard try to come up with their own explanations for what had happened to the twinkly-eyed bastard after he'd had attacked his Mom.

Obviously, the politicians were trying to figure out the best way to explain how the manipulative old fart had died after attacking his Mom – someone that the vast majority of these inbred, bigoted idiots would consider nothing more than a 'mere muggle.'

And boy, would those morons be surprised when Mom and the rest of the family handed them their collective asses, if they made the mistake of getting any of the Scoobies mad at them, Harry smirked to himself.

In any case, it was always good to get *your* side of the story out first, if at all possible, since it allowed you to put whatever spin on the events in question that you wanted. It made your opponents look as though they were the ones trying to justify their having done something wrong, and gave you the first chance to gain what Grandpa Giles had described as 'the always nebulous, but continually sought-after, moral high ground.'

And, now that he gave it some thought, the fact that he really was 'The Boy Who Vanished' would probably give whatever he said a whole lot more importance and significance than it would normally have, if he weren't some almost legendary figure in the everyday witch's or wizard's mind.

With that in mind, Harry figured that there probably wouldn't ever be a better opportunity to get his side of the story across than now, so he took a slow, deep breath, calmed himself mentally and then began speaking.

"I’m guessing that you're all wondering exactly what it was that happened to Professor Dumbledore the other day, and why those Death Muncher guys attacked the school last week," Harry said in the strong, carrying voice he'd been taught by his teachers to use when speaking in front of a crowd of people, and he waited a moment for everyone around him to quiet down, so that they could better hear him.

"I really think everyone here needs to know some background information about me and my family, so that you'll be able to understand the whole story," Harry announced as a hush fell over the students, and he noticed that pretty much everyone present, students and teachers alike, had their eyes focused on him.

Aunt F, Uncle Oz and Uncle Casey were all watching him, too – Aunt F had her usual smirk in place, while both Uncle Oz and Uncle Casey had their normal impassive expressions on their faces – and the fact that they had apparently decide to simply wait and let him address the situation here certainly made Harry feel a whole lot more confident about what he'd decided to do.

"Now, first off, my name really is Harry Harris – but that's because my parents adopted me after my birth parents, James and Lily Potter, were murdered ten years ago by some idiot terrorist wannabe who called himself Lord Volde-moron, or something like that," Harry continued on with his explanation, ignoring the shocked reactions his words had caused.

He did note, however, the barely perceptible shifts in both of his uncles' expressions, as he referred derogatorily to the current wannabe Big Bad, which indicated their equivalent of a wide approving smile, which would have matched the one currently on his aunt's face.

"Anyway, before Lord Wannabe could attack me, my birth mother used a spell to transport me to where my father was currently staying at the time," he said, "and once I got there…"


Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmistress' Office
Peebles, Scotland

"Well, uh, you see, Mrs. Harris, Mr. Harris, you see, as far as your questions regarding the wards are concerned… I, uh, I really can't answer them," Minerva replied, her mien betraying her nervousness and trepidation.

"It's not that I *won't* answer them, or that I don't want to," Minerva immediately qualified her answer as she saw the anger beginning to well up in her audience's eyes – *all* of her listeners' eyes, she noted peripherally to herself, as she caught sight of the furious expressions on both Sirius' and Remus' faces, too, in addition to those of Harry's family.

"It's all to do with the fact that I've never been allowed any connection to the school's wards, during all my time teaching here at the school," she quickly explained to a clearly hostile group of people, "so I truly have no idea at all as to what type of restrictions the wards can impose as far as visitors are concerned – and absolutely no knowledge, at all, as to the potential degree of sensitivity the wards might possess in regard to any such restrictions.

"Albus, as the Headmaster, had complete control over all aspects of the school, including the wards, so he would be the one you'd need to question in that regard," Minerva informed her visitors somewhat nervously.

"Of course! That's absolutely perfect!" Xander snorted in disgust upon hearing Minerva's explanation. "I should have known you'd say something like that. That the only guy who can tell us what we want to know is just happens to be dead! So, how do you suggest we get our answers? Give Lucifer a call, and see if we can arrange to set up an appointment to visit the old fart?"

