: in which Harry plays a small joke on the Gryffindors… and brightens the day of one of the professors. Draco Malfoy discovers that perhaps his fortunes lay in a different direction. The afterm...
A/N2: in which Harry plays a small joke on the Gryffindors… and brightens the day of one of the professors. Draco Malfoy discovers that perhaps his fortunes lay in a different direction. The aftermath of the black out causes some staffing changes that Dumbledore didn't expect and Master Chiun makes the contract on Voldemort official... and Harry continues crushing on the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.
Harry Potter and the Sun Source
Chapter 8: The Last War
Well now, Harry said to himself. The common feature of all the troublemakers tonight were the charmed glasses they all wore. One thing about groups like this is that they tend to be led by individuals who fancied themselves to be Generals.
Generals don't do the fighting, they plan and supervise the battles… so, find someone wearing the charmed glasses that wasn't part of the attack…
Ah, Harry thought as he slid into a seat next to Draco Malfoy and slung and arm around the blonde's shoulders, startling the boy.
"Draco, Draco, Draco," Harry said shaking his head with a sigh as the lights in the castle came back on. "Your mother and I had such high hopes for you…"
Ron Weasley had been making his way from the Gryffindor tower to the Great Hall when the lights went out. One of the advantages of having a pair of unrepentant pranksters for older brothers was that after spending a lifetime under their loving ministrations, very little could surprise you.
Like when the lights go out. Ron immediately drew his wand and attempted to cast 'Lumos'. Nothing.
A small part of his mind wanted to congratulate who ever had pulled this one off, because the blackout was so utterly complete. One moment he had been bathed in the normal enchanted gas lights of the castle, the next they were all out and not even star light was coming in through the windows. Utter pitch blackness fill the castle and the refusal of any lighting spell to function soon caused shrieks of terror came from every direction as fear of the dark is a basic human phobia.
The larger part of his mind wanted to ask 'Is that all you've got?' The twins would never have been satisfied with simple darkness, there would have been something grabbing you from nowhere or odd sounds that caused your imagination to take flight. It was obvious that despite the quality of the darkness spell, this was the work of amateurs.
Ron's right hand grasped the staircase's banister, and he continued his descent to the main floor. The twins had done this darkness thing repeatedly when they were first years. He and Ginny had quickly learned to live in the dark. A twinge of longing passed through him at the thought of his lost sister before he set that feeling aside to concentrate on the here and now. There was only one way to counter the twins, really. You had to just ignore their antics until they got bored and move on to another way of entertaining themselves. Their abuse of Ron had fallen off markedly with the loss of Ginny when they started to expend most of their energies into making him and themselves laugh.
Ron reached the main floor and oriented himself toward the Great Hall. From his left came a ragged female sob. The youngest Weasley hesitated, then altered his orientation and made his way to the crying girl.
"Are you alright?" He asked.
"Who's there?" the fearful voice asked.
"Ron Weasley, sixth year Gryffindor." He answered. "Who are you?"
"Oh Ron, it's Romilda. Romilda Vane. What's going on?"
Ron hesitated for a moment, and then knelt down to sit next to Romilda in the darkness. "I'm guessing a prank. All the lights in the castle appear to have gone out. The best my brothers ever managed with this whole 'plunge the world into darkness' prank was half an hour. We'll just sit here and wait for it to wear off."
The girl wrapped herself around Ron's left arm and clung to him in the darkness. She was shivering in her terror of the dark, so the part of Ron that was fighting to be more of an adult disengaged her from his arm and pulled her onto his lap, rocking her gently. This was how he imagined he would have tried to comfort Ginny. They sat there in silence for several moments.
"Ron, can I ask you a question?"
"Well," Ron answered reflecting that this girl was fairly cuddly for a fourth year, not sisterly at all, "You can ask. I don't know if I'll answer you, but you can ask."
"It's really nice of you to sit with me here in the dark, but I was wondering, I mean, you're being so nice and all, but everyone knows how you feel about.... What I mean is, I'm not a pure blood... My Mum's Mum is a Muggleborn."
Ron's brow furrowed in the dark. Why did she think that mattered to him? "Ok... Why do you think that would matter to me?"
He could almost hear her blush in the darkness. "You are usually so... short with everyone and the way you're always so mean to Hermione Granger and her friends?" she asked. "It's not just me, everyone wonders why you do that."
Ron sighed. "It's not something I'm really proud of Romi."
The girl seemed to move even closer to him, "but why did you do it?"
"First year," Ron sighed again. Why was he talking to this girl? "Granger was the bossiest little buck toothed bitch anyone had ever heard of. She would correct you in class right in front of everyone. She did to me in Charms class one day and I laid into her after class, pointing out that no one liked her and I told her what a know it all bitch she was."
"Oh," Romilda said quietly.
"I was an ass, I knew it as I was doing it, but god she got on my nerves. Anyway, she ran off crying and hid in one of the girls toilets. She was still there when a troll got into the castle, and somehow found her alone in that toilet."
"Yeah," Ron agreed nodding in the dark. "She was rescued by Professor McGonagall before the troll could hurt her too badly, though the Professor got badly hurt doing it. My brother's decided that it was my fault and they beat me up a bit. I stayed away from her for the rest of first year. She started hanging out with Neville and a few other oddballs after the Christmas Hols, and everything quieted down. Second year my sister Ginny started school, and Granger started hanging out with her and the twins as well as her little collection of misfits, then Ginny died."
"I'd heard about that," Romilda said, leaning into him.
"The twins started inviting Granger over to our house over that summer. Everyone made such a fuss over her. It was like she was taking Ginny's place..." His voice cracked a bit. "Well, not with me she didn't. That was when I started calling her 'Mudblood'... because I knew it got under her skin."
"So, you're not really a purist?"
"Me? Nah, I just do that to bug Granger, because she's still a pushy bint," Ron hesitated. "I'm trying to stop, I really am, but she just bugs the hell out of me."
"Do I bug you? I mean you're being so nice sitting here with me, but I know that I..."
