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Fics begun in 2003 (post-OOTP)

Author Notes:

A brief reminder to YoR readers:

To those of you who have actually kept up with this thing since 2003, thank you.  To those of you who are newer to YoR, I want to remind you that this is a post-OotP fanfic.  I started writing this 4-1/2 years ago, and the story arc - although truncated a bit so I can finish the fic - is the same as it was. 

That means there are no Horcruces, there is no Slughorn (although observant readers may have noticed that the Half-Blood Prince's potions text is floating around), there will be no Hallows, there will be no camping in the woods for months, and there will be no Epilogue.  Harry prefers Hermione in YoR, as was still a defensible possibility at the end of OotP; as for Ginny, she will grow to favor someone other than Harry (not telling you who, other than to say it's not Neville). 

So, when you see that Grindelwald's first name isn't Gellert, or that Dumbledore was once married and is 41 years older than was finally indicated in DH, etc., etc., stop for a moment and say to yourself:

This is post-OotP; HBP and DH do not exist. :-) 

Cheers,

Mike [FP]

Chapter Thirty-nine

THE OLD-OLD CROWD

September 22

“Not a bad day for a stroll,” Detheridge said.

“Yes, September is pleasant enough,” Flitwick agreed. “Don’t be fooled; winter will set in soon enough.”

“What do you think, Harry?” asked Detheridge.

“Dunno… I suppose it’s nice,” Harry said flatly.

Detheridge was quiet for a while before he said, “The countryside in these parts reminds me of where I grew up.”

“Wherever were you brought up, Marcus?” Flitwick asked. “I’ve often wondered about your accent. Of the Yanks I’ve known, I’ve never heard its like.”

Detheridge took on a wistful look. “Born and raised in Maine,” he said. “Haven’t been there in near to thirty years, but I suppose it took.”

“Maine… I’m not familiar with Maine. What sort of city is it?” Flitwick wondered.

“I don’t think it’s a city, Professor Flitwick,” Harry said.

“Maine’s a state,” Detheridge explained; “Think of… I don’t know… Surrey? Cornwall?”

Flitwick squinted at Harry. “I have reminded you repeatedly that my name is Filius,” he chided.

“Yes, sir,” said Harry.

Detheridge snapped, “That’s enough foolishness, Mr. Potter. This is on account of something you did, not Flitwick here. You put Albus in a terrible position – what did you expect would come from it?”

Flitwick crooked an eyebrow. “You managed to coax the events from Harry, did you? I couldn’t get him to speak of it last night.”

“We haven’t spoken of anything,” Harry said. “The papers hadn’t come yet at breakfast, and the old man wasn’t at the head table, was he?”

“I’m Professor Flitwick to you, but the Headmaster is now the ‘old man’?” Flitwick tut-tutted.

“How would you know the first thing about last night?” Harry demanded of Detheridge.

Detheridge stopped walking for a moment, and then shrugged. “Word gets around quickly. I do live in Hogsmeade, after all,” he said.

Harry wasn’t satisfied, but he let it go. All he wanted to accomplish was to get in and out of Madam Rosmerta’s garret as quickly as possible. It was bad enough that he was to be confined to Hogwarts; he didn’t care to parade the fact before the entire village.

As soon as they entered the Three Broomsticks, Madam Rosmerta put aside her work and came straight away. “Oh, Harry!” she said. “Is this true? Are these real photographs?” She held up a copy of the morning’s Daily Prophet. The headline blared:

POTTER POPS LOCKHART:

Master Obliviator Spells Squib, Bloody Harry Makes Him Pay

There were two photos displayed beneath: the first showed Harry slamming Lockhart to the ground over and over again, and the second was of a contrite-looking Harry being dressed down by Dumbledore.

“Erm… photos don’t lie, I suppose…” Harry mumbled.

“Good heavens!” Flitwick squeaked at the sight.

“Good on you, then!” said Rosmerta. “That louse went a full year without settling his account. After they sent him to St. Mungo’s, I went to Gringotts for it. The trustee told me there was nothing left – not even his salary from Hogwarts! Can you imagine it – with all the books that man must have sold?”

“I must say that I’m not surprised,” Flitwick said. “Gilderoy was never a terribly responsible sort. For the life of me, I still don’t understand why Albus hired the man in the first place. I realize the Defence post has been hard to fill for many years… oh, no offence to you was intended, Marcus!”

“None taken; I knew the position was cursed when I accepted it,” Detheridge admitted.

Flitwick gasped, “Then why on Earth…?”

“I needed to be here,” said Detheridge. “Besides, the only one who’s actually died is the fellow Albus brought in five years back – Quirk, or something – and that wasn’t from the curse.  The Crouch boy doesn’t really count, to my mind.”

Flitwick pondered that for a moment.  “There have been deaths after the fact; you can’t say with certainty that they weren’t curse-related,” he returned.

“I can, actually,” Detheridge assured him.

Rosmerta waved the paper to seize their attention. “Harry, do you want me to speak with that old goat? I know a thing or two about Albus, and trust me when I say that I can change his mind on this. Confining you to Hogwarts – honestly!”

Harry shook his head. “It’s not worth the bother, but thank you. It means a lot to me that you’d, you know… stand up for me like that.”

“If you’re certain…? Well, you can count on me, and not just on account of your mum and dad. Ted Tonks paid on the garret for the entire year and I’ll be holding it for you. I’m still having words with that Headmaster of yours the next time he darkens my door… locking you away in the castle over this… all that alchemy must have addled his brain,” Rosmerta huffed. “I suppose you’re here for your things?”

“I’m afraid he is, Madam,” Flitwick said.

Rosmerta narrowed her eyes at Detheridge. “I see you’re part of this, Marcus?” she said dangerously.

Detheridge held up his hands and said, “I’m just a pack horse; Harry’s apprenticed to Dumbledore, not to me. If it were my choice, I’d just hex the boy to within an inch of his life and be done with it.”

“Thanks a lot for that,” Harry said sourly.

Flitwick drew a pocket watch from his robe. “I do have to lecture at ten o’clock, Harry. If we could…?”

“Yes, yes, off with you,” harrumphed Rosmerta. “I’ll have scones for you when you leave, Harry, and there are always more where those come from.” She muttered on as she went back to the bar. “Confined… not a brain in the man’s head sometimes… I should set Aberforth on him; that would fix the pillock… I hope that phoenix singes his beard… the poor boy’s been through enough…”

Harry couldn’t help but smile as he climbed the stairs. Even though it had only been three weeks, he had begun to feel something of an attachment to the garret. Madam Rosmerta had gone out of her way to make him feel at home, he thought. Sometimes Rosmerta reminded him of Mrs. Weasley; he wondered if she had children of her own. He reached the top of the stairs, then took a step backward and quickly drew his wand.

Detheridge moved beside him and silently mouthed, “What’s wrong?”

Harry mouthed back, “My wards have been down.”

Detheridge palmed his wand and cast two spells. “They’re up now,” he whispered.

Harry shook his head. “They aren’t mine,” he returned.

Detheridge looked to Flitwick, who drew his wand as well. He moved to one side of the door and Flitwick to the other. Flitwick motioned to Harry to stay back, and then counted off 1-2-3 with the fingers on his free hand. At three, the door vanished. Detheridge cast three quick spells – one of which Harry thought was a shield – and then dashed briefly into the open doorway. He laid down a series of stunners and then cleared off.

“Come in, gentlemen,” came Dumbledore’s voice from within. “I’ve been expecting you, but I had not expected to be met with a fusillade of stunning spells. Well done, Marcus… Filius… and well spotted, Harry.”

Harry’s grip on his wand tightened, even as he struggled to keep a grip on his anger. “You broke my wards! This is my flat, whether I’m going to be living in it or not! You can’t just walk through my door any time you like! There… there must be rules about that!”

“Indeed there would be, Harry, had I at all intended to enter your residence. You see, I used to live in this garret many years ago. This area was given over to general storage at the time, and my room was located where the washroom now lies. I apparated here with the intention of arriving in the unused space, and in doing so I’m afraid that I collapsed your wards. May I ask how you knew that the replacement wards were not your own?” asked Dumbledore.

“They didn’t feel like mine,” Harry snapped. “Now what are you doing here?”

“It was my intention to speak with you in a place free of unwanted ears – more properly, to speak with you and our two colleagues,” Dumbledore said. “I had no intention of invading your private space, nor will I do so once you have returned to the castle. Alas, this is yet another example of how things are not always what they seem, nor do they always turn out as intended.” He looked to the side of the room and put on a small smile. “I would ask that we sit but you’ve quite thoroughly destroyed the sofa, Harry. Nothing I have attempted has had any lasting effect.”

Flitwick walked to the pile of sofa bits and sifted through them. “Is this the work of the apothecary spells I gave to you?” he asked.

“I think I twiddled them,” Harry admitted. “I won’t be distracted, though. What do you want, Dumbledore? You could have just summoned me to your office.”

“As I said, I wished to speak with you in a place with no unwanted ears. Regrettably, that cannot always be said of my office,” said Dumbledore. He gave his wand a negligent flick and four squashy armchairs appeared in a circle. With another flick came a table in the centre of the circle, topped by four cups and a steaming pot of tea. “Do you take sugar, Harry?” he asked.

“None for me, thank you,” Harry said sullenly.

“Two sugars please, Albus,” said Flitwick.

“If the world was ending, you Brits would stop for a spot of tea,” Detheridge sighed; “You know I can’t abide by it.” He waved his wand sharply and a paper cup of coffee appeared in his free hand.

“Get on with it, then,” huffed Harry.

“Why did I limit your movements, Harry? Can you explain my actions?” Dumbledore asked.

Harry goggled for a moment before he fired back, “Why should I have to explain your actions to you? That’s all wet, isn’t it?”

“Humour me, apprentice,” Dumbledore said.

“I put you in a terrible position,” Harry sullenly returned.

“I would rather hear an explanation in your own words,” Dumbledore chided him.

“It’s the truth, isn’t it? Lockhart obliviated Heather, I laid him out, and you punished me for it. You did what you had to do,” said Harry.

“That is a partial truth,” Dumbledore countered. “You left out an important step in the sequence of events.”

“I don’t follow,” Harry said.

“What happened immediately after you ‘laid out’ Gilderoy, as you put it?” asked Dumbledore.

“Well… Lockhart got up from the ground, and he…” Harry stopped and thought for a moment. “He turned the whole thing around, didn’t he? How’d he manage that?”

“That is an excellent question,” Dumbledore said. “I am not certain of the answer myself. Gilderoy has always been possessed of a smooth tongue, but I do not recall him responding smoothly to difficult situations.”

Harry thought of Lockhart’s recurring cowardice during his year as a professor, and nodded in agreement.  “So you had to head him off, then?” he advanced.

“Well put,” said Dumbledore. “That was made all the more important by those present. Many of the dignitaries in attendance were within sight of the events, and they recognized what Gilderoy had done to Miss Magruder. However, a number of very important wizards missed the first events and only observed Mr. Lockhart’s abrupt journey through the side of the tent.”

“Through the side of the tent, you say?” Flitwick squeaked. “What in heaven’s name did you do, Harry?”

“I got angry,” Harry said.

Detheridge snorted, “That explains it.”

“Quite so,” said Dumbledore. “In any event… unlike your former professor, Harry, I am quite capable of responding to difficult situations. Improvisation is a skill of mine and one in which I’m rather proficient, if I might be so bold. What conditions did I place upon your movement?”

“You confined me to the grounds, which is why we’re here,” Harry grumbled.

“It was already your intention to relocate to the castle, was it not… or was young Mr. Weasley incorrect?” Dumbledore asked.

“He was trying to push me into it, yeah, and I think Hermione wanted me to agree to it,” admitted Harry.

“Hence my choice was inconsequential,” Dumbledore declared.

“You didn’t just make me move back to the castle, you confined me there,” argued Harry.

Dumbledore stroked his beard and asked, “Was that without exception?”

“There was something about tending to my estate, wasn’t there?” Harry acknowledged.

“I allowed that you could leave when it was necessary to manage the affairs of your estate,” clarified Dumbledore. “Obviously, you must also attend to your duties as my apprentice. Recount for me, if you would, the instances when you have left the Hogwarts grounds since the beginning of term?”

“Other than coming back and forth to Hogsmeade? Well… there was the Goblin Hunt…” Harry began.

“That fell within your responsibilities as an apprentice. Since I was uninvited, it was necessary for you to attend in my stead,” said Dumbledore.

“I went to talk with Arthur Weasley once… and I went to see Heather at my beach…” Harry added.

“Both journeys were to a property of your estate,” Dumbledore affirmed. “It is necessary to provide upkeep and oversight for one’s properties. It would be shameful to allow further decay or decline – an affront to your two families, surely.”

“What if I need to go to Diagon Alley?” Harry asked.

“You will certainly have to meet your trust manager from time to time – Fliptrask, is it?” Dumbledore returned. “There is also the matter of the Weasley twins’ establishment, of which you are a part owner. Between the two, I would imagine that at least three journeys are justifiable between now and the holidays.”

“Hogsmeade?” Harry continued.

“You are expected to arrange regular meetings with your conservators, and we can’t expect Remus or Madam Bones to conduct your business here in the castle. That would set a grievous precedent, given the number of heirs presumptive in attendance,” Dumbledore said. “No, no, I would expect you to take those meetings here. I imagine Madam Rosmerta would be accommodating in that respect. You will also need to meet Mr. Tonks on occasion. I am certain that Professor Tonks would be happy to escort you.”

“Er… MacLeish’s castle?” Harry went on.

“Business of the estate, given that you share joint ownership in the Daily Prophet,” Dumbledore said easily.

“The Ministry?”

“If you are summoned there, you would surely have to comply.”

“Uh… Edinburgh?”

“Potions supplies, of course – I can’t be expected to arrange for those, and that seems suitable work for an apprentice.”

“What about Monte Carlo?” Detheridge smirked. “Surely you can’t keep him from there, or Ibiza… or how about New York? New York’s nice this time of year.”

“There are Confederation meetings in New York from time to time,” Dumbledore said with a casual air. “Monte Carlo… perhaps you intend to set Harry an assignment in the calculation of probabilities?” Flitwick broke into peals of laughter.

“You didn’t cover Ibiza, though,” said Detheridge.

Dumbledore’s lips quivered. “It has been known to be a nesting ground for the white phoenix,” he said, “although I suspect young Harry’s head might be turned by entirely different sorts of birds?”

Detheridge began to laugh. “How can you do that with a straight face?” he managed.

“Decades of practice, Marcus,” Dumbledore said serenely.

Harry shook his head. “So you gave me a meaningless punishment to make it look good?” he asked.

“It is not entirely meaningless. I imagine you will find ever increasing demands on your person simply by being present within the castle. I have a few activities in mind, as it happens,” Dumbledore said. He clapped his hands and continued, “Firstly, I believe you would benefit from occasional attendance at N.E.W.T. level lectures, if invited by the staff. Secondly, you will travel to Hogsmeade on the third Saturday of October in my company.  Some former associates of mine will be visiting. You must meet them, Harry – it is imperative.”

“All right…” Harry said, with not a little apprehension.

“Well, that wasn’t at all cryptic, was it?” mocked Detheridge.

“The both of you will be in attendance,” Dumbledore said to Detheridge and Flitwick. “This will simply be a gathering of old friends, who are seeking to make new friends. No one is to make more of it than that. Do we understand one another?”

Detheridge said, “Clear as crystal.”

Flitwick nodded in agreement but said, “May I ask a question, Albus?”

“You may always ask,” Dumbledore allowed.

“Will any of my former apprentices be in attendance?” Flitwick asked.

“I am expecting Oscar Pomfrey to join us,” said Dumbledore.

Flitwick appeared lost in thought and the four men sat quietly for a few moments. “This may prove a dangerous game,” he said at last.

Dumbledore steepled his fingers and said, “It is a game that you are not required to play.”

Flitwick scowled, which was an expression Harry had never seen on the professor’s face. “Of course I’m required!” Flitwick said dangerously. “At any rate, this will not be a repeat of the last war; with Rinalda gone, there is nothing left to stay my hand. I will stand with you and whoever else is willing to stand with us. This is a matter of honour.”

“Of course,” said Dumbledore.

“Do not take me lightly; you know better than that,” Flitwick warned.

“It has been a long time – longer for you than for me,” Dumbledore offered.

Flitwick rose from his chair and stood defiantly. Despite his height, he suddenly seemed quite imposing. “Harry has been helping me to burn off the dross. You will find my skills more than adequate,” he said with steel in his voice.