"Uh, actually, Xander, there may be another option available for you and Buffy to talk to Dumbledore," Remus said thoughtfully, after giving the small annex holding the array of former Headmaster's portraits a curious glance, a moment after the Director of the Watcher's Council, Global Operations, had finished his semi-rant.

"Did Albus follow the usual custom for Hogwarts' Headmasters and have a portrait made of himself, Minerva?" the werewolf then inquired as he turned to address his former teacher, causing the rest of the group, other than Sirius, look at him in confusion at what appeared to be an abrupt shift in the subject under discussion.

"Why, yes, he did, Remus," Minerva immediately answered her former student, and visibly brightened up at the realization that she wouldn't have to risk the displeasure of either of Harry's clearly formidable – and not at all currently happy – parents, when she could put them in as much direct contact as was currently possible with the personification of the one most responsible for that displeasure; i.e., Albus Dumbledore.

"In fact, Albus' portrait woke up a little over a day ago, and he's been quite insistent in his questions regarding any aftermath in both the Ministry and the school which resulted from his unexpected demise," she noted.

Seeing the puzzled and uncomprehending expressions which all of Harry's family were currently wearing, Sirius felt a more complete explanation of what Remus and Minerva were discussing was warranted; and thus, he proceeded to do so.

"What Moony and Minerva are talking about is your being able to question the animated portrait which Dumbledore, being the previous Hogwarts Headmaster, had made of himself," he began his clarification of the pair's conversation.

"Here in the Wizarding World, people can have a magical portrait made of themselves, one which will reflect their personality and contain all their knowledge, which allows them to attain a very limited form of immortality," Sirius elaborated for his intently listening audience. "The portraits retain a good deal of the subject's memories, you see; they were originally developed with the intention that they could provide guidance and wisdom for their family's descendants, and those who come after them.

"Since Minerva has noted that Albus' portrait has awakened, it – he – would be the ideal person to answer any of your questions about why Albus behaved the way he did, and what intentions and schemes he might have had regarding Harry," he pointed out.

"Indeed, I think that it would be most beneficial for all parties involved if you were to speak with Albus' portrait directly, as Sirius just suggested," the new Headmistress observed with a pleased smile.

"Well, no offense, Headmistress," Mr. Harris immediately replied in answer to Minerva's suggestion, "but from the little bit of interaction Buffy and I had with the uptight prick at the reading of the Potters' will, I really don't think that he'd be willing to even talk to us, let alone answer any of our questions about what he was planning with regard to Harry."

"And even if he did, I wouldn't trust anything he'd have to say, anyway," Buffy instantly chimed in with her own opinion about the creepy old manipulator.

"Well, as far as that sort of thing is concerned, Mrs. Harris," Minerva quickly replied in an effort to reassure her and the other members of Harry's family, ""I can reassure you that all of the Headmasters' portraits have been enspelled to obey whatever orders the current Head of the school might give them. That part of the enchantment is permanently interwoven into the portraits, by means of the school's wards. It was done to ensure that anyone placed in charge of Hogwarts by the school board could be certain that any advice and guidance the portraits might offer would be in the best interests of the students and staff.

"And since I have been officially appointed by the Board of Governors as Albus' successor, I can, and will, order Albus to answer, fully and truthfully, any questions you wish to ask him," Minerva offered, a somber expression on her face as she spoke.

"Good. Then maybe we can finally get some answers around here," Xander grunted.

"Indeed. To tell you the truth, I, myself, occasionally wondered about some of Albus' plans and the way he went about implementing things – but I allowed myself to be swayed by his assurances that everything would eventually work out," Minerva confessed with an embarrassed grimace.

"I promise you that I will require Albus' portrait to answer each of your questions in as much detail as needed to allay any concerns you might have concerning any issue you might have, regarding Harry's safety and education here at Hogwarts," the grey-haired witch vowed, and smiled inwardly in relief at seeing the nods of agreement Harry's parents gave each other after exchanging a brief glance between them.