"You're not bothering me at all Romi," Ron said. "This is kind of nice."
No, this girl wasn't sisterly at all.
"Lumos!" Millicent said again.
"Flagrate!" Neville cast.
Neither spell did anything about the utter darkness the Outsiders found themselves in.
"I recall the Weasley twins saying something about doing something like this as a prank." Hermione said.
"Oh, this is no prank Mudblood." a new voice said.
"Who's there?" Neville demanded just before a savage blow to his stomach doubled him over.
"Who told you you could talk Blood Traitor?" yet another unidentified voice said.
Instantly the Outsiders were on guard, not that it made any difference, there was a wet thunk and Millicent could be heard moaning in pain.
Oh hell! Colin Creevey thought. They're going to kill us... they can see and we... He stood stock still as that thought came to him. They can see.
The Muggle born student raised his camera. He had paid a lot of money for this camera. It hadn't been easy to find one with no electronics. He hit the shutter button and the flash bulb made it's traditional light. After so long in the darkness the sudden flash was painful to all of the Outcasts, but if the Outcasts were dazzled by the sudden light, their attackers were paralyzed in agony when their charmed spectacles amplified the flash to the point they felt as if someone had driven a spike into each eye.
The screams of the Blood bigots were music to young Colin's ears as he fished in his pockets for another bulb. Anything worth doing was worth over doing was one of his mottoes. Another flash showed four seventh year Slytherins clawing at their eyes connected the screams with bodies on the floor.
"Good job Colin." Neville said. "Let's help our friends here."
There was the sound of multiple impacts on bodies, and the screams faded to whimpers.
The Outsiders entered the Great Hall surrounding Neville as he levitated the four Seventh years up to the Staff table. Dumbledore still sat staring at the confusion that reigned in the Great Hall while his staff attempted to quell the disturbances and the nurse fussing over the boy who had somehow stabbed himself..
Upon reaching the staff table, Neville canceled his levitation charm allowing the four to fall to the stone floor with a thump.
"Mr. Longbottom, what is the meaning of this?"
"These four attacked us in the dark." Neville said simply. "It wasn't a mistake, it wasn't an accident. It was premeditated assault. They were prepared for the sudden darkness with charmed spectacles that allowed them to see. They knew what they were doing and they used weapons to do it."
Dumbledore was shocked at the events of the evening, how had things gotten to this point? Was the presence of Harry Potter causing all this?
"Thank you for bringing this to my attention Mr. Longbottom," The Headmaster said. "There will be a staff meeting to determine the appropriate punishments for their actions. Rest assured that their detentions will be unpleasant."
"Detentions?" Hermione Granger asked. "You will be assigning them detentions?"
"Won ob dem hit me in da fas wi a bea's ba," Millicent Bulstrode ground out through an obviously broken jaw. "and dey ge deinsons?"
"Yes Miss Bulstrode. I'm sorry if you were accidental hurt during this prank, but there is no reason to over react."
"What is going on Headmaster?" Minerva McGonagall asked as she rushed up to the table.
Neville exchanged a look with Hermione and sighed. As one they reached to the lapels of their robes. Albus Dumbledore was surprised when two metal badges bounced onto his plate.
"You'll be needing some new prefects," Neville said as he straightened his robes. "If a premeditated assault on someone is a 'prank' I for one want nothing to do with the office."
"Nor do I," Granger agreed. "Professor McGonagall, I will be withdrawing from Hogwarts upon the completion of this school year. There are other schools I can complete my education at, schools that do not tolerate assault. Please consider this my official notice."
Hannah Abbot's prefect badge joined the other two and the three set to guiding Millicent to where Madam Pomfrey was tending to students injured in the black out.
Albus found himself on the receiving end of yet another of Minerva's glares. Averting his eyes from those of his Deputy, the Headmaster looked at the chaos that infested the Great Hall. Then it dawned on him. Where was Harry Potter?
"So Wronghole, were is Voldemort?" Harry asked in a conversational tone. He waited a few moments before deciding that the blond Slytherin wasn't polite enough to to stop screaming long enough to answer the question.
Typical. You'd think no one had ever hung Malfoy by his leg from the side of the West tower, just inches from the eaves. Harry pressed his back into the stone of the tower to counter the thrashing of the new head of House Malfoy Come to think about it, Malfoy probably hadn't ever been hung by his leg from the side of a tower before.
It was sometimes hard for Harry to remember just how different his upbringing was.
"If you'd calm down you'd get to see the great view from up here," Harry said reasonably.
"How..." Draco was a bit hoarse from all the screaming, " how are you doing this?"
"Doing what?" Harry asked innocently, while wondering if Chiun would grant him an exception so that he could ice this waste of flesh and save a lot of people a lot of trouble in the future. Probably not, he decided. No money in it.
"CLIMBING THE FUCKING WALL!" the now sobbing boy screamed.
"What this?," Harry asked. "It's not that hard. You've leaned against the wall before haven't you?"
"NOT 100 FEET OFF THE GROUND!"
"100 feet? I think you need to get your eyes checked Wronghole, we're only," Harry looked down making a quick calculation, "79 feet 9 inches from the ground. Get a grip. Climbing the wall is easy, you just lean into it. An old stone tower like this is easier to climb than a staircase."
"What do you want?" the boy rasped.
"I want to know where Voldemort is," a sudden stain spread from the crotch of the upside down boy's trousers. "Damn Wronghole, show a little class won't you? I mean, seriously, Voldemort might kill you if you tell me, but I definitely will if you don't."
"I don't know!" Draco exclaimed as his fear drove him to tears, "I swear, I don't know."
Well, hell. Harry thought. The little bastard was telling the truth. "Hey, look!" Harry said gesturing with the hand that held the Malfoy heir. "The giant squid is playing with something."
"Stop it! Get me down! Please, get me down," the blond pleaded.
"I'll tell you what Wronghole. As much fun as your mom was in the sack, I'm getting tired of having to put up with you, so here's what's going to happen. In the morning you're going to discover that the stress of tonight's black out turned out to be just too much for your fragile little inbred mind, so you're going to withdraw from Hogwarts."
