He who thinks he controls the past cannot control the future. He who thinks he controls the present cannot control the past.
Ms. Bagshot's answer came a week after classes had resumed. Since a
nasty hex had singed Hermione's hair at breakfast a couple of weeks
after the Slytherin game, Professors Sinistra and Trelawney had taken
to inspecting each of the many owls House Harem received at
breakfast. At least two other hexed letters had been referred to
Dumbledore. If any action had been taken toward their authors, the
Professors were unaware of it.
Bathilda's letter started as follows:
"Thank you for the response. Too many young people nowadays don't
bother to send thank-you letters when they receive gifts.
"I'm glad that you found my stories with the Sultan so interesting.
For obvious reasons, I cannot share them with everyone, and I know
that there will come a day when I cannot tell them any longer.
"I'd like to think I was a friend of James and Lily, and that they
were friends of mine. I visited your house for your first birthday."-
Harry teared up a bit when he reached this part.
"Your parents held a birthday tea, and because they were on the run,
they could only send a few invitations. I was the only person who
could accept and attend. You were such a cute baby, playing with
your little toy broom and listening to me tell the tale of Babbitty
"Your parents were fleeing from the Dark Lord Voldemort. They had
defied him several times in the previous few years, since they had
graduated from Hogwarts three years before you were born, but
ultimately they had to find somewhere to hide so that they could
raise you. They'd been in love since I first met them, and they
still were the last time I saw them, late in October of 1981. They
were killed by him on Halloween night that year."
Hermione had been reading over Harry's shoulder. When she reached
this part of the letter, she put her hand on Harry's arm to comfort
him, and several other girls quickly left their seats to follow suit.
"I would like to talk to you about them, if that can be arranged.
Unfortunately, I am a little too old and my joints too creaky to make
use of the fire. Please let me know that you have received this
letter, and ask me any questions that you have. I'd be honored to
answer them as best I can.
House Harem was notably quiet during their classes that day. During
the evening, Harry and the girls talked together to try to list the
questions that they wanted to ask Bathilda.
What would you ask about your parents, if you had the chance and knew
nothing else about them? Everything and anything. When Harry had
heard Millicent talk about how Shobbington Bulstrode-to-be chased
bulls all over the countryside trying to saddle them, he wondered if
his parents rode horses. When Hermione told him how her parents
taught her to count, Harry wondered if he'd had the chance to learn
his numbers before James and Lily had died. When Mandy Brocklehurst
talked about how she'd "helped" her mother cook, Harry wondered how
good a cook Lily was. (He'd never seen Vernon try to cook, and thus
assumed that cooking was Lily's job.)
The list of questions that they compiled ran ten pages long. On
advice from Professor Trelawney, they managed to shorten it to just a
page or so.
Just by chance, as they were attaching the list to a school owl's
leg, an incoming fire-call came from Xeno Lovegood.
Xeno had been wondering if they had heard about the Rotfang Party
that threatened to overtake the Ministry in the elections that
spring. Upon hearing the negative answer, he listened to the news
from the House and was surprised to hear about the letter from
"She's gotten a bit older, as we all have, and hasn't given an
interview in, oh, years and years. Would you like me to talk to
her? I could make it a special feature for the February issue of the
Quibbler. People would like to hear from her again. She was quite
the famous historian once; there's a reason you all use her books."
Upon consultation from the professors, they decided which of the
questions could be answered publicly, and which ones were to be kept
private. Xeno gave his word that he would honor their wishes, and
then disconnected from the fire.
"Just say the words, dear."
"But you haven't started them yet."
"I know, but you're not a real newspaperwoman until you say the
words. Your mother said them when she had important stories, before
she went into the Unspeakables. It would mean so much to me."
Luna stared into her father's eyes, and she knew what she had to do.
She took a deep breath.
"STOP THE PRESSES!"
"There you go, dear! Now I can start writing this story."
In the meantime, the cycle of practices and classes resumed. The
weather was cold and frequently snowy, cutting some of the sessions
short. Still, Sinistra was sure that this time, they wouldn't need
luck to beat Ravenclaw and have the inside track to the Quidditch
Cup. OK, not quite as much luck.
On the first of February, the new issue of the Quibbler came out,
complete with the interview with Bagshot.
Bagshot had no more idea what to think of Xeno's more... outlandish
ideas than anyone else. However, her mind was still sharp and her
memories still clear. She had been a good friend of the Dumbledore
family long ago, and while she didn't speak at length about
the "terrible shame about what hapened to Albus' and Aberforth's
mother, and the falling-out with Grindelwald," she had said enough to
get people talking.
That certainly applied with House Harem. Grindelwald had been a
great Dark Wizard in his day, and the subject of a couple of lectures
in History of Magic. Piecing together what they'd managed to stay
awake to hear, Grindelwald had been active starting around the turn
of the century, and had started to rule parts of the European
continent in about 1933. Dumbledore had dueled and defeated him
twelve years later. How could someone so evil have been friends with
someone so good?