"All right, Professor," Mrs. Harris nodded their acceptance of her offer. "Once we're done questioning Dumbledore and reviewing his answers, we'll have a much better idea of how we'll want to proceed, at least as far as Harry's schooling is concerned."

"I'm delighted to hear that, Mrs. Harris, Mr. Harris," Minerva declared in response to the petite blonde's statement.

"And in order not to waste any more of your time, I suggest we adjourn to the annex and begin our discussions with Albus right away," Minerva went on, as she got up from her chair.

It took less than two minutes to walk to the small wing where Albus had had all of the former Headmasters' portraits relocated; a decision which had caused some minor consternation when he had been appointed as Headmaster, back in 1956. However, being the consummate politician he was, Albus had somehow managed to quiet the various angry and aggrieved protests with some blather regarding the current Headmaster having the final decision about any school policies, programs and curriculum. Oh, and that any comments or criticisms regarding such should be based on results and not emotions regarding outdated traditions.

Regardless, now that she was running things, Minerva had every intention of seeking out the advice of her predecessors, since she had never really entertained the slightest thought relating to eventually accepting responsibility for this venerable institution she cared so much about.

With that thought in mind, she'd also decided during the course of her discussion with the Harrises that she really *did* need to understand exactly what plans Albus had had in mind. Especially since it now seemed that all of his plans and directions involving the boy seemed more than just a little bit – odd, when viewed from a more impartial point of view.

Especially the way Dumbledore had repeatedly simply brushed off any concerns she'd brought up about young Harry.

In any event, Minerva was now determined to be present when the Harrises questioned Albus' portrait, so she could be completely certain that she possessed *any* and *all* relevant information regarding the boy which Albus might have known.

"Good morning, Albus," she smiled as she paused at the entrance to the alcove, directly before the spot in which Dumbledore's portrait had been placed as the most recent Headmaster. Minerva then nodded a greeting to the painting containing the semi-spiritual likeness of her mentor and predecessor.

"Good morning, Minerva," the benignly-smiling reproduction of the Headmaster smiled back at her. "It's good to see you again, old friend. How are things progressing at the Ministry? Are you here because Cornelius has been requesting my advice again?"

"Actually, Albus, I'm here, along with young Mr. Harris' family, because they've been asking me any number of questions about events and developments which have occurred here at the school over the past few weeks which I've been unable to answer to anyone's satisfaction," McGonagall stated. "And I need you to explain, both to Mr. and Mrs. Harris and to me, exactly what the rationale behind your actions concerning Harry's situation."

"WHAT?!" the portrait actually roared in response to McGonagall's question.

"That little muggle strumpet has the gall to try and question my decisions about the brat's welfare? After she had the audacity to actually lay her hands on me, and that brat she raised actually dared to attack me?" Dumbledore's painting practically screamed in anger when it heard Minerva's words.

"Hey, now! You better watch your mouth there, Whiskers!" Xander immediately interjected, stepping forward to stand directly in front of the portrait before any of the other Scoobies could. "That's my wife you're talking about, buster! You better keep a civil tongue in your painted-on mouth when you're talking about her, or we'll be finding out exactly what a gallon of turpentine can do to you! Do you understand me?"

"And who might this buffoon be, Minerva?" Dumbledore's portrait practically sneered at Xander as it turned its attention back to the former Transfiguration teacher. "And what in Merlin's name is a filthy muggle doing here in the school?"

"That is Mr. Alexander Harris, Harry's father, Albus," Minerva answered, completely flabbergasted at the portrait's purist reaction to her previous statement.

"And both he and Mrs. Harris and the other members of Harry's family are here to determine how, in Merlin's name, as you just mentioned, those Death Eaters managed to portkey through the wards and into the castle," the Headmistress elaborated, a frown creasing her brow as she spoke to the painting.

"That's absurd! Have you lost your senses, woman? The fact that you've wasted precious time answering a muggle's questions makes me doubt your intelligence and wonder how it is that you were ever chosen to replace me!" the painting ranted angrily.