"Withdraw? But I can't." the Slytherin babbled.
"Of course you can. Tomorrow. If you don't, you'll die. If I ever see you again, you'll die," Harry raised Malfoy until the two were looking eye to eye. "If you take the Dark Mark, I'll know instantly, and you'll die. Slowly. Do we understand each other?"
"Yes," Draco nodded through his tears. "I understand. Please, please let me down."
"Down?" Harry laughed. "Nah, down is boring. You're going up in the world Wronghole."
With a flick of his wrist Harry tossed the once again screaming Slytherin up over the eaves and onto the slate roof of the West Tower. Draco felt himself starting to slide downward, and forced himself to fight through his fear and scramble to the very top of the tower where he wrapped himself around the lightning rod.
"Remember what I said Wronghole," Harry's voice came from under the eaves. "Tomorrow, you're withdrawing. Or dying, your choice."
In an action formed more from habit than any conscious decision, as soon as she pulled the drapes closed around her bed, Hermione cast a silencing charm on the interior of her bed and pulled the Marauder's Map from her book bag.
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." she said as her wand was pressed against the enchanted parchment.
Why am I doing this? she wondered as the map drew itself upon the parchment. Why am I bothering with this? I'm not a prefect any longer, and I'm never going to be Head Girl. Her mouth set into a firm line as she began her habitual scan of the map for inappropriate behavior.
The part of her mind dedicated to evaluating her performance focused on her actions when the lights went out. As soon as that horrible voice spoke in the darkness she had almost been paralyzed with fear. She heard Neville and Millie being attacked, and had no idea of how to respond. She stood stock still in the darkness waiting for the rescue that she knew was coming.
It was only after Colin had saved them all with his camera flash that she regained a sense of bearing in the situation... Only after the danger was over could she contribute to the defenses that the Outsiders mounted while they waited for the darkness to end. It wasn't until now she realized what she had been expecting, and Hermione was surprised at herself for her mindless expectation of rescue.
She had fully expected Harry Potter to show up and save her, to rescue her like one of the bare chested heroes of those horrid romance novels her mother so enjoyed. He would rescue her and she would reward him, and he would take her in his arms and then he would...
Hermione shook her head to clear those thoughts. She started to shut down the map's enchantments when Harry's name caught her eye, high in the West Tower... along with Draco Malfoy.
What would those two be doing in the West Tower this time of night? Surely there was nothing that could cause them both to need to use one of the school's post owls. Her brow furrowed as she notice that there was something... off about how their names were shown... The pair didn't appear to be inside the boundaries of the tower, rather, it was as if they were... outside. But that was impossible, there were no windows in that area, in order for them to be outside, they would have to be...
Climbing the sheer wall.
"The Dead Drop is a basic training exercise Prefect Granger." Harry had said that night when he had suddenly plummeted into the midst of the Outsiders. "I've been doing it since I was nine."
Could he climb a sheer wall? The map suggested that he could, evidently while carrying Draco Malfoy. The two names bobbed together for a few moments before Malfoy's suddenly shifted from the level they shared, before skittering quickly to the center of the tower... above the highest floor? Had Harry thrown the Slytherin onto the tower's roof? After a short pause, Harry's name was plummeting downward, not in an uncontrolled fall, but in an intentional dive, arriving in the court yard under the West Tower and smoothly moving away.
He had thrown Malfoy up on to the roof. How had he done that? It just wasn't possible.
Hermione sighed. It's time, she told herself, time to acknowledge that sometimes Harry Potter just does the bloody impossible and be done with it.
Someone should go and get Draco Malfoy off the roof of the West Tower. Hermione methodically folded the map and touched her wand to it. "Mischief Managed."
Someone else. After all, that was a prefect's job.
"Damn it Albus," McGonagall swore slamming her fist down on the Headmaster's desktop. "It's spread. Every one of my Prefects has resigned in the last half hour."
"And all but two of mine," Filius Flitwick added. "Ms Cho has chosen to remain at her post as Head Girl out of a sense of duty, but she is quite frankly torn on that point. It is an open secret that someone declared an open season on the Muggleborn in the castle tonight, and that Mr. Potter was also a target."
"All of my Prefects have resigned as well," Pomona Sprout said quietly from where she was sitting, sipping at a cup of tea.
"I have nineteen injured students spending the night in the ward," Poppy Pomfrey noted. "Nine injured Muggleborn are in my beds tonight, as well as ten half or purebloods, all of whom where injured defending a Muggleborn friend, the worst injury being Millicent Bulstrode's broken jaw."
"Only one of the Slytherin Prefects has resigned, mostly out of her personal friendship with Ms. Bulstrode," Aurora Sinestra reported. "Though there is a bit of discontent within the house for how this situation has been handled. Even among the Purist faction among my students, there is a feeling that those who have assaulted other students have been dealt with rather gently."
"Even among the Purists?" Minerva asked incredulously.
"Just because you are protective of your privileged position in society doesn't mean that the bulk of the Purists want any harm to befall the half bloods and Muggleborn," Aurora responded in a tone that suggested she was explaining something self evident. "The lower classes are necessary after all. No prospective head of a great house wants to be a shop keeper, but they all like to shop. It is only the idiot fanatics who want to kill people. The majority of the Purist families would happily employ and promote a talented Muggleborn like Mr. Finch-Fletchley or Mr. Creevy if doing so improved the family's bottom line."
"So, you can see my plans are working," Dumbledore intoned from behind his desk. "The houses are starting to unite."
"Uniting against your bloody incomprehensible methods of discipline." Minerva noted.
"Expelling these children would lose them to the light forever," Albus said in way of explanation. "And what message would that send?"
"That actions have consequences perhaps?" Flitwick asked. "There will be an in house investigation Albus, and I can assure you that any Ravenclaw who participated in the assault on fellow students will not be enjoying life for the foreseeable future."