Dumbledore raised his hands in defence. “I do not doubt it, my friend,” he said. “If, however, you require a practice duel to raise your spirits, then I will be happy to oblige you.”

The corners of Flitwick’s mouth rose. “You wouldn’t last beyond seven minutes against me,” he said.

“Ah, then some of the dross remains! In your best days, it took you no more than four minutes to best me,” Dumbledore laughed.

“That’s true, but I’m not the only one of us who should be in his dotage,” Flitwick returned.

“I’m still waiting for you to give me a proper duel,” Detheridge said to Flitwick.

“We shan’t duel, my good man,” Flitwick said; “Duelling isn’t your style; we would be more suited to a contest.”

Detheridge broke out in a big smile. “Don’t tease me, Flitwick,” he said.

Dumbledore lit up. “Contests would be smashing!” he said. “In a few weeks, we may have an ample supply of participants. It would do the students a world of good to observe the efforts of experienced wizards, would it not?”

“By ‘experienced’, do you mean ‘old’, Albus?” Flitwick said merrily.

“One does suggest the other,” said Dumbledore. He rose from his seat and then vanished it. “Would you care for some assistance with packing, Harry, or would you rather we await you downstairs?”

Harry considered it and then tried to keep a grin from forming. “Why don’t you wait downstairs, Headmaster? I’m sure Madam Rosmerta would love to catch up,” he said innocently.

“Oh, dear…” Flitwick said under his breath.

“A capital idea, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “I wouldn’t mind one of her delicious scones, as I missed breakfast this morning.”

Detheridge was last out the door and onto the stairs. He turned back to Harry and said, “Lucia will invite you to sit in on History of Magic in a few days’ time. Take her up on it.”

“She told you that?” Harry asked.

“It was mentioned at some point,” said Detheridge. “By the way… that was a nasty trick you just pulled on Albus.”

Harry shrugged and Detheridge laughed. “No need to hurry along, mind you,” Detheridge said, “but I’m heading down… yeah, she’s winding up now. This should be fun to watch.”

Harry took a deep breath and looked around the living room. It dawned on him that there was actually very little to pack. He summoned a few things to the bedroom and began to load his trunk. He bundled a Quidditch shirt around the photo of Hermione to protect it from the rest of the contents. Then he sat on the end of the bed and just breathed. He waited a quarter of an hour – to allow the dust to settle downstairs – before he floated his trunk to the stairs, locked the door and re-cast his own wards.

October 1

The History of Magic classroom was utterly transformed from the days of Professor Binns. Harry had never thought about it before, but he wondered why the room had been shot through with cobwebs during Binns’ days. It was possible, he supposed, that the house elves had been warned off; more likely, they hadn’t been able to stay awake in the room any more than the students had.

Covelli had imbued the room with her style. It was light and airy; the walls were adorned with still paintings of various styles; and even the windows had changed shape. Hermione whispered something about ‘Italianate’, he thought; it slipped his mind as Covelli entered and the room quieted. Books were open, parchments were out, and ink bottles were uncorked. It was utterly unlike any History session that Harry had ever attended.

“We are joined today by my fellow apprentice, Mr. Potter. Thank you for coming; I hope you find this hour enlightening,” said Covelli. “That applies to all of you, of course.” She waved her hand absently and a large chalkboard appeared. She tapped a piece of chalk twice with her wand, and it rose into place against the slate.

She cleared her throat and began, “Today’s topic is Goblin Rebellions.” There were several audible hisses, at least two gagging sounds, and more than one inkpot was tipped. Harry’s stomach roiled.

Covelli let out a great snort. “I cannot believe that you fell for such a silly joke on my part,” she laughed. “If I choose to speak of goblins again in this class, it will be of today’s goblins and not of the rebellions. In fact… I will now summarize for you the totality of lessons learned from the various goblin rebellions. Quills, please?”

She snapped her fingers, and the chalk moved to write as she spoke. “Number one: The goblins did not lose rebellions due to the magical superiority of wizards. Number two: The goblins did not lose rebellions due to the numerical superiority of wizards. Number three: The goblins lost rebellions due to disagreements and – on occasion – battles between their own factions. Number four: Each time the goblins lost a rebellion, they nonetheless won something of value from the wizarding community. E così finisce.” By the time Covelli looked up, not only had Hermione’s hand flown into the air, but also the hands of Mandy Brocklehurst, Anthony Goldstein, Susan Bones, Ron, and even Malfoy.

“Meh… let us move on to something of more consequence,” she said with a flippant air. With a clap of her hands, the slate was cleared; a rumble of murmuring began as people tried to finish their notes with the help of neighbours. Covelli paid the rumbling no mind as she strode toward the magical projector at the centre of the room.

Harry nudged Hermione. “Do her slides look different to you?” he whispered.

Hermione said without looking away from her parchment, “Slides…? Oh, do you mean her projections? They’re not exactly slides, of course; some of them are actually extracts from –”

“I asked if they look different than the ones the other professors use.” Harry said.

Hermione set down her quill and squinted toward Covelli. “They’re a bit blockier, aren’t they? I hadn’t noticed.”

Ron turned around and whispered, “Hers are in blue cases; everyone else’s are clear. Her stuff seems a lot newer, as well; that’s not saying much next to Binns, ‘course…”

Hermione chewed at her lip. “Hadn’t noticed that either…” she muttered.

This time, the chalk scratched against the board before Covelli began to speak. “Today’s topic is ‘Major European Wizarding Conflicts of the Last Two Hundred Years’… yes, Mr. Goyle?”

“Bloody hell, Goyle raised his hand?” Harry hissed. Hermione grasped Harry’s hand to quiet him.

"Er, is that summat we're supposed to be talking of, Professor Doctor?" Goyle asked.

Covelli gave a thin smile. "'Doctor' will do nice, Mr. Goyle. What do you mean by your question? I do not understand."

“It's just... seems like old Ghostie only talked 'bout really old stuff," Goyle said slowly as two seventh-year Slytherins snickered. "Seems to me that's because old Ghostie knew what were on the NEWT exams, mum... and if the newer history weren't on the exams, then it seems to me the Ministry don't want it there."

The room grew very silent, so silent that Harry heard Ron's stomach gurgle. Covelli cleared her throat, a sound which echoed across the room. "That's 'Professor Ghostie', Mr. Goyle. Five points to Slytherin on your behalf, however, as that was an astute observation."

Malfoy raised his hand amidst the chuckling. When called upon, he demanded, "What would lead you to think that the Ministry for Magic is hiding our own history from us? That's a rather treasonous idea, isn't it, Doctor?"

"Only if I am making an unfounded accusation, boy," Covelli returned. "I am happy to continue that discussion outside the confines of this class. Now then..."

Ron carefully leant back toward Harry. "Malfoy's shilling for the Ministry?" he whispered.

As Covelli loaded the projector, Lavender Brown - who was seated beside Ron - turned and said, "He's probably living on a trust allowance, and that means the Ministry's probably in control of his Galleons."

Hermione muttered, "Good point," and then bit down on her quill so hard that a small piece came loose.

The projector came to life with a pop, and the head of a wizard appeared above Covelli's desk. It slowly spun in a circle. The wizard had long, aristocratic features and foppish hair. "This," said Covelli, “is the only known image of a wizard called Racine. It was crafted from a pensieve image taken from one of his victims who happened to survive. I assure you that this did not happen often."

"He doesn't look like much," Adrian Pucey said.

"Looks can deceive, Mr. Pucey, though at first glance I would not disagree," said Covelli. "Racine was responsible for the deaths of at least a thousand witches and wizards over a ten year period, and ten times that many non-magical people."

"Bloody hell," someone forcefully whispered.

“It was certainly bloody, and surely it was hell for some," Covelli agreed. "Racine was an alchemist - of that, history is certain. His true identity was never revealed. It is believed that he was pursuing a new form of alchemy, but that the results were rather ruthlessly suppressed upon his defeat. He was brought down in 1815 by this man -" She changed the projection to reveal the head of an unremarkable wizard somewhere in his middle years. "Nicolas Flamel," she finished.

Terry Boot raised his hand. "I had understood that Flamel was purely a scholar, Doctor," he said.

"One cannot live for hundreds of years without a rather... varied existence," Covelli countered. "A case in point, Mr. Boot: the Headmaster has been a scholar and educator for much of his life, yet he led the group who vanquished the Dark Lord Grindelwald."

Tony Goldstein's hand shot up. "Headmaster Dumbledore led a group against…? What group, Doctor? I've not seen any references to a group -"

Covelli waved him off. "We will come to that," she said with visible discomfort. "Shall I continue?"  The entire class sat forward in their seats. Harry had to admit that Covelli was drawing him in, which was something he'd never expected from a history class.

"Master Flamel had a team of his own," Covelli continued. She changed the projection again. Racine's head moved far to the left and Flamel's to the right, where it was joined by four more. The first new head briefly glowed. "This was Takeda Yatsusana, one of Master Flamel's three apprentices at the time. Master Yatsusana was apprenticed to Flamel by his father, who was a leader in the Japanese magical community and the first Japanese representative to the ICW."

The second head then glowed. "This was Boris Karensky, the second of Master Flamel's apprentices in those days. Master Karensky was one of the greatest of Flamel's alchemical apprentices. Those of you in NEWT Potions will work from some of his postulates."

The third head took its place. The wizard was still a young man in the image that floated over Covelli’s desk, but Harry had no doubt about his identity. "This is Alexandre de Maupassant, the third of Master Flamel's apprentices,” Covelli said. “De Maupassant has been an alchemist, duellist, gourmand, and a lover of women – absurdly so... and in my informed opinion, he is… ehh… the ‘right pain in the arse’."

Hermione appeared scandalized but resigned – Harry figured she’d spent enough time around Covelli to expect such a remark – even as Ron attempted to stuff his fist into his own mouth to hold back the laughter. Harry discovered that Hannah Abbott snorted when she laughed, and that Terry Boot hiccupped. For his part, Malfoy was rubbing at his temples and forcibly looking downward so that no one would see him smile. Harry was half-tempted to launch a mild stinging hex so Malfoy would raise his head, but thought better of it.

When the class returned to a semblance of order, Covelli motioned to the floating images. “You may now ask your questions,” she declared.

Goyle raised his hand once again, and the class went deadly silent; Malfoy appeared thunderstruck. “You say that the Marquis is a right pain in th’ arse – beggin’ your pardon, mum – like the bloke’s still kicking,” he said; “Blimey, but he’d be an old bugger, eh?”

“Two more points to Slytherin, Mr. Goyle, but do know that Mr. de Maupassant’s title is spoken as ‘mar-KEY’, not ‘MAR-kwiz’,” Covelli said kindly. “I did indeed use the present tense. The Marquis remains alive to this day… despite his best efforts from time to time. He is rather like a woman when asked his true age…” This time the laughter started with Lavender Brown, and soon the room was filled with snorting and hiccupping and braying and coughing.

Harry saw that Goyle was tapping the fingers of one hand with the other, as though he was counting. Above the din, Goyle said quietly, “Right, had to be an old enough bloke to fight… was with Old Man Flamel ‘round 1800…”; then he nudged Pucey and whispered, “The bugger must be ‘round about two hundred and thirty.” With that, he tapped Pucey’s arm and half-raised his own before pulling it down quickly.

Harry leant close to Hermione’s ear and asked, “What’s going on with Goyle?”

“He worked out how old the Marquis is, didn’t he?” Hermione whispered.

“Looked like it to me. Is he giving it over to Pucey?” wondered Harry.

“Goyle’s been different this year,” Hermione allowed. “You haven’t seen it, of course, because you’ve not been around the classes. It almost seems as if he’s studying… perhaps he really is?”  Pucey shook his head firmly at Goyle, who sighed and slid his hands beneath his bottom as though he wanted to keep them from rising. Hermione turned to Harry with her eyebrows raised; he gave a small shrug in return.

“Mr. Goyle, you have something else to add?” Covelli asked abruptly.

“Erm… no, mum… uh… Professor… er, Doctor… nothing to add,” Goyle said roughly.

“Our man Greg was just saying that the Marquis must be in the neighbourhood of two hundred and thirty years old,” Pucey piped up. Goyle turned an unattractive shade of purple at that.

“You are not required to answer my questions unless I say it is so,” Covelli said to Goyle. “I admit that I am curious how you came to that number, however.”

Pucey slapped Goyle on the shoulder. “Out with it, Greg. You’re not a muppet, and Malfoy shan’t be treating you as one,” he said.

Malfoy threw his quill against his desk and it clattered into the next row, close to Pucey and Goyle and three seats behind Harry. “Enough, Pucey – I get it!” he snapped.

“Mr. Malfoy! Collect your quill immediately!” Covelli demanded.

As he passed, Malfoy hissed at Pucey, “Bloody upstart… your family was nothing when mine was already fully ascended… probably grubbing in the mud, weren’t they…?”

Pucey began to rise from his seat but Goyle caught him by the sleeve. “Draco aren’t worth it… got a big mouth and a little wand,” Goyle said in full voice.

“You will pay me the respect I’m due!” Malfoy shouted at Goyle.

“MR. MALFOY!” Covelli shouted in return. Pucey looked to Harry and mouthed ‘take points’. Harry’s brow beetled, and Pucey repeated the same phrase.

“Twenty points from Slytherin and detention with Mr. Filch, Mr. Malfoy,” Harry said calmly. “That’s a sight better than Dr. Covelli has in mind, I’ll wager, and a sight better than you deserve. I won’t make you apologize to Mr. Pucey because I doubt you’ll mean it.” He quickly turned to Covelli and added, “I apologise for stepping in, ma’am, but I’d really rather hear the rest of your lecture than listen to this twaddle.”

“Thank you, Mr. Potter, and I thank you for the bit of flattery as well,” Covelli said. “Mr. Goyle, I shall have to take two points for your comments regarding Mr. Malfoy, without consideration for their accuracy.” Her expression was even, almost empty. Harry recognized it for what it was: the blankness of intense Occlumency. He was sure she had been thinking of something more permanent than the removal of points, at least for a moment. She took a long breath and added, “Five points to your choice of house, Mr. Potter…?”

Harry thought for a moment, and then said, “Slytherin, please – on behalf of Mr. Goyle.” Ron turned to Harry, dumbstruck.

Covelli cracked a small smile. “I would have made a similar choice. Mr. Malfoy, you will collect your things and leave my presence – now. You will report to Mr. Filch this evening. It is fortunate for you that Slytherin is without a Head of House.” She crossed her arms and waited until Malfoy left the room with a loud slam of the heavy doors.

“Now then, Mr. Goyle, would you care to explain why you believe the Marquis de Maupassant is two hundred and thirty years old?” Covelli asked.

Goyle tugged at his collar as though it had suddenly gone tight. “Well… er… it’s like this… the bloke was with Old Man Flamel, see? You say they offed this Racine in eighteen hun’red an’ fifteen, and that Racine was offin’ wizards for ten years… that puts it to eighteen hun’red an’ five. He was out of his regular schooling, eh?” Pucey grinned at him.

“That would explain an estimate of two hundred and five years, roughly,” said Covelli. “Why did you add twenty-five years, Mr. Goyle?”

Goyle cleared his throat; it was a rough sound. “Flamel, he were an alchemist, and an apprentice would be twenty-seven at the least, mum.”

Covelli couldn’t keep the surprise off of her face. “Ten years beyond essential schooling was the apprenticing standard prior to ICW standardization, Mr. Goyle… well done. This takes us to… two hundred and fifteen. The additional fifteen years, if you please?”

“Marquis is a royal thing… wit’ a name like his, I figure on the Muggle Frenchies. There ain’t no French royals, mum, not since seventeen hun’red an’ ninety or thereabouts,” Goyle said. “I figure he did his proper schooling before that, so he’s from seventeen hun’red an’ seventy… maybe before that, so I put in another ten years…”

“Oh, very well done, Mr. Goyle!” Covelli said with a happiness Harry had rarely heard in her voice. “Application to one’s studies does wonders, yes? Remain diligent, if you please?”

“Good show, Greg,” Harry heard Pucey whisper.

“Haven’t brought in this many points since… since never,” Goyle muttered in return.

“Before we move onward,” Covelli said, “it is important to name the fourth man whose head adorns our room. Does anyone happen to recognize this man? I do not expect it would be so. Anyone?”

After a few moments of silence, Covelli said, “This is the fourth member of Master Flamel’s team, Jean de Flandres. Mr. de Flandres was the non-magical fourth son of a renowned French wizarding family – you’ll not find a witch or wizard in France who will speak of which family it may have been. He was a soldier who supported the French revolutionaries prior to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte – who became the non-magical Emperor of France for a time – and was in hiding when he crossed paths with Master Flamel.

