Her features were plain but elegant, her slim face sweeping gently into a smile. Her black hair with silvering streaks swept up into an elegant bun just like Professor McGonagall's. Her black robes were trimmed in red, yellow, green, and blue. Her slim fingers were held lightly in front of her, no wand in sight. Power and wisdom seemed to roll off her in gentle waves, soothing but alerting you that this was no ordinary woman. In fact, a woman you should not be messing with if you valued your life.
"Who are you?" Ron blurted out, unable to keep the question in. He inched closer to Shyamal, his fingers twitching just a bit.
"You're Hogwarts, aren't you?" Shyamal softly answered Ron's question, his mind putting the pieces together. Though he could see her, she did seem to have an ethereal quality to herself, like one would see in a dream. There but not there.
"Indeed, I am. Mr. Suha." Shyamal tensed under her stare, seeing her eyes bore into him. I know who you are, Mr. Potter and though I may not agree with your decision to keep your existence from your parents, I will abide by it.
"That's impossible." Hermione started, snapping out of her state. "I mean, Hogwarts can't be alive. Magic cannot create life; it's against one of the Laws of Magic."
The woman lifted a hand, tapping the side of her chin with a finger. "You know magic is in all living things, correct?" Hermione nodded. "Even rocks and metals have slight affinity for magic, especially if they are treated with special means. It helped that my mothers and fathers imbued a piece of their own soul into me, knowing they would not last forever, with help from the Sorcerer Merlin. In essence, I am their child of their souls."
"You actually carry their souls." Ron blanched.
Hogwarts, as Shyamal now started identifying her, chuckled lightly. "I do have their memories and experiences, if that is what you mean. However, I am not truly them or even a reincarnation of them. I do have certain aspects, like Salazar's cunning, Rowena's intelligence, Helga's love, and Godric's nobleness."
"Why haven't you revealed yourself to the student or even the Headmaster?" Hermione asked.
"Ah, I believe that comes a bit from both Salazar and Rowena. I may be a school but I do have some sense of self preservation and I do understand the fact that a number of people would come to me to ask the 'Founders' for advice on certain issues. I could not have that risking the education of the students nor the safety of the school itself." She paced a bit. "Then there's the fact I need to hide my very existence from those who would do irreparable harm to the school."
"Precisely." She stopped. "But now, I fear the dissent within the school is worsening with every year and as Hogwarts is the sum of all four Houses, the division is causing great amounts of harm within the hall and in the school itself."
"What do you mean? Are you falling apart?"
"He is right, Ms. Granger. I am literally falling apart inside of myself. I can feel the cracks that are beginning to form in the foundations of both castles and the walls hidden in the earth around the boundaries have begun to decay. The wards that have protected the school for so long are failing despite attempts from the current Headmaster to keep them up. I do not know how long I will last under these circumstances."
"Both castles? We're not in Hogwarts?" Shyamal asked.
"Ms. Granger was right when she stated that we are in the mountain near the school itself. What is not readily known to the wizards outside is that the Founders did indeed build a second castle." Her arms rose, motioning toward the room. "This, this is the safe haven of those who are not afraid of change, of who are willing to carry on their ideals of humanity, respect, and tolerance against a tide of true Evil. This is the Espiritus Castellum, the Refuge of the Spirit."
"I have heard of the wizard's so called definition of true Evil. Just because one is Dark does not mean they are Evil. They only become Evil when they do so to harm others merely for the sport of it. Voldemort or the boy who once passed these halls as Tom Marvolo Riddle became Evil when he lost the ability to see humanity for what it was and started harvested delusions of grandeur."
"Why did you show us this?" Hermione asked, her fingers itching to grab a piece of parchment.
"As I awoke from my slumber, I sensed your intentions, especially as you are the ones to fight against the evil one who calls herself a teacher and who walks my halls. In doing so, I have also sensed your need." Hogwarts stared that them. "You are the only four who are willing to take the steps necessary to protect themselves. And in your passion, you have sent the few pebbles that have now caused similar passions to fall into the other two Houses."
The three students glanced at each other. Shyamal met Hogwarts' eyes. "Do you know where we could hold a meeting enough for the entire study group then?"
A smile curved over her features. "Indeed, I do, Mr. Suha. One that would more than adequate for your needs."