"Hufflepuff will be doing so as well, and in the mean time," Pomona added, "you have alienated at least four heirs to seats on the Board of Governors, and your inactions have directly cost us a young woman who was in my opinion our very best candidate for Head Girl next year, and very likely cost Magical Britain her input as well. How many more of our best and brightest can we afford to ship to North America or Australia?"
"I believe you are all worrying too much," Albus said dismissively, unaware of how much he was infuriating his staff. "Tomorrow, I would like you to evaluate your students. If you still believe that your current prefects are the best for the position, then I expect you to speak with them individually and convince them to continue on in the position. If they are not the best choices, or they are not willing, replace them."
Millicent lay in the bed with her eyes closed. The school nurse had pronounce the damage done to her jaw to be 'horrific' and decided that the only cure was to vanish the damaged bone and regrow replacements. Skelgrow was horrible stuff.
One of the first lessons she had learned as a Slytherin was to never show weakness. Millicent was very glad that there was no one else in the darkened Hospital ward awake enough to see her tears. Madam Pomfrey had told her that the Skelgrow would do its trick in 'only' seven hours. Two down, five to go.
"Hey babe, I just heard you were here."
Millicent opened her eyes to find Harry Potter standing over her bed. "arri?"
"Shh," he said taking her hand in his.
She was instantly aware that he was stronger than she was, an unusual realization for her. She was at least twice his mass, but he...
"You'll just hurt yourself some more if you try to talk," Harry pointed out. "I'm going to have to find out what dead man hurt you and explain to him the error of his ways."
"Noh!" she forced out. "Mine!"
A small grin formed on his face. "Alright, he's yours. You're hurting aren't you?" Harry asked as he gently brushed her tears from her cheek."
"Yeh," talking without moving her jaw was hard. Any movement on top of the Skelgrow was agony.
"There isn't a whole lot I can do about pain in your face... The pressure points are limited, but I can put you to sleep for ten hours or so," Harry gently brushed her hair from her eyes.
Millicent tried to force all the gratitude she felt for that offer into her eyes. "Peese?"
"I'll see you when you wake up," Harry said with a gentle smile as he released her hand and reached for her neck.
An easy oblivion enveloped Millicent as she slid into a sound dreamless sleep.
Harry ghosted from the Hospital Wing more than a little annoyed that Millie wouldn't let him teach a lesson to whatever mouth breathing moron that had hurt her. Still he could appreciate her desire to mete out her own retribution to anyone who would strike her from the dark, but still...
Could she be taught to see? Remo had shown that age wasn't a real barrier... not really, but could he do that to Millie? Could a woman learn the secrets of Sinanju? Would Chiun approve? Could Millie dedicate herself to the village? To him?
Stop it, he told himself as he approached the portrait that guarded the entrance to the Gryffindor tower. Stop thinking of the long term. You've got years before your training is even near complete. Years before you can even think about a wife.
Harry sighed as he cast the charm that would hide him from the sentient paint work If only Millie wasn't so... beautiful. Drawing his wand, he set to work.
The distraction at the doorway to the Slytherin dorms had worked perfectly. The charm to vanish the girl's underpants to the Headmaster's office had been one of his better ideas. It allowed him entrance to one of the more secure portions of the castle almost at will. That charm was dormant now, having resisted Flitwick's attempts at unravelling it until the Charms Master had poured enough energy into it to cause the conditional wards to charge. Now the distraction was asleep until one of the triggering conditions was met, then it would return in full force.
But this one would be a masterpiece. The Gryffs were as annoying in their own way as the Slytherins ever thought about being. This little distraction would go a long way toward bringing a bit of humility to the house of Lions. This one had been done to the door to his own room at the Kumsilu School when he was seven. It had taken him most of five minutes to defeat it, but that was done through a judicious application of the skills of Sinanju rather than any magic. After he learned the trick Harry had felt rather stupid for the way he had gone through the wall rather than defeating the magic being used against him.
Still, each of the jokers in question were treated to a large mass of ice water materializing over their beds that night when 'rule one' was reinforced to the student body of the Kumsilu School. 'Rule one' was rather simple after all, one does not annoy an apprentice of Sinanju unless one is a Master of Sinanju.
Harry layered on the last of the charms that would make up his distraction. Like the Slytherin access this one would hit with full force immediately, and would, after the application of enough magic attempting to crack it, go dormant, waiting for the next time the proper conditions were in place to activate again.
He smiled in the darkness of the hallway. Also like the Slytherin distraction, no one could ever completely remove it unless they found someone capable of Serpent speech. Stepping back to observe his work Harry reflected that this was why if you were going to hire an assassin you should really keep him busy. All this waiting around for the target to magically appear had given him time to think up ways to amuse himself. Two down, one to go.
Some one was coming...
Aurora Sinestra had been fifteen years old in 1981 when Harry Potter defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and she had been surprised by the sense of relief she felt that November morning when she discovered that she actually did have a future after all.
It had been a very sullen Slytherin common room that day, as the assembled house expressed regret at the passing of the Dark Lord with differing levels of sincerity. Aurora hid her relief with the best of them, and that night atop the Astronomy Tower mouthed a little prayer for the young boy who had somehow lived when the Dark Lord had not.
She then put Harry Potter and Dark Lords completely out of her mind and concentrated on her studies. A mere nine years later and she was back at Hogswarts with her brand new Mastery in Astronomy and a contract to teach. And so, her life settled into a comfortable pattern. For ten months out of the year the young woman lived an almost chaste existence, allowing herself to slip into hedonism during her two months of down time each summer.
Of course the first thing she noticed upon her return was the almost total lack of discipline in the hallways of the school. Minerva McGonagall (and what a shock it was to call her Minerva) explained that the Headmaster was allowing Severus Snape his head with the Slytherins because Dumbledore feared losing them to the darkness.
To Aurora it seemed that Dumbledore spent all his time away from the school. Looking for someone it seemed. Looking for Harry Potter perhaps?