“It was Mr. de Flandres who made the initial connection between Racine’s victims and then correctly pointed Flamel and his apprentices. Master Flamel noted in documents of the time that Mr. de Flanders personally saved his life on at least three occasions between 1807 and 1815. He arranged for Mr. de Flanders to meet a young witch from Belgium, to whom he was eventually married. Their third son, August de Flanders, rose to serve as the Belgian Minister for Magic before falling victim to one of Grindelwald’s attacks in the 1930s. His descendants are an accomplished group, and continue to play a major role in European wizarding life.” The only sound in the room for more than a minute was the scraping of quills on parchment. It wasn’t lost on Harry that he had learned more wizarding history in the course of half an hour than he could recall from the five previous years. He wondered how the blood purists in the room felt about the idea that a Squib had saved the life of the world’s greatest alchemist not once, but three times.

“And now we move to Tramposo,” Covelli pressed on.

“Tramposo?” Ron whispered.

“He was a Spanish dark wizard,” Hermione told him quietly.

“Miss Granger, I prefer that you share with the class as a whole,” Covelli said. “Who was Tramposo, if you please?”

“Antoni Serra Tramposo was a Spanish dark wizard whose rise began in 1877,” Hermione said quickly, almost reflexively. “He was defeated by the Marquis de Maupassant in 1886.”

“Two points to Gryffindor, Miss Granger, but Tramposo was not precisely a Spaniard,” corrected Covelli.

“Tramposo was Catalonian, of course; he came from Puigcerda. With a difference of a few miles, he could have been a Frenchman,” Daphne Greengrass tossed off casually. She finished with a wink at Hermione and a chilling glare at Covelli.

“Two points to Slytherin, Miss Greengrass… and one taken for failing to be recognized before speaking,” said Covelli. She changed the projection to reveal a sleek-looking long-faced wizard with an alarming smile. “The wizarding governments of Europe were in turmoil in the 1870s, and the time was ripe for someone like Tramposo. He wanted to see the restrictions on secrecy lifted and a greater Europe established under the rule of the magical community. He intended to use the non-magical royals of the day as his tools. It was during such an attempt that Tramposo was found out by the Marquis de Maupassant.”

The Marquis’s image returned – older, but not sixty years older to Harry’s eye. “He was unable to rouse the Ministers of the day, and so he assembled a group that spread across Europe to contain Tramposo and his followers. This period was marked by infrequent but bloody battles, but it was Tramposo who suffered most of the losses each time.

“The Marquis’s colleague Boris Karensky took charge of the hunt in the east, working from St. Petersburg. Roger Potter… Mr. Potter’s great-great grandfather, I believe… organized the Germans. The Dumbledores looked after England and a goodly portion of France. Karensky took charge of the entire operation for a time while the Marquis dealt with a blood feud that resulted from his… ehh… indiscretions with the wife of an Italian count, but that is another matter…”

Harry reeled from the idea that he wasn’t the first Potter to be part of the first line of defence against a dark wizard. As he thought on it, however, he supposed that the House of Potter must have acquired the title of ‘Courageous’ for a reason – a reason that came about long before Roger Potter took a stand.

“Tramposo was fond of using magical creatures in battle, both naturally occurring and those of his own design. The Marquis enlisted a friend of the Headmaster, our own Professor Croaker, to take charge of the offence against these creatures. Professor Croaker was forced to wipe out or contain entire species, some of which no longer live even in the history books. Some held him responsible in those days, but I assure you that this was the only means to put a stop to Tramposo. This vile man was in his own way every bit as horrible as your Voldemort –” Covelli stopped for a moment to allow the inevitable hisses and shuffling to stop.

“The Marquis and his closest colleagues eliminated Tramposo and his inner circle in a pitched battle near Barcelona. The battle began on October 22, 1886 and lasted nine days,” Covelli said. The room grew quiet. Harry tried and failed to contemplate a nine-day fight between wizards like Dumbledore and Voldemort. The projections faded and then winked out entirely.

“In the end,” Covelli said into the silence, “the Marquis and four of his comrades – Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor Croaker, Professor Marchbanks, and Tiberius Ogden – were all who remained alive on the field of battle. The Marquis returned to his château and did not leave it until the twentieth century dawned.” Silence held once more until the signal came for the end of the class period.

Covelli cleared her throat. “You have your readings for the next session; be certain to continue research toward your end-of-term papers, please,” she said. “We will take up with… with Grindelwald at next week’s session…” She walked slowly to her desk and turned her back on the class as they gathered their things. Harry dashed out of the classroom well ahead of Hermione. He caught Pucey and Goyle just as they reached the stairs that led down to the dungeons.

Pucey went halfway for his wand before he realized it was Harry who pulled at his robe. He quickly recovered and said coolly, “Leave the sneaking to the snakes, Potter.”

“Why did you have me take the points from Malfoy?” Harry demanded. He turned to Goyle and added, “Pucey baited him; and when Malfoy didn’t bite, you went for it as well. Covelli would have done it if I hadn’t been asked. I don’t follow…?”

Pucey crossed his arms. “Have you ever heard of the Hogwarts Book of Punishments?”

“The… what?” Harry managed.

“I’m surprised; I’d have figured on you for a chapter of your own,” Pucey chuckled. “You have heard of the Hogwarts Register of Births, correct?”

“You know…? The enchanted book what records each magical birth? The one old McGonagall uses?” said Goyle.

“Yes, I know about the Register,” Harry said impatiently. “This Book of Punishments, it does the same with detentions or something?”

“Detentions, points – all of it,” Pucey confirmed. “There’s something about the Book that even a lot of pure families don’t know, you see?”

“The parents can have it,” Goyle said solemnly. “Every time there are points taken, they get an owl.”

“What sort do you expect might make that arrangement?” Pucey asked.

Harry thought for a long moment. “So you wanted my name next to the points… what, in case Malfoy’s dad ever collects his post? You figured that it might make Malfoy look better?”

“That’s it in one,” said Pucey.

Harry couldn’t follow the reasoning. “But… it looks like you’re trying to push him aside, right? Why do you care how he’s seen?” he asked.

“Have to be Slytherin to understand it,” Goyle said.

Harry shrugged. “Apparently,” he said.

Pucey patted him on the shoulder. “No worries, Potter. I asked you to do it and you came through. That works in both directions.” Goyle gave a stiff nod and they started down the stairs.

October 6

Harry had gone from being merely busy to nearly frantic. He was continuously scheduled from eight in the morning until six in the evening, Monday through Saturday, with special tutorials on Monday and Thursday evenings. He read, he wrote, he analysed, he watched, and he fought. He assisted Detheridge with the first through third years, and he assisted Bill and Tonks with the Duelling Club – Harry was supposed to be in charge, but it rarely played out that way and he was happier for it. Dumbledore pulled him in at odd hours for tuition that ranged from managing one's emotions to the magic behind wizarding portraiture to handling student problems to means for permanent conjuring to various strategies for success in ten-pin bowling. Harry quickly learned to expect the unexpected with the Headmaster. In addition, Dumbledore continued to instruct Potions – 'my replacement is on his way', he regularly said – and a number of people including Harry were beginning to wonder if the Headmaster might end up splitting his time for the entire term.

Once he returned to the castle, Harry began to take his Sunday meals at the Gryffindor table. Some of the staff had been vocal in their opposition to this, but Harry had insisted and Dumbledore had prevailed upon the rest to accept the decision. It was his free day, and Harry wanted to maintain some sort of connection with people other than Ron and Hermione. He wanted to keep Neville close and Ginny as well. He wanted to look after Luna when he could manage it, and it was easier for him to ask after her on Sundays. Hermione, Ginny, Neville and even Ron were also on 'Luna watch'. Hermione mentioned that she had some ideas about what might be affecting Luna, and Harry knew that Covelli had met with Luna more than once.

As the evening meal on Sunday the sixth of October came to a close, Harry wanted nothing more than to return to his quarters and gain an extra few hours of sleep. He was about to beg off early, when the doors to the Great Hall slammed open and Hagrid burst through.

“Evening, all! ’E's here at last, Perfesser Dumbledore! Do I bring him here, or would yeh want him off ta his rooms?” Hagrid called out.

“I expect he has been looking forward to his introduction,” Dumbledore returned over a flurry of whispering. “Do ask his preference, Hagrid, but I dare say he will choose to meet us here.”

“Righ',” Hagrid said. He disappeared into the corridor for a few moments, and then returned. “Yeh had him in one, Perfesser,” the giant gamekeeper laughed. He walked down the centre of the hall and took his seat at the head table.

Harry stifled a laugh when the unknown guest entered the hall. A stunning young woman in a sleek gold robe walked at his right. Hermione took in a sharp breath. “What's he doing here?” Ron whispered.

The man doffed his hat. “Felicitations to you, people of Hogwarts!” he said. “I am your humble servant, Alexandre, the Marquis de Maupassant. As to your, ehh, vacant post for the Potions... she is no more, for I shall be teaching you on the morrow.”

Dumbledore put on a mischief-laced grin that gave Harry pause. “Splendid to see you, Marquis! Would you be so kind as to introduce your associate?”

“But of course! A wizard of such advanced age as myself cannot manage his affairs without the help, you see? I am so fortunate to have the help of a lady as lovely and accomplished as this. She -” He directed the attention of the hall to the dark-haired beauty beside him. “She is Mademoiselle Anna de Flandres. The father of Mlle. de Flandres, he is Achille de Flandres, Ministre de la Magie for Belgium. Mlle. de Flandres was schooled at the Scuola di Magia e Stregoneria in Venice, and she has the Mastery in Potions from the International Confederation. She studies with me now for the Mastery in Alchemy. Mlle. de Flandres, she will be the last of my apprentices.”

“Thank you, Marquis; and welcome to Hogwarts, Miss de Flandres,” Dumbledore declared. “Obviously, some of you – especially those young men who come from established wizarding families – are familiar with the Marquis' infamous manual, Scandalous Tactics for Duelling. I assure you that this is far from the pinnacle of his long and illustrious career. The Marquis, like myself, apprenticed with Nicholas Flamel and is a formidable potions scholar. He has served his people with distinction for more than two hundred years and has been the official representative of France to the International Confederation of Wizards since 1903.

“The Marquis will be taking up residence in the south tower, which has been unoccupied for many a year. Potions instruction will be moving to the tower as well. Your prefects will distribute additional information at tomorrow's breakfast. Should any additional texts be required, they will be provided to you all as a courtesy. It is also my pleasure to announce that, in addition to taking up the post of Professor of Potions, the Marquis has consented to serve as the Slytherin Head of House for the remainder of this year.”

Harry didn't know what to make of the reaction from the Slytherins. It occurred to him that this was because the Slytherins didn't know what to make of the Marquis. Adrian Pucey was the first to stand and applaud; he was quickly joined by Malfoy. The combination appeared to stir the rest of the upper form students, who were then followed by the younger years.

“Please, please... resume the sitting, please,” the Marquis insisted. “I, ehh, relish the chance to do this for Hogwarts. I am not a young man, but I remember well my good and noble friends who came to me from the house of Slytherin. They understood the honour and they understood the meaning – the purpose – of cunning. My young snakes, we will remember that to be the Slytherins is to be, ehh... how you say...?” He turned to Mlle. de Flandres, and rattled off, “Les maitres de nos destinees...?”

She hesitated for a moment, and then said in a flowing accent, “You will remember to be the masters of your destinies.”

“Yes, yes... these are the words,” the Marquis said. He drew his sword with frightening speed – so quickly that the Hufflepuffs near him ducked for cover – and held it before him, point up. “I salute you, Hogwarts. Perhaps you will decide that the last Potions Master, he was not so bad – who can say?” He replaced his sword in its scabbard and bowed to the head table. “If you will grant me leave, Mugwump Dumbledore? I am unaccustomed to the travel and must rest these old bones.”

Dumbledore smiled kindly. “By all means, Marquis. Hagrid, would you... no, no. Mr. Potter, would you be so kind as to direct the Marquis? He will be in the south tower.”

Harry spoke up, “Er... the south tower, Headmaster?”

Dumbledore laughed, “Of course! It has been many a year, after all. Take the Marquis and his associate to the first floor landing and then to the right. From there, the portraits will guide you.”

“Best I follow along with the luggage, Perfesser,” Hagrid said. “These two, they don’t travel light.”

The Marquis replaced his sword in its scabbard. He flashed a broad smile at Harry, reached out, and clasped both of Harry’s hands. “Monsieur Potter… how excellent to see you once again!” he said.

“Er… a pleasure, sir,” returned Harry.

“And Mlle. Granger… I remain enchanted,” the Marquis said. He released Harry, leant toward Hermione and kissed her on each cheek. While she spluttered, he straightened and thrust his arm across the table. “Monsieur Weasley, how fare you, my young chevalier?”

“Very well, sir,” Ron squeaked. He gestured awkwardly toward Neville. “Uh… this is…”

Neville stood and bowed slightly. “Marquis, I am Neville Longbottom, of the houses of Longbottom, Croaker and Castor. It is an honour, sir.” Ron gaped at him, and both Parvati and Ginny studied him rather intensely.

“Monsieur Longbottom, I know of your families; the honour is mine, young sir,” the Marquis said in very formal fashion. “You are of the same house as Algernon, yes?”

Neville nodded. “Yes, sir; he’s seated right there at the –”

“I see him there, yes,” the Marquis said dismissively. “Algie and I, we are fully acquainted. He is a brilliant man, no? Still, he is… ehh… quelle bourrique!” Lavender nearly spat pumpkin juice at that, and then broke into a fit of coughing.

Mlle. de Flandres let her hand rest on the Marquis’ arm. “Pardon, Your Grace, but you were intending to refrain from… public judgments…?” she said.

The Marquis patted her hand. “Of course, of course,” he said. “There is nothing to fear, dear girl; I am the old fool… this is known by all, yes?” He turned to Harry and continued, “Monsieur Potter, I am ready to be taken to my rooms. You will escort my apprentice.”

With that, the Marquis began to issue rapid-fire instructions to Hagrid regarding the luggage. Harry was sure that at least some of them were in French, and Hagrid did a good deal of nodding. Anna de Flandres crooked her arm and stood patiently until Harry realized that he was expected to take her arm. He did so uncomfortably, and saw that Hermione was watching with a smirk on her lips.

No words were spoken as they walked down the first floor corridor. Mlle. de Flandres kept her hold on Harry’s arm, and even tightened it at the sight of a clutch of castle ghosts. The Marquis was chatting away with Hagrid, who seemed amused both by the Marquis and by the directions coming from the portraits.

“You are not what I expected, Mr. Potter,” she said abruptly.

Harry answered with a start, “What did you expect, exactly?”

“The Marquis, he described a chevalier – friend of the goblins, defender of the downtrodden, vanquisher of dark wizards,” Mlle. de Flandres said. “You seem… common.”

Harry voice tightened. “I see.”

“I do not say this to offend,” she added. “The Marquis is an extravagant man; he enjoys the trappings of wealth and power. Your Headmaster, he exudes power. I assume that you can feel this. You seem a common man – an ordinary man – though you, too, give off an aura of power. You are unaffected by your accomplishments. This is an unexpected quality, an attractive quality. You are an attractive man… if a bit shorter than I would have thought.”

“I get that rather a lot – the comment about being short, that is,” Harry said.

“Size is not equal to greatness,” she countered. “Napoleon, he was a very short man.”

“Erm… are you flirting with me?” Harry asked.

Mlle. de Flandres drew back from him and searched his face with her eyes before she broke into a soft laugh. “But of course – outrageously so,” she said.

Harry was taken aback. “Why?” he asked.

“We have a mutual friend, you and I: Fleur Delacour…” she said.

“Really? You know Fleur well?”

“Fleur’s father is a diplomat. My father and he operate in the same circles, and our families have been well acquainted for a century or more,” said Mlle. de Flandres. “When I asked after you, Fleur told me that it would be best if I were very direct in my intentions. Have I not been direct?”

“Very direct,” Harry said.

“By coming to Hogwarts, I will be able to complete my studies with the Marquis and pursue you as a partner,” she said simply.

Harry stammered, “A p-partner? Look, you’re attractive – very attractive… er… very, very attractive… gorgeous, actually… but I’m already… uh… in partnership, and there’s Voldemort to think of, and you must be five years or more –”

Mlle. de Flandres’ brow creased. “This is all the more reason to diversify your interests, Mr. Potter.”

“Diversify…? I… er… I’ve not heard it put that way…” managed Harry.

“Is that so? But why…? Oh – oh, my; the words were chosen poorly,” she said. “I was not referring to pursuit of a sexual partner or marriage partner – although I certainly wouldn’t dismiss those possibilities.”