"I still don't understand why Snape is the one teaching my son Occlumency." James set his glass down on the table, staring at his old professor. "Why can't we get another Occlumens to teach Edward?" James was in Hogwarts, visiting his wife as she stayed in her quarters because it was easier for her than traveling to Potter Manor than back every day. For James, Fudge was keeping a close eye on him so James only came on the weekends, knowing even that was pushing the boundaries of suspicions.
It only made James hate Fudge even more, forcing him to look over his shoulder when he should be focusing on his wife and remaining child than dealing the fucking bloody political machine.
"I have already told you, James, that there is hardly anyone beside me and Severus who can withstand a Legilimens attack from Voldemort." Dumbledore held up his hand, preventing James from speaking. "And I cannot teach Edward myself because of the risk of Voldemort finding anything of great importance or Merlin forbid, using Edward against me."
"It's just that Edward has complained that the lessons aren't helping like you said." Lily said softly. "He states that after the lessons, he can see the vision more clearly which means his connection with Voldemort is stronger. I see Edward suffering from headaches the day after on."
"Can't you at least talk to him, Albus?" James pleaded.
"I'll do what I can, James." The old headmaster took a sip of his tea. "Have there been any word on the attacks by the Dark Heir?"
James growled darkly as Lily blinked back tears. "No, some Aurors have taken up the term as well speaking about him. All of the evidence if you can call it that points to him being the one who is now the leader of the Death Eaters who escaped persecution fourteen years ago."
"I don't believe Fudge will let this go. He'll try to use Harry as the one to blame for all of the attacks. He won't care that Bellatrix can be the one masterminding the plans or even Lucius." Lily said, pouring some more tea into her cup and adding sugar. "There are so many possibilities of who can actually be leading them. Harry could just be a figure head."
"That's because Lucius Malfoy is bloody greasing Fudge's pockets for the upcoming elections in a year." James huffed.
Albus rested his head on his hands. "Is there anything particularly definitive that proves Harry is the Dark Heir beyond a doubt?"
"Not really. The surviving eyewitness accounts say that his eyes were a bright green and his hair as black as the night. The rest of his features were hidden by that mask." James paused. "The only other proof is what he says when we check through the memories."
"Then, there is a chance that it isn't Harry." Dumbledore stated simply, face solemn, eyes unfocused slightly.
"Dumbledore you know that Harry fled with a group of Death Eaters five years ago when we lost Danny, Jon, and Evie." James hissed.
"He could be dead, James, for all we know. With magic, the boundaries between certainty and uncertainty are blurred beyond what we can see immediately. Illusions can be made so easily." Dumbledore snagged a biscuit off the plate. "Either way, this Dark Heir will prove to be a formidable opponent on the battlefield. From the reports you have given me, James, he seems to be at Bellatrix's level in dueling if not her superior."
"What else get worse?" James banged his fist onto the table, knowing Bellatrix could easily take on a most if not all of the Auror force on a one to one duel and win.
"I do have a bit of news." Dumbledore said slowly. "It seems the Blood Elves have declared war on the Giants after being attacked."
"Blood Elves, the Kingdom on the Continent?" James asked, brows furrowing deeply.
"Romania to be exact." Lily leaned forward. "Why did they get attacked?"
"It seems to me that the Death Eaters tried to recruit them on Voldemort's behalf, trying to goad them into taking back the ancestral land that was once home to one of the four clans that make up the Kingdom. When they refused, I believe Tom tried to force them. It backfired spectacularly, I must say. The Blood Elves were able to capture a few Death Eaters as well as kill at least half of the Giants who accompanied them before repelling the invading force. My sources in the Ministry there say this might increase the chance of the Blood Elves joining us against Tom. At the very least, they will be able to keep the Giants occupied over there and prevent them from migrating here."
"Are you going to send an envoy?"
"Yes, James, I am. I believe Remus would be a good choice."
"I thought you were sending Remus to go speak to the Werewolf clans in Northern England?"
Dumbledore's eyes focused on James' face. "I believe the Blood Elves might offer more to the werewolf clans than we can. If we can get the Blood Elves on our side, we can possible increase the chance of having the werewolf clans join us."
Puzzlement cross the Potters' face. "I don't understand."