Now that Potter boy suddenly appeared at Hogwarts, seemingly trailing chaos were ever he went. Students were tortured in Hogsmeade, and Death Eaters were killed... by Harry Potter. She had been in Hogsmeade when the Death Eaters and Trolls and Giants had attacked a second time, watching in opened mouth amazement when the boy had danced among the Death Eaters and Trolls leaving bodies in his wake. She had even heard insane rumors of the boy fighting giants.
Fighting giants? Preposterous.
It was with the unexplained death of Severus Snape in that incident and her elevation to Head of Slytherin house that cause her to start paying more attention to what was being said in the Staff room about the Potter boy. Minerva was constantly complaining about Potter not really being a student, while Pomona and repeatedly made it clear she was glad the boy wasn't subject to the House Points system.
Aurora herself had decided to emulate Filius Flitwick and not discuss the boy in any way, her reasoning being that she didn't see any profit in revealing just how little she knew about the mysterious teen.
The previous evening's black out had the castle on edge. Her position as the Astronomy professor made her a natural for the 2am tour of the castle, and this morning she had found more students out of bounds than any months worth of rounds normally produced. This year couldn't possibly be over too soon.
She turned the corner onto the long hallway that ran the length of the castle one floor below the entrance to the Gryffindor dormitories, her footsteps echoing in the near silence. That was when she discovered someone walking alongside her.
"Good morning Professor," Harry Potter said.
His footsteps were completely silent, where had he come from? "What are you doing out of bounds Mr. Potter?"
"Just looking to expand my horizons Professor," the boy said casually. She had never been this close to him before... how was it he was so... "There are certain exercises that I perform each night while the castle sleeps."
Aurora used all of her Slytherin training to maintain her expression. What was he doing to her? If she wasn't certain that she hadn't eaten or drank anything since dinner she would have sworn that she had been exposed to a lust potion. "You should return to your dorm Mr. Potter." Why did she so want to run her fingers through his hair?
"I was hoping that you might be willing to help me with a bit of personal research Professor," Potter said conversationally. "It appears to be a fairly simple procedure, but I keep getting bogged down somewhere less than half way through the steps."
Aurora was busy chastising herself for having these thoughts about a student and couldn't stop herself from asking, "what would you need me to do?"
"Oh," Potter said as he took her hand and started tapping his index finger against her wrist, "not much really, just monitor my progress and give me feedback on my technique..."
Aurora pushed the young man against the wall and molded herself to his body, covering his mouth with her own. She knew she would regret her actions in the morning, but just now she couldn't bring herself to care.
Dean Thomas grabbed his book bag and followed Seamus through the door way from the Gryffindor common room to the hallway beyond... and ran right into Seamus' back when the Irishman stopped dead in his tracks, entering the common room.
"What the hell?" Seamus asked.
"What just happened?" Dean responded.
"I dunno," Seamus looked around in a confused manner. "Weird."
"In or out," Katie Bell said as she shouldered past the pair. "You're blocking traffic." The seventh year exited the common room through the doorway, only to find herself reentering.
"What did you two do the the doorway?" she asked.
"Nothing," Dean protested, "we tried to leave just like you did and ended up coming back through the door."
Katie turned back to the doorway and examined it closely. She extended her left and through the portal with no indication that anything was wrong, and then stepped through the door again.
And was suddenly entering common room again.
Minerva McGonagall raised an eyebrow at the scene unfolding before her. A panic stricken and quite bedraggled Draco Malfoy was standing before the Staff table explaining to a very relaxed Aurora Sinestra that he was withdrawing from Hogwarts.
Aurora didn't really seem to care all that much that one of her students was withdrawing, nor had she been overly concerned when Rolanda Hooch had brought young Malfoy into the Great Hall reporting that she had found the young fool sitting atop the West Tower crying his eyes out. Malfoy had no explanation for how he came to be on the roof of the West tower, only that he wished to withdraw from school that very day.
As the Malfoy boy all but ran from the Great Hall, screaming for all to hear that he was packing his things and would be leaving forthwith, Aurora stretched languidly and sighed as if she were content with the entire world..
"Isn't it a wonderful morning?" she asked.
Minerva bit her tongue while wondering what had gotten into her normally staid younger colleague. Still she had her own problems. This morning she needed to convince her former prefects that they should take up their badges again, even though she whole-heartedly agreed with their reasoning for resigning.
That was when she noticed that the Gryffindor table was empty. The entire table.
She had never once witnessed a breakfast service that the entire house had avoided before.
What was going on? Was this another protest against the lack of punishment Albus had handed out the previous night?
Hermione Granger sat primly in front of her Head of House's desk, politely waiting for the offer that she knew that she was going to decline.
A very bad night had led to a chaotic morning when she found that she and the rest of the Gryffindors were trapped in their dormitory. Hermione had spent most of half an hour attempting to defeat what ever trap that was set upon the door way before Professor McGonagall had entered looking to find out what had happened to her entire house.
Then of course, the Transfiguration Mistress found herself to be as trapped as her students. For the next four hours, McGonagall, the bulk of the 7th years and a few of the 6th years worked to free themselves and their housemates from the tower, to no avail. Finally as a group, they collapsed in the common room with several stomachs loudly protesting having missed both breakfast and lunch.
"You lot are useless," a very young voice piped up from along the wall. "You're thinking too much."
Hermione had raised her weary head to look for the speaker and found a dark haired first year standing glaring at her elders with her fists on her hips. What was the girls name?
"Miss Wright, there is no need to panic, we will solve the puzzle." Professor McGonagall said in a tired voice.
"That's where you're making your mistake," the girl protested. "This isn't a puzzle, it's a riddle."
Hermione blinked. She remembered the girl now, Marigold Wright, a Muggleborn witch with a penchant for bad puns and joke books... Surely the girl hadn't...
"What do you mean, 'it's a riddle'?" Professor McGonagall had asked.
"If someone was looking to seal us in, they would have blocked off the door somehow, moved a wall or just bricked us off, but they didn't. That makes this a riddle." She crossed to the doorway and turned to face the common room. "There's an old Muggle riddle that goes, 'What is the easiest way to leave somewhere without anyone noticing?'"