“Gkkk,” Harry said, or something very like it.

“I was referring to a business partnership, of course,” Mlle. de Flandres assured him. “The Marquis has offered me the opportunity to acquire his horticultural concerns, but even with my family’s resources this will require a minority partner. I feel there is an opportunity to not only improve the quality of patent potions but also to control the European market.”

“I… uh… I’ll put you in contact with Ted Tonks; he handles my money – that sort of thing,” Harry said quickly.

“Really? You would do that? Oh, how excellent! I shall have to thank Fleur… and thank you,” she said happily and bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. Mlle. de Flandres bounced very pleasantly, Harry decided, just before she leant in and kissed him on both cheeks.

Harry managed to get out, “Hagrid? How far is this tower, anyway?”

Hagrid called back, “Just ‘round the bend, Harry – erf! Bloody luggage… has a mind of its own, eh?”

The south tower was much lower than the others, just three floors from bottom to top. The first floor was dominated by a bright and airy potions classroom with a very modern look to it. Stairs led to the second floor, which included two offices and quarters for Mlle. de Flandres. The third floor was given over to the Marquis. His chambers were massive and opulently furnished. Mlle. de Flandres took charge of the luggage and the Marquis strolled from room to room.

“I will make do with this,” he announced at last.

October 8

Covelli's projector came to life. The lights in the History classroom dimmed, and an angular face appeared above her desk. It was familiar and large - larger than the floating heads from the previous class – and a collective gasp filled the room.

Her voice sliced through the air. “Grindelwald,” she said, which brought a second gasp.

She began to pace along the aisle that divided the students in two. “He was a philosopher who became a politician, and a politician who became a zealot and a mass murderer, on a scale never seen or even imagined in the wizarding world,” she explained. “Miss... Greengrass, who was this man? Where did he come from? How did he rise?”

Daphne Greengrass sat bolt upright. “Er... Grindelwald was born in 1862 in Austria, to pure-blooded parents reputedly tied to the Knights of Walpurgis. He -”

Covelli cut her off. “What was his name?”

Daphne hesitated for a moment. “His name was Grindelwald. That's all he was called: Grindelwald.”

“Two points to Slytherin for the first portion of your answer,” Covelli said. “Anyone?”

Anthony Goldstein raised his hand. “Walden Grindelius Ollivander,” he said.

“Three points to Ravenclaw,” said Covelli.

“Ollivander? Not the Ollivander?” Dean Thomas blurted out.

Anthony shook his head. “They were first cousins, twice removed,” he said, “but dark wizardry runs in the family. My wand's from Gregorovitch, thank you very much.”

Covelli drew her wand and cast illuminated letters into the air; they were soft and solid, unlike the flaming letters Tom Riddle had used.

O L L I V A N D E R

She slowly repositioned the letters and used her body to partially block the view until she finished the task. As soon as her wand was put away, she stepped aside to reveal the new words:

A N _  E V I L _  L O R D

“I can't believe I didn't see that,” Anthony murmured.

“Some believe that the family was cursed many centuries ago,” said Covelli. “For whatever reason, the various branches of the Ollivander family produce a dangerously dark wizard every few generations. Ollivander used his first and middle name to create Grindelwald, but he was also paying homage to a minor dark wizard called Uberwald. Uberwald was a friend of the Austrian Ollivanders who started an uprising over encroachment by non-magical folk into the mountain region where he lived. After sacking the homes and lands of several dozen settlers, he attempted to infect an entire village with dragon pox. Uberwald unwittingly discovered that non-magicals cannot contract the disease; instead, he and his follows accidentally infected themselves and all died shortly thereafter.

“Grindelwald completed his studies at Durmstrang under the Ollivander name, and then took up the study of philosophy at a non-magical university in Sweden -”

Pucey raised his hand. “A university, ma'am? That's the sort of place you attended to become a doctor, right?”

“Well recalled, Mr. Pucey – one point to Slytherin,” Covelli said. “Ollivander completed a doctor of philosophy degree, thus earning the privilege to refer to himself as a doctor. It was at about this time that he experienced a series of very negative incidents involving non-magical people, including thefts, assaults and the murder of a close friend. A few months later, he saved a close wizarding friend from possible death at the hands of a group of rural non-magicals who were in fervour over witchcraft. It was then that he adopted the name Oliver Grindelwald, and began to write a series of tracts about relationships between magical and non-magical people. He grew increasingly bitter, and began to be seen in Austria as a voice for even greater separation. Now then, how did Grindelwald begin his rise to power?”

Hermione raised her hand. “He was elected to the Cisleithanian Court in 1908, and appointed Vice-Chancellor in 1914,” she said.

“Correct – two points to Gryffindor,” Covelli said. “By the time he rose to Vice-Chancellor, his adopted first name was rarely used; he was merely referred to as Grindelwald. What happened in 1914 that changed the social and political landscape in Europe? Anyone? Those of you with a non-magical upbringing may have an advantage here...”

Terry Boot tentatively raised his hand. “That's when the Muggles started their world war, isn't it? Some royal was shot during a visit to the Balkans, and then everything went pear-shaped.”

“Professor Tonks must be changing the Muggle Studies course rather significantly,” Covelli said. “Two points to Ravenclaw, Mr. Boot. The First World War began in 1914 and proceeded until 1918. The War left Germany in ruins, opened the door for the Communists to take over Russia, and ushered in an era of economic instability that culminated in a world wide economic depression by the end of the 1920s. All of this affected the magical community across Europe as well, to a far greater extent than wizards of the day recognised. Suddenly food was scarce; the cost to maintain secrecy increased dramatically, and the war had destroyed major magical creature preserves, goblin mines, and other significant resources. As non-magical Germany descended into chaos, magical Germany followed. The Austrian Chancellor for Magic resigned under duress, and Grindelwald was elevated. By 1930, he had consolidated the magical governments of Austria and Germany and had moved the seat of government to Salzburg.

“Grindelwald used his 1933 address to the International Confederation of Wizards to speak on what he termed 'the natural development of the human species'. You will read the text of this speech for the next session, at which time we will discuss its implications for today's wizarding community. At the time, the implications were perfectly clear. Grindelwald believed that it was the right of the magical community to control the world, magical and non-magical alike. He believed that magical people represented the next stage of human development, and therefore that non-magical people were inferior and could not be trusted to manage their own affairs. He believed that non-magical people had to be shown a 'firm hand', whether by wizards or by their own leaders, and he was increasingly attracted to the policies of the non-magical German leader Adolf Hitler.”

Harry couldn't help but notice that Covelli was growing pale and her right hand was shaking. By Hermione's reaction, he was sure that she noticed the same. Still, Covelli kept on. “By 1934, he saw Hitler as the perfect tool for subjugating the non-magical people of Europe,” she said. “Hitler and his minions were fascinated by the non-magical world's idea of magic and the occult, and Grindelwald played to this fascination. By 1936, a number of Grindelwald's lieutenants were implanted into the upper echelons of Hitler's Nazi Party. Here are some of the wizards and witches involved.” The projector clicked, and a series of smaller heads replaced that of Grindelwald. She looked to the first one on the left, and blanched. “One of Grindelwald's chief associates... Otto Bormann... was a cousin of... he was a cousin...”

Anthony Goldstein started to stand. “Dr. Covelli...?”

Covelli slumped against her desk and babbled, “...was a cousin to Martin Bormann, who was Hitler's right hand... Martin Bormann died in the spring of 1945, but Otto... some thought he was dead, but I knew better... they'd gone to ground and they had help, help in high places... I tracked him for weeks, months...” She stumbled forward and Ron burst from his seat to catch her.

“Help me out here, Goldstein,” Ron groaned.

“He had to die...” Covelli murmured. Her hair blew as if in a breeze, even though the room was still.

“Send for Professor Dumbledore,” Hermione said.

“There was someone called Bormann, in the memory I saw,” Harry recalled.

“Send for Professor Dumbledore – now!” repeated Hermione. Harry drew his wand and cast his stag Patronus twice in the direction of the Headmaster's study. Hermione followed with a half-dozen castings of her otter in a variety of directions.

“I'll fetch Pomfrey,” Pucey said. “Greg, help them carry the Professor to her study -”

Ron shook his head. “We're not going farther than the desk,” he said; “There's something really wrong here...”

Hermione dashed to the desk and Harry followed Pucey out the door and into the corridor. “Be sure that the hearth in the Professor's office is unblocked,” Pucey called back as he took to the stairs in a dead sprint.

Harry turned back toward the classroom and nearly ran into Professor Croaker, who was panting and huffing. “Did that otter belong to a student? Fine piece of work, that,” he managed.

“Come with me,” Harry said.

Somehow Croaker managed to enter the classroom first. He started, “What have you gotten up to now, Lucia... oh, dear...”

Professor Marchbanks ambled into the room next; her cane thumped loudly against the stone floor. “Good heavens, has she been telling you children of the days of Grindelwald?” she bellowed. “Would someone do us all a favour and cancel the charm on that blasted apparatus, please? You there – Longbottom, isn't it? I think we've all seen quite enough of those ghastly faces.”

Croaker waved his wand mildly in the direction of Covelli. “Her magic's a bit off, but it's nothing Albus or Alex – or I, for that matter – can't reckon with,” he pronounced.

“The girl's magic has always been a bit off,” Marchbanks declared, “but her heart was in the right place. Now do you see...? This is what comes of having the Ministry interfere in the content and conduct of teaching and examinations. The poor dear has no business discussing those dark times, none whatever. Where are her notes, Algernon?”

“Most likely on the lectern,” Croaker said absently. “Lucia...? Can you hear me? If you can, it would be good form to say so...”

Marchbanks leafed through a stack of parchments and a Muggle notebook. “She always was the well organised one,” she said fondly.

Pucey returned to the room. “Pomfrey's nowhere to be found, but the Headmaster's on his way. I think the Marquis was headed in this direction as well.”

“Splendid! Alex is the best one to sort this out, I should think,” Croaker said. “So... shall I finish the lecture, or would you rather have a go at it, Zelda?”

“My name is Griselda, you oaf, and I'll thank you to speak it properly,” Marchbanks returned. “If I am reading correctly... Professor Covelli had reached the latter 1930s...?”

“Do you seriously intend to continue?” drawled Malfoy. “A number of my fellow students seem rather disturbed by all of this.”

The Headmaster swept into the classroom. “Your concern is touching, Mr. Malfoy, but Dr. Covelli would not appreciate a disruption in your tuition – even if she is the cause,” he said. “The Marquis will join us shortly. Professor Croaker, if you could relocate Dr. Covelli to her office? Mr. Weasley, Mr. Goldstein, please assist Professor Croaker in any way that he asks.”

“Would you prefer to take this lesson, Professor Dumbledore?” Marchbanks asked. “There is no one more qualified to speak on the topic of Grindelwald.”

Dumbledore stroked his beard. “Do you know... my goodness... do you know that I've never really spoken on the topic? Isn't that odd?”

“Given the things we saw, the things that we experienced, I do not find it odd at all,” Marchbanks returned.

“What has young Lucia done with herself, Albus?” the Marquis called from the doorway. “I do not relish putting back together what she has torn asunder. It was my understanding that the return to Hogwarts, it would settle this for all time?”

“We will speak of this later,” said Dumbledore. “Marcus, were you sent for?”

Detheridge stood immediately behind the Marquis. “Is she all right?” he asked.

“She will be fine, Marcus – of this you can be certain,” Dumbledore told him.

Detheridge seemed to fight an internal battle before he said, “Tell her... tell her that he's dead, Albus. He's stone dead. She'll understand, I think. Tell her I can explain myself later.”

“Is it true that you will tell these young people of Grindelwald?” the Marquis asked.

“It would seem to be so,” said Dumbledore.

The Marquis nodded. “I will tend to Lucia,” he said. “Perhaps I will join you in the telling? It seems strange that five of us are present here, does it not?”

“It does indeed,” Dumbledore said softly.

Marchbanks let out a great harrumph. “Are you going to get on with it, or should I make a futile attempt to count my liver spots?” she demanded.

“There is no need to be rude,” the Marquis scolded her.

“You've had no right to criticise my behaviour since sometime in the nineteenth century,” Marchbanks fired back loudly. “Go and do your work, and I shall do mine.”

“You are a stubborn old woman,” said the Marquis, to a chorus of barely stifled snickers.

Marchbanks waved her cane at him. “And you, sir, are a lecherous old fool. Go,” she snapped.

The snickers turned to snorts before Dumbledore settled the class. “As amusing as this by-play has been, we have a limited time available to us and I am – as Professor Marchbanks rightly observed – the rank expert on Grindelwald. Where should I begin, Professor?” he asked.

“Lucia was speaking on Grindelwald's chief minions and drawing comparisons to those Nazi chaps,” said Marchbanks.

“I see... My preference is to focus on the major events themselves. If there are comparisons to be drawn, then let them be drawn against the present time,” Dumbledore declared. “Miss Granger, would you be so kind as to pass me Dr. Covelli's projections?”

He quickly flipped through the small stack and nodded approvingly, then handed back one projection to Hermione. “Would you please cast that one for me?” he asked.

A map of Europe appeared above Covelli's desk. There was a modest patch of red drawn on the east-central part of the continent. “This was the extent of Grindelwald's control in 1928,” Dumbledore said. He waved his wand slightly and the red stain spread into a good part of what Harry knew to be Germany. “This was the area of his control in 1931, after the German magical community was brought under the jurisdiction of the Austrian ministry.” With another wave, the red spread over Switzerland and Poland and parts of Eastern Europe. “By 1937, Grindelwald had declared this area to be Cisleithania, which was the old form for Austria and Hungary. In each new area of conquest, he made the argument that the magical community was no longer in control of its affairs with respect to the Muggles, and that the magical community needed to purify its position. In 1938, his government began to seize Muggle-born children from their families by the age of one, to be raised by the state and instructed in the ways of a proper witch or wizard – as Grindelwald saw that to be, of course.”

Now the red stain covered most of France and the Low Countries. “Grindelwald's men followed the Muggle armies of Hitler into France,” Dumbledore told the class. “It was in France that for the first time, Grindelwald ordered the elimination of certain wizarding communities that he considered threatening to his vision of purity.”

Seamus Finnigan raised his hand. “Er... so Grindelwald was a blood purist, then – like You-Know-Who?”

“It was a different sort of purity, young man,” Marchbanks cut in. “Grindelwald wanted wizards to be purely that, and not to sully themselves with Muggles and the like. He wanted to kill wizards who disagreed, and to kill Muggles who might have stood in the way. He wanted Muggles to openly know of magic and to be scared witless of it. In Grindelwald's perfect world, wizards would have ruled all and Muggles would have lived at their mercy.”

“True enough,” said Dumbledore, “but he hadn't counted on just how powerful Muggles really were. It wasn't until 1939 that he saw personally what the Muggle armies could accomplish – what sheer devastation they could deliver upon their enemies. He was frightened by it. He charged his infiltrators inside the German Muggle government to find ways that its armies could be used to do Grindelwald's work, even as he himself delved into ever darker and more powerful magic. It was his desire to create a magic that would exceed the power of the greatest and most terrible forces that the Muggles could bring to bear.”

“And that's when he made the same mistake that a dozen wizard leaders and probably that many Muggles made before him,” Marchbanks said. “He went after the Russians. Bad business, that was.”

“Simultaneous to that, Grindelwald's western forces followed the German Muggles against the British,” Dumbledore went on. “Many ships were sunk, supplies were destroyed, and small bands of his followers conducted raids on British soil. The worst of these was in 1940. The German Muggles launched an attack on London itself, using their flying machines, and a group of Grindelwald's wizards supported the attack from the ground; most of the Muggles were unaware of this, of course. Because of this, the damage was far greater than the worst that the Muggles could have delivered. The young daughter of the English king, Princess Elizabeth, was killed and the king himself wounded. Several well-known London landmarks were damaged or destroyed. The Ministry for Magic repaired many of them on the very night of the attacks, as a measure of good will toward our countrymen. Professor Flitwick and I took charge of the reconstruction of Big Ben. The two of us completed the job in less than six hours – which was no mean feat, if I do say so myself.”

Hermione's eyebrows rose nearly to her hairline. “B-Big Ben was destroyed?” she gasped.

Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, as well as Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, the London Bridge, Kew Gardens... it was a horrific night, Miss Granger. It took the combined efforts of scores of witches and wizards to undo even a portion of the damage. Our focus was on the true landmarks of Britain and on those things that the Muggle community could not have repaired on their own. Ask Professor Sprout about the restoration of the Gardens if you are so inclined; her parents were noted herbologists and thus in the thick of it. Our own Marquis de Maupassant arrived before the dawn and mobilised a group of goblin miners and masons to replace and reposition a goodly part of Stonehenge. Unfortunately, the circle at Avebury was too badly damaged to completely restore. Some of Britain's ley lines shifted position as a result, which disrupted Floo service for nearly two years.”

“Why don't you tell them what they did to Golders Green?” Anthony Goldstein said bitterly. “They didn't stop with buildings, did they?”

“No, Grindelwald's raiders did not merely destroy buildings. The three largest raids all affected the families of persons in this very class, as a matter of fact,” Dumbledore said. “I confess that I know the least about the Golders Green affair, amongst the three. A raid upon Hogsmeade left several dozen dead and wounded, and destroyed nearly half the buildings therein. Amongst the dead were several of Professor Marchbanks' extended family, as well as Mr. Weasley's grand-uncle and Miss Brown's grandmother -”

“The second started as an attack on agriculture,” Marchbanks said. “Those blasted Cissies set afire more than half the wizarding farms in Britain, and then set to killing the farm families. Mr. Goyle, I know that your family suffered greatly in those attacks.”

“Lost everything that mattered,” Goyle said in a dangerous voice. Harry was surprised at how angry he seemed about something that had happened forty years before he was born.

Professor Croaker appeared at the door to Covelli's office. “She'll be right as rain in a day or so,” he announced.

“What can you say about Golders Green?” Dumbledore asked him.

Croaker looked for a moment as though all the air had gone out of him. “A horrible thing, Albus. What possessed you to bring that up?”

“We were discussing the atrocities of Grindelwald's raiders, and Mr. Goldstein raised the point,” said Dumbledore.

“Are there Mystics in your family, Mr. Goldstein?” Croaker asked.

Goldstein's eyes hardened. “There were,” he said.

Dumbledore sighed. “Ah, yes – the Hebrew purges. This was an area where Grindelwald's influence weighed upon the German Muggles in catastrophic fashion.”

Croaker settled his girth against the edge of Covelli's desk. “I may not do this justice, Mr. Goldstein, so I will allow you to interject if you feel the need to do so,” he said. “There is a small magical community amongst the Hebrew people. I know that this community has a Hebrew name, but I don't know it; I'm not certain that any outsiders do. You'll find little mention of it in any libraries, even those as extensive as our own here at Hogwarts. Those few mentions will refer to the leaders of this community as Mystics. Stop me if I speak wrongly, Mr. Goldstein...”

“That's accurate,” Goldstein allowed.

“There is a religious component to the practices of the Mystics, and I shan't speak on that as I'm thoroughly unqualified to speak of it and thus quite likely to put my foot in it, as it were,” Croaker continued. “The rest of the Hebrew magical community has typically consisted of traders and merchants, and in many places they were the main link between the magical and Muggle communities. I imagine that some of you can see where this is headed?”

“They sound like the sort of people Grindelwald would have wanted to kill,” Lavender said.

Dumbledore nodded sadly. “Two points to Gryffindor, I am afraid to say.”

“Much of this community went to ground in the 1930s, and Grindelwald encouraged the German Muggles to purge their Hebrew communities in hopes of catching the wizards unawares,” Croaker said.

Goldstein shook his head. “That would have been a spark in a flaming cauldron, Professor,” he said. “Hitler didn't need any help to hate Jews; he got there on his own.”

“As I said, I am no expert on the matter,” Croaker said. “I am aware of what this Hitler fellow went on to do, and can only tell you the prevailing wizarding view – which is that Grindelwald pressed the issue. With respect to Golders Green, this was one circumstance where Grindelwald's men didn't wait for the German Muggles to do their work. They rounded up more than a hundred Hebrew wizards and witches, and executed them in the middle of a major thoroughfare. It was a gruesome message to the British Ministry that doing business with the Muggles would no longer be tolerated.”

The room went deadly silent; even Malfoy looked aghast. Goldstein's voice cut through the room. “Now You-Know-Who's at it,” he said. “It's starting again, and no one's going to do anything about it.”

Dumbledore folded his hands and said gravely, “Mr. Goldstein, I am very sorry for your loss. Your father was a brave man, brave enough to refuse Voldemort's business. If he had sought protection from the Ministry, it would have been given -”

Goldstein's knuckles were white, Harry noticed. “With all due respect, sir... bollocks. You-Know-Who's trying to wipe out the old magics; my father said so. You're right that he was a brave man, but he didn't die over a shipment of cauldrons. He died for what he believed.”

“Your choice of words is forgiven, Anthony; these are most trying times,” Dumbledore said in a quiet but commanding way. “If your family should need anything...?”

“The Ministry won't lift a finger,” Goldstein snapped, then added more calmly, “but thank you for your concern, sir.”

“Then you will come to me directly, young man, and it shall be done,” said Dumbledore in a tone that brooked no argument.

“My mother wants the head of the wizard who killed my father. Is that something you can arrange, Headmaster?” Goldstein said boldly.

Dumbledore's brow moved ever so slightly; he said, “Alas, no. If you should desire to absent yourself from the remainder of this session, both Dr. Covelli and I would understand your reasoning.”

“No thank you, sir,” said Goldstein. “I shan't hide from the truth; that's the Minister's job.”

“Five points to Ravenclaw,” Marchbanks declared.

Dumbledore's eyes widened. “Griselda!” he protested.

Marchbanks gave the slightest of shrugs. “It was an honest appraisal, Albus. Let's move on to the meat of this, shall we?” she said.

Croaker shook his head at Marchbanks, but turned his attention to Goldstein. “The killings at Golders Green finally stirred the Ministry. It was the first time they realised that Grindelwald might actually be capable of taking the country. However, a new roadblock replaced the old one: the International Confederation of Wizards.” He gave Dumbledore a sour look.

“The Confederation has done much good work over the years, but they very nearly cost us the whole of Europe,” admitted Dumbledore. “Wizarding governments have been prohibited from raising armies for more than three hundred years. Grindelwald had clearly raised an army, but he refrained from calling it such. His men were organised under the auspices of an ancient magical order called the Knights of Walpurgis. They were supported entirely by Grindelwald's coffers, of course. The Confederation decided that Grindelwald had not raised an army, and therefore prohibited any organised effort on the part of other wizarding governments to oppose him. It was foolhardy and absurd. The Supreme Mugwump of the day, a wizard named Althorp from South Africa, wanted to open talks with Grindelwald and establish new permanent borders in Europe. Several countries threatened to pull out of the Confederation; I am sorry to say that our own was not one of them.”

The Marquis emerged from Covelli's office. “Ahh, you are speaking of our blind colleagues, yes?” He gave a Gallic shrug. “There is much you can do without the governments. You must have enough of the gold and, ehh... avoir des couilles? Yes, yes... you must, ehh, have the balls.” Dumbledore pressed his hand to his forehead and winced, even as Marchbanks scowled and most of the class coughed or howled and both Seamus and Dean bowed and scraped to the Marquis.

“What, is this not so?” the Marquis pouted.

Marchbanks banged her cane against the lectern to recapture the class. “Tactful as always, Alex,” she said. “With the Marquis' gold and... considerable fortitude... behind us, we pressed ahead on our own and established a network around the world to monitor Grindelwald's forces and eventually to take them on in well-planned circumstances.”

“By 1945, there were thirteen of us,” said Dumbledore. “In addition to myself, the Marquis, Professor Marchbanks, Professor Croaker and Professor Flitwick, we were joined by Tiberius Ogden; Kanzan Yatsusana, a Japanese exile and grandson of Flamel's apprentice Takeda Yatsusana; David Narrandarrie, an Australian colleague of Kanzan; John Bear, who was the attaché to the American consul in London; Telma Sigurdsdottir, a war witch from Iceland; and two young apprentices: Lucia Greengrass, who was my apprentice and is now your History instructor, and Oscar Pomfrey, who is Madam Pomfrey's brother and was apprenticed to Professor Flitwick.”

“There was also Vladimir Karensky,” Professor Croaker added. “He was the grandson of another of Flamel's apprentices, Boris Karensky. Vladimir worked for the Russian Muggle government – the Soviets – and he was our man on the eastern front. Kanzan kept an eye on Grindelwald's Asian allies; he was based in Tibet at first, and then the Philippines. David went back and forth from south Asia to the Pacific. John went back across the pond to put a stop to a wizard named Joshua Warren, who was a Grindelwald sympathizer of some influence in two of the American governments. Telma, Tiberius and I were responsible for developing an answer to Grindelwald's magic, and Lucia eventually ended up working with us. Pomfrey and Flitwick were infiltrators; they spent most of the last two years of the war in Germany and Switzerland. Griselda here was our liaison to the ministries and the Confederation. It took until 1944 to get the Confederation to loosen the rules on armies, but then Britain and Iceland and the Scandinavian countries hit with a vengeance.”

“What were you doing, Headmaster?” Pucey asked Dumbledore.

“If you remove the head of a beast, the body dies,” Dumbledore said. “When I wasn't teaching here at Hogwarts, I was attempting to assassinate Grindelwald.”

Pucey's eyes grew wide, and Goyle said what everyone was thinking: “Bloody hell, you were out tryin' to off him on your own?”

“One point from Slytherin, Mr. Goyle,” Croaker said; “I know that it's rather shocking, but do try to mind your language.”

“I led a group of Hit Wizards in several attempts to track Grindelwald, isolate him and either bring him to justice or kill him,” Dumbledore said. “We were under no illusions that he would be subdued.”

“Eventually, we did develop a counter to Grindelwald's new magics -” Croaker began.

“How did you manage it, Professor, if Grindelwald was seeking something as powerful as Muggle weapons?” Hermione asked.

“One point from Gryffindor; raise your hand to be acknowledged, Miss Granger,” said Croaker; he went on, “It wasn't a simple matter, and unfortunately it didn't come in time to save the city of Dresden from Grindelwald's firestorms.”

“But that was from a Muggle bombing...” Hermione said uncertainly.

“The Muggle flying machines did drop explosives that day, but nothing on the order necessary to devastate an entire city,” said Dumbledore. “The Confederation used the Muggles as a means to cover Grindelwald's actions. You see, Grindelwald was so disenchanted with the ineffectiveness of the German Muggles that he began to destroy them himself. He was quite mad at the end.”

“I assume that the atomic explosions in Japan were caused by the Muggles...?” Hermione asked.

“Indeed they were,” Dumbledore said. “Kanzan and I visited one of the affected regions in the winter of 1945. I do not recommend it, even today. The echoes of death are in the very air; it is unbearable.”

Goyle raised his hand. “So, Headmaster, you and your Hit Wizards, you got 'im in the end?” he asked.

Dumbledore appeared unsteady for a moment, enough that Harry was prepared to leave his seat. “Grindelwald was completely imbued with the magic he had sought,” he said at last. “The countering ritual had to be applied directly to him. I defeated him in single combat, but we knew he could never be contained; the power within him would have continued to grow until something was consumed – either Grindelwald himself or the rest of the magical world. It took all thirteen of us to subdue the magic.” There was another lengthy pause before he declared, “Pray that you are never required to act as we did. I will say no more on this.”

The signal for the end of the session sounded, but Dumbledore motioned for the class to remain. “With regard to your assignment -” he began, to considerable grumbling; “Oh yes, I'm afraid you won't escape that. You will complete four feet of parchment on the relevance of the war with Grindelwald to today's wizarding world, with attention to politics, business or magical practice; you may choose one or all three areas of attention – it matters not to me. You will submit your assignments at the next class session. I will be grading your work personally... I believe that I've earned that right.”

Dumbledore stopped Harry as he was following the students into the corridor. “This was your first lecture on the fall of Grindelwald,” the Headmaster said; “I suspect it will not be your last. Please complete the assignment and submit it to me at our next meeting.”

October 12

Harry had thought Dumbledore would assign him one of the rooms set aside for the times when a Gryffindor served as a Head Student. A small part of him had hoped for it, in truth; he would have lived in the room once occupied by one or both of his parents. Instead, he had been given the suite of rooms intended for the Gryffindor Head of House. Professor McGonagall had moved to rooms nearer to the Great Hall and overlooking the grounds upon her elevation to Deputy Headmistress thirteen years prior; before that, the Slytherin head – a fellow called Slughorn – had held the post.

He had his own bedroom and washroom, a nicely appointed study, a public office, and a spacious sitting room with a dining table for four in one corner.  His view from the sitting room was of the courtyard, and he could see the lake and one end of the Quidditch pitch from his bedroom.  There was even a balcony of sorts (Covelli called it a ‘loggia’) just off the sitting room.  He’d been sorely tempted one afternoon to step out and lob something at Malfoy, but had thought better of it.

The entry to his rooms was one door beyond the Gryffindor portrait hole and down a short corridor, and he often encountered his old housemates.  He was hopeful that he wouldn’t encounter anyone just then, as he walked stiffly up the stairs.  Detheridge had shown him no mercy whatever in an exceptionally fierce fight – the Defence professor had called it a ‘contest’ as opposed to a duel.  For his part, Harry had called it painful.

He waited a moment for the small portrait beside the door to acknowledge him and then stumbled inside.  As soon as his satchel was on the table, he doffed his shirt and began to painfully stretch his shoulders. 

Small pops were becoming so commonplace to Harry that he scarcely noticed anymore.  “Does Professor Potter be needing a healing draught?” asked a squeaky voice.

“I’m not a professor, Spat,” Harry said wearily.

“Does Not-Professor Potter be needing a healing draught? Spat returned.

“I’ll be fine,” Harry grumbled.

“Not-Professor Potter surely needs a butterbeer after being thrown about by Professor Detheridge?” Spat went on.

“Yeah… wouldn’t mind a butterbeer,” admitted Harry.

Spat went still for a moment and then said, “Spat will fetch two butterbeers and treacle tarts.”

Harry was perplexed.  “Two butterbeers?”

Spat gave a sharp nod.  “She-Who-Once-Knitted approaches your rooms as we speak,” he said.

“I told you not to call her that,” Harry snapped.

“Not-Professor Potter told Spat that he could no longer call She-Who-Once-Knitted by the name of She-Who-Knits,” said Spat proudly.

Harry groaned; he demanded, “You will call her by her given name – is that understood?”

“Spat is chastised, Not-Professor Potter,” said Spat.

Harry sighed.  “My name is Harry – Harry,” he said.  “How do you know she’s coming, anyway?”

Spat gave a loud sniff.  “Vanilla, Number Six India Ink, and cat,” he said.  “Spat shall return with butterbeers and treacle tart for Not-Professor Harry and Miss Hermione Jean Granger.” 

“You’re a right pain… oi, Hermione doesn’t like treacle tart!” Harry said, but the house-elf had already popped away. 

Spat re-appeared beside the table with two bottles and two plates.  “Double portions of treacle tart – enjoy!” he said, and promptly disappeared.

“I know why they assigned you to me, Spat – no one else would have you!” Harry grumbled to the empty room. He heard light rapping on his door and moved to open it.

“I wanted to see you before you met with the Board of Governors,” Hermione said. “I wanted you to know that... um...”

Harry's brow furrowed. “Hermione...? You wanted to know what, exactly?” Hermione's expression had gone from concerned to dazed, and Harry didn't understand the reason.

Hermione burbled, “I... that is to say... support, you know? That I support you, and...”

“When are you off to meet with the old toads?” Ron called out from the end of the corridor.

“In a half hour,” Harry returned, and then asked more quietly, “Hermione, what's wrong?”

“Nothing... nothing! Why would you think something was wrong?” she said.

Ron came up behind her and draped his arm over her shoulder. “It sounds like you're broken, 'Mione. Harry... mate... you might want to slip on a shirt, eh?”

“I'm not broken,” Hermione said absently. “Did Professor Detheridge hurt you? You're reddened right there... just below the collarbone... um...”

“I'll be right back,” said Harry as he hurried to his bedroom.

He heard Hermione through his door as she said to Ron, “Wait a moment... did you call me 'Mione? My name is Hermione, Ronald, and I'll thank you to never call me that again!”

Harry fished through his wardrobe in search of the proper clothing for an inquisition. As he looked in the mirror and held shirts against himself, it finally sunk in that Hermione had been distracted because he was shirtless. He found himself thinking of Hermione without a shirt – something he'd not consciously contemplated before – and was very quickly as distracted as she had been.

“Did you fall asleep in there? You're going to be late!” Ron shouted. “Ooh, treacle tart... all right if I have some of this?”

“Go for it,” Harry called back.

“For the life of me, I can't understand the attraction to treacle; it's ghastly,” said Hermione.