"You should be doing as I directed you to do yesterday and be arranging for Cornelius to meet with me, here in the castle!" it declared, the former Headmaster's features showing his rage at the witch's refusal to follow its instructions.

"So, are all the portraits in this place as rude as this one, Professor McGonagall?" Buffy asked the witch, her curiosity obvious, as was her disdain for the portrait. "'Cause I gotta say, back home, any painting who talked like that to pretty much anyone we know, would have ended up in the fireplace just a couple minutes after it opened its big mouth."

"No, Mrs. Harris, Albus' portrait's actions are quite not at all characteristic of those displayed by a typical portrait," Minerva replied, her astonishment at this apparently aberrant behavior evident for everyone to see, as was the transformation of that shock into a quite obvious anger.

"Albus! Pay attention and listen to me!" McGonagall snapped as she glared at the portrait. "As the current Headmistress of Hogwarts, I am ordering you to answer all of the questions Mr. and Mrs. Harris have, and you are to answer them, truthfully, fully and completely –you shall not withhold any information from them, whatsoever!

"Do you understand and acknowledge my instructions?" Minerva demanded, her glare intensifying.

It was patently obvious to everyone watching that Dumbledore's portrait was struggling against the orders McGonagall had issued, as the painting's features strained and writhed as though it were fighting against some invisible restraints. It seemed to the mystically sensitive in the room as though the magic in the very air itself was throbbing, in some abstruse way.

But finally, after nearly a full minute's exertion, the portrait lost its battle to resist Minerva's orders. It grudgingly settled back into its original pose as it responded to the witch's last question, replying, "Yes, Headmistress, I understand and acknowledge your instructions."

"Good," McGonagall snapped, clearly still peeved at the painting's behavior, before she turned to address Buffy and Xander.

"Mrs. Harris, Mr. Harris, you may ask your questions now, and I feel confident that you will receive truthful and complete answers," she stated, before taking a step back, as though to distance herself from the upcoming interrogation.

"Thank you, Professor. I think we can handle things from here," Buffy smiled her appreciation at the woman before then turning to address her questions to the portrait in front of them.

"All right, then, you arrogant old piece of crap," Buffy half-snarled at the painting of the man who'd tried to murder her the previous week, "we know you were the one who ordered your minions to kidnap Harry, and that you tried to arrange things to make us think he was dead, so that we wouldn't come here looking for him.

"You've obviously spent a long time setting things up so that pretty much all of the brain-dead morons in this country think you're some sort of wise and venerable father figure who knows what's best for everyone," Buffy then declared with a loud snort of derision.

"And you also clearly had some sort of plan that involved Harry in some really big way, since you spent so much time and effort to find him and kidnap him, and bring him back here," she went on, "but I'll tell you right now, we don't care about that – Xander and I just care about our son, and about keeping him safe from manipulative old bastards like you!

"So, we want you to tell us about whatever it is you had planned that you needed Harry for," Buffy informed the deceased Headmaster's portrait, which was staring at her with sheer hatred in its eyes. "And I really want to know just who the hell you think you are, that you can try and force people to do whatever you want them to do, regardless of what *they* want to do!"

The animosity in the portrait's eyes as it stared at Buffy for a moment before them shifting to rake them all with complete and utter loathing would likely have made them light up like stoplights, had the painting actually been alive, and its voice made its contempt for everyone present clearly obvious as it answered Buffy's questions.

"I am justified in any actions I take, you piece of filth, because you and yours are nothing but insignificant and worthless muggle trash or pathetic and contemptible blood traitors, while I am the greatest Wizard of all time!" the portrait virtually snarled at Buffy and the rest of its audience, who were standing as though mesmerized by the painting's animosity.

"I am the one destined to rule the entire Wizarding World! That is what I needed the Potter brat for! " the portrait declared self-righteously. "And as for your second question...

"You pathetic muggle trollop, know now that I am not that pathetic and sanctimonious, long-dead fool, Albus Dumbledore! I am unquestionably his superior, as I proved when he attacked me and I destroyed him, back in 1945! " the portrait shouted, much to the horror of some members of its audience.

"I am Gellert Grindelwald!"
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