Her question was met with silence, so the first year continued. "Make it look like you're coming in when you're going out." She backed into the doorway, and kept going.
From out in the hallway her voice came through the open portal. "I am so glad that worked, I was worried that I was going to look like an idiot. You just have to back out."
It was now half an hour before dinner and Hermione had been called to McGonagall's office to be asked to take on the responsibilities of the 6th year prefect again.
"Miss Granger," McGonagall began, "I would like to thank you again for your calming influence this morning during the unpleasantness in the common room."
"Thank you Professor. Has anyone determined who is responsible?"
"No, though we are still looking into it. It's possible that this is an act of revenge for a similar prank on the Slytherin dorms."
That struck Hermione as unlikely. If the Slytherins had anyone capable of such things surely someone would have noticed by now. The only examples she could think of were those two rivals of the Twins, and they had left school the previous year. "So you wanted to speak with me Professor?"
"Yes Miss Granger," McGonagall reached across her desk and placed a familiar badge before the bushy haired girl. "I would like you to agree to take up your office again."
"I cannot do that Professor."
"And I understand your reasoning Miss Granger," McGonagall said quietly, "truly I do. But the fact remains that there are no better candidates for the position. Your housemates need you to do this."
"Professor, the Headmaster's policies have made the position a joke. Seven prefects were attacked during the black out. Seven prefects specifically targets, three of them hurt badly enough to warrant overnight stays in the Hospital Wing, and those who were caught making the attacks were given detentions. As Neville told the Headmaster when we surrendered our badges, he needs new prefects." The brunette met the gaze of the older woman with her eyes blazing. "I am not a target, and I will not be a target. The problem with discipline at this school has been getting progressively worse every year I've been here. At one point I thought that I could make a difference, but the Headmaster has quite graphically demonstrated how he views my worth to this school with his response to how we were attacked. I am done Professor."
"Miss Granger... Hermione," McGonagall sighed, "nothing you are saying surprises me in the slightest, and I quite agree with you on most of it. As much as I hope that Headmaster Dumbledore knows what he is doing, quite often I find myself wondering if I'm not fooling myself. Albus Dumbledore is a great man, but even great men have blind spots, and in inability to see anyone in less than the best light is one of Albus'. More times than I can count I have found myself wondering why I stay here at Hogwarts."
"And why do you?" Hermione asked forgetting for the moment that she was going to refuse to engage in any discussion.
"During the war, the war with Grindelwald, my husband was killed in a random act of terror. We had been married less than a year, and the man I had loved since I was eleven was suddenly gone... Tea?" McGonagall asked producing a tea service from seemingly nowhere.
"I was something of a prodigy in transfiguration, as you might guess," the older woman said pouring two cups of dark steaming liquid. "Sugar?"
"Just a splash of milk please," Hermione answered.
"Rather than go into mourning like a proper young witch who had lost her husband, I joined the Valkyrie Squadron. The Valkyries were..."
"An aerial unit composed entirely of young witches," Hermione supplied, "they were instrumental in supporting the RAF in the Battle of Britain and throughout the war. After the war the survivors formed the core of the first Hollyhead Harpies team."
Minerva smiled not at all surprised that the young woman knew the history and aftermath of her war, "Yes, I was offered a position as lead chaser, but instead I came here."
"In 1944, my flight was assigned to provide air cover for the British Magical Expeditionary Force. Specifically we were under the command of Albus Dumbledore. I knew Albus of course from my time at Hogwarts, but I had a rather hard time reconciling the rather scattered professor I knew from school with the focused clean shaven commander in the field I found in France."
"Clean shaven?" Hermione asked incredulously. "Seriously?"
"Quite," Minerva confirmed. "We spent most of 18 months with the BMEF. Missions every day and most nights, the fighting was horrific. By the time we started the final assault on Grindelwald's fortress, most of our brooms were destroyed and more than half of Dumbledore's men were either dead or too injured to continue, so my girls and I picked up our wands and joined in on the attack."
McGonagall got a far away look as she fell into her memories. "The room to room in a huge castle, at least three times the size of Hogwarts. In a firefight I had ended up separated from the others, but I knew my duty and I was clearing and sealing each room I came to, until I found a huge ornate door that bore the mark of Grindelwald. The plan was clear, if any of us found the bastard, we were to wait for the others before we tried to take him on, but I hadn't seen anyone on our team for most of half an hour, so I opened the door."
"You took on Grindelwald?" Hermione gasped.
"No, I opened the door and found the mountain troll that guarded the entrance to Grindelwald's inner sanctum. The creature crushed my legs with a single swipe of his club. The pain was worse than anything I'd ever experienced. But I laid there watching as the troll raised his club again and I knew I would be joining my Murdo Alec. Then as I watched the Troll stiffen and make a little shriek, the creature stood there for a moment before it started to collapse on top of me, and I found my self summoned across the room into the arms of Albus Dumbledore."
"So Professor Dumbledore saved you from the troll that attacked you..."
"And I saved you from the troll that attacked you back in your first year," Minerva smiled. "I suppose I enjoyed the similarity of the situations. Albus applied a battlefield nerve block on me to relieve the pain, and told me that he would return momentarily. He then stood up and entered Grindelwald's last refuge, looking for all the world like one of the heroes of old." An odd look appeared on the older woman's face. "It was odd though, I could have sworn I saw a small man in a gold brocade robe float through the door just before Albus entered, but I was in a lot of pain and must have been imagining things."
"I woke up in a magical field hospital, with new legs growing and my spine being held in place by some of the most interesting and painful spells. Albus arrived to tell me that the war was over, and that out of some misplaced gratitude he had been named to the post of Hogwarts Headmaster. That would mean that he needed a Transfiguration Professor. Albus had quite literally saved my life, how could I have said no?"
"So, you came to Hogwarts because Professor Dumbledore saved you from a troll, and you want me to take up being a prefect again because you saved me from a troll? Really Professor? Stooping to emotional blackmail?"
"I don't know Miss Granger," Minerva said, her smile growing larger. "Is it working?"