Harry heard the scraping of a plate across the table before Ron asked, “How do you think this is going to go? You aren't worried, are you?”

“I suppose I'm not,” Harry said. “I can't really change what happens, right? I figure that if I'm sacked, I'll end up training with the Order or something.”

“You won't be going alone, then – you know that, don't you?” Ron said. “It might not be until the first of March, but I'll be there.”

“Harry's not going anywhere,” Hermione said firmly.

“I hope not,” said Ron. There was silence for a moment before he added, “Gah! That's the worst tart ever! Where did you get this – from the kitchen leavings?”

Harry finished dressing, opened his bedroom door and shouted, “Spat!”

The house-elf popped into the sitting room. “Not-Professor Harry needs something from Spat?”

“Take those treacle tarts away!” snapped Harry.

Spat looked to the table and then to Ron, who was scraping his tongue with his fingers. He said, “Spat did not bring the tarts for Not-Professor Harry's friend Mr. Weasley.”

“Take them and get out!” Harry roared.

“Harry! There's no need to shout at him!” Hermione insisted.

Spat bowed his head slightly. “Miss Hermione Jean Granger is too kind to Spat, despite the foulest of food... Spat is chastised,” he said, and disappeared with the plates of treacle tart.

“Those were for me, weren't they?” sighed Hermione.

“I have to go or else I'll be late; that wouldn't be the best idea, would it?” Harry said.

Ron gruffly patted him on the back. “I know it isn't Sunday, but why don't you sit with us for supper, eh? Then you can tell us all about the old goats -”

“Didn't you say that they were old toads?” Hermione chipped in.

Ron wagged his finger at Hermione. “Shush, you!” he said. “Better yet, Harry, we could get in some flying; there's no telling how long this weather will hold out.”

“I'll see you later,” Harry said. He wondered if they would just show him the door if the meeting went against him, but decided to stay positive.

Hermione waited until Ron disappeared down the short corridor, and then took Harry's face in her hands and kissed him soundly. “You'll be remaining here,” she said afterward.

“You can't promise that and neither can I,” Harry countered.

“That's true, but I've already planned for that,” said Hermione. “My things are packed, everything save Crookshanks. If they're foolish enough to force you out, then I'll be leaving with you. We could go to wherever my parents are. You've enough gold to hire tutors, and I'm sure that the Headmaster would go out of his way to help -”

Harry pulled her into a hug. “It won't come to that,” he said.

Hermione laid her head against his shoulder. “You'll find me afterward?” she asked.

He brushed her hair away from his mouth and said, “I promise. You're keyed to the portrait outside, by the way. I thought, er, that you might like somewhere to study other than the common room...? The balcony - or loggia or whatever it's called... it's nice out there, and not as noisy as I would have thought. This room isn't bad either.”

“I'd like that,” she said. “I suppose you do need to go.”

“Wait here if you like. I don't know how long it will be, though,” Harry said. “Do you suppose it's better or worse if it goes quickly?”

“Just go, would you?” she said, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. He left with a warm feeling inside, with a sense of assurance that no matter what happened he would be all right. It wasn't a familiar feeling, but he liked it all the same.

The Board of Governors meeting was to take place in the anteroom to the Great Hall. Harry arrived ten minutes before it was scheduled to begin, but no one else was there. The normal furniture had been moved aside and was replaced by a long and massive table. Fifteen places were set with desk blotters, inkpots, quills and fresh parchment. Three of the chairs usually found in the room had been set against one wall. Harry took a seat in one of them and waited; he tried not to fidget.

The Board entered as one, followed by the Headmaster. Dumbledore cast Harry a very formal look, almost of a solemn quality. Harry acknowledged him with a sober nod. He hoped that this was an act, as Dumbledore's upbraiding of him before Lockhart had been. Madam Bones took the seat at the head of the table and the Governors filled in the sides. The opposite end was left for Dumbledore. One side had six places and the other seven; the seventh seat, the one closest to Dumbledore, was left empty.

“Mr. Potter, please take your seat at the table,” said Madam Bones. Harry silently walked to the empty place and seated himself.

“By your leave, Madam Chair...?” said Dumbledore.

Madam Bones set her monocle in place and nodded to the man on her right, who took up quill and parchment. “This is the one thousand nine hundred and ninety-ninth meeting of the Board of Governors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, operating under the Charter of 996 between the Founders and the Village of Hogsmeade, whose assigns are the Ministry for Magic of Scotland and England and the Irish Magical Republic. Do all present agree that the official meeting taken today, the twelfth of October, nineteen hundred and ninety-six Anno Domini, shall satisfy the terms of the Charter? Signify by saying 'aye'.” The man with the quill took note of the acclamation.

“As the first order of business,” Madam Bones went on, “the Chair reports that two petitions for public attendance were submitted prior to this meeting, both of which were submitted in the proper form and within the proper time. Neither petitioner, however, possessed standing for attendance. The first petition was received on the twenty-fourth of September from Mr. Gilderoy Lockhart, Esq., whose stated reason for attendance was to provide comment regarding the advisability of Mr. Harry James Potter's in-residence apprenticeship with the Headmaster. Mr. Lockhart was informed by the Secretary that he would be permitted to submit a letter for attachment to the meeting record if he so desired, and he declined to do so. The second petition was received on the twenty-sixth of September from Mr. Keith MacLeish, whose stated reason for attendance was to appear in support of Mr. Potter. Due to his status as a member of the press, Mr. MacLeish's attendance would be in violation of Board Administrative Rule 3,027. He was so informed by the Secretary, and did submit a letter for attachment. With that, the Secretary will offer introductions by way of recording our attendance. Mr. Secretary...?”

“Persimmons Westerley, a wizard of self-made means and residing in Northumbria, and the appointed Secretary of the Board, is recorded as present,” the Secretary said; he stopped to mark the parchment before him.

“Amelia Susan Bones, a witch in the employ of the Ministry for Magic of Scotland and England and residing in Dorset, and the appointed Chair of the Board, is present,” Madam Bones said.

A man with thinning hair and a pug nose to Madam Bones' left cleared his throat and said, “Edward Parkinson, a wizard of pure descent and accumulated means and residing in Berkshire, and the appointed Vice-Chair of the Board, shall be marked as present.”

To Parkinson's left, an elderly witch wrapped in a grey fur stole smiled kindly at Harry. “I am Eldegard Trestle, young Mr. Potter, and I was well acquainted with your grandmother Elisabeth. After all these years, I believe everyone knows who I am and where I am from and such?”

Westerley took a slow, deep breath. “For the record, Madam Trestle...?” he said.

“Oh, bother,” said Trestle. “Eldegard Trestle, a witch of self-made means and retired herbologist residing in Norfolk. As I am sitting here at this very table, would you please mark me as present, Perky?”

Westerley's cheeks burned red. “Madam Trestle... that was my childhood nickname,” he said. “Having attained the age of seventy, I would really rather that you call me by my given name...?”

Trestle waved her hand dismissively. “When you attain one hundred, you won't care so much,” she said.

A man in dark blue business robes with greying mutton chops shook his head at Trestle. “Llewelyn Ajax... I'm a wizard residing in Carmarthenshire and a stonemason, and I'm present here today,” he said.

To his left was a small witch with a large hat. “Gwynn Edevane, a witch in the employ of St. Mungo's Hospital and a resident of Cornwall, is present,” she said quietly.

Next to Edevane was a wide-faced man dressed in black robes with an emerald-coloured cap. “Iarlaith Madden's the name,” he said; “I'm an enchanter by trade, residing in Cork since 1946. I finished my schooling at Hogwarts in 1937, as a proud member of Hufflepuff House.” He looked to Westerley and added, “I'm here, a’ course.”

The woman seated next to Harry had a long, weathered face and wore leathers beneath her robes. “Wilna Clarsach, witch and Potions Mistress and resident of the Isle of Skye, declares that she is present,” she said briskly.

All eyes turned to Harry. Dumbledore reached out and patted his hand; “Why don't you introduce yourself at this time?” the Headmaster said.

Harry cleared his throat and hoped that his voice wouldn't crack. “Er... Harry Potter... wizard and apprentice to the Honourable Albus Dumbledore. I'm residing at Hogwarts right now, but my permanent home is in... Berwickshire...? I'm attending the meeting as a guest,” he managed to say.

The Headmaster gave Harry a small smile. “Albus Dumbledore, a wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, currently residing in Perth and Kinross, is in attendance as an ex-officio member of the Board,” he said.

Everything about the man on Dumbledore's left appeared dark. “Lethibridge Mallory, a wizard and collector of antiquities, making his residence in Nottinghamshire, is present,” he said.

The rosy cheeked witch to Mallory's left had a smile that left Harry slightly uncomfortable. It occurred to him that he was reminded of Umbridge. “Hester Halloran, a twelfth generation witch and publican residing in Galway, is present,” she said with a lilt.

Next came a stern witch in a tartan who struck Harry as a heavier-set version of Professor McGonagall. “Erskine Faraday, a witch and wildcrafter residing in Fife, is present and ready to conduct business,” she announced.

The last witch on the Board had long, fiery red hair pulled back into a complicated plait. She appeared younger than the rest of the members, though she was most likely older than Harry's parents would have been. “Melisende McIlvaine, a witch of independent means from Aberdeenshire, is present,” she said.

Harry recognised the man to the Secretary's right. “I'm Niall Pucey, and I suspect I'm the next order of business,” he said amiably.

“Mr. Pucey is correct,” Madam Bones said. “Due to the dismissal of Mr. Malfoy from the Board, we have been left with a vacancy.  Six applications were received for the open position. Two were disqualified due to encounters with the law enforcement wing of the Ministry in violation of the Charter. Two withdrew from consideration upon entry of the fifth applicant, Mr. Rutherford Carrows of Wiltshire. As you may be aware from recent editions of the Daily Prophet, Mr. Carrows finds himself under review for possible financial irregularities. This leaves us with the sixth applicant, Mr. Pucey. Speaking in favour of Mr. Pucey will be Mr. Westerley. Speaking in objection will be Madam Halloran. You have the floor, Persimmons.”

“Thank you, Madam Chair,” Westerley said. “Mr. Pucey completed his Hogwarts education in 1971, having resided in Slytherin House. He is a solicitor and barrister admitted to the magical law societies of Scotland and England, Ireland, France and Iceland, who has worked in independent practice since completion of a three-year clerkship with former Minister Bagnold. Mr. Pucey is the current chair of the Magical Law Society of Scotland and England, and is the only living solicitor to file suit and win judgment in goblin arbitration against Gringotts Wizarding Bank itself. His youngest son, Adrian, is currently the Hogwarts Head Boy; his eldest, Randall, completed studies in 1992, and his daughter, Estrella, completed in 1993. Mr. Pucey is qualified to fill an established Slytherin seat on the Board, and is possessed of impeccable professional and personal credentials... it wouldn't hurt to have a solicitor at hand, either.”

“Reginald Gazump has been good enough for this Board for seventy years,” Llewelyn Ajax scoffed. “We've no need of contrary advice, thank you.”

“Mr. Westerley has the floor, Mr. Ajax,” said Madam Bones.

“Reggie Gazump has forgotten more about the law than he may have known in the first place,” Mr. Westerley said. “I deal with him more frequently than the rest of you, and I must say that the man might as well be a portrait for all the value he brings.”

“Our representation is not on the current agenda,” Madam Bones noted. “Do you have anything more to say as advocate, Mr. Westerley?”

“Mr. Pucey's credentials speak for themselves,” said Westerley.

“Madam Halloran, the floor is yours,” Madam Bones said.

“Mr. Malfoy was not merely a Slytherin, Madam Chair,” Halloran said. “He represented an increasingly put-upon segment of our people: those of long standing. The Malfoys have been figures of stature in the English wizarding community for at least fourteen generations; Madam Malfoy was of the Black family, which was even more established. Families of long standing stir the cauldrons of our economy and society. Mr. Pucey is obviously a man of some accomplishment, but he is only the third Slytherin in his family line and only two generations removed from manual toil. Mr. Carrows was a reasonable replacement for Mr. Malfoy. If the campaign to impugn his name has caused him to withdraw his application, then I must respectfully recommend that the two applicants who withdrew to his favour should be contacted again. Failing that, the opening should be reposted. We must ensure that all the value that Lucius brought to the board is present in his successor, not merely the superficial qualities.” With that, she sat down.

Harry clenched his hands beneath the table as she spoke, and finally opted to sit on them. Dumbledore was as implacable as ever, but it was obvious that more than one Board member was smouldering. That was enough to hold Harry's hand until he realised that he had been about to prove his instability to the Board.

Madam Bones took note of hands, and said, “Madam Trestle?”

“Thank you, dear,” Madam Trestle said in the way of a friendly grandmother. “I do not think it wise to tiptoe around Mr. Malfoy's criminal behaviour. This Board let itself be run roughshod by that man, and there are persons at this table who were favoured with Galleons.”

“Madam Trestle! This is not a place for wild accusations!” Lethibridge Mallory snapped.

“Mr. Mallory -” Madam Bones began.

“There's no need,” Madam Trestle said; “Let them spout on about the Malfoy virtues, even though they are wasting their breath and our time. I knew Abraxas Malfoy quite well, dearies, and Lucius was not an improvement on his father. This Board does not need to reproduce Mr. Malfoy's sparkling character; that is the last thing needed, in fact. Call the question, Amelia.”

“The question is called,” Madam Bones said before Mallory or Halloran could speak up. “Mr. Pucey, would you please wait outside?”

“Come, Niall; let me share your son's latest exploits,” said Dumbledore; he led Mr. Pucey into the Great Hall.

Madam McIlvaine raised her hand and said quietly, “I request a recorded vote, Madam Chair.”

“A recorded vote is requested,” said Madam Bones. “Mr. Westerley, accept the votes, please?”

“Please raise your wands to signify your vote, be it 'aye' or 'nay',” Westerley said. One after the next, the members raised their wands and cast faint glows.

The parchment before the Secretary glowed briefly as well. “Six votes were cast in favour, and five against,” he said.

“A majority of the whole is required, Madam Chair,” Parkinson said.

“That's true, Madam Chair,” said Westerley.

“In addition to breaking ties, I am allowed a vote when a vote of the whole is required, Eddie,” Madam Bones said. She raised her wand and cast a green light. “My vote is 'aye'.”

Westerley wrote on the parchment for a moment, and then said, “With seven votes in favour, Mr. Pucey is appointed to the Board pursuant to the Charter.”

Mr. Pucey was brought back to the room and took an oath supervised by Madam Bones and Dumbledore. Madam Bones allowed some polite banter for a few minutes and then announced, “We do have a full agenda, and there are several unexpected budget items. We shall move to the second item on the agenda, which regards our guest. Under the terms of Mr. Potter's dismissal as a regular student, the Board authorised Headmaster Dumbledore to use the full means of Hogwarts to find a suitable alternative for Mr. Potter's continued education. The Headmaster subsequently offered Mr. Potter an in-residence apprenticeship for a period of not less than two years and not more than three years. As Mr. Ajax has strenuously argued, it was the intention of the Board to see Mr. Potter removed from Hogwarts facilities on the grounds that his presence might pose a risk to the safety of other students. Therefore, by initiation of Mr. Ajax and Madam Clarsach, the Board shall review Mr. Potter's educational performance since the first of September as well as his scholastic disciplinary record. Professor?”

“Madam Chair, that is not exactly what I had in mind,” Ajax said. “I intend for the Board to consider all of Mr. Potter's activities since the Board issued his dismissal, whether those activities occurred at Hogwarts or otherwise. His actions and behaviour reflect upon this institution.”

“Only Mr. Potter's actions in his capacity as an apprentice are relevant,” Madam Edevane said. “Who speaks in favour of Mr. Potter?”

“I must recuse from the debate and any subsequent votes, due to my fiduciary responsibility to Mr. Potter,” Madam Bones said. “It goes without saying that I support his continued residence at Hogwarts.”

Mr. Parkinson nodded in formal fashion. “Thank you for your disclosure, Madam Chair. In that event, I shall govern the proceedings. Is there a speaker who has familiarity with Mr. Potter, other than the Headmaster? You will of course be given the opportunity to comment prior to any judgment, Professor... no one...?”

“If no one wishes to speak as an advocate, then each member in turn receives the opportunity to make comment,” the Secretary said.

“I am aware of the rules, Westerley,” Mr. Parkinson said snappishly. “Madam Trestle, you have the floor.”

“He's a powerful young man, Mr. Potter is,” said Madam Trestle. “I, for one, would rather have him here at Hogwarts than elsewhere. We know that You-Know-Who is afraid of the Professor, and it stands to reason that he's probably unnerved by Mr. Potter as well. Who else has gotten the better of that monster so many times? Should we keep a watchful eye on him? Perhaps. Should we eject him from the premises? Certainly not!”