"You have heard of the four new arrivals, yes?" He received a nod from James, The headmaster knew Lily had heard about the Suha Siblings through Edward so he continued on. "Only I and Sirius know about this as well as the staff here except for Madam Umbridge. The Suha twins, Damian and Cosmas were both bitten by werewolves when their parents were killed. Remarkably, they have a great amount of control over their transformation. The two of them can shift into their wolf forms even if it isn't a full moon. Sadly though, they still have to shift on the night of the full moon but with less pain than Remus goes through, even to the point of no pain at all on their part. They live in Romania where the Blood Elves live. With a few deductions, I believe the one who taught them how to shift are the Blood Elves."
Realization hit Lily first. "So if you get the Blood Elves on our side, we can ask them to teach the werewolf clans how to control their wolf sides and we can supply the Wolfsbane potion when needed."
"That's brilliant." James breathed, thinking over the time when Remus was plagued by his Lycanthropy curse or 'furry little problem' as he and Sirius called it.
"I believe Remus is already on his way to the Blood Elf Kingdom as we speak."
A highlight in Shyamal's life came on Sunday during lunch. Shyamal, Ron, and Hermione were heading back to Gryffindor Tower to work on some projects for the student group when they came across a large group of students milling around the House Hourglasses.
"I wonder what's going on." Ron looked back at Shyamal and Hermione as he pushed his way through the crowd. "Oy, Gryffindor Prefects coming through!" His eyes widened dramatically as he caught sight of the adults standing before the large glasses. "Merlin, the Hourglasses all have gems.
"What? Yesterday, there weren't any except for the ridiculous amount in Slytherin." Hermione grunted, pushing her way next to Ron.
Shyamal came up behind them, narrowing his eyes at the rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and amethysts in the bottom half of each Hourglass. "It must be Hogwarts." He whispered. "Remember what she said yesterday."
Standing in front of the Ravenclaw Hourglass was Umbridge who was bright red. Next to her was the smaller Professor Flitwick, who seemed to be holding onto his non-existent temper.
"What is the meaning of this?" Screeched the woman, trying her best to intimidate the shorter professor.
"As I have told you repeatedly, Madam Umbridge, I have no proof of whoever tampered with the Hourglasses. The only definitive answer I can give you is the Hourglasses will only respond to the House Prefects, Professors, and the Head Boy and Girl as well as the Headmaster. Even then, they must be for reasonable deductions or rewards as in accordance with Hogwarts regulations. I will demonstrate: 5 points from Ravenclaw!"
The students held their breath but not a single sapphire shot into the upper chamber. Whispers broke out among the assembled crowd. Usually, when a professor said anything along those lines, the gems would shot up regardless if the deductions or rewards were reasonable, as in the case of Professor Snape.
"I am the Hogwarts High Inquisitor. I am the one responsible for the House point system and the detentions of students within these halls. The Hourglasses for Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw must empty!"
Flitwick briefly closed his eyes. "All Hourglasses have reset themselves, Madam, with a hundred points each."
"I believe Professor Flitwick has done everything humanely possible, Madam Umbridge." Dumbledore swept through the crowd, dressed in red-violet robes with silvery grey stars. He stopped before the Hufflepuff Hourglass. "Never in the history of Hogwarts has this happened before."
Umbridge' already beady eyes narrowed even further. "You have something to do with this." She pointed a pudgy finger at him. "You are in direct violation of a Ministry Decree, Dumbledore."
"I am not in violation of anything. Neither I nor any other professor has tampered with the Hourglasses. And I do not believe a student here has the ability to tamper with it."
Even with Dumbledore's words, Umbridge looked around until her eyes fell on Shyamal. "Y-you have found a way to take your revenge for your sister's detention." Shyamal tensed as she took a step closer, adrenaline beginning to pump into his veins.
"Mr. Suha has done nothing." Dumbledore interrupted his eyes hardening. "Once classes are over, I will have Professors Black, McGonagall, Vector, and Snape check over the Hourglasses for anything Professor Flitwick might have missed. Anything than that will simply be unfounded suspicions. I doubt Minister Fudge will like to see his newly appointed High Inquisitor believing in conspiracy theories while threatening innocent students."
Umbridge drew herself up, patting her hair back into place. "Yes, you are quite right. I believe we can all say the House Cup should be awarded to Slytherin as they are the only ones who did not resort to cheating." Angry murmurs began to break out, quite a few students sending Umbridge ugly looks.