Neville looked up from his dinner when Hermione arrived at the Gryffindor table.
"I don't see a badge, so she didn't manage to talk you into taking it back?"
"No, she didn't," Hermione said, reaching out to fill her plate, "though not through lack of trying. She told me a story about how she's here because the Headmaster saved her from a troll during the war with Grindelwald and tried to guilt me into taking the badge back because she saved me."
"Good girl," Neville laughed. "I was afraid that she'd use your natural inclination to do the right thing and your admiration for her against you."
"Oh, she tried. There was a time when being a prefect was almost the most important thing in my life, and I've been proud of sharing that responsibility with you Nev. I've dreamed of being Head Girl since the first day of first year. But this year the cost has become too high."
"Well," Lavender interjected from her place beside Neville, "she can forget about asking me, and Parvati isn't interested either."
"And I'm not taking Nev's place either," Dean said from where he sat two places beyond Lavender, "I doubt Seamus would be interested, and Ron's grades pretty much exclude him. I'm guessing we're going to be the year without prefects."
"Darn," Neville said sarcastically, "all of us getting a full nights sleep every night, how will the school survive?"
"Over the years I have found that when it counts the prefects get no support from the staff," Hermione pointed out. "Whether it be all the times that Snape made a mockery of the house points system, the way the Slytherins have been forgiven and allowed any number of excesses, any of the times that any of the prefects were hexed in the back while on our nightly rounds or the outright premeditated attack on so many of us last night. I've had enough. I don't know who they're going to get to replace us, but none of that is my problem any longer."
Neville nodded and checked his watch. "Well, it's time for me to report to McGonagall's office to tell her I'm not interested in wearing her badge any more either." The large man smiled. "I got a letter from Gran, it seems that McGonagall has already reported our defiance to her. Poor Gran, she doesn't know whether to be disappointed in me for my refusal to be the Headmaster's puppet, or proud of me for precisely the same reason."
"Well, I have managed to replace the Ravenclaw prefects that resigned," Flitwick reported hesitantly, "though it wasn't easy."
Dumbledore nodded, "and you Aurora?"
"Hmm?" the very distracted Head of Slytherin house asked.
"Albus was asking if you've replaced your prefect that resigned," Sprout supplied.
"Oh, yes, Miss Davis took back her badge once Miss Bulstrode was out of the Hospital Wing, swearing revenge on those who hurt her friend." Aurora said airily. "It was sad that anyone could be so upset on such a wonderful day..."
The three other heads of house regarded their new colleague with concern, while the Headmaster carried on as if he hadn't noticed anything. "Pomona?"
"None of my former prefects would even entertain the idea of returning to their duties. Once that became clear I began interviewing replacements. Unfortunately, my badgers acted true to form and in an act of solidarity with my former prefects no one was willing to take on the position."
"And the Gryffindor prefects also refuse to take their badges back, and no one in the house is willing to take on the responsibility, not out of any loyalty," Minerva said, "but because, as Miss Patil so eloquently put it 'wearing a Gryffindor prefect badge makes you a target, and one that gets no respect or support from the staff.'"
"Surely she doesn't really believe that," Albus said in a shocked tone.
"Albus, students were attacked with deadly force and you responded by assigning those who did the attacking to detentions," Filius pointed out. "Of course they believe that the prefects aren't respected or supported by the staff, because its true. In your quest to protect the worst of our students from their own actions, you don't respect the students who are doing their best to follow and enforce the rules and sadly, the rest of us follow your lead."
"So for the first time in living memory, we have no Hufflepuff or Gryffindor prefects," Minerva sighed in defeat. "Obviously the patrols of the castle that they were doing still need to be done. I will be scheduling the staff to cover the deficit. I'm sorry, but there is no other way."
"I will of course support you all in anyway I can," Albus said, his eyes twinkling madly.
"Too right you will," Minerva huffed. "Because you've got the 2am to 4 am shift tonight."
Voldemort glowered at the former Unspeakable who knelt before him while knocking back the potion to keep his host subdued. This new potion as still effective, but the damned Veela was starting to burn through it. He wasn't sure how much longer it would last..
"Is everything ready Rookwood?"
"Yes my Lord, a full horde from the Legion of Dasyus stands by for your order." Rookwood responded studiously keeping his eyes averted from the reborn Dark Lord.
"And this will work?"
"I believe so Master. The boy should have no defense against the horde, and they will do him no physical harm. You have said, you only need his body."
Voldemort considered this for a moment before deciding. "The order is given Rookwood. If this is successful you will be honored beyond all of my followers. If your plan fails, you would be well advised to feed yourself to the horde."
The first thought that went through the mind of Elizabeth the Second, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Queen, and Defender of the Faith, when she opened her eyes to find a man standing at the foot of her bed, was Oh God, not again.
But only for a moment, because her memory brought to mind the name of this man, someone she never thought she would see again since her father had insisted that she meet him back during the dark final days of the Second World War. No, this small Asian man was no Michael Fagen who had somehow penetrated her security back in 1981, no this was possibly the most dangerous man in the world, who she doubted the very best of security would have slowed down in any way at all.
"Good morning Great Empress," the tiny man said bowing at the hip. "Your Empire is under threat, and the House of Sinanju is here to offer our services once again as we did for your father before you."
Elizabeth gathered her wits about her. A threat to the Empire? She stopped herself from smiling, she hadn't thought of her domain as an Empire for some time. "And good morning to you Master Nuihc. We are unaware of any overt threat to our domain. What is this threat of which you speak?"
"I am now known as Chiun, oh great Empress of the English speaking world. The threat, much like the one when your father reigned, comes from your magical subjects."
Elizabeth's eyebrows rose toward her hairline. "We had a meeting with the Queen's Wizard just last week Master... Chiun, we were assured by Minister Fudge that all was well within our magical realm."