“It's precisely that power that endangers Hogwarts,” countered Mr. Ajax. “Frankly, even without the issue of uncontrolled magic and behaviour, I think that the boy endangers this school. Yes, the Dark Lord is interested in him. Why, pray tell, would that keep him away? More likely, it will draw him here. He has to go, and none too soon.”

Madam Edevane said, “This is a waste of our time and efforts. Mr. Potter is the Headmaster's apprentice. We empowered the Headmaster to find a solution for Mr. Potter's education, and he did so. Mr. Potter has done no harm to Hogwarts. May I remind my colleagues that we were the ones who approved Gilderoy Lockhart's hiring as a Defence professor at this institution? May I also remind my colleagues that Mr. Lockhart was a failure and an embarrassment? The man even now acknowledges his crimes; it is merely his long-term stay at St. Mungo's that stilled the hand of law enforcement. I fail to see how Mr. Potter's behaviour toward Mr. Lockhart was anything more than the rashness of youth, coupled with the abominable actions of a man who should have known better.”

“Gwynn's said it for me,” Mr. Madden told everyone.

Madam Clarsach peered down her nose at Harry for a few moments before she spoke. “I am largely in agreement with Mr. Ajax. However, I do believe we have an obligation to assure that alternate arrangements for Mr. Potter are appropriate and safe. We should acknowledge that he is at some risk of harm, and act accordingly.”

Dumbledore steepled his fingers beneath his chin. “My feelings on this matter should be abundantly clear to all,” he said.

“You put your foot in it, Dumbledore,” Mr. Mallory said with a scowl. “You knew very well that this decision on your part flouted the will of the Board. It's unfortunate that Mr. Potter will pay for your transgression, but the Wizengamot decided he's to be treated as a man... so I say to Mr. Potter: best wishes and thank you for your service to Hogwarts. I don't believe he should be here on the morrow.”

Madam Halloran gave a thin lipped smile to Harry. “I do believe you mean well, boy, and you certainly did our world a service sixteen years ago – however unwittingly. Nonetheless… once a rule breaker, always a rule breaker. I'm a publican by trade; as such, I bear not a little affection for rogues. There's no room for it in a school, however. It's enough that you've run roughshod in your staff selections this year, Headmaster – but this? If you want to master Mr. Potter, then I suggest you resign your post and take your apprentice to somewhere more appropriate for the task.”

“Half of the people in this room are cowards, and half are dark – some very near to the point of evil,” said Madam Faraday. “Unfortunately, it's for the most part the same half.”

“Madam, you will keep a civil tongue!” Mr. Parkinson huffed.

“Which half are you, Eddie?” she demanded. “Let's not mess about, fellow members. Mr. Potter and the Headmaster stand between us and the ruin of our world. Even those of you who support that monster's aims should know that your lives won't be worth a tinker's damn in the end -”

“Madam Faraday!” shouted Mr. Parkinson. “No one at this table rises in support of You-Know-Who!”

“Of course not,” Madam Faraday returned; “Why rise when one can pass Galleons under the table?”

Mr. Parkinson leapt to his feet. “That's quite enough!”

Madam Bones said, “I quite agree. Are you finished, Erskine?” Madam Faraday replied with a harsh nod.

“Mr. Potter should remain here, where the school may benefit from his skills, the students may benefit from his leadership, and the community may find reassurance in his presence and continued training,” said Madam McIlvaine.

“This is… enlightening,” Mr. Pucey said. “I don't have anything to add just now.”

“Nor do I,” said Mr. Westerley.

“The motion on the agenda is to order Headmaster Dumbledore to remove his apprentice, Harry James Potter, from the buildings and grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry effective immediately,” said Mr. Parkinson. “I call for a recorded vote, with the members identified by vote in the public record.”

“Please raise your wands to signify your acceptance of Mr. Parkinson's call for a recorded vote with the members identified by vote in the public record, be it 'aye' or 'nay',” Westerley said. Again wands were raised and again the parchment glowed. Six were in favour and five against.

“Please raise your wands to signify your vote on the following: that Headmaster Dumbledore be ordered to remove his apprentice, Harry James Potter, from the buildings and grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry effective immediately,” Westerley said. Five wands quickly lit green and five red glows joined them.

Mr. Pucey raised his wand, and said, “I have a larger stake in this than many of you. My son is the Head Boy, as you all know. Knowing that this was to be on the agenda, I sought his opinion on this matter. Adrian has a keen eye for the truth of any matter, both on the surface and beneath. I trust his judgment.” His wand lit red, and he added, “I, for one, expect that we shan't be revisiting this unless there's a very good reason...?”

“Ajax, Clarsach, Halloran, Mallory and Parkinson vote 'aye'; Edevane, Madden, McIlvaine, Pucey, Trestle and Westerley vote 'nay',” Mr. Westerley reported; “The motion has failed.”

Shortly after that Harry was ushered out of the room. Madam Bones and those who voted in favour of Harry all shook his hand; he was clapped on the shoulder and hugged by Madam Trestle and trapped into sitting for photographs with Madam Faraday and Mr. Madden. Madam Halloran and Madam Clarsach engaged in pleasantries with him as well, and even Mr. Parkinson gave him a friendly handshake and said that he was just fulfilling his responsibilities. Neither Mr. Mallory nor Mr. Ajax bothered with pretence; they clearly wanted nothing to do with him.

Mr. Pucey caught Harry at the door. “Mr. Potter,” he whispered, “Adrian can take care of himself, of course... but he's taking some risks that give me pause. I think he's in the right to take control of his House, but still... This may seem odd to you, but I wonder if you might keep an eye on him? I'm not asking you to befriend him or cross house boundaries or anything of that sort, but I would sleep better at night knowing that someone without an agenda was watching his back.”

“I'm an apprentice, Mr. Pucey; there aren't any house boundaries for me,” Harry said. “I don't know him well, but Adrian seems a good sort.”

“I wish he'd keep his head down, but he's an ambitious young man,” said Mr. Pucey.

“There's nothing wrong with that,” Harry said. “Besides, if a Slytherin's willing to play fair on the Quidditch pitch then I have to stick up for him – it's only right.”

Mr. Pucey grinned for a moment, and then noticeably straightened. “The Potter family has embodied its reputation for courage and honour in its dealings with my family across the generations. The House of Pucey will never stand against you,” he said in very formal fashion.

Harry wasn't certain what to say and settled for inclining his head in a slight bow, which Mr. Pucey returned. He resolved to enquire with Ted Tonks about Mr. Pucey's reputation. A Slytherin ally would hardly be a bad thing, he figured, but the last remarks made him wonder if the man was simply paying off some sort of debt by voting in his favour.

October 19

“It's an interesting place to hold a meeting,” Harry said to Dumbledore as they neared the Whomping Willow.

“The Shrieking Shack has the advantage of its reputation,” Dumbledore said. “Of course, we've enhanced that somewhat; I am not averse to releasing the occasional frightening sound or an apparent spectre.”

Harry laughed. “I suppose the Shrieking Shack does have to shriek now and again,” he said.

“Quite so,” said Dumbledore. “I take it that you can disable the Willow? I am afraid that I do not move as fast as was once the case.”

Harry rolled beneath the flailing limbs and struck the proper knot. Dumbledore shuffled to the concealed entrance and followed Harry into the tunnel that led to the Shack.

“This seems... cleaner,” Harry observed.

“All the better for we aged sorts to make the journey,” Dumbledore returned. “I am also grateful to the Weasleys for all the changes that they made to the interior. Not only is the Shack an acceptable place to meet, but also to house persons who may prefer to remain unseen.” He leaned heavily on his walking stick for a moment, and then added, “This is a greater distance than I had recalled.”

“Should we stop for a bit?” asked Harry.

“Only for a moment,” Dumbledore answered; “We must not keep the others waiting.”

They were met at the entrance to the Shack by Lupin; Shona Malloch stood behind him.  Lupin strode forward and pulled Harry into a fierce hug.  “You did your best for Heather – you did your absolute best,” he said unevenly.

Shona traded places with him.  “At least yeh popped that bastard,” she said.

“It wasn’t enough,” Harry said firmly.  “How is she?  Is she at all better…?”

“You have some people to meet,” Lupin cut in, his voice still shaking.  “Would it be all right if we were to talk afterward?”

“Of course… that is, if the Headmaster agrees?” Harry returned.

“The portion of the meeting that concerns you will last a very short time,” said Dumbledore; “I would take it as a favour if you were to remain with Remus and Miss Malloch.”  Lupin nodded warmly, but there was no warmth in his eyes - nor was there anger, Harry thought.  His eyes were deadened, and that left Harry with an unsteady feeling.

Dumbledore led Harry into the room where his birthday party had begun; it seemed much longer than two-and-a-half months since that night.  There were fourteen chairs in a circle, and two remained unfilled.  Most of the dozen people who waited were sitting quietly.  When they entered, all conversation ceased.

“I had not thought that a time would come when we would all gather again,” Dumbledore said into the silence, “yet here we are – all save one.  It is time to meet the reason we are assembled.  This is Harry Potter.”

Covelli gave a small wave; she still seemed tired from whatever had happened to her in the classroom, but otherwise unharmed.  Detheridge and Flitwick were present, as were Croaker, Marchbanks and the Marquis. 

A man who appeared close in age to Croaker and Marchbanks stood slowly.  “I am Tiberius Ogden, young man.  I knew your great-great grandfather Roger, as well as your grandfather Alexander from his days on the Wizengamot.  Never became closely acquainted with Zebulon… he was a testy fellow.  In any case…” 

Ogden moved forward and took Harry’s hand; Harry was so shocked that he didn’t react.  He peered closely at the scar on the back of Harry’s hand.  “I was informed of this, Mr. Potter.  Shocking business, that is.  I knew Madam Umbridge would be nothing but trouble, and my suspicions were borne out.”  He released Harry’s hand and then shook it.  “It is a pleasure to meet you.  There’s a fair bit of Roger in your features.”

“You may not remember me,” said the next man; “I am John Bear.”

“Of course I remember you, sir,” Harry said immediately.  Bear had made a strong impression upon him at MacLeish’s gathering.  “I still hope that the Headmaster will let me visit your school,” he added.

“I hope that will come to pass,” said Bear.

“One never knows, Harry,” was all Dumbledore would say.

“I may need your assistance in solving a mystery that affects my kinsmen,” Bear said.  “It pertains to tribal lands – some hunting grounds and a ritual site.  Would you be willing to lend your aid?”

“Er… I can’t imagine how I would help, but I’ll try,” said Harry.

“Good man, Mr. Potter,” Bear said.  “We will talk more, I’m sure.”

Dumbledore stepped forward and introduced the man seated next to Bear.  “This is David Narrandarrie,” he said; “He was one of the people whom you contacted as a prospective tutor.”

“Oh, you’re the expert on dreamtime!” Harry said.

Narrandarrie was a short man, not so much as Flitwick but several inches shorter than Harry.  He had dark weathered skin that crinkled deeply around his eyes when he smiled.  “No one is truly an expert,” he said in a high, soft voice.  “I have lived with the dreamtime all of my life, even in the times when dreams were unwelcome things.  That which you would ask of me is a difficult path to walk.  I will help you find the path in the springtime, and you will decide whether to walk upon it.”

“Er… yes, sir,” Harry said.  He reached to shake Narrandarrie’s hand, but instead received a peculiar bow.

“Some of Master David’s words are spoken for effect,” the next man in the circle said to Harry.  “Take the ideas seriously, young Potter, but the man himself should not be taken in the same way.”  He rose and performed a crisp bow.  “I am Kanzan Yasutsana.”

Harry turned to Dumbledore.  “I thought you said you hadn’t warned off the people I contacted for tutoring,” he said.  “You said that Mr. Yasutsana was very hard to reach, didn’t you?”

“I did say that Kanzan is booked years in advance,” Dumbledore confirmed.

“My old friend is most persuasive,” Yasutsana said with a toothy grin.  “I had hoped that we would not see another dragon rise, but it was not to be… and so we in turn rise again from the ashes.”

There was a woman to Yasutsana’s left.  Harry couldn’t guess her age; she could have been anywhere between forty and one hundred, he decided.  She had flaming red hair that was streaked here and there with white.  It fell to the small of her back.  She was about Harry’s height and wore unusual robes that had no sleeves.  Her arms were considerably more muscular than Harry’s own.  “I am Telma Sigurdsdottir,” she said.  “I will teach you to wage war.”  With that, she sat down.

The last man who Harry didn’t know seemed very unassuming in contrast to the others.  He wore a black robe and a black shirt with grey trousers beneath.  It wasn’t until the man shook his hand that Harry noticed that the man’s unusual shirt collar. 

“My name is Oscar Pomfrey, Harry,” he said.  There was something oddly calming about the man’s voice.  “Yes, I’m a relation of Poppy – her brother, to be precise.”

“You’re dressed like a vicar, aren’t you?” said Harry.

“That would be because I am a vicar,” Pomfrey said with a chuckle.  “I was ordained in 1953, and led parishes for forty years.  These days I’m merely the rector for the Chapel of Saint Columba; it’s a chapel-of-ease located about ten miles from here.  Nearly all of my congregants are Muggle-born wizards, actually.”

“Forty-three years of stuff and nonsense, Reverend – it’s an amazement to me,” said Croaker.

“And after all this time, you can’t simply leave it alone, Algie?” Ogden growled.

Pomfrey gently shook his head.  “Mr. Croaker refers to me as the Reverend Pomfrey.  He means it as a term of derision, but I’m honestly not bothered by it – it’s accurate, after all.” 

Dumbledore held up his hands.  “If we could put aside the bickering for the moment, gentlemen…?  You all know that I would not have brought us together casually.  Even as the severity of the war with Voldemort grew in the 1970s, I did not call upon some of you.”

“You would not bring us together merely to help instruct your apprentice,” Yatsusana said.  “It is clear that Mr. Potter is to play a role in Voldemort’s demise.”

“It is more than that,” said Dumbledore.  “Harry, may I have your permission to share Madam Trelawney’s information?”

Harry gave a shrug.  “I can’t imagine anyone who helped to defeat Grindelwald would betray us.  Besides, it’s almost for certain that Voldemort has all of it now.”

“That’s not exactly true, Mr. Potter,” Bear said.  “There is one not among us, and it’s no accident – is it, Albus?”

“It is true that I do not believe Vladimir can be trusted,” Dumbledore admitted.

“…and well you shouldn’t, Albus.  It’s almost certain he’s tried to kill more than one of us over the years,” Marchbanks said with her customary bellow.

“Merciful Merlin, Griselda!” said Ogden.  “I understand that hearing charms have improved a good deal; perhaps you should try a new one!”

“Now then, to the reason we are gathered:” Dumbledore cut in.  He spoke the entire prophecy and the room went quiet.

“Your birthday is at the end of July?” Bear asked Harry.

“July the thirty-first,” Harry replied.

“Clearly your parents must have defied this wizard thrice?” confirmed Yatsusana.

Harry said, “So did Neville Longbottom’s parents, but –”

Sigursdottir finished, “– but you bear the mark.  It is a rune of strength set against evil.”

The Marquis broke another period of silence.  “I was one hundred and forty-three years of age on the day I killed Tramposo.  Albus, he was more than one hundred years of age when we faced Grindelwald.  Lucia, she was perhaps twenty in those days?  The Darkening nearly broke her – and I do not say this to offend, dear girl.  I retreated from the living for fifteen years after Tramposo.”  He looked to Harry.  “Monsieur Potter, you will not yet be twenty when you face this Voldemort, and you are the one to do the killing.  This is not the burden for one so young.  This is why I fell to the madness and let Albus bring me to his Hogwarts, yes?  Albus needed the twelve.  There are thirteen here, Monsieur Potter, and your own will come to you in time.  We do not come together… ehh… casually.  We are old, most of us, but we will do what we are able.”  He rose to his feet, embraced Harry, and kissed him on each cheek.  “We will do what we must.”

“Well spoken, Alex,” boomed Marchbanks.  “It’s good to see that you can still rise to the occasion.”

The Marquis raised his head imperiously.  “I assure you, Madam that the Marquis de Maupassant can always rise to the occasion,” he declared.

“I have no expectation that all of you will remain until the fateful day comes, not even those who are now teaching at Hogwarts,” Dumbledore said.  “I do hope that even if you cannot bring yourselves to assist me, you will nonetheless choose to assist Harry when and how you are able.”