The part of her story about the Potters was brief but moving, as she
discussed how the Potters had defied the current Dark Lord. Bathilda
talked about her meetings with the Potters, and how she knew that an
artifact of some kind had been in their house. It sounded important
and valuable, but she wouldn't tell exactly what it was. Harry hoped
that her private letter would be more revealing.
A few days later, Snape didn't arrive for a Potions class, which was
canceled. Certainly good news in and of itself, but why had he done
Here, House Harem showed one of its strengths; its member were
always underfoot as kids were expected to be, and without a real
established rivalry with the other houses, they could hang around in
places where no Gryffindor, say, would be permitted. And thus, it
was Lisa Turpin who overheard Snape (with a bloody and bandaged leg)
snarling at Quirrell in a deserted corridor, asking him where his
true loyalties lay. Having their two least favorite teachers arguing
with each other sounded fun, but left them to wonder which one of
them was doing something nasty. "Or maybe both of them," thought
Bathilda's private response came a few days later. The artifact that
she had mentioned in the Quibbler article was apparently a special
cloak of invisibility. They had heard about such cloaks, made with
Demiguise skin, in Grubbly-Plank's Care of Magical Creatures
classes. However, most such cloaks wore out after a year or two.
This one was apparently unique, and hadn't worn out in many years.
Bathilda also said that she didn't know if James and Lily had ridden
horses, that Lily was in fact a very good cook (and James a decent
one, in a pinch), and that he could at least count to ten the last
time she had seen him. Harry started to choke up again.
The special cloak was apparently with Dumbledore, "but you have title
to it, since it belonged to your parents. Bring this letter with you
when you ask about it, and I will help you claim it if necessary."
The following day, Harry decided it was time to visit Dumbledore to
ask for the cloak. The rest of House Harem, including the
Professors, decided to join him and supply him with moral support.
Harry asked what they wanted him to do in return. Trelawney
answered, "That's unnecessary, Harry," and Sinistra stated that "I
told you that I would defend this House. The time is now."
The next day, the delegation informed McGonagall, Dumbledore's deputy
headmistress, that they wanted to see him immediately concerning the
Quibbler article. Minerva couldn't very well deny two of her fellow
professors... especially since she was wondering about a few things
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin, Supreme
Mugwump, etc., etc., was feeling slightly perturbed. His plans with
regard to Harry had been fairly straightforward; ensure that Harry
saw him as the main authority figure in the magical world and
understand how authority figures were to be treated, gain his trust,
and start turning Harry into a weapon he could use against the Dark
Lord- and against the Ministry should it attempt to interfere with
him while he was defeating Voldemort. He knew that Voldemort had to
be defeated, and that he didn't trust the ministry not to screw up
under Fudge. His victory in the last election in 1990 had been an
unpleasant surprise, but his plans hadn't been that different under
Those plans had been going very smoothly until a certain winter day
in 1988 when a Muggle school nurse visited two Muggle dentists with a
decidedly non-Muggle boy.
Dumbledore hadn't seen Harry once since the beginning of term, except
for when they were at meals together. Therefore, this meeting
promised not to be a pleasant one.
On his way to the meeting, Harry had been told to be cautious in
asking questions of the Headmaster. He had been told that Dumbledore
wasn't someone that you casually angered, even if he was keeping
property and the truth from you.
Then Harry took one look at Dumbledore grinning behind his desk,
asking silkily how Harry was feeling, and he immediately forgot his
"Why didn't you give me my parents' cloak!?"
It took all of Sinistra's self-control to keep from slapping herself,
Dumbledore sat silently for at least a minute before he spoke.
"Because I didn't see a need. You are too young to learn about the
stories of your parents..."
"That's not a good enough answer, Albus," said McGonagall
shortly. "Surely we could have told him something. Surely, he could
have had some exposure to the Magical World. He's still shorter and
smaller than James was at his age; don't you think there might be a
reason for that?"
"He's told us about the way the Dursleys treated him, Albus,"
Trelawney said quietly. "If he was such a hero, we had an obligation
to ask about him every once in a while. I'm beating off reporters
with sticks to keep them from Hermione-" who blushed- "and all she
did was win a game."
Dumbledore again sat quietly for a minute. Then he got up, slowly
made his way to a closet, and removed a shimmering silvery
cloak. "You are right, Harry. This cloak does belong to you, by all
rights. You should have it now. Use it well." Dumbledore had
decided that the fastest way out of this conversation was to agree to
And he was right. "Thank you," Harry said stiffly.
"You did the right thing today, Albus, but don't think that we won't
want answers to our other questions one of these days," said Minerva.
Dumbledore agreed, glad that "one of these days" apparently would not
On their way down, Harry asked Sinistra if she was mad at him.
Sinistra sighed and said, "That wasn't how I'd have asked the
question... but maybe it was the best way after all. Maybe
confrontation is necessary, but I don't know if we're ready for the
big fight just yet."
And Dumbledore decided that Fudge might need to stay Minister after
all. He had some friends at the Prophet, who could write some
flattering articles. Teamwork is very important, after all; it
gives your opponents other people to shoot at.
That was the state of play as the Harem-Ravenclaw game approached.