The ancient man seemed to consider his words carefully. "The history of the House of Sinanju is replete with tales of mighty Emperors lead astray by their advisers. In 1944 I was contacted by the wizard Albus Dumbledore to deal with the wizard Grindelwald. The House of Sinanju does not work for just anyone with money, we are the assassins of Empires. That is why I approached your father. The House of Sinanju had delivered services for the throne of Britain in the past, and your father recognized the dangers offered by the wizard Grindelwald and commissioned the assassination of that Dark Wizard, with you present to learn how the great houses of the world sometimes must do things. The deed was done and Albus Dumbledore became known as the man who killed Grindelwald," the assassin shrugged. "The House of Sinanju has never done much business with the Wand Wizards of Britain, the loss of advertising that came from the school teacher claiming my kill was of no consequence. The Emperor of the Britain knew the truth."
Chiun paused for a moment to allow Elizabeth to digest what she was being told.
"We had long wondered how it was that Albus Dumbledore managed to defeat the Dark Wizard in the face of your commission. Now that we know, our next meeting will require an explanation."
"The Wizard Dumbledore has much to explain to his Great and Powerful Empress. In 1981 he contacted me again, this time to deal with another Dark Wizard, one called 'Voldemort'. I arrived in Britain intending to contact you for your royal commission as I did with your father, when Voldemort was defeated by a child. Defeated, but not destroyed. Since the wizard Dumbledore decided to cancel the contract there was no reason to disturb a great Empress with such trivia, so I collected my deposit and moved on to my next commission. Last August he approached me again when the Wizard Voldemort had once again become too much for your Ministry of Magic to handle. By this time I had become tired of dealing with the school teacher and wasn't interested in his offer, however he became interested in my apprentice, so the job became a training exercise."
"Are we to understand that your apprentice is operating among our magical citizens?"
"Yes Empress, in as much as this was not an assassination by myself, I saw it as little more than the wizard Dumbledore hiring the services of my apprentice for a few weeks. My apprentice is also my adopted son, and he has the talent of magic so he can blend in at the wizard Dumbledore's school. Unfortunately, due to restrictions on my son's movements required by the school teacher, his assignment has dragged on for months, which is unacceptable. This is why I am within your most honored presence to ask if you might be willing to offer a royal commission on the head of the dark wizard Voldemort before he has his way with anymore of your citizens."
"Because our Royal commission would remove the restrictions levied by Albus Dumbledore?" Elizabeth asked.
"Exactly," Chiun confirmed. "This is why I prefer dealing with the Great Powers of the world. Your understanding is almost instinctual."
"This 'Voldemort' is killing our citizens?"
"He is," Chiun nodded.
"Then you have our commission Master Chiun. We must protect our citizens."
"It goes without saying oh Honored Empress, that the protection of innocents is always the first desire fo the House of Sinanju," the ancient assassin allowed himself a brief smile. "Of course our special rate for repeat customers will apply."
Bored, bored, bored. Harry thought as he made his way along the edge of the Forbidden Forest leaving no tracks in the snow. The Centaurs didn't want to play, the acromantulas were deeper in the forest than Harry really wanted to go, no werewolves, no Death Eaters, even Malfoy was gone.
He never really thought he's miss Malfoy, but he did. How sad was that?
Tonksie was off somewhere working, Susan was studying with her friend Hannah, Aurora Sinestra seemed to have become somewhat... addicted to the 37 steps. They had hooked up two nights in a row, the first time Harry had managed step 19 twice, but the second night only steps 16 and 14 which frustrated him to no end. Then she started seeking him out during the day. Pansy was still in love with him, and Millie, well, Millie had gotten upset with him when she found out about the Astronomy Professor, no matter how many time Harry explained that he was simply performing an exercise, she still got angry.
There was no understanding women.
A scream rang out. Harry's attention immediately focused on where the scream had originated from. Two more screams came from the same area. The point of origin was around the greenhouses, but that area was occluded by an odd fog.
The weather didn't seem right for fog, but he put that out of his mind and started toward the screams.
Entering the fog bank was... odd, it was almost an ice fog, he notices as the first few ice crystals melted in contact with his skin. He moved silently deeper into the mist and was shocked to find that his breath was fogging, as if it were adding to the fog. He was cold.
He had never been cold for as long as he could remember. Cold and... apprehensive?
He knew his breathing had increased to an unhealthy rate, as had his heart rate. He concentrated and consciously slowed his metabolism down. What was going on?
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off!"
Harry spun in place searching out the source of the screaming man. His breathing an heart rate both spiked again, and he started to shiver in the cold. What was happening to him?
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" a woman's voice was all around him. Harry's senses searched for the speaker. Who were these people, and why were they calling his name?
"Stand aside, you silly girl... stand aside, now." A man's voice? Who was that?
"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead --"
"This is my last warning --"
"Not Harry! Please ... have mercy ... have mercy ... Not Harry! Not Harry! Please -- I'll do anything ..."
"Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!"
Where were these people? Who were they?
"Your posture is abominable," Chiun's voice rang out. "Mind your breathing, if you cannot control something as simple as your breathing, you will never amount to anything!"
"Father?" Harry called, shocked at the disgust in his father's voice.
"Keep your elbow in line. You are spoiling the elegance of the stroke!"
"Father? Where are you?" Harry spun in place looking in vain for his master.
"You don't really believe the Master thinks of you as his son do you?" Harry recognized Ho-Sook's voice from his childhood in Sinanju. "You are just a hobby round eye, soon he will tire of you and send you back to where he found you!"
"No," Harry whispered shaking his head, tears streaming, and freezing on his cheeks. "No, my father loves me, he has trained me. I've had my night of the salt, I am Sinanju."
"You're a foreigner round eye." the little girl's voice rang out. "You aren't Sinanju, you aren't even Korean, you're nothing. No, worse, you're just a freak the Master is playing with until you start to bore him."
Harry sank to his knees, his heart racing and his breathing completely out of control. His shivering was costing him the control of his body. He fell forward, face first into the snow and lay there fighting to breathe.
He felt a hand grab onto his hair and pull his face from the snow, pulling his head back, and there was... something in front of his face, but all Harry could see was the disapproving faces of the people of Sinanju.