“You would not have asked and we would not have come if it were not so,” said Narrandarrie.

Sigurdsdottir stood from her chair.  “We will fight.  It is our way,” she said.  Within moments, it was clear to Harry that Dumbledore’s team would help as they could.

“So, Professor...” Harry said mischievously to Dumbledore, “if my mum and dad and the rest from the first war with Voldemort were the ‘old crowd’, then what’s this group?”

Dumbledore pulled a wry grin and said, “This would be the old-old crowd, I imagine.  Why don’t you go to Remus now?”

After a round of handshakes and solemn promises, Harry left the room to look for Lupin.  He found him, along with Shona, in the open area at the foot of the stairs.

“Are they going to stand with you?” Lupin asked.

“It looks that way,” said Harry.  “How is Heather doing?”

“Yeh cut right to it, don’t yeh?” Shona said.  “She’s forgotten so much, she… och, you tell it, Remus.”  Her eyes squeezed shut and she let out odd hiccups; Harry realized that she was trying not to cry.

Lupin’s expression went cold.  “Lockhart didn’t direct the obliviation in the way that should have been done.  It’s a wonder that those musicians weren’t affected as badly, but I suppose Heather was spelled first.  She hasn’t only forgotten the events of that evening; she’s forgotten a fair portion of the past several years.  There are bits and pieces there, but each time she tries to recall it… each time it’s the same: she descends into the same sort of madness.  St. Mungo’s certainly didn’t serve her well.”  Harry felt a rush of seething anger from Lupin; he quickly took the steps to clear his mind.

“That effin’ place… and what sort o’ saint is Mungo – can yeh tell me that?” Shona snapped.  “They knew that magic was no good fer Heather, but did that stop ‘em?  No!  One of those healers of yours, she was tired of listening ta Heather screaming, so she tried ta put her out with a wand.  It took three days ta settle Heather again, and that healer’s lucky ta be in one piece.”

“Heather’s mind magics lashed out, and she had absolutely no control,” Lupin explained.  “They were ready to turn her over to the Department of Mysteries, Harry – I firmly believe that.  As soon as she was calmed enough, we spirited her away.”

“Where is she then…?” Harry asked.  “She’s here, isn’t she?”

Harry started toward the stairs, but Lupin stopped him.  “Harry, it took her two days to recall who Shona was.  I can’t imagine she’ll remember you at all.  She… she’s taken to calling me her d-dad, and that would never have happened...”

“If yeh want ta see her, yeh’ll have ta leave yer wand with Remus,” Shona said.  “I don’t want yeh looking in her eyes fer long, neither – is that understood?”

“I understand,” Harry said.  He drew his wand and placed it in Lupin’s hand.

“Are yeh sure yeh want ta do this?” Shona asked him gravely.

“I have to see her,” said Harry.

Shona pointed down the small corridor that started beside the stairs.  “Second door on yer left,” she said.

Harry knocked on the door.  “Er… may I come in?” he said.

“It’s open,” said a voice from the other side.  It didn’t sound like Heather’s voice, he thought; there was something hollow about it.

Heather sat on her bed in night clothes, with her arms gathered around her knees.  Her hair was neatly brushed but seemed dull.  There were dark circles beneath her haunted eyes.  She looked to him with a too-quick movement and studied him intently.  “I don’t know you… but I know you,” she said.

“I’m… I’m Harry,” he said.

“I’m Heather,” she said.

“I know that,” he returned.

She laughed softly and said, “I suppose you do.  Mum and Dad talked of someone named Harry, so you must be him.  That must be what I remember… but I remember more than that.  I do know you, but I can’t put it together…”

“Don’t try to remember,” Harry told her.  “I’m, er, something like a cousin, I suppose.  Remus was a good friend of my dad and mum, almost a brother.  He would have taken me in when they died if it had been allowed.”

“So you could have been my brother,” she said.  “I like that idea: a brother.  I wonder what it’s like to have a brother?  You don’t have one, do you?”

“That’s right,” he said; “How would you know that?”

Heather rolled her eyes.  “You said that Dad would have taken you in.  If you had a brother, you’d have said that he would have taken the both of you in.  I’m not stupid; I just can’t remember anything to save my life.”  She patted the edge of the bed and added, “You can sit, if you’d like.  I don’t bite… not much, anyway.”

Harry laughed.  “That sounds like the Heather I know,” he said.

One corner of her mouth curled upward.  “Really?  That’s good, then.”

“Have they told you what happened?” he asked.

Heather’s eyes drifted away from Harry.  “They told me about magic, if that’s what you mean,” she said.  “I’m supposed to know that I’ve forgotten things, but I’m supposed to try not to remember them – how mad is that?”

“It sounds mad, doesn’t it?” Harry agreed.  “Was it hard for you, being at St. Mungo’s?”

Her hands twitched.  “I don’t want to talk about that place,” she snapped.

“Then we won’t talk about it,” Harry said.  “Where are you going to go?  Has anyone said anything about that?  You aren’t staying here, are you?”

“No, we’re not staying here.  That’s a good thing; it’s a drab place, don’t you think?  I don’t know where we’re going.  I don’t think my mum and dad know, either,” she said.  “Do you like my mum and dad?  I know you said you might have lived with Dad, but that doesn’t mean you like them?”

“Yeah, I like them,” he said.  “Shona’s… interesting.”

“That’s a nice way of putting it,” she chuckled.  “I remember her a little, but it’s from a long time ago.  I… I don’t remember Dad at all, really.  He really seems to care about me – I guess that’s enough, right?”

“He does care about you,” Harry said.

“They seem lost, don’t you think.  I know I’m more than a little lost… I guess we’ll all be lost together,” she said.  “I think they want to leave the country, but Mum owns a restaurant and Dad is worried about his work or something like that.”

“You’d be safer outside Britain, I think,” he said.

“I got the sense we’re in some sort of danger,” said Heather.  “Is it that man who did this to me?  Do they think he’ll come after me again?”

Harry hesitated and then said, “It’s something like that.”

“It’s all frightening, really,” she admitted.  “Should I be frightened?”

“I don’t know,” he said.  “I’ve… I’ve been worried about you, you know?  All I knew was that you had been hurt; I didn’t know how badly.  I didn’t know if you remembered anything at all, if you were just lying in a bed somewhere…”

“It’s not that bad, not as long as I keep from thinking too much about what happened,” she told him.

Harry was struck by an idea, an idea that just seemed right to him.  “Do you like the countryside?” he asked.

“The countryside?  Fields, trees, gardens, that sort of thing?” she asked in return.

“Right in one – do you remember that sort of thing?” he wondered.

“I remember things like that, yeah.  I like the countryside all right,” she said. 

“I can take you somewhere, all three of you.  It’s a bit isolated; there are only two other people there, and two house-elves,” he said.  “Do you know what house-elves are?”

“Are those the little green men, the ones who fall all over themselves trying to be helpful?” she asked.  “I saw them once or twice at… at that place.”

“Those were house-elves,” Harry confirmed.  “There aren’t any people your age; is that a problem?”

“Harry, I don’t remember anyone but Mum, not really.  I think I might recall you, but I’m not sure of it.  I’ll be fine wherever we go,” Heather said.  “Is there a nice house there – nicer than this, at least?”

“Oh, yes,” Harry said with a smile; “No worries there.”

“Why don’t you call for Mum and Dad?  We can see what they have to say on it,” Heather said.

Remus and Shona came when called.  Shona gave a small smile when she entered the room.  “Yeh look better than this mornin’, Heather; it’s good to see,” she said.

“Harry’s had an idea,” Heather said.

“I have somewhere for you to stay, somewhere safe,” Harry told them.

“Harry… that’s very kind of you, but we’ll work it out somehow,” said Lupin.

“I’ve the restaurant ta think of,” Shona added.

“What it is worth – the restaurant, I mean,” Harry asked.

Shona’s eyes narrowed.  “What’s it worth…?  Och, yeh’d better not be thinkin’ what I think yer thinkin’.”

Harry pressed, “It can’t be worth more than a million pounds, can it?”

Shona broke into coughing, and Lupin frowned; “I understand what you’re doing, but you must know how I feel about charity,” he said.

Harry sighed.  “Do you understand?  Do you, really?  Look, I’m partly responsible for this.  I didn’t wave the wand, but you know what I mean, Remus.”

“You’re hardly responsible for this, Harry,” Lupin snapped; “I think we’re all quite clear on who the responsible party is.”

Harry turned to Heather.  “I never meant to hurt you.  I’m going to make this right.”

“Remus said yeh’ve got a lot of money, but yeh need ta think of yer future, boy,” Shona said.

“Please, Remus… let me take the three of you there.  If you don’t like it, I’ll bring you back and we can figure out something else,” Harry said.  “Shona, if you decide to leave the country, then I’m going to buy L’Oiseau Chanteur.  You can help me find a new chef if you like, or recommend someone, or I can just give the place over to The Greek – whatever you think is best.  I want to do this.  I need to do this.”

Shona let out a long breath.  “I don’t like it, but it can’t hurt ta look.  Remus… what do yeh think?”

“All right, Harry,” Remus said; “I’ll give in that much, at least.  How do you plan for us to get there?  I can’t imagine Albus will let you be away for long, if at all.”

“I’m going to try something,” Harry said.  He turned to Heather and added, “Don’t be afraid, all right?  I promise that nothing will hurt you.”

“I believe you; I don’t know why, but I do,” she said.

Harry called out, “Fawkes?  Could you come here, please?”  He had no idea what would happen, if anything.  A few seconds later, the brilliant red phoenix appeared at the centre of the room in a blazing flash.

“Lord in Heaven above… what is it…?” Shona whispered.

Heather scooted backward until she was pressed against the headboard.  Fawkes landed on the end of the bed and slowly walked forward.  “It won’t hurt me?” she asked in a small voice.

“He won’t hurt you,” Harry assured her.  “Fawkes is a phoenix.”

“A phoenix… he’s named after another animal?” she asked.

“No, it’s not Fox; it’s Fawkes, like Guy Fawkes,” Harry said.

“He’s named after someone who wanted to blow up Parliament, eh?  I guess I have to like you,” Heather said.

Fawkes cocked his head to one side and closely regarded her.  Without warning, he flapped his wings once and landed atop Heather’s knees.

“OH!” she shrieked.

Fawkes responded with a long, high trill.

“Oh… oh, my!” Heather said to Fawkes.  “You sing!  I used to sing, Mum says, but… but I can’t remember how to do it.  I mean, I can still carry a tune, but she says I did a bit more than that.  I remember being on stages, and street corners when I was really young, but I can’t hear it in my head.”

Fawkes trilled again; the pitch rose and then fell.

“Fawkes, could you take us somewhere?  I know that it’s probably up to the Headmaster, but I thought that I would ask you first,” Harry said.

Fawkes let out something that was more chirp than trill, and hopped from Heather’s knees to Harry’s shoulder.

“I believe your answer is ‘yes’, Harry,” Lupin said with a smile.

Harry said, “Listen carefully, right?  Brucewood is a manor house that sits on twelve hundred acres of gardens and forest on the west-central coast of Victoria Island in British Columbia.”

Lupin blinked hard twice.  “Brucewood… didn’t that belong to your grandmother’s family?  I’m sure that I remember James speaking of it, or perhaps it was your grandfather…?”

“That’s right,” Harry said.

“British Columbia?  That’s in Canada, right?” Heather said.

“How do you remember that, but not…?” asked Lupin.

“It’s like amnesia, they told us,” Shona said.

“You can’t remember that it’s amnesia?” Heather asked, and then started to laugh.

Fawkes squeezed his talons and Harry jumped.  “I think he’s ready to go,” Harry said.  “Shall we do this in one trip or two, Fawkes?”  Fawkes tugged Harry toward Heather.

“I’d say that’s two trips, wouldn’t you?” Lupin laughed.

Harry motioned for Heather to stand.  He said, “All right, wrap your arms around me – tightly – and then close your eyes.  I promise that it’ll be all right.”  She held him tight but it was awkward; it felt nothing like before, Harry thought.  In an instant, they were bathed in warmth and hurtled through darkness.  By the time Heather drew a sharp breath, they stood at the edge of Brucewood’s wards.  He allowed Heather to pass through, and they walked through the trees until the gardens and the house came into view.

“Oh!” she gasped.  “Will you look at that?  It’s unbelievable…”

“Do you think you’d be able to stay here?  It might be a long time, Heather – a year or more,” Harry said.

She looked at him in disbelief.  “Are you joking?  Oh yes, this will do!  I can’t wait to see the house.”

Harry returned with Remus and Shona a short time later, and they were eventually won over by Heather’s enthusiasm and the Grangers’ welcoming tone.  Mr. and Mrs. Granger seemed genuinely happy to have company, however extended, and both Dobby and Winky were eager to have more people to serve.  The wards and the Fidelius charm didn’t seem to have any negative effect on Heather, and Harry was glad for that.  He took a small package from the Grangers for Hermione and then returned with Shona to the Shrieking Shack.  Harry promised to invite Ted Tonks the next day to see about the restaurant, and Shona resolved to begin making arrangements for leaving St. Ebb.

Dumbledore and his old colleagues were still in the upper room, talking and laughing and apparently making plans.  Harry was welcomed back into the room.  “You borrowed Fawkes, I understand?” the Headmaster said.

“I’ve made arrangements for Remus and Shona and Heather,” Harry said.

Dumbledore’s brow rose.  “Is that so?  Will they be leaving the country?”

“Yes, and I can’t say anything more,” said Harry.

“You cannot or will not?” Dumbledore asked.

“I can’t say,” Harry confirmed.

“An inspired choice,” Dumbledore said with a smile.  “Do you require any assistance?”

“I’ll have to see Mr. Tonks tomorrow – will that be a problem?” Harry asked.

“I would imagine it is a matter of estate management,” Dumbledore answered.  “Will you require anything else?”

“I have a question, actually,” Harry said.  “How would I go about hiring a healer?”

“You would like to hire the exclusive services of a healer to treat Miss Magruder?” Dumbledore asked.  Harry nodded.

Dumbledore clapped his hands to gather the attention of the others in the room.  “Mr. Potter has need of a healer – no, no, not for himself.  He wishes to hire a healer exclusively to care for a friend who was given a faulty obliviation.”

“This would be the young girl in the Daily Prophet?” Flitwick asked.

“That is correct.  I can imagine that the term of employment might be twelve months or more,” said Dumbledore.

“That will be most expensive,” Yatsusana said.

“Where would this take place?” asked Bear.

“I… can’t say,” Harry returned.

“Can you say on which continent?” Bear countered.

“North America,” Harry said.

“I’ll have some names for you by the end of next week,” Bear told him.  Harry’s shoulders lowered noticeably and he let out a long breath.

Dumbledore let his hand rest on Harry’s shoulder.  “Why don’t you return to the castle, Harry?” he said.  “Marcus will walk with me when I return.”

Harry nodded, even as his shoulders fell further.  He wandered down the stairs and then out the stable doors to the ward-concealed patio that the Weasleys had left behind.  Hogsmeade was busy, as it was an open weekend for the students.  He thought he saw Dean and Seamus strolling down the high street.  He didn’t see any distinctive red hair.  He hoped that Hermione had stayed in the castle, perhaps even in his rooms.  It was a hard thing for him to admit to himself –a very unaccustomed thing – but he needed her just then.

Next: Chapter Forty – Les Chevaliers de Saint-Pierre

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Author Notes:

Notes:

1. Yes, I know this chapter is abso-bloody-lutely LONG.  I felt that all these elements fit together, so here they are.  Despite the length and depth, this does advance the plot significantly; it also brings together people and events that otherwise would have been spread over several chapters.  They will get shorter as I go... I think... either that, or my hands will fall off... :-)

2. Anna de Flandres' name is a tip of the hat to Jeconais, whose Queen of the Veelas in the incomplete fic "Princess" went by the same name.  This Anna de Flanders is not a Veela, however stunning or self-possessed she may be. 

Achille de Flanders is not a tip of the hat to Orson Scott Card.  I have never read the book in question; I made it through about 1/3 of Ender's Game before I decided I wasn't hooked, and that's the extent of my experience with the author.  I was informed on the Forum of the similarity, and decided to keep the name as-is.  I like it.

3. The incompetent minor dark wizard Uberwald gets his name from a longtime reader... not to say that the 'real' Uberwald is an incompetent dark wizard, of course.  Insofar as I know, he is neither a wizard nor dark.

4. The American Grindelwald sympathizer Joshua Warren gets his name from another longtime reader... not to say that Josh is a suck-up to a mad Austrian wizard, of course.  Insofar as I know, Josh is not acquainted with any mad Austrian wizards.

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