"ON the contrary, Madam Umbridge, the reason I found myself here was due to the House and Quidditch cups are now missing from the Headmaster's office." Dumbledore glanced at the students around them. "Perhaps it would be best for the students to return to their dormitories." He turned to his Deputy. "Minerva, prepare a search of all dorms for the Cups. They are part of a short of collection of heirlooms of Hogwarts."
Shyamal lead Hermione and Ron down a secondary route to Gryffindor Tower. "I believe Hogwarts is taking back control of her halls again."
"I didn't even know she could do that." Hermione squeaked. "I wonder what else is possible for the school to do."
"She is a sentient building." Ron muttered. "I bet she's laughing her rocky foundation in laughter right now."
The rest of Sunday saw the two Gryffindor Prefects spreading the word of the first meeting of their organization on the Seventh floor across from the tapestry of a witch teaching a group of trolls ballet on Monday at 9pm. They had also passed on the instructions to enter the secret room Hogwarts had given them.
Shyamal had also taken advantage of the day to work on Hermione's idea on charming fake galleons with the Protean Charm. Thanks to the spell, the area where the identification number of the Goblin casting the coin was now held the time and date of the meeting. For added protection, Shyamal had added a few extra layers of safety nets to the coins, knowing anything could be possible when you have such a large group of unknown students.
If someone activated the warning system, all of the coins would immediately rust, vibrating and giving off enough heat to warn everyone that the group had been discovered. Another layer was if Umbridge was to touch any coin, the coin immediately melts, burning her hand which would still activate the warning system.
He also had taken the time to set up lesson plans, knowing he would have limited time to teach the Hogwarts students everything they would need to know in a basic duel. Since Professor Black had taken to teaching the basics, Shyamal decided to intensify his own lessons. He knew that the members now knew how to cast the Shield Charm, the Disarming Charm, the Stunning Spell, and a few other simple spells. He knew the purpose was also for the members to protect themselves enough for help to arrive, to teach them how to duel effectively when severely outnumbered.
All of that while studying for his OWL exams.
I must be insane. Shyamal thought as he led Ron and Hermione up to the room on Monday. I think I must be dreaming at the very least. Either that or someone has casted a Compulsion Charm on me.
"Here we are." Ron whispered, glancing at the tapestry where Barnabas the Barmy was leading her group of trolls through another ballet. "The wall opposite the tapestry."
"She said to be specific." Shyamal stated, his eyes drifting over the smooth grey stone wall.
"Enough for Umbridge and her minions not to find us." Hermione stated firmly.
"Good thinking, Hermione. Let me think otherwise the Room might get confused." Taking one last glance at the wall, Shyamal starting walking back and forth. We need a dueling room where Umbridge won't be able to find us. A place where we can learn DADA without Ministry interference. A dueling room enough to fight a group of 40 students from Umbridge.
"Holy-" Ron's voice trailed off.
All three of them stared at the large door that had materialized where the blank stretch of wall had been.
Shyamal stepped forward, reaching for the handle. With a silent swing, the oak door opened. Walking in first, Shyamal took in the large room before him. Bookshelves lined the walls, filled with ancient tomes and rolled up scrolls on DADA subjects. Cushions lined every now and then, ready for the students to come and sit down on them. The middle was raised, large enough for an entire group of 40 people to duel without worry of hitting someone else.
"Merlin's sagging penis!" The trio turned around to see Jordan crumpled on the floor.
"Whoa! Wasn't this a broom cupboard when we were hiding from Filch?" Fred asked, following Jordan through and helping his friend to his feet.
"I could have sworn this wasn't here." George agreed, taking a look around.
"We'll explain once everyone gets here." Ron said, taking a cushion and pulling it to the center of the platform.
Within minutes, the room filled as everyone showed up including a few extra people who Hermione took to the side and had them sign their name on her list. Zacharias Smith was the last one to show and settle down.
Shyamal raised his wand and shot off a small shower of sparks, the small chatter dying away."Welcome to the first meeting of our little illegal organization."
"Where did you find this place?" Zacharias interrupted, who had chosen to sit will away from Shyamal.
Annoyed already, Ron answered. "We have our sources."
"You don't have to worry, Zacharias, this isn't created by Dark magic. This room has been here for centuries, only coming into existence when a student has a great need and somehow stumbles on it. You all have been told how to summon the Room of Requirement as it's called so do not abuse it. This will be the place where we will hold our meetings. As you can see it has been stocked with everything we need from books and DADA books to medical supplies in case we injure ourselves during lessons."
Shyamal nodded to Ginny who raised her hands. "What will be learning while we are here?"
"Professor Black seems to be doing a good job on handling the basics from the Disarming Spell to the Stunning Spell. Because of the Umbitch, he can't teach us the more advanced spells. I will teach it to you instead as well as other spells I think you will need in dire situations. If you think there is a spell you need desperately in your arsenal, then you can come to me and I will teach it. Just because I'm the teacher, doesn't mean I will stomp on any personal requests, just make the reasonable."
Susan raised her hand. "Can we invite others to join us? I don't think it is fair to keep this from someone else who might need it."
"I know how you feel, Susan." Hermione answered. "But you know the political atmosphere right now at the Ministry. We can't take the chance someone will squeal to Umbridge about us. The only reason why the people who joined today were allowed to was because I talked to them. Any new members will have to be voted on."
"What makes you think that someone won't squeal in this group?" Zacharias asked snottily.
"The paper you signed is a contract. Even if you tell Umbridge, the parchment will activate and you will have to suffer the humiliating consequences." Hermione said softly, her words making everyone's eyes flick to the scroll she was holding in her hands.
"We made sure the group was covered before moving to this point." Shyamal looked around. "Now, we should get on to business-"
"Can we have a name?" Colin asked, leaning slightly forward. "I don't want to keep referring to us as the illegal group or something like that. Makes it seem- bad." A few people laughed, Colin shrugging at his choice of words.
Hermione slowly nodded. "You're right. A name will have a sense of unity and comradeship. Any suggestions?"
"What about the Defense Association?" Cho said, twirling a strand of black hair around her finger, biting on her lip. "That's the whole point of this group."
"Nah, too simple." Lee rebutted, waving off the suggestion. "We need to have some sort of kick of it."
"The Minister is a Wanker Group?" Fred suggesting nudging his best mate, ignoring the fact he was receiving glares from Hermione and Damian.
"Dumbledore's Army?" Ginny suggested.
"Dumbledore raising an army is the Ministry's greatest fear." Hermione said thoughtfully, tapping her quill against her the cushion.
Cosmas started bouncing. "How about the Phalanx?"
Ernie shook his head. "Nah sounds to militaristic."
"I like the sound of Dumbledore's Army better. We can shorten it to the DA." Damian added thoughtfully.
"We are not doing this for Dumbledore. We are doing this for ourselves." Cosmas argued. "Plus someone who hears any mention of Dumbledore with the word Army will run to Umbridge faster than you can summon a broomstick."
"Not if we use the DA." Damian retorted.
Neville butted in before Cosmas could argue on. "The Phalanx Aequitas or the Phalanx of Justice?" Neville suggested. "PA for short."
"How about Fidei Defensor, Defenders of the Faith." Terry suggested.
"Sounds like we're defending the Bible." Justin snorted. "Not that I'm against any religion but I'm not comfortable with it."
"Arcana Imperii?" Hermione saw the looks coming her way. "It means Secrets of the Empire." She clarified.
Shyamal shook his head. "Makes us sounds like we are secrets and not people."
"Arcana Defensor? Defender of the Secrets or Secrets of the Defender?"
"Same argument I think." Cho rebuffed.
"We can change it to Iustitia Defensor, Defender of the Justice." Ginny said. "Since we're doing this to get back Umbridge."
"Oh, I like that. Plus it helps as it can be shorten to ID which stands for identification in the Muggle world." Justin said. "It's like a little piece of material that verifies who you are."
Hala started snorting in laughter. "I thought the whole point was for Umbridge not to discover us."
"Kind of ironic." Damian agreed.
"So all in favor of Iustitia Defensor?" Hermione quickly counted. "Motion passed. We are now known as the Defenders of the Justice."
Shyamal climbed to his feet. "Well, now that's done, I think we should use the last bit of time left to see where you all stand in dueling. Pair up."
Cushions were flung to the side as the group moved to follow Shyamal's orders.
Spyridon- HAHA! Caught up to the chapters on ff.net. The ending of the chapter is Monday, November 6, 1995. The next chapter will have the full moon and a mark against Hogwarts. And Shyamal begins to get angry at the Dark Heir. If I keep to my schedule, new chapter released on April 26 at night, so it might be April 27 for some of you. I tend to update once per week but with RL, I might have to release one per 2 weeks.
PLEASE READ AND REVIEW! Soul food for an author you know?
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